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Truly the only tongue that is understood by a savage
Must be the tongue of fire that speaks from the mouth of the cannon!”
Thereupon answered and said the excellent Elder of Plymouth,
Somewhat amazed and alarmed at this irreverent language :
“ Not so thought Saint Paul, nor yet the other Apostles :
Not from the cannon's mouth were the tongues of fire they spake with!”
But unheeded fell this mild rebuke on the Captain,
Who had advanced to the table, and thus continued discoursing :
“ Leave this matter to me, for to me by right it pertaineth.
War is a terrible trade; but in the cause that is righteous,
Sweet is the smell of powder; and thus I answer the challenge !"
Then from the rattlesnake's skin, with a sudden, contemptuous
gesture, Jerking the Indian arrows, he filled it with powder and bullets Full to the very jaws, and handed it back to the savage, Saying, in thundering tones : “ Here, take it ! this is your answer ! ” Silently out of the room then glided the glistening savage, Bearing the serpent's skin, and seeming himself like a serpent, Winding his sinuous way in the dark to the depths of the forest.
THE SAILING OF THE MAY FLOWER.
Just in the gray of the dawn, as the mists uprose from the meadows,
There was a stir and a sound in the slumbering village of Plymouth ;
Clanging and clicking of arms, and the order imperative, “Forward !”
Given in tone suppressed, a tramp of feet, and then silence.
Figures ten, in the mist, marched slowly out of the village.
Standish the stalwart it was, with eight of his valorous army,
Led by their Indian guide, by Hobomok, friend of the white men,
Northward marching to quell the sudden revolt of the savage.
Giants they seemed in the mist, or the mighty men of King David ;
Giants in heart they were, who believed in God and the Bible, -
Ay, who believed in the smiting of Midianites and Philistines.
Over them, gleamed far off the crimson banners of morning ;
Under them loud on the sands, the serried billows, advancing,
Fired along the line, and in regular order retreated.
Many a mile had they marched, when at length the village of
Woke from its sleep, and arose, intent on its manifold labors.
Sweet was the air and soft; and slowly the smoke from the chimneys
Rose over roofs of thatch, and pointed steadily eastward ;
Men came forth from the doors, and paused and talked of the weather,
Said that the wind had changed, and was blowing fair for the May
Talked of their Captain's departure, and all the dangers that menaced,
He being gone, the town, and what should be done in his absence.
Merrily sang the birds, and the tender voices of women
Consecrated with hymns the common cares of the household.
Out of the sea rose the sun, and the billows rejoiced at his coming ;
Beautiful were his feet on the purple tops of the mountains ;
Beautiful on the sails of the May Flower riding at anchor,
Battered and blackened and worn by all the storms of the winter.
Loosely against her masts was hanging and flapping her canvas,
Rent by so many gales, and patched by the hands of the sailors.
Suddenly from her side, as the sun rose over the ocean,
Darted a puff of smoke, and floated seaward ; anon rang
Loud over field and forest the cannon's roar, and the echoes
Heard and repeated the sound, the signal-gun of departure !
Ah! but with louder echoes replied the hearts of the people!
Meekly, in voices subdued, the chapter was read from the Bible,
Meekly the prayer was begun, but ended in fervent entreaty !
Then from their houses in haste came forth the Pilgrims of Plymouth,
Men and women and children, all hurrying down to the sea-shore,
Eager, with tearful eyes, to say farewell to the May Flower,
Homeward bound o’er the sea, and leaving them here in the desert. .
Foremost among them was Alden. All night he had lain without
slumber, Turning and tossing about in the heat and unrest of his fever. He had beheld Miles Standish, who came back late from the council, Stalking into the room, and heard him mutter and murmur, Sometimes it seemed a prayer, and sometimes it sounded like swearing. Once he had come to the bed, and stood there a moment in silence ;
Then he had turned away, and said : “ I will not awake him ;
Let him sleep on, it is best ; for what is the use of more talking ! ”
Then he extinguished the light, and threw himself down on his pallet,
Dressed as he was, and ready to start at the break of the morning,
Covered himself with the cloak he had worn in his campaigns in
Slept as a soldier sleeps in his bivouac, ready for action.
But with the dawn he arose ; in the twilight Alden beheld him
Put on his corslet of steel, and all the rest of his armor,
Buckle about his waist his trusty blade of Damascus,
Take from the corner his musket, and so stride out of the chamber.
Often the heart of the youth had burned and yearned to embrace him,
Often his lips had essayed to speak, imploring for pardon ;
All the old friendship came back, with its tender and grateful emotions ;
But his pride overmastered the nobler nature within him,-
Pride, and the sense of his wrong, and the burning fire of the insult.
So he beheld his friend departing in anger, but spake not,
Saw him go forth to danger, perhaps to death, and he spake not !
Then he arose from his bed, and heard what the people were saying,
Joined in the talk at the door, with Stephen and Richard and Gilbert,
Joined in the morning prayer, and in the reading of Scripture,
And, with the others, in haste went hurrying down to the sea-shore,
Down to the Plymouth Rock, that had been to their feet as a door-step
Into a world unknown,—the corner-stone of a nation !