Imágenes de páginas
PDF

Softly the youth and the maiden repeated the words of betrothal, Taking each other for husband and wife in the Magistrate's

presence, After the Puritan way, and the laudable custom of Holland. Fervently then, and devoutly, the excellent Elder of Plymouth Prayed for the hearth and the home, that were founded that day

in affection, Speaking of life and of death, and imploring divine benedictions.

Lo! when the service was ended, a form appeared on the threshold, Clad in armour of steel, å sombre and sorrowful figure! Why does the bridegroom start and stare at the strange apparition? Why does the bride turn pale and hide her face on his shoulder? Is it a phantom of air,--a bodiless, spectral illusion? Is it a ghost from a grave, that has come to forbid the betrothal ? Long had it stood there unseen, a guest uninvited, unwelcomed; Over its clouded eyes there had passed at times an expression Softening the gloom and revealing the warm heart hidden beneath

them, As when across the sky the driving rack of the rain-cloud Grows for a moment thin, and betrays the sun by its brightness. Once it had lifted its hand, and moved its lips, but was silent, As if an iron will had mastered the fleeting intention. But when were ended the troth and the prayer and the last bene

diction, Into the room it strode, and the people beheld with amazement Bodily there in his armour Miles Standish, the Captain of

Plymouth! Grasping the bridegroom's hand, he said with emotion, “Forgiveme! I have been angry and hurt,—too long have I cherished the

feeling; I have been cruel and hard, but now, thank God ! it is ended. Mine is the same hot blood that leaped in the veins of Hugh

Standish, Sensitive, swift to resent, but as swift in atoning for error. Never so much as now was Miles Standish the friend of John

Alden." Thereupon answered the bridegroom : “Let all be forgotten

between us,All save the dear old friendship, and that shall grow older and

dearer!” Then the Captain advanced, and, bowing, saluted Priscilla, Gravely, and after the manner of old-fashioned gentry in England, Something of camp and of court, of town and of country,

commingled, Wishing her joy of her wedding, and loudly lauding her husband. Then he said with a smile: “I should have remembered the

adage, If you would be well served, you must serve yourself: and moreover, No man can gather cherries in Kent at the season of Christmas!"

Great was the people's amazement, and greater yet their rejoicing, Thus to behold once more the sunburnt face of their Captain, Whom they had mourned as dead; and they gathered and crowded

about him, Eager to see him and hear him, forgetful of bride and of bridegroom, Questioning, answering, laughing, and each interrupting the other, Til the good Captain declared, being quite overpowered and

bewildered, He had rather by far break into an Indian encampment, Than come again to a wedding to which he had not been invited.

Meanwhile the bridegroom went forth and stood with the bride

at the doorway, Breathing the perfumed air of that warm and beautiful morning. Touched with autumnal tints, but lonely and sad in the sunshine, Lay extended before them the land of toil and privation; There were the graves of the dead, and the barren waste of the

sea-shore, There the familiar fields, the groves of pine, and the meadows; But to their eyes transfigured, it seemed as the Garden of Eden, Filled with the presence of God, whose voice was the sound of the

ocean. Soon was their vision disturbed by the noise and stir of departure, Friends coming forth from the house, and impatient of longer

delaying, Each with his plan for the day, and the work that was left

uncompleted. Then from a stall near at hand, amid exclamations of wonder, Alden the thoughtful, the careful, so happy, so proud of Priscilla, Brought out his snow-white steer, obeying the hand of its master, Led by a cord that was tied to an iron ring in its nostrils, Covered with crimson cloth, and a cushion placed for a saddle. She should not walk, he said, through the dust and heat of the

noonday; Nay, she should ride like a queen, not plod along like a peasant. Somewhat alarmed at first, but reassured by the others, Placing her hand on the cushion, her foot in the hand of her husband, Gaily, with joyous laugh, Priscilla mounted her palfrey. “Nothing is wanting now," he said, with a smile, “but the

distaff; Then you would be in truth my queen, my beautiful Bertha!"

Onward the bridal procession now moved to their new habitation, Happy husband and wife, and friends conversing together. Pleasantly murmured the brook, as they crossed the ford in the

forest, Pleased with the image that passed, like a dream of love, througla

its bosom, Tremulous, floating in air, o'er the depths of the azure abysses.

Down through the golden leaves the sun was pouring his splen

dours, Gleaming on purple grapes, that, from branches above them

suspended, Mingled their odorous breath with the balm of the pine and the

fir-tree, Wild and sweet as the clusters that grew in the valley of Eschol. Like a picture it seemed of the primitive, pastoral ages, Fresh with the youth of the world, and recalling Rebecca and Isaac, Old and yet ever new, and simple and beautiful always, Love immortal and young in the endless succession of lovers. So through the Plymouth woods passed onward the bridal

procession.

Birds of Passage.

i. COME I GRU VAN CANTANDO LOR LAI, FACENDO IN AER DI SE LUNGA RIGA, -Dante.

THE ROPE-WALK.

In that building long and low,
With its windows all a row,

Like the port-holes of a hulk, Human spiders spin and spin, Backward down their threads so thin,

Dropping, each, a hempen bulk.
At the end an open door;
Squares of sunshine on the floor

Light the long and dusky lane;
And the whirling of a wheel,
Dull and drowsy, makes me feel

All its spokes are in my brain. As the spinners to the end Downward go and re-ascend,

Gleam the long threads in the sun; While within this brain of mine Cobwebs brighter and more fine

By the busy wheel are spun. Two fair maidens in a swing, Like white doves upon the wing,

First before my vision pass; Laughing, as their gentle hands Closely clasp the twisted strands,

At their shadow on the grass. Then a booth of mountebanks, With its smell of tan and planks,

And a girl poised high in air
On a cord, in spangled dress,
With a faded loveliness,

And a weary look of care.
Then a homestead among farms,
And a woman with bare arms,

Drawing water from a well;
As the bucket mounts apace,
With it mounts her own fair face,

As at some magician's spell.

Then an old man in a tower
Ringing loud the noontide hour,

While the rope coils round and round,
Like a serpent, at his feet,
And again in swift retreat

Almost lifts him from the ground,
Then within a prison-yard,
Faces fixed, and stern, and hard,

Laughter and indecent mirth;
Ah! it is the gallows-tree !
Breath of Christian charity,

Blow, and sweep it from the earth!
Then a schoolboy, with his kite,
Gleaming in a sky of light,

And an eager, upward look;
Steeds pursued through lane and field:
Fowlers with their snares concealed,

And an angler by a brook.
Ships rejoicing in the breeze,
Wrecks that float o'er unknown seas,

Anchors dragged through faithless sand;-
Sea-fog drifting overhead,
And with lessening line and lead

Sailors feeling for the land.
All these scenes do I behold,
These and many left untold,

In that building long and low;
While the wheels go round and round
With a drowsy, dreamy sound,

And the spinners backward go.

THE WARDEN OF THE CINQUE PORTS. A Mist was driving down the British Channel,

The day was just begun,
And through the window-panes, on floor and panel,

Streamed the red autumn sun.
It glanced on flowing flag and rippling pennon,

And the white sails of ships;
And, from the frowning rampart, the black cannon

Hailed it with feverish lips.
Sandwich and Romney, Hastings, Hythe and Dover,

Were all alert that day,
To see the French war-steamers speeding over,

When the fog cleared away.

« AnteriorContinuar »