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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
Birds of Passage.
i. COME I GRU VAN CANTANDO LOR LAI, FACENDO IN AER DI SE LUNGA RIGA, -Dante.
In that building long and low,
Like the port-holes of a hulk, Human spiders spin and spin, Backward down their threads so thin,
Dropping, each, a hempen bulk.
Light the long and dusky lane;
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
And a weary look of care.
Drawing water from a well;
As at some magician's spell.
Then an old man in a tower
While the rope coils round and round,
Almost lifts him from the ground,
Laughter and indecent mirth;
Blow, and sweep it from the earth!
And an eager, upward look;
And an angler by a brook.
Anchors dragged through faithless sand;-
Sailors feeling for the land.
In that building long and low;
And the spinners backward go.
THE WARDEN OF THE CINQUE PORTS. A Mist was driving down the British Channel,
The day was just begun,
Streamed the red autumn sun.
And the white sails of ships;
Hailed it with feverish lips.
Were all alert that day,
When the fog cleared away.