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Title: A Pilgrim Maid - A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620
Author: Taggart, Marion Ames, 1866-1945
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A PILGRIM MAID

A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620

[Illustration: "Constance opened the door, stepping back to let the
bride precede her"]



   A PILGRIM MAID

   _A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620_

   BY
   MARION AMES TAGGART

   AUTHOR OF
   "CAPTAIN SYLVIA," "THE DAUGHTERS OF THE
   LITTLE GREY HOUSE," "THE LITTLE GREY
   HOUSE," "HOLLYHOCK HOUSE," ETC.


   ILLUSTRATED
   BY
   THE DONALDSONS


   DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
   GARDEN CITY NEW YORK LONDON
   1920



   COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
   DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
   ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, INCLUDING THAT OF
   TRANSLATION INTO FOREIGN LANGUAGES,
   INCLUDING THE SCANDINAVIAN



   DEDICATED
   TO
   YOU, MY DEAR
   WHO SO WELL KNOW WHY



PREFACE


This story is like those we hear of our neighbours to-day: it is a
mixture of fact and fancy.

The aim in telling it has been to present Plymouth Colony as it was in
its first three years of existence; to keep to possibilities, even while
inventing incidents.

Actual events have been transferred from a later to an earlier year when
they could be made useful, to bring them within the story's compass, and
to develop it.

For instance, John Billington was lost for five days and died early, but
not as early as in the story. Stephen Hopkins was fined for allowing
his servants to play shovelboard, but this did not happen till some time
later than 1622. Stephen Hopkins was twice married; records show that
there was dissension; that the second wife tried to get an inheritance
for her own children, to the injury of the son and daughter of the first
wife. Facts of this sort are used, enlarged upon, construed to cause, or
altered to suit, certain results.

But there is fidelity to the general trend of events, above all to the
spirit of Plymouth in its beginnings. As far as may be, the people who
have been transferred into the story act in accordance with what is
known of the actual bearers of these names.

There was a Maid of Plymouth, Constance Hopkins, who came in the
_Mayflower_, with her father Stephen; her stepmother, Eliza; her
brother, Giles, and her little half-sister and brother, Damaris and
Oceanus, and to whom the _Anne_, in 1623, brought her husband,
Honourable Nicholas Snowe, afterward one of the founders of Eastham,
Massachusetts.

Undoubtedly the real Constance Hopkins was sweeter than the story can
make her, as a living girl must be sweeter than one created of paper and
ink. Yet it is hoped that this Plymouth Maid, Constance, of the story,
may also find friends.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                        PAGE

I. With England's Shores Left Far Astern         3

II. To Buffet Waves and Ride on Storms          15

III. Weary Waiting at the Gates                 31

IV. The First Yuletide                          45

V. The New Year in the New Land                 61

VI. Stout Hearts and Sad Ones                   76

VII. The Persuasive Power of Justice
and Violence                                    90

VIII. Deep Love, Deep Wound                    104

IX. Seedtime of the First Spring               119

X. Treaties                                    133

XI. A Home Begun and a Home Undone             150

XII. The Lost Lads                             166

XIII. Sundry Herbs and Simples                 183

XIV. Light-Minded Man, Heavy-Hearted Master    199

XV. The "Fortune" That Sailed, First West,
then East                                      216

XVI. A Gallant Lad Withal                      234

XVII. The Well-Conned Lesson                   251

XVIII. Christmas Wins, Though Outlawed         267

XIX. A Fault Confessed, Thereby Redressed      284

XX. The Third Summer's Garnered Yield          302



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"Constance opened the door, stepping back to let
the bride precede her"                             _Frontispiece_
(_See page 157_)

                                                    FACING PAGE

"'Constantia; confess, confess--and do not try
to shield thy wicked brother'"                           52

"'Look there,' said John Alden"                         116

"'You look splendid, my Knight of the Wilderness'"      244



    A PILGRIM MAID

    A Story of Plymouth Colony in 1620



_A PILGRIM MAID_



CHAPTER I

With England's Shores Left Far Astern


A young girl, brown-haired, blue-eyed, with a sweet seriousness that was
neither joy nor sorrow upon her fair pale face, leaned against the mast
on the _Mayflower's_ deck watching the bustle of the final preparations
for setting sail westward.

A boy somewhat older than she stood beside her whittling an arrow from a
bit of beechwood, whistling through his teeth, his tongue pressed
against them, a livelier air than a pilgrim boy from Leyden was supposed
to know, and sullenly scorning to betray interest in the excitement
ashore and aboard.

A little girl clung to the pretty young girl's skirt; the unlikeness
between them, though they were sisters, was explained by their being but
half sisters. Little Damaris was like her mother, Constance's
stepmother, while Constance herself reflected the delicate loveliness of
her own and her brother Giles's mother, dead in early youth and lying
now at rest in a green English churchyard while her children were
setting forth into the unknown.

Two boys--one older than Constance, Giles's age, the other younger than
the girl--came rushing down the deck with such impetuosity, plus the
younger lad's head used as a battering ram, that the men at work stowing
away hampers and barrels, trying to clear a way for the start, gave
place to the rough onslaught.

Several looked after the pair in a way that suggested something more
vigorous than a look had it not been that fear of the pilgrim leaders
restrained swearing. Not a whit did the charging lads care for the wrath
they aroused. The elder stopped himself by clutching the rope which
Constance Hopkins idly swung, while the younger caught Giles around the
waist and nearly pulled him over.

"I'll teach you manners, you young savage, Francis Billington!" growled
Giles, but he did not mean it, as Francis well knew.

"If I'm a savage I'll be the only one of us at home in America,"
chuckled the boy.

"Getting ready an arrow for the savage?" he added.

"It's all decided. There's been the greatest to-do ashore. Why didn't
you come off the ship to see the last of 'em, Constance?" interrupted
the older boy. Constance Hopkins shook her head, sadly.

"Nay, then, John, I've had my fill of partings," she said. "Are they
gone back, those we had to leave behind?"

"That have they!" cried John Billington. "Some of them were sorry to
miss the adventure, but if truth were told some were glad to be well out
of it, and with no more disgrace in setting back than that the
_Mayflower_ could not hold us all. Well, they've missed danger and maybe
death, but I'd not be out of it for a king's ransom. Giles, what do you
think is whispered? That the _Speedwell_ could make the voyage as well
as the _Mayflower_, though she be smaller, if only she carried less
sail, and that her leaking is--a greater leak in her master Reynolds's
truth, and that she'd be seaworthy if he'd let her!"

"Cur!" growled Giles Hopkins. "He knows he'd have to stay with his ship
in the wilderness a year it might be and there's better comfort in
England and Holland! We're well rid of him if he's that kind of a
coward. I wondered myself if he was up to a trick when we put in the
first time, at Dartmouth. This time when we made Plymouth I smelled a
rat certain. Are we almost loaded?"

"Yes. They've packed all the provisions from the _Speedwell_ into the
_Mayflower_ that she will hold. We'll be off soon. Not too soon! The
sixth day of September, and we a month dallying along the shore because
of the _Speedwell's_ leaking! Constantia, you'll be cold before we make
a fire in the New World I'm thinking!"

John Billington chuckled as if the cold of winter in the wilderness were
a merry jest.

"Cold, and maybe hungry, and maybe ill of body and sick of heart, but
never quite losing courage, I hope, John, comrade!" Constance said,
looking up with a smile and a flush that warmed her white cheeks from
which heavy thoughts had driven their usual soft colour.

"No fear! You're the kind that says little and does much," said John
Billington with surprising sharpness in a lad that never seemed to have
a thought to spare for anything but madcap pranks.

"Here come Father, and the captain, and dear John," said little Damaris.

Stephen Hopkins was a strong-built man, with a fire in his eye, and an
air of the world about him, in spite of his severe Puritan garb, that
declared him different from most of his comrades of the Leyden community
of English exiles.

With all her likeness to her dead English girl-mother, who was gentle
born and well bred, there was something in Constance as she stood now,
head up and eyes bright, that was also like her father.

Beside Mr. Hopkins walked a thick-set man, a soldier in every motion and
look, with little of the Puritan in his air, and just behind them came a
young man, far younger than either of the others, with an open, pleasant
English face, and an expression at once shy and friendly.

"Oh, dear John Alden!" cried little Damaris, and forsook Constance's
skirt for John Alden's ready arms which raised her to his shoulder.

Giles Hopkins's gloom lifted as he returned Captain Myles Standish's
salute.

"Yes, Captain; I'm ready enough to sail," he said, answering the
captain's question.

"Mistress Constantia?" suggested Myles Standish.

"Is there doubt of it when we've twice put in from sea, and were ready
to sail when we left Southampton a month ago?" asked Constance. "Sure we
are ready, Captain Standish, as you well know. Where is Mistress Rose?"

"In the women's cabin with Mistress Hopkins putting to rights their
belongings as fast as they can before we weigh anchor, and get perhaps
stood on our heads by winds and waves," Captain Standish smiled. "Though
the wind is fine for us now." His face clouded. "Mistress Rose is a
frail rose, Con! They will be coming on deck to see the start."

"The voyage may give sweet Rose new strength, Captain Standish,"
murmured Constance coming close to the captain and slipping her hand
into his, for she was his prime favourite and his lovely, frail young
wife's chosen friend, in spite of the ten years difference in their
ages.

"Ah, Con, my lass, God grant it, but I'm sore afraid for her! How can
she buffet the exposure of a wilderness winter, and--hush! Here they
are!" whispered Myles Standish.

Mistress Eliza Hopkins was tall, bony, sinewy of build, with a dark,
strong face, determination and temper in her eye. Rose Standish was her
opposite--a slight, pale, drooping creature not more than five years
above twenty; patience, suffering in her every motion, and clinging
affection in every line of her gentle face.

Constance ran to wind her arm around her as Rose came up and slipped one
little hand into her husband's arm.

Mrs. Hopkins frowned.

"It likes me not to see you so forward with caresses, Constantia," she
said, and her voice rasped like the ship's tackles as the sailors got up
the canvas.

"It is not becoming in the elect whose hearts are set upon heavenly
things to fawn upon creatures, nor make unmaidenly displays."

Giles kicked viciously at the rope which Constance had held. It was not
hard to guess that the unnatural gloom, the sullenness that marked a boy
meant by Nature to be pleasant, was due to bad blood between him and
this aggressive stepmother, who plainly did not like him.

"Oh, Mistress Hopkins," cried Constance, flushing, "why do you think it
is wrong to be loving? Never can I believe God who made us with warm
hearts, and gave us such darlings as Rose Standish, didn't want us to
love and show our love."

"You are much too free with your irreverence, Mistress Constantia; it
becomes you not to proclaim your Maker's opinions and desires for his
saints," said Mrs. Hopkins, frowning heavily.

"'Sdeath, Eliza, will you never let the girl alone?" cried Stephen
Hopkins, angrily.

"As though we had nothing to think of in weighing anchor and leaving
England for ever--and for what else besides, who knows--without carping
at a little girl's loving natural ways to an older girl whom she loves?
I agree with Connie; it's good to sweeten life with affection."

"Connie, forsooth!" echoed Mrs. Hopkins, bitterly. "Are we to use
meaningless titles for young women setting forth to found a kingdom? And
do you still use the oaths of worldlings, as you did just now? Oh,
Stephen Hopkins, may you not be found unworthy of your high calling and
invoke the wrath of Heaven upon your family!"

Stephen Hopkins looked ready to burst out into hot wrath, but Myles
Standish gave him a humorous glance, and shrugged his shoulders.

"What would you?" he seemed to say. "Old friend, bad temper seizes every
opportunity to wreak itself, and we who have seen the world can afford
to let the women fume. Jealousy is a worse vice than an oath of the
Stuart reign."

Stephen Hopkins harkened to this unspoken philosophy; Myles Standish had
great influence over him. This, with the rapid gathering on deck of the
rest of the pilgrims, served to avert what threatened to be an explosion
of pardonable wrath. They came crowding up from the cabins, this
courageous band of determined men and women, and gathered silently to
look their last on home, and not merely on home, but on the comforts of
the established life which to many among them were necessary to their
existence.

There were many children, sober little men and women, in unchildlike
caricatures of their elders' garb and with solemn round faces looking
scared by the gravity around them.

Priscilla Mullins gathered the children together and led them over to
join Constance Hopkins. She and Constance divided the love of the child
pilgrims between them. Priscilla, round of face, smooth and rosy of
cheek, wholesome and sensible, was good to look upon. It often happened
that her duty brought her near to wherever John Alden might chance to
be, but no one had ever suspected that John objected.

John Alden had been taken on as cooper from Southampton when the
_Mayflower_ first sailed. It was not certain that the pilgrims could
keep him with them. Already they had learned to value him, and many a
glance was now exchanged that told the hope that sunny little Priscilla
might help to hold the young man on this hard expedition.

The crew of the _Mayflower_ pulled up her sails, but without the usual
sailor songs. Silently they pulled, working in unison to the sharp words
of command uttered by their officers, till every shred of canvas, under
which they were to set forth under a favouring wind, was strained into
place and set.

On the shore was gathered a crowd gazing, wondering, at this departure.
Some there were who were to have been of the company in the lesser ship,
the _Speedwell_, which had been remanded from the voyage as unfit for
it. These lingered to see the setting forth for the New World which was
not to be their world, after all.

There were many who gazed, pityingly, awe-struck, but bewildered by the
spirit that led these severe-looking people away from England first, and
then from Holland, to try their fortunes where no fortune promised.

Others there were who laughed merrily over the absurdity of the quest,
and these called all sorts of jests and quips to the pilgrims on the
ship, inviting to a contest of wit which the pilgrims utterly disdained.

And then the by-standers on wharf and sands of old Plymouth became
silent, for, as the _Mayflower_ began to move out from her dock, there
arose the solemn chant of a psalm.

The air was wailing, lugubrious, unmusical, but the words were awesome.

"When Israel went out from Egypt, from the land of a strange people,"
they were singing.

"A strange people!" And these pilgrims were of English blood, and this
was England which they were thus renouncing!

What curious folk these were!

But this psalm was followed by another: "The Lord is my shepherd."

Ah, that was another matter! No one who heard them, however slight the
sympathy felt for this unsympathetic band, but hoped that the Lord would
shepherd them, "lead them beside still waters," for the sea might well
be unquiet.

"Oh, poor creatures, poor creatures," said a buxom woman, snuggling her
baby's head into her deep shoulder, and wiping her own eyes with her
apron. "I fain must pity 'em, that I must, though I'm none too lovin'
myself toward their queer dourness. But I hope the Lord will shepherd
'em; sore will they need it, I'm thinkin', yonder where there's no
shepherds nor flocks, but only wild men to cut them down like we do haw
for the church, as they all thinks is wicked!" she mourned, motherly
yearning toward the people going out the harbour like babes in the wood,
into no one would dare say what awful fate.

The pilgrims stood with their faces set toward England, with England
tugging at their heart strings, as the strong southeasterly wind filled
the _Mayflower's_ canvas and pulled at her shrouds.

And as they sailed away the monotonous chant of the psalms went on,
floating back to England, a farewell and a prophecy.

Rose Standish's tears were softly falling and her voice was silent, but
Constance Hopkins chanted bravely, and the children joined her with
Priscilla Mullins's strong contralto upholding them.

Even Giles sang, and the two scamps of Billington boys looked serious
for once, and helped the chant.

Myles Standish raised his soldier's hat and turned to Stephen Hopkins,
holding out his right hand.

"We're fairly off this time, friend Stephen," he said. "God speed us."

"Amen, Captain Myles, for else we'll speed not, returned Stephen
Hopkins.

"Oh, Daddy, we're together anyway!" cried Constance, with one of her
sudden bursts of emotion which her stepmother so severely condemned, and
she threw herself on her father's breast.

Mr. Hopkins did not share his wife's view of his beloved little girl's
demonstrativeness. He patted her head gently, tucking a stray wisp of
hair under her Puritan cap.

"There, there, my child, there, there, Connie! Surely we're together and
shall be. So it can't be a wilderness for us, can it?" he said.

An hour later, the wind still favouring, the _Mayflower_ dropped
sunsetward, out of old Plymouth Harbour.



CHAPTER II

To Buffet Waves and Ride on Storms


The wind held fair, the golden September weather waited on each new day
at its rising and sent it at its close, radiantly splendid, into the sea
ahead of the _Mayflower_ as she swept westward.

Full canvas hoisted she was able to sail at her best speed under the
favouring conditions so that the hopeful young people whom she carried
talked confidently of the houses they would build, the village they
would found before heavy frosts. Captain Myles Standish, always
impetuous as any of the boys, was one of those who let themselves forget
there were such things as storms.

"We'll be New Englishmen at this rate before we fully realize we've left
home; what do you say, my lassies three?" he demanded, pausing in a
rapid stride of the deck before Constance Hopkins and two young girls
who were her own age, but seemed much younger, Humility Cooper and her
cousin, Elizabeth Tilley.

"What do you three mermaidens in this forward nook each morning?"
Captain Standish went on without waiting for a reply to his first
question, which indeed, he had not asked to have it answered.

"Elizabeth's mother, Mistress John Tilley, is sick and declares that she
shall die," said Constance, Humility and Elizabeth being shyly silent
before the captain.

"No one ever thought to live through sea-sickness, nor wanted to,"
declared Captain Myles with his hearty laugh. "Yet no one dies of it,
that is certain. And is Mistress Ann Tilley also lain down and left
Humility to the mercy of the dolphins? And is your stepmother, too, Con,
a victim? It's a calm sea we've been having by comparison. I've sailed
from England into France when there _was_ a sea running, certes! But
this--pooh!"

"Humility's cousin, Mistress Ann Tilley, is not ill, nor my stepmother,
Captain Standish, but they are attending to those who are, and to the
children. Father says that when he sailed for Virginia, before my mother
died, meaning to settle there, that the storm that wrecked them on
Bermuda Island and kept us from being already these eleven years
colonists in the New World, was a wind and sea that make this seem no
more than the lake at the king's palace, where the swans float."

Constance looked up smiling at the captain as she answered, but he noted
that her eyes were swollen from tears.

"Take a turn with me along the deck, child," Captain Myles said,
gruffly, and held out a hand to steady Constance on her feet.

"Now, what was it?" he asked, lightly touching the young girl's cheek
when they had passed beyond the hearing of Constance's two demure little
companions. "Homesick, my lass?"

"Heartsick, rather, Captain Myles," said Constance, with a sob.
"Mistress Hopkins hates me!"

"Oh, fie, Connie, how could she?" asked the captain, lightly, but he
scowled angrily. There was much sympathy between him and Stephen
Hopkins, neither of whom agreed with the extreme severity of most of
the pilgrims; they both had seen the world and looked at life from their
wider experience.

Captain Standish knew that Giles's and Constance's mother had been the
daughter of an old and honourable family, with all the fine qualities of
mind and soul that should be the inheritance of gentle breeding. He knew
how it had come about that Stephen Hopkins had married a second time a
woman greatly her inferior, whose jealousy of the first wife's children
saddened their young lives and made his own course hard and unpleasant.
Prone to speak his mind and fond of Giles and Constance, the impetuous
captain often found it hard to keep his tongue between his teeth when
Dame Eliza indulged in her favourite game of badgering, persecuting her
stepchildren. Now, when he said: "Fie, how could she?" Constance looked
up at him with a forlorn smile. She knew the captain was quite aware
that her stepmother could, and did dislike her, and she caught the anger
in his voice.

"How could she not, dear Captain Myles?" she asked. Then, with her
pent-up feeling overmastering her, she burst out sobbing.

"Oh, you know she hates, she hates me, Captain!" she cried. "Nothing I
can do is pleasing to her. I take care of Damaris--sure I love my little
sister, and do not remember the half that is not my sister in her! And
I wait on Mistress Hopkins, and sew, and do her bidding, and I do not
answer her cruel taunts, nor do I go to my father complaining; but she
hates me. Is it fair? Could I help it that my father loved my own
mother, and married her, and that she was a lovely and accomplished
lady?"

"Do you want to help it, if by helping you mean altering, Connie?" asked
Captain Myles, with a twinkle. "No, child, you surely cannot help all
these things which come by no will of yours, but by the will of God. And
I am your witness that you are ever patient and dutiful. Bear as best
you can, sweet Constantia, and by and by the wrong will become right, as
right in the end is ever strongest. I cannot endure to see your young
eyes wet with tears called out by unkindness. There is enough and to
spare of hard matters to endure for all of us on this adventure not to
add to it what is not only unnecessary, but unjust. Cheer up, Con, my
lass! It's a long lane--in England!--that has no turning, and it's a
long voyage on the seas that ends in no safe harbour! And do you know,
Connie girl, that there's soon to be a turn in this bright weather?
There's a feeling of change and threatening in this soft wind."

Constance wiped her eyes and smiled, knowing that the captain wished to
lead her into other themes than her own troubles, the discussion of
which was, after all, useless.

"I don't know about the weather, except the weather I'm having," she
said. "Ah, I don't want it to storm, not on the mid-seas, Captain
Myles."

"Aye, but it's the mid-seas of the year, Connie, when the days and
nights are one in length, and at that time old wise men say a storm is
usually forthcoming. We'll weather it, never fear! If we are bearing
westward a great hope and mission as we all believe--not I in precisely
the same fashion as these stricter saints, but in my own way no
less--then we are sure to reach our goal, my dear," said the captain
cheerfully.

"Sometimes I lose faith; I think I am wicked," sighed Constance.

"We are all poor miserable sinners! Even the English Church which we
have cast off and consigned to perdition, puts that confession into our
mouths," said Captain Myles, with another twinkle, and was gratified
that Constance's laugh rang out in response to his thinly veiled
mischief.

Captain Standish proved to be a true prophet. On the second day after he
had announced to Constance the coming change in weather it came. The
_Mayflower_ ran into a violent storm, seas and wind were wild, the small
ship tossed on the crest of billows and plunged down into the chasm
between them as they reared high above her till it seemed impossible
that she should hold together, far less hold her course.

In truth she did not hold to her course, but fell off it before the
storm, groaning in every beam as if with fearful grief at her own
danger, and at the likelihood of destroying by her destruction the hope,
the tremendous mission which she bore within her.

The women and children cowered below in their crowded quarters--lacking
air, space, every comfort--numb with the misery of sickness and the
threat of imminent death.

Constance Hopkins, young as she was, cheered and sustained her elders.
Like a mettlesome horse that throws up his head and puts forth renewed
strength when there rises before him a long steep mountain, Constance
laughed at fear, sang and jested, tenderly helping the sick, gathering
around her the children for story-telling and such quiet play as there
was room for. Little Damaris was sick and cross, but Constance comforted
her with unfailing patience, proving so motherly an elder sister than
even Mistress Eliza's jealous dislike for the girl melted when she saw
her so loving to the child.

"You are proving yourself a good girl, Constantia," she said, with
something like shame. "If I die you will look after Damaris and bring
her up as I would have done? Promise me this, for I know that you will
never break your word, and having it I can leave my child without
anxiety for her future."

"It needs no promise, Stepmother," said Constance. "Surely I would not
fail to do my best for my little sister. But if you want my word fully,
it is given you. I will try to be grown up and wise, and bring up
Damaris carefully if you should leave her. But isn't this silly talk!
You will not die. You will tell Damaris's little girls about your voyage
in the _Mayflower_, and laugh with them over how you talked of dying
when we were so tossed and tumbled, like a tennis ball struck by a
strong hand holding a big racquet, but unskilled at the game!" Constance
laughed but her stepmother frowned.

"Never shall I talk of games to my daughter," she said, "nor shall you,
if you take my place." Then she relented, recalling Constance's
unselfish kindness all these dark hours.

"But you have been a good girl, Constantia. Though I fear you are not
chastised in spirit as becomes one of our company of saints, yet have
you been patient and gentle in all ways, and a mother to Damaris and the
other small ones. I can do no less than say this and remember it," she
added.

Constance was white from weariness and the fear that she fought down
with merry chatter, but now a warm flush spread to her hair.

"Oh, Mistress Hopkins, if you would not hate me, if you would but think
me just a little worthy of kindly thoughts--for indeed I am not
wicked--the hardship of this voyage would be a cheap price to pay for
it! I would not be so unhappy as I am if, though you did not love me,
you would at least not hate me, nor mind that my father loved me--me and
Giles!" Constance cried passionately, trembling on the verge of tears.

Then she dashed her hand across her eyes as Giles might have done, and
laughed to choke down a sob.

"Priscilla! Priscilla Mullins, come! I need your help," she called.

"What to do, Constance?" asked Priscilla, edging her way from the other
end of the crowded cabin to the younger girl.

Priscilla looked blooming still, in spite of the conditions to dim her
bright colour.

Placid by nature, she did not fret over discomfort or danger. Trim and
neat, she was a pleasant sight among the distressed, pallid faces about
her, like a bit of English sky, a green English meadow, a warm English
hearth in the waste of waters that led to the waste of wintry
wilderness.

"What am I do to for thee, Constance?" Priscilla asked in her deep, alto
voice.

"Help me get these children up into the air in a sheltered nook on
deck," said Constance. "They are suffocating here."

"No, no!" cried two or three mothers. "They will be washed away,
Constantia."

"Not where we have been taking them these three days past," said
Priscilla. "Let me go first and get John Alden to prepare that nest of
sails and ropes he made so cleverly for us two days ago."

"What doesn't John Alden do cleverly?" murmured Constance, with a sly
glance. "Go then, Pris dear, but don't forget to hasten back to tell me
it is ready."

Priscilla did not linger. John Alden had gotten two others to help him,
and a safe shelter where the children could be packed to breathe the air
they sorely needed was ready when Priscilla came to ask for it. So
Priscilla hurried back and soon she and Constance had the little
pilgrims safely stowed, made comfortable, though Damaris feared the
great waves towering on every side and clung to Constance in desperate
faith.

"What is to do yonder?" asked Priscilla of John Alden, who after they
were settled came to see that everything was right with them.

"What are the men working upon?"

"I suppose it's no harm telling you now," said John Alden, "since they
are at work as you see, but the ship has been leaking badly, and one of
her main beams bowed and cracked, directly amidships. There has been the
next thing to mutiny among the sailors, who have no desire to go to the
bottom, and wanted to turn back. We have been in consultation and they
have growled and threatened, but we are half way over to the western
world so may as safely go on as to return. At last we got them to agree
to that and now they are mending the ship. We have aboard a great jack;
one of the passengers brought it out of Holland, luckily. What they are
doing yonder is jacking up that broken beam. The carpenter is going to
set a post under it in the lower deck, and calk the leaky upper parts,
and so we shall go on to America. The ship is staunch enough, we all
agree, if only we can hold her where she is strained. But you had no
idea of how near you were to going back, had you?"

"Oh, no!" cried Priscilla. "Almost am I tempted to wish we had
returned."

"No, no, no!" cried Constance. "No turning back! Storms, and savages,
and wilderness ahead, but no turning back!"

Damaris fell asleep on Constance's shoulder, and slept so deeply that
when Myles Standish, Stephen Hopkins, and John Alden came to help the
girls to get the children safely down again into their cabin she did not
waken, and Constance begged to be allowed to stay there with her,
letting her sleep in the strong air, for the child had troubled her
sister by her languor.

Cramped and aching Constance kept her place, Damaris's dead weight upon
her arm, till, after a long time, her father returned to her with a
moved face.

"Shift the child to my arm, Constance," he said, sitting beside her.
"You must be weary with your long vigil over her, my patient, sweet
Constance!"

"Oh, Father-daddy," cried Constance, quick tears springing to her eyes,
"what does it matter if you call me that? You will always love me, my
father?"

"Child, child, what aileth thee?" said Stephen Hopkins, gently. "Are you
not the very core of my heart, so like your lovely young mother that you
grip me at times with the pain of my joy in you and my sorrow for her.
The pilgrim brethren would not approve of such expressions of love, my
dear, yet I think God who gave me a father's heart and you a daughter's,
and taught us our duty to Him by the figure of His own Fatherhood,
cannot share that condemnation. All the world to me you shall be to the
end of my life, my Constance. But I came to tell you a great piece of
news. The _Mayflower_ has shipped another passenger, mid-seas though it
is."

Constance looked up questioningly.

"I have another son, Constance. The angels given charge of little
children saw him safely to us through the perils of the voyage. Do you
not think, as I do, that this child is like a promise to us of success
in the New World?"

"Yes, Father," said Constance, softly, sweet gravity upon her face, and
tears upon her lashes. "Will he be called Stephen?"

"Your stepmother wishes him named Oceanus, because of his sea-birth. Do
you like the name?" asked her father.

Constance shook her head. "Not a whit," she said, "for it sounds like a
heathen god, and that I do not like, though my stepmother is a stricter
Puritan than are you and I. I would love another Stephen Hopkins. But if
it must be Oceanus--well, I'll try to make it a smooth ocean for the
little fellow, his life with us, I mean."

"Shall we go below to see him? I will carry Damaris," said Mr. Hopkins,
rising, and offering Constance his hand, at the same time shifting her
burden to himself.

Damaris whined and burrowed into her father's shoulder, half waking.
Constance stumbled and fell laughing, to her knees, numb from long
sitting with the child's weight upon them.

At the door of the cabin they met Doctor Fuller, who paused to look long
and steadily at Constance.

"You have been saving me work, little mistress," he said, putting a hand
on her shoulder. "Your blithe courage has done more than my physic to
hold off serious trouble in yonder cabin, and your service of hands has
been as helpful. When we get to our new home will you accept the
position of physician's assistant? Will you be my cheerful little
partner, and let us be Samuel Fuller and Company, physicians and
surgeons to the worshipful company of pilgrims in the New World?"

Constance dropped a curtsey as well as the narrow space allowed. She, as
well as all the rest of the ship's company, loved and trusted this kind
young doctor who had left his wife and child to follow him later, and
was crossing the seas with the pilgrims as the minister to their
suffering bodies.

"Indeed, Doctor Fuller, I will accept the office, though it will make me
so proud that I shall be turned out of the community as unfit to be part
of it," she cried.

       *       *       *       *       *

There followed after this long days of bleak endurance, the cold
increasing, the storms raging. For days at a time the _Mayflower_ lay
to, stripped of all sail, floating in currents, thrown up on high,
driven nose down into an apparently bottomless pit, the least of man's
work cut off from man's natural life, left to herself in the desert of
waters, packed with the humanity that crowded her.

Yet through it all the men and women she bore did not lose heart, but
beneath the overwhelming misery of their condition kept alive the sense
of God's sustaining providence and personal direction.

Thus it was not strange that the little ship and her company proved
stronger than the wintry storms, that she survived and, once more
hoisting sail, kept on her westerly course.

It was November; for two months and more the _Mayflower_ had sailed and
drifted, but now there were signs that the hazardous voyage was nearly
over.

"Come on deck, Con! Come on deck!" shouted Giles Hopkins. "All hands on
deck for the first glimpse of land! They think 'twill soon be seen."

Pale, weak, but quivering with joy, the pilgrims gathered on the
_Mayflower's_ decks.

Rose Standish was but the shadow of her sweet self. Constance lingered
to give the final touches to Rose's toilette; they were all striving to
make some little festal appearance to their garments suitably to greet
the New World.

"I can hardly go up, dear Connie," murmured Rose. "The _Mayflower_ hath
taken all the vigour from this poor rose."

"When the mayflower goes, the rose blooms," said Constance. "Wait till
we get ashore and you are in your own warm, cozy home!"

Rose shook her head, but made an effort to greet Captain Myles brightly
as he came to help her to the deck.

"What land are we to see, Myles? Where are we?" she asked.

"Gosnold's country of Cape Cod, rose of the world," said Captain Myles.
"It lies just ahead. Have a care, Constance; don't trip. Here we are,
then!"

They took their places in a sheltered nook and waited. The Billington
boys had clambered high aloft and no one reproved them. Though their
pranks were always calling forth a reprimand from some one, this time no
one blamed them, but rather envied them for getting where they could see
land first of all.

Sharply Francis Billington's boyish voice rang out:

"Land! Land! Land!" he shouted.

It was but an instant before the entire company of pilgrims were on
their knees, sobbing, chanting, praising, each in his own way, the God
who had brought their pilgrimage to this end.

That night they tacked southward, looking for Hudson's river, but the
sea was so rough, the shoals around the promontories southward so
dangerous, that they gave over the quest and turned back.

The next day the sun shone with the brilliant glory of winter upon the
sea, and upon the low-lying coast, as the _Mayflower_ came into her
harbour.

"Father, it is the New World!" cried Constance, clasping her father's
arm in spite of the tiny _Mayflower_ baby which she held.

"The New World it is, friend Stephen. Now to conquer it!" said Myles
Standish, clapping Mr. Hopkins on the shoulder and touching his sword
hilt with the other hand.



CHAPTER III

Weary Waiting at the Gates


"Call Giles hither. I need help to strap these blankets to carry safely,
Mr. Hopkins," said Dame Eliza Hopkins, bustling up to her husband two
hours after the _Mayflower_ had made anchorage.

"To carry whither, wife?" asked Mr. Hopkins, with the amused smile that
always irritated his excitable wife by its detached calmness.

"Will you not need the blankets at night? Truth to tell this Cape Cod
air seems to me well fit for blankets."

"And for what other use should they be carried ashore? Or would they
keep us warm left on the ship?" demanded Mistress Eliza. "Truly, Stephen
Hopkins, you are a test of the patience of a saint!"

"Which needs no testing, since the patience of the saints has passed
into a proverb," commented Stephen Hopkins. "But with all humility I
would answer 'yes' to your question, _Eliza_: the blankets would surely
keep you warmer when on the ship than if they were ashore, since it is
on the ship that you are to remain."

"Remain! On the ship? For how long, pray? And why? Do you not think that
I have had enough and to spare of this ship after more than two months
within her straitened cabin, and Oceanus crying, poor child, and wearing
upon me as if he felt the hardship of his birthplace? Nor is Mistress
White's baby, Peregrine, happier than my child in being born on this
_Mayflower_. When one is not crying, the other is and oftener than not
in concert. Why should I not go ashore with the others?" demanded
Mistress Eliza, in quick anger.

"Ah, wife, wife, my poor Eliza," sighed Mr. Hopkins, raising his hand to
stem the torrent. "Leave not all the patience of the saints to those in
paradise! You, with all the other women, will remain on the ship while
certain of the men--the rest being left to guard you--go in the shallop
to explore our new country and pick the fittest place for our
settlement. How long we may be gone, I do not know. Rest assured it will
not be an absence wilfully prolonged. You will be more comfortable here
than ashore. It is likely that when you do go ashore to begin the new
home you will look back regretfully at the straitened quarters of the
little ship that has served us well, in spite of sundry weaknesses which
she developed. Be that as it may, this delay is necessary, as reflection
will show you, so let us not weary ourselves with useless discussion of
it."

Mistress Hopkins knew that when her husband spoke in this manner,
discussion of his decision was indeed useless. She had an awe of his
wisdom, his amused toleration of her, of his superior birth and
education, and, though she ventured to goad him in small affairs, when
it came to greater ones she dared not dispute him. So now she bit her
lip, as angry and disappointed tears sprang to her eyes, but did not
reply.

Stephen Hopkins produced from his inner pocket an oblong packet sewn in
an oilskin wrapper.

"Here, Eliza," he said, "are papers of value to this expedition,
together with some important only to ourselves, but to us sufficiently
so to guard them carefully. The public papers were entrusted to me just
before we sailed from Southampton by one interested in the welfare of
this settlement. My own papers relate to the English inheritance that
will be my children's should they care to claim it. These papers I must
leave in your care now that I am to go on this exploring party ashore. I
will not risk carrying them where savages might attack us, though I have
kept them upon me throughout the voyage. Guard them well. Not for worlds
would I lose the papers relating to the community, sorry as I should be
to lose my own, for those were a trust, and personal loss would be
nothing compared to the loss of them."

He handed the packet to his wife as he spoke and she took it, turning it
curiously over and about.

"I hope the English inheritance will one day come to Damaris and
Oceanus," she said, bitterly, her jealousy of the two children of her
husband's first wife plain to be seen. "Here's Giles," she added,
hastily thrusting the packet into her bosom with a violence that her
husband noted and wondered at.

"Father," said Giles, coming up, "take me with you."

Gloom and discontent were upon his brow. Giles's face was fast growing
into a settled expression of bitterness. His stepmother's dislike for
him, and for his sister, Giles bore less well than Constance. The
natural sweetness of the girl, her sunny hopefulness, led her
ceaselessly to try to make things pleasant around her, to be always
ready to forget and begin again, hoping that at last she might win her
stepmother's kindness. But Giles never forgot, consequently never could
hope that the bad situation would mend, and he returned Mistress Eliza's
dislike with compound interest. He was a brave lad, capable of strong
attachments, but the bitterness that he harboured, the unhappiness of
his home life, were doing him irreparable harm. His father was keenly
alive to this fact, and one of his motives in coming to the New World
with the Puritans, with whose strict views he by no means fully
sympathized, was to give Giles the opportunity to conquer the
wilderness, and in conquering it to find a vent for his energy,
happiness for himself.

Mr. Hopkins turned to the boy now and sighed, seeing that he had heard
his stepmother's expression of hope that _her_ children would receive
their father's English patrimony. But he said only:

"Take you with me where, Giles?"

"Exploring the country. I am too old, too strong to stay here with the
women and children. Besides, I want to go," said Giles, shortly.

"But few of the men are to go, my son; you will not be reckoned among
the weaklings in staying," said Mr. Hopkins, laying his hand upon the
boy's shoulder with a smile that Giles did not return. "Enough have
volunteered; Captain Standish has made up his company. You are best here
and will find enough to do. Have you thought that you are my eldest, and
that if we met with savages, or other fatal onslaught, that you must
take my place? I cannot afford to risk both of us at once. You are my
reliance and successor, Giles lad."

The boy's sullen face broke into a piteous smile; he flushed and looked
into his father's eyes with a glance that revealed for an instant the
dominant passion of his life, his adoring love for his father.

Then he dropped his lids, veiling the light that he himself was
conscious shone in them.

"Very well, If you want me to stay, stay it is. But I'd like to go. And
if there is danger, why not let me take your place? I should not know as
much as you, but I would obey the captain's orders, and I am as strong
as you are. Better let me go if there's any chance of not returning," he
said.

"Your valuable young life for mine, my boy? Hardly that!" said Stephen
Hopkins with a comradely arm thrown across the boy. "I shall always be a
piece of drift from the old shore; you will grow from your youth into
the New World's life. And what would my remnant of life be to me if my
eldest born had purchased it?"

"You are young enough, Father," began Giles, struggling not to show
that the expression of his father's love moved him as it did.

Mistress Eliza, who had been watching and listening to what was said
with scornful impatience, broke in.

"Let the lad go. He will not be helpful here, and your little children
need your protection, not to speak of your wife, Mr. Hopkins."

At the first syllable Giles had hastened away. Stephen Hopkins turned on
her. "The boy is more precious than I am. It is settled; he is to stay.
Take great care of the packet I have entrusted to you," he said.

For four days the ship's carpenters had busied themselves in putting
together and making ready the shallop which the _Mayflower_ had carried
for the pilgrims to use in sailing the shallow waters of the bays and
rivers of the new land, to discover the spot upon which they should
decide to make their beginning.

The small craft was ready now, and in the morning set out, taking a
small band of the men who had crossed on the _Mayflower_, as much
ammunition and provisions as her capacity allowed them, to proceed no
one knew whither, to encounter no one knew what.

Constance stood wistfully, anxiously, watching the prim white sail
disappear.

Humility Cooper and Elizabeth Tilley--the cousins, who, though
Constance's age, seemed so much younger--and Priscilla Mullins--who
though older, seemed but Constance's age--were close beside her, and,
seated on a roll of woollen cloth, sat Rose Standish, drooping as now
she always drooped, often coughing, watching with her unnaturally clear
eyes, as the girls watched, the departure of the little craft that bore
their beloved protectors away.

The country that lay before them looked "wild and weather-beaten." All
that they could see was woods and more woods, stretching westward to
meet the bleak November sky, hiding who could say what dangers of wild
beasts and yet more-savage men?

Behind them lay the heaving ocean, dark under the scudding clouds, and
which they had just sailed for two months of torture of body and mind.

If the little shallop were but sailing toward one single friend, if
there were but one friendly English-built house beside whose hearth the
adventurers might warm themselves after a handclasp of welcome!
Desolation and still more desolation behind and before them! What awful
secrets did that low-lying, mysterious coast conceal? What could the
future hold for this handful of pilgrims who were to grapple without
human aid with the cruelties of a severe clime, of preying creatures,
both beast and human?

Rose Standish's head bent low as the tipmost point of the shallop's mast
rounded a promontory, till it rested on her knees and her thin
shoulders heaved. Instantly Constance was on her knees before her,
gently forcing Rose's hands from her face and drawing her head upon her
shoulder.

"There, there!" Constance crooned as if to a baby. "There, there, sweet
Rose! What is it, what is it?"

"Oh, if I knew he would ever come back! Oh, if I knew how to go on, how,
how to go on!" Rose sobbed.

"Captain Myles come back!" cried Constance, with a laugh that she was
delighted to hear sounded genuine.

"Why, silly little Rose Standish, don't you know nothing could keep the
captain from coming back? Wouldn't it be a sorry day for an Indian, or
for any beast, when he attacked our right arm of the colony? No fear of
him not coming back to us! And how to go on, is that it? In your own
cozy little house, with Prissy and the rest of us to help you look after
it till you are strong again, and then the fair spring sunshine, and the
salt winds straight from home blowing upon you, and you will not need to
know how to go on! It will be the rest of us who will have to learn how
to keep up with you!"

"Kind Constance," whispered Rose, stroking the girl's cheek and looking
wistfully into her eyes as she dried her own. "You keep me up, though
you are so young! Not for nothing were you named Constantia, for
constant indeed you are! I will be good, and not trouble you. Usually I
feel sure that I shall get well, but to-day--seeing Myles go----.
Sometimes it comes over me with terrible certainty that it is not for me
to see this wilderness bloom."

"Just tiredness, dear one," said Constance, lovingly, and as if she were
a whole college of learned physicians. "Have no fear."

Mistress Hopkins came in search of them, carrying the baby Oceanus with
manifest protest against his weight and wailing.

"I have been looking for you, Constantia," she said, as if this were a
severe accusation against the girl. "You are to take this child. Have I
not enough to do and to put up with that I must be worn threadbare by
his crying? And what a country! Your father has been tormenting me with
his mending and preparation for this expedition so that I have not seen
it as it is until just now. Look at it, only look at it! What a place to
bring a decent woman to who has never wanted! Though I may not have been
the fine lady that his first wife was, yet am I a comfortable farmer's
daughter, and Stephen Hopkins should not have brought me to a coast more
bleak and dismal than the barrens of Sahara. Woods, nothing but woods!
And full of lions, and tigers, and who knows what other raving, raging
wild vermin--who knows? What does thy father mean by bringing me to
this?"

Constance pressed her lips together hard, a burning crimson flooding her
face as she took the baby violently thrust upon her and straightened his
disordered wrappings, reminding herself that his mother was not his
fault.

"Why as to that, Mistress Hopkins," said Priscilla Mullins in her
downright, sensible way, "Mr. Hopkins did not bring you. We all came
willingly, and I make no doubt that all of us knew quite well that it
was a wilderness to which we were bound."

"There is knowing and knowing, Priscilla Mullins, and the knowing before
seeing is a different thing from the knowing and seeing. Stephen Hopkins
had been about the world; he even set sail for Virginia, which as I
understand is somewhere not far from Cape Cod, though not near enough to
give us neighbours for the borrowing of a salt rising, or the trade of a
recipe, or the loan of a croup simple should my blessed babe turn
suffocating as he is like to do in this wicked cold wind; and these
things are the comforts of a woman's life, and her right--as all good
women will tell thee before thou art old enough to know what the lack is
in this desolation. So it is clear that Stephen Hopkins had no right to
bring me here, innocent as I was of what it all stood for, and hard
enough as it is to be married to a man whose first wife was of the
gentry, and whose children that she left for my torment are like to her,
headstrong and proud-stomached, and hating me, however I slave for them.
And your father, Constantia Hopkins, has gone now, not content with
bringing me here across that waste o' waters, and never is it likely
will come back to me to look after that innocent babe that was born on
the ocean and bears its name according, and came like the dove to the
ark, bearing an olive branch across the deluge. But much your father
cares for this, but has gone and left me, and it is no man's part to
leave a weak woman to struggle alone to keep wild beasts and Indians
from devouring her children; and so I tell you, and so I maintain. And
never, never have I looked upon a scene so forsaken and unbearable as
that gray woodland that the man who swore to cherish me has led me
into."

Constance quite well knew that this hysterical unreason in her
stepmother would pass, and that it was not more worth heeding than the
wind that whistled around the ship's stripped masts. Mistress Eliza had
a vixenish temper, and a jealous one. She frequently lashed herself into
a fury with one or another of the family for its object and felt the
better for it, not regarding how it left the victim feeling.

But though she knew this, Constance could not always act upon her
knowledge, and disregard her. She was but a very young girl and now she
was a very weary one, with every nerve quivering from tense anxiety in
watching her father go into unknown danger.

She sprang to her feet with a cry.

"Oh, my father, my father! How dare you blame him, my patient, wise,
forbearing father! Why did he bring you here, indeed! He--so fine, so
noble, so hard-pressed with your tongue, Mistress Hopkins!--I will not
hear you blame him. Oh, my father, my dear, dear, good father!" she
sobbed, losing all sense of restraint in her grief.

Suddenly on hearing this outburst, Mistress Hopkins, as is sometimes the
way of such as she, became as self-controlled as she had, but a moment
before, been beside herself. And in becoming quiet she became much more
angry than she had been, and more vindictive.

"You speak to me like this?--you dare to!" she said in a low, furious
voice. "You will learn to your sorrow what it means to flout me. You
will pay for this, Constantia Hopkins, and pay to the last penny, to
your everlasting shame and misery."

Constance was too frightened by this change, by this white fury, which
she had never seen before in her stepmother, to answer; but before she
could have answered, Doctor Fuller, who had strayed that way in time to
hear the last of Dame Eliza's tirade, Constance's retort, and this final
threat, took Constance by the arm and led her away.

"Quiet, my dear, quiet and calm, you know! Don't let yourself forget
what is due to your father's wife, to yourself, still more to your
conscience," he warned her. "And remember that a soft answer turneth
away wrath."

"Oh, it doesn't, Doctor Fuller, indeed it doesn't!" sobbed Constance,
utterly unstrung. "I've tried it, tried it again and again, and it only
makes the wrath turn the harder upon me; it never turns it away! Indeed,
indeed I've faithfully tried it."

"It's a hard pilgrimage for you at times I fear, Constance, but never
turn aside into wrong on your part," said the good doctor, gently.

"Oh, I'm sorry I flared up, I am sorry I spoke angrily. But my father!
To blame him when he is so patient, and has so much to endure! Must I
beg his wife's pardon?" said Constance, humbly.

Doctor Fuller concealed a smile. Sorry as he was for Constance, and
indignant at her stepmother's unkindness, it amused him to note how
completely in her thoughts Constance separated herself from the least
connection with her.

"I think it would be the better course, my dear, and I admire you for
being the one to suggest it," he answered, with an encouraging pat on
Constance's sleeve.

"Well, I will. I mean to do what is right, and I will," Constance
sighed. "But I truly think it will do no good," she added.

"Nor I," Doctor Fuller agreed with her in his thoughts, but he took good
care not to let this opinion reach his lips.



CHAPTER IV

The First Yuletide


Constance had a tender conscience, quick to self-blame. She was unhappy
if she could impute to herself a fault, ill at ease till she had done
all that she could to repair wrong. Although her stepmother's dislike
for her, still more her open expression of it, was cruelly unjust and
prevented all possibility of love for her, still Constance deeply
regretted having spoken to her with lack of respect.

But when she made humble apology for the fault and begged Mrs. Hopkins's
pardon with sweet sincerity, she was received in a manner that turned
contrition into bitterness.

Dame Eliza looked at her with a cold light in her steely blue eyes, and
a scornful smile. Plainly she was too petty herself to understand
generosity in others, and construed Constance's apology into a
confession of fear of her.

"Poor work spreading bad butter over a burnt crust," she commented.
"There's no love lost between us, Constantia Hopkins; maybe none ever
found, nor ever will be. I don't want your fair words, nor need you hope
your father will not one day see you, and that sullen brother of yours,
as do I. So waste no breath trying to get around me. Damaris is
fretting; look after her."

Poor Constance! She had been so honestly sorry for having been angry and
having given vent to it, had gone to her stepmother with such sincerity,
hoping against hope, for the unnumbered time, that she could make their
relation pleasanter! It was not possible to help feeling a violent
reaction from this reception, to keep her scorned sweetness from turning
to bitterness in her heart.

She told the story to Giles, and it made him furiously angry.

"You young ninny to humble yourself to her," he cried, with flashing
eyes. "Will you never learn to expect nothing but injustice from her? It
isn't what we do, or say; it is jealousy. She will not let our father
love us, she hates the children of our mother, and hates our mother's
memory, that she was in every way Mistress Eliza's superior, as she
guesses, knowing that she was better born, better bred, and surely
better in character. I remember our mother, Con, if not clearly. I'm
sorry you have not even so much recollection of her. You are like her,
and may be thankful for it. I could trounce you for crawling to Mistress
Hopkins! Learn your lesson for all time, and no more apologies! Con, I
shall not stand it! No matter how it goes with this colony, I shall go
back to England. I will not stay to be put upon, to see my father turned
from me."

"Oh, Giles, that could never be!" cried Constance. "Father will never
turn from us."

"I did not say from _us_; I said from _me_," retorted Giles. "You are
different, a girl, and--and like Mother, and--several other reasons. But
I often see that Father is not sure whether he shall approve me or not.
It will not be so long till I am twenty-one, then I shall get out of
reach of these things."

Constance's troubled face brightened. To her natural hopefulness Giles's
twenty-first birthday was far enough away to allow a great deal of good
to come before it.

"Oh, twenty-one, Giles! You'll be prospering and happy here before
that," she cried.

"But I must tell no more of troubles with my stepmother to Giles," she
added mentally. "It will never do to pile fuel on his smouldering
fires!"

The next day when Constance was helping Mistress Hopkins with her
mending, she noticed the oilskin-wrapped packet that her father had left
with his wife for safe keeping, tossed carelessly upon the hammock which
swung from the side of the berth which she and her stepmother shared,
the bed devised by ingenuity for little Damaris.

"Is not that packet in Damaris's hammock Father's packet of valuable
papers?" Constance asked. "Is there not a risk in letting them lie
about, so highly as he prizes them?"

She made the suggestion timidly, for Dame Eliza did not take kindly to
hints of this nature. To her surprise her stepmother received her remark
not merely pleasantly, but almost eagerly, quick with self-reproach.

"Indeed thou art right, Constantia, and I am wrong to leave it for an
instant outside the strong chest, where I shall put it under lock and
key," she said, nevertheless not moving to rescue it. "I have carried
it tied around my neck by a silken cord and hidden in my bosom till this
hour past. I dropped it there when I was trying to mend Damaris's
hammock. Thanks to you for reminding me of it. What can ail that hammock
defies me! I have tried in all ways to strengthen it, but it sags. Some
night the child will take a bad fall from it. Try you what you can make
of it, Constantia."

"I am not skilful, Stepmother," smiled Constance. "Giles is just outside
studying the chart of our voyage hither. Let me call him to repair the
hammock. We would not have you fall at night and crack the pretty golden
pate, would we, Damaris?" The child shook her "golden pate" hard.

"That you would not, Connie, for you are good, good to me!" she cried.

Mistress Hopkins looked on the little girl with somewhat of softening of
her stern lips, yet she felt called upon to reprimand this lightness of
speech.

"Not 'Connie,' Damaris, as thou hast been often enough told. We do not
hold with the ungodly manner of nicknames. Thy sister is Constantia, and
so must thou call her. And you must not put into the child's head
notions of its being pretty, Constantia. Beauty is a snare of the devil,
and vanity is his weapon to ensnare the soul. Do not let me hear you
again speak to a child of mine of her pretty golden pate. As to the
hammock if you choose to call your brother to repair it for his
half-sister I have nothing against the plan."

Constance jumped up and ran out of the cabin.

"Giles, Giles, will you come to try what you can do with Damaris's
sleeping hammock?" she called.

"What's wrong with it?" demanded Giles, rising reluctantly, but
following Constance, nevertheless.

"I don't know, but Mistress Hopkins says she cannot repair it and that
the child is like to fall with its breaking some night," said Constance,
entering again the small, close cabin of the women. "Here is Giles,
Mistress Hopkins; he will try what he can do," she added.

Giles examined the hammock in silence, bade Constance bring him cord,
and at last let it swing back into place, and straightened himself. He
had been bent over the canvas with it drawn forward against his breast.

"I see nothing the matter with the hammock except a looseness of its
cords, and perhaps weakness of one where I put in the new one. You could
have mended it, Con," he said, ungraciously, and sensitive Constance
flushed at the implication that her stepmother had not required his
help, for she never could endure anything like a disagreeable atmosphere
around her.

"Giles says 'Con,'" observed Damaris, justifying herself for the use of
nicknames.

"Giles does many things that we do not approve; let us hope he will not
lead his young sister and brother into evil ways," returned her mother,
sourly. "But thou shouldst thank him when he does thee a service, not to
be deficient on thy side in virtue."

"You know Giles doesn't need thanks for what he does for small people,
don't you, Hop-o-my-Thumb?" Giles said and departed, successful in both
his aims, in pleasing the child by his name for her, and displeasing her
mother.

Two hours later Constance was sitting rolled up in heavy woollens like a
cocoon well forward of the main mast, in a sheltered nook, reading to
Rose Standish, who was also wrapped to her chin, and who when she was in
the open, seemed to find relief from the oppression that made breathing
so hard a matter to her.

Mistress Hopkins came toward them in furious haste, her mouth open as if
she were panting, one hand pressed against her breast.

"Constantia, confess, confess, and do not try to shield thy wicked
brother!" she cried.

[Illustration: "'Constantia, confess--confess and do not try to shield
thy wicked brother'"]

"Confess! My wicked brother? Do you mean the baby, for you cannot mean
Giles?" Constance said, springing to her feet.

"That lamb of seven weeks! Indeed, you impudent girl, I mean no such
thing, as well you know, but that dreadful, sin-enslaved, criminal,
Gile----"

"Hush!" cried Constance, "I will not hear you!"

There was a fire in her eyes that made even Mistress Eliza halt in her
speech.

"Giles Hopkins has stolen your father's packet, the packet of papers
which you saw in the hammock and reminded me to put away," she said,
more quietly. "I shall leave him to be dealt with by your father who
must soon return. But you, you! Can you clear yourself? Did you help him
steal it? Nay, did you call him in for this purpose, warning him that he
should find the packet there, and to take it? Is this a plan between
you? For ever have I said that there was that in you two that curdled my
blood with fear for you of what you should become. Not like your godly
father are you two. From elsewhere have you drawn the blood that poisons
you. Confess and I will ask your father to spare you."

Constance stood with her thick wrappings falling from her as she threw
up her hands in dumb appeal against this unbearable thing. She was white
as the dead, but her blue eyes burned black in the whiteness, full of
intense life.

"Mistress Hopkins, oh, Mistress Hopkins, consider!" begged Rose
Standish, also rising in great distress. "Think what it is that you are
saying, and to whom! You cannot knowingly accuse this dear girl of
connivance in a theft! You cannot accuse Giles of committing it! Why,
Captain Myles is fonder of the lad than of any other in our company!
Giles is upright and true, he says, and fearless. Pray, pray, take
back these fearful words! You do not mean them, and when you will long
to disown them they will cling to you and not forsake you, as does our
mad injustice, to our lasting sorrow. What can be more foreign to our
calling than harsh judgments, and angry accusations?"

"I am not speaking rashly, Mistress Standish," insisted Dame Eliza.

"Not yet three hours gone Constantia saw lying in Damaris's hammock a
valuable packet of papers, left me in trust by her father. I asked her
to mend the hammock, which was in disorder, but she called her brother
to do the simple task. No one else hath entered the cabin at my end of
it since. The packet is gone. Would you have more proof? Could there be
more proof, unless you saw the theft committed, which is manifestly
impossible?"

"But why, good mistress, should the boy and girl steal these papers?
What reason would there be for them to disturb their father's property?"
asked Rose Standish.

"I have heard my uncle say, who is a barrister at home, that one must
search for the motive of a crime if it is to be established." She
glanced with a slight smile at Constance's stony face, who neither
looked at her, nor smiled, but stood gazing in wide-eyed horror at her
stepmother.

"Precisely!" triumphed Dame Eliza. "Two motives are clear, Mistress
Standish, to those who are not too blinded by prejudice to see. Those
Hopkins girl and boy hate me, fear and grudge my influence with their
father. Would they not like to weaken it by the loss of papers entrusted
to me, a loss that he would resent on his return? There is one motive.
As to the other: you do not know, but I do, and so did they, that part
of these papers related to an inheritance in England, from which they
would want their half-brother and sister excluded. Needs it more?"

"Yes, yes, yes!" cried Rose Standish, as Constance groaned. "To any one
knowing Giles and Constance this is no more than if you said Fee, fi,
fo, fum! They plotting to weaken you with their father! They stealing to
keep the children from a share in their inheritance, so generous as they
are, so good to the little ones! Fie, Mistress Hopkins! It is a grievous
sin, you who are so strict in small matters, a grievous sin thus to
judge another, still more those to whom you owe the obligation of one
who has taken their dead mother's place."

Constance began to tremble, and to struggle to speak. What she would
have said, or what would have come of it, cannot be known, for at that
moment the Billington boys, John and Francis, came hurtling down upon
them, shouting:

"The shallop, the shallop is back! It is almost upon us on the other
side. Come see, come see! Dad is back, and all the rest, unless the
savages have killed some of them," Francis added the final words in
solo.

The present trouble must be laid aside for the great business in hand of
welcome.

Poor Constance turned in a frozen way to follow Rose and her stepmother
to the other side of the ship.

Her father--her dear, dear, longed-for father--was come back. He might
be bringing them news of a favoured site where they would go to begin
their new home.

At last they were to step upon land again, to live in some degree the
life they knew of household task and tilling, walking the woods, drawing
water, building fires--the life so long postponed, for which they all
thirsted.

But if she and Giles were to meet their father accused of theft! If they
should see in those grave, kind, wise eyes a shadow of a doubt of his
eldest children! Constance felt that she dared not see him come if such
a thing were so much as possible.

But when the shallop was made fast beside the _Mayflower_ and Constance
saw her father boarding the ship among the others of the returning
expedition, and she met the glad light in his eyes resting upon her, all
fear was swallowed up in immense relief and joy.

With a low cry she sprang to meet him and fell sobbing on his shoulder,
forgetful of the stern on-lookers who would condemn such display of
feeling.

"Oh, father, father, if you had never come back!" she murmured.

"But I have come, daughter!" Stephen Hopkins reminded her. "Surely you
are not weeping that I have come! We have great things to tell you,
attacks by savages, some hardships, but we have brought grain which we
found hidden by the Indians, and we have found the right place to
establish our dwelling."

Constance raised her head and dried her eyes, still shaken by sobs. Her
father looked keenly at the pale, drawn face, and knew that something
more than ordinary lay behind the overwhelming emotion with which she
had received him.

"Poor child, poor motherless child!" he thought, and the pity of that
moment went far in influencing his subsequent treatment of Constance
when he learned what had ailed her on his arrival.

Now he patted her shoulder and turned toward the middle of the ship's
forward deck where his comrades of the expedition were relating their
experiences, and displaying their trophies.

Golden corn lay on the deck, spread upon a cloth, and the pilgrims who
had remained with the ship were handling it as they listened to John
Alden, who was made the narrator of this first report, having a ready
tongue.

"We found a pond of fresh water," he was saying, "and not far from it
cleared ground with the stubble of a gathered harvest upon it. Judge
whether or not the sight was pleasant to us, as promising of fertile
lands when the forests were hewn. And we came upon planks of wood that
had lately been a house, and a kettle, and heaps of sand, with handmarks
upon it, not long since made, where the sand had been piled and pressed
down, into which, digging rapidly, we penetrated and found the corn you
see here. The part of it we took, but the rest we once more covered and
left it. And see ye, brethren, there have we the seed for our own next
season's harvest, the which we were in such doubt of obtaining from home
in time. It is a story for night, when we have leisure, to tell you of
how we saw a few men and a dog, who ran from us, and we pursuing, hoping
to speak to them, but they escaped us. And how later on, we saw savages
cutting up great fish of tremendous size along the coast, and how we
were attacked by another savage band one night. But all this we reserve
for another telling. We came at last into a harbour and found it deep
enough for the _Mayflower_ on our sounding it. And landing we marched
into the land and found fields, and brooks, and on the whole that it
was a fit country for our beginning. For the rest it is as you shall
decide in consultation, but of our party we are all in accord to urge
you to accept this spot and hasten to take possession of it as the
winter cometh on apace."

"Let us thank God for that He hath led us into a land of corn, and
guided us for so many weary days, over so many dreary miles," said
William Brewster, the elder of the pilgrims.

John Carver, who was chosen on the _Mayflower_ as their governor, arose
and out of a full heart thanked God for His mercies, as Elder Brewster
had recommended.

The _Mayflower_ weighed anchor in the morning to carry her brave freight
to their new home. The wind set hard against her, and it was the second
day before she entered Plymouth harbour, as they resolved to name their
new habitation, a name already bestowed by Captain Smith, and the name
of their final port of embarkation in England.

No sign of life met them as the pilgrims disembarked. Silently, with
full realization of what lay before them, and how fraught with
significance this beginning was, the pilgrims passed from the ship that
had so long been their home, and set foot--men, women, and
children--upon the soil of America.

A deep murmur arose when the last person was landed, and it happened
that Constance Hopkins was the last to step from the boat to the rock
on which the landing was made, and to jump light-heartedly to the sand,
amid the tall, dried weeds that waved on the shore.

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow," said Elder Brewster,
solemnly. The pilgrim band of colonists sang the doxology with bowed
heads.

Three days later the shores of the harbour echoed to the ring of axes,
the sound of hammers, as the first house was begun, the community house,
destined to shelter many families and to store their goods.

"Merry Christmas, Father!" said Constance, coming up to her father in
the cold of the early bleak December morning.

"S-s-sh!" warned her father, finger upon lip. "Do you not know, my
daughter, that the keeping of Christmas is abjured by us as savouring of
popery, and that to wish one merry at yuletide would be reckoned as
unrighteousness among us?"

"Ah, but Father, you do not think so! You do not go with all these
opinions, and can it be wrong to be merry on the day that gladdened the
world?" Constance pleaded.

"Not wrong, but praiseworthy, to be merry under our present condition,
to my way of thinking," said Stephen Hopkins, glancing around at the
drab emptiness of land and sky and harbour beyond. "Nay, child, I do
not think it wrong to rejoice at Christmas, nor do I hold with the
severity of most of our people, but because I believe that it will be
good to begin anew in a land that is not oppressed, nor torn by
king-made wars and sins, I have cast my lot, as has Myles Standish, who
is of one mind with me, among this Plymouth band, and we must conform
to custom. So wish me Merry Christmas, if you will, but let none hear
you, and we will keep our heresies to ourselves."

"Yet the first house in the New World is begun to-day!" laughed
Constance. "We are getting a Christmas gift."

"A happy portent to begin our common home on the day when the Prince of
Peace came to dwell on earth! Let us hope it will bring us peace," said
her father.

"Peace!" cried Constance, with a swift and terrified remembrance of the
accusation which her stepmother had threatened bringing against herself
and Giles.



CHAPTER V

The New Year in the New Land


The new year came in bringing with it a driving storm from the Atlantic.
The hoary pines threw up their rugged branches as if appealing to the
heavens for mercy on the women and little children without shelter on
the desolate coast. But the gray heavens did not relent; they poured
snow and sleet down upon the infant colony, coating the creaking pines
with ice that bent them low, and checked their intercession.

As fast as willing hands could work, taking it in continuous shifts by
night as well as day, the community house went up. But the storm was
upon the colonists before the shelter was ready for them, and even when
the roof covered them, the cold laughed it to scorn, entering to wreak
its will upon them.

Sickness seized one after another of the pilgrim band, men and women
alike, and the little children fought croup and pneumonia, nursed by
women hardly more fit for the task than were the little victims.

Rose Standish, already weakened by the suffering of the voyage, was
among the first to be prostrated. She coughed ceaselessly though each
violent breath wracked her frail body with pain. A bright colour burned
in her cheeks, her beautiful eyes were clear and dilated, she smiled
hopefully when her companions in exile and suffering spoke to her, and
assured them that she was "much, much better," speaking pantingly, by an
effort.

The discouragement with which she had looked upon the coast when the
_Mayflower_ arrived, gave place to hope in her. She spoke confidently of
"next spring," of the "house Captain Myles would build her," of all that
she should do "when warm weather came."

Constance, to whom she most confided her plans, often turned away to
hide her tears. She knew that Doctor Fuller and the more experienced
women thought that for this English rose there would be no springtime
upon earth.

Constance had other troubles to bear as well as the hardships and
sorrows common to the sorely beset community. She seemed, to herself,
hardly to be a young girl, so heavily weighted was she with the burden
that she carried. She wondered to remember that if she had stayed in
England she should have been laughing and singing like other girls of
her age, skating now on the Sherbourne, if it were frozen over, as it
well might be. Perhaps she might be dancing, if she were visiting her
cousins in Warwickshire, her own birthplace, for the cousins were merry
girls, and like all of Constance's mother's family, quite free from
puritanical ideas, brought up in the English Church, so not debarred
from the dance.

Constance had no heart to regret her loss of youthful happiness; she was
so far aloof from it, so sad, that she could not rise to the level of
feeling its charm. Dame Eliza Hopkins had carried out her threat, had
accused Giles of the theft of his father's papers, and Constance of
being party to his wrong-doing, if not actually its instigator.

It had only happened that morning; Constance heavily awaited
developments. She jumped guiltily when she heard her father's voice
speaking her name, and felt his hand upon her shoulder.

She faced him, white and shaken, to meet his troubled eyes intently
fastened upon her.

"The storm is bad, Constance, but it is not warm within. Put on your
coat and come with me. I must speak with you," he said.

In silence Constance obeyed him. Pulling over her head a hood that, like
a deep cowl, was attached to her coat, she followed her father into the
storm, and walked beside him toward the marshy shore whither, without
speaking to her, he strode.

Arrived at the sedgy ocean line he halted, and turned upon her.

"Constance," he began, sternly, "my wife tells me that valuable papers
which I entrusted to her keeping have disappeared. She tells me further
that she had dropped them--carelessly, as I have told her--into the
hammock in which your little sister slept and that you saw them there,
commenting upon it; that you soon called Giles to set right some slight
matter in the hammock; and that shortly after you and he had left her,
she discovered her loss. What do you know of this? Tell me all that you
know, and tell me the truth."

Constance's fear left her at this word. Throwing up her head she looked
her father in the eyes, nearly on a level with her own as she stood upon
a sandy hummock. "It needs not telling me to speak the truth, Father. I
am your daughter and my mother's daughter; it runs not in my blood to
lie," she said.

Stephen Hopkins touched her arm lightly, a look of relief upon his face.

"Thank you for that reminder, my girl," he said. "It is true, and Giles
is of the same strain. Know you aught of this misfortune?"

"Nothing, Father," said Constance. "And because I know nothing whatever
about it, in answering you I have told you all that I have to tell."

"And Giles----" began her father, but stopped.

"Nor Giles," Constance repeated, amending his beginning. "Giles is
headstrong, Father, and I fear for him often, but you know that he is
honourable, truth-telling. Would your son _steal_ from you?"

"But your stepmother says no one entered the cabin after you had left it
before she discovered her loss," insisted Stephen Hopkins. "What am I to
think? What do you think, Constance?"

"I think that there is an explanation we do not know. I think that my
stepmother hates Giles and me, especially him, as he has the first claim
to the inheritance that she would have for her own children. I think
that she has seized this opportunity to poison you against us," said
Constance, with spirited daring. "Oh, Father, dear, dear Father, do not
let her do this thing!"

"Nay, child, you are unjust," said her father, gently. "I confess to
Mistress Eliza's jealousy of you, and that there is not great love for
you in her. But, Constance, do you love her, you or Giles? And that she
is not so base as you suspect is shown by the fact that she has delayed
until to-day to tell me of this loss, dreading, as she hath told me, to
put you wrong in my eyes. Fie for shame, Constance, to suspect her of
such outrageous wickedness, she who is, after all, a good woman, as she
sees goodness."

"Father, if the packet were lost through her carelessness, would you not
blame her? Is it not likely that she would shield herself at our cost,
even if she would not be glad to lower us, as I am sure she would be?"
persisted Constance.

"Well, well, this is idle talk!" Stephen Hopkins said, impatiently. "The
truth must be sifted out, and suspicions are wrong, as well as useless.
One word before I go to Giles. Upon your sacred honour, Constantia
Hopkins, and by your mother's memory, can you assure me that you know
absolutely nothing of the loss of this packet of papers?"

"Upon my honour and by my mother's memory, I swear that I do not know so
much as that the packet is lost, except as Mistress Hopkins says that it
is," said Constance. Then with a swift change of tone she begged:

"Oh, Father, Father, when you go to Giles, be careful, be kind, I pray
you! Giles is unhappy. He is ill content under the injustice we both
bear, but I with a girl's greater submission. He is ready to break all
bounds and he will do so if he feels that you do not trust him, listen
to his enemy's tales against him. Please, please, dear Father, be gentle
with Giles. He loves you as well as I do, but where your distrust of me
would kill me, because I love you, Giles's love for you will turn to
bitterness, if you let him feel that you are half lost to him."

"Nonsense, Constance," said her father, though kindly, "Giles is a boy
and must be dealt with firmly. It will never do to coddle him, to give
him his head. You are a girl, sensitive and easily wounded. A boy is
another matter. I will not have him setting up his will against mine,
nor opposing discipline for his good. It is for him to clear himself of
what looks ill, not resent our seeing the looks of it."

Constance almost wrung her hands.

"Oh, Father, Father, do not go to Giles in that way! Sorrow will come of
it. Think how you would feel to be thus suspected! A boy is not less
sensitive than a girl; I fear he is more sensitive in his honour than
are we. Oh, I am but a girl, but I know that I am right about Giles. I
think we are given to understand as no man can how to deal with a proud,
sullen boy like Giles, because God means us to be the mothers of boys
some day! Be kind to Giles, dear Father; let him see that you trust him,
as indeed, indeed you may!"

"Let us go back out of the storm to such shelter as we have, Constance,"
said Stephen Hopkins, smiling with masculine toleration for a foolish
girl. "I have accepted your solemn assurance that you are ignorant of
this theft, if theft it be. Be satisfied that I have done this, and
leave me to deal with my son as I see fit. I will not be unjust to him,
but he must meet me respectfully, submissively, and answer to the
evidence against him. I have not been pleased of late with Giles's
ill-concealed resistance."

This time Constance did wring her hands, as she followed her father,
close behind him. She attempted no further remonstrance, knowing that to
do so would be not only to harm Giles's cause, but to arouse her
father's quick anger against herself. But as she walked with bent head
through the cutting, beating storm, she wondered why Giles should not be
resistant to his life, and her heart ached with pitying apprehension for
her brother.

All that long day of darkening storm and anxiety Constance did not see
Giles. That signified nothing, however, for Giles was at work with the
men making winter preparations which could not be deferred, albeit the
winter was already upon them, while Constance was occupied with the
nursing for which the daily increase of sickness made more hands
required than were able to perform it.

Humility Cooper was dangerously ill, burning with fever, struggling for
breath. Constance was fond of the little maid who seemed so childish
beside her, and gladly volunteered to go again into the storm to fetch
her the fresh water for which she implored.

At the well which had been dug, and over which a pump from the ship had
been placed and made effective, Constance came upon Giles, marching up
and down impatiently, and with him was John Billington, his chosen
comrade, the most unruly of all the younger pilgrims.

"Well, at last, Con!" exclaimed Giles. "I've been here above an hour. I
thought to meet you here. What has kept you so long?"

"Why, Giles, I could not know that you were awaiting me," said
Constance, reasonably. "Oh, they are so ill, our poor friends yonder! I
am sure many of them will go on a longer pilgrimage and never see this
colony established."

"Lucky they!" said Giles, bitterly. "Why should they want to? Nobody
wants to die, and of course I am sorry for them, but better be dead than
alive here--if it is to be called alive!"

"Oh, dear Giles, do you hate it so?" sighed Constance. "Nothing is
wrong?" she added, glancing at John Billington, longing to ask her
question more directly, but not wishing to betray to him the trouble
upon her mind.

"Never mind talking before John," said Giles, catching the glance. "He
knows all about it; I have told him. Have you cleared yourself, Sis, or
are you also under suspicion?"

"Oh, dear Giles," said Constance again. "You are not--Didn't Father
believe?--Isn't it all right?" She groped for the least offensive form
for her question.

"I don't know whether or not Father believed that I am a thief," burst
out Giles, furiously. "Nor a whit do I care. I told him the word of a
man of honour was enough, and I gave him mine that I knew nothing about
his wife's lies. I told him it seemed to me clear enough that she had
made away with the papers herself, to defraud us. And I told him I had
no proof of my innocence to give him, but it was not necessary. I told
him I wouldn't go into it further; that it had to end right there, that
I was not called upon to accept, nor would I submit to such a rank
insult from any man, and that his being my father made it worse, not
better."

"Oh, Giles, what did he say? Oh, Giles, what a misfortune!" cried
Constance, clasping her hands.

"What did he say?" echoed Giles. "What do you think would be said when
two such tempers as my father's and mine clash? For, mark you, Con,
Stephen Hopkins would not stoop to vindicate himself from the charge of
stealing. _Stealing_, remember, not a crime worthy of a gentleman."

"Oh, Giles, what crime is worthy of a gentleman?" Constance grieved. "Is
there any dignity in sin, and any justice in varnishing some sins with
the gloss of custom? But indeed, indeed, it is cruelly hard on you,
Giles dear. Tell me what happened."

"The only thing that could happen. My father forgets that I am not a
child. He flew into that madness of anger that we know him capable of,
railed at me for my impertinence, insisted on my proving myself innocent
of this charge, and declared that until I did, with full apology for the
way I had received him, I was no son of his. So--Good day, Mistress
Constantia Hopkins, I hope that you are well? I once had a sister that
was like you, but sister have I none now, since I am not the son of my
reputed father," said Giles, with a sneer and a deep bow.

Constance was in despair. The bitter mockery in Giles's young face, the
bleak unhappiness in his eyes stabbed her heart. She knew him too well
to doubt that this mood was dangerous.

"My own dear brother!" she cried, throwing her arms around him. "Oh,
don't steel yourself so bitterly! Father loves you so much that he is
stern with you, but it will all come right; it must, once this hot
anger that you both share is past. You are too alike, that is all! Beg
his pardon, Giles, but repeat that your word is enough to prove you
innocent of the accusation. Father will see that, and yield you that,
when you have met him halfway by an apology for hard words."

"See here, Con, why should I do that?" demanded Giles. "Is there
anything in this desolation that I should want to stay here? I've had
enough of Puritans; and Eliza is one of the strongest of them. Except
for your sake, little Sis, why should I stay? And I will one day return
for you. No, no, Con; I will sail for England when the ship returns, and
make my own fortune, somewhere, somehow."

"Dame Eliza is not what she is because she is a Puritan. She is what she
is because she is Dame Eliza. Think of the others whom we all love and
would fain be like," Constance reminded him. "We must all be true to the
enterprise we have undertaken, and----"

"Look here, sweet Con," John Billington interrupted her. "There is
nothing to hold Giles to this dreary enterprise, nor to hold me, either.
I am not in like plight to him. If any one accused me, suspected me as
your father has him, and still more my father did it, I'd let these east
winds blow over the space I'd have filled in this settlement. I'm for
adventure as it is, though my father cares little what Francis and I
do, being a reckless, daring man who surely belongs not in this
psalm-singing company. Giles and I will strike out into the wilderness
and try our fortunes. We will try the savages. They can be no worse than
white men, nor half as outrageous as your stepmother. Why, Con, how can
you want your brother tamely to sit down under such an insult? No man
should be called upon to prove himself honest! Giles must be off. Let
your father find out for himself who is to blame for the loss of the
papers, and repent too late for lending ear to his wife's story."

Constance stared for a moment at John, realizing how every word he said
found a ready echo in Giles's burning heart, how potent would be this
unruly boy's influence to draw her brother after him, now, when Giles
was wounded in his two strongest feelings--his pride of honour, his love
for his father--and she prayed in her heart for inspiration to deal
wisely with this difficult situation.

Suddenly the inspiration came to her. She found it in John's last words.

"Nay, but Jack!" she cried, using Francis's name for his brother,
disapproved by the elders who would have none of nicknames. "If needs be
that Giles must leave this settlement, if he cannot be happy here, let
him at least bide till he has cleared his name of a foul stain, for his
honour's sake, for the sake of his dead mother, for my sake, who must
abide here and cannot escape, being but a girl, young and helpless. Is
it right that I should be pointed out till I am old as the sister of him
who was accused of a great wrong and, cowardlike, ran away because he
could not clear himself, nor meet the shame, and so admitted his guilt?
No! Rather do you, John Billington, instead of urging him to run away,
bend all your wit--of which you do not lack plenty!--to the ferreting
out of this mystery. That would be the manly course, the kind course to
me, and you have always called yourself my friend. Then prove it! Help
my brother to clear himself and never say one more word to urge him away
till he can go with a stainless name. Our father does not doubt Giles,
of that I am certain. He is sore beset, and is a choleric man. What can
any man do when his children are on the one hand, and his wife on the
other? Be patient with our father, Giles, but in any case do not go away
till this is cleared."

"She talks like a lawyer!" cried John Billington with his boisterous
laugh "Like----what was that play I once saw before I got, or Father
got into this serious business of being a Puritan? Wrote by a fellow
called Shakespeare? Ah, I have it! Merchant of Venison! In that the girl
turns lawyer and cozzens the Jew. Connie is another pleader like that
one. Well, what say you, Giles, my friend? Strikes me she is right."

"It is not badly thought of, Constance," admitted Giles. "But can it be
done? For if Mistress Hopkins has had a hand in spiriting away those
papers for her own advantage and my undoing, then would it be hard to
prove. What say you?"

"Oh, no, no, no!" cried Constance. "Truth is mighty, good is stronger
than evil! Patience, Giles, patience for a while, and let us three bind
ourselves to clear our good name. Will you, will you promise, my
brother? And John?"

"Well, then, yes," said Giles, reluctantly; and Constance clasped her
hands with a cry of joy. "For a time I will stay and see what can be
done, but not for long. Mark you, Con, I do not promise long to abide in
this unbearable life of mine."

"Sure will I promise, Connie," assented John. "Why should I go? I would
not go without Giles, and it was not for my sake first we were going."

"Giles, dear Giles, thank you, thank you!" cried Constance. "I could not
have borne it had you not yielded. Think of me thus left and be glad
that you are willing to stand by your one own sister, Giles. And let us
hope that in staying we shall come upon better days. Now I must take
this ewer of water to poor Humility who is burned and miserable with
thirst and pain. She will think I am never coming to relieve her! Oh,
boys, it seems almost wicked to think of our good names, of any of our
little trials, when half our company is so stricken!"

"You are a good girl, Connie," said John Billington, awkwardly helping
Constance to assume her pitcher, his sympathy betrayed by his
awkwardness. "I hope you are not chilled standing here so long with us."

"No, not I!" said Constance, bravely. "The New Year, and the New World
are teaching me not to mind cold which must be long borne before the
year grows old. They are teaching me much else, dear lads. So good-bye,
and bless you!"

"'Twould have been downright contemptible to have deserted her," said
Giles and John in the same breath, and they laughed as they watched her
depart.



CHAPTER VI

Stout Hearts and Sad Ones


Constance turned away from the boys feeling that, till the trouble
hanging over Giles was settled, waking or sleeping she could think of
nothing else. When she reached the community house she forgot it, nor
did it come to her as more than a deeper shadow on the universal
darkness for weeks.

She found that during her brief absence Edward Tilley's wife had died;
she had known that she was desperately ill, but the end had come
suddenly. Edward Tilley himself was almost through with his struggle,
and this would leave Humility, herself a very sick child, quite alone,
for she had come in her cousins' care. Constance bent over her to give
her the cooling water which she had fetched her.

"Elizabeth and I are alike now," whispered Humility, looking up at
Constance with eyes dry of tears, but full of misery. "Cousin John
Tilley was her father, and Cousin Edward and his wife but my guardians,
yet they were all I had." Elizabeth Tilley had been orphaned two weeks
before, and now John Tilley's brother, following him, would leave
Humility Cooper, as she said, bereft as was Elizabeth.

"Not all you had, dear Humility," Constance whispered in her ear, afraid
to speak aloud for there were in the room many sick whom they might
disturb.

"My father will protect you, unless there is someone whom you would
liefer have, and we will be sisters and meet the spring with hope and
love for each other, together."

"They will send for me to come home to England, my other cousins, of
that I am sure. Elizabeth has no one on her side to claim her. But
England is far, far away, and I am more like to join my cousins, John
and Edward Tilley and their kind, dear wives where they are now than to
live to make that fearful voyage again," moaned Humility, turning away
her head despairingly.

"Follow John and Edward Tilley! Yes, but not for many a day!" Constance
reassured her, shaking up the girl's pillow, one deft arm beneath her
head to raise it.

"Sleep, Humility dear, and do not think. Or rather think of how sweetly
the wind will blow through the pines when the spring sunshine calls you
out into it, and we go, you and I, to seek what new flowers we may find
in the New World."

"No, no," Humility moved her head on the pillow in negation. "I will be
good, Constance; I will not murmur. I will remember that I lie here in
God's hand; but, oh Constance, I cannot think of pleasant things, I
cannot hope. I will be patient, but I cannot hope. Dear, dear, sweet
Constance, you are like my mother, and yet we are almost one age. What
should we all do without you, Constance?"

Constance turned away to meet Doctor Fuller's grave gaze looking down
upon her. "I echo Humility's question, Constance Hopkins: What should we
all do without you? What a blessed thing has come to you thus to comfort
and help these pilgrims, who are sore stricken! Come with me a moment; I
have something to say to you."

Constance followed this beloved physician into the kitchen where her
stepmother was busy preparing broth, her _Mayflower_ baby, Oceanus, tied
in a chair on a pillow, Damaris sitting on the floor beside him in
unnatural quiet.

Dame Eliza looked up as the doctor and Constance entered, but instantly
dropped her eyes, a dull red mounting in her face.

She knew that the girl was ministering to the dying with skill and
sympathy far beyond her years, and she remembered the patient sweetness
with which Constance, during the voyage over, forgiving her injustice,
had ministered to her when she was suffering--had tenderly cared for
little Damaris.

Dame Eliza had the grace to feel a passing shame, though not enough to
move her to repentance, to reparation.

"Constance," Doctor Fuller said, "I am going to lay upon you a charge
too heavy for your youth, but unescapable. You know how many of us have
been laid to rest out yonder, pilgrims indeed, their pilgrimage over.
Many more are to follow them. Mistress Standish among the first, but
there are many whose end I see at hand. I fear the spring will find us a
small colony, but those who remain must make up in courage for those who
have left them. I want you to undertake to be my right hand. Priscilla
Mullins hath already lost her mother, and her father and her brother
will not see the spring. Yet she keeps her steady heart. She will
prepare me such remedies as I can command here. Truth to tell, the
supply I brought with me is running low; I did not allow for the need of
so many of one kind. Priscilla is reliable; steady in purpose, memory,
and hand. She will see to the remedies. But you, brave Constance, will
you be my medical student, visiting my patients, lingering to see that
my orders are carried out, nursing, sustaining? In a word do what you
have already done since we landed, but on a greater scale, as an
established duty?"

"If I can," said Constance, simply.

"You can; there is no one else that I can count upon. The older men
among us are dying, leaving the affairs of the colony to be carried on
by the young ones. In like manner I must call upon so young a girl as
you to be my assistant. The older women are doing, and must do, still
more important work in preparing the nourishment on which these lives
depend and which the young ones are not proficient to prepare."

Doctor Fuller looked smilingly toward Dame Eliza as he said this, as if
he feared her taking offence at Constance's promotion, and sought to
placate her.

Mistress Hopkins gave no sign of knowing that he had turned to her, but
she said to Damaris, as if by chance: "This broth may do more than herb
brews toward curing, though your mother is not a physician's aid," and
Doctor Fuller knew that he had been right.

A week later, though Humility Cooper was recovering, many more had
fallen ill, and several had died.

It was late in January; the winter was set in full of wrath against
those who had dared array themselves to defy its power in the
wilderness, but the sun shone brightly, though without warmth-giving
mercy, upon Plymouth.

There was an armed truce between Giles and his father. The boy would not
beg his father's pardon for having defied him. His love for his father
had been of the nature of hero-worship, and now, turned to bitterness,
it increased the strength of his pride, smarting under false accusation,
to resist his father.

On the other hand Stephen Hopkins, high-tempered, strong of will, was
angry and hurt that his son refused to justify himself, or to plead with
him. So the elder and the younger, as Constance had said, too much
alike, were at a deadlock of suffering and anger toward each other.

Stephen Hopkins was beginning his house on what he had named Leyden
Street, in memory of the pilgrims' refuge in Holland, though only by the
eyes of faith could a street be discerned to bear the name. Like all
else in Plymouth colony, Leyden Street was rather a matter of prophecy
than actuality.

Giles was helping to build the house. All day he worked in silence,
bearing the cold without complaint, but in no wise evincing the
slightest interest in what he did. At night, in spite of the stringent
laws of the Puritan colony, Giles contrived often to slip away with John
Billington into the woods. John Billington's father, who was as unruly
as his boys, connived at these escapades. He was perpetually quarrelling
with Myles Standish, whose duty it was to enforce the law, and who did
that duty without relenting, although by all the colonists, except the
Billingtons, he was loved as well as respected.

Early one morning Constance hurried out of the community house, tears
running down her cheeks, to meet Captain Myles coming toward it.

"Why, pretty Constance, don't grieve, child!" said the Plymouth captain,
heartily.

"Giles hath come to no harm, I warrant you, though he has spent the
night again with that harum-scarum Jack Billington, and this time
Francis Billington, too."

"Oh, Captain Standish, it is not Giles! I forgot Giles," gasped
Constance.

"Rose?" exclaimed the captain, sharply.

Constance bent her head. "She is passing. I came to seek you," she said,
and together she and the captain went to Rose's side.

They found Doctor Fuller there holding Rose's hand as she lay with
closed eyes, breathing lightly. In his other hand he held his watch
measuring the brief moments left, in which Rose Standish should be a
part of time. Mary Brewster, the elder's wife, held up a warning finger
not to disturb Rose, but Doctor Fuller looked quietly toward Captain
Standish.

"It matters not now, Myles," he said. "You cannot harm her. There are
but few moments left."

Myles Standish sprang forward, fell upon his knees, and raised Rose in
his arms.

"Rose of the world, my English blossom, what have I done to bring thee
here?" he sobbed, with a strong man's utter abandonment of grief, and
with none of the Puritan habit of self-restraint.

"Wherever thou hadst gone, I would have chosen, my husband! I loved
thee, Myles, I loved thee Myles!" she said, so clearly that everyone
heard her sweet voice echo to the farthest corner of the room, and for
the last time.

For with that supreme effort to comfort her husband, disarming his
regret, Rose Standish died.

They bore Rose's body, so light that it was scarce a burden to the two
men who carried it as in a litter, forth to the spot upon the hillside
whither they had already made so many similar processions, which was
fast becoming as thickly populated as was that portion of the colony
occupied by the living.

But as the sun mounted higher, although the March winds cut on some
days, then as now they do in March, yet, then as now, there were soft
and dreamy days under the ascending sun's rays, made more effective by
the moderating sea and flat sands.

The devastating diseases of winter began to abate; the pale, weak
remnants of the _Mayflower's_ passengers crept out to walk with a sort
of wonder upon the earth which was new to them, and which they had so
nearly quitted that nothing, even of those aspects of things that most
recalled the home land, seemed to them familiar.

The men began to break the soil for farming, and to bring forth and
discuss the grain which they had found hidden by the savages--most
fortunately, for without it there would have been starvation to look
forward to after all that they had endured, since no supplies from
England had yet come after them.

There was talk of the _Mayflower's_ return; she had lain all winter in
Plymouth harbour because the Pilgrims had required her shelter and
assistance. Soon she was to depart, a severance those ashore dreaded,
albeit there was well-grounded lack of confidence in the honesty of her
captain, Jones, whom the more outspoken among the colonists denounced
openly as a rascal.

Little Damaris was fretful, as she so often was, one afternoon early in
March; the child was not strong and consequently was peevish. Constance
was trying to amuse her, sitting with the child, warmly wrapped from the
keen wind, in the warmth of the sunshine behind the southern wall of the
community house.

"Tell me a story, Constance," begged Damaris, though it was not "a
story," but several that Constance had already told her. "Make a fairy
story. I won't tell Mother you did. Fairy stories are not lies, no
matter what they say, are they, Connie? I know they are not true and you
tell me they are not true, so why are they lies? Why does Mother say
they are lies? Are they bad, are they, Connie? Tell me one, anyway; I
won't tell her."

"Ah, little Sister, I would rather not do things that we cannot tell
your mother about," said Constance. "I do not think a fairy story is
wrong, because we both know it is make-believe, that there are no
fairies, but your mother thinks them wrong, and I do not want you to do
what you will not tell her you do. Suppose you tell me a story, instead?
That would be fairer; only think how many, many stories I have told you,
and how long it is since you have told me the least little word of one!"

"Well," agreed Damaris, but without enthusiasm. "What shall I tell you
about? Not a Bible one."

"No, perhaps not," Constance answered, looking lazily off to sea. Then,
because she was looking seaward, she added:

"Shall it be one about a sailor? That ought to be an interesting story."

"A true sailor, or a made-up one?" asked Damaris, getting aroused to her
task.

"Do you know one about a real sailor?" Constance somewhat sleepily
inquired.

"Here is a true one," announced Damaris.

"Once upon a time there was a sailor, and he sailed on a ship named the
_Mayflower_. And he came in. And he said: How are you, little girl? And
I said: I am pretty well, but my name is Damaris Hopkins. And he said:
What a nice name. And I said: Yes, it is. And he said: Where is your
folks? and I said: I don't know where my mother went out of the cabin
just this minute. But my sister was around, and my brother Giles was
here, fixing my hammock, 'cause it hung funny and let me roll over on
myself and folded me hurt. And my other brother couldn't go nowheres
'tall, because he was born when we was sailing here, and he can't walk.
And the sailor man said: Yes, there were two babies on the ship when we
came that we didn't have when we started, and show me your hammock. And
I did, and he said it was a nice ham----Constance, what's the matter? I
felt you jump, and you look scared. Is it Indians? Connie, Connie,
don't let 'em get me!"

"No, no, child, there aren't any Indians about," Constance tried to
laugh. "Did I jump? Sometimes people do jump when they almost fall
asleep, and I was just as sleepy as a fireside cat when you began to
tell me the story. Now I am not one bit sleepy! That is the most
interesting story I have heard almost--yes, I think quite--in all my
life! And it is a true one?"

"Yes, every bit true," said Damaris, proudly.

"And the sailor went into the cabin, and saw your hammock, and said it
was a nice one, did he? Well, so it is a nice one! Did your mother see
the man?" asked Constance, trying to hide her impatience.

"No," Damaris shook her head, decidedly. "Mother was coming, but the man
just put his hand in and set my hammock swinging. Then he went out, and
Mother was stopping and she didn't see him. And neither did I, not any
more, ever again."

"Did you tell your mother about this sailor?" Constance inquired.

"Oh, no," sighed Damaris. "I didn't tell her. She doesn't like stories
so much as we do. I tell you all my stories, and you tell me all yours,
don't we, Constance? I didn't tell Mother. She says: 'That's Hopkins to
like stories, and music, and art.' What's art, Connie? And she says:
'You don't get those idle ways from my side, so don't let me hear any
foolish talk, for you will be punished for idle talk.' What's that,
Connie?"

"Oh, idle talk is--idle talk is hard to explain to you, little Damaris!
It is talk that has nothing to it, unless it may have something harmful
to it. You'll understand when you are old enough to make what you do
really matter. But this has not been idle talk to-day! Far, far from
idle talk was that fine story you told me! Suppose we keep that story
all to ourselves, not tell it to anyone at all, will you please, my
darling little sister? Then, perhaps, some day, I will ask you to tell
it to Father! Would not that be a great day for Damaris? But only if you
don't tell it to any one till then, not to your mother, not to any one!"
Constance insisted, hoping to impress the child to the point of secrecy,
yet not to let her feel how much Constance herself set upon this
request.

"I won't! I won't tell it to any one; not to Mother, not to any one,"
Damaris repeated the form of her vow. Then she looked up into
Constance's face with a puzzled frown.

"But you wouldn't tell a fairy story, because you said you didn't want
things I couldn't tell mother! And now you say I mustn't tell her about
my story!" she said.

Constance burst out laughing, and hugged Damaris to her, hiding in the
child's hood a merrier face than she had worn for many, many a day.

"You have caught me, little Damaris!" she cried. "Caught me fairly! But
that was a _fairy_ story, don't you see? This isn't, this is true. So
this is not to be told, not now, do you see?"

Damaris said "yes," slowly, with the frown in her smooth little brow
deepening. It was puzzling; she did not really see, but since Constance
expected her to see she said "yes," and felt curiously bewildered.
However, what Constance said was to her small half-sister not merely
law, but gospel. Constance was always right, always the most lovable,
the most delightful person whom Damaris knew.

"All right, Connie. I won't tell anyone my sailor-man story," she said
at last, clearing up.

"Just now," Constance supplemented her. "Some day you shall tell it,
Damaris! Some day I shall want you to tell it! And now, little Sister,
will you go into the house and tell Oceanus to hurry up and grow big
enough to run about, because the world, our new world, is getting to be
a lovely place in the spring sunshine, and he must grow big enough to
enjoy it as fast as he can? I must find Giles; I have something
beautiful, beautiful to tell him!"

She kissed Damaris before setting her on her feet, and the child kissed
her in return, clinging to her.

"You are so funny, Constance!" she said, in great satisfaction with her
sister's drollery in a world that had been filled with gloom and illness
for what seemed to so young a child, almost all her life.

"Ah, I want to be, Damaris! I want to be funny, and happy, and glad! Oh,
I want to be!" cried Constance, and ran away at top speed with a rare
relapse into her proper age and condition.



CHAPTER VII

The Persuasive Power of Justice and Violence


John Billington had been forced reluctantly to work on the houses
erecting in the Plymouth plantation.

He was not lazy, but he was adventuresome, and steady employment held
for him no attraction. Since Captain Standish and the others in
authority would deal with him if he tried to shirk his share of daily
work, John made it as bearable as possible by joining himself to Giles
in the building of the Hopkins house. Constance knew that she should
find the two boys building her future home, and thither she ran at her
best speed, and Constance could run like a nymph.

"Oh, Giles!" she panted, coming up to the two amateur carpenters, and
rejoicing that they were alone.

"Oh, Con!" Giles echoed, turning on his ladder to face her, half sitting
on a rung. "What's forward? Hath the king sent messengers calling me
home to be prime minister? Sorry to disappoint His Royal Highness, but I
can't go. I'd liefer be a trapper!"

"And that's what your appointment is!" triumphed Constance. "You're to
trap big game, no less than a human rascal! Oh, Giles and Jack, do hear
what I've got to tell you!"

"But for us to hear, you must tell, Con!" John Billington reminded her.
"I'll bet a golden doubloon you've got wind of the missing papers!"

"We don't bet, Jack, but if we did you'd win your wager," Constance
laughed. "Damaris told me 'a true story,' and now I'm going to tell it
to you. Fancy that little person having this story tucked away in her
brain all these weary days!"

And Constance related Damaris's entertainment of her, to which John
Billington listened with many running comments of tongue and whistled
exclamations, but Giles in perfect silence, betraying no excitement.

"Here's a merry chance, Giles!" John cried as soon as Constance ended.
"What with savages likely to visit us and robbers for us to hunt, why
life in the New World may be bearable after all!"

Giles ignored his jubilant comment.

"I shall go out to the _Mayflower_ and get the packet," he said. "It is
too late to-day, but in the morning early I shall make it. I suppose you
will go with me, Jack?"

"Safe to suppose it," said John. "I'd swim after you if you started
without me."

"Won't you take Captain Standish? I mean won't you ask him to help you?"
asked Constance, anxiously. "It is sufficient matter to engage him, and
he is our protector in all dangers."

"We need no protection, little Sis," said Giles, loftily. "It hath been
my experience that a just cause is sufficient. We have suspected the
master of the _Mayflower_ of trickery all along."

Constance could not forbear a smile at her brother's worldly-wise air of
deep knowledge of mankind, but nevertheless she wished that "the right
arm of the colony" might be with the boys to strike for them if need
were.

It was with no misgiving as to their own ability, but with the highest
glee, that Giles and John made their preparations to set forth just
before dawn.

They kept their own counsel strictly and warned Constance not to talk.

There was not much to be done to make ready, merely to see that the
small boat, built by the boys for their own use, was tight, and to tuck
out of sight under her bow seat a heavy coat in case the east
wind--which the pilgrims had soon learned was likely to come in upon
them sharply on the warmest day--blew up chillingly.

John Billington owned, by his father's reckless indulgence, a pistol
that was his chief treasure; a heavy, clumsy thing, difficult to hold
true, liable to do the unexpected, the awkward progenitor of the pretty
modern revolver, but a pistol for all its defects, and the apple of
John's eye. This he had named Bouncing Bully, invariably spoke of it as
"he", and felt toward it and treated it not merely as his arms, but as
his companion in arms.

Bouncing Bully was to make the third member of the party; he accompanied
John, hidden with difficulty because of his bulk, in the breast of his
coat, when he crept out without disturbing his father and Francis, to
join Giles at the spot on the shore where their flat-bottomed row boat
was pulled up.

He found Giles awaiting him, watching the sands in a crude hour glass
which he had himself constructed.

"I've been waiting an hour," Giles said as John came up. "I know you are
not late, but all the same here I have stood while this glass ran out,
with ten minutes more since I turned it again."

"Well, I'm here now; take hold and run her out," said John, seizing the
boat's bow and bracing to shove her.

"Row out. I'll row back," commanded Giles as he and John swung over the
side of the boat out of the waves into which they had waded.

They did not talk as they advanced upon the _Mayflower_ which lay at
anchor in the harbour. They had agreed upon boarding her with as little
to announce their coming as possible. As it chanced, there being no need
of guarding against surprise, there was no one on deck when the boys
made their boat fast to the ship's cable, and clambered on deck--save
one round-faced man who was swabbing the deck to the accompaniment of
his droning a song, tuneless outside his own conception of it.

"Lord bless and save us but you dafted me, young masters!" this man
exclaimed when Giles and John appeared; he leaned against the rail with
the air of a fine lady, funny to see in one so stoutly stalwart.

"I didna know ye at sight; now I see 'tis Master Giles and Master John
Billington, whose pranks was hard on us crossing."

"You are not the man we want," said Giles, haughtily, trusting to
assurance to win his end. "Fetch me that man who goes in and about the
cabin at times, the one that stands well with Jones, the ship's master."

This last was a gamble on chance, but Giles felt sure of his
conclusions, that the captain was at the bottom of the loss of the
papers, the actual thief his tool.

"Aye, I know un," said the man, nodding sagely, proud of his quickness.
"'Tis George Heaton, I make no doubt. The captain gives him what is
another, better man's due. Master Jones gives him his ear and his
favour. 'Tis George, slick George, you want, of that I'm certain." He
nodded many times as he ended.

"Likely thing," agreed Giles. "Fetch him."

The deck cleaner departed in a heavy fashion, and returned shortly in
company with a wiry, slender young man, having a handsome face, a quick
roving eye, crafty, but clever.

"Ah, George, do you remember me?" asked Giles. "Don't dare to offer me
your hand, my man, for I'd not touch it."

"I may be serving as a sailor, but I'm as good a gentleman born as you,"
retorted Heaton, flushing angrily.

"Decently born you may be; of that I know nothing. Pity is it that you
have gone so far from your birthday," said Giles. "But as good a
gentleman as I am you are not, nor as anyone, as this honest fellow
here. For blood or no blood, a thief is far from a gentleman."

George Heaton made a step forward with upraised fist, but Giles looked
at him contemptuously, and did not fall back.

"No play acting here. Give me the papers you stole out of my
stepmother's care, out of my little sister's sleeping hammock, weeks
agone," said Giles, coolly. "Your game is up. For some reason the child
did not tell us of your act till now; now she hath spoken. Fortunately
the ship hath lingered for you to be dealt with before she took you back
to England. Hand over the papers, Heaton, if you ever hope to be nearer
England than the arm of the tree from which you shall hang on the New
England coast, unless you restore your booty."

Heaton looked into Giles's angry eyes and quailed. The boy had grown up
during the hard winter, and Heaton recognized his master; more than
that, he had the cowardice that had made him the ready tool of Captain
Jones--the cowardice of the man who lives by tricks, trusting them to
carry him to success--who will not stand by his colours because he has
no standard of loyalty.

"I haven't got your father's papers, Giles Hopkins," he growled,
dropping his eyes.

"You could have said much that I would not have believed, but that I
believe," said Giles. "Do you know what Master Jones did with them when
you gave them over to him, you miserable cat's paw?"

"How about giving the cat to the cat's paw, Giles?" suggested John,
grinning in huge enjoyment of George Heaton's instant, sailor's
appreciation of his joke and the offices of "the cat" with which sailors
were lashed in punishment.

"I hope it will not be necessary. If Captain Standish comes with a
picked number of our men to get these papers, there will be worse beasts
than the cat let loose on the _Mayflower_. Lead me to the captain,
Heaton, and remember it will go hard with you if you let him lead you
into denial of the crime you committed for him," said Giles, with such a
dignity as filled rollicking John, who wanted to turn the adventure into
a frolic, with admiration for his comrade.

"Stand by you and Jones will deal with me. Stand by him and you threaten
me with your men, led by that fighting Standish of yours. Between you
where does George Heaton stand?" asked Heaton sullenly, turning,
nevertheless, to do Giles's bidding.

"You should have thought of this before," said Giles, coolly. "There
never yet was wisdom and safety in rascality."

Captain Jones, whose connection with the pilgrims was no more than that
he had been hired by them to bring them to the New World, was a man
whose honesty many of his passengers mistrusted, but against whom, as
against the captain of the _Speedwell_ that had turned back, there was
no proof.

He was coming out of his cabin to his breakfast when Heaton brought the
boys to him; he started visibly at the sight of Giles, but recovered
himself instantly and greeted the lads affably.

"Good morning, my erstwhile passengers and new colonists," he said. "I
have wondered that at least the younger members of your community did
not visit the ship. Welcome!" He held out his hand, but neither Giles
nor John seemed to see it.

"Master Jones," said Giles, "there is no use wasting time and phrases.
This man, at your orders, stole out of the women's cabin on this ship
the papers left by my father in his wife's care. He has given them up to
you. The story has only now--yesterday--come to our knowledge. Give me
those papers."

"What right have you to accuse me, _me_, the master of this ship?"
demanded Captain Jones, blustering. "Have a care that I don't throw you
overboard. Take your boat and be gone before harm comes to you!"

"You would throw more than us overboard if you dared to touch us,"
returned Giles. "Nor is it either of us to whom harm threatens. Come,
Master Jones, those papers! My father, none of the colony, knows of your
crime. What do you think will befall you when they do know it? Hand us
the papers, not one lacking, and we will let you go back to England free
and safe. Refuse----Well, it's for you to choose, but I'd not hesitate
in your place." Giles shrugged his shoulders, half turning away, as if
after all the result of his mission did not concern him.

John saw a telepathic message exchanged between the captain and his
tool. The question wordlessly asked Heaton whether the theft of the
papers, their possession by the captain, actually was known, and
Heaton's eyes answering: "Yes!"

Captain Jones swallowed hard, as if he were swallowing a great dose, as
he surely was. After a moment's thought he spoke:

"See here, Giles Hopkins, I always liked you, and now I father admire
you for your courage in thus boarding my ship and bearding me. I admit
that I hold the papers. But, as of course you can easily see, I am
neither a thief nor a receiver of stolen goods. My reason for wanting
those papers was no common one. I am willing to restore to you those
which relate to your family inheritance, your father's personal papers,
but those which relate to Plymouth colony I want. I can use them to my
advantage in England. Take this division of the documents and go back
with my congratulations on your conduct."

"I would liefer your blame than your praise, sir," said Giles,
haughtily, in profound disgust with the man. "It needs no saying that my
father would part with any private advantage sooner than with what had
been entrusted to him. First and most I demand the Plymouth colony
documents. Get the papers, not one lacking, and let me go ashore. The
wide harbour's winds are not strong enough for me to breathe on your
ship. It sickens me."

Captain Jones gave the boy a malevolent look.

"A virtue of necessity," he muttered, turning to go.

"And your sole virtue?" suggested Giles to his retreating back.

Captain Jones was gone a long time. The boys fumed with impatience and
feared harm to the papers, but George Heaton grinned at them with the
utmost cheerfulness. He had completely sloughed off all share in the
theft and plainly enjoyed his superior's discomfiture, being of that
order of creatures whose malice revels in the mischances of others.

It proved that the captain's delay was due to his reluctance to comply
with Giles's demand. He came at last, slowly, bearing in his hand the
packet enveloped in oilskin which Giles remembered having seen in his
father's possession.

"I must do your bidding, youngster," he said angrily, "for you can harm
me otherwise. But what guarantee have I, if I hand these papers to you,
that you will keep the secret?"

"I never said that the secret would be kept; I said that you should
suffer no harm. An innocent person is accused of this theft; the truth
must be known. But I can and do promise you that you shall not be
molested; I can answer for that. As to guarantee, you know my father,
you know the Plymouth pilgrims, you know me. Is there any doubt that we
are honourable, conscientious, God-fearing, the sort that faithfully
keep their word?" demanded Giles.

"No. I grant you that. Take your packet," said Captain Jones, yielding
it.

"By your leave I will examine it," said Giles unfastening its straps.

"Do you doubt me?" blustered the captain.

"Not a whit," laughed John with a great burst of mirth, before Giles
could answer.

"Why should we doubt you? Haven't you shown us exactly what you are?"

Giles turned over the papers one by one. None was missing. He folded
them and replaced them in their case, buckling its straps.

"All the papers are here," he said. "John, we'll be off. This is our
final visit to the _Mayflower_, Master Jones--unless I ship with you for
England. Good voyage, as I hear they say in France. Hope you'll catch a
bit of Puritan conscience before you leave the harbour."

Captain Jones followed the boys to the side of the ship where they were
to reëmbark in their rowboat. At every step he grew angrier, the veins
swelled in his forehead which was only a shade less purple-red than his
cheeks. His defeat was a sore thing, the disappointment of the plans
which he had laid upon the possession of the stolen documents became
more vividly realized with each moment, and the fact that two lads had
thus conquered him and were going away with their prize infuriated him.

Giles had swung himself down into the boat and was shipping the oars,
but John halted for a moment in a stuffy corner to gloat over the
captain's empurpled face and to dally with a temptation to add
picturesqueness to their departure. The temptation got the upper hand of
him, though John usually held out both hands to mischief.

He drew Bouncing Bully from his breast and levelled it.

"Stop! Gunpowder!" screamed the captain, choking with fear and rage, and
pointing at a small keg that stood hard by.

"I won't hit it," John grinned, delightedly. "Let's see how _my_
gunpowder is." With a flourish the mad boy fired a shot into the wall of
the tiny cabin, regardless of the fact that the likely explosion of the
keg of gunpowder would have blown up the _Mayflower_ and him with her.

The captain fell forward on his face, the men who were at work splicing
ropes in the cubby-like cabin cowered speechless, their faces ashen.

John whooped with joy and fled, leaping into the rowboat which he nearly
upset.

"What?" demanded Giles. "Who shot? Did he attack you, Jack?"

"Who? No one attacked me. I shot. Zounds, they were scared! In that
pocket of a cabin, with a keg of gunpowder sitting close," chuckled
John.

"What in the name of all that's sane did you do that for?" cried Giles.
"Scared! I should say with reason! Why, Jack Billington, you might be
blown to bits by this time, ship, men, yourself, and all!"

"I might be," assented Jack, coolly. "I'm not. Giles, you should have
seen your shipmaster Jones! Flat on his face and fair blubbering with
fear and fury! He loves us not, my Giles! I doubt his days are dull on
the _Mayflower_, so long at anchor. 'Twas but kind to stir up a lively
moment. Here, give me an oar! Even though you said you would row back, I
feel like helping you. Wait till I settle Bouncing Bully. He's digging
me in the ribs, to remind me of the joke we played 'em, I've no doubt;
but he hurts. That's better. Now for shore and your triumph, old Giles!"



CHAPTER VIII

Deep Love, Deep Wound


Constance had escaped from Humility Cooper and Elizabeth Tilley who had
affectionately joined her when she had appeared on her way to the beach
to await Giles's return.

Constance invented a question that must be asked Elder Brewster because
she knew that the girls, though they revered him, feared him, and never
willingly went where they must reply to his gravely kind attempts at
conversation with them. "I surely feel like a wicked hypocrite," sighed
Constance, watching her friends away as she turned toward the house that
sheltered the elder.

"What would dear little Humility say if she knew I had tried to get rid
of her? Or Elizabeth either! But it isn't as though I had not wanted
them for a less good reason. I do love them dearly! I must meet Giles
and hear his news as soon as I can, and it can't be told before another.
Mercy upon us, what _was_ it that I had thought of to ask Elder
Brewster! I've forgotten every syllable of it! Well, mercy upon us! And
suppose he sees me hesitating here! I know! I'll confess to him that I
was wishing I was in Warwickshire hearing Eastertide alleluias sung in
my cousins' church, and ask him if it was sinful. He loves to correct
me, dear old saint!"

Dimpling with mischief Constance turned her head away from a possible
onlooker in the house to pull her face down into the proper expression
for a youthful seeker for guidance. Then, quite demure and serious, with
downcast eyes, she turned and went into the house.

Elder William Brewster kept her some time. She was nervously anxious to
escape, fearing to miss the boys' arrival. But Elder Brewster was
deeply interested in pretty Constance Hopkins, in whom, in spite of her
sweet docility and patient daily performance of her hard tasks, he
discerned glimpses of girlish liveliness that made him anxious and which
he felt must be corrected to bring the dear girl into perfection.

Constance decided that she was expiating fully whatever fault there
might have been in feigning an errand to Elder Brewster to get rid of
the girls as she sat uneasily listening to that good man's exposition of
the value of alleluias in the heart above those sung in church, and the
baseness of allowing the mind to look back for a moment at the "shackles
from which she was freed." Good Elder Brewster ended by reading from his
roughened brown leather-covered Bible the story of Lot's wife to which
Constance--who had heard it many times, it being an appropriate theme
for the pilgrim band to ponder, sick in heart and body as they had been
so long--did not harken.

At last she was dismissed with a fatherly hand laid on her shining head,
and a last warning to keep in mind how favoured above her English
cousins she had been to be chosen a daughter in Israel to help found a
kingdom of righteousness. Constance ran like the wind down the road,
stump-bordered, the beginning of a street, and came down upon the beach
just as the boys reached it and their boat bumped up on the sand under
the last three hard pulls they had given the oars in unison.

"Oh! Giles, oh, Giles, oh Jack!" cried Constance fairly dancing under
her excitement.

"Oh, Con, oh, Con! Oh, Constantia!" mocked John, hauling away on the
painter and getting the boat up to her tying stake.

"What happened you? Have you news?" Constance implored them.

"We heard no especial news, Con," said Giles. "I'm not sure we asked for
any. We have this instead; will that suffice you?"

He took from his breast the packet of papers and offered it to her.

"Oh, Giles!" sighed Constance, clasping her hands, tears of relief
springing to her eyes. "All of them? Are they all safe? Thank Heaven!"
she added as Giles nodded.

"Did you have trouble getting them? Who held them? Tell me everything!"

"Give me a chance Constantia Chatter," said Giles, using the name
Constance had been dubbed when, a little tot, she ceaselessly used her
new accomplishment of talking. "We had no trouble, no. We found the
thief and made him confess what we already knew, that he was the
master's cat's paw. Jones had to disgorge; he could not hold the papers
without paying too heavy a penalty. So here they are. Why don't you take
them?"

"I take them?" puzzled Constance, accepting them as Giles thrust them
into her hand. "Do you want me to put them away for you? Are you not
coming to dinner? There is not enough time to go to work before noon.
The sun was not two hours from our noon mark beside the house when I
left it."

"I suppose I am going to dinner," said Giles. "I am ready enough for it.
No, I don't want you to put the papers away for me. You can do with them
what you like. I should advise your giving them to Father, since they
are his, but that is as you will. I give them into your hands."

"Giles, Giles!" cried Constance, in distress, instantly guessing that
this meant that Giles was intending to hold aloof from a part in
rejoicing over the recovery.

"Give them to Father yourself. How proud of you he will be that you
ferreted out the thief and went so bravely, with only John, to demand
them for him! It is not my honour, and I must not take it."

"Oh, as to honour, you got the first clue from Damaris, if there's
honour in it, but for that I do not care. I did the errand when you sent
me on it, or opened my way. However it came about I will not give the
papers to my father. In no wise will I stoop to set myself right in his
eyes. Perhaps he will say that the whole story is false, that I did not
get the papers on the ship, but had them hidden till fear and an uneasy
conscience made me deliver them up, and that you are shielding your
brother," said Giles, frowning as he turned from Constance.

"And I thought now everything would be right!" groaned the girl--her
lips quivering, tears running down her cheeks. "Giles, dear Giles;
don't, don't be so bitter, so unforgiving! It is not just to Father, not
just to yourself, to me. It isn't _right_. Giles! Will you hold this
grudge against the father you so loved, and forget all the years that
went before, for a miserable day when he half harboured doubt of you,
and that when he was torn by influence, tormented till he was hardly
himself?"

"Now, Constance, there is no need of your turning preacher," Giles said,
harshly.

"If you like to swallow insult, well and good. It does not matter about
a girl, but a man's honour is his chiefest possession. Take the papers,
and prate no more to me. My father wanted them; there they are. He
suspected me of stealing them; I found the thief. That's all there is
about it. What is there to-day to eat? An early row makes a man hungry.
Art ready, Jack? We will go to the house, by your leave, pretty Sis.
Sorry to see your eyes reddening, but better that than other harm."

Constance hesitated as Giles went up the beach, taking John with him.
For a moment she debated seeking Captain Standish, giving him the
papers, and asking him to be intermediary between her father and this
headstrong boy, who talked so largely of himself as "a man," and behaved
with such wrong-headed, childish obstinacy. But a second thought
convinced her that she herself might serve Giles better than the
captain, and she took her way after her brother, beginning to hope, true
to herself, that her father's pleasure in recovering the papers, his
desire to make amends to Giles, would express itself in such wise that
they would be drawn together closer than before the trouble arose.

It was turning into a balmy day, after a chilly morning. Though only the
middle of March the air was full of spring. In the community house, as
Constance entered, she found her stepmother, and Mrs. White--each with
her _Mayflower_-born baby held in one arm--busily setting forth the
dinner, while Priscilla and Humility and Elizabeth helped them, and the
smaller children, headed by Damaris, attempted to help, were sharply
rebuked for getting in the way, subsided, but quickly darted up again to
take a dish, or hand a knife which their inconsistent elders found
needed.

Several men--Mr. Hopkins, Mr. White; Mr. Warren, whose wife had not yet
come from England; Doctor Fuller, in like plight; John and Francis
Billington's father, John Alden and Captain Myles Standish, as a matter
of course--were discussing planting of corn while awaiting the finishing
touches to their carefully rationed noonday meal.

"If you follow my counsel," the captain was saying, "you will plant over
the spot where we have laid so many of our company. Thus far we hardly
are aware of our savage neighbours, but with the warm weather they will
come forth from their woodlands, and who knows what may befall us from
them? Better, say I, conceal from them that no more than half of those
who sailed hither are here to-day. Better hide from their eyes beneath
the tall maize the graves on yonder hillside."

"Well said, good counsel, Captain Myles," said Stephen Hopkins. "God's
acre, the folk of parts of Europe call the enclosure of their dead. We
will make our acre God's acre, planting it doubly for our protection, in
grain for our winter need, concealment of our devastation."

Suddenly the air was rent with a piercing shriek, and little Love
Brewster, the Elder's seven-year-old son, came tumbling into the house,
shaking and inarticulate with terror.

Priscilla Mullins caught him into her lap and tried to sooth him and
discover the cause of his fright, but he only waved his little hands
frantically and sobbed beyond all possibility of guessing what words
were smothered beneath the sobs.

"Elder Brewster promised to let the child pass the afternoon with
Damaris," began Mrs. Hopkins, but before she got farther John Alden
started up.

"Look there," he said. "Is it wonderful that Love finds the sight beyond
him?"

[Illustration: "'Look there,' said John Alden"]

Stalking toward the house in all the awful splendour of paint, feathers,
beads, and gaudy blanket came a tall savage. He had, of course, seen the
child and realized his fright and that he had run to alarm the pilgrims,
but not a whit did it alter the steady pace at which he advanced,
looking neither to left nor to right, his arms folded upon his breast,
no sign apparent of whether he came in friendship or in enmity.

The first instinct of the colonists, in this first encounter with an
Indian near to the settlement was to be prepared in case he came in
enmity.

Several of the men reached for the guns which hung ready on the walls,
and took them down, examining their horns and rods as they handled them.
But the savage, standing in the doorway, made a gesture full of calm
dignity which the pilgrims rightly construed to mean salutation, and
uttered a throaty sound that plainly had the same import.

"Welcome!" hazarded Myles Standish advancing with outstretched hand upon
the new-comer, uncertain how to begin his acquaintance, but hoping this
might be pleasing. "Yes," said the Indian in English, to the boundless
surprise of the Englishmen. "Yes, welcome, friend!" He took Captain
Standish's hand.

"Chief?" he asked. "Samoset," he added, touching his own breast, and
thus introducing himself.

"How in the name of all that is wonderful did he learn English!" cried
Stephen Hopkins.

"Yes, Samoset know," the Indian turned upon him, understanding. "White
men ships fish far, far sunrise," he pointed eastward, and they knew
that he was telling them that English fishermen had been known to him,
whose fishing grounds lay toward the east.

"'Tis true; our men have been far east and north of here," said Myles
Standish, turning toward Stephen Hopkins, as to one who had travelled.

"Humphrey Gilbert, but many since then," nodded Mr. Hopkins.

"Big chief Squanto been home long time white men, he talk more Samoset,"
said Samoset. "Squanto come see----." He waved his hand comprehendingly
over his audience, to indicate whom Squanto intended to visit.

"Well, womenfolk, you must find something better than you give us, and
set it forth for our guest," said Stephen Hopkins. "Get out our English
beer; Captain Myles I'll undertake, will join me in foregoing our
portion to-morrow for him. And the preserved fruits; I'm certain he will
find them a novelty. And you must draw on our store of trinkets for
gifts. Lads--Giles, John, Francis--help the girls open the chest and
make selection."

Samoset betrayed no understanding of these English words, maintaining a
stolid indifference while preparations for his entertainment went on.
But he did full justice to the best that the colonists had to set before
him and accepted their subsequent gifts with a fine air of noble
condescension, as a monarch accepting tribute.

Later with pipes filled with the refreshing weed from Virginia, which
had circuitously found its way back to the New World, via England, the
Plymouth men sat down to talk to Samoset.

Limited as was his vocabulary, broken as was his speech, yet they
managed to understand much of what he told them, valuable information
relating to their Indian neighbours near by, to the state of the
country, to climate and soil, and to the people of the forests farther
north.

Samoset went away bearing his gifts, with which, penetrating his
reserve, the colonists saw that he was greatly pleased. He promised a
speedy return, and to bring to them Squanto, from whose friendship and
better knowledge of their speech and race evidently Samoset thought they
would gain much.

The younger men--Doctor Fuller, John Alden and others, needless to say
Giles, John, and Francis Billington, under the conduct of Myles
Standish--accompanied Samoset for a few miles on his return.

The sun was dropping westward, the night promising to be as warmly kind
as the day had been, and Constance slipped her hand into her father's
arm as he stood watching their important guest's departure, under his
escort's guardianship.

"A little tiny walk with me, Father dear?" she hinted. "I like to watch
the sunset redden the sands, and it is so warm and fine. Besides, I have
something most beautiful to tell you!"

"Good news, Con? This seems to be a day of good things," said her
father, as Constance nodded hard. "The coming of yonder Indian seems to
me the happiest thing that could well have befallen us. Given the
friendship of our neighbouring tribes we have little to fear from more
distant ones, and the great threat to our colony's continuance is
removed. Well, I will walk with you child, but not far nor long. There
is scant time for dalliance in our lives, you know."

They went out, Constance first running to snatch her cloak and pull its
deep hood over her hair as a precaution against a cold that the warm day
might betray her into, and which she had good reason to fear who had
helped nurse the victims of the first months of the immigration.

"The good news, Daughter?" hinted Mr. Hopkins after they had walked a
short distance in silence.

Constance laughed triumphantly, giving his arm a little shake. "I waited
to see if you wouldn't ask!" she cried, "I knew you were just as
curious, you men, as we poor women creatures--but of course in a big,
manly way!" She pursed her lips and shook her head, lightly pinching her
father to point her satire.

"Have a care, Mistress Constantia!" her father warned her. "Curiosity is
a weakness, even dangerous, but disrespect to your elders and betters,
what is that?"

"Great fun," retorted Constance.

Her father laughed. He found his girl's playfulness, which she was
recovering with the springtide and the relief from the heavy sorrow of
the first weeks in Plymouth, refreshing amid the extreme seriousness of
most of the people around him. "Proceed with your tidings, you saucy
minx!" he said.

"Very well then, Mr. Stephen Hopkins," Constance obeyed him, "what would
you say if I were to tell you that there was news of your missing packet
of papers?"

Stephen Hopkins stopped short. "I should say thank God with all my
heart, Constance, not merely because the loss was serious, but most of
all because of Giles. Is it true?" he asked.

"They are found!" cried Constance, jubilantly, "and it was Giles himself
who faced the thief and forced him to give them up. It is a fine
tale!" And she proceeded to tell it.

Her father's relief, his pleasure, was evidently great, but to
Constance's alarm as the story ended, his face settled into an
expression of annoyance.

"It is indeed good news, Constance, and I am grateful, relieved by it,"
he said, having heard her to the end. "But why did not Giles tell me
this himself, bring me the recovered packet? Would it not be natural to
wish to confer upon me, himself, the happiness he had won for me, to
hasten to me with his victory, still more that it clears him of the
least doubt of complicity in the loss?"

"Ah, no, Father! That is just the point of his not doing so!" cried
Constance. "Giles is sore at heart that you felt there might be a doubt
of him. He cannot endure it, nor seem to bring you proofs of his
innocence. I suppose he does not feel like a boy, but like a man whose
honour is questioned, and by--forgive me, Father, but I must make it
clear--by one whose trust in him should be stronger than any other's."

"Nonsense, Constantia!" Stephen Hopkins exploded, angrily. "What are we
coming to if we cannot question our own children? Giles is not a man; he
is a boy, and my boy, so I shall expect him to render me an account of
his actions whenever, and however I demand it. I'll not stand for his
pride, his assumption of injured dignity. Let him remember that! Thank
God my son is an honest lad, as by all reason he should be. But though
he is right as to the theft, he is wrong in his arrogance, and pride is
as deadly a sin as stealing. I want no more of this nonsense."

"Oh, Father dear," cried Constance, wringing her hands with her peculiar
gesture when matters got too difficult for those small hands. "Please,
please be kind to Giles! Oh, I thought everything would be all right now
that the packet was recovered, and by him! Be patient with him, I beg
you. He is not one that can be driven, but rather won by love to do your
will. If you will convey to him that you regret having suspected him he
will at once come back to be our own Giles."

"Have a care, Constantia, that in your anxiety for your brother you do
not fall into a share of his fault!" warned her father. "It is not for
you to advise me in my dealing with my son. As to trying to placate him
by anything like an apology: preposterous suggestion! That is not the
way of discipline, my girl! Let Giles indicate to me his proper
humility, his regret for taking the attitude that I am not in authority
over him, free to demand of him any explanation, any evidence of his
character I please. No, no, Constance! You mean well, but you are
wrong."

Thus saying, Mr. Hopkins turned on his heel to go back to the house, and
Constance followed, no longer with her hand on her father's arm, but
understanding the strong annoyance he felt toward Giles, and painfully
conscious that her pleading for her brother had done less than no good.



CHAPTER IX

Seedtime of the First Spring


Giles Hopkins and John and Francis Billington slept in the new house,
now nearly finished, on Leyden Street. Therefore it happened that
Stephen Hopkins did not see his son until the morning after the recovery
of the papers.

"Well, Giles," said his father, with a smile that Giles took to be
mocking, but in which the father's hidden gratification really strove to
escape, "so you played a man's part with the _Mayflower_ captain, at the
same time proving yourself? I am glad to get my papers, boy, and glad
that you have shown that you had no share in their loss, but only in
their return. Henceforth be somewhat less insolent when appearances are
against you; still better take care that appearances, facts as well, are
in your favour."

"Appearances are in the eye of the on-looker," said Giles, drawing
himself up and flushing angrily, though, had he but seen it, love and
pride in him shone in his father's eyes, though his tone and words were
careless, gruff indeed.

"If Dame Eliza is to be the glass through which you view me, then it
matters not what course I follow, for you will not see it straight. Nor
do I care to act to the end that you may not suspect me of being fit for
hanging. A gentleman's honour needs no proving, or else is proved by his
sword. And whatever you think of me, I can never defend myself thus
against my father. A father may insult his son with impunity."

"But a boy may not speak insultingly to his father with impunity, Master
Giles Hopkins," said Stephen Hopkins, advancing close to the lad with
his quick temper afire. "One word more of such nature as I just heard
and I will have you publicly flogged, as you richly deserve, and as our
community would applaud."

Giles bowed, his face as angry as his father's, and passed on cutting
the young sprouts along the road with a stick he carried. And thus the
two burning hearts which loved each other--too similar to make
allowances for each other when the way was open to their
reconciliation--were further estranged than before.

In the meantime Constance, Priscilla, and the younger girls, were
starting out, tools in hand, baskets swinging on their arms, to prepare
the first garden of the colony.

"Thank--I mean I rejoice that we are not sent to work amid the graves on
the hillside," said Priscilla, altering her form of expression to
conform with the prescribed sobriety.

"Oh, that is to be planted with the Indian corn, you know," said
Constance. "It grows high, and will hide our graves. Why think of that,
Prissy? I want to be happy." She began to hum a quaint air of her own
making. She had by inheritance the gift of music, as the kindred gift of
love and taste for all beauty, a gift that should never find expression
in her new surroundings.

Presently she found words for her small tune and sang them, swinging her
basket in time with her singing and also swinging Humility Cooper's hand
as she walked, not without some danger of dropping into a sort of dance
step.

This is what she sang:

      Over seas lies England;
      Still we find this wing-land;
    Birds and bees and butterflies flit about us here.
      Eastward lies our Mother,
      Loved as is no other,
    Yet here flowers blossom with the springing year.

      We will plant a garden,
      Eve-like, as the warden
    Of the hope of men unborn, future of the race;
      Tears that we were weeping,
      Watering our keeping,
    Till we make the New World joy's own dwelling place.

Priscilla Mullins stopped short and looked with amazement on her younger
companion.

"Did you make that song, Constance?" she demanded, being used to the
rhyming which Constance made to entertain the little ones.

"It made itself, Pris," laughed Constance.

"Well, I'm no judge of songs, and as to rhyming I could match cat and
rat if it was put to me to do, but no more. Yet it seemeth me that is a
pretty song, with exactly the truth for its burden, and it trippeth as
sweetly as the robin whistles. Do you know, Constance, it seems to me to
run more into smooth cadences than the Metrical Psalms themselves!"
Priscilla dropped her voice as she said this, as if she hoped to be
unheard by the vengeance which might swoop down on her.

Constance's laugh rang out merrily, quite unafraid.

"Oh, dear Prissy, the Metrical Version was not meant to run in smooth
cadences!" she cried. "Do you see why we should not sing as the robin
whistles, being young and God's creatures, surely not less than the
birds? Priscilla Mullins, there is John Alden awaiting us in the very
spot where we are to work! How did he happen there, when no other man is
about?"

"He spoke to me of helping us with the first heavy turning of the soil,"
said Priscilla, exceedingly red and uncomfortable, but constrained to be
truthful. "Oh, Constance, never look at me like that! Can I help it that
Master Alden is so considerate of us?"

"Sure-ly not!" declared Constance emphatically. "What about his
returning home, Pris? He was hired but as cooper for the voyage, and
would return. Will he go, think you?"

"He seems not fully decided. He said somewhat to me of staying." Poor
Priscilla looked more than miserable as she said this, yet was forced to
laugh.

"I will speak to my father and Captain Standish to get them to offer him
work a-plenty this summer, so mayhap they can persuade him to let the
_Mayflower_ sail without him--next week she goes. Or perhaps you could
bring arguments to bear upon him, Priscilla! He never seems
stiff-necked, nor unbiddable." Constance said this with a great effect
of innocence, as if a new thought had struck her, and Priscilla had
barely time to murmur:

"Thou art a sad tease, Constance," before they came up with John Alden,
who looked as embarrassed as Priscilla when he met Constance's dancing
eyes.

Nevertheless it was not long before John Alden and Priscilla Mullins
were working together at a little distance apart from the rest, leaving
Constance to dig and rake in company with Humility Cooper, Elizabeth
Tilley, and the little girls. Thus at work they saw approaching from the
end of the road that was lost in the woods beyond a small but imposing
procession of tall figures, wrapped in gaudy colored blankets, their
heads surmounted with banded feathers which streamed down their backs,
softly waving in the light breeze.

"Oh, dear, oh, dear, Connie, they are savages!" whispered Damaris
looking about as if wishing that a hole had been dug big enough to hide
her instead of the small peas which she was planting.

"But they are friendly savages, small sister," said Constance. "See,
they carry no bows and arrows. Do you know, girls, I believe this is the
great chief Massasoit, of whom Samoset spoke, promising us his visit
soon, and that with him may be Squanto, the Indian who speaks English!
Don't you think we may be allowed to postpone the rest of the work to
see the great conference which will take place if this is Massasoit?"

"Indeed, Constance, my back calls me to cease louder than any savage,"
said Humility, her hand on her waist, twisting her small body from side
to side. "I have been wishing we might dare stop, but I couldn't bring
myself to say so."

"You have not recovered strength for this bending and straining work, my
dear," said Constance in her grandmotherly way. "Priscilla, Priscilla!
John Alden, see!" she called, and the distant pair faced her with a
visible start.

She pointed to the savages, and Priscilla and John hastened to her,
thinking her afraid.

"Do you suppose it may be Massasoit and Squanto?" Constance asked at
once.

"Let us hope so," said John Alden, looking with eager interest at the
Indians. "We hope to make a treaty with Massasoit."

"Before you sail?" inquired Constance, guilelessly.

"Why, I am decided to cast my lot in with the colony, sweet Constance,"
said John, trying, but failing, to keep from looking at Priscilla.

"Pris?" cried Constance, and waited.

Priscilla threw her arms around Constance and hid her face, crying on
her shoulder.

"My people are all dead, Connie, and I alone survive of us all on the
_Mayflower_! Even my brother Joseph died; you know it, Connie! Do you
blame me?" she sobbed.

"Oh, Prissy, dear Prissy!" Constance laughed at this piteous appeal.
"Just as though you did not find John Alden most likeable when we were
sailing and no one had yet died! And just as though you had to explain
liking him! As though we did not all hold him dear and long to keep him
with us! John Alden, I never, never would sit quiet under such insult!
You funny Priscilla! What are you crying for? Aren't you happy? tell me
that!"

"So happy I must cry," sobbed Priscilla, but drying her eyes
nevertheless. "Do you suppose those savages see me?"

"I am sure of it," declared Constance. "Likely they will refuse to make
a treaty with white men whose women act so strangely! My father is going
to be as glad of your treaty with Priscilla as of the savage chief's
treaty, an it be made, Master Alden."

"What is it? What's to do, dear John Alden?" clamoured Damaris, who
never spoke to John without the caressing epithet.

The young man swung her to his shoulder, and kissed the soil-stained
hand which the child laid against his cheek.

"I shall marry Priscilla and stay in Plymouth, not go back to England at
all! Does that please you, little maid?" he cried, gaily.

Damaris scowled at him, weighing the case.

"If you like me best," she said doubtfully.

"Of a certainty!" affirmed John Alden, for once disregarding scruples.
"Could I swing up Priscilla on my shoulder like this, I ask you? Why,
she's not even a little girl!"

And confiding little Damaris was satisfied.

By this time the band of savages had advanced to the point of the road
nearest to where the girls and John Alden were working.

"We must go to greet them lest they find us remiss. We do not know the
workings of their minds," said John Alden, striding down toward them,
followed by the somewhat timorous group of grown and little girls,
Damaris clinging to him, with one hand on Constance, in fearful
enjoyment of the wonderful sight.

"Welcome!" said John Alden, coming across the undergrowth to where the
savages awaited him. "If you come in friendship, as I see you do,
welcome, my brothers."

"Welcome," said an Indian, stepping somewhat in advance. "We come in
friendship. I am Squanto who know your race. I have been in England; I
have seen the king. I am bring you friendship. This is Massasoit, the
great chief. You are not the great white chief. He is old a little. Take
us there."

"Gladly will I take you to our governor, who is, as you say, much older
than I, and to our war chief, Myles Standish, and to the elders of our
nation," said John Alden. "Follow me. You are most welcome, Massasoit,
and Squanto, who can speak our tongue."

The singular company, the girls in their deep bonnets to shade them from
the sun, the Indians in their paint and gay nodding feathers, the
children divided between keen enjoyment of the novelty and equally keen
fear of what might happen next, with John Alden the only white man, came
down into Plymouth settlement, not yet so built up as to suggest the
name.

Governor Carver was busied with William Bradford over the records of the
colony, from which they were making extracts to dispatch to England in
the near sailing of the _Mayflower_. John Alden turned to Elizabeth
Tilley.

"Run on, little maid, and tell the governor and elders whom we bring,"
he said.

Elizabeth darted into the house, earning a frown from the governor for
her lack of manners, but instantly forgiven when she cried:

"John Alden and we who were working in the field are bringing Your
Excellency the Indian chief Massasoit, and Squanto, who talks to us in
English wonderful to hear, when you look at his feathers and painted
face! And John Alden sent me on to tell you. And, there are other
Indians with them. And, oh, Governor Carver, shall I tell the women in
the community house to cook meat for their dinner, or shall it be just
our common dinner of porridge with, maybe, a smoked herring to sharpen
us? For this the governor should order, should not he?"

Governor Carver and William Bradford smiled. As a rule the younger
members of the community over which these elder, grave men were set,
feared them too much to say anything at which they could smile, but the
greatness of this occasion swept Elizabeth beyond herself.

"I think, Mistress Elizabeth Tilley, that the matrons will not need the
governor's counsel as to the feeding of our guests," said Governor
Carver kindly. "Tell Constantia Hopkins to bid her father hither at his
earliest convenience. I shall ask him to make the treaty with Massasoit,
together with Edward Winslow, if it be question of a treaty, as I hope."

Elizabeth sped back and met the approaching guests. She dropped a
frightened curtsy, not knowing the etiquette of meeting a band of
friendly savages. But as they paid no attention to her, her manners did
not matter, and realizing this with relief she joined Constance at the
rear of the procession and delivered her message.

"Porridge indeed!" exclaimed Mistress Hopkins when Elizabeth Tilley
repeated to her the governor's comment on her own suggestion as to the
dinner for the Indian guests. "Porridge is well enough for us, but we
will set the savages down to no such fare, but to our best, lest they
fall to and eat us all some night in the dark of the moon, when we are
asleep and unprotected! Little I thought I should be cooking for wild
red men in an American forest when I learned to make sausage in my
father's house! But learn I did, and to make it fit for the king, so it
should please the savages, though what they like is beyond my knowledge.
Sausage shall they have, and whether or no they will take to griddle
cakes I dare not say, but it's my opinion that men are men, civilized or
wild, and never a man did I see that was not as keen set on griddle
cakes as a fox on a chicken roost. It will be our part to feed these
savages well, for, as I say, men are men, wild or English, and if you
would have a man deal well by you make your terms after he hath well
eaten. Thus may your father and Elder Brewster get a good treaty from
these painted creatures. Get out the flour, Constantia, and stir up the
batter. Humility and Elizabeth, fetch the jar of griddle fat. Priscilla
Mullins, what aileth thee? Art sleep-walking? Call a boy to fetch wood
for the hearth, and fill the kettle. Are you John-a-Dreams, and is this
the time for dreaming?"

"It's John-dream at least, is it not, Prissy?" whispered Constance,
pinching the girl lightly as she passed her on her way to do her share
of her step-mother's bidding.

Later Constance went to summon the guests to the community house for
their dinner. They came majestically, escorted by the governor, Elder
Brewster, William Bradford, Stephen Hopkins, the weighty men of the
colony, with Captain Standish in advance, representing the power of
might. What the Indians thought of these Englishmen no one could tell;
certainly they were not less appreciative of the counsel of the wise
than of the force of arms, having reliance on their own part upon their
medicine men and soothsayers.

What they thought of the white women's cooking was soon perfectly
apparent. It kept the women busy to serve them with cakes, to hold the
glowing coals on the hearth at the right degree to keep the griddle
heated to the point of perfect browning, never passing it to the burning
point. The Indians devoured the cakes like a band of hungry boys, and
Mistress Hopkins's boasted sausage was never better appreciated on an
English farm table than here.

The young girls served the guests, which the Indians accepted as the
natural thing, being used to taking the first place with squaws, both
young and old.

The homebrewed beer which had come across seas in casks abundantly, also
met with ultimate approval, though at first taste two or three of the
Indians nearly betrayed aversion to its bitterness. There were "strong
waters" too, made riper by long tossing in the _Mayflower's_ hold, which
needed no persuading of the Indians' palates.

After the guests had dined Giles, John, Francis, and the other older
boys, came trooping to the community house for their dinner.

When they discovered that Squanto spoke English fairly well they were
agog to hear from him the many things that he could tell them.

"Stay with us; they do not need you," they implored, but Squanto,
mindful of his duties as interpreter, reluctantly left them presently.
Massasoit and his other companions returned with the white men to the
conclave house, which was the governor's and Elder Brewster's home.

"I go but wish I might stay a little hour," said Squanto. He won
Mistress Eliza's heart, with Mistress White's, by his evident
friendliness and desire to stay with them.

After this Damaris and the children could not fear him, and thus at his
first introduction, Squanto, who was to become the friend and reliance
of the colony, became what is even more, the friend of the little
children.



CHAPTER X

Treaties


The girls of the plantation were gathered together in Stephen Hopkins's
house. The logs on the hearth were ash-strewn to check their burning yet
to hold them ready to burn when the hour for preparing supper was come
and the ashes raked away.

Dame Eliza Hopkins had betaken herself to William Bradford's house, the
baby, Oceanus, seated astride her hip in her favourite manner of
carrying him; she protested that she could not endure the gabble of the
girls, but in truth she greatly desired to discuss with Mistress
Bradford, of whom she stood somewhat in awe, the events portending. She
was secretly elated with her husband's coming honour, and wanted to
convey to Mistress Bradford that, as between their two spouses, Stephen
Hopkins was the better man.

Constance, sitting beside the smothered hearth fire, might be
considered, since it was at her father's hearthstone the girls were
gathered, as the hostess of the occasion, but the gathering was for
work, not formalities, and, in any case, Constance was too preoccupied
with her task to pay attention to aught else.

Only the older girls were bidden, but little Damaris was there by right
of tenancy. She sat at Constance's feet, worshipping her, as she turned
and twisted their father's coat, skilfully furbishing it with new
buttons and new binding.

"May Mr. Hopkins wear velvet, Constance?" asked Humility Cooper,
suddenly; she too had been watching Constance work. "Did not Elder
Brewster exhort us to utmost plainness of clothing, as becomes the
saints, who set more store upon heavenly raiment than earthly
splendour?"

Constance looked up laughingly, pushing out of her eyes her waving locks
which had strayed from her cap; she used the back of the hand that held
her needle, pulled at great length through a button which she was
fastening upon her father's worn velvet coat.

"Oh, Humility, splendour?" she laughed. "When I am trying hard to make
this old coat passing decent? Isn't it necessary for us all to wear what
we have, willy-nilly, since nothing else is obtainable, garments not yet
growing on New World bushes? I do believe that some of the brethren
discussed Stephen Hopkins's velvet coat, and decided for it, since it
stood for economy. It stood for more; till a ship brings supplies from
home, it's this, or no coat for my father. But since he has been
selected, with Mr. Edward Winslow, to make the treaty with Massasoit, he
should be clad suitably to his office, were there choice between velvet
and homespun."

"What does he make to treat Mass o' suet, Constance? What is Mass o'
suet; pudding, Constance?" asked Damaris, anxiously, knitting her brow.

Constance's laugh rang out, good to hear. She leaned forward impetuously
and snatched off her little sister's decorous cap, rumpled her sleek
fair hair with both hands pressing her head, and kissed her. Priscilla
Mullins laughed with Constance, looking sympathetically at her, but some
of the other girls looked a trifle shocked at this demonstration.

"Massasoit is a great Indian chief, small lass; he is coming in a day or
so, and Father and Mr. Winslow will make a treaty with him; that means
that Massasoit will promise to be our friend and to protect us from
other Indian tribes, he and his Indians, while we shall promise to be
true friends to him. It is a great good to our colony, and we are proud,
you and I--and I think your mother, too"--Constance glanced with
amusement at Priscilla--"that our father is chosen for the colony's
representative."

"Do you suppose that the Indians know whether cloth or velvet is
grander? Those we see like leather and paint and feathers," said
Priscilla. "I hold that our men should overawe the savages, but----"

"And I hold that brides should be bonny, let it be here, or in England,"
Constance interrupted her. "What will you wear on the day of days,
Priscilla, you darling?"

"Well, I have consulted with Mistress Brewster," admitted Priscilla,
regretfully. "I did think, being a woman, she would know better how a
young maid feeleth as to her bridal gown than her godly husband. But she
saith that it is least of all becoming on such a solemn occasion to let
my mind consider my outward seeming. So I have that excellent wool
skirt that Mistress White dyed for me a good brown, and that with my
blue body----"

"Blue fiddlesticks, Priscilla Mullins!" Constance again interrupted her,
impatiently. "You'll wear nothing of the kind. I tell you it shall be
white for you on your wedding day, with your comely face and your honest
eyes shining over it! I have a sweet embroidered muslin, and I can
fashion it for you with a little cleverness and a deep frill combined,
for that you are taller than I, and more plump to take up its length,
there's no denying, Prissy dear! We'll not stand by and see our
plantation's one real romance end in dyed brown cloth and dreariness,
will we, girls?"

"No!" cried Humility Cooper who would have followed Constance's lead
into worse danger than a pretty wedding gown for Priscilla.

But Elizabeth Tilley, her cousin, looked doubtful. "It sounds nice," she
admitted, "but I never can tell what is wrong and what is right,
because, though we read our Bibles to learn our duty, the Bible does not
condemn pleasure, and our teachers do. So it might be safer to wear dull
garments when we are married, Constance, and not be light-minded."

"You mean light-bodied; light-coloured bodies, Betsy!" Constance laughed
at her, with a glint of mischievous appreciation of Elizabeth's
unconscious humour that was like her father. "No, indeed, my sister
pilgrim. A snowy gown for Pris, though I fashion it, who am not too
skilful. Oh, Francis Billington, how you scared me!" she cried, jumping
to her feet and upsetting Damaris who leaned upon her, as Francis
Billington burst into the room, out of breath, but full of importance.

"Nothing to fear with me about, girls," he assured the roomful. "But
great news! Massasoit has come, marched in upon us before we expected
him, and the treaty is to be made to-morrow. Squanto is as proud and
delighted as----"

Squanto himself appeared in the doorway at that moment, a smile mantling
his high cheek bones and a gleam in his eyes that betrayed the
importance that his pride tried to conceal.

"Chief come, English girls," he announced. "No more you be fear Indian;
Massasoit tell you be no more fear, he and Squanto fight for you, and he
say true. No more fear, little English girl!" he laid his hand
protectingly upon Damaris's head and the child smiled up at him,
confidingly.

Giles came fast upon Squanto's heels. His face was flushed, his eyes
kindled; Constance saw with a leap of her heart that he looked like the
lad she had loved in England and had lost in the New World.

"Got Father's coat ready, Con?" he asked. "There's to be a counsel held,
and my father is to preside over it on our side, arranging with
Massasoit. My father is to settle with him for the colony--of course
Mr. Winslow will have his say, also."

"I meant to furbish the coat somewhat more, Giles, but the necessary
repairs are made," said Constance yielding her brother the garment. "How
proud of Father he is!" she thought, happily. "How truly he adores him,
however awry matters go between them!"

Giles hung the coat on his arm, carefully, to keep it from wrinkles, a
most unusual thoughtfulness in him, and hastened away.

"No more work to-day, girls, or at least of this sort," cried Constance
gaily, her heart lightened by Giles's unmistakable pride in their
father. "We shall be called upon to cook and serve. Many Indians come
with Massasoit, Squanto?"

"No, his chiefs," Squanto raised one hand and touched its fingers
separately, then did the same with the other hand. "Ten," he announced
after this illustration.

"That means no less than thirty potatoes, and something less than twenty
quarts of porridge," laughed Constance, but was called to account by her
stepmother, who had come in from the rear.

"Will you never speak the truth soberly, Constantia Hopkins?" she said.
"We do not count on two quarts of porridge for every Indian we feed.
Take this child; he is heavy for so long, and he hath kicked with both
heels in my flesh every step of the way. Another Hopkins, I'll warrant,
I've borne for my folly in marrying your father; a restless, headstrong
brood are they, and Oceanus is already not content to sit quietly on his
mother's hip, but will drive her, like a camel of the desert." She
detached Oceanus's feet from her skirt and handed him over to Constance
with a jerk. Constance received him, biting her lips to hold back
laughter, and burying her face in the back of the baby neck that had
been pitifully thin during the cruel winter, but which was beginning to
wrinkle with plumpness now.

Too late she concealed her face; Mistress Eliza caught a glimpse of it
and was upon her.

"It's not a matter for laughter that I should be pummelled by your
brother, however young he may be," she cried; Dame Eliza had a way of
underscoring her children's kinship to Constance whenever they were
troublesome. "Though, indeed, I carry on my back the weight of your
father's children, and my heart is worse bruised by the ingratitude of
you and your brother Giles, than is my flesh with this child's heels.
And Mistress Bradford is proud-hearted, and that I will maintain,
Puritan or no Puritan, or whether she be one of the elect of this
chosen company, or a sinner. For plain could I see this afternoon that
she held her husband to be a better man, and higher in the colony, than
my husband, nor would she give way one jot when I put it before
her--though not so that she would see what I would be after--that
Stephen Hopkins it was who was chosen with Mr. Winslow to make the
treaty, and not William Bradford. Well, far be it from me to take pride
in worldly things; I thank the good training that my mother gave me that
I am humble-minded. Often and often would she say to me: Eliza, never
plume yourself that you, and your people before you, are, as they are,
better, more righteous people than are most other folks. For it is our
part to bear ourselves humbly, not setting ourselves up for our virtue,
but content to know that we have it and to see how others are lacking in
it, making no traffic with sinners, but yet not boasting. And as to you,
young women, it would be better if you betook yourselves to your proper
homes, not lingering here to encourage Constantia Hopkins to idleness
when I've my hands full, and more than full, to make ready for the
Indian chiefs' supper, and I need her help."

On this strong hint the Plymouth girls bade Constance good-bye and
departed, leaving her to a bustle of hard work, accompanied by her
stepmother's scolding; Dame Eliza had come back dissatisfied from her
visit, and Constance paid the penalty.

The next morning the men of Plymouth gathered at the house of Elder
Brewster, attired in all the decorum of their Sunday garb, their faces
gravely expressive of the importance of the event about to take place.

Captain Myles Standish, indeed, felt some misgivings of the pervading
gravity of clothing of the civilized participants in this treaty, that
it might not sufficiently impress their savage allies. He had fastened a
bright plume that had been poor Rose's, on the side of his hat, and a
band of English red ribbon across his breast, while he carried arms
burnished to their brightest, his sword unsheathed, that the sun might
catch its gleam.

Elder Brewster shook his head slightly at the sight of this display, but
let it pass, partly because Captain Standish ill-liked interference in
his affairs, partly because he understood its reason, and half believed
that the doughty Myles was right.

Not less solemn than the white men, but as gay with colours as the
Puritans were sombre, the Indians, headed by Massasoit, marched to the
rendezvous from the house which had been allotted to them for lodging.

With perfect dignity Massasoit took his place at the head of the council
room, and saluted Captain Standish and Elder Brewster, who advanced
toward him, then retreated and gave place to Stephen Hopkins and Edward
Winslow, who were to execute the treaty.

Its terms had already been discussed, but the Indians listened
attentively to Squanto's interpretation of Mr. Hopkins's reading of
them. They promised, on the part of Massasoit, perfect safety to the
settlers from danger of the Indians' harming them, and, on the part of
the pilgrims, aid to Massasoit against his enemies; on the part of both
savage and white men, that justice should be done upon any one who
wronged his neighbour, savage or civilized.

The gifts that bound both parties to this treaty were exchanged, and the
treaty, that was so important to the struggling colony, was consummated.

The women and children, even the youths, were excluded from the council;
the women had enough to do to prepare the feast that was to celebrate
the compact before Massasoit took up his march of forty miles to return
to his village.

But Giles leaned against the casement of the open door, unforbidden,
glowing with pride in his father, for the first time in heart and soul a
colonist, completely in sympathy with the event he was witnessing.

Stephen Hopkins saw him there and made no sign of dismissal. Their eyes
met with their old look of love; father and son were in that hour
united, though separated. Suddenly there arose a tremendous racket, a
volley of shots, a beating of pans, shouts, pandemonium.

Captain Myles Standish turned angrily and saw John and Francis
Billington, decorated with streamers of party-coloured rags, which made
them look as if they had escaped from a madhouse, leaping and shouting,
beating and shooting; John firing his clumsy "Bouncing Bully" in the air
as fast as he could load it; Francis filling in the rest of the
outrageous performance.

But worst of all was that Stephen Hopkins, who saw what Captain Myles
saw, saw also his own boy, whom but a moment before he had looked at
lovingly, bent and swayed by laughter.

Captain Standish strode out in a towering fury to deal with the
Billingtons, with whom he was ceaselessly dealing in anger, as they were
ceaselessly afflicting the little community with the pranks that shocked
and outraged its decorum.

Stephen Hopkins dashed out after him. Quick to anger, sure of his own
judgments, he instantly leaped to the conclusion that Giles had been
waiting at the door to enjoy this prank when it was enacted, and it was
a prank that passed ordinary mischief. If the Indians recognized it for
a prank, they would undoubtedly take it as an insult to them. Only the
chance that they might consider it a serious celebration of the treaty,
afforded hope that it might not annul the treaty at its birth, and put
Plymouth in a worse plight than before it was made.

Mr. Hopkins seized Giles by the shoulders and shook him.

"You laugh? You laugh at this, you young wastrel?" he said, fiercely.
"By heavens, I could deal with you for conniving at this, which may earn
salt tears from us all, if the savages take it amiss and retaliate on
us. Will you never learn sense? How, in heaven's name, can you help on
with this, knowing what you know of the danger to your own sisters
should the savages take offence at it? Angels above us, and but a moment
agone I thought you were my son, and rejoicing in this important day!"

Giles, white, with burning eyes, looked straight into his father's eyes,
rage, wounded pride, the sudden revolt of a love that had just been
enkindled anew in him, distorting his face.

"You never consider justice, sir," he said, chokingly. "You never ask,
nor want to hear facts, lest they might be in my favour. You welcome a
chance to believe ill of me. It is Giles, therefore the worst must be
true; that's your argument."

He turned away, head up, no relenting in his air, but the boy's heart in
him was longing to burst in bitter weeping.

Stephen Hopkins stood still, a swift doubt of his accusation, of
himself, keen sorrow if he had wronged his boy, seizing him.

"Giles, stop. Giles, come back," he said.

But Giles walked away the faster, and his father was forced to return to
Massasoit, to discover whether he had taken amiss what had happened,
and, if he had, to placate him, could it be done.

To his inexpressible relief he found that their savage guests had not
suspected that the boys' mischief had been other than a tribute to
themselves, quite in the key of their own celebrations of joyous
occasions.

After the dinner in which all the women of the settlement showed their
skill, the Indians departed as they had come, leaving Squanto to be the
invaluable friend of their white allies.

Giles kept out of his father's way; Stephen Hopkins was not able to find
him to clear up what he began to hope had been an unfounded suspicion on
his part. "Zounds!" said the kind, though irascible man. "Giles is
almost grown. If I did wrong him, I am sorry and will say so. An apology
will not harm me, and is his due--that is in case it _is_ due! I'll set
the lad an example and ask his pardon if I misjudged him. He did not
deny it, to be sure, but then Giles is too proud to deny an unjust
accusation. And he looked innocent. Well, a good lad is Giles, in spite
of his faults. I'll find him and get to the bottom of it."

"Giles is all right, Stephen," said Myles Standish, to whom he was
speaking. "Affairs that go wrong between you are usually partly your own
fault. He needs guiding, but you lose your own head, and then how can
you guide him? But those Billington boys, they are another matter! By
Gog and Magog, there's got to be authority put into my hands to deal
with them summarily! And their father's a madman, no less. I told them
to-day they'd cool their heels in Plymouth jail; we'd build Plymouth
jail expressly for that purpose. And I mean it. I'm the last man to be
hard on mischief; heaven knows I was a harum-scarum in my time. But
mischief that is overflowing spirits, and mischief that is harmful are
two different matters. I've had all I'll stand of Jack Billington, his
Bouncing Bully and himself!"

"Here comes Connie. I wonder if she knows anything of her brother? If
she does, she'll speak of it; if she doesn't, don't disturb her peace of
mind, Myles. My pretty girl! She hurts me by her prettiness, here in the
wilderness, far from her right to a sweet girl's dower of pleasure,
admiration, dancing, and----"

"Stephen, Stephen, for the love of all our discarded saints, forbear!"
protested Captain Myles, interrupting his friend, laughing. "If our
friends about here heard you lamenting such a list of lost joys for
Constance, by my sword, they'd deal with you no gentler than I purpose
dealing with the Billingtons! Ah, sweet Con, and no need to ask how the
day of the treaty hath left you! You look abloom with youth and
gladness, dear lass."

"I am happy," said Constance, slipping her hand into her father's and
smiling up into the faces of both the men, who loved her. "Wasn't it a
great day, Father? Isn't it blessed to feel secure from invasion, and,
more than that, secure of an ally, in case of unknown enemies coming?
Oh, Father, Giles was so proud of you! It was funny, but beautiful, to
see how his eyes shone, and how straight he carried himself, because his
father was the man who made the treaty for us all! I love you, dearest,
quite enough, and I am proud of you to bursting point, but Giles is
almost a man, and he is proud of you as men are proud; meseems it is a
deeper feeling than in us women, who are content to love, and care less
for ambition."

Stephen Hopkins winced; he saw that Constance did not know that anything
was again amiss between the two who were dearest to her on earth, but he
said:

"'Us women,' indeed, Constantia! Do you reckon yourself a woman, who art
still but my child-daughter?"

"Not a child, Father," said the girl, truly enough, shaking her head
hard. "No pilgrim maid can be a child at my age, having seen and shared
what hath fallen to my lot. And to-morrow there is to be another treaty
made of peace and alliance, which is much on my mind, because I am a
woman and because I love Priscilla. To-morrow is Pris married, Father."

"Of a truth, and so she is!" cried Stephen Hopkins, slapping his leg
vigorously.

"Well, my girl, and what is it? Do you want to deck her out, as will not
be allowed? Or what is on your mind?"

"Oh, I have made her a white gown, Father," said Constance. "Whatever
they say, sweet Pris shall not go in dark clothing to her marriage! But,
Father, Mr. Winslow is to marry her, as a magistrate, which he is. Is
there no way to make it a little like a holy wedding, with church, and
prayers, and religion?"

"My dear, they have decided here that marriage is but a matter belonging
to the state. You must check your scruples, child, and go along with
arrangements as they are. There is much of your earliest training, of
your sainted mother's training, in you yet, my Constance, and, please
God, you will remain her daughter always. But you cannot alter the ways
of Plymouth colony. So be content, sweet Con, to pray for our Pris all
you will, and rest assured they receive blessings who seek them, however
they be situate," said Stephen Hopkins, gently touching his girl's
white-capped head.

"Ah, well," sighed Constance, turning away in acquiescence.

Captain Myles Standish and her father watched Constance away. Then they
turned in the other direction with a sigh.

"Hard to face westward all the time, my friend; even Con feels the tug
of old ways, and the old home, on her heartstrings," said Captain Myles.



CHAPTER XI

A Home Begun and a Home Undone


"Do you know aught of your brother, Constance?" asked Stephen Hopkins
when he appeared in the great kitchen and common room of his home early
the following morning.

"He hath been away from home all night," Dame Eliza answered for
Constance, her lips pulled down grimly.

"Which I know quite well, wife," said her husband. "Constance, did Giles
speak to you of whither he was going?"

Constance looked up, meeting her father's troubled eyes, her own
cloudless.

"No, Father, but he must be with the other lads. Perhaps they are
serving up some merry trick for the wedding. Nothing can have befallen
him. Giles was the happiest lad yesterday, Father dear! I must hasten
through the breakfast-getting!"

Constance fluttered away in a visible state of pleasant excitement. Her
father watched her without speaking, his eyes still gloomy; he knew that
Constance lacked knowledge of his reason for being anxious over Giles's
absence.

"And why should you hasten the getting of breakfast, Constantia
Hopkins?" demanded Dame Eliza. "It is to be no earlier than common. If
you are thinking to see Priscilla Mullins made the wife of John Alden,
it will not be till nine of the clock, and that is nearly three hours
distant."

"Ah, but I am going to dress the bride!" triumphed Constance. "I'm going
to dress her from top to toe, and coil her wealth of glossy hair, to
show best its masses! And to crown her dear pretty face with it brought
around her brow, as only I can bend it, so Pris declares! My dear,
winsome Pris!"

"Will you let be such vanity and catering to sinful worldliness, Stephen
Hopkins?" demanded that unfortunate man's wife, with asperity. "Why will
you allow your daughter to divert Priscilla Mullins from the awfulness
of the vows she will utter, filling her mind with thoughts that ill
become a Puritan bride, and one to be a Puritan wife? I will say for
your wife, sir, that she did not come to vow herself to you in such
wise. And when Constantia herself becomes a matron of this plantation
she will not deport herself becomingly if she spend her maidenhood
fostering vanity in others. But there is no folly in which you will not
uphold her! I pray that I may live to keep Damaris to the narrow path."

"Aye, and my sweet Con hath lost Her mother!" burst out Stephen Hopkins,
already too disturbed in mind to bear his wife's nagging.

His allusion to Constance's mother, of whose memory his wife was
vindictively jealous, would have brought forth a storm, but that
Constance flew to her father, caught him by the arm, and drew him
swiftly out of the door, saying:

"Nay, nay, my dear one; what is the use? Let us be happy on Pris's
wedding day. I feel as though if we were happy it would somehow bring
good to her. Don't mind Mistress Eliza; let her rail. If it were not
about this, it would be something else. Come down the grass a way, my
father, and see how the sunshine sparkles on the sea. The day is smiling
on Pris, at least, and is decked for her by God, so why should my
stepmother mind that I shall make the girl herself as fair as I know
how?"

"You are a dear lass, Con, child, and I swear I don't know how I should
bear my days without you," said Stephen Hopkins, something suspiciously
like a quaver in his voice.

He did not return to the house till Con had prepared the breakfast.
Hastily she cleared it away, her stepmother purposely delaying the meal
as long as possible. But Dame Eliza's utmost contrariness could not hold
back Constance's swift work long enough to make the hour very late when
it was done, the room set in order, and Constance herself, unadorned, in
her plain Sunday garb, hastening over the young grass to where Priscilla
awaited her.

No one else had been allowed to help Constance in her loving labour.
Beginning with Priscilla's sturdy shoes--there were no bridal slippers
in Plymouth!--Constance, on her knees, laced Pris into the gear in which
she would walk to meet John Alden, and followed this up, garment by
garment, which she and Priscilla had sewn in their brief spare moments,
until she reached the masses of shining brown hair, which was
Priscilla's glory and Constance's affectionate pride.

Brushing, and braiding, and coiling skilfully, Constance wound the fine,
yet heavy locks around Priscilla's head.

Then with deft fingers she pulled, and patted and fastened into curves
above her brow sundry strands which she had left free for that purpose,
and fell back to admire her results.

"Well, my Prissy!" Constance cried, rapturously clapping her hands.
"Wait till you are dressed, and I let you see this in the glass yonder.
No, not now! Only when the bridal gown is donned! My word, Priscilla
Mullins, but John Alden will think that he never saw, nor loved you
until this day! Which is as we would wish him to feel. They may forbid
us curling and waving our locks in this plantation, but no one ever yet,
as I truly believe, could make laws to keep girls from increasing their
charms! Your hair brought down and shaken loose thus around your face,
my Pris, is far, far more lovely, and adorns you better than any curling
tongs could do it. Because, after all, nature fits faces and hair
together, and my waving hair would not be half so becoming to you as
your own straight hair, thus crowning your brow. Constance Hopkins, my
girl, I am proud of your skill as lady's maid!" And Constance kissed her
own hand by way of her reward, as she went to the corner and gingerly
lifted the white gown that waited there for her handling.

It was a soft, fragile thing, made of white stuff from the East,
embroidered all over with sprigs of small flowers. It had been
Constance's mother's, and had come from England at the bottom of her own
chest, safe hidden, together with other beautiful fabrics that had been
Constance's mother's, from the condemnatory eyes of Stephen Hopkins's
second wife.

"It troubles me to wear this flimsy loveliness, Constance," said
Priscilla, as the gown drifted down over her shoulders. "And to think it
was thy mother's."

"It will not harm it to lie over your true heart to-day, dearest Pris,
when you vow to love John forever. It seems to me as though lifeless
things drew something of value to themselves from contact with goodness
and love. Pris, it is really most exquisite! And that deep ruffle that I
sewed around it at the bottom makes it exactly long enough for you, yet
it leaves it still right for me to wear, should I ever want to, only by
ripping it off again! Oh, Priscilla, dear, you are lovely enough, and
this embroidery is fine enough, for you to be a London bride!"

Once more Constance fell back to admire at the same time Priscilla and
her achievements.

"I think, perhaps, it may be wrong, as they tell us it is, to care too
much for outward adornment, Con dear. Not but that I like it, and love
you for being so unselfish, so generous to me," said Priscilla, with her
sweet gravity of manner.

"Constance, if only my mother and father, and Joseph--but of course my
parents I mourn more than my brother--were here to bless me to-day!"

"Try to feel that they are here, Prissy," said Constance. "There be
Christians in plenty who would tell you that they pray for you still."

"Oh, but that is superstition!" protested Priscilla, shocked.

Constance set her face into a sort of laughing and sweet contrariness.

"There be Christians in plenty who believe it," she repeated. "And it
seems a comforting and innocent enough thing to me. Art ready now,
Priscilla? But before you go, kiss me here the kind of good-bye that we
cannot take in public; my good-bye to dear Priscilla Mullins; your
good-bye to Con, with whom, though dear friends we remain for aye,
please God, you never again will be just the same close gossip that we
have been as maids together, on ship-board and land, through sore grief
and hardships, yet with abounding laughter when we had half a chance to
smile."

"Why, Con, don't make me cry!" begged Priscilla, holding Constance
tight, her eyes filling with tears. "You speak sadly, and like one years
older than yourself, who had learned the changes of our mortal life.
I'll not love you less that I am married."

"Yes, you will, Pris! Or, if not less, at least differently. For maids
are one in simple interests, quick to share tears and laughter, while
the young matron is occupied with graver matters, and there is not
oneness between them. It is right so, but----Well, then, kiss me
good-bye, Pris, my comrade, and bid Mistress John Alden, when you know
her, love me well for your sweet sake," insisted Constance, not far from
tears herself.

Quietly the two girls stole out of the bedroom, into the common room of
the new house which Doctor Fuller had built for the reception of his
wife, whose coming from England he eagerly awaited. The widow White and
Priscilla had been lodged there, helping the doctor to get it in order.

"You look well, Priscilla," said Mrs. White. "Say what they will, there
is something in the notion of a young maiden going in white to her
marriage. Your friends are waiting you outside. I wish you well, my
daughter, and may you be blessed in all your undertakings."

Priscilla went to the door and Constance opened it for her, stepping
back to let the bride precede her. Beyond it were waiting the young
girls of the settlement; Humility Cooper and her cousin, Elizabeth
Tilley, caught Priscilla by the hands.

"How fair you are, dear!" cried Humility. "The children begged to be
allowed to come to your wedding, and they are all waiting at Mr.
Winslow's, for you were always their great friend, and there is scarce a
limit to their love for John Alden."

"Surely let the children come!" said Priscilla. "They are first of all
of us, and will win blessings for John Alden and me."

The girls fell into line ahead of her, and Priscilla walked down Leyden
Street, the short distance that lay between the doctor's house and
Edward Winslow's, her head bent, her eyes upon the ground, the colour
faded from her fresh-tinted face. At the magistrate's house the elders
of the little community were gathered, waiting. John Alden came out and
met his bride on the narrow, sanded walk, and led her soberly into the
house and up to Edward Winslow, who awaited them in his plain,
close-buttoned coat, with its broad collar and cuffs of white linen
newly and stiffly starched and ironed.

It was a brief ceremony, divested of all but the necessary questions and
replies, yet to all present it was not lacking in impressiveness, for
the memory of recent suffering was vivid in every mind; the longing for
the many who were dead was poignant, and the consciousness of the
uncertainty of the future of the young people, who were thus beginning
their life together, was acute, though no one would have allowed its
expression, lest it imply a lack of faith.

When Mr. Winslow had pronounced John and Priscilla man and wife, Elder
William Brewster arose and, with extended hands, called down upon their
heads the blessing of the God of Israel, and prayed for their welfare in
this world, their reward in the world to come.

Without any of the merriment which accompanied congratulations and
salutations at a marriage in England, these serious men and women came
up in turn and gravely kissed the bride upon her cheek, and shook John
Alden's hand. Yet each one was fond of Priscilla and had grieved with
her on her father's, mother's, and brother's deaths, and each one
honoured and truly was attached to John Alden.

But even in Plymouth colony youth had to be more or less youthful.

"Come, now; we're taking you home!" cried Francis Billington. "Fall in,
girls and boys, big and little, grown folks as well, if only you will,
and let us see our bride and her man started in their new home! And who
remembers a rousing chorus?"

John Alden had been building his house with the help of the older boys;
to it now he was taking Priscilla on her wedding journey, made on her
own feet, a distance of a few hundred yards.

"No rousing choruses here, sir," said Edward Winslow, sternly. "If you
will escort our friends to their home--and to that there can be no
objection--let it be to the sound of godly psalms, not to profane
songs."

"You offer us youngsters little inducement to marry when our time
comes," muttered Francis, but he took good care that Mr. Winslow should
not hear him, having no desire to run counter at that moment to Mr.
Winslow's will, knowing that he and Jack were already in danger of being
dealt with by the authorities. And where was Jack? He had not seen his
brother since the previous day.

Boys and young men in advance, girls and the younger women following,
the bridal pair bringing up the rear, the little procession went up
Leyden Street and drew up at the door of the exceedingly small house
which John Alden had made for his wife. Francis, who had constituted
himself master of ceremonies, made the escort divide into two lines and,
between them, John and Priscilla walked into their house. And with that
the wedding was over.

For an instant the young people held their places, staring across the
space that separated them, with the blank feeling that always follows
after the end of an event long anticipated.

Then Constance turned with a sigh, looking about her, wondering if she
really were to resume her work-a-day tasks, first of all get dinner.

She met her father's intent gaze and his look startled her. He beckoned
her, and she stepped back out of the line and joined him.

"Giles, Constance; where is he?" demanded Stephen Hopkins.

"Father, I don't know! Isn't he here?" she cried.

"He is not here, nor is John Billington," said her father. "No one has
seen either of them since last night. Is it likely that they would
absent themselves willingly from this wedding; Giles, who is so fond of
John Alden; John Billington, who is so fond of anything whatever that
breaks the monotony of the days?"

Constance shook her head. "No, Father," she whispered.

"No. And you have no clue to this disappearance, Constance?" her father
insisted.

"Father, Father, no; no, indeed!" protested Constance. "I did not so
much as miss the boys from among us. But what could have befallen them?
It can't be that they have come to harm?"

"Constance," said her father with a visible effort, "Giles was deeply
angry with me yesterday----"

"Father, dear Father, you are quite wrong!" Constance interrupted him.
"There was no mistaking how delighted Giles was with your making the
treaty. Indeed I saw in him all the old-time love and pride in you that
we used to make a jest--but how we liked it!--in the dear days across
the water, when we were children."

Stephen Hopkins let her have her say. Then he shook his head.

"It may all be as you say, Constance," he said, sadly. "I also felt in
Giles, saw in his face, the affection I have missed of late. But when
the Billingtons came making that disturbance I went out--angry, Con; I
admit it--and accused Giles of abetting them in what might have caused
us serious trouble. And he, in turn, was furiously angry with me. He did
not reply to my accusation, but spoke impertinently to me, and went
away. I have not seen him since."

"Oh, Father, Father!" gasped Constance, her lips trembling, her face
pale.

"I know, my daughter," said Stephen Hopkins, almost humbly. "But it was
an outrageous thing to risk offending our new allies, and inviting the
death of us all. And Giles did not deny having a hand in it, remember.
But I confess that I should have first asked him whether he had, or
not."

"Poor Father," said Constance, gently. "It is hard enough to be anxious
about your boy without being afraid that you wronged him. How I wish
that Giles would not always stand upon his dignity, and scorn speech!
How I wish, how I pray, that you may come to understand each other, to
trust each other, and be as we were when you trotted Giles and me upon
your knees, and I sometimes feared that you liked me less than you did
your handsome boy, who was so like you."

"Who _is_ so like me," her father corrected her. "You were right, Con,
when you said that Giles and I were too alike to get on well together;
the same quick temper, rash action, swift conclusions."

"The same warm heart, high honour, complete loyalty," Constance amended,
swiftly.

"Father, if you could but once and for ever grasp that! Giles is you
again in your best traits. He can be the reliance that you are, but if
he turns wrong----"

She paused and her father groaned.

"Ah, Constance, you are partial to me, yet you stab me. If I have turned
him wrong, is what you would say! How womanly you are grown, my
daughter, and how like your dead mother! But, Con, this is no time to
stand discussing traits, not even to adjust the blame of this wretched
business. How shall I find the boy?"

"Why, for that, Father, you know far better than I," said Constance,
gently, taking her father's arm. "Let us go home, dear man. I should
think a party to scour the woods beyond us? And Squanto would be our
best help, he and Captain Standish, wouldn't they? But I am sure the
boys will be in for supper. You know they are sharp young wolves, with a
scent like the whole pack in one for supper! Giles is safe! And as to
Jack Billington, tell me truly, Father, can you imagine anything able to
harm him?" She laughed with an excellent reproduction of her own mirth
when she possessed it, but it was far from hers now.

Constance shared to the uttermost her father's apprehension. If her
poor, hasty father had again accused Giles of that which he had not
done, and this when he was aglow with a renewal of the old confidence
between them, then it well might be that Giles, equally hot-headed, had
done some desperate thing in his first sore rage. The fact that he had
been absent from the wedding of John Alden, whom he cared for deeply;
that he had missed his supper and breakfast; and that John Billington,
reckless, adventurous Jack, was missing at the same time, left Constance
little ground for hope that nothing was wrong.

But nothing of this did she allow to escape in her manner of speech.

She gaily told her father all about her morning: how cleverly she had
lengthened Priscilla's gown, her own mother's gown, lent Pris; how
becomingly she had arranged Pris's pretty hair; all the small feminine
details which a man, especially a brave, manly man of Stephen Hopkins's
kind, is supposed to scorn, but which Constance was instinctively
sympathetic enough to know rested and amused her father; soothed him
with its pretty femininity; relaxed him as proving that in a world of
such pretty trifles tragedy could not exist.

"My stepmother is not come back yet," Constance said, with a swift
glance around, as she entered. "Father, when she comes in with the baby
you must test his newly discovered powers; Oceanus is beginning to stand
alone! Now I must go doff my Sunday best--Father, I never can learn to
call it the Sabbath; please forgive me!--and put on my busy-maid
clothes! What a brief time a marriage takes! I mean in the making!" She
laughed and ran lightly away, up the steep stairs that wound in
threatening semi-spiral, up under the steep lean-to roof.

"Bless my sunshine!" said Stephen Hopkins, fervently, as he watched her
skirt whisk around the door at the stairway foot.

But upstairs, in the small room that she and Damaris shared, his
"sunshine" was blurred by a swift rain of tears.



CHAPTER XII

The Lost Lads


A gray evening of mist drifting in from the sea settled down upon
Plymouth. It emphasized the silence and seemed to widen and deepen the
vacuum created by the absence of Giles and John. For the supper hour, at
which they were enthusiastically prompt to return to give their hearty
appetites their due, came and passed without bringing back the boys.

Stephen Hopkins pushed away his plate with its generous burden
untouched, threw on his wide-brimmed hat, and strode out of the house
without a word. Constance knew that he had gone to ask help from Myles
Standish, to organize a search, and go out to find the lost.

Damaris crept into her sister's lap and sat with her thin little hands
in Constance's, mutely looking up into the white, sorrowing face above
her.

Even Dame Eliza was reluctantly moved to something like pity for the
girl's silent misery, and expressed it in her way.

"At least," she said, suddenly, out of the deep silence enveloping them,
"here is one thing gone wrong without my sending. No one can say that I
had a finger raised to push your brother out of the right course this
time!"

Constance tried to reply, but failed. Not directly had her stepmother
had a share in this misfortune, but how great a share had she in the
estrangement between father and son that was at the bottom of the
present misunderstanding? Constance would not remind her stepmother of
this, and no other reply was possible to her in her intense anxiety.

The night wore away, the dawn came, lifting the fog as the sun shot up
out of the sea. Stephen Hopkins came out of the principal bedroom on the
ground floor of the house showing in his haggard face that he had not
slept. Constance came slowly down the winding stairs, pale, with dark
circles under her eyes which looked as though they had withdrawn from
her face, retreated into the mind which dwelt on Giles since they could
no longer see him, and the brain alone could fulfil their office.

"There's no sort of use in getting out mourning till you're sure of
having a corpse, so I say," said Mistress Eliza, impatiently. "Giles is
certain to take care of himself. I've no manner of patience with people
who borrow what they can't return, and how would you return trouble,
borrowed from nothing and nobody?"

Nevertheless she helped both Constance and her father to a generous
bowlful of porridge, and set it before them with a snapped-out: "Eat
that!" which Constance was grateful to feel concealed uneasiness on her
stepmother's own part.

Another day, and still another, wore themselves away. Constance fought
to keep her mind occupied with all manner of tasks, hoping to tire
herself till she must sleep at night, but nevertheless slept only
brokenly, lying staring at the three stars which she could see through
the tiny oblong window under the eaves, or into the blackness of the
slanting roof, listening to Damaris's quiet breathing, and thinking
that childhood was not more blessed in being happy than in its ability
to forget.

Stephen Hopkins had gone with Captain Standish, Francis Billington, and
Squanto to scour the woods for miles, although labouring hands could ill
be spared at that season. They returned at the close of their fourth day
of absence, and no one ventured to question them; that they had not so
much as a clue to the lost lads was clearly written on their faces.

Constance drew her stool close to her father after supper was over, and
wound her arms about him and laid her head on his breast, unrebuked by
her stepmother.

"Read the fifty-first psalm, my daughter; it was the penitential psalm
in England in my beginnings," Stephen Hopkins said, and Constance read
it in a low voice, which she dared not raise, lest it break.

An hour later, an hour which had been passed in silence, broken only by
Dame Eliza's taking Damaris up to bed, the sound of voices was heard
coming down the quiet street. Stephen Hopkins's body tautened as he sat
erect, and Constance sprang to her feet. No one ever went outside his
house in the Plymouth plantation after the hour for family prayers,
which was identical in every house. But someone was abroad now; it was
not possible----?

"It is Squanto," said Stephen Hopkins, catching the Indian's syllables
of broken English.

"And Francis Billington, and another Indian, talking in his own
tongue!" added Constance, shaking with excitement.

The door opened; Stephen Hopkins did not move to open it. There entered
the three whom those within the house had recognized; Francis's face was
crimson, his eyes flashing.

"You come to tell me that my son is dead?" said Stephen Hopkins, raising
his hand as if to ward off a blow.

"No, we don't! Don't look like that, Mr. Hopkins, Con!" cried Francis.
"Jack and Giles are all right----"

"Massasoit send him," said Squanto, interrupting the boy, as if he
wanted to save Stephen Hopkins from betraying the feeling that an Indian
would scorn to betray, for Mr. Hopkins had closed his eyes and swayed
slightly as he heard Francis's high boyish voice utter the words he had
so hungered to hear.

Squanto pointed to the Indian beside him as he spoke. "Massasoit sent
him. Massasoit know where boys go. Nawsett. It not far; Massasoit more
far. Nawsett Indians fight you when you come, not yet got Plymouth
found. Nawsett. Both boys, both two." Squanto touched two fingers of his
left hand. "Not dead, not sick, not hurt. You send, Massasoit say. Get
boys you send Nawsett. Squanto go show Nawsett." Squanto looked proudly
at his hearers, rejoicing in his good news.

"Praise God from Whom all blessings flow," said Stephen Hopkins, bowing
his head, and Constance burst into tears and seized him around the neck,
while Francis drew his sleeves across his eyes, muttering something
about: "Rather old Jack was all right."

Dame Eliza came down the stairs, having heard voices, and recognized
them as Indian, but had been unable to catch what was said. She stopped
as she saw the scene before her, and her face crimsoned. She at once
knew the purport, though not the details, of the message delivered
through Squanto by Massasoit's messenger, and that the lost lads were
safe. With a quick revulsion from the anxiety that she had felt, she
instantly lost her temper.

"Stephen Hopkins, what is this unseemingly exhibition? Will you allow
your daughter to behave in this manner before a youth, and two savage
men? Shame on you! Stand up, Constantia, and let your father alone. So
Giles is safe, I suppose? Well, did I not tell you so? Bad sixpences are
hard to lose; your son will give you plenty of the scant comfort you've
already had from him. No fear of him not coming back to plague me, and
to disgrace you," she scolded.

"Oh, Stepmother, when we are so glad and thankful!" sighed Constance,
lifting her tired, tear-worn face, over which the light of her gladness
and gratitude was beginning to shine.

There was nothing to be done that night but to try to adjust to the
relief that had come, and to wait impatiently for morning to arrange to
bring home the wanderers.

Stephen Hopkins was ahead of the sun in beginning the next day, and as
soon as he could decently do so, he set out to see Governor Bradford to
ask his help.

"I rejoice with you, my friend and brother," said dignified William
Bradford, when he had heard Mr. Hopkins's story. "Like the woman in the
Gospel you call in your neighbours to rejoice with you that the lost is
found. I will at once send the shallop to sail down the coast and bring
off our thorn-in-the-flesh, young John Billington, and your somewhat
unruly lad with him. As your brother in our great enterprise and your
true well-wisher, let me advise that you deal sternly with Giles when he
is returned to us. He hath done exceeding wrong thus to afflict you, and
with you, all of our community to a lesser extent, by anxiety over his
safety. Furthermore, it is a time in which we need all our workers; he
hath not only deprived us of his own services, but hath demanded the
valuable hours of others in striving to rescue him. I doubt not that you
will do your duty as a father, but let me remind you that your duty is
not leniency, but sternness to the lad who is too nearly man to fail us
all as he hath done."

"It is true, William Bradford, and I will do my best though it hath
afflicted me that I may have driven the lad from me by blaming him when
it was not his desert, and that because of this he went away," said Mr.
Hopkins.

"If this were true, Stephen, yet would it not excuse Giles," said
William Bradford, whose one child, a boy, had been left behind in
England to follow his father to the New World later, and who was not
versed in ways of fatherhood to highstrung youths of Giles's age. "It
becometh not a son to resent his father's chastisements, which, properly
borne, may result in benefit, whether or not their immediate occasion
was a matter of justice or error. So deal with your son sternly, I warn
you, nor let your natural pleasure in receiving him safe back again
relax you toward him."

The shallop was launched with sufficient men to navigate her, Squanto
accompanying them to guide them southward to the tribe that held Giles
and John, in a sense, their captives.

On the third day after her departure the shallop came again in sight,
nosing her way slowly up the harbour against a wind dead ahead and
blowing strong. There was time, and to spare for any amount of
preparation, and yet to get down on the sands to see the shallop come to
anchor, and be ready to welcome those whom she bore. Nevertheless,
Constance hurried her simple toilet till she was breathless, snarling
the comb in her hair; tying her shoe laces into knots which her
nervousness could hardly disentangle; chafing her delicate skin with the
vigorous strokes she gave her face; stooping frequently to peer out of
her bedroom window to see if, by an impossible mischance, the shallop
had come up before she was dressed, although the one glimpse that she
had managed to get of the small craft had shown that the shallop was an
hour away down the harbour.

At last her flustered mishaps were over, and Constance was neat and
trim, ready to go down to the beach.

"Damaris, little sister, come up and let me see that none of the dinner
treacle is on the outside of your small mouth," Constance called gaily
down the stairs.

Damaris appeared, came half way, and stopped forlornly.

"Mother says she will take me, Constance," the child said, mournfully.
"She says that you will greet Giles with warm welcome, and that I must
not help in it, for that Giles is wicked, and must be frowned upon. Is
Giles wicked, Constance? He is good to me; I love him, not so much as
you, but I do love Giles. Must I not be glad when he comes, Sister?"

"Oh, Damaris, darling, your kind little heart tells you that you would
want a welcome yourself if you were returning after an absence! And we
know that the father of that bad son in the Gospel went out to meet
him, and fell on his neck! But I must not teach you against your
mother's teaching! You know, little lass, whether or not I think our big
brother bad!" said poor Constance. "Where is your mother?"

"She hath gone to fetch Oceanus back; he crawled out of the open door
and went as fast as a spider down the street, crawling, Constance! He
looked so funny!" and Damaris laughed.

Constance laughed too, and cried gaily, with one of her sudden changes
from sober to gay: "And so Oceanus is beginning to run off, too! What a
time we shall have, Damaris, with our big brother marching away, and our
baby brother crawling away, both of them caring not a button whether we
are frightened about them, or not!"

She flitted down the stairs with her lightness of movement that gave her
the effect of a half-flight, caught Damaris to her and kissed her
soundly, and set her down just in time to escape rebuke for her
demonstrativeness from Dame Eliza, who returned with her face reddened,
and Oceanus kicking under one arm, hung like a sack below it, and
screaming with baffled rage and the desire of adventure. On the beach
nearly everyone of the small community was gathered to see the arrival.

Constance stole up behind Priscilla Alden, and touched her shoulder.

"You are not the only happy girl here to-day, my bonny bride," she
said.

Priscilla turned and caught Constance by both hands.

"Nor the only one glad for this cause, Constance," she retorted. "Indeed
I rejoice beyond my powers of telling, that Giles is come to thee, and
that thou art spared the bitter sorrow that we feared had fallen upon
thee!"

"Well do I know that, dear Pris," said Constance. "Where is my father?"

"Yonder with William Bradford, Edward Winslow, Elder Brewster; do you
not see?" Priscilla replied nodding toward the group that stood somewhat
apart from the others. Constance crossed over to them, and curtseyed
respectfully to the heads of this small portion of the king's subjects.

"Will you not come with me, my father?" she said, hoping that Stephen
Hopkins would stand with her on the edge of the sands to be the first
whom Giles would see on arriving, identifying himself with her who,
Giles would know, was watching for him with a heart leaping out toward
him.

"No, Daughter, I will remain here. I am to-day less Giles Hopkins's
father than one of the representatives of this community, which he and
John Billington have offended," replied Stephen Hopkins, but whether
with his mind in complete accord with his decision, or stifling a
longing to run to meet his son, like that other father of whom Constance
had spoken to Damaris, the girl could not tell.

She turned away, recognizing the futility of pleading when her father
was flanked as he then was.

The shallop was beached and the lost lads leaped out, John with a broad
grin on his face, unmixed enjoyment of the situation visible in his
every look; Giles with his eyes troubled, joy in getting back struggling
with his misgivings as to what he might find awaiting him.

The first thing that he found was Constance, and there was no admixture
in the delight with which he seized his sister's hands--warmer greeting
being impossible before a concourse which would rebuke it sternly--and
replied fervently to her: "Oh, Giles, how glad I am to see you again!"

"And I to see you, sweet sis! Ah, there is Pris! I missed her wedding.
And there is John Alden!" said Giles, shading his eyes with his hand,
but Constance saw the eyes searching for his father, and merely glancing
at Priscilla and John.

"Our father is with the other weighty men of our plantation, waiting for
you, Giles. You and John must go to them," suggested Constance.

Giles shrugged his shoulders. "Otherwise they will not know we are
back?" he asked. "Very well; come, then, Jack. The sooner the better;
then the gods are propitiated."

The two wilful lads walked over to the grave men awaiting them.

"We thank you, Governor Bradford, for sending the shallop after us,"
said Giles.

"Is this all that you have to say?" demanded William Bradford!

"No, sir; we have had adventures. We wandered five days, subsisting on
berries and roots; came upon an Indian village, called Manamet, which we
reckon to be some twenty miles to the southward of Plymouth here. These
Indians conveyed us on to Nawsett still further along, and there we
rested until the shallop appeared to take us off. This is, in brief, the
history of our trip, although I assure you, it was longer in the living
than in the telling. Permit me to add, Governor, that those Indians
among whom we tarried are coming to make a peace with us and seek
satisfaction from those of our community who took their corn what time
we were dallying at Cape Cod, when we arrived in the _Mayflower_. This
is, perhaps, in a measure due to our visit to them, though we would not
claim the full merit of it, since it may also be partly wrought by
Massasoit's example."

Giles spoke with an easy nonchalance that held no suggestion of
contrition, and William Bradford, as well as Elder Brewster, and Mr.
Winslow, frowned upon him, while his father flushed darkly under the
bronze tint of his skin, and his eyes flashed. At every encounter this
father and son mutually angered each other.

"Inasmuch as you have done well, Giles Hopkins and John Billington, we
applaud you," said Governor Bradford, slowly. "In sooth we are rejoiced
that you are not dead, not harmed by your adventure. We rejoice, also,
in the tidings of peace with yet another savage neighbour. But we demand
of you recognition of your evil ways, repentance for the anxiety that
you have caused those to whom you are dear, to all Christians, who, as
is their profession, wish you well; for the injury you have done us in
taking yourselves off, to the neglect of your seasonable labours, and
the time which hath been wasted by able-bodied men searching for you.
You have not asked your father to pardon you."

Giles looked straight into his father's eyes. Unfortunately there was in
them nothing of the look they had worn a few nights earlier when
Constance had read to him the psalm of the stricken heart.

"I am truly grieved for the suffering that I know my sister bore while
my fate was uncertain, for I know well her love for me. And I regret
being a charge upon this struggling plantation. As far as lies in my
power I will repay that debt to it. But as to my father, his last words
to me expressed his dislike for me, and his certainty that I was a
wrong-doer. I cannot think that he has grieved for me," said poor Giles,
speaking like a man to men until, at the last words, his voice quavered.

"I have grieved for thee often and bitterly, Giles, and over thee, which
is harder for a father than sorrow for a son. Show me that I am wrong in
my judgment of thee, by humbling thyself to my just authority, and
conducting thyself as I would have thee act, and with a great joy in my
heart I will confess myself mistaken in thee, and thank Heaven for my
error," said Stephen Hopkins.

Giles's eyes wavered, he dropped his lids, and bit his lip. The simple
manhood in his father's words moved him, yet he reflected that he had
been justified in resenting an unfounded suspicion on this father's
part, and he steeled himself against him. More than this, how could he
reply to him when he was surrounded by the stern men who condemned
youthful folly, and whom Giles resisted in thought and deed?

Giles turned away without raising his eyes; he did not see a half
movement that his father made to hold out his hand to detain him.

"Time will right, or end everything," the boy muttered, and walked away.

Constance, who had been watching the meeting between her two
well-beloveds, crossed over to Myles Standish.

"Captain Standish," she begged him, "come with me; I need you."

"Faith, little Con, I need you always, but never have you! You show
scant pity to a lonely man, that misses his little friend," retorted
Captain Standish, turning on his heel, obedient to a gesture from
Constance to walk with her.

"It is about Giles, dear Captain," Constance began. "He is back, I am
thankful for it, but this breach between him and my father is a wide
one, and over such a foolish thing! And it came about just when
everything was going well!"

"Foolish trifles make the deepest breaches, Constance, hardest to bridge
over," said Captain Myles. "I grant you that the case is serious,
chiefly because the man and the boy love each other so greatly; that,
and their likeness, is what balk them. What would you have me do?"

"I don't know, but something!" cried Constance wringing-her hands. "I
hoped you would have a plan by which you could bring them together."

"Well, truth to tell, Con, I have a plan by which to separate them,"
said the captain, adding, laughing--as Constance cried out: "Oh, not for
all time!"--"But I think a time spent apart would bring them together
in the end. Here is my plan: I am going exploring. There is that vast
tract of country north of us which we have not seen, and tribes of
savages, of which Squanto tries to tell us, but which he lacks of
English to describe. I am going to take a company of men from here and
explore to the nor'ard. I would take Giles among them. He will learn
self-discipline, obedience to me--I am too much a soldier to be lax in
exacting obedience from all who serve under me--and he will return here
licked into shape by the tongue of experience, as an unruly cub is
licked into his proper form by his dam. In the meantime your father will
see Giles more calmly than at short range, and will not be irritated by
his manly airs. When they come together again it will be on a new plane,
as men, not as man and boy, and I foresee between them the sane
enjoyment of their profound mutual affection. I had it in mind to ask
Stephen Hopkins to lend me his boy; what say you, my Constance?"

"I say: Bless you, and thrice over bless you, Captain Myles Standish!"
cried Constance. "It is the very solution! Oh, I am thankful! I shall be
anxious every hour till you return, but with all my heart I say: Take
Giles with you and teach him sense. What should we ever do here without
you, Captain, dear 'Arm-of-the-Colony'?"

"I doubt you ever have a chance to try that dire lack, my Con," said
Captain Myles, with a humorous look at her. "I think I'm chained here by
the interest that has grown in me day by day, and that I shall die among
you. Though, by my sword, it's a curious thing to think of Myles
Standish dying among strict Puritans!"



CHAPTER XIII

Sundry Herbs and Simples


Stephen Hopkins and his son drew no nearer together as the days went by.

Hurt and angry, Giles would not bend his stiff young neck to humble
himself, checking any impulse to do so by reminding himself that his
father had been unjust to him.

Yet Doctor Fuller, good, kind, and wise, had the right of it when he
said to the lad one day, laying his arm across Giles's shoulders,
caressingly:

"Remember, lad, that who is right, or who is wrong in a quarrel, or an
estrangement, matters little, since we are all insects of a day and our
dignity at best a poor thing, measured by Infinite standards. But he is
always right who ends a quarrel; ten thousand times right if he does it
at the sacrifice of his own sense of injury, laying down his pride to
lift a far greater possession. There may be a difference of opinion as
to which is right when two have fallen out, but however that be, the
situation is in itself wrong beyond dispute, and all the honour is his
who ends it."

Giles heard him with lowered head, and knit brows, but he did not resent
the brief sermon. Doctor Fuller was a gentle spirit; all his days were
given over to healing and helping; he was free from the condemnatory
sternness of most of the colonists, and Giles, as all others did, loved
him.

Giles kicked at the pebbles in the way, the slow colour mounting in his
face. Then he threw back his head and looked the good doctor squarely in
the eyes.

"Ah, well, Doctor Fuller," he said. "I'd welcome peace, but what would
you? My father condemns me, sees no good in me, nor would he welcome
back the old days when we were close friends. There will be a ship come
here from home some time on which I can sail back to England. It will be
better to rid my father of my hateful presence; yet should I hate to
leave Sis--Constance."

"May the ship never leave the runway that shall take you from us, Giles,
lad," said the doctor. "You are blind not to see that it is too-great
love for thee that ails thy father! It often works to cross purposes,
our unreasonable human affection. But the case is by no means past
curing when love awry is the disease. Do your part, Giles, and all will
be well."

But Giles did not alter his course, and when Captain Myles Standish said
to Stephen Hopkins: "We set forth on the eighteenth of September to
explore the Massachusetts. I shall take ten men of our colour, and three
red men, two besides Squanto. Let me have your lad for one of my band,
old friend. I think it will be his remedy." Stephen Hopkins welcomed the
suggestion, as Giles himself did, and it was settled. The Plymouth
company sailed away in their shallop on a beautiful, sunshiny morning
when the sun had scarcely come up out of the sea.

Giles and his father had shaken hands on parting, and Stephen Hopkins
had given the boy his blessing; both were conscious that it might be a
final parting, since no one could be sure what would befall the small
band among untried savages.

Yet there was no further reconciliation than this, no apology on the one
side, nor proffered pardon on the other.

Constance clung long around her brother's neck in the dusk in which she
had risen to prepare his breakfast; she did not go down to see the
start, being heavy hearted at Giles's going, and going without lifting
the cloud completely between him and his father. She bade him good-bye
in the long low room under the rear of the lean-to, where wood was piled
and water buckets were set and storage made of supplies.

"Oh, Giles, Giles, my dearest, may God keep you and bring you back!"
Constance whispered, and then let her brother go.

She went about her household tasks that morning with lagging step and
unsmiling lips. Damaris followed her, wistfully, much depressed by the
unusual dejection of Constance, who, in spite of her stepmother's
disapproval of anything like merriment, ordinarily contrived to
entertain Damaris to the top of her bent when the household tasks were
getting done.

"Will Giles never come home again, Connie?" the child asked at last, and
Constance cried with a catch in her voice:

"Yes, oh yes, little sister! We know he will, because we so want him!"

"There must be a better ground for hope than our poor desires,
Damaris," Dame Eliza was beginning, speaking over the child at
Constance; when opportunely a shadow fell across the floor through the
open door and Constance turned to see Doctor Fuller smiling at her.

"Good morning, Mistress Hopkins; good morning little Damaris; and good
morning to you, Constance lass!" he said. "Is this a day of especial
business? Are you too busy for charity to your neighbours, beginning
with me, and indirectly reaching out to our entire community?"

Constance smiled at him with that swift brightening of her face that was
one of her chief attractions; her expression was always playing between
grave and gay.

"It is not a day of especial business, Doctor Fuller," she said, "or at
least all our days are especial ones where there is everything yet to be
done. But I could give it over to charity better than some other days,
and if it were charity to you--though I fear there is nothing for such
as I to do for such as you--then how gladly would I do it, if only to
pay a tittle of the debt we all owe to you."

"Good child!" said the doctor. "I need help and comradeship in my herb
gathering; it is to be done to-day, if you will be that helper. There is
no wind, and there is that benignity of sun and sky that hath always
seemed to me to impart special virtue to herbs gathered under it. So
will you come with me? We will gather the morning long, and this
afternoon I purpose distilling, in which necessary work your deft
fingers will be of the greatest assistance to me."

"Gladly will I go," cried Constance, flushing with pleasure. "I will
fetch my basket and shears, put on my bonnet, and be ready in a trice.
Shall I prepare a lunch, or shall I be at home again for dinner?"

"Neither, Constance; there is yet another alternative." Doctor Fuller
looked with great satisfaction at Constance's happier face as he spoke;
she had been so melancholy when he had come. "I have arranged that you
shall be my guest at dinner in my house, and after it we will to work in
my substitute for a laboratory. Mistress Hopkins, Constance will be
quite safe, be assured; and you, I trust, will not mind a quiet day with
Damaris and Oceanus to bear you company?"

"And if I did mind it, would that prevent it?" demanded Dame Eliza with
a toss of her head. "Not even with a 'by your leave' does Constantia
Hopkins arrange her goings and comings."

"Which was wholly my fault in not first putting my question to you,
instead of to Constance directly," said Doctor Fuller. "And surely there
is no excuse for my blundering, I who am trained to feel pulses and look
at tongues! But since it is thus happily concluded, and your stepmother
is glad to let you have a sort of holiday, come then; hasten, Constance
girl!"

Constance ran upstairs to hide her laughing face. She came down almost
at once with that face shaded by a deep bonnet, a basket hung on her
arm, shears sticking up out of it, pulling on long-armed half-gloves as
she came.

As they walked down the narrow street Constance glanced up at Doctor
Fuller, interrogatively.

"And----?" the doctor hinted.

"And I was wondering whether you were not treating me to-day as your
patient?" Constance said. "A patient with a trouble of the mind, and
also a heart complaint?"

"Which means----?" The doctor again waited for Constance to fill out his
question.

"Which means that you knew I was sorely troubled about Giles; that he
had gone without better drawing to his father; that I was anxious about
him, even while wishing him to go; and that you gave me this day in the
woods with you for my healing," Constance answered.

"At least not for your harm, little maid," said the doctor. "It hath
been my experience that the gatherer of herbs gets a healing of spirit
that is not set down in our books among the beneficial qualities of the
plants, but which may, under conditions, be their best attribute.
Although the singing of brooks and birds, the sweetness of the winds,
the solemn nobility of the trees, the vastness of the sky, the
over-brooding presence of God in His creation are compounded with the
herbs, and impart their powers to us with that of the plants."

"That is true," said Constance. "I feel my vexations go from me as if my
soul were bathed in a miraculous elixir, when I go troubled to the woods
and sit in them awhile."

"Of a certainty," agreed the doctor, bending his tall, thin figure to
pick a small leaf which he held up to Constance. "See this, with its
likeness to the halberd at its base? This is vervain, which is called
'Simpler's Joy,' because of the good it yields to those who, like us
to-day, are simplers, gatherers of simple herbs for mankind's benefit.
Now let us hope that this single plant is a forerunner of many of its
kind, for it hath been a sacred herb among the ancients, as among
Christians, and it should be an augury of good to us to find it. Look
you, Constance, I do not mind confessing it to you, for you are not only
young, but of that happy sort who yield to imagination something of its
due. I like my omens to be favourable, not in superstition, though our
brethren would condemn me thus, but from a sense of harmony and the
satisfaction of it."

"How pleasant a hearing is that, Doctor Fuller!" laughed Constance. "I
love to have the new moon aright, though well I know the moon and I have
naught in common! And though I do not believe in fairies, yet do I like
to make due allowance for them!"

"It is the poetry of these things, and children like you and me, my
dear, are not to be deprived of poetry by mere facts and common sense,"
said the doctor, sticking in the band of his hat the sprig of blue
vervain which his sharp eyes had discovered.

"Yonder on the side of that sandy hill shall we find mints, pennyroyal,
and the close cousin of it, which is blue curls. There is the prunelle,
and welcome to it! Gather all you can of it, Constance. That is
self-heal, and a sovereign remedy for quinsy. So is it a balm for wounds
of iron and steel tools, and for both these sorts of afflictions, what
with our winter climate as to quinsy and our hard labour as to wounds, I
am like to need abundant self-heal."

Thus pleasantly chatting Doctor Fuller led the way, first up the sandy
hill where grew the pennyroyal, all along the border of the woods where
self-heal abounded. They found many plants unexpectedly, which the
doctor always hailed with the joy of one who loved them, rather more
than of the medical man who required them, and Constance busily snipped
the stems, listening to the doctor's wise and kindly talk, loving him
for his goodness and kindness to her in making her heart light and
giving her on this day, which had promised to be sad, of his own
abundant peace.

"Now, Constance, I shall lead you to a secret of my own," announced the
doctor as the sun mounted high above them, and noon drew near. "Come
with me. But do not forget to rejoice in this wealth of bloom, purple
and blue, these asters along the wayside. They are the glory of our new
country, and for them let us praise God who sets beauty so lavishly
around us, having no use but to praise Him, for not to any other purpose
are these asters here, and yet, though I cannot use them, am I humbly
thankful for them. And for these plumes of golden and silver flowers
beside them, which we did not know across the seas. Now, Constance, what
say you to that?"

He pointed triumphantly to a small group of plants with heart-shaped
leaves, having small leaves at their base, and which twisted as they
grew around their neighbouring plants, or climbed a short distance on
small shrubs. Groups of drooping berries of brilliant, translucent
scarlet lighted up the little plant settlement, hanging as gracefully as
jewels set by a skilful goldsmith for a fair lady's adornment.

"I think they are wonderfully beautiful. They are like ornaments for a
beautiful lady! What are they?" cried Constance.

"They are themselves the beautiful lady," Doctor Fuller said, with a
pleased laugh. "That is their name--belladonna, which means 'beautiful
lady.' They are _Atropa Belladonna_, to give them their full title. But
their beauty is only in appearance. If they are a belle dame, then she
is the _belle dame sans merci_, a cruel beauty if you cross her. You
must never taste these berries, Constance. I myself planted these vines.
I brought them with me, carefully set in soil. The beautiful lady can be
cruel if you take liberties with her, but she is capable of kindness. I
shall gather the belladonna now and distil it. In case any one among us
ate of poisonous toadstools, and were seized with severe spasms of the
nature of the effect of toadstools, belladonna alone would save them.
Nightshade, we also call this plant. See, I will myself gather this, by
your leave, my assistant, and place it in my own herb wallet."

The doctor suited the action to the word, arose from his knees and
carefully brushed them. "When Mistress Fuller comes, which is a weary
day awaiting, I hope she may not find me fallen into untidiness," he
said, whimsically. "Constance, the ship is due that will bring my wife
and child, if my longing be a calendar!"

"Indeed, dear Doctor Fuller, I often think of it," said Constance. "You
who are so good to us all are lonely and heavy of heart, but none is
made to feel it. The comfort is that Mistress Fuller and your little
one are safe and you will yet see them, while so many of the women who
came hither in our ship are not here now, and those who loved them will
never see them in this world again."

"Surely, my child. I am not repining, for, though I am opposed to the
extreme strict views of some of our community, and they look askance
upon me for it at times, yet do I not oppose the will of God," said the
doctor, simply.

"Who of them fulfils it as you do?" cried Constance. "You who go out to
minister to the sick savages, not content to heal your own brethren?"

"And are not the savages also our brothers?" asked the doctor, taking up
his wallet. "Come then, child; we will go home, and this afternoon shall
you learn something of distilling, as you have, I hope, this morning
learned something of selecting herbs for remedies."

Constance went along at the doctor's side, swinging her bonnet, not
afraid of the hot September sun upon her face. It lighted up her
disordered hair, and turned it into the semblance of burnished metal,
upon which the doctor's eyes rested with the same satisfaction that had
warmed them as he looked on the generous beauty of aster and goldenrod,
and he saw with pleasure that Constance's face was also shining, its
brightness returned, and he was well content with the effect of his
prescription for this patient.

Constance had a gift of forgetting herself in an ecstasy that seized her
when the weight of her new surroundings was lifted. With Doctor Fuller
she felt perfect sympathy, and her utter delight in this lovely day
bubbled up and found expression.

Doctor Fuller heard her singing one of her little improvised songs,
softly, under her breath, to a crooning air that was less an air than a
succession of sweet sounds. It was the sort of little song with which
Constance often amused the children of the settlement, and Doctor
Fuller, that childlike soul, listened to her with much of their pleasure
in it.

    "Blossom, and berry, and herb of grace;
    Purple and blue and gold lighting each place;
    Herbs for our body and bloom for our heart--
    Beauty and healing, for each hath its part.
    Under the sunshine and in the starlight,
    Warp and woof weareth the pattern aright.
    Shineth the fabric when summer's at end:
    The garment scarce hiding the Heart of our Friend,"

Constance sang, nor did the doctor interrupt her simple Te Deum by a
word.

At the doctor's house dinner awaited them, kept hot, for they were
tardy. After it, and when Constance had helped to put away all signs of
its having been, the doctor said to her:

"Now for my laboratory, such as it is, and for our task, my apprentice
in medicine!" He conducted Constance into a small room, at the rear of
the house where he had set up tables of various sizes of his own
manufacture, and where were ranged on the shelves running around three
sides of the room at different heights, bowls, glasses of odd
shapes--the uses of which were not known to Constance--and small,
delicate tools, knives, weights, and piles of strips of linen, neatly
rolled and placed in assorted widths in an accessible corner.

"Mount this stool, Constance, and watch," the doctor bade her. "Pay
strict attention to what I shall do and tell you. Take this paper and
quill and note names, or special instructions. I am serious in wishing
you to know something of my work. I need assistance; there is no man to
be spared from man's work in the plantation, and, to speak the truth,
your brain is quicker to apprehend me, as your hand is more skilful to
execute for me in the matters upon which I engage than are those of any
of the lads who are with us. So mount this high stool, my lass, and
learn your lesson."

Constance obeyed him. Breathlessly she watched the beginnings of the
distillation of the belladonna which she had seen gathered.

As the small drops fell slowly into the glass which the doctor had set
for them, he began to teach Constance other things, while the
distillation went on.

"These are my phials, Constance," he said. "Commit to memory the names
of their contents, and note their positions. See, on these shelves are
my drugs. Do you see this dark phial? That is for my belladonna. Now
note where it is to stand. In that line are poisons. Their phials are
dark, to prevent mistaking them for less harmful drugs, which are on
this other shelf, in white containers."

The doctor taught, and Constance obediently repeated her lesson, till
the sound of the horn that summoned the settlers to their homes for
supper, and the level rays of the sun across the floor, warned the
doctor and his pupil that their pleasant day was over.

"But you must return, till you are letter perfect in your knowledge,
Constance," the doctor said. "I have decided that there must be one
person among us whom I could dispatch to bring me what I needed in case
I were detained, and could not come myself."

"I will gladly learn, Doctor Fuller," said Constance, her face
confirming her assurance. "I have no words to tell you how happy it
makes me to hope that I may one day be useful in such great matters."

"As you will be," the doctor said. "But remember, my child, the lesson
of the fields: It does not concern us whether great or small affairs are
given us to do; the one thing is to do well what comes our way; to be
content to fill the background of the picture, or to be a figure in the
foreground, as we may be required. Aster, goldenrod, herb, all are doing
their portion."

"Indeed you have helped me to see that, dear Doctor Fuller," said
Constance, gently. "It is not ambition, but the remembrance of last
winter's hardships, when there was so little aid, that makes me wish I
could one day help."

"Yes, Constance; I know. Good-night, my child, and thank you for your
patient attention, for your help; most of all for your sweet
companionship," said the doctor.

"Oh, as to that, I am grateful enough to you! You made to-day a happy
girl out of a doleful one!" cried Constance. "Good-night, Doctor
Fuller!"

She ran down the street, singing softly:

    "Flower, and berry, and herb of grace;"

till she reached her home and silenced her song with a kiss on eager
Damaris's cheek.



CHAPTER XIV

Light-Minded Man, Heavy-Hearted Master


Constance Hopkins sat at the side of the cave-like fireplace; opposite
to where her father, engrossed in a heavy, much-rubbed, leather-bound
book, toasted his feet beside the fire, as was his nightly wont.

He was too deeply buried in his reading to heed her presence, but the
girl felt keenly that her father was there and that she had him quite to
herself. The consciousness of this made her heart sing softly in her
breast, with a contentment that she voiced in the softest humming, not
unlike the contented song of the kettle on the crane, and the purring of
the cat, who sat with infolded paws between her human friends.

Puck, the small spaniel, and Hecate, the powerful mastiff, who had come
with the Hopkins family on the _Mayflower_, shared the hearth with Lady
Fair, the cat, a right that their master insisted upon for them, but
which Dame Eliza never ceased to inveigh against.

However, Dame Eliza had gone to attend upon a sick neighbour that night,
a fact which Hecate had approvingly noted, with her deep-grooved eyelids
half-open, and in which Constance, no less than Puck and Hecate,
rejoiced.

There was the quintessence of domestic joy in thus sitting alone
opposite her father, free from the sense of an unsympathetic element
dividing them, in watching the charring of the tremendous back log, and
the lovely colours in the salt-soaked small sticks under and over it
which had been cast up by the sea and gathered on the beach for this
consumption.

Damaris and baby Oceanus were tucked away asleep for the night. It was
as if once more Constance were a child in England with her widowed
father, and no second marriage had ever clouded their perfect oneness.

So Constance hummed softly, not to disturb the reader, the content that
she felt not lessened by anxiety for Giles; there were hours in which
she was assured of Giles's safe return, and this was one of them.

Stephen Hopkins had been conscious of his girl's loving companionship,
though not aware that he felt it, till, at last, the small tune that she
hummed crept through his brain into his thought, and he laid down his
book to look at her.

She sat straight and prim by necessity. Her chair was narrow and
erect--a carved, dark oaken chair, with a small round seat; it had been
Constance's mother's, and had come out of her grandfather's Tudor
mansion, wherein he had once entertained Queen Bess.

Constance's dress was of dark homespun stuff, coming up close under her
soft chin, falling straight around her feet, ornamented but with narrow
bands of linen at her neck and around her wrists. Yet by its extreme
severity the Puritan gown said: "See how lovely this young creature is!
Only her fleckless skin, her gracious outlines, could triumph over my
barrenness!"

Obedient to her elders' demands upon her to curb its riotousness,
Constance had brushed smooth and capped her lustrous hair, yet its
tendrils escaped upon her brow; it glinted below the cap around her
ears, and in the back of her neck, and shone in the firelight like
precious metal.

Stephen Hopkins's eyes brightened with delight in her charm, but, though
he was not one of the strictest of Plymouth colonists, yet was he too
imbued with their customs to express his pleasure in Constance's beauty.

Instead he said, but his voice thrilled with what he left unsaid:

"It's a great thing, my girl, to draw such a woman as Portia, here in
this leathern book. She shines through it, and you see her clever eyes,
her splendid presence, best of all her great power to love, to humble
herself, to forget herself for the man she hath chosen! I would have you
conversant with the women here met, Constance; they are worthy friends
for you, in the wilderness where such noble ladies are rare."

"Yet we have fine women and devoted ones here, Father," objected
Constance, putting down the fine linen that she was hemstitching for her
father's wearing. He noted the slender, supple hands, long-fingered,
graceful, yet a womanly hand, made for loyalty.

"Far be it from me to belittle them who recognized their hard and
repulsive duty in the plague last winter, and performed it with utter
self-renunciation," said Stephen Hopkins. "But, Constance, there is a
something that, while it cannot transcend goodness, enhances it and
places its possessor on a sort of dais all her life. Your mother had it,
child. She was beautiful, charming, winsome, gracious, yet had she a
lordly way with her; you see it in a fine-bred steed; I know not how to
describe it. She was mettlesome, spirited. It was as if she did the
right with a sort of inborn scorn for aught low; had made her choice at
birth for true nobility and could but abide by it for aye, having made
that choice. You have much of her, my lass, and I am daily thankful for
it. A fine lady, was your exquisite young mother, and that says it,
though the term is lowered by common usage. I would that you could have
known her, my poor child! It was a loss hard to accept that you were
deprived of her too soon, and never could have her direct impress upon
you. And yet, thank Heaven, she hath left it upon you in mothering you,
though the memory of her doth not bless you. And you sit here, upon a
Plymouth hearthstone, far from the civilization that produced her, and
to this I brought you!"

"Oh, Father, Father, my darling!" cried Constance, flinging aside her
work and dropping upon her knees beside him, for his voice quivered with
an emotion that he never before had allowed to escape him, as he uttered
a self-reproach that no one knew he harboured. "Oh, my father, dearest,
don't you know that I am happy here? And are you not here with me?
However fine a lady my sweet mother was--and for your sake I am glad
indeed if you see anything of her in me!--yet was she no truer lady than
you are a fine gentleman. And with you I need no better exemplar. As
time goes on we shall receive from England much of the good we have left
behind; our colony will grow and prosper; we shall not be crude,
unlettered. And how truly noble are many of our company, not only you,
but Governor Bradford, Mr. Brewster, Mr. Winslow; their wives; our Arm,
Captain Myles; and--dearest of all, save you--Doctor Fuller! No maiden
need lack of models who has these! But indeed, I want to be all that you
would have me to be! I cannot say how glad I am if you see in me
anything of my mother! Not for my sake; for yours, for yours!"

"Portia after all!" Stephen Hopkins cried, stroking Constance's cheek.
"That proves how well he knew, great Will of Warwickshire--which is our
county also, my lass! Not for their own sake do true women value their
charm, but for him they love. 'But only to stand high in your account I
might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends, exceed!' So spake Portia;
so, in effect, spake you just now. That was your mother's way; she,
too, longed to have, but to give, her possessions, herself----"

There came a knocking at the door and Constance sprang back to her
chair, catching up her sewing, thrusting in her needle with shortened
breath, not to be caught by her severe Plymouth neighbours in so
unseemly a thing as betraying love for her father, leaning on his knee.

Mr. Hopkins answered the summons, and there entered Francis Eaton, Mr.
Allerton, and John Howland, who having come to Plymouth as the servant
of Governor Carver, was now living in the colony with his articles of
bondage annulled, and was inclined to exceed in severity the other
Puritans, as one who had not long had authority even over himself.

"Peace be to you, Mr. Hopkins," said John Howland, gravely. "Mistress
Constantia, I wish you a good evening. Sir, we are come to consult you
as to certain provisions to be made for the winter to come, as to care
of the sick, should there be many----. Will that great beast bite? She
seems not to like me, and I may say the feeling is mutual; I never could
bear a beast."

"She will not bite you, John; she is but deciding on your credentials as
set forth in the odour of your clothing," said Mr. Hopkins, smiling.
"Down, Hecate, good lass! While I am here you may leave it to me to see
to your dwelling and fireside, old trusty!"

Hecate wagged her whip like tail and instantly lay down, her nose on her
extended paws, frowning at the callers.

"But what is this, Stephen Hopkins?" demanded Francis Eaton, picking up
the marred, leather-covered great volume which Stephen Hopkins had laid
down when he had risen. "Shakespeare! Plays! Fie, fie upon you; sir! I
wot you know this is godless matter, and that you are sinning to set the
example of such reading to your child."

Stephen Hopkins's quick temper blazed; he took a step in the speaker's
direction, and Hecate was justified in growling at her master's lead.

"Zounds! Eaton," he cried. "I know that an Englishman's house is his
castle, on whichever side of the ocean he builds it, and that I will not
brook your coming into it to tell me--_you_ to tell _me_,
forsooth!--that I am sinning! Look to your own affairs, sir, but keep
your hands off mine. If you are too ignorant to know more of Shakespeare
than to think him harmful, well, then, sir, you confess to an ignorance
that is in itself a sin against the Providence that gave us poets."

"As to that, Francis Eaton," said Mr. Allerton, "Mr. Hopkins hath the
best of it. We who strive after the highest virtue do not indulge in
worldly reading, but there be those among us who would not condemn
Shakespeare. But what is the noise I hear? Permit us to go yonder into
your outer room, Mr. Hopkins, to satisfy ourselves that worse than
play-reading is not carried on within this house."

"Noise? I heard no noise till now, being too much occupied to note it,
but it is easy to decide upon its cause from here, though if you desire
to go yonder, or to share the play, I'll not prevent you," said Mr.
Hopkins, his anger mounting.

"Say, rather, as I seriously fear, that you are too accustomed to the
sound to note it. I will pass over, as unworthy of you and of my
profession, the insult you proffered me in suggesting that I would bear
part in a wicked game," said Mr. Allerton, going toward the door.

He threw it open with a magnificent gesture and stalked through it,
followed close by the other two, and by Hecate's growl and Puck's sharp
barking.

Constance had dropped her work and sat rigidly regarding her father with
amazed and frightened eyes.

Stephen Hopkins went after them, purple with rage. What they saw was a
table marked off at its farther end by lines drawn in chalk. At the
nearer end sat Edward Doty and Edward Lister, the men whom Stephen
Hopkins had brought over with him on the _Mayflower_ to serve him.
Beside them sat tankards of home-made beer, and a small pile of coins
lay, one at each man's right hand.

Just as Francis Eaton threw open the door, Edward Lister leaned
forward, balanced a coin carefully between his thumb and finger, and
shot it forward over one of the lines at the other end.

"Aimed, by St. George! Well shot, Ted!" cried Edward Doty.

"See that thou beatest me not, Ned; thou art a better man than me at
it," said Lister, and they both took a draught of beer, wiping their
lips on their sleeve in high satisfaction with the flavour, the game,
and each other.

"Shovelboard!" "Shuffleboard!" cried Francis Eaton and John Howland
together, differing on the pronunciation of the obnoxious sport, but one
in the boundless horror in their voices.

"Stephen Hopkins, I am profoundly shocked," said Mr. Allerton, turning
with lowering brows upon their host. "A man of your standing among us! A
man of your experience of the world! Well wot you that playing of games
is forbid among us. That you should tolerate it is frightful to
consider----"

"See here, Isaac Allerton," said Stephen Hopkins, stepping so close to
his neighbour that Mr. Allerton fell back uneasily, "it is a principle
among us that every man is to follow his conscience. If we have thrown
off the authority of our old days, an authority mind you, that had much
to be said for it, and set up our own conscience as the sole guide of
our actions, then how dare you come into my house to reproach me for
what I consider no wrong-doing? Ted and Ned are good fellows, on whose
hands leisure hangs heavily, since they do not read Shakespeare, as does
their master, whom equally you condemn. To my mind shovelboard is
innocent; I have permitted my men to play it. Go, if you will, and
report to our governor this heinous crime of allowing innocent play. But
on your peril read me no sermon, nor set up your opinion in mine own
house, for, by my honour, I'll not abide it."

"By no will of mine will I report you, my brother," said Isaac Allerton,
but the gleam in his eye belied him; there was jealousy in this little
community, as in all human communities. "You know that my duty will
compel me to lay before Governor Bradford what I have seen. Since we
have with our own eyes seen it, there needs no further witnesses."

"Imply that I would deny the truth, were there never a witness, and
Heaven help you, Plymouth or no Plymouth, brother or no brother! I'm not
a liar," cried Stephen Hopkins, so fiercely that Mr. Allerton and his
companions went swiftly out the side door, Mr. Allerton protesting:

"Nay, then Brother and friend; thou art a choleric man, and lax as to
this business, but no one would doubt your honour."

After they had gone Mr. Hopkins went back to his chair by the fireside,
leaving Ted and Ned staring open-mouthed at each other, stunned by the
tempest aroused by their game.

"Well, rather would I have held the psalm book the whole evening than
got the master into trouble," said Ted.

"Easy done, since thou couldst no more than hold it, reading being
beyond thee," grinned Ned. "Yet am I one with thy meaning, which is
clearer to me than is print."

Constance dared not speak to her father when he returned to her. She
glanced up at his angry face and went on with her stitchery in silence.

At length he stretched himself out, his feet well toward the fire, and
let his right hand fall on Hecate's insinuating head, his left on Puck's
thrusting nose.

"Good friends!" he said to the happy dogs. "I am ashamed, my Constance,
so to have afflicted thee. Smile, child; thou dost look as though
destruction awaited me."

"I am so sorry, Father! In good sooth, is there not trouble coming to
you from this night's business?" asked Constance, folding up her work.

"Nothing serious, child; likely a fine. But indeed it will be worth it
to have the chance it will buy me to speak my mind clearly to my fellow
colonists on these matters. Ah, my girl, my girl, what sad fools we
mortals be, as Shakespeare, whom also these grave and reverend seigniors
condemn, hath said! We have come here to sail by the free wind of
conscience, but look you, it must be the conscience of the few, greater
thraldom than it was in the Old World! Ah, Constance, Constance, we came
here to escape the thraldom of men, but to do that it needs that no men
came! If authority we are to have, then let it be authoritative, say I;
not the mere opinion of men. My child, have you ever noted how much
human nature there is in a man?"

But the next day, during which Stephen Hopkins was absent from his home,
when he returned at night his philosophy had been sadly jostled.

He had been called before the governor, reprimanded and fined, and his
pride, his sense of justice, were both outraged when he actually had to
meet the situation. Dame Eliza was in a state of mind that made matters
worse. She had heard from one of those persons through whom ill news
filters as naturally as water through a spring, that her husband had
been, as she termed it, "disgraced before the world."

"They can't disgrace him, Stepmother," protested Constance, though she
knew that it was useless to try to stem the tide of Dame Eliza's
grievance. "My father is in the right; they have the power to fine, but
not to disgrace him who hath done no wrong."

"Of course he hath done no wrong," snapped Dame Eliza. "Shovelboard was
played in my father's kitchen when I was no age. Are these prating men
better than my father? Answer me that! But your father has no right to
risk getting into trouble for two ne'er-do-wells, like his two precious
Edwards. They eat more than any four men I ever knew, and that will I
maintain against all comers, and as to work they cannot so much as see
it. Worthless! And for them will he risk our good name. For mark me,
Constantia, shovelboard is a game, and gaming an abomination, and not to
be mentioned in a virtuous household, yet would your father permit it
played----"

"But you just said it was harmless, and that your father had a table!"
cried Constance.

"My father was a good man, but not a Puritan," said Dame Eliza, somewhat
confused to be called upon to harmonize her own statements. "In England
shovelboard is one thing; in Plymouth a second thing, and two things are
not the same as one thing. I am disgusted with your father, but what
good does it do me to speak? Never am I heeded but rather am I flouted
by the Hopkins brood, young and old, which is why I never speak, but eat
my heart out in silence and patience, knowing that had I married as I
might have married--aye, and that many times, I'd have you know--I'd
not be here among sands and marshes and Indians and barrens, slaving for
ungrateful people who think to show their better blood by treating me as
they best know how! But it is a long lane that hath no turning, and
justice must one day be my reward."

When Stephen Hopkins came in Dame Eliza dared not air her grievances;
his angry face compelled silence. Even Constance did not intrude upon
his annoyance, but contented herself with conveying her sympathy by
waiting upon him and talking blithely to Damaris, succeeding at last in
winning a smile from her father by her amusing stories to the child.

"There is a moon, Constance; is it too cold for you to walk with me? The
sea is fair and silvery beneath the moon rays," said Mr. Hopkins after
supper.

"Not a whit too chill, Father, and I shall like to be out of doors,"
cried Constance, disregarding her stepmother's frown, who disapproved of
pleasure strolls.

Constance drew her cloak about her, its deep hood over her head, and
went out with her father. Stephen Hopkins placed her hand in his arm,
and led her toward the beach. It was a deep, clear autumn night, the
moon was brilliant; the sea, still as a mirror, gave its surface for the
path that led from the earth to the moon, made by the moon rays.

At last her father spoke to Constance.

"Wise little woman," he said, patting the hand in his arm, "to keep
silent till a man has conquered his humours. Your mother had that rare
feminine wisdom. What a comrade was she, my dear! Seeing your profile
thus half-concealed by your hood I have been letting myself feel that
she had returned to me. And so she has, for you are part of her, her
gift to me! Trouble no more over my annoyance, Constance; I have
conquered it. I do not say that there is no soreness left in me, that I
should be thus dealt with, but I am philosopher enough to see that Myles
Standish was right when he once said to me that I was a fool for my
pains; that living in Plymouth I must bear myself Plymouth-wise."

"Father, have you had enough of impertinence in the day's doings, that
your neighbours should dare to judge you, or will you tolerate a little
more impertinence, and from your own daughter?" asked Constance.

"Now what's in the wind?" demanded Stephen Hopkins, stopping short.

"Nay, Father, let me speak freely!" Constance implored. "Indeed there is
nothing in my heart that you would disapprove, could I bare it to your
eyes. Does not this day's experience throw a light upon Giles?"

"Giles! How? Why?" exclaimed her father.

"Giles is as like you as are two peas in a pod, dear Father. He does not
count himself a boy any longer. He hath felt that he was dealt with for
offences that he had not done. He has been wounded, angry, sore,
sad--and most of all because he half worships you. The governor, Mr.
Winslow, no one is to you, nor can hurt you, as you can hurt Giles.
Don't you feel to-day, Father, how hard it is for a young lad to bear
injustice? When Giles comes home will you not show him that you trust
him, love him, as I so well know you do, but as he cannot now be made to
believe you do? And won't you construe him by what you have suffered
this day, and comfort him? Forgive me, Father, my dearest, dearest! I do
not mean wrong, and after all, it is only your Constance speaking her
heart out to you," she pleaded.

For upwards of ten minutes Stephen Hopkins was silent while Constance
hung trembling on his arm.

Then her father turned to her, and took her face in both his hands,
tears in his eyes.

"It is only my Constance speaking; only my dearest earthly treasure," he
said. "And by all the gods, she hath spoken sweetly and truly, and I
will heed her! Yes, my Constance, I will read my own bitterness in
Giles's heart, and I will heal it, if but the lad comes back safe to
us."

With which promise, that sounded in Constance's ears like the carol of
angels, her father kissed her thrice on brow, and lips, a most unusual
caress from him. It was a thankful Constance that lay down beside
Damaris that night, beneath the lean-to roof.

"Now I know that Giles will come back, for this is what has been meant
in all that hath lately come to us," was her last thought as she drifted
into sleep.



CHAPTER XV

The "Fortune," that Sailed, First West, then East


"There's a ship, there's a sail standing toward us!"

It was Francis Billington's shrill boyish voice that aroused the Hopkins
household with this tidings, early in the morning on one of those
mid-November days when at that hour the air was chill and at noon the
warmth of summer brooded over land and sea.

Stephen Hopkins called from within: "Wait, wait, Francis, till I can
come to thee."

In a moment or two he came out of his door and looked in the direction
in which the boy pointed, although a hillock on the Hopkins land, which
lay between Leyden and Middle streets, cut off the sight of the sail.

"She's coming up from the south'ard," cried Francis, excitedly. "Most
like from the Cape, but she must have come from England first, say you
not so, Mr. Hopkins?"

"Surely," agreed Stephen Hopkins. "The savages build no vessels like
ours, as you well know. Thank you, my boy, for warning me of her
approach. Go on and spread your news broadcast; let our entire community
be out to welcome whatever good the ship brings, or to resist
harm--though that I fear not. I will myself be at the wharf when she
gets in."

"Oh, as to that, Mr. Hopkins, you have time to eat as big a breakfast as
you can get and still be too early for the arrival," said Francis,
grinning. "She's got a long way to cover and a deal to do to reach
Plymouth wharf in this still air. She's not close in, by much. I hurried
and yelled to get you up quick because--well, because you've got to
hurry folks and yell when a ship comes in, haven't you?"

Mr. Hopkins smiled sympathetically at the boy whose actions rarely got
sympathy.

"Till ships become a more common sight in our harbour, Francis, I would
advise letting your excitement on the coming of one have vent a-plenty,"
he said, turning to reënter the house as Francis Billington, acting on
advice more promptly than was his wont, ran down Leyden Street, throwing
up his cap and shouting: "A ship! A sail! A ship! A sail!" at the top of
his vigorous lungs, not only unreproved for his disturbance of the
peaceful morning, but hailed with answering excitement by the men,
women, and children whom he aroused as he ran.

The ship took as long to reach haven as Francis Billington had
prophesied she would require. She proved to be a small ship with a
figure-head of a woman, meant to represent Fortune, for she was
blindfolded, but her battered paint indicated that she had in her own
person encountered ill-fortune in her course.

A number of people were gathered on her forward deck, looking eagerly
for indications of the sort of place that they were approaching.

"Mr. Weston, knowing that we depend upon him and his brother merchants,
our friends across seas, for supplies, hath at last dispatched us the
long-waited ship," said Mr. Winslow to Mr. Hopkins.

"With someone, let us hope, authorized to carry back report of us here,
and thus to get us, later on, what we sore need. Many new colonists, as
well as nearly all things that human beings require for existence," said
Stephen Hopkins, with something of the strain upon his endurance that he
had suffered getting into his voice.

The ship was the _Fortune_--her figure-head had announced as much. When
she made anchor, and her small boat came to the wharf, the first person
to step ashore was Mr. Robert Cushman, the English agent who had played
so large a part in the embarkation of the pilgrims in the _Mayflower_.

"Welcome, in all truth!" said Governor Bradford stepping forward to
seize the hand of this man, from whose coming and subsequent reports at
home so much might be hoped. "Now, at last, have we what we have so long
needed, a representative who can speak of us as one who hath seen!"

"I am glad to be here in a twofold sense, Mr. Bradford," returned Mr.
Cushman.

"Glad to meet with you, whom I knew under the distant sky of home, glad
to be at the end of my voyage. I have brought you thirty-five additional
members of your community. We came first to Cape Cod, and a more
discouraged band of adventurers would be hard to find than were these
men when they saw how barren of everything was the Cape. I assured them
that they would find you in better condition here, at Plymouth, and we
set sail hither. They have been scanning waves and sky for the first
symptom of something like comfort at Plymouth, beginning their anxious
outlook long before it was possible to satisfy it. I assure you that
never was a wharf hailed so gladly as was this one that you have built,
for these men argued that before you would build a wharf you must have
made sure of greater essentials."

"We are truly thankful for new strength added to us; we need it sore,"
said William Bradford. "We make out to live, nor have we wanted
seriously, thus far."

"The men I have gathered together and brought to you are not provided;
they will be a charge upon you for a while in food and raiment, but
after a time their strength should more than recompense you in labour,"
said Mr. Cushman. "Where is the governor? I have a letter here from Mr.
Weston to Governor Carver; will you take me to him?"

"That we may not do, Mr. Cushman," said Governor Bradford, sadly.
"Governor Carver is at rest since last April, a half year agone. It was
a day of summer heat and he was labouring in the field, from which he
came out very sick, complaining greatly of his head. He lay down and in
a few hours his senses failed, which never returned to him till his
death, some days later. Bitterly have we mourned that just man. And but
a month and somewhat more, passed when Mistress Carver, who was a weak
woman, and sore beset by the sufferings of her coming here, and so
ill-fitted to bear grief, followed her spouse to their reward, as none
who knew them could doubt. I am chosen, unworthily, to succeed John
Carver as governor of this colony."

"Then is the letter thine, William Bradford, and the Plymouth men have
wisely picked out thee to hold chief office over them," said Robert
Cushman. "Yet your news is heavy hearing, and I hope there is not much
of such tidings to be given me."

"Half of us lie yonder on the hillside," said Governor Bradford. "But
they died in the first months of our landing, when we lacked shelter and
all else. It was a mortality that assailed us, a swift plague, but since
it hath passed there is little sickness among us. Gather your men and
let us go on to the village which we have built us, a habitation in the
wilderness, like Israel of old. Like old Plymouth at home it is in name,
but in naught else, yet it is not wholly without its pleasant comfort,
and we are learning to hold it dear, as Providence hath wisely made man
to cherish his home."

Mr. Cushman marshalled his sorry-looking followers; they were destitute
of bedding, household utensils, even scantily provided with clothes, so
that they came off the _Fortune_ in the lightest marching order, and
filled with dismay the Plymouth people who saw that their deficiencies
would fall upon the first settlers to supply.

"Well, Constantia, and so hath it ever been, and ever will be, world
without end, that they who till and sow do not reap, but rather some
idle blackbird that sits upon a stump whistling for the corn that grows
for him, and not for his betters," scolded Dame Eliza who, like others
of the women who were hard-working and economical, felt especially
aggrieved by this invoice of destitution. "It is we, and such as we who
may feed them, even to Damaris. Get a pan of dried beans, child, and
shell 'em, for it is against our profession to see them starve, but why
the agents sent, or Robert Cushman brought, beggars to us it would
puzzle Solomon to say. Where will your warm cloak come from that you
hoped for, think you, Constantia, with these people requiring our
stores? Do they take Plymouth for Beggars' Bush?"

"I came hither walking beside my father, who was talking with Mr.
Winslow, Stepmother," said Constance, noting with amusement that her
stepmother commiserated her probable sacrifice, swayed by her
indignation to make common cause with Constance, whose desires she
rarely noted. "They said that it would put a burden upon us to provide
for these new-comers at first, but that they looked like able and
hopeful subjects to requite us abundantly, and that soon. So never mind
my cloak; I will darn and patch my old one, and at least there be none
here who will not know why I go shabby, and be in similar stress."

The door opened and Humility Cooper entered. She kissed Constance on the
cheek, a manner of greeting not common among these Puritan maidens,
especially when they met often, and slowly took the stool that Constance
placed for her in the chimney corner, loosening her cape as she did so.

"I have news, dear Constance," Humility said.

"How strangely you look at me, Humility!" cried Constance. "Is your news
good or ill? Your face would tell me it was both; your eyes shine, yet
are ready to tears, and your lips droop, yet are smiling!"

"My news is that same mixture, Constance," cried Humility. "I am sent
for from England. The letter is come by the _Fortune_. She is to lie in
our harbour barely two sen' nights, and then weigh anchor for home. And
I----"

"You go on her!" cried Constance. "Oh Humility!"

"And so I do," said Humility. "I am glad to go home. It is a sad and
heavy-hearted thing to be here alone, with only Elizabeth Tilley, my
cousin, left me. To be sure her father and mother, and Edward Tilley and
his wife, who brought me hither, were but my cousins, though one degree
nearer than John Tilley's Betsy; yet was it kindred, and they were
those who had me in charge. Since they died I have felt lone, kind
though everyone hath been; you and Priscilla Mullins Alden and Elizabeth
are like my sisters. But my heart yearns back to England. Yet when I
think of seeing you for the last time, till we meet beyond all parting,
since you will never go to the old land, nor I return to the new one,
then it seems that it will break my heart to say farewell, and that I
cannot go."

"Why, Humility, dear lass, we cannot let you go!" cried Constance,
putting her arms around the younger girl toward whom she felt as a
protector, as well as comrade.

"Tut, tut!" said Dame Eliza, yet not unkindly. "It is best for Humility
to go. I have long been glad to know, what we did know, that her kindred
at home would send for her."

Humility stooped and gathered up Lady Fair, the cat, on her knee.

"I am like her," she said. "The warmth I have holds me, and I like not
to venture out into the chillsome wet of the dark and storm."

"Lady Fair would scamper home fast enough if she were among strangers,
in a new place, Humility," cried Constance, with one of her mercurial
changes setting herself to cheer Humility on her unavoidable road. "It
will be hard setting out, but you will be glad enough when you see the
green line of shore that will be England awaiting you!"

"I thought you would be sorry, Constance!" cried Humility, tears
springing to her eyes and rolling down her smooth, pink cheeks.

"And am I not, dear heart, just because I want to make it easier for
you?" Constance reproached her. "How I shall miss you, dear little
trusting Humility, I cannot tell you. But I am glad to know that we who
remain are worse off than you who go, and that when you see home again
there will be more than enough there to make up to you for Pris,
Elizabeth, and me. There will be ships coming after this, so my father
and Mr. Winslow were saying, and you will write us, and we will write
you. And some day, when Oceanus, or Peregrine White, or one of the other
small children here, is grown up to be a great portrait painter, like
Mr. Holbein, whose portraits I was taken to see at Windsor when I was
small, I will dispatch to you a great canvas of an old lady in flowing
skirts, with white hair puffed and coifed and it will be painted across
the bottom in readable letters: 'Portrait of Constantia Hopkins, aetat.
86,' else will you never know it for me, the silly girl you left
behind."

"'Silly girl,' indeed! You will be the wife of some great gentleman who
is now in England, but who will cross to the colony, and you will be the
mother of those who will help in its growth," cried Humility the
prophetess.

"Cease your foolish babble, both of you!" Dame Eliza ordered them,
impatiently. "It is poor business talking of serious matters lightly,
but Humility is well-off, and needs not pity, to be returning to the
land that we cast off, nor am I as Lot's wife saying it, for it is true,
nor am I repining."

Humility had made a correct announcement in saying that the _Fortune_
would stay on the western shore but two weeks.

For that time she lay in the waters of Plymouth harbour taking on a
cargo of goods to the value of 500 pounds, or thereabout, which the
Plymouth people rightly felt would put their enterprise in a new light
when the ship arrived in England, especially that she had come hither
unprepared for trade, expecting no such store here.

Lumber they stowed upon the _Fortune_ to her utmost capacity to carry,
and two hogsheads full of beaver and otter skins, taken in exchange for
the little that the Englishmen had to offer for them, the idea of
trading for furs being new to them, till Squanto showed them the value
in a beaver skin.

On the night of the thirteenth day of the _Fortune's_ lying at anchor
Humility went aboard to be ready in case that the ship's master should
suddenly resolve to take advantage of a favourable wind and sail
unexpectedly.

Stephen Hopkins offered to take the young girls, who had been Humility's
companions on the _Mayflower_, out to the _Fortune_ early the next
morning for the final parting. It was decided that the _Fortune_ was to
set sail at the turn of the tide on the fourteenth day, and drop down to
sea on the first of its ebb.

Priscilla, Elizabeth Tilley, Desire Minter, who was also to return to
England when summoned, and Constance, were rowed out to the ship when
the reddening east threw a glory upon the _Fortune_ and covered her
battered, blindfolded figure-head with the robes of an aurora.

Humility was dressed, awaiting them. She threw herself into the arms of
each of the girls in succession, and for once five young girls were
silent, their chatter hushed by the solemn thought that never would
their eyes rest again upon Humility's pleasant little face; that never
again would Humility see the faces which had smiled her through her days
of bereavement, see Constance who had nursed her back to life when she
herself seemed likely to follow her protectors to the hillside, to their
corn-hidden graves.

"We cannot forget, so we will not ask each other to remember, Humility
dear," whispered Constance, her lips against Humility's soft, brown
hair.

Humility shook her head, unable otherwise to reply.

"I love you more than any one on earth, Con," she managed to say at
last.

"I am sorry to shorten your stay, daughters, sorry to compel you to
leave Mistress Humility," said Mr. Cushman, coming down the deck to the
plaintive group, "but we are sailing now, and there will be no time when
the last good-bye is easy. You must go ashore."

Not a word was spoken as Priscilla, Desire--though for her the parting
was not final--Elizabeth and Constance kissed, clung to Humility, and
for ever let her go. Stephen Hopkins, not a little moved himself--for he
was fond of Humility, over whom he had kept ward since Edward Tilley had
died--guided the tear-blinded girls down the ship's ladder, into his
boat, and rowed them ashore.

The _Fortune's_ sails creaked and her gear rattled as her men hauled up
her canvas for her homeward voyage.

She weighed anchor and slowly moved on her first tack, bright in the
golden sunshine of a perfect Indian summer morning.

"Be brave, and wave a gay farewell to the little lass," said Stephen
Hopkins. "And may God fend her from harm on her way, and lead her over
still waters all her days."

"Oh, amen, amen, Father!" sobbed Constance. "She can't see we are crying
while we wave to her so blithely. But it is the harder part to stay
behind."

"With me, my lass?" asked Stephen Hopkins, smiling tenderly down on his
usually courageous little pioneer.

"Oh, no; no indeed! Forgive me, Father! The one hard thing would be to
stay anywhere without thee," cried Constance, smiling as brightly as she
had just wept bitterly. The _Fortune_ leaned over slightly, and sailed
at a good speed down the harbour, Humility's white signal of farewell
hanging out over the boat's stern, discernable long after the girl's
plump little figure and pink round face, all washed white with tears,
had been blotted out by intervening space.

Before the _Fortune_ had gone wholly out of sight Francis Billington
came over the marsh grass that edged the sand, sometimes running for a
few steps, sometimes lagging; his whole figure and air eloquent of
catastrophe.

"What can ail Francis Billington?" exclaimed Stephen Hopkins.

"He looks ghastly," cried Constance. "Father, it can't be--Giles?" she
whispered.

"Bad news of him!" cried her father quickly, turning pale. "Nonsense,
no; of course not."

Nevertheless he strode toward the boy hastily and caught him by the arm.

"What aileth thee; speak!" he ordered him.

"Jack. Jack is--Jack----" Francis stammered.

"Oh, is it Jack?" cried Stephen Hopkins, relieved, though he could have
struck himself a moment later for the seeming heartlessness of his
excusable mistake.

"What has Jack done now? He is always getting into mischief, but I am
sure you need have no fear for him. But now that I look at you----. Why,
my poor lad, what is it? No harm hath befallen your brother?"

"Jack is dead," said Francis.

Constance uttered a cry, and her father fell back a step or two, shocked
and sorry.

"Forgive me, Francis; I had no notion of this. I never thought John
Billington, the younger, could come to actual harm--so daring, so
reckless, but so strong and able to take care of himself! Dead! Francis,
it can't be. You are mistaken. Where is Doctor Fuller?"

"With my father," said Francis, and they saw that he shook from head to
foot.

"He was with Jack; he did what he could. He couldn't do more," said
Francis.

"Poor lad," said Stephen Hopkins, laying his hand gently on the boy's
shoulder.

"Do you want to tell us? Was it an accident?"

Francis nodded. "Bouncing Bully," he muttered.

Stephen Hopkins glanced questioningly at Constance; he thought perhaps
Francis was wandering in his mind.

"That was poor Jack's great pistol that he took such pride in," cried
Constance.

"Oh, Francis, did that kill him?"

"Burst," cried Francis, and said no more.

"Come home with us, Francis," said Mr. Hopkins. "Indeed, my boy, I am
heartily sorry for thee, and wish I could comfort thee. Be brave, and
bear it in the way that thou hast been taught."

"I liked Jack," said poor Francis, turning away. "I thank you, Mr.
Hopkins, but I'd not care to go home with you. If Giles was back----.
Not that I don't love you, Con, but Jack and Giles----. I'm
going--somewhere. I guess I'll find Nimrod, my dog. Thank you, Mr.
Hopkins, but I couldn't come. I forgot why I came here. Doctor Fuller
told me to say he wanted you. It's about Jack--Jack's----. They'll bury
him."

The boy turned away, staggering, but in a moment Constance and her
father, watching him, saw him break into a run and disappear.

"Don't look so worried, my dear," said Stephen Hopkins. "It is a boy's
instinct to hide his grief, and the dog will be a good comrade for
Francis for awhile. Later we will get hold of him. Best leave him to
himself awhile. That wild, unruly Jack! And he is dead! I'd rather a
hundred pounds were lost than that I had spoken as I did to Francis at
first, but how should I have dreamed it was more than another of the
Billington scrapes? I tell thee, Connie, it will be a rare mercy if the
father does not end badly one day. He is insubordinate, lawless,
dangerous. Perhaps young John is saved a worse fate."

"Nevertheless I am sad enough over the fate that has befallen him," said
Constance. "He was a kindly boy, and loyal enough to me to make it right
that I should mourn him. And I did like him. Poor Jack. Poor, young,
heedless Jack! And how proud he was of that clumsy weapon that hath
turned on him!"

"And so did I like him, Connie, though he and Francis have been, from
our first embarkation on the _Mayflower_, the torment and black sheep of
our company. But I liked the boy. I like his father less, and fear he
will one day force us to deal with him extremely." In which prophecy
Stephen Hopkins was only too right.

"To think that in one day we should bid a last farewell to two of our
young fellow-exiles, Humility and Jack, both gone home, and for ever
from us! Giles liked Jack; Jack stood by him when he needed help. Oh,
Father, Father, if it were Giles!" cried Constance.

"I know, I know, child," said her father, huskily. "I've been thinking
that. I've been thinking that, and more. My son has been headstrong, but
never wicked. He is stiffnecked, but hath no evil in his will, except
that he resists me. But I have been thinking hard, my Constance. You
were right; I would have done well to listen to your pleadings, to your
wiser understanding of my boy. I have been hard on him, unjust to him; I
should have admitted him to my confidence, given mine to him. I am wrong
and humbly I confess it to you, Giles's advocate. When he comes back my
boy shall find a better father awaiting him. I wounded him through his
very love for me, and well I know how once he loved me."

"Oh, Father; dear, good, great Father!" cried Constance, forgetful of
all grief. "Only a great man can thus acknowledge a mistake. My dear,
dear, beloved Father!" And in her heart she thought perhaps poor Jack
had not died in vain if his death helped to show their father how dear
Giles was to him, still, and after all.



CHAPTER XVI

A Gallant Lad Withal


There was a gray sky the day after young madcap John Billington was laid
to rest in the grave that had been hard to think of as meant for him,
dug by the younger colonists. Long rifted clouds lay piled upon one
another from the line of one horizon to the other, and the wind blew
steadily, keeping close to the ground and whistling around chimneys and
rafters in a way that portended a storm driven in from the sea.

"I think it's lost-and-lone to-day, Constance," said Damaris, coining
her own term for the melancholy that seemed to envelop earth and sky. "I
think it's a good day for a story, and I'd like much to sit in your lap
in the chimney corner and hear your nicest ones."

"Would you, my Cosset? But you said a story at first, and now you say my
nicest _ones_! Do you mean one story, or several stories, Damaris?"
Constance asked.

"I mean one first, and many ones after that, if you could tell them,
Constance," said the child. "Mother says we have no time to idle in
story-telling, but to-day is so empty and lonesome! I'd like to have a
story."

"And so you shall, my little sis!" cried Constance gathering Damaris
into her arms and dropping into the high-backed chair which Dame Eliza
preëmpted for herself, when she was there; but now she was not at home.
"Come, at least the fire is gay! Hark how it snaps and sings! And how
gaily red and golden are the flames, and how the great log glows! Shall
we play it is a red-coated soldier, fighting the chill for us?"

"No, oh, no," shuddered Damaris. "Don't play about fighting and guns!"

Constance cuddled her closer, drawing her head into the hollow of her
shoulder. Sensitive, grave little Damaris had been greatly unnerved by
the death of Jack, and especially that his own pistol had taken his
life.

"We'll play that the red glow is loving kindness, and that we have had
our eyes touched with magic that makes us able to see love," cried
Constance. "Fire is the emblem of love, warming our hearts toward all
things, so our fancy will be at once make-believe and truth. Remember,
my cosset lamb, that love is around us, whether we see it or not, and
that there can be no dismal gray days if we have our eyes touched to see
the glow of love warming us! Now what shall the story be? Here in the
hearth corner, shall it be Cinderella? Or shall it be the story of the
lucky bear, that found a house empty and a fire burning when he wanted a
home, and wherein he set up housekeeping for himself, like the quality?"

"All of them, Constance! But first tell me what we shall do when Giles
comes home. I like that story best. I wish he would come soon!" sighed
Damaris.

"Ah, so do I! And so he will;" Constance corrected instantly the pain
that she knew had escaped into her voice. "Captain Standish will not
risk the coming of cold weather; he will bring them home soon. Well,
what shall we do then, you want to hear? First of all, someone will
come running, calling to us that the shallop hath appeared below in the
harbour. Then we shall all make ourselves fine, and----"

"Someone is coming now, Con, but not running," cried Damaris, sitting up
and holding up a warning finger.

"It is a man's step," began Constance, but, as the door opened she
sprang to her feet with a cry, and stood for an instant of stunned joy
holding Damaris clasped to her breast. Then she set the child on her
feet and leaped into Giles's arms, with a great sob, repeating his name
and clinging to him.

"Steady, Constance! Steady, dear lass," cried Giles, himself in not much
better state, while Damaris clung around his waist and frantically
kissed the tops of his muddy boots.

"Oh, how did you get here? When did you come? Are they all safely here?"
cried Constance.

"Every man of them; we had a fine expedition, not a misfortune, perfect
weather, and we saw wonders of noble country: streams and hills and
plains," said Giles, and instantly Constance felt a new manhood and
self-confidence in him, steadier, less assertive than his boyish pride,
the self-reliance that is won through encountering realities, in
conquering self and hence things outside of self.

"I cannot wait to hear the tale! Let me help you off with your heavy
coat, your matchlock, and then sit you down in this warmest corner, and
tell me everything," cried Constance, beginning to recover herself, the
rich colour of her delight flooding her face as, the first shock of
surprise over, she realized that it was indeed Giles come back to her
and that her secret anxiety for him was past. "Art hungry, my own?" she
added, fluttering around her brother, like a true woman, wanting first
of all to feed him.

"Well, Con, to be truthful I am always hungry," said Giles, smiling down
on her.

"But not in such strait now that I cannot wait till the next meal."

"Here are our father and Mistress Hopkins, hastening hither," said
Constance, looking out the door, hoping for this coming of her father.
"You have not seen Father yet?"

"No, Con; I came straight home, but the captain has met with him, I am
sure. And, Con, I want to tell you before he comes in, that I have seen
how wrong I was toward our good father, and that I hope to carry myself
dutifully toward him henceforth."

Constance clasped her hands, rapturously, but had not time to reply
before the door was thrown wide open and Stephen Hopkins strode in, his
face radiant.

He went up to his tall son and clasped his shoulders in a grip that made
Giles wince, and said through his closed teeth, trying to steady his
voice:

"My lad, my fine son, thank God I have you back! And by His mercy never
again shall we be parted, nor sundered by the least sundering."

Giles looked up, and Giles looked down. He hoped, yet hardly dared to
think, that his father meant more than mere bodily separation.

"I am glad enough to be here, yet we had glorious days, and have seen a
country so worthy that we wish that we might go thither, leaving this
less profitable country," said Giles. "We have seen land that by a
little effort would be turned into gracious meadows. We have seen great
bays and rivers, full of fish, capable of navigation and industry. We
have seen a beautiful river, which we have named the Charles, for we
think it to be that river which Captain John Smith thus named in his
map. The Charles flows down to the sea, past three hills which top a
noble harbour, and where we would dearly like to build a town. I will
tell you of these things in order. Captain Myles will have a meeting of
the Plymouth people to hear our tale; I would wait for that, else will
it be stale hearing to you."

"Nay, Giles, we shall never tire of it!" cried Constance. "A good story
is the better for oft hearing, as you know well, do you not, little
Damaris?"

"Well, it hath made a man of thee, Giles Hopkins," said Dame Eliza who
had silently watched the lad closely as he talked. "It was a lucky thing
for thee that the Arm of the Colony, Captain Myles, took thee for one of
his tools."

"A lucky thing for him, too," interposed Giles's father proudly. "I have
seen Myles; he hath told me how, when you and he were fallen behind your
companions, investigating a deep ravine, he had slipped and would have
been killed by his own matchlock as it struck against the rock, but that
you, risking your life, threw yourself forward on a narrow ledge and
struck up the muzzle of the gun. The colony is in your debt, my son,
that your arm warded death from the man it calls, justly, its Arm."

"Prithee, father!" expostulated Giles, turning crimson. "Who could do
less for a lesser man? And who would not do far more for Myles Standish?
I would be a fool to hesitate over risk to a life no more valuable than
mine, if such as he were in danger. Besides which the captain
exaggerates my danger. I don't want that prated here. Please help me
silence Myles Standish."

Stephen Hopkins nodded in satisfaction.

"Right, Giles. A blast on one's own horn produces much the sound of the
bray of an ass. Yet am I glad that I know of this," he said.

Little Love Brewster, who was often a messenger from one Plymouth house
to another, came running in at that moment.

"My father sends me," he panted. "The men of Plymouth are to sit this
afternoon at our house to hear the tale of the adventurers to the
Massachusetts. You will come? Giles, did you bring us new kinds of
arrows from the strange savages? My father saith that Squanto was the
best guide and helper on this expedition that white men ever had."

"So he was, Love. I brought no new arrows, but I have in my sack
something for each little lad in the colony. And for the girls I have
wondrous beads," added Giles, seeing Damaris's crestfallen face.

"I will risk a reprimand; it can be no worse than disapproval from Elder
Brewster, and belike they will spare me because of the occasion,"
thought Constance in her own room, making ready to go to the assembly
that was to gather to welcome the explorers, but which to her mind was
gathered chiefly to honour Giles.

Thus deliberately she violated the rule of the colony; let her beautiful
hair curl around her flushed face; put on a collar of her mother's
finest lace, tied in such wise by a knot of rose-coloured ribbon that it
looked like a cluster of buds under her decided little chin. And,
surveying herself in the glass, which was over small and hazy for her
merits, that chin raised itself in a hitch of defiance.

"Why should I not be young, and fair and happy?" Constance demanded of
her unjust reflection. "At the worst, and if I am forced to remove it, I
shall have been gay and bonny--a wee bit so!--for a little while."

With which this unworthy pilgrim maid danced down the stairs, seized by
the hand Damaris, who looked beside her like a small brown grub, and set
out for Elder Brewster's house.

Although the older women raised disapproving brows at Constance, and
shook their heads over her rose-tinted knots of ribbon, no one openly
reproved her, and she slid into her place less pleased with her
ornamentation than she had been while anticipating a rebuke.

Captain Myles Standish rose up in his place and gave the history of his
explorations in a clear-cut, terse way, that omitted nothing, yet dwelt
on nothing beyond the narration of necessary facts.

It was a long story, however condensed, yet no one wearied of it, but
listened enthralled to his account of the Squaw-Sachem of the tribe of
the Massachusetts, who ruled in the place of her dead spouse, the chief
Nanepashemet, and was feared by other Indians as a relentless foe, and
of the great rock that ended a promontory far in on the bay, at the foot
of the three hills which were so good a site for a settlement, a rock
that was fashioned by Nature into the profile of an Indian's face, and
which they called Squaw Rock, or Squantum Head. As the captain went on
telling of their inland marches from these three hills and their bay,
and of the fertile country of great beauty which they everywhere came
upon, there arose outside a commotion of children crying, and the larger
children who were in charge of the small ones, calling frantically.

Squanto, admitted to the assembly as one who had borne an important part
in the story that Myles Standish was relating, sprang to his feet and
ran out of the house. He came back in a few moments, followed by another
Indian--a tall, lithe, lean youth, with an unfriendly manner.

"What is this?" demanded Governor Bradford, rising.

"Narragansett, come tell you not friends to you," said Squanto.

The Narragansett warrior, with a great air of contempt, threw upon the
floor, in the middle of the assembly, a small bundle of arrows, tied
around with a spotted snake skin. This done, he straightened himself,
folded his arms, and looked disdainfully upon the white men.

"Well, what has gone amiss with _his_ digestion!" exclaimed Giles,
aloud.

His father shook his head at him. "How do you construe this act and
manner, Squanto? Surely it portendeth trouble."

"It is war," said Squanto. "Arrows tied by snake skin means no friend;
war."

"Perhaps we would do well to let it lie; picking it up may mean
acceptance of the challenge, as if it were a glove in a tourney. The
customs of men run amazingly together, though race and education
separate them," suggested Myles Standish.

"Squanto, take this defiant youngster out of here, and treat him
politely; see that he is fed and given a place to sleep. Tell him that
we will answer him----By your approval, Governor and gentlemen?"

"You have anticipated my own suggestion, Captain Standish," said William
Bradford bowing, and Squanto, who understood more than he could put into
words, spoke rapidly to the Narragansett messenger and led him away.

"Shall we deliberate upon this, being conveniently assembled?" suggested
Governor Bradford.

"It needs small consideration, meseems," said Myles Standish,
impatiently. "Dismiss this messenger at once; do not let him remain here
over night. The less your foe knows of you, the more your mystery will
increase his dread of you. In the morning send a messenger of our own to
the Narragansetts, and tell them that if they want war, war be it. If
they prefer war to peace, let them begin upon the war at once; that we
no more fear them than we have wronged them, and as they choose, so
would we deal with them, as friends worth keeping, or foes to fear."

"Admirable advice," Stephen Hopkins applauded the captain, and the other
Plymouth men echoed his applause.

Then, with boyish impetuosity and with laughter lighting up his handsome
face, Giles leaped to his feet.

"Now do I know the answer!" he cried. "Let the words be as our captain
hath spoken; no one could utter better! But there is a further answer!
Empty their snakeskin of arrows and fill it round with bullets, and
throw it down among them, as they threw their pretty toy down to us! And
our stuffing of it will have a bad flavour to their palates, mark me. It
will be like filling a Christmas goose with red peppers, and if it
doesn't send the Narragansetts away from the table they were setting for
us, then is not my name Giles Hopkins! And one more word, my elders and
masters! Let me be your messenger to the Narragansetts, I beseech you!
They sent a youth to us; send you this youth back to them. If it be
hauteur against hauteur, pride for pride, I'll bear me like the lion and
the unicorn fighting for the crown, both together, in one person. See
whether or not I can strike the true defiant attitude!"

With which, eyes sparkling with fun and excitement, head thrown back,
Giles struck an attitude, folding his arms and spreading his feet,
looking at once so boyish and so handsome that with difficulty
Constance held her clasped hands from clapping him.

"Truth, friend Stephen, your lad hath an idea!" said Myles Standish,
delightedly.

"It could not be better. Conceived in true harmony with the savages'
message to us, and carrying conviction of our sincerity to them at the
first glimpse of it! By all means let us do as Giles suggests."

There was not a dissentient voice in the entire assembly; indeed
everyone was highly delighted with the humour of it.

There was some objection to allowing Giles to be the messenger, but here
Captain Standish stood his friend, though Constance looked at him
reproachfully for helping Giles into this risky business.

"Let the lad go, good gentlemen," he said. "Giles hath been with me on
these recent explorations, and hath borne himself with fortitude,
courage, and prudence. He longs to play a man's part among us; let him
have the office of messenger to the Narragansetts, and go thither in the
early morning, at dawn. We will dismiss their youth at once, and follow
him with our better message without loss of time."

So it was decided, and in high feather Giles returned to his home,
Damaris on his shoulder, Constance walking soberly at his side, half
sharing his triumph in his mission, half frightened lest her brother had
but returned from unknown dangers to encounter worse ones.

"Oh, they'll not harm me, timorous Con!" Giles assured her. "They know
that it is prudent to let lie the sleeping English bulldogs, of whom,
trust me, they know by repute! Now, Sis, can you deck me out in some
wise impressive to these savages, who will not see the dignity of our
sober dress as we do?"

"Feathers?" suggested Constance, abandoning her anxiety to enter into
this phase of the mission. "I think feathers in your hat, Giles, and
some sort of a bright sash across your breast, all stuck through with
knives? I will get knives from Pris and some of the others. And--oh, I
know, Giles! That crimson velvet cloak that was our mother's, hung
backward from your shoulder! Splendid, Giles; splendid enough for Sir
Walter Raleigh himself to wear at Elizabeth's court, or to spread for
her to walk upon."

"It promises well, Sis, in sound, at least," said Giles. "But by all
that's wise, help me to carry this paraphernalia ready to don at a safe
distance from Plymouth, and by no means betray to our solemn rulers how
I shall be decked out!"

The sun was still two hours below his rising when Giles started, the
crimson velvet cloak in a bag, his matchlock, or rather Myles Standish's
matchlock lent Giles for the expedition, slung across his shoulder, a
sword at his side, and the plumes fastened into his hat by Constance's
needle and thread, but covered with another hat which surmounted his
own.

Constance had arisen, also, and went with Giles a little way upon his
journey. Stephen Hopkins had blessed him and bidden him farewell on the
preceding night, not to make too much of his setting forth.

At the boundary which they had agreed upon, Constance kissed her brother
good-bye, removing his second hat, and dressing the plumes crushed below
it.

"Good-bye, my dear one," she said. "And hasten back to me, for I cannot
endure delay of your return. And you look splendid, my Knight of the
Wilderness, even without the crimson cloak. But see to it that you make
it swing back gloriously, and wave it in the dazzled eyes of the
Narragansetts!"

[Illustration: "'You look splendid, my knight of the wilderness'"]

Thus with another kiss, Constance turned back singing, to show to Giles
how little she feared for him, and half laughing to herself, for she was
still very young, and they had managed between them to give this
important errand much of the effect of a boy-and-girl, masquerading
frolic.

Yet, always subject to sudden variations of spirits, Constance had not
gone far before she sat down upon a rock and cried heartily. Then,
having sung and wept over Giles, she went sedately homeward to await his
return in a mood that savoured of both extremes with which she had
parted from him.

The waiting was tedious, but it was not long. Sooner than she had dared
to hope for him, Giles came marching back to her, and as he sang as he
came, at the top of a lusty voice, Plymouth knew before he could tell it
that his errand had been successful.

Giles went straight to Governor Bradford's house, whither those who had
seen and heard him coming followed him.

"There is our gift of war rejected," said Giles, throwing down the
spotted snakeskin, still bulging with its bullets. "They would have
naught of it, but picked it up and gave it back to me with much air of
solicitude, and with many words, which I could not understand, but which
I doubt not were full of the warmest love for us English. And I was glad
to get back the stuffed snakeskin and our good bullets, for here, so far
from supplies, bullets are bullets, and if any of our red neighbours did
attack us we could not afford to have lessened our stock in object
lessons. All's well that ends well--where have I heard that phrase?
Father, isn't it in a book of yours?" Giles concluded, innocently
unconscious that he was walking on thin ice in alluding to a play of
Shakespeare's, and his father's possession of it.

"You have done well, Giles Hopkins," said Governor Bradford, heartily,
"both in your conception of this message, and in your bearing it to the
Narragansetts. And so from them we have no more to fear?"

"No more whatever," said Giles.

"Nevertheless, from this day let us build a stockade around the town,
and close our gates at night, appointing sentinels to take shifts of
guarding us," said Myles Standish. "This incident hath shown me that the
outlying savages are not securely to be trusted. I have long thought
that we should organize into military form. I want four squadrons of our
men, each squadron given a quarter of the town to guard; I want pickets
planted around us, and at any alarm, as of danger from fire or foe, I
want these Plymouth companies to be ready to fly to rescue."

"It shall be as you suggest, Captain," said Governor Bradford. "These
things are for you to order, and the wisdom of this is obvious."

Constance and Giles walked home together, Constance hiding beneath her
gown the plumes which she had first fastened into, then ripped out of
Giles's hat.

"It is a delight to see you thus bearing your part in the affairs of
Plymouth, Giles, dearest," she said. "And what fun this errand must have
been!"

Giles turned on her a pain-drawn face.

"So it was, Constance, and I did like it," he said. "But how I wish Jack
Billington had been with me! He was a brave lad, Constance, and a true
friend. He was unruly, but he was not wicked, and the strict ways here
irked him. Oh, I wish he had been here to do this service instead of me!
I miss him, miss him."

Giles stopped abruptly, and Constance gently touched his arm. Giles had
not spoken before of Jack's death, and she had not dared allude to it.

"I am sorry, too, dear Giles," she whispered, and Giles acknowledged her
sympathy by a touch upon her hand, while his other hand furtively wiped
away the tears that manhood forbade the boy to let fall.



CHAPTER XVII

The Well-Conned Lesson


Giles took a new place in Plymouth after his embassy to the
Narragansetts. No longer a boy among his fellow pilgrims, he fulfilled
well and busily the offices that were his as one of the younger, yet
mature men.

He was given the discipline of the squadron, that, pursuant to Captain
Standish's plan for guarding the settlement, was the largest and
controlled the most important gate of the stockade which was rapidly put
up around the boundary of Plymouth after the defiance of the
Narragansetts. Though that had come to naught, it had warned the
colonists that danger might arise at an unforeseen moment.

There was scarcity of provisions for the winter, the thirty-five
destitute persons left the colony by the _Fortune_ being a heavy
additional drain upon its supplies. Everyone was put upon half rations,
and it devolved upon Giles and John Alden to apportion each family's
share. It was hard to subsist through the bitter weather upon half of
what would, at best, have been a slender nourishment, yet the Plymouth
people faced the outlook patiently, uncomplainingly, and Giles,
naturally hot-headed, impatient, got more benefit than he gave when he
handed out the rations and saw the quiet heroism of their acceptance.

He grew to be a silent Giles, falling into the habit of thoughtfulness,
with scant talk, that was the prevailing manner of the Plymouth men.
Between his father and himself there was friendliness, the former
opposition between them, mutual annoyance, and irritation, were gone.
Yet there they halted, not resuming the intimacy of Giles's childhood
days. It was as if there were a reserve, rather of embarrassment than of
lack of love; as if something were needed to jostle them into closer
intercourse.

Constance saw this, and waited, convinced that it would come, glad in
the perfect confidence that she felt existed between them.

She was a busy Constance in these days. The warmth of September held
through that November, brooding, slumberous, quiet in the sunshine that
warmed like wine.

Constance and her stepmother cut and strung the few vegetables which
they had, and hung them in the sunny corner of the empty attic room.

They spread out corn and pumpkins upon the floor, instructing the
willing Lady Fair to see to it that mice did not steal them.

Dame Eliza, also, had grown comparatively silent. Her long tirades were
wanting; she showed no softening toward Constance, yet she let her
alone. Constance thought that something was on her stepmother's mind,
but she did not try to discover what--glad of the new sparing of her
sharp tongue, having no expectation of anything better than this from
her.

Damaris had been sent with the other children to be instructed in the
morning by Mrs. Brewster in sampler working and knitting; by her husband
in the Westminster catechism, and the hornbook.

In the afternoon Damaris was allowed to play quietly at keeping house,
with Love Brewster, who was a quiet child and liked better to play at
being a pilgrim, and making a house with Damaris, than to share in the
boys' games.

"Where do you go, lambkin?" Constance asked her. "For we must know where
to find you, nor must it be far from the house."

"It is just down by that little patch, Connie; it's as nice as it can
be, and it is the safest place in Plymouth, I'm sure," Damaris assured
her earnestly. "You see there is a woods, and a hollow, and a big, big,
great tree, and its roots go all out, every way, and we live in them,
because they are rooms already; don't you see? And it's nice and
damp--but you don't get your feet wet!" Damaris anticipated the
objection which she saw in Constance's eye. "It's only--only--soft,
gentle damp; not wetness, and moss grows there, as green as green can
be, and feathery! And on the tree are nice little yellow plates, with
brown edges! Growing on it! And we play they are our best plates that we
don't use every day, because they are soft-like, and we didn't care to
touch them when we did it. But they make the prettiest best plates in
the cupboard, for they grow, in rows, with their edges over the next
one, just the way you set up our plates in the corner cupboard. So
please don't think it isn't a nice place, Constance, because it is, and
I'd feel terribly afflicted, and cast down, and as nothing, if I
couldn't go there with Love."

Constance smiled at the child's quoting of the phrases which she had
heard in the long sermons that Elder Brewster read, or delivered to them
twice on Sunday, there being no minister yet come to Plymouth.

"You little echo!" Constance cried. "It surely would be a matter to move
one's pity if you suffered so deeply as that in the loss of your
playground! Well, dear, till the warmth breaks up I suppose you may keep
your house with Love, but promise to leave it if you feel chilly there.
We must trust you so far. Art going there now?"

"Yes, dear Constance. You have a heart of compassion and I love you with
all of mine," said Damaris, expressing herself again like a little
Puritan, but hugging her sister with the natural heartiness of a loving
child.

Then she ran away, and Constance, taking her capacious darning bag on
her arm, went to bear Priscilla Alden company at her mending, as she
often did when no work about the house detained her.

Giles came running down the road when the afternoon had half gone, his
face white. "Con, come home!" he cried, bursting open the door. "Hasten!
Damaris is strangely ill."

Constance sprang up, throwing her work in all directions, and Priscilla
sprang up with her. Without stopping to pick up a thread, the two girls
went with Giles.

"I don't know what it is," Giles said, in reply to Constance's
questions. "Love Brewster came running to Dame Hopkins, crying that
Damaris was sick and strange. She followed him to the children's
playground, and carried the child home. She is like to die; convulsions
and every sign of poison she has, but what it is, what to do, no one
knows. The women are there, but Doctor Fuller, as you know, is gone to a
squaw who is suffering sore, and we could not bring him, even if we knew
where he was, till it was too late. They have done all that they can
recall for such seizures, but the child grows worse."

"Oh, Giles!" groaned Constance. "She hath eaten poison. What has Doctor
Fuller told me of these things? If only I can remember! All I can think
of is that he hath said different poisons require different treatment.
Oh, Giles, Giles!"

"Steady, Sister; it may be that you can help," said Giles. "It had not
occurred to any one how much the doctor had told you of his methods.
Perhaps Love will know what Damaris touched."

"There is Love, sitting crouched in the corner of the garden plot, his
head on his knees, poor little Love!"

Constance broke into a run and knelt beside the little boy, who did not
look up as she put her arms around him.

"Love, Love, dear child, if you can tell me what Damaris ate perhaps God
will help me cure her," she said. "Look up, and be brave and help me.
Did you see Damaris eat anything that you did not eat with her?"

"Little things that grow around the big tree where it is wetter, we
picked for our furniture," Love said at once. "Damaris said you cooked
them and they were good. So then she said we would play some of them was
furniture, and some of them was our dinner. And I didn't eat them, for
they were like thin leather, only soft, and I felt of them, and couldn't
eat them. But Damaris did eat them."

"Toadstools!" cried Constance with a gasp. "Toadstools, Love! Did they
look like little tables? And did Damaris call them mushrooms?"

"Yes, like little tables," Love nodded his head hard. "All full
underneath with soft crimped----"

But Constance waited for no more. With a cry she was on her feet and
running like the wind, calling back over her shoulder to Giles:

"I'll come quick! I know! I know! Tell Father I know!"

"She hath gone to Doctor Fuller's house," said Priscilla, watching
Constance's flying figure, her hair unbound and streaming like a
burnished banner behind her as she ran to get her weapon to fight with
Death. "No girl ever ran as she can. Come, Giles; obey her. Tell your
father and Mistress Hopkins that mayhap Constance can save the child."

They turned toward the house, and Constance sped on.

"Nightshade! The belladonna!" she was saying to herself as she ran. "I
know the phial; I know its place. O, God, give me time, and give me wit,
and do Thou the rest!" Past power to explain, she swept aside with a
vehement arm the woman who found needed shelter for herself in Doctor
Fuller's house, and kept it for him till his wife should come to
Plymouth.

Into the crude laboratory and pharmacy--in which the doctor had allowed
her to work with him, of the contents of which he had taught her so much
for an emergency that she had little dreamed would so closely affect
herself when it came--Constance flew, and turned to the shelf where
stood, in their dark phials, the few poisons which the doctor kept ready
to do beneficent work for him.

"Belladonna, belladonna, the beautiful lady," Constance murmured, in the
curious way that minds have of seizing words and dwelling on them with
surface insistence, while the actual mind is intensely working on a
vital matter.

She took down the wrong phial first, and set it back impatiently.

"There should be none other like belladonna," she said aloud, and took
down the phial she sought. To be sure that she was right, though it was
labelled in the doctor's almost illegible small writing, she withdrew
the cork. She knew the sickening odour of the nightshade which she had
helped distil, an odour that dimly recalled a tobacco that had come to
her father in England in her childhood from some Spanish colony, as she
had been told, and also a wine that her stepmother made from wild
berries.

Constance shuddered as she replaced the cork.

"It sickens me, but if only it will restore little Damaris!" she
thought.

Holding the phial tight Constance hastened away, and, her breath still
coming painfully, she broke into her swift race homeward, diminishing
nothing of her speed in coming, her great purpose conquering the pain
that oppressed her labouring breast.

When she reached her home her father was watching for her in the
doorway. He took her hands in both of his without a word, covering the
phial which she clasped, and looking at her questioningly.

"I hope so; oh, I hope so, Father!" she said. "The doctor told me."

Stephen Hopkins led her into the house; Dame Eliza met her within.

"Constance? Connie?" Thus Mistress Hopkins implored her to do her best,
and to allow her to hope.

"Yes, yes, Mother," Constance replied to the prayer, and neither noted
that they spoke to each other by names that they had never used before.

The first glimpse that Constance had of Damaris on the bed sent all the
blood back against her heart with a pang that made her feel faint. It
did not seem possible that she was in time, even should her knowledge be
correct.

The child lay rigid as Constance's eyes fell on her; her lips and cheeks
were ghastly, her long hair heightening the awful effect of her deathly
colour. Frequent convulsions shook her body, her struggling breathing
alone broke the stillness of the room.

"She is quieter, but it is not that she is better," whispered Dame
Eliza.

Priscilla Alden stood ready with a spoon and glass in one hand, water in
a small ewer in the other, always the efficient, sensible girl when
needed.

Constance accepted the glass, took from it the spoon, gave the glass
back to Priscilla and poured from the dark phial into the spoon the dose
of belladonna that Doctor Fuller had explained to her would be proper to
use in an extreme case of danger.

"How wonderful that he should have told me particularly about toadstool
poisoning, yet it is because of the children," Constance's dual mind was
saying to her, even while she poured the remedy and prayed with all her
might for its efficacy.

"Open her mouth," she said to her father, and he obeyed her. Constance
poured the belladonna down Damaris's throat.

Even after the first dose the child's rigor relaxed before a long time
had passed. The dose was repeated; the early dusk of the grayest month
closed down upon the watchers in that room. The neighbours slipped away
to their own homes and duties; night fell, and Stephen Hopkins, his
wife, Giles, and Constance stood around that bed, feeling no want of
food, watching, watching the gradual cessation of the wracking
convulsions, the relaxation of the stiffened little limbs, the fall of
the strained eyelids, the quieter breathing, the changing tint of the
skin as the poison loosed its grip upon the poor little heart and the
blood began to course languidly, but duly, through the congested veins.

"Constance, she is safe!" Stephen Hopkins ventured at last to say as
Damaris turned on her side with a long, refreshing breath.

Giles went quickly from the room, and Constance turned to her father
with sudden weakness that made her faint.

Constance swayed as she stood and her father caught her in his arms,
tenderly drawing her head down on his shoulder, as great rending sobs
shook her from relief and the accumulated exhaustion of hunger, physical
weariness, anxiety, and grief.

"Brave little lass!" Stephen Hopkins whispered, kissing her again and
again. "Brave, quick-witted, loving, wise little lass o' mine!"

Dame Eliza spoke never a word, but on her knees, with her head buried in
the bright patch bedspread, one of Damaris's cold little hands laid
across her lips, she wept as Constance had never dreamed that her
stepmother could weep.

"Better look after her, Father," Constance whispered, alarmed. "She will
do herself a mischief, poor soul! Mother, oh--she loves me not! Father,
comfort her; I will rest, and then I shall be my old self."

"You did not notice that Priscilla had come back," her father said. "She
is in the kitchen, and the kettle is singing on the hob. Go, dear one,
and Priscilla will give you food and warm drink. Let me help you there.
My Constance, Damaris would be far beyond our love by now had you not
saved her. You have saved her life, Constance! What do we not all owe to
you?"

"It was Doctor Fuller. He taught me. He is wise, and knew that children
might take harm from toadstools, playing in the woods as ours do. It was
not due to me that Damaris was saved," Constance said.

She was not conscious of how heavily she leaned on her father's arm,
which lovingly enfolded her, leading her to the big chair in the
inglenook. The fire leaped and crackled; the steam from the singing
kettle on the crane showed rosy red in the firelight; Hecate, Puck, and
Lady Fair basked in the warmth, and Priscilla Alden knelt on the hearth
stirring something savoury in the saucepan that sat among the raked-off
ashes, while John Alden, who had brought Priscilla back to be useful to
the worn-out household, sat on the settle, leaning forward, elbows on
knees, the bellows between his hands, ready to pump up wind under a
flame that might show a sign of flagging.

"Dear me, how cosy it looks!" exclaimed Constance, involuntarily, her
drooping muscles tautening to welcome the brightness waiting for her.
"It does not seem as though there ever could come a sorrow to threaten a
hearthstone so shut in, so well tended as this one!"

"It did not come, my dear; it only looked in at the window, and when it
saw the tended hearth, and how well-armed you were to grapple with it,
off it went!" cried Priscilla, drawing Constance into the high-backed
chair. "Feet on this stool, my pretty, and this napery over your knees!
That's right! Now this bowl and spoon, and then your Pris will pour her
hot posset into your bowl, and you must shift it into your sweet mouth,
and we'll be as right as a trivet, instanter!"

Priscilla acted as she chattered, and Constance gladly submitted to
being taken care of, lying back smiling in weary, happy acquiescence.

Priscilla's posset was a heartening thing, and Constance after it,
munched blissfully on a biscuit and sipped the wine that had been made
of elder too brief a time before, yet which was friendly to her,
nevertheless.

Constance's lids drooped in the warmth, her head nodded, her fingers
relaxed. Priscilla caught her glass just in time as it was falling, and
Constance slept beside the fire while John and Priscilla crept away, and
Giles came to take their place, to keep up the blaze in case a kettle of
hot water might be needed when Damaris wakened from her first restoring
sleep.

At dawn Doctor Fuller came in and Constance aroused to welcome him.

"Child, what an experience you have borne!" the good man said, bending
with a moved face to greet Constance. "To think that I should have been
absent! Your practice was more successful than mine; the squaw is dead.
And you remembered my teaching, and saved the child with the nightshade
we gathered and distilled that fair day, more than two months ago! 'Twas
a lesson well conned!"

"'Twas a lesson well taught," Constance amended. "Sit here, Doctor
Fuller, and let me call my father. You will see Damaris? And her mother
is in need of a quieting draught, I think. The poor soul was utterly
spent when last I saw her, though I've selfishly slept, nor known aught
of what any one else might be bearing."

Constance slipped softly through the door as she spoke, into the bedroom
where Damaris lay. The little girl was sleeping, but her mother lay
across her feet, her gloomy eyes staring at the wall, her face white and
mournful.

"Doctor Fuller is come, Stepmother," whispered Constance. "Shall he not
see Damaris? And you, have you not slept?"

"Not a wink," said Dame Eliza, rising heavily. "To me it is as if
Damaris had died, and that that child there was another. I bore the
agony of parting from her, and now must abide by it, meseems, for I
cannot believe that she is here and safe. Constance, it is to you----."
She stopped and began again. "I was ever fond of calling you your
father's daughter, making plain that I had no part in you. It was true;
none have I, nor ever can have. But in my child you have the right of
sister, and the restorer of her life. Damaris's mother, and Damaris is
your father's other daughter, is heavily in your debt. I do not
know----." She paused. She had spoken slowly, with difficulty, as if she
could not find the words, nor use them as she wished to when she had
found them. Young as she was, Constance saw that her stepmother was
labouring under the stress of profound emotion, that tore her almost
like a physical agony.

"Now, now, prithee, Mistress Hopkins!" cried Constance, purposely using
her customary title for her stepmother, to avoid the effect of there
being anything out of the ordinary between them. "Bethink thee that I
have loved Damaris dearly all her short life, and that her loss would
have wounded me hardly less than it would have you. What debt can there
be where there is love? Would I not have sacrificed anything to keep the
child, even for myself? And what have I done but remember what the
doctor taught me, and give her drops? Do not, I pray thee, make of my
selfishness and natural affection a matter of merit! And now the doctor
is waiting. Will you not go to him and let him treat you, too?--for
indeed you need it. And he will tell you how best to bring Damaris back
to her strength. I am going out into the morning air, for my long sleep
by the hot fire hath made me heavy. I will be back in a short time to
help with breakfast, Stepmother!"

Constance snatched her cloak and ran out by the other door to escape
seeing the doctor again and hearing her stepmother dilate to him upon
the night's events.

The sun was rising, resplendent, but the air was cold.

"And no wonder!" Constance thought, startled by her discovery. "Winter
is upon us; to-day is December! Our warmth must leave us, and then will
danger of poisoning be past, even in sheltered spots, such as that in
which our little lass near found her death!"

She spread her arms out to the sun rays, and let the crisp, sea wind
cool her face.

"What a world! What a world! How fair, how glad, how sweet! Oh, thank
God that it is so to us all this morning! Never will I repine at
hardships in kind Plymouth colony, nor at the cost of coming on this
pilgrimage, for of all the world in Merry England there is none to-day
happier or more grateful than is this pilgrim maid!"



CHAPTER XVIII

Christmas Wins, Though Outlawed


Little Damaris, who had so nearly made the last great pilgrimage upon
which we must all go, having turned her face once more toward the world
she had been quitting, resumed her place in it but languidly. Never a
robust child, her slender strength was impaired by the poison which she
had absorbed. Added to this was the sudden coming of winter upon
Plymouth, not well prepared to resist it, and it set in with violence,
as if to atone for dallying on its way, for allowing summer to overlap
its domain. Without a word to each other both Dame Eliza and Constance
entered into an alliance of self-denial, doing without part of the more
nourishing food out of their scanty allowance to give it to Damaris, and
to plot in other ways to bring her back to health.

Constance scarcely knew her stepmother. Silent, where she had been prone
to talk; patient, where she had been easily vexed; with something almost
deprecatory in her manner where she always had been self-assertive, Dame
Eliza went about her round of work like a person whom her husband's
daughter had never known.

Toward Constance most of all was she changed. Never by the most remote
implication did she blame her, whereas heretofore everything that the
girl did was wrong, and the subject of wearisome, scolding comment. She
avoided unnecessary speech to Constance, seemed even to try not to look
at her, but this without the effect of her old-time dislike; it was
rather as if she felt humiliated before her, and could not bring herself
to meet the girl's eyes.

Constance, as she realized this, began to make little overtures toward
her stepmother. Her sweetness of nature made her suffer discomfort when
another was ill-at-ease, but so far her cautious attempts had met with
failure.

"We have been in Plymouth a year, lacking but a sen' Night, Stepmother,"
Constance said one December day when the snow lay white on Plymouth and
still thickened the air and veiled the sky. "And we have been in the New
World past a year."

"It is ordered that we remember it in special prayer and psalmody to the
Lord, with thanksgiving on the anniversary of our landing; you heard
that, Constantia?" her stepmother responded.

"No, but that would be seemly, a natural course to follow," said
Constance.

"There is not one of us who is not reliving the voyage hither and the
hard winter of a year ago, I'll warrant. And Christmas is nearing."

"That is a word that may not be uttered here," said Dame Eliza with a
gleam of humour in her eyes, though she did not lift them, and a
flitting smile across her somewhat grimly set lips.

"Oh, can it be harmful to keep the day on which, veiled in an infant's
form, man first saw his redemption?" cried Constance. "There were
sweetness and holiness in Christmas-keeping, meseems. If only we could
cut out less violently! Stepmother, will you let me have my way?"

"Your way is not in my guidance, Constantia," said Dame Eliza. "It is
for your father to grant you, or refuse you; not me."

"This is beyond my father's province," laughed Constance. "Will you let
me make a doll--I have my box of paints, and you know that a gift for
using paints and for painting human faces is mine. I will make a doll of
white rags and dress her in our prettiest coloured ones, with fastenings
upon her clothes, so that they may be taken off and changed, else would
she be a trial to her little mother! And then I will paint her face with
my best skill, big blue eyes, curling golden hair, rose-red cheeks and
lips, and a fine, straight little nose. Oh, she shall be a lovely
creature, upon my honour! And will you let me give her to Damaris on
Christmas morning, saying naught of it to any one outside this house, so
no one shall rebuke us, or fine my father again for letting his child
have a Christmas baby, as they fined him for letting Ted and Ned play at
a harmless game? Then I shall know that there is one happy child on the
birthday of Him who was born that all children, of all ages, should be
happy, and that it will be, of all the possible little ones, our dear
little lass who is thus full of joy!"

Mistress Hopkins did not reply for a moment. Then she raised the corner
of her apron and wiped her eyes, muttering something about "strong
mustard."

"How fond you are of my little Damaris," she then said. "You know,
Constantia, that I have no right to consent to your keeping Christmas,
since our elders have set their faces dead against all practices of the
Old Church. Yet are your reasons for wishing to do this, or so it seems
to me in my ignorance, such as Heaven would approve, and it sorely is
borne upon me that many worser sins may be wrought in Plymouth than
making a delicate child happy on the birthday of the Lord. Go, then, and
make your puppet, but do not tell any one that you first consulted me.
If trouble comes of it they will blame you less, who are young and not
so long removed from the age of dolls, than me, who am one of the
Mothers in Israel."

"Oh, thank you, thank you, Stepmother!" cried Constance jumping up and
clapping her hands with greater delight than if she had herself received
a Christmas gift.

"I'll never betray you, never! None shall know that any but my wicked,
light-minded self had a hand in this profanation of----. What does it
profane, Stepmother?"

"Plymouth and Plymouth pilgrimage," said Dame Eliza, and this time the
smile that she had checked before had its way.

Constance ran upstairs to look for the pieces which were to be
transformed by fairy magic, through her means, from shapeless rags to a
fair and rosy daughter for pale Damaris. She remembered, wondering, as
she knelt before her chest, that she had clapped her hands and pranced,
and that Dame Eliza had not reproved her.

Constance was busy with her doll till Christmas morning, the more so
that she must hide it from Damaris and there was not warmth anywhere to
sit and sew except in the great living room where Damaris amused Oceanus
most of the darksome days. But Damaris's mother connived with Constance
to divert the child, and there were long evenings, for, to give
Constance more time, Dame Eliza put Damaris early to bed, and Constance
sat late at her sewing.

Thus when Christmas day came there sat on the hearth, propped up against
the back of Stephen Hopkins's big volume of Shakespeare, a doll with a
painted face that had real claim to prettiness. She wore a gown of
sprigged muslin that hung so full around the pointed stomacher of her
waist that it was a scandal to sober Plymouth, and a dangerous example
to Damaris, had she been inclined to vain light-mindedness. And--though
this was a surprise also to Dame Eliza--there was a horse of brown
woollen stuff, with a tail of fine-cut rags and a mane of ravelled rags,
and legs which, though considerably curved as to shape and unreliable as
to action, were undeniably legs, and four in number. There were bright,
black buttons on the steed's head suggestive of eyes, and the red paint
in two spots below them were all the fiery nostrils the animal required.
This was Giles's contribution to the joy of his ailing baby brother.
Oceanus was a frail child whose grasp on life had been taken at a time
too severe for him to hold it long, nor indeed did he.

"Come out and wander down the street, Con," Giles whispered to Constance
under the cover of the shouts of the two children who had come
downstairs to find the marvellous treasures, the doll and horse,
awaiting them, and who went half mad with joy, just like modern children
in old Plymouth, as if they had not been little pilgrims.

"There will be amusement for thee; come out, but never say I bade you
come. You can make an errand."

"Oh, Giles, you are not plotting mischief?" Constance implored, seeing
the fun in her brother's eyes and fearing an attempt at Christmas
fooling.

"No harm afoot, but we hope a little laughter," said Giles, nodding
mysteriously as he left the house.

Constance could not resist her curiosity. She wrapped herself in her
cloak against the cold and tied a scarf over her hair, before drawing
its hood over her head.

"You look like a witch, like a sweet, lovely witch," cried Damaris,
getting up from her knees on which she had seemed, and not unjustly, to
be worshipping her doll, whom she had at once christened Connie, and
running over to hug her sister, breathless. "Are you a witch, Constance,
and made my Connie by magic? No, a fairy! A fairy you are! My fairy,
darling, lovely sister!"

"Be grateful to Constantia, as you should be, Damaris, but prate not of
fairies. I will not let go undone all my duty as a Puritan and pilgrim
mother. Constantia is a kind sister to you, which is better, than a
fairy falsehood," said Dame Eliza, rallying something of her old spirit.

Constance kissed Damaris and whispered something to her so softly that
all the child caught was "Merry." Yet the lost word was not hard to
guess.

Then Constance went out and down the street, wondering what Giles had
meant. She saw a small group of men before her, near the general
storehouse for supplies, and easily made out that they were the younger
men of the plantation, including those that had come on the _Fortune_,
and that Giles and Francis Billington were to the fore.

Up the street in his decorous raiment, but without additional marking of
the day by his better cloak as on Sunday, came Governor Bradford with
his unhastening pace not quickened, walking with his English thorn stick
that seemed to give him extra, gubernatorial dignity, toward the group.
The younger lads nudged one another, laughing, half afraid, but not
Giles. He stood awaiting the governor as if he faced him for a serious
cause, yet Constance saw that his eyes danced.

"Good morning, my friends," said William Bradford. "Not at work? You are
apportioned to the building of the stockade. It is late to begin your
day, especially that the sun sets early at this season."

"It is because of the season, though not of the sun's setting, that we
are not at work," said Giles, chosen spokesman for this prank by his
fellows, and now getting many nudges lest he neglect his office. "Hast
forgotten, Mr. Bradford, what day this is? It offends our conscience to
work on a day of such high reverence. This be a holy day, and we may not
work without sin, as the inward voice tells us. We waited to explain to
you what looked like idleness, but is rather prompted by high and lofty
principles."

The governor raised his eyebrows and bowed deeply, not without a slight
twitching of his lips, as he heard this unexpected and solemn protest.

"Indeed, Giles Hopkins! And is it so? You have in common with these,
your fellow labourers, a case of scruples to which the balm of the
opinions of your elders and betters, at least in experience and
authority, does not apply? Far be it from me to interfere with your
consciences! We have come to the New World, and braved no slight
adversity for just this cause, that conscience unbridled, undriven,
might guide us in virtue. Disperse, therefore, to your homes, and for
the day let the work of protection wait. I bid you good morning,
gentlemen, and pray you be always such faithful harkeners to the voice
of conscience."

The governor went on, having spoken, and the actors in the farce looked
crestfallen at one another, the point of the jest somewhat blunted by
the governor's complete approval. Indeed there were some among them who
followed the governor. He turned back, hoping for this, and said:

"This is not done to approve of Christmas-keeping but rather to spare
you till you are better informed."

"What will you do, Giles?" asked Constance, as her brother joined her,
Francis also, not in the least one with those who relinquished the idea
of a holiday.

"Do? Why follow our consciences, as we were commended for doing!"
shouted Francis tossing his hat in the air and catching it neatly on his
head in the approved fashion of a mountebank at a fair in England.

"Our consciences bid us play at games on Christmas," supplemented Giles.
"Would you call the girls and watch us? Or we'll play some games that
you can join in, such as catch-catch, or pussy-wants-a-corner."

Constance shook her head. "Giles, be prudent," she warned. "You have
won your first point, but if I know the governor's face there was
something in it that betokened more to come. You know there'll be no
putting up with games on any day here, least of all on this day, which
would be taken as a return to abandoned ways. Yet it is comical!"
Constance added, finding her rôle of mentor irksome when all her youth
cried out for fun.

"Good Con! You are no more ready for unbroken dulness than we are!"
Francis approved her. "Come along, Giles; get the bar for throwing, and
the ball, and who said pitch-and-toss? I have a set of rings I made, I
and--someone else." Francis's face clouded. Pranks had lost much of
their flavour since he lacked Jack.

Seeing this, Giles raced Francis off, and the other conscientious youths
who refused work, streamed after them.

Constance continued her way to the Alden home. She thought that a timely
visit to Priscilla would bring her home at such an hour as to let her
see the end of the morning escapade.

Elizabeth Tilley drifted into Priscilla's kitchen in an aimless way, not
like her usual busy self, although she made the reason for her coming a
recipe which she needed. Soon Desire Minter followed her, asking
Priscilla if she would show her how to cut an apron from a worn-out
skirt, but, like Elizabeth, Desire seemed listless and uncertain.

"There's something wrong!" cried Desire at last, without connection.
"There is a sense of there being Christmas in the world somewhere
to-day, and not here! I am glad that I go back to England as soon as
opportunity offers."

"There is Christmas here, most conscientiously kept!" laughed Constance.
"Hark to the tale of it!" And she told the girls what had happened that
morning.

"Come with me, bear me company home, and we shall, most probably, see
the end of it, for I am sure that the governor is not done with those
lads," she added.

Desire and Elizabeth welcomed the suggestion, for they were, also, about
to go home.

"See yonder!" cried Constance, pointing.

Down the street there was what, in Plymouth, constituted a crowd,
gathered into two bands. With great shouting and noise one band was
throwing a ball, which the other band did its utmost to prevent from
entering a goal toward which the throwers directed it. Alone, one young
man was throwing a heavy bar, taking pride in his muscles which balanced
the bar and threw it a long distance with ease and grace.

"To think that this is Plymouth, with merrymaking in its street on
Christmas day!" exclaimed Desire, her eyes kindling with pleasure.

"Ah, but see the governor is coming, leading back those men who went to
work; he has himself helped to build the stockade. Now we shall see how
he receives this queer idea of a holiday, which is foreign to us, though
it comes from England," said Constance.

Governor Bradford came toward the shouting and mirth-making with his
dignified gait unvaried. The game slackened as he drew nearer, though
some of the players did their best to keep it up at the same pace, not
to seem to dread the governor's disapproval.

Having gained the centre of the players, the governor halted, and looked
from one to another.

"Hand me that ball, and yonder bar, and all other implements of play
which you have here," he said, sternly. "My friends," he added to the
men who had been at work, "take from our idlers their toys."

There was no resistance on the part of the players; they yielded up
bats, ball, and bar, the stool-ball, goal sticks, and all else, without
demur, curious to see what was in the wind.

"Now, young men of Plymouth colony," said Governor Bradford, "this
morning you told me that your consciences forbade you to work on
Christmas day. Although I could not understand properly trained Puritan
consciences going so astray, yet did I admit your plea, not being
willing to force you to do that which there was a slender chance of your
being honest in objecting to, for conscience sake. You have not worked
with your neighbours for half of this day. Now doth my conscience
arouse, nor will it allow me, as governor, to see so many lusty men at
play, while others labour for our mutual benefit. Therefore I forbid the
slightest attempt at game-playing on this day. If your consciences will
not allow you to labour then will mine, though exempting you from work
because of your sense of right, yet not allow you to play while others
work. For the rest of this day, which is called Christmas, but which we
consider but as the twenty-fifth day of this last month of the year, you
will either go to work, or you will remain close within your various
houses, on no account to appear beyond your thresholds. For either this
is a work-a-day afternoon, or else is it holy, which we by no means
admit. In either case play is forbidden you. See to it that you obey me,
or I will deal with you as I am empowered to deal."

The young men looked at one another, some inclined to resent this,
others with a ready sense of humour, burst out laughing; among these
latter was Giles, who cried:

"Fairly caught, Governor Bradford! You have played a Christmas game this
day yourself and have won out at it! For me, as a choice between staying
close within the house and working, I will take to the stockade. By your
leave, then, Governor, I will join you at the work, dinner being over."

"You have my leave, Giles Hopkins," said William Bradford, and there was
a twinkle in his eyes as he turned them, with no smile on his lips, upon
Giles.

Giles went home with Constance in perfect good humour, taking the end of
his mischief in good part.

"For look you," he said, summing up comments upon it to his sister. "I
don't mind encountering defeat by clever outwitting of me. We tried a
scheme and the governor had a better one. What I mind is unfairness;
that was fair, and I like the governor better than I ever did before."

Stephen Hopkins stood in the doorway of the house as the brother and
sister came toward it. He was gazing at the skyline with eyes that saw
nothing near to him, preoccupied, wistful, in a mood that was rare to
him, and never betrayed to others. His eyes came back to earth slowly,
and he looked at Giles and Constance as one looks who has difficulty in
seeing realities, so occupied was he with his thoughts. He put out a
hand and took one of Constance's hands, drawing it up close to his
breast, and he laid his left hand heavily on Giles's shoulder.

"Across that ocean it is Christmas day," he said, slowly. "In England
people are sitting around their hearths mulling ale, roasting apples,
singing old songs and carols. When I was young your mother and I rode
miles across a dim forest, she on her pillion, I guiding a mettlesome
beauty. But she had no fear with my hand on his bridle; we had been
married but since Michaelmas. We went to visit your grandmother, her
mother, Lady Constantia, who was a famous toast in her youth. You are
very like your mother, Constance; I have often told you this. Strange,
that one can inhabit the same body in such different places in a
lifetime; stranger that, still in the same body, he can be such an
altered man! Giles, my son, I have been thinking long thoughts to-day.
There is something that I must say to you as your due; nay something,
rather, that I want to say to you. I have been wrong, my son. I have
loved you so well that a defect in you annoyed me, and I have been hard,
impatient, offending against the charity in judgment that we owe all
men, surely most those who are our nearest and dearest. I accused you
unjustly, and gave you no opportunity to explain. Giles, as man to man,
and as a father who failed you, I beg your pardon."

"Oh, sir! Oh, dear, dear Father!" cried Giles in distress. "It needed
not this! All I ask is your confidence. I have been an arrogant young
upstart, denying you your right to deal with me. It is I who am wrong,
wrongest in that I have never confessed the wrong, and asked your
forgiveness. Surely it is for me to beg your pardon; not you mine!"

"At least a good example is your due from me," said Stephen Hopkins,
with a smile of wistful tenderness. "We are all upstarts, Giles lad,
denying that we should receive correction, and this from a Greater than
I. The least that we can do is to be willing to acknowledge our errors.
With all my heart I forgive you, lad, and I ask you to try to love me,
and let there be the perfect loving comradeship between us that, it hath
seemed, we had left behind us on the other shore, just when it was most
needed to sustain us in our venture on this one. You loved me well,
Giles, as a child; love me as well as you can as a man."

Giles caught his father's hand in both of his, and was not ashamed that
tears were streaming down his cheeks.

"Father, I never loved you till to-day!" he cried. "You have taught me
true greatness, and--and--Oh, indeed I love and honour you, dear sir!"

"The day of good will, and of peace to it! And of love that triumphs
over wrongs," said Stephen Hopkins, turning toward the house, and
whimsically touching with his finger-tips the happy tears that quivered
on Constance's lashes.

"We cannot keep it out of Plymouth colony, however we strive to erect
barriers against the feast; Christmas wins, though outlawed!"

      "God rest ye merry, gentlemen;
    Let nothing you dismay,"

Constance carolled as she hung up her cloak, her heart leaping in
rapture of gratitude. Nor did Dame Eliza reprove her carol, but half
smiled as Oceanus crowed and beat a pan wildly with his Christmas horse.



CHAPTER XIX

A Fault Confessed, Thereby Redressed


As the winter wore away, that second winter in Plymouth colony that
proved so hard to endure, the new state of things in the Hopkins
household continued. Constance could not understand her stepmother.
Though the long habit of a lifetime could not be at once entirely
abandoned, yet Dame Eliza scolded far less, and toward Constance herself
maintained an attitude that was far from fault-finding. Indeed she
managed to combine something like regretful deference that was not
unlike liking, with a rigid keeping of her distance from the girl.
Constance wondered what had come over Mistress Hopkins, but she was too
thankful for the peace she enjoyed to disturb it by the least attempt to
bridge the distance that Dame Eliza had established between them.

Her father and Giles were a daily delight to Constance. The comradeship
that they had been so happy in when Giles was a child was theirs again,
increased and deepened by the understanding that years had enabled Giles
and his father to share as one man with another. And added to that was
wistful affection, as if the older man and the younger one longed to
make up by strength of love for the wasted days when all had not been
right between them.

Constance watched them together with gladness shining upon her face.
Dame Eliza also watched them, but with an expression that Constance
could not construe. Certain it was that her stepmother was not happy,
not sure of herself, as she had always been.

Oceanus was not well; he did not grow strong and rosy as did the other
_Mayflower_ baby, Peregrine White, though Oceanus was by this time
walking and talking--a tall, thin, reed-like little baby, fashioned not
unlike the long grasses that grew on Plymouth harbour shore. But Damaris
had come back to health. She was Constance's charge; her mother yielded
her to Constance and devoted herself to the baby, as if she had a
presentiment of how brief a time she was to keep him.

It was a cruelly hard winter; except that there was not a second
epidemic of mortal disease it was harder to the exiles than the first
winter in Plymouth.

Hunger was upon them, not for a day, a week, or a month, but hourly and
on all the days that rose and set upon the lonely little village,
encompassed by nothing kinder than reaches of marsh, sand, and barrens
that ended in forest; the monotonous sea that moaned against their coast
and separated them from food and kin; and the winter sky that often
smiled on them sunnily, it is true, but oftener was coldly gray, or
hurling upon them bleak winds and driving snows.

From England had come on the _Fortune_ more settlers to feed, but no
food for them. Plymouth people were hungry, but they faithfully divided
their scarcity with the new-comers and hoped that in the spring Mr.
Weston, the agent in England who had promised them the greatest help and
assured them of the liveliest interest in this heroic venture, would
send them at least a fraction of the much he had pledged to its
assistance.

So when the spring, that second spring, came in and brought a small ship
there was the greatest excitement of hope in her coming. But all she
brought was letters, and seven more passengers to consume the food
already so shortened, but not an ounce of addition to the supplies. One
letter was from Mr. Weston, filled with fair words, but so discouraging
in its smooth avoidance of actual help that Governor Bradford dared not
make its contents known, lest it should discourage the people, already
sufficiently downhearted, and with more than enough reason to be so.
There was a letter on this ship for Constance from Humility, and
Governor Bradford beckoned to John Howland, standing near and said to
him:

"Take this letter up to Mistress Constantia Hopkins, and ask her father
to come to me, if it please him. Say to him that I wish to consult him."

"I will willingly do your bidding, Mr. Bradford," said John Howland,
accepting the letter which the governor held out to him and turning it
to see in all lights its yellowed folder and the seal thrice impressed
along its edge to insure that none other than she whose name appeared
written in a fine, running hand on the obverse side, should first read
the letter. "In fact I have long contemplated a visit to Mistress
Constantia. It hath seemed to me that Stephen Hopkins's daughter was
growing a woman and a comely woman. She is not so grave as I would want
her to be, but allowance must be made for her youth, and her father is
not so completely, nor profoundly set free from worldliness as are our
truer saints; witness the affair of the shovelboard. But Constantia
Hopkins, under the control and obedience of a righteous man, may be
worthy of his hand."

"Say you so!" exclaimed William Bradford, half amused, half annoyed, and
wondering what his quick-tempered but honoured friend Stephen would say
to this from John Howland--he who had a justifiable pride in his
honourable descent and who held no mere man equal to his Constance, the
apple of his eye. "I had not a suspicion that you were turning over in
your mind thoughts of this nature. I would advise you to consult Mr.
Hopkins before you let them take too strong hold upon your desire. But
in as far as my errand runneth with your purpose to further your
acquaintance with the maiden, in so far I will help you, good John, for
I am anxious that Mr. Hopkins shall know as soon as possible what news
the ship hath brought. Stay; here is another letter; for Mistress Eliza
Hopkins this time. Take that, also, if you will and bid Mr. Hopkins
hither."

John Howland, missing entirely the hint of warning in the governor's
voice and manner, took the two letters and went his way.

He found Stephen Hopkins at his house, planning the planting of a garden
with his son.

"I will go at once; come thou with me, Giles. It sounds like ill news, I
fear me, that hint of wishing to consult me. Somehow it seems that as
'good wine needs no bush,' for which we have Shakespeare's authority, so
good news needs little advice, or rarely seeks it, for its dealing."

So saying Stephen Hopkins, straightening himself with a hand on his
stiffened side went into the house, and, taking his hat, went
immediately out of it again, with Giles. John Howland followed them into
the house, but not out of it. Instead, he seated himself, unbidden, upon
the fireside settle, and awaited their departure.

Then he produced his two letters, and offered one to Constance.

"I have brought you this, Mistress Constantia," he said, ponderously,
"at the request of the governor, but no less have I brought it because
it pleaseth me to do you a service, as I hope to do you many, even to
the greatest, in time to come."

"Thank you, John," said innocent Constance, having no idea of the
weighty meaning underlying this statement, indeed scarce hearing it,
being eager to get the letter which he held. "Oh, from Humility! It is
from Humility! Look, little Damaris, a letter from England, writ by
Humility Cooper! The _Fortune_ is safely in port, then! Come, my cosset,
and I will read you what Humility hath to tell us of her voyage, of
home, and all else! First of all shall you and I hear this: then we will
hasten to Priscilla Alden and read it to her new little daughter, for
she hath been so short a time in Plymouth that she must long for news
from across the sea, do you not say so?"

Damaris giggled in enjoyment of Constance's nonsense, which the serious
little thing never failed to enter into and to enjoy, as unplayful
people always enjoy those who can frolic. The big sister ran away, with
the smaller one clinging to her skirt, and with never a backward glance
nor thought for John Howland, meditating a great opportunity for
Constance, as he sat on the fireside settle.

"Mistress Hopkins, this is your letter," said John, completing his
errand when Constance was out of sight.

He offered Dame Eliza her letter. She looked at it and thrust it into
her pocket with such a heightened colour and distressed look that even
John Howland's preoccupation took note of it.

"This present hour seems to be an opportunity that is a leading, and I
will follow this leading, Mistress Hopkins, by your leave," John said.
"It cannot be by chance that all obstacles to plain speaking to you are
removed. I had thought first to speak to Stephen Hopkins, or perhaps to
Constantia herself, but I see that it is better to engage a woman's good
offices."

Dame Eliza frowned at him, darkly; she was in no mood for dallying, and
this preamble had a sound that she did not like.

"Good offices for what? My good offices? Why?" she snapped. "Why should
you speak to Mr. Hopkins, with whose Christian name better men than you
in this colony make less free? And still more I would know why you
should speak either first or last to Mistress Constantia? That hath a
sound that I do not like, John Howland!"

John Howland stared at her, aghast, a moment, then he said:

"It is my intent, Mistress Eliza Hopkins, to offer to wed Mistress
Constantia, and that cannot mislike you. Young though she be, and
somewhat frivolous, yet do I hope much for her from marriage with a
godly man, and I find her comely to look upon. Therefore----"

"Therefore!" cried Dame Eliza who seemed to have lost her breath for a
moment in sheer angry amazement. "Therefore you would make a fool of
yourself, had not it been done for you at your birth! Art completely a
numbskull, John Howland, that you speak as though it was a favour, and
a matter for you to weigh heavily before coming to it, that you might
make Stephen Hopkins's daughter your wife? Put the uneasiness that it
gives you as to her light-mindedness out of your thoughts, nor dwell
over-much upon her comeliness, for your own good! Comely is she, and a
rare beauty, to give her partly her due. And what is more, is she a
sweet and noble lass, graced with wit and goodness that far exceed your
knowledge; not even her father can know as I do, with half my sore
reason, her patience, her charity, her unfailing generosity to give, or
to forgive. Marry Constance, forsooth! Why, man, there is not a man in
this Plymouth settlement worthy of her latchets, nor in all England is
there one too good for her, if half good enough! Your eyes will be awry
and for ever weak from looking so high for your mate. But that you are
the veriest ninny afoot I would deal with you, John Howland, for your
impudence! Learn your place, man, and never let your conceit so run away
with you that you dare to speak as if you were hesitant as to Mr.
Hopkins's daughter to be your wife! Zounds! John, get out of my sight
lest I be tempted to take my broom and clout ye! Constance Hopkins and
you, forsooth! Oh, be gone, I tell ye! She's the pick and flower of
maidens, in Plymouth or England, or where you will!"

John Howland rose, slowly, stiffly, angry, but also ashamed, for he had
not spirit, and he felt that he had stepped beyond bounds in aspiring
to Constance since Dame Eliza with such vehemence set it before him.
Then, too, it were a strong man who could emerge unscathed from an
inundation of Dame Eliza's wrath.

"I meant no harm, Mistress," he said, awkwardly. "No harm is done, for
the maid herself knows naught of it, nor any one save the governor, and
he but a hint. Let be no ill will between us for this. I suppose, since
Mistress Constantia is not for me, I must e'en marry whom I can, and I
think I must marry Elizabeth Tilley."

"What does it matter to me who you marry?" said Dame Eliza, turning away
with sudden weariness. "It's no concern of mine, beyond the point I've
settled for good and all."

John Howland went away. After he had gone Constance came around the
house and entered by the rear door. Her eyes were full of moisture from
suppressed laughter, yet her lips were tremulous and her eyes, dewy
though they were, shone with happiness.

"Hast heard?" demanded Dame Eliza.

"I could not help it," said Constance. "I left Damaris at Priscilla's
and ran back to ask you, for Priscilla, to lend her the pattern of the
long wrapping cloak that you made for our baby when he was tiny. Pris's
baby seems cold, she thinks. And as I entered I heard John. I near died
of laughing! I had thought a lover always felt his beloved to be so
fair and fine that he scarce dared look at her! Not so John! But after
all, it is less that I am John's beloved than his careful--and doubtful
choice. But for the rest, Mistress Hopkins--Stepmother--might I call you
Mother?--what shall I say? I am ashamed, grateful but ashamed, that you
praise me so! Yet how glad I am, never can I find words to tell you. I
thought that you hated me, and it hath grieved me, for love is the air I
breathe, and without it I shrivel up from chill and suffocation! I would
that I could thank you, tell you----." Constance stopped.

The expression on Dame Eliza's face, wholly beyond her understanding,
silenced her.

"You have thanked me," Dame Eliza said. "Damaris is alive only through
you. However you love her, yet her life is her mother's debt to you.
Much, much more do I owe you, Constantia Hopkins, and none knows it
better than myself. Let be. Words are poor. There is something yet to be
done. After it you may thank me, or deny me as you will, but between us
there will be a new beginning, its shaping shall be as you will. Till
that is done which I must do, let there be no more talk between us."

Puzzled, but impressed by her stepmother's manner and manifest distress,
Constance acquiesced. It was not many days before she understood.

The people of Plymouth were summoned to a meeting at Elder William
Brewster's house. It was generally understood that something of the
nature of a court of justice, and at the same time of a religious
character was to take place. Everyone came, drawn by curiosity and the
dearth of interesting public events.

Stephen Hopkins, Giles, and Constance came, the two little children with
them, because there was no one at home to look after them. Not the least
suspicion of what they were to hear entered the mind of these three, or
it might never have been heard.

Elder Brewster, William Bradford, Edward Winslow sat in utmost gravity
at the end of the room. It crossed Stephen Hopkins's mind to wonder a
little at his exclusion from this tribunal, for it had the effect of a
tribunal, but it was only a passing thought, and instantly it was
answered.

Dame Eliza Hopkins entered the room, with Mistress Brewster, and seated
herself before the three heads of the colony.

"My brethren," said William Brewster, rising, "it hath been said on
Authority which one may not dispute that a broken and contrite heart
will not be despised. You have been called together this night for what
purpose none but my colleagues and myself knew. It is to harken to the
public acknowledgment of a grave fault, and by your hearing of a public
confession to lend your part to the wiping out of this sin, which is
surely forgiven, being repented of, yet which is thus atoned for. We
have vainly endeavoured to persuade the person thus coming before you
that this course was not necessary; since her fault affected no one but
her family, to them alone need confession be made. As she insisted upon
this course, needs must we consent to it. Dame Eliza Hopkins, we are
ready to harken to you."

He sat down, and Dame Eliza, rising, came forward. Stephen Hopkins's
face was a study, and Giles and Constance, crimson with distress, looked
appealingly at their father, but the situation was beyond his control.

"Friends, neighbours, fellow pilgrims," began Dame Eliza, manifestly in
real agony of shamed distress, yet half enjoying herself, through her
love for drama and excitement, "I am a sinner. I cannot continue in your
membership unless you know the truth, and admit me thereto. My anger, my
wicked jealousy hath persecuted the innocent children of my husband,
they whose mother died and whose place I should have tried in some
measure to make good. But at all times, and in all ways have I used them
ill, not with blows upon the body, but upon their hearts. Jealousy was
my temptation, and I yielded to it. But, not content with sharp and
cruel words, I did plot against them to turn their father from them,
especially from his son, because I wanted for my son the inheritance in
England which Stephen Hopkins hath power to distribute. I succeeded in
sowing discord between the father and Giles, but not between my husband
and his daughter. At last I used a signature which fell into my hands,
and by forwarding it to England, set in train actions before the law
which would defraud Giles Hopkins and benefit my own son. By the ship
that lately came into our harbour I received a letter, sent to me by the
governor, by the hand of John Howland, promising me success in my wicked
endeavour. My brethren, my heart is sick unto death within me.
Thankfully I say that all estrangement is past between Giles Hopkins and
his father. In that my wicked success at the beginning was foiled. While
I was doing these things against the children, Constantia Hopkins, by
her sweetness, her goodness, her devotion, without a tinge of grudging,
to her little half-sister and brother, and at last her saving of my
child's life when no help but hers was near and the child was dying
before me, hath broken my hard heart; and in slaying me--for I have died
to my old self under it--hath made me to live. Therefore I publicly
acknowledge my sin, and bid you, my fellow pilgrims, deal with me as you
see fit, neither asking for mercy, nor in any wise claiming it as my
desert."

Stephen Hopkins had bent forward, his elbows on his knees, hiding his
face in his hands. Giles stared straight before him, his brow dark red,
frowning till his face was drawn out of likeness to itself, his nether
lip held tight in his teeth.

Poor Constance hid her misery in Oceanus's breast, holding the baby
close up against her so that no one could see her face. Little Damaris,
pale and quiet, too frightened to move or fully to breathe, clutched
Constance's arm, not understanding what was going forward, but knowing
that whatever it was it distressed everyone that constituted her little
world, and suffering under this knowledge.

"My friends," Elder Brewster resumed his office, "you have heard what
Mistress Hopkins hath spoken. It is not for us to deny pardon to her.
She hath done all, and more than was required of her, in publicly
confessing her wrong. Let us take her by the hand, and let us pray that
she may live long to shed peace and joy upon the young people whom she
hath wronged, and might have wronged further, had not repentance found
her."

One by one these severely stern people of Plymouth arose and, passing
before Mistress Hopkins, took her hand, and said:

"Sister, we rejoice with you." Or some said: "Be of good consolation,
and Heaven's blessing be upon you." A few merely shook her hand and
passed on.

Before many had thus filed past, Myles Standish leaped to his feet and
cried: "Stephen, Stephen Hopkins, come! There's a wild cat somewhere!"

Stephen Hopkins went out after him, thankful to escape.

"Poor old comrade," said Captain Standish, putting his hand on the
other's shoulder. "If only good and sincere people would consider what
these scenes, which relieve their nerves, cost others! There is a wild
cat somewhere; I did not lie for thee, Stephen, but in good sooth I've
no mortal idea where it may be!"

He laughed, and Stephen Hopkins smiled. "You are a good comrade, Myles,
and we are as like as two peas in a pod. Certes, we find this Plymouth
pod tight quarters, do we not, at least at times? I've no liking for
airing private grievances in public: to my mind they belong between us
and the Lord!--but plainly my wife sees this as the right way. What
think you, Myles? Is it going to be better henceforward?" he said.

"No doubt of that, no doubt whatever," asserted Myles, positively. "And
my pet Con is the chief instrument of Dame Eliza's change of heart!
Well, to speak openly, Stephen, I did not give thy wife credit for so
much sense! Constance is sweet, and fair, and winsome enough to bring
any one to her--his!--senses. Or drive him out of them! Better times
are in store for thee, Stephen, old friend, and I am heartily thankful
for it. So, now; take your family home, and do not mind the talk of
Plymouth. For a few days they will discuss thee, thy wife, thy son, and
thy daughter, but it will not be without praise for thee, and it will be
a strange thing if Giles and I cannot stir up another event that will
turn their attention from thee before thy patience quite gives out."

Myles Standish laughed, and clapped his hand on his friend's shoulder by
way of encouragement to him to face what any man, and especially a man
of his sort, must dread to face--the comments and talk of his small
world.

The Hopkins family went home in silence, Stephen Hopkins gently leading
his wife by her arm, for she was exhausted by the strain of her
emotions.

Giles and Constance, walking behind them with the children, were
thinking hard, going back in their minds to their early childhood, to
the beautiful old mansion which both remembered dimly, to the
Warwickshire cousins, to their embittered days since their stepmother
had reigned over them, and now this marvellous change in her, this
strange acknowledgment from her before everyone--_their_ every-one--of
wrong done, and greater wrong attempted and abandoned. They both shrank
from the days to come, feeling that they could not treat their
stepmother as they had done, yet still less could they come nearer to
her, as would be their duty after this, without embarrassment. Giles
went at once to his room to postpone the evil hour, but Constance could
not escape it.

She unfastened Damaris's cloak, trying to chatter to the child in her
old way, and she glanced up at her stepmother, as she knelt before
Damaris, to invite her to share their smiles. Dame Eliza was watching
her with longing that was almost fear. "Constance," she said in a low
voice. "Constance----?" She paused, extending her hands.

Constance sprang up, forgetful of embarrassment, forgetful of old
wrongs, remembering only to pity and to forgive, like the sweet girl
that she was.

"Ah, Mother, never mind! Love me now, and never mind that once you did
not!" she cried.

Dame Eliza leaned to her and kissed her cheek.

"Dear lass," she murmured, "how could I grudge thee thy father's love,
since needs must one love thee who knows thee?"



CHAPTER XX

The Third Summer's Garnered Yield


Side by side now, through the weary days of another year, Constance
Hopkins and her stepmother bore and vanquished the cruel difficulties
which those days brought.

Dame Eliza had been sincere in her contrition as was proved by the one
test of sincerity--her actions bore out her words.

Toward Giles she held herself kindly, yet never showed him affection.
But toward Constance her manner was what might be called eagerly
affectionate, as if she so longed to prove her love for the girl that
the limitations of speech and opportunity left her unsatisfied of
expression.

Hunger was the portion of everyone in Plymouth; conditions had grown
harder with longer abiding there, except in the one--though that was
important--matter of the frightful epidemic of the first winter.

In spite of want Constance grew lovelier as she grew older. She was now
a full-grown woman, tall with the slenderness of early youth. Her scant
rations did not give her the gaunt look that most of the pilgrims, even
the young ones, wore as they went on working hard and eating little.
Instead, it etherealized and spiritualized Constance's beauty. Under her
wonderful eyes, with their far-off look of a dreamer warmed and
corrected by the light in them of love and sacrifice, were shadows that
increased their brilliance. The pallor that had replaced the wild-rose
colour in her cheeks did not lessen the exquisite fairness of her skin,
and it set in sharp contrast to it the redness of her lips and
emphasized their sweetness.

Dame Eliza watched her with a sort of awe, and Damaris was growing old
enough to offer to her sister's beauty the admiration that was apart
from her adoring love for that sister.

"Connie would set London afire, Stephen Hopkins," said Dame Eliza to her
husband one day. "Why not send her over to her cousins in Warwickshire,
to your first wife's noble kindred, and let her come into her own? It
seems a sinful thing to keep her here to fade and wane where no eye can
see her."

"This from you, Eliza!" cried Stephen Hopkins, honestly surprised, but
feigning to be shocked. "Nay but you and I have changed rôles! Never was
I the Puritan you are, yet have I seen enough of the world to know that
it hath little to offer my girl by way of peace and happiness, though it
kneel before her offering her adulation on its salvers. Constance is
safer here, and Plymouth needs her; she can give here, which is in very
truth better than receiving; especially to receive the heartaches that
the great world would be like to give one so lovely to attract its eye,
so sensitive to its disillusionments. And as to wasted, wife, Con gives
me joy, and you, too, and I think there is not one among us who does not
drink in her loveliness like food, where actual food is short. Captain
Myles and our doctor would be going lame and halt, and would feel blind,
I make no doubt, did they not meet Constance Hopkins on their ways, like
a flower of eglantine, fair and sweet, and for that matter look how she
helps the doctor in his ministrations! Nay, nay, wife; we will keep our
Plymouth maid, and I am certain there will come to her from across seas
one day the romance and happiness that should be hers."

"Ah, well; life is short and it fades us sore. What does it matter where
it passes? I was a buxom lass myself, as you may remember, and look at
me now! Not that I was the rare creature that your girl is," sighed Dame
Eliza. "Is it true that Mr. Weston is coming hither?"

"True that he is coming hither," assented her husband, "and to our
house. He hath made us many promises, but kept none. He hath come over
with fishermen, in disguise, hath been cast away and lost everything at
the hands of savages. He is taking refuge with us and we shall outfit
him and deal with him as a brother. I do not believe his protestations
of good-will and the service he will do us in return, when he gets back
to England. Yet we must deal generously, little as we have to spare,
with a man in distress such as his."

"Giles is coming now, adown the way with a stranger; is this Mr.
Weston?" asked Dame Eliza.

"I'll go out to greet and bring him in. Yes; this is the man," said Mr.
Hopkins, going forth to welcome a man, whom in his heart he could not
but dread. The guest stayed with the Hopkins family for a few days, till
the colony should be won over to give him beaver skins, under his
promise to repay them with generous interest, when he should have traded
them, and was once more in England to send to Plymouth something of its
requirements.

On the final day of his stay Mr. Weston arose from the best seat in the
inglenook, which had been yielded to him as his right, and strolled
toward the door.

"Come with me, my lad," he said to Giles. "I have somewhat to say to
thee."

"Why not say it here?" asked Giles, surlily, though he followed slowly
after their guest.

"Giles Hopkins, you like me not," said Weston, when they had passed out
of earshot. "Why is it? Surely I not only use you well, but you are the
one person in this plantation that hath all the qualities I like best in
a man: brains, courage, youth, good birth, which makes for spirit, and
good looks. Your sister is all this and more, yet is the 'more' because
she is a maid, and that excludes her from my preference for my purposes.
Giles Hopkins, are you the man I take you for?"

"Faith, sir, that I cannot tell till you have shown me what form that
taking bears," said Giles.

"There you show yourself! Prudence added to my list of qualities!"
applauded Weston, clapping Giles on the back with real, or pretended
enthusiasm. "I take you for a man with resolution, courage to seize an
opportunity to make your fortune, to put yourself among those men of
consequence who are secure of place, and means to adorn it. Will you
march with me upon the way I will open to you?"

"'I dare do all that may become a man; who dares do more is none,'"
replied Giles. "I don't know where I learned that, but it sounds like
one of my father's beloved phrases, from his favourite poet. It seems
well to fit the case."

"Shakespeare is not a Puritan text book," observed Weston, dryly. "No
Hopkins is ever fully atune with such a community as this. Therefore,
Giles, will you welcome my offer, as a more canting Plymouth pilgrim
might not. Not to waste more time: Will you collect, after I have gone,
all the skins which you can obtain from these settlers? And will you
hold them in a safe place together, assuring your neighbours that you
are secured of a market for them at better prices than they have ever
received? And will you then, after you have got together all the skins
available, ship them to me by means which I will open to you as soon as
I am sure of your coöperation? This will leave your Plymouth people
stripped to the winds; their commodity of trade gone, and, scant of food
as they are, they will come to heel like dogs behind him who will lead
them to meat. This will be yourself. I will furnish you with the means
to give them what they will require in order to be bound to you. You
shall be a prince of the New World, holding your little kingdom under
the great English throne; there shall be no end to your possible
grandeur. I will send you men, commodities for trade, arms, fine cloth
and raiment to fulfil the brightest fairy dreams of youth. And look you,
Giles Hopkins, this is no idle boast; it is within my power to do
exactly as I promise. Are you mine?"

"Yours!" Giles spoke with difficulty, the blood mounting to his temples
and knotting its veins, his hands clenching and unclenching as if it was
almost beyond him to hold them from throttling his father's guest. "Am I
a man or a cur? Cur? Nay, no cur is so low as you would make me. Betray
Plymouth? Turn on these people with whom I've suffered and wrought? I
would give my hand to kick you out into yonder harbour and drown you
there as you deserve. I have but to turn you over to our governor, and
short ways will you get with the good beaver skins which have been given
to you by these people you want me to trick, scant though they are of
everything, and that owing to you who have never sent them anything but
your lying promises. Nay, turn not so white! You may keep your courage,
as you keep your worthless life. Neither will I betray you to them. But
see to it that this last day of your stay here is indeed the last one!
Only till sunset do I give you to get out of Plymouth. If you are within
our boundaries at moonrise I will deliver you over, and urge your
hanging. And be sure these starved immigrants will be in a mood to hang
you higher than Haman, when they hear of what you have laid before me,
against them who are in such straits."

Mr. Weston did not delay to test Giles's sincerity. There was no
mistaking that he would do precisely as he promised, and Weston took his
departure a good two hours before sundown.

Giles stood with his hands in his pockets beside his father as Weston
departed.

"Giles, courtesy to a guest is a law that binds us all," suggested
Stephen Hopkins.

"Mercy, rather," said Giles, tersely. He nodded to Mr. Weston without
removing his hands. "A last salute, Mr. Weston," he said. "I expect
never to meet you again, neither in this, nor any other world."

"Giles!" cried Constance, shocked.

"Son, what do you know of this man that you dare insult him in
departing?" said Mr. Hopkins.

"That never will Plymouth receive one penny of value for the beaver
skins he hath taken, nor gratitude for the kindness shown him when he
was destitute," said Giles, turning on his heel shortly and leaving his
father to look after Weston, troubled by this confirmation of the doubt
that he had always felt of this false friend of Plymouth colony.

The effect upon Giles of having put far from him temptation and stood
fast by his fellow-colonists, though no one but himself knew of it, was
to arouse in him greater zeal for the welfare of Plymouth than he had
felt before, and greater effort to promote it.

Plymouth had been working upon the community plan; all its population
labouring together, sharing together the results of that labour, like
one large family. And, though the plan was based upon the ideal of
brotherhood, yet it worked badly; food was short, and the men not equal
in honest effort, nor willing to see their womankind tilling the soil
and bearing heavy burdens for others than their own families. So while
some bore their share of the work, and more, others lay back and
shirked. There must be a remedy found, and that at once, to secure the
necessary harvest in the second year, and third summer of the life of
the plantation.

Giles Hopkins went swinging down the road after he had seen the last of
Mr. Weston. He was bound for the governor's house, but he came up with
William Bradford on the way and laid before him his thoughts.

"Mr. Bradford," he said, "I've been considering. We shall starve to
death, even though we get the ship that is promised us from home,
bringing us all that for which we hope, unless we can raise better
crops. I am one of the youngest men, but may I lay before you my
suggestion?"

"Surely, my son," said Governor Bradford. "Old age does not necessarily
include wisdom, nor youth folly. What do you advise?"

"Give every family its allotment of land and seed," said Giles. "Let
each family go to work to raise what it shall need for itself, and abide
by the result of its own industry, or indolence, always supposing that
no misfortune excuses failure. I'll warrant we shall see new days--or
new sacks filled, which is more to the point--than when we let the
worthless profit by worth, or worth be discouraged by the leeches upon
it."

Governor Bradford regarded Giles smilingly. "Thou art an emphatic lad,
Giles, but I like earnestness and strong convictions. Never yet was
there any one who did not believe in his own panacea for whatever evil
had set him to discovering it! It was Plato's conceit, and other
ancients with him, that bringing into the community of a commonwealth
all property, making it shared in common, was to make mankind happy and
prosperous. But I am of your opinion that it has been found to breed
much confusion and discontent, and that it is against the ordinance of
God, who made it a law that a man should labour for his own nearest of
kin, and transmit to them the fruit of his labours. So will I act upon
your suggestion, which I had already considered, having seen how wrong
was Plato's utopian plan, or at least how ill it was working here. With
the approval of our councillors, I will distribute land, seed, and all
else required, and establish individual production instead of our
commonality."

"It is time we tried a new method, Governor Bradford," said Giles.
"Another year like these we've survived, and there would be no survival
of them. I don't remember how it felt to have enough to eat!"

"Poor lad," said the governor, kindly, though to the full he had shared
the scarcity. "It is hard to be young and hungry, for at best youth is
rarely satisfied, and it must be cruel to see every day at the worst!
But I have good ground to hope that our winter is over and past, and
that the voice of the turtle will soon be heard in our land. In other
words, I think that a ship, or possibly more than one, will be here this
summer, bringing us new courage in new helpers, and supplies in plenty."

"It is to be hoped," said Giles, and went away.

The new plan was adopted, and it infused new enthusiasm into the
Plymouth people. Constance insisted upon having for her own one section
of her father's garden. Indeed all the women of the colony went to work
in the fields now, quite willingly, and without opposition from their
men, since their work was for themselves.

"It was wholly different from having their women slaving for strong men
who were no kin to them, as they had done when the community plan
prevailed," said the men of Plymouth. And so the women of Plymouth went
to work willingly, even gaily.

There was great hope of a large crop, early in May, when all the land
was planted, and little green heads were everywhere popping up to
announce the grain to come. Constance had planted nothing but peas; she
said that she loved them because they climbed so bravely, and put out
their plucky tendrils to help themselves up. Her peas were the pride of
her heart, and all Plymouth was admiring them, when the long drouth set
in.

From the third week in May till the middle of July not a drop of rain
fell upon the afflicted fields of Plymouth. The corn had been planted
with fish, which for a time insured it moisture and helped it, but
gradually the promising green growth drooped, wilted, browned, and on
the drier plain, burned and died under the unshadowed sun.

Constance saw her peas drying up, helpless to save them. She fell into
the habit of sitting drooping like the grain, on the doorstep of the
Leyden Street house, her bonnet pushed back, her chin in her hands,
sorrowfully sharing the affliction of the soil.

Elder Brewster, passing, found her thus, and stopped.

"Not blithe Constantia like this?" he said.

"Ah, yes, Mr. Brewster," said Constance, rising, "just like this. The
drouth has parched my heart and dried up my courage. For nine weeks no
rain, and our life hanging upon it! Oh, Elder Brewster, call for a day
of fasting and prayer that we may be pitied by the Lord with the
downfall of his merciful rain! Without it, without His intervention,
starvation will be ours. But it needs not me to tell you this!"

"My daughter, I will do as you say; indeed is it time, and I have been
thinking so," replied the elder. "The day after to-morrow shall be set
aside to implore Heaven's mercy on our brave plantation, which has borne
and can offer the sacrifice of a long-suffering patience to supplement
its prayers."

The day of fast and prayer arose with the same metallic sky that had
cloudlessly stretched over Plymouth for two months. Not a sign of mercy,
nor of relenting was anywhere above them as the people of Plymouth, the
less devout subdued to the same fearless eagerness to implore for mercy
that the more devout ones felt, went silently along the dusty roads,
heads bent beneath the scorching sun, without having tasted food,
assembling in their meeting house to pray.

In the rear of the bare little building stood the Indians who lived
among the Englishmen, Squanto at their head, with folded arms watching
and wondering what results should follow this appeal to the God of the
white men, now to be tested for the first time in a great public way as
to whether He was faithful to His promise, as these men said, and
powerful to fulfil.

All day long the prayer continued, with the coming and going of the
people, taking turns to perform the necessary tasks of the small farms,
and to continue in supplication.

There had been no hotter day of all those so long trying these poor
people, and no cloud appeared as the sun mounted and reached his height,
then began to descend. Damaris took Constance's hand as they walked
homeward, then dropped it.

"It is too hot; it burns me," she said, fretfully.

Constance raised her head and pushed back her hair with the backs of her
burning hands. She folded her lips and snuffed the air, much as a fine
dog stands to scent the birds. Constance was as sensitive to atmospheric
conditions as a barometer.

"Damaris, Damaris, rain!" she cried.

And the "little cloud, no bigger than a man's hand," was rising on the
horizon.

Before bedtime the sky was overcast, and the blessed, the prayed-for
rain began to fall. Without wind or lightning, quietly it fell, as if
the angels of God were sent to open the phials of the delicious wetness
and pour it steadily upon Plymouth. As the night went on the rain
increased, one of the soft, steady, soaking rains that penetrate to the
depths of the sun-baked earth, find the withered rootlets, and heal and
revivify.

Plymouth wakened to an earth refreshed and moistened by a downpour so
steady, so generous, so calm that no rain could have seemed more like a
direct visitation of Heaven's mercy than this, which the reverent and
awe-stricken colony, even to the doubting Indians, so received. For by
it Plymouth was saved.

It was two weeks later that Doctor Fuller came hastily to Stephen
Hopkins's door.

"Friends," he said, with trembling voice, "the _Anne_ is coming up!
Mistress Fuller and my child are aboard, as we have so often reminded
one another. Constance, you promised to go with me to welcome this
fateful ship."

"Have I time to make a little, a very small toilette, doctor mine?"
cried Constance, excitedly. "I want to look my prettiest to greet
Mistress Fuller, and to tell her what I--what we all owe to you."

"You have a full half hour, yet it is a pleasure to watch the ship
approach. Hasten, then, vain little Eve of this desolate First Abiding
Place!" the doctor gave her permission.

Constance ran away and began to dress with her heart beating fast.

"I wonder why the _Anne_ means so much to me, as if she were the
greatest event of all my days here?" she thought.

Her simple white gown slipped over her head and into place and out of
its thin, soft folds her little throat rose like a calla, and her face,
all flushed, like a wild rose.

She pinned a lace neckerchief over her breast, and laid its ruffles into
place with fluttering fingers, catching it with a delicate hoop of
pearls that had been her mother's. For once she decided against her
Puritan cap, binding her radiant hair with fillets of narrow blue velvet
ribbon, around and over which its little tendrils rose, wilful and
resisting its shackles.

On her hands she drew long mitts of white lace, and she slipped her feet
into white shoes, which had also once been worn by her mother in
far-away days when she danced the May dances in Warwickshire.

Constance's glass was too small, too high-hung, to give her the effect
of her complete figure, but it showed her the face that scanned it, and
what it showed her flushed that lovely face with innocent joy in its
loveliness, and completed its perfection.

She got the full effect of her appearance in the eyes of the four men in
the colony whom, till this day, she had loved best, her father, Giles,
Doctor Fuller, and Myles Standish, as she came down the winding stairway
to them.

They all uttered an involuntary exclamation, and took a step toward her.

Her father took her hand and tucked it into his own.

"You are attired like a bride, my wild rose," he said. "Who are you
going to meet?"

"Who knows!" cried Constance, gaily, with unconscious prophecy.
"Mistress Fuller, but who can say whom else beside?"

The _Anne_ came up with wide-spread canvas, free of the gentle easterly
breeze. Her coming marked the end of the hardest days of Plymouth
colony; she was bringing it much that it needed, some sixty colonists;
the wives and children of many who had borne the brunt of the beginning
and had come on the _Mayflower_; new colonists, some among Plymouth's
best, some too bad to be allowed to stay, and stores and articles of
trade abundantly.

As the coming of the _Anne_ marked the close of Plymouth's worst days,
so it meant to many who were already there the dawn of a new existence.

Doctor Fuller took into his arms his beloved wife and his child, with
grateful tears running down his face.

He turned to present Mistress Fuller to Constance, but found, instead,
Captain Myles Standish watching with a smile at once tender, melancholy,
and glad another meeting. A young man, tall, browned, gallant, and
fearless in bearing, with honest eyes and a kindly smile, had come off
the _Anne_ and had stood a moment looking around him. His eyes fell upon
Constance Hopkins on her father's arm, her lips parted, her eyes
dilated, her cheeks flushed, a figure so exquisite that he fell back in
thrilled wonder. Never again could he see another face, so completely
were his eyes and heart filled by this first sight of Constance Hopkins,
unconsciously waiting for him, her husband-to-be, upon the shore of the
New World.

Damaris was clinging to her hand; Giles and her step-mother were
watching her with loving pride; it was easy to see that all those who
had come ashore from the _Anne_ were admiring this slender blossom of
Plymouth.

But the young man went toward her, almost without knowing that he did
so, drawn to her irresistibly, and Constance looked toward him, and saw
him for the first time, her pulses answering the look in his eyes.

Myles Standish joined them; he had learned the young man's name.

"Welcome, Nicholas Snowe, to Plymouth," he said. "We have borne much,
but we have won our fight; we have founded our kingdom. Nicholas Snowe,
this is a Plymouth maid, Constance Hopkins."

"I am glad you are come," said Constance; her voice was low and the hand
that she extended trembled slightly.

"I, too, am glad that you are here, Nicholas Snowe," added Stephen
Hopkins. "Yes, this is Constance Hopkins, a Plymouth maid, and my
dearest lass."


THE END



THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS

GARDEN CITY, N. Y.


Transcriber's Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

Page 36: "remanent" changed to "remnant" (what would my remnant of life
be to me)

Page 51: "so" changed to "no" (I mean no such thing, as well you know)

Page 67: "senstive" changed to "sensitive" (a girl, sensitive and easily
wounded)

Page 83: "devasting" changed to "devastating" (The devastating diseases
of winter)

Page 106: "begining" changed to "beginning" (the beginning of a street)

Page 140: "wordly" changed to "worldly" (to take pride in worldly things)

Page 160: normalised "work-aday" (her work-a-day tasks)

Page 180: changed case of "Come" to lower case (come with me; I need
you)

Page 192: "mercie" changed to "merci" (belle dame sans merci)

Page 196: "be" changed to "he" (he began to teach Constance other
things)

Page 210 "Shakspeare" normalised to "Shakespeare" (we mortals be,
as Shakespeare, whom)





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