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The First Christmas of New England
by [?]

“All people that on earth do dwell,
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice:
Him serve with fear, His praise forthtell;
Come ye before Him and rejoice.

“The Lord, ye know, is God indeed;
Without our aid He did us make;
We are His flock, He doth us feed,
And for his sheep He doth us take.

“O enter then His gates with praise,
Approach with joy His courts unto:
Praise, laud, and bless His name always,
For it is seemly so to do.

“For why? The Lord our God is good,
His mercy is forever sure;
His truth at all times firmly stood,
And shall from age to age endure.”

This grand hymn rose and swelled and vibrated in the still November air; while in between the pauses came the warble of birds, the scream of the jay, the hoarse call of hawk and eagle, going on with their forest ways all unmindful of the new era which had been ushered in with those solemn sounds.



The sound of prayer and psalm-singing died away on the shore, and the little band, rising from their knees, saluted each other in that genial humor which always possesses a ship’s company when they have weathered the ocean and come to land together.

“Well, Master Jones, here we’ are,” said Elder Brewster cheerily to the ship-master.

“Aye, aye, sir, here we be sure enough; but I’ve had many a shrewd doubt of this upshot. I tell you, sirs, when that beam amidships sprung and cracked Master Coppin here said we must give over–hands couldn’t bring her through. Thou rememberest, Master Coppin?”

“That I do,” replied Master Coppin, the first mate, a stocky, cheery sailor, with a face red and shining as a glazed bun. “I said then that praying might save her, perhaps, but nothing else would.”

“Praying wouldn’t have saved her,” said Master Brown, the carpenter, “if I had not put in that screw and worked the beam to her place again.”

“Aye, aye, Master Carpenter,” said Elder Brewster, “the Lord hath abundance of the needful ever to his hand. When He wills to answer prayer, there will be found both carpenter and screws in their season, I trow.”

“Well, Deb,” said Master Coppin, pinching the ear of a great mastiff bitch who sat by him, “what sayest thou? Give us thy mind on it, old girl; say, wilt thou go deer-hunting with us yonder?”

The dog, who was full of the excitement of all around, wagged her tail and gave three tremendous barks, whereat a little spaniel with curly ears, that stood by Rose Standish, barked aloud.

“Well done!” said Captain Miles Standish. “Why, here is a salute of ordnance! Old Deb is in the spirit of the thing and opens out like a cannon. The old girl is spoiling for a chase in those woods.”

“Father, may I go ashore? I want to see the country,” said Wrestling Brewster, a bright, sturdy boy, creeping up to Elder Brewster and touching his father’s elbow.

Thereat there was a crying to the different mothers of girls and boys tired of being cooped up,–“Oh, mother, mother, ask that we may all go ashore.”

“For my part,” said old Margery the serving-maid to Elder Brewster, “I want to go ashore to wash and be decent, for there isn’t a soul of us hath anything fit for Christians. There be springs of water, I trow.”

“Never doubt it, my woman,” said Elder Brewster; “but all things in their order. How say you, Mr. Carver? You are our governor. What order shall we take?”

“We must have up the shallop,” said Carver, “and send a picked company to see what entertainment there may be for us on shore.”

“And I counsel that all go well armed,” quoth Captain Miles Standish, “for these men of the forest are sharper than a thorn-hedge. What! what!” he said, looking over to the eager group of girls and boys, “ye would go ashore, would ye? Why, the lions and bears will make one mouthful of ye.”