Operation Disclosure | By James O’Brien, Contributing Writer
Submitted on October 4, 2021
THE CONSECRATION OF THE DELIVERER.
IT stood in the shadows of the Wissahikon woods, that ancient Monastery, its dark walls canopied by the boughs of the gloomy pine; interwoven with leaves of grand old oaks. From the waters of the wood hidden stream, a winding road led up to its gates; a winding road overgrown with rank grass, and sheltered from the light by the thick branches above.
A Monastery? Yes, a Monastery, here amid the wilds of Wissahikon, in the year of Grace 1773, a Monastery built upon the soil of William Penn!
Let me paint it for you, at the close of this calm summer day .
The beams of the sun, declining far in the west, shoot between the thickly gathered leaves, and light up the green sward, around those massive gates, and stream with sudden glory over the dark old walls. It is a Monastery, yet here we behold no swelling dome, no Gothic turrets, no walls of massive stone. A huge square edifice, built one hundred years ago of the trunks of giant oaks and pines, it rises amid the woods, like the temple of some long forgotten religion. The roof is broken into many fantastic forms; here it rises in a steep gable, yonder the heavy logs are laid prostrate; again they swell into a shapeless mass, as though stricken by a hurricane.
Not many windows are there in the dark old walls, but to the west four large square spaces framed in heavy pieces of timber, break on your eye, while on the other sides the old house presents one blank mass of logs, rising on logs. No, not one blank mass, for at this time of year, when the breath of June hides the Wissahikon in a world of leaves, the old Monastery looks like a grim soldier, who scathed by time and battle, wears yet thick wreaths of laurel over his armour, and about his brow.
Green vines girdle the ancient house on every side. From the squares of the dark windows; from the intervals of the massive logs, they hang in luxuriant festoons, while the shapeless roof is all one mass of leaves. Nay, even the wall of logs which extends around the old house, with a ponderous gate to the west, is green with the touch of June. Not a trunk but blooms with some drooping vine; even the gateposts, each a solid column of oak, seem to wave to and fro, as the summer breeze plays with their drapery of green leaves.
It is a sad, still hour. The beams of the sun stream with fitful splendor over the green sward. That strange old mansion seems as sad and desolate as the tomb. But suddenly– hark! Do you hear the clanking of those bolts, the crashing of the unclosing gates?
The gates creak slowly aside– Let us steal behind this cluster of pines, and gaze upon the inhabitants of the Monastery, as they come forth for their evening walk.
Three figures issue from the opened gates, an old man whose withered features and white hairs are thrown strongly into the fading light, by his long robe of dark velvet. On one arm, leans a young girl, also dressed in black, her golden hair falling– not in ringlets– but in rich masses, to her shoulders. She bends upon his arm, and with that living smile upon her lips, and in her eyes, looks up into his face.
On the other arm, a young man, whose form, swelling with the proud outlines of early manhood, is attired in a robe or gown, dark as his father’s, while his bronzed face, shaded by curling, brown hair, seems to reflect the silent thought, written upon the old man’s brow.
They pace slowly along the sod. Not a word is spoken. The old man raises his eyes, and lifts the square cap from his brow. Look! How that golden beam plays along his brow, while the evening breeze tosses his white hairs. There is much suffering, many deep traces of the Past, written on his wrinkled face, but the light of a wild enthusiasm beams from his blue eyes.
The young man, his dark eyes wildly glaring, fixed upon the sod, moves by the old man’s side, but speaks no word. The girl, that image of maidenly grace, nurtured into beauty, within an hour’s journey of the city, and yet afar from the world, still bends over that aged arm, and looks smilingly into that withered face, her glossy hair waving in the summer wind.
Who are these, that come hither, pacing at the evening hour, along the wild moss? The father and his children.
What means that deep strange light, flashing not only from the blue eyes of the father, but from the dark eyes of his son? Does it need a second glance to tell you that it is the light of Fanaticism, that distortion of Faith, the wild glare of Superstition, that deformity of Religion?
The night comes slowly down. Still the Father and son pace the ground in silence, while the breeze freshens and makes low music among the leaves. Still the young girl, bending over the old man’s arm, smiles tenderly in his face, as though she would drive the sadness from his brow with one gleam of her mild blue eyes.
At last– within the shadows of the gate, their faces lighted by the last gleam of the setting sun, the old man and his son stand like figures of stone, while each grasps a hand of the young girl.
Is it not a strange, yet beautiful picture? The old Monastery forms one dense mass of shade; on either side extends the darkening forest, yet here within the portals of the gate, the three figures are grouped, while a warm soft mass of tufted moss spreads before them. The proud manhood of the son, contrasted with the white locks of the father, the tender yet voluptuous beauty of the girl relieving the thought and sadness, which glooms over each brow.
Hold– the Father presses the wrist of his Son with a convulsive grasp– hush! Do you hear that low deep whisper?
“At last, it comes to my soul the Fulfilment of Prophecy!” he whispers and is silent again, but his lip trembles and his eye glares.
“But the time– Father– the time?” the Son replies in the same deep voice, while his eye dilating, fires with the same feeling that swells his Father’s heart.
“The last day of this year– the third hour after midnight– THE DELIVERER WILL COME!”
These words may seem lame and meaningless, when spoken again, but had you seen the look, that kindled over the old man’s face, his white hand raised above his head, had you heard his deep voice swelling through the silence of the woods, each word would ring on your ear as though it quivered from a spirit’s tongue.
Then the old man and his son knelt on the sod, while the young girl looking in their faces with wonder and awe sank silently beside them. The tones of Prayer broke upon the stillness of the darkening woods.
Tell us the meaning of this scene. Wherefore call this huge edifice, where dark logs are clothed in green leaves, by the old world name of Monastery? Who are these– father, son, and daughter– that dwell within its walls?
Seventeen years ago– from this year of Grace, 1773– there came to the wilds of the Wissahikon, a man in the prime of mature manhood, clad in a long, dark robe, with a cross of silver gleaming on his breast. With one arm he gathered to his heart a smiling babe, a little girl, whose golden hair floated over his dark dress like sunshine over a pall; by the other hand he led a dark haired boy.
His name, his origin, his object in the wilderness, no one knew, but purchasing the ruined Block-House, which bore on its walls and timbers the marks of many an Indian fight, he shut himself out from all the world. His son, his daughter, grew up together in this wild solitude. The voice of prayer was often heard at dead of night, by the belated huntsman, swelling from the silence of the lonely house.
By slow degrees, whether from the cross which the old stranger wore upon his breast, or from the sculptured images which had been seen within the walls of his forest home, the place was called the Monastery and its occupant the Priest.
Had he been drawn from his native home by crime? Was his name enrolled among the titled and the great of his Father-land Germany? Or, perchance, he was one of those stern visionaries, the Pietists of Germany, who, lashed alike by Catholic and Protestant persecutors, brought to the wilds of Wissahikon their beautiful Fanaticism?
For that Fanaticism– professed by a band of brothers, who years before driven from Germany, came here to Wissahikon, built their Monastery, and worshipped God, without a written creed– was beautiful. It was a wild belief, tinctured with the dreams of Alchemists, it may be, yet, still full of faith in God, and love to man. Persecuted by the Protestants of Germany, as it was by the Catholics of France, it still treasured the Bible as its rule and the Cross as its symbol.
The Monastery, in which the brothers of the faith lived for long years, was situated on the brow of a hill, not a mile from the old Block-House. Here the Brothers had dwelt, in the deep serenity of their own hearts, until one evening they gathered in their garden, around the form of their dying father, who yielded his soul to God in their midst, while the setting sun and the calm silence of universal nature gave a strange grandeur to the scene.
But it was not with this Brotherhood that the stranger of the Block-House held communion. His communion was with the dark-eyed son, who grew up drinking the fanaticism of his father, in many a midnight watch with the golden haired daughter, whose smile was wont to drive the gloom from his brow, the
wearing anxiety from his heart.
Who was the stranger? No one knew. The farmer of the Wissahikon had often seen his dark-robed form, passing like a ghost under the solemn pines; the wandering huntsman had many a time, on his midnight ramble, heard the sounds of prayer breaking along the silence of the woods from the Block-House walls: yet still the life, origin, objects of the stranger were wrapt in impenetrable mystery.
Would you know more of his life? Would you penetrate the mystery of this dim old Monastery, shadowed by the thickly-clustered oaks and pines, shut out from the world by the barrier of impenetrable forests?
Would you know the meaning of those strange words, uttered by the old man, on the calm summer evening?
Come with me, then– at midnight– on the last day of 1773. We will enter the Block-House together, and behold a scene, which, derived from tradition of the past, is well calculated to thrill the heart with a deep awe.
It is midnight: there is snow on the ground: the leafless trees fling their bared limbs against the cold blue of the starlit sky. The old Block-House rises dark and gloomy from the snow, with the heavy trees extending all around.
The wind sweeps through the woods, not with a boisterous roar, but the strange sad cadence of an organ, whose notes swell away through the arches of a dim cathedral aisle.
Who would dream that living beings tenanted this dark mansion arising in one black mass from the bed of snow, its huge timbers, revealed in various indistinct forms, by the cold clear light of the stars?
Centred in the midst of the desolate woods, it looks like the abode of spirits, or yet like some strange sepulchre, in which the dead of long-past ages lie entombed.
There is no foot-track on the winding road– the show presents one smooth white surface– yet the gates are thrown wide open, as if ready for the coming of a welcome guest.
Through this low, narrow door– also flung wide open– along this dark corridor, we will enter the Monastery .
In the centre of this room, illumined by the light of two tall white candles sits the old man, his slender form clad in dark velvet, with the silver cross gleaming on his bosom, buried in the cushions of an oaken chair. His slender hands are laid upon his knees– he sways slowly to and fro– while his large blue eye, dilating with a wild stare, is fixed upon the opposite wall.
Hush! Not a word– not even the creaking of a footstep– for this old man, wrapped in his thoughts, sitting alone in the centre of this strangely furnished room, fills us with involuntary reverences.
Strangely furnished room? Yes, circular in form, with a single doorway, huge panels of dark oaken wainscot, rise from the bared floor to the gloomy ceiling. Near the old man arises a white altar, on which the candles are placed, its spotless curtain floating down to the floor. Between the candles, you behold a long, slender flagon of silver, a wreath of laurel leaves, fresh gathered from the Wissahikon hills, and a Holy Bible, bound in velvet, with antique clasps of gold.
Behind the altar, gloomy and sullen, as if struggling with the shadows of the room, arises a cross of Iron.
On yonder a small fire-place, rude logs of oak and hickory send up their
mingled smoke and fame.
The old man sits there, his eyes growing wilder in their gaze every moment, fixed upon the solitary door. Still he sways to and fro, and now his thin lips move, and a faint murmur fills the room.
“He will come!” mutters the Priest of the Wissahikon, as common rumor named him. “At the third hour after midnight, the Deliverer will come!”
These words acquire a singular interest from the tone and look which accompany their utterance.
Hark– the door opens– the young man with the bronzed face and deep dark eyes, appears– advances to the father’s side.
“Father”– whispers the young man– “May it not be a vain fancy after all! This Hope that the Deliverer will come ere the rising of the sun?”
You can see the old man turn suddenly round– his eye blazes as he grasps his son by the wrist.
“Seventeen years ago, I left my father-land, became an exile and an outcast! Seventeen years ago, I forsook the towers of my race, that even now darken over the bosom of the Rhine– I, whose name was ennobled by the ancestral glories of thirteen centuries, turned my back at once on pomp, power, all that is worshipped by the herd of mankind! In my native land, they have believed me dead for many years– the castle, the broad domains that by the world’s law are yours, my son, now own another’s rule– and here we are, side by side, in this rude temple of the Wissahikon! Why is this, my son?– Speak, Paul, and answer me, why do we dwell together, the father and his children, in this wild forest of a strange land?”
The son veiled his eyes with his clasped hands: the emotion of his father’s look thrilled him to the soul.
“I will tell you why! Seventeen years ago, as I bent over the body of my dead wife, even in the death-vault of our castle, on the Rhine, the Voice of God, spake to my soul– bade me resign all the world and its toys– bade me take my children, and go forth to a strange land!
“And there await the Fulfilment of Prophecy”– whispered Paul, raising his hand from the clasped hands. “For seventeen years I have buried my soul in the pages of that book. I have shared your studies, father! Reared afar from the toll and the vanity of worldly life, I have made my home with you in this hermitage. Together we have wept– prayed– watched over the pages of Revelation!”
“You have become part of my soul,” said the Priest of Wissahikon, in a softened voice, as he laid his withered hand upon the white forehead of his son. “You might have been noble in your native land; yes, your sword might have carved for you a gory renown from the corpses of dead men, butchered in battle; or the triumphs of poetry and art might have clothed your brow in laurel, and yet you have chosen your lot with me; with me, devoted life and soul to the perusal of God’s solemn book.”
The dark eye of the son began to burn, with the same wild light that blazed over his father’s face.
“And our studies, our long and painful search into the awful world, which the Bible opens to our view, has ended in a knowledge of these great truths– The Old World is sunk in all manner of crime, as was the Ante-Deluvian World– The New WORLD is given to man as a refuge, even as the Ark was given to Noah and his children. The New World is the last altar of human freedom left on the surface of the Globe. Never shall the footsteps of Kings pollute its soil. It is the last hope of man. God has spoken, and it is so– Amen!”
The old man’s voice rung in deep, solemn tones through the lonely room, while his eye seemed to burn as with the fire of Prophecy.
“The voice of God has spoken to me, in my thoughts by day, in my dreams by night. I will send a DELIVERER to this land of the NewWorld, who shall save my people from physical bondage, even as my Son saved them from the bondage of spiritual death.”
“And to-night he will come, at the third hour after midnight, he will come through yonder door, and take upon himself his great Mission, to free the New World from the yoke of the Tyranny. Yes, my son, six months ago, on that calm summer evening, as with Catherine leaning on one arm, you on the other, I strolled forth along the woods, that voice whispered a message to my soul! To-night the Deliverer will come!”
“All is ready for his coming!” exclaimed Paul, advancing to the altar. Behold the Crown, the Flagon of Anointing Oil, the Bible and the Cross!”
The old man arose, lifting his withered hands above his head, while the light streamed over his silver hairs.
“Even as the Prophets of old anointed the brows of men, chosen by God to do great deeds in His name, so will I– purified by the toil and prayer, and self- denial of seventeen long years– anoint the forehead of the Deliverer.”
Hark! As the voice of the aged enthusiast, tremulous with emotion, quivers on the air, the clock in the hall without, tells the hour of twelve! As the tones of that belt ring through the lonely Block-House, like a voice from the other world–deep, sad and echoing– the last minute of 1773 sank in the glass of Time, and 1774 was born!
Then they knelt, silently beside the altar, the old man and his son. The white hairs of the Priest, mingled with the brown locks of Paul; their hands clasped together rested upon the Bible, which was opened at the Book of Revelations.
Their separate prayers breathed in low whispers from each lip, mingled together, and went up to Heaven in ONE.
An hour passed. Hark! Do you hear the old clock again? How that sullen ONE! swells through the silent halls!
Still they kneel together there– still the voice of the prayer quivers from each tongue.
Another hour, spent in silent prayer, with bowed head and bended knees. As the clock speaks out the hour of two, the old man rises and paces the floor.
“Place your hand upon my heart, my son! Can you feel its throbbings? Upon my brow– ah! it burns like living fire! The hour draws nigh– he comes! Yes, my heart throbs, my brain fires, but my faith in God is firm– the Deliverer will come!”
Vain were the attempt to picture the silent agony of that old man’s face! Call him dreamer– call him fanatic– what you will, you must still admit that a great soul throbbed within his brain– still you must reverence the strong heart which beats within his shrunken chest.
Still must you remember that this old man was once a renowned lord; that he forsook all that the world holds dear, buried himself for seventeen years in the wilds of this forest, his days and nights spent amid the dark pages of the Revelations of Saint John.
Up and down the oaken floor, now by the altar, where the light shone over his brow, now in the darkness where the writhings of his countenance were lost in shadows, the old man hurried along, his eye blazing with wilder light, his withered cheek with a warmer glow.
Meanwhile the son remained kneeling in prayer. The lights burned dimly– the room was covered with a twilight gloom. Still the Iron Cross was seen, the whole altar still broke through the darkness, with its silver Flagon and Laurel Crown.
Hark! That sound– the clock is on the hour of three! The old man starts, quivers, listens!
ONE! rings through the desolate mansion.
“I hear no sound!” mutters the enthusiast.
But the words had not passed on his lips, when– Two! swells on the air.
“He comes not!” cries Paul, darting to his feet, his features quivering with suspense. They clasp their hands together, they listen with frenzied intensity.
“Still no footstep! Not a sound!” gasped Paul.
“But he will come!” and the old man, sublime in the energy of fanaticism, towered erect, one hand to his heart, while the other quivered in the air.
THREE! The last stroke of the bell swelled– echoed– and died away.
“He comes not!” gasped the son, in agony.
“But yes! Is there not a footstep on the frozen snow? Hark! Father, father! Do you hear that footstep? It is on the threshold now– it advances.”
“He comes!” whispered the old man, while the sweat stood out in beads from his withered brow.
“It advances, father! Yes, along the hall–hark! There is a hand on the door– hah! All is silent again! It is but a delusion– no! He is come at last!”
“At last he is come!” gasped the old man, and with one impulse they sank on their knees.
Hark! You hear the old door creak on its hinges, as it swings slowly open– a strange voice breaks the silence.
“Friends, I have lost my way in the forest,” said the voice, speaking in a calm, manly tone. “Can you direct me to the right way?”
The old man looked up; a cry of wonder trembled from his lips. As for the son, he gazed in silence on the Stranger, while his features were stamped with inexpressible surprise.
The Stranger stood on the threshold, his face to the light, his form thrown boldly forward, by the darkness at his back. He stood there, not as a Conqueror on the battlefield, with the spoils of many nations trampled under his feet. Towering above the stature of common men, his form was clad in the dress of a plain gentleman of that time, fashioned of black velvet, with ruffles on the bosom and around the wrist, diamond buckles gleaming from his shoes.
Broad in the shoulders, beautiful in the sinewy proportions of each limb, he stood there, extending his hat in one hand, while the other gathered his heavy cloak around the arm. His white forehead, large, overarched eyes, which gleamed even through the darkness of the room with a calm, clear light; his lips were firm; his chin round and full; the general contour of his face stamped with the settled beauty of mature manhood, mingled with the fire of chivalry.
In one word, he was a man whom you would single out among a crowd of ten thousand, for his grandeur of bearing, his calm, collected dignity of expression and manner.
“Friends,” he again began, as he started back, surprised at the sight of the kneeling enthusiasts, “I have lost my way–“
“Thou hast not lost thy way,” spoke the voice of the old man, as he arose and confronted the stranger. “Thou hast found thy way to usefulness and immortal renown!”
The Stranger advanced a footstep, while a warm glow overspread his commanding face. Paul stood as if spell-bound by the calm gaze of his clear, deep eyes.
“Nay– do not start, nor gaze upon me in such wonder! I tell thee the voice that speaks from my lips is the voice of Revelation. Thou art called to a great work; kneel before the altar and receive thy mission!”
Nearer to the altar drew the Stranger.
“This is but folly– you make a mock of me!” he began; but the wild gaze of the old man thrilled his heart, as with magnetic fire. He paused, and stood silent and wondering.
“Nay, doubt me not ! To-night, filled with strange thoughts on your country’s Future, you laid yourself down to sleep within your habitation in yonder city. But sleep fled from your eyes– a feeling of restlessness drove you forth into the cold air of night–“
“This is true!” muttered the Stranger in a musing tone, while his face expressed surprise.
“As you dashed along, mounted on the steed which soon will bear your form in the ranks of battle; the cold air of night fanned your hot brow, but could not drive from your soul the Thought of your Country!”
“How knew you this?” and the Stranger started forward, grasping the old man suddenly by the wrist.
Deeper and bolder thrilled the tones of the old Enthusiast.
“The rein fell loosely on your horse’s neck– you let him wander, you cared not whither! Still the thought that oppressed your soul was the future of your country. Still great hopes– dim visions of what is to come– floating panoramas of battle and armed legions– darted one by one over your soul. Even as you stood on the threshold of yonder door, asking, in calm tones, the way through the forest, another and a deeper question rose to your lips–“
“I confess it!” said the Stranger, his tone catching the deep emotion of the old man’s voice. “As I stood upon the threshold, the question that rose to my lips was–“
“Is it lawful for a SUBJECT to draw sword against his KING?”
“Man! You read the heart!” and this strange man of commanding form and thoughtful brow, gazed fixedly in the eyes of the Enthusiast, while his face expressed every conflicting emotion of doubt, suspicion, surprise and awe.
“Nay, do not gaze upon me in such wonder! I tell thee a great work has been allotted unto thee, by the FATHER of all souls! Kneel by this altar– and here, in the silence of night, amid the depths of these wild woods– will I anoint thee Deliverer of this great land, even as the men of Judah, in the far-gone time, anointed the brows of the chosen David!”
It may have been a sudden impulse, or perchance, some conviction of the future flashed over the Stranger’s soul, but as the gloom of that chamber gathered round him, as the voice of the old map thrilled in his ear, he felt those knees, which never yielded to man, sink beneath him, he bowed before the altar, his brow bared, and his hands laid upon the Book of God.
The light flashed over his bold features, glowing with the beauty of manhood in its prime, over his proud form, dilating with a feeling of inexpressible agitation.
On one side of the altar stood the old man– the Priest of the Wissahikon– silver hair waving aside from his flushed brow– on the other, his son, bronzed in face, but thoughtful in the steady gaze of his large full eyes.
Around this strange group all was gloom: the cold wintry air poured through the open door, but they heeded it not.
“Thou art called to the great work of a Champion and Deliverer! Soon thou wilt ride to battle at the head of legions, soon thou wilt lead a people on to freedom– soon thy sword will gleam like a meteor over the ranks of war!”
As the voice of the old man in the dark robe, with the silver cross flashing on his heart, thrills through the chamber– as the Stranger bows his head as if in reverence, while the dark browed son looks silently on– look yonder, in the dark shadows of the doorway!
A young form, with a dark mantle floating round her white robes, stands trembling there. As you look, her blue eye dilates with fear, her hair streams in a golden shower, down to the uncovered shoulders. Her finger is pressed against her lip; she stands doubting, fearing, trembling on the threshold.
Unseen by all, she fears that her father may work harm to the kneeling Stranger. What knows she of his wild dreams of enthusiasm? The picture which she beholds terrifies her. This small and gloomy chamber, lighted by the white candles of the altar rising in the gloom– the Iron Cross confronting the kneeling man, like a thing of evil omen– her brother, mute and wondering, her father, with white hairs floating aside from his flushed forehead. The picture was singular and impressive; the winter wind, moaning sullenly without, imparted a sad and organ-like music to the scene.
“Dost thou promise, that when the appointed time arrives, thou wilt be Found ready, sword in hand, to fight for thy country and thy God?”
It was in tones broken by emotion, that the Stranger simply answered–
“Dost thou promise, in the hour of the glory– when a nation shall bow before thee as in the fierce moment of adversity– when thou shalt behold thy soldiers starving for want of bread, to remember the great truth, written in these words– ‘I am but the Minister of God in the great work of a nation’s freedom.’”
Again the bowed head, again the tremulous– “I do promise!”
“Then, in His name, who gave the New World to the millions of the human race, as the last altar of their rights, I do consecrate thee its DELIVERER!”
With the finger of his extended hand, touched with the anointing oil, he described the figure of a Cross on the white forehead of the Stranger, who raised his eyes, while his lips murmured as if in prayer.
Never was nobler King anointed beneath the shadow of Cathedral arch–never did holier Priest administer the solemn vow! A poor Cathedral, this rude Block-House of the Wissahikon– a plainly-clad gentleman, this kneeling Stranger– a wild Enthusiast, the old man! I grant it all. And yet, had you seen the Enthusiasm of the white-haired Minister, reflected in the Stranger’s brow, and cheek, and eyes, had you marked the contrast between the shrunken form of the “Priest” and the proud figure of the Anointed, both quivering with the same agitation– you would confess with me, that this Consecration was full as holy, in the sight of Heaven, as that of “Good King George.”
And all the while that young man stood gazing on the stranger in silent awe, while the girl, trembling on the threshold, a warm glow lightens up her face, as she beheld the scene.
“When the time comes, go forth to victory! On thy brow, no conqueror’s blood-red wreath, but this crown of fadeless laurel!”
He extends his hand, as if to wreath the Stranger’s brow, with the leaf crown, yet look! A young form steals up to his side, seizes the crown from his hand, and, ere you can look again, it falls upon the bared brow of the kneeling man.
He looks up and beholds that young girl, with the dark mantle gathered over her white robes, stand blushing and trembling before the altar, as though frightened at the boldness of the deed
“It is well!” said the aged man, regarding his daughter with a kindly smile. “From whom should the Deliverer of a Nation receive his crown of laurel, but from the hands of a stainless woman!”
“Rise! The Champion and Leader of a People!” spoke the deep voice of the son, as he stood before the altar, surveying, with one glance, the face of his father– the countenance of the blushing girl, and the bowed head of the Stranger. “Rise, sir, and take this hand, which was never yet given to man! I know not thy name, yet, on this book, I swear to be faithful to thee, even to the death!”
The Stranger rose, proudly he stood there, as with the consciousness of his commanding look and form. The laurel-wreath encircled his white forehead; the cross, formed by the anointing oil, glistened in the light.
Paul, the son, buckled a sword to his side, the old man extended his hands as if in blessing, while the young girl looked up silently into his face.
They all beheld the form of this strange man shake with emotion; while that face, whose calm beauty had won their hearts, now quivered in every fibre.
The wind moaned sadly over the frozen snow, yet these words, uttered by the stranger, were heard distinctly by all–
“From you, old man, I take the vow! From you, fair girl, the laurel! From you, brave friend, the sword ! On this book, I swear to be faithful unto all!”
And as the light flashed over his quivering features, he laid his hand upon the Book and kissed the hilt of the sword.
And thus was George Washington consecrated as Deliverer of a Nation, in the night woods of Pennsylvania, by the ‘Priest of Wissahikon,’ along with his son and daughter, in the first hours of 1774.
From Washington and His Generals, Legends of the American Revolution
by George Lippard, 1847
Parting the Washington Sea
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