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Fixed to the opposite wall was a shelf of books, and almong them I’rominent three, distinguished, alike for bulk and for binding Bariffe's Artillery Guide, and the Commentaries of Caesar, Out of the Latin translated by Arthur Goldinge of London, And, as if guarded by these, between them was standing the Bible, Musing a moment before them. Miles Standish paused, as if doubtful Which of the three he should choose for his consolation and comfort, Whether the wars of the Hebrews, the famous campaigns of the Romans. Or the Artillery, practice, designed for belligerent Christians. Finally down from its shelf he dragged the ponderous Roman, Seated himself at the window, and opened the book, and in silence Turned o'er the well-worn leaves, where thumbmarks thick on the margin Like the trample of feet, proclaimed the battle was hottest. Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling, Busy writing epistles important, to go by the May-Flower, Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest. God willing! Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible winter, Letters written by Alden, and full of the name of Priscilla, Full of the name and fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla!
II. LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP.
Not HING was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling, Or an occasional sigh from the labouring heart of the Captain, Reading the marvellous words and achievements of Julius Caesar. After awhile he exclaimed, as he smote with his hand, palm downwards, Heavily on the page: “A wonderful man was o Caesar! You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow Who can both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful ?” Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the youthful: “Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and his weapons. Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate Seven letters at once. at the same time writing his memoirs.” “Truly,” continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other, “truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Sassar! Better he first, he said, in a little Iberian village, Than he second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it. Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after : Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand citics he conquered: He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded ; Final; he was stabbed by his friend, the orator rutus! Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders,
When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way too, And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together Their was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield from a soldier, Put himself straight, at the head of the troops, and commanded the captains, Calling on each by his name, to order forward the chsigns : Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons : So he won the day, the battle of something-orOther. That's what I always say: if you wish a thing to be well done, You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others :"
All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading. Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling Writing epistles important to go next day by the May-Flower, Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla: Every sentence began or closed with the name of Priscilla, Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the secret, Strove to betray, it by singing and shouting the name of Priscilla : Finally closing his book, with a bang of the ponerous cover, Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding his musket, Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth : “When you have finished your work, I have something important to tell you. I3e not however in haste: I can wait; I shall not be impatient." Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of his letters, Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful attention: “Speak; for whenever you speak, I am always ready to listen. Always, ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles Standish.” Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed, and culling his phrases: “'Tis not good for a man to be alone say the Scriptures. This I have said before, and again and again I repeat it: Every hour in the day I think it, and feel it, and say it. Since R. Standish died, my life has been weary and dreary: Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of friendship. Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden Priscilla. She is alone in the world; her father and mother and brother Died in the winter together; I saw her going and coming, Now to the grave of the dead, and now to the bed of the dying, Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to myself, that if ever There were angels on earth as there are angels in heaven, Two have I seen and known ; and the angel whose name is Priscilla Holds in my desolate life the place which the other abandoned. Long have I cherished the thought, but never have dared to reveal it. Being a coward in this, though valiant enough for the most part.
Go to the damsel Priscilla, the loveliest maiden of Plymouth, Say that a blunt old Captain, a man not of words but of actions, Offers his hand and his heart, the hand and heart of a soldier. Not in these words, you know. but this in short is my meaning: I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases. You, who are bred as a scholar, can say it in elegant language. Such as you read in your books of the pleadings and wooings of lovers, Such as you think best adapted to win the heart of a unaidem.”
When he had spoken, John Alden, the fair
haired taciturn stripling,
All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered,
Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject with lightness,
Trying to smile, and yet feeling his heart stand still in his bosom,
Just as a time-piece stoos in a house that is
stricken by lightning, Thus made answer and spuke, or rather stammered than answered: “Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and marit; If you would have it well done,—I am only repeating your maxim, You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others :" But with the air of a man whom nothing can turn from his purpose, Gravely shaking liis head, made answer the Captain of Plymouth : “Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay it: 13ut we must use it discrectly, and not waste powder for nothin Now, as I said before, phrases. I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to surrender, But march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare not. I'm not afraid of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a cannon, But of a thundering "No!" point-blank from the mouth of a woman, That I confess I'm afraid of, to confess it: So you must grant my request, for you are an elegant scholar, Ilaving the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of phrases." Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluctant and doubtful, Holding it long in his own, and pressing it kindly, he added: “Though I have spoken thus lightly, yet deep is the feeling that prompts me; Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our friendship!” Then made answer John Alden: “The name of friendship is sacred: What you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!" So the strong wils prevailed, subduing and moulding the gentler, Frieno prevailed over love, and Alden went on his errand.
r fwas never a maker of
nor am I ashamed
Into the tranquil woods, where blue-birds and robins were building Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of verdure, Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and freedom. All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict, Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous impulse. To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving and dashing, As in a tolering ship, with every roll of the vessel, Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean : “Must I relinquish it all,” he cried with a wild lumentation, “Must I relinquish it all,” the joy, the hope, the illusion? Was it for this I have loved, und waited, and worshipped in silence! Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the shadow Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New England 7 Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption Irise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion: Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of Satan. All is clear to me now ; 1 feel it, I see it distinctly! This is the hand of the Lord; it is laid upon me in anger, For I have followed too much the heart's desires and devices, Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idiols of loaul. This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift retribution.”
So through the l’lymouth woods John Alden went on his errand, Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled over pebble and shallow Gathering still, as he went, the May-flowers blooming around him, Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful sweetness, Children lost in the woods, and covered with leaves in their slumber. “Puritan flowers,” he said, “and the type of Puritan maidens, Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I take them: Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither and perish, Soon o be thrown away as is the heart of a giver.” So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand: Came to an open space, and saw the dirsk of the Ocean, Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath of the east-wind: Saw the new-built house, and people at work in a meadow : Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of Priscilla Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem, Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalmist, Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting many. Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden Seated, beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift
Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ruvenous spindle,
While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its motion. Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalmbook of Ainsworth, IPrinted in Mosterdam, the words and the music together, Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of a churchyard, l)arkened and overhung by the running vine of the verses. Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan anthem. She, the Puritan girl, in th9 solitude of the forest, Making the humble house and the modest apparel of home-spun IBeautiful with her beauty, and rich with the wealth of her being: Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold and relentless, Thoughts of what might have been, and the weight and woe of his erraud : All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had vanished, All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless mansion, haun; by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful aces. Still he * to himself, and almost fiercely he sa * “Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough look backwards: Though the ploughshare cut through the flowers of life to its fountains, Though it pass o'er the graves of the dead and the hearths of the living, It is the will of the Lord; and his mercy endureth for ever!”
So he entered the house: and the hum of the wheel and the singing Suddenly ceased, for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the threshold, IRose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome, Saying, “I knew it was you when I heard your step in the passage; For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning.” Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been iningled Thus in the sacred psalin, that came from the heart of the maiden, Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an answer. Finding no words for his thoughts. bered that day in the winter. After the first great snow, when he broko a path from the village, Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encumbered the doorway, Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house. and iPriscilla Laughed at his snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the fireside, Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the snow-storin. Ilad he but spoken then perhaps not in vain had he spoken: Now it was all too late: the golden mement had vanished : ~ So he stood there abashed, and gave her the flowers for an answer.
Then they sat dowu and talked of tho birds
and the beautiful Spring-time,
Talked of their friends at home, and the MayFlower that sailed on the morrow.
“I have been thinking all day,” said gently the Puritan maidcn,
“Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedge-rows of Fngland,
They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a gardcil :
Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of letters.-Did he not embellish the thcline, nor array lt in beautiful phrases But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a schoolboy: Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly. Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with wonder, Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her speechless; Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting tho ominous silence: “If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager towed me, Why does, he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me? If I am not worth, the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning !” Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter, Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy, Had no time for such things;—such things! the words grating harshly. Fell on the car of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made answer: “Has, he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is married, Would he be likely to find it, or make It, after the wedding: That is the way with you men; you don't understand us, you cannot. When you, have made up your minds, after thinking of this one and that one, Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one with another, Then you make kuown your desire, with abrupt ind sudden avowal. And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps, that a woman Does not respond at onco to a love that she never suspected, I)oes not attain at a bound the height to which you have been climbing. This is not right nor just: for surely a woman's affection Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the asking. When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.