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But of a thundering "No!" point-blank from
the mouth of a woman, That I confess I ?m afraid of, nor am I ashamed
to confess it! So you must grant my request, for you are an
elegant scholar, Having 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 will prevailed, subduing and
moulding the gentler, Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went
on his errand.
THE LOVER S ERRAND.
So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand,
Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of the forest,
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 foundering 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
lamentation, "Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the
illusion? Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and
x 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? Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its
depths of corruption
Rise, 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; I 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 idols of Baal.
This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift retribution."
So through the Plymouth 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,