« ПредишнаНапред »
Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered
the house, and Priscilla 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-storm. Had he but spoken then! perhaps not in vain
had he spoken; Now it was all too late; the golden moment
had vanished! So he stood there abashed, and gave her the
flowers for an answer.
Then they sat down and talked of the birds
and the beautiful Spring-time, Talked of their friends at home, and the May
Flower that sailed on the morrow. "I have been thinking all day," said gently
the Puritan maiden, "Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of
the hedge-rows of England, —
They are in blossom now, and the country is
all like a garden; Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of
the lark and the linnet, Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of
neighbors Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip
together, And, at the end of the street, the village church,
with the ivy Climbing the old gray tower, and the quiet
graves in the churchyard. Kind are the people I live with, and dear to
me my religion; Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back
in Old England. You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it:
I almost Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so
lonely and wretched."
Thereupon answered the youth: — " Indeed
I do not condemn you; Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in
this terrible winter. Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a
stronger to lean on; So I have come to you now, with an offer and
proffer of marriage Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish
the Captain of Plymouth!"
Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous
writer of letters, — Did not embellish the theme, nor array it 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
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 the
ominous silence: "If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very
eager to wed 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 ear 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 known your desire, with abrupt and sudden avowal,
And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps, that a woman
Does not respond at once to a love that she never suspected,
Does 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