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Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village,
Than be 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 cities he

conquered; He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded;2 Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus!3 105 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 Legiono was crowded so closely

together There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield

from a soldier, Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and com

manded the captains, Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns; Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their

weapons; So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other. That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well

done, 1 In ancient times, Spain was called Iberia.

2 Cæsar's most brilliant victory was the defeat of the Nervii, a barbarous tribe inhabiting that part of Flanders which is now called Belgium.

* This is Marcus Junius Brutus, a Roman general. He held various offices in the Republic: Senator, City Prætor, Governor of Cisalpine Gaul. Influenced by the other conspirators, he believed that the welfare of his country demanded the death of Cæsar, so he took part in the assassination: “Therefore 'tis meet that noble minds keep ever with their likes." Shakespeare's Julius Cæsar.

4 A legion was one of the divisions of the Roman army. In the time of Cæsar it consisted of about six thousand men.

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You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to

others!

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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 Mayflower, Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden

Priscilla; Every sentence began or closed with the name of Pris

cilla, 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 ponderous 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 im

portant to tell you. Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not be im

patient!" 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.

Genesis, ii. 18.

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Since Rose 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 Pris

cilla. She is alone in the world; her father and mother and

brother Died in the winter together; I saw her going and coming, 140 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

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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 aban

doned. 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 sol

dier. Not in these words, you know, but this in short is my mean

ing; I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases. You, who are bred as a scholar, can say it in elegant lan

guage, 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

maiden."

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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 timepiece stops in a house that is stricken by

lightning, Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered than

answered: "Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and

mar it; 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 his head, made answer the Captain of

Plymouth: "Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay

it; But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for

nothing. Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of phrases. I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to sur

render, 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, nor am I ashamed to

confess it!

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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.

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III

THE LOVER'S ERRAND

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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,

1 There was but one street in the village. At the time of our story there were only eleven buildings: seven dwelling houses, two storehouses, a common house, and the fort. Miles Standish occupied the house at the end of the street, nearest the fort. Old pictures show the houses arranged on both sides of the street, Governor Bradford's place being slightly more imposing than its neighbors.

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