Графични страници
PDF файл

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


Thereupon answered the youth: “Indeed I do not condemn you;

280 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, –

285 Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful

phrases, But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a

school-boy; 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, 290 Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and ren

dered her speechless; Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous

silence: “If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed


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!”

295 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,

300 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,

305 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 Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the ask

ing. When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows


[ocr errors]

Had he but waited awhile, had he only showed that he loved


Even this Captain of yours — who knows? — at last might

have won me, Old 1 and rough as he is; but now it never can happen."


Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Pris

cilla, Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, ex

panding; Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his battles in

Flanders, How with the people of God he had chosen to suffer affliction, How, in return for his zeal, they had made him Captain of

Plymouth; He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedigree plainly 320 Back to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in Lancashire,

England, Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson of Thurston

de Standish; Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely defrauded, 2 Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest a cock

argent Combed and wattled gules, and all the rest of the blazon.: 325 He was a man of honor, of noble and generous nature; Though he was rough, he was kindly; she knew how during

the winter He had attended the sick, with a hand as gentle as woman's;

1 He was about thirty-six years of age at this time.

? The loss of these estates is supposed to have influenced his decision with regard to joining the Pilgrims.

3 Noble families were entitled to use a coat of arms. This was a certain device wrought, at first, in the coat of mail but, at a later period, on the shield. A silver cock with a red comb and wattles, appended to the family shield, was the crest of the Standish family. The word blazon means, comprehensively, every part of the design which constitutes a coat of arms.

[ocr errors]


Somewhat hasty and hot, he could not deny it, and head

strong, Stern as a soldier might be, but hearty, and placable

always, Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he was little of

stature; For he was great of heart, magnanimous, courtly, courageous; Any woman in Plymouth, nay, any woman in England, Might be happy and proud to be called the wife of Miles


But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language,

335 Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival, Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes overrunning with

laughter, Said, in a tremulous voice, “Why don't you speak for your

self, John?"

[ocr errors][merged small]

Into the open air John Alden, perplexed and bewildered, Rushed like a man insane, and wandered alone by the sea-side;

340 Paced up and down the sands, and bared his head to the

east-wind, Cooling his heated brow, and the fire and fever within

him. Slowly, as out of the heavens, with apocalyptical splendors, Sank the City of God, in the vision of John the Apostle, So, with its cloudy walls of chrysolite, jasper, and sap- .


[ocr errors]

Sank the broad red sun, and over its turrets uplifted Glimmered the golden reed of the angel who measured the


“Welcome, O wind of the East!” he exclaimed in his wild

exultation, “Welcome, O wind of the East, from the caves of the misty

Atlantic! Blowing o'er fields of dulse,' and measureless meadows of sea-grass,

350 Blowing o'er rocky wastes, and the grottos and gardens of

ocean! Lay thy cold, moist hand on my burning forehead, and

wrap me Close in thy garments of mist, to allay the fever within

[ocr errors]

Like an awakened conscience, the sea was moaning and

tossing, Beating remorseful and loud the mutable sands of the seashore.

355 Fierce in his soul was the struggle and tumult of passions

contending; Love triumphant and crowned, and friendship wounded and

bleeding, Passionate cries of desire, and importunate pleadings of

duty! “Is it my fault," he said, "that the maiden has chosen be

tween us? Is it my fault that he failed, - my fault that I am the victor?

360 i Dulse is a form of seaweed that grows in long strips; it is red in color. In Nova Scotia and Scotland the people use it as food.

« ПредишнаНапред »