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“Ah, by these words, I can see," again interrupted the

maiden, “How very little you prize me, or care for what I am saying. When from the depths of my heart, in pain and with secret

misgiving, Frankly I speak to you, asking for sympathy only and

kindness, Straightway you take up my words, that are plain and

direct and in earnest, Turn them away from their meaning, and answer with

flattering phrases. This is not right, is not just, is not true to the best that is

in you; For I know and esteem you, and feel that your nature is

noble, Lifting mine up to a higher, a more ethereal level. 675 Therefore I value your friendship, and feel it perhaps the

more keenly If you say aught that implies I am only as one among

many, If you make use of those common and complimentary phrases Most men think so fine, in dealing and speaking with women, But which women reject as insipid, if not as insulting.” 680

Mute and amazed was Alden; and listened and looked at

Priscilla, Thinking he never had seen her more fair, more divine in

her beauty. He who but yesterday pleaded so glibly the cause of another, Stood there embarrassed and silent, and seeking in vain for

an answer. So the maiden went on, and little divined or imagined 685 What was at work in his heart, that made him so awkward

and speechless.

“Let us, then, be what we are, and speak what we think,

and in all things Keep ourselves loyal to truth, and the sacred professions of

friendship. It is no secret I tell you, nor am I ashamed to declare it: I have liked to be with you, to see you, to speak with you always.

690 So I was hurt at your words, and a little affronted to hear

you Urge me to marry your friend, though he were the Captain

Miles Standish. For I must tell you the truth: much more to me is your

friendship Than all the love he could give, were he twice the hero you

think him.” Then she extended her hand, and Alden, who eagerly

grasped it, Felt all the wounds in his heart, that were aching and bleed

ing so sorely, Healed by the touch of that hand, and he said, with a voice

full of feeling: Yes, we must ever be friends; and of all who offer you

friendship Let me be ever the first, the truest, the nearest and dearest!"

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Casting a farewell look at the glimmering sail of the Mayflower

700 Distant, but still in sight, and sinking below the horizon, Homeward together they walked, with a strange, indefinite

feeling, That all the rest had departed and left them alone in the

desert. But, as they went through the fields in the blessing and

smile of the sunshine,

Lighter grew their hearts, and Priscilla said very archly: 705 "Now that our terrible Captain has gone in pursuit of the

Indians, Where he is happier far than he would be commanding a

household, You may speak boldly, and tell me of all that happened

between you, When you returned last night, and said how ungrateful you

found me." Thereupon answered John Alden, and told her the whole of the story, —

710 Told her his own despair, and the direful wrath of Miles

Standish. Whereat the maiden smiled, and said between laughing and

earnest, “He is a little chimney, and heated hot in a moment!" But as he gently rebuked her, and told her how he had

suffered, How he had even determined to sail that day in the Mayflower,

715 And had remained for her sake, on hearing the dangers that

threatened, — All her manner was changed, and she said with a faltering

accent, “Truly I thank you for this: how good you have been to

me always!”

Thus, as a pilgrim devout, who toward Jerusalem journeys, Taking three steps in advance, and one reluctantly backward,

720

1 During the Middle Ages, pilgrims went to the Holy Land to visit the sacred places. They practised the greatest austerity on the journey. Kings and noblemen assumed the rough gown of the pilgrim, and traveled in poverty and humility.

Urged by importunate zeal, and withheld by pangs of con

trition; Slowly but steadily onward, receding yet ever advancing, Journeyed this Puritan youth to the Holy Land of his long

ings, Urged by the fervor of love, and withheld by remorseful

misgivings.

VII

THE MARCH OF MILES STANDISH Meanwhile the stalwart Miles Standish was marching steadily northward,

725 Winding through forest and swamp, and along the trend of

the sea-shore, All day long, with hardly a halt, the fire of his anger Burning and crackling within, and the sulphurous odor of . powder Seeming more sweet to his nostrils than all the scents of the

forest. Silent and moody he went, and much he revolved his discomfort;

730 He who was used to success, and to easy victories always, Thus to be flouted, rejected, and laughed to scorn by a

maiden, Thus to be mocked and betrayed by the friend whom most

he had trusted! Ah! 'twas too much to be borne, and he fretted and chafed

in his armor!

“I alone am to blame," he muttered, “for mine was the

folly.

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What has a rough old soldier, grown grim and gray in the

harness, Used to the camp and its ways, to do with the wooing of

maidens? 'Twas but a dream, — let it pass, - let it vanish like so

many others! What I thought was a flower, is only a weed, and is worthless; Out of my heart will I pluck it, and throw it away, and

henceforward Be but a fighter of battles, a lover and wooer of dangers.” Thus he revolved in his mind his sorry defeat and discomfort, While he was marching by day or lying at night in the forest, Looking up at the trees and the constellations beyond them.

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After a three days' march he came to an Indian encampment

745 Pitched on the edge of a meadow, between the sea and the

forest; Women at work by the tents, and warriors, horrid with

war-paint, Seated about a fire, and smoking and talking together; Who, when they saw from afar the sudden approach of the

white men, Saw the flash of the sun on breastplate and sabre and musket,

750 Straightway leaped to their feet, and two, from among them

advancing, Came to parley with Standish, and offer him furs as a

present; Friendship was in their looks, but in their hearts there was

hatred. Braves of the tribe were these, and brothers, gigantic in stature,

1 Grown gray in the tasks of war.

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