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As if the thread she was spinning were that of his life and his fortune,
“Truly, Priscilla,” he said, "when I see you spinning and spinning,
Never idle a moment, but thrifty and thoughtful of others,
Suddenly you are transformed, are visibly changed in a moment;
Uttered an angry snarl, and the thread snapped short in her fingers ;
While the impetuous speaker, not heeding the mischief, continued:
“You are the beautiful Bertha, the spinner, the queen of Helvetia ;
She whose story I read at a stall in the streets of Southampton,
She was so thrifty and good, that her name passed into a proverb.
Then shall the mothers, reproving, relate how it was in their childhood,
Praising the good old times, and the days of Priscilla, the spinner !"
Straight uprose from her wheel the beautiful Puritan maiden,
Pleased with the praise of her thrift from him whose praise was the sweetest,
Drew from the reel on the table a snowy skein of her spinning,
Thus making answer, meanwhile, to the flattering phrases of Alden:
“Come, you must not be idle; if I am a pattern for housewives,
Show yourself equally worthy of being the model of husbands.
Then who knows but hereafter, when fashions have changed and the manners,
Fathers may talk to their sons of the good old times of John Alden !"
Thus, with a jest and a laugh, the skein on his hands she adjusted,
He sitting awkwardly there, with his arms extended before him,
She standing graceful, erect, and winding the thread from his fingers,
Sometimes chiding a little his clumsy manner of holding,
Twist or knot in the yarn, unawares—for how could she help it?
Sending electrical thrills through every nerve in his body.
Lo! in the midst of this scene, a breathless messenger entered, Bringing in hurry and heat the terrible news from the village.
Yes ; Miles Standish was dead
an Indian had brought them the tidings,
Slain by a poisoned arrow, shot down in the front of the battle,
All the town would be burned, and all the people be murdered!
Such were the tidings of evil that burst on the hearts of the hearers.
But John Alden, upstarting, as if the barb of the arrow
Piercing the heart of his friend had struck his own, and had sundered
Once and for ever the bonds that held him bound as a captive,
Wild with excess of sensation, the awful delight of his freedom,
Mingled with pain and regret, unconscious of what he was doing, Clasped, almost with a groan, the motionless form of Priscilla,
Pressing her close to his heart, as for ever his own, and exclaiming:
“Those whom the Lord hath united, let no man put them asunder!"
Even as rivulets twain, from distant and separate sources,
Seeing each other afar, as they leap from the rocks, and pursuing
Each one its devious path, but drawing nearer and nearer,
Rush together at last, at their trysting-place in the forest ;