Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

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

others ?”

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

Priscilla, 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 pon

derous cover, Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier ground

ing his musket,

Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the

Captain of Plymouth: “When you have finished your work, I have some

thing important to tell you. Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not

be impatient !" 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 : “T is 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.

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

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

coming, Now to the grave of the dead, and now to the

bed of the dying, Patient, courageous, and strong, and said to my

self, that if ever 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 abandoned. 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 soldier.

Not in these words, you know, but this in short is

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

elegant language, 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.”

[ocr errors]

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 sub

ject 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 stam

mered 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 Cap

tain 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 surrender, 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! So you must grant my request, for you are an

elegant scholar,

« ПредишнаНапред »