Графични страници
PDF файл

death of her father, mother and brother. He pities, or thinks he does, as well as loves Priscilla and foolishly sends John Alden to carry his proposal to her. John Alden is himself in love with Priscilla and is very reluctant indeed to be the bearer of this proposal, but when Miles Standish urges the argument of friendship, John Alden, true to his Puritan ideals, puts self in the background and goes to transact the delicate business for his friend as best he can. He reaches Priscilla with mayflowers in hand and is immediately struck dumb by her cordial greeting. But John Alden is a hero and he seizes the first opportunity to declare Miles Standish's love for her, although he does it with the speed of a race horse and with a bluntness of which the Captain himself was incapable. Priscilla is decidedly piqued by the second-hand proposal, and not only refuses the offer of Miles Standish, but chides John Alden somewhat severely for pressing his friend's suit, although John Alden argues strongly that Miles Standish, being a busy man of affairs, has no time for such things. The climax is reached in the love scene by Priscilla asking John Alden the disconcerting question, “Why don't you speak for yourself, John P” John Alden pays no attention whatever to the tender hint from the fair Priscilla, except to rush frantically from her home and pace up and down the seashore until his temperature is restored to normal and his disturbed mind is once more calm so he is able to return to Miles Standish's home and relate to him the outcome of his visit. Miles Standish thinks he sees in Priscilla's refusal, most accurately described by Alden, a suggestion of deceit on the part of John Alden, and after wildly denouncing the unwilling bearer of his love message, Miles Standish dashes off to a meeting of the Council, and soon after on an expedition to fight the Indians, which seemed much more in keeping with the man than was the wooing of the maiden. After things had quieted down in the settlement, the news is brought that Miles Standish is dead. John Alden then feels perfectly free to woo and wed the fair Priscilla, and this he proceeds to do without delay. The wedding is arranged for and soon takes place. While the simple service is in progress Miles Standish returns and is an uninvited spectator. Several times he came very near breaking in upon the service, as we would rather expect him to do, in much the same manner as he would break into an Indian encampment, but he restrains himself, and at the close of the service shows his big, kind heart, though hidden beneath a somewhat rough exterior, by wishing the bride much joy and praising her husband. Thus the scenes in the poem end. There are surprises in store for Miles Standish, as the good ship “Fortune” is soon to arrive and bring to him from the old world a certain Barbara with whom his suit is far more successful than with that of Priscilla, and with whom he is to live many happy years, and who is to be the mother of six lusty children. All ends satisfactorily to all concerned, and Miles Standish was heard to remark, so tradition tells us, some time afterward, that he would not swap his Barbara for a dozen Priscillas with John Alden thrown in. “All the world loves a lover,” so all the world loves this poem and this quaint, beautiful story. In these days when many a home is broken up by the lack of just the qualities we find in these old-fashioned people, the reading of the poem would prove a most beneficial tonic to every reader who loves a home.

AUSTEN T. KEMPTON.

I.
MILES STANDISH.

IN the Old Colony days, in Plymouth, the land of the Pilgrims, To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling, Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather, Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish, the Puritan Captain. Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and pausing Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare, Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber, Cutlass and corslet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus, Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence, While underneath, in a corner, were fowling-piece, musket, and matchlock.

Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic, Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron; Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November. Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and household companion, Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window; Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion, Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the captives Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, “Not Angles but Angels.” Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the Mayflower.

4.

Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting, Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish, the Captain of Plymouth.

“Look at these arms,” he said, “the warlike weapons that hang here

Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection' '

This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; this breastplate,

[graphic]
« ПредишнаНапред »