Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

22 THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH.

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.”

When he had spoken, John Alden, the fairhaired, taciturn stripling, All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered, Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject 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 stammered 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 Captain 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 l’’ 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, Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of phrases.” Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluctant and doubtful, Holding it long in his own, and pressing it kindly, he added: “Though I have spoken thus lightly, yet deep is the feeling that prompts me; Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our friendship!” Then made answer John Alden : “The name of friendship is sacred; What you demand in that name, I have not the

power to deny you !”

So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding the gentler, Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went

on his errand.

« ПредишнаНапред »