Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Thereupon answered the youth: -“Indeed

I do not condemn you ; Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in

this terrible winter. Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a

stronger to lean on; So I have come to you now, with an offer and

proffer of marriage Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish

the Captain of Plymouth!”

Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous

writer of letters, Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in

beautiful phrases, But came straight to the point, and blurted it

out like a schoolboy ; Even the Captain himself could hardly have

said it more bluntly. Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the

Puritan maiden

Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with

wonder, Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned

her and rendered her speechless; Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the

ominous silence : “If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very

eager to wed me, Why does he not come himself, and take the

trouble to woo me? If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not

worth the winning !” Then John Alden began explaining and smooth

ing the matter, Making it worse as he went, by saying the

Captain was busy, — Had no time for such things;— such things !

the words grating harshly Fell on the ear of Priscilla ; and swift as a

flash she made answer:

“ Has he no time for such things, as you call it,

before he is married, Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after

the wedding ? That is the

way
with

you men; you don't understand us, you cannot. When you have made up your minds, after

thinking of this one and that one, Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one

with another, Then you make known your desire, with ab

rupt and sudden avowal, And are offended and hurt, and indignant per

haps, that a woman Does not respond at once to a love that she

never suspected, Does not attain at a bound the height to which

you have been climbing. This is not right nor just: for surely a woman's

affection

Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only

the asking When one is truly in love, one not only says it,

but shows it. Had he but waited awhile, had he only showed

that he loved me, Even this Captain of yours — who knows? –

at last might have won me, Old and rough as he is; but now it never

can happen."

Still John Alden went on, unheeding the

words of Priscilla, Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, per

suading, expanding; Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his

battles in Flanders, How with the people of God he had chosen to

suffer affliction, How, in return for his zeal, they had made him

Captain of Plymouth ;

He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedi

gree plainly Back to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in

Lancashire, England, Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson

of Thurston de Standish; Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely

defrauded, Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest

a cock argent Combed and wattled gules, and all the rest of

the blazon. He was a man of honor, of noble and generous

nature; Though he was rough, he was kindly; she

knew how during the winter He had attended the sick, with a hand as gen

tle as woman's; Somewhat hasty and hot, he could not deny it,

and headstrong,

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »