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Solid, substantial, of timber rough-hewn from the firs of the forest. Wooden-barred was the door, and the roof was covered with rushes ; Latticed the windows were, and the windowpanes were of paper, Oiled to admit the light, while wind and rain were excluded. There too he dug a well, and around it planted an orchard: Still may be seen to this day some trace of the well and the orchard. Close to the house was the stall, where, safe and secure from annoyance, Raghorn, the snow-white steer, that had fallen to Alden’s allotment In the division of cattle, might ruminate in the / night-time Over the pastures he cropped, made fragrant by sweet pennyroyal.
Oft when his labor was finished, with eager feet would the dreamer Follow the pathway that ran through the woods to the house of Priscilla, Led by illusions romantic and subtile deceptions of fancy, Pleasure disguised as duty, and love in the semblance of friendship. Ever of her he thought, when he fashioned the walls of his dwelling; Ever of her he thought, when he delved in the soil of his garden; Ever of her he thought, when he read in his Bible on Sunday Praise of the virtuous woman, as she is described in the Proverbs,- or How the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her always, How all the days of her life she will do him
good, and not evil,
How she seeketh the wool and the flax and worketh with gladness, How she layeth her hand to the spindle and holdeth the distaff, How she is not afraid of the snow for herself or her household, Knowing her household are clothed with the
scarlet cloth of her weaving!
So as she sat at her wheel one afternoon in
Alden, who opposite sat, and was watching her dexterous fingers,
As if the thread she was spinning were that of his life and his fortune,
After a pause in their talk, thus spake to the sound of the spindle.
“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 ; You are no longer Priscilla, but Bertha the Beautiful Spinner.” Here the light foot on the treadle grew swifter and swifter; the spindle 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, Who, as she rode on her palfrey, o'er valley and meadow and mountain, Ever was spinning her thread from a distaff fixed to her saddle. She was so thrifty and good, that her name
passed into a proverb.
So shall it be with your own, when the spinning-wheel shall no longer Hum in the house of the farmer, and fill its chambers with music. Then shall the mothers, reproving, relate how it was in their childhood, Praising the good old times, and the days of Priscilla the spinner l’” 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.