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Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of friend
Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden
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 myself, that if ever
There were angels on earth, as there are angels in
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 Ply
Say that a blunt old Captain, a man not of words but of
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
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 fair-haired, taciturn stripling,
All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewildered, Trying to mask his dismay by treating the subject with light
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 an
Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and
If you would have it well done,
I am only repeating
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
Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Captain of Plymouth:]
Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay
But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for
Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of phrases. I can march up to a fortress and summon the place to
But march up to a woman with such a proposal, I dare
I'm not afraid of bullets, nor shot from the mouth of a
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 con
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!
The name of friendship is sacred; you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!
So then I leave it to you, this errand of love to Priscilla. You will do it so well that the answer will be to my liking.
[All around him was calm, but within him commotion and
Love contending with friendship, and self with each generous
To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving and dash
As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the vessel, Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean! "Must I relinquish it all," he cried with a wild lamentation,]
Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion?
Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped in silence?
Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the
Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New England?
Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of corruption
Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion;
All is clear to me now; I feel it, I see it distinctly!
For I have followed too much the heart's desires and devices,
Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of Baal. This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift ret[Looking at flowers on the table.
Puritan flowers, fresh and pure like Puritan maidens, Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of Pris
So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the Mayflower
Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I
Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither
Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the giver. [Exit John, with flowers.
SCENE II. Priscilla's House.
PRISCILLA (at window).
There is the shadowy form of the Mayflower riding at anchor,
Rocked on the rising tide and ready to sail on the mor
Ready to sail on the morrow or next day at latest, God
Homeward bound with the tidings of all this terrible [Goes to the wheel, and sings and spins.
[Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of Priscilla
Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan anthem, Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalmist, Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comforting
Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden
Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow
Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous
While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its motion.
Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of Ains