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Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their

weapons ; So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other. That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be

well done,

You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to

others !"

115

All was silent again; the Captain continued his

reading Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen

of the stripling Writing epistles important to go next day by the

Mayflower, Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan

maiden Priscilla; Every sentence began or closed with the name of

Priscilla, Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the

secret, Strove to betray it by singing and shouting the name

of Priscilla ! Finally closing his book, with a bang of the ponderous

cover, Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding

his musket,

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125

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130

Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Cap

tain of Plymouth: “When you have finished your work, I have something

important to tell you. . Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not be

impatient!” Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of his

letters, Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful at

tention : “Speak; for whenever you speak, I am always ready

to listen,
Always ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles

Standish.”
Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed, and

culling his phrases:
“ 'Tis not good for a man to be alone, say the Scriptures.
This I have said before, and again and again I repeat it;
Every hour in the day, I think it, and feel it, and say it.
Since Rose Standish died, my life has been weary and
dreary ;

136 Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of

friendship Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the maiden

Priscilla.

183 Look up Genesis ii. 18.

140

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

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.

145 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.

150 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.”

155

When he had spoken, John Alden, the fair-haired,

taciturn stripling, All aghast at his words, surprised, embarrassed, bewil

dered, 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;

160

162 Maker of phrases: explain what this means.

156-159 Why is Alden disturbed by the Captain's request? What would have been the wisest thing for him to do under the circumstances ?

160 Timepiece stops: a belief without much foundation in fact.

165

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 gain

say 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!' 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,

175

170

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