Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

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, –

285 Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful

phrases, But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like

a school-boy; Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it

more bluntly. Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puri

tan maiden Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with wonder,

290 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 !”

295 Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing

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,

300 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 abrupt and sudden avowal,

305 And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps,

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 affec

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

310 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,

315 Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading,

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 Cap

tain of Plymouth;

320

He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedigree

plainly Back to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in Lanca

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

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

frauded, Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest a

cock argent Combed and wattled gules, and all the rest of the blazon.

325 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 gentle as

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

headstrong,

824 Family arms: if a man belonged to a family of the nobility, or was knighted for bravery in war, he and his sons were permitted to wear upon their shields a design of some sort to distinguish them in battle. This design usually contained the head or the whole body of some animal. That of Standish was evidently a cock argent, that is, silver-colored or white, with comb and wattles gule, that is, red.

825 Blazon: the word means the description of a coat of arms.

330

Stern as a soldier might be, but hearty, and placable

always, Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he was little

of stature; For he was great of heart, magnanimous, courtly,

courageous; Any woman in Plymouth, nay, any woman in Eng.

land, Might be happy and proud to be called the wife of

Miles Standish !

335

But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and

eloquent language, Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his

rival, Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes overrunning

with laughter, Said, in a tremulous voice, “Why don't you speak for

yourself, John ?

IV

JOHN ALDEN

Into the open air John Alden, perplexed and bewil

dered, Rushed like a man insane, and wandered alone by the

sea-side;

340

D

« ПредишнаНапред »