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VI
PRISCILLA

Thus for a while he stood, and mused by the shore

of the ocean,

Thinking of many things, and most of all of Priscilla;

And as if thought had the power to draw to itself, like the loadstone,

Whatsoever it touches, by subtile laws of its nature, 630

L0! as he turned to depart, Priscilla was standing beside him.

“Are you so much ofiended, you will not speak to me ‘.7 ” said she. “Am I so much to blame, that yesterday, when you were pleading

9 Loadstone: sometimes spelled lodestone, and also called a magnet. It is a piece of iron ore which is capable of attracting other pieces of iron. It was put to its most famous use after it was learned that a needle made of it and suspended so that it could move freely, pointed steadily to the north. From this was constructed the mariner’s compass, by the use of which sailors may direct the course of their ship out of sight of land. Thus the mod ern art of navigation was made possible.

Warmly the cause of another, my heart, impulsive and wayward,

Pleaded your own, and spake out, forgetful perhaps of decorum ? 63 5

Certainly you can forgive me for speaking so frankly, for saying

What I ought not to have said, yet now I can never unsay it;

For there are moments in life, when the heart is so full of emotion,

That if by chance it be shaken, or into its depths like

a pebble Drops some careless word, it overflows, and its secret, 64o

Spilt on the ground like water, can never be gathered together.

Yesterday I was shocked, when I heard you speak of Miles Standish,

Praising his virtues, transforming his very defects into virtues,

Praising his courage and strength, and even his fighting in Flanders,

As if by fighting alone you could win the heart of a woman, 64; Quite overlooking yourself and the rest, in exalting your hero.

'41 Spilt on the ground like water: look up II Samuel xiv. 14.

Therefore I spake as I did, by an irresistible im pulse.

You will forgive me, I hope, for the sake of the friend ship between us,

Which is too true and too sacred to be so easily

broken!”

Thereupon answered John Alden, the scholar, the friend of Miles Standish: 650

“I was not angry with you, with myself alone I was angry,

Seeing how badly I managed the matter I had in my keeping.”

“No!” interrupted the maiden, with answer prompt and decisive ;

“No; you were angry with me, for speaking so frankly and freely.

It was wrong, I acknowledge; for it is the fate of a woman - 655

Long to be patient and silent, to wait like a ghost that is speechless,

Till some questioning voice dissolves the spell of its silence.

656-657 The tradition is that a ghost cannot address any one until it is spoken to.

Hence is the inner life of so many suffering women

Sunless and silent and deep, like subterranean rivers

Running through caverns of darkness, unheard, unseen, and unfruitful, 66o

Chafing their channels of stone, with endless and profitless murmurs.”

Thereupon answered John Alden, the young man, the lover of women:

“Heaven forbid it, Priscilla; and truly they seem to me always

More like the beautiful rivers that watered the garden of Eden, -.

More like the river Euphrates, through deserts of Havilah flowing, 665

Filling the land with delight, and memories sweet of the garden I ”

“Ah, by these words, I can see,” again interrupted the maiden,

4 Rivers of Eden: look up Genesis ii. 10-14. From these rivers, where is the Garden of Eden supposed to have been located?

665 Havilah: names are often duplicated in Bible history. For instance, there are two iEthiopias, one lying about the southern portion of the Caspian Sea and one in Africa. So, too, there was one Havilah directly east of Egypt on the coast of the Mediterranean, and another, as the text shows, along the course of the Euphrates River.

"How very little you prize me, or care for what I am saying.

When from the depths of my heart, in pain and with secret misgiving,

Frankly I speak to you, asking for sympathy only and kindness, 67o

Straightway you take up my words, that are plain and direct and in earnest,

Turn them away from their meaning, and answer with flattering phrases.

This is not right, is not just, is not true to the best that is in you;

For I know and esteem you, and feel that your nature

is noble, Lifting mine up to a higher, a more ethereal level. 675

Therefore I value your friendship, and feel it perhaps the more keenly

If you say aught that implies I am only as one among many,

If you make use of those common and complimentary phrases

Most men think so fine, in dealing and speaking with women,

But which women reject as insipid, if not as insulting.” 68::

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