Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

Mute and amazed was Alden; and listened and looked at Priscilla, \fil’hinking he never had seen her more fair, more divine in her beauty. He who but yesterday pleaded so glibly the cause of another, . Stood there embarrassed and silent, and seeking in vain for an answer. . So the maiden went on, and little divined or imagined 685 What was at work in his heart, that made him so awkward and speechless. “Let us, then, be what we are, and speak what we think, and in all things Keep ourselves loyal to truth, and the sacred professions of friendship. It is no secret I tell you, nor am I ashamed to declare it: I have liked to be with you, to see you, to speak with you always. 690 So I was hurt at your words, and a little aflronted to hear you Urge me to marry your friend, though he were the Captain Miles Standish. For I must tell you the truth: much more to me is your friendship

Than all the love he could give, were he twice the hero you think him.” Then she extended her hand, and Alden, who eagerly

[ocr errors]

Felt all the wounds in his heart, that were aching and . bleeding so sorely, Healed by the touch of that hand, and he said, with a voice full of feeling : “Yes, we must ever be friends; and of all who offer you friendship

'Let me be ever the first, the truest, the nearest and

[ocr errors]

Casting a farewell look at the glimmering sail of the Mayflower 70o Distant, but still in sight, and sinking below the horizon, Homeward together they walked, with a strange, indefinite feeling, That all the rest had departed and left them alone in ' the desert. But, as they went through the fields in the blessing and smile of the sunshine, Lighter grew their hearts, and Priscilla said very archly: 705 “Now that our terrible Captain has gone in pursuit

of the Indians,
F

[graphic]

Where he is happier far than he would be commanding a household,

.You may speak boldly, and tell me of all that hap

pened between you,

When you returned last night, and said how ungrateful you found me.”

Thereupon answered John Alden, and told her the whole of the story,— 710

Told her his own despair, and the direful wrath of Miles Standish.

Whereat the maiden smiled, and said between laughing and earnest,

“ He is a little chimney, and heated hot in a moment!”

But as he gently rebuked her, and told her hw he had suffered, —

How he had even determined to sail that day in the Mayflower, 715

And had remained for her sake, on hearing the dangers that threatened, —

All her manner was changed, and she said with a faltering accent,

“Truly I thank you for this: how good you have been to me always!”

Thus, as a pilgrim devout, who toward Jerusalem journeys,

Taking three steps in advance, and one reluctantly backward, ‘ 72o

Urged by importunate zeal, and withheld by pangs of contrition;

Slowly but steadily onward, receding yet ever advanc111g)

J ourneyed this Puritan youth to the Holy Land of his longings,

Urged by the fervor of love, and withheld by remorse-/ ’ I

ful misgivings.

VII

THE MARCH OF MILES STANDISH

Meanwhile the stalwart Miles Standish was marching steadily northward, 725

719-724 Give-in your own words the meaning of this paragraph.

723 Holy Land: what is itsI geographical name‘? Where is it? Why was it called the Holy Land ‘2 .

725 Northward: this was an expedition against the Indians which Miles Standish undertook in 1623 instead of 1621. But it suits the story better to bring it in here. A friend of the Pilgrims in London, a Mr. Weston, had sent out a colony of his own which settled at about the present location of Weymouth. This colony was not composed of very sensible men, and they were faring badly at the hands of their Indian neighbors. Out of friendship for the founder of the colony, the Pilgrims sent Standish and his little band to their assistance. Eventually, a few of Weston’s men joined the Pilgrims, and the rest found their way back to England.

Winding through forest and swamp, and along the trend of thé sea-shore,

All day long, with hardly a halt, the fire of his anger

Burning and crackling within, and the sulphurous odor of powder

Seeming more sweet to his nostrils than all the scents

of the forest.

Silent and moody he went, and much he revolved his discomfort ; 730

He who was used to success, and to easy victories always,

Thus to be fiouted, rejected, and laughed to scorn by a maiden,

Thus to be mocked and betrayed by the friend whom most he had trusted!

Ah! ’twas too much to be borne, and he fretted and chafed in his armor!

“ I alone am to blame,” he muttered, “ for mine was the folly. 735 What has a rough old soldier, grown grim and gray in the harness, Used to the camp and its ways, to do with the wooing . of maidens ‘.7 ’Twas but a dream,—let it pass,—let it vanish like so many others!

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »