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She is alone in the world; her father and mother and
brother Died in the winter together; I saw her going and coming,
140 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
I am a maker of war, and not a maker of phrases.
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.”
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,
160 Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered
than answered : “Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle
and mar it;
152 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.
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,
165 Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Captain
of Plymouth: “Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gain
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,
170 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,
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!"
180 Then made answer John Alden: 6. The name of
friendship is sacred; What
demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!” So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding
the gentler, Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on
THE LOVER'S ERRAND
So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his
errand, Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of
Into the tranquil woods, where bluebirds and robins
were building Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of
verdure, Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and free
dom. All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict,
190 Love contending with friendship, and self with each
generous impulse. To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving
and dashing, As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the ves
sel, Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the
ocean! 5 Must I relinquish it all," he cried with a wild lamentation,
188 Populous: why are the trees so called ?
Hanging gardens: the reference is to the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon which Nebuchadnezzar built for his wife. She was a princess from Media and missed in the flat scenery of Babylon the mountains and valleys of her native land. These gardens were made in terraces supported upon columns and with soil sufficiently deep to sustain life in full-grown trees.
191 What did love prompt him to do? What did friendship urge