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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

152 Maker of phrases : explain what this means.

158-159 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.

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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 he 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

say it;

170

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

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

you

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

his errand.

III

THE LOVER'S ERRAND

So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand,

185 Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of

the forest,

190

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, 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! “Must I relinquish it all,” he cried with a wild lamentation,

195

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

upon him?

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