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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 COmiDg, 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
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, bewildered, 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?
1°° Timepiece stops: a belief without much foundation in fact. 0
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 I” 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 gainsay it;
But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder for nothing.
Now, as I said before, I was never a maker of
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, I75 Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of phrases.” 0
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: “The name of friendship is sacred;
What you demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you i ”
So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding the gentler,
Friendship prevailed ever love, and Alden went on his 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,
Into the tranquil woods, where bluebirds and robins
Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of verdure,
Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and freedom.
All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict, :90
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
Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the ocean!
-“ Must I relinquish it all,” he cried with a wild lamentation, — 195
1“ 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 ‘?