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Though it pass o’er the graves of the dead and th: hearths of the living,
It is the will of the Lord; and his mercy endureth for ever!”
So he entered the house; and the hum of the wheel
and the singing ,
Suddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the threshold, :50
Rose as he entered and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome,
Saying, “ I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the passage;
For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning.”
Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been mingled
Thus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of
the maiden, 255 Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an answer,
Finding no words for his thought. He remembered that day in the winter, After the first great snow, when he broke a path from the village, 247 Look up Psalm cxxxvi.
Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encumbered the doorway,
Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house, and Priscilla 260
Laughed at his snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the fireside,
Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the snowstorm.
Had he but spoken then! perhaps not in vain had he spoken;
Now it was all too late; the golden moment had vanished!
So he stood there abashed, and gave her the flowers for an answer. 265
Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the beautiful Springtime ; Talked of their friends at home, and the Mayflower that sailed on the morrow. “I have been thinking all day,” said gently the Puritan maiden, “Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, Of the hedge-rows of England, ——“Hedge-rows: the hedge-rows of England are CBlebmted' Every visitor to England remembers them. They serve instead
of fences to divide the fields, and in the spring are a tangle of running vines, and are full of blossoms.
They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden; :70
Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and the linnet,
Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighbors
Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip together,
And, at the end of the street, the village church, with the ivy
Climbing the old gray tower, and the quiet graves in the churchyard. 275
Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion;
Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back in Old England.
You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it: I almost
Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and wretched.”
Thereupon answered the youth: “ Indeed I do not
condemn you ; 28o
Stouter hearts than a woman’s have quailed in this terrible winter.
27M" A beautiful description of an English village.
Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;
So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriage
Made by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth ! ”
Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer
of letters, — 285 Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,
But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a school-boy;
Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.
Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maiden '
Looked into Alden’s face, her eyes dilated with wonder, 290
Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her speechless;
Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence:
“ If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,
Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me ‘2
If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!” 29;
Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,
Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy, —
Had no time for such things ;— such things! the words grating harshly
Fell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made answer:
“Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before
he is married, 300 Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding ?
That is the way with you men; you don’t understand us, you cannot.
When you have made up your minds, after thinking of this one and that one,
Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one with
another, Then you make known your desire, with abrupt and sudden avowal, 305
And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps, that a woman