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Though it pass o'er the graves of the dead and the

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,

250 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.

260

Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that

encumbered the doorway, Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the

house, and Priscilla 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 van

ished ! 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 Puri

tan maiden, “ Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the

hedge-rows of England, 260 Hedge-rows: the hedge-rows of England are celebrated. 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;

270 Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark

and the linnet, Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neigh

bors Going about as of old, and stopping to gossip to

gether, 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 al

most Wish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely

and wretched.”

Thereupon answered the youth: “Indeed I do not condemn you;

280 Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this

terrible winter.

270-276 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 Puri

tan maiden Looked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with won

der,

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 ? If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning !”

295 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, And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps,

that a woman

305

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