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Ever of her he thought, when he read in his Bible on Sunday
Praise of the virtuous woman, as she is described in the Proverbs, —
How the heart of her husband doth safely trust in her
always, . How all the days of her life she will do him good, and not evil, 860
How she seeketh the wool and the flax and worketh with gladness,
How she layeth her hand to the spindle and holdeth the distaff,
How she is not afraid of the snow for herself or her household,
Knowing her household are clothed with the scarlet cloth of her weaving!
So as she sat at her wheel one afternoon in the Autumn, 865 Alden, who opposite sat, and was watching her dexterous fingers, As if the thread she was spinning were that of his life and his fortune,
353 Look up Proverbs xxxi. 10—28. 967 Thread: the old legend was that the three Fates spun out the thread of each one's life and out it otf where they pleased. A very G
After a pause in their talk, thus spake to the sound of the spindle.
“Truly, Priscilla,” he said, “when I see you spinning and spinning,
Never idle a moment, but thrifty and thoughtful of others, 870
Suddenly you are transformed, are visibly changed in a moment; .
You are no longer Priscilla, but Bertha the Beautiful Spinner.”
Here the light foot on the treadle grew swifter and swifter; the spindle
Uttered an angry snarl, and the thread snapped short in her fingers;
While the impetuous speaker, not heeding the mischief, continued: 875
“ You are the beautiful Bertha, the spinner, the queen of Helvetia;
She whose story I read at a stall in the streets of Southampton,
famous picture represents the three Fates, Clothe spinning, Lachesis drawing out the thread, and Atropos cutting it off.
876 Helvetia: southern Burgundy, which used to include a part of Switzerland. Bertha was the wife of Rudolph II of Burgundy, and was famous for her domestic virtues. On the monuments of the time she is represented spinning.
877 Southampton: locate on the map.
Who, as she rode on her palfrey, o’er valley and meadow and mountain,
Ever was spinning her thread from a distaff fixed to her saddle.
She was so thrifty and good, that her name passed into a proverb. 880
So shall it be with your own, when the spinning-wheel shall no longer
Hum in the house of the farmer, and fill its chambers with music.
Then shall the mothers, reproving, relate how it was in their childhood,
Praising the good old times, and the days of Priscilla the spinner!”
Straight uprose from her wheel the beautiful Puritan maiden, 885 Pleased with the praise of her thrift from him whose praise was the sweetest,
579 Spinning: the primitive method of spinning, which may be seen to-day in Greece, as Homer described it, is as follows: a bunch of wool is stuck on a short staff called the distaff. Then there is a small rod or stick with a notch in it and slightly weighted. A tuft of wool is fastened in this notch, and the weight of the stick or spindle hanging down serves to draw out the tuft so that the fingers by running up and down it can twist it into a uniform thread of yarn. When the thread becomes too long, it is wound up on the spindle and the process continues.
351-854 The inventions which took spinning out of the homes into the factories were patented from 1770-1775. Would John Alden have been likely to make such a prophecy?
Drew from the reel on the table a snowy skein of her spinning,
Thus making answer, meanwhile, to the flattering phrases of Alden:
“Come, you must not be idle; if I am a pattern for
housewives, Show yourself equally worthy of being the model of husbands. 890
Hold this skein on your hands, while I wind it, ready for knitting;
Then who knows but hereafter, when fashions have changed and the manners,
Fathers may talk to their sons of the good old times of John Alden!”
Thus, with a jest and a laugh, the skein on his hands she adjusted,
He sitting awkwardly there, with his arms extended before him, 895
She standing graceful, erect, and winding the thread from his fingers,
Sometimes chiding a little his clumsy manner of holdme,
Sometimes touching his hands, as she disentangled expertly
Twist or knot in the yarn, unawares—for how could she help it ?-
Sending electrical thrills through every nerve in his body. 900
L0! in the midst of this scene, a breathless messen
Bringing in hurry and heat the terrible news from the village.
Yes; Miles Standish was deadl—an Indian had
rought them the tidings,—
Slain by a poisoned arrow, shot down in the front of the battle,
Into an ambush beguiled, cut off with the whole of
his forces; 905 All the town would be burned, and all the people be murdered!
Such were the tidings of evil that burst on the hearts of the hearers.
Silent and statue-like stood Priscilla, her face looking backward
Still at the face of the speaker, her arms uplifted in horror;
But John Alden, upstarting, as if the barb of the arI'OW 910