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Finally closing his book, with a bang of the pon

derous cover, Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier ground

ing his musket, Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the

Captain of Plymouth : “ When you have finished your work, I have some

thing important to tell you. Be not however in haste; I can wait; I shall not

be impatient !” Straightway Alden replied, as he folded the last of

his letters, Pushing his papers aside, and giving respectful

attention : “ Speak; for whenever you speak, I am always

ready to listen, Always ready to hear whatever pertains to Miles

Standish." Thereupon answered the Captain, embarrassed,

and culling his phrases: 'Tis not good for a man to be alone, say the

Scriptures. This I have said before, and again and again I

repeat it; Every hour in the day, I think it, and feel it, and

say it.

Since Rose Standish died, my life has been weary

and dreary ; Sick at heart have I been, beyond the healing of

friendship. Oft in my lonely hours have I thought of the

maiden Priscilla. 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,

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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. 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. 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 ele

gant 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.”

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,

Thus made answer and spake, or rather stammered

than answered : “ Such a message as that, I am sure I should man.

gle and mar it; If you would have it well done, I am only re

peating your maxim, You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to

others !” But with the air of a man whom nothing can turn

from his purpose, Gravely shaking his head, made answer the Cap

tain of Plymouth : “ Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to

gainsay it; But we must use it discreetly, and not waste pow

der 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 ele

gant scholar, Having the

graces of speech, and skill in the turn

ing of phrases.” Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluc

tant 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;

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Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name

of our friendship !” 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 !” So the strong will prevailed, subduing and mould

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

of the forest, Into the tranquil woods, where blue-birds 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 commo

tion 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

vessel, Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge

of the ocean! “ Must I relinquish it all,” he cried with a wild

lamentation, “ Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the

illusion ? Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and wor

shipped in silence ? Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and

the shadow Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New

England ? Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths

of corruption

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