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Turned o'er the well-worn leaves, where thumb-marks thick on the
LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP.
Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,
You are a writer, and I am a fighter, but here is a fellow Who could both write and fight, and in both was equally skilful!"
Straightway answered and spake John Alden, the comely, the
Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns;
That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done,
All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading.
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,
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 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."
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: