« PreviousContinue »
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
Does not respond at once to a love that she never suspected,
Does not attain at a bound the height to which you have been climbing.
This is not right nor just: for surely a woman's affection
Is not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the asking.
When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.
Had he but waited awhile, had he only showed that he loved me,
Even this Captain of yours—who knows ?—at last might have won me,
Old and rough as he is; but now it never can happen."
Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Priscilla, Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding; Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his battles in Flanders, How with the people of God he had chosen to suffer affliction, How, in return for his zeal, they had made him Captain of Plymouth; He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedigree plainly Back to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in Lancashire, England, Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson of Thurston de Standish: Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely defrauded, Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest a cock argent Combed and wattled gules, and all the rest of the blazon. He was a man of honor, of noble and generous nature;
Though he was rough, he was kindly; she knew how during the winter
He had attended the sick, with a hand as gentle as woman's;
Somewhat hasty and hot, he could not deny it, and headstrong,
Stern as a soldier might be, but hearty, and placable always.
Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he was little of stature;
For he was great of heart, magnanimous, courtly, courageous;
Any woman in Plymouth, nay, any woman in England,
Might be happy and proud to be called the wife of Miles Standish!
But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language, Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival, Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes overrunning with laughter, Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"
Into the open air John Alden, perplexed and bewildered,
Slowly as out of the heavens, with apocalyptical splendors,
"Welcome, O wind of the East!" he exclaimed in his wild exultation,
"Welcome, O wind of the East, from the caves of the misty Atlantic!
Like an awakened conscience, the sea was moaning and tossing, Beating remorseful and loud the mutable sands of the sea-shore. Fierce in his soul was the struggle and tumult of passions contending; Love triumphant and crowned, and friendship wounded and bleeding, Passionate cries of desire, and importunate pleadings of duty! "Is it my fault," he said, " that the maiden has chosen between us? Is it my fault that he failed,—my fault that I am the victor?" Then within him there thundered a voice, like the voice of the Prophet; "It hath displeased the Lord !"—and he thought of David's transgression,
Bathsheba's beautiful face, and his friend in the front of the battle!
Then, uplifting his head, he looked at the sea, and beheld there Dimly the shadowy form of the May Flower riding at anchor,