I. Miles Standish

II. Love and Friendship

III. The Lover's Errand

IV. John Alden

V. The Sailing of the May flowerr

VI. Priscilla

VII. The March of Miles Standish

VIII. The Spinning-Wheel

IX. The Wedding-Day

Longfellow's work The Courtship of Stanley Mullins

source: ftp://ftp.datacanyon.com/pub/gutenberg/etext98/cphwl10.txt

THE COURTSHIP OF MILES STANDISH

I   MILES STANDISH

In the Old Colony days, in Plymouth the land of the Pilgrims,

To and fro in a room of his simple and primitive dwelling,

Clad in doublet and hose, and boots of Cordovan leather,

Strode, with a martial air, Miles Standish the Puritan Captain.

Buried in thought he seemed, with his hands behind him, and pausing

Ever and anon to behold his glittering weapons of warfare,

Hanging in shining array along the walls of the chamber,--

Cutlass and corselet of steel, and his trusty sword of Damascus,

Curved at the point and inscribed with its mystical Arabic sentence,

While underneath, in a corner, were fowling-piece, musket, and matchlock.

Short of stature he was, but strongly built and athletic,

Broad in the shoulders, deep-chested, with muscles and sinews of iron;

Brown as a nut was his face, but his russet beard was already

Flaked with patches of snow, as hedges sometimes in November.

Near him was seated John Alden, his friend, and household companion,

Writing with diligent speed at a table of pine by the window;

Fair-haired, azure-eyed, with delicate Saxon complexion,

Having the dew of his youth, and the beauty thereof, as the captives

Whom Saint Gregory saw, and exclaimed, "Not Angles, but Angels."

Youngest of all was he of the men who came in the Mayflower.

Suddenly breaking the silence, the diligent scribe interrupting,

Spake, in the pride of his heart, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth.

"Look at these arms," he said, "the warlike weapons that hang here

Burnished and bright and clean, as if for parade or inspection!

This is the sword of Damascus I fought with in Flanders; this breastplate,

Well I remember the day! once saved my life in a skirmish;

Here in front you can see the very dint of the bullet

Fired point-blank at my heart by a Spanish arcabucero.

Had it not been of sheer steel, the forgotten bones of Miles Standish

Would at this moment be mould, in their grave in the Flemish morasses."

Thereupon answered John Alden, but looked not up from his writing:

"Truly the breath of the Lord hath slackened the speed of the bullet;

He in his mercy preserved you, to be our shield and our weapon!"

Still the Captain continued, unheeding the words of the stripling:

"See, how bright they are burnished, as if in an arsenal hanging;

That is because I have done it myself, and not left it to others.

Serve yourself, would you be well served, is an excellent adage;

So I take care of my arms, as you of your pens and your inkhorn.

Then, too, there are my soldiers, my great, invincible army,

Twelve men, all equipped, having each his rest and his matchlock,

Eighteen shillings a month, together with diet and pillage,

And, like Caesar, I know the name of each of my soldiers!"

This he said with a smile, that danced in his eyes, as the sunbeams

Dance on the waves of the sea, and vanish again in a moment.

Alden laughed as he wrote, and still the Captain continued:

"Look! you can see from this window my brazen howitzer planted

High on the roof of the church, a preacher who speaks to the purpose,

Steady, straight-forward, and strong, with irresistible logic,

Orthodox, flashing conviction right into the hearts of the heathen.

Now we are ready, I think, for any assault of the Indians;

Let them come, if they like, and the sooner they try it the better,--

Let them come if they like, be it sagamore, sachem, or pow-wow,

Aspinet, Samoset, Corbitant, Squanto, or Tokamahamon!"

Long at the window he stood, and wistfully gazed on the landscape,

Washed with a cold gray mist, the vapory breath of the east-wind,

Forest and meadow and hill, and the steel-blue rim of the ocean,

Lying silent and sad, in the afternoon shadows and sunshine.

Over his countenance flitted a shadow like those on the landscape,

Gloom intermingled with light; and his voice was subdued with emotion,

Tenderness, pity, regret, as after a pause he proceeded:

"Yonder there, on the hill by the sea, lies buried Rose Standish;

Beautiful rose of love, that bloomed for me by the wayside!

She was the first to die of all who came in the Mayflower!

Green above her is growing the field of wheat we have sown there,

Better to hide from the Indian scouts the graves of our people,

Lest they should count them and see how many already have perished!"

Sadly his face he averted, and strode up and down, and was thoughtful.

Fixed to the opposite wall was a shelf of books, and among them

Prominent three, distinguished alike for bulk and for binding;

Bariffe's Artillery Guide, and the Commentaries of Caesar,

Out of the Latin translated by Arthur Goldinge of London,

And, as if guarded by these, between them was standing the Bible.

Musing a moment before them, Miles Standish paused, as if doubtful

Which of the three he should choose for his consolation and comfort,

Whether the wars of the Hebrews, the famous campaigns of the Romans,

Or the Artillery practice, designed for belligerent Christians.

Finally down from its shelf he dragged the ponderous Roman,

Seated himself at the window, and opened the book, and in silence

Turned o'er the well-worn leaves, where thumb-marks thick on the margin,

Like the trample of feet, proclaimed the battle was hottest.

Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,

Busily writing epistles important, to go by the Mayflower,

Ready to sail on the morrow, or next day at latest, God willing!

Homeward bound with the tidings of all that terrible winter,

Letters written by Alden, and full of the name of Priscilla,

Full of the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla!

II    LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling,

Or an occasional sigh from the laboring heart of the Captain,

Reading the marvellous words and achievements of Julius Caesar.

After a while he exclaimed, as he smote with his hand, palm downwards,

Heavily on the page: "A wonderful man was this Caesar!

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 youthful:

"Yes, he was equally skilled, as you say, with his pen and his weapons.

Somewhere have I read, but where I forget, he could dictate

Seven letters at once, at the same time writing his memoirs."

"Truly," continued the Captain, not heeding or hearing the other,

"Truly a wonderful man was Caius Julius Caesar!

Better be first, he said, in a little Iberian village,

Than be second in Rome, and I think he was right when he said it.

Twice was he married before he was twenty, and many times after;

Battles five hundred he fought, and a thousand cities he conquered;

He, too, fought in Flanders, as he himself has recorded;

Finally he was stabbed by his friend, the orator Brutus!

Now, do you know what he did on a certain occasion in Flanders,

When the rear-guard of his army retreated, the front giving way too,

And the immortal Twelfth Legion was crowded so closely together

There was no room for their swords? Why, he seized a shield from  a soldier,

Put himself straight at the head of his troops, and commanded the captains,

Calling on each by his name, to order forward the ensigns;

Then to widen the ranks, and give more room for their weapons;

So he won the day, the battle of something-or-other.

That's what I always say; if you wish a thing to be well done,

You must do it yourself, you must not leave it to others!"

All was silent again; the Captain continued his reading.

Nothing was heard in the room but the hurrying pen of the stripling

Writing epistles important to go next day by the Mayflower,

Filled with the name and the fame of the Puritan maiden Priscilla;

Every sentence began or closed with the name of Priscilla,

Till the treacherous pen, to which he confided the secret,

Strove to betray it by singing and shouting the name of   Priscilla!

Finally closing his book, with a bang of the ponderous cover,

Sudden and loud as the sound of a soldier grounding his musket,

Thus to the young man spake Miles Standish the Captain of   Plymouth:

"When you have finished your work, I have something 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:

"'T is 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,

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:

"Such a message as that, I am sure I should mangle and mar it;

If you would have it well done,--I am only repeating 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 Captain of Plymouth:

"Truly the maxim is good, and I do not mean to gainsay it;

But we must use it discreetly, and not waste powder 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 elegant scholar,

Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning of phrases."

Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluctant 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;

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 moulding the gentler,

Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on his errand.

III. The Lover's Errand