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Introductory


THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks
Bearded with mossand in garments greenindistinct in the twilight
Stand like Druids of eldwith voices sad and prophetic
Stand like harpers hoarwith beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky cavernsthe deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaksand in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roewhen he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed villagethe home of Acadian farmers --



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Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands
Darkened by shadows of earthbut reflecting an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farmsand the farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaveswhen the mighty blasts of October
Seize themand whirl them aloftand sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of Grand-Pre.
Ye who believe in affection that hopesand enduresand is patient
Ye who believe in the beauty and strength of woman's devotion
List to the mournful tradition still sung by the pines of the forest;
List to a Tale of Love in Acadiehome of the happy.

PART THE FIRST


I


IN THE Acadian landon the shores of the Basin of Minas
Distantsecludedstillthe little village of Grand-Pre
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched to the eastward
Giving the village its nameand pasture to flocks without number.



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Dikesthat the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant
Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates
Openedand welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows.
West and south there were fields of flaxand orchards and corn-fields

Solemnly down the street came the parish priest.



Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward
Blomidon roseand the forests oldand aloft on the mountains
Sea-fogs pitched their tentsand mists from the mighty Atlantic
Looked on the happy valleybut ne'er from their station descended.
Therein the midst of its farmsreposed the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houseswith frames of oak and of chestnut
Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the Henries.
Thatched were the roofswith dormer-windows; and gables projecting
Over the basement below protected and shaded the doorway.
There in the tranquil evenings of summerwhen brightly the sunset
Lighted the village streetand gilded the vanes on the chimneys



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Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
Scarlet and blue and greenwith distaffs spinning the golden
Flax for the gossiping loomswhose noisy shuttles within doors
Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.
Solemnly down the street came the parish priestand the children
Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them.
Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens
Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome.
Then came the laborers home from the fieldand serenely the sun sank
Down to his restand twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus soundedand over the roofs of the village



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Columns of pale blue smokelike clouds of incense ascending
Rose from a hundred hearthsthe homes of peace and contentment.
Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian farmers --
Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from
Fearthat reigns with the tyrantand envythe vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doorsnor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts of the owners;
There the richest was poorand the poorest lived in abundance.
Somewhat apart from the villageand nearer the Basin of Minas
Benedict Bellefontainethe wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pre
Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with himdirecting his household
Gentle Evangeline livedhis childand the pride of the village.

 



Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters;
Hearty and hale was hean oak that is covered with snow-flakes;



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White as the snow were his locksand his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
Fair was she to beholdthat maiden of seventeen summers.
Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the thorn by the way-side
Blackyet how softly they gleamed beneath the brown shade of her tresses!
Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that feed in the meadows.
When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers at noontide
Flagons of home-brewed aleah! fair in sooth was the maiden.
Fairer was she whenon Sunday mornwhile the bell from its turret
Sprinkled with holy sounds the airas the priest with his hysop
Sprinkles the congregationand scatters blessings upon them
Down the long street she passedwith her chaplet of beads and her missal
Wearing her Norman capand her kirtle of blueand the ear-rings
Brought in the olden time from Franceand sinceas an heirloom
Handed down from mother to childthrough long generations.
But a celestial brightness -- a more ethereal beauty --



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Shone on her face and encircled her formwhenafter confession
Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her.
When she had passedit seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music.
Firmly builded with rafters of oakthe house of the farmer
Stood on the side of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady
Sycamore grew by the doorwith a woodbine wreathing around it.
Rudely carved was the porchwith seats beneath; and a footpath
Led through an orchard wideand disappeared in the meadow.
Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a pent-house
Such as the traveler sees in regions remote by the roadside
Built o'er a box for the pooror the blessed image of Mary.
Farther downon the slope of the hillwas the well with its moss-grown
Bucketfastened with ironand near it a trough for the horses.
Shielding the house from stormson the northwere the barns and the farm-yard.
There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the antique plows and the harrows;



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There were the folds for the sheep; and therein his feathered seraglio
Strutted the lordly turkeyand crowed the cockwith the selfsame
Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter.
Bursting with hay were the barnsthemselves a village. In each one
Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase
Under the sheltering eavesled up to the odorous corn-loft.
There too the dove-cot stoodwith its meek and innocent inmates

 



Murmuring ever of love; while above in the variant breezes
Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.
Thusat peace with God and the worldthe farmer of Grand-Pre
Lived on his sunny farmand Evangeline governed his household.
Many a youthas he knelt in the church and opened his missal
Fixed his eyes upon heras the saint of his deepest devotion;
Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment!
Many a suitor came to her doorby the darkness befriended
And as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps



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Knew not which beat the louderhis heart or the knocker of iron;
Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village
Bolder grewand pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered
Hurried words of lovethat seemed a part of the music.
Butamong all who cameyoung Gabriel only was welcome;
Gabriel Lajeunessethe son of Basil the blacksmith
Who was a mighty man in the villageand honored of all men;

 



For since the birth of timethroughout all ages and nations
Has the craft of the smith been held in repute by the people.
Basil was Benedict's friend. Their children from earliest childhood
Grew up together as brother and sisterand Father Felician
Priest and pedagogue both in the villagehad taught them their letters
Out of the selfsame bookwith the hymns of the church and the plain-song.
But when the hymn was sungand the daily lesson completed
Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith.



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There at the door they stoodwith wondering eyes to behold him
Take in his leathern lap the hoof of the horse as a plaything
Nailing the shoe in its place; while near him the tire of the cart-wheel
Lay like a fiery snakecoiled round in a circle of cinders.
Oft on autumnal eveswhen without in the gathering darkness
Bursting with light seemed the smithythrough every cranny and crevice
Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows
And as its panting ceasedand the sparks expired in the ashes
Merrily laughedand said they were nuns going into the chapel.
Oft on sledges in winteras swift as the swoop of the eagle
Down the hill-side boundingthey glided away o'er the meadow.
Oft in the barns they climbed to the populous nests on the rafters
Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stonewhich the swallow



-29-



Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings
Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow!
Thus passed a few swift yearsand they no longer were children.
He was a valiant youthand his facelike the face of the morning
Gladdened the earth with its light and ripened through into action.
She was a woman nowwith the heart and hopes of a woman.
"Sunshine of Saint Eulalie" was she called; for that was the sunshine
Whichas the farmers believedwould load their orchards with apples;
Shetoowould bring to her husband's house delight and abundance
Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.

II


Now had the season returnedwhen the nights grow colder and longer
And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.
Birds of passage sailed through the leaden airfrom the ice-bound



-30-



Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands.
Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September
Wrestled the trees of the forestsas Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
Beeswith prophetic instinct of wanthad hoarded their honey
Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian hunters asserted
Cold would the winter befor thick was the fur of the foxes.
Such was the advent of autumn. Then followed that beautiful season
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to reign upon earthand the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at playthe crowing of cocks in the farmyards
Whir of wings in the drowsy airand the cooing of pigeons
All were subdued and low as the murmurs of loveand the great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around him;



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While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow
Bright with the sheen of the deweach glittering tree of the forest
Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.
Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness.
Day with its burden and heat had departedand twilight descending
Brought back the evening star to the skyand the herds to the homestead.
Pawing the ground they cameand resting their necks on each other
And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of evening.
Foremostbearing the bellEvangeline's beautiful heifer
Proud of her snow-white hideand the ribbon that waved from her collar
Quietly paced and slowas if conscious of human affection.
Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside
Where was their favorite pasture. Behind them followed the watch-dog
Patientfull of importanceand grand in the pride of his instinct
Walking from side to side with a lordly airand superbly



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Waving his bushy tailand urging forward the stragglers;
Regent of flocks was he went the shepherd slept; their protector
When from the forest at nightthrough the starry silencethe wolves howled.
Latewith the rising moonreturned the wains from the marshes
Laden with briny haythat filled the air with its odor.
Cheerily neighed the steedswith dew on their manes and their fetlocks
While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous saddles
Painted with brilliant dyesand adorned with tassels of crimson
Nodded in bright arraylike hollyhocks heavy with blossoms.
Patiently stood the cows meanwhileand yielded their udders
Unto the milkmaid's hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence
Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended.
Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farmyard
Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank into stillness;
Heavily closedwith a jarring soundthe valves of the barn doors
Rattled the wooden barsand all for a season was silent.
Indoorswarm by the wide-mouthed fireplaceidly the farmer



-33-



Sat in his elbow-chair; and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreaths
Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him
Nodding and mocking along the wallwith gestures fantastic
Darted his own huge shadowand vanished away into darkness.
Facesclumsily carved in oakon the back of his arm-chair
Laughed in the flickering lightand the pewter plates on the dresser
Caught and reflected the flameas shields of armies the sunshine.
Fragments of song the old man sangand carols of Christmas
Such as at homein the olden timehis fathers before him
Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards.
Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated
Spinning flax for the loomthat stood in the corner behind her.
Silent awhile were its treadlesat rest was its diligent shuttle
While the monotonous drone of the wheellike the drone of a bagpipe
Followed the old man's songand united the fragments together.

 



As in a churchwhen the chant of the choir at intervals ceases
Footfalls are heard in the aislesor words of the priest at the altar



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Soin each pause of the songwith measured motion the clock clicked.
Thus as they satthere were footsteps heardandsuddenly lifted
Sounded the wooden latchand the door swung back on its hinges.
Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith
And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him.
"Welcome!" the farmer exclaimedas their footsteps paused on thethreshold
"WelcomeBasilmy friend! Cometake thy place on the settle
Close by the chimney-sidewhich is always empty without thee;
Take from the shelf overhead thy pipe and the box of tobacco;
Never so much thyself art thou as when through the curling
Smoke of the pipe or the forge thy friendly and jovial face gleams
Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes."
Thenwith a smile of contentthus answered Basil the blacksmith
Taking with easy air the accustomed seat by the fireside --
"Benedict Bellefontainethou hast ever thy jest and thy ballad!
Ever in cheerfulest mood art thouwhen others are filled with



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Gloomy forebodings of illand see only ruin before them.
Happy art thouas if every day thou hadst picked up a horseshoe."
Pausing a momentto take the pipe that Evangeline brought him
And with a coal from the embers had lightedhe slowly continued --
"Four days now are passed since the English ships at their anchors
Ride in the Gaspereau's mouthwith their cannon pointed against us.
What their design may be is unknown; but all are commanded
On the morrow to meet in the churchwhere his Majesty's mandate
Will be proclaimed as law in the land. Alas! in the mean time
Many surmises of evil alarm the hearts of the people."
Then made answer the farmer: "Perhaps some friendlier purpose
Brings these ships to our shores. Perhaps the harvests in England



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By the untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted
And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and children."
"Not so thinketh the folk in the village" saidwarmlytheblacksmith
Shaking his headas in doubt; thenheaving a sighhe continued --
"Louisburg is not forgottennor Beau Sejournor Port Royal.
Many already have fled to the forestand lurk on its outskirts
Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious fate of to-morrow.
Arms have been taken from usand warlike weapons of all kinds;
Nothing is left but the blacksmith's sledge and the scythe of the mower."
Then with a pleasant smile made answer the jovial farmer:
"Safer are we unarmedin the midst of our flocks and our cornfields
Safer within these peaceful dikesbesieged by the ocean
Than were our fathers in fortsbesieged by the enemy's cannon.



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Fear no evilmy friendand to-night may no shadow of sorrow
Fall on this house and hearth; for this is the night of the contract.
Built are the house and the barn. The merry lads of the village
Strongly have built them and well; andbreaking the glebe round about them
Filled the barn with hayand the house with food for a twelvemonth.
Rene Leblanc will be here anonwith his papers and inkhorn.
Shall we not then be gladand rejoice in the joy of our children?"
As apart by the window she stoodwith her hand in her lover's
Blushing Evangeline heard the words that her father had spoken
And as they died on his lips the worthy notary entered.

III


BENT like a laboring oarthat toils in the surf of the ocean
Bentbut not brokenby age was the form of the notary public;



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Shocks of yellow hairlike the silken floss of the maizehung
Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn bows
Sat astride on his nosewith a look of wisdom supernal.

 



Father of twenty children was heand more than a hundred
Children's children rode on his kneeand heard his great watch tick.
Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive
Suffering much in an old French fort as the friend of the English.
Nowthough warier grownwithout all guile or suspicion
Ripe in wisdom was hebut patientand simple and childlike.
He was beloved by alland most of all by the children;
For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest
And of the goblin that came in the night to water the horses
And of the white Letichethe ghost of a child who unchristened



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Diedand was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children;
And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable
And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell
And of the marvelous powers of four-leaved clover and horseshoes
With whatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village.
Then up rose from his seat by the fireside Basil the blacksmith
Knocked from his pipe the ashesand slowly extending his right hand
"Father Leblanc" he exclaimed"thou hast heard the talk in thevillage
Andperchancecanst tell us some news of these ships and their errand."
Then with modest demeanor made answer the notary public --
"Gossip enough have I heardin soothyet am never the wiser;
And what their errand may be I know not better than others.
Yet am I not of those who imagine some evil intention
Brings them herefor we are at peace; and why then molest us?"



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"God's name!" shouted the hasty and somewhat irascible blacksmith;
"Must we in all things look for the howand the whyand the wherefore?
Daily injustice is doneand might is the right of the strongest!"
Butwithout heeding his warmthcontinued the notary public --
"Man is unjustbut God is just; and finally justice
Triumphs; and well I remember a storythat often consoled me
When as a captive I lay in the old French fort at Port Royal."
This was the old man's favorite taleand he loved to repeat it
When his neighbors complained that any injustice was done them.
"Once in an ancient citywhose name I no longer remember
Raised aloft on a columna brazen statue of Justice
Stood in the public squareupholding the scales in its left hand
And in its right a swordas an emblem that justice presided
Over the laws of the landand the hearts and homes of the people.
Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance
Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above them.
But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted;



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Might took the place of rightand the weak were oppressedand the mighty
Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced in a nobleman's palace
That a necklace of pearls was lostand ere long a suspicion
Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household.
Sheafter form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold
Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice.
As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended
Lo! o'er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder
Smote the statue of bronzeand hurled in wrath from its left hand
Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance
And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie
Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was inwoven."
Silencedbut not convincedwhen the story was endedthe blacksmith
Stood like a man who fain would speakbut findeth no language;
All his thoughts were congealed into lines on his faceas the vapors
Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes in the winter.



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Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table
Filledtill it overflowedthe pewter tankard with home-brewed
Nut-brown alethat was famed for its strength in the village of Grand-Pre;
While from his pocket the notary drew his papers and inkhorn
Wrote with a steady hand the date and the age of the parties
Naming the dower of the bride in flocks of sheep and in cattle.
Orderly all things proceededand duly and well were completed
And the great seal of the law was set like a sun on the margin.
Then from his leathern pouch the farmer threw on the table
Three times the old man's fee in solid pieces of silver;
And the notary risingand blessing the bride and the bridegroom
Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank to their welfare.
Wiping the foam from his liphe solemnly bowed and departed
While in silence the others sat and mused by the fire-side
Till Evangeline brought the draught-board out of its corner.
Soon was the game begun. In friendly contention the old men
Laughed at each lucky hitor unsuccessful manoeuver
Laughed when a man was crownedor a breach was made in the king-row.



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Meanwhile apartin the twilight gloom of a window's embrasure
Sat the loversand whispered togetherbeholding the moon rise
Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows.
Silently one by onein the infinite meadows of heaven
Blossomed the lovely starsthe forget-me-nots of the angels.
Thus passed the evening away. Anon the bell from the belfry
Rang out the hour of ninethe village curfewand straightway
Rose the guests and departed; and silence reigned in the household.
Many a farewell word and sweet good-night on the doorstep
Lingered long in Evangeline's heartand filled it with gladness.
Carefully then were covered the embers that glowed on the hearthstone
And on the oaken stairs resounded the tread of the farmer.
Soon with a soundless step the foot of Evangeline followed.
Up the staircase moved a luminous space in the darkness



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Lighted less by the lamp than the shining face of the maiden.
Silent she passed through the halland entered the door of her chamber.
Simple that chamber waswith its curtains of whiteand its clothes-press
Ample and highon whose spacious shelves were carefully folded
Linen and woolen stuffsby the hand of Evangeline woven.
This was the precious dower she would bring to her husband in marriage
Better than flocks and herdsbeing proofs of her skill as a housewife.
Soon she extinguished her lampfor the mellow and radiant moonlight
Streamed through the windowsand lighted the roomtill the heart of the maiden
Swelled and obeyed its powerlike the tremulous tides of the ocean.
Ah! she was fairexceeding fair to beholdas she stood with
Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming floor of her chamber!
Little she dreamed that belowamong the trees of the orchard
Waited her lover and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow.
Yet were her thoughts of himand at times a feeling of sadness
Passed o'er her soulas the sailing shade of clouds in the moonlight
Flitted across the floor and darkened the room for a moment.



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And as she gazed from the window she saw serenely the moon pass
Forth from the folds of a cloudand one star follow her footsteps
As out of Abraham's tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar!

IV


PLEASANTLY rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pre.
Pleasantly gleamed in the softsweet air the Basin of Minas
Where the shipswith their wavering shadowswere riding at anchor.
Life had long been astir in the villageand clamorous labor
Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning.
Now from the country aroundfrom the farms and the neighboring hamlets
Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants.
Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk
Made the bright air brighteras up from the numerous meadows
Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward
Group after group appearedand joinedor passed on the highway.
Long ere noonin the village all sounds of labor were silenced.



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Thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors

 



Sat in the cheerful sunand rejoiced and gossiped together
Every house was an innwhere all were welcomed and feasted;
For with this simple peoplewho lived like brothers together
All things were held in commonand what one had was another's.
Yet under Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant:
For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father;
Bright was her face with smilesand words of welcome and gladness
Fell from her beautiful lipsand blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open skyin the odorous air of the orchard
Bending with golden fruitwas spread the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;
There good Benedict satand sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
Not far withdrawn from theseby the cider-press and the beehives
Michael the fiddler was placedwith the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.

 



Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white
Hairas it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler



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Glowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.
Gayly the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle
Tous les Bourgeois de Chartresand Le Carillon de Dunkerque
And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music.
Merrilymerrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances
Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;
Old folk and young togetherand children mingled among them.
Fairest of all the maids was EvangelineBenedict's daughter!
Noblest of all the youths was Gabrielson of the blacksmith!
So passed the morning away. And lo! with a summons sonorous
Sounded the bell from its towerand over the meadows a drum beat.

Then uprose their commanderand spake from the steps of the altar.






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Thronged ere long was the church with men. Withoutin the churchyard
Waited the women. They stood by the gravesand hung on the headstones
Garlands of autumn leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
Then came the guard from the shipsand marching proudly among them
Entered the sacred portal. With loud and dissonant clangor
Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement --
Echoed a moment onlyand slowly the ponderous portal
Closedand in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their commanderand spake from the steps of the altar
Holding aloft in his handswith its sealsthe royal commission.
"You are convened this day" he said"by his Majesty's orders.
Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness
Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper
Painful the task is I dowhich to you I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and obeyand deliver the will of our monarch;
Namelythat all your landsand dwellingsand cattle of all kinds



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Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province
Be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there
Ever as faithful subjectsa happy and peaceable people!
Prisoners now I declare you; for such is his Majesty's pleasure!"
Aswhen the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer
Suddenly gathers a stormand the deadly sling of the hailstones
Beats down the farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows
Hiding the sunand strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs
Bellowing fly the herdsand seek to break their inclosures;
So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonderand then rose
Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger
Andby one impulse movedthey madly rushed to the doorway.
Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations
Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
Rosewith his arms upliftedthe figure of Basil the blacksmith
Ason a stormy seaa spar is tossed by the billows.



-50-



Flushed was his face and distorted with passionand wildly he shouted --
"Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance!
Death to these foreign soldierswho seize on our homes and our harvests!"
More he fain would have saidbut the merciless hand of a soldier
Smote him upon the mouthand dragged him down to the pavement.
In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention
Lo! the door of the chancel openedand Father Felician
Enteredwith serious mienand ascended the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend handwith a gesture he awed into silence
All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people;
Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
Spake heasafter the tocsin's alarumdistinctly the clock strikes.
"What is this that ye domy children? what madness has seized you?
Forty years of my life have I labored among youand taught you
Not in word alonebut in deedto love one another!



-51-



Is this the fruit of my toilsof my vigils and prayers and privations?
Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness?
This is the house of the Prince of Peaceand would you profane it
Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?
Lo! where the crucified Christ from His cross is gazing upon you!
See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!
Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer'O Fatherforgive them!'
Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us
Let us repeat it nowand say'O Fatherforgive them!'"
Few were his words of rebukebut deep in the hearts of his people
Sank theyand sobs of contrition succeeded that passionate outbreak;
And they repeated his prayerand said"O Fatherforgive them!"
Then came the evening service. The tapers gleamed from the altar.
Fervent and deep was the voice of the priestand the people responded
Not with their lips alonebut their hearts; and the Ave Maria
Sang theyand fell on their kneesand their soulswith devotion translated

 






-52-



Rose on the ardor of prayerlike Elijah ascending to heaven.
Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of illand on all sides
Wanderedwailingfrom house to house the women and children.
Long at her father's door Evangeline stoodwith her right hand
Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sunthatdescending
Lighted the village street with mysterious splendorand roofed each
Peasant's cottage with golden thatchand emblazoned its windows.
Long within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table;
There stood the wheaten loafand the honey fragrant with wild flowers;
There stood the tankard of aleand the cheese fresh brought from the dairy;
And at the head of the board the great armchair of the farmer.
Thus did Evangeline wait at her father's dooras the sunset
Threw the long shadows of trees o'er the broad ambrosial meadows.
Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen
And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended --
Charitymeeknessloveand hopeand forgivenessand patience!

 






-53-



Thenall-forgetful of selfshe wandered into the village
Cheering with looks and words the disconsolate hearts of the women
As o'er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed
Urged by their household caresand the weary feet of their children.
Down sank the great red sunand in goldenglimmering vapors
Veiled the light of his facelike the Prophet descending from Sinai.
Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
Meanwhileamid the gloomby the church Evangeline lingered.
All was silent within; and in vain at the door and the windows
Stood sheand listened and lookeduntilovercome by emotion
"Gabriel!" cried she aloud with tremulous voice; but no answer
Came from the graves of the deadnor the gloomier grave of the living
Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father.
Smouldered the fire on the hearthon the board stood the supper untasted
Empty and drear was each roomand haunted with phantoms of terror.
Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber.



-54-



In the dead of the night she heard the whispering rain fall
Loud on the withered leaves of the sycamore-tree by the window.
Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of the echoing thunder
Told her that God was in heavenand governed the world he created!
Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of heaven;
Soothed was her troubled souland she peacefully slumbered till morning.

V


FOUR times the sun had risen and set; and now on the fifth day
Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farmhouse.
Soon o'er the yellow fieldsin silent and mournful procession
Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women
Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the seashore
Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings
Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.
Close at their sides their children ranand urged on the oxen
While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.
There to the Gaspereau's mouth they hurried; and there on the sea-beach



-55-



Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants.
All day long the wains came laboring down from the village.
Late in the afternoonwhen the sun was near to his setting
Echoing far o'er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard.
Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors
Openedand forth came the guardand marching in gloomy procession
Followed the long-imprisonedbut patientAcadian farmers.
Even as pilgrimswho journey afar from their homes and their country
Sing as they goand in singing forget they are weary and wayworn
So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended
Down from the church to the shoreamid their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; andraising together their voices
Sang they with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions --
"Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain!
Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!"
Then the old menas they marchedand the women that stood by the wayside



-56-



Joined in the sacred psalmand the birds in the sunshine above them
Mingled their notes therewithlike voices of spirits departed.
Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence
Not overcome with griefbut strong in the hour of affliction --
Calmly and sadly waiteduntil the procession approached her
And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion.
Tears then filled her eyesandeagerly running to meet him
Clasped she his handsand laid her head on his shoulder and whispered --
"Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another
Nothingin truthcan harm uswhatever mischances may happen!"
Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly pausedfor her father
Saw she slowly advancing. Alas! how changed was his aspect!
Gone was the glow from his cheekand the fire from his eyeand his footstep
Heavier seemed with the weight of the weary heart in his bosom.



-57-



But with a smile and a sigh she clasped his neck and embraced him
Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not.
Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession.
There disorder prevailedand the tumult and stir of embarking.
Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion
Wives were torn from their husbandsand motherstoo latesaw their children
Left on the landextending their armswith wildest entreaties.
So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried
While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father.
Half the task was not done when the sun went downand the twilight
Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean
Fled away from the shoreand left the line of the sand-beach
Covered with waifs of the tidewith kelp and the slippery seaweed.
Farther back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons
Like to a gypsy campor a leaguer after a battle
All escape cut off by the seaand the sentinels near them
Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers.



-58-



Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean
Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebblesand leaving
Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors.
Thenas the night descendedthe herds returned from their pastures;
Sweet was the moist still air with the odor of milk from their udders;
Lowing they waitedand longat the well-known bars of the farmyard --
Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid.
Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded
Rose no smoke from the roofsand gleamed no lights from the windows.
But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled
Built of the driftwood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest.
Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered
Voices of women were heardand of menand the crying of children.
Onward from fire to fireas from hearth to hearth in his parish
Wandered the faithful priestconsoling and blessing and cheering
Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-shore.

Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him.



Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father



-59-



And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man
Haggard and hollow and wanand without either thought or emotion
E'en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken.
Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him
Vainly offered him food; yet he moved nothe looked nothe spake not
Butwith a vacant stareever gazed at the flickering firelight.
"Benedicite!" murmured the priestin tones of compassion.
More he fain would have saidbut his heart was fulland his accents
Faltered and paused on his lipsas the feet of a child on a threshold
Hushed by the scene he beholdsand the awful presence of sorrow.
Silentlythereforehe laid his hand on the head of the maiden
Raising his eyesfull of tearsto the silent stars that above them
Moved on their wayunperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals.
Then sat he down at her sideand they wept together in silence.
Suddenly rose from the south a lightas in autumn the blood-red
Moon climbs the crystal walls of heavenand o'er the horizon



-60-



Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow
Seizing the rocks and the riversand piling huge shadows together.
Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village
Gleamed on the sky and the seaand the ships that lay in the roadstead.
Columns of shining smoke uproseand flashes of flame were
Thrust through their folds and withdrawnlike the quivering hands of a martyr.
Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatchanduplifting
Whirled them aloft through the airat once from a hundred housetops
Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.
These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard.
Speechless at first they stoodthen cried aloud in their anguish
"We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pre!"
Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farmyards
Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle
Came on the evening breezeby the barking of dogs interrupted.



-61-



Then rose a sound of dreadsuch as startles the sleeping encampments
Far in the western prairies or forests that skirt the Nebraska
When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind
Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river.
Such was the sound that arose on the nightas the herds and the horses
Broke through their folds and fencesand madly rushed o'er the meadows.
Overwhelmed with the sightyet speechlessthe priest and the maiden
Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them;
And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion
Lo! from his seat he had fallenand stretched abroad on the seashore
Motionless lay his form from which the soul had departed.
Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless headand the maiden
Knelt at her father's sideand wailed aloud in her terror.
Then in a swoon she sankand lay with her head on his bosom.
Through the long night she lay in deepoblivious slumber;
And when she woke from the tranceshe beheld a multitude near her.



-62-



Faces of friends she beheldthat were mournfully gazing upon her
Pallidwith tearful eyesand looks of saddest compassion.
Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape
Reddened the sky overheadand gleamed on the faces around her
And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses
Then a familiar voice she heardas it said to the people --
"Let us bury him here by the sea. When a happier season
Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile
Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard."
Such were the words of the priest. And there in haste by the seaside
Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches
But without bell or bookthey buried the farmer of Grand-Pre.
And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow
Lo! with a mournful soundlike the voice of a vast congregation
Solemnly answered the seaand mingled its roar with the dirges.
'T was the returning tidethat afar from the waste of the ocean



-63-



With the first dawn of the daycame heaving and hurrying landward.
Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking;
And with the ebb of that tide the ships sailed out of the harbor
Leaving behind them the dead on the shoreand the village in ruins.

II


Now had the season returnedwhen the nights grow colder and longer
And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.
Birds of passage sailed through the leaden airfrom the ice-bound



-30-



Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands.
Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September
Wrestled the trees of the forestsas Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
Beeswith prophetic instinct of wanthad hoarded their honey
Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian hunters asserted
Cold would the winter befor thick was the fur of the foxes.
Such was the advent of autumn. Then followed that beautiful season
Called by the pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to reign upon earthand the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at playthe crowing of cocks in the farmyards
Whir of wings in the drowsy airand the cooing of pigeons
All were subdued and low as the murmurs of loveand the great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around him;



-31-



While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow
Bright with the sheen of the deweach glittering tree of the forest
Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and jewels.
Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness.
Day with its burden and heat had departedand twilight descending
Brought back the evening star to the skyand the herds to the homestead.
Pawing the ground they cameand resting their necks on each other
And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of evening.
Foremostbearing the bellEvangeline's beautiful heifer
Proud of her snow-white hideand the ribbon that waved from her collar
Quietly paced and slowas if conscious of human affection.
Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside
Where was their favorite pasture. Behind them followed the watch-dog
Patientfull of importanceand grand in the pride of his instinct
Walking from side to side with a lordly airand superbly



-32-



Waving his bushy tailand urging forward the stragglers;
Regent of flocks was he went the shepherd slept; their protector
When from the forest at nightthrough the starry silencethe wolves howled.
Latewith the rising moonreturned the wains from the marshes
Laden with briny haythat filled the air with its odor.
Cheerily neighed the steedswith dew on their manes and their fetlocks
While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous saddles
Painted with brilliant dyesand adorned with tassels of crimson
Nodded in bright arraylike hollyhocks heavy with blossoms.
Patiently stood the cows meanwhileand yielded their udders
Unto the milkmaid's hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence
Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended.
Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farmyard
Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank into stillness;
Heavily closedwith a jarring soundthe valves of the barn doors
Rattled the wooden barsand all for a season was silent.
Indoorswarm by the wide-mouthed fireplaceidly the farmer



-33-



Sat in his elbow-chair; and watched how the flames and the smoke-wreaths
Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him
Nodding and mocking along the wallwith gestures fantastic
Darted his own huge shadowand vanished away into darkness.
Facesclumsily carved in oakon the back of his arm-chair
Laughed in the flickering lightand the pewter plates on the dresser
Caught and reflected the flameas shields of armies the sunshine.
Fragments of song the old man sangand carols of Christmas
Such as at homein the olden timehis fathers before him
Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards.
Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated
Spinning flax for the loomthat stood in the corner behind her.
Silent awhile were its treadlesat rest was its diligent shuttle
While the monotonous drone of the wheellike the drone of a bagpipe
Followed the old man's songand united the fragments together.

 



As in a churchwhen the chant of the choir at intervals ceases
Footfalls are heard in the aislesor words of the priest at the altar



-34-



Soin each pause of the songwith measured motion the clock clicked.
Thus as they satthere were footsteps heardandsuddenly lifted
Sounded the wooden latchand the door swung back on its hinges.
Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith
And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him.
"Welcome!" the farmer exclaimedas their footsteps paused on thethreshold
"WelcomeBasilmy friend! Cometake thy place on the settle
Close by the chimney-sidewhich is always empty without thee;
Take from the shelf overhead thy pipe and the box of tobacco;
Never so much thyself art thou as when through the curling
Smoke of the pipe or the forge thy friendly and jovial face gleams
Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes."
Thenwith a smile of contentthus answered Basil the blacksmith
Taking with easy air the accustomed seat by the fireside --
"Benedict Bellefontainethou hast ever thy jest and thy ballad!
Ever in cheerfulest mood art thouwhen others are filled with



-35-



Gloomy forebodings of illand see only ruin before them.
Happy art thouas if every day thou hadst picked up a horseshoe."
Pausing a momentto take the pipe that Evangeline brought him
And with a coal from the embers had lightedhe slowly continued --
"Four days now are passed since the English ships at their anchors
Ride in the Gaspereau's mouthwith their cannon pointed against us.
What their design may be is unknown; but all are commanded
On the morrow to meet in the churchwhere his Majesty's mandate
Will be proclaimed as law in the land. Alas! in the mean time
Many surmises of evil alarm the hearts of the people."
Then made answer the farmer: "Perhaps some friendlier purpose
Brings these ships to our shores. Perhaps the harvests in England



-36-



By the untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted
And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and children."
"Not so thinketh the folk in the village" saidwarmlytheblacksmith
Shaking his headas in doubt; thenheaving a sighhe continued --
"Louisburg is not forgottennor Beau Sejournor Port Royal.
Many already have fled to the forestand lurk on its outskirts
Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious fate of to-morrow.
Arms have been taken from usand warlike weapons of all kinds;
Nothing is left but the blacksmith's sledge and the scythe of the mower."
Then with a pleasant smile made answer the jovial farmer:
"Safer are we unarmedin the midst of our flocks and our cornfields
Safer within these peaceful dikesbesieged by the ocean
Than were our fathers in fortsbesieged by the enemy's cannon.



-37-



Fear no evilmy friendand to-night may no shadow of sorrow
Fall on this house and hearth; for this is the night of the contract.
Built are the house and the barn. The merry lads of the village
Strongly have built them and well; andbreaking the glebe round about them
Filled the barn with hayand the house with food for a twelvemonth.
Rene Leblanc will be here anonwith his papers and inkhorn.
Shall we not then be gladand rejoice in the joy of our children?"
As apart by the window she stoodwith her hand in her lover's
Blushing Evangeline heard the words that her father had spoken
And as they died on his lips the worthy notary entered.

III


BENT like a laboring oarthat toils in the surf of the ocean
Bentbut not brokenby age was the form of the notary public;



-38-



Shocks of yellow hairlike the silken floss of the maizehung
Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn bows
Sat astride on his nosewith a look of wisdom supernal.

 



Father of twenty children was heand more than a hundred
Children's children rode on his kneeand heard his great watch tick.
Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive
Suffering much in an old French fort as the friend of the English.
Nowthough warier grownwithout all guile or suspicion
Ripe in wisdom was hebut patientand simple and childlike.
He was beloved by alland most of all by the children;
For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest
And of the goblin that came in the night to water the horses
And of the white Letichethe ghost of a child who unchristened



-39-



Diedand was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children;
And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable
And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell
And of the marvelous powers of four-leaved clover and horseshoes
With whatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village.
Then up rose from his seat by the fireside Basil the blacksmith
Knocked from his pipe the ashesand slowly extending his right hand
"Father Leblanc" he exclaimed"thou hast heard the talk in thevillage
Andperchancecanst tell us some news of these ships and their errand."
Then with modest demeanor made answer the notary public --
"Gossip enough have I heardin soothyet am never the wiser;
And what their errand may be I know not better than others.
Yet am I not of those who imagine some evil intention
Brings them herefor we are at peace; and why then molest us?"



-40-



"God's name!" shouted the hasty and somewhat irascible blacksmith;
"Must we in all things look for the howand the whyand the wherefore?
Daily injustice is doneand might is the right of the strongest!"
Butwithout heeding his warmthcontinued the notary public --
"Man is unjustbut God is just; and finally justice
Triumphs; and well I remember a storythat often consoled me
When as a captive I lay in the old French fort at Port Royal."
This was the old man's favorite taleand he loved to repeat it
When his neighbors complained that any injustice was done them.
"Once in an ancient citywhose name I no longer remember
Raised aloft on a columna brazen statue of Justice
Stood in the public squareupholding the scales in its left hand
And in its right a swordas an emblem that justice presided
Over the laws of the landand the hearts and homes of the people.
Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance
Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine above them.
But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted;



-41-



Might took the place of rightand the weak were oppressedand the mighty
Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced in a nobleman's palace
That a necklace of pearls was lostand ere long a suspicion
Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household.
Sheafter form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold
Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice.
As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended
Lo! o'er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder
Smote the statue of bronzeand hurled in wrath from its left hand
Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance
And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie
Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was inwoven."
Silencedbut not convincedwhen the story was endedthe blacksmith
Stood like a man who fain would speakbut findeth no language;
All his thoughts were congealed into lines on his faceas the vapors
Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes in the winter.



-42-



Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table
Filledtill it overflowedthe pewter tankard with home-brewed
Nut-brown alethat was famed for its strength in the village of Grand-Pre;
While from his pocket the notary drew his papers and inkhorn
Wrote with a steady hand the date and the age of the parties
Naming the dower of the bride in flocks of sheep and in cattle.
Orderly all things proceededand duly and well were completed
And the great seal of the law was set like a sun on the margin.
Then from his leathern pouch the farmer threw on the table
Three times the old man's fee in solid pieces of silver;
And the notary risingand blessing the bride and the bridegroom
Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank to their welfare.
Wiping the foam from his liphe solemnly bowed and departed
While in silence the others sat and mused by the fire-side
Till Evangeline brought the draught-board out of its corner.
Soon was the game begun. In friendly contention the old men
Laughed at each lucky hitor unsuccessful manoeuver
Laughed when a man was crownedor a breach was made in the king-row.



-43-



Meanwhile apartin the twilight gloom of a window's embrasure
Sat the loversand whispered togetherbeholding the moon rise
Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows.
Silently one by onein the infinite meadows of heaven
Blossomed the lovely starsthe forget-me-nots of the angels.
Thus passed the evening away. Anon the bell from the belfry
Rang out the hour of ninethe village curfewand straightway
Rose the guests and departed; and silence reigned in the household.
Many a farewell word and sweet good-night on the doorstep
Lingered long in Evangeline's heartand filled it with gladness.
Carefully then were covered the embers that glowed on the hearthstone
And on the oaken stairs resounded the tread of the farmer.
Soon with a soundless step the foot of Evangeline followed.
Up the staircase moved a luminous space in the darkness



-44-



Lighted less by the lamp than the shining face of the maiden.
Silent she passed through the halland entered the door of her chamber.
Simple that chamber waswith its curtains of whiteand its clothes-press
Ample and highon whose spacious shelves were carefully folded
Linen and woolen stuffsby the hand of Evangeline woven.
This was the precious dower she would bring to her husband in marriage
Better than flocks and herdsbeing proofs of her skill as a housewife.
Soon she extinguished her lampfor the mellow and radiant moonlight
Streamed through the windowsand lighted the roomtill the heart of the maiden
Swelled and obeyed its powerlike the tremulous tides of the ocean.
Ah! she was fairexceeding fair to beholdas she stood with
Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming floor of her chamber!
Little she dreamed that belowamong the trees of the orchard
Waited her lover and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow.
Yet were her thoughts of himand at times a feeling of sadness
Passed o'er her soulas the sailing shade of clouds in the moonlight
Flitted across the floor and darkened the room for a moment.



-45-



And as she gazed from the window she saw serenely the moon pass
Forth from the folds of a cloudand one star follow her footsteps
As out of Abraham's tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar!

IV


PLEASANTLY rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pre.
Pleasantly gleamed in the softsweet air the Basin of Minas
Where the shipswith their wavering shadowswere riding at anchor.
Life had long been astir in the villageand clamorous labor
Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning.
Now from the country aroundfrom the farms and the neighboring hamlets
Came in their holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants.
Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk
Made the bright air brighteras up from the numerous meadows
Where no path could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward
Group after group appearedand joinedor passed on the highway.
Long ere noonin the village all sounds of labor were silenced.



-46-



Thronged were the streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors

 



Sat in the cheerful sunand rejoiced and gossiped together
Every house was an innwhere all were welcomed and feasted;
For with this simple peoplewho lived like brothers together
All things were held in commonand what one had was another's.
Yet under Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant:
For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father;
Bright was her face with smilesand words of welcome and gladness
Fell from her beautiful lipsand blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open skyin the odorous air of the orchard
Bending with golden fruitwas spread the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;
There good Benedict satand sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
Not far withdrawn from theseby the cider-press and the beehives
Michael the fiddler was placedwith the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.

 



Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white
Hairas it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler



-47-



Glowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.
Gayly the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle
Tous les Bourgeois de Chartresand Le Carillon de Dunkerque
And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music.
Merrilymerrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances
Under the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;
Old folk and young togetherand children mingled among them.
Fairest of all the maids was EvangelineBenedict's daughter!
Noblest of all the youths was Gabrielson of the blacksmith!
So passed the morning away. And lo! with a summons sonorous
Sounded the bell from its towerand over the meadows a drum beat.

Then uprose their commanderand spake from the steps of the altar.






-48-



Thronged ere long was the church with men. Withoutin the churchyard
Waited the women. They stood by the gravesand hung on the headstones
Garlands of autumn leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
Then came the guard from the shipsand marching proudly among them
Entered the sacred portal. With loud and dissonant clangor
Echoed the sound of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement --
Echoed a moment onlyand slowly the ponderous portal
Closedand in silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their commanderand spake from the steps of the altar
Holding aloft in his handswith its sealsthe royal commission.
"You are convened this day" he said"by his Majesty's orders.
Clement and kind has he been; but how you have answered his kindness
Let your own hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper
Painful the task is I dowhich to you I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and obeyand deliver the will of our monarch;
Namelythat all your landsand dwellingsand cattle of all kinds



-49-



Forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province
Be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there
Ever as faithful subjectsa happy and peaceable people!
Prisoners now I declare you; for such is his Majesty's pleasure!"
Aswhen the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer
Suddenly gathers a stormand the deadly sling of the hailstones
Beats down the farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows
Hiding the sunand strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs
Bellowing fly the herdsand seek to break their inclosures;
So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonderand then rose
Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger
Andby one impulse movedthey madly rushed to the doorway.
Vain was the hope of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations
Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
Rosewith his arms upliftedthe figure of Basil the blacksmith
Ason a stormy seaa spar is tossed by the billows.



-50-



Flushed was his face and distorted with passionand wildly he shouted --
"Down with the tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance!
Death to these foreign soldierswho seize on our homes and our harvests!"
More he fain would have saidbut the merciless hand of a soldier
Smote him upon the mouthand dragged him down to the pavement.
In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention
Lo! the door of the chancel openedand Father Felician
Enteredwith serious mienand ascended the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend handwith a gesture he awed into silence
All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people;
Deep were his tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
Spake heasafter the tocsin's alarumdistinctly the clock strikes.
"What is this that ye domy children? what madness has seized you?
Forty years of my life have I labored among youand taught you
Not in word alonebut in deedto love one another!



-51-



Is this the fruit of my toilsof my vigils and prayers and privations?
Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness?
This is the house of the Prince of Peaceand would you profane it
Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?
Lo! where the crucified Christ from His cross is gazing upon you!
See! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!
Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer'O Fatherforgive them!'
Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us
Let us repeat it nowand say'O Fatherforgive them!'"
Few were his words of rebukebut deep in the hearts of his people
Sank theyand sobs of contrition succeeded that passionate outbreak;
And they repeated his prayerand said"O Fatherforgive them!"
Then came the evening service. The tapers gleamed from the altar.
Fervent and deep was the voice of the priestand the people responded
Not with their lips alonebut their hearts; and the Ave Maria
Sang theyand fell on their kneesand their soulswith devotion translated

 






-52-



Rose on the ardor of prayerlike Elijah ascending to heaven.
Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of illand on all sides
Wanderedwailingfrom house to house the women and children.
Long at her father's door Evangeline stoodwith her right hand
Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sunthatdescending
Lighted the village street with mysterious splendorand roofed each
Peasant's cottage with golden thatchand emblazoned its windows.
Long within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table;
There stood the wheaten loafand the honey fragrant with wild flowers;
There stood the tankard of aleand the cheese fresh brought from the dairy;
And at the head of the board the great armchair of the farmer.
Thus did Evangeline wait at her father's dooras the sunset
Threw the long shadows of trees o'er the broad ambrosial meadows.
Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen
And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended --
Charitymeeknessloveand hopeand forgivenessand patience!

 






-53-



Thenall-forgetful of selfshe wandered into the village
Cheering with looks and words the disconsolate hearts of the women
As o'er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed
Urged by their household caresand the weary feet of their children.
Down sank the great red sunand in goldenglimmering vapors
Veiled the light of his facelike the Prophet descending from Sinai.
Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
Meanwhileamid the gloomby the church Evangeline lingered.
All was silent within; and in vain at the door and the windows
Stood sheand listened and lookeduntilovercome by emotion
"Gabriel!" cried she aloud with tremulous voice; but no answer
Came from the graves of the deadnor the gloomier grave of the living
Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father.
Smouldered the fire on the hearthon the board stood the supper untasted
Empty and drear was each roomand haunted with phantoms of terror.
Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber.



-54-



In the dead of the night she heard the whispering rain fall
Loud on the withered leaves of the sycamore-tree by the window.
Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of the echoing thunder
Told her that God was in heavenand governed the world he created!
Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of heaven;
Soothed was her troubled souland she peacefully slumbered till morning.

V


FOUR times the sun had risen and set; and now on the fifth day
Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farmhouse.
Soon o'er the yellow fieldsin silent and mournful procession
Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women
Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the seashore
Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings
Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.
Close at their sides their children ranand urged on the oxen
While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.
There to the Gaspereau's mouth they hurried; and there on the sea-beach



-55-



Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants.
All day long the wains came laboring down from the village.
Late in the afternoonwhen the sun was near to his setting
Echoing far o'er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard.
Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors
Openedand forth came the guardand marching in gloomy procession
Followed the long-imprisonedbut patientAcadian farmers.
Even as pilgrimswho journey afar from their homes and their country
Sing as they goand in singing forget they are weary and wayworn
So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended
Down from the church to the shoreamid their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; andraising together their voices
Sang they with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions --
"Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain!
Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!"
Then the old menas they marchedand the women that stood by the wayside



-56-



Joined in the sacred psalmand the birds in the sunshine above them
Mingled their notes therewithlike voices of spirits departed.
Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence
Not overcome with griefbut strong in the hour of affliction --
Calmly and sadly waiteduntil the procession approached her
And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion.
Tears then filled her eyesandeagerly running to meet him
Clasped she his handsand laid her head on his shoulder and whispered --
"Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another
Nothingin truthcan harm uswhatever mischances may happen!"
Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly pausedfor her father
Saw she slowly advancing. Alas! how changed was his aspect!
Gone was the glow from his cheekand the fire from his eyeand his footstep
Heavier seemed with the weight of the weary heart in his bosom.



-57-



But with a smile and a sigh she clasped his neck and embraced him
Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not.
Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession.
There disorder prevailedand the tumult and stir of embarking.
Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion
Wives were torn from their husbandsand motherstoo latesaw their children
Left on the landextending their armswith wildest entreaties.
So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried
While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father.
Half the task was not done when the sun went downand the twilight
Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean
Fled away from the shoreand left the line of the sand-beach
Covered with waifs of the tidewith kelp and the slippery seaweed.
Farther back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons
Like to a gypsy campor a leaguer after a battle
All escape cut off by the seaand the sentinels near them
Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers.



-58-



Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean
Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebblesand leaving
Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors.
Thenas the night descendedthe herds returned from their pastures;
Sweet was the moist still air with the odor of milk from their udders;
Lowing they waitedand longat the well-known bars of the farmyard --
Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid.
Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded
Rose no smoke from the roofsand gleamed no lights from the windows.
But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled
Built of the driftwood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest.
Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered
Voices of women were heardand of menand the crying of children.
Onward from fire to fireas from hearth to hearth in his parish
Wandered the faithful priestconsoling and blessing and cheering
Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-shore.

Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him.



Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father



-59-



And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man
Haggard and hollow and wanand without either thought or emotion
E'en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken.
Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him
Vainly offered him food; yet he moved nothe looked nothe spake not
Butwith a vacant stareever gazed at the flickering firelight.
"Benedicite!" murmured the priestin tones of compassion.
More he fain would have saidbut his heart was fulland his accents
Faltered and paused on his lipsas the feet of a child on a threshold
Hushed by the scene he beholdsand the awful presence of sorrow.
Silentlythereforehe laid his hand on the head of the maiden
Raising his eyesfull of tearsto the silent stars that above them
Moved on their wayunperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals.
Then sat he down at her sideand they wept together in silence.
Suddenly rose from the south a lightas in autumn the blood-red
Moon climbs the crystal walls of heavenand o'er the horizon



-60-



Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow
Seizing the rocks and the riversand piling huge shadows together.
Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village
Gleamed on the sky and the seaand the ships that lay in the roadstead.
Columns of shining smoke uproseand flashes of flame were
Thrust through their folds and withdrawnlike the quivering hands of a martyr.
Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatchanduplifting
Whirled them aloft through the airat once from a hundred housetops
Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.
These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard.
Speechless at first they stoodthen cried aloud in their anguish
"We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pre!"
Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farmyards
Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle
Came on the evening breezeby the barking of dogs interrupted.



-61-



Then rose a sound of dreadsuch as startles the sleeping encampments
Far in the western prairies or forests that skirt the Nebraska
When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind
Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river.
Such was the sound that arose on the nightas the herds and the horses
Broke through their folds and fencesand madly rushed o'er the meadows.
Overwhelmed with the sightyet speechlessthe priest and the maiden
Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them;
And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion
Lo! from his seat he had fallenand stretched abroad on the seashore
Motionless lay his form from which the soul had departed.
Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless headand the maiden
Knelt at her father's sideand wailed aloud in her terror.
Then in a swoon she sankand lay with her head on his bosom.
Through the long night she lay in deepoblivious slumber;
And when she woke from the tranceshe beheld a multitude near her.



-62-



Faces of friends she beheldthat were mournfully gazing upon her
Pallidwith tearful eyesand looks of saddest compassion.
Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape
Reddened the sky overheadand gleamed on the faces around her
And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses
Then a familiar voice she heardas it said to the people --
"Let us bury him here by the sea. When a happier season
Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile
Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard."
Such were the words of the priest. And there in haste by the seaside
Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches
But without bell or bookthey buried the farmer of Grand-Pre.
And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow
Lo! with a mournful soundlike the voice of a vast congregation
Solemnly answered the seaand mingled its roar with the dirges.
'T was the returning tidethat afar from the waste of the ocean



-63-



With the first dawn of the daycame heaving and hurrying landward.
Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking;
And with the ebb of that tide the ships sailed out of the harbor
Leaving behind them the dead on the shoreand the village in ruins.

 




PART THE SECOND

 

 

PART THE SECOND


I


MANY a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pre
When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed
Bearing a nationwith all its household godsinto exile
Exile without an endand without an example in story.
Far asunderon separate coaststhe Acadians landed;
Scattered were theylike flakes of snow when the wind from the northeast
Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland.
Friendlesshomelesshopelessthey wandered from city to city



-64-



From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas --
From the bleak shores of the sea to the lands where the Father of Waters
Seizes the hills in his handsand drags them down to the ocean
Deep in their sands to bury the scattered bones of the mammoth.
Friends they sought and homes; and manydespairingheartbroken
Asked of the earth but a graveand no longer a friend nor a fireside.
Written their history stands on tablets of stone in the churchyards.
Long among them was seen a maiden who waited and wandered
Lowly and meek in spiritand patiently suffering all things.
Fair was she and young; butalas! before her extended
Dreary and vast and silentthe desert of lifewith its pathway
Marked by the graves of those who had sorrowed and suffered before her
Passions long extinguishedand hopes long dead and abandoned
As the emigrant's way o'er the Western desert is marked by



-65-



Camp-fires long consumedand bones that bleach in the sunshine.
Something there was in her life incompleteimperfectunfinished;
As if a morning of Junewith all its music and sunshine
Suddenly paused in the skyandfadingslowly descended
Into the east againfrom whence it late had arisen.
Sometimes she lingered in townstillurged by the fever within her
Urged by a restless longingthe hunger and thirst of the spirit
She would commence again her endless search and endeavor;
Sometimes in churchyards strayedand gazed on the crosses and tombstones

 



Sat by some nameless graveand thought that perhaps in its bosom
He was already at restand she longed to slumber beside him.
Sometimes a rumora hearsayan inarticulate whisper
Came with its airy hand to point and beckon her forward.
Sometimes she spake with those who had seen her beloved and known him
But it was long agoin some far-off place or forgotten.
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said they; "Oyes! we have seen him.
He was with Basil the blacksmithand both have gone to the prairies;



-66-



Coureurs-des-Bois are theyand famous hunters and trappers"
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said others; "Oyes! we have seen him.
He is a Voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana."
Then would they say: "Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer?
Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel? others
Who have hearts as tender and trueand spirits as loyal?
Here is Baptiste Leblancthe notary's sonwho has loved thee
Many a tedious year; comegive him thy hand and be happy!
Thou art too fair to be left to braid St. Catherine's tresses."
Then would Evangeline answerserenely but sadly -- "I cannot!
Whither my heart has gonethere follows my handand not elsewhere.
For when the heart goes beforelike a lampand illumines the pathway
Many things are made clearthat else lie hidden in darkness."



-67-



And thereupon the priesther friend and father-confessor
Saidwith a smile -- "O daughter! thy God thus speaketh within thee!
Talk not of wasted affectionaffection never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of anotherits watersreturning
Back to their springslike the rainshall fill them full of refreshment;
That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
Patience; accomplish thy labor; accomplish thy work of affection!
Sorrow and silence are strongand patient endurance is godlike
Therefore accomplish thy labor of lovetill the heart is made godlike
Purifiedstrengthenedperfectedand rendered more worthy of heaven!"
Cheered by the good man's wordsEvangeline labored and waited.
Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the ocean
But with its sound there was mingled a voice that whispered"Despair not!"
Thus did that poor soul wander in want and cheerless discomfort
Bleedingbarefootedover the shards and thorns of existence.
Let me essayO Muse! to follow the wanderer's footsteps;



-68-



Not through each devious patheach changeful year of existence;
But as a traveler follows a streamlet's course through the valley;
Far from its margin at timesand seeing the gleam of its water
Here and therein some open spaceand at intervals only:
Then drawing nearer its banksthrough sylvan glooms that conceal it
Though he behold it nothe can hear its continuous murmur;
Happyat lengthif he find the spot where it reaches an outlet.

II


It was the month of May. Far down the Beautiful River
Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth of the Wabash
Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi
Floated a cumbrous boatthat was rowed by Acadian boatmen.
It was a band of exiles; a raftas it werefrom the shipwrecked
Nationscattered along the coastnow floating together
Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a common misfortune;



-69-



Men and women and childrenwhoguided by hope or by hearsay
Sought for their kith and their kin among the few-acred farmers
On the Acadian coastand the prairies of fair Opelousas.
With them Evangeline wentand her guidethe Father Felician.
Onwardo'er sunken sandsthrough a wilderness somber with forests
Day after day they glided adown the turbulent river;
Night after nightby their blazing firesencamped on its borders
Now through rushing chutesamong green islandswhere plumelike
Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy creststhey swept with the current

 



Then emerged into broad lagoonswhere silvery sandbars
Lay in the streamand along the wimpling waves of their margin
Shining with snow-white plumeslarge flocks of pelicans waded.
Level the landscape grewand along the shores of the river
Shaded by china-treesin the midst of luxuriant gardens



-70-



Stood the houses of planterswith negro-cabins and dove-cotes.
They were approaching the region where reigns perpetual summer
Where through the Golden Coastand groves of orange and citron
Sweeps with majestic curve the river away to the eastward.
Theytooswerved from their course; andentering the Bayou of Plaquemine
Soon were lost in a maze of sluggish and devious waters
Whichlike a network of steelextended in every direction.
Over their heads the towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress
Met in a dusky archand trailing mosses in mid-air
Waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals.
Deathlike the silence seemedand unbrokensave by the herons
Home to their roosts in the cedar-trees returning at sunset
Or by the owlas he greeted the moon with demoniac laughter.
Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced and gleamed on the water



-71-



Gleamed on the columns of cypress and cedar sustaining the arches
Down through whose broken vaults it fell as through chinks in a ruin.
Dreamlikeand indistinctand strange were all things around them;
And o'er their spirits there came a feeling of wonder and sadness --
Strange forebodings of illunseen and that cannot be compassed.
Asat the tramp of a horse's hoof on the turf of the prairies
Far in advance are closed the leaves of the shrinking mimosa
Soat the hoof-beats of fatewith sad forebodings of evil
Shrinks and closes the heartere the stroke of doom has attained it.
But Evangeline's heart was sustained by a visionthat faintly
Floated before her eyesand beckoned her on through the moonlight.
It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom.
Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her
And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.



-72-



Then in his placeat the prow of the boatrose one of the oarsmen
Andas a signal soundif others like them peradventure
Sailed on those gloomy and midnight streamsblew a blast on his bugle.
Wild through the dark colonnades and corridors leafy the blast rang
Breaking the seal of silenceand giving tongues to the forest.
Soundless above them the banners of moss just stirred to the music.
Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in the distance
Over the watery floorand beneath the reverberant branches;
But not a voice replied; no answer came from the darkness;
And when the echoes had ceasedlike a sense of pain was the silence.
Then Evangeline slept; but the boatmen rowed through the midnight
Silent at timesthen singing familiar Canadian boat-songs
Such as they sang of old on their own Acadian rivers
And through the night were heard the mysterious sounds of the desert
Far offindistinctas of wave or wind in the forest
Mixed with the whoop of the crane and the roar of the grim alligator.
Thus ere another noon they emerged from those shades; and before them
Layin the golden sunthe lakes of the Atchafalaya.



-73-



Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulations
Made by the passing oarsandresplendent in beautythe lotus
Lifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.
Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms
And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands
Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses
Near to whose shores they glided alonginvited to slumber.
Soon by the fairest of these their weary oars were suspended.
Under the boughs of Wachita willowsthat grew by the margin
Safely their boat was moored; and scattered about on the greensward
Tired with their midnight toilthe weary travelers slumbered.
Over them vast and high extended the cope of a cedar.
Swinging from its great armsthe trumpet-flower and the grape-vine



-74-



Hung their ladder of ropes aloft like the ladder of Jacob
On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascendingdescending
Were the swift humming-birdsthat flitted from blossom to blossom.
Such was the vision Evangeline saw as she slumbered beneath it.
Filled was her heart with loveand the dawn of an opening heaven
Lighted her soul in sleep with the glory of regions celestial.
Nearer and ever neareramong the numberless islands
Darted a lightswift boatthat sped away o'er the water
Urged on its course by the sinewy arms of hunters and trappers.
Northward its prow was turnedto the land of the bison and beaver.
At the helm sat a youthwith countenance thoughtful and careworn.
Dark and neglected locks overshadowed his browand a sadness
Somewhat beyond his years on his face was legibly written.
Gabriel was itwhoweary with waitingunhappy and restless
Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow.
Swiftly they glided alongclose under the lee of the island
But by the opposite bankand behind a screen of palmettos



-75-



So that they saw not the boatwhere it lay concealed in the willows
And undisturbed by the dash of their oarsand unseenwere the sleepers;
Angel of God was there none to awaken the slumbering maiden.
Swiftly they glided awaylike the shade of a cloud on the prairie.
After the sound of their oars on the tholes had died in the distance
As from a magic trance the sleepers awokeand the maiden
Said with a sigh to the friendly priest -- "O Father Felician!
Something says in my heart that near me Gabriel wanders.
Is it a foolish dreaman idle vague superstition?
Or has an angel passedand revealed the truth to my spirit?"
Thenwith a blushshe added -- "Alas for my credulous fancy!
Unto ears like thine such words as these have no meaning."
But made answer the reverend manand he smiled as he answered --
"Daughterthy words are not idle; nor are they to me without meaning.
Feeling is deep and still; and the word that floats on the surface
Is as the tossing buoythat betrays where the anchor is hidden.
Therefore trust to thy heartand to what the world calls illusions.
Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far away to the southward



-76-



On the banks of the Teche are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom
There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheepfold.

 



Beautiful is the landwith its prairies and forests of fruit-trees;
Under the feet a garden of flowersand the bluest of heavens
Bending aboveand resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana."
And with these words of cheer they arose and continued their journey.
Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon
Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape;
Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest
Seemed all on fire at the touchand melted and mingled together.
Ranging between two skiesa cloud with edges of silver
Floated the boatwith its dripping oarson the motionless water.
Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible sweetness.
Touched by the magic spellthe sacred fountains of feeling
Glowing with the light of loveas the skies and waters around her.



-77-



Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-birdwildest of singers
Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water
Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music
That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.
Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness
Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes.
Single notes were then heardin sorrowfullow lamentation;
Tillhaving gathered them allhe flung them abroad in derision
As whenafter a storma gust of wind through the tree-tops
Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches.
With such a prelude as thisand hearts that throbbed with emotion
Slowly they entered the Techewhere it flows through the green Opelousas
And through the amber airabove the crest of the woodland
Saw the column of smoke that arose from a neighboring dwelling;
Sounds of a horn they heardand the distant lowing of cattle.



-78-




III


NEAR to the bank of the rivero'ershadowed by oaksfrom whose branches
Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe flaunted
Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide
Stoodsecluded and stillthe house of the herdsman. A garden
Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant blossoms
Filling the air with fragrance. The house itself was of timbers
Hewn from the cypress-treeand carefully fitted together.
Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported
Rose-wreathedvine-encircleda broad and spacious veranda
Haunt of the humming-bird and the beeextended around it.
At each end of the houseamid the flowers of the garden
Stationed the dove-cotes wereas love's perpetual symbol



-79-



Scenes of endless wooingand endless contentions of rivals.
Silence reigned o'er the place. The line of shadow and sunshine
Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow
And from its chimney-topascending and slowly expanding
Into the evening aira thin blue column of smoke rose.
In the rear of the housefrom the garden gateran a pathway
Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie
Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending.
Full in his track of lightlike ships with shadowy canvas
Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics
Stood a cluster of treeswith tangled cordage of grape-vines.
Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie
Mounted upon his horsewith Spanish saddle and stirrups
Sat a herdsmanarrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin.
Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero
Gazed on the peaceful scenewith the lordly look of its master.
Round about him were numberless herds of kinethat were grazing



-80-



Quietly in the meadowsand breathing the vapory freshness
That uprose from the riverand spread itself over the landscape.
Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his sideand expanding
Fully his broaddeep chesthe blew a blastthat resounded
Wildly and sweet and farthrough the still damp air of the evening.
Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle
Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean.
Silent a moment they gazedthen bellowing rushed o'er the prairie
And the whole mass became a clouda shade in the distance.
Thenas the herdsman turned to the housethrough the gate of the garden
Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him.
Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazementand forward
Rushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder;
When they beheld his facethey recognized Basil the Blacksmith.
Hearty his welcome wasas he led his guests to the garden.
There in an arbor of roses with endless question and answer
Gave they vent to their heartsand renewed their friendly embraces



-81-



Laughing and weeping by turnsor sitting silent and thoughtful.
Thoughtfulfor Gabriel came not; and now dark doubts and misgivings
Stole o'er the maiden's heart; and Basilsomewhat embarrassed
Broke the silence and said -- "If you come by the Atchafalaya
How have you nowhere encountered my Gabriel's boat on the bayous?"
Over Evangeline's face at the words of Basil a shade passed.
Tears came into her eyesand she saidwith a tremulous accent --
"Gone? is Gabriel gone?" andconcealing her face on his shoulder
All her o'erburdened heart gave wayand she wept and lamented.
Then the good Basil said -- and his voice grew blithe as he said it --
"Be of good cheermy child; it is only to-day he departed.
Foolish boy! he has left me alone with my herds and my horses.
Moody and restless grownand tried and troubledhis spirit
Could no longer endure the calm of this quiet existence.
Thinking ever of theeuncertain and sorrowful ever
Ever silentor speaking only of thee and his troubles
He at length had become so tedious to men and to maidens
Tedious even to methat at length I bethought me and sent him



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Unto the town of Adayes to trade for mules with the Spaniards.
Thence he will follow the Indian trails to the Ozark Mountains
Hunting for furs in the forestson rivers trapping the beaver.
Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow the fugitive lover;
He is not far on his wayand the Fates and the streams are against him.

"Gone? is Gabriel gone?" andconcealing her face on his shoulder... she wept.



Up and away to-morrowand through the red dew of the morning
We will follow him fast and bring him back to his prison."
Then glad voices were heardand up from the banks of the river
Borne aloft on his comrades' armscame Michael the fiddler.
Long under Basil's roof had he lived like a god on Olympus
Having no other care than dispensing music to mortals
Far renowned was he for his silver locks and his fiddle.
"Long live Michael" they cried"our brave Acadian minstrel!"
As they bore him aloft in triumphal procession; and straightway
Father Felician advanced with Evangelinegreeting the old man



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Kindly and oftand recalling the pastwhile Basilenraptured
Hailed with hilarious joy his old companions and gossips
Laughing loud and longand embracing mothers and daughters.
Much they marvelled to see the wealth of the ci-devant blacksmith
All his domains and his herdsand his patriarchal demeanor;
Much they marveled to hear his tales of the soil and the climate
And of the prairieswhose numberless herds were his who would take them;
Each one thought in his heart that hetoowould go and do likewise.
Thus they ascended the stepsandcrossing the airy veranda
Entered the hall of the housewhere already the supper of Basil
Waited his late return; and they rested and feasted together.
Over the joyous feast the sudden darkness descended.
All was silent withoutand illuming the landscape with silver
Fair rose the dewy moon and the myriad stars; but within doors
Brighter than theseshone the faces of friends in the glimmering lamplight.
Then from his station aloftat the head of the tablethe herdsman
Poured forth his heart and his wine together in endless profusion.



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Lighting his pipethat was filled with sweet Natchitoches tobacco
Thus he spake to his guestswho listenedand smiled as they listened:
"Welcome once moremy friendswho so long have been friendless andhomeless
Welcome once more to a homethat is better perchance than the old one!
Here no hungry winter congeals our blood like the rivers;
Here no stony ground provokes the wrath of the farmer.
Smoothly the plowshare runs through the soil as a keel through the water.
All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows
More in a single night than a whole Canadian summer.
Heretoonumberless herds run wild and unclaimed in the prairies;
Heretoolands may be had for the askingand forests of timber
With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses.
After your houses are builtand your fields are yellow with harvests
No King George of England shall drive you away from your homesteads
Burning your dwellings and barnsand stealing your farms and your cattle."
Speaking these wordshe blew a wrathful cloud from his nostrils
And his hugebrawny hand came thundering down on the table



-85-



So that the guests all started; and Father Felicianastounded
Suddenly pausedwith a pinch of snuff half-way to his nostrils.
But the brave Basil resumedand his words were milder and gayer --
"Only beware of the fevermy friendsbeware of the fever!
For it is not like that of our cold Acadian climate
Cured by wearing a spider hung round one's neck in a nutshell!"
Then there were voices heard at the doorand footsteps approaching
Sounded upon the stairs and the floor of the breezy veranda.
It was the neighboring Creoles and small Acadian planters
Who had been summoned all to the house of Basil the Herdsman.
Merry the meeting was of ancient comrades and neighbors;
Friend clasped friend in his arms; and they who before were as strangers
Meeting in exilebecame straightway as friends to each other
Drawn by the gentle bond of a common country together.
But in the neighboring hall a strain of musicproceeding
From the accordant strings of Michael's melodious fiddle
Broke up all further speech. Awaylike children delighted



-86-



All things forgotten besidethey gave themselves to the maddening
Whirl of the dizzy danceas it swept and swayed to the music
Dreamlikewith beaming eyes and the rush of fluttering garments.
Meanwhileapartat the head of the hallthe priest and the herdsman
Satconversing together of past and present and future;
While Evangeline stood like one entrancedfor within her
Olden memories roseand loud in the midst of the music
Heard she the sound of the seaand an irrepressible sadness
Came o'er her heartand unseen she stole forth into the garden.
Beautiful was the night. Behind the black wall of the forest
Tipping its summit with silverarose the moon. On the river
Fell here and there through the branches a tremulous gleam of the moonlight
Like the sweet thoughts of love on a darkened and devious spirit.
Nearer and round about herthe manifold flowers of the garden
Poured out their souls in odorsthat were their prayers and confessions
Unto the nightas it went its waylike a silent Carthusian.



-87-



Fuller of fragrance then theyand as heavy with shadows and night-dews
Hung the heart of the maiden. The calm and the magical moonlight
Seemed to inundate her soul with indefinable longings
Asthrough the garden gatebeneath the brown shade of the oak-trees
Passed she along the path to the edge of the measureless prairie.
Silent it laywith a silvery haze upon itand the fire-flies
Gleaming and floating away in mingled and infinite numbers.
Over her head the starsthe thoughts of God in the heavens
Shone on the eyes of manwho had ceased to marvel and worship
Save when a blazing comet was seen on the walls of that temple
As if a hand had appeared and written upon them"Upharsin."
And the soul of the maidenbetween the stars and the fire-flies
Wandered aloneand she cried -- "O Gabriel! O my beloved!
Art thou so near unto meand yet I cannot behold thee?
Art thou so near unto meand yet thy voice does not reach me?



-88-



Ah! how often thy feet have trod this path to the prairie!
Ah! how often thine eyes have looked on the woodlands around me!
Ah! how often beneath this oakreturning from labor
Thou hast lain down to restand to dream of me in thy slumbers.
When shall these eyes beholdthese arms be folded about thee?"
Loud and sudden and near the note of a whippoorwill sounded
Like a flute in the woods; and anonthrough the neighboring thickets
Farther and farther away it floated and dropped into silence.
"Patience!" whispered the oaks from oracular caverns of darkness;
Andfrom the moonlit meadowa sigh responded"To-morrow!"
Bright rose the sun next day; and all the flowers of the garden
Bathed his shining feet with their tearsand anointed his tresses
With the delicious balm that they bore in their vases of crystal.
"Farewell!" said the priestas he stood at the shadowy threshold;
"See that you bring us the Prodigal Son from his fasting and famine

"Art thou so near unto meand yet I cannot behold thee?"



Andtoothe Foolish Virginwho slept when the bridegroom was coming."
"Farewell!" answered the maidenandsmilingwith Basil descended



-89-



Down to the river's brinkwhere the boatmen already were waiting.
Thus beginning their journey with morningand sunshine and gladness
Swiftly they followed the flight of him who was speeding before them
Blown by the blast of fate like a dead leaf over the desert.
Not that daynor the nextnor yet the day that succeeded
Found they trace of his coursein lake or forest or river
Norafter many dayshad they found him; but vague and uncertain
Rumors alone were their guides through a wild and desolate country
Tillat the little inn of the Spanish town of Adayes
Weary and wornthey alightedand learned from the garrulous landlord
That on the day beforewith horses and guides and companions
Gabriel left the villageand took the road of the prairies.

IV


FAR in the West there lies a desert landwhere the mountains
Liftthrough perpetual snowstheir lofty and luminous summits.
Down from their jaggeddeep ravineswhere the gorgelike a gateway
Opens a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrant's wagon



-90-



Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway and Owyhee.
Eastwardwith devious courseamong the Windriver Mountains
Through the Sweetwater Valley precipitate leaps the Nebraska;
And to the southfrom Fontaine-qui-bout and the Spanish sierras
Fretted with sands and rocksand swept by the wind of the desert
Numberless torrentswith ceaseless sounddescend to the ocean
Like the great chords of a harpin loud and solemn vibrations.
Spreading between these streams are the wondrousbeautiful prairies
Billowy bays of grass ever rolling in shadow and sunshine
Bright with luxuriant clusters of roses and purple amorphas.
Over them wander the buffalo herdsand the elk and the roebuck;
Over them wander the wolvesand herds of riderless horses;
Fires that blast and blightand winds that are weary with travel;



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Over them wander the scattered tribes of Ishmael's children
Staining the desert with blood; and above their terrible war-trails
Circles and sails alofton pinions majesticthe vulture
Like the implacable soul of a chieftain slaughtered in battle
By invisible stairs ascending and scaling the heavens.
Here and there rise smokes from the camps of these savage marauders;
Here and there rise groves from the margins of swift-running rivers;
And the grimtaciturn bearthe anchorite monk of the desert
Climbs down their dark ravines to dig for roots by the brookside
And over all is the skythe clear and crystalline heaven
Like the protecting hand of God inverted above them.
Into this wonderful landat the base of the Ozark Mountains
Gabriel far had enteredwith hunters and trappers behind him.
Day after daywith their Indian guidesthe maiden and Basil
followed his flying stepsand thought each day to o'ertake him.
Sometimes they sawor thought they sawthe smoke of his camp-fire



-92-



Rise in the morning air from the distant plain; but at nightfall
When they had reached the placethey found only embers and ashes.
Andthough their hearts were sad at times and their bodies were weary
Hope still guided them onas the magic Fata Morgana
Showed them her lakes of lightthat retreated and vanished before them.
Onceas they sat by their evening firethere silently entered
Into the little camp an Indian womanwhose features
Wore deep traces of sorrowand patience as great as her sorrow.
She was a Shawnee woman returning home to her people
From the far-off hunting-grounds of the cruel Camanches
Where her Canadian husbanda Coureur-des-Boishad been murdered.
Touched were their hearts at her storyand warmest and friendliest welcome
Gave theywith words of cheerand she sat and feasted among them
On the buffalo meat and the venison cooked on the embers.
But when their meal was doneand Basil and all his companions
Worn with the long day's march and the chase of the deer and the bison
Stretched themselves on the groundand slept where the quivering firelight



-93-



Flashed on their swarthy cheeksand their forms wrapped up in their blankets
Then at the door of Evangeline's tent she sat and repeated

 



Slowlywith softlow voiceand the charm of her Indian accent
All the tale of her lovewith its pleasuresand painsand reverses.
Much Evangeline wept at the taleand to know that another
Hapless heart like her own had loved and had been disappointed.
Moved to the depths of her soul by pity and woman's compassion
Yet in her sorrow pleased that one who had suffered was near her
She in turn related her love and all its disasters.
Mute with wonder the Shawnee satand when she had ended
Still was mute; but at lengthas if a mysterious horror
Passed through her brainshe spakeand repeated the tale of the Mowis;



-94-



Mowisthe bridegroom of snowwho won and wedded a maiden
Butwhen the morning camearose and passed from the wigwam
Fading and melting away and dissolving into the sunshine
Till she beheld him no morethough she followed far into the forest.
Thenin those sweetlow tonesthat seem like a weird incantation
Told she the tale of the fair Lilinauwho was wooed by a phantom
Thatthrough the pines o'er her father's lodgein the hush of the twilight
Breathed like the evening windand whispered love to the maiden
Till she followed his green and waving plume through the forest
And never more returnednor was seen again by her people.
Silent with wonder and strange surprise Evangeline listened
To the soft flow of her magical wordstill the region around her
Seemed like enchanted groundand her swarthy guest the enchantress.
Slowly over the tops of the Ozark Mountains the moon rose
Lighting the little tentand with a mysterious splendor
Touching the somber leavesand embracing and filling the woodland.



-95-



With a delicious sound the brook rushed byand the branches
Swayed and sighed overhead in scarcely audible whispers.
Filled with the thoughts of love was Evangeline's heartbut a secret
Subtile sense crept in of pain and indefinite terror
As the coldpoisonous snake creeps into the nest of the swallow.
It was no earthly fear. A breath from the region of spirits
Seemed to float in the air of night; and she felt for a moment
Thatlike the Indian maidshetoowas pursuing a phantom.
And with this thought she sleptand the fear and the phantom had vanished.
Early upon the morrow the march was resumed; and the Shawnee
Saidas they journeyed along -- "On the western slope of these mountains
Dwells in his little village the Black Robe chief of the Mission.
Much he teaches the peopleand tells them of Mary and Jesus;
Loud laugh their hearts with joyand weep with painas they hear him."
Thenwith a sudden and secret emotionEvangeline answered --
"Let us go to the Missionfor there good tidings await us!"



-96-



Thither they turned their steeds; and behind a spur of the mountains
Just as the sun went downthey heard a murmur of voices
And in a meadow green and broadby the bank of a river
Saw the tents of the Christiansthe tents of the Jesuit Mission.
Under a towering oakthat stood in the midst of the village
Knelt the Black Robe chief with his children. A crucifix fastened
High on the trunk of the treeand overshadowed by grape-vines
Looked with its agonized face on the multitude kneeling beneath it.
This was their rural chapel. Aloftthrough the intricate arches
Of its aerial roofarose the chant of their vespers
Mingling its notes with the soft susurrus and sighs of the branches.
Silentwith heads uncoveredthe travelersnearer approaching
Knelt on the swarded floorand joined in the evening devotions.



-97-



But when the service was doneand the benediction had fallen
Forth from the hands of the priestlike seed from the hands of the sower

Under a towering oak ... knelt the Black Robe chief with his children



Slowly the reverend man advanced to the strangersand bade them
Welcome; and when they repliedhe smiled with benignant expression
Hearing the homelike sounds of his mother tongue in the forest
And with words of kindness conducted them into his wigwam.
There upon mats and skins they reposedand on cakes of the maize-ear
Feastedand slaked their thirst from the water-gourd of the teacher.
Soon was their story told; and the priest with solemnity answered:
"Not six suns have risen and set since Gabrielseated
On this mat by my sidewhere now the maiden reposes
Told me this same sad tale; then arose and continued his journey!"
Soft was the voice of the priestand he spake with an accent of kindness;
But on Evangeline's heart fell his words as in winter the snowflakes
Fall into some lone nest from which the birds have departed.
"Far to the north he has gone" continued the priest; "but inautumn
When the chase is donewill return again to the Mission."
Then Evangeline saidand her voice was meek and submissive --



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"Let me remain with theefor my soul is sad and afflicted."
So seemed it wise and well unto all; and betimes on the morrow
Mounting his Mexican steedwith his Indian guides and companions
Homeward Basil returnedand Evangeline stayed at the Mission.
Slowlyslowlyslowly the days succeeded each other --
Days and weeks and months; and the fields of maize that were springing
Green from the ground when a stranger she camenow waving above her
Lifted their slender shaftswith leaves interlacingand forming
Cloisters for mendicant crows and granaries pillaged by squirrels.
Then in the golden weather the maize was buskedand the maidens
Blushed at each blood-red earfor that betokened a lover
But at the crooked laughedand called it a thief in the corn-field.
Even the blood-red ear to Evangeline brought not her lover.
"Patience!" the priest would say; "have faithand thy prayerwill be answered!
Look at this delicate plant that lifts its head from the meadow
See how its leaves all point to the northas true as the magnet;
It is the compass-flowerthat the finger of God has suspended



-99-



Here on its fragile stalkto direct the traveler's journey
Over the sea-likepathlesslimitless waste of the desert.
Such in the soul of man is faith. The blossoms of passion
Gay and luxuriant flowersare brighter and fuller of fragrance
But they beguile usand lead us astrayand their odor is deadly.
Only this humble plant can guide us hereand hereafter
Crown us with asphodel flowersthat are wet with the dews of nepenthe."
So came the autumnand passedand the winter -- yet Gabriel came not;
Blossomed the opening springand the notes of the robin and bluebird
Sounded sweet upon wold and in woodyet Gabriel came not.
But on the breath of the summer winds a rumor was wafted
Sweeter than song of birdor hue or odor of blossom.
Far to the north and eastit saidin the Michigan forests
Gabriel had his lodge by the banks of the Saginaw river.



-100-



Andwith returning guidesthat sought the lakes of St. Lawrence
Saying a sad farewellEvangeline went from the Mission.
When over weary waysby long and perilous marches
She had attained at length the depths of the Michigan forests
Found she the hunter's lodge deserted and fallen to ruin!
Thus did the long sad years glide onand in seasons and places
Divers and distant far was seen the wandering maiden;
Now in the tents of grace of the meek Moravian Missions
Now in the noisy camps and the battle-fields of the army
Now in secluded hamletsin towns and populous cities
Like a phantom she cameand passed away unremembered.
Fair was she and youngwhen in hope began the long journey;
Faded was she and oldwhen in disappointment it ended.
Each succeeding year stole something away from her beauty



-101-



Leaving behind itbroader and deeperthe gloom and the shadow.
Then there appeared and spread faint streaks of gray o'er her forehead
Dawn of another lifethat broke o'er her earthly horizon
As in the eastern sky the first faint streaks of the morning.

V


IN that delightful land which is washed by the Delaware's waters
Guarding in sylvan shades the name of Penn the apostle
Stands on the banks of its beautiful stream the city he founded.
There all the air is balmand the peach is the emblem of beauty
And the streets still re-echo the names of the trees of the forest
As if they fain would appease the Dryads whose haunts they molested.
There from the troubled sea had Evangeline landedan exile
Finding among the children of Penn a home and a country.
There old Rene Leblanc had died; and when he departed



-102-



Saw at his side only one of all his hundred descendants.
Something at least there was in the friendly streets of the city
Something that spake to her heartand made her no longer a stranger:
And her ear was pleased with the Thee and Thou of the Quakers
For it recalled the pastthe old Acadian country
Where all men were equaland all were brothers and sisters.
Sowhen the fruitless searchthe disappointed endeavor
Endedto recommence no more upon earthuncomplaining
Thitheras leaves to the lightwere turned her thoughts and her footsteps.
As from a mountain's top the rainy mists of the morning
Roll awayand afar we behold the landscape below us
Sun-illuminedwith shining rivers and cities and hamlets
So fell the mists from her mindand she saw the world far below her
Dark no longerbut all illumined with love; and the pathway
Which she had climbed so farlying smooth and fair in the distance.
Gabriel was not forgotten. Within her heart was his image
Clothed in the beauty of love and youthas last she beheld him
Only more beautiful made by his deathlike silence and absence.



-103-



Into her thoughts of him time entered notfor it was not.
Over him years had no power; he was not changedbut transfigured;
He had become to her heart as one who is deadand not absent;
Patience and abnegation of selfand devotion to others
This was the lesson a life of trial and sorrow had taught her.
So was her love diffusedbutlike to some odorous spices
Suffered no waste nor lossthough filling the air with aroma.
Other hope had she nonenor wish in lifebut to follow
Meeklywith reverent stepsthe sacred feet of her Saviour.
Thus many years she lived as a Sister of Mercy; frequenting
Lonely and wretched roofs in the crowded lanes of the city
Where distress and want concealed themselves from the sunlight
Where disease and sorrow in garrets languished neglected.
Night after nightwhen the world was asleepas the watchman repeated
Loudthrough the gusty streetsthat all was well in the city
High at some lonely window he saw the light of her taper.

 






-104-



Day after dayin the gray of the dawnas slow through the suburbs
Plodded the German farmerwith flowers and fruits for the market
Met he that meekpale facereturning home from its watchings.
Then it came to pass that a pestilence fell on the city
Presaged by wondrous signsand mostly by flocks of wild pigeons
Darkening the sun in their flightwith naught in their craws but an acorn.
Andas the tides of the sea arise in the month of September
Flooding some silver streamtill it spreads to a lake in a meadow
So death flooded lifeand o'erflowing its natural margin
Spread to a brackish lakethe silver stream of existence.
Wealth had no power to bribenor beauty to charmthe oppressor;
But all perished alike beneath the scourge of his anger --
Onlyalas! the poorwho had neither friends nor attendants
Crept away to die in the almshousehome of the homeless;
Then in the suburbs it stoodin the midst of meadows and woodlands --



-105-



Now the city surrounds it; but still with its gateway and wicket
Meekin the midst of splendorits humble walls seem to echo
Softly the words of the Lord -- "The poor ye always have with you."
Thitherby night and by daycame the Sister of Mercy. The dying
Looked up into her faceand thoughtindeedto behold there
Gleams of celestial light encircle her forehead with splendor
Such as the artist paints o'er the brows of saints and apostles
Or such as hangs by night o'er a city seen at a distance.
Unto their eyes it seemed the lamps of the city celestial
Into whose shining gates ere long their spirits would enter.
Thuson a Sabbath mornthrough the streetsdeserted and silent
Wending her quiet wayshe entered the door of the almshouse.
Sweet on the summer air was the odor of flowers in the garden;
And she paused on her way to gather the fairest among them
That the dying once more might rejoice in their fragrance and beauty.
Thenas she mounted the stairs to the corridorscooled by the east wind



-106-



Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes from the belfry of Christ Church
Whileintermingled with theseacross the meadows were wafted
Sounds of psalmsthat were sung by the Swedes in their church at Wicaco.
Soft as descending wings fell the calm of the hour on her spirit;
Something within her said -- "At length thy trials are ended;"

 



Andwith a light in her looksshe entered the chambers of sickness.
Noiselessly moved about the assiduouscareful attendants
Moistening the feverish lipand the aching browand in silence
Closing the sightless eyes of the deadand concealing their faces
Where on their pallets they laylike drifts of snow by the roadside.
Many a languid headupraised as Evangeline entered
Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while she passedfor her presence
Fell on their hearts like a ray of the sun on the walls of a prison.
Andas she looked aroundshe saw how Deaththe consoler
Laying his hand upon many a hearthad healed it forever.
Many familiar forms had disappeared in the night-time;



-107-



Vacant their places wereor filled already by strangers.
Suddenlyas if arrested by fear or a feeling of wonder
Still she stood with her colorless lips apartwhile a shudder
Ran through her frameandforgottenthe flowerets dropped from her fingers
And from her eyes and cheeks the light and bloom of the morning.
Then there escaped from her lips a cry of such terrible anguish
That the dying heard itand started up from their pillows.
On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an old man.
Longand thinand gray were the locks that shaded his temples;
Butas he lay in the morning lighthis face for a moment
Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier manhood;
So are wont to be changed the faces of those who are dying.
Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever
As if lifelike the Hebrewwith blood had besprinkled its portals
That the Angel of Death might see the signand pass over
Motionlesssenselessdyinghe layand his spirit exhausted



-108-



Seemed to be sinking down to infinite depths in the darkness
Darkness of slumber and deathforever sinking and sinking.
Then through those realms of shadein multiplied reverberations
Heard he that cry of painand through the hush that succeeded
Whispered a gentle voicein accents tender and saint-like
"Gabriel! O my beloved!" and died away into silence.
Then he beheldin a dreamonce more the home of his childhood;
Green Acadian meadowswith sylvan rivers among them
Villageand mountainand woodlands; andwalking under their shadow
As in the days of her youthEvangeline rose in his vision.
Tears came into his eyes; and as slowly he lifted his eyelids
Vanished the vision awaybut Evangeline knelt by his bedside.
Vainly he strove to whisper her namefor the accents unuttered
Died on his lipsand their motion revealed what his tongue would have spoken.
Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangelinekneeling beside him
Kissed his dying lipsand laid his head on her bosom
Sweet was the light of his eyes; but it suddenly sank into darkness
As when a lamp is blown out by a gust of wind at a casement.



-109-



All was ended nowthe hopeand the fearand the sorrow
All the aching of heartthe restlessunsatisfied longing
All the dulldeep painand constant anguish of patience!
Andas she pressed once more the lifeless head to her bosom
Meekly she bowed her ownand murmured"FatherI thank thee!"
Still stands the forest primeval; but far away from its shadow
Side by sidein their nameless gravesthe lovers are sleeping.
Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard
In the heart of the citythey lieunknown and unnoticed;
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them
Thousands of throbbing heartswhere theirs are at rest and forever
Thousands of aching brainswhere theirs no longer are busy
Thousands of toiling handswhere theirs have ceased from their labors
Thousands of weary feetwhere theirs have completed their journey!
Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches



-110-



Dwells another racewith other customs and language.
Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic
Linger a few Acadian peasantswhose fathers from exile
Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom;
In the fisherman's cot the wheel and the loom are still busy;
Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun
And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline's story
While from its rocky caverns the deep-voicedneighboring ocean
Speaksand in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

   

I


MANY a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pre
When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed
Bearing a nationwith all its household godsinto exile
Exile without an endand without an example in story.
Far asunderon separate coaststhe Acadians landed;
Scattered were theylike flakes of snow when the wind from the northeast
Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland.
Friendlesshomelesshopelessthey wandered from city to city



-64-



From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas --
From the bleak shores of the sea to the lands where the Father of Waters
Seizes the hills in his handsand drags them down to the ocean
Deep in their sands to bury the scattered bones of the mammoth.
Friends they sought and homes; and manydespairingheartbroken
Asked of the earth but a graveand no longer a friend nor a fireside.
Written their history stands on tablets of stone in the churchyards.
Long among them was seen a maiden who waited and wandered
Lowly and meek in spiritand patiently suffering all things.
Fair was she and young; butalas! before her extended
Dreary and vast and silentthe desert of lifewith its pathway
Marked by the graves of those who had sorrowed and suffered before her
Passions long extinguishedand hopes long dead and abandoned
As the emigrant's way o'er the Western desert is marked by



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Camp-fires long consumedand bones that bleach in the sunshine.
Something there was in her life incompleteimperfectunfinished;
As if a morning of Junewith all its music and sunshine
Suddenly paused in the skyandfadingslowly descended
Into the east againfrom whence it late had arisen.
Sometimes she lingered in townstillurged by the fever within her
Urged by a restless longingthe hunger and thirst of the spirit
She would commence again her endless search and endeavor;
Sometimes in churchyards strayedand gazed on the crosses and tombstones

 



Sat by some nameless graveand thought that perhaps in its bosom
He was already at restand she longed to slumber beside him.
Sometimes a rumora hearsayan inarticulate whisper
Came with its airy hand to point and beckon her forward.
Sometimes she spake with those who had seen her beloved and known him
But it was long agoin some far-off place or forgotten.
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said they; "Oyes! we have seen him.
He was with Basil the blacksmithand both have gone to the prairies;



-66-



Coureurs-des-Bois are theyand famous hunters and trappers"
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said others; "Oyes! we have seen him.
He is a Voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana."
Then would they say: "Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer?
Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel? others
Who have hearts as tender and trueand spirits as loyal?
Here is Baptiste Leblancthe notary's sonwho has loved thee
Many a tedious year; comegive him thy hand and be happy!
Thou art too fair to be left to braid St. Catherine's tresses."
Then would Evangeline answerserenely but sadly -- "I cannot!
Whither my heart has gonethere follows my handand not elsewhere.
For when the heart goes beforelike a lampand illumines the pathway
Many things are made clearthat else lie hidden in darkness."



-67-



And thereupon the priesther friend and father-confessor
Saidwith a smile -- "O daughter! thy God thus speaketh within thee!
Talk not of wasted affectionaffection never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of anotherits watersreturning
Back to their springslike the rainshall fill them full of refreshment;
That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.
Patience; accomplish thy labor; accomplish thy work of affection!
Sorrow and silence are strongand patient endurance is godlike
Therefore accomplish thy labor of lovetill the heart is made godlike
Purifiedstrengthenedperfectedand rendered more worthy of heaven!"
Cheered by the good man's wordsEvangeline labored and waited.
Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the ocean
But with its sound there was mingled a voice that whispered"Despair not!"
Thus did that poor soul wander in want and cheerless discomfort
Bleedingbarefootedover the shards and thorns of existence.
Let me essayO Muse! to follow the wanderer's footsteps;



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II


It was the month of May. Far down the Beautiful River
Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth of the Wabash
Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi
Floated a cumbrous boatthat was rowed by Acadian boatmen.
It was a band of exiles; a raftas it werefrom the shipwrecked
Nationscattered along the coastnow floating together
Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a common misfortune;



-69-



Men and women and childrenwhoguided by hope or by hearsay
Sought for their kith and their kin among the few-acred farmers
On the Acadian coastand the prairies of fair Opelousas.
With them Evangeline wentand her guidethe Father Felician.
Onwardo'er sunken sandsthrough a wilderness somber with forests
Day after day they glided adown the turbulent river;
Night after nightby their blazing firesencamped on its borders
Now through rushing chutesamong green islandswhere plumelike
Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy creststhey swept with the current

 



Then emerged into broad lagoonswhere silvery sandbars
Lay in the streamand along the wimpling waves of their margin
Shining with snow-white plumeslarge flocks of pelicans waded.
Level the landscape grewand along the shores of the river
Shaded by china-treesin the midst of luxuriant gardens



-70-



Stood the houses of planterswith negro-cabins and dove-cotes.
They were approaching the region where reigns perpetual summer
Where through the Golden Coastand groves of orange and citron
Sweeps with majestic curve the river away to the eastward.
Theytooswerved from their course; andentering the Bayou of Plaquemine
Soon were lost in a maze of sluggish and devious waters
Whichlike a network of steelextended in every direction.
Over their heads the towering and tenebrous boughs of the cypress
Met in a dusky archand trailing mosses in mid-air
Waved like banners that hang on the walls of ancient cathedrals.
Deathlike the silence seemedand unbrokensave by the herons
Home to their roosts in the cedar-trees returning at sunset
Or by the owlas he greeted the moon with demoniac laughter.
Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced and gleamed on the water



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Gleamed on the columns of cypress and cedar sustaining the arches
Down through whose broken vaults it fell as through chinks in a ruin.
Dreamlikeand indistinctand strange were all things around them;
And o'er their spirits there came a feeling of wonder and sadness --
Strange forebodings of illunseen and that cannot be compassed.
Asat the tramp of a horse's hoof on the turf of the prairies
Far in advance are closed the leaves of the shrinking mimosa
Soat the hoof-beats of fatewith sad forebodings of evil
Shrinks and closes the heartere the stroke of doom has attained it.
But Evangeline's heart was sustained by a visionthat faintly
Floated before her eyesand beckoned her on through the moonlight.
It was the thought of her brain that assumed the shape of a phantom.
Through those shadowy aisles had Gabriel wandered before her
And every stroke of the oar now brought him nearer and nearer.



-72-



Then in his placeat the prow of the boatrose one of the oarsmen
Andas a signal soundif others like them peradventure
Sailed on those gloomy and midnight streamsblew a blast on his bugle.
Wild through the dark colonnades and corridors leafy the blast rang
Breaking the seal of silenceand giving tongues to the forest.
Soundless above them the banners of moss just stirred to the music.
Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in the distance
Over the watery floorand beneath the reverberant branches;
But not a voice replied; no answer came from the darkness;
And when the echoes had ceasedlike a sense of pain was the silence.
Then Evangeline slept; but the boatmen rowed through the midnight
Silent at timesthen singing familiar Canadian boat-songs
Such as they sang of old on their own Acadian rivers
And through the night were heard the mysterious sounds of the desert
Far offindistinctas of wave or wind in the forest
Mixed with the whoop of the crane and the roar of the grim alligator.
Thus ere another noon they emerged from those shades; and before them
Layin the golden sunthe lakes of the Atchafalaya.



-73-



Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight undulations
Made by the passing oarsandresplendent in beautythe lotus
Lifted her golden crown above the heads of the boatmen.
Faint was the air with the odorous breath of magnolia blossoms
And with the heat of noon; and numberless sylvan islands
Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming hedges of roses
Near to whose shores they glided alonginvited to slumber.
Soon by the fairest of these their weary oars were suspended.
Under the boughs of Wachita willowsthat grew by the margin
Safely their boat was moored; and scattered about on the greensward
Tired with their midnight toilthe weary travelers slumbered.
Over them vast and high extended the cope of a cedar.
Swinging from its great armsthe trumpet-flower and the grape-vine



-74-



Hung their ladder of ropes aloft like the ladder of Jacob
On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascendingdescending
Were the swift humming-birdsthat flitted from blossom to blossom.
Such was the vision Evangeline saw as she slumbered beneath it.
Filled was her heart with loveand the dawn of an opening heaven
Lighted her soul in sleep with the glory of regions celestial.
Nearer and ever neareramong the numberless islands
Darted a lightswift boatthat sped away o'er the water
Urged on its course by the sinewy arms of hunters and trappers.
Northward its prow was turnedto the land of the bison and beaver.
At the helm sat a youthwith countenance thoughtful and careworn.
Dark and neglected locks overshadowed his browand a sadness
Somewhat beyond his years on his face was legibly written.
Gabriel was itwhoweary with waitingunhappy and restless
Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow.
Swiftly they glided alongclose under the lee of the island
But by the opposite bankand behind a screen of palmettos



-75-



So that they saw not the boatwhere it lay concealed in the willows
And undisturbed by the dash of their oarsand unseenwere the sleepers;
Angel of God was there none to awaken the slumbering maiden.
Swiftly they glided awaylike the shade of a cloud on the prairie.
After the sound of their oars on the tholes had died in the distance
As from a magic trance the sleepers awokeand the maiden
Said with a sigh to the friendly priest -- "O Father Felician!
Something says in my heart that near me Gabriel wanders.
Is it a foolish dreaman idle vague superstition?
Or has an angel passedand revealed the truth to my spirit?"
Thenwith a blushshe added -- "Alas for my credulous fancy!
Unto ears like thine such words as these have no meaning."
But made answer the reverend manand he smiled as he answered --
"Daughterthy words are not idle; nor are they to me without meaning.
Feeling is deep and still; and the word that floats on the surface
Is as the tossing buoythat betrays where the anchor is hidden.
Therefore trust to thy heartand to what the world calls illusions.
Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far away to the southward



-76-



On the banks of the Teche are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom
There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheepfold.

 



Beautiful is the landwith its prairies and forests of fruit-trees;
Under the feet a garden of flowersand the bluest of heavens
Bending aboveand resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana."
And with these words of cheer they arose and continued their journey.
Softly the evening came. The sun from the western horizon
Like a magician extended his golden wand o'er the landscape;
Twinkling vapors arose; and sky and water and forest
Seemed all on fire at the touchand melted and mingled together.
Ranging between two skiesa cloud with edges of silver
Floated the boatwith its dripping oarson the motionless water.
Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible sweetness.
Touched by the magic spellthe sacred fountains of feeling
Glowing with the light of loveas the skies and waters around her.



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III


NEAR to the bank of the rivero'ershadowed by oaksfrom whose branches
Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe flaunted
Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide
Stoodsecluded and stillthe house of the herdsman. A garden
Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant blossoms
Filling the air with fragrance. The house itself was of timbers
Hewn from the cypress-treeand carefully fitted together.
Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported
Rose-wreathedvine-encircleda broad and spacious veranda
Haunt of the humming-bird and the beeextended around it.
At each end of the houseamid the flowers of the garden
Stationed the dove-cotes wereas love's perpetual symbol



-79-



Scenes of endless wooingand endless contentions of rivals.
Silence reigned o'er the place. The line of shadow and sunshine
Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow
And from its chimney-topascending and slowly expanding
Into the evening aira thin blue column of smoke rose.
In the rear of the housefrom the garden gateran a pathway
Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie
Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending.
Full in his track of lightlike ships with shadowy canvas
Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics
Stood a cluster of treeswith tangled cordage of grape-vines.
Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie
Mounted upon his horsewith Spanish saddle and stirrups
Sat a herdsmanarrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin.
Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero
Gazed on the peaceful scenewith the lordly look of its master.
Round about him were numberless herds of kinethat were grazing



-80-



Quietly in the meadowsand breathing the vapory freshness
That uprose from the riverand spread itself over the landscape.
Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his sideand expanding
Fully his broaddeep chesthe blew a blastthat resounded
Wildly and sweet and farthrough the still damp air of the evening.
Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle
Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean.
Silent a moment they gazedthen bellowing rushed o'er the prairie
And the whole mass became a clouda shade in the distance.
Thenas the herdsman turned to the housethrough the gate of the garden
Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him.
Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazementand forward
Rushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder;
When they beheld his facethey recognized Basil the Blacksmith.
Hearty his welcome wasas he led his guests to the garden.
There in an arbor of roses with endless question and answer
Gave they vent to their heartsand renewed their friendly embraces



-81-



Laughing and weeping by turnsor sitting silent and thoughtful.
Thoughtfulfor Gabriel came not; and now dark doubts and misgivings
Stole o'er the maiden's heart; and Basilsomewhat embarrassed
Broke the silence and said -- "If you come by the Atchafalaya
How have you nowhere encountered my Gabriel's boat on the bayous?"
Over Evangeline's face at the words of Basil a shade passed.
Tears came into her eyesand she saidwith a tremulous accent --
"Gone? is Gabriel gone?" andconcealing her face on his shoulder
All her o'erburdened heart gave wayand she wept and lamented.
Then the good Basil said -- and his voice grew blithe as he said it --
"Be of good cheermy child; it is only to-day he departed.
Foolish boy! he has left me alone with my herds and my horses.
Moody and restless grownand tried and troubledhis spirit
Could no longer endure the calm of this quiet existence.
Thinking ever of theeuncertain and sorrowful ever
Ever silentor speaking only of thee and his troubles
He at length had become so tedious to men and to maidens
Tedious even to methat at length I bethought me and sent him



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Unto the town of Adayes to trade for mules with the Spaniards.
Thence he will follow the Indian trails to the Ozark Mountains
Hunting for furs in the forestson rivers trapping the beaver.
Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow the fugitive lover;
He is not far on his wayand the Fates and the streams are against him.

"Gone? is Gabriel gone?" andconcealing her face on his shoulder... she wept.



Up and away to-morrowand through the red dew of the morning
We will follow him fast and bring him back to his prison."
Then glad voices were heardand up from the banks of the river
Borne aloft on his comrades' armscame Michael the fiddler.
Long under Basil's roof had he lived like a god on Olympus
Having no other care than dispensing music to mortals
Far renowned was he for his silver locks and his fiddle.
"Long live Michael" they cried"our brave Acadian minstrel!"
As they bore him aloft in triumphal procession; and straightway
Father Felician advanced with Evangelinegreeting the old man



-83-



Kindly and oftand recalling the pastwhile Basilenraptured
Hailed with hilarious joy his old companions and gossips
Laughing loud and longand embracing mothers and daughters.
Much they marvelled to see the wealth of the ci-devant blacksmith
All his domains and his herdsand his patriarchal demeanor;
Much they marveled to hear his tales of the soil and the climate
And of the prairieswhose numberless herds were his who would take them;
Each one thought in his heart that hetoowould go and do likewise.
Thus they ascended the stepsandcrossing the airy veranda
Entered the hall of the housewhere already the supper of Basil
Waited his late return; and they rested and feasted together.
Over the joyous feast the sudden darkness descended.
All was silent withoutand illuming the landscape with silver
Fair rose the dewy moon and the myriad stars; but within doors
Brighter than theseshone the faces of friends in the glimmering lamplight.
Then from his station aloftat the head of the tablethe herdsman
Poured forth his heart and his wine together in endless profusion.



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Lighting his pipethat was filled with sweet Natchitoches tobacco
Thus he spake to his guestswho listenedand smiled as they listened:
"Welcome once moremy friendswho so long have been friendless andhomeless
Welcome once more to a homethat is better perchance than the old one!
Here no hungry winter congeals our blood like the rivers;
Here no stony ground provokes the wrath of the farmer.
Smoothly the plowshare runs through the soil as a keel through the water.
All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows
More in a single night than a whole Canadian summer.
Heretoonumberless herds run wild and unclaimed in the prairies;
Heretoolands may be had for the askingand forests of timber
With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses.
After your houses are builtand your fields are yellow with harvests
No King George of England shall drive you away from your homesteads
Burning your dwellings and barnsand stealing your farms and your cattle."
Speaking these wordshe blew a wrathful cloud from his nostrils
And his hugebrawny hand came thundering down on the table



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So that the guests all started; and Father Felicianastounded
Suddenly pausedwith a pinch of snuff half-way to his nostrils.
But the brave Basil resumedand his words were milder and gayer --
"Only beware of the fevermy friendsbeware of the fever!
For it is not like that of our cold Acadian climate
Cured by wearing a spider hung round one's neck in a nutshell!"
Then there were voices heard at the doorand footsteps approaching
Sounded upon the stairs and the floor of the breezy veranda.
It was the neighboring Creoles and small Acadian planters
Who had been summoned all to the house of Basil the Herdsman.
Merry the meeting was of ancient comrades and neighbors;
Friend clasped friend in his arms; and they who before were as strangers
Meeting in exilebecame straightway as friends to each other
Drawn by the gentle bond of a common country together.
But in the neighboring hall a strain of musicproceeding
From the accordant strings of Michael's melodious fiddle
Broke up all further speech. Awaylike children delighted



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All things forgotten besidethey gave themselves to the maddening
Whirl of the dizzy danceas it swept and swayed to the music
Dreamlikewith beaming eyes and the rush of fluttering garments.
Meanwhileapartat the head of the hallthe priest and the herdsman
Satconversing together of past and present and future;
While Evangeline stood like one entrancedfor within her
Olden memories roseand loud in the midst of the music
Heard she the sound of the seaand an irrepressible sadness
Came o'er her heartand unseen she stole forth into the garden.
Beautiful was the night. Behind the black wall of the forest
Tipping its summit with silverarose the moon. On the river
Fell here and there through the branches a tremulous gleam of the moonlight
Like the sweet thoughts of love on a darkened and devious spirit.
Nearer and round about herthe manifold flowers of the garden
Poured out their souls in odorsthat were their prayers and confessions
Unto the nightas it went its waylike a silent Carthusian.



-87-



Fuller of fragrance then theyand as heavy with shadows and night-dews
Hung the heart of the maiden. The calm and the magical moonlight
Seemed to inundate her soul with indefinable longings
Asthrough the garden gatebeneath the brown shade of the oak-trees
Passed she along the path to the edge of the measureless prairie.
Silent it laywith a silvery haze upon itand the fire-flies
Gleaming and floating away in mingled and infinite numbers.
Over her head the starsthe thoughts of God in the heavens
Shone on the eyes of manwho had ceased to marvel and worship
Save when a blazing comet was seen on the walls of that temple
As if a hand had appeared and written upon them"Upharsin."
And the soul of the maidenbetween the stars and the fire-flies
Wandered aloneand she cried -- "O Gabriel! O my beloved!
Art thou so near unto meand yet I cannot behold thee?
Art thou so near unto meand yet thy voice does not reach me?



-88-



Ah! how often thy feet have trod this path to the prairie!
Ah! how often thine eyes have looked on the woodlands around me!
Ah! how often beneath this oakreturning from labor
Thou hast lain down to restand to dream of me in thy slumbers.
When shall these eyes beholdthese arms be folded about thee?"
Loud and sudden and near the note of a whippoorwill sounded
Like a flute in the woods; and anonthrough the neighboring thickets
Farther and farther away it floated and dropped into silence.
"Patience!" whispered the oaks from oracular caverns of darkness;
Andfrom the moonlit meadowa sigh responded"To-morrow!"
Bright rose the sun next day; and all the flowers of the garden
Bathed his shining feet with their tearsand anointed his tresses
With the delicious balm that they bore in their vases of crystal.
"Farewell!" said the priestas he stood at the shadowy threshold;
"See that you bring us the Prodigal Son from his fasting and famine

"Art thou so near unto meand yet I cannot behold thee?"



Andtoothe Foolish Virginwho slept when the bridegroom was coming."
"Farewell!" answered the maidenandsmilingwith Basil descended



-89-



Down to the river's brinkwhere the boatmen already were waiting.
Thus beginning their journey with morningand sunshine and gladness
Swiftly they followed the flight of him who was speeding before them
Blown by the blast of fate like a dead leaf over the desert.
Not that daynor the nextnor yet the day that succeeded
Found they trace of his coursein lake or forest or river
Norafter many dayshad they found him; but vague and uncertain
Rumors alone were their guides through a wild and desolate country
Tillat the little inn of the Spanish town of Adayes
Weary and wornthey alightedand learned from the garrulous landlord
That on the day beforewith horses and guides and companions
Gabriel left the villageand took the road of the prairies.




Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-birdwildest of singers
Swinging aloft on a willow spray that hung o'er the water
Shook from his little throat such floods of delirious music
That the whole air and the woods and the waves seemed silent to listen.
Plaintive at first were the tones and sad; then soaring to madness
Seemed they to follow or guide the revel of frenzied Bacchantes.
Single notes were then heardin sorrowfullow lamentation;
Tillhaving gathered them allhe flung them abroad in derision
As whenafter a storma gust of wind through the tree-tops
Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal shower on the branches.
With such a prelude as thisand hearts that throbbed with emotion
Slowly they entered the Techewhere it flows through the green Opelousas
And through the amber airabove the crest of the woodland
Saw the column of smoke that arose from a neighboring dwelling;
Sounds of a horn they heardand the distant lowing of cattle.



Not through each devious patheach changeful year of existence;
But as a traveler follows a streamlet's course through the valley;
Far from its margin at timesand seeing the gleam of its water
Here and therein some open spaceand at intervals only:
Then drawing nearer its banksthrough sylvan glooms that conceal it
Though he behold it nothe can hear its continuous murmur;
Happyat lengthif he find the spot where it reaches an outlet.

IV


FAR in the West there lies a desert landwhere the mountains
Liftthrough perpetual snowstheir lofty and luminous summits.
Down from their jaggeddeep ravineswhere the gorgelike a gateway
Opens a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrant's wagon



-90-



Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway and Owyhee.
Eastwardwith devious courseamong the Windriver Mountains
Through the Sweetwater Valley precipitate leaps the Nebraska;
And to the southfrom Fontaine-qui-bout and the Spanish sierras
Fretted with sands and rocksand swept by the wind of the desert
Numberless torrentswith ceaseless sounddescend to the ocean
Like the great chords of a harpin loud and solemn vibrations.
Spreading between these streams are the wondrousbeautiful prairies
Billowy bays of grass ever rolling in shadow and sunshine
Bright with luxuriant clusters of roses and purple amorphas.
Over them wander the buffalo herdsand the elk and the roebuck;
Over them wander the wolvesand herds of riderless horses;
Fires that blast and blightand winds that are weary with travel;



-91-



Over them wander the scattered tribes of Ishmael's children
Staining the desert with blood; and above their terrible war-trails
Circles and sails alofton pinions majesticthe vulture
Like the implacable soul of a chieftain slaughtered in battle
By invisible stairs ascending and scaling the heavens.
Here and there rise smokes from the camps of these savage marauders;
Here and there rise groves from the margins of swift-running rivers;
And the grimtaciturn bearthe anchorite monk of the desert
Climbs down their dark ravines to dig for roots by the brookside
And over all is the skythe clear and crystalline heaven
Like the protecting hand of God inverted above them.
Into this wonderful landat the base of the Ozark Mountains
Gabriel far had enteredwith hunters and trappers behind him.
Day after daywith their Indian guidesthe maiden and Basil
followed his flying stepsand thought each day to o'ertake him.
Sometimes they sawor thought they sawthe smoke of his camp-fire



-92-



Rise in the morning air from the distant plain; but at nightfall
When they had reached the placethey found only embers and ashes.
Andthough their hearts were sad at times and their bodies were weary
Hope still guided them onas the magic Fata Morgana
Showed them her lakes of lightthat retreated and vanished before them.
Onceas they sat by their evening firethere silently entered
Into the little camp an Indian womanwhose features
Wore deep traces of sorrowand patience as great as her sorrow.
She was a Shawnee woman returning home to her people
From the far-off hunting-grounds of the cruel Camanches
Where her Canadian husbanda Coureur-des-Boishad been murdered.
Touched were their hearts at her storyand warmest and friendliest welcome
Gave theywith words of cheerand she sat and feasted among them
On the buffalo meat and the venison cooked on the embers.
But when their meal was doneand Basil and all his companions
Worn with the long day's march and the chase of the deer and the bison
Stretched themselves on the groundand slept where the quivering firelight



-93-



Flashed on their swarthy cheeksand their forms wrapped up in their blankets
Then at the door of Evangeline's tent she sat and repeated

 



Slowlywith softlow voiceand the charm of her Indian accent
All the tale of her lovewith its pleasuresand painsand reverses.
Much Evangeline wept at the taleand to know that another
Hapless heart like her own had loved and had been disappointed.
Moved to the depths of her soul by pity and woman's compassion
Yet in her sorrow pleased that one who had suffered was near her
She in turn related her love and all its disasters.
Mute with wonder the Shawnee satand when she had ended
Still was mute; but at lengthas if a mysterious horror
Passed through her brainshe spakeand repeated the tale of the Mowis;



-94-



Mowisthe bridegroom of snowwho won and wedded a maiden
Butwhen the morning camearose and passed from the wigwam
Fading and melting away and dissolving into the sunshine
Till she beheld him no morethough she followed far into the forest.
Thenin those sweetlow tonesthat seem like a weird incantation
Told she the tale of the fair Lilinauwho was wooed by a phantom
Thatthrough the pines o'er her father's lodgein the hush of the twilight
Breathed like the evening windand whispered love to the maiden
Till she followed his green and waving plume through the forest
And never more returnednor was seen again by her people.
Silent with wonder and strange surprise Evangeline listened
To the soft flow of her magical wordstill the region around her
Seemed like enchanted groundand her swarthy guest the enchantress.
Slowly over the tops of the Ozark Mountains the moon rose
Lighting the little tentand with a mysterious splendor
Touching the somber leavesand embracing and filling the woodland.



-95-



With a delicious sound the brook rushed byand the branches
Swayed and sighed overhead in scarcely audible whispers.
Filled with the thoughts of love was Evangeline's heartbut a secret
Subtile sense crept in of pain and indefinite terror
As the coldpoisonous snake creeps into the nest of the swallow.
It was no earthly fear. A breath from the region of spirits
Seemed to float in the air of night; and she felt for a moment
Thatlike the Indian maidshetoowas pursuing a phantom.
And with this thought she sleptand the fear and the phantom had vanished.
Early upon the morrow the march was resumed; and the Shawnee
Saidas they journeyed along -- "On the western slope of these mountains
Dwells in his little village the Black Robe chief of the Mission.
Much he teaches the peopleand tells them of Mary and Jesus;
Loud laugh their hearts with joyand weep with painas they hear him."
Thenwith a sudden and secret emotionEvangeline answered --
"Let us go to the Missionfor there good tidings await us!"



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Thither they turned their steeds; and behind a spur of the mountains
Just as the sun went downthey heard a murmur of voices
And in a meadow green and broadby the bank of a river
Saw the tents of the Christiansthe tents of the Jesuit Mission.
Under a towering oakthat stood in the midst of the village
Knelt the Black Robe chief with his children. A crucifix fastened
High on the trunk of the treeand overshadowed by grape-vines
Looked with its agonized face on the multitude kneeling beneath it.
This was their rural chapel. Aloftthrough the intricate arches
Of its aerial roofarose the chant of their vespers
Mingling its notes with the soft susurrus and sighs of the branches.
Silentwith heads uncoveredthe travelersnearer approaching
Knelt on the swarded floorand joined in the evening devotions.



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But when the service was doneand the benediction had fallen
Forth from the hands of the priestlike seed from the hands of the sower

Under a towering oak ... knelt the Black Robe chief with his children



Slowly the reverend man advanced to the strangersand bade them
Welcome; and when they repliedhe smiled with benignant expression
Hearing the homelike sounds of his mother tongue in the forest
And with words of kindness conducted them into his wigwam.
There upon mats and skins they reposedand on cakes of the maize-ear
Feastedand slaked their thirst from the water-gourd of the teacher.
Soon was their story told; and the priest with solemnity answered:
"Not six suns have risen and set since Gabrielseated
On this mat by my sidewhere now the maiden reposes
Told me this same sad tale; then arose and continued his journey!"
Soft was the voice of the priestand he spake with an accent of kindness;
But on Evangeline's heart fell his words as in winter the snowflakes
Fall into some lone nest from which the birds have departed.
"Far to the north he has gone" continued the priest; "but inautumn
When the chase is donewill return again to the Mission."
Then Evangeline saidand her voice was meek and submissive --



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"Let me remain with theefor my soul is sad and afflicted."
So seemed it wise and well unto all; and betimes on the morrow
Mounting his Mexican steedwith his Indian guides and companions
Homeward Basil returnedand Evangeline stayed at the Mission.
Slowlyslowlyslowly the days succeeded each other --
Days and weeks and months; and the fields of maize that were springing
Green from the ground when a stranger she camenow waving above her
Lifted their slender shaftswith leaves interlacingand forming
Cloisters for mendicant crows and granaries pillaged by squirrels.
Then in the golden weather the maize was buskedand the maidens
Blushed at each blood-red earfor that betokened a lover
But at the crooked laughedand called it a thief in the corn-field.
Even the blood-red ear to Evangeline brought not her lover.
"Patience!" the priest would say; "have faithand thy prayerwill be answered!
Look at this delicate plant that lifts its head from the meadow
See how its leaves all point to the northas true as the magnet;
It is the compass-flowerthat the finger of God has suspended



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Here on its fragile stalkto direct the traveler's journey
Over the sea-likepathlesslimitless waste of the desert.
Such in the soul of man is faith. The blossoms of passion
Gay and luxuriant flowersare brighter and fuller of fragrance
But they beguile usand lead us astrayand their odor is deadly.
Only this humble plant can guide us hereand hereafter
Crown us with asphodel flowersthat are wet with the dews of nepenthe."
So came the autumnand passedand the winter -- yet Gabriel came not;
Blossomed the opening springand the notes of the robin and bluebird
Sounded sweet upon wold and in woodyet Gabriel came not.
But on the breath of the summer winds a rumor was wafted
Sweeter than song of birdor hue or odor of blossom.
Far to the north and eastit saidin the Michigan forests
Gabriel had his lodge by the banks of the Saginaw river.



-100-



Andwith returning guidesthat sought the lakes of St. Lawrence
Saying a sad farewellEvangeline went from the Mission.
When over weary waysby long and perilous marches
She had attained at length the depths of the Michigan forests
Found she the hunter's lodge deserted and fallen to ruin!
Thus did the long sad years glide onand in seasons and places
Divers and distant far was seen the wandering maiden;
Now in the tents of grace of the meek Moravian Missions
Now in the noisy camps and the battle-fields of the army
Now in secluded hamletsin towns and populous cities
Like a phantom she cameand passed away unremembered.
Fair was she and youngwhen in hope began the long journey;
Faded was she and oldwhen in disappointment it ended.
Each succeeding year stole something away from her beauty



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Leaving behind itbroader and deeperthe gloom and the shadow.
Then there appeared and spread faint streaks of gray o'er her forehead
Dawn of another lifethat broke o'er her earthly horizon
As in the eastern sky the first faint streaks of the morning.

 

 

V


IN that delightful land which is washed by the Delaware's waters
Guarding in sylvan shades the name of Penn the apostle
Stands on the banks of its beautiful stream the city he founded.
There all the air is balmand the peach is the emblem of beauty
And the streets still re-echo the names of the trees of the forest
As if they fain would appease the Dryads whose haunts they molested.
There from the troubled sea had Evangeline landedan exile
Finding among the children of Penn a home and a country.
There old Rene Leblanc had died; and when he departed



-102-



Saw at his side only one of all his hundred descendants.
Something at least there was in the friendly streets of the city
Something that spake to her heartand made her no longer a stranger:
And her ear was pleased with the Thee and Thou of the Quakers
For it recalled the pastthe old Acadian country
Where all men were equaland all were brothers and sisters.
Sowhen the fruitless searchthe disappointed endeavor
Endedto recommence no more upon earthuncomplaining
Thitheras leaves to the lightwere turned her thoughts and her footsteps.
As from a mountain's top the rainy mists of the morning
Roll awayand afar we behold the landscape below us
Sun-illuminedwith shining rivers and cities and hamlets
So fell the mists from her mindand she saw the world far below her
Dark no longerbut all illumined with love; and the pathway
Which she had climbed so farlying smooth and fair in the distance.
Gabriel was not forgotten. Within her heart was his image
Clothed in the beauty of love and youthas last she beheld him
Only more beautiful made by his deathlike silence and absence.



-103-



Into her thoughts of him time entered notfor it was not.
Over him years had no power; he was not changedbut transfigured;
He had become to her heart as one who is deadand not absent;
Patience and abnegation of selfand devotion to others
This was the lesson a life of trial and sorrow had taught her.
So was her love diffusedbutlike to some odorous spices
Suffered no waste nor lossthough filling the air with aroma.
Other hope had she nonenor wish in lifebut to follow
Meeklywith reverent stepsthe sacred feet of her Saviour.
Thus many years she lived as a Sister of Mercy; frequenting
Lonely and wretched roofs in the crowded lanes of the city
Where distress and want concealed themselves from the sunlight
Where disease and sorrow in garrets languished neglected.
Night after nightwhen the world was asleepas the watchman repeated
Loudthrough the gusty streetsthat all was well in the city
High at some lonely window he saw the light of her taper.

 






-104-



Day after dayin the gray of the dawnas slow through the suburbs
Plodded the German farmerwith flowers and fruits for the market
Met he that meekpale facereturning home from its watchings.
Then it came to pass that a pestilence fell on the city
Presaged by wondrous signsand mostly by flocks of wild pigeons
Darkening the sun in their flightwith naught in their craws but an acorn.
Andas the tides of the sea arise in the month of September
Flooding some silver streamtill it spreads to a lake in a meadow
So death flooded lifeand o'erflowing its natural margin
Spread to a brackish lakethe silver stream of existence.
Wealth had no power to bribenor beauty to charmthe oppressor;
But all perished alike beneath the scourge of his anger --
Onlyalas! the poorwho had neither friends nor attendants
Crept away to die in the almshousehome of the homeless;
Then in the suburbs it stoodin the midst of meadows and woodlands --



-105-



Now the city surrounds it; but still with its gateway and wicket
Meekin the midst of splendorits humble walls seem to echo
Softly the words of the Lord -- "The poor ye always have with you."
Thitherby night and by daycame the Sister of Mercy. The dying
Looked up into her faceand thoughtindeedto behold there
Gleams of celestial light encircle her forehead with splendor
Such as the artist paints o'er the brows of saints and apostles
Or such as hangs by night o'er a city seen at a distance.
Unto their eyes it seemed the lamps of the city celestial
Into whose shining gates ere long their spirits would enter.
Thuson a Sabbath mornthrough the streetsdeserted and silent
Wending her quiet wayshe entered the door of the almshouse.
Sweet on the summer air was the odor of flowers in the garden;
And she paused on her way to gather the fairest among them
That the dying once more might rejoice in their fragrance and beauty.
Thenas she mounted the stairs to the corridorscooled by the east wind



-106-



Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes from the belfry of Christ Church
Whileintermingled with theseacross the meadows were wafted
Sounds of psalmsthat were sung by the Swedes in their church at Wicaco.
Soft as descending wings fell the calm of the hour on her spirit;
Something within her said -- "At length thy trials are ended;"

 



Andwith a light in her looksshe entered the chambers of sickness.
Noiselessly moved about the assiduouscareful attendants
Moistening the feverish lipand the aching browand in silence
Closing the sightless eyes of the deadand concealing their faces
Where on their pallets they laylike drifts of snow by the roadside.
Many a languid headupraised as Evangeline entered
Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while she passedfor her presence
Fell on their hearts like a ray of the sun on the walls of a prison.
Andas she looked aroundshe saw how Deaththe consoler
Laying his hand upon many a hearthad healed it forever.
Many familiar forms had disappeared in the night-time;



-107-



Vacant their places wereor filled already by strangers.
Suddenlyas if arrested by fear or a feeling of wonder
Still she stood with her colorless lips apartwhile a shudder
Ran through her frameandforgottenthe flowerets dropped from her fingers
And from her eyes and cheeks the light and bloom of the morning.
Then there escaped from her lips a cry of such terrible anguish
That the dying heard itand started up from their pillows.
On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an old man.
Longand thinand gray were the locks that shaded his temples;
Butas he lay in the morning lighthis face for a moment
Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier manhood;
So are wont to be changed the faces of those who are dying.
Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever
As if lifelike the Hebrewwith blood had besprinkled its portals
That the Angel of Death might see the signand pass over
Motionlesssenselessdyinghe layand his spirit exhausted



-108-



Seemed to be sinking down to infinite depths in the darkness
Darkness of slumber and deathforever sinking and sinking.
Then through those realms of shadein multiplied reverberations
Heard he that cry of painand through the hush that succeeded
Whispered a gentle voicein accents tender and saint-like
"Gabriel! O my beloved!" and died away into silence.
Then he beheldin a dreamonce more the home of his childhood;
Green Acadian meadowswith sylvan rivers among them
Villageand mountainand woodlands; andwalking under their shadow
As in the days of her youthEvangeline rose in his vision.
Tears came into his eyes; and as slowly he lifted his eyelids
Vanished the vision awaybut Evangeline knelt by his bedside.
Vainly he strove to whisper her namefor the accents unuttered
Died on his lipsand their motion revealed what his tongue would have spoken.
Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangelinekneeling beside him
Kissed his dying lipsand laid his head on her bosom
Sweet was the light of his eyes; but it suddenly sank into darkness
As when a lamp is blown out by a gust of wind at a casement.



-109-



All was ended nowthe hopeand the fearand the sorrow
All the aching of heartthe restlessunsatisfied longing
All the dulldeep painand constant anguish of patience!
Andas she pressed once more the lifeless head to her bosom
Meekly she bowed her ownand murmured"FatherI thank thee!"
Still stands the forest primeval; but far away from its shadow
Side by sidein their nameless gravesthe lovers are sleeping.
Under the humble walls of the little Catholic churchyard
In the heart of the citythey lieunknown and unnoticed;
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside them
Thousands of throbbing heartswhere theirs are at rest and forever
Thousands of aching brainswhere theirs no longer are busy
Thousands of toiling handswhere theirs have ceased from their labors
Thousands of weary feetwhere theirs have completed their journey!
Still stands the forest primeval; but under the shade of its branches



-110-



Dwells another racewith other customs and language.
Only along the shore of the mournful and misty Atlantic
Linger a few Acadian peasantswhose fathers from exile
Wandered back to their native land to die in its bosom;
In the fisherman's cot the wheel and the loom are still busy;
Maidens still wear their Norman caps and their kirtles of homespun
And by the evening fire repeat Evangeline's story
While from its rocky caverns the deep-voicedneighboring ocean
Speaksand in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

   




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