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“Is St. John an old city, Uncle Jack?” asked Belle the next morning as they were getting ready to go on their way to Halifax.
“No,” replied Uncle Jack. “It was settled by some of the people who left New York in 1783; I mean those who had been loyal to the crown during the Revolution.”
“Were there many of them, Uncle Jack?” asked Ben.
“Over thirty thousand left New York alone in 1783. Some settled here, some in Nova Scotia, and others in Ontario. Each and every one of their descendants is now entitled to affix to his name the letters U. E. L.,” said Uncle Jack.
“What do they mean?” asked May.
Here the conversation was interrupted by
“And now where are we going, Uncle Jack?” asked May, after the boat started on its way.
“We are crossing the Bay of Fundy to Digby.”
“Is this the Bay of Fundy which is noted for its very high tides?” inquired Ben, looking over the rail. “Our geography teacher told us that the difference between high and low tide here is seventy feet, — and that is the height of a seven-story house,” he added.
“Yes, Ben,” answered Uncle Jack, “and there are few spots in the world — if any — where the tides are as high as here, in the Bay of Fundy. Then, the A shape of the Bay itself causes the tide to rise very swiftly. It comes rushing up so fast that there is no time for anything in its path to escape. Cattle, boats, and even people are all overtaken and swept away. The tide has actually been known to overtake a swiftly galloping horse.”
“How terrible it would be to be caught in that cruel tide!” cried Belle, with a shiver.
“Can't you tell us a story about the high tide?” said May, slipping her hand into that of Uncle Jack.
“I don't seem to remember one about the Bay of Fundy, child,” said Uncle Jack, after searching his memory in vain. “But,” he added after a INUNDATED VILLAGES moment or two, “Jean Ingelow wrote a most interesting poem about a famous high tide on the coast of England, which was more destructive than any in the Bay of Fundy, — one which washed away several villages. There won't be time for me to repeat it before the boat reaches Digby, but I will do so as soon as we are settled in the train for Halifax.”
In about an hour after this, and while their train was speeding through the “Evangeline Country," Uncle Jack repeated the following poem:
The old mayor climbed the belfry tower,
The ringers ran by two, by three; “Pull, if ye never pulled before;
Good ringers, pull your best,” quoth he, “Play up, play up, O Boston bells! Ply all your changes, all your swells,
Play up ‘The Brides of Enderby'.”
Men say it was a stolen tide —
The Lord that sent it, He knows all; But in mine ears doth still abide
The message that the bells let fall: And there was nought of strange, beside The flights of mews and peewits pied
By millions crouched on the old sea wall.
I sat and spun within the door,
My thread brake off, I raised mine eyes; The level sun, like ruddy ore,
Lay sinking in the barren skies, And dark against day's golden death She moved where Lindis wandereth, My son's fair wife, Elizabeth.
“Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!” calling,
“Cusha! Cusha! Cusha!” calling, “For the dews will soon be falling; Leave your meadow grasses mellow,
Mellow, mellow; Quit your cowslips, cowslips yellow; Come up, Whitefoot, come up, Lightfoot,
Quit the stalks of parsley hollow,
Hollow, hollow; Come up, Jetty, rise and follow, From the clovers lift your head; Come up, Whitefoot, come up, Lightfoot, Come up, Jetty, rise and follow, Jetty, to the milking shed.”
All fresh the level pasture lay,
And not a shadow might be seen, Save where full five good miles away
The steeple towered from out the green; And lo! the great bell far and wide Was heard in all the country side That Saturday at eventide.
The swanherds where their sedges are
Moved on in sunset's golden breath,