Page images

Voice that in ages of old had startled the penitent Peter. Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves a village. In each


Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase,

Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous cornloft. 5 There too the dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates

Murmuring ever of love, while above in the variant breezes Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.

Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand

Pré Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his house

hold. 10 Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal,

Fixed his eyes upon her as 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 door, by the darkness befriended, And, as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her foot

steps, 15 Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of

iron; Or, at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village, Bolder grew, and pressed her hand in the dance as he whispered Hurried words of love, that seemed a part of the music.

But among all who came young Gabriel only was welcome; 20 Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the blacksmith,

Who was a mighty man in the village, and honored of all men; For since the birth of time, throughout 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 child

hood 25 Grew up together as brother and sister; and Father Felician, Priest and pedagogue both in the village, had taught them their

letters Out of the selfsame book, with the hymns of the church and the

plain-song. But when the hymn was sung, and the daily lesson completed,

Swiftly they hurried away to the forge of Basil the blacksmith. There at the door they stood, with 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 5 Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders.

Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gathering darkness Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through every cranny and

crevice, Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows,

And as its panting ceased, and the sparks expired in the ashes, 10 Merrily laughed, and said they were nuns going into the chapel.

Oft on sledges in winter, as swift as the swoop of the eagle, Down the hillside bounding, they 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 stone, which the swallow 15 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 years, and they no longer were children. He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning, Gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened thought into

action. 20 She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman. “Sunshine of Saint Eulalie” was she called; for that was the

sunshine Which, as the farmers believed, would load their orchards with

apples; She too would bring to her husband's house delight and abun

dance, Filling it full of love and the ruddy faces of children.,



Now had the season returned, when the nights grow colder

and longer, And the retreating sun the sign of the Scorpion enters. Birds of passage sailed through the leaden air, from the ice

bound, 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 forest, as Jacob of old with the angel. All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.

Bees, with prophetic instinct of want, had hoarded their honey 5 Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian hunters asserted

Cold would the winter be, for 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 10 Lay as if new-created in all the freshness of childhood.

Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the


Was for a moment consoled. All sounds were in harmony

blended. Voices of children at play, the crowing of cocks in the farm

yards, Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons, 15 All were subdued and low as the murmurs of love, and the great


Looked with the eye of love through the golden vapors around


While arrayed in its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow, Bright with the sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the

forest Flashed like the plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles

and jewels.

20 Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness. Day with its burden and heat had departed, and twilight

descending Brought back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the

homestead. Pawing the ground they came, and resting their necks on each

other, And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of


Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline's beautiful heifer,
Proud of her snow-white hide, and the ribbon that waved from

her collar, Quietly paced and slow, as if conscious of human affection. Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the

seaside, 5 Where was their favorite pasture. Behind them followed the

watch-dog, Patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct, Walking from side to side with a lordly air, and superbly Waving his bushy tail, and urging forward the stragglers; Regent of flocks was he when the shepherd slept; their pro

tector, 10 When from the forest at night, through the starry silence, the

wolves howled. Late, with the rising moon, returned the wains from the marshes, Laden with briny hay, that filled the air with its odor. Cheerily neighed the steeds, with dew on their manes and their

fetlocks, While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous saddles, 15 Painted with brilliant dyes, and adorned with tassels of crimson,

Nodded in bright array, like hollyhocks heavy with blossoms. Patiently stood the cows meanwhile, and yielded their udders Unto the milkmaid's hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence

Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended. 20 Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farm


Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank into stillness; Heavily closed, with a jarring sound, the valves of the barn

doors, Rattled the wooden bars, and all for a season was silent.

In-doors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace, idly the farmer 25 Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the

Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him,
Nodding and mocking along the wall with gestures fantastic,
Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.

Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair Laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the

dresser Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine.

Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas, 5 Such as at home, in the olden time, his fathers before him Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vine

yards. Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated, Spinning flax for the loom that stood in the corner behind her.

Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest was its diligent shuttle, 10 While the monotonous drone of the wheel, like the drone of a

bagpipe, Followed the old man's song, and united the fragments together. As in a church, when the chant of the choir at intervals ceases, Footfalls are heard in the aisles, or words of the priest at the

altar, So, in each pause of the song, with measured motion the clock


15 Thus as they sat, there were footsteps heard, and, suddenly

lifted, Sounded the wooden latch, and the door swung back on its hinges. Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the black

smith, And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him. “Welcome!” the farmer exclaimed, as their footsteps paused on

the threshold, 20 “Welcome, Basil, my friend! Come, take thy place on the settle

Close by the chimney-side, which 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 25 Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the

marshes.” Then, with a smile of content, thus answered Basil the black


« PreviousContinue »