Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth
THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring
pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green,
indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices
sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that
rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced
Speaks, and 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 roe, when he hears in
the woodland the voice of the huntsman?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the
home of Acadian farmers --
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that
water the woodlands,
Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting
an image of heaven?
Waste are those pleasant farms, and the
farmers forever departed!
Scattered like dust and leaves, when the
mighty blasts of October
Seize them, and whirl them aloft, and
sprinkle them far o'er the ocean.
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful
village of Grand-Pre.
Ye who believe in affection that hopes,
and endures, and 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 Acadie, home
of the happy.
PART THE FIRST
IN THE Acadian land, on the shores
of the Basin of Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows
stretched to the eastward,
Giving the village its name, and pasture
to flocks without number.
Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had
raised with labor incessant,
Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated
seasons the flood-gates
Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander
at will o'er the meadows.
West and south there were fields of flax,
and orchards and corn-fields
Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain;
and away to the northward
Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and
aloft on the mountains
Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists
from the mighty Atlantic
Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er
from their station descended.
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed
the Acadian village.
Strongly built were the houses, with frames
of oak and of chestnut,
Such as the peasants of Normandy built
in the reign of the Henries.
Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows;
and gables projecting
Over the basement below protected and
shaded the doorway.
There in the tranquil evenings of summer,
when brightly the sunset
Lighted the village street, and gilded
the vanes on the chimneys,
Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps
and in kirtles
Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs
spinning the golden
Flax for the gossiping looms, whose 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
priest, and 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
Then came the laborers home from the field,
and serenely the sun sank
Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed.
Anon from the belfry
Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the
roofs of the village
Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds
of incense ascending,
Rose from a hundred hearths, the 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
Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and
envy, the vice of republics.
Neither locks had they to their doors,
nor bars to their windows;
But their dwellings were open as day and
the hearts of the owners;
There the richest was poor, and the poorest
lived in abundance.
Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer
the Basin of Minas,
Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest
farmer of Grand-Pre,
Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him,
directing his household,
Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and
the pride of the village.
Stalworth and stately in form was the man
of seventy winters;
Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is
covered with snow-flakes;
White as the snow were his locks, and
his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves.
Fair was she to behold, that maiden of
Black were her eyes as the berry that
grows on the thorn by the way-side,
Black, yet 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 ale, ah! fair in
sooth was the maiden.
Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while
the bell from its turret
Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as
the priest with his hysop
Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters
blessings upon them,
Down the long street she passed, with
her chaplet of beads and her missal,
Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle
of blue, and the ear-rings,
Brought in the olden time from France,
and since, as an heirloom,
Handed down from mother to child, through
But a celestial brightness -- a more ethereal
Shone on her face and encircled her form,
when, after confession,
Homeward serenely she walked with God's
benediction upon her.
When she had passed, it seemed like the
ceasing of exquisite music.
Firmly builded with rafters of oak, the
house of the farmer
Stood on the side of a hill commanding
the sea; and a shady
Sycamore grew by the door, with a woodbine
wreathing around it.
Rudely carved was the porch, with seats
beneath; and a footpath
Led through an orchard wide, and 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 poor, or the
blessed image of Mary.
Farther down, on the slope of the hill,
was the well with its moss-grown
Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it
a trough for the horses.
Shielding the house from storms, on the
north, were the barns and the farm-yard.
There stood the broad-wheeled wains and
the antique plows and the harrows;
There were the folds for the sheep; and
there, in his feathered seraglio,
Strutted the lordly turkey, and crowed
the cock, with the selfsame
Voice that in ages of old had startled
the penitent Peter.
Bursting with hay were the barns, themselves
a village. In each one
Far o'er the gable projected a roof of
thatch; and a staircase,
Under the sheltering eaves, led up to
the odorous corn-loft.
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-Pre
Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline
governed his household.
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
And as he knocked and waited to hear the
sound of her footsteps,
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;
Gabriel Lajeunesse, the son of Basil the
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 childhood
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
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
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,
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 hill-side 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
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 through into action.
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 abundance,
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
Birds of passage sailed through the leaden
air, from the ice-bound,
Desolate northern bays to the shores of
Harvests were gathered in; and wild with
the winds of September
Wrestled the trees of the forests, as
Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs foretold a winter long and
Bees, with prophetic instinct of want,
had hoarded their honey
Till the hives overflowed; and the Indian
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
Lay as if new created in all the freshness
Peace seemed to reign upon earth, and
the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment consoled. All sounds
were in harmony blended.
Voices of children at play, the crowing
of cocks in the farmyards,
Whir of wings in the drowsy air, and the
cooing of pigeons,
All were subdued and low as the murmurs
of love, and the great sun
Looked with the eye of love through the
golden vapors around him;
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.
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 evening.
Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline's
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,
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
Regent of flocks was he went the shepherd
slept; their protector,
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,
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
Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter
were heard in the farmyard,
Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank
Heavily closed, with a jarring sound,
the valves of the barn doors,
Rattled the wooden bars, and all for a
season was silent.
Indoors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace,
idly the farmer
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 wall, with
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,
Such as at home, in the olden time, his
fathers before him
Sang in their Norman orchards and bright
Close at her father's side was the gentle
Spinning flax for the loom, that stood
in the corner behind her.
Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest
was its diligent shuttle,
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 clicked.
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 blacksmith,
And by her beating heart Evangeline knew
who was with him.
"Welcome!" the farmer exclaimed, as their
footsteps paused on the threshold,
"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
Round and red as the harvest moon through
the mist of the marshes."
Then, with a smile of content, thus answered
Basil the blacksmith,
Taking with easy air the accustomed seat
by the fireside --
"Benedict Bellefontaine, thou hast ever
thy jest and thy ballad!
Ever in cheerfulest mood art thou, when
others are filled with
Gloomy forebodings of ill, and see only
ruin before them.
Happy art thou, as if every day thou hadst
picked up a horseshoe."
Pausing a moment, to take the pipe that
Evangeline brought him,
And with a coal from the embers had lighted,
he slowly continued --
"Four days now are passed since the English
ships at their anchors
Ride in the Gaspereau's mouth, with their
cannon pointed against us.
What their design may be is unknown; but
all are commanded
On the morrow to meet in the church, where
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
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,"
said, warmly, the blacksmith,
Shaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving
a sigh, he continued --
"Louisburg is not forgotten, nor Beau
Sejour, nor Port Royal.
Many already have fled to the forest,
and lurk on its outskirts,
Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious
fate of to-morrow.
Arms have been taken from us, and 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 unarmed, in the midst of
our flocks and our cornfields,
Safer within these peaceful dikes, besieged
by the ocean,
Than were our fathers in forts, besieged
by the enemy's cannon.
Fear no evil, my friend, and 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; and,
breaking the glebe round about them,
Filled the barn with hay, and the house
with food for a twelvemonth.
Rene Leblanc will be here anon, with his
papers and inkhorn.
Shall we not then be glad, and rejoice
in the joy of our children?"
As apart by the window she stood, with
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
BENT like a laboring oar, that toils
in the surf of the ocean,
Bent, but not broken, by age was the form
of the notary public;
Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken
floss of the maize, hung
Over his shoulders; his forehead was high;
and glasses with horn bows
Sat astride on his nose, with a look of
Father of twenty children was he, and
more than a hundred
Children's children rode on his knee,
and 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.
Now, though warier grown, without all
guile or suspicion,
Ripe in wisdom was he, but patient, and
simple and childlike.
He was beloved by all, and 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 Letiche, the ghost of
a child who unchristened
Died, and 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 ashes, and slowly
extending his right hand,
"Father Leblanc," he exclaimed, "thou
hast heard the talk in the village,
And, perchance, canst tell us some news
of these ships and their errand."
Then with modest demeanor made answer
the notary public --
"Gossip enough have I heard, in sooth,
yet 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
Brings them here, for we are at peace;
and why then molest us?"
"God's name!" shouted the hasty and somewhat
"Must we in all things look for the how,
and the why, and the wherefore?
Daily injustice is done, and might is
the right of the strongest!"
But, without heeding his warmth, continued
the notary public --
"Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally
Triumphs; and well I remember a story,
that often consoled me,
When as a captive I lay in the old French
fort at Port Royal."
This was the old man's favorite tale,
and he loved to repeat it
When his neighbors complained that any
injustice was done them.
"Once in an ancient city, whose name I
no longer remember,
Raised aloft on a column, a brazen statue
Stood in the public square, upholding
the scales in its left hand,
And in its right a sword, as an emblem
that justice presided
Over the laws of the land, and 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;
Might took the place of right, and the
weak were oppressed, and the mighty
Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced
in a nobleman's palace
That a necklace of pearls was lost, and
ere long a suspicion
Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid
in the household.
She, after 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
Lo! o'er the city a tempest rose; and
the bolts of the thunder
Smote the statue of bronze, and 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."
Silenced, but not convinced, when the
story was ended, the blacksmith
Stood like a man who fain would speak,
but findeth no language;
All his thoughts were congealed into lines
on his face, as the vapors
Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes
in the winter.
Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp
on the table,
Filled, till it overflowed, the pewter
tankard with home-brewed
Nut-brown ale, that 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 proceeded, and 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 rising, and blessing the
bride and the bridegroom,
Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank
to their welfare.
Wiping the foam from his lip, he 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 hit, or unsuccessful
Laughed when a man was crowned, or a breach
was made in the king-row.
Meanwhile apart, in the twilight gloom
of a window's embrasure,
Sat the lovers, and whispered together,
beholding the moon rise
Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist
of the meadows.
Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots
of the angels.
Thus passed the evening away. Anon the
bell from the belfry
Rang out the hour of nine, the village
curfew, and 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 heart, and
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
Up the staircase moved a luminous space
in the darkness,
Lighted less by the lamp than the shining
face of the maiden.
Silent she passed through the hall, and
entered the door of her chamber.
Simple that chamber was, with its curtains
of white, and its clothes-press
Ample and high, on whose spacious shelves
were carefully folded
Linen and woolen stuffs, by the hand of
This was the precious dower she would
bring to her husband in marriage,
Better than flocks and herds, being proofs
of her skill as a housewife.
Soon she extinguished her lamp, for the
mellow and radiant moonlight
Streamed through the windows, and lighted
the room, till the heart of the maiden
Swelled and obeyed its power, like the
tremulous tides of the ocean.
Ah! she was fair, exceeding fair to behold,
as she stood with
Naked snow-white feet on the gleaming
floor of her chamber!
Little she dreamed that below, among the
trees of the orchard,
Waited her lover and watched for the gleam
of her lamp and her shadow.
Yet were her thoughts of him, and at times
a feeling of sadness
Passed o'er her soul, as the sailing shade
of clouds in the moonlight
Flitted across the floor and darkened
the room for a moment.
And as she gazed from the window she saw
serenely the moon pass,
Forth from the folds of a cloud, and one
star follow her footsteps,
As out of Abraham's tent young Ishmael
wandered with Hagar!
PLEASANTLY rose next morn the sun on
the village of Grand-Pre.
Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet
air the Basin of Minas,
Where the ships, with their wavering shadows,
were riding at anchor.
Life had long been astir in the village,
and clamorous labor
Knocked with its hundred hands at the
golden gates of the morning.
Now from the country around, from the
farms and the neighboring hamlets,
Came in their holiday dresses the blithe
Many a glad good-morrow and jocund laugh
from the young folk
Made the bright air brighter, as up from
the numerous meadows,
Where no path could be seen but the track
of wheels in the greensward,
Group after group appeared, and joined,
or passed on the highway.
Long ere noon, in the village all sounds
of labor were silenced.
Thronged were the streets with people;
and noisy groups at the house-doors
Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced
and gossiped together,
Every house was an inn, where all were
welcomed and feasted;
For with this simple people, who lived
like brothers together,
All things were held in common, and 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 smiles, and words
of welcome and gladness
Fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed
the cup as she gave it.
Under the open sky, in the odorous air
of the orchard,
Bending with golden fruit, was spread
the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade of the porch were the
priest and the notary seated;
There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil
Not far withdrawn from these, by the cider-press
and the beehives,
Michael the fiddler was placed, with the
gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.
Shadow and light from the leaves alternately
played on his snow-white
Hair, as it waved in the wind; and the
jolly face of the fiddler
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 Chartres,
and Le Carillon de Dunkerque,
And anon with his wooden shoes beat time
to the music.
Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of
the dizzying dances
Under the orchard-trees and down the path
to the meadows;
Old folk and young together, and children
mingled among them.
Fairest of all the maids was Evangeline,
Noblest of all the youths was Gabriel,
son of the blacksmith!
So passed the morning away. And lo! with
a summons sonorous
Sounded the bell from its tower, and over
the meadows a drum beat.
Thronged ere long was the church with men.
Without, in the churchyard,
Waited the women. They stood by the graves,
and hung on the headstones
Garlands of autumn leaves and evergreens
fresh from the forest.
Then came the guard from the ships, and
marching proudly among them
Entered the sacred portal. With loud and
Echoed the sound of their brazen drums
from ceiling and casement --
Echoed a moment only, and slowly the ponderous
Closed, and in silence the crowd awaited
the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their commander, and spake
from the steps of the altar,
Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals,
the 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 do, which to you
I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the
will of our monarch;
Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings,
and cattle of all kinds
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 subjects, a happy and
Prisoners now I declare you; for such
is his Majesty's pleasure!"
As, when the air is serene in the sultry
solstice of summer,
Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly
sling of the hailstones
Beats down the farmer's corn in the field
and shatters his windows,
Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground
with thatch from the house-roofs,
Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break
So on the hearts of the people descended
the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless
wonder, and then rose
Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow
And, by one impulse moved, they 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
Rose, with his arms uplifted, the figure
of Basil the blacksmith,
As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed
by the billows.
Flushed was his face and distorted with
passion, and wildly he shouted --
"Down with the tyrants of England! we
never have sworn them allegiance!
Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize
on our homes and our harvests!"
More he fain would have said, but the
merciless hand of a soldier
Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged
him down to the pavement.
In the midst of the strife and tumult
of angry contention,
Lo! the door of the chancel opened, and
Entered, with serious mien, and ascended
the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend hand, with 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 he, as, after the tocsin's alarum,
distinctly the clock strikes.
"What is this that ye do, my children?
what madness has seized you?
Forty years of my life have I labored
among you, and taught you,
Not in word alone, but in deed, to love
Is this the fruit of my toils, of 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 Peace,
and would you profane it
Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing
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 Father, forgive them!'
Let us repeat that prayer in the hour
when the wicked assail us,
Let us repeat it now, and say, 'O Father,
Few were his words of rebuke, but deep
in the hearts of his people
Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded
that passionate outbreak;
And they repeated his prayer, and said,
"O Father, forgive them!"
Then came the evening service. The tapers
gleamed from the altar.
Fervent and deep was the voice of the
priest, and the people responded,
Not with their lips alone, but their hearts;
and the Ave Maria
Sang they, and fell on their knees, and
their souls, with devotion translated,
Rose on the ardor of prayer, like Elijah
ascending to heaven.
Meanwhile had spread in the village the
tidings of ill, and on all sides
Wandered, wailing, from house to house
the women and children.
Long at her father's door Evangeline stood,
with her right hand
Shielding her eyes from the level rays
of the sun, that, descending,
Lighted the village street with mysterious
splendor, and roofed each
Peasant's cottage with golden thatch,
and emblazoned its windows.
Long within had been spread the snow-white
cloth on the table;
There stood the wheaten loaf, and the
honey fragrant with wild flowers;
There stood the tankard of ale, and 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
door, as the sunset
Threw the long shadows of trees o'er the
broad ambrosial meadows.
Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow
And from the fields of her soul a fragrance
celestial ascended --
Charity, meekness, love, and hope, and
forgiveness, and patience!
Then, all-forgetful of self, she 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 cares, and the
weary feet of their children.
Down sank the great red sun, and in golden,
Veiled the light of his face, like the
Prophet descending from Sinai.
Sweetly over the village the bell of the
Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church
All was silent within; and in vain at
the door and the windows
Stood she, and listened and looked, until,
overcome by emotion,
"Gabriel!" cried she aloud with tremulous
voice; but no answer
Came from the graves of the dead, nor
the gloomier grave of the living
Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless
house of her father.
Smouldered the fire on the hearth, on
the board stood the supper untasted,
Empty and drear was each room, and haunted
with phantoms of terror.
Sadly echoed her step on the stair and
the floor of her chamber.
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 heaven, and governed
the world he created!
Then she remembered the tale she had heard
of the justice of heaven;
Soothed was her troubled soul, and she
peacefully slumbered till morning.
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 fields, in 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 ran,
and 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
Piled in confusion lay the household goods
of the peasants.
All day long the wains came laboring down
from the village.
Late in the afternoon, when 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
Opened, and forth came the guard, and
marching in gloomy procession
Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient,
Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from
their homes and their country,
Sing as they go, and in singing forget
they are weary and wayworn,
So with songs on their lips the Acadian
Down from the church to the shore, amid
their wives and their daughters.
Foremost the young men came; and, raising
together their voices,
Sang they with tremulous lips a chant
of the Catholic Missions --
"Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible
Fill our hearts this day with strength
and submission and patience!"
Then the old men, as they marched, and
the women that stood by the wayside
Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds
in the sunshine above them
Mingled their notes therewith, like voices
of spirits departed.
Half-way down to the shore Evangeline
waited in silence,
Not overcome with grief, but strong in
the hour of affliction --
Calmly and sadly waited, until the procession
And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale
Tears then filled her eyes, and, eagerly
running to meet him,
Clasped she his hands, and laid her head
on his shoulder and whispered --
"Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we
love one another,
Nothing, in truth, can harm us, whatever
mischances may happen!"
Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly
paused, for her father
Saw she slowly advancing. Alas! how changed
was his aspect!
Gone was the glow from his cheek, and
the fire from his eye, and his footstep
Heavier seemed with the weight of the
weary heart in his bosom.
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 prevailed, and the tumult
and stir of embarking.
Busily plied the freighted boats; and
in the confusion
Wives were torn from their husbands, and
mothers, too late, saw their children
Left on the land, extending their arms,
with wildest entreaties.
So unto separate ships were Basil and
While in despair on the shore Evangeline
stood with her father.
Half the task was not done when the sun
went down, and the twilight
Deepened and darkened around; and in haste
the refluent ocean
Fled away from the shore, and left the
line of the sand-beach
Covered with waifs of the tide, with kelp
and the slippery seaweed.
Farther back in the midst of the household
goods and the wagons,
Like to a gypsy camp, or a leaguer after
All escape cut off by the sea, and the
sentinels near them,
Lay encamped for the night the houseless
Back to its nethermost caves retreated
the bellowing ocean,
Dragging adown the beach the rattling
pebbles, and leaving
Inland and far up the shore the stranded
boats of the sailors.
Then, as the night descended, the herds
returned from their pastures;
Sweet was the moist still air with the
odor of milk from their udders;
Lowing they waited, and long, at 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 roofs, and 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 heard, and of men,
and the crying of children.
Onward from fire to fire, as from hearth
to hearth in his parish,
Wandered the faithful priest, consoling
and blessing and cheering,
Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's
Thus he approached the place where Evangeline
sat with her father,
And in the flickering light beheld the
face of the old man,
Haggard and hollow and wan, and 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
not, he looked not, he spake not,
But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at
the flickering firelight.
"Benedicite!" murmured the priest,
in tones of compassion.
More he fain would have said, but his
heart was full, and his accents
Faltered and paused on his lips, as the
feet of a child on a threshold,
Hushed by the scene he beholds, and the
awful presence of sorrow.
Silently, therefore, he laid his hand
on the head of the maiden,
Raising his eyes, full of tears, to the
silent stars that above them
Moved on their way, unperturbed by the
wrongs and sorrows of mortals.
Then sat he down at her side, and they
wept together in silence.
Suddenly rose from the south a light,
as in autumn the blood-red
Moon climbs the crystal walls of heaven,
and o'er the horizon
Titan-like stretches its hundred hands
upon mountain and meadow,
Seizing the rocks and the rivers, and
piling huge shadows together.
Broader and ever broader it gleamed on
the roofs of the village,
Gleamed on the sky and the sea, and the
ships that lay in the roadstead.
Columns of shining smoke uprose, and flashes
of flame were
Thrust through their folds and withdrawn,
like the quivering hands of a martyr.
Then as the wind seized the gleeds and
the burning thatch, and, uplifting,
Whirled them aloft through the air, at
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 stood, then 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 breeze, by the barking
of dogs interrupted.
Then rose a sound of dread, such 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 night,
as the herds and the horses
Broke through their folds and fences,
and madly rushed o'er the meadows.
Overwhelmed with the sight, yet speechless,
the 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 fallen, and stretched
abroad on the seashore
Motionless lay his form from which the
soul had departed.
Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless
head, and the maiden
Knelt at her father's side, and wailed
aloud in her terror.
Then in a swoon she sank, and lay with
her head on his bosom.
Through the long night she lay in deep,
And when she woke from the trance, she
beheld a multitude near her.
Faces of friends she beheld, that were
mournfully gazing upon her,
Pallid, with tearful eyes, and looks of
Still the blaze of the burning village
illumined the landscape,
Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed
on the faces around her,
And like the day of doom it seemed to
her wavering senses,
Then a familiar voice she heard, as 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 book, they buried
the farmer of Grand-Pre.
And as the voice of the priest repeated
the service of sorrow,
Lo! with a mournful sound, like the voice
of a vast congregation,
Solemnly answered the sea, and mingled
its roar with the dirges.
'T was the returning tide, that afar from
the waste of the ocean,
With the first dawn of the day, came 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 shore,
and the village in ruins.
PART THE SECOND
MANY a weary year had passed since
the burning of Grand-Pre,
When on the falling tide the freighted
Bearing a nation, with all its household
gods, into exile,
Exile without an end, and without an example
Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians
Scattered were they, like flakes of snow
when the wind from the northeast
Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken
the Banks of Newfoundland.
Friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered
from city to city,
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 hands, and drags
them down to the ocean,
Deep in their sands to bury the scattered
bones of the mammoth.
Friends they sought and homes; and many,
Asked of the earth but a grave, and 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 spirit, and patiently
suffering all things.
Fair was she and young; but, alas! before
Dreary and vast and silent, the desert
of life, with its pathway
Marked by the graves of those who had
sorrowed and suffered before her,
Passions long extinguished, and hopes
long dead and abandoned,
As the emigrant's way o'er the Western
desert is marked by
Camp-fires long consumed, and bones that
bleach in the sunshine.
Something there was in her life incomplete,
As if a morning of June, with all its
music and sunshine,
Suddenly paused in the sky, and, fading,
Into the east again, from whence it late
Sometimes she lingered in towns, till,
urged by the fever within her,
Urged by a restless longing, the hunger
and thirst of the spirit,
She would commence again her endless search
Sometimes in churchyards strayed, and
gazed on the crosses and tombstones,
Sat by some nameless grave, and thought
that perhaps in its bosom
He was already at rest, and she longed
to slumber beside him.
Sometimes a rumor, a hearsay, an inarticulate
Came with its airy hand to point and beckon
Sometimes she spake with those who had
seen her beloved and known him,
But it was long ago, in some far-off place
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said they; "O, yes!
we have seen him.
He was with Basil the blacksmith, and
both have gone to the prairies;
Coureurs-des-Bois are they, and
famous hunters and trappers,"
"Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said others; "O,
yes! we have seen him.
He is a Voyageur in the lowlands
Then would they say: "Dear child! why
dream and wait for him longer?
Are there not other youths as fair as
Who have hearts as tender and true, and
spirits as loyal?
Here is Baptiste Leblanc, the notary's
son, who has loved thee
Many a tedious year; come, give him thy
hand and be happy!
Thou art too fair to be left to braid
St. Catherine's tresses."
Then would Evangeline answer, serenely
but sadly -- "I cannot!
Whither my heart has gone, there follows
my hand, and not elsewhere.
For when the heart goes before, like a
lamp, and illumines the pathway,
Many things are made clear, that else
lie hidden in darkness."
And thereupon the priest, her friend and
Said, with a smile -- "O daughter! thy
God thus speaketh within thee!
Talk not of wasted affection, affection
never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of another,
its waters, returning
Back to their springs, like the rain,
shall 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 strong, and patient
endurance is godlike,
Therefore accomplish thy labor of love,
till the heart is made godlike,
Purified, strengthened, perfected, and
rendered more worthy of heaven!"
Cheered by the good man's words, Evangeline
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,
Bleeding, barefooted, over the shards
and thorns of existence.
Let me essay, O Muse! to follow the wanderer's
Not through each devious path, each changeful
year of existence;
But as a traveler follows a streamlet's
course through the valley;
Far from its margin at times, and seeing
the gleam of its water
Here and there, in some open space, and
at intervals only:
Then drawing nearer its banks, through
sylvan glooms that conceal it,
Though he behold it not, he can hear its
Happy, at length, if he find the spot
where it reaches an outlet.
It was the month of May. Far down the
Past the Ohio shore and past the mouth
of the Wabash,
Into the golden stream of the broad and
Floated a cumbrous boat, that was rowed
by Acadian boatmen.
It was a band of exiles; a raft, as it
were, from the shipwrecked
Nation, scattered along the coast, now
Bound by the bonds of a common belief
and a common misfortune;
Men and women and children, who, guided
by hope or by hearsay,
Sought for their kith and their kin among
the few-acred farmers
On the Acadian coast, and the prairies
of fair Opelousas.
With them Evangeline went, and her guide,
the Father Felician.
Onward, o'er sunken sands, through a wilderness
somber with forests,
Day after day they glided adown the turbulent
Night after night, by their blazing fires,
encamped on its borders,
Now through rushing chutes, among green
islands, where plumelike
Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy crests,
they swept with the current,
Then emerged into broad lagoons, where
Lay in the stream, and along the wimpling
waves of their margin,
Shining with snow-white plumes, large
flocks of pelicans waded.
Level the landscape grew, and along the
shores of the river,
Shaded by china-trees, in the midst of
Stood the houses of planters, with negro-cabins
They were approaching the region where
reigns perpetual summer,
Where through the Golden Coast, and groves
of orange and citron,
Sweeps with majestic curve the river away
to the eastward.
They, too, swerved from their course;
and, entering the Bayou of Plaquemine,
Soon were lost in a maze of sluggish and
Which, like a network of steel, extended
in every direction.
Over their heads the towering and tenebrous
boughs of the cypress
Met in a dusky arch, and trailing mosses
Waved like banners that hang on the walls
of ancient cathedrals.
Deathlike the silence seemed, and unbroken,
save by the herons
Home to their roosts in the cedar-trees
returning at sunset,
Or by the owl, as he greeted the moon
with demoniac laughter.
Lovely the moonlight was as it glanced
and gleamed on the water,
Gleamed on the columns of cypress and cedar
sustaining the arches,
Down through whose broken vaults it fell
as through chinks in a ruin.
Dreamlike, and indistinct, and strange
were all things around them;
And o'er their spirits there came a feeling
of wonder and sadness --
Strange forebodings of ill, unseen and
that cannot be compassed.
As, at the tramp of a horse's hoof on
the turf of the prairies,
Far in advance are closed the leaves of
the shrinking mimosa,
So, at the hoof-beats of fate, with sad
forebodings of evil,
Shrinks and closes the heart, ere the
stroke of doom has attained it.
But Evangeline's heart was sustained by
a vision, that faintly
Floated before her eyes, and 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.
Then in his place, at the prow of the boat,
rose one of the oarsmen,
And, as a signal sound, if others like
Sailed on those gloomy and midnight streams,
blew a blast on his bugle.
Wild through the dark colonnades and corridors
leafy the blast rang,
Breaking the seal of silence, and giving
tongues to the forest.
Soundless above them the banners of moss
just stirred to the music.
Multitudinous echoes awoke and died in
Over the watery floor, and beneath the
But not a voice replied; no answer came
from the darkness;
And when the echoes had ceased, like a
sense of pain was the silence.
Then Evangeline slept; but the boatmen
rowed through the midnight,
Silent at times, then singing familiar
Such as they sang of old on their own
And through the night were heard the mysterious
sounds of the desert,
Far off, indistinct, as 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
Lay, in the golden sun, the lakes of the
Water-lilies in myriads rocked on the slight
Made by the passing oars, and, resplendent
in beauty, the 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
Fragrant and thickly embowered with blossoming
hedges of roses,
Near to whose shores they glided along,
invited to slumber.
Soon by the fairest of these their weary
oars were suspended.
Under the boughs of Wachita willows, that
grew by the margin,
Safely their boat was moored; and scattered
about on the greensward,
Tired with their midnight toil, the weary
Over them vast and high extended the cope
of a cedar.
Swinging from its great arms, the trumpet-flower
and the grape-vine
Hung their ladder of ropes aloft like the
ladder of Jacob,
On whose pendulous stairs the angels ascending,
Were the swift humming-birds, that flitted
from blossom to blossom.
Such was the vision Evangeline saw as
she slumbered beneath it.
Filled was her heart with love, and the
dawn of an opening heaven
Lighted her soul in sleep with the glory
of regions celestial.
Nearer and ever nearer, among the numberless
Darted a light, swift boat, that sped
away o'er the water,
Urged on its course by the sinewy arms
of hunters and trappers.
Northward its prow was turned, to the
land of the bison and beaver.
At the helm sat a youth, with countenance
thoughtful and careworn.
Dark and neglected locks overshadowed
his brow, and a sadness
Somewhat beyond his years on his face
was legibly written.
Gabriel was it, who, weary with waiting,
unhappy and restless,
Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of
self and of sorrow.
Swiftly they glided along, close under
the lee of the island,
But by the opposite bank, and behind a
screen of palmettos,
So that they saw not the boat, where it
lay concealed in the willows,
And undisturbed by the dash of their oars,
and unseen, were the sleepers;
Angel of God was there none to awaken
the slumbering maiden.
Swiftly they glided away, like 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 awoke,
and the maiden
Said with a sigh to the friendly priest
-- "O Father Felician!
Something says in my heart that near me
Is it a foolish dream, an idle vague superstition?
Or has an angel passed, and revealed the
truth to my spirit?"
Then, with a blush, she added -- "Alas
for my credulous fancy!
Unto ears like thine such words as these
have no meaning."
But made answer the reverend man, and
he smiled as he answered --
"Daughter, thy 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 buoy, that betrays where
the anchor is hidden.
Therefore trust to thy heart, and to what
the world calls illusions.
Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far
away to the southward,
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 land, with its prairies
and forests of fruit-trees;
Under the feet a garden of flowers, and
the bluest of heavens
Bending above, and 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
Seemed all on fire at the touch, and melted
and mingled together.
Ranging between two skies, a cloud with
edges of silver,
Floated the boat, with its dripping oars,
on the motionless water.
Filled was Evangeline's heart with inexpressible
Touched by the magic spell, the sacred
fountains of feeling
Glowing with the light of love, as the
skies and waters around her.
Then from a neighboring thicket the mocking-bird,
wildest 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 heard, in sorrowful,
Till, having gathered them all, he flung
them abroad in derision,
As when, after a storm, a gust of wind
through the tree-tops
Shakes down the rattling rain in a crystal
shower on the branches.
With such a prelude as this, and hearts
that throbbed with emotion,
Slowly they entered the Teche, where it
flows through the green Opelousas,
And through the amber air, above the crest
of the woodland,
Saw the column of smoke that arose from
a neighboring dwelling;
Sounds of a horn they heard, and the distant
lowing of cattle.
NEAR to the bank of the river, o'ershadowed
by oaks, from whose branches
Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic
Such as the Druids cut down with golden
hatchets at Yule-tide,
Stood, secluded and still, the house of
the herdsman. A garden
Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant
Filling the air with fragrance. The house
itself was of timbers
Hewn from the cypress-tree, and carefully
Large and low was the roof; and on slender
Rose-wreathed, vine-encircled, a broad
and spacious veranda,
Haunt of the humming-bird and the bee,
extended around it.
At each end of the house, amid the flowers
of the garden,
Stationed the dove-cotes were, as love's
Scenes of endless wooing, and endless contentions
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-top, ascending and
Into the evening air, a thin blue column
of smoke rose.
In the rear of the house, from the garden
gate, ran a pathway
Through the great groves of oak to the
skirts of the limitless prairie,
Into whose sea of flowers the sun was
Full in his track of light, like ships
with shadowy canvas
Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless
calm in the tropics,
Stood a cluster of trees, with tangled
cordage of grape-vines.
Just where the woodlands met the flowery
surf of the prairie,
Mounted upon his horse, with Spanish saddle
Sat a herdsman, arrayed in gaiters and
doublet of deerskin.
Broad and brown was the face that from
under the Spanish sombrero
Gazed on the peaceful scene, with the
lordly look of its master.
Round about him were numberless herds
of kine, that were grazing
Quietly in the meadows, and breathing the
That uprose from the river, and spread
itself over the landscape.
Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his
side, and expanding
Fully his broad, deep chest, he blew a
blast, that resounded
Wildly and sweet and far, through 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 gazed, then bellowing
rushed o'er the prairie,
And the whole mass became a cloud, a shade
in the distance.
Then, as the herdsman turned to the house,
through 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 amazement, and forward
Rushed with extended arms and exclamations
When they beheld his face, they recognized
Basil the Blacksmith.
Hearty his welcome was, as he led his
guests to the garden.
There in an arbor of roses with endless
question and answer
Gave they vent to their hearts, and renewed
their friendly embraces,
Laughing and weeping by turns, or sitting
silent and thoughtful.
Thoughtful, for Gabriel came not; and
now dark doubts and misgivings
Stole o'er the maiden's heart; and Basil,
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 eyes, and she said,
with a tremulous accent --
"Gone? is Gabriel gone?" and, concealing
her face on his shoulder,
All her o'erburdened heart gave way, and
she wept and lamented.
Then the good Basil said -- and his voice
grew blithe as he said it --
"Be of good cheer, my child; it is only
to-day he departed.
Foolish boy! he has left me alone with
my herds and my horses.
Moody and restless grown, and tried and
troubled, his spirit
Could no longer endure the calm of this
Thinking ever of thee, uncertain and sorrowful
Ever silent, or speaking only of thee
and his troubles,
He at length had become so tedious to
men and to maidens,
Tedious even to me, that at length I bethought
me and sent him
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 forests, on rivers
trapping the beaver.
Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow
the fugitive lover;
He is not far on his way, and the Fates
and the streams are against him.
Up and away to-morrow, and through the
red dew of the morning
We will follow him fast and bring him
back to his prison."
Then glad voices were heard, and up from
the banks of the river,
Borne aloft on his comrades' arms, came
Michael the fiddler.
Long under Basil's roof had he lived like
a god on Olympus,
Having no other care than dispensing music
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;
Father Felician advanced with Evangeline,
greeting the old man
Kindly and oft, and recalling the past,
while Basil, enraptured,
Hailed with hilarious joy his old companions
Laughing loud and long, and embracing
mothers and daughters.
Much they marvelled to see the wealth
of the ci-devant blacksmith,
All his domains and his herds, and his
Much they marveled to hear his tales of
the soil and the climate,
And of the prairies, whose numberless
herds were his who would take them;
Each one thought in his heart that he,
too, would go and do likewise.
Thus they ascended the steps, and, crossing
the airy veranda,
Entered the hall of the house, where already
the supper of Basil
Waited his late return; and they rested
and feasted together.
Over the joyous feast the sudden darkness
All was silent without, and illuming the
landscape with silver,
Fair rose the dewy moon and the myriad
stars; but within doors,
Brighter than these, shone the faces of
friends in the glimmering lamplight.
Then from his station aloft, at the head
of the table, the herdsman
Poured forth his heart and his wine together
in endless profusion.
Lighting his pipe, that was filled with
sweet Natchitoches tobacco,
Thus he spake to his guests, who listened,
and smiled as they listened:
"Welcome once more, my friends, who so
long have been friendless and homeless,
Welcome once more to a home, that 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
Here, too, numberless herds run wild and
unclaimed in the prairies;
Here, too, lands may be had for the asking,
and forests of timber
With a few blows of the axe are hewn and
framed into houses.
After your houses are built, and your
fields are yellow with harvests,
No King George of England shall drive
you away from your homesteads,
Burning your dwellings and barns, and
stealing your farms and your cattle."
Speaking these words, he blew a wrathful
cloud from his nostrils,
And his huge, brawny hand came thundering
down on the table,
So that the guests all started; and Father
Suddenly paused, with a pinch of snuff
half-way to his nostrils.
But the brave Basil resumed, and his words
were milder and gayer --
"Only beware of the fever, my friends,
beware of the fever!
For it is not like that of our cold Acadian
Cured by wearing a spider hung round one's
neck in a nutshell!"
Then there were voices heard at the door,
and footsteps approaching
Sounded upon the stairs and the floor
of the breezy veranda.
It was the neighboring Creoles and small
Who had been summoned all to the house
of Basil the Herdsman.
Merry the meeting was of ancient comrades
Friend clasped friend in his arms; and
they who before were as strangers,
Meeting in exile, became straightway as
friends to each other,
Drawn by the gentle bond of a common country
But in the neighboring hall a strain of
From the accordant strings of Michael's
Broke up all further speech. Away, like
All things forgotten beside, they gave
themselves to the maddening
Whirl of the dizzy dance, as it swept
and swayed to the music,
Dreamlike, with beaming eyes and the rush
of fluttering garments.
Meanwhile, apart, at the head of the hall,
the priest and the herdsman
Sat, conversing together of past and present
While Evangeline stood like one entranced,
for within her
Olden memories rose, and loud in the midst
of the music
Heard she the sound of the sea, and an
Came o'er her heart, and unseen she stole
forth into the garden.
Beautiful was the night. Behind the black
wall of the forest,
Tipping its summit with silver, arose
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 her, the manifold
flowers of the garden
Poured out their souls in odors, that
were their prayers and confessions
Unto the night, as it went its way, like
a silent Carthusian.
Fuller of fragrance then they, and 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
As, through the garden gate, beneath the
brown shade of the oak-trees,
Passed she along the path to the edge
of the measureless prairie.
Silent it lay, with a silvery haze upon
it, and the fire-flies
Gleaming and floating away in mingled
and infinite numbers.
Over her head the stars, the thoughts
of God in the heavens,
Shone on the eyes of man, who 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 maiden, between the
stars and the fire-flies,
Wandered alone, and she cried -- "O Gabriel!
O my beloved!
Art thou so near unto me, and yet I cannot
Art thou so near unto me, and yet thy
voice does not reach me?
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 oak, returning
Thou hast lain down to rest, and to dream
of me in thy slumbers.
When shall these eyes behold, these arms
be folded about thee?"
Loud and sudden and near the note of a
Like a flute in the woods; and anon, through
the neighboring thickets,
Farther and farther away it floated and
dropped into silence.
"Patience!" whispered the oaks from oracular
caverns of darkness;
And, from the moonlit meadow, a sigh responded,
Bright rose the sun next day; and all
the flowers of the garden
Bathed his shining feet with their tears,
and anointed his tresses
With the delicious balm that they bore
in their vases of crystal.
"Farewell!" said the priest, as he stood
at the shadowy threshold;
"See that you bring us the Prodigal Son
from his fasting and famine,
And, too, the Foolish Virgin, who slept
when the bridegroom was coming."
"Farewell!" answered the maiden, and,
smiling, with Basil descended
Down to the river's brink, where the boatmen
already were waiting.
Thus beginning their journey with morning,
and 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 day, nor the next, nor yet the
day that succeeded,
Found they trace of his course, in lake
or forest or river,
Nor, after many days, had they found him;
but vague and uncertain
Rumors alone were their guides through
a wild and desolate country,
Till, at the little inn of the Spanish
town of Adayes,
Weary and worn, they alighted, and learned
from the garrulous landlord,
That on the day before, with horses and
guides and companions,
Gabriel left the village, and took the
road of the prairies.
FAR in the West there lies a desert
land, where the mountains
Lift, through perpetual snows, their lofty
and luminous summits.
Down from their jagged, deep ravines,
where the gorge, like a gateway,
Opens a passage rude to the wheels of
the emigrant's wagon,
Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway
Eastward, with devious course, among the
Through the Sweetwater Valley precipitate
leaps the Nebraska;
And to the south, from Fontaine-qui-bout
and the Spanish sierras,
Fretted with sands and rocks, and swept
by the wind of the desert,
Numberless torrents, with ceaseless sound,
descend to the ocean,
Like the great chords of a harp, in loud
and solemn vibrations.
Spreading between these streams are the
wondrous, beautiful 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 herds, and
the elk and the roebuck;
Over them wander the wolves, and herds
of riderless horses;
Fires that blast and blight, and winds
that are weary with travel;
Over them wander the scattered tribes of
Staining the desert with blood; and above
their terrible war-trails
Circles and sails aloft, on pinions majestic,
Like the implacable soul of a chieftain
slaughtered in battle,
By invisible stairs ascending and scaling
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 grim, taciturn bear, the anchorite
monk of the desert,
Climbs down their dark ravines to dig
for roots by the brookside,
And over all is the sky, the clear and
Like the protecting hand of God inverted
Into this wonderful land, at the base
of the Ozark Mountains,
Gabriel far had entered, with hunters
and trappers behind him.
Day after day, with their Indian guides,
the maiden and Basil
followed his flying steps, and thought
each day to o'ertake him.
Sometimes they saw, or thought they saw,
the smoke of his camp-fire
Rise in the morning air from the distant
plain; but at nightfall,
When they had reached the place, they
found only embers and ashes.
And, though their hearts were sad at times
and their bodies were weary,
Hope still guided them on, as the magic
Showed them her lakes of light, that retreated
and vanished before them.
Once, as they sat by their evening fire,
there silently entered
Into the little camp an Indian woman,
Wore deep traces of sorrow, and patience
as great as her sorrow.
She was a Shawnee woman returning home
to her people,
From the far-off hunting-grounds of the
Where her Canadian husband, a Coureur-des-Bois,
had been murdered.
Touched were their hearts at her story,
and warmest and friendliest welcome
Gave they, with words of cheer, and she
sat and feasted among them
On the buffalo meat and the venison cooked
on the embers.
But when their meal was done, and 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 ground, and
slept where the quivering firelight
Flashed on their swarthy cheeks, and their
forms wrapped up in their blankets,
Then at the door of Evangeline's tent
she sat and repeated
Slowly, with soft, low voice, and the
charm of her Indian accent,
All the tale of her love, with its pleasures,
and pains, and reverses.
Much Evangeline wept at the tale, and
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
Mute with wonder the Shawnee sat, and
when she had ended
Still was mute; but at length, as if a
Passed through her brain, she spake, and
repeated the tale of the Mowis;
Mowis, the bridegroom of snow, who won
and wedded a maiden,
But, when the morning came, arose and
passed from the wigwam,
Fading and melting away and dissolving
into the sunshine,
Till she beheld him no more, though she
followed far into the forest.
Then, in those sweet, low tones, that
seem like a weird incantation,
Told she the tale of the fair Lilinau,
who was wooed by a phantom,
That, through the pines o'er her father's
lodge, in the hush of the twilight,
Breathed like the evening wind, and whispered
love to the maiden,
Till she followed his green and waving
plume through the forest,
And never more returned, nor was seen
again by her people.
Silent with wonder and strange surprise
To the soft flow of her magical words,
till the region around her
Seemed like enchanted ground, and her
swarthy guest the enchantress.
Slowly over the tops of the Ozark Mountains
the moon rose,
Lighting the little tent, and with a mysterious
Touching the somber leaves, and embracing
and filling the woodland.
With a delicious sound the brook rushed
by, and the branches
Swayed and sighed overhead in scarcely
Filled with the thoughts of love was Evangeline's
heart, but a secret,
Subtile sense crept in of pain and indefinite
As the cold, poisonous 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
That, like the Indian maid, she, too,
was pursuing a phantom.
And with this thought she slept, and the
fear and the phantom had vanished.
Early upon the morrow the march was resumed;
and the Shawnee
Said, as 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 people, and tells
them of Mary and Jesus;
Loud laugh their hearts with joy, and
weep with pain, as they hear him."
Then, with a sudden and secret emotion,
Evangeline answered --
"Let us go to the Mission, for there good
tidings await us!"
Thither they turned their steeds; and behind
a spur of the mountains,
Just as the sun went down, they heard
a murmur of voices,
And in a meadow green and broad, by the
bank of a river,
Saw the tents of the Christians, the tents
of the Jesuit Mission.
Under a towering oak, that stood in the
midst of the village,
Knelt the Black Robe chief with his children.
A crucifix fastened
High on the trunk of the tree, and overshadowed
Looked with its agonized face on the multitude
kneeling beneath it.
This was their rural chapel. Aloft, through
the intricate arches
Of its aerial roof, arose the chant of
Mingling its notes with the soft susurrus
and sighs of the branches.
Silent, with heads uncovered, the travelers,
Knelt on the swarded floor, and joined
in the evening devotions.
But when the service was done, and the
benediction had fallen
Forth from the hands of the priest, like
seed from the hands of the sower,
Slowly the reverend man advanced to the
strangers, and bade them
Welcome; and when they replied, he 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 reposed,
and on cakes of the maize-ear
Feasted, and 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
On this mat by my side, where now the
Told me this same sad tale; then arose
and continued his journey!"
Soft was the voice of the priest, and
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 in autumn,
When the chase is done, will return again
to the Mission."
Then Evangeline said, and her voice was
meek and submissive --
"Let me remain with thee, for my soul
is sad and afflicted."
So seemed it wise and well unto all; and
betimes on the morrow,
Mounting his Mexican steed, with his Indian
guides and companions,
Homeward Basil returned, and Evangeline
stayed at the Mission.
Slowly, slowly, slowly 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 came, now waving above her,
Lifted their slender shafts, with leaves
interlacing, and forming
Cloisters for mendicant crows and granaries
pillaged by squirrels.
Then in the golden weather the maize was
busked, and the maidens
Blushed at each blood-red ear, for that
betokened a lover,
But at the crooked laughed, and 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
faith, and thy prayer will be answered!
Look at this delicate plant that lifts
its head from the meadow,
See how its leaves all point to the north,
as true as the magnet;
It is the compass-flower, that the finger
of God has suspended
Here on its fragile stalk, to direct the
Over the sea-like, pathless, limitless
waste of the desert.
Such in the soul of man is faith. The
blossoms of passion,
Gay and luxuriant flowers, are brighter
and fuller of fragrance,
But they beguile us, and lead us astray,
and their odor is deadly.
Only this humble plant can guide us here,
Crown us with asphodel flowers, that are
wet with the dews of nepenthe."
So came the autumn, and passed, and the
winter -- yet Gabriel came not;
Blossomed the opening spring, and the
notes of the robin and bluebird
Sounded sweet upon wold and in wood, yet
Gabriel came not.
But on the breath of the summer winds
a rumor was wafted
Sweeter than song of bird, or hue or odor
Far to the north and east, it said, in
the Michigan forests,
Gabriel had his lodge by the banks of
the Saginaw river.
And, with returning guides, that sought
the lakes of St. Lawrence,
Saying a sad farewell, Evangeline went
from the Mission.
When over weary ways, by long and perilous
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 on,
and in seasons and places
Divers and distant far was seen the wandering
Now in the tents of grace of the meek
Now in the noisy camps and the battle-fields
of the army,
Now in secluded hamlets, in towns and
Like a phantom she came, and passed away
Fair was she and young, when in hope began
the long journey;
Faded was she and old, when in disappointment
Each succeeding year stole something away
from her beauty,
Leaving behind it, broader and deeper,
the gloom and the shadow.
Then there appeared and spread faint streaks
of gray o'er her forehead,
Dawn of another life, that broke o'er
her earthly horizon,
As in the eastern sky the first faint
streaks of the morning.
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 balm, and 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
landed, an exile,
Finding among the children of Penn a home
and a country.
There old Rene Leblanc had died; and when
Saw at his side only one of all his hundred
Something at least there was in the friendly
streets of the city,
Something that spake to her heart, and
made her no longer a stranger:
And her ear was pleased with the Thee
and Thou of the Quakers,
For it recalled the past, the old Acadian
Where all men were equal, and all were
brothers and sisters.
So, when the fruitless search, the disappointed
Ended, to recommence no more upon earth,
Thither, as leaves to the light, were
turned her thoughts and her footsteps.
As from a mountain's top the rainy mists
of the morning
Roll away, and afar we behold the landscape
Sun-illumined, with shining rivers and
cities and hamlets,
So fell the mists from her mind, and she
saw the world far below her,
Dark no longer, but all illumined with
love; and the pathway
Which she had climbed so far, lying smooth
and fair in the distance.
Gabriel was not forgotten. Within her
heart was his image,
Clothed in the beauty of love and youth,
as last she beheld him,
Only more beautiful made by his deathlike
silence and absence.
Into her thoughts of him time entered not,
for it was not.
Over him years had no power; he was not
changed, but transfigured;
He had become to her heart as one who
is dead, and not absent;
Patience and abnegation of self, and devotion
This was the lesson a life of trial and
sorrow had taught her.
So was her love diffused, but, like to
some odorous spices,
Suffered no waste nor loss, though filling
the air with aroma.
Other hope had she none, nor wish in life,
but to follow
Meekly, with reverent steps, the 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
Night after night, when the world was
asleep, as the watchman repeated
Loud, through the gusty streets, that
all was well in the city,
High at some lonely window he saw the
light of her taper.
Day after day, in the gray of the dawn,
as slow through the suburbs
Plodded the German farmer, with flowers
and fruits for the market,
Met he that meek, pale face, returning
home from its watchings.
Then it came to pass that a pestilence
fell on the city,
Presaged by wondrous signs, and mostly
by flocks of wild pigeons,
Darkening the sun in their flight, with
naught in their craws but an acorn.
And, as the tides of the sea arise in
the month of September,
Flooding some silver stream, till it spreads
to a lake in a meadow,
So death flooded life, and o'erflowing
its natural margin,
Spread to a brackish lake, the silver
stream of existence.
Wealth had no power to bribe, nor beauty
to charm, the oppressor;
But all perished alike beneath the scourge
of his anger --
Only, alas! the poor, who had neither
friends nor attendants,
Crept away to die in the almshouse, home
of the homeless;
Then in the suburbs it stood, in the midst
of meadows and woodlands --
Now the city surrounds it; but still with
its gateway and wicket
Meek, in the midst of splendor, its humble
walls seem to echo
Softly the words of the Lord -- "The poor
ye always have with you."
Thither, by night and by day, came the
Sister of Mercy. The dying
Looked up into her face, and thought,
indeed, to 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.
Thus, on a Sabbath morn, through the streets,
deserted and silent,
Wending her quiet way, she 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.
Then, as she mounted the stairs to the
corridors, cooled by the east wind,
Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes
from the belfry of Christ Church,
While, intermingled with these, across
the meadows were wafted
Sounds of psalms, that 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;"
And, with a light in her looks, she entered
the chambers of sickness.
Noiselessly moved about the assiduous,
Moistening the feverish lip, and the aching
brow, and in silence
Closing the sightless eyes of the dead,
and concealing their faces,
Where on their pallets they lay, like
drifts of snow by the roadside.
Many a languid head, upraised as Evangeline
Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while
she passed, for her presence
Fell on their hearts like a ray of the
sun on the walls of a prison.
And, as she looked around, she saw how
Death, the consoler,
Laying his hand upon many a heart, had
healed it forever.
Many familiar forms had disappeared in
Vacant their places were, or filled already
Suddenly, as if arrested by fear or a
feeling of wonder,
Still she stood with her colorless lips
apart, while a shudder
Ran through her frame, and, forgotten,
the 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 it, and started up
from their pillows.
On the pallet before her was stretched
the form of an old man.
Long, and thin, and gray were the locks
that shaded his temples;
But, as he lay in the morning light, his
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 life, like the Hebrew, with blood
had besprinkled its portals,
That the Angel of Death might see the
sign, and pass over,
Motionless, senseless, dying, he lay,
and his spirit exhausted
Seemed to be sinking down to infinite depths
in the darkness,
Darkness of slumber and death, forever
sinking and sinking.
Then through those realms of shade, in
Heard he that cry of pain, and through
the hush that succeeded
Whispered a gentle voice, in accents tender
"Gabriel! O my beloved!" and died away
Then he beheld, in a dream, once more
the home of his childhood;
Green Acadian meadows, with sylvan rivers
Village, and mountain, and woodlands;
and, walking under their shadow,
As in the days of her youth, Evangeline
rose in his vision.
Tears came into his eyes; and as slowly
he lifted his eyelids,
Vanished the vision away, but Evangeline
knelt by his bedside.
Vainly he strove to whisper her name,
for the accents unuttered
Died on his lips, and their motion revealed
what his tongue would have spoken.
Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline,
kneeling beside him,
Kissed his dying lips, and 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.
All was ended now, the hope, and the fear,
and the sorrow,
All the aching of heart, the restless,
All the dull, deep pain, and constant
anguish of patience!
And, as she pressed once more the lifeless
head to her bosom,
Meekly she bowed her own, and murmured,
"Father, I thank thee!"
Still stands the forest primeval; but
far away from its shadow,
Side by side, in their nameless graves,
the lovers are sleeping.
Under the humble walls of the little Catholic
In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown
Daily the tides of life go ebbing and
flowing beside them,
Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs
are at rest and forever,
Thousands of aching brains, where theirs
no longer are busy,
Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs
have ceased from their labors,
Thousands of weary feet, where theirs
have completed their journey!
Still stands the forest primeval; but
under the shade of its branches
Dwells another race, with other customs
Only along the shore of the mournful and
Linger a few Acadian peasants, whose fathers
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
While from its rocky caverns the deep-voiced,
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers
the wail of the forest.