Page images

Such as the peasants of Normanıly built in tho

reign of the Henries. Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows;

and gables projecting Over the basement below protected and shaded

the door-way. 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 affection

ate welcome. 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 evvy, 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-Pré, Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directe

ing his household, Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride

of the

village. Stalworth and stately in form was the man of sev

enty 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 seventeen


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 hyssop

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 froin mother to child, through long

generations. But a celestial brightness

more ethereal beauty Shone on her face and encircled her form, when,

after confession, Homeward serenely she walked with God's bene

diction 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 penthouse, Such as the traveller sees in regions remote by tho

road-side, 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 ploughs 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 far

mer of Grand-Pré 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 deep

est devotion ; IIappy 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 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


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 black

smith, Who was a mighty man in the village, and hon.

ored of all men ; For since the birth of time, throughout all ages aud

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 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 Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of

cinders. Oft on autumnal eves, when without in the gather

ing darkness Bursting with light seemed the smithy, through

every cranny and crevice, Warm by the forge within they watched the labor

ing bellows,

« PreviousContinue »