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THE expulsion of the Acadians from their native soil has furnished themes for some of the tenderest stories and sweetest poems in the English language. The romancer need not cudgel his brain to conjure up some ambitious tale of woe to enlist the sympathy of his hearers; there are enough threads of truth in the lamentable history, from which the romancer may weave his most thrilling story, and the poet sing his sweetest song. No story told of those suffering people is more sad than that of Jean Baptiste De Barre. Never was lover more devoted to the object of his affection. Soon after landing at New York, and before he was fully recovered from the blow dealt him from the stock of the soldier's musket, he set out on his wanderings.
At times he was almost insane from the effect of the blow, and had attacks of epilepsy at intervals as long as he lived. His affiictions never for a moment prevented his searching everywhere, to the St. Lawrence, then to Acadia, back to Pennsylvania and again to Acadia, hoping against hope, that he yet might find the being from whom he was separated. He braved a thousand perils, defied cold and heat and, carrying his life in his hands, wandered hither and thither up and down the land searching for the lost one.
•While the roar of battle went up from the airy heights of the plains of Abraham, he stood across the stream and gazing on the scene, said:
“Will he survive the conflict? Will he fall? Then I must search again alone.”
At last the battle ceased.
Then a hush of death came over the scene, and but for the fact that he saw figures moving about on that vast elevated plain, he might have thought all dead. He waited three or four days in the forest, where he could overlook the town and battlefield, and from this post of observation saw the French flag come down forever from over Quebec, and the English colors take its place to wave, no one knows, as yet, how long.
“Will he come?” asked Jean, his face pale as death and his lips blue.
Next day, he saw a man descending from that airy plain to the river. The rays of the declining sun fell upon his scarlet uniform, and revealed the fact that he was an officer of the royal Americans. IIe entered a small skiff and crossing the river moored his small boat, and came directly to the wood in which the Acadian was waiting. Jean recognized him as Captain Noah Stevens, and came down to greet him.
“ Have you conquered ?” asked Jean.
Pointing to the flag flying over Quebec, Noah said:
“Do you see that?”
“ All New France now belongs to England,” the officer joyfully answered.
Jean sank down and, burying his face in his hands, sighed. The officer, placing his hand gently on his shoulder, spoke encouragingly:
“Jean, why do you sigh? You are as much an Englishman as a Frenchman. Your father was born in Virginia. He and my father · were brothers.”
“ Then we are cousins?” “ Yes."
“ Tell me all that strange story o’er again, for of late my memory is poor, and I cannot recall things as I used to.”
Seated on a fallen tree, Noah Stevens told him how two brothers from Virginia were serving on board a New England privateer. One was wounded in a fierce sea-fight with a French vessel and went to Boston. From Boston he wandered to Deerfield, where he was captured by French and Indians and taken to Quebec, where, as a galley slave, he was at labor on the fort when rescued by a fair Acadian whom he afterward married. All through the story, Jean sat listening and finally said:
“So my father was George and yours Elmer. Very well, I know the story now, and it shall never escape my memory again. Are you going with me?”
“ Certainly, I have resigned my commission, and I am at your service.”
“ Then come.”
“Why do you wait? Surely we have waited all too long now. Lo, I have waited now these three years!"
By strong persuasion, Noah induced his unfortunate cousin to resume his seat on the fallen tree, while he explained to him that his search had all along been aimless, without any special plan or system.
“Let us commence at once by going to Grand Pre and learning whence she went from there."
“No one knows. I have asked, and all I can learn from the English is that she became frightened at the threat of Captain Winslow and fled.”
Nevertheless, Noah Stevens was determined to go to Grand Pre, and informed his cousin that he must consent to follow his advice, if he would have his aid.
"I will; but, verily, you are trying,” sighed the Acadian.
Nevertheless, he felt encouraged at having the assistance of one whom all praised for his judgment and courage. Noah Stevens had gained a considerable reputation as a backwoods scout, hunter and soldier. The man of superior abilities always finds admirers, go where he will. He was spoken of in the army of the Northeast as the most courageous officer on the frontier, and Jean felt strong when he had such an assistant. Noah's natural inclinations were to return to his home, wife and child, for he had an infant son in New York; but his cousin's sad story so affected him, that he decided to forego the pleasure of a speedy return.
Most of the time, Jean was wholly rational and was never demented or fully insane, for the blow on his head only slightly affected his mind at times. At all times he had but the one object in view,