Page images

old man,

But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires

had been kindled, Built of the drift-wood 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 bless

ing and cheering, Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate

sea-shore. Thus he approached the place where Evangeline

sat with her father, And in the flickering light beheld the face of the 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 flick

ering fire-light. * 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, Sushed 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 Moved on their way, unperturbed by the wrongs

that above them

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 moun

tain 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flame were Thrust through their folds and withdrawn, like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 burn

ing thatch, and, uplifting, Whirled them aloft through the air, at once from

a hundred house-tops Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame


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-Pré !” Loud on a sudder the cocks began to crow in the

farm-yards, 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 sea-shore 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, oblivious

slumber; 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 saddest

compassion. Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the


Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed on the

faces around her, And like the day of doom it seemed to her waver

ing 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

church-yard." Such were the words of the priest. And there in

haste by the sea-side, Having the glare of the burning village for funeral

torches, But without bell or book, they buried the farmer

of Grand-Pré. And as the voice of the priest repeated the service

of sorrow, Lol 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 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 harbour, Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and

the village in ruins.

of the ocean,



MANY a weary year had passed since the burning

of Grand-Pré, When on the falling tide the freighted vessels

departed, Bearing a nation, with all its household gods, into

exile, Exile without an end, and without an example in

story. Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians

landed; 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 South

ern 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


despairing, heart-broken, 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 church-yards. Long among them was seen a maiden who waited

and wandered, lowly and meek in spirit, and patiently suffering

all things.

« PreviousContinue »