Page images

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

for ever 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. Nought but tradition remains of the beautiful

village of Grand-Pré.

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




N the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin

of Minas, Distant, secluded, still, the little village of

Grand-Pré 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 labour incessant, Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons

the floodgates Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will

o'er the meadows. West and south there were fields of flax, and

orchards and cornfields Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain, and

away to the northward Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the

the mountains

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


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 affec

tionate welcome. Then came the labourers 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

voice 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, direct

ing 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 seventeen

summers. 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 !

« PreviousContinue »