Page images

bench panting for breath, while he turned his eyes toward Monsieur De Barre on whose wisdom and judgment he put great reliance. He breathed hard, for he had not fully recovered from his exertion.

“Is that all?" asked Monsieur De Barre calmly. “No.” “What more is there?”

The old man was amazed at the coolness of Monsieur De Barre. He had known this man for more than twenty years, and in all that time had never known his cheek to flush with enthusiasm or his eye to kindle with excitement. While Jean was almost bursting with indignation, and their visitor was nearly speechless with excitement and dread, Pierre De Barre was as calm as if there were nothing alarming in the information. Monsieur Dupre did not answer him at first, for he was lost in wonder and amazement at the man's coolness, and Monsieur De Barre again spoke:

“What more have you to tell, neighbor?” " An order has been issued for all the male Acadians, old men and young men and lads of ten to assemble at Grand Pre on this very day.” Jean started with an angry exclamation; but the father was silent, and his placid features were as inexpressive of emotion as if they had been carved out of stone. Jean thought of Adrianne, the coming wedding, and, turning to his parent on whose judy. ment he so much relied he asked:

“ Father, can this be true?”
“Why doubt it?”
“ It seems impossible.”
“ You do not know the English as I do."
“What is the intent of this gathering?”
“My son, you can prepare to leave Acadia.”

The young man gnashed his teeth in despair and cried:

“ Would to heaven we had retained our arms and sold our lives in the defence of our homes. Let us die rather than yield.”

The stern, mild gaze of the father fell on the young man, and he said:

“Nay, nay, my son; be not foolish.”
“ What must we do?”
“Bow our neck to the yoke.”

Then the lover thought of his coming marriage and said:

“I will have that over before the gathering at Grand Pre."

He started from the house, passing through the gate and hastening down the road. His father's house stood in the suburbs of the town of Grand Pre, while over half a mile further was the home of the widow Blanc. The path which led to the cottage was through the sumach, in places fringed with golden-rods. At this delightful season of the year, the sumachs were crimson with bloom and berry, the golden-rod adding brightness and beauty to the scene. How often had he traversed that path with Adrianne at his side, while he breathed into her willing ears his tale of love. His soul was thrilled with hope and joy as only a lover's soul can be; but now a dread, like the cold hand of death, seemed to grip his heart, and threatened to deprive him of life.

“I will hasten to Adrianne, have the marriage over with at once, and then, come what may, she will be my own,” thought Jean.

Only just around that cluster of sumachs and he would be in sight of the cottage which he loved so well. A few steps more and he would be at the side of one dearer to him than life. Just as he reached the cluster of sumachs, there suddenly rose up in his path three English soldiers, with their hated red coats and hats, and presented three bristling bayonets at his breast, while one, who seemed leader cried:

“ Halt!”

Jean came to a stand-still, then, finding the three redcoats stubbornly barring his way, he sought to evade them and go around on the right; but again that stern harsh voice cried :

“Halt!" and the click of gun-cocks warned him that they were preparing to fire.

[graphic][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »