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THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
This is the forest primeval; but where are the hearts that beneath it
Leaped like the roe, when he hears in the woodland the voice of the huntsman ?
Where is the thatch-roofed village, the home of Acadian
Men whose lives glided on like rivers that water the woodlands, 10 Darkened by shadows of earth, but reflecting an image of heaven? Waste are those pleasant farms, and the farmers forever 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
Naught but tradition remains of the beautiful village of GrandPré.
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 happy.
PART THE FIRST
20 IN 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
Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks without number. Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised with labor incessant,
25 Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons the flood-gates Opened and welcomed the sea to wander at will o'er the meadows. West and south there were fields of flax, and orchards and
Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and away to the northward
Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft on the mountains 30 Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station
There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village. Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of hemlock, Such as the peasants of Normandy built in the reign of the
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 caps and in kirtles 40 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
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 affectionate welcome. Then came the laborers home from the field, and serenely the sun
Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon from the belfry
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,
Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers;
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
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
Wearing her Norman cap and her kirtle of blue, and the ear-rings 75
80 Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction 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. 85 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 the roadside, 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
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
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
Far o'er the gable projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase, Under the sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft. 100 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 farmer of Grand-
Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household. 105 Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal, Fixed his eyes upon her as the saint of his deepest devotion; Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her.
Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended,
And, as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps, 110 Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;
Or, at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village,
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 125 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 cartwheel
Lay like a fiery snake, coiled round in a circle of cinders.
She was a woman now, with the heart and hopes of a woman.
Warm by the forge within they watched the laboring bellows,
Seeking with eager eyes that wondrous stone, which the swallow Brings from the shore of the sea to restore the sight of its fledglings;
Lucky was he who found that stone in the nest of the swallow! Thus passed a few swift years, and they no longer were children. 140 He was a valiant youth, and his face, like the face of the morning, Gladdened the earth with its light, and ripened thought into