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At length the time came when they were to be married. In the autumn-in that time of rich foliage and glad weather, called by the Acadians the “Summer of All Saints," -the happy event was to take place. For this purpose the bridegroom's father came to the farmer's, followed by the notary, who is thus described :
“ Bent like a laboring oar, that toils in the surf of the ocean,
Bent, but not broken, by age was the form of the notary public;
Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken floss of the maize, hung
Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn bows
Sat astride on his nose, with a look of wisdom supernal.
Father of twenty children was he, and more than hundred
Children's children rode on his knee, and his great watch tick.
Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive,
Suffering much in the old French fort as the friend of the English.
Now, though warier grown, without all guile or suspicion,
Ripe in wisdom was he, but patient, and simple, and childlike.
He was beloved by all, and most of all by the children ;
For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest,
And of the Goblin that came in the night to water the horses,
And of the white Létiche, the ghost of a child unchristened
Died, and was doomed to hauot unseen the chambers of children;
And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable,
And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell,
And of the marvellous powers of four-leaved clover and horse-shoes,
With wbatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village.”
Everything seemed fair : the lovers were happy in their hopes—the morning was bright-but, alas ! it was soon overcast. In the midst of the preparations for the marriage, the English soldiery arrived, and having assembled the principal colonists in the church, made prisoners of them there. The shock was sudden and severe.
“ As, when the air is serene in the sultry solstice of summer,
Suddenly gathers a storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones
Beats down the farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows,
Hiding the sun, and strewing the ground with thatch from the house-roofs,
Bellowing fly the herds, and seek to break their inclosures ;
So on the hearts of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose
Louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger,
And, by one impulse moved, they madly rushed to the door-way:
Vain was the bope of escape ; and cries and fierce imprecations
Rang through the house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
Rose, with his arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith,
As, on a stormy sea, a spar is tossed by ihe billows.
Flushed was his face and distorted with passion ; and wildly he shouted,
“ Down with the tyrants of England ! we never have sworn them allegiance !
Death to these foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our harvests !"
More he fain would have said, but the merciless hand of a scldier
Smote him upon the mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
“ In the midst of the strife and tumult of angry contention,
Lo! the door of the chancel opened, and Father Felician
Entered, with serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar.
Raising his reverend hand, with a gesture be awed into silence
All that clamorous throng; and thus he spake to his people ;
Deep were his iones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
Spake he, as, after the tocsin's alarum, distinctly the clock strikes.
• What is this that ye do, my children? what madness has seized you ?
Forty years of my life have I abored among you, and taught you,
Not in word alone, but in deed, to love one another!
Is this the fruit of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations ?
Have you so soon forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness ?
This is the house of the Prince of Peace, aud would you profane it
Thus with violent deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred ?
Lo! where the crucified Christ from his cross is gazing upon you)!
See ! in those sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion !
Hark! how those lips still repeat the prayer, Father, forgive them!'
Let us repeat that prayer in the hour when ihe wicked assail 118,
Let us repeat it now, and say, O Father forgive them !” »
Few were his words of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people
Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded that passionate ouibreak;
And they repeated his prayer, and said, “O Father, forgive them!'
“ Then came the evening service. The lapers gleamed from the altar.
Fervent and deep was the voice of the priest, and the people responded,
Not with their lips alone, but their hearts; and the Ave Maria
Sang they, and fell on their knees, and their souls, with devotion translated,
Rose on ibe ardor of prayer, like Elijah ascending to heaven.
“ Meanwhile had spread in the village the tidings of ill, and on all sides
Wandered, wailing, from house to house the women and children.
Long at her father's door Evangeline stood, with her right hand
Shielding her eyes from the level rays of the sun, that, descending,
Lighted the village street with mysterious splendor, and roofed each
Peasant's cottage with golden thatch, and emblazoned its windows.
Lo! within had been spread the snow-white cloth on the table;
There stood the wheaten loaf, and the honey fragrant with wild flowers;
There stood the tankard of ale, and the cheese fresh brought from the dairy;
And at the head of the board the great arin-chair of the farmer,
Thus did Evangeline wait at her father's door, as the sunset
Threw the long shadows of trees o’er the broad ambrosial meadows.
Ah! on her spirit within a deeper shadow had fallen,
And from the fields of her soul a fragrance celestial ascended, -
Charity, meekness, love, and hope, and forgiveness and patience !
Then, all-forgetful of self, she wandered into the village,
Cheering with looks and words the disconsolate hearts of the women,
As o'er the darkening fields with lingering steps they departed,
Urged by their household cares, and the weary feet of their children.
Down sank the great red sun, and in golden, glimmering vapors
Veiled the light of his face, like the prophet descending from Sinai.
Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus sounded.
“ Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church Evangeline lingered.
All was silent withiin ; and in vain ai the door and the windows
Stood she, and listened and looked, until, overcome by emotion,
Gabriel !' cried she, aloud, with tremulous voice; but no answer
Came from the graves of the dead, nor the gloomier grave of the living.
Slowly at length she returned to the tenantless house of her father.
Smouidered the fire on the hearth, on the board stood the supper untasted,
Empty and drear was each room, and haunted with phantoms of terror.
Sadly echoed her step on the stair and the floor of her chamber.
In the dead of the night she heard the whispering rain fall
Loud on the witbered leaves of the sycamore tree by the window.
Keenly the lightning flashed ; and the voice of the neighboring thunder
Told her that God was in heaven, and governed the world be created !
Then she remembered the tale she had heard of the justice of heaven;
Soothed was her troubled soul, and she peacefully slumbered till morning.”- pp. 41-48. In five days, the crucl orders of the government were carried into execution. Gabriel was torn from Evangeline, and Evangeline's father, overcome with grief, died, just as he was on the point of embarkation."
Evangeline was borne far away, with the rest of the emigrants. With a widowed heart she went wandering in search of her lost Gabriel. The old blacksmith was found, hat his son, worn with feverish anxiety, had left him, to hunt with the Indians for furs. The old blacksmith's new house, and his meeting with Evangeline, is thus described :
“ Near to the bank of the river, o'ershadowed by oaks, from whose branches
Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe fiaunted,
Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide,
Stood, secluded and still, the house the herdsman. A garden
Girded round about with a bell of luxuriant blossoms,
Filling the air with fragrance. The house itself was of timbers
Hewn from the cypress-tree, and carefully fitted together.
Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported,
Rose-wreathed, vine encircled, a broad and spacious veranda,
Haunt of the humining bird and the bee, extended around it.
At each end of the house, amid the flowers of the garden,
Stationed ihe dove.cots were, as love's perpetual symbol,
Scenes of endless wooing, and endless conientions of rivals.'
Silence reigned o'er the place. The line of shadow and sunshine
Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow,
And from its chimney-top, ascending and slowly expanding
Into the evening air, a thin blue column of smoke rose.
In the rear of the house, froin the garden gate, ran a pathway
Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie,
Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending.
Full in his track of light, like ships with shadowy canvas
Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics,
Stood a cluster of collon-trees, with cordage of grape vines.
“ Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie,
Mounted upon his horse, with Spanish saddle and stirrups,
Sat a herdsinan, arrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin.
Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero
Gazed on the peaceful scene, with the lordly look of its master.
Round about him were numberless herds of kine, that were grazing
Quietly in the meadows, and breathing the vapory freshness
That uprose from the river, and spread itself over ihe landscape.
Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his side, and expanding
Fully his broad, deep chest, he blew a blast, that resounded
Wildly and sweet and far, through ibe still damp air of the evening.
Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle
Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean.
Silent a moment they grazed, then bellowing rushed o'er the prairie,
And the whole mass became a cloud, a shade in the distance.
Then, as the herdeman turned to the house, through the gate of the garden
Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him.
Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazement, and forward
Rushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder;
When they beheld his face, they recognized Basil the blacksmith.
Hearty his welcome was, as he led his guests to the garden.
There in an arbor of roses with endless question and answer
Gave they vent to their hearts, and renewed their friendly embraces,
Laughing and weeping by turns, or sitting silent and thoughtful.
Thoughtful, for Gabriel came not; and now dark doubts and misgivings
Stole o'er the maiden's heart; and Basil, somewhat embarrassed,
Broke the silence and said,-“ If you came by the Atchafalaya,
How have you nowhere encountered my Gabriel's boat on the bayous ?
Ovr Evangeline's face at the words of Basil a shade passed.
Tears came into her eyes, and she said, with a tremulous accent,-
“Gone? is Gabriel gone ?" and, concealing her face on his shoulder,
All her o'erburdened heart gave way, and she wept and lamented.
Then the good Basil said,--and his voice grew blithe as he said it,-
Be of good cheer, my child; it is only to-day he departed.
Foolish boy! he has left me alone with my herds and my horses.
Moody and restless grown, and tried and troubled, his spirit
Could no longer endure the calm of this quiet existence.
Thinking ever of thee, uncertain and sorrowful -ver,
Ever silent, or speaking only of thee and his troubles,
He at length had become so tedious to men and to maidens,
Tedious even to me, that at lengih I belhought me, and sent him
Unto the town of Adayes to tra le for mules with the Spaniards.
Thence he will follow the Indian trails to the Ozark Mountains
Hunting for furs in the forests, on rivers trapping the beaver.
Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow the fugitive lover;
He is not far on his way, and the Fates and the streams are against him.
Up and away 10-morrow, and through the red dew of the morning.
We will follow him fast, and bring him back to his prison.”—pp. 81–86.
Accordingly, the search was again begun. Gabriel was in a land thus truthfully described
« Far in the West there lies a desert land, where the mountains
Lift, through perpetual snows, their lofty and luminous summits.
Down from their desolate, deep ravines, where the gorge, like a gateway,
Opens a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrant's wagon,
Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway and Owhybee.
Eastward, with devious course, among the Wind-river Mountains,
Through the Sweet-water Valley precipitate leaps the Nebraska;
And to the south, from Fontaine-qui-bout and the Spanish sierras,
Fretted with sands and rocks, and swept by the wind of the desert,
Numberless torrents, with ceaseless sound, descend to the ocean,
Like the great chords of a harp, in loud and solemn vibrations.
Spreading between these streams are the wondrous, beautiful prairies,
Billowy bays of grass ever rolling in shadow and sunshine,
Bright with luxuriant clusters of roses and purple amorphas.
Over them wander the buffalo herds, and the elk and the roebuck
Over them wander the wolves, and the herds of riderless horses;
Fires that blast and blight, and winds that are weary with travel;
Over them wander the scattered tribes of Ishmael's children,
Staining the desert with blood, and above their terrible war-trails
Circles and sails aloft, on pinions majestic, the vulture,
Like the implacable soul of a chieftain slaughtered in battle,
By invisible stairs ascending and scaling the heavens.
Here and there rise smukes from the camps of these savage marauders ;
Here and there rise groves from the margins of swift-running rivers ;
And the grim, taciturn bear, the anchorite monk of the desert,
Climbs down their dark ravines to dig for roots by the brook side,
And over all is the sky, the clear and crystalline heaven,
Like the protecting hand of God inverted above them."--pp. 96—99
Basil returned home, but Evangeline
Here they followed him, but without success. stayed, trusting yet, Gabriel might return.
“Slowly, slowly, slowly the days succeeded each other,
Days and weeks and months; and the fields of maize that were springing
Green from the ground when a stranger she came, now waving above her,
Lifted their slender shafts, with leaves interlacing, and forming
Cloisters for mendicant crows, and granaries pillaged by squirrels.
Then in the golden weather the maize was husked, and the maidens
Blushed each blood-red ear, for that betokened a lover,
But at the crooked laughed, and called it a thief in the corn-field.
Even the blood-red ear to Evangeline brought not her lover.
“ Patience !" the priest would say ; “ have faith, and thy prayer will be answered
Look at this delicate flower that lifts its head from the meadow,
See how its leaves all point to the north, as true as the magnet ;
It is the compass-flower, that the finger of God has suspended
Here on its fragile stalk, to direct the traveller's journey
Over the sea-like, pathless, limitless waste of the desert.
Such in the soul of man is faith. The blossoms of passion,
Gay and luxuriant flowers, are brighter and fuller of fragrance,
But they beguile us, and lead us astray, and their odor is deadly.
Only this humble plant can guide us here, and hereafter
Crown us with asphodel flowers, that are wet with the dews of nepenthe.”
“So came the autumn, and passed, and the winter,-yet Gabriel came not;
Blossomed the opening spring, and the notes of the robin and blue-bird
Sounded sweet upon wold and in wood, yet Gabriel came not.
But on the breath of the summer winds a rumor was wafted
Sweeter than song of bird, or hue or odor of blossom.
Far to the north and east, it said, in the Michigan forests,
Gabriel had his lodge by the banks of the Saginaw river.
And, with returning guides that sought the lakes of St. Lawrence,
Saying a sad farewell, Evangeline went from the Mission,
When over weary ways, by long and perilous marches,
She had attained at length the depths of the Michigan forests,
Found she the hunter's lodge deserted and fallen to ruin !
“ Thus did the long sad years glide on, and in seasons and places
Divers and distant far was seen the wandering maiden ;-
Now in the tents of grace of the meek Moravian Missions,
Now in the noisy camps and the battlefields of the army,
Now in the secluded hamlets, in towns and populous cities.
Like a phantom she came, and passed away un remembered.
Fair was she and young, when in hope began the long journey ;
Faded was she and old, when in disappointinent it ended.
Each succeeding year stole something away from her beauty,
Leaving behind it, broader and deeper, the gloom and the shadow.
Then there appeared and spread faint streaks of gray o'er her forehead,
Dawn of another life, thai broke o'er her earthly horizon,
As in the eastern sky the first faint streaks of the morning.”—pp. 107–111.
At length Evangeline found her way to the city of the apostolic Penn. There, as a Sister of Mercy, her life became rich in deeds of charity and love. During a severe pestilence with which the city was visited, her exertions were continuous; and in one of her visits to the dying, she meets her Gabriel. The conclusion of the story is beautifully and pathetically told :
“ Thus, on a Sabbath morn, through the streets, deserted and silent,
Wending her quiet way, she entered the door of the almshouse.
Sweet on the summer air was the odor of flowers in the garden;
And she paused on her way to gather the fairest among them,
That the dying once more mighi rejoice in their fragrance and beauty.
Then, as she mounted the stairs to the corridors, cooled by the east wind,
Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes from the belíry of Christ Church,
And, intermingled with these, across the meadows were wafted
Sounds of psalms, that were sung by the Swedes in their church at Wicaco.
Soft as descending wings fell the calm of the hour on her spirit;
Something within her said, "Al length thy trials are ended ;”
And, with lighi in her looks, she entered the chambers of sickness.
Noiselessly moved about the assiduous, carefui attendants,
Moistening the feverish lip, and the aching brow, and in silence
Closing the sightless eyes of the dead, and concealing their faces,
Where on their pallets they lay, like drifts of snow by the road-side.
Many a languid head, upraised as Evangeline entered,
Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while she passed, for her presence
Fell on their hearts like a ray of the sun on the walls of a prison.
And as she looked around, she saw how death, the consoler,
Laying his hand upon many a heart, had healed it for ever.
Many familiar forms had disappeared in the night-time;
Vacant their places were, or filled already by strangers.
Suddenly, as if arrested by fear or a feeling of wonder,
Still she stood, with her colorless lips apart, while a shudder
Ran through her frame, and, forgotten, the flowrets dropped from her fingers,
And from her eyes and cheeks the light and bloom of the morning.
Then there escaped from her lips a cry of such terrible anguish,
That the dying heard it, and started up from their pillows.
On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an old man.
Long, and thin, and grey were the locks that shaded his temples;
But, as he lay in the morning light, his face for a moment
Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier manhood ;
So are wont to be changed the faces of those who are dying.
Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the fever,
As if life, like the Hebrew, with blood had besprinkled its portals,
That the Angel of Death might see the sign, and pass over.
Motionless, senseless, dying, he lay, and his spirit exhausted
Seemed to be sinking down through infinite depths in the darkness,
Darkness of slumber and death, for ever sinking and sinking
Then through those realms of shade, in multiplied reverberations,
Heard he that cry of pain, and through the hush that succeeded
Whispered a gentle voice, in accents iender and saint-like,