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- Fleurs de lys and other poems - 3/16 -


Then we awoke, and all so wondrous seemed, His words so strange at best, We almost fancied we had slept and dreamed That he had been our guest.

We turned unto our merriment anew, With some kind thoughts for him; Yet as the hour of midnight nearer drew, And waxed the hearth fire dim, A silence fell upon us, and in fear We stopped and held our breath, As though more clearly through the gloom to hear The promised knell of death.

There had been something in his face that night That thrilled our hearts with fear, An undefinable, mysterious light, Which told us Heaven was near. He had a deeper lustre in his eyes, His smile had seemed more bright, Till, looking in his face, all Paradise Seemed opened to our sight.

Soon chimed the clock. And scarcely had it ceased, Than tolled the chapel bell, As though for some long-suffering soul released, Its slow funereal knell, And on its ebon wings the rising gale Swept landward from the sea, And mingled with the chapel bell's long wail Its own sad symphony.

We found him lying lifeless, as he said, Before the altar, prone, Nor laid our sinful hands upon the dead, But left him there alone, And launched our frail canoe upon the tide, Not marvelling to behold Before our prow the billows fall aside, Like the Red Sea of old.

On every hand the screaming waters flung Their great, white arms on high, And over all the thundering storm-clouds hung And battled in the sky. Yet fearless we sailed on, until when day Broke, panting, through the night, The fertile Isle aux Coudres before us lay, Its beach with breakers white.

And there, upon that tempest-beaten strand, Waiting, Père Compain stood And beckoned to us with uplifted hand Across the raging flood. No need to tell our errand, for that night Père Brosse had sought his cell, And told him all, then faded from his sight, Breathing a kind farewell.

L'ORDRE DE BON TEMPS.

When Champlain with his faithful band Came o'er the stormy wave To dwell within this lonely land, Their hearts were blithe as brave; And Winter, by their mirth beguiled, Forgot his sterner mood, As by the prattling of a child A churl may be subdued.

Among the company there came A dozen youths of rank, Who in their eager search for fame From no adventure shrank; But, with the lightness of their race That hardship laughs to scorn, Pursued the pleasures of the chase 'Till night from early morn.

And soon their leader, full of mirth. And politic withal-- Well knowing that no spot on earth Could hold them long in thrall, Unless into their company, Its duties and its sport, Were introduced the pageantry And etiquette of court--

Enrolled them in a titled band, _L'Ordre de Bon Temps_ named, First knighthood's grade for which this land Of Canada is famed. Each one in turn Grand Master was-- At close of day released-- His duty to maintain the laws, And furnish forth a feast.

Filled with a pardonable pride In nobles wont to dwell, Each with his predecessor vied In bounty to excel, And thus it was the festive board With beaver, otter, deer, And fish and fowl was richly stored, Throughout the changing year.

At mid-day--for our sires of old Dined when the sun was high-- To where the cloth was spread, behold These merry youths draw nigh, Each bearing on a massy tray Some dainty for the feast, While the Grand Master leads the way, Festivity's high priest!

Then seated round the banquet board, Afar from friends and home, They drank from goblets freely poured To happier days to come. And once again, in story, shone The sun, that erst in France Was wont, in days long past and gone, Amid the vines to dance.

Still later, when the sun had set, And round the fire they drew To sing, or tell a tale ere yet Too old the evening grew, He who had ruled them for the day His sceptre did resign, And drink to his successor's sway A brimming cup of wine.

CHAMPLAIN.

Would that with the bold Champlain, And his comrades staunch and true, I had crossed the stormy main, Golden visions to pursue: And had shared Their lot, and dared Fortune with that hardy crew!

Thus I murmur, as I close Parkman, day being long since sped, Yet in vain I seek repose, For the stirring words I read In the sage's Learned pages, Still are ringing in my head.

All the perils of the sea. All the dangers of the land, Of the waves that hungrily Leapt round Champlain's stalwart band, Of the foes, That round him rose, Numerous as the ocean sand.

Every trial he underwent, Winter's famine and disease, Weeks in dreary journey spent, Battle, treason, capture--these Sweep my mind, As sweeps the wind, Sighing, through the forest trees.

Wandering through the tangled brakes, Where the treacherous Indians hide, Launching upon crystal lakes, Stemming Uttawa's dark tide; Still my sight, Pursues his flight Through the desert, far and wide.

With the sunlight in his face, I behold him as he plants At Cape Diamond's rugged base, In the glorious name of France, Yon fair town That still looks down On the river's broad expanse.

I behold him as he hurls Proud defiance at the foe, And the fleur-de-lys unfurls High o'er Admiral Kirkt below, Till he slips, With all his ships, Down the river, sad and slow.

And I see him lying dead, On that dreary Christmas day,


Fleurs de lys and other poems - 3/16

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