Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything

Bride.Ru

Books Menu

Home
Author Catalog
Title Catalog
Sectioned Catalog

 

- EVANGELINE - 4/8 -


Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the peasants. All day long between theshore and the ships did the boats ply; All day long the wains came laboring down from the village. Late in the afternoon, when the sun was near to his setting, Echoed far o'er the fields came the roll of drums from the churchyard. Thither the women and children thronged. On a sudden the church-doors Opened, and forth came the guard, and marching in gloomy procession Followed the long-imprisoned, but patient, Acadian farmers. Even as pilgrims, who journey afar from their homes and their country, Sing as they go, and in singing forget they are weary and wayworn, So with songs on their lips the Acadian peasants descended Down from the church to the shore, amid their wives and their daughters. Foremost the young men came; and, raising together their voices, Sang they with tremulous lips a chant of the Catholic Missions:-- "Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible fountain! Fill our hearts this day with strength and submission and patience!" Then the old men, as they marched, and the women that stood by the wayside Joined in the sacred psalm, and the birds in the sunshine above them Mingled their notes therewith, like voices of spirits departed.

Half-way down to the shore Evangeline waited in silence, Not overcome with grief, but strong in the hour of affliction,-- Calmly and sadly she waited, until the procession approached her, And she beheld the face of Gabriel pale with emotion. Tears then filled her eyes, and, eagerly running to meet him, Clasped she his hands, and laid her head on his shoulder and whispered,-- "Gabriel! be of good cheer! for if we love one another, Nothing, in truth, can harm us, whatever mischances may happen!" Smiling she spake these words; then suddenly paused, for her father Saw she slowly advancing. Alas! how changed was his aspect! Gone was the glow from his cheek, and the fire from his eye, and his footstep Heavier seemed with the weight of the heavy heart in his bosom. But with a smile and a sigh, she clasped his neck and embraced him, Speaking words of endearment where words of comfort availed not. Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth moved on that mournful procession.

There disorder prevailed, and the tumult and stir of embarking. Busily plied the freighted boats; and in the confusion Wives were torn from their husbands, and mothers, too late, saw their children Left on the land, extending their arms, with wildest entreaties. So unto separate ships were Basil and Gabriel carried, While in despair on the shore Evangeline stood with her father. Half the task was not done when the sun went down, and the twilight Deepened and darkened around; and in haste the refluent ocean Fled away from the shore, and left the line of the sand-beach Covered with waifs of the tide, with kelp and the slippery sea-weed. Farther back in the midst of the household goods and the wagons, Like to a gypsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle, All escape cut off by the sea, and the sentinels near them, Lay encamped for the night the houseless Acadian farmers. Back to its nethermost caves retreated the bellowing ocean, Dragging adown the beach the rattling pebbles, and leaving Inland and far up the shore the stranded boats of the sailors. Then, as the night descended, the herds returned from their pastures; Sweet was the moist still air with the odor of milk from their udders; Lowing they waited, and long, at the well-known bars of the farm-yard,-- Waited and looked in vain for the voice and the hand of the milkmaid. Silence reigned in the streets; from the church no Angelus sounded, Rose no smoke from the roofs, and gleamed no lights from the windows.

But on the shores meanwhile the evening fires had been kindled, Built of the drift-wood thrown on the sands from wrecks in the tempest. Round them shapes of gloom and sorrowful faces were gathered, Voices of women were heard, and of men, and the crying of children. Onward from fire to fire, as from hearth to hearth in his parish, Wandered the faithful priest, consoling and blessing and cheering, Like unto shipwrecked Paul on Melita's desolate sea-shore. Thus he approached the place where Evangeline sat with her father, And in the flickering light beheld the face of the old man, Haggard and hollow and wan, and without either thought or emotion, E'en as the face of a clock from which the hands have been taken. Vainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him, Vainly offered him food; yet he moved not, he looked not, he spake not, But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at the flickering fire-light. "Benedicite!" murmured the priest; in tones of compassion. More he fain would have said, but his heart was full, and his accents Faltered and paused on his lips, as the feet of a child on a threshold, Hushed by the scene he beholds, and the awful presence of sorrow. Silently, therefore, he laid his hand on the head of the maiden, Raising his eyes full of tears to the silent stars that above them Moved on their way, unperturbed by the wrongs and sorrows of mortals. Then sat he down at her side, and they wept together in silence.

Suddenly rose from the south a light, as in autumn the blood-red Moon climbs the crystal walls of heaven, and o'er the horizon Titan-like stretches its hundred hands upon mountain and meadow, Seizing the rocks and the rivers, and piling huge shadows together. Broader and ever broader it gleamed on the roofs of the village, Gleamed on the sky and the sea, and the ships that lay in the roadstead. Columns of shining smoke uprose, and flashes of flame were Thrust through their folds and withdrawn, like the quivering hands of a martyr. Then as the wind seized the gleeds and the burning thatch, and, uplifting, Whirled them aloft through the air, at once from a hundred house-tops Started the sheeted smoke with flashes of flame intermingled.

These things beheld in dismay the crowd on the shore and on shipboard. Speechless at first they stood, then cried aloud in their anguish, "We shall behold no more our homes in the village of Grand-Pré!" Loud on a sudden the cocks began to crow in the farm-yards, Thinking the day had dawned; and anon the lowing of cattle Came on the evening breeze, by the barking of dogs interrupted. Then rose a sound of dread, such as startles the sleeping encampments Far in the western prairies or forests that skirt the Nebraska, When the wild horses affrighted sweep by with the speed of the whirlwind, Or the loud bellowing herds of buffaloes rush to the river. Such was the sound that arose on the night, as the herds and the horses Broke through their folds and fences, and madly rushed o'er the meadows.

Overwhelmed with the sight, yet speechless, the priest and the maiden Gazed on the scene of terror that reddened and widened before them; And as they turned at length to speak to their silent companion, Lo! from his seat he had fallen, and stretched abroad on the sea-shore Motionless lay his form, from which the soul had departed. Slowly the priest uplifted the lifeless head, and the maiden Knelt at her father's side, and wailed aloud in her terror. Then in a swoon she sank, and lay with her head on his bosom. Through the long night she lay in deep, oblivious slumber; And when she woke from the trance, she beheld a multitude near her. Faces of friends she beheld, that were mournfully gazing upon her, Pallid, with tearful eyes, and looks of saddest compassion. Still the blaze of the burning village illumined the landscape, Reddened the sky overhead, and gleamed on the faces around her, And like the day of doom it seemed to her wavering senses. Then a familiar voice she heard, as it said to the people,-- "Let us bury him here by the sea. When a happier season Brings us again to our homes from the unknown land of our exile, Then shall his sacred dust be piously laid in the churchyard." Such were the words of the priest. And there in haste by the seaside, Having the glare of the burning village for funeral torches, But without bell or book, they buried the farmer of Grand-Pré. And as the voice of the priest repeated the service of sorrow, Lo! with a mournful sound, like the voice of a vast congregation, Solemnly answered the sea, and mingled its roar with the dirges. 'Twas the returning tide, that afar from the waste of the ocean, With the first dawn of the day, came heaving and hurrying landward. Then recommenced once more the stir and noise of embarking; And with the ebb of the tide the ships sailed out of the harbor, Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and the village in ruins.

PART THE SECOND.

I.

MANY a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand-Pré, When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed, Bearing a nation, with all its household gods, into exile, Exile without an end, and without an example in story. Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians landed; Scattered were they, like flakes of snow, when the wind from the northeast Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland. Friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered from city to city, From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas,-- From the bleak shores of the sea to the lands where the Father of Waters Seizes the hills in his hands, and drags them down to the ocean, Deep in their sands to bury the scattered bones of the mammoth. Friends they sought and homes; and many, despairing, heart-broken, Asked of the earth but a grave, and no longer a friend nor a fireside. Written their history stands on tablets of stone in the churchyards. Long among them was seen a maiden who waited and wandered, Lowly and meek in spirit, and patiently suffering all things. Fair was she and young; but, alas! before her extended, Dreary and vast and silent, the desert of life, with its pathway Marked by the graves of those who had sorrowed and suffered before her, Passions long extinguished, and hopes long dead and abandoned, As the emigrant's way o'er the Western desert is marked by Camp-fires long consumed, and bones that bleach in the sunshine. Something there was in her life incomplete, imperfect, unfinished; As if a morning of June, with all its music and sunshine, Suddenly paused in the sky, and, fading, slowly descended Into the east again, from whence it late had arisen. Sometimes she lingered in towns, till, urged by the fever within her, Urged by a restless longing, the hunger and thirst of the spirit, She would commence again her endless search and endeavor; Sometimes in churchyards strayed, and gazed on the crosses and tombstones, Sat by some nameless grave, and thought that perhaps in its bosom He was already at rest, and she longed to slumber beside him. Sometimes a rumor, a hearsay, an inarticulate whisper, Came with its airy hand to point and beckon her forward. Sometimes she spake with those who had seen her beloved and known him, But it was long ago, in some far-off place or forgotten. "Gabriel Lajeunesse!" they said; "O yes! we have seen him. He was with Basil the blacksmith, and both have gone to the prairies; Coureurs-des-Bois are they, and famous hunters and trappers," "Gabriel Lajeunesse!" said others; "O yes! we have seen him. He is a Voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana." Then would they say: "Dear child! why dream and wait for him longer? Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel? others Who have hearts as tender and true, and spirits as loyal? Here is Baptiste Leblanc, the notary's son, who has loved thee Many a tedious year; come, give him thy hand and be happy! Thou art too fair to be left to braid St. Catherine's tresses." Then would Evangeline answer, serenely but sadly, "I cannot!


EVANGELINE - 4/8

Previous Page     Next Page

  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8 

Schulers Books Home



 Games Menu

Home
Balls
Battleship
Buzzy
Dice Poker
Memory
Mine
Peg
Poker
Tetris
Tic Tac Toe

Google
 
Web schulers.com
 

Schulers Books Online

books - games - software - wallpaper - everything