Imágenes de páginas

Sank they, and sobs of contrition succeeded that

passionate outbreak; And they repeated his prayer, and said, “O Father,

forgive them!”

Then came the evening service.

The tapers 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 the ardour 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 wo

men 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 splen

dour, and roofed each Peasant's cottage with golden thatch, and em

blazoned its windows. Lo! within had been spread the snow-white cloth

on the table; There stood the wheaten loaf, and the honey fra

grant with wild flowers; There stood the tankard of ale, and the cheese fresh

brought from the dairy ; At the head of the board the great arm-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.

[ocr errors]

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, glim

mering vapours Veiled the light of his face, like the Prophet de

scending from Sinai. Sweetly over the village the bell of the Angelus


Meanwhile, amid the gloom, by the church

Evangeline lingered. All was silent within ; and in vain at the door and

the windows Stood she, and listened and looked, until, overcome

by emotion, “ Gabriell” 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. Smouldered 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 withered leaves of the sycamore-tree

by the window. / Keenly the lightning flashed; and the voice of

the neighbouring thunder Told her that God was in heaven, and governed

the world he 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.

[ocr errors]

Four times the sun had risen and set; and now on

the fifth day Cheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of

the farmhouse. Soon o'er the yellow fields, in silent and mournful

procession, Came from the neighbouring hamlets and farms

the Acadian women, Driving in ponderous wains their household goods

to the sea-shore, Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on

their dwellings, Ere they were shut from sight by the winding

road and the woodland. Close at their sides their children ran, and urged

on the oxen, While in their little hands they clasped some frag:

ments of playthings. Thus to the Gaspereau's mouth they hurried;

and there on the sea-beach Piled in confusion lay the household goods of the

peasants. All day long between the shore and the ships did

the boats ply; All day long the wains came labouring down from

the village.

Late in the afternoon, when the sun was near to

his setting, Echoing 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, Aca

dian 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 to

gether their voices, Sang with tremulous lips a chaunt of the Catholic

Missions :-+ “ Sacred heart of the Saviour! O inexhaustible

fountain! Fill our hearts this day with strength and submis

sion 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 afflictionCalmly and sadly 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 mis

chances 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 Ileavier seemed with the weight of the weary

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 confu

sion 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

« AnteriorContinuar »