Imágenes de páginas

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 waggons, Like to a gipsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle, All . 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 odour of milk from their udders; Lowing they waited, and long, at the well-known bars of the farmyard— 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. Wainly Evangeline strove with words and caresses to cheer him, Wainly offered him food; yet he moved not, he looked not, he spake not, But, with a vacant stare, ever gazed at the flickering firelight. “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 arose, 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 the flashes of flame intermingled.

These things beheld in dismay the crowd on 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 farmyards, 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 whir wind,

o 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 awoke 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 com


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 sea-side, 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 that tide the ships sailed out of the harbour, Leaving behind them the dead on the shore, and the village in ruins.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Many a weary year had passed since the burning of Grand Pré, When on the falling tide the freighted vessels departed, ho a nation, with all its household gods, into exile,

« AnteriorContinuar »