Imágenes de páginas


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 north-east 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

savannahs— 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, de

spairing, heartbroken, 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 ex

tended, 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, in

perfect, 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

endeavour; Sometimes in churchyards strayed, and gazed on

the crosses and tombstones, Sat by some nameless grave, and thought that per

haps in its bosom He was already at rest, and she longed to slumber

beside him. Sometimes a rumour, a hearsay, an inarticulate

whisper, Came with its airy band 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 for

gotten. “Gabriel Lajeunnesse !” said they ; “O yes! we

have seen him. He was with Basil the blacksınith, and both have

gone to the prairies; Coureurs-des-Bois are they, and famous hunters

and trappers.” “ Gabriel Lajeunnesse !" said others; “O yes!

we have seen him. He is a Voyageur in the lowlands of Louisiana." They would they say—“Dear child! why dream

and wait for him longer? Are there not other youths as fair as Gabriel ?


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 Saint Cathe

rine's tresses. Then would Evangeline answer, serenely, but

sadly—“I cannot ! Whither my heart has gone, there follows my hand,

and not elsewhere. For when the heart goes before, like a lamp, and

illumines the pathway, Many things are made clear, that else lie hidden in

darkness." And thereupon the priest, her friend and father

confessor, Said, with a smile“ daughter! thy God thus

speaketh within thee! Talk not of wasted affection- affection never was

wasted ; If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters,

returning Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them

full of refreshment; That which the fountain sends forth returns again

to the fountain. Patience; accomplish thy labour ; accomplish thy

work of affection! Sorrow and silence are strong, and patient endur

ance is godlike. Therefore accomplish thy labour of love, till the

heart is made godlike, Purified, strengthened, perfected, and rendered

more worthy of heaven!" Cheered by the good man's words, Evangeline

laboured and waited. Still in her heart she heard the funeral dirge of the


But with its sound there was mingled a voice that

whispered, “ Despair not!" Thus did that poor soul wander in want and cheer

less discomfort, Bleeding, barefooted, over the shards and thorns of

existence. Let me essay, O Muse! to follow the wanderer's

footsteps; Not through each devious path, each changeful

year of existence; But as a traveller foilows a streamlet's course

through the valley: Far from its margin at times, and seeing the gleam

of its water Here and there, in some open space, and at inter

vals only; Then drawing nearer its banks, through sylvan

glooms that conceal it, Though he behold it not, he can hear its continuous

murmur; Happy, at length, if he find the spot where it reaches

an outlet.


It was the month of May. Far down the Beauti

ful River, Past the Ohio shore, and past the mouth of the

Wabash, Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mig

sissippi, Floated a cumbrous boat, that was rowed by Aca

dian boatmen. It was a band of exiles; a raft, as it were, from

the shipwrecked Nation, scattered along the coast, now floating to

gether, Bound by the bonds of a common belief and a

common misfortune;

river ;

Men and women and children, wlio, guided by hope

or by hearsay, Sought for their kith and their kin among the few

acred farmers On the Acadian coast, and the prairies of fair

Opelousas. With them Evangeline went, and her guide, the

Father Felician. Onward, o'er sunken sands, through a wilderness

sombre with forests, Day after day they glided adown the turbulent Night after night, by their blazing fires, encamped

on its borders. Now through rushing chutes, among green islands,

where plumelike Cotton-trees nodded their shadowy crests, they

swept with the current, Then emerged into broad lagoons, where silvery

sandbars Lay in the stream, and along the whimpling waves

of their margin, Shining with snow-white plumes, large flocks of

pelicans waded. Level the landscape grew, and along the shores oí

the river, Shaded by china-trees, in the midst of luxuriant

gardens, Stood the houses of planters, with negro-cabins

and dovecots. They were approaching the region where reigns

perpetual summer, Where, through the golden coast, and groves of

orange and citron, Sweeps with majestic curve the river away to the

eastward. They, too, swerved from their course; and, enter

ing the Bayou of Plaquemine, Soon were they lost in a maze of sluggish and de

vious waters,


« AnteriorContinuar »