with rafters of oak, the house of the farmer
Stood on the side
of a hill commanding the sea; and a shady
Sycamore grew by
the door, with a woodbine wreathing around it.
Rudely carved was
the porch, with seats beneath; and a footpath
Led through an
orchard wide, and disappeared in the meadow.
sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse,
Such as the
traveller sees in regions remote by the roadside
Built o'er a box
for the poor, or the blessed image of Mary.
Farther down, on
the slope of the hill, was the well with its moss-grown
with iron, and near it a trough for the horses.
house from storms, on the north, were the barns and the
There stood the
broad-wheeled wains and the antique ploughs and the
There were the
folds for the sheep; and there, in his feathered
lordly turkey, and crowed the cock, with the selfsame
Voice that in ages
of old had startled the penitent Peter.
Bursting with hay
were the barns, themselves a village. In each one
Far o'er the gable
projected a roof of thatch; and a staircase,
sheltering eaves, led up to the odorous corn-loft.
There too the
dove-cot stood, with its meek and innocent inmates
Murmuring ever of
love; while above in the variant breezes
weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.......
...Now the season
had returned, when the nights grow colder and longer,
And the retreating
sun the sign of the Scorpion enters.
Birds of passage
sailed through the leaden air, from the ice-bound,
bays to the shores of tropical islands.
gathered in; and wild with the winds of September
Wrestled the trees
of the forest, as Jacob of old with the angel.
All the signs
foretold a winter long and inclement.
prophetic instinct of want, had hoarded their honey
Till the hives
overflowed; and the Indian hunters asserted
Cold would the
winter be, for thick was the fur of the foxes.
Such was the
advent of autumn. Then followed that beautiful
Called by the
pious Acadian peasants the Summer of All-Saints!
Filled was the air
with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape
Lay as if
new-created in all the freshness of childhood.
Peace seemed to
reign upon earth, and the restless heart of the ocean
Was for a moment
consoled. All sounds were in harmony blended.
Voices of children
at play, the crowing of cocks in the farmyard,
Whir of wings in
the drowsy air, and the cooing of pigeons,
All were subdued
and low as the murmurs of love, and the great sun
Looked with the
eye of love through the golden vapours around him;
While arrayed in
its robes of russet and scarlet and yellow,
Bright with the
sheen of the dew, each glittering tree of the forest
Flashed like the
plane-tree the Persian adorned with mantles and
.....Thus was the
evening passed. Anon the bell from the belfry
Rang out the hour
of nine, the village curfew, and straightway
Rose the guests
and departed; and silence reigned in the household.
Many a farewell
word and sweet good-night on the doorstep
Lingered long in
Evangeline's heart, and filled it with gladness.
were covered the embers that glowed on the hearthstone,
And on the oaken
stairs resounded the tread of the farmer.
Soon with a
soundless step the foot of Evangeline followed.
Up the staircase
moved a luminous space in the darkness,
Lighted less by
the lamp than the shining face of the maiden.
Silent she passed
the hall, and entered the door of her chamber.
chamber was, with its curtains of white, and its
Ample and high, on
whose spacious shelves were carefully folded
Linen and woollen
stuffs, by the hand of Evangeline woven.
This was the
precious dower she would bring to her husband in
Better than flocks
and herds, being proofs of her skill as a housewife.
extinguished her lamp, for the mellow and radiant
the windows, and lighted the room, till the heart of the
Swelled and obeyed
its power, like the tremulous tides of the ocean.
Ah! she was fair,
exceeding fair to behold, as she stood with
feet on the gleaming floor of her chamber!
Little she dreamed
that below, among the trees of the orchard,
Waited her lover
and watched for the gleam of her lamp and her shadow.
Yet were thoughts
of him, and at times a feeling of sadness
Passed o'er her
soul, as the sailing shade of clouds in the moonlight
Flitted across the
floor and darkened the room for a moment.
And, as she gazed
from the window, she saw serenely the moon pass
Forth from the
folds of a cloud, and one star follow her footsteps,
As out of
Abraham's tent young Ishmael wandered with Hagar!.....
rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pré.
in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas,
Where the ships,
with their wavering shadows, were riding at anchor.
Life had long been
astir in the village, and clamorous labour
Knocked with its
hundred hands at the golden gates of the morning.
Now from the
country around, from the farms and neighbouring hamlets,
Came in their
holiday dresses the blithe Acadian peasants.
Many a glad
good-morrow and jocund laugh from the young folk
Made the bright
air brighter, as up from the numerous meadows,
Where no path
could be seen but the track of wheels in the greensward,
Group after group
appeared, and joined, or passed on the highway.
Long ere noon, in
the village all sounds of labour were silenced.
Thronged were the
streets with people; and noisy groups at the house-doors
Sat in the
cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together.
Every house was an
inn, where all were welcomes and feasted;
For with this
simple people, who lived like brothers together,
All things were
held in common, and what one had was another's.
Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant:
stood among the guests of her father;
Bright was her
face with smiles, and words of welcome and gladness
Fell from her
beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open
sky, in the odorous air of the orchard,
Stript of its
golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade
of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;
Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
Not far withdrawn
from these, by the cider-press and the beehives,
fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and of
Shadow and light
from the leaves alternately played on his snow-white
Hair, as it waved
in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler
Glowed like a
living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.
Gaily the old man
sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle,
Bourgeois de Chatres, and Le Carillon de
And anon with his
wooden shoes beat time to the music.
whirled the wheels of the dizzying dances
orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;
Old folk and young
together, and children mingled among them.
Fairest of all the
maids was Evangeline, Benedict's daughter!
Noblest of all the
youths was Gabriel, son of the blacksmith!
So passed the
morning away. And lo! with a summons sonorous
Sounded the bell
from its tower, and over the meadows a drum beat.
Thronged ere long
was the church with men. Without, in the
Waited the women.
They stood by the graves, and hung on the
autumn-leaves and evergreens fresh from the forest.
Then came the
guard from the ships, and marching proudly among them
Entered the sacred
portal. With loud and dissonant clangour
Echoed the sound
of their brazen drums from ceiling and casement, -
Echoed a moment
only, and slowly the ponderous portal
Closed, and in
silence the crowd awaited the will of the soldiers.
Then uprose their
commander, and spake from the steps of the altar,
Holding aloft in
his hands, with its seals, the royal commission.
'You are convened
this day,' he said, 'by his Majesty's orders.
Clement and kind
has he been; but how you have answered his kindness,
Let your own
hearts reply! To my natural make and my temper
Painful the task
is I do, which to you I know must be grievous.
Yet must I bow and
obey, and deliver the will of our monarch'
Namely, that all
your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds
Forfeited be to
the crown; and that you yourselves from this province
Be transported to
other lands. God grant you may dwell there
Ever as faithful
subjects, a happy and peaceable people!
Prisoners now I
declare you; for such is his Majesty's pleasure!'
As, when the air
is serene in the sultry solstice of summer,
Suddenly gathers a
storm, and the deadly sling of the hailstones
Beats down the
farmer's corn in the field and shatters his windows,
Hiding the sun,
and strewing the ground with thatch from the
Bellowing fly the
herds, and seek to break their enclosures;
So on the hearts
of the people descended the words of the speaker.
Silent a moment
they stood in speechless wonder, and then rose
Louder and ever
louder a wail of sorrow and anger,
And, by one
impulse moved, they madly rushed to the doorway.
Vain was the hope
of escape; and cries and fierce imprecations
Rang through the
house of prayer; and high o'er the heads of the others
Rose, with his
arms uplifted, the figure of Basil the blacksmith,
As, on a stormy
sea, a spar is tossed by the billows.
Flushed was his
face and distorted with passion; and wildly he shouted,
'Down with the
tyrants of England! we never have sworn them allegiance!
Death to those
foreign soldiers, who seize on our homes and our
More he fain would
have said, but the merciless hand of a soldier
Smote him upon the
mouth, and dragged him down to the pavement.
In the midst of
the strife and tumult of angry contention,
Lo! the door of
the chancel opened and Father Felician
serious mien, and ascended the steps of the altar.
reverend hand, with a gesture he awed into silence
All that clamorous
throng; and thus he spake to his people;
Deep were his
tones and solemn; in accents measured and mournful
Spake he, as,
after the tocsin's alarum, distinctly the clock strikes.
'What is this that
ye do, my children? what madness has seized you?
Forty years of my
life have I laboured among you, and taught you,
Not in word alone,
but in deed, to love one another!
Is this the fruit
of my toils, of my vigils and prayers and privations?
Have you so soon
forgotten all lessons of love and forgiveness?
This is the house
of the Prince of the Prince of Peace, and would you profane
Thus with violent
deeds and hearts overflowing with hatred?
Lo! where the
crucified Christ from His cross is gazing upon you!
See! in those
sorrowful eyes what meekness and holy compassion!
Hark! how those
lips still repeat the prayer, 'O Father, forgive
Let us repeat that
prayer in the hour when the wicked assail us,
Let us repeat it
now, and say, 'O Father, forgive them!' '
Few were his words
of rebuke, but deep in the hearts of his people
Sank they, and
sobs of contrition succeeded the passionate outbreak,
repeated his prayer, and said, 'O Father, forgive them!'
© Copyright 2005 Katherine Rudolph Exploring The Word in Colour