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While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and pondrous saddles,
Painted with brilliant dyes, and adorned with tassels of crimson,
Nodded in bright array, like hollyhocks heavy with blossoms.
Patiently stood the cows meanwhile, and yielded their udders
Unto the milkmaid's hand; whilst loud and in regular cadence
Into the sounding pails the foaming streamlets descended.
Lowing of cattle and peals of laughter were heard in the farm-
Echoed back by the barns. Anon they sank into stillness;
Heavily closed, with a jarring sound, the valves of the barn-doors, Rattled the wooden bars, and all for a season was silent.
In-doors, warm by the wide-mouthed fireplace, idly the farmer Sat in his elbow-chair, and watched how the flames and the smo.cwreaths
Struggled together like foes in a burning city. Behind him,
Nodding and mocking along the wall, with gestures fantastic,
Darted his own huge shadow, and vanished away into darkness.
Faces, clumsily carved in oak, on the back of his arm-chair
Laughed in the flickering light, and the pewter plates on the
Caught and reflected the flame, as shields of armies the sunshine.
Fragments of song the old man sang, and carols of Christmas,
Such as at home, in the olden time, his fathers before him
Sang in their Norman orchards and bright Burgundian vineyards,
Close at her father's side was the gentle Evangeline seated,
Spinning flax for the loom, that stood in the corner behind her;
Silent awhile were its treadles, at rest was its diligent shuttle,
While the monotonous drone of the wheel, like the drone of a
Followed the old man's song, and united the fragments together.
As in a church, when the chant of the choir at intervals ceases,
Footfalls are heard in the aisles, or words of the priest at the altar,
So, in each pause of the song, with measured motion the clock
Thus as they sat, there were footsteps heard, and, suddenly lifted,
Sounded the wooden latch, and the door swung back on its hinges, Benedict knew by the hob-nailed shoes it was Basil the blacksmith, And by her beating heart Evangeline knew who was with him. "Welcome!" the farmer exclaimed, as their footsteps paused on the threshold,
"Welcome, Basil, my friend! Come, take thy place on the settle Close by the chimney-side, which is always empty without thee; Take from the shelf overhead thy pipe and the box of tobacco; Never so much thyself art thou as when through the curling Smoke of the pipe or the forge thy friendly and jovial face gleams Round and red as the harvest moon through the mist of the marshes."
Then, with a smile of content, thus answered Basil the blacksmith, Taking with easy air the accustomed seat by the fireside :"Benedict Bellefontaine, thou hast ever thy jest and thy ballad!
Ever in cheerfullest mood art thou, when others are filled with
Gloomy forebodings of ill, and see only ruin before them.
Happy art thou, as if every day thou hadst picked up a horseshoe."
Pausing a moment, to take the pipe that Evangeline brought him,
And with a coal from the embers had lighted, he slowly continued:
"Four days now are passed since the English ships at their anchors
Ride in the Gaspereau's mouth, with their cannon pointed against us.
What their design may be is unknown; but all are commanded
On the morrow to meet in the church, where his Majesty's mandate
Will be proclaimed as law in the land. Alas! in the meantime
Many surmises of evil alarm the hearts of the people."
Then made answer the farmer :-"Perhaps some friendlier purpose
Brings these ships to our shores. Perhaps the harvests in England
By the the untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted,
And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and chil-
[smith, "Not so thinketh the folk in the village," said, warmly, the blackShaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued: "Louisburg is not forgotten, nor Beau Séjour, nor Port Royal. Many already have fled to the forest, and lurk on its outskirts, Waiting with anxious hearts the dubious fate of to-morrow. Arms have been taken from us, and warlike weapons of all kinds; Nothing is left but the blacksmith's sledge and the scythe of the mower."
Then with a pleasant smile made answer the jovial farmer :"Safer are we unarmed in the midst of our flocks and our corn
Safer within these peaceful dikes, besieged by the ocean,
Than were our fathers in forts, besieged by the enemy's cannon, Fear no evil, my friend, and to-night may no shadow of sorrow Fall on this house and hearth; for this is the night of the contract, Built are the house and the barn. The merry lads of the village Strongly have built them and well; and, breaking the glebe round [month.
about them, Filled the barn with hay, and the house with food for a twelveRené Leblanc will be here anon, with his papers and ink-horn. Shall we not then be glad, and rejoice in the joy of our children?" As apart by the window she stood, with her hand in her lover's, Blushing Evangeline heard the words that her father had spoken, And as they died on his lips the worthy notary entered.
Bent like a labouring oar, that toils in the surf of the ocean, Bent, but not broken, by age was the form of the notary public; Shocks of yellow hair, like the silken floss of the maize, hung [bows Over his shoulders; his forehead was high; and glasses with horn Sat astride on his nose, with a look of wisdom supernal. Father of twenty children was he, and more than a hundred Children's children rode on his knee, and heard his great watch tick. Four long years in the times of the war had he languished a captive, Suffering much in an old French fort as the friend of the English.
Now, though warier grown, without all guile or suspicion,
Ripe in wisdom was he, but patient, and simple, and childlike.
He was beloved by all, and most of all by the children;
For he told them tales of the Loup-garou in the forest,
And of the goblin that came in the night to water the horses,
And of the white Létiche, the ghost of a child who unchristened
Died, and was doomed to haunt unseen the chambers of children;
And how on Christmas eve the oxen talked in the stable,
And how the fever was cured by a spider shut up in a nutshell,
And of the marvellous powers of four-leaved clover and horse-shoes
With whatsoever else was writ in the lore of the village.
Then uprose from his seat by the fireside Basil the blacksmith,
Knocked from his pipe the ashes, and slowly extending his righ
"Father Leblanc," he exclaimed, "thou hast heard the talk in th And, perchance, canst tell us some news of these ships and thei errand."
Then with modest demeanour made answer the notary public,"Gossip enough have I heard, in sooth, yet am never the wiser; And what their errand may be I know not better than others. Yet am I not of those who imagine some evil intention Brings them here, for we are at peace; and why then molest us?" "God's name!" shouted the hasty and somewhat irascible black [wherefore
"Must we in all things look for the how, and the why, and th
Daily injustice is done, and might is the right of the strongest!"
But, without heeding his warmth, continued the notary public,—
"Man is unjust, but God is just; and finally justice
Triumphs; and well I remember a story, that often consoled me,
When as a captive I lay in the old French fort at Port Royal,"
This was the old man's favourite tale, and he loved to repeat it
When his neighbours complained that any injustice was done them
"Once in an ancient city, whose name I no longer remember,
Raised aloft on a column, a brazen statue of Justice
Stood in the public square, upholding the scales in its left hand,
And in its right a sword, as an emblem that justice presided
Over the laws of the land, and the hearts and homes of the people
Even the birds had built their nests in the scales of the balance,
Having no fear of the sword that flashed in the sunshine abov
But in the course of time the laws of the land were corrupted;
Might took the place of right, and the weak were oppressed, and
Ruled with an iron rod. Then it chanced in a nobleman's palace
That a necklace of pearls was lost, and ere long a suspicion
Fell on an orphan girl who lived as maid in the household.
She, after form of trial condemned to die on the scaffold,
Patiently met her doom at the foot of the statue of Justice.
As to her Father in heaven her innocent spirit ascended,
Lo! o'er the city a tempest rose; and the bolts of the thunder
Smote the statue of bronze, and hurled in wrath from its left hand
Down on the pavement below the clattering scales of the balance,
And in the hollow thereof was found the nest of a magpie,
Into whose clay-built walls the necklace of pearls was inwoven." Silenced, but not convinced, when the story was ended, the black
Stood like a man who fain would speak, but findeth no language; All his thoughts were congealed into lines on his face, as the vapours Freeze in fantastic shapes on the window-panes in the winter.
Then Evangeline lighted the brazen lamp on the table,
Filled, till it overflowed, the pewter tankard with home-brewed
Nut-brown ale, that was famed for its strength in the village of
While from his pocket the notary drew his papers and ink-horn,
Wrote with a steady hand the date and the age of the parties,
Naming the dower of the bride in flocks of sheep and in cattle.
Orderly all things proceeded, and duly and well were completed,
And the great seal of the law was set like a sun on the margin.
Then from his leathern pouch the farmer threw on the table
Three times the old man's fee in solid pieces of silver;
And the notary rising, and blessing the bride and the bridegroom,
Lifted aloft the tankard of ale and drank to their welfare.
Wiping the foam from his lip, he solemnly bowed and departed,
While in silence the others sat and mused by the fireside,
Till Evangeline brought the draught-board out of its corner.
Soon was the game begun. In friendly contention the old men
Laughed at each lucky hit, or unsuccessful manoeuvre, [king-row.
Laughed when a man was crowned, or a breach was made in the
Meanwhile apart, in the twilight gloom of a window's embrasure
Sat the lovers, and whispered together, beholding the moon rise
Over the pallid sea and the silvery mist of the meadows.
Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.
Thus passed the evening away. 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 door-step
Lingered long in Evangeline's heart, and filled it with gladness.
Carefully then were covered the embers that glowed on the hearth-
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 through the hall, and entered the door of her
Simple that chamber was, with its curtains of white, and its clothes-
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.
Soon she extinguished her lamp, for the mellow and radiant moonlight,
Streamed through the windows, and lighted the room, till the hea of the maiden [ocea Swelled and obeyed its power, like the tremulous tides of th Ah! she was fair, exceeding fair to behold, as she stood with Naked snow-white 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 he shadow.
Yet were her thoughts of him, and at times a feeling of sadness Passed o'er her soul, as the sailing shade of clouds in the moon
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!
Pleasantly rose next morn the sun on the village of Grand-Pré. Pleasantly gleamed in the soft, sweet air the Basin of Minas, Where the ships, with their wavering shadows were riding at ancho Life had long been astir in the village, and clamorous labour Knocked with its hundred hands at the golden gates of the morn [ing hamlet Now from the country around, from the farms and the neighbour 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 gree
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 th
Sat in the cheerful sun, and rejoiced and gossiped together.
Every house was an inn, where all were welcomed and feasted;
For with this simple people, who live like brothers together,
All things were held in common, and what one had was another's.
Yet under Benedict's roof hospitality seemed more abundant:
For Evangeline stood among the guests of her father; [nes
Bright was her face with smiles, and words of welcome and glad
Fell from her beautiful lips, and blessed the cup as she gave it.
Under the open sky, in the odorous air of the orchard,
Bending with golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal.
There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notar
There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith.
Not far withdrawn from these by the cider-press and the bee-hive
Michael the fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and
[whit Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow Hair, as it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddler