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PART THE FIRST,
i.

In the Acadian land, on the shores of the Basin of Minas,
Distant, secluded, still, the little village of Grand- Pre
Lay in the fruitful valley. Vast meadows stretched

to the eastward, Giving the village its name, and pasture to flocks

without number. Dikes, that the hands of the farmers had raised

with labor incessant, Shut out the turbulent tides; but at stated seasons

the flood-gates Opened, and welcomed the sea to wander at will

o'er the meadows. West and south there were fields of flax, and

orchards and cornfields Spreading afar and unfenced o'er the plain; and

away to the northward Blomidon rose, and the forests old, and aloft en the

mountains Sea-fogs pitched their tents, and mists from the mighty Atlantic Looked on the happy valley, but ne'er from their station descended. There, in the midst of its farms, reposed the Acadian village. Strongly built were the houses, with frames of oak and of chestnut,

Such as the peasants of Normandy built in tho

reign of the Henries. Thatched were the roofs, with dormer-windows;

and gables projecting Over the basement below protected and shaded

the door-way. There in the tranquil evenings of summer, when

brightly the sunset Lighted the village street, and gilded the vanes

on the chimneys, Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and

in kirtles Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors Mingled their sound with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens. Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them. Reverend walked he among them; and up rose matrons and maidens, Hailing his slow approach with words of affectionate welcome. Then came the laborers home from the field, and

serenely the sun sank Down to his rest, and twilight prevailed. Anon

from the belfry Softly the Angelus sounded, and over the roofs of

the village Columns of pale blue smoke, like clouds of incense ascending, Rose from a hundred hearths, the homes of peace

and contentment. Thus dwelt together in love these simple Acadian

farmers,— Dwelt in the love of God and of man. Alike were they free from

Fear, that reigns with the tyrant, and envy, the

vice of republics. Neither locks had they to their doors, nor bars to

their windows; But their dwellings were open as day and the hearts

of the owners; There the richest was poor, and the poorest lived

in abundance.

Somewhat apart from the village, and nearer the Basin of Minas, Benedict Bellefontaine, the wealthiest farmer of Grand-Pre, Dwelt on his goodly acres; and with him, directing his household, Gentle Evangeline lived, his child, and the pride of the village. Stalworth and stately in form was the man of seventy winters; Hearty and hale was he, an oak that is covered with snow-flakes;White as the snow were his locks, and his cheeks as brown as the oak-leaves. Fair was she to behold, that maiden of seventeen summers. Black were her eyes as the berry that grows on the

thorn by the way-side, Black, yet how softly they gleamed beneath the

brown shade of her tresses! Sweet was her breath as the breath of kine that

feed in the meadows. When in the harvest heat she bore to the reapers

at noontide Flagons of home-brewed ale, ah! fair in sooth was the maiden. Fairer was she when, on Sunday morn, while the

bell from its turret Sprinkled with holy sounds the air, as the priest

with his hyssop

Sprinkles the congregation, and scatters blessings upon them, Down the long street she passed, with her chaplet

of beads and her missal, Wearing her Norman cap, and her kirtle of blue,

and the ear-rings, Brought in the olden time from France, and since,

as an heirloom, Handed down from mother to child, through long

generations. But a celestial brightness — a more ethereal beauty — Shone on her face and encircled her form, when, after confession, Homeward serenely she walked with God's benediction upon her. When she had passed, it seemed like the ceasing of exquisite music. Firmly builded 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. Under the sycamore-tree were hives overhung by a penthouse, Such as the traveller sees in regions remote by the road-side, 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 Bucket, fastened with iron, and near it a trough

for the horses. Shielding the house from storms, on the north, were

the barns and the farm-yard.

There stood the broad-wheeled wains and the

antique ploughs and the harrows; There were the folds for the sheep; and there, in

his feathered seraglio, Strutted the 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, Under the 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 Numberless noisy weathercocks rattled and sang of mutation.

Thus, at peace with God and the world, the farmer of Grand-Pre

Lived on his sunny farm, and Evangeline governed his household.

Many a youth, as he knelt in the church and opened his missal,

Fixed his eyes upon her, as the saint of his deepest devotion;

Happy was he who might touch her hand or the hem of her garment!

Many a suitor came to her door, by the darkness befriended,

And as he knocked and waited to hear the sound of her footsteps, Knew not which beat the louder, his heart or the knocker of iron;Or at the joyous feast of the Patron Saint of the village,

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