Part the First:
Part the Second:
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part the First
- NOW had the season 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,
- Desolate northern bays to the shores of tropical islands.
- Harvests were gathered in; and wild with the winds of September
- Wrestled the trees of the forests, as Jacob of old with the angel.
- All the signs foretold a winter long and inclement.
- Bees, with 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 season,
- 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 farmyards,
- 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 vapors 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 jewels.
- Now recommenced the reign of rest and affection and stillness.
- Day with its burden and heat had departed, and twilight descending
- Brought back the evening star to the sky, and the herds to the homestead.
- Pawing the ground they came, and resting their necks on each other,
- And with their nostrils distended inhaling the freshness of evening.
- Foremost, bearing the bell, Evangeline's beautiful heifer,
- Proud of her snow-white hide, and the ribbon that waved from her collar,
- Quietly paced and slow, as if conscious of human affection.
- Then came the shepherd back with his bleating flocks from the seaside,
- Where was their favorite pasture. Behind them followed the watch-dog,
- Patient, full of importance, and grand in the pride of his instinct,
- Walking from side to side with a lordly air, and superbly
- Waving his bushy tail, and urging forward the stragglers;
- Regent of flocks was he went the shepherd slept; their protector,
- When from the forest at night, through the starry silence, the wolves howled.
- Late, with the rising moon, returned the wains from the marshes,
- Laden with briny hay, that filled the air with its odor.
- Cheerily neighed the steeds, with dew on their manes and their fetlocks,
- While aloft on their shoulders the wooden and ponderous 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 farmyard,
- 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 smoke-wreaths
- 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 dresser
- 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 bagpipe,
- 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 clicked.
- 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 cheerfulest 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 mean time
- 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 untimely rains or untimelier heat have been blighted,
- And from our bursting barns they would feed their cattle and children."
- "Not so thinketh the folk in the village," said, warmly, the blacksmith,
- Shaking his head, as in doubt; then, heaving a sigh, he continued --
- "Louisburg is not forgotten, nor Beau Sejour, 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 cornfields,
- 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 about them,
- Filled the barn with hay, and the house with food for a twelvemonth.
- Rene Leblanc will be here anon, with his papers and inkhorn.
- 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.
to Part I, Canto III.