Part the First:
Part the Second:
A Tale of Arcadie
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Part the Second
- NEAR to the bank of the river, o'ershadowed by oaks, from whose branches
- Garlands of Spanish moss and of mystic mistletoe flaunted,
- Such as the Druids cut down with golden hatchets at Yule-tide,
- Stood, secluded and still, the house of the herdsman. A garden
- Girded it round about with a belt of luxuriant blossoms,
- Filling the air with fragrance. The house itself was of timbers
- Hewn from the cypress-tree, and carefully fitted together.
- Large and low was the roof; and on slender columns supported,
- Rose-wreathed, vine-encircled, a broad and spacious veranda,
- Haunt of the humming-bird and the bee, extended around it.
- At each end of the house, amid the flowers of the garden,
- Stationed the dove-cotes were, as love's perpetual symbol,
- Scenes of endless wooing, and endless contentions of rivals.
- Silence reigned o'er the place. The line of shadow and sunshine
- Ran near the tops of the trees; but the house itself was in shadow,
- And from its chimney-top, ascending and slowly expanding
- Into the evening air, a thin blue column of smoke rose.
- In the rear of the house, from the garden gate, ran a pathway
- Through the great groves of oak to the skirts of the limitless prairie,
- Into whose sea of flowers the sun was slowly descending.
- Full in his track of light, like ships with shadowy canvas
- Hanging loose from their spars in a motionless calm in the tropics,
- Stood a cluster of trees, with tangled cordage of grape-vines.
- Just where the woodlands met the flowery surf of the prairie,
- Mounted upon his horse, with Spanish saddle and stirrups,
- Sat a herdsman, arrayed in gaiters and doublet of deerskin.
- Broad and brown was the face that from under the Spanish sombrero
- Gazed on the peaceful scene, with the lordly look of its master.
- Round about him were numberless herds of kine, that were grazing
- Quietly in the meadows, and breathing the vapory freshness
- That uprose from the river, and spread itself over the landscape.
- Slowly lifting the horn that hung at his side, and expanding
- Fully his broad, deep chest, he blew a blast, that resounded
- Wildly and sweet and far, through the still damp air of the evening.
- Suddenly out of the grass the long white horns of the cattle
- Rose like flakes of foam on the adverse currents of ocean.
- Silent a moment they gazed, then bellowing rushed o'er the prairie,
- And the whole mass became a cloud, a shade in the distance.
- Then, as the herdsman turned to the house, through the gate of the garden
- Saw he the forms of the priest and the maiden advancing to meet him.
- Suddenly down from his horse he sprang in amazement, and forward
- Rushed with extended arms and exclamations of wonder;
- When they beheld his face, they recognized Basil the Blacksmith.
- Hearty his welcome was, as he led his guests to the garden.
- There in an arbor of roses with endless question and answer
- Gave they vent to their hearts, and renewed their friendly embraces,
- Laughing and weeping by turns, or sitting silent and thoughtful.
- Thoughtful, for Gabriel came not; and now dark doubts and misgivings
- Stole o'er the maiden's heart; and Basil, somewhat embarrassed,
- Broke the silence and said -- "If you come by the Atchafalaya,
- How have you nowhere encountered my Gabriel's boat on the bayous?"
- Over Evangeline's face at the words of Basil a shade passed.
- Tears came into her eyes, and she said, with a tremulous accent --
- "Gone? is Gabriel gone?" and, concealing her face on his shoulder,
- All her o'erburdened heart gave way, and she wept and lamented.
- Then the good Basil said -- and his voice grew blithe as he said it --
- "Be of good cheer, my child; it is only to-day he departed.
- Foolish boy! he has left me alone with my herds and my horses.
- Moody and restless grown, and tried and troubled, his spirit
- Could no longer endure the calm of this quiet existence.
- Thinking ever of thee, uncertain and sorrowful ever,
- Ever silent, or speaking only of thee and his troubles,
- He at length had become so tedious to men and to maidens,
- Tedious even to me, that at length I bethought me and sent him
- Unto the town of Adayes to trade for mules with the Spaniards.
- Thence he will follow the Indian trails to the Ozark Mountains,
- Hunting for furs in the forests, on rivers trapping the beaver.
- Therefore be of good cheer; we will follow the fugitive lover;
- He is not far on his way, and the Fates and the streams are against him.
- Up and away to-morrow, and through the red dew of the morning
- We will follow him fast and bring him back to his prison."
- Then glad voices were heard, and up from the banks of the river,
- Borne aloft on his comrades' arms, came Michael the fiddler.
- Long under Basil's roof had he lived like a god on Olympus,
- Having no other care than dispensing music to mortals,
- Far renowned was he for his silver locks and his fiddle.
- "Long live Michael," they cried, "our brave Acadian minstrel!"
- As they bore him aloft in triumphal procession; and straightway
- Father Felician advanced with Evangeline, greeting the old man
- Kindly and oft, and recalling the past, while Basil, enraptured,
- Hailed with hilarious joy his old companions and gossips,
- Laughing loud and long, and embracing mothers and daughters.
- Much they marvelled to see the wealth of the ci-devant blacksmith,
- All his domains and his herds, and his patriarchal demeanor;
- Much they marveled to hear his tales of the soil and the climate,
- And of the prairies, whose numberless herds were his who would take them;
- Each one thought in his heart that he, too, would go and do likewise.
- Thus they ascended the steps, and, crossing the airy veranda,
- Entered the hall of the house, where already the supper of Basil
- Waited his late return; and they rested and feasted together.
- Over the joyous feast the sudden darkness descended.
- All was silent without, and illuming the landscape with silver,
- Fair rose the dewy moon and the myriad stars; but within doors,
- Brighter than these, shone the faces of friends in the glimmering lamplight.
- Then from his station aloft, at the head of the table, the herdsman
- Poured forth his heart and his wine together in endless profusion.
- Lighting his pipe, that was filled with sweet Natchitoches tobacco,
- Thus he spake to his guests, who listened, and smiled as they listened:
- "Welcome once more, my friends, who so long have been friendless and homeless,
- Welcome once more to a home, that is better perchance than the old one!
- Here no hungry winter congeals our blood like the rivers;
- Here no stony ground provokes the wrath of the farmer.
- Smoothly the plowshare runs through the soil as a keel through the water.
- All the year round the orange-groves are in blossom; and grass grows
- More in a single night than a whole Canadian summer.
- Here, too, numberless herds run wild and unclaimed in the prairies;
- Here, too, lands may be had for the asking, and forests of timber
- With a few blows of the axe are hewn and framed into houses.
- After your houses are built, and your fields are yellow with harvests,
- No King George of England shall drive you away from your homesteads,
- Burning your dwellings and barns, and stealing your farms and your cattle."
- Speaking these words, he blew a wrathful cloud from his nostrils,
- And his huge, brawny hand came thundering down on the table,
- So that the guests all started; and Father Felician, astounded,
- Suddenly paused, with a pinch of snuff half-way to his nostrils.
- But the brave Basil resumed, and his words were milder and gayer --
- "Only beware of the fever, my friends, beware of the fever!
- For it is not like that of our cold Acadian climate,
- Cured by wearing a spider hung round one's neck in a nutshell!"
- Then there were voices heard at the door, and footsteps approaching
- Sounded upon the stairs and the floor of the breezy veranda.
- It was the neighboring Creoles and small Acadian planters,
- Who had been summoned all to the house of Basil the Herdsman.
- Merry the meeting was of ancient comrades and neighbors;
- Friend clasped friend in his arms; and they who before were as strangers,
- Meeting in exile, became straightway as friends to each other,
- Drawn by the gentle bond of a common country together.
- But in the neighboring hall a strain of music, proceeding
- From the accordant strings of Michael's melodious fiddle,
- Broke up all further speech. Away, like children delighted,
- All things forgotten beside, they gave themselves to the maddening
- Whirl of the dizzy dance, as it swept and swayed to the music,
- Dreamlike, with beaming eyes and the rush of fluttering garments.
- Meanwhile, apart, at the head of the hall, the priest and the herdsman
- Sat, conversing together of past and present and future;
- While Evangeline stood like one entranced, for within her
- Olden memories rose, and loud in the midst of the music
- Heard she the sound of the sea, and an irrepressible sadness
- Came o'er her heart, and unseen she stole forth into the garden.
- Beautiful was the night. Behind the black wall of the forest,
- Tipping its summit with silver, arose the moon. On the river
- Fell here and there through the branches a tremulous gleam of the moonlight,
- Like the sweet thoughts of love on a darkened and devious spirit.
- Nearer and round about her, the manifold flowers of the garden
- Poured out their souls in odors, that were their prayers and confessions
- Unto the night, as it went its way, like a silent Carthusian.
- Fuller of fragrance then they, and as heavy with shadows and night-dews,
- Hung the heart of the maiden. The calm and the magical moonlight
- Seemed to inundate her soul with indefinable longings,
- As, through the garden gate, beneath the brown shade of the oak-trees,
- Passed she along the path to the edge of the measureless prairie.
- Silent it lay, with a silvery haze upon it, and the fire-flies
- Gleaming and floating away in mingled and infinite numbers.
- Over her head the stars, the thoughts of God in the heavens,
- Shone on the eyes of man, who had ceased to marvel and worship,
- Save when a blazing comet was seen on the walls of that temple,
- As if a hand had appeared and written upon them, "Upharsin."
- And the soul of the maiden, between the stars and the fire-flies,
- Wandered alone, and she cried -- "O Gabriel! O my beloved!
- Art thou so near unto me, and yet I cannot behold thee?
- Art thou so near unto me, and yet thy voice does not reach me?
- Ah! how often thy feet have trod this path to the prairie!
- Ah! how often thine eyes have looked on the woodlands around me!
- Ah! how often beneath this oak, returning from labor,
- Thou hast lain down to rest, and to dream of me in thy slumbers.
- When shall these eyes behold, these arms be folded about thee?"
- Loud and sudden and near the note of a whippoorwill sounded
- Like a flute in the woods; and anon, through the neighboring thickets,
- Farther and farther away it floated and dropped into silence.
- "Patience!" whispered the oaks from oracular caverns of darkness;
- And, from the moonlit meadow, a sigh responded, "To-morrow!"
- Bright rose the sun next day; and all the flowers of the garden
- Bathed his shining feet with their tears, and anointed his tresses
- With the delicious balm that they bore in their vases of crystal.
- "Farewell!" said the priest, as he stood at the shadowy threshold;
- "See that you bring us the Prodigal Son from his fasting and famine,
- And, too, the Foolish Virgin, who slept when the bridegroom was coming."
- "Farewell!" answered the maiden, and, smiling, with Basil descended
- Down to the river's brink, where the boatmen already were waiting.
- Thus beginning their journey with morning, and sunshine and gladness,
- Swiftly they followed the flight of him who was speeding before them,
- Blown by the blast of fate like a dead leaf over the desert.
- Not that day, nor the next, nor yet the day that succeeded,
- Found they trace of his course, in lake or forest or river,
- Nor, after many days, had they found him; but vague and uncertain
- Rumors alone were their guides through a wild and desolate country,
- Till, at the little inn of the Spanish town of Adayes,
- Weary and worn, they alighted, and learned from the garrulous landlord,
- That on the day before, with horses and guides and companions,
- Gabriel left the village, and took the road of the prairies.
to Part II, Canto IV.