Page images
PDF
EPUB

Then, as she mounted the stairs to the corridors, 1325

cooled by the east-wind, Distant and soft on her ear fell the chimes from the

belfry of Christ Church, While, intermingled with these, across the meadows

were wafted Sounds of psalms, that were sung by the Swedes in

their church at Wicaco. Soft as descending wings fell the calm of the hour on

her spirit : Something within her said, “At length thy trials are 1330

ended "; And, with light in her looks, she entered the cham

bers of sickness. Noiselessly moved about the assiduous, careful at

tendants, Moistening the feverish lip, and the aching brow,

and in silence Closing the sightless eyes of the dead, and conceal

ing their faces, Where on their pallets they lay, like drifts of snow 1335

by the roadside. Many a languid head, upraised as Evangeline en

tered, Turned on its pillow of pain to gaze while she passed,

for her presence Fell on their hearts like a ray of the sun on the walls

of a prison.

And, as she looked around, she saw how Death, the

consoler, Laying his hand upon many a heart, had healed it 1340

forever. Many familiar forms had disappeared in the night

time ;

Vacant their places were, or filled already by strangers.

Suddenly, as if arrested by fear or a feeling of

wonder, Still she stood, with her colorless lips apart, while a

shudder Ran through her frame, and, forgotten, the flowerets 1345

dropped from her fingers, And from her eyes and cheeks the light and bloom of

the morning. Then there escaped from her lips a cry of such

terrible anguish, That the dying heard it, and started up from their

pillows. On the pallet before her was stretched the form of an

old man. Long, and thin, and gray were the locks that shaded 1350

his temples ; But, as he lay in the morning light, his face for a

moment Seemed to assume once more the forms of its earlier

manhood;

So are wont to be changed the faces of those who are

dying. Hot and red on his lips still burned the flush of the

fever, As if life, like the Hebrew, with blood had be- 1355

sprinkled its portals, That the Angel of Death might see the sign, and pass

over.

Motionless, senseless, dying, he lay, and his spirit

exhausted Seemed to be sinking down through infinite depths

in the darkness, Darkness of slumber and death, forever sinking and

sinking. Then through those realms of shade, in multiplied 1360

reverberations, Heard he that cry of pain, and through the hush that

succeeded Whispered a gentle voice, in accents tender and

saint-like, Gabriel! O my beloved !” and died away into

silence. Then he beheld, in a dream, once more the home of

his childhood; Green Acadian meadows, with sylvan rivers among 1865

them, Village, and mountain, and woodlands; and, walking

under their shadow,

As in the days of her youth, Evangeline rose in his

vision, Tears came into his eyes; and as slowly he lifted his

eyelids, Vanished the vision away, but Evangeline knelt by

his bedside. Vainly he strove to whisper her name, for the ac- 1370

cents unuttered Died on his lips, and their motion revealed what his

tongue would have spoken. Vainly he strove to rise; and Evangeline, kneeling

beside him, Kissed his dying lips, and laid his head on her

bosom. Sweet was the light of his eyes ; but it suddenly

sank into darkness, As when a lamp is blown out by a gust of wind at a 1375

casement.

All was ended now, the hope, and the fear, and

the sorrow, All the aching of heart, the restless, unsatisfied

longing, All the dull, deep pain, and constant anguish of

patience! And, as she pressed once more the lifeless head to

her bosom,

Meekly she bowed her own, and murmured, “Father, 1380

I thank thee!”

Still stands the forest primeval; but far away from

its shadow, Side by side, in their nameless graves, the lovers are

sleeping. Under the humble 'walls of the little Catholic church

yard, In the heart of the city, they lie, unknown and un

noticed. Daily the tides of life go ebbing and flowing beside 1385

them, Thousands of throbbing hearts, where theirs are at

rest and forever, Thousands of aching brains, where theirs no longer

are busy, Thousands of toiling hands, where theirs have ceased

from their labors, Thousands of weary feet, where theirs have com

pleted their journey!

Still stands the forest primeval; but under the 1390

shade of its branches Dwells another race, with other customs and lan

guage.

« PreviousContinue »