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´╗┐Title: Acadian Reminiscences : The True Story of Evangeline
Author: Voorhies, Felix, 1839-1919
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Acadian Reminiscences : The True Story of Evangeline" ***

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Acadian Reminiscences

The True Story of Evangeline

by

JUDGE FELIX VOORHIES

Introduction by Felix Birney Voorhies



Price $2.00

E. P. Rivas, Publisher
New Orleans, Louisiana

Copyright, 1907,
by Felix Voorhies



[Illustration: _A Modern Conception of Evangeline_
               Posed by Rev. A. T. Kempton]



Table of Contents

                                                  Page

       List of Illustrations                         7

       Introduction                                  9

    I. Reminiscences                                13

   II. Acadian Manners and Customs                  23

  III. Rumors of War                                35

   IV. Threatening Clouds                           43

    V. Acadian Exiles                               53

   VI. A Night of Terror                            61

  VII. Generous Friends                             75

 VIII. Evangeline                                   79

   IX. Louisiana                                    91



List of Illustrations


 _Frontispiece_ A Modern Conception of Evangeline

                                                  Page

 Catholic Church Exterior                          76

 Evangeline                                        81

 Evangeline Oak                                    86

 Interior of Church                               104



Introduction


Acadian Reminiscences, depicting the True Life of Evangeline, is a
story centered about the life of the Acadians whose descendants
are now residents of the Teche Country also known as the Land of
Evangeline.

These people lived a pure and simple life with an unbounded devotion
to their religion and with an unshakable faith in their God. Their
love for one another is unparalleled in the annals of human history,
to which may be attributed their fortitude and perseverance in their
travels from Canada, upon being expelled by the British, to their
chosen Land on the banks of Bayou Teche.

The author, Judge Felix Voorhies, relates the story as it was told to
him by his grandmother. The story begins by telling of the native land
of these Acadians and of the village of St. Gabriel from which they
were driven when the French Province was surrendered to the British.
It tells of members of the same families being separated and placed
aboard different ships and some never to see each other again. The
story tells of their landing in Maryland and after some time, hearing
that members of theirs and other families having landed in Louisiana.
This news brought encouragement and determination, in face of great
dangers, to travel to the beautiful Land of the Teche.

The author was best able to present this story as it was handed down
to him by word of mouth by his grandmother who adopted Evangeline
when orphaned at an early age. The writer repeats the story in a
simple narrative manner characteristic of the Acadians.

To this day travelers may visit the quaint town of St. Martinsville on
the banks of Bayou Teche and pay their respects at the grave shrine of
Evangeline and for a few fleeting moments live the life of these early
settlers.

Because of the demands for this story and in tribute to Judge Felix
Voorhies, my grandfather, a man of noble character, staunch patriotism
and unerring judgment, I, together with all members of the Voorhies
family, dedicate this book.

               FELIX BIRNEY VOORHIES.



Chapter One

 Acadian
 Reminiscences

 _With the true
 Story of Evangeline_


It seems but yesterday, and yet sixty years have passed away since my
boyhood. How fleeting is time, how swiftly does old age creep upon us
with its infirmities. The curling smoke, dispelled by the passing
wind, the water that glides with a babbling murmur in the gentle
stream, leave as deep a mark of their passage as do the fleeting days
of man.

I was twelve years old, and yet I can picture in my mind the noble
simplicity of my father's house. The homes of our fathers were not
showy, but their appearance was smiling and inviting; they had neither
quaintness nor gaudiness, but were as grand in their simplicity as
the boundless hospitality of their owners, for no people were more
generous or hospitable than the Acadians who settled in the
magnificent and poetical wilds of the Teche country.

My father's house stood on a sloping hill, in the center of a large
yard, whose finely laid rows of china trees, interspersed with
clusters of towering oaks, formed delightful vistas. On the declivity
of the hill the orchard displayed its wealth of orange, of plum and
peach trees. Farther on was the garden, teeming with vegetables of all
kinds, sufficient for the need of a whole village.

I can yet picture that yard, with its hundreds of poultry, so full of
life, running with flapping of wings and with noisy cacklings around
my mother as she scattered the grain for them morning and evening.

At the foot of the hill, extending to the Vermillion Bayou, were the
pasture grounds, where grazed the cattle, and where the bleating
sheep followed, step by step, the stately ram with tinkling bell
suspended to his neck. How clearly is that scenery pictured in my mind
with its lights and shadows! Were I a painter I could even now portray
with striking reality the minutest shadings and beauties of that
landscape.

How strange that I should recall so vividly those things, while scenes
that I have admired in my maturer years have been obliterated from
my memory! Ah! the child's mind, like soft wax, is easily molded to
sensations and impressions that never fade, while man's mind, blunted
by the keenness of life's deceptions, can no longer receive and retain
the imprints of those impressions and sensations.

If this be true, does not a kind Providence suggest to us, in this
wise, the wisdom of molding the child's mind and intelligence with the
fostering care of parental solicitude, that he may become an upright
man, a good citizen and a reproachless husband and father.

My father was an Acadian, son of an Acadian, and proud of his
ancestry. The term Acadian was, in those days, synonymous with
honesty, hospitality and generosity. By his indomitable energy, my
father had acquired a handsome fortune, and such was the simplicity
of his manners, and such his frugality, that he lived, contented and
happy, on his income.

Our family consisted of my father and mother, of three children,
and of my grandmother, a centenarian, whose clear and lucid memory
contained a wealthy mine of historical facts that an antiquarian or
chronicler would have been proud to possess.

In the cold winter days the family assembled in the hall, where a
goodly fire blazed on the hearth, and while the wind whistled outside,
our grandmother, an exile from Acadia, would relate to us the stirring
scenes she had witnessed when her people were driven from their homes
by the British, their sufferings during their long pilgrimage overland
from Maryland to the wilds of Louisiana, the dangers that beset them
on their long journey through endless forests, along the precipitous
banks of rivers too deep to be forded, among hostile Indians, that
followed them stealthily, like wolves, day and night, ever ready to
pounce upon them and massacre them.

And as she spoke, we drew closer to her, and grouped around her and
stirred not, lest we lose one of her words.

When she spoke of Acadia, her face brightened, her eyes beamed with a
strange brilliancy, and she kept us spellbound, so eloquent and yet so
sad were her words, and then tears trickled down her aged cheeks and
her voice trembled with emotion. Under our father's roof she lacked
none of the comforts of life. We knew that her children vied with each
other to please her, and we wondered why it was that she seemed to be
sad and unhappy. We were then mere children and knew nothing of the
human heart, grim experience had not taught us its sorrowful lessons,
and we knew not that a remembrance has often the bitterness of gall,
and that tears alone will wash away that bitterness.

She sat in her rocking chair, with hands clasped on her knees, her
body leaning slightly forward, her hair, silvered over by age, could
be seen under the lace of her cap, her dress was neat and tasteful,
for she always took pride in her personal appearance.

She called us "petiots" meaning "little ones," and she took pleasure
in conversing with us. My father remonstrated with her because she
fondled us too much. "Mother," he would say, "you spoil the children,"
but she heeded not his words and fondled us the more. These details
are interesting to none but myself, and I dwell, perhaps, too long
upon them. Alas! I am an old man, reviewing the joys and sorrows of
my boyhood, and it seems to me that I have become once more a little
child when I speak of days gone by, and when I recall the memory of
those I loved so well and who are no more.

I shall now attempt to repeat the story of my grandmother's
misfortunes, and as she has related it to us time and again.



Chapter Two

 My Grandmother's
 Narrative

 _She Depicts Acadian Manners
 and Customs_


"Petiots," she said, "my native land is situated far, far away, up
north, and you would have to walk during many months to reach it; you
would have to cross rivers deep and wide, go over mountains looming up
thousands of feet, and beneath impending rocks, shadowing yawning
valleys; you would have to travel day and night, in endless forests,
among hostile Indians, seeking an opportunity to waylay and murder
you.

"My native land is called Acadia. It is a cold and desolate region
during winter, and snow covers the ground during several months of the
year. It is rocky, and huge and rugged stones lie strewn over the
surface of the ground in many places, and one must struggle hard for a
livelihood there, especially with the poor and meagre tools possessed
by my people. My country is not like yours, diversified by rolling and
gentle hills, covered the year round with a thick carpet of green
grass, and where every plant sprouts up and grows to maturity as if by
magic, and where one may enrich himself easily, provided he fears God
and is laborious and economical. Yet I grieve for my native land, with
its rocks and snows, because I have left there a part of my heart in
the graves of those I loved so well and who sleep under its sod."

And as she spoke thus, her eyes streamed with tears and emotion choked
her utterance.

"I have promised to give you an insight into the manners and customs
of your Acadian ancestors, and to tell you how it was that we left our
country as exiles to emigrate to Louisiana. I now keep my promise,
and will relate to you all that I know of our sad history:

"You must know, petiots, that less than a hundred years ago Acadia was
a French Province, whose people lived contented and happy. The king of
France sent brave officers to govern the province, and these officers
treated us with the greatest kindness; they were our arbiters and
adjusted all our differences, and so equitable were their decisions,
that they proved satisfactory to all. Is it strange, then, that being
thus situated we prospered and lived contented and happy? Little did
we then dream of what cruel fate had in store for us.

"Our manner of living in Acadia was peculiar, the people forming, as
it were, one single family. The province was divided into districts
inhabited by a certain number of families, among which the government
parceled out the land in tracts sufficiently large for their needs.
Those families grouping together formed small villages, or posts,
under the administration of commandants. No one was allowed to lead a
life of idleness, or to be a worthless member of the province. The
child worked as soon as he was old enough to do so, and he worked
until old age unfitted him for toil. The men tended the flocks and
tilled the land, and while they plowed the fields, the boys followed
them step by step, goading on the work-oxen. The wives and daughters
attended to the household work, and spun the wool and cotton which
they wove and manufactured into cloth with which to clothe the family.
The old people not over active and strong, like your grandmother," she
would add with a smile, "together with the infirm and invalids,
braided the straw with which we manufactured our hats; so that you
see, petiots, we had no drones, no useless loungers in our villages,
and every one lived the better for it.

"The land allotted to each district was divided into two unequal
parts; the larger portion was set apart as the tillage ground, and
then parceled out among the different families; and yet the clashing
of interests, resulting from that community of rights, never stirred
up any contentions among your Acadian ancestors.

"Although poor, they were honest and industrious, and they lived
contented with what little they had, without envying their neighbors,
and how could it be otherwise? If any one was unable to do his field
work because of illness, or of some other misfortune, his neighbors
flew to his assistance, and it required but a few days work, with
their combined efforts to weed his field and save his crop.

"Thus it was that, incited by noble and generous feeling, the
inhabitants of the province seemed to form one single family, and not
a community composed of separate families.

"These details, petiots, are tedious to you, and you would rather that
I should tell you stories more amusing and captivating."

"No, grandmother, we feel more and more interested in your narrative.
Speak to us of Acadia, your native land, which we already love for
your sake."

"Petiots," she said, "I love my Acadia, and you will learn to love it
also, when you shall have been made acquainted with the worth of its
honest and noble inhabitants; besides," added she, with a sad smile,
"the gloomy and sombre part of my story remains to be told. When you
shall have listened to it, you will then understand why it is that I
feel sad and weep, when the remembrances of the past come crowding in
my heart. But to resume, contiguous to the village ground lay the
pasture grounds, well fenced in, and which were known as the common.
In these grounds, the cattle of the colonists were kept, and thus
secured in that safe enclosure, our herds increased every year. Thus
you see, petiots, we lacked none of the comforts of life, and although
not wealthy, we were not in want, as our wishes were few and easily
satisfied.

"Plainness and simplicity of manners are the mainsprings of happiness,
and he that wishes for what he may never have or acquire, must be
miserable, indeed, and worthy of pity. Alas! that this simplicity of
our Acadian manners should have already degenerated into extravagance
and folly! Ah! the Acadians are losing, by degrees, the remembrance of
the traditions and customs of the mother country, the love of gold has
implanted itself in their hearts, and this will bring no happiness to
them. Ere you live to be as old as I," she would say shaking her head
mournfully, "you will find out that your grandmother is right in her
prediction.

"In Acadia, as we prized temperance, sobriety and simplicity of
manners more than riches, early marriages were highly favored. Early
marriages foster the virtues which give to man the only true
happiness, and from which he derives health and longevity.

"No obstacle was thrown in the way of a loving couple who desired to
marry. The lover accepted by the maiden obtained the ready consent of
the parents, and no one dreamed of inquiring whether the lover was a
man of means, or whether the destined bride brought a handsome dowry,
as we are wont to do nowadays. Their mutual choice proved satisfactory
to all, and, indeed, who better than they could mate their hearts,
when they alone were staking their happiness on the venture? and,
besides, it is not often that marriages founded on mutual love turn
out badly.

"The bans were published in the village church, and the old curate,
after admonishing them of the sacredness of the tie that bound them
forever, blessed their union, while the holy sacrifice of mass was
being said. Petiots, it is useless for me to describe the marriage
ceremony and the rejoicings attending the nuptials, as you have
witnessed the like here, but I will speak to you of an old Acadian
custom which prevails no more among us, one which we no longer
observe.

"As soon as the marriage of a young couple was determined, the men
of the village, after having built a cozy little home for them,
cleared and planted the land parceled out to them; and while they
so generously extended their aid and assistance, the women were not
laggards in their kindness to the bride. To her they made presents of
what they deemed most necessary for the comfort and utility of her
household, and all this was done and given with honest and willing
hearts.

"Everything was orderly and neat in the home of the happy couple, and
after the marriage ceremony in the church and the wedding feast at the
home of the bride's father, the happy couple were escorted to their
new home by the young men and the young maidens of the village. How
genial was the joy that warmed our hearts and brightened our souls on
these occasions; how noisy and light the gaiety of the young people;
how unalloyed their merriment and happiness!"



Chapter Three

 Rumors of War Disturb
 the Peace and Quiet

 _Of the Acadians_


"Thus far, petiots, I have briefly depicted to you the simple manners
and customs of the Acadians. I will now relate to you what befell
them, and how a cruel war sowed ruin and desolation in their homes. I
will tell you how they were ruthlessly treated by the English, driven
away from Acadia, and despoiled of all their worldly goods and
possessions; how they were scattered to the four winds as wretched
exiles, and how the very name of their country was blotted out of
existence. My narrative will not be gay, petiots, but it is meet and
proper that you should know these things, and that you should learn
them from the lips of the witnesses themselves.

"It was on a Sunday, I remember this as if it were but yesterday, we
were attending mass, and when our old curate ascended his pulpit, as
he was wont to do every Sunday, he announced to us that war was being
waged between France and England. 'My children,' said he in sad and
solemn tones, 'you may expect to witness awful scenes and to undergo
sore trials, but God will not forsake you if you put your trust in his
infinite mercy'; and then kneeling down, he prayed aloud for France,
and we all responded to his fervent voice, and said amen! from the
depths of our hearts. A painful silence prevailed in the little church
until mass was over; it seemed as if every one of us was attending the
funeral of a member of his family. As we left the church, the people
grouped themselves on all sides to discuss the sad news. There was no
dancing on the greensward in front of the little church that day,
petiots, and we retired mournfully and quietly to our homes.

"This intelligence troubled us, and we tried, in vain, to shake off
the gloom that darkened our souls. When we conversed together, the
words died on our lips, and our smiles had the sadness of a sob.

"Ah! Petiots, war, with its train of evils and of woes, is always
a terrible scourge, and it was but natural that we should ponder
mournfully on its consequences and dread the future. England had
enlisted hundreds of Indians in her armies, and we knew that the
bloodthirsty savages spared no one, and inflicted the most exquisite
tortures on their prisoners; they dreamed of nothing but incendiarism
and massacre, and these were the troops that were to be let loose upon
us. The mere thought of facing such fiends, was enough to dismay the
stoutest heart and to disturb the peace and quiet of a community like
ours. We knew not what to resolve, but, come what may, we were
determined to die, rather than become traitors to our King and to our
God.

"Then we argued ourselves into a different mood by thinking that this
news might, after all, be exaggerated, and that our apprehensions were
unfounded. Why should England wage war upon us? Acadia, so poor, so
desolate, so sparsely peopled, was surely not worth the shedding of a
single drop of blood for its conquest. The storm would pass by without
even ruffling our peace and tranquillity. We argued thus to rid
ourselves of the gloomy forebodings that troubled us, but despite our
endeavors, our fears haunted us and made us despondent and miserable.

"The news that reached us, now and then, were far from being
encouraging. France, whelmed in defeat, seemed to have abandoned us,
the English were gaining ground, and our Canadian brothers were
calling for assistance. Several of our young men resolved to join them
to fight the battles of France and to die for their country, if God so
willed it.

"Ah! Petiots, that was a sad day in the colony, and we all shed bitter
tears. The brave young men that were sacrificing their lives so nobly,
wept with us, but remained as firm as rocks in their resolve. We had,
at last, realized the fact that the threatening ruin was frowning upon
us, and that it had struck at our very hearts.

"On the day of their departure, the noble young men received the holy
communion, kneeling before the altar, and they listened to the
encouraging words of the old curate, while every one wept and sobbed
in the little church. After having told them to serve the king
faithfully and to love God above all else, he gave them his blessing,
while big tears rolled down his cheeks. Alas! how could he look upon
them without emotion and grief? He had christened them when they were
mere babes; he had watched them grow to manhood; he knew them as I
know you, and they were leaving their homes and those that they loved,
never, perhaps to return.

"They departed from St. Gabriel, sad but resolute, and as far as they
could be seen, marching off, they waved their handkerchiefs as a last
farewell. It was a cruel day to us, and from that moment, everything
grew from bad to worse in Acadia."



Chapter Four

 Threatening Clouds Overcast the
 Acadian Sky

 _The Elders of the Colony Meet in Council
 to Discuss the Situation_


"Six months passed away without our receiving the least intelligence
of what had become of our brave young men. This contributed, not a
little, to increase our uneasiness, and to sadden our thoughts, for
we felt in our hearts that they would never return. Our forebodings
proved too well founded," said my grandmother, with faltering voice,
"we have never ascertained their fate. We knew, however, that the war
was still progressing, and that the French were losing ground every
day. The English directed all their efforts against Canada, and seemed
to have lost sight of Acadia in the turmoil and fury of battle. In
spite of our anxiety and apprehensions, the peace and quiet of the
colony remained unruffled. Alas! we had been lulled to security by
deceitful hopes, and the storm that had swept along Canada, was
about to burst upon us with unchecked fury. Our day of trial had
dawned, and, doomed victims of a cruel fate, we were about to undergo
sufferings beyond human endurance, and to experience unparalleled
outrages and cruelties."

Our grandmother, at this point, was overcome by her emotion and hung
her head down. Awed into admiration, mingled with reverence, for her
noble sentiments and for the ardent love she still cherished for her
lost country, we gazed upon her in silence, and understood now why it
was that she always wept when she spoke of Acadia. Having mastered her
emotions, she brushed away her tears and resumed her narrative as
follows.

"Petiots," she said in a sweet sad tone, "your grandmother always
weeps when the remembrance of her sufferings and of her wrongs comes
back to her heart. She is an old woman and her tears soothe her grief.
Scars of a wounded heart never heal entirely, joy and happiness alone
leave no trace of their passage, as you shall learn hereafter. But why
should I speak thus to you? Soon enough you shall learn more from the
teachings of grim experience, than from all the sayings and maxims,
how wise and judicious soever they may be.

"It was bruited at St. Gabriel that the English were landing troops
in Acadia, whence came the rumor, no one could tell, and it would
have been impossible to trace it to its source, and yet, uncertain
as it was, it created considerable uneasiness in the community. Bad
news travels fast, petiots, and it looks as if some evil genius took
delight to despatch winged messengers to scatter the tidings broadcast
over the land. The rumor was confirmed in a manner as tragical as it
was unexpected.

"One morning, at dawn of day, a young man was lying unconscious on
the green near the church. His arm was shattered, and he had bled
profusely; it was with the greatest difficulty that we restored him to
life. When he opened his eyes his looks were wild and terrified, and,
despite his weakness, he made a desperate effort to rise and flee.

"We quieted him with friendly words, and he heaved a deep sigh of
satisfaction. He had a burning fever, and his parched lips quivered as
he muttered incoherent words. We removed him to the priest's house,
where his wounds were dressed, and when he had recovered from the
exhaustion occasioned by the loss of blood, he related to us what had
happened to him, and we listened to his words with breathless suspense
and anxiety.

"'The English', said he, 'have landed troops on the eastern coast
of Acadia, and are committing the most atrocious cruelties. Their
inhumanity surpasses belief. They pillage and burn our villages, and
even lay sacrilegious hands on the sacred vessels in our churches.
They tear the wives from their husbands, the children from their
parents, and they drive their ill-fated victims to the seashore, and
stow them on ships which sail immediately for unknown lands. They
spare only such as become traitors to their Faith and to their King.
They raided our village at dusk yesterday, and have perpetrated there
the same wanton outrages and cruelties. They reduced it to ashes, and
the least expostulation on our part exposed us to be shot down like
outlaws. They have driven its inhabitants to the seashore like cattle,
and when through sheer exhaustion, one of their victims fell by the
road side, I have seen the fiends compel him with the butts of their
muskets, to rise and walk. I have escaped, in the darkness of night,
with an arm shattered by a random shot, and I have run exhausted by
the loss of blood, I fell where you have found me. They will overrun
Acadia, and they will not spare you, my friends, if you show any
hostility to them. Your town will be raided shortly, and you cannot
resist them, my friends. Abandon your homes, and seek safety
elsewhere, while you have the time and chance to do so.'

"You may well imagine, petiots, that our trouble was great when we
heard this terrible news. We stood there, not knowing what to do,
although time was precious, and although it was necessary that we
should devise some plan for our safety and protection. In our
predicament and in so critical an emergency, our only alternative
was to apply to our old curate for advice.

"He gave us words of encouragement, and withdrew with our elders to
his room. We remained in the churchyard, grouped together and speaking
in whispers, our souls harrowed by the most gloomy and despairing
thoughts.

"Ah! Petiots, we often speak of a mortal hour, but the hour that
passed away while these men were holding counsel in the curate's room,
seemed to encompass a year's duration. Our happiness, our all, our
life itself, in fact, were at stake and turned on their decision,
and we awaited that decision in dreadful suspense. At last our
elders, accompanied by our old curate, sallied out of that house with
sorrowful countenances, but with steady step and firm resolve written
on their brows."



Chapter Five

 The Acadians Resolve to Leave
 Acadia as Exiles

 _Rather than submit to English rule--Before leaving
 St. Gabriel, they apply the torch to the houses,
 and it is swept away by the flames._


"Their countenance bespoke the gravity of the situation, far more
serious, indeed, than we then realized, and as they approached us, in
the deathlike silence that prevailed, we could distinctly hear the
throbbings of our hearts. We were impatient to learn our fate, and yet
we dreaded the disclosure. Our anxiety was of short duration, and one
of our elders spoke as follows. I repeat his very words, for as they
fell from his lips with the solemn sound of a funeral knell, they
became engraved upon my heart. 'My good friends,' said he, 'our hopes
were illusory and the future is big with ominous threats for us. A
cruel and relentless enemy is at our doors. The story of the wounded
man is true, the English are applying the torch to our villages, and
are spreading and scattering ruin as they advance. They spare neither
old age nor infirmity, neither women nor children, and are tender
hearted only to renegades and apostates. Are you ready to accept these
humiliating conditions, and to be branded as traitors and cowards?'

"'Never,' we answered; 'never! Rather proscription, ruin and death.'

"'My friends,' he added, 'exile is ruin; it is despair, it is
desolation. Pause a while and reflect, before forming your resolve.'

"Not one of us flinched, and without hesitancy, we all cried out:
'Rather than disown our mother country and become apostates, let
exile, let ruin, let death, be our lot.'

"'Your answer is noble and generous, my good friends, and your resolve
is sublime,' said he; 'then let exile be our lot. Many a one has
suffered even more than we shall suffer and for causes less saintly
than ours. Let us prepare for the worst, for to-day, we bid adieu
forever, perhaps to Acadia, to our homes, to the graves of those we
loved so well. We leave friendless and penniless for distant lands; we
leave for Louisiana, where we shall be free to honor and reverence
France, and to serve our God according to our belief. My good friends,
we barely have the time to prepare ourselves; to-night, we must be far
from St. Gabriel.'

"These words chilled our hearts. It seemed to us, that all this was a
dream, a frightful illusion, that clung to our hearts, to our souls;
and yet, without a tear, without a complaint, we resigned ourselves to
our fate.

"Ah! it was a cruel day to us, petiots. We were leaving Acadia, we
were abandoning the homes where our children were born and raised, we
were leaving as malefactors, without one ray of hope to lighten our
dark future, and it seemed to us that poor, desolate Acadia was dearer
to us, now that we were forced to leave her forever. Everything that
we saw, every object that we touched, recalled to our hearts some
sweet remembrance of days gone by. Our whole life seemed centered in
the furniture of our desolate homes; in the flowers that decked our
gardens; in the very trees that shaded our yards. They whispered to
us ditties of our blithe childhood; they recalled to us the glowing
dreams of our adolescence illumined with their fleeting illusions;
they spoke to us of the hopes and happiness of our maturer years; they
had been the mute witnesses of our joys and of our sorrows, and we
were leaving them forever. As we gazed upon them, we wept bitterly,
and in our despair, we felt as if the sacrifice was beyond our
strength. But our sense of duty nerved us, and the terrible ordeal we
were undergoing did not shake our resolve, and submitting to the will
of God, we preferred exile and poverty, with their train of woes and
humiliations, before dishonoring ourselves by becoming traitors and
renegades.

"In the course of the day our grief increased, and the scenes that
took place were heart-rending. I never recall them without shuddering.

"Our people, so meek, so peaceable, became frenzied with despair. The
women and children wandered from house to house, wailing and uttering
piercing cries. Every object of spoil was destroyed, and the torch was
applied to the houses. The fire, fanned by a too willing breeze,
spread rapidly, and in a moment's time, St. Gabriel was wrapt in a
lurid sheet of devouring flames. We could hear the cracking of planks
tortured by the blaze; the crash of falling roofs, while the flames
shot up to an immense height with the hissing and soughing of a
hurricane. Ah! Petiots, it was a fair image of pandemonium. The people
seemed an army of fiends, spreading ruin and desolation in their
path. The work-oxen were killed, and a few among us, with the hope of
a speedy return to Acadia, threw our silverware into the wells. Oh,
the ruin, the ruin, petiots; it was horrible.

"We left St. Gabriel numbering about three hundred, whilst the ashes
of our burning houses, carried by the wind, whirled past us like a
pillar of light to guide our faltering steps through the wilderness
that stretched before us."



Chapter Six

 A Night of Terror and of Misery. The
 Exiles are Captured by the
 English Soldiery

 _Driven to the seashore and embarked for deportation--They
 are thrown as cast-aways on the Maryland
 shores--The hospitality and generosity
 of Charles Smith and of Henry Brent_


"As darkness came, we cast a sad look toward the spot where our
peaceful and happy St. Gabriel once stood. Alas, we could see nothing
but the crimson sky reflecting the lurid glare of the flames that
devoured our Acadian villages.

"Not a word fell from our lips as we journeyed slowly on, and as night
came its darkness increased our misery, and such was our dejection,
that we would have faced death without a shudder.

"At last we halted in a deep ravine shadowed by projecting rocks, and
we sat down to rest our weary limbs. We built no fires and spoke only
in whispers, fearing that the blazing fire, that the least sound
might betray us in our place of concealment; with hearts failing,
oppressed with gloomy forebodings, the events of the day seemed to us
a frightful dream.

"Oh! that it only had been a dream, petiots! Alas! it was a sad
reality, and yet in our wretchedness, we could hardly realize that
these events had actually happened.

"Our elders had withdrawn a few paces away from us to decide on the
best course to pursue, for, in the hurry of our departure, no plan of
action had been decided upon, our main object being to escape the
outrages and ill-treatment of a merciless and cruel soldiery. It was
decided to reach Canada the best way we could, after which, after
crossing the great northern lakes, our journey was to be overland
to the Mississippi river, on whose waters we would float down to
Louisiana, a French colony inhabited by people of our own race, and
professing the same religious creed as ours.

"But to carry out this plan, petiots, we had to travel thousands of
miles through a country barren of civilization, through endless
forests, and across lakes as wide and deep as the sea; we were to
overcome obstacles without number and to encounter dangers and
hardships at every step, and yet we remained firm in our resolve. It
was exile with its train of woes and of misery; it was, perhaps, death
for many of us, but we submitted to our fate, sacrificing our all in
this world for our religion, and for the love of France.

"We knelt down to implore the aid and protection of God in the many
dangers that beset us, and, trusting in His kind Providence, we lay
down on the bare ground to sleep.

"As you may imagine, petiots, no one, save the little children slept
that night. We were in a state of mental anguish so agonizing that the
hours passed away without bringing the sweet repose of a refreshing
sleep.

"When the moon rose, dispelling by degrees the darkness of night, we
again pursued our journey. We made the least noise possible as we
advanced cautiously, our fears and apprehensions increasing at every
step. All at once our column halted; a deathlike silence prevailed,
and our hearts beat tumultuously within us. Was it the beat of the
drum that had startled us? No one could tell. We listened with
eagerness, but the sound had died away, and the stillness of night
remained undisturbed. Our anxiety became intense. Was the enemy in
pursuit of us? We remained in painful suspense, not knowing what
danger lurked ahead of us. The few minutes that succeeded seemed as
long as a whole year. We drew close together and whispered our
apprehensions to one another. We moved on slowly, our footsteps
falling noiselessly on the roadway, while we strained our eyes to
pierce the shadows of night to discover the cause of our fears. The
sound that had startled us was no more heard, and somewhat
encouraged, our uneasiness grew less.

"We had not advanced two hundred yards when we were halted by a
company of English soldiers. Ah! Petiots, our doom was sealed. We were
in a narrow path surrounded by the enemy, without the possibility of
escape. How shall I describe what followed. The women wrung their
hands and sobbed piteously in their despair. The children, terrified,
uttered shrill and piercing cries, while the men, goaded to madness,
vented their rage in hurried exclamations, and were determined to sell
their lives as dearly as possible.

"After a while, the tumult subsided, and order was somewhat restored.

"The officer in command approached us; 'Acadians,' said he, 'you have
fled from your homes after having reduced them to ashes; you have used
seditious language against England, and we find you here, in the
depth of night, congregated and conspiring against the king, our liege
lord and sovereign. You are traitors and you should be treated as
such, but in his clemency, the king offers his pardon to all who will
swear fealty and allegiance to him.'

"'Sir,' answered Rene Leblanc, under whose guidance we had left St.
Gabriel, 'our king is the king of France, and we are not traitors to
the king of England whose subjects we are not. If by the force of arms
you have conquered this country, we are willing to recognize your
supremacy, but we are not willing to submit to English rule, and for
that reason, we have abandoned our homes to emigrate to Louisiana, to
seek there, under the protection of the French flag, the quiet and
peace and happiness we have enjoyed here.'

"The officer who had listened with folded arms to the noble words of
Rene Leblanc, replied with a scowl of hatred: 'To Louisiana you wish
to go? To Louisiana you shall go, and seek in vain, under the French
flag, that protection you have failed to receive from it in Canada.
Soldiers,' he added, with a smile that made us shudder, 'escort these
worthy patriots to the seashore, where transportation will be given
them free in his majesty's ships.'

"These words sounded like a death knell to us; we saw plainly that our
doom was sealed, and that we were undone forever, and yet, in the
bitterness of our misfortune, we uttered no word of expostulation,
and submitted to our fate without complaint. They treated us most
brutally, and had no regard either for age or for sex. They drove us
back through the forest to the seashore, where their ships were
anchored, and stowing the greater number of our party in one of their
ships, they weighed anchor, and she set sail. The balance of our
people had been embarked on another vessel which had departed in
advance of ours.

"Is it necessary, petiots, that I should speak to you of our despair
when thus torn from our relatives and friends, when we saw ourselves
cooped up in the hull of that ship as malefactors? Is it necessary
that I should describe the horror of our plight, our sufferings, our
mental anguish during the many days that our voyage on the sea lasted?

"This can be more easily imagined than depicted. We were huddled in a
space scarcely large enough to contain us. The air rarefied by our
breathing became unwholesome and oppressive; we could not lie down
to rest our weary limbs. With but scant food, with the water given
grudgingly to us, barely enough to wet our parched lips; with no one
to care for us, you can well imagine that our sufferings became
unbearable. Yet, when we expostulated with our jailers, and complained
bitterly of the excess of our woes, it seemed to rejoice them. They
derided us, called us noble patriots, stubborn French people and
papists; epithets that went right to our hearts, and added to our
misery.

"At last our ship was anchored, and we were told that we had
reached the place of our destination. Was it Louisiana? we inquired.
Rude scoffs and sharp invectives were their only answer. We were
disembarked with the same ruthless brutality with which we had been
dragged to their ship. They landed us on a precipitous and rocky
shore, and leaving us a few rations, saluted us in derision with their
caps and bidding farewell to the noble patriots, as they called us.
Our anguish, at that moment, can hardly be conceived. We were outcasts
in a strange land; we were friendless and penniless, with a few
rations thrown to us as to dogs. The sun had now set, and we were in
an agony of despair.

"Our only hope rested in the mercy of a kind Providence, and with
hearts too full for utterance, we knelt down with one accord and
silently besought the Lord of Hosts to vouchsafe to us that pity and
protection which he gives to the most abject of his creatures. Never
was a more heartfelt prayer wafted to God's throne. When we arose,
hope, once more smiling to us, irradiated our souls and dispelled, as
if by magic, the gloom that had settled in our hearts. We felt that
none but noble causes lead to martyrdom, and we looked upon ourselves
as martyrs of a saintly cause, and with a clear conscience, we lay
down to sleep under the blue canopy of the heavens.

"The dawn of day found us scattered in groups, discussing the course
we were to pursue, and our hearts grew faint anew at the thought of
the unknown trials that awaited us.

"At that moment, we spied two horsemen approaching our camp. Our
hearts fluttered with emotion. The incident, simple as it was, proved
to be of great importance to us. We felt as if Providence had not
forsaken us, and that the two horsemen, heralds of peace and joy, were
his messengers of love in our sore trials.

"We were not mistaken, petiots. When the cavaliers alighted, they
addressed us in English, but in words so soft and kind, that the sound
of the hated language did not grate on our ears, and seemed as sweet
as that of our own tongue. They bowed gracefully to us, and introduced
themselves as Charles Smith and Henry Brent. 'We are informed,' said
they, 'that you are exiles, and that you have been cast penniless on
our shores. We have come to greet you, and to welcome you to the
hospitality of our roofs.' These kind words sank deep in our hearts.
'Good sirs,' answered Rene Leblanc, 'you behold a wretched people
bereft of their homes and whose only crime is their love for France
and their devotion to the Catholic faith,' and saying this, he raised
his hat, and every man of our party did the same. 'We thank you
heartily for your greeting and for your hospitality so generously
tendered. See, we number over two hundred persons, and it would be
taxing your generosity too heavily, no one but a king could accomplish
your noble design.'

"'Sir,' they answered, 'we are citizens of Maryland, and we own large
estates. We have everything in abundance at our homes, and this
abundance we are willing to share with you. Accept our offer, and the
Brent and Smith families will ever be grateful to God, who has given
them the means to minister to your wants, assuage your afflictions and
soothe your sorrows.'

"How could we decline an offer so generously made? It was impossible
for us to find words expressive of our gratitude. Unable to utter a
single word, we shook hands with them, but our silence was far more
eloquent than any language we could have used."



Chapter Seven

 Assisted by Their Generous
 Friends

 _The Acadians become prosperous, but yearn to rejoin
 their friends and relatives in Louisiana_


"The same day, we moved to their farms, which lay near by, and I shall
never forget the kind welcome we received from these two families.
They vied with each other in their kind offices toward us, and
ministered to our wants with so much grace and affability, that it
gave additional charm and value to their already boundless
hospitality.

"Petiots, let the names of Brent and of Smith remain enchased forever
like precious jewels in your hearts, let their remembrance never fade
from your memory, for more generous and worthier beings never breathed
the pure air of heaven.

[Illustration: _Catholic Church, St. Martinsville, La._]

"Thus it was, petiots, that we settled in Maryland after leaving
Acadia.

"Three years passed away peacefully and happily, and during the whole
of that time, the Smith and Brent families remained our steadfast
friends. Our party had prospered, and plenty smiled once more in
our homes. We lived as happy as exiles could live away from the
fatherland, ignorant of the fate of those who had been torn from us
 soruthlessly. In vain we had endeavored to ascertain the lot of
our friends and relatives, and what had become of them; we could
learn nothing. Many parents wept for their lost children; many a
disconsolate wife pined away in sorrow and hopeless grief for a
lost husband; but, petiots, the saddest of all was the fate of
poor Emmeline Labiche."

Emmeline Labiche? Who was Emmeline Labiche? We had never heard her
name mentioned before, and our curiosity was excited to the highest
pitch.



Chapter Eight

 _The_ True Story
 _of
 Evangeline_


"Emmeline Labiche, petiots, was an orphan whose parents had died when
she was quite a child. I had taken her to my home, and had raised her
as my own daughter. How sweet-tempered, how loving she was! She had
grown to womanhood with all the attractions of her sex, and, although
not a beauty in the sense usually given to that word, she was looked
upon as the handsomest girl of St. Gabriel. Her soft, transparent
hazel eyes mirrored her pure thoughts; her dark brown hair waved in
graceful undulations on her intelligent forehead, and fell in ringlets
on her shoulders, her bewitching smile, her slender, symmetrical
shape, all contributed to make her a most attractive picture of maiden
loveliness.

[Illustration: _Evangeline_
               By Edwin Douglas]

"Emmeline, who had just completed her sixteenth year, was on the eve
of marrying a most deserving, laborious and well-to-do young man of
St. Gabriel, Louis Arceneaux. Their mutual love dated from their
earliest years, and all agreed that Providence willed their union as
man and wife, she the fairest young maiden, he the most deserving
youth of St. Gabriel.

"Their bans had been published in the village church, the nuptial day
was fixed, and their long love-dream was about to be realized, when
the barbarous scattering of our colony took place.

"Our oppressors had driven us to the seashore, where their ships
rode at anchor, when Louis, resisting, was brutally wounded by them.
Emmeline had witnessed the whole scene. Her lover was carried on board
of one of the ships, the anchor was weighed, and a stiff breeze soon
drove the vessel out of sight. Emmeline, tearless and speechless,
stood fixed to the spot, motionless as a statue, and when the white
sail vanished in the distance, she uttered a wild, piercing shriek,
and fell fainting to the ground.

"When she came to, she clasped me in her arms, and in an agony of
grief, she sobbed piteously. 'Mother, mother,' she said, in broken
words, 'he is gone; they have killed him; what will become of me?'

"I soothed her grief with endearing words until she wept freely.
Gradually its violence subsided, but the sadness of her countenance
betokened the sorrow that preyed on her heart, never to be
contaminated by her love for another one.

"Thus she lived in our midst, always sweet tempered, but with such
sadness depicted in her countenance, and with smiles so sorrowful,
that we had come to look upon her as not of this earth, but rather as
our guardian angel, and this is why we called her no longer Emmeline,
but Evangeline, or God's little angel.

"The sequel of her story is not gay, petiots, and my poor old heart
breaks, whenever I recall the misery of her fate," and while our
grandmother spoke thus, her whole figure was tremulous with emotion.

"Grandmother," we said, "we feel so interested in Evangeline, God's
little angel, do tell us what befell her afterwards."

"Petiots, how can I refuse to comply with your request? I will now
tell you what became of poor Emmeline," and after remaining a while in
thoughtful revery, she resumed her narrative.

"Emmeline, petiots, had been exiled to Maryland with me. She was, as I
have told you, my adopted child. She dwelt with me, and she followed
me in my long pilgrimage from Maryland to Louisiana. I shall not
relate to you now the many dangers that beset us on our journey, and
the many obstacles we had to overcome to reach Louisiana; this would
be anticipating what remains for me to tell you. When we reached the
Teche country, at the Poste des Attakapas, we found there the whole
population congregated to welcome us. As we went ashore, Emmeline
walked by my side, but seemed not to admire the beautiful landscape
that unfolded itself to our gaze. Alas! it was of no moment to her
whether she strolled on the poetical banks of the Teche, or rambled
in the picturesque sites of Maryland. She lived in the past, and her
soul was absorbed in the mournful regret of that past. For her, the
universe had lost the prestige of its beauties, of its freshness, of
its splendors. The radiance of her dreams was dimmed, and she breathed
in an atmosphere of darkness and of desolation.

"She walked beside me with a measured step. All at once, she grasped
my hand, and, as if fascinated by some vision, she stood rooted to
the spot. Her very heart's blood suffused her cheeks, and with the
silvery tones of a voice vibrating with joy: 'Mother! Mother!' she
cried out, 'it is he! It is Louis!' pointing to the tall figure of a
man reclining under a large oak tree.

"That man was Louis Arceneaux.

"With the rapidity of lightning, she flew to his side, and in an
ecstacy of joy: 'Louis, Louis,' said she, 'I am your Emmeline, your
long lost Emmeline! Have you forgotten me?'

"Louis turned ashy pale and hung down his head, without uttering a
word.

"'Louis," said she, painfully impressed by her lover's silence and
coldness, 'why do you turn away from me? I am still your Emmeline,
your betrothed, and I have kept pure and unsullied my plighted faith
to you. Not a word of welcome, Louis?' she said, as the tears started
to her eyes. 'Tell me, do tell me that you love me still, and that the
joy of meeting me has overcome you, and stifled your utterance.'

[Illustration: _The Evangeline Oak_
               Near the "Poste des Attakapas"]

"Louis Arceneaux, with quivering lips and tremulous voice, answered:
'Emmeline, speak not so kindly to me, for I am unworthy of you. I can
love you no longer; I have pledged my faith to another. Tear from your
heart the remembrance of the past, and forgive me,' and with quick
step, he walked away, and was soon lost to view in the forest.

"Poor Emmeline stood trembling like an aspen leaf. I took her hand; it
was icy cold. A deathly pallor had overspread her countenance, and her
eye had a vacant stare.

"'Emmeline, my dear girl, come,' said I, and she followed me like a
child. I clasped her in my arms. 'Emmeline, my dear child, be
comforted; there may yet be happiness in store for you.'

"'Emmeline, Emmeline,' she muttered in an undertone, as if to recall
that name, 'who is Emmeline?' Then looking in my face with fearful
shining eyes that made me shudder, she said in a strange, unnatural
voice: 'Who are you?' and turned away from me. Her mind was unhinged;
this last shock had been too much for her broken heart; she was
hopelessly insane.

"How strange it is, petiots, that beings, pure and celestial like
Emmeline, should be the sport of fate, and be thus exposed to the
shafts of adversity. Is it true, then, that the beloved of God are
always visited by sore trials? Was it that Emmeline was too ethereal
a being for this world, and that God would have her in his sweet
paradise? It does not belong to us, petiots, to solve this mystery
and to scrutinize the decrees of Providence; we have only to bow
submissive to his will.

"Emmeline never recovered her reason, and a deep melancholy settled
upon her. Her beautiful countenance was fitfully lightened by a sad
smile which made her all the fairer. She never recognized any one but
me, and nestling in my arms like a spoiled child, she would give me
the most endearing names. As sweet and as amiable as ever, every one
pitied and loved her.

"When poor, crazed Emmeline strolled upon the banks of the Teche,
plucking the wild flowers that strewed her pathway, and singing in
soft tones some Acadian song, those that met her wondered why so fair
and gentle a being should have been visited with God's wrath.

"She spoke of Acadia and of Louis in such loving words, that no one
could listen to her without shedding tears. She fancied herself still
the girl of sixteen years, on the eve of marrying the chosen one of
her heart, whom she loved with such constancy and devotion, and
imagining that her marriage bells tolled from the village church
tower, her countenance would brighten, and her frame trembled with
ecstatic joy. And then, in a sudden transition from joy to despair,
her countenance would change and, trembling convulsively, gasping,
struggling for utterance, and pointing her finger at some invisible
object, in shrill and piercing accents, she would cry out: 'Mother,
mother, he is gone; they have killed him; what will become of me?' And
uttering a wild, unnatural shriek, she would fall senseless in my
arms.

"Sinking at last under the ravages of her mental disease, she expired
in my arms without a struggle, and with an angelic smile on her lips.

"She now sleeps in her quiet grave, shadowed by the tall oak tree near
the little church at the Poste des Attakapas, and her grave has been
kept green and flower-strewn as long as your grandmother has been able
to visit it. Ah! petiots, how sad was the fate of poor Emmeline,
Evangeline, God's little angel."

And burying her face in her hands, grandmother wept and sobbed
bitterly. Our hearts swelled also with emotion, and sympathetic tears
rolled down our cheeks. We withdrew softly and left dear grandmother
alone, to think of and weep for her Evangeline, God's little angel.



Chapter Nine

 The Acadians leave Maryland
 to go to Louisiana

 _Their perilous and weary journey overland--Death of
 Rene Leblanc. They arrive safely in Louisiana
 and settle in the Attakapas region on the
 Teche and Vermillion Bayous_


"As I have already told you, petiots, during three years, we had lived
contented and happy in Maryland, when we received tidings that a
number of Acadians, exiles like us, had settled in Louisiana, where
they were prospering and retrieving their lost fortunes under the
fostering care of the French government.

"This news which threw us in a flutter, engrossed our minds so
completely, that we spoke of nothing else. It gave rise to the most
extravagant conjectures, and the hope of seeing, once more, the dear
ones torn so cruelly from us, was revived in our hearts. This news
was deficient, however, in one respect: it left us ignorant of the
fate of those who, like us, had been exiled from St. Gabriel.

"That uncertainty cast a gloom over our hopes which marred our joy and
happiness, and increased our anxiety.

"Our suspense became unbearable, and we finally discussed seriously
the expediency of emigrating to Louisiana. The more timid among us
represented the temerity and folly of such an undertaking, but the
desire to seek our brother exiles grew keener every day, and became so
deeply rooted in our minds, that we concluded to leave for Louisiana,
where the banner of France waved over true French hearts.

"We announced our determination to our benefactors, the Brent and
Smith families, and, undismayed by the perils that awaited us, and the
obstacles we had to overcome, we prepared for our pilgrimage from
Maryland to Louisiana.

"Our friends used all their eloquence to dissuade us from our resolve,
but we resisted all their entreaties, although we were deeply touched
by this new proof of their friendship. We disposed of the articles
that we could not carry along with us, and kept our wagons and horses
to transport the women and children, and the baggage. In all, we
numbered two hundred persons, and of these, fifty were well armed, and
ready to face any danger.

"We journeyed slowly; the wagons moved in the centre, while twenty men
in advance, and as many in the rear marched four abreast. Ten of the
bravest and most active of our young men took the lead a short
distance ahead of the column, and formed our advance guard. Our forces
were distributed in this wise, petiots, for our safety, as the road
lay through mountain defiles, and in a wild and dreary country
inhabited by Indians.

"We secured, as scouts and guides, two Indians well known to the Brent
family, and in whom, we were told, we could place the most implicit
confidence. We had occasion, more than once, to find how fortunate we
had been to secure their services. We set out on our journey with
sorrow. We were parting with friends kind and generous; friends who
had relieved us in our needs, and who had proved true as steel, and
loving as brothers. We were parting from them, lured with hopes which
might prove illusory, and when we grasped their hands in a last
farewell, words failed us, and our tears and sobs told them of our
gratitude for the benefits they had, so generously, showered upon us.
They, too, wept, touched to the heart by the eloquent, though mute,
expression of our gratitude. Their last words, were words of love,
glowing with a fervent wish that our cherished hopes might be
realized.

"We set out in a westerly direction, and we had soon lost sight of the
hospitable roofs of the Brent and Smith families. We again felt that
we were, once more, poor wandering exiles roaming through the world
in search of a home.

"Our journey, petiots, was slow and tedious, for a thousand obstacles
impeded our progress. We encountered deep and rapid streams that we
could not cross for want of boats; we traveled through mountain
defiles, where the pathway was narrow and dangerous, winding over hill
and dale and over craggy steeps, where one false step might hurl us
down into the yawning chasm below. We suffered from storms and pelting
rains, and at night when we halted to rest our weary limbs, we had
only the light canvass of our tents to shelter us from the inclemency
of the weather.

"Ah! petiots, we were undergoing sore trials! But we were lulled by
the hope that far, far away in Louisiana, our dreamland, we would find
our kith and kin. That radiant hope illumined our pathway; it shone as
a beacon light on which we kept our eyes riveted, and it steeled our
hearts against sufferings and privations almost too great to be borne
otherwise.

"Thus we advanced fearlessly, aye, almost cheerfully, and at night,
when we pitched our tents in some solitary spot, our Acadian songs
broke the silence and loneliness of the solitude, and, as the gentle
wind wafted them over the hills, the light couplets were re-echoed
back to us so clearly and so distinctly, that it seemed the voice of
some friend repeating them in the distance.

"As long as we journeyed in Virginia, barring the obstacles presented
by the roads of a country diversified by hill and dale, our progress,
though slow, was satisfactory. The people were generous, and supplied
us with an abundance of provisions. But when the white population grew
sparser and sparser, and when we reached the wild and mountainous
country which, we were told, bore the name of Carolina, then, petiots,
it required a stout heart and firm resolve, indeed, not to abandon the
attempt to reach Louisiana by the overland route we were following.

"During days and weeks, we had to march slowly and tediously through
endless forests, cutting our way across undergrowth so thick, as to be
almost impervious to light, brushwood where a cruel enemy might lay
concealed in ambush to murder us, for we were now in the very heart
of the Indian country, and the savages followed us, stealthily, day
and night. We could see them with their tattooed faces and hideous
headgear of feathers, frightful in appearance, lurking around in the
forest, and watching our movements. We were always on the alert,
expecting an attack at any moment, for we could distinctly hear their
whoops and fierce yells.

"Ah! Petiots, it was then that our mental and bodily anguish became
extreme, and that the stoutest heart grew faint under the pressure of
such accumulated woes. Our nights were sleepless, and, careworn and on
the verge of starvation, we moved steadily onward, the very picture
of dejection and of despair. Thus we toiled on day after day, and
night after night, during two long weary months on our seemingly
endless journey, until, disspirited and disheartened, our courage
failed us.

"It was a dark hour, full of alarming forebodings, and we witnessed
the depression of our brother exiles with sorrow and apprehension.

"But a kind Providence watched over us. God tempereth the wind to
the shorn lamb. The hope of finding our lost kindred stimulated our
drooping spirits. We had been told that Louisiana was a land of
enchantment, where a perpetual spring reigned. A land where the soil
was extremely fertile; where the climate was so genial and temperate,
and the sky so serene and azure, as to justly deserve the name of Eden
of America. It smiled to us in the distance like the promised land,
and toward that land we bent our weary steps, longing for the day when
we would tread its soil, and breathe once more the pure air in which
floated the banner of France.

"At last we reached the Tennessee river, where it curves gracefully
around the base of a mountain looming up hundreds of feet. Its banks
were rocky and precipitous, falling straight down at least fifty
feet, and we could see, in the chasm below, its waters that flowed
majestically on in their course toward the grand old Meschacebe. It
was out of the question to cross the river there, and we followed the
roadway on its banks around the mountain, advancing cautiously to
avoid the danger that threatened us at every step.

"That night, we slept in a large natural cave on the very brink of the
precipice by the river. At dawn of day we resumed our march, and as we
advanced, the country became more and more level, and after four days
of toil and fatigue, we halted and camped on a hill by the riverside,
where a small creek runs into the river. We met there a party of
Canadian hunters and trappers who gave us a friendly welcome, and
replenished our store of provisions with game and venison. They
informed us that the easiest and least wearisome way to reach
Louisiana was to float down the Tennessee and Meschacebe rivers. The
plan suggested by them was adopted, and the men of our party, aided
by our Canadian friends, felled trees to build a suitable boat.

"There, petiots, a great misfortune befell us. We experienced a
great loss in the death of Rene Leblanc, who had been our leader and
adviser in the hours of our sore trials. Old age had shattered his
constitution, and unequal to the fatigues of our long pilgrimage, he
pined away, and sank into his grave without a word of complaint. He
died the death of a hero and of a Christian, consoling us as we wept
beside him, and cheering us in our troubles. His death afflicted us
sorely, and the night during which he lay exposed, preparatory to his
burial, the silence was unbroken, in our camp, save by our whispered
words, as if we feared to disturb the slumbers of the great and good
man that slept the eternal sleep. We buried him at the foot of the
hill, in a grove of walnut trees. We carved his name with a cross over
it on the bark of the tree sheltering his grave, and after having said
the prayers for the dead, we closed his grave, wet with the tears of
those he had loved so well.

"My narrative has not been gay, petiots, but the gloom that darkened
it will now be dispelled by the radiant sunshine of joy and of
happiness.

"Our boat was unwieldy, but it served our purpose well. We stored in
it our baggage and supplies; we sold our horses and wagons to our
Canadian friends, and taking leave of our Indian guides, we cut loose
the moorings of the boat. We floated down stream, our young men
rowing, and singing Acadian songs.

"Nothing of importance happened to us after our embarkment, petiots.
During the day, we traveled, and at night, we moored our boat safely,
and encamped on the banks of the river. At last we launched on the
turbulent waters of the Mississippi and floated down that noble stream
as far as Bayou Plaquemines, in Louisiana, where we landed. Once more
we were treading French soil, and we were freed from English dominion.

"As the tidings of our arrival spread abroad, a great number of
Acadian exiles flocked to our camp to greet and welcome us. Ah!
petiots, how can I describe our joy and rapture, when we recognized
countenances familiar to us. Grasping their hands, with hearts too
full for utterance, we wept like children. Many a sorrowing heart
revived to love and happiness on that day. Many a wife pressed to her
bosom a long lost husband. Many a fond parent clasped in rapturous
embrace a loving child. Ah! such a moment repaid us a thousandfold for
all our sufferings and privations, and we spent the day in
rejoicing, conviviality and merriment.

[Illustration: _Interior, Catholic Church, St. Martinsville, La._]

"The sequel of my story will be quickly told, petiots. Shortly
afterwards, we left for the Teche region, where lands had been granted
to us by the government. We wended our way, to our destined homes,
through dismal swamps, through bayous without number and across lakes
until we reached Portage Sauvage, at Fausse Pointe. The next day, we
were at the Poste des Attakapas, a small hamlet having two or three
houses, one store and a small wooden church, situated on Bayou Teche
which we crossed in a boat.

"There, the several Acadians separated to settle on the lands granted
to them.

"You must not imagine, petiots, that the Teche region was, at that
time, dotted all over like nowadays with thriving farms, elegant
houses and handsome villages. No, petiots, it required the nerve
and perseverance of your Acadian fathers to settle there. Although
beautiful and picturesque, it was a wild region inhabited, mostly, by
Indians and by a few white men, trappers and hunters by occupation.
Its immense prairies, covered with weeds as tall as you, were the
commons where herds of cattle and of deer roamed unmolested, save
by the hunter and the panther. Such was the region your ancestors
settled, and which, by their energy, they have transformed into a
garden teeming with wealth.

"The Acadians enriched themselves in a country where no one will
starve if he is industrious, and where one may easily become rich if
he fears God, and if he is economical and orderly in his affairs.

"Petiots, I have kept my promise, and my tale is told. Your Acadian
fathers were martyrs in a noble cause, and you should always be proud
to be the sons of martyrs and of men of principle."

"Grandmother," we said, as we kissed her fondly, "your words have
fallen in willing and loving hearts, and they will bear fruit. We are
proud now of being called Acadians, for there never was any people
more noble, more devoted to duty and more patriotic than the Acadians
who became exiles, and who braved death itself, rather than renounce
their faith, their king and their country."

                         [FINIS]



     Acknowledgement is made of the kindness of Rev. A. T.
     Kempton, Lecturer on Evangeline; Rev. George W. Brooks, an
     authority on Acadian history, and The Soule Art Publishing
     Company, in loaning us photographs for illustrating this
     book.



      *      *      *      *      *      *



Transcriber's note:

Punctuation around quotations was very erratic in this book--this
has been made more uniform. Otherwise, every effort has been made
to remain true to the original spellings and the author's words
and intent.





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