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Devious Maids - Nigh...

Under the open sky, in the odorous air of the orchard,Stript of its golden fruit, was spread the feast of betrothal.There in the shade of the porch were the priest and the notary seated;There good Benedict sat, and sturdy Basil the blacksmith.Not far withdrawn from these, by the cider-press and the beehives,Michael the fiddler was placed, with the gayest of hearts and of waistcoats.Shadow and light from the leaves alternately played on his snow-whiteHair, as it waved in the wind; and the jolly face of the fiddlerGlowed like a living coal when the ashes are blown from the embers.Gayly the old man sang to the vibrant sound of his fiddle,Tous les Bourgeois de Chartres, and Le Carillon de Dunkerque,And anon with his wooden shoes beat time to the music.Merrily, merrily whirled the wheels of the dizzying dancesUnder the orchard-trees and down the path to the meadows;Old folk and young together, and children mingled among them.Fairest of all the maids was Evangeline, Benedict's daughter!Noblest of all the youths was Gabriel, son of the blacksmith!

Devious Maids - Nigh...

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Four times the sun had risen and set; and now on the fifth dayCheerily called the cock to the sleeping maids of the farm-house.Soon o'er the yellow fields, in silent and mournful procession,Came from the neighboring hamlets and farms the Acadian women,Driving in ponderous wains their household goods to the sea-shore,Pausing and looking back to gaze once more on their dwellings,Ere they were shut from sight by the winding road and the woodland.Close at their sides their children ran, and urged on the oxen,While in their little hands they clasped some fragments of playthings.

Far in the West there lies a desert land, where the mountainsLift, through perpetual snows, their lofty and luminous summits.Down from their jagged, deep ravines, where the gorge, like a gateway,Opens a passage rude to the wheels of the emigrant's wagon,Westward the Oregon flows and the Walleway and Owyhee.Eastward, with devious course, among the Wind-river Mountains,Through the Sweet-water Valley precipitate leaps the Nebraska;And to the south, from Fontaine-qui-bout and the Spanish sierras,Fretted with sands and rocks, and swept by the wind of the desert,Numberless torrents, with ceaseless sound, descend to the ocean,Like the great chords of a harp, in loud and solemn vibrations.Spreading between these streams are the wondrous, beautiful prairies,Billowy bays of grass ever rolling in shadow and sunshine,Bright with luxuriant clusters of roses and purple amorphas.Over them wandered the buffalo herds, and the elk and the roebuck;Over them wandered the wolves, and herds of riderless horses;Fires that blast and blight, and winds that are weary with travel;Over them wander the scattered tribes of Ishmael's children,Staining the desert with blood; and above their terrible war-trailsCircles and sails aloft, on pinions majestic, the vulture,Like the implacable soul of a chieftain slaughtered in battle,By invisible stairs ascending and scaling the heavens.Here and there rise smokes from the camps of these savage marauders;Here and there rise groves from the margins of swift-running rivers;And the grim, taciturn bear, the anchorite monk of the desert,Climbs down their dark ravines to dig for roots by the brook-side,And over all is the sky, the clear and crystalline heaven,Like the protecting hand of God inverted above them.

Man and horse were littered with leaves and dusted with yellow pollen, for the open was ventured no more than was compulsory. They kept to the brush and trees, and invariably the man halted and peered out before crossing a dry glade or naked stretch of upland pasturage. He worked always to the north, though his way was devious, and it was from the north that he seemed most to apprehend that for which he was looking. He was no coward, but his courage was only that of the average civilized man, and he was looking to live, not die.

Miss Caruthers was charming. No; that is not the word. She was amazing. She was a young woman, and a lady. Her father was a certain high official whose name, if I mentioned it, would be immediately recognized by all of you. She was with her mother and two maids at the time, going out to join the old gentleman wherever you like to wish in the East. 041b061a72


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