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Acadian Reminiscences : The True Story of Evangeli

Desolate Acadia was dearer to us


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.

justify;">"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.

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