“Very well, my son. Come back soon,” said the old lady, and, as she heard the door close on Noel, she smiled grimly to herself and muttered,
“The news, eh? The news! That is to say in plain words, Marie Gourdon.”
“Il y a longtemps qui je t’aime,
Jamais je ne t’oublierai.”
French Canadian Song.
It is a beautiful evening. The tide is rushing in over the crisp yellow sands of the beach at Father Point. The sun is setting slowly, as if loath to leave this part of the world, and, as he departs, touches with his rays the gold and crimson tops of the maple and sumach trees, which border the road leading into the churchyard of the Good St. Anne.
The clouds are scudding over the sky in great masses of copper color and gold, parting every here and there, and showing glimpses of clear translucent blue beyond.
And how quickly the whole panorama changes as the sun sinks to his bed in the sea. Anon everything was golden and amethystine, like a foreshadowing of the splendor of the New Jerusalem. A moment later and all is a deep vivid crimson, flooding the scene with its rich radiance and casting into shade even the tints of yon tall sumach tree in the prime of its early autumn coloring. The old grey slate boulders on the beach are illumined by it, and stand out in prominence from the yellow sands.
All is still to-night, save for the beating of the waves against the rocks, or ever and anon the sound of a gun fired from the distant light-house.
The light-house of Father Point stands out clear and distinct on a long neck of rocky land running into the St. Lawrence.
All is still. But hark! A song comes faintly, carried on the evening breeze, and presently it grows clearer, louder, more distinct.
The words now can be heard plainly. They are those of that old French Canadian song so familiar to all dwellers in the Province of Quebec:
“A la claire fontaine,
M’en allant promener,
J’ai trouve l’eau si belle
Que je me suis baigne.
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime
Jamais je ne t’oublierai.”
The voice was tuneful, strong, and full and clear, though lacking in cultivation. It was that of a girl, who was sitting under the shadow of a large boulder on the beach. She seemed about eighteen, though, in the uncertain wavering light of the sunset, it was impossible to distinguish her features clearly.
Her gown was of simple pink cotton, and on her head she wore a large peaked straw hat, which gave her a quaint old-world appearance.
Her brown hair had escaped from beneath this large head-gear, and blew about in pretty, untidy curls round her neck and shoulders. In her hand was a roll of music, which she had just brought from the church, where she had been practising for the morrow’s mass.