|line||Nearer, and ever nearer, among the numberless islands,|
Darted a light, swift boat, that sped away o'er the water,
Urged on its course by the sinewy arms of hunters and trappers.
|830||Northward its prow was turned, to the land of the bison and beaver.|
At the helm sat a youth, with countenance thoughtful and careworn.
Dark and neglected locks overshadowed his brow, and a sadness
Somewhat beyond his years on his face was legibly written.
Gabriel was it, who, weary with waiting, unhappy and restless,
|835||Sought in the Western wilds oblivion of self and of sorrow.|
Swiftly they glided along, close under the lee of the island,
But by the opposite bank, and behind a screen of palmettos,
So that they saw not the boat, where it lay concealed in the willows;
All undisturbed by the dash of their oars, and unseen, were the sleepers.
|840||Angel of God was there none to awaken the slumbering maiden.|
Swiftly they glided away, like the shade of a cloud on the prairie.
After the sound of their oars on the tholes had died in the distance,
As from a magic trance the sleepers awoke, and the maiden
Said with a sigh to the friendly priest, 'O Father Felician!
|845||Something says in my heart that near me Gabriel wanders.|
Is it a foolish dream, an idle and vague superstition?
Or has an angel passed, and revealed the truth to my spirit?'
Then, with a blush, she added, 'Alas for my credulous fancy!
Unto ears like thine such words as these have no meaning.'
|850||But made answer the reverend man, and he smiled as he answered, –|
'Daughter, thy words are not idle; nor are they to me without meaning.
Feeling is deep and still; and the word that floats on the surface
Is as the tossing buoy, that betrays where the anchor is hidden.
Therefore trust to thy heart, and to what the world calls illusions.
|855||Gabriel truly is near thee; for not far away to the southward,|
On the banks of the Têche, are the towns of St. Maur and St. Martin.
There the long-wandering bride shall be given again to her bridegroom,
There the long-absent pastor regain his flock and his sheepfold.
Beautiful is the land, with its prairies and forests of fruit-trees;
|860||Under the feet a garden of flowers, and the bluest of heavens|
Bending above, and resting its dome on the walls of the forest.
They who dwell there have named it the Eden of Louisiana!'