This is a long one, so check out the full poem here.
Now the fall season has arrived—the harvest is in, the winds are picking up, and the constellation of Scorpio is in the night sky. (Calendar-wise, we're in September.) Based on such meteorological signs as the amount of honey in beehives and the amount of fur on foxes, it looks like it's going to be a cold winter a-comin'.
Even still, things remain beautiful and peaceful in Acadia. The good times keep rolling on.
Night falls over this scene: the cows and sheep return from their pastures to the barn, followed by the vigilant watch-dog who watches over them and protects them from big bad wolves. The animals are digging the freshness of the air and the beauty of their surroundings, and so they all sleep soundly once the barn doors are closed. (Sleep tight; don't let the bugs bite, gang.)
Meanwhile, Benedict (Evangeline's father) is chilling in his rocking chair before a bright and cheery fire, singing songs from his French homeland. Evangeline is seated nearby, spinning flax on a loom.
All of a sudden, Basil and Gabriel show up. It seems like they just bust open the door (like a couple of Kool Aid men), but that's totally fine with Benedict, who welcomes Basil and reminds him to grab his (Basil's) pipe and tobacco before settling down for a spell. This must be some sort of regular get-together.
Basil remarks that Benedict's got to be the cheeriest cat in the village. Even when everyone else is down in the dumps, Benedict has a smile and a positive word to say. Then he describes some goings-on that might put Benedict's optimism to the test:
It turns out that some English ships have been at anchor on the nearby Gaspereau River. Nobody's sure what they want, but they have their cannons pointed at the locals (that can't be good). Everyone's been summoned to a meeting with them tomorrow at the church. Apparently that's when the King of England's "mandate / Will be proclaimed as law in the land" (240-241). Basil says that folks are tripping on this latest development; they're worried for their safety.
True to his happy-go-luck nature, Benedict suggests that maybe the British just want to borrow some food after a bad season's harvest (oh, poor naïve Benedict).
Basil bursts that bubble, though. The English have been rounding up all the locals' weapons. Lots of folks have already fled in fear into the surrounding forests.
Benedict keeps the positive vibes flowing, though. He tells Basil that they're all safer on a farm than in a military fort and, besides, they've got plenty of hay and food on hand to last them a year. Also, René Leblanc will be here soon.
Sweet—but, who in the wide, wide world of sports is René Leblanc? Well, it turns out that he's a "worthy notary" (267) (someone who notarizes documents to make the official). While Evangeline is busy holding hands with Gabriel, our man René shows up on cue.