Study Guide

Evangeline Part 2, Section 3

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Part 2, Section 3

This is a long one, so check out the full poem here.

  • We start this section with a description of "the house of the herdsman" (891). It's a pretty sweet pad, with sturdy wood beams and a blooming garden.
  • Not too far off, the herdsman himself is sitting on a horse, admiring his property. Then he busts out a horn and gives it a mighty blow. His cattle all come running (well, loping is probably more like it).
  • Then he turns back to his house and sees Evangeline and the priest walking up his path. He rushes to greet them with open arms.
  • Is this dude just really friendly? Why no, Shmoopers, this dude is… Basil! 
  • They all greet each other excitedly and go into his garden to talk about the good old days (you know, before their entire village was burned to the ground?).
  • Basil asks Evangeline if she saw Gabriel on the way in. She's tearful, thinking that because she missed him he might be gone for good. 
  • Basil assures her that he's only been gone for a day, though. It turns out that Gabriel is so depressed without her that nobody can stand to be around him anymore. They sent him off to go hunting and trapping in the Ozark Mountains. Basil assures Evangeline that they'll head out first thing tomorrow and catch up with Gabriel soon enough.
  • Then a commotion attracts their attention. It's Michael, the fiddler, who—in true rock star fashion—is being carried aloft by a group of his buddies. It turns out that he's a super-popular guy in town, since he can bust out the Acadian tunes. He also lives with Basil.
  • They all go inside Basil's house for some rest and some grub. At dinner, they celebrate good times. Basil formally welcomes them, telling them that this land is actually even better than the Acadia they had to leave.
  • The weather is better, the farming is easier, the land and cattle are more plentiful, and best of all: there's no King George of England to snatch away your land and burn all of your worldly possessions to the ground.
  • There's only one thing that they should worry about: "the fever" (1004). As it turns out, this affliction is nothing like they've experienced back home in Acadia. There, they could cure sickness "by wearing a spider hung round one's neck in a nutshell" (1006). (That seems medically sound to us...) 
  • Before Basil can dispense any more medical advice, more folks show up at his house, including more fellow Acadians and Creoles. Everyone gets along famously and, when Michael fires up his fiddle in the other room, they all start up a dance party.
  • Everyone is getting down and having just a swell time. Basil and the priest are off in a corner, talking each other's ears off. And yet, Evangeline is overcome with a sudden sadness and has to leave the house.
  • She walks into the garden and takes in the beauty of the night and her surroundings. Then she cries out to Gabriel, wondering when they'll ever be together. In the distance, she can hear a whippoorwill's cry and the trees seem to whisper to her: "Patience" and "To-morrow!" (1057-1058).
  • The next day (that would be "To-morrow!" if you're scoring at home), Evangeline and Basil say good-bye to the priest and jump in a boat to go find Gabriel. They row after him for three days without finding him. On the fourth day, a talkative innkeeper tells them that Gabriel left his boat and took off on horseback, just the day before.