Authors: Helene Boudreau
Tags: #JUV039060, #JUV013030, #book
Copyright Â© HÃ©lÃ¨ne Boudreau 2008
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission from the publisher, or, in the case of photocopying or other reprographic copying, permission from Access Copyright, 1 Yonge Street, Suite 1900, Toronto, Ontario M5E 1E5.
Nimbus Publishing Limited
PO Box 9166
Halifax, NS B3K 5M8
Printed and bound in Canada
Interior design: Margaret Issenman
Front cover: Heather Bryan
Author photo: Gordon Clarke
Visit the author's website at: heleneboudreau.com
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Boudreau, HÃ©lÃ¨ne, 1969-
Acadian star / HÃ©lÃ¨ne Boudreau.
EPUB ISBN 978-1-55109-831-9
PS8603.O9267A63 2008Â Â Â Â jC813'.6Â Â Â Â C2008-904609-9
We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP) and the Canada Council, and of the Province of Nova Scotia through the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage for our publishing activities.
to Marcelle and Charlotte,
my Acadian girls.
Sincere thanks to all the members of the Books and Writers Community/Kidcritters group, with special recognition to Marsha Skrypuch.
Thanks also to Penelope Jackson, Caitlin Drake, and the whole Nimbus team for seeing the potential in this story and for helping me bring this book to fruition.
My deepest admiration to the community of Petit de Grat, Nova Scotia, and to Acadians everywhere, wherever you may roam.
And much love to Gord; none of this happens without you.
Meg stepped into the murky dimness of the tiny seaside shack and hugged a foil-covered dish to her chest. Long shadows stretched across the cluttered floor and up along the shack's drab walls in the early morning light.
“Tante Perle?” she tried again. No answer.
Meg sighed and turned to go. Why couldn't her mom have just brought the dish of pÃ¢tÃ© over herself? Especially today, of all days.
“It'll only take a minute,” her mom had said. “You'll still be able to make it to your dress rehearsal,” she'd insisted.
Not at this rate, Meg thought.
She let the door swing shut behind her and stomped down the uneven steps into the yard. A well-worn trail led to the back of her great-aunt's shack. A cool draught crept down her bare legs and into the rubber boots she had pulled on before rushing out the door.
“She must be lonely, the poor thing,” her mom had called after her as she left the house. “It wouldn't hurt you to stay for a bit of a visit.”
As if, Meg thought now with a shiver.
The thin polyester of her costume did little to keep away the morning chill. Meg hunched into the warmth of her coat's collar and zipped it until the metal clasp chafed her chin.
The sheets from Tante Perle's clothesline swirled around her as she circled the side of the grey, weather-beaten house. One quick look around the backyard and she was out of there.
Not a soul stirred.
“I don't have time for this,” Meg muttered. Tante Perle was probably off roaming around again, combing the beach for treasures or something. It wasn't like Meg was going to hang around to find out.
The tinfoil crinkled in her arms as she turned to leave. Meg's cousin NÃ¨ve would be waiting for her at the parish hall. They only had one more rehearsal to go before the big show that night. She would just put the plate on Tante Perle's kitchen table and get going.
Meg stopped short at the sound. She turned in time to see the root cellar door fall back against its hinge. Meg drew a breath in surprise. Why hadn't she ever noticed the small entrance at the base of the shack's foundation? Tante Perle emerged from the cellar and secured the door with a rusted hook. She stooped to retrieve a white plastic bucket brimming with clothespins.
Meg stood amidst the flapping sheets of the clothesline as Tante Perle hobbled up the stairs. Her white hair, pulled back under a scarf, was finished in a skinny braid along the back of her knitted shawl. Her eyes squinted as she emerged into the daylight.
Meg stood silent. Had Tante Perle seen her? Maybe she could still sneak to the front of the house and drop the pÃ¢tÃ© off. Otherwise, who knew how long Tante Perle would try to keep her there, listening to one of her stories?
“Oh! Marguerite!” Tante Perle exclaimed as she turned towards her.
Meg cringed and took a tentative step forward. Why did her great-aunt insist on calling her by that old lady name? Sure, it was the name on her birth certificate, but none of her friends called her that. And if Meg had anything to do with it, she planned on keeping it that way.
.” She tramped over to her great-aunt's side to help her over the last step. “Here, let me take those.” Meg hung the bucket of clothespins from her finger and balanced the plate in one arm. She offered her other arm to lend support. Tante Perle's weight shifted towards her.
Merci, le beau Dieu
! You're here! I need to warn you,” Tante Perle rasped as she pulled at her niece's sleeve in earnest. Stray tendrils of hair blew wildly around her face.
. Let's get this food inside first, all right? Mom sent me over with pÃ¢tÃ©.” How was she going to get to her rehearsal if she had to listen to another one of her great-aunt's crazy stories?
Meg set the bucket of clothespins down by the clothesline and guided Tante Perle to the front of the shack.
“Shut the latch,” Tante Perle said as they mounted the steps and entered the front door. “To stop the English, you know.” Her head bobbed slightly as she spoke.
Sheesh, Meg thought, not this again. Didn't Tante Perle know that the Acadian Deportation was over and done with? Like, over two centuries ago!
Meg placed the plate on the table as Tante Perle shuffled amongst the chaos of the shack. Shelves sagged with the weight of old rusted tools, bottles, books, and rocks. A slanted rectangle of daylight stretched across a wooden table beneath the shack's lone grey window. Specks of dust danced in its shaft of light. Tante Perle fished an oyster shell from her apron pocket and set it carefully along the windowsill.