A French Canadian Folktale
Now there once was a man named Jean Dubroise who never did a lick of work, but his house and his barn and his crops were still the best in the whole land. This puzzled people, since Jean had no family and no hired men to help him. No one could figure out how he managed to have the best trapping lines in winter, and have fences and barns in perfect repair at all times with no one working his farm.
Odder still were the reports of a roaring sound that came from Jean Dubroise’s property late at night when good, God-fearing people should be sleeping. His neighbors started avoiding the place, and folks in town would hurry to the other side of the road rather than meet Jean when they saw him coming.
One night, Dubroise’s next door neighbor, Alphonse, had a bit too much to drink. Alphonse decided that he would dare the strange noises and take a short-cut across Dubroise’s land to get home. As he was weaving his way through the fields, he heard a loud roaring noise from overhead. Alphonse threw himself flat on the ground and saw a huge canoe flying over him. The canoe landed on the ground in the clearing next to Dubroise house and the Devil jumped out with a whip in his hand.
At the sight of the Devil, Alphonse gasped and rolled under some shrubs at the edge of the field. From his hiding place, he heard the Devil shout: “Come out of the canoe!” and snapped the whip at the occupants. Twenty creatures with the shaggy coats of wolves but the upright walk of men leapt from the canoe. Alphonse recognized them immediately. They were werewolves (called loup garou); men who had neglected their religious duties for so long that they had fallen under the spell of the Devil. As the loup garou began plowing and mending fences and doing all the daily chores on the farm, Dubroise came out of his front door to talk and drink with the Devil. Alphonse knew then that Dubroise had sold his lazy soul to the Devil in exchange for the werewolves’ work on his farm. Alphonse lay trembling under the bushes, praying the Devil and his minions wouldn’t find him. At last, the Devil and the loup garou jumped back into the flying canoe and flew away.
As soon as it was safe, Alphonse hurried to the local priest to report what he had seen. When he heard about Dubroise’s evil visitors, the priest came up with a plan to rid the neighborhood of the Devil. While Dubroise was in town the next day, the priest sent Alphonse and several of the parish men to Dubroise’s farm with buckets full of holy water. The men sprinkled the holy water over Dubroise’s house, his outbuildings, and all of his land. Then the men hid themselves in the bushes to keep watch.
It was midnight when the Devil and the loup garou came flying to Dubroise’s farm in the huge canoe. They landed in the clearing next to the house and the the Devil leapt out of the canoe. As soon as his foot touched the holy water sprinkled onto the ground, the Devil started leaping about and shrieking in pain and rage. The werewolves were frightened and fled from the canoe.
The Devil was furious. He believed that Dubroise was trying to save his soul by driving the Devil away with holy water obtained from the priest. The Devil ran to the house and pulled Dubroise right out of his bed. He dragged Jean Dubroise outside, threw him into the canoe, and flew away in a blast of fire that scorched the ground for many meters.
The men of the parish collected the werewolves and brought them to the priest. The priest pricked each one with a knife, which is the only way to turn a loup garou back into a man. The restored men fell to their knees and begged the priest to forgive them for neglecting their religous duties. From that day on, the men were faithful to their parish and never more did any fall under the Devil’s spell. But Jean Dubroise was never seen again.
You can read more Canadian folktales and ghost stories in Spooky Canada by S.E. Schlosser.
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