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The Miracle of
Michael Joulin

by
Arthur Stringer


This story has an interest quite apart from its own narration. It was founded on a story which I heard told by word of mouth nearly twelve years ago, when along with the late Archibald Lampman, I sat up to the wee sma' hours of the night in the Montreal home of William Henry Drummond, listening to stories of Canada and Canadian life. This tale, one of the anecdotes recounted during the evening, so impressed itself on my memory, that I asked the narrator if I might make use of it, and a few months later wrote it out. Several of my New York friends, to whom I showed it, objected to it on the ground of the complexity of the dialect in which it was cast, and the manuscript was put away and forgotten. Then, oddly enough, some ten years ago, the old Wanamaker's "Everybody's Magazine" printed a story from Dr. Drummond's pen, of precisely the same setting and practically the same characters. On investigation, I found that the author of "The Habitant" had been equally impressed by that original narrative, and had worked it out after his own ideas. The little sketch is here presented, therefore, not as a rival to Dr. Drummond's effort and claim, but as a more or less interesting example of how two authors may approach the same anecdote from different view-points.Author's Note.


"I DON' know w'at you mean w'en you see dat crazee Lavoie go down dat rapide an' call heem de meeracle for sure. De honly meeracle I was ever hear 'bout was dat one w'at happen Michael Joulin down hon Ste. Anne de Beaupre. I nevaire tol' you 'bout dat meeracle? Dat's fonny t'ing, I t'ink! Wail, I tail you now de bes' I can.

"She all happen jus' b'fore de las' 'lection, w'en de Committee down hon Kebeck don' know how dat 'lection will go for sure, wedder she be Tory or wedder she be Greet. So de Committee go to dat Michael Joulin an' tail heem: 'We geev you t'ree dollaire a day an' all de monee for de expense if you mak' de canvass from St. Alphonse up to T'ree Reever on de St. Lawrence, an' fin' hout how de peep' t'ink dat 'lection will go, an' mak' de peep' vote de right way.'

"Wail, dat Joulin he near bust heemself when he hear dat. For he was de mos' lazies' man I never see. I t'ink he was ver' mooch lak de Injun, for he t'ink he die for sure if he do de leetle piece work. Wail, he say heemself dat's de nice sof job, so he tail dem ver' wail, on'y, he say, it was been ver' lonely to go t'rough all dat country widout no company. Den he tail de Committee dat he would lak to tak' hees frien' Bateese Bisson wit' heem, too. De Committee say a'right, dey geev Bisson two dollaire a day if he come too, for dey don' know dat Bateese Bisson was de more lazy man dan dat Joulin heemself, an' dat he die for sure if he do t'ree days' work in one year.

"So dat Michael Joulin an' dat ateese Bisson buy all de fine clo'es, an' de red necktie, an' de plug-hat, an' start out for mak' dat canvass. Dey go down de reever, an' I t'ink dey mak' de canvass 'bout t'ree day, w'en dey get tire', an' say to ail wit' dose 'lection, I t'ink we mak' de good time on all dose monee. So dey smoke de long black cigar, an' dreenk t'ree four quart w'iskee blanc, an' mak' de beeg time sure 'nough, an' bigosh, de firs' t'ing dey know, dat Committee get mad an' say dey t'ink dey was no good an' don' want no more canvass lak' dat, t'anks to you. An', by gar, dey don' send no more monee, an' dat Joulin he find heemself two t'ree honder mile from w'ere he leev, an' don' know how to get back on de house nohow.

"‘I t'ink, Bateese,' he say, ver' triste, 'mebbe we have de long walk home dees time.'

"An' Mike Joulin—hees modder call heem Mike, I t'ink, for he was one-half Frainch an' de odder half Irish—dat Mike Joulin he mak' de beeg groan an' say it was de hard worl' w'ere de honest man have to do de t'ing lak' dat. But dey have spen' all de monee, an' wit' dey ver' soon fin' dey have nodding to eat w'en dey stay dere. So dey begin an' walk up de reever. An' dey get de water-blister on de foot, an' de pain in de laig, an' de dogs bite holes in all dose fine clo'es, an' dey don' mak' de bodder to wash de face, an', bigosh, dey look lak' de two ol' beggar for sure 'nough. An' I t'ink dey was mos' starve, for dey won' do no work on de farm, an' w'en dey go on de farm of de habitant an' hax for dose grub, de femme stan' in de door an' she say 'ow two beeg strong men lak' dat mus' be ver' lazy, bigosh, not to do de leetle work sometime. An' den de dog come out, mebbe, an' Mike get so mad inside he 'mos' go crazee on de head, an' say it was de sacredam gouvernement at Ottawa w'at do all dat to ruin de country so de hones' man can't leev nohow.

"But somet'ing happen w'at change all dat, for one day Mike see a beeg wooden laig' w'at was hang up on de blacksmit' shop at Ste. Helene. An' w'en he see dat, de tear come on hees eye, an' he say, 'Bateese, if we honly had jus' de leetle monee to buy dat laig, I t'ink maybe we save our life dees time.' Den he hax de blacksmit' w'at weel he take for dat laig, an' de blacksmit' say he weel geev heem dat laig if dey saw up de one cord wood for heem an' pile heem in de woodshed.

"Wail, Mike an' Bateese get de bucksaw, an' I t'ink dey almos' die w'en dey try to saw dat wood. Bateese, he geev up t'ree four times every dav, an' say to ail wit' de ol' wooden laig. But Mike he don' say nodding, but wipe de sweat off from hees neck an' sit down an' count all de stick she have left on dat wood-pile.

"It tak' dem 'bout one whole wick, I t'ink, b'fore dey saw all dat wood, but w'en dey get de ol' wooden laig Bateese he see sure 'nough dat Mike has de long head after all. For Mike tak' dat wooden laig an' feexes heem wit' de straps on hees own laig, jus' onder de knee, an', by gar, you t'ink he was de lame man for sure 'nough

"An', by cripes, after dat dey get de beeg dinner an' de pork an' bean, no matter w'ere dey hax for heem, for dat Mike he mak' de solemn face, an' he tail all de peep' how he have de paralize on de laig, an' was de cripple for all hees life; an' he spik ver' triste 'bout how dat laig was die right on heem, an' she have no more feel in heem dan de fence-post. Bigosh, all dose habitants feel ver' bad 'bout dat laig, an' geev Mike an' Bateese de sof bed an' de beeg dinner w'enever dey hax for heem.

"But Louis Charland, w'at mak' de canvass for de Greets, he hear 'bout dat trick w'at Mike play, an' he mak' de hurry an' tail all de peep' w'at dat Michael Joulin do. An' de nex' time w'en Mike mak' de solemn face an' tail 'bout hees laig w'at was paralize so bad, de girls all stick de pin in de laig an' say dat it was too bad, an' den de ol' man come an' stick de pin in hees laig, too, an' say dat was fonny he don' feel dat, till Mike he pretty near die, an' yail out, 'Sacre Tonnerre!' an' ron out de house an' say he t'ink he die wit' de blood-poison.

"An' I t'ink mebbe he die sure 'nough on'y 'bout dat time he come on de village of Ste. Anne de Beaupre. Den he slap hees laig ver' sodden, an' say, 'Bateese, I t'ink mebbe we have to mek' de leetle meeracle here 'bout dat laig w'at have de paralize.'

"Mebbe you don' know 'bout Ste. Anne de Beaupre, m'sieu? Wail, dat's de mos' wonderful place on all de worl', w'ere all de peep' come, an' w'ere dey have de shrine an' mak' all de meeracle. Dat Mike Joulin he see how nice an' kind all de peep' an' all de priest was to de ones dat got de cure, an' he do de mos' wicked t'ing I never see. L' Enfant, I don' t'ink I never heard 'bout no more worse t'ing dan he did. Bigosh, he go in de precession wit' all de sick pilgrim, an' march to de church lak' he was almos' not able to walk nohow, an' w'en de time for de meeracle come dat Mike Joulin he jomp up on hees seat an' yail like he see two free honder loups garou, an' pull off dat wooden laig an' yail dat he was cure of de paralize for sure. An' he t'row de wooden laig up wit' all de res' of de crutch an' de bandage, an' march up to de shrine an' say he was never so happy in all hees life. An' all de peep' cry out, 'A meeracle! A meeracle!' An' all de kind ol' priest tak' dat Mike Joulin an' hees frien' Bateese off to de Presbytére w'ere dey hax all 'bout hees wooden laig, an' geev heem de gran' beeg dinner. An' de Sisters from de Convent geev heem some more dinner, an' all de peep' hax heem 'bout de meeracle, an' he t'ink he was de great man for sure 'nough.

"Mike, he look at Bateese an' wink wit' de eye an' say, 'I t'ink, Bateese, dees was de nice sof' job w'at suit us de good long time, mebbe.' An' Bateese, he wink back wit' de eye an' rub heemself where hees dinner was put, an' say dat Mike was have de long head for sure.

"Wail, dey leev lak' dat free four days, an' feel mos' happy an' satisfy, when de peep' on Ste. Anne fin' out dey was de mos' lazies' men w'at dey never see, an' dey say, 'By gar, I t'ink we don' geev dose beeg loafers no more dinner.' An' w'en Mike an' Bateese find dat out, dey don' know what dey goin' do. So Mike he go to de pries' an' hax heem ver' bold for de ol' wooden laig. But de pries' he say no, dat laig belong on de church lak' all de odder wooden laigs. Den Mike cry wif de eye an' rub hees laig wif hees han', an' say he t'ink de paralize was come back an' he can't walk no more widout dat laig nohow.

"Ver' wail, de pries' say, dey mak' heem nice new wooden laig on de village for two dollaire. Den dat Joulin he swear free four hunder' sacredams, an' shak' hees fist at de pries' an' say ver' wail. An' dat night, bigosh, dey fin' heem w'en he was climb out de church window wif hees ol' wooden laig, an' he say he was walkin' in hees sleep, but dey say a'right, he can go to jail in hees sleep, too. An' so dey sen' him to jail for seex mont's, for try steal from de church lak' dat. Mebbe dat laig was Mike Joulin's, an' seex mont's look lak' de long time. But Mike Joulin wasn't so sorry over dat, on'y w'en de judge he say he t'ink Mike better tak' hees seex mont's wif hard labor. Dat mak' Mike almos' die, an' den he feel sorry 'bout dose meeracle, by gar! Dat meeracle was de mos' wicked t'ing dat I never see."


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1950, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 60 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.