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by [?]

The tale was told to me in the little valley beneath Dalgrothe Mountain one September morning. Far and near one could see the swinging of the flail, and the laughter of a ripe summer was upon the land. There was a little Calvary down by the riverside, where the flax-beaters used to say their prayers in the intervals of their work; and it was just at the foot of this that Angele Rouvier, having finished her prayer, put her rosary in her pocket, wiped her eyes with the hem of her petticoat, and said to me:

“Ah, dat poor Mathurin, I wipe my tears for him!”

“Tell me all about him, won’t you, Madame Angele? I want to hear you tell it,” I added hastily, for I saw that she would despise me if I showed ignorance of Mathurin’s story. Her sympathy with Mathurin’s memory was real, but her pleasure at the compliment I paid her was also real.

“Ah! It was ver’ longtime ago–yes. My gran’mudder she remember dat Mathurin ver’ well. He is not ver’ big man. He has a face-oh, not ver’ handsome, not so more handsome as yours–non. His clothes, dey hang on him all loose; his hair, it is all some grey, and it blow about him head. He is clean to de face, no beard–no, nosing like dat. But his eye–la, M’sieu’, his eye! It is like a coal which you blow in your hand, whew!–all bright. My gran’mudder, she say, ‘Voila, you can light your pipe with de eyes of dat Mathurin!’ She know. She say dat M’sieu’ Mathurin’s eyes dey shine in de dark. My gran’fadder he say he not need any lights on his cariole when Mathurin ride with him in de night.

“Ah, sure! it is ver’ true what I tell you all de time. If you cut off Mathurin at de chin, all de way up, you will say de top of him it is a priest. All de way down from his neck, oh, he is just no better as yoursel’ or my Jean–non. He is a ver’ good man. Only one bad ting he do. Dat is why I pray for him; dat is why everybody pray for him–only one bad ting. Sapristi!–if I have only one ting to say God-have-mercy for, I tink dat ver’ good; I do my penance happy. Well, dat Mathurin him use to teach de school. De Cure he ver’ fond of him. All de leetla children, boys and girls, dey all say: ‘C’est bon Mathurin!’ He is not ver’ cross–non. He have no wife, no child; jes live by himself all alone. But he is ver’ good friends with everybody in Pontiac. When he go ‘long de street, everybody say, ‘Ah, dere go de good Mathurin!’ He laugh, he tell story, he smoke leetla tabac, he take leetla white wine behin’ de door; dat is nosing–non.

“He have in de parish five, ten, twenty children all call Mathurin; he is godfadder with dem–yes. So he go about with plenty of sugar and sticks of candy in his pocket. He never forget once de age of every leetla child dat call him godfadder. He have a brain dat work like a clock. My gran’fadder he say dat Mathurin have a machine in his head. It make de words, make de thoughts, make de fine speech like de Cure, make de gran’ poetry–oh, yes!

“When de King of Englan’ go to sit on de throne, Mathurin write ver’ nice verse to him. And by-and-by dere come to Mathurin a letter–voila, dat is a letter! It have one, two, three, twenty seals; and de King he say to Mathurin: ‘Merci mille fois, m’sieu’; you are ver’ polite. I tank you. I will keep your verses to tell me dat my French subjects are all loyal like M. Mathurin.’ Dat is ver’ nice, but Mathurin is not proud–non. He write six verses for my granmudder–hein? Dat is something. He write two verses for de King of Englan’ and he write six verses for my granmudder–you see! He go on so, dis week, dat week, dis year, dat year, all de time.