The Old Man in the Forest
Ma Dou enjoyed telling her children stories. Most times the stories were funny, but it was the scary stories that got the children’s attention the most. That is how Old Lenny knew about Papa Bois, the Maitre Bois of the forest that stood quietly near the small simple village in Caura. Old Lenny was Ma Dou’s son. Every evening he would sit in his old rocking chair, with a cigar and watch the thick forest behind his cosy wooden house.
He remembered the stories very well, even in old age. After all, he could recite every story Ma Dou told him and his siblings. But sometimes, sometimes, he believed he would hear the wretched sound of a horn coming from deep in the forest. He would then shake his head and say to himself that it was something else and that Ma Dou just wanted to scare her kids and keep them from wandering off into the forest. Needless to say, the stories worked quite well, for Old Lenny never ventured into the forest. He thought it looked creepy and dreadful.
One day Lou Martin, a hunter saw Old Lenny sitting in his regular spot. He approached him with a lot of questions about the forest for Lou Martin insisted he saw more than a shadow of an old man in the forest. Then Lou Martin explained that the person was short and hairy. He felt that was no place for an old man. Old Lenny listened politely, for politeness was one of his strengths.
‘Did you really see, Maitre Bois?” Old Lenny said incredulously.
“Yes, man. Old Lenny you shoulda been there…”
“I would never be there, Lou. Never!”
“Old man, you need to get out. There is much to see…”
“Like what you saw, right?” And Lou continued, for he was very offended by what Lou Martin insisted, “I can do that quite fine, thank you. I does do it every month around pension time.” retorted Old Lenny.
“Well fine, nah. Anyway, the old man in the forest was badly dressed.”
“Look Lou, you seem hell bent to disturb my peace. Did you really see the creature?”
“You want details, fine. I had just caught a huge manicou and the dogs wanted to head back. But I thought another manicou would help me buy some new trousers. Out of the blue a large stag came in my view. I thought it was my lucky day and so I followed it. I called out to the dogs, but they were out of my sight. You know, I not like dem fellas who does shoot wild. I followed and then I had ah mind to forget dat deer.”
Lou stopped to think for a while then he continued.
“I was more worried about my dogs. So I forget that chase and instead went in search of the dogs. I called out to them several times. Then I hear Rufus howl. However, I did not hear the huge deer creeping up behind meh. When I turned around I saw this old man staring at me. Man I nearly pee myself. But you know me, everything cool man. So I say to him trembling, ‘Bon jour, vieus Papa.’ I tip my hat and try to force a smile.”
Again Lou stopped and looked like he was remembering something.
Old Lenny looked at him shocked, but he soon got over his disbelief. “Man, you serious?”
“Like a setting fowl, ah watch him with my own two eyes like I see you right there. Man, I feel honoured to have eyes.”
A smile appeared on Lou’s oval face. He threw back a strand of matted locks covering his eye and added, “Did I tell you he had horns.” With that, Old Lenny’s jaw dropped. The cigar he was smoking was by now hanging from his bony fingers.
“In truth?” That was all Old Lenny could now say.
“Yeah, and a hoofed foot,” Lou added.
“Serious boy?” Old Lenny asked.
“Yeah boy! Anyway, I eh going back in that forest again. I retire. So doh ask me for any wild meat.” Lou exclaimed. “I tell meh Ma ’bout what I see and she told me I real lucky, because I could have been punished for my greed and turned into an ugly hog left to traverse the forest without knowing anything about my present life.”
“Good for you, Lou. Time for a new job!” And old Lenny continued smoking his cigar.
(Written for studyassistant.org)