Allendale: A Shunned House Part 20

How far back the curse of the garou chased the Deraques is hard to say. The records are sketchy at best. But there had been problems in Montreal after the Lachine massacre in 1689. An early Deraque, Michel, had survived the Iroquois attack but had been badly bitten. After he recovered, he went on to marry and have children but it was rumored that his wife locked him in a casket at night. It’s not clear if he was infected then or if, by happenstance, someone had managed to bite a creature so famous for its biting.

Michel’s daughter, Élodie, was rumored to spend her afternoons reading strange books and drawing strange diagrams. She appears to have been a constant source of community gossip and though the French in the Americas did not share the same witchcraft panics of their Puritan neighbors, it was freely intimated by old wives that her prayers were neither uttered at the proper time nor directed toward the proper object.  Her saints were, they said, unfamiliar to good Catholics.

I wondered how many of those who had known these legends realized that additional link with the terrible which my wide reading had given me, that ominous item in the annals of morbid horror which tells of the creature Jacques Deraque, who in 1743 was condemned to death as a demoniac but afterwards saved from the stake by local authorities who locked him in the city jail as a madman. He had been found covered with blood and shreds of flesh out in the woods, shortly after the killing and rending of a local boy by a pair of wolves. One wolf, specifically, was said to have an almost human manner. Surely a worthy campfire legend, with special significance as to the name, but I knew that it was unlikely that the people of Illinois, let alone Gallatin, Tennessee, had ever heard of it. Still the incident was enough to drive all the Deraques from Montreal and they made their way south, even as far as New Orleans and the swamps of Louisiana. The professor speculated that, when the local Cajuns warn you of the roux garoux that this is not some complete mangling of “loup garou” but instead a sensible caution against the Deraque garou who may still be in the area.