Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Legend of La Nain Rouge

La Nain Rouge is a Lutin--a kind of friendly, but potentially troublesome hobgoblin who haunts Detroit. Some say he has always haunted Le D├ętroit, while others say he followed Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac here from France.

In Montreal in 1701, a fortune teller warned Cadillac of the troublesome dwarf:

"Shall my children inherit my possessions?" asked Cadillac, unconsciously giving utterance to the secret desire of his heart.

"Your future and theirs lie in your own hands, beware of undue ambition ; it will mar all your plans. Appease the Nain Rouge* (Red Dwarf). Beware of offending him. Should you be thus unfortunate not a vestige of your inherit- ance will be given to your heirs. Your name will be scarcely known in the city you founded."

Things were good for Cadillac until Mayday of 1707. On that fateful day, Cadillac finally encountered the Red Hobgoblin:
My wife saw a few days ago ' le petit homme Rouge ' and ' ' The rest was lost as the speakers disappeared. Cadillac's wife grasped her husband's hand convulsively and said : " Did you not hear ? ' Le petit homme Rouge ' is the dreaded ' Nain Rouge.' '

" What of that? " said Cadillac.

" ' Beware of the Nain Rouge ' was what that

prophetess told you ; when he should come mis- fortune was nigh."

"Bah ! " laughed Cadillac, "have you not for- gotten that nonsense of a silly old fortune-teller ? Let us return home."

Annoyed himself at the remembrance, and doubly so at his wife for unconsciously giving utterance to his vague uneasiness, they proceeded in silence.

Suddenly across their path, trotting along the beach, advanced the uncouth figure of a dwarf, very red in the face, with a bright, glistening eye ; instead of burning it froze, instead of possessing depth emitted a cold gleam like the reflection from a polished surface, bewildering and dazzling all who came within its focus. A grinning mouth displaying sharp, pointed teeth, completed this strange face.

"It is the Nain Rouge," whispered Cadillac's wife.

Before she had time to say more, Cadillac's ill- nature had vented itself in striking the object with a cane he held in his hand, saying :

" Get out of my way, you red imp ! "

A fiendish, mocking laugh pierced the still night air as the monster vanished.

' ' You have offended him, ' ' said Madame. ' c Your impetuosity will bring you and yours to ruin.

You were told to coax him to beware of annoying this demon and in your ungovernable temper you do just otherwise. Misfortune will soon be our por- tion."

...

The Nain Rouge in the mystic past was consid- ered the banshee or " Demon of the City of the Straits," and whenever he appeared it was a sure sign of impending evil. The night before Dal- zell's ill-fated attack at Bloody Run, he was seen running along the shore. And in 1805, when the city was destroyed by fire, many an old habitant thought that they caught a glimpse of his mali- cious face as he darted through the burning build- ings. On a foggy morning before Hull' s cowardly surrender of Detroit, \he was seen ; but since then he has never reappeared, having, it is to be hoped, accomplished his mission. But the tradition still lingers among the old habitants that should mis- fortune ever threaten the bonnie City of the Straits, the Nain Rouge will again appear to give the sig- nal of warning.

Way to go Cadillac.

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