The following excerpt is taken from Cape Breton Book of the Night edited by Ronald Caplan. This story was taped, transcribed, and translated into English by Jocelyne Marchand.
“I was born in Petit de Grat in 1911. The old women from Petit de Grat told stories to scare people. They would say, ‘If you go out tonight and you don’t say your prayers, you’re going to see the devil.’
I saw him once though… The old man didn’t want me to go out. ‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’m going out.’
“‘One night,’ he said, ‘You’ll see the devil. I hope you see the devil.’
“One night, it was almost December, a nice moonlight, fresh fallen snow, I was on my way home. There was a bridge at the bottom of the hill. When I got there, there was a big black dog across the road. ‘I can’t get by. Well I’ll go down by the shore.’ I went down the hill and there he was stretched out. So I went back to the road and there he was again. I said, ‘I’ll get by when day breaks, surely you’ll go away.’ It was about four in the morning, I couldn’t go home. But I was able to pass when day came. I went in and went to bed; the old man was home. I got up that morning; it was late, around eight or nine. My father said, ‘You’re back.’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘you hoped that I would see the devil. Well I did.’
[Tell me about the house.]
“When I was nine years old, we came to the other side of the harbour there, maybe you can see where. The house isn’t there anymore. Do you see the building that’s there? The little one, that was our property. We lived higher up; from here you could only see the roof. When we came there I was only nine years old, the other children were smaller… Then one night my mother went to her room to go to bed and suddenly she came out again. She asked my father if he had gone outside. He said, “I didn’t go out, why?”
“’That’s all right,’ she said. It happened just like that, she didn’t say anything more.
“But there was an old woman who lived up the road. My mother would visit her during the day. So she told the old woman, she said, ‘Last night I went to my room to put something there.’ The baby was in that room… She said, ‘I thought that Fred had gone outside for something, but he told me he hadn’t gone out.’ She said, ‘I saw a man go by in the window.’ The old woman said, ‘A tall man?’ She said , ‘Pretty tall.’ My mother described him. ‘He had a hat… and a half-coat with a belt around the waist.’ ‘Well,’ the old woman said. ‘do you know who it was? It was the man who owned the house.’
“He was dead, eh?… The house… had been stolen from him… the deal wasn’t done properly… They hadn’t wanted to pay the old man, and then they sold it to us – hadn’t told us anything – my father had bought it. And the old man who sold it to us said he had given it to the devil. A good time to tell us, huh? If only he had told us before.”