Paul Bunyan and Louis de Lune

Author: 
John Miatech, Sebastopol, CA

I grew up just north of the Brule River in Iron Co., Michigan during the time when logging began to slow down somewhat in the early part of the last century. The big logging camps were gone, but there were still old-timers about who had worked with Paul Bunyan, and many a cold winter night around a pot-bellied stove us kids would gather to listen to a visitor reel off a story of the grand days of lumberin' with Big Paul back in the 1850's. One story I remember in particular was about a lumberjack who once worked for Paul named Louis de Lune

With so much work being done to cut timber for the growing communities in Southern Michigan and Ohio, Paul sometimes had to look high and low for extra help to cut all those trees. Sometimes, especially during the winter when lumbermen would get hurt, or just want to get someplace warmer there was just no one extra to be found. It was during one of these times that Louis de Lune wandered into camp.

Louis was a big Metis from across the border in Saskatchewan. In fact, Louis was almost as big and strong as Paul was himself!

When Paul first saw Louis, his heart jumped and he declared to himself that here was a man who could be his equal! With Louis on the crew, why they could cut twice as many trees! And old Paul was almost right.

The next morning Paul and the crew woke early for their usual breakfast of hotcakes, coffee, sides of bacon, dozens of potatoes, fresh bread, and more hotcakes. Louis cleared a bench for himself, consuming enough food for five men, which was to Paul's liking, because he himself ate for ten!

Now it came time for work. Again Paul was impressed with Louis. Each time the big Metis swung his ax, three great pine trees fell to the ground. Why the big man chopped at them so hard that he jarred all of the branches right off them trees in that one swing, and the trunks flew into the air and stacked themselves! By the end of the day the crew was ahead of their work schedule by two whole days.

That night at dinner Paul looked for Louis to tell him what a good job he had done, but the big man was nowhere to be found.

After dinner, Paul went out for a stroll when he heard laughter coming from over the next hill. Being curious, Paul went to investigate.

On the other side of the hill, amongst a circle of Huron warriors sat the big Metis, gamblin' and raising cain! Hurons were notorious for being able to beat lumberjacks at gamblin' and endin' up with their meager supplies, but Louis, being Metis and half Indian himself, was every bit as good a gambler as the Hurons. Behind the big man rose a pile of prime furs that he had already won, and he was trying for more.

About that time a few of the Hurons were beginning to get sore, Louis beating them at their own game so bad. One of the warriors took it upon himself to sneak up behind the big man and wallop him on the head with his stone war club.

When that club hit Louis he gave a howl of pain mixed with anger that pretty near woke up every hibernating bear for a hundred miles or more! Why, the noise alone scared the poor Hurons so bad that they were halfway to the Sault before Louis even stood up! Paul rushed in to help his new comrade, but the big Metis seemed stunned and unaware of his circumstances, so Paul just gathered up the man's furs and helped Louis back to camp.

For the next three weeks Louis stayed in a cabin trying to heal up, but each day when the lumberjacks returned to camp they found the big fellow moaning low and spooky-like with a vacant look in his eyes like he had left his body behind him for some other place. It wasn't good, and Paul worried, for he couldn't even get the logger to eat.

Then one day, the loggers returned after a hard days work to find the big Metis was gone. Just up and walked off they say. They went to search for him, but it had started to snow, one of them big storms that comes up off of Lake Gitcheegumee, what we now call Lake Superior. The snow blew and fell for days and any tracks the big man had left were erased. Louis had disappeared and was never seen again.

In the spring, when the weather warmed up, the men of the camp swore that, in the late afternoon and toward evening they heard that same funny moaning out over lakes and bogs that they heard when Louis had been in pain, and it still sounded spooky! When they heard the sound they would say to one another "There's that Lune again!" I think that even I heard "that Lune" during those days of my youth when I wandered the woods unburdened with the responsibilities of civilization, and I bet if you was to wander that country around the Brule River, you would hear the ghost of old Louis de Lune still trying to recover from that knot an angry Huron laid on his noggin"!