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Rhys, Ernest, ed. (1859–1946). The Haunters and the Haunted. 1921.

XLV. Denis Misanger

“The Phantom World”

ON Friday, the first day of May 1705, about five o’clock in the evening, Denis Misanger de la Richardiere, eighteen years of age, was attacked with an extraordinary malady, which began by a sort of lethargy. They gave him every assistance that medicine and surgery could afford. He fell afterwards into a kind of furor or convulsion, and they were obliged to hold him, and have five or six persons to keep watch over him, for fear that he should throw himself out of the windows, or break his head against the wall. The emetic which they gave him made him throw up a quantity of bile, and for four or five days he remained pretty quiet.

At the end of the month of May, they sent him into the country, to take the air; and some other circumstances occurred, so unusual, that they judged he must be bewitched. And what confirmed this conjecture was, that he never had any fever, and retained all his strength, notwithstanding all the pains and violent remedies which he had been made to take. They asked him if he had not had some dispute with a shepherd or some other person suspected of sorcery, or malpractices.

He declared that on the 18th of April preceding, when he was going through the village of Noysi on horseback for a ride, his horse stopped short in the midst of the Rue Feret, opposite the chapel, and he could not make him go forward, though he touched him several times with the spur. There was a shepherd standing leaning against the chapel, with his crook in his hand, and two black dogs at his side. This man said to him, “Sir, I advise you to return home, for your horse will not go forward.” The young La Richardiere, continuing to spur his horse, said to the shepherd, “I do not understand what you say.” The shepherd replied, in a low tone, “I will make you understand.” In effect, the young man was obliged to get down from his horse, and lead it back by the bridle to his father’s dwelling in the same village. Then the shepherd cast a spell upon him, which was to take effect on the 1st of May, as was afterwards known.

During this malady, they caused several masses to be said in different places, especially at St Maur des Fosses, at St Amable, and at St Esprit. Young La Richardiere was present at some of these masses which were said at St Maur; but he declared that he should not be cured till Friday, 26th June, on his return from St Maur. On entering his chamber, the key of which he had in his pocket, he found there that shepherd, seated in his armchair, with his crook, and his two black dogs. He was the only person who saw him; none other in the house could perceive him. He said even that this man was called Damis, although he did not remember that anyone had before this revealed his name to him. He beheld him all that day, and all the succeeding night. Towards six o’clock in the evening, as he felt his usual sufferings, he fell on the ground, exclaiming that the shepherd was upon him, and crushing him; at the same time he drew his knife, and aimed five blows at the shepherd’s face, of which he retained the marks. The invalid told those who were watching over him that he was going to be very faint at five different times, and begged of them to help him, and move him violently. The thing happened as he had predicted.

On Friday, the 26th June, M. de la Richardiere, having gone to the mass at St Maur, asserted that he should be cured on that day. After mass, the priest put the stole upon his head, and recited the Gospel of St John, during which prayer the young man saw St Maur standing, and the unhappy shepherd at his left, with his face bleeding from the five knife-wounds which he had given him. At that moment the youth cried out, unintentionally, “A miracle! a miracle!” and asserted that he was cured, as in fact he was.

On the 29th of June, the same M. de la Richardiere returned to Noysi, and amused himself with shooting. As he was shooting in the vineyards, the shepherd presented himself before him; he hit him on the head with the butt-end of his gun. The shepherd cried out, “Sir, you are killing me!” and fled. The next day this man presented himself again before him, and asked his pardon, saying, “I am called Damis; it was I who cast a spell over you which was to have lasted a year. By the aid of masses and prayers which have been said for you, you have been cured at the end of eight weeks. But the charm has fallen back upon myself, and I can be cured of it only by a miracle. I implore you then to pray for me.”

During all these reports, the maréchaussée had set off in pursuit of the shepherd; but he escaped them, having killed his two dogs and thrown away his crook. On Sunday, the 13th of September, he came to M. de la Richardiere, and related to him his adventure; that after having passed twenty years without approaching the sacraments, God had given him grace to confess himself at Troyes; and that after divers delays he had been admitted to the holy communion. Eight days after, M. de la Richardiere received a letter from a woman who said she was a relation of the shepherd’s, informing him of his death, and begging him to cause a requiem mass to be said for him, which was done.