|The woods near Ténazeyre.|
As the story goes, Jean Chastel first stopped at the Sogne (in English, swamp) d’Auvers, to pay respect to Our Lady.
As the old hunter commenced with his rosary, the sun, cloaked in misty gauze, shone down upon him through the trees.
The wind muttered among the pines.
A twig snapped.
Chastel turned. There, through the pines, was one of the marquis’s dogs coming toward him, in hot pursuit of—
“In a spirit of piety and confidence,” says Beast chronicler Pourcher, Chastel finished his prayers and slipped his devotional book and spectacles into a waistcoat pocket.
The monster turned back, to the dog’s surprise, and lunged at the canine, snapping, savagely biting its nose and face. The dog howled, blood running into its eyes.
Chastel took up his musket.
The Beast proceeded on its course, moving fast, winding through the trees.
Then it saw Chastel.
It slid to a stop.
Chastel did not move.
Man and menace faced one another, yards apart. Chastel ticked off all the characteristics: the immense size, the odd coloring, the cinnabar orbs.
Like a wolf and yet not a wolf.
It was a good shot.
The bullet severed the animal’s trachea. The Beast shuddered as if something possessed it. It stumbled, got up, stumbled again.
The Beast fell.
It did not get up again.
Sides heaving, gasping for breath, it eyed Chastel through chalky gunsmoke and morning drizzle. The hunter watched as the embers of its eyes faded and finally went out.
“Beast,” said Chastel softly, “thou will eat no more.”
|The local monument -- a plaque mounted on a stelae, with a marker -- honoring Jean Chastel for his service.|