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Le meunier des fonds de Quarreux

The Southern part of Belgium and especially the Ardennes, is a wild and hilly area covered with forests full of legends and myths. One of them is related to a place called ‘Les fonds de Quarreux’, on the Ambleve river near the city of Aywaille. At this very specific place the riverbed is packed with huge quartzite rocks which gave birth to a legend called the Miller of the fonds de Quarreux.

A couple of centuries ago, a miller called Hubert Chefneux lived by the Ambleve river in the area of Quarreux. Hubert was very poor and he had great difficulties in sustaining his family. His windmill was in terrible condition so that he couldn’t really make a living out of it. One day that he was walking along the river, a man came to him and said: ‘Go in this direction and you’ll see the most beautiful mill you’ve ever seen.’ So Hubert went and indeed, he saw the most magnificent mill he had ever witnessed. He thought of all the profit he could have made if he had had such a tool to work with.
On his way back home, Hubert came across another mysterious man, He told the stranger about what he had seen and the man listened carefully to him. Apparently, fate proved to be a great provider because the stranger told Hubert that he was a member of a builder corporation in Liege. Hubert said: ‘Well, if someone was able to build me such a mill, I would give my soul away.’ Seeing that Hubert was ready to sell his soul for a building, the man told him that he was one of the devil’s acquaintances and that he might be able to arrange a meeting for them. The stranger used the smoothest talk to convince Hubert to meet the devil. Hubert, who was desperate for a better situation for his family, finally accepted the deal.
He was supposed to meet the devil in seven days at midnight at the same place. When he got back home, he didn’t tell anything to his wife, Catherine, but she could see that he seemed pretty nervous and disturbed. The next day, Hubert went to the pub of the village. There, under the influence of alcohol, he told his story to one of his friends. Catherine who was hidden in the kitchen of the pub, overheard the conversation and got terrified at the idea of her husband selling his soul for a better windmill.
On the seventh day, Huber left the house shortly before midnight. His wife secretly followed him to his rendezvous. There she saw him discussing with the devil: Hubert sold his soul for a new mill that would make him able to sustain his family and to become wealthy. The next morning, their old windmill had been replaced by a brand new one. For a couple of weeks, the windmill worked perfectly and Huber started to make more and more money. But his wife couldn’t let him loose his soul and she decided to do something about it. The next night, she went into the new building and started to pray Our Lady of Dieupart. The next day, the sails of the windmill refused to move at all. As a result, Hubert could not work and so could not sustain his family: the deal was broken… The devil was in a mad rage because he could not get Hubert’s soul because of Our Lady of Dieupart’s protection. In his rage, he destroyed the building with thunder and all the blocks of stone that were used to build it were thrown away into the river, where they remain visible even nowadays. Hubert and his wife never got rich after all, but they lived a happy life and every time Hubert walked along the river, the rocks reminded him of Catherine’s love for him.

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