The ancient oak of la Laita
In those days, a young couple were promised in mariage. Tradition decreed they could marry the following day after 'the pardon of Toul-Foen, the birds pardon which occurs every June at the forest entrance near Quimperlé. One evening when the pair returned to their village after visiting parents in the parish of Guidel, they went down to Carnoët to cross the river.
Guern, the young man, called the boatman and said to his fiancé Maharit, to wait for him while he went to his Godfather's cottage nearby to light his pipe. The ferryman arrived and Maharit stepped into the boat, surprised that it moved so soon away from the riverbank, thinking that he was joking. She asked him to please wait for her cousin, just to prevent any gossip. But the boat slipped away rapidly down stream in the current.
" Stop, old man Pouldu, stop, the poor girl cried out in a desperate tone ; what will Loïc Guern say to such sillyness ? "
Her cries all in vain : the boatman, motionless, not a word or a glance, seemed unresponsive as the boat slipped away down stream further and further away.......
Maharit, quite overwhelmed, turned crying out for her fiancé to help. Along the darkened riverbank, she could see spirits appearing in their cloaks reaching out their hands towards her menacingly. It was the 'dead women of Commore', recognisable by the bloody knife handles sticking out from their stomachs. Maharit screamed out in terror and fell out of sight into the boat as it disappeared around the riverbend.
Guern arrived at the crossing at that moment, calling out to the boatman in all directions. He waited and then called out again. He glared anxiously at the river but saw nothing, nothing but the peaceful dark waters. He listened for a long time but heard nothing, nothing but the nightingale singing on a branch.
_ the boat is already far far away from here, said an old beggar woman getting up from among the rushes; she may have looked back curiously and forgotten to make the sign of the cross as she entered the boat.
_ You must be mad woman, said the peasant, what sort of a devil are you taking me for?
And off he ran down the river bank for the rest of the night like a lost soul, calling out desperately after his fiancée and the boatman everytime.
Around sunrise, Guern returned to the village, he called on Maharit at her parents' house, everywhere; no one had seen the young girl. He spend the following days searching down every path and through the bushes and woods, but without trace. Finally, after three days, he was sitting down exhausted and broken on a rock by the river, he saw the old beggar passing by. She had these words for him:
_ No then ! poor Guernik, have you found Maharit, the pretty girl of Clohars-Carnoët ?
_ Alass ! no, he replied, tears streaming down his cheeks, do you know something? Oh, Sweet Saviour! Tell me something! Because Maharit was betrothed to me.
_ You poor wretch, I told you before, she looked behind her in the boat, and for this reason the boatman took her to the shore of death.
_ Where then is this beach of the dead ? Guern demanded, I'll go if I have to...
_ Ah, its a secret said the old lady, its a secret of the sorcerer who leads the ferry boat. But there is only one redeemer. God alone redeems the lost by his beloved son Jesus. I am hungry Guern, she said.
_ You poor lady said Guern, here, have my bread, I am no longer hungry after losing my Maharit.
_ Thank you Guern, you are a good Christian, and for this I give this advice. Before you board this boat, which the owner sold to the devil, go cut some holly from the Korrigans village in the forest. Dip the branch into the font at Saint-Leger chapel and then return to cross the waters.
_ What next, my good lady ?
_ When you board, make sure you look backwards and order the boatman, waving your holly at him to take you to the beach of the dead. He will obey!
Guern, full of hope followed every word spoken by the beggar woman and one night, armed with the holly, hidden from sight under his coat, he went down to the riverbank La Laita which was in flood due to a recent storm. The boatman responded to his call: boarding the boat, Guern began his rosary, but about mid-stream, fully absorbed with the thought of seeing his fiancée again, he forgot his prayers and leaned over the side. The rosary slipped from his trembling hand into the water.
Suddenly, wild cries rang out along the river, and the boat, drawn down with the current swurved away with a fearful rapidity.
But Guern, remembered his sprig of holly ; he reached for it in his coat, and holding it out towards the boatman, ordered him to take him to his fiancée; then without hesitating, he struck the sorcerer with his blessed branch. This caused him to cry out in terror, abandonning the awes and plunging headfirst into the dark swirling torrent. A few moments later, the country boy saw a dry oak rise up out of the river and take root between two rocks at the waters edge, exactly at the spot where the old oak of La Laita can be seen today.
Guern gave out a long moan in dispair as the boat drove heavily into a rock just off Saint-Maurice. The hopeless fellow managed to get ashore but not without a struggle.
Since that time, associated with all the traditional days remembering the atonement, in Clohars, Saint-Légers and surrounds, a bedraggled half naked peasant is remembered, running fixated with these words for all that would hear: "Take me to the shores of the dead. Surely you will be rewarded!"
..as burning tears poured down his mournful cheeks.