Mournful had mystified Joseph and Cecile since her birth. Her moo which was not at all like that of her mother or sisters. Her voice resembled most of all a siren, that is to say a "sea cow" crying out in the fog, tearful and sad. Cecile had also noticed that Mournful had a droopy, weak tail which unlike the others she didn't swish about to get rid of the flies which pestered her miserably. Her milk had a very strange appearance, as if it had turned. Lumpy and clotted, it tasted sour and had to be thrown out.
This is the tale of a time when the Richelieu Valley was dotted with many small farms. Joseph and Cecile lived on one of these. They had a beautiful garden and a dozen dairy cows. Actually, they had thirteen but the thirteenth didn't really count because she was somewhat peculiar. Cecile affectionately called her Mournful.
Cecile took pity on her and called the vet. Joseph, on the other hand, was downright uneasy. The vet listened to Mournful's heart, heard her plaintive mooing, looked into the depths of her eyes - and scratched his head.
-"Joseph, this animal is depressed, a very uncommon condition in cows. We must try to do something to raise her spirits".
The veterinary prescribed the following treatment: the music of Willie Lamothe, clover hay (rich in vitamins), a good gulp of beer the night before a full moon and regular currying with a bundle of sage.
Alas, despite Cecile’s loving care Mournful continued her doleful plaints.
Summer had arrived, the weather was warm and beautiful and the couple fancied a short vacation in the Lower St. Lawrence. Why not farm out Mournful to their cousin Serge? He had a house on the flank of Mont St-Hilaire, some thirty miles from their farm. It was quiet there and the mountain air might do her good. The couple left. Mournful toured around her new enclosure and Serge gave her a generous dose of beer. Already she seemed more bright and buoyant. Everything was under control. The full moon bathed the garden in its soft light. Mournful appeared calm and serene. Satisfied with his first day as a farmer Serge went off to bed.
Mournful, who had taken on the habit of making little awkward jumps when the moon made her happy, was alert. Helped by the beer she frisked about, almost joyously. Suddenly she leaped over the fence at the bottom of the garden and found herself free in the bushes at the foot of the mountain. Giddy at first but soon full of spirit she followed a little wild path which drew her into the secrecy of the forest. What a magical place! Guided by the same instinct which had taken her to the lake and the Pain de Sucre Mournful returned to her garden. She jumped the fence and fell asleep like an angel. The sun was coming up and birds already singing. Serge got up at daybreak and found the cow sound asleep.
The second night was as the first with the moon full and bright. While Serge snored Mournful made her leap over the fence and tasted the delights of the mountain. Her feet and skin tingling agreeably as if the spirit of the forest had invaded her body, she seemed to be transformed. She even began to whisk her tail. Never had she been known to be in such good spirits, even light-headed and elated.
Intrigued, Serge kept his eyes opened. At the first full moon, looking out the window to see if all was well, he saw Mournful gambol about and "oops" up she jumped over the fence to take the path in the woods. Beneath the benevolent light of the moon Serge followed her on the mountain trails. What a dose of energy and sense of freedom! Serge hurried to get home before the cow did. When he got up for milking time he found Mournful calm, clear of eye, tail a-swish. Her milk had just a few clotted specks and tasted only faintly off. Surely it was the mountain which cure her mysterious depression.