A long time ago, an old fisherman from the étang de Bages, close to Sallèles-d’Aude, told me this tale.
It is the story of Jeantou who lived in a hut near the water many years ago. He was still in his prime and used to sell his catches every Saturday at the market of Sallèles-d’Aude. Though he was nice and sympathetic, girls did not really fancy him, maybe because of the strange boggy smell that he could never get rid of.
Truth be told, his life was pretty harsh in his hut and he only had a goat to keep him company. It was a beautiful white goat with little horns that gave him a little milk from time to time.
One day, as he grew weary of his lonely life, he remembered the legend of Amandine and her love life with the god Cers and decided to climb the colline Saint-Cyr, hoping the ancient god would make all his dreams come true. As he reached the top of the hill, the wind started to pick up as if to welcome him. He sat down at the foot of a tall Aleppo pine and, before long, he fell asleep, lulled by the soft wind. In his dream, the god Cers appeared to grant him 3 wishes.
When he woke up, it was almost night. He was angry at himself for being so naïve and started to walk back to his hut. As he opened the door, he was welcomed by a loud Baaaaaaaa! A joyful sound. His goat was worried but also relieved to see he was safe and sound. Jeantou looked at the animal and said: “Now that I think of it, you’re so faithful and kind that you’re the one I should marry”. And poof! His little goat turned into a beautiful lady. She had golden hair and blue eyes. He looked at her and said: “So it wasn't a dream. The god made my wish come true.” To which his new bride answered with a powerful but doubtful Baaaaa.
As days came and went, Jeantou had trouble getting used to this new and uncommunicative - though pleasant - presence. One night, as he came home pretty late, he was welcomed by another Baaaa. Slightly worried, he explained that he caught a large number of fish.
- Baaaaa?, asked the young girl.
- Yes, and after that I went to the village to sell my catch and earned a lot of money.
- Baaaa!, answered the young girl, enthusiastic.
- Oh yes, but after that, I went to the café to celebrate with my friends.
- Baaaa?, replied the young girl, seemingly upset.
- And unfortunately, I lost everything playing belote.
- After a long silence, the girl only uttered a sad Baaaa.
It was the last stroke for Jeantou who could not hold it any longer: “When you cry and only utter these sad Baaaa sounds, it makes me think I'm sharing my life with bagpipes... “
Suddenly, a loud Poof could be heard. His young bride had turned into a big and beautiful bodega. He picked it up and blew inside and was completely surprised by the mellifluous sound that came out of it. He hung it to the nail above the main door and made the promise to go play at the market the following morning.
Thanks to the bagpipes he earned a lot of money but one night he saw his instrument dancing frenetically around the bog with other weird-looking bagpipes from Brittany, Italy, Turkey and even Spain... Once home, he got angry again and told the boudègue he had, after all, “a much simpler life when he was living with his goat.” Poof! Everything disappeared... And he found himself once again with his goat.
Sometime later, he went back on top of the hill with his goat, fell asleep once again under the old Aleppo pine and dreamt of the God Cers who told him he merely wanted to teach him a lesson but might have been a bit too harsh on him, so he promised to make it up to him.
A few months later, Jeantou met a beautiful brown-haired girl who became his wife. He did not care about her mood-swings or her complaints. They had a happy life and two children who were both boudègue players. All their descendants also became “bodegaires”, or boudègue players.
On that day it was decided in Sallèles-d'Aude to celebrate each spring “Lady Boudègue” - Na Bodega - and the God Cers.
E cric e crac mon conte es acabat!