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from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961
I am sure that many card players have heard the expression "You're another Kinchler", but they probably don't know where it originated. This is the story behind it.
Fortune Harbour is a small community in Notre Dame Bay. In its early days it was a thriving fishing community and men from England, Ireland and many parts of Europe settled there. Men of unknown nationalities also came, and such a man was Kinchler.
"Forty-fives" was a very popular pastime in those days and Kinchler would travel miles to find a game. In fact, nearly every night he would walk about three miles to do so. One night he walked to a place called Webber's Bight, two-and-a-half miles from Fortune Harbour. The men there were kidding him about his zeal for cards and said they thought he would play cards with anyone, anywhere. Jokingly he replied, "Yes! I would have a game of cards with the devil himself."
Some time after midnight Kinchler left Webber's Bight to return home. It was a beautiful moonlit night. About half-way home he met a strange man who stopped to ask where he was going so late at night. Kinchler said he was returning from a card game and he went on to tell the stranger how much he enjoyed a game of cards. When the stranger asked him if he would like to have a game, Kinchler replied in the affirmative.
Nearby was a large rock with a flat top, and this they used for a table. The game was progressing satisfactorily until the last hand, when Kinchler was in sight of game. The other man didn't seem too pleased to be beaten, and only then did Kinchler notice the twitching tail protruding from his strange partner's back.
Still not frightened, Kinchler triumphantly played his final card. It beat the card held by the stranger and so angered him that in laying his card he left the print of his hand in the solid rock table. Kinchler knew then that he had in fact played cards with the devil. So the saying went around that Kinchler was the only man who had played cards with - and beaten - the devil himself.
For many years people went out of their way to see this rock with the print of the devil's hand on it. I do not know if it is still there, but Kinchler's feat is commemorated almost every time the cards come out on any table in Newfoundland.
This page transcribed by James
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)
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