by Quentin Reynolds
Montreal is a very large city. Like all large cities, it has small streets.
Streets, for example, Like Prince Edward Street-only four blocks
long. No one knew Prince Edward Street as well as Pierre Dupin. He
had delivered milk to the families on the street for thirty years.
wagon. In Montreal, especially in the French part of the city, animals
and children are often given the names of saints. Pierre's horse had
no name when it first came to the milk company. Pierre was told he
could use the horse. He moved his hand gently and lovingly across
the horse's neck and sides. He looked into the animal's eyes.
shining out of its eyes. I will name him after Saint Joseph, who also
was a gentle and beautiful spirit."
After about a year, the horse, Joseph, got to know every house that
received milk, and every house that did not.
to find his wagon already filled with bottles of milk and Joseph
waiting for him, Pierre would call, "Bonjour, my old friend," as he
climbed into his seat, while Joseph turned his head toward the
The other drivers would smile. They said that the horse smiled at
Then Pierre would softly call to Joseph, "Avance, mon ami." And the
two would go proudly down the street. Without any order from
Pierre, the wagon would roll down three streets. Then it turned right
for two streets, before turning left to Saint Catherine Street. The
horse finally stopped at the first house on Prince Edward Street.
down off his seat and put a bottle of milk at the front door. Then
the horse walked past the next two houses and stopped at the
third. And without being told, Joseph would turn around and come
back along the other side. Ah yes, Joseph was a smart horse.
Pierre would talk about Joseph. "I never touch the reins. He knows
just where to stop. Why, a blind man could deliver my milk with
Joseph pulling the wagon."
And so it went on for years-always the same. Pierre and Joseph
slowly grew old together. Pierre's huge walrus mustache was white
now and Joseph didn't lift his knees so high or raise his head quite
so much. Jacques, the bossman of the stables, never noticed that
they both were getting old until Pierre appeared one morning
carrying a heavy walking stick.
"Mais oui, Jacques," Pierre said. "One grows old. One's legs get
"Well, you should teach that horse to carry the milk to the front
door for you," Jacques told him. "He does everything else."
The horse knew every one of the forty families that got milk on
Prince Edward Street. The cooks knew that Pierre could not read or
write; so, instead of leaving orders in an empty milk bottle, they
simply sang out if they needed an extra bottle. "Bring an extra
bottle this morning, Pierre," they often sang when they heard
Pierre's wagon rumble over the street.
Pierre also had a wonderful memory. When he arrived at the stable
he always remembered to tell Jacques, "The Pacquins took an extra
bottle this morning; the Lemoines bought a pint of cream..."
money, but Jacques, liking Pierre, never asked him to do this. All
Pierre had to do was arrive at five in the morning, walk to his
wagon, which always was in the same place, and deliver his milk. He
returned about two hours later, got down from his seat, called a
cheery "Au revoir" to Jacques, then walked slowly down the street.
One day the president of the milk company came to inspect the
early morning milk deliveries. Jacques pointed to Pierre and said,
"Watch how he talks to that horse. See how the horse listens and
how he turns his head toward Pierre? See the look in that horse's
eyes? You know, I think those two share a secret. I have often felt it.
It's as though they both sometimes laugh at us as they go off
Pierre...Pierre is a good man, Monsieur President, but he is getting
old. Maybe he ought to be given a rest, and a small pension."
has been on this job now for thirty years. All who know him, love
him. Tell him it is time he rested. He'll get his pay every week as
But Pierre refused to leave his job. He said his life would be nothing
if he could not drive Joseph every day. "We are two old men," he
said to Jacques. "Let us wear out together. When Joseph is ready to
leave, then I too will do so."
There was something about Pierre and his horse that made a man
smile tenderly. Each seemed to get some hidden strength from the
other. As Pierre sat in his seat, with Joseph tied to the wagon,
neither seemed old. But when they finished their work-then Pierre
walked lamely down the street, seeming very old indeed, and the
horse's head dropped and he walked slowly to his stall.
still dark. The air was like ice. Snow had fallen during the night.
Jacques said, "Pierre, your horse, Joseph, didn't wake up. He was
very old, Pierre. He was twenty-five and that is like being seventyfive
for a man."
"Oh, of course you can," Jacques said softly. "He is over in his stall,
looking very peaceful. Go over and see him."
good as Joseph. Why, in a month you'll teach him to know all the
homes as well as Joseph did. We'll...." The look in Pierre's eyes
stopped him. For years Pierre had worn a large heavy cap that came
down low over his eyes. It kept out the bitter cold wind. Now,
Jacques looked into Pierre’s eyes and he saw something that
shocked him. He saw a dead, lifeless look in them.
"Take the day off, Pierre," Jacques said But Pierre was gone limping
down the street. Pierre walked to the comer and stepped into the
street. There was a warning shout from the driver of a big truck.
There was the screech of rubber tires as the truck tried to stop. But
Pierre... Pierre heard nothing.
"I couldn't help it," the truck driver said, "He walked in front of my
truck. He ... he never saw it, I guess. Why, he walked as though he
those growths? This man has been blind for five years." He turned
to Jacques, "You say he worked for you? Didn't you know he was
"No ... no .. ." Jacques said softly. "None of us knew. Only one... only