Friday, June 28, 2013

The Tale of Gelert: Faithful Irish Wolfhound Killed by His Master

The Story of Gelert 

From The Traitor's Wife, by Kathleen Kent

(Thomas of Wales retelling the tale of Gelert to Martha (Allen) Carrier who would die in the Salem Witch Trials.)

     "There is a tale of Gelert," Thomas said abruptly, his few words rumbling through the common room, which had grown almost entirely dark from the lack of new wood to the fire.  The one candle, set next to Patience, guttered and smoked, exaggerating the shading beneath every slanting surface and under every angled feature of noses, brows, and lips, so that even Will's childish face was painted to a savage mask with the ink of shadows.

"I have a tale from my own country," he began. "Gelert were a hound.  Given to Llywelyn, a prince of wales, by King John of England, Gelert were the best of hounds. He could hunt game and bring down a wolf, so large and fearless was he, and Llywelyn loved him beyond anything else but his own son."

"One day, that prince goes hunting with his hounds and his men and his hawks.  A deer were killed, but Gelert is not to be found, and the heart of the deer, by rights to be fed to gelert, grows cold within the corpse.  But no one can find him.  So the prince goes himself to home with his hounds and his men and his hawks and is greeted at the door by Gelert, his muzzle blooded up to his eyes."

"Seeing the gore, a terrible fear overcomes the prince and he runs to his son's bed to find it o'erturned, bedclothes scattered and bloody, the boy nowhere to be found.  A terrible rage builds within the prince and he takes from his belt his sword and pierces Gelert through the heart.  Upon the dying howls of the hound, the prince hears a babe's mewling, and throwing off the bedclothes, he finds his son, whole and unblemished.  And next to his son is the body of the wolf Gelert has skilled, keeping safe the boy.  From that day, Llywelyn never smiles or laughs again and it's said in Beddgelert, the place where the hound was laid, that you can of an evening hear his dyin' howls."

Hear Kathleen Kent read this story in her own voice: