Gelert The Hound- St David’s Day
I can’t believe that I hadn’t heard of this story before. It centres around Llewlyn, who was the prince of North Wales. It was said that wolves are killing lambs, so Llewlyn goes searching for the wolves. First with his precious dog, Gelert. One day, Llewlyn went hunting without his precious dog. Llewlyn had raised Gelert from a puppy and was very fond of him. One day when Llewlyn returned from hunting, he found Gelert smeared with blood. Gelert jumped up to greet his master. The prince searched for his son and couldn’t find him. He assumed with the child’s cot empty and the amount of blood around that Gelert had killed his heir. Llewlyn stuck a sword into the dog’s side, punishing him for killing the only heir. As soon as the poor dog howled, there was a muffled cry. Llewlyn discovered his son and next to him was the body of the wolf. Then, Llewlyn realised what his loyal dog had done! 😦
The Bird Wife- An Inuit Story
Itajung, one of the Inuit tribe, was annoyed because a young woman would not marry him. He left his home and travelled to the land of the birds. Itajung came across a lake where geese were swimming. On the shore, Itajung noticed loads of boots. Carefully, Itajung crept closer and stole a pair of boots. He hid them. The geese came out of the water and were immediately alarmed about the missing boots. One of the flock was particularly disturbed by the loss of the boots. Itajung insisted to the goose that he’d give the boots back if she became his wife. The goose refused. Eventually, she gave in. Once the goose had put on the boots, she changed into a woman.
Itajung and the woman walked away together and settled down in a village by the sea. They lived there for several years and ended up having a son together. Itajung was highly respected as a decent whaler in the Inuit tribe. One day after carrying the meat to their homes, Itajung’s wife would not help out. She insisted that her food was not from the sea and refused to help. Sad, the woman went to the beach and searched for feathers with her son. As soon as she put them between her fingers and her son’s fingers, they turned into geese and flew away. The Inuit saw this and told Itajung that his wife was flying away.
Itajung searched and searched for his wife. Eventually, he came to a river where a man was chopping wood. Each piece of wood turned into salmon and swam into the river and then to the lake. He asked the man if he had seen a woman and a boy. The man tells Itajung that she lives on a little island in the large lake with another husband. Itajung says he can never reach her. The man helps Itajung by giving him the backbone of a salmon. It turns into a kayak and carries him to the island. He must keep his eyes shut though. Itajung’s child is happy to see him but the wife and new husband not so much. The woman, her husband and the child take some feathers and transform back to geese, flying away and leaving Itajung on his own! 😦
An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)