Garth the Grey: Story about a Wolf & a Man, Young Family Members & a Meeting; Facts About Wolves

Background to the Story

Some lateral thinking resulting from Genna East’s poetry challenge (see link below) led me to write this piece. Apart from wanting to respond with prose as well as poetry, I kept thinking about the human/animal slant; not human versus animal but humans and animals. There are many stories, especially children’s, which are anthropomorphic. I do not wish to give my animals human traits, rather I choose to believe that they have some of the same emotions, especially herd and pack animals such as the elephant and the wolf.

This philosophy led me to a story about a wolf and a man, seemingly in separate worlds but linked in one way; pack, or family.

At first draft, I had wolf and man in combat but that scarcely happens when a wolf has never before encountered man. Here we have a deeper issue.

So let me introduce you to Garth the Grey and Gethin of Tregoth. The use of Celtic-inspired names is deliberate as this story is woven upon an age-old theme, way back in time......


Garth the Grey

Leader of the Grey Wolf pack, he lay sprawled in the green-dappled shadow of the High Fir, the snow-clad forest, his forest, surrounding him. The rest, numbering nine, were hunting. Garth the Grey had gnarled limbs, a ragged, ever-whitening muzzle and eyes which dimmed and blurred his whole world. He knew not if a shadow would become an enemy.

For how long had he been part of this pack, part of this forest? He had no idea nor did he care. He had fought for his position, claimed the best female as his life-long mate, and reigned for an eon of brief summers and cold, callous winters. His body told him this was his last, that a new leader would be chosen soon.

A primordial voice within had always existed; the survival, the endurance of the pack was all. He knew it needed strength, had to keep together, had to work against the insidious, pervading cruelty of this wondrous place.


The Pack

In the Snowy Wilderness  (By Doug Smith (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons)
In the Snowy Wilderness (By Doug Smith (Public Domain), via Wikimedia Commons) | Source

Strength is Survival

His two sons were strong, as were most of his grandsons, but the whole is only as effective as its weakest part. One grandson had determination and valour but his body was stunted, others treated him with disdain, he never won his play-battles with his peers. This was Garth’s worry; how to make this pup a worthy player in the team.

The young lad was aware of his failings. Somewhat the outcast, he chose this day to go off alone, see what he could find to prove his worth. Garth knew nothing of the youngster’s intentions.


Gethin of Tregoth

Gethin sat at table, shoveling food down his throat. His unkempt body stank of beer, his matted hair hung over a scowl thrown at all within his view. A lean figure of a wife sat opposite, sending wary, furtive glances his way. She smiled her encouragement at her son to eat his stew.

Not comprehending how he had arrived at this state of affairs, Gethin knew not how to change it. Long out of work, his liking for ale had led him further down the darkening tunnel of blurred thinking. He wanted to extract himself but had lost the drive and the wherewithal to do so as his well of alcohol dragged him by the hand, to hell. A frail, distant voice told him this was no way to live. His wife no longer recognised the man whose son she had borne. His son was afraid of his heavy hand.


Mediaeval Alley

Out of Town
Out of Town | Source

The Lad Goes

“Can’t ya eat without making a racket? Stop slurpin’! Shut your mouth!” Why couldn’t he stop shouting at the lad? The one decent part of him was the one he punished for his own disgrace.

The boy sent his mother a sliver of a smile, scraped the bench across nerve-rattling flag-stone and fled but not before his father’s fist landed a sideways blow.

He made it through the door and out onto the mud-slimed cobbles of a side alley in Tregoth. Puddles of mud-slush snow held a new crust of ice. Holding his ringing head, the lad ran, stumbled, ran, stumbled, as far as he could until his breath pulled the reins.

How many times had he thought of not returning? How many times had his gaze swept across the snowfields, surveyed that swaying, beckoning, deep green world beyond for a safe refuge. Only concern and love for his Ma had stopped him.

No more! A sinew inside him snapped. Bent double, a stitch under his ribs, he inhaled a headful of eye-stinging, lung-stabbing air. Then the fear, the excitement, the wave of despair took him. Adrenalin accelerated his feet. All he had ever wanted to do in the world pushed him towards those firs, at break-neck speed towards the forest of Garth the Grey.


A Meeting

The wolf-cub stood at the edge of the clearing, wondering which way to go. In the distance was running prey of some sort. Running towards him! He stood his ground, silent and grave, heart hammering.

The lad maintained his pace, intent only on widening that gap between past and present. The future lay ahead, somewhere. He didn’t care where. He was free!

A sense of caution invaded the air. He felt an intense arrow of steel-blue gaze. Though he stopped his snow-spraying advance as he neared the firs, his feet slid on ice-spread stone, coming to rest yards from the wolf.

Skidding to a halt broke the spell.


The World in his Eyes
The World in his Eyes | Source

A Bond

Their mutual stare held the universe.

Flight? Not likely! After all the beatings I’ve taken? After all the angst I’ve endured?

Fight? Against what? Do I see aggression? Do I see a threat?

I feel fear but it’s exciting. I feel excitement but it’s an unknown.

The lad’s foot moved forward without direction. The wolf-cub bowed his head in welcome.

Hesitant, be-numbed fingers grabbed the coarse, grey-mottled forest of fur. Leather skin, deep down, shivered in a frisson of acceptance. Two souls melded for eternity.

The wolf-cub turned and led the man-boy into the forest.


Back to the Pack

Garth the Grey remained ‘neath the High Fir as the pack had left him, though now his she-wolf lay beside him to offer warmth. Through the high pines came silent figures. His sons had returned. Their blurred silhouettes were nonetheless recognisable to him; the scent confirmed their presence. His eyes were drawn to an indistinct image beyond his range.

What his mind saw made him try to stand; he failed and his body returned to his snow-hollowed couch. His head remained proud, ears forward. Did he see the weakling leading a man-boy? Did he see the failure doing something none other had done?


Triumphant Return

Before him stood wolf-cub and man-boy, interwoven, both fearless and defiant. The other wolves held back, submitting to the aura of this powerful bond.

Garth the Grey no longer feared for his pack’s survival. The weakling had proved himself above any other, taking a risk but with wisdom; there was no threat here. Garth saw courage and certainty in the wolf-cub’s demeanour . He could sense the strength that each gave the other. His grandson would lead when his turn came.

That night Garth licked the face of his she-wolf, howled to the moon and gave up his thanks, his soul breaking free of that broken body.

His spirit remained to guide his grandson through his learning.


Communication

By Retron, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
By Retron, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Epilogue

The man-boy remained within his pack for some years. He built a shelter, the wolves showed him sources of food, shared some of their own. He learnt a sense of family, honour and loyalty from these strong, stern creatures with hearts as wide as the universe. He saw his wolf-brother become leader. They remained a joint force to be reckoned with, even when the man he became had rejoined his own kind.

Garth the Grey’s spirit watched over him as one of his own.

Gethin of Tregoth mourned the son he had driven out of his home, a son whose love he had forsaken, a son lost to the forest, at first presumed dead from cold, hunger or wolf-attack. Some months after the disappearance, Gethin was found swinging from a beam in the garret, bereft of the only thing of worth he had ever created. His wife felt the boy’s live spirit in her heart; the news reached her a little later that her son had chosen the forest. She would wait for his return.

..................................................................................................................................


Grey/Gray Wolf (Canis lupus)

  • also known as the timber wolf or western wolf
  • a ‘canid’ native to the wilderness and remote areas of North America and Eurasia
  • largest existing member of its family
  • like the red wolf, distinguished from other ‘Canis’ species by larger size and less pointed features, notably on ears and muzzle
  • long and bushy winter fur, mostly mottled grey, though nearly pure white, red or brown-black also occur
  • closest relative is the domestic dog
  • social animal, traveling in nuclear families - mated pair and their adult offspring
  • average pack: family of 5-11 animals (1-2 adults, 3-6 juveniles, 1-3 yearlings)
  • sometimes 2 or 3 such families
  • exceptionally large packs of 42 have been known
  • canid - a mammal of the dog family


Romulus & Remus discovered by Faustulus, with the she-wolf & woodpecker

Peter Paul Rubens  (from Public Domain)
Peter Paul Rubens (from Public Domain) | Source

Romulus & Remus, Suckled by a She-Wolf

Romulus and Remus were the twin sons of Rhea Silvia, a vestal virgin threatened with death if anyone found out she had given birth. The boys were sent to presumed certain death but first discovered by a she-wolf (lupa) who suckled them and then they were fed by a wood-pecker (picus).

They were later found by a shepherdess, Faustulus.


The painting by Rubens is in the Capitoline Museums.


Sources & Links

What do you think of Wolves?

Are they......

  • mere predators to be treated as dangerous?
  • animals with intelligence and emotions?
  • interesting to see in the wild?
  • safer to be kept in zoos?
  • better left to their own devices, as nature intended?
  • just like any other animal?
See results without voting

More by this Author


Comments 26 comments

annart profile image

annart 9 months ago from SW England Author

RandaHandler: Thank you for your kind comments; I like 'cool tale'! I think these animals deserve more kudos than they get. Thanks for the visit.

Ann


RandaHandler profile image

RandaHandler 9 months ago from USA

Beautiful pictures to go along with a cool tale! Wolves are interesting animals and not mere hunters. Nice to see them portrayed in a more endearing light as with the inner connection of the boy and the wolf cub.


annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Shyron, for your lovely comments and for sharing. I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time.

Blessings and hugs to you too.

Ann


Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 12 months ago

Ann, I loved your story and I am sure Genna is proud of what you have written.

And I will share.

Blessings an Hugs Dear Ann.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Vellur. Yes, I had to make it clear that the mother didn't suffer. Glad you enjoyed it; thanks for reading.

Ann


Vellur profile image

Vellur 14 months ago from Dubai

Beautiful story enjoyed reading. The father regrets and the mother wait for her son's return. At least she got to know her son was alive.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Alicia. Glad you enjoyed it. I like it called a 'tale' rather than a story, so thanks for that. Probably because it's supposed to be 'of a time gone by'.

Great to see you. Thanks for your support.

Ann


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 14 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a wonderful story, Ann! I loved it. Thank you for sharing your creativity and such an impressive tale.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

What a lovely comment, Mary! Thank you. I was trying to be on the lines of an old-fashioned tale so 'folk-tale' suits me very well; I'm very pleased you liked it. I love your phrase 'blanket of peace' and I always love a happy ending!

Great to see you today, Mary!

Ann


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 14 months ago from New York

Ann this is beyond amazing! All the elements of a true folk tale woven into a blanket of peace for both the wolf and the boy. I was cheering them both on and happy to see their happy ending! Life often leads us to places we least suspect.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Devika; good to see you. Yes, they are fascinating. Thanks for the comment. I hope all's well with you.

Ann


DDE profile image

DDE 14 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Wolves are interesting to see in the wild. A creative mind.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Frank! Your words are music to my ears; your opinion means a lot to me as you are a master story-teller. I like to weave a tapestry so I'm so pleased that there is one here! It's so difficult to see it objectively.

Ann


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 14 months ago from Shelton

Annart, wow wonderfully drawn.. a challenge yes, but you really know how to spin a tale.. well paced, interesting and a multi-layered tapestry of fiction... Frank


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

What a lovely thing to say, Patricia. I love that you think it 'has a ring to it'; that means a lot to me.

Thanks, too, for sharing. I needed a boost this morning and you've certainly done that!

This little bit of England in France sends its angels to you too.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thank you, Dora. I'm so pleased you like this. I think the spriritual connections are far deeper than we realise and I'm convinced that animals have a sixth sense; in fact, we probably do too if only we can be bothered to recognise and use it! I appreciate your support. Good to see you!

Ann


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 14 months ago from sunny Florida

Ann...you have woven a tale that has a ring to it...it is one that will live on for that reason. Man and beast in unity...lessons here for each of us to consider and reflect upon....

Shared pinned g+ tweeted

Angels are headed your way this wee early morning time ps


MsDora profile image

MsDora 14 months ago from The Caribbean

Seems like something within man connects with something within beast more smoothly than their physical bodies will allow. Much depth and inspiration in this magical tale. I admire your talent, Ann.


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

bill, you've made my day. I was not 100% happy with this and I'm not sure that I got across a couple of things - one was the inner dialogue of wolf and boy when they met which is supposed to be implicit by the 'this side/that side' tack (similar comments but one first, then the other) - does it work? Does any of that make sense?!!!

Anyway, you're very kind and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Maybe it's just one those 'niggly' days but then you probably don't have those!

Have a marvellous Monday! Off to read your mailbag.

Ann


billybuc profile image

billybuc 14 months ago from Olympia, WA

Isn't the creative process remarkable? Our muse sits back, waits for inspiration and then takes off at a gallop...and wonderful works such as this are the result.

You really are a very gifted writer. I hope you know that.

bill


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, John. It was just something going over and over in my mind. Don't think I've pulled it off quite as I wanted; I reworked it several times and decided to publish and be damned! Strangely for me, the poetry came more easily and worked better. Ah well...!

Hope you week is a good one, John.

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Thanks, Flourish, for your kind words. I love wolves too; they have such a mystery about them and are such 'regal' creatures, second in my mind to the lion. I just love that blue-eyed stare!

Have a great week!

Ann


annart profile image

annart 14 months ago from SW England Author

Hi Ruby! Thank you for your lovely words. I must admit I wasn't quite sure about this one but if it brought you those emotions then I've done some of the job I intended.

Hope you have a great week.

Ann


Jodah profile image

Jodah 14 months ago from Queensland Australia

Ann, I love that you were inspired to write this wonderful story by Genna's challenge. It was an enjoyable read


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA

Beautiful, creative response to the challenge. Very well done! I love wolves.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 14 months ago from Southern Illinois

Ann, this is such an amazing story. It brought tears and anger at the drunken father, and happiness when the boy met the wolf-cub. I did feel sadness when the father took his life. Alcohol is such a cruel addiction. I dearly loved this story. It is outstanding and should be honored by Hub Pages..Hugs.

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