30th August

How the Wolf...

after Neil Gunn

Long ago, when humans still lived in caves and the world was a wild and dangerous place, a great enmity existed between humans and wolves. The wolves roamed the mountains and forests and killed other animals to survive, and sometimes they killed humans. And the humans had no sheep or cattle or horses, so they too lived by killing wild animals. Their weapons were of stone, wood and sinew, and to kill any beast was a task needing strength, speed and cunning.

One day a man went out to kill a deer, in order to feed his family. In the middle of the forest he came face to face with a wolf. The wolf sprang at him and the man swung at it with his stone axe, but he missed. A long, fierce fight followed, till at last the wolf lay dead. Exhausted, the man lay down to rest, and where he lay he found the body of a deer. The wolf had killed the deer and now the man felt grateful to the wolf. Then he looked a little further, and in a nest in the long grass he found a cub. And he understood why the wolf had fought so hard – not to attack him but to defend her cub, as he would have fought to defend his child from the wolf.

So now the man had the deer and the wolf to carry home, but he took the cub too, and raised it as his own, and it grew as loyal to him as if he were its mother. If danger came near the cave in any form, the wolf growled a warning, and fought alongside the man. If the man went hunting the wolf went too, and pulled down a deer if the man had wounded it.

Seasons passed, and the wolf was growing old faster than the man, so the man hunted another wolf, and killed it, and took its cub, a female this time, and the old wolf fathered his own cubs. For the man saw that he could not return to the old way of being. And the young wolves began not to know that they were wolves.

Reader: Marianne Mitchelson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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