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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Fairy Tale of the Knight's Hound: from the Gesta Romanorum

The Knight’s Hound


There once lived a noble knight who had a single son whom he loved so much that he employed three nursemaids to care for him. But he also had a falcon and a  bird dog who were loyal to him. The hound had the virtue that when the knight rode out the dog ran ahead of him while he sat on his steed and jumped and was cheerful. But if things were going poorly for the knight, the hound pounced on the reins, held them fast and barked. In this way the knight recognized whether he should ride out or remain home and that is why he loved the hound more. Once it happened that the knight rode out to a tournament and the three nursemaids all left the house and no one remained inside. Only the hound lay by the child in its crib.  A horrible snake crept toward it and wanted to kill the child but the falcon saw this and fluttered over the child waking the hound. When the hound saw the snake he jumped up and pounced and they fought with each other until the dog killed the snake. But the snake had bit the dog so that it bled, and the floor around the cradle was full of blood, the cradle itself tipped over, but the child was  unharmed. When the hound had killed the viper, he lay down near the wall and licked his wounds. The nursemaids returned home and saw the cradle overturned and the hound’s bloody snout. They believed the hound had killed the infant and so they ran from there. The lady of the house encountered them and asked what the matter was. They said that while they were out the hound, whom the master loved so much, had killed the child. When the lady heard this she rushed home but the three nursemaids continued their flight. During this time the knight returned home and found his wife crying. He asked her what the matter was. She said the hound that she loved so had bit and killed her child. The knight erschrak and hastened in anger to his house and when the hound heard him coming he ran toward him playfully around his feet. The knight full of rage pulled out his sword and struck the hound dead and then he went to the child. He found it healthy and happy, the cradle overturned and the viper dead and ripped apart lying nearby. He then realized that the hound had killed the viper to save his child’s life and he was very sorry that he had believed the words of his wife and had wrongly punished the hound for his loyalty. 

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