Joseph was a young boy not unlike many young boys we know. He enjoyed games and riddles, and wondered about marvelous and magnificent things- like a Giant’s treasure or a witch’s hearth or a dragon’s lair. Sometimes he fancied himself a knight, a pirate, or a stealthy assassin. With such ideas in his head he fell asleep one night in his warm familiar bed.

He awoke not long after in a dark place, not like his bed at all. In fact, when he awoke he was standing upright, with no furniture within his immediate grasp, though he was still in his blue pajamas. If he was not a child, he might have thought he did what they call “sleep walking”. But, child as he was, he did not think too hard about the awkward manner of waking.

Rubbing his eyes and adjusting to the darkness of the strange place, he soon realised he was in a rather large unlit room. It had a very high ceiling and very tall archways to other, large unlit rooms. He was in a massive house.

“She’s coming!” A small voice cut through the silence and startled Joseph. It was the voice of another boy. “She’s coming, we have to run!”

Just then, several boys pushed past Joseph, treading softly in their own pajamas. Not knowing what to think, Joseph watched them exit through an archway on the north side of the room. Then he heard a loud, deep cackle of a woman behind him, to the south. He turned and saw what he thought was a Giantess emerging from another archway. But she was no Giantess, she was a massive demonness with tusks protruding from her drooling mouth, and eyes unnaturally large.

She came striding, surprisingly gracefully, into the room, smiling a wicked smirk at Joseph where he stood. Considering the recent sequence of events, Joseph understood why the other boys had been running. Knowing that he needed to act fast to escape, he turned and ran away from the demonness, towards the northern archway.

He ran through a darkened hallway, and found a rather small door nestled in a corner. When he pushed it open, he emerged outside. After taking in the vastness of the night (which included a glance up into the cloudless, moonless sky, and a deep intake of cool air), Joseph looked frantically around for a place to hide. There was a garden with hedges too low to fit underneath, and a large downward sloping lawn with not one boulder or tree. Beyond the lawn, however, there was thick wooded area, a good many degrees darker than the rest of the night. Without hesitation he bolted across the lawn and garden towards the trees.

When he reached the edge of the woods he suddenly stopped. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and he felt very afraid of something in the woods. Two red eyes looked down on him, and moved slowly closer and closer until Joseph could make out the form of a very large silvery wolf.

The wolf growled maliciously, and with abrupt inspiration, Joseph recited a prayer:

Wolf of night and darkened wood

if you see me, I am good

I’m not fierce, I am no beast

I’m Gods prayer, I am Peace

 

For reasons unknown to him, the wolf stopped growling and lowered his ears as if tamed. Taking the opportunity to run, Joseph doubled back towards the house. He ran as fast as he could around the back of the house until he reached a winding staircase leading to an upper balcony. Just as he was about to climb the staircase, the demonness lunged at him from a hidden door on his right. Startled, he stood stalk still, too terrified to move or cry.

But, before the demonness could grab hold of him, something silvery and large collided with her large tusked face. It was the wolf. It bit, and scratched and snarled the demonness into submission. After few shocked seconds, Joseph backed into the shadow behind the staircase, beneath the balcony. He watched the demonness be ripped into pieces, and he inwardly composed a prayer of thanks to the large silver wolf. After some moments, the demonness cried out in pain and fled. Not into the house, not into the wood. She fled into mid-air, and disappeared entirely.

The wolf, uninjured, walked easily away, across the lawn, into the thick of the wood, and disappeared into the shadows. But unlike the demonness, the wolf was not truly gone, it was only hidden, peering through the darkness with its reddish eyes. Joseph looked fondly after it, feeling a rush of gratitude and love for the beast who had saved his life.

Gradually he and the boys emerged from their hiding places, relieved and exhausted. They celebrated the fall of the demonness, and just as they began to seriously wonder how they had all arrived there in the first place, they became very dizzy and fell down.

Joseph woke up, safe in his warm bed. If it wasn’t for his dirt and grass stained pajamas, he would have thought it was all a dream.

francis_leads_wolf-1912-hj-ford
Francis Leading the Wolf of Gubbio. H.J. Ford, 1912