The Black Dragon of the Enchanted Wool
The Black Dragon of the Enchanted Wool
(taken from an actual old Spanish letter)
From the Captain-General of all huntsmen from the Rising to the Setting Sun, and from the Orient to the Occident
To you, Alvar Garcia, Marshall of the Welsh March.
We have read the account which you sent us in which you say that while passing through the mountains populated by the Welsh , at a place called St Peter Between the Waters, you uncoupled your hounds after a boar, and that without noticing it you had found the Black Dragon of the Enchanted Wool (which you call more simply 'This Damned Animal'). If it was as you described it, then the first name is certainly the correct one, and not 'This Damned Animal', as you put in your letter.
You also say that although you knew that it was not the quarry you were seeking, you could not refrain, for greed, from putting hounds after it, and they followed it all day until nightfall, and pushed it through the armada two or three times, and it received two rather insignificant wounds. On this point we reply that you have our sympathy as a hunter, for we know the trials you must have undergone. We are pleased that the beast is alive, and we pray God that its wounds may be indeed slight, so that it may not die a sudden death in the far-off wilderness which is its home, without hearing the voices of terrestrial angels, Amen. You say that hounds and huntsmen were with it until the first sleep, and that from then onwards they gave up one by one, except for two brave and stubborn hounds which continued alone. As for the huntsmen, men of Extremadura and Gallicia alike, to whom you sent word that they should go out through the snow across a sierra with the beast: poor fellows! Even from here I feel pain for them, so harried and shelterless, and for their sighs and groans, and the curses they must have called down on those who had brought them there. And you, wretched Alwar Garcia, heard them unmoved.
.... But let us suppose that all this happened; what did you and the huntsmen do that night? Or the following day? It appears that from that point onwards you did nothing, even though you say that there was snow on the ground and you had with you men who knew the area well. If you failed because of some non-hunting matters which you had to attend to in the service of the King or the Count, his son, I am sure that spending two days on pursuing such an adventure as this, even unsuccessfully, would have displeased the King less than abandoning it for some other cause, and his son the Count too.
If you abandoned it for lack of hounds, we believe that an adventure such as this could be achieved with the few which you had. Even if they were weary, if the huntsmen had followed the trail by sight and taken the hounds with them until they were near the place where the Beast lay, there was nothing to stop the hounds getting on his trail, especially with snow on the ground. If you say that you gave it up through stress of weather, because you could not find the resolution of true huntsmen, that is the only true reason you can offer. If that is how it was, you should write to me to tell me how you could have the heart to pursue it and then to be dissuaded by bad weather, lest I think you a poor huntsman, since you had found such an adventure and undertaken it.
But even in reply to this reason, which is the real one, the Evangelists Santo Domingo Pascual, San Joan de Fuenteovejuna, San Anto de Valdeiglesias and San Pero Pelay say that you should have waited on the weather two or three days in order to achieve such an adventure as this, with the persistence of true huntsmen. Et qui vivit et regnat Deus per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.
And may God grant it to us some November to be had in that land where walks that great monster which we have dubbed the Black Dragon of the Enchanted Wool, so that we may redeem something of your failure, and give you some recompense for the penance you underwent on that harsh day and evil night when you did battle with it.
Source: Hawk and Hound, by John Cummings.
Return to Myths Table of Contents
Last Updated February 2nd, 2000 by Sylvia