The Gardinel

A little sketch by Manly Wade Wellman, called “Why They’re Named That” (1963). As far as I can tell, Wellman invented the gardinel, based on his knowledge of Appalachian folklore. I hope to post more about Wellman’s Appalachian-inspired weird tales soon. The gardinel first appeared in Wellman’s 1949 short story “Come Into My Parlor,” which I will have to get my hands on, somehow.

Cabin2Original image by Andrea Schafthuizen; re-edited

If the gardinel’s an old folks’ tale, I’m honest to tell you it’s a true one.

Few words about them are best, I should reckon. They look some way like a shed or cabin, snug and rightly made, except the open door might could be a mouth, the two little windows might could be eyes. Never you’ll see one on main roads or near towns; only back in the thicketty places, by high trails among tall ridges, and they show themselves there when it rains and storms and a lone rarer hopes to come to a house to shelter him.

The few that’s lucky enough to have gone into a gardinel and win out again, helped maybe by friends with axes and corn knives to chop in to them, tell that inside it’s pinky-walled and dippy-floored, with on the floor all the skulls and bones of those who never did win out; and from the floor and the walls come spouting rivers of wet juice that stings, and as they tell this, why, all at once you know that inside a gardinel is like a stomach.

Down in the lowlands I’ve seen things grow they name the Venus flytrap and the pitcher plant, that can tole in bugs and flies to eat. It’s just a possible chance that the gardinel is some way the same species, only it’s so big it can tole in people.

Gardinel. Why they’re named that I can’t tell you, so don’t inquire me.

14 thoughts on “The Gardinel

    1. You’re welcome! I’ve always liked the few things I’d read by Manly Wade Wellman, but I’m liking him even more now.

    1. Wellman’s Balladeer John stories are fairly different from his other fantasy and sci-fi. I love them. I’ve been meaning to post about it, but I haven’t had the time…

      His non-fiction books about the Civil War and North Carolina history are supposed to be fairly good, too. Haven’t checked them out yet.

    1. Thanks! I still haven’t gotten my hands on “Come into My Parlor” — I’m still hoping. Interesting that in the little sketch I quoted, the narrator (Silver John, I assume) theorizes that the gardinel might be the result of natural evolution, like a venus flytrap. Whereas in “Sin’s Doorway” the gardinel is clearly supernatural.

      Either way, it’s a fun idea.

  1. A gardinel is a little shelter for a guard, as at Buckingham Palace, and in various cartoons showing guards.

  2. There’s a brief reference to what is obviously a gardinel in Karl Edward Wagner’s short story ‘Demonlord’s Moon’ collected in ‘Nightwinds’. Manly Wade Wellman’s gardinel may have been inspired by a Native American story about a hill, with a cave for a mouth, which ate people. I can’t remember the details of the story, but it is included in ‘A Book of Goblins’ edited by Alan Garner

    1. Ah! Another reason for me to get my hands on ‘A Book of Goblins’… Thanks for the pointer to the Wagner story! He’s another author I should read more of.

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