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.

10 thoughts on “The Gardinel

    • 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.

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    • 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.

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