Friday, July 8, 2016


Some legends seem so real that they can capture lives and spark great loyalty.

Gwen the Alligator proudly tells visitors she’s named after King Arthur’s Queen Guinevere and recounts the valiant and perilous adventures of the noble king, his beautiful wife, the doomed affair between Sir Lancelot and Guinevere, the warring Knights of the Round Table, the traitorous Mordred, and Arthur’s fatal last battle. Though centuries have passed, young Gwen still holds hope for Arthur’s return, sure in her dream she will be his bride this time around. 

At Caerleon in Southern Wales, Gwen the Alligator who lived her whole life in the moat around castle Camelot, welcomes visitors to King Arthur’s realm for a retelling of the famous legends, including the quest for the Holy Grail. Gwen’s mom loved legends, tales, and folklore galore and named her newly hatched egg after Arthur’s Queen Guinevere.

Gwen tells visitors that Guinevere was beautiful, noble, gentle, and loved high tea. Tragedy struck when Guinevere fell in love with Lancelot, a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, itself a wedding gift from Guinevere’s father. Lancelot was brave and loyal to Arthur, and Guinevere knew her romance with Lancelot was wrong but his valiant deeds to save her from death and danger made her fall in love.

King Arthur tried to ignore Guinevere’s unfaithfulness, but then he knew her adultery was destroying his kingdom. Arthur fought Lancelot for Guinevere, the Knights took sides and fought each other, eventually disbanding. After time passed, Guinevere returned to Arthur and was thereafter loyal to her rightful king. After the Knights of the Round Table fell, King Arthur asked his nephew Mordred to take charge of the kingdom when he had to travel. Mordred plotted an evil scheme to make himself king and take Guinevere as his bride. Guinevere refused Mordred’s offer and locked herself in the Tower of London so he could not get to her.

When Arthur returned, he fought Mordred to the death, but was himself mortally wounded. Both Arthur and Mordred died, leaving Guinevere alone. King Arthur’s tombstone read: “Here lies Arthur, King that was, King that shall be, and he is great because he fought against evil and kept the land free. He helped those in danger find jubilee. The Holy Grail was a sovereign quest, but now King Arthur is forever at rest.” Guinevere entered a convent, repented, prayed, helped the poor, and vowed to never see Lancelot again. After she died, the church buried her next to Arthur and they all lived on in mythology. 

Gwen the Alligator insists to visitors they’ll never be the same from having learned how she got her name and knowing that King Arthur is supposed to return one day. She explains that an alligator’s fate is a castle, not a swamp. Confident she is Arthur’s bride-to-be, a British alligator that will guard his castle and sing his legends until King Arthur valiantly returns, Gwen pledges her allegiance to King Arthur and the Holy Grail.

Copyright 2022 Jennifer Waters

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