The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Alexandre Dumas describes an incident from when he was a young man. He accompanied Mocquet, his father’s former gamekeeper, on a hunt after a wolf, along with some of the most expert hunters in the region. Each member of the party shoots at the wolf, but their bullets all miss, except for Dumas’, which passes through the wolf without wounding it. Mocquet explains that Dumas’ bullet hit the wolf because he had a scratched a cross on it but could not kill the wolf because it was not made of silver.

Mocquet then relates the story of a shoemaker named Thibault and the black wolf. As Thibault’s story begins, Jean, baron of Vez, is hunting a large deer. From his cottage in the woods, Thibault also sees the deer, and he wants it. The baron and his men abuse Thibault, who curses them in the name of the devil. He is rescued by the beautiful Agnelette and agrees to marry her.

The next day, a black wolf walking on its hind legs appears at Thibault’s door and delivers the deer to him. Recalling the curse, the wolf makes an agreement with Thibault that any evil thing he wishes on someone else will happen provided that if the wish does not turn out for Thibault’s immediate good, Thibault must give a certain number of his hairs to the devil, one for the first wish, two for the second, four for the third, and so on, exponentially. The wolf and Thibault then exchange rings to seal their pact.

Thibault wishes that an accident will befall...

(The entire section is 578 words.)