Gault is a British masculine name, the most frequently used male name in Sutcliff's work, though not borne by any protagonist. All of Sutcliff's Gaults are Britons, though the modern surname appears to be of debated ethnic origin.
Warrior Scarlet (900 BCE) Edit
Gault is a year-mate of Drem, who passes through the Boys' House with him, but fails at his Wolf-Slaying and is killed.
- When he reached the garth of the Chieftain's steading, he found a little knot of boys already gathered before the empty doorway of the Boys' House. Vortrix the Chieftain's son, and a boy with a round head and a mouth like a frog whose name was Gault, and Luga kicking moodily at tussocks of coarse grass that grew against the wall. (6)
- "But you'd need two arms for that, too," Gault squealed in sudden excitement; and—he was a great one for playing the fool—he began to jig up and down, making the gestures of a woman working at an upright loom. They were crowding in on Drem, beginning to jostle him. It was more than half in jest at first, but the jest was an ugly one, and wearing thin over what lay underneath. "Ye-ee! Drem One-Arm—Drem One-Arm!" (6)
- "Try pawing the ground and whinnying," Gault said, "and maybe someone will give you an armful of bracken fodder." And he pulled his hair into a forelock between his eyes, and began to prance, playing the fool as he used to do when they were twelve-year-olds; and the others laughed as they had done when they were twelve-year-olds, and Urian thumped him on the head, and suddenly they were in the midst of a rough and tumble—anything to ease the tension, the sense of waiting that was like something twisted too tight in their stomachs. (7)
- The time of Wolf Slaying went by slowly, and the white pebbles dwindled in the narrow-mouthed jar; and one white pebble was smeared with red ochre before it was cast away. That was for Gault who had missed his spear thrust and would never play the fool again. They made his death fire as it had been made for the old King; but this was a small fire, for a boy who had never come to the Warrior Scarlet. (10)
- The others stood looking on; one less of them than there should have been, and Drem, glancing round at them, saw in his own mind the missing one among them; a smallish ghost in the firelight with a mouth like a frog, and felt the skin prickle a little at the back of his neck. Beside Gault's death fire he had felt that quiver for the first time. Each of the New Spears were well aware, when they went out to the Wolf Slaying, that they might not come back, but he had realized then, as he had not quite realized before, that for him, because of his arm, the chances of not coming back were greater than for the others. Maybe tomorrow they would build the death fire for him , . . But he would not think of that. He would think of coming back to the village at Sunset with the blood of his wolf on his breast and forehead, and the newly flayed skin on his shoulder. (10)
- The wolf's hot breath was on his face as he struggled wildly to shorten his spear for a dagger-stab, his chin jammed down in a despairing attempt to guard his throat; while at the same moment something in him—another Drem who was standing apart form all this—was knowing with a quiet and perfectly clearness like a sky at summer evening: "This is the end, then. It is Gault's fire for me . . ." (10)
Sun Horse, Moon Horse (100 BCE) Edit
Gault is the bronzesmith of the Iceni clan of Fortress Hill on the North Downs, and like Lubrin Dhu, an artist.
- [Lubrin's first drawings] Sinnoch's hands had begun to move once more on the strings of his harp, making again the shining sounds. His old faded gaze met the small bright eyes of Gault the Bronzesmith, whose wonderful encircling patterns on a cup or shield-boss seemed to hold the secrets of wind and stars and running water. They knew the meaning of the spoiled and half-rubbed-out lines on the hearthstone, and said to each other without words, 'Here is another of the brotherhood.' (2)
The Eagle of the Ninth (128 CE) Edit
Gault is a fisherman of the Epidaii who does not appear on page, but plays a critical role in the plot.
- “When the priest-kind found the winged god was gone,” Liathan said, with a kind of defiant willingness to talk, “my grandfather swore it was you who had taken it. He said you had the face of that Chieftain of the Red Crests he had seen killed under the wings of the god, and that he had been blind and doting not to know you for his son. But when we had followed you and searched your gear and found nothing, we said among ourselves that the grandfather grew old and fanciful. Then Gault the fisherman found your ring-brooch by the shore of the loch, and the bank pulled down and a hollow place under the waterline.” (19)
The Mark of the Horse Lord (180s CE) Edit
Gault the Strong is a chieftain of the Dalriadain and the leader of the conspiracy to depose Liadhan. He appears to be second-in-command of the Dalriadain war host during the campaign against the Caledones.
- A man in his full prime, certainly well under forty, and of giant strength, to judge by the almost grotesque thickness of neck and shoulder and the hand clenched, as though it did not know how to hold anything lightly, about the bronze wine cup he had just set down. His mouth was dry and ragged at the edge, as though he had a habit of chewing his lower lip; black brows almost met across the bridge of his nose, and on cheek and forehead showed the fine blue spiral lines of tattooing that had earned the far northerners the name of the Painted People. (3)
- The man at the table answered him with a nod, and spoke directly to Phaedrus in an outlandish form of the Celtic tongue. (3)
- Seated, he had seemed a big man, but the gladiator found with a sense of shock that he was looking steeply down at him, for his body was set on strong bowlegs so short that he was almost a dwarf. (3)
- Indeed the tongue he spoke was full of odd inflections and cadences that would have made it almost a foreign tongue to most of Phaedrus’s kind. (3)
- Gault had dipped a finger in the spilled wine, and as though not conscious of what he was doing, had begun to draw patterns on the table top as he talked. It was a trick that Phaedrus was to come to know well as time went by. (3)
- “Some of us fought.” Gault fingered a long white scar that writhed up his forearm, and left it streaked with the crimson of the spilled wine that stained his fingers. “Most of us died. She had the northern clans, where the Old Blood runs strong, behind her; she had the power of the priest-kind, who hoped for greater power under the Mother than they had known in the Sun Lord’s day; she had made sure of young Midir. The thing was done between a winter’s dusk and a winter’s dawning, and we of the Southern clans were weak with fighting, for we had joined shields with the Caledones in the past summer, to break the Red Crests’ northern Wall. We had no rightful king to raise for a battle cry against her. The longer-sighted among those that were left of us urged peace; and in the end we made what peace we could—such as may be made with the wolf-kind—and waited for a later time.” (3)
- It was almost a month now since the night just after they came here, when they had lain side by side while Gault, with his curious skill for such things, had remade the lost pattern with a cock’s hackle dipped in woad, and then copied the main lines of it onto Phaedrus’s forehead; those potent, interlocking lines and spirals and double curves of Sun Cross and Stallion Symbol that formed between them a device not unlike a four-petaled flower. (4)
- Phaedrus thought of Gault, who had gone north again now; Gault the Strong, with the warrior pattern tattooed on breast and shoulders, thighs and cheeks and temples. (4)
- Low voices sounded beyond the curtain, as the three of them checked an instant in the all-enveloping dark between the two gleams, and they too had a hollow sound, and set strange whispering echoes running. Then Gault—he knew that it was Gault by the kind of leashed ferocity of the movement—reached out and dragged the heavy skins aside, and torch and firelight flooded in to meet them. (6)
- “Na, you do not dream, Andragius my Chieftain,” Gault said. “The Mark is there. But maybe your memory plays you tricks, and you forget that because you among the rest of the Council chose me, I am the leader in this matter as I have been from the first. There was no time to call a Council; indeed if Sinnoch had not had calm weather for the boat crossing and found me in my own Dun of the Red Bull, but had come on north to Dun Monaidh seeking me, it is in my mind that there might have been no time to carry the thing through at all. The Mark had to be made at the first possible moment, that there might be time for the look of fresh tattooing to wear off from it, and in such a case it must be for the leader to decide what shall and what shall not be done! Will any of you say that I have gone beyond the powers you gave me?” (6)
- “Gault!” Something in Phaedrus seemed to snap. “Gault bids this thing—Gault bids that thing—Gault will choose me my armor-bearer, and my wife....” he checked at sight of Brys’s face, and quietened his tone somewhat. “You have served me well; that spear blade looks as though it had this morning come fresh from the armorer s hands. Now go back to your own Lord, and if you should be seeing Gault on the way, tell him I thank him for his care of me but I will choose my own armor-bearer.” (11)
- “In spite of Gault the Strong.” Suddenly Phaedrus laughed. “If Gault had sent me Cuchulain himself this morning to be my armor-bearer and drive my team, I would have spat in Cuchulain’s eye if I could not be coming at Gault to spit in his.” (11)
- Phaedrus had been long enough out of the foursquare Roman world to have some idea of what all this was really about. To the Sun People it made little real difference whether earth or fire took their bodies when they were done with them; but with the children of Earth Mother it was very different. Grain thrown into the fire would never quicken, and for them, burning took not only the body but the life that had belonged with it. Gault in fact was proposing to destroy whatever this little dark creature had of a soul, for a warning to his kind. Phaedrus had never cared overmuch for the laws of men, but this was another thing, and the laws of men had nothing to do with it. Until now, feeling his way in a new and unfamiliar world, he had left the real leadership to Gault and the inner Council. But now he knew, suddenly and with absolute certainty, that he had come to the end of that. (12)
- The knot of onlooking warriors was growing moment by moment, but no one attempted to take any hand in this odd quiet battle of wits. It was a thing between Gault and the Lord Midir, with the body of the little dark hunter lying between them. (12)
- Phaedrus’s mouth lifted at the corners in the faint insolent smile that his fellow sword-fighters had come to know. “Surely it is a fine thing to be Lord of the Dalriadain; and Lugh Shining-Spear himself forbid I should forget it was you who took me from Corstopitum city jail and set my foot on the Coronation Stone.” He let Gault see the meaning behind that, too: “You made me and you can break me, but you will be broken with me, if you do.” (12)
- Something flickered far back in Gault’s eyes, and he shrugged his bull shoulders. The fight was over and the victory to Phaedrus. “You are the King, the thing must be as you choose. But the gods help you and all of us, if you choose wrong.” But there was no enmity in his tone; indeed his dark frowning gaze held a new respect.
On the surface, it had been such a small battle; it had not even concerned a warrior of the Tribe, only one of the Little Dark People, who, in the eyes of the Dalriadain, were half animal and half uncanny. Yet it was now, and not in the moment of his King Making, that Red Phaedrus felt the Lordship of the Dalriadain come into his hand. (12)
- “That I will do,” Gault said, “But as to the two score—do your own dirty work, my Lord of the Horse Herd. They’re asleep on their feet; but if you can wake them, they’ll answer to your call better than they will to mine.” He smiled, that harsh, bitten-off smile of his. “Did I not promise you that you should be as much the King as you showed yourself strong for?” (17)
- “So? He is well named, I should judge—Gault the Strong came in with a band of them, demanding word of you. I spoke with him in the gate and swore to him that you should be safe until dawn, so long as he and his men attempted no attack on the fort, and that at sunrise you would speak to them yourself as to the terms for your release.” (21)
- Lastly, he looked at the knot of horsemen who had been waiting a little way off, and now at sight of him were urging their horses in closer. He saw the squat dark figure of the leader, a bloody clout round the head, and was glad that it was Gault, good, levelheaded, old Gault, who had had the sense not to bring the war host out in force and so betray its strength—or rather its pitiful weakness—to the Red Crests. (21)
- Silence greeted his words. Gault broke it at last. “I have men with me—enough, maybe; you have but to say the word....”
Was that in some way for the benefit of the listening Red Crests? Or simply that the squat dark warrior with the bitten mouth was so much a fighting man through and through that his heart turned to battle even when he knew that battle, any attempt at rescue, had no possible place in what was happening at all; or was it a direct question from the only man among that little band who knew the truth about him: “You are willing? You who are not the King?” (21)
- “We will keep faith with you,” Gault said simply.
And Phaedrus saw in all their upturned faces, even on Gault’s, that they knew and accepted what he was going to do, because he was the King, the Horse Lord, and had the King’s Right. (21)
Traprain Law (196 CE) Edit
Gault is the late only son and heir of Struan's foster-father Fergal the Bronzesmith and brother of Murna, of the Votadini tribe. He does not appear on-page.
Frontier Wolf (342 CE) Edit
Gault is a young warrior of the Votadini and a friend of Connla's who is in the secret of the first theft of the Praepositus's horse. He is probably one of the two unnamed tribesmen who help him in the second, one of whom dies, and the other escapes.
- (9) The mist was beginning to thin out and grow ragged, and out of it appeared Gault, one of the young warriors of the Clan and a close friend of Connla’s. He came on and up to join the little group about the Hall threshold, and spoke to Cunorix, but exchanged a grin with the Chief’s younger brother. “There is a band of Wolves coming this way.”
“One of their patrols?” asked Cunorix.
The boy shook his head, out of breath a little, but not much, with his running. “Not an ordinary patrol. They are heading straight for the rath, and their leader is carrying the Green Branch.”
“How far behind you?”
“Hard on my tail,” said the boy. “Listen.”
Sword at Sunset (480s) Edit
Gault is a member of Artos's Company, eventually leading a squadron. He is a close friend and later lover of Levin, his second.
- Gault, one of my best youngsters, had a long spear wound in the thigh, and slid half fainting into the arms of his friend Levin, who had ridden close beside him all the way; but the rest of us were able to walk, and we went up to the hall together. (6)
- The smoke hung among the rafters and made drifting yellow wreaths around the lanterns; it grew hot, and there began to be a thick smell of salves and the sweating bodies of men in pain, and once or twice, when the searing iron came into use, the sickening reek of scorched flesh. The first time the iron was used, it was on Gault, and the boy cried out, short and sharp as the scream of a hawk. Afterward he wept, but I think he wept because he had cried out, not for the pain. (6)
- (7) A movement in the shadows caught at the tail of my eye, and glancing that way, I saw where on one of the side benches, withdrawn as though into a world of their own, Gault and Levin leaned on each other’s shoulders and shared the same ale cup, talking together in low voices and with quiet laughter. It is a thing that happens on campaign, where women are scarce, every commander knows that; but sometimes, as with those two, it becomes a part of life.
Bedwyr saw where I was looking, and said with a breath of laughter, “It is as well, perhaps, that our good Bishop Felicus is not here to see that. The Church would hold up its hands in horror and talk of mortal sin.”
“Mortal sin . . . But then the Church and I have seldom seen eye to eye, these six years or so. If it keeps the lads happy and in fighting trim . . .” For it did keep them in fighting trim, each of them striving to be worthy of his friend, each to make the other proud of him; and I have known the love of a yellow-haired girl to make life too sweet and unnerve a man’s sword hand, before now.
“Give me a whole squadron of such sinners — so that they be young — and I’ll not complain.”
“What when they grow old?”
“They will not grow old,” I said. “The flame is too bright.” And I knew the grief that I suppose all commanders know from time to time, when they look about them at the men who answer to their trumpets; grief for the young men who will never grow old. . . .
- (13) In the end we did not need the baggage ropes after all, for Gault and Levin, making a jest of it, but a gentle jest, sprang down into the pit themselves, and one standing on the other’s shoulders (they were much given to fooling together like a pair of acrobats) took the girl from me, and dropping clear as his friend crouched down, laid her kindly on the rough earth. We flung down fresh bracken to cover her, and the two warriors carefully wedged above her the beams that we passed down to them, so that they might keep the main weight of the horses off her. Then Levin climbed again onto his friend’s shoulders, and caught the edge of the hole and scrambled out, ignoring the hands reached to his aid, and turned about to help Gault out after him. But the depth was too great. Straining, they could just touch fingertips, but could not get a grip on each other’s hands. For the instant I saw them looking at each other, half laughing, one up from the pit that had become a grave, the other down into it, straining to reach each other. Then somebody tossed down the end of a knotted baggage rope and Gault swarmed up easily enough, and was standing among us again, panting a little.
- (15) In the second spring, leaving Cei now in command at Trimontium, and Bedwyr harrying the East Coast Settlements, I took Amlodd my armor-bearer, Flavian and Gault and a few others, no more than would make up a hunting party, and rode far to the southwest, into Dumnonia hunting runs.
- (18) Two days later, Gault’s squadron was ambushed and cut to pieces by a Saxon war band. They rode back into camp — what was left of them — battered and bloody, their dead left behind them, the more sorely wounded roped to their horses.
I saw them ride in, and the rest of the camp turn out with grim acceptance of the situation, and few questions asked, to rally around them, help down the wounded and take charge of the horses. I bade Gault see to his men and get a meal, and come to me with a full report afterward — he looked very white and staggered for an instant in dismounting, as though the ground had tilted under his feet; but to see one’s squadron cut to bits is enough to account for that in any man.
- “I’ve — got a Saxon arrow in me,” he said. “I broke off the shaft so that the rest shouldn’t see it, but I —” He made as though to push aside his cloak, and in the act of doing so, pitched head foremost into my arms. I laid him down and hurriedly thrust back the concealing folds of his cloak and found the short bloody stump of an arrow shaft projecting from just below the cage of his ribs. The horn scales of his war shut had been split there by a glancing axe blow some while since, and for days he had been intending to get the weak place mended. Now it was too late. He was quite unconscious, not much blood on him, but he must have been bleeding inwardly for hours. (18)
- We looked at each other across Gault’s body. “Do it now,” I said, “while he is unconscious. At the worst, death will be quicker and kinder that way.” (18)
- From time to time, whenever Gwalchmai bade me, I felt Gault’s heart. His upturned face was frowning, the teeth bared as though in intolerable pain, but I think that in truth he did not feel anything. I hope to God that he did not. At one time I thought his heart was stronger and his breathing more steady, but maybe it was only my own desire that deceived me; or maybe it was a last flicker of life. . . . Quite suddenly, both began to grow fainter. (18)
- Blood gushed out in a red wave, and Gault drew a great choking breath that seemed to tear itself free of breast and rattling throat, while a convulsive shudder ran through his whole body — and we, kneeling alive in the lantern light, knew that the hundredth chance had been denied to us. (18)
- But the other had knelt down beside his dead, bending forward to look into the set frowning face, and I do not think he was aware of us any more. He cried out sharply and shudderingly, “Why didn’t you wait for me? — Gault, why didn’t you wait for me? I would have waited for you!” and slipped down full length with his arms around the body as a woman might have done. (18)
- Levin was kneeling beside the dead man, staring down at him, and seeing them there with the lantern spilling its pool of dim yellow radiance on the two wild-barley-colored heads, I realized as I had never quite done before, how alike they were. It was as though the link between them was so potent that even in their outward seeming they could have nothing apart from each other. (18)
- “Ah no, not yet. Time for that later,” and with a movement as swift as the other had been, he drew the blade that lay by Gault’s side, where I had put it down when we cut away his harness, and slammed it home into his own empty sheath. “You’ll be returning one sword to store, but I’ll have the one he carried,” and got to his feet as the newcomers ducked in through the doorway. (18)
- “Listen to me, Levin. For more than ten years I have counted you and Gault among the best and bravest of my Companions. That is because each of you has striven always to outdo the other in valor and endurance, not from any rivalry, but that each of you might be worthy of his friend. So it has been since you were boys; and are you going to be a shame to Gault, to break the old covenant between you, now in the first hour that he is dead?” (18)
- He proved, as I had believed he would, to be as fine a leader as Gault had been; and under his handling, the battered remnant gathered itself up and began to be a squadron again. (18)
- “Maybe it was himself that passed, coming in to the fire,” I said, thinking of the empty places kept beside the mess hall hearth, and the food and drink set ready for men who came no more in the body to the evening meal among their comrades. But it would be at Trimontium that Gault’s place was kept for him, beside Levin, this Samhain night. (18)
- Druim Dhu looked at me as though puzzled at my lack of understanding, and answered also for the whole of his people. “It was in his face. Also, Sun Lord, you heard what the train master said: had it been one of us who brought the cry for help, who would have hearkened to us? Besides, [Levin] would go on; he said his friend was waiting for him.” (20)