El Oro Del Corazón Vale Más Que El Metal
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The Maiden of the Mountain
Lightning flickered over the mountain tops of the Sierra Morena, then came a low distant rumble.
A ten year old girl made her way over the rocky ground clutching a small cotton bag and a bottle of wine. The air was close, electric, charged.
The needles of dwarf junipers and small pine trees seemed to be tingling, crackling. Maria could smell the rocks.
The heat had been building all day. Now huge clouds towered up and swirled above her.
At last she reached the grass. Here, high on the mountain, was a small level plane, an altiplano, offering grazing for the sheep. Now she could hear them; nervy bleats from the lambs, answering calls from the mothers.
A lone pine stood in the middle of this little sea of pasture. Beneath it sat a figure,
“Papa,” she called, quickening her pace.
He rose and lifted his hand waving.
Later she described it. There was a ripping sound like someone tearing canvass, then a bright white flash. It touched her father’s upraised arm and his body lit up. He was enveloped in a pulsing glow of bluish light, which seemed to run up and down his body. For a moment he stayed upright, then fell.
“Papa, Papa “she cried as she ran forward. Then another bolt hit the tree, setting it on fire. She flung herself to the ground. Time and time again her father had said this was what to do. She lay quivering. The sheep were completely silent. Then an ear splitting thunderclap rent the air.
She lay for what seemed an age. The sheep began to bleat. The storm slowly moved on; she saw it flickering on the next outcrop.
She raised herself up and ran to her father. He lay as if asleep, a burn on his right temple and, where his shoe was thin, a burn on his left foot.
She called and slapped at his face but there was no response. She laid her head on his chest; he was warm but there was no heartbeat, no breath rising and falling.
This was how her mother found her, curled against his body.
Four years later;
A ray of sunlight shone through a break in the shutter striking his four poster bed.
Alfonso Fabrisco, son of the Baron, had awoken.
He lay watching the motes of dust floating above the red and gold counterpane.
What was dust and why did it hang so? He often had thoughts like this.
At fifteen he already had a great interest in science.
Here on this vast upland sheep farm in Andalusia he had little access to scientific minds unless you counted those interested in sheep breeding. And, like all sons, he rebelled against the constraints of society, of the demands put upon him.
He little knew how small those demands really were; to wash, to dress smartly, to contribute to the household and out on the farm.
As the only son, with one younger sister, much was laid at his feet. His father had stood with him on the hillside one day and, waving his hand expansively over his land, had said, “all this will be yours one day my son.”
Alfonso hardly took it in, he was thinking of his dinner and his experiment with the magnifying glass.
A hawk hanging in the air caught his eye. His father, aware of his son’s apparent disinterest in sheep and anything agricultural, sighed a deep sigh. His neighbour Don Castiglione had a son who was already able to ride and round up the flocks.
Dinner was set out in the large dining room of the Casa Fabrisco. Since it was summer, on the huge oak table there was gazpacho, large chunks of homemade bread and a mixed salad. On a shield shaped wooden platter lay a long chorizo sausage side by side with its executioner, a fierce looking knife with a handle of curved ram’s horn. The thick wine glasses glinted with reflected light from the high windows.
His mother, busy with the youngest, was assisted in the kitchen by Maria Delgado, a dark girl, who now served them wine from the cellar.
There were conversations.