Historical setting: Along the ridges of the Pyrenees, 6th Century
“From that hilltop” the young shepherd explains, “You can see the smoke where the hearth-fire burns for the house of the neighbors.
There are some good hiding places on that hill so you can watch the daughters a long time and no one will see you.”
“I’m pretty sure we don’t need to hide from them. In fact Nic and I may actually want to speak to them. Do the daughters have parents, or who should we find to talk with?”
“Why would you do that? Are you going to tell them about my hiding places on the hill?”
“Is that important for them to know?”
“It’s my secret! If my father found out he would thrash me good. You know, my father has leather strips like the braids the soldier’s horse wears. Even when he is so sick my father can still thrash me.”
“But now he is dead and his body is buried; don’t you suppose your father is with the angels in heaven? And from what I’ve heard there’s not a lot of thrashing going on there. Now it’s up to you to decide these things for yourself.”
I’ve returned the shepherd to his sheep so Nic and I together offer him the simple logic of right choices.
I was saying, “If you think something you choose to do deserves a good thrashing, then you just know not to do it. But if you are thinking of doing something that makes things good and better, like finding good grasses for your flocks, or sharing your shelter with visitors then the choices you make, even without your father’s judgments and punishments are probably good choices.”
Nic adds, “You don’t need thrashing anymore to know what to do and what not to do. You are the man now, and can decide things for yourself.”
He argues. “Yea, so you say. But sometimes I just need a good whipping so I can know my father notices me.” And here is another verse of the young man’s loud and wailing cries of grief. Is he grieving for the whippings he will be missing?
He interrupts his own weeping and gnashing to recall details of the neighbors, “They have both a man and a woman that are a papa and moma there. My father said if that papa didn’t keep that woman he wouldn’t have gotten so overrun with daughters.”
“Yes, I would suppose there is some truth in that.”