Historical setting: 6th Century C.E. Somewhere in the Pyrenees
We’re not hiding on this hill even though the shepherd told us it was a good hill for hiding. We are clearly in view from below — two men on horseback. We must be a strange sight for these two shepherds looking up at us, no doubt these are two of the daughters of this neighbor. Nic waves a peaceful greeting to break their gawking stares. One of the girls runs back toward the house either to summons help or hospitality. The other girl, a long slender stalk of a young woman, is just starring up at us offering no gesture of greeting or any sign at all. On our horses with careful steps, we ride down the hill toward her.
“Greetings.” Nic says.
“My sister has gone for our parents.”
“No need to fear us we are just passing by here. But it would be helpful for us to speak to your mother or your father regarding your neighbor.”
“Boda?” She questions. The shepherd has a name. We wait a few minutes in awkward silence until the younger shepherd returns with her father.
“They said they’re travelers passing by, but that they have word of Boda, Father.”
“So you have seen our neighbors?”
“Indeed, we have news.” The father sends the girls back to their task and we follow him, leading our horses. He takes us outside the gate from the pasture so that he alone may be the one to hear whatever news we bring. Now we are in sight of the house and we can see it is a busy farmyard. And yes there are several more daughters here and goats too. The wind brings a whiff of wood smoke from their hearth and the scent of freshly turned goat cheese ripening, souring to flavor. And even the distant silhouette of the woman of the house affirms every rumor we’ve heard of this neighbor. The abundance of daughters continues even into the days ahead.
“So what news have you heard from our neighbor?”
“There is a shepherd up there with eighty-seven sheep and a big white dog.” And Nic adds, “And now that young man rides on our donkey because his ankle was recently injured and he can’t walk very well.”