'Learn to limit yourself, to content yourself with some definite thing, and some definite work; dare to be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not and to believe in your own individuality.'
Extract from Chapter 4. Francisco Habir Lomez:
Called Habby by the clan, he is one of the tribal elders. Although relatively young in years, he is renowned for his quick intelligence and his sense of fair play. He is appointed group leader of the work force assigned to Manuel Herria, a rich and cruel employer. On their way to their place of work, Habby reminisces over his experiences and the affinity he now has for this part of Spain
As Habby and his band of workers followed Herrera on the thirty-minute journey to his plantations, he tried to engage Herrera in conversation. "Excuse me Patrono," he asked Herrera who was riding ahead of his workers astride a fine Andalusia piebald.
"What is it," snapped Herrera irritably, without turning to answer.Controlling an impulse to drag Herrera from his mount and teach him some respect, Habby decided to just ignore his Patrons bad manners, he then went on to ask if Herrera could guarantee a full ten weeks work for all his people.
Herrera turned to Habby with a look of pure contempt, spat to the side, narrowly missing Habby’s mount and grunted his reply.
"You’ll just have to find out, now shut up and follow me." Herrera turned, and facing forward in the saddle once more, he missed the look of pure hatred that crossed Habby's face.
"One day Herrera," Habby thought to himself. "I shall watch you die. Then I will spit and piss on your corpse, and every year I shall return to piss on your grave."
Finally managing to hold his anger in check, Habby began surveying the surrounding countryside.
Now that the winter sun had risen above the mountains ahead of them, the effect in the valley was beautiful to behold. As far as the eyes could see, olive trees glinted reflecting the suns rays off the frost and ice that covered the trees. On the ground, patches of ice added to the glistening effect, making the whole valley twinkle as if thousands of tiny mirrors were catching the sunlight and throwing them back to its rightful owner.
In the distance, mountain peaks with their snow-covered caps surrounded them, adding to the panoramic scene allowing Habby to forget Herrera for the present and just lose himself in its beauty. Soon the party had wound its way down to the great river, where they crossed over a wide and long wooden bridge and up a small cart track that led to Herrera’s land. Looking at the river, Habby knew that although narrow at this point, if one was to follow the river west, through the mountain pass and out of the valley, the river would start to widen. Shortly after leaving the valley, the Guadalquivir was joined and considerably widened by its sister the Guadiana Menor.Following the riverbank further Habby reflected, you would ride into the true heart of Andalusia.
He himself had ridden the full 680-kilometre length of the river, from its beginning high up in the Sierras de Cazorla to its exit into the Gulf of Cadiz.
A little over one hundred and fifty kilometres west of the point where they were now crossing, you would arrive at the great city of Cordoba. This city, chosen many years gone by the Moors as their intellectual capital, retained its influence on learning, long after the Moors had been driven out or killed.
It was no coincidence that the Moors had chosen Cordoba as its Caliphate. Here was a city in which Spain’s four leading philosophers had lived and flourished. They included the Jew Moses Maimonides, considered intellectually to be the most brilliant man Spain had ever produced. The Christian Bishop Hosius, who was a counsellor to Constantine the Great. Also from Cordoba was Averroes; the Islamic philosopher who codified Islamic thought, and brought the works of Aristotle to the attention of the west. However, Habby's favourite Spaniard; and by far the most famous, was Lucius Annaeus Seneca, poet, writer, philosopher, orator, pagan and politician.
Although most Gypsies were capable of speaking the major Mediterranean languages, very few could read or write. Habby himself was no exception but he did understand the importance of the written word. It had been his insistence and encouragement that persuaded his daughter Mañana to learn the meaning of words, under the tutelage of Pierre the wise.
One of Habby’s most enjoyable pastimes was sitting around the evening fire, listening to Mañana read aloud from some book Pierre had managed to obtain. Occasionally, Habby would ask Mañana to read some of the writings from Seneca, and he had already committed to memory much of the wisdom of what the great man had to say. It seemed to Habby that whatever problems people encountered in their day-to-day existence, the great man had an answer for them.