Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains or slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take but as for me; give me liberty or give me death!
- Patrick Henry -
Extract from Chapter 5. The Search.
Remera feeling uneasy speeds up her hunt and is rewarded when she spots a dog running through the open fields towards the olive trees. Meanwhile the owner of the bitch has also noticed the Eagle, sensing that the bird would attack he prepares an ambush. Francisco Habir Lomez (Habby) spoils the ambush injuring the farmer in the process. Remera takes her prize and returns to the Eyrie only to find her uneasiness was well founded and Canana has probably fallen to his death. She undertakes a desperate search but to no avail, assuming that he is dead and has probably been taken by scavengers she returns to the nest determined that she to will leave the valley as soon as her remaining offspring is capable of flying.
In the olive field below, Habby and his Gypsies work crew were working hard at their labour, busily beating the olives from the. One of the Gypsies caught sight of Remera.
“Look, up there,” he cried. “it’s one of the eagles.2
As if with one mind, his fellow workers turned their head to the sky, admiring this magnificent creature. The Gypsies loved the Great Eagles, to them, this bird symbolised the very freedom they themselves treasured so much. As they watched Remera circle, their patron Fernandez Herrera approached them.
“Why have you stopped?” he demanded to know. It was well known to the Gypsies of the hatred the farmers and other inhabitants of the valley had for the eagles. What the Gypsies did not know, was that their patron's brother, Manual Herrera, had been killed by this same Eagle last Summer. Herrera, curious to what had attracted the worker's attention, now turned his own eyes upwards and in the direction that the Gypsies were looking. As he caught sight of Remera, his lips turned into a snarl and the expression on his face emitted only malice and hate.
“Don't stand there gawking at that demon,” he ordered the Gypsies. “Get back to their labour, it's what I'm paying you for.” He concluded as he span around and headed for his packhorse and the musket he kept there. It was widely known throughout the valley that there were not that many eagles remaining, but for people like Herrera, one would always be to many. He, like the other inhabitants, could not possibly know, that Remera and her family where all that remained. Even if he did, it would have made no difference to him, his hatred was for every single one of them.
These creatures had killed his brother and although he had had little love for his sibling, and had even profited by his death, he felt duty bound to avenge the death if possible.
As far as he was concerned, these creatures were all guilty, they where tools of the devil, and they must all die. Having reached his pack animal, he unstrapped a large blanket that was lashed onto the side of the saddle. Laying it reverently on the hard packed ground, he unrolled and took out the musket wrapped inside. Reaching into his saddlebags, he extracted a small leather pouch containing the shot and two small powder horns.
Looking upwards once more, he confirmed that the eagle was still circling and made his way to the end of his field to see what was attracting the raptor's interest. As Herrera made his way to the end of his field, the Gypsies exchanged a knowing look amongst themselves, as an unspoken message passed between them. There was no way they were going to let Herrera kill the eagle. Herrera, meanwhile, had reached the fence that acted as the border of his plantation and was gazing intently to the open land beyond trying desperately to see what had attracted the eagle’s attention. It was not long before he spotted the dog. That was his bitch that the eagle was watching. He mentally calculated the range to be just under a hundred metres, and although he knew there was no chance of killing the bird from this distance, there was a good chance he could wound it. And he thought, with a bit of luck he might render it flightless, then he would have the chance of a second shot. A cruel smirk spread across his mouth. He had been meaning to kill the dog anyway, she had been impregnated by some other mongrel and he had enough dogs running around his property. No, he would let the eagle do the killing for him. The smirk now spread into a smile, then a throaty chuckle as he realised the irony of the situation. He would kill two birds with one stone, or more correctly, one bird and one dog with one shot.
Wasting no more time, he started to pour powder from one of the horns into the barrel of his gun. When he was satisfied with the amount, he opened the pouch containing the lead shot and shoved that down the barrel until it rested on top of the powder charge. Finally, he reached for the other horn that contained a finer grade of powder and poured this into the pan of his musket, then pulled back the hammer. Kneeling down, he rested the barrel on anolive tree branch and began to wait.
High above, Remera decided the time for her attack had come. She noticed the dog had finished drinking and was about to make his way to the berry field and if he got to close, her chance would be gone for good. After a final glance over the terrain below to satisfy herself nothing below had changed, she started her killing descent. Habby Lomez had heard of the slaughter in the field the previous summer, it was still discussed in every Bodega and cafe in the valley. What he did not know, was that it had been Herrera's brother whohad been killed. Like most of the Gypsies, he did not consider the eagles 'evil' for what they had done, after all he thought, they had only done what was natural to them. Habby and the other Gypsies had already reached a silent decision amongst themselves and they were not going to let Herrera kill this bird. The eagles where the spiritual talisman of his clan, and as such, no member of this band of Gypsies could stand by and see their totem killed. Hoisting his lengthy 'Barra,’ Habby cautiously moved closer to his employer.