'There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go.'
- Tennessee Williams: American Writer -
Extract from Chapter 7. Departure
12 weeks after their arrival, the harvest has now finished. The Gypsies prepare to leave the valley following ancient roads to avoid patrols and bandits. In the valley, summer is coming. Remera has taken a few chances while hunting to ensure that her remaining offspring will grow strong quickly, A messenger from Gwyl the lord of all birds arrive and informs them that the Eagles have found a new home a great distance away, and that he has been sent to guide them there. Shortly afterwards the great Eagles leave the valley never to return.
The patron Habby had arranged to meet, raised his hands to his lips then moved them up and down slowly in the universal gesture that meant they should speak quietly.
Almost immediately, he addressed Habby in a voice just a little above a whisper.
"I apologise we are having to meet like this, but you obviously noticed those horses outside the Tavern?" he questioned.
Habby nodded that he had.
The patron continued. "Last night, a group of 15 mercenaries turned up in the village. As is their want, they went straight to the Tavern demanding rooms and food. Pascual, the Tavern owner, accommodated them as best as he could, the officers inside and the lesser rankings in his stable. When they had settled their horses, they came inside to eat and drink, and that is when Pascual overheard their conversation.
Apparently, they are heading for Seville to acquire new mounts for their employers from the Great Horse fair. Pascual could not help but overhear some of them talking. It seems they are not that bothered about where or how, or from whom they will get their horses from. He also heard a few of them talk about attacking some of the Gypsy horse traders outside Seville They intend to kill the Gypsies if they come upon them, then steal their horses so they can keep the gold for themselves".
Habby looked inquisitively at the farmers, and then no longer able to hold his curiosity in, he asked why they were telling him this.
The patron looked at Habby squarely and with no hesitation, he said: “We do not particularly like your people or your way of life, but we are also law abiding, God fearing people. We can not idly stand by and hear of people wanting to murder other people without trying to help in a way that will not bring disaster down on us or our village."
Here the patron paused as if debating to say the next words. Then deciding to say what he intended, he continued: "We also have no reason to dislike you Habby, you have worked hard for us these past six weeks. You been respectful towards us and our families and kept yourself to yourself. That has been appreciated by this village and this is our way of thanking you."
Habby nodded to the farmers. There was little he could say to them, but never-the-less, he felt he should say a few words of thanks. "On behalf of my people and myself I thank you for your warning and information. I will be meeting with some of my companions in the coming days and I will see that the word is spread regarding their intentions. I do not think they will have any easy pickings from the horses of my people and they may well end up being quite surprised themselves."
The farmers nodded in acceptance. What happened now was out of their hands, They had done their bit and now they could only hope that any unnecessary killing could be avoided. Reaching to his belt, the patron withdrew a small bag of coins, which he held up for the still mounted Gypsy to accept.
"There is the remainder of your money, with a little extra to show our appreciation of the hard work and respect you have shown to us."
Habby accepted the coins with a respectful nod of his head.
"Go now in peace." The patron told him. "Remember, you will always be welcome back in this village, should you require work or a place to stay.
"But one last thing,” he continued. " I would advise you follow this path out of the village avoiding the Tavern. At the end of the path, you will come to the first olive field you worked on when you came to us. From there, you should be able to join the road which will take you to the fork where the main route that brings you both east and west lie."
Habby again nodded in thanks and acceptance of his words. He wheeled his mount and nudged it out of the barn and followed the path as instructed. At the end of the path where the first olive trees began, he turned in his saddle and saw the farmers still watching him. With a final wave of his hand, he set the horse forward into a fast trot and departed from the village of Joder.