Luz Lanch de Bairacli Levy

The Silver Fox and other Stories
A collection of
 short stories

by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy


daughter of Juliette de Bairacli Levy.
Published online by Ash Tree Publishing


The Vow (part 1)
by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007


The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents


“He will not survive the night,” Emilio, the village doctor said. “He is too weak. You should have given him the medicines. I told you to buy them!” he added accusingly, glaring at the young woman standing before him.

Maria bowed her head. “We are poor, we cannot afford such expensive medicines,” she said humbly.

The doctor walked towards the door. “He is too weak,” he repeated. “His little body cannot stand the high fever. He will die in the night.” These were the doctor’s parting words.

“No!” Maria cried out. “No! I will not let him die! Not my little Frederico!”

She was left alone with the ill child. She went up to the large wooden bed. Upon it lay the child, covered with a damp cotton sheet. Drops of perspiration shone like tiny jewels upon his pale forehead. His eyes were closed. Damp curls of hair surrounded the child’s face.

Maria raised her eyes to a wooden icon, hanging on the wall above the child’s bed. “Don’t take him from me, Holy Mother, he is all I live for. Don’t take him,” Maria whispered. Tears fell down her cheeks. “I beg you. Do not take him from me.” Her voice broke in to loud sobs. “I will do anything, anything. Do not take him,” Maria pleaded in a broken voice.

She looked at the tiny body on the bed. The child seemed lifeless. Small drops of sweat rolled down his face, shining in the soft candle light.

Maria looked up at the icon of the Holy Mother, carrying her child so proudly, looking down at her kindly: the large dark eyes appeared to be smiling. “Do not let him die,” Maria begged. “I will come to you on my knees. Do not let him die. Please.” Large tears fell down Maria’s face.

She knelt beside the bed, resting her weary head upon the small damp body. She closed her eyes, and began to repeat a silent prayer.

The atmosphere in the room became still and silent. A heaviness possessed the compressed air. A soft golden light gradually illuminated the white walls. Maria looked at the icon. A halo of light crowned the Holy Mother and Child. “Please don’t take him,” Maria whispered.

A sound of heavy footsteps echoed in the silent room. Maria turned around, alarmed. Jose, the village priest, stood at the open door, holding a petrol lamp which shed a golden light upon the white walls. The lamp illuminated the noble faces of the Holy Mother and Child, and fell gracefully upon the pale face of the ill child.

“No. No,” Maria cried. “Go away! Go away! You cannot have him! He is my baby! Go away.”

“Calm down, Maria. Calm down,” the priest said kindly.

“Go away. He’s my baby,” she repeated painfully.

“My child, no one wants to take little Frederico from you,” the priest said compassionately.
He went up to the ill child. Looking down at him with kind eyes he said: “He appears to be better. His breathing seems normal.”

Maria knelt beside the bed. She rested her head gently upon the child’s chest. Then she raised her head slowly, and looking at the icon she whispered “Thank you, Holy Mother. Thank you.” Warm tears of gratitude fell down her cheeks.

The following day, Frederico appeared more at ease. For the first time in two weeks, he opened his eyes and smiled at his mother.

A fortnight later, he was carried out to the front porch to enjoy the soft rays of the late afternoon sun.

One evening, as Maria was putting Frederico to bed, loud screams filled the room. Maria ran to the open window. Pepe’s mother stood by the door screaming in terror, as her little son was carried out of their house on a stretcher. The village priest and doctor Emilio were at the lead, followed by Pepe’s two older sisters.

People began gathering in the street, bowing their heads as the small procession passed them by. Maria ran out to the street, held out her hand, and touched Pepe’s grieving mother. “May the Virgin Mary protect his soul,” Maria said, with deep sympathy.

That night, as Maria sat beside Frederico’s bed, she thought of little Pepe, a short chubby little boy who came frequently to play with Frederico. Pepe’s family had plenty of money. His father owned a big wholesale store in the nearby town. They could afford as many medicines as were needed. And yet, the little boy died.

The typhoid epidemic claimed many lives in the village that summer. Frequent cries were heard during the night when darkness enveiled the suffering bodies, challenging the souls.

Maria looked up at the kind face of the Madonna and the holy child, remembering her vow.
The following day Frederico was permitted for the first time in many weeks to go out to play with his friends. Maria went over to the village church. She met the Padre in the courtyard.

“Good day, Padre,” she said, smiling shyly.

“Good day, and a good day it is! And little Frederico?” he asked kindly.

“He is fine now. He has gone to play by the pond with Rosalinda and La-Luna.”

“Good, my child, that is good!”

“Padre,” Maria said, hesitantly.

The priest looked at her kindly. “I hope nothing is wrong.”

“No. No, nothing. Just . . . well, you see, when Frederico was ill, I promised, I made a vow before the Holy Mother.” Maria inclined her head slightly.

“Yes, my child, I am listening.”

“Well, you see, I . . . I vowed to go to her on my knees. And now, and now she saved Frederico!” Maria stated confidently. “And now he is well, so I must keep my vow. I must!

Tomorrow I’ll walk to the foot of the mountain. Then, in the evening, yes, in the late afternoon I will go up to the monastery. I will take the donkey track. I will go to where the Holy Mother is enshrined with gold and precious jewels, where her light shines brightly.” Maria bowed her head slightly.

“My dear child. That is a heavy vow!” the priest stated, astonished.

“She saved Frederico. Dr. Emilio said that he would die during the night. And now he is well and happy. The sunlight dances on his hair and fills his eyes. Her love, as she loves her child. She gave me back mine.”

The priest stood silently, listening to Maria.

“Padre, I would like to . . . well, can I leave my little Frederico with you? He loves you. And now there is no one else. I dare not ask anyone, with the epidemic still so widespread. And now that little Pepe . . . you understand.”

“Yes, of course you can leave him with me,” the priest replied sympathetically.

“Tomorrow, then. Early. Yes, tomorrow I will bring him. Thank you Padre, thank you.”

continue to part two....

 

by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007
for reprint permission, contact Ash Tree Publishing
PO Box 64 Woodstock NY 12498
or write to: wisewoman@herbshealing.com

 



Click here for more stories by Luz, daughter of Juliette de Bairacli Levy
The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents



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