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 2)
by Luz Lancha de Bairacli Levy © 2007
...continued from part one


The Silver Fox and other Stories - Table of Contents

The following day at dawn, Maria awoke Frederico, walked him slowly to the church where Padre Jose was up preparing the chapel for the early morning prayer. Maria handed him a straw basket containing eggs, cheese, and homemade bread. She kissed sleepy Frederico on the forehead, and walked rapidly out of the church.

“Vaya con Dios,” called out the priest just before she c1osed the large wooden door behind her.

The cool spring morning welcomed Maria, as she headed along the dirt road leading out of the village. In the distance, the white monastery sat on the barren mountain top, a crown of gold. Now it was lit with the yellow rays of the early morning sun. Red poppies decorated the roadsides, forming a border of scarlet and green. A large field of golden wheat shimmered in the bright sun, swaying slightly in the breeze.

Maria’s feet took flight as she stepped lightly upon the soft brown earth.
In the distance she spotted Juan, the half-wit shepherd, leading a large herd of long-haired goats and coming towards her.

She continued walking upright, smiling gaily as he came closer. He stared astonished at her bare feet. “Good day, Juan,” Maria greeted him pleasantly.

He continued staring at her feet, not showing any sign of recognition.

“I am going to the monastery,” Maria said, pointing to the white building in the distance.

“There,” she indicated. “Santa Maria,” she added, making the sign of the cross.

The shepherd smiled and uttered a few strange sounds. He gestured towards the monastery.

“Yes, yes,” Maria said, nodding joyfully.

Then to her astonishment, he knelt down before her; holding on to her skirt he kissed her knees. She moved away horrified, looking down at this unsightly man kneeling before her. She quickened her pace, and just before a bend in the road, she turned and waved. Far down the hill now, he seemed to make the sign of the cross in return, or did she imagine it?

By noon, she reached a large grove of almond trees. She sat in the shade under a thick, fragrant canopy of white blossoms. She drank deeply from her leather flask, and then lay back onto the soft grass and fell asleep.

When she awoke, a pleasant breeze had come up, caressing her face tenderly. Above, on the mountain top, the white monastery gleamed with brightness, as the sun shone on it directly. She looked up at its splendor. It appeared to be so close, as if she could stretch out her hand and touch it. And yet it also seemed remote and mysterious, concealed within high stone walls.

Maria sat against a tree trunk contemplating her next move. “If I go up now, I will reach the monastery by nightfall. Tomorrow early, I can go down with the donkeys, maybe even returning to the village before Frederico wakes up. That way, he will not miss me for long,” Maria thought, not knowing what lay in store for her.

The sun moved to the west. By the time Maria reached the narrow donkey track long shadows lay across the ground. She looked straight ahead. The narrow path formed a pale snake-like pattern among the barren landscape.

She placed her leather water flask beneath a gorse bush, marking the place with a stone which she placed on a rock. She knelt down at the beginning of the path, her dark green cotton dress shielding her knees from the sharp stones that covered the ground.

“Holy Mother, protect my soul,” Maria said, making the sign of the cross on her breast.

She began to proceed on her knees, feeling energetic, swaying her thighs from side to side. Her knees being protected by her cotton dress did not encounter the sharp stones that covered the path.

The sun began to set. Small silver clouds appeared in the north, lit by a halo of orange light.
Her knees began to bleed as the splintered stones cut through her thin dress.

The light began to dim.

Her thighs ached. Breathing became heavy, as she dragged her legs over the sharp stones.
A gust of icy wind suddenly came up, cutting into her back, like a knife.

Ahead of her, on the top of the mountain, a faint yellow light shone from one of the tall windows of the monastery.

A spot of rain fell on her tear-drenched face, followed by larger drops, being blown against her back, soaking her thin dress.

She welcomed the rain, as a plant would, after a prolonged dry season.

She raised her face to the sky. The rain washed away her tears.

Small stars glittered in the darkening sky.

Her knees became numb, as she continued dragging them on the tiny sharp stones.
Her guideline was the soft yellow light that formed a golden path into the comforting warmth of the monastery.

It began raining heavily. “Please, Holy Mother, help me,” Maria whispered, as the rain poured down, soaking her dress and long dark hair.

Her knees came to life, throbbing with pain.

She leaned over on her side, placed her right hand upon the drenched ground, and began dragging her body along.

She became breathless. She stopped to catch her breath.

The heavens opened overhead. Rain came down in great force. Thunder rolled. A sudden flash of lightning illuminated the white monastery.

Her hands began to bleed. She turned to her left side and continued dragging her body, which began to feel heavy, as if weights were attached to her feet.

A trickle of water came descending towards her. The ground became slippery and muddy. Still she dragged her body along.

Thunder rolled in great force, causing her heart to beat rapidly with terror.

Her hands bled as she held on to the spiky rocks, in search of a stronghold, to prevent herself from sliding down the now slippery mountainside.

The light in the monastery window flickered, then went out. Maria was surrounded by darkness. The sky became overcast as heavy clouds blanked out the stars. “No, no,” she whispered “Do not forsake me.”

She rested for a second to gather her last resource of strength, when suddenly she was thrown with great force into a spiky gorse bush that was swept down the mountain by a sudden gush of water dragging rocks and uprooting plants on its rush down the mountainside.

Juan, the half-wit shepherd, rose to a bright morning. He headed joyfully up the mountain to deliver fresh cheeses and milk to the large monastery. A clear blue sky adorned by bright yellow sunrays accompanied him on his way.

When he reached the foot of the mountain, he stood gaping, amazed at the amount of bushes and earth that had been swept down by the storm during the night.

The sweet fragrance of almond blossoms filled the air as he headed up the narrow donkey track leading to the monastery.

By the side of the path about five hundred meters from the main gate of the monastery he saw a dark heap of cloth thrust against massive gorse bushes.

He placed the milk jug carefully on the ground, then walked quickly towards the pile of cloth.
Human legs covered in blood and mud lay outstretched behind the bush. He walked closer hesitantly. Then he recognized Maria’s green dress.

He took a few steps back, giving out a loud cry.

Gathering his courage gradually, he removed the spiky bush, revealing Maria’s blood-stained face. An open gash by the side of her head was caused by a sharp knock. It was clotted with blood and thick mud.

He held his hand to his mouth, uttering strange sounds. Then he turned and ran up the mountainside, dropping the basket containing the cheeses as he ran.

Padre Carlos was in the large enclosed garden picking lemons, placing them neatly into a big wicker basket
Juan came running into the garden, uttering incomprehensible sounds, while biting at the side of his hand. Tears fell down his weather-beaten cheeks.

“What is it? What happened?” Padre Carlos asked, astonished. Juan pulled at the priest’s sleeve, pointing towards the large stone arch, leading out of the monastery.

“My poor wretched soul. What has happened?” the priest asked affectionately.

Juan continued pulling at the priest’s sleeve, pointing towards the entrance.

Padre Carlos followed Juan down the path to where Maria’s body lay lifeless among the spiky bushes.

“Why?” he whispered. “Why did you do this?” He received no reply from the silent body, nor from his half-witted companion.

Maria was buried on a clear sunny day.

Little Frederico, wearing his best Sunday suit, stood beside Padre Jose. He looked up at the priest, and commented, “When mother went away, she did not take her shoes.” He seemed slightly puzzled.

“That is right, my child, she went away barefoot,” the priest replied, looking at the child with deep pity and affection.


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


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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