Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The soldiers

Outskirts of Tarragona, 18th July 1713

Not only Mireia herself, but the whole group of travelers stayed petrified in terror while the soldiers started closing to them at a deliberately slow pace. Only old Teresa remained calm, even apparently amused by the situation as her almost imperceptible smiling revealed. -Hey you, young men! -the old woman suddenly rebuked- So upside down are our times now, that the main job of a soldier is no more than frightening a handful of harmless travelers?

Blanca stared at her mother with undisguised astonishment. She couldn't understand how was she challenging the soldiers that way, and seriuosly feared for their lives. However, at that very same time her daughter Mireia had also perceived something in these men that made her raise an eyebow, while her lips started drawing an amused smile too.

-These times are so upside down, that people do not mind traveling with no care through a country at war, old Teresa -one of the soldiers responded, using the Catalan language just as the old healer had.

Then the whole group realized that these men were not soldiers of the Two Crowns, but a detachment of Miquelets instead, who claimed to belong to the Ebro Riverside Mountain Fusiliers Regiment. In fact most of them where natural to either Tivissa or any other of its neighbouring villages, and Teresa had instantly realized it, because not by chance she had helped as a matron to the birth of many of them. Mireia's relatives were well-known and respected all through the Ebro county, as a long living saga of healers and sorceresses.

-You shouldn't be here in the open. You'd better take refuge behind the walls of a town, for War is quickly closing to these latitudes, ladies -the young soldier then continued. He was speaking to the whole travelers' group, although he had eyes for no one except Mireia.

-That's what we had in mind. -Teresa answered- Is Tarragona safe enough?
-Yes it is, by now at least, while the Imperials keep garrisoning it -the soldier replied.
-Are you going in there, too?

-We tried to, for our aim was to replace the Imperial garrison; but they wouldn't allow us to. They had explicit orders not to be replaced by anyone except Philip V's troops -another miquelet sadly answered-. Now we're going back to Tivissa, because the Imperials of your village have refused leaving the place to the Two Crowns, and have even shot them back home! ...so that they'll likely need some help to keep the Castilians away, or to safely withdraw.

-God bless you, boys -Mireia whispered in anguish. She also had eyes for no one else that the first soldier, and Blanca then knew this wasn't the first time they had met.

-Don't worry for these men, Mireia -then she spoke-, they know well their job and know how to take care for themselves in such troubled times, unlike us. So better hurrying towards Tarragona, if you won't to worry them any more about you.

-Take care, Mireia -the miquelet sweetly told her when the group was about to leave.
-You too, Albert -she sadly answered.

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