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English 10 Reading 2Mr Hark Herald C Sarmiento24 June 2015The Legend of theVirgin s Jewel.
In depth ReadingThe first time Brother Fernando noticed thebowl of milk he had been too busy to wonder He was new to the country having but latelyarrived from Spain in this year of our Lord.
1620 and too engrossed in his duties asbrother sacristan of the convent of SantoDomingo of Manila to worry about a bowl ofmilk left at the foot of a tree The next day in the evening while tidying up in the.
sacristy he heard voices and a flute Those wouldbe the goatherds coming home The conventdepended for milk on a flock of goats which waspastured daily outside the city in a cluster ofgroves known as La Ermita Brother Fernando.
smiled to hear the flute and the tramping of thegoats along the cobbled street he was reminded ofchildhood evenings at Alcala de Henares He crossed to a window but the sacristy wasseparated from the street by a small patio.
enclosed by a high wall The patio was paved except for a space in the center where ancientand horrible a massive laocoon of a tree balete he had heard it called silently wrestled savagelygrappled with itself overspreading the whole.
courtyard its tormented coils movelessly writhing Meanwhile while out in the street thegoatherds seemed to have paused Then adoor in the wall opened and an old man anative stepped into the dusk of the patio He.
carried a bowl of milk and a handful offlowers Through the door the man left ajar Brother Fernando could see the goats waitingoutside milling around the legs of a little boy The old man walked straight to the tree He bowed.
low set down the bowl of milk and scattered theflowers around it Then he pulled out a bamboo fluteand tripping around and around the tree softly pipeda little ghost of tune very sad and monotonous yetsomehow frightening From the doorway the boy and.
the goats watched him gravely The tune finished theold man bowed low again then walked out of thepatio closing the door behind him The night was warm but Brother Fernando foundhimself shivering and unable to stir from the window or.
to take his eyes off the more and more faintly gleamingbowl on the ground He had before heeding a call to thereligious life followed the turbulent fortunes of hiscountry all over the globe had fought with its armies inthe lowlands in Italy and among the jungle devoured.
cities of the Americas A Spaniard of his time he hadsuddenly turned friar in his middle age not as hethought because he was sated with adventure butbecause he was insatiable and having exhausted thesecular now turned to the spiritual domain for newer.
sensations and profounder adventures Wherever he hadfound himself as a soldier or as a friar he had set his But as he stood beside the sacristy windowand stared into the now total darkness of thepatio he felt terrified lost and terrified And.
an alien Spain Europe the world ofChristian usage was far away For the firsttime in his life he felt desperately homesickfor the chimneys of old Alcala de Henares But when he awoke the next day and felt the dawn on his.
face the terror that had oppressed him all nightvanished He chuckled to himself as he dressed He wasgetting old he thought and hurried down to the sacristy He must be in the patio when the goatherd came for hisbowl He meant to have a little talk with that old man .
Look he would say the milk you left last night here it stillis in the bowl See how no one has touched it And why Because you offered it to something that is not there thatdoes not exist that is nothing Smiling Brother Fernando opened.
the door to the patio but as he steppedout the mile split open his lips Underthe tree stood the bowl it was empty The next moment heard footsteps inthe street .
The door in the wall opened and the oldman came in walked straight to the tree and picked up the bowl Only as hestraightened up did he notice the friarstanding at the sacristy door He hesitated .
then smiled disarmingly and bowed BrotherFernando very pale bowed in answer Sunlight fell on the scene the old mansmiling under the tree the bowl very white inhis brown hands and behind him in the.
doorway the boy and the goats waiting Butas he gazed Brother Fernando felt coldagain and shivered N B This part is not on the book print That night our friar kept vigil in the sacristy Pacing the.
stone floor he said his beads clinging to them as tosomething familiar and benevolent a part of the knownworld and a weapon against the nameless ageless meaningless horror outside He has witnessed again thelittle ceremony around the tree Pausing at the window .
he looked into the now silent patio A slip of moon wasabroad the dense tree let fall its light in slivers Uponthe pavement the bowl shone luminous and mocking Terror tightened at the roots of hishair He fled to the chapel By the.
sanctuary light he could barely makeout the Virgin on the altar But herface soared out of the dusk herfingers curved out of it theelusiveness of her smile steadied him .
This was before the days of her great miracles before thesonorous victories of 1646 Popular devotion had not yetcovered her with precious stones A poor Queen she reignedover a poor colony clad in simple robes and wearing a simplecrown Brother Fernando had looked upon the splendid storied.
Virgins of Spain upon the Pilar of Zaragosa patroness ofColumbus symbol of the race in Bonaparte s time she wouldrefuse to become Frenchwoman cloaked and crowned withSpanish geography and upon the Monserrat of the Catalonians the Virgin of mystics growing in her black vault in the.
mountains fragrant with all the legends of the Grail and uponthe vivid Sevillian Macarena the Virgin of the toreros bowedbeneath her grief and jewels and borne amidst wailing throughwhite moons and green oranges of the Holy Week in Seville Buttonight the world of Christendom the world of his childhood and.
of his fathers was represented by this poor Virgin this colonial The clocks tolled midnight as he stood againat the window to watch the patio But hiseyes were misted with tears it was hishometown that he saw Alcala in autumn and.
the storks croaking overhead It wassometime before he noticed that the patiowas not quite still A moonbeam that lay onthe ground had moved Brother Fernando became instantly alert He strained forward .
gripping the window bars in his hands pressing his faceagainst the bars The moonbeam continued to move toadvance towards the tree lifting itself from the ground andfalling again But no moonbeam was ever so brilliant or movedso rhythmically No moonbeam turned prismatic flaming.
abruptly to colors its white heart burning now red now blue And the sparkling flames seemed to gather together tocrystallize to take form The wild fire hardened into a star andthe star pulsed along the ground trailing a coiled shadowbehind it .
The shadow uncoiled oozed longer and longer took shape lightened in color and glitteredgreen and gold in the moonlight Gripping thewindow bars his face pressed against thebars the sweat cold on his brow the breath.
blocked in his chest Brother Fernandowatched an enormous jeweled serpent slidenearer and nearer the bowl of milk It moved with haste with evidentgreed and its eyes glistened with evil .
like peepholes into hell The squat headrose radiant as if aureoled for betweenits dripping form the monster carried its Arriving at the bowl it poised its head high swaying slightly as if listening Then it ducked.
swiftly and spat the jewel on the ground Coilingits tremendous length aound and around the bowl it began to sip the milk Brother Fernando watchedin horror and fascination unconsciously workinghis tongue in rhythm to the suck of the serpent .
On the pavement the jewel slumbered violet atthe core a small rainbow arching above it An eternity after the monster reared its head again the jawsyawned open the fangs shot out hissed and withdrew theevil eyes glistened The head swung round and round.
searching Suddenly is swooped down with open jaws atthe jewel No it was gliding away The jewel burned aloft blazed brighter and brighter seemed to dilate to burst intoflames and to transfigure to drench the faint moonlight withits hundred magical hues But suddenly it dulled dimmed .
faded away and Brother Fernando was presently staring ata bleak black patio an empty bowl a tree and someshabby patches of moonlight He awoke from tortured dreams of old men old trees and serpents to find blurred faces.
hovering above him He was in his bed in hiscell It smelled of noon His bones arched hishead whirled his flesh burned The blurredfaces spoke in blurred voices The fever theysaid He had tropic fever they said He tried to.
tell them about the serpent about the tree The tree must be chopped down he said Thetree in the patio it must be chopped down hesaid But the blurred faces swam in a hot mist the blurred voices now boomed and now faded .
The fever they said He had the fever for three He felt hands lifting him up and a coolnessenveloping his neck and arms He inquiredwhat it was It was the Virgin s veil they toldhim This was the Virgin s veil around him and.
he must pray to her to assist him they said He struggled to recall the words of the prayerbut the whirling had slowed in his head and hesank into sleep Sleeping he heard her enter was flooded with.
fragrance looked up and saw her stand at his side clad in her simple robes and wearing her simple crown Ah but her face was not blurred though her smile wasas elusive as ever She spoke and music filled theroom She asked how he felt and why he had not.
called on her But presently they were talking about histown of Alcala about the deep woods there and theriver and the blue snows on the hills And he grinnedand chattered and laughed and grew breathless andwas suddenly silent Then he said with much.
formality how it pained him to the heart Se ora tosee her thus clad to simply who had seen her mostnobly crowned and arrayed in her shrine at Zaragoza But she smiled and shook her head and murmured thatgreat souls were her jewels He remained grave .
When he opened them again it was night the fever hadleft him his body felt young and cool and for a momenthe thought himself to Cadiz a young soldier waiting toship to the Indies But remembering what he had to do he sprang up and ran to the window to gauge the time .
It was not yet midnight he saw the moon was scarcelyrisen He dressed quickly From a chest he drew a sword the old sword of his soldier days He had surrendered iton joining the Dominicans but had begged to take italong to the Orient .
Downstairs in the chapel on his knees thesword offered upon his palms he prayed theVirgin to bless the sword When midnightstruck he was standing in the shadow of thedoorway the moonlit patio before him His foe.
was equally punctual Impatience devouredhim as he watched the arduous journey of the The serpent moved more slowly cautiouslypausing again and again the dappled coatlustrous in the moonlight When it reached.
the bowl it reared aloft and listened a longtime the hallowed head circled the evil eyespeered and peered Brother Fernando held hisbreath and stood rigid his eyes shut tight lestthey betray him .
When he dared to look again the serpent haddisgorged the jewel had coiled around the bowl and was burying its jaws in the milk He breathed arapid prayer crossed himself and tiptoed forth The pavement stung his bare feet and seemed to.
widen and widen When he stood at last behind thebowed beast the beauty of the serpent astonishedhim The embroidered coat bright hued andburnished was luxurious enough for a king In that instant the beast smelled danger the head shot up .
hissing at the friar Down flashed the gleaming sword and theserpent s head severed flew off still hissing But the tangledcoils darted alive spilled loose at his feet and sought to windthemselves around his legs Down flashed the sword again sliding through the dense mass the wildly writhing mass Blindly.
and with both hands and with all his might sweating andgrimacing with horror a huge rock weighing the pit of his belly Brother Fernando hacked and hacked until the thick mass laystrewn in chopped coils around him the murdered lengths stillwrithing in the spilled milk among the fragments of the bowl .
He staggered to the doorway and leaned his browagainst the wall His throat worked desiring andyet unable to vomit But the jewel He hadThe jewel burned aloft, blazed brighter and brighter, seemed to dilate, to burst into flames, and to transfigure, to drench the faint moonlight with its hundred magical hues. But suddenly it dulled, dimmed, faded away – and Brother Fernando was presently staring at a bleak, black patio, an empty bowl, a tree, and some shabby patches of moonlight.

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