This hollow of beauty and the ancient carved stone that frames it are not the place of the story, they only play a role at the end. Let us begin there where the story started.
Not much more than a mile from here, upon the slopes of that hill, you will find the ruins of a place where the gods loved to sit and watch man as he busied himself with his schemes for highlighting his self-importance. The ruins form a square about an open piece of land which was covered by soft grass. No man or woman was permitted to walk on the grass, apart from those times men came to celebrate their gods.
An elderly man climbed the hill, walking straight and firm, despite being burdened. The gods watched as he entered the square and stopping at the center of it, laid down his burden. It was the corpse of an ugly and poorly dressed woman.
The old man could not see the gods, but he sensed them and bravely faced them as he explained that this woman has loved him for over eighteen years, following him as his restless feet and career as a soldier carried him from land to land, without once complaining. The gods sensed he was hoping they would reward her with a good after-life.
A god spoke to him, telling him to let her lie where she is for the night and to return on the morrow, two hours after the sun has risen.
When the elderly soldier climbed the hill the next day, half the town plus the most elderly of the priests followed him, as they were shocked to learn he had invaded the space of the gods and expecting to see him punished. With them too was a well-dressed, tall and attractive woman who looked like a flower among weeds. As was her way, she found breath to talk without stop, despite the climb. Those around her listened, for she was both clever and maliciously witty. Her name, as was given at birth, was Maddera, though her quick tongue and pride had dressed it with fineries so as to create a sense of the mysterious and beautiful. Still, despite her wishes, the gods only know man and woman by their birth name and so it is we shall name her
The elderly soldier walked without hesitating onto the soft green and kneeling by his woman, he softly touched her cheek in greeting and then waited for the gods to speak.
The priest joined the old soldier and then everyone gasped as Maddera boldly walked onto the green, her tongue lashing out at the unpleasant and ugly corpse that sullied the land of the gods. These were ‘her’ gods and how dare the soldier invade their space and leave the corpse there, she felt it as a personal offence. She continued to use her wit to lash out at the soldier and the corpse, until the priest called out, “Silence!”
The soldier heard the god speak to him again, but so did the priest and he repeated the words so that all know what it is the gods wish.
“Soldier, Arbuth, the woman has followed you without complaint, her soul only wrapping you within her love and the calmness in her heart. Not once did you ask what it is she wishes, so it is for us to tell you. She is a soul that craves love and the gentleness of a pleasing beauty in nature. So this is what we demand of you and how it shall be dealt with.
Further to the side of this hill is a hollow that lies at the feet of what used to be a home of a god long since departed. You shall take the corpse there and bury it at the foot of the ancient wall. Then you shall clear the hollow and plant it with flowers and splendid bushes of all kinds and for all seasons, so that she is always surrounded by the beauty she craved in life. However, her destiny is not as simple as yours; her soul shall not spend much more time than she needs there, as it shall mostly remain with us, for she calms our hearts and fills our eyes with love for all men and women.
Arbuth, so that you can do as we command while it is needed, your life is extended and you shall live a thousand years as from this day.”
The priest turned to Maddera. “You disturbed our place of peace without permission, using your tongue to lash out at this woman we love, so it is fitting that you do as she did, in the hope your soul evolves. You shall not rest in one place, for eighteen years you shall wander, searching for the wisdom of this woman. To assist you in finding the heart of your soul, your tongue shall be stilled for all those years.”
And so it is, traveller, that you see the hollow decorated with the beauty only the Earth is able to create and because a thousand years is a long time for doing such a little, you shall find the area, from here to the home of the gods and down to our town, turned into a park dressed in the beauty that brings peace to our hearts.
Take the time to walk through it and if you have the soul of an artist, absorb all you see, so that your life is enriched, for the thousand years are done with and now there is no one to continue to care for the land and it will soon revert to what nature achieves when left on its own.
It seems that Maddera did not achieve the wisdom the gods wished for her, for there is no record of what became of her. Though I had not believed the story as it was told to me, I was led to the depth of the hollow, close to the ruins, and there I saw a fresh grave with the name, “Arbuth the Gardener”. Though I enjoyed the tale, the truth is, I could only consider it a clever ploy for attracting more tourists and so I have not allowed it to disturb me or make demands of my soul.
* Taken from the DumTuk Travel Series by Terr Acotta, where we report on the 'Gods Care' Myths.
Written: 29th September, 2019
Αλέξανδρος Ζήνον Ευσταθίου(Alexander Zenon Eustace)
30th September, 2019
- posted on PALNet - Steemit - WEKU - CreativeCoin: 30th September, 2019