Here is the story of the two mule drivers.
Two mule drivers
Like so many times, two mule-driver friends set off together to look for good Rioja wine. One was called Joaniko and was from the village of Estafe. His companion, Angel Mala-Semana, from San Pedro. As usual, and to kill the monotony that awaited them for this long walk, they began to talk about trivialities. Worse, in no time, the pleasant conversation escalated into a heated discussion. Then, finally, from the discussion to the fierce argument, there was only one step.
- But, I tell you, a thousand and once, that the obligation is always primordial! Joaniko shouts.
- I, I repeat, again, that all this is pride! Supported Angel with the same conviction, and to give more weight to his words, he proposes:
- And to show you that I have not the slightest doubt that the main thing is devotion, I bet you my herd of mules!
- I gladly accept, but unfortunately for you, you can consider it as lost !.
Joaniko agreed very surely.
With that, a representative of the order approaches on their way. It is about a bailiff, magistrate of the time, who with his weary face, gives them an indifferent look, sketches a gesture of greeting which could say as well Hello as Goodbye. Warmer is the response of the mule drivers, and particularly that of Angel who, presenting an exaggerated smile of courtesy, inquires:
- Do not take it for impertinence, but we have a doubt my friends and I and need your help to clarify it. Say, What is the main thing, obligation or devotion?
The bailiff rubs his chin intensely as if this part of the body contains all the lice in the world. Then cough furiously, secretly fearing to strangle himself with the dust of the way. Then winking alternately with one eye and the other, which eyes where two mule drivers were dazzling suns.
Finally with a martial gesture and a recitative tone, responds:
-As far as I know, I believe that this is the reason for all good people, obligation has always been, and will be, much more important than devotion! And fearing a rain of even more complicated questions with even more difficult answers, he seized the opportunity to leave them after having emitted a categorical Goodbye!
- I lost the bet, however, my herd is yours.
on this Joaniko, with a broad smile of satisfaction on her face, admitted:
- Most certainly, my friend, but you will never be able to reproach me for having warned you !.
On these facts, the breeder continued on his way with his herd and that of his friend, humming a little tune very content. Angel, on the contrary, undertook the return home, blaming himself for the stupidity of this bet.
At dawn, Angel arrives at Abadelaueta meadows, near Etxaguen. He was going to sit on a stone for a break, when, suddenly, he was surprised by a big fair from which particularly feminine laughter stood out. Driven by curiosity, although being very discreet, hides behind bushes which prove to be an excellent observatory for this solitary surveillance.
And what a spectacle! The origin of this fair was none other than a group of about twenty women brazenly having fun in crazy dances. There were young and old, beautiful and naughty, some naked, others more or less dressed but tight to each other.
- Witches! Angel exclaimed.
The mule stared open-mouthed, fascinated, wondering if he was awake. Also trying to engrave this scene in his memory. Suddenly all the women began to sing happily:
- Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday three; Thursday and Friday, Saturday six.
Then one of the pairs, the one precisely formed by the old woman who was hugging a naked young girl, moved away from the group to approach the mule driver's bush.
Lying on the grass and wrapped in a singular kiss, the old woman said to the young woman:
- Did you know that the old woman from such and such a house is very ill?
- No! I did not know it, but I am very happy about this disease. But what is the cause of this pain?
The old woman smiles mischievously before answering:
- One day, while going to Communion, she dropped a piece of the host but did not deign to bend down to pick it up. Since then, this blessed bread has been under a church wall and on which is an anthill.
- And this disease has a cure? inquires the young woman very intrigued.
- Yes, if someone finds her and feeds her! But that will never happen, we are the only ones who know the secret.
The old woman opened her toothless mouth with a burst of laughter, followed by the very happy youngster before coming together in this equivocal dance.
Without wasting a moment and with the same discretion, the mule left his hiding place and took the path with a determined step towards the house of the sick woman. He got there around noon without stopping for a moment. He knocked on the door impatiently and a servant appeared.
- What is going on ? Why the noise? asks the latter in a bad mood.
The mule driver answered him hastily:
- I have the infallible cure for your boss's illness!
still in a bad mood, the servant apostrophes our mule driver:
- How do you know my boss? Are you a doctor perhaps? But seeing your head I would rather say that you are a vulgar mule driver!
As the mule tried to enter while the servant prevented him, he decided to forget the courtesy and use a more brutal tone. They began to exchange offensive words and then slaps. All this noise made that the owner himself came to see what was happening. He could thus know the object of the visit of this mule driver and after a few moments of mature reflection, invited him to enter with a serious gesture.
- Come into my house if you think you can cure my wife. If you succeed, I would be able to reward you with generosity. Watch out if you are an actor…!
Angel was taken to the patient whom he asked without worrying about unnecessary polite expressions:
- Madam, isn't it true that on some occasion, while going to communion, a piece of the host fell to you on the ground and that you did not take the trouble to bend down to pick it up?
The woman looked at him sadly, sighed deeply and replied:
- Poor me ! this is true and although I deplore it, is it possible that it is because of this that I am sick?
- Certainly ! replied the mule driver, but there is a cure for your ailment. You must immediately send someone to this church to retrieve this piece of host from below an anthill, on a lose. With him you will be healed.
So eager to recover her health and without questioning the words of this stranger, the patient sent one of his servants to the church in question. As soon as she recovered this sacred bread, she ate it and indeed felt that she was recovering health.
Ask me what you want, I will give it to you as a reward for this wonderful service! exclaimed the owner of the house, embracing the mule driver with emotion.
After blinking in disbelief, jaw-dropping and looking at his benefactor in astonishment for a few moments, Angel said:
- I do not want to appear stingy, but if it is possible, I would like to have the necessary money to buy a troop of mules.
The lucky mule driver received his reward, and the same day, in this village, an excellent herd of beasts of burden was purchased, no doubt better than the one he had lost. Immediately, and not without enthusiasm, he set out on his trip to La Rioja, which had been suspended because of the bet.
Arrived at destination, being busy loading the wine on the mules:
- Looked ! What a coincidence !
appeared Joaniko. Contemplating the marvelous animals of his companion, he could not help but ask him:
- Where did you find these beasts? Because I don't think they fell from the sky!
In a monotonous tone and a mocking air, Angel answered him:
- No, certainly not, they did not fall from heaven, but we can say that they come from hell.
- Tell me ! Joaniko inquires keenly, between incredulity and fascination. I don't understand that having lost the bet you now have better animals than me?
His colleague then told him the whole affair of the witches, their laughter, their dances, their wanton and that of his secret. Concluding her testimony and not believing too much in this story, Joaniko let out a laconic:
- very interesting…
But when they parted, he ran elated to the Abadelaueta meadow with the firm hope of discovering a new secret from which he could benefit.
Just like Angel had done, Joaniko arrived just before dawn. He listened to the laughter and the glee. He also saw the dancing witches. But, rubbing his hands in advance, having taken the success of his adventure for granted, instead of being discreet, he ran towards the strangers and united with them in their movements. He was euphoric, radiant, transformed.
So that the witches began to sing:
Monday, Tuesday Wednesday: three; Thursday, Friday, Saturday: six !.
He, unable to contain himself, happy as a kid playing a mischief, added:
And Sunday: seven!
The group of extravagant dancers stopped and pulled apart. Some cried, others shouted, very angry. But all, with notable irritation, decided to catch the sassy stranger. The one screaming the most was this old woman who had previously spoken of the patient.
- It must be this guy the other day who listened to my conversation because the patient is healed! she cried furiously.
Immediately, they hit Joaniko who, petrified with terror, hid behind the bushes, received pinches, bites, scratches.
He remained injured and abandoned there, in the middle of Abadelaueta, cursing himself and lamenting his headache.