The Story of The Shepherd and his Sister

Life in Grado del Pico, like in many under populated villages in Spain can be far from easy, contrary to what many people may think.  There are many factors which influence peodple’s lives, including the weather, work and family relations.  This is the story of a shepherd’s family who lived in the village.  In fact, at the time of this incident, there was just one brother and one sister who remained living in the family house as the parents had passed away.

Unlike in many countries, the sheep in Spain are taken out to graze everyday and then taken back to their pens at night.  This is what is done in Grado del Pico in summer and winter and in hail or snow.  While the brother took the sheep out to the low lying mountains that surround the village, his sister would remain at home cooking over the open fire in her clay pots, washing in the river and generally keeping the dust off the poorly furnished hovel.  She conversed in her own quiet way with the other few women in the village and they discussed their recipes for making cocido and the like.  Her brother, on the other hand, had nobody to chat to at all, except for his sheep and dogs and his conversation over the years turned into a series of grunts and groans.

Thus the brother and sister, although sharing the same house did not share very much more.  They lived under the same roof, ate from the same clay pots and that is as much as they had in common.  Hence, the sister had no idea that the brother had spotted a fancy piece of furniture, namely a double bed in Ayllón, the market village not far from them, on one of his rare visits there.

On the eve of St. Juan, the traditional day to shear the sheep and take the wool to Ayllón, the shepherd took a sudden decision.  After his herd had been sheared he headed for Ayllón without reporting this to his sister.  She waited one full day and one full night on him to come home and eat her cocido in silence together. It was mid morning when he finally showed up.  Upon hearing a tractor trundle up outside the hovel, the shepherd’s sister ran out in haste to see what the commotion was.

What she saw sent her into a fit of rage.  At the sight of the brazen double bed balancing on the tractor for the entire village to gawk at, she grabbed an axe that was at hand and lunged at the shepherd seriously wounding his leg.  He was taken to hospital, while she was taken to an asylum!

Nobody talks about the double bed.  Nobody knows if the shepherd ever got to sleep in it alone or accompanied, but that is the story that people in the village repeat to this day, especially during the fiestas in August, when the shepherd’s sister is allowed out of the asylum (nowadays called a psychiatric hospital) to dance the night away.