The Man Who Could Heal Was Shunned

When I arrived at the village, they warned me, even before I could tie my horse up. Before they could tell me where the toilets or the best tea-room was, they told me about him; this evil contagion that infested every mind and conversation I came across.

I was curious, of course, but not obsessed as the villagers were. It was such a beautiful old village in its picturesque valley of gold and purple, a chequer-board of maize and lavender. How could one person spoil such an idyll? I asked myself as I walked one block from the main street, to the river, and sat myself under a weeping willow, a swaying umbrella under the afternoon sun. A trout rose to catch a fly and a deer peered at me, shyly, from the other river bank.

I’d remarked on the peace-filled beauty as I booked my room for the night but was rebuffed.

“Oh, no,” said the taverner, gruffly, from beneath thatched eyebrows and a furrowed brow. “There be no beauty since he be come.”

“Since who come?” I asked, knowing his answer and feigning innocence.

“Oh him,” he said and his mouth snapped shut like a rabbit trap.

“Him? Who’s him?”

“Oh, argh, we no speak of ‘im.”

“But you just did. You just told me before I asked.”