The Saddle

“Papa. It is time to come in for la cena. Mama says hurry or los hijos will eat your portion.” Tomas watches his father as he wipes his hands on a rag. His padre is so slow. His brother and sister are hungry and waiting on him.

“Tell mama I will come.” Alejandro puts down the rag and watches his eldest son as he races to la casa where his dinner awaits. He is nearly finished with the saddle he is making for don Emiliano Fernando. It has taken a while but he is satisfied with the progress and quality of his work. Too bad don Emiliano is so impatient. He has been by four times this week to inquire as to when the saddle would be done.

He remembers the day don Emiliano commissioned the work. Andalusia in southern Spain stays so hot but that day was hotter than most. Of all the leather workers in Lomopardo, don Emiliano asked him to make a saddle for him.

“Hand-tooled and of the finest leather!” he said. “I plan to compete in the Feria del Caballo in the Spring. Only the best will do for me,” he further explained. They set the terms and Alejandro gave him an expected time frame for the work to be complete, much good that it did.

“Papa!” shouted Tomas. “Here is your plate. I watched it for you so Juan Pedro and Gabriella would not eat your food,” beamed Tomas as he took his place beside his padre as usual.

“Alejandro, you look so tired. Eat so we may all begin,” cajoled his wife, Maria, “Perhaps you need more rest. Do not go back to work after la cena. Rest and begin again manana.”

“I must work a bit more. I am nearly terminado. Don Emiliano expects it tomorrow afternoon. After it is delivered then I will rest,” he smiled at his family and began his supper.

Alejandro walked back out to his workshop the next morning to finish what he started the night before and picked up the beveler. He carefully stripped the edges of the mosquera he made for the bridle head piece then polished it with a cloth making it smooth. He hand tied the little knots on the tassels that will hang from the tooled leather on the horse’s forehead. Don Emiliano’s stallion will look very fine for the feria this Spring.

He looked over the saddle once more to make sure it was perfect. Don Emiliano Fernando de Calderon Sanchez will expect no less and Alejandro would not allow it to be taken if it was not as promised. The vaquera saddle was tooled in the ‘Campera style with a hand-tooled design of his own on the cantle and pommel. He had never made one so intricate or so fine. He felt pleased that it was some of his finest work and would show very well where ever it is used.

The appointed hour approached and the saddle was polished with beeswax to a high sheen. Tomas was there in the workshop clearing away the debris and putting the tools away in there places. Don Emiliano rode up on his horse while his servant drove a small wagon into the yard. Alejandro came out to greet them. Tomas watched from the doorway as the scene unfolded.

“Senor Alejandro! Is my saddle ready or do I have to come again as I have done many times before?” bellowed don Emiliano. He swung his leg over the pommel and slid to the ground landing on his feet with a thump.

“Don Emiliano,” Alejandro greeted the smaller man as he came to stand in front of him. “Your saddle is ready. Allow me to show it to you,” he said as he led the way to the workshop where the saddle was sitting on a stand above the floor. Tomas, being the good boy he was, scooted out of the way and found a spot near the tool bench to see how the exchange transpired.

Don Emiliano circled the saddle on the stand and frowned this way then shook his head that way. He circled it once more then stopped in front of Alejandro.

“Senor Alejandro, I am surprised you have allowed me to see your unfinished work! I was hoping for a show piece worthy of the feria. Perhaps I would even use it in Sevilla when I go there to meet with the governor, don Jose Antonio Gomez Iglesias. You knew I was invited to dine with him and his family, did you not?” boasted don Emiliano.

“No, I did not know about your upcoming trip to the city. What part of this saddle you commissioned is not to your liking?” inquired Alejandro calmly. Don Emiliano was known for being a name-dropper and braggart. He was not troubled by the man’s pronouncement of an unfinished product. This was part of the process of dealing with someone of don Emiliano’s background of privilege. It seemed a shame that he did not inherit the integrity and compassion of his parents along with their money but that is the way of life at times.

“I thought you would put more than one rose on the cantel as it is my family’s flower. I am also ashamed to see there are only five tassels on the mosquera! The flies bother my stallion so. He needs at least seven for it to do the job it was meant to do.” don Emiliano tutt-tutted as he circled the saddle once more.

“Pardon me for failing to provide you with what you intended. Perhaps sharing with me your creative vision would have provided enlightenment for me,” Alejandro parried gently.

Don Emiliano looked up at Alejandro for a moment. “It is of no importancia. I can see you did your best,” said don Emiliano in a condescending tone. “Here is the fee we agreed on,” he said as he handed the bag of coins to Alejandro and waved his servant in so he could load the saddle.

When the business was done, don Emiliano along with his servant and saddle were heading down the road. Tomas came out from the tool crib and stood beside his padre. The sun shone down on their heads for a moment before they both by tacit agreement went back into the workshop.

“Papa?” asked Tomas as his father got a drink from the pitcher he kept on the side table. “Why did don Emiliano not like the saddle?”

“Tomas, he liked the saddle. He liked it very much but did not know how to show proper appreciation for it. He has never had to work for what he needs nor did he pay attention to how his parents went in the world, so did not learn la gratitud.” he explained.

“Why did you not get angry when he said he was unhappy with your work? When Jose says things I do not like I get angry with him!” proclaimed Tomas.

“ Tomas, even if he was truly discontento with the saddle, I was happy with it. I did my best work and accomplished what I promised. What he does or says with it now is not my asunto. My only concern is what I did and how I feel about it. That is enough.” answered Alejandro.

***

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

~This is a story from a Past Life Regression experience I had a few years ago. I wanted to know about any creativity I may have had in past lives. In the trance, I found myself in Southern Spain quite some years ago with a family and working as a leather-worker and saddle-maker. I do not speak Spanish. I apologize for any mangling of that language in the story.

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