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6. Interlude at Home


[87] When this was done, he mounted a pony that the companions had bought him and set off alone towards his native country, feeling much better on the road. And, arriving in the province,136 he left the normal road and took the mountain one, which was lonelier. Travelling along this a little while, he met two armed men coming towards him (and that road has something of a bad reputation as regards murderers). These, after they had gone a little past him, turned round, following him at a great speed, and he became a little afraid. But he spoke to them, and learnt that they were servants of his brother, who had ordered him to be met, for, apparently, there had been some word of his coming from Bayonne in France, where the pilgrim had been recognized. So they went on ahead, and he followed along the same road. A little before he arrived on his own land, he met the same two137 coming towards him. They were very insistent that they should escort him to his brother’s house, but they couldn’t force it on him. Thus he went off to the almshouse, and then, at a convenient time, went about the area looking for alms.

[88] In that almshouse he began to talk about the things of God with many people who came to visit him, and through God’s grace quite some fruit was produced. Immediately on his arrival, he decided to teach Christian doctrine every day to the children, but his brother opposed this strongly, telling him that no one would come. He answered him that one would be enough. But after he had begun to do it, many came to listen to him regularly, even his brother. Besides the Christian doctrine, he also preached on Sundays and feast days in a way that was useful and helpful to souls, who were coming to listen from many miles away.

He also made an effort to suppress some bad practices, and, with the help of God, some things were put in order. For example, with gambling, he had it effectively forbidden through talking the administrator of justice round to the idea. There was also another bad practice there, namely this: the girls in that country always go round with their heads uncovered, and they don’t cover them except when they marry. But there are many who become concubines, of priests and of other men, and remain faithful to them as if they were their wives. And this is so common that the concubines have no shame at all in saying they’ve covered their heads for so-and-so, and they’re known to be such. [89] Through this custom much evil arises. The pilgrim persuaded the governor that he should make a law whereby all those women who covered their heads for someone without being their wives should be punished by the authorities. In this way, this bad practice began to disappear.

For the poor, he had arrangements set up for public provision, and regularly.138 He also arranged that the Angelus be rung three times, namely in the morning, at midday and in the evening, so that the people could pray, as they do in Rome. But, although he was feeling well at the beginning, he later came to fall seriously ill.

After he recovered, he decided to leave to do the business that the companions had entrusted to him, and to leave without money. At this his brother got very annoyed, feeling ashamed that he should want to go off on foot in the evening. The pilgrim decided to yield on the following: to go on horseback with his brother and his relatives as far as the province boundary. [90] But when he was out of the province, he went on foot, without taking anything, and set off towards Pamplona.139

He went from there to Almazán, where Fr Laínez comes from, and then to Sigüenza and Toledo, and from Toledo to Valencia. And in all these home territories of the companions he refused to take anything, though they made him big offers and really pressed him. In Valencia he spoke with Castro, who was now a Carthusian monk.140 He wanted to set sail in order to reach Genoa, but his admirers in Valencia begged him not to, because, they said, Barbarossa141 was on the sea, with many galleys etc. And though they said many things to him, enough to cause him fright, nevertheless, nothing made him doubt. [91] Having boarded a big ship, he passed through the storm that was mentioned earlier when it was said that he was three times at the point of death.142

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