After a wild and sleepless night, where Pepita, Javier and Felipe danced for hours, and where Mary learned the fine art of percussive flamenco clapping – palm to palm, loud and soft – they headed south on a morning train from Madrid to Sevilla.
Strolling through the streets of Sevilla’s ancient neighborhoods, Mary found herself in the old Jewish Quarter, a beautiful nest of medieval courtyards, homes of Spanish Jews not ready to convert to Christianity after Ferdinand and Isabella reclaimed Spain for the Catholics.
Lush orange trees in courtyard gardens filled with ponds, fountains and leaping golden koi and the quiet stillness found in the barrio on warm afternoons contrasted sharply with the festival sounds of Sevilla’s Semana Santa. One wanted to escape all the noisy Christian penitents, barefoot, chanting, carrying the statues of saints through the streets – followed by dancing and singing in the bars until the wee hours of the morning.
Mary had found a spot in the Barrio Judio that she made a pilgrimage to each day before her night-owl friends awoke.
One morning several days into her visit there, notebook in hand, ostensibly crafting her piece on Sevilla for Send Off, Mary sat on the edge of a medieval stone fountain, her head clearing from the incense of the procession she had passed on her way there. As she listened to the soothing sound of the fountain a wave of dreaminess came over her. She watched her reflection in the water and felt herself hovering above it, closer and closer…
At that moment, she noticed a delicate, fancifully dressed little girl of about 6 years old standing right next to her.
“Senora, please be careful,” the small child in the white dress said, looking up at her with hazel eyes, soft white-blond curls floating around her pink-cheeked face.
Mary smiled, Why, she was fine, thank you…girl and woman smiled at each other. The girl held up a sprig of holly and moved it over Mary’s head and shoulders.
She noticed the detail on the child’s dress and the clear, calm light on her face. Why she’s as pretty as a painting, she thought - then realized she ‘d seen her before. She was the Princess, the Infanta Margarita of Las Meninas, only missing her royal entourage.
Mary stood up and took a few steps away from the fountain, away from this vision and the fear rising up in her belly. The she fell face down onto the lapis blue tiles of the ancient courtyard.
The last thing she remembered was the scent of orange blossoms.