Sotero the Blacksmith - (c) 2012-13 CBuenavista All rights reserved Horses need shoes to protect their hooves. The blacksmith nails those shoes to the horses' hooves. Brave man. In our village there lived a blacksmith named Sotero. The locals called him "Panday Sotero" as a term to recognize his special talent. He made knives and bolos for the farmers. He made wrought iron pergolas and hanging flower baskets to adorn the gardens and homes of the rich and wealthy. Panday Sotero was a bachelor. Never been married. He claims he has no time for romance, let alone the finances to support a family. Still, all around the village rumors persisted that a certain beautiful young and wealthy heiress had a crush on Panday Sotero. The panday never paid attention to such gossip and went about his business hammering iron into useful tools and implements. One day, a horse-drawn carriage stopped by the Panday's humble blacksmith shop. The coachman approached Panday Sotero and explained the problem. The left front carriage wheel needed a couple of spokes repaired. It appeared that the wheel spokes were cracked in a couple of places from rolling in and out of the ruts on the earthen pathways. Panday Sotero assessed the damage and said he could repair both spokes with iron brackets. He went to work on them right away. Meanwhile, the carriage passenger needed some fresh air. It was a beautiful young woman who stepped out of the carriage. She alit in an almost prancing manner stepping unto the freshly clipped green grass that grew in front of Sotero's blacksmith shop. Her face was partially covered by a silken lace veil typically worn by the aristocrats who followed Spanish tradition in their attire. She unfurled a hand-held ivory fan and began to stir the air with it, fanning her lovely face making the fringes of her veil flutter. In between hammer strikes, Sotero caught glimpses of the young woman. He had never before laid eyes on such a beautiful and delicate creature. Indeed, even as Panday Sotero resolutely smote the molten iron with his hammer, it was clear he was distracted. His heart seemed strangely smitten. His insides stirred up beyond all calming. Even his well aimed strikes missed their target, his hammer time and again glancing off the anvil sending tiny sparks flying. The young woman was first to speak. "Good afternoon Sir," she said politely. "Thank you for helping us." Panday Sotero wanted to acknowledge her greeting. He cleared his throat to speak. "Thank you for...stopping...by," he stammered just as his hammer went "bang... clang... bang... kaching missed again... kablooey..." as it hit the iron on the anvil. The young woman acknowledged Sotero with a slight nod. She couldn't help but notice the blacksmith's rippling biceps, bulging triceps, muscles of strength shining and shimmering under the sun, all covered with perspiration and beads of sweat. To the young lady, Sotero looked like Vulcan of mythology... like Atlas... like Hercules. She hid her face with her fan. A smile burst from her lips. Panday Sotero mended the wheel spokes with the brackets. The carriage was ready to move on. There were no goodbyes, not even polite and mutually spoken adieus. The carriage drove off in a hurry. Dust clouds rose in its wake. The carriage disappeared from view as it rounded the bend. Tired and with his head bowed down, Panday Sotero turned toward his anvil and rested his hammer on its flat surface. He caught his breath. Wiping the beads of sweat on his brow with his apron, he caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a vision of loveliness from the corner of his eye. There on the grass stood a most beautiful apparition. It was a pretty, willowy figured young woman. It was the young girl with a lace veil partially covering her face, the very same girl who earlier liltingly stepped off the carriage and unto the grass fronting Sotero's blacksmith shop. The young woman slowly approached Panday Sotero. "Hello Mr Sotero," she said, "may I please have a drink of water?"