A Spanish Story
Many years ago, long before you or I were born, the country of Spain was divided between two kings. The first king was ruler of the north, while the second king was ruler of the south. These two kings fought many battles over many years and countless soldiers lost their lives in such battles. The kings fought for glory, they fought in the name of honour, and they fought to increase their lands. Over the years, hundreds upon hundreds of men died on the battlefield, but still the kings continued to wage war upon one another.
There was a city that lay on the border between the north and the south of the lands. This city was beautiful and prosperous and so both kings were eager rule over such a place. But the kings were wise enough to know that the wars between the north and the south could not continue – too many lives had been lost and too much money spent on war. And so they met one morning in the centre of the beautiful city and devised a simple plan.
‘I have the greatest warrior of them all in my army,’ said the king of the north. ‘He is a captain and has won many battles. There is no man whom he cannot defeat.’
‘But I know of a greater warrior,’ declared the king of the south. ‘He is a simple man but he is brave and skilled in battle.’
‘Then we shall place these two men in combat,’ declared the king of the north, ‘and in this way we shall see who will rule this city.’
And that is how it was decided. So while the king of the north secured the services of his undefeated captain, the king of the south asked the brave Rodrigo if he would fight for the glory of his king.
‘I will gladly fight for you,’ said Rodrigo, ‘but I must first complete my pilgrimage. When I return I will do battle with this captain and hope that I shall win the city for my king.’
And so Rodrigo tried to put the impending battle out of his mind and instead began on his holy pilgrimage.
On his travels, Rodrigo came across a sickly leper who was begging by the side of the road. Despite his obvious hunger and desperate state, the people ignored the poor man and walked passed him as if they did not know he existed. But Rodrigo stopped and asked the man, ‘Won’t you please come with me to the inn and eat and rest?’
The poor leper agreed and so Rodrigo helped the man up onto his horse and led him to the inn in the next village. Once they were there, Rodrigo and the leper ate from the same wooden plate, and later they slept in the same bed.
When nobody would even look at the leper, Rodrigo was willing to share his food and the warmth of his bed with the stranger because he was not only a brave warrior but also a generous man who believed in helping others.
It was late in the night when Rodrigo was sure he heard a wind blowing through the small room, a wind that seemed to penetrate his very heart; and on the wind he heard a soft voice:
‘You were kind to me, Rodrigo, and so I bestow upon you a precious gift. Because you are brave and true of heart, none shall ever defeat you in battle.’
When Rodrigo awoke the following morning, the leper was nowhere to be found, but the young warrior remembered the voice from the night before and he felt within him a new sense of determination.
It was not long before Rodrigo completed his pilgrimage and travelled south to where his king waited anxiously for his return.
‘Do you know that the people declare you to be the bravest and most daring of all men in the lands?’ enquired the king as Rodrigo entered the royal palace. ‘I agree with the people, I know that you shall make us all proud today and win for us the last remaining city in these lands.’
Later that morning a large crowd gathered on the edge of the city. People had come from near and far to see Rodrigo do battle with the soldier from the north.
As Rodrigo entered the arena he was nervous and uncertain of his skills. The soldier from the north was tall and muscular, clad from head to toe in shining gold armour, and his reputation was well known. He was undefeated on the battlefield and showed his enemies little mercy.
The two men stood opposite each other with their swords in hand. The crowd hushed in expectation. Rodrigo felt his heart beating furiously in his chest. ‘I must be brave,’ the young warrior thought to himself. ‘I must not shame my family or my king. And if I am to die today, then I must do it with dignity and with my sword in my hand.’
It was then that Rodrigo heard the voice of the leper on a gentle breeze that rustled the leaves of the trees and lifted the sand from the earth. ‘Because you are brave and true of heart, none shall ever defeat you in battle.’
With the leper’s words held firmly in his heart, Rodrigo tightened his grip on his sword and charged towards the soldier of the north.
We will never know if the leper was a ghost or a god or a saint, but his words were true. Rodrigo defeated the soldier that day and won for his king the most beautiful of all the cities in Spain.
Rodrigo became a hero to the people of Spain. His adventures and his many victories became the stuff of legend, and he was forever known as the generous and brave warrior.Enjoyed this story?
Learn more about KidsOut, the fun and happiness charity.More about KidsOut
Gordon Moulds CBE, KidsOut CEO