A Gin That Binds

Naught Quite the Truth, Chapter 2

If you haven’t yet read Chapter 1 – please start here.

The Story Continues…

In the streets of Ronda, whispers began to be heard. The community started to confront rumours of this new garnish. Lemons were always the Rondan way. But oranges? From Seville?

Pedro could not be happier. He had Abigail, and he was starting to win in the bullring with even more flair.

Although Pedro had to travel across Spain to compete at all the grand Plaza del Toros in the land, his mind was always in Ronda. Abigail did travel to see her beloved in Seville at the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, but otherwise she stayed close to home.

Abigail loved to dance the Rondeña. She lost all inhibitions  on the dance floor, and the Rondeña was where she felt she could truly express her creativity. 

Pedro would do what he could to be in Ronda. The first time he saw her dance, Pedro thought he had died and gone to heaven. She was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Late into the night, Abigail would dance and they would drink gin and tonics with wedges of their favourite Seville oranges.

Pedro urged Abigail to join him in Madrid. He promised her the world – an apartment, her own horse and carriage, coachman and the chance to see him once every week. Abigail did love Pedro, she loved what he did for her and all he offered her, but her home was the ancient town of Ronda.

By the summer of 1786, Abigail found herself torn between the needs of her family and the persistent demand from Pedro to be with him from bullring to bullring. Her father, José Martin de Aldehuela, was working on the build of the Puente Nuevo, a classical three arch bridge spanning the 120 metre deep chasm which carries the Rio Guadelvin

At the same time, Abigail’s mother’s health was deteriorating. Her battle with consumption had become more evident and she was deeply fatigued by the disease. Esmeralda depended on Abigail to keep the affairs of their home in order and their bond became even closer during this time.

Pedro arrived at the home of José Martin de Aldehuela in early September 1786 after two and a half months fighting bulls in the biggest and most crowded arenas in all of Spain, to find Abigail in deep distress. She fell at his feet, weeping intensely. She told him she felt her life was not worth living. She didn’t know how she would cope. What was she to do?

Pedro held her tight and whispered “you’ll always be mine, mi amor Abigail” and he insisted she prepare to move north to Madrid.

Over the months, Esmeralda became weaker, José Martin lost himself in his work some say to avoid the heartbreak of losing his wife, and Abigail became more reserved. She no longer danced, she didn’t go out on the terraces to drink her G&Ts and she only ever sent their maid, Francesca to do daily errands, withdrawing to the fine parlours and salons of their home.

Pedro returned again and again over these months, only to be told by Francesca that Abigail couldn’t see him. He would stay a few days, returning every morning to see the love of his life, only for Francesca to turn him away again.

But he didn’t give up. The deep winter kept him at home in Madrid that little bit longer than he would have liked but by late February 1787, Pedro rode south to Ronda with the intention to bring his Abigail home with him. He had heard from Francesca that Esmeralda had passed on 30 January, so he was ready to rescue Abigail from her solitude and grieving, so she could live the life he had dreamt for her.

At the door to José Martin de Aldehuela’s home, he could see the shutters were closed, the house seemed dark. He knocked hard at the door and heard soft steps before  the door opened slowly. Francesca in black was sad and sullen. He demanded to see Abigail and Francesca ushered him in with a slow nod of her head.

Through the foyer and by the windows of the darkened salon, Pedro could see José Martin, sitting and staring into his lap. As Pedro approached, José Martin looked up at him and began to stand.

Pedro began to speak, to offer his deepest condolences, just as José Martin stood up straight, cradling a newborn baby.

Aghast, Pedro stopped still. José Martin said quietly “I believe this might belong to you” reaching forward to pass the baby to Pedro.

Pedro took the baby, wide eyed and in shock. He asked for Abigail, he asked why he didn’t know, he asked how was this so?

José Martin, shook his head and said, “she’s gone my friend, she’s gone.”

… to be continued.