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Up in the hills were wonderful wild flowers and tiny bees so industrious that they made you ashamed. I blew on the pipe and certain notes rang on the air like drowned bells. There are seven apertures on the pipe, unevenly placed, and the fingers have to be as nimble as spiders. Also the breath must flow like a great, slow bellows, and the head hold a discipline of harmony, both born and slowly learned. The first pattern of music was a small, broken Moorish melody; it got itself caught in the pipe on its way from Marrakesh or the tinkling market of Tiznit. I played this tune over and over again and got stung by a bee.
This was not what I sought. I craved the lilt of the early Galician days when Irish giants sat on their thrones and the storytellers sat under the cedars. And at last, among the wild lilies and the heather, a minute, gasping melody flowed from the pipe. I do not know how. I don't necessarily believe in inspiration and wouldn't care to state that there are obvious reasons for everything. We all have the secret ground which is ourselves—it runs counter to so many orthodox arguments. For me, writing is a certain craft which matures through repetition, but sometimes, in painting, about which I know nothing, I can capture the whole of a small world in a few seconds.
I repeated this pattern of notes and lay back on the heather. A seagull floated over my head but did not speak. About 10 minutes later I heard a flurry over the grass, a rustling and a patter of horn and hoof, and looked around. I was surrounded by sheep. There must have been about five hundred, which meant a thousand eyes, perplexed, inquiring and cold with the cold doubt of sheep. They stood there, ciphers of wool and mutton, with a blaze in their brains. I have never heard of a man being attacked by sheep, but who could tell? I remembered about the eagles and ghosts and stood up. Far away I could hear a man shouting, and presently saw him, a black figure with a looming face. He was waving a pipe, the same fluted shape as mine, and suddenly he sat down, put it to his lips and blew. There was tremble in the wind, a spell of silver and sunlight, and the sheep teetered on their hoofs, flickered their eyes and disappeared.
I sat down and looked at the pipe. It held a fascinating power. It was impossible to resist it. I put it to my lips and blew and the notes scampered over the heather like hares on a bright morning. I hadn't long to wait. In another minute the sheep were back, ringing me round with a wild, thin, staring hope. I was the new messiah of a grassy salvation. Again I could not hear the man shouting, and I got up and walked back to the village, and entered the inn and began drinking at the bar.
"A good day?" asked the proprietor, polishing the glasses.
"A good day," I said. "I've learned to play a tune on the pipe."
"Play it," said the proprietor with a laugh.
I lifted the pipe to my lips and the notes fell out of it like dice.
"I never heard a tune like that," said the proprietor, filling my glass.
It was about five minutes later that the first sheep trotted into the inn.