The Witches’ Sabbath
Province of Aragon, Spain, 1774
The Huesca stagecoach was three hours late leaving Zaragoza. First, the military guard failed to show up and a boy had to be sent round the taverns to find him, then an elderly passenger decided not to make the journey and his box was damaged while being taken down. By far the most serious delay, however, was caused by the deplorable state of the horses. They were emaciated, knock-kneed nags that inspired little confidence in the passengers. After much deliberation the driver decided that one was in fact lame and it had to be unharnessed and a replacement found. This proved no easy task on a Sunday and the animal they eventually procured, a sickly, sunken-backed bay, was small improvement. The lights in the Plaza del Pilar had long been ablaze by the time the carriage finally crossed the wooden bridge over the Ebro.