The lesson of the old hunter

They walked in the bluish gloom of dawn, and the immense plain of anhara grass looked more like the bottom of a lost ocean. The young prince barely remembered the curved man in front of him, who looked at him with a watchful eye.

He was no longer the same man he had met with his father on his glorious hunts.

A student in the big city, these memories seemed distant and jarring to the present reality. Nevertheless, one last lesson was reserved for him. The prince would soon ascend to the throne of the Ombalas, and would learn how a king’s life might resemble a hunt. “It’s all about making a choice at the right moment”.

The young prince meditated on the words of the old hunter as he followed him through the grasslands and swamps, seeing herds flee as soon as they perceived them, whether by sight or by the smell of danger carried by the wind. A roble antelope grazing solitarily sent a shot through the young prince’s heart in anticipation of an instant gratification. Disconcerted, he noticed the old hunter’s silent gesture of denial, his hand and spear revealing no intention to attack.

“There are not many in our territory anymore... poachers’ raids have left them on

the brink of extinction... robbing us of pride and inspiration”.

A few hours later, the sun began to decline on the horizon. The prince was discouraged: “We walk back and forth and the day draws near its end... it will not be easy to take home this trophy”. “Look at that antelope over there... I spotted him early in the morning... he has also been back and forth... looking for water and fresh grass”. “With a rifle, it would be easier... with this spear I do not know”.

The old hunter smiled, breathed in the wind and signalled to his young companion to follow him. With redoubled care, they stealthily reduced the distance between them and the antelope that was motionless, scanning the surrounding space before devoting itself to the last meal of the day. It was alert to a hunter that could suddenly spring on it as soon as it lowered its guard to touch the green grass at its feet. Every time it bowed its head to eat, the old hunter came closer, almost crawling, followed closely by the young prince. Still chewing, the antelope lifted its head and resumed its inspection facing the danger side, against which the wind blew. On the opposite side, he felt protected by its sense of smell. With instinctive caution the impala swept the chana grassland with his gaze, moving its head from one side of the horizon to the other before catching another portion of grass. But the moment came when its gaze met the sun, and it was forced to blink, and it blinked, closing its eyes for a few fractions of a second. So that it did not see, and could not see, the hunter emerging from the chana and the spear vigorously flung, which struck its neck. With time and patience, the prince learned how fatal it is to be blinded, even for a single moment, for all that shines.

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