As has been said before, the pigs of this region are a tough, but curious and friendly breed. They spend their days foraging on the woodland floor for fungi, fallen fruit and nuts, and their nights curled up together under rocky outcrops or in ruined swineherd’s huts. In those days wolves and other wild beasts roamed the interior and a mountain pig was a feast.
The pigs that had made their home in this almond grove were as friendly and curious as any other and so, when they heard the cries of the baby boy, they were quickly snuffling and snorting about him. He was about the size and colour of a large piglet and still retained some aroma of his mother’s milk.
By some miracle of nature, a young sow who had already weaned three litters, took a liking to the child and suckled him for a night and a day.
Now it happened that the King had been followed up the mountain the next day by the merchant from Solenzara, with whom he had crossed the Tyrhennian Sea. The merchant dealt in fine cloth from the East and rare herbs from the North, jewels from the South and gold from the West.
He and his wife had been faithful servants of the Lord and their King and had once had hope that one day they too would be blessed with children. Alas the merchant and his wife had begun to think they would never have a child to call their own.
And so the merchant was in a low mood as his horse and wagon toiled up the rocky path into the interior. By the time he reached the almond grove it was near midday.
From here there was a fine view across the valley down to the sea and the almond trees were in full flower. The merchant thought it a proper place to rest his horse in the shade.
He climbed down from the wagon and tied his horse and then stepped into the grove to rest his back against a tree. As he sat, he noticed a small bundle of rags between the roots.
He made to pick them over when he heard a small cry from within the bundle. Gently he raised up the rags and discovered the baby within. His heart leapt.
‘Praise God,’ he said, and then looked all about for the child’s parents. All he saw were pigs. He called out, appealing for the child’s parents to come forward. ‘Surely there can be no-one able to leave such a tiny creature all alone with these wild pigs?’
He looked more closely at the child and spied the wound on his neck. The merchant knew then that the baby had no other opportunity than to go with him, to be raised as his own. He looked up to the sky and could see only almond blossom.
‘Lord, I name this child Cut-Neck.’