The legend

After discovering the death of Elizabeth anger burned so blazingly in Gaetar’s chest that he could not remain in his kneeling position until he became of stone and joined his beloved as he would have wished to. He had started to curse those who had condemned her, and as he did the desire to avenge and right her became stronger and stronger. His life had been wasted and it was ending, but if he could make the world a little fairer, if he could protect the other people who had beauty and love in their hearts, he would at least be able to rest at peace afterwards. Probably they would only kill him before he could achieve anything, but then he would welcome death open-armed. He saw again the arrogant faces of all those who had condemned her. The bishop, the inquisitor, the mayor, her own family, her betrothed she had never loved. And anger flared in his chest.

Many years passed and from the undergrounds of Lausanne, Gaetar gave birth to his revolt. All the prisoners, all the poor people, all the lepers, all the people who were angry, he welcomed in his new town he had founded. He set everyone to work, digging galleries and stairs and houses in the rock. They had found several underground lakes and rivers, and his town organized itself on several levels along these bodies of water. Gaetar had enough mastery over his anger to keep it deep within and using only part of it to give him the energy, the strength, to continue his project day after day, month after month, year after year. The people around him passed, but he remained. He could not die. He had way too much anger, too great a desire to take his revenge. His underground town became famous, but despite their researches Lausanne officials could never discover it, and so they attributed the whole story to a legend. But the town was real, and it was beautiful too, as before getting into exile, Gaetar was one of the most talented master builders. And he built the underground town as if his beloved would one day return to life, as if she would see it with her own eyes. In fact deep down in his heart a belief was rooted. He thought that the day he would take his revenge, the day he would have his own town where no bishop or aristocrat could set foot, then Elizabeth would somehow return to him.

And so after many years Gaetar decided it was time to take action. With some of his fellow men and women he had organized in brigades, he dug tunnels directed toward the town hall and the cathedral and the castle. And there he went on solitary exploration. He wanted to see his victims, the murderers of his wife, with his own eyes before to kill them. He looked at himself in a mirror, the first he saw in ages, and he was surprised to discover his physical appearance had not changed. Time had stopped passing for him after the death of Elizabeth, and he still looked as if he were twenty years old. A guard passed him, but he didn’t look at him, strangely. And then Gaetar discovered the mortal world could not see him any longer. People passed him by as if he was made of smoke or thin air. He didn’t have to hide himself. It was a strange sensation of invisibility, of potency. And yet he could not rejoice about it as his heart was bleeding. He wondered why the people in the underground could still see him, and then he concluded it was because they too had a great suffering in their chest, and probably they could see the heart beyond the smoke, they could feel his pain. Gaetar resumed his mission of exploration, and he found the mayor, the bishop, the inquisitor and the family of Elizabeth, as the tunnels he had dug had been very precise in opening breaches in the buildings he wished to explore. Many years had passed, and they had all grown old. But time had not cooled Gaetar’s anger and his first reflex when he found them was the urgency to wake them up and shout and cry and ask them why, why, had they imposed so much suffering on him, why they had taken away his beloved and his wife, why they had treated him with so much contempt and so much hate when he had never done anything wrong to him. His only fault had been of loving a woman above his station, and being loved by her in return, and of marrying her despite the disapproval of her family, and of living in hiding several years before being discovered. But Gaetar did not wake them up, and he simply looked at their sleeping faces. In the bag under their eyes, in the harsh lines of their faces, in the rotund shape of their bodies, he could well-see the toll a life spent in making others suffer had. He thought of strangling them in their sleep. He thought of capturing them and bringing them all to the underground city and make for them a public trial there, to once in their life experience the fear, the pain, that they had imposed for years on others.

Night after night Gaetar returned to watch them sleep. He also came by day as no one could see him, and he listened to them talking, to their contempt about people, to their harshness, to their haughtiness and the pettiness of their conversations. He noticed no one mentioned him or Elizabeth, they had probably entirely forgotten about them, about his pain. Only in her family he saw traces of that grief still, and had they not been his enemies Gaetar would have liked very much to reveal himself and share his pain with theirs.

He observed and observed them, wondering what to do, how to take his revenge, and finally be able to rest at peace. But strangely as days passed, the anger in his heart dimmed. That slightly worried Gaetar, but he had no other choice but going on, continuing to visit his victims and reflect about the fate they deserved. He could more and more see the human nature, the hidden expressions of vulnerability, the fear, the pain, the anguishes, and even the love, yes the love, on their faces. Even the ugliest and harshest had those moments of vulnerability, as Gaetar could observe them in all sorts of settings, all day long. Also age added a layer of vulnerability. One night Gaetar sat down on a couch, and there for the first time in a very long time he fell asleep. And he dreamt. He saw Elizabeth coming toward him, beaming at him. She looked at him into the eyes, and Gaetar felt his heart melting. They didn’t exchange a word, didn’t touch, but it was enough. Enough to understand, to feel, Elizabeth was still alive somewhere in the world. Gaetar’s decision was made before he thought of it. He went to each of his victims and kissed them on the brow, and said farewell to them. Then he walled again the breaches that had been pierced in their houses, and he embraced each of the persons who had followed and helped him in the underground town, and he told to them to hope in a fairer future. They started crying when he said he would go away, leave them. He had become like a father to them as he took care of them, listened to their pain, gave them all what they needed. But he told them they had a lot of strength in themselves, and for a time he helped them brush away the scars of life, and now they would all be able to walk by themselves and keep their dignity. He told them not to hate anyone, nor even their enemies, as each thing had its reason of happening in life. He then kissed them on the brow, as if they were all his own children, and he left. He returned to the cave of the cathedral where his Elizabeth had perished of cold and hunger. He kneeled there and he started crying. He remained there for a very, very long time, until his blood stopped running in his body, until his limbs froze and became of stone. And if you ever visit the crypt of the cathedral nowadays, you still see a weeping statue in front of a wall, you still see Gaetar’s face where all the pain has been washed away by tears. His face is very beautiful, as if the sun itself was lighting his heart, as if his beloved was looking into his eyes, and if you come closer you will see crystal tears stopped midway on his cheeks. But the crypt is closed, walled, as the vision of Gaetar’s weeping belongs only to his beloved to see.