Andorra 1927

This is another story from the bearded stranger's grandfather, known here as the stranger.

The stranger told me afterwards that he was doing his good deed for the day: keeping two herds of cows apart.

He was walking up a high mountain pass, fifteen hundred meters above sea level. I was coming from the Andorran side and was a hundred metres from the border with France when I saw him madly running around a pasture chasing cows and shouting ‘shoo’. I caught sight of my friend, who had come up from France, and we sat and watched the scene for a while. We laughed quietly as our dogs ran around the pasture, barking, cleverly driving our two herds together as the stranger waved his arms frantically to keep them apart.  We did our business together and I put the money away in my belt.

After a while we went to see the stranger. He was English but spoke French. ‘Are they yours? I’m so sorry. I saw the two herds coming from different directions and I tried to keep them apart.’ ‘Never mind,’ I said, and we two cowherds got our dogs working and had soon created two separate herds again.

The stranger was walking into Andorra so we set off together. He looked back at my French friend who was driving his herd down the mountain into France. ‘Stop, stop,’ the stranger cried, ‘surely that Frenchman has stolen half of your cows.’ I explained it to him patiently. How cattle couldn’t legally be imported into France; how customs officials couldn’t guard every pasture. And how we hoped that the policeman in my French friend’s village hadn’t counted the number of cows in his herd as it left the village that morning.