in the back of a wagon moving fast, taken to who knew where. At least he
had given her something to wear. Pushed into the midst of a group of men
and carts, they all stared when the man in blue was gone. They were locals
if their dress said anything, certainly not one of the blue man’s people.
Every night for days the sky changed from mauve to violet and lilac with streaks
of purple and finally a deep ultramarine. Days of nothing but worry about
what she had been sold into. The men would be forced to work, horrible
torture if they disappointed, forced to turn Moor if their master felt inclined.
The women though . . . the man in blue said nothing to her, didn't even try.
Nor did he lay a hand on her. He just rode a horse along side the caravan
of goods. Never seeing his face because of the deep metallic blue veil of
his turban, all she could say about the man that owned her was that his arms
occasionally pulled free of his clothes showing muscles like ropes. The
strongest ropes a ship have ever seen. A house slave, a concubine thrown
in his harem, heaven help her those were the charitable possibilities.
horizon above the palm trees seemed to fade with shadows, the sky lowering.
Only as they kept moving could Aubreigh see they were mountains, snow covered
peaks in Africa. Days as the Atlas Mountains rose before them closer and
closer, snow capped and hazy in the distance. Dry country without water
and then the richest of countryside in fertile irrigated splendor.
Mountains on one side, a waterless barren on the other filled with men armed
with more weapons than a colonial hunter worried about bear and Indians might
need. The dirt had turned red supporting fields of crops as far as the eye
could see, the green vegetation vivid against such color. Finally a city
appeared, its walls as red as the earth.
they reached the city gate, the man in blue unceremoniously threw a blanket over
her hiding her from view. The sounds of people everywhere filled her ears.
Voices whose words were unintelligible. Smells she couldn’t identify.
Finally, they had left the crowded streets she could glimpse from a hole in the
blanket and emerged in elegance.
The blanket was pulled from her and Aubreigh sat up slowly. They were
inside a large riyad, the center of which was a large marble pool of water
glittering in the sun, flower petals floating on its surface. It was a
veritable jungle within four walls. Palm trees reached to the sky above
leaving the shade below dappled from their leaves. Bougainvillea hung from
the roof down the pillars that created the horseshoe colonnades among the blue
and green tiled walls. Large windows filled the walls of the riyad each
covered with an ornate metal grate, more decoration than prison bars.
Orange, lemon, pomegranates, figs, mint, geranium, basil, and jasmine were just
a few of the plants that grew within the hidden Eden. Aubreigh's bare feet
chilled on the stone floor as she climbed out of the wagon. A half dome
niche was built into one wall, a luxurious beige divan laid out inside with
dozens of pillows in beige and rust. Carved cedar doors studded with brass
gave no view to the rooms beyond and Aubreigh turned to the man in blue.
she wasn't sure he actually knew what she was saying, what other question would
someone ask when they have been dragged across a country and hidden under a
blanket. Marocksh, not Fez or Meknes where all the stories of slaves
usually ended, dying to build the palaces of the Sultans. Not that she
knew anything more of Marocksh than the other cities only that it lay to the
south. And then she was alone. The sounds of the man in blue faded
into the depths of the house, without another word to her. Aubreigh was in
a marble floored, flower-strewn prison.