The wind blew an endless flurry of desert sand between the square, plain brown buildings into homes, food, and faces. In sharp contrast, brilliant, exotic colors filled market square; not to mention the exotic animals. The sounds and smell of camels were a backdrop to everything from the shouts of vendors hawking food or clothes or animals to the constant chatter of hagglers. Sand was the other constant. It seemed Timbuktu must soon disappear beneath Sahara's endlessly swirling sand.
Sybil Taylor gave no thought to the activity of the street. The mesmerizing strangeness that had met her a mere week ago was familiar enough now, though it would never be comfortably so. It was enough to have provided her dream.
The fine Arabian mare was bewitching. She had the huge black, liquid looking eyes, which the best of her breed were known for, and a head so delicate it might have been chiseled of marble.
The mare trembled like a deer as the dark man ran his hand gently down her near foreleg, then lifted it to study the base of the hoof. Each muscle stood out taught on his arm, mirroring the fine boned muscular structure of the mare's leg. Both sweated gently in the afternoon heat. Sybil leaned forward hesitantly. She had seen this man, the horse-trader, each afternoon for four days in succession, and on each day, he seemed more tense, more angry.
Perhaps it was merely that she had been slow to purchase one of the horses he had offered. It seemed like something more, however. She did not know his religion, was unsure, in fact, of the man's ethnicity. She wondered if she had offended, somehow.
His complexion a middling red-gold was not unlike many of the area people, though his features were as sharply chiseled as his finest horses. Beneath his heavy turban, she could not judge his hair color, but if it matched his eyebrows and beard, blacker than night black it would be. He spoke careful, correct English, but she had heard him address another buyer in perfect French too.