Chapter One

My Master's Tent

It is known that my people were sculpted from the wind itself by Allah. We of all the animals were given flight without wings. In our forelocks, victory was bound, but as you will see, that victory is not victory for man.

I was born in the deserts of what the Franks call Outremer. My mother was asil, pure, an Arabian with a coat as dark as the night sky, a concave face, a beautiful jibbah, and a tender heart. My father was a fast, shining black Turkoman horse with the character all men desire in their warhorses, long legs, a deep chest, and a slender neck. I inherited all of this from my mother and father, so that when I first came into the world, my mother's master wept at my beauty.

Where the Bedouin keep their mares in their yurts and prefer them to ride upon, the Turks favor the stallion. They keep him tethered while the mares wander with their foals until such time as the colts are caught and kept as their fathers are. As my mother was an Arab horse, and my father a Turk, my master chose to keep my mother close to him, and my father tethered outside.

During the day, my mother and I would wander in the desert, never going far from our master's yurt. At night, when the desert grew cold, our master would fold back the flaps of his yurt, and holding my mother by her silky forelock, lead her inside.

The first time I went inside my master's yurt was a day when I experienced many firsts, for it was my first day in the world. The yurt seemed a great wide open mouth that would swallow me whole, and I was very afraid of it.

I whinnied fearfully, and refused to go another step. My mother nickered reassuringly, but still I would not go in.

My master spoke softly, and walked toward me, and I grew more afraid. My mother was unworried however, and so I decided that this man was not to be feared. He unwound his belt, which you should know was not leather, but cloth. This he tied around my eyes after much coaxing. Now blind, I had no choice but to do as he wished. Gently, he placed one arm under my belly, the other behind my haunches, then, though he was a small man, he lifted me, as I had seen him carry his sheep.

Soon, he set me down, and I stood, quivering fearfully. Not long after that, he removed his belt from my eyes, and I saw that I was inside that terrible cloth cave. I pressed myself tight to my mother's side, drawing on her strength and courage.

My master's wife was mixing some hot food in a bowl, and my mother was nosing at the small wooden table beside her. The woman made no effort to push her away. Our master returned outside the yurt, and I could hear him tending to my father, and to the sheep.

Eventually, our master came to join his wife, and my mother laid down within the yurt. By now, I was beginning to feel tired, and before long, I had settled down beside her and gone to sleep.

We spent that night, and many after it, sleeping in the master's yurt. So it was that I learned to love man as I loved my mother. My master was very gentle, and very kind with me. This does not mean that when I did something that he did not like, he did not make it known. I mean only that he was fair, and disciplined with the soft hands of guidance, not the firm hands of punishment.