Historical setting: 563 C.E., maybe, a beach in La Coruña
Just now there is a rhythm of hoofs, galloping, pounding as though it were coming up from under the sand! There in the distance on the edge of the water are four horses at full gallop. Nic and I step back as they go right by us. Two of the horses have riders and the other two are led but seem to be fighting lead-lines made for tamer footings and a slower pace. They slow to trot after they pass, then turn back to this place. A young woman slides off the dapple gelding in the lead and her great and glowing smile assures us that with the appropriate exchange of coins we, too, may gallop this seashore.
I suggest we walk the horses a bit to cool them as we talk this over. The boy who rode away on the sag-backed mare slides down from one of the bays, and it is clear we were not delivered the gentle ox Nic requested. The boy hands the lead of one of the horses to Nic, and he doesn’t seem the least bit skittish – neither Nic nor the horse seems skittish. But the huge dapple-gray senses Nic’s apprehensions and arches his neck and rolls his eyes, stepping sideways to get a good look at this man who is so kind and yet awkward in his horsey greetings. The young woman tightens her hold on the gray’s lead, and he pulls back clearly disproving of her defiant hold. She offers me the choice of another fine bay or this feisty gray for our cooling down walk around. I choose the gray. Maybe I’m just strutting my feathers for the girl – it’s an instinct or a bad habit. But I went straight for the challenge.
It’s a beautiful horse, and Nic is very aware of this and believes that I’m choosing this one for the purchase. But Nic is the one who is buying the horses. It’s his money. He should have the finest of the two horses we choose; so for safety sake I suggest we stick with two of the brown ones. He invites me, then, to pick the brown one I want and I choose one of a good spirit, but a bit less stately than the more elder and gentle bay Nic is walking. I thought Nic would make the safest choice and take the most gentle bay for himself; but the deal made, we had the brown horse I chose for me, and the feisty dapple gray for him.