eanwhile, after listening to Yasmaili's brother, the caravaneers' leader stands up and makes his way toward her, nodding and bowing slightly as he does. He is grey-haired, grey-bearded, and wears a periapt at his throat. Not a holy man, then, but one who follows the teachings of the desert's prophets.
"My apologies, madam," he calls out in a deep, ironic voice. "It seems one of my men is impetuous and has offended you. Might I offer amends?"
By that time Yasmaili is nearly at the door, but it is her bad fortune that another caravan has just arrived, and more men are trooping inside. A small delay, but even small delays can be crucial.
With an effort Yasmaili prevents herself from gazing yearningly at the door. The burning sun, the scouring breeze, the stench of camel dung, freedom--all just a few steps away. She turns instead to look at the caravan leader. "I am the finest dancer in all the City of Tears," she announces boldly (and probably not entirely truthfully). "I dance in the streets because I've discovered that when a man asks for a performance in a more secluded spot he is after more than he says." Then she adds in a slightly less magestic tone, "My father is unwell, honored sir, and I must gather a dowry how I may."
[Michelle's note: According to my belly-dance literature street-dancing was a common means for less affluent girls to increase their net worth.]
A couple of the customers grin and nudge each other. Gravely, the caravan leader says, "I am certain a woman of your skills is wise enough to avoid compromising herself."
"Perhaps I am over-wary and mistook his meaning." She tries to pitch her tone to indicate that she is willing to pretend that she misunderstood in order to not cause a fuss. "No amends are necesary." Now there is a master-piece of almost truth and misdirection, she thinks to herself as she begins turning back towards the door, outwardly serene, but inwardly ready to make a run for it. I hope it works.
Sun image provided by Clipart Castle.