By Sally Madison
Watching from afar, the Duke studied the horses in the make-shift corral. The young rom cleaned the temporary stable and fed the horses by himself, then began adroitly training the horses.
Emperor Macmillan II had founded a new breed called the Kaldruber. A Spanish foundation stock breed near here in Kladruby, in Bohemia, just a few years ago. The Duke had seen the animal himself and knew this was the Emperor’s missing prize. Ebony and beautiful, she was at least 18 hands. Her mane came down to near her eyes and her tail was long and full. ‘So how did this band of gypsies get their hands on such a beautiful animal?’ He thought, but he knew the answer.
To obtain more information, the Duke engaged the young rom in conversation about the horses. What kind of ailments did each of the horses have? How easy was each one to train? Which were pulling? And which were for sale? Eventually, the Duke asked, “What’s your name?” Kolya was the response. After further discussion, Kolya recounted a brief history of his capture, but he was treated well by the troop. They were his adopted family.
When shouting erupted from across the camp, Kolya and the Duke looked to see a previous buyer accusing the leader of lying, and moving forward with raised fists to carry out his threat. The Duke perceived a look of disgust on Kolya’s face. Kolya had seen that ubiquitous lying so many times before; the distraught man was probably right. The Duke stood back and reflected on the young man. He liked Kolya and could use someone like him.
After the altercation was settled, the Duke approached the leader to purchase 5 of the horses. The leader proclaimed he wanted 6 dukas for each of them. The Duke gave it a thought and said, “I’ll give you 3 dukas for each, or I’ll give you 20 dukas for all five, if you throw in the trainer.” Leaning into the leader’s ear, the Duke whispered “or I could just tell the Emperor where his prized Kladruber had run off to.” The leader was taken aback. ‘How could this man have known?’ the leader thought. ‘Should the Emperor find out about the prized horse, it could be the end of him and his troop. Kolya was a good trainer but not good for the business, he was too honest. He would hate to see him go; he was almost like a son… almost’.
The leader put out his hand to shake the Duke’s, but the Duke pulled back, covering his money pouch. “I will be back in just a minute,” said the Duke.
Approaching Kolya, the Duke asked. “Do you want to come with me, and be my trainer? I need someone who is loyal, honest, hard-working, and skilled. Are you the man I’m looking for?” The huge smile on Kolya’s face sealed the deal.