Porter took them to the market square and to one of those massive stone building. Porter went inside while the rest of them waited. He came back out with a ring of four keys. Moving a couple at a time, those on the leashes were taken to great stone cages with bars on their front wall. When they were all behind bars and without their leashes for the first time, Canis found a dark corner and curled up with his arms around his knees. When the heavy metal door clanged shut, Canis winced as if he had just been struck. Had he known how bad this cage would feel, he would have made a break for freedom. Maybe he was growing used to his captivity.
“Gem,” said Porter. Even his voice made Canis flinch. “Try to get him to come out of that corner. He’s not for sale yet, but he’s got to start sometime.” Canis didn’t look up to see who Porter was talking about
“Yes master,” replied Gem.
While the metal collar had antagonized his nerves, the bars were positively suffocating, though there was plenty of room for them to stretch out or walk around. Sitting in a dark corner was no comfort. Even Gem’s gentle touch sent him cringing inside.
“Move around,” she said. “Let them see you,” she said. He tried but all that happened was his pacing the bars like a caged animal.
Porter saw this and gave Gem permission to desist her encouragement. His prowling was affecting the other five slaves in the pen.
Gem pulled him back to his corner but it was no use; once set in motion, Canis couldn’t seem to stop. In an effort to make Gem happy, he sat in his corner, but now that he’d moved once, he had to move again. He went and tested the bars but they were just as sturdy as before and still too close together even for his spare frame.
The first time he reached through the bars, he tried to follow his hand but the others pulled him away from his effort to slip through. Gem’s explanation of “we’ll all be beaten if you get away” was enough to halt that try but he couldn’t seem to stop pacing as long as the bars were close and freedom just on the other side.
His days in this cage became a grueling cycle. He’d pace to the bars and test their strength. He’d reach through, sometimes here, sometimes there, as far as he could reach without alarming his companions. He’d allow Gem to pull him away and head him back to his corner. In frustration, he’d curl up on his agony unable to cry, unable to explain the pain. Then the cycle would start again, he couldn’t stop, just as he couldn’t lie down and sleep. The nights were worse. Though they were further from such common noises as a couple having an argument in the night, the city sounds were still there. Armed men walked through three of four times every night and one night they chased another. Sometimes there was a catfight and sometimes it was a dog barking in the distance or the slamming of a door. there was no rest. Not here. Freedom was just there, just over there, so close yet so far away.