Chapter 2 Chamber of the Beasts

Removing a leather pouch from around her neck, Viridiana poured its contents of small stones and spices along the animal tracks that marked the cave floor. Then she put the silver hand inside the pouch and placed it around Amaris Dahia. "This xámza* has been given to you by the Wild World. We cannot tell you why. Someday you will know. Wear it always. It will protect you from evil. hu," said her mother.

"hu," said her father. He lifted his young daughter onto his back and they left the cave, covering their tracks as they went. Then the small family of wandering exiles traded wordless melodies, while unseen animal eyes followed them all the way back to the caravan.

Since that day, generations have told how Amaris Dahia traveled between worlds; between the animal and the human, between danger and enchantment, between her Gitana mother and her Sephardic father. And, since that day, it has been said that Amaris Dahia held, secreted away in a leather pouch about her neck, the Xámza with the eye of a jackal—a talisman from the Wild World.

*Xámza: Amulet worn to ward off the evil eye