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I said to Kelly as we drove home, “I’m getting kind of interested in this llama. It’s quite a challenge, not to get too attached.”

“We’ll just have to wait and see how it works out,” Kelly said.

“Yea,” I sighed. I wasn’t fond of waiting and seeing. That night, I dreamt of llamas but didn’t remember any details in the morning.

At the fairgrounds, Kelly said, “Let’s take that male out and walk him around a while, to get a good look at him.” When we got to the barn, a man was looking at the llama. My heart skipped a beat; the man strolled on casually.

The llama looked at us as we approached him. One of his owners was there, and we asked if we could take him out for a walk.

“Sure,” she said, and gave us a lead rope.

At first Kelly walked him around, and I observed. The llama was a dark brown, almost gray, with just a little white on his face and neck. His undercoat had a gray tinge. Hmm, breed that to Lil and you could get a lovely baby.

Kelly observed while I took a turn leading the llama. We checked out his legs, the straightness of his back, the way he moved at different speeds–everything we could think of. He led quite nicely. We talked to his owners more about his health and his history.

I wanted this llama. “Uh oh,” Kelly said, “you’re catching auction fever.”

At the auction, the promoter and the auctioneer were up on a podium behind the little stage where the owners showed their animals. In front of them were three cowboy-hatted men, whose job it was to work on the crowd, scan their section for bidders, coax people, and let out cowboy yells.

We watched the bidding for the champion animals. The male grand champion was a magnificent Eclipse son with abundant wool. The bidding quickly rose, up and up, into the twenty thousands, into the thirties. Every now and then the promoter would give a little spiel. “How often do you get a chance to buy a son of Eclipse here?” He asked. “I tell you, people, this is a rare opportunity.”

That was hardly what I wanted to hear. The llama sold in the upper thirty thousands. Later an Eclipse daughter went for a high price, and again her famous father was praised. There was only one more Eclipse offspring in the entire auction: the one we wanted. A friend I was sitting with guessed that he would go for three to five thousand dollars. I agreed with her that he was worth that, but I was still hoping.

Kelly and I left the stands to get some lunch. There were dozens of females to be sold, plus some alpacas. The male we wanted was about halfway through the males in the auction order. It would be fairly late in the afternoon. That was to our advantage; a lot of people would have left. I reminded myself to stay easy with whatever happened, but I also convinced Kelly that we could go a little higher than the fifteen hundred dollar limit he’d set.

When we went back to the stands, they were rapidly selling males. A llama who resembled our intended llama sold for four thousand. The next one, nothing special, went for a thousand. Next a charming juvenile, then a classy fellow with lovely markings, and a Dr. Doolittle son we had liked, all went through.

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