Page 11 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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Fiction SANJE 13“Adi gave her to me, Apama. She’s still pretty frightened. Her name is Halima.”The old woman approached Halima, sized her up from head to foot, and inspected her like a horse trader inspects a horse’s parts.“Maybe she won’t be quite so useless. We’ll just need to fatten her up so she isn’t such a wisp.”Then she added with particular anger, “And you say that castrat- ed Moorish animal gave her to you? So he had her in his hands? Oh, that miserable, twisted thing! How can Sayyiduna put so much trust in him?”“Adi was just doing his duty, Apama,” Miriam replied. “Now let’s go take care of this child.”She took Halima by one hand, while still holding onto the leopard’s collar with the other. She drew both of them up the steps to the building. The other girls followed.They entered a high-ceilinged corridor that led all around the build- ing. Polished marble walls reflected images like mirrors. Rich carpets absorbed their footsteps. Miriam released the leopard at one of castle’s many exits. He leapt away on his long legs like a dog, turning his charm- ing little cat’s head back curiously toward Halima, who was now finally relaxed.They turned into an intersecting corridor and entered a round room with a high, vaulted ceiling. Halima cried out in astonishment. Even in her dreams she had never seen this much beauty. Light poured through a glass ceiling composed of separate elements, each in a different color of the rainbow. Violet, blue, green, yellow, red and pale shafts of light filtered down into a circular pool where the water rippled gently, agitat- ed by some unseen source. The many colors played on its surface, spill- ing out onto the floor until they came to a stop near the wall, on divans covered with artfully embroidered pillows.Halima stood at the entrance with her eyes and mouth wide open. Miriam looked at her and gently smiled. She bent down over the pool and put a hand in the water.“It’s nice and warm,” she said. She told the girls who had come in after them to prepare everything for a bath. Then she started to undress Halima.

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