Page 12 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
P. 12

14 Vladimir Bartol ALAMUTHalima felt ashamed in front of the girls. She hid behind Miriam and cast her eyes down. The girls examined her curiously, quietly giggling.“Get out, you nasty things,” said Miriam, chasing them away. They obeyed instantly and left.Miriam gathered Halima’s hair into a knot on the top of her head so that it wouldn’t get wet, then submerged her in the pool. She scrubbed and washed her vigorously. Then she drew her out of the water and rubbed her dry with a soft towel. She gave her a silk blouse and told her to put on the broad trousers brought by the girls. She handed her a pretty halter which turned out to be too big, and then had her put on a brightly colored jacket that reached down to her knees.“For today you’ll have to make do with these clothes,” she said. “But soon we’ll sew you new ones your size, and you’ll be happy with them, you’ll see.”She sat her down on a divan and piled up a bunch of pillows.“Rest here for a while, and I’ll go see what the girls have fixed for you to eat.”She stroked her cheek with her soft, rosy hand. At that instant they both sensed that they liked each other. Halima abruptly and instinctively kissed her protector’s fingers. Miriam made a show of scowling at her, but Halima could tell that she didn’t really mind. She grinned blissfully.Miriam was barely gone when Halima felt overcome with fatigue. She closed her eyes. For a while she resisted going to sleep, but soon she told herself, “I’ll get to see it all again in no time,” and then she was asleep.When she first awoke she didn’t know where she was or what had happened to her. She pushed aside a blanket which the girls had used to cover her while she slept and sat up on the edge of the divan. She rubbed her eyes, then stared at these young women’s kind faces, illuminated in the multicolored light. It was already late afternoon. Miriam crouched down on a pillow beside her and offered her a dish of cold milk, which she emptied greedily.Miriam poured more milk from a colorful jug, and Halima drank this down in one draft too.A dark-skinned girl carrying a gilt tray approached and offered her a variety of sweets made of flour, honey and fruit. Halima ate everything in front of her.

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