Page 15 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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Fiction SANJE 17came into the tent. When my master saw me, he pulled his dagger and tried to stab me, so that he couldn’t give in to the temptation of selling me. But the merchant held him back, and then they closed the deal. I thought I was going to die. The Armenian took me to Samarkand. He was revolting. It was there that he sold me to Sayyiduna. But all that is long past... ”“Poor thing, you’ve endured a lot,” Halima said and stroked her cheek compassionately.Fatima asked, “Were you your master’s wife?”Halima blushed. “No. I mean, I don’t know. What do you mean?” “Don’t bother her with those questions, Fatima,” Miriam said. “Can’tyou see she’s still a child?”“Oh, what happened to me was bad,” said Fatima, sighing. “My rela-tives sold both my mother and me to some peasant. I was barely ten years old when I had to become his wife. He had debts, and since he couldn’t pay them, he gave me as payment to his creditor, but he didn’t tell him that I’d already become his wife. So my new master called me all kinds of abusive names, beat me and tormented me, and screamed that the peas- ant and I had cheated him. He swore by all the martyrs that he would destroy us both. I didn’t understand any of it. The master was old and ugly, and I’d shake in his presence as though he were an evil spirit. He let both of his former wives beat me too. Then he found himself a fourth one and he was as sweet as honey with her, but he’d just beat the rest of us all that much more. Finally we were saved by the leader of one of Sayyiduna’s caravans, who bought me for these gardens.”Halima looked at her with teary eyes, then she smiled and said, “See, in the end you came here, and things are all right.”“Enough storytelling for now,” Miriam interrupted. “It will be dark soon, you’re tired, and we have work to do tomorrow. Take this stick and wash your teeth with it.”It was a thin little stick with tiny, brush-like fibers at one end. Halima quickly understood its function. They brought her a dish with water in it, and when she had finished this task, they took her to a bedroom.“Sara and Zainab will be your companions,” Miriam told her. “Good,” Halima replied.The bedroom floor was covered with soft, colorful carpets. Carpetscovered the walls and were hung between the low-lying beds, which

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