Page 17 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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Fiction SANJE 19Sara devoured Halima with her eyes. She would have liked to hug her, but she didn’t dare. She glanced furtively toward Zainab.Zainab was already seated at her mirror, combing her hair. “We’re going to have to give yours a wash today,” Sara said to Halima. “Will you let me wash your hair?”“That would be fine.”She had to get up so her companions could lead her to a separate washroom.“Do all of you baThe every day?” she asked incredulously.“Of course!” the other two laughed. They immersed her in a wood- en bathtub and splashed her playfully. She shrieked, dried herself with a towel, and then slid into her clothes with a pleasant, refreshed feeling.They ate breakfast in a long dining hall. Each of them had her own place, and Halima counted twenty-four in all, including herself. They sat her at the head of the table next to Miriam, who asked her, “So what do you know how to do?”“I can embroider and sew, and I know how to cook.”“What about reading and writing?”“I know how to read a little.”“We’re going to have to work on that. And what about versemaking?”“I’ve never learned that.”“Right. You’re going to have to learn all that and quite a bit morearound here.”“That’s fine,” Halima said happily. “I’ve always wanted to learnthings.”“You should know that we enforce strict discipline when it comes tolessons. You will be no exception. And let me warn you about one other thing. Don’t ask questions about things that aren’t directly related to your studies.”Miriam struck Halima as much more serious and strict than the day before. Still, she sensed that the older girl liked her. “I promise I’ll obey you in everything and I’ll do everything just the way you tell me,” she said.She could sense that Miriam held some favored rank among all the others, and she grew curious about this, but she didn’t dare to ask questions.

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