Page 22 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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24 Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT“If you’re going to act like that, everybody’s going to guess that you’ve got secrets. You’ve got to carry yourself like you don’t know anything. That way nobody’s going to start probing... I’m going to join the others, but you stay out here in the sun and let your hair dry.”Halima was now alone for the first time since she had arrived in this strange world. She didn’t really know anything—neither where she was, nor what her role was to be. She was surrounded by sheer myster- ies. But this wasn’t entirely unpleasant. Just the opposite. She had found her balance in this fairy-tale world quite well. For one thing, there was plenty of fodder for her imagination. It’s best if I pretend to be ignorant, she thought. That way people won’t suspect me, and I’ll be able to get on their good side. And then they’ll be more inclined to take care of me.Sara had provided her with more than enough riddles to keep her mind busy. Miriam, whom she had gotten to know as kind and good, now had another, mysterious face. What did it mean that she and Sayyiduna were close? What was Apama’s power that she could be mean but also know Sayyiduna? And that silly Adi, who Miriam said had Sayyiduna’s complete confidence? And finally, who was Sayyiduna, this powerful “Our Master” whom Sara could speak about only in whispers?She couldn’t hold out long in one place. She turned down a path and started encountering new things. She bent over some flowers and watched and scared off some colorful butterflies that were perching there. Worker bees and bright-colored bumblebees covered in pollen buzzed all around her. Bugs and gnats flew this way and that, all enjoying the warm spring sun with her. She had already forgotten her miserable former life and the arduous journey that had been so full of fear and uncertainty. Now her heart sang with happiness and the joy of life. It was as if she really had found heaven.Something moved in a coppice of pomegranates. She listened close- ly. A slender, lithe-legged animal leapt out of the foliage. It’s a gazelle, she thought. The animal stood still and looked at her with its beautiful brown eyes.Halima overcame her initial fright. She crouched down and began calling it, instinctively mimicking the strange Koran interpreter.“Gazelle, my little belle, let’s hear you bleat but don’t retreat, my slender-legged, my lissome-legged... See, I can’t do any more than that

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