Page 32 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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34 Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT“I hope it’s not unpleasant.”“No, not at all. I really like it. There are just so many things I don’t understand.”“Be patient, dear. That will come with time.”Halima leaned her head against Miriam’s shoulder and caught a glimpse of Sara, and she had to smile. Sara’s face had a look of torment- ed jealousy.People like me, she thought, and her heart leapt.The path led through some bushy plantings to the edge of the thunder- ous torrent that dashed through the rocks far below. Halima observed that the gardens must have been built on top of a cliff.On one of the riverside rocks lizards were sunning themselves. Their backs shone like emeralds.“Look how pretty they are,” Miriam said. “Ugh, I can’t stand them. They’re vicious.” “Why?”“They attack girls.”Miriam and Sara both smiled.“Who ever gave you that idea, child?”Halima was afraid that she’d blurted out some inanity again, so sheanswered carefully.“My former master told me, ‘Watch out for boys! If they jump overthe wall and break into the garden, run away from them, because they keep a lizard or a snake under their shirts and they’d let it loose to bite you.’”Miriam and Sara burst out laughing. Sara devoured Halima with her eyes, while Miriam, biting her lip, said, “Well, there aren’t any mean boys here, and even our lizards are completely gentle and tame. They haven’t done anything nasty to anyone yet.”Then she began whistling. The lizards turned their heads in all directions, as if looking for the person who was calling them.Halima huddled between Miriam and Sara, where she felt safer, and said, “You’re right. They’re pretty.”A little pointed head poked out of a crack in a rock and darted its forked tongue out. Halima froze in terror. Its head rose higher and high- er and its neck grew longer and longer. Then there was no doubt: a big,

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