Page 33 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
P. 33

Fiction SANJE 35yellowish snake, undoubtedly attracted by Miriam’s whistle, had crawled out of the crevice.The lizards darted to all sides. Halima screamed. She tried to pull Miriam and Sara away, but they held firm.“Don’t worry, Halima,” Miriam said, to calm her. “This is our good friend. We call her Peri, and when we whistle she crawls out of her little hole. She’s so well behaved that none of us can complain about her. In general we’re friends in these gardens, people and animals alike. We’re cut off from the rest of the world and take pleasure in each other.”Halima relaxed, but she wanted to get away from there.“Let’s go, please,” she pleaded.They laughed, but complied.“Don’t be so afraid,” Miriam scolded her. “It should be obvious thatwe all like you.”“Do you have other animals?”“Lots of them. In one of the gardens we have a whole menagerie.But it takes a boat to get there, so sometime when you’re free you can ask Adi or Mustafa to take you.”“I’d like that. Is this place we live in very big?”“So big that you could die of hunger if you got lost in it.”“My goodness! I’m not going anywhere alone again.”“It’s not that bad. The garden we live in is actually on an islandsurrounded by the river on one side and moats on the other three. It’s not that big, so if you leave it but don’t cross any water, you can’t get lost. But over there, at the bottom of that rocky cliff face, is a forest with wild leopards.”“Where did you get Ahriman from that he’s so gentle and tame?”“From that forest. Not that long ago he was still just like a little kitten. We fed him with goat’s milk, and even now we still don’t feed him meat, so that he doesn’t go wild. Mustafa brought him for us.”“I don’t know Mustafa.”“He’s a good person, like all our eunuchs. He used to be a torch- bearer for a famous prince. It was very tough work, so he ran away. He and Moad are the garden keepers. But it’s already time to go back to the classroom. Fatima and Zuleika are going to train us in music and singing.”“Oh, I like that!”

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