Page 7 - Vladimir Bartol ALAMUT
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Fiction SANJE 9over level ground, then down some steps, until it seemed to have grown very dark. Suddenly he threw his cloak open and Halima felt some- one else’s hands take hold of her. She shuddered in near-mortal terror. The person who had taken her from the horseman laughed quietly. He headed off with her down a corridor. Suddenly a strange chill enveloped her, as though they had entered a cellar. She tried not to think at all but didn’t succeed. She was sure she was coming ever closer to the last and most horrible moment.The man who was holding her began to feel along the wall with his free hand, which finally found some object and firmly pushed it. A gong reverberated loudly.Halima cried out and tried to break free of the man’s arms. He only laughed and said, almost kindly, “Don’t wail, little peacock. Nobody is going to touch you.”Iron chains jangled and Halima once again saw flickers of light through the blindfold. They’re throwing me in jail, she thought. The stream roared beneath her and she held her breath.She heard the tread of bare feet. Someone was approaching, and the man who was holding her handed her off to the newcomer.“Here she is, Adi,” he said.The arms that took her now were lion-strong and completely bare. The man’s chest must have been bare too. She could feel this when he lifted her up. He had to be a real giant.Halima submitted to her fate. From this point on, she paid close attention to what was happening to her but offered no resistance. Carrying her, the man ran across a springy footbridge that swung unpleasant- ly under their weight. Then the ground started to crunch beneath his feet, as though it were covered with fine gravel. She could feel the pleas- ant warmth of the sun’s rays and light penetrating her blindfold. And suddenly out of nowhere came the smell of fresh vegetation and flowers.The man jumped into a boat, causing it to rock heavily. Halima cried out and clutched onto the giant. He gave a high-pitched, almost childlike laugh and said kindly, “Don’t worry, little gazelle. I’m going to row you over to the other side, and then we’ll be home. Here, sit down.”He set her down on a comfortable seat and started rowing.She thought she heard laughter in the distance—lighthearted, girlish laughter. She listened closely. No, she wasn’t mistaken. She could already

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