Excerpt from The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Water Mirror

by Kai Meyer

The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer X
The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2005, 256 pages

    Aug 2006, 272 pages


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"Now rest," he advised them after Eft had treated the cuts. Then he waved to Dario, Boro, and Tiziano, who'd been lurking at the storeroom door. "You three take care of the rest."

As Merle was leaving the workshop with Junipa, she turned once more to Arcimboldo. "What happens to them now?" She pointed to the ball in the master's hand.

"We throw them into the canal," he replied with a shrug. "Let them settle into the reflections on the water."

Merle nodded, as if she'd expected nothing else, then led Junipa up to their room.

The news spread around the workshop like wildfire. There was going to be a festival! Tomorrow it would be thirty-six years to the day since the army hosts of the Egyptian Empire were massed at the edges of the lagoon. Steamboats and galleys had crossed the water and sunbarks were standing ready in the skies for the attack on the helpless city. But the Flowing Queen had protected Venice, and since then this day had been celebrated throughout the entire city with festivals of rejoicing. One of them would be taking place very close by. Tiziano had heard about it that morning when he went with Eft to the fish market, and he immediately told Dario, who told Boro and, a little reluctantly, passed it on to Merle and Junipa.

"A festival in honor of the Flowing Queen! Right around the corner! There'll be lanterns up everywhere and beer barrels tapped and wine corks popping!"

"Something for you children too?" Arcimboldo, who'd been listening, wore a sly smile as he spoke.

"We aren't children anymore!" flared Dario. Then, with a scornful sideways glance at Junipa, he added, "At least most of us."

Merle was about to leap to Junipa's defense, but it wasn't necessary. "If it's an expression of adulthood," Junipa said with unwonted pertness, "to pick your nose at night, scratch your behind, and do lots of other things, then you're of course very grown-up. Right, Dario?"

Dario turned scarlet at her words. But Merle stared at her friend in amazement. Had Junipa slipped into the boys' room at night and observed them? Or could she, thanks to her new mirror eyes, even see through walls? This thought made Merle feel uncomfortable.

Dario was swelling with indignation, but Arcimboldo settled the argument with a wave. "Settle down now, or none of you will go to the festival! On the other hand, if you've finished your jobs punctually by sundown tomorrow, I see no reason -- "

The rest of his words were lost in the cries of the apprentices. Even Junipa was beaming all over. It looked as though a shadow had lifted from her features.

"However, one thing you should all keep in mind," said the master. "The students from the weaving workshop will assuredly be there. I want no trouble. Bad enough that our canal has become a battlefield. I will not permit this quarrel to be carried elsewhere. We've already drawn enough attention to ourselves. So -- no insults, no fighting, not even a crooked look." His eyes singled out Dario from the other apprentices. "Understand?"

Dario took a deep breath and nodded hastily. The others hastened to murmur their agreement as well. Actually, Merle was grateful for Arcimboldo's words, for the last thing she wanted was a new scrap with the weaver boys. Junipa's wounds had been healing well over the last three days; she needed some peace now to heal completely.

"Now, then, all back to work," the master said, satisfied.

To Merle the time till the festival seemed endless. She was excited and could hardly wait to be among people again, not because she'd had enough of the workshop and its inhabitants -- Dario being the one exception -- but because she missed the untamed life in the streets, the chattering voices of the women and the transparent boastings of the men.

Copyright 2001 by Kai Meyer.  All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

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