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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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Print Excerpt

Finally the evening arrived, and they all left the house together. The boys ran ahead, while Merle and Junipa followed slowly. Arcimboldo had made a pair of glasses for Junipa with dark glass that was supposed to keep anyone from noticing her mirror eyes.

The small troop turned the corner where the Canal of the Expelled opened into the wider waterway. Even from afar they could see hundreds of lanterns on the house fronts, lights in the windows and doors. A small bridge, hardly more than a pedestrian crossing, linked their side to that place. Its railings were decorated with lanterns and candles, while the people sat on the sidewalks, some on stools and chairs they'd brought out of their houses, others on cushions or on the bare stone. In several places drinks were being sold, although Merle realized with a trace of malicious pleasure that Dario was sure to be disappointed: There was hardly any wine or beer, for this was a poor people's festival. No one here could afford to pay fantastic sums for grapes or barley, which had to be smuggled into the city by dangerous routes. After all these years, the Pharaoh's siege ring was just as tight as at the beginning of the war. Even though the siege was imperceptible in daily life, still no one doubted that hardly a mouse, not to mention a smugglers' boat, could sneak past the Egyptian army camps. One could certainly find wine -- as Arcimboldo did -- but it was usually difficult, even dangerous. The poor people drank water ordinarily, while at festivals they had to be content with juices and various home-distilled liquors of fruits and vegetables.

Up on the bridge, Merle saw the weaver's apprentice who'd been the first to lose his mask. There were two other boys with him. One's face was very red, as if he were sunburned; clearly it hadn't been easy for him to wash off the glue Merle had sprayed under his mask.

Their leader, Serafin, was nowhere to be seen. Merle realized with surprise that she'd involuntarily been watching for him and was almost disappointed not to see him.

Junipa, on the other hand, was a completely changed girl. She couldn't get over her amazement. She kept whispering to Merle, "See him over there?" and "Oh, look at her!" and giggling and laughing, occasionally so loudly that some people turned around and looked at them in surprise and were especially interested at the sight of her dark glasses. Only the rich dandies usually wore such things, and they rarely mixed with the common people. On the other hand, Junipa's worn dress left no doubt about the fact that she had never seen the inside of a palazzo.

The two girls stood at the left end of the bridge and sipped at their juice, which had been watered down too much. On the other side a fiddler was striking up a dance; soon a flute player joined in. The dresses of the young girls whirled like colored tops.

"You're so quiet," Junipa declared, not knowing where to look next. Merle had never seen her so animated. She was glad, for she'd been afraid all the hurly-burly might make Junipa anxious.

"You're looking for that boy." Junipa gave her a silvery look over the top of her glasses. "Serafin."

"Where'd you get that idea?"

"I was blind for thirteen years. I know people. When people know you don't see, they get careless. They mix up blindness with deafness. You just have to listen and they tell you everything about themselves."

"And what have I betrayed about myself?" Merle asked, frowning.

Junipa laughed. "I can see you now, and that's enough. You're looking in all directions all the time. And who could you be looking for except Serafin?"

"You're just imagining that."

"No, I'm not."

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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