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Short Story - The Magic Carpet

Short Story - The Magic Carpet

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Published by HarktheDark
A fair moved into the village,..., trouble erupts,...a tale of magic and wonder.....
A fair moved into the village,..., trouble erupts,...a tale of magic and wonder.....

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Published by: HarktheDark on Oct 10, 2008
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10/19/2011

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The Magic Carpet
A Short StoryWhen Lata first heard of the village fair which had come to their little village of Aipotushe felt that she should visit it—for what she heard from the Farm-Boy was that therewere flying horses, there were inextinguishable candles, and an Old man who sat alwayswith his legs crossed.In the morning, down by the river where boats floated across the dusty waters Lataglimpsed the red, yellow bright dome of the fair behind the huge bamboo poles. Therewere tall masts with small red, blue, yellow flags fluttering atop.Behind her she heard stamp of hooves, and turning behind she noticed a strange creaturethat sat near the banks, it looked like a man with a horse’s body. It reminded her of Father Bentick who said that these half-human-half-horse existed in the land of SnowMountains. As she watched the man-faced horse bend down and drink the muddy water from the river she cried out:“Stranger do not drink that water,” she called out. “It is very dirty.”“I am a Centaur,” the thing gruffed unpleasantly.“You still have long ears,” she giggled, “like a horse’s ears.”Those eyes glared for a second at her, his head turned away from her and faced the river.The Centaur spoke with magnanimity: “ I am a Centaur.” There were many more thingsthat Lata wanted to ask the Centaur, the strange thing before her but the golden shoehoofs cut through the air like a sword, and the Centaur flew away after satisfying histhirst. Lata returned home wondering about the strange thing and she told the Farm-Boywho led her in the evening to the fair. Kerosene lamps hissed nosily. Flies buzzed. Amidthe huge tent, huge flies buzzed and flapped their wings. A man sat over his handssporting a gray white beard. It was the bees that Lata liked there-they sat on high stools,with jars of honey in front of them. With spiny legs they gulped jarfuls of honey andlicked their mouths dry like a dog.Across in the corner, where the crowds were thin sat an Old hag. She was very old. Her white hair flew like a witch, and most of her teeth were missing.“Come young lady, tell your fortune here. Who weds thee, see, this crystal ball showseverything.”Lata paid the two farthings, and looked deeper into the crystal ball as the Old haginstructed. The ball glowed shiny, full of milky light like a full moon.“Do you see him?”, the Old hag asked.“No.”
 
“See harder, that man there will be your husband.”But Lata saw nothing. The Old hag refused to pay back two farthings. The Farm-Boycomplained, grumbled, but the Old hag whistled loudly, and some of the bees assembledthere, threw the far-boy out, catching him by his shirt and carried him in the air, andthrew him on the ground. The Farm-Boy landed with a loud thud, wincing in pain. Latahad tears in her eyes that she hurt the Farm-Boy ;later they secretly slipped back to thefair on the second day because the news of the wondorous fair had spread far and wide,such that there were strange people from neighboring villages.Marco sold magic carpets. His shop was the center of attraction. People thronged, foughtin the lines lest the fair close down. Since a magic carpet cost two pieces in gold—noneof the farmers could afford it except the ride which cost a farthing. Hoping to try the ridein dark skies , to watch the stars from nearer, Lata spent the money—two farthings, onefor the Farm-Boy and for her.The Farm-Boy joked that if he fought with someone from the fair; then, the bees wouldcarry him in the skies and throw him down. He smiled and Lata felt that to save moneyhe might do some mischief like setting fire to one of the tents. She forbade him, abjectly.When the time for her ride had come Marco closed shop, shouting at everyone to cometomorrow. A few insouciant rascals from the other village shouted at him, teased him andmet the same fate like the Farm-Boy at the bee’s hands. Lata returned dejected,discussing with the Farm-Boy how mother would be angry fro they were returning late.The Farm-Boy meanwhile, exasperated at walking back home, asked an Old Centaur todrop them home, for half-a-farthing, which the Old Centaur gladly did. They landed atopthe terrace of the garret when Lata’s mother appeared she saw Lata knitting a daisyflower and knew her daughter had bee back from the fair long back. Somehow theincidents took a curious turn when Lata went to the village pond to get water. Therestanding under a tree, the Centaur stood along with the Old Centaur. Promising him moremoney in the evening for a ride; but, the Old Centaur gruffed and commanded theyounger Centaur to take Lata t o the River’s other side. The friendship between Lata andthe Centaur grew in leaps and bounds, like the heat of summer; everyday after the fair,Lata slipped without her mother’s knowledge with the Centaur who’d take her to places —to the garden of Prosperine, to Mesoah seas where Ayela Witch brewed stew in huge pots for angels and Centaurs. Once when they were in the Mesoah sea islands( humanswere prohibited) Lata brushed the coarse hair on his broad face and asked the Centaur whether he felt that, to which he replied: “ I can feel it. I’m also human.”The Assam Flower Lata liked best, but the Centaur spoke that to pluck the flowers wasstrictly prohibited; only when Lata insisted did he cross the swamp and bring the flower for her. For a week afterwards she kept the flower in her room—“Such a sweet scent,”her mother remarked observing casually.It happened with the nearby neighboring butcher Romope catching sight of Lata as sheflew on the Centaur’s back and landed on the terrace. In the moonlight Romope rubbedhis sleepy eyes; he was it was Lata. Before long his eyes wandered to the pair of goldshoes that shone brighter than stars in the moonclad night; after one week Lata and theCentaur spent more time in the garden of Prosperine. The Centaur too liked her touch.Liked the way she brushed his hair. Beside the countless flowers and chattering animals,under the stars they sat: alone and watched each others beauty, and the Centaur knew
 
that he needed to consult the Old Centaur for he was certain he was in love with theyoung maiden.She never disproved him. He praised her eyes, and spoke of the distant lands, the fair maidens, the wondorous sights, across the continents, in a moment a desert, and snowmountains the next—yet he swore that his eyes had never laid sight on a more beautifulmaiden than Lata.“Will you come tonight?” she asked. “Because my mother will be asleep, and I havecooked you dinner. Crabs and fish, and filled with spices. I saved some in my room.”“Yes,” the Centaur smiled.“But tell me, really, I am tired of calling you a Centaur. And there are so many Centaurs. Iwas scared at first, lest you take offense, but, please tell me what is your name.”“Centaurs don’t have names,” he said silently.“Still,” Lata said looking disappointed. “They must call you by some name.”“Centaurs don’t have names,” he said like a parrot. “But remember my dear, I am humanalso. It is prohibited for us to have names; for Ayela Witch prohibits us. They call me, atleast unknown to Ayela Witch as Achmet.”Together they flew across the Meosis sea, and planned to see the red domes of Moskva.Finally when it neared Midnight did Ayela realize that she should be back home; swiftlythey flew back, and to the terrace. Lata lit a small kerosene lamp. She stood surprised. Inthe corner of the room, the butcher stood, his face lit up in a sly grin. To her utter dismayshe saw her mother standing beside the door, crying. Not knowing what to do, confused,Lata ran back to the terrace. She was shocked, for three men stood as if appeared fromnowhere, and in a huge net lay the Centaur. Finally it dawned on her that the butcher looked at the shoes of the Centaur. In the morning, when Lata awoke she found herself ina small room;. The narrow door was locked. There was no way out. She cried for her mother. She pleaded with her over lunch, asking the well-being of the Centaur; her mother insouciantly replied that the butcher had taken care of the Centaur for good. Asthe door shut, and was bolted outside Lata knew with a fading hope, that she’d never seeAchmet alive again. She crossed herself, and resigned to her fate; she tried to pry openthe windows with bare hands but the wooden bars held strong.Escape seemed impossible, and after the sun faded Lata sat on the bed-side tearsstreaming down her cheeks.It started like a low voice, a knock on the door, more like a scratching as if a cat pawedon the doorfront; but when the voice spoke Lata instantly recognized the Farm-Boy’svoice. She asked him to open the door. He replied that her mother had locked the door.When asked about Achmet he replied that he hadn’t seen or heard from him. That her mother was at the butcher’s shop, and Lata knew Achmet was imprisoned in theButcher’s shop. Quick, she said, run to the fair and tell the Old Centaur. Tell him thatAchmet is trapped for his gold shoes. The Farm-Boy nodded his head in affirmative, andLata heard retreating footsteps. There was a huge commotion outside, but, through thewindow Lata glimpsed nothing for it was very dark. She supposed that either the Bees or 

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