Many Waters by Madeleine L'engle

Many Waters by Madeleine L'engle

Author:Madeleine L'engle
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)


EIGHT

Oholibamah, Japheth’s wife

Mahlah and Tiglah were waiting near Grandfather Lamech’s ancient fig tree. Mahlah’s belly was softly rounded. Tiglah was round by nature, all soft curves and delicate plumpness that had not yet run to softness, as Anah’s was doing.

The twins came from the garden, where they had weeded two long rows of plants which might have been forebears of tomatoes, and pulled off the suckers. Higgaion was in the tent with Grandfather Lamech. The twins did not see Mahlah and Tiglah until the two girls came to meet them. Tiglah walked slowly toward Sandy. She tossed her head so that her red hair flew about her face. She lowered the heavy fringes of her lashes. “I’m sorry my father and brother didn’t treat you better when you appeared in our tent that time.” She paused, and added virtuously, “They have to be very careful that strange men don’t take advantage of me.” Then she stopped. “Am I speaking to the right one?”

“No,” Dennys said.

Mahlah fluttered her small hands like birds. Her dark hair concealed her swollen belly. “But which one of you was guest in my father’s tent?”

Sandy stepped forward. “My brother Dennys. You’re Yalith’s sister?”

“Yes. Mahlah. But I am Ugiel’s bride and no longer live in the home tent.”

Sandy looked at her, thinking that although Mahlah was beautiful, it was in an obvious way; she had none of the subtle loveliness he associated with Yalith. Tiglah’s flashy beauty was almost an assault. He still didn’t know what to make of her. “Tiglah?”

She giggled, so that dimples came and went on either side of her reddened lips. “Don’t you remember me?”

“You were talking to me the other day, before the griffin came.”

“Yes, and the silly griffin interrupted us. I think she was jealous. But she’s not here now. Would you like to come with us?” She turned from Sandy, to include Dennys in the invitation.

“Where?” Dennys asked suspiciously. His first encounter with Tiglah’s family had made him far more cautious than Sandy had cause to be. He did not trust her, nor, indeed, any of the small people who did not come from Noah’s tenthold.

Mahlah, unlike Tiglah, was not a giggler. She smiled. “We’d like to get to know you better. My father thinks the world of you. So let’s go for a little walk.”

Dennys looked at the sky, which was already beginning to shimmer with heat. “It’s too hot. Thank you, anyhow.”

Tiglah pushed her fingers through her curls, so that they glinted with gold in the sunlight. She, too, looked at the sky. “It’s not going to be really hot until the sun is above the palm trees.” She turned her dimpled smile toward Sandy. “We’d really love to show you around a little. You haven’t seen much of the oasis.”

Sandy stepped forward. He had not enjoyed his brief excursions onto the public path, but if Tiglah and Mahlah were there to show them where to go, it might be fun. It was time to go farther than Grandfather Lamech’s compound and the nearby shops.



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