Gift

ravenest

Okay ... just making sure :) its 2:32 am at the moment and I have an early appointment

But I will do more soon ... and yes that could a page from the book .. amazing stuff ... more later
 

ravenest

The bandits took Fatima back to their secret camp inside a rocky ravine with a small spring and asked her who she was. "I am Fatima the Rope-maker from Abarzeen " she told them. Realising she was worthless as a ransom; they decided she looked strong and agile and would make a fine child-slave and told her so.

"But we have no use for a rope maker, there is no plant here to make rope from, besides, if we need rope we take it from a caravan" they told her. So instead they put her to work making spears, because they used up a lot of them ... more than they could get from the caravans.

They had to show her how to make the spears though; how to find the right pieces of wood, to dry, shape them and straighten them in the fire and finish them ... except for the spearheads of course, she wasn't allowed to touch them , only the men were allowed to touch those. In return she got food and water and somewhere to sleep. "Don't try to run away." they warned her and took her up to the top of a rocky peak where she was shown the surrounding dry and hostile terrain, "You would have to steal a camel to cross that," the old bandit woman told her that had led her up to the peak, "And the men could easily catch you on theirs ... they would hunt you down for sport and then bring you back here and punish you."

She left Fatima alone up one the rocks and walked off down the track. So Fatima prayed to God.

"Oh God! Why did you allow this to happen? Haven't I been good? I had a dream, but I was obedient to my parents and worked hard. I became a good rope maker, even though at first I didn't want to do it. I bought prosperity and success to my family and those around us. We gave out alms. Yet just when I started to find happiness this had to happen. Now I do not know what to do.

But what she did do was go back down the hill because she got hungry and thirsty. She was put to work immediately.

After some time she realised that it wasn't actually that hard a job ... she had understood quickly and distracted herself with the task. It wasn't that unpleasant, walking amongst the canyons and rocks, through little oasis of sand, the unusual dessert plants and collecting the branches of shrubs for both firewood and spears. Sometimes the other woman who came with her (who would rarely speak to her) would dig up long roots of shrubs and use those to make spear shafts as well.

Otherwise she was treated well, fed and respected ... they were a strange mix this small bandit tribe, they were, obviously, bandits but also, in their own ways, religious and just.

After some time she became quite good at making spear shafts. The ones she made seemed to last longer and be stronger. She became popular and now, although the other women started showing her the face of jealousy, at least they talked more to her. And the men did too.

After a while, when the men would come back from a raid they would laugh at her and say "Your spear did well today!” and throw her a gift. At first she refused the gift and would not pick it up. "That is stolen." she would say. The women would laugh at her and snatch it up. But once there was this absolutely beautiful bracelet of turquoise and silver, it had little chains attached to it holding tiny golden pomegranates and....

After some time Fatima had some nice things and was getting some of the best food as well. One of the men even scolded a woman who was being unpleasant to her and now all the women seemed more pleasant.

Then once she found herself upon the high peak again and she remembered her earlier prayer. She looked at her clothes and her jewellery and the newly acquired bejewelled dagger stuck in her belt. So she said another prayer, “Oh Lord, what am I but a victim of fate, but perhaps you have yourself granted me kindness and this is indeed my fate for whatever you have bestown upon me, all must be your will. I did not wilfully choose any off this but here I am. What else can I do but live it out? And in accepting my fate I realise that I am now accustom to it. It is a pleasant enough life for me for I love to be in the dessert. But this is not my dream … if I were to be so bold I would ask what has become of my dream … a beautiful horse to ride through the dessert, a treasure to find and bring prosperity to my village and a handsome prince to marry? “

She waited but heard no answer and saw no sign. So she went back down the rock slope into the camp.

On the way there she passed a group of men joking and jostling each other, one of them was the bandit chieftain’s idiot son; the large simpleton. The men were pushing him and saying “Here comes Atuk’s new wife … it’s Fatima the spear maker!” and laughed.

“What! What are you talking about?” she cried. One of the men offered, “Atuk likes you Fatima-the- spear-maker,”

“What for, I don’t like him, he is an idiot! And besides I am not Fatima the spear maker I am Fatima the rope maker from Abarzeen! And I would never marry him! And I don’t want to marry anybody.”

“Oh no? “The man loomed menacingly closer; he grabbed her wrist and held her bracelet in her face. “You think all this is for free? An idiot he may be but he is the Chiefs son and YOU will do what you are told Fatima-the-spear-maker-from-Bandit’s-Canyon!”

She broke loose and ran off from the men crying towards the camp and the men called out night jackal howls after her.
 

celticnoodle

thank you for the continuation, ravenest. I'm sure there is yet more coming and I can't wait to read more! :)
 

emmsma

I'm so glad I clicked into this thread. I'm thoroughly enjoying Fatima's tale. Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.
 

ravenest

She went to talk to old Habiya ... she seemed the friendliest of the lot. She told her to accept her fate ... play along with it ... it will all take time to play out ... "You do realise you have grown to become an attractive and very desirable young woman during your time with us ? Why not play it out ... there is a dowry involved you know ... if you play it out and say you agree and then hold out for a good dowry ... and after all, dolt or not he IS the Chieftain’s son ... think of the prestige!"

"Prestige ? In a small tribe of desert bandits? Oh Habiya, I couldn't? "

“Oh I am sure you can work it out, you’re a smart girl ... there could be a beautiful horse in it for you, you know?”

"A horse, you say?!”

Months later Fatima was called to the Chieftain’s tent, she swaggered in wearing her best clothes and jewels. The Chief was sitting at his table frowning, his son beside him drooling. The Chief pointed to the contract on the table “An Arab stallion! You realize how ridiculous this is?"

Fatima pouted and slanted her hips to one side; she squinted her almond eyes and placed her hand on her dagger's hilt. "Don't you think I am worth that?" She winked at the son and he drooled more. "Besides" she said to the Chief " someone like you can just ride off and take one from whoever you want ... my father-in -law would have to be capable of that ... otherwise I wouldn't consider marrying into the family! " She turned and walked off in a huff.

Some more months past until one day the men came back from a raid whooping and yelling and leading a White Arab stallion. The tribe gathered around. The Chief called out from upon his camel " Well Fatima the spear maker, what do you think of him?"

"I shall inspect him tomorrow , I am sure he is satisfactory, then I assume later that day the marriage celebrations shall begin." Fatima walked off, the women in the crowd laughed and Atuk was carried off on the shoulders of some men who were seeking advancement.
 

Padma

Fascinating story! I can't wait to see what happens next! Thanks for this, Ravenest :heart:
 

ravenest

tarotforum said:
Your submission could not be processed because a security token was missing.
If this occurred unexpectedly, please inform the administrator and describe the action you performed before you received this error.

I wrote a post as usual and then pressed preview post – circle goes round and round ‘computer says no’ . ???

Sometimes this fault really annoys me … if I hadn’t been working copying as I went in a separate MS word doc, this story would be finished.

Le’s see if I can copy and post the word doc in a fresh post box.
 

ravenest

The whole bandit tribe was gathered around and the camp was set up for a big celebration. Atuk was standing there grinning stupidly next to his father and the Arab stallion.

Fatima entered looking resplendent and walked up to the Chief, Atuk came forward to take her hand but she avoided him. "I haven't inspected my dowry yet." She told him and went to the horse. She examined him closely, allowed him to smell her, kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear. The Chief was getting impatient so she said "He looks like a fine, strong and beautiful horse, you have done well ... I will accept him!"

A cheer went up from the crowd and Fatima smiled but then she looked through the pass to the dessert beyond and squinted "Is that the Sultan's army approaching in that far cloud of dust?"

Everyone whirled in panic to see, quick as a flash Fatima grabbed up a blanket role, waterskin and food parcel 'someone' had left lying about nearby, leaped up onto the horse, wheeled it around so its rear faced Atuk and called out "My horses rear is more attractive than you!" And galloped full speed out of the pass and into the dessert. The tribe looked stunned after her, the Chief called out "After her you fools! She is trying to escape!"

The men raced to their camels and mounted them but someone had tied their reigns together, when they got that sorted out and mounted them some of the straps had been cut through and the men fell of, the camels reared and crashed into each other. Eventually they sorted the melee out mounted and raced after her.

High up on the rocks sat Habiya looking out over the dessert, her broken toothed mouth in a grin, she saw Fatima racing across the sand on the stallion and behind her a galloping band of camel riding bandits.

"Go girl!" she called out "Go like the Simoom!”
 

Padma

Oh goodness, I hope she gets clear away! :bugeyed: what a daring escape! Good on her!