The Way of Muri

The Way of Muri by Ilya Boyashov Read Free Book Online

Book: The Way of Muri by Ilya Boyashov Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ilya Boyashov
and directly, knowing that the old man couldn’t hear him. ‘No, you old fool. I need my bowl, my blanket and my garden to rule over. There is no doubt in my mind that this particular miracle
    The cat rested his precious head carefully on his paws and stared into the darkness. Jacob eventually fell asleep, and his people also grew calm. They slept in cosmic silence, or so they thought; in fact the air here was permeated with voices – the usual incessant chatter of the spirit world. The elementals flew out of their hiding places and began chattering away like market traders as they discussed the refugees. Muri was not surprised when the local residents started gossiping about him, too, but it wasn’t long before their observations overstepped the mark.
    ‘So stubborn, so self-obsessed!’ chirruped the spirits. ‘So devious… He knows what he wants and he’s not going to let anyone stand in his way, the scoundrel! He’s going to carry on tricking that old man for as long as it suits him! Hey, you!’ they called, taunting the cat. ‘Aren’t you ashamed to let a human do all your legwork?’
    ‘Shut up, all of you!’ answered Muri, arching his spine threateningly. ‘What business is it of yours? No, I wouldn’t expect you to understand the importance of my bowl and my blanket.’
    He waved his paw, batting away the shrewd observers hovering beneath his nose, and closed his eyes. But with so much noise all around him, sleep was a long time coming.

    The following morning the Jews continued their journey, hurrying faithfully after their elderly leader. But still they did not find water. The children were now moaning incessantly. As soon as one grew tired of wailing and fell silent, several others would pick up where it had left off. The whining of these human children even began to get on the cat’s nerves, but still Jacob walked on, smoking and coughing at the head of their straggling human chain. He seemed determined to grant their wish and lead them all directly to paradise. Shiloh stuck closely to his side, as though he were under some kind of spell. Several times the boy’s angry father called him back to his family, but Shiloh just ignored him. He seemed to be the only one enjoying this interminable journey.
    When the sun had begun to bear down directly on the men’s and women’s shoulders and the heat had increased to the point where there was steam coming from their brows, another murmur of discontent arose. Baruch and his gang began exchanging comments, ostensibly between themselves, although everyone else could hear them perfectly well. The point they were making was that Abraham was right: they shouldn’t have tagged along after this blind old man.
    ‘The old fool has lost his marbles! But what did we expect? It’s our own fault for following a madman! We need to turn round and go back again, before it’s too late. This road will lead us nowhere. Look at the mountains – they’re getting steeper and more remote… There isn’t even any rubbish lying around!’
    Jacob had indeed dragged them all into the middle of nowhere. The sun was at its zenith. The plump women were throwing off their blouses and scarves, and the weight of all this discarded clothing fell on the men and the young lads. Yet again Shiloh was called back to his family, but the exuberant boy, walking with the help of a stick he had picked up along the way, seemed to have developed rather selective hearing.
    ‘Stop!’ Baruch yelled eventually. His friend spread his hands to stop the crowd. ‘Enough!’
    The young mutineers approached Jacob stealthily. He was waiting for them on a ledge with his pipe clamped between his teeth, spitting on the ground.
    ‘Get rid of that cat!’ the young men shouted at their leader. ‘We’ve left everything back there – our cats, our dogs, everything – but you’ve decided to bring one along for the ride. You’ve even started asking it for advice! Come on, tip it out of

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