The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

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The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho
Translated by Alan R. Clarke.
Published 1992. ISBN 0-7225-3293-8.

The boy's name was Santiago. Dusk
was falling as the boy arrived with his
herd at an abandoned church. The roof
had fallen in long ago, and an
enormous sycamore had grown on the
spot where the sacristy had once stood.
He decided to spend the night there. He
saw to it that all the sheep entered
through the ruined gate, and then laid
some planks across it to prevent the
flock from wandering away during the
night. There were no wolves in the
region, but once an animal had strayed
during the night, and the boy had had to

spend the entire next day searching for
He swept the floor with his jacket and
lay down, using the book he had just
finished reading as a pillow. He told
himself that he would have to start
reading thicker books: they lasted
longer, and made more comfortable
It was still dark when he awoke, and,
looking up, he could see the stars
through the half-destroyed roof.
I wanted to sleep a little longer, he
thought. He had had the same dream
that night as a week ago, and once
again he had awakened before it ended.

He arose and, taking up his crook,
began to awaken the sheep that still
slept. He had noticed that, as soon as he
awoke, most of his animals also began
to stir. It was as if some mysterious
energy bound his life to that of the
sheep, with whom he had spent the past
two years, leading them through the
countryside in search of food and
water. "They are so used to me that
they know my schedule," he muttered.
Thinking about that for a moment, he
realized that it could be the other way
around: that it was he who had become
accustomed to their schedule.
But there were certain of them who
took a bit longer to awaken. The boy

prodded them, one by one, with his
crook, calling each by name. He had
always believed that the sheep were
able to understand what he said. So
there were times when he read them
parts of his books that had made an
impression on him, or when he would
tell them of the loneliness or the
happiness of a shepherd in the fields.
Sometimes he would comment to them
on the things he had seen in the
villages they passed.
But for the past few days he had spoken
to them about only one thing: the girl,
the daughter of a merchant who lived
in the village they would reach in about
four days. He had been to the village

only once, the year before. The
merchant was the proprietor of a dry
goods shop, and he always demande...
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