Elyria stared at the girls with her mouth hanging opening, until they reached out to her in unison and wiggle their fingers at her, becoming her to them. Elyria did not move but she did not need to. The slaves carrying the girls moved to her, one on her left and one on her right. The girls wrapped their thin arms around her, their skin sliding over her like a soft breeze. The blond girl placed a hand on either side of Elyria’s face and gently brushed her full lips against Elyria’s mouth. She turned Elyria’s face to the brown curled girl who was her twin in every way but hair color. With the blond still holding Elyria’s head in her hands, the brown hair girl covered her sister’s hands and then she kissed Elyria. Her kiss was moist, with her lips parted. When she pulled back, she licked her own lips. Both girls smiled at Elyria while they stroked her cheeks and shoulders.
“You are already close friends,” said Lady Pricilla. “Come, my sweets.” Lady Pricilla led the way to the opening of the large tent. “We will bathe and dine and relax and Elyria will have the opportunity to get to know Rosalba and Rosalin.”
Lady Pricilla paused before the entrance to the pavilion. Two female slaves rushed forward and held back the flaps. She entered the tent. Her hand appeared at the tent entrance and Elyria was pushed forward to take Lady Pricilla’s hand. Elyria was drawn into a space lit in pale pink light. Oil lamps in pink glass jars flickered from tables dressed in silks in rainbow colors. The ground was covered with carpets so thick, Elyria’s feet left prints as if she were walking in grass covered in morning dew. A small cooper pot sat on a brazier with sweet steam drifting into the air. Elyria recognized apples and oranges and roses, but heavier, earthier scents were mixed in. The roof of the tent was held up by two poles and between them in the center of the tent was a large pallet that looked like a white cloud topped with pillows in jeweled reds and blues and greens. A sheer net in pale pink draped over the bed making a tent within the tent.
The two girls, Rosalba and Rosalin, (Elyria wasn’t sure which was which) were laid on the bed with great care. They sank into the pillows and arranged themselves into a pretty picture while the slaves propped up pillows behind them so they would not need to strain to sit up.
Off to the right of the bed was a large copper tub the size of a small lake. It was still being filled by slaves bringing in large buckets of hot water. Lady Pricilla went to the tub to check the temperature of the water. A girl no more than ten years old carrying a bucket of hot water to big and heavy for her size, stumbled, sloshing some water on the carpet near Lady Pricilla. Lady Pricilla back-handed the girl across the face leaving a large red welt on the girl’s left cheek. Her cheek began to bleed where it was cut by one of Lady Pricilla’s rings. The girl never shed a tear or spilled another drop of water. Rosalba and Rosalin giggled from their cozy perch. Lady Pricilla rinsed her hand off in the tub water.
“I should have you empty and refill the tub,” said Lady Pricilla to the girl. “But as we are all tired I will punish you later in some other way.” The girl stared at her feet, still holding the full bucket of water. “Go get another bucket of water for this one. It’s cold.” Lady Pricilla turned from the girl to sit in an armed chair cushioned with pillows. A stool was brought, her feet were raised, her shoes removed and her naked feet placed on the stool while a glass goblet was placed in her hand. She drank the contents in one breath and handed the glass back for more. It was taken and filled and brought back to her. She gestured in Elyria’s direction with her free hand.
A different young girl and an older woman approached Elyria. They guided her to a stool next to a table. The older woman handed Elyria a full goblet. Elyria sniffed at it and took a sip. She placed the glass on the table. The girl was removing Elyria’s shoes. The older woman picked up the glass of wine and handed it back to Elyria. While standing behind Elyria to pull all of her hair back, the woman leaned close to her and whispered in Elyria’s ear.
“Drink all of that wine and quickly,” she said. “You will need it very soon.”