CHAPTER EIGHT Continues ….
They reached a room to the back of the house. It had two walls like the other rooms seemed to and then two opposite benches with shelves boxed in beneath. Foods and crockery, glass wear and other things filled the shelves. And in one section porcelain basins for washing. On the closer bench there were large wooden platters filled with all manner of fruit and cheese and the promised cake; light enough to not feel.
Beside this kitchen room was a large dark area containing a large low table surrounded with cushions on the cool slate floor. Surprisingly sprightly for one seemingly ageless, Roulade lowered herself gracefully onto some cushions inviting Rhiannan to do the same. A maid, Rhiannan had not at first seen, stepped from the shadows and brought the platters to the table before them. She added a pitcher of juice and two crystal goblets.
The maid’s garment was similar to Roulade’s but heavier, stiffer and the exact same shade of their chocolate skin, the neckline was high yet the hem barely reached the woman’s ankles, with slits up the sides of the skirt for movement. A single black necklace and matching bangle adorned the woman other than a ring through each earlobe that held a black disk on one and two on the other. When her task was completed the maid slinked away.
‘I have had that slave three years. Each year on her day I hang another disk.’ Roulade explained pouring Rhiannan juice. ‘I mark all my women slaves’ years of service in the same way. Funicular is my oldest. She has fifty disks.’
Rhiannan stared at her hostess shocked by such a proud revelation.
‘The men have rings that I have put about their …’ she grinned then and dangled one finger before making it rise up. ‘Then they remember who commands them whenever they need reminding.’ She grinned like a mischievous child.
Rhiannan took some fruit and stared at the platter full before her. Slowly a smile grew across her astonished face.
‘Share your joke?’ Roulade asked sitting in another pose so she could watch Rhiannan more comfortably. ‘Whatever thought gave rise to that smile must be a good one.’
‘I am still coming to terms with the strangeness of this place. It is so unlike my home, so different to what is every day for me.’
‘So being the only woman amongst a hundred lonely men, on a large wooden boat crossing the biggest ocean is for you the every day?’
‘Well no. I mean the way I lived in London and back home in Scotland.’ She realised she now understood the differences making up the British countries even if no line divided them.
‘And what did you do there that is so different from here?’
Rhiannan looked to the almost invisible maid standing against the large wooden cupboard in the corner of the walls. ‘I worked making food, serving it and selling it.’
‘We have that here.’
‘But it is not the same. It is so very different.’
‘It is how our culture has created it, and your culture has created your everyday differently to ours. Here we are hot I dare say in your country you are cold. The layers of material you wear, the thickness of the clothes, your shoes, it tells me you are so cold to need such extra layers of warmth. Here we need only cover ourselves to ease our eyes from the beauty of our bodies. For if we were to go naked all the time there would be no work done for all the fornication that our beautiful bodies would entice.’ Roulade smiled at the red face of her new friend. ‘Or perhaps the men of your country will not leave you alone and so more clothing is required to stop them? If the men are like Michael Kent I can fully understand.’
She cackled again and Rhiannan added a gasp of astonishment to her flush of embarrassment.
‘I assure you madam I have no knowledge of why Michael Kent or any man would need multiple layers of clothing on a woman to keep them at bay.’
‘Well you are about to discover it.’ the older woman smiled and rose rather agilely from the cushions. Feeling compelled to accompany her Rhiannan also rose from her cushion and padded softly around the wall behind Roulade. ‘Ah Michael Kent you have returned.’
Rhiannan looked to see Michael walking before three other men; Gavin Fairchild, Maloney and between them Lord George.
‘Why, Patrick Maloney it has been a very long time.’
‘Madam Roulade, why I have stayed away so long has bewildered me.’ Maloney replied taking the woman’s hand and raising it to his lips as if she were a queen. ‘You grow more beautiful with every breath.’
‘And who is this?’ she asked of the two other men.
‘Gavin Fairchild is my new first mate.’ Michael introduced and Gavin gave Roulade a curt bow, one hand holding a musket the other a short thick rope tied to Lord George’s belt. Michael gave Gavin a nod and the mate removed the rope from Grey. ‘And Madame Roulade my I introduce Lord George Grey.’
‘Enchante Mademoiselle.’ Lord George greeted her stepping forward and taking her hand to kiss as Maloney had.
With her eyebrows crookedly cocked, Roulade watched the man perform. ‘Your description of him does him no justice.’ She told Michael which made him smile. ‘I feel you were far too modest.’
‘I assure you fair lady I strive for modesty.’ George bowed to her again and Michael coughed to cover his chortle.
‘I assure you sir; modesty will be the least of your achievements.’
To that Maloney barked out what started as a laugh and ended as a half choked sneeze.
But Roulade was smiling for an all together different reason. She was watching the silent exchange between Michael and Rhiannan.
He had not at first recognised Rhiannan, thinking her just one of Roulade’s ladies maids, common for the woman to have hovering about her in the evenings. But then he wondered where Rhiannan was and realised that the, at first assumed, maid had hair the colour of rich treacle. He was so accustomed to seeing Rhiannan’s hair pulled back in a bun that he didn’t realise it was her hair now freely curling to fill out the space about her head like a mane as Roulade’s had. And then that her skin was like golden buttermilk, and that he could see so much of it. And then he was looking at the slenderness of her beneath the sheath of a dress Roulade had obviously provided. And finally, peeping out beneath the hem, her bare toes. His eyes rose again to the swell of her breasts. He could not help but look at them, the buds pulling the material, and he felt the constraints of his trousers keenly.
Rhiannan had at first blushed with the embarrassment of him looking at her and then more so when he studied the length of her so intently. By the time he dragged his eyes back to her face she had become aware that she held a power over him that she had not understood before. There in his eyes was that burning desire but unlike the mischief Roulade provoked in them, there was a naked awed astonishment. He could not speak, his mouth dropped open in his bewilderment.
She smiled bashfully and looked away.
Her eyes fell on Maloney, who was frowning fit to murder, and beside him Gavin Fairchild who’s eyes told her that were she a meal to a starving man he would kill the man to consume her himself. His blatant hunger for her chilled her more than anything that had scared her in the past.
‘Come we drink.’ Roulade decided and led Rhiannan and the men towards the deck behind the pool.
A small bridge led over the pool’s depths to this sheltered deck. Here the hill seemed carved conveniently into a curved, half cave like, cliff beside what Rhiannan could see to be a gentle trickling and yet impressive waterfall into the pool. The overhang sheltered them with foliage hanging to blow fragrantly in the evening breeze and pockets to set small fires and long torch poles in. Thick furs were layered on the floor and on the large cushions that sat together in a curve before the cliff. Small low tables before them were in turn curved about an iron brazier currently blazing with a small dancing fire.
Roulade led the way with Rhiannan behind her. Noting that from behind the dresses were all the more seductive with their plunging backline, Michael stepped in behind Rhiannan cutting Gavin off with a look of murderous proportions himself. Gavin followed him, then Maloney shoved George onto the bridge before him. Roulade waited for them all to step off the bridge and her hands caught George’s head to draw him to her kiss.
‘Yes my pet you shall stay with me a while.’ Roulade hummed her eyes enslaving George. She took the centre cushion pulling George beside her and offering Michael the other side.
Michael had positioned himself as close as he could to Rhiannan without actually touching her. Once Roulade patted the cushion beside her, he reached out and slid his hands down Rhiannan’s arms to her hands, his mouth close to her ear, his nostrils filling with the scent of her hair.
As if dream like he sat beside Roulade and looked up to Rhiannan, still holding her hand.
‘My god you are so beautiful.’ He told her drawing her to him to be kissed.
It seemed only natural then to feed her. To place the morsels of food in her lips watching as they closed over them and his fingertips gently. She got into the game and fed him too, although not so gingerly. He acted dangerously having her kneeling up, holding out his food timidly, making him reach for it and giggling when he’d growl in frustration and then, when he managed to get it, growl like a wild animal.
She’d only once seen wild animals. They were in cages in Hyde Park in London; lions and bears, a giraffe and camels, and even an elephant that you could have a ride on. Her favourites though were the monkeys. Oh how she loved monkeys. They made her laugh at their antics and made her arms long to hug them.
Still thinking fondly of the monkeys she stroked the side of Michael’s face and received his smile up at her. ‘I do love you.’ She told him.
He sighed and surrounding her in his arms drew her down onto his lap to kiss her. ‘Thank you.’ He told her and she knew it was just the window to his full love and soul opening just for her.
Suddenly there was noise and movement and such music that Rhiannan Gavin and possibly lord George had never heard before. Roulade laughed in delight enjoying the spectacle that her servants were creating for her and her guests. Drums beat and the dancers wore next to no clothing, their dark bodies painted and on full display, gyrating and glistening in the firelight.
Michael knew Maloney was beside George and saw him sitting happily staring at the bodies before him. He was not prepared however to have Gavin beside Rhiannan. More than once he caught the man looking at her with hunger no man should look at any woman with, let alone the intended wife of his employer.
Then a woman landed in Maloney’s lap making him laugh but she took an exceptionally long time getting up and Maloney was happy not to assist. By the time she did he was fully focussed on her. A younger woman attempted the same with Gavin, drawing him up with her and drawing him into the dance that was becoming more and more erotic as the dancers became hotter.
☼ To be continued ….
For my NaNoWriMo challenge
One Part of a three part novel.
A spin off from my Daintree Daughter’s Book
Beware: this is a realistic Adult book & not a pretty tale like my poetry
It tells of the fight to become free and happy, with the leading characters first facing the trials of the ugly side of life, and the shackles of their pasts dragging at them as they carve their own standard of living. But in the mid 1800s it was normal for the children of the poor to see the activities of their parents – good & bad; generally they weren’t sheltered … that came in soon after when everyone wanted to live like the well to do did & hide or ignore the brutality of the ugly side of life.
Remember in Australia, Corporal Punishment was only outlawed 35 years ago! Child abuse is still being fought & wives could not testify against their husbands for anything including marital rape until recent times also.
So all that aside I hope you can enjoy the story! ☼