I stood before the master and his guest while they ate, my head bowed. I waited for them to allow me to speak, or if they didn’t, then I would beg for forgiveness when I blurt out what I had to say. When they got to the main course the lord looked up at me.
“How much do you think she is worth?” The lord asked.
“To you? Very much. Why else would you have come to a lord’s house to buy one slave?” The master knew what he was talking about. He lived to make money.
“I came here because I needed someone who was hard-working. Someone who isn’t straight off the slave-cart. I need a good, clean girl with a pretty face.” The honored guest responded.
“Hah! What do you want a pretty face for? You can get the slaves cleaned up in the river and they’ll be hard-working if ya feed them!” The master said mouth still full, drinking another glass of wine.
“Why do you only have women slaves? Everyone wants a pretty face to look at.” The lord countered.
I stared at the fraying leather ties on my sandals. “What are you offering?” The master leaned forward on the table.
“Three hundred silver. Enough to buy slaves to replace her ten times over, and extra, to thank you for your hospitality.” The master almost bugged his eyes out. A chest was carried into the room and opened.
“All this for one slave?” He asked. He looked at the lord, curious.
“As I said, it’s to thank you for your hospitality. A gift, as well as payment for the girl.” I looked at the lord-guest, staring at him right in the eye, pleading him to let me speak.
“Girl, he’s right. It is a lot for one slave. I’ll take one more. Is there a slave friend you would like to bring with you, girl?” It was as if he read my mind. I nodded.
The master just waved it off, “Sure, sure, let her take her friend.” I tried to hide my smile when I lowered my head again.
“Go get your friend and things ready. We leave at dawn.” I nodded, and left to tell Salia the news. At least we would be together, wherever we were going.
A few minutes before dawn, Salia and I had put away out beds, trying to creep around the crowded room unnoticed. We gathered the few items we had in cloths and carried them in one hand. Tabia met us in the courtyard, trying to hold back her tears.
“Be good now. Don’t get into trouble. And you,” She pointed at me, “remember the recipe for Mulukhiyah.” She gave me a spine breaking hug, and then Salia.
“I will.” I said.
“Goodbye, Tabia,” Salia wiped a tear and kissed Tabia’s cheek. Tabia handed her a cloth with breakfast for the road and stomped off, shaking her head.
Our new master had two horses ready to go in a matter of minutes. Neither of us had ridden before though, so his man rode with Salia, and I rode with our new master.
“Master, forgive me for speaking out of term, but why do you only have one guard? As a lord, shouldn’t you have come with more… and be carried?” I asked.
“I will introduce myself more formally when we arrive, but in my house you are only carried if you cannot walk. I also only need one man because he is a very good fighter. Unlike Lord Grisar, I can fight as well.” I nibbled on my bread and pondered. I had thought all lords and masters were like Lord Grisar. Perhaps each one has his own ways, just like each one treats his slaves differently?