“I don’t like that tunica,” Mutter said. “I can see your breechclout even when you’re standing still.”
“The winter tunica is too hot for work in this weather,” Gretchen replied “and Decennia hasn’t given me her tunica from last year yet.” Decennia was shooting up. She was up to Mutter’s chin now, and wearing a young woman’s tunica. Gretchen was nearly as tall as Mutter now, though, and this tunica had been Decennia’s as a girl. It was too short for Gretchen and too tight across her breasts.
But there was nothing for them to do. Mutter didn’t have a second tunica. They had no access to cloth, they even had to borrow a needle when either of them had a rip.
Being Decennia’s pet slave gave Gretchen many advantages. She would get the tunica when Decennia realized she would never wear it again. When Decennia could escape to play, she would demand that Gretchen play with her. That happened less often now; Decennia had many family responsibilities and participated in some social events of her age group. Then, Gretchen had to work. Even so, Gretchen enjoyed the last year more than the previous one. Octavian, Decennia’s older brother, had been a pest for years. The last year before he went away, he had taken to chasing Gretchen into corners and pawing her.
So, Decennia being with her mother, Gretchen was set to work scrubbing the floor of the atrium on her hands and knees. At least, they were at the summer residence. The house in Rome had an atrium four times as large. She was scrubbing busily when the Dominus passed through.
“Dominus,” she said. She moved aside, although she hadn’t really been in his way.
“Serva,” he replied. “Hmm.” A few minutes later, he was back with the head housekeeper. “I’m going to the western farm for a few weeks. I think they haven’t sufficient household slaves there for my visit. What would they be doing there without the family anyway? I’d like to take this one as well as my valet.”
“She’s not well trained, Dominus.”
“I’m certain that she will do.”
“As you say, Dominus. You leave at dawn tomorrow?” At the Dominus’s nod, she continued, “Gretchen, be ready to leave at dawn.”
“Decennia... “ Gretchen began.
“Decennia,” the Dominus decreed, “will have to get along without her playmate. She’s a woman now, and should be learning woman things.” He didn’t seem to know Gretchen’s name, but he did know her position.
When she told Mutter that she was being sent to the western farm, Mutter brought up escape again. “Your Latin is as good as Decennia’s. Away from places where you are known, nobody could tell that you are a slave.” Mutter never took into consideration that there were Italian slaves -- even though she knew some of them. Their Latin had not eased their escape. Not all blondes were German, and not quite all Germans were slaves, but any blonde who claimed to be free should be prepared to prove it. The argument went around the usual circle, and she never even got around to telling Mutter that she was going with the Dominus.
The chariot was crowded, with the Dominus, his secretary -- a Greek who considered himself superior to other slaves, especially Germans, his valet, and the driver as well as Gretchen. They jounced first south toward Rome, then in a circle, then west away from Rome to the farm. Some of the trip was on stone roads, but much of it was on rutted dirt tracks. It was nearly noon before they arrived; still, Gretchen couldn’t have walked the distance in anywhere near that time.
The house staff came out to meet their Dominus at the arrival, and Gretchen was turned over to the cook. After that woman had served the Dominus, she faced Gretchen.
“What is your name, girl, and what can you do?”
“My name is Gretchen.”
“I don’t know much about cooking. I’ve washed the dirt off vegetables and peeled them. One thing you should know.”
“I know all about cooking.”
“I’m close to my period. I think the jolting of the chariot might have brought it on.” Women who were bleeding were generally not used to prepare food. Mutter thought it a superstition, but Mutter had not learned much more than language in her time in Italy.
“Well, we don’t want you in the kitchen, then. Do you know anything about the garden?”
So Gretchen spent the next several days gardening. She ate with the kitchen slaves and slept in Phyllis’s room.
Phyllis remembered her from when she was a baby. “Dominus bought your mother because she was nursing you. When Domina delivered, he sent you here; and your mother nursed the baby. We put you on goat’s milk and mashed turnips. You had trouble at first, but you were stomping around and getting into everything before we sent you back. Dominus was pleased that you survived.”
“That was good of him.” He hadn’t seemed to notice her until the last week.
“It was to encourage your mother. Wet nurses can be careless. They have control of their charges, without anyone seeing how they act. If baby Decennia had died, so would you.”
“You’d have killed me?”
“Not me. Dominus would have sent a charioteer out here with a cord. He would have strangled you. It had happened before. Not all Domina’s babies have lived.”
When her bleeding stopped, Gretchen told Phyllis. The kitchen was hot, but it was better work than the garden.
Instead of teaching her how too cook or bake, however, Phyllis supervised her in packing a fancy basket of food and wine. Gretchen carried it after Dominus, who walked to a grassy plot in a grove of trees.
While she served him there, he began to caress her, especially her nipples where they were pressed against the tight tunica. She was reminded of his son’s groping. When she moved back, however, Dominus didn’t chase her.
“Serva,” he said instead. “Whose property are you?”
“Your property, Dominus.”
“Then I may do anything I want with you. May I not? I could have you killed on a whim.”
“Yes, Dominus.” She shivered, remembering Phyllis’s mention of the charioteer with a strangling cord.
“Don’t shiver. I was only giving you an example. I don’t want to slay you, but to give you pleasure. But enough of that. Food first. Bring me a raisin.”
She fed him raisins, putting them in his mouth one at a time. He ate all the raisins; but, when he had enough of the bread and cheese, he let her eat the rest.
“Thirsty?” he asked.
“Come here.” He sat up and patted the space in front of him. He gave her the cup which he had used during the meal.
“Pour yourself some wine and drink.” It was heady stuff, unwatered. When Gretchen and the other slaves drank, it was more water than wine. “Have more,” he said when she had finished the cup. His hands covered her breasts while she drank. She couldn’t escape; this was the Dominus, her owner. And, with the wine flowing through her, it started to feel good.
He told her to strip and to spread out her breechclout on the ground as a pad. After she had removed his tunica, he had her lie down with her hips on that pad. He knelt between her legs and kissed her breasts. Frightened as she was, that felt exciting. So did his hands on the lips between her legs. He stopped kissing her breasts and rose above her. She felt something else at her lower lips -- something that felt warmer than his hand had felt.
“Serva,” he said, “look me in the eye.” That was a violation of protocol, but she did so. “Watch my face, as I will be watching yours.” Then she felt a stabbing pain. She screamed. When she could see Dominus’s face again, he was smiling.
“Now you are mine in another way,” he said. “Relax. The worst part is over. Had not your mother told you anything?”
“About this? Nothing, Dominus.”
“Relax. The rest is pleasure.” The rest wasn’t pleasure, although he held her breasts in the way that she had enjoyed earlier. Neither was it the first searing pain. He moved back and forth above her, in and out of the space where her legs met. She felt as though she were being rubbed or scraped somewhere she had never felt before. Also, his weight pressed her into the ground. Finally, he grunted. He fell heavily upon her and lay there.
“You are a woman, now,” he said when he finally pushed himself off. She had been a woman since she first bled. But there was blood on her leg now -- blood out of season. Some of it had dripped onto her folded breechclout.
“Dress your Dominus before you dress yourself,” he said when she reached for the breechclout. His was off, as well.
She saw his genitals, the first she had seen of an adult man. There was blood on his phallus as well.
“That is your blood on me,” Dominus said when he saw her looking at his genitals. “That is the instrument that made you a woman. Look at it.” She looked. She could not wrap it in a breechclout without looking, anyway. After helping him on with his tunica, she dressed herself. She packed the remains of the meal and followed Dominus back to the farmhouse.
“Tell the cook I shall not need you until tomorrow,” he said. “She should find work for you until then.” Gretchen relayed the message. Phyllis put her to work preparing dinner. She did kitchen work all the next day until it was time to serve dinner to Dominus. As there were no other family members at the farm, he ate alone. Gretchen was told to serve his meal. He told her when she did something wrong, but he seemed in good humor even when correcting her.
“Well, Serva,” he said when he had finished eating, “you seem to be learning. You must have a name, what is it?”
“Gretchen? What sort of name is Gretchen?”
“A German name, Dominus.”
“A German name? Serva, Gretchen, are you always so literal?”
“Dominus?” She had not the least idea what she had done wrong -- or done right, for that matter. He seemed to be amused.
“Never mind. I like you literal. Have you eaten?”
“No, Dominus.” No slaves ate before the family left the table. “Something will be in the kitchen.” The cooks always ate well, much better than the other slaves.
“Anything I have left, you may eat before you bring it back to the kitchen. When it is fully dark, see me in my room.” She had served him a whole chicken; he had eaten not all that much more than half. She feasted on chicken until she was afraid of being sick. It was more fowl than she had eaten in the entire time since Lupercalia. Then she ate all the bread and turnips she wanted. When she brought the remains back to the kitchen, nobody complained about the amount left for the rest of them. It was still more chicken than the field hands would get this month.
At full dark, she found his room empty. She waited there until the Dominus came in. She removed his tunica and breechclout and put them where he directed. Then he told her to strip and pointed out the peg to hold her clothes.
“Next time you are here before me, wait for me naked. Now come to bed.” She did so, shivering in fear of the searing pain.
“I have told you, that pain comes but once. Lie still.” As she did so, he petted her. He began with her breasts, then suckled them while caressing between her legs. Whatever her fears, the sensations were exciting. When he rose above her, the fears returned; but his entrance was smooth and painless.
“Raise your knees more,” he said. When she did, he slid a little more deeply inside her. “Put your hands on my hips. When I come down on you, raise yourself against me. When I rise, you should sink down.” She tried to follow his directions. Following them became easier as she went along. She was beginning to feel real excitement when he grunted. She could feel him throbbing within her before he fell onto her again. She held him until he rolled off. “Sleep here tonight,” he said. “This is your place to sleep.”
In the morning, he gave her a new tunica. It had a bit of blue embroidery at the neckline. It fit comfortably across her breasts and fell nearly to her knees. On the other hand, it was sleeveless and the armholes were large enough to reveal the outsides of her breasts. The neckline was low enough to show the tops of the breasts, as well. It was so sheer that what of the breasts were covered could be glimpsed through the thin cloth. Dominus had a polished silver plate for a mirror, and he showed her herself in it. She thanked him sincerely. It was the first piece of new clothing she had ever worn.
Gretchen found that being the Dominus’s bed mate had some of the same advantages as being Decennia’s play mate. She had to serve him lunch and supper, be in his room when he returned to it. She was expected to work in the kitchen when he had no need of her services. But none of the other slaves dared ask whether their Dominus really had need of her. So she could eat her fill after serving him meals and even take a little rest before returning the dishes and the food remains to the kitchen. When she awaited him in his bedroom, nobody was authorized to tell her that she was too early. She might be on her feet, but she was not carrying anything -- nor wearing anything -- and was not obliged to mind any task. After the first day, Dominus ordered her to serve lunch and dinner in her new tunica but without her breechclout. He could see the hair on her mound through the cloth. So could the other house servants as she went to and fro, but none of them dared touch her -- none of the male servants even dared leer suggestively.
The second night, after she had waited naked for Dominus and removed his clothes as well, he stood petting her instead of going to bed. By the time he lay down, she was eager to join him. He kissed her breasts some more and sucked her nipples while stroking between her legs. When he finally entered her, she was quite excited. His strokes within her fanned the flames. Something was drawing tight within her. Then it broke.
“Ah!” she called out as her belly throbbed.
“Ugh!” he echoed her. This time, when he lay on her, she could hear him gasping in her ear. Surprisingly, she noticed that she was breathing just as hard. She was raising the considerable weight of his torso on each breath.
“That was it!” he said. “Did I not promise you pleasure?”
“You did, Dominus.” And, she realized, that surge she had felt had been quite pleasant. When he rolled off her body, she turned on her side to go to sleep. He cupped her breast in his hand and cuddled against her.