Chapter 31: Return to Kasre El Nouza
Sapphira returns from her adventurous travels. Much has happened: A new slave girl has been acquired, Sheik Ali's brother dies and his three concubines find safe haven with Ali, and Sapphira is asked to lead the entourage back to Makram while Sheik Ali attends to the settlement of his brothers estate.
RETURN TO KASRE EL NOUZHA
The captain of the guard emerged from a small door set into one corner of the massive main gates, rifle in hand, to investigate this motley bunch of bruised, tired, and dusty travelers who had unexpectedly arrived from the desert. He took one brief look, and then fired a startling shot into the air, and dark heads and burnished gun barrels quickly dotted the high rampart walls.
He looked for the man in charge and was surprised when I instead thrust Ali’s letter before him. Hardly giving him time to read the letter, I issued my orders: swing open the gates, tether and water the horses, help set up camp for the hirelings, re-provision them, find Yasmeen and Mustafa and bring them here. He protested that Yasmeen was not allowed to leave the harem courtyard except in the company of Ali. I fingered the seal necklace about my neck and reminded him to read the first lines of the letter again, and then to bring Yasmeen. He reluctantly obeyed.
The confusing scene before them—horses and carts everywhere, tents being erected, and strange men milling about—took Yasmeen and Mustafa by surprise. Sitting high on my horse, with a manner of importance about me, I told the captain to read aloud Ali’s letter to them. Then I kindly asked Yasmeen to take the three women and Topaz under her care, and a miffed Mustafa to organize beds for them, and then unload and sort their belongings.
A payment table was set up. I piled the copper and silver coins Ali had brought back from the races in rows by denomination. An eager queue formed. Working from the list of agreed payments, I paid them off, adding two extra silver coins to all—Ali later said I was too generous, a sign of weakness. In the most stern and commanding voice I could muster, I instructed them to give the extra coins to their wives or mothers for them to buy something for themselves. And if I found out that this did not happen and they kept the extra for themselves, they would have to answer to Ali, who would carry out my most severe instructions. I was confident that they would not test my determination. They had no way of knowing that I was his slave.
When I returned to the harem courtyard, all four women were in the bath, grateful to relieve their aches and pains. I noticed red marks and bruises from sitting and bouncing on the carts. The two servants were waiting nearby, ready to apply soothing emollients and balms. After soaping and rinsing off, I joined the others in the water, happy to find relief for my own saddle soreness. Although I had ridden horses for pleasure on numerous occasions, three days in the saddle with the saddle-skirt against my thighs was too much for me. I would be stiff, sore, and aching for days to come, preferring to stand up rather than sit down.
Ali returned quietly at night five days later—earlier than expected—and we were surprised and pleased to see him the next morning.
He spent most afternoons with a visiting cleric. Previously, these were hours he had often spent with one of us in our room, now he read from the Qur’an, receiving instruction and taking time for prayers.
On a few occasions, I walked with him quietly, hand in hand. He took me out of the harem courtyard, through the great hall, and into the surrounding gardens—they were beautiful. He had never before walked hand in hand with a woman in an affectionate way. It was a simple affection, yet something new and comforting I had shown him.
For twenty-nine days he was in mourning and celibate, and quiet in his manner.
Yesterday, the official mourning ended. There had been much discussion amongst his irreverent girls about his return to the carnal world. Who would be the one lucky enough to relieve him of his pent up passion and seed?
Ali had informed me earlier in the day that he had chosen me to be his companion that night, a commitment the other girls were unaware of as they preened and glossed themselves. This was a welcomed opportunity to nurture further a place in his affections, and when I learned that I would be alone with him, thrill and excitement grew within me. I readied myself thoroughly and carefully, for I was eager to lie in his arms again and lose myself in his eyes.
I had planned in my mind how the evening in his bedchamber would unfold. I would dance close to him, and curve myself into him to let him taste and breathe the sweet smelling ylang-ylang I would spread in secret places. Purposely, I would spill something down my front and go into the bath to wash it off. He would follow. Our hands would disturb each other, and he would dry me off and carry me to bed. There I would lay on my back with a pillow under my hips to raise myself to him, to let him know clearly how I wanted to give myself to him.
Mustafa swung open the heavy doors to the bedchamber. I stepped forward, disrobed down to my night garments, and dropped to my knees, crawled around the screen and started down the carpet towards the kneeling mat. Behind me, the doors thudded shut.
“Stop there, Sapphira. Stand up,” Ali commanded.
Something was different, slightly unsettling.
“Come, walk to me.”
With hands behind my back and breasts thrust forward, I obeyed his command. Although confident and buoyed by his calling, I was somewhat nervous. I cast my eyes downward, and walked toward him beguilingly, faintly emphasizing the swing of my hips. I silently counted my steps and as his feet came into view, I dropped to my knees and prostrated myself before him.
“Stand up,” he ordered, again, “and come with me.”
He took my hand in his and we walked to the carpet, arranged cushions to our liking, and made ourselves comfortable. He poured me a large goblet of wine saying that I looked pale and in need of wine to ward off oncoming illnesses, while he drew sweet smelling smoke from the hookah.
“Barry, the Englishman, gave me this bottle of wine for you. It’s Algerian. A little rough,” he said.
I smiled at his borrowed knowledge and thanked him.
“It was too heavy for him to take back with him; that is why he gave it to you.”
I accepted this explanation outwardly, but noted another with inward pleasure.
“From now on,” Ali continued, “when you enter my bedchamber, you will walk to me, and you will enter the bed from the side, no longer from the foot end in the manner of a slave—but only when we are alone. If you are with another girl, except Yasmeen, you will remember the old traditions and come to me on hands and knees as before.”
“Yes, Sire,” I replied, knowing well that “Master” was the right word to use in the bedchamber.
“Yes, Sapphira, you may also call me Sire,” he said through a sigh, looking at me with eyes that told me he was aware of my discreet audacity and found it amusing. “You and Yasmeen are the only girls given these privileges,” he added.
“These may be small gestures on his behalf,” I thought, nevertheless, they were ones I enormously appreciated. I was elated by these small things.
Ali thanked me for all I had done to help him through these last difficult weeks. “I hear you were particularly hard on the captain of the palace guard—he was complaining about having to take orders from a woman. Tomorrow I will send for him and we will reconcile over tea. However, you have managed everything so well there is no need for me to do anything further,” he claimed.
Formalities were soon over. He was “tenting” his caftan; urgently ready. I stood up to start my planned dance of seduction, but he stood up too, and what little clothing I had on found its way to the floor. “Come, bathe me,” he said, shrugging off his caftan to reveal his stiff member assertively jutting forward, shamelessly alert and bouncing up and down with his stride as he walked me to the bath, the sac underneath tight and round.
Kneeling deeply in the water, my buoyant breasts floated and bobbed delightfully, while he stood against the side, leaning back, making his member jut out over the water, delightfully. Knowing it was not bathing he craved at this moment, I settled my lips comfortably around the neck that nature had conveniently provided—can you see any other reason for it?—gently holding his glans, his “purple plum” as they speak of it in Eastern writings, in my mouth while I played my tongue over the vulnerable underside. I pushed forward, the swell of his shaft further parting my lips, until he pressed against the back of my mouth, and then drew back until he again rested securely in the embrace of my rounded lips. But as soon as I started to play my tongue and repeat my ministrations I tasted a little of him, and felt his telltale shudder. There was no turning back, his course was set and my plan of seduction had collapsed. I plunged onto him three or four times, no more, before he erupted into me—a flood of salty slippiness. The little tricks and techniques of the harem I had learned were useless—he was too plentiful for me to cope with. His seed bubbled from my mouth and ran down my chin, dripping onto the water and floating away like a splatter of stracciatelle.
There was no cause to be embarrassed, but I was. I looked upwards. He was still relishing the moment with his head thrown back and his eyes closed, and I took advantage of his blind rapture to splash water over my face and swish away the floating seed. Two more surges and he relaxed completely, spent and satisfied. I calmed him with gentle strokes until he softened, and drew him off with my lips. His urgent lust had ambushed my carefully thought out plan of seduction, nevertheless, he did carry me to bed and made me a woman, then, and again later.
I knew the girls would be inquiring in the morning, but I wanted to keep this episode for Ali and myself alone to relish, for he too spoke of his supreme enjoyment. I answered their questions with only a knowing smile and a coyish tilt of my head.
In the days following, Ali clearly reasserted his position as master of the harem. All were bedded, even Hussein’s women.
They commandeered the kitchen that day and prepared a meal to give thanks to their rescuer, and for the rest of us to enjoy: yellow lentil soup, Greek style roasted lamb encrusted with herbs and honeyed lemon served on a bed of couscous with carefully arranged garnishes of colorful vegetables, mint tabbouleh and exotic condiments. To sweeten our mouths they had made sweetmeats of rose-flavored Turkish delight, honey soaked kneifah and sesame seed halvah. Hovering over Ali they lovingly helped him savor the choicest morsels and small delicacies they had made with their own hands that morning.
We were told to dress modestly for they had asked Yasmeen for permission to take special care of him for one day and a night, all three of them together, to thank him with kindness and their sweetness.
They entertained us that evening with dances depicting stories and places from their homelands. One was from the Black Sea region, and the two black girls were “Red Oromo” from Ethiopia. Amongst slave traders and harem masters Oromo girls from the Omo Valley were renowned and valued for their unquestioned beauty and willing sexual temperament, and everything I saw that night bore out that assessment.
They had brought clothes with them for occasions such as this, and they were different from those in our wardrobe. Although I knew about them, this was the first time I had seen metal breast bridles worn. Against the black Oromo skin, they were most alluring. One of the girls, her pert and firm breasts requiring no support, wore only many arm bangles, ankle bracelets, and a large broach on the back of her flimsy skirt that drew the eye to the graceful curve of her back and what lay below.
We left the hall early, leaving Ali with his three admirers sprawled at his feet. Later I heard their chatter and laughter as they passed by my room on their way to the bedchamber. I was pleased for them and buried my envy.
Ali looked well and was as frisky as a colt. We were happy to have him back in our lives.
Next chapter in the book
CHANGE OF POSSESSION
Ali suggested that I collect my wager from him, the one I had unfairly won on the journey from Ranyah to Al-Lith. I agreed, but had reservations. I was unsure of the courage or disposition to give him orders, and I did not know what to order him to do. I spent the afternoon thinking about possibilities and settled my mind on a short play, some theater, to make him see harem slavery from a girl’s viewpoint—a reversal of roles, at least as much as anatomy would permit. I thought for a moment that I might take a phallus from the erga and violate him with it, but in truth, the small details of that part of a man’s anatomy did not enamor me, its outlines and burly feel more than satisfied me, and I didn’t like going into the erga. I dismissed the thought.
Next Review Chapter is Chapter 35: Forbidden