Life and Times of a Priestess : Ch.13 : New Friends In Dumis : Part 1 (Section 4)
Part 1 : Section 4
“So Danella, you have been here for four months now, do you like life in Dumis?” asked Valery.
“Oh yes, I have enjoyed it very much. Ravelleon and Mireau have shown me all the sights,” she knew Valery knew she was the General’s and yet she was here tonight before his eyes enjoying the fullest company of Mireau. That simple pleasure might be disapproved of by many Prancirians, but she wanted to be a free woman. She could not keep herself behind closed doors all the time just in order to be able to enjoy Mireau. She had to accept the risk that someone might inform Ravelleon that she had been seen in the embrace of his friend. She judged that Ravelleon would not object to his friend escorting her to places in his absence but if he knew that they were lovers who had made no secret of their interest in each other at some of the parties such as this one, he would be very angry. Mireau knew this and had tried to stop her from expressing any real passion in public. It was so difficult for a Priestess who had lived her whole life with the freedom to express even the slightest sexual feelings, to resist the expression she was used to. She had been very good and restricted herself to embracing and kissing only late in the evenings and when others were behaving in the same way or the lights were low. Mireau always tried to dissuade her but he enjoyed her too much to resist completely.
“Have you seen the new tower?” he asked, “and the art galleries and…” she nodded at all of these and told him what she thought of all these places. “And have they taken you to restaurants?”
“Oh yes plenty,” they discussed different types of restaurants for a few minutes.
“So you are living in Ravelleon’s house, as his mistress,” Valery began to ask the questions which he wanted to ask. When he said the word ‘mistress’ he smiled as if he liked the term, and stared at her with a humour in his eye, which she could not at first translate.
“It must be an exciting life,” he said.
“Oh yes very exciting as I say. He has been very good to me”.
“Have you met Ravelleon’s wife,” he asked.
“No, she lives a long way from Dumis.”
“I know her, you know,” he said. Danella wondered for a moment whether he was going to say he disapproved of mistresses and warn her away from his friend’s husband.
“I would like to meet her, but Ravelleon ways she would not like to know of my existence,” she said unwilling to avoid the subject.
“She is a very nice lady, very attractive, but a little too chaste for my liking,” said Valery, indicating that he did not approve of chastity and that he did not disapprove of mistresses. “You know to be a mistress is a good thing. Every man should have at least one. Not that I am suggesting that Ravelleon has any more than you, but you would not mind even if he did?”
“No I would not mind, why should I,” she admitted. To any other Prancirian in society she would not have admitted it so easily. Ravelleon and Mireau had both warned her not to bring the habits of a Priestess into her life in Dumis. She could cause great trouble for both of them. Ravelleon thought she had given up being a priestess anyway and pledged herself to be loyal to him.
“Of course you would not mind. You were a Priestess in Pirion were you not?” cut in Jeanette in her clear sharp voice. Danella felt the disapproving tone which Prancirians feared from each other when they admitted to sexual infidelities or improprieties. Although Jeanette had passed no judgement upon her past she had drawn attention to it without much excuse. These few months had changed her she now realised, the secrecy in sexual matters which she had kept from Ravelleon, hiding the relationship with Mireau and avoiding too much mention of her past life because Ravelleon did not want to hear of her sexual ‘excesses’. He had not wanted her to speak much of her past, when in public certainly not of the ceremonies and prostitution, as Ravelleon called it, of Pirion, or of the prostitution in which the conquering soldiers, and Ravelleon himself, had held them. She was growing used to hiding her fullest sexuality from the world around her, and yet she knew that the controlled sexuality, which she did exude, made her popular with the men she came into contact with. There were admirers and even men who had made suggestions to her on the dance floor, away from Ravelleon, or just with their attentive gaze, and many of the women also admired her, for the way she carried herself confidently and honestly, unable to hide something of her true nature which in all these women had always been repressed. However, in some women she sensed that she aroused jealousy and fear, the fear of losing their husbands, and the disapproval, possibly sometimes hatred of women who believed her to be a sinner, a foreign harlot, uncivilised, with no understanding of what they believed life was all about. Danella felt sorry for these women but their repression and lack of understanding nonetheless caused her to be more careful than she wished. These women, and men also were powerful, and there were many of them, and she feared what they could potentially do to upset her new life with Ravelleon in Dumis, and with Mireau.
Valery made a pretence of not knowing that she had been a Priestess. “So you were a Priestess were you? Mireau did not tell me that. You must tell me about all that. It sounds exciting.” She could tell he was not in the least surprised by the revelation, and feigned ignorance only because he wished to show interest. However she did not detect any disapproval. This man, whom she could only assume was very important in Prancir, seemed to be a great deal more open to the discussion of sexual matters than most people in Dumis would admit to. She felt that perhaps she could be reasonably honest with him. She was not so sure about Jeanette however, although the woman’s words so far had suggested she may have a keen interest in finding out more about her. Mireau was keeping the Lady Arabella and the beautiful Philippe occupied for the moment.
“Yes it was an exciting life. I did not choose for it to end. We were conquered,” she allowed some words of complaint of truth to spill from her lips. Normally she would try to say little on the subject of the war, but there was no danger to her here from disapproval of the war. Here, although the war was supported by an ignorant population, it was a long way from home unless a member of one’s own family had been killed or wounded or was facing the occasional prospect of death. In Dumisian society she had learned eccentrics or people with unusual opinions might often be tolerated.
“You enjoyed your old life?” cut in the Lady Jeanette again.
“Of course, I was raised in Pirion. I belonged there.”
“But now you have chosen to come to Dumis with Ravelleon,” the Lady Jeanette said. “You have chosen Prancir over Pirion.”
“I have not by coming here chosen Prancir over Pirion. I detest the destruction this war has wrought, but I wished to travel, and Ravelleon is a good man to travel with.”
“So you do not love him. He is a convenience to you,” poked Jeanette, still determined to stir the conversation.
“No I do love him, of course, he is a strong man to love, very passionate, very determined.”
“But you prefer the company of Mireau to your General,” Jeanette queried. Jeanette was pushing her to say more than she should, especially with Mireau here. Danella found the questions dangerous amongst people she did not know, who may be Mireau’s friends and Ravelleon’s. She did not know whether these people believed her to be a disreputable woman for loving Mireau when Ravelleon was away or for being Ravelleon’s mistress in the first place, or whether they perceived her to be a foreign whore who should not be in Dumis. However, they were giving their attention to her and there was no real indication to say that they really disapproved of her. There was no reason not to be truthful.
“I feel love for both of them. They are both different. I am a guest of Ravelleon’s here in Dumis but when he is away I can spend more time in the company of Mireau. I do no harm to Ravelleon.”
“There are many here who would not agree with you there,” said Jeanette, making no attempt to stifle a yawn as if the conversation began to bore her. “Your General would be very upset if he realised you were screwing his best friend,” said Jeanette, startlingly. Danella had never heard a Prancirian woman use such a word before. She had understood it to be considered unladylike here, a word only to be used by men amongst themselves. She had heard some of the ordinary soldiers using the expression back in Dalos when they were screwing her. It was a rough almost violent word in the way it described what a man did to a woman as if he might be inserting a screw into a wooden object. She had enjoyed the word when she realised its linguistic implications. It brought to her mind ceremonies which involved male dominance, and even the impression of violence. She had often enjoyed them for what the Prancirians would call their depravity.
This lady Jeanette was a strange creature, there could be no doubt now. But it did seem if she was willing to use the word screwing, that she was a liberated modern woman. She was also what most Prancirians would consider rather course and rude. Her arrogance was unusual and a little off putting to Danella who was unused to arrogance in women, and yet she looked wealthy and polite. Her words suggested that she was perhaps a woman of the world who might perhaps have ‘screwed’ more than a couple of men herself. Maybe she wished to project this to Danella.
“Oh Jeanette,” cut in Valery, “you are not being very dignified today. You will scare our guest away if you are not more careful with your words.” Danella might have expected an argument to ensue between the too friends, but Valery cut his friend back without seeming to insult. It was said softly and with a playful humour which told her that he was playing with his friend, just as he was probably playing with Danella.
Jeanette responded immediately, “Oh Valery, you always want to control me, make me civilised like everyone else, but I know what you are really like. Your civilisation is a façade, underneath lies an animal. I have heard you use the word screw on many occasions. Why can I not use it with our Priestess. I am sure you know what the word means don’t you Danella.”
“I have heard it before,” said Danella politely. She did not know these people. She needed therefore to be careful with them. She felt wary of them because she could not guess what they were thinking, but their flippancy so far suggested a sexual openness which she had not so far found in Prancir, even with the understanding Mireau.
“I only think you should be kinder to our guest Jeanette and save such personal questions until later when we are better acquainted. And as for me being an animal you must know I am one of the most civilised people in the whole of Prancir,” protested Valery good naturedly.
“I know you are dear. I think you are the most civilised person in the whole of Prancir, but I do happen to know that the word screw is one which you frequently use, in private if not in public.”
“Well I suppose I do,” conceded Valery, finally. The lady was unstoppable. “I cannot tell you what to say I suppose if I use the word occasionally myself. I hope you are not offended by this Danella.”
“No of course not. As the lady has said I was a Priestess of Pirion. There is little in the matter of loving which can offend me.” She now felt comfortable enough to declare her true self a little. This couple were only playacting, and she realised that they would not mind whatever she said. Now she felt more comfortable perhaps she might talk more openly with the beautiful Philippe. The others had not been listening to their conversation, being engaged in their own. She could not tell what they had been talking about. No one can share in all the conversations which occur around a table. Every person sees a different part of any social gathering, all receiving a different experience from it.