Chapter 19 – Toiling
Again, I am reminded of the UK ‘Big Brother’ Reality/Unreality TV show (in a good way): with the changing of passive/active roles, changing ‘heads of house’, Heaven/Hell, changing of friends and befriending etc. etc.
Then, the introduction of bond-lockers etc and the almost abrupt transition of our heroine from the Laughing Phallus scenario to that of becoming one of Sam’s cart horses. The latter situation is a striking concept, beautifully handled...reminding me sometimes of certain elements in Goldfrapp’s stage act.
Choice snippets among many;
This was a development I had not foreseen. Back in the days of my personage, I had of course punished slaves – although my feeling remained that I had made rather a mess of it. Taking responsibility for the discipline of my fellow slaves was quite another matter, and not at all welcome. The fact that our lives might depend upon it rendered matters very much worse.
True to her word, Madame Scurf provided us, in the whip-making workshop, with our own image of the goddess. She was only about six inches tall, moulded from sawdust and glue, crudely painted, but the image sufficed. The more religious of us prepared an adequate altar and we soon felt the gracious presence of Our Lady of the Lamp. It may be that there were the remains of whores in the glue of her composition, allowing them to achieve – in some wise – unity with the deity.
Sam buckled the cart harness to mine, almost fondling me as he did so. His touch proved surprisingly gentle. His kindness, if it might be so considered, was not of the sort persons direct toward their fellows. Rather, it was such as one might bestow upon a valued beast.
“Good ’orsey,” he cooed, “pretty ’orsey… ’old steady, nah, ’orsey.”
Unbuckling a pouch at her waist, the basta produced a fragment of beast-flake. Unlike the biscuit Sam had given me earlier, it was slightly sweet, had a pleasant oaty flavour and was not in the least musty. Taking a brush from another pouch, she attended to my hair. She didn’t have time to make me gleam like a military draught slave, but by the time she was done I felt an unexpected stirring of personal pride.
Leaving the barracks saddened me. My regret at passing from the care of the basta was only a little ameliorated by the fact that we were now travelling unladen. An empty cart after a rub down with a clean towel is, for a draught slave, a great luxury. Perhaps I was, as yet, insufficiently accustomed to heavy loads to fully appreciate a light one.
I didn’t get the grammatical sense of this:
The exercise was worse than useless – they were marking time, on a sharp right-hand turn the slaves to the left make all the effort.
Word docs of the actual chapters are freely available to readers of this blog.
On this site, if you want to leave comments all you need do is type 'nospam' in confirm box and your name.
The links to all Chapter comments by me are here: http://weirdmonger.blogspot.com/2008/06/odalisque.html
Posted by: newdfl on 8/13/2008 4:45:34 AM , 3 comments
Never having watched "Big Brother", I'm rather bemused by the comparison with that show.
The horse girls no longer appear in Goldfrapp's stage act (although the wolf ladies do) -- but I think that Goldfrapp and I may have drawn upon the same archetype, here.
I'm not sure that I understand your query. Do you mean that you don't follow the grammar of the sentence -- or that you don't undertand its meaning? Looking at sentence, I see that its structure is a little unusual, in that it has two adverbial clauses of causation, the second of them qualifying the first. Moreover, clauses of this kind are often introduced by "because" (or a synonym) -- but that is understood, rather than stated, in both instances. Essentially:
(Main clause) The exercise was worse than useless
(First adverbial clause) [because] they were marking time
(Second adverbial clause, qualifying the first) [because] on a sharp right-hand turn the slaves to the left make all the effort.
Is that clear now? Have I failed to grasp the nature of your query? Do you think that it needs changing?
I assume that you understand the physics of the sentence -- that, in turning a vehicle sharply to the right, more effort has to be applied to its left hand side than to its right.
I think, on reflection, I must have been bemused by the past tense (was, were) followed by the present tense (make).
I see, that makes sense. The tense changes, I suppose, from specific past experience to that of a generalised reflection upon that experience.