Memoirs Of Vinca, Part  VII
for Chryseis-Happy Birthday!
The Palace was in uproar.  Servants fussed and hurried, dusting, sweeping, mopping, smoothing fresh sheets in the beds in the guest quarters, carrying vats of fresh incense for the burners.  An assortment of fresh and wild blooms transformed the somewhat austere Palace interiors into a splendid riot of colour, the marble walkways sparkled like the icy surface of the Tiber in winter.  The reason for this sudden upswing in the otherwise monotonous routine of  Palace life?  Commodus had decided to hold a grand reception for Rome's "best and brightest," as he put it..
     I, needless to say, was among the servile multitudes charged with the  task of ensuring the Palace  gleamed from top to bottom in time for the evenings' festivities.  Dusting the statue of Vespasian in the Grand Hallway close to the Imperial Quarters,  I was distracted by the strangest of sights...A vast garland, borne along by a pair of little thin legs, on a collision course with one of the rotund pillars lining the corridor.   "Look out!" I yelled, but it was too late.   The little legs crumpled to the ground,  there was a "whimpering" sound,  the flowers scattered willy-nilly, revealing Hestia, large dark eyes blinking and dazed.  "Oh, you silly little thing!" I admonished, rushing to help her to her feet.  "What in the Gods' names were you thinking of, carrying that thing in front of your eyes? It's obvious you couldn't see a thing...."
     Hestia giggled, having composed herself.  "Oh Vinca, I'm sorry!  But  I have other, far more pressing things on my mind today...." Smiling enigmatically, she clasped my hand in hers, pulling me towards a nearby alcove.  "Vinca, today I am the happiest girl in all of Rome!"  Her eyes shone.
"Well come on then, what is it?  Have the powers- that- be granted your freedom?"
"No...even better than that!"
"Oh come on, Hestia, you're torturing me now. What is it?"
"Cleandrus has asked me to marry him!"  she squealed.
"Oh Hestia, that is marvellous news!" I replied, kissing her.  Truly, I was delighted for her.  Cleandrus and Hestia had always been close since her early days at the palace,  when the then-twelve-years-old  Cypriot boy first took the nine-year old Gallic mouse under his protective wing.   Their friendship, durable and strong,  had evolved into love once they reached adulthood.   There had indeed been a discernible change in Hestia over the past couple of months.  She'd acquired an extra, welcome measure of flesh over her erstwhile waiflike frame,  the shadows under her eyes had gone,  her skin had lost its sallow cast and glowed, radiant, like a fresh peach.   Not quite Juno Gynetrix, you understand, but most definitely healthier.  I wondered whether there was another, more pressing reason for this sudden, burgeoning womanhood and the concurrent stealth engagement.
   " Hestia,"  I whispered carefully, lest Trincula or Portia were hanging about somewhere with ears flapping,  "You aren', you aren't..expecting, are you?"  I had,  after all,  acted as "lookout" on more than one occasion,  so Cleandrus and Hestia could spend some "quality time" together.   Hestia giggled.  "Oh no!" she said.  "Cleandrus is always very careful, and anyway, the dreaded red mist surged forth only a few days ago!  But we can't wait any longer, Vinca, not even until we are free...that could take years!  In fact, the Lady Lucilla has kindly offered to help us with the arrangements.  She says she will pay for the feast and will be taking me to the Forum next week, to choose material for my wedding gown!  Isn't that wonderful?"
     I was charmed by Lucilla's kindness.  The Lady had appeared somewhat stressed of late, but the fact that she still managed to consider the needs and wellbeing of her staff impressed me tremendously.   She had always been particularly fond and protective of Hestia, having made her her personal dresser, partially to shield her from Commodus' hostilities.  Young  Lucius also thought highly of Hestia;  she would often read to him while his mother took afternoon tea with her brother.   We had to move then, a clutch of male servants having  appeared with a vast, rolled carpet inlaid with pure gold  thread.
Late afternoon saw me busy in Commodus quarters, helping him to dress for the reception.  He'd chosen a sumptuous gown of midnight blue with a matching cloak, emblazoned with gold and silver thread,  festooned with jewelled brooches and antique medallions.  It showed off his flawless ivory skin and those compelling, sea- coloured eyes to perfection.
       Securing the chain holding the cloak in place around his shoulders,  I turned my attention to the one around his waist.  "Ah-ah, do be careful, Vinca!  It's a little too couldn't loosen it a bit, could you?"  He groaned with discomfort, his face slightly perplexed.   It wasn't overly noticeable, but he'd gained a little weight recently. 
"Of course, Sire.  How many notches?  One? Two?"
"Just the one.  Oh Vinca, do I look exquisite? Please tell me!"
"Devastatingly handsome, Sire," I muttered, amused, through a mouthful of pins.   "You'll impress the sandals off all the ladies at the feast tonight, of that I'm certain."
"Just the sandals?"  he teased.  "Oh Vinca, truly, you do make me laugh so, the things you say!"
"Did you know," I continued, "that the King of Parthia's daughter is coming tonight?"  Commodus had never married, had never been betrothed to anyone.  Why was this?
     He rolled his eyes.  "Oh, who cares?  The woman's a frightful bore.  All she ever talks about are her silly herb gardens and collection of hair-ornaments.  And what's more..." he went on, leaning close to whisper in my ear,  "She has a mustache!"  We giggled conspiratorially, like children savouring a secret.
"Oh Sire, you are cruel..."
"Well, she does!  She tears it off with hot wax!  Lucilla even saw her do it once!"
"Well, there's Apollonia, daughter of the Governor of Rhodes...she is very beautiful..."
"And shallow.  And about as lively as the Dead Sea.  And as bright as a Briton winter.  Tell me," he said, his voice light, teasing, "what is this?  Has Cupid descended from Olympus, dispensing advice in the form of Vinca, my lovely Briton songbird?"
"Well Sire," I offered, "I'm just curious, that's all.  Have you never given serious consideration to marriage?"  Almost immeduiately, I knew I'd said the wrong thing, for his jovial manner seized up, slamming shut like an angry clam. 
"I don't want to get amrried.  That is, I don't think I ever could get married."  His voice, stony, signalled an end to this particular topic of conversation.
     I pondered his words.   Why "couldn't" he get married?  Of course he could, he was Emperor!  He could do as he pleased.   Unless, of course, his preference was for males;  same- sex relationships, though tolerated, accepted and positively encouraged in some quarters, continue to be denied the seal of matrimony by law.  Commodus was indeed partial to the company of the occasional male servant; then again, he was privy to the "servitude" of certain female members of staff as well.  Except for me,  his friend.  And the older servants.  He was sexually active, thus discounting impotence as a factor;  but maybe, just maybe,  there was someone, someone he couldn't have, someone denied to him by marriage or class or law or...
"Vinca?  You look miles away, precious.  Now tell me.  How do I look?  Truth!"
"A treat, Sire.  Breathtaking."  He shimmered.  He sparkled. He was beautiful.
"Oh Vinca, what would I do without you?  Now be off with you, my flame-haired loony-bird.  Drusus is waiting to do my hair!"  Then he did the most extraordinary thing.  He leaned over and kissed my cheek, butterfly-light and swift.  A peculiar sensation of warmth, subtle and enticing, suffused my being as he turned to go.
I stood there for over two minutes after he left, stroking my cheek,  savouring the kiss, my heart dancing with possibilities.
Rome's array of "notables" began to arrive as soon as dusk fell, chasing the last vestiges of daylight from the city.  In steady procession they came;  the white-robed senators Falco,  Gracchus with his younger male companion, Gaius with his favourite mistress, the lovely, dark-haired Septima.   Gaius' wife Livia, a homely blonde of blunted beauty, had long since been "put out to pasture," as the Senate cruelly put it,  installed in a luxurious but isolated villa on the Palatine, where she passed her afternoons in the company of similarly-thwarted "first wives," prattling endlessly and critically about their former spouses' legionnary infidelities.  Along came the Proconsul Sulla and his wife Cosima, tongue already loosened from the wine; the noted historian and scribe Dio Cassius;  the  King of Parthia, splendidly attired and accompanied by wife and daughter; there was no sign of the infamous "mustache" which Commodus had described to me. Then the most fascinating couple in all of Rome: the Senator Albinus and his daring, exotic wife Paulina, a fleshy, full-bodied woman with an eccentric sense of style and a legendary, unharnessed appetite for pleasure.   She was notorious for appearing at official receptions surrounded by an entourage of swarming "Mytilene nymphs" (both she and her husband preferred their own sex,) and gossip about the orgies and "costume parties" she gave was rife;  at these, she would weave a rampant path through the multitudes of writhing, frolicking bodies in a costume that bared her breasts, pausing only to pluck a nubile young beauty from the swarm with whom she would "retire" to her bedchamber.  She scandalized the Senate by appearing in public and at the Games clad in male armoury or  as Diana the Huntress,  copper hair forming and extravagant aureole of curls around her head, a glittering trail of rubies, sapphires, and emeralds tracing the line of her sharply-defined brows.    She was also one of Lucilla's closest friends.    Commodus secretly couldn't abide her (in private he referred to her as "that tiresome, vulgar, craven woman") but this didn't prevent him from being in regular attendance at her costume parties, dressed invariably as Hercules, Hector or Alexander The Great.
     Last but not least, there was Demetrius Asinius Galba, Maximus'  successor as General of the Felix Legions.  Swarthy, dark-haired, magnanimous, with merry brown eyes and a prominent scar across his brow, he was Roman-born,  of Greek ancestry.    He had been stationed on the Dacian frontier with the Augusta Legions when he recieved the "call" from Commodus.   Like the Emperor, he was unmarried, but the reasons for his single status were somewhat less ambiguous than Commodus'.   Put simply, no wife would have ever tolerated his libertine excesses; the oft-quoted phrase "a woman in every outpost" did him absolutely no justice whatsoever.  As I weaved between the guests, pouring wine, I noticed his eyes linger over the languid, willowy form of Apollonia,  daughter of the Governor of Rhodes, whom Commodus had earlier described to me as dull.
     A herald of trumpets announced the Imperial Family's arrival.   The guests turned their attentions to the top of the vast staircase in the reception hall, where Commodus stood, haughty and handsome, pausing for dramatic effect (he certainly knew how to milk an entrance) before alighting the steps like Apollo sweeping down from the heavens.   He was accompanied by Lucilla, lissome and beautiful in a gauzy gown of pale green silk, a sensational headdress comprising diamonds and pearls atop her elegant head.   Young Lucius held her hand, quite the young Emperor-in-waiting in a smart robe of yellow and gold.  After greeting each guest in turn,  Commodus led the way towards the vast banqueting hall, where the guests took their places on  couches around a long, low table, beautifully inscribed with scenes of Bacchanalian revelries.
     Seated, the guests began to dine on the luxurious food brought by the servants.   A starter of truffles and wild mushrooms was followed in swift succession by a wondrous fish soup, honeyed prawns, and in honour of the King Of Parthia,  a speciality of that nation's cuisine comprising roasted pheasant stuffed with rice and almonds.  Fried bread with preserved plums drenched in honey provided a fitting finish to the feast.  Copious quantities of bread and exotic fruits were served as accompaniments, in additon to the ubiquitous wine.   Commodus' sparkling laughter infected the entire table as he led the conversation, consisting mostly of banter and light-hearted ribbing, with studied ease.   More wine was poured, and the bacchanal increased.  Lucilla called Hestia over with instructions to take Lucius up to his quarters.   As I stood, holding a warm bowl of rose- water for the guests to rinse their fingers, I was able to relax a little and study their interactions more closely.   I noticed that Gracchus did not laugh at any of Commodus' jokes; instead he would roll his eyes, turning to whisper something in the ear of his male companion, who smiled blandly.   Gaius belched and settled back on the couch, Septima mopping his sweating brow with a perfumed handkerchief.   At this point, the atmosphere took a subtle turn;   the humour, good-natured at the start, became slyly, snidely critical of the other guests.  As  I placed a fresh bowl of rose-water before Commodus, he laid a hand on my shoulder.   "Ahh, here she is!" he smiled. "Our lovely, hardwordking, and very talented Vinca!  Vinca sings, and what a voice she has too!  Is that not so, Vinca?"
"Well, I do my best, Sire"  I shrugged and busied myself with clearing away the guests' empty platters.   I admit I was a little worried he was going to ask me to perform for the benefit of his esteemed company tonight, but thankfully, he didn't.  As I collected the plate set before the Lady Paulina, she laid a soft, jewelled hand on my forearm.
"My my, what astonishing hair!" she uttered, reaching up to touch the curls. "Is it natural, my dear, or is it hennaed?"   I smiled to myself.   Commodus had asked the same question only a couple of months earlier.  
"It's all natural, my Lady." I said.  The guests stared, rapt.   Paulina leaned back, rubbing her chin in contemplation,  skewing me with her gaze.   "Hmmmm.  I can see how it would be so.   However, you wouldn't want to PROVE it to me later on, my dear....perhaps somewhere a little more....intimate?"   The guests fell about, laughing, except for Commodus, who shot her a look of pure poison.
"Paulina, if you please.  Vinca has much to do, she cannot concern herself with such...trifles."  Paulina leaned back in her seat, visibly sulking at Commodus' remonstrance.    I bowed and left the table.   As I left, I heard Demetrius mutter in Commodus'  ear, "She's from Britannia?  By the Gods, how could that dreary place produce such an untarnished flower?"
On my return to the banqueting hall to pour yet more wine,  I noticed that many of the guests were asleep, hands resting on their bloated stomachs, worn out from the copious guzzling.   The remaining few still awake had moved off into alcoves and corners fror private conversation and revelry.   Commodus remained seated at the head of the table, moodily sipping his wine.   Irritation flickered over his features as he caught sight of Lucilla and General Demetrius, deep in conversation.  Lucilla flinched slightly from the General's attentjions;  doubtless she had heard of his appetite for conquest, and not of the battle-wrought kind;  yet in spite of this she remained polite and poised, nodding at his words, laughing softly at his witticisms.   Uncomfortable at being sidelined,  Commodus' face grew cloudier by the second.   The Lady Bibula sauntered over,  a prominent wine-stain on her peach silk gown, lip-paint smeared unattractively after inadvertantly wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.   Flinging herself down on the couch next to Commodus, she tried to immerse herself in the conversation between Lucilla and Demetrius.   "So," she slurred, "how are the lovebirds?  Any intrigues doing the rounds?  Do tell me."
     "Hello there, Bibula.  I was telling the Lady Lucilla how difficult I'm finding it to motivate my men nowadays, trapped as they are on shore-leave in Ostia with nowhere to go and nothing to do.  No-one to fight.  It's funny, but it's been that way since I took over from Maximus.  It's as if he took something with him.  I don't know, the heart isn't there anymore."  At the mention of Maximus' name, both Commodus and Lucilla visibly stiffened.   Bibula, her  alertness too blunted by drink to notice, continued unheeded.   "Ah yes...speaking of which, Demetrius, have you been to the Flavian Ampitheatre in recent months?"
    "Not for a while,  I've been grounded in Ostia with the lads, but I was there on the opening day of the Aurelian Games.   A recreation of the Fall Of Troy,  if my memory serves me correctly.  Why do you ask?"
"Well, there's a new gladiator, the most amazing swordsman...he's a true sensation.  The mob goes crazy for him.  Most turn up just to watch him.   Now I never met General Maximus... he never visited Rome, to my knowledge...but this gladiator is also named thus, and some say he bears more than a passing resemblence to the General. Others claim he is  the General."  Bibula reached for a pitcher of wine, filling her goblet to the hilt.
     "That's ridiculous.  Ludicrous." Commodus suddenly spat.   "Bibula, you exaggerate so.  You really must lay off the wine.  It's affecting your usually-sound sense of judgement."  He looked distinctly uneasy.  Lucilla looked down at her hands,  her expression impossible to read.
     "Ah, yes, Maximus Decimus Meridius,"  Demetrius mused.  "Good man.   Served with him oh, ages ago now, on the Dalmatian front.  We were mere nippers, centurions, back  then.   Strange fellow.  Sort of quiet, deep-thinking.  One got the impression he had a lot going on in his mind.  Didn't really go in for all the post-battle revelry with the lads.  Adored his wife.  But put a sword in his hand...Gods, what a fighter!  What a stragtegian!  Genius.  Absolute genius.  None of the lads could touch him.   I still don't know what went wrong, why he disappeared like that." 
     Commodus, meanwhile, gazed down at the table,  fingers tapping impatiently against it, his face bristling with barely-contained rage.   Acute to Commodus' discomfort, Demetrius suddenly changed tack.   By the way, Sire,"  he said, "may I congratulate you on this evening.  It's been a marvel,  a personal triumph for you, and a privilege for me to spend it in such esteemed company."  Commodus' sole reply was a cold smile.
     Bibula left the table shortly afterwards, but the awkward atmosphere still lingered, thick and stifling.   Commodus continued to sup, glancing with unabashed hostility at Demetrius over the rim of his goblet as the General continued to vy for his sister's attentions   Apparently tiring of Demetrius' presence, he snapped. 
     "Oh  by the Gods, Demetrius, do cease your incessent wibbling.  It bores me tremendously."
Shocked and more than a little hurt by Commodus' sudden outburst, Demetrius tried valiantly to appease the Emperor.  "Ah, please excuse me Sire, but the Lady and I were discussing the works of Pliny.  You are familiar with them Sire, are you not?"
The emperor twitched with discomfort. A muscle jumped in his cheek.  He'd hardly laid eyes on a manuscrpt in his life.  "I am aware of his works" he replied stonily.
"I must say, Sire, I am most impressed with the Lady's insight.  Your analyses and perceptions are astounding,  my Lady.  And more the joy, they emanate from within such a lovely and graceful exterior.  I must say, my Lady..."  he smiled,  glancing sideways at Commodus, "you are indeed far the better man...."  He bent his head, lifting Lucilla's delicate hand to his lips.  Then Commodus exploded.
Demetrius' last quip was intended as a joke, but Commodus was not, it transpired, in the mood for jesting.  Slamming his goblet on the table,  the Emperor stood.  And screamed.
The sleeping guests suddenly roused themselves at this crude provocation.  Lucilla stood too, laying an appeasing hand on  Commodus' shoulder.  "Brother, please, not now..."  He shrugged her off, roughly,  his handsome face cauterised by fury.  "This reception is finished! FINISHED!!!!" he yelled.  Hestia, standing in the doorway, jumped at the sound of his voice, dropping a platter.  It smashed, but Commodus was too caught up in his own anger to berate her.  Turning on his heel, he stalked out of the hall, cape streaming behind him, as the guests stared, open-mouthed.  Lucilla started to sob, the Lady Paulina rushing over to lay a comforting hand on her elegant shoulder.  As he passed me ,  Commodus tapped me on the arm.  "Vinca.  My quarters.  Now, please!" Puzzled, I followed him upstairs.  To be honest,  I was terrified.  It was ridiculous, but I couldn't shake the feeling that the furore downstairs had something to do with me.  You never knew where you were with Commodus;  his mood was in a constant state of flux, ever-shifting, like the sea-green of his incredible eyes.
     Alone in his quarters at last, he slammed the door, stalking over to his desk.  He picked up a decanter of wine, scowled upon finding it empty, then flung it haphazardly across the room.  It shattered in the corner with a resounding crash.  Perched on the edge of his bed, I was shaking, my limbs held tightly against my body.   I was unsure whether to speak at that moment or to let the fire inside him subside first.  Then, throwing  caution to the wind, I spoke anyway.
     "Sire, please stop this....your anger is making me fearful, and I am worried you may do yourself harm.  Tell me, why did you leave the reception?  Is it me?  Have I displeased you in some way?"
    "The reason I left the party, Vinca," he sneered, moving towards me, "is because of that coarse Greek idiot."    His eyes, narrowing perceptibly, burned with resentment.  "Th-the thought of his filthy hands, soiled on the bodies of innumerable Dacian tarts, touching my sister, sickens me, Vinca...." His voice broke.
     "But Sire, he was nothing but respectful towards the Lady...he was merely expressing his admiration for her mind and beauty, and to be honest,  were I a man privileged enough to warrant the company of such an exquisite, intelligent woman, then so would I..."
    "To warrant the company..." Commodus mused,  trying to grasp the full meaning behind the words.  "To warrant the company?" he repeated, dissolving into hysterical, disblieving laughter, a laughter  that fragmented as rapidly as it had appeared.
     "HE DOES NOT WARRANT MY SISTER'S COMPANY!!"  he  screamed, turning on me.  "No man does, do you hear me? No man!!  Except for ... I hate them all, I see the way they look at her,  they with their filthy pimps' eyes, relishing the prospect of her body under those silken robes...yet she is too great, too noble, too precious, and yet they do not see that, oh no!  All they see is a conquest,  a prospect,  a means by which to feed their own vile, grasping ambitions; then they will return to their wives, their mistresses, their whores, and laugh, and scorn, whereas I...I..."  He put his head in his hands, utterly defeated.  I reached out to comfort him, but he brushed my hand aside.  And at that moment, I knew.
 The woman he could never have was his sister,  Lucilla.
Then another realisation.  Something I had known for a long time, but  had supressed in the name of decorum, and fear of his rejection.  His rejection.
 That I loved him.
    As he ranted and railed, I was torn between wanting to comfort him,  to clasp him to my bosom,  to show him that he was loved, even though he could never reciprocate it; and by my sudden and shameful resentment of Lucilla, a resentment which made me want to strike him.   Not to mention my deep sense of disgust at his unnatural attachment to his sister.   Now I knew why Lucilla seemed so cautious in his presence.  Who wouldn't be?  Truthfully, I didn't know what to do.  This shocking revelation had left me reeling.  All I could do was sit, wait.
Commodus' tirade continued unheeded. He began to pace the floor, fuelling his ire further    "Do you not see, Vinca?  They will use her for their own ends,  mistreat her,  then abandon her when she is no longer conducive to their ambitions...  just as he did..."
"Who did,  Sire?"
Commodus looked down.  "Maximus"  he said gravely.
"But General Maximus disappeared, Sire?  Surely you can't let past events...."  He began to laugh again, that same laugh, startling, hysterical, disturbing.  Leaning close, his face inches from mine,  he began to speak.   "So you are among the innocent multitudes who believe Maximus dissappeared, eh?   Well, good for you if you do.  Because he hasn't.  He's still here, taunting me, mocking me, defying me,  destroying me.  Cheapening my aspirations, making the whole world despise me....oh, Maximus is still here, Vinca.   He's closer than you think!  And that dogs-buffoon Demetrius, he's just like him!  Maximus, all over again!"
   For a moment I was baffled.   Why on earth was Commodus letting a man confined to memory haunt and consume him so?  Unless...The picture slowly came together.  The gladiator Maximus, defiant and unyielding before the Emperor in the Flavian Ampitheatre.   Commodus' naked discomfort whenever his name was mentioned.  Maximus had not disappeared.  Maximus was here, in Rome.  "Th-the gladiator?"  I ventured, barely able to contain myself.
     "YES!!!!" Commodus yelled.  "Full marks! That's him alright! Stuck in a stinking slave enclosure,  living on gruel and slops, forced to fight for his life every weekend!  It's no more than he deserves!  The bastard  ruined my life, stole my love, stole my family, now he is stealing the hearts of my people!  He began by turning my father against me, then, not content with this, he broke my sister's heart.  Now my people...MY people, Vinca, revere him as though he, not I , were Emperor!  A job well done, wouldn't you say so, Vinca?"  His smile was sarcastic, his voice creased with bitterness.
     "But Sire, so many people have said that General Maximus was a good man, the best..."  I glanced at Commodus.  I found it hard to believe in Commodus' claim that Maximus was a cold, opportunistic, power-hungry lecherer.  People had always spoken highly of Maximus, his bravery, his humility, his moral principles.  Commodus' father had admired him greatly.  Needless to say, Commodus was appalled.
"Oh Vinca?!" he groaned.  "Not you too!  Please, not you!"
I didn't say anything.
What happened next was dreadful.  Commodus rambled, ranted, and raved, pausing only to smash a clenched fist on his desk, kick over a vase, hurl an object across the room.   Suddenly I'd had enough.  Getting up swiftly, I grabbed his shoulders and raised my hand to strike him, but his trained , swordsman's reflexes allowed him to grab my wrist before I could deliver the blow.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you, Vinca" he said, eyes glittering, his voice like shards of ice .  "You are forgetting who I am, young lady."
     I straightened, met his gaze with equal measure, and spoke.  "Oh Commodus,  believe me, I'll do it.  I'll do it as often as it takes to bring you to your senses.  And before you think of calling your Praetorian lackeys in here to have me executed, just remember this.  if you lose me, you will have lost the only friend you've ever had.  And believe me, good friends-true friends-don't come easily.   You are letting your self-pity immobilise and destroy your better nature, which I have seen... to the extent that you have alienated many of the people who are, or could have been, close to you.  Just you remember that, Highness."  I'd inadvertantly used his first name.  
    Trembling, he stood before me.  His lips quivered.  His face twisted into a snarl.  "Get OUT!!!!" he hissed.
    As he turned away, I saw his eyes fill with tears.
Running down the corridor  back towards the servants quarters, I felt drained and deeply saddened.   Our burgeoning friendship, so tenaciously cultivated, was now in tatters.  Pausing at the top of the stairs, I slumped against the wall, buried my head in my hands, and began to sob.

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