The local festival marking the end of Summer was known as Lladra’s Day. It had been an excuse, ever since the daughters of Kova came of an age sufficient to value elegance, for dress-making and the purchase of those little accessories so essential to womankind. Nor were the preliminaries limited to the daughters. Perhaps with the exception of Ollataminez, encased and stanchioned in black, all of the distaff side enjoyed a measure of frippery. Even Eszeza, restlessly checking her smaller cauldrons for signs of contaminating grease, wore a small frill of new-worked embroidery around her white cap. The four scullery-trulls laboring under her cynical eye were fierce in their jealous plans to outdo one another by parading with the prettiest – or at least largest – man.
As for the masculine half of the house, though the seven scullion-boys harbored little more than a fixed intention to enjoy the half-holiday with all their might, various other menservants brushed at clothes, polished boots and prepared to look their best.
Menes, an outsider among the lower servants, imitated them in tidying himself, but not with the intent of promenading. A half-smile played upon his lips. His fortunes were looking up since the “chance meeting” the previous evening. Today, he had an appointment to keep that would prevent him from accompanying his fellows into the square, and no loss that meeting promised. Gain indeed!