The Tale of the Two Lovers, continued. (Click here for Part 1)
As the boy grew to be a man never did he forget the girl whom he loved.
Though he was not allowed to visit her, he saved every copper coin he could—sometimes going for food without days to manage—all in the hopes of one day buying his love’s freedom from slavery.
But anyone could see that with his mean income he would never manage to save enough though he lived a dozen lifetimes.
Meanwhile, the girl grew into a beautiful young woman—and her wicked mistress took notice. As the wiry dark woman saw the young woman’s grace blossom she placed her in the best room and at the highest price.
Every night the young woman begged the heavens to free her from the grip of the cruel mistress, but no help ever came. And one day her plight grew worse than ever.
A wealthy old client called upon the house and, seeing the young woman’s beauty, he asked to room with her for the night.
Once they were alone, however, the old man said something that surprised the young woman greatly: he offered to help her escape, but only if she would do a favor for him in return first.
At first the young woman did not believe the old man, seeing that he had no reason to let her go. But gradually he persuaded her, and soon, the young woman feeling hope and excitement for the first time in years, they were planning the adventure: a route by which they would travel, how she would find money, and where she would meet with her true love.
Finally, with the plans settled, the young woman leapt to her feet to pack her bags. The old man, however, did not stand up at all, but instead asked with surprise where she was going so soon. And when she did not understand, he reminded her that before they began she must first perform a favor.
This favor, he revealed, was she must sleep with him not just one night, nor two, but for three whole nights must they be together.
Realizing that the old man was trying to trick her into giving more than his pay would cover, her heart fell to the bottom of her soul. With hot tears streaming down her cheeks the young woman declared that he was worse than all the rest of her clients combined, as none had ever treated her so wickedly.
At this the old man jumped to his feet, shouted at her for refusing his ‘generosity,’ and then struck her on both cheeks as hard as ever he could.
The mistress heard the loud voices, rushed into the room, and immediately began apologizing to the old man for the young woman’s insolence. But, calling out a loud curse on the brothel, the rich old man stormed from the room, declaring that in the morning his lawyers would see to the closing of their business.
The sobbing mistress grabbed a cane with which to beat her disobedient slave, but before the mistress struck a blow she noticed something terrible: on the young woman’s cheeks there were black bruises, one for each cheek, and each in the shape of the old man’s hand.
(To be continued…)