'The sun gate!' he cried. 'We must be there before dark!'

'Yes,' I agreed.

'Is there time?' he asked.

'I think so,' I said.

'Come!' he said. 'Come quickly!'

He then, leading the way, hurried up the street. I followed him, and Phoebe raced behind us.

2 The Tent

'You may turn about,' said Marcus, standing up.

Phoebe, kneeling, gasping, unclasped her hands from behind her neck, and lifted her head from the dirt, in our small tent, outside the walls of Ar, one of hundreds such tents, mainly for vagabonds, itinerants and refugees.

'Thank you, Master,' said Phoebe. 'I am yours. I love you. I love you.'

'Stand and face me,' he said. 'Keep you arms at your sides.

Marcus took a long cord, some five feet or so in length, from his pouch, and tossed it over his shoulder.

'Am I to be bound now?' she asked.

'The air seems cleaner and fresher outside the walls,' I said.

We could hear the sounds of the camp about us.

'It is only that we do not have the stink of incense here,' smiled Marcus.

'Do you know what this is?' he asked, Phoebe. He held in his hand, drawn forth from his pouch, a bit of cloth.

'I am not certain,' she said, timidly, hopefully, 'Master.' Her eyes lit up. I smiled.

'It is a tunic!' she cried, delightedly.

'A slave tunic,' he said, sternly.

'Of course, Master,' she said, delightedly, 'for I am a slave!'

It was a sleeveless, pullover tunic of brown rep cloth. It was generously notched on both sides at the hem, which touch guarantees an additional baring of its occupant's flanks.

I saw that Phoebe wanted to reach out and seize the small garment but that she, under discipline, kept her hands, as she had been directed, at her sides. The cord over Marcus' shoulder, of course, was the slave girdle, which is used to adjust the garment on the slave. Such girdles may be tied in various ways, usually in such ways as to enhance the occupant's figure. Such girdles, too, like the binding fiber with which a camisk is usually secured on a girl, may be used to bind her.

'It is to be mine, is it not?' asked Phoebe, eagerly, expectantly, hopefully. She would not be fully certain of this, of course. Once before, in the neighborhood of Brundisium, far to the north and west, when she had though she was to receive a similar garment, one which had previously been worn by another slave, Marcus refused to permit it to her. He had burned it. She was from Cos. 'I own it,' said Marcus, 'as I own you, but it is true that it was with you in mind that I purchased it, that you might wear it when permitted, or directed.'

'May I touch it, Master?' she asked, delightedly.

'Yes,' he said.

I watched her take the tiny garment in her hands, gratefully, joyfully.

It is interesting, I thought, how much such a small thing can mean to a girl. It was a mere slave tunic, a cheap, tiny thing, little more than a ta-teera or camisk, and yet it delighted her, boundlessly. It was the sort of garment which free women profess to despise, to find unspeakably shocking, unutterably scandalous, the sort of garment which they profess to regard with horror, the sort of garment which they seem almost ready to faint at the sight of, and yet to Phoebe, and to others like her, in bondage, it was precious, meaning more her doubtless than the richest garments in the wardrobes of the free women. To be sure, I suspect that free women are not always completely candid in what they tell us about their feelings toward such garments. The same free woman, captured, who is cast such a garment, and regarding it cries out with rage and frustration, and dismay, and hastens to don it only when she sees the hand of her captor tighten on his whip, is likely, in a matter of moments, to be wearing it quite well, and with talent, moving gracefully, excitingly and provocatively within it. Such garments, and their meaning, tend to excite women, inordinately. Too, they are often not such strangers to such garments as they might have you believe. Such garments, and such things, are often found among the belongings of women in captured cities. It is presumed that many women wear them privately, and pose in them, before mirrors, and such. Sometimes it is in the course of such activities that they first feel the slaver's noose upon them, they surprised, and taken, in the privacy of their own compartments. On Gor it is said that free women are slaves who have not been collared. In Phoebe's case, of course, the garment represented not only such things, confirmation of her bondage, her subjection to a master, and such, but more importantly, at the moment, the considerable difference between being clothed and unclothed. She, a slave, and not entitled to clothing, any more than other animals, was, by the generosity of her master, to be permitted a garment.

'Thank you, Master! Thank you, Master!' wept Phoebe, clutching the garment. Marcus had, of his own thinking in the matter, purchased the garment. It was, in my opinion, high time he had done so. Not only would Phoebe be incredibly fetching in a slave garment, garments permitting a female in many ways to call attention to, accentuate, display and enhance her beauty, but it would make her, and us, less conspicuous on the streets of Ar. Also, of course, she would then be no more susceptible than other similarly clad slaves to the pinches, and other attentions, of passers-by in the streets.

'May I put it on?' she asked, holding the garment out.

'Yes,' said Marcus. He was beaming. I think he had forgotten that he hated the wench, and such.

'Why have you come to Ar?' I asked Marcus.

'Surely you know,' he said.

'But that is madness,' I said.

During the siege of Ar's Station its Home Stone had been smuggled out of the city and secretly transported to Ar for safekeeping. This was done in a wagon owned by a fellow named Septimus Entrates. We had learned, however, after the fall of Ar's Station, that the official rumor circulated in the south was to the effect that Ar's Station had opened its gates to the Cosian expeditionary force, this in consideration of substantial gifts of gold. Accordingly, those of Ar's Station were now accounted renegades in the south. This supposed treachery of Ar's Station was then used, naturally, to explain the failure of Ar's might in the north to raise the siege, it was supposed that Ar's dilemma in the north was then either to attack their former colony or deal with the retreating expeditionary force. On the supposition that the latter action took priority the might of Ar in the north entered the delta in pursuit of the Cosians, in which shifting, trackless morass column after column was lost or decimated. The devastation of Ar's might in the delta was perhaps the greatest military disaster in the planet's history. Of over fifty thousand men who had entered the delta it was doubted that there were more than four or five thousand survivors. Some of these, of course, had managed to find their way back to Ar. As far as these men knew, of course, at least on the whole, the circulating rumors were correct, namely, that Ar's Station had betrayed Ar, that it was still intact and that it was now a Cosian outpost. Such things they had been told in their winter camp, near Holmesk, south of the Vosk.

Phoebe slipped the garment over her head.

Marcus observed, intently.

Understandably enough, given these official accounts of doings in the north, Ar's Station and those of Ar's Station were much despised and hated in Ar. Happily Marcus' accent, like most of Ar's Station, was close enough to that of Ar herself that he seldom attracted much attention. Too, of course, these days in the vicinity of Ar, given the movements of Cos on the continent, and the consequent displacements and flights of people, there were medleys of accents in and about Ar. Not even my own accent, which was unusual on Gor, attracted much attention.

Phoebe drew down the tunic about her thighs, and turned before Marcus, happily. 'Aii!' said Marcus.

'Does the slave please you?' inquired Phoebe, delighted. The question was clearly rhetorical.

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