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Aulus had the wit to dismiss his lictors before entering the house - Horatia had despaired when she'd learned he was not only entitled to twelve lictors as a Consul, but couldn't dispense with them. He had promised to try to make it easier for her by not having them in the house when they weren't needed, although the domus was certainly big enough for them - they had families of their own, anyway, and probably appreciated being able to see them from time to time.

Aulus and the new slave, Tacita, were therefore alone as the ostiarius opened the door to admit them. He caught the eye of one of the house slaves in the atrium and bid him fetch his mistress, and Felix.

He hoped Horatia wouldn't mind his gift, however odd she might think it.

"This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina," he said as his wife made her way towards them, Felix behind her. "And my body slave, Felix."

He smiled at his wife, urging Tacita forward. "Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful."

 

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After being sold Tacita decided it was a good thing that pretty much her only belongings were in the bag she carried. She certainly had not planned on being sold upon leaving Claudus’ that morning, but such was the life of a slave. Knock on wood, her masters so far had been good and she sent up a silent prayer that this ‘luck’ would continue. When they stepped outside she saw the lictors waiting for him outside and although she knew as a Consul he had a wealth of people following him/protecting him, to see that many in person was surprising.

Tacita followed along behind Aulus, trying to memorize the route from the Emporium. When they arrived at the Domus, Aulus dismissed the lictors. Inside they stopped in the atrium and she let her gaze wander around while he caught the eye of a house slave and had him get his mistress and Felix.
They didn’t wait long for the mistress of the domus and also Felix. "This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina, And my body slave, Felix." Tacita looked in their direction and gave a curtsy in greeting. When she saw Felix she was wondering on where she knew him from- perhaps he would refresh her memory at some point.

With a gentle urging from Aulus she stepped towards her new mistress. "Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful.” She wondered what exactly she would be doing in the domus but figured she would get some instruction shortly.

@Sara@Sharpie@Chevi

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Horatia had been in her study, sorting through the papers she'd amassed over the last few days of the household; supply amounts in their stores, orders for wine, correspondence from her family and all the other mundane topics that a matron had to deal with. Her upstairs room was a sanctuary for her, and the slaves (and her children) knew to only interrupt her when there was a pressing need or she had been summoned by another family member. It was the latter today as one of the general house slaves walked in, head lowered and announcing that her husband had called for her. 

Moving gracefully down the stairs she caught Felix's eye as he likewise hurried to the atrium and gave him an amused look of 'do you know what this is about?' before she soon saw for herself. Well, at least the lictors weren't here but the small female figure next to her husband was most decidedly a new feature. She blinked at the introduction and arched a brow at Aulus. A gift? She wondered whether this was his attempt to make up for the bodyguard she was now forced to endure, or the lictors. Both were an annoyance to her, but it was sweet he should seek to make it up to her. She just wished he'd given her warning. 

"Tacita." She inclined her head. At least she had a Latin name so that wouldn't need to be changed. Her lips twitched into a wry, slightly bemused smile as she glanced at Aulus; "Thank you, you shouldn't have." She chuckled and looked curiously at the girls bag. Whatever was in it she had been permitted to keep it from wherever she came before. She then glanced to her right to Felix, trying to read his expression; she knew Rome was a village really, and some slaves knew one another from the markets and such. "I'm sure Felix would be happy to take you on a tour of the domus once we've figured out what to do with you." What did she want the girl to do?

 

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Felix could hear the lictors being dismissed as the dominus arrived back home. With twelve of them following Aulus around, he did not always need his body slave to tag along too; today had been one of those days. Felix had busied himself with small tasks until the dominus returned. And he wasn't alone.

Felix caught Horatia's look as they hurried to the atrium to greet Aulus. She didn't know what to expect either. Behing the matser of the household there was a young, shy-looking woman carrying a bag.

"This is your mistress, my wife, Horatia Justina. And my body slave, Felix. Horatia, I've brought you a gift. This is Tacita - she doesn't speak, but she does write, and is learning to read. I thought she might be useful."

He knew her. It took him a few moments to place the face, but Aulus saying she couldn't talk finally brought the memories back. He had run into her, quite literally, at the market once... had it been what, two, three years ago?

Horatia considered the gift with a somewhat reserved look.

"Tacita. Thank you, you shouldn't have. I'm sure Felix would be happy to take you on a tour of the domus once we've figured out what to do with you." 

"As you wish, domina." Aulus was probably going to get an earful about surprise slave purchases. Felix gave the girl an encouraging smile. He was not sure whether she remembered him at all. "Shall I find her a place to stay?"

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Horatia seemed confused, or bemused, or something. Not amused, though. Ah well, he'd tried. Sometimes he got it right, and sometimes he didn't - this might well prove to be one of the latter times.

He let Felix unwind the toga he was wearing; it was a cumbersome garment at the best of times and unnecessary in the house among his family. "Bring some wine into the tablinum, will you?" he said to Felix. "And yes, that would be helpful - perhaps she could help organise your library, Horatia?"

Although, being Horatia, it was probably organised already - poetry in this section, history here, with a subsection dedicated to military history; architecture here and another subsection specifically for the architecture of siege engines and the like (yes, he had found her complete set of de architectura by Vitruvius. Whether she had read it, or understood it, he didn't know, but she had it in her collection).

They would surely work something out between them; his wife was always very good at that. He ignored the fact that he might be a bit biased - it was the prerogative of every Roman husband to think that his wife was a goddess reborn, after all.

 

@Jenn @Sara @Chevi

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She heard Horatia repeat her name and then turn to her husband with a ‘Thank you, you shouldn’t have’…universally known as the being polite but you really didn’t have to do that or even better, why did you do that answer. Considering she was gift and he hadn’t known what he was going to get exactly it was pretty obvious to Tacita that she was unexpected. Horatia then went on to say that Felix would show her around after they figured out what to do with her and of course Aulus piped in with possible ideas. She felt like a young child at a party where all the adults were talking around her but not actually to her…but then again that was normal for not only a slave, but a slave who had issues with speaking.

While she stood there waiting for them to decide what to do or ask her a question she attempted to figure out how she knew Felix, but she had been around so many slaves in the past few years. She didn’t think he had come through Claudus’ shop but she couldn’t be completely sure. Tacita saw his encouraging smile and she gave him a hint of a smile back.

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Horatia arched a brow at Aulus with thinly disguised amusement. Her library was fully organised as it was, and she already had a bodyslave and such. What on earth was she going to do with a mute girl? "Why can't she speak?" She queried with an arched brow, although not unkindly. She knew some slaves had their tongues removed but this girl - slip of a thing that she was - didn't look like she'd harm a fly, so perhaps there was another reason. 

As Aulus asked Felix to bring wine to the tablinum she followed her husband through to it, gesturing for Tacita to follow her. She was an observant woman, and it had not escaped her attention from sidelong glances that Felix seemed to be trying to reassure the girl, whilst Tacita herself seemed to be glancing curiously at Felix. She surveyed the pair of them and asked, "Do you know one another?" Rome really was a village in many respects, and it wouldn't have surprised her. 

She moved to lean on the front of Aulus' desk as she sighed and tried to wrack her brain for what would be useful for the girl to do. Coming up blank she looked to Felix again, "Do you know of any needs we have in the house, that she could help with just for now whilst I find something for her to do?"

 

TAG: @Chevi @Sharpie @Jenn

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"Bring some wine into the tablinum, will you? And yes, that would be helpful - perhaps she could help organise your library, Horatia?"

"Right away, dominus." the family moved over to the tablinum, and Horatia motioned to Tacita to follow. Felix hurried for some wine and soon returned - they always kept cool wine ready in the kitchens in case the dominus asked for some. It had to feel horrible, being a gift that was not very enthusiastically received, and having your own fate discussed over your head. It was often the fate of slaves, and Felix still felt for the mute girl.

"Do you know one another?" 

"I have seen her at the market before, domina" Felix nodded. He avoided to mention that he'd tripped over the poor girl. And now she was here, a new addition to the household with really nothing to do.

"Do you know of any needs we have in the house, that she could help with just for now whilst I find something for her to do?"

Uh-oh. Felix ran over the household issues in his mind, trying to think of something the girl could do that would keep her useful, but wasn't too demeaning. 

"The gardener said he could use some assistance with the new flowerbeds" he noted, glancing at Tacita before he turned back to Horatia. "And domina mentioned a new ornatrix would be appreciated. If she has skills like that."

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"I don't know - the dealer said it was some sort of defect or impediment, but she seems intelligent enough, and it's her speech that she has trouble with - her hearing's fine," Aulus said, taking his usual seat behind his table.

His wife and body slave knew him well enough to be able to guess, correctly, that he'd felt a little sorry for the girl, stuck as the slave of a slave dealer who had probably only taken her in because he didn't think he'd be able to sell her.

He accepted the goblet of wine Felix offered him, one eyebrow lifting as his slave admitted that he already knew Tacita. Well, at least she wasn't completely surrounded by strangers. "You may take as much time as you need to show her around and introduce her to the staff, Felix," he said, and looked up at Horatia. He had rather sprung it on her, but his clever, beautiful wife would no doubt find something the girl could do, and be good at.

"All right, Tacita - this is an easy-going household. All I require is that you do your work to the best of your ability, and if you have any questions or need any help, you may ask Felix or my secretary, Xanthos - they both read."

 

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“Why can’t she speak?” It was a logical question to ask. There were some slaves who for reasons of rebellion, disobedience etc would have their tongues cut out, but that was not the case for Tacita. If she wasn’t such a well behaved slave she might have stuck her tongue out just to prove she had one….but she didn’t. In Tacita’s case, she had a voice and a sharp mind but was unable to get the two to work together- she produced sound but it was far from functional.

Aulus requested that Felix bring some wine into the Tablinum & as Felix went off to get it, he moved towards the Tablinum. Tacita noted Horatia turn to follow him, while giving a gesture for her to follow them, stopping in the middle of the room. As he sat down, he answered Horatia’s question from the atrium "I don't know - the dealer said it was some sort of defect or impediment, but she seems intelligent enough, and it's her speech that she has trouble with - her hearing's fine," A few moments later Felix returned with the chilled wine and poured some.

With the Dominus & Domina now refreshed, she noted Horatia rest herself against the edge of Aulus’ desk looking at both her and Felix. “Do you know one another” Finally a question semi-directed towards her but she wasn’t entirely sure of the answer. Felix certainly seemed familiar, but Tacita couldn’t place how she knew him. Felix answered that he had seen her at the market before but didn’t mention whether they had talked or not. She was puzzled and made a note to ask him later- the conversation switched to what she would.

Some of the possible suggestions: assisting the gardener with the flowerbeds, possibly a new ornatrix if she had the skills. Having mostly been a kitchen and general household slave of those two options she was probably more comfortable with the flowerbed option- when it came to fancy hairstyles of the nobility it wasn’t something she had an experience with. Most of her former owners had been men and therefore didn’t have those needs. Surely in time she would be assigned duties but at this point it was a ‘do what you are asked to do’ situation while they all figured each other out.

Aulus brought the attention back to himself by speaking directly to both herself and Felix. “You may take as much time as you need to show her around and introduce her to the staff, Felix. Tacita - this is an easy-going household. All I require is that you do your work to the best of your ability, and if you have any questions or need any help, you may ask Felix or my secretary, Xanthos - they both read." At the sound of her name Tacita raised her head just a bit to acknowledge that she heard him. It sounded like she had once again lucked out with regards to owners, but only time would tell. She nodded her head at his orders to do her work to the best of her ability and that if she had any questions, she could ask Felix or his secretary Xanthos as they both could read.

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Horatia watched Felix with the faintest glint of suspicion in her eyes. She liked Felix, she always had, and he'd proved himself honest and hardworking time and time again. That he knew their newest addition as to Tacita's benefit, but Horatia couldn't help but think there was more to the story than he - or Tactia herself - was letting on. Surely people didn't just run into others at the market? 

"Tacita, you may start work in the gardens for now." She nodded to Felix at the suggestion and then listened to her husband as he ran through a very short introduction to the household. She added on at the end; "And if you have any other problems you should come to me first. My husband is very busy with his role as Consul, and won't have time to deal with the concerns of a slave unless serious. Do you understand?" Besides, their system - Aulus running the families business but Horatia running the household (whilst his mother was absent, at least) worked well. 

"But for now - Felix, why don't you take Tacita on a tour of her new home and I will have a longer think over what she could be useful for." because right now, I'm drawing a blank...

 

TAG: @Chevi @Sharpie @Jenn

So sorry for the delay with this one!

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"Tacita, you may start work in the gardens for now… And if you have any other problems you should come to me first. My husband is very busy with his role as Consul and won't have time to deal with the concerns of a slave unless serious. Do you understand?" 

Tacita nodded her head in acknowledgement of Horatia’s statement. While she didn’t know first hand the workings of political positions, it didn’t take a genius to know that he would in general be too busy to deal with the concerns of a slave. Also, most women took care of the household anyway so that made sense. With that being stated, Horatia then turned her attention back to Felix.

"But for now - Felix, why don't you take Tacita on a tour of her new home and I will have a longer think over what she could be useful for."

Once again she was being talked about as if she wasn’t even in the room…but then again she used to that. Tacita for many years required people to ‘translate’ her gestures- ‘communication’ can only happen when people understand what you are trying to say. Tacita adjusted the bag hanging from her shoulder and waited for Felix to lead the way.  

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"Right away, domina" Felix nodded, gesturing to Tacita "Come this way."

It was better to have the girl walk away from the dominus and his wife, and take a moment for the new household to sink in. It had to be hard that she wasn't able to communicate well. "Let's find you a room first" he added. Many of the household slaves shared rooms, it was just a matter of finding a free bed for her. "So... you can't talk, but you hear. And you write when you want to tell someone something, right?"

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“Right away, Domina…Come this way” As Felix gestured for her to follow him Tacita, with one more glance in Horatia and Aulus’ direction gave a bow of respect and turned to catch up to Felix. Once again, her life’s path had taken a detour, but so far it seemed the gods were on her side. So far each place she had ‘landed’ had either been tolerable or actually benefitted her in some way-it would just be a matter of time before she saw if this place would be the same…but so far so good.

She heard Felix go on to say about finding her a free bed to sleep in. Tacita wasn’t overly picky when it came to sleeping arrangements. All she wanted was a roof over her head and a place to lay her head at night. “So…you can’t talk, but you hear. And you write when you want to tell someone something, right?” Tacita pointed to her throat and shook her head no then pointed to her ears and nodded yes. As for writing she carried a tablet in the bag at her side which Tacita opened enough for him to see. Writing for her was still very rudimentary but she was practicing as often as she could. She held up a hand for him to pause a moment. Taking out the tablet she scratched out a brief reply. [“For quick conversation yes/no is easiest & gestures as writing take time but I work on it.”] With that said, she put the tablet back down by her side and let him lead the way once more.

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Yes, she could hear, no, she didn't speak. And yes, she did write. Felix paused to read the letters, hurriedly scratched but decent enough.

"Writing works, if you need anything." Felix smiled, resuming the walk. He opened a door to one of the smaller rooms; two beds taken up by two girls from the household, and the third empty (although currently occupied by some tunicas). "Does this one work for you?" he asked, glancing back at Tacita. Yes or no questions. "The other two girls work in the kitchen. We can go find you some blankets and supplies and... what you need."

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