The Concubine's Apprentice Ch. 01bySapphos Sister©
The first rays of sunlight crept through the casement window with the unhurried stealth of a Samarian thief. Stirred from her dream-sodden sleep, Sarila reached across to embrace her lover, Mansur, but found yet again only emptiness in her bed.
Wistfully she turned over and, hitching the thin night shift above her hips, slipped her hand between her thighs. Up to and beyond the soft, giving lips her fingers ventured until their tips found the dark pearl within. Deftly she stroked herself. With her free hand, Sarila teased and pinched her crimson nipples, as Mansur used to do, feeling them harden between her fingers as her clitoris too hardened, moistened and swelled. For a few forgetful, exquisite minutes she pretended that her hands were his, until she came in short, sobbing whimpers, whispering his name. Only then, relieved of her wanting for another day, could she rouse herself to abandon her bed and its tear-stained pillow.
Outside the bedchamber, Umay, who had been awaiting her mistress's wakening, responded at once to her call.
'Good morning, mistress. Shall I dress you, or will you first take breakfast?'
'Good morning, Umay,' Sarila smiled wanly. 'Please have a bath drawn. A Syrian girl comes to us today and I must prepare myself for her.' The servant pouted at the news of this arrival.
'Now, now, Umay. Do not sulk. Everyday you become prettier, and soon I shall recommend your talents to our master. But, for now, you and I must look after this girl. There is much to be done today. So let us make haste.'
After bathing their mistress, Umay and the maids-in-waiting massaged and oiled her, washed, brushed and garlanded her hair. Then they dressed her in rose-coloured damask pants, a smock of white silk gauze, embroidered with golden flowers, and a waistcoat of red and gold satin. Umay threaded her ears with jewelled pendants, clasped her ankles and wrists with gold bangles and swathed her throat with gold and silver necklaces. As Sarila stood before the looking glass, her maids surveyed their mistress: as majestic as a princess, as beautiful as a goddess.
After lunching on honey and yoghurt, Sarila received her guest in the salon. There she sprawled across her divan like a sensuous, bejewelled serpent basking in the sunlight.
A tall girl followed Umay into the room. Or, at least, Sarila presumed she was a girl. Hooded in a kaftan that reached to her ankles, little of her face or form was visible. Only briefly did she look up to register the room to which she had been brought.
'Sit, my child. You must be thirsty. Have some wine.'
The girl, her head lowered, sat on the edge of her chair, as though ready to take flight at the slightest opportunity. She took the cup of wine proffered by Umay but did not raise it to her lips. With her other hand she picked disconsolately at the stitching of her sleeve.
'What is your name?' asked Sarila.
'Leila,' whispered the girl, her eyes still avoiding the older woman's searching gaze.
'No longer, I'm afraid.' said Sarila sadly. 'Henceforth, you will be called Akasma. I am sorry, but this is a new life for you and your master requires that you have a new name. Do not fret. It is a pretty name – the climbing rose – and you'll soon become used to it. How old are you, Akasma?'
'Eighteen,' muttered the girl hesitantly, as if reluctant to acknowledge her new identity.
Eighteen, thought Sarila. A mere eight years younger than I – and yet, it might as well be a lifetime. She recalled with wonder the trepidation with which she had entered the palace so long ago. Was that child really me, she mused.
'Akasma, you know why you're here, don't you?'
'I'm to be his wife,' the young girl hissed. The word 'his' was spat out and, for the briefest moment, Sarila saw two pure white irises flash from within the hood, stark against her beech-brown skin.
The older girl laughed.
'Hardly, my dear. Even I have not been afforded that honour. The Grand Vizier, our master, is not seeking a wife. No, you will be his concubine and live in the harem with your seventeen sisters.' Akasma glanced up only briefly before returning her concentration to the unstitching of her sleeve..
'A concubine,' continued Sarila, 'is a privileged position afforded only to the very few. It is not enough to be beautiful. You will need to work hard to gain and keep your master's interest.'
'I don't want to be his whore!' screached the girl.
'You will find that it is better to be your master's ....' Sarila hesitated, '..... companion than to be thrown onto the streets where you surely will become a whore.'
Sarila let the girl sit silently for a few moments and then said gently, 'Akasma, life here can be very agreeable if you are willing to learn. Once I was like you, a young, frightened girl admitted into the harem as an odalisque. But I watched and waited and learned. Now I am my master's kadin, his chosen one. I have my own apartment here in his palace, maids' – she gestured to Umay, who smiled – 'and a eunuch. You will live with me here for the next few weeks and I shall teach you. Who knows, one day, like the climbing rose after which you are named, you will rise to enjoy such a position yourself.'
Sarila turned to the maid. 'Umay, will you leave us?'
She beckoned the girl to sit beside her on the divan. Grudgingly, she did so. The kadin stroked her hands with her own.
'My dear, I want to be your sister. Will you call me Sarila?'
The girl looked slightly less alarmed, but still remained stiff and downcast.
'I shall teach you many things: movement and dance, embroidery, poetry, music, calligraphy and, of course, the more erotic arts. It will be hard work but it will be fun too. Will you be my friend?'
Timidly the girl lifted her head and, from under the hood, smiled briefly.
'What a lovely smile you have. Let me see your face.'
Shyly Akasma removed the hood.
Sarila thought her the most sublime creature she had ever seen. Long, silken hair, as black and shining as a moonlit lake, veiled almond eyes, each a dark brown island set in a sea as white as lilies. Her nutbrown skin was smooth and tightly draped her high cheekbones. And her lips .... the dear, coral curve of her lips begged only to be kissed, and kissed, and kissed again.
Regarding her beauty, Sarila was reminded of Mansur whose delicate face so belied his manliness. Tears pricked her eyes at the memory of her lover. She sipped at her wine while she composed herself.
'I have heard reports of your radiance but they do you no justice.'
Akasma blushed, bathing her face in a ruddy glow. Sarila stroked her flushed cheek.
'Now, my child, I should like you to undress so that I can see with what material I shall create my masterpiece.'
Akasma grasped the kaftan to her more tightly.
'Come, come, my dear, we are sisters. Go behind the screen and undress for me. Nobody else will see you.'
A few moments later, the girl emerged from behind the screen. She stood before Sarila in only her knickers. Her arms were crossed, hiding her breasts, and her legs too crossed at the ankles. Sarila stepped slowly towards her like a rider approaching a frightened foal. Gently she drew her arms to her sides and tugged at her knickers. Akasma straightened her legs and the undergarment fell to the floor.
The kadin stood back in order to take in the treasure before her. Her skin owned the same creamy brown complexion as her face. The loveliness of her curves, of her generous bosom and buttocks, her tapering thighs, the smoothness of her stomach and the slim elegance of her arms and neck bewitched Sarila. In the deep dell between her legs her womanhood was hidden within a lush thicket of dark curls.
'How the boys must have wept when you left the village,' said Sarila. 'And how the girls must have rejoiced.' Akasma stared at her feet, concealing her face behind a curtain of satin hair.
'Put on your gown and come sit beside me,' said the older woman.
By the time she did so, Sarila had recovered her poise. She explained that their studies would begin on the following day.
'Now Umay will bathe you, oil and robe you in a gown befitting your new position. Later you should rest. But before then you have an appointment with our master's physician who will confirm that you are intact.'
The kadin knew from the girl's very demeanour that this was mere formality.
She pondered for a moment, 'And I fear that Umay will have to trim and wax that lovely bush of yours. Our learned doctor is no huntsman and prefers ....' she sought in vain a delicate term '..... a clear sight of his quarry.' Akasma blushed again.
'You should do that more often,' laughed Sarila, 'it makes you yet more beautiful.'
Akasma proved herself to be an able, willing pupil, and she and her teacher each enjoyed their lessons.
Sarila taught the young girl about the poems of Namik Kamal and Semsettin Sami and of older poets such as Ali Sir Neval and Seyh Galip. Soon Akasma was writing her own poetry. She was skilled too on the tanbur and learned swiftly the intricacies and possibilities of the instrument. When they studied calligraphy, Sarila learned that the girl's writing was elegant and orderly with flourishes that reflected a creative mind.
At first Akasma was shy as Sarila began to unfold the mysteries and guiles of the bedchamber but, the kadin noted, she had a curious and sensual nature, which bode well for her career in the harem. Tentatively they explored all the caresses by which a woman's tongue, lips and limbs can rouse the weariest lover. Akasma adopted a myriad postures and positions to receive her lover, each named after a flower or famous concubine and all of which, the kadin assured her, would drive the Vizier wild with desire. Akasma learned how to tie lovers' knots to bind her bedmate so that she might torment him with her new found skills of foreplay. Later, using an unpeeled banana, and with much giggling, she was tutored in fellatio, and how to heighten and prolong her master's pleasure or bring it to a speedy climax.
Sarila was proud of her student and only the anticipation of the purpose to which she would lend her arts saddened her heart. For gradually, so closely did the two girls live and eat and sleep, and so sweet-natured and pure of spirit was Akasma that her mistress forged an affection for her that would not have been misnamed if called love. It is the love of friends or sisters, thought Sarila, perhaps a little too blithely.
One afternoon the two girls devoted their lesson to the practice upon each other of 'the hundred kisses' and, in particular, Akasma's favourites: 'The Bee's Sting' and 'The Dancing Swans'. Slowly, as Sarila feasted upon the young girl's lips, it dawned on her that for whole minutes she had laid the memory of Mansur to rest. Mere loneliness, she thought. Giddy with the strangeness and intensity of such feelings for another woman, she reassured herself that it was only a crush and, in any event, was entirely one-sided.
That evening Sarila asked Akasma how she had come to the harem. She was, she said, of good birth, born to a merchant in a small village near Damascus. Her childhood – shared with a sister, Zada – had been happy and prosperous .... until their father bettered a business rival in some commercial arrangement that she did not understand. When that rival became the mayor of the city, he was determined to destroy her father. And by lies and cheating that is what he did. The family had lost everything and the father, shamed by his fall from prosperity and the slanders that he could not disprove, had killed himself. Akasma had been claimed by the mayor and her mother had reluctantly consented to her departure, glad that she would have one less mouth to feed. The Grand Vizier's deputy had seen Akasma on her arrival at the mayor's palace and had persuaded him that she would be a fitting gift to the Vizier. And so, Akasma had come to Istanbul.
During the night, Sarila was woken from the depths of her dreams by a long, lamenting wail. She hastened over to the divan where she discovered Akasma shaking and sobbing.
'It's my father, they're killing him ....... killing him!' she moaned.
'There, there, my child, it's only a dream, just a silly dream,' murmured the kadin, as she kissed the young girl's sweat-soaked forehead. Akasma clung to her hand, still tormented by the vividness of her nightmare.
'Tonight, you must sleep with me,' insisted Sarila. 'I shall make sure that nothing can harm you.'
She bundled Akasma into her bed, snuggled up against her and folded her arms tightly around her. The young girl settled a little.
'Thank you, Sarila,' murmured Akasma gratefully.
'Hush, my little swallow,' said Sarila. 'Fold away your wings. Tomorrow we shall fly again.'
Gently she stroked the young girl's long, sleek hair between her fingers. And, as she did so, sang to her softly.
Lay your head upon my pillow, Rest your cheek against my breast. Come the night, the soaring swallow Seeks the comfort of her nest.
Hush your words, for words are hollow, Silence brings its own release. Though the winds may beat and bellow, By and by the storm will cease.
Close you eyes and dreams will follow, Sleep and I shall soothe your brow. The sun will rise again tomorrow But that is then and this is now.
'That is beautiful,' muttered Akasma drowsily, relishing the warmth of her mistress's voice, the tenderness of her embrace. 'Will you sing it again?'
And so Sarila sang the lullaby again, and again, until the young girl fell asleep in her arms.
By the time Sarila awoke, the dawn had already completed its work, washing the bedchamber in a dozen shades of saffron and gold. Still wrapped around the soft, supple curves of Akasma's slumbering body, she could feel that her mound was moist, pressed against the young girl's bottom, and her nipples, hard as pebbles, dimpled her back. How different she feels from Mansur, she thought, and from that oaf, the Vizier. Sarila breathed in the musky scent of sleep upon her and felt her slow pulse resound through her own body.
Meanwhile, Akasma too had woken and, aroused by her bedmate's caresses and thinking her still asleep, slid a hand under her own nightdress and up between her legs. Sarila, startled but amused, yawned theatrically, halting the young girl's progress.
'Are you awake, my child? Good. We have a long day. Ask Umay to draw us each a bath.'
After lunch, Akasma burst into the bedchamber, giggling. Sarila knew that the pupil's playfulness masked embarrassment at her more intimate studies and, she suspected, the pleasure she derived from them. Today, thought Sarila, we shall see how shy she really is.
'What shall we practise today?' asked Akasma. "The Butterfly Kiss", "The Flowering of the Crocus" or perhaps "Riding the White Stallion"? What is it to be, wise teacher?' She curtsied mockingly.
'This afternoon,' replied the kadin, folding her hands across her lap in the manner, she supposed, of a stern governess, 'I shall watch you pleasure yourself.'
The girl's reaction was immediate. 'What?' she shrieked, blushing. 'I can't do that.'
Sarila laughed. 'Why ever not? I know that you like to, my child. And how can I be sure you will please your lover if you cannot please yourself. Now take off your clothes as I have taught you.'
Sarila strode to the door and summoned the eunuch. Akasma folded her arms and bit her lip in sullen defiance.
'Pick up your santur and play us a love tune, Alessandro. A romantic fable of absent warriors and lovelorn damsels. Your young mistress is going to entertain us and, I hope, herself.'
Akasma stared down at her feet woefully but, as Alessandro began to pluck the strings, she unfolded her arms and slowly peeled off her silk jacket. Despite her reluctance, her hips began to sway in time to the music. The melody filled the room and mingled with the sultry scents of jasmine and incense. Akasma threw her head forwards and a cascade of liquid tresses swept her face. As her head rocked back and forth, waves of hair, black as midnight, slid across her eyes and cheeks like tides assailing a moonlit beach. Slowly her belly, shoulders and buttocks were captured by the rhythm. Teasingly she loosed her smock and drew from each sleeve a willow-slim arm. Then she slipped the smock over her head, releasing another torrent of locks crashing around her shoulders and hiding her lovely breasts within its tide. She covered the nipples with her folded arms and grinned at the kadin whilst back and forwards her hips and belly swung.
Turning her back on her mistress, she drew her arms above her head. Sarila stared, mesmerised, as her ripe, round buttocks, tight against the thin damask skirt, rolled and pitched like two luscious melons in a sack. Akasma turned again to face her teacher and, revealing her damson-dark nipples, licked her fingers and languidly traced a trail from her pink lips down her breasts, brushing her nipples, and across her stomach to her hips. She released her skirt and slowly, slowly it slid down her outstretched legs to the floor, leaving her naked but for thin, gauze knickers and thigh-length stockings. Her fingers tugged at the panties tantalisingly as she gazed enquiringly of her mistress.
'Slip off your knickers, but leave your stockings,' replied Sarila with a matter-of-factness that belied the confusion of her feelings. The sight of the cream silk veiling Akasma's slim, brown legs made the kadin squirm with excitement.
The young Syrian slid her knickers down her legs and crept onto the bed with cat-like grace. Perched on her haunches and leaning backwards, she clasped her hands and closed her eyes, as if composing herself for prayer. For a full minute she sat still as a statue. Then, with the merest hint of a smile, she thrust her fingers into herself and began to rub vigorously.
'Stop! Stop! What are you doing?'
Startled, Akasma stilled her hand as Alessandro's fingers too froze on the fretboard.
'You're not pumping water at the village well, you silly goose. If you handle your master's cock as you treat your cunny, he'll soon have you eating with the dogs. Here, let me show you. Play on, Alessandro.' She clapped her hands impatiently.
Sarila walked over to the bed and, throwing off her jacket and shoes, knelt behind her pupil. She pressed against her back and leant her chin on Akasma's shoulder. The two girls began to sway slowly, rhythmically to Alessandro's exquisite music. Sarila's mouth was so close to the young girl's ear that, as she spoke, her tongue and lips were almost brushing against the ruby pendant hanging from it.
'Why should your lover honour you if you will not honour yourself?' she whispered. Her hands encircled Akasma's waist and ventured upwards to cup her breasts, rolling them lovingly. Slowly she ran her thumbs across the stiff little nipples and drew small circles around each with the tips of her fingers. Akasma let out a long, low sigh as she relaxed against the older woman.
'In the bedroom there must never be haste. Enjoy the eternity of the present. Every second is a lifetime and every hour a mere moment. Do you understand?'
Akasma murmured assent. Against Sarila's cheek her breath was as sweet as cinnamon.
The teacher licked her fingers and threaded the pupil's hardened nipples between them, squeezing them lightly and then a little harder.
'So firm and yet as delicate as rosebuds. What beautiful breasts you have, sweet, sweet Akasma.'
By now the younger girl, panting hard, was sitting in her mistress's lap, her legs, slick and damp and splayed wide.
As Sarila nuzzled Akasma's neck, her hands glided to her navel and pelvis. The pupil leant back to ease the passage of her mistress's fingers. She curled a thin wisp of matted hair around her fingers and pressed the mound above her cunny with the heel of her hand. As soft and smooth as a satin cushion, thought Sarila. Akasma let out a long, low moan. The two women swayed in unison to the beat of the music like shafts of barley, ruffled by a breeze. Two slippery fingers, wetted by Akasma's juices, stroked and penetrated her lips. Then they explored her slim cavern, moving in and out in time to Alessandro's music and her body's own rhythms. Next they withdrew and slid around the base of her clit.