“We did not ask for an…” Kurga started to say but Prudence cut him off.
“We are humbled by his eminence’s generosity. They will be happy to accompany you.”
“The invitation was for all.”
“I am merely their humble porter. The Chief Steward has seen me before and knows this to be true. I am not fit company for his Excellency and would dishonor his court with my presence. I honor him instead by not dragging my impure feet through his rugs.” Kurga wondered how much it hurt the enormous pride of Prudence to make such a self-effacing speech. The major domo seemed to accept the answer however and so he took a chance himself.
“I also would beg his indulgence in this matter. As a servant, I handle the logistics of the journey and leave the holier matters to the holy. I too would not deign to insult the Emperor with my ignorance in matters too high for me.”
Khop’s expression did not change; the straight-backed servant could have been made of the same sandstone as the wharf for all he gave away. At last he turned to the damp and panting Ch’Voga. “And you? Will you speak to the Emperor or is one who demeans one’s self to do the physical labor for one’s own porter and servant too lowly or too holy perhaps to indulge the Emperor of the lands he traverses and the benefactor who’s goods he loads?”
Ch’Voga swallowed to find enough spit for his voice. “I’d be delighted!” he wheezed. With only a hint of embarrassment, he took the briefest dustbath with sand from the wharf, donned his outer robes again, quickly arranged his turban, making a mess of it as usual. Kurga went to give him a hand, realizing only now that their lives may be in his inept paws.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“Could I refuse without insulting them?”
“Good because it is for this reason I have come! A chance to speak with the Emperor! Imagine!”
“The Emperor of an empire of dirt,” Prudence sneered under her breath so the major-domo’s alert ears would not hear. “What will you say?”
“Only what Yah wishes me to say. “And you will be brought before both governors and kings because of me, for a witness to them and to the Gentiles. But whenever they hand you over, do not be anxious how to speak or what you should say, for what you should say will be given to you at that hour. For you are not the ones who are speaking, but the Spirit of your Father who is speaking through you.”” With this, he turned, “I am ready, my lord.”
“I’m afraid he’s going to say something remarkably stupid,” Prudence said watching him go in the company of the Steward and his escort.
“In only what Yah wishes him to say?” Kurga asked.
“That is exactly what worries me. The man whom he quoted was executed for that very thing.”