“Hey Camile.“ Zephyr replied. “We’re splitting the coin.” He said, not correcting the mistake. Joulan opened his mouth but before he could object Camile gestured that the casks be brought inside. “I’ve split a lot of things but never a penny.” The lady gave a chuckle as the boys brought in their delivery. Wafts of savory spice filled the room as they were led from the entrance into the kitchen. A cook sang to himself as he prepared meals for the patrons. The aroma of fresh food was enough to set Joulan’s stomach off. A loud rumble came from the youth followed shortly after by one from Zephyr. Camile gave a laugh.
“Two birds of a feather,” She said. “What’s your name?” She said looking at Joulan.
“Joulan. Ma’am” He replied.
“Ma’am? Ma’am? Do I look like a Ma’am?” She teased, which drew a bright flush from the boy’s cheeks.
“No, sorry I mean.” Joulan tried to explain. Camile just laughed.
“No need, I’m just teasing ya, hun.” She said. “Jo’s a nice name though.” She turned and gave Zephyr a wink. Joulan just lowered his head. Cheeks still rosey.
Camile took the pair into a small pantry where they dropped the wooden barrels off to one side. Joulan rubbed his shoulder. It had grown stiff on the journey there. They exited the room and made their way back into the kitchen. Two small plates of food were made up upon a small wooden table there. The cook shot the boys a smile and returned to his work.
“Right, you’ve got a quarter turn. Eat up love.” Camile said with a wave to the food. “Meantime I’ve got some other appetites to fill, see yourself out Zep.” She said. The boys nodded their agreement and were steered to the table by their stomachs. Both dug into the food. Camile left through a curtained doorway leaving them on their own with the cook engaged in his work.
“Does everyone feed you?” Joulan said with half a mouth full. Zephyr just grunted in reply taking a small bite from a piece of cheese. “No wonder you’re getting fat.” Joulan jested but Zephyr’s eyes were on the drapes.
Without warning Zephyr jumped to his feet and strode over to the hanging cloth. It was split down the middle and he opened them just enough to peek out.
“Horse Dung, they’re not there.” He said.
“Who’s not there?” Joulan replied as he snagged a piece of fruit from the plate in front of him.
“Come on, let’s go.” Zephyr said to Joulan as he pulled his friend to his feet.
“Go where?” Joulan said as Zephyr dragged him in toe.
“Upstairs, The Overseer. He’s taken a fancy to one of the new girls.” Zephyr explained as he led Joulan to a narrow stairway behind the table they’d sat at. The servants entrance. Joulan figured. There was barely enough room for the two young boys to maneuver the stairway let alone an adult. “Cherry, her name is, pretty thing. Too pretty for here at least.” Zephyr continued his explanation in a decreasingly low whisper. It was more of a climb than a walk up the stairs. They traversed two flights before they reached the third floor. No building had more than three floors in Shanty.