The Beautiful Woman Has Come

The Beautiful Woman Has Come
A Historical Novel by Debra Giuffrida

Saturday, October 6, 2012

No Honey Dews Today

I have to laugh, as a reluctant author I can find an excuse not to write everywhere I look, but this week it has been a piece of cake. My other half has been working at home the last few days and thus our definition of proper work environment has been put to the test.

Mine consists of complete quiet, a cup of coffee with cream or perhaps one of tea, my dog curled up at my feet and the cat stretched out on her window perch, sunning herself, purring. Peaceful, serene, conducive to thoughts of ancient history and love. His, on the other hand, is sitting in front of his computer with the TV on some moldy rerun from the 60's or 70's or perhaps, if it is the weekend, a cooking show--nonstop food from dawn to dusk.

So you see how this could be a problem, for me, not for him.

It's been a week and I am going insane. My romance novel is stalled and my New Idea is also bobbing along in the doldrums. What am I to do? I hate writing anywhere but at home and my other half puts up a huge stink if I complain about the noise. So should I just buck up and stop complaining? What do mothers do when they have children underfoot crying (literally) for attention as well as the spouse wondering where dinner is, or a clean sock, or a bar of soap because the whole lot of them are as helpless as a newborn lamb? I haven't the foggiest. Nor do I want to contemplate their dilemma.

So instead of moaning and mooning about the house I go outside and work with my horse. He is getting sick of seeing me. In fact when he spies me walking towards him he trots off to the far end of his paddock and turns his back to me. Sick of getting groomed...yep, just tired of it all, same as me, same as me.

Thought I would post a tidbit from my romance.

Unquiet My Heart, copyright 2012, Debra Giuffrida, all rights reserved.

     “Come neb! Pick up that spear tip! You, there, have you ever drawn a bow?” I shook my head. “Gone for one flooding and you all become a bunch of little nebets!” A bowman behind me laughed. I turned to him, looked him up and down. His laughter died in his throat. “You, neb, hit that bird, there!” I swiveled and pointed at a marsh duck winging its way with two others.
Without hesitation he raised his bow and drew the string taut, the arrows fletch between his fingers, resting against his cheek. He aimed, following his preys advance, judging the trajectory. His fingers uncurled letting the arrow fly, zinging through the hot air. It found its target, sending the bird plummeting to the ground.
    With a whistle and a sweep of my arm, my hounds, exploring close by, cast out to retrieve the fallen water fowl. I turned back to the bowman, clapped him on the back. He was all smiles, I was not.
    “As it should be. I expect no less,” I said. The smile disappeared from the soldiers face. “What is your name, bowman?”
    “MinNakht, Lord General,” the bowman replied, standing stiffly at attention, a single bead of sweat rolling down his smooth brow.
    “How old are you MinNakht?”
    “I have seen 16 floodings, Lord General!” he yelled, his chest puffed with pride for being singled out.
    “You have skill,” I said indicating the bow in his hand with a nod of my head.
    MinNakht stood stiffly, his eyes watching me walk around him, coming at last to face the young bowman. 
“Hence forth, you will lead your squad. You are to instruct your company, teach them what you know.”
    “As you command, Lord General!” he yelled, his eyes widening, a smile returning to his lips.
    “Go, neb.” The new squad leader hesitated. “Now!” MinNakht saluted me then turned back to his attentive comrades who gathered round him all talking at once.
    “Menena, attend me,” I called, out scanning the arena, to the chief scribe of my forces of Ptah.
    “As always, Lord General,” he said running up to me, his shaven head gleaming in the sun. He carried his reed case and palette slung over his shoulder.
    “I want you to record the change in rank of that bowman, there.” I pointed. “MinNakht, I promoted him to squad leader, see that he is compensated accordingly.”
    “Yes, Lord General,” Menena said.
    “Check that ledger of yours, do we have our full compliment yet?”
     “No, Lord General, we only have half the number we will need,” he said then lowered his head to check his ledger, “roughly five companies of 200 each,” he said frowning. I walked off, watching my men practicing their skills and learning new ones. My stomach muscles clenched with the knowledge that we were weak, vulnerable to our enemy. What would I tell MaatKaRe when she asked after her armies readiness? Leaving their preparedness to others while I traipsed about the empire at my Per A’a’s beck and call wasn’t an excuse. I was the General, their condition rested on my shoulders. I would ultimately take the blame for their failures, should the unthinkable happen. The gods help us if it did. Menena quickened his steps to keep up with my longer strides. We passed the commander of a company of infantry who stood at attention and saluted me.
     “Djhutmose,” Menena said for my ears only.
     “Djhutmose” I called out, returning the commanders salute, walking on.
     “Menena, how many maryannu do we have.”
     “Well,” Menena exhaled through his nose, then took a breath. “We have chariots for 200, but only enough trained horses for half that number,” he said referring to his ledger.
     I stopped short, turned and looked at him, my hands clenched into fists.
     “What? How?” Then with a sigh of resignation, “get a message to, to, oh, what is his name….” My frustration was growing with each new revelation.
     “KhnumMoses, he’s the,” I looked at Menena and raised an eyebrow.
     “Nomarch of [---].”
     “Yes, Nomarch of [---]. He has at least as many trained chariot horses and access to experienced Naharini drivers if need be.”
    “Yes, Lord General, at once.” He made a notation in his ledger.
    My hounds ran up to my side, one with the duck between his jaws, the others’ tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, lips pulled back in a human-like grin. The one with the duck between his jaws sat in front of me and gingerly placed the dead bird at my feet. I squatted down and picked up the duck, patting the dogs head, ruffling his long-haired ears. He closed his eyes in pleasure, his tongue clinking as he panted as much from exertion as from the day’s heat. Menena and the dogs fell in step with me.
We passed by the cooks gauze covered pavilion where they were preparing food for MaatKaRe’s army. I tossed the duck to one of the cooks helpers.
     “This is for my table.” 
     The young boy caught the bird, eyed the arrow in the birds neck, then nodded his head and bowed at the waist.
     “I have to leave soon,” I said to Menena and he nodded. “But, I want everything,” I swept the field with my arm, “ready for inspection when I return.”
     “Yes, Lord General, whom will I entrust this task to?”
     I paused, pursed my lips and rubbed my chin. “Who do you recommend?” I asked though I had someone in mind. Menena’s shrewd opinion, with his knowledge of gossip and secrets, rivaled no mans.
     “That one, back there,” he said, meaning Commander Djhutmose. I raised an eyebrow. “He is fair with his men, Lord General, and he is loyal to MaatKaRe and to you. He will see that the Per A’a’s army is ready.”
     “Then, let is be so. Write up the necessary orders and I will affix my seal.”
     “As you command, Lord General,” Menena said bowing at the waist as I turned and left the small pudgy scribe.
     YaYa was lounging inside the relative cool of my sunshade. As I approached, my hounds raced ahead and jumped up on my body servant, barking and yipping. YaYa laughed, rubbing their ears then pushed them away.
     “I’m leaving, YaYa, prepare Nahgua,” I said not relishing the thought of this new assignment. 
    “Yes, Lord Prince,” he said bowing at his waist, hands on his knees. He stood up and approached me, unlaced my breastplate and removed it, cradling it in his arms.
     “Leave me,” I growled, not in any mood for company. On her perch, my hooded raptor fluttered her wings and squawked at my sharp tone. My neck muscles where stiff and sore. With closed eyes I rolled my head around rubbing the back of my neck, listening to the creaks and cracks. Untying my sword belt, I let it and my sword drop to the ground, then sat heavily on a deep-seated, high-backed leather chair. A jar of wine sat on a the small side table next to a silver bowl full of dates. Pouring a cup full of wine I took a mouth full, rolled it around once before swallowing. I popped a few dates into my mouth, chewed and spit the pits out in a fine trajectory, watching them hit the sand outside the sunshade.
     With wine and dates in my belly, my body started to relax, allowing my thoughts to wander. I dozed.
     The smell of roasted marsh duck roused me from my sleep. YaYa was standing behind a table laid out for my meal. I stood, stretched, yawned and scratched myself. YaYa handed me a small ewer, I pulled off my nemes and dumped the sun-warmed water over my upturned face, allowing it to run down my neck and onto my shoulders. Blindly I reached for the towel that YaYa held out for me and wiped off the sweat, grit and water.
     I hadn’t realized how famished I was until I took a bite of the roasted bird and tasted the tangy moist meat. It had been stuffed with a mixture of bread and onions and raisins. Chewing and swallowing with relish and satisfaction, I noisily licked the grease from the crispy skin off my fingers, one by one and washed the meal down with more of the wine.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


  1. I love this excerpt! And the image at the top is great, that the cover art? It's gorgeous!

  2. Hello Lavender!
    I am glad you like the excerpt. It's still a bit rough but... As to the cover art, yes that is it. But not the final form. I found the original on the internet many years ago. Never could find the artist. And now I can't find the original anywhere. But I have recreated it, just have to scan it in and fly with it.

  3. Horsie! I wish I had a horsie I could go outside and be with :-)
    Your set up sounds like mine on the days when we're both home together. I try my darndest to tune out the TV. Some days it works better than others...