A conversation from the Aristasian story The Princess and the Captain:

“D’you think we’ll get into awful trouble?” asked ‘Lannie. “When they catch us, I mean.”

“No, love,” replied Sharrie. “In Novaria a maid’s duty is to do whatever her mistress tells her. If she don’t do that she’s breaking the law. But if she does, she’s in the clear. Any misdemeanour is the responsibility of the mistress.”

The two girls stood facing each other in the ship’s galley in their short black dresses and starched white aprons. Sharrie had been the best cocktail waitress in Chelverton when Princess Melenhe had offered her more money and a life of adventure. After all, one could hardly take to the Aethyr without decent cocktails.

“It’s not like that back home in Quirinelle is it, Sharrie?”

“No, love. In Quirinelle individuals are equal in the eyes of the law, but in Novaria bonded maids are regarded in the light of their bond.”

“But we did volunteer to come up ‘ere with ‘Er ‘Ighness, didn’t we?”

“That don’t make no difference. A maid is supposed to serve her mistress at all times, and whether the mistress is doing wrong is entirely her responsibility – unless she’s under age. Now ‘Er ‘Ighness is under age — but so are we. So if anyone is punished it will still be ‘er, so long as we’re in Novaria, and since it’s a Novarian ship, any proceedings will be Novarian, won’t they?”

“Greenies! You ain’t half well up in the law, Sharrie.”

“You want to be when you get involved in this sort o’ business.”

“But what about ‘Er ‘Ighness? Won’t she get in trouble?”

“She thinks the old Vikhar will get ‘er orf any bother. I don’t know. But she says: ‘Sharrie, are you game for the biggest joy-ride in history? I promise you won’t get into any trouble, but we might all get killed’. So I says: ‘All right’. Then I says that to you, and you says ‘all right’ too. Well, you’re only young once, ain’t you? And if the mistresses ain’t chicken I don’t see why we should be.”

“That’s ‘ow I see it too. Anyway, they’ll look after their own skins, I reckon.”

“I wouldn’t reckon too much on that, love. That Miss Antala don’t care about nothin’.”

“It’s Captain Antala now, Sharrie.”

“Maybe it is; but she still don’t care about nothin’. Come on, hurry up with them cocktails or we won’t even be obeying our mistress. Then we’ll be offenders in Novaria too!”

You can start reading The Princess and the Captain here.

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