The peaks were pale, the shields were diamond.
Violet brushed a lock from her forehead absently, as she would an insect. Flies loved sweat here in India. She thought she knew the central plain but she had only heard of it
and northern jungles and eastern rivers and dark races in the south. Mysteries of gems were everywhere in India like flies. Men took them like women. Gems and women were sculpted for men's eyes.
The gems were cut and polished.
The women were cut, polished, and instructed.
Violet came to instruct.
She had held positions at the mission school and at the government's. Now she taught the 7 daughters of the prince and in the evenings the score of servants' children behind the garden where the mosquitos were the worst. This did not surprise Violet.
Sweat soaked the stuff of her bodice under her arms. It trickled down between her breasts and once along the side of her face. She wiped it away with a curl of her hand. The room where she taught was round, furnished with woven mats colored like ivory and the narrow windows adjoining all the way around the room were shaded by canted arabesques, ivory, carven, so Violet liked to think. It made her smile. They were just shades permitting a unique panorama of the encroaching and encompassing trees. Palms, some of them, and mango, frangipani, hibiscus skirted them and nasturtiums sheltered their feet. Elephants punctuated.
The feet of her 7 pupils were sheathed in brocade slippers. The 7 drank milk at dawn, and tea at 10 and then, if no 1 were watching, they giggled softly together fabricating dreams from leaves. They weren't yet concerned about assurances so Violet said nothing.
Her cloth shoes rotted quickly. Here was another pair split as she stood upon the mats and with her hands clasped before her listened to the song the 7were singing for her a song of their great-grandmother's circumcision and her grandmother's walk through coals while her nostrils were pierced and 12 darts twisted the devoted flesh of her Hindoo back.
Violet said, "you've come."
The lieutenant swept his bright plumed helmet from his head. His black locks escaped and nearly reached his shoulders. Red tunic touched turquoise of the cloudless sky.
"I said that I would."
"How long have you been in India?"
"Since the revolution."
"The insurrection? But that was 30 years ago."
Violet gray-eyed regarded his young sharp-featured face; she gazed into his shadowed brown eyes. "You have come."
"Will you escort me from the summer into the vernal hills, Esme(e)?"
"You forsake your charges?"
"We all go."
"Ah. I should have guessed. You would do no less."