Chapter Eight

After the presentation of the statue, a ten foot granite statue of Hatshepsut that to Rose seemed no different than the hundreds of others she'd seen in the city and the palace, the banquet began. The food on the table included roast duck, gazelle and zebra, fruits, bread, onion and wine. Rose played the tambourine, watching while the slaves carried plates laden with food to the guests and filled their goblet with wine poured from gold jugs. There were about two hundred guests and the heat of the evening combined with all the body heat of the guest made it unbearable for Rose. The cone was now half melted and she was sticky, greasy and miserable but she played on, watching with envy while the Doctor reclined with several men, eating, chatting and laughing with them. Luckily for her, the music was simple and Rose found she could keep time with her tambourine. She watched the dancing girls wiggle and shake and do acrobatic moves but most of the men seemed not to notice them which made Rose wonder what was the point of having them in the first place.

Then she found out what the point was when the dancers eventually went to some of the men and lay with them while the men fondled and caressed them. A few slaves were forced to do this as well which made Rose angry. She knew she was looking at everything with a twenty first century perspective but the women were being treated as sex objects and barely acknowledged, except to be felt up by the partying men. Only Hatshepsut was spared but even she and Thutmose on their thrones looked bored and sleepy.

Then Tawaret signaled to Rose that it was time for them to take a break and eat something. Thankful for that, Rose laid her tambourine on the pillow she'd been sitting on and walked through the crowd of men to the banquet table. She was perusing the selections when she felt a hand on her back. For a split second, she thought it was one of the horny men come to fondle her until the Doctor stepped up beside her and Rose relaxed when she realized it was his hand on her back.

"The zebra is surprisingly good," he said, pointing it out. "Tastes like chicken."

"Doesn't everything?" Rose said with a wry grin.

"Perhaps," the Doctor said with a winning smile that made Rose's heart melt along with the cone of fat.

He had his empty plate in his hand and Rose took a fresh plate from the end of the table and helped herself to some food.

"Come sit with me," the Doctor murmured in her ear once he refilled his plate.

Rose finished putting food on her plate. She turned and noticed the Doctor had made a place for her by his side. She looked around the room for Tawaret and noticed she was near the back being felt up by someone who looked very drunk. She stopped for a moment to look at her friend. She was laughing and seemed to be having a good time and enjoying it but all the same it still depressed Rose that her friend was sold into servitude just to demonstrate loyalty to some pampered, bored person. The Doctor smiled when she put her plate down inside a ring of pillows that the men had made. She lay beside the Doctor on her stomach and looked around. She didn't see any goblets on the table but she realized that the slaves were bringing them out since a young girl who couldn't be more than five was carefully bringing one over to her. Her head was shaved and she was light brown. Rose guessed she was Egyptian but she figured she probably was from another country since she couldn't fathom the Egyptians enslaving their own children. The child wordlessly sat the goblet down by her plate and Rose thanked her. She tried to give the child a bit of meat but the child ignored her, turned and walked away. Rose sighed and shook her head at the injustice of it all.

She felt the back of the Doctor's hand against her cheek and she turned to look at him.

"They're trained not to accept handouts, Rose. Sorry," he said with a sympathetic look.

"It's not fair," Rose said, shaking her head.

"No, it's not," the Doctor said softly. "And I would do the same thing if I were in your shoes but I caution you about doing something like that openly. You're not exactly high up on the totem pole and you could get in trouble for an act of kindness like that. You could get sacked or have something much worse happen to you, especially if they think you're trying to get the slaves to rebel, so do that sort of thing when no one's watching, yeah?"

Rose nodded and the Doctor smiled and patted her shoulder. He continued to chat with the men while Rose ate. Rose was eating some of the duck meat when she suddenly felt the Doctor's hand going down her back to her butt. She stopped chewing and looked at him but he was talking to the man beside him while he was doing it. He didn't reach her butt and instead put his hand on her arm while he talked and rubbed that. It took her a moment to realize that he was pretending to do what everyone else was doing, fondling the servant girls while talking. She figured he was doing this because it gave her an excuse to be with him and to show that she was with him in case someone else got the same idea. He didn't touch her private parts or breasts and Rose actually enjoyed the caresses while she ate. She also heard him make a few lewd comments about her and her body but she didn't mind that either since she heard the other men doing the same and she knew he was pretending to fit in. It was only when the tipsy man next to her put his hand on her ass that the Doctor got possessive and told the man that she was his and to find his own girl. Rose glanced at the other man and figured he was barely out of his teens. She looked at the Doctor, saw the warning look on his face and felt the other man remove his hand from her ass with a muttered apology. After that, there was no more trouble from the others and the Doctor and Rose ate while the Doctor randomly touched her body and chatted.

It was only when Rose cleared her plate and went to get a bit more that the Doctor came up beside her at the table and apologized. She smiled when the Doctor explained his reasons for touching her body in public.

"I know what you're doing, Doctor. That's why I let you do it," she said, holding up her hand to silence him.

"Well, the main purpose of calling the women over is to have a bit of a fondle. It would look strange if you were laying there and I didn't touch you. I'm glad you're not angry with me."

"Doctor, we've touched each other before like that," Rose said.

"Not in public, that's something we do when we're alone and I was afraid you would be offended if I did that in front of those other blokes."

"Nah, wouldn't be the first time I've been fondled in public," Rose said, waving her hand dismissively. "I had a couple of boyfriends before I met ya who liked a bit of a feel up under my bra while we were outside. I'm just glad you stopped that one boy before he went too far."

"Well, unlike me, he was probably serious about fondling you and then some," the Doctor said. "I don't know what goes on after the banquet but I'm sure a few of these men probably have sex with the servants and slaves. Your friend might end up in bed with one, come to think of it," the Doctor said, pointing to Tawaret. "I don't know if they'll let laborers stay in the palace overnight but I'm sure the nobility takes advantage of it. Maybe even Thutty over there has a bit of a go," he added, nodding his head at Thutmose on the throne. "Can't be much for him to do since Hat runs the show."

"But is that all he does? Just sit?" Rose said softly while they pretended to add some more food to their plates. "I've only seen him sit on that throne. What does he do all day?"

"Well, he was supposed to rule but Hat took care of that for him," the Doctor said softly after glancing over his shoulder. "He is the head of her armies though so he does have a position."

"But isn't he resentful of Hatshepsut taking over?" Rose said softly. "He's the rightful ruler, yeah?"

The Doctor looked over his shoulder. He turned around and stroked Rose's cheek.

"Keeping up appearances, just in case," he said softly to her while she nodded. "Hatshepsut was regent to him until he was a bit older and could rule. He was just a kid when Thutmose the Second died. That was Hatshepsut's brother and husband so she took over and ruled in his name until he was old enough."

"Incest again," Rose quipped.

"I think you'll find incest is quite common among Ancient Egyptian royalty," he said to her as he rubbed her arm. "As for rightful ruler, Hatshepsut was the wife of the Pharoah, he's her nephew so she has a closer tie to the throne than he does."

"But she's a woman so she would have been passed over if Thutmose had been a bit older," Rose said.

"Yes," the Doctor said, picking up his plate and picking through a few dates on it. "And you would think he would be bitter but he wasn't. Hatshepsut actually did a lot of great things and brought peace and prosperity to the kingdom for twenty two years. The two of them actually got along. If they didn't, Hat would have never let Thutty lead her armies. And he didn't start defacing her statues and monuments until almost twenty years after her death. And his mortuary temple is right next to hers."

"So why did he do it?" Rose said softly.

"Supposedly, it's because he did it to legitimize his future son's claim to the throne since Hatty had relatives that had a better claim to it. It was all down to politics, nothing more than that."

"So the stuff you're painting now will be defaced later on," Rose teased.

"Yeah, but I'll be long gone by then so who cares," the Doctor teased back.

"Nice to know he doesn't hate his aunt then," Rose said.

"Nah, I don't think so, I think they got on well in life. It's the people of the future who assumed things," the Doctor said. "But now that we've had our little history lesson, we better rejoin the others before people get suspicious…or hungry."

Rose chuckled. She picked up her plate and followed the Doctor back to their pillows.

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