Ancient Pompeian terra cotta toilet

(putting to rest, once and for all, the fanfic cliché that Xena and Gabrielle used buckets)



Chapter 8

Gabrielle woke up in exactly the same position she had fallen asleep: sprawled across the bed, fully clothed, with her boots half unlaced, but still on.

She couldn't believe how late she and Sappho had stayed up talking. In fact, the bard was almost certain she had seen the first scattered rays of the morning sun slipping in through the window by the time the poet left Gabrielle's room to head for her own.

The bard rolled off the bed and looked out of the window. It was still early. Then why was she awake? Something must have disturbed her slumber - or someone. Taking a few quick steps to the door, she noticed it slightly ajar.

Hades-be-damned! Xena must have stopped in to check on her, saw her sprawled across the bed exhausted and left her to sleep. Now she would be gone who knows where for most of the day. And they were suppose to go hunting together!

Pacing the floor and fretting over the many possible moods that could have befallen her partner, Gabrielle finally gave in to the morning call of mother nature. She glanced around the room for the chamber pot, surprised not to find one present. The call becoming more urgent with every passing second, the bard scurried out of the room looking for emergency assistance.

She found it in the form of a young, petite servant tending the plants in Vettii's garden.

"Excuse me," Gabrielle said, noticing that the servant was the same girl who had won the tug-of-war over the clam shells with Xena. She smiled at the bright face that greeted her.

"Yes, mistress!" the slave dropped her spade, rose. Then, remembering her place, dropped quickly in a bow back to the ground.

Gabrielle lifted the girl up by the shoulders, shifting urgently from foot to foot.

"Please, none of that now. This is an emergency."

"What's wrong, mistress?"

"Can you tell me where a ... um ... you know ... a ..."

The young servant watched the interesting dance trying to hide her amusement.

"Is there something you need?"

Gabrielle could stand it no more. "A chamber pot! I need a chamber pot!"

"A chamber pot?" the slave repeated, thinking she was losing something in the translation. She watched the bard dance a bit more, and then the candle lit over her head. "Oh! A chamber pot! This way mistress, follow me."

"Wherever we're going, we better get there quickly."

Gabrielle followed the girl to a portion of the house she had not yet visited, pushing the girl along in haste all the while. They passed by a large room whose smell Gabrielle instantly recognized as the kitchen. Taking a peek in as they shuffled by, the bard could see servants bent over various tables busily preparing the morning meal. The bard became so distracted, she nearly bumped into the servant girl when she stopped.

"Here you are mistress. I think this is what you need." The young woman smiled as she opened a door.

"Thank you!" Gabrielle disappeared into the room, leaving a chuckling servant to return to her duties.

The bard stopped short as the door closed behind her. She was in a very small cubicle and in the center was a simple white porcelain bowl partially filled by a whirlpool of water swirling in the middle, like a mini charybdis.

She studied the smooth bowl thoughtfully, considering the beautifully carved seat and grasping its usage immediately.

Dropping her britches, she sat on the bowl and instantly jumped back up.

"Yow! That's cold!"

She managed to ease herself back onto the seat and relieve her emergency, then stood to watch the water swirl as it carried the bardi-poop away.

"I wonder what they call this?"

She left the cubicle, ticking off a list of possibilities as she walked back in the direction of her room.

"Water closet? Water chair? Water bowl? Piss bowl? No, too crude. Porcelain bowl ... porcelain throne ... porcelain altar ... god ... porcelain god. Hm. I like that. Better yet, porcelain goddess."

"Gabrielle! What are you doing?" Sappho grabbed the distracted bard and pulled her into her bed chamber.

"Sappho, have you visited that thing down near the kitchen? I've never seen anything like it, not even in Athens."

The poet looked at her blankly, not comprehending for a moment. "Oh! You mean the latrine. Yeah, pretty nifty that running water. Seat's colder than Hera's tit in a brass bra, though." The poet commented, rubbing her butt.

"Latrine? That's what they call it? Latrine. Not very creative, if you ask me."

The poet snorted out a laugh. "What do you think they should do? Name it after someone ... like John?"

Sappho did not give Gabrielle a chance to respond.

"Come on, Gabrielle," the poet grabbed the bard's hand. "We have things to do, places to go. Let the shit take care of it itself."

With a tug, she pulled the bard out of the room.

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