Caste of Clerks
Here are relevant references from the Books where the Caste of Clerks is mentioned.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
The Scribes, of course, are the scholars and clerks of Gor, and there are divisions and rankings within the group, from simple copiers to the savants of the city.
Tarnsman of Gor Book 1 Page 44
On the first time they accompanied me I obtained a marking stick, used by Mul clerks in various commissaries and warehouses, and inscribed their appropriate letters on the left shoulders of their plastic tunics.
Priest-Kings of Gor Book 3 Page 140
Clerks, with parchment scrolls, were circulating among the altars, presumably, I would guess, noting the names of haruspexes, their peoples, and their findings.
Nomads of Gor Book 4 Page 173
The Slavers, incidentally, are of the Merchant Caste, though, in virtue of their merchandise and practices, their robes are different. Yet, if one of them were to seek Caste Sanctuary, he would surely seek it from Slavers, and not from common Merchants. Many Slavers think of themselves as an independent caste. Gorean law, however, does not so regard them. The average Gorean thinks of them simply as Slavers, but, if questioned, would unhesitantly rank them with the Merchants. Many castes, incidentally, have branches and divisions. Lawyers and Scholars, for example, and Record Keepers, Teachers, Clerks, Historians and Accountants are all Scribes.
Assassin of Gor Book 5 Page 208
To the left of the praetor's officer, to our right, as we faced him, below him, on the floor level, on a bench, behind a table, was a court's clerk.
"You are the Lady Constanzia, of the city of Besnit?" inquired the praetor's officer.
"I am," she said.
"You have been the object of ransom capture," said the praetor's officer.
"Yes your honor," she said.
He then addressed himself to the court's clerk. "There is no difficulty as to the matter of her identity?" he asked.
"No, your honor," said the clerk. "Her fingerprints tally with those taken shortly after her delivery to Treve by the abductors."
"Have the agents of the redemptor accepted her as the Lady Constanzia?" inquired the praetor's officer.
"They have, your honor," said the clerk.
"In virtue of interrogations and such?"
"Yes, your honor."
"There is the matter of the slipper."
"It is here," said the clerk. He produced a tiny, jeweled, muchly embroidered slipper. It might have cost more than many slaves.
The praetor's officer nodded to the clerk and carried the slipper to the Lady Constanzia, who took it in her hands, and looked upon it.
"Do you recognize it?" asked the praetor's officer.
"Yes, your honor," she said. "It is mine."
"It matches with that brought by the agent of the redemptor?" asked the praetor's officer.
"Yes, your honor," said the clerk. He then took it back from the Lady Constanzia and returned to his desk.
"The court of the commercial praetor of the high city of Treve," said the praetor's officer," accepts the prisoner as the Lady Constanzia of Besnit."
The clerk made a notation on his records.
"You are now within the custody of the court of the commercial praetor of Treve," said the officer.
"I understand, your honor," she said.
"There is also the matter of the necklace," said the praetor's officer.
The clerk then produced, holding it out, a large, impressive necklace, with many strands, containing many stones. It was breathtakingly beautiful.
"Destroy the necklace," said the praetor's officer to the clerk.
"Your honor!" cried the Lady Constanzia.
"It is paste," said the praetor's officer.
We watched as the clerk struck a fire-maker, one used to melt wax for seals, and set the flame to the necklace. The flames sped from paste stone to paste stone, and the whole was then dropped to the side, flickering and smoldering.
"What have you to say?" he asked, puzzled.
"I will attempt to serve my master to the best of my abilities," she said.
"I can guarantee it," said the praetor's officer. Then he lifted certain papers on his desk. "It is to be done in this fashion," he said to the clerk. "She is to be stripped and branded, and put in a holding collar. She is also to be gagged, for her words, her please, her remonstrations or such, will be of no avail, nor will they be of interest to those of the house of William, in Harfax. Let them not then be disturbed by them. She is then to be placed in an outer robe of concealment, the outer robe only, but also hooded and veiled. Then, hands bound behind her, on a rope, at the tenth Ahn, she is to be brought to this place. Here she will be delivered into the hands not of an agent of the house of William but into the hands of one of that house itself, the youngest and least of that house, who has come to Treve for this purpose, to acquire her, to whom she is to be given as a slave."
The tenth sounding of the bar still lingered over the city when a side door in the chamber opened and the court's clerk, with a folder and papers, entered. He spread those upon the table, that which was, as we were situated, to the right of the currently unoccupied desk of the praetor's officer. He had the fellow who had entered but shortly before conferred briefly over these papers. There wee, it seemed, two sets of such papers. They were, it seemed, in order. I did not doubt but what one set was papers of the court, stamped with the sign of the court, and certified with the signature of a praetor's officer, if not the praetor himself. On copies of these papers the fellow who had but recently entered scribbled his signature. He put one copy within his robes. The other set of papers, which had been examined, and in places compared with the first set, was different. It was left open now on the table. In its original form it had been folded and narrow, and tied with a ribbon. The ribbon was blue and yellow.
The court's clerk then went to the side portal. "Bring forth the slave," he called.
A guard of the court entered, leading a small female figure on a rope. She was in at least the outer robe of a free woman, apparently the same ornate, colorful, expensive robe that had been worn that morning. From the fall of the robe on her body I suspected that she was naked beneath it. The robe by which she was led was tied about her neck. I could see beneath the hem of the robe that her feet were bare, slave bare. The robe did have its attached hood, and her features were modestly veiled. Her head was down. About the robes and hood, and veil, holding them in quite tightly against her neck, was a collar. It was a simple collar and I supposed it was a temporary collar, a holding collar. Its engraving was probably no more than some simple legend, such as "If found, return me to the pens of Treve." Beneath the veil, as I recalled, she was to be gagged. I did not doubt but what she was, and, in the manner of the men of this world, quite effectively. Her words, her pleas, her cries, her remonstrations, or such, as I recalled, would not only be of no avail, but were not even of interest to those of the house of William, in Harfax. Let them not then be disturbed by them. Behind the small figure, rather in the background, was a second guard of the court. The fellow who had but recently entered, in such agitation, so angrily, who had considered, and signed, papers at the desk of the clerk, had, at the call of the clerk to the guard, turned his back and walked through, and outside, the scarlet circle, that before the high desk. He was now some feet on our side of the circle. The small female figure was led to the center of the circle. This time, however, she did not face the desk, but faced the fellow on the other side of the circle. Her head was down. His back was turned. The guard who had led her forward now untied the rope from her neck and withdrew. He went to stand with the other guard, to the far side of the clerk's table. Their presence was thus unobtrusive. The hands of the small female figure were behind her. I assumed they were tied there. She was now standing alone, in the center of the circle, her head down. She looked very small there. Sunlight fell upon her through the high narrow windows.
"The slave," said the court's clerk.
Angrily, with a swirl of robes, the man turned about and came to the edge of the circle. "I own you!" he cried, his voice thick with rage. It seemed she suddenly trembled, and might look up, but he cried out. "Do not dare to look upon me, you worthless slut, you now-nameless slave!"
The fellow made an angry gesture to the clerk. The clerk summoned forward one of the guards, he who had led the slave into the chamber. The fellow came forward and produced, from his belt, a small key. It was the key, I assumed, to the holding collar. The clerk then looked to the fellow at the edge of the circle. That fellow indicated that the slave was to be turned about, and she was, rudely, so that now, standing, she faced the portal though which she had been introduced into the room. I saw that her hands were now, indeed, tied behind her back, fastened there with binding fiber. The fellow then came forward. He then removed from his pouch a collar and handed it to the clerk. The clerk looked at it. He thrust it before the slave, that she might see it. But then, perhaps because he thought that she, in her distress, her fear, was in no condition to pursue it, he said, "The legend on the collar reads, 'I am the slave of Henry, of the house of William, in Harfax.'" He then handed the collar back to the fellow who, from his previous angry announcement of ownership of the slave, I gathered must be this very Henry, he referred to the collar, he of the house of William, in Harfax. He would also be, as I recalled, from the words of the praetor's officer this morning, the youngest and least of that house.
Henry, from behind, above the holding collar, put the collar about the neck of the slave. He did not do this gently. Such collars, too, as it was a common collar, of the sort most frequently found in the north, fit closely. I, Fina, and the others, wore such collars. So, too, I recalled, did Dorna. I assumed most of this city did. He jerked the collar back, firmly. It must have been tight as it had, pinned beneath it, the cloth of the outer robe of concealment, the hood of that garment, and the veil. He pulled it back, again, firmly, and I heard the click of the collar's closure. It is clear - decisive - meaningful - sound. There is no mistaking it. The girl will not forget it. She has been collared. She may hear that sound even in her dreams, and awaken, and touch her throat, and, half asleep, stirring, ascertain its sure presence. Yes, it is there, and on her. And she cannot remove it. She is in a slave collar, in the collar of her master.
Inadvertently, without really thinking of it, my hand strayed to my own collar.
I kissed my finger tips and pressed them to my collar.
I envied girls their private masters.
I belonged to the state of Treve.
The pit master briefly glanced down at me.
Frightened, I returned my hands, palms down, to my thighs. I straightened my body. I looked straight ahead. My knees were slightly spread, enough to show that I was a pleasure slave, but were closely enough placed to accord with the decorum of the praetor's court. I was pleased to understand that the pit master would choose to ignore my slight indiscretion. No one but a frustrated free woman would denounce, or punish, a girl for loving her collar.
I was relieved.
I would not be punished for breaking position.
We then, he and I, the pit master and one of his pit slaves, returned our attention to the floor.
The slave was now in two collars, the holding collar and, just above it, the identification collar, that by means of which she can be identified, as belonging to a particular individual. As soon as the identification collar was in place, the guard of the court removed the holding collar. There had been no moment, then, when the slave had not been in at least one collar. Henry, as we shall speak of him, now adjusted the identification collar on the slave, moving it about, and pressing it down, until it was in place, the lock at the back of the neck.
He then regarded her, in his collar. He then stepped back, away from her.
"You may turn about," he said. "Keep your head down." She obeyed and he, for his part, went back to the edge of the scarlet circle, rather on our side of it. She was then standing in the center of the circle, rather as she had before, save, of course, that she now wore not a temporary collar, a holding collar, but the collar of her master.
"You nameless slut," he said.
She kept her head down.
"Worthless slave!" he cried.
I could not understand his fury. He was facing her, his back to us.
"Kneel," he said, "keep your head down."
She fell to her knees before him.
"Perhaps the slave recalls," he said, "one who was once the Lady Constanzia of Besnit, one who once, when the mistress of a rich house, defrauded the house of William, in Harfax. Much did the house of William suffer, in its resources, and more, in its reputation, in its very name, honored for generations in a dozen cities. Nearly did she bring the house of William to its ruin, but the house, a strong one, survived, and, rebuilt itself, in its resources and its name. Indeed, it is now the most prosperous of the merchant houses in Harfax. In the time of our peril, of our shame, of our sacrifices, we did not, of course, forget the name of Constanzia of Besnit. But, know that even now, now, in the time in which our fortuned have been recovered and more, in a time in which our name shines again, and more brightly than ever, in a dozen cities, in a time in which we have become first among the houses of Harfax, we still remember that name. No, we have never forgotten the name of Constanzia of Besnit. We remember that name well. And then, wonder of wonders, it came to our attention, as such things may, that the Lady Constanzia, lured like a vulo, and trapped by her greed, was now a capture prize, being held in Treve for ransom. But, lo, would her own brothers not ransom her? But it seemed not. What then was to be her fate? If she were not simply fed to sleen, it would be, presumably, oh, miserable fate, the collar! Well, you can well imagine our reluctance to see such a fine lady, and one so special to us, being simply put upon a block, somewhere, and who would know where, and being sold to just anyone. No, it seemed fitting to us that we should rescue her from such a fate. Was she not, after all, an honored member of our caste? And so we decided to ransom her, if her brothers would not, as an act, if nothing else, of caste solidarity and benevolence. And so she was ransomed. And her ransom was not cheap, I tell you that. Should we not have waited until she was enslaved, and then bid upon her? No, certainly not. She must not have been enslaved. What if she had been simply fed to sleen? But, we had heard rumors that her body might not be without interest, and so we speculated that her captors might see fit to save her for the collar. But would we know where she would be sold? Perhaps not. And auctions are such tricky things. Could we be sure of overcoming all bids? Might there not be others who, for similar reasons, for similar grievances, might be as anxious as we to obtain her? And what if she misbehaved in the house of the slaver and was, say, cut to pieces, and never even came to the block? But more than these fears, I think was the pleasure, the gratification, which would be felt in our house by our having been your actual ransomer. I think you can understand what an excellent and fitting thing this was. And so she came into our hands, deliciously, as a free woman. And, what, then, was to be done with her? We had feared, you might recall, that she might find herself enslaved, but our fear, most particularly, most exactly, was that she would find herself enslaved by the will and act of another - and not by our will and act, not by the will and act of the house of William, in Harfax. But our fears proved groundless. She has now been enslaved by our won will and act, by the will and act of the house of William, in Harfax, and is now, specifically, my slave, I who am the fifth son, and least in the house. You understand the meaning of this, too, I am sure, that you are the slave of the least in the house. But do no fear. You will be presented before the first in the house. An oath has been sworn to the effect. Indeed, it is in accord with the provisions of that oath I am come to Treve, to fetch you to Harfax. It is to be mine, you see, in accord with the provisions of the oath, to throw you as my branded slave, naked and in chains, to the feet of he who is first in my house, William, my father."
The slave's head was down.
"You will serve well in the house, I assure you," he said. "You will work long and hard, you will perform the lowliest and most servile tasks."
She did not lift her head.
"You will be kept under the strictest of disciplines," he said.
She kept her head down.
"It will be amusing," he said, "to point you out to our guests, and delineate your history, as, too, you are serving at our meals. Indeed, afterwards, perhaps we will have you accompany our guests to their rooms, seeing to their needs and wants, attending upon them, brining them fresh linen, bathing them, preparing their couch and, later, naturally, taking your place at its slave ring, a token of the hospitality of the house of William."
She kept her head down.
"Yes," he cried, angrily, "you will serve well in that house! And, that it may be well recalled who you were, and what you did, you will be suitably named. Put your head to the tiles!"
She, kneeling, in the outer robes of concealment, in the hood, in the veil, thrust her head down to the tiles. Her small hands were then up, behind her, high, resting on her back, where the wrists were crossed, tied tighter.
"I name you 'Constanzia'!" he said, angrily.
The slave was now named 'Constanzia'.
At this point the clerk inscribed something on the set of papers which lay still on the table.
"You may straighten your back, but keep your head down, slave," said the angry Henry, of the house of William, in Harfax.
Instantly the slave, who was now "Constanzia," obeyed.
The clerk now folded the papers together, forming the long, narrow packet as before. He then tied the packet shut with the blue-and-yellow ribbon. He then walked across the scarlet circle, past the kneeling slave, and handed the papers to Henry, who took them, and put them within his robes, as he had his copy of the earlier papers, the court papers. These later papers were undoubtedly the slave's slave papers. Somewhere, I had no doubt, there were similar papers on me. The notation on the papers which had been made by the clerk had undoubtedly been the slave's name, presumably with the effective date of the name, as such names may be changed, as the master wishes. Subsequent names may, of course, be added to the papers, with their effective dates. Different masters, for example, will often give different names to slaves. Blue and yellow are the colors of the caste, or subcaste, as the case may be, of the Slavers. Some, as noted earlier, regard the Slavers as a caste independent of the Merchants, some regard it as a subcaste of the Merchants. The colors of the merchant caste itself are white and yellow, or white and gold. Needless to say, caste members do not always wear the caste colors. For example, a scribe would normally wear his blue when working but not always when at leisure. Goreans are fond of color and style in their raiment. They tend to be careful of their appearance and often delight in looking well. Not all slave papers are bound in blue and yellow, of course. I had seen copies in the pens which were in plain folders, in envelopes, and such. Indeed, some had been merely clipped together.
"I would now be left alone with the slave," said Henry.
"Our concern in this business is now done," said the clerk. "We have another matter to attend to, one which must shortly be discharged."
"I will not be long," said Henry.
"I wish you well," said the clerk.
"I wish you well," said Henry.
The clerk then, followed by the two guards of the court, withdrew.
The portal leading from the chamber opened and the clerk stepped though, taking in, in a glance, the slave, naked on the tiles, and her master standing over her. He did not seem surprised.
Sir," said he. "The court must conduct further business."
"We are leaving," said Henry, he of the house of William, in Harfax.
The clerk withdrew, presumably to return shortly.
Shortly after Henry, of the house of William, in Harfax, had exited with a slave, the door to the side opened and the clerk came though. The pit master went forward then, and, near the clerk's table, conferred with the clerk. Some papers were signed, a copy being retained by the clerk, and one my the pit master.
The clerk then turned toward the portal. "Bring forth the free woman," he called. The two court guards then entered, conducting, between them, a woman in robes of concealment, fully veiled. She was, however, barefoot. Her ankles were trim. I wondered if she were pretty. The pit master turned to the two pit guards, by the portal leading to the outer hall, that leading thence to the outside, and, with a gesture, summoned them forward. He also beckoned that I should approach. I quickly rose to my feet and hurried forward, then kneeling near him. I noted impatience in the manner, and contempt in the eyes, of the woman in the robes of concealment as I approached. I knew myself despised by her. I did not meet her eyes.
"This is the Lady Ilene of Venna," said the clerk.
The pit master lowered his head, his features shielded within the dark hood.
"Where am I?" she asked, angrily. "What am I doing here?"
The pit master went behind her and, one my one, pulled her hands behind her. There were two clicks.
"I am braceleted!" she exclaimed, angrily. "How dare you put me in such things! Remove them, immediately!"
The pit master was then again before her. He looked down at her feet.
"One slipper," said he, not turning from the free woman, but addressing himself to the clerk, "was used to convince her house that she was in our keeping. The other is in a distant city, where negotiations may be conducted, the authenticity of our negotiators attested to by the possession of the second slipper. It was not thought that, under the circumstances, she required hose."
Bonds are seldom placed over clothing. The free woman, the Lady Ilene of Venna, was under detention, rather obviously as a ransom prisoner, as had been the Lady Constanzia of Besnit, now the slave Constanzia, owned by Henry, of the house of William, in Harfax. Accordingly, her hose had been removed, that her ankles might now from the Gorean point of view be the more appropriately crossed and tied, or shackled. Such things are in part cultural, and in part practical.
I considered her, what I could see of her.
She certainly did have trim ankles. They would look well, crossed and corded together, tightly, or shackled.
I wondered, again, if she were pretty.
Doubtless the guards, too, were curious about that.
The woman tried to pull her feet back, a little, more beneath her robes.
"Who is this misshapen lout?" she asked. "What is he doing here? Why does he conceal his features?"
"You are in the presence of a warden of our city, Lady," said the clerk. "It is in his keeping that you will find yourself until your disposition is clear."
"My disposition?" she asked.
"Yes, Lady," said the clerk.
"What are you doing!" she cried.
"He is leashing you," said the clerk.
"Functionary," said the woman to the clerk.
"Lady?" he said, politely.
"You will expedite the arrangements from my ransom," she said. "I will soon be ransomed by my beloved sisters. There should be no difficulties in the matter, as we are one of the richest houses in Venna."
"It is my hope," said he, "that these matters may be conducted with the utmost dispatch."
"And if things do not work out," said the pit guard, he in whose hands she had been, in effect, assessed, "I am sure we can think of something else for you."
"Beast!" she said.
"What did you think I had in mind?" he asked.
She turned away, angrily.
"I expect," she said to the clerk, "to be treated with honor, and with dignity and respect, such as comports with my condition and station."
"I understand," he said.
"You may begin," she said, "by removing these horrid bracelets and this obscene leash!"
"They are the devices," said he, "of your current keeper, a warden of the city."
"Our business here is done," said the clerk, he having signed over the prisoner to the pit master. "I wish you well."
"I wish you well," said the pit master.
The clerk with the court guards then withdrew, exiting through the same portal by means of which they had entered the chamber.