Period: Florence, early 1600s.
The chamberpots held only dust. Maria picked one up, and sniffed a faint tang of rose-water from the last time she had cleaned it — three days ago, before the visitors arrived. Did the foreigners think themselves too good to piss in a pot? How could they? Under their fancy robes, everyone had the same bodily functions. Maria had emptied the pots of princes and cardinals, ambassadors and artists; the more wine they drank, the smellier their urine became. But now — none?
Maria shrugged. If the pots were empty, she’d complete her rounds quicker. She needed to finish all these apartments while the occupants toasted the Feast of St John the Baptist downstairs. To remove the dust, she gave the chamberpots a quick wipe with a jasmine-scented rag. Then she left the visitors’ apartment.
On her way to the next stateroom, she met her daughter scurrying down the corridor. “What is it?” she asked, no longer hoping for an answer in words. At eleven years old, her daughter had still never spoken. Maria hoped the others hadn’t been teasing her again. Sometimes they would send Cristina with messages too complicated to be delivered by gestures.