A black maid enters.
she makes obeisance to her mistress,
our erstwhile heroine.
She is given a menial task
in a perfunctory fashion,
and you thrill at this splash
of historical colour.
But her mistress's command
is irrelevant. She is fully engaged
with two vital functions
with which I have entrusted her.
The first: she has bathed our heroes
in moral ambiguity -
she is a shortcut to complexity,
rendering the important characters
bathing them in pathos.
The second: she has pleased you
as you recognise your own outrage:
"Why must she be black?
Why can't they treat her better?
Don't we live in finer times, you and I?"
And a happy reader
is a reader who will proceed,
enlivened, vindicated, affirmed.
And thus freshly enslaved,
to the sculleries of my imagination
as we press nobly on.