Miranda followed Janaya through the camp. She could see no men. All the women were wearing identical outfits, a black blouse and a black knee-length skirt over black leggings. The women glanced up, but then returned to their tasks. At a large tent with a fire and cauldron in front, Janaya stopped. She spoke to the woman stirring the cauldron. “Cook, this is another recruit. Please give her something warm to eat while I get her uniform.”
Cook looked up without a smile. “Go in the dining tent.” She tipped her head towards the large tent.
Miranda nodded in acknowledgement, then walked into the tent. It was full of long tables in rows, with benches. She picked a spot in the first row of tables and sat down facing the entrance.
Soon Cook brought in a steaming bowl with a spoon. She set it silently in front of Miranda, then left. Miranda ate every bite, then carried her empty bowl back outside.
“It was good, mira. Thank you. Shall I wash the bowl?”
Cook glanced at her. “No, the washers will need work. Set it there.” She pointed to a pile of empty bowls around the corner of the tent.
Miranda set her bowl in the indicated spot. Janaya came back with a pile of clothes over her arm. “Come.”
Miranda followed Janaya through the camp to an empty tent. There were two cots, with a small wooden chest at the end of each, and a lantern hanging from the center of the roof. Each cot had a blanket folded at the end, and a pillow at the head.
Janaya spoke. “You will be sharing with Sarai. Keep any personal belongings and clothes you are not wearing in the chest. You have the right side. I already put your nightclothes in the chest. Every morning after morning bugle, you have fifteen minutes to change into daytime clothes and get your side of the tent looking like this. Sarai is, of course, responsible for her own side. At the end of the fifteen minutes, you are expected at the mess tent. We were just there. You will be served breakfast. Eat promptly and duties for the day will be assigned at the end of the meal. Lights out and start of curfew is at nine o’clock at night. Do you understand?”
“Yes, mira,” Miranda said.
“For today, come with me. I will show you how to guard the camp. Do not speak unless you are spoken to.”
Miranda followed Janaya out of the tent, wondering just what she had gotten herself into.