The Slave Prince Chapter 9
Agawe witnesses another death.
Anson was dead when they arrived at his house. The mabalian had applied oils and leaves all over Anson’s swollen legs and body.
“It’s not in my hands anymore. Anson has offended the spirits… the spirits has caused his death,” the mabalian panicked.
Anson’s wife screamed and wailed.
Apô Abet told the mabalian, “Help the woman prepare the dead body for burial.”
Apô Abet grumbled all the way home. “This is what happens when these people are not content with what they get. If their father was alive… I’m sure he will whip them to death…. After all, he left the supervision of his estate to Ubo… and now, they are trying to kill him! What about their mother? She cannot even admonish her sons to be contented…. And every time they need food, they come to me… do I complain? Do I not give? What more do they want? Can they run this land with their brains? Ubo is the smart one… that is why he is running the plantation….. They ought to thank Ubo because if it were up to me… I will kill all of them and get al-langs to work in the plantation…”
She turned to Agawe who was walking behind her. “You know, my husband and I did not have this problem when he was alive. He had al-langs and they were good people but he had all these sons and he thought it was good for them to know how to work the fields… so he set free his al-langs… sent them away to work on their own… Hah! I have not heard of an al-lang who tried to kill his master…”
When Agawe reached his hut, he could not sleep. He thought about all the events of the day. That woman trying to poison him and Anson dying a day after Masami hanged himself. And what about the fact that Ubo and Maeng lost a son? Could it be that Maeng is his mother and Ubo his father? But Apô Ugay did not tell it that way. Was Apô Ugay the mabalian? Did Maeng send her boy away because it was blemished and Ubo would kill it? Did Ubo have Masami killed?
Agawe woke up to the crowing of the rooster perched on a tree near his window. He decided to go to the big house and get breakfast. He did not want Apô to send Ayong to wake him up.
He walked to the kitchen side of the house and scooped some water from the large jug. He needed a drink. His mouth was dry and he splashed water on his face to remove the sleep from his eyes.
He was about to enter the kitchen when he heard the cooks, Imay and Sitay, talking.
Imay said, “She just started bleeding right where she was sitting.”
“Eeeee… I would wish to die if that happens to me…” Sitay shuddered.
“No man will marry her now… What a shame!”
“And there were so many people who saw it. She’s not from here. She just came to help her sister.”
Agawe knew it. Apô did something to that girl who wanted to poison him. For a young woman to bleed in front of men is the worst thing that can happen to a single girl. He could not feel sorry for her though. Without the purple stone, that woman could have poisoned him.
A day after Masami was buried, Anson was also buried.
It was Apô Abet who killed Anson,” Ayong told Agawe.
“You are a foolish young boy. You keep saying those things…”
“Remember the day they were brought to uncle, Apô gave Anson a drink to help with his pain? That was poison to kill him slowly…”
Agawe thought that Masami and Anson brought their deaths upon themselves. Unlike Egul who did not do anything wrong.
Agawe works at the abaca plantation.
Agawe started working in the plantation. It was a nice place to be. The abaca leaves provided shade for the workers that even at mid-day it was always breezy. His job was to clear out the weeds and the old abaca trunks to give way to the new ones growing in the same spot. It was an easy but boring job for Agawe who was used to running around with Egul and doing heavy stuff like fetching water from the streams down a steep hill. They used to carry the long bamboo tubes called “sag-ob” filled with water and race up the hill. They went hunting for wild boars which really tested their stamina and strength.
Manteben introduced Agawe to the workers and as Apô said, most of the workers in the plantation were their relatives, uncles, nephews, cousins, half-brothers and half-sisters. He noticed that only Manteben talked to him.
“So Ubo gave you a job because you saved his life, ha? He usually doesn’t hire al-langs.”
Agawe did not want these people to think that he was there to spy on them, so he was evasive. “It was good of Tiyo Ubo to give me a job here.”
Manteben was a friendly man, always joking and always ready to help the workers. He seemed to take a liking to Agawe but the others were not as friendly.
After a week of work, Agawe got his first pay. He counted his money happily while the other workers grumbled. The loudest grumbler was Tiyana.
“This is what I worked for? I, the brother of his father who owned all of these?”
“Look at that al-lang,” Tiyana turned to Agawe. “He is being paid just like us – we are working like slaves here, we are being paid like al-lang..!”
“Tiyana, stop that!” Manteben scolded. “Agawe is paid only half of what we get… don’t compare yourself to him. Why don’t you be happy with what you have…!”
“Because I am not al-lang!!!” Tiyana hollered.
For the first time, Agawe hated to be called al-lang. He wanted to tell Tiyana he was not a slave … and it could be that he has more right over the land than Tiyana … but he walked away instead.
“Go and tell Ubo about what I said! You spy! Tell that old woman to kill me, too...”
“Tiyana!! Are you insane?” Manteben snapped at him. Then he ran to catch up with Agawe.
“Hey… don’t mind the old man. He does that every payday. He has this notion that he has a right to own my father’s land, too.”
“You don’t have to worry, Tiyo. I am alright. I am just happy that I get paid. You know al-langs don’t get paid…”
“Well… Agawe, can I ask you a favor? You don’t have to tell Ubo or Apô Abet about what Tiyana said, right? It might cause trouble…”
“Oh… I understand Tiyo. I will not mention it to them…”
“Good….” He good-naturedly punched Agawe’s arm and went back to Tiyana.
Read Chapter 10
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