Their Own Down Payment

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The two days of selling that followed were very similar to the first. Several people were willing to help an effort to free slaves while others tried to barter for the lowest price possible. One guy even argued that the waiting list was a good reason for them to give him a discount.

It had been necessary to collect two more down payments on the third day so that they would have enough to pay Auk'a the ten golden coins that had been promised to him. While they were out, they did make several extra sales calls. With the combined number that had been presold, they were up to a total of fourteen wagons, which was nearly half of their quota.

One more stop was required before meeting Auk'a and that was to change the silver coins they had up to gold coins. It wouldn't do for the man to think that they were scrounging around to create the necessary sum. As tempting as it was for Mark to wait in the alley near Auk'a's shop, David didn't trust him to stay there and sent him back from the money changers' place to start smoothing boards.

David entered the shop alone and Sañi greeted him. As usual, Auk'a was not in the front so David asked that the woman let her owner know that he was ready to make the first installment. She looked worried but complied while David walked around nonchalantly, looking over the various odd knickknacks again. He still couldn't get over some of the items that were for sale.

A few moments later Auk'a staggered out from the back rooms and demanded to know how David dared to steal money from him.

"¿Steal? No, it took another day to get the gold than it should have."

"You no-good thief. Why if I was as bad as you, I would have sold her to someone else."

"I'm sorry, Auk'a. I'll pay extra for being late."

"¿And where did you hear my name?"

David realized his mistake too late. He had never asked Auk'a for his name but had only given an alias for his own. "I... I think I had heard it from... Sañi told me."

"¿You're with that no-good slave boy who comes by all the time aren't you?"

"Sir, I have the money with me to make the first payment. ¿Will you take it or not?"

"¿Who did you steal it from? Little imp." Auk'a pulled a club from a shelf under the counter and took a menacing step toward David.

David, for his part, was in disbelief that the man would behave this way. He had been civil enough before. Maybe the corn beer was having more of an effect? He was surprised that Auk'a was not carrying a sword but perhaps it was tucked away in some back room and the man didn't trust it out front with Sañi. David tried to pacify the man but it was no use.

Auk'a lunged for him but a drunk person is very rarely a match for anybody who is sober. In a flash, David had his sword in hand. Out of respect for Sañi he did not kill Auk'a but only disarmed him and then knocked him senseless. If the other had not been affected so badly by his beer, it might have been a fair fight. David was certainly not an expert with the sword.

Whatever might have happened in another set of circumstances, David knew he had to act now that the situation had turned so serious. As he stepped over the unmoving body that lay in the middle of the isle, he told Sañi to get anything that belonged to her.

The woman stood still, undecided.

"You can not be here when he wakes up."

"Neither can I run. I am bound by the law and if I go with you, your life is worthless."

"Then we will leave the money I had come to pay him. You must come. He will kill you."

Sañi finally began to move. She disappeared into the back for two minutes and reappeared with a small bundle of clothes.

"¿Is that all?"

"It is more than I came with."

David removed the pouch that was held by his belt and selected 10 gold coins. He set them on the counter. "OK. Let's go."

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