“Wait here where the children can see. It’ll be educational.” With that, Dorian Featherwright bounced into the crowd. His wife, Beatriz, sighed and held their two children’s hands firmly. He wore white like the locals but her husband had fair skin and hair. Her skin was darker than anyone here but their children were the same milky tea as the locals. Their clothes differed but those could be gone in moments.
Dorian bid from the crowd before the dais bearing the auctioneer and a modestly veiled, mature woman, waving his hat to ensure being seen. Beatriz guessed what he thought he was doing, having realised her husband’s grasp of local language and customs wasn’t as good as he believed. He couldn’t be convinced that she or his mother understood anything better than he did.
Constance had declined the mixed joy of a city excursion with her son and stayed at the hotel with a good book and a pot of tea.
The other bidders slowly stopped until only Dorian was left. The auctioneer declared his bid final and accepted. Ignoring the glares from those around him, Dorian pushed his way up the steps to the dais and spoke to the auctioneer.
At a gesture from the woman, two men grabbed and chained him.
Beatriz led the children forward, the crowd letting her through, while Dorian protested disjointedly in the local language.
“Dorian,” she spoke firmly and he turned to her, looking for help, “you put in the lowest bid to do this lady’s task. She wasn’t being sold. You’ve deprived someone of a year’s wage. It’ll be educational, because you’ll do it. We’ll see you next year. Say goodbye to Father, children, we’re going back to the hotel.”
They left him there, gaping. It would be a quiet, organised year.