48 Hours a Day
Chapter 165 - Argument
“The slave traders sold weapons to an enemy tribe which started a war against us. The surprise attack from the enemy tribe had caused many of us to be captured by the slave traders. Almost half of our tribe was eliminated. To survive, we had to keep on moving. But, no matter where we ran, the traders would always locate us. They even met my father as well, telling him that they were willing to arm him in exchange for the prisoners that we captured. Of course, my father was resolute and strongly rejected their offer.”
“After that, our living conditions worsened. A few of our neighboring tribes attacked us after incitement by the slave traders. The conflict had unfortunately caused the lives of my father and brother. They killed all the tribe’s elderly and sold the younger ones to the slave traders. I happen to be one of them.”
“So, all the female servants and Lakutua came from your tribe? Do they know who you are? How is that even possible? According to what I know, slave traders would usually sell slaves from different tribes to buyers. This is to prevent the slaves from working together and retaliate against their master.”
“The master of the mansion bought six slaves from my tribe, including me. One of them fell ill and died not too long after working there. Another one was killed by a whip for attempting to escape the mansion. Now, there are only four of us left. Honestly, I never thought that I would be able to meet up with Nevasa and the rest of them here. They were among the first batch of black slaves that were captured by the slave traders. Most of them were women. Perhaps they thought that women wouldn’t pose a threat to them, and thus, the slave trader didn’t separate them. As for Rakutua and me, we were both captured at the same time, but sold to different buyers. Malcolm has always loved to watch a good fight. He’s been collecting gladiators from different people. After hearing about Rakutua’s great fighting skills, he instantly bought him up. That was about a month ago.”
“I heard just now that you guys were planning to go up against Malcolm?
“There have been some conflicts between my Jackdaw and the black-market alliance that he’s in. This is no secret. The entire Nassau knows about it. He invited me to attend his banquet for the reason of making peace with me.”
“And you won’t accept his proposal? Why?”
“I dislike having to place my fate in the hands of others. Malcolm and I don’t hold a grudge against each other. However, I have a problem with the black-market alliance that he’s set up. Once the alliance becomes stable, it’s not going to be good news to the people of Nassau that enjoy freedom.”
Laeli could not understand Zhang Heng’s last sentence, but he knew that he was telling the truth. At least, no matter what his reason was, Zhang Heng was against Malcolm. After a short pause, Laeli continued,
“After my father and brother were killed in the war, we had to elect a new chief per the tribe’s law. It’s my responsibility to rescue my tribe members. I have to return them the freedom that they once had. That’s why I had to escape from the mansion no matter what.”
“I admire your zeal, but unfortunately, I don’t think I can help you with that.”
Being a decent human being in the future, Zhang Heng was disgusted by the prospect of slavery. It was one of the worst things that a human could ever do to another human being. He was fine with rescuing Laeli from the mansion, but setting free every slave from the place would be a matter that needed extensive planning. This was a critical moment in time for the Jackdaw and Carina. Zhang Heng had to focus solely on Malcolm and his black-market alliance. He was indisposed to help Laeli even if he wanted to.
“I’m not asking for your help. I simply want to work with you,” said Laeli as he shook his head.
“Work with me?”
“Yes. You want to know the problems between Malcolm and Redmond, right? I think I can help you with that. It’s heartbreaking to know that so many black men were sold here and turned into gladiators. We were forced to fight and kill each other for the sake of our master’s entertainment. Now, let’s talk about the servants, who are always close to their masters. There are times when they will be able to eavesdrop on their secrets.”
“To the white people, we are merely goods and a means of labor. They see us as their property, and they do not care about what we think and feel. Without their permission, there’s no way that we can leave the mansion. Many a time, they would discuss many sensitive topics in front of us. From the first day that I was sold to the Terrance mansion, I’ve been planning my escape. Other than learning more than a few words, I actually collected lots of information as well.”
“Around eight months ago, Malcolm and Redmond had a meeting with each other. Malcolm ordered me to fight another black man in front of him. However, I could see that they were not watching the fight. They even had an argument about whatever they were discussing.
Upon hearing that, Zhang Heng was becoming more and more interested in Laeli’s story.
“They were arguing about some merchant. Since it had nothing to do with my escape plan, I don’t quite remember his name. All I know is that he is one of the merchants from the black market. He is doing the same thing with Malcolm and Redmond, and is quite famous as well. There was this once when Redmond tried to talk about setting up the black-market alliance with him, but, the person rejected his idea without even thinking twice.”
“He told Redmond that the black-market alliance would bring him a lot of trouble, adding that Redmond’s ambition is getting out of hand. After that, Redmond talked to Malcolm about it. Both of them agreed that it would be a problem if the person refused to work with them. Although he wasn’t the wealthiest merchant on the island, he had lots of experience and a good reputation. Redmond suggested that they should take their time to convince him. Not too long after that, the person was captured at a colony. Redmond suspected that Malcolm was behind it. However, Malcolm said that it had nothing to do with him. They both then broke into an argument about this.
Immediately, Zhang Heng thought of Carina’s father. It would seem that the person in the story referred to him. Zhang Heng did not expect that the capturing of Carina’s father in New Jersey had something to do with the black-market alliance. This incident wasn’t as simple as he thought it was.