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This excerpt is from The Prince of Sumba, Husband to Many Wives.
Copyright 1998 Don Milton All Rights Reserved.
All Copyright Laws Apply - Thou Shalt Not Steal

Chapters: [Prologue] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18]  [19]  [20]  [21]  [22]  [23]  [24]  [25]  [26]

Treasures or Troubles - The Prince of Sumba Chapter 14
(A story about Prince John as told by Prince John)

   Today I would learn my first lesson as a man; that the rising and the setting of the sun is the only thing we can be sure of in this life. As wise king Solomon said, "When your day brings treasures, be happy, and when your day brings troubles, remember; The Lord has made all the days and it is not for man to know what a day will bring."
   I woke up early enough to see the sun rising over this island of mystery as surely as I'd seen it set behind the sails of Captain Stephen's ship the night before. I greeted the day with anticipation for I sensed we weren't far from the treasures we sought. I knew the crew didn't share my enthusiasm for exploration but Captain Stephen wasn't going to let me, a prince, return from my manly voyage empty handed, so after a hearty breakfast we set out with determination.
   The mountain men my father had hired to carry our supplies into the hills, and our treasures back, were glad to get off the boat despite the heavy loads the crew had placed across their shoulders Their bouts of seasickness had been the only form of entertainment we'd had on our long voyage. Now it was the mountain men's turn to be entertained by the members of Captain Stephen's crew. The mountain men had immediately regained their land legs but the crew walked wobbly legged, struggling to keep from sliding down the the muddy trail. Upon reaching the first leg of the trail, each member of Captain Stephen's crew would smile the same proud smile then in like manner as those who'd preceded him, lose his balance first, then his footing, and finally that look of pride as he slid down the side of the trail into the pile of crewmen at the bottom of the ravine.
   The morale of the mountain men having been elevated far above the crew's, and their humiliation at getting seasick long forgotten, I ordered them to tie ropes along the side of the dangerous slope. It would have been bad enough had one of the men been injured but to risk life for the entertainment of others, is blasphemy. We made our way up the rest of the steep and narrow path without incident.
   The excitement I'd felt at becoming a man was quickly subdued when at the top of this precipice we found ourselves surrounded by a tribe of well armed natives. Now I felt more foolish than manly. Thoughts rushed through my head; why wasn't there another way to support my future brides? After all, I was a prince. What could I possibly need from these islands that couldn't have simply been purchased in the local market? These thoughts were interrupted by an eerie whirring sound. The voices on the wind, Sumba! We were on Sumba. I had heard tales of the island of ghosts. Now in unison with the whirring in the wind, the tribe was beginning to chant. The bones that the tribe wore as necklaces rattled as they danced. I wondered if they were human bones. At this point I was beginning to wonder if the tribe was human. I knew I had to do something to keep my crew from panicking. If these were my thoughts, the thoughts of an educated prince, I could only imagine what theirs were; fed by years of superstitious old wives' tales.
   Suddenly, a song I had used to entertain my cousins when family gatherings became too serious came to my head. I'd found the song written in a book taken from a pirate ship. The song never sounded quite right and of course how could it, we didn't know the tune. We had, however, figured out most of the words by using the ship dictionary. The page containing the definition of jug had unfortunately been torn out. Since the song mentioned love for a little brown jug, we figured jug must mean girl since anything little and brown which one loved must be a girl. So, we sang it as a love song.  This was the song I burst out with at that moment.
   I sang  it to one of the oldest of my bodyguards for best effect. He happened also to be Priti's father. Priti was a childhood playmate. Had I not been a prince, that sweet young peasant girl would have been my first choice for a wife; strong but delicate. I wondered what Priti would be doing right now. As I thought of her I began to dance with her father, Santran, as if he were her. It was a ridiculous dance that I danced with him, half lame that he was, it couldn't have been otherwise. And so I sang, "Little brown jug how I love thee. Little brown jug how I love thee." While singing I looked deeply into this shriveled up old man's eyes as if he were Priti herself. Right then as we danced that most ridiculous dance, the old bodyguard cracked a smile, showing off his one and only, that's right, solitary tooth. Neither my men nor the tribe could contain themselves any longer. They were all laughing so hard together that they they forgot we might be enemies. At that moment the rest of the tribe came out from behind the trees. Little children, old women, and young women. After they'd wiped their tears from laughing and calmed down a bit, Santran and I ended our song and dance. This was my opportunity to present a gift I'd brought for the king of the tribe.
   The ghostly voices that seemed to be carried on a light breeze continued but  the tribe had stopped their chant. It was as if the tribe were deaf to these sounds. I spoke to the crew in our dialect, telling them to pay no attention to the ghostly voices which, I said, could have been a magicians trick such as we'd seen performed in the market. This calmed them a bit.
   Now everyone was watching to see how the king would receive my gift. The gift was a book  from one of the many pirate ships that had sunk off our shores. We referred to any ship of unknown origin as a pirate ship. After all, for what other reason than to steal would men of a race we'd never seen before come to our shores. With that thought in mind, I wondered what our island hosts must be thinking of us.
   The king's response dispelled my apprehensions. His eyes lit up as if he'd seen a book like it before, almost as if this were the long awaited sequel. He took my hand and shook it with such vigor that I wondered what the book contained or whether it was just his pleasure at receiving a gift instead of a knife through the ribs. Then the king excitedly spoke to his tribe:
   "Mananampalataya! Mananampalataya!" [Believers! Believers!]
   His tribe now gathered very closely around him to try and see for themselves what the gift was. Again, the king spoke.
   "Ang magandang balita!" [The good news!]
   At his words they all began shouting thanks to their God. They called their God by a name I had never heard. I'd never seen anyone shout praises to God so openly before. Had it not been for my glee at their thanking God and not cursing me I might have been offended by such a personal way of addressing God. I had always seen God as far off. Someone who could only be prayed to in a very formal way.
   I was happy that the book I'd given them was so treasured by the king and his tribe. What good fortune that we were not only being well received but that we were delivering something of such significance to them. None of my people had ever been able to translate it. It seemed as though some of the men of his tribe could not only read the book but that they were finding new religious content in it.
   Captain Stephen and I agreed that since no man had ever been to Sumba and returned to tell of it, that we must simply put ourselves in the hands of the Almighty, a first for both of us. Had we any choice? The king had invited Santran and me to stay the night and since it would have been a serious insult to decline a king's hospitality, we stayed. The rest of the men returned with Captain Stephen to the ship. It was up to Santran and myself to establish a trading relationship with the tribe and we'd gotten off to a great start with the gift of the book.

The rest of Prince of Sumba may only be read by purchasing the novel.
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The rest of Prince of Sumba may only be read by purchasing the novel.
Purchase Prince of Sumba online from Barnes and Noble Today! Click Here!


Click here to go to Chapter 15 - Dreams & Visions.

Note: yayas* nannies, nurse maids
This excerpt is from The Prince of Sumba, Husband to Many Wives.
Copyright 1998 - 2009 Don Milton All Rights Reserved.
All Copyright Laws Apply - Thou Shalt Not Steal

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