Free at last, perhaps Edit
The youngster’s tentacles drooped as his father told him how ugly and stupid he had been. They could just kick him out and see how he managed with that miserable tramp. He’d been doing silly things with the lowest type of Centaurian and he'd done so many other bad things as well. Many would think he had no right to exist. Now wasn’t that a bit similar to what Blue tentacles had earlier said to the Terran? This was different as prison psychologists had told him off for misusing his intelligence. He was old enough to see that both couldn't be right but in prison he’d been in the punishment block for contradicting a psychologist so he hung his tentacles respectfully and said nothing.
Little Blue thought back on how that gentle psychologist, Compassionate Tentacles had told not to judge himself or the Terrans as harshly as his father judged him. Quietly Blue told himself,
“No, I do have the right to exist, Compassionate said so! I’ll try to endure bravely, Compassionate reminded me so often that I’m young and there’s plenty of time for life to get better.“
Father carried on sternly saying how he was fortunate they let him stay on as their son so he would have to repay then for that favour.
His father told him next that they wouldn’t have him back at the educational establishment where he had been. There was momentary relief, Blue Tentacles hadn't worked out any way he could possibly face the teachers and other students after what he’d done. At least Blue wouldn't have to face them now.
His father continued,
“I’ve hired tutors for you so you can study at home. The tutors will see to it that you work hard and make amends for what you’ve done. I’ve told them that’s what I want.”
His mother flashed briefly with her tentacles, “Don’t be so hard on Blue.”
Father flashed, “Shut up.” Mother stopped. If he had been Terran he would have said, “Shut up woman.” but Centaurians are hermaphrodite. They can be father or mother but they aren’t man or woman.
Father continued to the boy, “Don’t expect me to be soft-hearted, you’re not going into the mudbath directly when we get home.” A year before the boy would have pleaded or protested but he’d learnt some self control in prison. “You’ll get a mudbath when I think you’ve studied properly and shown proper submission. “
Mother wriggled a few tentacles briefly suggesting, “That's too much” but father ignored it.
So it went on. The boy was glad when they stopped to get fuel for the vehicle and left him with the chauffeur. They gave him something to eat which they hoped would show how little he deserved, after that father grumbled,
“Prison’s ruined him, and he’s not like our class at all anymore. See, he gobbles up the sort of food we give the servants.” Then they went off to dine themselves.
The chauffeur tried to be a bit sympathetic. Blue Tentacles remembered the chauffeur was named, 'Purple Eye Stalks' and has powerful eyes on those stalks that made him a good driver.
"Do you mind being a slave, Purple? Is it worse than being in prison?", Blue asked.
“It’s not always too bad, I get to use better class vehicles and better class things with my master.” Purple felt a bit guilty as the Sun Priest at the temple where the servants worshipped always emphasized that servants should work hard and be content with little. After all the master paid the Sun Priest and the master didn’t want his servants asking for too much. Purple wondered, if the Great Lord Sun minded that he, a slave sometimes enjoyed better class things that belonged to the master.
Purple wouldn’t have dared to be familiar with a Patrician boy while the parents were around as slaves just weren't the equals of the family. The chauffeur was surprised at first how easily the boy struck up a conversation and how the boy talked to him almost as an equal, then he realized the boy had learned to be friendly with other types in prison. He even let the boy try some of the stuff they had given him in his dinner pack.
“Slaves don’t choose what we eat but there’s always enough to eat. “
“Usually there’s enough to eat. Our masters like to keep me and my brother slaves strong. When times are hard it’s the free workers who get dismissed and turned out to starve.”
“Would you rather be free, Purple?”
“I try not to think about that, the Priests at the Sun Temple....”
“Yes I know they say you should accept your station.”
Both knew they couldn’t let the parents see that they were like equals so eye stalks were kept raised and both kept a wary eye open to see when the parents returned. The chauffeur mentioned,
“You’ll like the old odd job man that’s just joined the staff. He’s been asking about you. What’s his name? Ah I remember, Brown Tentacles”.
When he heard that the youngster’s tentacles became iridescent blue with pleasure.