A Foot In The Door

« February 2009  

"Well, that didn't work as planned," said David. "I vote we raise the asking price so that any other barterers can talk us down without us losing face."

Mark answered slowly, "It might be a good idea in the end to sell him a wagon too."

"The guy back there? Um... Illapu?"

"Yes. If we don't sell too many others today, at least he was interested. We could tell him two and a half is the lowest we could accept."

"It's cleaner if they agree to the price we name. Who's next?"

"From the explanation of the others, I'm guessing it is roughly half a mile further down the road." As they got closer to it, Mark saw the new building that was being erected by the family. "They are definitely expanding..."

One frame-like side had already been raised and was supported by posts so that it couldn't move. The three men were working on lifting the second, and longer, side while Mark and David were pulling into the drive.

Suddenly Mark told David, "They need help."

David, who had already seen it, jumped from the side of the wagon before it had stopped. The frame wasn't rigid enough and it was threatening to fold itself in two as it was lifted. The ropes and the animal they were tied to required the attention of one of the men, which left only two people to deal with a failing frame that was almost 30 feet long. It was impressive that they were even trying it, but help was needed.

It was not possible for David to understand most of what was said but he could see where the frame needed more support. The building was only slightly taller than a house which meant he could lift most of the failing weight. The farmer had probably decided that the frame did not need extra bracing because of its size. He had been wrong.

Mark didn't take long to pitch in his help also and soon two of the walls were standing. Once they were secured together, the youngest of the three original builders climbed the short distance required for him to reach the top. He used several nails to secure another board over the part that David was still supporting.

The farmer turned to them and thanked them for their help. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Kusi -- Kusiñawi -- and this is Ninan. Izhi was guiding the ropes, and over there by the house, being a good girl, is my youngest, Qillqa."

David and Mark introduced themselves.

It looked like a family business. David noticed for the first time that Izhi was actually the farmer's daughter. The youngest, Qillqa, ran over to her father now that the work was halted. It seemed that she had been told to stay clear of everything.

"I'm sure that you didn't come here just because you saw I would need some help. What can we do for you?"

Mark explained, "We did come to ask if you would be interested in buying a wagon, but could spare some time if you need help getting that other side up."

"If you stay to help, we can offer you lunch. I'd have to think about the wagon for a little while though."

David shrugged to Mark to say it was fine with him. The other two sides had already been put together and they went up without a problem. It had only been the one side that had a weak point and David repented of his hasty judgment.

Kusi sent Qillqa to tell her mother about the guests. He and Ninan reinforced the weak side further and also placed boards to hold the four individual walls in place.

It wasn't long before Qillqa returned with the news that lunch was ready. Over the meal, Kusi and his wife, Llasha, asked them several questions about where they were from and how they came to be selling wagons. Mark admitted his own position and that he was trying to earn enough to pay for the freedom of a young widow also.

"¿How much are you charging for the wagons?"

Mark answered Kusi, "Uh... four gold pieces. Three if you won't haggle over the price. We are asking for half of the money up front so that we can pay for the materials."

"I could probably have it for you tomorrow. We could use a new wagon anyway."


"¿Is the down payment so that you can make a payment for this other slave girl?"

"¿Is it that obvious?"

Kusi laughed. "It's what I would do if I was in your position."

"Yeah, I hope others don't see it that clearly."

"You should go talk to Atauchi -- he's five farms down. Tell him I sent you over. He has been looking for a good deal on a wagon."

"¿Are you saying we're selling this too cheaply?"

"It's about the right price, but I think you're telling the truth about helping others. I'm willing to help with that."

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