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~~~~ CHAPTER  TWO~~~~


    No one had heard about what had happened on the journey because none of the market people had arrived home yet--only Omenuko and his remaining load-bearers, the ones he had not sold and had brought back with him. No one had heard that all his belongings had been lost in the river.  Likewise, no one knew what had happened to his load-bearers and his apprentices.

    Since no one had heard about those events, he summoned his younger brother, the one born next to last, and instructed him to go to the houses of the chiefs of our town and to the houses of the others, the parents of all those young people, his apprentices and his load-bearers, and tell them that he, Omenuko, was inviting them early the next morning so that he could relate to them why he had returned when other traders had not yet returned. He then told his brother to tell them that it would not be wise to let anything to prevent their coming early that morning, because "the toad does not run in the afternoon for nothing."

     His brother went quickly and told them all that he was told to say. But some of the people who had been given this message were impatient and they got up during the night in order to see Omenuko before dawn, so that perhaps he might tell them the meaning of this that very night. When they entered his house, they gave him "welcome back" greetings and he acknowledged them cordially. They then told him that his return had alarmed people. He replied that he himself definitely would set out the next afternoon after he finished seeing people he wanted to see, because his load-bearers were still at Bende, they and his young apprentices. After he finished speaking, he said, "Please, go home tonight because I am very tired." They then went home. After they had left, he murmured, "Those who run to a fight do not know that fighting means death." 

   After all this was over, Omenuko called his next younger brother, whose name was Okorafo, and also called the next one, Nwabueze. He did not call the youngest one because he was too small. He posed some questions to these two brothers, saying, "Suppose that I had sold those apprentices of mine, and my load-bearers--what would be my situation in this world?" They replied that something like this would be very unwelcome news. Then he started to relate to his brothers what had happened to him on the road, how all of his goods, his people, and he himself had climbed onto the tree trunk, and how that river, the Igwu, had broken off the ropes that fastened the tree trunk. They had all then fallen into the river and since God in Heaven saved everyone, no one  drowned, but all of his goods had been lost. Their ancestors and God in Heaven had saved his life, but death would  have been better. He went on to say, "On account of this, death is better than life to me just now, and I will surely die. Therefore, you both must start looking for your own salvation [from the townspeople's anger], because for my part I am prepared to die." His brothers then asked him, "Are you going to kill yourself?" He replied, "Yes, go and see after your own lives." Then they told him that what he had done was no small thing, the way he hardheartedly sold out his people because all his goods had fallen into the river. They asked him, "Was there some person who did you this evil?" He replied, "No one did it to me." He then told his brothers to look for their own salvation, because he himself was thinking about another catastrophe which would be worse than selling out those young people. His brothers kept on questioning him without stopping. 

    Then he told them that he had issued an invitation to the chiefs to come early the next morning, and that what he planned was for himself and the chiefs and the fathers of the children he had sold to die all at the same time, by lighting a fire in two containers of gunpowder and placing them under his loincloth, and then he himself would die, he and all those others. This was why he was urging them so strongly to seek their own salvation. His brothers then cried out in low voices what they should have cried out in loud voices. They told him "No." They shook their heads and said, "Don't do this, even though what you did in selling those young people is a deed that will never end until the world ends--do you want to commit another? No, instead, join us in running away. This would be the best thing for us, because what you did will be remembered forever. This is what our grandfathers described as something grandchildren grow up to deal with. This means that our children will suffer because of it; and our children's children will also suffer as well."

    Because of these things that Omenuko's brothers told him, they changed his mind. They all then consulted together. He and his brothers discussed among themselves the idea of running away to another village called Ndi Mgborogwu. If anyone found that he had done something bad that made it impossible for him to live in our village, that person would run away to another village called Ndi Mgborogwu. Also, if a person coming from Ndi Mgborogwu did something very bad, he would be sure to run away to our village. This is something that began so long ago that I cannot say what caused it or brought it on. A thing like this is what the people of our village call "reciprocity." That is why the people of our village and the Mgborogwu people still honor the reciprocity arrangement.

    So they agreed that they would run away to the house of the chief of that land. His name was Mgborogwu. They went to sleep that night, and when day dawned, those chiefs who had been summoned arrived. Omenuko brought them water so they could wash their faces and hands. After they finished washing their hands and faces, he presented kola nut and a bowl of sauce, then said to them, "It is a very sad thing to relate to you that all of my goods have been lost in the Igwu river." He then explained to them how his possessions were lost, and he told the chiefs that he would surely return to Ezi Nnachi to join the people of that town to search thoroughly for his possessions and find out if God in Heaven would help in getting back at least his gun, because the river would not be very high at that time. He also told them that he would not fail to return home soon, and at that time, the children whom Mr. Oji said should wait until he could give them a few things that Omenuko could fall back on would also reach Ezi Nnachi and those children could help in searching for his possessions.

    At that time, everyone felt sorry for him because of losing his belongings in the river.

    The chiefs then went home, and he called his brothers again and asked them, "When is the escape going to start--today or tomorrow?" They told him, "It will take place tonight." Their sister came too, concerned about her brother's loss.  They then told her the story of what had happened on the trip. She was deeply sorry. They also told her that another consequence was their having to escape to another town. They told their sister that she must join them in fleeing. She agreed at once because she saw that what her brother had done was not a thing that would be forgotten. They then said that each one should take the things that were important to him, and they got ready, waiting for nightfall.

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