Kaveh wanted to turn and run, but courage flowed into him as he realized Farzin had joined him at the edge of the dais. “Your Majesty,” said the pudgy engineer. “These men have worked hard, under heat and under rain, lifting backbreaking weights for you. Why can’t you pay them what you promised?”
“They don’t need more than what’s in those purses,” said the king, obviously shocked that someone, even the son of nobility, was talking to him like that. “All they want for is food. Anything extra, and they’re liable to spend it on this vice or that. Why, just the other day I saw a working-class woman wearing a silk scarf on her hair.”
“Most likely a cast-off or gift from a rich employer,” Farzin countered. “Should she have declined it simply because it made you think she had wasted money on it that she doesn’t have? Besides, the money in the purses might buy some food — but what if the man has a large family, or a sick wife who can’t work? And what if someone needs a doctor? There’s nothing in the purse for that, and many of the men have injuries from their toil.”
“That’s the lot of the working class, I suppose,” said the king. “Those who deserve it, rise above. I can’t do anything to help those who are where they are.”
“But how can they rise above if you–“
Like labor rights? Justice? Same-sex romance and shapeshifters? Check out Check out Climbing the Date Palm, the sequel to The Second Mango. Available from Prizm Books as an eBook package, from Amazon Kindle or paperback, and in autographed paperback from Wild Iris Books here.
Queen Shulamit is eager to help Kaveh, the youngest prince of a neighboring country, when his father throws his engineer boyfriend in jail for leading his workers in protest over underpaid wages. But if she can’t find a peaceful solution that will keep everybody happy, the two countries could wind up at war.
Art credit Francesca and Jane Dominguez.