Family joy and Family problems
Blue Tentacles ran to the area where the flying machine with his family landed and Aunt Violet was quite out of breath when she caught up with him. Almost at once one little cousin rushed out shouting,
“Where’s Scarlet Tentacles?”
“He’s Blue Tentacles now.” an adult quickly corrected, then added quietly, "He was Scarlet Tentacles before he went to prison."
Everyone was embarrassed.
Older cousins came out, adults needed to stop them talking about what Blue Tentacles had done. Some had heard about it from their parents, others had been told worse things from Centaurians their own age, from adults outside their family or from the media. Young Blue Tentacles found his limbs going almost white with humiliation.
Aunt Violet quickly arranged for the group to go to one of the larger indoor mudbaths as the two day Centaurian winter was starting when Porrila was furthest from its sun and the outdoor baths were too cold for the younger children. Blue got to play with a group of very young Centaurians who weren’t as critical as the older kids. All the group enjoyed building mud castles together till one cheeky little youngster started saying,
“Blue Tentacles has been very naughty.”
“Blue Tentacles said very naughty things.” another added.
"Even the youngest children know that I've done something really bad." Blue thought miserably as he swam off.
Aunt Violet didn’t like Blue to explore the grottoes and the rest of the architecture on his own so she joined him.
“I’m young and I must always remember that my life can get better,” Blue said a bit desperately.
“I tried never to forget that things can get better during all the years I was with my late husband.” Aunt Violet answered, “But now my life is very much better, see I’m a rich widow and mistress of a large estate.”
“Thank you,” Blue replied,
Some other adults got the children together and told the kids they should be nice to Blue Tentacles and show him how to be good because he really didn’t want to be naughty anymore.
Aunt Violet went back to the others with Blue Tentacles and tried to interest him in organised games that the adults arranged hurriedly. Blue took part and tried to keep remembering that life can get better. Blue cheered up a bit when Purple Eye Stalks came over from the vehicle maintenance section carrying some small toy vehicles. Purple really understood how to get the toy boats to dive like submarines, then they surfaced in unexpected places, you couldn't see them under the mud. The toys jumped out into the air and did spectacular stunts. Soon all the children admired Purple and almost forgot he was a slave.
Adult Centaurians couldn’t understand why Purple was a bit sad. He had no hard work, he was relaxing in a bath where he wouldn’t normally be allowed and everybody admired him. Being with children just reminded Purple what he had to do without, Purple was sure he would never want to bring a slave child into the world, he was used to sexual continence or to taking great care to avoid him or his partner conceiving. Well there were just those few times when his mistress, yes the Sun Priest would have certainly said that was wrong but master had been especially hard on her and she needed comfort. Both had been careful that Purple didn’t get pregnant as his mistress understood how desperate he was to avoid carrying a slave child and she didn’t want any of her children to be slaves either. Purple was sure his mistress hadn’t conceived as her next child was born well after the normal gestation period and didn’t look at all like Purple. It was a good thing she hadn't conceived as her husband stayed away far longer than was expected and they would have known any child was conceived when he was away.
Still Purple minded not having children, perhaps Purple hoped, just perhaps if I become her special house slave Lady Violet will start a family with me and my children won’t be slaves. Lady Violet was in the mud with her nephew, Purple was so close to her and it would be safe, not like a relationship with another slave. He didn’t dare to touch her even tentatively, anything like that was quite out of the question. He really hoped the way he dealt with the children would please Lady Violet.
Of course Purple was the special friend of Blue Tentacles so gradually his cousins started including him in the games willingly even when adults weren’t organizing things. Aunt Violet and Blue Tentacles mother were pleased that at last the boy was relaxed and happy while the children looked forward to the warmer time when they could go outside. Purple Eye Stalks had promised to show them what outdoor vehicles could do and they were all longing to try that out.
Aunt Violet didn’t feel she had to give her young nephew all her attention anymore so she even had time to appreciate the little favours that Purple kept doing for her. Violet was particularly impressed that Purple Eye Stalks had asked her staff what sorts of things she specially liked and was always bringing her little trinkets or treats from the kitchen that she appreciated.
Far too often good things end before we want them to. Quite without warning Violet got a message from the aircraft landing area. The father of Blue Tentacles had just arrived. Father insisted that Blue Tentacles should get ready to return home at once. Slithery Tentacles or Leering Eye Spots, the disreputable suitor was waiting at father’s mansion and wanted to meet the youngster he planned to marry. For the first time Blue Tentacles found out what his father planned and was terrified.