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Author's note: Picture, courtesy of `ASSUMPTION COLLEGE'
* LIZA 1863 *
The trip to Jamaica was uneventful. The winds were good and the skies were clear.
Tarka invited Okoni to his cabin and, though they talked long into the night, it was early morning before they finally made love, but it wasn't really love, it was just sex. The spark was gone. Time had taken its toll.
With Okoni curled under his armpit, her head resting on his shoulder, her gentle breath tickling the hairs around his nipple, he thought of Beth. He wished that he had brought her with him. He could see her now, a rope tied around her ankle, spray flying from her naked body, as she was towed behind the ship.
No. That would be too kind. A shark might get her and it would be over too quickly.
In Jamaica, slavery had been outlawed and all the blacks were free. Only two of the passengers, afraid of the long voyage ahead, with memories of the voyage over from Africa, took refuse on the small island. The rest were determined to return home.
The loading, of rum, was done smartly and the good ship headed North, into the teeth of a gale. After three days, of what Tarka assured his fellow passengers was only a light gale, many of them wished they had stayed in Jamaica, particularly after one of them was washed overboard.
One of the youngsters, his mother too seasick to notice what she was doing, went outside to see the wind. A sudden wave, washing across the deck, took her over the railing before the hands on deck could reach her. Because of the high seas the ship was unable to turn about. No effort could be made to look for the little girl.
When the storm was over, Tarka had the men bring up the cases of weapons that he had bought. For two hours each day, he taught the warriors how to use guns, and swords, instead of spears.
Some of the villagers had started to learn the art of being a sailor while Tarka was in possession of his own ship. Now they were anxious to begin their lessons anew. The crew of the Gray Mist got an unexpected holiday as a lot of the work was taken over by the passengers.
Tarka took Ogbuji, and Tija, into his quarters and showed them the gold that he had stolen from the Lieutenant and Mrs. Hammon.
"With this we can buy more guns. We can hire warriors from other tribes or even white soldiers."
"You will show us how to use it wisely?" Ogbuji asked.
"I will do my best."
In New York the ship was taken for a slaver and try as they might, neither Tarka, nor the Captain, could convince anyone that their niggers were actually paying passengers. It was with great difficulty, and many delays, that the rum was finally unloaded. However no one was willing to give the Captain a cargo to take out.
Tarka arranged to hire the ship to take his people to Africa. The captain would need no other cargo. Tarka went ashore to purchase weapons, farm tools, and other supplies but Captain Granger wouldn't stay tied to the dock. He didn't like the feeling in the air and was not about to risk his ship.
"I'll wait for ya in the bay. When ye've a cargo ready ye can have the harbour master raise the signal so I know which berth to use. If I see trouble coming my way I'm spreading sail, and heading for the open seas."
"That's fair enough. I'll draw you a chart so if you have to leave you can take these people home. Ogbuji has your fee and he'll pay you when you get there and I'll catch another boat later."
"I still think it would be better to do your shopping in Boston."
"But we don't know anyone in Boston. You know the gun dealer here."
"All right but don't be long. That man o' war has got its flag up calling its crew back on board. I don't like the way their lookout keeps looking our way."
"I'll be as quick as I can."
The Gray Mist shipped its lines and moved out into the harbour. Maintaining a bit of sheet, she slowly circled the bay.
When the Man o' War slipped its berth and fired a warning shot, the Gray Mist broke for the open seas, her sails spreading, and filling, faster than the Man o' War had anticipated.
Because of the crowds in the street it took Tarka a long time to find the gun dealer. He had barely begun negotiating when the Gray Mist put on more sheet and left the harbour. The sound of the shot interrupted the negotiations and Tarka rushed back to the harbour. However, he didn't get far, rioting had broken out in the streets.
Pushing through the crowd, trying to get to the docks, Tarka didn't notice that he was actually pushing to the front of a crowd at the local constabulary office.
As he burst through he found himself in front of a temporary table and an officer wearing a badge, said, "There's no need to push, youg'an. But now that yor' here put yo' hand on the bible. State yo' name. Hold it up higher. Those of you can reach it put yo' hand on his. The rest of you raise your right hand. Now all of you state your name."
Tarka joined the others, "Trevor Monaghan."
"You all swear to uphold the law of the city of New York. You are now deputized."
"But, but," Trevor lifted his hands.
"Oh, no weapon, Bill give this fella a rifle."
Before Trevor could explain, a rifle was pushed into his hands and he was sent into the streets to help quell the riots.
As the others were dispersing, the street became visible. A nigger could be seen being beaten at the next corner.
"There ya go lad. Your first job. Go and protect that poor nigger."
Trevor was torn between trying to get back to the ship, which he feared had already left, and obeying the officer.
"Well don't just stand there lad. They'll be dead before you get there if you don't hurry."
Without answering Tarka stepped up on a veranda, and taking careful aim, squeezed the trigger.
The white man, beating the nigger with a stick, turned and fled. Trevor cursed himself for having missed but realized he had never handled this type of weapon before.
Turning back to the officer at the table he requested powder and ball.
The officer handed him a handful of bullets, "It ain't a musket son. You just slip these in the cylinder here," he said, pointing at the revolving magazine behind the barrel of the gun. It's called a revolving rifle. You get five shots before you have to reload."
Slipping down alleys, Trevor found the dock. A lay about told him of the two ships heading for the open ocean.
For the rest of the day Trevor patrolled the streets. When he encountered rioters looting stores, or raping women, or beating blacks, he simply stood back and shot. He replenished his ammo supply from his victims.
As evening wore on he startled a hotel clerk with his presence in the well appointed lobby, "Special constable, I saw some trouble upstairs."
Without further explanation he bounded up the stairs. Patrolling the corridors he eventually found a room that was unlocked and settled in for a nights sleep.
The next morning Trevor pondered his situation. By now the Gray Mist was well out to sea and wouldn't be coming back. He had no money. He had no friends. He had no destination. And he didn't know where he was.
Walking out through the lobby he waved at the desk clerk, "Everything looks good up stairs."
Trevor still hadn't made any decisions but as he reached the street his next move was decided for him.
Two groups of males were pelting each other with rocks in the middle of the street. Feeling in better spirits today Trevor fired a warning shot into the air.
One of the fighters yelled, "Who's side are you on?"
"I'm on the side of law and order. I want you all to go home."
Trevor was answered with a hurled stone, "You go home."
Trevor's reply was to raise his weapon to his shoulder and squeeze the trigger. His assailant's body fell to the ground and the rest of the combatants dispersed.
Walking down the street, weapon at the ready. Trevor came across a little boy sitting on a horse trough.
"This street is not a very good place for a young tad like yoreself," Trevor said to the little tyke, "You should be at home."
A feeble voice replied, "I don't know where my home is."
"Where's your mommy?"
"Where's your daddy?"
"I don't know. He went that way and told me to wait here." The lad pointed in the direction from which Trevor had just come.
Torn between leaving the boy where he was, in the middle of a street that could, at any moment, erupt into violence, and taking the boy with him, when he was looking for violence, Trevor decide it would be best to take the lad in the direction his father had gone.
As they passed the body, Trevor had left in the street, the boy pointed and cried, "There's my daddy."
Before Trevor could stop him, the boy broke loose and ran to his father. Shaking him the boy cried, "Daddy, Daddy, wake up."
Kneeling, Trevor took the boy in his arms.
"How come my daddy is sleeping in the middle of the street?" he asked, without looking at Trevor.
Trevor bluntly replied, "He's not sleeping. He's dead."
"It's kind of like sleeping except you never wake up."
"You're just a bundle of questions aren't you?" Trevor asked rhetorically as he picked the boy up in his arms, "Let's go find your mommy."
Trevor had thought about searching the body for some identification, hopefully a home address, but some kind citizen had beaten him to it. All the man's pockets were turned inside out and everything of value was gone, including the man's boots. There were no papers left lying about that might have helped.
"But what about daddy? How will he get home if he sleeps foreber?"
"Why don't we find your mother and let her figure that out."
Hoisting the lad onto his shoulders Trevor turned down a side street away from the noise of gunfire. After walking down several streets he finally came across a school house with several pairs of eyeballs peering over the window sills.
Peering through the windows he questions each one, "Do you know this boy?" At each window he got negative shakes of the head from children until he finally saw the school marm but she, too, gave a negative answer.
"Will you take the boy until I can find his mother?"
Again he got a negative shake of the head.
"He will be safer with you than with me. His father has been shot dead and I can't take him with me."
In reply to the school marm's negative reply he said, "I am a police constable and I have to get back on the streets. Open the door and take him in or I will break the door open."
"Either way I am charging you with the care of this boy until we can locate his mother."
Reluctantly the teacher opened the door and just as reluctantly the boy let go of Trevor.
"Don't go to sleep in the street like my daddy," he said to the departing Trevor.
Trevor stopped in his tracks, tempted to turn back, then carried on.
Leaving the school, Trevor again turned away from the sounds of battle. From the school marm he had learned that he had landed in New York in the middle of draft riots. Niggers were being hung in the middle of the streets.
Trevor decided he wanted no part of it. He couldn't go South as that is where the war was. He couldn't go East because that is where the Ocean was and he didn't have money for passage on a ship.
As far as he knew he could go North or West. If he had to walk he had to walk. And he did, until he came up against the river. Then he turned North and walked towards a bridge that he could see in the distance.
Along the way he stopped people and asked directions. He learned that he was approaching the George Washington Bridge. If he stayed on this side of the river he would eventually reach Canada. If he crossed the river he would eventually reach the territories.
Neither destination appealed to Trevor more than the other so he continued until he reached the bridge, only to find a hanging party in progress. He ordered the killers to cut the nigger down but they replied to his orders with gunfire.
Ducking behind a building, he was fairly safe, while they were out in the open. It didn't take long to dispatch the three men but it was longer than the nigger could hold his breath. By the time Trevor cut the man down, he was dead.
At the other end of the bridge he could see another lynch party taking place. To interfere would put him in the open, on the bridge, so he decided to go North instead, of West.
After searching the bodies of the men he had killed, collecting their ammunition, a few New York coins, and a gold piece, he continued along the river.
Late in the day Trevor came across an inn. Bargaining with the inn keeper for a room and a meal, he found that most of the coin, Knickerbocker tokens and Lindenmueller tokens, he had stolen, were new local currency that had only been issued that year. These the Inn Keeper would accept but some of the coin were Sutler tokens.
The inn keeper told him they were only good for Sutlers, vendors, who followed the army and sold to the soldiers. As the Inn keeper did, occasionally, have such drummers for customers, he agreed to take the Sutler coins, but below face value.
Trevor didn't really care. He was able to sleep in a peaceful room with a full stomach and still had the gold coin.
Early in the morning Trevor was awakened by a noise at the door. By the time the intruder had it opened Trevor was waiting behind it, a pistol that he had taken from one of his victims, levelled at the man's kidneys.
The sound of the hammer cocking caused the man to freeze, "I'm police."
"I'm a special constable," Trevor replied.
There was no light coming through the window or the door. The man was only a vague outline. "So am I."
Trevor could hear a second man in the hallway outside the door, "Got a badge?" He asked.
"No. Have you?"
"You're kinda far from downtown."
"They didn't say where. They just said patrol."
"Where you from?"
"What brings you up this way."
"I smuggled some niggers out of Alabama."
"Where did you get the Knickerbockers."
"Off some guys I shot back at a bridge."
"How come ya shot em? Why didn't ya arrest em?"
"There was four of them, and only one of me."
"Well your supposed to arrest them, not just shoot them."
"They didn't give me any instructions. Just put my hand on the bible and swore me in."
"Yeah. Us too. Next time try to arrest them. Take them back where we got swore in. Then you can pick up a badge at the same time. They're supposed to have some made up for us."
"OK," The man turned slowly, "By the way, nice shooting."
"Thanks." Trevor closed the door and, after he was sure that he heard two pair of boots descend to the bottom of the stairs, sat on the bed for nearly an hour before he uncocked the pistol and fell asleep.
The next morning Trevor prevailed upon the inn keeper for a free breakfast and then proceed with his patrol. In the direction of away.
Following the banks of the Hudson River he was contemplating the idea of getting a job on a barge. He had no idea how far it was to Canada but he figured it was father than he wanted to walk.
Twice he saw barges going downstream and he waved at the crews. Only one barge went by in the other direction but the Captain said he had a full crew.
Close to noon Trevor came across two men lying on the road with their heads over the edge, yelling into a culvert. When Trevor asked them what they were doing one man rolled over with a pistol in his hand. Trevor shot him through the head before he had a chance to level the gun.
The other man, immediately held his arms straight out from his shoulders a gun in one hand, "Don't shoot. Don't shoot."
"Then drop the gun."
Trevor's command was immediately obeyed and the pistol fell into a small trickle of water that was running into the river.
"OK. Roll over and sit up."
The man complied, "Now why did you want to go and shoot Zane. He weren't hurtin' nobody?"
"Had a gun in his hand. Didn't look too friendly to me."
"Well, we both had guns in our hands. But we wouldn't have shot you." the man replied, brushing dirt from his vest.
"Who were ya going to shoot?"
"Wasn't really gonna shoot anybody. Just trying to scare my niggers outta the ditch." The man replied buttoning his top coat over his vest.
"Not strictly speakin'" As he straightened the top hat on his head, he added, "They belong to a man down to Georgia. But I found `em so the reward is mine." Standing up the man brushed the dirt off the seat of his pants.
"Well let me tell you somethin, Mr. Bounty hunter from Georgia. This ain't Georgia. This here is New York. And in case you haven't heard President Lincoln has outlawed slavery in all of the United States."
"Well Georgia isn't part of the United States." He said as he pulled out a cigar.
Before the Dapper Dan could continue Trevor shot the end off the cigar, "It's a mighty long way from here to Georgia, but if you start walking now you might get there before they lose the war and become part of the United States again."
Nonchalantly the man brushed the tobacco from his sleeve, stuck the remains of the cigar in his mouth, turned about, and silently walked away.
Trevor knew that he had met a man he could not trust and didn't lower his guard, or his rifle, until the man had walked a long ways away.
Slipping down the bank he cautiously peered into the culvert to see who the two men had been after.
Ten white eyes stared back at him from five, coal black, frightened faces. "You can come out now. I've chased them away."
"Yassuh. We's comin' ou'. Please don' shoo' us."
Trevor lowered his rifle, "I'm not going to shoot you. I'm a special constable and it is my job to protect you."
Climbing back up the bank Trevor checked the road and then called down to the family appearing from the end of the wooden culvert, "You can come up now. He's gone."
A voice from below called up, "There were two of them, Mister."
"I know. It's OK," Trevor called back as he began to rifle the pockets of the body in the road. Two gold coins and some ammunition that fit one of the pistols that he had picked up from the water below. The other pistol he flung far out into the water.
He pulled the boots off the body and handed them to the nigger climbing the hill, "These look in fair shape and they're too big for me. Give em a try."
"Papa, he shot the man," Came a small voice from behind him.
"Yes, suga'. Sho' looks like he don' did." Taking the proffered boots he added, Thankee, "Massah Sir."
"Yore from the South I gather?"
"Yassuh, Massah Sir."
"Let's get one thing straight right now. You ain't in the South and no man is your master. The next time you say Massah to me I'm gonna bop you in the mouth."
"Yassuh, Mas..." The man stammered, "Uh. Yes sir."
Shaking hands with the man, Trevor learned that his name was Lazarus and was heading North to Canada. He had been running on the underground railway but the bounty hunter had killed their last contact and chased them down the road.
Trevor assured them that they didn't need to be hiding any longer and if they wanted to go to Canada they could just walk along the road like him.
Near noon the small group passed a field where workers were harvesting wheat. For the promise of a meal, and a hayloft to sleep in, they hired on to work the rest of the day.
The entire family pitched in cutting the wheat and wrapping it in bundles. Even the tadpole earned her keep by carrying the bundles and stacking them in stooks.
It was a weary crew that crawled into the hay after supper. With just a thin, worn, blanket, that the farmer gave him, Trevor was asleep in minutes.
Late in the night, after the air began to turn cool, he felt two cool bodies crawl under his blanket. With one curling up on each side of him he drifted back to sleep, visions of Okoni wafting through his mind.
Okoni had shared Trevor's cabin aboard the ship to New York, but it was just two people sharing the night. What had once been, was gone.
Through his dreams of Okoni's administrations he began to realize that there was some reality to his feelings. Where he dreamed of a mouth he could actually feel two mouths.
Reaching out he felt a head on either side of him. Both had short curly hair and both were about the same size. They could only be the girls that he had rescued from the culvert.
From the size of the heads he knew that neither of them was the tadpole, for which he was grateful, but still one of them was too young to be where she was. Although about four years apart in age they were of equal height and development.
And while his sleep befuddled brain was trying to absorb all this his thoughts of refusing the younger one were dismissed from his mind as two mouths working along either side of him had a small fight with the winner engulfing him.
While the winner continued to enjoy her prize the loser began to reverse her previous path, back up to his chest and finally his mouth, which prevented him from waking the entire barnyard as the winner succeed in her endeavour of devouring her prize.
Trevor, after letting the girl drain him, gently pushed her aside. She then began to follow her sister's example of working her way back along his body until the two mouths were vying for his kisses.
When two hands had reactivated him, one of the girls slid her body onto his. As she slowly impaled herself she paused, for a moment, her body stopped.
Trevor lay still until she recovered from the surprise of the breaking of her hymen. As the pain subsided nature took over and she began to move.
Just as she was moving faster, and Trevor was combining his rhythm with hers, she suddenly let out a scream, of pain and surprise, and rose off him completely.
Unseen by Trevor a man had grabbed the girl by the head and, lifting her off Trevor, flung her across the hay.
Trevor experience a sudden pain on the bridge of his nose and was unable to lift this head. Faint morning light filtered into the barn but was blocked out by something between his eyes. Distinctly he heard the metallic click of a gun hammer and froze with fright.
A voice, that he didn't at first recognize, told him to stay where he was, "Just don't make any sudden moves, mister nigger lover. Now you wish you had pulled that trigger, don't you? I heard you pull back the hammer while I was walking away." The man stepped back removing the spitting end of a double barrelled greener that had been resting between Trevor's eyes.
"Well, it was you're misfortune and my good fortune that you let me live. Cause guess what. While I was hiring some recruits to replace Zane, I came across an interesting' bit o' information."
"There's a price on yore head. Seems some lady, in Alabama, name o' Hammon, has posted a big reward for you."
Stepping back another step, he indicated to a man standing beside Trevor, with his foot on the other girl's throat, to step forward. Now you just roll over and Pat here is going to tie yore hands behind your back, mister nigger."
"Yeah that's right. Turns out you ain't no special constable, just a run away high colour slave."
Thoughts racing through his head Trevor started to roll over, towards Pat, as he bent over, then suddenly spun the other way, rolling across the hay, and falling over the edge of the hayloft, to the floor of a stall. As he fell his head hit a horse collar, hanging on the wall, and brought it crashing down on top of himself.
The sounds of the ten gauge tore through the still night. The flash from the barrels lighting up the interior of the barn and setting the dry hay on fire.
Dazed by his fall Trevor was too stunned to move. As he looked up he could see the man, outlined by the fire, standing on the edge of the hayloft, reloading his shotgun.
"Now that weren't too bright Mr. White Nigger. Yo' almos' got yoreself shot dead." Without taking his eyes off Trevor he called to the man behind him, "Pat. Put that fire out. Just roll that nigger gal onto it if you cain' find a blanket or somethin'"
"Then you wouldn't get your reward would you?" Trevor called up as he tried to crab sideways out of the man's line of sight.
"You keep movin' before Bill gets there and ties you, you' goin' to be one dead nigger. Now me I don't rightly care cause the reward says dead or alive."
"You said a big reward. Why would she pay a big reward if she wanted me dead."
"Probably wants to whip yore hide for running away."
"Or maybe I have something she wants."
"Like a hundred of her slaves."
"A hundred slaves? Reward didn't say nothing about no hundred slaves"
"Ninety-three, not counting me. I didn't leave by myself. Be a big bounty you bring back all ninety-four of us."
After a few moments of silence, Trevor added, "So if you kill me you won't know where the other slaves are and you get no reward at all."
"Well, maybe I won't kill you, just yet, but if you make another move I'll blow your legs off. Bill," the man called and when he received an answering grunt, continued, "Get over here and tie this white nigger."
The fire was out but the sun was coming up and enough light was getting into the barn so that Trevor could see the shotgun pointing at his legs. He was tight against the wall and couldn't move anywhere without being seen, or shot, so he slowly pulled up his pants and buttoned up his flies.
When the man named Bill appeared, Trevor held his hands together in front of his chest, inviting Bill to tie him. As Bill bent over, Trevor's hands reached up, grasped the man by his throat, and pulled him down.
One or two buckshot pellets grazed Trevor's legs and a few of the out flying ones hit the floor of the barn. The main blast was absorbed by Bill's lower back.
While the man above was reloading Trevor rolled out from under Bill's body and ran out of the barn. Cursing, that he hadn't taken the time to take Bill's, gun he ran for the house.
Before he reached the back door, it opened and a figure fired at him with a pistol. The hasty shot went wide and Trevor quickly changed direction, barely getting around the corner of the veranda before a second shot took out a junk of wood from the trim.
The man had said he had gotten reinforcements and before Trevor met Bill he had assumed the man meant Pat. Now Trevor wondered how many others were here.
At least one in the barn, besides the bounty hunter, and at least one in the house, but how many more. Then he heard pounding footsteps and knew the one from the back door was no longer in the house. But where to run? It was a long way to the next corner of the house and nearly as far to the tree line.
Crouching against the wall of the veranda Trevor waited for his pursuer to round the corner. A gun was the first thing to appear. Twisting up and away from himself, so he wouldn't get shot, he grabbed the man's hand.
The man let out a grunt of surprise and the gun wet sailing across the yard. Quickly the man recovered and lashed out with a foot, catching Trevor in the shin, dropping him to the ground as he was preparing to race after the gun. When the man tried to follow his gun, Trevor grabbed his leg and brought him down.
Now the two rolled together, twisting and writhing, like two snakes, neither getting the upper hand. A bullet struck the ground near them, and Trevor, leaping to his feet, fled, bullets whistling around him as he rounded the far corner of the house.
The front of the house might have offered some sanctuary, with a gazebo, a lawn swing, and a hedge along the driveway, but the gazebo was being used as a prison with the farmer, his family, and the house servants, being held inside, by two men with guns. One of the men had stepped towards the corner of the house to see what all the ruckus was out back when Trevor came barrelling around the corner and ran right into him.
It could be compared to running into a wall. A wall of human flesh. Trevor was big but this man was bigger. About the size of a wall and about as intelligent.
Trevor came to a sudden stop as he flattened himself against the wall. Instinctively he hung on or he would have fallen. In the time it took Trevor to get his breath back, he began to realize what he had hit.
Quickly, or as quickly as he could, considering how winded he was, Trevor reached out and took the man's gun.
As the man started to object, Trevor, holding the gun by the barrel, brought the pistol butt down on the man's head. It was as effectual as having hit a wall.
As blood started to spurt from the man's head he said, slowly, "Oh. You hurted me. Now I'm going to have to hurt you."
Trevor could see the big man's arms starting to engulf him and knew he wouldn't stand a chance of survival if he was to get a bear hug. Quickly reversing the gun he shot the man in the head just before the two massive arms closed around him.
As the lifeless wall crumpled to the ground, Trevor fired a shot at the other man still in front of the gazebo and then turned in time to see the first of his pursuers round the corner of the house.
Trevor's first shot caught the man from the back door in the neck above the shoulder. Pat, hard on the man's heels tried to stop and barely kept himself from falling by grabbing onto the corner of the house which left himself wide open. Trevor shot him through the ribs.
A shot sounded behind him and a bullet buried itself in the side of the house. Trevor made a dive for the ground and rolled around the corner.
Lying on his back he looked up at the bounty hunter who was against the wall, edging forward to the corner. Trevor kicked up, dislodging the shotgun from the man's hand, causing it to go off.
Both barrels fired at once and the man didn't have a good grip. The recoil of the heavy gauge greener tore the weapon from the man's hand, the hammers tearing the webbing of flesh between his thumb and first finger.
Roaring in pain the man tried to extract a pistol from his belt with his wrong hand. While he fumbled about, Trevor had time to regain his footing and, lashing out with his pistol, tried to club the man in the side of his head.
Although injured, the man was not totally impaired. Ducking Trevor's blow, he struck out with his good hand, catching Trevor's gun and twisting it from his hand. He immediately followed up with a swing with his injured hand.
Hitting Trevor on the cheekbone, he did little damage to Trevor but, he further injured his hand to the extent that he was out of the fight, while he screamed in pain.
He didn't realize that Trevor was also out of the fight. Blood from his injured hand had entered Trevor's eyes, blinding him.
While the man bent over clutching his injured hand with his good hand, Trevor was desperately trying to clear his eyes, wondering where his assailant was and why he wasn't being shot.
Searching about with his hands, Trevor grabbed handfuls of grass, and ripping it from the ground, used it to wipe his face. As he was slowly beginning to clear the drying blood from his eyelids he heard a startled exclamation, "Jesus."
Involuntarily Trevor twisted about, his only weapon, two handfuls of grass, he flung them into the face of the gunman from the gazebo. The man's gun went off, the bullet soaring into the sky. Trevor reached out, burning his hand on the hot barrel of the freshly fired gun, but retained his grip, and twisted it out of the man's hand.
Quickly turning the gun around, while the gunman was still trying to clear his eyesight, he shot the man between his fingers.
As the lifeless body slumped to the ground Trevor did a quick turn looking for more adversaries. At first, not seeing any danger, he took some time to further clear his eyes, then looked around again, but this time more slowly.
Niggers and farmers in the gazebo, niggers coming from the barn, and five men on the ground near his feet. Trevor couldn't see any danger anywhere so he took the time to further clear his eyes and then checked the men.
The man, and the wall, from the gazebo, both had bullets in their heads. The man from the back door was unconscious and bleeding profusely from the neck. Pat was curled up coughing blood and the bounty hunter was sitting on the ground, holding his injured hand with his good hand.
As he cocked his pistol Trevor spoke to the bounty hunter, "You were right. I was thinking of shooting you in the back. I should have. It would have saved everyone a lot of trouble. I won't make that mistake again." The pistol was pointed at the man's head but the hammer fell on a used round.
As the man staggered to his feet Trevor calmly picked up the man's shot gun. He took careful aim at the retreating bounty hunter's back and pulled both triggers. Again, an empty gun.
By the time Trevor searched the bodies around him and found a loaded weapon the man was out of sight. Racing to the back of the house, Trevor was in time to see the bounty hunter, riding a horse down the back lane. Trevor took a parting shot but knew he would miss.
The rest of the morning was spent digging a deep trench between rows of corn. After the bodies were buried in a common grave, Trevor, apologizing for the trouble he had brought upon the farmer, headed North.
Trevor had wanted to leave one of the horses in exchange for some food but the farmer didn't want any evidence left behind. He gave them what food he could spare and wished them a safe journey.
Each saddle had a scabbard with a rifle. Trevor and Lazarus, had two pistols each. As well a third man, Sam, and his wife, Wilma, who had been working in the fields and desired to go North to Canada, was given a pistol.
Neither of Trevor's companions had ever ridden a horse before, so the procession had to move slowly less someone fell off. Lazarus rode with Pearl. Sam rode with Wilma. Lazarus's two older girls, Liza and Mabel, rode together. The tadpole, Becky, rode with Trevor.
During the day, whenever they were not near civilization, Trevor would teach Lazarus and Sam how to load the guns, to aim, and shoot. He knew he had not seen the last of the bounty hunter. He would not be unprepared the next time he received a visit.
There was not much Trevor could do. He didn't know the country, his little band couldn't move very fast and they were too large a group to hide. And too ineffectual to fight.
He had the two men trained in loading and firing but they wouldn't be able to hit anything. More than likely they would only attract attention to themselves and become targets if they fired their weapons. Trevor knew that when the bounty hunter came back he would be more prepared, and have more men with him.
Just before dusk, Trevor, and his little band of fugitives, reached Dobbs Ferry. As luck would have it, a river boat was loading to go upstream. It took a bit of bartering, the three men would help load and unload, and work on deck, the two women would work in the galley, the two girls would work as chamber maids, the captain would get one of the horses, and Trevor would pay two of his gold coins.
In exchange each of the men would get a room on the lower deck, the boat had few passengers this trip, the horses would get deck space, and all would get meals as far as Glen's Falls.
It wasn't until they were loading at the next stop, and Trevor had a chance to talk to some of the other roosters, that he learned he had been dealing from a stronger position than the Captain.
The captain had lost part of his crew in the New York riots and was short handed. Trevor could have struck a better deal.
But a deal was a deal and they were relatively safe. He knew however they weren't completely out of the woods.
Because they were stopping at every little town, he knew that the bounty hunter could easily catch and pass them and could very well be waiting for them anywhere along the way.
At dawn Trevor collapsed in his room. His hands were sore and blistered and full of slivers. Twice during the night the boat had pulled in to the shore near piles of cordwood and the roosters had manhandled the four foot pieces of split log from the shore to the deck, where they stacked it, ready for the ever hungry boilers.
After a mere two hours sleep Trevor was awakened to go back on deck. The boat had reached the next levee and he was needed to help unload cargo. To his surprise his hands were bandaged and free from slivers. He had neither heard nor felt anything.
There was no time to contemplate who it might have been. The mate was screaming at them, shouting the foulest words one could imagine, yet Trevor had heard them all before. Four letter words were nothing new to a sailor. In fact it was almost nostalgic to the young man.
Several days went by. An endless pattern of sleep, work, sleep, work, with the odd break for a meal. Often upon awakening Trevor would find that his hands had been cleaned and fresh bandages applied.
Hoping to lose his pursuers, Trevor reopened negotiations with the captain. Thinking that the bounty hunter wouldn't expect him to double back, Trevor agreed to stay on to the end of the run at Mayfield on Great Sacandaga Lake and then get off at Glen's Falls on the return trip. In return for his labours Trevor would get his horse and his two pieces of gold back, plus some pay for Lazarus and his family.
Sam and Wilma decided that the bounty hunter wasn't looking for them and it would be safe for them to leave at Glen's Falls.
There was only one stop along the South shore of the lake during the upstream run and one on the North shore going downstream. This gave the crew more time for relaxation and Trevor learned a lot about the West as some of the roosters had worked on the big paddle wheelers on the Missouri and the Mississippi rivers.
Trevor also learned who had been bandaging his hand.
During the first night on the lake, when all was quiet, and everyone had gone to bed, at a respectable hour, Trevor was awakened by a scuffle at the door to his cabin. Starting to rise, and reach for his gun, he stopped and watched two slim silhouettes, in dresses, scuffling with each other in the doorway.
Noticing that Trevor was watching, the two stopped fighting, conversed, in a whisper that Trevor couldn't understand, then stepped inside, and closed the door.
The stygian blackness was beyond penetration and Trevor could do nothing but lie back and trust his ears. There was no further conversation but Trevor could hear the soft rustle of cloth and the padding of bare feet on the wooden floor.
Slowly the blanket was pulled from his naked body. A voice whispered in his ear, "We know you are awake. Just lie still."
Liza, for Trevor recognized her voice, crawled over top of him and stretched out between him and the wall. Her hands slid across his chest, fingers playing with the hairs on his chest. Another pair of hands came from the other side and began similar administrations.
The four hands were joined by two mouths, like the night in the barn, as the two girls began to kiss him.
Starting with his face they worked their way down his body. This time he knew who's mouth was who's and he noticed that while Mabel began working her way South Liza lagged behind, spending a long time with her mouth on his. Though she did travel around, her mouth never worked further South than his neck. Her fingers, however, seemed to be sharing him with Mabel's mouth, until Trevor started to squirm about on the bed.
Liza slid on top of Trevor replacing Mabel's mouth with her body. Similar to the last time, the girl on top lowered herself onto Trevor and then stopped, a shudder running through her body, then slowly she lowered herself further, until Trevor was fully engulfed. Now Trevor knew that it had been Mabel on top, the night in the hayloft.
Mabel worked her mouth up along Trevor's side until she reached his nipple. Later, when Liza arched her back and her mouth left Trevor's, Mabel trailed kisses up his throat to his face and finally covered his mouth, just in time to prevent him from waking the entire boat.
At the same time, Liza bent down and buried her mouth in Trevor's shoulder, leaving a large bite mark in the sun bronzed skin.
It was fortunate that the boat didn't have any landings that night or the next day as Trevor got little sleep. The stops were few as the boat circumnavigated the lake, the weather held, but Trevor and the girls saw little sunshine.
Disembarking at Glen's Falls Trevor spent what little money he had on supplies for the trip North. With Sam and Wilma having left they now had another horse and Pearl could ride by herself leaving Lazarus's gun hand free.
Trevor had little doubt in his mind that they weren't free and clear of the bounty hunter. He knew the man was determined. He would want to avenge the disgrace of having lost a prisoner twice, not to mention the physical injury that Trevor had caused him. As well, Trevor mentioning the other slaves, as a distraction, would give him further cause to find them.
Trevor asked around, checking with merchants and bar tenders. During the past week ten hard cases had, separately, drifted through town. The barkeep remembered the fancy dude with the top hat, frock coat, and vest with silver chain, who smoked cigars with a bandaged hand. He also seemed to think that the ten men were together although they had been in separately.
Unfortunately neither the bartender or the hostler at the livery, could tell Trevor which way the men were heading or when they had left town.
The men could be North of town watching the trail, they could be around town watching the boats arrive, or they could have followed the boat to Mayfield thinking Trevor was heading West. Or they could have split up and be covering all possibilities.
Trevor, after deliberation with Lazarus, decided the former was the most likely possibility. Neither of them liked the conclusion they reached. Six against ten could be a consideration if the six were fighting men. But when four of the six were unarmed females, and one of the remaining two had no gun experience, it became one with five anchors, against ten warriors. Not the kind of odds Trevor favoured.
Trevor thought about joining another party going North but the first party he saw was a group such as their own and he didn't feel it would be right to bring his troubles onto more women and children. The next party he saw was a group of three men but they could just as easily have been some of the men he wanted to avoid. Realizing they couldn't stay in town forever, the party started out.
It was a long day and they made few miles. First Trevor and then Lazarus would take turns riding slowly ahead, weapon at the ready, until they could see around the next bend in the road. If all was clear they would signal for the rest of the party to advance. Very much like a military action.
It was a cold camp, that first night, near the base of West Mountain. They had no blankets, and though it was summer, they were high, in the forest, near lakes and rivers. The air was cold and damp. They couldn't light a fire, so more than once they pushed ahead a few miles between short naps.
Just before sunrise, Lazarus on scout, signalled the women to wait, and for Trevor to join him.
Casually Lazarus nodded his head towards the bush at the side of the trail and then rode on so the women couldn't mark the spot. Taking the hint Trevor rode slowly forward, casting his eyes into the brush.
Two black bodies, those of Sam and Pearl, were tied to a tree. It was obvious that they had been tortured. Trevor knew that the enemy was ahead and, he knew, it would be a deadly trip to Lake George.
It was Lazarus who, later in the day, spotted the ambush. Cautiously approaching a bend in the trail he stopped, then backed up, signalling the main party to stop.
Leaving the women, Trevor slowly approached Lazarus. When Lazarus explained what he had seen the two, ground reined their horses in the middle of the road and, silently slipped through the trees.
Wishing that he had acquired a knife for Lazarus, he gave him his, and carrying his pistol as a club, they approached the two sleeping men. Lazarus had no trouble dispatching his quarry, silently, but when Trevor raised his arm to strike his target the man leapt aside. On watch, not asleep, but dozing, the man sprung into action.
Before Trevor could stop him, he pulled out a pistol. Trevor grabbed the man's arm and prevented him from shooting him but not from discharging the weapon. All pretence at silence forgotten, Trevor attempted to reverse his weapon but the man grabbed at the gun with his free hand. While the two wrestled Lazarus ran up behind the man and, with a quick knife thrust to the back of his neck, ended the contest.
Quickly the two ran for their horses. Expecting the rest of the ambush to be ahead of them they were prepared to rejoin the women and retreat. However as they regained their horses they saw the enemy coming up behind the women. Screaming at the women to hurry, they extracted their rifles from their saddles and, stepping off to the side of the trail, began to shoot past the women at their pursuers.
Lazarus's shots were ineffectual but did give their assailants cause to doubt the wisdom of their frontal attack. Trevor on the other hand dropped two of the riders and the others dispersed to the side of the trail.
When the women rode by, the two defenders mounted their horses and caught up to them. The enemy also returned to the trail and took up the pursuit.
Within minutes the pursuers were hot on their tails. As the horses turned a sharp corner in the trail, the tadpole fell out her mother's arms.
When Trevor heard Pearl scream he turned to look, but before he could bring his horse to a stop, the pursuing horses, unable to stop or swerve, trampled the little body into the surface of the road.
Ineffectually Trevor fired a couple of shots, then spurred his horse to catch up to the rest of his party. Pearl was trying to turn back but he grabbed her horse and forced her to leave her baby girl.
Urged on by Trevor's yelling, and the bullets flying around them, the horses galloped down a short straight stretch and careened around another bend.
A sudden restriction in the road caused the horses to form a single file and, luckily, they were spaced out enough to allow this manoeuvre without colliding with each other.
The restriction was caused by a work crew, repairing a bridge. The workers had heard the gunfire coming their way and were armed and barricaded. As the lead horse hove into view they nearly opened fire until they realized the rider was a female. As Trevor brought up the rear, urging pearl ahead of him, he shouted at the workers, "They killed our little girl."
No more needed to be said, the workers instantly opened fire and dropped three of the remaining attackers. The others quickly turned their horses into the trees, but before they disappeared one of the horses was hit.
Trevor hauled back on the reins bringing his steed to a sudden halt. However Trevor was not an experienced enough rider to execute such a manoeuvre properly and found himself flying through the air, above the horse's head, until he landed, with a bone jarring thud, on his back, having turned over once in the air, in the middle of the bridge.
Dazedly, rolling over, he staggered to his feet and returned to his horse. With the odds a little more even, Trevor went back down the road, followed by a couple of the bridge workers. Shortly they were passed by Lazarus on a lathered horse, "They shot Mabel," he shouted.
One of the killers gave away his position by taking a shot at Lazarus who immediately pushed his horse into the bush. Shots were heard and a scream followed shortly after.
As Trevor entered the tree line he saw Lazarus lifting his rifle and a body toppling to the ground with a broken skull.
To his left he saw another of the killers taking aim at Lazarus. Trevor got off a shot which did little more than spoil the man's aim but it was enough so that he missed Lazarus. Then the man dropped, falling backwards, as Trevor heard a weapon speak behind him.
That, as far as Trevor knew, left only one killer, if the bar keeper's count was accurate, the bounty hunter himself. Pausing to check that his pistol and rifle were both loaded, Trevor urged his horse through the trees.
Trevor heard a noise, leather against branch, and moved in that direction. Suddenly he heard hoof beats on hard pack and knew the hunted had left the trees. A volley of shots rang out. A hose screamed, nearly drowning out the scream of a man. An excited voice called out, "We got `im."
Relief washed over Trevor and he reined his horse back to avoid a low branch on a tree. A shot rang out, the branch in front of him exploded, splattering his face with stinging slivers and sticky sap.
The horse bolted and the broken branch, barely missing his eye, ripped his ear. Bleeding profusely Trevor tried to stay in the saddle but the horse left the ground to clear a log. Trevor fell, breaking branches from the fallen tree, landing on his side, amidst spruce bows and needles.
Pain pounding in his ear, his breath slowly coming back to him, his arm, bent underneath him, sending throbs of agony to his brain, he was barely aware of a voice from above.
"You have got to be, without a doubt, the most troublesome nigger I have every laid my eyes on. Reward or no reward, I am sick and tired of your white skin." Trevor slowly turned his head and looked up to see a gun barrel pointing at him.
At the same time he saw the bounty hunter's finger tighten on the trigger, he saw gray and red matter explode from the side of the man's head, as his eyes bulged out of their sockets.
The sound of a shot penetrated the pounding in Trevor's head and the man toppled sideways to drape across the tree that Trevor was lying under.
Lazarus bent over Trevor and held out a hand to help him up, "Either the bar keep don't coun' so good, or I don'. I figure there was more than ten. Hope ther' ain' more a dem."
"You and me both. With any luck we should make Canada without any more problems."
"Al'ays problems. Master Trevor, al'ays problems."
With the help of the bridge crew Trevor and Lazarus buried the remains of Becky before her mother could see her.
Returning to the bridge, they found that Mabel had bled to death. A gunshot wound in the back had penetrated her lung.
Along the side of the road, high in the mountains, they buried Mabel, beside her little sister.
The rest of the trip North was uneventful. The smaller party, too sad to notice the beauty and serenity of the forest and the lake.
The competition was gone from her love making and Liza just crawled into Trevor's blankets for comfort. For the first two nights all she wanted was to be held tight, Trevor understood and restrained his animal instincts.
At Dresden Station they acquired employment aboard a river boat that took them through Lake Champlain. At the end of the lake, where the Richelieu River begins, the foursome disembarked.
With the meagre wages they had earned they bought supplies. Continuing North along the river they found a pleasant meadow, surrounded by deep forests of oak on three sides. On the shores of the river, they built a cabin.
Neither of the men had any experience at such a chore but Trevor did know how to fell trees and there were lots of those close to hand. By the time winter arrived they had a snug little two room cabin with plenty of firewood.
With two deer and a moose hanging in a root cellar and a couple of sacks of potatoes bought from a neighbour, in exchange for some labour on his farm, the two couples were set for the winter.
Luckily they had made friends with their neighbours, who had been there for three years, as they had no idea what winter was. Although Trevor, as Jamie, had experienced ice and snow in the North Sea, he had never had to deal with snow five feet deep or winters four months long.
During the long winter Trevor had many hours of idle time to talk to his three roommates. He learned that Lazarus had come from the far side of Africa, while Pearl had been born into slavery.
Pearl had lived on a sugar cane plantation in Jamaica until she had reached the age of fourteen. Separated from her one year old daughter, she was taken to New Orleans where she was sold to a peanut grower in North Carolina.
Lazarus had been a skilled hunter until the slavers captured him. In North Carolina he was taught how to hoe weeds in the fields of peanuts.
Then he was instructed to hoe Pearl and cultivate piccaninnies but after he got her pregnant the first time he was taken away from her and put with other females. Over the ensuing years he was mated with Pearl twice more.
During the last few years, more and more rumours were heard of an underground railway that could take niggers to Canada and freedom. Pearl had never tasted freedom and it had taken a lot of convincing to get her to join him but Lazarus prevailed and when the time came they made their escape. With the loss of her two daughters, Pearl was not all that convinced that freedom was worth the price.
Trapped by freezing winds and swirling snow, Pearl was ready to go back South and pick peanuts.
For days on end the two couples were locked in their cabin unable to even go outside to use the facilities. A smelly bucket in the corner of the kitchen had to be used and was gratefully emptied when the storm would abate and they could dig a path away from the door.
If the wind let up for a day they could dig a path through the snow to the root cellar and the firewood pile and replenish the stock in the kitchen. Another path had to be dug to the stable to feed the horses.
On clear sunny days, with all the chores done, they would trek overland, on snowshoes, to visit their neighbours.
In the spring, snow melting everywhere, and the roads becoming passable, Lazarus and Pearl decided that country living was not for them and the family of five closed up their little home, loaded the horses, and set out for Montreal.
For awhile, Liza, Trevor, and their new son, stayed with Lazarus and Pearl in their new home in Montreal. After a few weeks they decided that they missed the solitude of the forests and returned to their cabin.
The previous fall had been a hard, and busy, time; cutting wild grass, as hay for the horses, trees for logs, to build the buildings, branches for firewood, sod for the roof, and building; a house, corral, barn, root cellar, and outhouse.
Summer was a little slower paced. After returning from Montreal, with a greeting from their neighbours, "We said you'd be back", Trevor set to work, clearing, and ploughing, a garden for vegetables.
He replaced the sod roof with one of cedar shakes and in the fall, after harvesting more wild grass, he built a bigger barn, and added another room to the cabin.
Although they accomplished much, they found time to play with the new born, whom they named Marcel, after their French Canadian neighbour who had done so much to help them through the first winter, and to explore their new neighbourhood. Small lakes and streams were found where they could swim, and fish. Many a sunny afternoon was spent just enjoying each others bodies in the hot sun or the cool shade of a big oak tree.
If the winters were harsh, the summers, though filled with work, were idyllic.
It was late spring, 1866, Trevor, ploughing a freshly cleared patch of land, saw a deer in the trees and, hefting his rifle, followed in pursuit.
The deer led him on a long trek, mostly because Trevor was enjoying the walk in the woods, and though he presented himself several times, Trevor refrained from shooting. As the day passed and evening drew near, Trevor shouldered his rifle, unfired, and turned for home.
As dusk was gathering, Trevor approached his little farm. Warned by loud voices, he avoided the direct approach to the house and approached from the side of the barn.
A Strong Irish accent could be heard, "I've told ya, we're not slavers. We're Fenians."
The replies from within the cabin could not be heard.
"But you are slaves. You're slaves to the British. We've come to help you drive the Brits out. Then you'll truly be free."
"Ahh. I've told you. We're truly sorry we scared your son."
Trevor's mind ceased to function and he stepped from behind the barn raising his rifle to his shoulders. Inside the cabin a small face disappeared from the window, "It's papa."
Liza tried to stop Marcel but the door flew open. Two shots rang out. The small body was thrown back into the cabin. The scream from within the cabin was drowned out by Trevor's shot. One of the killers died instantly. The second shooter turned.
Trevor hadn't practiced throwing a knife for a long time but the skills, learned as a sailor, were well remembered and as his rifle fell to the ground his knife whizzed through the air and caught the raider in the side of the neck. Turning, the third Fenian saw Trevor barrelling towards him and took flight into the trees.
Trevor turned to the cabin where the screams were growing louder. Stepping over the body of his son, Trevor found Liza lying on the floor holding her stomach. Writhing and holding her stomach she answered all of Trevor's questions with howls of pain. When he tried to examine her she screamed again.
He tried to pick her up, to put her on the bed, but she only screamed louder and that is when Trevor saw the blood, on the floor, between her legs.
Without taking time to put on a saddle, Trevor took one of the horses from the barn and raced for the neighbours' farm. Jennean had midwifed Liza through her first birth but, by the time the two returned, Liza had aborted, their daughter. Shot while still inside her mother.
It was six weeks before Liza was able to sit a horse. Packing their few possessions the heartbroken couple left for Montreal. Stopping to say goodbye to Marcel and Jennean, Trevor signed a quit claim, giving their little farm to their neighbours.
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