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Author's note: Picture, courtesy of `DRAKENSBERG-TOURISM .COM
* OKONI *
At thirteen Okoni was of marrying age. Larger breasted, which is to say she had more than lumps of baby fat, and slightly taller, nearly five feet, than other girls her age, she was not overweight despite the fact that she didn't work or play.
For fear of breaking her hymen through activity, for it was essential that the daughter of the King be a virgin on her wedding day, Okoni was not allowed to swim in the creek, climb trees, cavort beneath the waterfall, or participate in any activity that required strenuous body movement.
Although doted on by parents, lionized by other children, and pampered by adults, Okoni was not a spoiled child. She could have anything she wanted but she wanted for nothing. Sometimes she missed being able to play with the other children as they dove from the rocks into the pool while she leisurely swam around the edge, but she understood why it must be.
For the last ten years peace had reigned in Okoni's village. Before Okoni was born, her father, and his warriors had fought many battles with the neighbouring tribes. Part of the present peace had been bought by the promise of Okoni's marriage to the son of one of the neighbouring chieftains.
A vain man, Beko, the chief, had led a large and powerful army. It had taken many battles to subdue him and convince him that he should join the alliance. Allowing him to save face with his people was an important part of the treaty. The betrothal of an unborn daughter to a one year old son was a master piece of political strategy proposed by the King. The thin string that held the tribe to the alliance was almost severed when the King's first two offspring were male.
By the time Okoni was born other tribes had joined the alliance and the wedding was no longer a necessity but a matter of protocol. Beko's importance in the alliance had been reduced by the conquering of his neighbours who also became part of the alliance. Now he was just one of several chiefs who owed allegiance to the King but the promise had been made and would be kept.
Okoni neither liked nor disliked her future husband. Though not unfamiliar with him she seldom saw him for he lived several leagues away. She heard rumours from her friends whose older brothers were warriors, and knew him to be as vain as his father.
Okoni did not care that her future husband was not of the Ewe because all the tribes were one under the alliance. She did not, however, when she paused to think about it, care for the idea of leaving her village to live more than a days travel from her family.
She would miss spending her days with her mother and father but most of all she would miss her eldest brother.
The plaza of Okoni's village was dominated by a larger than life size idol made from wood that was blacker than the natives. The hand hewn figure of a male was impressive in its size and reproduction. The short, curly hair, cropped close to the head, was very similar to the natives of the village. One could almost see the muscles of the arms ripple. The face was that of the King. Perhaps in his younger days the King had posed for the figure but he was much too overweight to pose for such a statue now.
Standing at the far side of the plaza, directly in line with the opening of the King's hut the statue was most noticeable for its lifelike, though oversized, phallus. The pubic hairs were made from real hair and hung far below the exaggerated scrotum.
When her younger brother, Ogbuji, who teased her constantly, would point at the statue of the God of fertility and tell her how she would scream while she wreathed on the oversized phallus her eldest brother would calm her fears.
Olandipo told her, though she found it hard to believe, that it wouldn't hurt much. The size of it scared her but he explained to her that it was much smaller than a baby and if babies could come out than that could go in.
She understood, for she had seen more than one baby born, and could compare the size, but she had also witnessed other girls, on their wedding nights, being held aloft and impaled on the statue to prove their worthiness to the groom. The memories of the screams they emitted contradicted what her brother told her as he tried to assuage her fears.
Olandipo explained that very few of the girls actually suffered from the experience, that most of them were not virgins, their screams fake, as they tried to convince their grooms that they were still virgins.
Like most of the young girls in her village Okoni would hurry past the statue and avert her eyes as she passed. The knowledge imparted to her by her brother did not erase her awe of the spectacle she would create as her womanhood was exposed to all of the village. Unlike other young brides, her audience would be much larger, as there would be many people from the groom's village as well as dignitaries from all the other villages in the alliance.
As the years sped past Okoni's time was occupied by kibitzing at the water hole or lingering beside the workers in the garden. If she could not physically participate with her friends and family she could be there socially and often added a bright moment with her quick wit and cheerful disposition.
While she enjoyed being with others she did so at times when she couldn't be with her father. When the King wasn't away or tied up with officialdom Okoni would be by his side.
It was said by some that the King worshipped his daughter more than he did the Gods. The same could be said of Okoni who idolized her father. Evidence of this was the fact that Okoni didn't tell her father when she began ovulating, which would have been the signal for her father to begin the wedding preparations.
What Okoni didn't know was that her father had suspected for some time that she was now a young woman and ready for the marriage ceremony. It was only at their last meeting he had told the groom's father that Okoni was no longer a young maiden.
Unlike their parents Okoni and her brothers had never seen a battle. Because the other villages of the alliance surrounded theirs, except to the West which was the Atlantic Ocean, they had been protected from attack ever since the alliance had been formed.
Because of the strength of the alliance, tribes outside the alliance soon learned it was not a wise thing to attack villages that were of the alliance and peace prevailed. Needless to say it threw the entire village into an uproar when a runner came from a village to the North requesting warriors.
The runner, bearing a message from his Chief, urged the King to send his army to assist in a battle against white skinned men wearing strange garments and using spears with no points.
The story the runner brought was hard to believe. Supposedly the invaders had arrived aboard a giant canoe with huge white wings. The winged canoe was so large that it couldn't beach and the white warriors had to come ashore in large canoes which used many arms instead of paddles.
Once ashore the strange warriors would point their spears, rather than throw them, and the spears would speak, with tongues of smoke, and warriors would fall dead.
Though his tribe had been at peace for many years Mai Mobolaji was still, at heart, a warrior. Wisdom, however, prevailed and instead of rushing off to do battle, as his animal instincts demanded, he overrode his inclinations.
Quickly he sent runners to other members of the alliance. Those who lived inland were requested to send soldiers North West overland to defend the shores against possible attack. Those who were of the water were requested to send canoes to the scene of this supposed winged canoe.
Although he wasn't sure that he believed the tale of men with white skin he knew that it was a chance to renew the strength of the alliance. Even if it was a false alarm it would be an exercise in brotherhood for all the tribes to come together and work as a team.
With regrets that he couldn't go himself, he appointed his eldest son to lead the armada of canoes that left the beach. With his wife, and his daughter, clinging to his sides he watched his sons paddle through the incoming waves and disappear around the headlands.
With the disappearance of the warriors Mai Mobolaji sent the runner from the North on a return journey with the message that help was on the way. He also had four of his young tribesmen, young males who were not yet warriors, accompany the runner to, at intervals, bring back news.
Now there was nothing to do but wait, something he would not have been able to do ten years ago. Besides there was lots to do in the village, things he had been putting off. First he sent all the women, to keep them from crying and worrying, back to their chores.
Ignoring the chanting of the Witch Doctor, and his daughter clinging to his arm, he soon ran out of commands. The truth was his heart really wasn't in it, and as night fell he began to pace back and forth in front of his hut.
Okoni, like the other children, had never experienced war, and all its horrors. They had no reason to feel fear but they sensed the attitude of their parents and elders and were unusually quiet, if not frightened.
Late in the evening, having fallen asleep between her mother and father who were squatting near the fire in the center of the village, Okoni awoke frozen with fear. The center of the village was filled with strange warriors, painted and armed for battle.
Okoni's fianc˙ laughed as he saw his bride-to-be stare at him with startled eyes and burrow into her fathers lap for protection.
As per the King's instructions the village to the South East had sent a contingent of warriors to replace the King's troops who had moved North.
After feeding the visiting warriors and giving Okoni a chance to talk to her betrothed the King sent the soldiers into the jungle to form a protective barrier North of the village.
Early in the morning the village was again awaked by the arrival of more strangers as canoes full of warriors arrived from the South to set up a perimeter along the coast. Though a barbarian the King was a great military strategist and was covering all potentialities.
Shortly after sunrise the runner from the day before returned to tell of an awesome spectacle. Upon return to his village he had seen murder and mayhem. The white skinned warriors had subdued the defenders of his village.
By the time he had returned home the battle was over and the enemy was burning the homes and raping the women.
As he had watched from the shelter of the jungle, the white barbarians began to sort his family and friends, killing the old and the weak with short boom sticks or slicing their heads off with long shiny spears.
When he had left, to bring the story to the King, the strangers had been tying his people together by means of a strange rope around their ankles. The rope was black, looked very strong, reflected the sun, and made strange clanking noises when it was moved.
While the tribe's people pondered this strange news the King paced restlessly before his hut wondering what more he could do.
As the Queen, with the help of Okoni, was organizing a meal to be sent to the warriors in the jungle the first of the King's runners returned. The story he told was heart-warming to the King and his subjects.
As the young boy had watched from the trees he saw what the first runner had seen. The old and the weak being killed, the women being raped, the strong and the healthy being roped together. Then suddenly, while the white strangers were engrossed in their debauchery, they were infiltrated by warriors who moved swiftly amongst the burning huts.
On bare feet they silently swarmed through the remains of the village, their spears running red with the blood of the white strangers.
Their surprise attack was swift, deadly, and almost complete. Only a few of the enemy managed to make it to their strange canoes and escape the spears of the warriors who raced to the shore in pursuit.
While many of the warriors stood on the shore helplessly just as many manned canoes and proceeded to pursue the escaping enemy. However their inexperience at handling ocean craft allowed the enemy to escape. After many capsizings and much flailing about some of the warriors finally made it out past the breakwaters where they began to attack the enemy. From them, through a third runner, who returned to the King's village shortly after the second, came word that the King's warriors, in their canoes, had arrived and were in turn attacking the giant canoe of the white strangers.
The runner also brought back the stories of how the villagers had been tied together with the strange rope, a piece of which he had brought with him in the hopes that the King would know how to untie it.
Though the enemy had been chased from the village many of the King's subjects were still tied together and no one knew how to untie them.
The King held the heavy rope in his hands and looked at the strange clasp on the end. A shackle of metal, designed to be put around a person's ankle, made of metal, a substance the King and his villagers had never seen.
The runner demonstrated, on his own leg, how it was put around the ankle and then explained how it was closed with a rivet.
The King turned the rope over to the Witch Doctor to study and sent the runner into the jungle to find the warriors forming the line of defence and to tell them to move North to the village. If the people were incapacitated by these strange ropes they would need hunters to bring in food. He told the runner to tell the warriors to search for game on the way North.
The King had his canoe made ready. If his soldiers could chase the enemy from the village then his warriors could chase the strange canoe from the water. If he was too old and fat to fight on land he was certainly not too fat to ride in a canoe and lead his brave warriors to victory.
Also, he planned to capture some of the white strangers alive and force them to reveal the secret of the knots in the heavy rope. Not only would it free his people but all his people would know of his wisdom and bravery.
When Okoni had heard of the atrocities heaped upon her fellow tribesmen in the village to the North she had been appalled. Not frightened for herself or her family because she knew that her brothers were not in the village where the battle had raged and that her father's warriors would prevent the strangers from reaching her village but she felt empathy and concern for their welfare.
With the news that her brothers' forces had reached the battle area she became concerned for their welfare. The stories of the barbarity committed by the strangers to the people of the village made her realize that they could do the same to her bothers.
From the moment her father's canoe passed out of sight she became morose. Slowly she walked back to the village and began to pace back and forth in front of her hut, stepping in the same path that her father had worn into the jungle soil with his many years of pacing.
Late in the afternoon Okoni developed a sharp pain in her upper thigh and collapsed. Wiwa, Okoni's mother, summoned the Witch Doctor who insisted she be put to bed but Okoni, as emphatically, insisted she be taken to the beach where she could watch for her father's and brothers' canoes.
Through the long night Okoni and her mother sat on the beach. Wiwa held Okoni in her arms and though food was brought neither ate. The Witch Doctor did a dance and applied a mud mixture to Okoni's leg. Though he worked hard, all his magic would not remove the pain from Okoni's leg. Nor could he stop its spread up her body until she was bathed in sweat from head to toe.
Before the sun could lighten the sky a dark form, unheard and unseen, slipped around the headland and approached the beach. Okoni stirred and though restrained by her mother insisted on walking to the waters edge.
Dragging her bad leg and bent with pain she entered the water until hear breasts were floating on the surface. Only then, through the stygian blackness, could she discern the oncoming canoe.
Explaining to the warrior, who barely managed to recognize her in the dark, who she was, Okoni clung to the side of the craft and let it pull her back to shore.
Her unconscious fears were confirmed when she saw her brother lying on a litter in the middle of the canoe.
Though trying desperately to help she did nothing but hinder the efforts of the warriors to remove the litter from the canoe and bear it to the King's hut.
The Witch Doctor and the Queen, attracted by Okoni's loud moans, also hampered the progress of the wounded warrior. Not that speed was of the essence. There was nothing the Witch Doctor could do in the hut that he couldn't do outside, which was actually nothing at all, to save the life of the heir to the throne.
Following instructions from the Witch Doctor the children of the village gathered leaves and by the time the entourage arrived at the King's hut there was a fresh bed waiting for Olandipo, the wounded soldier.
After having removed Olandipo from the litter, the villagers left the hut. Only the Witch Doctor and the Royal family remained except for one young maiden, Kuti, who was Okoni's best friend, and Olandipo's fianc˙e, and following the Witch Doctor's instructions, was building a small fire in the center of the hut.
The next thing the Witch Doctor did was to kneel beside Olandipo and begin to remove the bandage from his leg. Instantly Ogbuji, Okoni's younger brother, put his hand on the Witch Doctor's hand.
No villager would ever have dared to touch Diya the Healer, and certainly no one would ever have tried to prevent him from doing something. The Witch Doctor immediately began to berate Ogbuji telling him that he was fortunate that he, Diya the Healer, did not cast a spell on him.
Ogbuji apologized for touching him but explained that if the bandage was removed his brother might die. The Witch Doctor stated that he had to see what was under the bandage so that he could cure Olandipo.
Ogbuji described to Diya the Healer, the extent of the wound and how profusely his brother had been bleeding until the white warrior with the red hair had stopped the flow of Olandipo's life water. Ogbuji was afraid that if Diya the Healer was to remove the strange cloth Olandipo might lose the rest of his life water.
The argument continued but Diya the Healer didn't put a lot of strength in his argument. As they had been arguing he had taken a closer look at Olandipo and decided that the young man had lost too much life water and would die.
If he left the bandage on he could blame the boy's death on the white stranger with the red hair. He could say the red hair gave the stranger magical powers which he was unable to counter.
Letting Ogbuji win the argument he fell back on his Witch Doctor ways and began to chant his magic incantations while he added magic sticks to the fire in the middle of the hut. Sticks that would make a powerful smoke and drive the demons out of the hut and out of Olandipo's body.
While the two had been arguing Okoni had stretched out beside her brother, on the leaves, and was resting her head on his shoulder, while she wept profusely.
Wiwa, no less upset than her daughter, sat at her sons head and ran her fingers through his tightly coiled locks.
Okoni, steeped in the sympathetic pain that had started the same time that her brother had received his wound, barely looked up as her father entered the hut. Wrapped in her concern for her brother she took no notice of the heated discussion that began between Diya the Healer and Mai Mobolaji.
Nor did she notice the entrance of the young red head until she heard her father mention that the stranger had saved Olandipo's life. Raising her head she stared through the dim light to see a naked male with no colour to his skin. The hair on his genitals, chest, and head was red, as was the rest of his body which reflected the light from the fire.
The stranger, whom her father had introduced as Tarka, had a look of concern on his face as he looked at her brother. He started toward where she lay but stopped when Diya the Healer pointed his magic stick at him.
The white warrior bent to one knee where he remained still and quiet until her father touched his shoulder and indicated that he should rise. Okoni thought that Diya the Healer's stick must have great power to be able to fell such a strong warrior. She also realized that her father also had great powers if he was, with the touch of his hand, able to remove the spell that Diya the Healer had cast.
Okoni arose and, with her mother, approached Mai Mobolaji that she might have a closer look at this white warrior who had put the strange cloth on Olandipo's leg.
Diya the Healer began to berate her father again but Mai Mobolaji literally put his foot down and ordered Diya the Healer from the hut demanding that Diya the Healer give the stranger a chance to try his magic. Her father would spare no attempt to save the life of his son.
Diya the Healer, feigning reluctance and injury to his pride, agreed to leave but admonished the king that if the stranger's magic allowed Olandipo to die that he, Mobolaji, would bear the onus of his son's death and not he, Diya the Healer.
Strangely the white warrior stopped Diya the Healer before he could leave and then indicated that he wanted everyone else to leave. Politely but firmly he emptied the hut except for the Witch Doctor.
Reluctant to leave her brother Okoni agreed to the strangers wishes but only that she might have a chance to talk to her father. However she wasn't far from the entrance to the hut when she stopped to peer back inside.
She watched as Tarka indicated that he wanted Diya the Healer to continue with his dance and chant. When he had Diya the Healer engaged he slowly drew some of the sticks from the fire.
Tarka left the fire and knelt beside the wounded Olandipo and slowly removed the strange cloth. Diya the Healer stopped his chanting and, kneeling beside the stranger, blocked Okoni's view.
Okoni stepped back as Tarka arose and came to the entrance of the hut. Stepping outside and using hand signs he, after some time, and with many mistakes, was able to obtain two bowls of water.
Seeing the girls fanning the King he indicated that he wanted two of them to follow him into the hut. The girls, with trepidation, looked at Mai Mobolaji who waved them on, then followed Tarka into the hut.
Okoni was about to follow too but her father called her back. At the main fire they were offered food, and though she was not interested, her father insisted she eat. The smell and the taste of the freshly roasted kob, a gift from one of the Eastern villages, made Okoni realize how hungry she was. She quickly wolfed down the tender meat.
While Okoni and her mother ate, Mai Mobolaji related, to them, the events at sea as he had been told them by his younger son. He explained how Ogbuji had nearly killed Tarka when he first came upon him, thinking him another of the enemy.
It was only as his spear was about to leave his hand that he realized this stranger was trying to save Olandipo. An infinitesimal twist of the wrist sent the spear into the deck of the winged canoe, missing, by a hair's width, Tarka and Olandipo.
Mai Mobolaji's narrative was interrupted by the appearance of Tarka at the entrance to the hut. He was indicating that he wanted two more girls to enter and was nearly bowled over as Okoni, and Kuti, rushed to do his bidding.
Okoni was led, by the stranger, to the side of her brother. Her friend Kuti was directed to the other side of the still form. The two of them were directed to kneel and each was handed a piece of the strange cloth.
Tarka, under the glaring eye of Diya the Healer, showed the two girls how to dip pieces of the strange cloth in the bowls of water, ring them out lightly, and then bathe her brother's body.
While Okoni was shown how to bathe her brother's face and upper torso, Kuti was directed to bathe from his chest to his knees. Then they were taught to wring the water out of the rags and to wipe the warrior dry. After a couple of minutes pause they were to repeat the performance.
Behind the two new comers the first two girls were gently fanning a breeze towards the warrior to further reduce the temperature of the body that was racked with fever.
Okoni noticed that the strange cloth that bound her brothers wound was new. Freshly white with no red stains. Strangely the pain in her leg eased a little.
Tarka indicated that Diya the Healer should continue with his chanting and then pulled the sticks a little further out of the fire. He repositioned one of the girls so that her fan was wafting the smoke laden air out through the doorway then, following the smoke, he left the hut.
Within seconds of Tarka's exit the King burst into the hut interrupting one of the girls who was telling of the procession when Tarka had entered the village. When he had passed by the statue of fertility some of the ladies had made comparisons of the stranger's white penis and scrotum and the black phallus of the idol, noting how much smaller the strangers genitals were which brought a giggle from some of the lady onlookers.
Okoni turned her attention from the story teller to her father who knelt by the leg of his son. The King lightly touched the strange white cloth that bandaged the wound.
Diya the Healer explained to the King how the stranger, Tarka, had removed the old blood soaked bandage. How he had taken a piece of the strange white cloth from the pile that Ogbuji had brought and torn it into strips. And how he had used the strips to rebind the wound, but not before he, Diya the Healer, had inspected and cleansed the wound with his magic.
The King examined the remains of the shirt that Tarka had torn and holding it out explained to the Witch Doctor how the white warriors wore such cloth as garments and that Ogbuji had brought several of them from the huge canoe that Tarka might use them on Olandipo's leg.
Spying the jugs of rum, Mai Mobolaji further explained how Tarka had used their contents to bathe Olandipo's wound and had given some to Olandipo to drink so that he would feel less pain while Tarka took a long silver splinter and used it to pull a long thread through the sides of the wound, tying it closed.
Later he had shared the strange brew in the jug with the Ewe warriors who shared their fire water with Tarka and they had all partied aboard the canoe with large white wings.
Okoni sat beside her brother, enthralled by the stories her father was weaving and like Diya the Healer was not sure if they might not be overly exaggerated, for who had ever heard of a canoe with wings let alone one that was so big it had sleeping huts within its very bowels.
Resting between the bathings of her brother Okoni noticed Tarka re-enter the hut. Her father had completed his description of the giant canoe and had begun to speak of making a trip to the village to the North. A mission of mercy with food and supplies for the ravaged village.
The white warrior dismissed the girl at the entrance, who was fanning the smoke out of the hut, slid some of the sticks a little further into the fire, then, finding a mat on the floor at the far side of the hut, curled up and went to sleep.
For some time Okoni watched the giant stranger sleep while she bathed her brother. Eventually she began to resent his right to sleep. What right did this God have to sleep while her brother lay, possibly, dying.
By the time Tarka eventually awoke he was no longer the brave hero who had saved her brother but a hated God who was denying her brother his life.
Okoni was absorbed in bathing her brother and never noticed Tarka awaken and leave the hut. When she looked up from her chore she noticed his absence.
When the stranger eventually returned, which was very shortly in time but an eternity to Okoni, he brought with him two fresh bowls of water and three young ladies. One by one he positioned the ladies and taught them the motions of bathing and fanning.
When the new girls could do this he motioned for the Witch Doctor to leave but the Witch Doctor didn't want to go. Tarka made motions of eating and the Witch Doctor, reluctantly, left.
However such tactics did not work on the two girls bathing the fallen warrior. Okoni did not wish to leave and all Tarka's hand signals were ignored.
Tarka disappeared behind Okoni and suddenly his hands were under her armpits, accompanied by a gasp from Kuti and a grunt from the King, she was lifted to her feet.
Furious at being manhandled Okoni struggled to remain in the hut but her small pampered body was of little resistance to the war hardened stranger.
As Okoni started back into the hut she was met by her smiling father who silenced her and ushered her from the hut, insisting that she have something to eat and get some sleep. He said that he and her mother would join her.
Reluctantly Okoni agreed and, after wolfing down some more meat that had been roasting over the communal fire, she followed Kuti to her hut, curled up with Kuti on her mat and fell instantly asleep.
Okoni didn't sleep long however and well before morning was back in her father's hut replacing the girl that was bathing her brother but not before stopping to stare down at the sleeping Tarka. He snorted in his sleep and rolled over on his back, his shrivelled penis bouncing on top of his tiny wrinkled scrotum.
Okoni had approached Tarka with intentions of kicking him for having manhandled her earlier but turned to her brother trying to stifle her laughter.
Shortly after, Kuti arrived, followed by Diya the Healer and Mai Mobolaji who immediately began his pacing which he interrupted every so often to go outside and issue orders as he arranged for the relief party to head North.
Without even looking in her direction the naked stranger, who's phallus was no longer hanging short and limp but standing upright, arose from the very mat that she normally slept on and left the hut. Strangely Okoni wondered if it might be her smell on the mat that had caused the rigidity of the white stranger's phallus. She wondered at the sudden change in size and direction of his member but she also wondered why she would think that she might be the cause of it.
Interrupting Okoni's administrations and thoughts Tarka returned to the hut and squatting by the head of her brother, dried and then felt Olandipo's forehead. Using a clean piece of cloth Tarka allowed a few drops of clean water, mixed with the contents of the jug of fire water, to run into the boys mouth.
Okoni's attention was not on the administrations of the White God for her attention was drawn between his bent knees. The firelight reflected from the reddish fleece that surrounded his genitals. The scrotum was no longer small and tight but loose and drooping, like the breasts of some of the elder women. The sausage above it was no longer standing tall as it had been when he awoke nor small as it had been when he was sleeping. As she watched in amazement it seemed to shrivel under her gaze until it was nearly lost in the folds of its own flesh.
Totally immersed in her observations of this strange creature that seemed to have a life of its own she failed to notice that the God was telling her that she could resume bathing her brother.
Her thoughts were brought back when Kuti sprinkled some water in her face and, trying to keep from laughing, told her that she would learn all about such things, next month, after her wedding.
As the white stranger arose Okoni looked at his face and could see that he was trying to hold back laughter. Okoni, fully embarrassed, returned to her labours, trying to hide her face from Tarka and her friend who continued to heckle her.
The rotation of nurses continued throughout the following days and nights with Okoni taking most of the shifts.
Nearly a week went by before the fever broke and her brother awoke for a few minutes, ate a bit of rice, and slipped into a restful sleep.
Okoni herself was sleeping when this happened and only learned of it when she came to relieve one of the bathers. She was furious that she hadn't been called to speak to her brother and berated the white stranger.
Diya the Healer calmed her and told her that her brother had only been awake a few moments, not long enough to summon his devoted sister.
Late, on the seventh day after the battle, as Okoni was about to leave the hut, Olandipo moaned and awoke. Okoni ran to the fire to arrange for some food and to tell her father then rushed back into the hut to feed her brother. The boy was ravenous but Tarka made Okoni restrain herself from over feeding him.
Tarka was pulled from the hut by the King and presented to the people who shouted his name over and over but Tarka reappeared inside the hut and took the Witch Doctor outside. Cheers went up and their names were shouted to the skies.
Later, after Olandipo was asleep again, Okoni joined the feasting. While she and Kuti personally delivered bowls of fruit to the White God she noticed that her leg no longer pained her.
Tarka was shown to an empty hut that faced the square and was presented with spears, food, utensils, mats, and a loin cloth.
Even the Witch Doctor presented him with a gift, a magic healing stick, which Tarka acknowledged with a deep bow.
Many young maidens gathered in front of the hut. Mai Mobolaji indicated to Tarka that he could take his choice. More than one if he so desired.
Okoni stood off to one side watching to see which of her friends would be honoured. Almost wishing that she herself could be chosen by this God who had saved the life of her brother. Her recent hate of him all but forgotten.
After a look at all the girls he pointed at Okoni. At first Okoni thought someone stood behind her and she looked around. Only her mother and father were near. She, with shock, realized that this white stranger was choosing her to share his sleeping mat.
It took a few seconds for the revellers to realize where Tarka was pointing and slowly a hush grew over the amassed villagers.
When silence was complete a young warrior, Gidado, Okoni's fianc˙, stepped through the crowd and began to protest. He pointed at Okoni and at himself, reminding the King of his promise.
Gidado was soon followed by an elder warrior, Beko, his father, who silenced the youngster and then in turn began to berate the King, pointing at Okoni and his son.
Mai Mobolaji held up his hands to silence them and then waved everyone away from him. Turning he walked to his hut and squatted in front of it, deep in thought.
Tarka tried to erase his decision by waving his palms back and forth and then pointing at some of the other girls but they were already dispersing.
As Okoni stood paralyzed, torn between her father's promise of many years ago and her gratefulness to this stranger, not to mention a certain wanton desire, Diya the Healer grabbed Tarka's hands and shook his head no, then urged him to retire to his new hut.
Gidado stepped in front of Okoni, blocking her view of the White God. Grasping her shoulder he shook her to awareness of his presence and then led her from the village. Along a path in the jungle they walked while Gidado berated her for trying to attract the strangers attention. Okoni profaned her innocence.
Gidado told her that his friends were laughing at him, "Everyone knows you are no longer a maiden. You are deliberately stalling, avoiding our wedding".
Okoni replied, "Our wedding will be held next month, my father has so decreed. If that is not soon enough for you that is too bad. And", she added, "if you don't get your hand off my breast I will tell my father and there will be no wedding".
Instead of releasing her, Gidado grasped her breast harder and tried to push her down on the ground. Okoni, having watched her brothers wrestling, gave him a bang on his nose with her forehead.
"If you touch me again I will tell my friend Diya the Healer and he will turn you into an idol for the middle of your village".
"Bah", Gidado replied, "I am not afraid of that old man". His voice faltered, however, when he added, "The old man is a fake. He has no powers. It was the white stranger that saved your brother".
Okoni stared him in the eye, "Before my mother was wed a man assaulted her. Diya the Healer used his magic stick. The man is now the idol in our village square."
Gidado started to reply but was unsure of himself and released his hold on Okoni's skirt which he was about to rip off. Instead he helped her to her feet and walked, silently, back to the village.
Mai Mobolaji, deep in thought, had not noticed his daughter leave and return to the village. He was unaware of her until she squatted beside him and lay her head on his shoulder.
Okoni was one with her father and never gave another thought to her betrothed. She did not notice his stare of hunger towards her, nor his look of hatred toward the hut of the stranger.
Unlike other girls who sought marriage as a gateway to another world, a better life, or an escape from an unhappy childhood, Okoni had never heard of other people or other countries. She had never been mistreated or lonely. Her marriage-to-be was simply a fact and she had taken it for granted from her earliest memories.
Now curled up beside her father she began to wonder just what marriage would be like. Tonight had been the first time she had been alone with her betrothed and it had not been a pleasant experience.
Over the past few days she had met a man of another world. Though she could not understand what he said she knew there were more people like him and that he came from a land far away where there were many wonders that her people were unaware of.
Okoni had been surprised, and secretly pleased, when Tarka had chosen her for a bed mate. She would have gladly gone with him to thank him for saving her brother but also because she now knew him as a kind and considerate person. And after tonight that was more than she could say for her fianc˙.
It was late in the night before Okoni went to sleep. After much persuasion by her mother she finally left her father. Inside the hut she found that Olandipo was awake.
Her brother enthralled her with the details of the fight aboard the ship and though Okoni was tempted to think that he was still suffering from fever and rambling in delirium she knew Olandipo's fellow warriors had towed the strange vessel into the harbour.
Though she had begun ovulating nearly a year ago Okoni had never thought about having children but when Olandipo finally closed his eyes in the middle of a sentence and drifted off Okoni curled up on her mat and with visions of white babies with red hair passing through her mind she too fell asleep.
In the morning Okoni was awakened by many loud voices and a strange clanking noise. Wiping the sleep from her eyes she stood in the doorway to the hut describing the scene to her bedridden brother.
In the plaza were dozens of men, women, and children speaking an unfamiliar dialect of her own language. Many of them were roped together with the strange rope that the white warriors had brought. As they moved about, the rope made a loud noise.
The King, not wanting to take Tarka from his doctoring of Olandipo, had ordered that the people who were roped together come to his village to see if the white stranger with red hair could use his magic to untie the knots of the ropes.
Villagers searched everywhere but no one could tell the King where Tarka was. All the young maidens were accounted for so he couldn't be indisposed. A runner who went to the beach came back with the news that Gidado and his friends had been at the beach and they had said that they hadn't seen him.
`The King organized a search party to scour the jungle trails in case Tarka had wandered out of the village during the night and had gotten lost or been eaten by a wild beast.
It was several hours later when someone reported that one of the canoes was missing. The theory was expostulated that perhaps he had returned to the sea from whence he had come.
The King, being wiser, suggested that perhaps he had gone to visit the ship with which he would be more familiar than the village and sent Ogbuji to paddle out to the canoe with wings and see if he was there.
It was not too long after this that her brother returned with the white stranger and upon his appearance in the village Okoni became shy and disappeared inside her father's hut. Her excuse of course was that she had to tell Olandipo of the finding of the not lost God.
The King sent out runners to find the searchers and call off the hunt. Then he turned to Tarka and introduced him to the Chief of the village to the North and showed him the strange rope that was tied about his leg and that of his people.
Okoni interrupted her relay of information to duck back into the hut, out of sight, when Tarka looked in her direction, and then explained to Olandipo that Tarka had said the black rope was called `chain', and then after summoning Ogbuji and two other warriors to follow him, turned about and walked back to the beach.
Okoni like many of the villagers proceeded to follow the foursome to the beach, hanging well back in the crowd so that Tarka could not see her should he turn and look behind him.
Gidado caught up to Okoni and asked her what was happening and she explained.
In the light of day Gidado seemed a pleasant enough young man. Tall and good looking compared to his compatriots, as Okoni had compared him over the years, but suddenly she found herself comparing him to the white stranger.
Was it the novelty of something strange, the fact that the stranger had saved her brother, or the brutality that Gidado had exposed last night. Okoni felt embarrassed for having such thoughts and shook her head to clear her mind.
When Gidado asked her what was wrong she told him that there had been a bug in her hair. Again she felt embarrassed for she had never before told a lie.
From the beach Okoni watched, with her fellow villagers, as Tarka and her brother joined the two warriors in a canoe and paddled out to the great canoe.
Their observations were distracted for a short time by the arrival of the villagers from the North as they slowly clanked their way down the path to the beach, dragging their leg irons.
Okoni watched in horrified wonder at this spectacle of people trying to synchronize their walking so as not to trip over each other.
When the chained natives had gathered near the water's edge all the natives watched Tarka and the three villagers climb aboard the slaver.
This was Okoni's first chance to visit the beach since her wounded brother had come home and she stared at the big canoe with arms reaching to the sky.
As she stood on the beach with her father he told her that Tarka called it a ship and that it was used to carry slaves tied together with the strange rope called chains. The big ship would carry them across the ocean where the white warriors would sell the black people to other white people and the black people would be forced to do the white man's bidding or be killed.
Okoni cringed at the thoughts of being torn from her family and taken far from her home.
She looked at the villagers around her with their legs tied together producing a strange clanking noise every time they moved and thought how cruel the white people must be. Yet Tarka seemed so kind.
Again she found herself thinking of this White God instead of the young man who stood beside her, the one she would marry at the next full moon.
The canoe had reached the ship which seemed to be at a strange angle and she watched the paddlers clamber up a rope and over the edge of the ship. They seemed to have trouble walking around as the roof of the ship was not level.
With Tarka waving his arms and pointing, the foursome managed to untie some ropes and lower a large canoe, from the side of the ship, into the water. He directed Ogbuji to wait in the big canoe.
Then Tarka found a rope, hanging from one of the trees that grew out of the roof of the ship, and tied it to a heavy black object near the center of the roof.
All the villagers moved along the beach to where they could get a better view but they could still not see what Tarka was doing.
They could see his arms moving and hear a clanking noise much like the chains made. Then suddenly Tarka jumped back and fell, sliding across the uneven roof, landing against the edge of the ship.
Okoni gasped and Gidado gave her a dirty look. The heavy black object had sprung from the roof, nearly hitting Tija, and was now swinging freely at the end of the rope.
With great difficulty and much arm signalling from Tarka, he and the two warriors attacked the other end of the rope and slowly lowered the object over the side of the ship into the big canoe.
Climbing over the side of the ship Tarka joined Ogbuji in the large canoe while Tija and the other warrior entered their own canoe. Tarka wielding large paddles propelled him, and her brother, back to the shore but they were no match for the speed of the smaller canoe and the two warriors were waiting in the shallow water at the beach for the larger craft.
When the boat was dragged up onto the sand the four men, with great difficulty, lifted the black object out of the boat and carried it to the beach. They were almost out of the water when one of the warriors stumbled and they dropped the object, luckily missing everyone's toes.
Ogbuji said they should pick it up again but Tarka directed them to turn it over and leave it where it was, the upper part sticking out of the water like a black tree stump. Pointing at it Tarka said the word "anvil" and all the watchers tried to repeat the word.
From the boat Tarka produced four objects. Two were long and shiny, much like the strange rope on the legs of the villagers and the object now sticking out of the water. The other two looked like wooden handles with large lumps of the shiny black material on the end. Tarka gave one of each to Ogbuji.
Looking about, Tarka saw one of the villagers with the strange rope on his leg and beckoned him to come forward. The warrior swung his leg as far as the chain would allow and when the warrior behind him moved his leg, was able to move his leg even more. Eventually ten warriors, all chained together, were able to shuffle forward until they reached Tarka.
Tarka had the first warrior lift his leg until the shackle that encircled his ankle was resting on the edge of the anvil sticking out of the water.
In one hand Tarka held the long piece of substance, that looked like a black stick, showed it to the people and said, "chisel". In his other hand he held a piece of wood with the black lump on the end and said, "hammer".
Tarka then placed one end of the chisel against the knot on the rope about the warrior's ankle. Swinging back his arm he brought the hammer down on the end of the black stick.
Surprised by the sudden movement of Tarka's arm the villager moved his foot and the chisel slipped off the knot and landed on the anvil with a loud clang. The hammer that Tarka was holding hit the end of the chisel and then slipped off to hit the anvil, making an even louder noise.
Tarka muttered some words in his strange language, dropped both tools, which fell in the water, and clasped his hands together.
Okoni started forward but was stopped by a hand on her shoulder. She turned to look at Gidado who was restraining her but immediately released her. She gave him a curious stare and wondered at the deep look of his eyes then turned back to Tarka but Tarka had recovered from the shock in his hands and was bent over fetching the strange tools out of the water.
Tarka again requested the villager to lift his foot and place he edge of the shackle on the edge of the anvil. The man was hesitant to do so and it took some coaxing from Tarka to get the foot properly positioned.
With the villager balancing on one foot in the water and his fellow captive, standing behind him, holding him, he tried to maintain his foot on the edge of the anvil while Tarka took a couple of slow swings. Then with more strength Tarka brought the hammer down on the chisel which produced a loud clang and a squeal from the warrior.
This was repeated three more times before the shackle finally parted and the chain fell from the captives ankle. All of the watchers gave Tarka a loud cheer.
The white stranger folded one arm across his stomach and made a deep bow as if he was in pain but quickly righted himself and turning toward the King bowed again. All of the watchers laughed at his antics except, Okoni noticed, Gidado.
When Okoni turned to Gidado, he was frowning until he noticed Okoni watching him and then he quickly began laughing with the rest of the watchers but Okoni sensed it was a forced laughter for her benefit.
Pondering her fianc˙°s reactions she turned her attention back to the water and the spectacle being performed there.
The tide was coming in and the anvil was only sticking out of the water a little bit so Tarka had some of the villagers lift it and move it further up the beach.
Next Tarka had Ogbuji, and Tija, take a chisel, and a hammer, each and practice hitting the first with the second until the first was driven into the sand. Then they dug them up and did it again, and again.
When they could do it without missing he had them practice on the anvil. The first time they did it they both dropped their tools and shook their hands. Tarka showed them that they had to hold the chisel tighter and they tried it, again, and again, until they made loud ringing noises.
Finally after many practices Tarka had the chained together villagers move forward and positioned the first so that he was balancing on one foot in the water which again was approaching the anvil. He had the next man move forward and grasp the shoulders of the first man to steady him.
Tarka showed Ogbuji where to place the chisel and let him take a couple of slow swings then told him to hit hard. After three mighty swings of the hammer the chisel broke open the shackle of the black rope and the villager was free.
Again a shout went up from the watchers and Okoni quickly turned her head and again caught Gidado frowning until he saw Okoni turn her head.
When the next villager moved forward Tarka had Tija use the chisel and taught him how to break open the shackle. As each succeeding villager was freed Tarka would alternate Ogbuji and Tija.
Eventually Tarka got tired of watching the breaking of the shackles and helping to move the anvil each time the tide came in further. He was looking out to sea at the large canoe from which he had taken the strange black tools.
The ship was no longer at an angle and the trees that grew from its roof were sticking straight up.
Tarka waded out into the water and yelling and waving his arms began to point at all the warriors of the village and at the canoes on the beach. It took awhile for everyone to understand what he wanted but eventually all the canoes were launched and the warriors paddled out to the ship.
From the side of the ship dangled many ropes and Tarka directed each canoe to fasten one to their craft and then paddle towards the ocean.
The tide was still coming in, although abating, and the canoes, though paddled by mighty warriors were unable to move the canoe with wings. Okoni watching wondered why it wasn't called a canoe with trees as she could not discern any wings.
When the tide finally stopped moving, and the ship started to move towards the ocean, Okoni gave a slight gasp of understanding. The White God had completed his chores. He had saved her brother and freed the villagers and was now leaving for his home. Okoni was torn between wanting him to stay and happiness for him that he would be returning to his loved ones.
Watching the slow progression of the vessel she wondered why it didn't fly, where were the large wings the others had spoken of? Why did her brother have to move it?
Shortly she saw all the canoes reverse direction and try to paddle back to shore. For a while the ship dragged the little canoes backwards but eventually they all came to a stop and the warriors climbed out of the canoes, up the ropes, and boarded the ship.
While the ship had been moving away she had noticed a smile on Gidado's face, now she noticed he was not smiling. Looking past her betrothed she noticed her father waving to her.
Running past the anvil where the lines of shackled villagers were growing fewer she joined her parents on the Royal Barge. Her heart beating wildly as she realized she was going to be able to go aboard the giant canoe, maybe then it would spread its wings and fly. The thought of being up in the air suddenly caused her heart to stop. Gripping her mother's arm, she looked into the water for reassurance that she was still on its surface.
As they approached the ship, she watched all of the warriors move to the front of the vessel and, gathering around, perform a strange dance. While they were twirling around, a large black object, attached to the ship by more of the black rope, but which was much bigger than the chains which held the villagers together, began to slowly descend towards the water.
As she stepped onto the roof of the ship Okoni was greeted with a deep bow from the White God. A bow she suspected was as much for her as her father. Inwardly she giggled at this stranger who, though having been given a loin cloth like the rest of the tribe wore, now wore a strange skirt that hung from his waist to his knees and clung tightly to his legs, exaggerating the bulge between them.
Okoni marvelled at the size of the bulge, as she had witnessed this God naked and knew he was not that well endowed, but also marvelled at herself for having such thoughts. She had seen naked men all her life and had never thought such things before.
Her father interrupted her thoughts as he beckoned to her to join him. Okoni was given a tour similar to the one her father had been given a few days previously.
She saw many of the huts inside the vessel. Then she was taken to one Tarka called the `galley' where he started a fire in a big box and cooked a meal of many strange foods.
Later Tarka took them back on deck and showed them a huge piece of black stuff on a wooden platform with small wooden wheels. He called it a `cannon'. It was sitting on the roof, back from the edge of the ship. Tarka proceeded to insert a long stick into its mouth.
As he moved the stick, in and out, it made Okoni think of the spider monkey she had watched having sex with its mate and shaking her head wondered, again, why such thoughts were entering her mind. Was this God affecting her somehow?
Tarka poured some black powder from a round wooden box into the big black mouth and then inserted a big black ball. Stepping back from the contraption he directed the warriors to again pull on ropes and with the squealing of the little wooden wheels the wooden platform moved back to the side of the ship.
When the long tube was where Tarka wanted it he directed everyone to stand back, away from the cannon, and to look at a place in the trees out near the headlands.
He called forward Diya the Healer and handed him a short piece of wood that was smoking. He directed the Witch Doctor to put the smoking end of the stick against a short piece of rope that stuck up from the top of the cannon.
Once this piece of rope began to smoke he directed everyone to put their hands over their ears and to look towards the shore.
Suddenly there was a horrific noise as if a thousand thunder claps had happened all at the same time. The cannon went hurtling past them and a large cloud appeared outside the railing.
Despite her hands over her ears Okoni's head was ringing and her ears hurt. She wondered if the small cloud would produce rain but her thoughts were immediately interrupted by a flash of lightning, followed by the appearance of a second cloud, amongst the trees of the jungle. This was followed shortly by another clap of thunder.
Ogbuji explained to his family, after their ears had quit ringing, that he had witnessed many of these thunders when he had been fighting the white warriors. That the clouds had appeared in the water and canoes had been destroyed, ripped apart by the lightning.
He further explained that the white warriors could make the clouds appear almost anywhere but it took them so long to arrange for their thunderbolts that the Ewe warriors were able to get through to them between the clouds of death.
While Ogbuji had been speaking Tarka had again stuck the long stick inside the big tube and moved it in and out, after which he placed a plug in the mouth of the cannon and had the warriors pull on the ropes until it was back against he side of the ship.
The sun was far to the West and her father suggested that they all retire to the village.
Okoni noticed that Gidado was not on the beach where he had remained when she left to join her father. Though he and Beko had been invited he had not accompanied his father aboard the Royal Barge.
In the village there was much rejoicing and preparation as the freed villagers gathered supplies and prepared to go home to their village. As they left they all stopped to say `thank you' to Tarka.
In her hut, Okoni found Gidado talking to Olandipo who interrupted Gidado's story, at the sight of Okoni, to ask her what had transpired. She explained to the two warriors what she had seen and told Gidado that if he wished she would ask the White God to take him aboard the strange craft on the morrow and show him through it. Gidado became strangely quiet and left the hut.
Turning to her brother she sat beside him and whispered, "I get a funny feeling from my soon-to-be-husband. I don't think he likes the White God."
From his bed of leaves, her brother replied, "I will not speak against your fianc˙ for you will have many years to live with him and they should be as calm as possible. But I do fear you are right. I sense a bit of jealousy on his behalf."
"Why should he be jealous? I have done nothing wrong."
"He did ask you to share his hut."
"But I didn't go nor did I encourage the asking."
"Maybe once the marriage is done or maybe if Tarka should choose another. Then Gidado might feel more reassured."
Before Okoni could reply they were interrupted by the arrival of the subject of their conversation.
Tarka entered the hut with a bowl of food for his patient and seeing Okoni, gave her a big smile and spoke to her in his language. Handing the bowl to Olandipo he repeated the same words to her brother. Neither of them understood what he said but both returned his smile.
"Now you see why Gidado is jealous", her brother said to her, "He is a very handsome man."
"But his skin is so pale. It looks like he never goes out in the sun. And he wears such a funny loin cloth."
"And he makes your eyes light up. Yes, I can see why Gidado would be jealous. You should speak to him and tell him that there is nothing to be worried about."
"Oh. Pooh. My eyes don't light up. It is just the reflection of his skin."
She turned to leave the hut, "You are as bad as Ogbuji, teasing me all the time."
Supper had been served, the celebrations had ended, and all were nestled in their bed. Most everyone was asleep but not the ever vigilant Witch Doctor nor the villainous Gidado.
The former watched from the doorway of his hut, his eyes hidden behind dried mud that hid his face from the moon's glow.
The latter skulked silently around the edge of Tarka's hut and was about to enter surreptitiously, a honed blade, glinting in his hand.
Diya the Healer cast a magic spell. In actuality he pulled a hidden vine which ran from the roof of his hut to the top of Tarka's hut. The vine was attached to a piece of intestine. The tugging of the vine pulled the intestine off the body of a snake. The tail of the snake was pined to the side of Tarka's hut close to the door.
Unsheathed, the still living, and very angry, snake coiled and swayed, hissing, and writhing, taking its anger out on the nearest living creature, which just happened to be Gidado.
Ever the warrior, Gidado twisted and lashed out, his razor sharp knife severing the head of the snake before it could strike again. Then as silently as he had arrived he disappeared into the jungle where he cut his shoulder with his knife but was unable to twist his head enough to be able to put his mouth to the wound. Not that it would have done him any good because his quick departure from the village was sufficient to start his heart racing, the blood quickly carrying the poison to his brain.
Within moments his body was writhing on the jungle floor, already dead. The nerves continuing to cause the muscles to spasm until they quit receiving messages from the dead brain.
Silently Diya the Healer slipped from his hut and removed the vines that stretched from his hut to Tarka's. Then he unpinned the body of the snake from the wall and its still encased brother from the opposite side of the doorway. Gathering the decapitated head from the ground he slipped silently away into the still night with all of the evidence.
Early in the morning, Beko, suspecting foul play, for he had known the plans of his son, began a search for Gidado who had not returned to his bed. He awoke the King who organized a search party.
It was not until shortly before noon that one of Gidado's companions found the body and the body of the decapitated snake. the evidence of what happened was clear and irrefutable but Beko refused to accept it.
He also refused to accept the fact that his son had been dead for several hours and there was nothing the Witch Doctor or the White God could do.
Sullenly he gathered his people and the body of his son and began the journey home.
After a quiet lunch Mai Mobolaji spoke to Wiwa and Okoni and they all agreed that now her contract to wed the son of Beko was null and void and that if she wished she could wed the White God.
Such an idea had never actually formulated in her young mind but now she realized that the kernels of the idea had been there for some time. Eagerly she accepted the plan and went with her father to find the groom-to-be.
From the beach the entourage could see Tarka and her brother jumping from the tall trees, that grew out of the deck of the ship, into the water.
Okoni thought this was good that her husband-to-be had friends among the people and said as much to her father.
When the canoes bearing her brother and the White God reached the shore her father set to explaining that he had agreed to let him wed his daughter. At first Tarka didn't agree and she feared that maybe he didn't want her, however she realized that he didn't understand all of her fathers arm waving and when it did dawn on him what they were trying to say he grasped her hand and, strangely, bonded the agreement.
As the days went by Okoni took Tarka along paths in the jungle, for swims in the creek or the ocean. The White God found a piece of drift wood along the beach and, with his big knife, fashioned it into a walking stick for her brother whom they visited every day.
Though they had plenty of opportunity they did nothing more than hold hands as Okoni resisted any further advances. After all these years of waiting she was determined to bleed when she was impaled on the idol. However she almost gave in when the two of them had to spend the night aboard the ship.
They were in the galley where Tarka was cooking and failed to notice the rising wind until it was too late to get back to shore. Looking over the railing with Tarka, Okoni saw the waves break through the gap in the headlands and smash the small canoes against the side of the ship.
Running through all the decks and into each room, Okoni hot on Tarka's heels, she helped close all the little doors on the walls of the rooms and the bigger doors between the rooms. By the time they were finished she was soaked and scared. She clung to Tarka as he carried her back to the galley.
Okoni no longer felt like eating. Her stomach was queasy and as the boat began to heave she became violently ill. For the next few hours she clung to Tarka, who held her tightly, but was unable to hold onto the contents of her stomach.
Late in the night the storm eased off and after washing the vomit from her face and his lap Tarka carried her to a big room with a big sleeping mat. Holding him tight she finally fell asleep.
Late in the morning she groggily awoke to find her fianc˙ wrapped around her, his hard manhood pressing against her thigh. Lightly she stoked it with her finger, tempted to touch it more, tempted to break her vow of chastity.
But he rolled in his sleep, draping his arm over hers so that she couldn't move and she snuggled into her big, warm, hairy, gorilla and went back to sleep.
With trepidation Okoni stepped from her father's hut. Her face was covered with various hues of mud. Coloured lines encircled her breasts and extended up her throat to her chin and down her chest to her navel. Bright flowers bedecked her head and her new skirt.
The amassed villagers cheered at her appearance and her father stepped forward to guide her through the happy throng.
It was two weeks since the sullen Beko and his warriors had carried the body of his son back to his village. A week of walking jungle trails, bathing in idyllic pools, and exploring the giant canoe.
A week of trying to learn a few words of English and teaching Tarka her language.
A week of preparation, of hunting for game, of sending invitations to neighbouring tribes. A week that culminated in a day of feasting and festivities as the Princess, Okoni wed the White God, Tarka.
The circle of painted, and dancing, warriors broke, to allow the passage of the Royal retinue, then closed behind them. The White God stood beside the ebony statue, clothed in his finest arraignment, both his upper and lower torso wrapped tightly in the strange white cloth. He had tried to teach her the words, shirt, pants, but they were forgotten now in her mixed feelings of pleasure at his appearance and horror at her approach to the idol.
How many times had her mother and brother coached her, told her to relax, there would be less pain. How could she relax? The plaza was filled with over a thousand visiting dignitaries from the surrounding villages, most of whom she had never seen before. Total strangers who would watch as she was stripped naked before her brother who stood on the other side of the idle leaning on the crude crutch made by the White God.
Her mind in a haze as the events swirled around her, Okoni was barely aware of Wiwa and Kuti stepping forward and removing her skirt.
Two chieftains from neighbouring villages stepped forward and grasping her by the ankles lifted her feet from the ground.
Okoni fell backward into the arms of Mai Mobolaji and Ogbuji who held her by the shoulders.
The four warriors lifted her and danced about the fire through the parting assemblage and back to the clearing before Tarka. Her legs were spread that Tarka might clearly see her vagina, then she was paraded before the idol. Her legs were spread again, her body lifted and dropped onto the wooden phallus.
As the screams from the watchers filled the jungle air they drowned out her own screams. The pain was brief but fierce as the unlubricated phallus abruptly ripped and spread her vaginal lips. More pain as she was lifted backwards, the stygian wood pressing up into her bladder and further tearing her body.
Again she was paraded amongst the assemblage. The foursome stopped before her husband and again spread her legs so that Tarka could see she was a virgin. The pride that she had proven to the groom that she would come to him unsullied almost overcoming the pain between her legs. Then she was passed to the warriors behind her.
Hand to hand she was passed from warrior to warrior along the path until she was deposited in the ocean. Her mother and Kuti awaited her and bathed the blood from her legs while she sat in the cool water, the salt penetrating the rips in her womanhood and sending fresh pain through her benumbed body.
Her flowered skirt again wrapped about her she walked, on unsteady legs, through the file of cheering friends, relatives, and well wishers, back to the plaza where the feast began.
Late into the wee hours of the morning the revelry continued. When the sky began to lighten, the newlywed couple were ushered to Tarka's hut.
Alone, together, the exhausted pair slumped onto Tarka's fresh mat of leaves. Not quite alone, one last intrusion, Diya the Healer, dressed in all his finery, did one last dance around the hut and then departed wishing the young couple a long life and many children.
Tarka spread his arms and wearily, and timidly, Okoni crawled between them. Tentatively she slipped her arms around his shoulders as he clasped her tight and gently kissed her on the lips.
Unsure of what he was doing Okoni remained still and allowed his lips to cover her face and, eventually, as he loosened himself from their embrace, her entire body, except where it was covered with decoration. No one had told her that men did such things and she feared that maybe White Gods ate their brides.
As his lips and tongue continued their journey along her legs, and back up again, she remained frozen until eventually he returned to her head and again wrapped her in his arms. With one last kiss on her mouth, which she timidly returned, he softly spoke some strange words in her ear and fell asleep.
Lest she wake her new husband, Okoni lay very still for a long time. Many thoughts running through her mind. Was this marriage? Is this how they would sleep every night? Is this how they made babies? She had seen monkeys copulating and had assumed that humans did it the same way.
Eventually, her mind in a turmoil, she too, drifted off to sleep.
Late in the morning, her mind fuzzy from lack of sleep, Okoni awoke to strange feelings running down her back. As she slowly came to her senses she realized that she was lying on her stomach. A big white hand was on the floor on either side of her and hot wet spots were being made along her spine and across her derriere. She realized that her husband was again trailing kisses along her body. The sensation was much more pleasant than it had been last night but again awakened the questions she had asked herself while falling asleep.
As Tarka moved her legs apart to begin kissing the inside of her leg she felt the pressure on her bladder and slowly pulling herself away from her husband she rushed out of the hut.
While she squatted in the jungle behind their hut she was joined by Tarka who stood beside her and pointing his semi erect phallus towards a tree spewed a golden stream of liquid far into the air. She laughed as he waved it about, causing minor rainbows in the sunlight that filtered between the leaves of the trees.
When they were finished Okoni led Tarka to the path, along the creek, to the swimming hole where, free from worrying about breaking her hymen, she was able to cavort in the water. The two climbed the hillside and jumped into the shimmering pool.
Splashing each other and swimming about, the two entangled arms and stopped to kiss. Okoni was getting the hang of this new embrace and eventually allowed Tarka to part her lips and enter her mouth with his tongue.
Near the shore Tarka took handfuls of sand and proceeded to scrub Okoni's body, washing away all the colourful decorations of yesterdays ceremonies. Then he proceeded to plant kisses all over her face, her nose, her cheeks, her eyes, her chin, her neck, her breasts.
Somehow these kisses didn't seem as strange as they had last night, in fact they were beginning to feel quite pleasant. Especially on her breasts.
Yes, her breasts. Her breasts were on fire. His hands held them to his lips and his teeth nibbled at her tender flesh, around the sides, and underneath her tender globes, until they worked their way up to her nipples which he sucked into his mouth, scrapping them past his teeth and batting them about with his tongue.
Okoni was in a state of delirium and started to swoon. It felt like she was falling. She partially opened her eyes. Tarka was falling and taking her with him.
The two came to rest against the shore of the pond. Grasping her shoulders Tarka moved Okoni up and then grasping her breasts, wrapped them around his phallus. With a hand on one side and his member on the other, each breast felt like it was encased in fire.
Tarka was squeezing her breasts, mauling them and wrapping them around his penis.
Then he began to move her breasts back and forth, faster and faster until the pleasure stopped and pain set in as the skin of her chest was stretched to allow for the rapid movement.
His fists, and her breasts, splashed water in her face until he gasped, and collapsed, his arms falling to his sides, his hands releasing her tortured flesh.
Not understanding what had happened Okoni started to rise but Tarka reached out an arm and placing it about her shoulders drew her to him and held her tight for several moments.
Then, with his other arm snaking under her legs, he lifted her high in the air and threw her into the middle of the pond.
Before she could recover her senses he was under her and rising with her to the surface where he again took her in his arms and kissed her long and passionately. Slowly at first she allowed his tongue to enter her mouth until finally she gave in to the new sensations and, opening her mouth wide, allowed his tongue to explore hers.
After long moments he broke the kiss and whispering something in her ear he again picked her up. Carrying her to the edge of the pond he lay beside her in the warm sand. The hot sun drying the water from their bodies.
As his hand was trailing sensations across her navel they were interrupted by the arrival of children so they went for a short swim, climbed the rocks, jumped into the pool one more time, then returned to the village.
Two days later Tarka took her to visit the ship which floated gently in the harbour. There they climbed the tallest of the trees that grew from the roof, which Tarka told her was called a `deck', and standing in a little hut, with no roof, were able to see for miles in every direction. Except where the headlands separated at the mouth of the cove, and she could see water for as far as her eye could see, she saw nothing but jungle in all directions.
Leaving her standing with her back to the tree Tarka disappeared through a hole in the floor of the little hut, leaving behind a trail of kisses from her neck to her toes. Then he began to ascend until his kisses ended at her womanhood.
This was the first time since their marriage that her husband had paid more than scant attention to her nether mouth and now he cautiously spread her legs and tenderly kissed her outer lips.
She felt her lips being parted by his tongue and the heat of it spread throughout her body. Gently he parted her inner lips and inserted his tongue, prying her open and flooding her with new sensations. As his tongue began an in and out motion it moved higher until she had to grasp the tree behind her for support.
On weakening legs she trembled as his tongue sensed her excitement and flickering faster and harder drove her nerves to a peak of pleasure she had never imagined. Finally she cried out and releasing the tree wrapped her hands around his head.
A final flick of his tongue and she cried out and swooned. Had it not been for his hands about her legs she would have fallen over his head and out of the little hut.
Gently but firmly he held her until she was able to stand alone and then on trembling legs she lowered herself though the hole in the floor until she could wrap her arms about him and with no more inhibitions kissed him open mouthed as ardently as he had done to her.
Eventually, after stopping many times to kiss, the two climbed down the tall tree and rested on the sun warmed wood of the deck. There beneath a cloudless sky Tarka showed her how to grasp his member and squeeze it the way he did her breasts.
He urged her to sit up and watch as her hand grasped the flesh and pulling on it bunched it at the end, covering the little eye. Then her hand would retreat, exposing the eye and stretching the skin back along the length of his manhood.
She watched as Tarka lay back on the deck of the ship and closed his eyes. His hips rising and falling with the movement of her hand. Eventually he placed his hand on hers, urging her to move it faster and faster until his hips were bouncing off the deck and a strange white fluid shot out of the eye of his member to splatter on the deck beyond his head.
Tarka kept her hand moving slower and slower as his hips lowered to the deck. Then taking her hand from his shrinking member and, holding it to his mouth, he kissed her palm. Pulling on her hand he urged her to lie beside him and wrapping her in his arms, held her tight.
Each day Okoni learned new and different ways to enjoy making love with her husband and each time she wondered if this was the way to make babies. She had been sure it involved her vagina but he always seemed to avoid that area. Although he would gently touch it and caress it he would not linger there until one night he gently massaged it long enough to set her screaming loud enough to waken the entire village, if he hadn't covered her mouth with his.
One day, aboard the ship, Tarka introduced her to a strange White God custom. In the galley he took some strange gooey substance, he called `lard', from a shiny container and spread it all over her body.
He put it everywhere, except her face, rubbing it and spreading it, until she was coated with it. Then he proceeded to rub her, all over. His hands slipping and sliding, sending chills and tingles through every part of her.
When he had her bouncing up and down on her feet with the sensations he stopped his administrations and handing her the container indicated that he wanted her to do the same to him.
By now, accustomed to his games, she willingly agreed and turning him around began to spread the lard on his shoulders, noticing as she did so that his back had as much of the fine red hair as did his chest.
When she had him thoroughly coated from head to toe and front to back the two of them set to rubbing against each other, slipping and sliding across each other, their hands bringing each other to a peak of arousal. Now his hands moved between her legs with no hesitancy, searching exploring, opening, penetrating, front, back, both at the same time.
Delving deeper, gently twisting, spreading the tender tissues of her flesh, until she cried out and demanded that he quit being so gentle. Grabbing his hand she pressed it to her and urged him to move it faster.
Instead of immediately complying he turned her to face the table and, placing her hands on it, moved her feet back until she was bent at the waist.
Then draping his chest over her back, moved his member between her legs, and reaching underneath her, grasped her breasts with his hands.
Mauling and squeezing, the greasy lard allowed the flesh of her mammae to flow between his fingers. The sensations driving her mad.
Her vision becoming blurry, she closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on her weakening legs that they would hold her up.
Reaching between her legs she tried to guide his manhood but it slipped out of her fingers. Tarka got the idea and reaching between them spread her nether cheeks and placed himself between them.
Yes. Yes. That is what she wanted. Enough with the fingers, hands, and tongue.
But wait, she could feel it going in and it was tight and it was uncomfortable, which is what she expected, at least for the first time, but this was strange. He wasn't in the right place. This was wrong.
She tried to wiggle away but he was too strong and continued to enter her. She tried to tell him but her words were meaningless to him. Slowly but surely he entered her, the greasy substance that covered their bodies everywhere making the entry almost effortless.
When his abdomen was tight against her buttocks he stopped while his hands continued their admiration of her breasts and for a moment she forgot all else. Then he slowly started to withdraw.
At first she was grateful but the heat of her body demanded penetration and she backed up against him before he could leave her. Again he came forward until he was fully sheathed and again he massaged her love swollen breasts.
Her lover began a slow rotation of his hips which at first was uncomfortable but eventually changed to pleasure as his movements began to include slow withdrawal and slow penetration. His one hand left her breast and moved to her womanhood, massaging the tightly curled hairs.
Faster and faster his movements became until she felt the heat and joined in the rhythm. As she felt him slamming against her she began to cry out. The feelings tearing her apart until her mind exploded and if she hadn't been holding the table and impaled by his manhood she would have collapsed on the floor.
Slowly Tarka withdrew from her and tried to ease her to the floor but their bodies were so slippery that he couldn't hold her and the two of them landed on the floor with a thud, a tangle of arms and legs.
Their faces the only part of them that wasn't covered with the grease, Okoni sought Tarka's mouth and glued hers to his while her hands slid between their bodies to grasp his shrinking member.
Sitting up she looked at it and then at him and told him she was just checking to make sure it hadn't broken when they had fallen.
She laughed and he laughed with her and then she laughed again knowing that he hadn't understood a word that she had said but she knew he laughed with her because he understood that she was making a funny.
She kissed him again because even if this strange White God did not know how to make babies he was still one fine husband.
They had been married for a fortnight when early in the morning, Okoni awoke to a now familiar feeling of hot wet kisses moving along her body. As had happened before the lips and tongue moved up her inner thigh and stopped on her engorged nether lips.
When her husband had her at a pitch of fever that she had grown to love he strangely stopped. Though she tried to hold his head he continued his trail of kisses up her body to her breast and strangely passed them over, rather quickly, until he reached her mouth.
While he was kissing her and they were exploring each other's mouth, though she was wishing he was still kissing her nether lips, she felt his fingers spreading them. At first she thought he was entering her with his finger for at first he had been but then his finger was replaced and he slowly filled her.
`Yes', she cried, into his mouth. This was what she had wanted these past days and nights. Not that everything else hadn't been great but this was the pick of the crop, this was fulfillment.
And she felt filled. As he paused on top of her she lifted her hips, spreading her legs, trying to engulf him.
Slowly he started to withdraw but she clung to him. Wrapping her legs around him and thrusting herself against him, pulling him into her. They became like two beasts trapped together in a fight to the death. Struggling to be free yet striking at each other, afraid to part lest the other get an advantage.
She screamed into his mouth, clawing at his back. Again and again, her body racked with shocks so excruciatingly painful that she felt she wouldn't live through it.
The two of them screaming together and collapsing and after a moment Tarka eased his weight from her tiny body but she was afraid he was leaving and clung to him. Regardless of the fact that she couldn't breath she wanted his body on hers, and in hers.
At last he was her husband. At last he would have a son. She would be the best wife a warrior, or a God, ever had and she would give him many children.
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