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* JAMIE aka TARKA 1856 *
The bright orange sun looked like a newly formed cannon ball fresh from the forgers mould. As it dropped, hissing, into the ocean it created gusts of steam which formed into speeding clouds and created huge swells which rolled across the ocean. By the time they had crossed the Atlantic they had reduced in size and speed, the clouds mingling with the dark of the night sky, the waves breaking gently against the beaches of Africa.
The man-o-war rose to the top of a crest as she beat against the breeze, tacking south off the shores of the Gold Coast. The lookout's cry of `ship ahoy', from the crows-nest, brought everyone from their evening meal.
Rigging was manoeuvred, the wind caught the sails, and the ship healed over as she turned towards the coast. German and Portuguese ships were not uncommon in these waters and most of them were running slaves. The guns were run in, the tipoli removed, powder and grape loaded.
By now the guns could be heard on the still unidentified ship. What she was shooting at could not be discerned in the rapidly advancing night.
The boarding party, after having helped run out the guns, was standing by the rails. The gunners were loading the priming powder. The other vessel was clearer now. Firing from all directions. Hand guns and muskets were also in operation.
The firing had started out as broadsides but now each weapon was being fired independently, as quickly as the crews could reload.
The ship, definitely German, and definitely a slaver, was surrounded by canoes full of niggers. They were paddling in under the ships guns while they were being reloaded and throwing spears at the crew. The crew were fairly safe behind the railings but they couldn't depress their cannon enough to get at the small dugouts directly below them.
As the St. George closed rapidly on the bow of the slaver, it could be seen that the niggers were managing to get ropes over the rails. As they tried to climb, the Germans would shoot at them with muskets and flintlocks.
To do so, however, left the shooter exposed to the spears which were, from the canoes, very accurately thrown considering the warriors were standing on unstable footing.
Coming about, the bowsprit of the St. George cut through the rigging of the German's foremast. As she canted up the wave the St. George fired a broadside. Her guns, loaded with grape, raked the rigging. Ropes were cut, sails were shredded. Crew members, wounded, or killed, fell to the deck or into the ocean.
Scudding sideways down the next wave, niggers paddling furiously to get out of the way, the St. George slammed into the side of the slaver but not before the German captain had rallied his gun crew who loosed a broadside at point blank range.
The St. George's upper hull was badly damaged, as was her crew. The gun crews on the port side were literally decimated as was the boarding party that had lined the rails.
The wheel and the helmsman were obliterated, as were the ropes going to the tiller. Unable to steer and with many of the lower sails, masts, and lines damaged, the ship was at the mercy of the seas. Once more she slammed against the slaver and then the seas separated them.
Jamie and some of his mates, standing on yard arms, holding ropes, ready to swing aboard the slaver, were above the broadside.
As the waves bashed the vessels together Jamie swung over. Only two others joined him. One fell into the sea because he timed his swing wrong. The other landed amidst a duel between a nigger and a German and was speared, and sliced, by the two combatants before they continued their own battle.
Two of the boarding party who survived the German broadside managed to make it onto the railings and jumped as the vessels came together. One lost his footing and fell between the railings and was crushed as the two ships collided. The other made it to the enemy's deck only to be gutted by Prussian steel.
Jamie landed on the quarter deck and would have died there but his attacker yelled as he advanced and Jamie had ample warning to swing round with his cutlass and parry the man's blow. The duel was short, and final, with Jamie's blade piercing the heart of his opponent.
The interference of the St. George had disrupted the defense of the Germans and while their crew had been routed to the starboard side to repel the English the niggers had scaled the port side of the ship. The main deck filled with near naked savages battling with sword swinging Prussians.
Looking below him Jamie saw a German fighting with a nigger. The German had the upper hand and his blade cut through the handle of the other's spear, slicing deeply into the nigger's thigh. As the sailor raised his sword for the death stroke Jamie jumped over the railing. Before his feet hit the deck his blade cleaved through the man's neck and deep into his shoulders. The nearly decapitated head fell sideways as did the twitching body, it's life's fluids spraying from the stump of neck.
The nigger lying on the deck holding a wounded leg was frantically pointing. Jamie realized that the man was pointing behind him, not at him. Quickly he dropped to a squat and pirouetted on his heel. His out flying blade cut through the leg of a German who was attacking him from behind.
The German screamed in agony, falling to the deck, his severed legs still trying to run.
Jamie ended the terrible noise, and the man's agony, by deftly swinging his blade at the man's neck, decapitating the fallen sailor.
Taking a quick look about Jamie saw that there was no one near him and no immediate danger. Turning to the first German he had killed he used the blade of his cutlass to strip the shirt from the man's back. Cutting the cloth into strips and using the severed handle of the nigger's spear he formed a tourniquet.
Jamie moaned. He tried to turn his head and open his eyes but it hurt too much. "By the Jhasus, that was one hell of a donnybrook last night", he said to himself, "we must have made port last night. I can hear the wind sighing through the riggin' but not the slap of sails. But why not the sounds of crew? Are they still passed out?"
"If we're in port how come I hear the sound of water rushing past the hull? I must still be dreaming. But if I'm dreamin', how come my head hurts so much?"
"Why does my stomach feel like I'm about to get seasick? I haven't been seasick since I was press ganged four years ago."
"What the Jhasus did I drink anyway? Rum? No, I showed the rum to the niggers. Niggers! That's it, they brought their hootch aboard. It was the nigger's hootch. Niggers. Where are the niggers?"
The memories came flooding back and he opened his eyes but the blazing sun made him shut them again quickly. Jamie moaned again and slowly lifted his head. Looking away from the sun he slowly opened his eyes and surveyed the bloodstained deck.
The slaver was bare. The bodies were gone. The niggers had stripped the dead Germans of weapons and adornments and tossed their bodies overboard during their drunken revelry. Some of the sails were torn and flapped lazily in the light quartering breeze. Rigging hung, broken, from shattered yardarms.
On unsteady legs Jamie staggered to the railing and urinated into the sea. Below him a warrior in a canoe saw him and raised a spear. Jamie quickly backed away from the rail.
An armada of canoes filled with niggers were linked to the slaver by ropes. Every second nigger seemed to be sleeping while his mates paddled slowly with a steady rhythm.
Looking to the horizon Jamie could see more canoes coming towards them. The warrior noticed the direction Jamie was looking and stood up for a better look. Excitedly he called to his tribesmen and the sleepers all awoke. The niggers shouted and waved at the advancing canoes and then all began to paddle.
Jamie ran to the rigging and climbed to the crows-nest from where he could see thirty or more canoes coming. Beneath him were perhaps forty canoes. To the West and South there was nothing but empty ocean. Barely, to the North, and clearly, to the East, he could make out land. Waves breaking against beaches backed by forests.
No help in sight and nowhere to run even if he could launch one of the ships boats.
Now the approaching canoes were more distinguishable. As these canoes began to close, the paddlers of the canoes towing the ship began to chant, "Mai, Mai", in time to the dipping of their paddles.
The new arrivals mingled with the towing canoes and all paddled towards the slaver. Using the ropes that they had used for towing, the niggers scaled the sides of the ship.
Clambering on board they circled the mast and held their spears towards the naked Irishman high above them.
Jamie peered down on what appeared to be a huge brown hedgehog, its deadly spines pointing in his direction.
Working his way along the ratline of the top gallant yard he looked down at the water far below. He could probably survive the plunge but it was a hell of a long way to shore. Far further than he could swim before he was surrounded by brown niggers with spears. Jhasus, those spearchuckers were such good shots he would probably look like a hedgehog before he hit the water.
So he had two choices, go down and face the music or stay topside until he died of thirst, which wouldn't be long from the taste in his mouth. By the good lard Jhasus he was some hung over. Who the hell could he have been partying with?
Closing his eyes Jamie pictured the fight with the Germans. The wounding of the nigger. The fashioning of the tourniquet. He had taken Laudanum from the ships stores and forced the nigger to drink it, which wasn't taken too kindly by all the brown bodies that were surrounding him. He had had to drink some to show them it wasn't poison. With needle and thread from the sail makers locker he had sewn the wound closed after the Laudanum had taken effect.
After what seemed an eternity, of tightening and loosing, with each time less flow of blood, the bleeding had stopped and Jamie had bathed the area one last time in rum before covering it with a clean bandage. And that's when the party had started. With some kind of grog that the natives had brought aboard and with rum raided from the ships stores the entire troop of warriors had gotten tanked, or so it had seemed to Jamie.
Jamie's eyes opened as he recalled the start of the festivities. When he was finally able to remove the tourniquet with no sign of bleeding and had swathed the leg in a bandage he had taken a swig of the rum and sat back to indicate that he was finished.
Timidly Jamie began his descent towards the host below. By the time he reached the deck he had overcome the shyness brought on from the fact that he was still naked.
As he reached the base of the mast warriors were chanting, holding their spears above their heads, and smiling.
Hoping that such a warm reception meant friendship and was not just a cheap trick to capture him before they tortured him and put him in a stew pot, Jamie, tried to look nonchalant. Turning to face the Native Chieftain he tried to decide how to greet this warrior who could be his saviour, or his executioner.
Jamie recalled the meeting of his Captain and the Bishop upon the christening of the St. George two years ago, and as the Chief approached, sank to one knee and, reaching out, lightly took the Chief's left hand as though he were a great King, which, unbeknownst to Jamie, he was. Lifting the hand, though it bore no jewellery, he bowed his head and kissed the Chief's ring finger.
A ripple ran through the assemblage and when Jamie arose the Chief hugged him to his ample breast, bending him around his over abundant abdomen.
After a short embrace the Chief released Jamie and then waved his arms at the natives to remove themselves from his presence.
When Jamie and the Chief had breathing space the Chief began to try and communicate with Jamie. With many hand gestures, Jamie came to understand that the Chief's name was Mai Mobolaji.
Jamie tried to tell the King that his name was Trevor but the nearest the King was able to come with the pronunciation was Tarka. So, Trevor, who had been called Jamie for the past few years of his life, was now to be called Tarka.
Mai Mobolaji had Tarka take him on a tour of the ship. Starting on the main deck Tarka pointed out everything and tried to teach the King the English word as there were no words in the King's language for any of these things.
In a couple of the cabins and in the men's quarters Tarka saw clothing that was of his size but by now he was used to his nakedness and with the warmth of the climate saw little point in burdening himself.
By noon they had reached the galley and Tarka cooked Mai Mobolaji an English style lunch using German foods and meats that were somewhat unfamiliar even to Tarka. After lunch the retinue of Tarka, Mai Mobolaji, and several, of what Tarka assumed were the King's, officers continued their tour of the rest of the ship while the rest of the warriors returned to their canoes and continued towing the slaver towards land. At the end of the tour, which was near the end of the day, the party left the boat and conveyed Tarka and the King, in the King's canoe, to land.
Passing between two outcroppings of tree covered rock the canoes passed into a large sheltered bay. The shores of the bay, like those of the outside waters, were mostly rock with here and there a small area of yellowish sand except for the center part of the bay which was a large beach of fine sand.
Completely surrounding the water, above the high tide mark, was a dense jungle. Deep green vegetation of all heights prevented the observation of the interior except behind the main beach where several trails led from the beach through the jungle. Huts, highlighted by the westering sun, could be seen between the trees.
As the royal entourage approached the shore the paths between the trees became filled with natives. A group of handmaidens, burdened with fresh flower petals, pushed their way through the throng and began to lay a path of colour, for the King to follow, through the trees, to a large plaza surrounded by huts.
The center of the plaza 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. Tarka 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 was much too overweight to pose for such a statue now.
The most prominent part of the statue was its oversized phallus and scrotum which made Tarka remember that he was unclad and he noticed some of the native women looking at his genitals and comparing them to that of the statue. He noticed one of the women turn to a companion and smile.
The King had wasted no time in leading Tarka from the beach and he just as quickly led him along a flower strewn path to one of the centrally located huts which had its entrance opening onto the plaza. From within came the sounds of a chant.
Tarka ducked his head and followed the King into the dim interior. The first thing Tarka noticed was a terrible smell and a thick cloying smoke that made it difficult to breath as well as to see.
The source of the chanting was a short, bent, shrivelled, gnome of a man, who made Tarka think of a black Leprechaun. He was dancing around waving a stick. His body was covered with dried mud and feathers. From the smell Tarka suspected that the mud was actually cow dung.
Upon the entrance of the King, the Witch Doctor stopped his chanting and immediately began to berate the King. By the way the King stayed silent at this verbal assault Tarka knew the Witch Doctor had a lot of power in the hierarchy of the tribe.
Tarka had never met a Witch Doctor but had heard stories and immediately realized that if he didn't win the respect of this old gnome he would have a bitter enemy, one that might ask for his life in sacrifice if their patient died.
Behind the Witch Doctor lay the body of the young warrior whom Tarka had saved. Olandipo, the soldier with the bandage on his leg, lay on a mat of leaves. To one side were several fresh white shirts and three jugs of rum. The soldier lay very still and Tarka started towards him but stopped when he realized the Witch Doctor had quit ranting at the King and was pointing his magic stick towards Tarka.
Tarka bent to one knee to pay him homage, but didn't offer to kiss his hand. With bent head he remained still and quiet until the King touched his shoulder and indicated that he should rise.
Immediately the Witch Doctor started in on the King again. The King literally put his foot down and ordered the Witch Doctor from the hut pointing at Tarka and the unconscious warrior.
Quickly Tarka stopped the Witch Doctor 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.
With the hut to themselves, Tarka indicated that he wanted the Witch Doctor to continue with his dance and chant.
When he had the Witch Doctor engaged he slowly drew some of the sticks from the fire, reducing the source of the smoke. He would have liked to have poured some water on the fire and stopped the smoke completely but the level of the chanting lowered as he touched the burning sticks and he didn't want to push his luck.
When he left the fire the volume of the chanting went back up. Tarka knelt beside the wounded Olandipo and removed his bandage. The chanting stopped. The Witch Doctor knelt beside Tarka and gently touched the stitches, then looked at Tarka.
Stepping from the hut and using hand signs Tarka, after some time, and with many mistakes, was able to have produced two bowls of water.
Seeing the girls fanning the King he indicated that he wanted two of them to follow him into the hut. First looking at the King, who waved them on, they followed Tarka into the hut.
Tarka inspected the wound which looked closed except for one spot of white. Slowly reaching out Tarka lifted the tip of the Witch Doctor's knife and indicated that the Witch Doctor should hold the point in the fire. The Witch Doctor reluctantly heated his blade which Tarka then sterilized and cooled with rum.
With hand gestures Tarka showed the Witch Doctor how to use his knife to remove the crust from the wound and scrape out the pus. Wiping out the wound with an edge of the bandage Tarka then gave the Witch Doctor the jug of rum and directed him to pour a bit on the opening of the wound. In his delirium Olandipo twitched from the sting and the Witch Doctor handed the jug back to Tarka who barely took it in time to prevent it from hitting him in the face.
Tarka indicated that the Witch Doctor should return to his dancing and chanting and once the entertainment was underway Tarka cut up a clean shirt to fashion a new bandage. The wound was large and Tarka thought it might heal but he doubted that the warrior would fight any more battles.
Beneath the Witch Doctor's wildly waving stick of magic Tarka slipped the bandage around the leg and recovered the wound.
Tarka directed the two girls to stand on either side of the wounded soldier and gently fan a breeze towards him.
Outside again, Tarka chose two young ladies, who seemed most eager to share the hut, indicating that they should follow him inside. Positioning one girl on each side of the wounded man he ripped a shirt into rags and showed the girls how to dampen the rags in the bowls of water and use them to cool the torso of Olandipo.
Tarka indicated that the Witch Doctor should continue with his chanting and then pulled the sticks a little further out of the fire. Before slipping out of the hut he repositioned one of the girls so her fan was wafting the smoke laden air out through the doorway of the hut.
Outside Tarka indicated that the King could enter the hut and was nearly bowled over as the dignitary rushed to do so. By the King's concern Tarka now realized that the wounded youngster was more than just a fallen soldier.
Later Tarka would learn that the boy was the apple of his fathers eye, the son of the King, and heir to the throne. He would also come to learn that the girls he had appointed to bathe the soldier were Olandipo's sister, Okoni, and Kuti, the one bathing the boys lower abdomen, Olandipo's fianc¹e.
The sun had set and the sky was dark. The ebony statue and the ebony figures that moved about it reflected amber light cast by a large cooking fire near the center of the plaza.
As Tarka approached the idol he was handed a bowl of rice topped with some meat that had been taken from a carcass which was slowly turning over the cooking fire.
While he ate he gazed up at the perfectly carved statue that stood about a foot taller than he and a good two feet taller than any of the natives. It was perfectly proportioned except for the overly large genitals.
As Tarka finished his bowl of food it was immediately replaced with a second bowl which held a mixture of fruits.
Though the villagers seemed to be milling about aimlessly they were constantly watching Tarka eat and invariably seemed to keep a path open between himself and the hut where the King had gone to visit his son.
Tarka took the hint and, as soon as he had finished the second bowl of food, returned to the hut.
Inside the hut Tarka saw that all was as he had left it other than for the worried King who passed back and forth between the fire and his comatose son.
Tarka had noticed, while eating, that the air outside was getting cooler and filling with insects. Inside the hut the smoke was keeping the insects away.
He dismissed the girl at the entrance who was fanning the smoke out of the hut and 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, he curled up and went to sleep.
Later, when Tarka awoke, the King was still pacing, the Witch Doctor and the girls were still bathing, and the girl was still fanning, the patient. Tarka went outside to relieve himself and when he returned he brought with him three young ladies, two of whom he had kneel beside the bathers and learn their motions.
Dampen the cloths in the bowls of water, moisten the face and body of the patient, ring out the cloths, wipe the patient dry. 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, outwardly reluctant, but inwardly relieved, left.
Such tactics, however, did not work on the two girls. They did not wish to leave and all Tarka's hand signals were ignored. Finally Tarka walked behind the one and, placing his hands under her armpits, lifted her to her feet, accompanied by a gasp from the other girl and a grunt from the King.
Curious at, but ignoring, the reactions of the others he propelled Okoni towards the door.
When he had Okoni outside he ushered out the other bather, the girl with the fan, and the King. After checking to see that the new girls were doing a good job he returned to his mat and went back to sleep.
Sometime before morning Tarka awoke to find the King, again, pacing. The three girls Tarka had brought in were gone, replaced by the first three and the Witch Doctor.
Interrupting the administrations, Tarka dried and then felt Olandipo's forehead. To Tarka's inexperienced touch he could feel no change from the day before. 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.
Concentrating on his medicinal administrations Tarka failed to notice that he was being watched with rapt attention until water flicked from a finger, dipped in a water bowl on the other side of the patient, caused his audience to lift her head and avert her eyes from Tarka's naked genitals. Tarka further increased her embarrassment by giving her a big smile.
Occasionally spelling the nurses with fresh ladies from outside Tarka continued the rotation throughout the day and the following night.
Nearly a week went by before the fever broke and the boy awoke for a few minutes, ate a bit of rice, and slipped into a restful sleep.
Late, on the seventh day after the battle, Olandipo was awake and eating a hearty meal at which time the entire village began to celebrate.
Tarka was pulled from the hut by the King and presented to the people who shouted his name over and over but Tarka went back inside the hut and brought forth the Witch Doctor and presented him as the healer who had saved the warrior. Cheers went up for them both and their names were shouted to the skies.
Tarka was shown to an empty hut that faced the square and was presented with spears, food, utensils, mats, a loin cloth. Even the Witch doctor presented him with a gift, a magic healing stick, which Tarka acknowledged with a deep bow of respect further ingratiating himself with the old man.
Many young maidens gathered in front of the hut and the King indicated to Tarka that he could take his choice. Most of them were young and undeveloped. Some were shy and tried to hide behind the others while some were quite brazen and openly attempted to attract his attention.
From the gestures of the King he realized that he could have more than one and he was tempted to pick two or three of the more comely ones, though none of them were really of his liking.
Then he spotted Okoni standing off to one side and he recalled her devotion to her job of tending to the wounded warrior.
She had big thick lips and a smile that stretched from cheek to cheek and distorted an otherwise pretty face. She was slightly taller and larger breasted than the other girls her age but smaller than a few of the girls in the throng who were older than her. All in all not what he would consider beautiful but he didn't see any in the village that he would and though young she didn't appear to be that much younger than himself.
She was away from the others, as though she were shy, yet she was smiling as if to attract his attention. After another quick look at all the girls he pointed at Okoni.
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 stepped through the crowd and began to berate, first Tarka and then, the King. He kept pointing at Okoni and at himself.
The young warrior was soon followed by an older warrior who silenced the younger one and then in turn began to berate the King, pointing at Okoni and the young warrior.
Mai Mobolaji held up his hands to silence the crowd and then waved everyone away from him. Turning he walked to his hut and squatted in front of it, deep in thought.
Realizing that he had caused a problem, 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.
The Witch Doctor came over, grabbed Tarka's hands, and shook his head. Tarka realized that he was only compounding an already grave error and, at the Witch Doctor's urging, retired to his new hut.
Late in the evening Mai Mobolaji still sat, alone in the dark, in front of his hut. Deep in thought he didn't notice Tarka peek out of his hut, every so often, and finally slip out, between, and behind, other huts and reappear momentarily on the path to the beach.
Constantly vigil, the Witch Doctor was the only one to see Tarka slip away, he was also the only one to see a shadowy figure slip into Tarka's hut, just after Tarka had left, and reappear shortly afterwards, both times, something shinning in his hand.
The Witch Doctor retired to his hut to conjure a protection for Tarka. The Witch Doctor knew Gidado and knew that had Tarka been asleep in his hut, instead of at the beach, he would now be in the eternal sleep.
The Witch Doctor also knew that though Tarka had not been at home, to receive the shiny knife, Gidado would not let it end there. Like his father, Beko, he was a sore loser.
Tarka had committed a major faux pas but he didn't understand what or how to repair it. He knew it was bad because every time he looked out of his hut the King was still squatting in front of his hut shunning the approaches of all, including his handmaidens.
In the starlit night Tarka could barely make out the outline of a ship and he rushed to the water thinking that they had visitors but then he realized it was the slaver. The niggers had towed it into the bay.
Slipping one of the canoes from the beach Tarka paddled out to the ship. As he circled the silent craft he noticed the absence of insects over the water and decided to climb aboard for awhile. If nothing else he would be away from prying eyes and alone with his thoughts.
Tarka awoke to the sounds of seabirds crying and a stiff breeze singing in the rigging. His mind still occupied with thoughts of the previous evening, and how it could have ended much more pleasantly, had he chosen one or two of the more than willing ladies which had been presented to him, he failed to notice that, rather than straight up, the masts of the ship were at a similar angle to that of his penis.
The deck was also at an abrupt angle, instead of being level. Dropping from a hammock, that Tarka had rigged above decks, he immediately went sliding across the deck, tripped over the railing, and came fully awake as he struggled to swim back to the surface.
While Tarka had been sleeping the tide had receded and the ship, floating aimlessly in the bay, had settled on a shoal and canted.
The canoe that Tarka had tied to the ship's side was now far above the water on the opposite side of the ship and rather than climb one of the ropes hanging from the railing he chose to swim to shore.
Tarka was standing on the shore contemplating the ship, wondering if the tide would recede further and the ship would cant more until it began to ship water over the side or if the tide would start to come in and the ship would right itself.
Tarka heard not a sound, as the feet of the experienced warrior slipped over the soft sand, but his back was to the rising sun and Tarka noticed the sudden appearance of a shadow above his. Ducking and turning to one side Tarka avoided the deadly plunge of a honed hunting knife.
Instantly Gidado recovered and spun on his left foot, his right just barely skimming the water. Tarka looked for a way out but Gidado had brought some of his cronies and they were encircling the two combatants, he had no recourse but to fight and he knew not how many were actually going to take part in what was obviously to be a duel to the death.
The fact that he was unarmed was apparent to his enemy who smiled, cold and heartless. His knife held before him, Gidado advanced, backing Tarka into the water.
When he was waist deep Tarka hit the water with the heel of his hand but Gidado had been born on the shore of the ocean and had played water games all of his short life. As the spray came towards him he closed his eyes and hurled himself forward. His knife hand heralding his attack.
Unable to move quickly in the water Tarka twisted sideways, barely avoiding the deadly blade. Ducking beneath the water he was just in time to avoid a back slash that cut strands from his flowing hair.
Opening his eyes underwater, ignoring the sting of the salt, he saw Gidado's buttocks as his loin cloth floated in the warm water. Reaching between his enemy's legs, he grasped Gidado's genitals and squeezed, while propelling himself upward by pushing with his feet on the ocean floor.
Maintaining his hold on the screaming nigger, Tarka stood between the youth's flailing feet and, with his free hand, pressed on his opponent's shoulders, forcing his face under the surface.
With his mouth open to scream Gidado had no choice but to ship water and his struggles became more violent.
Tarka ignored the pummelling of Gidado's legs against his chest and continued to hold his opponent under water, releasing him only when he heard splashing behind him.
Realizing he was being attacked from behind Tarka crouched down, into the water, then shoving his feet against the sand, propelled himself into deeper water. Unseen by Tarka a spear entered the water, driven into the sandy bottom, where only moments ago he had been standing.
Swimming under water, away from the beach, until he could hold his breath no longer, Tarka surfaced to find himself out of knife range but not out of spear range.
As soon as his head popped above the shimmering surface a spear was launched in his direction.
While cavorting with maidens in the warm waters around Crete, Tarka had learned how to surface, refresh the air in his lungs, and resubmerge quickly. He did so now and avoided the flight of the deadly shaft.
Propelling himself underwater, much like a frog, he swam into ever deeper waters until he again had to surface for air.
This time he was beyond accurate aim of the spearchuckers and he paused on the surface to watch them shake their spears at him while they retrieved their choking comrade from the salt water.
Leisurely, Tarka swam to the ship and hauled himself aboard. There he found a cutlass and a knife. Armed, he climbed the sloping deck to the upper railing where he sat and watched his enemies who for some time eyed the canoes sitting on the shore but then turned inland at the appearance of niggers coming down the path from the village.
The niggers coming down the path changed direction and returned to the village with Gidado and his compatriots.
For some time Tarka whiled away the day sitting on the railing enjoying the warmth of the sun, then slipping from the railing he crab walked across the deck to the hammock he had used the night before.
He was nearly asleep when he heard his name called. Climbing to the railing he peered over to see Ogbuji, standing in a canoe below him, beckoning him to come down. Swinging over the railing he slid down a rope and joined Ogbuji who swung his canoe around and took them back to shore.
Feeling confident when he had joined Ogbuji, he had left his weapons on board the ship. Now as he walked the path through the jungle he wondered if that had been such a wise decision.
Upon arrival in the plaza Tarka first noticed several dozen niggers standing around the cooking fire joined together by chains shackled to their ankles. He also noticed, out of the corner of his eye, a certain young lady disappear into her father's hut. Shortly thereafter two large white eyes could be discerned peering around the edge of the doorway.
Tarka's musings were interrupted by the King who introduced him to the Chief of the village to the North and pointed at the chains that were shackled about his leg and that of his people.
Tarka nodded his head to indicate that he understood, then pointed at Ogbuji and two other warriors and, beckoning for them to follow, turned and led them along the path to the beach.
While sitting in the canoe, being paddled out to the ship, Tarka saw many villagers moving down to the water's edge. Among them he noticed Okoni who seemed to be avoiding looking at him. Beside her he saw his enemy and for some strange reason he felt a pang of jealousy when he saw the man put a hand on her shoulder, but he smiled when he saw her shrug it off.
The canoe had reached the ship which was still badly canted and the paddlers had to clamber up a rope and over the edge of the ship. They had trouble walking around as the desk was not level.
Waving his arms and pointing, Tarka instructed his three partners. The foursome managed to untie and lower a long boat over the side. He then directed Ogbuji to climb down to the long boat.
Finding a rope hanging from a block high on a yardarm Tarka tied it to an anvil mounted near the center of the deck. With tools from the carpenters locker he dismounted the anvil which swung free from the canted deck, nearly hitting, Tija, one of the niggers.
As it swung loose Tarka jumped back and fell, sliding across the uneven roof, and got the wind knocked out of him as he landed against the ship's railing.
Pulling himself back up the deck, after getting his wind back, Tarka waited for the swing of the anvil to become less violent and then with the help of the two warriors he untied the rope from the mast and lowered the anvil to Ogbuji waiting in the long boat.
Signalling the two warriors to go overboard Tarka took some hammers and chisels from the carpenter's locker and then joined Ogbuji in the long boat.
Shipping the oars Tarka propelled the long boat back to the beach but he was no match for the speed of the smaller canoe and the two warriors were waiting in the shallow water.
When the boat was dragged up onto the sand the four men, with great difficulty, lifted the anvil 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 anvil, luckily missing everyone's toes.
Ogbuji motioned for them to 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 two; hammers, and chisels, giving one of each to Ogbuji.
Looking about Tarka saw one of the villagers with the chain on his leg and beckoned him to come forward. Eventually ten warriors, all chained together, were able to shuffle forward until they reached him.
Tarka had the first warrior lift his leg until the shackle that encircled his ankle was resting on the edge of the anvil.
In one hand Tarka held the chisel, showed it to the people and said, "chisel". In his other hand he held the hammer and said, "hammer". The watchers tried to repeat his words.
Tarka then placed the chisel against the rivet in the shackle about the warriors ankle. Swinging back his arm he brought the hammer down.
Surprised by the sudden movement of Tarka's arm the villager moved his foot and the chisel slipped off the rivet and landed on the anvil with a 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 swore, dropped both tools, which fell in the water, and clasped his stinging hands. Taking his time to let the cool water take the sting out of his palms he retrieved the tools from the ocean floor.
Out of the corner of his eye he noticed Okoni step forward, he also noticed Gidado restrain her but she gave him a dirty look and he dropped his hand. Now he understood why Gidado had attacked him on the beach.
Tarka again requested the villager to lift his foot and place the 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 rivet finally parted and the shackle fell from the captive's ankle. All of the watchers gave Tarka a loud cheer.
Tarka folded one arm across his stomach and made a deep bow towards Okoni and turning toward the King bowed again. All of the watchers laughed at his antics except, he noticed, Gidado.
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 chisels 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.
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 Tarka coached Ogbuji on how to take a bow which brought more laughter from the watchers.
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 at the ship which was no longer at an angle, the masts were now sticking straight up.
Tarka waded out into the water and yelling and waving his arms began to point at all the warriors 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 ship. When the tide finally stopped moving the ship started to move towards the ocean.
When Tarka, standing in the bow and swinging the lead line calculated that there was sufficient water under the keel for the next low tide he called for the paddlers to reverse direction.
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.
Tarka directed the warriors to the front of the ship where he had them stick handles into the capstan and lower the anchor. By the time the ship was secured from floating aimlessly about the bay, the Royal family had arrived and, bowing before the retinue, Tarka welcomed them aboard.
Tarka had borrowed a pair of pantaloons, that he had found in a cabin, for the occasion. He kept a straight face, while managing not to smile, as he noticed Okoni staring at the bulge in his trousers.
For the benefit of those who had not been aboard before Tarka took them on a short tour that ended in the Galley where he prepared them a meal of Bratwurst and Sauerkraut.
After the meal Tarka took them back on deck and showed them a cannon. He swabbed out the barrel, which hadn't been cleaned since the Germans fight with the niggers, and loaded it with powder and ball. With the help of the niggers he moved the weapon back to its firing port.
Directing everyone to stand back he called forward the Witch Doctor and handed him a punk. He directed the Witch Doctor to touch it to the fuse.
When the fuse was smouldering he directed the Witch Doctor to step back and urged everyone to cover their ears while looking towards the shore.
The cannon fired, went hurtling back, leaving a large cloud of smoke outside the railing. Immediately a flash was followed by the appearance of a second cloud, amongst the trees of the jungle, followed shortly by the blast of the exploding ball.
While Ogbuji was speaking to the amazed assemblage Tarka cleaned the gun and found the tipoli, which he placed in the mouth of the cannon, and then had the warriors pull on the ropes until it was back against the side of the ship.
The sun was far to the West and Mai Mobolaji suggested that they all retire to the village.
Tarka noticed that Gidado was not on the beach and wondered where he might be as he had not accompanied his father aboard the Royal Barge. Again Tarka wondered about the wisdom of leaving his weapons aboard ship.
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.
Tarka entered the King's hut with a bowl of food for his patient interrupting a conversation between he and Okoni.
Tarka gave her a big smile and spoke to her, "I see our patient is feeling better." Handing the bowl to Olandipo he repeated the same words, "I see you are feeling better." Neither of them understood what he said but both returned his smile.
Tarka retired to his hut and not really wanting to sleep by himself didn't understand what choice he had. Wondering if it would be prudent to approach any of the girls he stuck his head out of the doorway but didn't see any likely prospects.
In fact he didn't see anyone at all, so rather than lie in the dark unarmed, he slipped from his hut. At the beach he borrowed a canoe, and went to sleep in his hammock, a cocked pistol at his side.
Early the next morning Tarka was high in the rigging securing lines and loose sails when he saw Ogbuji slip a canoe from the beach. By the time the little craft was beneath the gunwales Tarka had descended from above. Ogbuji climbed aboard, indicated to Tarka that he wished to join him in the rigging, and began to climb the mizzen mast.
Tarka followed him up the ropes and showed him how to secure the loose lines. The Germans had been preparing to make sail, when they lost the battle, and many lines hung loose. Some of the sheets had been damaged by the British guns and had to be cut away.
The two were later joined by Tija and others and they spent a busy morning until Tarka stopped to treat them to a lunch in the galley.
Shortly after lunch one of the warriors fell from the end of an arm and, luckily, missed the deck and the canoes tied below. The others thought this was great fun and little work got done the rest of the day as the niggers repeatedly climbed up the rigging to jump into the crystal clear water.
Tarka too, joined in the frolic and after inspecting and repairing each arm would jump into the water. By the end of the afternoon he had only finished the lower arms, cutting away the worst of the damage and securing the loose lines.
Joining the others in their canoes he went ashore where he was met by the King who officially presented him to Okoni. With many gestures and waving of the hands, pointing at himself, the young girl, and the sun, Mai Mobolaji made Tarka understand that the two would be wed in two weeks time but that there could be no hanky panky in the meantime.
Marriage is not exactly what Tarka had in mind, nor was Okoni his idea of a wife, but the smiling faces all around him seemed to tell him that he was outvoted so he quickly put a smile on his face and accepted. Unaware of Gidado's death and curious as to the King's ebullient mood and bowing deeply to the King and to his daughter he lifted Okoni's hand and shook it, leaving everyone quite perplexed as to what that signified.
When in Rome. And it looked like he might be in Rome for a while. Tarka had sailed this coast before and knew there were no white settlements within hundreds of leagues.
He wasn't about to hoof it out of here and the chances of a passing ship seeing the tiny cove were very slim.
At his age he had never considered marriage and certainly he had never considered settling down in a jungle. Somehow he had always pictured a city as being home. But home is where you hang your hammock and he now had lots of those. Legally he owned an entire ship. Maybe he could train a crew of niggers and go into the shipping business.
With thoughts of the sea running through his mind he was led up the path to the village. It wasn't until they reached the plaza that he noticed an absence of niggers from other villages. Unable to ask questions he was left pondering the decision of the King to allow him and Okoni to be one. He had been sure there had been something afoot between her and the nigger that had attacked him. He wondered if now he was safe from another such attack.
The days went by. Tarka and Okoni would walk paths in the jungle, swim in the creek or the ocean. He would visit with her brother for whom he made a rude crutch from a likely piece of driftwood they found along the beach.
Though they had plenty of opportunity they did nothing more than hold hands as any further advances were prevented by resistance on Okoni's behalf. He gathered that she wanted to go to the wedding as a virgin so Tarka controlled his desires although it was pretty hard to do, especially the night they spent aboard ship.
The two had been below decks, Tarka preparing a feast of culinary expertise, and failed to notice the rising wind until it was too late to get back to shore. Looking over the railing Tarka saw the waves break through the gap in the headlands and smash the small canoe against the side of the ship.
There was little that Tarka could do but hope the anchor held in the sandy bottom. The rigging was all lashed securely and only that day he had finished clearing and securing the deck. With the help of some of the warriors the anvil had been returned from the beach and secured from whence he had taken it.
Running through all the decks and into each room, Okoni hot on his heels, he closed and battened all the ports that he had opened to allow fresh air to circulate through the musty old vessel.
By the time they were finished they were both soaked and Okoni was scared. She clung to Tarka as he carried her back to the galley where he extinguished the fire.
The meal wasn't quite finished but Okoni no longer felt like eating. It wasn't very long before she became queasy and as the boat began to heave, straining at the anchor chain, she became violently ill. For the next few hours she clung to Tarka while he held tightly to the table in the galley and tried to keep her from flying about the room.
Late in the night the storm eased off and after washing the vomit from her face and his lap he carried the frightened little girl to the Captain's state room which he now called his home away from home. A man of substance, so to speak, he now had a ship, and a home in town.
Late in the morning Ogbuji found Tarka on his hands and knees scrubbing the deck of the galley. Tarka was pleased to see Ogbuji arrive, he needed a chaperone.
Awakening, Tarka had found himself curled up with a bundle of femininity that he found very difficult to refrain from touching.
While he worked off his frustrations in the galley he kept picturing, in his mind, the visions of her nakedness and was tempted to return to his quarters and perform in reality what he was accomplishing in his mind.
In some scrubbed whites that Tarka had found aboard the slaver he stood at attention beside the idol in the plaza. He was not at ease.
He was not unfamiliar with what was about to happen, as he had witnessed Ogbuji's, his soon to be brother-in-law, wedding only a week ago. Though he didn't love his soon-to-be bride he did not want her to be forced to endure the forthcoming humiliation and torture. However there was nothing he could do about it. It was their custom and he was sure she was prepared for it, perhaps even looking forward to it.
The attending crowd parted and Tarka could see, through the corridor, the entrance to the Kings hut and watched as Okoni timidly stepped forth.
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.
The painted warriors broke into more screaming and dancing at the approach of the royal retinue and then closed behind them.
As Okoni came to a halt in front of the groom, the Queen, and Kuti, stepped forward and removed 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, she was lifted and again paraded amongst the assemblage. The foursome stopped before her husband-to-be and again spread her legs so that Tarka could see she was a virgin. Then they passed her to the warriors behind them.
Hand to hand she was passed from warrior to warrior along the path to the ocean.
Later, her flowered skirt wrapped about her again, she walked 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, The Witch Doctor, dressed in all his finery, did one last dance around the hut and then departed.
Tarka spread his arms and Okoni crawled between them. He clasped her tight and gently kissed her on the lips.
Slowly he covered her face and, eventually, as he loosened himself from her embrace, her entire body, except where it was covered with decoration.
His lips and tongue continued their journey along her legs and back up again. 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 words of faithfulness into her ear and fell asleep.
Late in the morning Tarka awoke and slowly rolled his new bride over until she was lying on her stomach. A hand on the floor on either side of her, he left a trail of hot, wet, kisses along her spine and across her derriere.
As Tarka moved her legs apart to begin kissing the inside of her leg she slowly pulled herself away and rushed out of the hut.
Tarka, too, felt the call of nature and followed his new wife into the jungle.
While she squatted behind their hut he stood beside her and pointing his semi erect phallus towards a tree spewed a golden stream of liquid into the air. She laughed as he waved it about.
Okoni led Tarka to the path, along the creek, to the swimming hole where 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. After some moments she eventually allowed Tarka to part her lips and enter her mouth with his tongue.
Tarka proceeded to plant kisses all over her face, her nose, her cheeks, her eyes, her chin, her neck, her breasts.
He held her breasts in his hands, holding them to his lips, his teeth nibbling at her tender flesh, around the sides and underneath her globes. He sucked her nipples into his mouth, scrapping them past his teeth and batting them about with his tongue.
Tarka stepped back towards the shore and falling back took Okoni with him, coming to rest against the shore of the pond. Grasping her shoulders he moved her up along his body and then grasping her breasts, wrapped them around his phallus. With a breast on each side of his member it 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.
His fists, and her breasts, splashed water until he gasped and collapsed, his arms falling to his sides.
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.
After a short recuperation, with his other arm snaking under her legs, he lifted her high in the air and threw her into the middle of the pond.
He quickly followed her, diving under the water, 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, opening her mouth wide, allowing his tongue to explore hers.
After long moments he broke the kiss and whispering `I love you', 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 wet lines 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.
The next day Tarka took his new wife to visit the ship which floated gently in the harbour. There they climbed the mainmast, and standing in the crow's, nest were able to see for miles in every direction. Except where the headlands separated at the mouth of the cove, and they could see water for as far as the eye could see, there was nothing but jungle in all directions.
Leaving her standing with her back to the mast Tarka descended from the crow's nest, leaving behind a trail of kisses from her neck to her toes. Then he began to ascend until his kisses ended at her womanhood.
Until now, because she had been so brutalized on their wedding night, Tarka had not paid more than scant attention to her nether mouth and now he cautiously spread her legs and tenderly kissed her outer lips.
Gently he parted her lips with his tongue and tasted the honey like dew from her flower. Gently he parted her inner lips and inserted his tongue, prying her open.
His tongue sensed her excitement and began flickering faster and harder until finally she cried out and wrapped her hands around his head.
Gently, but firmly, he held her until she was able to stand alone and then she lowered herself though the hole until she could wrap her arms about him and with no more inhibitions kissed him open mouthed as ardently as he had her.
Eventually, after stopping many times to kiss, the two climbed down the rigging 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. Guiding her hand to grasp the flesh and pull on it, bunching the flesh on the end, covering the little eye, then moving her hand back exposing the eye, stretching the skin back along his manhood.
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.
Tarka kept her hand moving slower and slower as his hips lowered to the deck. Taking her hand from his shrinking member and pulling on it, he urged her to lie beside him and wrapping her in his arms, held her tight.
Each day Tarka taught Okoni new and different ways to enjoy making love. Always avoiding intercourse, allowing time for her vagina to heal.
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 fantasy of his. In the galley he found a pail of lard 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.
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.
She willingly agreed and turning him around began to spread the lard on his shoulders.
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 grabbing his hand pressed it to her, urging 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 allowing the flesh of her mammae to flow between his fingers, making it impossible for him to hang onto her nipples.
Reaching between her legs Okoni 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.
It was tight which is what he expected. She tried to wiggle away but he continued to enter her. Slowly but surely, the lard making the entry almost effortless.
The thought passed through his mind that this was the position his arch enemy, Patch, had wanted to get him in many times.
He had more than once witnessed other sailors in the doggy position and though he understood why their loneliness drove them to it, his plans never included Greek Style, and most certainly never included Patch.
His fantasies had always involved a woman, with him in the assertive role, and now he brought his mind back to the reality of a fantasy come true.
When his abdomen was tight against her buttocks he stopped while his hands continued their admiration of her breasts and then he slowly started to withdraw.
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.
Tarka began a slow rotation of his hips, widening the entry, eventually changing his movements 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 joined in the rhythm. As he was slamming against her she began to cry out. Then he too cried out and nearly collapsed on her back.
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. She laughed and he laughed with her and then she laughed again and then kissed him.
They had been married for a fortnight when early in the morning Tarka awoke before his bride and proceeded to wake her with a trail of hot wet kisses along her body.
As had happened before his lips and tongue moved up her inner thigh and stopped on her engorged nether lips.
When he had her at a pitch of fever he stopped. Though she tried to hold his head he continued his trail of kisses up her body to her breasts and passed them over, rather quickly, until he reached her mouth.
While he was kissing her and they were exploring each other's mouth, his fingers were spreading her nether lips. Tarka had concluded that her womanhood was healed enough now to accept him without pain. Slowly he replaced his fingers with his manhood.
She cried into his mouth. 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 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. She raked his back, bit his lip, and squeezed the very life from him.
The two of them screamed together and he collapsed on top of her. After a moment Tarka eased his weight from her tiny body but she clung to him, pulling him back down on her, stroking him, squeezing him, until he was excited again, and they repeated the performance a second time.
Time stood still in the jungle. Hunters killed game. Animals killed hunters. Babies were born. Olandipo married Kuti. Ogbuji had a daughter. Okoni had a daughter. Olandipo had a daughter. Okoni had a son. Kuti, died giving birth, as did the unborn foetus. Tarka learned a smattering of Okoni's language, the villagers learned a smattering of English, with an Irish accent.
Storms came from the sea. The sun shone, and the slavers arrived.
Late one spring Olandipo married a second time and the dignitaries arrived from the other villages. The festivities went on into the night. In the early morning light while everyone was besotted from fire water and lack of sleep the invaders crept, silently, through the camp, removing weapons and surrounding the sleepers.
There was no defense, there was no battle. The entire village, and all of its guests, was enslaved before they had any knowledge of what was happening.
For the rest of the day the villagers were turned into slaves. Under the eyes of the guards and the lash of the whip they were forced to harvest any crops in their gardens or the nearby jungle that were ripe enough for picking. Hunters too, members of the slavers, went out and brought in game.
As the foods were collected on the beach male villagers were forced to load them into long boats and take them to the waiting ships.
It was not until nightfall, and the women returned from the gardens, that it was noticed that the men who had taken the food aboard ship had not returned.
Women who complained loudly were taken to the beach and put into long boats for transport to the ships.
The next day the harvesting continued with a much depleted work force and by the end of the day all the foods had been gathered and transported along with all the villagers.
The slavers, believing they were to be transported to a Northern port, went aboard on the last of the boats. They failed to notice that they weren't all taken to the same ship.
Separated equally among the three ships, the slavers were a weakened force and once the ships were at sea they were easily overwhelmed, disarmed, and added to the coffle of slaves.
While the sailors had been transporting the slaves to the ships they had also been separating them. The males went to two of the ships while the females, other than for several of the more comely ones who were sent to the two ships with the men, were taken to the third ship.
Once the ships had cleared harbour and were out in the open sea, the sails set, the crews set to chaining the prisoners. As they did so, further sorting of the prisoners took place.
The old, the weak, and the deformed, were taken topside. There, with simple expediency, they were thrown overboard, too far from land to swim ashore.
The more comely of the females were moved to the upper decks, where they were more readily accessible to the sailors, while the less attractive ones were moved to the lower decks.
The prisoners below were unaware of the happenings topside. They could only assume that their loved ones had been separated from them as the males had been separated from the females. It would be months later, when they finally reached land, that they would learn their families had been torn asunder forever.
Tarka's two children, and Olandipo, Okoni's older brother with the bad leg, were never seen again.
Though Tarka could not speak, or understand, the Portuguese language, he knew from his experience with slavers what had been happening during the sorting. Separated by many feet of water and wood he was unable to comfort his wife or explain to her what had transpired.
The ships sailed West and as the days turned to weeks, and the weeks into months, further sorting took place. The weak, the sick, and the dead were moved topside and thrown overboard.
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