A seaman returned with a wooden bucket, steam rising from the hot water it contained!
“Strip him Mr Jordan! Lower half!”
I studied the black eyes as the Gunnery Officer cut away the lower garb! It was a loose, white, wrap around garment drawn up between the legs, leaving the legs bare from the knees down. It was somewhat bedraggled after the wearer had been afloat in the sea for a short period! I looked into the eyes, filled with hatred and defiance! The garment fell around the ankles, leaving the whole of the nether region exposed!
“Speak English?” I asked again ”I can save you pain if you talk to me!”
The black eyes glittered as I spoke. I was convinced our friend did speak our language! For certain, no-one aboard spoke his!
I took the wooden ladle from the sailor’s hand, dipped it into the boiling water to fill it, then slowly moved it, so that drips from it, fell upon the foot of the slaver.
His eyes registered the pain…I tipped from the ladle, he struggled to contain a scream, as the hot water cascaded over his foot! I moved the ladle to the other foot and tipped the rest of its contents onto the other foot!
“Speak English?” I enquired again!
The black eyes spoke their defiance! Suddenly he hawked and spat into my face! I wiped the spittle from my cheek with my sleeve…
“So!….” I dipped the ladle again, and this time drew it toward the crotch of the unfortunate fellow! I had barely begun to drip the fiery liquid upon his private parts, the said parts being shrivelled with fear, when, in a guttural voice he spoke! In very good, but heavily accented English, he spoke!
“Mercy Captain!! Have mercy! I know nothing! I am innocent trader held captive by this Arab people!”
He lied! I could read it in his face! He lied!
I tipped the whole contents of the ladle onto his manhood! He screamed in agony, the flesh turning a bright red in an area running down his legs!
“Liar!!” I said softly, glaring into his eyes! “Your dirk if you please Mr Jordan!”
Jordan handed me his dirk….. (Mine had been left behind on the slave ship in the rush to get off her)…I leaned close to the Arab.
“This time, my friend, I will cut it off! Now!…the truth if you please!”
His eyes once again spoke their defiance! I turned the blade so that the finely honed edge was uppermost, and slid it behind the man’s scrotum. I drew the blade slowly across the flesh, blood dripped from the steel….It flowed freely as I drew the knife completely across the skin to the end! Not a sound! A brave man indeed….brave because if he could read my inner thoughts…he knew he would remain a man for only a few seconds more! Still the eyes spoke their hatred and defiance! I passed the dirk back to Jordan!
“See to it Mr Jordan! Cut it off! Then stuff it in his mouth before you throw him overboard! We have wasted enough time! Let the blood attract the sharks!”
At the mention of sharks, I saw his eyes go wide with fear! So!…at last we had found his weakness!
“The sharks hereabouts are man-eaters my friend! I wish you good luck! CUT IT OFF MR JORDAN!!!
As I made to turn to walk away, I heard him mutter…
“No Captain! Mercy!…… Please!…… Mercy!”
“Then talk to me!” I said turning back towards him…I put out my hand to stay the hand of Mr Jordan and the knife!
“Talk to me! Tell me about the slaver! Tell me about the prisoners! Tell me about the camp on Palentenka!”
His face registered surprise that I knew of Palentenka!
“Ok Captain! But you must agree to set me free if I tell you what you want to know! Set me free on the first available island…I will tell you what I know!”
I studied him hard! I had to take him on trust!
“Ok my friend! But lie to me and you will be thrown to the sharks…minus this!..” I lifted his limp penis with the knife.
“That ship is one of two ships…the other…the “Balazhad” is heavily armed with cannon! Too many guns for you to take her Captain!…she is the one that raids shipping! The men are killed and the women and children taken! They are taken to Palentenka to be imprisoned! Then after they have been assessed for quality…..they are sold in the markets in Marrakesh and Alexandria!! That is all I know Captain! Truly!”
“Where were you taking the women and children that were on your ship?” I asked leaning into his face, so closely that I could smell his rotten breath.
“They were the ones who would not submit Captain! At least willingly…they had to be forced!..and after being forced many times…. to try to change their minds…they are used goods and will not sell!…So….They were our playthings for the voyage to Takiri…where they were going to be the new brides of the “famed brothers” who hold prisoners there until they naturally die! There is no wastage Captain! But……I…..I had nothing to do with any of this trade! I was just the man who searched ships for money and anything that was of value!”
“You will be pleased to know that your “famed brothers” on Takiri are no longer with us!” I told him. I took great delight in sharing the news with him! His eyes went wide with shock, his nostrils flared!
“Never! You could never defeat the brothers of Takiri!!”
“They are no more I assure you…Neither is your friend Abbot Massiniere!…He decided to drop out of your organisation…so to speak!”
Again his eyes registered shock! My turn for bluff….
“And we have three ships…including two ships-of-the-line, at this moment on their way to Palentenka! Your friends there will be no more very shortly too!!”
It was his turn to call me a liar!
“So be it! You decide!”
“But ships that large will never make it to the island…they don’t know the way into the inner lagoon…there are treacherous reefs! No Captain! I am afraid your plan won’t work! They will be wrecked before they have gotten within a few miles of the island!” He laughed as he spoke.
“Well my friend! That is where you come into the picture! You are going to show us the way in! And…If you decide you won’t help us….then I’m afraid you will have to swim to Palentenka…..and…you might get slightly injured before you go for your swim…just to make it interesting!!”
“Leave him lashed to the mast Mr Jordan! Let him think things over!”
“Aye aye sir!” I saw the look of pleasure in Jordan’s face as I turned and walked away!
(To be cont.....................)