Lasalle!!!…….. He looked thinner than the last time we had met! His hair was dirty and unkempt. He looked like he hadn’t slept in days! The Devil himself! The man responsible for all our ills! I felt anger rising again in my blood! I wanted to take my knife and cut him from ear to ear! But….that would be too easy! I controlled the urge, turning back to Jordan.
“Guns….I think Mr Samuels should be told how things are! I will tell him in a moment! Is she badly hurt physically?”
“Aye sir she is! There are numerous marks and scars. Signs of ill treatment! But I fear the mental scars are the worst! They may never heal! She will say nothing of her ordeal sir! At least….not yet!”
“Right Guns! It’s starting to lighten. Dawn is breaking, there is much to do….Be so good as to assemble the ladies we have here will you please?”
“Aye aye sir!……assemble the ladies it is sir!”
I turned away and walked decisively towards Mr Perkins. The dawn light was beginning to show us the devastation surrounding us! Most of the camp had been demolished! Skirmishing parties were still searching for any stray individuals we might have missed. The body count was going on, but was slightly confused by the number of pieces of bodies that had to be pieced together! But a rough estimate looked to be in the region of thirty dead…and strangely….no wounded!!
“Mr Perkins! A word if you please!”
He left the prisoner and escort and came to my side.
“Mr Perkins….It looks to be a fine day in the offing……no doubt the sun will shine upon a totally new day for the ladies! I want you to take a detail and find an appropriate spot within the compound, clear the area around it…..and prepare to stake out our honoured guest, spread-eagled! No sustenance is to be given to the prisoner! He can blister in the sun! That will be preferable to what I have envisaged for him!”
“Stake him out sir? May I ask why?”
“You may Mr Perkins! You may! I intend to let the ladies exact their revenge for the outrages that have been perpetrated upon them by Lasalle and his henchmen! I think perhaps they will find many novel ways to entertain our prisoner don’t you?”
He smiled a wry smile.
“Aye sir I do!”
“See to it Mr Perkins! Make sure he is securely bound eh?”
“Aye aye sir!”
Now….to find Moses! He had gone off in the skirmishing parties to check out any remaining enemy! I left Perkins to his detail and walked towards the burnt area in the far end of the compound! I found Moses helping to clear debris from the doorway of one of the huts. It had probably not been searched yet! I walked up to him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
“Moses my friend! I need to talk to you….let’s go over there where it’s quiet” I pointed in the direction of the gateway that had been blasted by Perkins. He looked at me in puzzlement.
“Cap’n…..dere is lot o’ work to do Cap’n!”
“I know my friend…but this is important and cannot wait! It needs your attention and your attention only!”
The sound of the skirmishing party diminished as we crossed the compound. I stopped at a convenient quiet spot with my back to Moses! What to say? I looked at the breaking dawn, I wished it was still dark…..then I would not have to see the pain I was about to invoke!
“Suh?” Moses was only a step behind me now. I turned and looked him in the eye! His face was puzzled! He really had no idea why I had asked to speak with him privately!
“Moses! My friend! ….(I paused, unsure of what to say) ….Mr Jordan has just confirmed…..er….. that your Dolores is amongst the women rescued from the stockade! She is alive my friend! ALIVE!!!….But I also bear the painful news that she has been mistreated badly by the slavers! Her physical condition is poor to fair…and…. alas, her mental condition is unfathomable! It will take a lot of time, a lot of patience and a lot of love to help her recover! I know you have these in abundance! I wish the news was better…..but……as of this moment, you are relieved of your duties here! Go to her my friend! Be prepared for what you see! Give her the space and the time to heal…..with love and patience, she will return to you my friend! Go!!…. she is aboard the “Anna”! Take my warmest wishes with you!…..GO!!!”
“Aye Cap’n! …..(I saw tears welling in his eyes)…….I t’ink she was die Cap’n!”
“I know my friend! But…GO! Be there for her now!”
“Aye aye suh!………an’……t’ank yo’ Cap’n!!”
With that, he turned and ran from me…jogging across the barren earth! God! What would he find?
I strode back to Mr Perkins and his men…..They had cleared an area in the middle of the compound. Lasalle stood manacled and fettered, a rope from his waist held by three men. The ladies had been gathered nearby.
“Ready to carry out your orders sir!” Perkins called as I passed!
“Very well Mr Perkins…..stake him out!”
I walked to where the ladies were gathered with Jordan.
“Ladies!….” I began, “Ladies….in the centre of the compound you will see, staked out upon the ground, Lasalle, or “Redbeard”….You know of him…and……what he has been capable of……some of you have experienced his outrages first-hand! I leave his punishment to you! Make it final if you please! I have no wish to have to repeat the procedure more than once! Go to it! And may God have mercy on his soul!”
There was a stunned silence….then one of the women approached me and held her hand out for the dirk in my waist belt. I withdrew it and handed it to her! There was a whoop of joy from some of the others, and soon all were begging for a weapon! I turned away, wanting no part in what was sure to follow! It was “just desserts” I felt!
“Right Guns! Let’s get everyone back to the ship! Take anything we can find of value from here! Leave the bodies for the crows!”
(To be cont...............)