Like an ancient caravan, we left the site of the compound. Men carrying all manner of items salvaged from the encampment. Not least of which, were several muskets and assorted armaments. We had gone no more than a few hundred yards when we heard the screams! Barely human screams! ..…screams of agony! They lasted for minutes at a time! I felt a grim satisfaction, no other poor unfortunate would find themselves at the mercy of Monsieur Lasalle!!! The return path down the cliff was negotiated with some difficulty. The shale had been loosened by the passage of the many feet of the crew on their ascent. The leaders, of which I was one, assembled again at the base of the cliffs to await the others. I hoped the ladies would not be too long in wreaking their vengeance upon Redbeard. My thoughts were continuously drifting to Moses and Dolores. What was to become of the two of them I wondered? My first duty was to visit Dolores and see for myself what her physical and mental state was, but, I envisaged it was not going to be a pleasant task. Gathering in groups on the beach, we quickly loaded the boats to the gunwhales with men and equipment and the first parties headed for the “Anna”. I looked along the shoreline to the place where I had nearly drowned! The wreck of the “Balazhad” lay listing to starboard on the edge of the reef! I had thoughts about salvaging her and putting a prize crew aboard. She would fetch a pretty price in Port-de-Paix! However, I didn’t have the manpower to spare, she was a big ship, and, to us, a strange ship. She would need to be crewed by men with sufficient knowledge of her lateen sail patterns. So…I decided to leave her to her fate!
A shout from one of the crew drew my attention to the cliffs. The women had finished their ministrations to the unfortunate Lasalle, and were descending the cliffs. I searched among them until I found Sarah Benedict.
“Ma’am? …..Miss Benedict? Has the deed been done?” I queried.
“Done Captain! Monsieur Lasalle will never again prowl the high seas looking for prey! He has been emasculated, his privy parts have been his breakfast! And….the Dutch girl Anneka has administered the final cutting of his throat from ear to ear! He no longer breathes Captain…I am glad to announce he is dead!”
“Very well….and Miss Benedict….”
“Captain…please call me Sarah! I much prefer that!”
“Very well….Sarah…..Tell me, what do you know of the health of the girl called Dolores…the common-law wife of my First Officer…. Moses Samuels?”
“Captain…..I know little about any of the states of mind of the other women!..…they have all suffered appallingly! As for their physical abuse at the slavers hands…many I fear, will never recover!…. many, if they do, will never produce children!…..and, if they do…many will not be able to feed them as mother nature intended! Do you understand what I mean Captain?”
“I do indeed…Sarah…I do indeed!”
My mind dwelt on Dolores…had she been one of the ones the slavers had mutilated? Would?…….. could?…. she bear Moses’ children?
Eventually, by late afternoon, we were back aboard the “Anna Baptiste”. I had mustered the crew beneath the mainmast, and praised them for their skill and courage in the raid ashore…I also enlightened them about the fate of some of our guests…and the final fate of Lasalle! When I mentioned the latter, a cheer went up, along with several caps! I dismissed them and went below to my cabin! I had a very unpleasant duty to perform in visiting all of our female guests….I knew what to expect I thought…but it would still be a daunting task to perform. And, Dolores…what of Dolores?
I sat at my Davenport….with a glass of claret! God! I needed some Dutch courage before meeting them all! There was a tap on the door…
“Captain sir?” Jordan stood in the doorway holding his cap in both hands, fidgeting!
“Come in Guns! Come in! I wanted to see you as it happens! I want to personally congratulate you and your guns crews on their excellent work at the bombardment! They made it seem like child’s play! Well done to them and to you!”
“Thank you Captain! Thank you indeed! I will take your message to my men, and to the ladies, several of whom were equal in their determination, if not their skill!”
“Quite Mr Jordan! Quite! Talking of the women….I intend to visit them in a while…but….I think I shall be slightly out of my depth when it comes to Dolores! ….have you any helpful hints Guns? What can I say to her?”
“Just be yourself Captain….she would expect no other! Try not to be too shocked is all I can advise! She had been badly mistreated and is still in deep shock and depression!”
I patted him on the shoulder.
“Thank you Guns! Was there anything else?”
“Aye sir there was! I have been looking at the ship’s log…do you know what the date is?”
“Remind me Guns! Remind me!”
“It’s the 23rd day of November sir!…”
“What for it Mr Jordan?…What relevance has it?”
“We have been at sea for one hundred and seventy days Captain!”
“Well? What for that Guns?”
“Well Captain…..we left Tortuga on the 24th day of June…..Captain……..ummm…….JUNE sir!!!!…it is now November!!!!….by now you could be a father!!!!”
GOD!! How remiss of me! Anna had been in my thoughts almost constantly……but I had no idea the time had gone so quickly!
A FATHER???? Me?? A Father?….I felt the prickle of tears at the edge of my eyes…I felt my throat constrict!! Anna my love!! Have I got a son or a daughter? God I needed to get canvas set!
“Mr Jordan!….Prepare to get under way if you please! Set course for Tortuga island! Let’s see what this ship can do eh?”
“AYE AYE CAPTAIN!!” He shouted as he ran from the room!!
A father? Could I be a father? A son? A daughter?
(To be cont.........................)