The Irish Slaves & The Divide
Paperback - ISBN: 978-1491059760
Short and sweet, this is dedicated to my Irish roots - to the McMullins. From them came my great-grandfather, an Irishmen who defied his father and fell in love with their black maid and cook. He would not be dictated to about who would be his wife. Land, name, wealth and family reputation meant nothing to him compared to that woman, my great- grandmother - (One great more or less).
This novel is about that other part of me. One truth that is fact, there are two sides to every story. Things aren’t always as cut and dry as they may seem. Nothing in life is always one way!
Wise King Solomon - King David’s son… said it best, “There is no man having power over the spirit to restrain the spirit; neither is there any power of control in the day of death; nor is there any discharge in the war. And wickedness will provide no escape for those indulging in it. All this I have seen, and there was an applying of my heart to every work that has been done under the sun, during the time that man has dominated man to his injury.”
Ecclesiastes 8: 8 & 9…
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS & Credits
As a young girl while living on Southside, Chicago, going to Henderson Grammar School, 7th grade, Mrs. Washington’s history class, I would sit with a sarcastic smirk on my face, because I just knew her class was a waste of time. Basically said as much to her, “What is the past history gonna do for me?”
Well Mrs. Washington, YOU were right. Every single eloquent word you used to tell me off in your classy and wise way. Your words drive me now. Even my attitude back then. I remember and laugh and shake my head. Today, I am an author and my favorite genre is History. I love writing historical fact-fiction tales about our important past. I so wish I could see you, talk to you, make you laugh at how silly and immature I was. But look at me now.
History is as important to know, understand and learn as how to maneuver in this economic time period of life and credit.Make sure you take THAT class!
The other slaves, who were they? No, not “In-dios” or Indians. No, not Mexicans. While these were in truth used as slaves along with the aboriginal natives, the dark - black indigenous of the land. No not them either. In truth, who became the first slaves on this continent? If not those mentioned, who else is left? And how long were they slaves? What was it that caused the early discontinuation of them being in an, ie; slave state?
In answering the above questions - it should first be understood that before Europe landed upon the shores of this new land - before they pushed the Asian like natives and black tribes back to steal it as they bullied their way through, obliterating the nations - they tested and tried it out at home first.
Before they took over the Americas, before they journeyed to Africa to get more, the Irish - were the first raided, ripped apart suffering a genocide so vicious, is it any wonder that there is an IRA –(Irish Republican Army)- who HATE the English. Yes, in order to populate the plantations for man-power they took many and dropped them off in the West Indies, Barbados and other islands. Ireland was the training ground, the template that was perfected and then launched elsewhere once it proved to be somewhat, successful. As in the case with many Black aboriginal Americans, Africans, and Indians, the Irish suffered a great genocide at the hands of the English while growing their empire. They tore scores of families apart. Taking children from their mothers, and wives from their husbands. You see, they –(the English)- were threatened by the strong tribal structure in Ireland. As far as Oliver Cromwell could see, to enslave them offered a twofold solution to growing their fortuitous needs and making a success of it. With Cromwell believing the slander against the nation of clansmen, they brought the nation on the tiny island down from 1-1/2 million or more to a mere 600,000 or less within a 9 year period of time. This started with their children. Many of whom never made it to the new lands. They were brought low to animal status, demonized and categorized.
Teachers, priests, wealthy landowners, sons of some Irish elite, women, children, and yes - vagabonds, rebels, neutrals and felons were brought together and their numbers cut down. All done by either starvation, shipping them out, or slaughtered by the sword. Political needs and strategy became the right-a-way to destroy them. The disdain of the English, for the Irish led by Cromwell, was so strong for them that they were often treated worse than the black or African slaves which were later preferred and eventually replaced them.
In answer to the opening questions, the other slaves were supposedly indentured white servants primarily from Ireland.
In the mix, there were Scots and criminal Yorkshiremen. They became slaves by being rounded up and shipped off to the colonies as they were prosecuted for various crimes.
Thus, England was cleaning house, getting rid of their undesirables. Many ended up in Australia as well for said crimes. The gravity of the crime dictated if they were sent off or executed. Many who committed various crimes were told they were being sent off to serve out a sentence of indentured bondage. As in the case of highwaymen, robbers or rebels. The sentence was supposedly for 4 to 7 years in theory. What many did not know - is that they would barely survive the crossing, let alone the treatment at the hands of their gaolers, ship captains and ship crewmen. It was not until they were captured, and put through it, that they learned the truth of where they were being sent, and why. Additionally, they learned too late that their children had been sent to the exact same fate before them. Never had they imagined the brutality of canings and disfigurements they would now face as well death - and how some might survive.Saoirse is a “Fact-fiction” version of their historical genocide and enslavement at the hands of the British Empire when Oliver Cromwell took it from the royals. And, how the slaves, Irish, black, African and Asian-Indians were once united in a cause, ended up defeated by the art of division.
Late 17th Century - Ireland - 1645
“Maximilian Euan O’Shaughnessy - I hereby sentence you for repeated crimes of highway robbery. You are to serve seven years of indentured labor with the Virginia Company in the commonwealth of Virginia.” This dictate was repeated over and over by the magistrate court official towards Maximilian’s fellow criminals until all shackled in waiting had been sentenced. With his hands bound down by his sides, attached to one in front and behind - all were in sore need of a bath. Max stood wondering how he might escape this fate that seemed to be forced upon him. Yes, it was true that he was indeed guilty of said crimes. However despite the outcome he could find no means to regret what he’d done. His simmering hatred for the English left him with little choice. While he and his family had not suffered much financially, had in fact been considered wealthy and of good standing - many others suffered because they were left with little for survival. A great genocide was taking place throughout Ireland, and it would seem not one of them could halt it. He stood with not a repentant bone in his body. He struggled not to think of his Creator. As always, once he made a decision towards anything, he followed through, right or wrong – no matter what anyone else thought. Behind him, in the midst of those attending, watching - his mother wept, his father stood helpless - due to his guilt they could not pay him free. At the time of his decisions - his logic and reasoning led him to believe what he was about to do was right. At the time, it mattered not where it might lead. Such as, before the magistrate in chains. With the reading of his sentence he did not turn to glance at his weeping family. He didn’t need to see the misery he had caused them. Due to the culling taking place he was aware that he may never see them again. His younger brother had once looked to him for direction – even though Murtagh in truth was the wiser of the two. His tiny sister, so young – what would be her fate? There was also that chance once he was gone - more consequences for his actions would be heaped upon them. The Irish were in the middle of a storm of hate from the English. Any minor infraction was cause to dispatch one or an entire family. Yes, due to his actions this very well may be the last he ever saw of his family.
As he did not stand alone - in que with him were other men and a few women being sentenced that day. With them, he recognized a few familiar faces. While they spotted one another they knew not to openly show it. There was no justice for them - any small act might bring down a harsher chain reaction. As it was Max wondered if he even had the strength to acknowledge anyone else. Besides being dirtier than he’d ever been in his life, he was hungry. His guts griped and gnawed at him so sharply he was almost bent over from the pains. In the life that had been his, he had never suffered hunger. One would think that hunger was enough to make one eat what had been offered them, not so. The so called food they hurled their way was slop not fit for rats nor other vermin. They were too new to be tempted and reduced to taking in the fair. The loaves of bread had almost lured them until they spied the crawling black and red beetles munching within. Also in the loaves were many dead insects baked in. The sight of it turned the stomachs of the newer inmates, however the older ones dived in grabbing up the buns and tugging at the bowls of sludge to have at it.
Max stood wishing to scratch. His head felt as if it was crawling with all types of parasite. It was obvious that he was carrying about more than a few as another crawled beneath his shirt, down his back. Whatever it was took that moment to bite him. He wondered why? With his hands bound as they were he had no way of swatting to provoke the pest. Was he not tortured enough so that the insect must share in this bringing them down. Standing as he was on legs threatening to topple him, with others unsteady as well - he dare not move. None were allowed to sit in this test of endurance.
The turnkeys loved it. They seemed to receive some form of perverse pleasure watching them decline into the animal state they were kept. To those standing over them with whip and keys, they were all a scurrilous lot getting what they deserved. Any treatment of humanity was stripped away. Any valuables, such as jewels rightfully theirs, or costly garment pieces, any bit of value was quickly taken by the first turnkey. They were quick to grab for fear someone else might get it. None were willing to share - it was every gaoler for himself.
As for Max, they’d picked him dry of his jewels. He’d had a signet ring from his father, valuable - gold with emerald diadems. A stunning jacket of midnight blue satin and gold threads stitched upon it matched the under-vest over his shirt. The finest quality garbs would sell well for the one who took them off of him. Gone were his stockings as well his shoes. Yes, they’d picked him dry.
This was the first time he’d been before the courts and did wonder what would become of him. As time drew near for the end of their hearing, he felt a bit of regret spring to life. He would miss his little sister, she loved him so much. He, as the older brother was her favorite. Mainly because when at home, he treat her like a baby carrying her around everywhere. What would become of her now without him there? Yes, she more than anything made him regret. Would she – would his family suffer for his deeds? While he stood willing to take whatever punishment would be dealt him, they did not deserve what might come to them. Yet, he also knew it to be true that Cromwell’s army had begun their molestation of the Irish, via his orders. Only God knew how long it might carry on and to what extent it would go before ending. How long would it be before justice was weighed in their behalf? He supposed that he was better off than most, the alternative was the hangman’s noose. Some of a lesser crime had come to that end. It seemed they were being picked over. The heartier ones no matter the crime, were being sent off to labor away. Those of weaker or of a more frail constitution were dispatched without mercy.
With the proceedings finally over they were marched out. Each tried to remain in the single file while, yelled at or cracked across the back, shoulders or head if they held up their progress. He heard his mother call his name, sobbing her torment at having to watch her son suffer such an indignity. He wanted one last look at them, but restrained himself for fear of the whip. He heard a small sob, and then his name, “Max! Maaax!” The baby screamed his name, whimpering as she cried. His nickname for her, ‘beetle’.
His heart took off in pain, he could not look back. He could only wonder, what now? Of course as was the case with most - he’d heard many tales of the new land, where they were going. Rich, fertile, wide and long in expanse, land galore with endless possibilities if one could find their freedom there. Yes, something even now, Max was determined to be once more, free. The state he presently found himself in would be a temporary one. Many had gone before him - with a promise for better things to come. Just seven years. Others claimed, they should not believe it. Even so, for now - he was reminded of his current state. Another rolling, loud and deep growl from his vacant gut, was so pronounced those close-by heard. Growling as if mocking him for thinking there was any hope for him to come. He ignored it and concentrated on not giving into his quivering thigh muscles that were threatening to topple him. If he went down, others would go with him because of the way they were chained. He had to keep his mind on not letting his knees buckle, or his torso fold in on him. His hunger was trying to cut him in two. If he buckled it would require too much energy to get back up. With mincing steps, his mind chanted, 1, 2 - 1, 2 - 1, 2 - fo-o-orward, mo-o-oving, sta-a-ay up, do-not stop, do-not stumble, do-not falter, do-not crumble, 1, 2 - 1, 2 - 1, 2 - no hesitation, do-not break - mo-o-ove out, to your fate. Over and over he sang it within his mind - trying to keep his body upright and over the hunger pangs.
That day, his fate was back to the cold, damp dirty cells which were their temporary holding place. Passing through the doors, they’d almost made it back in when the man behind him pitched forward, sending him likewise domino effect into the next man. Max growled while grinding his teeth, it would be hell getting back to their feet. He wasn’t angry at the man behind, but this would cost them all.
“Bloody clumsy bunch o’bastids! Back t’yer feet! I’ah beat thee hide from ye’ - what’ye’doin’!” The gaoler bellowed, using his foot to kick the first that went down. Moving to the next he began swinging and cracking the whip to any exposed flesh. The next received a kick and a shove of his foot sending them down again. Max being one of them received the lash of the whip as well as a booted toe to the ribs. Others felt a strap across their backs along with him. One man was snatched to his knees by the thick dirty hair on his head, the gaoler leaning down spraying his face with spittle, “I say t’yer bleedin’ feet - get-it’done!”
With their ankles bound, he was demanding close to impossible. Finally, one man used the back of another to get to this feet, and then the next did the same until all six of them were standing once again.
“G’down agin, ye’ah be dragged off t’yer cell as I beat thee filth off ye’.” He threatened.
The ordeal of the return wore them out. Back at their cells, women in one - men in the other. This proved to be more torture all its own. Besides their not being a dry or clean place to sit - the one bench there was, was taken by a poor bleeder looking close to death. He was so weak, so frail of skin and bone, you had to watch him a moment to see if his bony chest rose and fell with breathing. Beneath the bench, rats boldly wandered to and fro - standing on their hind quarters to sniff at him as if they could smell his impending demise and wanted to be first to nibble. If not he, someone else would shout them off, throwing something to chase them away. Within the cell, the body odor and stench was stifling - making those who were newly added, gag from trying to bear it.
Max knew that he added to the stink stew. None of them had been bathed or allowed to clean themselves since their incarceration. Some had been there over a month, others fourteen days, and those with him, close to that length of time. He looked and smelled as badly as the others sharing the one cell. No decent meal, dodging loose excrement and urine and soon running out of places to do so.
They were kept worse than animals.
And, there were the ugly sounds to contend with.
The sound of the women’s cries in the night. Cries from being ill - cries from being raped by the turn-keys.
In the midst of such an existence - they were stripped of all humanity - stripped of being men. Max thought he would go insane. He was constantly reminded, over and over of all the reasons he hated the English within the very fiber of his being. They were not a human lot. How could they do such things to their fellow man? And so, he would never feel pains of remorse for them. It was a few hours in that he heard a gasp from one within the cell.
He looked toward the one making the noise and then in the direction he gestured with his head. The rats had climbed up and were nibbling at the poor sod on the bench.
He was gone, it was obvious. Max didn’t have the strength to chase them off once more. All he could do was look away.
The one pointing it out stated, “Aiy, th’lad be better’n th’rest uv’us fer sure, aiy.” Spoken with a thick Irish brogue.
Max sighed, in his mind, he agreed that he was indeed one of the fortunate ones. No more hunger, beatings and suffering for him. Glancing back at his dead body, Max never thought he would envy someone passing on. At that moment, he did. One of his fellow inmates shouted through the bars, “Theer’ra a deaden need carryin' fom’ere.”
Max sat watching, his ears ringing - seeing lights.
The gaoler came growling, rebuking him and then upon seeing that it was so, complained, “Yer’ah worthless lot, nawt worth a pence for thee bunch o’yeh!”
Max looked away - just a second ago he had been entertaining jealousy of the bloke stretched out growing cold. Now, following the gaolers words his mind returned to escape. Getting free of these common English. He couldn’t stand to look at them, hear them, their bleeding accent. He could think of no clan of people he hated more than them. Maybe when his stomach was once more full, and his people were not dropping at his side in this mass genocide, perhaps his despising them would lesson. Maybe when they were no longer starved to death - having their hard grown crops kept from them. Maybe when they were no longer found sitting and rotting at the very docks they were being shipped from for only God knew what awaited them. Yes, maybe at the end of all of that, but for now hate them he did. Buried deep and far in the back of his mind he knew that it was not all of the English, but that wasn’t where he wanted to be right now. For the moment, they were the cause of all that was going wrong with him and his people. All of them in power taking part in killing them - those were the ones he wanted to see die slow and painful. Even his own actions against them that landed him at present, was their fault.
They drew first blood. They planted these seeds of anguish and superiority that they somehow had the right to demean and enslave them. While he in truth had committed crimes against them, their children had not - but they were being shipped off to a life of slavery. At first, it was told and they believed they were being sent off to a better existence. They thought they were off to train as apprentices and then work. Yes, in hopes they might gain a place and experience to serve their future. Word, rumor nor truth can be stopped by an ocean. It had gotten back to them. Not only was that a lie told to make parents concerning their children believe it was for the best, but it was far worse than any might imagine.
Aiy, the English in power had no morals, scruples, empathy or compassion for anyone not of their peers. He had to mind his weakened state and keep the contempt for them from his eyes. They, the bleeding sassenach would see to it to kill them all - time was proving that to be true, that was the goal for them. Those not set up for death, would be slaves -(bond servants)-. Demeaned to accept their lower station in life. Positioned to serve those who decided they were greater.
Finally the cell was to be cleaned due to the death.
The overwhelming smell should have been enough, no - was not. Now once more they must dig deep into a strength lacking in order to come to their feet. Some could not and thus crawled on hands and knees. Being in such a state caused them to get a kick and a shout, “Get t’yer feet ye’louse.” With the aid of others, they barely did so to the sound of more degrading words spat their way. Being held by others kept the weak from tumbling, as the gaoler shoved them to get them moving faster. Out in the courtyard they sucked in the fresh air that blew in from the sea. Once they made it center court - shocking them were buckets after buckets of cold water tossed on them. No soap or sponge to clean the oily soot and grime clinging despite the splashing. They were simply cold, shivering and soaked, a few including Max, used the water to wipe their skin clear. However, now wet, the breezes from the salty sea forced them to bunch close for any source of heat there might be.
They were left outside, while inside the women prisoners with strength enough to get it done, cleaned and scoured the cells. Few barely stayed on their feet and thus were among those huddled for heat. This cleaning did not take place often. Perhaps once or twice per batch. Mainly when the human cargo began dying off and the ammonia smells mixed with feces reached the noses of those in charge. It was at that point that the magistrate would complain of the horrendous conditions shouting that it be cleaned away.
As for Max, he could care less why they were out in the courtyard being drowned. What mattered most is that he could actually draw deep breaths. Yes, he shivered, stank, but whatever was biting him got washed away, that alone was worth it. He had a longing that they would take every one of their garments from them, but no, they were to remain. After a few hours of sitting in the cold - some were overcome and began laying down - hypothermia taking over. Even the toss of more stale bread, boiled gruel did not tempt them. To his shame, for once - Max dove for it. He fought for the bread, tearing into a loaf devouring it like an animal. Also, scooping into his hands lumps of the gruel that was basically broken and under cooked potatoes, shoving that in as well. Many of them were so thirsty and desperate they lay on their bellies lapping at the filthy puddles around them like dogs.
The gaolers stood watching, laughing, and pointing as they made sport by urinating down on a few as they lay. Soon as those belly down realized what was happening, they rolled away in disgust, gagging and gypping in revulsion. “Aiy, there be a bit more f’yer t’drink!” This comment brought about more ribald laughter.
Max sat thinking there was no greater hell - wondering could it possibly get worse as he heard a secret companion mutter low, “Aiy, th’blighters - I pray t’stay livin’ long enuf t’get’em fer this. Aiy, th’day’ll come - thee’ll be nae escapin’ it t’be-sure.” Anlon was speaking. He could speak the local slang or like that of a gentleman if among the gentry. He could dupe the officials or the elite taking on their manner so easily it was like breathing air. He was an excellent mimic. No one could play the role of lord, earl or baron like him, missing only the purse and garments.
“Aiy, I’ve long given up such thoughts fer now. Me thoughts are fer yonder open gate.” Max spoke finally, choosing as well the easier slang. Yes, he too could speak better, was educated, but little good it did him then. He sat now wiping his mouth of the ripe gruel and bread - resisting the need to vomit it back out. The two men sat back to back against a tether pole between them for support.
“Aiy, know that I’d quickly follow, fer sure.” Anlon agreed.
“Aw look it, lucky lass.” Max muttered.
“Who now?” Anlon asked.
“Th’might wee lass they brung afta’ been at’her th’night long. She succumb. Peace b’with’er now.”
Both men watched as one of the turn-keys nudged her with his booted foot, yelling obscenities for her to get up. No chance of that happening considering she’d been lying in that position with her dead eyes staring into the promise land. To be sure, the turn-key gave her a sound kick to the ribs, thinking she might be faking. He turned yelling for her to be carried off.
Both men sat motionless, quiet now, occasionally giving in to the need to shiver from the cold, their teeth chattering. The fog was moving in, both wondering when they’d be allowed back to their cells. All of a sudden, Max saw a stark darkness, so dark he felt himself surrounded by night. Next he heard laughter. Joyful, girlish giggles - a sound so out of place considering where he was. And then, out of the darkness - bright eyes and a white toothy smile so infectious it made him smile. She reached out cooing and calming him. Her sweet tiny voice like that of a child, yet - a woman, “Shhhh - shhh, is betta yeah? Is betta…”
“I said ge’t’yer bleedin’ feet - move it!” He was kicked while being bellowed at with spit flying from the offensive mouth. Shaking his head he attempted to snap out of it. He realized he’d fallen asleep - dozed off with the cold lulling them to the land of eternal peace.
Not this day.
More yelling sounded out around them, cursing the day God decided to make such a blight on England as the Irish. There was no doubt the English hated them as much as he hated them with all the abuse they dished out. Whether they could walk or not, stand or not - it was get to their feet or feel the whip. They, those that still could, struggled to their feet once more. Moving now in a new direction - it seemed they weren’t going back to the cell. Some with sodden wood clogs on their feet, hemp now chafing their ankles instead of chains - they minced carefully all ninety men and women through town towards the docks. In their departure they noticed that four more passed on and wondered how many would survive by the time they reached journey’s end. It was before the crack of dawn, seagulls were flying about searching for scraps. At the docks now they were led up the gangplank, careful not to slip. If just one went over the side of the narrow walk, it would pull the others in. They made it aboard, the fear of landing in the frigid waters gave them extra powers of stability.
After there was an inventory done of the livestock, they were attached by fours. In the bowels of the ship, each would have to endure the long crossing to the new land where they would serve out their sentence. The ship did not immediately set sail, two lots more were shuffled aboard. The new group of 40 more men and women, the other of 56 of the same, a few children with them. Hours along, they got underway. Before they reached the shores of their new home, more were lost. They started out with 42 women altogether of the three lots. When they reached land, there were only 18. Their number more than cut in half. Not all the women “died”, some were helped along by a means no human should suffer. True to the saying, only the strong survived, only the strong did. So many survived being sick at sea. Survived the lash of the whip - brought on by whatever whim the captain had due to drink or boredom. Indeed, the women were tortured and raped to entertain him and his crew.
Upon landing, more horror, they must face an auction. The good of it, the climate was better than the cold they left. They were unaware of the intense heat that would come in shifts of seasons. For the moment they were washed and given clean clothing. Nothing of worthy mention, but the filthy rags were gone due to the auction. They would have stripped them bare if not for showing the outline of their skeletal build. Those purchasing them didn’t even ask to see them to the skin. They all knew the state of the Irish. Because they came so cheaply and had survived this far, it was enough. In conclusion, they were purchased and divided up to go with their new owners.
Anlon and Max turned to get one last look at each other, promising that they would come together again. In the journey, they had grown even closer in their bonding. Both promised if they would survive this… they would escape it or die trying.
New Life Begins - Virginia
Robinson Tobacco Plantation
Lil’Pheybey, most all called her, dark as night - quick as they come - little as in the title of her name was on a mission. Miss Suzie had her collecting and gathering a fresh basket of healing herbs and berries to be used in poultices to treat the wounds of the newcomers.
The new slaves had arrived.
There were places where she squatted to pick and from there she could easily hear them. The sounds of their screams cut right through her, drowning out the low sounds of song often going on in her mind. Easing from time to time, gently, softly from her full lips. It wasn’t often others heard her eerie siren songs. To hear such melodies from her, it would not seem she was human with such pitch in frequencies she could reach. Her modulation came natural to her. She could go low and smooth, or high as the highest tree tops it would seem in one breath - under her full control. Something of her vocals seemed un-natural to others that she could do such things from her throat and mouth. There were times when she might be unsettled within herself, that she let such mesmerizing humming loose. Those nearby found themselves paused and still, as if frozen to be sure of what they were hearing. Her voice touched every nerve ending that sent goose bumps upon their skin, raising the hair on their necks. If they believed in witches, they would surely consider her one, as she enraptured and captured all who heard the sounds she could bring forth. However, this day, the only sounds being heard were the screams from those being marked with the branding iron for RTP.
There was no way of getting away from it, they were trapped in the corral until it was their turn. Temporarily imprisoned to await the branding, the shearing and the washing. Those that watched, the black, Indian and mix of the same with Irish already blended within, all slaves - grew goose bumps watching it, hearing them. And, because most of them who watched were colored in dark hues, there was no need to brand them. Their non-white skin said loud and clear that they were un-free and thus slaves if they ran and were captured. But the Irish because of their white skin had to be branded to keep them from being lost in a crowd. They had to be marked as such. As bad as it was to be branded, those at Master Robinson’s plantation were more fortunate than others. He didn’t like his slaves branded on the face like many were done elsewhere. He directed that his be scorch scarred on the back of the neck and have their hair cropped short, even the women. Only special privilege made it so that a woman could grow her hair long to be pinned up. That privilege entailed her being in the house and in Master Robinson’s bed. For most of them, that was not often.
In either case, hearing their cries of agony spurred Pheybey on. She’d always been fastidious and particular in all that she did. No one could ever accuse her of dragging her feet. For one so young, sixteen summers along she almost preempted what was needed and when. Often she would see to what was needed before a command by Miss Suzie was given. Such as what she was doing right then, gathering herbs. The new slaves would be in a world of hurt. No time could she spare as they had arrived already in a weakened state. Miss Suzie kept telling Master Robinson he should wait before branding them - give them time to get strong. Such advice fell on deaf ears. He wanted them marked right away so there was no chance of them slipping off if they got on their feet and took a notion to escaping before the branding.
They were Irish, if they died from it, they died. There were more coming in. After all, it wasn’t like they were worth anything.
As it was, Master Robinson saw them more as breeding stock. They were limited in the work they could do, which to him meant they were useless otherwise. So he used them to breed more slaves with the blacks and Indians of the land that he now used. They made for better slaves because they were stronger, could endure the blazing sun, and the long hours in the fields. What he learned as the other masters learned, that by mixing the Irish with them it was not a total waste to have them. They got decent looking stock from the mix. Strong, vibrant and even pretty slaves in terms of what they considered good looks from some of the men and women. Finally, they’d found a good use for the Irish bond servants. That’s what some had been told, that they were held by a bond for a period of time.
What an inside joke that turned out to be.
Only a few left England as genuine bond servants to serve out a seven year sentence. Even they were used for breeding purposes, or else would see themselves suddenly re-categorized as, “Slaves” with no way out. Their status quo suddenly altered for good. Afraid of that ending, they conformed. They were aware that the majority of their fellow Irish arrived as full blown slaves. It didn’t matter where they were going, Virginia, the Carolinas or Barbados. The plantations needed free manpower to make a profit and grow the business quickly. Best labor was slave laborers. Breeding them, saved them money down the road. Allowed them to raise their offspring as slaves reconditioning them for their lot in life right from infancy. Instilling in them their place, their primary purpose for being alive. In the Irish coffle that arrived, not all were weak, there were the occasional thriving strand among the men. When they spotted them, they were quick to breed them with their strongest black and sturdy wenches. Some by force. Those men who would not and they were few - were motivated by the examples set while watching the torture and killing of a few rebels. It was a known fact they would kill an Irish without blinking. Due to many of them accepting that, it only took one or two examples of how those that would not conform faired to motivate those that needed waking up.
The offspring or gets from Black/Irish breeding were strong, potent and valuable. It went without saying that all types who were dark got used. At times captured, enslaved and brought up from the south, lowland Mexican peasants were tossed in and used in the blends if it was so desired. In either case they fetched a good price. Same applied for the strong Irishwomen that arrived. Seldom were they allowed to breed with their own, no one paid good money for a full blood Irish no matter how cheap they came - unless that is they were extraordinarily beautiful and going in the house as a serving girl, man server or the like.
With the new lot just arrived, it was too early to tell what he’d bid on. Despite the half attempt to clean them up, they were still dirty with an odor, skin and bone, and weak as babes. If that were not bad enough a few were diseased. Master Robinson depended on Miss Suzie to bring them through it, cure them if they survived the branding. Yes, they had that to survive because often the branding sent them over the edge. Subsequently, Master Robinson knew if they survived from that point, they were of good stock. That test of endurance assured them a life of hard work while being bred. It didn’t matter that he was there to grow Tobacco, which was the main function of that plantation.
The crops they grew were sent back to England to Lord Leonard Harold Bakersfield. The plantation in truth belonged to him. With his inheritance he jumped on board with many others who invested in holdings in the new colonies where they grew hemp, cotton and tobacco. Once it was picked, packed and shipped - they stood to gain much in the markets. This was how many of the English elite gained their wealth. They gained it in profiting from slave labor. Enlisting those whom they deemed beneath them to grow, cultivate and pick. Sending their various overseers who had once collected taxes, rent and other fees from their land dwellers upon the estates to the colonies to run the plantations in their place.
Thus - Master Robinson was one such overseer who’d come to the colonies long ago. Like many others, they used breeding the slaves and selling them to line their own pockets with extra. They, the many along with Master Robinson, knew as long as they sent off the shipments of weighed in hemp, cotton and tobacco - there was no one to police them, or stop them for their deeds of breeding. Doing this would eventually gain them their own independence and freedom. The money they made by showing off what selective breeding could make was a past-time that worked to fatten their purses, and keep them in laborers. Few gave a conscience thought against using their fellow man like cattle, horses or dogs.
Breeding of men, was in - they considered themselves good at it. The English considered it good sense using those they deemed as wasted humanity to generate free manpower.
The mixed children were looked over and picked for future sales once they were weaned from their mamas. In fact, it wasn’t a long wait for one such child selected for that purchase – he would fetch such a coin. His name was Keir. He was about to be weaned. He was the most unique to be born of the Irish-Black mix so far there at RTP. His mama was Irish, his father a black native. Keir had silky straight golden blond hair like his mama and blue eyes, but he was strong as a young bull and of all things, dark black skin like his sire. When buyers came and saw him, they went nuts over him - never having seen such a combination before. The bidding went high for him. Not quite 18 months he had an exuberance and energy that many knew he would grow into something to behold as a young boy, young man and finally a stud for more slaves. He was already handsome beyond words of description. His father was a thick and strong muscled beast assuring that Keir would be that. Like his father, dark skin with his mother’s hair and eyes. Yes, he was the talk of all. He was the first born of his mother, Ailbe and his father, Betak. Master Robinson had plans to breed them often in hopes of getting more like Keir to sell. He was hoping for a few girls with those looks - black skin, straight blond hair and blue eyes - yes, they would sell.
Keir would be expensive to buy because Master Robinson was selling him as a future stud. Meaning, out of that one child, he was planning to get back what he spent for the last three Irish and Black coffle bought.
As for Pheybey, thinking of that day when Keir was sold made her shiver in dread. Ailbe his mother, loved her Keir with something fierce. She had a feeling somebody was going to die that day before they took that baby from her. She was strong, Ailbe was. Big boned and solid - of good stock. That’s what Master Robinson had said. Pheybey believed it to be so. Miss Suzie agreed too. One thing Master Robinson didn’t know about Ailbe - and that was, she was a bit crazy from all she’d gone through coming there from Ireland. She was desperately clingy about her Keir - protective to hold on to him. Pheybey did not wish to be around to see the day of separation. She knew what was to come for him and there was already murmurings that Ailbe was planning to flee. Betak knew it - but would not chance it to run with her. If ever he were to run, it would be back to his original family. But he prayed Ailbe would make it out with his first boy child as a slave. His others he prayed were still free, free among a distant tribe. He’d given himself up to give his family time to run off. He’d rather they go through the entry trial of what a tribe would require to be among them, than this fate as a slave.
Now - here was another child of his, and his mother was a fierce woman. Yes, God help them if they took Keir from her.
Betak wanted her to get away with him. To aid her he planned to help to that end. Again, he would stay behind hoping that sacrificing himself might gain their freedom.
Just as most of the others knew, Pheybey would help Ailbe if Miss Suzie asked her. The reason that she could was because Pheybey was hiding in plain sight. Pheybey was free, not yet among the captured.
Bringing back her senses was another scream of the branding. She did her utmost to stay out of sight of Master Robinson and his overseers. She paused at the base of a tree near the corral watching. Her eyes were round with pity in her small heart shaped face. She watched in horror as one of the new ones fought against his fate. She usually stayed clear of the area, but she was trying to get Miss Suzie’s attention. No way would she walk to her, or call out to her. She’d done a good job of moving about the plantation like a ghost, one that was truly dark as could be. Even so, it was her quiet speed and secret presence that kept her from capture. That kept her from being bred - so far. Ever aware of those around her, she veiled her eyes from the naked group. They’d all been stripped down, men and women - leaving none their dignity. To enslave meant doing all possible to shame, demean and dog them. Once branded, they’d be drenched in water to be washed there as well.
Those watching dreaded the outcome for the one fighting. They yelled out, “Don’ fight na’!” It was mostly the black slaves calling out one after another. Most of them that were allowed to watch, sat around the corral rail, or up high in one of the trees, including the one she hid behind. In low voices various ones pointed out which might live, which might die, shaking their heads in pity. Their faces wincing and frowning, while some closed their eyes in anticipation and dread of the moment the red hot glowing iron was pressed against the skin of their necks. Then came the sharp heart wrenching scream! Even behind that they could hear the sizzle and hiss on the sweaty skin, forcing the permanent brand of the RTP sideways up and down the length.
“Don’fight, don’fight - ain’t gon’hep’yah naw.” They tried to warn that one with fight still left in him. He wasn’t listening, too busy thrashing about, trying to push away. In vain he tried to keep them from dragging him to the red hot coals and iron. He was still many feet away and yet the heat was emanating from it to meet him. He growled and gnashed about something fierce, tears of anger and aggression gathering to spike his lashes, rolling from the outer corners of his eyes. His white skin red and bruising from the harsh handling.
“Jus’get ova’wit!” Those scared for him kept shouting.
Pheybey could hear him grunting and growling. She couldn’t help herself. Shy and cautious she glanced up from hooded eyes to see this new one, the fighter. She could not believe his spirit, his power. Under the conditions they arrived in, where was he finding this fight, she could not help but wonder. The overseers made sport of him, laughing, poking him with sticks, pulling on the rope that held his wrist bound. He was tall, and skinny now from lack of food. They were calling him names, ugly cruel names. Pheybey could not believe how vicious one group of white men could be to another. Few of the black slaves understood this extreme hatred between two clans of the pale skins. To see it, made them dread those who dodged the sun. All reasoned, there would be no mercy for them if they got out of line when these men would do their own so badly. They didn’t understand the social classing and divisions that was in place in England between the English, Irish, Yorkshiremen and Scots. Worse for sure against the Irish. They knew nothing of the royals, of Oliver Cromwell and his derision for the Irish.
Pheybey knew the history of the tribes she’d come from and their battles. It was true, the tribesmen from this land – especially those looking more like the Asian adventurers who had come to their land long ago and bred with the dark natives and left. Behind them now, many of their offspring were of themselves a new tribe. They bred within themselves and spread across the continent like wild fire. Dark still, but straight course hair – slanted narrower eyes, high cheek bones. They, now, did battle for dominance trying to claim most of the land for themselves. For certain there were many battles among them, more so now than ever. It simply was the curse of new men to a new land. Yes many died because of that. Yet, for the most part, it was competition over the lands and hunting grounds. It was not about class, but about might, speed, Ability and wisdom in their competitions against one another. Their battles centered on domain claims and respect. Should there be one among them or other tribes that crossed the line - death at times was the price that was paid, indeed it happened. They stole women from various tribes as well to add new blood, to add strength and give a show of might and dominance. Yet, in all of the madness of it, there was also respect and a code they lived by.
For the most part, once upon a time ago, their land had been a land of peace.
This, however was different - more extreme in her eyes, evil in fact.
With dread, Pheybey knew Miss Suzie’s words were true, for this land… “No peace, no more, no day, no night.”
“Down ya’Irish dog! To yer’knees!” was yelled at him, as they fought to bend him over the stump used to support them. He was muddy, and making them the same because of the water thrown down from the others. When brought to the stump, their chests were pressed into the un-giving surface with their heads partially hung over. The handlers forced it into a carved out and smoothed notch where hundreds of throats had made it so. One man knelt opposite to headlock and hold each victim, choking them at times. To assist, others held their body’s still and the iron was pressed quickly to the back of their necks.
This man was taking a beating and wearing the overseers out as well. He was stronger than he looked. Because it had taken so many to subdue a starving slave, they made him pay. Viciously kicking, punching, and wrestling him into place. They were all breathing hard.
“E’ah right stubborn bastid! Aiy, ‘e got fight.” Master Robinson admired, “Miss Suzie!” He shouted to her.
Her reply was prompt, “Yessa’ Masta’ Rob’son?”
“Ye’be sure’e live. Will be breedin‘im soon as ‘e’a’foot - that is, we don‘ave t’kill’im first.” He contemplated lastly, his accent that of the lower class English. Watching this man, he knew the type. If it came to having to kill him, he wanted to get at least two if not three pups from him. He’d be happy with one male get that he’d bring up to breed further and then he could kill this sire off. All he wanted was his money back that he paid for him and yes some profit.
In answer to Master Robinson, “Got sweet’potata fo’days t’feed’em yeah, all set.” She informed him. Miss Suzie always fed the new slaves sweet potatoes. Nothing else revived their strength and appetite like baked sweet potatoes. She’d have them eat that for a few days, and then add all types of greens. Once they were holding those foods down, wild mushrooms, eggs, raccoon, peasant and catfish as well would be added. Last to be thrown in was her corn-pone. Within no time, they’d put weight back on and see a return of their strength. Master Robinson would oversee it saying, “Get’em fit fer breedin’” And that Miss Suzie did.
Finally, they got him.
His sweat, hit by the hot iron caused a loud hiss and sizzle to be heard. He wailed in a mighty cry that sent shivers through Pheybey. Turning away she had seen enough. There were things to be done. She would speak with Miss Suzie in a bit. Dashing off she discreetly got all in place needed at each cabin they’d go to. She was not alone, there were others who would help. There were two more to go after the tall fighter. Once those were done, they’d all be washed down with lye soap, scrubbed good. Men scrubbing the men. Women scrubbing and cleaning the women. In the midst of it, the hair on their heads would be shorn off, some of them were known to carry lice and such. Once they were squeaky clean, sick, weak and in agonizing burning pain - they’d be brought to their resting place to recoup. Men and women all piled in one wagon. It would stop and they’d be taken off and led to their cots where they would recover or die. Miss Suzie had a pretty good record, but wished she could save more. Few would die if she could get more water down them. How they were injured was the main cause of the problem.
Inside the cabins, black and white slaves apart of the routine would take over knowing what to do for them. They had to dress them in the easy-garments. They were called easy garments because they were eased on them and if they died, eased off. For men, the easies were pulled up like loose britches mainly to give them decency. Women, a short chemise. In truth a loose sack cloth pullover to mid-thigh. When Master Robinson chose one to breed, that’s all she was allowed to wear while he ordered her to be covered by his chosen stud. Miss Suzie always warned Pheybey when it was breeding time. She made sure to stay out of sight.
At the moment, she rushed to each cabin placing the easies for the men on the cots where the new ones would go. And then to the women’s placing those as well. The slaves who shared the cabins with them, brought in a platter of the potatoes. They were warm, split open and laden with butter and cinnamon bark ground down fine. It was such a good taste most all devoured it from being starved for so long. Miss Suzie would feed them on it until they had enough. Plus, it filled them up fast. Master Robinson allowed it because it grew plentiful - so much so they were overrun with them.
Pheybey was done just in time to hear the buckboard coming to drop them off. Naked and clean, they lay trembling from shock and moaning in agony - their skin on fire still from the branding. By the time the wagon reached the cabins, Pheybey was gone. She was back at Miss Suzie’s cabin collecting and separating what was needed for the poultices. Quick about it, she gathered the rags and packs ready to help calm the burning pain. Plus doing the mix that would burn in the room to ease the pain and help them sleep. The greenish brown herb had been used for as long as Pheybey could remember by the natives of her tribe and others. It could be smoked to ease pain and put one to sleep, and was used by the women during child bearing. It grew in plenty and was used for everything one could imagine. Once adjusted to the smell of it, the uses for food, medicine, baskets, rope and building were endless.
Knowing her as she did, Miss Suzie stood outside of her own cabin and called out for Pheybey, “Com’ chile, time fo’treaten’em. Is jus’us naw, yeah.” Once the deeds were done, everyone scattered back to whatever their work was, leaving them to Miss Suzie. Trusting and obedient to her, out Pheybey came carrying all that would be needed. They went from one cabin to the next, sticking to their routine as they saw to the women first. They would be at ready most of the night in case they were needed to sit with the really bad off ones. Miss Suzie tried asking Master Robinson for an infirmary - he wouldn’t hear of it, he considered it a waste of space. So the two of them simply had to move from one cabin to the next if that’s what the night or day called for. It was mostly like this when the Irish were brought in. They were often badly battered, sick and starved. As for the natives, they were always in better shape. If treatment of them was needed, the primary cause came from being whipped, forced to conform, or occasionally one might be injured due to fighting. However never for being starved, diseased and barely standing like the Irish. Miss Suzie had explained to Pheybey and some others that it was because the Irish or red legs, -(another name for them)- were brought from a long distance across the great waters. She said she heard talk of them starting to bring in some from a land called Africa, many would arrive like the Irish had.
Pheybey and those of the colonies couldn’t remember much about Africa. Their ancestors having left there thousands of years before, thus – they’d been on this continent all of their lives. The aboriginal tribes or natives of America was vast and varied. While they were all dark, they stood out by the type of hair on their heads. Some now had bone straight hair because of the Asian influence and others had curly hair. The aboriginal tribe Pheybey and Miss Suzie and others had come from had hair that stood out and around their heads like great clouds of dark brown or black cotton. They were often captured along with other “In-dios” as they were all called and shipped off to islands like Barbados and the West Indies. Miss Suzie warned Pheybey, it was only a matter of time before she too was caught up in it. More times than Miss Suzie could count, she’d tried to get Pheybey to run off and join up with one of the tribes still wandering free. But Pheybey would not be shook from the side of the few that were now slaves at RTP. She moved about the out skirts of Robinson plantation because that’s where Betak and Miss Suzie had been taken.
She hid in the woods at night in her own little wigwam shelter. The camouflage of it hid her well. With a morning routine left from the days when she was with her tribe, majority gone from the slaughter - she carried on. Twice already, she’d lost her dwelling place thanks to various native men that discovered it. They would find her small dwelling, ransacking it, tearing it apart. When it happened, she would crawl beneath the cabins making a bed for herself there until she found another good spot in the woods. She had a new spot now, deep in the midst of a blackberry vine grove. The location was perfect, dryer than most due to sitting so high on an area that undulated unevenly with highs and lows. Even better, it was covered with thorny blackberry vines. She’d had to chase the rabbits from it, and killed a badger for it. However, few natives would bother with it because of the thorns, and it was well hidden. Even she at first had to slide in on her back, using two long staffs along the length of her small body to push the opening wide. In setting it up, she’d suffered more than a few pricks and scratches. Putting time into it, the way in and out was much better now. Within, she’d dug a bowl like crevice to settle in, slowly building a frame beneath the vines. Weaving twigs, vines and saplings tightly. At the very lowest point of the bowl, she’d made four holes lined with native bamboo shoots opposite each. She drove them all the way out to a slanting downward pitch, with smooth stones from the river to secure them. Those shoots angled and led out, exiting the mound so that rain drained away immediately. Any that might come in that is.
Perched above the holes were double shelves of saplings weaved. Between them, pebbles and straw. On top, layers of skins and hides to soften her bed. It was a perfect hideaway. She’d put much careful thought, time, and consideration into finding it and preparing it. From outside, it looked like an overgrowth of blackberry vines. They grew so high and vast, few wanted to bother. It was also surrounded by brush, ferns and weeds too thick to get through and left to nature. She’d taken a lot of time as well burning and killing the spiders and webs throughout it. Everyday coming out she courted danger. But she looked forward to giving Miss Suzie aid. She took pride in her little-go-for-this, and go-for-that journeys mixing what was needed. The tribes called her Pe’hor and for good reason. She was a busy worker who crept about the plantation watching all - learning much, and dreading the life that the remaining few of her tribesmen must endure, such as Miss Suzie, Betak, and others. Almost all of the men had been killed off, and some of the women for fighting back. Leftover were some along with the children, who were now enslaved. There was a remnant of them about still free, hiding out as she did, not far - remaining in the area they knew. They too helped many to freedom, like Dababa. He was also a busy one, still free, for now.
What had been done in Ireland to men, women and children, was being done on the vast continent of the new colonies, soon to be called America. According to Miss Suzie, the place she heard them speak of called Africa was getting it as well.
The British were moving across the land like a deadly cancer. A plague of locust for which there was no stopping. Leaving death, devastation, and desolation in its wake. Destroying one culture and clan after another. A great white evil disease for which there was no way of blocking, burning or battling it. It was steadily coming their way. They moved in to massacre, steal and conquer, and then stake their claim.
Yes, Pheybey knew that she was no doubt on borrowed time - one of these days her venturing in to be with Miss Suzie might get her caught up with the rest. For now, she had nowhere to go. And, like a mouse, she ran in and out doing what she could to dwell among them hoping not to get snared in the trap. She wouldn’t worry about that, there was work to do. She blended in well because Miss Suzie had cloths for her to wear when she was running about for her. If she wasn’t on the plantation with Miss Suzie, she was about in her tribal wear, partially covered, blending in with nature around her. Her thick head of hair, when left wild - stood around her head large, dropping to her shoulders and further. It was coal black and heavy with silky curls small enough to tangle if she did not twist it. Majority of the time, twisted Bantu knots about her head was how she kept it. Leaving her hair loose was an inconvenience as it often got caught in the vines, branches and such when she was about hunting or fishing. She was a lone girl - valuable not only to the possibilities of Master Robinson, but also to tribes that always brought in strays for new blood. Pheybey was one not first chosen in her tribe because of the extreme darkness of her skin. Her now almost extinct tribesmen often referred to her as mud-girl because she was so very dark.
She was little as well.
Her high level of energy and productiveness also aligned her to being dubbed the name referring to the black ant - Peque-hormiga-Negra or for short, Pe’hor - Little Black Ant. It was Miss Suzie who gave her the name, Lil’Pheybey. Dubbed so after another slave she came to know and love, who was also black as the night - named Pheybey by Master Robinson. That Pheybey hadn’t been little, she stood tall, strong and mighty of spirit. From a tribe of natives that were all statuesque. That entire clan had been wiped out by disease except for a few women who survived and were used for breeding. That Pheybey had fought so they ended up having to kill her because she would not be cowed. Would not bend, would not breed, and would not conform. She’d died dignified and proud. Her head held high until it fell back in death.
Miss Suzie had loved her, and gave Pe’hor the new name Lil’Pheybey instead of Little-Black-Ant. Miss Suzie always thought Pheybey had the most beautiful black face she had ever seen. That her bright eyes and bright smile could mesmerize anyone who gave her long enough attention to see it was so. Her skin was luminous, smooth and dewy soft. Even toned and satiny. Last, that voice that came from within her. It was not often that one was blessed to hear it, because when you did… it interfered in the work at hand. Stopping you from all you did just to give it a listen in amazement. Wondering where it could be coming from, then stunned that it came from Pheybey.
Pheybey shook away her day dreams and flashbacks. She needed to focus on the weak and injured and so kept working along with Miss Suzie tirelessly through the evening and night. Not one complaint or whine because as far as she could see, it had to be done one way or the other. Might as well see to it quickly and then move on to the next. Because of the head count, this was going to be a busy night. At the auction Master Robinson bought five Irishmen and three Irish women. All of them put in separate cabins where they would work on them until they were on their feet. Once it was noted who survived, Master Robinson would decide what would be done with them, and which would be used for breeding. He strictly controlled that, and could be fierce about - as he called it - randy bucks getting to his virgins. His aim was to be rich in his own right by practicing selective breeding. The only time he allowed mating was for his own financial gain. The pairings were according to his calculations in what might come from the careful breeding. Were he to find that a male had taken the virginity of his females without his say-so, it meant trouble. If she ended up knocked - he would fly into such a rage because that would mean a possible waste if the child born didn’t look the part for sales. As low as he treated them, he didn’t take kindly to just killing off the gets - he did have a bit of a conscience - though not much of one. Also, there was the matter of him using the virgins to barter for favors from his political acquaintances. The guilty male ruining that could prepare for a beating, and the severity of it depended on the one he’d ruined.
Master Robinson loved treating his men guest to a fresh young virgin were they staying the night. He always kept three or more for just that. Most of the time if they were well pleased, it meant them buying her for the right price of course. Master Robinson didn’t care what happened to her once the price was paid, but in the meantime hands off. If not bought and left behind, he always hoped she was left with a child. At one time he had a few unscrupulous guest complaining that one or two hadn’t been a virgin. If it were so, she had better say who took it or she would be beat. But it was later discovered the guest had lied. To avoid that from happening again Master Robinson would check for himself to make sure before she was sent up. The majority of the time when he was breeding it was to put the Irish women with his strong black men slaves. He’d determined that that mix turned out a better breed when the father was black and assured a constant blood line for those fit for the fields. When he used a white Irish male, he was looking for lighter skin breeds in particular for house workers or fancies. In both cases, it was possible to get good field or house slaves - it all depended. Thing was he had his system the way he liked it. No one was allowed to jeopardize it, especially the slaves whose lives he had in his hands. Their young more often than not was what many preferred from the mixes he produced. They fetched the highest price, like that little Keir - which would be the best sale yet, he couldn’t wait to wean him and then the auction could begin. He fantasized about how high the bidding could go. He could clearly see a well hefty purse for the sale of him. Then his new owner could take him directly following the sale.
Being a witness to all the goings on of what it meant to be a slave, Pheybey wanted no part of it. Miss Suzie warned her over and over trying to shoo her off to find a mate in the tribes. Pheybey didn’t want to be mated with anyone. That’s what she could look forward to if she did go. She would be chosen as a third wife to possibly be mistreated, beat on or scarred if she was not liked by the wives. Besides that, she never wanted to mate, as far as she knew, had heard and the little that she saw, it was a dirty, painful ordeal for the female. It didn’t look right to her. She was told it hurt when the man had you and again when the baby came out. Nope, she just as soon keep right on doing what she did. She had lived sixteen summers, that’s what Miss Suzie had said about her. She would know, she helped her mother bring her into the world. From the time of being a little one she had always been attached to Miss Suzie, one of the reasons she clung to her now.
What she was resigned to as well, was the way the world seem to be going, nothing was a sure thing anymore. Therefore, she might as well go on and take her chances following Miss Suzie until she was forced to go one way or the another. Putting all thoughts aside, she sat with Miss Suzie with the herbs ready to use. The tallow was melting; the smell of which could be picked up ten cabins away, battling with the skunk smell of the burning buds and leaves to soothe, calm, and relax the newcomers. The odors mixing left a lot to be desired, but it reminded all that Miss Suzie was working her healing on the new. The herbs worked with dark rum which help to numb them. It served two ways. Mixed with the various herbs for the poultices, and to drink. Only a couple of women fought against the taste of it, whereas the men welcomed it. Poultices had to be made and applied which kept Pheybey sitting with the heavy mortar stone and pestle between her thighs. It was her job to get it all ground for each new batch. Twisting the fresh leaves, pinching off flower buds, dropping in berries, seeds and spores or dried mushrooms. Using the pestle she forced and extracted the important essence and juices, combining what was needed for medicine. Miss Suzie glanced her way, “Hurr’up, i’s gone be a long nigh’ yeah.”
Pheybey nodded, “I do Miss Suzie.” And did not miss a beat. Once it was the consistency Miss Suzie needed, the dark rum and tallow was added. This would be done in each of the cabins where the new and injured lie awaiting their turn. The women always came first, it was rare that one or all didn’t faint from the pain they were in. Already the smoke from the herb with the added shot of rum had them relaxed and dozing once Miss Suzie was done with them. Problem was, it wasn’t unusual for one or more to fall asleep and never wake again after making it this far in their journey and then, death.
The new Irish women were done.
They moved on to the men. The cabins were set up for six men to each. If they, Miss Suzie and Pheybey were fortunate, there would be two or more of the injured in one of the cabins, which would mean less moving from one to another. Further in their favor, not all of the healing and treatment and care was on them solely. Those dwelling within the cabin with the injured had a responsibility to the new ones in trying to keep them alive. Bathing their bodies and brow with cool clothes to fight the fever. While it was rare, there had been instances of some losing their minds from the fever - going so crazy that if they couldn’t be held down, the master would put them down like rabid dogs. Because of that, Miss Suzie gave the men more than a shot of rum, just in case. At the fourth cabin of the men’s quarters, they came to the man who had fought so hard. Miss Suzie shook her head, “T’fight, get nothin’ back fo’right. Look’at’im, dey bust a’rib o’two yeah, head open, bruisin’ all over dat body.” She shook her head, not happy, hoping this one wouldn’t be among those she sometimes lost.
Pheybey glanced over his long length as well - his white body was clean of dirt, as much as she could see with him lying on his stomach. He didn’t have easies on, because of his condition. His roommates figured he might not make it. His black hair had been shorn like the others, and his head was the most perfect round Pheybey had seen a head. She wanted to touch his head, and wondered why she felt that way looking at him lying there. Some of them came with red hair, on occasion with blond, but most had dark hair. This one, the hair was thick and black. She found that she was attracted to the fight in him. True, a nature that could get him killed, if he wasn’t going to die already. Fully realizing that, she was indeed keen on his dominant fighting spirit.
“May be he live Miss Suzie?” She whispered to her mentor.
“We’see chile, I’m gon’ keep check on dis one yeah, he’da worse o’da bunch. ‘Dey don’ open his head beaten on’im, gon’ have to fix dat. Bes’ I do whi’he out yeah.” She turned to his cabin-mates, “Yah’dere, come sit on’im whi’ I sew his head, less he wake an’ start ta’fight yeah.”
“Gone die ain’he?” One braved, it was common.
“Not’if I help it, come on like I say.” She fussed, it was getting late, and she was easily agitated at that time of night.
“W’do Miss Suzie,” one mumbled as the three came over doing as she told them. Pheybey watched Miss Suzie cleaned his head good, and next sew it closed and not one sound or move did he make the whole time.
“Not gone live Miss Suzie,” Pheybey whispered her thinking, saddened by the idea, seeing how still he was during the sewing.
“W’see, w’try, treat’im like he gone live.”
Nodding her head, “We do.” Pheybey agreed softly, watching. She hoped he would live. He fought so hard. Weak, starved, beat on, and he fought so the men who held him grew tired. She figured if he could be so strong the way he came in, how much more so if he survived and was fed up the way Miss Suzie would do him. After all that could be done for him was finished, Miss Suzie decided they would stay there, see how he fared now. She would sit over him through the night in a chair by his bunk, nodding and tired.
As for Pheybey, she sat soothing all those within positioned near the head of his bunk, humming and serenading ever so softly her siren’s song. Low and hypnotizing the tune went out until she gave it up for silence. Exhausted from their day, she lie on her side, curled up on the floor dropping off to sleep. Miss Suzie sat more awake than sleep longing for her bed.
Most were quiet now, it was deep in the night. Miss Suzie’s eyes would open now and then, glancing from the Irishmen to Pheybey. She stared at the young girl for a long time, lost in thought. Something was a bit different about Pheybey with this one. Never before had Miss Suzie heard her sing to anyone in particular, especially not the Irish. She wondered, had the time come? Was he the one? Mumbling her thoughts low, “Chile o’mine - time fo’you t’fin’yo place wit’a man yeah who make’ya like bein’ a woman. Em hm,” She mumbled low, “Time come. Dere’be one who know. One who see wha’good in ya, wha’beauty I see yeah.” Again she nodded softly, “Time come.” She smiled sure for this little beauty sleeping peacefully beside her. She took in a deep breath and exhaling her eyes went back to the Irishmen. The lantern glow burned soft and low beside them.
She sat straight surprised to see his eyes open. He was staring at Pheybey on the floor. Staring like he couldn’t make out what he was seeing. Miss Suzie leaned over touching his forehead, he was definitely feverish, but not crazy with it. His hazel gray eyes rolled over to gaze at Miss Suzie. He was still on his stomach, looking around and wincing in pain like he was trying to remember where he was.
Miss Suzie smiled, “Ah, ya gone live yeah. Too much fight in’ya.” She said for his eyes and ears. She brought him water to drink, knelt and helped him down loads of it, despite the burning pain at the back of his neck. He had his fill, falling weak face down and slowly turned his head sideways with his eyes once more staring at curled up Pheybey. Miss Suzie sat watching him, watch Pheybey. He acted as if he wasn’t sure if she was real or not. Hesitantly his large hand lifted and gently touched her shoulder, convincing himself that she was real. Next it went up to touch one of the Bantu knots of her head. His arm gave way to his weak state and dropped from her. Minutes rolled by and his eyes went to Miss Suzie again, “Food.”
Miss Suzie chuckled, reaching behind her she uncovered a yam that had grown cold but still good for eating. Pealing the tender skin from it, she cut off a square putting it to his mouth, he opened for her to put it in. The moment the taste of it hit him, he was scrambling for more - eating too fast. “Got plenny’o’dat yeah - eat s’you can’t eat no more - don’ choke naw.” She sat smiling and fed him two large yams. Then gave him more of the rum to drink. His eyes went right away back to Pheybey. She was just about under his cot. He could reach her. Slowly his hand once again went out away from him, hovering over the still figure. His fingers once more carefully touched her hair, her hairline. He seemed captivated by her, by touching her to be sure of what he thought lie almost beneath his cot. Miss Suzie watched on intrigued. His hand, quivering still carefully lowered to touch her slender arm. His arm was just too weak and gave out again, this time landed so heavily against Pheybey’s side she was instantly awakened, but fully aware she barely moved. She looked back at Miss Suzie and then back at the Irish. His eyes were trying to close. They were very drowsy. Fighting sleep. His large hand was warm against her side. Then the hand squeezed at her ribs as if with the last strength left in him. Slowly his eyes begin closing as he dropped back off to sleep. Pheybey’s eyes went from his to his hand, to Miss Suzie.
Sighing Miss Suzie nodded, “He b’fine, go t’ya place - go’on, can’t be here when masta’ come checkin’.”
Pheybey reached up and took his large hand in hers as she sat up. The hand was heavy, battered, skinned knuckles, hard, rough skin. As if she held something more precious and delicate than a newborn babe, she put his hand on the cot next to his face. Getting one more eye full in the low lit cabin. Exhaling a gentle sigh, she turned to Miss Suzie, nodded, smiled, and stretched yawning. A few seconds later, without a word she disappeared into the night.
Miss Suzie’s eyes went back to the strong Irish, his eyes were open again, and he’d watched Pheybey rise and leave.
“Wha’ya name boy?” She asked him.
With an unmistakable Irish brogue he answered, “Maximilian.”
She nodded, “Em…” She nodded, “Yea’ah be fine. Back’t sleep na’, ya gots healin’ t’do yeah.”
She rose and turned to the other men, shaking the most responsible of them awake, Askook. “Watch’im close, keep’im cool. He go’bad, ya’to come get’me, come righ’on yeah.”
“Yes mum, I come right on.” He promised. All the young men of the tribes addressed the older women as, mum or aunt.
Maximilian felt heat and hunger overwhelm him. He went from shivering, hurting and nightmares, to intense hunger and pain. Different people, voices of other men stood over him, seeing to him. Laying cooling clothes on him as they spoke to him in low tones. There were also things happening in the twilight hours. In the deep midst of the night when the men he shared the cabin with were sleeping - he was getting tender care it would seem, from a quiet and gentle girl. Soft and low it seemed she sang a song of which he did not know the words. Or, maybe he was dreaming. Never had he heard such a sound, such a song, a siren so unreal - it could not be real. Yet, she - when there, he heard the voice. When she was gone, it was gone. In any instance, someone encouraged him to eat, to get strong, saying that he would be all right, because they or she, could see that he was one of the strong ones. They could say anything they wanted to him long as they kept the cooling clothes on the back of his neck and the food coming. Both felt wonderful in the midst of his body locked in aching and burning agony. Yet, the hunger thanks to Miss Suzie he could do something about and did. He ate every chance he was given and as much as there was to eat. Funny thing was now that there was food, and wonderful tasting food at that, the pains of need were even more intense. Never had he known such a wonderful taste as that of the yam Miss Suzie called it. He ate it like it was manna from heaven, God’s own life source food for him.
He wanted more of it, he wanted to horde it, keep it, hide it away never to be hungry again. Miss Suzie promised he could have as much as he wanted. She said to eat until he could eat no more, and he did. Besides the food, he longed to heal, to be stronger. Every now and then he would reach up and touch the tender spot of his head where stitches were hardened and scabbed up, the lump was almost gone. He could feel hair stubble growing in causing itching, but this time - he was clean, it wasn’t from lice and other parasites. It hadn’t been long since he’d last eaten and his stomach was growling once more.
He turned wincing, looking for the yams, or the greens - anything. He needed his strength back, he needed to get steady and on his feet again. He would escape this place, he was determined to be free again, or die trying. He knew the first chance that he had, he would be running - so build up he must. He looked for Miss Suzie like a newborn searching at its mother’s breasts. Because of his ravenous appetite, she’d added more food for him. Even in the night, he would be gently nudged awake to find various greens, eggs, fish and an assortment of fowl - warm and there for him. He wanted more of that now, all of it in fact feeling as hungry as he was.
Firing the need for departure he had the misfortune of meeting his master. He hated the man on sight as was the case with many of the English. The arrogant bastard had stood over him as they do, looking down his nose inspecting his progress as one would do a lame farm animal. Maximilian did all in his weakened state to keep the disdain from his eyes, he was not in a position to challenge this man, not now - but one day he would. No man would own him. Especially not after he had been given his daily duties. To actually hear what was expected of him made him burn hotter than any branding iron.
Master Robinson was rarely caught anywhere near the slave’s quarters. It was only when new ones were bought and he went to check and see who would live, who might die. To those whom Miss Suzie nodded affirmative that they would live, he read them their new rules, rights and slave obligations. It was his turn. Right to the point, he had asked, “When thee ‘ere set on his feet?”
Miss Suzie answered softly, setting out more creams for his neck, “Day’o’two. Lil’longa’ fa’ he be fit fa’da field’.”
“Em…” Master Robinson muttered, and then, “Yer name boy?” Hugone Robinson may have been born in England, but there was nothing refined about him. He had come from the lowly laborers just up from the peasants, sent out to collect from them and bring back to Lord Bakersfield. In the colonies, he was doing something similar, with the right to dominate others. Those others were used as manpower to labor in building wealth for the elite back in England. This time however, he was given greater power - and it felt good, because everyone reported to him now. Only a few times in the year had he to report to Lord Bakersfield. The report was about the harvest and the forecast of yields. Until then, he was the lord of the manor.
Enjoying what he saw, Master Robinson watched the man beneath him squirm as he swallowed down his disgust while keeping his features clear as he answered, “Maximilian.” The Irish accent was sure and strong.
“Thee bes’ make it - Maximilian sa’, o’ Masta’ Robinson, ye’ear? Bleedin’ pot-licker.” Master Robinson insulted while demanding.
Max could not block the fiery red that washed over his face.
“Aiy, thee know what for - don’ forge’it. Masta’ Robinson, say it - yes sa’ Masta’ Robinson.” He propped his foot up on the frame of the bed near his head, his face, and leaned down close over the other man, instinctively sensing the intense hatred between them. His eyes and manner dared the other man not to repeat the title he demanded.
He was taking a bit too long, Master Robinson laid his walking cane along the brand on his neck and pressed down hard.
Max saw stars and grinding his teeth, he practically choked on the words, but out they came. “Yes - sa’, Master - Robinson.” The title rolled hard with his brogue of hatred. Lying on his stomach as he was, left him at an uncomfortable disadvantage, forcing him to keep his head turned his way, sideways and up a bit. The sole of his master’s shoe was just at his nose and mouth. Seeping through the shoe, a stink of foot odor, sweat of rotten cabbage it reminded him. He fought back his gag reflexes.
Master Robinson chuckled and removed the cane, “Aiy, ge’ used t’it - yer a bleedin’ slave with a debt to pay. Soon as yer on yer feet, I’ah be expectin’ it in full.”
Max had been eating, suddenly the food felt lodged in his throat. For the first time, he lost his appetite. Unable to veil the simmering heat, he rolled his eyes down to the bed, beneath the shoe resting there. At that moment, he felt the flesh on the back of his neck burn, stretch and break, causing the fluid to seep from the puckered cooked skin. It was red, tender and throbbing now, back to burning despite the cream Miss Suzie gave them all to keep on it.
“Aiy, yer a smart one ye’ are - t’look away les’ ye’ get another clip t’thee ’ead an’ more.” Master Robinson gleefully exercised his power over the other man. Leaning close once more to invade his space, showing that he could, “Now ye’ listen ‘ere, and ‘ear what I say. I’ah be givin’ ye’ a few day or more - then I’be expectin’ ye’ t’carry yer load. Packin’ what they pic an’ tyin’ in the field. Miss Suzie ‘ere’ll get ya’ suited up. Next - ye’ look t’ave the makin’s of a ‘ardy stud. Soon as I match ye’ up - you’ah be matin’.”
That made Max twist his body and neck to look up in disbelief. That he was startled was clear to see, as well confused about what he might mean.
“Aiy, yer ‘eard right - got summit’ t’say?”
Max could only stare, surely he didn’t mean what he was thinking.
“Aiy, I pay for ye’ - I seen t’yer care, seen t’food, all t’get ye’ back t’health. Will cost ye’ with yer back an’ yer seed. I be pickin’ out o’my best fer ye’ plantin’. Ye’ do as yer told, when yer told, how yer told, all’ah be fine. As for me wenches, ye’ don’ lay’ with none ‘less I give t’ya’ for me purpose. Don’ give me cause t’kill ye’ - I rather not - ye’ do - I won’t ‘esitate. Ask any ye’ please. Won’t bat a eye as thee toss yer worthless corpse in yond’ stink ‘ole. Ye’ try’n’run, we catch ye’ - th’brand on yer neck’ll feel like ye’ been tickled by time I ge’done with ye’. Thee life after today’ll be yer own choice. Ye’ live or die, I care not which - ‘cept that I get me coin back I spend t’get ye.” He finished with a sardonic smile.
Max felt the urge to toss up his yams - the nausea rolled so.
“Ye’ ‘ear mick? I ‘spect a yes sa’ Masta’ Robinson.” Mick was a known insult to the Irish - kind of like calling all black men Leroy or Sambo. Max gulped, swallowed his pride, and with his face burning once more, along with his mounting venom choking him, he nodded answering, “Yes sa’, Master Robinson.”
“See ‘ow fas’ ye’ learn?” He stood back from leaning on the bed, removing his foot to stand upright, turning to Miss Suzie, “Feed’im up, feed’im strong. By a fort’night o’two, I wan’im breedin’…” He paused rubbing his palms together in greedy anticipation, “I figure t’get two good studs an’ a few wenches out’em.” He finished with a wicked smirk, envisioning the girls he might get from him. He was a sound Mick with looks that would lend to proper wenches. Strong as well. An Irish to get good breeding stock.
Yes, now that Max knew his master, and understood what this all meant, all he did was to ready himself for flight.
Once he got over the meeting, he was back to devouring all given by Miss Suzie. She checked on him as she did the others, upping the amount of food he would consume and added others to it. He was already getting familiar with the faces of those he needed to watch and know. He could not possibly be the only one wanting to be free. There had to be others. Irish like him, black like the others. He had to learn who they were, and what they were made of. It was not in his nature to take this lying down. He was a rebel. A small part of the reason he was there now. The other part, simply because he was an Irishman.
He would be free - it dominated almost his every thought.
In his growth back to health however, there was one face he sought to see, yet - she never seemed to be around when the others were. He was finally back on his feet, still weak, but testing himself daily. He’d been at Robinson Tobacco Plantation more than two weeks or more. Feeling restless he ventured outside onto the porch of the cabin. The air was humid and hot, making it hard to breathe. His neck was stiff and still painful, scabbing and cracking, peeling from his constant touching and picking. He needed to move, he needed to get familiar with his surroundings. Hyper and agitated as he was, anxiety would not let him lie about for long. Hungry again, he was looking for Miss Suzie like a child for its mother. While he was on his feet more and more, he was not strong enough to be where he was away from his cot. His ears started ringing. One moment he was looking around when white lights began blazing before him, and next the ground shifted beneath him to find his cheek pressed into moist dew of the grass. The tickle and pricks from the blades in his ear, at one side of his nose and mouth.
“Boy ya’go undo my work on ya.” Miss Suzie found him lying on the ground outside the cabin. She turned directing a couple of men wandering by, “Get’im back in’dat bed, yeah.” She’d come to check on him and bring him more food, he was like a baby bird, his mouth constantly open for worms, only to find that he’d fallen from the nest his appetite was so fierce. With him back in bed, Miss Suzie checked his head, which was healing fine. His bruises were fading, in fact about gone, nor were his ribs tender and showing so much. The sunken stomach was disappearing she was glad to see, and his face was also filling back out to normal. Because he was such a tall man, large boned by the looks of him, it would take more to get him filled back out. “Don’ ya’ be rushin’ out!” She scolded him, “Ya’be forced’t’it soon e‘nuf. I see ya’bout stronges’ o’da bunch. Lose a man, an’ a gal. Da rest still weak, a few eatin’ like ya’do. Gon’ take dem mo’time, hope not t’much. Masta’ Rob’son get mean he tink dey waste’ his coin.” She informed him. Sitting up as he was, Miss Suzie could see immediate heat at the mention of their owner. She could see something else in him as well, “He’ah kill you’ dead, ya’ heah. He’on care no way. I ain’ fix’ya jus’ fo’ya to’go an’ die by ya’ foolishness.”
“Mate?” He almost spat. That idea was the stinger of all he could remember from the visit. To be used like a bull. To have those of his seed born simply to be enslaved, used and sold at the whim of the master. Any right minded man would lose himself and the core of his spirit knowing such a thing. That he was deliberately providing life from his own loins to be used as slaves to be abused, raped, and sold for the pleasures and financial gain of another man. What kind of man in his right mind would not lose it to such an arrangement? Staring at Miss Suzie he swore, “No child of mine will I give t’such a fate, I-…”
Cutting him off she growled, “Ya’do what he say o’die!” She glared at him. She felt bad for him, felt badly for all those who were put through it by these invaders. But in order to survive until a way out of it came, this was their lot in life, the only other alternative was death. This was no time to be indignant about it. “Ya’heah? Ain’ no otha’way fo’it.” She hardened up saying more, “Time come - ya’get it up - an’ do what come natul’t’ya. What com’ta all man, ya’heah?”
Grinding his jaw tight, he knew that what she said was true. He had to survive. However he never figured on being a stud. One that entailed him giving up his future sons and daughters to the inhuman brutality of slavery. Seeing the fiery rebellion in his eyes, all Miss Suzie could do was sigh, “He - ah - kill ya’. He’don’ care - ya’see one day how da’stink hole fill wit’ da Irish. Man, lil’boys’n’gals that drop dead.”
“What?” He asked aghast.
“Ya’see soon e’nuf, do as I say, y’heah?”
Exhaling long and deep, Max nodded his head, giving in, “I will do as I’m told.” But in the deep part of his gut, how could he actually do such a thing. Feeling as if he were spinning, Max couldn’t help but mutter a prayer, ‘Father - I beg you, get me far from this place, please Father.’ Right then he could not help but wonder about his friend, Anlon. He would be the same, with nothing more driving him than the first opportunity to flee. He wondered how he might find him in such a vast land.
Soon his thinking drifted once more. His mind with a will of its own went back to the missing young girl.
He couldn’t help but wonder where she might be found? It was mostly at night that he saw her. The first time, she’d been with Miss Suzie. After that, on odd occasion when he least expected it. Always at night, a time or two before dawn. Once had been in the middle of the night and he woke to her hand on his head, testing it for fever. He had smiled at her, she smiled back sweetly, simpered a bit, crinkled her nose and darted off into the night. She reminded him of the dark presence that first appeared in his dream while still on his homeland. Every time she appeared it was to check on him or bring him something to eat. She never spoke a word and he wondered if she could speak English. The venture on the ship and then in the auction was the first time he’d actually been exposed to people with such dark skin. She was the darkest so far. He was fascinated by it. Her hair was jet black, twisted in gleaming knots about her head. He wondered about her age. She appeared to be quite young. In other aspects she reminded him of a human ant, a beautiful black ant that had been made human. That’s what he thought looking at her.
She had eyes that dominated - obsidian eyes as dark as she was. And the whites of her eyes were pure bright white almost bluish. Her skin appeared to be as smooth as rich extra dark molasses. One night he was moaning in pain and she had come up from nowhere to gently slap-tap his cheek bringing him awake. The moment he stirred, she popped something into his mouth. Delirious, he chewed down on it and then finding it hot and bitter, turned to spit it out. A voice sweet, gentle and cooing stopped his actions. Her small hand covered his mouth, “No, no no - eat, no… eat. Sh-sh, you gone feel betta’.” She stroked his skin, feeling the sharp harsh stubble of his face. He shivered, not wanting it, but thought it medicine. He gagged as if he would spit it out. Her persistent coaxing got him finally to swallow it down. Then at his lips, he tasted the juice of something sweet. A wonderful fruit. Patiently she fed him that as well to make up for the bitter mix she forced on him. As for the fruit, there was no need to force it. After finishing it, he grew still. His eyes drifted open to gaze into the darkness at her. He could barely make out her features, but knew she was near. She leaned in close to him, whispering, “Feel betta, yeah - feel betta.” Her small hand stroked his brow, along his ear, soothing him back to sleep with her siren’s song. After a while, his pain began to ease some and then he was fast asleep again. When he woke once more, she was nowhere to be found. He wanted to know her name. She never stayed long enough for him to ask her.
A few days later, he was back on his feet, suited up and taken around the plantation to learn the whereabouts of everything, as well to see where he would be working. He looked for her everywhere they he went. She was nowhere to be found. He saw men slaves, black, Irish, Indian, the same for women slaves… in the midst of it all, she was nowhere to be found. He wanted to look at her in the clear light of day. He wondered as he viewed and filed away info, laid-a-way ideas for later, was she like the others, used to mate? Perhaps she already had. He was truly confounded by how many faces he’d looked into - and those back at him, to feel disappointed that he had yet to find her again. Days rolling by, it was a mystery why thoughts of her and seeing her in the light of day distracted him. Nagged him. He felt naturally connected to her, as he did to Miss Suzie. Perhaps it was because they were essential to his regaining his strength and balance. In truth, he couldn’t put his finger on what she did for him, but he began needing to see her, the way he needed to see Miss Suzie for his food. Since being on his feet, three more nights and days went by with no more visits from her. He even found himself lying awake, hoping that she would appear. During the early really hard nights, she had somehow known that he needed what she gave, and was there to provide it. His body did not hurt so badly anymore. The throbbing cut on his head was numbing. The back of his neck was the only thing that still bothered him. The extreme hunger was gone and he was gaining more weight much faster than the others. Spending so much time thinking about her, he suddenly realized that in those few nights, it hadn’t been Miss Suzie that brought him more and different foods, it had been his little dark angel.
Another day had passed and now he was taken to the fields to actually work. Their surroundings were stark where the land had been cleared to build on. Some of the cabins were mere lean-tos, not built sturdy to last, they were quick builds with little care. Dressed for the climate as a slave with his easies on, moccasin like shoes, a tatty sleeveless shirt and large brim floppy straw hat to help him endure the sun and heat - he followed the others. Their leader and instructor was Betak. He would show them what to do, and how best it was done. Each was expected to produce a certain amount after the initial training. As they made their way to the field, Max could hear a rickety rattle of wagon wheels. Turning he saw that it was a flatbed rolling by and to his horror, there were naked dead on it. A woman, two men, and four dead children, a boy and three girls, all Irish. Tossed on, stiff, with no care or respect for their dead bodies, as there had not been a care for them when alive. Seeing it immobilized him, stopped him in his tracks. His eyes were round with shock and horror and a choking devastation. His eyes stung as they welled with a view that in truth, there was no hope for them. He rapidly blinked them as if they were playing tricks on him.
Noticing the look on his face, Betak came to him, “Come - keep go, yeah?” He gently urged to get him moving. Betak understood the look on his face oh so well. The horror of what one man could do to another. Even the children were not spared.
“Wha’s happen t’them?” His voice cracked. He knew he should not be stunned, far worse had taken place in Ireland. But to see it again, here in this new land - where they were continuing to die off, or be killed off was a kick to his soul. Which had they - those dead before him come here as, “bond servants? Apprentices? What lie was told to them to get them here? What crime? In either case, that they were Irish was their primary wrong. Now he could see it, as Master Robinson had told him, the same as Miss Suzie told him. Even so, it stung and angered him.
He barely heard Betak’s answer, “Dey drop dead. Weak - sick, may be try’in run. Ya’come, keep go yeah? No runnin’ - wait.” Betak nudged him onward. They were of the same height. Both men were tall, well over six foot and built strong. Betak was muscle bound and mighty, a survivor. He was Master Robinson’s most valuable stud and worker - his favorite.
Like Maximilian - Betak hated Master Robinson and often entertained the day that he would kill him. However for that, he knew he would be in a long line and perhaps towards the end. It was true that he had sacrificed himself so that his children would be free. Here he was being used to make more that would never be free. What he was forced to do went against every fiber of his once moral being. He feared for the children that would come from him. Keir for one. He had a longing for his son - this stunning product from him and the Irishwoman. He longed to know him, touch him, play with him, and make him laugh as he had his others before the invasion. He wanted to love this son as a father should, and tell him, ‘I am your father, follow me, listen to me - I will protect you.’ Only to know that all he might be able to offer him was his freedom, if that is - he could help his mother escape. Every chance that he got, he would stare at him with such a longing it caused his stomach to ache. Inside - he smiled to see his energy, his antics, his innocence and ignorance of the world he’d come to. Blind as of yet that he was brought here to be sold, to be bought and then used in any way his master deemed him useful. Betak stayed at a distance, not because he wanted the distance, but because his son belonged to Master Robinson. Against his will, so many more would be brought into this un-natural state. There was nothing he could think of that was as wicked as this, to bring a child into the world that would not have its mother and father to love them. Parents to teach them, direct them, and discipline them so that they knew how to live and love. Those born of this, would not know how to do that - how to live - how to love, they would simply exist. His mind often chased off madness brought on by the conditions and animal like state he was being forced to become. What kind of humans would this cause their forced offspring to be? What good from this would be passed down? He knew that the actions now would be the undoing of his children later, and possibly their children and so on - because this would be their legacy. Betak was a deep thinker. He pondered everything and had been a chief elder of his scattered tribe for some time. A man who had once gloried in the wonder of his children. A man of tender nature who had loved life. Who knew there was a GOD, a powerful spirit-being that put them and all beautiful things before them. He once knew and loved the freedom that GOD made them. That freedom involved teaching their young ones. It was that God-given gift that was now turning on him due to the invasion of the driven English. Men… mentally ill, and twisted who felt at ease with plowing through the lives of other men. Destroying the world to build one of their own. In the building of that, they were taking human-beings and forcing them to be animals. No good would ever come of this. Betak didn’t know how it would happen, or when it would happen - but this would all turn on them one day. Their arrogance would be their undoing to actually believe this would not come back with a harvest to reap from the ugly disastrous seeds they were now sowing. Consequently their actions would be the cause of many to weep in its field. With no control over the matter, for now they must bend to survive, and haul, and work, and mate like beasts of burden beneath the yoke. They lacked the weaponry to fight this force, as they were taken so by surprise. Their very beings were of peace. Their entire mentality had to change in order to defeat this foe. Until they came to face this new life, this foreign attack, Betak was for Master Robinson, a mighty beast of burden. One he planned to breed often.
As for Max, his first day in the field, in the heat of learning and doing what he’d been instructed was pure hell. Not so much from the actual labor of the job - yes it was hard work, but what made it unimaginable to endure was the sweltering heat. The moisture, or humidity along with the blazing sun had him struggling just to breathe as he labored. He was new, and the overseers made sport of him. He’d been kicked down twice, water tossed on him instead of given in the cup, and his hat snatched from his head, tossed about and tread upon. They resented him because of his looks, his height, his will and stamina to survive and endure them. Not to mention at his weakest, it took many of them to bring him down, brand him. Because of that, they wanted to break him. But instead, they were feeding the beast of rebellion in him - adding more fuel to his fire.
Work day one down, resentment up. On top of that, his body was once more burning.
His arms and other exposed skin felt on fire. The climate was nothing like that of Ireland. The open fields with no shade was torture under the scorching sun. Such high temperatures were surely an example if there was a hell, this is what it would feel like. Yet, alongside him, the dark people seemed to thrive much better than those of his ilk. Those like him, were literally dying in the sun. They were use to more cooling climates, more rain showers, and dim gray days. Yes, they got the sun, but nothing on the scale of this. Yet, it was not to say that the dark ones did not get hot, that they did. They suffered as well, were sweaty, drenched in perspiration, but they didn’t seem to burn. It was as if they absorbed the sun’s rays and grew darker for it, indeed they did. But they weren’t on fire. He felt on fire. Watching them, he longed to have that type of skin. Another thing he noticed, they were not being bothered by the insects. Bugs didn’t seem to be biting them, buzzing their ears. While the Irish, they were getting eaten alive. Watching them, Max began to realize why they were considered of less value, of little consequence if they died. They simply could not match the endurance of those working alongside them. It also occurred to him if it were not for the gunpowder, armory, steel and iron the English had, or the madness to dominate other men - these people, the dark ones would tear them apart in battle. Gunpowder, cannons and then swords once they were blown to bits, is what gave the British the advantage. Along with a devil like drive to take what did not belong to them. Yes, their state of mind.
As far as he was concerned, the ruling elite had no compassion or conscience. It was set in their heads under the belief that they held a right of sovereignty over other races because it was given to them by God. To Max, he felt that in truth it was more so given by the devil. All of their actions were that of the devil, not the Creator of mankind. Like the devil they displayed an audacity that they, should have God’s power and right to rule other men. Setting themselves up in a royal state to dictate their definition of civilization and enforcing that upon others. True, Cromwell had forced the royals into hiding, but he was just as bad, if not worse. Taking part in mandating that their language was that of superior beings. Thus they should rule, control any lands they conquered. The lands resources then became theirs, as the wellbeing of the people. Should any rebel, death would be the end of it. In their minds they were bringing civilization to the vast lands and people. In Maximilian’s eyes, there were none more savage than the bloody elites and their twisted evil scheme to label the world as possession of their growing empire.
Finally, that day was done. When he returned to his cabin - he barely made it to his cot. There, he half fainted, half dropped back to it, burning, sore, and sapped of energy and bitten up. He actually felt ill again. Even his appetite was in question. Miss Suzie came to him, made him drink as much water as he could get down him, and rubbed him down with one of her salve. It was agony to endure, it took all of his strength to bite down on shouting, “Please stop - bleedin’ leave me!” For once, she sat food beside him that he actually turned away from he was so weary. He dropped off to sleep in no time. Hours later sometime in the middle of twilight - the little dark one came to him and gently nudged him awake. Cooing tenderly as if she could feel his pain and would take it from him. His eyes opened feverish and red. He was back to feeling weak once more. She took his large hot hand in her small one and tugged it gently, “Come…”
He hurt - even her gentle touch and tug caused him a groan in misery.
She leaned in really close whispering at his ear, “Ya’mus’come - come wit’me, yeah?”
He groaned, his body was not his own. He could see it in her eyes, as if to see him this way hurt even her, “Ya’mus’come, ya’mus, come… come.” Tears of anguish filled his eyes, if he could, he would. She knew, his pain, gently touching his cheek she whispered pleading ever so gently, she touched her chest, “I make ya’betta, so betta… come,” Because he had so longed to see her again, and for reasons he could not explain, he trusted her. He sucked in a long deep breath, even that hurt - but he moved his body and wanted to cry out in agony.
She sensed it, “No-no, shhh, come.” She beckoned him.
“I - bloody - hurt.” He growled in agony - surely flames burst upon his skin.
She nodded, understanding that he did, “Yeah – come, I make ya’betta’. Come’.” She would not give up, she would not leave him to grow sick, weaker - she simply could not. He was a fighter, she knew that, and she would help him fight this too.
Max lay trying to think of a way to move and not wail out waking those he shared the cabin with.
“Why lass must I? I faint, how will’a’wee mite as you have the strength to lift me back?” he moaned low, concerned.
She only smiled at him, “Ya’strong - ya’won’ faint, come.”
Max did not want to test how bad his body hurt and burned, he rolled his head to look toward the other bunks where his roommates lay sleeping. She would pick this night to reappear and of all things, asking him to move, to go off and follow her. “Trus’me? Come - ah make ya’ betta.” The magic words she coaxed him with, ‘To feel betta.’ - For that, he would have to move, because it now felt as if the branding had moved from his neck to most of his body. He got himself ready, bracing so that the shock wouldn’t send him to his knees. Taking a deep breath, he forced himself to sit upright and turn putting his feet to the floor. Grinding his teeth, feverish, throbbing pain burst to life making him actually see stars. He was determined not to cry out. Before him, the little dark one stood patiently - giving him all the time he needed. “If I faint, leave me on the floor wee lass, leave me.” He petitioned her.
She smiled, enraptured by the sound of his voice and accent, “No, come - ya’won, ya’strong.” She repeated softly, keeping to a low whisper.
Not wishing to drag it out he pushed to his feet, resisting the urge to do it too quickly knowing it could make him pass out, so slowly was the way despite the pain. She smiled up at him, “Come.” She lead the way for him to follow, turning back now and then to see that he was still on his feet and following. Wearing nothing more than his britches, he put one foot in front of the other until they were outside and walking around behind the cabins toward the woods. The cool dewy ground made every step worth it. While at the same time, every step shot over his skin with painful re-burning, but for her he kept moving. It was dark, he was getting bitten, and any sudden move to swat caused more pain than the actual bite, so he resisted swatting.
What he did notice however, no bites for her. He wanted to go back into the cabin where the funny smelling candle burned which kept the insects at bay. Once more, he noticed she didn’t seem to be bothered. However, there was a slickness to her skin, as if she had an oil of some substance all over it. In fact, many of those of dark skin did not get bitten as they - the Irish were. Max wondered why? What was the difference? He was trying to keep his eyes on her and watch his step on top of it. She didn’t carry a lantern, so must be accustomed to wandering about the woods at night. He finally whispered, “Where’ye takin’ me lassy?”
“I make ya’betta,” was all she answered.
He wasn’t sure how many moments had passed when she stopped and took his hand, “Ya’go low, as I do.” She showed him, holding his large hand, guiding him so he would not trip. He was really tall, so she kept a hold of him guiding him in how far down he must duck. He groaned having to bend, “Bloody hell, I kinnah lass, I don’t know where yer bleedin’ leadin’ me.” She would not take no for an answer, just waited for him to bend low and follow her through the brush. He whimpered, and then bent to go in. Limbs scraped against his skin and he bit his tongue not to cry out.
She watched him endure but kept onward, waiting for him, and acted as if it were daylight. Growing impatient, he grumbled low, “How much further?” She kept hold of his hand leading him onward and he followed her, still trusting, mumbling out loud, “I sure hope I’ll not come t’regrettin’ this lass, I dun’ know’ya dew I?” She gave no reply, her focus was on their destination as she continued to lead him, and he in disbelief followed, “Kinnah at least know yer name?”
She suddenly stopped as it appeared they’d arrived and turned reaching for his britches, “Take easy off,”
“Aiy, wait - whoa whoa, lass - I dun’ even know yer name, an’ what’s more I’m hatin’ to disappoint, but I’m not in the best of condition for what ye’ve ah’mind.” He chuckled a bit despite how he felt.
“No-no, take off easies…” She insisted, pulling them down.
“Oh ow ow, careful now - no name?” He persisted, noticing that she paid him little attention other than to get his britches off of him. There was little fight in him, and she was focused on getting them down. Despite being sore, he was grinning, “Now lass, I’m sore - this what he mean for matin’? I thought I had more time, I-…” Cutting him off was her pulling him slowly into a thick, very cold swamp like pond, it was startling, so cold it was stinging him as he went in, “Aiy - aiy lass this is bloody cold,” Even so, the sensation on his skin felt so good all he could think about was sinking deeper into it. She kept hold of his hand as if steadying him from slipping from the slimy bottom. He thought that was funny considering how much larger than her he was. If he slid, he would be taking her with him. “Feel betta?” She asked leading him to go deeper. He almost yelped the cold was so intense, it was stinging his skin, but only for a moment. Once he was in up to his neck, the pain and heat seemed to lesson, and soon - miraculously it was gone. He couldn’t help it, he groaned in pleasure. Now, he was glad that he’d followed her.
“Feel good, yeah?”
He had to admit it, it felt amazing on his feverish skin. He nodded and then, “Yes m’lass – heaven is this.” Besides the pleasure sinking into the cool pool brought him, he also noticed that she was completely naked. His eyes were adjusting to the light of the moon. Although she was all darkness and shadow, her silhouette showed him glimpses of small breasts and a little waist. She turned, grabbing hold of what looked to be a tree root, taking his hand and guiding it to it, making him take hold. “Don’le’go.” He was putty in her hands willing to do whatever she bid him. As he relaxed in a semi-squat in the wonderful swamp stew, he watched her go to the bank, and before she disappeared, “Stay, I be’back,”
Max couldn’t think - all he knew was that he never wanted to get out. His skin felt cool, soothed as if kissed by fairies of comfort and pleasure. He was starting to doze when she returned and gently entered the pond again with him. She was still naked and unabashed concerning her state of undress and his. Approaching him, she had her hands full, and lightly tapped his cheek to order him in her gentle way, “Open, eat, all this,” She made a face of cautioning him, “No… don’ spit it, no.” She shook her head.
He felt an urge to kiss her, taste her.
As he was about to open his mouth to ask what it was, she shoved it into his mouth - a green leafy stuffed pod. He bit into it and immediately recognized the taste. He wanted to spit it out. “Eat, don’spit, no! Eat! No!” She ordered him. It was hot and bitter, as well a bit salty. He felt an urge to gip, she tapped his cheek, “No!” she commanded watching him fight down his gag reflex. Her gentle sweet voice could hardly be taken seriously, but she was trying to be stern with him, “No…” She repeated, her small hand went to his throat, his Adam’s apple, demonstrating a swallow, “Eat, no - no no.” She chastised him with a firm look.
Max didn’t know what to do, saliva was building in his mouth. She gently slapped his face again, “Eat now!” He knew that he could spit it out, but something told him to do what she was commanding him, and so he began to chew it, it was horrible. His gag reflex kicked in, and once more, she slapped his expanding cheeks, “Eat it, chew – no-no, chew-chew-chew,” She pat both his rounded cheeks per chew, chew, chew, encouraging him to fully masticate and then swallow. He forced it down and gasped, “Bloody hell,” She went to shove in another wad of it, he turned his head away.
It was his turn this time, “No.”
“Yes, now…” She grabbed his face, her small hands trying to force him back to take it again, “Do as’I say, ya’ hear? Eat, now.” Small and bossy she was, he groaned, “It’s bloody disgusting,” he whimpered.
She grabbed his cheeks, squeezed and pressed it to his lips, “Eat ...” Once more he opened his mouth, let her shove it in and this time he chewed it as fast as he could, letting it burn his tongue so it made his eyes water, but he swallowed it, and to his horror, she pushed another to his lips, “Come - feel betta’ - more, dis yeah, eat...” Wishing to get it over with, he did it, let her put it in his mouth. He chewed and almost brought it all back up and she covered his mouth with her little dark hand and gave him a look every mother had given her child forcing medicine down them. After a moment of that, he got it down and prayed that was it.
She smiled, nodding her head, “I am Pheybey - this, have, is nice fo’ya.” She offered him the name Miss Suzie had given her and handed him a ripe, juicy sweet peach. “Bite.”
“Pheybey?” He repeated her name, wishing to focus on that instead of this next food thing she held before him, he’d never seen peaches before, and was afraid of it, “Em,” she nodded, “Pheybey - come, bite.”
Growling, fearing what it might be he went forward and bit out of it, and felt an immediate burst of sweet, delicious juice. “Aaaah, bloo-o-dy he-e-ell… tha’s right nice lass,” His eyes rolled in his head in pure ecstasy. After what his mouth had just experienced, this new sensation was close to orgasmic. His head rolled back in pleasure as he chewed and swallowed. Pheybey smiled and offered him more of it to bite and he did, no longer fighting her. With it almost gone, he had to ask, “What is this? Can I have more?”
She giggled, “Ya’will, ‘ya’mus’ eat ja’ga first.”
“Ja’ga?” Max made a grimacing face, “The horrid tripe?”
“Em,” She nodded with a smile so beautiful it infectiously caused him to do the same. “Aaah lassy, what a bonny smile I see. I must have a look of you in the light of day.” He seduced her with his deep brogue.
She blushed and brought the focus back, “Ya’ eat ja’ga if Pheybey give t’ya’, yeah?”
He groaned, “Must I? Why?” He asked around getting the last of the nice fruit.
“Ya’feel betta’!” She announced, making a face, “Silly boy,” Looking at him and wondering did he have good sense, “Pheybey give it so ya’ betta.”
He grinned up at her, chuckled even supposing he deserved that. He was feeling better. She was taking the last of the peach pit away from his mouth after having fed him all of it since his hands were in the marshy water. It donned on him that this must be what they did. His skin didn’t feel as on fire and even though his stomach felt a bit irritated from the nasty fare previously devoured, he could tell there was something in it that soothed him. Not only that, he began feeling drowsy as well. “I feel - strange, yes, and better lass for it, I dew.”
“Come, I’s enuff, I take ya’back.”
It occurred to him that the treatment he was now getting, others may have not experienced. Compelling him to ask, “Why me lass, why dew ye’ take such care with me?”
She only smiled, climbed naked from the pond, showing him her gleaming body against the light of the moon. She had a round bottom full cheeked, one wouldn’t expect a rear from such a small frame. He watched her use her hand to swipe or wipe the thickish marshy water from her skin.
“Come, ya’do it - I mus’ take ya’back.”
He followed suit leaving the healing waters. The cool night breeze felt amazing blowing against his damaged skin. The burning discomfort had all but disappeared. Just a trace of it lingering, but nothing he could not bear. The pain he’d been feeling was gone. In its place, he was feeling a bit other worldly, a heady sensation that heightened all of his senses. Those senses were so alert that her nearness brought on an uncontrollable erection. He stood tall, his full height with a sensation coursing through him that was powerful to mate with her. His mind was not completely his own, he felt virile, invigorated and powerful. Pheybey although aware of the affects her herbs and remedies had on men, never gave mating with him a thought. She did not wish to mate with anyone. Even so, in her innocent way she was attracted to him. Totally unaware of how powerful her fascination and infatuation. However, not so taken was she to let him mate with her. She put her meager garments on and ignored the state of his body. It wasn’t hard because it was dark and she was not curious about him in that way. She wanted to be near him, hear him, speak to him and even - protect him. With all of that, not yet did she wish to have him as a woman would a man. She walked away from him towards the way they’d come, leaving him standing tall, aroused and in need. He was getting his vitality back, he was recovering from the ordeal of being shipped there and branded and enslaved. His recovery was on the verge of being complete. Left up to Pheybey, he would be stronger than he’d ever been, she would see to that. But she would not let him have her. That would take more time - and would require a lot more of him to get her to actually let any man do to her the things she knew they did.
She was at a distance, and realized he was standing still. The night breezes drying him instead of using his hand to finish. When she looked back, the moon was behind him. Although he was still on the slight side, slender - he stood tall and stunning. She also saw that part of him which stood away from his body to let her know, it would be an ordeal to mate as she often feared.
Ignoring that she called out to him, “Come Max’m’lan,” She knew his name, had been practicing saying it, because it had not come off of her tongue easily. The moment he heard his name from her lips, it stirred the longing in him for her even more. His name rolled from her lips with such a strong exotic accent filled with her native tongue, while spoken it English - it somehow made him feel as if he had come home.
“Aaah lass, wait lass please… we need not hurry back.” His voice was soft, aroused and loaded with a passion that could not be mistaken. She could hear the quality about it that was a clear indication he wished to be one with her.
Clear, without hesitation she stated, “Come Max’m’lan, I will no’mate wit’ya, I mate wit’ no’man. Come…” She turned and began making her way back the way they’d come. He stood in disbelief. He knew that he was not a bad looking man, in fact - back home in Ireland, he was a most desired catch. However, he supposed to her - what she was used to, he no doubt looked fish bellied on one side, and a red-coat on the other. Despite his inferior skin, he knew she cared about him, why else give him the attention she did? He knew when a woman wanted him. “Pheybey!” He called her name, “Come back lass. Pheybey, why would you say such a thing lassy, aaah come now… no man? I am not just any man m’lassy - Pheybey?”
She continued on.
He finally saw his britches hanging in clear sight, thanks to her. Grabbing them, the last that he wanted was to put them back on. Now he understood why the few natives he’d seen in their customary garb, wore the loincloth. He felt the need at that moment. The funny thing was, as he walked, he could barely feel the ground beneath his feet, nor the brand on the back of his neck. Neither was he aware of being bitten by insects. For the first time since his capture, trial, and shipment to this new land, Maximilian felt … free. He followed leisurely catching mere glimpses of Pheybey ahead of him. She deliberately kept a pace that helped to lead him back. She knew at this time of night, he might get lost. Once the cabins came in sight and the one that he was assigned to, she turned waiting for him to reach her.
He walked up to her, so much taller than her slight stature, and said right off, “Are ya’ free lass?” Something told him it was so.
She stood a moment gazing up noticing at a glance that he was completely naked, that did not bother her - she’d seen many naked boys, and a few men as well, there was nothing shocking about it. However, because of the way he was just moments earlier she stepped back from him, saying to him before she took off in the night, “I come fo’ya more, ‘til ya’betta…” and she was gone, off like a cooling breeze one longs for on a too warm night.
She was free.
He wanted to follow her. But knew he could not. He did not yet belong in her world. Not yet he did not. He would stand out. He would slow her down. He would jeopardize her freedom. Were he to come up missing they would go looking for him, and if they found him, they would find her because Max knew he wanted to be where she was. When the time came to be free - he was certain that she would be instrumental to the end.
She said she would mate with no man. Remembering made him smile to himself. She was a maiden, untouched. Feeling a sense of right and delight, he would wager not for long would she be. For now, he must get well, he must get strong and he must adapt to this new world - otherwise, he would not survive it. Maximilian made his way into the cabin, and caught whiff of the scent on him, it was very similar to her, to some of the other dark ones. Sitting on the bed, he slipped his easies on. He laid back and within a few moments, he was off into a deep sleep. Coming to him there, as she would not while awake, a mere slight sight in a fleeting dream of a dark presence and bright eyes. She stirred him. As she was wild, he too wish to become wild. To be the kind of free that she was, he would do anything she asked him too, even eat the ja’ga.