Lieutenants Edward Hamilton and James Wray are sent on detached duty to the Bey of Tunis only to find themselves in command of a crew of beautiful sex slaves whom they are to train in handling a small ship.
Edward Hamilton of the Royal Navy – Mediterranean Voyages
Lieutenants Edward Hamilton and James Wray are sent on detached duty to the Bey of Tunis only to find themselves in command of a crew of beautiful sex slaves whom they are to train in handling a small ship.
The quarter boat pressed against the quay with a harder than usual thud. The English sailors jumped up and lifted out the two sea chests even before Lieutenants Edward Hamilton and James Wray stood up. The baggage was quickly deposited on the quay and within less than a minute the coxswain was yelling for them to shove off. The boat was soon pulling back into the harbor, the six oars working together with expert precision, as it returned to the English frigate Constance, leaving Hamilton and Wray standing next to their sea chests.
"I always wanted to come to Tunis," Hamilton said sarcastically.
"Yes, you often spoke of it," Wray answered sarcastically. Then he stopped and looked around. "What in God's name is that smell?"
"Galleys." Hamilton pointed several hundred yards away at a dozen of Corsair raiding galleys. "I don't think they've let the poor wretches off the benches for months."
The harbor was crowded with ships large and small. Most were small feluccas or costal luggers with one or two sails and a fore-and-aft rig, but there were also Spanish xebecs with racked masts, polaccas, and a captured French chasse-marée. The oared ships, both small galliots and larger raiding galleys were pulled up on the beach, while the Ottoman ships built along European lines were anchored off shore. Those naval vessels, sloops, frigates, and several small sail of the line, would not have looked out of place with the English fleet at anchor off Spithead.
Hamilton and Wray walked a few yards from the quay, looking around at the bustling street of shops, beggars, and street sellers, but staying close to their baggage. Horses in elegant finery were being walked slowly in one direction, as heavy carts were pulled by people in the other. It was a loud, bright, chaotic place and no one seemed to be paying any attention to the two English naval officers in their blue uniforms, white breeches with silk stockings and high, cocked hats.
"I confess, James, I have not the slightest notion as to why a pair of junior lieutenants were sent for this diplomatic mission," Hamilton said, looking at the warships.
"I just hope the factor arrives soon, its bloody hot standing out here," Wray said. He paused as he glanced towards the English frigate that had brought them. "I see Captain Sanders doesn't waste time, the Constance is hauling her anchor cables."
Hamilton didn't answer. "Edward, did you hear me -- oh, my."
Both men watched as a path mysteriously appeared in the crowd as people stepped out of the way to allow a squad of elaborately dressed soldiers to march to the quay. The soldiers wore bright baggy Ottoman style clothes and tall hats which included a narrow band of silk across their face, and each was armed with a large saber, daggers of various sizes and a heavy musket. The soldiers themselves suddenly stepped to one side and stood at attention, making way for women.
There were eight woman, all beautiful and all nearly naked, each positioned to hold the rails of a sedan chair. Each was dressed in a light silk wrapping that covered her hips and nothing else, as well as a wooden mask, curiously unadorned compared to the complexity of the styling on the chair. The eight women came to a halt a few yards from the naval officers and slowly lowered the chair to the ground.
"The heat be damned, Edward, I think I'm going to like it here," Wray muttered. Hamilton stifled a laugh.
The sedan chair opened and a short, plump man in European dress stepped out. He reached back inside and plucked out a tricorne hat which he pressed firmly to his head. "Ah, gentleman! Fine, yes, very fine to meet you!" the plump man said, in deeply accented English.
"Thank you, sir. I am Lieutenant Edward Hamilton and this is Lieutenant James Wray of His Britannic Majesty's service." Hamilton took off his hat and did a partial bow. Wray did the same.
"Ah, of course, yes, yes! I am Nadim bin Bekir and I am here to welcome you to Tunis."
"I see," Hamilton replied, slowly. "Are you acquainted with the English factor?"
"Oh dear sir, I am the English factor!" The plump man laughed. He leaned in and stage whispered, "My real name is Pieter Van Schoonhoven. It makes it easier to deal with the Pasha-Bey of Tunis if I adopt the local customs. Yes? You see my situation, hm?"
"I understand, sir," Hamilton said, glancing at the naked women standing quietly next to the rails of the sedan chair.
"Oh that," Van Schoonhoven looked at the women and leered. "The very generous and wise Massih Bey has granted me access to some of his unique and well trained staff."
"Of course! Can you blame him. And yes, he has quite a fondness for women of beauty and charm. Oh yes, as I am sure you can see, gentleman, he has very excellent taste."
"You're one of the King's Germans?" Wray said, his attention still on the topless slaves.
"I am Dutch, sir! Circumstances have been kind! I am the English representative to the Pasha-Bey of Tunis," Van Schoonhoven then laughed. "You enjoy the sights in Tunis, Lieutenant, yes? Perhaps you would wish to take my position so that I might make a welcome return to Amsterdam."
"I fear I must decline that honor, sir," Wray said.
Van Schoonhoven laughed, then said more seriously, "if you also fear for my loyalty to your King, gentleman, then remember the Jacobins have taken over my country, yes? I would be greatly obliged if they were driven back to Paris and my country made free."
"I did not mean --"
Hamilton held up his hand, "When do we meet Masin Bey?"
"Well," Van Schoonhoven said with a sigh. "The most illustrious Masin Bey? Oh, my dear sir, we will most likely never see him."
"I am confused, sir," Hamilton said. "Our mission is to assist the Bey of Tunis in the development of a more modern naval force to prosecute the war against France from these waters."
Van Schoonhoven laughed. He reached over and put his arm around Hamilton and leaned in. "Your mission, Lieutenant is to keep Masin Bey occupied with his various projects, yes, so that his attentions do not turn to Jacobins. You understand then? Yes? Masin Bey is easily distracted, so easily distracted! Unlike his brother, I should say, the Pasha-Bey who is the true ruler of this land."
The English officers looked confused. "Have you forgotten, sirs, that Bonaparte is in Egypt? Consider the havoc he caused in Italy! Oh yes, yes, yes, I am quite aware of how your valiant Nelson cut down his fleet. Such bravery! And yet, still, that Jacobin army remains close enough to this charming hellhole be a concern. You see my meaning, gentleman? The Pasha-Bey knows that England is where he should seek support, yes? But he is also old. Should the will of heaven taken him from this life and Masin Bey rise in his place, well, I think you see the problem!"
"If Masin Bey takes the throne he might swing this place to France?" Wray asked.
"Indeed, sir! We must make that unlikely."
"I have my orders from the Admiralty, sir," Hamilton said. "But...considering... as you are the English representative I will take your views into account."
"Excellent! Now, good sirs, let me have your baggage sent to the palace." Van Schoonhoven turned to the leading soldier. He spoke a short word in Turkish. The soldiers nodded and as the officers looked closer they could glimpse their faces through the thin silk draped in front.
The soldiers were women. "I am Nasira bint Evranaki," the one leading the squad said, in English with far less accent than the Dutchman.
"I see. I wasn't aware... that..." Hamilton stammered. He looked at Wray who just shrugged.
"Another special detachment courtesy of Masin Bey," Van Schoonhoven explained. "These are the Kocek Kapikulu of the Janissary corps, yes, and they are quite serious as warriors. Make no mistake of that gentleman! Yes, yes, quite serious!"
Nasira ordered four of the topless slaves by the sedan chair to come forward and take the two sea chests. The others lifted the chair, now much lighter without the Dutchman inside, and followed the female soldiers as they moved back into the city.
Van Schoonhoven lead the two officers in a slightly different direction, down narrow streets, some crowded and some not, and into a low open courtyard bounded by colonnades. There were several groups of men inside, all looking over a row of twenty women connected by chains. The women had torn clothes at best and huddled together in a ragged line.
"The fruits of Masin Bey's fleet of galleys," Van Schoonhoven said as he gazed upon the women, all young and attractive. "As you can see he has a particular taste, yes? And these specimens are gentleman, oh my, yes, these pretty ones are those he rejected. They are now for public auction."
"This is monstrous!" Wray said.
Van Schoonhoven snorted. "And your countrymen grab innocent men from the streets, yes? Drag them away from their families off to serve on your ships, hm?"
"That, sir, is in the service of His Britannic Majesty. We are at war."
"And the triangle trade, sir? That is also in the service of the king?" Wray fumed and turned away. Van Schoonhoven laughed.
"Why did you bring us here?" Hamilton asked.
"I want you to know what sort of man you are dealing with. Masin Bey surrounds himself with female slaves, yes? He has some from the far eastern orient and the wilds of Portuguese Brazil. He uses these slaves for all functions, well beyond their obvious uses, I must say." Van Schoonhoven walked over to one of the women, a petite dark haired beauty. He reached out and cupped her breasts. She froze but did not resist. "To maintain his interests in line with ours I suggest you keep all this in mind. These particular slaves are French. Note that it would be useful if Massih Bey continues to harass the enemies of His Britannic Majesty."
One of the men pointed to a lithe, dark haired woman and a guard released her from the chains. She was pushed over to a group of men who began to press their hands on her breasts and ass. They pried open her mouth and inspected her cunt. The man who pointed suddenly turned and a guard took hold of the terrified slave by the hair and dragged her along after him. She screamed, but no one took notice.
"Sampling the wares, I dare say, yes?" Van Schoonhoven said. "You gentleman are, of course, well within your rights to purchase a slave or two for your enjoyment."
There was a pause and then Hamilton said, "We should proceed to our destination, sir."
The Dutchman lead them out of the slave market and down a series of crowded streets, many covered by awnings and seemingly always walking against a tide of humans and animals.
"I do not like this fellow," Wray said, leaning into Hamilton.
"I can't say as I do either, James, but I fear we are saddled with him." Twisting through crowded streets they made their towards the center of the city and suddenly came upon a tall, fortified wall covered with intricate geometric mosaics and the curves of Ottoman ***********. Nasira bint Evranaki, the female Janissary in command of the small group was waiting by the open gate. Her face, an attractive one, was easily visible through the wisp of thin cloth.
"This is where I must part company, gentleman," Van Schoonhoven said suddenly. He made an overly elaborate bow to Nasira and then was off into the crowd.
"You will follow me," Nasira said to the naval officers.
The fortifications opened into a wide parade ground in front of a central palace several stories highs. There were several smaller building and Nasira lead them towards one. They waited for a troop of cavalry to pass and then stepped inside. The building was a rough square, with a central open courtyard ringed by a colonnade of wide arched stone. It was surprisingly quiet inside the building, and one could almost imagine being in the square of a small village.
Nasira lead them down past a row of doors. She indicated that one room was for Lieutenant Wray. "Food will be sent to you presently."
"Thank you," Wray replied. He looked inside and saw his sea chest and then added, "Ma'am."
"Refresh yourself, Mr. Wray, I will speak will you later," Hamilton said.
Hamilton followed Nasira as she walked further. Inside his room he could see his sea chest in the center of a modest apartment, with a small bed and a low table. The walls were plain, at least by the standards of Tunis, but still were made of elegant tiles.
"Thank you. This is most kind, and please extend our compliments to your master," Hamilton said.
Nasira nodded. Under the top of her curved hat he could see a wisp of red hair.
"And my compliments to you, as well. I must say, you speak English very well," Hamilton said.
"England has been a past enemy of the Sublime Ottoman Domains and may be so again." Nasira lifted the small, almost transparent silk from her face. "The Great Sultan is wise to have his slaves learn the ways of the infidels."
"Indeed. Very wise." Hamilton hesitated and then smiled, slightly.
Nasira placed the silk across her face, nodded slightly, and left.
Hamilton stepped inside, dropping his hat onto the small table. He glanced at his sea chest. The small wax seals were unbroken, which seemed somewhat surprising. He opened the trunk and everything seemed to be in place. Standing up, he heard a small knock on the door.
"Enter!" he shouted, before correcting himself. "Please come in."
The door opened and a lithe, topless woman came in with a golden tray heaped with fruit around a small golden carafe of coffee. She wore only a narrow wrap of blue silk that already seemed to be falling off her hips. Thin gold jewelry adorned her wrists and neck.
"I have been ordered to serve you, master," she said in Spanish, setting the tray on the low table and then kneeling.
Hamilton sat next to her and tried to remember his rudimentary Spanish. "Thank you, madam, very much. I am --"
The slave had opened an orange and pulled out a single slice. She held it up for Hamilton, who leaned forward and took it into his mouth.
"I am most grateful. However, I am not your master."
"I have been ordered to serve you and to obey any commands you wish to make." She poured a small cup of coffee and handed it to him. "Master."
"Thank you. I am sure we can... can... come to some... uh... what is your name?"
"I am Lamesa, master. It means that I am soft to the touch."
"I see. I am, well... I am sure you are." Hamilton took a small sip of coffee and then nervously set it down. He looked down her olive skinned body, from her dark black hair and soft, brown eyes, down her small but perfectly shaped breasts, with dark areoles, smooth stomach, and a trace of a dark patch between her legs under the thin silk. His gaze stopped for a moment on her thighs.
Lamesa noticed. She smiled and pulled the silk off her body, revealing a series of thin marks across her thigh. She stood up and turned around. More marks were across her ass.
Hamilton, sitting, his face inches from the soft flesh of her ass stammered and then blurted out, "You've been whipped!"
Lamesa turned around and knelt closer to him. She put her hand on his thigh. "I was used in the Pearl Room, master."
"Ah, I see... the Pearl Room?" Hamilton felt very self-conscious about his growing erection. Lamesa noticed and slid her hand over the bulge in his breeches.
"That is a place for those who enjoy whipping and binding slaves. Would you like to take me to the Pearl Room, master?"
Hamilton looked away for a moment. Then he turned towards her and grabbed her wrist pulling her arm up and away from his cock.
"Have I displeased you, master?"
"No... no, not at all, you have not displeased me Lamesa."
She smiled and leaned in close.
Hamilton said, "Oh, hell, let me see how soft you are." His right hand went to her hair. He grabbed her and pulled her close against his body. Hamilton held her tightly as he leaned in, his lip sliding down her neck to her breasts, where he opened his mouth and sucked hard on her nipples. He still held her tight, one hand around her back holding her hair while the other kept a tight grip on her wrist.
"Master... would you like coffee..." she said.
He let go of her hair and wrist, his lips sliding back to her neck as he held her tightly. "I would rather have you."
"It will get cold, master."
He leaned back, looking over her very beautiful face for a moment. He took a few deep breaths and then his eyes narrowed.
"Allow me to serve you," Lamesa said, reaching for the cup.
Hamilton grabbed her arm and stood up, pulling her to her feet roughly
"Oh... ahh.... master!" she pleaded in surprise.
"Perhaps you should have the coffee, Miss Lamesa."
"It is for you --"
Hamilton pushed her backwards and slapped her, hard. "You are very anxious to have me drink the coffee now. Why is that?"
"I was told to serve you, master... it is...it is something that is done... that is all," she said, holding her sore cheek.
Hamilton grabbed her hard by the hair. "You will kneel and drink it, slave."
"Please... please, master... no... I will be beaten, it is forbidden for slaves."
"I don't believe that. There is something in the coffee isn't there?"
Hamilton held her tightly by the hair and dragged her towards his sea chest. He kicked it open with his foot and reached in, pulling out a length of rope. He quickly wrapped it around her wrists, looping the coarse hemp multiple times up her arm before wrapping it around her waist and tying it off around her ankles. A linen napkin was used as a gag.
Hamilton left her bound and gagged in the corner and went to the door. There were a few people slowly walking across the interior courtyard, courtiers, and a pair of female Janissaries, but none seemed to notice or care as Hamilton stepped out of his room and quickly walked to Wray's.
Hamilton didn't bother to knock, he opened the door and saw his friend, alone and sleeping on the low bed, one arm dangling on the floor. Wray's clothes were in disarray and it was not hard to guess what he had been doing before drinking the coffee. Hamilton returned to his room.
Lamesa looked up in fear and shook her head. Hamilton closed the door quietly. He reached down and pulled her up by the hair and dragged her to the middle of the room, forcing her down to her hands and knees. He quickly unbuckled his belt at swung hard at the beautiful slave's tender ass.
"Mmmmmm!" Lamesa pleaded through the gag as he used the belt over and over.
"Perhaps I should take you to that Pearl Room, slave." Hamilton tossed the belt down and pulled her up to her knees. "In my country they sometimes brand those who try to lie and cheat... do they brand slaves in this Pearl Room?"
Lamesa nodded slowly, her eyes wide with fear. Hamilton reached down and pulled off the gag.
"Please, master! If I am damaged I will be sold!"
Hamilton unbuttoned his breeches and pulled them down. His cock, hard and erect, was pressed to her face. Lamesa responded at once, opening her mouth and taking the shaft deep into her throat. She looked up at him, her eyes pleading, as he grabbed her head and slammed her back and forth, fucking her face hard. Lamesa began to suck harder, her tongue sliding over and around his cock as her head as was pushed and pulled back and forth. She soon tasted precum. Hamilton slammed his cock in deep with each thrust as the pleasure grew, a pleasure that was more than simply a forced blow job, it was the pleasure that came from using a sex slave.
Lamesa felt the cum spurt into her mouth as Hamilton pressed her close. She concentrated on breathing through her nose, on swallowing and not gagging, as the cock was pressed deep in her throat. At last Hamilton pushed her back and down on the floor.
"What were you supposed to do?" He asked her as fixed his pants.
"Please, please, master, I will be whipped."
"You're already going to be whipped for failing. Do you want to be whipped by me first? Now tell me, slave, what were you supposed to do?"
"I.. you would sleep with the coffee. Then I would look for papers in your trunk. And then..."
"Then I would undress and be with you in the bed. Please, master, that is all!"
Hamilton paused for a moment then he reached down. He pulled her to her feet and untied her. "There are no papers of significance. A letter for the Bey, several de***********ions of Tunis from others in the Royal Navy, a Guide to the Turk recommended by the Admiralty, and two novels. Nothing else. I wouldn't be stupid enough to arrive on this shore and put myself into the power of the Bey with secret documents."
"Yes. Yes, master."
"Go. Tell them whatever you wish. If I see you again you will be whipped."
"Yes, thank you, thank you, master."
Lamesa scurried out of the room.
Hamilton was dressed before dawn. He went out and knocked on Wray's door to find his friend only then stirring. Twenty minutes later both were both walking slowly around the colonnade around the courtyard. A few of the female Janissaries were standing together.
"I had a bit of hellion yesterday, Edward," Wray said apologetically. "I fear I spliced the mainbrace with far too much zeal."
"I've seen you drop your rum, my friend, but you faced an unequal foe this time. The coffee was spiked," Hamilton said, keeping his expression neutral and his voice conversational. "We were expecting them to go through our baggage and that was their method."
"A pretty soft method it was," Wray muttered. "I apologize, Edward. I will endeavor to be on guard the next time."
"No worries. I suspect there will not be another attempt in this fashion. I sent my serving slave out with a wallop."
"I must commend your devotion to duty, Edward," Wray laughed. "I fear my desires weathered strict diplomatic protocols."
Hamilton looked at Wray and then laughed. "Oh, I took my liberties before I sent her away."
"Aye, I noted my little darling had lash marks. She mentioned an Earl's Room."
"A Pearl Room." Hamilton nodded as a pair of elaborately dressed courtiers passed through the courtyard. "We can speculate on that place later. I think we should stay out of the rooms and give them opportunity to go through our baggage in more conventional manners."
Nasira arrived with two other female Janissaries. She wore the same wide Turkish garb, but without a layer of silk across her face. "You are to speak with the Wazir us-Shura."
Nasira lead them outside and across the parade grounds towards the palace, the largest building inside the fort. Entering through a wide arched doorway they passed down a hall with marble floors and detailed mosaic tiles. Janissaries, these all male, and each holding a large battle axe, stood at attention every few yards. The two officers waited patiently, their cocked hats tucked under their arms, before the inner door creaked open and they stepped inside with Nasira.
The throne room was what they had expected, with a high dais on one end, a throng of civilians lined along the right and a two dozen soldiers standing ready at various points. They had not expected to see a ship inside the great chamber. The ship, or rather the upper structure of a brig sloop, had been built inside the vast chamber. Shrouds and braces and stays stretched out from both masts, the entire suite of standing and running rigging was in place, the sails neatly furled along the yard arms. Hamilton and Wray both stared at the half ship, until Nasira shifted her sword noisily and they turned to face the throne.
"Well, I like the rake of her masts and she's sailing trim, but the walls might deaden her way," Wray whispered sarcastically.
Hamilton shook his head almost imperceptibly. Both men followed Nasira until they were before the dais. The officers bowed.
Nasira spoke in Turkish. The thin man on the throne was less elaborately dressed than the others and the only person in the room who was remotely casual. He leaned on one arm and motioned with the other. He looked exceedingly bored.
"You may speak now," Nasira said.
"I am Lieutenant Edward Hamilton and this is Lieutenant James Wray, proud member of His Britannic Majesty's service. We bring greeting from our government and King to your country," Hamilton tried to speak loudly and clearly. "We are pleased, humbled and most honored to be of whatever small assistance we can be to your naval forces."
Nasira translated. She listened to the response and repeated it in English. "The Grand Vizier says, I am the representative of his most pious Lord of Tunis and the surrounding waterways and lands, under the domain of the great Sultan and that you are to assist the Wazir al-Bahr, the Vizier of the Sea, with his..." Nasira hesitated. "Shit."
"Shit?" Hamilton said with surprise. He quickly recovered. "Please tell the esteemed Grand Vizier of the pious Lord of Tunis that we are proud to... proud to be... of... assistance."
Hamilton stammered as the Wazir us-Shura had stood up and walked behind the throne, followed, in military precision, by the civilians courtiers and soldiers. The door into the throne room opened and even the soldiers stationed out in the hall joined the exodus. In a few minutes the room was empty except for the two English officers and the female Janissary.
"That went faster than I expected," Wray said, as he walked over for a better look at the deck and masts.
"We should wait a moment, James," Hamilton cautioned. He looked at Nasira. "Did I give some inappropriate response?"
"No," Nasira said. "The Wazir us-Shura is one of the most important men around the Pasha-Bey. He is not an ally of Massih Bey."
"I gathered as much. So now do we just wait for the Constance to return?"
A side door opened and eight women came in. All wore short jackets and half trousers made in an ornate and feminine imitation of an English midshipmen's uniform. They did not wear shirts and the jackets barely covered their breasts.
A moment later the main door opened a fraction and Pieter Van Schoonhoven rushed inside, breathing hard. "I am late, my apologies, I was waiting for... for..." He pointed at the eight women.
"These are the slaves who work the palanquin," Nasira said.
"And why are they here?" Hamilton asked skeptically. "I trust we are not to teach these women to sail a ship?"
"Exactly that, Lieutenant!" Van Schoonhoven said, finally catching his breath. "Massih Bey, the Vizier of the Sea, et cetera and et cetera here in fair Tunis, yes? He commands that these slaves be taught the arts of proper English sailors!"
"And do we sail this fine sloop about the room and out the door?" Wray asked with a laugh.
"This is to merely to teach them how to work the sails, Lieutenant, and then you will demonstrate for his eminence their skills in an actual ship that has been built to these exact lines."
"And will that fine vessel have a hull?"
"My dear, Lieutenant Wray, yes, yes of course. A fine ship to sail el-Bahirah!"
"The Lake of Tunis," Nasira translated. The city was built on an isthmus between two salt lakes. The far shore of one lake was pierced by an ancient canal that lead to the Mediterranean.
"This is a fool's errand!" Hamilton yelled. "I could sail a sloop like this with a handful of experienced seamen, but, with this flummery it is an impossible and pointless task!"
"Lieutenant Hamilton," Van Schoonhoven said very seriously. "As I am sure you are very much aware, yes, the port of Tunis is on what is, by any normal definition a large lake. Simply sail these beauties around a few times while the Bey watches, hmm, and has his cock yanked by some delightful morsel. Flummery it is, indeed, unless his esteemed elderly brother the Pasha-Bey dies and he sits on the throne. It would take very little for Massih Bey's attention to be lured to the French cause." Van Schoonhoven smiled broadly at the women and then added, "Is this a fool's errand? Yes, of course! And we must keep that fool on the side of English."
Hamilton looked at Wray and sighed. "I'll need a larger crew."
"That can be arranged, yes, now, let me tell you who you have gentleman! These are all highly trained slaves, gentleman, yes? They have long grown accustomed to their station in life and will obey your commands. All of your commands, yes? Do you see gentleman? The use of the lash is at your discretion of course." Van Schoonhoven walked to one end of the line where it was apparent the first two were twins. "This is Almas, the Diamond, and her sister, Akouta, which means the Emerald. This pair of lovely, bed warming playthings were taken from the fishing village on the shores of Sicily."
Hamilton and Wray stood and watched very carefully. As did Nasira.
"This is Rana, the Beautiful Sight," Van Schoonhoven said, now standing next to a blonde slave. "She was on a Danish merchant ship, yes, until fate lead her to this life of service. Poor girl and yet, oh yes, I assure you she is one for the sheets."
"When were they all taken by the Turks?" Wray asked.
"I have been a slave for five years, master," Rana said in English with a light accent and a quiet voice.
"The story is about the same for all of these lovelies. Here is Jameela the Graceful Beauty. From Crete, I believe. Yes? Yes, indeed. And this Spanish beauty is Bayna with the Tender Body. Oh, and this dark skinned body is Nashwa, the Intoxicating Perfume. She was purchased in Egypt and delivered directly to the Bey's bed." Van Schoonhoven reached around and cupped Nashwa's breasts, before moving on. "Here is Hayfa, the Slender Beauty, also a Spaniard. And last, Samira, also known as the Fuckable, yes, that she is, oh yes! This slave was taken from an English ship."
"What? That is an outrage!" Wray yelled. "Release her at once!"
"No, James." Hamilton cautioned. "We are not here for that. Our orders are clear, we are to assist the Pasha-Bey of Tunis. We are not to look for opportunities to free prisoners."
"But she's English!"
"And your Admiralty is wise, yes," the Dutchman pressed his body against Samira's, reaching around sliding his hand down her body and over her mound. "Though, perhaps, after a successful conclusion of your endeavor the very honorable Massih Bey could grant, hmm, special requests?"
Wray was not happy, but he nodded.
"I am to assist you in maintaining order among these slaves," Nasira added.
"Indeed and that will be an easy task. So, if you will excuse me, gentleman," Van Schoonhoven said, his cock clearly hard. "I will be taking a fast visit to the, yes, to the Pearl Room, before attending to my duties."
And with that the Dutchman gone.
"Do these women understand English?" Hamilton asked Nasira.
The slaves all nodded and said, "Yes, master."
"This has planned for some time," Nasira said.
"I will freely confess they are the finest lot of fresh middies I've seen," Wray said.
"And we should treat them like that. Difficult as that might be." Hamilton took off his cocked hat and set it down before addressing the slaves.
"All right," Hamilton yelled out. "The first thing you will do is to climb up to the masthead. I will do it myself, it is not difficult."
The slaves nodded and muttered, "Yes, master."
Hamilton stepped over to the deck and went to the mainmast shrouds. He quickly climbed the ratlines until he was just below the masthead, the flat platform just above the main yards where the main mast was joined to the main top masts. From there he used the futtock shrouds, the web of ropes which went around the outside of the masthead, to reach the platform itself. Like all midshipmen did at first, the women looked in horror as Hamilton was nearly horizontal for a moment, while fifty feet above the deck, before he climbed over and stepped up on the masthead.
"Now, you can use the lubber's hole to reach the top," Hamilton shouted. He pointed to an opening in the platform by the main mast. "At first, that is, but later you will use the futtock shrouds like good sailors." He pointed up. "When we are done with this you will climb to the topmast and even higher to the t'gallant mast. And you will use the footropes and go out along the yards, all of them, and we will show you how to handle sail."
Hamilton paused, looking down at the floor, and, although he had only done it once before, he reached out for a backstay and stepped off the platform moving hand over hand down the line to the deck. He pressed his hands against his pants and then put them behind his back. They hurt like hell.
"Mr. Wray, have them go up to the masthead in pairs."
Wray pointed to the twins. They looked at each other then ran over and climbed up to the top with ease, both even went out along the futtock shrouds.
"Very good," Hamilton yelled. He ordered them down when he saw them looking higher.
The blonde Rana and Jameela were next. Jameela went over slowly, looking back at Rana who simply shook her head. Jameela hesitated but climbed to the shrouds and then to the top through the lubbers hole.
"Get moving, middie!" Wray shouted to Rana.
"No... no...." she shook her head and fell to her knees.
Hamilton glanced at Wray and nodded almost imperceptibly. Rana was left on her knees and Bayna and Nashwa were ordered up next. They walked slowly to the shrouds and climbed equally slowly, Bayna used the futtock shrouds and almost panicked but she made it and stood proudly on the masthead. The Spanish Hayfa and the English Samira were last. Hayfa looked frightened which made Samira stop for a moment, but at last Samira climbed and when she reached the top Hayfa followed.
Hamilton looked at the women as they stood again in a line before him. All of them breathing hard.
"Miss Nasira," he said to the Janissary. "What means do we have for punishment?"
"There are many ways to punish slaves in the Pearl Room."
"Yes. But what about here, something along the lines of a cat?"
Nasira nodded. She walked across the room and took hold of Rana by the wrist, dragging her towards one of the columns that ran around the outside of the chamber. There was an iron ring painted to blend in almost perfectly with the tiling. Nasira pulled it out a few degrees. Rana clearly understood what was happening. She did not try to resist. She took off the jacket and shoes and breeches, leaving herself naked and exposed, then reached up and put her hands on the ring, pushing her ass back and spreading her legs apart.
Nasira took off her hat, letting her red hair fall free. She took a leather flogger from a small wooden chest and looked at Hamilton. "How many?"
"Five lashes for disobedience."
Nasira swung the flogger hard on the slave's ass. Rana stifled a scream and fell forward, but quickly pulled herself back into position. She held back a scream on the second stroke, but on the third she wailed and had to struggle back into position. Nasira reached out and stroked the tender ass and glanced over at Hamilton.
The fourth and fifth lash caused the blonde slave to cry out and sob. Her knees were shaking as she pushed herself back into position after the last lash.
Hamilton reached out, almost before he knew it, and felt Rana's warm ass, now with long lines of welts from the heavy leather tails of the flogger. Then he pulled his hand back.
"Very good, return to the line slave." he pointed to Hayfa. "Now, you. over here.'
"Yes, master," Hayfa said, her eyes wide with fear as she stripped and took hold of the ring.
"Two for hesitating."
Nasira struck the slave's ass twice, in rapid succession. Hayfa screamed out and buckled to her knees but regained her pose.
"Back in line."
Nasira pushed the iron ring back into the wall and put flogger away. Hamilton walked to the line of slaves. He was surprised to see that Rana and Hayfa both remained naked and realized he had not explicitly told them to get dressed. Wray, meanwhile, glanced down over the slave's bodies, then looked away for a moment, before staring at them more.
"We should treat them like ordinary middies?" Wray asked Hamilton with a sly smile.
"Indeed. And... well...I, uh, I think that is all for now, Mr. Wray."
"I think that is a very good idea, Mr. Hamilton."
Nasira looked surprised for a moment but quickly resumed her usual neutral expression. Wray told the naked slaves to pick up their clothes and then dismissed them all.
"Wait!" Wray shouted as they shuffled towards the side door. He pointed to Samira, the English slave. "You! Come here. The rest can go."
"Yes, master," Samira said. She returned to the middle of the room and waited.
"I'd like to find out about... about her circumstances," Wray said to Hamilton. "As in the, uh, the circumstances of her being on a ship --"
"It's alright, James. Take her."
Wray nodded and lead Samira out.
"This is going to be a somewhat distracting business," Hamilton said to Nasira.
The female Janissary smiled.
"I've never seen you do that before," Hamilton said to her.
"I am not sure what you mean." Nasira lied. "Would you like to see the Pearl Room, Mr. Hamilton."
"The Pearl Room? Well, yes, I think right now...that would be most delightful, Miss Nasira."
Nasira lead Hamilton to one side of the large chamber, behind the arched colonnade. The opening that lead below was not covered, but the tiles along the stairs were distorted to give the appearance of a seamless floor. The illusion worked until one was within a few yards. There were narrow steps that lead down to a low ceilinged chamber liberally covered with gold and tiles arranged in elegant geometric patterns.
They moved to the center of the room where there were four small cages, each with a frightened slave. Lamesa cowered in the second cage as Hamilton approached.
"I thought this one was a serving slave," he asked Nasira.
"She is," Nasira said. "But each of the household slaves must spend some times in the cages of the Pearl Room. None escape this duty. In the cages they may simply wait, or they me be ***********ed and used by one of those granted the privileges of the Pearl Room."
"And you are you granted the privilege?"
"This one was spying," Hamilton said, indicating Lamesa. "I'm sure it was under orders of your Pasha-Bey, but, still, I would enjoy using her."
Nasira opened the cage door and pulled Lamesa out. The slave instantly fell to her knees before them. "Not the Pasha-Bey, Mr. Hamilton, this one is the property of Massih Bey. Your baggage was searched on orders of Zahir Fariq bin Mutasir while you were on your detour to the slave markets."
"He is Chavus, I am not sure of the English word. He is one sent directly from Istanbul and while in Tunis he is the Grand Vizier of Pasha-Bey." Nasira brushed her red hair from her face and smiled. "Your English wax seals are not difficult to cut loose with a hot knife."
"Indeed?" Hamilton laughed. "Well, I take it this is not the actual Pearl Room?"
Nasira shook her head. She pulled Lamesa to her feet and pulled her towards one wall. With a push a section opened into a room with walls inlaid with millions of pearls. Hamilton stepped next to Lamesa and pressed his hand to her ass as he looked around.
The room itself was not very large. Rings of various sizes hung from the ceiling and walls, with smaller rings arranged in two rows along the floor. There were wooden poles hanging from chains and other posts held horizontally between double posts. Lengths of chain and silken cord were lined up neatly on a table while a brazier burned in one corner next to a series of brands. Around the walls were pegs with whips and floggers and canes of all sizes and de***********ions.
"I would have expected more to be enjoying this place," Hamilton said.
"Massih Bey has caused... difficulties.... in Tunis. That are not many who would be associated with him."
"And yourself, Miss Nasira? You have no qualms about such associations?"
Nasira didn't answer, she dragged Lamesa towards an ornate wooden box. Inside were a series of soft leather bands. The Janissary carefully ***********ed four and placed them around the slave's wrists and ankles.
"Torturing a slave does not violate your sense of honor, Englishman?" Nasira asked playfully as she tied the leather bands carefully on Lamesa's limbs.
"It should." Hamilton had set down his cocked hat. He took off his jacket as he looked down over the olive skin and small, perfectly shaped breasts of the terrified slave.
"Then to answer your question, Mr. Hamilton: it should."
Nasira gathered a few short lengths of silken cord. They pulled Lamesa to a thin hardwood pole that was suspended from a pair of posts. Nasira bound the slaves arms behind her back and then pushed her under the horizontal pole. The ropes around her wrists were tied to the wood. Her ankles were then tied to a pair of rings in the floor. Nasira places two pair of short wooden splints against Lamesa's knees and bound them in place, forcing her knees straight. The result was that the naked slave had her legs spread wide as she was bent forward at a right angle with her arms back in a painful strappado.
"I really shouldn't do this," Hamilton said, more to himself than anyone else.
"Many have the desire to rule, though not many can command with power," Nasira said. "I see the power to command in you. And more. I see the desire to control."
Hamilton took off his shirt, "And you?"
"I have a taste for control." Nasira began to take off her short Turkish jacket and shirts. She was soon topless, her long red hair flowing over her breasts. Hamilton stared at Nasira, lean and paler than he had imagined, with ample breasts and hard nipples. She smiled at him and added, "though I have made exceptions."
Hamilton also put his hand on Lamesa's ass. The bound slave began to breath faster and kept trying to look back to see what was happening. Hamilton touched Nasira's hand, almost accidently. He looked up at the Janissary and their eyes locked for what seemed, to them, like hours. It was a simple, touching gesture, made across the sweet ass of a tightly bound sex slave.
They pulled their hands away together. Nasira struck first, her hand slapping hard on the slave's tender ass. Hamilton did the same, smacking hard on her soft flesh. They both began to spank, one after another, a rapid volley of painful blows that pushed Lamesa forward again and again, straining her bound arms and adding to her misery.
Lamesa began to cry and then beg and plead in Turkish. Nasira said something to her in her native language which only made the slave cry harder.
"She pleaded for mercy, but this one is a spiteful bitch always reporting to the Bey. I told her as much."
They stopped spanking. Hamilton ran his hand over the warm ass and let his fingers slip along her slit. The slave was frightened and terrified, but she knew what was expected. She began to wiggle her ass and press her cunt into his hand hoping he would fuck her and the torture would end.
Nasira walked to Hamilton and leaned down. She undid the buttons along his breeches and pulled them down. His cock was already rock hard when she took it in her hand. She leaned close, as if she was going to suck, her tongue just flicking lightly over the tip of his shaft. But then she pulled back and stood up.
"What's wrong?" Hamilton said.
"I am forbidden to have cock inside my body."
Hamilton hesitated but then pulled off his shoes and breeches. Nasira slapped the slave and she yelped. The topless Janissary walked over to the wooden box and came back with a pair of small golden chains. At the end of each one was a clasp. Lamesa saw the chains and begged, her body shaking, adding more strain on her arms bound to the pole behind her. Nasira stepped in front of the slave and bent down and opened one of the clasps. She reached out and snapped it onto a nipple. Lamesa cried out. Nasira simply smiled and snapped the other clasp on her other nipple.
"Please, mistress, please...." Lamesa said as tears streamed down her face.
Nasira ignored her. She handed the second identical chain to the naked Lieutenant Hamilton. "I am also a slave."
Hamilton held the clasps in both hands. He looked down at the Janissary's nipples, hard and erect, and then stepped closer and snapped the clasps on each tender nub. Nasira grimaced and then smiled broadly. Hamilton pulled hard on the chain, yanking her close.
"Never?" he asked.
"Never." Nasira, let out a soft cry as her nipples were pulled. She smiles as she leaned in and brushed her lips against his. "That is why this slave is here."
Hamilton took hold of Lamesa's hips. The slave dutifully began to wriggle her hips.
"Take me, master... please," the bound slave begged.
Hamilton slapped her ass, hard. "I'll take you when I damned well want to, slave."
"Yes, yes, master."
Nasira moved to her knees next to the olive skinned beauty. She reached out and took hold of Hamilton's cock and slid the tip up and down against Lamesa's slit. Hamilton held on to the bound woman's hips and he smiled, looking down at the topless Janissary who held his cock tightly.
"Never," Nasira repeated. She held his cock as his tip moved into the slightly damp pussy of the slave and then stood up. Hamilton thrust his cock in deep, his fingers pressing in hard on Lamesa's skin as he fucked her full force.
Nasira walked behind Hamilton and put her arms around him. "You might imagine it is me."
"Oh, I am... oh, I am," Hamilton fucked Lamesa harder and faster as his cock slid in and out of the tight cunt. Lamesa made the right noises, she was a well-trained pleasure slave, but with her arms still bound in the stressful strappado there was not much conviction.
Hamilton slammed in harder as the intense pleasure of fucking a beautiful bound woman took hold. Nasira had slipped off her own pants and boots, and he could feel her thighs and mound against his body as he fucked the bound slave. It was too much. He cock erupted and his cum blasted into the pussy of the helpless Lamesa.
"Your cock must be cleaned," Nasira said as he pulled back.
"I.. I will clean your cock, master," Lamesa said, quietly.
Nasira knelt down and ran her tongue around her cock. Hamilton took a deep breath wanting his cock in her mouth. But Nasira on licked and kissed. Then she stood up.
"Never." Nasira unbound Lamesa and pushed her to her knees. The frightened slave leaned in and cleaned his cock carefully, her eyes looking up at him, as he only looked at Nasira.
The training of the crew continued, on the deck and masts of the half built brig sloop which Wray insisted be called the Ann. On the third day the slave Hayfa had fallen from the main yard but had managed to get by with only a broken arm. She was replaced with a French beauty, taken only the year before, who had been renamed Luloah by her Corsair captures. It meant, the Pearl. Hamilton decided there was no point in teaching the women more than very basic sail handing. Other slaves would be forthcoming, ones who did not speak English, and the eight they trained now would have to be the leaders of the groups assigned various tasks such as working the topsail or simply hauling on a brace from the deck. The ship, the real ship, would have to make do without a bosun, carpenters, coopers, midshipmen, or any real officers other than Hamilton and Wray.
In the end each slave was allowed to wear the short breeches which clung tightly to their ass and thighs, with small wrappings around their hands and feet added after Nasira expressed concern about Massih Bey not wanting his elite slaves developing calluses.
"That's going to just happen!" Wray had said to that, in exasperation. "Every real sailor has calluses!"
"I know." Nasira had replied. Her expression had not changed, although Hamilton couldn't resist shrugging.
"Aye, I wondered." Wray laughed.
Wray himself spent each night with the English slave Samira, whose name before her abduction was Ann Whetherlocke, and who Wray insisted did live up to the meaning of her slave name: the Fuckable. But the other women were used as well by both officers. A routine developed with two breaks during the day during which each man used one or more of the slaves. The Pearl Room was used a few times, but the erotic strain of watching the topless beauties running up and down the shrouds, moving out along the yards or just standing there, usually meant that the officer's cocks didn't want to wait.
Hamilton spent most of each night with Nasira, their naked bodies entwined. Nasira would work his cock well with her hands, a satisfying, if messier approach.
Three weeks after his arrival in Tunis, on a dark night, Hamilton held Nasira and watched the faint glow of torches and lamps from the city shift the shadows over the naked woman's body.
"So why do you know your mother was Russian?" he asked her.
"That is what I have been told by two slaves, once when I was a girl living in the Harem and once when I was a soldier in Cezayir. They said they knew her, and that she had been the wife of a Russian officer who was with child when they had been captured near the end of the war."
"Did they tell you the name of the officer?"
"No. They were young too, only children when they were brought back to Istanbul. Why do you ask?"
"I'm starting to think of you as English."
She pressed he down on his back, sliding up so that his semi-erect cock was between her thighs. It quickly grew hard.
"You would have me dress like a barbarous infidel? With a long plain gown cut down to the show almost all of my breasts?"
"That sounds more French than English, but why not?" He leaned down and licked her breasts.
"That would never be allowed, Edward, by the many rules of my order."
"Well, I would imagine the rules of your order don't include women with muskets now, do they?" Hamilton laughed. "So I think that your rules can be.... oh... did I pinch you?"
"They only created my bulecka as another entertainment," Nasira said as she slid back down him, using the Ottoman word for her company of Janissaries. She was no longer smiling.
"You are very entertaining," Hamilton said, trying to cheer her up. "And a very good soldier. I wouldn't want to be up against you in a saber duel."
Nasira laid still, next to him. "Perhaps they are right. War is not the place for a woman."
"War is not a place for anyone." Hamilton looked at her, his expression now grim. "I remember when I was a midshipman on the Orion during the Glorious First. When Lord Howe ordered our fleet to cut the French line the ship turned, and we moved closer and closer, all the while facing their broadsides. And... well... well, perhaps it is of no importance."
"Tell me Edward."
"I've never told anyone this, not even James." He hesitated. "I was standing next to my best friend, Porter -- I told you about him, he was the middie from Yorkshire -- I asked him a question and he started to answer but then a French shot took off his head. I was talking with him and then... his head was gone and what was left of him toppled over. Two seamen, even before he'd even hit the deck took hold and... they heaved.... heaved him overboard while I stood there gaping." Nasira leaned up to look at him. "And after all these years I keep thinking, not of the good and true friend cut down in his prime, not of the future officer lost to the service, and not even of the fine line with my own mortality, but that... that... I've forgotten what I asked him. How foolish is that?"
Nasira was silent for a minute. "I have never told that I still dream of my first real battle. It was in a wretched town in Rumeli that wouldn't produce their allotment of taxes. The Sanjakbey brought his whole household to see a massacre, but when his first lines were repulsed at the town walls he suddenly had to use his pretty soldiers. It became a siege and so a mine was dug. The Sajakbey was a young fool, the tunnel was always filled with mud, and the enemy knew of it. They waited and dug a countermine. When the last of the waterproof powder casks were being set... right before we were to blow a breach in their walls... they broke in. They seemed to emerge everywhere, from the walls and even the ceiling. From everywhere." Nasira paused. "We fought and we won. I fought and I killed. But when I dream... when I dream of this I can't find my saber and the enemy are coming closer and my hands are down in the mud as I try to find it, and my hands are pulled into the mud, and I see them coming and I try to pull out my hands and I try to look for the saber and..." Nasira's voice trailed out.
"It is not good to speak of these things. Not in this way."
They were quiet the rest of the night although neither slept. Two hours before dawn, as always, Nasira crept out of his room.
The next day thirty six other beautiful female slaves were brought to the training ship. They were taught to do the simple but hard work of hauling on the lines to move the sails and yards. Ten were deemed capable enough while aloft to be added to the small top crews.
And at last, a week after that, Hamilton and Wray were taken down to the quay on el Bahirah, the Lake of Tunis, where a wide range of ships, large and small, were tied close or anchored just off shore.
"There she is gentleman!" Van Schoonhoven pointed to a brig sloop tied to the quay, with mast and rigging identical to the training half-ship, the Ann. "The most pious Massih Bey, Bey al-Mahalla, Wazir al-Bahr, yes, has named this fine vessel The Most Delicate Flower."
Nasira, dressed in her full uniform of colorful clothes, her saber in its jeweled scabbard, her heavy musket on her back, looked slowly over at the Dutchman and said, "The name is Cunt."
"The Cunt?" Wray said. "Bloody hell!"
"Of course, gentleman," Van Schoonhoven said with a broad smile. "And the most pious Massih Bey, the heir to throne of this fine, fine nation, yes? He is watching these proceedings from his palace and so we will be very happy with the name of his fine, fine ship."
"I'm not sailing on any bloody ship named the bloody Cunt!"
"Lieutenant, yes, of course your enthusiasm is most --"
"Enough!" Hamilton snapped. "We can devise a new translation later. First, however, I insist that we be allowed to inspect the vessel whether or not that offends his pious majesty."
The two naval officers, trailed by Van Schoonhoven and Nasira walked slowly through the ship inspecting from the masthead too deep in the hold. They were both impressed by the solid work. They were, however, surprised that there were six brass 12-pounders in an enclosed gun deck.
"We never drilled these women to fire guns," Hamilton said.
"I most seriously doubt that will be necessary, my dear fellow." Van Schoonhoven leaned in. "You'll have food and water for no more than three days, hm, perhaps, enough powder and shot to fire each gun twice."
"He thinks we're going to steal the ship?" Wray said with a laugh.
"I suspect he doesn't want his trained slaves to make a run for Sicily," Hamilton said.
"The women? Hah. Mr. Wray is correct, the ship is what he cares about. Women are cheap when you're the Vizier of the Sea with three dozen war galleys, always primed to raid for the coasts for more, yes?"
An hour after sunset Hamilton walked along the battlement of Massih Bey's fortress, the city of Tunis arrayed before him in the moonlight. The mehterhane, a military band, was playing on the parade ground and the laughter of women filtered from the windows. Nasira had spent the afternoon with her company, marching and drilling with muskets. He hadn't see her after sunset, which was unusual, but was very pleased when she walked out along the battlement. She dismissed the soldiers around her, and they were alone.
"So, now that we are far from the many pretty ears of Massih Bey and the Grand Vizier and the Pasha-Bey, can you tell me, Miss Nasira, about a man who wants a ship with a crew of sex slaves?" Hamilton asked, looking very correct for a somewhat public setting, or at least trying to.
"Massih Bey is a most pious ruler, wise and far sighted. There were great omens heralding his birth. As a baby he spoke the Koran. As a child he won battles and personally slew thousands of our enemies. He has lead fleets across the world. Infidels across the world tremble at the merest mention of his name and beg to give tribute to stay his wrath."
"Yes. I was afraid of that."
Nasira smiled. Her red hair was visible under the high crowned kalpak on her head. "He is worse than a fool, he is an embarrassment."
"Is that why we never see him?"
"He remains under the protection of the Kocek Kapikulu," she said, meaning the female Janissaries. "He finds women to be far more trustworthy."
Hamilton nodded. Then he laughed. He quickly stifled that with a forced cough. Hamilton looked out along the waters of el-Bahira, the Lake of Tunis, where the lights of the many lamps, candles and fires throughout the city were reflected on the wave tops. The Rose, the English name Hamilton and Wray had agreed to use for the brig-sloop, sat at anchor now, a few hundred yards from the quay.
"I would like you to come with me," he said, suddenly.
"If the great Massih Bey feels you need protection he will send me with you."
"Not on the ship. I mean --"
"I know what you mean, Edward." Nasira maintained an impassive expression but Hamilton thought that in the twilight he saw a trace of embarrassment. "Would you have me in gowns held wide with barrel staves while drinking tea and eating cake with the other Christian wives?"
"Well. I, uh, I think you would... you would look very nice."
"And when you went to sea? I would visit these infidel wives and talk about the local vicar or my service as a Ghazi?"
"Well...I, suppose... uh..."
"Have you forgotten that I am forbidden to have a man inside me?"
"Well..." He looked at her and saw her smiling. "I have indeed noticed that quality about you, Miss Nasira."
"You could come with me to Istanbul."
"They could give you a ship and I could fight at your side as we raid the infidels. Many slaves would be ours."
"There is an appeal to that," Hamilton said with a laugh. Then he looked out at the harbor and nodded. "But I see your point."
They both turned as the gates slowly opened with a loud groan. There was a loud grinding which Hamilton had come to recognize, the combined clink of heavy chains as a group of slaves was moved about the city. Several horsemen came in first, followed by a line of thirty women chained together. Merchants and guards kept the women moving as they were directed across the parade ground to the outbuilding.
The women cried and pleaded in multiple languages, but except for the occasional snap of a short whip, there was no mercy. In the dim light it was difficult to see what they looked like, although if nothing else Massih Bey owned only beautiful women.
"I may not be able to have a man inside me, Edward, and if the slaves on your ship have become tedious then perhaps you should buy your own."
Hamilton looked at her and said, "What? Oh, I can't, I can't do anything like that."
"You are not in England." Nasira said quietly. She put the silk across her face and made her way off the battlement, yelling orders to the guards to return to their posts.
Hamilton waited a few minutes and then made his way down the stairs, touching his hat to the handful of Kocek Kapikulu that he passed. He could hear the chains being taken off the new slaves as he stepped inside. Wray, in breeches and an shirt leaned against the wall outside his room with his arm around a naked Samira as he watched the slaves in the courtyard.
"You should button your breeches, James, it is rather unseemly in such polite company," Hamilton said jokingly.
"Of course, your lordship." Wray said as he closed the buttons. Samira giggled.
"I think we will actually set sail tomorrow." Hamilton kept his eyes on the women, all with long dark hair, as they were pushed with the flat of a sword to line up along the center of the courtyard.
"Across the great sea of this lake? Oh, I look forward to it, and can only pray the great waves will not make me seasick," Wray said with a grin. "Now, if you will excuse me, your grand lordship, I want to fuck this slave."
Hamilton laughed as Wray took his slave back inside his room. Hamilton watched the blonde Rana as she walked pass on some assignment with a tray of the white cheese favored by the Ottomans. He ignored her and stepped into the courtyard. Hamilton recognized a merchant from the slave auction Van Schoonhoven had shown them on their first day in Tunis. The man glanced his way and then suddenly nodded his head enthusiastically. One of the new women was brought forward. The merchant took her and pushed her towards Hamilton. He said things in Turkish while the women pleaded in Italian and Hamilton understood none of it. But she frantically pointed to another slave. The merchant looked at Hamilton, then nodded and pulled that slave over as well.
Hamilton looked at the two naked women in the soft light of the many lamps along the walls. He noticed they both seemed relieved to be standing next to a European naval officer. The merchant began to speak and it took a moment for him to realize what he meant. Hamilton slowly pulled out a gold guinea and handed it over. He only had a few, not enough, he feared, to purchase two slaves. Yet the merchant was overjoyed.
Hamilton indicated for his slaves to follow him. His room was too small and, though he was tempted, he didn't want to go all the way over to the Pearl Room. There was a small dining hall on the second floor, one built, as was everything inside Massih Bey's fortress, to be used with beautiful sex slaves.
"Grazie! Grazie!" the two women said as he lead them inside.
"I am Edward Hamilton. English."
"Captain? No, not exactly." He still smiled at them as he discovered that their names were Margherita and Christina. They were not sisters but friends, from Genoa. His eyes kept lingering over their bodies, but they remained so happy about their apparent rescue they didn't mind. Both woman had long dark hair, brown eyes, and delicious lips. Margherita had full breasts and a softer body than the more petite Christina.
The dining hall had a series of low tables and couches, and a pair of large chandeliers which emitted a warm glow around the room. The only windows were placed high and covered with slatted wood. The room, like the furniture, was highly ornate, although with subtle improvements made at the behest of Massih Bey.
Hamilton set down his hat and jacket on a chair and walked over to one of the walls. There were small bottles of Raki on the low table. He picked one up and took a long drink. Christina said something in Italian and then picked up his jacket and put it on.
"No." Hamilton said, firmly. "Put that down."
The women froze. Hamilton repeated the order and stepped closer. Despite the language difference Christina understood and took it off.
"Good. Now slaves, I want you both to come over here."
They shook their heads, both realizing what he meant by 'slave.'
Hamilton slid his hand against the wall until he found two of the many iron rings that blended seamlessly in with the geometric pattern. He pulled them out slightly and motioned for the women to approach.
Christina suddenly turned and ran for the door. Hamilton had already locked it.
"Do you wish to go back out there and be a harem slave? Get over here! Now!"
Both women pleaded, but they understood his angry motions. They slowly stepped toward him, staying close together. There were thin strands of silken cord scattered around the room. Hamilton picked up one and stepped forward to grab Christina by the wrists. He pulled her against the wall and quickly wound the cord around her wrists and then slid the other end up through one of the iron rings. Christina shook her head and begged but it was too late; she would bound tightly against the wall, her hands above her head.
Hamilton then looked at Margherita. He had deliberately gone after Christina first as she seemed more prone to resist. He spoke calmly as he walked towards the full breasted slave. Margherita could only imagine what he was saying but she knew there was no escape. She meekly stood in her place and let him bind her hands. He walked her back to the second iron ring and in a moment she was bound next to her friend.
Hamilton stood between them, looking back and forth, as his hands slid over their bodies. Margherita had full breasts and the fingers of his right hand pressed into her soft flesh as his left hand cupped the small globes of the petite Christina. Both women looked at him, no longer trying to plead. He slid his hands lower, moving over Christina's taut belly and the softer one of Margherita.
Christina kicked out. It wasn't an effective kick, but it made Hamilton step back. He cursed and then walked across the room to a chest of deep brown wood, from which he pulled out a flogger. Of course he would have used it anyway, but the slaves didn't know that. They shrieked and begged, both of them pulling up on the ropes and scrapping the feet against the wall.
Hamilton snapped the flogger against Christina, the leather tails biting into her breasts and torso and hips as he struck again and again. They were soft blows, he didn't want to give his new slaves raw streaks just yet, but Italian slave cried out with each blow and begged forgiveness.
He stopped flogging and then leaned close to Christina, pressing his bulge against her thighs. He kissed her. Christina struggled at first but gave up, letting him kiss her. "You're a pretty one," he said calmly, smiling lightly. "And you are my slave."
Christina looked at him, her face filled with fear.
Hamilton stepped back and went to Margherita. She cried out even before he swung the flogger. He liked watching her breasts bounce back and forth, up, and down, as she struggled with each snap, so he kept his attention there, swinging the flogger across her breasts over and over.
Hamilton tossed down the flogger and took off his shirt. He carefully unbuttoned his breeches, then pulled off his shoes. Naked, he stood between the two slaves. His hands moved to their cunts. Both women froze, their eyes locked on him as he explored their bodies. Both so beautiful and yet both so different. Margherita had soft thighs that pressed against the sides of his hand as his fingers probed around her slit. Christina's thighs were smaller but almost all muscle. He looked from one to the other and them pressed a finger up into their cunts.
He knew it was just a physical reaction. Both women now hated him, and who could blame them? But Margherita was wet first. That made his choice easy.
Hamilton pulled his hands back and walked in front of the voluptuous slave. He squeezed her breasts, letting his fingers moved over her soft flesh until he held just her nipples between two fingers. He pulled lightly and leaned down, licking around one nipple, then sliding his lips over to lick the other. Margherita was breathing hard, from fear, when he stood up and pressed his cock against her inner thigh.
He stepped back and slapped her inner thighs. "Wide! Spread them wide, slave!"
Margherita spread her legs as she leaned as back against the wall as she could. She cried out and with one hand gripped tightly on the rope binding her wrists to the iron ring. Hamilton stepped between her legs and placed his cock on her cunt. The tip was just inside when he reached around and took a firm grip of her ass. Pulling her hips up and out he slammed his cock deep inside and began to fuck the new slave.
Margherita let out a single cry as he took her, but then didn't resist as he pressed her back with more force. He shifted his grip to the top of her thighs and pulled her legs close around his waist as his cock rammed her with deep thrusts. Margherita began to respond, slightly, though whether it was in response to a man inside her or just because she thought that was expected he didn't know or care.
"You're a fine fucking slave," he muttered. "A most fine fucking slave!" Hamilton felt the pressure from his cock spread throughout his body as he reached orgasm. He pulled her thighs up higher and drove himself into her as his cum filled her tight cunt.
Hamilton let go and stepped back. Margherita was hanging limply from the chains. She looked at him, her face filled with fear and her cheeks stained by tears. Hamilton drained a small bottle of Raki and smiled at Christina. The petite slave's eyes were locked on his glistening cock. He walked across the room pulled a single golden chain with nipple clamps from the wooden chest. He stepped toward Christina and dangled it in front of her. "You know what this is?" She nodded and he laughed. "You're just agreeing to everything, aren't you slave? That's good."
He ran his fingers down on breast and pulled on her nipple, teasing it into a hard erection. Christina whimpered, now realizing what the clasps on each end of the chain was for. Hamilton teased her other nipple and then quickly snapped both clamps in place. The slave cried out as the tight springs contracted the metal on her tender nipples. She began to pull herself up on the rope but there was nowhere to go.
"Not yet wet enough are we, hm?" He said to her as he slid his hand down to her pussy. She only looked at him, breathing hard from the pain on her breasts.
Hamilton walked over to Margherita and reached up. There was a cylindrical latch where the ring was bolted to the wall. It rotated and the ring came free. Margherita was surprised but did nothing except obey as he pulled on the ring and dragged her in front of her friend's struggling body and then forced her to her knees.
"I want you to lick her cunt, slave," Hamilton said. He had Margherita by the hair and pushed her face between Christina's thighs. "Lick! Lick!"
Hamilton picked up the flogger. Margherita, her body not moving, slowly pressed her tongue against the other slave's pussy. Hamilton swung hard with the flogger, snapping it across the kneeling slave's back. Margherita began to lick with more force, her tongue pressing up along the slit and clit of the other slave. Hamilton kept flogging her. He then reached over and pulled on the golden chain. Christina cried out as her nipples were pulled. Hamilton's cock began to harden once more.
Hamilton pulled Margherita away. "Sit over there!" The slave, her hands still bound, meekly complied, and went to sit in front of a low couch.
He pushed Christina's legs apart and slid his cock up inside her. He pressed her against the wall, his cock deep in her cunt, and reached up to remove the nipple clamps. The slave breathed deeply with relief at that and suddenly seemed to noticed that she was being fucked. Hamilton smiled and took hold of her hips, pressing himself into her again and again, until his cock exploded once more.
When he was done he released the iron ring holding Christina and ordered her to sit by Margherita. Hamilton reached for another bottle of raki and stood, watching them.
The door to the room opened and Nasira stepped inside. She was wearing her pants and soldier's vest, but nothing else. Her breasts bounced as she walked over to Hamilton.
"You paid enough for six slaves," Nasira said with a slight laugh. "I hope these two are worth it."
Hamilton nodded glumly, reaching for a bottle of raki only to find it empty. He threw it across the room.
"You have the power to command and the desire for control," Nasira said, reaching out for him.
"I've become a monster," he said, flatly.
"These slaves have been used with a strong passion. That is what they are for."
"I'd rather have you."
"I know." She put her hand on his semi-erect cock. "A slave should clean your cock."
Hamilton nodded, but before he could retrieve one of the two Italian slaves Nasira fell to her knees. Her mouth slid over his cock, her tongue pressing up along the shaft as she gently cleaned him. Then she stood up.
Hamilton looked at her in surprise and pleasure, not saying anything.
"Do you want these two slaves in your room?" she asked, after a moment.
"No. You can have them taken below. Put them in the cages with the others household slaves."
The next day Hamilton stepped out along the quarterdeck of the Rose. He looked out across the city, the mountains, and fortifications around the harbor as he felt the wind. It was early morning and the reflected sunlight glinted along the tops of the waves. It was a fine day for sailing.
"My compliments to Mr. Wray," Hamilton said to Jameela when the wind shifted. "At his pleasure we can weigh anchor."
"Aye, sir," the delicate woman said in her accented English as she ran forward.
Below deck, near the bow, twenty women strained as they worked the capstan. It was hard work and already a warm morning so all were naked as they pressed against the capstan bars. The thick hemp hawser slowly moved, streaming water, as the anchor began to lift from the bottom. Wray shouted and the slaves pushing against the wooden levers began to sing "Spanish Ladies," or they tried to as none of the ones at the capstan spoke English. Wray himself kept yelling "Heave lads!"
Hamilton held the ship's wheel as the hawser tightened and the Rose slowly turned to the wind.
"Miss Samira and Miss Jameela hold her steady," Hamilton said, he stepped away and let the two slaves take charge of the large wheel. Both slaves wore short, open jackets but no shirts, and even a small gust of wind brought their breasts into view.
The anchor was brought up and secured, and then Wray, smiling broadly, came up to the quarterdeck.
"Square away, if you will, Mr. Wray, and set courses."
"Courses and squared away. Aye aye, sir."
Wray ordered two groups of slaves aloft. The twins Almas and Akouta lead the women who moved up and out along the main yard, holding tightly as they moved out with their feet on the footropes, while Bayna and Luloah did the same with a team of slaves that went aloft to the mizzen yard. On deck, Rana, and Nashwa repeated commands as the slaves in their groups took hold of the braces.
The Rose was soon gliding across the Lake of Tunis, slowly, towards the mountains north of the city.
"Very good, James," Hamilton said quietly. "Now, let us hope the Bey enjoys the entertainment."
"I know I will, sir." Wray laughed.
"Indeed. It is an intriguing sight. Now, if you would, Mr. Wray, you can set the tops'ls." Hamilton said.
"Tops'ls. Aye aye, sir."
Hamilton stood on the quarterdeck as the topsails came down and with a familiar crack snapped as they took hold of the wind. He stood with his hands behind his back, trying to look as imperturbable as Duckworth did on the deck of the Orion at the battle of the Glorious First of June, when iron and lead filled the air as they had cut across the French line.
Under the mainmast Wray yelled at one group of women and then the next, using the same voice he would have used on any ship of His Britannic Majesty's service. Hamilton managed a smile. Captain Duckworth only had to contend with the cannon fire of French sail-of-the-line, while he was dealing with a ship of topless sex slaves.
Six hours later they were anchored in the calm waters of el-Bahira several hundred yards from the Halq al Wadi, on the far side of the lake from the city of Tunis and near the narrow canal that lead to the Mediterranean Sea. There were the usual crowded buildings of shops and apartments on shore, a marketplace and small quay, all in the shadow of the towering fortifications that guarded the narrow canal.
Wray had gone below with his Samira, who he had taken to calling by her given name, Ann, and the French slave Luloah. Hamilton leaned against the taffrail at the stern, looking over the lake at the small boats as they moved across the water with different levels of skill. Suddenly feeling foolish standing so calmly on the deck of an anchored brig-sloop with a crew of beautiful women, Hamilton made his way below. He glanced at the blonde Rana. She was tempting for a quick snack, but there was paperwork. No matter what the circumstances in any part of the world there was no escaping the ship's books.
He was quietly looking through the log when he heard a cry from the deck, "Beet A Loy!"
Hamilton recognized Nashwa's voice as he ran back on deck. A galliot, one of the smaller war galleys was approaching slowly using only it's tall, triangular lateen sail. On the bow stood an elegantly dressed and very well armed female Janissary.
"Hello Edward," Nasira said, after she was rowed over and brought onboard. Other boats from the war galley had brought casks of fresh water and other supplies which were, slowly, being heaved up to the deck with ropes and tackle hanging from the main yard.
"Miss Nasira," Hamilton said, touching his hat. "I have yet to hear any news of how this little voyage is playing out with the Bey."
"Exceptionally well, Captain Hamilton. The most pious Massih Bey has been observing from his palace in the city with delight. Now he will be moving to take residence in the Kasbah."
Nasira indicated the largest fortification along the canal. "He wishes to see how well his ship of slaves performs in the sea. You are to proceed through the canal as soon as the supplies are loaded."
"That may take some time." On deck the women were working hard, but it was difficult to hoist up the heavy barrels and then swing them over for the hold. Wray was below making sure everything was loaded correctly. "It is only the early afternoon, but this crew is not familiar with open waters. I recommend we wait until they are rested. Perhaps tomorrow if the winds are right."
"The most wise Massih Bey is very insistent that you do this now."
"Yes. I am sure he would be." Hamilton sighed. "However, I do absolutely refuse to go anywhere without a pilot. I have been fortunate thus far with only some navigational notes, but I will not take this ship through the canal without an experienced pilot."
"That has been anticipated. You will be supplied with an excellent pilot."
Hamilton nodded. He looked up at the sky, trying to judge the weather. Then he stopped. "You?"
"Indeed, Captain. I will be your pilot."
"You are a woman of many talents."
"It is a pity there is one talent I have yet to enjoy fully."
Before Nasira could respond Wray was running up on deck. "If I may, Captain."
"Yes, Mr. Wray."
"Miss Nasira," Wray said as he touched his hat. "Captain, the casks are loading unbalanced! I have been trying to tell the women they can't just put them wherever they please, but its bloody hard when most don't speak bloody English. I could use help from those hands on the galley, sir."
"I considered that, Mr. Wray. You are right of course, and on a normal ship a few experienced hands would greatly speed the provisioning. However... however, considering the nature of our crew, I am not sure it would be wise to bring over such men. You will have to make do with what you have."
"Aye aye, sir."
"How much longer, do you think?"
"Two hours, sir. Just in time for a nice meal."
"I'm afraid not. We are heading out through the canal."
"Only for the night," Nasira said. "Tomorrow you will have your great feast, Mr. Wray."
"Aye aye, sir. And good day Ma'am," Wray nodded and went below.
"I don't suppose there is any particular reason for this sudden change?" Hamilton asked.
"The wisdom of Massih Bey is impenetrable to this simple soldier."
Hamilton nodded absently. "While we have the time we should discuss the details of the piloting. The channel does not draw much, I saw that when the Constance brought us through, and I am sure there are hazards."
Nasira nodded and followed him below. She closed the door as he sat down behind the small table. There were ships and boats passing visible in the great window built into the stern, but few were moving close now that the war galliots was anchored nearby.
"It is good to see you," Hamilton said. "I wasn't sure I would once we started actually sailing around the lake."
Nasira removed the light cloth from her face and smiled. "Massih Bey watches from a concealed window with a large telescope. He has always enjoyed seeing his slaves do the work of men."
"It strikes me that it would be easier to just keep the slaves close and fuck them."
Nasira walked over to Hamilton and knelt down. "Perhaps he gets tired of that with so many slaves to fuck?"
"I can think of one slave I would like to fuck," he said, leaning down and running his hand over her chest.
Nasira slowly unbuttoned her shirt, just enough to allow his hand to slide in and caress her breasts.
"This sudden desire to see the Mediterranean puzzles me though," Hamilton said quietly. "Does he now worry that the slaves will take over the ship and escape?"
"He trusts you, Edward."
"I suspect he trusts his war galleys more." Hamilton kissed her forehead and then stood up. He looked his hands behind his back and looked out along the waters of el Bahirah. "Or is that too ludicrous a thought, hm?"
"I learned long ago not to question the whims of those with great power." She stood up and buttoned her shirt back up. "There will be ships outside the channel. There always are. I have no doubt that some captain will have orders to make sure the crew cannot flee."
"Of course." Hamilton nodded. "The sea can be tricky and I do not want to be caught on a lee shore with damage from a sudden storm. I will require additional supplies. More canvas, spars. No great quantities. I am sure the galliot can spare what I need."
"I will see to it, Captain."
Hamilton turned back and stepped very close to the Janissary. "Well then, you can arrange that and I will see you when we are ready to make sail."
Nasira nodded and returned the silk across her face. She left the cabin. Hamilton stood, looking around the small room as he heard her issuing orders in Turkish.
"Damn," Hamilton said to himself. He sat down, but only for a moment, then stood and looked out again. He needed to think. He needed a clear mind to think.
"Stewart!" Hamilton yelled. Nothing happened and he yelled again.
There was a knock and the blonde Rana looked in. "Yes, Captain?"
"Come inside, slave."
Rana nodded and stepped in, closing the door. She had never gotten over the apprehension from her flogging on the first day with the training ship, but she still obeyed.
"Yes, master," she said submissively.
"Yes, master." Rana took off her jacket and the short breeches, and then began to unwind the wrappings on her hands.
"I don't care about that. Lean against the desk."
"Yes, master." Rana hesitated, for a split second and then leaned against the desk. She kept her ass out and spread her legs.
"What was your name before you were made a slave?"
"Annalisa, Master. Annalisa Jorgensen."
"Anna?" Hamilton had stepped behind her and ran his hand over her ass. "Like the Ann that Mr. Wray has."
"Yes... yes master." Rana, like the rest of the women was jealous of Samira. Wray not only kept her away from the most difficult tasks but it was assumed that she would go with him when the officers left Tunis.
Hamilton slapped Rana's tender ass. "Taken from a Danish merchant ship, so I have heard, although somehow the ship and all its cargo was let go."
Rana nodded and then quietly said, "Yes, master. My uncle he... he sold me to the pirates, five years ago."
"I am sure you brought him a good price."
"He brought you onto the quay, is that right? While delivering his cargo. Then he stripped you and auctioned your body."
Rana nodded and tried to acknowledge what was said. She couldn't.
Hamilton slapped her ass hard. Then again. "Isn't that right, slave?"
"Yes! Yes, master! He took me, naked, down to the galleys and.. he called for men to pay."
He reached down to her cunt, pressing his fingers hard on her pussy lips, squeezing and touching. Then his cock was out and the tip placed just inside.
"He took me and sold me, master, for... ahh!" Rana cried out as his cock began to push its way into her dry pussy. She wriggled her ass, working hard to create some wetness.
"He sold you, yes, and I am sure many wanted to buy you."
"Yes... yes, master. He sold me for... three... ahh! Three casks."
Hamilton thrust in deep and began to fuck her. Rana's body cooperated and her pussy became wet as he slid his cock slowly in and out of her body.
"Three casks of what, slave? What did he sell you for?"
"I don't know! I don't know, master! Please..."
Hamilton ignored her cries. He wanted her hard and fast and he fucked her hard and fast. Soon his cock was on edge and his cum filled her tight pussy. Hamilton slapped her ass and stepped back. Without needing an order, the slave turned and knelt down. She took his cock in her mouth and sucked, looking up at him with pleading eyes, the sort she knew he liked, as she tasted herself and his cum.
"He sold you for raki." Hamilton stepped back and fixed his clothes. "Three casks of fine Ottoman wine."
Rana looked downcast. She nodded.
"Now return to your duties, slave."
"Yes, master." She was soon dressed. "Aye, Captain."
Hamilton went back on deck as soon as the slave was gone. Wray was directing more supplies into the hold while Nasira spoke to one of the galiots officers.
"She's doing fine, sir," Wray said. "I still need to get this crew to let me balance, you'd think we were laden in bulk, sir, but 'tis not as bad as before. Bunch of lubbers they are sir. Aye, pretty ones, but lubbers all the same."
"Indeed." Hamilton looked around then said quietly, "I have something I would like your Ann to do."
"Indeed, sir! Well, all you have to do is ask her, she's not personal property."
"No, no. Not that, James. I want you to make a pair of sea anchors. Nothing large. Once we are out of the canal I want your Ann to work with just a few slaves we can trust and set them out through the rear gun ports."
Wray nodded slowly. "I'll need to the bend the canvas to a pair of the spare lanyards and make it secure down below. It would be easiest to just secure it to the aft guns. Aye sir, and Ann and her friends will toss it by the board at your convenience."
Hamilton nodded and then slowly walked back to the quarter deck as the slaves continued to haul on the lines pulling up the heavy barrels.
"Heartily lads!" Wray yelled at once, to the women pulling on the ropes. "Heartily now!"
Three hours later, in the later afternoon, the Rose was moving slowly through the canal using the tide and the slight breeze on the topsails.
Nasira stood next to Hamilton as Wray handled the wheel. The slaves were exhausted. Most of them were sitting out on deck where small sections of canvas has been stretched over the rigging to afford a slight shade in the heat. Some of the people wandering along the waterfront stopped to watch the ship with its crew of topless slaves, but for most it was just another part of the background.
The fortifications of the Kasbah towered over them as they passed the bend in the canal, and below that where 24-pounders lined in rows along low parapets on either side of the canal where they faced out towards the Mediterranean. Hamilton looked at it all, glad he was not part of any attacking force.
"Massih Bey is in the castle?" Hamilton asked.
"The Kasbah they call it. Yes. He supposedly brought his harem with him through Tunis and then around the lake. He will be in one of those towers watching us with a telescope."
"A very strange man."
Nasira looked at Wray and Hamilton and smiled.
"Steady, Mr. Wray," Hamilton said. "Keep us in the fairway."
"Aye aye, sir."
The Rose emerged from the canal into the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Hamilton was happy, happier that he had expected, to be looking out once more at open water. Nasira guided them to avoid sandbars, although there were small buoys which made the task easier. The ship began to roll slightly. The sea was calm but with the change from the enclosed waters of el-Bahirah several of the slaves soon looked queasy.
"You can set the main courses, Mr. Wray. Then take us two points larboard. We'll cruise north, then wear ship and be back at anchor on the lake by sunset. That should satisfy the bastard."
"Main courses and two points larboard. Aye aye, Captain."
Wray bellowed down to the slaves and, with some grumbling, small groups climbed the shrouds and soon the main sails on both masts were set. Other slaves took hold of the braces and the yards were brought about as Wray adjusted the helm. The Rose heeled slightly as the ship began to move with the wind forty degrees off her bow.
"Some of them look sick, Mr. Wray," Hamilton said with a sigh. "Including your Ann. You can send them below."
"Aye aye, sir."
The twins Almas and Akouta followed the English Samira below.
"Starboard the helm, Mr. Wray."
"Aye, Captain. It's the balance of the hold, sir, should I go down to shift some shot?"
"No. That shouldn't be necessary." Hamilton motioned to Nasira. "I'll be in my quarters."
Nasira followed Hamilton below and shut the door.
"You make a very good looking English sea captain," she said, smiling.
"For a moment I almost thought you wanted to escape with me back to England." Hamilton wasn't smiling. "But there was no alarm along the canal and no one tried to stop us." He stepped closer to Nasira who now stood at attention, her expression grim. "Massih Bey didn't give us orders to go through the canal and he is hardly the type to travel out of his nice, safe palace."
"My loyalties are to the His Imperial Highness the Sultan of the Sublime Ottoman Domains, Edward."
"I know that. I also know you take orders from someone other than Massih Bey. The Grand Vizier, I imagine."
Nasira didn't answer.
"Shit, I don't care if it is him or the Pasha-Bey or the King of Spain. But I do want to know what is supposed to happen next."
Nasira remained at attention.
"I could flog you."
"And you would not tell me a fucking thing you didn't want to!" Hamilton pounded his hand on the desk.
"Sail ho!" came a cry from above.
"Stay in here!" Hamilton ordered Nasira. He ran up on deck. Wray had given the wheel to Jameela and Bayna as he stood looking astern with a telescope. He handed it to Hamilton.
"Damn," Hamilton said, watching the bow of a war galley churning white as it slowly closed on the Rose.
"Set the t'gallants, Mr. Wray, if you please."
Hamilton watched the galley as the lateen sail was stepped down. Banks of oars suddenly appeared like wings. Under oars the galley was faster, but Hamilton knew he had a chance if they had begun their run with oars too soon. And if the wind didn't die.
"The sea anchors, Mr. Wray, you may cut them loose."
Wray was below for only a moment. Hamilton looked over the side to watch the water as it passed the hull. In a moment the Rose was suddenly moving several knots faster. Wray came back and took the wheel.
Hamilton watched impatiently as the slaves were still setting the topmost sails and wishing the brig-sloop had been given stay sails. "Full and by, Mr. Wray, full and by."
Wray ordered the slaves to shift the braces and the ship was brought as close to the wind as possible. The land was dropping off as they moved north from Tunis.
"Clever, sir!" Wray yelled. "On this tack the unbalance in the hold lessens the list."
"And adds another knot, yes. I hope this is enough because when we take the other tack that will all work against us."
Hamilton could see there was confusion on the galley, men on the bow were moving about frantically. They had not expected the Rose to jump ahead, and now they risked having their oar slaves tired before they overtook the Rose. But they were not backing down. The banks of oars were set to attack the water at a faster pace and again the galley closed.
Ten minutes later the galley's bow gun fired. The 24-pound iron shot missed, landing one hundred yards behind them, but Hamilton knew it was only a matter of time.
"It was a good ruse, sir, but I'm not sure we can outrun them," Wray said.
"Tell the twins to strip and then go up to the mizzen top. I want them to wave to the galley."
"If they know what we have they are not likely to pound us to bits with cannon! Now give the orders, Mr. Wray!" Hamilton watched the approaching galley through the telescope, seeing, quite clearly, two officers doing the same at him.
"Aye aye, Captain."
"Then get below and load the larboard guns and run them out. We'll only get one shot, James."
"Aye, Captain. I know."
Almas and Akouta, as always, were delighted to be naked and delighted to climb up and wave at the galley. Hamilton looked at them, two beautiful slaves who worked well together in so many ways. They had been taken when galleys had raided the coast of Sicily, but still, they waved and smiled.
The cannon fire stopped. The galley continued to close.
Hamilton watched and considered, looking at the sea and the faint trace of land. Nasira had come up on deck and it took him a few moments to notice. She had taken off her hat, jacket and shirts, and stood topless, her red hair blowing wildly in the breeze.
"I told you to wait below!"
"The Captain of the galley knew you had a ship of sex slaves, but he would not have told other officers," she said calmly. "They know now. There will be no cannon fire but still, they will not stop until they capture this ship."
"Yes, yes. Now, is that all you can tell me?"
"The Captain of that galley is a mercenary, from where I do not know. The pride of Pasha-Bey would not allow his own crews to be used." The female Janissary turned and yelled out in Turkish to some of the slaves still on deck. Two rushed below and quickly returned with a small cask marked with curved Ottoman ***********.
Hamilton looked at her and then back at the approaching galley. "Powder? Are you going to scuttle my ship?"
"No." Nasira held the small cask tightly. On one side was a wooden plug covered with fresh tar.
"You worked in mines during a siege..."
"Yes. This contains a small charge of powder and a loop of slow match which I have sealed with lead. This will keep it from the water, but only for a short while."
"And what do you expect me to do? Light it and throw it?"
"No, Edward. I have already fired the match."
Nasira took hold of the cast and leaped to the side. She lost her grip on the cast as she slipped under the water, but quickly resurfaced and held to it tightly.
The galley did not follow exactly behind the Rose, and a cast thrown overboard would have passed near, but not near enough for the small charge to do any damage. But the galley changed course as the constant stroke of the helmsman's drum was stopped, and the galley coasted across the water. With oars the galley was faster than the Rose, and as there was no way for the ship of slaves to escape, there was no reason to avoid the tasty morsel in the water.
"Mr. Wray! Wear ship!" Hamilton yelled. He took the wheel himself, looking back at the galley and across down on the deck of the Rose as slaves ran to take the lines.
"Heave heartily!" Wray yelled, joining in himself to haul on the braces, pulling the yards around as Hamilton pushed over the rudder. The Rose turned in a wide circle and reversed course.
There was a flash and a cloud of black smoke and then a low rumble came across the water. The explosion had not done much damage, but there was confusion on the galley. Hamilton didn't want to release the wheel to use the telescope, but as they closed he was sure that several of the soldiers and officers lining the bow were down. He concentrated on setting a course so that the Rose passed within two hundred yards from the galley.
Wray sighted along one of the cannon barrels, timing carefully the roll of the ship and then setting the linstock to the touchhole. The cannon roared, sending out a huge flame that quickly dissipated into the dense cloud of smoke. The second cannon fired and then the third. At least one ball slammed into the side of the galley, and a pair of oars cracked. It was not much, but the confusion on the galley kept it from turning back and continuing the chase.
The Rose flew with the wind back towards Tunis. As they maneuvered towards the canal Hamilton gave the wheel to Wray.
"Are they going to take us there too, Edward, perhaps we should make a run for Sicily?"
"No," Hamilton had said. "One rough sea will sink us. We go back."
Hamilton went to his cabin and sat down. There was a knock.
"Yes?" he snapped.
The twins Almas and Akouta, still naked, stepped inside. They looked at each other, smiling, and Almas said, "Mr. Wray told us to come, master."
Hamilton nodded. "You both did very well. On this whole mad enterprise you have done well. You both would make fine sailors."
They smiled and stepped closer, kneeling next to him. Almas started to speak then Akouta said, "Mr. Wray says we are to make you happy."
Hamilton smiled, weakly. He reached over and let his hand run down Almas's cheek and down to her breast. He leaned in his seat and put his other hand on Akouta's body. "Later. Perhaps. Give my compliments to Mr. Wray and let him know he can bring the ship into the lake and drop anchor."
A pilot came on board and lead them into the mouth of the canal and across the lake. The slaves worked the sails well, if slowly, and the Rose glided back towards Tunis. Two hundred yard from the quay the anchor slid into the water. Three oared boats met them and the slaves were taken off the ship and replaced by a small crew of regular sailors.
Hamilton and Wray sat in the stern sheets as the ship's own boat, the oars pulled by the eight English speaking slaves, took them to shore. Wray, pleased to have escaped talked excitedly, but Hamilton but could only nod.
Van Schoonhoven met them on the quay. Soldiers -- male soldiers -- took charge of the women and lead them towards the fortress.
"Ah! Yes, yes!" the Dutchmen yelled in delight. "You have made the Pasha-Bey exceedingly pleased, yes? A great feat of courage!"
"What was all of this about?" Hamilton said, angrily.
"Good relations with His Britannic Majesty, yes?"
Hamilton stepped towards the Dutchman in anger. "What the fucking hell was this about?"
"Ah! Lieutenant! Please, please!" Van Schoonhoven stepped back. "You did the Pasha-Bey and the Grand Vizier a service. A great service. Massih Bey was, hmm, as you surmised I am sure, he was so very concerned about his ship leaving the lake that once you reached the canal he did leave his palace for the Kasbah. Such a pity too! Those years inside the palace and then, on a simple trip outside he had an unfortunate circumstance."
"Indeed! Most regrettable. An accident, I have been told, when Massih Bey was anxious to rush to the battlements and see the fate of his ship, yes? And such a tragedy, in his eagerness he fell forward and part of the wall, I have heard, gave way. Most regrettable."
"If they wanted to kill him why didn't they just go into his fucking palace and kill him?"
Van Schoonhoven shrugged. "It was helpful, mmm, in some fashion for the accident to occur for all to see that it was not a foul crime. Perhaps? And having Englishman at the helm of the slave ship pushes the burden of the crime farther from the Vizier's hand. Much better to have infidels involved in such a grave matter. And the Vizier is very pleased. That is all that matters now! You, gentleman, will both be very highly rewarded!"
"Ann!" Wray said. "I mean Samira. The English slave. I'd like her. Will he let me have her?"
"Of course! And you, Mr. Hamilton, yes, you might choose one of those delightful ones as a reward?"
Hamilton didn't answer.
The parade grounds were filled with cavalry and soldiers the next morning. Long lines of slaves were being slowly taken away. The wait until they were admitted into the throne room was short and both the Pasha-Bey and the Grand Vizier were there. Without referring to the late Massih Bey or anything at all about the use of sex slaves as a ship's crew, they spoke eloquently about their pleasure with the courage of the two English officers. With the translation, it took some time.
Both men were granted a jeweled saber. They expressed their gratitude. Wray was also given Ann Whetherlocke and told he could take her back to England.
"The most wise Pasha-Bey wants to know what you would like," Van Schoonhoven said to Hamilton.
"You may tell him that I wish the crew to be rewarded, especially the eight we trained in here."
"You don't want those two morsels you bought? Hm?"
"You can have them."
"He insists you take another --"
"Just tell him I want the fucking crew rewarded and nothing else!"
The Pasha-Bey listened to an edited translation and then responded in a long speech.
"He won't allow it." Van Schoonhoven said with glee. "You must have a reward!"
From a side door a woman entered. She wore a simple set of loose silks and walked with difficulty. Nasira bint Evranaki slowly walked up to Hamilton. He looked at her but was unable to speak.
"I can swim, you know," she said.
Nasira was too weak to get out of bed, she laid there with her red hair loose around her head. Hamilton sat next to her.
"I told them... inside...jewels," she said quietly. "Then... I went down... under... under..."
"They were greedy and you timed it perfectly."
She smiled. "I was lucky. I made it before... "
"The waterproof cask?"
"James found the other small powder kegs, none of which, as you know, were like yours. The Vizier didn't care what happened to the ship, as long as it was chased by someone not from Tunis." He stroked her face. "But the waterproof mine, that was your plan all along?"
"Yes." Nasira nodded. She reached out and held his hand. "Your ship... English ship. You will leave soon?"
"In the morning." He leaned in to kiss her. "You know if I tried to fuck you now you would never be able to resist me."
Nasira smiled. She closed her eyes to sleep.
The frigate Constance had never strayed far and in fact had seen the curious battle between the small brig-sloop and the war galley. At the quay a quarter boat with English sailors loaded the sea chests, and then, much to the delight of the sailors, Miss Ann Whetherlocke in the finest white gown and pearl necklace in Tunis stepped in as well.
"Eyes to yourselves, lads!" Wray yelled. "This is a lady!"
Hamilton shook hands with Van Schoonhoven and turned for the boat. The Dutchman had arrived with a small group of soldiers, ordinary soldiers.
"You could have brought her along," Wray said.
"I could have gone to Istanbul." Hamilton looked at his confused friend and smiled. "I think we should go home. Though when we write our reports perhaps it would be best to avoid certain aspects of this mission."
Wray laughed. The two men sat into the stern sheets as the quarter boat was rowed back to the English frigate, and from there to Gibraltar.
May 1799, Gibraltar – Lieutenant Edward Hamilton is tasked with escorting the wife of an English Diplomat enroute to the court of the Sultan at Istanbul
Katherine Abington, the Viscountess Dunsbrooke, wife of the elderly Sir Henry Latham Abington of the Foreign Office, the most beautiful woman in the small English community in Gibraltar, was not happy. With a dramatic, pouty sigh she rolled to the edge of the bed, letting the sheets drop down from her breasts. Lieutenant Edward Hamilton ignored her, pulling on his breeches and reaching for his shirt. He stopped for a moment, not to look back at the beautiful blonde Viscountess but to stare out the window at the rich blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
"You have made me very angry Edward," Katherine said with feigned displeasure.
"If His Majesty the King makes me a Duke I'll come back and fuck you with the proper cock of a peer," he said, still looking out at the sea.
"I like your cock the way it is, but I've heard those stories and you are not answering me."
Hamilton turned around, sitting on the edge of the bed, his shirt was on but not yet buttoned. He reached down for his boots but could resist a quick glance at her. She was blonde, with slight curls in hair that spilled down over her shoulders. She saw him watching her and lay back, sitting back against head board, casually letting her arms reach out to either side. His eyes fell to her breasts, now almost flattened against her. If he could change anything about her body he would make them larger. Or maybe not, they seemed to suit her. She casually brought a hand to her face then brushed it down over her breasts. He laughed. She knew he loved her nipples, they sat in the center of faint areolas and came erect at the faintest touch and tasted so good when his tongue flicked over her. Katherine had also twisted her hip, just slightly to bring one smooth thigh over the other. That was all right, he had seen her cunt, and from very close up, and he did like her legs. She kept her pussy hair trimmed, a style taken from the most desirable French courtesans, or so she said, only a faint line of blonde hair gracing her mound. Katherine had insisted that she had her servant make sure her pussy was well cropped every morning, though Hamilton wasn't sure he believed that.
"I've heard stories about what it is like with the pirates," she said.
"Pirates? And which pirates would that be?"
"The Barbary Pirates, you silly man." She sat up and leaned against him, her breasts against his back. "You were just there! Do they really march their slaves into the city? You must tell me!"
"Yes, I was in Tunis. Just a few months ago. A fellow officer and I assisted them with a bit of a naval matter." He pulled his boots on.
Hamilton and his friend Lieutenant James Wray had been sent with orders to help the Bey of Tunis develop more modern naval techniques. The Corsairs were pirates, but with the war against France now in its sixth year, England was not choosey about allies, the mission in Tunis was not, however, what they had expected. The two officers had been given a ***********ion of beautiful sex slaves and informed that their task was to teach the women how to crew a small brig-sloop. Hamilton and Wray had managed to instruct them in basic sail handling, though nothing very complex, and the brig-sloop (which Massih Bey had named the Cunt and they re-christened the Rose) had sailed reasonably well in fair weather in the enclosed waters of the Lake of Tunis. There had been one day out in the Mediterranean itself, which had led to a chase with pirates, but Hamilton didn't like to think of that. In the end the entire affair had just been part of a palace intrigue in Tunis, but Hamilton and Wray survived and had been rewarded by the Tunisian leaders.
"Did you see beautiful slaves?"
Hamilton turned to face her, his lips near hers. "In Tunis? Oh yes, I saw some beautiful slaves in Tunis."
"I've read about the pirates and slaves in French novels." Lady Dunsbrooke was very excited, with her arms around his neck. "In the Harem, the real Harem, the Sultan's Harem, they have only the most beautiful women in the world. They live in a special part of the Topkapi Palace, with servants of their own and baths and spices and silks to make them even more beautiful."
Hamilton laughed. "Is that what you read?"
"Yes! And then the Sultan takes his pick of the most beautiful maidens, he slowly walks along and looks at each one, and the one that is chosen is bathed and prettied up and then brought to his chambers while still naked. She is told to lie down on his bed and spread her arms and legs wide for him to see her, to see all of her."
"And these maidens all keep their virtue, of course."
"Silly man, those are English novels. In the French ones... oh... they do things! The Sultan ties the slave to the bed with cords made of the softest, whitest silk. He takes his time, leaning over to kiss her body, so gently, as he moves around the bed."
"That sounds like a fine story, Katherine." He touched her lightly. "I must be going to my ship."
"Is that what you were looking at out there? Your ship? Silly Edward! That window faces east, all those the ships are to the west."
"Yes, well..." Hamilton hesitated.
"Do you really have to go to your ship? So soon?"
"I do. I must report to the frigate Ariadne today. I'm Third Lieutenant, in case you want to know the rank of the cock that just slid into your cunt."
"You men are all alike with your ships and horses and cannon, you go there and ignore all of...this."
He watched her hand slide down towards her pussy. Hamilton leaned over and pushed her down on the bed, his hand slipping down around her breasts and then down farther, where he rested it on hers as she cupped her mound.
"She is a very beautiful ship," he said. "With such fine lines, a well set rake to her masts, and with sails that spread wide for the wind." Katherine spread her legs, he moved his hand under hers and slid it over her slit.
"And you prefer this ship to me?"
"You won't hang me if I desert you." She laughed, putting her hand on his and grinding it into her pussy.
"Tell me about the pirates, Edward." He pulled his hand away and stood up, ignoring her frown, and picked up his waist coat. "Edward! Now tell me how the Sultan fucks his slaves."
"The Sultan is in Istanbul. I was in Tunis."
"Tell me how they fuck slaves in Tunis! Tell me how you fucked slaves."
"I'm starting to think, Lady Dunsbrooke," said Hamilton with a smile, "that you let me into your chambers just to hear about the beautiful pleasure slaves of Tunis."
"You are right, Lieutenant Hamilton. Well...perhaps that was not the only reason. Now tell me!" He picked up his waist coast, looked back at her. What the hell? He dropped it back down on the floor. "Yes, Edward! You can go to your ship later."
"Do you want to hear about the slaves?" He said as he moved back to the bed. He climbed on top of her and pinned her arms down on the bed. "Newly captured slaves are first marched into the city. I saw this myself, long rows of young women, all naked or clutching to what little was left of their clothes. The slaves are brought from the quays, their chains clanking, as people stop and watch. Now, some of these people are just looking, while others, a few of them, look at the slaves and plan their bids, thinking of how much they have to spend, and what they can do with a pretty sex slave; they can bind her, they can make her suck cock, they can flog or spank her, and, of course, they can fuck her."
"Ooo... I like this. Tell me more!"
"The slaves are lined up inside the market, in an enclosed courtyard. Now only those men who have the means to actually buy are allowed close to these beauties. These men walk up and down the line of women. They stop. They look very carefully. Sometimes a man will reach out and touch a slave here and here and here," as he spoke he touched Katherine's lips, her nipples and then her pussy. "The frightened slaves have to let the men touch them, they must obey everything or they are punished by one of the overseers using a stinging whip made from a bull's penis."
"I have read about that!"
"When a man finds a women that makes his cock hard without lightening his wallet too much, he haggles with the merchant. Perhaps she is too much, though, and he will forget her forever as he moves to inspect another. Or perhaps, for a few silver coins, the slave is sold. She is his property, ready to be used and fucked in any way that pleases him."
"Mmm... oh yes, I want to hear more!"
"In the palace some slaves are stripped naked and put in cages. Small cages. Now, where I stayed in Tunis, each of the household slaves -- and they were all very pretty -- had to spend a few hours in these cages every week. Sometimes the slaves would just sit, but at other times, if I man happened by who liked the look of one or more of these women, he would take them from the cages and use them in the Pearl Room."
"Were they golden cages?"
"Of course," Hamilton lied.
"And do they fuck them in the Pearl Room?"
"Eventually. First the slaves are bound, either to the wall or the ceiling or suspended from poles. The man will explore and touch the slave. He might spank her. He might strike her ass with a cane or even crack a whip across her bare back. Then, after all that, he would fuck her."
"Do that to me."
Hamilton sat up. "I only have the cock of a commoner, Madame."
"Fuck me again! Fuck me like a slave in the Pearl Room." Hamilton looked around the room as he pulled his boots off. The house that Lady Dunsbrooke had was by no means the largest in Gibraltar, but it was very lavish in its detail. The bed had four large posts from which a delicate flowered silk canopy was hung. Hamilton reached for it and pulled down a long length of silk.
"Oh! Edward!" Hamilton yanked the sheet from the bed, leaving her totally naked and exposed. He took hold of her arm and flipped her over onto her stomach and then pulled back her arms. He bound her wrists with the torn silk.
"You are a sex slave now, Katherine the sex slave," he said, "and you will call me master."
"Oh! Oh yes..." He spanked her ass hard.
"Ahh! Oh yes, master, fuck me!" He spanked her again and again, then pressed his palm to her warm ass. His left hand held her wrists, holding them tight against the small of her back, as his right hand moved down between her legs and the tips of his fingers slid over the soft folds of her cunt. She was very wet.
"On your back, slave," he said as he pulled off his shirt. The ripped canopy on her wrists came loose as she rolled over, so he took the strip of fabric and rolled it lengthwise to make it a bit stronger. Walking around above her, pulled her hands above her head and tied her wrists to iron work of the headboard.
"Are you going to inspect your pleasure slave now, master?" she said, breathing hard.
"Don't speak unless you are asked a direct question, slave." He reached up and pulled down more of the canopy. With this he tied her left ankle to one of the bed posts. She looked at him, eyes wide with lust, her unbound right leg sliding up and down in anticipation. Unbuttoning his breeches he climbed on top of her, holding her right leg up so that her thigh pressed tightly against her body. His cock slid in easily and he fucked her hard as Katherine bucked her hips and pulled on the silk holding her wrists and left ankle.
Hamilton kissed along her neck as he took her. "If you don't please me slave then I will take you to the market and sell you."
"Oh!!" She moaned at his words, her hips slamming up into his. The silk binding her to the upper bedpost parted, although her wrists remained loosely bound. She wrapped them around his neck as his cum, once again, filled her cunt.
Hamilton rolled off her. "Slaves suck the cock of the men who fuck them."
"I read that too!" Her left ankle was still bound to the bed post, and her wrists remained tied together, but she managed to wriggle over to where his cock waited. Hamilton felt her lips and tongue on his shaft as she sucked and licked.
When she had finished he pulled back and fixed his breeches. "Untie me!" she squealed. The bonds were not very tight so he only smiled as he put on his shirt, buttoned it carefully, then took his waist coat and jacket. He picked up his cocked hat, resting it smartly under his arm.
"Untie me, silly man!" She looked around her bed, the canopy in shreds, and then noticed a few smudges of dirt around her legs. "You didn't take off your boots!"
"Good day, Lady Dunsbrooke," he said with a bow. "Should I send for your maid before leaving?"
"Oh! You wouldn't dare!" Then with a playful expression she whispered, "ask for Rachel."
Hamilton thought a moment and then went to the door, opening it slightly. He saw a servant passing by a young woman with dark hair and a pretty face. "Excuse me, Lady Dunsbrooke would like some assistance from Rachel."
"I am Rachel, sir. Rachel Palmer."
"Ah, what good fortune. If you would, please, step inside."
"Yes, sir." The servant said. She stepped into the room and came to a complete halt when she saw her mistress, naked with one leg tied to a bed post and her wrists still bound.
Hamilton stepped behind Rachel, his hands on her shoulders. He whispered, "I believe Lady Dunsbrooke needs something more substantial in the way of bonds." The servant looked back for a moment and then nodded. She stepped to a closet, and produced, fairly quickly, several long sections of lace from a corset. She held them out for him.
"Oh, she is most efficient, Lady Dunsbrooke," Hamilton said.
"She will need a spanking later, I think," Katherine said with a laugh. The servant blushed, still holding the laces out. Hamilton again stepped behind her, this time kissing her neck.
"Oh, sir.... please... I..."
"Do you want me to stop?"
"I... I... whatever you wish, sir. I have these laces for you."
"Indeed you do. Now, if you would be so kind as to take them over to Lady Dunsbrooke and secure her wrists to the headboard. Tie them, tightly. I don't want her to slip her bonds again." He patted Rachel's ass. "Go on. You won't get in trouble for this."
"Yes, sir." Rachel walked over to the bed. She stood there, frozen until Katherine placed her wrists up. The servant removed the torn section of canopy and replaced it with a lace, wrapping it around several times and securing it with a large bow. Rachel then stepped around the outside of the bed and used a second lace to bind Katherine's wrists tightly to the iron work in the center of the headboard, her left ankle still loosely tied to a bedpost. Without waiting for more instructions the young woman quickly moved to the other end and tied both of Katherine's ankles, each to a different bedpost, leaving Lady Dunsbrooke naked and bound in an inverted-Y.
"Excellent work, Miss Palmer!" Hamilton said.
"Thank you, sir," she said quietly. He pressed his hands to her chest. Rachel blushed and tried to speak, but Hamilton leaned down and kissed her.
"Rachel has hidden talents," Katherine said. She pulled on the bonds much harder than she had with the torn canopy, her hips twisting back and forth rhythmically.
"I agree. I'd like to see more of those hidden talents. Rachel, I would like you to take off your dress."
"Sir?" Hamilton just smiled. Rachel nodded and then began to remove her gown and various layers of undergarments then stood with her head down and hands at her side. She had blue eyes, almost as bright as Katherine's, and the soft curves of her lithe body seemed to convey an innocence.
"You're very pretty, Rachel." Hamilton said.
"She is!" Katherine laughed. "I'm sure you would never have noticed Edward, being so busy with ships and sails, but all of my servant girls are pretty things."
"Thank you, sir. Thank you, mistress." Hamilton walked around Rachel, his hands on her breasts the teased nipples quickly swelling erect.
"I am starting to feel neglected, Edward," Katherine said, pulling on her bounds, twisting her wrists back and forth, but Rachel Palmer had tied them very well.
"We can't have that. Now Rachel, I want you to help the Lady Dunsbrooke."
"Yes, sir," she said quietly. "Shall I release her, sir?"
"Not yet, oh no, not yet. I want you to lay down on the bed, lay down on her body, but inverted." He whispered to Rachel, "put your tongue to her pussy and let Katherine lick yours."
"I... I don't think I could do that, sir." Hamilton walked across the room and found a hair brush. Stepping back to the naked servant he tapped it lightly against her ass.
"I have confidence in you, Rachel." Rachel just stood there, looking at her bound mistress, until Hamilton smacked the brush hard against her ass.
"Ah! Sir!" Rachel protested. Hamilton spanked her with the brush again and again.
"I want you on that bed. Are you going to do as I say?"
"I... I... ah! Ow, sir!" Rachel stammered and then yelped as he kept spanking her. "Yes! Yes, sir. Please! I will do it, sir." Hamilton smiled as Rachel slowly made her way to the bed. Pushing her hair back and she lay down on top of her mistress, putting her tongue on Katherine's pussy as she pressed her own into place. Katherine leaned up -- she was already moaning -- and let her tongue dart inside Rachel.
Hamilton watched for moment, as each woman began to press her tongue to the other's clit, their bodies moving together to the rhythm of soft moans. Neither woman noticed when he took his hat and slipped out of the room and left via the backstairs. Katherine Abington, the Lady Dunsbrooke, had a wild reputation, and deservedly so, but it still would not do for a simple naval Lieutenant to walk out her front door. On the stairs he saw a short, dark haired woman. Katherine was right, all her servant girls were pretty, although Hamilton had, of course, noticed that. Hamilton bowed to the young woman as he passed. She looked mortified in embarrassment.
He couldn't help laughing, though regretting it at once. Stepping outside into a short alley he placed his cocked hat, the newer fore-and-aft style firmly in place. The Rock was in front of him, the Mediterranean to his left, he went right.
The window in Katherine's bed chamber did not look over the harbor, she was right about that. The harbor was on the western side of the slim peninsula of Gibraltar and he had, instead, been looking towards the east. During their mission to Tunis James Wray had taken to a young English woman who had been captured by the Corsairs and sold as a sex slave. Wray, like Hamilton, had taken liberties with many of the women available to them, but Wray had grown especially fond of his Ann. At the conclusion of their stay Ann had been given to Wray as a reward and the pair were now on a ship bound for England. Whether Wray would marry her or not Hamilton did not know, he wasn't sure Wray knew either.
Hamilton tried to force all thoughts of Tunis from his mind. It seemed foolish to think on that after being with such a beautiful woman and playing such games with her servant. Katherine Abington was a woman whose beauty matched her outrageous lifestyle of parties and sex. It all seemed more French than English and yet, her charm, as well as her title and money, somehow kept her from being shunned at court. He had no idea why she had taken an interest in him, and he really didn't care. Yet, as beautiful as Katherine Abington was, and as hard he tried not to his thoughts were elsewhere, on another woman, one he had met in Tunis.
Nasira bint Evranaki was one of the Kocek Kapikulu, a female Janissary, charged with protecting the late Massih Bey of Tunis. Nasira had saved Hamilton's life. She had in fact saved the entire Tunisian brig-sloop with its crew of female slaves from falling into the hands of renegade pirates. Yet not even that was foremost in his thoughts. Hamilton knew that he could have insisted that Nasira come with him when he left Tunis. He could have demanded her as his reward, as Wray had asked for Ann. But Hamilton had not done that. Nasira wasn't English like Wray's freed slave, and so what would she do in England while he was at sea? That would not have been fair to her, and he had known that as much as he longed for her, Nasira couldn't return with him.
That was for the best. He tried to remember that and he still cursed himself for leaving her.
Hamilton climbed over the rail to the deck of His Britannic Majesty's ship the Ariadne, a 36 gun frigate as the bosun's mate piped him aboard and a young officer stepped down and saluted. Hamilton touched his hat. "Lieutenant Edward Hamilton, coming aboard."
"Lieutenant Henry Mabson," the young officer replied. "You have been expected, of course, Mr. Hamilton. Your sea chest has been secured below."
"Thank you, Mr. Mabson. Is the Captain aboard?" Mabson nodded rapidly and they walked across the busy deck to the Captain's cabin. The marine guard snapped to attention as Hamilton knocked. Inside, he took of his hat and stood at attention.
Captain Francis Baynes sat at his desk and continued to write. A minute later he put the quill down and looked up. "Mr. Hamilton, I take it."
"I was speaking with Sir Richard," he said, referring to Gibraltar's commanding admiral, Sir Richard Thornborough. "You were in Tunis recently."
"There you commanded a sloop?"
"Yes, sir, a brig-sloop. But only inside the Lake of Tunis, sir. It was not much of a command by English standards."
"I was told you beat back a Corsair raiding galley off the Cape of Carthage."
"Yes, sir. There was one day when I took the brig into the Mediterranean. There was a brief chase."
"I see." Baynes nodded and then looked back down to his papers. "Good day, Mr. Hamilton."
"Yes, sir." Hamilton stepped back and out. A short interview, but hardly unprecedented.
It took a week for repairs to be completed, the Ariadne having taken damage during an Atlantic storm. Then there were the many barrels of fresh water, salted pork and beef, nails, spare canvas, coiled cables and ropes of all sizes, barrels of musket balls, spars and blocks, a new compass for the binnacle and many other supplies to be brought aboard. Hamilton was supervising the lowering of a reluctant bullock into a small, enclosed stall.
"Handsomely with that, now," Hamilton said to the sailors manning the lines holding the cow on the sling. "Handsomely... handsomely... belay! You may secure the animal, Dalby."
"Compliments of the Captain, Mr. Hamilton," an older sailor said. "He requests your presence at his cabin."
"Thank you," Hamilton turned and recognition flared. "Hopley?"
"Aye, sir. I was wondering there if you remembered me."
"Of course! How could I forget anything about the good old Orion? Where have you been hiding, Hopley?"
"Press gang, sir. But meager pickings with respects to Portsmouth." Hopley leaned closer. "I done heard the sad news about Lieutenant Wray, sir."
"On no, what?"
"Aye, getting married, he is. Though I'm told she is fine looking lass." Hamilton sighed with a smile and went towards the stern.
"Carry on, Hopley." Hamilton was the last one in the captain's cabin. First Lieutenant John Stepford was looking over a map with the Captain as Second Lieutenant William Galloway watched them intently. Malby, the Fourth Lieutenant, looked nervous and the ship's master, Bickingham seemed bored.
"I'm glad you can join us, Mr. Hamilton," the Captain said.
"My apologies, sir." Baynes pointed to a one of a series of charts spread out on his table.
"Now gentleman, there have been sporadic reports of French warships being seen in the company of vessels of the Beys of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli. As I am sure you are all aware, thus far the Corsairs have maintained a benevolent neutrality towards our shipping. Certainly at any other time such an alliance would be shameful, and I dare say the time will come when we sweep the pirates from the seas. For now, however, with the great struggle against France reaching its sixth year, we cannot abide by a hostile shore along the southern Mediterranean."
Baynes pointed to a chart. "Now, our mission is to cruise along the Algerian coast from here to at least here. We will determine if French sail-of-the-line are indeed operating in these waters, whether openly or in disguise. This ship is directed to take, burn, sink, or destroy ships and other vessels of the Republic of France, the Spanish Empire, and any Corsairs who are operating against His Majesty." Baynes paused and looked at each man in turn. "This ship is, furthermore, to take note of all enemy sail, that is as expected, though in addition, we specifically directed to avoid action with enemy frigates unless circumstances are exceedingly favorable."
"If I may, Captain," asked First Lieutenant Stepford, "why are we to not engage enemy frigates? We're more than a match for one of them, sir." Captain Baynes looked up and slowly over the faces of the men.
"Because in their great wisdom the Admiralty has added a diplomatic component to this mission. As you may have heard, gentleman, the French have created a..." Baynes paused as he looked at a piece of paper. "Parthenopaean Republic along the Italian boot. This, of course, is a gross usurpation of the rightful Kingdom of Naples. After our easterly cruise along the Algerian coast we will lay in at King Ferdinand's court of exile in Palermo."
Baynes paused, looked down at his notes and added, "Mr. Hamilton, you will be charge of the accommodations." Hamilton looked up suddenly,
"The accommodations for our guest."
"Yes, sir. Of course, sir, it is an honor. If, however, if I might, sir --"
"The diplomatic envoy is the Viscountess Dunsbrooke."
"The Lady Dunsbrooke. Do you have difficulties with your hearing, Mr. Hamilton?"
"Uh, no sir. I understand, sir."
"She will take your quarters Stepford, and you will take Mr. Galloway's. Mr. Hamilton will raise a hammock in Mr. Mabson's quarters." There was another pause. "You will therefore be sharing with Mr. Mabson." None of the lieutenants were pleased with that arrangement, but Baynes ignored the grumbles and continued his briefing. A half hour later he ordered the men to leave, save for Hamilton.
"This is most irregular dispatching a woman as an envoy," Baynes said absently. "And I feel it is a wasted effort. Nevertheless the orders are clear."
"I have met Sir Henry," Baynes looked at Hamilton carefully.
"Lord Dunsbrooke, sir?"
"Yes, very good, Mr. Hamilton. I met Sir Henry last year. He is, of course, a gentlemen of great character and a fine servant of the crown. Lady Dunsbrooke is many years younger, I mention this only so that you will know what to expect."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
"The Lady Dunsbrooke is reputed to be a woman of singular intelligence and high spirits. I have little time for the drudgery of high society when I am ashore and have never met the woman. I do not doubt, however, that like other young women of great means she has been kept isolated from many of the less refined aspects of society. She will undoubtedly take exception to things which occur naturally on a fighting vessel."
"I see. Yes, sir."
"Her manners were fashioned at court and you should be prepared for her to strenuously desire to make numerous requests directly to me. Your orders, Mr. Hamilton, are to make sure that she does not succeed. I am not to be bothered with petty issues relating to the intrinsic nature of a ship with three hundred sailors. Keep her away from me."
"Yes, sir. I understand."
"Oh, and one piece of advice. A woman like Lady Dunsbrooke runs in higher circles than you and she will likely take great offense at being forced to deal with a mere Third Lieutenant. You are a fine officer, Mr. Hamilton, but it is a simple fact that Lady Dunsbrooke is used to the company of Dukes and Admirals. You may find her manners brusque. She may not even remember your name. Be prepared for this."
Hamilton could only nod. "Thank you, sir. Very good, sir."
Two boats brought out the baggage for Katherine Abington, the Viscountess Dunsbrooke, and one servant. Hamilton noticed she had brought along the pretty Rachel Palmer. The maid saw him and looked down, clearly embarrassed. Katherine saw him and yelled out, although whatever she said was lost to the wind. Line and tackle were set from the yardarms and the women were brought on board using a sling. Rachel Palmer looked terrified. Lady Dunsbrooke whooped and laughed. "Ah, Edward!" she said, as the bosun, very carefully helped her off the sling.
"Your servant, Lady Dunsbrooke," he replied, touching his hat. "I am Lieutenant Hamilton, ma'am. If you will permit me to escort you to your cabins."
"Oh, of course, so pleasant to see you again, Edward." Galloway and Mabson stood a few feet away, the arrival of the two woman having sparked a sudden interest in the deck planking. They stared openmouthed at the familiarly Lady Dunsbrooke showed to Hamilton, until he glared at them and their attention quickly changed to the mainmast.
Hamilton told Hopley to gather a group of sailors to take the women's baggage from the boat and to their cabins. There were many volunteers. Hamilton escorted the women below just as the last of their trunks were secured. Rachel's modest set of personal items were taken to a temporary room, separated from the gunroom by a heavy canvas, next to Katherine's.
"I am sorry there are not better accommodations, Lady Dunsbrooke. Please remember this is a fighting ship."
"I been on ships before, Edward," Katherine said as Hamilton frowned. "Oh, all right. Lieutenant."
"Thank you, ma'am."
"Isn't it lucky, Lieutenant, that I am on the same ship as you?" Katherine said.
"A remarkable coincidence. If there is nothing else, Lady Dunsbrooke, I will attend to my duties. You are invited to dine this evening with the ship's officers in the Captain's quarters."
"Don't you want to know why I am here? Of course you do. You see, Edward, I am to deliver a letter of diplomatic importance to my old and dear friend King Felipe's sister."
"If I may, Lady Dunsbrooke, I believe you mean King Ferdinand. And does he indeed have a sister?"
"Oh, probably. These Mediterranean royals, they breed like rabbits!" She put her hand to her chin, tapping one finger. "Ferdinand? Are you sure? Sir Richard didn't say anything and neither did your Captain Barnes."
"Captain Baynes. And yes, I am sure you want the sister of His Majesty Ferdinand IV the King of Naples and Sicily."
"Well if you insist, Edward," she laughed. Hamilton touched his hat
He hesitated and then said in a low voice, "You simply informed Admiral Thornborough you had this letter and he approved of your request to be on this ship?"
"I told him my husband communicated with me directly and that it was all highly confidential. Henry works in the foreign office and is very boring."
"Yes, I know. I mean, I know your husband works in the foreign office." Hamilton sighed. "You must realize that the Admiral is going to send a dispatch to London."
"Edward, I am delighted you are so concerned about me! I am sure the good Admiral will write and I am just as sure Henry will reply with something vague and difficult to read." She laughed. "It hardly matters, now, does it? We shall be at sea long before any scribbled note from London reaches the Admiral's desk."
She suddenly stepped closer and rested her hand on his crotch. "Mmm... it is charming to see you Edward. I want to hear more of your stories."
Hamilton didn't dare move. "Lady Dunsbrooke, please!" He said, trying to keep his voice down. "This really isn't the place."
"Rachel is there anyone outside?"
The servant, standing just outside the cabin, looked back and forth. "Yes, ma'am."
"Oh, damn." Katherine pulled her hand from his crotch and patted his cheek. "I don't want you to worry, though, Edward. I am simply teasing you. I am not going to embarrass you in front of the crew."
"Thank you, Katherine... um, Lady Dunsbrooke." He touched his hat and backed up, quickly making his way on deck.
Hamilton rested in his hammock as the ship gently rocked back and forth. Over the past six days he had become attuned to the routine on the Ariadne, though it had helped that the weather had been mostly fair. The real measure of a crew was how well they performed outside of the routine. Would they take in topsails quickly during a rolling gale? Would they continue to work the guns hard as men around them lay dying. It was always hard to predict; often the bravest man in the wardroom was the first to shy away during a boarding, but his instincts told him that the Ariadne had a good crew.
He had spoken to Katherine only a few times, and each time made sure the conversation took place on deck or through messages passed by her servant, Rachel. Somewhat to his surprise Katherine endured the cramped quarters and indifferent food with little complaint. She seemed to instinctively know that men on a warship were of two minds about a woman on board: while all but a few were more than happy to sneak a glance at her, especially when she was coming up one of the narrow ladders, most of them believed the sailor's superstition that a woman brought bad luck to a ship.
Hamilton had conflicting feeling himself. Katherine Abington was a very beautiful woman and if they were on shore, he would very much like to find her in a soft bed once more. But when he dreamed he saw visions of Nasira. She was a fierce warrior, with a stoic exterior so unlike the Lady Dunsbrooke, and a tenderness that came out when they had been in bed together. But there was more than that, Nasira was a good companion as well as good in bed.
Nasira would adapt to a small cabin, and he idly pondered the notion of having her onboard when he went to sea. That would never be allowed, but it made for very pleasant thoughts. There was a low knock on the door.
"Yes?" Hamilton said, slightly irritated to be taken from his musings. The door crept open and Rachel Palmer stepped inside. She looked down at the floor.
"I'm sorry to disturb you, sir."
"Think nothing of it. How may I help you, Miss Palmer?"
"My mistress sent me to... to... to see you, sir." Hamilton swung out of the hammock.
"What is her concern?"
"There is no concern. I mean, she sent me to... you see, sir, she cannot meet you... and had asked me..." He looked at her, dark haired, not a startling beauty like Katherine Abington but she was attractive. She seemed to be wearing only a thin shift, and even in the dim light, he could see her nipples.
"I'm sorry, Miss Palmer. I don't quite understand why Lady Dunsbrooke sent you to see me." She looked up at him and smiled, weakly.
"My mistress says that I am to make myself available to you, sir, if you take my meaning. She knows it is not possible for you and her to... to be together and... she said... if you wish..."
"Ah." Hamilton hesitated for a moment and then stepped around her. He looked back and forth outside the cabin. There didn't seem to be anyone obvious in sight, and Mabson was on watch. Hamilton slowly closed the door and stepped next to the servant. "Now, why would you allow your mistress to send you to me like this?"
"My mistress has been kind to me, sir. I had nowhere else to go when she took me in." Standing behind her, in the dim light, the curve of her Rachel Palmer's neck suddenly seemed identical with how he remembered Nasira. He leaned in and kissed her there.
"Oh!... yes, sir, this is why... this is why..." Hamilton held her as he pressing his hips against her ass.
"Shh. We must be quiet. Now pull that off and let me see you." Rachel nodded. She reached down and brought the shift over her head. He turned her around slowly. Her breasts were modest in size, but he liked the way they felt, soft to his touch. Looking down he could see that her pussy, with short dark hair, was also trimmed. He wondered if Katherine insisted on doing that.
"Now, Rachel, turn back around and put your hands up and hold on to that beam in the deckhead above, yes, that one. Now don't let go until I tell you."
"Yes, sir." She reached up and put her palms against the low beam, causing her to bend forward, slightly. He kept behind her, pressing his bulge against her ass.
"And what else does your mistress have you do, hm?"
"Oh... she... she has made me serve her in bed." Hamilton had reached around and took hold of her breasts, squeezing as he played with them.
"Serve? You mean breakfast?"
"Yes, sir. I do that at times. But, also, mistress has also had me serve her body. Like how you had me do sir, climb under the blankets and lick... lick her cunt, sir, if I can say that."
"You certainly can. Was this the first time she licked your cunt?"
He slide his hands down, feeling her soft stomach and the curve of her hip. One hand moved in until it rested on her soft mound. "Oh, sir! Oh, yes...yes sir it was."
"I hope you enjoyed it, Miss Palmer." She nodded, unable to speak. Finding her slit he pressed his fingers into her delicate folds, then traced lightly over her slit. She was wet, but he didn't slide a finger inside her, not yet instead moving it up to find her clit. He found it and rubbed.
"You have to be quiet now." He was just able to reach one pair of his silk stockings. He balled it up with one hand and placed it in her mouth. The ends trailed down, but as long as she held it in her mouth it made an effective gag. As Hamilton played with her pussy Rachel squirmed in his grasp but kept her hands on the beam and didn't spit out the gag. He finally let one finger slip inside and she moaned, her hips pressing back against him.
She tilted her head back suddenly, almost knocking him in the nose. "Careful now," he said. "Your mistress, I am sure, makes good use of you. I would imagine that when you are in her chambers you are her slave."
Rachel nodded vigorously. "And you are a very pretty slave. If we weren't onboard ship I'd fuck you." She nodded faster and he could feel her legs quivering. He pushed one hand against her clit as fingers from the other now dipped into her cunt. Rachel screamed into the gag as he held her tightly, increasing her pleasure.
"You can put your hands down." He said. Taking hold of her shoulders and turning her around. He pulled the damp stocking from her mouth then guided her to her knees. Rachel looked up for a moment, just to make sure, then unbuttoned his breeches pulling his hard cock free and letting it slide into her mouth. She held onto the base with one hand as she sucked, bobbing her head back and forth rapidly.
"Yes. Very good. Oh, very good," he muttered. He held her head tightly with one hand as she moved back and forth, the other hand against the bulkhead. Already stimulated from holding her and playing with her, a surge of pleasure in his cock swept over him, and as he moaned quietly, his cum was in her throat. Rachel kept sucking, pulling her mouth back and forth as small traces of cum dripped onto her hands. Then pulled his sticky cock out and pressed it to her breasts, holding his shaft tightly against her soft skin.
"You're doing well, Rachel."
"Thank you sir," she said. She licked his cock to take off the traces of cum and then let him adjust his cock back inside his breeches. She buttoned him up and then stood before him.
"Now, you can go back and tell your mistress thank you," he said. Rachel composed herself and pulled the shift back on, unsure of what else to say she nodded and left. Suddenly feeling very warm Hamilton took a wet cloth and squeezed water across his face then climbed back into the hammock. Taking advantage of the poor young woman was hardly the behavior of a gentleman and yet... and yet he had not hesitated. It had been Tunis, where sex slaves were obedient and plentiful, that had given him the taste for controlling women, and it was now virtually impossible to pass up an opportunity to do just that.
The Ariadne was an efficient, well-run warship. During the first two weeks of the mission the frigate gave chase to a number of small coastal craft. A fast French chasse-marée, unusual outside of the Atlantic, was caught by surprise one morning. A small prize crew was dispatched to raise the English colors and take her back to Gibraltar. Two xebecs were caught, one French and one Spanish, while a third attempted to flee and was quickly dismasted. The remaining crew on that vessel had been taken prisoner and their damaged ship burned. Other coastal craft were inspected, a few seemed to be legitimate merchants from Istanbul, Boston, or Copenhagen. Those were released, while the others were given prize crews or burned depending on the value of their cargo. Two French warships were seen. A frigate refused to close and was ignored, while a larger French two-decker attempted a pursuit and was only eluded after a tight daylong chase. It remained unclear whether the French warships were colluding with the Corsairs.
Twenty days after leaving Gibraltar, just after dawn, a lookout spotted a sail. Hamilton was on watch and used a telescope to confirm the sighting. In the early morning glow along the horizon it was just possible to see that the vessel was not a ship, but a brig, with two masts.
"Glass!" Baynes yelled. Hamilton turned quickly and handed the telescope to Captain Baynes. Wearing only his naval jacket over a night shirt the captain looked for a minute through the telescope and then slammed it shut.
"Mr. Stepford!" Baynes said.
"Yes, sir!" the First Lieutenant yelled as he ran up on deck.
"Lay a course to pass within hail of that vessel, if you please. And we can do with the addition of t'gallants and royals. Make ready with stuns'ls, I'll crack on more if the wind freshens."
"Aye aye, sir," Stepford replied.
"And send word to my steward I will have my breakfast now," the Baynes said as he turned to go below.
"Captain!" Hamilton said suddenly, louder than he wanted to. "Captain, sir, if I may."
"Yes, what is it Mr. Hamilton?"
"I recognize the lines of the chase, sir. I believe that is the brig-sloop I commanded for the Bey of Tunis, sir." Baynes stared back at Hamilton for a long moment, then nodded and went below.
"What is happening, Edward?" Katherine asked, an hour later, as Hamilton paced along the starboard gangway.
Hamilton touched his hat. "Good morning, Lady Dunsbrooke. We have seen a vessel and seek to intercept. There is nothing to be concerned about."
"Sail ho!" came the cry from aloft. "Two sail!"
"Masthead!" Baynes yelled out from the quarter deck. "Where away?"
"Off the larboard bow, sir! One point and a half! They're hull down, fore-and-aft rigged. They're pulling on the chase, sir!" the lookout yelled.
"Mr. Hamilton!" Baynes yelled.
"Excuse me, Lady Dunsbrooke." Hamilton went to the quarterdeck where Baynes handed him the telescope.
"Mr. Hamilton, you know these people. Why would a pair of luggers be giving chase to your Tunisian brig?"
"Damn," Hamilton said as he scanned along the horizon. "Oh, I'm sorry, sir. Those are not luggers, they're galleys."
"War galleys, sir, with their lateen sails set. The brig-sloop was poorly armed, sir, just six guns, and she's no match for even one those galleys."
"Can she outrun them?"
"I don't think so, sir. Once the galleys get close, they'll step down their mast and take to oars. That'll drive them quickly for a short while, enough to easily catch the brig-sloop, I would think, sir."
Baynes took back the telescope. "Your brig-sloop has lines, Mr. Hamilton, I'll grant you that, but we have no dog in this fight, so I'm afraid..." Baynes voice trailed out as he looked closer. He turned and snapped to one of the midshipmen to take the glass aloft and look carefully at the brig-sloop.
"Deck! Chase is flying a signal, sir!" The midshipman yelled.
"Those are English flags, sir, but I can't find this signal in the book," Lieutenant Stepford said.
"You won't, Mr. Stepford, but I recognize it," Baynes said simply. "I stand corrected, Mr. Hamilton, we are going to protect your brig-sloop."
It would be at least two hours before the Ariadne closed with the galleys and the Captain dismissed the men to breakfast. Hamilton ate quickly and then found Katherine and her servant Rachel in their cabin. For the first time the Lady Dunsbrooke didn't have a sparkle of mischief in her eye.
"We'll be cleared for action soon, Katherine," Hamilton said. "I can escort you and Miss Palmer down to the cable tier."
"It's so dark down there, Edward."
"I know, but below the waterline you'll be safe. It won't be for long, this isn't going to be a daylong affair like when the French seventy-four chased us. A pair of galleys are no match for a frigate."
Katherine stood up and leaned against him. "Thank you Edward. I know you think I'm a fool with all the talk of pirates, but I am well aware of what fate Rachel and I would have were we taken by those particular ships."
"There is no reason to worry. You'll be safe, please follow me."
Twenty minutes later came the cry: "Beat to quarters! Clear for action!" Cabin walls were knocked down and stowed, including the bulkheads of the Captain's great cabin, leaving the entire gun deck open and clear of obstructions. Sand was spread across the decks to provide traction against blood. Water casts were secured and a few marines stationed at the ladders leading down to make sure no man left his station for the safely of the lower decks.
Hamilton paced back and forth between the two rows of cannon, speaking casually with the young midshipman and the nervous Lieutenant Mabson as he tried to reassure them. He wasn't sure how much he succeeded. Like all the officers, he now wore his best uniform, with his saber hanging uncomfortably at his side.
The gun captains worked their men with a well-practiced efficiency. Rammers, powder and shot, as well as handspikes and canister, and all the other tools were laid out. The gun were loaded, each ready to fire an 18-pound sphere of solid iron.
"Compliments of Mr. Stepson," a midshipman said. "You may run out the guns, sir."
Hamilton nodded, then roared to the men, "run out the guns!" The gun deck was suddenly brighter as the gun ports were opened. With a loud, groaning rumble the wooden trucks were pulled out as men strained at the ropes, and soon the heavy cannon were ready to be fired.
Hamilton walked down and back, barely noticing that Fourth Lieutenant Henry Mabson had begun to follow him, one step behind. Hamilton stopped near the larboard number 3 and stepped between the men to catch a better look through the gun port. The Ariadne was closing rapidly on the first galley, and it looked like Baynes was going to cross the Corsair's bow.
Hamilton nodded. He felt a pang in his stomach. He always did before battle. But it was critical that officers set an example and showed no fear. He did not envy those on the quarter deck who had to stand and act totally unconcerned, as if the iron and lead filling the air was no more dangerous than a raindrop.
"The Captain is bringing us to point blank range," Hamilton said at last. "Those galleys are doomed, so why aren't they running?"
"They must want that ship of yours badly, I wager," Mabson said, nervously speaking rapidly. "I think that is it. Something... something in that brig. That must be it, sir. I wager. "
"Oh, it was never my vessel, Mr. Mabson," Hamilton forced himself to speak calmly. "Though the Rose is a fine craft."
"Yes, sir, I mean, yes, Mr. Hamilton." Mabson nodded gravely. The Ariadne heeled, a slight correction as they closed on the first galley. The frigate bristled with cannon and yet the Corsairs were simply continuing their pursuit of the brig-sloop. It was a madness on their part, Hamilton wondered, or was it?
"I hear you slept with Lady Dunsbrooke," Mabson blurted out. "Oh my god, I'm sorry sir! I mean, Mr. Hamilton."
Several of the crew were laughing, though Hamilton barely noticed. There was something about those galleys. He could see it more clearly now, there was the low deck with its overhanging galleries for the banks of oars. But there was something more. They had added protection for the deck by building a low wall of planks on the gunwales that rose up and over, as if they were trying to cover the entire deck. But such planking would provide no protection against cannon, and the threat of musket fire seemed slight.
"Oh no...." Hamilton looked at Mabson for a moment and then ran to the ladder. He burst out on the quarterdeck. "Captain! That's not a galley!"
Baynes, standing in his full dress uniform, slowly put his telescope down but didn't seem to notice Hamilton.
"Captain! Please sir, that is not a galley!"
Baynes abruptly turned and glared at him. "The gunwales, sir," Hamilton added, suddenly worried he was making a terrible mistake. For a terrible second Baynes looked ready to clap Hamilton in irons. Then he looked back out at the Corsair vessels. "Jesus, Mary and Joseph!" Baynes yelled. "Hard a-starboard! Now, man, now! Stepford, see to the braces!"
"Aye, sir," the first Lieutenant yelled. "Haul the mains'l round! Get moving, Jackson, damn your eyes. On deck, there! Have at it! Take hold and heave hard!" The crew leapt into action, driven by the urgency in the officer's voices. The Ariadne began to shift course, slowly bringing its broadside to bear.
"To your station, Mr. Hamilton!" the Captain ordered.
"Aye, sir." Hamilton slid down the ladder to the gun deck.
"Edward!" Katherine cried.
"I'm sorry, sir. She insisted she had to find you, sir," said a marine in her wake.
"Get below, Katherine, now!"
"Edward!" Katherine grabbed his arm. "You cannot let them take me! You must promise!"
"You must get below!" Hamilton pushed her away and yelled at the marine. "Take her down to the cable tier. Carry her if you must, do anything, just get her below!"
"You'll be safe," he said, before turning and running forward. He could see the enemy through the open gun ports as he ran. The Corsair vessel looked like a galley, she almost certainly had been built as one, but unlike a war galley there was no compliment of men shackled to oars. Instead, a dozen heavy guns had been secured to each side of the deck, hidden behind the screen of planks.
And those planks were knocked away.
"Steady men!" Hamilton said as he drew his saber. The guns of the Ariadne were coming to bear, he held his breath.
There was a bright flash from the corsair and clouds of dark smoke. The dull roar of the enemy guns was followed by series of loud crashes the air as 24-pound shot smashed against the thick wooden hull. One ball smashed through the hull with a sharp crack a few yards aft, then a second blasted through, each causing a torrent of deadly oak splinters. Men yelled, at least four were down.
"Fire as she bears!" shouted someone from deck.
"Steady men!" Hamilton yelled. "Wait on the roll! Wait for it! Wait!" He slashed his saber down. "FIRE!"
The larboard guns roared one after another as each gun captain sighted the enemy mainmast. The heavy cannon jerked back from recoil in sequence. The sound of the broadside was overwhelming, and Hamilton felt it more than heard it. Dense clouds of black and grey smoke filled the air outside the gun ports, blocking the view of the enemy.
"Reload!" Hamilton yelled, although all he heard was a loud ringing. His eyes stung. He could taste the saltpeter in the air. The gun crews worked hard, no navy fired faster than the English. The clouds of smoke slowly cleared and it looked as if the Ariadne was now on a course parallel with the enemy vessel, about two hundred yards away. Hamilton stepped clear as the sailors hauled the heavy cables and the guns were run back out.
"Steady men! Steady! Fire!" he yelled, and it seemed as if he could hear his own voice again, though barely. Each gun captain pulled hard on a lanyard, snapping a flintlock on the primer, and exploding the charge, propelling the solid shot with a stabbing flame and dense cloud of smoke.
"Reload!" Hamilton knew the Corsairs would fire again soon. Though they weren't as fast as the English, they couldn't be. Hamilton looked around at the men working hard at the guns and suddenly he thought of Nasira. She had been in battles, fighting for her Sultan against the Russians, Austrians, and Venetians. Nasira knew what it was like, the fear and exhilaration, the panic and euphoria. Had she fought against Venice? He suddenly wasn't sure. And he wondered why he worried about this now.
There were more sharp cracks, and Hamilton turned to see a trio of men slammed back as a shot crashed through the hull, bounced off a beam and landed in the middle of one of the starboard gun crews. A young boy, one of the power monkeys, ran across the deck through one of the growing smears of blood, leaving a trail of red footprints.
"Reload!" he yelled more by instinct than anything else. The smoke was thick, and he ran up and down behind the gun crews, glancing down now and then to see if the enemy had been hit, but taking care to stay clear of the men working the guns. Of course there were two galleys, and almost certainly both were decoys with guns in place of oars. He had only seen the first. The second should have been visible if it still followed closely behind the other. But if instead the second corsair had turned to present its guns it would have fallen aft.
"Damn," Hamilton ran down pushing the men on the guns. "Down! Lie down between your guns! Now!"
He wasn't sure how many understood what he was trying to do, because a moment later the stern windows exploded. The second corsair had turned to fire a raking shot. The range was long and most shots missed, but two heavy iron shot had smashed inside and blasted down the length of the ship, bouncing off men, guns, and beams, sending shards of smashed wood through the air to wound and kill more.
Hamilton turned and suddenly he was looking at the deck. He could see Mabson, but the young Lieutenant was standing sideways. He could taste salt, but it was damp, not dry like powder smoke. Hamilton felt water on his head and reached up. He could see out of only one eye. There was water on his head. No. Blood. He was covered with blood. Hamilton realized he was lying on the deck and then lost consciousness.
Voyage Of The Istanbul Tigress Ch. 02
June 1799, Off Sicily
Hamilton woke up with a start. Someone was watching him.
A woman. "Nasira?" he tried to ask.
"You're going to be all right, Edward." His eyes came into focus. Katherine Abington was looking down at him, and after a moment he realized she was speaking. Hamilton tried to sit up, but a surge of pain across his head put an end to that.
Around him he could hear moans of agony, men asking for water, and then someone a few yards away cried "Hold him steady!" and there was a loud scream.
Hamilton was on the frigate Ariadne, the he knew. He had been brought down to the orlop deck, under the ship's waterline, where the wounded were sent during battle and the surgeon did his work. With a sudden panic Hamilton forced himself to sit up, ignoring the pulsating pain in his head. Like most men he feared the surgeon's knife far more than any cannon ball, he looked and felt to make sure his limbs were intact before collapsing again.
"You should lie still, Edward. You were hit with a splinter, but Dr. Maitland says he was able to clean the wound. You'll feel better soon, but you must rest." He heard what she said, he understood it, but it seemed to be happening to someone else. Hamilton reached up and felt a bandage around his head.
"I need to return to my duty," he said, weakly.
"Stay here. The battle is over."
"I don't know what happened, Rachel and I have been helping the doctor. I heard Lieutenant Mabson say that both galleys were sunk."
"Mabson? On no..."
"He will be fine, Edward. Quiet yourself and lie back." He couldn't see Rachel Palmer, but Katherine's voice was steady and reassuring. It seemed odd that such a flighty woman would take the horrors of battle so calmly.
"Rest, Edward." He felt something cool on his forehead and then he did.
Hamilton dreams. He is standing on the walls of Massih Bey's fortress in the middle of Tunis. He looks out across the harbor, but this isn't the Lake of Tunis. He sees the Royal Dockyards in Deptford, along the Thames, crowded with warships and East Indiaman, wooden hulls packed together, a forest of masts and yards, oared boats and tenders and other small craft slipping between the ships. All of this is somehow before the white stone chaos of densely packed buildings that is Tunis.
Nasira is standing next to him. The wind is whipping her hair, streaming it to one side just as it had done when she stood on the deck of the Rose holding a cask of powder. Nasira is not wearing her uniform. She is wearing only a light wrap around her hips; the same simple covering worn by the household slaves of Massih Bey that are available for sex. He is walking toward Nasira. He puts his hand on her face. He feels her cheek and she smiles as he slides his hand down her neck, down the top of her breast, down to her nipple. He loves her breasts, the softness is perfect, they fit so easily in his hands.
"Nasira," he says. He wants to say something more but the words are not there. He tries and tries but all he can do is say her name.
"No man may be inside me," she says, quoting one of the rules of the Kocek Kapikulu, the female Janissaries of Massih Bey. He knows this rule, he knows it all too well. But when he was in Tunis, months before, those rules did not forbid him from touching her body, from caressing her ass and moving his hand slowly down along the soft skin of her inner thighs, from letting his tongue slide around and around her nipples, from tracing the soft folds of her pussy.
Hamilton dreams he is lying in bed. Nasira is underneath him as he sucks on her left nipple. They are in a room at a boarding house in Portsmouth, one he used when he was a midshipman, on a soft feather bed, though much bigger and much softer than any he could possibly have afforded back then. He puts both hands on her left breast, squeezing her soft flesh and playing as his lips over her nipple. Nasira runs her hands through his hair. She moans softly. His cock is pressed against her slit. He moves his hips, just slightly, just the right way, and his hard shaft presses against the dampness. He knows that she wants him inside her as much as he does. He wonders if this time, just once --
"Never," she says quietly, even though he hadn't asked the question.
Hamilton dreams of Katherine Abington. She is in bed next to them, naked, with her hands bound to an iron ring in a wall inlaid with geometric tiles. Katherine is struggling against her bonds, twisting her body, sliding her legs up and down on the sheets. Katherine is breathing faster, starting to panic as she pulls harder and harder on the soft silk wrapped around her wrists. The bonds look like they are going to rip at any moment. But they don't part. Katherine knows she is bound to the bed and at their mercy.
"Fuck me," Katherine says suddenly, urgently. "Fuck me like you fucked the slaves in Tunis."
He rolls off Nasira. He reaches out for Katherine but Nasira catches his hand. She is gently holding him back. Nasira rolls across the wide bed, she is moving over Katherine, her tongue slides across the bound blonde's torso, leaving a growing trail of slick dampness leading down, closer, and closer, over her mount, and to Katherine's slit. Nasira uses two fingers to separate her folds. She flicks her tongue back and forth over Katherine's clit. Nasira presses one finger up inside the bound woman's wet cunt as she licks and teases her clit. Katherine stops struggling.
Hamilton dreams he is in the antechamber of the Pearl Room. Katherine is sitting inside a small golden cage. Her legs are drawn up and her hands pulled across her chest. Nasira is walking around the cage. She stops and reaches in to touch Katherine's hair. Katherine tilts her head and smiles. Nasira, now wearing the loose-fitting clothes of her uniform, opens the cage door. She reaches in. Katherine looks excited and then frightened, as if she can't decide which. Nasira drags her out by the hair.
He is watching the two women. He is wearing his naval uniform. Something feels wrong, and it isn't his cock which is pressing hard against his breeches. That feels very right. He reaches up expecting to find his hat but there is only a sticky wetness. He brings his hand down and sees it is covered in blood. He doesn't care about that. He wants to take both beautiful women into the Pearl Room, where there are iron rings and posts for securing slaves, crops, canes, and floggers. He wants to see both women naked and bound. He wants to take the small golden chains and clamp them on their nipples, left nipple to left nipple, right to right, so that they are bound close together.
Hamilton dreams of the Pearl Room. Rachel Palmer is standing against a wall with a shimmering pattern of geometric shapes. She is naked. Hamilton looks at her and then at Katherine and then Nasira, three women to play with! He is walking to them.
And he wakes up. "Damn," Hamilton muttered. He could see from shapes of the beams on the deckhead above that he was no longer in the orlop, but back in his cabin. He felt hot even though he was lying in his cot, naked, under a single, thin sheet. He closed his eyes for a moment and smiled when he felt the cool water on his forehead. He looked up.
"Yes, sir," Rachel said as she pressed the damp cloth against his head and then down on his chest. "Mr. Hopley and another man, they brought you here from that other place, sir. I am taking my turn in watching you. My mistress was watching over you earlier, but she had helped the surgeon and needed to lie down, would you like me to go find her?"
"No. Where is Mr. Mabson?"
"He was moved to another cabin, sir. One of the other Lieutenants he... I'm sorry sir."
"It was him sir, Mr. Galloway. They says he died quick."
"They always say that." Rachel looked down and nodded. He reached over and touched her chin. "It's all right, I'm sure he died bravely. Thank you for being here."
"My mistress tells me that I should be available, sir. If there is anything more..."
"Come up here." He guided Rachel up onto the cot, pausing for a moment to make sure the ropes holding it to the beams above were strong enough. They were, and soon she was lying on top of him. She was wearing a simple frock, but he could easily feel her thighs on his legs. His head was no longer pounding. "So, Miss Palmer, you will do anything Lady Dunsbrooke asks?"
Rachel nodded. "And why is that? Your duties go beyond those of the usual servant. Why do you let her treat you like her slave?"
"I don't feel like a slave, sir. She treats me well, she does." Hamilton nodded as they swung slowly against the ship's roll. "How did you come into the employ of Lady Dunsbrooke?"
"When I was married off, sir, three years ago and two months, I moved from Langton Green to Palmer's farm out by the Dornden Common."
"I am, sir, though by deed no longer. Mr. Palmer is a cruel man, though I didn't know that at first. One day, he was drinking, he was always cruel when he was drinking, but he pulls me from the kitchen and yells he don't want me."
"Then he is foolish as well as cruel. So you left this man and went to work for Lady Dunsbrooke?"
"No, sir. I mean, yes, sir, but not like that. Thaddeus, that would be my husband, he said I was having relations with Hugh Ramsay, he drew wire and nails for the coach builders, but that would be a terrible lie! Hugh Ramsay is a fair man, fairer than my husband ever was, and I should not deny my warmth when he came round, but that was all, sir, I swear it, and I never done any of the things he says."
"I'm sure you didn't."
"So then Mr. Palmer, he had brought home a yoke, he did. He brought it from Mr. Ephram's place, right across the commons. He, my husband that is, he pulls me down and puts the yoke over my neck. He used a belt on me, most cruelly, to make me lie still, while he bound my hands to each end, and then he fashioned himself a loop for my neck, and all of this had me tight to the beam." Rachel pressed her head down on Hamilton's chest. "He tied a rope to the hitch then, and all the while I knew what he was doing and I swore I was not wanton.
He wouldn't listen, he just told me to shut up, that I was a dirty bunter and that I was unfit and then he done took me down to the Roebuck's, that being an inn on the Turnbridge Road." She tilted her head to look at him. "It's a custom, sir, in the country, you see."
"Yes, I know. It's an old-fashioned way of getting a divorce. So did this other man refuse to pay whatever token price your husband set?"
"No, sir. Hugh Ramsay did not want me as his wife. Thaddeus, he was pulling me in front of the men and then he tore my frock, he did, he ripped and pulled and exposed me. He had my breasts and cunt, excuse me, sir, he had all of my commodity on display and began to yell 'tis a penny gaff' over and again and that anyone could buy me."
Hamilton pressed his cock harder against Rachel's thigh. He wanted to be sympathetic, but the idea of this young woman stripped naked and being offered for sale was too powerful of an image.
"There were men, sir, they wanted me. They would keep me, they said, and use me, they said, and then sell me to a covey house in London and I'd be a right toffer and that I'd do what they told me or get the belt." Rachel smiled weakly, her hips moving against his cock. "They were not kind men, not like you sir."
"I may be many things, Rachel, but I am not kind."
"I think you are, sir." She looked embarrassed. "Lady Dunsbrooke was in a coach and four and by my good fortune she had her coachman stop. My mistress, though she was not yet my mistress, she paid Mr. Palmer a guinea and that stunned him so much, like he'd been knocked about on the head with a spade, that Mrs. Beedle was able to untie me. Then I ran for the coach and my mistress opened the door herself! I was let in and I have been in her service and debt ever since."
"In many other lands, a story like that would mean Lady Dunsbrooke bought herself a slave."
"She is good to me, sir. I do things. She has a liking for me. I don't mind. I do things others will not do, I know that, like I have done in your presence, sir, but I am not in misery. I like serving mistress and...I have nowhere else to go."
Hamilton would have liked to fuck her then and there, but they could hear Dr. Maitland moving awkwardly down the passage. Rachel jumped down from the cot and tried to smooth her skirt, not that it mattered, Maitland had far more pressing cases to deal with and looked in for no more than ten seconds. He ordered Rachel to leave and Hamilton to rest.
Hamilton slept again, more than he expected to. Feeling somewhat better, he climbed out of the cot, changed to his undress uniform, and went up on deck. It was late, perhaps an hour before sunset. A new foretop yard was being hoisted in time to shouted orders. There were other signs of battle everywhere, gouges in the rails, small fragments of wood lurking about, and men repairing tears in the sails. But, as naval actions went, none of the damage to the Ariadne looked serious.
As for the butcher's bill, Hamilton knew that smears of blood had already been swabbed clean. Off the starboard quarter was the brig-sloop the Corsairs had been chasing. It was hove-to, under bare masts and riding a kedge anchor. Hamilton suddenly remembered the simple pleasures of sailing the Rose across the Lake of Tunis with a crew of beautiful sex slaves. But there was something slightly different about this brig-sloop. The bow was cut sharply, and there were eight guns ports on the side, the stern had a deeper bend. This vessel was very similar to the Rose, but it was clearly a different vessel.
"Mr. Hamilton!" the Captain called from the quarterdeck. Hamilton stepped under the yard under repair and saw Captain Baynes next to the rotund figure of Pieter Van Schoonhoven.
"Ah, yes! Lieutenant Hamilton!" Van Schoonhoven said. He stepped forward and grasped Hamilton by the shoulders. "I am so very sorry to hear of your injury! You will be, as they say, fit as a fiddle, yes?"
The Dutchman laughed. "I'll be fine. Thank you." All pretense of politeness vanished and he asked, point blank, "Why are you here?"
"Why because of the Tigress!" Van Schoonhoven said, pointing at the brig-sloop. "The name came from Mr. Ghanashyam, oh you may call him Ganny, yes? He was most helpful in arranging the pecuniary details when the keels for these ships were set down in Tunis."
Hamilton just stared at Van Schoonhoven, a man he had never expected, nor particular wanted to, meet again after Tunis. "Oh, my apologies, Mr. Hamilton. Not a ship! Yes, yes, a ship has three solid masts, oh you men of the sea are so exact, and my Tigress a mere two. A brig she is, yes, but the finest ever built!"
"She looks most weatherly."
"If you will excuse us, Mr. Van Schoonhoven," the Captain said with more than a trance of irritation, "Mr. Hamilton and I have some matters to discuss." The Captain stepped down to his cabin. Hamilton followed. Planks had been placed temporarily over the smashed stern window, and with only the skylight windows and a few lamps the great cabin was gloomier than usual. The lack of illumination was perhaps for the best, Hamilton suddenly realized, as he looked around at the deeply cut wood on the deck with traces of dried blood. The aft gun crews had been hardest hit by the raking shots.
"I trust you are feeling better, Mr. Hamilton."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
"You performed admirably in this action, Hamilton, and be assured that your name will be mentioned in my dispatches. The butcher's bill would have been significantly higher if you hadn't ordered the men to lie down between the guns."
"Thank you, sir. I only did my duty, sir."
"Of course. It pains me to report that Mr. Galloway was struck down."
"Yes, sir. I was sorry to hear that."
"Now. This Mr. Van Schoonhoven." Baynes stretched out the Dutchman's name. "You are familiar with him?"
"Yes, sir. He was the English representative in Tunis. Or I suppose he still is, sir, as far as I know."
"Do you trust him?"
"Well, sir..." Van Schoonhoven had lied to him before. The mission to Tunis had been entwined with an internal power struggle in that city, something the Dutchman had neglected to mention when he arrived in that city. But perhaps, Hamilton thought, and not for the first time, that those omissions had been for justifiable reasons. Hamilton didn't like Van Schoonhoven, but the Dutchman had not deceived him out of spite or merely for personal gain.
"I think so, sir."
"Hmm." Baynes did not look happy. "He has in his possession a coded letter which is referenced in a set of sealed order I received from Sir Richard. Therefore, though with some reservations, I feel compelled to take Mr. Van Schoonhoven at his word. This means that you, Mr. Hamilton, have new orders."
Baynes pulled out a chart and pointed to a location south of Sicily. "We are presently almost forty leagues from Palermo. You are to escort Lady Dunsbrooke on the Tigress and deliver her to the court of King Ferdinand."
"Lady Dunsbrooke has, apparently, arranged for this Tunisian brig-sloop to meet her off the coast of Gibraltar. There were delays, I am inferring, and so she took passage with us in hopes of meeting her at sea. Sir Richard had informed me of the possibility of an encounter with a small vessel flying a certain private number. Mr. Van Schoonhoven's brig was displaying those flags and so I am directed to transfer Lady Dunsbrooke to this sloop."
"Yes, sir. I will direct that presently."
"There is more, Mr. Hamilton," said Baynes as he picked up the canvas packet which had held his sealed orders. "Somewhat to my surprise, I am required to have you accompany her. Your presence is deemed essential, which I presume is due to your familiarity with this Tunisian design."
"Me? Uh, yes, sir."
"In yet another twist to this affair a second set of sealed orders was included in the first." He handed Hamilton a single double folded sheet with a bright red seal. "These are not to be opened until you are aboard that vessel. I have no idea why, in their wisdom, the Admiralty has seen fit to add these layers of secrecy, but there they are, and while I am not going to speculate on the nature of your commission, I suspect it is more complex that a simple cruise of forty leagues."
"Yes, sir. I understand, sir, and I will, of course, carry out my orders." Hamilton touched the bandage on his head, then quickly pulled his hand down. "However, if I might sir --"
"Ask why? Why has this woman contacted a Turkish sloop? I have no answers for you, Mr. Hamilton, other than to tell you that it is entangled with the business of the Foreign Office. Perhaps you will be enlightened when you read your orders."
"Yes, sir." The initial excitement of being given a command, however small the vessel, was suddenly eclipsed by a dread. After taking Katherine to Sicily he would return to Gibraltar, and from there to England, where he would be put ashore at half-pay until he could find a berth on another ship. If he could find one. "Sir, will it be possible for me to rejoin the Ariadne on my return from Palermo?"
"I hope you will, Mr. Hamilton, though I am not sure we will cross paths. With this diplomatic mission no longer my direct concern, the Ariadne will be bending a course north towards Sardinia. However, as with everything in war, all is subject to change once we encounter the enemy."
"Of course, sir. I understand." Hamilton touched his hat. "It has been an honor to serve with you, Captain Baynes, and I do hope that I can return to the Ariadne quickly."
"Indeed. Your instincts were right about those perfidious masked galleys, Hamilton. I freely admit I will be much pleased if I now only have to deal with the French. However, and to the point, I have full confidence in your resourcefulness, no matter what impediments you might encounter."
"Thank you, sir."
"It seems as if I have lost two lieutenants in this action." Baynes stuck out his hand. "Good luck, Mr. Hamilton."
"Yes, sir," he said, shaking the Captain's hand. "I will see to the transfer at once."
Hamilton turned to leave. "Oh, there is one more thing," the Captain said.
"The strangest rumors fly about inside the confines of a warship." Hamilton starred and thought it best to say nothing. Then, to his intense relief, he noticed Baynes smiling, if only very slightly.
"Exercise caution, Mr. Hamilton. You are dismissed."
"Thank you, sir."
Two hours later Hamilton sat in the stern sheets of the last boat being rowed from the Ariadne to the Tigress. Katherine sat next to him, in a light blue dress, her blonde hair pulled up and light scarf around her head. She had hemmed and she had hawed, checking and double checking and triple checking to make sure her trunks had been packed correctly, while Baynes had grown more and more annoyed, and Hamilton's head had begun to pound with each new delay.
King George himself could not have induced her to move faster. Once the boat was clear the Ariadne had not wasted a moment. Hamilton looked back to see that the kedge had already been raised and topsails set. The frigate began to move off to the north.
"I had Mr. Van Schoonhoven ensure that the group of men with us do not understand English," Katherine said, indicating the coxswain and the six men who pulled hard on the oars. All watched the woman carefully, which annoyed Hamilton, but the leering did not prevent them from maintaining a fast stroke.
"I would not trust him too far," Hamilton said. He raised his hand to his head, feeling the bandage under his cocked hat. His head pounded a little, just enough to be very irritating.
"Oh, I think I can trust him on this, as he already knows what I am about to tell you. I simply want to make you aware of the situation, Edward, while we have a moment of linguistic privacy." Hamilton looked at her and his eyes narrowed.
"I am taking you to Palermo, Katherine. We are not making a stop in Tunis."
"I'm not as frivolous as you think, Edward. I really am here at the behest of the Foreign Office, and for legitimate cause. You will see as much when you open those orders Captain Baynes gave you."
"I will follow whatever orders I am given, madam, even if they were written by a besotted old Admiral who wouldn't dare doubt the word of a Lady."
Katherine was quiet for a moment. "I do owe you an apology, Edward."
"You owe me nothing."
"But I do. I present myself with far less sense that I actually possess."
"And why would that be?"
"I work for the Foreign Office to find the secrets of our enemies.
"That you said."
"Men who would die rather than let an enemy learn the number of buttons on their jacket will readily reveal their deepest plans and most intimate secrets if they think it will impress a woman enough to bed her. And they are especially free with their talk of ravelins and chasseurs and pontoniers if they think the woman has little sense of it. It is a curious trait of men, but one I see in every nation."
Hamilton didn't know what to say, he had never quite known what a ravelin was. He touched his bandage again, a habit he knew he was going to have to break. "Now let me tell you what is in the piece of paper Captain Baynes gave you," Katherine said.
"We are going to Istanbul."
"Well, Sir Richard will no doubt have written it as Constantinople, but that is where I must go to deliver a gift to the Sultan."
"What sort of gift?"
"Jesus!" Hamilton looked away for a moment. "I'm not interesting in hearing these ludicrous tales, Katherine! I'm talking you to Palermo and I will be glad to be rid of you."
"I'm sorry you feel that way about me, Edward. But you will see when you open the letter."
"I didn't mean that, Katherine." Hamilton touched his head again absently. "It's this business with the Bey of Tunis and all these bloody pirates. I've destroyed my career." Katherine said something in Turkish, to the astonishment of all. The coxswain nodded, and the boat was rowed to the Tigress' stern. The brig-sloop was hove to, but a painter was dropped down and tied to the boat to secure it against drift. The men at the oars didn't seem to mind. They could simply wait and stare at the beautiful woman.
"I need a chance to explain, Edward, before we go aboard. You should know that I have been gathering intelligence at the behest of the Foreign Office for several years now. I seduced a French General and was able to copy the secret signals they use with their semaphore. I only recently returned from several tedious months in Spain, acting the role of a young heiress to the estate of her Castilian nobleman while seducing Spanish colonels."
Her eyes brightened and she smiled broadly. "And now, Edward, I will use my skills to keep the Sultan from making a French alliance." Hamilton listened to her carefully. Her tone, as well as the nature of what she was saying, did not seem to be the sort of fabrication he would have expected from her. But it remained a strange tale.
"How will sending you to the Sultan be of assistance to England?"
"Do you doubt my charms?"
"No. But..." He found himself touching the bandage again. "I do not doubt your charms in bed, and I have heard that the current Sultan is quite absorbed in his Harem. But, even if he is an indifferent monarch, I can't see why he would possibly refuse an alliance with France simply because he could fuck you. That Corsican, Bonaparte, has taken Egypt from him, so it stands to reason that the Sultan already opposes France."
"Indeed, the Sultan is opposed to France. Now, however, Bonaparte plans on invading up the coast of the Holy Land. His army is small but they are very good. If the French reach Damascus, or, heaven forbid, even farther north, the Turks may suddenly find it expedient to reach an agreement."
"What difference would make whether that French army is fighting the Turk or garrisoning Istanbul?"
"You need to think more strategically, Edward. A French peace with the Sultan would free Bonaparte to turn east. To India. I have met Bonaparte, a curious man who cheats at cards and then laughs when he is found out. But you must not underestimate his ambitions. The Foreign Office knows he is seeking a junction with the Sultan Tippu in Mysore, and if the French are able to reinforce Tippu they would be able to push everything English out of India."
Hamilton was taken aback by her knowledge of so many details. "You can keep the Sultan from treating with the French no matter what Bonaparte does?"
Katherine smiled and laughed. "I really do have a fascination with the Harem, that is no affectation. I am quite confident that the Sultan will be extremely pleased with the gift of English noble blood." She patted his cheek. "I think I shall be able to keep the man occupied."
Katherine said one word in Turkish, prompting the coxswain to set the men to their oars, and bring the boat to the Tigress' side. Hamilton climbed up and over the rail. There was no bosun's pipes, no midshipman or marines standing at attention, nor had he expected that. He was prepared for a rabble, but instead of unruly pirates, he saw groups of sailors going about their work in a seamen-like fashion. It was a great mixture of men, Europeans, Turks, and Africans, few of whom gave Hamilton, as he stood on the gangway in his best naval uniform, even a glance.
Katherine was brought aboard on a sling. The sailors took an interest in her, much more than would have been allowed on an English ship, and she reveled in the attention.
"Ah, Captain!" Van Schoonhoven yelled. "The pleasure is mine again, yes? And the great Lady Dunsbrooke! Indeed, an honor, oh yes, a very great honor to meet you at last. I am your humble servant, my Lady. The charming Miss Palmer is below, she is making your stay quite comfortable!"
"I'm not a Captain," Hamilton said to Van Schoonhoven.
"Ah, but you are, sir, you are! These men know of you, and they wish for you to be their Captain! Your reputation is very big, yes? You earned it with your great fight against Mor Cuanaich!"
"Mor Cuanaich!" Van Schoonhoven laughed. "The galley that followed the Rose, yes? Off the shores of Tunis? Captain Hamilton, you may recall how your Miss Nasira was able to disrupt them with her cask of powder. A clever ruse that was, yes? And I beg you to remember how easily the Rose was then able to escape from the clutches of that pirate craft!"
"Of course I remember," he replied, irritated that he referred to 'your' Nasira.
"That was his galley! The war galley of Mor Cuanaich! You did more the elude him, Captain Hamilton, you humiliated him! A great victory." Van Schoonhoven leaned in, but still spoke loudly. "Alas, now his fleet of galleys is hunting us! He knows of our gift." He glanced for a moment at Katherine. "He stands outside the commands of the Beys of Tunis and Algiers and Tripoli. He does not even pay homage to the Sultan. He is a renegade, yes? And you, Captain Hamilton, you have the wits to defeat him once again!"
"I think Captain Hamilton should rest," Katherine said, standing next to him.
"I'm fine, ma'am." He said, touching his head once more, but he knew she was right.
"To bed then! Yes, yes, the great cabin is yours! Of course!"
Hamilton awoke at night, not happy that he had slept for so long. He had read his orders before he collapsed on his cot. Three times. They were short and to the point: he was requested and required to render all assistance to Lady Dunsbrooke and deliver her to the Sultan of the Sublime Ottoman Porte. It was all exactly as she had explained.
He walked to the stern windows where he could see a glint of moonlight across the wave tops. He was naked, but that hardly mattered as he was alone. Looking out at the black sea and dark sky he wondered how much of a mistake he was making. No matter what happened while he commanded this vessel it would count for nothing with the Admiralty because it was not an English ship. He could stop Bonaparte, conquer the Ottoman Empire, or restore Louis to Paris, and it wouldn't matter one fig. When he returned to England he would be just another Lieutenant on half-pay waiting for a berth.
"I would imagine you are happy to be going to Istanbul."
Hamilton whirled around. He could just make out Katherine's outline in the dim doorway. "Damn your eyes, woman! Knock!"
"My cabin is right out here, the fore-cabin I think they call it," she walked over to him discretely brushed his ass. She was also naked.
"You can't possibly stay in here, Katherine."
"This isn't an English ship. The crew accepts that their Captain is entitled to have a woman of his own. I think they might insist. Or would you rather I was out with the other women?"
"Ten serve the men on this ship, according to Pieter. Eleven if you count Rachel."
"Has she been sent to serve the crew?"
"No. She is with me now, but you are the Captain."
"Have Miss Palmer stay in the fore-cabin with you. You can return to it now."
She pouted, "Oh, you don't want me?" She pressed one hand to his cock, which was already hardening.
He slid his hands around her waist. He mood was lighter as he held her soft body close to him. "Well, I didn't say I wouldn't fuck you first."
"I can fuck as well as that slave in Tunis." It took a moment for Hamilton to understand what she was referring to. He pushed her away, and she staggered to the middle of the dark cabin.
"What? Oh, I am sorry, Edward. That wasn't very kind of me to say."
"No it was not."
"Pieter told me about her. Nasira bint Evranaki -- is that how her name is pronounced?"
"I would rather you didn't pronounce it at all."
"He told me you spent a great deal of time with her in Tunis."
"It hardly matters now."
"You cared for her a great deal?"
"That is not your concern."
"I think it is. I have wondered why you seemed distant at times and now I know why."
"These affairs are my own. You will not discuss it."
"You are in love with her, aren't you?"
"Damn you, woman," he snarled. "Be quiet!"
Katherine stepped closer to him. "Aren't you happy to be going to Istanbul? Maybe you can find her."
He whirled back and grabbed her hair, yanking back her head. "You want to be a slave? Is that it? Then be a slave. I'll deliver you to the Sultan, untarnished with glistening skin and erect nipples, ready for fucking. But until then, while this is my ship, while I am the Captain, you will serve me."
"Yes," she said, breathlessly. "I want to be your slave."
"This isn't a game! You are now my property. Do you understand that? No other Englishman will see you before you are given away as a gift. I can do anything I want with you."
"Yes... yes, use me." He pulled harder on her hair and dragged her towards the cot. She cried out in surprise. Reaching down he found a spare line used for the stern guns. He looped it around her waist several times.
"Oh... oh yes... oh, Edward....this hurts, wait.. Edward, stop, this rope is too coarse!"
"I don't care. You wanted to play slave, well now you are a slave and I will use you like a slave." He twisted the free end of the rope through the loops and then brought it down between her legs and back up in front of her.
"Ah! Please... not like this, Edward!" He pulled hard, adjusting the rope, making sure it was pressing against her slit before he tied it to the loops at her stomach. He left her standing for a moment as he looked for another short rope
"Edward, please! No!" He pulled her arms behind her back and coiled another thin line around her wrists and forearms, wrapping it several times, before he forced her to her knees, pulling the free end of the rope and looping it around to one ankle and then the other.
She was kneeling, her ankles bound together with a rope that trailing up to her wrists, then down between her legs and back up around her waist. "Edward!"
"Call me master."
"Edward!" He slapped her. The door to the cabin opened. Rachel Palmer stood frozen in the darkness.
"Close the door and get in here, I'll take you as well!" he yelled at Rachel.
"You heard me woman. Get in here now or I'll have you flogged."
"Uh.. yes.. yes sir."
"Now strip off your clothes." Rachel did, quickly taking off her frock and undergarments.
Hamilton sat back on his cot with Katherine on deck and between his legs. He pulled Katherine's head down towards his cock. She knew what to do, quickly opening her mouth and slipping the shaft inside.
"Get over here," he ordered Rachel. When she stepped within reach he grabbed her and pulled her onto the cot. Rachel pulled her legs up so her knees were against his chest, as he held her tightly and sucked greedily on her breasts.
"Oh! Yes, sir," Rachel said.
"Master!" he corrected.
"Yes, master," Rachel said softly. Hamilton let his tongue slide over Rachel's breasts as he wrapped his legs tightly around the kneeling Katherine. He licked the servants nipples while the Viscountess kept her mouth tightly around his cock. Then he pushed Rachel aside. Hamilton reached around and pressed Katherine's head closer to his body, holding her tightly and not letting her bob back and forth. Katherine let out a muffled cry and tried to pull her head back. Leaning down he took a firm grip of Katherine's hair and slipped her off his cock. "Did I tell you to stop sucking, slave?"
"No.. no, master."
"Rachel spank this slave."
"Do it or I will whip you both!"
"Yes, master." Rachel crawled across the deck, feeling for the Viscountess. She slide her hands down Katherine's back and then spanked her lightly ass.
"Yes, master!" Rachel began to spank with more force, first one side and then the other.
"I'm sorry mistress," Rachel whispered as Katherine struggled in her tight bonds.
"Enough. Rachel, get back up here," he ordered. "I should have done this on the Ariadne. Now, put your cunt onto my cock." He pulled the servant closer and laid back. She quickly moved into position on top of him and slide her body down slowly. Hamilton put his hands on her waist, holding her tightly as he moved his hips up and his cock slammed into her. Rachel cried out as he took her. He fucked her hard and fast and a moment later his cum was filling her cunt. When he was through he pushed her off. "Clean my cock, slave."
"Yes, master." Rachel slide down and put her mouth on his cock, licking and sucking carefully, cleaning off stray bit of cum as she also tasted her own juiced.
"Both of you go out to the fore-cabin," he snapped when Rachel was done. "I don't want to hear another word out of either of you. Go!" Katherine whimpered but said nothing more. With Rachel's help she was able to half-crawl back to the fore-cabin where she laid tightly bound on a small pile of clothes.
"Enter!" Hamilton said, not pausing as he pulled more and more charts from the small locker in his cabin. He glanced up to see Pieter Van Schoonhoven standing in the doorway talking to the women in the fore-cabin. Just before dawn Hamilton had allowed Rachel to untie Katherine, but he also made it clear he wanted both of them to stay out of his way. He had a sudden sympathy for Captain Baynes who had expressed a similar sentiment, though for vastly different reasons.
"Mr. Van Schoonhoven, I wish to speak to you when you have free moment in your social calendar," Hamilton snapped.
"Ah, yes, yes! My apologies, Captain," Van Schoonhoven closed the door and sat down. "I trust your injury is better, yes?"
"It is, thank you." He had had Rachel change the bandage on his head and had hoped to remove it completely, but it was still too raw a wound.
"I hope I can be of some service to you Captain, yes?"
"Indeed, you can be." Hamilton leaned forward and spoke quietly. "How well do you trust the men on this vessel?"
"The crew of the Tigress is above reproach! I can give you my word, sir. These are all handpicked men; an experienced crew. All were chosen for this very important task."
Hamilton sighed. "On an English ship, if I were to engage in a critical action, let us say, commanding a pair of boats to cut out a French ship, I would know the men were with me. Now, some men are braver than others and some are more competent under fire than others, but I would be confident that the men under my command would not betray my cause. Do you understand what I am asking?"
"Ah, yes, of course, yes! The men of this crew are not motivated to fight for your Britannic Majesty, they have little love for him, this is no surprise. But they are loyal to the Sultan, and only the Sultan. These men have pledged themselves, oh yes, sir, indeed, they have proven themselves, to be ghazah. That is -- how can I say? -- warriors for their faith!"
"That is all well and good, but I am not a Muslim."
"Ah, indeed you are not, Captain! Still, you are Ahl al-Kitāb, yes? Of the book? But that is of no concern, either. These are practical men and they know that you are here in the service of their Sultan. That is all that matters."
"Hm. Well, patriotism can be a strong motivator."
"That it can be, indeed!" Van Schoonhoven laughed. "There are, of course, other rewards."
"I assume they are well paid."
"Yes, yes! A great bonus awaits us all after the beautiful Lady Dunsbrooke takes her place in the Imperial Harem. But, on the voyage itself, as we sail past so many rich lands, we can engage in aspects of commerce, yes? That is to be expected."
"Commerce? I am not stopping this vessel to pick up a few baskets of figs."
"Oh, Captain, you may like the commerce they have been promised. Slaves!"
"Promised? Do you mean that the crew of this ship expects me to carry slaves?"
"Well... they are hoping for a raid on some rich infidel shore, from which a few choice slaves might be carried to the markets in Istanbul. It will hardly inconvenience you at all!"
Hamilton pounded the desk. "Damn it man, you mean they expect me to attack some Christian town and take slaves?"
"It is true that you are fond of attractive slaves, yes?" He laughed and pointed behind him, at the fore-cabin where Katherine and Rachel waited. "This is also in your favor, Captain Hamilton. The crew knows of this, that you are English, but that still you understand the needs that arise that can only be quenched with beautiful slaves, yes?"
Hamilton leaned back. He certainly couldn't deny Van Schoonhoven's statement. He had used the captive women in Tunis at almost every opportunity, and then there was his behavior the night before. This was hardly what was expected of an officer in His Britannic Majesty's service.
"This is a delicate mission, yes?" the Dutchman continued. "You deliver Lady Dunsbrooke to the Sultan as a great gift from England. Yet that gift cannot come from an English ship. If that were to happen there would be a terrible outcry in London, you see? And yet, the gift cannot be delivered on one of the Sultan's own ships without a risk that he will think she was simply stolen from some merchant vessel, taken as an ordinary slave, and that all talk of a gift is a plot by some French-hating courtiers."
Hamilton had realized all that. He just nodded once. "This brig-sloop is owned, by law and right by myself, it has a crew loyal to the Sultan and now an English captain. It is a mix that is, as a Jacobin might say, with par excellence! Ha ha."
Hamilton stood up and looked out at the bright Mediterranean. Would it have been better to have returned to England with his friend James Wray? Wray was happy there with his new bride, he assumed, perhaps happy enough to not care about spending time ashore at half-pay.
"Send for Mr. Ahmar, if you please, Mr. Van Schoonhoven," Hamilton said at last.
Qatadah al-Jameel ibn Ta'ullah al-Gizah, a tall man born on the Red Sea coast of Yemen, was known, for reasons Hamilton did not quite understand, as Ahmar. However, at once Hamilton recognized an excellent first officer, even if some of Ahmar's taciturn habits would not have been acceptable on an English ship.
Ahmar stepped inside the cabin. "Thank you, Mr. Ahmar." Hamilton pulled out a captured French naval chart and pointed to a small island off the western corner of Sicily. "My understanding is that we are ten leagues south of Marettimo. Is that your understanding as well?"
"Malitmah," Ahmar said.
"That is the name of the island in Arabic, Captain," Van Schoonhoven added.
"Very well, Malitmah. So you agree with this position? Good." Hamilton watched the Yemeni for a moment, standing expressionless. "I would like to know more about this Irishman who attacked you earlier. It is my understanding that he had eight large war galleys, leaving him with six now, and double as many smaller galliots. But does he have any square-rigged ships or is he confined to oared vessels?"
"Mor Cuanaich uses war galleys to raid. He is only interested in raiding villages. He has taken small ships at times. He uses them to transport slaves into Corsair ports."
"Ahmar is quite correct, of course! Yes, indeed! I have seen the captives of Mor Cuanaich paraded into Tunis. He has excellent taste you would agree, oh, I am sure! Yet, it is never said openly that they are his captives, never! And yet at the auction houses all know that these slaves are being sold by his agents."
"Parading slaves is hardly a cause for shame in Tunis, so why is he secretive? He is Irish yes, but he is not the first European to thrown in with the Corsairs."
"Ah, but you see Captain, since the French sent an army to Egypt the whole Mediterranean is covered by English ships, yes? In Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli, as well as in Istanbul, they do not wish to annoy England. A man like Mor Cuanaich is not as welcome as he might have once been."
"The same could be said of any Corsair captain with raiding galleys. How is he different?"
"He fights with the French," Ahmar said. "He fights against the English. Always."
"Indeed! Captain Hamilton does the name Wolf Tone strike fear in your heart?"
"Fear? No. Tone was a rebel. He was caught in '98 when the French tried to send soldiers to help the Irish rebels. Tone escaped the hangman only by cutting his own throat."
"Mor Cuanaich was a great friend of Wolfe Tone. A great friend from an earlier invasion in, oh, was it '96? Yes! In '96."
"That was hardly an invasion. The French reached Bantry Bay and then turned around. They said the weather was too foul for them to land any soldiers."
"The French are poor sailors," Ahmar stated.
"Yes, indeed! Alas, the events of that incident, in Bantry Bay, lead Mor Cuanaich to abandon Wolfe Tone. A wise choice, now, yes? He now claims to pursue the liberation of his beloved island from their cruel overlords in these waters, by becoming a great slave raiding pirate and earning money to fight the English everywhere."
"He has a particular dislike for you," Ahmar said.
"Me personally? Because I damaged his galley? Yes, I heard that."
"Not merely that, Captain Hamilton, you damaged his galley using a ship with a crew of women. That has caused much ridicule for Mor Cuanaich."
Hamilton sat down. He looked from the plump Van Schoonhoven, sitting with a broad smile, to the tall, stoic Ahmar. "If he has a dozen galleys he must have secure places to obtain supplies. That is too many to sneak into Tunis, and I suppose he might be using some cove along the Barbary shore. But, if he allies himself with the French does he use their ports?"
"Yes," Ahmar said. "Mor Cuanaich has been known to do this. In France and Spain. Galleys cannot remain at sea for long. He has been seen in waters of Cezayir --
"In the Aegean," Van Schoonhoven interjected.
"-- far to the east. He must have a haven... here." Ahmar pulled out a different chart and pointed to the toe of the Italian boot. "Where is unknown."
"I was thinking of Malta, now that it is under French garrison."
"He would if he could sneak under the eyes of the English. That water teems with your frigates."
"Very well, thank you." Hamilton looked over the charts. "Hm, perhaps we should find this renegade's Italian haven."
"I am no man of the sea, Captain Hamilton," Van Schoonhoven said. "But is it, perhaps, not the wise course to flee from these pirates, yes? The safety of Istanbul is very inviting, it calls like the embrace of a warm slave on a cold night!"
"It is inviting. Too inviting. Mor Cuanaich knows where we are bound. I would expect he would spread his net here. The galliots would make effective pickets." Hamilton drew his finger over an arc south east of Sicily. "Under sail this vessel is faster than one of his galleys. If there were only a few searching for us than I would risk a run straight through, but with his numbers there is a chance that we might be surrounded or, worse, driven into an ambush. Think of it as an elk being taken down by a pack of wolves." Hamilton looked up at both of them, sensing an agreement from Ahmar. "So, gentleman, we will set our course here, north to Sicily, along that island's eastern coast, and from there we will seek out Mor Cuanaich’ s safe harbor in French controlled Italy."
"How do we do this?" Ahmar said.
"I thought we might ask. With a Republican cockade on my hat and huge epaulets on my uniform I think I could pass for French captain. What do you think?"
Ahmar nodded and almost smiled.
"I know just who can assist with your uniform, Captain!" Van Schoonhoven said with a laugh. Ahmar nodded, almost imperceptibly, and then left as the Dutchman opened the door and yelled out in Turkish.
"We have many days to go, Mr. Van Schoonhoven, we need not to be concerned about these particular details now."
"Ah! But I would show you this anyway. Your head still hurts, yes? This will make you feel so much better!" A pair of women came in, both dressed as typical sailors. Hamilton realized he had seen them aloof and simply thought they were simply young topmen.
"Almas? Akouta?" He said.
"Yes, master," they replied in unison. The two beautiful twins instinctively took off their shirts. Their tanned bodies were covered with a light sweat, leaving their olive skin glistening. Almas and Akouta had been taken from Sicily and sold as sex slaves in Tunis, where they had been made part of the group of eight English speaking slaves who had formed the core crew of the Rose. The twins were fearless when aloft, and, seeing them here, he realized that working on a ship together was the perfect place for them.
Two other familiar women stepped inside. Unlike Almas and Akouta they wore short silken coverings over their hips and kept their breasts bare; the guise of a pleasure slave. Van Schoonhoven put his arm around a blonde. "Rana is my own little treat, she keeps me warm, yes?"
"Yes, master," Rana said, a slight waver in her voice. Rana was a blonde, petite woman. She was Danish and had been sold by a cruel uncle when his ship stopped in Tunis. Rana had not taken to the life of a sailor and Hamilton had applied the whip many times to her round ass. The other slave was the Luloah, abducted from the French coast only a few years earlier. Like Rana and the twins, she was part of the core group of eight English speaking slaves, although while in Tunis and on the Rose, Hamilton had only used her a few times.
"I could not resist bringing along some of these beauties! There are others, Captain, none that you know, I think. I can bring them to you, yes?"
"Not at the moment. I will see them soon enough. Thank you, Mr. Schoonhoven. Almas, Akouta, it is a pleasure to have you as part of this crew. You are all dismissed."
The Dutchman smiled and laughed as he guided the women out of the cabin. "Mr. Schoonhoven."
"Have you... " he hesitated and then shook his head.
"You wish to know of Miss Nasira, yes? I knew you would ask, Captain! And why not? She is a rare beauty! Well, there was great turmoil in Tunis in the days following the death of Massih Bey, you understand of course! All of the Kocek Kapikulu were sent to Istanbul very soon after you and Mr. Wray returned to your English ship."
"Thank you," he said quietly.
Two days later Hamilton stood in the main top, one arm wrapped around a stay, as he held up his telescope. They had just passed through a short twelve hour gale without a single damaged spar, injured crewman or blown sail. It was hardly the worst storm he had seen, but still, he had been impressed with the professionalism of the crew of the Tigress. He sensed that they had a reserved confidence in him.
The brig was now sailing north, with the eastern shore of Sicily to larboard. Every few hours they passed within easy hail of coastal luggers and fishing vessels. Hamilton always identified himself as Captain Lansing of the Cynthia, a brig he knew was somewhere in the Pacific, and those encounters passed quickly and uneventfully. A Neapolitan frigate had been sighted but had not been seen since the gale. Hamilton did not want to be boarded and inspected, even by an erstwhile ally. It was impossible to know which small vessels were working for Mor Cuanaich, but any fisherman would trade information for a few coins.
Now at least the horizons were clear. Hamilton put away the telescope and climbed down the shrouds. Katherine was waiting at the quarter deck, wearing the short silken wrap of a sex slave.
"Edward," she asked. "May I check your bandage. I think you may be bleeding again." Hamilton nodded and led her down to his cabin. He sat down and looked sullenly as she unwrapped the bandaged and touched lightly. He flinched.
"I'm sorry, Edward. The cut is healing well. Does it still hurt?"
"Ow! Yes! Be careful, woman!"
"Sit still then!"
He glared at her. "Replace the bandages, quickly, slave, I must get back on deck."
Katherine frowned at the word 'slave' but said, "Yes, master. I'm sorry, master." She opened a small jar and spread a small amount of the sticky substance along his wound. He flinched again. She brought out a fresh length of white cloth that had been taken from one of her dresses and began to roll it around his head.
He stood up and walked for the door. He stopped and turned. "Thank you, Katherine."
"You're welcome, master." She stepped towards him, her eyes downcast. "I wish.. I wish to thank you master."
"There is no reason to thank me. I have orders to take you to Istanbul and it is my duty and obligation to carry out those orders."
"I mean, thank you for helping me to learn, Edward. I should not have spoken as I did before."
He moved towards her and placed his hand under her chin. "Until we reach Istanbul you are my slave. That means no more 'Edward.' I expect you to address me as master."
"Yes. Yes, master."
"Inside the Harem they will treat you well, very well," he said, quietly. "I am sure there will be jealousy and bickering, but you are strong enough to deal with that."
"Learning how to be submissive all the time, no matter what your master's mood is going to be very important for you. That, at least, seems to be something I can teach well."
"Now, I can deliver you to the Sultan, but once there it is up to you to maintain his interest."
"Yes, master. Thank you for helping me. I still need to hold back my tongue at times."
"I've noticed." He kissed her and then went back on deck.
The sun was sinking a day later when the Tigress, at a modest three knots, passed a small headland on the Calabrian coast, in the area some fisherman had said galleys had been seen. Some French troops had reached the toe of the Italian boot, and through his telescope he had noticed a cavalry patrol, but there was no sign of any dangerous shore batteries. A lookout yelled from the masthead.
The Tigress's bosun, a black man from southern Egypt known only as Zuberi, translated for Hamilton. "He says the harbor is in sight, Captain. He sees one war galley, it if. It is on the beach and careened. He says he sees wood strewn around it. I think he means the galley is under repair. Also, he sees two sail at anchor, both single lateen with low hulls. Those would seem to be galliots."
"Thank you, Mr. Zuberi." Hamilton pulled out a small, sketched map and set it on the binnacle. Local fishermen talked, sometimes too much, when a gold coin was pressed within their grasp.
"This is strange," Ahmar said. "Mor Cuanaich would not place himself so openly."
"You're right, Mr. Ahmar. It is puzzling. This must be the town of Straca Marina." Hamilton pointed at the sketch. "There is a river, and judging by the outflow, I would expect it to be deep enough for his galleys, certainly for the small galliots. Even if he took them a few hundred yards up the river that would place them out of sight."
"Perhaps the storm, left his galleys in too fragile a state, yes?" Van Schoonhoven wondered.
"I think it is more likely they know we are here and want us to see an opportunity." Hamilton put the map away and pulled out his telescope. He scanned slowly over the mountainous coast.
"You mean it is a trap, yes?"
"Directly behind the town in that stand of trees, and over there, on that hill with a stone wall, I can see at least two or three places where a masked battery would be most effective." He slammed the telescope shut. "They want us to come in close and attack. The plunging fire from even a few guns in those hills would be devastating."
"Ah, indeed! It was a noble thought, Captain, to attack the beast in his lair. Alas, it is no shame to see through this danger and to now set course for the safely of the Golden Horn."
"We are not dealing with Mor Cuanaich but one of his captains," Hamilton said. "From what I have heard of this pirate he would not lie in wait so meekly. I believe most of his ships are still to the south." Hamilton then turned to Ahmar. "We heave-to now. A half hour before sunset put us under tops'ls only. We will wear ship and come about west by north. That will bring us a mile closer to shore, exactly what we would need to do in order to launch boats for a night attack. But...we will not do that. Instead, when it is dark we sail west back around the headland. There was a town in the hills there, above a small beach."
"Yes. That is where we attack."
"Might I enquire, Captain Hamilton, as to the reasons for assaulting that town. With the renegade in this town by the river what is the advantage of attacking the town where he is not?"
"We attack and we take slaves, and with luck, the raid is blamed on Mor Cuanaich."
"Then we attack," Ahmar said definitively.
Slaves, Hamilton thought with a smile, beautiful sex slaves, newly taken. There was an appeal to that, a very strong appeal, far more than he knew he should possess. But he did not worry about that, he worried about Mor Cuanaich. If he was wrong about where the Irishman's fleet was then before dawn he would be dead.