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Title: Caribbee
Author: Hoover, Thomas
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Cover art]



CARIBBEE



Barbados, 1648. The lush and deadly Caribbean paradise, domain of
rebels and freeholders, of brigands, bawds and buccaneers.

CARIBBEE is the untold story of the first American revolution, as
English colonists pen a Declaration of _Defiance_ ("liberty" or
"death") against Parliament and fight a full-scale war for freedom
against an English fleet--with cannon, militia, many lives lost--over a
century before 1776.

An assured, literate saga, the novel is brimming with the rough and
tumble characters who populated the early American colonies.

The powerful story line, based on actual events, also puts the reader
in the midst of the first major English slave auction in the Americas,
and the first slave revolt. We see how plantation slavery was
introduced into the English colonies, setting a cruel model for North
America a few decades later, and we experience what it was like to be a
West African ripped from a rich culture and forced to slave in the
fields of the New World. We also see the unleashed greed of the early
Puritans, who burned unruly slaves alive, a far different truth from
that presented in sanitized history books. Finally, we witness how
slavery contributed to the failure of the first American revolution, as
well as to the destruction of England's hope for a vast New World
empire.

We also are present at the birth of the buccaneers, one-time cattle
hunters who banded together to revenge a bloody Spanish attack on their
home, and soon became the most feared marauders in the New World. The
story is mythic in scope, with the main participants being classic
American archetypes--a retelling of the great American quest for
freedom and honor. The major characters are based on real individuals,
men and women who came West to the New World to seek fortune and
personal dignity.

Publisher's Weekly said, "This action-crammed, historically factual
novel . . . is a rousing read about the bad old marauding days, ably
researched by Hoover."



"ACTION-CRAMMED, HISTORICALLY FACTUAL ... A ROUSING READ"



-PUBLISHERS WEEKLY



"METICULOUS . . . COMPELLING"



 --KIRKUS REVIEWS



"IT SHOULD ESTABLISH THOMAS HOOVER IN THE FRONT RANK OF WRITERS OF
HISTORICAL FICTION"



--MALCOLM BOSSE author of THE WARLORD



BOOKS BY THOMAS HOOVER



Nonfiction

Zen Culture

The Zen Experience



Fiction

The Moghul

Caribbee

Wall Street _Samurai_

     (The _Samurai_ Strategy)

Project Daedalus

Project Cyclops

Life Blood

Syndrome



All free as e-books at

www.thomashoover.info



ZEBRA BOOKS are published by

Kensington Publishing Corp. 475 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10016
Copyright © 1985 by Thomas Hoover. Published by arrangement with
Doubleday and Co., Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be reproduced in any form or by any means without the prior written
consent of the Publisher, excepting brief quotes used in reviews. First
Zebra Books Printing: December 1987 Printed in the United States of
America

Key Words:

Author: Thomas Hoover

Title: Caribbee

Slavery, slaves, Caribbean, sugar, buccaneers, pirates, Barbados,
Jamaica, Spanish Gold, Spanish Empire, Port Royal, Barbados


www.thomashoover.info



[Illustration: Map of The West Indies in the Seventeenth Century]



AUTHOR'S NOTE

By the middle of the seventeenth century, almost a hundred thousand
English men and women had settled in the New World. We sometimes forget
that the largest colony across the Atlantic in those early years was
not in Virginia, not in New England, but on the small eastern islands
of the Caribbean, called the Caribbees.

Early existence in the Caribbean was brutal, and at first these
immigrants struggled merely to survive. Then, through an act of
international espionage, they stole a secret industrial process from
the Catholic countries that gave them the key to unimagined wealth. The
scheme these pious Puritans used to realize their earthly fortune
required that they also install a special new attitude: only certain
peoples may claim full humanity. Their profits bequeathed a mortgage to
America of untold future costs.

The Caribbean shown here was a dumping ground for outcasts and
adventurers from many nations, truly a cockpit of violence, greed,
drunkenness, piracy, and voodoo. Even so, its English colonists penned
a declaration of independence and fought a revolutionary war with their
homeland over a hundred years before the North American settlements.
Had they respected the rights of mankind to the same degree they
espoused them, the face of modern America might have been very
different.

The men and women in this story include many actual and composite
individuals, and its scope is faithful to the larger events of that
age, though time has been compressed somewhat to allow a continuous
narrative.

To Liberty and Justice for all.



The Caribbean

1638



The men had six canoes in all, wide tree trunks hollowed out by burning
away the heart, Indian style. They carried axes and long-barreled
muskets, and all save one were bare to the waist, with breeches and
boots patched together from uncured hides. By profession they were
roving hunters, forest incarnations of an older world, and their backs
and bearded faces, earth brown from the sun, were smeared with pig fat
to repel the swarms of tropical insects.

After launching from their settlement at Tortuga, off northern
Hispaniola, they headed toward a chain of tiny islands sprawling across
the approach to the Windward Passage, route of the Spanish _galeones_
inbound for Veracruz. Their destination was the easterly cape of the
Grand Caicos, a known Spanish stopover, where the yearly fleet always
put in to re-provision after its long Atlantic voyage.

Preparations began as soon as they waded ashore. First they beached the
dugouts and camouflaged them with leafy brush. Next they axed down
several trees in a grove back away from the water, chopped them into
short green logs, and dragged these down to the shore to assemble a
pyre. Finally, they patched together banana leaf _ajoupa_ huts in the
cleared area. Experienced woodsmen, they knew well how to live off the
land while waiting.

The first day passed with nothing. Through a cloudless sky the sun
scorched the empty sand for long hours, then dropped into the vacant
sea. That night lightning played across

thunderheads towering above the main island, and around midnight their
_ajoupas_ were soaked by rain. Then, in the first light of the morning,
while dense fog still mantled the shallow banks to the west, they
spotted a ship. It was a single frigate, small enough that there would
be only a handful of cannon on the upper deck.

Jacques le Basque, the dense-bearded bear of a man who was their
leader, declared in his guttural French that this was a historic
moment, one to be savored, and passed a dark onion-flask of brandy
among the men. Now would begin their long-planned campaign of revenge
against the Spaniards, whose infantry from Santo Domingo had once
burned out their settlement, murdered innocents. It was, he said, the
start of a new life for them all.

All that remained was to bait the trap. Two of the hunters retrieved a
bucket of fat from the _ajoupas _and ladled it onto the green firewood.
Another scattered the flask's remaining liquor over the top of the
wood, then dashed it against a heavy log for luck. Finally, while the
men carefully checked the prime on their broad-gauge hunting muskets,
le Basque struck a flint to the pyre.

The green wood sputtered indecisively, then crackled alive, sending a
gray plume skyward through the damp morning air. Jacques circled the
fire triumphantly, his dark eyes reflecting back the blaze, before
ordering the men to ready their dugouts in the brushy camouflage along
the shore. As they moved to comply, he caught the sleeve of a young
Englishman who was with them and beckoned him back.

"Anglais, _attendez ici_. I want you here beside me. The first shot
must count."

The young man had been part of their band for almost five years and was
agreed to be their best marksman, no slight honor among men who lived
by stalking wild cattle in the forest. Unlike the others he carried no
musket this morning, only a long flintlock pistol wedged into his belt.
In the flickering light, he looked scarcely more than twenty, his face
not yet showing the hard desperation of the others. His hair was sandy
rust and neatly trimmed; and he alone among them wore no animal hides--
his doublet was clearly an English cut, though some years out of
fashion, and his sweat-soiled breeches had once been fine canvas. Even
his boots, now weathered and cracked from salt, might years before have
belonged to a young cavalier in Covent Garden.

He moved to help Jacques stoke the fire and pile on more green limbs.
Though the blaze and its plume should have been easily visible to the
passing frigate by now, the sleepy lookout seemed almost to fail to
notice. The ship had all but passed them by before garbled shouts from
its maintop finally sounded over the foggy waters. Next came a jumble
of orders from the quarterdeck, and moments later the vessel veered,
its bow turning into the wind, the mainsail quickly being trimmed.

As it steered into the bay, Jacques slapped at the buzzing gnats around
them and yelled out a Spanish plea that they were marooned seamen, near
death. As he examined the frigate through the morning fog, he grunted
to himself that she was small, barely a hundred tons, scarcely the rich
prize they'd braved the wide Caribbean in dugouts for.

But now a longboat had been launched, and two seamen in white shirts
and loose blue caps were rowing a young mate toward the pair of shadowy
figures huddled against the smoky pyre at the shore. Le Basque laughed
quietly and said something in a growl of French about allowing the
ship's officers to die quickly, to reward their hospitality.

The younger man wasn't listening. Through the half-light he was
carefully studying the longboat. Now he could make out the caps of the
seamen, woolen stockings loosely flopping to the side. Then he looked
back at the ship, seamen perched in its rigging to stare, and thought
he heard fragments of a familiar tongue drifting muffled over the
swells. Next a crowd of passengers appeared at the taffrail, led by a
well-to-do family in ruffs and taffetas.

They weren't Spanish. They couldn't be.

The man wore a plumed hat and long curls that reached almost to his
velvet doublet, London fashions obvious at hundreds of yards. The
woman, a trifle stout, had a tight yellow bodice and long silk cape,
her hair tied back. Between them was a girl, perhaps twelve, with long
chestnut ringlets. He examined the rake of the ship once more, to make
doubly sure, then turned to Jacques.

"That ship's English. Look at her. Boxy waist. Short taffrail.
Doubtless a merchantman out of Virginia, bound for Nevis or Barbados."
He paused when he realized Jacques was not responsive. Finally he
continued, his voice louder. "I tell you there'll be nothing on her
worth having. Wood staves, candle wax, a little salt fish. I know what
they lade."

Jacques looked back at the ship, unconcerned. "_Cela n'a pas
d'importance_. Anglais. There'll be provisions. We have to take her."

"But no silver. There's no English coin out here in the Americas, never
has been. And who knows what could happen? Let some ordnance be set
off, or somebody fire her, and we run the risk of alerting the whole
Spanish fleet."

Now le Basque shrugged, pretending to only half understand the English,
and responded in his hard French. "Taking her's best. If she truly be
Anglaise then we'll keep her and use her ourselves." He grinned,
showing a row of blackened teeth. "And have the women for sport. I'll
even give you the pretty little one there by the rail, Anglais, for
your _petite amie_." He studied the ship again and laughed. "She's not
yet work for a man."

The younger man stared at him blankly for a moment, feeling his face go
chill. Behind him, in the brush, he heard arguments rising up between
the English hunters and the French over what to do. During his years
with them they had killed wild bulls by the score, but never another
Englishman.

"Jacques, we're not Spaniards. This is not going to be our way." He
barely heard his own words. Surely, he told himself, we have to act
honorably. That was the unwritten code in the New World, where men made
their own laws.

"Anglais, I regret to say you sadden me somewhat." Le Basque was
turning, mechanically. "I once thought you had the will to be one of
us. But now . . ." His hand had slipped upward, a slight motion almost
invisible in the flickering shadows. But by the time it reached his
gun, the young man's long flintlock was already drawn and leveled.

"Jacques, I told you no." The dull click of a misfire sounded across
the morning mist.

By now le Basque's own pistol was in his hand, primed and cocked, a
part of him. Its flare opened a path through the dark between them.

But the young Englishman was already moving, driven by purest rage. He
dropped to his side with a twist, an arm stretching for the fire. Then
his fingers touched what he sought, and closed about the glassy neck of
the shattered flask. It seared his hand, but in his fury he paid no
heed. The ragged edges sparkled against the flames as he found his
footing, rising as the wide arc of his swing pulled him forward.

Le Basque stumbled backward to avoid the glass, growling a French oath
as he sprawled across a stack of green brush. An instant later the pile
of burning logs suddenly crackled and sputtered, throwing a shower of
sparks. Then again.

God help them, the young man thought, they're firing from the longboat.
They must assume . . .

He turned to shout a warning seaward, but his voice was drowned in the
eruption of gunfire from the camouflage along the shore. The three
seamen in the boat jerked backward, all still gripping their smoking
muskets, then splashed into the bay. Empty, the craft veered sideways
and in moments was drifting languorously back out to sea.

Many times in later years he tried to recall precisely what had
happened next, but the events always merged, a blur of gunfire. As he
dashed for the surf, trailed by le Basque's curses, the dugouts began
moving out, muskets spitting random flashes. He looked up to see the
stout woman at the rail of the frigate brush at her face, then slump
sideways into her startled husband's arms.

He remembered too that he was already swimming, stroking toward the
empty boat, when the first round of cannon fire from the ship sounded
over the bay, its roar muffled by the water against his face. Then he
saw a second cannon flare . . . and watched the lead canoe dissolve
into spray and splinters.

The others were already turning back, abandoning the attack, when he
grasped the slippery gunwale of the longboat, his only hope to reach
the ship. As he strained against the swell, he became dimly aware the
firing had stopped.

Memories of the last part were the most confused. Still seething with
anger, he had slowly pulled himself over the side, then rolled onto the
bloodstained planking. Beside him lay an English wool cap, its maker's
name still lettered on the side. One oar rattled against its lock. The
other was gone.

He remembered glancing up to see seamen in the ship's rigging begin to
swivel the yards, a sign she was coming about. Then the mainsail
snapped down and bellied against a sudden gust.

Damn them. Wait for me.

Only a hundred yards separated them now, as the longboat continued to
drift seaward. It seemed a hundred yards, though for years afterward he
wondered if perhaps it might have been even less. What he did remember
clearly was wrenching the oar from the lock and turning to begin
paddling toward the ship.

That was when the plume of spray erupted in front of him. As he tumbled
backward he heard the unmistakable report of the ship's sternchaser
cannon.

He could never recollect if he had actually called out to them. He did
remember crouching against the gunwale, listening to the volleys of
musket fire from seamen along the ship's taffrail.

Several rounds of heavy lead shot had torn through the side of the
longboat, sending splinters against his face. When he looked out again,
the frigate was hoisting her lateen sail, ready to run for open sea.

The line of musketmen was still poised along the rail, waiting. Beside
them was the family: the man was hovering above the stout woman, now
laid along the deck, and with him was the girl.

Only then did he notice the heat against his cheek, the warm blood from
the bullet cut. He glanced back at the fire, even more regretful he
hadn't killed Jacques le Basque. Someday, he told himself, he would
settle the score. His anger was matched only by his disgust with the
English.

Only one person on the ship seemed to question what had happened. The
girl looked down at the woman for a long, sad moment, then glanced
back, her tresses splayed in the morning wind. His last memory, before
he lapsed into unconsciousness, was her upraised hand, as though in
farewell.



TEN YEARS LATER . . .



Book One



BARBADOS



Chapter One


No sooner had their carriage creaked to a halt at the edge of the crowd
than a tumult of cheers sounded through the humid morning air. With a
wry glance toward the man seated opposite, Katherine Bedford drew back
the faded curtains at the window and craned to see over the cluster of
planters at the water's edge, garbed in their usual ragged jerkins,
gray cotton breeches, and wide, sweat-stained hats. Across the bay,
edging into view just beyond the rocky cliff of Lookout Point, were the
tattered, patched sails of the _Zeelander_, a Dutch trader well known
to Barbados.

"It's just rounding the Point now." Her voice was hard, with more than
a trace of contempt. "From here you'd scarcely know what their cargo
was. It looks the same as always."

As she squinted into the light, a shaft of Caribbean sun candled her
deep-blue eyes. Her long ringlet curls were drawn back and secured with
a tiara of Spanish pearls, a halfhearted attempt at demureness spoiled
by the nonchalant strands dangling across her forehead. The dark tan on
her face betrayed her devotion to the sea and the sun; although twenty-
three years of life had ripened her body, her high cheeks had none of
the plump, anemic pallor so prized in English women.

"Aye, but this time she's very different, Katy, make no mistake.
Nothing in the Americas will ever be the same again. Not

after today." Governor Dalby Bedford was across from her in the close,
airless carriage, angrily gripping the silver knob of his cane. Finally
he bent forward to look too, and for a moment their faces were framed
side by side. The likeness could scarcely have been greater: not only
did they share the same intense eyes, there was a similar high forehead
and determined chin. "Damned to them. It's a shameful morning for us
all."

"Just the same, you've got to go down and be there." Though she
despised the thought as much as he did, she realized he had no choice.
The planters all knew Dalby Bedford had opposed the plan from the
beginning, had argued with the Council for weeks before arrangements
were finally made with the Dutch shippers. But the vote had gone
against him, and now he had to honor it accordingly.

While he sat watching the Zeelander make a starboard tack, coming about
to enter the bay, Katherine leaned across the seat and pulled aside the
opposite curtain. The hot wind that suddenly stirred past was a sultry
harbinger of the coastal breeze now sweeping up the hillside, where
field after identical field was lined with rows of tall, leafy stalks,
green and iridescent in the sun.

The new Barbados is already here, she thought gloomily. The best thing
now is to face it.

Without a word she straightened her tight, sweaty bodice, gathered her
wrinkled skirt, and opened the carriage door. She waved aside the straw
parasol that James, their Irish servant and footman, tried to urge on
her and stepped into the harsh midday sun. Dalby Bedford nodded at the
crowd, then climbed down after.

He was tall and, unlike his careless daughter, always groomed to
perfection. Today he wore a tan waistcoat trimmed with wide brown lace
and a white cravat that matched the heron-feather plume in his wide-
brimmed hat. Over the years, the name of Dalby Bedford had become a
byword for freedom in the Americas: under his hand Barbados had been
made a democracy, and virtually independent of England. First he had
convinced the king's proprietor to reduce rents on the island, then he
had created an elected Assembly of small freeholders to counter the
high-handed rule of the powerful Council. He had won every battle,
until this one.

Katherine moved through the crowd of black-hatted planters as it parted
before them. Through the shimmering glare of the sand she could just
make out the commanding form of Anthony Walrond farther down by the
shore, together with his younger brother Jeremy. Like hundreds of other
royalists, they had been deported to Barbados in the aftermath of
England's Civil War. Now Anthony spotted their carriage and started up
the incline toward them, and for an instant she found herself wishing
she'd thought to wear a more fashionable bodice.

"Your servant, sir." A gruff greeting, aimed toward Dalby Bedford,
disrupted her thoughts. She looked back to see a heavyset planter
riding his horse directly through the crowd, with the insistent air of
a man who demands deference. Swinging down from his wheezing mount, he
tossed the reins to the servant who had ridden with him and began to
shove his way forward, fanning his open gray doublet against the heat.

Close to fifty and owner of the largest plantation on the island,
Benjamin Briggs was head of the Council, that governing body of
original settlers appointed years before by the island's proprietor in
London. His sagging, leathery face was formidable testimony to twenty
years of hard work and even harder drink. The planters on the Council
had presided over Barbados' transformation from a tropical rain forest
to a patchwork of tobacco and cotton plantations, and now to what they
hoped would soon be a factory producing white gold.

Briggs pushed back his dusty hat and turned to squint approvingly as
the frigate began furling its mainsail in preparation to drop anchor.
"God be praised, we're almost there. The years of starvation are soon
to be over."

Katherine noted that she had not been included in his     greeting. She
had once spoken her mind to Benjamin Briggs   concerning his treatment
of his indentures more frankly than he

cared to hear. Even now, looking at him, she was still amazed that a
man once a small Bristol importer had risen to so much power in the
Americas. Part of that success, she knew, derived from his practice of
lending money to hard-pressed freeholders at generous rates but short
terms, then foreclosing on their lands the moment the sight bills came
due.

"It's an evil precedent for the English settlements, mark my word."
Bedford gazed back toward the ship. He and Benjamin Briggs had been
sworn enemies from the day he first proposed establishing the Assembly.
"I tell you again it'll open the way for fear and divisiveness
throughout the Americas."

"It's our last chance for prosperity, sir. All else has failed," Briggs
responded testily. "I know it and so do you."

Before the governor could reply, Anthony Walrond was joining them.

"Your servant, sir." He touched his plumed hat toward Dalby Bedford,
conspicuously ignoring Briggs as he merged into their circle, Jeremy at
his heel.

Anthony Walrond was thirty-five and the most accomplished, aristocratic
man Katherine had ever met, besides her father. His lean, elegant face
was punctuated by an eye-patch, worn with the pride of an epaulette,
that came from a sword wound in the bloody royalist defeat at Marston
Moor. After he had invested and lost a small fortune in support of the
king's failed cause, he had been exiled to Barbados, his ancestral
estate sequestrated by Parliament.

She still found herself incredulous that he had, only four weeks
earlier, offered marriage. Why, she puzzled, had he proposed the match?
He was landed, worldly, and had distinguished himself during the war.
She had none of his style and polish. . . .

"Katherine, your most obedient." He bowed lightly, then stood back to
examine her affectionately. She was a bit brash, it was true, and a
trifle--well, more than a trifle--forward for her sex. But underneath
her blunt, seemingly impulsive way he sensed a powerful will. She
wasn't afraid to act on her convictions, and the world be damned. So
let her ride her mare about the island daylong now if she chose; there
was breeding about her that merely wanted some refinement.

"Sir, your servant." Katherine curtsied lightly and repressed a smile.
No one knew she had quietly invited Anthony Walrond riding just two
weeks earlier. The destination she had picked was a deserted little
islet just off the windward coast, where they could be alone.
Propriety, she told herself, was all very well, but marrying a man for
life was no slight matter. Anthony Walrond, it turned out, had promise
of being all she could want.

He reflected on the memory of that afternoon for a moment himself,
delighted, then turned back to the governor with as solemn an air as he
could manage. "I suppose this island'll soon be more in debt than ever
to the Hollanders. I think it's time we started giving English shippers
a chance, now that it's likely to be worth their bother."

"Aye, doubtless you'd like that." Briggs flared. "I know you still own
a piece of a London trading company. You and that pack of English
merchants would be pleased to charge us double the shipping rates the
Hollanders do. Damn the lot of you. Those of us who've been here from
the start know we should all be on our knees, thankin' heaven for the
Dutchmen. The English settlements in the Americas would've starved
years ago if it hadn't been for them." He paused to spit onto the sand,
just beside Anthony's gleaming boots. "Let English bottoms compete with
the Dutchmen, not wave the flag."

"Your servant, Katherine." Jeremy Walrond had moved beside her,
touching his plumed hat as he nodded. A cloud of perfume hovered about
him, and his dark moustache was waxed to perfection. Though he had just
turned twenty, his handsome face was still boyish, with scarcely a hint
of sun.

"Your most obedient." She nodded lightly in return, trying to appear
formal. Over the past year she had come to adore Jeremy as though he
were a younger brother, even though she knew he despised the wildness
of Barbados as much as she gloried in it. He was used to pampering and
yearned to be back in England. He also longed to be thought a man;
longed, in truth, to be just like Anthony, save he didn't know quite
how.

They all stood awkwardly for a moment, each wondering what the ship
would signify for their own future and that of the island. Katherine
feared that for her it would mean the end of Barbados' few remaining
forests, hidden groves upland where she could ride alone and think.
Cultivated land was suddenly so valuable that all trees would soon
vanish. It was the last anyone would see of an island part untamed and
free.

Depressed once more by the prospect, she turned and stared down the
shore, toward the collection of clapboard taverns clustered around the
narrow bridge at the river mouth. Adjacent to the taverns was a
makeshift assemblage of tobacco sheds, open shops, and bawdy houses,
which taken together had become known as Bridgetown. The largest "town"
on Barbados, it was now all but empty. Everyone, even the tavern
keepers and Irish whores, had come out to watch.

Then, through the brilliant sunshine she spotted an unexpected pair,
ambling slowly along the water's edge. The woman was well known to the
island--Joan Fuller, the yellow-haired proprietor of its most
successful brothel. But the man? Whatever else, he was certainly no
freeholder. For one thing, no Puritan planter would be seen in public
with Mistress Fuller.

The stranger was gesturing at the ship and mumbling unhappily to her as
they walked. Abruptly she reached up to pinch his cheek, as though to
dispel his mood. He glanced down and fondly swiped at her tangled
yellow hair, then bade her farewell, turned, and began moving toward
them.

"God's life, don't tell me he's come back." Briggs first noticed the
stranger when he was already halfway through the crowd. He sucked in
his breath and whirled to survey the line of Dutch merchantmen anchored
in the shallows along the shore. Nothing. But farther down, near the
careenage at the river mouth, a battered frigate rode at anchor. The
ship bore no flag, but the word _Defiance _was crudely lettered across
the stern.

"Aye, word has it he put in this morning at first light."

Edward Bayes, a black-hatted Council member with ruddy jowls, was
squinting against the sun. "What're you thinking we'd best do?"

Briggs seemed to ignore the question as he began pushing his way
through the crowd. The newcomer was fully half a head taller than most
of the planters, and unlike everyone else he wore no hat, leaving his
rust-colored hair to blow in the wind. He was dressed in a worn leather
jerkin, dark canvas breeches, and sea boots weathered from long use. He
might have passed for an ordinary seaman had it not been for the two
Spanish flintlock pistols, freshly polished and gleaming, that
protruded from his wide belt.

"Your servant, Captain." Briggs' greeting was correct and formal, but
the man returned it with only a slight, distracted nod. "Back to see
what the Hollanders've brought?"

"I'm afraid I already know what they're shipping. I picked a hell of a
day to come back." The stranger rubbed absently at a long scar across
one cheek, then continued, as though to himself, "Damn me, I should
have guessed all along this would be the way."

The crowd had fallen silent to listen, and Katherine could make out
that his accent was that of a gentleman, even if his dress clearly was
not. His easy stride suggested he was little more than thirty, but the
squint that framed his brown eyes made his face years older. By his
looks and the uneasy shuffle of the Council members gathered around
them, she suddenly began to suspect who he might be.

"Katy, who the devil?" Jeremy had lowered his voice to a whisper.

"I'm not sure, but if I had to guess, I'd say that's probably the
smuggler you claim robbed you once." Scarce wonder Briggs is nervous,
she thought. Every planter on the shore knows exactly why he's come
back.

"Hugh Winston? Is that him?" Jeremy glared at the newcomer, his eyes
hardening. "You can't mean it. He'd not have the brass to show his face
on English soil."

"He's been here before. I've just never actually seen him. You always
seem to keep forgetting, Jeremy, Barbados isn't part of England." She
glanced back. "Surely you heard what he did. It happened just before
you came out." She gestured toward the green hillsides. "He's the one
we have to thank for all this. I fancy he's made Briggs and the rest of
them rich, for all the good it'll ever do him."

"What he's done, if you must know, is make a profession of stealing
from honest men. Damned to their cane. He's scarcely better than a
thief. Do you know exactly what he did?"

"You mean that business about your frigate?"

"The eighty-tonner of ours that grounded on the reefs up by Nevis
Island. He's the one who set our men ashore--then announced he was
taking the cargo in payment. Rolls of wool broadcloth worth almost
three thousand pounds sterling. And several crates of new flintlock
muskets. He smuggled the cloth into Virginia, sold it for nothing, and
ruined the market for months. He'd be hanged if he tried walking the
streets of London, I swear it. Doesn't anybody here know that?"

She tried to recall what she did know. The story heard most often was
that he'd begun his career at sea on a Dutch merchantman. Then, so word
had it, he'd gone out on his own. According to tales that went around
the Caribbees, he'd pulled together a band of some dozen runaway
indentures and one night somehow managed to sail a small shallop into
the harbor at Santo Domingo. He sailed out before dawn at the helm of a
two-hundred-ton Spanish square-rigger. After some heavy refitting, it
became the _Defiance_.

"They probably know he robbed you, Jeremy, but I truly doubt whether
they care all that much."

"What do you mean?"

"He's the one Benjamin Briggs and the others hired to take them down to
Brazil and back."

That voyage had later become a legend in the English Caribbees. Its
objective was a plantation just outside the city of Pemambuco--capital
of the new territory in Brazil the Dutch had just seized from the
Portuguese. There the Barbados' Council had deciphered the closely
guarded process Brazilian plantations used to refine sugar from cane
sap. Thanks to the friendly Dutch, and Hugh Winston, Englishmen had
finally cracked the centuries-old sugar monopoly of Portugal and Spain.

"You mean he's the same one who helped them get that load of cane for
planting, and the plans for Briggs' sugar mill?" Jeremy examined the
stranger again.

"Exactly. He also brought back something else for Briggs." She smiled.
"Can you guess?"

Jeremy flushed and carefully smoothed his new moustache. "I suppose
you're referring to that Portuguese mulatto wench he bought to be his
bed warmer."

Yes, she thought, Hugh Winston's dangerous voyage, outsailing several
Spanish patrols, had been an all-round success. And everybody on the
island knew the terms he had demanded. Sight bills from the Council,
all co-signed at his insistence by Benjamin Briggs, in the sum of two
thousand pounds sterling, payable in twenty-four months.

"Well, sir"--Briggs smiled at Winston as he thumbed toward the
approaching ship--"this is the cargo we'll be wanting now, if we're to
finish converting this place to sugar. You could be of help to us again
if you'd choose. This is where the future'll be, depend on it."

"I made one mistake, helping this island." Winston glanced at the ship
and his eyes were momentarily pained. "I don't plan to make another."
Then he turned and stared past the crowd, toward the green fields
patch-worked against the hillsides inland. "But I see your cane
prospered well enough. When do we talk?"

"Why any time you will, sir. We've not forgotten our debts." Briggs
forced another smile. "We'll have a tankard on it, right after the
auction." He turned and motioned toward a red-faced Irishman standing
behind him, wearing straw shoes and a long gray shirt. "Farrell, a
moment of your valuable time."

"Yor Worship." Timothy Farrell, one of Briggs' many indentured
servants, bowed sullenly as he came forward, then

doffed his straw hat, squinting against the sun. His voice still
carried the musical lilt of his native Kinsale, where he had been
offered the choice, not necessarily easy, between prison for debt and
indentured labor in sweltering Barbados. He had finally elected
Barbados when informed, falsely, that he would receive a grant of five
acres of land after his term of servitude expired--a practice long
since abandoned.

Katherine watched as Briggs flipped him a small brass coin. "Fetch a
flask of kill-devil from the tavern up by the bridge. And have it here
when I get back."

Kill-devil was bought from Dutch shippers, who procured it from
Brazilian plantations, where it was brewed using wastes from their
sugar-works. The Portuguese there employed it as a cheap tonic to rout
the "devil" thought to possess African slaves at the end of a long day
and render them sluggish. It retailed handily as a beverage in the
English settlements of the Americas, however, sometimes being marketed
under the more dignified name of "rumbullion," or "rum."

Briggs watched as Farrell sauntered off down the shore.  "That's what
we'll soon hear the last of. A lazy Papist, like half the lot that's
being sent out nowadays." He turned to study the weathered Dutch
frigate as it eased into the sandy shallows and the anchor chain began
to rattle down the side. "But we've got good workers at last. By Jesus,
we've found the answer."

Katherine watched the planters secure their hats against a sudden
breeze and begin pushing toward the shore. Even Anthony and Jeremy went
with them. The only man who held back was Hugh Winston, still standing
there in his worn-out leather jerkin. He seemed reluctant to budge.

Maybe, she thought, he doesn't want to confront it.

As well he shouldn't. We've got him to thank for this.

After a moment he glanced back and began to examine her with open
curiosity, his eyes playing over her face, then her tight bodice.
Finally he shifted one of the pistols in his belt, turned, and began
strolling down the sloping sand toward the bay.

Well, damn his cheek.

All along she had planned to go down herself, to see firsthand what an
auction would be like, but at that instant the shifting breeze brought
a sudden stench from the direction of the ship. She hesitated, a rare
moment of indecision, before turning back toward the carriage. This,
she now realized, marked the start of something she wanted no part of.

Moving slowly toward the shore, Winston found himself puzzling over the
arch young woman who had been with Governor Bedford. Doubtless she was
the daughter you heard so much about, though from her dress you'd
scarcely guess it. But she had an open way about her you didn't see
much in a woman. Plenty of spirit there . . . and doubtless a handful
for the man who ever got her onto a mattress.

Forget it, he told himself, you've enough to think about today.
Starting with the _Zeelander_. And her cargo.

The sight of that three-masted fluyt brought back so many places and
times. Brazil, Rotterdam, Virginia, even Barbados. Her captain Johan
Ruyters had changed his life, that day the _Zeelander_ hailed his
bullet-riddled longboat adrift in the Windward Passage. Winston had
lost track of the time a bit now, but not of the term Ruyters had made
him serve in return for the rescue. Three years, three miserable years
of short rations, doubled watches, and no pay.

Back when he served on the _Zeelander_ her cargo had been mostly brown
muscavado sugar, ferried home to Rotterdam from Holland's newly captive
plantations in Brazil. But there had been a change in the world since
then. The Dutch had seized a string of Portuguese trading fortresses
along the coast of West Africa. Now, at last, they had access to a
commodity far more profitable than sugar.

He reflected on Ruyters' first axiom of successful trade: sell what's
in demand. And if there's no demand for what you've got, make it.

New sugar plantations would provide the surest market of all

for what the Dutch now had to sell. So in the spring of 1642 Ruyters
had left a few bales of Brazilian sugarcane with Benjamin Briggs, then
a struggling tobacco planter on Barbados, suggesting that he try
growing it and refining sugar from the sap, explaining the Portuguese
process as best he could.

It had been a night over two years past, at Joan's place, when Briggs
described what had happened after that.

"The cane grew well enough, aye, and I managed to press out enough of
the sap to try rendering it to sugar. But nothing else worked. I tried
boiling it in pots and then letting it sit, but what I got was scarcely
more than molasses and mud. It's not as simple as I thought." Then he
had unfolded his new scheme. "But if you'll take some of us on the
Council down to Brazil, sir, the Dutchmen claim they'll let us see how
the Portugals do it. We'll soon know as much about sugar-making as any
Papist. There'll be a fine fortune in it, I promise you, for all of
us."

But how, he'd asked Briggs, did they expect to manage all the work of
cutting the cane?

"These indentures, sir. We've got thousands of them."

He'd finally agreed to accept the Council's proposition. And the
_Defiance _was ideal for the run. Once an old Spanish cargo vessel,
he'd disguised her by chopping away the high fo'c'sle, removing the
pilot's cabin, and lowering the quarterdeck. Next he'd re-rigged her,
opened more gunports in the hull, and installed new cannon. Now she was
a heavily armed fighting brig and swift.

Good God, he thought, how could I have failed to see? It had to come to
this; there was no other way.

So maybe it's time I did something my own way for a change. Yes, by
God, maybe there's an answer to all this.

He thought again of the sight bills, now locked in the Great Cabin of
the _Defiance_ and payable in one week. Two thousand pounds. It would
be a miracle if the Council could find the coin to settle the debt, but
they did have something he needed.

And either way, Master Briggs, I intend to have satisfaction, or I may
just take your balls for a bell buoy.

Now a white shallop was being lowered over the gunwales of the
_Zeelander_, followed by oarsmen. Then after a measured pause a new
figure, wearing the high collar and wide-brimmed hat of Holland's
merchant class, appeared at the railing. His plump face was punctuated
with a goatee, and his smile was visible all the way to the shore. He
stood a long moment, dramatically surveying the low-lying hills of
Barbados, and then Captain Johan Ruyters began lowering himself down
the swaying rope ladder.

As the shallop nosed through the surf and eased into the sandy
shallows, Dalby Bedford moved to the front of the receiving delegation,
giving no hint how bitterly he had opposed the arrangement Briggs and
the Council had made with the Dutch shippers.

"Your servant, Captain."

"Your most obedient servant, sir." Ruyters' English was heavily
accented but otherwise flawless. Winston recalled he could speak five
languages as smoothly as oil, and shortchange the fastest broker in
twice that many currencies. "It is a fine day for Barbados."

"How went the voyage?" Briggs asked, stepping forward and thrusting out
his hand, which Ruyters took readily, though with a wary gathering of
his eyebrows.

"A fair wind, taken for all. Seventy-four days and only some fifteen
percent wastage of the cargo. Not a bad figure for the passage, though
still enough to make us friends of the sharks. But I've nearly three
hundred left, all prime."

"Are they strapping?" Briggs peered toward the ship, and his tone
sharpened slighdy, signaling that social pleasantries were not to be
confused with commerce. "Remember we'll be wantin' them for the fields,
not for the kitchen."

"None stronger in the whole west of Africa. These are not from the
Windward Coast, mark you, where I grant what you get is fit mostly for
house duty. I took half this load from Cape Verde, on the Guinea coast,
and then sailed on down to Benin, by the Niger River delta, for the
rest. These Nigers make the strongest field workers. There is even a
chief amongst them, a Yoruba warrior. I've seen a few of these Yoruba
Nigers in Brazil, and I can tell you this one could have the wits to
make you a first-class gang driver." Ruyters shaded his eyes against
the sun and lowered his voice. "In truth, I made a special
accommodation with the agent selling him, which is how I got so many
hardy ones. Usually I have to take a string of mixed quality, which I
get with a few kegs of gunpowder for the chiefs and maybe some iron,
together with a few beads and such for their wives. But I had to barter
five chests of muskets and a hundred strings of their cowrie-shell
money for this Yoruba. After that, though, I got the pick of his boys."

Ruyters stopped and peered past the planters for a second, his face
mirroring disbelief. Then he grinned broadly and shoved through the
crowd, extending his hand toward Winston. "By the blood of Christ. I
thought sure you'd be hanged by now. How long has it been? Six years?
Seven?" He laughed and pumped Winston's hand vigorously, then his voice
sobered. "Not here to spy on the trade I hope? I'd best beware or
you're like to be eyeing my cargo next."

"You can have it." Winston extracted his hand, reflecting with chagrin
that he himself had been the instrument of what was about to occur.

"What say, now?" Ruyters smiled to mask his relief. "Aye, but to be
sure this is an easy business." He turned back to the planters as he
continued. "It never fails to amaze me how ready their own people are
to sell them. They spy your sail when you're several leagues at sea and
build a smoke fire on the coast to let you know they've got cargo."

He reached for Dalby Bedford's arm, to usher him toward the waiting
boat. Anthony Walrond said something quietly to Jeremy, then followed
after the governor. Following on their heels was Benjamin Briggs, who
tightened his belt as he waded through the shallows.

Ruyters did not fail to notice when several of the oarsmen smiled and
nodded toward Winston. He was still remembered

as the best first mate the _Zeelander_ had ever had--and the only
seaman anyone had ever seen who could toss a florin into the air and
drill it with a pistol ball better than half the time. Finally the
Dutch captain turned back, beckoning.

"It'd be an honor if you would join us, sir. As long as you don't try
taking any of my lads with you."

Winston hesitated a moment, then stepped into the boat as it began to
draw away from the shore. Around them other small craft were being
untied, and the planters jostled together as they waded through the
light surf and began to climb over the gunwales. Soon a small, motley
flotilla was making its way toward the ship.

As Winston studied the _Zeelander_, he couldn't help recalling how
welcome she had looked that sun-baked afternoon ten years past. In his
thirsty delirium her billowing sails had seemed the wings of an angel
of mercy. But she was not angelic today. She was dilapidated now, with
runny patches of tar and oakum dotting her from bow to stern. By
converting her into a slaver, he knew, Ruyters had discovered a prudent
way to make the most of her last years.

As they eased into the shadow of her leeward side, Winston realized
something else had changed. The entire ship now smelled of human
excrement. He waited till Ruyters led the planters, headed by Dalby
Bedford and Benjamin Briggs, up the salt-stiff rope ladder, then
followed after.

The decks were dingy and warped, and there was a haggard look in the
men's eyes he didn't recall from before. Profit comes at a price, he
thought, even for quick Dutch traders.

Ruyters barked an order to his quartermaster, and moments later the
main hatch was opened. Immediately the stifling air around the frigate
was filled with a chorus of low moans from the decks below.

Winston felt Briggs seize his arm and heard a hoarse whisper. "Take a
look and see how it's done. It's said the Dutchmen have learned the
secret of how best to pack them."

"I already know how a slaver's cargoed." He pulled back his

arm and thought again of the Dutch slave ships that had been anchored
in the harbor at Pernambuco. "A slave's chained on his back, on a
shelf, for the whole of the voyage, if he lives that long." He pointed
toward the hold. "Why not go on down and have a look for yourself?"

Briggs frowned and turned to watch as the quartermaster yelled orders
to several seamen, all shirtless and squinting in the sun, who cursed
under their breath as they began reluctantly to make their way down the
companionway to the lower deck. The air in the darkened hold was almost
unbreathable.

The clank of chains began, and Winston found himself drawn against his
will to the open hatchway to watch. As the cargo was unchained from
iron loops fastened to the side of the ship, their manacled hands were
looped through a heavy line the seamen passed along the length of the
lower deck.

Slowly, shakily, the first string of men began to emerge from the hold.
Their feet and hands were still secured with individual chains, and all
were naked. As each struggled up from the hold, he would stare into the
blinding sun for a confused moment, as though to gain bearings, then
turn in bewilderment to gaze at the green beyond, so like and yet so
alien from the African coast. Finally, seeing the planters, he would
stretch to cover his groin with manacled hands, the hesitation
prompting a Dutch seaman to lash him forward.

The Africans' black skin shone in the sun, the result of a forced diet
of cod liver oil the last week of the voyage. Then too, there had been
a quick splash with seawater on the decks below, followed by swabbing
with palm oil, when the _Zeelander's _maintopman had sighted the low
green peaks of Barbados rising out of the sea. They seemed stronger
than might have been expected, the effect of a remedial diet of salt
fish the last three days of the voyage.

"Well, sir, what think you of the cargo?" Ruyters' face was aglow.

Winston winced. "Better your vessel than mine."

"But it's no great matter to ship these Africans. The truth is we don't
really even have to keep them fettered once we pass sight of land,
since they're too terrified to revolt. We feed them twice a day with
meal boiled up into a mush, and every other day or so we give them some
English horsebeans, which they seem to favor. Sometimes we even bring
them up topside to feed, whilst we splash down the decks below." He
smiled and swept the assembled bodies with his eyes. "That's why we
have so little wastage. Not like the Spaniards or Portugals, who can
easily lose a quarter or more to shark feed through overpacking and
giving them seawater to drink. But I'll warrant the English'll try to
squeeze all the profit they can one day, when your ships take up the
trade, and then you'll doubtless see wastage high as the Papists have."

"English merchants'll never take up the slave trade."

Ruyters gave a chuckle. "Aye but that they will, as I'm a Christian,
and soon enough too." He glanced in the direction of Anthony Walrond.
"Your London shippers'll take up anything we do that shows a florin's
profit. But we'll give you a run for it." He turned back to Briggs.
"What say you, sir? Are they to your liking?"

"I take it they're a mix? Like we ordered?"

"Wouldn't load them any other way. There's a goodly batch of Yoruba,
granted, but the rest are everything from Ibo and Ashanti to Mandingo.
There's little chance they'll be plotting any revolts. Half of them are
likely blood enemies of the other half."

The first mate lashed the line forward with a cat-o'-nine-tails,
positioning them along the scuppers. At the head was a tall man whose
alert eyes were already studying the forested center of the island.
Winston examined him for a moment, recalling the haughty Yoruba slaves
he had seen in Brazil.

"Is that the chief you spoke of?"

Ruyters glanced at the man a moment. "They mostly look the same to me,
but aye, I think that's the one. Prince Atiba, I believe they called
him. A Niger and pure Yoruba."

"He'll never be made a slave."

"Won't he now? You'll find the cat can work wonders." Ruyters turned
and took the cat-o'-nine-tails from the mate. "He'll jump just like the
rest." With a quick flick he lashed it against the African's back. The
man stood unmoving, without even a blink. He drew back and struck him a
second time, now harder. The Yoruba's jaw tightened visibly but he
still did not flinch. As Ruyters drew back for a third blow, Winston
reached to stay his arm.

"Enough. Take care or he may prove a better man than you'd wish to
show."

Before Ruyters could respond, Briggs moved to begin the negotiations.

"What terms are you offering, sir?"

"Like we agreed." Ruyters turned back. "A quarter now, with sight bills
for another quarter in six months and the balance on terms in a year."

"Paid in bales of tobacco at standing rates? Or sugar, assuming we've
got it then?"

"I've yet to see two gold pieces keeping company together on the whole
of the island." He snorted. "I suppose it'll have to be. What do you
say to the usual exchange rate?"

"I say we can begin. Let's start with the best, and not trouble with
the bidding candle yet. I'll offer you a full twenty pounds for the
first one there." Briggs pointed at the Yoruba.

The Dutch captain examined him in disbelief. "This is not some
indentured Irishman, sir. This is a robust field hand you'll own for
life. And he has all the looks of a good breeder. My conscience
wouldn't let me entertain a farthing under forty."

"Would you take some of my acres too? Is there no profit to be had in
him?"

"These Africans'll pay themselves out for you in one good year, two at
the most. Just like they do in Brazil." Ruyters smiled. "And this is
the very one that cost me a fortune in muskets. It's only because I
know you for a gentleman that I'd even think of offering him on such
easy terms. He's plainly the pick of the string."

Winston turned away and gazed toward the shore. The price

would be thirty pounds. He knew Ruyters' bargaining practices all too
well. The sight of the Zeelander's decks sickened him almost as much as
the slaves. He wanted to get to sea again, to leave Barbados and its
greedy Puritans far behind.

But this time, he told himself, you're the one who needs them. Just a
little longer and there'll be a reckoning.

And after that, Barbados can be damned.

"Thirty pounds then, and may God forgive me." Ruyters was slapping
Briggs genially on the shoulder. "But you'll be needing a lot more for
the acres you want to cut. Why not take the rest of this string at a
flat twenty-five pounds the head, and make an end on it? It'll spare
both of us time."

"Twenty-five!"

"Make it twenty then." Ruyters lowered his voice. "But not a shilling
under, God is my witness."

"By my life, you're a conniving Moor, passing himself as a Dutchman."
Briggs mopped his brow. "It's time for the candle, sir. They're
scarcely all of the same quality."

"I'll grant you. Some should fetch well above twenty. I ventured the
offer thinking a gentleman of your discernment might grasp a bargain
when he saw it. But as you will." He turned and spoke quickly to his
quartermaster, a short, surly seaman who had been with the Zeelander
almost as long as Ruyters. The officer disappeared toward the Great
Cabin and returned moments later with several long white candles,
marked with rings at one-inch intervals. He fitted one into a holder
and lit the wick.

"We'll begin with the next one in the string." Ruyters pointed to a
stout, gray-bearded man. "Gentlemen, what am I bid?"

"Twelve pounds."

"Fifteen."

"Fifteen pounds ten."

"Sixteen."

As Winston watched the bidding, he found his gaze drifting more and
more to the Yoruba Briggs had just purchased. The man was meeting his
stare now, eye to eye, almost a challenge.

There were three small scars lined down one cheek--the clan marks
Yoruba warriors were said to wear to prevent inadvertently killing
another clan member in battle. He was naked and in chains, but he held
himself like a born aristocrat.

"Eighteen and ten." Briggs was eyeing the flickering candle as he
yelled the bid. At that moment the first dark ring disappeared.

"The last bid on the candle was Mr. Benjamin Briggs." Ruyters turned to
his quartermaster, who was holding an open account book, quill pen in
hand. "At eighteen pounds ten shillings. Mark it and let's get on with
the next one."

Winston moved slowly back toward the main deck, studying the first
Yoruba more carefully now--the glistening skin that seemed to stretch
over ripples of muscle. And the quick eyes, seeing everything.

What a fighting man he'd make. He'd snap your neck while you were still
reaching for your pistol. It could've been a big mistake not to try and
get him. But then what? How'd you make him understand anything? Unless
. . .

He remembered that some of the Yoruba in Brazil, still fresh off the
slave ships, already spoke Portuguese. Learned from the traders who'd
worked the African coast for . . . God only knows how long. The
Portugals in Brazil always claimed you could never tell about a Yoruba.
They were like Moors, sharp as tacks.

His curiosity growing, he edged next to the man, still attempting to
hold his eyes, then decided to try him.

"_Fala portugues_?"

Atiba started in surprise, shot a quick glance toward the crowd of
whites, then turned away, as though he hadn't heard. Winston moved
closer and lowered his voice.

"_Fala portugues, senhor_?"

After a long moment he turned back and examined Winston.

"_Sim. Suficiente_." His whisper was almost buried in the din of
bidding. He paused a moment, then continued, in barely audible
Portuguese. "How many of my people will you try to buy, _senhor_?"

"Only free men serve under my command.'

"Then you have saved yourself the loss of many strings of money
shells,_ senhor_. The _branco _here may have escaped our sword for now.
But they have placed themselves in our scabbard." He looked back toward
the shore. "Before the next rainy season comes, you will see us put on
the skin of the leopard. I swear to you in the name of Ogun, god of
war."



Chapter Two


Joan Fuller sighed and gently eased herself out of the clammy feather
bed, unsure why she felt so oddly listless. Like as not it was the
patter of the noonday shower, now in full force, gusting through the
open jalousies in its daily drenching of the tavern's rear quarters. A
shower was supposed to be cooling, so why did she always feel hotter
and more miserable afterwards? Even now, threads of sweat lined down
between her full breasts, inside the curve of each long leg. She moved
quietly to the window and one by one began tilting the louvres upward,
hoping to shut out some of the salty mist.

Day in and day out, the same pattern. First the harsh sun, then the
rain, then the sun again. Mind you, it had brought to life all those
new rows of sugar cane marshalled down the hillsides, raising hope the
planters might eventually settle their accounts in something besides
weedy tobacco. But money mattered so little anymore. Time, that's the
commodity no purse on earth could buy. And the Barbados sun and rain,
day after day, were like a heartless cadence marking time's theft of
the only thing a woman had truly worth holding on to.

The tropical sun and salt air would be telling enough on the face of
some girl of twenty, but for a woman all but thirty--well, in God's own
truth some nine years past--it was ruination. Still, there it was,
every morning, like a knife come to etch deeper those telltale lines at
the corners of her eyes. And after she'd frayed her plain brown hair
coloring it with yellow dye, hoping to bring out a bit of the sparkle
in her hazel eyes, she could count on the harsh salt wind to finish
turning it to straw. God damn miserable Barbados.

As if there weren't bother enough, now Hugh was back, the whoremaster,
half ready to carry on as though he'd never been gone. When you both
knew the past was past.

But why not just make the most of whatever happens . . . and time be
damned.

She turned and glanced back toward the bed. He was awake now too,
propped up on one elbow, groggily watching. For a moment she thought
she might have disturbed him getting up--in years past he used to
grumble about that--but then she caught the look in his eyes.

What the pox. In truth it wasn't always so bad, having him back now and
again. . . .

Slowly her focus strayed to the dark hair on his chest, the part not
lightened to rust by the sun, and she realized she was the one who
wanted him. This minute.

But she never hinted that to Hugh Winston. She never gave him the least
encouragement. She kept the whoreson off balance, else he'd lose
interest. After you got to know him the way she did, you realized Hugh
fancied the chase. As she started to look away, he smiled and beckoned
her over. Just like she'd figured . . .

She adjusted the other shutters, then took her own sweet time strolling
back. Almost as though he weren't even there. Then she casually settled
onto the bed, letting him see the fine profile of her breasts, and just
happening to drape one long leg where he could manage to touch it.

But now she was beginning to be of two minds. God's life, it was too
damned hot, Hugh or no.

He ignored her ankle and, for some reason, reached out

and silently drew one of his long brown fingers down her cheek. Very
slowly. She stifled a shiver, reminding herself she'd had quite enough
of men in general, and Hugh Winston in particular, to do a lifetime.

But, still . . .

Before she realized it, he'd lifted back her yellow hair and kissed her
deeply on the mouth. Suddenly it was all she could manage, keeping her
hands on the mattress.

Then he faltered, mumbled something about the heat, and plopped back
onto the sweat-soaked sheet.

Well, God damn him too.

She studied his face again, wondering why he seemed so distracted this
trip. It wasn't like Hugh to let things get under his skin. Though
admittedly affairs were going poorly for him now, mainly because of the
damned Civil War in England. Since he didn't trouble about taxes, he'd
always undersold English shippers. But after the war had disrupted
things so much, the American settlements were wide open to the cut-rate
Hollanders, who could sell and ship cheaper than anybody alive. These
days the Butterboxes were everywhere; you could look out the window and
see a dozen Dutch merchantmen anchored right in Carlisle Bay. Ever
since that trip for the Council he'd been busy running whatever he
could get between Virginia and some other place he hadn't said--yet he
had scarcely a shilling to show for his time. Why else would he have
paid that flock of shiftless runaways he called a crew with the last of
his savings? She knew it was all he had, and he'd just handed it over
for them to drink and whore away. When would he learn?

And if you're thinking you'll collect on the Council's sight bills,
dear heart, you'd best think again. Master Benjamin Briggs and the rest
of that shifty lot could hold school for learned scholars on the topic
of stalling obligations.

He was doubtless too proud to own it straight out, but he needn't
trouble. She already knew. Hugh Winston, her lover in times past and
still the only friend she had worth the bother, was down to his last
farthing.

She sighed, telling herself she knew full well what it was like. God's
wounds, did she know what it was like. Back when Hugh Winston was still
in his first and only term at Oxford, the son of one Lord Harold
Winston, before he'd been apprenticed and then sent packing out to the
Caribbees, Joan Fuller was already an orphan. The hardest place you
could be one. On the cobblestone streets of Billingsgate, City of
London.

That's where you think you're in luck to hire out in some household for
a few pennies a week, with a hag of a mistress who despises you for no
more cause than you're young and pretty. Of course you steal a little
at first, not too much or she'd see, but then you remember the master,
who idles about the place in his greasy nightshirt half the day, and
who starts taking notice after you let the gouty old whoremaster know
you'd be willing to earn something extra. Finally the mistress starts
to suspect--the bloodhounds always do after a while--and soon enough
you're back on the cobblestones.

But you know a lot more now. So if you're half clever you'll take what
you've put by and have some proper dresses made up, bright colored with
ruffled petticoats, and a few hats with silk ribands. Then you pay down
on a furnished lodging in Covent Garden, the first floor even though
it's more than all the rest of the house. Soon you've got lots of
regulars, and then eventually you make acquaintance of a certain
gentleman of means who wants a pert young thing all to himself, on
alternate afternoons. It lasts for going on two years, till you decide
you're weary to death of the kept life. So you count up what's set by--
and realize it's enough to hire passage out to Barbados.

Which someone once told you was supposed to be paradise after London,
and you, like a fool, believed it. But which you discover quick enough
is just a damned sweltering version of hell. You're here now though, so
you take what little money's left and find yourself some girls, Irish
ones who've served out their time as indentures, despise having to
work, and can't wait to take up the old life, same as before they came
out.

And finally you can forget all about what it was like being a penniless
orphan. Trouble is, you also realize you're not so young anymore.

"Would you fancy some Hollander cheese, love? The purser from the
_Zeelander _lifted a tub for me and there's still a bit left. And I'll
warrant there's cassava bread in back, still warm from morning." She
knew Hugh always called for the local bread, the hard patties baked
from the powdered cassava root, rather than that from the stale,
weevily flour shipped out from London.

He ran a finger contemplatively across her breasts--now they at least
were still round and firm as any strutting Irish wench half her age
could boast--then dropped his legs off the side of the bed and began to
search for his boots.

"I could do with a tankard of sack."

The very brass of him! When he'd come back half drunk in the middle of
the night, ranting about floggings or some such and waving a bottle of
kill-devil. He'd climbed into bed, had his way, and promptly passed
out. So instead of acting like he owned the place, he could bloody well
supply an explanation.

"So how did it go yesterday?" She held her voice even, a purr. "With
that business on the _Zeelander_?"

That wasn't the point she actually had in mind. If it hadn't been so
damned hot, she'd have nailed him straight out. Something along the
lines of "And where in bloody hell were you till all hours?" Or maybe
"Why is't you think you can have whatever you want, the minute you want
it?" That was the enquiry the situation called for.

"You missed a fine entertainment." His tone of voice told her he
probably meant just the opposite.

"You're sayin' the sale went well for the Dutchmen?" She

watched him shrug, then readied herself to monitor him sharply. "And
after that I expect you were off drinking with the Council." She
flashed a look of mock disapproval. "Doubtless passing yourself for a
fine gentleman, as always?"

"I am a gentleman." He laughed and swung at her with a muddy boot, just
missing as she sprang from the bed. "I just rarely trouble to own it."

"Aye, you're a gentleman, to be sure. And by that thinking I'm a virgin
still, since I was doubtless that once too."

"So I've heard you claim. But that was back well before my time."

"You had rare fortune, darlin'. You got the rewards of years of
expertise." She reached to pull on her brown linen shift. "And I
suppose you'll be telling me next that Master Briggs and the Council
can scarcely wait to settle your sight bills."

"They'll settle them in a fortnight, one way or another, or damned to
them." He reached for his breeches, not the fancy ones he wore once in
a while around the Council, but the canvas ones he used aboard ship,
and the tone of his voice changed. "I just hope things stay on an even
keel till then."

"I don't catch your meaning." She studied him openly, wondering if that
meant he was already planning to leave.

"The planters' new purchase." He'd finished with the trousers and was
busy with his belt. "Half of them are Yoruba."

"And, pray, what's that?" She'd thought he was going to explain more on
the bit about leaving.

"I think they're a people from somewhere down around the Niger River
delta."

"The Africans, you mean?" She examined him, still puzzled. "The
slaves?"

"You've hit on it. The slaves. Like a fool, I didn't see it coming, but
it's here, all right. May God curse Ruyters. Now I realize this is what
he planned all along, the bastard, when he started telling everybody
how they could get rich with cane. Save none of these Puritans knows
the first thing about working Africans. He's sold them a powder keg
with these Yoruba." He rose and started for the door leading into the
front room of the tavern. "And they're doing all they can to spark the
fuse."

"What're you tryin' to say?" She was watching him walk, something that
still pleased her after all the years. But she kept on seeming to
listen. When Hugh took something in his head, you'd best let him carry
on about it for a time.

"They're proud and I've got a feeling they're not going to take this
treatment." He turned back to look at her, finally reading her
confusion. "I've seen plenty of Yoruba over the years in Brazil, and I
can tell you the Papists have learned to handle them differently.
They're fast and they're smart. Some of them even come off the boat
already knowing Portugee. I also found out that at least one of those
Ruyters sold to Briggs can speak it."

"Is that such a bad thing? It'd seem to me . . ."

"What I'm saying is, now that they're here, they've got to be treated
like men. You can't starve them and horsewhip them the way you can
Irish indentures. I've got a strong feeling they'll not abide it for
long." He moved restlessly into the front room, a wood-floored space of
rickety pine tables and wobbly straight chairs, plopping down by the
front doorway, his gaze fixed on the misty outline of the river bridge.
"I went on out to Briggs' plantation last night, thinking to talk over
a certain little matter, but instead I got treated to a show of how he
plans to break in his slaves. The first thing he did was flog one of
his new Yoruba when he balked at eating loblolly corn mush. That's
going to make for big trouble, mark it."

She studied him now and finally realized how worked up he was. Hugh
usually noticed everything, yet he'd walked straight through the room
without returning the groggy nods of his men, two French mates and his
quartermaster John Mewes--the latter now gaming at three-handed whist
with Salt-Beef Peg and Buttock-de-Clink Jenny, her two newest Irish
girls.

She knew for sure Peg had noticed him, and that little sixpenny tart
bloody well knew better than to breathe a word in front of her
mistress.

"Well, settle down a bit." She opened the cabinet and took out an
onion-flask of sack, together with two tankards. "Tell me where you're
thinking you'll be going next." She dropped into the chair opposite and
began uncorking the bottle. "Or am I to expect you and the lads'll be
staying a while in Barbados this time?"

He laughed. "Well now, am I supposed to think it's me you're thinking
about? Or is it you're just worried we might ship out while one of the
lads still has a shilling left somewhere or other?"

She briefly considered hoisting the bottle she'd just fetched and
cracking it over his skull, but instead she shot him a frown and turned
toward the bleary-eyed gathering at the whist table. "John, did you
ever hear the likes of this one, by my life? He'd have the lot of you
drink and play for free."

John Mewes, a Bristol seaman who had joined Hugh years ago after
jumping ship at Nevis Island, stared up groggily from his game, then
glanced back at his shrinking pile of coins--shrinking as Salt-Beef
Peg's had grown. His weathered cheeks were lined from drink, and, as
always, his ragged hair was matted against his scalp and the jerkin
covering his wide belly was stained brown with spilled grog.
Inexplicably, women doted on him in taverns the length of the
Caribbean.

"Aye, yor ladyship, it may soon have to be. This bawd of yours is near
to takin' my last shilling, before she's scarce troubled liftin' her
skirts to earn it." He took another swallow of kill-devil from his
tankard, then looked imploringly toward Winston. "On my honor, Cap'n,
by the look of it I'm apt to be poor as a country parson by noontide
tomorrow."

"But you're stayin' all this week with me, John." Peg was around the
table and on his lap in an instant, her soft brown eyes aglow. "A
promise to a lady always has to be kept. Else you'll lose your luck."

"Then shall I be havin' your full measure for the coin of love? It's
near to all that's left, I'll take an oath on it. My purse's shriveled
as the Pope's balls."

"For love?" Peg rose. "And I suppose I'm to be livin' on this
counterfeit you call love. Whilst you're off plyin' your sweet talk to
some stinkin' Dutch whore over on the Wild Coast."

"The damned Hollander wenches are all too sottish by half. They'd swill
a man's grog faster'n he can call for it." He took another pull from
his tankard and glanced admiringly at Peg's bulging, half-laced bodice.
"But I say deal the cards, m'lady. Where there's life, there's hope, as
I'm a Christian."

"And what was it you were saying, love?" Joan turned back to Winston
and poured another splash into his tankard. "I think it was something
to do with the new slaves?"

"I said I don't like it, and I just might try doing something about it.
I just hope there's no trouble here in the meantime." His voice slowly
trailed off into the din of the rain.

This bother about the slaves was not a bit like him, Joan thought.
Hugh'd never been out to right all the world's many ills. Besides, what
did he expect? God's wounds, the planters were going to squeeze every
shilling they could out of these new Africans. Everybody knew the
Caribbees and all the Americas were "beyond the line," outside the
demarcation on some map somewhere that separated Europe from the New
World. Out here the rules were different. Hugh had always understood
that better than anybody, so why was he so out of sorts now that the
planters had found a replacement for their lazy indentures? Heaven can
tell, he had wrongs enough of his own to brood about if he wanted to
trouble his mind over life's little misfortunes.

"What is it really that's occupying your mind so much this trip, love?
It can't just be these new slaves. I know you too well for that." She
studied him. "Is't the sight bills?"

"I've been thinking about an idea I've had for a long, long time.
Seeing what's happened now on Barbados, it all fits together somehow."

"What're you talking about?"

"I'm wondering if maybe it's not time I tried changing a few things."

This was definitely a new Hugh. He never talked like that in the old
days. Back then all he ever troubled about was how he was going to
manage making a living--a problem he still hadn't worked out, if you
want the honest truth.

She looked at him now, suddenly so changed, and recollected the first
time she ever saw him. It was a full seven years past, just after she'd
opened her tavern and while he was still a seaman on the _Zeelander_.
That Dutch ship had arrived with clapboards and staves from Portsmouth,
Rhode Island, needed on Barbados for houses and tobacco casks. While
the _Zeelander _was lading Barbados cotton for the mills in New
England, he'd come in one night with the other members of the Dutch
crew, and she'd introduced him to one of the girls. But, later on, it
was her he'd bought drinks for, not the plump Irish colleen he'd been
with. And then came the questions. How'd she get on, he wanted to know,
living by her wits out here in the New World? Where was the money?

She'd figured, rightly, that Hugh was looking for something, maybe
thinking to try and make his own way, as she had.

After a while he'd finally ordered a tankard for the pouting girl, then
disappeared. But there he was again the next evening, and the one after
that too. Each time he'd go off with one of the girls, then come back
and talk with her. Finally one night he did something unheard of. He
bought a full flask of kill-devil and proposed they take a walk down to
look at the ship.

God's life, as though she hadn't seen enough worn-out Dutch frigates. .
. .

Then she realized what was happening. This young English mate with a
scar on his cheek desired her, was paying court to her. He even seemed
to like her. Didn't he know she no longer entertained the trade
herself?

But Hugh was different. So, like a fool, she lost sight of her better
judgment. Later that night, she showed him how a woman differed from a
girl.

And she still found occasion to remind him from time to time, seven
years later. . . .

"I want to show you how I came by the idea I've been working on." He
abruptly rose and walked back to the bedroom. When he returned he was
carrying his two pistols, their long steel barrels damascened with gold
and the stocks fine walnut. He placed them carefully on the table, then
dropped back into his chair and reached for his tankard. "Take a look
at those."

"God's blood." She glanced at the guns and gave a tiny snort. "Every
time I see you, you've got another pair."

"I like to keep up with the latest designs."

"So tell me what's 'latest' about these."

"A lot of things. In the first place, the firing mechanism's a
flintlock. So when you pull the trigger, the piece of flint there in
the hammer strikes against the steel wing on the cap of the powder pan,
opening it and firing the powder in a single action. Also, the powder
pan loads automatically when the barrel's primed. It's faster and
better than a matchlock."

"That's lovely. But flintlocks have been around for some time, or
hadn't you heard?" She looked at the guns and took a sip of sack,
amused by his endless fascination with pistols. He'd always been that
way, but it was to a purpose. You'd be hard pressed to find a marksman
in the Caribbees better or faster than Hugh--a little talent left over
from his time with the Cow-Killers on Tortuga, though for some reason
he'd as soon not talk about those years. She glanced down again. "Is it
just my eyes, or do I see two barrels? Now I grant you this is the
first time I've come across anything like that. "

"Congratulations. That's what's new about this design. Watch." He
lifted up a gun and carefully touched a second trigger, a smaller one
in front of the first. The barrel assembly emitted a light click and
revolved a half turn, bringing up the second barrel, ready to fire.
"See, they're double-barreled. I hear it's called a 'turn-over'
mechanism--since when you pull that second trigger, a spring-loaded
assembly turns over a new barrel, complete with a primed powder pan."
He gripped the muzzle and revolved the barrels back to their initial
position. "This design's going to be the coming thing, mark it." He
laid the pistol back onto the table. "Oh, by the way, there's one other
curiosity. Have a look there on the breech. Can you make out the name?"

She lifted one of the flintlocks and squinted in the half-light. Just
in front of the ornate hammer there was a name etched in gold: "Don
Francisco de Castilla."

"That's more'n likely the gunsmith who made them. On a fine pistol
you'll usually see the maker's name there. You ought to know that." She
looked at him. "I didn't suppose you made them yourself, darlin'. I've
never seen that name before, but God knows there're lots of Spanish
pistols around the Caribbean. Everybody claims they're the best."

"That's what I thought the name was too. At first." He lifted his
tankard and examined the amber contents. "Tell me. How much do you know
about Jamaica?"

"What's that got to do with these pistols?"

"One thing at a time. I asked you what you know about Jamaica."

"No more'n everybody else does. It's a big island somewhere to the west
of here, that the Spaniards hold. There's supposed to be a harbor and a
fortress, and a little settlement they call Villa de la Vega, with
maybe a couple of thousand planters. But that's about all, from what I
hear, since the Spaniards've never yet found any gold or silver there."
She studied him, puzzling. "Why're you asking?"

"I've been thinking. Maybe I'll go over and poke around a bit." He
paused, then lowered his voice. "Maybe see if I can take the fortress."

" 'Maybe take the fortress,' you say?" She exploded with laughter and
reached for the sack. "I reckon I'd best put away this flask. Right
now."

"You don't think I can do it?"

"I hear the Spaniards've got heavy cannon in that fortress, and a big
militia. Even some cavalry. No Englishman's going to take it." She
looked at him. "Not wishing to offend, love, but wouldn't you say
that's just a trifle out of your depth?"

"I appreciate your expression of confidence." He settled his tankard on
the table. "Then tell me something else. Do you remember Jackson?"

"The famous 'Captain' Jackson, you mean?"

"Captain William Jackson."

"Sure, I recall that lying knave well enough." She snorted. "Who could
forget him. He was here for two months once, while you were out, and
turned Barbados upside down, recruiting men to sail against the
Spaniards' settlements on the Main. Claiming he was financed by the
Earl of Warwick. He sat drinking every night at this very table, then
left me a stack of worthless sight drafts, saying he'd be back in no
time to settle them in Spanish gold." She studied him for a moment.
"That was four years past. The best I know he was never heard from
since. For sure _I_ never heard from him." Suddenly she leaned forward.
"Don't tell me you know where he might be?"

"Not any more. But I learned last year what happened back then. It
turns out he got nothing on the Main. The Spaniards would empty any
settlement--Maracaibo, Puerto Cabello--he tried to take. They'd just
strip their houses and disappear into the jungle."

"So he went back empty-handed?"

"Wrong. That's what he wanted everybody to think happened. Especially
the Earl of Warwick. He kept on going." Winston lowered his voice
again, beyond reach of the men across the room. "I wouldn't believe
what he did next if I didn't have these pistols." He picked up one of
the guns and yelled toward the whist table. "John."

"Aye." Mewes was on his feet in an instant, wiping his hand across his
mouth.

"Remember where I got these flintlocks?"

"I seem to recall it was Virginia. Jamestown." He reached down and
lifted his tankard for a sip. Then he wiped his mouth a second time.
"An' if you want my thinkin', they was sold to you by the scurviest-
lookin' whoreson that ever claim'd he was English, that I'd not trust
with tuppence. An' that's the truth."

"Well . . ." She leaned back in her chair.

"Along with the pistols I also got part of the story of Jackson's
expedition. It seems this man had been with them--claimed he was first
mate on the flagship--but he'd finally jumped ship when Jackson tried
to storm a fortress up on the coast of Spanish Florida, then made his
way north to Virginia. He stole these pistols from Jackson's cabin the
night he swam ashore."

"Then I've half a mind to confiscate them here and now as payment for
my sight drafts." She inspected the guns. "But I still don't follow
what that's got to do with Jamaica."

He picked up one of the pistols again and traced his finger along the
flintlock. "The name. Don Francisco de Castilla. I kept thinking and
thinking, and finally I remembered. That's not a pistol maker. That's
the name of the Spanish governor of Villa de la Vega. Jamaica. "

"But then how did Jackson get them? I never saw these pistols when he
was here, and I'd have remembered them, you can be sure." She was
staring skeptically at the guns.

"That's what I began to wonder. So I tracked down the seller and found
out what really happened." He lowered his voice again. "Jackson got
them from de Castilla's personal strongbox. In the fortress. William
Jackson took Jamaica. He got the idea the Spaniards'd never be
expecting an attack that far from the Main, and he was right. So after
Maracaibo, he made way straight for Jamaica. He raised the bay at dawn,
brought the fleet together and put in for the harbor. The fortress, the
town, all of it, was his in a morning."

"But how could he hold the place? As soon as the Spaniards over on the
Main got word, they'd be sure to send a . . ."

"He didn't bother. He delivered the town back in return for provisions
and a ransom of twenty thousand pieces of eight. Split the money with
his men and swore them to secrecy. But he kept these pistols." Winston
smiled. "Except now they're mine."

"Hold a minute. I'm afraid I'm beginning to see what you're thinking."
She leaned forward, alarm in her eyes. "So let me tell you a few
things. About that little expedition of Jackson's. That fast-talking
rogue put in here with three armed frigates. He raised over five
hundred men and God knows how many muskets. I saw them all off, holding
my valuable sight drafts, the day he set sail out of Carlisle Bay."

"But what if I got more men?"

"In God's name, who from?"

"Who do you think?" He ran his fingers through his hair and looked
away. "I've been thinking it over for months. Well, now I've made up my
mind. What the hell are the Americas for? Slavery?" He looked back.
"I'm going to take Jamaica, and keep it. It'll be the one place in the
New World where there'll be no indentures. No slaves. Just free men.
The way it was on Tortuga."

"Christ on a cross, you've totally taken leave of sense!" She looked at
him dumbfounded. "You'd best stop dreaming about Jamaica and put your
deep mind to work on how you're going to collect those sight bills from
the Council. You've got to make a living, love."

"The sight bills are part of my plan. As it happens, I expect to settle
that very item next Friday night."

"Best of luck." She paused, then pushed back from the table. "God's
blood, were you invited?"

He looked up from his tankard. "How do you know where I'm going?"

"There's only one place it could be. The fancy ball Master Briggs is
holdin' for the Council. In his grand new estate house. It's the reason
there's not a scrap of taffeta left in the whole of Bridgetown. I was
trying to buy some all yesterday for the girls."

"I have to go. It's the perfect time to see them all together."

"And I suppose Miss Katherine Bedford'll be there as well?" Her voice
had acquired an unmistakable edge. "In her official capacity as 'First
Lady'?"

"Oddly enough, I neglected to enquire on that point."

"Did you now?" She sniffed. "Aye, her highness'll be in attendance, and
probably wearin' half the taffeta I wanted to buy. Not that it'll be
made up properly. She'll be there, the strumpet, on my honor. . . ."

"What if she is? It's no matter to me." He drank again. "I just want my
sight bills paid, in coin as agreed, not in bales of their damned
worthless tobacco."

She seemed not to hear. ". . . when she's too busy ridin' that mare of
hers to so much as nod her bonnet to an honest woman who might have
need to make a living. . . ."

"All right." He set down his tankard. "I'll take you."

"Pardon?"

"I said _I'll take you_."

"Now you've gone totally daft." She stared at him, secretly overjoyed
he'd consider asking. "Can you fancy the scene? Me, in amongst all
those dowdy Puritan sluts! Stuffing their fat faces whilst arguing over
whether to starve their indentures completely to death. Not to mention
there'd be general heart seizure in the ranks of the Council, the half
of which keep open accounts here on the sly. Only I'm lucky to get paid
in musty tobacco, let alone the coin you 're dreaming of." She laughed.
"And I warrant you'll be paid with the same, love. That's assuming
you're ever paid at all."

"As you will." He took a sip of sack. "But since you're so worried
about the women, don't forget who else'll probably be there."

"Who do you mean?"

"Remember what the Portugals say: '_E a mulata que e Mulher'_."

"'It's the mulatto who's the real woman.'" She translated the famous
Pernambuco expression, then frowned. "I suppose you mean that
Portuguese mulatto Master Briggs bought for himself when you took them
all down to Brazil. The one named Serina."

"The very one. I caught a glimpse of her again last night."

"I know her, you rogue. Probably better than you do. Briggs is always
sending her down here for bottles of kill-devil, sayin' he doesn't
trust his indentures to get them home. She's a fine-featured woman of
the kind, if I say it myself."

"Finer than Briggs deserves."

"Did you know that amongst the Council she's known as his 'pumpkin-
colored whore'? Those hypocritical Puritan whoremasters. I always ask
her to stay a bit when she comes. I think she's probably lonely, poor
creature. But I can tell you one thing for certain--she takes no great
satisfaction in her new owner. Or in Barbados either, come to that,
after the fine plantation she lived on in Brazil." She laughed.
"Something not hard to understand. I'm always amazed to remember she's
a slave. Probably one of the very first on this island." She looked
away reflectively. "Though now she's got much company."

"Too much."

"You may be right for once. It's a new day, on my faith, and I don't
mind telling you it troubles me a bit. There're apt to be thousands of
these Africans here soon. There'll be nothing like it anywhere in the
Americas." She sighed. "But the Council's all saying the slaves'll
change everything, make them all rich." Her voice quickened as she
turned back. "Do you suppose it's true?"

"Probably. That's why I plan to try and change a few things too." He
looked out at the bay, where a line of brown pelicans glided single
file across the tips of waves. The horizon beyond was lost in mist. "My
own way."



Chapter Three


Katherine gazed past the pewter candlesticks and their flickering
tapers, down the long cedar table of Briggs' dining hall, now piled
high with stacks of greasy wooden plates spilling over with half-
finished food. The room was wide and deep, with dark oak beams across
the ceiling and fresh white plaster walls. Around the table were rows
of grim men in black hats and plump Puritan women in tight bodices and
starched collars. For all its surface festivity, there was something
almost ominous about the evening. Change was in the air, and not change
for the better.

At the head of the table were the most prominent members of the
Council, the owners of Barbados' largest plantations. She knew the
wealthiest ones personally: Edward Bayes, his jowls protruding beneath
his whisp of beard, owned the choicest coastal lands north around
Speightstown; Thomas Lancaster, now red-cheeked and glassy-eyed from
the liquor, had the largest plantation in the rolling plains of St.
George's parish, mid-island; Nicholas Whittington, dewlapped and
portly, was master of a vast acreage in Christ's Church parish, on the
southern coast.

Anthony Walrond had not been invited, nor any other of the new royalist
emigres--which she should have known was exactly what was going to
happen before she went to all the bother of having a new dress and
bodice made up. No, tonight the guests were the rich planters, the old
settlers who arrived on Barbados in the early years and claimed the
best land. They were the ones that Dalby Bedford, now seated beside
her, diplomatically sipping from his tankard, liked to call the
"plantocracy." They had gathered to celebrate the beginnings of the
sugar miracle. And the new order.

The room was alive with an air of expectancy, almost as palpable as the
smoke that drifted in through the open kitchen door. Benjamin Briggs'
banquet and ball, purportedly a celebration, was in truth something
more like a declaration: the Assembly, that elected body created by
Dalby Bedford from among the small freeholders, would soon count for
nothing in the face of the big planters' new wealth and power.
Henceforth, this flagship of the Americas would be controlled by the
men who owned the most land and the most slaves.

The worst part of all, she told herself, was that Briggs' celebration
would probably last till dawn. Though the banquet was over now, the
ball was about to commence. And after that, Briggs had dramatically
announced, there would be a special preview of his new sugarworks, the
first on the island.

In hopes of reinforcing her spirits, she took another sip of Canary
wine, then lifted her glass higher, to study the room through its wavy
refractions. Now Briggs seemed a distorted, comical pygmy as he ordered
the servants to pass more bottles of kill-devil down the table, where
the planters and their wives continued to slosh it into their pewter
tankards of lemon punch. After tonight, she found herself thinking, the
whole history of the Americas might well have to be rewritten. Barbados
would soon be England's richest colony, and unless the Assembly held
firm, these few greedy Puritans would seize control. All thanks to
sugar.

Right there in the middle of it all was Hugh Winston, looking a little
melancholy and pensive. He scarcely seemed to notice as several toasts
to his health went round the table--salutes to the man who'd made sugar
possible. He obviously didn't care a damn about sugar. He was too
worried about getting his money.

As well he should be, she smiled to herself. He'll never see it. Not a
farthing. Anybody could tell that Briggs and the Council hadn't the
slightest intention of settling his sight bills. He didn't impress them
for a minute with those pretty Spanish pistols in his belt. They'd
stood up to a lot better men than him. Besides, there probably weren't
two thousand pounds in silver on the whole island.

Like all the American settlements, Barbados' economy existed on barter
and paper; everything was valued in weights of tobacco or cotton. Metal
money was almost never seen; in fact, it was actually against the law
to export coin from England to the Americas. The whole Council together
couldn't come up with that much silver. He could forget about settling
his sight bills in specie.

"I tell you this is the very thing every man here'll need if he's to
sleep nights." Briggs voice cut through her thoughts. He was at the
head of the table, describing the security features of his new stone
house. "Mind you, it's not yet finished." He gestured toward the large
square staircase leading up toward the unpainted upper floors. "But
it's already secure as the Tower of London."

She remembered Briggs had laid the first stone of his grand new
plantation house in the weeks after his return from Brazil, in
anticipation of the fortune he expected to make from sugar, and he had
immediately christened it "Briggs Hall." The house and its surrounding
stone wall were actually a small fortress. The dining room where they
sat now was situated to one side of the wide entry foyer, across from
the parlor and next to the smoky kitchen, a long stone room set off to
the side. There were several small windows along the front and back of
the house, but these could all be sealed tight with heavy shutters--a
measure as much for health as safety, since the planters believed the
cool night breeze could induce dangerous chills and "hot paroxysms."

Maybe he thought he needed such a house. Maybe, she told herself, he
did. He already had twenty indentures, and he'd just bought thirty
Africans. The island now expected more slave cargos almost weekly.

As she listened, she found herself watching Hugh Winston, wondering
what the Council's favorite smuggler thought of it all. Well, at the
moment he looked unhappy. He seemed to find Briggs' lecture on the new
need for security either pathetic or amusing--his eyes were hard to
make out--but she could tell from his glances round the table he found
something ironic about the need for a stone fort in the middle of a
Caribbean island.

Briggs suddenly interrupted his monologue and turned to signal his
servants to begin placing trenchers of clay pipes and Virginia tobacco
down the table. A murmur of approval went up when the planters saw it
was imported, not the musty weed raised on Barbados.

The appearance of the tobacco signaled the official end of the food. As
the gray-shirted servants began packing and firing the long-stemmed
pipes, then kneeling to offer them to the tipsy planters, several of
the more robust wives present rose with a grateful sigh. Holding their
new gowns away from the ant-repellent tar smeared along the legs of the
table and chairs, they began retiring one by one to the changing room
next to the kitchen, where Briggs' Irish maidservants could help loosen
their tight bodices in preparation for the ball.

Katherine watched the women file past, then cringed as she caught the
first sound of tuning fiddles from the large room opposite the
entryway. What was the rest of the evening going to be like? Surely the
banquet alone was enough to prove Briggs was now the most powerful man
in Barbados, soon perhaps in all the Americas. He had truly outdone
himself. Even the servants were saying it was the grandest night the
island had ever seen--and predicting it was only the first of many to
come.

The indentures themselves had all dined earlier on their usual fare of
loblolly cornmeal mush, sweet potatoes, and hyacinth beans--though
tonight they were each given a small allowance of pickled turtle in
honor of the banquet. But for the Council and their wives, Briggs had
dressed an expensive imported beef as the centerpiece of the table. The
rump had been boiled, and the brisket, along with the cheeks, roasted.
The tongue and tripe had been minced and baked into pies, seasoned with
sweet herbs, spices, and currants. The beef had been followed by a dish
of Scots collops of pork; then a young kid goat dressed in its own
blood and thyme, with a pudding in its belly; and next a sweet suckling
pig in a sauce of brains, sage, and nutmeg mulled in Claret wine. After
that had come a shoulder of mutton and a side of goat, both covered
with a rasher of bacon, then finally baked rabbit and a loin of veal.

And as though that weren't enough to allow every planter there to gorge
himself to insensibility, there were also deep bowls of potato pudding
and dishes of baked plantains, prickly pear, and custard apples. At the
end came the traditional cold meats, beginning with roast duck well
larded, then Spanish bacon, pickled oysters, and fish roe. With it all
was the usual kill-devil, as well as Canary wine, Sherry, and red sack
from Madeira.

When the grease-stained table had been cleared and the pipes lighted,
Briggs announced the after-dinner cordial. A wide bowl of French brandy
appeared before him, and into it the servants cracked a dozen large hen
eggs. Then a generous measure of sugar was poured in and the mixture
vigorously stirred. Finally he called for a burning taper, took it
himself, and touched the flame to the brandy. The fumes hovering over
the dish billowed into a huge yellow blossom, and the table erupted
with a cheer. After the flame had died away, the servants began ladling
out the mixture and passing portions down the table.

Katherine sipped the sweet, harsh liquid and watched as two of the
planters sitting nearby, their clay pipes billowing, rose unsteadily
and hoisted their cups for a toast. The pair smelled strongly of sweat
and liquor. They weren't members of the Council, but both would also be
using the new sugar-works--for a percentage--after Briggs had finished
with his own cane, since their plantations were near Briggs' and
neither could afford the investment to build his own. One was Thomas
Lockwood, a short, brooding Cornwall bachelor who now held a hundred
acres immediately north of Briggs' land, and the other was William
Marlott, a thin, nervous Suffolk merchant who had repaired to Barbados
with his consumptive wife ten years before and had managed to
accumulate eighty acres upland, all now planted in cane.

"To the future of sugar on Barbados," Lockwood began, his voice slurred
from the kill-devil. Then Marlott joined in, "And a fine fortune to
every man at this table."

A buzz of approval circled the room, and with a scrape of chairs all
the other men pulled themselves to their feet and raised their cups.

Katherine was surprised to see Hugh Winston lean back in his chair, his
own cup sitting untouched on the boards. He'd been drinking all
evening, but now his eyes had acquired an absent gaze as he watched the
hearty congratulations going around.

After the planters had drunk, Briggs turned to him with a querulous
expression.

"Where's your thirst, Captain? Will you not drink to the beginnings of
English prosperity in the Caribbees? Sure, it's been a long time
coming."

"You'll be an even longer time paying the price." It was virtually the
first time Winston had spoken all evening, and his voice was subdued.
There was a pause, then he continued, his voice still quiet. "So far
all sugar's brought you is slavery. And prisons for homes, when it was
freedom that Englishmen came to the Americas for. Or so I've heard
claimed."

"Now sir, every man's got a right to his own mind on a thing, I always
say. But the Caribbees were settled for profit, first and foremost.
Let's not lose sight of that." Briggs smiled indulgently and settled
his cup onto the table. "For that matter, what's all this 'freedom'
worth if you've not a farthing in your pocket? We've tried everything
else, and it's got to be sugar. It's the real future of the Americas,
depend on it. Which means we've got to work a batch of Africans, plain
as that, and pay mind they don't get out of hand. We've tried it long
enough to know these white indentures can't, or won't, endure the labor
to make sugar. Try finding me a white man who'll cut cane all day in
the fields. That's why every spoon of that sweet powder an English
gentlewoman stirs into her china cup already comes from a black hand in
chains. It's always been, it'll always be. For sure it'll be the Papist
Spaniards and Portugals still holding the chains if not us."

Winston, beginning to look a bit the worse for drink, seemed not to
hear. "Which means you're both on the end of a chain, one way or
another."

"Well, sir, that's as it may be." Briggs settled back into his chair.
"But you've only to look at the matter to understand there's nothing to
compare with sugar. Ask any Papist. Now I've heard said it was first
discovered in Cathay, but we all know sugar's been the monopoly of the
Spaniards and Portugals for centuries. Till now. Mind you, the men in
this room are the first Englishmen who've ever learned even how to
plant the cane--not with seeds, but by burying sections of stalk."

Katherine braced herself for what would come next. She had heard it all
so many times before, she almost knew his text by heart.

"We all know that if the Dutchmen hadn't taken that piece of Brazil
from the Portugals, sugar'd be the secret of the Papists still. So this
very night we're going to witness the beginning of a new history of the
world. English sugar."

"Aye," Edward Bayes interrupted, pausing to wipe his beard against his
sleeve. "We've finally found something we can grow here in the
Caribbees that'll have a market worldwide. Show me the fine lord who
doesn't have his cook lade sugar into every dish on his table. Or the
cobbler, one foot in the almshouse, who doesn't use all the sugar he
can buy or steal." Bayes beamed, his red-tinged eyes aglow in the
candlelight. "And that's only today, sir. I tell you, only today. The
market for sugar's just beginning."

"Not a doubt," Briggs continued. "Consider the new fashion just
starting up in London for drinking coffee, and chocolate. There's a
whole new market for sugar, since they'll not be drunk without it." He
shoved aside his cup of punch and reached to pour a fresh splash of
kill-devil into his tankard. "In faith, sugar's about to change forever
the way Englishmen eat, and drink, and live."

"And I'll wager an acre of land here'll make a pound of sugar for every
pound of tobacco it'll grow." Lockwood rose again. "When sugar'll bring
who knows how many times the price. If we grow enough cane on Barbados,
and buy ourselves enough of these Africans to bring it in, we'll be
underselling the Papists in five years' time, maybe less."

"Aye." Briggs seconded Lockwood, eyeing him as he drank. It was common
knowledge that Briggs held eighteen-month sight drafts from the
planter, coming due in a fortnight. Katherine looked at the two of them
and wondered how long it would be before the better part of Lockwood's
acres were incorporated into the domain of Briggs Hall.

"Well, I kept my end of our bargain, for better or worse." Winston's
voice lifted over the din of the table. "Now it's time for yours. Two
thousand pounds were what we agreed on, in coin. Spanish pieces-of-
eight, English sovereigns--there's little difference to me."

It's come, Katherine thought. But he'll not raise a shilling.

Briggs was suddenly scrutinizing his tankard as an uneasy quiet settled
around the table. "It's a hard time for us all just now, sir." He
looked up. "Six months more and we'll have sugar to sell to the
Dutchmen. But as it is today . . ."

"That's something you should've thought about when you signed those
sight drafts."

"I'd be the first one to grant you that point, sir, the very first."
Briggs' face had assumed an air of contrition. "But what's done's
done." He placed his rough hands flat down on the table, as though to
symbolize they were empty. "We've talked it over, and the best we can
manage now's to roll them over, with interest, naturally. What would
you say to . . . five percent?"

"That wasn't the understanding." Winston's voice was quiet, but his
eyes narrowed.

"Well, sir. That's the terms we're prepared to offer." Briggs' tone
hardened noticeably. "In this world it's the wise man who takes what he
can get."

"The sight bills are for cash on demand." Winston's voice was still
faint, scarcely above a whisper. Katherine listened in dismay,
realizing she'd secretly been hoping he could stand up to the Council.
Just to prove somebody could. And now . . .

"Damn your sight bills, sir. We've made you our offer." Briggs
exchanged glances with the other members of the Council. "In truth,
it'd be in the interest of all of us here to just have them declared
worthless paper."

"You can't rightfully do that." Winston drank again. "They have full
legal standing."

"We have courts here, sir, that could be made to take the longer view.
To look to the interests of the island."

"There're still courts in England. If we have to take it that far."

"But you'll not be going back there, sir. We both know it'd take
years." Briggs grinned. "And I'll warrant you'd get more justice in
England than you bargained for, if you had the brass to try it."

"That remains to be seen." Winston appeared trying to keep his voice
firm. "But there'll be no need for that. I seem to recall the terms
give me recourse--the right to foreclose. Without notice."

"Foreclose?" Briggs seemed unsure he had caught the word.

"Since you co-signed all the notes yourself, I won't have to bother
with the rest of the Council," Winston continued. "I can just foreclose
on you personally. Remember you pledged this plantation as collateral."

"That was a formality. And it was two years past." Briggs laughed.
"Before I built this house. And the sugarworks. At the time there was
nothing on this property but a thatched-roof bungalow."

"Formality or not, the drafts pledge these acres and what's on them."

"Well, damn you, sir." Briggs slammed down his tankard. "You'll not get
. . ."

"Mind you, I don't have any use for the land," Winston interjected. "So
why don't we just make it the sugarworks? That ought to about cover
what's owed." He looked back. "If I present the notes in Bridgetown
tomorrow morning, we can probably just transfer ownership then and
there. What do you say to that arrangement?"

"You've carried this jest quite far enough, sir." Briggs' face had
turned the color of the red prickly-pear apples on the table. "We all
need that sugarworks. You'll not be getting your hands on it. I presume
I speak for all the Council when I say we'll protect our interests. If
you try foreclosing on that sugarworks, I'll call you out. I've a mind
to anyway, here and now. For your damned impudence." He abruptly pushed
back from the table, his doublet falling open to reveal the handle of a
pistol. Several Council members shoved back also. All had flintlock
pistols in their belts, the usual precaution in an island of unruly
indentures.

Winston appeared not to notice. "I see no reason for anyone to get
killed over a little business transaction."

Briggs laughed again. "No sir, I suppose you'd rather just try
intimidating us with threats of foreclosure. But by God, if you think
you can just barge in here and fleece the Council of Barbados, you've
miscalculated. It's time you learned a thing or two about this island,"
he continued, his voice rising. "Just because you like to strut about
with a pair of fancy flintlocks in your belt, don't think we'll all
heel to your bluff." He removed his dark hat and threw it on the table.
It matched the black velvet of his doublet. "You can take our offer, or
you can get off my property, here and now."

Katherine caught the determined looks in the faces of several members
of the Council as their hands dropped to their belts. She suddenly
wondered if it had all been planned. Was this what they'd been waiting
for? They must have known he'd not accept their offer, and figured
there was a cheaper way to manage the whole business anyway. A standoff
with pistols, Winston against them all.

"I still think it'd be better to settle this honorably." Winston looked
down and his voice trailed off, but there was a quick flash of anger in
his bloodshot eyes. Slowly he picked up his tankard and drained it. As
the room grew silent, he coughed at the harshness of the liquor, then
began to toy with the lid, flipping the thumb mechanism attached to the
hinged top and watching it flap open and shut. He heaved a sigh, then
abruptly leaned back and lobbed it in the general direction of the
staircase.

As the tankard began its trajectory, he was on his feet, kicking away
his chair. There was the sound of a pistol hammer being cocked and the
hiss of a powder pan. Then the room flashed with an explosion from his
left hand, where a pistol had appeared from out of his belt. At that
moment the lid of the tankard seemed to disconnect in midair, spinning
sideways as it ricocheted off the post of carved mastic wood at the top
of the stairs. The pistol clicked, rotating up the under-barrel, and
the second muzzle spoke. This time the tankard emitted a sharp ring and
tumbled end over end till it slammed against the railing. Finally it
bounced to rest against the cedar wainscot of the hallway, a small,
centered hole directly through the bottom. The shorn lid was still
rolling plaintively along the last step of the stairs.

The entire scene had taken scarcely more than a second. Katherine
looked back to see him still standing; he had dropped the flintlock
onto the table, both muzzles trailing wisps of gray smoke, while his
right hand gripped the stock of the other pistol, still in his belt.

"You can deduct that from what's owed." His eyes went down the table.

Briggs sat motionless in his chair staring at the tankard, while the
other planters all watched him in expectant silence. Finally he picked
up his hat and settled it back on his head without a word. Slowly, one
by one, the other men closed their doublets over their pistols and
nervously reached for their tankards.

After a moment Winston carefully reached for his chair and straightened
it up. He did not sit. "You'll be welcome to buy back the sugarworks
any time you like. Just collect the money and settle my sight bills."

The room was still caught in silence, till finally Briggs found his
voice.

"But the coin's not to be had, sir. Try and be reasonable. I tell you
we'd not find it on the whole of the island."

"Then maybe I'll just take something else." He reached out and seized
the motley gray shirt of Timothy Farrell, now tiptoeing around the
table carrying a fresh flask of kill-devil to Briggs. The terrified
Irishman dropped the bottle with a crash as Winston yanked him next to
the table. "Men. And provisions."

Briggs looked momentarily disoriented. "I don't follow you, sir. What
would you be doing with them?"

"That's my affair. Just give me two hundred indentures,

owned by the men on the Council who signed the sight drafts." He
paused. "That should cover about half the sum. I'll take the balance in
provisions. Then you can all have your sight bills to burn."

Now Briggs was studying the tankard in front of him, his eyes shining
in the candlelight. "Two hundred indentures and you'd be willing to
call it settled?"

"To the penny."

In the silence that followed, the rasp of a fiddle sounded through the
doorway, followed by the shrill whine of a recorder. Briggs yelled for
quiet, then turned back.

"There may be some merit in what you're proposing." He glanced up at
Farrell, watching the indenture flee the room as Winston released his
greasy shirt. "Yes sir, I'm thinking your proposal has some small
measure of merit. I don't know about the other men here, but I can
already name you a number of these layabouts I could spare." He turned
to the planters next to him, and several nodded agreement. "Aye, I'd
have us talk more on it." He pushed back his chair and rose unsteadily
from the table. The other planters took this as a signal, and as one
man they scraped back their chairs and began to nervously edge toward
the women, now clustered under the arches leading into the dancing
room. "When the time's more suitable."

"Tomorrow, then."

"Give us till tomorrow night, sir. After we've had some time to
parlay." Briggs nodded, then turned and led the crowd toward the sound
of the fiddles, relief in his eyes.

Katherine sat unmoving, dreading the prospect of having to dance with
any of the drunken planters. She watched through the dim candlelight as
Winston reached for an open flask of kill-devil, took a triumphant
swig, then slammed it down. She suddenly realized the table had been
entirely vacated save for the two of them.

The audacity! Of course it had all been a bluff. Anyone should have
been able to tell. He'd just wanted the indentures all along. But why?

"I suppose congratulations are in order, Captain."

"Pardon?" He looked up, not recognizing her through the smoke and
flickering shadows. "Forgive me, madam, I didn't catch what you said."

"Congratulations. That was a fine show you put on with your pistol."

He seemed momentarily startled, but then he laughed at his own surprise
and took another swig of kill-devil. "Thank you very much." He wiped
his mouth, set down the bottle, and glanced back. "Forgive me if I
disturbed your evening."

"Where did you learn to shoot like that?"

"I used to do a bit of hunting."

"Have you ever actually shot a man?"

"Not that I choose to remember."

"I thought so. It really was a bluff." Her eyebrows lifted. "So may I
enquire what is it you propose doing now with your two hundred men and
provisions?"

"You're Miss Bedford, if I'm not mistaken." He rose, finally making her
out. "I don't seem to recall our being introduced." He bowed with a
flourish. "Hugh Winston, your most obedient servant." Then he reached
for the flask of kill-devil as he lowered back into his chair. "I'd
never presume to address a . . . lady unless we're properly
acquainted."

She found the hint of sarcasm in his tone deliberately provoking. She
watched as he took another drink directly from the bottle.

"I don't seem to recall ever seeing you speak with a lady, Captain."

"You've got a point." His eyes twinkled. "Perhaps it's because there're
so few out here in the Caribbees."

"Or could it be you're not aware of the difference?" His insolent
parody of politeness had goaded her into a tone not entirely to her own
liking.

"So I've sometimes been told." Again his voice betrayed his pleasure.
"But then I doubt there is much, really." He grinned. "At least, by the
time they get around to educating me on that topic."

As happened only rarely, she couldn't think of a sufficiently cutting
riposte. She was still searching for one when he continued, all the
while examining her in the same obvious way he'd done on the shore.
"Excuse me, but I believe you enquired about something. The men and
provisions, I believe it was. The plain answer is I plan to take them
and leave Barbados, as soon as I can manage."

"And where is it you expect you'll be going?" She found her footing
again, and this time she planned to keep it.

"Let's say, on a little adventure. To see a new part of the world." He
was staring at her through the candlelight. "I've had about enough of
this island of yours. Miss Bedford. As well as the new idea that
slavery's going to make everybody rich. I'm afraid it's not my style."

"But I gather you're the man responsible for our noble new order here,
Captain."

He looked down at the flask, his smile vanishing. "If that's true, I'm
not especially proud of the fact."

At last she had him. All his arrogance had dissolved. Just like Jeremy,
that time she asked him to tell her what exactly he'd done in the
battle at Marsten Moor. Yet for some reason she pulled back, still
studying him.

"It's hard to understand you, Captain. You help them steal sugarcane
from the Portugals, then you decide you don't like it."

"At the time it was a job. Miss Bedford. Let's say I've changed my mind
since then. Things didn't turn out exactly the way I'd figured they
would." He took another drink, then set down the bottle and laughed.
"That always seems to be the way."

"What do you mean?"

"It's something like the story of my life." His tone waxed

slightly philosophical as he stared at the flickering candle. "I always
end up being kicked about by events. So now I've decided to try turning
things around. Do a little kicking of my own."

"That's a curious ambition. I suppose these indentures are going to
help you do it?" She was beginning to find him more interesting than
she'd expected. "You said just now you learned to shoot by hunting. I
know a lot of men who hunt, but I've never seen anything like what you
did tonight. Where exactly did you learn that?"

He paused, wondering how much to say. The place, of course, was
Tortuga, and these days that meant the Cow-Killers, men who terrified
the settlers of the Caribbean. But this wasn't a woman he cared to
frighten. He was beginning to like her brass, the way she met his eye.
Maybe, he thought, he'd explain it all to her if he got a chance
someday. But not tonight. The story was too long, too painful, and
ended too badly.

His memories of Tortuga went back to the sultry autumn of 1631. Just a
year before, that little island had been taken over by a group of
English planters--men and women who'd earlier tried growing tobacco up
on St. Christopher, only to run afoul of its Carib Indians and their
poisoned arrows. After looking around for another island, they'd
decided on Tortuga, where nobody lived then except for a few hunters of
wild cattle, the Cow-Killers. Since the hunters themselves spent a
goodly bit of their time across the channel on the big Spanish island
of Hispaniola, Tortuga was all but empty.

But now these planters were living just off the northern coast of a
major Spanish domain, potentially much more dangerous than merely
having a few Indians about. So they petitioned the newly formed
Providence Company in London to swap a shipment of cannon for a tobacco
contract. The Company, recently set up by some Puritan would-be
privateers, happily agreed.

Enter Hugh Winston. He'd just been apprenticed for three months to the
Company by his royalist parents, intended as a temporary disciplining
for some unpleasant reflections he'd voiced on the character of King
Charles that summer after coming home from his first term at Oxford.
Lord Winston and his wife Lady Brett, knowing he despised the Puritans
for their hypocrisy, assumed this would be the ideal means to instill
some royalist sympathies. As it happened, two weeks later the
Providence Company posted this unwelcome son of two prominent
monarchists out to Tortuga on the frigate delivering their shipment of
guns.

No surprise, Governor Hilton of the island's Puritan settlement soon
had little use for him either. After he turned out to show no more
reverence for Puritans than for the monarchy, he was sent over to hunt
on Hispaniola with the Cow-Killers. That's where he had to learn to
shoot if he was to survive. As things turned out, being banished there
probably saved his life.

When the Spaniards got word of this new colony, with Englishmen pouring
in from London and Bristol, the Audiencia of Santo Domingo, the large
Spanish city on Hispaniola's southern side, decided to make an example.
So in January of 1635 they put together an assault force of some two
hundred fifty infantry, sailed into Tortuga's harbor, and staged a
surprise attack. As they boasted afterward, they straightaway put to
the sword all those they first captured, then hanged any others who
straggled in later. By the time they'd finished, they'd burned the
settlement to the ground and killed over six hundred men, women and
children. They also hanged a few of the Cow-Killers--a mistake that
soon changed history.

When Jacques le Basque, the bearded leader of Hispaniola's hunters,
found out what had happened to his men, he vowed he was going to
bankrupt and destroy Spain's New World empire in revenge. From what was
heard these days, he seemed well on his way to succeeding.

Hugh Winston had been there, a founding member of that band of men now
known as the most vicious marauders the world had ever seen. That was
the piece of his life he'd never gotten around to telling anyone. . . .

"I did some hunting when I was apprenticed to an English settlement
here in the Caribbean. Years ago."

"Well, I must say you shoot remarkably well for a tobacco planter,
Captain." She knew he was avoiding her question. Why?

"I thought I'd just explained. I also hunted some in those days." He
took another drink, then sought to shift the topic. "Perhaps now I can
be permitted to ask you a question, Miss Bedford. I'd be interested to
know what you think of the turn things are taking here? That is, in
your official capacity as First Lady of this grand settlement."

"What exactly do you mean?" God damn his supercilious tone.

"The changes ahead. Here on Barbados." He waved his hand. "Will
everybody grow rich, the way they're claiming?"

"Some of the landowners are apt to make a great deal of money, if sugar
prices hold." Why, she wondered, did he want to know? Was he planning
to try and settle down? Or get into the slave trade himself? In truth,
that seemed more in keeping with what he did for a living now.

"Some? And why only some?" He examined her, puzzling. "Every planter
must already own a piece of this suddenly valuable land."

"The Council members and the other big landowners are doubtless
thinking to try and force out the smaller freeholders, who'll not have
a sugarworks and therefore be at their mercy." She began to toy
deliberately with her glass, uncomfortable at the prospect she was
describing. "It's really quite simple, Captain. I'm sure you can grasp
the basic principles of commerce . . . given your line of work."

"No little fortunes? just a few big ones?" Oddly, he refused to be
baited.

"You've got it precisely. But what does that matter to you? You don't
seem to care all that much what happens to our small freeholders."

"If that's true, it's a sentiment I probably share with most of the
people who were at this table tonight." He raised the empty flask of
kill-devil and studied it thoughtfully against the candle. "So if
Briggs and the rest are looking to try and take it all, then I'd say
you're in for a spell of stormy weather here, Miss Bedford."

"Well, their plans are far from being realized, that I promise you. Our
Assembly will stand up to them all the way."

"Then I suppose I should wish you, and your father, and your Assembly
luck. You're going to need it." He flung the empty flask crashing into
the fireplace, rose, and moved down the table. The light seemed to
catch in his scar as he passed the candle. "And now perhaps you'll
favor me with the next dance."

She looked up, startled, as he reached for her hand.

"Captain, I think you ought to know that I'm planning to be married."

"To one of these rich planters, I presume."

"To a gentleman, if you know what that is. And a man who would not take
it kindly if he knew I was seen with you here tonight."

"Oh?"

"Yes. Anthony Walrond."

Winston erupted with laughter. "Well, good for him. He also has superb
taste in flintlock muskets. Please tell him that when next you see
him."

"You mean the ones you stole from his ship that went aground? I don't
expect he would find that comment very amusing."

"Wouldn't he now." Winston's eyes flashed. "Well, damned to him. And if
you want to hear something even less amusing than that, ask him
sometime to tell you why I took those muskets." He reached for her
hand. "At any rate, I'd like to dance with his lovely fiancee."

"I've already told you . . ."

"But it's so seldom a man like me is privileged to meet a true lady."
His smile suddenly turned gracious. "As you were thoughtful enough to
point out only a few moments ago. Why not humor me? I don't suppose
you're his property. You seem a trifle too independent for that."

Anthony would doubtless be infuriated, but she found herself smiling
back. Anyway, how would he ever find out? None of these Puritans even
spoke to him. Besides, what else was there to do? Sit and stare at the
greasy tankards on the table? . . . But what exactly had Hugh Winston
meant about Anthony's muskets?

"Very well. Just one."

"I'm flattered." He was sweeping her through the archway, into the next
room.

The fiddles were just starting a new tune, while the planters and their
wives lined up facing each other, beginning the country dance Flaunting
Two. As couples began to step forward one by one, then whirl down the
room in turns to the music, Katherine found herself joining the end of
the women's line. Moments later Winston bowed to her, heels together,
then spun her down the makeshift corridor between the lines. He turned
her away from him, then back, elegantly, in perfect time with the
fiddle bows.

The dance seemed to go on forever, as bodies smelling of sweat and
kill-devil jostled together in the confinement of the tiny room. Yet it
was invigorating, purging all her misgivings over the struggle that lay
ahead. When she moved her body to her will like this, she felt in
control of everything. As if she were riding, the wind hard against her
cheek. Then, as now, she could forget about Anthony, the Council, about
everything. Why couldn't all of life be managed the same way?

When the dance finally concluded, the fiddlers scarcely paused before
striking up another.

"Just one more?" He was bending over, saying something.

"What?" She looked up at him, not hearing his words above the music and
noise and bustle of the crowd. Whatever it was he'd said, it couldn't
be all that important. She reached for his hand and guided him into the
next dance.

A loud clanging resounded through the room, causing the fiddles to
abruptly halt and startling Katherine, who found herself alarmed less
by the sound than by the deadening return of reality. She looked around
to see Benjamin Briggs standing in the center of the floor, slamming a
large bell with a mallet.

"Attention gentlemen and ladies, if you please." He was shouting, even
though the room had gone silent. "All's ready. The sugarworks start-up
is now. "

There was general applause around the room. He waited till it died
away, then continued, in a more moderate tone.

"I presume the ladies will prefer to retire above stairs rather than
chance the night air. There's feather beds and hammocks ready, and the
servants'll bring the candles and chamber pots."

Winston listened in mock attentiveness, then leaned over toward
Katherine.

"Then I must bid you farewell, Miss Bedford. And lose you to more
worthy companions."

She looked at him dumbly, her blood still pumping from the dance. The
exhilaration and release were the very thing she'd been needing.

"I have no intention of missing the grand start-up." She

tried to catch her breath. "It's to be history in the making, don't you
recall?"

"That it truly will be." He shrugged. "But are you sure the sugar-works
is any place for a woman?"

"As much as a man." She glared back at him. "There's a woman there
already, Captain. Briggs' mulatto. I heard him say she's in the boiling
house tonight, showing one of the new Africans how to heat the sap. She
supposedly ran one once in Brazil."

"Maybe she just told him that to avoid the dance." He turned and
watched the planters begin filing out through the wide rear door.
"Shall we join them, then?"

As they walked out into the courtyard, the cool night air felt
delicious against her face and sweltering bodice. At the back of the
compound Briggs was opening a heavy wooden gate in the middle of the
ten-foot-high stone wall that circled his house.

"These Africans'll make all the difference, on my faith. It's already
plain as can be." He cast a withering glance at Katherine as she and
Winston passed, then he followed them through, ordering the servants to
secure the gate. The planters were assembled in a huddle now,
surrounded by several of Briggs' indentures holding candle-lanterns. He
took up his place at the front of the crowd and began leading them down
the muddy road toward the torch-lit sugarworks lying to the left of the
plantation house.

Along the road were the thatched cabins of the indentured servants, and
beyond these was a cluster of half-finished reed and clay huts,
scarcely head high, that the Africans had begun constructing for
themselves.

"They're sound workers, for all their peculiar ways." Briggs paused and
pointed to a large drum resting in front of one of the larger huts. It
was shaped like an hourglass, and separate goatskins had been stretched
over each mouth and laced together, end to end. "What do you make of
that contrivance? The first thing they did was start making this drum.
And all this morning, before sunup, they were pounding on it. Damnedest
racket this side of hell."

"Aye, mine did the very same," Lancaster volunteered. "I heard them
drumming all over the island."

Briggs walked on. "They gathered 'round that Yoruba called Atiba, who's
shaking some little seashells on a tray and chanting some of their
gabble. After a time he'd say something to one of them and then there'd
be more drumming." He shook his head in amazement. "Idolatry worse'n
the Papists."

"I've a mind to put a stop to it," Whittington interjected. "The
indentures are already complaining."

"It's a bother, I grant you. But I see no harm in their customs, long
as they put in a day's work. The place I drew the line was when they
started trying to bathe in my pond every night, when any Christian
knows baths are a threat to health. But for it all, one of them will
cut more cane than three Irishmen." He cast a contemptuous glance
backward at Timothy Farrell, who was following at a distance, holding
several bottles of kill-devil. "From sunup to sundown. Good workers, to
the man. So if they choose to beat on drums, I say let them. It's
nothing from my pocket."

Katherine watched Winston shake his head in dismay as he paused to pick
up the drum, turning it in his hands.

"You seem troubled about their drumming, Captain. Why's that?"

He looked up at her, almost as though he hadn't heard. "You've never
been to Brazil, have you, Miss Bedford?"

"I have not."

"Then you probably wouldn't believe me, even if I told you." He looked
back at the huts and seemed to be talking to himself. "God damn these
Englishmen. They're fools."

"It's surely some kind of their African music."

"Obviously." His voice had a sarcastic cut, which she didn't
particularly like. But before she could reply to him in kind, he had
set down the drum and moved on, seeming to have forgotten all about
whatever it was that had so distressed him the moment before. Then he
turned back to her. "May I enquire if you yourself play an instrument,
Miss Bedford?"

"I once played the spinet." She reached down and picked up a small land
crab wandering across their path. She examined it, then flung it aside,
its claws flailing. "But I don't bother anymore."

He watched the crab bemusedly, then turned back. "Then you do know
something about music?"

"We're not without some rudiments of education here on Barbados,
Captain."

"And languages? Have you ever listened to these Yoruba talk? Theirs is
a language of tones, you know. Same as their drums."

"Some of these new Africans have a curious-sounding speech, I grant
you."

He stared at her a moment, as though preoccupied. "God help us all."

He might have said more, but then he glanced after the crowd, now
moving down the road. Ahead of them a gang of blacks could be seen
through the torchlight, carrying bundles of cane in from the field and
stacking them in piles near the new mill, situated atop a slight rise.
A group of white indentured workers was also moving cane toward the
mill from somewhere beyond the range of the torchlight, whipping
forward a team of oxen pulling a large two-wheeled cart stacked with
bundles. She noticed Winston seemed in no great hurry, and instead
appeared to be listening absently to the planters.

"Would you believe this is the very same cane we brought from Brazil?"
Briggs was pointing toward a half-cut field adjacent to the road. "I
planted October a year ago, just before the autumn rains. It's been
sixteen months almost to the day, just like the Dutchmen said." He
turned back to the crowd of planters. "The indentures weeded and dunged
it, but I figured the Africans would be best for cutting it, and I was
right. Born field workers. They'll be a godsend if they can be trained
to run the sugarworks." He lowered his voice. "This is the last we'll
need of these idling white indentures."

They were now approaching the mill, which was situated inside a new
thatched-roof building. Intended for crushing the cane and extracting
the juice, it would be powered by two large white oxen shipped down
specially from Rhode Island.

The mill was a mechanism of three vertical brass rollers, each
approximately a foot in diameter, that were cogged together with teeth
around their top and bottom. A large round beam was secured through the
middle of the central roller and attached to two long sweeps that
extended outward to a circular pathway intended for the draft animals.
When the sweeps were moved, the beam would rotate and with it the
rollers.

"We just finished installing the rollers tonight. There was no chance
to test it. But I explained the operation to the indentures. We'll see
if they can remember."

An ox had been harnessed to each of the two sweeps; as Briggs
approached he signaled the servants to whip them forward. The men
nodded and lashed out at the animals, who snorted, tossed their heads,
then began to trudge in a circular path around the mill. Immediately
the central roller began to turn, rotating the outer rollers against it
by way of its cogs. As the rollers groaned into movement, several of
the indentures backed away and studied them nervously.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Briggs yelled at the two men standing
nearest the mill, holding the first bundles of cane. "Go ahead and try
feeding it through."

One of the men moved gingerly toward the grinding rollers and reached
out, at arm's length, to feed a small bundle consisting of a half dozen
stalks of cane into the side rotating away from him. There was a loud
crackle as the bundle began to gradually disappear between the rollers.
As the crushed cane stalks emerged on the rear side of the mill, a
second indenture seized the flattened bundle and fed it back through
the pair of rollers turning in the opposite direction. In moments a
trickle of pale sap began sliding down the sides of the rollers and
dripping into a narrow trough that led through the wall and down the
incline toward the boiling house.

Briggs walked over to the trough and examined the running sap in
silence. Then he dipped in a finger and took it to his lips. He savored
it for a moment, looked up, triumph in his eyes, and motioned the other
men forward.

"Have a taste. It's the sweetest nectar there could ever be." As the
planters gathered around the trough sampling the first cane juice,
indentures continued feeding a steady progression of cane bundles
between the rollers. While the planters stood watching, the trough
began to flow.

"It works, by Christ." Marlott emitted a whoop and dipped in for a
second taste. "The first English sugar mill in all the world."

"We've just witnessed that grand historic moment, Miss Bedford."
Winston turned back to her, his voice sardonic. "In a little more time,
these wonderful sugarmills will probably cover Barbados. Together with
the slaves needed to cut the cane for them. I'd wager that in a few
years' time there'll be more Africans here than English. What we've
just witnessed is not the beginning of the great English Caribbees, but
the first step toward what'll one day be the great African Caribbees. I
suggest we take time to savor it well."

His voice was drowned in the cheer rising up from the cluster of
planters around Briggs. They had moved on down the incline now and were
standing next to the boiling house, watching as the sap began to
collect in a tank. Briggs scrutinized the tank a moment longer, then
turned to the group. "This is where the sap's tempered with wet ashes
just before it's boiled. That's how the Portugals do it. From here it
runs through that trough,"--he indicated a second flow, now starting--
"directly into the first kettle in the boiling house." He paused and
gestured Farrell to bring the flasks forward. "I propose we take time
to fortify ourselves against the heat before going in."

"Shall we proceed?" Winston was pointing down the hill. Then he
laughed. "Or would you like some liquor first?"

"Please." She pushed past him and headed down the incline. They reached
the door of the boiling house well before the planters, who were
lingering at the tank, passing the flask. Winston ducked his head at
the doorway and they passed through a wide archway and into a thatched-
roof enclosure containing a long, waist-high furnace of Dutch brick. In
the back, visible only from the light of the open furnace door, were
two figures: Briggs' new Yoruba slave Atiba and his Portuguese
mistress, Serina.

Katherine, who had almost forgotten how beautiful the mulatto was,
found herself slightly relieved that Serina was dressed in perfect
modesty. She wore a full-length white shift, against which her flawless
olive skin fairly glowed in the torchlight. As they entered, she was
speaking animatedly with Atiba while bending over to demonstrate how to
feed dry cane tops into the small openings along the side of the
furnace. When she spotted them, however, she pulled suddenly erect and
fell silent, halting in mid-sentence.

The heat in the room momentarily took away Katherine's breath, causing
her to stand in startled disorientation. It was only then that she
realized Hugh Winston was pulling at her sleeve. Something in the scene
apparently had taken him completely by surprise.

Then she realized what it was. Serina had been speaking to the tall,
loincloth-clad Yoruba in an alien language that sounded almost like a
blend of musical tones and stops.

Now the planters began barging through the opening, congratulating
Briggs as they clustered around the string of copper cauldrons cemented
into the top of the long furnace. Then, as the crowd watched
expectantly, a trickle of cane sap flowed down from the holding tank
and spattered into the first red-hot cauldron.

The men erupted with a cheer and whipped their hats into the air. Again
the brown flask of kill-devil was passed appreciatively. After taking a
long swallow, Briggs turned to Serina, gesturing toward Atiba as he
addressed her in pidgin Portuguese, intended to add an international
flavor to the evening.

"_Ele compreendo _?"

"_Sim. Compreendo_." She nodded, reached for a ladle, and began to
skim the first gathering of froth off the top of the boiling liquid.
Then she dumped the foam into a clay pot beside the furnace.

"She's supposed to know how fast to feed the furnaces to keep the
temperature right. And when to ladle the liquor into the next cauldron
down the row." He stepped back from the furnace, fanning himself with
his hat, and turned to the men. "According to the way the Portugals do
it in Brazil, the clarified liquor from the last cauldron in the line
here is moved to a cistern to cool for a time, then it's filled into
wooden pots and moved to the curing house."

"Is that ready too?" A husky voice came from somewhere in the crowd.

"Aye, and I've already had enough pots made to get started. We let the
molasses drain out and the sugar cure for three or four months, then we
move the pots to the knocking house, where we turn them over and tap
out a block of sugar. The top and bottom are brown sugar, what the
Portugals call _muscavado_, and the center is pure white." He reached
again for the bottle and took a deep swallow. "Twenty pence a pound in
London, when our tobacco used to clear three farthings."

"To be sure, the mill and the boiling house are the key. We'll have to
start building these all over the island." Thomas Lancaster removed his
black hat to wipe his brow, then pulled it firmly back on his head.
"And start training the Africans in their operation. No white man could
stand this heat."

"She should have this one trained in a day or so." Briggs

thumbed toward Atiba, now standing opposite the door examining the
planters. "Then we can have him train more."

"I'll venture you'd do well to watch that one particularly close."
Edward Bayes lowered his voice, speaking into his beard. "There's a
look about him."

"Aye, he's cantankerous, I'll grant you, but he's quick. He just needs
to be tamed. I've already had to flog him once, ten lashes, the first
night here, when he balked at eating loblolly mush."

"Ten, you say?" Dalby Bedford did not bother to disguise the
astonishment in his voice. "Would you not have done better to start
with five?"

"Are you lecturing me now on how to best break in my Africans?" Briggs
glared. "I paid for them, sir. They're my property, to manage as I best
see fit."

Nicholas Whittington murmured his assent, and others concurred.

"As you say, gentlemen. But you've got three more Dutch slavers due
within a fortnight. I understand they're supposed to be shipping
Barbados a full three thousand this year alone." Bedford looked about
the room with a concerned expression. "That'll be just a start, if
sugar production expands the way it seems it will. It might be well if
we had the Assembly pass Acts for ordering and governing these slaves."

"Damn your Assembly. We already have laws for property on Barbados."

Again the other planters voiced their agreement. Bedford stood
listening, then lifted his hand for quiet. Katherine found herself
wishing he would be as blunt with them as Winston had been. Sometimes
the governor's good manners got in the way, something that hardly
seemed to trouble Hugh Winston.

"I tell you this is no light matter. No man in this room knows how to
manage all these Africans. What Englishman has ever been responsible
for twenty, thirty, nay perhaps even a hundred slaves? They've to be
clothed in some manner, fed, paired for offspring. And religion, sir?
Some of the Quakers we've let settle in Bridgetown are already starting
to say your blacks should be baptized and taught Christianity."

"You can't be suggesting it? If we let them be made Christians, where
would it end?" Briggs examined him in disbelief. "You'd have laws, sir,
Acts of your Assembly. Well there's the place to start. I hold the
first law should be to fine and set in the stocks any of these so-
called Quakers caught trying to teach our blacks Christianity. We'll
not stand for it."

Katherine saw Serina's features tense and her eyes harden, but she said
nothing, merely continued to skim the foam from the boiling surface of
the cauldron.

"The Spaniards and Portugals teach the Catholic faith to their
Negroes," Bedford continued evenly.

"And there you have the difference. They're not English. They're
Papists." Briggs paused as he studied the flow of cane sap entering the
cauldron from the holding tank, still dripping slowly from the lead
spout. "By the looks of it, it could be flowing faster." He studied it
a moment longer, then turned toward the door. "The mill. Maybe that's
the answer. What if we doubled the size of the cane bundles?"

Katherine watched the planters trail after Briggs, out the doorway and
into the night, still passing the flask of kill-devil.

"What do you think, Captain? Should an African be made a Christian?"

"Theology's not my specialty, Miss Bedford." He walked past her. "Tell
me first if you think a Puritan's one." He was moving toward Serina,
who stood silently skimming the top of the first cauldron, now a
vigorous boil. She glanced up once and examined him, then returned her
eyes to the froth. Katherine just managed to catch a few words as he
began speaking to her quietly in fluent Portuguese, as though to guard
against any of the planters accidentally overhearing.

"Senhora, how is it you know the language of the Africans?"

She looked up for a moment without speaking, her eyes disdainful. "I'm
a slave too, as you well know, senhor." Then she turned and continued
with the ladle.

"But you're a Portugal."

"And never forget that. I am not one of these _preto_." She spat out
the Portuguese word for Negro.

Atiba continued methodically shoving cane tops into the roaring mouth
of the furnace.

"But you were speaking to him just now in his own language. I
recognized it."

"He asked a question, and I answered him, that's all."

"Then you do know his language? How?"

"I know many things." She fixed his eyes, continuing in Portuguese.
"Perhaps it surprises you Ingles that a _mulata _can speak at all. I
also know how to read, something half the _branco _rubbish who were in
this room tonight probably cannot do."

Katherine knew only a smattering of Portuguese, but she caught the part
about some of the _branco_, the whites, not being able to read. She
smiled to think there was probably much truth in that. Certainly almost
none of the white indentures could. Further, she suspected that many of
the planters had never bothered to learn either.

"I know you were educated in Brazil." Winston was pressing Serina
relentlessly. "I was trying to ask you how you know the language of
this African?"

She paused, her face a blend of haughtiness and regret. She started to
speak, then stopped herself.

"Won't you tell me?"

She turned back, as though speaking to the cauldron. "My mother was
Yoruba."

"Is that how you learned?" His voice was skeptical.

"I was taught also by a _babalawo_, a Yoruba priest, in Brazil."

"What's she saying?" Katherine moved next to him, shielding her eyes
from the heat.

"_Desculpe_, senhora, excuse me." Winston quickly moved forward,
continuing in Portuguese as he motioned toward Katherine. "This is . .
."

"I know perfectly well who Miss Bedford is." Serina interrupted him,
still in Portuguese.

Katherine stared at her, not catching the foreign words. "Is she
talking about me?"

"She said her mother was a Yoruba." Winston moved between them. "And
she said something about a priest."

"Is she some sort of priest? Is that what she said?"

"No." Serina's English answer was quick and curt, then she said
something else to Winston, in Portuguese.

"She said she was not, though the women of her mother's family have
practiced divination for many generations."

"Divination?" Katherine studied him, puzzled. Then she turned back to
Serina,"What do you mean by that?"

Serina was looking at her now, for the first time. "Divination is the
way the Yoruba people ask their gods to tell the future."

"How exactly do they go about doing such a thing?"

"Many ways." She turned back to the cauldron.

Winston stood in the silence for a moment, then turned to Katherine. "I
think one of the ways is with shells. In Brazil I once saw a Yoruba
diviner shaking a tray with small sea-shells in it."

Serina glanced back, now speaking English. "I see you are an Ingles who
bothers to try and understand other peoples. One of the few I've ever
met. _Felicitacao_, senhor, my compliments. Yes, that is one of the
ways, and the most sacred to a Yoruba. It's called the divination of
the sixteen cowrie shells. A Yoruba diviner foretells the will of the
gods from how the shells lie in a tray after it has been shaken--by how
many lie with the slotted side up. It's the way the gods talk to him."

"Who are these gods they speak to?" Katherine found herself challenged
by the mulatto's haughtiness.

Serina continued to stir the cauldron. "You'd not know them, senhora."

"But I would be pleased to hear of them." Katherine's voice was sharp,
but then she caught herself and softened it. "Are they something like
the Christian God?"

Serina paused, examining Katherine for a moment, and then her eyes
assumed a distant expression. "I do not know much about them. I know
there is one god like the Christian God. He is the high god, who never
shows his powers on earth. But there are many other gods who do. The
one the Yoruba call on most is Shango, the god of thunder and
lightning, and of fire. His symbol is the double-headed axe. There also
is Ogun, who is the god of iron." She hesitated. "And the god of war."

Katherine studied her. "Do you believe in all these African deities
yourself?"

"Who can say what's really true, senhora?" Her smooth skin glistened
from the heat. She brushed the hair from her eyes in a graceful motion,
as though she were in a drawing room, while her voice retreated again
into formality. "The Yoruba even believe that many different things can
be true at once. Something no European can ever understand."

"There's something you may not understand, senhora," Winston
interjected, speaking now in English. "And I think you well should. The
Yoruba in this room also knows the language of the Portugals. Take care
what you say."

"It's not possible." She glanced at Atiba contemptuously, continuing
loudly in Portuguese. "He's a saltwater _preto_. "

Before Winston could respond, there was an eruption of shouts and
curses from the direction of the mill. They all turned to watch as
Benjamin Briggs shoved through the doorway, pointing at Atiba.

"Get that one out here. I warrant he can make them understand." The
sweltering room seemed frozen in time, except for Briggs, now motioning
at Serina. "Tell him to come out here." He revolved to Winston. "I've a
mind to flog all of them."

"What's wrong?"

"The damned mill. I doubled the size of the bundles, the very thing I
should've done in the first place, but now the oxen can't turn it
properly. I want to try hooking both oxen to one of the sweeps and a
pair of Africans on the other. I've harnessed them up, but I can't get
them to move." He motioned again for Atiba to accompany him. "This
one's got more wit than all the rest together. Maybe I can show him
what I want."

Serina gestured toward Atiba, who followed Briggs out the door, into
the fresh night air. Katherine stared after him for a moment, then
turned back. Winston was speaking to Serina again in Portuguese, but
too rapidly to follow.

"Will you tell me one thing more?"

"As you wish, senhor." She did not look up from the cauldron.

"What was going on last night? With the drums?"

She hesitated slightly. "I don't know what you mean."

Winston was towering over her now. "I think you know very well what I
mean, senhora. Now tell me, damn it. What were they saying?"

She seemed not to hear him. Through the silence that filled the room,
there suddenly came a burst of shouts from the direction of the mill.

Katherine felt fear sweep over her, and she found herself seizing
Winston's arm, pulling him toward the doorway. Outside, the planters
were milling about in confusion, vague shadows against the torchlight.
Then she realized Atiba was trying to wrench off the harness from the
necks of the two blacks tied to the sweeps of the mill, while yelling
at Briggs in his African language.

She gripped Winston's arm tighter as she watched William Marlott,
brandishing a heavy-bladed cane machete, move on Atiba. Then several
other planters leapt out of the shadows,

grabbed his powerful shoulders, and wrestled him to the ground.

"You'd best flog him here and now." Marlott looked up, sweat running
down his face. "It'll be a proper lesson to all the rest."

Briggs nodded toward several of the white indentures and in moments a
rope was lashed to Atiba's wrists. Then he was yanked against the mill,
his face between the wet rollers. One of the indentures brought forward
a braided leather horsewhip.

Katherine turned her face away, back toward the boiling house, not
wanting to see.

Serina was standing in the doorway now, staring out blankly, a
shimmering moistness in her eyes.



Chapter Four


For almost a month now, any night he could manage, Atiba had slipped
unseen from the compound and explored the southern coast of the island,
the shore and the upland hills. Now he was sure they could survive
after the island became theirs. The _branco_, the white English, were
savages, who destroyed all they touched, but there were still traces of
what once had been. Between the fields of sterile cane he had found and
tasted the fruits of the sacred earth.

There were groves of wild figs, their dark fruit luscious and
astringent, and plump coconuts, their tender core as rich as any in
Yorubaland. Along the shore were stands of sea-grape trees, with a
sweet purple fruit biting to the tongue. He had also found palm-like
trees clustered with the tender papaya, and farther inland there were
groves of banana and plantain. He had discovered other trees with large
oranges, plump with yellow nectar, as well as pomegranates and tamarind
just like those he had known in Ife, his home city. The soil itself
gave forth moist melons, wild cucumbers, and the red apples of the
prickly cactus. There also were calabash, the hard, round gourds the
Ingles had already learned could be hollowed out for cups and basins.
The only thing wanting was that staple of the Yoruba people, the yam.

But they would not have to survive from the soil alone. In the

thickets he had heard the grunts and squeals of the wild hogs, fat sows
foraging nuts, leading their litters. Along the shore he had seen
flocks of feeding egrets in the dawn light, ready to be snared and
roasted, and at his feet there had been hundreds of land crabs, night
prowlers as big as two hands, ripe for boiling as they scurried back to
their sand burrows along the shore.

He could not understand why the _branco _slaves who worked alongside
the Yoruba allowed themselves to be fed on boiled corn mush. A natural
bounty lay within arm's reach.

The Orisa, those forces in nature that work closest with man, were
still present on the island. He could sense them, waiting in the wood
of the trees. This ravished place had once been a great forest, like
the one north of Ife, and it could be again. If the hand of the Ingles
was taken from it, and the spirit of the Orisa, its rightful
protectors, freed once more.

The first cooing of the wood dove sounded through the thatched hut,
above the chorus of whistling frogs from the pond, signaling the
approach of day. Atiba sat motionless in the graying light,
crosslegged, at the edge of the mud seat nearest the door, and studied
the sixteen cowrie shells as they spun across the reed tray that lay
before him. As he watched, eight of the small ovals came to rest mouth
up, in a wide crescent, the remainder facing down.

The tiny room was crowded with the men of the Yoruba, their cotton
loincloths already drenched with sweat from the early heat. Now all
eyes narrowed in apprehension, waiting for this _babalawo_, the priest
of the Yoruba, to speak and interpret the verses that revealed the
message in the cowries.



_Bi a ko jiya ti o kun agbon

_If we do not bear suffering that will fill a basket,

_A ko le jore to kun inu aha

_We will not receive kindness that will fill a cup.



He paused and signaled the tall, bearded drummer waiting by the door.
The man's name was Obewole, and he had once been, many rains ago, the
strongest drummer in the entire city of Ife. He nodded and shifted the
large drum--the Yoruba _iya ilu_--that hung at his waist, suspended
from a wide shoulder strap. Abruptly the small wooden mallet he held
began to dance across the taut goatskin. The verses Atiba had just
spoken were repeated exactly, the drum's tone changing in pitch and
timbre as Obewole squeezed the cords down its hourglass waist between
his arm and his side. Moments later there came the sound of more drums
along the length of the southern coast, transmitting his verses inland.
In less than a minute all the Yoruba on Barbados had heard their
_babalawo's _exact words.

Then he said something more and shook the tray again. This time five
cowries lay open, set as a star. Again he spoke, his eyes far away.



_A se'gi oko ma we oko

_The tree that swims like a canoe,

_A s'agada ja'ri erin

_The sword that will cut iron.



Once more the drum sent the words over the morning quiet of the island.

Atiba waited a few moments longer, then slowly looked up and surveyed
the expectant faces around him. The shells had spoken, true enough, but
the message of the gods was perplexing. Seemingly Shango had counseled
endurance, while Ogun foretold war.

He alone was priest, and he alone could interpret this contradictory
reading. He knew in his heart what the gods wanted, what they surely
must want. Still, the realization brought painful memories. He knew too
well what war would mean. He had seen it many times--the flash of
mirrored steel in the sunlight, the blood of other men on your hands,
the deaths of wise fathers and strong sons.

The worst had been when he and his warriors had stood shoulder to
shoulder defending the ancient royal compound at Ife with their lives,
when the Fulani from the north had breached the high walls of the city
and approached the very entrance of the ruling Oba's palace, those huge
sculptured doors guarded by the two sacred bronze leopards. That day he
and his men had lost more strong warriors than there were women to
mourn them, but by nightfall they had driven out the worshippers of
other gods who would take their lands, pillage their compounds, carry
away their seed-yams and their youngest wives.

He also knew there could be betrayal. He had seen it during the last
season of rains, when the drums had brought news of strangers in the
southeastern quarter of the world that was Yorubaland. He and his men
had left their compounds and marched all day through the rain. That
night, among the trees, they had been fallen upon by Benin slavers, men
of black skin who served the _branco _as a woman serves the payer of
her bride-price.

But the men of the Yoruba would never be made to serve. Their gods were
too powerful, their ancestors too proud. The Yoruba were destined to
rule. Just as they had governed Yorubaland for a thousand years. Theirs
was an ancient and noble people, nothing like the half-civilized Ingles
on this island. In the great metropolis of Ife, surrounded by miles of
massive concentric walls, the Yoruba had lived for generations in wide
family compounds built of white clay, their courtyards open to light
and air, walking streets paved with brick and stone, wearing
embroidered robes woven of finest cotton, sculpting lost-wax bronzes
whose artistry no Ingles could even imagine. They did not swelter in
patched-together log huts like the Ingles planters here, or in thatched
hovels like the Ingles planters' servants. And they paid reverence to
gods whose power was far greater than any _branco_ had ever seen.

"The sky has no shadow. It reaches out in all directions to the edge of
the world. In it are the sun, the moon, all that is." He paused,
waiting for the drums, then continued. "I have gone out into the dark,
the void that is night, and I have returned unharmed. I say the Orisa
are here, strong. We must make war on the branco to free them once
more." He paused again. "No man's day of death can be postponed. It is
already known to all the gods. There is nothing we need fear."

After the drums had sent his words across the island, the hut fell
quiet. Then there came a voice from a small, wizened man sitting on
Atiba's left, a Yoruba older than the rest, with sweat pouring down the
wrinkles of his long dark face.

"You are of royal blood, Atiba. Your father Balogun was one of the
sixteen royal _babalawo _of the Oba of Ife, one of the great Awoni. It
was he who taught you his skills." He cleared his throat, signifying
his importance. "Yet I say you now speak as one who has drunk too many
horns of palm wine. We are only men. Ogun will not come forth to carry
our shields."

"Old Tahajo, you who are the oldest and wisest here tonight, you know
full well I am but a man." Atiba paused, to demonstrate deference. He
was chagrined that this elder who now honored his hut had to sit
directly on the mud seat, that there was no buffalo skin to take down
off the wall for him as there would have been in a compound at Ife.
"Though the gods allow me to read their words in the cowries, I still
eat the food a woman cooks."

"I know you are a man, son of Balogun, and the finest ever sired in
Ife. I knew you even before you grew of age, before you were old enough
to tie a cloth between your legs. I was there the day your clan marks
were cut in your cheek, those three proud lines that mark you the son
of your father. Be his son now, but speak to us today as a man, not as
_babalawo_. Let us hear your own voice."

Atiba nodded and set aside the tray. Then he turned back to the drummer
and reached for his gleaming machete. "Since Tahajo wishes it, we will
wait for another time to consult more with Ogun and Shango. Now I will
hold a sword and speak simply, as a man."

Obewole nodded and picked up the mallet.

"This island was once ruled by the Orisa of the forest. But now there
is only cane. Its sweetness is bitter in the mouths of the gods, for it
has stolen their home. I say we must destroy it. To do this we will
call down the fire of lightning that Shango guards in the sky."

"How can we call down Shango's fire?" The old man spoke again. None of
the others in the cramped hut dared question Atiba so boldly. "No man
here is consecrated to Shango. We are all warriors, men of Ogun. His
power is only over the earth, not the skies."

"I believe there is one on this island whose lineage is Shango. A
woman. Perhaps she no longer even knows it. But through her we will
reach him." He turned and signaled Obewole to ready the drum. "Now I
will speak. Hear me. Shango's spirit is here, on this island. He will
help us take away the strength of the Ingles." He paused for the drums,
then continued, "I learned on the ship that before the next new moon
there will be many more of us here. The other warriors who were
betrayed by the Benin traitors will be with us again. Then we will take
out the fire of Shango that the Ingles hold prisoner in the boiling
house and release it in the night, among the fields of cane. We will
burn the compounds of the Ingles and take their muskets. Then we will
free the white slaves. They are too craven to free themselves, but they
will not stand with their _branco _masters."

He turned again to Obewole and nodded. "Send the words."



Winston shifted uneasily in his sleep, then bolted upright, rubbing the
slight ache of his scar as he became aware of the

distant spatter of drums. They were sporadic, but intense. Patterns
were being repeated again and again all down the coast.

He slipped from the bed and moved quietly to the slatted window, to
listen more closely. But now the drums had fallen silent. The only
sounds left in the sweltering predawn air were the cooing of wood doves
and the harsh "quark" of egrets down by the bridge, accompanied by
Joan's easy snores. He looked back and studied her face again,
realizing that time was beginning to take its toll. He also knew he
didn't care, though he figured she did, mightily.

She'd never concede he could take Jamaica. Maybe she was right. But
odds be damned. It was time to make a stand.

Jamaica. He thought about it again, his excitement swelling. Enough
cannon, and the Spaniards could never retake it, never even get a
warship into the harbor. It was perfect. A place of freedom that would
strike a blow against forced labor throughout the New World.

Not a minute too soon either. The future was clear as day. The English
settlers in the Caribbees were about to install what had to be the most
absolute system of human slavery ever seen. Admittedly, finding
sufficient men and women to work the fields had always been the biggest
impediment to developing the virgin lands of the Americas, especially
for settlements that wanted to grow money crops for export. But now
Barbados had discovered Africans. What next? If slavery proved it could
work for sugar in the Caribbees, then it probably would also be
instituted for cotton and tobacco in Virginia. Agricultural slavery had
started here, but soon it would doubtless be introduced wholesale into
North America.

Christians, perpetrating the most unspeakable crime against humanity
possible. Who knew what it would someday lead to?

He no longer asked himself why he detested slavery so much, but there
was a reason, if he'd wanted to think about it. A man was a man. Seeing
Briggs horsewhip his Yoruba was too similar to watching Ruyters flog
his seamen. He had tasted the cat-o'-nine-tails himself more than once.
In fact, whipping the Yoruba was almost worse, since a seaman could
always jump ship at the next port. But a slave, especially on a small
island like Barbados, had nowhere to go. No escape.

Not yet. But come the day Jamaica was his . . .

"Are you all right, love?" Joan had awakened and was watching him.

"I was listening to the drums. And thinking." He did not turn.

"Those damned drums. Every morning. Why don't the planters put a halt
to it?" She raised up and swabbed her face with the rough cotton sheet.
"God curse this heat."

"I'm tired of all of it. Particularly slavery."

"I fancy these Africans are not your worry. You'd best be rethinking
this daft scheme of yours with the indentures."

"That's on schedule. The Council agreed to the terms, drew up a list of
men, and I picked the ones I wanted."

"What're you thinkin' to do about ordnance?" Skepticism permeated her
groggy voice.

"I've got a batch of new flintlocks on the _Defiance_. Generously
supplied to me by Anthony Walrond's trading company." He laughed. "In
grateful appreciation for helping out that frigate of theirs that went
aground up by Nevis Island."

"I heard about that. I also hear he'd like those muskets back."

"He can see me in hell about that." He was strolling back toward the
bed, nude in the early light. She admired the hard ripple of his chest,
the long, muscular legs. "Also, I've got the boys at work making some
half-pikes. We've set up a forge down by the bay."

"And what, pray, are you expectin' to use for pikestaffs?"

"We're having to cut palm stalks." He caught her look. "I know. But
what can I do? There's no cured wood to be had on this short a notice."

"Lo, what an army you'll have." She laughed wryly. "Do you really think
all those indentures will fight?"

"For their freedom, yes." He settled onto the bed. "That's what I'm
counting on."

"Well, you're counting wrong, love. Most of them don't care a damn for
anything, except maybe drinkin' in the shade. Believe me, I know them."

"I'll give them something to fight for. It won't be like here, where
they're worked to death, then turned out to starve."

"I could tell you a few stories about human nature that might serve to
enlighten you." She stretched back and pulled up her shift to rub a
mosquito bite on her thigh. "If it was me, I'd be trying to get hold of
some of these Africans. From the scars I've seen on a few of them, I'd
say they've done their share of fighting. On my faith, they scare the
wits half out of me."

"They make me uneasy too."

"How do you mean, darlin'?"

"All these drums we've been hearing. I found out in Brazil the Yoruba
there can talk somehow with a special kind of drum they've got, one
that looks like a big hourglass. I figure those here can do it too,
only nobody realizes it. Let me tell you, Joan, there was plenty of
Yoruba talk this morning. So far, the Africans here are considerably
outnumbered, but if they start a revolt, the indentures might decide to
rise up too. Then . . ."

"Some indentures here tried a little uprising once, a couple of years
back. And about a dozen got hanged for their pains. I don't fancy
they'll try it again soon."

"Don't be so sure. Remember how the Irish indentures went over to the
Spaniards that time they attacked the English settlement up on Nevis
Island? They swam out to the Spaniards' frigates, hailed them as fellow
Papists, and then told them exactly where all the fortifications were."

"But how many of these Africans are there here now? Probably not all
that many."

"Maybe not yet. With the Dutch slavers that've come so far, I'd guess
there're no more than a couple of thousand or so. But there're more
slave ships coming every week. Who knows what'll happen when there're
three or four thousand, or more?"

"It'll not happen soon. How can it?" She slipped her arms around his
neck and drew him down next to her. "Let's talk about something else.
Tell me how you plan to take Jamaica. God's life, I still don't know
why you'd want to try doing it at all."

"You're just afraid I can't do it." He turned and kissed her, then
pulled down the top of her shift and nipped at one of her exposed
breasts. "Tell me the truth."

"Maybe I will someday. If you get back alive." She took his face in her
hands and lifted it away. "By the bye, I hear you had a fine time at
the ball. Dancin' with that jade."

"Who?"

"You know who, you whoremaster. The high and mighty Miss Bedford."

"I'd had a bit to drink. I don't precisely recall what all happened."

"Don't you now? Well, some of the Council recall that evening well
enough, you can be sure. You weren't too drunk to scare the wits out of
them with those Spanish pistols. It's the talk of the island." She
watched as he returned his mouth to her breast and began to tease the
nipple with his tongue. "Now listen to me. That little virgin's no good
for you. For one thing, I hear she's supposed to be marryin' our
leading royalist, Sir Anthony, though I swear I don't know what he sees
in her. She's probably happier ridin' her horse than being with a man.
I warrant she'd probably as soon be a man herself."

"I don't want to hear any more about Miss Bedford." He

slipped an arm beneath her and drew her up next to him. "I've got
something else in mind."

She trailed her hand down his chest to his groin. Then she smiled. "My,
but that's promisin'."

"There's always apt to be room for improvement. If you set your mind to
it."

"God knows, I've spoiled you." She leaned over and kissed his thigh,
then began to tease him with her tongue. Without a word he shifted
around and brushed the stubble of his cheeks against her loins. She was
already moist, from sweat and desire.

"God, that's why I always let you come back." She moved against him
with a tiny shudder. "When by rights I should know better. Sometimes I
think I taught you too well what pleases me."

"I know something else you like even better." He seized a plump down
pillow and stationed it in the middle of the bed, then started to reach
for her. She was assessing her handiwork admiringly. He was ready, the
way she wanted him.

"Could be." She drew herself above him. "But you can't always be havin'
everything your own way. You've got me feelin' too randy this mornin'.
So now I'm going to show you why your frustrated virgin, Miss Bedford,
fancies ridin' that horse of hers so much."



Serina was already awake before the drums started. Listening intently
to catch the soft cadence of the verses, she repeated them silently,
knowing they meant the cowrie shells had been cast.

It was madness.

Benjamin Briggs sometimes called her to his room in the mornings, but
she knew there would be no call today. He had ordered her from his bed
just after midnight, drunk and cursing about a delay at the sugar mill.

Who had cast the cowries? Was it the tall, strong one named Atiba?
Could it be he was also a Yoruba _babalawo_?

She had heard the verses for the cowries once before, years ago in
Brazil. There were thousands, which her mother had recited for her all
in one week, the entire canon. Even now she still remembered some of
them, just a few. Her mother had never admitted to anybody else she
knew the verses, since women weren't supposed to cast the cowries. The
men of the Yoruba always claimed the powers of the cowries were too
great for any save a true _babalawo_, and no woman would ever be
permitted to be that. Women were only allowed to consult the gods by
casting the four quarters of the kola nut, which only foretold daily
matters. Important affairs of state were reserved for the cowries, and
for men. But her mother had secretly learned the verses; she'd never
said how. She'd even promised to explain them one day, but that day
never came.

When she was sure the drums had finished, she rose slowly from the
sweltering pallet that served as her bed and searched the floor in the
half-dark till she felt the smooth cotton of her shift. She slipped it
on, then began brushing her long gleaming hair, proud even now that it
had always been straight, like a Portuguese _donna's_.

She slept alone in a small room next to the second-floor landing of the
back stairway, the one by the kitchen that was used by servants. When
she had finished with her hair and swirled it into a high bun,
Portuguese style, she slowly pushed open the slatted jalousies to study
the clutter of the compound. As always, she found herself comparing
this haphazard English house to the mansion she had known in Brazil, on
the large plantation outside Pernambuco.

Now it seemed a memory from another world, that dazzling white room she
had shared with her mother in the servants' compound. The day the
senhor de engenho, the master of the plantation, announced that she
would go to the black-robed Jesuits' school, instead of being put to
work in the fields like most of the other slave children, her mother
had begun to cry. For years she had thought they were tears of joy.
Then the next day her mother had started work on their room. She had
whitewashed the walls, smeared a fresh layer of hard clay on the floor,
then planted a small frangipani tree by the window. During the night
its tiny red blossoms would flood their room with a sweet, almost
cloying fragrance, so they woke every morning to a day bathed in
perfume. Years later her mother had confessed the beautiful room and
the perfume of the tree were intended to always make her want to return
there from the foul rooms of the _branco _and their priests.

She remembered those early years best. Her mother would rise before
dawn, then wake the old, gnarled Ashanti slave who was the cook for the
household, ordering the breakfast the senhor had specified the night
before. Then she would walk quietly down to the slave quarters to waken
the gang driver, who would rouse the rest of the plantation with his
bell. Next she would return to their room and brush her beautiful
_mulata _daughter's hair, to keep it always straight and shining, in
preparation for the trip to the mission school the priests had built
two miles down the road.

Serina still recalled the barefoot walk down that long, tree-lined
roadway, and her mother's command, repeated every morning, to never let
the sun touch her light skin. Later she would wander slowly back
through the searing midday heat, puzzling over the new language called
Spanish she was learning, and the strange teachings of the Christians.
The priests had taught her to read from the catechism, and to write out
the stories they told of the Catholic saints--stories her mother
demanded she repeat to her each night. She would then declare them
lies, and threaten her with a dose of the purgative physic-nut to expel
their poisons.

Her mother would sometimes stroke her soft skin and explain that the
Christians' false God must have been copied from Olorun, the Yoruba
high god and deity of the cosmos. It was well known he was the
universal spirit who had created the world, the only god who had never
lived on earth. Perhaps the Christians had somehow heard of him and
hoped to steal him for their own. He was so powerful that the other
gods were all his children--Shango, Ogun, all the Yoruba deities of the
earth and rivers and sky. The Yoruba priests had never been known to
mention a white god called Jesu.

But she had learned many things from Jesu's priests. The most important
was that she was a slave. Owned by the senhor de engenho. She was his
property, as much as his oxen and his fields of cane. That was the true
lesson of the priests. A lesson she had never forgotten.

These new saltwater Yoruba were fools. Their life and soul belonged to
the _branco _now. And only the _branco _could give it back. You could
never take it back yourself. There was nothing you could do to make
your life your own again.

She recalled a proverb of the Ashanti people. "A slave does not choose
his master."

A slave chose nothing.

She found herself thinking again of her mother. She was called Dara,
the Yoruba name meaning "beautiful." And she was beautiful, beyond
words, with soft eyes and delicate skin and high cheekbones. Her mother
Dara had told her how she had been taken to the bed of her Portuguese
owner after only a week in Brazil. He was the _senhor de engenho_, who
had sired mulata bastards from the curing house to the kitchen. They
were all still slaves, but her mother had thought her child would be
different. She thought the light-skinned girl she bore the _branco
_would be made free. And she had chosen a Yoruba name for her.

The _senhor de engenho _had decided to name her Serina, one night while
drunk.

A slave chose nothing.

Dara's mulata daughter also was not given her freedom. Instead that
daughter was taken into the master's house: taught to play the lute and
dance the galliards of Joao de Sousa

Carvalho when she was ten, given an orange petticoat and a blue silk
mantle when she was twelve, and taken to his bed the day she was
fourteen. Her own father. He had used her as his property for eight
years, then sold her to a stinking Englishman. She later learned it was
for the princely sum of a hundred pounds.

A slave chose nothing.

Still, something in the _Defiance_ of Atiba stirred her. He was bold.
And handsome, even though a _preto_. She had watched his strong body
with growing desire those two days they were together in the boiling
house. She had begun to find herself wanting to touch him, to tame his
wildness inside her. For a moment he had made her regret she had vowed
long ago never to give herself to a _preto_. She was half white, and if
ever she had a child, that child would be whiter still. To be white was
to be powerful and free. She also would make certain her child was
Christian. The Christian God was probably false, but in this world the
Christians held everything. They owned the Yoruba. The Yoruba gods of
her mother counted for nothing. Not here, not in the New World.

She smiled resignedly and thought once more of Atiba. He would have to
learn that too, for all his strength and his pride, just as she had. He
could call on Ogun to tell him the future, but that god would be
somewhere out of hearing if he tried to war against the _branco_. She
had seen it all before in Brazil. There was no escape.

A slave chose nothing.

Could he be made to understand that? Or would that powerful body one
day be hanged and quartered for leading a rebellion that could only
fail?

Unsure why she should bother, yet unable to stop herself, she turned
from the window and quietly headed down the creaking, makeshift rear
stair. Then she slipped past the kitchen door and onto the stone steps
leading out into the back of the compound. It was still quiet, with
only the occasional cackle of Irish laughter from the kitchen, whose
chimney now threaded a line of wood smoke into the morning air.

The gate opened silently and easily--the indenture left to guard it was
snoring, still clasping an empty flask--and she was out onto the
pathway leading down the hill to the new thatched huts of the slaves.

The path was quiet and gray-dark. Green lizards scurried through the
grass around her and frogs whistled among the palms, but there was no
sign the indentures were awake yet. In the distance she could hear the
low voice of Atiba, lecturing courage to his brave Yoruba warriors.

The _preto _fools.

She knew a woman would not be welcome, would be thought to "defile"
their solemn council of war. Let them have their superstitions. This
was the New World. Africa was finished for them. They weren't Yoruba
warriors now. Here they were just more _preto _slaves, for all their
posturing. Once more she was glad she had been raised a Portuguese, not
a Yoruba woman bound to honor and revere whatever vain man she had been
given to as wife.

As she neared the first hut, she stopped to look and shake her head
sadly. What would the slaves in Brazil think of these thatched hovels?
She knew. They would laugh and ridicule the backwardness of these
saltwater _preto_, who knew nothing of European ways.

Then she noticed a new drum, a small one only just finished, that had
been left out for the sun to dry. She had heard once what these special
drums were for. They were used in ceremonies, when the men and women
danced and somehow were entered and possessed by the gods. But there
were no Yoruba women on Briggs' plantation. He had not bothered to buy
any yet, since men could cut cane faster. She wanted to smile when she
realized the Yoruba men here had to cook their own food, a humiliation
probably even greater than slavery, but the smile died on her lips when
she realized the drum was just a sad relic of a people torn apart.

She examined the drum, recalling the ones she had seen in Brazil. Its
wood was reddish and the skins were tied taut with new white cords. She
smoothed her hand against her shift, then picked it up and nestled it
under her arm, feeling the coolness of the wood. She remembered the
goat skin could be tuned by squeezing the cords along the side.
Carefully she picked up the curved wooden mallet used to play it and,
gripping the drum tightly against her body, tapped it once, twice, to
test the fluctuation in pitch as she pressed the cords.

The sharp, almost human sound brought another rush of memories of
Brazil, nights when she had slipped away to the slave quarters and sat
at the feet of a powerful old_ babalawo_, an ancient Yoruba priest who
had come to be scorned by most of the newly baptized slaves. She was
too young then to know that a _mulata _did not associate with black
_preto_, that a _mulata _occupied a class apart. And above.

She had listened breathlessly night after starry night as he spun out
ancient Yoruba legends of the goddess Oshun--who he said was the
favorite wife of Shango. Then he would show her how to repeat the story
back to him using just the talking drum.

She looked toward the gathering in the far hut, thinking again of the
verses of the cowries. Holding the drum tightly, she began to play the
curved stick across the skin. The words came easily.



_A se were lo nko

_You are learning to be a fool.

_O ko ko ogbon

_You do not learn wisdom.



She laughed to herself as she watched the startled faces of the Yoruba
men emerging from the thatched hut. After a moment, she saw Atiba move
out onto the pathway to stare in her direction. She set the drum onto
the grass and stared back.

He was approaching now, and the grace of his powerful stride again
stirred something, a desire she had first felt those nights in the
boiling house. What would it be like, she wondered again, to receive a
part of his power for her own?

Though his face declared his outrage, she met his gaze with _Defiance_-
-a _mulata _need never be intimidated by a _preto_. She continued to
watch calmly as he moved directly up the path to where she stood.

Without a word he seized the drum, held it skyward for a moment, then
dashed it against a tree stump. Several of the partly healed lash marks
on his back opened from the violence of the swing. He watched in
satisfaction as the wood shattered, leaving a clutter of splinters,
cords, and skin. Then he revolved toward her.

"A _branco _woman does not touch a Yoruba drum."

Branco. She had never heard herself referred to before as "white." But
she had always wanted to. Always. Yet now . . . now he spat it out,
almost as though it meant "unclean."

"A _branco _woman may do as she pleases." She glared back at him.
"That's one of the first things you will have to learn on this island."

"I have nothing to learn from you. Soon, perhaps, you may learn from
me."

"You've only begun to learn." She felt herself turning on him,
bitterly. She could teach him more than he ever dreamed. But why?
"You'll soon find out that you're a _preto_. Perhaps you still don't
know what that means. The _branco_ rule this island. They always will.
And they own you."

"You truly are a _branco_. You may speak our tongue, but there is
nothing left of your Yoruba blood. It has long since drained away."

"As yours will soon. To water the cane on this island, if you try to
rise up against the _branco_. "

"I can refuse to submit." The hardness in his eyes aroused her. Was it
desperation? Or pride?

"And you'll die for it."

"Then I will die. If the _branco _kills me today, he cannot kill me
again tomorrow. And I will die free." He fixed her with his dark gaze,
and the three Yoruba clan marks on his cheek seemed etched in ebony.
Then he turned back toward the hut and the waiting men. "Someday soon,
perhaps, I will show you what freedom means."



Chapter Five


Katherine held on to the mizzenmast shrouds, shielding her eyes against
the glitter of sun on the bay, and looked at Hugh Winston. He was
wearing the identical shabby leather jerkin and canvas breeches she
remembered from that first morning, along with the same pair of pistols
shoved into his belt. He certainly made no effort to present a
dignified appearance. Also, the afternoon light made you notice even
more the odd scar across one weathered cheek. What would he be like as
a lover? Probably nothing so genteel as Anthony Walrond.

Good God, she thought, what would Anthony, and poor Jeremy, say if they
learned I came down here to the _Defiance_, actually sought out this
man they hate so much. They'd probably threaten to break off marriage
negotiations, out of spite.

But if something's not done, she told herself, none of that's going to
matter anyway. If the rumor from London is true, then Barbados is going
to be turned upside down. Hugh Winston can help us, no matter what you
choose to think of him.

She reflected on Winston's insulting manner and puzzled why she had
actually half looked forward to seeing him again. He certainly had none
of Anthony's breeding, yet there was something magnetic about a man so
rough and careless. Still, God knows, finding him a little more
interesting than most of the dreary planters on this island scarcely
meant much.

Was he, she found herself wondering, at all attracted to her?

Possibly. If he thought on it at all, he'd see their common ground. She
finally realized he despised the Puritans and their slaves as much as
she did. And, like her, he was alone. It was a bond between them,
whether he knew it now or not. . . .

Then all at once she felt the fear again, that tightness under her
bodice she had pushed away no more than half an hour past, when her
mare had reached the rim of the hill, the last curve of the rutted dirt
road leading down to the bay. She'd reined in Coral, still not sure she
had the courage to go and see Winston. While her mare pawed and tugged
at the traces, she took a deep breath and watched as a gust of wind
sent the blood-red blossoms from a grove of cordia trees fleeing across
the road. Then she'd noticed the rush of scented air off the sea, the
wide vista of Carlisle Bay spreading out below, the sky full of tiny
colored birds flitting through the azure afternoon.

Yes, she'd told herself, it's worth fighting for, worth jeopardizing
everything for. Even worth going begging to Hugh Winston for. It's my
home.

"Do you ever miss England, living out here in the Caribbees?" She tried
to hold her voice nonchalant, with a lilt intended to suggest that none
of his answers mattered all that much. Though the afternoon heat was
sweltering, she had deliberately put on her most feminine riding dress-
-a billowing skirt tucked up the side to reveal a ruffle of petticoat
and a bodice with sleeves slashed to display the silk smock beneath.
She'd even had the servants iron it specially. Anthony always noticed
it, and Winston had too, though he was trying to pretend otherwise.

"I remember England less and less." He sipped from his tankard--he had
ordered a flask of sack brought up from the Great Cabin just after she
came aboard--and seemed to be studying the sun's reflection in its
amber contents. "The Americas are my home now, for better or worse.
England doesn't really exist for me anymore."

She looked at him and decided Jeremy had been right; the truth was he'd
probably be hanged if he returned.

He paused a moment, then continued, "And you, Miss Bedford, have you
been back?"

"Not since we left, when I was ten. We went first to Bermuda, where
father served for two years as governor and chief officer for the
Sommers Island Company. Then we came down here. I don't really even
think of England much anymore. I feel I'm a part of the Americas now
too." She shaded her face against the sun with one hand and noticed a
bead of sweat trickling down her back, along the laces of her bodice.
"In truth, I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever see England again."

"I'd just as soon never see it again." He rose and strolled across the
deck, toward the steering house. Then he settled his tankard on the
binnacle and began to loosen the line securing the whipstaff, a long
lever used for controlling the rudder. "Do you really want to stay
aboard while I take her out?"

"You've done it every day this week, just around sunset. I've watched
you from the hill, and wondered why." She casually adjusted her bodice,
to better emphasize the plump fullness of her breasts, then suddenly
felt a surge of dismay with herself, that she would consider resorting
to tawdry female tricks. But desperate times brought out desperate
measures. "Besides, you've got the only frigate in the bay now that's
not Dutch, and I thought I'd like to see the island from offshore. I
sometimes forget how beautiful it is."

"Then you'd best take a good, long look, Miss Bedford," he replied
matter-of-factly. "It's never going to be the same again, not after
sugar takes over."

"Katherine. You can call me Katherine." She tried to mask the
tenseness--no, the humiliation--in her voice. "I'm sufficiently
compromised just being down here; there's scarcely any point in
ceremony."

"Then Katherine it is, Miss Bedford." Again scarcely a glimmer of
notice as he busied himself coiling the line. But she saw John Mewes
raise his heavy eyebrows as he mounted the quarterdeck companionway,
his wide belly rolling with each labored step. Winston seemed to ignore
the quartermaster as he continued, "Since you've been watching, then I
suppose you know what to expect. We're going to tack her out of the
harbor, over to the edge of those reefs just off Lookout Point. Then
we'll come about and take her up the west side of the island, north all
the way up to Speightstown. It's apt to be at least an hour. Don't say
you weren't warned."

Perfect, she thought. Just the time I'll need.

"You seem to know these waters well." It was rhetorical, just to keep
him talking. Hugh Winston had sailed up the coast every evening for a
week, regardless of the wind or state of the sea. He obviously
understood the shoreline of Barbados better than anyone on the island.
That was one of the reasons she was here. "You sail out every day."

"Part of my final preparations, Miss Bedford . . . Katherine." He
turned to the quartermaster. "John."

"Aye." Mewes had been loitering by the steeringhouse, trying to stay in
the shade as he eyed the opened flask of sack. Winston had not offered
him a tankard.

"Weigh anchor. I want to close-haul that new main course one more time,
then try a starboard tack."

"Aye, as you will." He strode gruffly to the quarterdeck railing and
bellowed orders forward to the bow. The quiet was broken by a slow
rattle as several shirtless seamen began to haul in the cable with the
winch. They chattered in a medley of languages--French, Portuguese,
English, Dutch.

She watched as the anchor broke through the waves and was hoisted onto
the deck. Next Mewes yelled orders aloft. Moments later the mainsail
dropped and began to blossom in the breeze. The _Defiance _heeled
slowly into the wind, then began to edge past the line of Dutch
merchantmen anchored along the near shoreline.

Winston studied the sail for a few moments. "What do you think, John?
She looks to be holding her luff well enough."

"I never liked it, Cap'n. I've made that plain from the first. So I'm
thinkin' the same as always. You've taken a fore-and-aft rigged
brigantine, one of the handiest under Christian sail, and turned her
into a square-rigger. We'll not have the handling we've got with the
running rigging."

Mewes spat toward the railing and shoved past Katherine, still
astonished that Winston had allowed her to come aboard, governor's
daughter or no. It's ill luck, he told himself. A fair looker, that
I'll grant you, but if it's doxies we'd be taking aboard now, I can
think of plenty who'd be fitter company. He glanced at the white mare
tethered by the shore, wishing she were back astride it and gone. Half
the time you see her, the wench is riding like a man, not sidesaddle
like a woman was meant to.

"If we're going to make Jamaica harbor without raising the Spaniards'
militia, we'll have to keep short sail." Winston calmly dismissed his
objections. "That means standing rigging only. No tops'ls or royals."

"Aye, and she'll handle like a gaff-sailed lugger."

"Just for the approach. While we land the men. We'll keep her rigged
like always for the voyage over." He maneuvered the whipstaff to start
bringing the stern about, sending a groan through the hull. "She seems
to work well enough so far. We need to know exactly how many points off
the wind we can take her. I'd guess about five, maybe six, but we've
got to find out now."

He turned back to Katherine and caught her eyes. They held something--
what was it? Almost an invitation? But that's not why she's here, he
told himself. This woman's got a purpose in mind, all right. Except
it's not you. Whatever it is, though, the looks of her'd almost make
you wonder if she's quite so set on marrying some stiff royalist as she
thinks she is?

Don't be a fool. The last thing you need to be thinking about now is a
woman. Given the news, there's apt to be big trouble ahead here, and
soon. You've got to be gone.

"So perhaps you'd care to tell me . . . Katherine, to what I owe the
pleasure of this afternoon's visit. I'd venture you've probably seen
the western coast of this island a few hundred times before, entirely
without my aid."

"I was wondering if you'd heard what's happened in London?" She held on
to the shrouds, the spider-web of ropes that secured the mast, and
braced herself against the roll of the ship as the _Defiance_ eased
broadside to the sun. Along the curving shoreline a string of Dutch
merchantmen were riding at anchor, all three-masted fluyts, their fore
and main masts steeped far apart to allow room for a capacious hatch.
In the five weeks that had passed since the _Zeelander _put in with the
first cargo of Africans, four more slavers had arrived. They were
anchored across the bay now, their round sterns glistening against the
water as the afternoon light caught the gilding on their high, narrow
after-structure. Riding in the midst of them was the _Rotterdam_, just
put in from London. The sight of that small Dutch merchantman had
brought back her fear. It also renewed her resolve.

"You mean about King Charles? I heard, probably before you did." He was
watching her tanned face, and secretly admiring her courage. She seemed
to be taking the situation calmly. "I was working down here yesterday
when the _Rotterdam _put in."

"Then I'd like your version. What exactly did you hear?"

"Probably what everybody else heard. They brought word England's new
'Rump' Parliament, that mob of bloodthirsty Puritans installed by
Cromwell's army, has locked King Charles in the Tower, with full
intentions to chop off his head. They also delivered the story that
Parliament has declared Barbados a nest of rebels, since your Assembly
has never recognized the Commonwealth. Virginia and Bermuda also made
that select list of outcasts." He glanced toward the bow, then tested
the steering lever. "So, Miss Katherine Bedford, I'd say the Americas
are about to see those stormy times we talked about once. Only it's a
gale out of England, not here." He turned and yelled forward, "John,
reef the foresail as we double the Point. Then prepare to take her hard
about to starboard."

She watched as he shoved the steering lever to port, flipping the
rudder to maneuver around the reefs at the edge of the bay, then
reached for his pewter tankard, its sides dark with grease. And she
tried to stifle her renewed disgust with him, his obvious unconcern, as
she watched him drink. Maybe it really was all a game to him. Maybe
nothing could make him care a damn after all. In the silence that
followed, the creaks of the weathered planking along the deck grew
louder, more plaintive.

"Given some of that may be true, Captain, what do you think will happen
now?"

"Just call me Hugh. I presume I can enjoy my fair share of Barbados'
democracy. While it lasts." He shrugged. "Since you asked, I'll tell
you. I think it means the end of everything we know about the Americas.
Breathe the air of independence while you still can. Maybe you didn't
hear the other story going around the harbor here. The Dutchmen are
claiming that after Parliament gets around to beheading the king, it
plans to take over all the patents granted by the Crown. It's
supposedly considering a new law called a 'Navigation Act,' which is
going to decree that only English bottoms can trade with the American
settlements. No Hollanders. That means the end of free trade. There's
even talk in London that a fleet of warships may head this way to
enforce it."

"I've heard that too. It sounds like nothing more than a Thames rumor."

"Did you know that right now all the Dutchmen here are lading as fast
as they can, hoping they can put to sea before they're blockaded, or
sunk, by a score of armed English men-of-war?"

"Nobody in the Assembly thinks Cromwell would go that

far."

"Well, the Dutchmen do. Whatever else you might say, a Hollander's
about the last man I'd call a fool. I can tell you Carlisle Bay is a
convocation of nervous Netherlanders right now." He squinted against
the sun. "And I'll pass along something else, Katherine. They're not
the only ones. I'd just as soon be at sea myself, with my men."

She examined him, her eyes ironic. "So I take it while you're not
afraid to stand up to the Council, men with pistols practically at your
head, you're still worried about some navy halfway around the world."

"The difference is that the Council owed me money." He smiled wanly.
"With England, it's more like the other way around."

"That's not the real reason, is it?"

"All right, how's this? For all we know, their navy may not be halfway
around the world anymore." He glanced at the sun, then checked the sail
again. "It's no state secret I'm not Mother England's favorite son. The
less I see of the English navy, the happier I'll be."

"What'll you do if a fleet arrives while you're still here?"

"I'll worry about it then." He turned back. "A better question might be
what does Barbados plan to do if a fleet arrives to blockade you and
force you into line." His voice grew sober. "I'd say this island faces
a difficult choice. If Parliament goes ahead and does away with the
king, the way some of its hotheads reportedly want to, then there'll no
longer be any legal protection for you at all. Word of this new sugar
project has already gotten back to London, you can be sure. I'd suspect
the Puritans who've taken over Parliament want the American colonies
because they'd like a piece of Barbados' sudden new fortune for
themselves. New taxes for Commons and new trade for English shippers.
Now that

you're about to be rich here, your years of being ignored are over." He
lifted the tankard and took another drink of sack. "So what are you
going to do? Submit? Or declare war on Parliament and fight the English
navy?"

"If everybody here pulls together, we can resist them."

"With what?" He turned and pointed toward the small stone fortress atop
Lookout Point. The hill stood rocky and remote above the blue
Caribbean. "Not with that breastwork, you won't. I doubt a single gun
up there's ever been set and fired. What's more, I'd be surprised if
there're more than a dozen trained gunners on the whole of the island,
since the royalist refugees here were mostly officers back home. The
way things stand now, you don't have a chance."

"Then we'll have to learn to fight, won't we?" She tried to catch his
eye. "I suppose you know something about gunnery."

"Gunners are most effective when they've got some ordnance to use." He
glanced back, then thumbed toward the Point. "What's in place up
there?"

"I think there're about a dozen cannon. And there're maybe that many
more at the Jamestown breastwork. So the leeward coast is protected.
There's also a breastwork at Oistins Bay, on the south." She paused,
studying his profile against the sun. An image rose up unbidden of him
commanding a battery of guns, her at his side. It was preposterous yet
exhilarating. "Those are the places an invasion would come, aren't
they?"

"They're the only sections of shoreline where the surf's light enough
for a troop ship to put in."

"Then we've got a line of defense. Don't you think it's enough?"

"No." He spoke quietly. "You don't have the heavy ordnance to stop a
landing. All you can hope to do without more guns is just try and slow
it down a bit."

"But assuming that's true, where would we get more cannon? Especially
now?" This was the moment she'd been dreading. Of course their ordnance
was inadequate. She already knew everything he'd been saying. There was
only one place to get more guns. They both realized where.

"Well, you've got a problem, Katherine." He smiled lightly, just to let
her know he was on to her scheme, then looked away, toward the
shoreline. On their right now the island was a mantle of deep,
seemingly eternal green reaching down almost to the water's edge, and
beyond that, up the rise of the first hill, were dull-colored
scatterings of plantation houses. The _Defiance _was making way
smoothly now, northward, holding just a few hundred yards off the
white, sandy shore. "You know, I'm always struck by what a puny little
place Barbados is." He pointed toward a small cluster of clapboard
houses half hidden among the palms along the shore. "If you put to sea,
like we are now, you can practically see the whole island, north to
south."

She glanced at the palm-lined coast, then back. "What are you trying to
say?"

"That gathering of shacks we're passing over there is the grand city of
Jamestown." He seemed to ignore the question as he thumbed to
starboard. "Which I seem to recall is the location of that famous tree
everybody here likes to brag about so much."

Jamestown was where stood the massive oak into whose bark had been
carved the inscription "James, King of E.," and the date 1625. That was
the year an English captain named John Powell accidentally put in at an
empty, forested Caribbean island and decided to claim it for his king.

"That tree proclaims this island belongs to the king of England. Well,
no more. The king's finished. So tell me, who does it belong to now?"

"I'll tell you who it doesn't belong to. Cromwell and the English
Parliament." She watched the passing shoreline, and tried to imagine
what it would be like if her dream came true. If Barbados could make
the stand that would change the Americas permanently.

When she'd awakened this morning, birds singing and the island sun
streaming through the jalousies, she'd suddenly been struck with a
grand thought, a revolutionary idea. She had ignored the servants'
pleas that she wait for breakfast and ordered Coral saddled
immediately. Then she'd headed inland, through the moss-floored forests
whose towering ironwood and oak trees still defied the settlers' axes.
Amidst the vines and orchids she'd convinced herself the idea was
right.

What if all the English in the New World united? Declared their
independence?

During her lifetime there had been a vast migration to the Americas,
two out of every hundred in England. She had never seen the settlement
in "New England," the one at Plymouth on the Massachusetts Bay, but she
knew it was an outpost of Puritans who claimed the Anglican Church
smacked too much of "popery." The New Englanders had always hated King
Charles for his supposed Catholic sympathies, so there was no chance
they'd do anything except applaud the fanatics in England who had
toppled the monarchy.

But the settlements around the Chesapeake were different. Virginia was
founded because of profit, not prayer books. Its planters had formed
their own Assembly in 1621, the first in the Americas, and they were a
spirited breed who would not give in easily to domination by England's
new dictatorship. There was also a settlement on Bermuda, several
thousand planters who had their own Assembly too; and word had just
come they had voted to banish all Puritans from the island, in
retaliation against Cromwell.

Hugh Winston, who thought he knew everything, didn't know that Bermuda
had already sent a secret envoy to Dalby Bedford proposing Barbados
join with them and form an alliance with Virginia and the other islands
of the Caribbees to resist the English Parliament. Bermuda wanted the
American colonies to stand firm for the restoration of the monarchy.
The Barbados Assembly appeared to be leaning in that direction too,
though they still hoped they could somehow avoid a confrontation.

But that was wrong, shed realized this morning. So very wrong. Don't
they see what we really should do? This is our chance. We should simply
declare the richest settlements in the Americas--Virginia, Barbados,
St. Christopher, Nevis, Bermuda--independent of England. A new nation.

It was an idea she'd not yet dared suggest to Dalby Bedford, who would
likely consider it close to sedition. And she certainly couldn't tell a
royalist like Anthony. He'd only fight for the monarchy. But why, she
asked herself, do we need some faraway king here in the Americas? We
could, we should, be our own masters.

First, however, we've got to show Cromwell and his illegal Parliament
that they can't intimidate the American settlements. If Barbados can
stand up to them, then maybe the idea of independence will have a
chance.

"I came today to ask if you'd help us stand and fight. If we have to."
She listened to her own voice and knew it was strong and firm.

He stood silent for a moment, staring at her. Then he spoke, almost a
whisper above the wind. "Who exactly is it wants me to help fight
England? The Assembly?"

"No. I do."

"That's what I thought." He shook his head in disbelief, or was it
dismay, and turned to check the whipstaff. When he glanced back, his
eyes were skeptical. "I'll wager nobody knows you came down here. Am I
correct?"

"I didn't exactly make an announcement about it."

"And that low-cut bodice and pretty smile? Is that just part of your
negotiations?"

"I thought it mightn't hurt." She looked him squarely in the eye.

"God Almighty. What you'd do for this place! I pity Cromwell and his
Roundheads." He sobered. "I don't mind telling you I'm glad at least
one person here realizes this island can't defend itself as things
stand now. You'd damned sure better start trying to do something." He
examined her, puzzled. "But why come to me?"

She knew the answer. Hugh Winston was the only person she knew who
hated England enough to declare independence. He already had. "You seem
to know a lot about guns and gunnery." She moved closer and noticed
absently that he smelled strongly of seawater, leather, and sweat. "Did
I hear you say you had an idea where we could get more cannon, to help
strengthen our breastworks?"

"So we're back to business. I might have expected." He rubbed
petulantly at his scar. "No, I didn't say, though we both know where
you might. From those Dutchmen in the harbor. Every merchantman in
Carlisle Bay has guns. You could offer to buy them. Or just take them.
But whatever you do, don't dally too long. One sighting of English sail
and they'll put to sea like those flying fish around the island."

"How about the cannon on the _Defiance_? How many do you have?"

"I have a few." He laughed, then reflected with pride on his first-
class gun deck. Twenty-two demi-culverin, nine-pounders and all brass
so they wouldn't overheat. He'd trained his gunners personally, every
man, and he'd shot his way out of more than one harbor over the past
five years. His ordnance could be run out in a matter of minutes,
primed and ready. "Naturally you're welcome to them. All you'll have to
do is kill me first."

"I hope it doesn't come to that."

"So do I." He studied the position of the waning sun for a moment, then
yelled forward for the men to hoist the staysail. Next he gestured
toward Mewes. "John, take the whipstaff a while and tell me what you
think of the feel of her. I'd guess the best we can do is six points
off the wind, the way I said."

"Aye." Mewes hadn't understood what all the talk had

been about, but he hoped the captain was getting the best of the doxy.
"I can tell you right now this new rigging of yours makes a handy
little frigate work like a damn'd five-hundred-ton galleon."

"Just try taking her about." He glanced at the shoreline. They were
coming in sight of Speightstown, the settlement at the north tip of the
island. "Let's see if we can tack around back south and make it into
the bay."

"But would you at least help us if we were blockaded?" She realized she
was praying he would say yes.

"Katherine, what's this island ever done for me? Besides, right now
I've got all I can manage just trying to get the hell out of here. I
can't afford to get caught up in your little quarrel with the
Commonwealth." He looked at her. "Every time I've done an errand for
Barbados, it's always come back to plague me."

"So you don't care what happens here." She felt her disappointment
surge. It had all been for nothing, and damned to him. "I suppose I had
a somewhat higher opinion of you, Captain Winston. I see I was wrong."

"I've got my own plan for the Caribbean. And that means a lot more to
me than who rules Barbados and its slaves."

"Then I'm sorry I bothered asking at all."

"I've got a suggestion for you though." Winston's voice suddenly
flooded with anger. "Why don't you ask your gentleman fiance, Anthony
Walrond, to help? From what I hear, he was the royalist hero of the
Civil War."

"He doesn't have a gun deck full of cannon." She wanted to spit in
Winston's smug face.

"But he's got you, Katherine, doesn't he?" He felt an unwanted pang at
the realization. He was beginning to like this woman more than he
wanted to. She had brass. "Though as long as you're here anyway, why
don't we at least toast the sunset? And the free Americas that're about
to vanish into history." He abruptly kissed heron the cheek, watched as
she flushed in anger, then turned and yelled to a seaman just entering
the companionway aft, "Fetch up another flask of sack."



Benjamin Briggs stood in the open doorway of the curing-house,
listening to the "sweee" call of the long-tailed flycatchers as they
flitted through the groves of macaw palms. The long silence of dusk was
settling over the sugarworks as the indentures and the slaves trudged
wearily toward their thatched huts for the evening dish of loblolly
mush. Down the hill, toward the shore, vagrant bats had begun to dart
through the shadows.

In the west the setting sun had become a fiery disk at the edge of the
sea's far horizon. He watched with interest as a single sail cut across
the sun's lower rim. It was Hugh Winston's _Defiance_, rigged in a
curious new mode. He studied it a moment, puzzling, then turned back to
examine the darkening interior of the curing house.

Long racks, holding wooden cones of curing sugar, extended the length
of one wall. He thought about the cones for a time, watching the slow
drip of molasses into the tray beneath and wondering if it mightn't pay
to start making them from clay, which would be cheaper and easier to
shape. Though the Africans seemed to understand working clay--they'd
been using it for their huts--he knew that only whites could be allowed
to make the cones. The skilled trades on Barbados must always be
forbidden to blacks, whose tasks had to be forever kept repetitive,
mind-numbing. The Africans could never be allowed to perfect a craft.
It could well lead to economic leverage and, potentially, resistance to
slavery and the end of cheap labor.

He glanced back toward the darkening horizon, but now Winston's frigate
had passed from view, behind the trees. Winston was no better than a
thieving rogue, bred for gallows-bait, but you had to admire him a
trifle nonetheless. He was one of the few men around who truly
understood the need for risk here in the Americas. The man who never
chanced what he had gained in order to realize more would never
prosper. In the Americas a natural aristocracy was rising up, one not
of birth but of boldness.

Boldness would be called for tonight, but he was ready. He had done
what had to be done all his life.

The first time was when he was thirty-one, a tobacco importer in
Bristol with an auburn-haired wife named Mary and two blue-eyed
daughters, a man pleased with himself and with life. Then one chance-
filled afternoon he had discovered, in a quick succession of surprise
and confession, that Mary had a lover. The matter of another man would
not have vexed him unduly, but the fact that her gallant was his own
business partner did.

The next day he sold his share of the firm, settled with his creditors,
and hired a coach for London. He had never seen Bristol again. Or Mary
and his daughters.

In London there was talk that a syndicate of investors led by Sir
William Courteen was recruiting a band of pioneers to try and establish
a new settlement on an empty island in the Caribbees, for which they
had just received a proprietary patent from the king. Though Benjamin
Briggs had never heard of Barbados, he joined the expedition. He had no
family connections, no position, and only a few hundred pounds. But he
had the boldness to go where no Englishman had ever ventured.

Eighty of them arrived in the spring of 1627, on the William and John,
with scarcely any tools, only to discover that the entire island was a
rain forest, thick and overgrown. Nor had anyone expected the harsh
sunshine, day in and day out. They all would have starved from
inexperience had not the Dutch helped them procure a band of Arawak
Indians from Surinam, who brought along seeds to grow plantains and
corn, and cassava root for bread. The Indians also taught the
cultivation of cotton and tobacco, cash crops. Perhaps just as
importantly, they showed the new adventurers from London how to make a
suspended bed they called a hammock, in order to sleep up above the
island's biting ants, and how to use smoky fires to drive off the
swarms of mosquitoes that appeared each night. Yet, help
notwithstanding, many of those first English settlers died from
exposure and disease by the end of the year. Benjamin Briggs was one of
the survivors. Later, he had vowed never to forget those years, and
never to taste defeat.

The sun was almost gone now, throwing its last, long shadows through
the open thatchwork of the curing-house walls, laying a pattern against
the hard earthen floor. He looked down at his calloused hands, the
speckle of light and shade against the weathered skin, and thought of
all the labors he had set them to.

The first three years those hands had wielded an axe, clearing land,
and then they had shaped themselves to the handle of a hoe, as he and
his five new indentures set about planting indigo. And those hands had
stayed penniless when his indigo crops were washed away two years
running by the autumn storms the Carib Indians called _huracan_. Next
he had set them to cotton. In five years he had recouped the losses
from the indigo and acquired more land, but he was still at the edge of
starvation, in a cabin of split logs almost a decade after coming out
to the Caribbees.

He looked again at his hands, thinking how they had borrowed heavily
from lenders in London, the money just enough to finance a switch from
cotton to tobacco. It fared a trifle better, but still scarcely
recovered its costs.

Though he had managed to accumulate more and more acres of island land
over the years, from neighbors less prudent, he now had only a moderate
fortune to show for all his labor. He'd actually considered giving up
on the Americas and returning to London, to resume the import trade.
But always he remembered his vow, so instead he borrowed again, this
time from the Dutchmen, and risked it all one last time. On sugar.

He scraped a layer from the top of one of the molds and rubbed the tan
granules between his fingers, telling himself that now, at last, his
hands had something to show for the two long decades of callouses,
blisters, emptiness.

He tasted the rich sweetness on a horned thumb and its savor was that
of the Americas. The New World where every man started as an equal.

Now a new spirit had swept England. The king was dethroned, the
hereditary House of Lords abolished. The people had risen up . . . and,
though you'd never have expected it, new risk had risen up with them.
The American settlements were suddenly flooded with the men England had
repudiated. Banished aristocrats like the Walronds, who'd bought their
way into Barbados and who would doubtless like nothing better than to
reforge the chains of class privilege in the New World.

Most ironic of all, these men had at their disposal the new democratic
institutions of the Americas. They would clamor in the Assembly of
Barbados for the island to reject the governance of the English
Parliament, hoping thereby to hasten its downfall and lead to the
restoration of the monarchy. Worse, the Assembly, that reed in the
winds of rhetoric, would doubtless acquiesce.

Regardless of what you thought of Cromwell, to resist Parliament now
would be to swim against the tide. And to invite war. The needful
business of consolidating the small tracts on Barbados and setting the
island wholesale to sugar would be disrupted and forestalled, perhaps
forever.

Why had it come down to this, he asked himself again. Now, of all
times. When the fruits of long labor seemed almost in hand. When you
could finally taste the comforts of life--a proper house, rich food, a
woman to ease the nights.

He had never considered taking another wife. Once had been enough. But
he had always arranged to have a comely Irish girl about the house, to
save the trouble and expense of visiting Bridgetown for an evening.

A prudent man bought an indentured wench with the same careful eye hed
acquire a breeding mare. A lusty-looking one might cost a few shillings
more, but it was money well invested, your one compensation for all the
misery.

The first was years ago, when he bought a red-headed one straight off a
ship from London, not guessing till he got her home that he'd been
swindled; she had a sure case of the pox, the French disease. Her
previous career, it then came out, included Bridewell Prison and the
taverns of Turnbull Street. He sent her straight to the fields and
three months later carefully bought another, this one Irish and
seventeen. She had served out her time, five years, and then gone to
work at a tavern in Bridgetown. He had never seen her since, and didn't
care to, but after that he always kept one about, sending her on to the
fields and buying a replacement when he wearied of her.

That was before the voyage down to Pernambuco. Brazil had been an
education, in more ways than one. You had to grant the Papists knew a
thing or so about the good life. They had bred up a sensuous Latin
creation: the _mulata_. He tried one at a tavern, and immediately
decided the time had come to acquire the best. He had worked hard, he
told himself; he had earned it.

There was no such thing as a _mulata _indenture in Pernambuco, so he'd
paid the extra cost for a slave. And he was still cursing himself for
his poor judgment. Haughtiness in a servant was nothing new. In the
past he'd learned you could easily thrash it out of them, even the
Irish ones. This _mulata_, though, somehow had the idea she was gifted
by God to a special station, complete with high-born Latin airs. The
plan to be finally rid of her was already in motion.

She had come from Pernambuco with the first cane, and she would be sold
in Bridgetown with the first sugar. He already had a prospective buyer,
with an opening offer of eighty pounds.

He'd even hinted to Hugh Winston that she could be taken

as part payment for the sight drafts, but Winston had refused the bait.
It was men and provisions, he insisted, nothing else.

Winston. May God damn his eyes. . . .

Footsteps sounded along the gravel pathway and he turned to examine the
line of planters approaching through the dusk, all wearing dark hats
and colorless doublets. As he watched them puffing up the rise of the
hill, he found himself calculating how much of the arable land on the
island was now controlled by himself and these eleven other members of
the Council. Tom Lancaster owned twelve hundred acres of the rolling
acres in St. George's parish; Nicholas Whittington had over a thousand
of the best land in Christ's Church parish; Edward Bayes, who had
ridden down from his new plantation house on the northern tip of the
island, owned over nine hundred acres; John lynes had amassed a third
of the arable coastal land on the eastern, windward side of the island.
The holdings of the others were smaller, but together they easily owned
the major share of the good cane land on Barbados. What they needed now
was the rest.

"Your servant, sir." The planters nodded in chorus as they filed into
the darkened curing house. Every man had ridden alone, and Briggs had
ordered his own servants to keep clear of the curing house for the
evening.

"God in heaven, this much already." Bayes emitted a low whistle and
rubbed his jowls as he surveyed the long rows of sugar molds. "You've
got a fortune in this very room, sir. If this all turns out to be
sugar, and not just pots of molasses like before."

"It'll be white sugar or I'll answer for it, and it'll be fine as any
Portugal could make." Briggs walked to the corner of the room,
returning with two flasks of kill-devil and a tray of tankards. "The
question now, gentlemen, is whether we'll ever see it sold."

"I don't follow you, sir." Whittington reached for a brown flask and
began pouring himself a tankard. "As soon as we've all got a batch
cured, we'll market it to the Dutchmen. Or we'll ship it to London
ourselves."

"I suppose you've heard the rumor working now amongst the Dutchmen?
That there might be an embargo?"

"Aye, but it's no more than a rumor. There'll be no embargo, I promise
you. It'd be too costly."

"It's not just a rumor. There was a letter from my London broker in the
mail packet that came yesterday on the _Rotterdam_. He saw fit to
include this." Briggs produced a thin roll of paper. "It's a copy he
had made of the Act prepared in the Council of State, ready to be sent
straight to Commons for a vote." He passed the paper to Whittington,
who un-scrolled it and squinted through the half-light. Briggs paused a
moment, then continued, "The Act would embargo all shipping into and
out of Barbados till our Assembly has moved to recognize the
Commonwealth. Cromwell was so sure it'd be passed he was already
pulling together a fleet of warships to send out and enforce it. Word
has't the fleet will be headed by the _Rainbowe_, which was the king's
flagship before Cromwell took it. Fifty guns."

A disbelieving silence enveloped the darkened room.

"And you say this Act was set to pass in Parliament?" Whittington
looked up and recovered his voice.

"It'd already been reported from the Council of State. And the letter
was four weeks old. More'n likely it's already law. The _Rainbowe
_could well be sailing at the head of a fleet right now as we talk."

"If Cromwell does that, we're as good as on our knees." Tynes rubbed
his neck and took a sip from his tankard. "What do you propose we can
do?"

"As I see it, there're but two choices." Briggs motioned for the men to
sit on a row of empty kegs he had provided. "The first is to lie back
and do nothing, in which case the royalists will probably see to it
that the Assembly here votes to defy Commons and declare for Charles
II."

"Which means we'll be at war with England, God help us." Lancaster
removed his hat to wipe his dusty brow.

"Aye. A war, incidentally, which would force Cromwell to send the army
to subdue the island, if he hasn't already. He'd probably post troops
to try and invade us, like some people are saying. Which means the
Assembly would doubtless call up every able-bodied man on the island to
fight. All the militia, and the indentures. Letting the cane rot in the
fields, if it's not burned to cinders by then."

"Good Jesus." Whittington's face seemed increasingly haggard in the
waning light. "That could well set us back years."

"Aye, and who knows what would happen with the indentures and the
slaves? Who'll be able to watch over them? If we have to put the island
on a war footing, it could endanger the lives of every free man here.
God knows we're outnumbered by all the Irish Papists and the Africans."

"Aye, the more indentures and slaves you've got, the more precarious
your situation." Lancaster's glazed eyes passed down the row of sugar
molds as he thought about the feeble security of his own clapboard
house. He also remembered ruefully that he owned only three usable
muskets.

"Well, gentlemen, our other choice is to face up to the situation and
come to terms with Parliament. It's a bitter draught, I'll grant you,
but it'll save us from anarchy, and maybe an uprising."

"The Assembly'll never declare for the Commonwealth. The royalist
sympathizers hold a majority." Whittington's face darkened. "Which
means there's nothing to be done save ready for war."

"There's still a hope. We can do something about the Assembly." Briggs
turned to Tynes, a small, tanned planter with hard eyes. "How many men
do you have in your regiment?"

"There're thirty officers, and maybe two hundred men."

"How long to raise them?"

"Raise them, sir?" He looked at Briggs, uncomprehending. "To what
purpose? They're militia, to defend us against attack by the
Spaniards."

"It's not the Spaniards we've to worry about now. I think we can agree
there's a clear and present danger nearer to hand." Briggs looked
around him. "I say the standing Assembly of Barbados no longer
represents the best interests of this island. For any number of
reasons."

"Is there a limit on their term?" Lancaster looked at him
questioningly. "I don't remember the law."

"We're not adjudicating law now, gentlemen. We're discussing the future
of the island. We're facing war. But beyond that, it's time we talked
about running Barbados the way it should be, along economic principles.
There'll be prosperity, you can count on it, but only if we've got a
free hand to make some changes." He took a drink, then set down his
tankard.

"What do you mean?" Lancaster looked at him.

"Well sir, the main problem now is that we've got an Assembly here
that's sympathetic to the small freeholders. Not surprisingly, since
thanks to Dalby Bedford every man here with five acres can vote. Our
good governor saw to that when he drew up the voting parishes. Five
acres. They're not the kind who should be in charge of governing this
settlement now. I know it and so does every man in this room."

"All the same, they were elected."

"That was before sugar. Think about it. These small freeholders on the
Assembly don't understand this island wasn't settled just so we'd have
a batch of five-acre gardens. God's blood, I cleared a thousand acres
myself. I figured that someday I'd know why I was doing it. Well, now I
do."

"What are you driving at?" Bayes squinted past the rows of sugar cones.

"Well, examine the situation. This island could be the finest sugar
plantation in the world. The Dutchmen already claim it's better than
Brazil. But the land here's got to be assembled and put to efficient
use. If we can consolidate the holdings of these small freeholders, we
can make this island the richest spot on earth. The Assembly doesn't
understand that. They'd go to war rather than try and make some
prosperity here."

"What are you proposing we do about it?" Lancaster interjected warily.

"What if we took action, in the interests of the island?" Briggs
lowered his voice. "We can't let the Assembly vote against the
Commonwealth and call down the navy on our heads. They've got to be
stopped."

"But how do we manage it?" Tynes' voice was uneasy.

"We take preventive action." He looked around the room. "Gentlemen, I
say it'd be to the benefit of all the free Englishmen on Barbados if we
took the governor under our protection for the time being, which would
serve to close down the Assembly while we try and talk sense with
Parliament."

"We'd be taking the law into our own hands." Tynes shifted
uncomfortably.

"It's a question of whose law you mean. According to the thinking of
the English Parliament, this Assembly has no legal standing anyway,
since they've yet to recognize the rule of Commons. We'd just be
implementing what's already been decided."

"I grant you this island would be wise not to antagonize Cromwell and
Parliament just now." Whittington searched the faces around him. "And
if the Assembly won't take a prudent course, then . . ."

"What we're talking about here amounts to overturning the sitting
governor, and closing down the Assembly." Lancaster's voice came
through the gloom. "We've not the actual authority, even if Parliament
has . . ."

"We've got something more, sir." Briggs met his troubled gaze. "An
obligation. To protect the future of the island."

What we need now, he told himself, is responsible leadership. If the
Council can deliver up the island, the quid pro quo from Cromwell will
have to be acting authority to govern Barbados. Parliament has no brief
for the Assembly here, which fits nicely with the need to be done with
it anyway.

The irony of it! Only if Barbados surrenders do we have a chance to
realize some prosperity. If we stand and fight, we're sure to lose
eventually, and then none of us will have any say in what comes after.

And in the long run it'll be best for every man here, rich and poor.
When there's wealth--as there's sure to be if we can start evicting
these freeholders and convert the island over to efficient sugar
plantations--everybody benefits. The wealth will trickle down, like the
molasses out of these sugar cones, even to the undeserving. It's the
way things have to be in the Americas if we're ever to make a go of it.

But one step at a time. First we square the matter of Bedford and the
Assembly.

"But have we got the men?" Lancaster settled his tankard on a keg and
looked up hesitantly.

"With the militia we already have under our command, I'd say we've got
sympathetic officers, since they're all men with sizable sugar acreage.
On the other hand, it'd probably not be wise to try calling up any of
the small freeholders and freemen. So to get the numbers we'll be
wanting, I'd say we'll just have to use our indentures as the need
arises."

"You've named a difficulty there." Whittington took a deep breath.
"Remember the transfer over to Winston takes place day after tomorrow.
That's going to leave every man here short. After that I'll have no
more than half a dozen Christians on my plantation. All the rest are
Africans."

"Aye, he'll have the pick of my indentures as well," Lancaster added,
his voice troubled.

"He'll just have to wait." Briggs emptied his tankard and reached for
the flask. "We'll postpone the transfer till this thing's settled. And
let Winston try to do about it what he will."



Chapter Six


A light breeze stirred the bedroom's jalousie shutters, sending strands
of the midnight moon dancing across the curves of her naked, almond
skin. As always when she slept she was back in Pernambuco, in the
whitewashed room of long ago, perfumed with frangipani, with moonlight
and soft shadows that pirouetted against the clay walls.

. . . Slowly, silently, the moon at the window darkens, as a shadow
blossoms through the airless space, and in her dream the form becomes
the ancient _babalawo _of Pernambuco, hovering above her. Then
something passes across her face, a reverent caress, and there is
softness and scent in its touch, like a linen kerchief that hints of
wild berries. The taste of its honeyed sweetness enters the dream, and
she finds herself drifting deeper into sleep as his arms encircle her,
drawing her up against him with soft Yoruba words.

Her body seems to float, the dream deepening, its world of light and
shadow absorbing her, beckoning, the softness of the bed gliding away.

Now she feels the touch of her soft cotton shift against her breasts
and senses the hands that lower it about her. Soon she is buoyed
upward, toward the waiting moon, past the jalousies at the window,
noiselessly across the rooftop. . . .

She awoke as the man carrying her in his arms dropped abruptly to the
yard of the compound. She looked to see the face, and for an instant
she thought it truly was the old priest in Brazil ... the same three
clan marks, the same burning eyes. Then she realized the face was
younger, that of another man, one she knew from more recent dreams. She
struggled to escape, but the drugged cloth came again, its pungent,
cloying sweetness sending her thoughts drifting back toward the void of
the dream.

. . . Now the wall of the compound floats past, vaulted by the figure
who holds her draped in his arms. His Yoruba words are telling her she
has the beauty of Oshun, beloved wife of Shango. That tonight they will
live among the Orisa, the powerful gods that dwell in the forest and
the sky. For a moment the cool night air purges away the sweetness of
the drug, the potion this _babalawo _had used to numb her senses, and
she is aware of the hard flex of his muscle against her body. Without
thinking she clings to him, her fear and confusion mingled with the
ancient comfort of his warmth, till her mind merges once more with the
dark. . . .

Atiba pointed down toward the wide sea that lay before them, a
sparkling expanse spreading out from the shoreline at the bottom of the
hill, faintly tinged with moonlight. "I brought you here tonight to
make you understand something. In Ife we say: 'The darkness of night is
deeper than the shadow of the forest.' Do you understand the chains on
your heart can be stronger than the chains on your body?"

He turned back to look at Serina, his gaze lingering over the sparkling
highlights the moon now sprinkled in her hair. He found himself
suddenly remembering a Yoruba woman he had loved once, not one of his
wives, but a tall woman who served the royal compound at Ife. He had
met with her secretly, after his wives were killed in the wars, and he
still thought of her often. Something in the elegant face of this
_mulata _brought back those memories even more strongly. She too had
been strong-willed, like this one. Was this woman also sacred to
Shango, as that one had been . . .?

"You only become a slave when you give up your people." His voice
grew gentle, almost a whisper. "What is your Yoruba name?"

"I'm not Yoruba." She spoke quickly and curtly, forcing the words past
her anger as she huddled for warmth, legs drawn up, arms encircling her
knees. Then she reached to pull her shift tighter about her and tried
to clear her thoughts. The path on which hed carried her, through
forests and fields, was a blurred memory. Only slowly had she realized
they were on a hillside now, overlooking the sea. He was beside her,
wearing only a blue shirt and loincloth, his profile outlined in the
moonlight.

"Don't say that. The first thing you must know is who you are. Unless
you understand that, you will always be a slave."

"I know who I am. I'm _mulata_. Portugues. I'm not African." She
glanced down at the grass beside her bare feet and suddenly wished her
skin were whiter. I'm the color of dead leaves, she thought shamefully,
of the barren earth. Then she gripped the hem of her shift and summoned
back her pride. "I'm not a _preto_. Why would I have an African name?"

She felt her anger rising up once more, purging her feelings of
helplessness. To be stolen from her bed by this ignorant _preto_,
brought to some desolate spot with nothing but the distant sound of the
sea. That he would dare to steal her away, a highborn mulata. She did
not consort with blacks. She was almost . . . white.

The wind laced suddenly through her hair, splaying it across her
cheeks, and she realized the night air was perfumed now, almost as the
cloth had been, a wild fragrance that seemed to dispel a portion of her
anger, her humiliation. For a moment she found herself thinking of the
forbidden things possible in the night, those hidden hours when the
rules of day can be sacrificed to need. And she became aware of the
warmth of his body next to hers as he crouched, waiting, motionless as
the trees at the bottom of the hill.

If she were his captive, then nothing he did to her would be of her own
willing. How could she prevent him? Yet he made no move to take her.
Why was he waiting?

"But to have a Yoruba name means to possess something the _branco _can
never own." He caressed her again with his glance. Even though she was
pale, he had wanted her from the first moment he saw her. And he had
recognized the same want in her eyes, only held in check by her pride.

Why was she so proud, he wondered. If anything, she should feel shame,
that her skin was so wan and pale. In Ife the women in the compounds
would laugh at her, saying the moons would come and go and she would
only wet her feet, barren. No man would take some frail albino to share
his mat.

Even more--for all her fine Ingles clothes and her soft bed she was ten
times more slave than he would ever be. How to make her understand
that?

"You only become a slave when you give up the ways of your people. Even
if your father was a_ branco_, you were born of a Yoruba woman. You
still can be Yoruba. And then you will be something, have something."
The powerful hands that had carried her to this remote hilltop were now
toying idly with the grass. "You are not the property of a _branco
_unless you consent to be. To be a slave you must first submit, give
him your spirit. If you refuse, if you remember your own people, he can
never truly enslave you. He will have only your body, the work of your
hands. The day you understand that, you are human again."

"You are wrong." She straightened. "Here in the Americas you are
whatever the _branco_ says. You will never be a man unless he says you
are." She noticed a tiny race in her heartbeat and told herself again
she did not want to feel desire for this preto, now or ever. "Do you
want to know why? Because your skin is black. And to the Ingles black
is the color of evil. They have books of learning that say the
Christian God made Africans black because they are born of evil; they
are less than human. They say your blackness outside comes from your
darkness within." She looked away, shamed once more by the shade of her
own skin, her unmistakable kinship with this _preto _next to her. Then
she continued, bitterly repeating the things she'd heard that the
Puritan divines were now saying in the island's parish churches. "The
Ingles claim Africans are not men but savages, something between man
and beast. And because of that, their priests declare it is the will of
their God that you be slaves. . . ."

She had intended to goad him more, to pour out the abusive scorn she
had so often endured herself, but the softness of the Yoruba words
against her tongue sounded more musical than she had wanted. He was
quietly smiling as she continued. "And now I order you to take me back
before Master Briggs discovers I'm gone."

"The sun is many hours away. So for a while yet you won't have to see
how black I am." He laughed and a pale glimmer of moonlight played
across the three clan marks on his cheek. "I thought you had more
understanding than is expected of a woman. Perhaps I was wrong. We say
'The thread follows the needle; it does not make its own way.' For you
the Portugues, and now this _branco _Briggs, have been the needle; you
merely the thread." He grasped her shoulder and pulled her around. "Why
do you let some _branco _tell you who you are? I say they are the
savages. They are not my color; they are sickly pale. They don't
worship my gods; they pray to some cruel God who has no power over the
earth. Their language is ugly and harsh; mine is melodic, rich with
verses and ancient wisdom." He smiled again at the irony of it. "But
tonight you have told me something very important about the mind of
these Ingles. You have explained why they want so much to make me
submit. If they think we are evil, then they must also think us
powerful."

Suddenly he leaped to his feet and joyously whirled in a

circle, entoning a deep, eerie chant toward the stars. It was like a
song of triumph.

She sat watching till he finished, then listened to the medley of
frightened night birds from the dark down the hill. How could this
_preto _understand so well her own secret shame, see so clearly the
lies she told herself in order to live?

Abruptly he reached down and slipped his hands under her arms, lifting
her up to him. "The first thing I want to do tonight is give you back a
Yoruba name. A name that has meaning." He paused. "What was your mother
called?"

"Her name was Dara."

"Our word for 'beautiful.'" He studied her angular face gravely. "It
would suit you as well, for truly you are beautiful too. If you took
that name, it would always remind you that your mother was a woman of
our people."

She found herself wishing she had the strength to push his warm body
away, to shout out to him one final time that he was a _preto_, that
his father was a _preto _and her own a _branco_, that she had no desire
to so much as touch him. . . . But suddenly she was ashamed to say the
word "white," and that shame brought a wave of anger. At him, at
herself. All her life she had been proud to be _mulata_. What right did
this illiterate _preto _have to make her feel ashamed now? "And what
are you? You are a _preto _slave. Who brings me to a hilltop in the
dark of night and brags about freedom. Tomorrow you will be a slave
again, just like yesterday."

"What am I?" Angrily he gripped her arms and pulled her face next to
his. The fierceness of his eyes again recalled the old _babalawo _in
Brazil; he had had the same pride in himself, his people. "I am more
than the Ingles here are. Ask of them, and you will discover half once
were criminals, or men with no lands of their own, no lineage. In my
veins there is royal blood, a line hundreds of generations old. My own
father was nearest the throne of the ruling Oba in Ife. He was a
_babalawo_, as I am, but he was also a warrior. Before he was betrayed
in battle, he was the second most powerful man in Ife. That's who I am,
my father's son."

"What happened? Was he killed?" Impulsively she took his hand and was
surprised by its warmth.

"He disappeared one day. Many markets later I learned he was betrayed
by some of our own people. Because he was too powerful in Ife. He was
captured and taken down to the sea, sold to the Portugues. I was young
then. I had only known twelve rainy seasons. But I was not too young to
hunt down the traitors who made him slave. They all died by my sword."
He clenched his fist, then slowly it relaxed. "But enough. Tonight I
want just one thing. To teach you that you still can be free. That you
can be Yoruba again."

"Why do you want so much to change me?"

"Because, Dara"--his eyes were locked on hers--"I would have you be my
wife. Here. I will not buy you with a bride price; instead I will kill
the man who owns you."

She felt a surge of confusion, entwined with want. But again her
disdain of everything _preto _caught in her breast. Why, she wondered,
was she even bothering to listen?

"After you make me 'Yoruba,' I will still be a slave to the Ingles."

"Only for a few more days." His face hardened, a tenseness that spread
upward through his high cheeks and into his eyes. "Wait another moon
and you will see my warriors seize this island away from them."

"I'll not be one of your Yoruba wives." She drew back and clasped her
arms close to her breasts, listening to the night, alive now with the
sounds of whistling frogs and crickets.

"Rather than be wife to a Yoruba, you would be whore to an Ingles." He
spat out the words. "Which means to be nothing."

"But if you take this island, you can have as many wives as you like.
Just as you surely have now in Ife." She drew away, still not trusting
the pounding in her chest. "What does one more mean to you?"

"Both my wives in Ife are dead." His hand reached and stroked her hair.
"They were killed by the Fulani, years ago. I never chose more, though
many families offered me their young women."

"Now you want war again. And death. Here."

"I raised my sword against my enemies in Yorubaland. I will fight
against them here. No Yoruba will ever bow to others, black or white."
He gently touched her cheek and smoothed her pale skin with his warm
fingers. "You can stand with us when we rise up against the Ingles."

His touch tingled unexpectedly, like a bridge to some faraway time she
dreamed about and still belonged to. For an instant she almost gave in
to the impulse to circle her arms around him, pull him next to her.

He stroked her cheek again, lovingly, before continuing. "Perhaps if I
kill all the Ingles chiefs, then you will believe you are free. That
your name is Dara, and not what some Portugues once decided to call
you." He looked at her again and his eyes had softened now. "Will you
help me?"

She watched as the moonlight glistened against the ebony of his skin.
This _preto _slave was opening his life to her, something no other man
had ever done. The _branco _despised his blackness even more than they
did hers, but he bore their contempt with pride, with strength, more
strength than she had ever before sensed in a man.

And he needed her. Someone finally needed her. She saw it in his eyes,
a need he was still too proud to fully admit, a hunger for her to be
with him, to share the days ahead when . . .

_Yes

_. . . when she would stand with him to destroy the _branco_.

"Together." Softly she reached up and circled her arms around his broad
neck. Suddenly his blackness was exquisite and beautiful. "Tonight I
will be wife to you. Will you hold me now?"

The wind whipped her long black hair across his shoulder, and before
she could think she found herself raising her lips to his. He tasted of
the forest, of a lost world across the sea she had never known. His
scent was sharp, and male.

She felt his thumb brush across her cheek and sensed the wetness of her
own tears. What had brought this strange welling to her eyes, here on
this desolate hillside. Was it part of love? Was that what she felt
now, this equal giving and accepting of each other?

She shoved back his open shirt, to pass her hands across the hard
muscles of his chest. Scars were there, deep, the signs of the warrior
he once had been. Then she slipped the rough cotton over his back,
feeling the open cuts of the lashes, the marks of the slave he was now.
Suddenly she realized he wore them as proudly as sword cuts from
battle. They were the emblem of his manhood, his _Defiance_ of the
Ingles, just as his cheek marks were the insignia of his clan. They
were proof to all that his spirit still lived.

She felt his hands touch her shift, and she reached gently to stop him.

Over the years in Brazil so many men had used her. She had been given
to any white visitor at the plantation who wanted her: first it was
Portuguese traders, ship captains, even priests. Then conquering
Hollanders, officers of the Dutch forces who had taken Brazil. A
hundred men, all born in Europe, all unbathed and rank, all white. She
had sensed their _branco _contempt for her with anger and shame. To
this black Yoruba, this strong, proud man of Africa, she would give
herself freely and with love.

She met his gaze, then in a single motion pulled the shift over her
head and tossed it away, shaking out the dark hair that fell across her
shoulders. As she stood naked before him in the moonlight, the wind
against her body seemed like a foretaste of the freedom, the love, he
had promised.

He studied her for a moment, the shadows of her firm breasts casting
dark ellipses downward across her body. She was _dara_.

Slowly he grasped her waist and lifted her next to him. As she entwined
her legs about his waist, he buried his face against her and together
they laughed for joy.

Later she recalled the touch of his body, the soft grass, the sounds of
the night in her ears as she cried out in completeness. The first she
had ever known. And at last, a perfect quiet had seemed to enfold them
as she held him in her arms, his strength tame as a child's.

In the mists of dawn he brought her back, through the forest, serenaded
by its invisible choir of egrets and whistling frogs. He carried her
home across the rooftop, to her bed, to a world no longer real.



"Damn me, sir, I suppose you've heard the talk. I'll tell you I fear
for the worst." Johan Ruyters wiped his mouth with a calloused hand and
shoved his tankard across the table, motioning for a refill. The Great
Cabin of the _Defiance _was a mosaic of flickering shadows, lighted
only by the swaying candle-lantern over the large oak table. "It could
well be the end of Dutch trade in all the English settlements, from
here to Virginia."

"I suppose there's a chance. Who can say?" Winston reached for the
flask of sack and passed it over. He was exhausted, but his mind was
taut with anticipation. Almost ready, he told himself; you'll be gone
before the island explodes. There's only one last thing you need: a
seasoned pilot for Jamaica Bay. "One of the stories I hear is that if
Barbados doesn't swear allegiance to Parliament, there may be a
blockade."

"Aye, but that can't last long. And frankly speaking, it matters little
to me who governs this damned island, Parliament or its own Assembly."
He waved his hand, then his look darkened. "No, it's this word about
some kind of Navigation Act that troubles me."

"You mean the story that Parliament's thinking of passing an Act
restricting trade in all the American settlements to English bottoms?"

"Aye, and let's all pray it's not true. But we hear the damned London
merchants are pushing for it. We've sowed, and now they'd be the ones
to reap."

"What do you think you'll do?"

"Do, sir? I'd say there's little we _can _do. The Low Countries don't
want war with England. Though that's what it all may lead to if London
tries stopping free trade." He glanced around the timbered cabin: there
was a sternchaser cannon lashed to blocks just inside the large windows
aft and a locked rack of muskets and pistols secured forward. Why had
Winston invited him aboard tonight? They had despised each other from
the first. "The better part of our trade in the New World now's with
Virginia and Bermuda, along with Barbados and St. Christopher down here
in the Caribbees. It'll ruin every captain I know if we're barred from
ports in the English settlements."

"Well, the way things look now, you'd probably be wise just to weigh
anchor and make for open sea, before there's any trouble here. Assuming
your sight drafts are all in order. "

"Aye, they're signed. But now I'm wondering if I'll ever see them
settled." He leaned back in his chair and ran his fingers through his
thinning gray hair. "I've finished scrubbing down the _Zeelander _and
started lading in some cotton. This was going to be my best run yet.
God damn Cromwell and his army. As long as the Civil War was going on,
nobody in London took much notice of the Americas."

"True enough. You Hollanders got rich, since there was scarcely any
English shipping. But in a way it'll be your own fault if Barbados has
to knuckle under now to England and English merchants."

"I don't follow you, sir." Ruyters regarded him questioningly.

"It'd be a lot easier for them to stand and fight if they didn't have
these new slaves you sold them."

"That's a most peculiar idea, sir." He frowned. "How do you see that?"

Winston rose and strolled aft to the stern windows, studying the leaded
glass for a moment before unlatching one frame and swinging it out. A
gust of cool air washed across his face. "You Hollanders have sold them
several thousand Africans who'd probably just as soon see the island
turned back to a forest. So they'll be facing the English navy
offshore, with a bunch of African warriors at their backs. I don't see
how they can man both fronts."

"That's a curious bit of speculation, sir. Which I'm not sure I'd be
ready to grant you. But it scarcely matters now." Ruyters stared down
at the table. "So what do you think's likely to happen?"

"My guess is the Assembly'll not surrender the island to Cromwell
without a fight. There's too much royalist sentiment there." He looked
back at Ruyters. "If there's a blockade, or if Cromwell tries to land
English forces, I'd wager they'll call up the militia and shoot back."

"But they've nothing to fight with. Scarcely any ordnance worth the
name."

"That's what I'm counting on." Winston's eyes sobered.

"What do you mean, sir?"

"It's the poor man that remembers best who once lent him a shilling. I
figure that anybody who helps them now will be remembered here in the
days to come, regardless of how this turns out."

"Why in the name of hell would you bother helping them? No man with his
wits about him wants to get caught in this, not if he's looking to his
own interests."

"I'll look to my interests as I see fit." Winston glanced back. "And
you can do the same."

"Aye, to be sure. I intend to. But what would you be doing getting
mixed up in this trouble? There'll be powder and shot spent before it's
over, sir, or I'm not a Christian."

"I figure there's today. And then there's tomorrow, when this island's
going to be a sugar factory. And they'll need shippers. They won't
forget who stood by them. If I pitch in a bit now--maybe help them
fortify the Point, for instance--I'll have first call. I'm thinking of
buying another bottom, just for sugar." He looked at Ruyters and
laughed. "Why should all the new sugar profits go to you damned
Butterboxes?"

"Well, sir, you're not under my command anymore. I can't stop you from
trying." The Dutchman cleared his throat noisily. "But they'd not
forget so soon who's stood by them through all the years. Ask any
planter here and he'll tell you we've kept this island, and all the
rest of the English settlements, from starving for the last twenty
years." He took a swallow from his tankard, then settled it down
thoughtfully. "Though mind you, we needed them too. England had the
spare people to settle the Americas, which the Low Countries never had,
but we've had the bottoms to ship them what they need. It's been a
perfect partnership." He looked back at Winston. "What exactly do you
think you can do, I mean this business about fortifying the Point?"

"Just a little arrangement I'm making with some members of the
Assembly."

"I'm asking you as one gentleman to another, sir. Plain as that."

Winston paused a few moments, then walked back from the window. The
lantern light played across his lined face. "As a gentleman, then.
Between us I'm thinking I'll off-load some of the ordnance on the
_Defiance _and move it up to the Point. I've got twice the cannon on
board that they've got in place there. I figure I might also spare them
a few budge-barrels of powder and some round shot if they need it."

"I suppose I see your thinking." Ruyters frowned and drank again. "But
it's a fool's errand, for all that. Even if they could manage to put up
a fight, how long can they last? They're isolated."

"Who can say? But I hear there's talk in the Assembly about trying to
form an alliance of all the American settlements. They figure Virginia
and Bermuda might join with them. Everybody would, except maybe the
Puritans up in New England, who doubtless can be counted on to side
with the hotheads in Parliament."

"And I say the devil take those New Englanders. They've started
shipping produce in their own bottoms, shutting us out. I've seen their
flags carrying lumber to the Canaries and Madeira; they're even sending
fish to Portugal and Spain now. When a few years past we were all but
keeping them alive. Ten years ago they even made Dutch coin legal
tender in Massachusetts, since we handled the better part of their
trade. But now I say the hell with them." His face turned hopeful. "But
if there was an alliance of the other English settlements, I'll wager
there'd be a chance they might manage to stand up to Cromwell for a
while. Or at least hold out for terms, like you say. They need our
shipping as much as we need them."

"I've heard talk Bermuda may be in favor of it. Nobody knows about
Virginia." Winston drank from his tankard. "But for now, the need's
right here. At least that's what I'm counting on. If I can help them
hold out, they'll remember who stood by them. Anyway, I've got nothing
to lose, except maybe a few culverin."

Ruyters eyed him in silence for a moment. The rhythmic creaking of the
boards sounded through the smoky gloom of the cabin. Finally he spoke.
"Let's be plain. What are they paying you?"

"I told you." Winston reached for the flask. "I've spoken to Bedford,
and I'm planning a deal for sugar contracts. I'll take it out in trade
later."

Ruyters slammed down his own tankard. "God's wounds, they could just as
well have talked to some of us! I'll warrant the Dutch bottoms here've
got enough ordnance to fortify both of the breastworks along the west
coast." He looked up. "There're a good dozen merchantmen anchored in
the bay right now. And we've all got some ordnance. I've even got a
fine set of brass nine-pounders they could borrow."

"I'd as soon keep this an English matter for now. There's no need for
you Dutchmen to get involved." Winston emptied the flask into his
tankard. "The way I see it, I can fortify the breastwork up on the
Point with what I've got on board. It'll help them hold off Cromwell's
fleet for a while, maybe soften the terms." He turned and tossed the
bottle out the open stern window. "Which is just enough to get me
signatures on some contracts. Then I take back the guns and Cromwell
can have the place."

"What the pox, it's a free trade matter, sir. We've all got a stake in
it." Ruyters' look darkened. He thought of the profits he had enjoyed
over the years trading with the English settlements. He'd sold
household wares, cloth, and liquor to colonists in Virginia and the
Caribbees, and he'd shipped back to Europe with furs and tobacco from
North America, cotton and dye woods from the Caribbean. Like all Dutch
fluyts, his ship was specially built to be lightly manned, enabling him
to consistently undercut English shippers. Then too, he and the other
Dutch traders made a science of stowage and took better care of their
cargos. They could always sell cheaper, give longer credits, and offer
lower freight rates than any English trader could. But now that they
had slaves to swap for sugar, there would finally be some real profits.
"I can't speak for the other men here, but it'd be no trouble for me to
lend them a few guns too. . . . And I'd be more than willing to take
payment in sugar contracts. Maybe you could mention it privately to
Bedford. It'd have to be unofficial, if they're going to be using Dutch
guns against the English navy."

"I'm not sure why I'd want to do that."

"As a gentleman, sir. We both have a stake in keeping free trade. Maybe
you could just drop a word to Bedford and ask him to bring it up with
the Assembly. Tell him we might mislay a few culverin, if he could
arrange to have some contracts drawn up."

"What's in it for me?"

"We'll strike an arrangement, sir. Word of honor." Ruyters look
brightened. "To be settled later. When I can return the favor."

"Maybe you can do something for me now . . . if I agree."

"You can name it, sir."

"I've been thinking I could use a good bosun's mate. How about letting
me have that crippled Spaniard on the _Zeelander _if you've still got
him? What's his name . . . the one who had a limp after that fall from
the yardarm when we were tacking in to Nevis?"

"You don't mean Vargas?"

"Armando Vargas, that's the one."

Ruyters squinted through the dim light. "He's one of the handiest lads
aloft I've got, bad leg or no. A first-rate yardman."

"Well, I think I'd like to take him on."

"I didn't know you were short-handed, sir."

"That's my bargain." Winston walked back to the window. "Let me have
him and I'll see what I can do about talking to Bedford."

"I suppose you remember he used to be a navigator of sorts for the
Spaniards. For that matter, I'll wager he knows as much as any man
you're likely to come across about their shipping in the Windward
Passage and their fortifications over there on the Main." Ruyters' eyes
narrowed. "Damn my soul, what the devil are you planning?"

"I can always use a good man." He laughed. "Those are my terms."

"You're a lying rogue, I'll stake my life." He shoved back his chair.
"But I still like the bargain, for it all. You've got a man. Have
Bedford raise our matter with the Assembly."

"I'll see what I can do. Only it's just between us for now, till we see
how many guns they need."

"It goes without saying." Ruyters rose and extended his hand. "So we'll
shake on it. A bargain sealed." He bowed. "Your servant, sir."

Winston pushed open the cabin door and followed him down the
companionway to the waist of the ship. Ruyters' shallop was moored
alongside, its lantern casting a shimmering light across the waves. The
oarsmen bustled to station when they saw him emerge. He bowed again,
then swung heavily down the rope ladder.

Winston stood pensively by the railing, inhaling the moist evening air
and watching as the shallop's lantern slowly faded into the midnight.
Finally he turned and strolled up the companionway to the quarterdeck.

Miss Katherine Bedford should be pleased, he told himself. In any case,
better they borrow Dutch guns than mine. Not that the extra ordnance
will make much difference if Cromwell posts a fleet of warships with
trained gunners. With these planters manning their cannon, the fleet
will make short work of the island.

He started back for the cabin, then paused to watch the moonlight
breaking over the crests and listen to the rhythmic pound of light surf
along the shore. He looked back at the island and asked himself if
Katherine's was a cause worth helping. Not if the Americas end up the
province of a few rich slaveholders--which on Barbados has got to be
sure as the sunrise. So just hold your own course, and let this island
get whatever it deserves.

He glanced over the ship and reflected again on his preparations, for
the hundredth time. It wouldn't be easy, but the plan was coming
together. The sight drafts were still safely locked away in the Great
Cabin, ready for delivery day after tomorrow, when the transfer of the
indentures became official. And the work of outfitting the ship for
transport of men was all but finished. The gun deck had been cleared,
with the spare budge barrels of powder and the auxiliary round shot
moved to the hold, permitting sleeping hammocks to be lashed up for the
new men. Stores of salt fish, cheese, and biscuit had been assembled in
a warehouse facing Carlisle Bay; and two hundred half pikes had been
forged, fitted with staffs, and secured in the fo'c'sle, together with
all of Anthony Walrond's new flintlock muskets.

Everything was ready. And now he finally had a pilot. Armando Vargas
had made Jamaica harbor a dozen times back when he sailed with the
Spaniards; he always liked to brag about it. Once he'd even described
in detail the lookout post on a hilltop somewhere west of Jamaica Bay.
If they could slip some men past those sentries on the hill, the
fortress and town would fall before the Spaniards' militia even
suspected they were around.

Then maybe he would take out time to answer the letter that'd just come
from England.

He turned and nodded to several of the men as he moved slowly back down
the companionway and into the comforting quiet of the cabin. He'd go up
to Joan's tavern after a while, share a last tankard, and listen to
that laugh of hers as he spun out the story of Ruyters and the guns.
But now he wanted solitude. He'd always believed he thought best,
worked best, alone.

He closed the large oak door of the Great Cabin, then walked to the
windows aft and studied the wide sea. The Caribbean was home now, the
only home left. If there was any question of that before, there wasn't
anymore, not after the letter.

He stood a moment longer, then felt for the small key he always kept in
his left breeches pocket. Beneath a board at the side of the cabin was
a movable panel, and behind it a heavy door, double secured. The key
slipped easily into the metal locks, and he listened for the two soft
clicks.

Inside were the sight bills, just visible in the flickering light of
the lantern, and next to them was a stack of shipping invoices. Finally
there was the letter, its outside smeared with grease and the red wax
of its seal cracked and half missing. He slipped it out and unfolded it
along the creases, feeling his anger well up as he settled to read it
one more time.



_Sir (I shall never again have the pleasure to address you as my
obedient son),



After many years of my thinking you perished, there has late come word
you are abroad in the Caribbees, a matter long known to certain others
but until this day Shielded from me, for reasons I now fully
Comprehend. The Reputation I find you have acquired brings me no little
pain, being that (so I am now advis'd) of a Smuggler and Brigand.

_

He paused to glance out the stern window once again, remembering how
the letter had arrived in the mail packet just delivered by the
Rotterdam. It was dated two months past, and it had been deposited at
Joan's tavern along with several others intended for seamen known to
make port in Barbados.



_Though I had these many long years thought you dead by the hands of
the Spaniard, yet I prayed unceasing to God it should not be so. Now,
upon hearing News of what you have become, I am constrained to question
God's will. In that you have brought Ignominy to my name, and to the
name of those other two sons of mine, both Dutiful, I can find no room
for solace, nor can they.



_He found his mind going back to memories of William and James, both
older. He'd never cared much for either of them, and they'd returned
his sentiment in full measure. William was the first--heavy set and
slow of wit, with a noticeable weakness for sherry. Since the eldest
son inherited everything, he had by now doubtless taken charge of the
two thousand acres that was Winston Manor, becoming a country squire
who lived off rents from his tenants. And what of James, that nervous
image of Lord Harold Winston and no less ambitious and unyielding?
Probably by now he was a rich barrister, the profession he'd announced
for himself sometime about age ten. Or maybe he'd stood for Parliament,
there to uphold the now-ended cause of King Charles.



_That a son of mine should become celebrated in the Americas for his
contempt of Law brings me distress beyond the telling of it. Though I
reared you with utmost care and patience, I oft had cause to ponder if
you should ever come to any good end, being always of dissolute and
unruly inclination. Now I find your Profession has been to defraud the
English crown, to which you should be on your knees in Reverence, and
to injure the cause of honest Merchants, who are the lifeblood of this
Christian nation. I am told your name has even reached the ears of His
Majesty, causing him no small Dismay, and adding to his distresses at a
time when the very throne of England is in peril from those who would,
as you, set personal gain above loyalty and obedience. . . .

_

He stopped, not wanting to read more, and crumpled the letter.

That was the end of England. Why would he want to go back? Ever? If
there'd once been a possibility, now it was gone. The time had come to
plant roots in the New World. So what better place than Jamaica? And
damned to England. He turned again to the stern windows, feeling the
end of all the unease that had come and gone over the years. This was
it.

But after Jamaica, what? He was all alone. A white cloud floated past
the moon, with a shape like the beakhead of a ship. For a moment it was
a gargoyle, and then it was the head of a white horse. . . .

He had turned back, still holding the paper, when he noticed the sound
of distant pops, fragile explosions, from the direction of the Point.
He walked, puzzling, back to the safe and was closing the door, the key
already in the lock, when he suddenly stopped.

The Assembly Room was somewhere near Lookout Point, just across the
bay. It was too much of a coincidence.

With a silent curse he reached in and felt until his hand closed around
the leather packet of sight bills, the ones he would exchange for the
indentures. Under them were the other papers he would need, and he took
those too. Then he quickly locked the cabinet and rose to make his way
out to the companionway. As he passed the table, he reached for his
pistols, checking the prime and shoving them into his belt as he moved
out into the evening air.

He moved aft to the quartergallery railing to listen again. Now there
could be no mistaking. Up the hill, behind Lookout Point, there were
flashes of light in the dark. Musket fire.

"What do you suppose it could be, Cap'n?" John Mewes appeared at the
head of the companionway.

"Just pray it's not what I think it is. Or we may need some powder and
shot ourselves." He glanced back toward the hill. "Sound general
muster. Every man on deck."

"Aye." Mewes turned and headed for the quarterdeck.

Even as the bell was still sounding, seamen began to appear through the
open hatch, some half dressed and groggy. Others were mumbling that
their dice game had been interrupted. Winston met them on the main
deck, and slowly they formed a ragged column facing him. Now there was
more gunfire from the hill, unmistakable.

"I'm going to issue muskets." He walked along the line, checking each
seaman personally. Every other man seemed to be tipsy. "To every man
here that's sober. We're going ashore, and you'll be under my command."

"Beggin' yor pardon, Cap'n, what's all that commotion up there apt to
be?" A grizzled seaman peered toward the sounds as he finished securing
the string supporting his breeches.

"It might just be the inauguration of a new Civil War, Hawkins."
Winston's voice sounded down the deck. "So look lively. We collect on
our sight bills. Tonight."



Chapter Seven


The jagged peninsula known as Lookout Point projected off the
southwestern tip of Barbados, separating the windy Atlantic on the
south from the calm of the leeward coast on the west. At its farthest
tip, situated on a stone cliff that rose some hundred feet above the
entrance to Carlisle Bay, were the breastwork and gun emplacements.
Intended for harbor defense only, its few projecting cannon all pointed
out toward the channel leading into the bay, past the line of coral
reefs that sheltered the harbor on its southern side.

From the deck of the _Defiance_, at anchor near the river mouth and
across the bay from the peninsula, the gunfire seemed to be coming from
the direction of the new Assembly Room, a thatched-roof stone building
up the hill beyond the breastwork. Constructed under the authority of
Governor Dalby Bedford, it housed the General Assembly of Barbados,
which consisted of two representatives elected from each of the eleven
parishes on the island. All free men in possession of five acres or
more could vote, ballots being cast at the parish churches.

While Winston unlocked the gun racks in the fo'c'sle and began issuing
the muskets and the bandoliers of powder and shot, John Mewes ordered
the two longboats lashed amidships readied and launched. The seamen
lined up single file at the doorway of the fo'c'sle to receive their
muskets, then swung down the rope ladders and into the boats. Winston
took his place in one and gave command of the other to John Mewes.

As the men strained against the oars and headed across the bay, he
studied the row of cannon projecting out over the moonlit sea from the
top of the breastwork. They've never been used, he thought wryly,
except maybe for ceremonial salutes. That's what they call harbor
defenses! It's a mercy of God the island's so far windward from the
Main that the Spaniards've never troubled to burn the place out.

He sat on the prow of the longboat, collecting his thoughts while he
tasted the air and the scent of the sea. The whitecaps of the bay
slipped past in the moonlight as they steered to leeward of the line of
Dutch merchantmen anchored near the shore. He then noticed a bob of
lanterns on the southeast horizon and realized it was an arriving
merchantman, with a heading that would bring it directly into the
harbor. He watched the lights awhile, marveling at the Dutch trading
zeal that would cause a captain to steer past the reefs into the harbor
in the hours after midnight. He congratulated himself he'd long ago
given up trying to compete head-on with the Hollanders. They
practically owned the English settlements in the Americas. Scarce
wonder Cromwell's first order of business was to be rid of them.

The sound of the tide lapping against the beach as the two longboats
neared the shore beneath the breastwork brought his attention back.
When they scraped into the shallows, he dropped off the prow and waded
through the knee-high surf that chased up the sand in wave after wave.
Ahead the beach glistened white, till it gave way to the rocks at the
base of the Point.

John Mewes puffed along close at his heels, and after him came the
first mate, Dick Hawkins, unshaven but alert, musket at the ready.
Close behind strode tall Edwin Spune, master's mate, a musket in each
hand, followed by the rest. In all, some twenty of Winston's men had
crossed the bay with him. He ordered the longboats beached, then called
the men together and motioned for quiet.

"Are all muskets primed?"

"Aye." Spurre stepped forward, holding his two muskets up as though for
inspection. "An' every man's got an extra bandolier of powder an' shot.
We're ready for whatever the whoresons try." He glanced up the rise,
puzzled, still not understanding why the captain had assembled them.
But Hugh Winston liked having his orders obeyed.

"Good." Winston walked down the line. "Spread out along the shore and
wait. I'm going up to see what the shooting's about. Just stand ready
till you hear from me. But if you see me fire a pistol shot, you be up
that hill like Jack-be-nimble. Is that clear?"

"You mean us against all that bleedin' lot up there?" John Mewes
squinted toward the dark rise. "There's apt to be half their militia up
there, Cap'n, from the sound of it."

"Did I hear you question an order, John? You know ship's rules. They go
for officers too." He turned to the other men. "Should we call a vote
right here?"

"God's life." Mewes pushed forward, remembering Winston's formula for
discipline on the _Defiance_. He didn't even own a cat-o'nine-tails,
the lash used by most ship captains for punishment. He never touched an
offender. He always just put trial and punishment to a show of hands by
the men--whose favorite entertainment was keelhauling any seaman who
disobeyed Captain's orders, lashing a line to his waist and ducking him
under the hull till he was half drowned. "I wasn't doin' no
questioning. Not for a minute. I must've just been mumbling in my
sleep."

"Then try and stay awake. I'm going up there now, alone. But if I need
you, you'd better be there, John. With the men. That's an order."

"Aye." Mewes performed what passed for a salute, then cocked his musket
with a flourish.

Winston loosened the pistols in his belt, checked the packet containing
the sight bills and the other papers he had brought, then headed
directly up the rise. The approach to Lookout Point was deserted, but
up the hill, behind a new stack of logs, he could see the shadowy
outline of a crowd. The barricade, no more than fifty yards from the
Assembly Room, was in the final stages of construction, as men with
torches dragged logs forward. Others, militia officers, were stationed
behind the logs with muskets and were returning pistol fire from the
half-open doorway of the Assembly Room.

Above the din he could hear the occasional shouts of Benjamin Briggs,
who appeared to be in charge. Together with him were the members of the
Council and officers from their regiments. The command of the militia
was restricted to major landholders: a field officer had to own at
least a hundred acres, a captain fifty, a lieutenant twenty-five, and
even an ensign had to have fifteen.

On the barricade were straw-hatted indentures belonging to members of
the Council, armed only with pikes since the planters did not trust
them with muskets. Winston recognized among them many whom he had
agreed to take.

The firing was sputtering to a lull as he approached. Then Briggs
spotted him and yelled out. "You'd best be gone, sir. Before someone in
the Assembly Room gets a mind to put a round of pistol shot in your
breeches."

"I'm not part of your little war."

"That you're decidedly not, sir. So we'll not be requiring your
services here tonight."

"What's the difficulty?" Winston was still walking directly toward
them.

"It's a matter of the safety of Barbados. I've said it doesn't concern
you."

"Those indentures concern me. I don't want them shot."

"Tell that to the Assembly, sir. We came here tonight offering to take
Dalby Bedford under our care, peacefully. To protect him from elements
on the island who're set to disown Parliament. But some of the hotheads
in there mistook our peaceful purpose and opened fire on us."

"Maybe they think they can 'protect' him better than you can." Another
round of fire sounded from the doorway of the Assembly Room and thudded
into the log barricade. When two of the planters cursed and fired back,
the door was abruptly slammed shut.

"It's the Assembly that's usurped rightful rule here, sir, as tonight
should amply show. When they no longer represent the true interests of
Barbados." Briggs glared at him. "We're restoring proper authority to
this island, long overdue."

"You and the Council can restore whatever you like. I'm just here to
take care of my indentures, before you manage to have some of them
killed."

"They're not yours yet, sir. The situation's changed. We're not letting
them go whilst the island's unsettled."

"The only unsettling thing I see here are all those muskets." He
reached into the pocket of his jerkin and lifted out the leather packet
containing the sight drafts. "So we're going to make that transfer,
right now."

"Well, I'm damned if you'll have a single man. This is not the time
agreed." Briggs looked around at the other members of the Council.
Behind them the crowd of indentures had stopped work to listen.

"The sight bills are payable on demand. We've settled the terms, and
I'm officially calling them in." Winston passed over the packet.
"You've got plenty of witnesses. Here're the sight bills. As of now,
the indentures are mine." He pulled a sheaf of papers from the other
pocket of his jerkin. ' 'You're welcome to look over the drafts while I
start checking off the men."

Briggs seized the leather packet and flung it to the ground. Then he
lifted his musket. "These indentures are still under our authority.
Until we say, no man's going to take them. Not even. . ."

A series of musket shots erupted from the window of the Assembly Room,
causing Briggs and the other planters to duck down behind the log
barricade. Winston remained standing as he called out the first name on
the sheet.

"Timothy Farrell."

The red-faced Irishman climbed around Briggs and moved

forward, his face puzzled. He remained behind the pile of logs as he
hunkered down, still holding his half-pike.

"That's my name, Yor Worship. But Master Briggs . . ."

"Farrell, here's the indenture contract we drew up for your transfer."
Winston held out the first paper from the sheaf. "I've marked it paid
and had it stamped. Come and get it and you're free to go."

"What's this, Yor Worship?" He gingerly reached up for the paper and
stared at it in the torchlight, uncomprehending. "I heard you was like
to be buying out my contract. By my reckoning there's two more year
left on it."

"I did just buy it. It's there in your hand. You're a free man."

Farrell sat staring at the paper, examining the stamped wax seal and
attempting to decipher the writing. A sudden silence enveloped the
crowd, punctuated by another round of musket fire from the Assembly
Room. After it died away, Winston continued, "Now Farrell, if you'd
care to be part of an expedition of mine that'll be leaving Barbados in
a few days' time, that's your privilege. Starting tonight, your pay'll
be five shillings a week."

"Beggin' Yor Worship's pardon, I reckon I'm not understandin' what
you've said. You've bought this contract? An' you've already marked it
paid?"

"With those sight bills." He pointed to the packet on the ground beside
Briggs.

Farrell glanced at the leather bundle skeptically. Then he looked back
at Winston. "An' now you're sayin' I'm free?"

"It's stamped on that contract. Have somebody read it if you care to."

"An' I can serve Yor Worship for wage if I like?" His voice began to
rise.

"Five shillings a week for now. Maybe more later, if you . . ."

"Holy Mother Mary an' all the Saints! _I'm free_!" He crumpled the
paper into his pocket, then leaped up as he flung his straw hat into
the air. "Free! I ne'er thought I'd stay breathin' long enough to hear
the word." He glanced quickly at the Assembly Room, then dismissed the
danger as he began to dance beside the logs.



"_At the dirty end o' Dirty Lane_,

_Liv'd a dirty cobbler, Dick Maclane ..."



_"That man still belongs to me." Briggs half cocked his musket as he
rose.

Farrell whirled and brandished his half-pike at the planter. "You can
fry in hell, you pox-rotted bastard. I've lived on your corn mush an'
water for three years, till I'm scarce able to stand. An' sweated sunup
to sundown in your blazin' fields, hoein' your damn'd tobacco, and now
your God-cursed cane. With not a farthing o' me own to show for it, or
a change o' breeches. But His Worship says he's paid me out. An' his
paper says I'm free. That means free as you are, by God. I'll be
puttin' this pike in your belly--by God I will--or any man here, who
says another word against His Worship. I'll serve him as long as I'm
standin', or pray God to strike me dead." He gave another whoop. "Good
Jesus, who's got a thirst! I'm free!"

"Jim Carroll." Winston's voice continued mechanically, sounding above
the din that swept through the indentures.

"Present an' most humbly at Yor Worship's service." A second man
elbowed his way forward through the cluster of Briggs' indentures,
shoving several others out of his path.

"Here's your contract, Carroll. It's been stamped paid and you're free
to go. Or you can serve under me if you choose. You've heard the
terms."

"I'd serve you for a ha'penny a year, Yor Worship." He seized the paper
and gave a Gaelic cheer, a tear lining down one cheek. "I've naught to
show for four years in the fields but aches an' an empty belly. I'll
die right here under your command before I'd serve another minute under
that whoreson."

"God damn you, Winston." Briggs full-cocked his musket with an ominous
click. "If you think I'll . . ."

Carroll whirled and thrust his pike into Briggs' face. "It's free I am,
by God. An' it's me you'll be killin' before you harm a hair o' His
Worship, if I don't gut you first."

Briggs backed away from the pike, still clutching his musket. The other
members of the Council had formed a circle and cocked their guns.

"You don't own these damned indentures yet," Nicholas Whittington
shouted. "We've not agreed to a transfer now."

"You've got your sight drafts. Those were the terms. If you want these
men to stay, tell it to them." He checked the sheaf of papers and
yelled out the next name: "Tom Darcy." As a haggard man in a shabby
straw hat pushed forward, Winston turned back to the huddle that was
the Council. "You're welcome to offer them a wage and see if they'd
want to stay on. Since their contracts are all stamped paid, I don't
have any say in it anymore."

"Well, I have a say in it, sir." Whittington lifted his musket. "I plan
to have an end to this knavery right now, before it gets out of hand.
One more word from you, and it'll be your . . ."

Winston looked up and yelled to the crowd of indentures. "I gather
you've heard who's on the list. If those men'll come up, you can have
your papers. Your contracts are paid, and you're free to go. Any man
who chooses to serve under me can join me here now."

Whittington was knocked sprawling by the surge of the crowd, as straw
hats were flung into the air. A milling mob of indentures waving half-
pikes pressed forward.

Papers from the sheaf in Winston's hand were passed eagerly through the
ranks. The Council and the officers of their militia had drawn together
for protection, still grasping their muskets.

In the confusion no one noticed the shaft of light from the doorway of
the Assembly Room that cut across the open space separating it from the
barricade. One by one the members of the Assembly gingerly emerged to
watch. Leading them was Anthony Walrond, wearing a brocade doublet and
holding a long flintlock pistol, puzzlement in his face.

Briggs finally saw them and whirled to cover the Assemblymen with his
musket. "We say deliver up Bedford or there'll be hell to pay, I swear
it!"

"Put down that musket, you whoreson." Farrell gave a yell and threw
himself across the barrel of the gun, seizing the muzzle and shoving it
in to the dirt. There was a loud report as it discharged, exploding at
the breech and spewing burning powder into the night.

"Christ Almighty." Walrond moved out into the night and several men
from the Assembly trailed after him, dressed in plain doublets and
carrying pistols. "What the devil's this about?"

"Nothing that concerns you." Winston dropped a hand to one of the guns
in his belt. "I'd advise you all to go back inside till I'm finished."

"We were just concluding a meeting of the Assembly, sir." Walrond
examined Winston icily, then glanced toward the men of the Council.
"When these rogues tried to commandeer the room, claiming they'd come
to seize the governor, to 'protect' him. I take it you're part of this
conspiracy."

"I'm here to protect my interests. Which gives me as much right as you
have to be here. I don't recall that you're elected to this body."

"I'm here tonight in an advisory capacity, Captain, not that it's any
of your concern." Walrond glanced back at the others, all warily
holding pistols. "To offer my views regarding the situation in
England." As he spoke Dalby Bedford emerged from the crowd. Walking
behind him was Katherine.

Winston turned to watch, thinking she was even more beautiful than he
had realized before. Her face was radiant, self-assured as she moved
through the dim torchlight in a glistening skirt and full sleeves. She
smiled and pushed toward him.

"Captain Winston, are you to be thanked for all this confusion?"

"Only a part of it, Miss Bedford. I merely stopped by to

enquire about my indentures, since I got the idea some of your
Assemblymen were shooting at them."

Anthony Walrond stared at Katherine. "May I take it you know this man?
It does you no credit, madam, I warrant you." Then he turned and moved
down the path, directly toward Briggs and the members of the Council.
"And I can tell all of you this night is far from finished. There'll be
an accounting here, sirs, you may depend on it. Laws have been
violated."

"You, sir, should know that best of all." Briggs stepped forward and
dropped his hand to the pistol still in his belt. "Since you and this
pack of royalist agitators that calls itself an Assembly would
unlawfully steer this island to ruin. The Council of Barbados holds
that this body deserves to be dissolved forthwith, and new elections
held, to represent the interests of the island against those who'd lead
us into a fool's war with the Commonwealth of England."

"You, sir, speak now in the very same voice as the rebels there. I
presume you'd have this island bow to the criminals in Parliament
who're now threatening to behead our lawful king."

"Gentlemen, please." Dalby Bedford moved between them and raised his
hand. "I won't stand for this wrangling. We all have to try to settle
our differences like Englishmen. I, for one, would have no objection to
inviting the Council to sit with us in the Assembly, have a joint
session, and try to reason out what's the wisest course now."

"I see no reason this body need share a table with a crowd of rebels
who'll not bend a knee to the rightful sovereign of England." Walrond
turned back to the members of the Assembly. "I say you should this very
night draw up a loyalty oath for Barbados. Any man who refuses to swear
fealty to His Majesty should be deported back to England, to join the
traitors who would unlawfully destroy the monarchy."

"No!" Katherine abruptly pushed in front of him. "This island stayed
neutral all through the Civil War. We never took a part, either for
king or Parliament. Why should we take sides now, with the war over and
finished?"

Walrond looked down at her, startled. "Because the time has come to
stand and be counted, Katherine. Why do you suppose? The rebels may
have seized England for now, but that's no reason we in the Americas
have to turn our back on the king."

"But there's another choice." She drew a deep breath. Winston saw
determination in her eyes as she turned to face the men of the
Assembly. "Think about it. We never belonged to England; we belonged to
the Crown. But the monarchy's been abolished and the king's patents
invalidated. I say we should join with the other English settlements
and declare the Americas a new nation. Barbados should lead the way and
declare our own independence."

"That's the damnedest idea I've ever heard." Briggs moved forward,
shaking away the indentures who still crowded around him menacingly.
"If we did that, there'd be war for sure. We've got to stay English, or
Cromwell'll send the army to burn us out." He turned to Walrond. "Rebel
or no, Cromwell represents the might of England. We'd be fools to try
to stand against him. Either for king or for some fool dream of
independence." He looked back at Katherine. "Where'd you get such an
idea, girl? It'd be the end of our hopes for prosperity if we tried
going to war with England. There'd be no room to negotiate."

"You, sir, have no say in this. You're apt to be on trial for treason
before the week's out." Walrond waved his pistol at Briggs, then turned
back to Katherine. "What are you talking about? England is beholden to
her king, madam, much the way, I might remind you, a wife is to her
husband. Or don't you yet understand that? It's our place to revere and
serve the monarchy."

"As far as I'm concerned, the king's only a man. And so's a husband,
sir."

"A wife takes an oath in marriage, madam, to obey her husband. You'd
best remember that." He turned and motioned the members of the Assembly
to gather around him as he stepped over to a large log and mounted it.
"On the subject of obedience, I say again an oath of loyalty to His
Majesty King Charles should be voted in the Barbados Assembly this very
morning. We need to know where this island stands." He stared back at
Dalby Bedford. "Much as a husband would do well to know what he can
expect when he takes a wife."

"You've got no authority to call a vote by the Assembly," Briggs
sputtered. "You're not elected to it." He looked at Walrond, then at
Bedford. "This, by God, was the very thing we came here tonight to head
off."

"You, sir, have no authority to interfere in the lawful processes of
this body." Walrond turned back to the Assembly members, now huddled in
conference.

Winston looked at Katherine and found himself admiring her idealism--
and her brass, openly defying the man she was supposed to marry. She
wanted independence for the Americas, he now realized, while all
Anthony Walrond wanted was to turn Barbados into a government in exile
for the king, maybe to someday restore his fortune in England. She was
an independent woman herself too, make no mistaking. Sir Anthony
Walrond was going to have himself a handful in the future, with the
Commonwealth and with her.

Come to think of it, though, independence wasn't all that bad an idea.
Why the hell not? Damned to England.

"I think there've been enough high-handed attempts to take over this
island for one night." He moved to confront Walrond.

"You have your brass, Captain, to even show your face here." He
inspected Winston with his good eye. "When you pillaged a ship of mine
off Nevis Island, broadcloth and muskets, no more than two years past."

"Now that you've brought it up, what I did was save the lives of some
fifty men who were about to drown for want of a seaworthy longboat.
Since you saved so much money on equipage, I figured you could afford
to compensate me for my pains."

"It was theft, sir, by any law."

"Then the law be hanged."

"Hardly a surprising sentiment, coming from you." Walrond shifted his
pistol toward Winston's direction. "You should be on Tortuga, with the
other rogues of your own stripe, rather than here on Barbados amongst
honest men. Your profession, Captain, has trained you best for the end
of a rope."

"What's yours trained you for?" He stood unmoving. "Get yourself
elected to the Assembly, then make your speeches. I'm tired of hearing
about your king. In truth, I never had a very high opinion of him
myself."

"Back off, sirrah. I warn you now." Walrond pointed his long pistol.
"You're speaking your impertinences to an officer of the king's army.
I've dealt with a few thieves and smugglers in years past, and I just
may decide to mete out some more long-overdue justice here and now."

Dalby Bedford cleared his throat and stepped between them. "Gentlemen,
I think there's been more heat here tonight than need be, all around.
It could be well if we cooled off a day or so. I trust the Assembly
would second my motion for adjournment of this session, till we've had
time to reflect on what's the best course for us. This is scarcely a
light matter. We could be heading into war with England."

"A prospect that does not deter certain of us from acting on principle,
sir." Walrond's voice welled up again. "I demand this Assembly take a
vote right now on . . ."

"You'll vote on nothing, by God," Briggs yelled, then drew his own
pistol. Suddenly a fistfight erupted between two members of the
Assembly, one for and the other opposing the monarchy. Then others
joined in. In the excitement, several pistols were discharged in the
fray.

Good God, Winston thought, Barbados' famous Assembly has been reduced
to this. He noticed absently that the first gray coloring of dawn was
already beginning to appear in the east. It'd been a long night.
What'll happen when day finally comes and news of all this reaches the
rest of the island? Where will it end. . .

"Belay there! Cool down your ordnance!" Above the shouts and bedlam, a
voice sounded from the direction of the shore.

Winston turned to see the light of a swinging sea lantern

approaching up the rise. He recognized the ragged outline of Johan
Ruyters, still in the clothes he had worn earlier that night, puffing
up the hill.

Ruyters topped the rise and surveyed the confusion. His presence seemed
to immediately dampen the melee, as several Assemblymen paused in
embarrassment to stare. The Dutchman walked directly up to Dalby
Bedford and tipped his wide-brimmed hat. "Your servant, sir." Then he
gazed around. "Your most obedient servant, gentlemen, one and all." He
nodded to the crowd before turning back to address Bedford. "Though
it's never been my practice to intrude in your solemn English
convocations, I thought it would be well for you to hear what I just
learned." He drew a deep breath and settled his lantern onto the grass.
"The _Kostverloren_, bound from Amsterdam, has just dropped anchor in
the bay, and Captain Liebergen called us all together in a rare sweat.
He says when dark caught him last evening he was no more than three
leagues ahead of an English fleet."

"Great God help us." Walrond sucked in his breath.

"Aye, that was my thinking as well." Ruyters glanced back. "If I had to
guess, I'd say your English Parliament's sent the navy, gentlemen. So
we may all have to be giving God a hand if we're not to have the harbor
taken by daylight. For once a rumor's proved all too true."

"God's life, how many were sailing?" Bedford whirled to squint toward
the dim horizon.

"His maintopman thinks he may've counted some fifteen sail. Half of
them looked to be merchantmen, but the rest were clearly men-of-war,
maybe thirty guns apiece. We're all readying to weigh anchor and hoist
sail at first light, but it's apt to be too late now. I'd say with the
guns they've got, and the canvas, they'll have the harbor in a bottle
by daybreak."

"I don't believe you." Walrond gazed skeptically toward the east.

"As you will, sir." Ruyters smiled. "But if you'd be pleased to send a
man up to the top of the hill, right over there, I'd wager he just
might be able to spy their tops'ls for himself."

Winston felt the life suddenly flow out of him. It was the end of his
plans. With the harbor blockaded, he'd never be able to sail with the
indentures. He might never sail at all.

"God Almighty, you don't have to send anybody." Bedford was pointing
toward the horizon. "Don't you see it?"

Just beneath the gray cloudbank was an unmistakable string of
flickering pinpoints, mast lights. The crowd gathered to stare in
dismay. Finally Bedford's voice came, hard and determined. "We've got
to meet them. The question is, what're their damned intentions?"

Ruyters picked up his lantern and extinguished it. "By my thinking the
first thing you'd best do is man those guns down there on the Point,
and then make your enquiries. You can't let them into the bay. We've
got shipping there, sir. And a fortune in cargo. There'll be hell to
pay, I promise you, if I lose so much as a florin in goods."

Bedford gazed down the hill, toward the gun emplacements at the ocean
cliff. "Aye, but we don't yet know why the fleet's come. We've only had
rumors."

"At least one of those rumors was based on fact, sir." Briggs had moved
beside them. "I have it on authority, from my broker in London, that an
Act was reported from the Council of State four weeks past to embargo
our shipping till the Assembly votes recognition of the Commonwealth.
He even sent me a copy. And this fleet was already being pulled
together at the time. I don't know how many men-o'-war they've sent,
but I heard the flagship was to be the _Rainbowe_. Fifty guns." He
looked back at the Assembly. "And the surest way to put an end to our
prosperity now would be to resist."

He was rudely shouted down by several Assemblymen, royalists cursing
the Commonwealth. The air came alive with calls for _Defiance_.

"Well, we're going to find out what they're about before we do
anything, one way or the other." Bedford looked around him. "We've got
guns down there in the breastwork. I'd say we can at least keep them
out of the bay for now."

"Not without gunners, you won't." Ruyters' voice was somber. "Who've
you got here? Show me a man who's ever handled a linstock, and I'll
give you leave to hang me. And I'll not be lending you my lads, though
I'd dearly love to. It'd be a clear act of war."

Winston was staring down at the shore, toward his own waiting seamen.
If the English navy entered Carlisle Bay, the first vessel they'd
confiscate would be the _Defiance_.

"God help me." He paused a moment longer, then walked to the edge of
the hill and drew a pistol. The shot echoed through the morning
silence.

The report brought a chorus of yells from the shore. Suddenly a band of
seamen were charging up the hill, muskets at the ready, led by John
Mewes. Winston waited till they topped the rise, then he gestured them
forward. "All gunnery mates report to duty at the breastwork down there
at the Point, on the double." He pointed toward the row of rusty cannon
overlooking the bay. "Master Gunner Tom Canninge's in charge."

Several of the men gave a loose salute and turned to hurry down the
hill. Winston watched them go, then looked back at Bedford. "How much
powder do you have?"

"Powder? I'm not sure anybody knows. We'll have to check the magazine
over there." Bedford gestured toward a low building situated well
behind the breastwork, surrounded by its own stone fortification. "I'd
say there's likely a dozen barrels or so."

Winston glanced at Mewes. "Go check it, John. See if it's usable."

"Aye." Mewes passed his musket to one of the French seamen and was
gone.

"And that rusty pile of round shot I see down there by the breastwork?
Is that the best you've got?"

"That's all we have on the Point. There's more shot at Jamestown and
over at Oistins."

"No time." He motioned to Ruyters. "Remember our agreement last night?"

"Aye, and I suppose there's no choice. I couldn't make open sea in time
now anyway." The Dutchman's eyes were rueful. "I'll have some round
shot sent up first, and then start offloading my nine-pound demi-
culverin."

"All we need now is enough shot to make them think we've got a decent
battery up here. We can bring up more ordnance later."

"May I remind you," Bedford interjected, "we're not planning to start
an all-out war. We just need time to try and talk reason with
Parliament, to try and keep what we've got here."

Winston noticed Briggs and several members of the Council had convened
in solemn conference. If an attack comes, he found himself wondering,
which of them will be the first to side with Parliament's forces and
betray the island?

"There's twenty budge-barrels, Cap'n." Mewes was returning. "I gave it
a taste an' I'll wager it's dry and usable."

Winston nodded, then motioned toward Edwin Spurre. "Have the men here
carry five barrels on down to the Point, so the gunnery mates can start
priming the culverin. Be sure they check all the touch holes for rust."

"Aye." Spurre signaled four of the seamen to follow him as he started
off toward the powder magazine. Suddenly he was surrounded and halted
by a group of Irish indentures.

Timothy Farrell approached Winston and bowed. "So please Yor Worship,
we'd like to be doin' any carryin' you need here. An' we'd like to be
the ones meetin' them on the beaches."

"You don't have to involve yourself, Farrell. I'd say you've got little
enough here to risk your life for."

"Aye, Yor Worship, that's as it may be. But are we to understand that
fleet out there's been sent by that whoreson archfiend Oliver
Cromwell?"

"That's what we think now."

"Then beggin' Yor Worship's pardon, we'd like to be the men

to gut every scum on board. Has Yor Worship heard what he did at
Drogheda?"

"I heard he sent the army."

"Aye. When Ireland refused to bow to his Parliament, he claimed we were
Papists who had no rights. He led his Puritan troops to Irish soil, Yor
Worship, and laid siege to our garrison-city of Drogheda. Then he let
his soldiers slaughter our people. Three thousand men, women, and
children. An' for it, he was praised from the Puritan pulpits in
England." Farrell paused to collect himself. "My cousin died there, Yor
Worship, wi' his Meggie. An' one of Cromwell's brave Puritan soldiers
used their little daughter as a shield when he helped storm an' burn
the church, so they could murder the priests. Maybe that heretic
bastard thinks we've not heard about it here." He bowed again. "We
don't know enough about primin' and firin' cannon, but wi' Yor
Worship's leave, we'd like to be the ones carryin' all the powder and
shot for you."

"Permission granted." Winston thumbed them in the direction of Spurre.

The armada of sails was clearly visible on the horizon now, and rapidly
swelling. As the first streaks of dawn showed across the waters,
English colors could be seen on the flagship. It was dark brown and
massive, with wide cream-colored sails. Now it had put on extra canvas,
pulling away from the fleet, bearing down on the harbor.

Winston studied the man-of-war, marveling at its majesty and size. How
ironic, he thought. England's never sent a decent warship against the
Spaniards in the New World, even after they burned out helpless
settlements. But now they send the pick of the navy, against their own
people.

"Damned to them, that is the _Rainbowe_." Bedford squinted at the
ship. "She's a first-rank man-of-war, fifty guns. She was King Charles'
royal ship of war. She'll transport a good two hundred infantry."

Winston felt his stomach tighten. Could it be there'd be more

than a blockade? Had Parliament really sent the English army to invade
the island?

"I'm going down to the breastwork." He glanced quickly at Katherine,
then turned and began to make his way toward the gun emplacements.
Edwin Spurre and the indentures were moving slowly through the early
half-light, carrying kegs of powder.

"I think we can manage with these guns, Cap'n." Canninge was standing
by the first cannon, his long hair matted against the sweat on his
forehead. "I've cleaned out the touch holes and checked the charge
delivered by the powder ladle we found. They're eighteen-pounders,
culverin, and there's some shot here that ought to serve."

"Then prime and load them. On the double."

"Aye."

Using a long-handled ladle, he and the men began to shove precisely
measured charges of powder, twenty pounds, into the muzzle of each
cannon. The indentures were heaving round shot onto their shoulders and
stacking piles beside the guns.

Winston watched the approaching sail, wondering how and why it had
suddenly all come to this. Was he about to be the first man in the
Americas to fire a shot declaring war against England? He looked around
to see Dalby Bedford standing behind him, with Katherine at his side.

"You know what it means if we open fire on the _Rainbowe_? I'd guess
it's Cromwell's flagship now."

"I do indeed. It'd be war. I pray it'll not come to that. I'd like to
try and talk with them first, if we can keep them out of the bay." The
governor's face was grim. "Try once across her bow. Just a warning.
Maybe she'll strike sail and let us know her business."

"Care to hold one last vote in the Assembly about this, before we fire
the first shot? Something tells me it's not likely to be the last."

"We've just talked. There's no need for a vote. No man here, royalist
or no, is going to stand by and just hand over this place.

We'll negotiate, but we'll not throw up our hands and surrender.
There's too much at stake."

Winston nodded and turned to Canninge. "They're pulling close to range.
When you're ready, lay a round across her bow. Then hold for orders."

"Aye." Canninge smiled and pointed toward a small gun at the end of the
row, its dark brass glistening in the early light. "I'll use that
little six-pounder. We'll save the eighteen-pounders for the work to
come.

"Have you got range yet?"

"Give me a minute to set her, and I'll wager I can lay a round shot two
hundred yards in front of the bow." He turned and barked an order.
Seamen hauled the tackles, rolling the gun into position. Then they
levered the breech slightly upward to lower the muzzle, jamming a
wooden wedge between the gun and the wooden truck to set it in
position.

Winston took a deep breath, then glanced back at Bedford. "This may be
the most damn foolhardy thing that's ever been done."

Bedford's voice was grave. "It's on my authority."

He turned back to Canninge. "Fire when ready."

The words were swallowed in the roar as the gunner touched a piece of
burning matchrope to the cannon's firing hole. Dark smoke boiled up
from the muzzle, acrid in the fresh morning air. Moments later a plume
erupted off the bow of the English man-of-war.

Almost as though the ship had been waiting, it veered suddenly to port.
Winston realized the guns had already been run out. They'd been
prepared. Puffs of black smoke blossomed out of the upper gun deck, and
moments later a line of plumes shot up along the surf just below the
Point.

"They fired when they dipped into a swell." Canninge laughed. "English
gunnery still disappoints me."

A fearful hush dropped over the crowd, and Winston stood listening as
the sound of the guns echoed over the Point. "They probably don't
suspect we've got any trained gunners up here this morning. Otherwise
they'd never have opened fire when they're right under our ordnance."
He glanced at Bedford. "You've got their reply. What's yours?"

"I suppose there's only one answer." The governor looked back and
surveyed the waiting members of the Assembly. Several men removed their
hats and began to confer together. Moments later they looked up and
nodded. He turned back. "What can you do to her?"

"Is that authority to fire?"

"Full authority."

"Then get everybody back up the hill. Now." He watched as Bedford gave
the order and the crowd began to quickly melt away. The Irish
indentures waited behind Winston, refusing to move. He gestured a few
of the men forward, to help set the guns, then turned back to Canninge.

"Is there range?"

"Aye, just give me a minute to set the rest of these culverin."

Winston heard a rustle of skirts by his side and knew Katherine was
standing next to him. He reached out and caught her arm. "You've got a
war now, Katherine, whether you wanted it or not. It'll be the first
time a settlement in the Americas has ever fired on an English ship. I
guess that's the price you're going to have to pay for staying your own
master. But I doubt you'll manage it."

"We just might." She reached and touched the hand on her arm. Then she
turned and looked out to sea. "We have to try."

Winston glanced toward the guns. Canninge and the men had finished
turning them on the _Rainbowe_, using long wooden handspikes. Now they
were adjusting the wooden wedge at the breech of each gun to set the
altitude. "How does it look?"

"I know these eighteen-pounders, Cap'n, like I was born to one. At this
range I could line-of-sight these whoresons any place you like."

" How about just under the lower gun deck? At the water line? The
first round better count."

"Aye, that's what I've set them for." He grinned and reached for a
burning linstock. "I didn't figure we was up here to send a salute."



Book Two



REVOLUTION



Chapter Eight


The Declaration



_"We find these Acts of the English Parliament to oppose the freedom,
safety, and well-being of this island. We, the present inhabitants of
Barbados, with great danger to our persons, and with great charge and
trouble, have settled this island in its condition and inhabited the
same, and shall we therefore be subjected to the will and command of
those that stay at home? Shall we be bound to the government and
lordship of a Parliament in which we have no Representatives or persons
chosen by us?



It is alleged that the inhabitants of this island have, by cunning and
force, usurped a power and formed an independent Government. In truth
the Government now used among us is the same that hath always been
ratified, and doth everyway agree with the first settlement and
Government in this place.



Futhermore, by the above said Act all foreign nations are forbidden to
hold any correspondency or traffick with the inhabitants of this
island; although all the inhabitants know very well how greatly we have
been obliged to the Dutch for our subsistence, and how difficult it
would have been for us, without their assistance, ever to have
inhabited these places in the Americas, or to have brought them into
order. We are still daily aware what necessary comfort they bring us,
and that they do sell their commodities a great deal cheaper than our
own nation will do. But this comfort would be taken from us by those
whose Will would be a Law unto us. However, we declare that we will
never be so unthankful to the Netherlanders for their former help and
assistance as to deny or forbid them, or any other nation, the freedom
of our harbors, and the protection of our Laws, by which they may
continue, if they please, all freedom of commerce with us.

Therefore, we declare that whereas we would not be wanting to use all
honest means for obtaining a continuance of commerce, trade, and good
correspondence with our country, so we will not alienate ourselves from
those old heroic virtues of true Englishmen, to prostitute our freedom
and privileges, to which we are born, to the will and opinion of
anyone; we can not think that there are any amongst us who are so
simple, or so unworthily minded, that they would not rather choose a
noble death, than forsake their liberties.



The General Assembly of Barbados"

_



Sir Edmond Calvert studied the long scrolled document in the light of
the swinging ship's lantern, stroking his goatee as he read and reread
the bold ink script. "Liberty" or "death."

A memorable choice of words, though one he never recalled hearing
before. Would the actions of these planters be as heroic as their
rhetoric?

Or could the part about a "noble death" be an oblique reference to King
Charles' bravery before the executioner's axe? It had impressed all
England. But how could they have heard? The king had only just been
beheaded, and word could scarcely have yet reached the Barbados
Assembly.

One thing was clear, however: Barbados' Assembly had rebelled against
the Commonwealth. It had rejected the authority of Parliament and
chosen to defy the Navigation Act passed by that body to assert
England's economic control of its settlements in the New World.

Wearily he settled the paper onto the table and leaned back in his sea
chair, passing his eyes around the timbered cabin and letting his gaze
linger on a long painting of Oliver Cromwell hanging near the door. The
visage had the intensity of a Puritan zealot, with pasty cheeks, heavy-
lidded eyes, and the short, ragged hair that had earned him and all his
followers the sobriquet of "Roundhead." He had finally executed the
king. England belonged to Cromwell and his Puritan Parliament now,
every square inch.

Calvert glanced back at the Declaration, now lying next to his sheathed
sword and its wide shoulder strap. England might belong to Parliament,
he told himself, but the Americas clearly didn't. The tone of the
document revealed a stripe of independence, of courage he could not
help admiring.

And now, to appease Cromwell, I've got to bludgeon them into
submission. May God help me.

The admiral of the fleet was a short stocky Lincolnshire man, who wore
the obligatory ensemble of England's new Puritan leadership: black
doublet with wide white collar and cuffs. A trim line of gray hair
circled his bald pate, and his face was dominated by a heavy nose too
large for his sagging cheeks. In the dull light of the lantern his thin
goatee and moustache looked like a growth of pale foliage against his
sallow skin.

His father, George Calvert, had once held office in the Court of King
Charles, and for that reason he had himself, many years past, received
a knighthood from the monarch. But Edmond Calvert had gone to sea
early, had risen through merit, and had never supported the king. In
fact, he was one of the few captains who kept his ship loyal to
Parliament when the navy defected to the side of Charles during the
war. In recognition of that, he had been given charge of transporting
Cromwell's army to Ireland, to suppress the rebellion there, and he
bore the unmistakably resigned air of a man weary of wars and fighting.

The voyage out had been hard, for him as well as for the men, and
already he longed to have its business over and done, to settle down to
a table covered not with contentious proclamations but spilling over
with rabbit pies, blood puddings, honeyed ham. Alas, it would not soon
be. Not from the sound of the island's Declaration.

He lowered the wick of the lantern, darkening the shadows across the
center table of the Great Cabin, and carefully rolled the document back
into a scroll. Then he rose and moved toward the shattered windows of
the stern to catch a last look at the island before it was mantled in
the quick tropical night.

As he strode across the wide flooring-planks of the cabin, he carefully
avoided the remaining shards of glass, mingled with gilded splinters,
that lay strewn near the windows. Since all able-bodied seamen were
still needed to man the pumps and patch the hull along the waterline,
he had prudently postponed the repairs of his own quarters. As he
looked about the cabin, he reminded himself how lucky he was to have
been on the quarterdeck, away from the flying splinters, when the
shelling began.

The first volley from the Point had scored five direct hits along the
portside. One English seaman had been killed outright, and eleven
others wounded, some gravely. With time only for one answering round,
he had exposed the Rainbowe' s stern to a second volley from the
breastwork on the Point while bringing her about and making for open
sea. That had slammed into the ship's gilded poop, destroying the
ornate quartergallery just aft of the Great Cabin, together with all
the leaded glass windows.

The island was considerably better prepared than he had been led to
believe. Lord Cromwell, he found himself thinking, will not be pleased
when he learns of the wanton damage Barbados' rebels have wreaked on
the finest frigate in the English navy.

Through the ragged opening he could look out unobstructed onto the
rising swells of the Caribbean. A storm was brewing out to sea, to add
to the political storm already underway on the island. High, dark
thunderheads had risen up in the south, and already spatters of heavy
tropical rain ricocheted off the shattered railing of the
quartergallery. The very air seemed to almost drip with wetness. He
inhaled deeply and asked himself again why he had agreed to come out to
the Americas. He might just as easily have retired his command and
stayed home. He had earned the rest.

Edmond Calvert had served the Puritan side in the war faithfully for a
decade, and over the past five years he had been at the forefront of
the fighting. In reward he had been granted the command of the boldest
English military campaign in history.

Oliver Cromwell was nothing if not audacious. Having executed the king,
he had now conceived a grand assault on Spain's lands in the New World.
The plan was still secret, code named Western Design: its purpose,
nothing less than the seizure of Spain's richest holdings. Barbados,
with its new sugar wealth, would someday be merely a small part of
England's new empire in the Americas, envisioned by Cromwell as
reaching from Massachusetts to Mexico to Brazil.

But first, there was the small matter of bringing the existing
settlements in the Americas back into step.

He had never been sure he had the stomach for the task. Now, after
realizing the difficulties that lay ahead in subduing this one small
island, he questioned whether he wanted any part of it.

He swabbed his brow, clammy in the sweltering heat, and wondered if all
the islands of the Caribbees were like this.

Doubtless as bad or worse, he told himself in dismay. He had seen and
experienced Barbados only for a day, but already he had concluded it
was a place of fierce sun and half-tamed forest, hot and miserable, its
very air almost a smoky green. There was little sign among the
thatched-roof shacks along the shore of its reputed great wealth. Could
it be the stories at home were gross exaggerations? Or deliberate lies?
It scarcely mattered now. Barbados had to be reclaimed. There was no
option.

On his left lay the green hills of the island, all but obscured in
sudden sheets of rain; on his right the line of English warships he had
ordered positioned about the perimeter of Carlisle Bay, cannons run out
and primed. He had stationed them there, in readiness, at mid-morning.
Then, the siege set, he had summoned his vice admiral and the other
commanders to a council on board the _Rainbowe_.

They had dined on the last remaining capons and drawn up the terms of
surrender, to be sent ashore by longboat. The island was imprisoned and
isolated. Its capitulation, they told each other, was merely a matter
of time.

Except that time would work against the fleet too, he reminded himself.
Half those aboard were landsmen, a thrown-together infantry assembled
by Cromwell, and the spaces below decks were already fetid, packed with
men too sick and scurvy-ravished to stir. Every day more bodies were
consigned to the sea. If the island could not be made to surrender in a
fortnight, two at most, he might have few men left with the strength to
fight.

The Declaration told him he could forget his dream of an easy
surrender. Yet he didn't have the men and arms for a frontal assault.
He knew it and he wondered how long it would take the islanders to
suspect it as well. He had brought a force of some eight hundred men,
but now half of them were sick and useless, while the island had a free
population of over twenty thousand and a militia said to be nearly
seven thousand. Worst of all, they appeared to have first-rate gunners
manning their shore emplacements.

Barbados could not be recovered by strength of arms; it could only be
frightened, or lured, back into the hands of England.

A knock sounded on the cabin door and he gruffly called permission to
enter. Moments later the shadow moving toward him became James Powlett,
the young vice admiral of the fleet.

"Your servant, sir." Powlett removed his hat and brushed at its white
plume as he strode gingerly through the cabin, picking his way around
the glass. He was tall, clean-shaven, with hard blue eyes that never
quite concealed his ambition. From the start he had made it no secret
he judged Edmond Calvert too indecisive for the job at hand. "Has the
reply come yet? I heard the rebels sent out a longboat with a packet."

"Aye, they've replied. But I warrant the tune'll not be to your
liking." Calvert gestured toward the Declaration on the table as he
studied Powlett, concerned how long he could restrain the vice
admiral's hot blood with cool reason. "They've chosen to defy the rule
of Parliament. And they've denounced the Navigation Acts, claiming they
refuse to halt their trade with the Dutchmen."

"Then we've no course but to show them how royalist rebels are
treated."

"Is that what you'd have us do?" The admiral turned back to the window
and stared at the rain-swept bay. "And how many men do you think we
could set ashore now? Three hundred? Four? That's all we'd be able to
muster who're still strong enough to lift a musket or a pike. Whilst
the island's militia lies in wait for us--God knows how many thousand-
men used to this miserable heat and likely plump as partridges."

"Whatever we can muster, I'll warrant it'll be enough. They're raw
planters, not soldiers." Powlett glanced at the Declaration, and
decided to read it later. There were two kinds of men in the world, he
often asserted: those who dallied and discussed, and those who acted.
"We should ready an operation for tomorrow morning and have done with
letters and declarations. All we need do is stage a diversion here in
the harbor, then set men ashore up the coast at Jamestown."

Calvert tugged at his wisp of a goatee and wondered momentarily how he
could most diplomatically advise Powlett he was a hotheaded fool. Then
he decided to dispense with diplomacy. "Those 'raw planters,' as you'd
have them, managed to hole this flagship five times from their battery
up there on the Point. So what makes you think they couldn't just as
readily turn back an invasion? And if they did, what then, sir?" He
watched Powlett's face harden, but he continued. "I can imagine no
quicker way to jeopardize what little advantage we might have. And that
advantage, sir, is they still don't know how weak we really are. We've
got to conserve our strength, and try to organize our support on the
island. We need to make contact with any here who'd support Parliament,
and have them join with us when we land."

The question now, he thought ruefully, is how much support we actually
have.

Sir Edmond Calvert, never having been convinced that beheading the
lawful sovereign of England would be prudent, had opposed it from the
start. Events appeared to have shown him right. Alive, King Charles had
been reviled the length of the land for his arrogance and his Papist
sympathies; dead, you'd think him a sovereign the equal of Elizabeth,
given the way people suddenly began eulogizing him, that very same day.
His execution had made him a martyr. And if royalist sentiment was
swelling in England, in the wake of his death, how much more might
there be here in the Americas--now flooded with refugees loyal to the
monarchy.

He watched his second-in-command slowly redden with anger as he
continued, "I tell you we can only reclaim this island if it's divided.
Our job now, sir, is to reason first, and only then resort to arms. We
have to make them see their interests lie with the future England can
provide."

"Well, sir, if you'd choose that tack, then you can set it to the test
quick enough. What about those men who've been swimming out to the
ships all day, offering to be part of the invasion? I'd call that
support."

"Aye, it gave me hope at first. Then I talked with some of them, and
learned they're mostly indentured servants. They claimed a rumor's
going round the island that we're here to set them free. For all they
care, we could as well be Spaniards." Calvert sighed. "I asked some of
them about defenses on the island, and learned nothing I didn't already
know. So I sent them back ashore, one and all. What we need now are
fresh provisions, not more mouths to feed."

That's the biggest question, he told himself again. Who'll be starved
out first: a blockaded island or a fleet of ships with scarcely enough
victuals to last out another fortnight?

He turned back to the table, reached for the Declaration, and shoved it
toward Powlett. "I think you'd do well to peruse this, sir. There's a
tone of _Defiance_ here that's unsettling. I don't know if it's
genuine, or a bluff. It's the unknowns that trouble me now, the damned
uncertainties."

Those uncertainties, he found himself thinking, went far beyond
Barbados. According to the first steps of Cromwell's plan, after this
centerpiece of the Caribbees had been subdued, part of the fleet was to
continue on to any other of the settlements that remained defiant. But
Cromwell's advisors felt that would probably not be necessary: after
Barbados acknowledged the Commonwealth, the rest of the colonies were
expected to follow suit. Then the Western Design could be set into
motion, with Calvert's shipboard infantry augmented by fighting men
from the island.

The trouble with Cromwell's scheme, he now realized, was that it worked
both ways. If Barbados succeeded in defying England's new government,
then Virginia, Bermuda, the other

islands of the Caribbees, all might also disown the Commonwealth. There
even was talk they might try attaching themselves to Holland. It would
be the end of English taxes and trade anywhere in the Americas except
for that scrawny settlement of fanatic Puritans up in "New England."
There would surely be no hope for the Western Design to succeed, and
Edmond Calvert would be remembered as the man who lost England's
richest lands.

While Powlett studied the Declaration, skepticism growing on his face,
Calvert turned back to the window and stared at the rainswept harbor,
where a line of Dutch merchant fluyts bobbed at anchor.

Good God. That's the answer. Maybe we can't land infantry, but we most
assuredly can go in and take those damned Dutchmen and their cargo.
They're bound to have provisions aboard. It's our best hope for keeping
up the blockade. And taking them will serve another purpose, too. It'll
send the Commonwealth's message loud and clear to all Holland's
merchants: that trade in English settlements is for England.

"There's presumption here, sir, that begs for a reply." The vice
admiral tossed the Declaration back onto the table. "I still say the
fittest answer is with powder and shot. There's been enough paper sent
ashore already."

"I'm still in command, Mr. Powlett, whether you choose to approve or
no. There'll be no more ordnance used till we're sure there's no other
way." He walked back to the table and slumped wearily into his chair.
Already waiting in front of him were paper and an inkwell. What, he
asked himself, would he write? How could he describe the bright new
future that awaited a full partnership between England and these
American settlers?

The colonies in the Caribbees and along the Atlantic seaboard were
merely England's first foothold in the New World. Someday they would be
part of a vast empire stretching the length of the Americas. The
holdings of Spain would fall soon, and after that England would likely
declare war against Holland and take over Dutch holdings as well. There
was already talk of that in London. The future was rich and wide, and
English.

I just have to make them see the future. A future of partnership, not
_Defiance_; one that'll bring wealth to England and prosperity to her
colonies. They have to be made to understand that this Declaration is
the first and last that'll ever be penned in the Americas.

He turned and dismissed Powlett with a stiff nod. Then he listened a
moment longer to the drumbeat of tropical rain on the deck above. It
sounded wild now, uncontrollable, just like the spirits of nature he
sensed lurking above the brooding land mass off his portside bow. Would
this dark, lush island of the Caribbees harken to reason? Or would it
foolishly choose to destroy itself with war?

He sighed in frustration, inked his quill, and leaned forward to write.



The Assembly Room was crowded to capacity, its dense, humid air rank
with sweating bodies. Above the roar of wind and rain against the
shutters, arguments sounded the length of the long oak table. Seated
down one side and around the end were the twenty-two members of the
Assembly; across from them were the twelve members of the Council. At
the back of the room milled others who had been invited. Winston was
there, along with Anthony Walrond and Katherine.

Dalby Bedford was standing by the window, holding open the shutters and
squinting through the rain-swept dusk as he studied the mast lights of
the warships encircling the harbor. He wiped the rain and sweat from
his face with a large handkerchief, then turned and walked back to his
chair at the head of the table.

"Enough, gentlemen. We've all heard it already." He waved his hand for
quiet. "Let me try and sum up. Our Declaration has been delivered,
which means we've formally rejected all their terms as they now stand.
The question before us tonight is whether we try and see if there's
room for negotiation, or whether we refuse a compromise and finish
preparing to meet an invasion."

Katherine listened to the words and sensed his uneasiness. She knew
what his real worries were: how long would it be before the awkward
peace between the Council and the Assembly fell apart in squabbling?
What terms could the admiral of the fleet offer that would split the
island, giving enough of the planters an advantage that they would
betray the rest? Who would be the first to waver?

The opening terms sent ashore by Edmond Calvert had sent a shock wave
across Barbados--its standing Assembly and Council were both to be
dissolved immediately. In future, England's New World settlements would
be governed through Parliament. A powerless new Council would be
appointed from London, and the Assembly, equally impotent, would
eventually be filled by new elections scheduled at the pleasure of
Commons. Added to that were the new "Navigation Acts," bringing high
English prices and shipping fees. The suddenly ripening plum of the
Americas would be plucked.

The terms, signed by the admiral, had been ferried ashore by longboat
and delivered directly to Dalby Bedford at the compound. Members of
Council and the Assembly had already been gathering in the Assembly
Room by then, anxious to hear the conditions read.

Katherine remembered the worry on the governor's face as he had
finished dressing to go down and read the fleet's ultimatum. "The first
thing I have to do is get them to agree on something, anything. If they
start quarreling again, we're good as lost."

"Then try to avoid the question of recognizing Parliament." She'd
watched him search for his plumed hat and rose to fetch it from the
corner stand by the door. "I suspect most of the Council would be
tempted to give in and do that, on the idea it might postpone a fight
and give them time to finish this year's sugar while they appeal to
Parliament to soften the terms."

"Aye. The sugar's all they care about. That's why I think we best go at
it backwards." He'd reached for his cane and tested it thoughtfully
against the wide boards of the floor. "I think I'll start by raising
that business in the Navigation Acts about not letting the Dutchmen
trade. Not a man in the room'll agree to that, not even the Council.
I'll have them vote to reject those, then see if that'll bring us
enough unity to proceed to the next step."

Just as he had predicted, the Council and the Assembly had voted
unanimously to defy the new Navigation Acts. They could never endure an
English stranglehold on island commerce, regardless of the other
consequences.

They had immediately drafted their own reply to the admiral's terms, a
Declaration denouncing them and refusing to comply, and sent it back to
the fleet. The question left unresolved, to await this evening's
session, was whether they should agree to negotiate with Parliament at
all. . . .

"I say there's nothing to negotiate." Benjamin Briggs rose to his feet
and faced the candle-lit room. "If we agreed to talk, it'd be the same
as recognizing Parliament."

"Are you saying the Council's decided to oppose recognition?" Bedford
examined him in surprise. Perhaps the business about dissolving the
Council had finally made an impression after all.

"Unalterably, sir. We've talked it over, and we're beginning to think
this idea of independence that came up a while back could have some
merit." Briggs gazed around the room. "I'll grant I was of a different
mind before we heard the terms. But now I say we stand firm. If we bow
to the rule of Parliament, where we've got no representation, we'll
never be rid of these Navigation Acts. And that's the end of free
trade, free markets. We'd as well be slaves ourselves." He pushed back
his black hat, revealing a leathery brow furrowed by the strain. "I'll
wager Virginia will stand with us when their time comes. But the
fleet's been sent here first, so for now we'll have to carry the burden
of resistance ourselves, and so be it. Speaking for the Council, you
know we've already ordered our militia out. They're to stay mustered
till this thing's finished. We'd have the rest of the island's militia
called up now, those men controlled by the Assembly, and have them on
the beaches by daybreak."

Dalby Bedford looked down the line of faces and knew he had gained the
first step. The Council was with him. But now, he wondered suddenly,
what about the Assembly?

As an interim measure, eight hundred men had already been posted along
the western and southern shorelines, militia from the regiments
commanded by the members of the Council. The small freeholders had not
yet mustered. Many of the men with five-acre plots were already voicing
reservations about entering an all-out war with England, especially
when its main purpose seemed to be preserving free markets for the big
plantation owners' sugar.

"I think it's time we talked about cavalry." Nicholas Whittington
joined in, wiping his beard as he lifted his voice above the din of
wind and rain. "I'd say there's apt to be at least four hundred horses
on the island that we could pull together." He glared pointedly across
the table at the Assemblymen, brown-faced men in tattered waistcoats.
"That means every horse, in every parish. We have to make a show of
force if we're to negotiate from strength. I propose we make an
accounting, parish by parish. Any man with a nag who fails to bring it
up for muster should be hanged for treason."

As she watched the members of the Assembly start to mumble uneasily,
Katherine realized that a horse represented a sizable investment for
most small freeholders. How much use would they be anyway, she found
herself wondering. The horses on the island were mostly for pulling
plows. And the "cavalry" riding them would be farmers with rusty pikes.

As the arguing in the room continued, she found herself

thinking about Hugh Winston. The sight of him firing down on the
English navy through the mists of dawn had erased all her previous
contempt. Never before had she seen a man so resolute. She remembered
again the way he had taken her arm, there at the last. Why had he done
it?

She turned to study him, his lined face still smeared with oily traces
of powder smoke, and told herself they were a matched pair. She had
determination too. He'd soon realize that, even if he didn't now.

At the moment he was deep in a private conference with Johan Ruyters,
who had asked to be present to speak for Dutch trading interests. The
two of them had worked together all day, through the sultry heat that
always preceded a storm. Winston and his men had helped heave the heavy
Dutch guns onto makeshift barges and ferry them ashore, to be moved up
the coast with ox-drawn wagons. Now he looked bone tired. She could
almost feel the ache he must have in his back.

As she stood studying Winston, her thoughts wandered again to Anthony.
He had worked all day too, riding along the shore and reviewing the
militia deployed to defend key points along the coast.

What was this sudden ambivalence she felt toward him? He was tall, like
Winston, and altogether quite handsome. More handsome by half than Hugh
Winston, come to that. No, it was something about Winston's manner that
excited her more than Anthony did. He was . . . yes, he was dangerous.

She laughed to realize she could find that appealing. It violated all
the common sense she'd so carefully cultivated over the years. Again
she found herself wondering what he'd be like as a lover. . . .

"And, sir, what then? After we've offered up our horses and our muskets
and servants for your militia?" One of the members of the Assembly
suddenly rose and faced the Council. It was John Russell, a tall,
rawboned freeholder who held fifteen acres on the north side. "Who's to
protect our wives and families after that?" He paused nervously to
clear his throat and peered down the table. "To be frank, gentlemen,
we're beginning to grow fearful of all these Africans that certain of
you've bought and settled here now. With every white man on the island
mustered and on the coast, together with all our horses and our
muskets, we'll not have any way to defend our own if these new slaves
decide to stage a revolt. And don't say it can't happen. Remember that
rising amongst the indentures two years ago. Though we promptly hanged
a dozen of the instigators and brought an end to it, we've taught no
such lesson to these blacks. If they were to start something, say in
the hills up in mid-island, we'd be hard pressed to stop them from
slaughtering who they wished with those cane knives they use." He
received supportive nods from several other Assemblymen. "We'd be
leaving ourselves defenseless if we mustered every able-bodied man and
horse down onto the shore."

"If that's all that's troubling you, then you can ease your minds."
Briggs pushed back his hat and smiled. "All the blacks've been confined
to quarters, to the man, for the duration. Besides, they're scattered
over the island, so there's no way they can organize anything. There's
no call for alarm, I give you my solemn word. They're unarmed now and
docile as lambs."

"But what about those cane knives we see them carrying in the fields?"

"Those have all been collected. The Africans've got no weapons. There's
nothing they can do save beat on drums, which seems to keep them
occupied more and more lately, anyhow." He looked around the room,
pleased to see that the reassuring tone in his voice was having the
desired effect. "I think we'd best put our heads to more pressing
matters, such as the condition of the breastworks here and along the
coasts." He turned toward Winston. "You've not had much to say tonight,
sir, concerning today's work. I, for one, would welcome a word on the
condition of our ordnance."

All eyes at the table shifted to Winston, now standing by the window
and holding a shutter pried open to watch as the winds and rain bent
the tops of the tall palms outside. Slowly he turned, his lanky form
seeming to lengthen, and surveyed the room. His eyes told Katherine he
was worried; she'd begun to know his moods.

"The ordnance lent by the Dutchmen is in place now." He thumbed at
Ruyters. "For which I'd say a round of thanks is overdue."

"Hear, hear." The planters' voices chorused, and Ruyters nodded his
acknowledgement. Then he whispered something quickly to Winston and
disappeared out the door, into the rain. The seaman waited, watching
him go, then continued, "You've got gunners--some my men and some
yours--assigned now at the Point, as well as at Jamestown and over at
Oistins Bay. I figure there's nowhere else they can try a landing in
force . . . though they always might try slipping a few men ashore with
longboats somewhere along the coast. That's why you've got to keep the
militia out and ready."

"But if they do try landing in some spot where we've got no cannon,
what then, sir?" Briggs' voice projected above the howl of the storm.

"You've got ordnance in all the locations where they can safely put in
with a frigate. Any other spot would mean a slow, dangerous approach.
But if they try it, your militia should be able to meet them at the
water's edge and turn them back. That is, if you can keep your men
mustered." He straightened his pistols and pulled his cloak about him.
"Now if it's all the same, I think I'll leave you to your
deliberations. I've finished what it was I'd offered to do."

"One moment. Captain, if you please." Anthony Walrond stepped in front
of him as the crowd began to part. "I think you've done considerably
more than you proposed. Unless it included basely betraying the
island."

Winston stopped and looked at him. "I'm tired enough to let that pass."

"Are you indeed, sir?" Walrond turned toward the table. "We haven't yet
thanked Captain Winston for his other service, that being whilst he was
making a show of helping deploy the Dutchmen's ordnance, he ordered a
good fifty of his new men, those Irish indentures he's taken, to swim
out to the ships of the fleet and offer their services to the
Roundheads." He turned to the room. "It was base treachery. And reason
enough for a hempen collar . . . if more was required."

"You, sir, can go straight to hell." Winston turned and started pushing
through the planters, angrily proceeding toward the door.

Katherine stared at him, disbelieving. Before he could reach the exit,
she elbowed her way through the crowd and confronted him. "Is what he
said true?"

He pushed back his hair and looked down at her. "It's really not your
concern. Miss Bedford."

"Then you've much to explain, if not to me, to the men in this room."

"I didn't come down here tonight to start explaining." He gestured
toward the door. "If you want to hear about it, then why not call in
some of the men who swam out to the ships. They're back now and they're
outside in the rain, or were. I'm sure they'll be pleased to confess
the full details. I have no intention of responding to Master Walrond's
inquisition."

"Then we most certainly will call them in." She pushed her way briskly
to the doorway. Outside a crowd of indentures stood huddled in the
sheets of rain. Timothy Farrell, who had appointed himself leader, was
by the door waiting for Winston. The planters watched as Katherine
motioned him in.

He stepped uncertainly through the doorway, bowing, and then he removed
his straw hat deferentially. "Can I be of service to Yor Ladyship?"

"You can explain yourself, sir." She seized his arm and escorted him to
the head of the table. "Is it true Captain Winston ordered you and
those men out there to swim out to the ships and offer to consort with
their forces?"

"We wasn't offerin' to consort, beggin' Yor Ladyship's pardon. Not at
all. That's not our inclination, as I'm a Christian." Farrell grinned.
"No, by the Holy Virgin, what we did was offer to help them." He
glanced toward Winston, puzzling. "An' whilst they were mullin' that
over, we got a good look below decks. An' like I reported to His
Worship, I'd say they've not got provision left to last more'n a
fortnight. An' a good half the men sailin' with them are so rotted with
scurvy they'd be pressed to carry a half-pike across this room. Aye,
between decks they're all cursin' the admiral an' sayin' he's brought
'em out here to starve in the middle o' this plagued, sun-cooked
wilderness."

She turned slowly toward Winston. "You sent these men out as spies?"

"Who else were we going to send?" He started again toward the door.

"Well, you could have told us, sir."

"So some of the Puritan sympathizers on this island could have swum out
after them and seen to it that my men were shot, or hanged from a
yardarm. Pox on it."

"But this changes everything," Briggs interjected, his face flooding
with pleasure. "This man's saying the fleet's not got the force to try
a landing."

"You only believe half of what you hear." Winston paused to look around
the room. "Even if it's true, it probably just means they'll have to
attack sooner. Before their supplies get lower and they lose even more
men." He pushed on toward the door. "Desperate men do desperate things.
There'll be an attempt on the island, you can count on it. And you'll
fight best if you're desperate too." Suddenly he stopped again and
glanced back at Briggs. "By the way, I don't know exactly who your
speech on the docile slaves was intended to fool. Your Africans just
may have some plans afoot. I doubt they care overmuch who wins this
war, you or Cromwell. So look to it and good night." He turned and
gestured for Farrell to follow as he walked out into the blowing night
rain.

Katherine watched him leave, recoiling once more against his insolence.
Or maybe admiring him for it. She moved quickly through the milling
crowd to the side of Dalby Bedford, bent over and whispered something
to him, then turned and slipped out the door.

The burst of rain struck her in the face, and the wind blew her hair
across her eyes. Winston had already started off down the hill, the
crowd of indentures trailing after. Like puppy dogs, she found herself
thinking. He certainly has a way with his men. She caught up her long
skirts and pushed through the crowd, their straw hats and shoes now
bedraggled by the downpour.

"Captain, I suppose we owe you an apology, and I've come to offer it."
She finally reached his side. "No one else thought of having some men
swim out to spy on the fleet."

"Katherine, no one else in there has thought of a lot of things.
They're too busy arguing about who can spare a draft horse."

"What do you mean?" She looked up. "Thought of what?"

"First, they should be off-loading what's left of the food and supplies
on those Dutch merchantmen blockaded in the bay. Ruyters agreed just
now to put his men on it tonight, but I'm afraid it's too late." He
stared through the rain, toward the bay. "Something tells me the
fleet's likely to move in tomorrow and commandeer whatever ships they
can get their hands on. It's exactly what any good commander would do."
He continued bitterly. "There're enough supplies on those merchantmen,
flour and dried corn, to feed the island for weeks. Particularly on the
ships that made port the last few days and haven't finished unlading.
Believe me, you're going to need it, unless you expect to start living
on sugar cane and horsemeat. But this island's too busy fighting with
itself right now to listen to anybody." He turned and headed on through
the cluster of indentures. "I'm going down to try and off-load my own
supplies tonight, before it's too late."

She seized her skirts and pushed after him. "Well, I still want to
thank you . . . Hugh. For what you've done for us."

He met her gaze, smiled through the rain, and raised his hand to stop
her. "Wait a minute. Before you go any further--and maybe say something
foolish--you'd better know I'm not doing it for your little island of
Barbados."

"But you're helping us fight to stay a free state. If we can stand up
to the fleet, then we can secure home rule, the first in the Americas.
After us, maybe Virginia will do the same. Who knows, then some of the
other settlements will probably . . ."

"A free state?" He seemed to snort. "Free for who? These greedy
planters? Nobody else here'll be free." He pulled his cloak tighter
about him. "Just so you'll understand, let me assure you I'm not
fighting to help make Barbados anything. I'm just trying to make sure I
keep my frigate. Besides, Barbados'll never be 'free,' to use that word
you seem to like so much. The most that'll ever happen here is it'll
change masters. Look around you. It's going to be a settlement of
slaves and slaveholders forever, owned and squeezed by a Council, or a
Parliament, or a king, or a somebody. From now on."

"You're wrong." Why did he try so hard to be infuriating? "Home rule
here is just a start. Someday there'll be no more indentures, and who
knows, maybe one day they'll even decide to let the slaves be free."
She wanted to grab him and shake him, he was so shortsighted. "You just
refuse to try and understand. Isn't there anything you care about?"

"I care about living life my own way. It may not sound like much of a
cause, but it's taken me long enough to get around to it. I've given up
thinking that one day I'll go back home and work for the honor of the
Winston name, or settle down and grow fat on some sugar plantation in
the Caribbees." He turned on her, almost shouting against the storm.
"Let me tell you something. I'm through living by somebody else's
rules. Right now I just want to get out. Out to a place I'll make for
myself. So if getting there means I first have to fight alongside the
likes of Briggs and Walrond to escape Barbados, then that's what it'll
be. And when I fight, make no mistake, I don't plan to lose."

"That's quite a speech. How long have you been practicing it?" She
seized his arm. "And the point, I take it, is that you like to run away
from difficulties?"

"That's exactly right, and I wish you'd be good enough to have a brief
word with the admiral of the fleet out there about it." He was smiling
again, his face almost impish in the rain. "Tell him there's a well-
known American smuggler who'd be pleased to sail out of here if he'd
just open up the blockade for an hour or so."

"Well, why not ask him yourself? He might be relieved, if only to be
rid of you and your gunners." She waited till a roll of thunder died
away. "And after you've sailed away? What then?"

"I plan to make my own way. Just as I said. I'm heading west by
northwest, to maybe turn around a few things here in the Caribbean. But
right now I've got more pressing matters, namely keeping my provisions,
and those of the Dutchmen, out of the hands of the fleet." He turned
and continued toward the shore, a dim expanse of sand shrouded in dark
and rain. "So you'd best go on back to the Assembly Room, Katherine,
unless you plan to gather up those petticoats and lend me a hand."

"Perhaps I just will." She caught up with him, matching his stride.

"What?"

"Since you think I'm so useless, you might be surprised to know I can
carry tubs of Hollander cheese as well as you can." She was holding her
skirts out of the mud. "Why shouldn't I? We both want the same thing,
to starve the Roundheads. We just want it for different reasons."

"It's no place for a woman down here."

"You said that to me once before. When we were going out to Briggs'
sugarworks. Frankly I'm a little weary of hearing it, so why don't you
find another excuse to try telling me what to do."

He stopped and looked down again. Waves of rain battered against the
creases in his face. "All right, Katherine. Or Katy, as I've heard your
father call you. If you want to help, then come on. But you've got to
get into some breeches if you don't want to drown." His dour expression
melted into a smile. "I'll try and find you a pair on the _Defiance_.
It'll be a long night's work."

"You can tell everyone I'm one of your seamen. Or one of the
indentures."

He looked down at her bodice and exploded with laughter. "I don't think
anybody's apt to mistake you for one of them. But hadn't you best tell
somebody where you'll be?"

"What I do is my own business." She looked past him, toward the shore.

"So be it." A long fork of lightning burst across the sky, illuminating
the shoreline ahead of them.

The muddy road was leveling out now as they neared the bay. The ruts,
which ran like tiny rapids down the hill, had become placid streams,
curving their way seaward. Ahead, the mast lanterns of the Dutch
merchantmen swayed arcs through the dark, and the silhouettes of Dutch
seamen milled along the shore, their voices muffled, ghostlike in the
rain. Then she noticed the squat form of Johan Ruyters trudging toward
them.

"Pox on it, we can't unlade in this squall. And in the dark besides.
There's doubtless a storm brewing out there, maybe even a _huracan_,
from the looks of the swell." He paused to nod at Katherine. "Your
servant, madam." Then he turned back at Winston. "There's little we can
do now, on my honor."

"Well, I'll tell you one thing you can do, if you've got the brass."

"And what might that be, sir?"

"Just run all the ships aground here along the shore. That way they
can't be taken, and then we can unlade after the storm runs its
course."

"Aye, that's a possibility I'd considered. In truth I'm thinking I
might give it a try. The _Zeelander's_ been aground before. Her keel's
fine oak, for all the barnacles." His voice was heavy with rue. "But
I've asked around, and most of the other men don't want to run the
risk."

"Well, you're right about the squall. From the looks of the sea, I'd
agree we can't work in this weather. So maybe I'll just go ahead and
run the _Defiance _aground." He studied the ship, now rolling in the
swell and straining at her anchor lines. "There'll never be a better
time, with the bay up the way it is now."

"God's blood, it's a quandary." Ruyters turned and peered toward the
horizon. The mast lights of the fleet were all but lost in the sheets
of rain. "I wish I knew what those bastards are thinking right now. But
it's odds they'll try to move in and pilfer our provisions as soon as
the sea lets up. Moreover, we'd be fools to try using any ordnance on
them, bottled in the way we are. They've got us trapped, since they
surely know the battery up there on the Point won't open fire on the
bay while we're in it." He whirled on Winston. "You wouldn't, would
you?"

"And risk putting a round through the side of these ships here? Not a
chance!"

"Aye, they'll reason that out by tomorrow, no doubt. So grounding these
frigates may be the only way we can keep them out of English hands.
Damn it all, I'd best go ahead and bring her up, before the seas get
any worse." He bowed toward Katherine. "Your most obedient, madam. If
you'll be good enough to grant me leave . . ."

"Now don't try anything foolish." Winston was eyeing him.

"What are you suggesting?"

"Don't go thinking you'll make a run for it in the storm. You'll never
steer past the reefs."

"Aye. I've given that passing thought as well. If I had a bit more
ballast, I'd be tempted." He spat into the rain, then looked back. "And
I'd take odds you've considered the same."

"But I've not got the ballast either. Or that Spaniard of yours we
agreed on. Don't forget our bargain."

"My word's always been my bond, sir, though I wonder if there'll ever
be any sugar to ship. For that matter, you may be lucky ever to see
open seas again yourself. Just like the rest of us." Ruyters sighed.
"Aye, every Christian here tonight's wishing he'd never heard of
Barbados." He nodded farewell and turned to wade toward a waiting
longboat. In moments he had disappeared into the rain.

"Well, Miss Katy Bedford, unless the rest of the Dutchmen have the
foresight Ruyters has, those merchantmen out there and all their
provisions will be in the fleet's hands by sundown tomorrow." He
reached for her arm. "But not the _Defiance_. Come on and I'll get you
a set of dry clothes. And maybe a tankard of sack to warm you up. We're
about to go on a very short and very rough voyage."

She watched as he walked to where the indentures were waiting. He
seemed to be ordering them to find shelter and return in the morning.
Timothy Farrell spoke something in return. Winston paused a moment,
shrugged and rummaged his pockets, then handed him a few coins. The
Irishmen all saluted before heading off toward the cluster of taverns
over next to the bridge.

"Come on." He came trudging back. "The longboat's moored down here, if
it hasn't been washed out to sea yet."

"Where're your men?"

"My gunnery mates are at the batteries, and the rest of the lads are
assigned to the militia. I ordered John and a few of the boys to stay
on board to keep an eye on her, but the rest are gone." His face seemed
drawn. "Have no fear. In this sea it'll be no trick to ground her. Once
we weigh the anchor, the swell should do the rest."

As he led her into the water, the surf splashing against her shins, she
reflected that the salt would ruin her taffeta petticoats, then decided
she didn't care. The thrill of the night and the sea were worth it.

Directly ahead of them a small longboat bobbed in the water. "Grab your
skirts, and I'll hoist you in."

She had barely managed to seize the sides of her dress before a wave
washed over them both. She was still sputtering, salt in her mouth, as
he swept her up into his arms and settled her over the side. She gasped
as the boat dipped crazily in the swell, pounded by the sheets of rain.

He traced the mooring line back to the post at the shore where it had
been tied and quickly loosened it. Then he shoved the boat out to sea
and rolled over the side, as easily as though he were dropping into a
hammock.

The winds lashed rain against them as he strained at the oars, but
slowly they made way toward the dark bulk of the _Defiance_. He rowed
into the leeward side and in moments John Mewes was there, reaching for
the line to draw them alongside. He examined Katherine with a puzzled
expression as he gazed down at them.

" 'Tis quite a night, m'lady, by my life." He reached to take her hand
as Winston hoisted her up. "Welcome aboard. No time for Godfearin' folk
to be at sea in a longboat, that I'll warrant."

"That it's not, John." Winston grasped a deadeye and drew himself over
the side. "Call the lads to station. After I take Miss Bedford back to
the cabin and find a dry change of clothes for her, we're going to
weigh anchor and try beaching the ship."

"Aye." Mewes beamed as he squinted through the rain. "In truth, I've
been thinkin' the same myself. The fomicatin' Roundheads'll be in the
bay and aimin' to take prizes soon as the weather breaks." He headed
toward the quarterdeck. "But they'll never get this beauty, God is my
witness."

"Try hoisting the spritsail, John, and see if you can bring the bow
about." He took Katherine's hand as he helped her duck under the
shrouds. "This way, Katy."

"What do you have for me to wear?" She steadied herself against a
railing as the slippery deck heaved in the waves, but Winston urged her
forward. He was still gripping her hand as he led her into the
companionway, a dark hallway beneath the quarterdeck illuminated by a
single lantern swaying in the gusts of wind.

"We don't regularly sail with women in the crew." His words were almost
lost in a clap of thunder as he shoved open the door of the Great
Cabin. "What would you say to some of my breeches and a doublet?"

"What would you say to it?"

He laughed and swept the dripping hair out of his eyes as he ushered
her in. "I'd say I prefer seeing women in dresses. But we'll both have
to make do." He walked to his locker, seeming not to notice the roll of
the ship, and flipped open the lid. "Take your pick while I go
topside." He gestured toward the sideboard. "And there's port and some
tankards in there."

"How'll I loosen my bodice?"

"Send for your maid, as always." There was a scream of wind down the
companionway as he wrenched open the door, then slammed it again behind
him. She was still grasping the table, trying to steady herself against
the roll of the ship, when she heard muffled shouts from the decks
above and then the rattle of a chain.

She reached back and began to work at the knot in the long

laces that secured her bodice. English fashions, which she found absurd
in sweltering Barbados, required all women of condition to wear this
heavy corset, which laced all the way up the back, over their shift.

This morning it had been two layers of whitest linen, with strips of
whalebone sewn between and dainty puffed sleeves attached, but now it
was soaked with salt water and brown from the sand and flotsam of the
bay. She tugged and wriggled until it was loose enough to draw over her
head.

She drew a breath of relief as her breasts came free beneath her shift,
and then she wadded the bodice into a soggy bundle and discarded it
onto the floor of the cabin. Her wet shift still clung to her and she
looked down for a moment, taking pleasure in the full curve of her
body. Next she began unpinning her skirt at the spot where it had been
looped up stylishly to display her petticoat.

The ship rolled again and the lid of the locker dropped shut. As the
floor tilted back to an even keel, she quickly stepped out of the
soaking dress and petticoats, letting them collapse onto the planking
in a dripping heap. In the light of the swinging lamp the once-blue
taffeta looked a muddy gray.

The ship suddenly pitched backward, followed by a low groan that
sounded through the timbers as it shuddered to a dead stop. The floor
of the cabin lay at a tilt, sloping down toward the stern.

She stepped to the locker and pried the lid back open. Inside were
several changes of canvas breeches, as well as a fine striped silk
pair. She laughed as she pulled them out to inspect them in the
flickering light. What would he say if I were to put these on, she
wondered? They're doubtless part of his vain pride.

Without hesitating she shook out the legs and drew them on under her
wet shift. There was no mirror, but as she tied the waiststring she
felt their sensuous snugness about her thighs. The legs were short,
intended to fit into hose or boots, and they revealed her fine turn of
ankle. Next she lifted out a velvet doublet, blue and embroidered, with
gold buttons down the front. She admired it a moment, mildly surprised
that he would own such a fine garment, then laid it on the table while
she pulled her dripping shift over her head.

The rush of air against her skin made her suddenly aware how hot and
sultry the cabin really was. Impulsively she walked back to the windows
aft and unlatched them. Outside the sea churned and pounded against the
stern, while dark rain still beat against the quartergallery. She took
a deep breath as she felt the cooling breeze wash over her clammy face
and breasts. She was wondering how her hair must look when she heard a
voice.

"You forgot your port."

She gasped quietly as she turned. Hugh Winston was standing beside her,
holding out a tankard. "Well, do you care to take it?" He smiled and
glanced down at her breasts.

"My, but that was no time at all." She reached for the tankard, then
looked back toward the table where her wet shift lay.

"Grounding a ship's no trick. You just weigh the anchor and pray she
comes about. Getting her afloat again's the difficulty." He leaned
against the window frame and lifted his tankard. "So here's to freedom
again someday, Katy. Mine, yours."

She started to drink, then remembered herself and turned toward the
table to retrieve her shift.

"I don't expect you'll be needing that."

She continued purposefully across the cabin. "Well, sir, I didn't
expect . . ."

"Oh, don't start now being a coquette. I like you too much the way you
are." A stroke of lightning split down the sky behind him. He drank
again, then set down his tankard and was moving toward her.

"I'm not sure I know what you mean."

"Take it as a compliment. I despise intriguing women." He seemed to
look through her. "Though you do always manage to get whatever you're
after, one way or other, going about it your own way." A clap of
thunder sounded through the open stern windows. "I'd also wager you've
had your share of experience in certain personal matters. For which I
suppose there's your royalist gallant to thank."

"That's scarcely your concern, is it? You've no claim over me." She
settled her tankard on the table, reached for his velvet doublet--at
least it was dry--and started draping it over her bare shoulders. "Nor
am I sure I relish bluntness as much as you appear to."

"It's my fashion. I've been out in the Caribbees too long, dodging
musket balls, to bother with a lot of fancy court chatter."

"There's bluntness, and there's good breeding. I trust you at least
haven't forgotten the difference."

"I suppose you think you can enlighten me."

"Well, since I'm wearing your breeches, which appear meant for a
gentleman, perhaps it'd not be amiss to teach you how to address a
lady." She stepped next to him, her eyes mischievous. "Try repeating
after me. 'Yours is a comely shape, Madam, on my life, that delights my
very heart. And your fine visage might shame a cherubim.'" She
suppressed a smile at his dumbfounded look, then continued. "'Those
eyes fire my thoughts with promised sweetness, and those lips are like
petals of the rose . . .' "

"God's blood!" He caught her open doublet and drew her toward him. "If
it's a fop you'd have me be, I suppose the rest could probably go
something like '. . . begging to be kissed. They seem fine and soft.
Are they kind as well?'" He slipped his arms about her and pulled her
against his wet jerkin.

After the first shock, she realized he tasted of salt and gunpowder. As
a sudden gust of rain from the window extinguished the sea lamp, she
felt herself being slowly lowered against the heavy oak table in the
center of the cabin.

Now his mouth had moved to her breasts, as he half-kissed,

half-bit her nipples--whether in desire or merely to tease she could
not tell. Finally she reached and drew his face up to hers.

"I'm not in love with you, Captain Winston. Never expect that. I could
never give any man that power over me." She laughed at his startled
eyes. "But I wouldn't mind if you wanted me."

"Katy, I've wanted you for a fortnight." He drew back and looked at
her. "I had half a mind not to let you away from this ship the last
time you were here. This time I don't plan to make the same mistake.
Except I don't like seeing you in my own silk breeches."

"I think they fit me very nicely."

"Maybe it's time I showed you what I think." He abruptly drew her up
and seized the string at her waist. In a single motion, he pulled it
open and slipped away the striped legs. Then he admired her a moment as
he drew his hands appreciatively down her long legs. "Now I'd like to
show you how one man who's forgot his London manners pays court to a
woman."

He pulled her to him and kissed her once more. Then without a word he
slipped his arms under her and cradled her against him. He carried her
across the cabin to the window, and gently seated her on its sill. Now
the lightning flashed again, shining against the scar on his cheek.

He lifted her legs and twined them around his shoulders, bringing her
against his mouth. A glow of sensation blossomed somewhere within her
as he began to tease her gently with his tongue. She tightened her
thighs around him, astonished at the swell of pleasure.

The cabin was dissolving, leaving nothing but a great, consuming
sensation that was engulfing her, readying to flood her body. As she
arched expectantly against him, he suddenly paused.

"Don't stop now . . ." She gazed at him, her vision blurred.

He smiled as he drew back. "If you want lovemaking from me, you'll have
to think of somebody besides yourself. I want you to be with me, Katy
Bedford. Not ahead."

He rose up and slipped away his jerkin. Then his rough, wet breeches.
He toyed with her sex, bringing her wide in readiness, then he entered
her quickly and forcefully.

She heard a gasp, and realized it was her own voice. It was as though
she had suddenly discovered some missing part of herself. For an
instant nothing else in the world existed. She clasped her legs about
his waist and moved against him, returning his own intensity.

Now the sensation was coming once more, and she clung to him as she
wrenched against his thighs. All at once he shoved against her
powerfully, then again, and she found herself wanting to thrust her
body into his, merge with him, as he lunged against her one last time.
Then the lightning flared and the cabin seemed to melt into white.

After a moment of quiet, he wordlessly took her in his arms. For the
first time she noticed the rain and the salt spray from the window
washing over them.

"God knows the last thing I need now is a woman to think about." He
smiled and kissed her. "I'd probably be wise to pitch you out to sea
this minute, while I still have enough sense to do it. But I don't
think I will."

"I wouldn't let you anyway. I'm not going to let you so much as move.
You can just stay precisely where you are." She gripped him tighter and
pulled his lips down to hers. "If anything, I should have done with
you, here and now."

"Then come on. We'll go outside together."  He lifted her through the
open stern window, onto the quartergallery. The skies were an open
flood.

She looked at him and reached to gently caress his scarred cheek. "What
was that you were doing--at the first? I never knew men did such
things." Her hand traveled across his chest, downward. "Do . . . do
women ever do that too?"

He laughed. "It's not entirely unheard of in this day and age."

"Then you must show me how. I'll wager no Puritan wife does it."

"I didn't know you were a Puritan. You certainly don't make love like
one."

"I'm not. I want to be as far from them as I can be." Her lips began to
move down his chest.

"Then come away with me." He smoothed her wet hair. "To Jamaica."

"Jamaica?" She looked up at him in dismay. "My God, what are you
saying? The Spaniards . . ."

"I'll manage the Spaniards." He reached down and kissed her again.

        "You know, after this morning, up on the Point, I'd almost
believe you." She paused and looked out at the line of warships on the
horizon, dull shadows in the rain. "But nobody's going to leave here
for a long time now."

"I will. And the English navy's not going to stop me." He slipped his
arms around her and drew her against him. "Why not forget you're
supposed to wed Anthony Walrond and come along? We're alike, you and
me."

"Hugh, you know I can't leave." She slid a leg over him and pressed her
thigh against his. "But at least I've got you here tonight. I think I
already fancy this. So let's not squander all our fine time with a lot
of talk."



Chapter Nine


"I've changed my mind. I'll not be part of it." Serina pulled at his
arm and realized she was shouting to make herself heard above the
torrent around them. In the west the lightning flared again. "Take me
back. Now."

Directly ahead the wide thatched roof of the mill house loomed out of
the darkness. Atiba seemed not to hear as he circled his arm about her
waist and urged her forward. A sheet of rain off the building's eaves
masked the doorway, and he drew her against him to cover her head as
they passed through. Inside, the packed earthen floor was sheltered and
dry.

The warmth of the room caused her misgivings to ebb momentarily; the
close darkness was like a protective cloak, shielding them from the
storm. Still, the thought of what lay ahead filled her with dread. The
Jesuit teachers years ago in Brazil had warned you could lose your soul
by joining in pagan African rituals. Though she didn't believe in the
Jesuits' religion, she still feared their warning. She had never been
part of a true Yoruba ceremony for the gods; she had only heard them
described, and that so long ago she had forgotten almost everything.

When Atiba appeared at her window, a dark figure in the storm, and told
her she must come with him, she had at first

refused outright. In reply he had laughed lightly, kissed her, then
whispered it was essential that she be present. He did not say why;
instead he went on to declare that tonight was the perfect time. No
cane was being crushed; the mill house was empty, the oxen in their
stalls, the entire plantation staff ordered to quarters. Benjamin
Briggs and the other _branco _masters were assembled in Bridgetown,
holding a council of war against the Ingles ships that had appeared in
the bay at sunrise.

When finally she'd relented and agreed to come, he had insisted she put
on a white shift--the whitest she had--saying in a voice she scarcely
recognized that tonight she must take special care with everything.
Tonight she must be Yoruba.

"Surely you're not afraid of lightning and thunder?" He finally spoke
as he gestured for her to sit, the false lightness still in his tone.
"Don't be. It could be a sign from Shango, that he is with us. Tonight
the heavens belong to him." He turned and pointed toward the mill.
"Just as in this room, near this powerful iron machine of the _branco_,
the earth is sacred to Ogun. That's why he will come tonight if we
prepare a place for him."

She looked blankly at the mill. Although the rollers were brass, the
rest of the heavy framework was indeed iron, the metal consecrated to
Ogun. She remembered Atiba telling her that when a Yoruba swore an oath
in the great palace of the Oba in Ife, he placed his hand not on a
Bible but on a huge piece of iron, shaped like a tear and weighing over
three hundred pounds. The very existence of Yorubaland was ensured by
iron. Ogun's metal made possible swords, tipped arrows, muskets. If no
iron were readily at hand, a Yoruba would swear by the earth itself,
from whence came ore.

"I wish you would leave your Yoruba gods in Africa, where they belong."
How, she asked herself, could she have succumbed so readily to his
preto delusions? She realized now that the Yoruba were still too few,
too powerless to revolt. She wanted to tell him to forget his gods, his
fool's dream of rebellion and freedom.

He glanced back at her and laughed. "But our gods, our Orisa, are
already here, because our people are here." He looked away, his eyes
hidden in the dark, and waited for a roll of thunder to die away. The
wind dropped suddenly, for an instant, and there was silence except for
the drumbeat of rain. "Our gods live inside us, passed down from
generation to generation. We inherit the spirit of our fathers, just as
we take on their strength, their appearance. Whether we are free or
slave, they will never abandon us." He touched her hand gently.
"Tonight, at last, perhaps you will begin to understand."

She stared at him, relieved that the darkness hid the disbelief in her
eyes. She had never seen any god, anywhere, nor had anyone else. His
gods were not going to make him, or her, any less a slave to the
_branco_. She wanted to grab his broad shoulders and shake sense into
him. Tonight was the first, maybe the last, time that Briggs Hall would
be theirs alone. Why had he brought her here instead, for some bizarre
ceremony? Finally her frustration spilled out. "What if I told you I
don't truly believe in your Ogun and your Shango and all the rest? Any
more than I believe in the Christian God and all His saints?"

He lifted her face up. "But what if you experienced them yourself?
Could you still deny they exist?"

"The Christians claim their God created everything in the world." Again
the anger flooding over her, like the rain outside. She wanted to taunt
him. "If that's true, maybe He created your gods too."

"The Christian God is nothing. Where is He? Where does He show Himself?
Our Orisa create the world anew every day, rework it, change it, right
before our eyes. That's how we know they are alive." His gaze softened.
"You'll believe in our gods before tonight is over, I promise you."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because one of them is already living inside you. I know the signs."
He stood back and examined her. "I think you are consecrated to a
certain god very much like you, which is as it should be."

He reached down and picked up a cloth sack he had brought. As the
lightning continued to flare through the open doorway, he began to
extract several long white candles. Finally he selected one and held it
up, then with an angry grunt pointed to the black rings painted around
it at one-inch intervals.

"Do you recognize this? It's what the _branco _call a 'bidding candle.'
Did you know they used candles like this on the ship? They sold a man
each time the candle burned down to one of these rings. I wanted Ogun
to see this tonight."

He struck a flint against a tinderbox, then lit the candle, shielding
it from the wind till the wick was fully ablaze. Next he turned and
stationed it on the floor near the base of the mill, where it would be
protected from the gale.

She watched the tip flicker in the wind, throwing a pattern of light
and shadow across his long cheek, highlighting the three small parallel
scars. His eyes glistened in concentration as he dropped to his knees
and retrieved a small bag from his waistband. He opened it, dipped in
his hand, and brought out a fistful of white powder; then he moved to a
smooth place on the floor and began to dribble the powder out of his
fist, creating a series of curved patterns on the ground.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm preparing the symbol of Ogun."

"Will drawings in the dirt lure your god?"

He did not look up, merely continued to lay down the lines of white
powder, letting a stream slip from his closed fist. "Take care what you
say. I am consecrating this earth to Ogun. A Yoruba god will not be
mocked. I have seen hunters return from an entire season in the forest
empty-handed because they scorned to make offerings."

"I don't understand. The Christians say their God is in the

sky. Where are these gods of Africa supposed to be?" She was trying
vainly to recall the stories her mother Dara and the old _babalawo _of
Pernambuco had told. But there was so much, especially the part about
Africa, that she had willed herself to forget. "First you claim they
are already inside you, and then you say they must come here from
somewhere."

"Both things are true. The Orisa are in some ways like ordinary men and
women." He paused and looked up. "Just as we are different, each of
them is also. Shango desires justice--though wrongs must be fairly
punished, he is humane. Ogun cares nothing for fairness. He demands
vengeance."

"How do you know what these gods are supposed to want? You don't have
any sacred books like the Christians. . . ."

"Perhaps the Christians need their books. We don't. Our gods are not
something we study, they're what we are."

"Then why call them gods?"

"Because they are a part of us we cannot reach except through them.
They dwell deep inside our selves, in the spirit that all the Yoruba
peoples share." He looked down and continued to lay out the drawing as
he spoke. "But I can't describe it, because it lies in a part of the
mind that has no words." He reached to take more of the white powder
from the bag and shifted to a new position as he continued to fashion
the diagram, which seemed to be the outline of some kind of bush. "You
see, except for Olorun, the sky god, all our Orisa once dwelt on earth,
but instead of dying they became the communal memory of our people.
When we call forth one of the gods, we reach into this shared
consciousness where they wait. If a god comes forth, he may for a time
take over the body of one of us as his temporary habitation." He paused
and looked up. "That's why I wanted you here tonight. To show you what
it means to be Yoruba." He straightened and critically surveyed the
drawing. His eyes revealed his satisfaction.

On the ground was a complex rendering of an African cotton tree, the
representing-image of Ogun. Its trunk was flanked on each side by the
outline of an elephant tusk, another symbol of the Yoruba god. He
circled it for a moment, appraising it, then went to the cache of
sacred utensils he had hidden behind the mill that afternoon and took
up a stack of palm fronds. Carefully he laid a row along each side of
the diagram.

"That's finished now. Next I'll make the symbol for Shango. It's
simpler." He knelt and quickly began to lay down the outline of a
double-headed axe, still using the white powder from the bag. The lines
were steady, flawless. She loved the lithe, deft intensity of his body
as he drew his sacred signs--nothing like the grudging branco artists
who had decorated the cathedral in Pernambuco with Catholic saints, all
the while half-drunk on Portuguese wine.

"Where did you learn all these figures?"

He smiled. "I've had much practice, but I was first taught by my
father, years ago in Ife."

The drawing was already done. He examined it a moment, approved it, and
laid aside the bag of white powder. She picked it up and took a pinch
to her lips. It had the tangy bitterness of cassava flour.

"Now I'll prepare a candle for Shango." He rummaged through the pile.
"But in a way it's for you too, so I'll find a pure white one, not a
bidding candle."

"What do you mean, 'for me too'?"

He seemed not to hear as he lit the taper and placed it beside the
symbol. Next he extracted a white kerchief from his waistband and
turned to her. "I've brought something for you. A gift. Here, let me
tie it." He paused to caress her, his fingertips against her cinnamon
skin, then he lovingly pulled the kerchief around her head. He lifted
up her long hair, still wet from the rain, and carefully coiled it
under the white cloth. Finally he knotted it on top, African style.
"Tonight you may discover you truly are a Yoruba woman, so it is well
that you look like one."

Abruptly, above the patter of rain, came the sound of footfalls in the
mud outside. She glanced around and through the dark saw the
silhouettes of the Yoruba men from the slave quarters. The first three
carried long bundles swathed in heavy brown wraps to protect them from
the rain.

They entered single file and nodded in silence to Atiba before
gathering around the diagrams on the floor to bow in reverence. After a
moment, the men carrying the bundles moved to a clear space beside the
mill and began to unwrap them. As the covering fell away, the fresh
goatskin tops of three new drums sparkled white in the candlelight.

She watched the drummers settle into position, each nestling an
instrument beneath his left arm, a curved wooden mallet in his right
hand. From somewhere in her past there rose up an identical scene,
years ago in Brazil, when all the Yoruba, men and women, had gathered
to dance. Then as now there were three hourglass-shaped instruments,
all held horizontally under the drummer's arm as they were played. The
largest, the _iya ilu_, was almost three feet long and was held up by a
wide shoulder strap, just as this one was tonight. The other two, the
_bata _and the _go-go_, were progressively smaller, and neither was
heavy enough to require a supporting strap.

The man holding the _iya ilu_ tonight was Obewole, his weathered coffee
face rendered darker still by the contrast of a short grey beard. His
muscles were conditioned by decades of swinging a long iron sword; in
the fields he could wield a cane machete as powerfully as any young
warrior. He shifted the shoulder strap one last time, then held out the
mallet in readiness and looked toward Atiba for a signal to begin.

When Atiba gave a nod, a powerful drum roll sounded above the roar of
the gale. Then Obewole began to talk with the drum, a deep-toned
invocation to the ceremonial high gods of the Yoruba pantheon, Eleggua
and Olorun.

"_Omi tutu a Eleggua, omi tutu a mi ileis, Olorun modu-pue ..."_

As the drum spoke directly to the gods, the line of men passed by Atiba
and he sprinkled each with liquor from a calabash, flinging droplets
from his fingertips like shooting stars in the candlelight. Each man
saluted him, their _babalawo_, by dropping their heads to the ground in
front of him while balanced on their fists, then swinging their bodies
right and left, touching each side to the floor in the traditional
Yoruba obeisance. The office of _babalawo _embodied all the struggles,
the triumphs, the pride of their race.

When the last man had paid tribute, all three drums suddenly exploded
with a powerful rhythm that poured out into the night and the storm.
Obewole's mallet resounded against the skin of the large _iya ilu_,
producing a deep, measured cadence--three strokes, then rest, repeated
again and again hypnotically--almost as though he were knocking on the
portals of the unseen. Next to him the men holding the two smaller
drums interjected syncopated clicks between the _iya ilu's _throaty
booms. The medley of tempos they blended together was driving,
insistent.

As the sound swelled in intensity, the men began to circle the drawing
for Ogun, ponderously shuffling from one foot to the other in time with
the beat. It was more than a walk, less than a dance.

Atiba began to clang together two pieces of iron he had brought, their
ring a call to Ogun. The men trudged past him, single file, the soles
of their feet never leaving the earth. Using this ritual walk, they
seemed to be reaching out for some mighty heart of nature, through the
force of their collective strength. They had come tonight as
individuals; now they were being melded into a single organic whole by
the beat of the _iya ilu_, their spirits unified.

Some of them nodded to Obewole as they passed, a homage to his mastery,
but he no longer appeared to see them. Instead he gazed into the
distance, his face a mask, and methodically pounded the taut goatskin
with ever increasing intensity.

"_Ogun cyuba bai ye baye tonu_ . . ." Suddenly a chant rose up through
the dense air, led by the young warrior Derin, who had devoted his life
to Ogun. His cropped hair emphasized the strong line of his cheeks and
his long, powerful neck. As he moved, now raising one shoulder then the
other in time with the drums, his body began to glisten with sweat in
the humid night air.

All the while, Atiba stood beside the mill, still keeping time with the
pieces of iron. He nodded in silent approval as the men in the line
began to revolve, their bare feet now slapping against the packed
earth, arms working as though they held a bellows. This was the ritual
call for Ogun, warrior and iron worker. As they whirled past the design
on the floor, each man bent low, chanting, imploring Ogun to appear.
While the sound soared around them, the dance went on and on, and the
atmosphere of the mill house became tense with expectation.

Suddenly Derin spun away, separating himself from the line, his eyes
acquiring a faraway, vacant gaze. As he passed by the musicians, the
drumming swelled perceptibly, and Serina sensed a presence rising up in
the room, intense and fearsome. Without warning, the clanging of iron
stopped and she felt a powerful hand seize hers.

"Ogun is almost here." Atiba was pointing toward Derin, his voice a
hoarse whisper. "Can you sense his spirit emerging? Soon he may try to
mount Derin."

She studied the dancers, puzzling. "What do you mean, 'mount' him?"

"The Orisa can mount our mind and body, almost like a rider mounts a
horse. Ogun wants to displace Derin's spirit and become the force that
rules him. But Derin's self must first leave before Ogun can enter,
since it's not possible to be both man and god at once. His own spirit
is trying to resist, to ward off the god. Sometimes it can be
terrifying to watch." He studied the men a few moments in silence.
"Yes, Derin's body will be the one honored tonight. He's the youngest
and strongest here; it's only natural that Ogun would choose him. Don't
be surprised now by what you see. And Dara"--his voice grew stern--"you
must not try to help him, no matter what may happen."

At that instant the young warrior's left leg seemed to freeze to the
ground, and he pitched forward, forfeiting his centering and balance.
He began to tremble convulsively, his eyes terror-stricken and
unfocused, his body reeling from a progression of unseen blows against
the back of his neck. He was still trying to sustain the ritual cadence
as he pitched backward against the mill.

Now the drums grew louder, more forceful, and his entire body seemed to
flinch with each stroke of Obewole's mallet. His eyes rolled back into
his head, showing only a crescent of each pupil, while his arms flailed
as though trying to push away some invisible net that had encircled his
shoulders. He staggered across the floor, a long gash in his shoulder
where the teeth of the mill had ripped the flesh, and began to emit
barking cries, almost screams, as he struggled to regain his balance.

"You've got to stop it!" She started pulling herself to her feet. But
before she could rise, Atiba seized her wrist and silently forced her
down. None of the other men appeared to take notice of Derin's
convulsions. Several were, in fact, themselves now beginning to stumble
and lose their balance. But they all continued the solemn dance, as
though determined to resist the force wanting to seize their bodies.

At that moment the measured booms of the large iya Hu drum switched to
a rapid, syncopated beat, a knowing trick by Obewole intended to throw
the dancers off their centering. The sudden shift in drumming caused
Derin to lose the last of his control. He staggered toward the
drummers, shouted something blindly, then stiffened and revolved to
face Atiba.

His eyes were vacant but his sweat-drenched body had as

sumed a mystical calm. He stood silent for a moment, glared fiercely
about the mill house, then reached for the long iron machete Atiba was
holding out for him.

"_Obi meye lori emo ofe _. . ." He was intoning in a deep, powerful
voice, declaring he would now reveal who he was.

"_Ogun_!"

He abruptly brandished the machete about his head and with a leap
landed astride the diagram Atiba had traced in the dirt.

The other men hovered back to watch as he launched a violent dance,
slashing the air with the blade while intoning a singsong chant in a
voice that seemed to emanate from another world. The drums were silent
now, as all present knelt to him, even those older and more senior.
Derin the man was no longer present; his body belonged to the god, and
his absent eyes burned with a fierceness and determination Serina had
never before seen.

She gripped Atiba's hand, feeling her fingers tremble. Now, more than
ever, she was terrified. The pounding of rain on the roof seemed almost
to beckon her out, into the night, away from all this. But then she
began to understand that the men around her were no longer slaves, in
the mill room of a plantation in the English Caribbees; they were
Yoruba warriors, invoking the gods of their dark land.

Now Derin was finishing the ritual chant that proclaimed him the
earthly manifestation of Ogun. The words had scarcely died away when
Atiba stepped forward and demanded he speak to the men, offer them
guidance for the days ahead. When Derin merely stood staring at him
with his distant eyes, Atiba grabbed him and shook him.

Finally, above the sound of wind and rain, Derin began to shout a
series of curt phrases. His voice came so rapidly, and with such
unearthly force, Serina found she could not follow.

"What is he saying?" She gripped Atiba's hand tighter.

"Ogun demands we must right the wrongs that have been set upon us. That
we must use our swords to regain our freedom and our pride. He declares
tonight that his anger is fierce, like the burning sun that sucks dry
the milk of the coconut, and he will stand with us in the name of
vengeance. That victory will be ours, but only if we are willing to
fight to the death, as worthy warriors."

Atiba stopped to listen as Derin continued to intone in a deep chilling
voice. When he had concluded his declaration, he abruptly turned and
approached Serina. He stood before her for a moment, then reached out
with his left hand and seized her shoulder, tearing her white shift.
She gasped at the tingle in her arm, realizing his fingers were cold
and hard as iron. His eyes seemed those of a being who saw beyond the
visible, into some other world. She wanted to pull away, but his gaze
held her transfixed.

"Send this one back where she belongs, to the compounds of your wives.
Yoruba warriors do not hold council with women. She . . . will lead you
. . . to . . ." The voice seemed to be receding back into Derin's body
now, to be calling from some faraway place.

Suddenly he leaped backward, circled the machete about his head, and
with a powerful stroke thrust it into the earth, buried halfway to the
hilt. He stared down for a moment in confusion, as though incredulous
at what he had just done, then tremulously touched the dark wooden
handle. Finally he seized his face in his hands, staggered backward,
and collapsed.

Atiba sprang to catch him as he sprawled across the remains of the
trampled palm fronds. Several other men came forward, their eyes
anxious.

"Ogun has honored us tonight with his presence." He looked about the
dark room, and all the men nodded in silent agreement.

At that moment a long trunk of lightning illuminated the open doorway,
followed by a crack of thunder that shook the pole supporting the
thatched roof. Serina felt a chill sweep against her forehead.

"That is the voice of Shango. He too demands to be heard. We must
continue." Atiba turned to Serina. "Even though it displeases Ogun,
your presence here tonight is essential. You were once consecrated to
Shango. Perhaps you were never told. But you are Yoruba. Your lineage
is sacred to him."

"How do you know?" She felt the chill in the room deepening.

"Shango animates your spirit. As a _babalawo _I can tell. It must have
been divined the day you were born and sanctified by a ceremony to
Olorun, the high god. There are signs, but I must not reveal to you
what they are."

"No! I won't have any part of this. It's pagan, terrifying." She
wrapped her arms about her, shivering from the cold. "I only came here
to please you. I'll watch. But that's all."

Atiba motioned to the drummers. "But Shango will not be denied. You
have nothing to fear. Most of his fire tonight is being spent in the
skies." The drums began again, their cadence subtly changed from
before. The lightning flashed once more, closer now, as he urged her
toward the dancers.

"We must know the will of Shango, but we are all men of Ogun. Shango
would never come and mount one of us. He will only come to you, his
consecrated."

As the line of men encircled her and pushed her forward, into the crowd
of half-naked bodies sweating in the candlelight, Atiba's face
disappeared in the tumult of heaving chests and arms. She tried to yell
back to him, to tell him she would never comply, but her voice was lost
in the drumming and the roar of the rain.

She was moving now with the line of men. Before she realized what she
was doing, she had caught the hem of her swaying white shift and begun
to swing it from side to side in time with the booms of the _iya ilu_
drum. It was a dance figure she remembered from some lost age, a joyous
time long ago. She would dance for her love of Atiba, but not for his
gods.

Now the rhythm of the drums grew more dizzying, as though pulling her
forward. It was increasingly hard to think; only through the dance
could she keep control, stay centered on her own self. Only by this
arcing of her body, as the movement of her hips flowed into her swaying
torso, could she . . .

Suddenly she saw herself, in Pernambuco, being urged gently forward by
her Yoruba mother as the slaves drummed in the cool evening air. It was
Sunday, and all the _preto _had gathered to dance, the black women in
ornate Portuguese frocks of bright primary colors and the men in tight-
fitting trousers. The drums were sounding and the plantation air was
scented by a spray of white blossoms that drifted down from the
spreading tree. The senhor de engenho was there, the white master,
clapping and leering and calling something to Dara about her_ mulata
_daughter's new frock. He was watching her now, waiting. Soon, very
soon, he would take her.

Lightning flashed again, and she felt its warmth against her icy skin.
She wanted to laugh, to cry, to stay in that world of faraway whose
warmth beckoned. But now she felt her own will beginning to ebb.
Something was happening. . . .

"No! Please, no!" She forced her long fingernails into her palm, and
the pain seemed to restore some of the awareness she had felt slipping
from her. Desperately she tore herself away from the dance and seized
the center post of the mill, gasping for air and digging her nails into
the wood until she felt one snap. Then she pulled away the African
kerchief and threw back her head, swirling her hair about her face till
it caught in her mouth. All at once she was thirsty, hungry, yearning
for a dark presence that hovered over her body like a lover.

Again the blossoms of Pernambuco drifted down, tiny points of fire as
they settled against her face, and she began to hum a simple Portuguese
song she had known as a child. It was spring in Brazil, and as she
looked up she saw the face of the old Yoruba _babalawo_.

"Dara, come." He was reaching toward her, beckoning

her away from the Portuguese master, saying something about Shango she
did not understand, and the sight of his sad eyes and high black cheeks
filled her with love. But now there was a youthfulness in his face, as
though he were here and powerful and young. Her old _babalawo _had come
back: there was the same glistening black skin, the same three face-
marks cut down his cheek, the powerful eyes she had somehow forgotten
over the years.

She gasped as he pulled her back into the circle of dancers.

He was Atiba. His clan-marks were Atiba's. And so was his voice . . .

Lightning illuminated the doorway and its whiteness washed over her,
bleaching away the mill, the moving bodies, the face of Atiba. As she
stumbled back among the dancers, her mind seemed to be thinning,
turning to pale mist, merging with the rain.

' _'Boguo yguoro ache semilenu Shango_ . . ." The men were moving
beside her now, intoning their singsong chant. She suddenly recalled
the long-forgotten Yoruba verses and wanted to join in, but the words
floated away. She was no longer part of the men in the room; she was
distant, observing from some other world. Instead of the sweating
bodies, there was the fragrance of frangipani and the faces of _preto_
slaves on the Pernambuco plantation as they gathered around at the
moment of her birth to praise her light skin. Dara's warm, nourishing
breast was against her lips, and the world was bright and new.

She gasped for breath, but the air was wet, oppressive. Its heaviness
was descending over her, then her left leg seemed to catch in a vise,
as though it belonged to the deep earth. She wrenched her body to look
down, and felt a crack of thunder pound against her back. The world was
drifting up through her, drowning her in white. . . .

. . . She is floating, borne by the drums, while a weight has settled
against her back, a stifling weariness that insists the dance must
stop. Yet some power propels her on, swirls about her, forces her
forward. She senses the touch of wet skin as she falls against one of
the dancers, but no hands reach out to help. Only the drums keep her
alive. But they too are fading, leaving her, as the world starts to
move in slow motion. A white void has replaced her mind. Her breath
comes in short bursts, her heart pounds, her hands and feet are like
ice. She is ready now to leave, to surrender, to be taken. Then a voice
comes, a voice only she can hear, whose Yoruba words say her mind can
rest. That her body is no longer to struggle. She holds her eyes open,
but she no longer sees. A powerful whiteness has settled against her
forehead. . . .

' _'Okunrin t 'o lagbara_!" A hard voice cut through the room,
silencing the drums. "_Shango_!"

The Yoruba men fell forward to touch the feet of the tall mulata who
towered over them, demanding worship. Her eyes glowed white,
illuminating the darkness of the room; her arm stretched out toward
Atiba as she called for her scepter.

He hesitated a moment, as though stunned that she was no longer Dara,
then rose to hand her a large stone that had been chipped into the form
of a double-headed axe. He had fashioned it himself, in anticipation of
just this moment. As he offered the sacred implement, her left hand
shot out and seized his throat. She grabbed the axe head with her right
hand and examined it critically. Then she roughly cast him aside,
against the mill. While the men watched, she raised the stone axe above
her head and began to speak.

"_Opolopo ise I'o wa ti enikan ko le da se afi bi o ba ir oluranlowo.
_. . ."

The voice of Shango was telling them that the Yoruba must join with the
other men of Africa if they would not all die as slaves. Otherwise they
and their children and their children's children for twenty generations
would be as cattle to the _branco_. Even so, he would not yet
countenance the spilling of innocent blood. Not until Yoruba blood had
been spilled. They must not kill those among the _branco _who had done
them no hurt. Only those who would deny their manhood.

Suddenly she turned and glared directly at Atiba. The voice grew even
harsher.

"Atiba, son of Balogun, _bi owo eni ko te eku ida a ki ibere iku ti o
pa baba eni!"

_It was the ancient call to arms of Ife: "No man who has not grasped
his sword can avenge the death of his father." But Atiba sensed there
was a deeper, more personal message. The voice had now become that of
Balogun himself, clearly, unmistakably. He felt his heart surge with
shame.

Her last words were still ringing when a sphere of lightning slid down
the centerpole of the roof and exploded against the iron mill. Rings of
fire danced across the rollers and dense dark smoke billowed in the
room. Atiba had already sprung to catch her as she slumped forward,
sending her stone axe clattering across the packed floor.

' _'Olorun ayuba bai ye baye tonu . . ._" Through the smoke he quickly
began to intone a solemn acknowledgement to the Yoruba high god. Then
he lifted her into his arms and pressed his cheek against hers as he
led the men out.

She was only dimly aware of a whisper against her ear. "You are truly a
woman of the Yoruba, and tonight you have brought us Shango's power.
With him to help us, we will one day soon plant our yams where the
branco's compounds stand."

As they started down the pathway, single file, the lightning had gone.
Now there was only the gentle spatter of Caribbean rain against their
sweating faces as they merged with the night.



Chapter Ten


As the bell on the _Rainbowe _struck the beginning of the first watch,
Edmond Calvert stood on the quarterdeck studying the thin cup of
crescent moon that hung suspended in the west. In another hour it would
be gone and the dense tropical dark would descend. The time had arrived
to commence the operation.

He reflected grimly on how it had come to this. The ultimate
responsibility, he knew, must be laid at the door of a greedy
Parliament. Before the monarchy was abolished, the American settlements
had been the personal domain of the king, and they had suffered little
interference from Commons. Scarce wonder Parliament's execution of
Charles was received with so much trepidation and anger here--yesterday
he'd heard that in Virginia the Assembly had just voted to hang anyone
heard defending the recent "traitorous proceedings" in England. What
these Americans feared, naturally enough, was that Parliament would
move to try and take them over. They were right. And the richest prize
of all was not Virginia, not Massachusetts, but the sugar island of
Barbados. Why else had he been sent here first?

How could Oliver Cromwell have so misjudged these colonists? He thought
all they needed was intimidation, and expected the fleet to manage that
handily. What he'd failed to

understand was the strong streak of independence that had developed
here over the years, especially in Barbados. Instead of acting
sensibly, the islanders had met the fleet with a cannon barrage and a
Declaration stating that they would fight to the death for their
liberty. What was worse, they had steadfastly refused to budge.

Even so, he had tried every means possible to negotiate a surrender.
He'd started a propaganda campaign, sending ashore letters and posters
warning that resistance was foolhardy, that they needed the protection
of England. But Dalby Bedford's reply was to demand that the island be
allowed to continue governing itself by its own elected Assembly, when
everyone knew Parliament would never agree. Yet for a fortnight they
had continued their fruitless exchange of letters, cajolery, threats--
neither side willing to relent.

What else, he asked himself, was left to do now? Add to that, invasion
fever was becoming rife in the fleet. This morning he had hung out the
Flag of Council, summoning the captains of all the ships aboard the
_Rainbowe _for a final parlay, and over a luncheon table groaning with
meat and drink from the fourteen captured Dutch merchant fluyts, the
men had done little else save brag of victory. Finally, his last hope
of avoiding bloodshed gone, he had reluctantly issued orders. It had
come to this--England and her most populous American colony were going
to war.

He then spent the afternoon watch on the quarterdeck, alone, pensively
studying the flying fish that glided across the surface of the tranquil
blue Caribbean. Hardest to repress was his own anguish at the prospect
of sending English infantry against a settlement in the Americas. These
New World venturers were not rebel Papist Irishmen, against whom
Cromwell might well be justified in dispatching his army. They were
fellow Protestants.

As he turned and ordered the anchor weighed, he experienced yet another
disquieting reflection--unless there was

some weakness in the island he did not yet know, it could win.

"Are we ready to issue muskets now, and bandoliers of powder and shot?"
Vice Admiral James Powlett was coming up the companionway with a
purposeful stride.

He heard Powlett's question and decided to pass the decision on issuing
of arms to the invasion commander, Colonel Richard Morris, now waiting
beside him wearing breastplate and helmet.

Deep wrinkles from fifty years of life were set in Morris' brow, and
the descending dark did not entirely obscure the worry in his blue eyes
or the occasional nervous twitch in his Dutch-style goatee. A seasoned
army officer, he had chafed for days waiting to take his men ashore. On
board the ships, he and his infantry were under naval command. On land,
he would be in total charge. His impatience could not have been
greater.

During the forenoon watch he had personally visited each of the troop
ships and picked some two hundred of the fittest infantry for the
invasion. He had organized them into attack squadrons, appointed field
commanders, and held a briefing for the officers. Then the men had been
transferred in equal numbers to the Rainbowe, the Marston Moor, and the
Gloucester, where the captains had immediately ordered them down to the
already-crowded gun decks to await nightfall.

"We'll issue no arms till it's closer to time." Morris squinted at
Powlett through the waning moonlight. "I'll not have some recruit light
a matchcord in the dark down there between decks and maybe set off a
powder keg. Though I'd scarcely fault any man who did, considering the
conditions you've placed my infantry under."

"In truth, sir, I think we're all a trifle weary of hearing your
complaints about how the navy has been required to garrison your men."
Powlett scowled. "May I remind you that while you've seen fit to occupy
yourself grumbling, the navy has arranged to replenish our water and
provisions, courtesy of all the Butterboxes who were anchored in the
bay. In fact, I only just this afternoon finished inventorying the last
Dutch fluyt and securing her hatches."

Powlett paused to watch as the _Rainbowe _began to come about, her bow
turning north. She would lead the way along the coast, the other two
warships following astern and steering by a single lantern hanging from
her maintopmast. Their destination was the small bay off the settlement
at Jamestown, up the coast from Carlisle Bay.

"What this navy has done, sir," Morris' voice was rising, "is to seize
and pilfer the merchantmen of a nation England has not declared war
on."

"We don't need Letters of Marque to clear our American settlements of
these Dutchmen," Powlett continued. "They've grown so insolent and
presumptuous they're not to be suffered more. If we don't put a stop to
them, they'll soon make claim to all the Americas, so that no nation
can trade here but themselves. Besides, it's thanks to these
interloping Hollanders that we've now got fresh water and meat enough
to last for weeks."

"Aye, so I'm told, though my men have yet to see a sliver of this Dutch
meat we hear about."

"There's been time needed to inventory, sir. I've had the beef we took
cut into quarter pieces and pickled and put aboard the provision ships.
And the pork and mutton cut into half pieces and salted. We've got
enough in hand now to sit and watch this island starve, if it comes to
that."

Morris chewed on his lip and thought bitterly of the noonday Council of
War called aboard the _Rainbowe_. All the fleet captains had gorged
themselves on fresh pork and fat mutton, washing it down with fine
brandy and sack--all taken from the captain's larder of the
Kostverloren. "The treatment of my men on this voyage has been nothing
short of a crime." He continued angrily, "It cries to heaven, I swear
it."

The infantrymen had been confined to the hold for the entire trip, on
dungeonlike gun decks illuminated by only a few dim candles. Since
naval vessels required a far larger crew than merchant ships, owing to
the men needed for the gun crews, there was actually less space for
extra personnel than an ordinary merchantman would have afforded. A
frigate the size of the Rainbowe already had two watches of
approximately thirty men each, together with twenty-five or more
specialists--carpenters, cooks, gunnery mates. How, Morris wondered,
could they expect anything save sickness and misery on a ship when they
took aboard an additional hundred or two hundred landsmen sure to be
seasick for the whole of the voyage? Need anyone be surprised when his
soldiers were soon lying in their own vomit, surrounded by sloshing
buckets of excrement and too sick to make their way to the head up by
the bowsprit, where the seamen squatted to relieve themselves. Scarce
wonder more men died every day.

"What's your latest estimate of their strength here on this side of the
island?" Morris turned back to Powlett, trying to ignore the stench
that wafted up out of the scuttles. "Assuming the intelligence you've
been getting is worth anything."

"I can do without your tone, sir," the vice admiral snapped. "We have
it on authority that the rebels have managed to raise some six thousand
foot and four hundred horse. But their militia's strung out the length
of the coast. Any place we make a landing--unless it's bungled--we
should have the advantage of surprise and numbers. All you have to do
is storm the breastwork and spike their ordnance. It should be a
passing easy night's work."

"Nothing's easy. The trick'll be to land the men before they can alert
the entire island." Morris turned back to Calvert. "I'll need
flintlocks for the first wave, not matchlocks, if we're to have the
benefit of surprise. And I've got a feeling we'll need every advantage
we can muster."

"We can manage that easily enough. I'd guess we've got nearly two
hundred flintlocks. And about six hundred matchlocks. So I can issue
every man you have a musket and pike, and a bandolier with twelve
rounds of powder and shot. As well as six yards of matchcord for the
matchlocks."

"So what you're saying is, we've got mostly matchlocks?" Morris' voice
was grim.

"That's all their militia'll have, depend on it."

That was doubtless true, Morris told himself. It would be an oldstyle
war, but plenty deadly, for it all.

From the time some two centuries earlier when the musket came into
general use, the most common means for firing had been to ignite a
small amount of powder in an external container, the "powder pan,"
which then directed a flash through a tiny hole in the side of the
barrel, igniting the powder of the main charge. The powder pan of a
matchlock was set off using a burning "matchcord," a powder-impregnated
length of cotton twine kept lit in readiness for firing the gun. The
technique differed very little from the way a cannon was fired. A
smoldering end of the matchcord was attached to the hammer or "cock" of
the gun, which shoved it into the powder pan whenever the trigger was
pulled. An infantryman using a matchlock musket carried several yards
of matchcord, prudently burning at both ends. Matchlocks were cheap and
simple and the mainstay of regular infantry throughout Europe.

There was, however, an improved type of firing mechanism recently come
into use, called the flintlock, much preferred by sportsmen and anyone
wealthy enough to afford it. The flintlock musket ignited the powder in
the external pan by striking flint against steel when the trigger was
pulled, and it was a concealable weapon which could also be used in
rainy weather, since it did not require a burning cord. A flintlock
cost three or four times as much as a matchlock and required almost
constant maintenance by a skilled gunsmith. Morris suspected that
whereas a few of the rich royalist exiles on Barbados might own
flintlocks, most of the poorer planters probably had nothing more than
cheap matchlocks.

"We'd also be advised to off-load some provisions once

we get ashore, in case we get pinned down." Morris looked coldly at
Powlett. "I'm thinking a few quarters of that pickled beef you took
from the Dutchmen wouldn't be amiss."

"In time, sir. For now I can let you have twenty hogsheads of water,
and I'll set ashore some salt pork from our regular stores."

"What if I offered to trade all that for just a few kegs of brandy?"
Morris appealed to Calvert. "I warrant the men'd sooner have it."

Calvert glanced at Powlett, knowing the vice admiral had hinted at
their noonday Council he preferred keeping all the Dutch brandy for the
navy's men. "I'd say we can spare you a couple of kegs. It should be
enough for a day or two's supply. But I'll not send it ashore till the
breastwork is fully secured. . . ."

Now the _Rainbowe _was entering the outer perimeter of the small bay at
Jamestown, and the admiral excused himself to begin giving orders for
reefing the mainsail. Through the dark they could see the outline of
the torch-lit breastwork, a low brick fortress outlined against the
palms.

It's all but certain to be bristling with ordnance, Morris thought. And
what if their militia's waiting for us somewhere in those damned trees?
How many men will I lose before daylight?

He inhaled the humid night air, then turned to Powlett. "We should
start bringing the men up on deck. We've got to launch the longboats as
soon as we drop anchor. Before the militia in the breastwork has time
to summon reinforcements."

Powlett nodded and passed the order to the quartermaster. "Then I'll
unlock the fo'c'sle, so we can begin issuing muskets and bandoliers."

The infantrymen emerged from the hold in companies, each led by an
officer. The general mismatch of body armor, the "breast" and "back,"
bespoke what a ragtag army it was. Also, the helmets, or "pots," for
those fortunate enough to have one, were a mixture of all the age had
produced: some with flat brims, some that curled upward front and back.
Some were too large for their wearers, others too small. Doublets too
were a rainbow of colors, many with old-fashioned ruffs--taken from
dead or captured royalists during the Civil War--and the rest plain and
patched with rough country cloth.

The night perfume of the tropical shore and the sea was obliterated by
the stench of the emerging soldiers. Their faces were smeared with soot
from the beams of the gun decks where they had been quartered, and they
smelled strongly of sweat and the rankness of the hold. As they set
grimly to work readying their weapons, a row of longboats along
midships was unlashed and quietly lowered over the side. The two other
warships, which had anchored astern of the _Rainbowe_, also began
launching their invasion craft. Kegs of water, salt pork, and black
powder were assembled on deck and readied to be landed after the first
wave of the assault.

The guns of the warships were already primed and run out, set to
provide artillery support if necessary when the longboats neared the
beach. But with luck the breastwork could be overrun and its gun
emplacements seized before the militia had a chance to set and fire its
ordnance. Once the Jamestown fortress was disabled, there would be a
permanent breach in the island's defenses, a chink not easily repaired.

The longboats had all been lowered now, and they bobbed in a line along
the port side of the _Rainbowe_. Next, rope ladders were dropped and
the infantrymen ordered to form ranks at the gunwales. Those assigned
to lead the attack, all armed with flintlocks, were ordered over the
side first. They dropped down the dangling ladders one by one,
grumbling to mask their fear. The second wave, men with matchlocks,
were being issued lighted matchcord, which they now stood coiling about
their waists as they waited to disembark.

Edmond Calvert watched silently from the quarterdeck, heartsick. With
them went his last hope for negotiation. Now

it was a state of war, England against her own settlements in the New
World.



"Katy, all I'm trying to say is you'll jeopardize your chances for a
proper marriage if this goes on much more. I only hope you have some
idea of what you're about." Dalby Bedford leaned back in his chair and
studied the head of his cane, troubled by his conflicting emotions. The
night sounds from the compound outside, crickets and whistling frogs,
filtered in through the closed jalousies.

He loved his daughter more than life itself. What's more, he had vowed
long ago never to treat her as a child. And now . . . now that she no
longer was a child, what to do? It was too late to dictate to her; the
time for that was years ago. She was a woman now--she was no longer his
little girl. She was no longer his.

They'd always been best of friends. In the evenings they'd often meet
in the forecourt of the compound, where, after she was old enough to
understand such things, they would laugh over the latest gossip from
London: what pompous Lord had been cuckolded, whose mistress had caused
a scene at court. He had never thought to warn her that, as a woman,
she might someday have desires of her own.

But now, he was still her father, still worried over her, still wanted
the right thing for her . . . and she was throwing away her best chance
to secure a fine marriage--all for the company of a man whose rough
manner he could not help but despise, however much he might respect his
courage and talent.

Hugh Winston was the antithesis of everything Dalby Bedford stood for:
he was impulsive, contemptuous of law and order. How could Katy be
attracted to him, be so imprudent? Had she learned nothing in all their
years together?

Dalby Bedford found himself puzzled, disturbed, and--yes, he had to
admit it--a trifle jealous.

"Katy, you know I've never tried to interfere in what you choose to do,
but in truth I must tell you I'm troubled about this Winston. Your
carousing about with a smuggler is hardly demeanor fitting our position
here. I fear it's already been cause for talk."

She set down the leather bridle she was mending and lifted her eyes,
sensing his discomfort. "You'd suppose there were more important things
for the island to talk about, especially now."

"What happens to you is important to me; I should hope it's important
to you as well, young woman."

She straightened her skirt, and the edge of her crinoline petticoat
glistened in the candlelight. "Hugh's a 'smuggler' when I'm out with
him, but he's 'Captain Winston' when the militia needs a batch of raw
ten-acre freeholders drilled in how to form ranks and prime a musket. I
thought it was 'Captain Winston,' and not a 'smuggler' who's been
working night and day helping keep trained gunners manning all the
breastworks along the coast."

"There's no arguing with you, Katy. I gave that up long ago. I'm just
telling you to mind yourself." He swabbed his brow against the heat of
early evening and rose to open the jalousies. A light breeze whispered
through the room and fluttered the curtains. "I'll grant you he's been
a help to us, for all his want of breeding. But what do you know about
him? No man who lives the way he does can be thought a gentleman.
You've been out riding with him half a dozen times, once all the way
over to the breastwork at Oistins. In fact, you must have passed right
by the Walrond plantation. It's not gone unnoticed, you can be sure."

He settled back into his chair with a sigh and laid aside his cane.
These last few days he had realized more than ever how much he depended
on Katherine. "Anthony Walrond's a man of the world, but you can't push
him too far. I'm just telling you to try and be discreet. In faith, my
greater worry is that . . . that I'd sooner you were here with me more
now. Between us, I think the fleet's going to try and invade soon. If
not tonight, then tomorrow or the day after for certain. Talk has run
its course. And if we've got to fight the English army on our own
beaches, God help us."

He could sense the unity on the island dissolving. Many of the smaller
planters were growing fearful, and morale in the militia was visibly
deteriorating. Half the men would just as soon have done with the
constant alerts and dwindling supplies. There was scarcely any meat to
be had now, and flour was increasingly being hoarded and rationed.
Cassava bread was finding its way onto the tables of English planters
who a fortnight earlier would have deemed it fit only for indentures--
while the indentures themselves, God knows, were being fed even less
than usual. Without the steady delivery of provisions by the Dutch
shippers, there probably would be starvation on Barbados inside a
month. And with all the new Africans on the island, many militiamen
were reluctant to leave their own homes unprotected. Little wonder so
many of the smaller freeholders were openly talking about surrender.

"Katy, I hate to ask this, but I do wish you'd stay here in the
compound from now on. It's sure to be safer than riding about the
island, no matter who you're with."

"I thought I was of age. And therefore free to come and go as I wish."

"Aye, that you are. You're twenty-three and twice as stubborn as your
mother ever was. I just don't want to lose you too, the way I lost
her." He looked at her, his eyes warm with concern. "Sometimes you seem
so much like her. Only I think she truly loved Bermuda. Which I'll
warrant you never really did."

"It always seemed so tame." She knew how much he cherished those few
years of happiness, before his long stretch of widowerhood in Barbados.
"There's a wildness and a mystery about this island I never felt
there."

"Aye, you were of your own opinion, even then. But still

I've always been regretful I agreed to take this post." He paused and
his look darkened. "Especially considering what happened on the trip
down. If only I'd taken your mother below decks when the firing began,
she'd still be with us."

"But she wanted to see the canoes." She picked up the bridle again. "I
did too."

"Well, you've been a comfort to a dull old man--no, don't try and deny
it--more than any father has a right to expect, I suppose. You became a
woman that day your mother died, no question of it." The sparkle
returned to his eyes. "You'd never do anything I told you after that.
May God curse you with a daughter of your own someday, Katy Bedford.
Then you'll know what it's like."

At that moment she wanted nothing so much as to slip her arms around
his neck and tell him she would be his dutiful daughter forever. But
she was no longer sure it was true.

"Now admit it to me, Katy. This is no time for pretense. You're smitten
with this Winston, aren't you? I can see the change in you." He watched
as she busied herself with the bridle, trying not to look surprised. "I
realize you're a woman now. I suppose I can understand how a man like
him might appeal to you. And I guess there's nothing wrong with having
a bit of a dalliance. God knows it's fashionable in London these days.
But your Winston's a curious fellow, and there're doubtless a lot of
things about him neither of us knows." He looked at her. "I'm sure your
mother wouldn't have approved, any more than I do."

"What does she have to do with this?" She knew he always invoked her
mother's alleged old-fashioned views any time he couldn't think of a
better argument.

"Perhaps you're right. What you do now is on my head, not hers." He
paused, not wanting to meet her eyes. "I'll grant you I might have
sowed a few wild oats myself, when I was your age. And I can't say I've
entirely regretted it. The fact is, as I get older that's one of the
few things from my early years I remember at all. After a while, all
other memories fade." His voice drifted away. "And now, the way things
have come to pass, these days may be the last either of us has left to
. . ." He raised his hand suddenly, as though to silence himself. From
down the hill came the faint crack of a musket, then another and
another. Three shots.

They both waited, listening in the dim candlelight as the night sounds
of crickets and frogs resumed once more. Finally he spoke.

"Well, there it is."

She rose and walked over behind his chair. She hesitated for a moment,
then slipped her arms around his neck and nuzzled her cheek against
his. There were so many things shed wanted to say to him over the
years. Now suddenly it was almost too late, and still she couldn't find
the words. She wanted to hold him now, but something still stopped her.

Silently he touched her hand, then reached for his cane and stood.
"I've ordered the carriage horses kept harnessed, in case." He was
already halfway to the door. "I suppose I'd best go down to the Point
first, just to be sure."

"I want to go with you." She grabbed the bridle and ran after him. To
let him get away, with so much still unsaid. . . .

"No, you'll stay here, and for once that's an order." He took her hand
and squeezed it. "I didn't tell you that five members of the Assembly
have already called for surrender. Five out of twenty-two. I wonder how
many more'll be ready to join them after tonight. If the Assembly votes
to give in, Katy, you know it'll probably mean a trial in London for
me." He kissed her on the cheek. "You'll have to look out for yourself
then, and that'll be time aplenty to go chasing around the island in
the dark." He drew back. "In the meantime, you'd best decide what you
plan to do about this Winston fellow if that happens. Don't go losing
your heart to him. He's a rogue who'll not do the right thing by you.
Or any woman. Mark it. A father still can see a few things. He's
already got one woman, that ship of his, and a seaman like that never
has room for anyone else."

She had to concede that, in truth, there was something to what he said.
Up till now shed been managing to keep things in balance. But was she
starting to let desire overrule that better judgment? For the hundredth
time she warned herself to keep her head.

"In the first place I don't wish to marry Hugh Winston. So it's just as
well, isn't it, that he's got his ship. I see all too well what he is.
I'm going to marry Anthony, and try and make the best of things." Her
eyes hardened. "And secondly, we're not going to lose. You just have to
delay the Assembly from voting a surrender. Hugh thinks the militia can
drive them back."

"Aye, we may hold out for a time. We've got trained gunners for every
breastwork on the west and south coasts. But how long before some of
the militia starts defecting? Then what can we do? With guns at our
backs as well . . ." He exhaled pensively. "By the way, on the subject
of Winston, I've noticed something a trifle incongruous about that man.
He appears to know a lot more about cannon and fortifications than a
seaman reasonably ought, probably as much or more even than Anthony
Walrond. Has he ever said where he learned it?"

"He never talks much about his past." She had found herself
increasingly puzzled, and not a little infuriated, by Winston's
secretiveness. Probably the only woman he ever confided in was Joan
Fuller. "But sometimes I get the idea he may have learned a lot of what
he knows from a Frenchman. Now and then he slips and uses a French name
for something. I'd almost guess he helped a band of Frenchmen set up
defenses somewhere in the Caribbean once."

Dalby Bedford quietly sucked in his breath and tried to mask his
dismay. The only "band of Frenchmen" to fit that description would be
the little settlement of planters on the French side of St.
Christopher, or the Cow-Killers on Tortuga. And Hugh Winston hardly
looked like a planter.

"Well, maybe it's just as well we don't know, Katy." He reached for his
hat. "Now mind yourself, and make sure all the servants have muskets.
Don't open the door to anyone." He pecked her quickly on the cheek.
"Just be glad your friend Winston's frigate is aground. His 'other
woman' is beached for now; try and keep her that way."

Suddenly James, their stooping, white-haired Irish servant pushed
through the doorway from the paneled entry foyer. The night breeze set
the candles flickering. "Excellency!" He bowed nervously. "Pardon me,
Excellency. There's a . . . gentleman to see you. He just rode into the
compound all in a sweat. Claims he's come up from Mistress Fuller's
place."



The Assembly had voted to place Hugh Winston in command of the gunnery
crews for the cannon emplacements at the four major breastworks along
the coast: Lookout Point, Bridgetown, and Jamestown on the west; and
Oistins Bay, on the south. In line with that responsibility, he had
taken the front room of Joan's tavern and converted it into a meeting
place for his gunnery officers. Several of Joan's rickety pine tables
had been lashed together to form a desk; from that makeshift post he
assigned the daily watches for each of the breastworks and monitored
supplies. He also maintained close communication with the commanders of
the field militia, both infantry and cavalry, who were drawn from the
ranking planters and royalist officers in each parish. The militia
itself had individual field command posts in each of the parish
churches.

The tavern was a comfortable rendezvous place for the men assigned to
the guns, mostly seamen or former seamen who had gained their
experience with heavy ordnance on a gun deck. Joan's familiar clapboard
establishment enjoyed a commanding view of the harbor, and, unlike the
parish churches, offered the finest food and grog remaining on the
island. Joan presided over the accommodations, making sure necessary
amenities were always at hand. She also kept a close eye on the
loyalties of those who gathered.

Tonight, however, the tavern was all but empty save for Winston, his
quartermaster John Mewes and his master's mate Edwin Spurre, since all
gunnery mates were on alert and at their posts at the various
breastworks along the coast. The three of them were waiting for the
signal, horses saddled and ready.

The night was clear and humid, and a light breeze had just sprung up in
the south. Winston leaned against the doorjamb, half in and half out,
exhausted from a day-long ride reviewing gun emplacements along the
shore. John Mewes was stationed outside on the porch, tankard in hand,
keeping an eye on the sentry post atop Lookout Point. A system of
lantern signals had been arranged to alert the Bridgetown command post
to any change in the disposition of the fleet.

"I've got a feelin' about tonight, Cap'n. Word from up on the Point at
midday was they were holdin' a big meetin' aboard the _Rainbowe_. An'
then she got underway and made about a league out to sea, along with
the troop ships." Mewes took a nervous puff from the long stem of his
white clay pipe. "I'd say it's odds they're planning a little surprise
for us tonight. More'n likely somewhere along the west coast."

"I've got the same feeling, John." He strolled across the narrow porch
and stared up the hill, toward the sentry post stationed at the north
end of the Point. "What was the latest signal?"

"Same as usual. Five flashes on the quarter hour, meanin' no
sightings." Mewes reached to tap his pipe against the heavy beam at the
corner of the building. "I told tonight's watch to report anything that
moved. But they'll be hard pressed to see much beyond the bay here."

"Then you stay lively too. And try not to get too thirsty." Winston
lifted a flintlock musket he had brought ashore from the _Defiance_ and
tested the lock by the light of a candle lantern. Next he started
polishing the barrel with a cloth he had borrowed from Joan. "I've got
an idea they may try and land up at Jamestown, or maybe even farther
north."

"Then hadn't we best advise the militia commanders to double the
security on the breastwork up that way?"

"I spoke with Walrond, up at Jamestown, late this afternoon. We both
figure that's the most likely location. He's already ordered up
reinforcements for tonight." He drew a musket patch from his pocket and
began to clean the sooty powder pan of the musket.

"I didn't see any militia moving out from around here."

"Nobody was to move till dark. We don't want the fleet's Puritan spies
here to know we're ready. We'd lose our chance to catch their infantry
in a noose."

"Betwixt you an' me, I'd just as soon they never got around to landing
infantry." Mewes shifted up his trousers. "A man could well get his
balls shot off amidst all that musket fire."

Winston pulled back the hammer of the musket, checking its tension.
"Sometimes I wonder why the hell I keep you on, John. I'd wager most of
Joan's girls have more spirit for a fight."

"Aye, I'd sooner do my battlin' on a feather mattress, I'll own it. So
the better question is why I stay on under your command."

"Could be the fine caliber of men you're privileged to ship with."

"Aye, that crew of gallows-bait are a rare species of gentility, as I'm
a Christian." He started to laugh, then it died in his throat. "God's
wounds, was that a signal up at the point?"

"Looked to be." Winston flipped over the musket and examined the
barrel. Then he selected a "charge holder"--a tiny metal flask--from
among the twelve strung from the bandolier draped over his shoulder and
began pouring its black powder into the muzzle. "Three longs and a
short. That means a mast lantern putting in at Jamestown, right?" He
fitted a patch over the ramrod and began to tamp in the powder.
"Probably the _Rainbowe_. "

"Aye, that's the signal." Mewes shoved the pipe into his pocket. "Want
me to fetch the muskets?"

"Tell Joan to give you those two leaning in the corner, at the back. I
just got through priming them."

Mewes vaulted the steps leading to the open tavern door. Seconds later,
Joan appeared, holding the two flintlocks.

"What is it, darlin'?" Her eyes were bloodshot with fatigue. "Are we
finally due for some company?"

"Right on schedule. The surf's been down all day. I figured they'd try
it tonight." He finished tapping the ball down the muzzle of the
musket, then placed the gun carefully on the step. "I guess that means
I win our wager."

"God's blood, I never thought it'd come to this. I was sure they'd
never have the brass to try it." She passed him the muskets. "So we'll
be going to war after all. I'd wager you another shilling you'll not
hold them off, darlin', save there'd be no way to collect if I won."

"All wagers are off now. This one's too hard to call." He handed one of
the flintlocks to John Mewes, then cocked the other and aimed it into
the dark night air. "Ready, John?"

"Aye." Mewes cocked the musket and aimed it at the sliver of moon on
the western horizon. "Tell me again. The signal for Jamestown's one
shot, a count of five, another shot, a count of ten, and then the
third?"

"That's it."

"Fire when ready."

Winston squeezed the trigger and the powder pan flashed in the dark.
Five seconds later Mewes discharged the second musket, then after ten
seconds Winston fired the third, the one he had just loaded.

"All right, John. Get the horses."

"Aye." Mewes disappeared around the side of the tavern, headed for the
makeshift stable located at the rear.

Approximately a minute later the signal of three musket shots was
repeated by militiamen in the field command post at Black Rock, on the
road to Jamestown. Shortly after there again came a faint repetition of
the pattern of shots, farther north. The prearranged signal was moving
quickly up the coast.

Mewes emerged from the dark leading two speckled mares. He patted one
on the side of her face, muttered an endearment, then passed the reins
to Winston. "I'm ready to ride."

"All right, John, I'll see you at Jamestown. Put Spurre in charge here
and go up to the governor's compound to tell Bedford. If he's not
there, then try the Assembly Room. If they're meeting tonight, tell
them to adjourn and get every man up to Jamestown, on the double. We
may need them all."

Mewes bellowed instructions through the doorway. Then he seized the
saddle horn of the smaller horse and pulled himself up. "Aye. I'll be
up there myself soon as I can manage, depend on it."

Joan stood beside Winston, watching as he vanished into the dark. "Well
now, that's most curious." She cocked back her head and her eyes
snapped in the lantern light. "I'm surprised you'd not take the
opportunity to go up to His Excellency's compound yourself. Seein'
you're so well acquainted with the family these days."

"All in the line of duty."

"Duty my arse, you whoremaster. But you'll get what you deserve from
that one, on my honor. She thinks she's royalty itself." She held the
reins while he mounted. "Don't say I didn't give you a friendly
warning."

"I'm warned." He vaulted into the saddle as Edwin Spurre emerged
through the doorway to assume lookout duty. "Edwin, prime and ready the
muskets. In case they try to attack on two fronts. Do you know the
signals?"

"Aye, Cap'n." Joan handed up the reins. "Godspeed. You know if you let
those Puritan hypocrites take over the island, there'll be a lot of
wives thinkin' they can finally close me down. Just because they've got
nothing better to fret about."

"We'll win." He looked at Joan a moment and reached out to take her
hand. Tonight he felt almost like he was defending the only home he had
left. Now he had no ship, and Jamaica seemed farther away than ever.

He leaned over in the saddle and kissed her. She ran her arms around
his neck, then drew back and pinched his cheek. "Show those Roundhead
bastards a thing or two about how to shoot, love. I'm counting on you,
though damned if I know why."

"Just keep the grog under lock and key till I get back." He waved
lightly, then reined the mare toward the road north.

As the horse clattered across the loose boards of the bridge, he
glanced over his shoulder, up the hill toward the compound. What'll
happen to Bedford and Katy, he wondered to himself, if we can't hold
off the attack? It'll be the Tower and a trial for him, not a doubt.
Probably charged with leading a rebellion. And what about her . . .?

More riders were joining him now, militiamen who had been waiting for
the signal. The distance to Jamestown was several miles, and they were
all riding hard. None spoke, other than a simple greeting, each man
thinking of the stakes. No one wanted to contemplate what would happen
should they lose.

We'll win, he kept telling himself as he spurred his mare. By God, we
have to.



Chapter Eleven


Jeremy Walrond slid his hand down the long steel barrel of the
flintlock, letting his fingers play across the Latin motto engraved
along the top, _Ante ferit quam flamma micet_. "It strikes before the
flash is seen."

The piece had been given to him on his twelfth birthday by his brother
Anthony, and it was superb--crafted in Holland, with a fine Flemish
lock and carved ivory insets of hunting scenes in the stock. With it he
had once, in a stroke of rare luck, brought down a partridge in flight.
Now through a dismaying and improbable chain of events he must turn
this work of artistry against a fellow human being.

It was true he had been part of the royalist cause in the Civil War, a
clerk helping direct the transport of supplies, but he had never been
near enough to the lines to fire a musket. Or to have a musket fired at
him. The thought of battle brought a moistness to his palms and a dull,
hollow ache in his gut.

While the men around him in the trench--all now under his command--
reinforced their courage with a large onion-flask of homemade kill-
devil, he gazed over the newly mounded earth and out to sea, ashamed at
his relief there was as yet no flash of lantern, no telltale red dots
of burning matchcord.

The only moving lights were the darting trails of fireflies, those
strange night creatures that so terrified newcomers to the Caribbees.
In a few more moments the last of the moon, now a thin lantern, would
drop beneath the western horizon, causing the coast and the sea to be
swallowed in blackness. After that happened, he told himself, he might
see nothing more, hear nothing more, till the first musket ball slammed
home.

War, he meditated, was man's greatest folly. Excused in the name of
abstractions like "liberty" and "country" and "dignity." But what
dignity was there for those who died with a musket ball in their chest?
No beast of the earth willfully killed its own kind. Only man, who then
styled himself the noblest of God's creatures.

He loosened his hot lace collar, hoping to catch some of the on-again,
off-again breeze that had risen in the south and now swept the pungent
smell of Bridgetown's harbor up along the coast. Aside from the rattle
of militiamen's bandoliers and occasional bursts of gallows laughter,
the only sounds were night noises--the clack of foraging land crabs,
the chirps and whistles of crickets and toads, the distant batter of
surf and spray against the sand. Inland, the green hills of Barbados
towered in dark silence.

He looked out to sea once more and realized the surf was beginning to
rise, as wave after frothy wave chased up the crystalline sand of the
shore, now bleached pale in the last waning moonlight. The ships were
out there, he knew, waiting. He could almost feel their presence.

Both the trench and the breastwork were back away from the shore--back
where the sand merged with brown clay and the first groves of palms,
heralds of the hardwood thickets farther upland. Through the palms he
could barely discern the silhouettes of the gunners as they loitered
alongside the heavy ordnance, holding lighted linstocks. Fifteen cannon
were there tonight, ranging in gauge from nine to eighteen-pound shot,
shielded on the sea side by a head-high masonry wall cut with
battlements for the guns.

Though the original Jamestown gun emplacement had been built two
decades earlier, as a precaution against Spanish attack, that threat
had faded over the years, and gradually the planters of Barbados had
grown complacent. They had permitted the fort to slowly decay, its guns
to clog with rust from the salt air.

How ironic, he thought, that now an English attack, not Spanish, had
finally occasioned its first repairs. Over the past fortnight the old
cannon had been cleaned of rust and primed; and new Dutch guns, all
brass, had been hauled up by oxcart from Carlisle Bay and set in place.
Now six of these, small demi-culverin, had just been removed from the
breastwork and hauled to safety inland at first word of the invasion.

He heard the murmur of approaching voices and looked up to see two
shadowy figures moving along the dirt parapet that protected the
trench. One was tall and strode with a purposeful elegance; the other
lumbered.

"It'll be a cursed dark night once we've lost the moon, and that's when
they're apt to start launching the longboats. Damn Winston if he's not
in place by then. Are his men over where they're supposed to be?" The
hard voice of Benjamin Briggs drifted down. The silhouette that was
Anthony Walrond merely nodded silently in reply.

Jeremy rose and began climbing up the parapet, his bandolier rattling.
Anthony turned at the noise, recognized him, and motioned him forward.

"Are your men ready?"

"Yes, sir."

Anthony studied him thoughtfully a moment. "Watch yourself tonight,
lad." He paused, then looked away. "Do remember to take care."

"That I will." Jeremy broke the silence between them. "But I'm not
afraid, truly." He patted his bandolier for emphasis, causing the
charge holders to clank one against the other. He knew he owed his
assignment of the rank of ensign--which normally required holdings of
at least fifteen acres--and the leadership of a squad solely to the
influence of his older brother, who commanded the vital Jamestown
defenses by unanimous consent of the Assembly.

Jeremy's militiamen--eight in number--were all small freeholders with
rusty matchlocks and no battle experience. He had been too ashamed to
tell Anthony he didn't desire the honor of being an officer. It was
time to prove he was a Walrond.

"Jeremy, we all know fear, but we learn to rise above it. You'll make
me proud tonight, I'll lay odds." He reached and adjusted the buckle of
the shoulder strap holding Jeremy's sword. "Now have your men light
their matchcord and ready the prime on their muskets."

Jeremy gave his brother a stiff salute and passed the order into the
trench. A burning taper was handed slowly down the line of men, and
each touched it to the tip of his matchcord, then threaded the glowing
fuse through the serpentine cock of his musket. He secretly rejoiced he
had a new-style flintlock; at least there would be no lighted matchcord
to betray his own whereabouts in the dark. He stood for a moment
watching his men prepare, then glanced back at the squat outline of
Benjamin Briggs. What, he wondered, was he doing here tonight?

Briggs was gazing down at the parapet now, critically scuffing his
boots against the soft earth. "This trench of yours will do damned
little to protect these lads from cannon fire if somebody in the fleet
takes a mind to shell the breastwork. I pray to God it was worth the
time and trouble."

A crew of indentures, as well as many of Winston's new men, had worked
around-the-clock for three days digging the trench. The idea had come
from Anthony Walrond.

"I'm betting on an invasion, not an artillery duel." Anthony nodded
toward Jeremy one last time, a light farewell, then turned back to
Briggs. "An open shelling with their big ordnance would be foolhardy;
right now it's too dark to try and fire on our emplacements. Add to
that, we have word the commander in charge of the army is a Roundhead
rogue named Dick Morris. I know him all too well. He doesn't believe in
a lot of cannon fire, when a few men can achieve what he wants. He'll
just try to land enough men to overrun and disable our guns."

"Well and all, may Almighty God damn our luck that it's come down to
this. The last thing we need is war with England. But if it's fight we
must, then I say give them our all. And don't let them catch us short."
Briggs gazed past Jeremy, down the trench. "Do all these men have
enough matchrope, powder, and shot?"

Anthony felt himself nearing his limit of tolerance for civilians. All
the planter had found to do since arriving was denigrate their
readiness. "We've managed to get bandoliers, and 'the twelve apostles,'
for all the men"--he deliberately used the irreverent battlefield
nickname for the dozen charge-holders of musket powder on a standard
bandolier--"and there's plenty of matchcord, with what we got from the
Dutchmen before they were seized." He tightened his eye-patch and
surveyed the line of ragged planters and indentures marshalled down the
trench, trying to envision them under attack. The picture was
discouraging, at the very least.

How many here have ever taken musket fire, he wondered. This bunker
will likely be overrun by the first wave of Morris' infantry. God curse
Cromwell for sending him. He's tenacious as an English bulldog. And
crafty as a fox. He'll land the pick of his troops, and the minute they
open fire, it's odds this line of farmers will panic and run for those
green hills. We've got superiority of numbers, but it doesn't mean a
thing. What we need, and don't have, is nerve, experience, and most of
all, the will to fight. I'll wager not one man in ten here tonight has
all three.

"I'd like to know, sir, what's your true opinion of the plan that's
been worked out." Briggs turned to Walrond, hating the man's arrogance
and his royalist politics, yet respecting his military experience. He
had led a royalist attack at the battle of Marsten Moor that was still
remembered as one of the most daring maneuvers of the Civil War. "Do
you think we can catch their landing force in a bind, the way we're
hoping?"

Anthony moved away from the edge of the trench. "Taken all for all,
it's about the best we can do. If it succeeds, well and good, but if it
fails, we're apt to end up . . ."

Jeremy tried to hear the rest, but Anthony's voice faded into the dark
as he and Briggs moved on down the parapet.

The night was closing in again. Having drained their flask of kill-
devil, the militiamen were grumbling nervously as they waited in a line
down the trench, backs to the newly turned earth. Again the sounds of
the dark swelled up around them--the chirps and whistles, the
monotonous pendulum of surf in the distance.

War. Was it mainly waiting?

Maybe there would be no landing. How preposterous all this would seem
then. Tomorrow he would wake in his featherbed, dreaming he was back in
England, laughing at the absurdity of it all. Sense would prevail. The
fleet would hoist sail. . . .

A volley of musket fire exploded from the direction of the breastwork.

Shouts. Then clustered points of light, the tips of burning matchcord
on the infantry's muskets, suddenly appeared along the shore.

The first attackers had crept up behind the cannon and fired into the
gunners with flintlocks, so there would be no smoldering ignition match
on their muskets to betray them. Those in the second wave had somehow
masked their lighted matchcord until their longboats pulled into the
surf. Now, after the surprise attack on the gun emplacement, they were
splashing ashore, holding their muskets high.

Jeremy watched as the flickering red dots spread out along

the shore in disciplined rows. For a moment he had the impression
Jamestown was being attacked by strings of fireflies that had emerged
from the deep Caribbean sea.

"Prepare to fire." He heard a voice giving the order, and was vaguely
astonished to realize it was his own.

The trench sounded with the clicks of powder pans being opened and
hammers being readied.

"Take aim." That was the phrase; he had started practicing it five days
before, when he was assigned the command. But now, what next? Aim
where? The fireflies were inching up the shore in deadly rows. There
looked to be hundreds. They would spew lead shot the moment the
militia's trench was revealed.

He knew that the order to fire the first round must come from Anthony.
Why was he waiting? The Roundhead infantry must be no more than fifty
yards down the shore. He felt his palm grow moist against the ivory of
the stock, and for a moment he thought he smelled an acrid stench of
fear down the trench.

More muskets blazed from the rear of the brick fortress, followed by
screams and shouts of surrender. In the jumble of musket fire and
lanterns he could tell that the Jamestown breastwork had been circled
and seized: its gunners overwhelmed, its cannon still directed
impotently out toward the dark sea. Only two culverin had been fired.
He watched heartsick as the invading infantrymen, breastplates shining
in the lantern light, swarmed over the guns.

The militia manning the cannons had been sacrificed. Deliberately. To
draw in the rest of the invading force. He felt his anger welling up.
In war the men who actually fought counted for nothing.

Where was the rest of the militia? Were they waiting at the right
perimeter, as they were supposed to be?

He knew that the plan all along had been to let the guns be seized. But
now that it had happened, he felt a demoralizing pang of loss and
defeat. Why should the gunners be exposed to a musket attack? Surely
there was some other way. . . .

"Give fire!"

He heard Anthony's command and felt his heart jump. The infantry was
practically in pistol range. This was going to be near to murder. The
trigger felt cold against his finger as he sighted into the dark,
directly toward one of the approaching tips of fire.

The gun flashed and kicked upward. The parapet was suddenly bathed in
light as the long line of muskets around him discharged. He gasped for
breath as the air in the trench turned to smoke--burning charcoal and
saltpeter. The points of light danced in chaos, and then he heard
screams.

The man next to him, a grizzled, frightened freeholder, had clambered
up the loose dirt of the parapet to gain a better view of the fighting
at the breastwork. Jeremy realized that this man, too, had never
witnessed a battle before.

Then came a row of flashes from where the red dots had been, like the
long string of exploding rockets fired over the Thames on St. George's
Day. The freeholder beside him suddenly groaned and pitched backward,
his smoking matchlock plowing into the soft dirt of the parapet as he
sprawled downward into the trench. Then another man, farther down,
screamed and doubled over his gun.

"Half-cock your muskets, disengage your match," Jeremy heard himself
shouting. "Prepare to recharge."

Anthony had coached him that one of the primary duties of a field
officer was to call out orders for priming and loading, since men in
battle often forgot crucial steps. With a live matchcord attached to
the hammer, it was all too easy to set off a musket while you were
ramming in the charge.

"Prime your pan." He tried to bellow above the din as he began pouring
priming powder from a flask on his bandolier into the flintlock's
powder pan. "Close your pan. Prepare to scour."

As he and the men quickly cleaned the barrels of their

muskets, then began to ram in more powder and shot, he kept glancing
toward the approaching infantry. They too had paused to reload. He
could see the outlines of the men now, and hear the shouts of officers.

Which men were officers?

At the end of one row of infantrymen stood a tall man in a silver
helmet who seemed to be issuing the commands for reloading. He must be
one, Jeremy realized. He's faster at reloading than the others. He's
almost ready.

That man, tall and comely, would make a passing good companion to share
a hunt, afield and stalking grouse on a dew-laden morning. If we were
both back in England now . . .

Except . . . he's here to kill me.

"You!" He shouted a challenge as he climbed up the parapet, readying
his flintlock. There were shouts from the militiamen behind him,
warning him to come down, but he did not hear, did not want to hear.

The officer in the silver helmet looked up and spotted the outline of
the brash youth standing atop the parapet, brandishing a musket. He
knew.

Jeremy watched as the man drew up his musket and took aim. He waited a
moment in fascination, savoring what it was like to face death, then
drew up his own flintlock and sighted the man's chest down the barrel.

There was a flash of light and a whistle past his ear, the sound of a
hurried horsefly.

Then he squeezed the trigger.

The Roundhead officer opened his mouth noiselessly and seemed to wilt
backward. He fumbled for his musket as it clattered against a jagged
lump of coral beside him, then sprawled onto the sand, still as death,
his helmet circling in drunken arcs down the slope toward the surf.

"Sir, mind you take cover!"

In the flush sweeping over him, he scarcely felt the hands tugging at
his boots. He was still gripping his flintlock, knuckles white, as the
other militiamen dragged him back into the trench.

He lay panting, at once dazed and exhilarated, astonished at the
sensations of his own mind and body. The most curious thing of all was
his marvelous new awareness of being alive; he was adrift in a new
realm of the spirit, untroubled by the cacophony of musket discharges
from all sides.

"We're turnin' the whoresons back." There were more shouts now, even
some cheers. Finally the din of battle cut through his reverie.

"Prepare to reload." He was shouting again, almost more to himself than
to the others, trying to be heard above the crack of musket fire that
sounded down the length of the shoreline. Everywhere there were
flashes, yells, screams. The air in the trench was rancid and opaque
with black smoke.

As he began reloading his musket he suddenly felt a new closeness,
almost a mystical union, with the ragged planters around him. They were
a fraternity of men, standing together, defending their land. Why had
Anthony never told him that war could be like this? Could teach you
brotherhood as well as hate?

He was priming his powder pan again, trying to control the shake of his
hands as he tilted the powder flask, when he looked up to see that more
red tips were emerging from the darkness of the sea. Another wave of
Roundhead infantry had landed in longboats.

There was no longer any purpose in calling out a loading sequence. Some
men were priming now, some ramming in powder and shot, some threading
their matchcord into the hammer, some firing again. All the discipline
he had been taught so carefully by Anthony was irrelevant.

Most frightening of all, while the first wave of infantry had dropped
back to reload, a fresh line of musketmen was advancing toward the
parapet, guns primed and ready.

 "Fire and fall back. In orderly fashion."

It was the voice of Anthony. The call to abandon the trench

meant that all the Roundhead infantry had landed. Now they were to be
drawn inland with a feigned retreat.

The plan worked out was to resist strongly until all the infantry were
ashore, to damage them as much as possible using the protection of the
parapet, and then to fall back into the trees, luring them away from
their longboats. When their lines were thinned, Hugh Winston would lead
a cavalry charge that would drive a wedge along the shore, between the
infantry and the sea, cutting off their escape. Next the longboats
would be driven off, and the invading infantry slowly surrounded. They
would be harassed by irregular fire and, with luck, soon lose heart.
Cut off from their escape route, the demoralized invaders would have no
choice but to surrender. Then, so the strategy went, Commander Morris
and the admiral of the fleet would seek to negotiate.

Jeremy fired blindly into the dark, then reached down for his pike. As
he touched it, his eyes met those of the dying freeholder lying beside
him. Blood now streamed from a gash in the man's tattered jerkin, while
a red rivulet flowed in pulses from the corner of his mouth. The sight
flooded him with anger.

"No!" He heard himself yelling as he groped down his bandolier for
another charge-holder. "No retreat." He turned to the startled men
around him. "Reload. I say no retreat!"

"But that's the orders, Yor Worship." A bearded militiaman had already
begun to scramble up the back side of the trench.

"Devil take the orders. Look." He seized the militiaman's jerkin and
yanked him back, then pointed to the dying freeholder at their feet.

"Aye, that's Roland Jenkins, may God rest his soul. I'm like to be the
one tellin' his wife." The freeholder gave a quick glance. "But there's
nothin' to be done, Yor Worship. Orders are to retreat."

"And I say damn the orders." He was yelling to all the men now. "There
are men here, wounded and dying. I'm staying with them. What kind of
soldiers are we, to leave these men to die? It's wrong. There're higher
orders to be obeyed. I say no."

"An' we'll all end up like this poor sod, Yor Worship. There's no
helpin' a man who's gone to meet his God." The man threw his musket
onto the fresh dirt at the bottom of the trench and turned to begin
clambering to safety. "For my own part, I can do just as well not
greetin' the Almighty for a few years more."

Jeremy seized his pike and marched down the trench. "I'll gut any man
who tries to run. I'm in command here and I say we stand and fight. Now
reload."

The men stared at him in disbelief.

"Do it, I say." He brandished the pike once more for emphasis, then
flung it down and seized a charge-holder on his bandolier. Without so
much as a glance at the other men, he began pouring the grainy black
powder into the barrel of his musket.

The world was suddenly a white, deafening roar.

Later he remembered mainly the flash, how as the smoke seared his eyes
he recalled his own negligence, that he had forgotten to scour the
barrel. It was a fool's mistake, a child's mistake. He was still wiping
his eyes, seared and powder-burned, when he felt the musket being
ripped from his hands. As he groped to seize it back, rough hands
shoved him sprawling against the soft dirt of the trench. His face
plowed into the earth, which still smelled fresh, musky and ripe, full
of budding life.

"We've got another one, sor." A brash voice sounded near his ear. "A
right coxcomb, this rebel."

"Damn you." Jeremy struck out, only half aware of the cluster of
infantrymen surrounding him.

"Just hold yourself, lad." There were shouts as several of the wounded
militiamen were disarmed. He tried to struggle, but more hands
brusquely wrestled him down. "This one's not taken any shot. He's
lively as a colt. Let's have some of that rope."

He felt his arms being pulled behind him and a rough cord lashed around
his wrists. There were sounds of a brief conference, then a voice came,
kindly, almost at his ear.

"This is a first-class fowling piece you're carrying. I'll wager you've
brought down many a plump woodcock with it, haven't you lad?" A pause,
then again the gentle voice. "What's your name, son?"

"Damned to you. What's your name?" There was a sickening hollowness in
his gut again. The fear, and now hatred--for them, and for himself.

"It's better, for the time, if I ask the questions and you answer
them." The voice emanated from a man wearing a silver helmet and
sporting a short goatee. "Why didn't you run, like the rest of the
rebels?" He laughed lightly as he moved closer. Jeremy felt a palm cup
beneath his chin and felt his head being twisted upward. "By my word, I
think your musket misfired. Your face is black as a Moor's. I'll
warrant you'd have run too, if you could have seen the way. Could it be
you're naught but a coward too, lad, like all the rest?"

The speaker turned to a young, blue-eyed man standing nearby. "Well,
sir, who'd have reckoned it'd be this easy? You can tell Admiral
Calvert this island's as good as his for the taking. This militia of
theirs is nothing but a batch of scared planters, who scatter like
rabbits the minute they hear a gunshot. And a few young gallants like
this one, who scarcely know how to prime a musket. There's no reason to
fall back and hold this position. We'd as well just go on after them,
chase them back to Bridgetown, and have done with it."

Jeremy felt a flush of victory. They had fallen into the trap. They
thought Barbados wouldn't fight! In minutes they'd be surrounded by the
militia and begging to surrender. As soon as the counterattack began,
he would . . .

"I think we'd best take this one back to the ship, to find out who he
is and if he knows anything." It was the man standing next to the
goateed commander. "It's a damned bother to have prisoners to feed, but
I'll warrant this engagement's got three days at most to go before they
all throw down their arms and sue for peace."

"Damn your smug eyes." Jeremy reached down and seized his pike, which
had been lying unnoticed against the side of the trench. He turned and
faced the commander. "You'll never even get back to your ship. Men died
here tonight and they didn't die in vain, by all that's holy."

"What say, lad? Pray, who's to stop us?" The commander glanced at the
pike, seeming to ignore it. He waved back several infantrymen who had
quickly leveled their muskets at Jeremy. "Your bold militia here has
taken to its heels, one and all. A bloody lot of royalist cowards."

"There're braver men on Barbados than you know. You'll not take me, or
any prisoners, back to the ship. You'll see Bridgetown soon enough, all
right, at the point of a gun."

"Perhaps that's so, lad, but not at the point of a pike. Now put it
away. This little engagement's over." The man with the goatee was
studying him with admiration. "You're a brave one, lad. Too brave, by
my life, or too foolish. . . ."

"You don't suppose there's something behind this lad's bluster." The
other man turned to the commander. "Could it be their militia might've
run on purpose? To thin out our lines for a counterattack?"

The shouting had died down now, as strings of captured militiamen were
being assembled and placed under guard. Some were joking with their
captors, clearly relieved to be out of the battle. Jeremy suspected
several had deliberately surrendered--small freeholders who didn't care
a damn whether Cromwell's fleet took the island or not. As he watched
them with contempt, he felt ashamed to be one of them. Suddenly the
horror of it all swept over him and he flung down the pike in disgust.

"Now that's a good lad." The commander nodded, then turned to the other
man. "Vice Admiral Powlett, for once you may be right. In truth, I was
beginning to wonder the same thing. This could all have been too easy
by half."

"With your permission, sor, I'll put the young gallant here in with the
rest of the rebels." One of the infantrymen had seized Jeremy's arms.

"No, leave him here a minute." The commander was pointing toward
Jeremy. "The lad's no planter. He doubtless knows more of what's going
on than these others do. Something he said just now troubles me."

"Should I bring up the men and start to move in, sir?" A captain of the
infantry appeared out of the smoky haze that now enveloped the
shoreline.

"Hold a while and keep your lines together. It's too quiet."

Jeremy looked up and saw the goatee next to his face. "Now tell me,
lad. There's been enough killing here for one night, as I'm a
Christian. Is there going to have to be more? If you don't tell me,
it'll be on your head, I swear it."

"This night is on your head, sir, and the Roundhead rebels who've
stolen the Crown of England. And now would try to steal Barbados too."

The man waved the words aside. "Lad, I'm too old for that. Let your
royalist rhetoric lie dead, where it deserves to be. My name is Morris,
and if you know anything, you'll know I've seen my time fighting your
royalists in the damned Civil War. But that's over, thank God, and I
have no wish to start it up again. Now give me your name."

"My name is for men I respect."

"A sprightly answer, lad, on my honor. There's spark about you."

"The name on this musket looks to be Walrond, sor, if I make it out
right." One of the infantrymen was handing the flintlock to Morris.

"Walrond?" Morris reached for the gun and examined it closely, running
his hand along the stock and studying the name etched on the lock. "A
fine royalist name. By chance any kin to Sir Anthony Walrond?"

"My brother, and he's . . ."

"Your brother! You don't mean it." Morris' goatee twitched with
surprise as he moved next to Jeremy and studied his face. "God is my
witness, it's scarcely a name you need blush to give out. England never
bred a braver, finer soldier, royalist or no. Is he your commander here
tonight? You couldn't have one better."

"I have never heard my brother speak well of you, sir."

"Anthony Walrond? Speak well of a man who'd rid England of his precious
king?" Morris laughed. "He'd sooner have God strike him dead. He's
never had a good word to say for a Puritan in his life. But he's a
worthy gentleman, for it all, and an honorable soldier in the field."
He turned to an officer standing nearby. "Essex, regroup the men. I
think we'd best just hold this breastwork for now. It could well be
Anthony Walrond's in command of this militia. If he is, you can wager
he'd not countenance a retreat unless he planned to counterattack. I
know his modus operandi. And his pride."

"Aye sir. As you will." The captain turned and shouted, "Men, fall back
and regroup! Form lines at the breastwork and reload."

"Now if you like. Master Walrond, I still can order all these men to
march off into the dark and let your militia ambush and kill half of
them--likely losing a hundred of their own in the trade. Would you
really have me do it? Is this damned little island worth that much
blood, over and above what's already been spilt here tonight?"

Jeremy gazed down at the line of dead militiamen, bodies torn by musket
balls. Beyond them the Roundhead infantry was collecting its own dead,
among them the man he himself had killed. Now it all seemed so
pointless.

A blaze of musket fire flared from a position just north of the
breastwork, and a phalanx of whooping and yelling militiamen opened a
charge down the north side of the beach. Jeremy watched Morris' eyes
click. The kindly man was suddenly gone. With an oath, he yelled for
the prisoners to be hurried to the longboats, and the devil take the
wounded.

The infantry at the breastwork was returning the fire of the attacking
militia, but they were now badly outnumbered. Jeremy made out what
could have been the tall form of Anthony, wielding a musket as he urged
the militia forward. Then he was passed by a wall of men on horseback.
The cavalry. The lead horse, a bay gelding, was ridden by a tall man
holding a pistol in each hand.

The infantry holding the breastwork began retreating down the south
steps, on the side opposite the attackers. Jeremy could make out Morris
now, ordering his men to make for the longboats.

"Get along with you, rebel." A pike punched him in the back and he was
shoved in with the other prisoners. Now they were being hurried,
stumbling and confused, in the direction of the water.

Part of the Barbados militia had already swarmed over the abandoned
breastwork, while others were riding along the shore, muskets blazing,
hurrying to seal off the escape route to the longboats. They
intercepted the retreating infantry midway down the beach, and the
gunfire gave way to the sound of steel against steel, as empty muskets
were discarded in favor of pikes and swords.

Jeremy felt the warm surf splash his legs, and he looked up to see the
outline of the waiting boats. He and the rest of the prisoners were on
the far south side of the breastwork, away from the fighting, forgotten
now. He was a prisoner of war.

Directly ahead, two longboats were being towed in through the surf--
wide, hulking forms in the dim light, with sails furled and rows of
oarsmen midships. As he watched them approach, he suddenly remembered
his lost flintlock, a gift from Anthony, and the thought of its loss
completed his mortification.

"Get in or be damned to you." Several infantrymen were splashing
through the surf behind him now, half-pikes raised, urging on
malingerers with the blades. Jeremy felt the hard gunwale of the
longboat slam against his shoulder, then hands reaching down for him
and grabbing his arms. He was yanked up, wet and shivering in the
freshening wind, then shoved sprawling onto the boards.

"One move, any of you, and there'll be a pike in your guts." An
infantryman began tying the prisoners' hands.

As Jeremy felt the rough cords against his wrists, he looked up and
glanced over the side. The retreating infantry had drawn itself into a
protective circle, knee-deep in the surf, yelling for its longboats to
be brought in closer. At the perimeter of the circle two scrawny
soldiers struggled to keep their footing in the pounding surf. They
both seemed weak, almost staggering, and when a large wave slammed
against their backs, they toppled headlong into the spray. The Barbados
militiamen were there, pulling them up and dragging them back through
the surf to the beach.

So, there'll be prisoners on both sides, he realized with relief. Now
there'll be hostages onshore too.

The battle seemed to be thinning now. No one wanted to fight waist deep
in the dark churning sea. The Barbados militiamen were slowing in their
chase, turning back to congratulate themselves that the invasion had
been repelled. Finally, as the longboats rowed closer and the
infantrymen began pulling themselves aboard, the militia halted,
content to end the rout by hurling curses above the roar of the surf.

"At least we spiked most of the cannon, and damn the rebels." Two
officers were talking in the bow of the boat. Jeremy realized that both
sides were planning to claim victory. Were there any wars ever "lost,"
he wondered.

"Though we've bloody little else to show for a night's work," an
oarsman in a dark woolen cap mumbled under his breath, "save this fine
new collection of bellies to fill." The man suddenly reached and ripped
off a piece of Jeremy's lace collar. "This coxcomb'll learn soon enough
what 'tis like to live on salt pork and slimy water, same as the rest
of us." He flung the lace back in Jeremy's direction. "No fancy meat
pies and brandied puddings for you, lad. A seaman's fare will soon take
the fat out of those cheeks. I'll warrant it'll do you good, young
rebel."

Ahead, the proud bow of the Rainbowe loomed above them in the dark,
lanterns dangling from its masts. Seamen in the longboat tossed a
grapple over the bulwark of the mother ship and then a rope ladder was
dropped. Jeremy felt his hands being untied. Next he was urged up the
ladder, shoved onto the deck, and immediately surrounded by jeering
seamen, shirtless and wearing black stocking caps.

"This is the one, sir." Powlett was standing over him pointing. Next to
him stood Admiral Edmond Calvert.

"I certainly can see he's a man of breeding, just as you said." Calvert
studied Jeremy's ornate doublet in the flickering lantern light.

"Aye." Powlett's voice suddenly rose. "'Twould seem he's the brother
of Sir Anthony Walrond. I say we strip him and put him to work carrying
slops out of the gun deck, as an example to all royalists."

"Not for a minute, sir. Not so long as I'm in command of this fleet."
Calvert seemed to bellow at Powlett, almost too loudly.

A seaman was roughly yanking Jeremy to his feet, and Calvert turned on
him. "You, there. Release that young gentleman, unless you'd like a
timely taste of the cat on your back." He then approached and bowed
ceremoniously. "Admiral Edmond Calvert, sir, your most obedient
servant."

Jeremy stared in confusion and disbelief as the admiral continued,
"Walrond, is it not?"

"Jeremy Walrond, and . . ."

"I'm honored." He turned and signaled to his quartermaster. "Have
brandy sent to my cabin. Perhaps Master Jeremy Walrond would care to
share a cup with us."

The seamen parted, doffing their caps to the admiral as he escorted
Jeremy up the companionway toward the Great Cabin. "I can scarcely tell
you, Master Walrond, how grateful I am to have the privilege of
speaking face to face with a man of breeding from this island." He
reached to steady Jeremy as he lost his footing in a roll of the ship.
Then he smiled and gestured him ahead, down the lantern-lit walkway
toward the stern. "First thing, we'll try and locate some dry breeches
for you and a brandy to drive off the chill." He was still smiling as
he shoved open a heavy wooden door. The Great Cabin was empty save for
Colonel Richard Morris, now seated at the center table and rubbing the
dirt off Jeremy's flintlock musket. Morris laid it carefully across the
table in front of him when he saw them enter. Calvert smiled toward
him, then continued, "I understand, Master Walrond, you've already made
the acquaintance of our infantry commander."

Morris rose and nodded as Calvert gestured Jeremy toward an ornately
carved oak chair. "After we've all made ourselves comfortable, Master
Walrond, I hope you and I and Captain Morris here can become better
acquainted. We've got much to talk over tonight." He flashed a quick
look at Morris as he smiled. "Mind you, strictly as gentlemen."



Chapter Twelve


Katherine was relieved when she finally spotted him standing among the
gunners, his face and leather jerkin covered in a dark veneer of grime.
If anyone would know the truth behind the rumor spreading over the
island, that Jeremy Walrond had been killed, surely Hugh would. She
watched for a time, collecting her composure after the ride up from
Bridgetown, then tied her mare to the trunk of a bullet-scarred palm
and began working her way down the sandy slope toward the breastwork.

The mid-afternoon sun seared the Jamestown emplacement with the full
heat of the day, and most of the gunners and militiamen were now
shirtless and complaining about the need for rest. As she neared the
stone steps leading up to the guns, the air rang with the sounds of
hammering, iron against iron, and she realized Winston and the men were
still working to extract the spikes from the touch holes of the large
English culverin.

He looked out to study the three English warships offshore, barely
visible through the smoke that mantled the bay, then turned to Thomas
Canninge, his master gunner. "I think we've still got range, Tom. Try
another round as soon as you're set and see if you can't hole them one
last time."

Canninge and his gunners were struggling to set one of the

Dutch demi-culverin, hammering a wooden wedge out from under the breech
in order to elevate the muzzle. "Aye, looks like they've started coming
about, but I think we might still give the whoresons one more taste."

All the large cannon in the breastwork had been disabled by the
invading Roundheads; their infantry had overrun the guns long enough to
drive a large iron nail deep into each gun's touch hole, the small
opening in the breech through which the powder was ignited. The
facility would have been defenseless had not six of the Dutch demi-
culverin been hauled out of the fort and hidden in a palm grove up the
hill just prior to the attack.

As soon as the invasion was repelled and the breastwork cleared,
Winston had summoned teams of horses to bring the small Dutch cannon
back. His gunners had opened fire on the fleet at the first light of
dawn, catching the three English frigates which were still anchored
within range and preparing for a long, leisurely shelling of the
Jamestown settlement. An artillery duel commenced as the warships
immediately returned the fire, but when Winston's gunners honed their
targeting, they had prudently hoisted anchor and retired to the edge of
range. Now, while the militiamen worked with hammers and drills to
finish removing the spikes from the large culverin, the battle had
become mostly noise and smoke.

"Katy, God's life!" He finally noticed her as she emerged at the top of
the steps. His startled look quickly melted into a smile. "This is a
surprise."

"Hugh, I came to find out . . ."

"Everything's fine. We've got two of the spiked guns almost cleared,
and if we can keep fire cover with these Dutch demi's, we should have
all of them back in operation by nightfall." He walked over to where
she stood. "So move on back out of range. It'll not be much longer. I
think they've decided to give up on the shelling. Tom's already holed
the _Rainbowe _twice with these little nine-pounders. Probably didn't
do much harm, but at least the Roundheads know we're here."

He glanced up as a puff of smoke rose from the gun deck of the warship
nearest the shore, the _Marsten Moor_.

"_Round of fire!"_

Before he finished the warning, the men had already dropped their
hammers and were plunging behind a pile of sandbags. Winston's hard
grip sent her sprawling with him behind the mound of earth-brown sacks.
He rolled across her, then covered her face with his sweaty jerkin.

"This is how we brave fighting men stay alive . . ."

An eighteen-pound shot slammed against the base of the breastwork,
shaking the brick foundation beneath them. After a few anxious moments,
the men clambered nervously over the bags to resume work. She was still
brushing the dirt from her riding habit when Winston suddenly whirled
on her, his eyes fierce.

"Now you listen to me, Katy. You can't stay down here. It's still too
damned dangerous. If you want to get killed, there're lots of better
ways."

His back was toward the sea when the second burst of black smoke
erupted from the gun deck of the _Marsten Moor_. "Hugh!" Without
thinking she reached for him. Together they rolled twice across the
soft earth, into the safety of the shielding bags. As they lay next to
the militiamen and gunners, a round of cannon fire clipped the side of
a battlement next to where they had been standing and hurtled a deadly
spray of brick fragments into the sandbags. Several shards of brick
ripped into the cloth and showered them with white grains.

He seemed embarrassed now as he slipped his arm under her and quietly
hoisted her to her feet. Around them the militiamen were again
returning to work on the disabled cannon. "I don't know whether to
thank you, Katy, or order you clapped in the brig for coming here in
the first place. But either way, you can't stay. So kindly wait up the
hill till . . ."

The sound of a forceful hammer stroke followed by a clear ring produced
a cheer from the group of men who had been diligently hammering on one
of the spiked cannon.

"Got her cleared, Yor Worship," one of the militiamen yelled toward
Winston. "Fit as the day she was cast."

He abruptly turned and headed through the crowd to inspect the breech
of the gun. After scrutinizing the reopened touch hole, he motioned
toward a waiting gunner. "Ladle in about five pounds of powder and see
how she fires."

Tom Canninge called from the other end of the breastwork, "I've got the
altitude about set on this little nine-pounder, Cap'n. It's the best of
the lot."

"Then see if you can't put a round through her portside gun deck." His
voice was increasingly strained.

"Good as done." Canninge ordered the demi-culverin shifted a few
degrees to the left, then motioned for a linstock and lightly applied
the burning end to the touch hole.

The gun roared and kicked backward in a cloud of dense, oily smoke.
While the men squinted against the sun to watch, a large hole
splintered open along the portside bow of the _Marsten Moor_, just
above the waterline. Moments later a mate in the maintop began to
unfurl tops'ls, and after that the mainsail dropped in preparation to
make for open sea.

"Let's give her a sendoff, masters." Winston led the cheers, and
Katherine realized he was deliberately trying to boost morale. Next he
yelled down the sweating line of men. "Hear me, now. Our good master
Canninge has just earned us all a tot of kill-devil. By chance I think
a keg may have arrived this morning, on a cart that found its way up
from Bridgetown. We should take a look up by that large tree on the
left." He paused and waited for the hoorahs to subside. "Under my
command, the men always drink first, then officers." He waved a
dismissal. "As you will, masters."

As the gunners and militiamen threw down their tools and began to
bustle in the direction of the liquor, he turned to Katherine and his
voice dropped. "Now that we're both still

alive, maybe we can talk. Why don't we try and find some shade
ourselves?"

"You seem exhausted." As she looked at him, realizing that even his
brown eyes seemed pale, she found herself almost reluctant to raise the
matter of Jeremy. Maybe he had enough to worry about.

"Bone-tired is more the word. But we've got the fleet out of range for
a while. Now we just have to worry about what they'll think to try
next."

Hearing the open concern in his voice, she wrapped a consoling arm
about his waist as they walked down the stone steps of the abandoned
breastwork. "But the invasion failed. This round is won, isn't it?"

"If you can call that massacre last night 'winning,' then I suppose you
could say so." He heaved a weary sigh. "Planters make poor soldiers,
Katy. As best I can tell, we lost eighteen men killed outright. And a
lot more were wounded. Some of them will doubtless die too, given this
heat. So all we did was drive the Roundheads back to sea for a while,
but at a terrible cost." He looked down. "They took some prisoners. Two
longboats full. Probably about thirty men, though we don't really know
yet who's captured, or missing . . . or just gone off to hide."

"Well, that's not so many."

"True enough. We managed to take a few prisoners ourselves, maybe half
a dozen or so. . . . I guess maybe you didn't hear. Jeremy Walrond has
disappeared. We think he was taken prisoner."

"Thank God. Then he's not dead." She stopped still. "But . . .
captured? Poor Jeremy. He'd probably sooner have been killed. He was so
proud."

"Anthony's proud too, and he's taking it very hard. When we heard
Jeremy was missing, I offered to take the command here, to let him go
back to Bridgetown and see if he was with the wounded. Then somebody
suggested that Jeremy probably had surrendered, and Anthony threatened
to kill the man. It was plain he needed some rest."

She stood silent for a moment, then looked away sadly. "What do you
think will happen now?"

Winston followed her gaze, out toward the horizon. "Maybe everybody
will try to negotiate some more. It's getting complicated all of a
sudden, with prisoners now part of it. Unfortunately we didn't manage
to take any officers, just infantry--most of them so weak from scurvy
the fleet's probably just as glad to have them gone, before they died
anyway. "

"What'll happen to Jeremy? You don't suppose they'd hang him."

"I doubt that." He waved his hand. "So far it's a civilized war. But
they may ask a price to send him back if they find out he's Anthony's
brother. It's very bad."

"What do you suppose we can do?"

"Not much I can think of. Maybe they'll just try to wait us out a bit."
He reached down and lightly brushed some of the dirt and sand from her
hair. Then he wiped his brow, glanced at the sun, and urged her on,
toward the grove of trees. "I'd guess it's a matter now of who can hold
out longest." He slipped his arm about her waist and glanced down. "And
how're you holding up, Katy?"

"I suppose I'm fine." She leaned against him, trying to ignore the heat
and the stares of some of the men. Finally she gave a mirthless laugh.
"No, do you want the truth? I'm more worried than ever. Isn't it odd?
Just when we seem to be standing firm." She looked up at his smoke-
smeared cheeks. "Can we go hide? Away from here? I think your morale
could do with a boost too."

"You're looking at a somewhat disoriented breastwork commander. Make
that 'acting commander.' But Anthony's supposed to be back around now
to relieve me. Whenever he gets here, we can ride back over to
Bridgetown, if I can manage to locate a horse." He helped her down
beneath the shade of a spreading manchineel tree, kicking away several
of the poisonous apples that lay rotting around the trunk. Then he
flopped down beside her. "This is one of the hardest things I've ever
tried, Katy, holding defenses together when half the men truly don't
care a damn whether we win or lose. But it's the only thing I know to
do. Tell me if you can think of anything better."

"Is that all you've thought about lately, Hugh?" She ran a hand along
his thigh.

"It's all I care to think about for the time being."

She pulled back sharply. "Well, commander, please don't think I have
nothing else to occupy my mind with except you. But that doesn't mean
I've just forgotten you entirely."

"I haven't forgotten you either, Katy. God's life!" He picked up a twig
and tapped it against one of the poison apples. "Tell me, what does the
governor of Barbados think about his only daughter keeping company with
the likes of me?"

"I do what I choose." She pressed against him. "Anyway, it's not what
he says that troubles me. It's what I say to myself. I've always been
able to control my feelings. But, somehow, not with you. And I hate
myself for it. I truly do."

"I'm probably a poor choice for the object of your feelings."

She laughed and squeezed his hand. "God help me, as if I didn't already
know that. Who'd ever have thought I'd be going about half in love with
a man like you."

"I thought you once said you weren't interested in falling in love." He
kissed her lightly. "Probably a safe idea. I don't know how many of us
are going to live through this."

Before she could respond, he rose on one elbow and pointed toward a
pair of horses approaching from the south. "It looks like we may get
back to Bridgetown after all. I think that's Briggs, and he's brought
Anthony with him. It's odds they both distrust me only slightly more
than they hate each other, but it's enough to make them allies for a
while. Well, they're welcome to have back this command any time they
want it."

"Then we can ride in together?"

"I don't think Anthony's going to like that idea, but it's your affair.
God knows I know better than to try and give you advice."

She laughed. "Then you're starting to understand me better than I
thought."

"Let me just have a word with Anthony about the condition of the
ordnance. And make some gunnery assignments." He began to pull himself
up. "Then maybe we'll retire down to the _Defiance _for a while. I've
missed her." He stooped and kissed the top of her head as he rose to
his feet. "And I've missed you, too. Truly."



Anthony Walrond reined in his dun mare and stared dumbly toward the
shore as he and Briggs emerged from the trees. The night before it had
been a melee of muskets, commands, screams; now it was a smoky
landscape strewn with lost helmets and bandoliers, and stained with
dark splotches where men had fallen. In its peacefulness it made the
battle seem scarcely more than a violent dream, a lost episode that
existed only in man's flawed memory, not in time.

Battles, he reflected, were always a matter of chance. You plan
strategies for days, devise elaborate tactics, try to guess what you
would do if you were the foe. But in the end little of it really
matters. A man panics, or a horse stumbles, or your musket fails to
fire, and suddenly nothing happens the way you thought. It becomes a
contest of bravery, luck, happenstance. Whether you win or lose, it's
likely as not for reasons you never envisioned.

In a way, last night's episode was no different. Dick Morris and his
Roundheads lost more men than they should have. Since they only
expected militia at the breastwork, the parapet caught them by
surprise. Also, they seemed deceived at first by the feigned retreat,
the bird limping and flopping away from her nest to lure the fox.

Except this time the fox suddenly grew wise. The limping bird somehow
bungled its part, caused the fox to smell a trap. Which left no
recourse but to launch a bloody counterattack directly on the
breastwork.

Jeremy. They claimed he was surrounded and taken while reloading his
musket. Holding his position. But why? He knew the orders. He
disobeyed.

He disobeyed.

Anthony was still gripping the reins, his knuckles white, when Briggs
broke the silence. "As usual, it's a good thing I rode over to check.
Where're the men? Is that them drinking in the shade, whilst the
breastwork is left unattended?" He drew his horse alongside Anthony's
and squinted against the sun. "Winston has a peculiar idea of
discipline, by my life."

"These men are not a gang of your African cane cutters. He's got enough
sense to know he can't work them all day in the sun. I'll wager full
half of them would just as soon not be here at all."

"Now you're beginning to sound like him." Briggs spotted the tall
seaman walking up the shore and reined around. "And in truth, sir, I'm
starting to question whether either of you should be kept in charge of
this breastwork."

"Well, after last night, I propose you could just as well put a
scullery wench in command here at Jamestown, for all the difference it
would make." Walrond was studying the breastwork as they neared the
shore. "There's not likely to be another attempt at a landing along
here. It'd be too costly and Morris knows it. No commander in the
English army would be that foolhardy. Doubtless he thought he'd managed
to spike all our ordnance, and he just planned to sit back and shell
the settlement here all day today. It looks as if they took a few
rounds of shot this morning, but the shelling seems over. I'd guess
Winston's lads managed to hold their own."

"Aye, God be praised for the Dutchmen and their demi-

culverin." Briggs touched his black hat toward the approaching figure.
"Your servant, Captain. How goes it?"

"Our gunners put some shot into the _Rainbowe _and the _Marsten Moor_
before they weighed anchor and made way out to sea. I'd venture the
better part of the ordnance here should be serviceable again by
nightfall." He nodded to Walrond. "Any news of the prisoners?"

"This morning all the field commanders brought in reports." The
royalist's voice was matter-of-fact. "As best we can tell, twenty-nine
of our men were taken out to the _Rainbowe _last night."

"And Jeremy was among their number, the way somebody said? There was no
mistake about that?"

"It appears likely." He looked away, to cover his embarrassment, and
spotted Katherine walking toward them up the beach. He adjusted his
eyepatch in anger and glanced back sharply at Winston. Could it be the
rumors were all too true? If so, then damn him. Damn her. "I trust Miss
Bedford has already been informed?"

"A few minutes ago."

"Well, sir, I fancy her dismay did not go uncomforted." He swung down
from the saddle. "I can assume duties here now, and relieve you, sir.
She has to be taken home. This is scarcely the place for a woman."

"You're welcome to have it. I just need to make a few gunnery
assignments of my own men. But I'd advise you to let the lads cool off
a bit before starting them working again." He turned to hold the reins
of Briggs' horse as the planter began dismounting. "One other thing.
Before I go, I'd like a word with you. Master Briggs. Considering
what's happened, I'd like it if you'd convey a message from me to the
Council."

"Speak your mind, sir." Briggs eased himself out of the saddle and
dropped down. His heavy boots settled into the loose sand.

"I lost three seamen last night, good men, when we

charged the breastwork. They'll be buried tomorrow with all the others
killed."

"It was a hard night for us all, sir."

"Don't try my patience, Master Briggs. I'm not in the mood." He paused
to wait as Katherine joined the circle.

"Katherine, your servant." Anthony coldly doffed his hat in greeting.
"Here to review the militia?"

"I came to find out about Jeremy."

"I'm still hoping there must be some mistake." He abruptly turned away.

"Well, now that I know, I suppose I'll go back." She looked at him,
elegant and cool even now, and told herself she should be more
embarrassed than she felt, having him see her here with Hugh. What was
he really thinking?

"Katy, wait. I'm glad you're here." Winston motioned her forward,
ignoring Anthony's pained look. "Perhaps it'd be well for you to hear
this too. Maybe you can convey what I want to say to the Assembly, for
whatever good it may do." He turned back. "I want to tell you all that
I've concluded this militia is untrained, undisciplined, and, what's
worse, uninterested in getting shot all to hell defending Barbados. I
hear them asking each other why they're fighting at all."

"We're holding them off nicely, sir," Briggs interjected. "I'm proud of
. . ."

"Hear me. I tell you we were just lucky last night. Morris' men might
well have held the breastwork if they hadn't panicked. The next time
'round we may not be as fortunate." He fixed Briggs squarely. "What you
and the Council have to decide is whether you're willing to do what's
necessary to win."

"We're doing everything we can."

"It's not enough. Next time, Morris will doubtless try and land every
man he has. When he does, I wonder if this militia will even bother to
meet them."

"I don't agree with you there, sir." Briggs was frowning.

"But then I suppose you figure you've got some idea nobody else has
thought of yet."

"Do you want to hear it?"

"_I'd _like to hear it." Anthony Walrond had finished hobbling his mare
and stepped next to them.

"All right. First, I say prune out the small freeholders, send any of
them home who want to go." He turned to Walrond. "Then get rid of any
of the royalists who don't have battle experience. They want to give
orders, but they don't know what they're about. The rest of the men
don't like it." He paused carefully. "I don't like it either."

"You're presumptuous, sir, if I may say." Anthony glared.

"You may say what you please. But if you don't do something about
morale, this war's as good as over."

"It most certainly will be, if we dismiss most of the militia, which is
what it would mean if we did what you just said."

"I didn't say you don't need a militia. You just need men in it who're
ready to stand and fight."

Briggs examined him quizzically. "But if we dismissed all these half-
hearted freeholders, there'd be scarcely any free men left on the
island to take their place."

"That's right. You'd have to make some free men." He gestured toward
the hills inland. "Do you realize there're hundreds of first class
fighting men here now, men with battle experience who could massacre
Morris' forces if given a chance? And, more to the point, if you gave
them something to fight for."

"Who do you mean?"

"You know who. These new Africans. They've got battle experience, I can
tell just by looking at them. I don't know how many of them have ever
handled a musket, but I'd wager a lot of them can shoot. Make them part
of your militia, and Morris' infantrymen'll never know what hit them."

"I'm damned if we'll arm these savages and let them loose

on the island. Next thing, they'd try and take over. It'd be the end of
slavery. Which means the end of sugar."

"Doesn't have to be. Let them work for wage and start treating them
like men. Then, instead of worrying about having them at your back,
you'd have them holding your defenses."

"That's about the damnedest idea I've ever come across." Briggs spat
into the sand.

"Then you've got a choice. You can have slavery, or you can win
independence. Either you get them to help, or you end up a slave to the
Commonwealth yourself." He glanced at Katherine, then back at Briggs as
he continued. "And the same goes for your indentures. How in hell do
you expect this island to hold out against England when half the men
here would just as soon see you lose? But give the slaves, and the
indentures, a stake in this, and you'll have a good ten or fifteen
thousand fighting men here. Morris has maybe three, four hundred. He'll
never take Barbados. I want you to tell that to the Council."

"I'll be party to no such undertaking." Briggs squinted through the
sunshine.

"Then give my regards to the admiral when you sit down to sign the
surrender. I give you a week at most." He turned and touched
Katherine's arm. "Katy, if you'd like me to see you home, then wait
over there by that shade tree while I make gunnery assignments."



Atiba moved noiselessly along the wet sand of the shore, crouched low,
the wind in his face, just as he had once stalked a wounded leopard in
the forest three days north of Ife. This part of the harbor was almost
deserted now; only two frigates remained, and they were both lodged in
the sand, immobile. One was the great, stinking ship that had brought
him to this forlorn place. He hated it, had vowed never to be on it
again. Furthermore, tonight its decks were crowded with drinking,
singing _branco_. The other one would have to supply what he needed--
the one belonging to the tall Ingles _branco_ with the mark on his
cheek.

He secured the stolen machete in his waist-wrap and waded into the
water. When the first salty wave curved over him, he leaned into it
with his shoulder and began to swim--out away from the shore, circling
around to approach the ship from the side facing the sea.

As he swam, he thought again of what he must do. It was not a mission
of his choosing. He had finally agreed to come because there was no
other way to placate the elders. Until last night he had not realized
how much they feared the arms of the _branco_. . .

"We must be like the bulrush, not like brittle grass," Tahajo, the
oldest and hence presumed the wisest, had declared. "A bulrush mat will
bend. A grass mat breaks to pieces. Do not be brittle grass, Atiba, be
like the bulrush. Do what we ask of you."

"Tahajo's wisdom is known throughout Ife." Obewole, the strongest of
them all, had next conceded his own fear. "Remember it's said you
cannot go to war with only a stick in your hand; you must carry a
crossbow."

Atiba had intended the meeting in his hut to be their final council of
war. Last evening was carefully chosen, auspicious. It was the fourth
night of the new moon on the island of Barbados. In Ife it would have
been the fourth day of a new month, and also the last day of the week--
a cycle of four days dedicated to major gods of the Yoruba pantheon;
Shango, Obatala, Orunmila, and Ogun. The appearance of the new moon was
important and signified much. By telling the beginning of the month, it
scheduled which days would be market days, which were sacred, what god
was responsible for the birth of a child.

They had waited quietly in his thatched hut as twilight

settled across the fields of cane. Swallows twittered among the tall
palms, and the half-light was spotted with darting bats. The heat of
the long day still immersed the hillside. On the far western horizon,
where the sea disappeared into the Caribbean mist, three of the great
ships of the Ingles fleet had begun preparing their sails. They too
seemed to be waiting for the appearance of the new Yoruba moon.

He began with a review of their weapons. There would be difficulties.
Since the cane knives had been removed from the slave quarters on most
of the plantations and secured in the great house, it would be
necessary to break in and take them back, which meant the advantage of
surprise would be lost. For spears, they would have to try and seize
some of the pikes the _branco_ now had in readiness to protect the
island from the fleet. Again that meant bloodshed.

Also, their numbers were still uncertain. All the Yoruba had agreed to
rise up, and final preparations had been coordinated across the island
using the _iya ilu_ drum. But the other men of Africa? What of them?
The Ibo nursed historic hatreds toward the Yoruba, and their response
to the plan for rebellion had been to shift on their feet, spit on the
ground, and agree to nothing. There were also Ashanti and Mandingo.
These he trusted even less than the Ibo. Command would be difficult:
there were too many languages, too many loyalties, too many ancient
grievances.

The men in the hut finally concluded that only the Yoruba could be
relied upon. When the day of war comes, you only trust your own blood,
your own gods.

After the moon had disappeared, he'd cast the cowries, praying Ogun
would presage the defeat of the _branco_. The men required an omen.

And an omen there had been. At that exact moment the silence of the
night was rent by sounds of gunfire rising up from the western shore,
faint staccato pops through the trees. They were as drumbeats that
carried no words, yet their message was unmistakable. Ogun, the god of
war, had spoken--not through the pattern in the cowries on a tray, but
with his own voice.

Fear suddenly gripped the men in the hut. What was Ogun's purpose in
answering the cowries this way? Thus their council of war had dissolved
in meaningless talk and confusion. Finally the misgivings of the elders
emerged.

There must be, they said, no rising against the _branco _unless success
was assured. The elder Tahajo recalled the famous proverb: _Aki ida owo
le ohun ti ako le igbe_--"A man should not attempt to raise up
something he cannot lift." The other men had nodded gravely, taking his
mouthing of this commonplace to demonstrate great sagacity.

Then young Derin, in a flagrant breach of etiquette amongst a council
of elders, had dared to cite an opposing parable: _Bi eya ba di ekun,
eran ni ikpa dze_--"When the wild cat becomes a leopard, it can devour
great beasts." We must become brave like the leopard, he urged. When
the _branco _see our boldness they will quake with fear as we go to war
against them.

Tahajo had listened tolerantly, then countered again: _Alak-atanpo oju
ko le ita eran pa_--"He who has only his eyebrow for a crossbow can
never kill an animal."

So it had continued long into the night. Atiba had no choice but to
wait until the elders decided. Finally they agreed that Ogun would have
them go to war only if they had weapons to match those of the _branco_.
That was the message in the gunfire that had erupted the moment the
cowries were cast. Atiba must assure them he could find muskets, or
there would be no rebellion. . . .

He stroked silently on through the surf. Now the dark outline of the
_branco's_ ship loomed above him, still, deserted. Soon he would find
what he had come to learn.

He grasped a salt-encrusted rope ladder which dangled from the side and
pulled out of the water. He did not bother using the rungs; instead he
lifted himself directly up.

His feet were noiseless as he dropped onto the deck. A quick
reconnaissance revealed only one sentry, a fat _branco _snoring loudly
in a chair on the high deck at the back of the ship. He slipped up the
companionway, gripping each weathered board with his toes, and stood
over the man, wondering if he should kill him, lest he waken suddenly
and sound an alarm.

Then he remembered the words of Shango that night in the mill house. It
would be a bad omen to spill innocent blood before the rebellion even
began. Shango had declared he would only countenance the killing of men
who threatened harm. Also, lying beside the man was an empty flask,
which surely had contained the strong wine made from cane. This snoring
_branco _would not soon awaken.

He turned and inched his way back down the companion-way. The only
sounds now were the gentle splash of surf against the side of the ship
and the distant chirp of crickets from the shore. He moved stealthily
along the creaking boards until he reached the locked door at the front
of the ship, the place where the _branco _captains stored their
weapons.

He tried to still his heart, feeling it begin to race with
anticipation. If there were weapons here, muskets or pikes, they would
be easy to seize when the moment came to rise up. There would be no
need to storm the plantation houses for guns and spears, and their
plans could proceed in total secrecy till the moment the _branco
_slaveholders were surprised and cut down.

He recalled the rumor that the _branco _who owned this ship had bought
and freed two hundred white slaves, and then had given some of them
weapons to fight the warriors of the Ingles fleet. Surely he had more
muskets and pikes than any of the _branco _planters. How many would be
left?

He slipped the machete from his waistband and wedged it silently under
a hinge on the heavy wooden door. The wood

was old and the nails pulled easily. When the three hinges had been
removed, he laid the machete on the deck and lifted the door around.

The interior of the fo'c'sle was dark, but he dared not try to make a
light. The risk was too great that he might set off any gunpowder
stored here. Instead he felt his way forward.

The space was crowded with racks, and in them were rows of new pikes
and half-pikes, hundreds. Then his hand touched a row of long steel
cylinders.

Musket barrels.

Ogun had answered their prayers.

This ship had an arsenal that would equip an entire army, a cache that
would ensure their victory. The second week following, seven days
hence, the time sacred to Ogun, he would bring the men and they would
overwhelm the ship, seize the weapons. . . .

He had turned to grope his way back to the deck when he first saw the
two silhouettes against the dim light of the doorway. A tall man was
there, blocking his exit, and next to him was the outline of a _branco
_woman.

"John, what in the name of hell are you doing in the fo'c'sle?" The
voice sounded tired and annoyed. "Is this how you stand watch?"

"Hugh, take care." It was the voice of the _branco _woman he remembered
from the first night in the boiling house.

He froze against a wall and reached for his machete.

It was missing. Like a fool he'd left it outside.

Quietly he lifted one of the pikes from the rack and inched slowly
toward the figures in the doorway.

Through the dark came a shout from the other end of the deck. The
sleeping _branco _had awakened. "God's wounds, Cap'n. I'm watching this
ship like a hawk over a henhouse. There's no need to be carry in' on."
The man laughed. "Lest you upset the lady."

"John, is that you?" The tall man's voice quickened. "Then, by Jesus,
who's . . .?"

Atiba lunged toward the doorway, his pike aimed at the tall shadow.

The man had already feinted back against the shrouds. He carried no
sword, but a pistol had appeared in his right hand, as though by magic.
With the other he shoved the _branco _woman back against the shrouds,
out of reach. The pike missed him, tangled in a knot of lines dangling
from the mast, and was lost.

Then the glint of his machete caught Atiba's notice and he dropped
toward the darkness of the deck. He rolled twice, bringing himself
within reach of its wooden handle. He was on his feet, swinging for the
man, when he heard the crack of the pistol and felt a tremor in his
wrist.

The tip of the machete blade sang into the night, but the stump was
still left, and still deadly. Now the fight would be at close quarters.
He told himself he welcomed that--and sprang for the dark silhouette.

He was thrusting the blade upward, toward the tall man's neck, when he
heard an unexpected click from the pistol barrel, followed by a hard
voice. It was a threat that needed no translation.

"No, by God. Or I'll blow your bloody head off."

The hot muzzle of the pistol was against his cheek.

But his blade was against the man's throat.

"_Meu Deus_. Briggs' Yoruba." The man quickly switched to Portuguese.
"_Felicitacao_, senhor. You're every bit as fast as I'd thought. Shall
we call it a draw?"

It was the _branco_, the one who had freed his slaves. The last man on
the island he wished to kill. Shango would be incensed.

"I think one of us must die." He held the broken blade hard against the
flesh, and he could almost feel the pulse of blood just beneath the
skin.

"It's both of us, or neither, by Jesus. Think about that."

"Your pistol had only one bullet. It is gone."

"Take a look and you'll see there're two barrels." The tall man had not
wavered.

"Shall I just blow the thievin' bastard to hell, Cap'n?" It was the
voice of the man who had been asleep. From the corner of his eye Atiba
could see him standing by the foremast. There was the click of a
flintlock being cocked.

"No, John. He's like to slit my throat in the bargain with what's left
of his God-cursed machete." The words were in English. Then the man
switched back to Portuguese. "A trade, senhor. A life for a life."

"In Ife we say we cannot dwell in a house together without speaking to
one another. But if you betray me, you will answer for it to all my
clan. Remember that." The broken machete slowly pulled away, then
dropped to the deck.

"Hold the musket on him, John. I don't know whether to trust these
Africans." Again Portuguese. "Life for life. Agreed." He lowered the
pistol, then slipped it into his belt. With an easy motion he pulled
down a lantern hanging from the shrouds and struck a flint to it. A
warm glow illuminated the open door of the fo'c'sle, and the tanned
face of the _branco _woman. "Now. Atiba the Yoruba, you be gone and
I'll forget you were ever here. Briggs would likely have you whipped
into raw meat for his dogs if he ever found out about this." The
_branco _was looking into his eyes. "But you probably already know
that. I salute your courage, senhor. Truth is, I once thought about
having you help me."

"Help you?" He studied the _branco's _face. "For what purpose?"

"If you weren't too stubborn to take orders, I'd planned to train you
into a first-class fighting man. Maybe make you second-in-command for a
little war of my own. Against the Spaniards." The man was outlined in
the pale light. "I'd hoped we might fight together, instead of against
each other."

"That is a strange idea for a _branco_." He was studying the scar on
the tall man's cheek. "But then you have the mark on your cheek like
the clan sign of a Yoruba. Perhaps the place you got it taught you
something of brotherhood as well."

"It was a long time past, though maybe it did at that. I do know I'm
still a brother to any man I like. You were once in that category,
senhor, till you came on my ship trying to knife me. Now you'd best
tell me what you're doing here."

"I wanted to see your ship."

"Well, you've seen it. You also tore off some hinges."

"I will replace them for you." He smiled. "Wrapping a razor preserves
its sharpness."

The man seemed momentarily startled; then a look of realization spread
through his eyes. Finally he turned and spoke in English to the fat
_branco _holding the musket. "John, fetch a hammer and some fresh nails
from below decks. You know where ship's carpenter keeps them."

"What're you saying, Cap'n?" The fat _branco_ had not moved. "You'd
have me go aft? An' the musket I'm holdin' on the bastard? Who's to
handle that whilst I'm gone?"

"I'll take it." The _branco _woman stepped forward.

"Give it to her."

"You'd best keep a close eye, Cap'n." The fat man hesitated. "I think
this one'd be a near match for you. . . ."

"Just fetch the hammer, John."

"Aye." He reluctantly passed the musket and began backing slowly toward
the hatch leading to the lower deck.

Atiba watched him disappear into the dark, then turned back to Winston.
"You do not own slaves, senhor. Yet you do nothing about those on this
island who do."

"What goes on here is not my affair. Other men can do what they like."

"In Ife we say, 'He who claps hands for the fool to dance is no better
than the fool.'" He glanced back at the arsenal stored in the dark
room behind him. "If you do nothing to right a wrong, then are you not
an accomplice?"

The man suddenly seemed to understand everything. Without a word he
walked over and shoved the door against the open fo'c'sle. "Let me give
you some wisdom from this side of the wide ocean, my friend. I think
all the drumming I've been hearing, and now this, means you're planning
some kind of revolt. I'm not going to help you, and I'm damned if
you're going to use any of my muskets." He reached up and adjusted the
lantern. "I've done everything I can to end slavery. Nobody on this
island listens to me. So whatever you do is up to you."



"But without weapons, we have no chance of winning our freedom."

"You've got no chance in any case. But if you steal some of these
muskets of mine, you'll just manage to kill a lot of people before you
have to surrender and be hanged." He watched the fat man emerge from
the hatch. "I'd hate to see you hanged, Atiba the Yoruba."

"What's the savage got to say for himself, Cap'n?" The man was carrying
a hammer. "Was he plannin' to make off with a few o' those new
flintlocks we got up at Nevis?"

"I think he was just exploring, John." The words were in English now.
"Help him put the door back and show him how to fix the hinges."

"As you will, Cap'n. But keep an eye on him, will you? He's like to
kill the both of us if he takes a mind."

"Katy, keep him covered."

"God, but he's frightening. What were you two talking about?"

"We'd best go into that later." He glanced at Mewes. "John, give him
the hammer."

The fat _branco _reluctantly surrendered the tool, then warily reached
to hold the hinges in place. There was a succession of quick, powerful
strokes, and the door was aligned and swinging better than before.

"Now go on back to Briggs' plantation. And pray to whatever gods you
have that he doesn't find out you were gone tonight." He picked up the
broken machete and passed it over. "Take this. You're going to need
it."

"You know we will need more than this." Atiba reached for the handle,
turned the broken blade in the light, then slipped it into his
waistband.

"That's right. What you need is to leam how to wait. This island is
about to be brought to its knees by the new government of England. In a
way, it's thanks to you. When the government on this island falls,
something may happen about slavery, though I'm not sure what." He took
down the lantern from the shrouds. "But if you start killing whites
now, I can assure you you're not apt to live very long, no matter who
rules."

"I will not continue to live as a slave."

"I can understand that. But you won't be using my flintlocks whilst
getting yourself killed." He held the lantern above the rope ladder and
gestured for Atiba to climb down into the shallow surf. "Never, ever
try stealing muskets from my ship. Mark it well."

Atiba threw one leg over the gunwale and grasped a deadeye to steady
himself. "I think you will help us when the time comes. You speak like
a Yoruba." He slipped over the side with a splash, and vanished into
the dark.

"God's blood, Cap'n, but that's a scary one." Mewes stared after him
nervously. "I got the feelin' he seemed to know you."

"I've seen him a time or two before." He retrieved the musket from
Katherine and handed it back to Mewes. Then he doused the lantern.
"Come on, Katy. Let's have a brandy."

"I could use two."

As they entered the companionway leading aft to the Great Cabin he
called back, "By the way, John, it'd be just as well not to mention to
anybody that he was here. Can I depend on you?"

"Aye, as you will."

He slipped his arm about Katherine's waist and pushed open the door of
the cabin. It was musty and hot.

"I've got a feeling that African thinks he's coming back for the
muskets, Katy, but I'll not have it."

"What'll you do?" She reached back and began to loosen the knot on her
bodice, sensing a tiny pounding in her chest.

"I plan to see to it he gets a surprise instead." He lit the lamp, then
pulled off his sweaty jerkin and tossed it into the corner. "Enough.
Let's have a taste of you." He circled his arms around her and pulled
her next to him. As he kissed her, he reached back and started unlacing
her bodice. Then he whispered in her ear.

"Welcome back aboard."



Chapter Thirteen


With every step Jeremy took, the wooded trail leading inland from
Oistins Bay felt more perilous, more alien. Why did the rows of stumps,
once so familiar, no longer seem right? Why had he forgotten the spots
in the path where the puddles never dried between rains, only congealed
to turgid glue? He had ridden it horseback many a time, but now as he
trudged up the slope, his boots still wet from the surf, he found he
could remember almost nothing at all. This dark tangle of palms and
bramble could scarcely be the direction home.

But the way home it was. The upland plantation of Anthony Walrond was a
wooded, hundred and eighty acre tract that lay one mile inland from the
settlement around Oistins Bay--itself a haphazard collection of
clapboard taverns and hewn-log tobacco sheds on the southern, windward
side of the island. The small harbor at Oistins was host to an
occasional Dutch frigate or a small merchant vessel from Virginia or
New England, but there was not enough tobacco or cotton to justify a
major landing. It was, however, the ideal place to run a small shallop
ashore from a ship of the fleet.

He reached a familiar arch of palms and turned right, starting the long
climb along the weed-clogged path between the trees that led up to the
house. As he gripped his flintlock and listened to the warbling of
night birds and the menacing clatter of land crabs, he reflected sadly
that he was the only man on Barbados who knew precisely what lay in
store. He had received a full briefing from the admiral of the fleet
aboard the _Rainbowe_. What would Anthony do when he heard?

He tried to sort out once more what had happened, beginning with that
evening, now only two days past, when Admiral Calvert had passed him
the first tankard. . . .

"If I may presume to say, it's a genuine honor to share a cup with you,
Master Walrond." Calvert's dark eyes had seemed to burn with
determination as he eased back into his sea chair and absently adjusted
his long white cuffs. He'd been wearing a black doublet with wide white
epaulettes and a pristine bib collar, all fairly crackling with starch.
"And to finally have a word with a man of breeding from this infernal
settlement."

Jeremy remembered taking a gingerly sip of the brandy, hoping perhaps
it might somehow ease the pain of his humiliation. Still ringing in his
ears were the screams of dying men, the volleys of musket fire, the
curses of the Roundhead infantry in the longboat. But the liquor only
served to sharpen his horrifying memory of the man he had killed less
than an hour before, his finger on the trigger of the ornate flintlock
now resting so innocently on the oak table between them.

"The question we all have to ask ourselves is how long this damnable
state of affairs can be allowed to go on. Englishmen killing their own
kind." Calvert had posed the question more to the air than to the
others in the room. Colonel Morris, his face still smeared with powder
smoke, had shifted his glance back and forth between them and said
nothing. He clearly was impatient at being summoned to the Great Cabin
when there were wounded to attend. Why, Jeremy had found himself
wondering, was Morris present at all? Where was the brash vice admiral,
the man who had wanted him imprisoned below decks? What was the hidden
threat behind Calvert's too-cordial smiles? But the admiral betrayed
nothing as he continued. "The Civil War is over, may Almighty God
forgive us for it, and I say it's past time we started healing the
wounds."

Jeremy had listened as the silence once more settled around them. For
the first time he'd become aware of the creaking of the boards as the
_Rainbowe _groaned at anchor. After so much death, he'd found himself
thinking, you begin to notice the quietness more. Your senses are
honed. Could it be even creatures of the field are the same; does the
lowly hare feel life more exquisitely when, hounds baying on its scent,
it hovers quivering in the grass?

He wondered what he would do if the musket on the table were primed and
in his hands. Would he raise it up and destroy this man who had come to
conquer the last safe place on earth left for him? As he tried to still
the painful throb in his temples, Calvert continued.

"I'm a plain-speaking seaman, Master Walrond, nothing more. Though my
father served in your late king's court, watching his Catholic queen
prance amongst her half-dressed Jezebels, I never had any part of it.
But I've seen dead men enough whose spilled blood is on that king's
head, for all his curls and silks."

Calvert had suddenly seemed to remember himself and rose to pour a
tankard for Morris. He took another sip from his own, then turned back.
"And there's apt to be more killing now, here in the Americas, before
this affair's finished. But to what purpose, sirrah? I ask you. We both
know the island can't hold out forever. We've got her bottled now with
this blockade, and the bottle's corked. What's more, I know for a fact
you're all but out of meat and bread, whilst we've made free with all
the victuals these interloping Hollanders in Carlisle Bay kindly had
waiting to supply us. So my men'll be feasting on capon and port whilst
your planters are starving, with nothing in the larder save tobacco and
cane. You've never troubled to grow enough edibles here, since you
could always buy from these Hollanders, and now it's going to be your
downfall." Calvert's eyes had flashed grimly in the lantern light. When
Morris had stirred, as though to speak, he'd silenced the commander
with a brisk wave of his hand, then continued.

"But we're not planning just to wait and watch, that I can promise you.
Colonel Morris here will tell you he's not going to sleep easy till
this island is his. At the break of day he'll commence his first
shelling, right here at Jamestown where he's spiked the ordnance.
You'll see that spot, breastwork and the rest, turned to rubble by
nightfall tomorrow. No, Colonel Morris is not of my mind; he's not a
country angler who'd sit and wait for his line to bob. He's a man
who'll wade in and take his perch with both hands." Calvert had sighed
and risen to open the windows at the stern. Cool air washed over them,
bringing with it the moans of wounded men from the deck above. Jeremy
noted the windows had been severely damaged by cannon fire and
temporarily repaired with wood rather than leaded glass. Calvert
listened glumly for a moment, then shoved the windows closed and turned
back. "But what's the point of it, Master Walrond, by all that's holy?"

"You'll never take Barbados, blockade or no." Jeremy had tried to meet
the glare in Calvert's eyes. "We'll never surrender to Cromwell and
this rabble army."

"Ah, but take you we will, sir, or I'm not a Christian. The only
question is when." He had paused to frown. "And how? Am I to be forced
to humble this place till there's nothing left, to shell her ports,
burn her crops? I daresay you're not fully aware what's in store for
this island. But it's time somebody heard, and listened. I came here
with peace in mind, praying your governor and Assembly would have the
sense to recognize the Commonwealth. If I was met with _Defiance_, my
orders were to bring Barbados to its knees, man and boy. To see every
pocket of resistance ferreted out. More than that, you'd best know I'll
not be staying here forever. There'll be others to follow, and that
young stalwart you met out on decks, my vice admiral, may well claim
the only way to keep the island cooperative is to install a permanent
garrison. Believe me when I tell you he'd as soon hang a royalist as
bag a partridge. Think on that, what it's apt to be like here if you
force me to give him free rein."

Jeremy had felt Calvert's eyes bore into him. "But, Master Walrond, I
think Barbados, the Americas, deserve better." He glanced toward
Morris. "And I'll warrant our commander here feels much the same.
Neither of us wants fire and sword for this place. Nor, I feel safe in
thinking, does anyone on this island. But someone here has got to
understand our purpose and harken to reason, or it's going to be
damnation for your settlement and for the rest of the Americas."

"Then that's what it'll be, if you think you've got the means to
attempt it." Jeremy had pulled himself upright in the chair. "But you
try landing on this island again and we'll meet you on the beaches with
twice the men you've got, just like tonight."

"But why be so foolhardy, lad? I'll grant there're those on this island
who have no brief for the Commonwealth, well and good, but know this--
all we need from the Americas is cooperation, plain as that; we don't
ask servitude." He lowered his voice. "In God's name, sir, this island
need merely put an end to its rebellious talk, agree to recognize
Parliament, and we can dispense with any more bloodletting."

Then Calvert had proceeded to outline a new offer. Its terms were more
generous--he'd hammered home time and again--than anyone on the island
had any cause to expect. The point he had emphasized most strongly was
that Jeremy Walrond stood at the watershed of history. On one side was
war, starvation, ignominy; on the other, moderation. And a new future.
. . .



Ahead the log gables of the Walrond plantation house rose out of the
darkness. On his left, through the trees, were the thatched lean-to's
of the indentures. A scattering of smoky fires told him some of the
servants or their women were still about, frying corn mush for supper.
The indentures' few remaining turkeys and pigs were penned now and the
pathway was mostly quiet. The only sounds came from clouds of stinging
gnats, those pernicious merrywings whose bite could raise a welt for a
whole day, their tiny bugles sending a chorus through the dark. In the
evening stillness the faint stench of rotting corn husks wafted from a
pile in which pigs rooted behind the indentures' quarters, while the
more pungent odor of human wastes emanated from the small vegetable
patches farther back.

He heard occasional voices in the dark, curses from the men and the
Irish singsong of women, but no one in the indenture compound saw or
heard him pass. Ahead the half-shuttered windows of the plantation
house glimmered with the light of candles. It meant, he realized with
relief, that Anthony was home, that he'd lit the pewter candelabra
hanging over their pine dining table.

He stopped for a moment to think and to catch his breath, then moved on
past the front portico, toward the servants' entrance at the rear of
the house. There was good reason not to announce his arrival publicly.
What he had to say was for Anthony, and Anthony alone.

As he passed one of the windows he could just make out a figure seated
at the table, tankard in hand. The man wore a white kerchief around his
neck and a doublet of brown silk, puffed at the shoulders. His dark
brown hat rested next to him on the table, its white plume glistening
in the dull light.

As he pushed on, he noticed that the chimney of the log cookroom in
back of the house gave off no smoke, meaning Anthony's servants had
already been dismissed for the night.

Good. The time could not have been better.

Ahead now, just at the corner, was the back doorway. It

was ajar and unlatched; as usual the help had been careless as they
crept away with meat scraps from Anthony's table to season their own
bland meal.

He paused at the first step and tried to think how he would begin. For
no reason at all he found himself staring up at the stars. The heavens
in the Caribbees always reminded him of one dusk, many years ago, when
he had first seen London from afar--a jewel box of tiny sparklers
hinting of riches, intrigues, delicious secrets. What waited there
amidst those London lights, he had pondered, those thousands of
flickering candles and cab lanterns? Was it as joyful as it seemed? Or
was misery there too, as deep and irreducible as his own?

That answer never came. But now this canopy of stars above the
Caribbees mantled a place of strife and despair wrenching as man could
devise.

He gently pushed open the split-log door and slipped through. The back
hallway was narrow and unlighted, but its walls were shadowed from the
blaze of distant candles. He remembered that Anthony always lit extra
tapers when he was morose, as though the burning wicks might somehow
rekindle his own spirit.

As he moved through the rough-hewn archway leading into the main room,
he saw the seated figure draw back with a start and reach for the
pistol lying on the table.

"By God, what . . ."

Suddenly the chair was kicked away, and the man was rushing forward
with open arms. "Jeremy! God's life, it's you! Where in heaven's name
have you been?" Anthony wrapped him in his arms. "We heard you'd been
taken by Morris and the Roundheads." He drew back and gazed in
disbelief and joy. "Are you well, lad? Were you wounded?"

"I've been with Admiral Calvert on the _Rainbowe_." He heard his own
voice, and its sound almost made him start.

"You've been . . .?" Anthony's eyes narrowed slightly. "Then you
managed to escape! Did you commandeer a longboat? For the love of God,
lad, what happened?"

What happened?

He almost laughed at the question. Would that any man ever knew, he
found himself thinking. What ever "happens" . . . save that life flows
on, of its own will, and drags you with it willy-nilly?

Without a word he carefully settled his flintlock in the corner, next
to the rack that held Anthony's own guns--three matchlocks and two
flintlocks--and slumped into a vacant chair by the table. "I've a
thirst." He glanced distractedly about the room, barely remembering it.
For the past two days--now it seemed like an entire age--life had been
a ship. "Is there brandy?"

"Aye, there's a flask in the sideboard, as always." Anthony examined
him curiously. Jeremy rarely drank anything stronger than Madeira wine.
"What is it, lad? For God's sake let's have it. All of it."

With a tankard in his hand, Jeremy discovered that the first part of
the story fairly tumbled forth--the Roundhead captain he had killed,
the anger, the dismay, the loose discipline of the men in the trench.
He even managed to confess straight out the circumstances of his
capture, that he had ignored the call to retreat, only to have his
musket misfire. Finally he reached the part where he first met Admiral
Calvert. Then the tale seemed to die within him.

"Well, lad, what happened next? You say Morris knew who you were?"

"Aye, and he spoke of you." Jeremy looked at his brother. "With
considerable respect, to tell it truthfully."

"A Roundhead schemer, that's Dick Morris, who'd not speak the truth
even if he knew how." Anthony leaned forward and examined his tankard.
"But I'm beginning to grow fearful he may have the last say in this
matter, truth or no." He looked up. "What did you see of their forces,
lad? Can they mount another landing?"

"They can. They will. They've got the Dutch provisions,

and Calvert claims they could hold out for weeks. But he says he'll not
wait. He plans to invade."

"Aye, I'd feared as much. If he does, I say God help us. This damned
militia is plagued with more desertions every day. These freeholders
seem to think they've done all they need, after Jamestown. They're
saying let somebody else fight the next time, when there isn't anybody
else. We're having trouble keeping enough men called up just to man the
breastworks." He scratched at his eye-patch distractedly. "I suppose we
can still meet them if they try another assault, but it'll be a pitched
battle, as God is my witness."

Jeremy drank off the tankard, rose, and walked shakily to the
sideboard. The onion-flask of brandy was still over half full. He
wished he could down it all, then and there. "I heard their plans from
Admiral Calvert." He finished pouring and set down the bottle. After a
deep drink he moved back to his chair, without meeting Anthony's gaze.
"I would all the Assembly and Council could have heard what he said."

"What did that Roundhead criminal do? Threaten you, and then send you
home in hopes you'd somehow cozen me?" Anthony looked up. "Jeremy, that
man's a base traitor to his king. His father was in Charles' court, and
Edmond Calvert was knighted for no more cause than being George
Calvert's son. Then when Prince Rupert and the navy declared their
support for the king, he took his ship and defected to Parliament. . .
."

"It wasn't a threat."

Suddenly the words came again. Out poured Calvert's story of Cromwell's
plans for the island if it defied him. The Assembly and Council would
be dismissed and Powlett set up as governor. A garrison would be
installed. Moreover, Powlett might well see fit to reward loyal Puritan
islanders with the estates of recalcitrant royalists. Anthony Walrond
stood to lose all his acres, again.

The elder Walrond listened thoughtfully till the story was finished.
Then he slowly drained his tankard. "It's the final

humiliation. Cromwell, may God damn him, can't rest content merely to
strike off the head of his Most Royal Majesty. Now he must needs reduce
all that king's loyal subjects to nothing."

"But it needn't be." Jeremy put down his tankard. His hands quivered,
as though to match the flicker of the candles.

"There's something you haven't told me yet, isn't there, lad? You
haven't said why they set you ashore. You didn't escape, did you?"
Anthony studied him with sudden dismay. "I'll wager you were sent back.
Why was it?"

"Aye. The reason is this." He rose and reached into the pocket of his
doublet. The letter was still there, waiting, its wax seal warm against
his shirt. "It's for you."

He found himself wishing it had been lost, though he believed with all
his heart the message meant salvation. It was a gift of God. Yet
something about it now seemed the work of the devil.

"What is it, Jeremy?" Anthony stared at the envelope. "Some kind of
threat to try and frighten me too?" He looked up and bristled. "They
can spare their ink and paper."

"Admiral Calvert asked me to deliver this. He and Captain Morris said
that whilst you were their staunchest foe, they also knew you for a
gentleman. They said you were the only man on the island they felt they
could trust. That you alone could prevent this place being brought to
ruin by Cromwell--which would probably mean fighting all over the
Americas for years, when they just want to settle this and be gone."

"Are they asking me to be a traitor to the island?"

"They've made an offer, a private offer. They said the Assembly can't
be made to reason, that it'd sooner bring ruination to the island than
agree to a compromise."

"This is damned knavery. To presume I'd be party to disloyalty."

"But think on't." Jeremy drank again and felt his boldness renewed.
"Why should you sacrifice yourself helping the greedy Puritans on this
island? The Council scorns to listen to you, and

you've still not been elected to the Assembly. I'd say you've received
naught but contempt, from the day you arrived." His voice rose. "Make
no mistake on it, there'll be a new regime here after the island
surrenders, which it'll have to eventually. Right now, Calvert and
Morris just want to keep Barbados out of the hands of this man
Powlett."

Anthony turned the envelope in his hand. "So what does this cursed
letter of Calvert's say?"

"Merely that you're a reasonable man, that you're surely sensible of
the ruin a total war would mean. And that he's got terms to offer you
that are truly in the best interest of Barbados, if only you'd give
them ear."

"I suppose he made you privy to these most generous terms." Anthony
tossed the letter onto the rough pine boards in front of him.

"If you'd use your influence to work for peace, and convince your
Windward Regiment here in this parish to cooperate, he'll take steps to
thwart the designs of Powlett. If the island laid down its arms, then
there'd be no garrison of troops. He'll guarantee it. And there'd be
amnesty for all the planters."

"It's more damn'd Roundhead lies. That's not the voice of Cromwell.
That's the voice of an admiral who fears he can't take this place by
force. So he'd try doing it by deceit." Anthony's face reddened. "Does
the man have the cheek to think I've no scruples whatsoever?"

"But he's promised more. He'd form a new Council and make you its head.
He and you'd appoint the others together. Of course they'd needs be men
of moderate stripe, who'd stood for peace. But you could both work
together to ensure the treaty was kept. Powlett might still have to
serve as governor for a time, but he'd not be able to do anything
without the approval of your new Council."

"It's all a deception, lad." Anthony sighed wistfully. "Would it were
true. You're young, and I fear to say still a bit gullible. These are
promises made in the moonlight and shrugged away at sunrise."

"I'm old enough to know there's been enough killing." Jeremy choked
back a lump of guilt that rose in his chest. "But the letter's not
addressed to me. It's to you. What harm in reading it? Morris would
like to arrange a meeting, unarmed, to discuss its terms."

"A meeting!" Anthony seemed to spit out the words.

"Aye, here along the coast at Oistins. He's to come ashore by longboat
tomorrow night, alone, to hear what you have to say." Jeremy took
another drink of brandy and its fire burned through him. "There's no
harm in that, for sure. It could be the beginning of peace."

"Lad, talk sense. They'll not hold to these conditions you've
described. Once the island is disarmed, it'll be the end for every free
man here."

"He said he'd give you all the terms in writing, signed." Jeremy
noticed his tankard was dry. He wanted to rise for more brandy, but the
room swirled about him. "It's our chance, don't you see. If Barbados
goes down fighting, there'll be no terms. No concessions. Just more
needless deaths. If you don't hear them out, it'll be on our heads."

"I'll not do it."

"But what's the Council ever done for you? For that matter, what has
Bedford done?"

Anthony stared into the empty tankard in his hand and his voice grew
bitter. "He's let Katherine take up company with the criminal who
robbed our ship at Nevis, whilst we're at this very time negotiating a
marriage portion. And made me a laughing stock in the bargain, if you
must know." He looked up. "In truth, that's the most Dalby Bedford's
done for me as of late."

Jeremy felt his face grow flush with embarrassment. "Then I say you owe
it to decency to hear what Morris has to offer tomorrow night.
Otherwise there'll just be more killing. Next it'll be starvation too.
Please. I entreat you to think on it."

Anthony picked up the letter and turned it in his hand. "Liberty or
death." His voice was strangely subdued. "That's what the Assembly
claimed they wanted. But it turns out that was just talk. They don't
even want liberty enough to stand and fight for it, that's all too
clear now."

He pushed open the wax seal with his thumb and unfolded the paper.
Jeremy watched his face as he began to read.



_My Lord, I send this to you as one who is master of a great deal of
reason, and truly sensible of the ruin of the island if it should
longer be obstinate. Only after appeal to your Lordship could I satisfy
mine own conscience that I had done my duty in avoiding what I can the
shedding of blood and the ruin of this island; for although I may by
some be looked upon as an Enemy, yet really I do you office of a Friend
in urging your Lordship and those engaged with you to judge of the
Necessity of your Lordship's and their giving their due obedience to
the State of England or else to suffer yourselves to be swallowed up in
the destruction which a little time must inevitably bring upon you,
which I cannot suppose rational men would wish.

My Lord, may it please you to know that I am not ignorant of the
Interests of this Island, and very well know the impossibility of its
subsistence without the Patronage of England. It is clear to me that
God will own us in our attempts against this island (as He hath
hitherto done), and yet to show you that I would endeavour what I can
to avoid the shedding of blood and the loss of estates, I have thought
fit to send this to your Lordship, to offer you such reasonable
conditions as may be honourable for the State to give. . . .

_

Anthony studied the terms carefully; they were just as described by
Jeremy. Calvert was offering a leniency most uncharacteristic of
Cromwell. The island would be beholden to Parliament, to be sure, but
it would not be humiliated.

Moreover, he suddenly thought, when Charles II moved to restore the
monarchy, this island's strength and arms would be intact, ready to
help throw off the yoke of Cromwell's oppression. With a surge of
pleasure he realized this could well be a strategic retreat, in the
finest military sense. If Calvert were willing to honor these generous
terms, the fight could still be won another day.

 Particularly if Anthony Walrond controlled the new Council of
Barbados.



Chapter Fourteen


"I've always called it 'Little Island,' since nobody's ever troubled
giving it a name." She reined in her mare and directed Winston's gaze
toward the atoll that lay a few hundred yards off the coast. The waters
along the shore shimmered a perfect blue in the bright midday sun. "At
low tide, like now, you can wade a horse right through the shallows."

"Does anybody ever come out here?" He drew in his gelding and stared
across the narrow waterway. The island was a curious anomaly; there was
a high rocky peak at its center, the lookout Katherine had described,
and yet the shores were light sand and verdant with palms. Little
Island was less than a quarter mile across and shaped like an egg,
almost as though God had seen fit to set down a tiny replica of
Barbados here off its southern shore. Looking west you could see the
forested coast of the mother island, while to the east there was the
road leading to Oistins and the Atlantic beyond.

"Never. I've ridden out here maybe a dozen times, but there's never
been a soul."

He turned and surveyed the coast. "What else is around this place?"

"Nothing much, really. . . . Just the Walrond plantation, up the coast,
inland a mile or so, about halfway between here and Oistins."

"Good Christ! I'm beginning to understand it all." He laughed
wistfully. "I'll wager you've probably come out here with that gallant
of yours." Then he looked at her, his eyes sardonic. "Didn't he get his
fancy silk breeches wet riding across the shallows?"

"Hugh, not another word. Try to understand." She turned and studied
him. These occasional flares of jealousy; did he mean them? She wasn't
sure. Maybe it was all just a game to him, playing at being in love.
But then, she asked herself, what was she doing? Perhaps wanting to
have everything, a lover and a husband. But why couldn't you? Besides,
Hugh would be gone soon. Better to enjoy being in love with him while
she could. "I mean that. And Anthony must never learn we came here."

He was silent for a moment, letting the metrical splash of the surf
mark the time. Somehow she'd managed to get away with her little game
so far. Anthony Walrond was too busy rallying his royalists to take
much notice of anything else. Or maybe he was willing just to turn his
blind eye to it all.

"Katy, tell me something. How, exactly, am I supposed to fit into all
this? You think you can have an amour with me and then wed a rich
royalist when I'm gone? I suppose you figure he'll be governor here
someday himself, so you won't even have to move out of the compound."

"Hugh, I'm in love with you. There, I said it. But I'm going to marry
Anthony. It's the sensible thing for me to do. Love needn't have
anything to do with that." She urged her horse forward as a white egret
swooped past, then turned back brightly. "Let's ride on over. The
island's truly a lovely spot, whether you decide to use it or not."

He stared after her in amazement. Maybe she was right. Maybe life was
just being sensible, taking whatever you could. But that was also a
game two could play. So back to business. The island.

Time was growing short, and he knew there was no longer any means to
finish lading the stores on the _Defiance_ without

everyone in Bridgetown suspecting something was afoot. The frigate was
aground directly in front of the main tobacco sheds, in full view of
every tavern around the harbor. But there was still a way to assemble
what was needed--using an old trick he had learned years ago. You pull
together your stores in some secluded haven, to be picked up the night
you make your break.

It had been a week since the invasion at Jamestown, and now what seemed
to be a battle of nerves was underway. What else could it be? A new set
of terms had been sent ashore by the commander of the fleet, terms the
Assembly had revised and sent back, only to have them rejected. After
that, there had been quiet. Was Barbados being left to starve quietly
in the sun?

Or, he'd begun to wonder, was something else afoot? Maybe even a
betrayal? Could it be some Puritan sympathizers in the Assembly were
trying to negotiate a surrender behind Bedford's back? Even Katherine
was worried; and the governor had taken the unprecedented step of
arming his servants. A turn for the worse seemed all too likely, given
the condition of the island's morale. But she'd insisted they not talk
about it today.

She touched Coral lightly across the rump with her crop, and the mare
stepped eagerly into the crystalline blue water of the shallows, happy
to escape the horseflies nipping at its shanks. Winston spurred his
mount and splashed after her. Ahead of them, Little Island stood like a
tropical mirage in the sea.

"You're right about one thing. I'm damned if this place isn't close to
paradise. There's not a lovelier spot in the Caribbees." The bottom was
mostly gravel, with only an occasional rivulet of sand. "See over
there? It looks to be a school of angelfish." He was pointing off to
the left, toward an iridescent mass of turquoise and yellow that
shimmered just beneath the surface. "I had no idea there was any place
like this along here. Tell me, are you sure there's enough draft on the
windward side for me to put in and lade?"

"When we reach those rocks up ahead, we can tie the horses and walk the
shore. Then I suppose you can decide for yourself, Captain."

She watched as the glimmer of fish darted forward. To be free like
that! Able to go anywhere, do anything. "I remember one place where the
bottom seems to drop almost straight down. You could probably anchor
there."

"Good thing we came early." He glanced up to the sky, then at her. She
detected a smile. "This may take a while."

What was he thinking? Did he feel the freedom of this place too? She
loved being here alone with him, just the two of them. What a proper
scandal it would make if anybody found out. "Maybe the real reason I
told you about this spot was to lure you out here. And then keep you
here all to myself."

He started to laugh, then stopped. "I'd probably be an easy captive,
betwixt your designs and the guns of the English navy."

"Oh, for God's sake don't be so dreary and melancholy. I'm sure you'll
be gone from Barbados soon enough, never fear. If that's what you
want." She sensed she had pressed him too hard. "But maybe you'll
remember me once in a while, after you've sailed off to get yourself
killed by the Spaniards."

"Well, I'm not done with Barbados yet, I can promise you that."

What did he mean? She wished he'd continue, but then his horse stumbled
against a rock and he glanced down, distracted. When he looked up
again, they were already nearing the shallows of the island.

"If I can get a good cart and a couple of draft horses, I'll wager I
can bring the other stores I'll need out here with no trouble at all.
It's mainly hogsheads of water we're short now, and maybe a few more
barrels of salt pork." His gelding emerged from the water, threw back
its head and snorted, then broke into a prance along the sandy beach.
"No more than two days' work, the way I figure it. I'll have a few of
the indentures give my boys a hand."

Her mare had already trotted ahead, into the shade of a tall palm whose
trunk emerged from behind a rocky embankment. She slipped from the
saddle and glanced back at Winston. He was still staring down the
shoreline in delight.

"If you'd care to tether your frolicking horse, Captain, we can walk
around to the other side."

"Why don't we swim it?" He pulled his mount alongside hers and dropped
onto the sand, his eyes suddenly sparkling. While the horse nuzzled
curiously at the salty wetness on its legs, he collected the reins and
kneeled down to begin hobbling it. "Can you make it that far?"

"Have you gone mad from the heat!" They were alone, miles from
anything. He was all hers now, no gunnery mates, no seamen. To swim!
What a sensible . . . no, romantic idea.

He laughed and began to tie a leather thong to her mare's forelegs.
"Katy, you should know better than to try being coy with me. I'll wager
you can swim like a fish. You probably learned for no other reason than
it's not ladylike." He finished with the mare and rose up, facing her.
His face was like fine leather against the blue of the sky. "Besides, I
think I'd like seeing you out of that bodice."

"Remember, you're not on your quarterdeck today, so I needn't harken to
your every wish." She slipped her hands beneath his jerkin and ran them
slowly across the muscles on his sides. The feel of him reminded her of
their first night together. As she ran her fingers upward, toward his
shoulders, his lips came down to hers.

"You might get used to it if you tried it once." His voice was almost a
whisper. As he kissed her he wrapped her in his arms and deftly pulled
the knot at the base of her bodice. "So get yourself out of this thing
and let's try the water." He wiggled the laces open and slipped it over
her head. She wore nothing beneath, and her breasts emerged milky-white
in the sunshine. He paused to examine her, then continued, "Why stand
about in this heat when there's a cool lagoon waiting?"

He stepped away, slipped off his jerkin, and tossed it across his
saddle. He was reaching down to unbuckle his boots when she stopped
him. She dropped to her knees, slipped her hands around his waist, and
nuzzled her face against his thighs. Then she released him and bent
down. "Let me unbuckle your boots."

"What?"

"I enjoy doing things for you sometimes."

He seemed startled; she'd suspected he wouldn't like it. But he didn't
pull away. "Come on then." He quickly stepped out of the boots. As she
laid them against the trunk of the palm, she noticed they were still
smeared with powder residue from that day at the Jamestown breastwork.
"We're going to see how far around this island we can swim. Pretend
that's an official order from the quarterdeck." He pulled his pistols
from his waist and secured them on his saddle. Then he unbuckled his
belt and glanced at her. "I don't know about you, but 1 don't plan to
try it in my breeches." He solemnly began slipping off his canvas
riding trousers.

She watched for a moment, then reached for the waist of her skirt.

She found herself half wishing he couldn't see her like this, plain and
in the sunlight. She liked her body, but would he? Would he notice that
her legs were a trifle too slim? Or that her stomach wasn't as round as
it should be?

Now he was leading the way down the incline toward the lagoon. The
white sand was a warm, textured cushion against their bare feet as they
waded into the placid waters. Around the island, on the windward side,
the waves crashed against the shore, but here the lagoon remained
serene. As she noticed the brisk wind against her skin, she suddenly
didn't care what he thought. She felt like the most beautiful woman
alive.

When she was younger, she could ride and shoot as well as any lad on
the island; then one day she awoke to find herself cloaked in a prison
of curves and bulges, with a litany in her ears about all the things
she wasn't supposed to be seen doing anymore. It infuriated her. Why
did men have things so much easier?

Like Winston. He moved the same way he handled his flintlock pistols,
with a thoughtless poise. As he walked now, his shoulders were slightly
forward and his broad back seemed to balance his stride. But, even
more, she loved the hard rhythm of his haunches, trim and rippled with
muscles. She stopped to watch as he splashed into the shallows.

God forgive me, she thought, how I do adore him. What I'd most like
right now is just to enfold him, to capture him in my arms. And never
let . . .

Good God, what am I saying?

The water was deliciously cool, and it deepened quickly. Before she
knew, she felt the rhythm of the waves against her thighs.

"Katy, the time has come." He turned back and admired her for a second,
then thumped a spray of water across her breasts. "Let's see if you
really can swim." Abruptly he leaned forward, dipped one shoulder, and
stroked powerfully. The curves of his body blended with the ripples as
he effortlessly glided across the surface. A startled triggerfish
darted past, orange in the sun. He stroked again, then yelled over his
shoulder, "I'm still not sure I can always believe everything you say."

"Nor I you, Hugh. Though truly you say little enough." She leaned into
the water, fresh and clean against her face. She gave a kick and
another stroke and she was beside him. The sea around them seemed a
world apart from the bondage of convention. He was right for wanting to
swim. "So today, to repay me for showing you this spot, I want you to
tell me everything, all the things you've been holding back."

"Unlike you, who's held nothing back? Like this island and what it
means to you?"

She just ignored him, the best way to handle Hugh when he was like
this, and stroked again, staying even, the taste of salt on her lips.
The white sands of the shoreline were gliding past now, and behind them
the palms nodded lazily in the sun. Then she rolled over and kicked,
drifting through the blue. He rolled over too and reached to take her
hand. They slid across the surface together as one body.

She was lost in the quiet and calm, almost dreaming, when she saw his
face rise up. "How far can you see from those rocks up there?" He was
pointing toward the craggy rise in the center of the island. "I'd like
to go up after a while and have a look."

"You want to know everything about this place. All at once. Is that the
only thing you care about?"

"Not quite." He pulled next to her. "I'll grant you've proved you can
swim. And damned well." He smiled wryly. "It's doubtless a good thing
to know how to do. We may all be needing to swim out of here soon, God
help us."

"Not a word, remember your promise." Her eyes flashed as she flung a
handful of water. Then she looked past him, at the white sand and the
line of green palms. "Let's go ashore for a while. That spot up there,
at the trees--it's too beautiful to pass."

The afternoon sun had begun to slant from the west as they waded out
onto the sparkling sand, his arm circled around her waist. The breeze
urged a sprightly nip against their skin. "Hugh, I love you. Truly."
She leaned against him to feel his warmth. "I don't know what I should
do."

He was subdued and quiet as they stepped around a gleaming pile of
shells. Then he stopped and quietly enfolded her in his arms. "It's
only fair to tell you I've never before felt about a woman the way I
feel about you." He kissed her softly. "The troubling part is, I ought
to know better."

He turned and led her on in silence, till they reached the shade of a
low palm. She dropped down onto the grass and watched him settle beside
her. A large conch shell lay nearby, like a petrified flower. She
picked it up and held it toward the sun, admiring its iridescent
colors, then tossed it back onto the grass and looked at him. "I meant
it when I said I wanted you to tell me everything."

He glanced up and traced his fingertips across the gentle curve at the
tops of her white breasts. "Are you sure you want to hear it?"

"Yes, I do." She thought she detected a softness in his eyes, almost a
yielding.

He leaned back in the grass. "I guess you think there's a lot to tell,
yet somehow it all adds up to nothing. To lying here under a palm, on
an empty island, with a price on my head in England and little to show
for all the years." He looked out to sea and shaded his eyes as he
studied a sail at the horizon. "It seems I'm something different to
everybody. So which story do you want to hear?"

"Why not try the real one?" She pushed him onto his back and raised on
her elbow to study his face. It was certainly older than its years.
"Why won't you ever tell me about what happened when you first came out
here? What was it about that time that troubles you so much?"

"It's not a pretty tale. Before I came, I never even thought much about
the New World." He smiled at the irony of it now. "It all started when
I was apprenticed and shipped out to the Caribbean for not being
royalist enough."

"Where to?"

"Well . . ." He paused automatically, then decided to continue. "In
truth it was Tortuga. Back when the Providence Company had a settlement
on the island."

"But wasn't that burned out by the Spaniards? We all heard about it. I
thought everybody there was killed. How did you survive?"

"As it happens, I'd been sort of banished by then. Since I didn't get
along too well with the Puritans there, they'd sent

me over to the north side of Hispaniola, to hunt. Probably saved my
life. That's where I was when the Spaniards came."

"On Hispaniola?" She stared at him. "Do you mean to say you were once
one of . . ."

"The Cow-Killers." It was said slowly and casually. He waited to see
how she would respond, but there was only a brief glimmer of surprise
in her eyes.

"Then what some people say is true. I'd never believed it till now."
She laughed. "I suppose I should be shocked, but I'm not."

He smiled guardedly. "Well, in those days they only hunted cattle.
Until toward the last." He paused a moment, then looked at her sharply.
"But, yes, that's who I was with. However, Katy, don't credit quite
everything you may hear about me from the Walronds."

"But you left them. At least that tells me something about you." She
held his hand lightly against her lips. The calluses along the palm
were still soft from the water. "Why did you finally decide to go?"

He pulled her next to him and kissed her on the mouth, twice. Then he
ran his fingers down her body, across her smooth waist, till he reached
the mound of light chestnut hair at her thighs. "I've never told
anyone, Katy. I'm not even sure I want to tell you now." He continued
with his fingertips, on down her skin.

"Why won't you tell me?" She passed her hand across his chest. Beneath
the bronze she could feel the faint pumping of his heart. "I want to
know all about you, to have all that to think about when you're gone.
We're so much alike, in so many ways. I feel I have a right to know
even the smallest little things about you."

"I tried to shoot one of them. One of the Cow-Killers." He turned and
ripped off a blade of grass, then crumpled it in his hand and looked
away.

"Well, I'm sure that's not the first time such a thing has happened. I
expect you had good reason. After all . . ."

"The difference was who I tried to kill." He rolled over and stared up
at the vacant sky. It was deep blue, flawless.

"What do you mean? Who was it?"

"You probably wouldn't know." He glanced at her. "Ever hear of a man
who goes by the name of Jacques le Basque?"

"Good God." She glanced at him in astonishment. "Isn't he the one who's
been pillaging and killing Spaniards in the Windward Passage for years
now? In Bridgetown they say the Spaniards call him the most
bloodthirsty man in the Caribbean. I'm surprised he let you get away
with it."

"I didn't escape entirely unscathed." Winston laughed. "You see, he was
leader of the Cow-Killers back then. I suppose he still is."

"So what happened?"

"One foggy morning we had a small falling out and I tried a pistol on
him. It misfired." He pushed back her hair and kissed her on the cheek.
"Did you know, Katy, that the sun somehow changes the color of your
eyes? Makes them bluer?"

She grabbed his hand and pushed him back up. "You're trying to shift
the topic. I know your tricks. Don't do that with me. Tell me the
rest."

"What do you suppose? After I made free to kill him, he naturally
returned the favor." Winston stroked the scar on his cheek. "His pistol
ball came this close to taking off my head. That's when I thought it
healthy to part company with him and his lads." He traced his tongue
down her body and lightly probed a nipple. It blushed pink, then began
to harden under his touch.

"No, you don't. Not yet. You'll make me lose track of things." She
almost didn't want him to know how much she delighted in the feel of
his lips. It would give him too much power over her. Could she, she
wondered, ever have the same power over him? She had never yet kissed
him all over, the way she wanted, but she was gathering courage for it.
What would he do when she did?

She reached up and cradled his face in her hands. The tongue that had
been circling her nipple drew away and slowly licked one of her
fingers. She felt herself surrendering again, and quickly drew her hand
back. "Talk to me some more. Tell me why you tried to kill him."

"Who?"

"The man you just said." She frowned, knowing well his way of teasing.
Yes, Hugh Winston was quite a tease. In everything. "Just now. This
Jacques le Basque."

"Him? Why did I try to kill him?" He pecked at her nose, and she sensed
a tenseness in his mouth. "I scarcely remember. It's as though the fog
that moming never really cleared from my mind. As best I recall, it had
something to do with a frigate." He smiled, the lines in his face
softening. Then he slipped an arm beneath her and drew her next to him.
Her skin was warm from the sun. "Still, days like this make up for a
lot in life. Just being here. With you. Trouble is, I worry I'm
beginning to trust you. More than I probably ought."

"I think I trust you too." She turned and kissed him on the lips,
testing their feel. The tenseness had vanished, as mysteriously as it
had come. She kissed him again, now with his lips meeting hers, and she
wanted to crush them against her own. Gone now, all the talk. He had
won. He had made her forget herself once again. "I also love you, and I
know you well enough by now to know for sure that's unwise."

She moved across him, her breasts against his chest. Would he continue
to hold back, to keep something to himself, something he never seemed
willing--or able--to give? Only recently had she become aware of it. As
she learned to surrender to him more and more fully, she had slowly
come to realize that only a part of him was there for her.

Then the quiet of the lagoon settled around them as their bodies molded
together, a perfect knowing.

He pulled her against his chest, hard, as he knew she liked to be held.
And she moved against him, instinctively. She felt herself wanting him,
ready for that most exquisite moment of all. She slipped slowly
downward, while he moved carefully to meet her. Her soft breasts were
still pillowed against his chest.

She gasped lightly, a barely discernible intake of breath, and closed
her eyes as she slowly received him. Her eyes flooded with delight and
she rose up, till her breasts swung above him like twin bells. "This is
how I want to stay. Forever." She bent back down and kissed him full on
the mouth. "Say you'll never move."

"Not even like this . . .?"

Now the feel of her and the scent of her, as she enclosed him and
worked her thighs against him, fully awoke his own desire. It had
begun, that need both to give and to take, and he sensed in her an
intensity matching his own. So alien, yet so alike.

Gradually he became aware of a quickening of her motions against him,
and he knew that, at this instant, he had momentarily ceased to exist
for her; he had lost her to something deeper. She leaned closer, not to
clasp him but to thrust her breasts against him, wordlessly telling him
to touch the hard buds of her nipples. Then the rhythms that rippled
her belly shifted downward, strong and driven. With small sounds of
anticipation she again rose above him, then suddenly cried aloud and
grasped his body with her hands, to draw him into her totally.

This was the moment when together they knew that nothing else mattered.
As he felt himself giving way to her, he felt her gasp and again thrust
against him, as though to seize and hold the ecstasy that had already
begun to drift beyond them.

But it had been fleeting, ephemeral, and now they were once more merely
man and woman, in each other's arms, amidst the sand,and gently waving
palms. Finally she reached up and took his hands from her soft breasts,
her eyes resigned and bewildered. He drew her to him and kissed her
gently, to comfort her for that moment now lost to time.

Then he lifted her in his arms and lay her against the soft grass, her
body open to him. He wanted this woman, more than anything.

The afternoon sky was azure now, the hue of purest lapis lazuli, and
its scattering of soft white clouds was mirrored in the placid waters
of the lagoon. He held her cradled in his arms, half dozing, her face
warm against his chest.

"Time." His voice sounded lightly against her ear.

"What, darling?"

"It's time we had a look around." He sat up and kissed her. "We've got
to go back where we left the horses, and get our clothes and boots." He
turned and gazed toward the dark outcrop of rocks that rose up from the
center of the island. "Then I'd like to go up there, to try and get
some idea what the shoreline looks like on the windward side."

"Want to swim back?" She stared up at him, then rubbed her face against
his chest. As she rose she was holding his hand and almost dancing
around him.

"You swim back if you like. For myself, I think I'm getting a bit old
for such. What if I just walked the shore?"

"Oh, you're old, to be sure. You're ancient. But mostly in your head."
She grabbed his hand. "Come on."

"Well, just part way." He rose abruptly, then reached over and hoisted
her into his arms. He bounced her lightly, as though she were no more
weighty than a bundle of cane, and laughed at her gasp of surprise.
"What do you know! Maybe I'm not as decrepit as I thought." He turned
and strode toward the shoreline, still cradling her against his chest.

"Put me down. You're just showing off."

"That's right." They were waist deep when he balanced her momentarily
high above the water and gave a shove. She landed with a splash and
disappeared, only to resurface sputtering. "Careful, Katy, or you'll
frighten the angelfish." He ducked the handful of water she flung at
him and dived head first into the sea. A moment later he emerged,
stroking. "Come on then, you wanted to swim. Shall we race?"

"You'll regret it." She dived after him like a dolphin and when she
finally surfaced she was already ahead. She yelled back, "Don't think
I'll let you win in the name of pride."

He roared with laughter and moved alongside her. "Whose pride are we
talking about, mine or yours?"

And they swam. He was always half a length behind her, yelling that he
would soon pass her, but when they reached the point along the shore
even with their clothes, she was still ahead.

"Now shall I carry you ashore. Captain?" She let her feet touch the
sandy bottom and turned to watch him draw next to her. "You're most
likely exhausted."

"Damn you." He stood up beside her, breathing heavily. "No seaman ever
lets himself get caught in the water. Now I know why." He seized her
hand and glanced at the sun. It was already halfway toward evening.
"Come on, we're wasting time. I want to reconnoiter this damned island
of yours before it's too dark."

She pulled him back and kissed him one last time, the waters of the
lagoon still caressing them. "Hugh, this has been the loveliest day of
my life. I'll remember it always." She kissed him again, and now he
yielded, enfolding her in his arms. "Can we come back? Soon?"

"Maybe. If you can find time amidst all your marriage negotiations." He
ran his hand over her smooth buttocks, then gave her a kiss that had
the firmness of finality. "But now we go to work, Katy. Come on."

The horses watched them expectantly, snorting and pawing with
impatience, while they dressed again. She finished drawing the laces of
her bodice, then walked over and whispered to her mare.

"We can take the horses if you think they could use a stretch." He
gazed up toward the outcrop. "I suppose they can make it."

"Coral can go anywhere you can."

"Then let her prove it." He reached down and untied the hobble on his
gelding's forefeet. Then he grabbed the reins and vaulted into the
saddle. "Let's ride."

The route up the island's center spine was dense with scrub foliage,
but the horses pushed their way through. The afternoon was silent save
for the occasional grunts of wild hogs in the underbrush. Before long
they emerged into the clear sunshine again, the horses trotting eagerly
up a grassy rise, with only a few large boulders to impede their climb.
When they reached the base of the rocky outcropping that marked the
edge of the plateau, he slipped from the saddle and tied his mount to a
small green tree. "No horse can make that." He held Coral's reins as
she dismounted. "Let's walk."

Behind them now the long shore of Barbados stretched into the western
horizon. The south side, toward Oistins Bay, was shielded by the hill.

"This could be a good lookout post." He took her arm and helped her
over the first jagged extrusion of rock. Now the path would be winding,
but the way was clear, merely a steep route upward. "I'll wager you can
see for ten leagues out to sea from up there at the top."

"I've always wondered what Oistins looked like from here. I never got
up this far before." She ran a hand fondly down the back of his jerkin.
It was old and brown and sweat-encrusted. She knew now that he had
fancy clothes secreted away, but he seemed to prefer things as worn and
weathered as he could find. "The harbor must be beautiful this time of
the afternoon."

"If you know where to look upland, you might just see your Walrond
gallant's plantation." He gestured off to the left. "Didn't you say
it's over in that direction somewhere?"

She nodded silently, relieved he hadn't said anything more. They were
approaching the top now, a rocky plateau atop the rough outcrop in
front of them.

"Up we go, Katy." He seized a sharp protrusion and pulled himself even.
Then he reached down and took her hand. She held to his grip as he
hoisted her up over the last jagged rocks.

"It's just like . . ." Her voice trailed off.

"What?" He glanced back at her.

"Oh God, Hugh! I don't believe it!" She was pointing toward the
southeast, and the color had drained from her face.

He whirled and squinted into the afternoon haze.

At sea, under full sail with a heading of north by northeast, were
eight English warships, tawny-brown against the blue Caribbean. Their
guns were not run out. Instead their decks were crowded with steel-
helmeted infantry. They were making directly for Oistins Bay.

"The breastwork! Why aren't they firing!" He instinctively reached for
the handle of the pistol in the left-hand side of his belt. "I've not
heard a shot. Where's Walrond's Windward Regiment? They're just letting
them land!"

"Oh Hugh, how could the Windwards do this to the island? They're the
staunchest royalists here. Why would they betray the rest of us?"

"We've got to get back to Bridgetown, as hard as we can ride. To pull
all the militia together and try to get the men down from Jamestown."

"But I've heard no warnings." She watched the English frigates begin to
shorten sail as they entered the bay. Suddenly she glanced down at his
pistols. "What's the signal for Oistins?"

"You're right." He slipped the flintlock from the left side of his belt
and handed it to her. "It's four shots--two together, followed by two
apart. Though I doubt there's anybody around close enough to hear."

"Let's do it anyway. There's a plantation about half a mile west down
the coast. Ralph Warner. He's in the Assembly."

He pulled the other pistol from his belt. "Now, after you fire the
first barrel, pull that little trigger there, below the lock, and the
second one revolves into place. But first check the prime."

"That's the first thing I did." She frowned in exasperation. "I'll
wager I can shoot almost as well as you can. Isn't it time now you
learned to trust me?"

"Katy, after what's just happened, you're about the only person on
Barbados I trust at all. Get ready."

He raised the gun above his head and there was the sharp crack of two
pistol shots in rapid succession. Then she quickly squeezed off the
rest of the signal. She passed back the gun, then pointed toward the
settlement at Oistins. "Look, do you see them? That must be some of the
Windward Regiment, down by the breastwork. That's their regimental
flag. They've probably come down to welcome the fleet."

"Your handsome fiance seems to have sold his soul, and his honor. The
royalist bastard . . ."

He paused and caught her arm. From the west came two faint cracks of
musket fire, then again. The signal.

"Let's get back to Bridgetown as fast as these horses will take us. I'm
taking command of this militia, and I'm going to have Anthony Walrond's
balls for breakfast." He was almost dragging her down the incline.
"Come on. It's one thing to lose a fair fight. It's something else to
be cozened and betrayed. Nobody does that to me. By Christ I swear it."

She looked apprehensively at his eyes and saw an anger unlike any she
had ever seen before. It welled up out of his very soul.

That was what really moved him. Honor. You kept your word. Finally she
knew.

She grasped for the saddle horn as he fairly threw her atop her horse.
The mare snorted in alarm at the sudden electricity in the air. A
moment later Winston was in his saddle and plunging down the brushy
incline.

"Hugh, let's . . . ride together. Don't . . ." She ducked a swinging
limb and then spurred Coral alongside. "Why would Anthony do it? And
what about Jeremy? He'll be mortified."

"You'd better be worrying about the Assembly. That's your father's
little creation. Would they betray him?"

"Some of them were arguing for surrender. They're worried about their
plantations being ruined if there's more fighting, more war."

"Well, you can tell them this. There's going to be war, all right. If I
have to fight with nobody helping me but my own lads." He spurred his
horse onto the grassy slope that led down to the sand. Moments later
the frightened horses were splashing through the shallows. Ahead was
the green shore of Barbados. "By Christ, there'll be war like they've
never seen. Mark it, by sunrise tomorrow this God damned island is
going to be in flames."



Chapter Fifteen


"Your servant, sir." Anthony Walrond stood in the shadow of the Oistins
breastwork, his hand resting lightly on his sword. Edmond Calvert was
walking slowly up the beach from the longboat, flanked by James Powlett
and Richard Morris. The hour was half past three in the afternoon,
exactly as agreed. There had to be enough light to get the men and
supplies ashore, and then the timely descent of darkness to shield
them. "Your punctuality, I trust, portends your constancy in weightier
concerns."

"And yours, sir, I pray may do the same." Calvert slipped off his dark
hat and lightly bowed a greeting. Then he turned and indicated the two
men behind him. "You've met Vice Admiral Powlett. And I understand
Colonel Morris is not entirely unknown to you."

"We've had some acquaintance in times past." Walrond nodded coldly in
the direction of Morris, but did not return the commander's perfunctory
smile. The old hatred, born of years of fighting in England, flowed
between them.

"Then shall we to affairs?" Calvert turned back and withdrew a packet
from his waistcoat. "The supplies we agreed on are ready. I've had my
Chief Purser draw up a list for your inspection."

Walrond took the papers, then glanced out toward the ships.

So it's finally come to this, he thought wistfully. But, God is my
witness, we truly did all any man could ask. There's no turning back
now.

As he thumbed open the wax seal of the packet, he noted absently that
it was dated today, Friday. Had all this really come to pass since only
sundown Monday, when he had first met Powlett, received the initial set
of terms from Edmond Calvert, and begun negotiations? He had tried his
best to counsel reason to the Assembly, he told himself, to arrange an
honorable treaty that would preserve the militia. But a handful of
hotheads had clamored for hopeless _Defiance_, and prevailed. The only
way to save the island now was to force it to surrender as quickly and
painlessly as possible. Victory lay in living to fight another day.

He gazed back at the ships of the fleet, and thought of the road that
had brought them to this: the defection of his own regiment, once the
finest fighting men in England, the royalist Windwards.

Monday at sundown he had commandeered the back room of the Dolphin
Tavern, which stood hard by the shore of Oistins Bay, and met Powlett.
Through the night emissaries had shuttled terms back and forth between
the tavern and the Rainbowe, berthed offshore. By the time the flagship
hoisted anchor and made way for open sea at dawn, Anthony Walrond held
in his hand a document signed by Edmond Calvert; it provided for the
end of the blockade, the island's right to keep its arms and rule
itself in local matters, and a full amnesty for all. The price, as
price there must be, was an agreement to recognize the Commonwealth and
the appointment of a new governor and Council by Calvert.

Tuesday he had summoned a trusted coterie of his royalist officers to
the Dolphin and set forth the terms. They had reviewed them one by one,
debated each, then agreed by show of hands that none more favorable
could reasonably be obtained. Healths were drunk to the eventual
restoration of Charles II to the throne, and that night a longboat was
dispatched to the _Rainbowe_, carrying a signed copy of the agreement.

Wednesday, as agreed, Edmond Calvert had ordered a duplicate copy of
the terms forwarded to the Assembly, indicating it was his last offer.
No mention was made of the secret negotiations that had produced the
document. At that meeting of the Assembly Dalby Bedford had risen to
declare he would not allow his own interests to be the cause of a
single new death, that he would accept the terms and resign forthwith
if such was the pleasure of the Assembly--which was, he said, a
democratic body that must now make its own decision whether to continue
fighting or to negotiate. He next moved that the document be put to a
vote. It was narrowly approved by the Assembly; an honorable peace
seemed within reach.

But then the fabric so carefully sewed was ripped apart. A committee
was formed to draw up the statement of the Assembly's response. In an
atmosphere of hot spirits and general confusion, several of the more
militant members had managed to insert a new clause into the treaty:
that "the legal and rightful government of this island shall remain as
it is now established, by law and our own consent."

The response was then carried by voice vote and sent back to Calvert, a
gauntlet flung across the admiral's face. The defiant faction in the
Assembly exulted and drank toasts to the destruction of any who would
have peace on the original terms.

That night Calvert had delivered a new message to Anthony Walrond,
inviting him to join with the forces of the Commonwealth--a move, he
said, that would surely induce the Assembly to show reason. With this
invitation he had inserted an additional offer: he would endeavor to
persuade Oliver Cromwell to restore the sequestrated estates in England
of any royalist officer who consented to assist.

On Thursday, Anthony held another meeting of the officers of the
Windward Regiment, and they voted enthusiastically to defect to the
side of the fleet. After all, they reasoned, had not an honorable peace
already been refused by the extremists in the Assembly? That night he
so advised Edmond Calvert, demanding as conditions a supply of musket
shot and fifty kegs of musket powder.

This morning just before dawn a longboat from the _Rainbowe_ had
returned Calvert's reply--a signed acceptance of the terms. With
feelings mixed and rueful, he had ordered an English flag hoisted above
the breastwork at Oistins, the agreed-upon signal to Calvert. Then, to
ensure security, he ordered that no militiaman be allowed to leave
Oistins till the ships of the fleet had put in and landed their
infantry.

The _Rainbowe _led the eight warships that entered the bay at
midafternoon. Anthony had seen Edmond Calvert mount the quarterdeck to
watch as the guns in the breastwork were turned around and directed
inland, part of his conditions. Then the admiral had ordered a longboat
lowered and come ashore. . . .

"These supplies all have to be delivered now, before dark." Anthony was
still scrutinizing the list. "Or my men'll not be in the mood to so
much as lift a half-pike."

What matter, Calvert told himself. It's done. The Barbados landing is
achieved. The island is ours. "You'll have the first load of powder
onshore before sundown." He gestured toward the paper. "Your musket
shot, and the matchcord, are on the _Marsten Moor_, but I think we can
have the bulk off-loaded by then too."

"What of the rest of the powder, sir?" Walrond squinted at the list
with his good eye. "That was our main requirement. Some of these
regiments had little enough to start with, and I fear we'll be needing
yours if there's any fighting to be done."

Good Christ. Calvert cast a dismayed look toward Morris. Had I but
known how scarcely provisioned their forces were, I might well not have
. . .

"Well, sir. What of the powder?" Anthony's voice grew harder. "We can
choose to halt this operation right now if . . ."

"I've ordered ten kegs sent ashore. Surely that should be adequate for
the moment. You'll have the rest by morning, my word of honor." He
squinted toward the horizon. "How much time do you think we've got to
deploy the infantry?"

"Less than we'd hoped. We heard the signal for Oistins being sent up
the coast about half an hour past." Walrond turned and followed
Calvert's gaze. The sun was a fiery disc above the western horizon, an
emblem of the miserable Caribbees ever reminding him of the England he
had lost. "If their militia plans to meet us, they'll likely be
assembling at Bridgetown right now. It's possible they'll be able to
march some of the regiments tonight. Which means they could have men
and cavalry here on our perimeter well before dawn."

"Then we've got to decide now where the best place would be to make a
stand." Calvert turned and motioned Morris forward. The commander had
been watching apprehensively as his tattered troops disembarked from
the longboats and waded in through the surf. "What say you, sir? Would
you have us hold here at Oistins, or try to march along the coastal
road toward Bridgetown while there's still some light?"

Morris removed his helmet and slapped at the buzzing gnats now emerging
in the evening air, hoping to obscure his thoughts. Did the admiral
realize, he wondered, how exposed their men were at this very moment?
Why should anyone trust the loyalties of Anthony Walrond and his
royalists? It could all be a trap, intended to lure his men onshore. He
had managed to muster almost four hundred infantrymen from the ships,
but half of those were weak and vomiting from scurvy. Already, even
with just the militia he could see, his own forces were outnumbered. If
Walrond's regiments turned on them now, the entire Commonwealth force
would be in peril. Could they even manage to make their way back to the
ships?

Caution, that's what the moment called for now, and that meant never
letting the Windward Regiment, or any island militia, gain a position
that would seal off their escape route.

"We'll need a garrison for these men, room for their tents." He glanced
carefully at Walrond. "I'm thinking it would be best

for now if we kept our lads under separate command. Each of us knows
his own men best."

"As you will, sir." Anthony glanced back, smelling Morris' caution.
It's the first mark of a good commander, he told himself, but damn him
all the same. He knows as well as I we've got to merge these forces. "I
propose we march the men upland for tonight, to my plantation. You can
billet your officers in my tobacco sheds, and encamp the men in the
fields."

"Will it be ground we can defend?" Morris was carefully monitoring the
line of longboats bringing his men ashore. Helmets and breastplates
glistened in the waning sun.

"You'll not have the sea at your back, the way you do now, should we
find need for a tactical retreat."

"Aye, but we'll have little else, either." Morris looked back at
Calvert. "I'd have us off-load some of the ship ordnance as soon as
possible. We're apt to need it to hold our position here, especially
since I'll wager they'll have at least twice the cavalry mustered that
these Windwards have got."

"You'll not hold this island from the shores of Oistins Bay, sir, much
as you might wish." Anthony felt his frustration rising. "We've got to
move upland as soon as we can."

"I'd have us camp here, for tonight." Morris tried to signal his
disquiet to Calvert. "Those will be my orders."

"Very well, sir," Walrond continued, squinting toward the Windward
Regiment's cavalry, their horses prancing as they stood at attention.
"And don't forget the other consideration in our agreement. The
Assembly is to be given one more opportunity to accept the terms. You
are obliged to draft one final communication for Bedford, beseeching
him to show himself an Englishman and persuade the Assembly to let us
reach an accord."

"As you will, sir." Calvert turned away, biting his tongue before he
said more.

Keep an even keel, he told himself. There'll be time and plenty to
reduce this island, Sir Anthony Walrond with it. The work's already
half done. Now to the rest. After we've brought

them to heel, we'll have time enough to show them how the Commonwealth
means to rule the Americas.

Time and plenty, may God help them all.

      *      *      *      *      *

"Shango, can you hear me?" She knelt beside her mat, her voice
pleading. How, she wondered, did you pray to a Yoruba god? Really pray?
Was it the same as the Christian God?

But Shango was more.

He was more than just a god. He was also part of her, she knew that
now. But must he always wait to be called, evoked? Must he first seize
your body for his own, before he could declare his presence, work his
will?

Then the hard staccato sounds came again, the drums, their Yoruba words
drifting up over the rooftop from somewhere in the distance and
flooding her with dread, wrenching her heart.

Tonight, they proclaimed, the island will be set to the torch. And the
_branco _will be consumed in the fires.

The men of the Yoruba, on plantations the length of the island, were
ready. This was the day consecrated to Ogun, the day the fields of cane
would be turned to flame. Even now Atiba was dictating final orders,
words that would be repeated again and again by the drums.

After the fires began, while the _branco _were still disorganized and
frightened, they would attack and burn the plantation houses. No man
who owned a _preto_ slave would be left alive. With all the powerful
_branco_ slaveholders dead, the drums proclaimed, the white indentures
would rise up and join with the Yoruba. Together they would seize the
island.

Oh Shango, please. She gripped the sides of the thin mattress. Make him
understand. No white will aid them. To the _branco_ the proud Yoruba
warriors are merely more _preto_, black and despised. Make him
understand it will be the end of his dream. To rise up now will mean
the slaughter of his people. And ensure slavery forever.

In truth, the only one she cared about was Atiba. To know

with perfect certainty that she would see him hanged, probably his body
then quartered to frighten the others, was more than she could endure.
His rebellion had no chance. What could he hope to do? Not even Ogun,
the powerful god of war, could overcome the _branco's_ weapons and
cunning. Or his contempt for any human with a trace of African blood.

Atiba had hinted that he and his men would somehow find muskets. But
where?

This afternoon, only hours ago, she had heard another signal cross the
island, the musket shots the _branco _had devised to sound an invasion
alert. Following that, many groups of cavalry had ridden past, headed
south. The sight of them had made her reflect sadly that Atiba and his
Yoruba warriors had no horses.

Afterward she had learned from the white servants that the soldiers of
the Ingles fleet had again invaded the island, this time on the
southern coast. This meant that all the Barbados militiamen surely must
be mobilized now. Every musket on the island would be in the hands of a
white. There would be no cache of guns to steal. Moreover, after the
battle--regardless of who won--the soldiers of the fleet would probably
help the militiamen hunt down Atiba and his men. No branco wanted the
island seized by African slaves.

Shango, stop them. Ogun has made them drunk for the taste of blood. But
the blood on their lips will soon be their own.

Slowly, sadly, she rose. She pulled her white shift about her, then
reached under the mat to retrieve the small wand she had stolen from
Atiba's hut. She untied the scarf she had wrapped around it and gazed
again at the freshly carved wood, the double axe. Then she held it to
her breast and headed, tiptoeing, down the creaking back stair. She had
no choice but to go. To the one place she knew she could find Shango.



"I say damn their letter." Benjamin Briggs watched as the mounted
messenger from Oistins disappeared into the dark, down the road between
the palms, still holding the white flag above his head. "I suppose
they'd now have us fall back and negotiate? When we've got the men and
horse ready to drive them into the sea."

"It's addressed to me, presumably a formality. Doubtless it's meant for
the entire Assembly." Bedford turned the packet in his hand and moved
closer to the candles on the table. "It's from Admiral Calvert."

The front room of Nicholas Whittington's plantation house was crowded
with officers of the militia. There were few helmets; most of the men
wore the same black hats seen in the fields. Muskets and bandoliers of
powder and shot were stacked in the comer. Intermittent gusts of the
night breeze washed the stifling room through the open shutters.

The afternoon's mobilization had brought together less than three
thousand men, half the militia's former strength. They had marched west
from Bridgetown at sunset, and now they were encamped on the
Whittington plantation grounds, in fields where tobacco once had grown.
The plantation was a thousand acre tract lying three miles to the
southwest of Anthony Walrond's lands, near the southern coast.

"Well, we've got a quorum of the Assembly here." Colonel George
Heathcott stepped forward, rubbing at his short beard. He was still
stunned by Anthony Walrond's defection to the Roundheads. "We can
formally entertain any last minute proposals they'd care to make."

"I trust this time the Assembly will discern treachery when they see
it," Briggs interjected. "I warned you this was likely to happen. When
you lose your rights, 'tis small matter whether you hand them over or
give them up at the point of a musket barrel. They're gone and that's
the end of it, either way."

"Aye, I'll wager there's apt to be a Walrond hand in this too,
regardless who authored it. Just another of his attempts to cozen the
honest men of this island." Tom Lancaster spat toward the empty
fireplace. He thought ruefully of the cane he had in harvest--five
hundred acres, almost half his lands, had been planted--and realized
that now the fate of his future profits lay with an untrustworthy
militia and the Assembly, half the voting members of which were men
with fewer than a dozen acres. "He's sold the future, and liberty, of
this island for forty pieces of silver."

"Or for the governorship," Heathcott interjected. "Mark it."

"Not so long as I've got breath." Briggs' complexion was deepening in
the candlelight as he began wondering what the Commonwealth's men would
do with his sugar. Confiscate it and ruin him in the bargain? "I say we
fight to the last man, no matter what."

Dalby Bedford finished scanning the letter and looked up. "I think we
should hold one last vote. There's . . ."

"What are the terms?" Briggs interrupted.

"They seem to be the same. I presume he thought we might surrender, now
that they've landed." Bedford hesitated. Was independence worth the
killing sure to ensue if they went to war--a war that had now become
planter against planter? "But it does appear he's willing to
negotiate."

"Then let's hear it." Briggs glanced about the room. "Though I'd have
every man here remember that we've got no guarantees other than
Calvert's word, and anything he consents to will still have to be
approved by Parliament."

"If you'll allow me, sir." Bedford motioned for quiet, then lifted a
candlestick from the table and held it over the parchment.



_"To the right honorable etc.

"My Lord--I have formerly sent you many Invitations to persuade you to
a fair compliance with that new Power which governs your Native
Country, thereby preserving yourself and all the Gent, of this island
from certain ruin, and this Island from that desolation which your, and
their, obstinacy may bring upon it.



"Although I have now been welcomed by a considerable part of the
Island, with my Commission published--that being to appoint your
Governor for the State of England--yet I am still the same reasonable
Man as before and hold forth the same grace and favor to you I formerly
did, being resolved no change of fortune shall change my nature. Thus I
invite you to accept this same Commission as the others have done--in
recognition that we each now possess considerable portions of this
noble Island. . . ."



_Briggs stepped forward. "I already see there's deceit in it. They hold
Oistins, not an acre more. With the men and horse we've got . . ."

"Let me read the rest." Bedford interrupted. "There're only a few lines
more." He lifted the candle closer and continued.



_"Therefore I am bound in Honour as well as good nature to endeavour
your preservations, to which purpose I have enclosed the Articles which
the Windward Regiment have accepted. If you have any Exceptions to
these Articles, let me know them by your commissioners and I shall
appoint fit persons to consider them. By ratifying this Negotiation you
will prevent further effusion of blood, and will preserve your Persons
and Estates from ruin.

"If you doubt mine own power to grant these Articles, know I shall
engage not only mine own but the Honour of the State of England which
is as much as can be required by any rational man. And so I rest,

Your Servant,

Admiral Edmond Calvert"

_

Briggs reached for the letter. "What's his prattle about honor, by God!
This island's been betrayed by the very men who speak about it most."
He gazed around at the members of the Assembly. "They've already heard
our 'exceptions' and their reply was to invade. I propose we settle
this with arms, and then talk of honor."

"There's a threat in that letter, for all the soothing words."

A grizzled Assembly member spoke up, fingering his bandolier.
"Calvert's saying we're in a war against the might of England, with our
own people divided."

"Aye, but when you find out a dog you'd kick will bite back, you learn
to stand clear of him." Briggs waved him down. He thought again of the
years of profits that lay just ahead, if only English control could be
circumvented. "We've but to teach Cromwell a sound lesson, and he'll
let us be."

"But does this dog you speak of have enough bite to drive back a full-
scale invasion?" Heathcott peered around him at the other members. The
dark-beamed room grew silent as his question seemed to hang in the air.
No one knew the full strength of the invading forces, now that they had
been merged with the Windwards. And, more importantly, whether the
Barbados militia would have the stomach to meet them.

"He's here, Yor Worships." At that moment a thin, wiry servant in a
brown shirt appeared at the doorway. Behind him, in the hallway,
another man had just been ushered in. He was hatless and wearing a
powder-smeared jerkin. His face was drawn, but his eyes were intense.

Hugh Winston was now in full command of the Barbados militia,
commissioned by unanimous vote of the Assembly.

"Your servant, Captain." Bedford nodded a greeting. "We're waiting to
hear what you've managed to learn."

"My lads just got back. They say the Roundheads haven't started moving
upland yet. They're still encamped along the shore at Oistins, and
together with the Windwards they're probably no more than a thousand
strong."

"By God, we can stop them after all." Briggs squinted through the
candlelight. "What are they doing now? Preparing to march?"

       "Doesn't appear so. At least not yet. They look to be waiting,
while they off-load some of the heavy ordnance from the _Marsten Moor_.
Their nine-pounders. The guns have already been hoisted up on deck and
made ready to bring ashore."

"There you have it, gentlemen," Briggs growled. "They'd try to lull us
with talk of negotiation, whilst they prepare to turn their ships' guns
against our citizens."

Bedford's eyes narrowed and he held up the letter. "Then what shall our
answer be? For my own part, I say if we want to stay our own masters,
we'll have to fight."

There were grave nods among the assembled men as Bedford turned to
Winston. "How does it stand with the militia?"

"I'd say we've got just about all the infantry and horse we're likely
to muster. I've gone ahead and issued what's left of the powder and
shot." He was still standing by the doorway. "We've got to move on out
tonight and deploy around their position with whatever men, horse, and
cannon we can manage, lest the weather change by morning and end our
mobility." He thumbed toward the east. "There're some dark clouds
moving in fast, and I don't care for the looks of them. There's some
wind out of the west, too, off the ocean. Though that may slow them
down a bit."

"What do you mean?" Briggs eyed him.

"It means the bay's doubtless picked up a little chop by now, so
Calvert and his officers may decide to wait till dawn to offload those
heavy guns. It could give us just enough time."

"Then I take it you'd have us move out now, in the dark?" Heathcott
nervously peered out the window, widening the half-open shutters.

"If we do, we've got a chance to deploy cannon on their perimeter, and
then hit them at dawn while they're still unprepared. Before they have
a chance to fortify their position with that ship ordnance. They'll
have the bay at their back and no heavy guns to speak of, save what's
in the breastwork."

"Then I formally move that we draft a reply to this letter and send it
over by one of our cavalry. Lest they mistake our resolve." Bedford's
voice was hard. "And then we let Captain Winston move on out with the
men."

"Aye, I second the motion." Heathcott scrambled to his feet, his eyes
ablaze. "Let's prepare a response right now and get on with it."

"It's done." Whittington turned to a plump Irish serving girt, who had
been standing agog in the kitchen doorway watching this meeting of the
Barbados Assembly in her master's parlor, and ordered quill and paper
to be brought from his study.

"Gentlemen." Bedford quieted the buzz in the room. "I propose we say
something along the lines of the following:



"I have read your letter and acquainted the Council and Assembly with
it, and now return their resolution to you, in which they do continue
with much wondering that what is rightfully theirs by law--being the
governing of this island as it presently is--should be denied them."



"Aye," Briggs inteijected. "And make mention of Anthony Walrond, if you
please. Lest he think we're not sensible that he's sold the island for
his personal gain."

"Patience, sir." Bedford gestured for quiet. "I would also add the
following:



"Neither hath the Treachery of one Man so far discouraged us, nor the
easiness of certain others being seduced by him so much weakened us, as
that We should accept a dishonorable Peace. And for the procuring of a
just Peace, none shall endeavor more than the lawful Assembly of
Barbados or

Your Servant,

Governor Dalby Bedford"



"Well phrased, as I'm a Christian." Whittington gravely nodded his
approval. "They can mull over it all night if they choose. But there'll
be no mistaking our resolve come the morrow."

Bedford called for a show of hands. Every man in the room signified
approval.

"Done." He quickly penned the letter, signed it with a flourish, and
passed it to Whittington. "Have one of your servants call in the
captain of the horse. We'll send this down to Oistins right now. He can
have his man take along the safe-conduct pass Calvert sent with his
letter."

While Whittington rang for the servants, Bedford motioned toward
Winston. "Now, Captain. You've got your approval to move the militia. I
propose we all move with it." He turned once more to the room. The men
were already stirring, donning bandoliers and sorting out their
muskets. "This meeting of the Barbados Assembly is hereby adjourned. It
may be the last we ever hold, if we don't succeed tomorrow. May God
preserve democracy in the Americas. Let's all say a prayer, gentlemen,
as we ride."

Winston turned without a word and led the way as the group of black-
hatted men moved out into the evening air. A crisp breeze had sprung up
from the east, providing a cooling respite from the heat of the day.
Horses neighed and pawed in the lantern light, while the night was
alive with the rattle of bandoliers. He strode to a circle of men
waiting by the cistern at the side of the house and called for the
officers. He was passing orders to mount and ride when a buzz of
confusion rose up from the direction of the Assemblymen emerging from
the house. There were murmurs and pointing.

"God's life, it's peculiar." Heathcott was gazing toward the north, in
the direction of the upland plantations. "I've never seen anything like
it."

Winston turned to look. Across the horizon a dull glow flickered out of
the dark. Before he had time to puzzle over what it might be, he heard
a chorus of shouts from the servants' quarters at the rear of the
house.

"Master Whittington! There's a fire in the southern sixty. In the
cane!"

"Damn me!" Whittington trotted past the side of the house to look. At
the base of the hill the red tongues of flame could be seen forking
upward in the dark. "I was fearful something just like this might
happen, what with all these careless militiamen idling about."

"The militia's not camped down there, sir." Briggs had moved alongside
him to look. Suddenly his eyes went wild. "God's blood! Is that another
fire we're seeing there in the north!"

        Whittington watched the whip of flames a moment longer, as
though disbelieving, and then his body seemed to come alive. "We've got
to get some of these men down there and dig a break in the cane fields.
Stop it before it reaches this house."

"I'm more worried about it reaching our heavy ordnance." Winston gazed
down the road toward the militia's encampment. "We've got to get our
men and gun carriages mobilized and out of here."

"I demand that some of these layabouts stay to try and save my cane."
Whittington pointed toward the crowd of militiamen at the foot of the
rise. "They're doubtless the one's responsible."

"That little cane fire will bum itself out soon enough." Winston raised
his hand. "We've got to move these men and supplies now. We can't wait
around fighting cane fires."

"Damn me. God damn me." Briggs' voice was shrill as he pushed his way
through the crowd toward Winston. "I'm beginning to think that glow we
see in the north might well be a blaze on some of _my _acres."

"Well, even if it is, there's not much we can do now."

"Damned if there's not." Briggs peered again at the horizon, then back
at Winston. "I've got to take my men over, as quick as we can ride.
Maybe we can still save it."

"You'll not have a single horse, or man." Winston raised his hand. "As
soon as I brief my field commanders, we're moving on Oistins. We have
to be in position, with our cannon, before dawn. If we don't attack
them before they've managed to offload the ordnance, we'll forfeit what
little chance we've got."

       "Are you mad, sir? We let these fires go unattended and we could
well lose everything." Briggs gazed around at the Assemblymen. "There's
the looks of a conspiracy in this. It's apt to be some sort of
uprising, of the indentures or maybe even these damned Africans. Which
means that we've got to protect our homes."

Winston watched in dismay as the assembled men began to grumble
uncertainly. Several were already calling for their horses. The night
took on an air of fear.

"Let me tell you this, gentlemen." Winston's voice sounded above the
din. "We've got but one chance to stop the invasion, and that's to move
our heavy guns and militia tonight. You have to decide whether you're
going to do it."

"Damn me, sir, it's a matter of priorities." Briggs' voice was almost a
shout. "If we're burned out, it'll take us years to rebuild. Reckoning
with Parliament would be nothing compared with the effects of a fire,
or a slave uprising. I'll wager there's some kind of island-wide
rebellion afoot, like we had a few years back." He was untying the
reins of his horse from the porch railing. "I'm riding home and taking
my indentures." He glared at Winston. "The few I've got left. I've got
a house and a sugar mill, and I intend to protect them."

"I need that horse." Winston stood unmoving. "Tonight."

"This nag belongs to me, sir." Briggs swung heavily into the saddle.
"You'll get her when I'm done, not a minute before."

Several of the other militiamen were nervously mounting, having
realized with alarm that their own plantation houses were unprotected.
Winston whirled on Bedford. "Can't we stop this? If every man here with
a house to worry about abandons us, I'll have nobody save my own men.
Am I expected to fight Walrond's regiment, and the Commonwealth, all by
myself?"

"I can't stop them." Bedford shook his head. "Maybe we can reassemble
in the morning, assuming this rebellion matter can be contained."

"But morning's going to be too late. By then the sea may let up, and
they'll have their heavy ordnance in place." Winston felt his gut
tighten as he watched the cavalry and militia begin to disperse into
the night. "They'll slice us to ribbons with cannon fire if we try to
storm their position then."

"This is not an army. It's a militia." Bedford sighed. "No man here can
be ordered to fight."

"Well, you've lost it. Before you even began." He gave the governor a
quick salute, then seized the reins of his gelding. The horse was still
lathered from the run back from Little Island to Bridgetown. "If it's
going to be every man for himself, I've got my own affairs to look to.
So damned to them. And to their sugar and slaves."

"Where are you going?" Bedford stared at him gloomily.

"If this war's as good as lost--which it is--then I've got to get the
_Defiance _afloat. As soon as I can." He vaulted into the saddle, and
gave his horse the spur. "The Americas just swapped liberty for sugar.
They can have it."



Chapter Sixteen


They had waited in the open field to watch as the moon broke above the
eastern horizon, sending faint pastel shimmers through the rows of
cane. The first shadow cast by the moon on this the fourth day of the
Yoruba week--the day sacred to Ogun--was the signal to begin.

"May Ogun be with you, son of Balogun."

 Tahajo, ancient and brittle as the stalks around them, bent over and
brushed Atiba's dusty feet. His voice could scarcely be heard above the
chorus of crickets. "Tonight, at the first coming of dark, when I could
no longer see the lines in the palm of my hand, I sacrificed a cock to
Ogun, as a prayer that you succeed."

Atiba looked at him with surprise, secretly annoyed that Tahajo had
performed the sacrifice without his knowledge. But the old man had the
prerogatives of an elder. "What did the sacrifice foretell?"

"I could not discern, Atiba, in truth I could not. The signs were
mixed. But they seemed to hold warning." Concern showed in his aged
eyes. "Know that if you do not succeed, there will be no refuge for any
of us. Remember what the elders of Ife once warned, when our young men
called for a campaign of war against the Fulani in the north. They
declared 'The locust can eat, the locust can drink, the locust can go--
but where can the grasshopper hide?' We are like grasshoppers, my son,
with no compounds or women to return to for shelter if we fail."

"We will not fail." Atiba held up his new machete. Its polished iron
glistened in the light of the moon. "Ogun will not turn his face from
us."

"Then I pray for you, Atiba." He sighed. "You are surely like the
pigeon who feeds among the hawks, fearless of death."

"Tonight, Tahajo, we are the hawks."

"A hawk has talons." The old man looked up at the moon. "What do you
have?"

"We will have the claws of a leopard, of steel, before the sun
returns." Atiba saluted him in traditional fashion, then turned to
Obewole. The tall drummer's arms were heavy with bundles of straw,
ready to be fired and hurled among the cane.

"Is everything prepared?"

"The straw is ready." Obewole glanced around at the expectant faces of
the men as he stepped forward. "As we are. You alone have the flint."

Atiba called for quiet. Next he intoned an invocation, a whisper under
his breath, then circled the men and cast a few drops of water from a
calabash toward the four corners of the world. "We will fire this field
first." He stood facing them, proud of the determination in their
faces. These men, he told himself, are among the finest warriors of
Ife. Tonight the _branco _will learn how a Yoruba fights for his
people. "The west wind is freshening now and it will carry the flames
to the other fields, those in the direction of the rising moon. Next we
will fire the curing house, where the _branco _keeps the sweet salt we
have made for him with our own hands. Then we will burn his mill house.
. . ."

Obewole cast a nervous glance at Atiba. "The mill house shelters the
great machine made of the sacred iron of Ogun.

Is it wisdom to bring Shango's fire to that place, sacred to Ogun?"

"You know, good Obewole, that in Ife we say, 'Do not expect to find a
man wearing white cloth in the compound of a palm-oil maker.'" Atiba's
face was expressionless. "Ogun's spirit is not in the mill house
tonight. He is here with us."

The drummer bowed in uncertain acknowledgement and turned to begin
distributing the straw bundles down the line of men. The young warrior
Derin was first, and he eagerly called for two. Atiba watched silently
till each man had a sheaf of straw, then he intoned one last prayer. As
the words died away into silence, he produced a flint and struck it
against the blade of his machete. A shower of sparks flew against the
bundle held by Obewole. After the brown stalks had smoldered into
flame, the drummer walked slowly down the line of men and, with a bow
to each, fired the rest.



Serina settled the candle carefully atop the iron frame supporting the
rollers, then stood for a moment studying the flickering shadows it
cast across the thatched ceiling of the mill house. From the gables
above her head came the chirp of crickets, mingled with the occasional
night murmurs of nesting birds.

The room exuded an eerie peacefulness; again it called to mind the
sanctuary of whitewash and frangipani scent that had been her home in
Pernambuco. Once before, the magic of this deserted mill house had
transported her back to that place of long ago, back to gentle
afternoons and soft voices and innocence. To the love of her Yoruba
mother Dara, and the kindliness of an old _babalawo _so much like
Atiba.

Shango's spirit had taken her home. He had come to this place that
night, and he had lifted her into his being and taken her back. And
here, for the first time, she had understood his awesome power. Shango.
The great, terrifying god of West Africa was now here in the Caribbees,
to guard his people. One day, she told herself, even the Christians
would be on their knees to him.

Carefully she unwrapped the wand--its wood carved with an African
woman's fertile shape, then topped with a double-headed axe--and placed
it beside the candle. Atiba had made it with his own hands, and he
always kept it hidden in his hut, as part of his _babalawo's _cache of
sacred implements.

The mill had not turned since the day the great ships of the Ingles
appeared in the bay, before the night of the storm. Traces of white
cassava flour were still mingled with the fine dust on the floor. The
place where Atiba had drawn Shango's sign was . . . she squinted in the
candlelight . . . was there, near the square comer of the iron frame.
Nothing remained now of the symbol save a scattering of pale powder.
But across the room, near the post by the doorway, lay the small bag of
cassava flour he had used. It must, she told herself, have been knocked
there during the ceremony.

Perhaps it was not empty.

Timorously she picked it up and probed inside. Some flour still
remained, dry and fine as coral dust. As she drew out a handful and let
it sift through her fingers, the idea came--almost as though Shango had
whispered it to her in the dark.

The drawing of the double-headed axe. Shango's sign. Had it somehow
summoned him that night? Beckoned him forth from the ancient
consciousness of Africa, to this puny room?

She stood for a moment and tried again to breathe a prayer. What
precisely had Atiba done? How had he drawn the symbol? Her legs
trembling, she knelt with a handful of the white powder and carefully
began laying down the first line.

It was not as straight as she had wished, nor was its width even, but
the flour flowed more readily than she had thought it might. The symbol
Atiba had drawn was still etched in her memory. It was simple,
powerful, it almost drew itself: the crossed lines, their ends joined,
formed two triangles meeting at a common point, and then down the
middle the bold stroke that was its handle. The drawing came into form
so readily she found herself thinking that Shango must be guiding her
hand, urging her on in this uncertain homage to his power.

She stood away and, taking the candle, studied the figure at her feet.
The white seemed to undulate in the flickering light. She held the
candle a moment longer, then reached out and placed it directly in the
center of the double axe-head.

Perhaps it was a gust of wind, but the wick suddenly flared brighter,
as though it now drew strength from the symbol it illuminated. The
mill, the walls of the room, all glowed in its warm, quivering flame.
Was it imagination or was the candle now giving off that same pale
radiance she remembered from languorous afternoons long ago in Brazil--
the half-light of mist and rainbows that bathed their courtyard in a
gossamer sheen when an afternoon storm swept overhead.

She backed away, uneasy and disturbed, groping blindly toward the mill
frame. When her touch caught the hard metal, she slipped her hand
across the top till her grasp closed on the wand. The stone axe at its
tip was strangely warm now, as though it had drawn heat from the iron.
Or perhaps it had been from the candle.

She clasped it against her shift, feeling its warmth flow into her.
First it filled her breasts with a sensation of whiteness, then it
passed downward till it mingled in her thighs. It was a sensation of
being fulfilled, brought to completeness, by some essence that flowed
out of Shango.

She glanced back at the flickering candle. Now it washed the drawing
with a glow of yellow and gold. The candle, too, seemed to be becoming
part of her. She wanted to draw its fiery tip into her body, to possess
it.

Sweat poured down her thighs; and in its warmth she felt the desire of
Shango. As she clasped the wand ever more tightly against her breasts,
she gasped, then shuddered. The white presence was entering her, taking
her body for its own. She sensed a heat in her eyes, as though they
might now bum through the dark.

A heaviness was growing in her legs, and she planted her feet wide
apart to receive and support the burden she felt swelling in her
breasts. The room was hot and cold and dark and light. She no longer
saw anything save whiteness. Then she plunged the wand skyward and
called out in a distant voice, resonant.

"_E wa nibi! SHANGO_!"

      *      *      *      *      *

The flames billowed along the edge of the field, and the crackling of
the cane swelled into a roar as a carpet of red crept up the hillside.
Clusters of gray rats scurried to escape, lending a chorus of high-
pitched shrieks to the din. As the night breeze quickened from the
west, it whipped the flames toward the dense, unharvested acres that
lay beyond.

Suddenly the urgent clanging of a bell sounded from the direction of
the main compound, and soon after, silhouettes appeared at the
perimeter of the indentures' quarters, the circle of thatched-roof huts
beside the pathway leading to the sugarworks. Figures of straw-hatted
women--the men were all gone away with the militia--stood out against
the moonlit sky is they watched in fearful silence. Never had a fire in
the fields erupted so suddenly.

_Now_! Atiba wanted to shout. _Join us_! Throw off your chains. Free
yourselves!

He had not been able to enlist their help sooner, for fear a traitor
among them might betray the revolt. But now, now they would see that
freedom was within their grasp. He tried to call to them. To beckon
them forward.

Give me the words, Mighty Ogun. Tell me the words that will make the
_branco_ slaves join us.

But the prayer passed unanswered. He watched in dismay as the women
began, one by one, to back away, to retreat toward their huts in awe
and dread.

Still, they had done nothing to try and halt the flames. So perhaps
there still was hope. If they were afraid to join the

rebellion, neither would they raise a hand to save the wealth of their
_branco _master.

Also, these were but women. Women did not fight. Women tended the
compounds of warriors. When the men returned, the rebellion would
begin. They would seize their chance to kill the _branco _master who
enslaved them. He signaled the other Yoruba, who moved on quickly
toward the curing house, where the pots of white sugar waited.

The sky had taken on a deep red glow, as the low-lying clouds racing
past reflected back the ochre hue of flames from fields in the south.
Across the island, the men of the Yoruba had honored their vows. They
had risen up.

Atiba noticed the savor of victory in his mouth, that hardening of
muscle when the foe is being driven before your sword, fleeing the
field. It was a strong taste, dry and cutting, a taste he had known
before. Something entered your blood at a moment like this, something
more powerful, more commanding, than your own self.

As they pushed through the low shrubs leading toward the sugarworks, he
raised his hand and absently touched the three clan marks down his
cheek, their shallow furrows reminding him once again of his people.
Tonight, he told himself, all the men of Ife would be proud.

"Atiba, son of Balogun, I must tell you my thoughts." Old Tahajo had
moved forward, ahead of the others. "I do not think it is good, this
thing you would have us do now."

"What do you mean?" Atiba eased his own pace slightly, as though to
signify deference.

"A Yoruba may set fires in the forest, to drive out a cowardly foe. It
is all part of war. But we do not fire his compounds, the compounds
that shelter his women."

"The curing house where sugar is kept is not the compound of the
_branco's _women." Atiba quickened his stride again, to reassert his
leadership, and to prevent the other men from hearing Tahajo's censure,
however misguided. "It's a part of his fields. Together they nourish
him, like palm oil and salt. Together they must be destroyed."

"But that is not warfare, Atiba. That is vengeance." The old man
persisted. "I have set a torch to the fields of an enemy--before you
were born the Fulani once forced such a course upon us, by breaking the
sacred truce during the harvest festival--but no Yoruba would
deliberately burn the seed yams in his enemy's barn."

"This barn does not hold his yams; it holds the fruits of our unjust
slavery. The two are not the same."

"Atiba, you are like that large rooster in my eldest wife's compound,
who would not suffer the smaller ones to crow. My words are no more
than summer wind to you." The old man sighed. "You would scorn the
justice Shango demands. This is a fearsome thing you would have us do
now."

"Then I will bear Shango's wrath on my own head. Ogun would have us do
this, and he is the god we honor tonight. It is our duty to him." He
moved on ahead, leaving Tahajo to follow in silence. The thatched roof
of the curing house was ahead in the dark, a jagged outline against the
rosy sky beyond.

Without pausing he opened the door and led the way. All the men knew
the room well; standing before them were long rows of wooden molds,
containers they had carried there themselves, while a _branco _overseer
with a whip stood by.

"These were placed here with our own hands. Those same hands will now
destroy them." He looked up. "What better justice could there be?" He
sparked the flint off his machete, against one of the straw bundles,
and watched the blaze a moment in silence. This flame, he told himself,
would exact the perfect revenge.

Revenge. The word had come, unbidden. Yes, truly it was

revenge. But this act was also justice. He recalled the proverb: "One
day's rain makes up for many days' drought." Tonight one torch would
make up for many weeks of whippings, starvation, humiliation.

"Mark me well." Atiba held the burning straw aloft and turned to
address the men. "These pots are the last sugar you will ever see on
this island. This, and the cane from which it was made, all will be
gone, never to return. The forests of the Orisa will thrive here once
more."

He held the flaming bundle above his head a moment longer, while he
intoned a verse in praise of Ogun, and then flung it against the
thatched wall behind him, where it splayed against a post and
disintegrated. They all watched as the dry-reed wall smoldered in the
half-darkness, then blossomed with small tongues of fire.

Quickly he led them out again, through the narrow doorway and into the
cool night. The west wind whipped the palm trees now, growing ever
fresher. Already the flame had scaled the reed walls of the curing
house, and now it burst through the thatched roof like the opening of a
lush tropical flower.

As they made ready to hurry on up the path toward the mill room, the
drum of hoofbeats sounded through the night. Next came frantic shouts
from the direction of the great house. It was the voice of Benjamin
Briggs.

Atiba motioned them into the shadows, where they watched in dismay as a
scattering of white indentures began lumbering down the hill, toting
buckets of water and shovels, headed for the burning fields.

The Yoruba men all turned to Atiba, disbelieving. The male _branco
_slaves had not risen up. They had come back to aid in the perpetuation
of their own servitude. As Atiba watched the fire brigade, he felt his
contempt rising, and his anger.

Could they not see that this was the moment?

But instead of turning their guns on their enemy, setting torch to his
house, declaring themselves free--the _branco _slaves had cravenly done
as Briggs commanded. They were no better than their women.

"The _branco _chief has returned to his compound. Like him, all the
_branco _masters on the island must now be trembling in fear." Atiba
felt his heart sink as he motioned the men forward. Finally he
understood the whites. Serina had been right. Color counted for more
than slavery. Now more than ever they needed the muskets from the ship.
"Quickly. We must burn the mill, then go and seize the guns. There's no
time to lose."

The mill house was only a short distance farther up the hill. They left
the path and moved urgently through the brush and palms toward the back
of the thatched building. It stood silent, waiting, a dark silhouette
against the glowing horizon.

"Atiba, there is no longer time for this." Obewole moved to the front
of the line and glanced nervously at the darkening skies. Heavy clouds
obscured the moon, and the wind had grown sharp. "We must hurry to the
ship as soon as we can and seize the _branco's _guns. This mill house
is a small matter; the guns are a heavy one. The others will be there
soon, waiting for us."

"No. This must burn too. We will melt forever the chains that enslave
us."

He pressed quickly up the slope toward the low thatched building. From
the center of the roof the high pole projected skyward, still scorched
where the lightning of Shango had touched it the night of the ceremony.

"Then hurry. The flint." Obewole held out the last bundle of straw
toward Atiba as they edged under the thatched eaves. "There's no time
to go in and pray here."

Atiba nodded and out of his hand a quick flash, like the pulse of a
Caribbean firefly, shot through the dark.



Shango was with her, part of her. As Serina dropped to her knees,
before the drawing of the axe, she no longer knew who she was, where
she was. Unnoticed, the dull glow from the open doorway grew brighter,
as the fires in the cane fields beyond raged.

"Shango, _nibo l'o nlo? _Shango?" She knelt mumbling, sweat soaking
through her shift. The words came over and over, almost like the
numbing cadence of the Christian rosary, blotting out all other sounds.

She had heard nothing--not the shouts at the main house nor the ringing
of the fire bell nor the dull roar of flames in the night air. But
then, finally, she did sense faint voices, in Yoruba, and she knew
Shango was there. But soon those voices were lost, blurred by the
distant chorus of crackling sounds that seemed to murmur back her own
whispered words.

The air around her had grown dense, suffocating. Dimly, painfully she
began to realize that the walls around her had turned to fire. She
watched, mesmerized, as small flame-tips danced in circles of red and
yellow and gold, then leapt and spun in pirouettes across the rafters
of the heavy thatched roof.

Shango had sent her a vision. It could not be real.

Then a patch of flame plummeted onto the floor beside her, and soon
chunks of burning straw were raining about her. Feebly, fear surging
through her now, she attempted to rise.

Her legs refused to move. She watched the flames in terror for a
moment, and then she remembered the wand, still in her outstretched
hand. Without thinking, she clasped it again to her pounding breast. As
the room disappeared in smoke, she called out the only word she still
remembered.

"Shango!"

The collapse of the burning thatched wall behind her masked the deep,
sonorous crack that sounded over the hillside.



"Damn me!" Benjamin Briggs dropped his wooden bucket and watched as the
dark cloudbank hovering in the west abruptly flared. Then a boom of
thunder shook the night sky. Its sound seemed to unleash a pent-up
torrent, as a dense sheet of island rain slammed against the hillside
around him with the force of a mallet.

The fires that blazed in the fields down the hill began to sputter into
boiling clouds of steam as they were swallowed

in wave after wave of the downpour. The night grew suddenly dark again,
save for the crisscross of lightning in the skies.

"For once, a rain when we needed it. It'll save the sugar, by my life."
He turned and yelled for the indentures to reclaim their weapons and
assemble. "Try and keep your matchcord dry." He watched with
satisfaction as the men, faces smeared with smoke, lined up in front of
him. "We've got to round up the Africans now, and try and find out
who's responsible for this. God is my witness, I may well hang a couple
this very night to make an example."

"I think I saw a crowd of them headed up toward the mill house, just
before the rain started in." The indenture's tanned face was emerging
as the rain purged away the soot. "Like as not, they were thinkin'
they'd fire that too."

"God damn them all. We lose the mill and we're ruined." He paused, then
his voice came as a yell. "God's blood! The curing house! Some of you
get over there quick. They might've tried to fire that as well. I've
got a fortune in white sugar curing out." He looked up and pointed at
two of the men, their straw hats dripping in the rain. "You, and you.
Move or I'll have your hide. See there's nothing amiss."

"Aye, Yor Worship." The men whirled and were gone.

"Now, lads." Briggs turned back to the others. A half dozen men were
left, all carrying ancient matchlock muskets. "Keep an eye on your
matchcord, and let's spread out and collect these savages." He quickly
checked the prime on his flintlock musket and cocked it. "We've got to
stop them before they try to burn the main house." He stared through
the rain, then headed up the hill, in the direction of the mill house.
"And stay close to me. They're rampaging like a pack of wild island
hogs."



Something was slapping at the smoldering straw in her hair and she felt
a hand caress her face, then an arm slide beneath her. The room, the
mill, all were swallowed in dark, blinding

smoke; now she was aware only of the heat and the closeness of the
powerful arms that lifted her off the flame-strewn floor.

Then there were other voices, faraway shouts, in the same musical
language that she heard whispered against her ear. The shouts seemed to
be directed at the man who held her, urging him to leave her, to come
with them, to escape while there was time. Yet still he held her, his
cheek close against her own.

Slowly Atiba rose, holding her body cradled against him, and pushed
through the smoke. The heat was drifting away now, and she felt the
gentle spatters of rain against her face as sections of the water-
soaked thatched roof collapsed around them, opening the room to the
sky.

The sound of distant gunfire cut through the night air as he pushed out
the doorway into the dark. She felt his body stiffen, painfully, as
though he had received the bullets in his own chest. But no, the firing
was down the hill, somewhere along the road leading to the coast.

The cold wetness of the rain, and the warmth of the body she knew so
well, awoke her as though from a dream. "You must go." She heard her
own voice. Why had he bothered to save her, instead of leading his own
men to safety. She was nothing now. The revolt had started; they must
fight or be killed. "Hurry. Before the _branco _come."

As she struggled to regain her feet, to urge him on to safety, she
found herself wanting to flee also. To be with him, in death as in
life. If he were gone, what would there be to live for. . .?

"We have failed." He was caressing her with his sad eyes. "Did you hear
the thunder? It was the voice of Shango." Now he looked away, and his
body seemed to wither from some grief deep within. "I somehow
displeased Shango. And now he has struck us down. Even Ogun is not
powerful enough to overcome the god who commands the skies."

"It was because I wanted to protect you."

He looked down at her quizzically. "I didn't know you were in the mill
house till I heard you call out Shango's name. Why were you there
tonight, alone?"

"I was praying." She avoided his dark eyes, wishing she could say more.
"Praying that you would stop, before it was too late. I knew you could
not succeed. I was afraid you would be killed."

He embraced her, then ran his wide hand through her wet, singed hair.
"Sometimes merely doing what must be done is its own victory. I'll not
live a slave. Never." He held her again, tenderly, then turned away.
"Remember always to live and die with honor. Let no man ever forget
what we tried to do here tonight."

He was moving down the hill now, his machete in his hand.

"No!" She was running after him, half-blinded by the rain. "Don't try
to fight any more. Leave. You can hide. We'll escape!"

"A Yoruba does not hide from his enemies. I will not dishonor the
compound of my father. I will stand and face the man who has wronged
me."

"No! Please!" She was reaching to pull him back when a voice came out
of the dark, from the pathway down below.

"Halt, by God!" It was Benjamin Briggs, squinting through the downpour.
"So it's you. I might have known. You were behind this, I'll stake my
life. Stop where you are, by Jesus, or I'll blow you to hell like the
other two savages who came at my men."

She found herself wondering if the musket would fire. The rain was
still a torrent. Then she felt Atiba's hand shove her aside and saw his
dark form hurtle down the trail toward the planter. Grasping his
machete, he moved almost as a cat: bobbing, weaving, surefooted and
deadly.

The rain was split by the crack of a musket discharge, and she saw him
slip momentarily and twist sideways. His machete clattered into the
dark as he struggled to regain his balance, but he had not slowed his
attack. When he reached Briggs, he easily ducked the swinging butt of
the musket. Then his left hand closed about the planter's throat and
together they went down in the mud, to the sound of Briggs' choked
yells.

When she reached them, they were sprawled in the gully beside the path,
now a muddy flood of water from the hill above. Atiba's right arm
dangled uselessly, but he held the planter pinned against the mud with
his knee, while his left hand closed against the throat. There were no
more yells, only deathly silence.

"No! Don't!" She was screaming, her arms around Atiba's neck as she
tried to pull him away.

He glanced up at her, dazed, and his grip on Briggs' throat loosened
slightly. The planter lay gasping and choking in the rain.

"Dara . . .!" Atiba was looking past her and yelling a warning when
the butt of the matchlock caught him across the chest. She fell with
him as three straw-hatted indentures swarmed over them both.

"By God, I'll hang the savage with my own hands." Briggs was still
gasping as he began to pull himself up out of the mud. He choked again
and turned to vomit; then he struggled to his feet. "Tie the whoreson
down. He's like a mad dog."

"He's been shot, Yor Worship." One of the indentures was studying the
blood on his hands, from where he had been holding Atiba's shoulder.
"Would you have us attend to this wound?"

"I shot the savage myself." Briggs glared at them. "No credit to the
lot of you. Then he well nigh strangled me. He's still strong as a
bull. Don't trouble with that shot wound. I'll not waste the swathing
cloth." He paused again to cough and rub his throat. "He's going to
have a noose around his neck as soon as the rain lets up."

Briggs walked over to where Atiba lay, his arms pinned against the
ground and a pike against his chest. "May God damn you, sir. I just
learned you managed to burn and ruin a good half the sugar in my curing
house." He choked again and spat into the rain. Then he turned back.
"Would you could understand what I'm saying, you savage. But mark this.
Every black on this island's going to know it when I have you hanged,
you can be sure. It'll put a stop to any more of these devilish plots,
as I'm a Christian."

Serina felt her eyes brimming with tears. In trying to save him, she
had brought about his death. But everything she had done had been out
of devotion. Would he ever understand that? Still, perhaps there was
time . . .

"Are you well, Master Briggs?" She turned to the planter. Her cinnamon
fingers stroked lightly along his throat.

"Aye. And I suppose there's some thanks for you in it." He looked at
her, puzzling at the wet, singed strands of hair across her face. "I
presume the savage was thinking to make off with you, to use you for
his carnal lusts, when I haply put a halt to the business."

"I have you to thank."

"Well, you were some help to me in the bargain, I'll own it. So there's
an end on the matter." He glanced at Atiba, then back at her. "See to
it these shiftless indentures tie him up like he was a bull. Wound or
no, he's still a threat to life. To yours as well as mine."

Even as he spoke, a dark shadow seemed to drop out of the rain. She
glanced up and just managed to recognize the form of Derin, his machete
poised above his head like a scythe. It flashed in the lantern light as
he brought it down against the arm of one of the indentures holding
Atiba. The straw-hatted man screamed and doubled over.

What happened next was blurred, shrouded in the dark. Atiba was on his
feet, flinging aside the other indentures. Then he seized his own
machete out of the mud with his left hand and turned on Briggs. But
before he could move, Derin jostled against him and grabbed his arm.
There were sharp words in Yoruba and Atiba paused, a frozen silhouette
poised above the planter.

"By Christ, I'll . . ." Briggs was drawing the long pistol from his
belt when Atiba suddenly turned away.

The gun came up and fired, but the two Yoruba warriors were already
gone, swallowed in the night.

"Well, go after them, God damn you." The planter was shouting at the
huddled, terrified indentures. "Not a man on this plantation is going
to sleep till both those heathens are hanged and quartered."

As the indentures gingerly started down the hill in the direction Atiba
and Derin had gone, Briggs turned and, still coughing, headed
purposefully up the pathway toward the remains of the mill room.

The burned-away roof had collapsed entirely, leaving the first sugar
mill on Barbados open to the rain--its wide copper rollers sparkling
like new.



Chapter Seventeen


"Heave, masters!" Winston was waist deep in the surf, throwing his
shoulder against the line attached to the bow of the _Defiance_. "The
sea's as high as it's likely to get. There'll never be a better time to
set her afloat."

Joan Fuller stood on deck, by the bulwark along the waist of the ship,
supporting herself with the mainmast shrouds as she peered down through
the rain. She held her bonnet in her hand, leaving her yellow hair
plastered across her face in water-soaked strands. At Winston's
request, she had brought down one of her last kegs of kill-devil. It
was waiting, safely lashed to the mainmast, a visible inducement to
effort.

"Heave . . . ho." The cadence sounded down the line of seamen as they
grunted and leaned into the chop, tugging on the slippery line.
Incoming waves washed over the men, leaving them alternately choking
and cursing, but the rise in sea level brought about by the storm meant
the _Defiance_ was already virtually afloat. Helped by the men it was
slowly disengaging from the sandy mud; with each wave the bow would bob
upward, then sink back a few inches farther into the bay.

"She's all but free, masters." Winston urged them on. "Heave. For your
lives, by God." He glanced back at John Mewes and yelled through the
rain, "How're the stores?"

Mewes spat out a mouthful of foam. "There's enough water and salt pork
in the hold to get us up to Nevis Island, mayhaps. If the damned fleet
doesn't blockade it first." He bobbed backward as a wave crashed
against his face. "There's talk the whoresons could sail north after
here."

"Aye, they may stand for Virginia when they've done with the Caribbees.
But they'll likely put in at St. Christopher and Nevis first, just to
make sure they humble every freeborn Englishman in the Americas."
Winston tugged again and watched the _Defiance_ slide another foot
seaward. "But with any luck we'll be north before them." He pointed
toward the dim mast lanterns of the English gunships offshore. "All we
have to do is slip past those frigates across the bay."

The men heaved once more and the weathered bow dipped sideways. Then
all at once, as though by the hand of nature, the _Defiance _was
suddenly drifting in the surf. A cheer rose up, and Winston pushed his
way within reach of the rope ladder dangling amidships. As he clambered
over the bulwark Joan was waiting with congratulations.

"You did it. On my honor, I thought this rotted-out tub was beached for
keeps." She bussed him on the cheek. "Though I fancy you might've lived
longer if it'd stayed where it was."

Mewes pulled himself over the railing after Winston and plopped his
feet down onto the wet deck. He winked at Joan and held out his arms.
"No kiss for the quartermaster, yor ladyship? I was workin' too, by my
life."

"Get on with you, you tub of lard." She swiped at him with the
waterlogged bonnet she held. "You and the rest of this crew of
layabouts might get a tot of kill-devil if you're lucky. Which is more
than you deserve, considering how much some of you owe me already."

"Try heaving her out a little farther, masters." Winston was holding
the whipstaff while he yelled from the quarterdeck. "She's coming about
now. We'll drop anchor in a couple of fathoms, nothing more."

While the hull drifted out into the night and surf, Winston watched
John Mewes kneel by the bulwark at the waist of the ship and begin to
take soundings with a length of knotted rope.

"Two fathoms, Cap'n, by the looks of it. What do you think?"

"That's enough to drop anchor, John. I want to keep her in close. No
sense alerting the Roundheads we're afloat."

Mewes shouted toward the portside bow and a seaman began to feed out
the anchor cable. Winston watched as it rattled into the surf, then he
made his way along the rainswept deck back to the starboard gallery at
the stern and shoved another large anchor over the side. It splashed
into the waves and disappeared, its cable whipping against the
taffrail.

"That ought to keep her from drifting. There may be some maintopman out
there in the fleet who'd take notice."

Whereas fully half the Commonwealth's ships had sailed for Oistins Bay
to assist in the invasion, a few of the larger frigates had kept to
station, their ordnance trained on the harbor.

"All aboard, masters. There's a tot of kill-devil waiting for every
man, down by the mainmast." Winston was calling over the railing,
toward the seamen now paddling through the dark along the side of the
ship. "John's taking care of it. Any man who's thirsty, come topside.
We'll christen the launch."

The seamen sounded their approval and began to scramble up. Many did
not wait their turn to use the rope ladders. Instead they seized the
rusty deadeyes that held the shrouds, found toeholds in the closed
gunports, and pulled themselves up within reach of the gunwales.
Winston watched approvingly as the shirtless hoard came swarming onto
the deck with menacing ease. These were still his lads, he told himself
with a smile. They could storm and seize a ship before most of its crew
managed even to cock a musket. Good men to have on hand, given what lay
ahead.

"When're you thinkin' you'll try for open sea?" Joan had

followed him up the slippery companionway to the quarterdeck. "There's
a good half-dozen frigates hove-to out there, doubtless all with their
bleedin' guns run out and primed. I'll wager they'd like nothing better
than catchin' you to leeward."

"This squall's likely to blow out in a day or so, and when it does,
we're going to pick a dark night, weigh anchor, and make a run for it.
By then the Roundheads will probably be moving on Bridgetown, so we
won't have a lot of time to dally about." He looked out toward the
lights of the English fleet. "I'd almost as soon give it a try tonight.
Damn this foul weather."

She studied the bobbing pinpoints at the horizon skeptically. "Do you
really think you can get past them?"

He smiled. "Care to wager on it? I've had a special set of short sails
made up, and if it's dark enough, I think we can probably slip right
through. Otherwise, we'll just run out the guns and take them on."

Joan looked back. "You could be leaving just in time, I'll grant you.
There're apt to be dark days ahead here. What do you think'll happen
with this militia now?"

"Barbados' heroic freedom fighters? I'd say they'll be disarmed and
sent packing. Back to the cane and tobacco fields where they'd probably
just as soon be anyway. The grand American revolution is finished.
Tonight, when the militia should be moving everything they've got up to
Oistins, they're off worrying about cane fires, letting the Roundheads
get set to offload their heavy guns. By the time the rains let up and
there can be a real engagement, the English infantry'll have ordnance
in place and there'll be nothing to meet them with. They can't be
repulsed. It's over." He looked at her. "So the only thing left for me
is to get out of here while I still can. And stand for Jamaica."

"That daft scheme!" She laughed ruefully and brushed the dripping hair
from her face. "You'd be better off going up to

Bermuda for a while, or anywhere, till things cool off. You've not got
the men to do anything else."

"Maybe I can still collect a few of my indentures."

"And maybe you'll see Puritans dancin' at a Papist wedding." She
scoffed. "Let me tell you something. Those indentures are going to
scatter like a flock of hens the minute the militia's disbanded.
They'll not risk their skin goin' off with you to storm that fortress
over at Villa de la Vega. If you know what's good for you, you'll
forget Jamaica."

"Don't count me out yet. There's still another way to get the men I
need." He walked to the railing and gazed out into the rain. "I've been
thinking I might try getting some help another place."

"And where, pray, could that be?"

"You're not going to think much of what I have in mind." He caught her
eye and realized she'd already guessed his plan.

"That's a fool's errand for sure."

"Kindly don't go prating it about. The truth is, I'm not sure yet what
I'll do. Who's to say?"

"You're a lying rogue, Hugh Winston. You've already made up your mind.
But if you're not careful, you'll be in a worse bind than this. . . ."

"Beggin' yor pardon, Cap'n, it looks as if we've got a visitor." Mewes
was moving up the dark companionway to the quarterdeck. He spat into
the rain, then cast an uncomfortable glance toward Joan. "Mayhaps you'd
best come down and handle the orders."

Winston turned and followed him onto the main deck. Through the dark a
white horse could be seen prancing in the gusts of rain along the
shore. A woman was in the saddle, waving silently at the ship,
oblivious to the squall.

"Aye, permission to come aboard. Get her the longboat, John." He
thumbed at the small pinnace dangling from the side of the ship. "Just
don't light a lantern."

Mewes laughed. "I'd give a hundred sovereigns to the man who could
spark up a candle lantern in this weather!"

Winston looked up to see Joan slowly descending the companionway from
the quarterdeck. They watched in silence as the longboat was lowered
and oarsmen began rowing it the few yards to shore.

"Well, this is quite a sight, if I may say." Her voice was contemptuous
as she broke the silence. Suddenly she began to brush at her hair,
attempting to straighten out the tangles. "I've never known 'her
ladyship' to venture out on a night like this. . . ." She turned and
glared at Winston. "Though I've heard talk she managed to get herself
aboard the _Defiance _once before in a storm."

"You've got big ears."

"Enough to keep track of your follies. Do you suppose your lads don't
take occasion to talk when they've a bit of kill-devil in their
bellies? You should be more discreet, or else pay them better."

"I pay them more than they're worth now."

"Well, they were most admirin' of your little conquest. Or was the
conquest hers?"

"Joan, why don't you just let it rest?" He moved to the railing at
midships and reached down to help Katherine up the rope ladder. "What's
happened? This is the very devil of a night. . . ."

"Hugh . . ." She was about to throw her arms around him when she
noticed Joan. She stopped dead still, then turned and nodded with cold
formality. "Your servant . . . madam."

"Your ladyship's most obedient . . ." Joan curtsied back with a
cordiality hewn from ice.

They examined each other a moment in silence. Then Katherine seemed to
dismiss her as she turned back to Winston.

"Please. Won't you come back and help? just for tonight?"

He reached for her hand and felt it trembling. "Help you? What do you
mean?" His voice quickened. "Don't tell me the Roundheads have already
started marching on Bridgetown."

"Not that we know of. But now that the rain's put out the cane fires, a
few of the militia have started regrouping. With their horses." She
squeezed his hand in her own. "Maybe we could still try an attack on
the Oistins breastwork at dawn."

"You don't have a chance. Now that the rains have begun, you can't move
up any cannon. The roads are like rivers. But they've got heavy
ordnance. The Roundheads have doubtless got those cannons in the
breastwork turned around now and covering the road. If we'd have
marched last evening, we could've moved up some guns of our own, and
then hit them at first light. Before they expected an attack. But now
it's too late." He examined her sadly. Her face was drawn and her hair
was plastered against her cheeks. "It's over, Katy. Barbados is lost."

"But you said you'd fight, even if you had nobody but your own men."

"Briggs and the rest of them managed to change my mind for me. Why
should I risk anything? They won't."

She stood unmoving, still grasping his hand. "Then you're really
leaving?"

"I am." He looked at her. "I still wish you'd decide to go with me. God
knows . . ."

Suddenly she pulled down his face and kissed him on the lips, lingering
as the taste of rain flooded her mouth. Finally she pulled away. "I
can't think now. At least about that. But for God's sake please help us
tonight. Let us use those flintlocks you've got here on the ship.
They're dry. The Roundhead infantry probably has mostly matchlocks, and
they'll be wet. With your muskets maybe we can make up for the
difference in our numbers."

He examined her skeptically. "Just exactly whose idea is this, Katy?"

"Who do you suppose? Nobody else knows you've got them."

"Anthony Walrond knows." Winston laughed. "I'll say one thing. It would
be perfect justice."

"Then use them to arm our militia. With your guns, maybe--"

"I'll be needing those flintlocks where I'm going."

Joan pushed forward with a scowl. "Give me leave to put you in mind,
madam, that those muskets belong to Hugh. Not to the worthless militia
on this island." She turned on Winston. "Don't be daft. You give those
new flintlocks over to the militia and you'll never see half of them
again. You know that as well as I do."

He stood studying the locked fo'c'sle in silence. "I'll grant you that.
I'd be a perfect fool to let the militia get hold of them."

"Hugh, what happened to all your talk of honor?" Katherine drew back.
"I thought you were going to fight to the last."

"I told you . . ." He paused as he gazed into the rain for a long
moment. Finally he looked back. "I'd say there is one small chance
left. If we went in with a few men, before it gets light, maybe we
could spike the cannon in the breastwork. Then at least it would be an
even battle."

"Would you try it?"

He took her hand, ignoring Joan's withering glare. "Maybe I do owe
Anthony Walrond a little farewell party. In appreciation for his
selling this island, and me with it, to the God damned Roundheads."

"Then you'll come?"

"How about this? If I can manage to get some of my lads over to Oistins
before daybreak, we might try paying them a little surprise." He
grinned. "It would be good practice for Jamaica."

"Then stay and help us fight. How can we just give up, when there's
still a chance? They can't keep up their blockade forever. Then we'll
be done with England, have a free nation here. . . ."

He shook his head in resignation, then turned up his face to feel the
rain. He stood for a time, the two women watching him as the downpour
washed across his cheeks. "There's no freedom on this island anymore.
There may never be again. But maybe I do owe Anthony Walrond and his
Windwards a lesson in honor." He looked back. "All right. But go back
up to the compound. You'd best stay clear of this."

Before she could respond, he turned and signaled toward Mewes.

"John. Unlock the muskets and call all hands on deck."



Dalby Bedford was standing in the doorway of the makeshift tent,
peering into the dark. He spotted Winston, trailed by a crowd of
shirtless seamen walking up the road between the rows of rain-whipped
palms.

"God's life. Is that who it looks to be?"

"What the plague! The knave had the brass to come back?" Colonel George
Heathcott pushed his way through the milling crowd of militia officers
and moved alongside Bedford to stare. "As though we hadn't enough
confusion already."

The governor's plumed hat and doublet were soaked. While the storm had
swept the island, he had taken command of the militia, keeping together
a remnant of men and officers. But now, only two hours before dawn, the
squall still showed no signs of abating. Even with the men who had
returned, the ranks of the militia had been diminished to a fraction of
its former strength--since many planters were still hunting down
runaways, or had barricaded themselves and their families in their
homes for safety. Several plantation houses along the west coast had
been burned, and through the rain random gunfire could still be heard
as slaves were being pursued. Though the rebellion had been routed, a
few pockets of Africans, armed with machetes, remained at large.

The recapture of the slaves was now merely a matter of time. But that
very time, Bedford realized, might represent the difference between
victory and defeat.

"Those men with him are all carrying something." Heathcott squinted
through the rain at the line of men trailing after Winston. "By God,
I'd venture those could be muskets. Maybe he's managed to locate a few
more matchlocks for us." He heaved a deep breath. "Though they'll be
damned useless in this rain."

"Your servant, Captain." Bedford bowed lightly as Winston ducked under
the raised flap at the entrance of the lean-to shelter. "Here to join
us?"

"I thought we might come back over for a while." He glanced around at
the scattering of officers in the tent. "Who wants to help me go down
to the breastwork and see if we can spike whatever guns they've got? If
we did that, maybe you could muster enough men to try storming the
place when it gets light."

"You're apt to be met by five hundred men with pikes, sir, and Anthony
Walrond at their head." Heathcott's voice was filled with dismay.
"Three or four for every one we've got. We don't have the men to take
and hold that breastwork now, not till some more of the militia get
back."

"If those guns aren't spiked by dawn, you'd as well just go ahead and
surrender and have done with it." He looked around the tent. "Mind if I
let the boys come in out of the rain to prime their muskets?"

"Muskets?" Heathcott examined him. "You'll not be using matchlocks, not
in this weather. I doubt a man could keep his matchcord lit long enough
to take aim."

"I sure as hell don't plan to try taking the breastwork with nothing
but pikes." Winston turned and gestured for the men to enter the tent.
Dick Hawkins led the way, unshaven, shirtless, and carrying two
oilcloth bundles. After him came Edwin Spurre, cursing the rain as he
set down two bundles of his own. Over a dozen other seamen followed.

"This tent is for the command, sir." Heathcott advanced on Winston. "I
don't know what authority you think you have to start bringing in your
men."

"We can't prime muskets in the rain."

"Sir, you're no longer in charge here, and we've all had quite

 . . ." His glance fell on the bundle Spurre was unwrapping. The candle
lantern cast a golden glow over a shiny new flintlock. The barrel was
damascened in gold, and the stock was fine Italian walnut inlaid with
mother of pearl. Both the serpentine cock and the heel plate on the
stock were engraved and gilt. "Good God, where did that piece come
from?"

"From my personal arsenal." Winston watched as Spurre slipped out the
ramrod and began loading and priming the flintlock. Then he continued,
"These muskets don't belong to your militia. They're just for my own
men, here tonight."

"If you can keep them dry," Heathcott's voice quickened, "maybe you
could . . ."

"They should be good for at least one round, before the lock gets
damp." Winston turned to Heathcott. "They won't be expecting us now. So
if your men can help us hold the breastwork while we spike those
cannon, we might just manage it."

"And these guns?" Heathcott was still admiring the muskets.

"We won't use them any more than we have to." Winston walked down the
line of officers. "There's apt to be some hand-to-hand fighting if
their infantry gets wind of what's afoot and tries to rush the
emplacement while we're still up there. How many of your militiamen
have the stomach for that kind of assignment?"

The tent fell silent save for the drumbeat of rain. The officers all
knew that to move on the breastwork now would be the ultimate test of
their will to win. The question on every man's mind was whether their
militia still possessed that will. But the alternative was most likely
a brief and ignominious defeat on the field, followed by unconditional
surrender.

They gathered in a huddle at the rear of the tent, a cluster of black
hats, while Winston's men continued priming the guns. "Damn'd well-made
piece, this one." Edwin Spurre was admiring the gilded trigger of his
musket. "I hope she shoots as fine as she feels." He looked up at
Winston. "I think we can keep the powder pan dry enough if we take
care. They've all got a cover that's been specially fitted."

Winston laughed. "Only the best for Sir Anthony. Let's make sure he
finds out how much we appreciate the gun-1 smithing he paid for."

"It's a risk, sir. Damned if it's not." Heathcott broke from the huddle
and approached Winston. "But with these flintlocks we might have an
advantage. They'll not be expecting us now. Maybe we can find some men
to back you up."

"We could use the help. But I only want volunteers." Winston surveyed
the tent. "And they can't be a lot of untested farmers who'll panic and
run if the Roundheads try and make a charge."

"Well and good." Bedford nodded, then turned to Heathcott. "I'll be the
first volunteer. We're running out of time."

Winston reached for a musket. "Then let's get on with it."

      *      *      *      *      *

Rain now, all about them, engulfing them, the dense Caribbean torrent
that erases the edge between earth, sky, and sea. Winston felt as
though they were swimming in it, the gusts wet against his face,
soaking through his leather jerkin, awash in his boots. The earth
seemed caught in a vast ephemeral river which oscillated like a
pendulum between ocean and sky. In the Caribbees this water from the
skies was different from anywhere else he had ever known. The heavens,
like a brooding deity, first scorched the islands with a white-hot sun,
then purged the heat with warm, remorseless tears.

Why had he come back to Oistins? To chance his life once

more in the service of liberty? The very thought brought a wry smile.
He now realized there would never be liberty in this slave-owning
corner of the Americas. Too much wealth was at stake for England to let
go of this shiny new coin in Cromwell's exchequer. The Puritans who
ruled England would keep Barbados at any cost, and they would see to it
that slavery stayed.

No. Coming back now was a personal point. Principle. If you'd go back
on your word, there was little else you wouldn't scruple to do as well.

Maybe freedom didn't have a chance here, but you fought the fight you
were given. You didn't betray your cause, the way Anthony Walrond had.

"There look to be lighted linstocks up there, Cap'n. They're ready."
Edwin Spurre nodded toward the tall outline of the breastwork up ahead.
It was a heavy brick fortification designed to protect the gun
emplacements against cannon fire from the sea. The flicker of lantern
light revealed that the cannon had been rolled around, directed back
toward the roadway, in open view.

"We've got to see those linstocks are never used." He paused and
motioned for the men to circle around him. Their flintlocks were still
swathed in oilcloth. "We need to give them a little surprise, masters.
So hold your fire as long as you can. Anyway, we're apt to need every
musket if the Windwards realize we're there and try to counterattack."

"Do you really think we can get up there, Cap'n?" Dick Hawkins
carefully set down a large brown sack holding spikes, hammers, and
grapples--the last used for boarding vessels at sea. "It's damned
high."

"We're going to have to circle around and try taking it from the sea
side, which is even higher. But that way they won't see us. Also, we
can't have bandoliers rattling, so we've got to leave them here. Just
take a couple of charge-holders in each pocket. There'll not be time
for more anyway." He turned and examined the heavy brick of the
breastwork. "Now look lively. Before they spot us."

Hawkins silently began lifting out the grapples--heavy barbed hooks
that had been swathed with sailcloth so they would land soundlessly,
each with fifty feet of line. Winston picked one up and checked the
wrapping on the prongs. Would it catch and hold? Maybe between the
raised battlements.

He watched as Hawkins passed the other grapples among the men, eighteen
of them all together. Then they moved on through the night, circling
around toward the seaward wall of the fortification.

Behind them the first contingent of volunteers from the Barbados
militia waited in the shadows. As soon as the gunners were overpowered
by Winston's men, they would advance and help hold the breastwork while
the guns were being spiked.

In the rainy dark neither Winston nor his Seamen noticed the small band
of men, skin black as the night, who now edged forward silently through
the shadows behind them.

They had arrived at the _Defiance _earlier that evening, only to
discover it afloat, several yards at sea. Then they had watched in
dismay as Winston led a band of seamen ashore in longboats, carrying
the very muskets they had come to procure. Could it be the guns were
already primed and ready to fire?

Prudently Atiba had insisted they hold back. They had followed through
the rain, biding their time all the five-mile trek to Oistins. Then
they had waited patiently while Winston held council with the _branco
_chiefs. Finally they had seen the muskets being primed . . . which
meant they could have been safely seized all along!

But now time was running out. How to take the guns? It must be done
quickly, while there still was dark to cover their escape into hiding.
Atiba watched as Winston and the men quietly positioned themselves
along the seaward side of the breastwork and began uncoiling the lines
of their grapples. Suddenly he sensed what was to happen next.

Perhaps now there was a way to get the guns after all. . . .

"Wait. And be ready." He motioned the men back into the shadows of a
palm grove. Then he darted through the rain.

Winston was circling the first grapple above his head, intended for the
copestone along the top of the breastwork, when he heard a quiet
Portuguese whisper at his ear.

"You will not succeed, senhor. The Ingles will hear your hooks when
they strike against the stone."

"What the pox!" He whirled to see a tall black man standing behind him,
a machete in his hand.

"A life for a life, senhor. Was that not what you said?" Atiba glanced
around him. The seamen stared in wordless astonishment. "Do you wish to
seize the great guns atop this fortress? Then let my men do it for you.
This is best done the Yoruba way."

"Where the hell did you come from?" Winston's whisper was almost
drowned in the rain.

"From out of the dark. Remember, my skin is black. Sometimes that is an
advantage, even on an island owned by the white Ingles."

"Briggs will kill you if he catches you here."

Atiba laughed. "I could have killed him tonight, but I chose to wait. I
want to do it the Ingles way. With a musket." He slipped the machete
into his waistwrap. "I have come to make a trade."

"What do you mean?"

"Look around you." Atiba turned and gestured. Out of the palms emerged
a menacing line of black men, all carrying cane machetes. "My men are
here. We could kill all of you now, senhor, and simply take your
muskets. But you once treated me as a brother, so I will barter with
you fairly, as though today were market day in Ife. I and my men will
seize this branco fortress and make it an offering of friendship to
you--rather than watch you be killed trying to take it yourself--in
trade for these guns." He smiled grimly. "A life for a life, do you
recall?"

"The revolt you started is as good as finished, just like I warned you
would happen." Winston peered through the rain. "You won't be needing
any muskets now."

"Perhaps it is over. But we will not die as slaves. We will die as
Yoruba. And many branco will die with us."

"Not with my flintlocks, they won't." Winston examined him and noticed
a dark stain of blood down his shoulder.

Atiba drew out his machete again and motioned the other men forward.
"Then see what happens when we use these instead." He turned the
machete in his hand. "It may change your mind."

Before Winston could reply, he turned and whispered a few brisk phrases
to the waiting men. They slipped their machetes into their waistwraps
and in an instant were against the breastwork, scaling it.

As the seamen watched in disbelief, a host of dark figures moved
surely, silently up the sloping stone wall of the breastwork. Their
fingers and toes caught the crevices and joints in the stone with
catlike agility as they moved toward the top.

"God's blood, Cap'n, what in hell's this about?" Dick Hawkins moved
next to Winston, still holding a grapple and line. "Are these savages .
. .?"

"I'm damned if I know for sure. But I don't like it." His eyes were
riveted on the line of black figures now blended against the stone of
the breastwork. They had merged with the rain, all but invisible.

In what seemed only moments, Atiba had reached the parapet along the
top of the breastwork, followed by his men. For an instant Winston
caught the glint of machetes, reflecting the glow of the lighted
linstocks, and then nothing.

"By God, no. There'll be no unnecessary killing." He flung his grapple
upward, then gestured at the men. "Let's go topside, quick!"

The light clank of the grapple against the parapet was lost in the
strangled cries of surprise from atop the breastwork. Then a few muted
screams drifted down through the rain. The sounds died away almost as
soon as they had begun, leaving only the gentle pounding of rain.

"It is yours, senhor." The Portuguese words came down as Atiba looked
back over the side. "But come quickly. One of them escaped us. I fear
he will sound a warning. There will surely be more _branco_, soon."

"Damn your eyes." Winston seized the line of his grapple, tested it,
and began pulling himself up the face of the stone wall. There was the
clank of grapples as the other men followed.

The scene atop the breastwork momentarily took his breath away. All the
infantrymen on gunnery duty had had their throats cut, their bodies now
sprawled haphazardly across the stonework. One gunner was even slumped
across the breech of a demi-culverin, still clasping one of the lighted
linstocks, its oil-soaked tip smoldering inconclusively in the rain.
The Yoruba warriors stood among them, wiping blood from their machetes.

"Good Christ!" Winston exploded and turned on Atiba. "There was no need
to kill all these men. You just had to disarm them."

"It is better." Atiba met his gaze. "They were _branco _warriors. Is it
not a warrior's duty to be ready to die?"

"You bloodthirsty savage."

Atiba smiled. "So tell me, what are these great Ingles guns sitting all
around us here meant to do? Save lives? Or kill men by the hundreds,
men whose face you never have to see? My people do not make these. So
who is the savage, my Ingles friend?"

"Damn you, there are rules of war."

"Ah yes. You are civilized." He slipped the machete into his waistwrap.
"Someday you must explain to me these rules you have for civilized
killing. Perhaps they are something like the 'rules' your Christians
have devised to justify making my people slaves."

Winston looked at him a moment longer, then at the bodies lying around
them. There was nothing to be done now. Best to get on with disabling
the guns. "Dick, haul up that sack with the spikes and let's make quick
work of this."

"Aye." Hawkins seized the line attached to his waist and walked to the
edge of the parapet. At the other end, resting in the mud below, was
the brown canvas bag containing the hammers and the spikes.

Moments later the air rang with the sound of metal against metal, as
the seamen began hammering small, nail-like spikes into the touch-holes
of each cannon. That was the signal for the Barbados militiamen to
advance from the landward side of the breastwork, to provide defensive
cover.

"A life for a life, senhor." Atiba moved next to Winston. "We served
you. Now it is time for your part of the trade."

"You're not getting any of my flintlocks, if that's what you mean."

"Don't make us take them." Atiba dropped his hand to the handle of his
machete.

"And don't make my boys show you how they can use them." Winston stood
unmoving. "There's been killing enough here tonight."

"So you are not, after all, a man who keeps his word. You are merely
another _branco_." He slowly began to draw the machete from his belt.

"I gave you no 'word.' And I wouldn't advise that . . ." Winston pushed
back the side of his wet jerkin, clearing the pistols in his belt.

Out of the dark rain a line of Barbados planters carrying homemade
pikes came clambering up the stone steps. Colonel Heathcott was in the
lead. "Good job, Captain, by my life." He beamed from under his gray
hat. "We heard nary a peep. But you were too damned quick by half.
Bedford's just getting the next lot of militia together now. He'll need
. . ."

As he topped the last step, he stumbled over the fallen body of a
Commonwealth infantryman. A tin helmet clattered across the stonework.

"God's blood! What . . ." He peered through the half-light at the other
bodies littering the platform, then glared at Winston. "You massacred
the lads!"

"We had some help."

Heathcott stared past Winston, noticed Atiba, and stopped stone still.
Then he glanced around and saw the cluster of Africans standing against
the parapet, still holding machetes.

"Good God." He took a step backward and motioned toward his men. "Form
ranks. There're runaways up here. And they're armed."

"Careful . . ." Before Winston could finish, he heard a command in
Yoruba and saw Atiba start forward with his machete.

"No, by God!" Winston shouted in Portuguese. Before Atiba could move,
he was holding a cocked pistol against the Yoruba's cheek. "I said
there's been enough bloodshed. Don't make me kill you to prove it."

In the silence that followed there came a series of flashes from the
dark down the shore, followed by dull pops. Two of the planters at the
top of the stone steps groaned, twisted, and slumped against the
stonework with bleeding flesh wounds. Then a second firing order
sounded through the rain. It carried the unmistakable authority of
Anthony Walrond.

"On the double, masters. The fireworks are set to begin." Winston
turned and shouted toward the seamen, still hammering in the spikes.
"Spurre, get those flintlocks unwrapped and ready. It looks like
Walrond has a few dry muskets of his own."

"Aye, Cap'n." He signaled the seamen who had finished

their assigned tasks to join him, and together they took cover against
the low parapet on the landward side of the breastwork. Heathcott and
the planters, pikes at the ready, nervously moved behind them.

Winston felt a movement and turned to see Atiba twist away. He stepped
aside just in time to avoid the lunge of his machete--then brought the
barrel of the pistol down hard against the side of his skull. The
Yoruba groaned and staggered back against the cannon nearest them. As
he struggled to regain his balance, he knocked aside the body of the
Commonwealth infantryman who lay sprawled across its barrel, the
smoldering linstock still in his dead grasp. The man slid slowly down
the wet side of the culverin, toward the breech. Finally he tumbled
forward onto the stonework, releasing his grasp on the handle of the
lighted linstock.

Later Winston remembered watching in paralyzed horror as the linstock
clattered against the breech of the culverin, scattering sparks. The
oil-soaked rag that had been its tip seemed to disintegrate as the
handle slammed against the iron, and a fragment of burning rag
fluttered against the shielded touch hole.

A flash shattered the night, as a tongue of flame torched upward. For a
moment it illuminated the breastwork like midday.

In the stunned silence that followed there were yells of surprise from
the far distance, in the direction of the English camp. No one had
expected a cannon shot. Moments later, several rounds of musket fire
erupted from the roadway below. The approaching Barbados militiamen had
assumed they were being fired on from the breastwork. But now they had
revealed their position. Almost immediately their fire was returned by
the advance party of the Windward Regiment.

Suddenly one of the Yoruba waiting at the back of the breastwork
shouted incomprehensibly, broke from the group, and began clambering
over the parapet. There were more yells, and in moments the others were
following him. Atiba, who had been knocked sprawling by the cannon's
explosion, called for them to stay, but they seemed not to hear. In
seconds they had vanished over the parapet and into the night.

"You betrayed us, senhor." He looked up at Winston. "You will pay for
it with your life."

"Not tonight I won't." Winston was still holding the pistol, praying it
was not too wet to fire.

"Not tonight. But soon." He shoved the machete unsteadily into his
waistwrap. Winston noticed that he had difficulty rising, but he
managed to pull himself up weakly. Then his strength appeared to
revive. "Our war is not over." Amid the gunfire and confusion, he
turned and slipped down the landward side of the breastwork. Winston
watched as he disappeared into the rain.

"How many more left to spike, masters?" He yelled back toward the men
with the hammers. As he spoke, more musket fire sounded from the plain
below.

"We've got all but two, Cap'n." Hawkins shouted back through the rain.
"These damned little demi-culverin. Our spikes are too big."

"Then the hell with them. We've done what we came to do." He motioned
toward Heathcott. "Let's call it a night and make a run for it. Now."

"Fine job, I must say." Heathcott was smiling broadly as he motioned
the cringing planters away from the wall. "We'll hold them yet."

While the seamen opened sporadic covering fire with their flintlocks,
the militia began scrambling down the wet steps. When the column of
Walrond's Windward Regiment now marching up from the seaside realized
they were armed, it immediately broke ranks and scattered for cover. In
moments Winston and Heathcott were leading their own men safely up the
road toward the camp. They met the remainder of the Barbados militia
midway, a bedraggled cluster in the downpour.

"You can turn back now, sirs." Heathcott saluted the lead

officer, who was kneeling over a form fallen in the sand. "You gave us
good cover when we needed you, but now it's done. The ordnance is
spiked. At sunup we'll drive the Roundheads back into the sea."

"Good Christ." The officer's voice was trembling as he looked up, rain
streaming down his face. "We'd as well just sue for peace and have done
with it."

"What?" Heathcott examined him. "What do you mean?"

"He was leading us. Dalby Bedford. The Windwards caught him in the
chest when they opened fire." He seemed to choke on his dismay. "The
island's no longer got a governor."



Chapter Eighteen


Above the wide hilltop the mid-morning rain had lightened momentarily
to fine mist, a golden awning shading the horizon. A lone figure,
hatless and wearing a muddy leather jerkin, moved slowly up the rutted
path toward the brick compound reserved for the governor of Barbados.
Behind him lay the green-mantled rolling hills of the island; beyond,
shrouded in drizzle and fog, churned the once-placid Caribbean.

The roadway was strewn with palm fronds blown into haphazard patterns
by the night's storm, and as he walked, a new gust of wind sang through
the trees, trumpeting a mournful lament. Then a stripe of white cut
across the new thunderheads in the west, and the sky started to darken
once again. More rain would be coming soon, he told himself, yet more
storm that would stretch into the night and mantle the island and sea.

He studied the sky, wistfully thinking over what had passed. Would that
the squalls could wash all of it clean, the way a downpour purged the
foul straw and offal from a cobblestone London street. But there was no
making it right anymore. Now the only thing left was to try and start
anew. In a place far away.

Would she understand that?

The gate of the compound was secured and locked, as though to shut out
the world beyond. He pulled the clapper on the heavy brass bell and in
its ring heard a foreboding finality.

"Sir?" The voice from inside the gate was nervous, fearful. He knew it
was James, the Irish servant who had been with Katherine and the
governor for a decade.

"Miss Bedford."

"By the saints, Captain Winston, is that you, sir? The mistress said
you'd gone back over to Oistins."

"I just came from there."

"How's the fighting?" The voice revealed itself as belonging to a
short, thin-haired man with watery eyes. "We've not heard from His
Excellency since he sent that messenger down last night. Then after
that Mistress . . ."

"Just take me to Miss Bedford." He quickly cut off what he realized
could grow into an accounting of the entire household for the past
fortnight.

How do I go about telling her, he asked himself. That it's the end of
everything she had, everything she hoped for. That there's no future
left here.

"Is she expecting you, Captain?" James' eyes narrowed as he pushed wide
the heavy wooden door leading into the hallway. "I pray nothing's
happened to . . ."

"She's not expecting me. Just tell her I've come."

"Aye, Your Worship, as you please." He indicated a chair in the
reception room, then turned to head off in the direction of the
staircase.

Katherine was already advancing down the wide mahogany steps. She was
dressed in a calico bodice and full skirt, her hair bunched into moist
ringlets of its own making. Her bloodshot eyes told Winston she had not
slept.

"Hugh, what is it? Why have you come back?" She searched his face in
puzzlement. Then her eyes grew wild. "Oh God, what's happened?" She
stumbled down the rest of the steps. "Tell me."

"Katy, there was some shooting . . ."

And he told her, first that Dalby Bedford was dead, then how it
happened. Next he explained that, since the island no longer had a
seated governor, the Assembly had elected to accept in full the terms
set forth by the admiral of the fleet. He told it as rapidly as he
could, hoping somehow to lessen the pain. She listened calmly, her face
betraying no emotion. Finally she dropped into a tall, bulky chair, and
gazed around for a moment, as though bidding farewell to the room.

"Maybe it's better this way after all." She looked down. "Without the
humiliation of the Tower and a public trial by Cromwell."

Winston watched her, marveling. There still was no hint of a tear.
Nothing save her sad eyes bespoke her pain as she continued, "It's
ironic, isn't it. Both of them. My mother, years ago, and now . . .
Killed by a gun, when all they ever wanted for the world was peace."
She tried to smile. "These are dangerous times to be about in the
Americas, Captain. You're right to always keep those flintlocks in your
belt." She turned away, and he knew she was crying. The servants had
gathered, James and the two women, huddled by the staircase, unable to
speak.

"Katy, I came as soon as I could to tell you. God only knows what's to
happen now, but you can't stay here. They'll figure out in no time
you've had a big hand in this. You'll likely be arrested."

"I'm not afraid of them, or Cromwell himself." She was still gazing at
the wooden planks of the floor.

"Well, you ought to be." He walked over and knelt down next to her
chair. "It's over. These planters we were fighting for gave the island
away, so I say damned to them. There's more to the Americas than
Barbados." He paused, and finally she turned to gaze at him. There were
wet streaks down her cheeks. "Maybe now you'll come with me. We'll make
a place somewhere else."

She looked into his eyes and silently bit her lip. It was almost as
though he had never truly seen her till this moment. His heart went out
to her as he continued, "I want you with me. There's another island,
Katy, if you're willing to try and help me take it."

"I don't . . ." She seemed unsure what she wanted to say. She looked at
him a moment longer, then around at the room, the servants. Finally she
gazed down again, still silent.

"Katy, I can't make you come. Nor can I promise it'll be easy. But
you've got to decide now. There's no time to wait for . . . anything.
We've both got to get out of here. I'm going to collect as many of my
indentures as possible, then try and run the blockade tonight--rain,
storm, no matter. Who knows if I'll make it, but it's my only hope." He
rose to his feet. His muddy boots had left dark traces on the rug.
"It's yours too, if you want it. Surely you know that."

Her voice came like a whisper as she looked up. "We tried, didn't we?
Truly we did."

"You can't give liberty to the Americas if these Puritans only want it
for themselves. It's got to be for everybody. . . . Remember what I
said? They could have freed the Africans, in return for help, and they
might have won. If I ever doubted that, God knows I don't anymore, not
after what I saw last night. But they wanted slaves, and there's no
mobilizing an island that's only half free. So they got what they
deserve." He walked to the sideboard. A flask of brandy was there, with
glasses; he lifted the bottle and wearily poured himself a shot. Then
he turned and hoisted the glass. "We gave it our best, but we couldn't
do it alone. Not here." He drank off the liquor and poured in more.

"Give me some of that." She motioned toward the bottle. He quickly
filled another glass and placed it in her hands. The servants watched,
astonished, as she downed it in one gulp, then turned back to Winston.

"How can I go just yet? There're his papers here, everything. What he
did mustn't just be forgotten. He created a democratic nation, an
Assembly, all of it, here in the Americas. Someday . . ."

"Nobody gives a damn about that anymore." He strode over with the flask
and refilled her glass. "You've got to get out of here. This is the
first place they're apt to look for you. You can stay at Joan's place
till we're ready to go."

"Joan?" She stared at him, disbelieving. "You mean Joan Fuller?"

"She's the only person left here I trust."

"She despises me. She always has."

"No more than you've despised her. So make an end on it."

"I . . ."

"Katy, there's no time to argue now. The damned Roundheads are going to
be in Bridgetown by dark. I've got to go down to the ship, before the
rain starts in again, and sort things out. We've got to finish lading
and get ready to weigh anchor before it's too late."

He watched as she drank silently from the glass, her eyes faraway.
Finally he continued, "If you want, I'll send Joan to help you pack
up." He emptied the second glass of brandy, then set it back on the
sideboard. When he turned back to her, he was half smiling. "I suppose
I've been assuming you're going with me, just because I want you to so
badly. Well?"

She looked again at the servants, then around the room. At last she
turned to Winston. "Hold me."

He walked slowly to the chair and lifted her into his arms. He ran his
hands through her wet hair, then brought up her lips. At last he spoke.
"Does that mean yes?"

She nodded silently.

"Then I've got to go. Just pack what you think you'll want, but not too
many silk skirts and bodices. You won't be needing them where we're
going. Try and bring some of those riding breeches of yours."

She hugged him tighter. "I was just thinking of our 'little island.'
When was that?"

"Yesterday. Just yesterday. But there're lots of islands in the
Caribbean."

"Yesterday." She drew back and looked at him. "And tomorrow?"

"This time tomorrow we'll be at sea, or we'll be at the bottom of the
bay out there." He kissed her one last time. "I'll send Joan quick as I
can. So please hurry."

Before she could say more, he stalked out into the rain and was gone.



The sand along the shore of the bay was firm, beaten solid by the
squall. The heavy thunderheads that threatened earlier had now blanked
the sun, bringing new rain that swept along the darkened shore in hard
strokes. Ahead through the gloom he could make out the outlines of his
seamen, kegs of water balanced precariously on their shoulders, in an
extended line from the thatched-roof warehouse by the careenage at the
river mouth down to a longboat bobbing in the surf. After the raid on
the Oistins breastwork, he had ordered them directly back to Bridgetown
to finish lading. A streak of white cut across the sky, and in its
shimmering light he could just make out the_ Defiance_, safely anchored
in the shallows, canvas furled, nodding with the swell.

Joan. She had said nothing when he asked her to go up and help
Katherine. She'd merely glared her disapproval, while ordering the
girls to bring her cloak. Joan was saving her thoughts for later, he
knew. There'd be more on the subject of Katherine.

The only sounds now were the pounding of rain along the shore and the
occasional distant rumble of thunder. He was so busy watching the men
he failed to notice the figure in white emerge from the darkness and
move toward his path.

When the form reached out for him, he whirled and dropped his hand to a
pistol.

"Senhor, desculpe. "

The rain-mantled shadow curtsied, Portuguese style.

He realized it was a woman. Briggs' mulata. The one Joan seemed so fond
of. Before he could reply, she seized his arm.

"_Faga o favor_, senhor, will you help us? I beg you." There was an icy
urgency in her touch.

"What are you doing here?" He studied her, still startled. Her long
black hair was coiled across her face in tangled strands, and there
were dark new splotches down the front of her white shift.

"I'm afraid he'll die, senhor. And if he's captured . . ."

"Who?" Winston tried unsuccessfully to extract his arm from her grasp.

"I know he wanted to take the guns you have, but they were for us to
fight for our freedom. He wished you no harm."

Good God, so she had been part of it too! He almost laughed aloud,
thinking how Benjamin Briggs had been cozened by all his slaves, even
his half-African mistress. "You mean that Yoruba, Atiba? Tell him he
can go straight to hell. Do you have any idea what he had his men do
last night?"

She looked up, puzzled, her eyes still pleading through the rain.

"No, I don't suppose you could." He shrugged. "It scarcely matters now.
But his parting words were an offer to kill me, no more than a few
hours ago. So I say damned to him."

"He is a man. No more than you, but no less. He was bom free; yet now
he is a slave. His people are slaves." She paused, and when she did, a
distant roll of thunder melted into the rain. "He did what he had to
do. For his people, for me."

"All he and his 'people' managed was to help the Commonwealth bring
this island to its knees."

"How? Because he led the Yoruba in a revolt against slavery?" She
gripped his arm even tighter. "If he helped defeat the planters, then I
am glad. Perhaps it will be the end of slavery after all."

Winston smiled sadly. "It's only the beginning of that accursed trade.
He might have stopped it--who knows?--if he'd won. But he lost. So
that's the end of it. For him, for Barbados."

"But you can save him." She tugged Winston back as he tried to brush
past her. "I know you are leaving. Take him with you."

"He belongs to Briggs." He glanced back. "Same as you do. There's
nothing I can do about it. Right now, I doubt good master Briggs is of
a mind to do anything but hang him."

"Then if his life has no value to anyone here, take him as a free man."

A web of white laced across the thunderhead. In its light he could just
make out the tall masts of the _Defiance_, waving against the dark sky
like emblems of freedom.

God damn you, Benjamin Briggs. God damn your island of slaveholders.

"Where is he?"

"Derin has hidden him, not too far from here. When Atiba fainted from
the loss of blood, he brought him up there." She turned and pointed
toward the dark bulk of the island. "In a grove of trees where the
_branco _could not find him. Then he came to me for help."

"Who's this Derin?"

"One of the Yoruba men who was with him."

"Where're the others? There must've been a dozen or so over at Oistins
this morning."

"Some were killed near there. The others were captured. Derin told me
they were attacked by the militia. Atiba only escaped because he
fainted and Derin carried him to safety. The others stayed to fight, to
save him, and they were taken."

Her voice cracked. "I heard Master Briggs say the ones who were
captured, Obewole and the others, would be burned alive tomorrow."

"Burned alive!"

"All the planters have agreed that is what they must do. It is to be
made the punishment on Barbados for any slave who revolts, so the rest
of the Africans will always fear the _branco_. "

"Such a thing would never be allowed on English soil."

"This is not your England, senhor. This is Barbados. Where slavery has
become the lifeblood of all wealth. They will do it."

"Bedford would never allow . . ." He stopped, and felt his heart
wrench. "Good Christ. Now there's no one to stop them. Damn these
bloodthirsty Puritans." He turned to her. "Can you get him down here?
Without being seen?"

"We will try."

"If you can do it, I'll take him."

"And Derin too?"

"In for a penny, in for a pound." His smile was bitter. "Pox on it.
I'll take them both."

"Senhor." She dropped to her knees. "Tell me how I can thank you."

"Just be gone. Before my boys get wind of this." He pulled her to her
feet and glanced toward the rain-swept line of seamen carrying water
kegs. "They'll not fancy it, you can be sure. I've got worries enough
as is, God knows."

"_Muito, muito obrigada_, senhor." She stood unmoving, tears streaming
down her cheeks.

"Just go." He stepped around her and moved on down the shore, toward
the moored longboat where the men were working. Now John Mewes was
standing alongside, minimally supervising the seamen as they stacked
kegs. Mingled with his own men were several of the Irish indentures.

"Damn this squall, Cap'n. We'll not be able to get under way till she
lets up. It's no weather for a Christian to be at sea, that I promise
you."

"I think it's apt to ease up around nightfall." He checked the clouds
again. "What're we needing?"

"Once we get this laded, there'll be water aboard and to spare." He
wiped the rain from his eyes and glanced at the sky. "God knows the
whole of the island's seen enough water to float to sea.'Tis salt pork
we're wanting now, and biscuit."

"Can we get any cassava flour?"

"There's scarcely any to be had. The island's half starved, Cap'n."

"Did you check all the warehouses along here?"

"Aye, we invited ourselves in and rifled what we could find. But
there's pitiful little left, save batches of moldy tobacco waitin' to
be shipped."

"Damn. Then we'll just have to sail with what we've got." Winston
turned and stared down the shore. There had not been any provisions
off-loaded from Europe since the fleet arrived. There were no ships in
the harbor now, save the _Defiance _and the _Zeelander_.

The _Zeelander_.

"When's the last time you saw Ruyters?"

"This very mornin', as't happens. He came nosing by to enquire how it
was we're afloat, and I told him it must've been the tide lifted her
off." Mewes turned and peered through the rain toward the Dutch
frigate. "What're you thinking?"

"I'm thinking he still owes me a man, a Spaniard by the name of Vargas,
which I've yet to collect."

"That damned Butterbox'll be in no mood to accommodate you, I swear
it."

"All the same, we made a bargain. I want you and some of the boys to go
over and settle it." He thumbed at the _Zeelander_, lodged in the sand
not two hundred yards down the beach. "In the meantime, I have to go
back up to Joan's and collect . . . a few things. Why don't you try and
find Ruyters? Get that Spaniard, however you have to do it, and maybe
see if he'll part with any of their biscuit."

"Aye, I'll tend to it." He turned to go.

"And John . . ." Winston waved him back.

"Aye."

"We may be having some company before we weigh anchor. Remember that
Yoruba we caught on board a few nights back?"

"Aye, I recollect the heathen well enough. I've not seen him since,
thank God, though some of the lads claim there was one up at Oistins
this mornin' who sounded a lot like him."

"Same man. I've a mind to take him with us, and maybe another one. But
don't say anything to the boys. Just let him on board if he shows up."

"You're the captain. But I'd sooner have a viper between decks as that
godless savage. They're sayin' he and a bunch of his kind gutted a good
dozen Englishmen this mornin' like they was no better'n so many
Spaniards."

"Well, that's done and past. Just see he gets on board and the boys
keep quiet about it."

"They'll not be likin' it, by my life."

"That's an order."

"Aye." Mewes turned with a shrug, whistled for some of the seamen, then
headed through the rain, down the shore toward the beached hulk of the
_Zeelander.

_

"She's here darlin'." Joan met him at the door. "In back, with the
girls."

"How is she?" Winston threw off his wet cape and reached for the
tankard of sack she was handing him.

"I think she's starting to understand he's dead now. I guess it just
took a while. Now I think it's time you told me a few things yourself.
Why're you taking her? Is't because you're worried the Roundheads might
send her back home to be hanged?"

"Is that the reason you want to hear?"

"Damn your eyes, Hugh Winston. You're not in love with her, are you?"

He smiled and took a sip from the tankard.

"You'd best beware of her, love." She sighed. "That one's not for you.
She's too independent, and I doubt she even knows what she's doin' half
the time."

"And how about me? Think I know what I'm doing?" He pulled back a chair
and straddled it.

"Doubtless not, given what you're plannin' next." She plopped into a
chair. "But I've packed your things, you whoremaster. The girls're
already sorry to see the lot of you leavin'. I think they've taken a
fancy to a couple of your lads." She laughed. "But they'd have
preferred you most of all. God knows, I've had to keep an eye on the
jades day and night."

He turned and stared out in the direction of the rain. "Maybe you'll
decide to come over someday and open shop on Jamaica. This place has
bad times coming."

She leaned back and poured a tankard of sack for herself. "That's a
fool's dream. But you're right about one thing. There're dark days in
store here, not a doubt. Who knows how it'll settle out?"

The wind seemed to play against the doors of the tavern. Then they
swung open and a sudden gust coursed through the room, spraying fine
mist across the tables.

"Winston, damn me if I didn't figure I'd find you here." Benjamin
Briggs pushed into the room, shook the rain from his wide hat, and
reached for a chair. "I'm told you were the last to see that Yoruba of
mine. That he tried to kill you this moming, much as he aimed to murder
me."

"He was at Oistins, true enough." Winston glanced up.

"That's what I heard. They're claiming he and those savages of his
brutally murdered some of Cromwell's infantry."  He shook his hat one
last time and tossed it onto the table. "We've got to locate him. Maybe
you have some idea where he is now?"

"He didn't trouble advising me of his intended whereabouts."

"Well, he's a true savage, by my soul. A peril to every Christian on
this island." He sighed and looked at Winston. "I don't know whether
you've heard, but the Roundheads have already started disarming our
militia. We'll soon have no way to defend ourselves. I think I winged
him last night, but that heathen is apt to come and kill us both if we
don't hunt him down and finish the job while we've still got the
chance." He lowered his voice. "I heard about those flintlocks of
yours. I was hoping maybe you'd take some of your boys and we could go
after him whilst things are still in a tangle over at Oistins."

Winston sat unmoving. "Remember what I told you the other day, about
freeing these Africans? Well, now I say damned to you. You can manage
your slaves any way you like, but it'll be without my flintlocks."

"That's scarcely an attitude that'll profit the either of us at the
moment." Briggs signaled to Joan for a tankard of kill-devil. "Peculiar
company you keep these days, Mistress Fuller. 'Twould seem the Captain
here cares not tuppence for his own life. Well, so be it. I'll locate
that savage without him if I needs must." He took a deep breath and
gazed around the empty room. "But lest my ride down here be for naught,
I'd as soon take the time right now and settle that bargain we made."

Joan poured the tankard and shoved it across the table to him. "You
mean that woman you own?"

"Aye, the mulatto wench. I'm thinking I might go ahead and take your
offer of a hundred pounds, and damned to her."

"What I said was eighty." Joan stared at him coldly.

"Aye, eighty, a hundred, who can recall a shilling here or there." He
took a swig. "What say we make it ninety then, and have an end to the
business?"

Joan eyed him. "I said eighty, though I might consider eighty-five. But
not a farthing more."

"You're a hard woman to trade with, on my honor." He took another
draught from the tankard. "Then eighty-five it is, but only on
condition we settle it here and now. In sterling. I'll not waste
another day's feed on her."

Winston glanced at Joan, then back at Briggs. "Do you know where she
is?"

The planter's eyes narrowed. "Up at my compound. Where else in God's
name would she be?"

Winston took a drink and looked out the doorway, into the rain. "I
heard talk she was seen down around here this morning. Maybe she's run
off." He turned to Joan. "I'd encourage you to pay on delivery."

"Damn you, sir, our bargain's been struck." Briggs settled his tankard
with a ring. "I never proposed delivering her with a coach and four
horses."

Joan sat silently, listening. Finally she spoke. "You'd best not be
thinkin' to try and swindle me. I'll advance you five pounds now, on
account, but you'll not see a penny of the rest till she's in my care."

"As you will then." He turned and spat toward the corner. "She'll be
here, word of honor."

Joan glanced again at Winston, then rose and disappeared through the
shuttered doors leading into the back room.

After Briggs watched her depart, he turned toward Winston. "You, sir,
have studied to plague me from the day you dropped anchor."

      "I usually cut the deck before I play a hand of cards."

      "Well, sir, I'll warrant Cromwell's got the deck now, for this
hand at least. We'll see what you do about him."

       "Cromwell can be damned. I'll manage my own affairs."

        "As will we all, make no mistake." He took another drink. "Aye,
we'll come out of this. We'll be selling sugar to the

Dutchmen again in a year's time, I swear it. They can't keep that fleet
tied up here forever." He looked at Winston. "And when it's gone, you'd
best be on your way too, sir. Mark it."

"I'll make note."

Joan moved back through the room. "Five pounds." She handed Briggs a
small cloth bag. "Count it if you like. That makes her mine. You'll see
the balance when she's safe in this room."

"You've got a trade." He took the bag and inventoried its contents with
his thick fingers. "I'll let this tankard serve as a handshake." He
drained the last of the liquor as he rose. As he clapped his soaking
hat back onto his head, he moved next to where Winston sat. "And you,
sir, would be advised to rethink helping me whilst there's time. That
savage is apt to slit your throat for you soon enough if he's not
tracked down."

"And then burned alive, like you're planning for the rest of them?"

Briggs stopped and glared. "That's none of your affair, sir. We're
going to start doing what we must. How else are we to keep these
Africans docile in future? Something's got to be done about these
revolts."

He whirled abruptly and headed for the door. At that moment, the
battered louvres swung inward and a harried figure appeared in the
doorway, eyes frantic, disoriented. A few seconds passed before anyone
recognized Jeremy Walrond. His silk doublet was wet and bedraggled, his
cavalier's hat waterlogged and drooping over his face. Before he could
move, Briggs' pistol was out and leveled at his breast.

"Not another step, you whoreson bastard, or I'll blow you to hell." His
voice boomed above the sound of the storm. "Damn me if I shouldn't kill
you on sight, except I wouldn't squander the powder and shot." He
squinted through the open doorway. "Where's Anthony? I'd have him come
forward and meet me like a man, the royalist miscreant."

Jeremy's face flooded with fear. "He's . . .he's been taken on board
the _Rainbowe_. I swear it." His voice seemed to crack. "By Powlett."

"By who?"

"A man named Powlett, the vice admiral. I think he's to be the new
governor."

"Well, damned to them both." Briggs lowered the pistol guardedly, then
shoved it back into his belt. "They're doubtless conspiring this very
minute how best to squeeze every farthing of profit from our sugar
trade."

"I . . . I don't know what's happening. They've made the Windwards as
much as prisoners. Powlett's already disarmed the Regiment, and Colonel
Morris is leading his infantry on the march to Bridgetown right now."
He stepped gingerly in through the doorway. "I came down to try and
find Miss Bedford. At the compound they said she might be . . ."

"I doubt Katherine has much time for you." Winston looked up from his
chair. "So you'd best get on back to Oistins before I decide to start
this little war all over again."

"Oh, for God's sake let the lad be. He's not even wearin' a sword,"
Joan interjected, then beckoned him forward. "Don't let this blusterin'
lot frighten you, darlin'. Come on in and dry yourself off."

"I've got to warn Katherine." He edged nervously toward Joan, as though
for protection. His voice was still quavering. "We didn't expect this.
They'd agreed to terms. They said . . ."

"They lied." Winston drew out one of his pistols and laid it on the
table before him. "And your gullible, ambitious royalist of a brother
believed them. Haply, some others of us took our own precautions.
Katherine's safe, so you can go on back to your Roundheads and tell
them they'll never find her."

"But I meant her no harm. It was to be for the best, I swear it. I want
her to know that." He settled at a table and lowered his face into his
hands. "I never dreamed it would come to this." He looked up. "Who
could have?"

"'Tis no matter now." Joan moved to him, her voice kindly. "You're not
to blame. 'Twas Sir Anthony that led the defection. It's always the old
fools who cause the trouble. He's the one who should have known . . ."

"But you don't understand what really happened. I was the one who urged
him to it, talked him into it. Because Admiral Calvert assured me none
of this would happen."

"You planned this with Calvert!" Briggs roared. "With that damned
Roundhead! You let him use you to cozen Walrond and the Windwards into
defecting?"

Jeremy stifled a sob, then turned toward Joan, his blue eyes pleading.
"Would you tell Katherine I just wanted to stop the killing. None of us
ever dreamed . . ."

"Jeremy." Katherine was standing in the open doorway leading to the
back. "Is it really true, what you just said?"

He stared at her in disbelief, and his voice failed for a second. Then
suddenly the words poured out. "Katherine, you've got to get away." He
started to rush to her, but something in her eyes stopped him. "Please
listen. I think Powlett means to arrest you. I heard him talking about
it. There's nothing we can do."

"You and Anthony've got the Windwards." She examined him with hard
scorn. "I fancy you can do whatever you choose. Doubtless he'll have
himself appointed governor now, just as he's probably been wanting all
along."

"No! He never . . ." Jeremy's voice seemed to crack. Finally he
continued, "A man named Powlett, the vice admiral, is going to be the
new governor. Morris is marching here from Oistins right now. I only
slipped away to warn you."

"I've been warned." She was turning back toward the doorway. "Goodbye,
Jeremy. You always wanted to be somebody important here. Well, maybe
you've managed it now. You've made your mark on our times. You gave the
Americas back to England. Congratulations. Maybe Cromwell will declare
himself king next and then grant you a knighthood."

"Katherine, I don't want it." He continued miserably. "I'm so ashamed.
I only came to ask you to forgive me. And to warn you that you've got
to get away."

"I've heard that part already." She glanced back. "Now just leave."

"But what'll you do?" Again he started to move toward her, then drew
back.

"It's none of your affair." She glared at him. "The better question is
what you and Anthony'll do now? After you've betrayed us all. I thought
you had more honor. I thought Anthony had more honor."

He stood for a moment, as though not comprehending what she had said.
Then he moved forward and confronted her. "How can you talk of honor,
in the same breath with Anthony! After what you did. Made a fool of
him."

"Jeremy, you have known me long enough to know I do what I please. It
was time Anthony learned that too."

"Well, he should have broken off the engagement weeks ago, that much
I'll tell you. And he would have, save he thought you'd come to your
senses. And start behaving honorably." He glanced at Winston. "I see he
was wrong."

"I did come to my senses, Jeremy. Just in time. I'll take Hugh's honor
over Anthony's any day." She turned and disappeared through the
doorway.

Jeremy stared after her, then faced Winston. "Damn you. You think I
don't know anything. You're the . . ."

"I think you'd best be gone." Winston rose slowly from his chair. "Give
my regards to Sir Anthony. Tell him I expect to see him in hell. He
pulled a musket ball from his pocket and tossed it to Jeremy. "And give
him that, as thanks from me for turning this island and my ship over to
the Roundheads. The next one he gets won't be handed to him. . . ."

The doors of the tavern bulged open, and standing in the rain was an
officer of the Commonwealth army. Behind him were three helmeted
infantrymen holding flintlock muskets.

"Your servant, gentlemen." The man glanced around the room and noticed
Joan. "And ladies. You've doubtless heard

your militia has agreed to lay down its arms, and that includes even
those who'd cravenly hide in a brothel rather than serve. For your own
safety we're here to collect all weapons, till order can be restored.
They'll be marked and returned to you in due time." He motioned the
three infantrymen behind him to close ranks at the door. "We'll
commence by taking down your names."

In the silence that followed nothing could be heard but the howl of
wind and rain against the shutters. Dark had begun to settle outside
now, and the room itself was lighted only by a single flickering
candle, in a holder on the back wall. The officer walked to where Joan
was seated and doffed his hat. "My name is Colonel Morris, madam. And
you, I presume, are the . . ."

"You betrayed us!" Jeremy was almost shouting. "You said we could keep
our muskets. That we could . . ."

        "Master Walrond, is that you?" Morris turned and peered through
the gloom. "Good Christ, lad. What are you doing here? You're not
supposed to leave Oistins." He paused and inspected Jeremy. "I see
you've not got a weapon, so I'll I forget I came across you. But you've
got to get on back over to Oistins and stay with the Windwards, or I'll
not be responsible." He turned to Briggs. "And who might you be, sir?"

"My name, sir, is Benjamin Briggs. I am head of the Council of
Barbados, and I promise you I will protest formally to Parliament over
this incident. You've no right to barge in here and . . ."

"Just pass me that pistol and there'll be no trouble. It's hotheads
like you that make this necessary." Morris reached into Briggs' belt
and deftly extracted the long flintlock, its gilded stock glistening in
the candlelight. He shook the powder out of the priming pan and handed
it to one of the infantrymen. "The name with this one is to be . . ."
He glanced back. "Briggs, sir, I believe you said?"

"Damn you. This treatment will not be countenanced. I need that
pistol." Briggs started to move forward, then glanced warily at the
infantrymen holding flintlock muskets.

"We all regret it's necessary, just as much as you." Morris signaled to
the three infantrymen standing behind him, their helmets reflecting the
dull orange of the candles. "While I finish here, search the back room.
And take care. There's apt to be a musket hiding behind a calico
petticoat in a place like this."

Winston settled back onto his chair. "I wouldn't trouble with that if I
were you. There're no other guns here. Except for mine."

Morris glanced at him, startled. Then he saw Winston's flintlock lying
on the table. "You're not giving the orders here, whoever you are. And
I'll kindly take that pistol."

"I'd prefer to keep it. So it'd be well if you'd just leave now, before
there's trouble."

"That insubordinate remark, sir, has just gotten you put under arrest."
Morris moved toward the table.

Winston was on his feet. The chair he had been sitting on tumbled
across the floor. "I said you'd best be gone."

Before Morris could respond, a woman appeared at the rear doorway.
"I'll save you all a search. I'm not afraid of Cromwell, and I'm surely
not frightened of you."

"Katherine, no!" Jeremy's voice was pleading.

"And who might you be, madam?" Morris stared in surprise.

"My name is Katherine Bedford, sir. Which means, I suppose, that you'll
want to arrest me too."

"Are you the daughter of Dalby Bedford?"

"He was my father. And the last lawfully selected governor this island
is likely to know."

"Then I regret to say I do have orders to detain you. There are certain
charges, madam, of aiding him in the instigation of this rebellion,
that may need to be answered in London."

"Katherine!" Jeremy looked despairingly at her. "I warned you . . ."

"Is that why you're here, Master Walrond? To forewarn an accused
criminal?" Morris turned to him. "Then I fear there may be charges
against you too." He glanced at Briggs. "You can go, sir. But I'm
afraid we'll have to hold your pistol for now, and take these others
into custody."

"You're not taking Miss Bedford, or anybody, into custody." Winston
pulled back his water-soaked jerkin to expose the pistol in his belt.

Morris stared at him. "And who, sir, are you?"

"Check your list of criminals for the name Winston." He stood unmoving.
"I'm likely there too."

"Is that Hugh Winston, sir?" Morris' eyes narrowed, and he glanced
nervously at the three men behind him holding muskets. Then he looked
back. "We most certainly have orders for your arrest. You've been
identified as the gunnery commander for the rebels here, to say nothing
of charges lodged against you in England. My first priority is Miss
Bedford, but I'll be pleased to do double duty and arrest you as well."

"Fine. Now, see that pistol?" Winston thumbed toward the table. "Look
it over carefully. There're two barrels, both primed. It's part of a
pair. The other one is in my belt. That's four pistol balls. The man
who moves to arrest Miss Bedford gets the first. But if you make me
start shooting, I'm apt to forget myself and not stop till I've killed
you all. So why don't you leave now, Colonel Morris, and forget
everything you saw here." He glanced back at Katherine. "I'm sure Miss
Bedford is willing to forget she saw you. She's had a trying day."

"Damn your impudence, sir." Morris turned and gestured at the men
behind him. "Go ahead and arrest her."

One of the helmeted infantrymen raised his flintlock and waved
Katherine forward.

"No!" Jeremy shouted and lunged toward the soldier. "You can't! I never
meant . . ."

The shot sounded like a crack of thunder in the close room.

Black smoke poured from the barrel of the musket, and Jeremy froze
where he stood, a quizzical expression on his face. He turned to look
back at Katherine, his eyes penitent, then wilted toward the floor, a
patch of red spreading across his chest.

Almost simultaneous with the musket's discharge, the pistol in
Winston's belt was already drawn and cocked. It spoke once, and the
infantryman who had fired dropped, a trickle of red down his forehead.
As the soldier behind him started to raise his own musket, the pistol
gave a small click, rotating the barrel, and flared again. The second
man staggered back against the wall, while his flintlock clattered
unused to the floor.

Now the rickety table in front of Winston was sailing toward the door,
and the pistol that had been lying on it was in his hand. The table
caught the third infantryman in the groin as he attempted to raise his
weapon and sent him sprawling backward. His musket rattled against the
shutters, then dropped.

Morris looked back to see the muzzle of Winston's second flintlock
leveled at his temple.

"Katy, let's go." Winston motioned her forward. "We'll probably have
more company any minute now."

"You're no better than a murderer, sir." Morris finally recovered his
voice.

"I didn't fire the first shot. But by God I'll be the one who fires the
last, that I promise you." He glanced back. "Katy, I said let's go.
Take whatever you want, but hurry."

"Hugh, they've killed Jeremy!" She stood unmoving, shock in her face.

"He wouldn't let me handle this my way." Winston kept his eyes on
Morris. "But it's too late now."

"He tried to stop them. He did it for me." She was shaking. "Oh,
Jeremy, why in God's name?"

"Katy, come on." Winston looked back. "Joan, get her things. We've got
to move out of here, now."

Joan turned and pushed her way through the cluster of Irish girls
standing fearfully in the rear doorway.

"You'll hang for this, sir." Morris eyed the pistol. The remaining
infantryman still sat against the wall, his unfired musket on the floor
beside him.

"The way you'd planned to hang Miss Bedford, no doubt." He motioned
toward Briggs. "Care to collect those muskets for me?"

"I'll have no hand in this, sir." The planter did not move. "You've
earned a noose for sure."

"I'll do it." Katherine stepped across Jeremy's body and assembled the
three muskets of the infantrymen. She carried them back, then
confronted Morris.

"You, sir, have helped steal the freedom of this island, of the
Americas. It's impossible to tell you how much I despise you and all
you stand for. I'd kill you myself if God had given me the courage.
Maybe Hugh will do it for me."

"I'll see the both of you hanged, madam, or I'm not a Christian."

"I hope you try."

Joan emerged through the crowd, toting a large bundle. She laid it on a
table by the door, then turned to Winston. "Here's what we got up at
the compound this afternoon." She surveyed the three bodies sadly.
"Master Jeremy was a fine lad. Maybe he's finally managed to make his
brother proud of him; I'll wager it's all he ever really wanted." She
straightened. "Good Christ, I hope they don't try and shut me down
because of this."

"It wasn't your doing." Winston lifted the bundle with his free hand.
"Katy, can you manage those muskets?"

"I'd carry them through hell."

"Then let's be gone." He waved the pistol at the infantryman sitting
against the wall. "Get up. You and the colonel here are going to keep
us company."

"Where do you think you can go?" Briggs still had not moved. "They'll
comb the island for you."

"They'll look a long time before they find us on Barbados." He shoved
the pistol against Morris' ribs. "Let's be off. Colonel."

"There'll be my men all about." Morris glared. "You'll not get far."

"We'll get far enough." He shifted the bundle under his arm.

"Darlin', Godspeed. I swear I'll miss you." Joan kissed him on the
cheek, then turned to Katherine. "And mind you watch over him in that
place he's headed for."

"Jamaica?"

"No. He knows where I mean." She looked again at Winston. "There's no
worse spot in the Caribbean."

"Don't worry. You'll hear from me." Winston kissed her back, then urged
Morris forward.

"See that you stay alive." She followed them to the door. "And don't
try anything too foolish."

"I always take care." He turned and bussed her on the cheek one last
time. Then they were gone.



Chapter Nineteen


As Winston and Katherine led their prisoners slowly down the shore, the
_Defiance_ stood out against the dark sky, illuminated by flashes of
lightning as it tugged at its anchor cables. The sea was up now, and
Winston watched as her prow dipped into the trough of each swell, as
though offering a curtsy. They had almost reached the water when he
spotted John Mewes, waiting by the longboat.

"Ahoy, Cap'n," he sang out through the gusts of rain. "What're you
doin'? Impressing Roundheads to sail with us now? We've already got
near to fifty of your damn'd indentures."

"Are they on board?"

"Aye, them and all the rest. You're the last." He studied Katherine and
Morris in confusion. "Though I'd not expected you'd be in such fine
company."

"Then we weigh anchor."

"In this squall?" Mewes' voice was incredulous. "We can't put on any
canvas now. It'd be ripped off the yards."

"We've got to. The Roundheads are already moving on Bridgetown. We'll
try and use those new short sails." Winston urged Morris forward with
his pistol, then turned back to Mewes. "Any sign of that African we
talked about?"

"I've seen naught of him, and that's a fact." He peered

up the beach, hoping one last cursory check would suffice. Now that the
rain had intensified, it was no longer possible to see the hills
beyond. "But I did manage to get that Spaniard from Ruyters, the one
named Vargas." He laughed. "Though I finally had to convince the ol'
King of the Butterboxes to see things our way by bringin' over a few of
the boys and some muskets."

"Good. He's on board now?"

"Safe as can be. An' happy enough to leave that damn'd Dutchman, truth
to tell. Claimed he was sick to death of the putrid smell of the
Zeelander, now that she's been turned into a slaver."

"Then to hell with the African. We can't wait any longer."

"'Tis all to the good, if you want my thinkin'." Mewes reached up and
adjusted Morris' helmet, then performed a mock salute. He watched in
glee as the English commander's face flushed with rage. "You're not
takin' these two damn'd Roundheads aboard, are you?"

"Damn you, sir." Morris ignored Mewes as he glared at Winston, then
looked down at the pistol. He had seen a double-barrelled mechanism
like this only once before--property of a Spanish diplomat in London, a
dandy far more skilled dancing the bourree than managing a weapon. But
such a device in the hands of an obvious marksman like Winston; nothing
could be more deadly. "There's been quite enough . . ."

"Get in the longboat."

"I'll do no such thing." Morris drew back. "I have no intention of
going with you, wherever it is you think you're headed."

"I said get in. If you like it here so much, you can swim back after we
weigh anchor." Winston tossed his bundle across the gunwale, seized
Morris by his doublet, and sent him sprawling after it. Then he turned
to the infantryman. "You get in as well."

Without a word the man clambered over the side. Winston

heaved a deep breath, then took the muskets Katherine was carrying and
handed them to Mewes. "Katy, this is the last you're apt to see of
Barbados for a long while."

"Please, let's don't talk about it." She seized her wet skirts and
began to climb over the side, Winston steadying her with one hand. "I
suppose I somehow thought I could have everything. But I guess I've
learned differently."

He studied her in confusion for a moment, then turned and surveyed the
dark shore one last time. "All right, John, prepare to cast off."

"Aye." Mewes loosened the bow line from its mooring and tossed it into
the longboat. Together they shoved the bobbing craft and its passengers
deeper into the surf.

"What's your name?" Winston motioned the infantryman forward as he
lifted himself over the gunwales.

"MacEwen, Yor Worship." He took off his helmet and tossed it onto the
boards. His hair was sandy, his face Scottish.

"Then take an oar, MacEwen. And heave to."

"Aye, Sor." The Scotsman ignored Morris' withering glare and quickly
took his place.

"You can row too, Colonel." Winston waved the pistol. "Barbados is
still a democracy, for at least a few more hours."

Morris said nothing, merely grimaced and reached for an oar.

Katherine laid her cheek against Winston's shoulder and looked
wistfully back toward the shore. "Everything we made, the
Commonwealth's going to take away now. Everything my father and I, and
all the others, worked so hard for together."

He held her against him as they moved out through the surf and across
the narrow band of water to the ship. In what seemed only moments the
longboat edged beneath the quartergallery and the _Defiance_ was
hovering above them.

"John, have the boys drop that short sail and weigh anchor

as soon as we're aboard. This westerly off the coast should get us
underway and past the blockade. We'll just keep her close hauled till
we've doubled the Point, then run up some more canvas."

"It'll be a miracle if we manage to take her by the Point in this sea,
and in the dark besides." Mewes was poised in the bow of the longboat.

"When we get aboard, I'll take the helm. You just get the canvas on
her."

"Aye." He reached up and seized a notch beneath a gunport, pulling the
longboat under the deadeyes that supported the mainmast shrouds. As he
began mounting the rope ladder he tossed the line up through the rain.

Winston had taken Katherine's arm to help her up when he heard a buzz
past his ear. Then, through the rain, came a faint pop, the report of a
musket.

"God's blood!" He turned back to look. Dimly through the rain he could
make out a line of helmeted infantrymen along the shore, muskets in
hand. They were disorganized, without a commander, but standing
alongside them and yelling orders was a heavy man in a wide black hat.
Benjamin Briggs.

"He betrayed us! He brought them right down to the bay. I wonder what
he's figuring to get in return? Doubtless a place in the new
government. We've got to . . ."

Before he could finish, Katherine had caught his arm and was pointing
over in the direction of the river mouth. "Hugh, wait. Do you see that?
There's someone out there. In the surf. I thought I noticed it before."

"More damned infantry?" He turned to stare. "They'd not try swimming
after us. They'd wait for longboats."

"I can't tell. It's over there, on the left. I think someone's trying
to wade out."

He squinted through the rain. A figure clad in white was waist deep in
the surf, holding what seemed to be a large bundle.



"That's no Roundhead. I'll wager it's likely Briggs' mulata. Though
she's just a little too late. I've a mind to leave her." He paused to
watch as a wave washed over the figure and sent it staggering backward.
Then another bullet sang past and he heard the shouts of Benjamin
Briggs.

"Maybe I owe a certain planter one last service."

"Cap'n, we've got to get this tub to sea." Mewes was crouching behind
the bulwarks of the _Defiance_. "Those damn'd Roundheads along the
shore don't have many muskets yet, but they're apt to be gettin'
reinforcements any time now. So if it's all the same, I don't think I'd
encourage waitin' around all night."

"John, how are the anchors?"

"I've already weighed the heavy one up by the bow." He called down.
"Say the word and we can just slip the cable on that little one at the
stern."

"Maybe we've got time." He pushed the longboat back away from the side
of the _Defiance_. As he reached for an oar, Morris threw down his
helmet and dove into the swell. In moments the commander was swimming
toward shore.

"Aye, he's gone, Yor Worship. He's a quick one, to be sure." The
Scottish infantryman gave only a passing glance as he threw his weight
against the oar. "You'll na be catching him, on my faith."

"And what about you?"

"With Yor Worship's leave, I'd as soon be stay in' on with you." He
gave another powerful stroke with the oar. "Where'er you're bound, 'tis
all one to me."

"What were you before? A seaman?"

"A landsman, Yor Worship, I'll own it. I was took in the battle of
Dunbar and impressed into the Roundhead army, made to come out here to
the Caribbees. But I've had a bellyful of these Roundheads and their
stinking troop ships, I swear it. I kept my pigs better at home. I'd
serve you like you was the king himself if you'd give me leave."

"MacEwen, wasn't it?"

"Aye, Yor Worship. At your service."

"Then heave to." Winston pulled at the other oar. Through the dark they
could just make out the bobbing form, now neck deep in the surf. She
was supporting the black arms of yet another body.

"Senhora!" Winston called through the rain.

The white-clad figure turned and stared blankly toward them. She seemed
overcome with exhaustion, unsure even where she was.

"_Espere um momento_. We'll come to you." He was shouting now in
Portuguese.

A musket ball sang off the side of the longboat as several infantrymen
began advancing down the shore in their direction. The Scotsman
hunkered beside the gunwales but did not miss a stroke of his oar as
they neared the bobbing heads in the water.

"Here, senhora." Winston reached down and grasped the arms of the body
Serina was holding. It was Atiba. While Katherine caught hold of her
shoulders and pulled her over the gunwale, MacEwen helped Winston hoist
the Yoruba, unconscious, onto the planking. He was still bleeding, his
breath faint.

"He is almost dead, senhor. And they have killed Derin." Serina was
half choked from the surf. "At first I was afraid to try bringing him.
But then I thought of what would happen if they took him, and I knew I
had . . ." She began mumbling incoherently as she bent over the slumped
form of Atiba, her mouth against his, as though to urge breath back
into him.

"Katy, the minute we're on board take them straight down to the cabin
and see if you can get a little brandy into him. Maybe it'll do some
good."

"I'll try, but I fear it's too late already. Let's just get underway."
She turned to look at the deck of the _Defiance_, where a line of
seamen had appeared with muskets.

The firing from the shore slowed now, as the infantry

melted back into the rain to avoid the barrage from the ship. By the
time their longboat was hoisted up over the side and lashed midships,
Morris had retreated to safety with his men.

While Mewes ordered the remaining anchor cable slipped and the mainsail
dropped, Katherine ushered Serina through the companionway to the Great
Cabin, followed by seamen carrying Atiba. Then the mast groaned against
the wind, a seaman on the quarterdeck unlashed the helm, and in moments
they had begun to pull away.

"That was easy." Mewes spat in the general direction of the scuppers,
then hoisted up his belt as he watched the rainswept shore begin to
recede.

"Could be Morris is just saving us for the frigates." Winston was
studying the bobbing mast lights off their portside bow. "He probably
figures they heard the gunfire and will realize something's afoot."

"They've got their share of ordnance, that much I'll warrant. There's
at least one two-decker still on station out there, the _Gloucester_. I
sailed on her once, back when I first got impressed by the damn'd navy,
twenty-odd years back. She's seen her years at sea, but she's got
plenty of cannon between decks for all that."

"I think you'd better have the portside guns primed and ready to run
out, just in case. But I figure once we get past the Point, we'll be
clear. After that we can steer north and ride this coastal westerly
right up to Speightstown, maybe heave-to there till the storm eases."
He turned and headed down the deck. "I'm going aft to take the
whipstaff. Get the yardmen aloft and damn the weather. I want the
maintop and all braces manned."

"Aye, you never know." Mewes yelled the gunnery orders through the open
hatch, then marched down the deck giving assignments.

Katherine was standing at the head of the companionway leading to the
Great Cabin as Winston passed on his way to the quarterdeck. "I've put
the African in your cabin, along with the mulatto woman." She caught
his arm as he headed up the steps. "She's delirious. And I think he's
all but dead. He's got a bad musket wound in his shoulder."

"Even if he dies now, it'll be better than what Briggs and the planters
had planned." He looked at her face and pushed aside a sudden desire to
take her into his arms, just to know she was his at last. "But see if
you can clean his wound with brandy. I'd hate to lose him now after all
the trouble we went to bringing him aboard."

"Why did you do it, Hugh? After all, he tried to kill you once, on this
very deck. I was here, remember."

"Who understands why we do anything? Maybe I like his brass. Maybe I
don't even know the reason anymore."

He turned and headed up the steps.



Serina lifted his cheek against her own, the salt from her tears
mingling with the sea water in his hair. The wound in his shoulder was
open now, sending a trickle of blood glistening across his chest. His
breathing was in spasms.

Shango, can you still hear me . . .?

"Try washing his wound with this." Katherine was standing above her, in
the dim light of the candle-lantern, holding a gray onion-flask of
brandy.

"Why are you helping me, senhora?" Serina looked up, her words a blend
of English and Portuguese. "You care nothing for him. Or for me."

"I . . . I want to." Katherine awkwardly pulled the cork from the
bottle, and the fiery fumes of the brandy enveloped them.

"Because the senhor told you to do it. That is the real reason." She
finally reached and took the bottle. "He is a good man. He risked his
life for us. He did not need to. No other _branco_ on this island would
have."

"Then you can repay him by doing what he asked. He said to clean the
wound."

Serina settled the bottle onto the decking beside the sleeping bunk,
then bent over and kissed the clan marks on Atiba's dark cheek. As she
did, the ship rolled awkwardly and a high wave dashed against the
quartergallery. Quickly she seized the neck of the flask and secured it
till they had righted.

"I think we will have to do it together."

"Together?"

"Never fear, senhora. Atiba's black skin will not smudge your white
Ingles hands."

"I never thought it would." Katherine impulsively reached down and
ripped off a portion of her skirt. Then she grabbed the flask and
pulled back his arm. While Serina held his shoulder forward, she doused
the wound with a stream of the brown liquor, then began to swab away
the encrusted blood with the cloth. His skin felt like soft leather,
supple to the touch, with hard ripples of muscles beneath.

The sting of the brandy brought an involuntary jerk. Atiba's eyes
opened and he peered, startled, through the gloom.

"Don't try to move." Quickly Serina bent over him, whispering softly
into his ear. "You are safe. You are on the _branco's_ ship."

He started to speak, but at that moment another wave crashed against
the stern and the ship lurched sideways. Atiba's eyes flooded with
alarm, and his lips formed a word.

"Dara . . ."

Serina laid her face next to his. "Don't talk. Please. Just rest now."
She tried to give him a drink of the brandy, but his eyes refused it.
Then more words came, faint and lost in the roar of the wind and the
groaning of the ancient boards of the _Defiance_. Finally his breath
seemed to dissolve as unconsciousness again drifted over him.

Katherine watched as Serina gently laid his head against the cushion on
the bunk, then fell to her knees and began to pray, mumbling foreign
words . . . not Portuguese. She found herself growing more and more
uneasy; something about the two of them was troubling, almost
unnatural. Finally she rose and moved to watch the sea through the
stern windows. Though the waves outside slammed ever more menacingly
against the quartergallery, as the storm was worsening noticeably, she
still longed for the wind in her face. Again she recalled her first
night here with Hugh, when they had looked out through this very window
together, in each other's arms. What would it be like to watch the sea
from this gallery now, she wondered, when the ocean and winds were
wild? She sighed and pulled open the latch.

What she saw took her breath away.

Off the portside, bearing down on them, was the outline of a tallmasted
English warship with two gun decks.

Before she could move, there were shouts from the quarterdeck above,
then the trampling of feet down the companionway leading to the waist
of the ship. He'd seen it too, and ordered his gun crews to station.

She pulled back from the window as a wave splashed across her face, and
a chill swept the room, numbing her fingers. She fumbled a moment
trying to secure the latch, then gave up and turned to head for the
door. If we're all to die, she told herself, I want to be up with Hugh,
on the quarterdeck. Oh God, why now? After all we've been through?

As she passed the lantern, she noticed Serina, still bent over the
African, still mumbling the strange words. . . .

"Do you know what's about to happen to us all!" The frustration was
more than she could contain. "Come back over here and take a look."

When the mulatto merely stared at her with a distant, glazed
expression, she strode to where she knelt and took her arm, pulling her
erect. While she was leading her toward the open window, she heard a
deep groaning rise up through the timbers of the frigate and knew the
cannon were being run out. Winston had ordered a desperate gamble; a
possible ordnance duel with a warship twice the burden of the
_Defiance_. Moving the guns now, when the seas were high, only
compounded their danger. If one broke loose from its tackles, it could
hurtle through the side of the ship, opening a gash that would surely
take enough water to sink them in minutes.

"Do you see, senhora?" She directed Serina's gaze out the open windows.
"If you want to pray, then pray that that man-of-war doesn't catch us.
Your African may soon be dead anyway, along with you and me too."

"What . . . will they do?" The mulatto studied the approaching warship,
her eyes only half seeing.

"I expect they'll pull alongside us if they can, then run out their
guns and . . ." She felt her voice begin to quiver.

"Then I will pray."

"Please do that." She whirled in exasperation and quickly shoved her
way out the door and into the companionway. As she mounted the slippery
ladder to the quarterdeck, she felt John Mewes brush past in the rain,
bellowing orders aloft. She looked up to see men perched along the
yards, clinging to thin ropes in the blowing rain as they loosened the
topgallants. The_ Defiance _was putting on every inch of canvas, in
weather where any knowing seaman would strike sail and heave-to.

"Good God, Katy, I wish you'd go back below decks. The Gloucester must
have spied our sail when we doubled the Point." Winston's voice sounded
through the rain. He was steering the ship all alone now, his shoulder
against the whipstaff. Off the portside the English warship, a gray
hulk with towering masts, was rapidly narrowing the distance between
them.

"Hugh, I want to be up here, with you." She grabbed onto a shroud to
keep her balance. "They're planning to try and sink us, aren't they?"

"Unless we heave-to. Which I have no intention of doing. So they'll
have to do just that if they expect to stop us. And I'd say they have
every intention of making the effort. Look." He pointed through the
rain. Now the line of gunport covers along the upper gun deck were
being raised. "They're making ready to start running out their
eighteen-pounders."

"What can we do?"

"First put on all the canvas we've got. Then get our own guns in order.
If we can't outrun them, we'll have to fight."

"Do you think we have a chance?" She studied the ship more closely. It
seemed to have twice the sail of the _Defiance_, but then it was
heavier and bulkier. Except for the _Rainbowe_, Cromwell had not sent
his best warships to the Americas. This one could be as old as Hugh's.

"I've outrun a few men-of-war before. But not in weather like this."

"Then I want to stay up here. And that mulatto woman you took on board
frightens me, almost as much as this."

"Then stay. For now. But if they get us in range, I want you below." He
glanced aloft, where men clinging to the swaying yards had just secured
the main tops'ls. As the storm worsened, more lightning flashed in the
west, bringing prayers and curses from the seamen. "The weather's about
as bad as it could be. I've never had the _Defiance_ under full sail
when it's been like this. I never want to again."

After the topgallants were unfurled and secured, they seemed to start
picking up momentum. The _Gloucester_ was still off their portside, but
far enough astern that she could not use her guns. And she was no
longer gaining.

"Maybe we can still outrun them?" She moved alongside Winston.

"There's a fair chance." He was holding the whipstaff on a steady
course. "But they've not got all their canvas on yet. They know it's
risky." He turned to study the warship and she saw the glimmer of hope
in his eyes, but he quickly masked it. "In good weather, they could
manage it. But with a storm like this, maybe not." He paused as the
lightning flared again. "Still, if they decide to chance the rest of
their sail . . ."

She settled herself against the binnacle to watch the _Gloucester_.
Then she noticed the warship's tops'ls being unfurled. Winston saw it
too. The next lightning flash revealed that the _Gloucester_ had now
begun to run out her upper row of guns, as the distance between them
slowly began to narrow once more.

"Looks as if they're going to gamble what's left of their running
rigging, Katy. I think you'd best be below."

"No, I . . ."

Winston turned and yelled toward the main deck, "John, pass the order.
If they pull in range, tell Canninge to just fire at will whenever the
portside guns bear. Same as when that revenue frigate _Royale_ once
tried to board us. Maybe he can cripple their gun deck long enough to
try and lose them in the dark."

"Aye." A muted cry drifted back through the howl of rain.

"Hugh, I love you." She touched the sleeve of his jerkin. "I think I
even know what it means now."

He looked at her, her hair tangled in the rain. "Katy, I love you
enough to want you below. Besides, it's not quite time to say our
farewells yet."

"I know what's next. They'll pull to windward of us and just fire away.
They'll shoot away our rigging till we're helpless, and then they'll
hole us till we take on enough water to go down."

"It's not going to be that easy. Don't forget we've got some ordnance
of our own. Just pray they can't set theirs in this sea."

Lightning flashed once more, glistening off the row of cannon on the
English warship. They had range now, and Katherine could see the
glimmer of lighted linstocks through the open gunports.

"Gracious Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly
thankful." John Mewes was mounting the quarterdeck to watch. "This
looks to be it, Cap'n."

"Just keep on praying, John. And get back down on deck. I want every
inch of sail on those yards."

"Aye, I'd like the same, save I don't know where exactly we've got any
more to put on, unless I next hoist my own linen." He crossed himself,
then headed down the companion way.

Suddenly a gun on the _Gloucester_ flared, sending an eighteen-pound
round shot through the upper sails of the _Defiance_, inches from the
maintop. Then again, and this time the edge of the fo'c'sle ripped
away, spraying splinters across the deck.

"John! Tell Canninge he'd better start firing the second his guns bear.
And he'd best be damned quick on it too." Even as he spoke, a roar
sounded from below and the deck tilted momentarily sideways. Katherine
watched as a line of shot splintered into the planking along the side
of the _Gloucester_, between her gun decks.

"Damn, he came close." Winston studied the damage. "But not close
enough."

Again the lightning flashed, nearer now, a wide network across the
heavens, and she saw the _Gloucester's_ captain standing on his own
quarterdeck, nervously staring aloft at the storm.

"Katy, please go below. This is going to get very bad. If they catch
this deck, there'll be splinters everywhere. Not to mention ..."

The _Gloucester's _guns flamed again. She felt the deck tremble as an
eighteen-pound shot slammed into the side of the _Defiance_, up near
the bow.

"John, let's have some more of those prayers." Winston yelled down
again. "And while you're at it, tell Canninge to give them another
round the second he's swabbed out. He's got to hurt that upper gun deck
soon or we're apt to be in for a long night."

"Hugh, can't we . . ." She stopped as she saw a figure in a
bloodstained white shift slowly moving up the companionway.

"Good Christ." He had seen it too. "Katy, try and keep her the hell off
the quarterdeck and out of the way."

While he threw his shoulder against the whipstaff and began shouting
more orders to Mewes on the main deck, Serina mounted the last step.
She moved across the planking toward them, her eyes glazed, even more
than before. "Come below, senhora." Katherine reached out for her. "You
could be hurt."

The mulata's hand shot up and seized her arm with an iron grip.
Katherine felt her feet give way, and the next thing she knew she had
been flung sideways against the hard rope shrouds.

"_E pada nibi!_" The voice was deep, chilling. Then she turned and
advanced menacingly on Winston.

"God damn you!" He shoved her back, then reached to help Katherine.
"Katy, are you all right? Just watch out for her. I wager she's gone
mad after all that's happened. If we get time I'll have some of the
boys come and take her below."

Again the _Gloucester's_ guns flared, and a whistle sang across the
quarterdeck as the shot clipped the railing next to where they were
standing. Serina stared wildly at the shattered rail, then at the
English man-of-war. Her eyes seemed vacant, as though looking through
all she saw.

"Good Christ, Katy, take a look at those skies." Winston felt a chill
in his bowels as the lightning blossomed again. "The wind is changing;
I can feel it. Something's happening. If we lose a yard, or tear a
sail, they'll take us in a minute. All it needs is one quick shift, too
much strain."

As if in response to his words, the hull shuddered, then pitched
backward, and Katherine heard a dull crack from somewhere in the
rigging.

"Christ." Winston was staring aloft, his face washed in the rain.

She followed his gaze. The mainmast had split, just below the maintop.
The topsail had fallen forward, into the foremast, and had ripped
through the foresail. A startled main-topman was dangling helplessly
from the side of his round perch. Then something else cracked, and he
tumbled toward the deck, landing in the middle of a crowd of terrified
seamen huddled by the fo'c'sle door.

"I knew we couldn't bear full sail in this weather. We've just lost a
good half of our canvas." He looked back. "You've got to go below now.
Please. And see if you can somehow take that woman with you. We're in
very bad trouble. If I was a religious man, I'd be on my knees praying
right now."

The _Gloucester's_ guns spoke once more, and a shot clipped the
quartergallery only feet below where they were, showering splinters
upward through the air.

"Atiba!" Serina was staring down over the railing, toward the hole that
had been ripped in the corner of the Great Cabin beneath them.

Then she looked out at the warship, and the hard voice rose again.
"_Iwo ko lu oniran li oru o nlu u li ossan?"_ Finally her eyes flared
and she shouted through the storm, "_Shango. Oyinbo I'o je!"_

Once more the lightning came.



Later he wondered if he might have been praying after all. He
remembered how the fork of fire slid down the mainmast of the
_Gloucester_, then seemed to envelop the maintop, sending smoke
billowing through the tops'ls above. Next it coiled about the mainmast
shrouds.

In moments her main tops'l was aflame, as though she'd been caught with
fire-arrows. Soon a tongue of the blaze flicked downward and ignited
her main course. After that the shrouds began to smolder. Almost
immediately her seamen began furling the other sails, and all open
gunports were quickly slammed down to stop any shreds of burning canvas
from accidentally reaching the gun deck. Next the helmsman threw his
weight against the whipstaff to try and take her off the wind.

She was still underway, like a crippled fireship bearing down on them,
and for a moment Winston thought they were in even greater danger than
before. But then the _Gloucester's _mainmast slowly toppled forward as
the shrouds gave way, tearing into the other rigging, and she heeled.
It was impossible to see what followed, because of the rain, but
moments later burning spars were drifting across the waves.

"It was the hand of Providence, as I'm a Christian." John Mewes was
mounting the quarterdeck, solemn and subdued. A crowd of stunned seamen
were following him to gain a better view astern. "The Roundhead
whoresons were tempting fate. They should've known better than puttin'
to sea with topmasts like those in this damn'd weather. Heaven knows, I
could have told them."

There was a murmur of assent from the others. They stood praising the
beneficence of God and watched as the last burning mast disappeared
into the rain.

After Winston had lashed the whipstaff in place and ordered the sails
shortened, he collapsed against the binnacle.

"It was a miracle, Hugh." Katherine wrapped an arm about him. Her
bodice was soaked with rain and sweat. "I think I was praying. When I'd
all but forgotten how."

"I've heard of it happening, God knows. But I've never before seen it.
Just think. If we'd had taller masts, we could well have caught it
ourselves."

Now the mood was lightening, as congratulations began to pass among the
men. It was only then Katherine noticed the white shift at their feet.
The mulatto was crumpled beside the binnacle, still as death.

"John, have somebody come and take that woman below." Winston glanced
down. "She looks to have fainted."

"Aye. I was near to faintin' myself, truth to tell."

Finally Winston pulled himself up and surveyed the seamen. "I say well
done, masters, one and all. So let's all have a word of thanks to the
Almighty . . . and see if we can locate a keg of brandy. This crew has
earned it."

Katherine leaned against him as she watched the cheering men head for
the main deck. "Where can we go now, Hugh?

There'll soon be a price on our heads in every English settlement from
Virginia to Bermuda."

"From the shape of our rigging, I'd guess we're going nowhere for a day
or so. We've got to heave-to till the weather lets up, and try to mend
those sails. After that I figure we'd best steer north, hope to beat
the fleet up to Nevis, where we can careen and maybe lay in some more
victuals."

"And then are you really going to try your scheme about Jamaica? With
just the men you've got here?"

"Not just yet. You're right about the men. We don't have enough now."
He lowered his voice. "So I'm thinking we'll have to make another stop
first."

"Where?"

"There's only one place I know of where we can still find what we'll be
needing." He slipped his arm about her waist. "A little island off the
north coast of Hispaniola."

"You don't mean Tortuga? The Cow-Killers . . ."

"Now Katy, there's no better time than now to start learning what
they're called over there on that side of the Caribbean. I know the
Englishmen here in the Caribbees call them the Cow-Killers, but over
there we were always known by our French name."

"What's that?"

"Sort of an odd one. You see, since we cured our meat Indian-style, on
those greenwood grills they called _boucans_, most seamen over there
knew us as the _boucaniers_. And that's the name we kept when we
started sailing against the Spaniards."

"You mean . . .?"

"That's right. Try and remember it. Buccaneer."



Book Three



TORTUGA / JAMAICA



Chapter Twenty


The sun emerged from the distant edge of the sea, burning through the
fine mist that hung on the horizon. Katherine was standing on the high
quartergallery, by the railing at the stern, the better to savor the
easterly breeze that tousled her hair and fluttered the cotton sleeves
of her seaman's shirt. The quiet of the ship was all but complete, with
only the rhythmic splash of waves against the bow and the occasional
groan from the masts.

She loved being on deck to watch the dawn, out of the sweltering gloom
of the Great Cabin. This morning, when the first light of day
brightened the stern windows, she'd crept silently from their narrow
bunk, leaving Hugh snoring contentedly. She'd made her way up to the
quarterdeck, where John Mewes dozed beside the steering house where he
was to monitor the weathered grey whipstaff, lashed secure on a course
due west.

Now she gazed out over the swells, past the occasional white-caps that
dotted the blue, and tasted the cool, moist air. During the voyage she
had learned how to read the cast of the sea, the sometimes fickle
Caribbean winds, the hidden portent in the color of clouds and sun.
She'd even begun practicing how to take latitude with the quadrant.

Suddenly a porpoise surfaced along the stern, then another, and
together they began to pirouette in the wake of the ship like spirited
colts. Was there any place else in the world, she wondered, quite like
the Caribbean? She never tired of watching for the schools of flying
fish that would burst from the sea's surface like flushed grouse,
seemingly in chase of the great barracuda that sometimes flashed past
the bow. And near the smaller islands, where shallow reefs turned the
coastal waters azure, she had seen giant sea turtles, green
leatherbacks and rusty-brown loggerheads, big as tubs and floating
languorously on the surface.

The wildness of the islands and sea had begun to purge her mind, her
memory. Fresh mornings like this had come to seem harbingers of a new
life as well as a new day, even as the quick, golden-hued sunsets
promised Hugh's warm embrace.

After Barbados they'd made sail for Nevis Island, and as they neared
the small log-and-clapboard English settlement along its southern
shore, the skies had finally become crystalline and dry, heralding the
end of the autumn rainy season. They lingered in the island's reef-
bound harbor almost three weeks while Winston careened the _Defiance_
and stripped away her barnacles, scorched the lower planks with burning
branches to kill shipworm, then caulked all her leaky seams with hemp
and pitch. Finally he'd laded in extra barrels of salt beef, biscuit,
and fresh water. They were all but ready to weigh anchor the day a
Dutch merchantman put in with word that the Commonwealth fleet had
begun preparations to depart Barbados.

Why so soon, they puzzled. Where were Cromwell's warships bound for
now?

Wherever the fleet's next destination, it scarcely mattered. The
American rebellion was finished. After word spread through Nevis and
St. Christopher that Barbados had capitulated, all the planters' talk
of _Defiance_ evaporated. If the largest English settlement in the
Americas could not stand firm, they reasoned, what chance did the small
ones have? A letter pledging fealty to Commons was dispatched to the
fleet by the Assembly of those two sister islands. That step taken,
they hoped Calvert would bypass them with his hungry army and sail
directly for Virginia, whose blustering royalists everyone now expected
to also yield without a murmur.

Still, after news came that the troops were readying to move out,
Katherine had agreed with Winston that they shouldn't chance being
surprised at Nevis. Who could tell when the Commonwealth's warships
might suddenly show themselves on the southern horizon? The next
morning they weighed anchor, heading north for the first two hundred
leagues, then steering due west. That had been six days ago. . . .

"You're lookin' lovely this morning, m'lady." John Mewes' groggy voice
broke the silence as he started awake, then rose and stretched and
ambled across the quarterdeck toward the bannister where she stood.
"I'd say there she is, sure as I'm a Christian." He was pointing south,
in the direction of the dim horizon, where a grey-green land mass had
emerged above the dark waters. "The pride of the Spaniards."

"What is it, John?"

"Why, that's apt to be none other than Hispaniola, Yor Ladyship. Plain
as a pikestaff. An' right on schedule." He bellied against the
bannister and yawned. "Doesn't look to have budged an inch since last I
set eyes on her."

She smiled. "Then that must mean we're nearing Tortuga. By the map, I
remember it's just off the north coast, around latitude twenty."

"Aye, we'll likely be raisin' the old 'Turtle' any time now. Though in
truth I'd as soon ne'er see the place again."

"Why do you say that?"

"'Tis home and hearth of the finest assembly of thieves as you're e'er
like to cross this side of Newgate prison. An' that's the fact of the
matter."

"Are you trying to make me believe you've actually been there, John?"
She regarded him carefully. John Mewes, she had come to realize, was
never at a loss for a story to share--though his distinction between
truth and fancy was often imprecise.

"Aye,'twas some years past, as the sayin' goes. When the merchantman I
was quartermaster on put in for a week to careen." He spat into the sea
and hitched up the belt on his breeches.

"What exactly was it like?"

"A brig out of Portsmouth. A beamy two master, with damn'd seams that'd
opened on us wide as a Dutch whore's cunny--beggin' Yor Ladyship's
pardon--which is why we had to put in to caulk her . . ."

"Tortuga, John."

"Aye, the Turtle. Like I was sayin', she's the Sodom of the Indies,
make no mistake. Fair enough from afar, I grant you, but try and put
in, an' you'll find out soon enough she's natural home for the rogue
who'd as soon do without uninvited company. That's why that nest of
pirates has been there so long right under the very nose of the pox-
rotted Spaniards. Mind you, she's scarcely more than twenty or thirty
miles tip to tip, but the north side's a solid cliff, lookin' down on
the breakers, whilst the other's just about nothing save shallow flats
an' mangrove thickets. There's only one bay where you can put in with a
frigate, a spot called Basse Terre, there on the south--that is, if you
can steer through the reefs that line both sides of the channel goin'
into it. But once you're anchored,'tis a passing good harbor, for it
all. Fine sandy bottom, with draft that'll take a seventy-gun brig."

"So that's how the Cow-Killers . . . the buccaneers have managed to
keep the island? There's only one spot the Spaniards could try and land
infantry, and to get there you've got to go through a narrow passage in
the reefs, easy to cover with cannon?"

"I'd say that's about the size of it. No bottom drops anchor at Tortuga
unless those rogues say you aye." He turned and began to secure a loose
piece of line dangling from the shroud supporting the mizzenmast. "Then
too there's your matter of location. You see, m'lady, the island lays
right athwart the Windward Passage, betwixt Hispaniola and Cuba, which
is one of the Spaniards' main shippin' lanes. Couldn't be handier if
you're thinkin' to lighten a Papist merchantman now and again. . . ."

Mewes' voice trailed off as he glanced up to see Winston emerge at the
head of the companionway, half asleep and still shirtless under his
jerkin. Following after him was Atiba, wearing a pair of ill-fitting
seaman's breeches, his bare shoulders glistening in the sun's early
glow. When he spotted Mewes, he gave a solemn bow, Yoruba style.

"_Ku abo_, senhor."

"Aye, _qu ava_ it is." Mewes nodded back, then turned to Katherine.
"Now, for your edification that means 'greetings,' or such like. Since
I've been teachin' him English, I've been pickin' up a few of the finer
points of that African gabble of his, what with my natural gift for
language."

"God's life, you are learning fastly, Senhor Mewes." Atiba smiled. "And
since you are scholaring my tongue so well, mayhaps I should cut some
of our clan marks on your mug, like mine. It is a damnable great
ceremony of my country."

"Pox on your 'damnable great ceremonies.'" Mewes busied himself with
the shroud. "I'll just keep my fine face the way it is, and thank you
kindly all the same."

Winston sleepily kissed Katherine on the forehead.

She gave him a long hug, then pointed toward the south. "John claims
that's Hispaniola."

"One and the same. The queen of the Greater Antilles. Take a good look,
Katy. I used to hunt cattle in those very woods. That mountain range
over in mid-island means we should raise Tortuga any time now." He
turned and began unlashing the whipstaff, then motioned Atiba forward.
"Want to try the helm for a while? To get the feel of her?"

"My damnable shoulder is good, senhor. I can set a course with this
stick, or cut by a sword, as better than ever."

"We'll see soon enough." He watched Atiba grasp the long hardwood lever
and test it. "I just may need you along to help me reason with my old
friend Jacques."

"Hugh, tell me some more about what he's like." Katherine took another
look at the hazy outline of Hispaniola, then moved alongside them.

"Jacques le Basque?" Winston smiled and thought back. Nobody knew where
Jacques was from, or who he was. They were all refugees from some other
place, and most went by assumed names--even he had been known simply as
"Anglais." "I'd guess he's French, but I never really knew all that
much about him, though we hunted side by side for a good five years."
He thumbed toward the green mountains. "But I can tell you one thing
for sure: Jacques le Basque created a new society on northern
Hispaniola, and Tortuga."

"What do you mean?"

"Katy, you talked about having an independent nation in the Americas, a
place not under the thumb of Europe? Well, he made one right over
there. We _boucaniers_ were a nation of sorts--shipwrecked seamen,
runaway indentures, half of them with jail or a noose waiting in one of
the other settlements. But any man alive was welcome to come and go as
he liked."

Katherine examined his lined face. "Hugh, you told me you once tried to
kill Jacques over some misunderstanding. But you never explained
exactly what it was about."

Winston fell silent and the only sound was the lap of waves against the
bow. Maybe, he told himself, the time has come. He took a deep breath
and turned to her. "Remember how I told you the Spaniards came and
burned out the Providence Company's English settlement on Tortuga? As
it happened, I was over on Hispaniola with Jacques at the time or I
probably wouldn't be here now. Well, the Spaniards stayed around for a
week or so, and troubled to hang some of Jacques's lads who happened in
with a load of hides. When we found out about it, he called a big
parlay over what we ought to do. All the hunters came--French, English,
even some Dutchmen. Every man there hated the Spaniards, and we decided
to pull together what cannon were left and fortify the harbor at Basse
Terre, in case they got a mind to come back."

"And?"

"Then after some time went by Jacques got the idea we ought not just
wait for them. That wed best try and take the fight back. So he sent
word around the north side of Hispaniola that any man who wanted to
help should meet him on Tortuga. When everybody got there, he announced
we needed to be organized, like the Spaniards. Then he stove open a keg
of brandy and christened us Les Freres de la Cote, the Brotherhood of
the Coast. After we'd all had a tankard or two, he explained he wanted
to try and take a Spanish ship."

"You mean he sort of declared war on Spain?"

"As a matter of fact, that's how it turned out." He smiled. "Jacques
said we'd hunted the Spaniards' cattle long enough; now we would hunt
the whoreson Spaniards themselves. We'd sail under our old name of
_boucanier_, and he swore that before we were through nobody would
remember the time it only meant cow hunters. We'd make it the most
dreaded word a Spaniard could hear."

John Mewes was squinting toward the west now, past the bowsprit.
Abruptly he secured a last knot in the shroud, then headed down the
companionway and past the seamen loitering by the mainmast.

"And that was the beginning? When the Cow-Killers became sea rovers and
pirates?" For some reason the story made her vaguely uneasy. "You were
actually there? A part of it?"

"I was there." Winston paused to watch Mewes.

"So then you . . . joined them?"

"No particular reason not to. The damned Spaniards had just murdered
some of ours, Katy, not to mention about six hundred English settlers.
I figured why not give them a taste back? Besides, it looked to be the
start of a grand adventure. We got together as many arms as we could
muster, muskets and axes, and put to sea. Us against the Spaniards . .
."

"Cap'n, care to come forward an' have a look?" Mewes was pointing at
the dark green hump that had just appeared on the horizon. "That looks
to be her, if I'm not amiss."

Winston turned to study the sea ahead of them. Just above the surface
of the sea was the tip of a large hump, deep green like a leatherback
turtle.

"Aye. Maybe youd best order all hands to station for the afternoon
watch, John." He reached back and kissed Katherine lightly. "Katy, the
rest of this little tale will have to wait. We've got to get ready now.
In truth, I don't exactly know how pleased my old friend Jacques is
going to be seeing me again after all these years."

As she watched him head down the companionway, she felt a curious
mixture of excitement and unease. Now, all at once, she was wondering
if she really did want to know what Hugh had been like back then.
Perhaps, she told herself, there are some things better just forgotten.



_"Bon soir, Capitaine_." A young man carrying a candle-lantern was
standing at the water's edge to greet their longboat as Winston, John
Mewes, and Atiba, backed by five seamen with flintlocks, rowed in to
the shallows. "Tibaut de Fontenay, _a votre service, Messieurs_. We
spotted your mast lights from up at the Forte. Since you seemed to know
the reefs, we assumed you had been here before. So you are welcome."

He appeared to be in his early twenties and was attired lavishly--a
plumed hat topped his long curls, his long velvet waistcoat was parted
rakishly to display an immaculate white cravat, and high, glistening
boots shaped his calves. The dull glow of the lantern illuminated an
almost obsequious grin.

Around them the dark outlines of a dozen frigates nodded in the light
swell, while lines of foam, sparkling in the moonlight, chased up the
shore. The _Defiance_ had been the last vessel to navigate Basse
Terre's narrow channel of reefs before the quick Caribbean dusk
descended.

"The name is Winston. Master of the _Defiance_." He slid over the
gunwale of the longboat and waded through the light surf. "Late of
Barbados and Nevis."

"_Bienvenue_." The man examined him briefly, then smiled again as he
extended his hand and quickly shifted to heavily-accented English.
"Your affairs, _Capitaine_, are of course no concern to us here. Any
man who comes in peace is welcome at La Tortue, in the name of His
Majesty, King Louis Quatorze of France."

"What the devil!" Winston drew back his hand and stared up at the
lantern-lit assemblage of taverns along the shore. "Tortuga is French
now?"

"_Mais oui_, for the better part of a year. The _gouverneur_ of St.
Christophe--the French side--found it necessary to dispatch armed
frigates and take this island under his authority. The Anglais
_engages_ planting here were sent on their way; they are fortunate we
did not do worse. But ships of all nations are always invited to trade
for our fine hides, brasil wood for making dye, and the most succulent
_viande fumee_ you will taste this side of Paris." He bowed lightly,
debonairly. "Or Londres. We also have a wide assortment of items in
Spanish gold for sale here--and we have just received a shipload of
lovely mademoiselles from Marseilles to replace the diseased English
whores who had come near to ruining this port's reputation."

"We don't need any provisions, and we don't have time for any
entertainment this stop. The _Defiance_ is just passing through, bound
for the Windward Passage. I'd thought to put in for tonight and have a
brandy with an old friend. Jacques le Basque. Know if he's around?"

"My master?" The man quickly raised his lantern to scrutinize Winston's
face. "He does not normally receive visitors at the Forte, but you may
send him your regards through me. I will be happy to tell him a
Capitaine Winston ..."

"What in hell are you talking about? What 'fort' is that?"

"Forte de la Roche, 'the fort on the rock,' up there." He turned to
point through the dark. On a hill overlooking the harbor a row of
torches blazed, illuminating a battery of eighteen-pound culverin set
above a high stone breastwork.

"When was that built? It wasn't here before."

"Only last year, Capitaine. Part of our new fortifications. It is the
residence of our _commandant de place_.

"Your _commandant_ . . ." Winston stopped dead still. "You've got a
governor here now?"

"_Oui_." He smiled. "In fact, you are fortunate. He is none other than
your friend Jacques. He was appointed to the post last year by the
Chevalier de Poncy of St. Christophe, administrator of all our French
settlements in the Caribbean." He examined the men in the longboat, his
glance anxiously lingering on Atiba, who had a shiny new cutlass
secured at his waist. "May I take it you knew Jacques well?"

"I knew him well enough in the old days, back before he arranged to
have himself appointed governor. But then I see times have changed."

"Many things have changed here, Capitaine."

"I'll say they have." Winston signaled for Atiba to climb out of the
longboat. "But my friend and I are going up to this 'Forte' and pay a
visit to Commandant le Basque, and you can save your messages and
diplomatic papers. He knows who I am."

De Fontenay stiffened, not quite sure how to reply. As he did, a band
of seamen emerged out of the dark and came jostling down the sandy
shore toward them, carrying candle-lanterns and tankards and singing an
English chantey with convivial relish.



_". . . We took aboard the Captain's daughter, And gave her fire 'twixt
wind and water . . ."

_

Several were in pairs, their arms about each other's shoulders. All
were garbed in a flamboyant hodgepodge of European fashions--gold rings
and medallions, stolen from the passengers of Spanish merchant
frigates, glistened in the lantern light. Most wore fine leather sea
boots; a few were barefoot.

The man at their head was carrying a large keg. When he

spotted the bobbing longboat, he motioned the procession to a halt,
tossed the keg onto the sand, and sang out an invitation.

"Welcome to you, masters. There's a virgin pipe of Spanish brandy here
we're expectin' to violate. We'd not take it amiss if you'd help us to
our work."

He drew a pistol from his belt and swung its gold-trimmed butt against
the wooden stopper in the bunghole, knocking it inward.

"_No, Monsieur. Merci. Bien des remerciements_." De Fontenay's voice
betrayed a faint quaver. "I regret we have no time.  I and my good
friend, the Anglais here . . ."

"I wasn't asking you to drink, you arse-sucking French pimp." The man
with the pistol scowled as he recognized de Fontenay. "I'd not spare
you the sweat off my bollocks if you were adyin' of thirst." He turned
toward Winston. "But you and your lads are welcome, sir, whoever you
might be. I'll wager no honest Englishman ever declined a cup in good
company. My name is Guy Bartholomew, and if you know anything of this
place, you'll not have to be told I'm master of the _Swiftsure_, the
finest brig in this port."

Winston examined him in the flickering light. Yes, it was Guy
Bartholomew all right. He'd been one of the original _boucaniers_, and
he'd hated Jacques from the first.

"Permit me to introduce Capitaine Winston of the _Defiance_,
Messieurs." De Fontenay tried to ignore Bartholomew's pistol. "He has
asked me personally to . . ."

"Winston? The _Defiance_? God's wounds." Bartholomew doffed his black
hat. "Let me drink to your good health. Captain." He paused to fill his
tankard with the dark brown liquid spilling from the keg, then hoisted
it in an impromptu toast.

"You don't remember me from before, Bartholomew? Back on Hispaniola?"

The boucanier stared at him drunkenly. "No, sir. I can't rightly say as
I do. But yours is a name known well enough in this part of the world,
that's for certain. You wouldn't be planning to do a bit of sailing
from this port, would you now? 'Twould be a pleasure to have you
amongst us."

"Monsieur," De Fontenay was edging on up the hill, "Capitaine Winston
is a personal friend of our commandant, and we must . . ."

"A friend of Jacques?" Bartholomew studied Winston's face. "I'd not
believe any such damn'd lies and calumnies of an honest Englishman like
you, sir."

"I knew him many years past, Bartholomew. I hope he remembers me better
than you do. Though I'm not sure he still considers me a friend after
our little falling out."

"Well, sir, I can tell you this much. Things have changed mightily
since the old days. Back then he only stole from the pox-eaten
Spaniards. Now he and that French bastard de Poncy rob us all. They
take a piece of all the Spaniards' booty we bring in, and then Jacques
demands another ten percent for himself, as his 'landing fee.' He even
levies a duty on all the hides the hunters bring over from Hispaniola
to sell."

De Fontenay glared. "There must always be taxes, anywhere. Jacques is
commandant now, and the Chevalier de Poncy has ..."

"Commandant?" Bartholomew snorted. "My lads have another name for him,
sir. If he ever dared come down here and meet us, the Englishmen in
this port would draw lots to see who got the pleasure of cutting his
throat. He knows we can't sail from any other settlement. It's only
because he's got those guns up there at the fort, covering the bay, and
all his damned guards, that he's not been done away with long before
now." He turned back to Winston. "The bastard's made himself a dungeon
up there beneath the rock, that he calls Purgatory. Go against him and
that's where you end up. Few men have walked out of it alive, I'll tell
you that."

De Fontenay shifted uneasily and toyed with a curl. "Purgatory will not
be there forever, I promise you."

"So you say. But you may just wind up there yourself one day soon, sir,
and then we'll likely hear you piping a different tune. Even though you
are his _matelot_, which I'll warrant might more properly be called his
whore."

"What I am to Jacques is no affair of yours."

"Aye, I suppose the goings-on in the fort are not meant to be known to
the honest ships' masters in this port. But we still have eyes, sir,
for all that. I know you're hoping that after Jacques is gone, that
Frenchman de Poncy will make you commandant of this place, this
stinking piss-hole. Just because the Code of the _boucaniers_ makes you
Jacques' heir. But it'll not happen, sir, by my life. Never."

"Monsieur, enough._ Suffit_!" De Fontenay spat out the words, then
turned back to Winston. "Shall we proceed up to the Forte?" He gestured
toward the hill ahead. "Or do you intend to stay and spend the night
talking with these Anglais _cochons_?"

"My friend, do beware of that old bastard." Bartholomew caught
Winston's arm, and his voice grew cautionary. "God Almighty, I could
tell you such tales. He's daft as a loon these days. I'd be gone from
this place in a minute if I could just figure how."

"He tried to kill me once, Master Bartholomew, in a little episode you
might recall if you set your mind to it. But I'm still around." Winston
nodded farewell, then turned back toward the longboat. John Mewes sat
nervously waiting, a flintlock across his lap. "John, take her on back
and wait for us. Atiba's coming with me. And no shore leave for anybody
till morning."

"Aye." Mewes eyed the drunken seamen as he shoved off. "See you mind
yourself, Cap'n. I'll expect you back by sunrise or I'm sendin' the
lads to get you."

"Till then." Winston gestured Atiba to move alongside him, then turned
back to De Fontenay. "Shall we go."

"_Avec plaisir, Capitaine_. These Anglais who sail for us can be most
_dangereux_ when they have had so much brandy." The young Frenchman
paused as he glanced uncertainly at Atiba. The tall African towered by
Winston's side. "Will your . . . _gentilhomme de service_ be
accompanying you?"

"He's with me."

"_Bon_. "He cleared his throat. "As you wish."

He lifted his lantern and, leaving Bartholomew's men singing on the
shore, headed up the muddy, torch-lit roadway leading between the
cluster of taverns that comprised the heart of Basse Terre's commercial
center.

"How long has it been since you last visited us, Capitaine?" De
Fontenay glanced back. "I have been _matelot_ to Jacques for almost
three years, but I don't recall the pleasure of welcoming you before
this evening."

"It's been a few years. Back before Jacques became governor. "

"Was this your home once, senhor?" Atiba was examining the shopfronts
along the street, many displaying piles of silks and jewelry once
belonging to the passengers on Spanish merchantmen. Along either side,
patched-together taverns and brothels spilled their cacophony of songs,
curses, and raucous fiddle music into the muddy paths that were
streets.

Winston laughed. "Well, it was scarcely like this. There used to be
thatched huts along here and piles of hides and smoked beef ready for
barter. All you could find to drink in those days was a tankard of
cheap kill-devil. But the main difference is the fort up there, which
is a noticeable improvement over that rusty set of culverin we used to
have down along the shore."

"I gather it must have been a very long time ago. Monsieur, that you
were last here." De Fontenay was moving hurriedly past the rickety
taverns, heading straight for the palm-lined road leading up the hill
to the fort.

"Probably some ten years or so."

"Then I wonder if Jacques will still remember you."

Winston laughed. "I expect he does."

De Fontenay started purposefully up the road. About six hundred yards
from the shoreline the steep slope of a hill began. The climb was long
and tortuous, and the young Frenchman was breathing heavily by the time
they were halfway up.

"This place is damnable strong, senhor. Very hard to attack,

even with guns." Atiba shifted the cutlass in his belt and peered up
the hill, toward the line of torches. He was moving easily, his bare
feet molding to the rough rock steps.

"It could never be stormed from down below, that much is sure." Winston
glanced back. "But we're not here to try and take this place. He can
keep Tortuga and bleed it dry for all I care. I'll just settle for some
of those men I saw tonight. If they want to part company with him . .
."

"Those whoresons are not lads who fight," Atiba commented. "They are
drunkards."

"They can fight as well as they drink." Winston smiled. "Don't let the
brandy fool you."

"Your _brancos_ are a damnable curiosity, senhor." He grunted. "I am
waiting to see how my peoples here live, the slaves."

"The _boucaniers_ don't cut cane, so they don't have slaves."

"Then mayhaps I will drink with them."

"You'd best hold that till after we're finished with Jacques, my
friend." Winston glanced up toward the fort. "Just keep I your cutlass
handy."

They had reached the curving row of steps that led through the arched
gateway of the fortress. Above them a steep wall of cut stone rose up
against the dark sky, and across the top, illuminated by torches, was
the row of culverin. Sentries armed with flintlocks, in helmets and
flamboyant Spanish coats, barred the gateway till de Fontenay waved
them aside. Then guards inside unbolted the iron gate and they moved up
the final stairway.

Winston realized the fort had been built on a natural plateau, with
terraces inside the walls which would permit several hundred musketmen
to fire unseen down on the settlement below. From somewhere in the back
he could hear the gurgle of a spring--meaning a supply of fresh water,
one of the first requirements of a good fortress.

Jacques had found a natural redoubt and fortified it brilliantly. All
the settlement and the harbor now were under his guns. Only

the mountain behind, a steep precipice, had any vantage over Forte de
la Roche.

"Senhor, what is that?" Atiba was pointing toward the massive boulder,
some fifty feet wide and thirty feet high, that rested in the center of
the yard as though dropped there by the hand of God.

Winston studied it, puzzling, then noticed a platform atop the rock,
with several cannon projecting out. A row of brick steps led halfway up
the side, then ended abruptly. When they reached the base, de Fontenay
turned back.

"The citadel above us is Jacques's personal residence, what he likes to
call his 'dovecote.' It will be necessary for you to wait here while I
ask him to lower the ladder."

"The ladder?"

"_Mais oui_, a security measure. No one is allowed up there without his
consent."

He called up, identified himself, and after a pause the first rungs of
a heavy iron ladder appeared through an opening in the platform. Slowly
it began to be lowered toward the last step at the top of the stair.

Again de Fontenay hesitated. "Perhaps it might be best if I go first,
Messieurs. Jacques is not fond of surprises."

"He never was." Winston motioned for Atiba to stay close.

De Fontenay hung his lantern on a brass spike at the side of the
stairs, then turned and lightly ascended the rungs. From the platform
above, two musketmen covered his approach with flintlocks. He saluted
them, then disappeared.

As Winston waited, Atiba at his side, he heard a faint human voice, a
low moaning sound, coming from somewhere near their feet. He looked
down and noticed a doorway at the base of the rock, leading into what
appeared to be an excavated chamber. The door was of thick hewn logs
with only a small grate in its center.

Was that, he wondered, the dungeon Bartholomew called Purgatory?

Suddenly he felt an overwhelming sense of anger and betrayal at what
Jacques had become. Whatever else he might have been, this was the man
whose name once stood for freedom. And now . . .

He was turning to head down and inspect Purgatory first-hand when a
welcome sounded from the platform above.

"_Mon ami! Bienvenue_, Anglais. _Mon Dieu, il y a tres long-temps!_ A
good ten years, _n 'est-ce pas_?" A bearded face peered down, while a
deep voice roared with pleasure. "Perhaps you've finally learned
something about how to shoot after all this time. Come up and let me
have a look at you."

"And maybe you've improved your aim, Jacques. Your last pistol ball
didn't get you a hide." Winston turned back and reached for the ladder.

"_Oui_, truly it did not, Anglais. How near did I come?" He extended a
rough hand as Winston emerged.

"Close enough." Winston stepped onto the platform of the citadel.

In the flickering torchlight he recognized the old leader of the
_boucaniers_, now grown noticeably heavier; his thick beard, once black
as onyx, was liberally threaded with white. He sported a ruffled
doublet of red silk and had stuffed his dark calico breeches into
bucket-top sea boots of fine Spanish leather. The gold rings on several
fingers glistened with jewels, and the squint in his eyes was deep and
malevolent.

Le Basque embraced Winston, then drew back and studied his scar. "_Mon
Dieu_, so I came closer than I thought. _Mes condoleances_. I must have
been sleepy that morning. I'd fully intended to take your head."

"How about some of your French brandy, you old _batard_? For me and my
friend. By the look of things, I'd say you can afford it."

"_Vraiment_. Brandy for the Anglais . . . and his friend." The
boucanier nodded warily as he saw Atiba appear at the top of the
ladder. After a moment's pause, he laughed again, throatily. "Truly I
can afford anything. The old days are over. I'm rich. Many a Spaniard
has paid for what they did to us back then."

He turned and barked an order to de Fontenay. The young man bowed, then
moved smoothly through the heavy oak doors leading into Jacques's
residence. "You know, I still hear of you from time to time, Anglais.
But never before have we seen you here, _n 'est-ce pas_? How have you
been?"

"Well enough. I see you've been busy yourself." Winston glanced up at
the brickwork house Jacques had erected above the center of the rock.
It was a true citadel. Along the edge of the platform, looking out, a
row of nine-pound demi-culverin had been installed. "But what's this
talk you chased off the English planters?"

"They annoyed me. You know that never was wise. So I decided to be rid
of them. Besides, it's better this way. A few were permitted to stay on
and sail for me, but La Tortue must be French." He reached for a
tankard from the tray de Fontenay was offering. "I persuaded our
_gouverneur_ up on St. Christophe to send down a few frigates to help
me secure this place."

"Is that why you keep men in a dungeon up here? We never had such
things in the old days."

"My little Purgatory?" He handed the tankard to Winston, then offered
one to Atiba. The Yoruba eyed him coldly and waved it away. Jacques
shrugged, taking a sip himself before continuing. "Surely you
understand the need for discipline. If these men disobey me, they must
be dealt with. Otherwise, no one remembers who is in charge of this
place."

"I thought we'd planned to just punish the Spaniards, not each other."

"But we are, Anglais, we are. Remember when I declared they would
someday soil their breeches whenever they heard the word '_boucanier'_?
Well, it's come true. They swear using my name. Half the time the
craven bastards are too terrified to cock a musket when my men board
one of their merchant frigates." He smiled. "Everything we wanted back
then has come to pass. Sweet revenge." He reached and absently drew a
finger down de Fontenay's arm. "But tell me, Anglais, have you got a
woman these days? Or a _matelot_?" He studied Atiba.

"An Englishwoman is sailing with me. She's down on the _Defiance_."

"The _Defiance_?"

"My Spanish brig."

"_Oui_, but of course. I heard how you acquired it." He laughed and
stroked his beard. "_Alors_, tomorrow you must bring this Anglaise of
yours up and let me meet her. Show her how your old friend has made his
way in the world."

"That depends. I thought we'd empty a tankard or two tonight and talk a
bit."

"_Bon_. Nothing better." He signaled to de Fontenay for a refill, and
the young man quickly stepped forward with the flask. "Tonight we
remember old times."

Winston laughed. "Could be there're a few things about the old days
we'd best let be. So maybe I'll just work on this fine brandy of yours
and hear how you're getting along these days with our good friends the
Spaniards."

"Ah, Anglais, we get on very well. I have garroted easily a hundred of
those bastards for every one of ours they killed back then, and taken
enough cargo to buy a kingdom. You know, if their Nuevo Espana Armada,
the one that ships home silver from their mines in Mexico, is a week
overdue making the Canary Islands, the King of Spain and all his
creditors from Italy to France cannot shit for worrying I might have
taken it. Someday, my friend, I will."

"Good. I'll drink to it." Winston lifted his tankard. "To the
Spaniards."

Jacques laughed. "_Oui_. And may they always be around to keep me
rich."

"On that subject, old friend, I had a little project in mind. I was
thinking maybe I'd borrow a few of your lads and stage a raid on a
certain Spanish settlement."

"Anglais, why would you want to bother? Believe me when I tell you
there's not a town on the Main I could not take tomorrow if I choose.
But they're mostly worthless." He drank again, then rose and strolled
over to the edge of the platform. Below, mast lights were speckled
across the harbor, and music drifted up from the glowing tavern
windows. "By the time you get into one, the Spaniards have carried
everything they own into the forest and emptied the place."

"I'll grant you that. But did you ever consider taking one of their
islands? Say . . . Jamaica?"

"_Mon ami_, the rewards of an endeavor must justify the risk." Jacques
strolled back and settled heavily into a deep leather chair. "What's
over there? Besides their militia?"

"They've got a fortress and a town, Villa de la Vega, and there's bound
to be a bit of coin, maybe even some plate. But the harbor's the real .
. ."

"_Oui, peut-etre_. Perhaps there's a sou or two to be had there
somewhere. But why trouble yourself with a damned militia when there're
merchantmen plying the Windward Passage day in and day out, up to their
gunwales with plate, pearls from their oyster beds down at Margarita,
even silks shipped overland from those Manila galleons that put in at
Acapulco . . .?"

"You know an English captain named Jackson took that fortress a few
years back, and ransomed it for twenty thousand pieces-of-eight? That's
a hundred and sixty thousand _reals_. "

"Anglais, I also know very well they have a battery of guns in that
fort, covering the harbor. It wouldn't be all that simple to storm."

"As it happens, I've taken on a pilot who knows that harbor better than
you know the one right down below, and I'm thinking I might sail over
and see it." Winston took another swallow. "You're welcome to send
along some men if you like. I'll split any metal money and plate with
them."

"Forget it. Anglais. None of these men will . . ."

"Wait a minute, Jacques. You don't own them. That was never the way. So
if some of these lads decide to sail with me, that's their own affair."

"My friend, why do you think I am the _commandant de place_ if I do not
command? Have you seen those culverin just below us, trained on the
bay? No frigate enters Basse Terre--or leaves it--against my will. Even
yours, _mon ami_. Don't lose sight of that."

"I thought you were getting smarter than you used to be, Jacques."

"Don't try and challenge me again, Anglais." Jacques's hand had edged
slowly toward the pistol in his belt, but then he glanced at Atiba and
hesitated. "Though it's not my habit to kill a man while he's drinking
my brandy." He smiled suddenly, breaking the tension, and leaned back.
"It might injure my reputation for hospitality."

"When I'm in the fortress overlooking Jamaica Bay one day soon, I'll
try and remember to drink your health."

"You really think you can do it, don't you?" He sobered and studied
Winston.

"It's too easy not to. But I told you we could take it as partners,
together."

"Anglais, I'm not a fool. You don't have the men to manage it alone. So
you're hoping I'll give you some of mine."

"I don't want you to 'give' me anything, you old whoremaster. I said we
would take it together.

"Forget it. I have better things to do." He smiled. "But all the same,
it's always good to see an old friend again. Stay a while. Anglais.
What if tomorrow night we feasted like the old days, _boucanier_ style?
Why not show your _femme_ how we used to live?"

"Jacques, we've got victuals on the _Defiance_."

"Is that what you think of me?" He sighed. "That I would forgo this
chance to relive old times? Bring this _petite_ Anglaise of yours up
and let her meet your old _ami_. I knew you before you were sure which
end of a musket to prime. I watched you bring down your first wild
boar. And now, when I welcome you and yours with open arms, you scorn
my generosity."

"We're not finished with this matter of the Spaniards, my friend."

"_Certainement_. Perhaps I will give it some consideration. We can
think about it tomorrow night, while we all share some brandy and dine
on _barbacoa_, same as the old days. As long as I breathe, nothing else
will ever taste quite so good." He motioned for de Fontenay to lower
the iron ladder. "We will remember the way we used to live. In truth. I
even think I miss it at times. Life was simpler then."

"Things don't seem so simple around here any more, Jacques."

"But we can remember, my friend. Humility. It nourishes the soul."

"To old times then, Jacques." He drained his tankard and signaled for
Atiba. "Tomorrow."

"_Oui_, Anglais. _A demain_. And my regards to your friend here with
the cutlass." He smiled as he watched them start down the ladder. "But
why don't you ask him to stay down there tomorrow? I must be getting
old, because that sword of his is starting to make me nervous. And we
wouldn't want anything to upset our little _fete_, now would we, _mon
frere_?"

      *      *      *      *      *

Katherine stood at the bannister amidships. Serina by her side, and
studied the glimmer of lights along the shore, swaying clusters of
candle-lanterns as seamen passed back and forth in longboats between
the brothels of Tortuga and their ships.

The buccaneers. They lived in a world like none she had ever seen. As
the shouts, curses, songs, and snatches of music drifted out over the
gentle surf, she had to remind herself that this raffish settlement was
the home of brigands unwelcome in any other place. Yet from her vantage
now, they seemed like harmless, jovial children.

Still, anchored alongside the _Defiance_ were some of the most heavily
armed brigantines in the New World--no bottom here carried fewer than
thirty guns. The men, too, were murderers, who killed Spanish civilians
as readily as infantry. Jacques le Basque presided over the most
dreaded naval force in the New World. He had done more to endanger
Spain's fragile economy than all the Protestant countries together. If
they grew any stronger, the few hundred men on this tiny island might
well so disrupt Spain's vital lifeline of silver from the Americas as
to bankrupt what once had been Europe's mightiest empire. . . .

The report of a pistol sounded from somewhere along the shore, followed
by yells of glee and more shots. Several men in Spanish finery had
begun firing into the night to signal the commencement of an impromptu
celebration. As they marched around a keg of liquor, a cluster of
women, prostitutes from the taverns, shrieked in drunken encouragement
and joined in the melee.

"This place is very frightening, senhora." Serina shivered and edged
next to Katherine. Her hair was tied in a kerchief, African style, as
it had been for all the voyage. "I have never seen _branco_ like these.
They seem so crazy, so violent."

"Just be thankful we're not Spaniards, or we'd find out just how
violent they really are."

"Remember I once lived in Brazil. We heard stories about this place."

"'Tis quite a sight, Yor Ladyships." John Mewes had ambled over to the
railing, beside them, to watch for Winston. "The damnedest crew of
rogues and knaves you're ever like to make acquaintance with. Things've
come to a sad pass that we've got to try recruitin' some of this lot to
sail with us."

"Do you think they're safe ashore, John?"

"Aye, Yor Ladyship, on that matter I'd not trouble yourself unduly."
Mewes fingered the musket he was holding. "You should've seen him once
down at Curasao, when a gang of Dutch shippers didn't like the cheap
price we was askin' for a load of kill-devil that'd fallen our way over
at . . . I forget where. Threatened to board and scuttle us. So the
Captain and me decided we'd hoist a couple of nine-pound demi's up on
deck and stage a little gunnery exercise on a buoy floatin' there on
the windward side o' the harbor. After we'd laid it with a couple of
rounds, blew it to hell, next thing you know the Butterboxes . . ."

"John, what's that light over there? Isn't that him?"

Mewes paused and stared. At the shoreline opposite their anchorage a
lantern was flashing.

"Aye, m'lady. That's the signal, sure enough." He smiled. "Didn't I
tell you there'd be nothing to worry over."  With an exhale of relief,
he quickly turned and ordered the longboat lowered, assigning four men
to the oars and another four to bring flintlocks.

The longboat lingered briefly in the surf at the shore, and moments
later Winston and Atiba were headed back toward the ship.

"It seems they are safe, senhora." Serina was still watching with
worried eyes. "Perhaps these _branco_ are better than those on
Barbados."

"Well, I don't think they have slaves, if that's what you mean. But
that's about all you can say for them."

A few moments later the longboat bumped against the side of the
_Defiance_, and Winston was pulling himself over the bulwarks, followed
by Atiba.

"Katy, break out the tankards. I think we can deal with Jacques." He
offered her a hug. "He's gone half mad--taken over the island and run
off the English settlers. But there're plenty of English _boucaniers_
here who'd like nothing better than to sail from somewhere else."

"Did he agree to help us?"

"Of course not. You've got to know him. It's just what I expected. When
I brought up our little idea, he naturally refused point-blank. But he
knows there're men here who'll join us if they like. Which means that
tomorrow he'll claim it was his idea all along, then demand the biggest
part of what we take for himself."

"Tomorrow?"

"I'm going back up to the fort, around sunset, to sort out details."

"I wish you wouldn't." She took his hand. "Why don't we just get
whatever men we can manage and leave?"

"That'd mean a fight." He kissed her lightly. "Don't worry. I'll handle
Jacques. We just have to keep our wits."

"Well then, I want to go with you."

"As a matter of fact he did ask you to come. But that's out of the
question."

"It's just as dangerous for you as for me. If you're going back, then
so am I."

"Katy, no . . ."

"Hugh, we've done everything together this far. So if you want to get
men from this place, then I'll help you. And if that means I have to
flatter this insane criminal, so be it."

He regarded her thoughtfully, then smiled. "Well, in truth I'm not sure
a woman can still turn his head, but I suppose you can give it a try."

Serina approached them and reached to touch Winston's hand. "Senhor,
was your council of war a success?"

"I think so. All things in time."

"The branco in this place are very strange. Is it true they do not have
slaves?"

"Slaves, no. Though they do have a kind of servant here, but even
that's different from Barbados."

"How so, senhor?"

"Well, there've never been many women around this place. So in the old
days a _boucanier_ might acquire a _matelot_, to be his companion, and
over the years the _matelots_ got to be more like younger brothers than
indentures. They have legal rights of inheritance, for instance, since
most _boucaniers_ have no family. A _boucanier_ and his _matelot_ are
legally entitled to the other's property if one of them dies." He
looked back toward the shore. "Also, no man has more than one
_matelot_. In fact, if a _boucanier_ does marry a woman, his _matelot_
has conjugal rights to her too."

"But, senhor, if the younger man, the _matelot_, inherits everything,
what is to keep him from just killing the older man? To gain his
freedom, and also the other man's property?"

"Honor." He shrugged and leaned back against the railing,

inhaling the dense air of the island. He lingered pensively for a
moment, then turned to Katherine. "Katy, do remember this isn't just
any port. Some of those men out there have been known to shoot somebody
for no more cause than a tankard of brandy. And underneath it all,
Jacques is just like the rest. It's when he's most cordial that you'd
best beware."

"I still want to go." She moved next to him. "I'm going to meet face-
to-face with this madman who once tried to kill you."



Chapter Twenty-one


The ochre half-light of dusk was settling over the island, lending a
warm tint to the deep green of the hillside forests surrounding Forte
de la Roche. In the central yard of the fortress, directly beneath le
Basque's "dovecote," his uniformed guards loitered alongside the row of
heavy culverin, watching the mast lights of anchored frigates and
brigantines nod beneath the cloudless sky.

Tibaut de Fontenay had taken no note of the beauty of the evening. He
was busy tending the old-fashioned _boucan _Jacques had ordered
constructed just behind the cannon. Though he stood on the windward
side, he still coughed occasionally from the smoke that threaded
upward, over the "dovecote" and toward the hill above. The _boucan
_itself consisted of a rectangular wooden frame supporting a greenwood
grill, set atop four forked posts. Over the frame and grill a
thatchwork of banana leaves had been erected to hold in the piquant
smoke of the smoldering naseberry branches beneath. Several haunches of
beef lay flat on the grill, and now the fire was coating them with a
succulent red veneer. It was the traditional Taino Indian method of
cooking and preserving meat, _barbacoa_, that had been adopted intact
by the boucaniers decades before.

Jacques leaned against the railing at the edge of the platform above,
pewter tankard in hand, contentedly stroking his salt-and-pepper beard
as he gazed out over the harbor and the multihued sunset that washed
his domain in misty ambers. Finally, he turned with a murmur of
satisfaction and beckoned for Katherine to join him. She glanced
uneasily toward Winston, then moved to his side.

"The aroma of the _boucan_. Mademoiselle, was always the signal the day
was ending." He pointed across the wide bay, toward the green mountains
of Hispaniola. "Were we over there tonight, with the hunters, we would
still be scraping the last of the hides now, while our _boucan
_finished curing the day's kill for storing in our banana-leaf
_ajoupa_." He smiled warmly, then glanced down to see if her tankard
required attention. "Though, of course, we never had such a charming
Anglaise to leaven our rude company."

"I should have thought, Monsieur le Basque, you might have preferred a
Frenchwoman." Katherine studied him, trying to imagine the time when he
and Hugh had roamed the forests together. Jacques le Basque, for all
his rough exterior, conveyed an unsettling sensuality. She sensed his
desire for her as he stood alongside, and when he brushed her hand, she
caught herself trembling involuntarily.

"You do me an injustice, Mademoiselle, to suggest I would even attempt
passing such a judgment." He laughed. "For me, womankind is like a
garden, whose flowers each have their own beauty. Where is the man who
could be so dull as to waste a single moment comparing the deep hue of
the rose to the delicate pale of the lily. The petals of each are soft,
they both open invitingly at the touch."

"Do they always open so easily, Monsieur le Basque?"

"Please, you must call me Jacques." He brushed back a wisp of her hair
and paused to admire her face in the light of the sunset. "It is ever a
man's duty to awaken the beauty that lies sleeping in a woman's body.
Too many exquisite creatures never realize how truly lovely they are."

"Do those lovely creatures include handsome boys as well?" She glanced
down at de Fontenay, his long curls lying tangled across his delicate
shoulders.

Jacques drank thoughtfully from his tankard. "Mademoiselle, there is
something of beauty in all God's work. What can a man know of wine if
he samples only one vineyard?"

"A woman might say, Jacques, it depends on whether you prefer flowers,
or wine."

"_Touche_, Mademoiselle. But some of us have a taste for all of life.
Our years here are so brief."

As she stood beside him, she became conscious again of the short-
barreled flintlock--borrowed from Winston's sea chest, without his
knowing it--she had secreted in the waist of her petticoat, just below
her low-cut bodice. Now it seemed so foolish. Why had Hugh painted
Jacques as erratic and dangerous? Could it be because the old
_boucanier_ had managed to better him in that pistol duel they once
had, and he'd never quite lived it down? Maybe that was why he never
seemed to get around to explaining what really happened that time.

"Then perhaps you'll tell me how many of those years you spent
hunting." She abruptly turned and gestured toward the hazy shoreline
across the bay. Seen through the smoke of the _boucan_ below,
Hispaniola's forests seemed endless, impenetrable. "Over there, on the
big island?"

"Ah, Mademoiselle, thinking back now it seems like forever. Perhaps it
was almost that long." He laughed genially, then glanced toward
Winston, standing at the other end of the platform, and called out,
"Anglais, shall we tell your lovely mademoiselle something about the
way we lived back in the old days?"

"You can tell her anything you please, Jacques, just take care it's
true." Winston was studying the fleet of ships in the bay below.
"Remember this is our evening for straight talk."

"Then I will try not to make it sound too romantic." Jacques chuckled
and turned back. "Since the Anglais insists I must be precise, I should
begin by admitting it was a somewhat difficult existence. Mademoiselle.
We'd go afield for weeks at a time, usually six or eight of us together
in a party--to protect ourselves should we blunder across some of the
Spaniards' lancers, cavalry who roamed the island trying to be rid of
us. In truth, we scarcely knew where we would bed down from one day to
the next. . . ."

Winston was only half listening as he studied the musket-men in the
yard below. There seemed to be a restlessness, perhaps even a tension,
about them. Was it the _boucan_? The bother of the smoke? Or was it
something more? Some treachery in the making? He told himself to stay
alert, that this was no time to be lulled by Jacques's famed
courtliness. It could have been a big mistake not to bring Atiba, in
spite of Jacques's demand he be left.

"On most days we would rise at dawn, prime our muskets, then move out
to scout for game. Usually one of us went ahead with the dogs. Before
the Anglais came to live with us, that perilous assignment normally
fell to me, since I had the best aim." He lifted the onion-flask of
French brandy from the side of the veranda and replenished her tankard
with a smooth flourish. "When you stalk the wild bull, the _taureau
sauvage_, you'd best be able to bring him down with the first shot, or
hope there's a stout tree nearby to climb." He smiled and thumbed
toward Winston. "But after the Anglais joined us, we soon all agreed he
should have the honor of going first with the dogs. We had discovered
he was a born marksman." He toasted Winston with his tankard. "When the
dogs had a wild bull at bay, the Anglais would dispatch it with his
musket. Afterwards, one of our men would stay to butcher it and take
the hide while the rest of us would move on, following him."

"Then what?" She never knew before that Winston had actually been the
leader of the hunt, their marksman.

"Well, Mademoiselle, after the Anglais had bagged a bull for every man,
we'd bring all the meat and hides back to the base camp, the
rendezvous. Then we would put up a _boucan_,

like the one down there below us now, and begin smoking the meat while
we finished scraping the hides." He smiled through his graying beard.
"You would scarcely have recognized the Anglais, or me, in those days,
Mademoiselle. Half the time our breeches were so caked with blood they
looked like we'd been tarred." He glanced back at the island. "By
nightfall the _barbacoa_ would be finished, and we would eat some, then
salt the rest and put it away in an _ajoupa_, together with the hides.
Finally, we'd bed down beside the fire of the _boucan_, to smoke away
the mosquitoes, sleeping in those canvas sacks we used to keep off
ants. Then, at first light of dawn, we rose to go out again."

"And then you would sell your . . . _barbacoa_ and hides here on
Tortuga?"

"Exactly, Mademoiselle. I see my old friend the Anglais has already
told you something of those days." He smiled and caught her eye. "Yes,
often as not we'd come back over here and barter with the ships that
put in to refit. But then sometimes we'd just sell them over there.
When we had a load, we would start watching for a sail, and if we saw a
ship nearing the coast, we'd paddle out in our canoes . . ."

"Canoes?" She felt the night grow chill. Suddenly a memory from long
ago welled up again, bearded men firing on their ship, her mother
falling. . . .

"_Oui_, Mademoiselle. Dugout canoes. In truth they're all we had those
days. We made them by hollowing out the heart of a tree, burning it
away, just like the Indians on Hispaniola used to do." He sipped his
brandy, then motioned toward Winston. "They were quite seaworthy, _n
'est-ce pas_? Enough so we actually used them on our first raid." He
turned back. "Though after that we naturally had Spanish ships."

"And where . . . was your first raid, Monsieur le Basque?" She felt her
grip tighten involuntarily on the pewter handle of her tankard.

"Did the Anglais never tell you about that little episode,
Mademoiselle?" He laughed sarcastically. "No, perhaps it

is not something he chooses to remember. Though at the time we thought
we could depend on him. I have explained to you that no man among us
could shoot as well as he. We wanted him to fire the first shot, as he
did when we were hunting. Truly we had high hopes for him." Jacques
drank again, a broad silhouette against the panorama of the sunset.

"He told me how you got together to fight the Spaniards, but ..."

"Did he? _Bon_." He paused to check the _boucan_ below them, then the
men. Finally he shrugged and turned back. "It was the start of the
legend of the _boucaniers_, Mademoiselle. And you can take pride that
the Anglais was part of it. Few men are still alive now to tell that
tale."

"What happened to the others, Jacques?"  Winston's voice hardened as he
moved next to one of the nine-pound cannon. "I seem to remember there
were almost thirty of us. Guy Bartholomew was on that raid, for one. I
saw him down below last night. I knew a lot of those men well."

"_Oui_, you had many friends. But after you . . . left us, a few
unfortunate incidents transpired."

Winston tensed. "Did the ship . . .?"

"I discovered what can occur when there is not proper organization,
Anglais. But now I am getting ahead of our story. Surely you remember
the island we had encamped on. Well, we waited on that cursed sand spit
several weeks more, hoping there would be another prize. But alas, we
saw nothing, _rien_. Then finally one day around noon, when it was so
hot you could scarcely breathe, we spied a Spanish sail--far at sea. By
then all our supplies were down. We were desperate. So we launched our
canoes and put to sea, with a vow we would seize the ship or perish
trying."

"And you took it?" Winston had set down his tankard on the railing and
was listening intently.

"_Mais oui_. But of course. Desperate men rarely fail. Later we learned
that when the captain saw our canoes approaching he scoffed, saying
what could a few dugouts do against his

guns. He paid for that misjudgment with his life. We waited till dark,
then stormed her. The ship was ours in minutes."

"Congratulations."

"Not so quickly, Anglais. Unfortunately, all did not go smoothly after
that. Perhaps it's just as well you were no longer with us, _mon ami_.
Naturally, we threw all the Spaniards overboard, crew and passengers.
And then we sailed her back here, to Basse Terre. A three-hundred-ton
brigantine. There was some plate aboard--perhaps the capitaine was
hoarding it--and considerable coin among the passengers. But when we
dropped anchor here, a misunderstanding arose over how it all was to be
divided." He sighed. "There were problems. I regret to say it led to
bloodshed."

"What do you mean?" Winston glared at him. "I thought we'd agreed to
split all prizes equally."

He smiled patiently. "Anglais, think about it. How could such a thing
be? I was the commander; my position had certain requirements. And to
make sure the same question did not arise again, I created Articles for
us to sail under, giving more to the ship's master. They specify in
advance what portion goes to every man, from the maintop to the keel .
. . though the commander and officers naturally must receive a larger
share. . . ."

"And what about now?" Winston interrupted. "Now that you Frenchmen have
taken over Tortuga? I hear there's a new way to split any prizes the
men bring in. Which includes you and Chevalier de Poncy."

"Oui, conditions have changed slightly. But the men all understand
that."

"They understand these French culverin up here. _Mes compliments_. It
must be very profitable for you and him."

"But we have much responsibility here." He gestured toward the
settlement below them. "I have many men under my authority."

"So now that you've taken over this place and become commandant, it's
not really like it used to be, when everybody worked for himself. Now
there's a French administration. And that means extortion, though I
suppose you call it taxes."

"_Naturellement_." He paused to watch as de Fontenay walked to the
edge of the parapet and glanced up at the mountain behind the fort.
"But tonight we were to recall those old, happy days, Anglais, before
the burden of all this governing descended on my unworthy shoulders.
Your _jolie_ mademoiselle seems to take such interest in what happened
back then."

"I'd like to hear about what happened while Hugh was on that raid with
you. You said he was to fire the first shot."

"_Oui_." Jacques laughed. "And he did indeed pull the first trigger. I
was truly sad to part with him at what was to be our moment of glory.
But we had differences, I regret to say, that made it necessary . . ."

"What do you mean?" She was watching Hugh's uneasiness as he glanced
around the fort, suspecting he'd probably just as soon this story
wasn't told.

"We had carefully laid a trap to lure in a ship. Mademoiselle. Up in
the Grand Caicos, using a fire on the shore."

"_Where_?"

"Some islands north of here. Where the Spaniards stop every year."
Jacques continued evenly, "And our plan seemed to be working
brilliantly. What's more, the Anglais here was given the honor of the
first bullet." He sipped from his tankard. "But when a prize blundered
into it, the affair turned bloody. Some of my men were killed, and I
seem to recall a woman on the ship. I regret to say the Anglais was
responsible."

"Hugh, what . . . did . . . you . . . do?" She heard her tankard drop
onto the boards.

"To his credit, I will admit he at least helped us bait the hook,
Mademoiselle." Jacques smiled. "Did you not, Anglais?"

"That I did. Except it caught an English fish, instead of a Spaniard."

Good Christ, no! Katherine sucked in her breath. The coldhearted
bastard. I am glad I brought a pistol. Except it'll not be for Jacques
le Basque. "I think you two had best spare me the rest of your heroic
little tale, before I . . ."

"But, Mademoiselle, the Anglais was our finest marksman. He could bring
down a wild boar at three hundred paces." He toasted Winston with a
long draught from his tankard. "Don't forget I had trained him well. We
wanted him to fire the first shot. You should at least take pride in
that, even if the rest does not redound entirely to his credit."

"Hugh, you'd better tell me the truth. Right now." She moved toward
him, almost quivering with rage. She felt her hand close about the grip
of her pistol as she stood facing Winston, his scarred face impassive.
"Did you fire on the ship?"

"Mademoiselle, what does it matter now? All that is past, correct?"
Jacques smiled as he strolled over. "Tonight the Anglais and I are once
more Freres de la Cote, brothers in the honorable order of boucaniers."
He patted Winston's shoulder. "That is still true, _n'est-ce pas_? And
together we will mount the greatest raid ever--on the Spanish island of
Jamaica."

Winston was still puzzling over Katherine's sudden anger when he
finally realized what Jacques had said. So, he thought, the old
_batard_ wants to give me the men after all. Just as I'd figured. Now
it's time to talk details.

"Together, Jacques. But remember I'm the one who has the pilot, the man
who can get us into the harbor. So that means I set the terms." He
sipped from his tankard, feeling the brandy burn its way down. "And
since you seem to like it here so much, I'll keep the port for myself,
and we'll just draw up some of those Articles of yours about how we
manage the rest."

"But of course, Anglais. I've already been thinking. Perhaps we can
handle it this way: you keep whatever you find in the fortress, and my
men will take the spoils from the town."

"Wait a minute. The town's apt to have the most booty, you know that,
Jacques."

"Anglais, how can we possibly foretell such a thing in advance? Already
I am assuming a risk . . ."

Jacques smiled and turned to look down at the bay. As he moved, the
railing he had been standing beside exploded, spewing slivers of mastic
wood into the evening air. When he glanced back, startled, a faint pop
sounded from the direction of the hill behind the fort.

Time froze as a look of angry realization spread through the old
boucaniers eyes. He checked the iron ladder, still lowered, then yelled
for the guards below to light the linstocks for the cannon and ready
their muskets.

"Katy, take cover." Winston seized her arm and she felt him pull her
against the side of the house, out of sight of the hill above. "Maybe
Commandant le Basque is not quite so popular with some of his lads as
he seems to think."

"I can very well take care of myself. Captain. Right now I've a mind to
kill you both." She wrenched her arm away and moved down the side of
the citadel.

"Katy, what . . .?" As Winston stared at her, uncomprehending, another
musket ball from the dark above splattered into the post beside
Jacques. He bellowed a curse, then drew the pistol from his belt and
stepped into the protection of the roof. When he did, one of the guards
from below, wearing a black hat and jerkin, appeared at the top of the
iron ladder leading up from the courtyard. Jacques yelled for him to
hurry.

"Damn you, _vite_, there's some fool up the hill with a musket."

Before he could finish, the man raised a long flintlock pistol and
fired.

The ball ripped away part of the ornate lace along one side of
Jacques's collar. Almost before the spurt of flame had died away,
Jacques's own pistol was cocked. He casually took aim and shot the
guard squarely in the face. The man slumped across the edge of the
opening, then slid backward and out of sight.

"Anglais." He turned back coolly. "Tonight you have just had the
privilege of seeing me remind these _cochons_ who controls this
island."

Even as he spoke, the curly head of de Fontenay appeared through the
opening. When Jacques saw him, he beckoned him forward. "Come on, and
pull it up after you. Too many killings will upset my guests' dinner."

The young Frenchman stepped slowly onto the platform, then slipped his
right hand into his ornate doublet and lifted out a pistol. He examined
it for a moment before reaching down with his left and extracting
another.

"I said to pull up the ladder, damn you. That's an order."

De Fontenay began to back along the railing, all the while staring at
Jacques with eyes fearful and uncertain. Finally he summoned the
courage to speak.

"You are a _bete_, Jacques, truly a beast." His voice trembled, and
glistening droplets of sweat had begun to bead on his smooth forehead.
"We are going to open Purgatory and release the men you have down
there. Give me the keys, or I will kill you myself, I swear it."

"You'd do well to put those guns away, you little _fou_. Before I
become annoyed." Jacques glared at him a moment, then turned toward
Winston, his voice even. "Anglais, kindly pass me one of your pistols.
Or I will be forced to kill this little _putain_ and all the rest with
my own bare hands. I would regret having to soil them."

"You'd best settle this yourself, Jacques. I keep my pistols. Besides,
maybe you should open that new dungeon of yours. We never needed
anything like that in the old days."

"Damn you, Anglais." His voice hardened. "I said give me a gun."

At that moment, another guard from below appeared at the opening. With
a curse, Jacques stepped over and shoved a heavy boot into his face,
sending the startled man sprawling backward. Then he seized the iron
ladder and drew it up, beyond reach of those below. He ignored de
Fontenay as he turned back to Winston.

"Are you defying me too, Anglais? _Bon_. Because before this night is
over, I have full intention of settling our accounts."

"Jacques, _mon ami!_" Winston laughed. "Here all this time I thought we
were going to be _freres_ again." He sobered. "Though I would prefer
going in partners with a commander who can manage his own men."

"You mean this little one?" He thumbed at de Fontenay. "Believe me when
I tell you he does not have the courage of--"

Now de Fontenay was raising the pistol in his right hand, shakily. "I
said to give us the keys, Jacques. You have gone too far."

"You will not live that long, my little _matelot_, to order me what to
do." Jacques feigned a menacing step toward him. Startled, de Fontenay
edged backward, and Jacques erupted with laughter, then turned back to
Winston. "You see, Anglais? Cowards are all the same. Remember when you
wanted to kill me? You were point-blank, and you failed. Now this
little _putain_ has the same idea." He seized Winston's jerkin. "Give
me one of your guns, Anglais, or I will take it with my own hands."

"No!" At the other end of the citadel Katherine stood holding the
pistol she had brought. She was gripping it with both hands, rock
steady, aimed at them. Slowly she moved down the porch. "I'd like to
just be rid of you both. Which one of you should I kill?"

The old boucanier stared at her as she approached, then at Winston.
"Your Anglaise has gone mad."

"I was on that English ship you two are so proud of attacking." She
directed the flintlock toward Winston. "Hugh, the woman you remember
killing--she was my mother."

The night flared with the report of a pistol, and Jacques flinched in
surprise. He glanced down curiously at the splotch of red blossoming
against the side of his silk shirt, then looked up at de Fontenay.

"That was a serious mistake, my little _ami_. One you will not live
long enough to regret."

The smoking pistol de Fontenay held dropped noisily onto the boards at
his feet, while he raised the other. "I said give to me the keys,
Jacques. Or I will kill you, I swear it."

"You think I can be killed? By you? _Jamais_." He laughed, then
suddenly reached out and wrenched away the pistol Katherine was
holding, shoving her aside. With a smile he aimed it directly at de
Fontenay's chest. "Now, mon ami . . ."

There was a dead click, then silence. It had misfired.

"I don't want this, Jacques, truly." De Fontenay started to tremble,
and abruptly the other pistol he held exploded with a pink arrow of
flame.

"Anglais . . ." Jacques jerked lightly, a second splotch of red
spreading across his pale shirt. Then he dropped to one knee with a
curse.

De Fontenay stepped hesitantly forward. "Perhaps now you will
understand, _mon maitre_, what kind of man I can be."

He watched in disbelief as Jacques slowly slumped forward across the
boards at his feet. Then he edged closer to where the old boucanier
lay, reached down and ripped away a ring of heavy keys secured to his
belt. He held them a moment in triumph before he looked down again,
suddenly incredulous. "_Mon Dieu_, he is dead."

With a cry of remorse he crouched over the lifeless figure and lovingly
touched the bloodstained beard. Finally he remembered himself and
glanced up at Winston. "It seems I have finished what you began. He
told me today how you two quarreled once. He cared nothing for us, you
or me, friend or lover." He hesitated, and his eyes appeared to plead.
"What do we do now?"

Winston was still staring at Katherine, his mind flooded with dismay at
the anger in her eyes. At last he seemed to hear de Fontenay and turned
back. "Since you've got his keys, you might as well go ahead and throw
them down. I assume you mean to open the dungeon."

"_Oui_. He had begun to lock men there just on his whim. Yesterday he
even imprisoned a . . . special friend of mine. It was too much." He
walked to the edge of the platform and flung the ring of keys down
toward the pavement of the fort.

As the ring of metal against stone cut through the silence, he yelled
out, "Purgatory is no more. Jacques le Basque is in hell." He abruptly
turned and shoved down the ladder. In the courtyard below, pandemonium
erupted.

At once a cannon blazed into the night. Then a second, and a third.
Moments later, jubilant musket fire sounded up from the direction of
the settlement as men poured into the streets, torches and lanterns
blazing.

"Good God, Katy, I don't know what you've been thinking, but we'd best
talk about it later. Right now we've got to get out of here." Winston
walked hesitantly to where she stood. "Somebody's apt to get a mind to
fire this place."

"No, I don't . . ."

"Katy, come on." He grabbed her arm.

De Fontenay was still at the railing along the edge of the platform, as
though not yet fully comprehending the enormity of his act. Below him a
string of prisoners, still shackled, was being led from the dungeon
beneath the "dovecote."

Winston forcibly guided Katherine down the ladder and onto the stone
steps below. Now guards had already begun dismantling the _boucan _with
the butts of their muskets, sending sparks sailing upward into the
night air.

Then the iron gateway of the fortress burst open and a mob of seamen
began pouring through, waving pistols and cheering. Finally one of them
spotted Winston on the steps and pressed through the crowd.

"God's blood, is it true?"

Winston looked down and recognized Guy Bartholomew.

"Jacques is dead."

"An' they're all claiming you did it. That you came up here and killed
the bastard. The very thing we all wanted, and you managed it." He
reached up and pumped Winston's hand. "Maybe now I can stand you a
drink. For my money, I say you should be new commandant of this piss-
hole, by virtue of ridding the place of him."

"I didn't kill him, Bartholomew. That 'honor' goes to his _matelot_. "

The excited seaman scarcely paused. "'Tis no matter, sir. That little
whore is nothing. I know one thing; every Englishman here'll sail for
you, or I'm not a Christian."

"Maybe we can call some of the ships' masters together and see what
they want to do."

"You can name the time, sir. And I'll tell you this: there're going to
be a few changes around here, that I can warrant." He turned to look at
the other men, several of whom were offering flasks of brandy to the
prisoners. Around them, the French guards had remembered Jacques's
store of liquor and were shoving past, headed up the ladder. In moments
they were flinging down flasks of brandy.

Bartholomew turned and gazed down toward the collection of mast lights
below them. "There's scarcely an Englishman here who'd not have left
that whoreson's service long ago, save there's no place else but
Tortuga the likes of us can drop anchor. But now with him gone we can .
. ."

"Until further notice, this island is going to be under my
administration, as representative of the Chevalier de Poncy,
_gouverneur_ of St. Christophe." De Fontenay had appeared at the top of
the steps and begun to shout over the tumult in the yard. His curls
fluttered in the wind as he called for quiet. "By the Code of the
boucaniers, the Telle Etoit la Coutume de la Cote, I am Jacques's legal
heir. Which means I can claim the office of acting commandant de place.
. . ."

Bartholomew yelled up at him. "You can claim whatever you like, you
pimp. But no Englishman'll sail for you, an' that's a fact. We'll spike
these cannon if you're thinking to try any of the old tricks. It's a
new day, by all that's holy."

"What do you mean?" De Fontenay glanced down.

"I mean from this day forth we'll sail for whatever master we've a mind
to."

De Fontenay called to Winston. "You saw who killed him, Monsieur. Tell
them." He looked back toward Bartholomew. "This man knew Jacques better
than any of you. His friend, the Anglais, from the very first days of
the _boucaniers_. He will tell you the Code makes me . . ."

"Anglais!" Bartholomew stared at Winston a moment, then a smile erupted
across his hard face. "Good God, I do believe it is. You've aged
mightily, lad, on my honor. Please take no offense I didn't recognize
you before."

"It's been a long time."

"God's blood, none of us ever knew your Christian name. We all thought
you dead after you and Jacques had that little shooting spree." He
grasped Winston's hand. "Do you have any idea how proud we were of you?
I tell you we all saw it when you pulled a pistol on that bastard. You
may not know it, sir, but it was because of you his band of French
rogues didn't rape that English frigate. All the Englishmen amongst us
wanted to stop it, but we had no chance." He laughed. "In truth, sir,
that was the start of all our troubles here. We never got along with
the damn'd Frenchmen after that. Articles or no.

"Hugh, what's he saying?" Katherine was staring at him.

"What do you mean?"

"Is it true you stopped Jacques and his men from taking our ship? The
one you were talking about tonight?"

"The idea was we were only to kill Spaniards. No Englishman had done
anything to us. It wouldn't have been honorable. When Jacques didn't
agree with me on that point, things got a little unpleasant. That's
when somebody started firing on the ship."

"Aye, the damn'd Frenchmen," Bartholomew interjected. "I was there,
sir."

"I'm sorry the rest of us didn't manage to warn you in time." Winston
slipped his arm around her.

Suddenly she wanted to smother him in her arms. "But do you realize you
must have saved my life? They would have killed us all."

"They doubtless would have. Eventually." He reached over and kissed
her, then drew back and examined her. "Katy, I have a confession to
make. I think I can still remember watching you. When I was in the
longboat, trying to reach the ship. I think I fell in love with you
that morning. With that brave girl who stood there at the railing,
musket balls flying. I never forgot it, in all the years. My God, to
think it was you." He held her against him for a moment, then lifted up
her face. "Which also means I have you and yours to thank for trying to
kill me, when I wanted to get out to where you were."

"The captain just assumed you were one of them. I heard him talk about
it after. Nobody had any idea . . ." She hugged him. "You and your
'honor.' You changed my life."

"You and that ship sure as hell changed mine. After I fell in love with
you, I damned near died of thirst in that leaky longboat. And then
Ruyters . . ."

"Capitaine, please tell them I was the one who shot Jacques. That I am
now _commandant de place_." De Fontenay interrupted, his voice
pleading. "That I have the authority to order them . . ."

"You're not ordering anything, by Jesus. I'm about to put an end to any
more French orders here and now." Bartholomew seized a burning stick
from the fire in the boucan and flung it upward, onto the veranda of
the "dovecote."

A cheer went up from the English seamen clustered around,

and before Jacques's French guards could stop them, they were flinging
torches and flaming logs up into the citadel.

"_Messieurs, no_. Please! _Je vous en prie. Non_!" De Fontenay stared
up in horror.

Tongues of flame began to lick at the edge of the platform. Some of the
guards dropped their muskets and yelled to get buckets of water from
the spring behind the rock. Then they thought better of it and started
edging gingerly toward the iron gates leading out of the fortress and
down the hill.

The other guards who had been rifling the liquor came scurrying down
the ladder, jostling de Fontenay aside. As Winston urged Katherine
toward the gates, the young _matelot_ was still lingering forlornly on
the steps, gazing up at the burning "dovecote." Finally, the last to
leave Forte de la Roche, he sadly turned and made his way out.

"Senhor, what is happening here?" Atiba was racing up the steps leading
to the gate, carrying his cutlass. "I swam to shore and came fastly as
I could."

"There's been a little revolution up here, my friend. And I'll tell you
something else. There's likely to be some gunpowder in that citadel.
For those demi-culverin. I don't have any idea how many kegs he had,
but knowing Jacques, there was enough." He took Katherine's hand. "It's
the end for this place, that much you can be sure."

"Hugh, what about the plan to use his men?" She turned back to look.

"We'll just have to see how things here are going to settle out now.
Maybe it's not over yet."

They moved onto the tree-lined pathway. The night air was sharp,
fragrant. Above the glow of the fire, the moon hung like a lantern in
the tropical sky.

"You know, I never trusted him for a minute. Truly I didn't." She
slipped her arm around Winston's jerkin. "I realize now he was planning
to somehow try and kill us both tonight. Thank heaven it's over. Why
don't we just get out of here while we still can?"

"Well, sir, it's a new day." Guy Bartholomew emerged out of the crowd,
his smile illuminated by the glow of the blaze. "An' I've been talkin'
with some of my lads. Why don't we just have done with these damn'd
Frenchmen and claim this island?" He gleefully rubbed at the stubble on
his chin. "No Englishman here's goin' to line the pockets of a
Frenchman ever again, that I'll promise you."

"You can try and make Tortuga English if you like, but you won't be
sailing with me if you do."

"What do you mean, sir?" Bartholomew stood puzzling. "This is our best
chance ever to take hold and keep this place. An' there's precious few
other islands where we can headquarter."

"I know one that has a better harbor. And a better fortress guarding
it"

"Where might that be?"

"Ever think of Jamaica?"

"Jamaica, sir?" He glanced up confusedly. "But that belongs to the pox-
eaten Spaniards."

"Not after we take it away from them it won't. And when we do, any
English privateer who wants can use the harbor there."

"Now, sir." Bartholomew stopped. "Tryin' to seize Jamaica's another
matter entirely. We thought you were the man to help us take charge of
this little enterprise here of pillagin' the cursed Spaniards'
shipping. You didn't say you're plannin' to try stealin' a whole island
from the whoresons."

"I'm not just planning, my friend." Winston moved on ahead, Atiba by
his side. "God willing, I'm damned sure going to do it."

"It's a bold notion, that I'll grant you." He examined Winston
skeptically, then grinned as he followed after. "God's life, that'd be
the biggest prize any Englishman in the Caribbean ever tried."

"I think it can be done."

"Well, I'll be plain with you, sir. I don't know how many men here'll
be willing to risk their hide on such a venture. I hear the
Spaniards've got a militia over there, maybe a thousand strong. 'Tis
even said they've got some cavalry."

"Then all you Englishmen here can stay on and sail for the next
commandant Chevalier de Poncy finds to send down and take over. He'll
hold La Tortue for France, don't you think otherwise. All those
commissions didn't stay in Jacques's pocket, you can be sure. He's
bound to have passed a share up to the Frenchmen on St. Christopher."

"We'll not permit it, sir. We'll not let the Frenchmen have it back."

"How do you figure on stopping them? This fortress'll take weeks to put
into any kind of shape again, and de Poncy's sure to post a fleet down
the minute he hears of this. I'd say this place'll have no choice but
stay French."

"Aye, I'm beginnin' to get the thrust of your thinkin'." He gazed
ruefully back up at the burning fort. "If that should happen, and I
grant you there's some likelihood it just might, then there's apt to be
damned little future here for a God-fearin' Englishman. So either we
keep on sailin' for some other French bastard or we find ourselves
another harbor."

"That's how I read the situation now." Winston continued on down the
hill. "So why don't we hold a vote amongst the men and see, Master
Bartholomew? Maybe a few of them are game to try making a whole new
place."



JAMAICA



Chapter Twenty-two


A cricket sang from somewhere within the dark crevices of the stone
wall surrounding the two men, a sharp, shrill cadence in the night. To
the older it was a welcome sign all was well; the younger gave it no
heed, as again he bent over and hit his steel against the flint,
sending sparks flying into the wind. Finally he cursed in Spanish and
paused to pull his goatskin jerkin closer.

Hipolito de Valera had not expected this roofless hilltop outpost would
catch the full force of the breeze that rolled in off the bay. He
paused for another gust to die away, then struck the flint once more. A
shower of sparks scattered across the small pile of dry grass and twigs
by the wall, and then slowly, tentatively the tinder began to glow.
When at last it was blazing, he tossed on a large handful of twigs and
leaned back to watch.

In the uneven glow of the fire his face was soft, with an aquiline nose
and dark Castilian eyes. He was from the sparsely settled north, where
his father don Alfonso de Valera had planted forty-five acres of grape
arbor in the mountains. Winemaking was forbidden in the Spanish
Americas, but taxes on Spanish wines were high and Spain was far away.

"_!Tenga cuidado!_ The flame must be kept low. It has to be heated
slowly." Juan Jose Pereira was, as he had already

observed several times previously this night, more knowing of the
world. His lined cheeks were leather-dark from a lifetime of riding in
the harsh Jamaican sun for the cattle-rancher who owned the largest
_hato_ on the Liguanea Plain. Perhaps the youngest son of a vineyard
owner might understand the best day to pick grapes for the claret, but
such a raw youth would know nothing of the correct preparation of
chocolate.

Juan Jose monitored the blaze for a time, and then--his hands moving
with the deft assurance of the ancient _conquistadores_--carefully
retrieved a worn leather bag from his pocket and dropped a brown lump
into the brass kettle now hanging above the fire. He next added two
green tabasco peppers, followed by a portion of goat's milk from his
canteen. Finally he stirred in a careful quantity of _muscavado_ sugar-
-procured for him informally by his sister's son Carlos, who operated
the boiling house of a sugar plantation in the Guanaboa Vale, one of
only seven on the island with a horse-drawn mill for crushing the cane.

As he watched the thick mixture begin to simmer, he motioned for the
younger man to climb back up the stone stairway to the top of their
outpost, the _vigia_ overlooking the harbor of Jamaica Bay. Dawn was
four hours away, but their vigil for mast lights must be kept, even
when there was nothing but the half moon to watch.

In truth Juan Jose did not mind his occasional night of duty for the
militia, especially here on the mountain. He liked the stars, the cool
air so unlike his sweltering thatched hut on the plain, and the
implicit confirmation his eyes were still as keen as they had been the
morning he was baptized, over fifty years ago.

The aroma of the chocolate swirled up into the watchtower above, and in
the moonlight its dusky perfume sent Hipolito's thoughts soaring.

Elvita. Wouldn't it be paradise if she were here tonight, instead of a
crusty old _vaquero_ like Juan Jose? He thought again of her almond
eyes, which he sometimes caught glancing at him during the Mass . . .
though always averted with a pretense of modesty when his own look
returned their desire.

He sat musing over what his father would say when he informed him he
was hopelessly in love with Elvita de Loaisa. Undoubtedly don Alfonso
would immediately point out that her father Garcia de Loaisa had only
twenty acres of lowland cotton in cultivation: what dowry would such a
lazy family bring?

What to do? Just to think about her, while the moon . . .

"Your chocolate." Juan Jose was standing beside him holding out a
pewter bowl, from which a tiny wisp of steam trailed upward to be
captured in the breeze. The old man watched him take it, then, holding
his own portion, settled back against the stone bench.

"You were gazing at the moon, my son." He crossed himself, then began
to sip noisily. "The spot to watch is over there, at the tip of the
Cayo de Carena." Now he was pointing south. "Any _protestante_  fleet
that would attack us must first sail around the Point."

The old man consumed the rest of his chocolate quickly, then licked the
rim of the bowl and laid it aside. Its spicy sweetness was good, true
enough, one of the joys of the Spanish Americas, but now he wanted
something stronger. Unobtrusively he rummaged through the pocket of his
coat till he located his flask of pimento brandy. He extracted the cork
with his teeth, then pensively drew twice on the bottle before rising
to stare out over the stone balustrade.

Below them on the right lay Jamaica Bay, placid and empty, with the
sandy cay called Cayo de Carena defining its farthest perimeter. The
cay, he had always thought, was where the Passage Fort really should
be. But their governor, don Francisco de Castilla, claimed there was no
money to build a second one. All the same, spreading below him was the
finest harbor in the New World--when Jamaica had no more than three
thousand souls, maybe four, on the whole island. Did not even the giant
_galeones_, on their way north from Cartegena, find it easy to put in
here to trade? Their arrival was, in fact, always the event of the
year, the time when Jamaica's hides and pig lard were readied for
Havana, in exchange for fresh supplies of wine, olive oil, wheat flour,
even cloth from home. Don Fernando, owner of the _hato_, always made
certain his hides were cured and bundled for the _galeones_ by late
spring.

But don Fernando's leather business was of scant concern to Juan Jose.
What use had he for white lace from Seville? He pulled again at the
flask, its brandy sharp and pungent, and let his eyes wander to the
green plain on his left, now washed in moonlight. That was the Jamaica
he cared about, where everything he required could be grown right in
the earth. Cotton for the women to spin, beef and cassava to eat, wine
and cacao and cane-brandy for drinking, tobacco to soothe his soul. . .
.

He suddenly remembered he had left his pipe in the leather knapsack,
down below. But now he would wait a bit. Thinking of a pleasure made it
even sweeter . . . Just as he knew young Hipolito was dreaming still of
some country senorita. When a young man could not attend to what he was
told for longer than a minute, it could only be first love.

As he stood musing, his glance fell on Caguaya, the Passage Fort, half
a mile to the left, along the Rio Cobre river that flowed down from
Villa de la Vega. The fort boasted ten great guns, and it was manned by
militia day and night. If any strange ship entered the bay, Caguaya
would be signaled from here at the _vigia_, using two large bells
donated by the Church, and the fort's cannon would be readied as a
precaution. He studied it for a time, pleased it was there. Its guns
would kill any heretic _luterano_ who came to steal.

The pipe. He glanced over at Hipolito, now making a show of watching
the Point at Cayo de Carena, and briefly entertained sending him down
for it. Then he decided the climb would be good for his legs, would
help him keep his breath--which he needed for his Saturday night trysts
with Margarita, don Fernando's head cook. Though, Mother of God, she
had lungs enough for them both. He chuckled to himself and took a last
pull on the fiery brandy before collecting the pewter bowls to start
down the stairs. "My _pipa_. Don't fall asleep gazing at the moon while
I'm below."

The young man blushed in the dark and busily studied the horizon. Juan
Jose stood watching him for a moment, wondering if he had been that
transparent thirty-some years past, then turned and began descending
the steps, his boots ringing hard against the stone.

The knapsack was at the side wall, near the door, and as he bent over
to begin searching for the clay stem of his pipe he caught the movement
of a shadow along the stone lintel. Suddenly it stopped.

"_Que pasa?" _ He froze and waited for an answer.

Silence. Now the shadow was motionless.

His musket, and Hipolito's, were both leaning against the far wall,
near the stairs. Then he remembered . . .

Slowly, with infinite care, he slipped open the buckle on the knapsack
and felt for his knife, the one with the long blade he used for
skinning. His fingers closed about its bone handle, and he carefully
drew it from its sheath. He raised up quietly and smoothly, as though
stalking a skittish calf, and edged against the wall. The shadow moved
again, tentatively, and then a massive black form was outlined against
the doorway.

_Un negro_!

Whose could it be? There were no more than forty or fifty slaves on the
whole of Jamaica, brought years ago to work on the plantations. But the
cane fields were far away, west of Rio Minho and inland. The only
_negro_ you ever saw this far east was an occasional domestic.

Perhaps he was a runaway? There was a band of Maroons, free _negros_,
now living in the mountains. But they kept to themselves. They did not
come down onto the plain to steal.

The black man stood staring at him. He did not move, merely watched as
though completely unafraid.

Then Juan Jose saw the glint of a wide blade, a cutlass, in the
moonlight. This was no thief. Who was he? What could he want?

"Senor, stop." He raised his knife. "You are not permitted . . ."

The _negro_ moved through the doorway, as though not understanding. His
blade was rising, slowly.

Juan Jose took a deep breath and lunged.

He was floating, enfolded in Margarita's soft bosom, while the world
turned gradually sideways. Then he felt a pain in his knee as it struck
against the stone--oddly, that was his first sensation, and he wondered
fleetingly if it would still be stiff when he mounted his mare in the
morning. Next he noticed a dull ache in the side of his neck, not sharp
but warm from the blood. He felt the knife slip away, clattering onto
the stone paving beyond his reach, and then he saw the moon, clear and
crisp, suspended above him in the open sky. Next to it hovered
Hipolito, his frightened eyes gazing down from the head of the stair.
The eyes held dark brown for a second, then turned red, then black.

"_Meu Deus_, you have killed him!" A woman's voice pierced the dark.
She was speaking in Portuguese as she moved through the door behind the
tall _negro_.

Hipolito watched in terrified silence, too afraid even to breathe.
Behind the _negro_ and the woman were four other men, whispering in
Ingles, muskets poised. He realized both the guns were still down
below, and besides, how could . . .

"The whoreson tried to murder me with his damnable knife." The man drew
up the cutlass and wiped its blood against the leather coat of Juan
Jose, sprawled at his feet.

"We were not to kill unless necessary. Those were your orders."

The _negro_ motioned for quiet and casually stepped over the body,
headed for the stairs.

Mother of God, no! Hipolito drew back, wanting to cry out, to flee. But
then he realized he was cornered, like an animal.

Now the _negro_ was mounting the stairs, still holding the sword, the
woman directly behind him.

Why, he wondered, had a woman come with them. These could not be
ordinary thieves; they must be _corsario luterano_, heretic Protestant
_flibustero_ of the sea. Why hadn't he seen their ship? They must have
put in at Esquebel, the little bay down the western shore, then come up
by the trail. It was five miles, a quick climb if you knew the way.

But how could they have known the road leading up to the _vigia_? And
if these were here, how many more were now readying to attack the fort
at Caguaya, just to the north? The bells . . .!

He backed slowly toward the small tower and felt blindly for the rope.
But now the huge figure blotted out the moon as it moved toward him.
Fearfully he watched the shadow glide across the paving, inching
nearer, a stone at a time. Then he noticed the wind blowing through his
hair, tousling it across his face, and he would have pushed it back
save he was unable to move. He could taste his own fear now, like a
small copper tlaco in his mouth.

The man was raising his sword. Where was the rope! Mother of God!

"_Nao_." The woman had seized the _negro's_ arm, was pulling him back.
Hipolito could almost decipher her Portuguese as she continued,
"_Suficiente_. No more killing."

Hipolito stepped away from the bell tower. "_Senor, por favor_ ..."

The man had paused, trying to shake aside the woman. Then he said
something, like a hard curse.

Hipolito felt his knees turn to warm butter and he dropped

forward, across the stones. He was crying now, his body shivering from
the hard, cold paving against his face.

"Just tie him." The woman's voice came again. "He is only a boy."

The man's voice responded, in the strange language, and Hipolito
thought he could feel the sword against his neck. He had always
imagined he would someday die proudly, would honor Elvita by his
courage, and now here he was, cringing on his belly. They would find
him like this. The men in the vineyards would joke he had groveled
before the Protestant _ladrones_ like a dog.

"I will stay and watch him, and this place. Leave me two muskets." The
woman spoke once more, then called out in Ingles. There were more
footsteps on the stairs as the other men clambered up.

"Why damn me, 'tis naught but a lad," a voice said in Ingles, "sent to
do a man's work."

"He's all they'd need to spy us, have no fear. I'll wager 'twould be no
great matter to warn the fort. Which is what he'll be doin' if we . . .

"Senor, how do you signal the fort?" The woman was speaking now, in
Spanish, as she seized Hipolito's face and pulled him up. "Speak
quickly, or I will let them kill you."

Hipolito gestured vaguely toward the two bells hanging in the tower
behind.

"Take out the clappers, then tie him." The woman's voice came again,
now in Ingles. "The rest of you ready the lanterns."



The dugout canoes had already been launched, bobbing alongside the two
frigates anchored on the sea side of the Cayo de Carena. Directly ahead
of them lay the Point, overlooking the entry to Jamaica Bay.

Katherine felt the gold inlay of the musket's barrel, cold and hard
against her fingertips, and tried to still her pulse as she peered
through the dim moonlight. Up the companionway, on the quarterdeck,
Winston was deep in a final parlay with Guy Bartholomew of the
_Swiftsure_. Like all the seamen, they kept casting anxious glances
toward a spot on the shore across the bay, just below the _vigia_,
where the advance party would signal the all-clear with lanterns.

The last month had not been an easy time. After the death of Jacques le
Basque, Tortuga was plunged into turmoil for a fortnight, with the
English and French _boucaniers_ at Basse Terre quarreling violently
over the island's future. There had nearly been war. Finally
Bartholomew and almost a hundred and fifty seamen had elected to join
Winston in his attempt to seize a new English privateering base at
Jamaica. But they also demanded the right to hold Villa de la Vega for
ransom, as Jackson had done so many years before. It was the dream of
riches that appealed to them most, every man suddenly fancying himself
a second Croesus. Finally Winston and Bartholomew had drawn up Articles
specifying the division of spoils, in the tradition of the
_boucaniers_.

After that, two more weeks had passed in final preparations, as muskets
and kegs of powder were stockpiled. To have sufficient landing craft
they had bartered butts of kill-devil with the Cow-Killers on
Hispaniola for ten wide dugout canoes--all over six feet across and
able to transport fifteen to twenty men. With the dugouts aboard and
lashed securely along the main deck of the two ships, the assault was
ready.

They set sail as a flurry of rumors from other islands began reaching
the buccaneer stronghold. The most disquieting was that a French fleet
of armed warships had already been dispatched south by the Chevalier de
Poncy of St. Christopher, who intended to restore his dominion over
Tortuga and appoint a new French _commandant de place_.

Yet another story, spreading among the Spanish planters on Hispaniola,
was that an English armada had tried to invade the city of Santo
Domingo on the southern coast, but was repulsed ingloriously, with
hundreds lost.

The story of the French fleet further alarmed the English buccaneers,
and almost two dozen more offered to join the Jamaica expedition. The
Spanish tale of a failed assault on Santo Domingo was quickly
dismissed. It was merely another in a long history of excuses put
forward by the _audiencia_ of that city to explain its failure to
attack Tortuga. There would never have been a better time to storm the
island, but once again the cowardly Spaniards had managed to find a
reason for allowing the boucaniers to go unmolested, claiming all their
forces were needed to defend the capital.

The morning of their departure arrived brisk and clear, and by mid-
afternoon they had already made Cape Nicholao, at the northwest tip of
Hispaniola. Since the Windward Passage lay just ahead, they shortened
sail, holding their course west by southwest till dark, when they
elected to heave-to and wait for morning, lest they overshoot. At dawn
they were back underway, and just before nightfall, as planned, they
had sighted Point Morant on the eastern tip of Jamaica. Winston ordered
the first stage of the assault to commence.

The frigates made way along the southern coast till they neared the
Point of the Cayo de Carena, the wide cay at the entry to Jamaica Bay.
Then, while the _Swiftsure_ kept station to watch for any turtling
craft that might sound the alarm, Winston hoisted the _Defiance's_ new
sails and headed on past the Point, directly along the coast. The
attack plan called for an advance party to proceed overland from the
rear and surprise the _vigia_ on the hill overlooking the bay, using a
map prepared by their Spanish pilot, Armando Vargas. Winston appointed
Atiba to lead the men; Serina went with them as translator.

They had gone ashore two hours before midnight, giving them four hours
to secure the _vigia_ before the attack was launched. A signal of three
lanterns on the shore below the _vigia_ would signify all-clear. After
they had disappeared up the trail and into the salt savannah, the
_Defiance_ rejoined the _Swiftsure_, at which time Winston ordered the
fo'c'sle unlocked and flintlocks distributed, together with bandoliers
of powder and shot. While the men checked and primed their muskets,
Winston ordered extra barrels of powder and shot loaded into the
dugouts, along with pikes and half-pikes.

Now the men stirred impatiently on the decks, new flintlocks glistening
in the moonlight, anxious for their first feel of Spanish gold. . . .

Katherine pushed through the crowd and headed up the companionway
toward the quarterdeck. Winston had just dismissed Bartholomew, sending
him back to the _Swiftsure_ to oversee final assignments of his own men
and arms. The old boucanier was still chuckling over something Winston
had said as she met him on the companionway.

"See you take care with that musket now, m'lady." He doffed his dark
hat with a wink as he stepped past. "She's apt to go off when you'd
least expect."

She smiled and nodded, then smoothly drew back the hammer on the breech
with an ominous click as she looked up.

"Then tell me, Guy, is this what makes it fire?"

"God's blood, m'lady." Bartholomew scurried quickly past, then glanced
uncertainly over his shoulder as he slid across the bannister and
started down the swaying rope ladder, headed for the shallop moored
below.

"Hugh, how long do you expect before the signal?"

"It'd best be soon. If not, we won't have time to cross the bay before
daylight." He peered through the dark, toward the hill. "We've got to
clear the harbor and reach the mouth of the Rio Cobre while it's still
dark, or they'll see us from the Passage Fort."

"How far up the river is the fort?"

"Vargas claims it's only about a quarter mile." He glanced back toward
the hill. "But once we make the river, their cannon won't be able to
touch us. It's only when we're exposed crossing the bay that we need
worry."

"What about the militia there when we try to storm it?"

"_Vargas_ claims that if they're not expecting trouble, it'll

be lightly manned. After we take it, we'll have their cannon, together
with the ordnance we've already got. There's nothing else on the island
save a few matchlock muskets."

"And their cavalry."

"All they'll have is lances, or pikes." He slipped his arm around her
waist. "No, Katy, after we seize Passage Fort, the Spaniards can never
get us out of here, from land or sea. Jamaica will be ours, because
this harbor will belong to us."

"You make it sound too easy by half." She leaned against him, wishing
she could fully share his confidence. "But if we do manage to take the
fort, what about Villa de la Vega?"

"The town'll have to surrender, sooner or later. They'll have no
harbor. And this island can't survive without one."

She sighed and glanced back toward the shore. In the moonlight the blue
mountains of Jamaica towered silently above the bay. Would those
mountains some day stand for freedom in the Caribbean, the way Tortuga
once did . . .?

She sensed Winston's body tense and glanced up. He was gazing across
the bay toward the shore, where a dim light had suddenly appeared. Then
another, and another.

"Katy, I've waited a long, long time for this. Thinking about it,
planning it. All along I always figured I'd be doing it alone. But your
being here . . ." He seemed to lose the words as he held her against
him. "Tonight we're about to do something, together, that'll change the
Americas forever."

The oars bit into the swell and the dark waters of the bay slapped
against the bark-covered prow, an ancient cadence he remembered from
that long voyage north, ten years past. Where had all the years gone?

Behind him was a line of dugouts, a deadly procession of armed, grim-
faced seamen. All men of Tortuga, not one among them still welcome in
any English, French, or Dutch settlement.

Was it possible to start over with men like these? A new nation?

"_Mira_," Vargas whispered over the rhythm of the oars. His dark eyes
were glistening as he pointed toward the entry to the harbor, a wide
strait that lay between the Point of the Cayo de Carena and the
mainland. Around them the light surf sparkled in the moonlight. "Is not
this _puerto_ the finest in all the Caribbean?" He smiled back at
Winston, showing a row of tobacco-stained teeth. "No storm reaches
here. The smallest craft can anchor safely, even in a _huracan_. "

"It's just like I figured. So the spot to situate our cannon really is
right there on the Point. Do that and nobody could ever get into the
bay."

Vargas laughed. "Si, that is true. If they had guns here, we could
never get past. But Jamaica is a poor island. The Passage Fort over on
the river has always been able to slow an assault long enough for them
to empty the town. Then their women and children are safe. What else do
they have worth stealing?"

"Hugh, is this the location you were talking to John about?" Katherine
was studying the wide and sandy Point.

"The very place. That's why I had him stay with the _Defiance_ and keep
some of the lads."

"I hope he can do it."

"He'll wait till sun-up, till after we take the fort. But this cay is
the place to be, mark it."

"You are right, senor," Vargas continued as they steered on around the
Point. "I have often wondered myself why there was no port city out
here. Perhaps it is because this island has nothing but stupid
_agricultores_. "

Their tiny armada of dugouts glided quickly across the strait, then
hugged the shore, headed toward the mouth of the Rio Cobre. Now they
were directly under the _vigia_.

As they rowed past, five figures suddenly emerged from the trees and
began wading toward them. Winston immediately signaled the dugouts to
put in.

Atiba was grinning as he hoisted himself over the side. "It was
simple." He settled among the seamen. "There were only two whoreson
Spaniards."

"Where's Serina?" Katherine scanned the empty shoreline. "Did anything
happen?"

"When a woman is allowed to sit in council with warriors, there are
always damnable complications." Atiba reached and helped one of the
English seamen in. "She would not have us act as men and kill the
whoresons both. So she is still up there on the mountain, holding a
musket."

"You're not a better man if you murder their militia." Katherine
scowled at him. "After you take a place, you only need hold it."

"That is the weak way of a woman, senhora." He glanced toward the hill
as again their oars flashed in the moonlight. "It is not the warrior
way."

Winston grimaced, but said nothing, knowing the killing could be far
from over.

In only minutes they had skirted the bay and were approaching the river
mouth. As their dugouts veered into the Rio Cobre, the whitecaps gave
way to placid ripples. The tide had just begun running out, and the
surface of the water was flawless, reflecting back the half-moon. Now
they were surrounded by palms, and beyond, dense forests. Since the
rainy season was past, the river itself had grown shallow, with wide
sand bars to navigate. But a quarter mile farther and they would be
beneath the fort.

"Jamaica, at last." Winston grinned and dipped a hand into the cool
river.

Katherine gazed up at the Passage Fort, now a sharp silhouette in the
moonlight. It had turrets at each corner and a wide breastwork, from
which a row of eighteen-pound culverin projected, hard fingers against
the sky. "I just pray our welcome celebration isn't too well attended."

As they rowed slowly up the river, the first traces of dawn were
beginning to show in the east. She realized their attack

would have to come quickly now. Even though the _vigia_ had been
silenced, sentries would doubtless be posted around the fort. There
still could be a bloody fight with small arms if they were spotted in
time for the Spaniards to martial the militia inside. Let one sentry
sound the alarm and all surprise would be lost.

"I think we'd best beach somewhere along here." Bartholomew was
sounding with an oar. The river was growing increasingly sandy and
shallow. "She's down to no more'n half a fathom."

"Besides that, it's starting to get light now." Winston nodded
concurrence. "Much farther and they might spy us. Signal the lads
behind to put in."

"Aye." He turned and motioned with his oar. Quickly and silently the
dugouts veered into the banks and the men began climbing over the
sides. As they waded through the mud, each carrying a flintlock musket
and a pike, they dragged the dugouts ashore and into the brush.

"All right, masters." Winston walked down the line as they began to
form ranks. "We want to try taking this place without alerting the
whole island. If we can do that, then the Spaniards'll not have time to
evacuate the town. Remember anything we take in either place will be
divided according to the Articles drawn. Any man who doesn't share what
he finds will be judged by the rest, and may God have mercy on him." He
turned and gazed up the hill. There was a single trail leading through
the forest. "So look lively, masters. Let's make quick work of this."

As they headed up the incline, the men carefully holding their
bandoliers to prevent rattling, they could clearly see the fort above
the trees. Now lights began to flicker along the front of the
breastwork, torches. Next, excited voices began to filter down, faint
in the morning air.

Armando Vargas had moved alongside Winston, his eyes narrow beneath his
helmet and his weathered face grim. He

listened a moment longer, then whispered, "I fear something may have
gone wrong, senor."

"What are they saying?" Winston was checking the prime on his pistols.

"I think I hear orders to run out the cannon." He paused to listen.
"Could they have spotted our masts over at the _cayo_? It is getting
light now. Or perhaps an alert was sounded by the _vigia_ after all."
He glared pointedly back toward Atiba. "Perhaps it was not so secure as
we were told."

Behind them the seamen had begun readying their flintlocks. Though they
appeared disorganized, they handled their muskets with practiced ease.
They were not raw recruits like Barbados' militia; these were fighting
men with long experience.

They continued quickly and silently up the path. Now the moon had begun
to grow pale with the approach of day, and as they neared the rear of
the fortress they could see the details of its stonework. The outside
walls were only slightly higher than a man's head, easy enough to scale
with grapples if need be.

As they emerged at the edge of the clearing, Winston suddenly realized
that the heavy wooden door at the rear of the fort was already ajar.

Good Christ, we can just walk in.

He turned and signaled for the men to group. "It's time, masters.
Vargas thinks they may have spotted our masts, over at the Point, and
started to ready the guns." His voice was just above a whisper. "In any
case, we'll need to move fast. I'll lead, with my lads. After we're
inside, the rest of you hit it with a second wave. We'll rush the
sentries, then take any guards. After that we'll attend to the gunners,
who like as not won't be armed."

Suddenly more shouts from inside the fort drifted across the clearing.
Vargas motioned for quiet, then glanced at Winston. "I hear one of them
saying that they must send for the cavalry."

"Why?"

He paused. "I don't know what is happening, but they are very
frightened in there, senor."

"Good God, if they get word back to the town, it's the end of any
booty."

"Hugh, I don't like this." Katherine stared toward the fortress. There
were no guards to be seen, no sentries. Everyone was inside, shouting.
"Maybe it's some kind of ruse. Something has gone terribly wrong."

"To tell the truth, I don't like it either." He cocked his pistol and
motioned the men forward. "Let's take it, masters."

Some fifty yards separated them from the open door as they began their
dash forward across the clearing. Now they could hear the sound of
cannon trucks rolling over paving stone as the guns were being set.

Only a few more feet remained. Would the door stay open? Why had there
been no musket fire?

As Winston bounded up the stone steps leading to the door, hewn oak
with iron brackets, still no alarm rose up, only shouts from the
direction of the cannon at the front of the breastwork. He seized the
handle and heaved it wide, then waved the others after him. Atiba was
already at his side, cutlass drawn.

Now they were racing down the dark stone corridor, a gothic arch above
their heads, its racks of muskets untouched.

My God, he thought, they're not even going to be armed. Only a few feet
more . . .

A deafening explosion sounded from the front, then a second and a
third. Black smoke boiled up as a yell arose from the direction of the
cannon. The guns of the fort had been fired.

When they emerged at the end of the corridor and into the smoky yard,
Spanish militiamen were already rolling back

the ordnance to reload. The gunners froze and looked on dumbfounded.

"!Ingles Demonio!" One of them suddenly found his voice and yelled
out, then threw himself face down on the paving stones. One after
another, all the others followed. In moments only one man remained
standing, a tall officer in a silver helmet. Winston realized he must
be the gunnery commander.

He drew his sword, a long Toledo-steel blade, and stood defiantly
facing Winston and the line of musketmen.

"No." Winston waved his pistol. "It's no use."

The commander paused, then stepped back and cursed his prostrate
militiamen. Finally, with a look of infinite humiliation, he slowly
slipped the sword back into its scabbard.

A cheer went up from the seamen, and several turned to head for the
inner chambers of the fortress, to start the search for booty. Now the
second wave of the attack force was pouring through the corridor.

"Katy, it's over." Winston beckoned her to him and and boxed
ceremoniously. "Jamaica is . . ."

The yard erupted as the copestone of the turret at the corner exploded,
raining chips of hard limestone around them.

"Great God, we're taking fire from down below." He stood a moment in
disbelief. Around him startled seamen began to scurry for cover.

Even as he spoke, another round of cannon shot slammed into the front
of the breastwork, shaking the flagstone under their feet.

"Who the hell's in charge down there? There were no orders to fire on
the fort ..."

Another round of cannon shot crashed into the stone facing above them.

"Masters, take cover. There'll be hell to pay for this, I promise you."
He suddenly recalled that Mewes had been left in command down below.
"If John's ordered the ships into the bay and opened fire, I'll skin
him alive."

"Aye, and with this commotion, I'll wager their damned cavalry lancers
will be on their way soon enough to give us a welcome." Bartholomew was
standing alongside him. "I'd say we'd best secure that door back there
and make ready to stand them off."

"Order it done." Winston moved past the gunners and headed toward the
front of the breastwork, Katherine at his side. As they approached the
Spanish commander, he backed away, then bowed nervously and addressed
them in broken English.

"You may receive my sword, senor, in return for the lives of my men. I
am Capitan Juan Vicente de Padilla, and I offer you unconditional
surrender. Please run up your flag and signal your gunships."

"We've got no flag." Winston stared at him. "Yet. But we will soon
enough."

"What do you mean, _mi capitan_? You are Ingles." His dark eyes
acquired a puzzled expression. "Of course you have a flag. It is the
one on your ships, down in the bay."

"Hugh, what's he talking about? Has John run up English colors?"
Katherine strode quickly past the smoking cannon to the edge of the
breastwork and leaned over the side.

Below, the bay was lightening in the early dawn. She stood a moment,
then turned back and motioned Winston to join her. Her face was in
shock. He shoved his pistol into his belt and walked to her side.

Headed across the bay, guns run out, was a long line of warships.
Nearest the shore, and already launching longboats of Roundhead
infantry, were the _Rainbowe_ and the _Marsten Moor_--the red and
white Cross of St. George fluttering from their mizzenmasts.



Chapter Twenty-three


"Heaven help us. To think the Lord Protector's proud Western Design has
been reduced to assaulting this worthless backwater." Edmond Calvert's
voice trailed off gloomily as he examined the blue-green mountains of
Jamaica. Then he turned to face Colonel Richard Morris, standing beside
him on the quarterdeck. "No silver mines, no plantations, doubtless
nothing save wild hogs and crocodiles."

"Well, sir, at least this time the navy has landed my men where we'd
planned." Morris was studying the Passage Fort that loomed above them.
Amidships, moored longboats were being loaded with helmeted infantry,
muskets at the ready. "Their culverin seem to have quieted. If the
town's no better defended, there should be scant difficulty making this
place ours."

"That, sir, was precisely what you were saying when we first sighted
Santo Domingo, scarcely more than a fortnight past--before those craven
stalwarts you'd call an army were chased back into the sea."

Morris' eyes narrowed. "When the accounting for Hispaniola is finish'd,
sir, that debacle will be credited to the incompetence of the English
navy."

"All the same, you'd best take your stouthearted band of cowards and
see what you can manage here." Calvert dismissed the commander with a
perfunctory salute. Rancor no longer served any end; what was lost was
lost.

What had been forfeited, he knew, was England's best chance ever to
seize a portion of Spain's vast New World wealth. Oliver Cromwell's
ambitious Western Design had foundered hopelessly on the sun-scorched
shores of Hispaniola.

He reflected again on the confident instructions in his secret
commission, authorized by the Lord Protector himself and approved by
his new Council of State only four months earlier.



_"The Western Design of His Highness is intended to gain for England
that part of the West Indies now in the possession of the Spaniard, for
the effecting thereof we shall communicate to you what hath been under
our Consideration.

Your first objective is to seize certain of the Spaniards' Islands, and
particularly Hispaniola. Said Island hath no considerable place in the
South part thereof but the City of Santo Domingo, and that not being
heavily fortified may doubtless be possest without much difficulty,
which being done, that whole Island will be brought under Obedience.

From thence, after your Landing there, send force for the taking of
Havana, which lies in the Island of Cuba, which is the back door of the
West Indies, and will obstruct the passing of the Spaniards' Plate
Fleet into Europe.

Having secured these Islands, proceed immediately to Cartegena, which
we would make the Seat of the intended Design, and from which England
will be Master of the Spaniards' Treasure which comes from Peru by the
way of Panama in the South Seas to Porto Bello or Nombre de Dios in the
North Sea . . ."

_

How presumptuous it all seemed from this vantage. Worse still, the
Council of State had not even bothered taking notice of Jamaica, an
under-defended wilderness now their only chance to seize _anything_
held by the Spaniards.

Most depressing of all, Cromwell would surely be loath to spend a
shilling on the men and arms needed to hold such a dubious prize.
Meaning the Spaniards would simply come and reclaim it the minute the
fleet set sail.

Surely, he told himself, Cromwell was aware they had shipped out
without nearly enough trained men to attack Spanish holdings. Even his
Council of State realized as much. But they had nourished the delusion
that, once Barbados was bludgeoned back into the Commonwealth, its
planters would dutifully offer up whatever first-rate men, arms, and
cavalry were needed for the campaign.

What the Council of State had not conceived was how indifferent those
islanders would be to the territorial ambitions of Oliver Cromwell.
Barbados' planters, it turned out, wanted nothing to do with a conquest
of the Spanish Americas; to them, more English-held lands in the New
World only meant the likelihood of more acres planted in sugar one day,
to compete with the trade they hoped to monopolize. Consequently,
Morris' Barbados recruits consisted almost wholly of runaway indentures
eluding their owners and their creditors, a collection of profane,
debauched rogues whose only boldness lay in doing mischief.

Sugar and slaves. They might well have undermined Barbados' brief try
for independence; but they also meant there would be no more English
lands in the Americas.

Calvert's heart grew heavy as he remembered how their careful strategy
for taking Hispaniola had been wrecked. They had decided to avoid the
uncharted harbor of Santo Domingo and land five miles down the coast.
But by a mischance of wind on their stern, it was thirty. Then Morris
had disembarked his troops with scarcely any water or victuals. All the
first day, however, he had marched unopposed, his Puritan infantrymen
even pausing to vandalize Papist churches along the way, using idols of
the Virgin for musket practice.

The Spaniards, however, had a plan of their own. They had been busy
burning all the savannahs farther ahead to drive away the cattle,
leaving a path of scorched ground. Soon Morris' supplies were exhausted
and hunger began to set in; whereupon his infantry started stealing the
horses of the cavalry, roasting and devouring them so ravenously the
Spaniards reportedly thought horsemeat must be some kind of English
delicacy.

Then came another catastrophe. For sport, the army burned some thatched
huts belonging to Hispaniola's notorious Cow-Killers. Soon a gang of
vengeful hunters had massed in the woods along the army's path and
begun sniping with their long-barrelled muskets. After that, whenever
fireflies appeared in the evenings, the English sentries, never before
having seen such creatures, mistook them for the burning matchcord of
the Cow-Killers' muskets and began firing into the night, causing
general panic and men trampled to death in flight. Also, the rattling
claws of the night-foraging Caribbean land crabs would sound to the
nervous English infantry like the clank of the Cow-Killers' bandoliers.
An alarm would raise--"the Cow-Killers"--and soldiers would run blindly
into the forests and deadly swamps trying to flee.

When they finally reached Santo Domingo, Morris and his demoralized men
gamely tried to rush and scale the walls, whereupon the Spaniards
simply fired down with cannon and slew hundreds. Driven back, Morris
claimed his retreat was merely "tactical." But when he tried again, the
Spanish cavalry rode out and lanced countless more in a general rout,
only turning back when they tired of killing. It was the most
humiliating defeat any English army had ever received--suffered at the
hands of the supposedly craven Spaniards, and the wandering Cow-
Killers, of Hispaniola.

Back at sea, they realized the foolhardiness of an attempt on Havana or
Cartegena, so the choice they were confronted with was to return to
England empty-handed and face Cromwell's outrage, or perhaps try some
easier Spanish prize. That was when they hit on the idea of Jamaica--
admittedly a smaller island than Hispaniola and of scant consequence to
Spain, but a place known for its slight defenses. They immediately
weighed anchor and made sail for Jamaica Bay. . . .

"Well, sir, I take it the shooting's over for now. Mayhaps this time
your rabble army will see fit to stand and fight like Englishmen."
Edging his way cautiously up the smoky companionway, in black hat and
cotton doublet, was one of the few Barbados planters who had offered to
join the expedition. He glanced at the sunlit fortress, then stared at
the green hills beyond. "Though from the looks of the place, I'd judge
it's scarcely worth the waste of a round of shot. 'Twould seem to be
damn'd near as wild as Barbados the day I first set foot on her."

"I think Colonel Morris knows his duty, sir." Calvert's tone grew
official. "And I presume some of this land could readily be put into
cultivation."

Why, Calvert puzzled, had the planter come? He'd not offered to assist
the infantry. No, most probably he volunteered in hopes of
commandeering the choicest Spanish plantations on Hispaniola all for
himself. Or perhaps he merely couldn't countenance the thought he'd
been denied a seat on Barbados' new Council. Yes, that was more likely
the case. Why else would a sugar grower as notoriously successful as
Benjamin Briggs have decided to come with them?

"Cultivation!" Briggs turned on him. "I see you know little enough
about running a plantation, sir. Where's the labor you'd need?"

"Perhaps some of these infantry will choose to stay and settle. With
the Spaniards all about, this island's going to require . . ."

"This set of layabouts? I doubt one in a hundred could tell a cassava
root from a yam, assuming he had the industry to

hoe one up." Briggs moved to the railing and surveyed the wide plain
spreading up from the harbor. "This batch'd not be worth tuppence the
dozen for clearing stumps and planting."

. . . But, he found himself thinking, maybe things would be different
if you went about it properly. And brought in some Africans. Enough
strapping blacks and some of these savannahs might well be set to
production. And if not along here, then maybe upland. The hills look as
green as Barbados was thirty years ago. Could it be I was wise to come
after all? Damn Hispaniola. This place could be the ideal spot to prove
what I've always believed.

Aye, he told himself. Barbados showed there's a fortune to be made with
sugar. But what's really called for is land, lots of it; and half the
good plots there're still held by damn'd ten-acre freeholders. The New
World is the place where a man has to think in larger terms. So what if
I sold off those Barbados acres, packed up the sugar mill and brought
it here, cut a deal with the Dutchmen for a string of quality Nigers on
long credit . . .?

All we need do is send these few Spaniards packing, and this island
could well be a gold mine.

"If you'll pardon me, Mister Briggs, I'll have to be going ashore now."
Calvert nodded, then turned for the companionway.

"As you will, sir." Briggs glanced back at the island. "And if it's all
the same, I think I'll be joining you. To take the measure of this fish
we've snagged and see what we've got."

"You might do better to wait, Mister Briggs, till we've gained a clear
surrender from the Spaniards."

"Well, sir, I don't see any Spaniards lurking about there on the
plain." He headed down the companionway after Calvert. "I'm the
civilian here, which means I've got responsibilities of my own."



"Hugh, are we going to just stand here and let these bastards rob us?"
Katherine was angrily gripping her musket. "We took this fort, not
Morris and his Roundheads."

Winston stood staring at the warships, his mind churning. Why the hell
were they here? Cromwell had better things to do with his navy than
harass a few Spanish planters.

Whatever they want, he vowed to himself, they'll damn well have to
fight for it.

"'Tis the most cursed sight I e'er laid eyes on." Guy Bartholomew had
moved beside them. "Mayhaps that rumor about some fleet trying Santo
Domingo was all too true. An' when they fail'd at that, they decided to
pillage Jamaica instead."

Next to him was Timothy Farrell, spouting Irish oaths down on the
ships. "Aye, by the Holy Virgin, but whatever happen'd, I'll wager you
this--it's the last we're like to see of any ransom for the town." His
eyes were desolate. "The damn'd English'll be havin' it all. They've
never heard of dividing a thing fair and square, that I promise you."

"Well, they can't squeeze a town that's empty." Winston turned to
Bartholomew. "So why don't we start by giving this navy a little token
of our thanks. Set these Spaniards free to go back and help clear out
Villa de la Vega. By the time the damn'd Roundheads get there, there'll
be nothing to find save empty huts."

"Well, sir, it's a thought, I'll grant you. Else we could try and get
over there first ourselves, to see if there's any gold left to be had.
These Spaniards' Romanish churches are usually good for a few
trinkets." The _boucanier_ looked down again. A line of longboats was
now edging across the bay below, headed for the shore beneath the fort.
He glanced back at his men. "What say you, lads?"

"There's no point to it, Cap'n, as I'm a Christian." One of the
grizzled _boucaniers_ behind him spoke up. "There're lads here aplenty
who've sailed for the English navy in their time, an' I'm one of 'em.
You can be sure we'd never get past those frigates with any Spanish
gold. All we'd get is a rope if we tried riflin' the town now, or
holdin' it for ransom. When an honest tar borrows a brass watch fob,
he's hang'd for theft; when the generals steal a whole country, it's
called the spoils of war. No sir, I've had all the acquaintance I
expect to with so-called English law. I warrant the best thing we can
do now is try getting out of here whilst we can, and let the whoresons
have what they came to find. We took this place once, by God, and we
can well do it again."

There was a murmur of concurrence from the others. Some experienced
seamen were already eyeing the stone corridor, reflecting on the
English navy's frequent practice of impressing any able-bodied man
within reach whenever it needed replacements.

"Well, sir, there's some merit in what you say." Bartholomew nodded
thoughtfully. "Maybe the wisest course right now is to try and get some
canvas on our brigs before this navy starts to nose about our anchorage
over at the other side of the _cayo_.

"That's the best, make nae mistake." The Scotsman MacEwen interjected
nervously. "An' if these Spaniards care to trouble keeping the damn'd
Roundheads entertained whilst we're doin' it, then I'd gladly hand them
back every gunner here, with a skein of matchcord in the trade.
Whatever's in the town can be damn'd."

"Then it's done." Winston motioned for the Spanish commander. Captain
Juan Vicente de Padilla advanced hesitantly, renewed alarm in his dark
eyes.

"Do you wish to receive my sword now, capitan?"

"No, you can keep it, and get the hell out of here. Go on back to Villa
de la Vega and let your governor know the English navy's invaded."

"Capitan, I do not understand your meaning." He stood puzzling. "Your
speech is Ingles, but you are not part of those _galeones_ down below?"

"We're not English. And I can promise you this island

hasn't heard the last of us." Winston thumbed toward the corridor. "Now
you'd best be out of here. I don't know how long those Roundheads
expect to tarry."

With a bow of supreme relief, Captain de Padilla turned and summoned
his men. In moments the Spanish gunners were jostling toward the
corridor, each wanting to be the first to evacuate his family and
wealth from Villa de la Vega.

"In God's name, Hugh, don't tell me you're thinking to just hand over
this fort!" Katherine was still watching the shore below, where
infantrymen were now forming ranks to begin marching up the slope. "I,
for one, intend to stand and fight as long as there's powder and shot."

"Don't worry, we've got the heavy guns. And their damned warships are
under them." He signaled to Tom Canninge, master gunner of the
_Defiance_. "Have the boys prime and run out these culverin. We need to
be ready."

"Good as done." Canninge shouted an order, and his men hurriedly began
hauling the tackles left lying on the stone pavement by the Spanish
gunners, rolling back the iron cannon to reload.

By now the infantry had begun advancing up the hill. Winston watched
them long enough through the sparse trees to recognize Richard Morris
at their head.

So we meet again, you Roundhead bastard. But this time _I_ start out
holding the ordnance.

"Masters, cover us with your muskets." He motioned for Katherine and
together they started for the corridor. The hallway had grown lighter
now, a pale gold in the early light of dawn. At the far end the heavy
oak door had been left ajar by the departing Spanish gunners.

As they stepped into the sunshine, Atiba suddenly appeared beside them,
concern on his face. "Senhor, I think it is no longer safe at the
damnable _vigia_ on the hill. I must go back up there now."

"All right." Winston waved him on. "But see you're quick on it."

"I am a man of the mountains. When I wish, I can travel faster than a
Spaniard with a horse." He began to sprint across the clearing, headed
for the trees.

"Katy, hang on to this." Winston drew one of the pistols from his belt
and handed it to her. "We'll talk first, but if we have to shoot, the
main thing is to bring down Morris. That ought to scatter them."

As they rounded the corner of the fort. Colonel Richard Morris emerged
through the trees opposite, leading a column of infantry. The commander
froze when he saw them. He was raising his musket, preparing to give
order to fire, when his face softened into a disbelieving grin.

"God's blood. Nobody told me you'd decided to join up with this
assault." He examined them a moment longer, then glanced up at the
breastwork, where a line of seamen had appeared, holding flintlocks. He
stared a moment in confusion before looking back at Winston. "I suppose
congratulations are in order. We had no idea 'twas you and your men
who'd silenced their guns. You've doubtless saved us a hot ordnance
battle. Bloody fine job, I must say." He lowered his musket and strode
warily forward. "What have you done with all the Spaniards?"

"They're gone now." Winston's hand was on the pistol in his belt.

"Then the place is ours!" Morris turned and motioned the infantrymen
forward. "Damned odd I didn't notice your . . . frigate in amongst our
sail. We could've used you at Hispaniola." He tried to smile. "I'd say,
sir, that an extra month's pay for you and your lads is in order, even
though I take it you joined us late. I'll see to it myself."

"You can save your eighteen shillings. Colonel. We plan to hold this
fort, and maybe the island to go with it. But you're free to rifle the
town if you think you can still find anything."

"You plan to hold what, sir?" Morris took a cautious step backward.

"Where you're standing. It's called Jamaica. We got here first and we
intend to keep however much of it strikes our fancy."

"Well, sir, that's most irregular. I see you've still got all the brass
I recall." He gripped the barrel of his musket. "I've already offered
you a bonus for exceptional valor. But if you're thinking now to try
and rebel against my command here, what you're more likely to earn is a
rope around your neck."

Winston turned and yelled up to Canninge. "Tom, ready the guns and when
I give the order, lay a few rounds across the quarterdeck of the
_Rainbowe_ anchored down there. Maybe it'll encourage Colonel Morris to
reexamine the situation."

"Good God!" Morris paled. "Is this some kind of jest?"

"You can take whatever you want from the Spaniards. But this harbor's
mine. That is, if you'd prefer keeping Cromwell's flagship afloat."

"This harbor?"

"That's right. We're keeping the harbor. And this fortress, till such
time as we come to an understanding."

While Morris stared up again at the row of cannon, behind him the last
contingent of infantry began to emerge through the trees. Leading it
was Admiral Edmond Calvert, and beside him strode a heavyset man in a
wide, dark hat. They moved through the row of silver-helmeted
infantrymen, who parted deferentially for the admiral, headed toward
Morris. They were halfway across the clearing before Benjamin Briggs
noticed Katherine and Winston.

"What in the name of hell!" He stopped abruptly. "Have the both of you
come back to be hanged like you merit?"

"I'd take care what you say, Master Briggs." Winston looked down the
slope. "My lads up there might mistake your good humor."

Briggs glanced up uncertainly at the breastwork, then back.

"I'd like to know what lawless undertaking it is brings you two to this
forsaken place?"

"You might try answering the same question."

"I'm here to look to English interests."

"I assume that means your personal interests. So we're probably here
for much the same reason."

"I take it you two gentlemen are previously acquainted." Calvert moved
cautiously forward. "Whatever your past cordiality, there'll be ample
time to manage the disposition of this place after it's ours. We're
dividing the skin before we've caught the fox. Besides, it's the Lord
Protector who'll . . ."

There was a shout from the breastwork above, and Calvert paused to look
up. Tom Canninge was standing beside one of the grey iron culverin,
waving down at Winston.

"Cap'n, there's a mass of horsemen coming up the road from the town."

"Are they looking to counterattack?"

The gunner paused and studied the road. "From here I'd say not. They're
travelin' slow, more just walkin' their mounts. An' there're a few
blacks with them, who look to be carry in' some kind of hammock."

Now Morris was gazing warily down the road toward Villa de la Vega. He
consulted briefly with Calvert, then ordered his men to take cover in
the scattering of trees across the clearing.

Coming toward them was a row of Spanish horsemen, with long lances and
silver-trimmed saddles, their mounts prancing deferentially behind a
slow-moving cluster of men, all attired in the latest Seville finery.
In the lead was an open litter, shaded from the sun by a velvet awning,
with the poles at each of its four corners held shoulder high by an
aged Negro wearing a blue silk loincloth.

Katherine heard a rustle at her elbow and turned to see the admiral
bowing. "Edmond Calvert, madam, your servant." He quickly glanced again
at the Spanish before continuing. "Colonel Morris just advised me you
are Dalby Bedford's daughter. Please allow me to offer my condolences."

She nodded lightly and said nothing, merely tightening her grip on the
pistol she held. Calvert examined her a moment, then addressed Winston.
"And I'm told that you, sir, were gunnery commander for Barbados."

Winston inspected him in silence.

Calvert cleared his throat. "Well, sir, if that's indeed who you are, I
most certainly have cause to know you for a first-rate seaman. I take
it you somehow managed to outsail the Gloucester." He continued
guardedly. "You were a wanted man then, but after what's happened
today, I think allowances can be made. In truth, I'd like to offer you
a commission here and now if you'd care to serve under me."

"Accept my thanks, but I'm not looking for recruitment." Winston
nodded, then turned back to study the approaching cavalry. "The
'commission' I plan to take is right here. And that's the two of us.
Miss Bedford and I expect to make Jamaica home base."

Calvert smiled as he continued. "Well, sir, if you're thinking now you
want to stay, there'll surely be a place for you here. I'll take odds
the Spaniards are not going to let us commandeer this island without
soon posting a fleet to try and recover it. Which means we've got to
look to some defenses right away, possibly move a few of the culverin
from the _Rainbowe_ and _Marsten Moor_ up here to the breastwork.
There's plenty to . . ."

"What are you saying!" Katherine stared at him. "That you're going to
try and hold Jamaica?"

"For England." He sobered. "I agree with you it'll not be an easy task,
madam, but we expect to do our best, I give you my solemn word. Yes,
indeed. And if you and the men with you care to assist us, I will so
recommend it to His Highness. I fear we'll be wanting experienced
gunners here, and soon."

While Katherine stood speechless, Benjamin Briggs edged next to them
and whispered toward Calvert, "Admiral, you don't suppose we'd best
look to our defenses, till we've found out what these damn'd Spaniards
are about?"

"This can only be one thing, Mister Briggs. Some kind of attempt to try
and negotiate." Calvert examined the procession again as it neared the
edge of the clearing. "Not even Spaniards attack from a palanquin."

Now the approaching file was slowing to a halt. While the horsemen
reined in to wait in the sunshine, one of the men who had been walking
alongside the litter began to converse solemnly with a shadowed figure
beneath its awning. Finally he reached in and received a long silk-
wrapped bundle, then stepped around the bearers and headed toward them.

He was wearing a velvet waistcoat and plumed hat, and as he approached
the four figures standing by the breastwork, he appeared momentarily
disoriented. His olive skin looked sallow in the early light and his
heavy moustache drooped. Finally he stopped a few feet away and
addressed them collectively.

"I am Antonio de Medina, lieutenant-general to our governor, don
Francisco de Castilla, who has come to meet you. He regrets that his
indisposition does not permit him to tender you his sword from his own
hand." He paused and glanced back at the litter. An arm emerged feebly
and waved him on. "His Excellency has been fully advised of the
situation, and he is here personally to enquire your business. If it is
ransom you wish to claim, he would have me remind you we are but a poor
people, possessing little wealth save our honesty and good name."

"I am Admiral Edmond Calvert, and I receive his greeting in the name of
England's Lord Protector." Calvert was studying the shrouded litter
with puzzlement. "Furthermore, you may advise don Francisco de Castilla
that we've not come for ransom. We're here to claim this island in the
name of His Highness Oliver Cromwell. For England."

"Senor, I do not understand." Medina's brow wrinkled. "Ingles
_galeones_ such as yours have come in times past, and we have always
raised the ransom they required, no matter how difficult for us. We
will . . ."

"This time, sir, it's going to be a different arrangement." Briggs
stepped forward. "He's telling you we're here to stay. Pass that along
to your governor."

"But you cannot just claim this island, senor." Medina examined Briggs
with disbelief. "It has belonged to Spain for a hundred and forty
years."

"Where's your bill of sale, by God? We say it belongs to whoever's got
the brass to seize hold of it. Spaniards took half the Americas from
the heathen; now it's England's turn."

"But this island was granted to our king by His Holiness the Pope, in
Rome."

"Aye, your Pope's ever been free to dispense lands he never owned in
the first place." Briggs smiled broadly. "I seem to recall back in King
Harry's time he offered England to anybody who'd invade us, but none of
your Papist kings troubled to take up his gift." He sobered. "This
island's English, as of today, and damned to your Purple Whore of
Rome."

"Senor, protestante blasphemies will not . . ."

"Take care, Master Briggs." Winston's voice cut between them. "Don't be
so quick to assume England has it. At the moment it looks like this
fortress belongs to me and my men."

"Well, sir, if you're thinking to try and steal something from this
place, which now belongs to England, I'd be pleased to hear how you
expect to manage it."

"I don't care to steal a thing. I've already got what I want. While
we've been talking, my lads down on the _Defiance_ were off-loading
culverin there at the Cayo de Carena. On the Point. As of now, any
bottom that tries to enter, or leave, this harbor is going to have to
sail under them. So the harbor's mine, including what's in it at the
moment. Not to mention this fort as well."

"Perhaps you'd best tell me what you have in mind, sir." Calvert
glanced up at the breastwork, its iron cannon now all directed on the
anchored ships below.

"We might consider an arrangement." Winston paused, then looked down at
the bay.

"What do you mean?"

"These men sailing with me are _boucaniers_, Cow-Killers to you, and we
need this harbor. In future, we intend sailing from Jamaica, from right
over there, at the Point. There'll be a freeport there, for anybody who
wants to join with us."

"Are you saying you mean to settle down there on the Point, with these
buccaneers?" Calvert was trying to comprehend what he was hearing.
Could it be that, along with Jamaica, Cromwell was going to get armed
ships, manned by the only men in the Caribbean feared by the Spaniards,
for nothing?

Perhaps it might even mean Jamaica could be kept. The Western Design
might end up with something after all . . .

"Well, sir, in truth, this island's going to be needing all the
fighting men it can muster if it's to defend itself from the
Spaniards." Calvert turned to Briggs. "If these buccaneers of his want
to headquarter here, it could well be a godsend."

"You'd countenance turning over the safety of this place to a band of
rogues?" Briggs' face began to grow dark with a realization. "Hold a
minute, sir. Are you meanin' to suggest Cromwell won't trouble
providing this island with naval protection?"

"His Highness will doubtless act in what he considers to be England's
best interest, Mister Briggs, but I fear he'll not be too anxious to
expend revenues fortifying and patrolling an empty Spanish island. I
wouldn't expect to see the English navy around here, if that's what
you're thinking."

"But this island's got to have defenses. It's not the same as Barbados.
Over there we were hundreds of leagues to windward. And the Spaniards
never cared about it in the first place. But Jamaica's different. It's
right on the Windward Passage. You've got to keep an armed fleet and
some fortifications here or the Spaniards'll just come and take the
place back whenever they have a mind."

"Then you'd best start thinking about how you'd plan to arrange for
it." Calvert turned back to Medina. "Kindly advise His Excellency I
wish to speak with him directly."

The lieutenant-general bowed and nervously returned to the litter.
After consulting inside for a moment, he ordered the bearers to move it
forward.

What they saw was a small, shriveled man, bald and all but consumed
with venereal pox. He carefully shaded his yellow eyes from the morning
sun as he peered out.

"As I have said, Excellency, we are pleased to acknowledge your
welcome," Calvert addressed him. "For the time we will abstain from
sacking Villa de la Vega, in return for which courtesy you will
immediately supply our fleet with three hundred head of fat cattle for
feeding our men, together with cassava bread and other comestibles as
we may require."

After a quick exchange, Medina looked back, troubled. "His Excellency
replies he has no choice but to comply."

"Fine. But I'm not quite finished. Be it also known without any
mistaking that we have hereby taken charge of the island of Jamaica. I
expect to send you the terms to sign tomorrow morning, officially
surrendering it to England."

Winston stepped forward and faced Medina. "You can also advise His
Excellency there'll be another item in the terms. Those slaves standing
there, and all others on the island, are going to be made free men."

"Senor, all the negros on this island have already been set free, by
His Excellency's proclamation this very morning. To help us resist. Do
you think we are fools? Our negros are _catolico_. They and our Maroons
will stand with us if we have to drive you _protestante_ heretics from
this island."

"Maroons?" Calvert studied him.

"Si. that is the name of the free negros who live here, in the
mountains." He approached Calvert. "And know this, Ingles. They are no
longer alone. The king of Spain will not let you steal this island, and
we will not either. Even now, our people in Villa de la Vega have taken
all their belongings and left for the mountains also. We will wage war
on you from there forever if need be. You may try to steal this island,
against the laws of God, but if you do, our people will empty their
_hatos_ and drive their cattle into the hills. Your army will starve.
This island will become your coffin, we promise you."

"That remains to be seen, sir." Calvert inspected him coldly. "If you
don't choose to honor our terms and provide meat for this army, then
we'll just take what we please."

"Then we bid you good day." Medina moved back to confer with the
governor. After a moment, the bearers hoisted the litter, turned, and
headed back down the road, trailed by the prancing horses of the
cavalry.

Calvert watched, unease in his eyes, as they moved out. "In truth, I'm
beginning to fear this may turn out to be as bloody as Hispaniola. If
these Spaniards scorn our terms of surrender and take to the hills, it
could be years before Jamaica is safe for English settlement."

Behind them the infantrymen had begun to emerge from the woods across
the clearing, led by Morris. Next Guy Bartholomew appeared around the
side of the fortress, his face strained and haggard in the morning
light. He watched puzzling as the Spanish procession disappeared into
the distance, then turned to Winston.

"What's all the talk been about?"

"There's going to be a war here, and soon. And we don't want any part
of it. So right now we'd best head back over to the Point. That spot's
going to be ours, or hell will hear the reason why. John's been off-
loading my culverin and he should have the guns in place by now. We
don't need these cannon any more. Get your lads and let's be gone."

"I'd just as soon be out of here, I'll tell you that. I don't fancy the
looks of this, sir, not one bit." With an exhale of relief, Bartholomew
signaled up to the breastwork, then headed back. "God be praised."

As Winston waved him on, he spotted Atiba approaching

across the clearing, Serina at his side. The Yoruba still had his
cutlass at his waist, and Serina, her white shift torn and stained from
the underbrush, was now carrying a Spanish flintlock. When she saw
Briggs, she hesitated a second, startled, then advanced on him.

"My damnd Niger!" The planter abruptly recognized them and started to
reach for his pistol. "The very one who tried to kill me, then made off
with my _mulata_ . . ."

Serina lifted her musket and cocked it, not missing a step. "Leave your
gun where it is, Master Briggs, unless you want me to kill you. He is
free now."

"He's a damn'd runaway." Briggs halted. "And I take it you're in with
him now. Well, I'll not be having the two of you loose on this island,
that much I promise you."

Serina strode directly to where he stood. "I am free now too." Her
voice was unwavering. "You can never take me back, if that's what you
have come here to do."

"We'll damn'd well see about that. I laid out good money for the both .
. ."

"There are many free _preto_ on this island. To be black here does not
mean I have to be slave. It is not like an Ingles settlement. I have
learned that already. The Spaniard at the _vigia_ told me there is a
free nation of my people here."

Atiba had moved beside her, gripping the handle of his cutlass. "I do
not know why you have come, whoreson _branco_, but there will be war
against you, like there was on Barbados, if you ever try to enslave any
of my peoples living in this place."

"There'll be slaves here and plenty, sirrah. No runaway black is going
to tell an Englishman how to manage his affairs. Aye, there'll be war,
you may depend on it, till every runaway is hanged and quartered. And
that includes you in particular . . ."

He was suddenly interrupted by a barrage of firing from the woods
behind them, and with a curse he whirled to stare. From out of the
trees a line of Spanish militia was emerging, together with a column of
blacks, all bearing muskets. They wore tall helmets and knelt in ranks
as they methodically began firing on the English infantry. Briggs
paused a second, then ducked and bolted.

"Hugh, we've got to get out of here. Now."  Katherine seized his arm
and started to pull him into the shelter of the breastwork.

Shouts rose up, while helmets and breastplates jangled across the
clearing as the English infantrymen began to scatter. Morris
immediately cocked his musket and returned fire, bringing down a
Spanish musketman, then yelled for his men to find cover. In moments
the morning air had grown opaque with dark smoke, as the infantry
hurriedly retreated to the trees on the opposite side of the clearing
and began piling up makeshift barricades of brush.

"Senhor, I think the damnable war has already begun," Atiba yelled to
Winston as he followed Serina around the corner of the breastwork.

"That it has, and I for one don't want any part of it." He looked back.
"Katy, what do you say we just take our people and get on down to the
Point? Let Morris try and fight them over the rest."

She laughed, coughing from the smoke. "They can all be damned. I'm not
even sure whose side I want to be on anymore."

While Briggs and Calvert huddled with Morris behind the barricade being
set up by the English infantrymen, the four of them quickly made their
way around the side of the fort, out of the shooting. Bartholomew was
waiting by the oak door, the seamen crowded around. Now the fortress
was smpty, while a musket battle between the Spanish and the English
raged across the clearing on its opposite side.

"I've told the lads," he shouted above the din. "They're iust as
pleased to be out of here, that I'll warrant you, now that we've lost
all chance to surprise the town. I'd say we're ready to get back over
to the Point and see what it is we've managed to come up with."

"Good." Winston motioned them forward.

As he led them down the trail, Katherine at his side, he felt a tug at
his sleeve and turned to see Atiba.

"I think we will not be going with you, my friend." The Yoruba was
grim. "Dara says if there is to be a war against the Ingles _branco_
here, then we must join it. This time I believe a woman's counsel is
wise."

"You'd get tangled up in this fray?"

"It could be a damnable long war, I think. Perhaps much years. But I
would meet these free people of my blood, these Maroons."

"But we're going to take the harbor here. You could . . ."

"I am not a man of the sea, my friend. My people are of the forest.
That is what I know and where I want to be. And that is where I will
fight the Ingles, as long as I have breath."

"Well, see you take care. This may get very bad." Winston studied him.
"We're headed down to the Point. You'll always be welcome."

"Then I wish you fortune. Your path may not be easy either. These
damnable Ingles may try to come and take it away from you."

"If they do, then they don't know what a battle is. We're going to make
a free place here yet. And mark it, there'll come a day when
slaveholders like Briggs will be a blot on the name of England and the
Americas. All anybody will want to remember from these times will be
the buccaneers."

"That is a fine ambition." He smiled, then glanced down at Serina. "I
wonder what becomes of this island now, with all of us on it."

"I will tell you." She shifted her musket. "We are going to bring these
Ingles to their knees. Someday they will come to us begging." She
reached up and kissed Katherine, then lightly touched Winston's hand.
Finally she prodded Atiba forward, and in moments they were gone,
through the trees.

"Hugh, I'm not at all sure I like this." Katherine moved next to him as
they continued on down the hill toward the dugouts. Bartholomew was
ahead of them now, leading the _boucaniers_. "I thought we were going
to capture an island. But all we've ended up with is just a piece of
it, a harbor, and all these criminals."

"Katy, what did you once say about thinking you could have it all?"

"I said I'd learned better. That sometimes you've got to settle for
what's possible." She looked up at him. "But you know I wasn't the only
one who had a dream. Maybe you wanted a different kind of independence,
but you had some pretty grand ideas all the same."

"What I wanted was to take Jamaica and make it a free place, but after
what's happened today nobody's going to get this island for a long,
long time."

She looked up to see the river coming into view through the trees, a
glittering ribbon in the early sun. "Then why don't we just make
something of what we have, down there on the Point? For ourselves."

He slipped an arm around her and drew her against him.

"Shall we give it a try?"

      *      *      *      *      *



London



Report of the Council of Foreign Plantations to the Lords of Trade of
the Privy Council Board concerning the Condition of the Americas, with
Recommendations for Furtherance of the Interests of our Merchants.

. . . Having described Barbados, Virginia, Maryland, and New England,
we will now address the Condition of Jamaica subsequent to the demise
of the late (and unlamented) Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration of His
Royal Majesty, Charles Stuart II, to the Throne of England.

Unlike Barbados, which now has 28,515 Black slaves and whose lands
command three times the price of the most Fertile acres in England, the
Island of Jamaica has yet to enjoy prosperous Development for Sugar.
Although its production may someday be expected to Surpass even that of
Barbados (by virtue of its greater Size), it has ever been vexatious to
Govern, and certain Recommendations intended to ammend this Condition
are here set forth.

It is well remembered that after Jamaica was seized from the Spaniards,
the Admiral and Infantry Commander (who shall not be cruelly named
here) were both imprisoned in the Tower by Oliver Cromwell as Reward
for their malfeasance in the Western Design. Furthermore, the English
infantry first garrisoned there soon proved themselves base, slothful
Rogues, who would neither dig nor plant, and in short time many sought
to defect to the Spaniards for want of rations. These same Spaniards
thereafter barbarously scattered their cattle, reducing the English to
eating dogs and snakes, whereupon over two-thirds eventually starved
and died.

The Spaniards did then repair to the mountains of that Island with
their Negroes, where together they waged war for many years against all
English forces sent against them, before at last retiring to live
amongst their fellow Papists on Cuba. After that time, Oliver Cromwell
made offer of Free acres, under the authority of his Great Seal, to any
Protestant in England who would travel thither for purposes of
settlement, but to scant effect. His appeal to New Englanders to come
and plant was in like manner scorned.

Thus for many years Jamaica has remained a great Thorn in the side of
England. Even so, we believe that certain Possibilities of this Island
may soon compensate the Expense of maintaining it until now.

The Reason may be taken as follows. It has long been understood that
the Aspect of our American settlements most profitable to England is
the Trade they have engendered for our Merchants. Foremost among the
Commodities required are Laborers for their Plantations, a Demand we
are at last equippd to supply. The Royal African Company (in which His
Majesty King Charles II and all the Court are fortunate Subscribers)
has been formed and a string of English slaving Fortresses has now been
established on the Guinea coast. The Company has thus far shipped
60,753 Africans to the Americas, of which a full 46,396 survived to be
Marketed, and its most recent yearly dividend to English subscribers
was near to 300%. A prized coin of pure West African gold,
appropriately named the Guinea, has been authorized by His Majesty to
commemorate our Success in this remunerative new Business.

Now that the Assemblies of Virginia and Maryland happily have passed
Acts encouraging the Usefulness of Negro slaves in North America, we
may expect this Trade to thrive abundantly, in light of the Fact that
Blacks on English plantations do commonly Perish more readily than they
breed.

Furthermore, the noblest Plantation in the New World could well one day
be the Island of Jamaica, owing to its abundance of fertile acres, if
two Conditions thwarting its full Development can be addressed.

The first being a band of escaped Blacks and Mullatoes, known to the
Spaniards as Maroons, who make bold to inhabit the mountains of said
Island as a Godless, separate Nation. Having no moral sense, and not
respecting the laws and customs of Civil nations, they daily grow more
insolent and threatening to the Christian planters, brazenly exhorting
their own Blacks to disobedience and revolt. By their Endeavors they
have prevented many valuable tracts of land from being cultivated, to
the great prejudice of His Majesty's revenue. All attempts to quell and
reduce these Blacks (said to live as though still in Africa, with their
own Practices of worship) have availed but little, by virtue of their
unassailable redoubts, a Condition happily not possible on the small
island of Barbados. Our records reveal that some 240,000 pounds
Sterling have thus far been expended in fruitless efforts to bring them
under submission. Yet they must be destroyed or brought in on some
terms, else they will remain a great Discouragement to the settling of
a people on the Island.

It is now concluded that, since all English regiments sent against them
have failed to subdue these Maroons (who fall upon and kill any who go
near their mountain strongholds), efforts must be attempted in another
Direction. Accordingly we would instruct the Governor of the Island,
Sir Benjamin Briggs, to offer terms of Treaty to their leader, a
heathenish Black reported to be called by the name Etiba, whereby each
Nation may henceforth exist in Harmony.

The other Condition subverting full English control of the island is
the Town that thrives at the Entrance to Jamaica Bay, a place called
Cayo de Carena by the Spaniards and now known, in honor of the
Restoration of His Majesty, as Port Royal. Said Port scarcely upholds
its name, being beholden to none save whom it will. It is home to those
Rovers of the sea calling themselves Buccaneers, a willful breed of men
formerly of Tortuga, who are without Religion or Loyalty. Travelling
whither they choose, they daily wreak depredations upon the shipping of
the Spaniard (taking pieces-of-eight in the tens of millions) and have
made the Kingdom of the Sea their only allegiance.

Unlike our own Failure to settle prosperous Plantations on Jamaica,
this port has enjoyed great Success (of a certain Kind). No city
founded in the New World has grown more quickly than this place, nor
achieved a like degree of Wealth. It is now more populous than any
English town in the Americas save Boston--and it has realized a
position of Importance equalled only by its infamous Reputation. In
chase of the stolen Spanish riches that daily pour in upon its streets,
merchants will pay more for footage along its front than in the heart
of London. Having scarce supply of water, its residents do drink mainly
strong liquors, and our Census has shown there are not now resident in
this Port ten men to every Tippling House, with the greatest number of
licenses (we are advisd) having been issued to a certain lewd Woman
once of Barbados, who has now repaired thither to the great advancement
of her Bawdy Trade.

Although this Port has tarnished the Name of England by its
headquartering of these insolent Buccaneers, it is yet doubtful whether
the Island would still be in His Majesty's possession were it not for
the Fear they strike in the heart of the Spaniards, who would otherwise
long since have Reclaimed it.

The chiefest of these Rovers, an Englishman known to all, has wrought
much ill upon the Spaniards (and on the Hollanders, during our recent
war), for which Service to England (and Himself) he is now conceived by
His Majesty as a Gentleman of considerable parts, though he has acted
in diverse ways to obstruct our quelling of the island's meddlesome
Maroons.

Accordingly, His Majesty has made known to the Council his Desire that
we strive to enlist this Buccaneer's good offices in persuading his
Rovers (including a notorious Woman, equally well known, said to be his
Wife, who doth also sail with these Marauders) to uphold English
jurisdiction of the Island and its Port. Should this Design fall out as
desir'd, His Majesty has hopes that (by setting, as he would have it
privately, these Knights of the Blade in charge of his Purse) he can
employ them to good effect.

In furtherance of this end, it is His Majesty's pleasure that we, in
this coming year, recall Sir Benjamin Briggs (whose honesty His Majesty
has oft thought Problemmatical) and make effort to induce this
Buccaneer to assume the post of Governor of Jamaica.



      *      *      *      *      *



                            Afterword



In the foregoing I have attempted to distill the wine of history into
something more like a brandy, while still retaining as much authentic
flavor as possible. Many of the episodes in the novel are fictionalized
renderings of actual events, albeit condensed, and the majority of
individuals depicted also were drawn from life. The action spans
several years, from the first major slave auction on Barbados, thought
to have occurred slightly before mid-century, to the English seizure of
Jamaica in 1655. The structure of race and economics in England's
Caribbean colonies changed dramatically in those short years, a social
transformation on a scale quite unlike any other I can recall. The
execution of King Charles and the Barbados war of independence also
took place during that crucial time.

All documents, letters, and broadsides cited here are essentially
verbatim save the two directly involving Hugh Winston. Of the people,
there naturally were many more involved than a single novel could
encompass. Hugh Winston is a composite of various persons and
viewpoints of that age (such as Thomas Tryon), ending of course with
the famous buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan, later appointed Governor of
Jamaica in recognition of his success pillaging Spanish treasure.
Governor Dalby Bedford is a combination of Governor Philip Bell and his
successor Francis, Lord Willoughby. (Neither was actually killed in the
Barbados revolution. The revolt collapsed when, after defectors had
welcomed Parliament's forces ashore, five days of rain immobilized the
planters, whereupon a stray English cannon ball knocked down the door
of a plantation house where the island's militia commanders were
gathered and laid out one of the sentries, demoralizing them into
surrender.) Katherine Bedford was inspired by Governor Bell's wife, "in
whome by reason of her quick and industrious spirit lay a great stroak
of the government." Benjamin Briggs is an embodiment of many early
settlers; his installation of the first sugar mill on the island and
his construction of a walled compound for protection recall James Drax
and Drax Hall, and his later career is not unlike that of Thomas
Modyford, a prosperous Barbados planter who later became governor of
Jamaica.

Anthony and Jeremy Walrond are vaguely reminiscent of the prominent
royalists Humphrey and George Walrond. Edmond Calvert was drawn for
some portions of the story from Sir George Ayscue and for others from
Admiral William Penn. Richard Morris is a combination of Captain
William Morris and General Robert Venables, and James Powlett recalls
Vice Admiral Michael Pack. Most of the Council and Assembly members
appearing here were actually in those bodies, and my Joan Fuller is
homage to a celebrated Bridgetown brothel proprietor of the same name;
of them all, I sincerely hope I have done most justice to her memory.

Jacques le Basque was modeled on various early boucaniers--beginning
with Pierre le Grand, the first to seize a Spanish ship (using
dugouts), and ending with the much-hated French buccaneer-king Le
Vasseur, who built Forte de la Roche and its "dovecote." Tibaut de
Fontenay was the latter's nephew, who murdered him much as described
over the matter of a shared mistress.

Although Serina, as mulatto "bed-warmer" to Benjamin Briggs, had no
specific prototype at that early time (a condition soon to change, much
to the dismay of English wives at home), Atiba was inspired by a Gold
Coast slave named Coffe who led an unsuccessful revolt on Barbados in
the seventeenth century, intending to establish a black nation along
African lines. As punishment he and several others were ("burned alive,
being chained at the stake." When advised of his sentence, he
reportedly declared, "If you roast me today, you cannot roast me
tomorrow." A contemporary broadside depicting the affair retailed
briskly in London. Atiba's subsequent career, as a Maroon leader with
whom the English eventually were forced to negotiate, also had various
historical models, including the fearsome Cudjoe, head of a warlike
nation of free Negroes still terrifying English planters on Jamaica
almost eighty years after it was seized.

Very few physical artifacts survive from those years. On Barbados one
can see Drax Hall, on which Briggs Hall was closely modeled, and little
else. On Tortuga, this writer chopped his way through the jungle and
located the site of Le Vasseur's Forte de la Roche and "dovecote." A
bit of digging uncovered some stonework of the fort's outer wall, but
all that remained of the "dovecote" was a single plaster step, almost
three and a half centuries old, once part of its lower staircase and
now lodged in the gnarled root of a Banyan tree growing against the
huge rock atop which it was built. On Jamaica there seems to be nothing
left, save a few relics from the heyday of Port Royal. Only the people
of those islands, children of a vast African diaspora, remain as living
legacy of Europe's sweet tooth in the seventeenth century.

The story here was pieced together from many original sources, for
which thanks is due the superb Library and Rare look Room of Columbia
University, the Rare Book Room of the New York Public Library, the
Archives of Barbados, and the Institute of Jamaica, Kingston. For
information on Yoruba culture and practices, still very much alive in
Brazil in parts of the Caribbean, I am grateful to Dr. John Mason of
the Yoruba Theological Seminary, the Caribbean Cultural Center of New
York, and friends in Haiti who have over the years exposed me to
Haitian _vodun_. For information on Tortuga and the boucaniers,
including some vital research on Forte de la Roche, I am indebted to
the archeologist Daniel Koski-Karell; and for their hospitality to an
enquiring novelist I thank Les Freres des Ecoles chretiennes, Christian
Brothers missionaries on the Isle de la Tortue, Haiti. I am also
grateful to Dr. Gary Puckrein, author of Little England, for his
insights concerning the role slavery played in Barbados' ill-starred
attempt at independence.

Those friends who have endured all or portions of this manuscript, pen
in hand, and provided valuable criticisms and suggestions include, in
alphabetical order--Norman and Susan Fainstein, Joanna Field, Joyce
Hawley, Julie Hoover, Ronald Miller, Ann Prideaux, Gary Prideaux, and
Peter Radetsky. Without them this could never have been completed. I am
also beholden to my agent, Virginia Barber, and to my editor, Anne
Hukill Yeager, for their tireless encouragement and assistance.



          BOOKS BY THOMAS HOOVER



        Nonfiction

          Zen Culture

          The Zen Experience



        Fiction

         The Moghul

         Caribbee

         Wall Street Samurai

             (The Samurai Strategy)

         Project Daedalus

         Project Cyclops

         Life Blood

         Syndrome



All free as e-books at

www.thomashoover.info





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