Voyage of the Istanbul Tigress Ch. 03byEricCalder©
June 1799, Calabrian Coast of Southern Italy
The night was a moonless black and the mountainous shore could only be seen by noting a lack of stars in one direction. They took two boats and a cutter. Hamilton lead one, with Zuberi along to translate, while Ahmar lead the other. The cutter had only a minimal crew, as it was expected there would be many captives to ferry back to the ship. The boats were run up onto the small beach easily and a pair of men left to stand guard. Hamilton organized the rest of the men in a rough column and started inland. The twins Almas and Akouta were sent forward as scouts, each with a pair of muskets slung over her back, and a pistol in her belt.
Hamilton shook out his hat, now with a Jacobin cockade, and put it on. He had insisted, over the objections of Katherine, that the bandages on his head be removed. Rachel Palmer had added rich epaulets and other garish flourishes to his jacket. At his side was the sword given to him by the Pasha-Bey of Tunis. The entire result was not right for French naval officers, but he hoped that in the darkness and confusion it would be close enough for townspeople who would only have seen the occasional French Hussar.
The town of Belvederi was only two miles from shore, but it was a hard two miles up steep, twisting paths. After crossing the second hill they could finally see an outline of the town against the faint glow of a dozen flickering lamps inside the walls. There were two gates into the town, neither of which seemed to guarded well, if at all. Hamilton split his small force in two and sent axmen to the front. The gates was cracked open after a few heavy blows, and within less than a minute, they were inside, shouting and firing off muskets to wake the sleeping town.
Hamilton stood in the town square ten minutes later as the leading citizens were brought out, most still in their nightshirts. Only a few men in the town had tried to resist, two of them taking musket bullets, but no one had been killed. The assault had been so swift and unexpected, most were more confused than anything else.
"Tell him I want women brought out," Hamilton said, speaking quietly to Zuberi.
Zuberi spoke the local dialect well enough to be understood. The town leaders mumbled to themselves until one man stepped, hesitatingly, to the front. He answered Zuberi.
"He wants to know who you are and why he should do this," Zuberi said.
"Ahmar, send ten men and go round to those buildings, along that street where the lamps are lit. Look for suitable women and bring them out." Hamilton gestured wildly but spoke quietly. He didn't trust his rudimentary French and it would be a disaster if the townspeople found out he was English.
The town's mayor put his hands together and pleaded, as tears streamed down his face. Hamilton walked up to the man, then slowly pulled out his pistol and pointed it at his head.
The desperate man froze in terror, his eyes crossed as he looked at the muzzle less than a foot from his forehead. He cried out, "Prena aviri medere! Latru! Non sciavo sacrifiziu lu cori citadina!"
"He begs you to stop," Zuberi said. "You are a thief and taking slaves will destroy this town."
Hamilton pulled back on the hammer slowly, the sharp metal clicks seemed louder in the still night air, but it did not stop the mayor from frantically pleading, "Nave degli sciavi! Devu pagari ora pi' favuri!"
"He wants to pay a ransom."
Hamilton glanced at Zuberi and then pulled his pistol back and carefully set the hammer back down. He watched the mayor with narrow eye, then shook his head and threw up his hand in a dismissive gesture, trying to act the part of a haughty French revolutionary.
There was a scream from the far side of the plaza. Ahmar and his men brought forth a dozen young women and herded them into the square. Hamilton congratulated him on his fine catch. He looked down at one of the dark haired beauties and reached out for her face. She spat on his uniform. One of the sailors instantly grabbed her, but Hamilton stopped him from slapping her. He turned back to Zuberi and the mayor.
"Tell him, that Mor Cuanaich demands one hundred beautiful women," Hamilton whispered. "Make sure he knows that fighting for the liberty of Italy requires gold, and that these slaves will help pay for the defense of the great Parthenopaean Republic. He will be making a noble sacrifice."
Zuberi did. They mayor began to plead, "Troppu grandi!" over and over.
Hamilton felt a droplet sliding down the side of his face. He touched it and saw, to his disgust, that his head wound was bleeding again. The mayor's pleading was giving him a headache. Hamilton glared at the frightened mayor, then fired his pistol over the man's head. The mayor flinched and ran back, frightened by the crazed man with blood streaming down his face. Zuberi yelled and the man stopped running.
"Tell him one hundred women in the next ten minutes -- one hundred beautiful young women -- or I will burn the town."
Thirty captives were rounded up quickly. Almas and Akouta managed to find a pair of hidden storerooms where a dozen more had been sent to hide. Twenty minutes later eighty slaves were huddled between musket wielding men in the town square. The sailors had bound the women's arms behind their back and taken small lines, knotted once, for use as gags. In some cases hobbles were tied to the captive's ankles, but most of the women were too terrified to do anything but obey.
"This will be enough for us," Hamilton whispered. "But tell him that he is to send one hundred slaves down to Straca Marina at dawn. If he fails, then both towns will be turned over to Mor Cuanaich's men and the French dragoons."
Zuberi told the shocked men, who stood frozen.
"Secure lanterns from these people, we'll use them on the way back." Hamilton ordered. "Ahmar, keep five men and the twins behind our column to make sure they don't try to follow us."
The line of captives set out, slowly winding down the narrow tracks back towards the beach. Five of the women managed to escape in the dark, but the rest were placed on board the cutter or distributed to one of the boats. It was crowded, though none of the men minded being pressed tightly against one of the frightened women. By dawn the slaves had placed in one of three makeshift cages built in the Tigress' lower decks.
"Up anchor!" Hamilton shouted once the boats were secure.
The orders were given and the men, tired but very pleased with their catch, hauled round the capstan. The anchor cable tightened and soon it was lifted from the water and catted.
"Hands aloft to make sail!" Hamilton yelled.
Zuberi called out the orders in Arabic and Turkish and the men ran aloft, those on the mizzen mast following behind the agile twins.
"Mr. Ahmar, shake the reefs from the tops'ls and make ready to set courses. We'll bend east-by-south and when we clear the first mile we shall set t'gallants and stays'ls. I want as much canvas as she'll take, so make ready with stuns'ls."
"As you wish, Captain," said Ahmar, "I will add preventer stays fore and main."
"Very good, Mr. Ahmar." Hamilton turned and shouted to the crew, "man the sheets and halyards! Stand by! Stand by, lads! Avast and let fall!" Hamilton watched the sails as they unfurled and took the wind. The evolutions for making sail were clear enough to the experienced sailors that Zuberi's translation wasn't really needed. "Quartermaster, out the wheel two points starboard and a half! On deck there! Tend the lee braces! Haul taut! Handsomely, now! Handsomely! Belay!"
A cry came from the maintop.
"He sees smoke, Captain," Zuberi said. "He says it is from Straca Marina. He says... Captain, he says he sees the beached war galley in flames!"
"I would imagine those people we met last night are not favorability disposed towards Mor Cuanaich."
There was laughter and the Tigress moved off the southern Italian coast, heading east towards Greece.
The ship was rolling harder, when night came again. Hamilton had ordered the bulkhead separating his cabin and the smaller fore-cabin to be struck and the large table from the wardroom placed inside. He invited Van Schoonhoven and the officers, such as they were, to celebrate their outwitting of Mor Cuanaich and the capture of 75 attractive female slaves.
"To Captain Hamilton, yes, yes, a great man!" Van Schoonhoven said as a toast. There were smiles all around, some drinking from a case of French wine while others preferred Turkish raki.
"A clever ruse, Captain," Ahmar said with a half-smile. "Mor Cuanaich will be angry."
"This is not a time to worry about such things!" Van Schoonhoven bellowed. "We drink! We sing! We fuck the women, yes?"
"You are both right, gentleman," Hamilton said. "I will say this, though. It will be a day, perhaps two, before he makes good on the loss of supplies from his Italian haven. That should be more than enough time for us to sprint to Corfu or Paxos."
"Do not the French control those islands now?" Van Schoonhoven's tone shifted instantly to concern. "That Corsican of theirs, this Bonaparte, he is everywhere! He swallowed Venice, yes?"
Ghanashyam, called Ganny by those who could not pronounce his name, a Hindu who acted as the purser and secretary, nodded his head. "That is true, Pieter, but the French were driven from Corfu and the rest of the Ionian Islands not more than one hundred days ago."
"The Russian fleet was there," Ahmar added.
"Yes," Ghanashyam laughed, "the Russians helping the Turk, who would believe it!"
"Exactly, gentleman. In six weeks it may be different, but now, the western islands of Greece will be filled with ships hostile to those renegade pirates. It will be a simple cruise." Hamilton looked around the room at the men, all now with much more confidence in his leadership. He smiled, although he doubted the remainder of the voyage would be uneventful. Mor Cuanaich was almost certain to catch sight of them as they rounded the Peloponnese.
"Slaves! Let us see some of these fine, fine, women, yes!"
That brought more cheers.
Katherine Abington and Rachel Palmer were already in the room, standing behind Hamilton, and the blonde Rana stood behind Van Schoonhoven. Ahmar had his favorite Basmah, a dark skinned, petite woman who had been taken from somewhere in Egypt and eventually sold in Tunis. All the women were dressed with light silks that draped over their faces, and slightly heavier cloth around their hips. Each stood submissively.
"Mr. Ganny, if you please, pass the word for three of the new slaves to be brought here."
There was more laughter and the cabin door was opened. Twenty five of the new slaves had been given to the crew, and already, after only six hours, they had been subjected to hard use. The remaining fifty were being kept apart. Those would be made available to officers and as special rewards for the crew, though it had been agreed to keep the use of the lash minimal and so preserve their value when sold.
Three of these women, some of the choicest of the lot, were brought forward. All were dark haired, with lithe bodies and bouncing breasts. None of the new captives had been formally renamed.
Hamilton pointed to the middle slave. Zuberi asked her what he name was.
The men in the room grew quiet as the slave said, "Andrea Falasco." They all applauded and laughed. Orhan, a Turk who acted as the Captain's coxswain, reached out and grabbed her. She shrieked and tried to push him away. Hamilton glanced at Katherine and saw her staring with a mixture of fascination and fear as Andrea was pulled forward and a length of rope tied to her wrists.
Zuberi asked the other two woman for their names and discovered that Cecilia was the tall one, Lucilla the shorter. Unlike Andrea they were afraid to mention their family name, and no one cared enough to press the issue.
Andrea, her wrists bound before her, was pushed up to the table. Orhan stood up and grabbed the other end of her rope and quickly knotted it through an iron ring in a beam above them. Now kneeling, with her hands bound above her, she looked back and forth at the men who now owned her and screamed. Rana, who had been given the task of holding pre-made gags, passed one to Orhan. He yanked hard on Andrea's hair, pulling her head back roughly as he shoved the knot into her mouth and then secured the gag.
Hamilton pointed to Cecilia, "Slave! Get up there."
There was no need for a translation, Cecilia slowly moved forward. The men pulled their chairs back and gave her room to crawl up on the table.
"Roll over. On your back."
Cecilia hesitated but then obeyed. She tried to keep her hands on her breasts and her legs together.
"Slide up so that you can taste your friend's pussy," Hamilton said. Zuberi translated this order, and Cecilia, though she was horrified, slowly pulled herself up and underneath the bound Andrea. Cecilia put her hands around Andrea's legs, and bent her head up until her tongue just touched the other woman's slit.
Men were caressing both women's breasts, while Zuberi slowly let two fingers slide in and out of Cecilia. Her hips squirmed at his invasion, but she kept her tongue pressed to Andrea's cunt. The bound and gagged Andrea was spanked hard on the ass when she tried to wriggle free of Cecilia's touch.
Lucilla had tried to hide in the corner, but she was quickly brought forth and her hands bound behind her back. The men maneuvered her onto the table with a precision reserved for setting a topgallant royal, placing her so that she straddled the prone Cecilia while leaning forward so that her mouth could reach Andrea's breasts. Lucilla cried in protest as the sailors pulled the ropes from her arms to another metal ring, leaving her in a painful strappado.
The result was a right triangle of slaves. Andrea, kneeling with her hands above her head as Cecilia lay under her with a tongue to her cunt, and Lucilla kept at an angle so that her legs straddled Cecilia and her mouth sucked on Andrea's breasts.
Hamilton sat back, watching the men play with the slaves. He certainly didn't mind this show, he enjoyed it very much, but it also served to establish his leadership. He turned around and looked for Katherine. With a nod the blonde Viscountess stepped forward and fell to her knees. She reached out and unbuttoned his breeches, slowly bringing out his hard shaft. Katherine leaned forward and let her lips embrace the tip of his cock as Hamilton rested his hand on her head. She kissed down his shaft and then let her tongue slide back up before opening her mouth wide and taking his cock deep into her throat.
On the table one of the men began to spank Lucilla's ass, but with her arms already in a painful strappado she didn't seem to notice. She kept sucking on Andrea's breasts as the men shifted her from one to the other.
Hamilton watched and idly put both hands on Katherine's head. He pushed her down slightly on each down stroke, slowly taking control of her head as she bobbed back and forth. Katherine sucked deeply, her eyes looking up at him as she tried to please him. By the time the men were flicking small droplets of hot wax at the struggling women on the table he had taken full control of Katherine's motions, sliding her back and forth rapidly on his shaft. She let him use her without resistance as she concentrated on making sure her teeth did not touch his hard cock.
Lucilla cried out as a large section of wax dribbled down her back into the crack of her ass. The men, now well filled with alcohol, roared with laughter. Hamilton felt the erotic power of owning these woman, of having been able to seize them and force them into servitude. It was wrong, he knew, dimly, in some part of his mind, but it felt so very good. Hamilton felt the pleasure rising and until it exploded, and his cum slid deep into Katherine's mouth. He released her head so she could suck deeply and capture every drop.
The party continued and hours later, in the calm night, Hamilton was surprised to wake up and find Lucilla in his cot. He sent her back to the cages below and fell instantly back to sleep.
Hamilton looked up into the almost total darkness. His head hurt, whether from wine or his wound or both he didn't know.
"Yes, master. I'm frightened."
Hamilton allowed her into his cot and, once again, fell instantly asleep.
Hamilton's head still throbbed in the morning, although the bleeding had at last stopped and the wound was looking better. He forced himself to concentrate on the charts spread out on the table in his cabin. Most were in Turkish or Arabic or Persian, though some were in French and one in Greek. Zuberi had provided translations for many things, but it was still difficult. The style was different from Admirality charts, and it was irritating to have to deal with distances measured in farsangs as opposed to good English sea-miles and leagues.
"Damn," Hamilton said, pushing back from the desk. Even the simplest calculations were difficult this morning.
Katherine, who had been lying on the cot reading a book, sat up. She was naked, with just a blanket loosely wrapped around her body.
"There is nothing wrong, please leave me be," he snapped.
"I would imagine you are suffering the effects of all that raki you drank last night."
"I'm sorry, master." She stood up, still wrapped in the blanket, and walked over to him. "Would you feel better if you used me?"
"No. Not now." He pulled out a chart of the islands off western Greece.
"Which one is Ithaca?"
"I would have thought the larger one. Will we stop there? I'd dearly love to see the home of Odysseus."
"No. We will stop here. Paxos. I'm going to have to take on a local pilot to guide us down the coast of Greece."
"And after that, Edward, do we go to Istanbul?"
"Yes." He put his arm around her waist and looked up at her. "Are you still frightened?"
"I was frightened because of those poor girls last night, by the way in which they were taken, by the lusts of the men. I don't think I could live like that. I have always dreamed of the Harem, for as long as I can remember, but, as foolish as it sounds, I never wondered whether I would end up in anything less than a world of silk and baths and elegant princes."
"You are more than a beautiful woman, you are a prize. They will take good care of you in the Harem."
"And what is wrong with that, hm? To be desired by the ruler of an Empire to such a degree that you can influence the course of his policies."
"Yes. Though that is only because he is a bit weak minded. And yet... I..."
"What's wrong? If you are having doubts about this then tell me now. We are likely to pass Russian ships, I could put you and Miss Palmer on one of those."
"Oh, no! No, Edward. I mean, no master." She pulled the blanket over her head and made a silly face. "It's just, I don't know, as a child I was given everything I could have wished for, but it wasn't enough. It was never enough. I wanted adventure! I married Henry because he could give that to me. And he has! Henry is a good man, in his own way, but he is cold and ruthless in his work. He is deep in the center of a tangle of webs that spread from London all across Europe. I know he loves me even though I don't love him. But he has given me what I want: the means to seek adventure, while I have given him what he wants."
"Intelligence? Like from your surreptitious trip to Spain to seduce their generals?"
"Yes, there was that, but it was mainly colonels," she said, adding excitedly, "I also uncovered Jacobin sympathizers who had been hidden amongst the French exiles in London, that was much more thrilling. But... but now even those adventures are not enough."