(First published at Aquadude’s Bunker on July 17, 2014)
AJAMU THE SLAVE
1 – HOPE
“Are you really sure, Ajamu, that you want to do this?”
Charles Bellamy looked intently at the young black man standing in front of his desk. There stood Ajamu, now 24 years old, and since his birth a slave on the estate of Charles Bellamy. He stood tall. He was barefoot, wearing linen breeches and an old torn shirt. The poor ragged clothes did not conceal the fact that this young slave was a muscular and strong man. He was tense, clearly because this conversation with his master was very important to him.
“Yes Massa, me sure. I love my Makena. Me want us to be free. Me go to Pit and fight, Massa, and win. Ajamu can fight, Massa, really! Ajamu is fighter. And then Ajamu and his Makena free, like Massa say to me.”
Charles Bellamy sighed deeply, and looked with respect at his young slave. This young man had worked like no other on his estate. He had toiled and worked with all his strength and determination on the sugarcane plantation, cutting cane, making bundles, powering the mill and working in the boiling house. Ever since Charles Bellamy had told his slave, who had a good mind, that he could earn money and save up to buy his freedom.
Ajamu had understood that this was a way out of slavery and to freedom. Not that his life as a slave was hellish like on other plantations. Massa Charles was a humane master. He allowed his slaves to choose their own names, and he never had any of them whipped, as far as Ajamu could remember.
And then Ajamu had heard about the Pit. This was a new entertainment for wealthy planters in Kingston, where they would bring their strongest slaves and had them fight each other in a pit. The planters would place bets, and rumour had it that a lot of money was made. Ajamu knew that he was strong. His life of continuous hard work had made his body very muscular and had given him enormous stamina. And he had a veritable fighter spirit. His mind was set on his freedom, and his will also was strong. So he had asked his master if he could enter the Pit, and make money for his master and for himself.
Charles Bellamy had reluctantly agreed. He knew the brutality of the Pit, where slaves were forced to fight like modern day gladiators. Although they were not allowed arms, the fights were brutal and injuries frequent. But that only made the fights more interesting to the sadistic planters, who loved to watch young strong black slaves battle it out. He hated the idea that his slave Ajamu would enter that hellish arena. But there was the very precarious financial situation of his own, relatively small, estate. He was indebted to his wealthy neighbour, Lord William Beckford. The money made by Ajamu in the Pit, and his slave’s savings could help him pay off some of that debt. That would be preferable to going bankrupt, and see his slaves all sold to other estates…
So he had agreed. And from that moment on Ajamu had worked even harder in the fields, to become even stronger. Charles Bellamy had given orders to the cook to make sure his food would contribute. And on top of that Ajamu had started to train, and wrestle, box and fight other slaves, to prepare himself for the Pit. And all that time his mind was on one thing only: freedom for his beloved Makena, a girl slave of 18 years old on Bellamy’s estate and working in the main house, and for himself.
The result was that Ajamu had grown into an impressive athlete, with a strong muscular body. His work and the training had given him the body of an all round athlete. Energy, strength and determination were written all over his handsome appearance.
“All right then, Ajamu. We have an agreement. In three months we will go to Kingston for the Pit tournament. The proceeds of your fights we will share. I will ad your winnings to your savings, and that will be sufficient for you to buy your freedom and that of Makena. I just wish you good luck, my boy, in that pit…”
Ajamu felt a surge of excitement inside him, and a smile came to his handsome face.
“Thank you, Massa, thank you! Ajamu will fight and win!”
Charles Bellamy smiled also, and dismissed his slave with a wave of his hand. Ajamu energetically turned around and left the office. A few seconds later Charles observed him running across the quad in front of the main house towards the slave barracks. No doubt he was on his way to tell his beloved Makena…
2 – BECKFORD
It was late afternoon when Lord William Beckford ended his business conversation with Charles Bellamy.
“Well then, Bellamy, I will give you until after harvest. But that is my last offer: then I will insist upon your starting to pay me back the loan to you. I mean well, Bellamy! I do not wish to see you bankrupt. But do not forget that I never agreed to your way of managing your plantation. You could get far greater profit from it by starting to introduce some sense in the treatment of your slaves. The cost is too high! It is cheaper to work them at low cost until they are all spent, and then you buy fresh strong ones. Anyway, this is your last chance, Bellamy. Fail to pay me back, and I will have your estate sold.”
Charles Bellamy felt a knot in his stomach, but he kept his composure.
“I thank you, Mylord, and I assure you: you will not be disappointed. You will have your money in about 4 months.”
With a grunt Lord Beckford rose to his feet. He was one of the richest plantation owners on the island of Jamaica, and one of his estates, the Westmoreland plantation, was adjacent to Charles Bellamy’s property. He also was a sugar planter, and a ruthless one. He was notorious for his treatment of black slaves. He worked them to death, and imposed discipline by harsh and cruel punishments. It was said that no back of any of Lord Beckford’s slaves was unmarked by scars, caused by a whipping…
“All right then, Bellamy. There it is. Now, I would like to have a look at your plantation. The worst of the heat is over by now. You can show me how your ideas on managing the estate are supposed to work out.”
The sarcasm in Lord Beckford’s voice did not escape Charles Bellamy, but he bowed with deference.
“By all means, Mylord. I am happy to show you.”
The two men stepped out of the main house. At the veranda steps Lord Beckford’s carriage was waiting. Also his overseer Edwards was there, on horseback, and the two black drivers Castor and Pollux. Edwards was a mean looking man, and he was known to be quick in having slaves harshly punished. The two drivers, black slaves themselves but with priviliges for doing the job of keeping slaves in check, were both heavy set and strong men. They were armed with knives and a pistol, and carried whips on their belts.
Lord Beckford invited Charles Bellamy to join him in the carriage, and on his sign the party went on its way.
They went past the boiling house, the sugarcane mill, the sheds where the sugarcane bundles were kept, and the slave quarters. Then they took a tour of the sugarcane fields where the slaves were still working, their last hour or so of another day of hard work under the heat of the sun and the humidity of the Jamaica climate.
Finally they returned towards the main house, and on their way they passed the slave quarters on the other side. There something caught Lord Beckford’s eye, and he ordered his carriage-driver to stop.
On a piece of lawn two black men were wrestling. One was older, maybe 40 years old, a sturdy and solid man. The other was a young man. Both were stripped to the waist, and sweating profusely. They were fighting, but it quickly became clear that theirs was not a fight, but a friendly, albeit serious, training fight.
Lord Beckford looked with fascination at the young black man. He fought with strength and agility. His movements were supple and quick. His eyes were intent and focused. Every muscle in his beautifully built body was taut.
“Bellamy! What is that?!”
Charles Bellamy smiled, feeling proud that Ajamu had evidently attracted the admiration of his guest.
“That, Mylord, is my slave Ajamu. He likes to train himself as a fighter.”
Lord Beckford looked at his host.
“Ajamu? What kind of name is that? Sounds African to me.”
Then he turned towards the lawn.
“Hey! Hey boy! Come here, slave!”
Ajamu stopped wrestling. He looked up at the carriage, and saw the other men on horse-back. He got to his feet, and panting he walked over to the carriage. His naked upper body was shining with sweat, and his muscles were all pumped from the exertion of the fight.
“Yes, Massa Sir?”
Lord Beckford looked him over head to toe.
“Well, Bellamy, I must say. A prime negro buck you have there! Looks like you can get a lot of work out of this one. And a fighter, too, eh?”
Ajamu felt humiliated as he saw Beckford’s eyes roam over his body, while he made his comments. His eyes met those of Charles Bellamy, who seemed a bit surprised.
“Mr. Edwards! Take a good look at this buck, will you?”
The overseer nodded and alighted. The stepped up to Ajamu and started to examine him like a piece of cattle. He squeezed Ajamu’s broad and strong shoulders. He felt up Ajamu’s thick biceps, his solid underarms, his slabs of pectoral muscle, and his deeply ridged abdominals. Then he felt up his thighs and buttocks. he walked round and pounded lightly Ajamu’s shoulder blades and back muscles.
Ajamu was suddenly aware that he was the only half naked man present. All the others were clothed, either richly like his master and Lord Beckford, or ordinarily like the overseer Edwards. Also the two drivers were clothed…he stood there, barefoot, naked upper body and just wearing his old breeches.
Finally Edwards grabbed Ajamu by his hair and pulled back his head. He forced his mouth open and pried inside, examining his teeth. Ajamu became all rigid and tense, but he remained calm.
Mr. Edwards reported.
“Mylord, a fine specimen indeed, Sir. Hard and thick muscle all over his body, Sir. Hardly any fat on him. Solid build, strong as an ox. Young, and healthy. Like I say, Mylord, a prime negro.”
Lord Beckford looked at Ajamu again and pondered for a short while. Then he apparently made a decision.
“Bellamy, I will buy this young buck from you. I give you a very good price! I am willing to pay 90 Pounds!”
Ajamu could not believe his ears. He looked with disbelief in his eyes at his master. Charles Bellamy hesitantly spoke.
“Mylord, eh…, well,…this slave…I mean Ajamu…well, Sir, he is not for sale..”
An irritation appeared in Beckford’s face.
“Now you listen to me, Bellamy. You are in no position to refuse. Do not forget that you owe me a lot of money!”
Charles Bellamy swallowed.
“Mylord, this slave…I have promised him to fight in the Pit and earn his freedom, together with his loved one, Makena…”
For a moment Beckford looked at Charles Bellamy in disbelief, and then again at Ajamu, who stood next to the carriage, his chest heaving with anxiety, his fists clenched.
“Ah so. Fight in the Pit. Well well. Yes, I can see the logic of that. He is certainly constructed for it, and it looks like this beast has a will, too. Yes, he will do very well in the Pit, I am sure.”
Beckford took a riding crop and planted it under Ajamu’s chin, forcing his face up.
“So, tell me, boy. You want to fight? Fight for some bitch you are hot for? Eh?”
Ajamu felt anger rise up inside him, but he forced himself to remain calm.
“Yes Massa Sir, Ajamu fight in Pit, and set his Makena and meself free.”
Beckford nodded, grinned and turned to his host.
“Bellamy, show me that negro bitch he likes, will you?”
Charles Bellamy reluctantly nodded.
“She is at the house, Mylord.”
“Good! Let’s go then! Edwards, make sure this boy comes along, will you?”
As the carriage started to move, Edwards got on his horse, and with his left boot kicked Ajamu in the back.
Ajamu felt himself pushed forward, he quickly glanced back with anger at Edwards, but then started to walk and soon jog, to keep up with the carriage. Edwards noticed the glance of defiance in Ajamu’s eyes, and came to ride very close to him. He bowed foreward a bit.
“I sure hope you’ll get sold to us, you black nigger boy! You’ll get to feel the sting of my whip on that black skin of yours real soon! Now run, nigger!”
Another kick into Ajamu’s back made him run faster. He ignored the pain in his back, and decided to keep calm.
Soon the group reached the main house, and Charles Bellamy called out Makena’s name.
She came out and immediately was alarmed at the sight of all the men outside, especially her Ajamu. He stood, sweating and panting, between the horses and next to the carriage. Apart from her master, she sensed the menace in the eyes of all those men.
Beckford was the first to speak.
“Come here, wench, show yourself.”
A quick glance at her master showed Makena that the situation was serious. She stepped down the veranda and approached the carriage. Lord Beckford let his eyes rest on the young black girl, wearing her simple dress.
Impatiently Lord Beckford spoke again.
“Well, come on, wench! We want to inspect you! Take that dress off!”
Makena’s eyes became wide with apprehension. Ajamu tensed up and clenched his fists. Edwards noticed this, and his hand moved to the whip curled around his saddle-knob.
While Charles Bellamy looked at her with a sense of helplessness in his eyes, Makena started to open the buttons of her dress. A moment later the dress fell from her shoulders, and she stood naked. Her young, beautiful body all open to the lustful gaze of Lord Beckford and his men.
“Well, Bellamy, I can see it will indeed be a good idea to have this wench and this buck be used for breeding! They will produce excellent quality new slaves! The wench will be good for the house of my estate, and the buck…well, he will be an excellent field hand. And, of course, he will go to the Pit for sure! To fight for me, and fill my wallet with good pounds! Haha! So, I give you 150 Pounds for these two.”
Makena’s eyes were on her Ajamu, and they became filled with tears. She silently mouthed his name, and he understood. Then she looked at her master, and begged.
“Massa Sir, please! No! Not sell me and Ajamu now, Massa! You promise we to be free! Massa!”
Ajamu now could no longer restrain himself. He stepped forward towards the carriage.
“Massa Bellamy Sir! Ajamu wants work and fight for freedom, like you says, Massa. Be free!”
A that moment the crack of a whip sounded.
Pain exploded in Ajamu’s back as the whip wielded by Edwards lashed into him from behind, and he arched his back.
“Shut your mouth, nigger!”
Ajamu turned around fast, just to look into the drawn pistols of the two drivers, who sat grinning on their horses.
Charles Bellamy felt awful, but he had no choice. He just nodded to Lord Beckford, and then stepped out of the carriage. Without a word he entered the house, without looking back.
“Very well, Mr. Edwards. Put the chains on that buck. The wench rides with me. Let’s go.”
Edwards nodded. From the trunk of the carriage he took a set of shackles and walked up to Ajamu. First he laid the collar around his thick muscled neck and fastened it. From the collar a two-foot chain hang with a set of shackles at its end. Those he put on Ajamu’s wrists, and fastened them. Then a longer piece of chain was attached to the collar, and the other end he fastened to his saddle.
While being chained up Ajamu stood tall. He could not believe this was happening. Slowly but certainly, as he felt the heavy iron shackles put onto him, he felt his hopes for freedom disappear. A few moments ago he was preparing himself for the fights, with his motivation being freedom for Makena and himself. Now he stood there, half naked and in chains, to be dragged off into the brutality of slavery, at Lord Beckford’s mercy.
The carriage set off. Edwards climbed his horse. The two drivers took position behind Ajamu. With a rough jerk Ajamu was pulled into moving. He grabbed the chain to protect his neck, and started running at slow pace behind the horse.
Castor cracked his whip at Ajamu’s shoulders.
“Run, nigger! Haha!”
Another pain jolt hit Ajamu, but now he gritted his teeth and made no sound. All he could do now was run. With supple movement he followed the horse that he was chained to, soon sweating and his body glistening.
3 – WESTMORELAND
It took them almost 4 hours to get to the Westmoreland Plantation, the new home of Ajamu and Makena. The carriage stopped in front of the lavish main house. Lord Beckford stepped from the carriage and looked at the group of horses that had followed. Castor, Pollux and Mr. Edwards were still on their horses. In between Ajamu sank to his knees, exhausted from the long trip being pulled behind a horse, forced to run most of the time. His back showed a number of burning welts from the whiplashes, as he had been beaten to run faster. He leant forward and rested his shackled fists on the ground. His muscled body was glistening with sweat, drops running down his skin. he panted heavily, catching his breath, and his ribcage expanded with his heavy breathing.
Lord Beckford stepped up to him, and pushed his riding-crop under his chin.
“Get up, slave.”
Slowly Ajamu got to his feet, and stood tall, still taking deep breaths. His chest rose and fell, his abs flexing with his breathing. Lord Beckford ran his riding-crop slowly over Ajamu’s body, here and there tapping the solid and hard muscles of the young slave.
“Yes…indeed…a good buy! A fine specimen of a negro! Constructed for hard work, and I daresay for fighting as well. Mr. Edwards! We must think of a name for the slave. A name that works well for the Pit also, when we send him to the fights. What do you think?”
Grinning Edwards looked over Ajamu and his strong body.
“Yes, Milord, he sure is strong. And his eyes tell of a good spirit also. He’ll do very well for you fighting in the Pit. His frame and muscle can take a lot of blows and pain, and he will be able to continue fighting.”
Lord Beckford nodded.
“So then, what about Spartax? That sounds like a good name for a tough and strong fighting slave!”
Everybody laughed at this, but Ajamu fell anger rising inside. He looked at Makena, then at Lord beckford.
“Ajamu, my name be Ajamu.”
Lord Beckford lashed his riding-crop at Ajamu’s left cheek. His head turned, but he made no sound as the stinging pain hit him, but he turned back his head.
Lord Beckford grinned.
“Mr. Edwards, the slave needs to learn his first lesson of obedience! Take him and prepare him for that! I will come and witness how the whip will teach him manners!”
Mr. Edwards nodded to Castor and Pollux, and Castor gave a hard tug on the chain connected to Ajamu’s neck collar. Ajamu quickly grabbed the chain, and was dragged away from the mansion.
Makena threw herself at Lord Beckford’s feet.
“Please, Massa! Please! Don’t hurt Ajamu, I beg you…”
Lord Beckford looked with disdain at the slavegirl at his feet, and then pushed her away with his boot.
“Be quiet, wench! Be happy that I don’t have you whipped as well!”
Then a thought struck him, and he called after his overseer.
“Mr. Edwards! Don’t start on him until I am there! Hold your boys back!”
Castor and Pollux dragged Ajamu towards the slave pens. Two rows of four pens stood facing each other, with a quad in between. In the middle of the quad stood a low platform. On the platform stood a post, consisting of two thick wooden posts about 6 feet apart. At their top they were connected with another sturdy crossbeam at about 8 feet high. From the high corners and from the bases of the posts iron shackles were attached by a short piece of chain. Everything was built to last and to withstand the pull of even the strongest man chained to it. It was the dreaded punishment post of Westmoreland plantation.
As Ajamu saw the post, he started to fight back harder against his two captors.
“No! Ajamu be free man, Massa promise Ajamu!”
Pollux turned around and slammed his fist hard into Ajamu’s abs. He doubled over.
“Shut up, boy! Slave not speak when not asked a question! He just work or scream from whip! Haha!”
They reached the platform and forced Ajamu up. Quickly they made him stand below the crossbeam, and immediately they forced his feet wide to attach the shackles to his ankles. Then they took the shackles from his wrists, and before he could do anything, they forced Ajamu’s strong arms up and wide, to attach his wrists into the shackles hanging from the high corners of the post. Then they took off his neck collar.
Ajamu took deep breaths and immediately started to test the chains. He pulled with all his strength and his muscles flexed and strained. While Castor and Pollux went inside one of the barracks, Mr. Edwards watched with amusement how Ajamu desperately fought against the chains holding him in a spread-eagle position. He came close to Ajamu and ran his hand over the muscled chest and abs of the helpless young slave.
“Now you’re gonna get it, boy! You’re gonna learn like a beast learns: by pain!”
Ajamu looked at him with anger.
“Ajamu not beast! Ajamu promise be free from Massa!”
Mr. Edwards just laughed loud, and then noticed Castor and Pollux emerging from the barrack. Each of them was carrying a leather whip…
“Boys! You have your whips, good! Now we wait for the Master to arrive. He wants not to miss anything of this breaking of a new slave boy!”
Once more Ajamu pulled hard against his chains, his thick biceps flexing. And then he noticed Lord Beckford arriving from the mansion.
The sun started setting. The slaves were returning from another day of gruelling work in the fields, the mills and the boiling house. On their way back to their pens, they noticed a slave chained spread-eagle to the punishment post. It was nothing strange to them, until they noticed that it was a new slave, a young strong man they had never seen before. So they gathered around the platform…
Ajamu saw the exhausted slaves gather around him, staring at him. Most had the look in their eyes of knowing what was going to happen. Once again, like so many times, the cruel leather of the whip would be lashing into a man’s unprotected body, there would be screams of pain, and finally the tortured slave would be released and fall half unconscious to the platform. But he had never been whipped before. He felt tense, anxious. He felt some fear of the pain, but he decided not to show it.
Ajamu saw also Castor and Pollux, each with a leather whip, now moving to his back. They looked at him with cruel eyes, grinning a sadistic smile as they anticipated their work of punishment.
And Ajamu saw Mr. Edwards standing close, his eyes still on Ajamu’s naked upper body, as if he were measuring him up, pondering how many lashes the new slave could take before breaking. Ajamu felt a knot forming in his stomach.
Finally Lord Beckford arrived. He took a good look at the half naked slave chained to the post. Then he turned to the assembled slaves.
“This buck here is a new beast, to work hard, and also to be sent to fight in the Pit. The buck’s name will be Spartax. You hear that, boy? Your name is Spartax. Say it. What is your name?”
Ajamu felt a slight shiver go down his back. He clenched his fists. He closed and then opened his eyes. He looked at Lord Beckford.
“Ajamu. I is Ajamu.”
Lord Beckford turned to his overseer.
“Mr. Edwards! 10 lashes, good ones!”
Edwards nodded and turned to Castor and Pollux.
“You heard the Master. 10 lashes. Begin!”
The two drivers took position behind Ajamu, each standing at an angle. They looked at Ajamu’s broad muscled back, and took aim.
Ajamu held his breath, all tensed up as he prepared for the pain.
Castor’s whip lashed hard into Ajamu’s back, across from his left shoulder down to his right waist. The pain was worse than he had imagined, and there was no way he could have held back his scream of pain. His back arched, and his chest and abs thrust forward. His biceps flexed thick as he pulled at the chains in pain.
Ajamu heard Mr. Edwards voice call out the count. He gasped.
Pollux’s whip lashed into Ajamu’s back across the first lash, now from his right shoulder to his left waist. Again Ajamu’s upper body thrust forward in the chains as he screamed. His eyes met those of Lord Beckford, and he saw that his new master was enjoying the spectacle of his suffering.
Lord Beckford crossed his arms over his chest, and a cruel grin appeared on his lips. He saw that Ajamu was obviously suffering from the lashes.
Castor’s whip bit into Ajamu’s back. Again his upper body thrust forward. His eyes were closed, his face grimacing from the pain. But other than a deep groan of agony, he did not scream.
Pollux quickly followed with his lash, crisscrossing Ajamu’s broad back. Ajamu pressed his chin down on his chest and groaned. And fought the pain.
He took a deep breath and filled his lungs with air. Then he looked up and his eyes met those of Lord Beckford. He answered the Master’s gaze with a hard stare.
His body jerked from the pain, but he held his stare at Lord Beckford’s eyes. His eyes betrayed the pain at the impact of the whip, but he held his stare.
Castor laid his whip again hard on the young slave’s back. Ajamu was sweating more, the skin of his back glistening. Drops of sweat started to appear on his brow.
Ajamu threw his head back as the whip lashed into him, his muscles flexed and strained from the pain. But he did not scream.
The whip bit into his back from his left shoulder down to his right waist. Again he threw his head back, opened his mouth, but his scream was a silent scream of agony only.
Ajamu pulled himself up with his strong arms, as far as the chains on his ankles allowed. His thick solid biceps flexed. His chest stood out as he arched his back in pain.
He fell back.
He could just fight down his scream as the whip lashed into him once again. Every muscle in his body stood taut as his body reacted to the pain.
Mr. Edwards motioned the two drivers to stop the whipping. He went up to Ajamu, who was finding his footing again and gasping for air. Sweat ran down his face and body. Mr. Edwards grabbed his chin and forced his face up.
“Well, boy? Starting to learn? What’s yer name?”
Ajamu breathed irregularly as he began to recover from the lashings. His back was on fire. Angry welts criss crossed his back. Here and there the whip had broken his skin, and from a few small wounds tiny drops of blood trickled. He felt the stinging pain, but he also discovered that somehow his mind seemed stronger than before. The pain was hellish, but he felt determined not to give in. Even if more pain would follow. He shook his head.
“Ajamu. I is Ajamu.”
Mr. Edwards let go of Ajamu’s chin. Then without warning he punched the helpless slave hard into his undulating abs. Ajamu groaned and gasped.
“Stupid boy! Like always, your kind only learns the hard way! Castor! Pollux! Ten more! Wrap-arounds!”
The two drivers took a few steps closer to the post and repositioned themselves. Ajamu tensed up. He was still breathing heavily. He clenched his fists, grit his teeth, and braced himself for the next whiplash.
Castor had lashed Ajamu over his left ribcage, and the whip end had wrapped around, the tip biting into Ajamu’s abs. Throwing his head back again, Ajamu pulled himself up in agony, and a scream of pain was forced from his mouth.
Pollux lashed into Ajamu from his position, and now the whip wrapped around his right ribcage. Again the tip of the whip ended on Ajamu’s undulating abs muscles.
Immediately Castor lashed Ajamu’s left upper body again, now higher. The whip end bit into the soft skin just under his left pec. In pain Ajamu’s body writhed away from the whip’s impact.
The whip curled around Ajamu’s right lats and tore at his right pec. His face contorted, his teeth bare, Ajamu half screamed and groaned. His biceps flexed thick as he pulled against the chains.
Targeting lower, Castor let his whiplash around Ajamu’s waist, and the whip end bit into his lower abs. Ajamu jerked against the chains, but was able to keep down his scream of pain.
Pollux had chosen a higher target, and his whip lashed into Ajamu’s exposed armpit. Pain exploded and penetrated deeply into his shoulder.
Ajamu moaned and gasped for air. He was no longer aware of all the people witnessing his torture. The slaves looking on with compassion in their eyes, as many of them had felt the whip themselves. Mr. Edwards with a cruel fire in his eyes, as he was waiting for the young slave to be broken by the pain. And Lord Beckford who looked on with great interest and sadistic pleasure, as his strong muscled slave was in the process of being whipped into submission, his screams, muscular body and handsome face telling the story of his agony and his fight for the dignity of being regarded as a man.
The whip cut into Ajamu’s left armpit and wrapped around to bite into his stretched pec muscle. His torso twisted and jerked. His scream penetrated the now darkening air.
The whip bit into his lower side again, and the whip end found its target all the way in Ajamu’s navel. Now the pain really began to get at Ajamu, and his body screamed for release from the torture. His instinctive reaction was to bite hard into his left bicep, in an attempt to deal with the agony.
Curling itself around his left upper part of his body, the whip end had found its target in Ajamu’s pec and the nipple. His scream was harder than any before, and Mr. Edwards could observe the eyes of the young slave filling with tears of pain and frustration.
Once more the whip tore at Ajamu’s side, and the whip end bit into his abs. Ajamu with all his strength pulled against the chains, and all the muscles of his strong body strained and stood out in a hopeless attempt to break free from the whipping post.
After the last whiplash Ajamu let himself hang from his wrists, his chest heaving as he gasped for air. Over his ribcage, abs and pecs the marks of the cruel whipping began to show, and here and there small wounds had opened up.
Mr. Edwards again stepped up and grabbed Ajamu’s chin.
“Well now, boy! What’s yer name? Say it! Say: Spartax!”
The hated voice of the overseer slowly penetrated Ajamu’s haze of pain. His strong arms flexed, and he pulled himself up, finding again his footing. Then he looked at Mr. Edwards, and then at Lord Beckford. Then from deep inside he found the strength to deal with the pain in his body, and he pulled his chin away from the fingers of the overseer. He shook his head, and took a deep breath. His eyes fixed on Lord Beckford.
Then his chin fell on his glistening, heaving chest. He became again more aware of the pain he was suffering, but he grit his teeth and with his strength of mind he began to prepare himself for the inevitable.
Mr. Edwards felt a surge of anger at the stubborn slave who refused to give in to the whipping.
“Castor! Go get a cauldron with hot coals from the smithy, and some irons! This beast needs to feel some real pain here! Pollux! Come here and take your whip to his front! 10 lashes!”
Castor started to run, and Pollux stepped in front of Ajamu, his eyes on the glistening chest and abs of the chained slave. He took position, gauging the right distance for the whip to lash into Ajamu’s naked upper body from the front will full effect.
Lord Beckford now stepped in.
“Mr. Edwards! Wait a minute. I don’t want this one damaged too much! This is a great specimen here, and his looks alone will bring me good money when I send him into the Pit! I have a better idea. Get the wench he likes so much. Then we will see him giving in, I’m sure.”
Mr. Edwards nodded with a cruel grin, and started towards the mansion. Ajamu pulled hard at his chains.
“No! No hurt Makena! No!”
Lord Beckford stepped up to Ajamu, and let his finger run down his neck, between his pecs and down his undulating abs.
“Stupid slave! You are built for work and fighting. Look at you, all muscle, and so strong! It proves your inferior intelligence that you can’t see that you have to submit to your proper place. Well, like any other animal, your lack of intelligence needs to be remedied with discipline and pain! Your pain, or that of your stupid wench!”
Through his suffering a feeling of panic made itself felt to Ajamu. He shook his head, while once again without success straining against the chains that held him to the whipping post.
Before he knew it, Mr. Edwards returned from the mansion, dragging Makena with him. As soon as Makena saw the tortured Ajamu hanging from the post, she freed herself from Mr. Edwards’ grip and ran towards her Ajamu. She threw her arms around his glistening and here and there bleeding upper body, as if to protect him against further lashes with her own body.
She kissed his cheeks and wept.
Mr. Edwards grabbed her again and dragged her away from Ajamu.
“Come here, wench!”
He threw her on the ground, and called at his drivers.
“Castor! Pollux! Get the wench ready to get lashed!”
The two drivers got hold of Makena and violently tore away the top of her dress. They forced her on the ground and prepared their whips……
Lord Beckford called out at Ajamu:
“Now, slave boy, what’s your name? Say it, it is Spartax! Say it, or the wench will get 20 lashes!”
Ajamu felt deep anger rise up inside him. Frustration gnawed at his mind, and with all the strength left in him he pulled against the chains. His eyes filled with tears as he saw his Makena half naked on the ground, and the two drivers menacing her with their whips ready. He threw his head back and uttered a deep groan. Then he looked at Lord Beckford.
Lord Beckford laughed, Mr. Edwards nodded with satisfaction. Makena sobbed and tried to cover her breasts with the torn shreds of her dress. Ajamu let out a deep sigh and groan, and was suddenly overcome with exhaustion. His chin sank to his chest and his knees gave way. He hang from his wrists on the chains.
“There now, finally. Mr. Edwards, take the slave down and let him rest tomorrow. The day after he goes to the fields, on full daily quota. Feed him double rations. Soon we start his training for the Pit.”
With that Lord Beckford retired to the Mansion. Mr. Edwards ordered his drivers to take Ajamu down.
“You heard the Master! Take care of this one like he ordered.”
Then he turned to Ajamu.
“Listen, boy. Don’t think that you will escape the pain of the hot irons! One day, boy, I will press them into your black hide and make you scream for mercy! Got that?”
Ajamu did not react. he heard the words, but his body was in pain. He hardly noticed that Castor and Pollux took him down and dragged him off by his arms towards the slave pens.
4 – THE PIT
After just one day of rest Ajamu was sent to the fields and put to work cutting sugarcane. Mr. Edwards made it clear to him that he was to make full daily quota, even if his body was still aching and he was weakened from the whipping. He also made it clear to him that his girl Makena was made to work in the Mansion, but that it did not mean she’d be free from any punishment, especially if Ajamu would cause any trouble……
So Ajamu worked hard in the fields. Hour after hour he cut the sugarcanes, made bundles of them and carried them over to the waiting carts. There one of the drivers would put a mark behind his name for each bundle on their worksheet. Then also Ajamu was allowed to drink water, and regularly eat some food. As the sun beat down on the fields and the climate was hot and moist, Ajamu was sweating all day. His skin glistened and drops of sweat ran in small rivulets down his back and his chest, and the waist of his breeches coloured dark.
At late afternoon Mr. Edwards came riding to the field, and he called Ajamu to him. Then he threw a big cotton sack at Ajamu’s feet.
“Here, boy, fill this up with dirt! And be quick about it!”
Ajamu stooped and picked up the sack, which was about as big as he was tall. Then Mr. Edwards threw him a small pick-axe.
“Get on with it!”
With the pick-axe Ajamu started to loosen the hard earth. The loosened dirt he picked up and stuffed the sack with. When he was done, he could tie the sack with its closing rope, so no dirt could escape from it anymore. He dragged the heavy sack over to where Mr. Edwards was waiting on his horse. He handed him back the pick-axe. Mr. Edwards put the small pick-axe back in his saddlebag, and looked at Ajamu.
“All right, boy, now haul that sack on your black shoulders!”
Ajamu grabbed the heavy sack and with a groan shouldered it. It was a heavy weight on him. With his strong arms he kept it in place.
“Good. Now walk! We go to the Mansion and start your training for the Pit!”
Toiling under the heavy sack Ajamu was put to a brisk pace back to the Mansion and the slave quarters. Mr. Edwards followed closely behind, making sure Ajamu would maintain his pace.
Next to one of the slave pens stood a big tree with wide, thick branches. There was a sandy small clearing next to it. That was the spot Mr. Edwards had selected as the training ground for Spartax, the coming attraction in the Pit. Lord Beckford had given orders that Ajamu was to be ready for fights at the next Pit event, which was to be held in a month. So Mr. Edwards had decided that Ajamu was to continue working in the fields during most of the daytime, to make sure he’d be in peak physical condition. He’d be given plenty of water and double rations of wholesome food. Then at the end of each afternoon, he’d be put to rigorous training to get him ready for the fights in the Pit.
On reaching the training ground Mr. Edwards made Ajamu stop. Ajamu stood still carrying the heavy sack on his broad shoulders. His chest was heaving as he was catching his breath. He was sweating profusely.
“Put the sack down, boy! See that thick branch right there? Here, attach this here rope to the sack and then throw it over the branch! Then haul the sack up! Then tie the rope fast to the tree trunk, got that, nigger? Do it!”
Ajamu did as ordered. Mr. Edwards watched him as he flexed his muscles hauling up the heavy sack. This was definitely a strong specimen, he thought. He was likely to make good money for Lord Beckford as a fighter-slave, probably he’d be in many fights before he’d get killed or crippled in the Pit.
“All right, boy, now listen. Your gonna hit that sack, you hear? Kick it, too! Hit and kick it so damn hard as ye can!”
Ajamu took a deep breath and started hitting the sack, left, right, and alternating with some kicks. Soon the sweat ran down his glistening upper body. His knuckles started to ache. Then Castor approached with a bucket of water and a ladle. He grinned as he saw Ajamu toiling hard at the sack that was swinging under his continued blows and kicks.
“Hey boy, give it a rest now! Come here and drink some water!”
Mr. Edwards motioned to Castor, and he filled the ladle with water and gave it to Ajamu to drink from. Castor looked over the sweating young black man as he drank.
“Damn, Mr. Edwards Sir, this one seems one damn good nigger fighter, right Sir? Look at those muscles on him, he strong like a horse!”
Mr. Edwards smiled.
“Yes, Castor, he sure is. We’ll make him the best since years to go down into the Pit. You just wait and see! Now, let him drink some more, then use the rest to freshen him up. Then he does another half an hour at the sack before he’s fed and sent to the pen. Watch him, Castor, make sure he trains good. You know how to make him train hard now, don’t ya? Haha!”
As Mr. Edwards left, Castor took his whip from his belt and grinned.
“I sure as hell do, Mr. Edwards Sir! I sure as hell do!”
He let Ajamu drink one more ladle, and he threw the rest of the bucket over Ajamu’s upper body. Then he uncloiled his whip and let it crack.
“Back to that sack, boy! Hit it, and hit it hard! Or else your back gonna burn!”
Ajamu gritted his teeth and resumed his training.
The next weeks Ajamu was put to a gruelling programme of work in the fields and training. As Mr. Edwards said, the heavy sack was “his best friend”: he had to carry it in the morning to the fields, and in the late afternoon back to the training ground. There he would work on the sack, or have boxing and wrestling sparring matches against Castor or Pollux. Even before Ajamu was sold to Lord Beckford he was already very fit and strong. But now he developed even more hard muscles on his body, without losing his suppleness and flexibility. Mr. Edwards also made Castor and Pollux take turns punching Ajamu’s abs hard, to “harden them” as he said. Sometimes Ajamu had to stand with his hands clasped behind his head, and take the blows, which they once and again also delivered by using a stick.
Then the day came. Ajamu was spared the fields, and could rest until early afternoon, when he’d be taken to Kingston. Mr. Edwards came to get him, and took him to the Mansion, where Lord Beckford was already seated in his carriage. Behind the carriage Castor and Pollux sat on a cart. Lord Beckford looked down at Ajamu.
“Well, Spartax, your day is there. Tonight you will fight in the Pit! Let me remind you of one thing, nigger. I expect you to win! I am betting on you, and expect to make good money of you. You will win, no matter what, hear me? If you’re in pain down in that Pit, just remember that what I will do to you if you lose, will be much worse! And of course, your bitch will suffer the consequences also! Understand, boy?”
Lord Beckford prodded Ajamu’s chest with his walking stick. Ajamu instinctively flexed his pecs against the pressure. And he nodded. Lord Beckford grinned.
“Get him on that cart. We have to go.”
Castor came and put a thick collar on Ajamu’s neck, with a chain attached. He pulled the chain and forced Ajamu to the cart. He climbed into the open back, and the chain was attached to the cart. Then the party left for Kingston, to the Pit and its horrors…
At sundown they reached an area just outside Kingston, where the Pit was situated. It was a square dug into the earth of about 8 by 8 meters, and 2 meters deep. The bottom was hard earth. The sides were covered with wood, and the planks had studs pointing outwards at close intervals all over. At the top around the Pit there were seats prepared for the spectators. Aside from the Pit there were stables, now used for holding the slaves who were to fight in the Pit. Also there were two large cages.
As Lord Beckford’s party arrived, many planters and their wives and guests had already gathered and were pleasantly mingling. With anticipation they discussed tonight’s event, and they were eagerly waiting for the presentation of the fighter-slaves.
Castor took Ajamu first to the barn and pushed him inside one of the stables. He threw him a leather loincloth.
“Get those breeches of, boy, and put these here on. It’s your costume for tonight!”
Ajamu gritted his teeth and did as ordered. The loincloth was small indeed and barely covered his manhood and buttocks. He fastened the thin waistband, and it rested low on his hips. Then Castor fastened the chain from Ajamu’s collar to the stable wall.
“Now you wait here and be good, you hear, boy? Later the fine gentlemen and ladies will come and have a look at you. You keep still then, hear? If you touch them, you and your bitch gets heavy punishment, understand?”
Ajamu nodded, and stood waiting in his stable. Soon he heard the noise of voices and laughter, and he tensed up as he heard people enter the barn. After some moments the first of the onlookers reached his stable, and they entered.
“Ah, look at this one! This one is a fine one!”
They began to estimate Ajamu like he was a piece of cattle. They commented upon his muscles, his build, his strength and his being a “fine young buck” and a great addition for the Pit. Meanwhile some of them were feeling up Ajamu’s body and testing his muscles by squeezing and prodding them. Ajamu stood tall and underwent this humiliation with tense patience. His thoughts were on his beloved Makena. To think that she would suffer was unbearable, so he gritted his teeth and remained still under the probing hands on his near naked body.
Also Lord Beckford came, accompanied by an older overweight man who was wearing rich and fine clothes, and whose face was whitened. He had a strange way of presenting himself in a somewhat feminine fashion, and his voice was unnaturally high pitched.
“Is this the one, my dear Beckford? Oh heavens me! Look at this wondrous beast! He sure is one of the finest young nigger bucks I have ever laid my eyes on! Oh, I want to touch him and feel his strength! Are you sure he is tame? He will not attack or bite?”
Lord Beckford looked Ajamu in the eyes and said
“Go ahead, my friend, I guarantee he will keep still. Enjoy him as you will.”
The man walked up to Ajamu and started to feel him up, from his shoulders down. His fatty fingers followed Ajamu’s musculature. He played with Ajamu’s nipples and cupped his pecs in his hands, lightly pressing the hard muscle. He felt his strong, thick biceps. His fingers traced his abs and the deep ridges between them. And then his left hand groped Ajamu’s crotch. He felt his manhood under the loincloth and explored his genitals. Ajamu tensed up and tightened his fists, as he felt disgust at being handled this way.
“Oh dear, Beckford, what a fine specimen! Such a shame he will probably get damaged in the Pit…can I not persuade you to sell him to me? He would be a prize in my collection of young nigger bucks!”
Lord Beckford smiled and shook his head.
“I am sorry, but no. He has to bring me a good profit first. Then we can see, if he is still alive and not too much scarred for your tastes, you can have him. But not now. Come, we go to our seats. Soon you’ll see him fight, I am sure you will enjoy watching it.”
With an expression of disappointment on his face the man ran his hands one last time over Ajamu’s body. He sighed and left the stable, together with Lord Beckford.
Castor came in and brought two sets of leather straps. He took Ajamu’s wrists and bound the straps on his hands. He made them fit in such a way that a metal strip with studs was tightly fastened on his knuckles. Then he loosened the chain and pulled Ajamu out of the stable.
“Come on, boy, it’s time.”
They walked over to the Pit, where the spectators were already waiting in their seats. Bets were being placed, and eyes were turned towards Ajamu as he stepped up at the side of the Pit. Lord Beckford rose.
“And here he is, my new fighter! His name is Spartax. Castor, send him in! And let the first opponent enter!”
Castor took off Ajamu’s collar and gave him a hard push. He half fell forward, and jumped into the Pit. He look around, saw the sharp pins jutting out from the wooden walls, and looked up, to meet the excited gaze of the spectators. Then from the other side his opponent was pushed into the Pit: a tall heavily built black man. He was wearing leather breeches and had his hands strapped with the studded boxing gloves. Immediately his opponent charged forward and attacked Ajamu, swinging his right fist at his face and throwing his weight forward. Ajamu was quick to move his head, but the studded fist rammed his chest and he was thrown backwards into the wall. The studs bit into his back as he was slammed against the wall. A raw groan escaped from Ajamu’s lips, and his opponent began to bring down a series of blows on his body. From the spectators applause and shouts of approval were heard. Then the pain from the studs and the pummeling, and the sadistic shouts from the crowd prompted Ajamu’s anger and fighting spirit. With a roar he began to fight back fiercely, his eyes shooting fire. He pushed his attacker away and let his fists land quicker than lightning on the body before him. He forced his opponent back under the pressure of his blows. And soon he landed a hard punch on his left jaw, which made him falter. Another fist landed in his groin, and made him lower his arms. That was Ajamu’s chance. With full force he hit his opponent on his chin. Under loud cheers and applause his opponent went down, and Ajamu stood menacingly over him, his right fist raised and ready to deliver the final knock-out. His opponent made a sign of submission, and Ajamu relaxed. He stood tall, sweating, his chest heaving, and he raised his right arm up in victory, fist clenched. He hardly noticed that his knuckle-band was stained with blood, and that some blood was running from his own chest and back.
Lord Beckford stood beaming and received the congratulations of many. He looked down into the Pit, on his young black slave beneath him. He grinned. His thoughts were on the money made, and to be made on this fine strong slave. And he thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of owning this slave, of being able to force him to fight. He would exploit him as long as he could: until he’d die in the Pit or get too mutilated or wounded for him to do more fights.
“Castor! Get Spartax out and see to him. Send him back in later for another fight!”
Castor ran to the edge of the Pit and beckoned Ajamu. He grabbed him by his arm and pulled him up. Quickly he put the collar back on Ajamu’s neck and pulled at the chain. As they went back to the stables two other slaves were led the other way, towards the Pit.
Back in the stable Castor looked at Ajamu’s wounds, and gave him water and some food.
“You did good, boy. Them wounds is nothing, and besides, they like to see a nigger bleed some! Now you rest, and later I come and get you for the Pit again!”
Ajamu sat down on the straw and rested his broad back against the wooden wall of the stable. He closed his eyes. And saw with his mind’s eye Makena, his Makena. He imagined how he had planned to fight out of free will, and make the money needed for her and his own freedom. Freedom! He grabbed the hated iron collar on his neck with his hands. Instead of the hope of freedom, now he was chained and forced to fight. The money made was for his owner. The hope to be free smashed……No! He would not give up! He would fight and survive, and at some point he would escape, with his Makena. From afar the cheers and shouts from the Pit sounded as two other slaves were fighting. Then louder shouting, and the noise went down. The fight was over, apparently. Soon after Castor came into his stable. He carried a pair of arm-guards.
“Here boy, put these on your arms!”
Ajamu looked at the thick leather arm-guards, and put them on his underarms. Then Castor pulled the chain, and dragged Ajamu out, back to the Pit.
All tense Ajamu stood in the Pit. The spectators looked down at the muscular, near naked young black man, who would be fighting once again for their pleasure. Lord Beckford rose to his feet.
“Friends, I present you again Spartax. He will give us a special treat tonight! Let’s all see how he does against an armed opponent!”
The crowd roared with anticipation. Then Ajamu’s opponent was pushed into the Pit: an older, heavy set slave, bigger than Ajamu. He was armed with a short dagger in his left hand, and a wooden club. He grinned viciously as he slowly started to approach Ajamu. Both fighters circled each other. Soon his opponent swung his club, and Ajamu could only defend himself by taking the blow on his arm-guard. Almost immediately the dagger reached his right side, and a small cut appeared at his hip. The crowd roared as Ajamu bent his torso, and with his elbow struck his opponent’s jaw. The circling began again. Now his opponent attacked with the dagger, and Ajamu grabbed his wrist before the weapon could cut him again. But now the club hit him hard in the ribs. Ajamu groaned, held on to the wrist with the dagger, and protected his side with his free arm. He had to take another hard blow before he could get hold of his opponent’s other arm. Now they started to wrestle. His opponent was strong and heavy. Ajamu could trip his opponent, and both went to the ground, locked in a fierce wrestling match. The dagger constantly threatened to cut into Ajamu. The spectators saw the two black bodies fight, sweating, muscles flexing and straining. Both groaned as they fought for getting the upper hand. A few times the dagger grazed Ajamu, and thin cuts appeared on his upper arm and chest. Both slaves’ faces were grimacing, their muscles quivering. Then Ajamu suddenly let go of the hand holding the club, and he grabbed with both hands the dagger-hand of his opponent, simultaneously rolling and pulling. He was able to fix the arm under him and forcing a hold on the hand with the dagger. With his free arm his opponent now started to use his club, and struck Ajamu on his back, upper leg and side. But Ajamu desperately held on and squeezed the arm under him, taking the pain from the blows. Slowly but certainly he forced his opponent to let go of the dagger. As he lost the dagger, his opponent managed to get his free arm around Ajamu’s neck, and twisted his body. Now they both rolled, and violently smashed into the studded wall, Ajamu first. With a scream of pain, as his back was once again punctured, Ajamu let go of his opponent. With remarkable speed his opponent reached a foothold, and kicked Ajamu hard into his abs. Again Ajamu was slammed against the wall. As he got up, the club hit him hard into his abs. With a loud groan Ajamu doubled over, only to receive another blow, now to his back. Using the wall, Ajamu ducked and jumped forward, his arms grabbing his opponent’s legs. He floored him, and as he hit the ground hard, the club went flying. Ajamu quickly wrestled himself on top of his opponent, and was able to get a stranglehold on his neck. In a rage from the pain and with a determination to win, Ajamu started to strangle his opponent. All his muscles strained under his glistening skin. Then his opponent was unable to breathe, and submitted. Ajamu jumped to his feet, his arms up and fists clenched, and with a loud animalesque roar claimed victory. He stood, heaving, sweating, bleeding, bruised. But his eyes met with Lord Beckford’s, and they were filled with determination.
The spectators applauded. Lord Beckford rose again.
“You see, my friends, that Spartax has a great capacity for taking pain! A fine victory! I am sure you all will be glad to see him fight again at the next event in the Pit!” Shouts of approval accompanied Ajamu as he was pulled up from the Pit by Castor. The collar was placed around his neck again, and he was taken back to the stable.
5 – REBELLION
In the weeks after his fights in the Pit Ajamu returned to the normal routine of a slave working in the fields, harvesting sugarcane. His wounds and bruises healed quickly. Only the cuts left thin marks on his skin, but they were hardly visible. On special orders from Lord Beckford, he was well fed, in order to keep him strong and healthy. That way he could be put back to training as soon as the date for a new event in the Pit was declared.
On midday of another hot day Ajamu was just hauling another heavy bundle of sugarcane to the waiting cart, as Mr. Edwards came riding towards him. He stopped his horse and watched Ajamu lift the bundle up into the cart. Sweat ran down his glistening, naked upper body. As he went over to the bucket to get his ladle of water, Mr. Edwards called him.
“Hey, Spartax, come here!”
Ajamu looked up. There was nobody near: the other slaves were in the field, and so was Pollux, the driver. He stepped up to Mr. Edwards.
“Yes, Mr. Edwards Sir?”
The overseer looked down at him with a sneer on his face.
“Say, that bitch of yours, she’s a fine wench! I can see why you like her so much, boy! I suppose you really miss fucking her, now, don’t ya? Well, you can rest assured, I did the job for ya last night, and fucked her real good! Hahaha!”
Ajamu felt a cold shiver run down his back. Then from deep inside a glowing hate and rage swelled up. Makena! A red haze came to his eyes. And then it happened.
Before Mr. Edwards knew it, Ajamu grabbed him and pulled him from his horse. He had no defense against the great strength of the young slave. He went down on the ground, and Ajamu was on top of him, pinning him down. With his fists he slugged Mr. Edwards’ face left and right.
“You bastard! Ajamu kill you!”
Then Ajamu grabbed the knife from Mr. Edwards’ belt and held it against his throat, ready to use it. Then he held back.
He held onto the knife and left Mr. Edwards half unconscious on the ground. He started running towards the Mansion and the slave-pens, as fast as he could.
Soon he reached the pen where he knew Makena slept, and he rushed inside. There he found his beloved Makena, lying on her bunk. She covered her head with her arms, and was sobbing. Her dress was torn.
Ajamu lay his strong arms around her and held her. His eyes were filled with tears of anger, and he caressed her, trying to comfort her. Trembling, her eyes thick with crying, Makena rested in Ajamu’s strong arms. She felt his hard muscled body close to her, and finally she felt safe again.
“Makena…is me, Ajamu…hush…hush…”
In the fields there was confusion. The slaves stopped working, and at first just stood still, unable to believe their eyes. There was the hated Mr. Edwards, beaten up by Ajamu, on the ground, moaning. Pollux now noticed something was wrong, and he started to ride back to where Mr. Edwards was lying. He cracked his whip in the air.
“Back to work, you lazy niggers! Back to work! You all wanna have your backs whipped?”
But the slaves came to realize, now that Mr. Edwards was down, that they had the power of numbers. And they saw how Ajamu could run away from the fields. They dropped their tools. Some of them started running, away from the fields. Others wanted to get at Pollux. The driver noticed the danger and rode off as quickly as he could. He reached the Mansion, and shouted at Castor for help.
“Castor! Castor! Quickly, warn the Master! The slaves, they rebel and run away! It’s Spartax, that damn nigger, he makes rebellion! He almost killed Mr. Edwards!”
Castor reacted quickly. He sent Pollux to ride to Kingston and get the Guards. He himself went into the Mansion, to warn Lord Beckford. Without delay all doors and windows were tightly shut, and Lord Beckford with his family and servants went upstairs. They armed themselves and took position, to defend themselves against the rebel slaves.
A number of the slaves who were working in the fields chose to run away. Most, however, were too afraid and they stayed in the field, waiting for what would happen next. They knew the punishment for running away was always harsh: sometimes a runaway slave would not even survive, when he would get 100 lashes or more. A few of the braver ones followed Ajamu and went to the Mansion, where they went to the pens to look for Ajamu.
When they reached the pen where Ajamu and Makena were, they stopped outside. Ajamu came out. All were excited. They had a sense of freedom, but they were very confused as to what to do next. They talked among themselves and decided they’d run away from the plantation, and try for the mountains. They went over to the shed and armed themselves with some work tools. Then they went back for Makena, and collected some food. As they were ready to leave the Mansion area, they found Castor on their way.
“Stop right there, you stupid niggers! You have nowhere to go! Put down those tools and go back to work, before it is too late. Soon the Guards will be here, and then you get killed or captured and severely punished!”
Ajamu stood with Makena at the head of his five companions. For a moment he hesitated, but then he came into action.
“Let’s get him! We take him, so they won’t attack us!”
Before Castor knew what happened, Ajamu threw himself on him and wrestled him down. Soon the other young slaves were there to help, and they quickly overpowered Castor and tied his wrists behind his back. Castor was angry and frustrated.
“You damn fools! Let me go!”
But Ajamu and his companions were determined. They had all felt the pain of Castor’s whip on their backs, and now they felt proud to have subdued one of their tormentors. Some of them wanted to beat Castor, but Ajamu held them back.
“We gets away first far and good! We goes to mountains, away from the Master! We gonna be free there!”
All cheered and they went on their way, dragging an unwilling Castor along with them.
The group went as fast as they could. Except Ajamu and Makena there were four other male slaves, and of course Castor. All the male slaves were shirtless and young. Their black muscled bodies were shining with sweat as they made their way towards the mountains, their supple bodies moving with flexibility. Castor dragged his heels as much as he could, knowing that a search party would be coming after them soon. But he was also urged to move on, and every once in a while a slave would enjoy the opportunity to push him or even slap him, turning the tables on him if even slightly. But always Ajamu stopped them hurting Castor. He supported his Makena, helping her walk. His eyes were filled with determination: he would save his beloved now once and for all.
In the meantime some 20 armed Guards on horseback and 3 negro slavehunters with their fierce dogs, shackles and chains arrived at the Mansion. Immediately Lord Beckford stepped outside, also armed and ready.
“Pollux! Get my horse! We have hunting to do! Listen up, you all! When we catch these runaways, I want them alive! They are rebels! I want especially Spartax to be captured alive! We’ll make one hell of an example out of him in Kingston Main Square!”
All cheered and shouted approval, and they were all excited for the hunt. The dogs barked and howled. Pollux held some clothes that had belonged to Akema to their noses, and immediately they began the pull at their leashes. Lord Beckford mounted his horse, and the hunting party started on their pursuit of the runaways.
As the sun began to set, the runaways reached the first hills. Makena began to lean on Ajamu more and more, and he noticed that she was exhausted.
“Wait! We has to stop a while. Makena, she too tired to keep on. Maybe we finds some place for rest.”
Ajamu sent one of his companions up a hill, and the slave nimbly and quickly climbed to the top. He looked around and yelled
“There be a hut! Down other side, Ajamu!”
He came running down, and the whole group started to make their way around the hill. Ajamu lifted Makena up in his strong arms and carried her. Castor again tried to convince them to give up their idea of running away.
“Fools! You can never get away! If you give up now, maybe the Massa will go slow on you and don’t punish you too hard!”
But they all ignored his talk and made him go on, towards the hut.
One hour later, as darkness fell, they reached the small hut. It was abandoned, and only some old dry straw was on the floor. Ajamu collected the straw into a kind of mattrass, and he let Makena lie on it. He and the others sat down with their backs against the wooden wall, and they rested. They were hungry and thirsty, but their will to run away from slavery was strong enough to keep them determined. They would rest, and then resume their run to freedom.
Ajamu moved over to Makena, and sat down beside her. He lifted her head carefully, and let it rest on his lower belly, offering his abs as a pillow. Makena sighed in her sleep, and her hand rested on Ajamu’s chest. He felt her soft hand on his hard muscles, and he closed his eyes, enjoying her touch. He caressed his beloved’s hair, and also fell asleep.
Soon all the runaways were overcome with exhaustion, and they slept. This was the moment Castor had been waiting for. He had been quietly working to escape from the ropes binding his wrists, and now he could finally free his hands from behind his back. Not making a sound he carefully rose to his feet and moved towards the door. One last time he looked back, and grinned, before he left the cabin. He looked at the young slaves sleeping, and in a flash imagined them all tied to the whipping post, to be severely punished for their attempt at escape. Then he stepped outside, and began to hurry back along the path they had taken.
The hunting party chasing the runaway slaves had assumed that they would be heading towards the mountains, and the dogs had soon picked up their trail. So it was not before long that Castor could hear the dog’s howling and barking in the distance. He hurried on, to meet the hunters. Soon he saw the light from torches approaching, and he hailed the hunters.
“Here! Massa Beckford! Is Castor! Here I is!”
The hunting party stopped as they met Castor, who stood painting and waiting. Lord Beckford lifted his arm high.
“Castor! Good man! You escaped from the rebels? Excellent! Where are they?”
“Not far, Massa Sir! They be in a cabin about two hours from here! I can show you!”
Lord Beckford nodded.
“Very good! We will proceed swiftly but quietly. Keep the dogs here, so they won’t be alarmed. We should be able to surprise them! Ha ha!”
All the hunters were excited at this good news. They were confident to capture the runaway slaves and take them alive, back to the plantation, and to be punished. But most of all they’d be able to take the leader Spartax alive, as Lord Beckford wanted. Then the party left again, following Castor’s directions, towards the cabin.
Ajamu was the first to wake up. He tensed up, thinking he had heard sounds outside the cabin. He carefully placed Makena’s head back on the straw, and got to his feet. The other slaves also woke, and Ajamu motioned to them to keep quiet. He moved to the door, and opened it ajar. Then he tensed up even more. He saw riders in front of the cabin, holding up torches. And he recognized the hated Lord Beckford amongst them. Then Lord Beckford shouted
“Spartax! The cabin is surrounded! There is no way out, for you and the other rebels! Surrender!”
Ajamu swallowed hard. He saw the Guards with their rifles ready. He saw the slavehunters with their chains ready. He closed his eyes and shut the door. He turned around and looked at his companions, who now all stood behind him, their eyes filled with terror.
“Ajamu, what we do?”
Ajamu clenched his fists.
“We can fight. Then we die as free men!”
But then his eyes turned towards Makena, who was also wide awake now. Her eyes were filled with tears.
“Spartax! Come out and surrender! All of you! Come out, or we set fire to the cabin and you all die!”
Ajamu brought his fists to his head, his face in a grimace of frustration and anger. Then he opened the door again.
“Massa Beckford! I come out and you take me! But not punish the others! Yes?”
Lord Beckford looked down from his horse and snorted.
“Bah! You dare to put conditions, you slave?! Beasts of burden have no will of their own! Surrender now, or you all die in the flames!”
Ajamu closed the door again, walked up to Makena and took her in his arms.
“Makena, I must let Massa Beckford take me. But you have to live, never give up hope to be free.”
They both had tears in their eyes as they hugged each other fast.
“Spartax! For the last time! Come out and surrender! The others bucks too. I will spare your bitch if you surrender without resistance!”
Finally Ajamu and Makena looked into each others eyes, and without a word they decided. Holding each other they opened the door and stepped outside, facing Lord Beckford and the hunters.
“There he is! Quickly, put that rebel in chains!”
The slave hunters came running up and tore Ajamu away from Makena. Ajamu stood silent as they put a heavy slave collar on his neck, and lifted up his arms, so his wrists could be put in shackles. Makena fell on her knees before Lord Beckford’s horse.
“Please Massa Beckford, please have mercy on Ajamu! I beg you, Massa!”
“Be silent, bitch! That slave is guilty of rebellion! The others too! They will all of them suffer for it! And Spartax the most! Ha ha!”
One of the slave hunters connected a long chain to Ajamu’s collar and fastened it to his horse’s saddle. The other slave hunters busied themselves tying up the four other young slaves at their wrists, then roping their necks two and two together. Makena was taken by one of the Guards and sat behind him on horseback. Then the party was ready, and they could start their way back.
Castor and Pollux had taken Ajamu into the barn, and chained him spread-eagle between two sturdy wooden posts. They had taunted him and made many jokes about what was going to happen to him. The sadistic slave drivers were already excited about how Ajamu would be punished. They knew that Lord Beckford would make him suffer badly, because he regarded Ajamu’s attempt at escape an act of rebellion.
For long hours Ajamu stood there, tired, hungry and thirsty. He thought of his Makena, and of the short hours of freedom they both had enjoyed. But now all was lost, and here he was, chained, helpless, and nothing to look forward to but agony and pain, maybe even death.
Then the barn door opened, and two men stepped inside. It was Lord Beckford, and another richly dressed, and overweight man. From the second he entered, this man kept his eyes on Ajamu, constantly looking the young strong slave over from head to toe. Lord Beckford stepped up to Ajamu, and pushed his riding crop under his chin, forcing his face up.
“So, rebel, tomorrow is the time of your punishment. To show the community that rebellion is suppressed without mercy, you will be punished in public, in Kingston Main Square. If you survive, I will sell you off to the mines. We will see. You’re a strong one, so maybe you will be still breathing after the executioners are done with you. But that is tomorrow. For now, let me introduce to you my friend Sir Charles. He has been asking me since he first saw you before your Pit-fights for some private time with you. Well, since after tomorrow I am sure your body would be less attractive to him, I grant him his wish for now.”
Ajamu’s eyes flashed towards the effeminate, overweight man, who stood waiting behind Lord Beckford. He swallowed, and tensed up.
“Sir Charles, I will leave now. Please go ahead and regard the slave as yours! Ha ha!”
Lord Beckford turned around and left the barn, closing the door behind him.
Now Sir Charles came up to Ajamu, and started to feel him up, letting his fleshy fingers roam over Ajamu’s naked upper body.
“What a fine specimen you are, boy! Oh yes! What fine hard muscles! No fat on your body at all, oh my!”
Ajamu clenched his fists, his jaws set tight, as the fat man’s fingers luridly followed the ridges and undulations of his chest muscles and abs.
“So strong…so strong…and handsome too…young…healthy…oh my.”
Sir Charles cupped Ajamu’s thick pecs in his hands.
“Such manly chest…ah yes…”
Ajamu turned his face away, and started to feel sick in his stomach.
Then the hands slid down one more time over his chest and abs, and now they took hold of the waistband of Ajamu’s breeches. They found the button-row and slowly, button for button, they opened the breeches.
“Let’s see about your manhood, boy, how good you are hung.”
The breeches came loose from Ajamu’s hips, and then they slid down his thick muscled thighs. The breeches hung on his knees. His cock and balls were exposed.
“Oh dear me, look at that!”
Sir Charles took a step back, and his eyes were fixed on Ajamu’s exposed manhood. One hand went to his crotch, as he started to walk around the humiliated young man.
“And those buttocks! Perfection!”
Ajamu felt a hand on his buttocks, and it started to grope and squeeze his hard muscled round butt. He tried to move away from the assault, but the chains kept him in place.
“Yes, by all means, try to break away! Yes, make those muscles flex, boy! Wonderful!”
Sir Charles pressed his girth against Ajamu’s backside, and his right hand came around and groped Ajamu’s cock and balls. Moaning and groaning the fat man groped and squeezed from behind, pressing his own crotch against Ajamu’s ass. For minutes he kept at it, frantically groping at Ajamu’s helpless naked body, until finally he groaned deep and let go. Ajamu could not see what happened, but he heard the man adjusting his clothing, until he came around to his front again. Once more he placed his fat, sweaty hands on Ajamu’s abs.
“There, that was good! Oh, what a pity they will damage this fine body tomorrow so badly! A real shame, but it can’t be helped. We cannot have you slaves become rebels now, can we?”
With a sigh he turned away from Ajamu, and left the barn. Ajamu stood, panting, feeling nauseous and disgusted, and deeply humiliated, his breeches still hanging on his knees.
Not much later Castor and Pollux came into the barn.
“Well, boy, did you have a good time with Sir Charles? He your friend now? Ha ha!”
They unchained his wrists, and Ajamu sank to his knees. Then he quickly pulled up his breeches, under the laughter of both drivers.
“Here’s some water and food, boy. After you done, we takes you to Kingston, get you there for get you punished bad tomorrow!”
Ajamu ate and drank, and then the drivers put back the heavy slavecollar on his neck, and put manacles on his wrists. They attached a rope on the collar, unchained his ankles, and dragged him out of the barn. They made him climb into the back of a cart, which stood ready, and fastened the rope. Then they left the plantation, on their way to Kingston.
6 – PREPARE HIM!
Early evening they arrived in Kingston, and they made for the Court House. On their way they passed the Main Square. On one side of the square stood the big scaffold, used for the punishment of criminals and slaves. On average every week there was such a punishment. Slaves found guilty of heavy crimes were severely whipped, and those guilty of a capital offence hanged or broken on the wheel. These events always drew many spectators: planters and their families came to town for witnessing slaves being punished, and to meet each other as well. Castor turned around and said
“Look, boy! There is you gonna be tomorrow! Up there you is really gonna get it bad! Ha ha ha!”
Ajamu looked at the scaffold and swallowed. He felt a tension in his stomach as he realised what was in stall for him. But the cart rattled on, and soon they turned into the street leading to the Court House.
In front of the Court House three people were waiting for them. There was Lord Beckford, an officer of the Guards, and another uniformed man. As the cart arrived, Castor and Pollux dragged Ajamu off the rear and brought him to the group waiting, holding him tight on his arms. Lord Beckford stood grinning. The officer said
“Is that the prisoner for punishment tomorrow? Good. The Governor has signed the document with his sentence, but has emphasised that it is not a death sentence. So the negro is not to be killed. Also, it is to be determined whether the negro is able bodied and fit for heavy punishment. The medical officer here present will examine the prisoner. Go ahead!”
The medical officer stepped up to Ajamu and began to examine his body.
“Let’s see…he is young…seems in fine condition…yes, thick hard muscles on him…good muscle tone…no fat on him…looks very fit and strong indeed…eyes are good…teeth and breath are good…well, Mylord, you have an extraordinary fine young negro buck here!”
Lord Beckford nodded.
“Yes, he is well trained, he is a good Pit fighter. But now he turned rebel! So what say you, how about the level of punishment?”
“Well, Captain, Mylord, this is a fit and strong young buck. I see no reason why his punishment could not be to the full measure of severity.”
The Captain made a note on the document.
“Very well, duly noted. The prisoner will be taken to a holding cage and receive food and water. The time for punishment is set at 2 o’clock tomorrow afternoon. On request of Lord Beckford, his drivers shall partake in the infliction of punishments. That will be all.”
Castor and Pollux dragged Ajamu away, towards one of the two big cages in front of the Court House. They untied the rope from his neck collar, and they pushed him inside. They closed the cage-door and locked it.
“Hey boy, this here cage is right at home, eh? Ha ha! You black beast belong in a cage! And tomorrow Pollux here and me, we gonna make you suffer and hollar, you bet! Ha ha!”
Then all left Ajamu alone in his cage. All he heard was that the Captain told Lord Beckford he was invited to the Governor’s Palace for dinner, and that his drivers would be taken good care of also. Ajamu walked the few steps he could inside the cage, then he sat down, leaning his back against the bars. The air started to become cool, and he put his arms around him. He closed his eyes and tried not to think about tomorrow.
After a cold night the rising sun soon began to give heat, and Ajamu was exposed to the rays of the sun. Instead of the night’s chill, he now experienced the sun’s heat, and even while he hardly moved, a sheen of sweat began to show on his skin. He was provided with porridge and water for breakfast. During the mourning hours every once in a while people came by the cage, to take a look at the rebel slave to be punished later. Some school children had fun throwing small pebbles at him, but they were chased away by one of the Guards.
Then the moment finally came. Ajamu saw an officer of the Guards on horseback approach, accompanied by two more Guards, and Castor and Pollux. The cage was opened, and one of the Guards roughly grabbed Ajamu’s manacles, and pulled him out of the cage. The officer threw a long chain, of which one end was attached to his saddle-knob, on the ground.
“Get the prisoner ready. Cut off the legs from his breeches!”
A Guard took his knife and with swift cuts the legs fell off from Ajamu’s breeches, exposing his thick muscled thighs. The other Guard attached the chain to his neck-collar. Then the officer threw a pair of ankle-shackles, connected with a short chain, to the Guard, and he bent down to put them on Ajamu’s ankles. Now Ajamu noticed that Castor and Pollux were carrying a whip each, as they uncoiled them. Both were single-tail whips, weighted with little lead balls.
“All done? Good. Let’s go, we must not let the Governor and the spectators waiting. It’s time this rebel slave pays for his crimes!”
The horse started moving, and a sudden hard pull on Ajamu’s neck collar forced him to walk. He grabbed the chain in his hands, to protect his neck, and tried hard not to fall, because the ankle chain made walking very difficult.
Ajamu screamed as Castor’s whip lashed his shoulder blades. He arched his back in pain.
“Ha ha! Walk, Spartax!”
Ajamu turned his head and saw both drivers behind him, at both sides, their whips ready. Another pull at the chain forced him to concentrate again on staying on his feet, the chain rattling between his ankles.
Now Pollux’s whip lashed Ajamu’s naked, muscled back. Going faster than he did was impossible with the ankle chain, so all Ajamu could do was trying not to fall down. But his naked upper body was open to the whiplashes, coming from both drivers behind him.
The group slowly made its way along the street leading to the Main Square. Passers-by stopped to watch the scene of the young, strong slave being whipped towards the place of his punishment. From windows and doors, people looked and noticed how the young slave’s back started to show angry welts, some of them already bleeding.
About halfway down the street, as Ajamu received another vicious lash, he suddenly faltered, lost his footing and fell down. Immediately both drivers began to whip into his upper body.
WHACKK! WHACKK! WHACKK!
“On your feet, slave!”
As the whips lashed his body, Ajamu screamed and struggled to get to his feet as fast as he could. No sooner had he regained his footing, the chain was pulled again hard, and he walked on. He grimaced in pain.
Beside the street, the number of spectators began to grow as they approached the Main Square. Some even shouted at Castor and Pollux, to whip Ajamu harder. But they hardly needed encouragement. Again and again, from left and right, their whips landed on Ajamu’s back and thighs. Almost every time he screamed in pain, because the impact of the weighted whips was severe. Ajamu suffered. The pain was getting to him, and he knew he was whipped towards just more pain. And if he survived, that meant to perish in the mines. He would never see Makena again, never be free. He just hoped the agony would be over soon.
They reached the Main Square. Their path now led through the numerous carriages of the rich plantation owners, who had come to see the rebel punished. Soon their power would be made clear once again, as the rebel would be screaming his pain out on the scaffold. The slaves present on the Square would witness the punishment, and tell about its horrors to their fellow-slaves back on the plantations. That should discourage any other young slave with thoughts about freedom…
Once again Ajamu faltered, and almost fell. He landed on one knee, gasping heavily. Then he heard a voice, a voice that reminded him of better days. It was Charles Bellamy, next to whose carriage he was.
“Ajamu! Listen, I will save Makena from Lord Beckford! And I will try to buy you out of the mines! I will…”
“Get up, boy!”
Ajamu groaned and screamed, but he got to his feet. He just caught a glimpse of his former Master’s kind face and his eyes filled with worry and compassion. But then a hard pull on the chain forced him on, towards the scaffold.
As they neared the stairs leading up to the scaffold, Ajamu began to realise what Charles Bellamy had said. Through his pain he felt some hope again. He tried to cling to that thought, as they reached the bottom of the stairs. The officer dismounted, and disconnected the chain from his saddle. Then he walked up the stairs, pulling hard at the chain on Ajamu’s neck. Ajamu tried to take the steps, but the ankle chain caused him to trip, and he fell hard on the stairs. Before he could get back up, Castor and Pollux let their whips lash into his sweating and welted back once again.
7 – ON THE SCAFFOLD
Finally Ajamu was on the scaffold. He sank to his knees, exhausted, and bent forward, leaning on his underarms. His whipped back showed many welts, crisscrossed, many of them bleeding. Gasping, he tried to catch his breath. The officer came and took off the heavy iron collar. Then he saluted towards the carriage, where the Governor and Lord Beckford were seated.
The Governor responded with a sign of the hand, and the officer nodded. Then the executioner came up the stairs, a burly man, and he walked over to Ajamu. He stood next to him, and grabbed his hair. Roughly he pulled, and forced Ajamu’s head up high, so that he lifted up his upper body. Ajamu was on his knees, his upper body leaning backwards, his face grimacing. The officer raised his hand, took out a document and read it aloud.
“Punishment of the slave Spartax, guilty of rebellion. The slave is to receive severe and various tortures, inflicted on his naked body. He is to be revived in case of losing consciousness, in order to suffer punishment to the full extent. Then he will be tied to the cross, to hang there until sundown. Again, in case of losing consciousness, he is to be revived until sundown. Then he is to be taken down and transported to the mines, to heavy forced labor for the rest of his days.”
The officer folded the document, and nodded to the executioner.
The executioner let go of Ajamu’s hair and said
“Prepare him on the X-Cross”
Castor and Pollux grabbed Ajamu and dragged him to a large wooden X-Cross, that stood in a 45 degrees inclined angle on the scaffold. Only now Ajamu saw the X-Cross, and the table next to it, on its top a collection of vicious looking instruments. Also he saw a large cauldron with hot coals in it, and a number of irons in the coals, their wooden handles sticking out. He groaned and strained his muscles in resistance, but the strong drivers forced him chest up on the cross, his whipped and bleeding back on the rough wood. While castor held him down, Pollux disconnected the chain on his ankle shackles and tied first his left, and then his right ankle to the lower ends of the X-Cross. Then Ajamu’s wrist shackles were taken off, and his arms spread to tie his wrists to the top ends. He lay breathing heavily, spreadeagled on the Xcross, the thick muscles in his arms and legs flexing as he tested the ropes. There was no escape. His near naked body was open and helpless to the coming tortures.
The executioner walked over to the table and took three long canes. He tested their flexibility, and Ajamu heard the swishing sounds. He looked on as the executioner handed a cane each to both drivers. Castor and Pollux stood at Ajamu’s legs. The executioner let his cane rest on Ajamu’s chest, and then slowly ran it down to his abs. Then he raised the cane, and so did both drivers, an evil grin on their faces. Ajamu closed his eyes and braced himself.
SHWACK! SHWACK! SHWACK!
One after the other the canes hit Ajamu’s body, on his chest and his inside thighs. Ajamu groaned hard, grimacing, his white teeth showing.
SHWACK! SHWACK! SHWACK!
The executioner now alternated to Ajamu’s outstretched abs, now to his ribcage, now to his chest. The drivers targeted his thighs, especially on the inside. Ajamu’s body writhed under the strokes, but he was unable to escape or protect his body. The canes landed hard on him, each time three at a time, with an interval, to let Ajamu feel the impact and its effect. They hit him hard, relentlessly.
It seemed to Ajamu that the pain was increasing with each series of three strokes. Each time he opened his eyes, all he saw was the cruel look in the executioner’s face, as he raised his cane for another stroke across Ajamu’s naked upper body. And then the canes hit him hard, and he closed his eyes, and screamed out as the pain seared.
After they had hit Ajamu with about 20 times three strokes, they stopped. Ajamu’s chest heaved as he gasped for air. His chest, ribcage, abs and thighs were covered with welts, some of them bleeding. He tried to focus away from his pain, and imagined he saw Makena, how she put her soft hand on his chest, to caress him. He did not notice that the executioner had walked over to the table, put down his cane, and taken some vicious sharpened pins. He came to the X-Cross again. His right hand started to examine Ajamu’s abs muscles, carefully feeling the tendons and the muscles.
“Now the pain really starts, boy! Let’s see how you like these pins in your abs!”
He felt up the left upper ab muscle, and then placed the pin horizontally against it, the sharpened point pricking the skin. Then he pressed, slowly and carefully, forcing the pin to break the skin and bite into the muscle.
Ajamu screamed his pain out as the pin slowly was forced through the muscle. The executioner wiggled it while pressing, to extract the maximum pain. Only after the point exited through Ajamu’s deep ridge between his abs, the executioner stopped. Then he walked over to Ajamu’s other side, and before Ajamu could recover, the second pin was forced into his living muscle, now his upper right ab.
The spectators heard the screams, and they saw the body of the punished slave writhe on the X-Cross, while he was tortured. Lord Beckford sat back in his seat, and took in the whole spectacle, feeling a deep pleasure at the agony his slave was going through.
Ajamu suffered. He screamed, and sometimes lifted his head up to look down his sweating chest. He saw now two pins sticking into him, and a third approaching his middle abs. He braced himself, and then the third pin was driven into him.
He pulled hard at the ropes, his muscles straining, while the pin was driven through his ab muscle. But the ropes did not break and he remained defenseless against the torture. He muttered the name “Makena” when the third pin was in, only to let another scream of pain escape his throat as the fourth was slowly driven into his left middle ab.
With four pins the executioner stopped, and stood back to look at his work. The pins stuck horizontally into Ajamu’s abs. With each heavy breath he took, they moved a bit with the contraction of the muscles. Now even breathing was a source of pain for Ajamu. Sweat ran down his face, and all his body was glistening.
The executioner beckoned Castor and Pollux to the table. He presented them each with a pair of iron pliers, and gave them short instructions. They grinned and nodded. Then the three of them took position at the X-Cross. With his pliers, the executioner pointed out Ajamu’s waist, and he himself placed his pliers at Ajamu’s right pec muscle. He nodded, and the three pairs of pliers were opened, set at Ajamu’s skin, and then were squeezed tight. The pliers clasped muscle hard.
Squeezing to the max, the tormentors now began to twist and pull their pliers. The executioner kept a close watch at Ajamu’s face as his screams intensified. Then, on his signal, the pliers were opened and taken off Ajamu’s body. He moaned deep. They let him recover somewhat, but then the pliers were again placed on Ajamu’s body, at fresh positions. And again the pliers clasped, squeezed, twisted and turned.
Ajamu threw his head back as he screamed, his body writhed under the pliers biting into him. And again the pliers were taken off, a short moment of recovery, and then they were applied to yet other fresh positions. Squeeze. Pull. Twist.
The governor turned to Lord Beckford and said
“Beckford, you know I want the slave punished, but not killed. He run away, and attacked an overseer, but he did not kill. You remember?”
Lord Beckford nodded.
“Yes, of course I do. I gave clear instructions. This slave is young, strong and in prime condition. He can take the pain and survive. We have a great opportunity to make an indelible impression on the slaves today. They will never forget this when the punishment is with greatest severity! And he has not even lost consciousness yet!”
The governor leaned back into his pillows and watched how the tormentors yet again applied the pliers to Ajamu’s body, in his sides and his pec muscles.
All Ajamu sensed was pain. His body screamed for the agony to stop. Just the flashes of Makena shooting through his mind gave him momentary relief, but then again the suffering took over and he screamed out his agony as the pliers caused again and again acute pain. They left nasty bruises, and in many places they broke skin as well.
Finally the executioner put an end to the pliers-torture. Ajamu was left alone for a while: the executioner wanted him to recover, before continuing the punishment. He observed his victim closely. Ajamu’s head hang between his upper arms, his mouth open, his eyes closed. His chest heaved. His pierced abs contracted with his heavy breathing. The effects of the tortures so far caused a continuous pain. A haze of agony clouded his mind. But in the break somehow he was able to think about the words he heard from his good Master James Bellamy, and he took some new courage. There was still hope. He lifted his head and looked towards the executioner. He noticed how he approached with a bucket.
The cold water splashed into his face and over his upper body. It refreshed him and washed away some of the blood from his chest and abs. He gasped and shook his head. The executioner smiled.
“All awake again? Good! We can continue making you suffer, slave!”
He put down the bucket and walked over towards the cauldron. One after the other he took out the irons, using a cloth to protect his hand as he held the handles, to inspect them. He spat on the red-hot ends, and a sizzle was heard. Then he selected one iron and walked over to the X-Cross. Ajamu looked at the red-hot iron and swallowed hard. The executioner held the iron close to Ajamu’s skin and moved it over his chest and down to his abs. Ajamu felt the heat on his skin, and braced himself, looking into the cruel eyes of the executioner. He pulled at the ropes, instinctively wanting to move his body away from the burning iron, but there was no escape. The red-hot iron descended, and landed on his lower abs.
The executioner let the red-hot iron burn into Ajamu’s flesh, and then lifted it as it lost it greatest heat. Ajamu shook his head wildly and gasped for air. Then he calmed down a bit, lifted his head, and looked down his chest at the burning mark on his lower abs. he moaned deeply and let his head fall backwards again. He did not notice that the executioner had replaced the iron into the hot coals, and had selected another. He came back to the X-Cross and held the new iron above Ajamu’s middle abs, right between the two rows of pins piercing his abs. And he let the iron descend.
Pain burst into Ajamu’s body, unbearable pain. Through a red haze Ajamu screamed, his body writhing and shaking, and then, suddenly, all went black. He lost consciousness, and his body went limp under the burning iron.
The executioner lifted the iron, and walked back to the cauldron. As he replaced the iron, he muttered:
Castor went to get another bucket of cold water. He splashed it over Ajamu’s head and body, and waited. Slowly Ajamu came to, and as he regained consciousness, so he felt pain again. Moaning deeply he began to breathe and he opened his eyes. For a split second he thought that his torture had been a bad dream, but soon he became aware of the horrible reality again. He was still tied to the X-Cross, his near naked body vulnerable and defenseless, and his tormentors were ready to continue their work.
The executioner took another red-hot iron from the cauldron: its end was shaped in an R, for “rebel”. He held it up high, to show it to all spectators, and then walked over to the X-Cross. He held the iron vertically and lowered it above Ajamu’s heaving, sweating chest, over his right pec. He let Ajamu first feel the heat, and then pressed it down.
The searing, agonising pain shocked Ajamu into full consciousness, and to him it seemed as if the iron was pushed right through his chest. His fingers clawed the air, his legs quivered, smoke arose from under the iron burning into his pec muscle. Then the executioner lifted the iron, and a big R burning mark was left in Ajamu’s chest. His head fell back, his open mouth gasped for air. With his eyes closed, all he was aware of was the agony in his tortured body.
The executioner stepped away from the X-Cross and gave new orders to Castor and Pollux.
“Take the slave from the X-Cross, let him drink, and then tie his arms to the crossbeam like I told you.”
As the drivers began to untie the ropes on Ajamu’s wrists and ankles, the spectators understood that the second part of the punishment was at hand. Soon the rebel slave would hang on the cross, his suffering prolonged and for all to see.
Castor and Pollux held Ajamu by his arms and legs, and dragged him from the X-Cross. They dropped him on the scaffold floor. Moaning in pain Ajamu began to curl up, his hands moving to his chest and abs, to his wounds and pierced belly. The executioner warned the drivers.
“Don’t let him touch those pins! They stay in! Tie him to the crossbeam first then!”
Castor kicked away Ajamu’s arms, to prevent him from touching his front. Pollux went over and dragged a crossbeam over to where Ajamu was lying. Castor forced Ajamu on his back, making his head resting on the crossbeam. Then both of them got the ropes, and each kneeled down at one of Ajamu’s arms. While the executioner kept a close watch, they forced Ajamu’s strong arms up and sideways, and pressed his underarms down onto the crossbeam. Then they began to tie the ropes, at the wrists and at the elbows, so that the wrists were on the crossbeam, and the elbows just under it. Ajamu’s arms stayed a bit bent, and even in rest his biceps bulged. The executioner checked the ropes closely, and nodded.
“Good. Now give him some water. And refresh him. I want him fully conscious!”
Pollux got another bucket of cold water. He also brought a wooden cup, filled it with water, and held it to Ajamu’s lips. He tilted it, and Ajamu began to drink. He drank the full cup, and licked his dry lips. The water did him good. Pollux now lifted the bucket and splashed it over Ajamu’s face and upper body. A shiver went through his body as he was freshened up by the cold water. But he only became awake to the full to be aware of his pain, and of the fact that his arms were tied to the crossbeam. He looked around, and now saw the solid wooden post erected on the scaffold, about 10 feet high. His eyes widened as he realised what would come next. He swallowed, and muttered “Makena”, and made a courageous effort to fight his desperation. He knew they would make him suffer more and long, but he had to hold out, fight for his life, keep the hope to be rejoined with Makena alive. He had to be strong and endure, no matter how cruel and vicious the agony was going to be.
Two soldiers came onto the scaffold, to assist the two drivers in crucifying Ajamu. They all took hold of the crossbeam, two at each side, and dragged Ajamu to the post. Two wooden blocks were positioned next to the post, for the men to step onto. They began to lift the crossbeam up. Ajamu’s arms were stretched, and he groaned. His upper body was lifted up, and now the executioner grabbed his legs tightly, and helped to lift him up. The crossbeam was lifted up high, until it reached the top of the post, which had a valley to receive the crossbeam. It fell into the valley, and the crossbeam rested on the top of the post. The executioner let go of Ajamu’s legs. Then the full body weight had to be carried by Ajamu’s arms.
He hung with stretched arms. The ropes cut into his arms. His whipped back leaned against the rough post. His torso and legs were stretched out. Immediately his shoulders and arms began to hurt badly. Instinctively his feet began to search for support. He looked down, and noticed there were what seemed footrests, just a bit higher than his ankles. He lifted his feet and let them search. Yes. He planted his feet on the rests, but then…
The footrests were fitted with a sharp spike each! Ajamu could only find support for his feet at the price of pressing his foot soles on the spikes. He pulled himself up by his arms, and his thick biceps bulged as he flexed. He discovered that breathing was easier that way. So he continued to hold himself up, but soon his arms, as strong as they were, became tired. With a deep groan he let his arms stretch out again. Now he realised the horror of his punishment: whatever he would do to find relief, it would always be causing himself new pain.
Castor, Pollux and the executioner stood beside the cross and watched.
“You like it, boy? Eh? Does it hurt? Hahaha!”
From a distance Lord Beckford leaned back in his pillows and deeply enjoyed what he was seeing and hearing. What a sight to watch that strong muscled slave, so well trained before, strain and writhe, hanging on the cross. His body covered with bruises, welts and burns, his abs pierced, every muscle in his body was straining as he frantically tried to relieve his suffering. But he could not, and his grimacing face and groans bore witness to the pain he was experiencing.
The governor sighed, his face drawn.
“Is this not enough, Beckford? The boy has been brutally tortured and now you have him endure the cross for hours to come. Is this not enough cruelty?”
Lord Beckford grinned.
“Mylord, on the contrary! This is an excellent example to all slaves! Let them see and hear what it means to suffer! It will keep them from rebellion, if they remember what happened to this one!”
The governor winced as Ajamu uttered a raw scream as he had to let himself hang again from his arms.
There was no relief for Ajamu. Whatever he tried to lessen the agony in his body, it only resulted in another jolt of pain. Hanging from his arms, the pain in his arms, shoulders and back was almost unendurable, and it meant that his breathing was difficult. And every breath he took meant feeling the sharp pain from the pins in his abs. Only pulling himself up by his powerful arms brought some relief, but soon his strength began to give again. Only by supporting himself on the footrests could help that, but that meant placing his foot soles on the spikes. And so Ajamu was in constant movement, displaying his muscles as he struggled and strained. He moaned and groaned, and every once in a while a deep scream escaped from his throat, from pain and frustration. Sweat ran down his near naked body, as he performed what Lord Beckford used to call “the dance on the cross”.
As time passed, some of the spectators had seen enough and began to leave. They had been watching the punishment for a long time now, and they longed for refreshments and a comfortable seat in a cool salon, out of the hot sun. They lost interest in the agonies of the young slave on the cross, who would continue to hang there and suffer for hours to come.
Ajamu had lost all feeling in his hands, but the pain in the rest of his body was all too present. Sometimes he let himself hang from his arms just as long as he could endure, hoping his strength would restore itself enough to hold himself up a bit longer, so he could take more deep breaths after pulling himself up. Then he had to grit his teeth and fight the urge to stop hanging as the pain and cramps in his arms increased. But the agony would mount, and many times he’d scream loudly as he finally pulled himself up, his thick biceps bulging.
Tears of frustration and suffering filled his eyes. A red haze clouded his vision. The executioner kept a close watch on Ajamu. He wanted to avoid as long as possible that the young slave would lose consciousness. So he ordered Pollux to get up on the woodblock a few times, and let Ajamu drink. Every time his instinct for survival made Ajamu accept the water, even if he knew it would prolong his suffering. Slightly refreshed, he would pull himself up once again, groaning deep, and taking deep breaths, his abs tightening, his chest heaving as he filled his lungs.
Only after more than two hours it happened that Ajamu lost consciousness the first time on the cross. With a deep tortured sigh his body went limp, and he was hanging stretched on the cross, his chin resting on his sweaty chest.
Lord Beckford immediately rose from his seat.
“Executioner! Wake the slave up! It is still hours before sunset! I want him to suffer the full time! Do your work! “
The executioner nodded, and ordered Pollux to get another bucket of cold water. He threw the content of the bucket up, into Ajamu’s face. Ajamu reacted, but did not fully come to. He moaned, but he kept hanging from his strong arms. He breathed only slowly. Soon his chin sank to his chest again.
The executioner muttered something, and walked over to the cauldron. He took out a red-hot iron, inspected it, spat on it to check its heat, and then came to the cross.
“Wake up, slave!”
He pressed the red-hot iron up under Ajamu’s left foot sole. Ajamu was shocked into consciousness.
While he screamed, he pulled himself up once again. The intense pain had revived him, and he gasped for breath while he could. With a satisfied grin Lord Beckford sat down again as he could see Ajamu’s muscles strain and flex as the agonies of hanging on the cross returned. The governor shook his head and sighed, and looked away from the sight of suffering on the scaffold.
And again Ajamu could do nothing but resume his desperate attempts to find relief for the pain and agony in all his body, without any hope of finding it. Only the flashes of images of his Makena through the haze of suffering endless pain made that he somehow endured.
The periods of hanging from his arms became longer and longer. It was increasingly difficult for Ajamu to pull himself up, even if he pressed his foot soles on the spikes. Always he had to prepare himself before pulling on his arms, and as he did, he groaned deep or even screamed out. Then he would try to keep that position as long as he could, and take deep breaths. But soon he had to let himself fall down again. He was beginning to lose his strength. The tortures on the X-Cross also more and more took their toll.
For more than half an hour Ajamu struggled and strained, but then the agonies became too much once again. With a deep groan he lost consciousness once again.
The executioner turned towards Lord Beckford.
“Mylord, the slave is close to suffocating. I do not think he can be sufficiently revived to be made to suffer to the full. I advise to take him down now.”
Lord Beckford was irritated. The governor said, “Beckford, it is enough. The boy has suffered more than any slave punished here as far as I can remember.”
Lord Beckford looked at the limp body hanging on the cross.
“Fine then. He’ll continue to suffer in the mines, until he’s worked to death. Take him down!”
The executioner nodded. Soldiers came onto the scaffold, and they helped lifting the crossbeam from the post. The ropes were untied from Ajamu’s arms, and as they came down the wounds on his wrists and elbows showed. The soldiers grabbed Ajamu by his arms and legs, and carried him from the scaffold. They threw him in the back of a waiting cart.
As the cart departed from the Main Square, James Bellamy watched. He saw the limp, tortured body of his former slave. They would take him to the mines, let him recover from his ordeal, and then put him to work under the lash. They would drive him so hard, that he would die before long. James Bellamy grit his teeth. He would do what he could to save Ajamu, and get Makena back from Lord Beckford’s estate.