Adam smiled down at his little mistress then pointed to the seagulls that flew about the wharf gathering fish and bits of man’s refuse to eat as they played about the water and the pilings. Leigha was soon absorbed once again into the magic of the port, forgetting all about the slave she had seen. She remained with Adam at the railing, looking on a scene that could be of any time in history, for the people and the birds were doing the same things they had done at similar ports around the world for centuries. Neither of them noticed the group of strange men that stood watching them. They wore brightly colored robes and cloth wrappings about their heads. Their dark coal eyes glittered as they watched Leigha. One man smiled evilly at the beautiful woman before him, anticipating the plans they had made to own the red-haired goddess that stood smiling upon the decks of the ship before them. Leigha felt safe and well protected with Adam at her side and knew nothing of these men or their plans as she waited for Simon’s return.
It was past noon when Simon came striding through the crowd with Captain Tolwin. They were followed by the merchants Joseph had entertained the night before. Behind the merchants came their workers carrying the supplies needed for the Pepperwind’s journey. Simon saw Leigha standing out on the deck and, taking leave from the others, walked up the gangway and went directly to where she stood waiting for his return.
“I thought that you were going to remain below and get some rest,” he scowled at her, angry that she was on deck in plain sight of everyone, having seen the group of men that had been watching her. “That was the agreement we had last night, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was Simon,” Leigha answered, puzzled by his reaction to finding her there. “But the noise from the dock kept waking me up, so I decided that I would get Adam to come up here with me, and we would wait together for you.” She then changed the subject, hoping to stop the anger in his eyes. “Simon, did you know that some people make others their slaves? I have heard of such things but never believed it until today when we saw a black man walk by! Adam told me that the man was a slave. Can you believe how evil some people can be?”
Simon looked darkly at Adam then shook his head at Leigha’s innocence. He was sorry that she had seen such a side of man’s nature but decided to bring the point even closer to reality for her as a caution for her to mind him better in these strange lands. “They even make women their slaves,” he said as she looked in confusion at the hard expression on his face, “Particularly beautiful white women such as you. So from now on, you will do as I say and not always as you want. The lands we are traveling to are quite notorious for this aspect of slavery!”
Leigha gasped in amazement and fear, looking stunned first at Simon and then at the mass of people below.
“I’m sorry to have to tell you such things,” he said as he took her arm and turned her gently towards him. “But they are true. People are not always good, and such things are even the way of life for some with no thought of it being right or wrong, for slavery has been in practice for generations upon generations and so is an accepted way of living! So, little one,” he said, gently tipping her saddened face upwards, making her meet his serious gaze, “you will have to stay near me or Adam and out of sight as much as possible when we are around other people. We must keep the temptation away from such men that would wish to steal you away.”
“Do you think that there is someone out there watching me now?” Leigha whispered in fright, turning a startled look back towards the wharf.
“It would make no difference now, my love.” Simon laughed softly, trying to put her at ease. “For I will not be leaving the ship again today, and we will sail with this evening’s tide! So even if there are such people out there watching you now, they will have no chance to take you away from me, and none know but us where we’re headed from here.”
Leigha gave a sigh of relief and snuggled her small body into Simon’s open arms, feeling safe once again.
“Come,” he said, placing an arm about her shoulders to lead her away, “let us go down to the cabin and have our meal. You will remain there afterwards while I come up to help with the loading, won’t you?”
Leigha nodded her head vigorously, still frightened by the thought of being taken away from Simon and made to be a slave. Seeing a look of doubt in his eyes, she smiled reassuringly up at him, and he knew that his words had been heard and he would be obeyed, a difficult task at best, for Leigha would always have a mind of her own.
“Very well then, Adam, or I will be near the cabin off and on today while we are loading. Just holler if you need us. Now, let’s go eat, I’m starving!”
With that they went below, out of sight of the strangers that still stood silently watching, waiting for the Pepperwind to leave port so that they could follow. Simon and Leigha were unaware of Captain Tolwin’s loose tongue the night before or of the subsequent plans these men had made. The Pepperwind was sailing to the lands that these men came from, and the haven Simon had chosen would end up being a trap, whose mighty jaws would tighten about them, separating the two lovers swiftly and surely from each other. The men turned and went to their own ship after Simon had taken Leigha below, there to make ready their own journey that would follow the path of the Pepperwind.
Lee, Virginia (2011-01-20). Dagon’s Blood Xlibris. Kindle Edition.