Act 60: A young buck like this... / by Steve Hart

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“Shut up, yer slimy little red one,” growled the sailor. “Or we’ll feed you to that monster, we will! Why, I bet that monster just loves to feed on little red boys.”

He held Timpoochee by his ankles over the side of the boat. Dangling upside down.

Just then another voice rose from below decks on the big Yonega boat.

“‘Ey, Smitty!” called the voice. “What’s all the ruckus about up there?”

Like a bird, the voice’s head popped up through a hatch to see Smitty dangling the clay colored boy over the side.

“‘Ello, whot’s 'is now?” said the queer, skinny little white man.

“We got us a little red one here, Poker. Pro’bly came aboard to see what he could steal from the big ship.”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” Poker responded. “What’ll we do with the little bastid to trying to run off with some of our booty?”

Smitty looked over at the six manacled slaves who were watching all the action with eyes like saucers.

“Ya know, each one of them, there, cost ‘is majesty’s crown about 600 pounds on the open market,” Smitty said, pointing at Timpoochee suddenly. “I’ll be if we played our cards right we could get a tidy sum for a young buck like this in New Orleans or Havana.”

Timpoochee was nearly in shock from fright.

“Ay, I bet you’re right at that, Smitty,” chimed in Poker. “That could set us up for life and we could get off this bloody ship for good.”

“Whacha mean, ‘we,’ yer thievin’ bloke? I’m the one what’s got the blinkin’ red in me ‘ands.”

The sailor suddenly threw Timpoochee across the deck in the direction of the black slaves.

Timpoochee shook his rattled head. The entire ship smell rank, musty, spoiled. Timpoochee could hardly breath. He wanted to heave. His stomach growled as he turned away from the fat, smelly sailor.

Just as he moved he felt a swift kick to his butt. The pain shot right through to his head.

In his daze, Timpoochee thought he caught a glimpse of Cornstalk hiding in the bushes at the edge of the river. He was just kneeling there, watching.

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