“Shesh, now… just shesh!” Kaylebuh, frantically joggled the squalling baby in his lap. He gritted his teeth and pulled one of the wailing girls off the bench, thrust the baby into her lap. “Here! Shesh! Botha you!” He’d fallen in the world, from Cap’n Lewesten’s bodyslave, crammed in here with these pale, blond, lacrimose children, strawbossin’ when none of ‘em spoke any language he did.
The Cap’n was pilin’ on sail like there weren’t no tomorrow trying to get away from these horrid dead-fish skinned, tow-headed, Arkans, and the insane tall, pitch-blacks wearing lion-skins and howling fit to raise the blessed dead, cutting people’s throats, spittin’ em on evil hooked spears leavin’ fit people howlin’ in the dirt tryin’ to put theirselves back together.
He’d seen a properly brown woman, wearing gray armour smash in Jaymbob’s head with a hooked wooden club an’ grab the babies he’d been carryin’. She’d climbed the guard tower somehow, slung them babies like they was bags of coffee ‘n then JUMPED with a contraption that grabbed her away flyin’.
Kaylebuh’d been running as the Cap’n commanded, a new-caught slave woman by one arm, a baby in the other and been hustled onboard as the guard barracks behind them somehow caught fire with a roar like it was laced with fire-cotton or loaded with gun-seed powder.
Someone had got the armoury open and the crack, crack of rayful fire faded as the shore dropped behind them.
“They’re jes tryin’ tah get us free.” The skinny bitch he’d grabbed said in passable Fehinnan. She’d not been that new-caught then, an smart ifn she could already talk passible.
“Girlie, there ain’t nuthin’ on this wide blue sea kin catch Cap’n Lews. The Dixabelle holds ‘t record fer speed crossing and once she gets sea-room an’ wind she gone runnin’ like a stripe-assed ape.”
That set her off and he rolled his eyes as she started to sob. “Girlie… girlie… shesh. Butter my butt and call me a biscuit, GIRL, be QUIET or I’ll jerk you BALD!” He shouted at her and it silenced her and even the baby stilled. “Y’all stink bad enough to knock a dog off a gut wagon and I’m not a new-caught or lowborn slave. I’m a HOUSE-SLAVE and don’t deserve to be down here with all you wild animals!”
She narrowed her eyes at him and said something in that razor-edged language of theirs and the wailing girls quieted, and worked at getting the babies to settle. Some passed on another slither-snake tongue and the girl actually yelled back at him. “Y’all took HAIANS! They’re the healers! How COULD you?”
Kaylebuh sniffed. “They’ll sell fer more, ifn they’re trained up.” The Dixabelle twitched and heeled over.
“There.” Kaylebuh nodded. “You’re all set. Don’ make the master put ch’all in irons. Once we get away from them red-sail rowing tubs, we’ll be let outa here.” She didn’t answer at first, but her stare was as lethal as the Gilly, t’ol’lady in the baracoons who’d smacked the stupid out o’ them new-caught and got ‘em to obey proper.
She said something he couldn’t make out, then said. “Ten curse you and your master and all your children. Muunas strike this ship, Selinae steal your potency…” He slapped her right across the mouth.
“Shesh that. Cap’n hears that he’ll flog you dead and drop you overboard.”
The ship creaked and a sail above thundered. “That’s the fore-sail,” Kaylebuh said. “We’re safe away now.”