June 5, 1849
Hillsborough County, Florida
Henry brought in the pail of water and set it on the table. His mother had left him to get washing done while she attended to Master Johnson. There had been such strife of late, the fighting with the Indians and some of the Blacks joining them that it made the masters all fearful. They became stricter with the slaves, selling off those that scared them or those they thought would bring trouble at the first opportunity. Henry's oldest brother and sister had both been sold last winter and his mother, Harriett, had been despondent every since, and she became even more guarded with Henry.
Henry didn't know his father but he knew not to mention it any more. He had asked for years about his father but his mother and others on the plantation told him not to speak of it. It was his older brother, James, who finally took him down to the river and sitting on its bank watching the slow moving waters heading to the Gulf told him how Master Johnson's oldest son forced himself on their mother and he was the resulting bastard child. It tore at Henry to think of it, for he understood what his brother meant, for he was fifteen now and he understood the nature of sex, and when it was for pleasure and when it was not. Henry had looked at his brother and saw how he too was light skinned with hair straighter than the others with green eyes.
"Do you know your daddy?"
James had sat quiet for a long time then just shook his head and Henry knew their mother, such a beautiful woman, had been forced upon by someone else, and he knew it had probably been the Master, for who else would have given his son the idea three years later.
The sun was low on the horizon and the gnats swarmed in large clouds and as the wind died down the mosquitoes began in earnest. Henry went out and sat on the threshold under the small lean to roof over the door waiting on his mother. He fanned at mosquitoes and gnats waiting patiently. He could see the Master's house which sat on a small knoll overlooking the plantation with candlelight illuminating most of the lower floor and a couple of the upstairs windows.
He turned and looked down toward the river, the one James, Lily and he had fished in often, swam in whenever they could find the free time, especially during the hot summer months and he felt their absence, the cruelty of it and he forced himself to look away and not dwell on it anymore. He let his eyes scan the low rough brush and trees that surrounded them and he thought of those Indians down further south hiding in the swamp and everglades not letting the white man capture them and take them out west, or out into the Gulf dumping them into the waters as some of the other Blacks believed. He wondered what it was like to live in the swamp avoiding capture living free of the whip and hot box. He been made to stay in the hot box once and he remembered how his mother had screamed and cried for he was only twelve. But he had talked back to the Master who wouldn't tolerate it, not even from children and believed in punishing them until they learned better.
Suddenly he heard shouting and looking up toward the Master's house he saw smoke billowing out of the upper floor windows and people were running back and forth across the pasture and in front of the house. The pop of gun fire followed by screaming and Henry stood up about to head to house knowing his mother was there. He hesitated then started toward the house but Elijah came running up, the Master's favorite slave, the one he allowed to stay in the house, and he looked afraid, more than he had ever looked before. Henry saw how he had not put on his clothes properly with his shirt unbutton and hanging loose and he was barefoot.
"Henry! Oh God, Henry, get your ass back inside. Come on" Elijah whispered as he ran up to Henry grabbing him by the arm. Back inside Henry stood in the middle of the one room cabin watching Elijah run around the room gathering up clothes and other items putting them in a feed sack. "Come on boy, don't just stand there, you have to pack up and go. Do you hear me, you have to go" he exclaimed with his voice trembling with fear. "Oh god...your mother..." and he stopped suddenly and turned to Henry, "I'm sorry Henry but she's gone. She's gone and not coming back."
Henry was in shock, the sudden realization of his fears and he stood staring at Elijah who moved slower for a while gently placing a few more items in the sack, a fork, a knife, a tin plate, and when he got to the small table he lifted up a small picture Harriett had mounted on a board, a drawing someone had done of a beach with huts with people playing or fishing along the shore and he placed it in the sack with the other items. Elijah came up to Henry holding the sack out.
"Henry, I'm sorry but you have to go and go now. Take this and go by Millie's cabin for she has some provisions to give you and you get out of here. Head south and trust no one, black or white. Do you hear me?"
Henry nodded his head slowly as he took the sack. Elijah led him out of the cabin and hugged him tightly. When Elijah let go he pushed Henry toward Millie's cabin and Henry, in shock and feeling completely alone, walked then ran into the darkness. Millie met him outside her cabin with one of the bags they used in the Master's garden to pick vegetables and slipped the strap over Henry's head so it would hang by his side. She said nothing as tears ran down her dark brown cheeks but she grabbed him by the shoulders and kissed him on the forehead, then pushed him away, pushed him toward the south.
For days Henry roamed through the countryside avoiding any development or settlement no matter how small. He slept in trees and when the weather turned bad he would find a barn or abandoned shack risking capture to get some much needed rest. He had had the full moon at first allowing him to travel at night but as the moon phased toward the new moon he began to shift to sleeping at night and traveling during the day. He knew he was miles south of Master Johnson's plantation and in a territory still sparsely populated so the risk of being caught was far less a chance.
Although he headed in a generally southern direction, the creeks and rivers made him cut inland to find a place to get across without being seen and where it was safe for the alligators floated along many of the rivers hunting for prey. He zigzagged along the territory until he came to the upper edges of a great swamp with tall cypress trees that blocked out the sun. He lived among the trees going along the edge of the swamp for months fishing and trapping animals for food and on occasion stealing from a garden plot or a few times from some settler who had staked a claim on some parcel. Months passed and Henry learned the lay of the land, where to fish or hunt and more importantly the best places to camp. At night he heard the growl of the panther or the splashing in the water of something being taken down and he slept fitfully, always alert to some new sound, something menacing such as the white man hunting in the swamp.
He saw signs of the Indians, their footpaths, the garden plots they had hidden in the swamp and on occasion he found their canoes hidden in the underbrush. It would be nearly year before he saw the first Indian.
He had stolen a canvas tarp from some soldiers who had been patrolling the swamp. They had left their camp suddenly in pursuit of some Indians one of them had seen and Henry, having been watching them for days from up in the trees, had sneaked into their camp and stole the tarp and some food. He had also built a small raft, a crude thing that floated unevenly and constantly threatened to toss him overboard, but it allowed him to venture deeper into the swamp and with the tarp he set up camp on the small islands within it.
He was on one such island, sleeping well past sun up for he stayed up most of the night and the sun rose up high in the sky till it could shine down on the tarp. He was half awake, alert as always to any sound but it was a shadow passing over the tarp that woke him. He lay listening for a long time but heard nothing. It was the shadow of someone walking up to his tarp again that drew him out.
He rolled over expecting the worst and saw it was an Indian, a young male, about his own age, who stood looking down on him. They stared at each other a long time neither saying anything.
"Why are you alone?" the Indian finally asked his English slightly broken.
"I have no family."
"You run from white man?"
Henry wasn't sure he should admit he was on the run but he thought of all the stories of how the Indians were doing the same.
"We run too."
Suddenly there was the noise of someone coming through the trees and the Indian boy motioned for Henry to be quiet as he moved off into the undergrowth and disappeared. The swamp grew quiet, only the sound of birds could be heard.
Henry eventually got up and hunted for food and a new camp site, unsure if he was safe having been discovered. He wasn't sure who to trust and his fear made him keep himself concealed. He found a long narrow island with an open area in the middle canopied by a large live oak and the grasses grew up tall along the bank concealing anyone lying low. Henry made camp under the tree but when darkness descended he heard the sound of animals moving in the water and near by so he climbed up the live oak to a high branch and tied himself off. He leaned back and eventually fell asleep.
The branch shook slightly and Henry woke to find the Indian boy sitting in front of him watching him intently.
"I'm Nokosi" the Indian boy said.
"No...koosi?" Henry replied.
The Indian boy smiled and leaned toward Henry, "It means Bear, so call me Bear."
"Bear" Henry repeated and he smiled back, "I'm Henry."
"Henry" Bear repeated. "Come Henry let me show you better place to sleep."
So began an unusual friendship with Bear taking Henry along with him through the old swamp, canoeing through the tall cypress trees and out into open grass lands with the constant flow of water and wildlife at every turn. Bear's people roamed though the swamp, going from one island to the next each with some provision, some vegetable crop or good fishing or just a remote place far from the white man's searches. They welcomed Henry into their tribe, made him a part of their people, showed him their ways, and more importantly, showed him how to survive.
Henry realized Bear seemed different from the others, more independent in nature, always leading just the two of them off on some adventure. They would travel for days at a time, just the two of them. Several times they paddled their way across the wide open grasslands till they reached the far coast where they would camp on some remote beach and watch the sun rise up early in the morning over the waters. They would paddle to areas along the coast where they could watch the while man's ships circling around the peninsula and head into the Gulf and Henry wondered often if those ships carried more slaves from Africa.
It was always late in the day, exhausted from their adventures and sitting around a fire eating whatever food they had hunted or gathered that Henry felt a closeness to Bear he didn't understand, a comfort with him he'd never known before. As Bear moved around their camp he would watch him, watch how he moved going about his tasks. Bear let his hair grow long and let it hang loose most of the time and his body was deeply tanned with a skin tone nearly as dark as Henry's. When Bear sat next to him, their bodies so close they bumped against each other Henry felt it inside, felt a sensation that confused him but he couldn't pull away. He didn't want to pull away.
Henry noticed how the girls of the tribe approached Bear, flirting with him and Henry was always relieved to see Bear politely brush them off. He knew his sense of jealously had to be wrong but he couldn't help the way he felt. And he was even more anxious when one of the girls approached him. He just wanted to be with Bear out in the swamp or on one of the beaches, the two of them on some adventure. And for two years Bear and he had their adventures.
Bear had told Henry he was a special person, someone with a good spirit, someone he liked very much for he loved their places in the swamp and grasslands, going with him as one. Bear didn't realize Henry would have followed him anywhere.
One summer day the sky clouded up with winds out of the east and Henry understood as well as anyone else in the tribe it was going to be rough weather and soon. Bear came up beside him and watched the fast moving clouds, the way they floated across the sky blocking out the sun.
"Henry, everyone is getting ready for the storm. I want to go where we can watch the storm move over the grasslands. Would you like that?"
Bear's family tried to get them to stay but it didn't take long for Bear and Henry to load up a canoe and paddle eastward. Henry knew where they were heading. They had been there many times before. It was a place the two of them had built themselves. A small hut built up off the ground on stilts as was the custom, but this one was higher for during heavy rains water ran over all the ground. They paddled with a steady fast rhythm, their muscular arms flexing with each stroke as they made their way through the swamp, cutting down familiar open sections and meandering through areas of tall cypress.
It had begun to rain before they reached the hut and they paddled into the wind that blew strongly through the swamp. They reached the hut late in the day with the rain falling so hard their canoe was half full of water. They rushed to get their provisions inside and the canoe tied off on the western side of the hut. They checked the blankets they kept in the hut and searched around for snakes or other animals. When they had the hut set up they moved to one side and wrapped up in a blanket the two of them shivering from being wet and the air getting cooler so quickly. The rain fell heavily and as they watched they eventually warmed up some but their wet pants still were uncomfortable.
"I'm getting out of these wet clothes" Bear said as he rose up and slipped the wet garments down his legs. He laid them out beside him on the floor to dry and pulled the blanket tight around him.
It seemed wrong somehow but Henry felt the itch of his wet pants and so he lifted up and slipped them off. Laying them to the side he wrapped his end of the blanket back around his torso. His nakedness felt so raw but he did feel better, his skin able to dry off and he warmed up quickly. Bear was so close they brushed against each other and Henry struggled with his thoughts, the feelings he didn't understand and he felt his cock rise up and begin to grow erect.
"Henry, back in camp there were girls who liked you. Did you ever think about joining with one?" Bear asked.
Henry watched the rain fall as he shook his head no.
Bear placed a hand on Henry's thigh, the touch warm and gentle, making Henry turn to Bear.
"Me neither" Bear said as he leaned to Henry and put his lips to Henry's, gently pressing them together. Henry didn't pull away, didn't flinch, but relaxed to the kiss accepting it and kissed back. Neither understood their feelings but alone out in this wilderness they didn't care. Bear slide his hand over Henry's thigh and brushed his fingers along Henry's cock, felt the way it grew hard and stretched out. Henry slipped one arm around Bear and eased down on his back pulling Bear with him.
Bear stroked Henry's cock as he kissed him, moving from his lips to his neck around to his ear and then downward. He kissed and sucked on one nipple then rose up looking at Henry.
"Is this agreeable to you?"
"Yes" Henry whispered as he ran one hand through Bear's long black hair feeling its silky softness slip through his fingers. Bear moved down and put his lips to Henry's light brown skin and he moved them downward, slowly kissing the warm skin as he went till he was putting his tongue to the smooth skin just above Henry's pubic hair brushing his face along the side of Henry's cock as it flexed up and down over his abdomen.
Henry didn't know what to expect, didn't know what Bear would actually do but he wanted something, anything, and he inhaled deeply when he felt Bear touch his cock with his lips. Bear moved along his cock touching it with his lips, his tongue, and his breath, each hot against the shaft and the head.
"Bear" Henry whispered when he felt his cock slip between Bear's lips and sink into his mouth. "OH" Henry cried out when Bear sucked on the head of his cock.
He was so aroused, his cock so hard it ached and when Bear moved his mouth up and down its length it didn't take long. He soon began to push up with his hips driving his cock into Bear's mouth and all too soon he felt his cum surge through his cock and explode into Bear's mouth. He pumped his hips up and down while Bear sucked on his cock drawing out his load.
Henry was quickly spent and he fell back feeling exhausted and when Bear moved up next to him, their naked bodies pressed together, he kissed Henry and the odd taste of his own cum mingled between them. He was still aroused, his cock still hard and he reached down and held Bear's cock in his hand, felt the hardness of the shaft, the way it filled his hand and flexed in his grip. He didn't know how he knew it would work, didn't understand his desire for it but he moved over Bear pushing him on his back. He sat up and rubbed his ass over Bear's cock, felt it slide along his ass and he wanted it, wanted it inside his body and he rose up over Bear as he reached back and held up his cock.
"What are you doing?" Bear asked.
"I don't know" Henry replied as he moved his ass down to Bear's cock, felt it touch his opening, push against it as he let his weight drop down. Bear's hands rested on his thighs and the touch was warm and gentle as Bear massaged the muscle with his long thin fingers. "Oh Bear" Henry cried out as he lowered himself feeling Bear penetrate his opening and sink into his hole. He moved slowly, feeling the pain of entry subside slowly, as inch by inch of Bear's cock sank into his body.
The blanket fell completely away revealing Henry to Bear, his lean brown body, the small fan of pubic hair over his curved cock, the shaft so much darker than his body and Bear watched Henry move on him, up and down, his own cock disappearing inside Henry then Henry sliding his ass upward revealing the thick shaft, slick and shiny with their fuck.
Henry felt his hole loosen and Bear's cock slid through his opening easily as he rode him, rocking his hips up and down, faster and faster, till he was grunting and moaning with each movement. Henry sank Bear's cock easily into his hole, all the way each time as he dropped down and he moved faster and faster till his body was hot, his skin slick with the heat of his exertions.
"Oh Bear" Henry cried out as he moved down hard and began to stroke his own cock, his fist slamming down his shaft. Bear rose up and kissed Henry as he wrapped his arms around him. He felt the way Henry moved on top of him, felt the way Henry was stroking his own cock between their stomachs, Henry's hand bumping against his own over and over.
"Henry...I'm going to..." Bear stammered and he forced Henry's body down hard as he came, his cock pumping out its load deep inside of Henry. Henry moved up and down a few more times, his hand stroking his own cock and soon Bear felt Henry's cum spatter against his chest.
The storm lasted for two days, two days Henry and Bear stayed inside the small hut where they watched it rain, watched how the flood waters ran over the ground heading toward the south and they tangled up together, their desires driving them together time and time again. They lay naked, limbs intertwined for the entire two days, touching, caressing, feeling the other, learning every curve and form of the other, and they experimented with their sex, learned how to pleasure the other till the storm was over and it was time to go back. The tribe knew something was different, more so than before, between Bear and Henry, but they didn't interfere for it wasn't in their nature to go against one's place, their desires and when Henry and Bear made their own place in each camp, living as one, the tribe considered it their way.