Our procession emerges from the deep shade of the narrow, mean streets of the city's slums into a dusty, sunlit square. Dominating this square is one of the several bagnios-or slave barracks -scattered throughout the city. This forbidding, stone fortress is to become our temporary prison as we wait to be sold. The grimness of the building's outward appearance fills me with foreboding and terror takes hold my imagination. What horrors await us within its walls? What unspeakable things are to be done to us as we are prepared for the auction block?
The square, like the wharf and the streets we have just passed through, is crowded with still more of the city's inhabitants who are in a festive mood and they have turned out to "welcome" the newest shipment of slaves to arrive in port. If we'd hoped for some relief from the ordeals of our uphill, meandering journey from the wharf to this place, then we are doomed to disappointment.
The mounted official uses his horse to push forward and clear a path for us through the milling crowd of chanting, hostile spectators and to keep us moving our overseers apply their whips to our already striped backs. We present a sorry sight but one which obviously strikes a chord with our tormentors as they taunt and jeer at us; obviously they are deriving great pleasure from our suffering.
Our naked bodies are covered in the slime and filth of the abuse we have endured; the rotten eggs, the over-ripe fruit and the animal dung cling to our torsos and our heads and shoulders are covered with the contents of the countless chamber-pots emptied over us from so many upper storey windows.
And how we reek!
After the foulness of the galley's hold, I should be desensitised to our bad smell -but I'm not. Relentlessly, the sun beats down on us and releases a miasma of odours from the putrefactions covering our bodies. Adding to our torment are the countless flies and other insect that swarm over us feasting on our vileness.
Slowly our mounted escort continues to clear a passage for us through the excited, wildly chanting crowd and all the time we are the targets of their anger. They strike out at us with whatever is at hand. We try to shield ourselves from the missiles hurled at us by raising our arms over our heads to protect our faces only to have them whipped down by our overseers.
Our bodies are lashed by all manners of improvised whips; the youth of the town have come armed with lengths of knotted ropes, leather belts and even switches made from tree branches. Again, somewhere along our line of misery, a slave stumbles and falls to the ground dragging all of us into a tangled heap. We are shown no mercy; we are savagely whipped to our feet and forced to continue in our sad procession towards the thick wooden gates of the bagnio.
We are almost across the square and ahead of me I hear the loud, metallic squeak of hinges as the heavy gates of the bagnio swing open to receive us. Mercifully, relief is at hand and we will soon be free of our tormentors.
Passing from the heat and fury of the crowded square into the cool, dark silence of the bagnio, I begin to shiver uncontrollably. I'm unsure whether my trembling is caused by the sudden change in temperature or from my fear.
We are driven by the whips of our overseers down a long, wide passageway; the sounds of their whips and the melancholy clanking our coffle chains echo off the stone walls and add to our apprehension. But at least there are no crowds here to torment us and soon we emerge from the gloom of the passage into a glaringly, sunlit courtyard surrounded by high stone walls.
Miserably we stand in a frightened huddle and wait silently as our handlers keep constant watch over us. Their menacing attitudes leave us in no doubt they'll stand no nonsense from us; intuitively, we know what to expect should we be stupid enough to show even the slightest sign of resistance. We wait - and as we wait we are learning a valuable lesson; one that teaches us time is no longer of any relevance to us. We are slaves and for now we must wait on our new masters. In future they'll make all decisions on our behalf and all that is required of us is instant and unquestioning obedience.
Our attention is attracted to a group of miserably emaciated, white slaves, who struggle under impossibly heavy loads as they wrestle large, wooden tubs into the courtyard. These miserable wretches are naked like us and wear large iron collars around their scrawny necks. They are under the direction of sleek, black African overseers who shout incomprehensibly at them and scourge them with their cruel, hippopotamus hide whips.
Later, I'm to learn that our masters employ many different types of whips to control their slaves and at various times throughout the years of my own slavery I will experience them all. So far I have felt the two most common ones on my naked back; the long, cattle hide whip and the shorter bull's pizzle one. If I thought these were fearsome, then I'm to learn – most painfully – they are as nothing when compared with the cruel kirbash or the fearsome, hippopotamus hide whip. Both of these dreadful instruments of torture are capable of shredding a slave's naked back if applied hard enough.
Whips are of course the tools of an overseer's trade. They're as much a part of his profession as the hammer and chisel are to a carpenter or a scalpel is to a surgeon. Largely, it is a matter of personal choice and each overseer has an opinion as to which is the most effective whip. However, they all agree unanimously on two things; their whips should be capable of rendering great pain to a slave and also cower him into total submission.
As I become acquainted with the language and customs of my new masters, I'll discover there is great debate among them as to which whip is the most efficient for controlling us. Like true connoisseurs, they'll argue at length about the effectiveness of each of the variety of whips available and the merits of the differing materials used in making them. Ultimately it becomes a personal choice for each overseer.
Eventually, chained to the oar of my Master's galley, I'll learn that he employs two types of whips to both control and to drive us to greater effort. I'll discover his overseers use the common, less vicious, raw hide whip for our "everyday" rowing periods. It needs to be said here that my Master's concern isn't out of pity for us; he chooses to use it because it is less "damaging" to his property. But when he does requires greater effort from his oar slaves –such as when he is in flight from an enemy vessel – his concern ceases and he breaks out the ferocious hippopotamus hide whip to use as an inducement for greater speed.
His worries are for his own safety and that of his crew and far outweigh any consideration for his straining, suffering slaves. In this, he is driven by self-preservation. His fear of capture by the accursed Christians is real and he knows that, if taken, he and his crew could be sent to the slave-markets at either British Tangiers or Livorno in Italy. On the other hand his slaves are expendable and replacements are readily found. Better to lose one or two slaves to exhaustion than to be captured by the Christians.
But that is in the not too distant future. For now we are to be prepared for sale and there is much to be done to make us ready.
As the slaves struggle to fill the wooden tubs with water, the overseers quickly remove the long coffle chain from our ankles and separate us into pairs. As new arrivals we are unaware of what is to happen next and we wait nervously for further instruction. I find myself paired with a young blond slave: he is one of the prisoners who had shared my prison on the galley. I'm not to know it but our fates are intertwined and he will be bought by the same galley-master who buys me.
Subsequently, I'll discover that his name is Joachim and like me, our master will substitute his name with a number; Joachim will become number 26 and I will be 27. We are destined - or should that be doomed - to share the same oar and row alongside one another. We are to become as brothers in our common adversity and it will be this bond that sustains us through the long years of our slavery.
Joachim and I are of a similar age but unlike me he isn't a sailor. He is a young merchant sent to Italy by his successful, merchant father in Kӧln to purchase a shipment of fine materials and rare silks. His father is a well-known and highly respected importer of these and the rich, Italian brocades much favoured by Kӧln's wealthy burghers for use as heavy drapes to insulate their windows against the cold, winter draughts of the north.
Joachim had been on buying trips before but always as an assistant to his father and this was the first time he'd sent to Italy on his own. Proudly he'd seen this as his father's recognition of his adulthood and he'd been overjoyed at the trust placed in him. He'd been determined to make his father proud of him. His trip had been most successful; he'd chosen his materials well and he had bargained aggressively with the hard-headed Italian manufacturers and negotiated a fair price. Later, chained to our oar and in one of the rare moments we get to speak with one another, he'll tell me of his pride in this achievement.
Once he'd finished with his buying, all that remained for Joachim to do was to load his merchandise onto a waiting Dutch vessel and to join it for the return voyage to the Low Countries. Once there it would be a simple matter to load his precious cargo onto one of his father's barges and travel down the Rhine to Kӧln. Sometimes, Joachim tearfully speaks of his joyful anticipation of his homecoming and of his father's pleasure at his son's success. It was a homecoming that never eventuated and he is never to see his either his father or his home again.
Travelling down the Adriatic, the Dutch merchantman had been seized by the same Corsairs, who would within days capture my ship. Its passengers and crew were enslaved and its rich cargo added to the pirates' booty. Both Joachim and his merchandise are to be sold in Tripoli.
Now he stands by my side as we wait to be processed into our slavery.
Our captors waste little time in processing us. Once the slaves have filled the tubs with water, we are driven over to them where each pair is handed a scrubbing brush and a cake of strong smelling soap. Gesticulating wildly with their hands and shouting at us in their incomprehensible tongue we soon understand that we are to work in pairs. The overseers indicate to us that we are to clean our partners rather than ourselves. They busy themselves moving from one pair to another ensuring we carry out their instructions. Given that all of us are covered in a filthy slime, we enthusiastically set to work. Oh, how good the cleansing water feels!
The brushes are harsh and the soap stings our lacerated backs but we don't care. This discomfort is nothing compared to the luxury of splashing the cold water over our naked bodies. I'm not sure of how long I'd spent in the hold of the galley; I only know it had been too long. All of us stink from the filth of that appalling place and added to that is the filth that had been pelted at us as we were driven through the streets from the wharf to our prison.
Always under their scrutiny, the overseers make no allowance for our natural modesty or for our abhorrence at touching another man's naked body.
We didn't know then that our natural repugnance at touching another man so intimately would be sorely tested in the market-place. Inevitably, the most comely of our group will attract the lascivious attention of those masters who take their pleasure with young, male slaves. Some of us are destined to become garzons; the sexual playthings of these depraved owners. Among our group are a number of comely youths who had either served as cabin boys on their ships or were passengers. Their fates are already sealed. Within days they will find themselves confined within a claustrophobic, male harem.
A garzon's life is comparatively easy when compared to the miserable existences of the galley slaves or to the horrors confronting the unhappy wretches forced to labour in the furnace-like heat of a stone quarry.
However, their fates are tenuous at best. For as long as they retain their youthful beauty and allure - and they continue hold their masters' attention - they'll be well-treated. They'll be well fed, kept clean and generally treated with some kindness. It's not uncommon for an indulgent master to spoil and pamper his "boys" and to reward them with little titbits and sweets if they "please" him.
The reverse is also true; disappointing a master often results in a severe caning on the soles of the feet with the bastinado or, worse still, consignment to the slave market. Therefore the pressure on a garzon to perform well is immense and his existence becomes one of using all his guiles and skills to keep his master interested in him.
Male harems are hotbeds of intrigue. There is intense rivalry between the garzons as they compete for their master's attention and affection. Usually the harem is dominated by the master's current favourite slave. He is usually supported by a group of sycophants all hoping their association with him will draw the master's attention to themselves. Hopefully, they wait for a few crumbs to be brushed from the Master's table.
However, the life of the current favourite is always fraught with anxiety. He is aware that he'll remain as the favourite for as long as he meets the sexual demands of his master. The pressure on him to remain pleasing and innovative is enormous and he must always remain inventive; he is forever thinking of new ways to please his master and retain his interest.
And he's all too aware that he has jealous rivals who form themselves into small groups and huddle together scheming to replace him in their master's affections. The current favourite worries constantly about his position but he also knows he'll eventually fall out of favour and that one day he'll be replaced by one of these plotters. Therefore he does everything within his power to delay the inevitable.
This rivalry creates a simmering tension among the rival garzons which occasionally reaches flashpoint and erupts into bitter fighting between them. However, these fights are quickly suppressed by the eunuchs who guard the harems and ensure the garzons remain chaste for their masters.
Reporting of these incidents to the master is mandatory and he deals with them in one of two ways.
Depending on the depths of his displeasure the offending garzons are either caned or even worse - whipped. If as a result of his whipping a garzon is damaged then he is dispatched to the slave-yards and sold as a work slave.
Masters are well aware of the bad feeling existing between their rival garzons and sometimes a jaded master will use this rivalry to entertain himself. He'll have the competing garzons bodies liberally coated with palm oil from head to toe and he'll watch as they wrestle until one submits to the other.
Reclining amid the thick, rich cushions of his divan and entertained by lesser garzons, he'll watch as they wrestle to the finish.
The master of course is delighted to have his slaves fight for his affections. It both flatters and amuses him to watch as the rival garzons wrestle with one another while cheered on by their erstwhile supporters. He watches indulgently as the two garzons do battle; from a master's perspective what can be more erotically arousing than having two handsome, male slaves jostling naked for the right to please him. The inevitable outcome of these bouts sees the master "rewarding" the winner by allowing him to fuck his vanquished rival. These contests truly end in the "winner takes all".
As yet I'm unaware of this aspect of the slavery that awaits us and in my youthful naivety I have never heard mention of the word "garzon" let alone know what it entails. However, some of my older, fellow sailors have heard of the existence of garzons within this benighted society and they now look knowingly and sympathetically at their younger fellow slaves. For my part, I remain blissfully ignorant.
I stand poised with the brush in my hand trying to overcome my reluctance at touching Joachim's nakedness. My reluctance is noted by an African overseer who viciously swipes his cane across my arse. I don't understand his words but their intent is painfully obvious and I begin to wash my fellow slave with renewed enthusiasm. The overseer lingers long enough to ensure that I am carrying out his instructions. Finally satisfied, he turns his attention to another pair of bashful slaves who now feel the full fury of his cane.
I overcome my scruples and set about cleaning Joachim with a willingness born out of fear of the cane. As I wet his body and prepare to soap him, I keep one eye on the African overseers.
I have never seen Africans before and the hugeness of their bodies is intimidating; they truly are giants as frightening as any that had inhabited the fairy-tales of my boyhood or had been used by unthinking adults to frighten me into childish obedience. Despite the bulk of their bodies, they move quickly with an easy grace and their superb musculatures ripple and flex beneath the sheen of their ebony skins.
Over the coming days, I'll discover they occupy positions of trust which our Arab masters deny to their white slaves. It would appear that our new masters have some sort of an affinity with the Africans and hold them in high regard. I'm to learn that our masters use the Africans to both control and subdue their despised, white, Nasrani slaves.
As I use the brush and soap on Joachim, I try to take care not to inflict any additional pain to his lacerated back. But the filth coating his body is so encrusted onto him that it is hard to move and, when I see an angry overseer moving in our direction, I begin to scrub more vigorously. I wait with bated breath and steel myself for the agonising bite of his cane.
Fortunately, this time, I'm not the focus of his displeasure and he walks past to another couple further down the line. The cries of his hapless victims drown out the cruel swish of his cane and the loud "thwack" as it bites into their naked flesh.
While I wash the body of my fellow slave, I am in deep conflict. I had been raised by my devout parents as a God-fearing man and I am well aware of the sins of the flesh. As a youth, I'd heard people speak of the abomination of buggery and the sin of sodomy so often that I live in perpetual fear of their temptations. I know these are crimes against both Church and State and the penalties for such abhorrent acts are too awful for me to ever contemplate. But, as I work on Joachim's naked body my mind is troubled by impure thoughts and my inner being is in turmoil.
Our eyes meet and I see mirrored in Joachim's eye the same look of consternation and revulsion that I feel. Together, we share our shameful humiliation.
After joining my ship as a seaman, I quickly became aware that my fellow sailors aren't troubled by such feelings of guilt and they have no qualms in taking their pleasures with one another. That they do so without fear of retribution shocks me and leaves me bewildered.
As a newcomer to the crew, I'd attracted the interest of the older sailors. Subsequently, I would learn that I was considered fair game by them as they actively competed with one another for my favours. It goes without saying that I rebuffed all such advances.
That I had aroused their interest isn't all that surprising. Modesty prevents me from describing myself as handsome – although others have done so – and my body is pleasing to the eye. I had worked hard on my father's farm from early boyhood and this had strengthened and developed it into what I am today. I stand at just less than six feet - considered tall by today's standards - and hard labour had toughened my body and honed my musculature. Indeed it was my imposing appearance that had deterred the amorous advances of my fellow crew mates.
Yet I was troubled. As I tried to sleep in my hammock in the darkness of the fo’c’stle, I couldn't close my ears to the carnal sounds all around me. As I listened to the pleasurable grunts and groans of my fellow sailors, I was envious of them. How I wished I could indulge my own manifest sexual urges so easily. Always I was inhibited by the thought that such acts are wrong and I must resist their temptations.
Instead, alone in the darkness, I silently and guiltily masturbated.
Later as I toil at my oar, my guilt will disappear and I'll overcome my reluctance to touch another man's body. I will lose my inhibitions and learn to snatch a few brief moments of pleasure with Joachim whenever possible. He will become my soul mate and my friend. We'll become as brothers in adversity and we'll take comfort in each other's bodies. Our chains will limit our sexual activities but even that restriction won't rob us of the only bright spot in our miserable existences. A galley slave has no pleasure to look forward to other than that given to him by his oar mate.
As I strain at the oar and feel the bite of the overseers' whips, I'll come to question what has befallen me. Two thoughts will dominate my waking hours. What terrible deeds had I done to condemn me to the living hell of the galleys?
The second is far more pleasant and relates to my deep and newfound affection for my fellow slave. I'll marvel at how the love I now feel for Joachim feels so right within me. Over the ensuing years, I'll draw great comfort from our mutual love.
But again, all that is ahead of me. For now I must concentrate on my cleaning fellow slave.
I am mortified. As I continue to scrub the accumulated filth from Joachim's body, I feel the first unwanted stirrings in my loins. My cock is betraying me as begins its slow but steady march into ramrod hardness. Desperately, I will it to stop but it ignores me and soon it juts out at right angles to my belly. My foreskin has retracted back along the hard shaft of my erection; my rosy-pink glans is now fully exposed to public gaze and my dribbling pre-cum hangs as a thin, silver thread from my piss-slit. The deep crimson blush of my embarrassment suffuses my naked body with a red-hot heat and somewhere in the midst of my humiliation I hear the crude laughter of my captors. Are they laughing at my shame?
Then as I look down at Joachim, I notice that he too is as aroused as I am. We aren't alone; for as I glance furtively at my fellow slaves I see that we all share the same shameful predicament. For their parts, our Arab captors and their African overseers laugh raucously at us and point obscenely at our erections.
Now I feel the utter shame and embarrassment that all slaves suffer in their enforced nudity.
Our captors grow impatient with us and use their canes to hurry us along. Hastily, I finish cleaning Joachim and now free of its accumulated filth, his body gleams white in the strong sunlight of the courtyard. I'd not noticed Joachim in the galley's hold on our way to this accursed place. Our captors had placed us at opposite ends of the hold and therefore we'd not seen each other until today.
I catch my breath as, for the first time, I see Joachim in all his naked glory. I marvel at his youthful beauty. The sight of him unsettles me and I am alarmed at my lustful thoughts.
We are very similar in build and height. Joachim – as you would expect – is Germanic in appearance and he has golden, blond curls and brown eyes. I differ from him in that my eyes are blue –as a small boy, my grandmother had described them as cornflower blue – and my own dirty-blond coloured hair is much darker and more unruly.
He is broad shouldered and his torso tapers down to a narrow waist while two large, red nipples adorn the hard pectoral muscles of his chest. A deeply indented navel lies at the centre of his flat stomach and his aroused cock points upwards at a cheeky angle of forty-five degrees from out of a luxuriant bush of thick, blond hair.
Like me he has long, muscular arms and legs and subsequently we are to find these - and a strong back - are the first things galley-masters look for when choosing slaves to man their oars.
Both Joachim and I have body hair. Our limbs are covered in a golden down and our chests have similar light coverings of coarser hair of the same colour as that on our heads. A slightly darker line of hair trails down the centreline of our bellies to our pubes
Viewed from behind, Joachim is as equally impressive. The sweep of his back from the broad muscular shoulders down to the trim, narrow waist hints at its power. As yet his back bears only the superficial marks of the whip. Wishing to present us to the buyers in the best possible light, our masters have held back in the heavy use of their whips and have applied just enough force to coerce us into obedience with their commands. But this will change and all too soon his magnificent back will wear the criss-cross pattern of bloody welts and
cicatrices common to all galley slaves.
The thick muscular columns of his thighs support the flaring curves of his well- rounded, firm buttocks. As I'd washed him, I overcame my distaste at touching so private a part of his body and worryingly, I had found it to be most pleasurable.
I'd never touched another person so intimately before and to do so was a new experience and one which aroused within me a long suppressed lust. I trembled as my soapy hands slid almost lovingly over the twin orbs of his arse and into the deep cleft dividing them. I would have lingered there but when I saw an African overseer looking in my direction, I hastily bent down to scrub his legs. And from my crouching position his arse was but a few inches from my face and my cock ached for release.
Later, in the slave-market, I will watch and listen as the auctioneer draws attention to Joachim's arse, extolling its features as a "true galley slave's arse, padded with thick muscle and well-suited to the rigours of the rowing bench".
We switch places and now it is Joachim who cleans me. As he wets and soaps my body ready for the scrubbing brush, I luxuriate in the cooling balm of the water and in the attention he is giving me. As he works quickly to clean my body, I wonder - is he having similar thoughts to the ones I'd entertained as I washed him?
Later, as we share our oar, he'll tell me he did.
I can't describe that incredible feeling of once more being clean. As the water and the soap wash away the accumulated filth from my body, I almost feel like a new man. But then I remember – I'm no longer a man. I am now a slave.
My body dries quickly in the fierce afternoon sun and now our handlers herd us into a single line running down the centre of the yard. Here, we stand shoulder to shoulder and they indicate to us that we should fall to our knees. Their angry shouts and impatient use of their canes encourage us to do so quickly. Now we kneel and wait like frightened, quivering animals and worry about what is to happen next.
With a speed and expertise obviously gained from long experience, our African overseers move down our line as one after the other we are shorn of our hair. When it is my turn, my head is roughly thrust forwards and downwards and I yelp as my long hair is pulled cruelly away from my scalp and hacked off with a razor sharp instrument. The African charged with shearing me moves quickly and dexterously and I shed tears of shame as I see my long hair fall to the ground before me. It would seem there's to be no end to the humiliations heaped upon us.
My head feels strangely naked and as the African finishes with me and turns his attention to Joachim, I steal a sideways glance back along the line of my fellow slaves. Their hair is gone and the skin of their closely cropped scalps shows white through the remnant stubble. How different they all look and I suppose I must look the same to them. I will quickly become used to my new slave crop; it is one of the distinguishing features of a slave and it now defines me as such.
Following along behind our barbers there are other overseers who quickly fasten heavy, iron collars around our necks. Shocked and in a state of denial, I wait as I am fitted with mine and I tremble violently as it snaps shut around my neck. The snapping sound of the collar closing around my throat reminds me more than anything else that I'm now a slave; an owned chattel to be used and abused by my owner. The collar weighs heavily upon me and it feels uncomfortable around my throat and I wonder if I'll ever adjust to it.
But over the next few days I will become accustomed to both the weight and feel of my new slave collar. It, like the ankle chains and wrist manacles now being fitted to me are to be the permanent accoutrements of my slavery.
Finally, scrubbed clean, shorn of our hair, collared and placed in heavy iron shackles, we are ready for the final part of our preparations. Still working in our pairs, we are made to stand and massage palm oil into each other's body. Despite my trauma, I have to admit that the oil does change our appearances. Somehow, we look sleeker and healthier.
Exposed to the softer glare of the late afternoon sun, our naked bodies glisten as we move about - albeit restricted by our leg irons - and our muscles ripple and flex under the high gloss of our skins. Looking at my fellow slaves I can see why our masters cover our bodies with this oil - it's all about market presentation. It enhances our appearances and will, no doubt, make us that much more attractive to the buyers in the market-place.
We stand and watch, as the white slaves, still working under the direction of the Africans, carry large, iron pots of food into the yard. Since my capture, I've existed on minimal rations of weevilly biscuits and the occasional handful of dates. Consequently, my stomach is unprepared for the feast that now awaits us. My sense of smell detects the delicious aroma of cooked meat and spices and my belly churns in anticipation.
Soon we are each issued with a wooden bowl brimming with a steaming hot stew containing meat and strange vegetables that I don't recognise. Indeed they are very different to the turnips and other root vegetables that I am accustomed to eating.
Ravenously, I and my fellow slaves gulp down our unexpected repast and to our delight our bowls are refilled. My belly rumbles its gratitude. Soon we have eaten our fill but our feast isn't yet finished. We are now given fresh fruit to eat and for the first time in my life I taste the sugary sweetness of figs and melons and the zesty tang of an orange. And we are given fresh, sweet-tasting water and allowed to drink until we are satisfied.
All this is unexpected and now with a full belly, my life seems just that much brighter. In the coming weeks, I am to learn that this isn't the everyday fare of a galley slave. However, it will continue for as long as we are held in the bagnio. The food we have just been given is all part of our captors efforts to "fatten" us up for the auction-block. A sleek, well-nourished slave presents so much better than a miserable, scrawny one.
Whatever foods we are given to eat after we are sold is entirely at the whim of our new owners.
As we finish eating, the sun sinks into the west and the lengthening shadows of evening fall across the yard. All that remains to be done to us now is to secure us in the holding pens where we must wait for whatever new indignities our captors care to inflict upon us.
As I stand and peer out through the bars of my prison, it is hard for me to envisage what could be worse than today. But I am to be proved wrong.
However, for now I have been lulled into a false sense of well-being. With my body once more clean and my belly filled to capacity, I just want to rest. Wearily, I lie alongside Joachim on the clean straw bedding of our pen and fall into a deep sleep.
It is well that I sleep soundly tonight; for tomorrow, I will confront the ultimate horror.
To be continued.......................