John Dungan, the third son of Archibald, the Baron de Blaguere, of Ardkill, Londonderry, was a man of few words but of precipitous action. When the Irish potato famine started destroying the lives and working ability of the families producing the Irish whiskey at his family’s distillery in Londonderry--and particularly in challenging his endurance at watching families that had worked for his for generations starve--John took action.
John started by pleading to his father, the baron, who was an admiral in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, and to his two older brothers, one just recently having arrived in India with the Queen’s 70th Surrey Regiment and the other a Catholic prelate in Boston in England’s former American colony of Massachusetts. All entreaties that John made to his family to bring help in to aid the starving employees and families that had made the family rich had produced little more than offers of prayer from Boston.
John was smart enough to know that, as religiously faithful as the people of Londonderry were, prayers from far-off Boston weren’t going to save them if their own prayers didn’t. You can’t eat prayers, the practical side of him screamed out to him. You also can’t eat money. John’s family had plenty of it. But if he couldn’t get it translated into something his workers could eat--and so widespread was the famine that all efforts he made in this direction were to no avail--then “wealth” was useless. It was useless to try to wrest it from the grip of his father and brothers anyway.
His father’s response was that he was sure John had the intelligence and resourcefulness to work the problem out on his own. This was not exactly carte blanche from the head of the family, but who knew, John thought, where the edge of using his resourcefulness was.
When the situation with the potato blight seemed like it could not get any worse and be survived, John’s intelligence and resourcefulness kicked in. He took action--on his own without further consultation with his father or brothers. His studied assessment was that you couldn’t find a meal where no food was to be had at any price. He made an offer to any of the families of the distillery workers who would take him up on the venture. He would pay their passage to America upon two-week’s notice if they were to agree to work with him for ten years beyond that in reestablishing the family liquor business in America.
Few were willing to leave Ireland, the hardships they had always known making them feel safer than the unknown, but enough did for John to believe he could start anew in Boston. And although he could suffer regret for those who didn’t go, he would not suffer guilt, as he had given them a choice. He did not pull their jobs from underneath them; he left the Londonderry distillery in the hands of a capable and faithful master distiller who had, regretfully, said he was too old to go and that his wife was too sick to survive the voyage.
The ship, the Washington, sailed from Dublin to New York City in the fall of 1849, and by Christmas of that year, John Duggan had established his Irish whiskey distillery in Boston. It was a year of a great migration from Ireland to the United States, with more Irishmen going to Boston than anywhere else. And Irishmen were pleased to have access to the same Irish whiskey they enjoyed in Londonderry.
John Dungan’s business thrived, and he soon was being invited within the hallowed circle of Boston society. That he could bring the liquor to events definitely worked in his favor.
Irish and construction went hand in glove in Boston, and it wasn’t long before John met up with and began to socialize with the Geer family, which was prominent in the region’s construction industry. Samuel Geer, the patriarch of that family, took a particular interest in the solidly built, sandy-haired young man who was so strikingly gifted with ruggedly handsome looks and so recently arrived from Londonderry, where Geer’s sources had ferreted out the Dungan family’s barony. No one in America, of course, had any idea that the third son of an Irish baron had little inherent worth--beyond his own intelligence and resourcefulness.
John only figured out Samuel’s especial interest when Samuel’s sister, a widow named Mary on indefinite visit to the core family in Boston, constantly showed up to the events he was invited to and usually was seated next to him.
Mary was a comely, plump woman, if a bit long in the tooth. And she was an engaging conversationalist. The only aspect to her that took John a bit aback, perhaps, was that she sometimes could be surprisingly earthy in a conversation. She also was a bit forward. But that part John didn’t mind so much--especially when opportunities arose for the two to be quite alone and Mary became amorous. In the dark, Mary’s treasures were no worse than any other lasses, and her long-in-the-tooth disadvantages quickly were turned into talented courtesan delights.
John might be a devout Catholic, but he wasn’t married--and didn’t intend to be anytime soon--and Mary was a willing widow. And he was not a eunuch.
He didn’t even think of marriage--no matter how much Mary and her brother lauded the glories of it--until the day his brother, the prelate, the second son of the Baron de Blaguere, invited him to dinner.
John should have known something was wrong. The priest didn’t often invite him to dinner--and certainly didn’t entertain him as lavishly as he was doing on this evening. And the prelate most certainly didn’t attend upon him as closely as he had done through the meal. Ever since John had arrived in Boston--and started attending the masses conducted by his brother in the huge cathedral he had at his command--his brother had required a new introduction nearly every time they came together and even then peered at John as if he just might be some distant relation from across the pond, but possibly not, as there were so many Dungans in Londonderry.
“I do be having a letter from Father,” the priest delicately set forth over coffee and cigars.
“Ah, do ya now?” John responded, not yet on guard. “And what be he up to now, can ya say? Well, is he? Still on the sea?”
“The letter be for ya, John.”
And it was. The letter thanked John for his resourcefulness in moving the distillery to America and, he understood, already turning a good profit with it. There were only a few jabs about walking off with part of the family fortune without permission. But the bottom line was that the baron’s first son was now leaving his army post in India and had a hankering for moving to the States rather than back to still-starving Ireland.
And he would be taking over the reins of the family distillery in Boston now.
John Dungan and Mary Geer Fischer were married in the Catholic cathedral in Boston in the fall of 1850. Mary had been visibly displeased at the requirement to become Catholic herself, a consideration that harkened her back to her English ancestors’ public aversion to the Catholic Church. Charles I, who had given the land grants for her native town in Massachusetts, was educated as a Scottish Presbyterian and became a devout high Anglican. Those who had received his favor by way of land grants had fallen into step with him on that. The first permanent building erected in the land grant town the Geers had settled in had been an Anglican church. However, when John’s brother pointed out that John could only marry a Catholic and that was that, Mary quickly came around. Mary had always been quite good at hiding her true feelings and activities if there was an advantage to it. And having been bedded already by the young, handsome, highly sensual, and virile John Dungan, the widow Mary definitely saw the advantages to the marriage. Mary and her brother had worked too hard for this prize to let it slither off of the hook.
John Dungan had no heart to stay in Boston where the company he had built with his own labor and sweat--but, unfortunately, with his father’s money--had been snatched from his hands. And, mission accomplished, Mary was anxious to get home to her own town, Shernhaven, a harbor town fourteen miles to the south of Boston, and her brother, Silas, also mission accomplished, was equally anxious for her visit to come to a close.
Mary assured John that there would be plenty he could do in Shernhaven. He could even open a distillery if he wanted to. Although making whiskey had been his life, John no longer had an appetite for that business. The techniques and processes and formulas he knew all belonged to the house of Blaguere, and John knew that if he started another distillery, it only would be taken back by his father and older brother.
He initially was happy with Shernhaven. It was a delightful small town, with a perfect harbor and a thriving shipyard and fishing business at its foundation. The views from the Geer mansion, one of three on the heights of the Upper Head bluff overlooking the town and harbor, were delightful. John enjoyed no view better than one of business prosperity.
After a few months of being an instant member of a town founding family, however, John began to see a not-so-fine underbelly of the quaint, sparkling town. He couldn’t really place his finger on it, but there was a tension here and hostile or knowing looks, and, when he paid attention, it seemed that everyone walking on the streets of town automatically was placing everyone he or she passed in the pecking order of things--and also assigning connections of seemly or unseemly habits. Perhaps it was just the small town atmosphere of it--a place where the same number of families had interacted since the time of inception. But, no, that didn’t explain it either. He had come from just such a town--Londonderry--himself.
But, maybe, he thought, it was just that his own family had been so “above it” and isolated in Londonderry that it went on there too and he just hadn’t caught onto it while he was there. It certainly wasn’t like Boston, where virtually everyone was new--except for the Boston elite, which acted like it wasn’t from Boston at all.
Then came the day, however, at a party at one of the other houses on the Upper Head, the Shern house, when John began to understand the nature of the underlying tension in the town--and started his journey of revulsion and rejection.
The party was a major campaign contributors sort of affair, where an election chest was being formed for the reelection of the area’s delegate to the Massachusetts’s assembly. This delegate was none other than Adney Shern, himself, the most prominent citizen of the town and the owner of the Shern Shipyard.
John had gone out on the terrace overlooking the town and was allowing himself to be mesmerized by the revolving light in the Lower Head lighthouse, when Adney Shern himself came out onto the terrace. They conversed for a short time before Shern, all self-assurance, began moving into a conversation that made John quite uncomfortable.
“Mary is a lucky woman, John,” Adney said. “You are quite a handsome and alluring man. I’m sure, as the son of a baron and with your looks and build, you must have cut quite a swath in Ireland with . . .”
“I donna kin as that . . .” John stammered out, realizing that Adney had been nudging ever closer to him at the rail running at the edge of the cliff.
“ . . . the lasses . . . and perhaps with the lads too. I can see how you might have had your pick.”
Seeing that John was discomforted, Adney pulled back on the innuendo. But, being used to getting whatever he wanted, he returned to it after a brief discussion of town politics. When he asked John what his favorite sex toys were and if he was aroused by any particular discipline toys, John retreated as best he could into the house, where all of the other guests were gathered, some John now didn’t doubt, knowing full well what had been offered out on the terrace. It was with great horror that it was beginning to dawn on him that there was much more burbling under the surface with the town leaders than his straightforward, simple assessments had discerned.
From this point forward, John couldn’t think of Shernhaven without thinking of this underbelly that disgusted him.
And as well as being a straight-laced, devout man, John was also a man who wanted purpose and action in his life. There was only so much thrill a young man can get out of watching the town and harbor bustle from above in the day, following the rotation of the lighthouse at the end of the spit of the Lower Head in the twilight, and plowing your grasping old wife at night. John soon wanted to be productive once more--something that he doubted he’d ever be with Mary at her age--although she was to surprise him in ensuing years with popping out two sons of his own--or at least he hoped they were his own.
“What is it you want to do, John?” Mary asked when he brought the subject up one night. “We could use a distillery, but you’ve already said you can’t do that. But the Geers have other businesses here. You could take over the management of any of those. The coach service to Boston and Braintree, for instance. Or our local branch of the construction trade. I wouldn’t wish to give over my own dalliance with the jewelry store, of course. There’s the fishing concern, but that was a favorite of my first husband’s, and my sons with him would not be pleased to lose control over that--or to welcome in another opinion on how they should operate the business. And there’s the Landho, of course.”
“I dinna know, Mary. It must be something, ya know. What is this Landho ya talk of now?”
“Why, haven’t I spoken of it before? It’s the tavern down at the corner of Hobart and Coles. I don’t have much to do with it other than receive an accounting of the revenues, which are considerable. I have the Semple family managing it--you know that family of freed slaves with the powerfully built and handsome young men who do much of the work around the town.”
“A tavern, ya say? Where they do serve liquor?”
“Yes, yes, of course. And that’s something you know well about, isn’t it? Dealing with liquor. You wouldn’t have to make it. You could reestablish your business interests by selling it.”
“Who might I talk to about this tavern business now?”
“Well, there’s Silas Cole at the Cole banking house on Shern Park. He handles the finances on all of the Geer businesses in town. I could write up a letter for him assigning all decisions on the tavern to you. And then at the tavern, it would probably be Henry Semple. I think he’s the Semple brother who is managing that from day to day.”
“Perhaps that would be a good start. Ya will write the letter?”
“Yes, yes, certainly. But first, I am in a mood. Perhaps we can go upstairs.”
Mary was always in the mood. But sometimes in order to make sure John was in the mood, she made little hints like this that certain favors led to other favors. In this instance, the calendar indicated that this favor led to their first son.
* * * *
Silas Cole wasn’t at the bank when John Dungan rode his horse down the Upper Head road to where it connected with Wharf Street and then turned right on Braintree to Shern Park. He was told that Cole was at the Landho tavern. This was fine with John. He could see Cole and the tavern’s proprietor, Henry Semple, at the same time.
This is what he did--but not quite the way he’d imagined he’d be seeing them.
One of the first things he saw when he entered the tavern, which was surprising because there were so many such disturbing sights to look at that were a shock to him, was his stepson, Garen Fischer. Garen should have been out in one of his fishing boats--and perhaps he had been earlier in the day. But now he was in the tavern and sitting at the bar.
His head snapped around as if someone had said something to him when John appeared at the door. The first expression John saw on his stepson’s face was one of fear and consternation, but then his eyes narrowed and he gave a little smile.
John saw that there was a big bruiser of a man sitting next to and quite close to Garen at the bar with a hand on Garen’s shoulder. John didn’t know what to make of that, but something down deep inside him was disturbed and was screaming at him that he didn’t like what he saw. He didn’t have long to look at Garen, though, who was of age and could be drinking in a bar if he wanted to be. There was so much else going on around the bar room to disturb John. Scantily clad women. Scantily clad men, for that matter. Loose-morals-looking men and women. And a lot of glassy-eyed men, some of whom were sitting a lot closer to each other than John found comfortable. And some of them with hands not where John would think they belonged. Entirely too much electricity in the air for John.
He strode over to the bar and spoke in a demanding voice to the bar keep, a jet-black young man, who might be a Semple, but who looked to be too young to be the Semple John was looking for. “I be John Dungan, owner of the tavern. I come to talk to the manager, Henry Semple. Ya not be him, by any chance? And Silas Cole. I be told he be here as well.”
“Upstairs; last door on the right,” the young black man answered, looking at the glass he was polishing, not particularly impressed with John’s declaration of authority.
“Which man?” John asked.
“Both,” came back the answer.
John shot a look in Garen’s direction but then looked away quickly. Garen was being embraced by the bigger man and his chin was being cupped in the man’s hand and turned away from John.
I’ll tend to that later, John thought, as he started up the stairs to the rooms above. But even then he didn’t know in what way he would tend to that. It certainly wasn’t something he felt he could mention to Mary. And the young man was her son, not his.
Garen turned his head, pulling out of the grasp of the other man, if only temporarily, and saw his stepfather climbing the stairs. He gave a little smile. He would have never known, he thought. Perhaps . . .
The door to the last room on the right down the hall on the second floor wasn’t fully shut, so John didn’t knock. Later he wished that he had done so.
He had found Silas Cole and Henry Semple. They were stretched out on a single bed in a room that was bare save for the bed, a straight chair, and a small bureau with a basin with pitcher and a small stack of towels on top of it. The single window looked out at the back of the building behind the tavern, toward Wharf Street. A dismal view of a fetid alley was all it provided. But, then, John didn’t suppose anyone came into this room for the view out of the window.
Both men were naked. Henry, a gigantic, heavily muscled black stud, was stretched behind Silas, cupping Silas’s back into his stomach. He had an arm under Silas’s belly, with a hand on Cole’s hard cock, and he was lifting Silas’s leg with his other hand.
Even from where John stood at the door, he could see that a good portion of an immense cock was inside Cole’s ass--and both Cole’s hips and Semple’s pelvis were moving in a rhythm that John’s appearance at the door didn’t interrupt a stroke.
Cole’s eyes were hooded in lust and satisfaction.
“I have Henry till four,” he said. “Come back then, John, if you want a taste of what I’m enjoying.”
Silas knew who John Dungan was. And he hadn’t shown a bit of surprise or concern that John was there at the door. This perhaps shocked John the most at that point, a shock that surmounted what already had been a highly shocking ten minutes. He turned without a word and descended the stairs. He would take care of this later. There was a lot to take care of--later after he’d regained control of his composure.
His shock increased as he reached the bottom of the stairs. The room was still in a boisterous, lustful swirl, but John had no trouble picking his stepson out. Garen and the ominous man he was with--a rough boat builder John remembered seeing carrying heavy loads in the shipyard--had moved to a table near a corner. Garen was facing John, but he wasn’t seeing him. His head was bent back to the face of the other man by the man’s hand on Garen’s throat. Garen was sitting on the man’s lap, facing away from him. They were kissing. Garen was not wearing trousers now. His legs were bare. From the movement John could see of the two men’s bodies, there was no doubt what was inside Garen’s ass and what it was doing there.
Unable to speak, John turned and walked out of the tavern.
But John wasn’t only a man of high morals; he also was a man of determination. Within three weeks, he was spending nearly his full time at the tavern, which already had been renamed Dungan’s. The Semples had been dismissed, as had been all of the loose-looking women and men he’d seen there on his first visit. While he was looking for trustful and competent barmen, he was tending the bar himself.
He actually was enjoying getting back in touch with the world of liquor and had already arranged a cut-rate price with his own family’s distillery, which brought an Irish liquor to Shernhaven that the hedonist town he was slowly becoming fully aware of lapped up like milk. Business had slacked off by the redirection of it, but it was still good--all because of the popularity of the Blaguere brand of whiskey.
With Mary’s permission, he engaged the local Geer construction company to completely redo the tavern, which was a hodge-podge of ancient, shoddy construction and haphazard add-ons. The main structure was two stories, but it had expanded to the side lot, where there were two other stories composed of a warren of small rooms, the function of which had been made shockingly and quickly apparent to John on his first visit to the tavern.
He had the side building torn down, and he sold the lot at a profit, which helped keep Mary quiet against the many private complaints she received about the changes at the tavern. Being the good businesswoman she was, she merely provided another building on the other side of Shern Park, on Semple street--fittingly enough--for the Semples to set up another enterprise, to Mary’s profit, privately reported by Silas Cole, to replace the Landho tavern. She permitted this one to be named Henry’s, as Henry Semple was the best advertisement for what could be found there.
John had the upstairs of the newly renovated tavern building turned into an apartment for himself for the many nights he would have to stay there because of his duties at the tavern. He didn’t begrudge being away from home frequently at night--in fact, it somewhat relieved him. Of course to satisfy Mary to this new arrangement, he had to be extra dutiful when he slept at the Geer mansion on the Upper Head. As Mary gave birth twice subsequently, to healthy male babies, the arrangement obviously satisfied her enough too.
The one loose end John left--and shouldn’t have--was what he had intended to do about his stepson, Garen Fischer. It was a very delicate matter, because Mary doted on her children from her first husband, and John knew he had to walk softly in the world of an established family he had entered. Garen was of age. There was little John could do about the behavior he had seen no matter how disgusted it made him. The problem was so sticky, though, and so unsure was John on how to approach it with Garen--and so busy did he become with reestablishing the tavern as a respectable business--that he eventually let the matter slip his mind.
This was probably a mistake--at least in not having corrected the impression Garen Fischer had gotten by seeing his stepfather enter the tavern and then go upstairs--and, to Garen’s knowledge, since he was otherwise occupied, not seeing John quickly come back down the stairs. Garen knew what happened up those stairs. And even though John Dungan was making sweeping changes at the tavern, Garen had no knowledge that John didn’t know of the opening of Henry’s as a Geer business, and he had no reason to think that John’s personal interests were different from what Garen had surmised. In looking in John’s glazed eyes that afternoon, Garen had seen what he interpreted as interest rather than shock.
Thus, on one dark night, when John had had such a heavy work day that he could barely climb the stairs to his rooms above the tavern, not to mention the bluff to the Geer mansion on Upper Head, John stripped, doused himself with water from the pitcher on the bureau, toweled himself off, and stretched out on the bed to sleep the sleep of the dead.
So exhausted and deep in sleep was he that the weight of another body coming down on his bed didn’t awaken him. Neither did the gliding of a hand over his body or lips on his chest and on his belly and covering his engorging cock. John dreamt of Mary, who, when encountered in the darkness of night was an experienced and inventive lover.
It was long after his cock had been encased by the welcoming, moist warmth of a tight channel and he had encircled his lover with his arms and set his pelvis in motion to meet the rhythm of the hips plastered to him--in fact, at the moment of ejaculation--when he woke up to find . . . that he had fucked his stepson.