Note: The prayer at the end of this chapter is directly
from the movie.
Boating Down the Ulanga
The channel we were following had narrowed until it was
hardly much wider than the African Queen. The air was hot and close, and so
humid it felt as if we were breathing through a blanket soaked in water.
We freed the poles we were using from the muck, and walked
to the bow of the boat. My lover paused to wipe his face with a dingy
handkerchief. He tossed a tired smile my way. “Well, little Rev, we’ve come
by steam, we’ve paddled and pushed and pulled this old boat along by hook.”
I grinned back at him. “The only thing we haven’t done
is carry her!”
Charlie gave a spurt of laughter. “That’ll come next,
Roddy! Jesus God, it’s getting bad, little Rev.” He sobered and reached for
a cigarette. “I can’t tell the water from the land anymore!”
“We’ve always followed the current…” I poured a cup
of tea and brought it to him. “I’ll just go over the side and see what the
lay of the river is like up ahead.”
“Roddy. We don’t know what’s in these waters. Be
I put my arms around him and kissed his cheek, leaning into
him and fighting to keep the words locked in my heart. I loved him so much, but
I didn’t dare tell him. Instead, I gave him another cocky grin and reached for
the machete. Maybe I could slice some kind of path that would make it a little
easier for him.
Feeling much like Ariadne, I took a ball of twine with me
so I wouldn’t lose my way. Scarcely a dozen feet from the boat, and she was
indiscernible in the overgrowth that was enveloping us.
The river bottom sucked at my feet, threatening to yank off
the shoes I wore, which fortunately hadn’t disappeared over the side of the
Queen along with the rest of my clothing. Otherwise I might have been tempted to
think my lover wanted to keep me barefoot and naked.
I turned back, making sure there was a path for us to
follow. Charlie gave me a hand up over the railing, and we each took a pole and
began poling the African Queen deeper into the reeds that encroached on that
Finally we reached a point where the poles did no good at
all. We appeared to be stuck.
“Charlie?” What were we to do now?
He licked his lips. “I know what you said about carrying
the Queen was meant to be a joke, little Rev. It’s no joke. You keep poling,
and I’ll start dragging her.”
It was difficult to breathe, and physical exertion made it
more so. I was positive I was going to collapse in a heap, of no use to my lover
at all. Sweat poured down my face, stinging my eyes, leaving my unmentionables
stuck to my body. I promised myself I’d do this only until I counted a
thousand steps. A thousand wasn’t much; I knew I could do that easily.
By the end of the first thousand, I decided to try for
more. I went back to counting under my breath, and somehow, keeping count became
the most important thing. As long as I could keep track of the number of
footsteps it took me to walk to the stern and then back to the bow as I poled
the boat along, everything would be all right.
“Little Rev! Little Rev!” Charlie shook me, and I came
back from wherever my mind had been.
“Four thousand three hundred seventy-eight. I can go
further if we need to. Four thousand three hundred seventy-eight. Don’t let me
lose count. Are we any further along, love?” I swayed on my feet.
“Sweetheart, we’re going to rest for a minute. I want
you to take a break.”
I smiled at him dazedly. “Very well, Charlie. You’re
the captain! Four thousand three hundred seventy-eight.” I leaned against the
pole and my eyes finally focused on the man before me. And what was visible
through the tears in his shirt. “*Charlie*!”
He looked down at himself, and gave a cry of horror.
“Leeches! Ooooh, the little beggars! Pull them off, Roddy! Pull them…no
don’t! If the heads stay in they’ll poison the blood!”
Charlie was shuddering, his breath coming so rapidly I was
afraid he would swoon. “Salt!” I grabbed up a tin and began patting it on
the ugly, swollen black creatures. Charlie pulled off his shirt and stripped off
his pants, revealing more of the leeches.
The salt worked, and I was able to get the ghastly things
off my lover, leaving smears of blood over his chest and arms and calves.
“Ooooh! If there’s anything in the world I hate, it’s
leeches! Little devils!” Shudders rippled over his body, and I took him in my
arms, pressing kisses to his throat and cheek and stroking his hair.
“What you need is a cup of tea, love. Now come sit
“No.” The look in his eyes was that of a man facing his worst nightmare. The thought of what he was about to do made him look ill, and his voice ached. “We have to keep moving. If I don’t go back in now, I’ll never be able to go in, and we’ll stay here forever!”
He cupped my jaw in his hand and brought my mouth to his
for a brief kiss. Then he climbed into his clothing and went back into the
But we couldn’t go on much further like that, him pulling
and me poling, and I picked up the huge knife and went into the water ahead of
him, doing my best to clear a path for my lover and the…the goddamned
boat he carried on his back.
Blinded by tears at his valour, I pushed myself, determined
not to let him down.
“Roddy. Roddy. Come on, little Rev, we’ve got to get
back aboard the old Queen. We’re starting to lose the light.” He led me back
to the boat, and we got rid of the leeches that covered us.
Charlie was shivering, and I got a blanket and covered his
shoulders. “Drink this, love. It’s good for what ails you.”
He took the cup of tea from my hands, but nearly spilled it over himself. “Fine specimen of a man I am!” he grimaced in disgust.
I helped him get the cup to his lips. “You’re the
bravest man who ever lived, Charlie Allnutt! No other man alive could do what
He leaned his head against the side of the Queen, watching
me. “Well, if that’s so, it’s because no other man alive has you!”
I couldn’t get a word past my lips. Charlie was looking
at me with such…with such…
“Oh, Charlie, you’ve lost your mind!” I whispered,
trying to lighten the moment. He took my hand in his and brought my palm to his
“I’ve lost my heart too, Roddy. A man couldn’t ask
for a more gallant companion. Pluck to the backbone, that’s you, my beautiful
I buried my head in his chest and hugged him tightly. He held me for a beat, then staggered to his feet, hauling me up beside him. “We’d better eat. I know we ain’t got much appetite, but we’ll need to keep up our strength. Then we’ll turn in. Tomorrow will be here soon enough, and it will be a long day.”
I was having the most marvelous dream. A hot, wet mouth was
teasing my rigid prick. It sucked me down into a throat that seemed intent on
swallowing me to the root. I moaned, and suddenly found my own mouth filled with
a shaft that was oozing drops of precome. It tasted of my lover, and I licked
avidly at it. My hands gripped muscular buttocks and traced the crevice that
The mouth released me, and I whimpered a protest, thrusting
blindly forward, trying to find that heated cavern again. And then I was deep
inside it once more. While lavish attention was being showered on my prick by
that educated tongue, a wet finger stroked across my hole, pressing more
urgently with each pass, until finally the tip had breached the tight muscle
that guarded it.
I hummed with pleasure, and the vibration ran up the shaft
in my mouth. The finger pushed in deeper, searching for that special spot within
my passage, and I curled my knees about the head that bobbed between my thighs,
giving my lover better access to me.
I managed to get my finger in my mouth next to the prick that filled it, and then withdrew it, searching for my lover’s opening. For the first time, I slid my finger into him, and was enthralled by the hot, tight walls of his channel. He moaned, and my prick quivered in his mouth.
We both came swiftly after that, and I swallowed the hot,
bitter fluid that filled my mouth. Charlie continued to suckle me until not a
drop was left. He let me slip from his mouth and gently kissed the spent tip,
then began to work his way up my body to my mouth. His tongue thrust in lazily,
and I tasted myself on his lips.
I stared blindly up at the faint glow of the moon that just
pierced the dense foliage above us. “Charlie?” I panted, trying to regain my
breath. “That wasn’t a dream, was it?”
“No, little Rev.” He chuckled softly and pulled me into
his embrace, so that his body surrounded me. He pulled up the blanket to cover
us. “That was the real thing!”
The next day was more of the same, Charlie breaking his
heart pulling the African Queen, I
with my shoulder pressed to the stern, trying to force that old boat a few feet
And the leeches. Those horrible, horrible animals!
And then finally, we were stuck on a mud bank, and nothing
we did could get her to budge.
Charlie was shivering, and I gave him a couple of quinine
tablets from the first aid kit. “Rest for now, love.”
“I’m sorry, little Rev. I’m a worthless excuse for a
“Charlie Allnutt, don’t you dare speak that way about
the man I love!” I never expected to declare my feelings quite like that. But
somehow, it didn’t matter. This man had gotten us almost to our prize, and I
loved him, whether we succeeded or not!
“You love me, little Rev? Even though I failed you?”
I leaned over him and caressed his mouth with mine. A tear
rolled down my cheek and splashed onto his lips. “You didn’t fail, Charlie!
You overdid it a little today, that’s all. All you need is a few hours sleep.
When you wake up, we’ll be on our way.”
He drew me to him, his arm holding me tightly. “We’ll
never get off this mud, sweetheart. We’re finished.”
it.” I said simply.
“Roddy, I’m not one bit sorry I came along! I mean
it! Not one bit!” He ran his fingers through my hair, and kissed
me. “I love you, little Rev. I’ve loved you for a
The exertions of the day caught up with him, and he sank
into a troubled slumber. I tucked the blanket tighter around his shoulders, and
for the first time in quite some time, I sank to my knees to pray.
“Dear Lord, we’ve come to the end of our journey. In a little while, we’ll stand before you. I pray for you to be merciful. Judge us not for our weakness, but for our love, and open the doors of heaven for Charlie and me.”
Warm lips on mine woke me.
“Good morning, little Rev!”
I blinked sleepily. “We’re still alive?”
My lover grinned rakishly at me. “It sure looks like it!
Take a look around, sweetheart, and then have a cup of tea!”
I yawned and rubbed my eyes. And rubbed my eyes again.
“We’re on the Lake!”
“Yes, we are! The rain did it!”
I rubbed my head vigorously, as if that would make my brain work better. “Beg pardon? It rained?”
“Up river,” he laughed, sweeping me into a rib-crushing
hug. “There was a flash flood and we’ve been washed down to the Lake! We
couldn’t have been more than a hundred yards from it last night!”
Suddenly wide-awake, I lurched to my feet. “Oh, please,
Charlie, can we go out into the middle of it, right now?”
“Sure, little Rev. Sure.” He handed me my tea, and went
forward to fire up the engine. The Queen chugged obediently out of the reeds and
grass and on into the huge expanse of the Lake.
I drew in a deep lungful of oxygen, and held it. “Oh,
Charlie! This air! Isn’t it wonderful?”
He returned to my side and kissed me. “It makes your
blood race, your face numb and your spirits soar. Kind of like a belt of gin!”
His eyes ran over my features, in an almost palpable caress. “God in heaven,
how I love you, Roddy Sayer!”
“Charlie!” I nestled deeper into his embrace. “I
thought you only said that because we were going to die, and you had somehow
discovered how I felt.”
“Well, no.” His tone of voice was disgruntled. I ran my
fingertips over the curve of his jaw, and sipped my tea, hiding a smile behind
the cup. “You’re very good at concealing your feelings! I thought, if
anything, you liked me because I was your brother’s friend.”
I spewed a mouthful of tea all over my lover’s shirtfront. “Sorry,” I choked, trying to swallow my laughter and rubbing at the tea stain. “Charlie, I don’t know how to tell you this, but…Brother did not see you as a friend!”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I know. You always did, though, didn’t you?”
I sighed happily and nodded as I turned in his arms and
watched the unencumbered blue of the sky. “Have you loved me a long time,
His hold tightened. “It certainly seems like it to me, little Rev. I had to stop coming around so often. Your brother caught me watching as you bent over to retrieve something from the floor. I thought he’d have an attack of apoplexy!”
“When was that?” Brother’s temperament could often be
“Couple, three years back.” He grinned. “I remember
it like it was yesterday. Must have been right after the New Year.”
I sucked in my breath sharply. I remembered that day, all too vividly. Brother found more fault than usual in everything I did, and it culminated in a caning that left me raw from my lower back to my knees. So that was the reason behind Brother’s fury.
“Roddy?” Charlie’s gaze was inquisitive. I knew I
could never tell him that his interest in me had infuriated my brother’s
Instead, I smiled at him over my shoulder and pressed a
quick kiss to his jaw. “What would you have done with me, Charlie?” I asked
“Little tease! I wanted to bend you over that table, peel
down those trousers you were wearing, and have my wicked way with you!” He
slipped a finger beneath my chin and urged my head around, then buried his
fingers in my hair and pulled me close for a kiss that left my mouth feeling
“Oh no!” His body went stiff at my back.
“What is it, love?”
He nodded toward the center of the Lake. Steaming toward
us, looking for all the world like a monarch, was the Louisa. “We’ve got to
make a run for it back to the reeds!”
I could feel the blood drain from my cheeks. “She’s
coming right towards us, Charlie!”
“Pray she hasn’t seen us, little Rev. Pray real
hard!” The reeds were before us, a seemingly impenetrable wall of green, and
we slid into the channel from which we had so recently, and happily emerged.
The Louisa continued her approach as we shut down the
African Queen’s engine, and held our breaths, waiting to see if we had been
At the last possible minute, the hundred-ton ship veered to
port and her wake washed against the Queen’s sides. The old boat rocked
wildly. “Jesus God, she has to be
doing twelve knots! I thought for a second there we was goners!”
I swallowed hard. “Will she be back, Charlie?”
His eyes still on the huge steamship, my lover nodded. “She’ll anchor there for the night and leave in the morning, but she’ll be back. The Germans lay down systems and stick to them. One place on Monday, another on Wednesday, and back to the first location on Friday. Oh, yeah. She’ll be back!”
“How long will it take to get the torpedoes ready,
“Sooner than they’re going to like, little Rev! Let’s
see, this lake is a hundred miles long and fifty miles wide. At twelve knots
that should bring her back here…” His eyes narrowed in concentration. “Day
after tomorrow, most likely, little Rev!” He rubbed his hands together. “All
right, then, let’s get started on those torpedoes! And I’ve got an idea for
“That’s what I love about you, Charlie. You’re so resourceful!”
“And you’re a honey, little Rev!” He snatched a kiss
and grabbed the first of the cylinders he’d need to work on. “Uh, I’ve
been thinking.” His tone was uneasy.
I wasn’t paying attention. “Yes, love?” I should have
“Uh, Roddy, about taking the Queen up against the
“Yes? Charlie, I want to have the Queen all cleaned up,
her brass polished and her decks scrubbed. She should be looking her best,
don’t you agree, considering that she’ll be representing the King’s
He didn’t answer me. He was working on the cylinder
industriously, filling it with blasting gelatin, and he avoided my eyes.
“I’ve been thinking that this should be a one-man
“Oh yes. I couldn’t agree with you more, love.”
“You do? Well, now. That’s fine, little Rev. So, once
we have everything ship-shape, I’ll put you off on the opposite shore and take
the African Queen out to meet the Louisa.”
“Oh, no. I’ll put you off and take the Queen out! And I’ll join you and we’ll be off to Kenya together.”
“What?” He sputtered. “What?” My lover actually sputtered! “Why, you can’t do that!”
“Of course I can.” I became involved with searching out
the Union Jack. I knew there was a British flag on board somewhere. “You said
yourself I handle her very well.”
“But …but not well enough! Suppose she breaks down! You wouldn’t know what to do!”
“She could break down just as easily for you!” I
huffed. Ah! There it was! I pounced on the flag.
“I know how to handle this old tub! If she got cranky,
I’d just spit on her, kick her in the slats a time or two, and she’d be
running again as smooth as you please! You wouldn’t have a chance! You’d be
“Hmmm.” I thought about it carefully. “You may be
right about that, Charlie.”
He sighed in relief. “Of course I’m right! I knew you’d see reason!”
“Certainly. I’m a reasonable person. And you’ve made
me see that this is a two-man job.”
“*What*? Oh, no it ain’t! Where do you get these ideas?
You ain’t coming with me, and that’s all there is to it!”
We were toe to toe, and I thrust my chin out belligerently. “I’m coming!”
“Not yet, you’re not, little Rev! But you soon will be!
Only not on this boat!” The world seemed to go topsy-turvy, and then I was
head down across my lover’s knee.
I gave a cry of outrage. “Oh, no, Charlie Allnutt!
You’re not spanking me again! I put up with it when you tossed my clothes
overboard, but if you strike me this time I’ll…”
But his hand was already rising and falling in a steady
rhythm. And, heaven help me, I was rising to the blows, actually rising up to
meet them! My bum seemed to wriggle of its own accord, pleading for more of the
tantalizing strokes, and my flesh warmed.
Charlie laughed softly, feeling the hardness of my shaft
pressing against his thigh. Cries of affront had devolved into moans of
excitement. With one last spank, he
pulled off my unmentionables and bent me over the transom, probing my opening
with a slick finger. In a twinkling, his coated prick was entering me.
“This is what I wanted to do to you in your brother’s
house!” he whispered hoarsely in my ear. “Jesus God, your ass is so hot,
sweetheart! You’re on fire for me!” While one hand stayed firm on my back,
preventing me from moving, the other was rolling my balls between his fingers
and fondling my shaft.
My fingers dug mindlessly into the transom, leaving
indentations in the soft wood. He rammed his length into me again and again,
until I was breathless from his possession, and silently begging for more. And
then he began pouring himself into my passage. His climax triggered my own, and
I filled his hand with the burning liquid of life.
Charlie lay on my back, still buried deep inside me.
“Sweetheart,” he said softly, “please let me put you ashore. I couldn’t
bear it if something happened to you!”
“And if something should happen to you? Don’t you know
I wouldn’t want to go on to Kenya without you, Charlie?” I bit back a sob. I
wasn’t a fool. I knew the odds were not good. I may not have realized that
when we first started out on this journey, but I knew it now. “‘Entreat me
not to leave thee, or to refrain from following after thee…’”
“’For whither thou goest...’?” He slid out of me and turned me into his arms. “In that case, little Rev, I think maybe you’d better marry me.”
Note: Samhain, (pronounced Sow Inn—this always made me nuts) Oct.31, observed by the Celts, marks the end of their old year and the start of the new. Boxing Day, Dec. 26, in the UK, when gifts are given. Nairobi is the capital of British East Africa, also known as Kenya.
“My God, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to hearing
you call me that!” My lover strolled over to where I sat propped against the
side of the African Queen, sewing on the last of the buttons that fastened my
“Next time Charlie, please take the time to unbutton
this. It won’t stand any more manhandling!” I teased gently.
“When we get to Nairobi, I’ll buy you a whole new
kit!” He observed me intently. “Now, what’s caused that frown?” he asked
as he ran his thumb over my brows.
“I didn’t think to take any money from the mission,
Charlie! I know Brother must have had some in order to purchase supplies. I’m
sorry. That was stupid of me.”
“You’re not stupid, Roddy! A lot happened that
day, and anyone would have forgotten something as inconsequential as money in a
situation like that!” Charlie walked over to the compartment where he had
stored my carpetbag. “Have you looked at your Bible since the day you were so
cross with me that you gave me the silent treatment, little Rev?”
“No. There has been so much to do. I know I’ve sadly
neglected my prayers as well,” I added apologetically. “Our Heavenly Father
will not be pleased with me when I stand before His throne.” A sigh gusted
“Maybe not, little Rev, but He’s looking out for you
right enough down here!” Charlie pulled out the big Book and began leafing
through it. When he came to Revelations, a slim leather envelope slid out and
landed on the deck with a soft plop.
“What’s this?” I asked curiously.
“I’d say this is your brother’s bank!”
“*Beg pardon*?” Sure enough, the packet contained a
number of banknotes. Dumbly, I looked into my lover’s interested eyes.
“There must be about fifty pounds here! How did you know?”
“I came across it when I was looking for some spiritual
comfort one particularly lonely night.” His smile was suddenly tired.
“We’re not going to be able to take the Book with us, you know.”
My fingers closed convulsively on the big Bible for a long
moment before I loosed my grip. I smoothed my palm over the cover, and then held
it to my chest. “Will you hold onto the money for me, Charlie?”
He patted his waist. “I’ve got a moneybelt.”
“I don’t remember seeing that on you before,” I
“Didn’t need to wear it before. But it’s waterproof,
and if there’s anything you need out of the Bible, I can carry that for you as
well.” He tucked the wallet into the pouch.
It broke my heart to desecrate that Book. It had been in
our family for almost two hundred years. I dropped to my knees and opened it to
the front, where a family tree listed the births, marriages and deaths of all
the Sayers who had belonged to it.
“Have you a pen and ink, Charlie?” I asked, as I used a
knife to carefully slice those pages out of the book.
“Sure. I need to keep a log of my supplies and all the
repairs this old boat has to have. Had to have. Won’t be needing to do
that any longer.” His eyes grew sad at the thought of losing the African
“May I borrow them, Charlie?”
He rummaged through a storage locker and handed me the
implements. The ink was thick and sluggish, made from native plants. I dipped
the pen into it and began writing, meticulously placing the date he died next to
“What’s today’s date, Charlie? I’ve lost all track
“Why, I couldn’t really say, little Rev. We’ve been
on the river such a long time, it seems. Is it important?”
I looked up at him from where I sat on the deck. “I
suppose not. But I wanted to enter the date of my wedding, and my groom’s
“Oh! Oh, my! Roddy!” He knelt beside me and wrapped his
arms around me. “That’s the nicest thing that anyone’s ever done for me! I
can’t believe you’d want to do that!”
I leaned into him. “Silly!” I nuzzled his chin. “Why wouldn’t I put your name in my Bible?”
“Sweetheart, I’m just a worthless…”
“Charlie, you’re the man I love.” I sighed and
worried the end of the pen between my teeth.
“If it means that much to you, little Rev, just pick out
a date, and that will have to do us.”
“Could we?” The thought was so daring. Not go by the
calendar? I held my breath, awaiting my lover’s pronouncement.
“Roddy, we’re two men who are going to pledge our lives
to each other. I guess we can do just about anything we want!”
“All right, then. I’ll make our wedding day October
“Um, little Rev, that’s Halloween!”
“It’s also Samhain. Nanny told me about how the Celts
celebrated that day. It has always seemed to me to be a very interesting
“But that’s a pagan holiday!”
“Well, yes. I think I’d really prefer Boxing Day, but
that was more than more than three months away when you took me from the
mission. I don’t think we’ve been on the river for that long.”
Painstakingly I inscribed the date, 31 October 1914, and his name, Charles
Allnutt. I blew on the page until the ink was dry, and then folded it and gave
it to my lover.
Charlie placed it in his moneybelt, and tucked the pouch
into his trousers.
“I take it this means I won’t be getting a wedding
night?” I asked.
“Afraid not, little Rev. The torpedoes are ready. I just
need to get the detonators in place, which might be a little tricky in the dark.
We’re heading out, just after sundown!” The Louisa had shown up right on
schedule, and was anchored for the night.
My mouth went dry, and suddenly I was afraid. But I
couldn’t let Charlie see me like that. “Well, then, Mr. Allnutt, I’m
afraid I’ll have to insist you make an honest man of me.”
It was meant to be a joke, to lighten the tension that was
tying my stomach in knots, but Charlie took me seriously. He took something from
his pocket and held out his hand. On his palm were two rings, woven from the
grasses that grew down to the Lake’s edge. “This is the best I can do right
now, sweetheart.” He took my left hand and looked into my eyes.
“With this ring I take you, Roddy, to be lawfully mine.
With my body I thee worship. I’ll love and cherish you, and be true to you for
the rest of my life.” He slipped the ring on my finger. Suddenly, I could
understand why women wept at weddings.
I took my lover’s hand and repeated the words he had
spoken, altering them only slightly. “I’ll love you and cherish you, and be
true to you for as long as there is breath in my body, Charlie, and beyond that,
until the end of time!” And I put the ring of grass on him.
The kiss we shared was chaste, for about a heartbeat. I
couldn’t resist sliding my tongue into his mouth, and when he sucked on it, I
moaned and reached for him.
His arms held me tightly, and I could feel the heat and
hardness of him. Then he stepped back, holding me at arm’s length. Darkness
had fallen, and it was time to carry out our mission.
Charlie wedged the detonators into place, going by feel
alone as clouds scudded across the moon, dimming her light. We wrestled the
awkward cylinders into the holes we had chopped into the Queen’s hull, just
above the water line.
From out of nowhere, a wicked, deadly storm was brewing. As
we backed the old boat out of the reeds, it started blowing up quite a bit.
The wind howled like a soul tormented, tearing at our
The skies opened, and rain began to fall. Waves driven by
those banshee winds washed up over the African Queen’s sides, and the weight
of the cylinders tugged the bow even further down, allowing water in through the
“It’s hard to steer, Charlie!” I shouted over the
wail of the winds.
“We’ve got to get her nose up! There’s too much water
in the bow!”
As I fought with the tiller, my love grappled with the
ungainly boxes of supplies and blasting gelatin, staggering across the slippery
deck to redistribute the ballast. Too many times to count he went down to his
knees, and it was too dark to see if it was blood or merely rain that soaked his
“We’re sinking!” Charlie dropped the last of the
boxes, seized a life preserver and managed to get to my side.
I could no longer keep the Queen into the wind, and an
especially vicious wave hit us broadside. The old boat trembled convulsively,
and then listed to her side, taking on even more water. Charlie shoved the
preserver into my arms, holding me as he made sure I got my shoulders through
Slowly, gracefully, she capsized, floating bottom up in
We were clinging to the shaft that Charlie had worked so
hard to straighten when we were struck one last time by a wave that was so
mountainous it seemed to block out the entire world. Charlie reached for my
outstretched hand, our fingertips grazing, but I was swept away from him.
I could hear his anguished cries. “Roddy! Roddy!”
I opened my mouth to respond and was slapped in the face by
a wall of water. I gagged and choked, retching violently on it. I tried to
strike out toward where I had last seen my life’s partner, but at that moment,
something struck me in the head, and I was sucked down into blackness.
It was hours later that I regained my senses. The Lake was once again calm. The clouds were parted to reveal the scattered stars. And I was alone.
Note: Some of the dialogue is from the movie.
Charlie was gone.
Once I regained consciousness, I swam and dove, and dove
again, desperate to find some sign of the man I loved. All I found were a few
pieces of wood, all that was left of the African Queen. Of her captain, there
was nothing. Not even the ring that symbolized our union. That last wave had
torn it from my finger.
I cursed the Lake in a dull monotone until a German
lifeboat returning from shore with a supply of fresh water picked me up.
I lay in the bottom of the lifeboat, in the scummy water
that had accumulated there. The young underlieutenant who sat above me watched
“Vhas iss your nationality?” he asked haughtily.
“French? Belgium? British?”
“I’m British,” I said wearily.
“Vhat vere you doing on the Lake?”
“I was boating.”
He leaned down and slapped me sharply across the face.
Compared to the talons of loss that were ripping the heart out of me, this was
nothing, and I didn’t even flinch.
“You know, the punishment for giving false testimony to
an officer in the navy of Kaiser Wilhelm is death by hanging!”
“Should that mean anything to me? You asked what I was
doing, I told you. I cannot help it if you do not believe me!”
I could hear him grinding his teeth. He reached down and
wound his fingers in the neck of my unmentionables, then dragged me up to face
him. “You are a very pretty boy!” he growled. “Perhaps it vould be
interesting to see you on your knees!”
“As a British citizen, and as such a representative of
his majesty, King George V, I bend the knee to no one!” I snapped back at him.
To my utter horror, he lowered his mouth to mine, licking across the seam of my
lips and seeking access to my tongue.
I realized the meaning behind his words. My eyes flashed up
to his, and he froze at what he saw in them. “Know this, Hun!” I snarled.
“Put something in my mouth that I do not specifically request,” and here I
glanced down to the front of his trousers. “And I will bite it off!”
Carefully he drew back. “I could haff you killed for your
“You would be doing me a favor!”
The young lieutenant urged me up the ladder onto the deck
of the Louisa. She was a huge ship, blindingly white. Dark skinned natives, the
naval equivalent of the askaris, bustled about, doing whatever it was that
needed to be done, and paid me little attention.
One of the German sailors rushed down from a cabin on the
upper deck. He edged the underlieutenant aside, glanced nervously at me and
whispered frantically in his ear.
“Vas there another man with you?” the officer demanded.
“What? Charlie? Charlie!” I tried to get
to the stairs leading up, but the lieutenant seized my arm and jerked me to a
At the door to the cabin, a man appeared. “Roddy!
Roddy!” He was dragged back into the cabin.
“My Captain vill vish to speak vith you. Do not be
insolent to him! He vill have no qualms about hanging you twice, I think!”
I didn’t waste time sneering at the underlieutenant.
“Take me up to him!”
He shoved me toward the stairs, following closely behind.
I was almost at the top when I felt a sly hand insinuating itself under
the leg opening of my unmentionables and a long finger stroking over my balls. I
halted abruptly and turned. The lieutenant grinned evilly at me, and held his
hands palms toward me. “No harm, English.”
“Of course not, Hun.” I turned to resume walking up the
stairs, but apparently stumbled. I made sure my shoulder caught him in the
chest. He lost his balance, and with a cry fell all the way to the lower deck,
hitting his head so hard he knocked himself out. “Charlie!” I hurried to the
“Who is that man?” the captain demanded of the man I
loved. Charlie was on his knees before the German’s desk, blood seeping slowly
from a cut lip, and a livid bruise standing out on his cheek.
“I…I don’t know.”
“You called him by name!”
“I thought he was someone else.”
“Charlie!” I threw myself at him, hugging him tightly,
barely stopping myself from pressing kisses over his cheek and jaw. It would be
dangerous to let the Hun know of our relationship. “You’re alive! You’re
A sailor grabbed my arm and pulled me away. His grip on me
tightened at the Captain’s signal, and I couldn’t get back to Charlie.
”Who are you?” the Captain growled.
I tipped up my chin and looked down my nose at him. I had
often seen Brother regard his native converts in just such a way. “Rodney
The Captain seemed to have trouble controlling his ire.
“You are English?”
“Of course!” Was the man stupid, or was it just that he
was a German?
Charlie got painfully to his feet, and I could see more
bruises through the tears on his shirt. “I ain’t told ‘em nothing, little
That earned him a scowl. “Vhat vere you doing on the
I glared at the German. “We were boating.”
“Last night? In such veather?”
I remembered how Nanny could stare down a tradesman who
displeased her, and I arranged my features to look as if I smelled something
decidedly unappetizing. “We were not responsible for the weather!”
“If you do not give me an honest answer, I vill have you
hung too!” the Captain shouted, pounding on his desk.
“They’re going to hang you, Charlie?” I was aghast,
and struggled in vain to get free of the sailor’s hold on me. Charlie
shrugged. And that hollow feeling returned to my stomach. I turned to the stout
man. “Very well, ask your questions!”
I turned on my partner. “Let’s at least have the
pleasure of telling him what we were going to do!”
“Vhy are you here?”
“We came to sink this ship!”
“Sink this ship?” The Captain repeated it as if he were
having trouble understanding the simple statement.
“Roddy, shut up!” My love was beside himself,
thinking of the noose into which I was putting my neck.
“If you think I’m going to outlive you, Charlie
Allnutt, you’ve got another think coming!”
“How vere you going to sink this ship?” the Captain
The Captain regarded me in disbelief, unable to accept what
I told him. “Vhere and how did you acquire torpedoes?” He sat down behind
his desk and picked up a pencil, beating out a restless tattoo.
“Mr. Allnutt made them!” I declared proudly. “Tell
him how, Charlie!”
Charlie swaggered forward and hooked his thumbs in the
waist of his trousers. “Well, you see, I took the heads off two cylinders of
oxygen. Then I filled them with explosives, about two hundred weight. That was
easy enough. It was figuring out the detonators that was the hard part.”
“But Charlie did it!” I inserted. “Go on, tell him,
Charlie!” I encouraged. Irritated by the sailor’s grip on my arm, I shook
free of him and joined my life’s partner where he stood, facing the German.
He grinned at me fondly, then turned back to the Captain.
“I used cartridges and nails, and blocks of soft wood. The ends of the nails
would hit the percussion caps and shoot the bullets into the blasting
“You vere going to sink this ship?”
“And we would have succeeded too, only… the African
Queen sank in the storm last night,” I concluded morosely.
“This is impossible! Tell me the truth! How did you get
onto this Lake?”
“We came down the Ulanga. The Bora, you call it down
“That is impossible!”
“Never. The. Less!”
“That river in unnavigable!”
I was tired of arguing with the pompous man, and I turned
to bury my face in Charlie’s chest.
we did it, and in the African Queen!” my love snapped, his arm holding me
secure against his body, even as he winced when I inadvertently pressed against
a tender spot.
“Vhat kind of craziness is this? Hang them! Hang them
“Uh, Captain, I got one last request.”
“Vhat?” the German regarded him suspiciously.
“Give the boy a pair of trousers. Ain’t no need for him
to die like a heathen!”
The Captain’s lips tightened, but he nodded to one of his
sailors, and a pair of trousers was produced for me. They were a trifle large,
but I was grateful for the shield they would provide from the interested glances
I had been getting. As I climbed into them, I said, “I have a last request
“You are prisoners! I do not haff to do anything!” The
stout man threw his hands up in the air. “Oh, very vell! Vhat?”
“Hang us together.”
“Little Rev!” Charlie gripped my hand, and spoke
softly, so that the words went no further than the small space we occupied.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart. I didn’t think it would end like this.”
They marched us down to the lower deck and flung nooses
around our necks. I was determined to show them how an Englishman died. I stood
erect, closed my eyes and drew in a deep breath.
At a time like this, I should have been making my peace
with my maker, but instead, my thoughts were filled with the man at my side and
the love he had brought to my life.
A sailor behind each of us took our arms and placed them
behind our backs.
Before they could tie our hands behind us, it grew very
still, as if time itself had ceased to move, and then there was a tremendous
explosion. Everyone froze, watching in dismay as a curl of black smoke began
reaching for the sky. The first explosion was followed closely by another, and
the Louisa began to list to starboard.
Sailors, German and native alike, threw themselves over the
side and into the water, desperately seeking to leave the sinking ship.
He got the ropes off our necks and grabbed the mast as the
ship slid deeper into the water. “It’s the Queen, little Rev! She sank the
Well, Jesus God! We had done it!
Note: Konigin is German for Queen. Imagine that, all these years, and I had no idea! Disguised is another word for drunk. The Watch was the local constabulary.
The Governor of British East Africa pinned a very pretty
medal onto the lapel of the white suit Charlie was wearing, treating him as the
leader of our expedition, which was only right. Then he did the same to me.
“Gentlemen, His Majesty, King George, offers his
heartfelt gratitude for your selfless act of heroism in coming down the Ulanga
to the Bora, and destroying the German steamer, Konigin Louisa, thus enabling
His Majesty’s troops to effect an action that will cut off the German supply
line and aid us in ending this war that much sooner.”
He shook our hands, bade us call on him if we should have
need of anything during our stay in his capital, and then retreated back into
Government House, leaving us to our own devices.
We began to explore the capital.
We hadn’t gone very far when, “I say! You there!”
Looking over our shoulders to see who was thus addressed,
we saw a portly, fair-haired man who was hurrying toward us. He signaled for us
to halt and we waited for him to catch up with us. “Yes?” Charlie asked.
“Are you the two gentlemen who came down the Ulanga from
“Yes,” Charlie repeated.
“I’ll give you five hundred pounds to get me to
“Impossible!” Charlie said shortly.
“Why would you want to go there, sir?” I demanded.
“There’s nothing in Kungdu but ash!”
“I must get there! I must see Chuffy!”
“Beg pardon?” There was no Englishman by that name in
“Chuffy?” Charlie cocked an eyebrow at me, and I
“He runs the missionary there! Samuel Sayer!”
brother, sir.” I extended my hand. “Roddy Sayer. This is my… close friend,
Mr. Allnutt, who got me safely down from Kungdu.”
“I’m Bishop Morton. Surely your brother has spoken of
me? Herbie Morton?”
“Never, sir.” Although I was getting a very strong
suspicion of what had passed between my brother and this man, the more so since
I had come to belong to Charlie. And I remembered his name on Brother's lips as
he lay dying.
“We were…very close in England. I’ve come to take
Chuffy back home with me. My wife is ill, and I need someone to help me care for
I was shaking my head. “Impossible, sir. I regret to tell
you that Samuel is dead.”
He gave a cry of horror. “He can’t be dead!” He
seized my shirtfront and began shaking me. “You lie! You lie!”
My partner stepped between the distraught Bishop and me,
getting me free. “You will not manhandle this young man, sir. You’re
obviously not well.” He signaled to a soldier who had been watching the scene
unfold with interest.
“Yes sir, Mr. Allnutt?”
"Do I know you?” Charlie asked.
“No, sir. But I seen you at the Palace this morning, and
there ain’t a one of our boys who won’t bless you in their prayers tonight
for doing in the Louisa!”
My lover’s cheeks darkened with embarrassment at the
praise. “Thank you, Sergeant. Would you see that Bishop Morton gets to his
hotel? He seems to be ill.”
“Yes, sir. It’ll be a right treat to do a favor for
you, Mr. Allnutt. And you too, young Mr. Sayer.”
So saying, the soldier led the devastated cleric away. We
could still hear the Bishop’s moans, “*Not* dead! Dear God, I hadn’t the
time to make it up to him!”
I watched after them with interest, as Charlie straightened
my clothing. Deciding we needed nourishment, he took me to a bar he frequented
on those rare occasions when he was in Nairobi. It was dim, redolent with the
odor of hops. The food was decent, and the beer, the first time I had ever drunk
any, intrigued my palate.
Before I could indulge myself overmuch, Charlie paid our
bill and suggested we go for a stroll in the cool of the evening.
Twirling the walking stick he had purchased along with our
suits, tipping his hat and bowing slightly to any lady we happened to pass, we
were on the promenade, something of which I had read, but never dreamed I would
Such an elegant word, for such a commonplace activity. I
was thrilled, and squeezed my lover’s arm, wanting to cling to it in my
excitement, but knowing such an action would be frowned upon.
“Ah, Charlie, we’re men about town!”
He smiled indulgently at me. “That we are, sweetheart!”
he said in a quiet undertone. “Who ever would have thought?”
We walked on in silence, recalling the aftermath of the
sinking of the Louisa.
We had made it to the east shore of the Lake and clambered
onto the land.
And found ourselves face to face with a contingent of
British soldiers who had been dispatched to find a way to destroy the Louisa so
troops could cross the Lake and cut off the German supply line. And I don’t
know who was the more surprised.
They stood there, mouths agape, as the large vessel, with
one final explosion, sank beneath the waters of the Lake.
Charlie and I leaned into each other, endeavoring to
recover from our swim to safety.
The young captain looked us over carefully. “Are you
German?” he asked quite loudly, as if, were we that nationality, we would
better be able to understand him.
“Not on… your life… sir!” Charlie panted
cheerfully. “We’re as… British as you are! Charlie Allnutt, late of the
African Queen. And this is my…passenger, Roddy Sayer.”
I understood the need for this slight deception, and said
nothing, beyond a brief, “How do you do?”
The officer shook Charlie’s hand, then reached for mine.
“Captain Thomas Fortescue-Smythe of the _th, at your service, gentlemen. Might
I offer you the amenities of my camp?” He assigned a detail to search for any
survivors and led us inland. “The African Queen, you say? I’m sorry, the
name isn’t familiar to me.”
“She was a thirty foot steamer. I ran supplies to the Belgium mine up river.” Charlie had his hands stuffed in his pockets, the better to keep them off me. I knew how he felt. I wanted him in my body in the worst way, but I knew it might be quite some time before we would be able to enjoy the wedding night we had been forced to forego.
“The only Belgium mine I’m aware of is the one at the
mouth of the Ulanga.” That brought him up short, and his mouth dropped open at
Charlie’s nod of confirmation. “But…you mean to say you came down that
bloody horrid river?”
“Exactly, Captain. You call it the Bora here in Kenya, I
believe. It needed to be done and we did it.”
“It needed to be done you say, Mr. Allnutt? Why is
Charlie nodded toward me. “He’s the only survivor of
the mission at Kungdu.” His sentiment warmed me. The fact that he wanted to
avenge my loss made me feel cherished, and I longed to have him make passionate
love to me.
We entered the large encampment. Clean, organized,
eminently British. “Kungdu, you say? Oh, now that is a coincidence. Got a
religious chap at Nairobi, chaffing at the bit to get there. Told him we
couldn’t oblige, what with the war going on, and all.”
I thought fondly of Tommy. He had seen that we were given a
good meal and clean clothes before sending a detail of men to see we got safely
to Nairobi. He also offered me the loan of his tent, and his body along with it,
but when he realized that I was with Charlie, he graciously rescinded the
overture. I was afraid my love would be upset by the young captain’s
proposition, but Charlie just smiled, and declared no harm was done.
The hotel where we had rooms was a rather nondescript
place, with the pretentious name The Duke of York. It boasted its own dining
room, although the fare there was mediocre, Charlie assured me. However, at the
back of the building was a long, teakwood bar that offered all the latest
cocktails, as well as the usual manner of hard liquor. This night it was crowded
with men who came there to learn the latest news of the war. The atmosphere was
hot and humid from the crush of bodies.
Charlie ordered a gin for himself, and a beer for me. He
lit a cheroot, holding it negligently between his fingers as the native
bartender brought us our drinks. “This is very good, love!” I found that I
really enjoyed the taste of beer, and downed it quickly. I had another while
Charlie was still working on his first gin.
While my partner asked questions about the situation up
country, I slipped the cheroot from his fingers and put it between my lips,
sliding it in and out of my mouth to get the taste of it.
Some of the smoke trickled into my throat, and I coughed on
it, only then seeing the way Charlie was watching me, his eyes hot. I returned
the cheroot to him meekly, and took a gulp of my beer. It went down the wrong
way, and I choked.
“I think maybe you’ve had enough, little Rev. We’d
better go up to our rooms now,” he said softly, and chuckled at the vivid
blush that colored my cheeks.
I tipped the beer back and gulped it so fast that some of
it dribbled down my chin. Charlie reached over and caught the errant drops with
his thumb, then languidly sucked them into his mouth. He dropped his eyes to the
front of my trousers. Suddenly they were uncomfortably snug.
I glanced around, fearing we might be observed, but the war
news seemed to be holding everyone else’s attention.
He left some money for the bartender and gathered up his
hat and stick and led me to the stairs. The cooler air in the lobby struck me,
and I swayed slightly back and forth as the beer went to my head. “Why’s the
room moving, Charlie? We’re not back on the river, are we?”
Charlie slid an arm around my waist. “My mate is a trifle
disguised,” he remarked casually to a gimlet-eyed matron and her companion.
“I am your mate, aren’t I, Charlie?” I smiled tipsily
at the stout woman as I tried to put my foot on a step that wasn’t there.
“Oops. Missed!” I dissolved into giggles.
“Humph!” The woman sounded affronted.
“Oh, come now, dear. He’s just a lad!” her companion
“All the more reason…” Her diatribe faded as Charlie
got me to our floor and down the hall that housed our rooms.
“’m I drunk, Charlie?” I asked.
“I’d say so, little Rev. Stay put, would you?” He
propped me against the wall and reached into his pocket for the key.
“Whoops!” I was sliding toward the floor, and he caught my coattail and
prevented me from landing on my face. “All right, sweetheart, in you go!”
I staggered into the room. “Bed, ho!” I cried, and
staggered to the brass bed that occupied the far wall. I fell across it face
down. The mattress, soft as a cloud, gave gently beneath me, and I was out like
The feel of a rough-knapped bolster being placed under my
hips woke me. “Charlie?”
The ceiling fan turned lazily, moving the air so that it
caressed my naked body. Fingers traced the line of my spine from the base of my
skull to my tailbone, before dipping between my buttocks and teasing my hole. I
wriggled voluptuously. “Yeah, sweetheart?”
“That feels nice!” I sighed. “Why am I naked? And why
can’t I move my hands and legs?”
“Well, you’re naked because I removed all your clothes.
And I’d say you can’t move because you’re tied up.”
“I’m tied up?” I repeated, trying to rise up through the layers of cotton that seemed to have enveloped my brain. “Who tied me up?”
“I did. I think we’ve waited long enough to have our
Suddenly I was completely aware of my surroundings. Soft ties fastened my wrists and ankles to the brass bed frame, leaving me positioned in an X, helpless and vulnerable to whatever my lover might choose to do to me. That notion was strangely intoxicating.
The bolster, wedged under my thighs, angled my hips so that
my buttocks were high off the bed. I would be unable to find relief by thrusting
against the mattress, for my prick could not reach it. It was jutting upward,
surrounded by nothing but air.
I ground my hips forward, to no avail, and earned a hard
“Are you very angry with me for getting drunk,
He walked to the side of the bed so I could see him if I
raised my head. “No, actually, I’m rather pleased. This gives me the perfect
opportunity to administer a little discipline.” His eyes were on my mouth, and
he reached up and removed his tie and collar.
“What…” I was so excited I could barely utter the
words. “What are you going to do?”
His fingers went to his trouser buttons. “You enjoyed
having that cheroot in your mouth. How about something else?” He took his
prick out of his pants. Already fiercely erect, with precome leaking from the
tip, he brought his shaft toward me.
I gasped, so aroused I wanted nothing more than him fucking
me long and hard, and he slid his prick into my mouth. Rocking gently, so that
he wouldn’t hurt my throat, he gradually gave me more and more of his shaft.
While I was busy sucking on that tasty morsel, he watched
me with a heated gaze, unbuttoning his shirt and removing it. My eyes widened,
my lips parted in surprise, and his prick dropped from my mouth. “Charlie!”
I whispered hoarsely. “You aren’t wearing any undergarments!”
“I’m not, am I?” He let his trousers slide to the
floor and stepped out of them. “My beautiful boy!” he sighed as he ran his
fingers over my hair.
I was just able to see him take a small jar from the
nightstand, and then he settled himself on the bed, between my outstretched
legs. I craned my head to see what he would do, but the strain became too great
on my neck, and I was forced to drop my head to the mattress.
A hard palm landed on the curve of my bum, and I jumped. I
tensed, but nothing happened. Just as I was starting to relax, another blow
fell. And that set the pattern. I lost track of the number of spanks I received,
but I was wiggling toward the hand that dealt my punishment, needing more of
that exquisite torment.
Teeth bit down gently and worried the heated flesh, and
then something warm and damp licked across my burning bum, soothing it, until
lips closed over it and began to suck hard on the flesh of my buttocks.
Moaning and writhing, I pleaded with my love to fuck me and
end this torture.
Instead, his fingers parted my buttocks, and his tongue
traced a path through the crevice to my puckered opening. Pressing forward, he
wasn’t satisfied until the muscle surrendered and allowed him to enter. I
began to keen.
“Hush, sweetheart! You’ll have us thrown out of
here!” But Charlie was laughing. He rose from the bed and found a shirt to
stuff in my mouth. “Bite down on that, little Rev.” Mindlessly, I obeyed
him, and was able to stifle the ballad of pleasure that spilled from my lips.
Charlie climbed back between my thighs and when next
something touched me intimately, it was his fingers slicked with whatever lotion
was in the little jar. Carefully, he inserted a finger into me, but I was so
randy at that point that not much preparation was needed.
A prick that felt like the iron shaft of the African Queen
challenged my hole to keep him out. I tightened the muscle; just enough to let
him know I was determined to make him pay for driving me mad with desire. It was
a good thing he had found something for me to bite down on, for the howl I gave
when he forced me to yield would have brought the watch down on us.
Charlie stopped, afraid that he had done me damage.
“Sweetheart, did I hurt you?”
I couldn’t speak past the cloth in my mouth, so shook my
head savagely. And he laughed in relief and started the rhythm that would push
me to the edge. He kept it slow and gentle, taking care to brush that spot
inside that set me afire only every other stroke.
Finally, taking pity on my sad state, he reached around and
took my weeping shaft in his hand. He stepped up the pace of his prick in my
ass, hitting that spot every time now, and my inner muscles clenched, and I
whined around the shirt that stuffed my mouth. I came violently, spurting over
his hand, my chest and the bed. At the same time he poured himself into my
well-used passage, scalding me with his heat.
And I fell asleep like that, tied to the bed, my bum in the
air, his prick buried deep in it. And peace in my heart.
The next time I awoke, my lover was freeing my hands,
having already freed my legs. As he removed the bolster, I cuddled bonelessly
into the mattress, only to find myself in the wet spot.
“Charlie!” I moaned. “What are we going to do? The
bedspread will be stained, and we’ll be thrown out of here!”
Sadness swept over me. I had forgotten that scrap of blue
wool on the African Queen, that scrap that comforted me, and allowed me
something to pour myself into whenever I was able to stroke myself to completion
away from Brother’s unforgiving eye.
And I was ashamed. We had brought about the destruction of
the Louisa, and escaped with our lives. How selfish to mourn that bit of my
He leaned over and kissed the corner of my mouth. “Not to
worry, little Rev. I saw to that last night before I laid you out so temptingly
on this bed. I put something under you!”
“You’re a genius, Charlie!” I sighed with relief.
“What did you use?”
“Something you were leaving behind on the Queen.
Something I knew you would miss, so I tucked it in a pocket and brought it with
me! Roll over and see for yourself.”
I looked at him curiously, but did as he bid.
“Oh! Oh!” I couldn’t catch my breath. “Oh, Charlie! My blue blanket!”
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