Naked Prey

by George Gauthier

Terra Australis

Chapter 1. Palembang 1642

Of the two Dutch ships in the harbor of Palembang on the coast of Sumatra, one rode at anchor in the harbor. The other other, the good ship Zeehaen, was partly drawn up on shore, careened, getting its hull cleared of barnacles and weeds that foul a ship's bottom and slow it down. Most of the crew were on shore, enjoying liberty, with only a small work party attending to the vessel. She was one of two ships under the command of Abel Tasman, captain for the VOC, the Dutch-owned United East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie).

The charter of the VOC granted it exclusive trading rights in the Indies and gave it virtually sovereign powers to maintain armed forces, to wage war, to conclude treaties and to govern the areas it controlled, even to coin money. Tasman had concluded a trade treaty with the Sultan of Palembang who controlled the southeast corner of the great island of Sumatra, sixth largest in the world, as big as the islands of Great Britain and Honshu, the main Japanese island, combined.

The Sultan had come down to the shore in a palanquin to observe the work. These Dutch ships were small but fast and provided with a powerful armament. If only his shipwrights could build him such vessels.

"Did you know, Captain Tasman that Palembang was once the capital of an empire? Centuries ago the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Srivijaya controlled much of this archipelago that you Dutchmen call the East Indies plus the nearby Malay Peninsula. Now of course the city is the hands of the sons of the Prophet, Peace be upon him."

"Well Highness, I cannot promise a return to former glories, but our trade treaty will mean prosperity for your realm. A prosperous land can better afford the sinews of war."

"Indeed Captain, indeed," the sultan nodded. "But who is that yellow haired lad splashing about in the shallows. Can you call him over to us?"

Tasman had his own notions about why the Sultan would be interested in seeing a naked Dutch boy close up, but withheld any objection for diplomatic reasons. He signaled the boy to swim over. On arrival Pieter rose out of the water like a mer-boy, his bare skin dotted with droplets of sea water, glistening with refracted sunlight like tiny diamonds. It was obvious why the boy had caught the Sultan's eye.

A few months short of seventeen, Pieter Havelaar was a comely lad, short for his age and slender. He had a fawn-like physique but with a wiry musculature, toned and taut from hard work, quite unlike the soft boys in the Sultan's palace. Indeed his small hands were thickly callused. Pieter was pretty as a girl with delicate features, a straight nose, high cheekbones, and large green eyes with a blond thatch on top, now plastered to his head by his swim over to the official party. He had virtually no hair on his body, just wisps under his arms and at the fork of his legs, with hardly a dusting on his lower legs and arms. A beautiful beardless boy of quite unusual coloration for these parts.

Through his interpreter, the Sultan asked the boy about matters nautical. As the carpenter's apprentice, Pieter was knowledgeable about the ship's construction and answered the questions readily enough, turning to point out different features. He spoke animatedly and intelligently without the diffidence one might expect from a boy of humble station, called before his elders and betters, entirely nude, with a crowd of onlookers close to hand, chattering and pointing at him.

Pieter did feel awkward, standing there stark naked in front of an audience, feet squelching in the wet strand of the beach, with everyone else fully dressed and shod and standing on the dry sand of the shore proper, but he often went naked aboard ship in the low latitudes. He liked the kiss of the tropic sun on his bare skin and would go for weeks without clothing. After months of sailing the low latitudes his skin was uniformly bronzed. So he chatted politely with the potentate since that was clearly Tasman's wish.

For his part the Sultan was enthralled by the musicality of the boy's voice, the animation in his face, and the delightful play of muscles as the boy turned this way or that and raised his arms to point or to explain with gestures. From his tiny red nipples to a deeply indented navel, to narrow hips framing a surprisingly ample manhood for one so slight in build, Pieter was real beauty. He carried so little body fat that his flat belly showed a tracery of downward pointing veins just under the skin. The beat of his heart was visible on the left side of his smooth chest. He was virtually hairless, only a tiny tangle of blond hairs around the base of his cock, with none on his smooth ball sac.

The youth's aplomb showed that he was comfortable with nudity even with everyone else around him fully clothed. Yes, the sultan thought, a beauty like that should always be naked, his beauty a gift to everyone with an eye for a lovely lad. He was sleek and smooth and deeply tanned, his wiry physique a vision of youthful male pulchritude.

Like all the outlanders and indeed many of the local converts to Islam, the boy was uncircumcised. Just the tip of his cock peeked out of the smooth foreskin, the glans clearly outlined beneath. The face might be pretty as a girl's, but there was no question of the boy's masculinity, nude as he was, with his nicely shaped organs visible to all.

Tasman hoped the Sultan would not ask him to sell the boy. The VOC most definitely did not hand good Christian boys over to Oriental potentates to be debauched as harem slaves. The Sultan for his part was quite aware that such a request would be refused. Still he had at least got a close look at the pretty Dutch boy and engaged him in conversation. Sighing for what could never be, the Sultan continued on his way, looking back just once to catch the entrancing sight of the boy's perfectly formed buttocks, dimpling fetchingly as he waded out into the water then executed a graceful shallow dive to swim back to the careened ship.

"What did his high and mightiness want with ye lad?" Jans, the ship's carpenter asked.

"He asked a lot about the ship, but his eyes were always on me, Uncle Jan, looking me over -- all over." The boy said.

Jan nodded knowingly. Jan was twenty-three, a big handsome red-haired man, and very protective of his youthful helper. It was Jan and his cousin Hendrik the cook, two years younger who had protected the lad, indeed taken him under their wing, like Dutch uncles, though they were not related to the boy. Pieter was only fifteen when he joined the ship. Thanks to Jan and and his cousin, Pieter was still a virgin, quite unlike the other two boys aboard. Both men were experienced sailors who knew what could befall pretty boys on long voyages. As long as a boy was not forced, they had no complaints, but Pieter was as yet unwilling.

Most of the crew were agreeable to leaving it up to the boy's free choice too. Pieter was well liked, hard working and dutiful, always ready to lend a hand, happy to throw his wiry strength into hauling on a line, shifting cargo, or scrubbing the deck. The men loved to watch little Pieter at that task, on his knees, pushing a scrub brush back and forth, a nude sailor boy, taut brown butt cheeks flexing, crinkly hole visible in between, genitals dangling between his slender thighs, back and shoulder muscles rippling as he thrust forward and back. Almost like being on all fours to get pronged.

Actually the boy was not only unselfconscious about his frequent nudity, he seemed mostly unaware of the effect it had on many of the crew. Isolation at sea aside, Pieter was quite the prettiest thing they had ever seen, regardless of gender, so virtually everyone wanted him, to take him carnally.

If others thought it was rather unfair the way the boy seemed to tease everyone, running around bare-ass so much, none of them cared to cross Jan and Hendrik. To the cousins, Pieter was like the little brother they had left at home. No harm would come to him on their watch.

Regardless of his availability, he was a delight to watch swarming up the rigging to the crow's nest where his keen eyesight helped guide the ship. The boy had a head for heights and liked to scramble around the rigging for fun, swinging on lines from one mast to the next, hanging upside down from a spar like from a trapeze, repelling down the mast to get down on deck faster than anyone else. He was athletic and acrobatic, the firm but small muscles of his clean limbs bunching and moving erotically under his tanned skin.

The boy had a sense of humor and an irreverent streak that had endeared him to the crew. This sometimes led to practical jokes like when he swung upside down past the bosun and snatched his jack of rum right out of his hand as he leaned his head back to drink, passing it back to him on the return swing to general merriment, even the bosun's.

Yet, he was not a disciplinary problem. His minor infractions never required the attention of an officer so drew no more than an occasional smack with a tawse on his bare rump or a spanking from the master carpenter himself. He looked so cute afterwards, standing there nude, rubbing his reddened butt cheeks with both hands, trying to look contrite over his infraction but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye that let you know he would do it again.

The work party in Palembang Harbor went at it with a will, scraping, caulking, and repairing dry rot when necessary. They knew they would soon be off on a long voyage of exploration. This was the ship that would get them safely home. The work was tiring, sweaty and dirty but Pieter was naked anyway; the grime would wash off, with no need to bother about wet clothes or dirty laundry.

Off duty Pieter like to dive from the stern of the ship into the green waters, stroking back and forth in the warm waters of the harbor. He loved to swim, to feel the water slide past his bare body, to revel in his mastery of this alien element. Many sailors never learned to swim their whole lives. Pieter could hardly remember a time when he could not swim. At one point, he stopped suddenly and jack knifed, doing a surface dive which briefly flashed his pretty rump as he plunged to the bottom of the harbor, returning with a shiny silver coin. Untarnished, it must have been dropped overboard just recently.

"Look what I found, Uncle Jan!" he said excitedly, while treading water.

"Finders keepers," the carpenter acknowledged with a nod. The boy saw little coin as it was. Good for him.

He swam to shore and lay down on the beach, resting, taking in the very smell of the sea. Though some thought it a sour smell, he had always found it intoxicating. The boy looked utterly alluring, lying on the white sand, eyes closed, small, naked, hairless, his physique so trim and taut, angelic features relaxed as he dozed, unconcerned that with his legs spread apart he was totally exposed: even his well formed genitals and the small hole between his buttocks.

Once Tasman was satisfied that she was ready, the Zeehaen and her sister ship, the Heemskerck, put out to sea. The governor general of the VOC Anthony Van Diemen wanted a systematic survey of southern waters, a task he had entrusted to Abel Tasman and his more experienced navigator Francis Visscher. Tasman's mission was to locate the Great Unknown Land to the South, shown vaguely positioned on maps with the Latin name of Terra Australis Incognita.

This was an unknown continent that geographers were sure must exist somewhere south of the equator to balance the land masses north and south of that line. The primitive understanding of physics in those days suggested that the spinning Earth would otherwise fall over with catastrophic results, like an unbalanced child's toy top or gyroscope.

Actually the Northern Hemisphere has twice as much land area as the Southern, 39 percent land north of the equator versus only 19 percent percent south of that line, quite accidentally, from continental drift.

The ships were headed for the southern ocean, called either the Great South Sea or the Pacific Ocean. Perversely, their course was first southwest across the width of the Indian Ocean with the prevailing wind to the island of Mauritius near Madagascar. They set out in August 1642. The steady winds from the East Indies to Madagascar were why that vast island, the world's fourth largest, was largely settled from Asia. At Mauritius their ships caught the westerlies in those warm latitudes then ran east before the wind. It was easy sailing for the first three thousand miles after their eastward turn.

Chapter 2. Tasmania and Tonga

The long voyage eastward gave Pieter much time to think. He had been watching the other boys, Jakob and Hans, seeing how they gave themselves to the older males, responding enthusiastically to their advances, often from more than one at a time. Jakob, an outgoing seventeen year old, was half a head taller than Pieter, with dark curly hair and a frame like a gangly colt. Hans was a quiet lad Pieter's age, very much in Jakob's shadow, slight and almost as short as Pietr, with his straight brown hair close cropped.

The sailors decided that their bum boys should be on display full-time, to cheer the men up with the unhindered display of their trim physiques and round rumps. So they took away their clothing. Now Jakob and Hans would be nude all the time like Pieter was. Jakob and Hans told Pieter that didn't really mind running around naked all the time. After all, so did he, but they didn't like how the men had taken razors to their armpits and groins, denuding them, depriving them of their first tokens of incipient manhood rendering them smooth boys once again.

In solidarity, Pieter took a razor and denuded himself like this two friends, though he had so little there that it took but a moment. It made little difference in his appearance, he had had just wisps to start with and not for very long anyway. It would be a long time for anything much to sprout down there again. Pieter found he rather like the way the tube of his cock sprang cleanly from his belly wall. If a boy was going to be naked anyway, he might as well go all the way and be cock proud and as bare as possible.

For the sake of morale, the captain ignored the obvious goings-on. Sailors were a rough bunch at the best of times. That is why flogging and caning were standard punishments aboard ship. Sailors who had an opportunity for sexual release not only worked better, they got into fewer arguments and fights, especially since the two boys put out for all and sundry, rather than played favorites, which could incite jealousies.

Pieter's friends admitted to considerable disappointment in their love lives. The boys wanted sexual excitement yes, for they were lusty lads, but they craved tenderness and companionship as well. Unfortunately, the older men seemed interested only in physical pleasure. They never wanted to linger, to just hold the boys, to listen to the boys talk of their hopes and dreams, of their fears and their disappointments. They had no tenderness in them.

Of course the two boys had each other and their friendship with Pieter, but they were rather disgruntled with the shallowness of their relationships with their casual lovers. They invited Pieter to join them in a trio, since they were all of an age, but he declined. Pieter realized the boys wanted both sex and friendship, romantic love in a word, and he wasn't prepared to go that far with Jakob and Hans, though he certainly liked the lads well enough. Still their words gave the young carpenter something to think about.

At night Pieter shared the small woodworking shop with Jans, sleeping on a pallet right beside the big man. Sometimes he had caught a hungry look on the older male's face, but Jan had never reached his hand out to stroke the boy's bare body, no matter how tempting it looked in the moonlight, so pale and hairless and naked and so very close. It was up to Pieter to make things happen.

"Uncle Jan, do you think I am beautiful?" the boy asked, looking at the big man on the next pallet.

"Foolish question. Yes, of course you are. What are you getting at boy?".

The red head rolled onto his side, one hand raised uncertainly. What should he say to this lovely creature he had protected for so long. The boy took the carpenter's callused hand and placed it on his manhood, looking up at him appealingly.

"Uncle Jan. I think I am ready now. Will you teach me to make love to a man?"

With a groan of joy the big man hugged the boy to him, rocking back and forth.

"At last! Thank you, God. Yes, Pieter, I will. And I promise I will be gentle with you. I have wanted you for so long, but I would not take advantage of you. I made myself that promise right from the start."

The older male took the boy in his arms, stroking his chest and belly, rubbing his tiny red nipples, nibbling his ear, cooing and soothing the boy but letting him feel the strength in his arms. He pulled the boy to his chest and kissed him, thrusting his tongue into his mouth. Hesitantly at first, but with growing ardor, Pieter responded, kissing, stroking, whimpering a little as he felt Jan's upright manhood press against his belly and encounter his own rigid member. The youth felt rather overmatched in that department.

Jan reached lower and stroked Pieter's erection which was nothing to be ashamed of really. The boy's breathing speeded up. He felt lightheaded, flushed and incredibly hot despite the cool of the night breeze playing over their skin.

Jan was intoxicated. The boy was so small and beautiful, a delicate blossom, his slender physique utterly alluring, tanned, trim, wiry, with a well corrugated front and a fine round rump in back. For a boy with such a slight build, his genitals were generous, though the ball sac was hairless and pulled tight to the fork of the legs. His shaft was tumescent, almost painfully erect, purpled, and throbbing with the beat of his heart.

Jan showed Pieter how a man pleasures another man's cock with his tongue and lips. Pieter couldn't believe how good that felt, having his rigid manhood surrounded by warmth and wetness, to feel the flutter of tongue on the head of his cock, the tip poking into the tiny slit at the end, or the gentle pull of lips on the rim of the glans. He moaned inarticulately as the older male inducted him into the age old fraternity of males pleasuring their kind, using tongue and fingers to stimulate the sweet spot just under the helmet, ultimately bringing him to a shuddering orgasm. When the boy came in his mouth, Jan swallow his gift then kissed him hard, letting him share the taste of his own male essence. The boy thought this so very exciting and sexy; he hugged himself and squealed with delight.

Then it was Pieter's turn to apply his lesson, though not lying down as before, side by side. Jan stood up, holding onto the overhead beam for balance as the ship rolled. He loomed over the small lad, a tower of strength and masculinity. The boy went to his knees, gazing up worshipfully at his new lover, looking small and submissive. The boy readily accepted his subordinate role as one ordained by his youth, his inexperience, and his small hairless physique, so much less manly than the older male's.

As ever, Jan found himself responding to the boy's goodness and innocence, breaking him in very gently and carefully, not face fucking him like the other lads had to put up with, but letting the boy proceed at his own pace. Tentative at first, Pieter was soon pleasuring Jan in turn, slurping, and licking, and sucking, careful with his teeth, as he had been warned. He so very much wanted to please Jan in turn, happy and grateful for his lesson.

Pieter wasn't so good at deep throating a cock that first time; willing though he was, his gag reflex left him choking, mouth watering, spit drooling out the sides. Jan did not mind. No point trying to force himself deeper. The boy was willing, even eager. His clumsiness would pass with practice. He just needed time to accustom himself to a fleshy invader down his throat, to learn to time his breathing with Jan's withdrawal as he pumped in and out of the moist channel that gripped his manhood.

That first evening, Jan introduced Pieter to sucking cock, but spared the boy's ass for the next night. He knew from personal experience years ago that a boy's first penetration could be scary and painful -- even humiliating and shameful. He never wanted Pieter to be ashamed of anything they did together or afraid that Jan would hurt him. No, he would never play rough with this gentle and trusting lad nor let any one else do it either.

The next day, Pieter could hardly contain his excitement. The whole day he was at his most irrepressible and then some. Hendrik guessed at the reason from the loving look in Jans' eyes.

"His choice." the carpenter said simply, confirming his guess. Hendrik nodded. That was good enough for him. He trusted his cousin implicitly, though he had to conceal his own disappointment. He had always wanted the lad too, though like Jan, he respected the boy's right to chose or to say no.

The next evening Jan stripped excitedly, practically dancing with anticipation. Pieter knew this was the night he and Jan would become lovers in the fullest sense of the word. Jan chose to make love to the boy face to face. It would be two people making love, people with names and faces, not just two hormone charged bodies. He kissed the lad passionately, hands roaming all over his lithe form. He put the boy on his back with his heels in the air and knelt between the slender legs. While they kissed again, the older male's large virile member slid along Pieter's cleavage, poking, prodding and playing with the anal ring, teasing him before the actual fuck. Jan fingered the small hole, tugging with his thumbs at the crinkly ring, pushing in, lubricating the orifice with a bit of grease, preparing him for his first penetration.

Pieter felt pain as Jans's manhood stretch his anal ring, but Jan paused to give the boy time to adjust to his girth. With a nod from Pieter Jan slid in a bit further. Jan was gratified that the boy's tiny orifice with its crinkly folds, could accept his truncheon of a cock. At a pace set by the boy himself, he gradually slipped it into the velvet glove up to the hilt, earning a blissful sigh from his partner.

Jan was pleased not only for himself but because he was bringing pleasure to a boy who had till now been uncertain of his own longings. As Jan started pumping, they fell into a rhythm, Pieter raising his rump to meet the descending shaft as it impaled his ass, inexpertly using his internal muscles to squeeze the invading penis. It went on for some time, both males lightheaded with lust, wanting to prolong the feeling, their bodies grappled together and slippery with sweat. The lovers climaxed together, Pieter's seed shot out as a loose string from the cock to his face, a white streak on face and chest and belly while Jans' warm wetness spurted into him.

Afterwards they lay together, bellies pasted together by sweat and cum, the older male's cock still in the boy though gradually softening. Their pulses slowed, their breathing grew more even as they enjoyed the afterglow of lovemaking. Pieter smiled giddily at his lover, making Jan happy that the boy had not suddenly been overcome with guilt and shame. Jan reached up to brush stray strands of blond hair from the boy's exquisite features, his knuckles brushing a smooth cheek that had never seen a razor nor had any need to. They kissed sweetly then lay together quietly, gathering their strength for the second round.

For variety, Jan next took the boy on all fours, doggy style. Pieter giggled as he realized this was the position he had seen so often with farm animals back home in Guilderland. He said so to the older man. Jan swatted him playfully on the rump.

"Aye, so ye are under me, lad, like a filly mounted by a stallion, but never forget, with this tackle between yer legs you are a proper colt yourself!"

He eased into the boy's hungry ass, the hole already twitching and eager for penetration, reaching under the boy's belly to toy with his own manhood, Pieter's own manly tackle. He pumped in and out, marveling at the velvet softness within, holding onto the boy's sharp hipbones with his fingertips. He ran his hands along the chevron of the boy's ribs, to his shoulders, back along the bumps of his spine to his cleavage, marveling at the strength and firmness of a boy with so slight a frame. Once again, their passions rose together to a climax, their essence spurting at the same time. Then they collapsed to the pallet. Jan quickly rolled off to let the boy breathe more easily. They lay side by side, holding hands, gazing at each other, silent, and content.

All went well for the next few days, till Pieter realized how badly he must have hurt Hendrik's feelings, leaving him totally out of his new relationship. Very nervously he asked Jan about him and Hendrik. Were they ever lovers?"

"No, not really, though we have eased each other with our hands a time or two. But I can guess why you are asking. You want to share yourself with him too? Is that it."

Pieter nodded speechless. He was so afraid he would alienate Jans, but he was also terribly attracted to Hendrik's dark good looks. It had always been the three of them. Why couldn't all three be lovers then?

Displaying more wisdom than his years would have indicated, Jan sighed and said philosophically.

"The heart wants what the heart wants. Yes, I am willing to share, if Hendrik is."

Hendrik was. The next few weeks saw a happy trio cementing their relationship. The cousins did not make love to each other, not a first, though sometimes, when they shared Pieter, each taking an orifice, their hands touched each other's bodies intimately. Both were handsome young men who, in time, came to enjoy each other carnally though Pieter was always at the center of their three way relationship. Meanwhile Pieter made it quite clear to other potential suitors that he had found the men he wanted in his life, thank you. Some of the crew were disappointed for themselves though happy for the lively boy they had long since taken to their hearts. Others were simply jealous but powerless to act.

In late November Pieter sighted a new coastline, a storm tossed shore too dangerous to land upon. The ships sailed south of the land then followed the coast north. Realizing it was a large island, Tasman called it Van Diemen's land (later named Tasmania). The seas were too rough for a landing. Instead Pieter swam from the ship to shore and planted a flag, one small naked Dutch boy, claiming, for a far off republic, what was an inhabited island whose natives took no notice of these proceedings. The water was rather cold for these latitudes though the weather was warm. The month of December was in the summer season south of the equator.

Too bad some painter of historical subjects never captured it on canvass. All the really famous explorers have been immortalized in oils, planting their flag, saying a prayer, taking possession in a formal ceremony watched by awestruck natives. Perhaps the subject was thought too naughty. The Tasmanians were a primitive race who never wore clothing of any kind. A painting of a naked blond boy among equally naked savages would not convey the imperial pomp the occasion demanded. Actually there was no one about when Pieter set foot briefly on Tasmania, which is more than Tasman himself ever did.

Truthfully though, a painting to immortalize Pieter's extraordinary beauty would have been worth the effort all by itself. How much more worthy of immortality in oils was a lovely slender lad like Pieter compared to the overstuffed goddesses and over-muscled heroes in a Reubens painting. Of course convention required the painter to conceal the fork of the boy's legs. It would never do to expose his manhood. Either his near leg would be stepping forward or, in the coy conventions of European nude paintings, a scrap of fabric would find itself suspended miraculously in a strategic position, in this case, a corner of the flag wafted into place by a wayward zephyr.

From Tasmania the captain headed east 1250 miles (2000 km) and became the first European to 'encounter' New Zealand's South Island, which he believed was part of South America. Tasman had no idea of the immensity of the Pacific Ocean. Even from New Zealand, about halfway across that ocean South America was nearly 6,000 miles away, and more by any practical sailing route. Tasman did take the opportunity to name the sea he had just crossed the Tasman Sea. Such is an explorer's immortality, to put his name on something. Look at Henry Hudson with a river and a large bay to his credit. Who would remember him otherwise?

The Dutch did not dare to land, chased off by fierce looking men in canoes, the native Maori. Further along the shore, they tried again to land, putting into a likely looking bay, but the natives seized and killed four men in one of their small boats. Tasman hastily left Murder Bay, as he called it. The next European visitor to New Zealand would be Captain Cook more than a century later.

The expedition got a different reception in the Tonga archipelago. Later named the Friendly Islands for their hospitable natives, the islands proved a haven for the weary sailors. The Tongans readily traded foodstuffs including pigs, chickens, fish, and fresh fruit and vegetable, for iron nails and steel knives. Metal was priceless to their stone age culture. The fruit was welcome against the scurvy since the expedition's supply of lemons had long since run out, and scurvy grass did not grow in these regions.

The Tongans were Polynesians who practically lived on the water, fishing, swimming, diving. They readily identified with fellow mariners and took a special liking to Pieter. At landfall the boy had plunged into the sea and swum over to their canoes, getting hauled aboard by willing hands, making instant friends. The natives appreciated they way the lad had entrusted himself to them, flinging himself unarmed and naked into their midst. No strangers to nudity themselves, they appreciated the boy's graceful beauty and ready smile. The Tongans were fascinated by his blond locks, grown long over the months. A tactile people, their hands were all over the boy, fingering his yellow hair, stroking his back, some boldly sliding over his rump.

Looking on, Jan realized that his young lover had not worn a stitch since before Palembang, more than half a year earlier. He shook his head indulgently. The bare-assed boy was clearly in his element. He used sign language to communicate with youths his age, competed in foot races and swimming contests, and showed off his acrobatic skills: tumbling, doing hand stands or even walking on his hands.

A large boned and muscular race, the Tongans struck poses to show off their strong builds. Pieter felt their muscles and was duly impressed. At their urging, he tried a pose or two, though less successfully. His wiry physique was more about quality than quantity. That did not keep his native counterparts from putting their hands to him, to feel his toned musculature, not only on shoulders and arms, but back and buttocks as well. Could he help it if, in all the excitement, his virile member plumped up and lifted off, bobbing in front of him?

The Tongan youths grinned at that frank sign of his feelings and hoisted the Dutch lad onto their shoulders, parading him across the village more like a trophy than a hero, conducting him to the young men's lodge and had their fun with him. What could Pieter do, surrounded by lusty youths, their hands everywhere on his trim body, touching him, spreading him, opening him. He was engulfed in a tangle of limbs and bodies, kissed, petted, stroked, prodded, and poked. He surrendered to the good feelings their ministrations caused in him, letting them play with him as they would.

He swam back to the ship in the evening, a bit sore in his nether regions, but with a big smile on his face.

"And just what have you been up to young man?" Jan asked him as he clambered aboard. "As if I didn't know." he said with a sigh, shaking his head in mock reproach.

In truth Jan was glad his young lover had had an afternoon of frolic. It would do the lad a lot of good. Hendrik agreed. The worst thing they could do was act too possessively toward little Pieter. This was his time. He was so very young, and the juices were flowing. Unlooked for wisdom indeed in two sailors who were themselves very young men.

The Tongans threw a feast to celebrate their successful encounter. Both sides were satisfied with the terms of trade. Roast pig was the main course along with many other tasty dishes, yams, breadfruit, stuffed peppers. The aroma of pork made mouths water in anticipation.

Poor Pieter did get in over his head during the farewell feast, imbibing the local homemade brew called kava, made from the root of the pepper plant. He was not used to alcohol anyway, but now past his seventeenth birthday, he insisted on trying it. Alas, the effect of the potent brew was magnified by his small body weight. The lad was rather green as they carried his stricken form back to the Zeehaen. There was no shortage of volunteers to cradle the lad in his lap as the longboat rowed out to the ship.

Chapter 3. Fiji

The expedition next threaded its way through a series of reefs and islands. The second night out, Pieter, still unsteady from the kava, lost his grip as he climbed out to the head and tumbled into the rough water. He managed to stay afloat, coughing and spitting, and treading water, but with water down his pipes, he could not call out properly for rescue before the expedition left him behind, sailing away oblivious of his plight. The morning found him stranded on a sandy cay, just offshore from a wooded island.

He realized that the first thing he needed was drinking water. He swam across the narrow stretch of water and found the outlet to a stream splashing over dark basalt rocks in a small waterfall. Grateful he drank his fill as much to settle his still queasy stomach as for hydration. He sank to his butt in the sand, as he contemplated his situation.

The expedition had sailed on without him, never intending to stop in these islands anyway. No one knew where he was in this maze of reefs and shoals and islands. Even if the captain thought he was still alive and not drowned, they were not likely to turn back and look who knows where for one lost boy. Pieter was on his own, without any tools or weapons, food or clothing. He was naked, unarmed, lost somewhere in the Great South Sea, the very first European to land on those islands later named Fiji.

For one giddy moment he wondered if he should claim the islands for the VOC or name them after himself. Then he sobered up. A well watered island would be inhabited, but by whom? Friend or foe? Some natives of the South Seas were instinctively hostile, others friendly. Some were headhunters, others cannibals. Still others would lust after his beauty. What could he look forward to in these islands? Rape, decapitation, a cannibal feast with himself on the menu?

For his part, Tasman, though lucky as a sailor, was unlucky as an navigator. He should have listened to Visscher more than he did. Leaving the dangerous waters of Fiji, he sailed north then west along the north coast of New Guinea and missed the connecting strait between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. By the time the voyage ended he would have sailed entirely around the continent of Australia without the slightest notion that it was there!

From the forlorn shore he was cast upon Pieter looked north across the sea, knowing that somewhere beyond the horizon was the expedition. Jan and Hendrik would be frantic with worry or maybe resigned in sorrow to his death. He could visualize it so clearly in his mind's eye. If only he could sail along a arc like a cannonball's flight and arrive safely among his friends. Alas, a wish no matter how fervent cannot affect physical reality. Nor was it likely that God would send an angel to bear him to the Zeehaen, no matter how much he entreated Him. He was stuck there alone.

In that moment of weakness, the lad felt sorry for himself and began to cry. His was a disheartening predicament, a crushing burden on a seventeen year old boy, castaway, alone, naked, and defenseless. So if he did give in to self pity and to tears, who can blame him? He was really a good lad, a plucky kid suddenly thrust into an impossible situation.

After a while Pieter was all cried out. He pulled himself together and thought hard about his future, about escape. Somehow he had to follow the expedition, sail north and west back to the East Indies, ideally for Batavia, the Dutch colonial capital. He would need a boat, food, containers for water, and weapons for protection. A compass was impossible, but he could steer by the stars and the sun. As for clothing, no, he would play this hand out as he had for so long, not worrying about raiment but living just as God had made him. This far into the tropics, lack of clothing was really irrelevant.

First some kind of weapon. Perhaps a stick or a sharp stone. In the end he chose a branch from a dead tree as a cudgel till a better weapon presented itself. He would assume till proved otherwise that every hand was against him, but would not take aggressive action that could alienate a potential friend and ally.

He started upstream, letting the creek lead him to higher ground so he could survey the situation like he had from the crow's nest of his ship. As the land rose, he realized he was on an island of moderate size with larger ones not terribly far away. Smoke in the distance suggested a couple of villages so he decided to stay near the shore, where he might find a boat. He would likely have to steal it but not right away. He had to procure supplies too.

Pieter walked near the shore but not right on the beach where he would be easily visible. The land was a jungle, warm and moist, with tall trees and an understory of ferns and shrubs growing in the dark soil. He had to watch where he put his feet, patches of bare volcanic rock could cut the soles. He hoped he would not run into predators like the Sumatran tiger. A youth with a stick would not have much chance in such an encounter. He wondered if an oceanic island would have snakes. He knew sea snakes swam in tropic waters and that they could be dangerous. All sea snakes were venomous.

After a walk of an hour, Pieter came upon a religious site, an altar set before a large statue of a head and torso carved from an outcrop of stone, presumably one of their pagan gods. He found large pottery jars filled with prepared foodstuffs, though rotten and inedible now. Two others were filled with something that smelled all too much like kava gone bad.

Obviously the natives visited this site from time to time and left sacrifices to their gods, If Pieter could find a boat, he could wait for the next ceremony and appropriate the foodstuffs for his own needs, filling the kava jars with water for his voyage. From the fires he had spotted, the island was inhabited, at least the other side of it. Yes, that would be his plan. Steal a boat and hide it, waiting for a chance to take the supplies he needed.

Just as he was congratulating himself on his cleverness, the boy came around the base of the statue and found the bones of a human sacrifice. The skull had been crushed, but it was still attached, and the skeleton was whole. So they were neither head hunters nor cannibals but they did make human sacrifices. Very likely they would leap at the chance to sacrifice a rare specimen like himself. Blonds were scarce in the South Seas.

Meanwhile he had to find a way to survive while waiting for his chance. He needed some kind of shelter and some way to get food to eat. What he wouldn't give for a steel knife or some fish hooks.

Then just off shore he spotted a native canoe. Its mast was down, and it was adrift. He swam out to the boat, diving under the breakers to reach deeper water. He knew better than to seize the gunwale of the boat in the middle. His weight might tip it over and swamp the vessel. Instead he swam to the prow of the boat and hoisted himself aboard. It was manned by a dead native, all bloated up. He had angry welts all up and down his arms, the mark of a jelly fish.

The vessel had a triangular sail and a steering oar, no challenge at all for a Dutch boy to navigate, rather like his old skiff on the Zuider Zee. Best of all the boat had a length of braided rope, fishing lines and bone hooks, and a fishing spear with twin points, though it wasn't any good as a weapon. Pieter also found a knife made of bone. Finally there was a fire bow for making a fire. He had seen one of those used on Tonga.

Shoving the dead body overboard, dirty loincloth and all, along with several rotting fish, he steered for a small creek he had located along the shore. It was just deep enough to float the canoe though he had to jump out and pull it along. He dragged it far up into the forest, farther than anyone who just stopped by for water was likely to look. This was where he would keep the boat till the natives returned with their offerings to their god. Then he went back smoothing down the sand where the hull had scraped a track in the streambed, confident that the current would wash away any trace including his footprints in the shallows. He actually swam the last half of the distance then stepped out onto hard sand.

So much for the boat. Now for food and shelter. In the tropic climate, he could live entirely outdoors, but it would be nice to come in out of the wind and the rain during storms. He fished in the shallows with the fish spear, standing quietly then striking hard, quickly getting the hang of compensating for the refraction of the water. Starting a fire was more of a problem. The Polynesian boys on Tonga had made it look so easy. Use the bowstring to twirl an arrow in a small hole in a piece of wood. The heat of the friction could set dry shavings ablaze, then twigs and finally branches. The prospect of raw fish was so unappetizing he kept at it till he got a good fire going and cooked his first meal on the island. Welcome as it was, it needed taro or yams or fruit to make it a fully satisfying meal.

Two days later, on a scout from his initial base on a small knoll, he found an abandoned hut and garden where natives had raised their crops of yams, taro, and breadfruit. Though grown half wild, the remnants would let Pieter eke out an existence, but they would not be good provisions for a long sea voyage. Raw crops had to be prepared for consumption in ways unknown to the boy and with pots and equipment he did not have. About the only way he could prepare yams or taro was boil them in a water-filled pit into which he rolled rocks heated in a fire. That would have to do him while he waited.

It took well over a month till he heard drums approaching the shore. He watched from hiding. The native canoes were impressive, giants even. Called Druas, they were double hulled and carried crews of a hundred or more. They were propelled at fantastic speed, fifteen knots at least by mat sails though also equipped with paddles. Such speeds were not attained by Western sailing vessels till the Clipper ships of the mid nineteenth century. Ordinary sailing ships like the Dutch had could make about five knots with a good wind.

There were two such canoes, each with a trussed up captive. They shot through a gap in the reef then ran right up onto the beach. The warriors and priests jumped onto the strand marched to the altar and cleared away the spoiled food and drink, replacing them with fresh. Their rites took place over three days with much chanting, drumming, and drinking of kava.

One of the natives stumbled upon Pieter's hut, though why he had come so far from the others was not clear. He looked at the boy's nakedness hungrily, grabbing his own crotch in one hand and grinning, his intention to rape the boy obvious. Pieter held his hands up to placate him, but the man pressed on with a predatory grin, a stone headed war club raised threateningly in his hand. He must have been confident in his size and strength for he did not call out or go back for reinforcements. What was little Pieter to do. The man was twice his size. He couldn't very well fight it out, war club to bone knife. He would simply be overpowered.

It suddenly came to him that small and nimble and sober really might have a chance against large, clumsy, and drunk as the warrior charged at him. He dodged desperately then ran along a familiar trail heading downhill, the warrior lurching after him. The boy ran toward a sapling growing right in the middle of the trail, grabbed it and swung himself around it 180 degrees, then leaned over and stretched out his right leg at the big man's belly. The warrior's momentum told against him, as he ran onto the outstretched foot. Although Pieter lost his grip and fell to the earth, the big man fared worse. He flopped onto the ground, gasping, his diaphragm paralyzed, leaving him unable to breathe. Pieter slashed his neck twice with his bone knife from the canoe then finished the man off with his own war club, smashing his skull with vicious blows fueled by his fear.

Luckily the volcanic island held many small caves and crevices, so he dragged the body over to one and dropped it in, clearing the traces of their brief combat. With any luck, the man would not be missed till the natives prepared to leave. So it proved to be. Although the natives tried signaling by blowing on sea shells, they finally had to sail away, less two human sacrifices and one missing warrior.

Pieter was elated though cautious. Perhaps the natives had left a rear guard. He gave them an extra day then crept near to find the altar deserted with two fresh kills at its foot. The jars were filled with tasty cooked provisions and the jugs with kava. It took two more days to empty the kava jars, get them to the stream and scrub them with sand and water so he could fill them with drinking water. The hard part was the larger jars full of provisions. He had to empty each of them half way then carry it to the canoe, returning for refills till all the provisions were safely packed away, both food and water plus he weapons.

He added coconuts to the bottom of the boat. The Tongan boys had shown him how to shinny up the trunk of a palm with a rope between the ankles for traction. The milk of the coconut was a refreshing beverage and its meat delicious. The bone knife and war club would let him first tap the coconuts for their milk, then split them for their meat. With all that plus the fish he could catch at sea, Pieter had every reason to believe himself well provisioned for a long journey, though he would probably have to take on water more than once.

Pieter had taken the precaution of trying the vessel out empty to get some idea of her handling characteristics. He was well satisfied with her. She could not match the speed of the great war canoes he had seen, but she was nimble enough. On a bright day with no indication of bad weather, Pieter shoved off, glad to be away from the island at last. He had been there about two months.

Chapter 4. The Coral Sea

Pieter's course was west and a bit north, proceeding on dead reckoning toward the East Indies. He could figure his latitude roughly by the stars but his longitude was just a guess and no one had good charts of these seas anyway. That is why the expedition had been sent out in the first place.

After two days, he sailed past one of the larger islands of the Fiji group, through the sheltered waters of its lagoon, protected by the surrounding coral reef. Unfortunately he attracted the attention of the crew of one of the great war canoes who wondered what a naked light skinned sailor with yellow hair was doing in their waters. The Drua turned and came after him, soon closing the gap. No way his heavily laden small canoe could outsail theirs. The warriors jeered at little Pieter small and naked and alone in the canoe. Some of the warriors in the prow of the Drua even stripped away their loincloths and wagged their cocks at the boy in derision. He did not need a translation to know that he was dead if they caught him.

In desperation he threw half his provisions overboard to lighten the boat and lessen its draft and increase its speed. They he sailed directly for the fringing reef, praying his shallow canoe could scrape over it atop a carefully timed ocean swell which would momentarily increase the depth of water over the jagged reef. He steered at full speed, into the wave, straight into the maelstrom as the swell broke over the reef. The rise of waters was just enough to carry him safely across, and his speed just enough to overcome the pressure of the wave to push him back into the lagoon. The big war canoe sheared off at the last minute, though not without scraping a hole in its bow. With evening upon them, the natives realized their quarry would get away in the dark before they could sail through the safe channel in the reef, so they turned back to port frustrated.

Eventually the boy's canoe arrived at a string of volcanic islands, the archipelago called the New Hebrides in later years, now the republic of Vanuatu. None of the islands looked promising. Their slopes were steep and the water ran off so quickly there were few permanent streams. He had enough water for now, and these islands did not promise much in the way of fresh food. Between the fish he caught and his other provisions, he could make it to the next bunch of islands.

The sea that lay beyond the Hebrides was a natural wonder. Safely away from hostile Fiji, Pieter took the time to admire the seascape. The sea was azure, dotted with green coral islets fringed by white sandy beaches. Puffy white clouds sailed overhead. At night the stars glittered all over the upturned bowl of the sky. Phosphorescence made the waters gleam where the canoe passed or a fish splashed, including some formidable looking sharks. Once or twice the predators had stolen a fat fish the boy was just about to land in the boat. Occasionally he came upon a reef where he could anchor for the night.

In time he pressed on to the group of islands off the southeast coast of the island of New Guinea, second largest in the world. The Louisiade Archipelago is volcanic and covered with rain forests. That gave the lad every indication that he could refill his empty water jugs so he eased toward the shore of one of the islands. At the mouth of a creek he pulled his canoe up on the bank and cleaned the jugs with sand and water then filled them to the brim.

Just upstream of the mouth of the creek was a delightful pool where he could wash and swim. Pieter felt he was overdue for a bath in fresh water. Salt water just does not get the skin clean the way fresh water does. Without soap, all the lad had was sand and the oil of some leaves he picked and crushed, which left his skin rough but feeling clean and tingly and alive. While swimming he noticed too that fresh water did not support his body so well as salt. With his slender physique, more bone and muscle and less body fat than most, it was all he could do in salt water to float on his back with just his face and part of his chest out of the water. In fresh water, he actually had to scull his hands a bit to keep his mouth and nose in the air.

By now Pieter needed provisions, having jettisoned half of his original supply at the reef. So rather than put out to sea with just the refilled water jugs, Pieter decided to explore, to see what the island had to offer. Perhaps these natives were friendly. He was tired of fearing that every hand was raised against him. With the canoe drawn up into the creek and out of sight, Pieter set off on foot. He found the rain forest to be a wonderland of flowers growing on vines hung on the trees. Pieter picked some and wove them into a ring which he placed around his neck. An especially large bloom fitted right above his ear.

If only he had a mirror. With no beard to speak of, Pieter seldom used a mirror, just the occasional still pool of water or his reflection from a window back in Holland. Only once had he seen himself not as a mirror image, but as others saw him in the double mirror of a shop in Amsterdam. Funny how much the same and how different he looked. Pieter knew he was a beautiful youth. Everyone said so. He secretly wished he had had a chance to look at his naked rump the way others saw it. As far as he was concerned, a boy's rump was just as sexy as his manly organs and much more symmetrical: smooth and round and cleaved. If only there were males on this island who would appreciate his boyish rump.

Well he had done what he could to make himself clean and pretty with the bath and the flowers. Blossoms had a beauty of both form and fragrance to complement his own. On impulse he took a fragrant flower and rubbed it over his torso including down there. Now he was a sweet boy in every sense of the word.

Perhaps the youth can be forgiven a bit of vanity and naivete at this point. After everything he had been through, feeling good about himself was a return to normalcy. He had always been glad for his pretty face and trim physique and the way they turned heads. Too bad there was nobody about to tell him how attractive he was and how much they wanted him, to put their hands on his perky rump and stroke it. He almost pouted then realized how silly that was.

Actually he had been spotted by several youths from a nearby village. Dark skinned Melanesians, they were enthralled by the stranger's exotic looks and his utter unconcern in walking around totally nude. They considered how they could best approach the lovely creature without scaring him off. One of the boys decided to show himself while the others kept hidden. Let the first boy make friends before introducing the stranger to the others.

The dark youth was a little taller than Pieter and blessed with a sweet and honest countenance. So when Pieter saw the lad, he was not unduly alarmed. Perhaps they could be friends, he hoped. The boy had a stone knife stuck through a cord around his waist. He drew it slowly and laid it on the ground stepping away from it and turning around to show he had nothing else concealed on his person, nor could there be, given the skimpy loincloth on him: a brief triangle in front and just a cord in the back pressed deep into his crack. Pieter of course was naked and had been for the better part of a year. He laid his war club and bone knife on the ground and stopped halfway between them.

The native boy walked up to the Dutch lad and kissed him on both cheeks to show his intentions, sliding his hands down the blond's back to his rump, holding and squeezing the firm butt cheeks. Pieter returned his demonstration of friendship with a hug and a kiss. He could not help but notice that under his loincloth, the boy's member was hard. The native boy's tongue dueled with his and then they broke apart and grinned.

The native lad reached down and undid the cord holding up the scrap of cloth around his loins. Now he too was naked. They rubbed their bellies together, their cocks dueling. Then the native lad drew Pieter to the ground and laid on his back. Pieter took a position between the boy's dark legs and took his long hooded cock into his mouth. The native lad was so randy and so aroused by the exotic looks of his new friend that he did not take long in coming, spurting his seed into Pieter's mouth. Pieter kept his mouth on the cock, tonguing and teasing, knowing how sensitive a cock was right after ejaculation. The boy rolled his head laughing and crying for mercy. Suddenly the other three boys surrounded the couple. Pieter looked up in alarm, but the happy faces he saw around him showed he had nothing to fear. Almost as if he had got his wish, pretty Pieter now had an audience to perform for.

He went at it with a will. The isolation, fear, and celibacy of the last few months had left him with pent up desires. He could satisfy them today and in the process make friends who could help him on his way. This was so much better than hiding and running from hostile natives on Fiji.

Soon the blond boy was the center of a tangle of limbs, kissing, sucking, getting sucked and fucked, hands roaming everywhere. The native boys were clean limbed, with hardly any hair on their bodies and quite experienced in male sex. The customs of the islands kept young girls socially isolated from young men till courting was permitted. At one point, Pieter had straddled a boy, sinking back on his cock. Suddenly he felt another cockhead address his cleavage, he tried to turn to look but the boy standing over him grabbed his long blond locks and face fucked him. Fingers probed his nether hole right alongside the cock already inside, stretching him wider. Then a second cock replaced the fingers and slid into him.

Pieter was momentarily stunned by the enormity of the invasion. His pulse pounded and he went lightheaded with the rush of hormones, then surrendered to the good feelings coursing through his small body. Three sets of balls smacked together as the boys thrust into the Dutch boy's ass, withdrew a bit then plunged in again to the hilt. Another boy presented his cock to Pieter's mouth. He deep throated it, bobbing his head up and down, plugged now at both ends. One after another, in quick succession, all four boys came, the natives in Pieter's orifices and Pieter's own white gism spurting onto the black chest and belly of the first boy. They collapsed and rolled onto their backs on the ground, spent in every sense of that word.

Afterwards, Pieter tried to convey by sign language that he needed food. One of the boys ran off and brought back some bananas. Pieter thanked him, but what he really needed were provisions for his voyage. There was nothing for it but to take the boys to his canoe and show them his filled water jugs and empty pots for provisions. The boys looked very dubious as they realized what their new friend was asking of them.

The boys were happy to see a new face, but the local tribes were often at war, so a stranger usually meant an enemy. They were just boys who did not have much say in things. Grownups were so serious about strangers. If they brought Pieter to their village, the elders would probably kill Pieter or at least enslave him.

Over the next few days, the boys smuggled provisions to Pieter as best they could. They joined Pieter in swimming in the hidden pool then made love every afternoon. Pieter was glad for their help and their kindness and showed it by letting the boys play with his sexy body any way they wanted. Some of their practices like the double penetration were new and unusual to say the least. How much fun it would be to introduce Jan and Hendrik to some of their sexual tricks.

That thought made Pieter realize that he really must be sailing on. His stay on the island had been an idyll, but there was no life for a Dutch boy in these islands. He indicated by sign language that he must leave. The native boys kissed him tearfully and helped get his canoe to the sea, waving as he set the sail and pointed the prow west.

Pieter's course lay south of the island of New Guinea which presented a swampy, inhospitable, and inauspicious coast some 1500 miles long (2400 km), though the western third bore well to the northward away from his course. Occasionally he saw boats on the horizon but always steered away. Once a war canoe got close enough for its fierce warriors to see him clearly, a strange youth with golden hair. They wanted to take him and shook their spears threateningly, but the sudden onset of darkness, characteristic of nightfall in the tropics, allowed Pieter to escape in the dark.

The Dutch lad realized that, as the only European on these waters, he could trust no other navigators that he chanced upon. Alone, he could be easily overwhelmed by fishermen, much less the crew of a war canoe. As before he assumed that all strangers saw him as an enemy, a potential victim, mere naked prey to be tracked down and captured for torture, rape, enslavement, or consumption at a cannibal feast.

No further island groups detained him till the narrows of the Torres Strait where the Cape York Peninsula of Australia nearly meets the southern part of New Guinea. A string of islets and reefs barred the way. It was an unusual group of islands, stretching across the 100 mile wide strait, alluvial islands in the north, granite peaks to the south, coral cays in the center.

He had one scary encounter with a great salt water crocodile longer than his canoe which swam toward him. He had two large fish aboard that he had landed a little earlier. He threw those over the side. That bribe seemed to satisfy the reptile and he let the boy pass on.

Chapter 4. The East Indies

Pieter had not realized it, but he had 'discovered' the Torres Strait, passing from the Coral Sea and the Pacific Ocean proper to the Arafura Sea and the Timor Sea, the last one at least indisputably part of the Indian Ocean. The shallow seas between New Guinea and Australia were the breeding grounds of tropical storms which turned into typhoons, in the Pacific or cyclones in the Indian Ocean.

He sailed ever westward angling to the north in the hope of running into the East Indies. By now his blond locks touched his shoulders, contrasting beautifully with the shade of nut brown that the tropic sun had given to his skin. If only his lovers could see him now. They would have seen not just a youth even more beautiful than when they had been separated, but a confident young man who had proved himself to himself. He had sailed thousands of miles alone, made friends, dispatched or outwitted enemies, and was clearly nearing his goal. He had a fine canoe, the skill to sail it, the determination to proceed unafraid.

Unfortunately, Pieter's small craft was caught by the edges of a tropical storm. The wind and the waves were too much for the fragile craft. The mast snapped, the steering oar gave way, and the boat was swamped, his provisions lost and the water jugs contaminated. All Pieter could do was tie himself to the wreckage, hoping to stay afloat long enough to reach land, any land. He would take his chances with an encounter with natives. At that point he had nothing to lose. After three days adrift without water and under the tropical sun, the boy was almost delirious as he washed up on a sandy beach, barely able to haul himself out of the waves.

He felt as much as saw the shade of another person looming over him. Resigning himself to death he recited a prayer then passed out. He woke up lying on a comfortable cot, naked under a clean sheet, staring up at a thatched roof. A kindly looking European man some thirty years of age and dressed in a cassock was leaning over him, helping him sip water. Not too much to start with of course, but then a little more till he leaned back satisfied.

The priest, for that is what he was, questioned Pieter first in Portuguese of which Pieter had only a few words. He responded in Dutch. The man looked quizzical, like he almost understood Pieter. Then he tried German. Pieter was familiar with that tongue since his village was not that far from German speaking lands, and he had spoken it with some of his neighbors. Dutch and Platt Deutsch (Low German) were closely related.

"I am father Afonso. One of my parishioners found you. How did you come to be in this place."

Pieter explained about the expedition led by Tasman for the VOC and how he had fallen overboard and been abandoned, forced to make his own way across uncharted seas in a native canoe.

"Where am I now?" Pieter asked.

"Portuguese Timor, I am afraid."

The priest was stricken with the realization that after all his travails, this innocent youth had landed in Portuguese territory, Catholic territory. As a Dutch Protestant, Pieter was a heretic. The Inquisition would surely want to take the lad to its court at Goa in India and likely burn him at the stake in an auto da fe, an act of faith.

And that would be merely the end of a long process of torture and degradation at the hands of the cruel inquisitors and their guards. They would keep the boy naked, of course, belittle him for his small stature and virtually hairless body, smooth even at the fork of his legs. They would mock his unmanly pretty boy looks, scorn him for being brown like a native, clearly from running around naked like one instead of decently clothed.

Of course they would rape him. Prisoners were raped frequently, whenever the mood struck one of the brutal guards. Limbs chained together, his chains themselves shackled to the wall of the dungeon, the hapless boy would be taken again and again till he was bleeding out of his orifice. His long blond locks would furnish a handhold to control his head as they forced the boy to suck their cocks, making him swallow their seed and their piss afterwards. Some guards liked to squeeze a boy's balls in their fists, watching him thrash in agony, to emphasize how totally he was at their mercy or lack thereof. This was not considered abuse but just part of the punishment for malefactors.

Afonso had seen this for himself when he passed through Goa on his way to his posting on Timor. He had given last rites to a convert suspected then convicted of backsliding into Hinduism, a religion the Portuguese Inquisition loathed as the next thing to devil worship. Like that young man, Pieter would be beaten with fists and knouts which would mark him with purple bruises. The cat-of-nine-tails would flay the lad, the bits of metal at the ends of the lashes tearing his flesh, leaving him sobbing and broken and bleeding.

Afonso's mind rebelled at the graphic images formed from his memory and his fears. He could not let that fate befall the youngster who had washed up so providentially on his shores. Fortunately Goa was a long way off, and no one but Afonso knew about Pieter. Perhaps something could be yet be done. He would not mention his fears just yet to the youth, not till he recovered.

Father Afonso was a kindly man who could not in his heart believe that his God had spared the lad after so much just to let him die at the stake. Firm though he was in his own faith, he found it hard to condemn others who differed in creed only because of their upbringing. How could a loving God damn a lad for being born in the Protestant Netherlands rather than in Catholic Portugal? Afonso was heartily sick of more than a century of religious wars including the one raging in Central Europe that, when it ended, would be called the Thirty Years War.

Over the next few days, Pieter regained his health. He got off the cot and walked a few steps then sat down heavily. It would be days yet before he regained his strength. Despite himself Afonso could not help admire the smooth limbed physique of the Dutch boy, nicely muscled, evenly bronzed, practically hairless, topped by an angelic face without a trace of a beard though the boy was a few months short of eighteen.

"Have you truly been naked all this time, so many months?"

"Yes, Father, more than a year since I left Palembang."

"Well your coloring bears that out, but much as you might wish it, we cannot have a white boy running around like a naked savage."

Or however much he might wish it either, the priest admitted to himself candidly. The priest was fully cognizant of his own attraction to pretty youths, but since his novitiate he had always been celibate, and intended to remain so, true to his vows. That did not mean he could not appreciate male beauty when he saw it. It just made him all the more determined to save the youth who had washed up on his shores.

He provided Pieter with a sarong, glad to see that the boy wrapped the cloth very low around his hips, leaving most of his flat belly visible, with a flash of his cleavage in the back. The tight cloth accented his trim rump. What a lovely creature he was, like something out a painting by Botticelli.

Pieter was quite taken with the sarong, a garment he had never worn before. It was comfortable, flattering, and came in beautiful patterns. He decided that if he had to wear clothing, he could do far worse than a sarong, at least in the tropics. Of course he still spent a good deal of time naked: in bed asleep or swimming in the lagoon or running on the beach to build up his stamina. The priest had a small library including books on secular subjects which he lent to his young charge. The boy would take one to a secluded spot, unwind the sarong and lie down upon it while he read the book.

For his part father Afonso was glad for the glimpses he got of the youth's nakedness. He took the boy's preference for nudity as little more than a sign of his innocence and an expression of youthful vitality and exuberance. Pieter himself told the good father that he really couldn't understand why some folks thought being naked was sinful. Isn't that how God made us? Why so much fuss about clothing?

Father Afonso did counsel him that the display of the naked body could be a temptation to the weak willed and an occasion of sin for the lustful, but he really could not chide the boy for his preferences. He could see from his own parishioners that people living in different climes had different attitudes toward uncovering the human body. The local men never wore anything above the waist and only the sarong or a loincloth below. Perhaps the Church's teaching was as much parochial thinking as sound theology. A practical man anyway, Father Afonso did not let doctrinal matters trouble him overmuch. Faith and good works were foremost in his creed.

When Pieter was better, the priest explained his danger from both the secular authorities and the Inquisition, though without being graphic about it. He told Pieter what he intended to do about it and why. Regardless of what others might think his duty, he had no intention of letting his young friend suffer such a fate. The youth gripped the priest's hand, tears in his eyes, his voice choking as he murmured his thanks. The man was risking not only his position and his freedom, but in a real sense his very soul.

The next morning, Father Afonso chanced upon the boy kneeling in the small chapel, looking quite angelic, beautiful and earnest, murmuring his prayers aloud in his native Dutch, which the priest could just follow. The boy gave heartfelt thanks for his deliverance from the sea and for Father Afonso's kindness; then he begged forgiveness for his unthinking prejudice in the past against those of the Catholic faith, inculcated in him as a youngster. The priest had opened his eyes to the goodness in all men, regardless of creed. He would never forget that as long as he lived.

The priest left him, stepping quietly so as not to let the boy know he had been seen, tears in his eyes at the simple faith and goodness of heart he had just witnessed. Yes, the boy was a Protestant, but he prayed to the same God the priest did. The good father took it as a sign that he had chosen the right course of action.

When Pieter was entirely healthy, Afonso provided him with a boat and a crew who would take him to the western part of the island where the Dutch had a trading post. From there the boy could sail to Batavia on a Dutch vessel. He gave Pieter his blessing, embraced him, then kissed him chastely on the forehead, sending him off to safety among his own people.

He had never been more certain about a moral decision in his life, though he fully intended to speak of this to his confessor when he had the chance, in two months. Whatever penance he drew was worth it for the reward of seeing the happy face of the boy as he sailed off to life rather than face a horrible death at the hands of the Inquisition. He felt confident that his God would understand that mercy sometimes must triumph over strict duty.

Epilogue

In the fullness of time, Pieter rejoined his shipmates after they returned from Tasman's second voyage where he sailed the shores of the Arafura Sea but somehow missed the Torres Strait, doubling back to the East Indies. Pieter had been working on a sloop sailing local waters. He was in port when the expedition returned to Batavia, standing on the wharf a little apart from the official welcoming party, drawn up straight, blond hair trailing past his shoulders, dressed only in a colorful sarong slung low on his hips, the only kind of garment he ever cared to wear thereafter, when he wasn't entirely naked. The reunion with Jan and Hendrik, no longer addressed as uncles, found all three young men sobbing with happiness. It was like a miracle.

Tasman and his navigator Visscher could not credit the boy's tale of a strait south of New Guinea. Without instruments, who knew where he had sailed? He himself freely admitted he had only the vaguest of notions. Pieter did not mind. He was a simple sailor and a carpenter. It was all he had ever wanted to be.

Now reunited with the men who had made his life complete, he was happy. The trio settled in the Indies on Java. Jan and Pieter worked in a shipyard, eventually owning one themselves. Hendrik opened a tavern popular with sailors for his good cooking. The comfortable house the trio shared was nearby but higher up the slope to catch the sea breezes. They could look forward to a rich and full life together.

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