Excerpt: Triangle: A Memoir of Black Caesar
Collin’s Journal, March, 1713
I bare a great scar, now, from our battle on the coast of Africa. A scar I am proud to bare for it was earned in a struggle for men’s freedom. I bare many smaller scars from the common struggles of my life in this evil trayde in souls, of which I have been a part. But the deepest, most festered scar of all is not visible. It is the scar I bare on my soul for participating in the massacre at Chateau Verettes. I am haunted by the memory of it and I also know that it haunts the memories of my friend, Henri, who is now, most commonly, called Caesar. Though he will not confess his troubled concience, I can see the affect of his guilt in the ways that he has changed since that fateful day. Our lyves together have become as bitter as the lymes that grow on this desolate island we have called, La Creek.
I have tryed often and, to his annoyance, to speak of the matter, but he will have none of it. I wonder in my own heart if there can be forgiveness in Christ for us. I have also wondered aloud, by the fire at night, but Henri rejects the thought, saying that he learned all he could tolerate of Christ from Liana Royer and the other white jackals who have stolen his life from him. It is, just as I feared, so many years ago on the night that Arthur Hill challenged John Barren about the morality of the Trade. We have, all together, become the worst testimony of our faith.
Now, his soul has come under the spell of the witch, Oguna, and her Obeah magic. He has mostly closed himself off from me, avoiding contact as much as that is possible, since we all live as naufrages, that is, maroons, on this small island. His mood has become dark and brooding. He seldom smiles anymore and because of his enormous size, ill temper and unpredictably brutish nature, most of us have come to live in fear of him.
His desire to return to Africa has become a form of desperation. He is obsessed by a need to take up his mantle as king of the Dyula people; he wears the king’s breastplate daily as he stalks about the camp. A palpable tension surrounds us because the other African members of our community and his own crew are not willing to go back. Most, including Maya, who bore his child and is with child again, are satisfied with the life of freedom they have forged here at La Creek. They reject the idea of returning to Africa for fear that “The Company” will enslave them again.
Considering the level of The Company’s activities on the coast of Africa, there is, of course, a strong probability that they are correct. From all visible signs the Triangle Trayde has grown exponentially since our days aboard the Arthur. I pray each day for the means to destroy The Royal African Company of England, but the beast has grown into an overwhelming monster, grinding its teeth in the face of all opposition. Though it has been stabbed repeatedly by wars, political intrigues, interlopers and competition, it continues to survive and succeed like something infernally born. As such, I will continue to pray for its destruction, for my own peace of mind, and for my friend, Nwoye, the boy I once knew.
I have kept the pamphlet, “Gospel Family-Order”, I was given at The Mermaid Inn, on Barbados, so many years ago. I remember the words from it as I pray, but I confess that, the longer I live, the less hope I hold out for our future, whether we live together, or continue to drift apart.
I dream of a day when Odulette and I, will sayle away to the colonies of the Maine, the Carolinas, or perhaps Virginia, to settle there and fynde a better way to live than this. Perhaps to farm, or to live by a trayde. I dream of peace, but I know only war, strife and struggle. Perhaps I am a fool to think that we could live a quiet lyfe, to raise children who are free of the tyranny of greedy men who lust for the power tyrannize others. None the less I pray daily that it will be so, but I pray without hope because of the stain that blackens my own soul.
And now, Odulette is with child. Among my many sins I bare guilt for having made her a fornicator, but we have come to love one another and having no clergyman to marry us, we gave in to the temptation afforded by our close conditions. Strangely, we are the happier for it and, despite my sins, I know that we live each day only by God’s mercy.
La Creek – 1713