In the late 1700's, a British Slave Trading vessel leaves England with trading goods for Sierra Leone, Africa. Also onboard is the owner of the ship, his wife and his 3 year old daughter. The final destination of the ship is South Carolina where the Slave Ships owner's wife intends to visit her parents to introduce them to their grandchild.
Some years earlier, this same ship and its crew slew the chief of the Dende tribe and vengeance was sought by the tribe. Captured, the owner and his wife are slain but the 3 year old daughter is miraculously saved by order of a powerful elder who proclaimed the child as a descendent of a powerful chieftain, and who when she grew of age, would a powerful Chieftain. The child is spared and is initiated into the Tribes ways and customs. She is taught the customs and the history of the tribe, and the languages of the two leading traders of Sierra Leone; France and England. obooko.com is the origin of this text.
Just before the outbreak of the British/French war, King George III, seeking to assure England's holdings in Africa, the now adult Chieftain is summoned to England to ensure the African Tribes allegiance. Travelling to England the white chieftain makes a great impression on the British with her learning and understanding of the political situation. Studying the reasons why England is so powerful in the cotton trade, an attempt is made to carry that information back to her tribe.
Intending to use the cotton on her inherited cotton plantation in South Carolina with some of the technology of England, her ideas are judged to be sound but too early. Her search leads to her freeing of her slaves, and instead of the cotton, finding ways to bring potable water to Africa.
The time- 1782; the characters- Sir Percival Dure, his wife Prudence and their daughter of 3, Abigail. The place -England and Africa and America.
The February morning was cold and damp with a persistent freezing drizzle as only a February can produce. At 4:00 am, Sir Percival Dure (called Sir Percy by his friends); his American wife, Prudence and their 3 year old daughter, Abigail were bundled together in the carriage that was carrying them to the dock in London. The wet , bleak sky and the wet granite cobblestones sparked by an occasional slipping of the horse’s hooves made for a grim picture, with the hollow sounds in the still morning echoing noisily.
The family was sailing to the West Coast of Africa, to Sierra Leone where they would leave off a cargo of bright cotton cloth and rum in exchange for Negro slaves. Sir Percy had been in the slave trade business ever since he was a young man of 17 where he was learning the business from his forebears. The Dure’s had been in the slave trade business for more than 250 years when a relative, John Hawkes first started trading in 1562 carrying slaves to Santo Domingo to fill the needs of the sugar plantations.
Sir Percy was an average sized man, extremely thin and erect with an eagle shaped nose that made one think of a Harpy Eagle. He did not look at you when he spoke but rather beheld you with his yellowish eyes fastened to your eyes in an unblinking challenge to see who would look away first. No one had ever recalled seeing him smile or to see him in any but an erect stance. His dress was simple; almost stark, but always immaculate and always black. He spoke shortly and succinctly and considered his few orders as enough to get things done according to his wishes.
His major achievement and of which he was most proud was his being knighted for service to the mother country. In reality, his knighthood was given because he was a slave trader and his providing slaves to the southern States of America allowed the cotton planters to provide more cotton at cheaper prices for British looms. The export of cotton goods from England increased her mills to do business. Therefore, with Sr. Percy’s slave trade, England increased her business and sales to countries and colonies around the world.
His relationship with his wife Prudence was formal but not unkind. His greatest disappointment was that the child Prudence bore him was a female and not a male whereby he could continue in the family tradition of slave trading. Worse still was the fact that Prudence would not be able to bear him any other children. His thoughts were that perhaps his daughter Abigail would marry a man who would continue the traditions and that perhaps a grandson would eventually be born to carry on.
Normally, he would not be carrying his family with him but in this instance, Prudence would be visiting her family in South Carolina and be presenting her parents to their grandchild for the first time.
Sir Percy’s slave ships carried approximately 200 to 300 slaves according to the ship’s size. On this trip, he cut down the number of slaves he would carry in deference to his wife and daughter, to 150 slaves. Thus, he would not lose too much since a smaller number of slaves also meant losing less slaves. On some of the more crowded voyages, the loss of slave’s lives could be quite high. He had quarters arranged for them forward in the ship so that at least much of the disagreeable smells could be carried downwind. Besides, he did not want his family to see the reality of seeing the unwashed slaves chained to the deck until they were delivered. After each delivery of slaves, Sir Percy would have the ship washed down so that the returning shipments of cotton, molasses and rum could be received with some modicum of cleanliness.