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By Sarah Hapgood

Lonts, coiled in thick rope, was pulling on the big iron ring on the trapdoor. He was backed up by Hillyard and Farnol, like a tug-of-war team.

“Glad Adam’s gone marketing”, said Joby “Or he’d be driving us mad at the moment with how brilliantly Lonts is doing”.

“It shouldn’t be long before we have it up”, said Ransey.

Kieran swept in, adorned in various extravagant crucifixes.

“Alright”, said Joby “What’s with the Witchfinder-General get-up?”

“Just in case”, said Kieran “We don’t know what we may find down there”.

“Oh great, thanks Kiel”, said Joby “That’s reassuring!”

“You’ll have to stand back a bit, Kieran”, said Lonts.

“Why don’t you go and stand outside, Kieran?” said Joby.

“Because I want to stand in here!” said Kieran.

“On!” Bardin clapped his hands, impatiently.

The trapdoor was slowly heaved up. They all clustered round to peer through the hole in the floor.

“Brilliant!” Hillyard enthused “This couldn’t be more perfect”.

“What ARE you talking about now?” said Joby.

“It’s an underground spring”, said Hillyard, pointing down to the water flowing past the iron ladder which led downwards “This is going to be our magic ingredient for our beer”.

“Water?” said Joby.

“Spring water, Jobe”, said Hillyard “I wish you’d make some effort to learn! Spring water is going to give it that little special something. Perfect. You didn’t arrange this, did you, Kieran?”

“I had no idea what was down there”, said Kieran “And I didn’t know the type of water made any difference to beer”.

“I’ve never heard it does”, said Joby.

“Well just because YOU’VE never heard it does …” Hillyard began.

“Alright, that’s enough”, said Bardin “OK, this is useful, but caution still needs to be exercised when poking around down there. We don’t know what else could be there as well”.

“We’ll get a pump fitted”, said Hillyard “So we can pump it up here. Before we know, The Indigo Brewery will be up and running … or … or … The St Kieran’s Brotherhood Brewery! I like the sound of that one”.

“I don’t”, said Kieran “And it’s my name you’re planning on using”.

“Now listen, we are not about to become ardent capitalists”, said Ransey “If the beer works we sell some of it to make a little extra income perhaps, but we care not about to become brewery tycoons”.

“We make just enough to help support ourselves”, said Bardin “We are supposed to be a religious order”.

“With a brewery”, said Hillyard.

They walked back to the galleon I high spirits. Hillyard’s enthusiasm was infectious. Even Joby eventually found himself caught up in it. Back on the ship, Joby and Kieran disappeared into their cabin, and the others repaired to the dining-room to discuss the finer points of beer-making. Meanwhile Adam, who had also recently returned, fidgeted around the galley, restlessly.

“Oh Joby, there you are”, he said, when Joby reappeared “Where have you been? The others came back a while ago”.

“I didn’t think you’d be back yet”, said Joby “Kieran got a bit mouthy over at the tower, so I had to take him outside. He’d have been very disappointed if I hadn’t. He’s delighted now. What’s up? You seem all agitated”.

“I had news whilst I was in town”, said Adam.

“What?” said Joby, alarmed.

“Kitty is going to give a poetry-reading”, said Adam.

“Is that it?” Joby exclaimed “For fuck’s sake, Ad! I thought some jerks from the City were coming up to get Kieran or summat!”

“Sorry, old love”, said Adam “Didn’t mean to alarm you, it’s that it puts me in a very difficult position”.

“Why?” said Joby “What’s it to us what she does? You don’t have to go”.

“Well that’s just it, she’s asked me to go”, said Adam “She thinks just because I’m artistic that I like poetry, but I’m really not bothered by it. Actually it’s Julian who’s rather more into that. You wouldn’t think it from such a boorish old lump like him, but there you are”.

“Perhaps he reads it to Hoowie in bed”, Joby joked.

“That wouldn’t surprise me”, said Adam, in dismay.

“Anyway, stop getting your drawers in a twist”, said Joby “Just say you’re too busy and you’re not going and that’s it. You don’t owe her anything. I’m amazed you’re even giving it a moment’s thought. You must be going soft in your old age”.

“Now that’s quite enough of that”, said Adam “Or I’ll put you over my knee again, and I’ll take your trousers down this time!”

“I hope you mean it”, said Joby.

“Be on standby, Adam”, Hillyard boomed, appearing in the doorway “I hope you’ve got plenty of beer recipes lined up”.

“I’m sure I can always find some”, said Adam.

“Hillyard!” said Joby “You haven’t even made any beer yet!”

“No, but it won’t be long”, said Hillyard “I can promise you that”.

“Sounds like a bleedin’ threat”, muttered Joby.

“When it’s made”, said Hillyard, on leaving the room “You won’t be able to resist it!”

The next couple of weeks were busy ones. Hillyard was in his element, dividing his days between renovating the truck, starting on the home-brew, and making plans for the next full moon wild boar hunt. The townspeople were fascinated by the little settlement they were making. Some too much so. On a trip into town Bardin got so fed up by Beatrix accosting him, and asking reams of questions about Adam, that he told her, in no uncertain terms, to stop being such a foolish woman. Adam’s upper-class English sense of courtesy-at-all-times was shocked to the core.

“I know you can be a bit abrasive, old love“, he gasped at Bardin when he got home.

“A bit?!” Joby exclaimed.

“But there was no need for that”, Adam continued.

“Do you want her off your back or not?” said Bardin “I was doing you a favour!”

And he turned and flounced out of the galley.

“Ooh”, said Bengo “I wouldn’t normally excuse Bardy being rude, Adam, but he didn’t really mean any harm”.

“And someone’s gotta make Beatrix see sense”, said Joby.

“I know, but really!” said Adam “Bardin takes too much upon himself”.

“Trouble is, we were brought up on plain-speaking in the theatre”, said Bengo “Nobody ever minces words there. You can’t afford to string people along with false hopes”.

“It’ll be more bleedin’ trouble in the long-run if you do”, said Joby.

“I know”, Adam sighed “But Beatrix is such a sensitive woman“.

“She’s survived fleeing the City, and spending two years living in a cave”, said Joby “She can’t be that friggin’ delicate!”

For the rest of the day Joby and Bengo obeyed Adam’s instructions with grave cordiality, but made it clear that they thought he was being an ass.

“And so you are”, said Julian, after dinner “What’s the matter with you? Suddenly got some idea you want to be some middle-aged woman’s heart-throb?! The novelty excites you does it?”

“Oh don’t talk silly, Julian”, said Adam.

“You’re the one who’s being silly”, said Julian “Good for Bardin I say. If I was there I’d have done the same thing. Stop bellyaching about people all the time!”

“And Bardin’s being so awfully guarded around me”, Adam complained to Joby in the galley a short while later “I seem to have upset him so dreadfully”.

“No you ent”, said Joby “He’ll get over it. Blimey, he’s survived this far intact. You just need to clam down a bit, you’re all uptight ‘cos Julian’s had a go at you”.

“He has an innate knack of getting under my skin”, said Adam “He always did”.

“Right, clear the decks”, Ransey announced from the doorway “You are hereby cordially invited to the inaugural beer-tasting. Come on over, or Hillyard will be disappointed”.

“I’m relying on this to restore some bleedin’ equilibrium”, said Joby, fiercely.

There was a tense moment when at first the beer refused to be drawn out of the suction hose. There was much crouching down on haunches and puzzled looks at the apparatus. But eventually the beer began to flow. The general feedback was positive.

“This is it”, said Hillyard “We’re on our way”.

“Where to?” said Joby.

“To being a proper religious commune, or whatever you want to call it”, said Hillyard.

“Somehow I don’t think we’ll ever be a proper one, Hillyard!” said Adam.

Joby drifted outside, and wandered through the long grass. He paused and stared at the edge of the woods at the back of the tower. Julian eventually caught up with him.

“You alright?” he asked.

“Yeah”, said Joby “Just a bit worn out with all the Adam nonsense. He can be such an old drama queen sometimes”.

“Of course he can”, said Julian “No one’s better at it than him”.

“All this over bloody Beatrix!” said Joby.

“Calm down”, said Julian “It’s all done and dusted. Adam’s slowly coming to his senses”.

“Yeah, but Bardin’s all guarded around him now”, said Joby.

“I’ll sort Bardin out when we get back to the ship”, said Julian “Haven’t given him a good spanking in a while, I shall enjoy that immensely”.

Joby snorted with laughter.

“It’s beautiful here”, he said “Sometimes I wanna pinch myself. Summat’s bound to go wrong”.

“Such as?” said Julian.

“Such as that lot down in the City getting wind of it that Kieran’s here”.

“Too much is being made of that. Personally, I feel that if they did hear about him, they’d treat it as some fanciful tale, like old Medieval stories of Prester John”, said Julian “Or sightings of Elvis down the supermarket. A lot of time has passed. Plus we’re a long way away up here. I can’t see them trudging all the way up here just on the off-chance that Kieran might be around. We’re history”.

“I hope so”, said Joby.

“If it’ll make you feel better”, said Julian “We’ll get a new wireless set, jus tin order to keep an ear on the outside world as it were. As long as you promise not to listen to it obsessively”.

Back on the ship, in the mellow evening light, Julian summoned Bardin to his cabin, put him across his knee, and whacked him with the paddle. He finished off by smacking his starched buttocks with his hand, by which time Bardin felt like he had been wrapped in cotton-wool.

Bengo was waiting impatiently for him in his cabin when he returned. Bardin shuffled into the room in a crablike motion.

“Oh Bardy, I’m so proud of you”, said Bengo, kissing him.

“I didn’t exactly have to do very much”, said Bardin, leaning on the back of a chair and rubbing his behind “Just lie there and present my posterior!”

“No, sorting out Beatrix”, said Bengo “Adam’s slowly coming to his senses”.

“Oh that”, said Bardin “Don’t worry about that, I’m over it. Julian said I’m a work-of-art. I think he means my underwear is”.

“You’re the one who’s wearing it though”, said Bengo.

“He marvelled at how I get it to hang so shear”, said Bardin “I had to let on I was wearing feather light drawers underneath to keep the starchy shorts crisp. It’s a bit too warm for the thermals”.

“All of it’s sexy”, said Bengo “Ooh I want to do all sorts of things to you. I want to chase you through the meadow”.

“You won’t have any trouble catching me at the moment!” said Bardin.

“I want to pull all your clothes off”, said Bengo “And throw you in the water”.

“We haven’t done much skinny-dipping since we’ve been here”, said Bardin “That’ll be tomorrow’s job. God I love this mellow feeling, if only it would last all the time. I’ll just have to keep being spanked I guess”.

The spanking had reinstated Bardin in his position as ship’s sweetheart (not that he ever really vacated it for long). Also it meant Adam couldn’t carry on “bellyaching” (as Julian had put it) about the Beatrix incident, when it was very clear that Bardin didn’t give a toss about it.

“You see”, said Julian triumphantly to Adam “That’s what a proper hiding does for him, not those namby-pamby efforts you do”.

“That is outrageous!” said Adam “I am never namby-pamby with our boy”.

“Well it’ll be up to you to prove that for a short while”, said Julian “I can’t spank Bardin again for a couple of weeks, or Hoowie will get jealous. So it’ll be up to you again. In fact, it’s the best thing you could do, stop any lingering frost between you … which is entirely on your side I should point out”.

Bardin had gone skinny-dipping off the jetty with the other clowns. Although it was high summer, the water was still cold, which meant for rather more vigorous splashing around in it, than lazy floating. Back on the ship Bardin had an assignation with Adam in his (Bardin’s) cabin. Bardin had towelled himself dry, and put on a pair of freshly-ironed shorts under his bath-robe.

“Please forgive me”, Adam whispered into Bardin’s hair “About the Beatrix stuff I mean. I let some foolish ideas of politeness blind me to the common good”.

“It doesn’t matter”, said Bardin “You’re one of Nature’s gentlemen, I’m not”.

“You’re very lovely”, said Adam “And we all adore you”.

He gently undid Bardin’s bath-robe, and slid his hands round Bardin’s snake-hips, caressing his behind.

“Now”, Adam teased “Are you sure you’re up to another chastisement?”

“I always need more spanking”, said Bardin, who could feel his cock thrusting against the front of his shorts impatiently.

Bardin was across Adam’s knee, and having his behind soundly whacked with a hairbrush when they heard a commotion outside the door, at the foot of the quarterdeck steps.

“Oh I know what that is”, said Bardin, from his face-down position “Ransey and Umbert are back from buying a wireless. Ransey said he knew where to pick up a cheap one that needed repairing”.

As Bardin showed no sign of wanting to go and investigate, Adam carried on spanking him. Then there was a gentle rustling noise, as an envelope was pushed under the door. Adam helped Bardin to his feet. Bardin hobbled across the room, picked up the envelope, and then unlocked the door.

Bengo was standing outside, as though doing sentry-duty. Ransey and Umbert were manhandling a wireless set into the old boots-and-coats store next to the galley.

“Ooh Bardy”, Bengo was almost breathless with lust at the sight of his partner. Bardin’s hair was tousled, his nipples were erect, and his pristine white shorts still bulging.

“What’s all this?” said Bardin, holding up an envelope.

“For you”, said Ransey, over his shoulder “Beatrix shoved it at me in town”.

Bardin gave a sigh and tore it open. He perused the contents quickly.

“I am not a gentleman apparently”, he said “Tell me something new! And she won’t ever come near me again”.

“The rotten old cow”, said Bengo.

“Rubbish”, said Bardin “Best thing that could’ve happened. Put it on the dining-room table, and then everybody can read it and have a good laugh”.

“I shall do that”, said Adam, taking the note from him “Bengo, you go and enjoy yourself with Bardin. He should be sufficiently tamed now”.

Bengo gave a drowsy moan and stirred on their bunk.

“The light’s changed”, he said “I’d better go and help with the dinner in a minute”.

“I don’t think I can move”, said Bardin, who was sprawled next to him.

“Then Adam’s right”, said Bengo, running his hand gently along Bardin’s naked back “You must be well-tamed”.

He glanced over at the chair, where Bardin’s shorts had been draped carefully over the back. The hairbrush was still resting on the seat.

“I need a whole summer of being spanked and kept in order”, said Bardin.

“That can be arranged”, said Bengo, giggling and nibbling his ear “Followed by a whole winter as well”.

“I wonder if we’ll stay here all that time”, said Bardin, his voice partially-muffled by the pillow “I hope so”.

“I hope we stay here for a very long time”, said Bengo “Years and years”.

He rolled up close to Bardin so that their cocks were pressing against each other. They lay like that for a little while, until the pre-dinner bustling noises from the galley became too difficult to ignore.

“I’d better get to work”, said Bengo “You can stay here and rest though until it’s served up”.

“That’s if I can sit down to eat it”, said Bardin.

“I’ll find you a cushion”, said Bengo “You mustn’t worry about anything”.

“Not even Beatrix?” said Bardin “Our stalker?”

“Oh we’ve let her have the last say”, said Bengo “So hopefully that’s it”.

“I hope you’re right”, said Bardin.

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