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By Sarah Hapgood

“Well I thought that was a stroke of genius on Bardy’s part”, said Bengo, the wind blowing through his curls as they sped northwards through the choppy ocean waves “But then he is a genius”.

Naturally this went down like a dose of poison with the other clowns.

“It’s no good you all looking at me like that”, said Bengo “You know it’s true. That’s why he’s leader and you’re not”.

“I’m gonna bundle you over the side in a minute”, said Hal.

“Yeah, you and whose army you great lumbering ox?” said Bengo.

“What’s going on over here?” said Bardin, advancing towards them across the main deck “Why are you all huddled in the corner? Break it up”.

“Bengo was busy telling us what a genius you are”, said Rumble.

“No wonder you all look pissed off!” said Bardin “C’mon break it up, there’s things to do. Bengo, come with me”.

Bengo followed him over to the starboard side.

“I take it they don’t like the idea?” Bardin whispered to him.

“They didn’t like how it was done, that’s all”, said Bengo “But they’ll soon find something else to moan about instead. I thought it was brilliant. Adam said it was a great psychology test, to pull out which direction was uppermost in everyone’s minds”.

“I’m amazed Hoowie came first”, said Bardin.

“Oh he can think quickly”, said Bengo “Just his brain’s usually in another universe. Adam said we face danger whichever direction we go in, so there’ s no point trying to find the safest option”.

“There isn’t one”, said Bardin, bluntly.

The nothingness on the mainland continued, even when they reached the location of the nocturnal gunfire. The ground had been recently burnt though, as it was a mass of charcoal, with occasional small fires still burning in random patches.

“There is a river estuary coming up”, said Bardin, striding into the galley with one of the maps “If we turn left tomorrow”.

“We’d better remember to put the indicator on”, muttered Joby, who was busy kneading dough.

“Bardin, do we have to have your props in here now?” said Adam “I am trying to prepare dinner”.

“I thought you’d be interested”, said Bardin, spreading the maps on the cluttered galley table “Where’s Bengo?”

“He took the scraps bucket down to the animals”, said Adam.

“Well anyway look here”, said Bardin, jabbing a finger at the map “I have a feeling that if we follow that river we might eventually connect with the Gold River”.

“The one that comes out near the Village of Stairs?” said Joby.

“Well that would be a nicer way of getting to the west coast than round the Horn”, said Adam.

“I’m not sure about nicer”, said Joby “Not going by what we’ve seen of the mainland so far!”

“Alright, less tumultuous then”, said Adam.

“Part of the way along there’s also a river which connects with it and leads up to the City”, said Bardin.

“Can’t say I’m in any hurry to go back there!” said Joby.

“It’s just a thought”, said Bardin.

“Yes well it all sounds very exciting”, said Adam “Now please clear away before I get cross and give you what for”.

“Do that anyway”, said Joby “It’s been ages”.

“But Bengo will miss it”, said Adam.

“He’ll get the benefit of it”, said Joby, going over to lock the door.

Adam unbuttoned Bardin’s trousers. Bardin didn’t put up much of a resistance as he stepped out of them. “My dear boy, it’s been too long since we last had this pleasure”, said Adam, running his hands caressingly up and down Bardin’s slender legs.

Bardin had a lighter pair of shorts on, but they still clung, sheer, ironed and starched to his legs. Adam put him across his lap and smacked his behind very hard.

“Ow! Not so hard!” Bardin protested.

At which Joby nonchalantly handed Adam the butter patter, which Adam wielded vigorously over the starched bottom. Bardin’s protestations met with little result, except for the paddle to carry on being applied.

“I probably can’t move!” Bardin spat, as Joby helped him to his feet.

“Course you can”, said Joby.

“Go and have a lie-down before dinner”, Adam ordered Bardin “And no arguments, or I’ll do another one before the day is out”.

Bardin woke up when Bengo carried his supper in to him on a tray. Bengo put the tray on a nearby chair, and then helped him to sit up, lodging a cushion under his sore behind.

“How did I manage to go to sleep for so long”, Bardin grumbled “You should have woken me up”.

“I wasn’t likely to do that now was I!” said Bengo, as though he was giving a bed-bath to a particularly fractious patient.

“Have we moored for the night?” said Bardin.

“Yes”, said Bengo, placing the tray on his knees “And the night-watch rota has been sorted out”.

“What’s this?” said Bardin, pointing at the bowl in front of him.

“Oxtail soup”.

“Tinned I suppose?”

“Well of course it is, Bardy! Where are we gonna get fresh ox tail from out here!”

“I was just asking”, said Bardi, tearing off a chunk of bread roll and stuffing it into his mouth “Have some sympathy, I’ve been spanked!”

“Yes, a real proper arse-whipping too, so Joby told me”, Bengo giggled.

“I bet you’re really pissed you missed it”, Bardin mumbled through the bread roll.

“There’s gonna be plenty of other opportunities”, said Bengo “We’ve really missed you being spanked, so we’re really keen to start it all up again”.

“I’m sure”, said Bardin.

He felt a burning, melting in his groin as he recalled his penis rubbing against Adam as he lay across his lap.

“God, I’m getting another boner”, he said.

“I’m not surprised, wearing those tight knickers” said Bengo.

He removed the tray from Bardin’s lap, pulled down his shorts and then dived onto his hardening cock.

An uneventful night followed. There was no sound of gunfire coming from anywhere, and it would be hard to see who would be causing it anyway. This day would bring a whole new turn in the adventure, literally. They would leave the high seas and head inwards, down the Dusk River. The one that they hoped would eventually connect them to the Gold River.

There was a fairly festive mood on board the galleon. A feel of adventure unfolding, accompanied by a general lessening of tension as they felt they at last had a direction, and knew where they were going.

Bardin began the day with a massage from Hillyard. Bengo was in the galley as usual helping with the breakfasts.

“Is he alright?” Adam asked “I wasn’t too rough with him yesterday I hope”.

“He loved it”, said Bengo “He slept like a baby afterwards. I’m so glad you used the butter paddle on him”.

“Paddle, hand or hairbrush”, said Adam “All are intensely pleasurable when applied to Bardin’s starched behind. We can’t get enough of him can we Joby?”

“Not half”, said Joby “Love the bastard”.

“I’ll pass that onto him”, said Bengo “And we’ll keep him well inline as we mosey on up the river”.

Because it would be good for morale, Bardin dispensed with his trousers at breakfast and went into the dining-room in his shorts. These ones were noticeably baggier than the ones he had been wearing the day before, although no less starched and ironed. He ate awkwardly perched on the edge of his chair, and was quick to get up when he’d finished eating.

“Ready to turn left down the river then?” said Hillyard.

“Yes”, said Bardin “Umbert, try and get a message to Lord Robert and the Girls about what we’re doing. We’ll keep sending messages to them, even if we get no reply. Who knows whether they’ve heard or not”.

“Righto”, said Umbert, heading to the wireless room.

“There’s an old bottle of Tequila stuffed down in the hold somewhere”, said Bardin “We’ll have some shots from it at dinner tonight … wherever we end up mooring”.

Although frankly the countryside for miles around was so barren and desolate that they would be able to seen ambush coming from some considerable way off. The land had been burnt, savaged by fire. Not a true, a bush, a single blade of grass remained. The soil was charcoal, for as far as the eye could see. Some of the fires were still burning, and this made the air intensely humid and hot.

“We’ll keep going until dusk”, said Bardin to Ransey, up on the main deck “Let’s face it, there’s nothing to stop for. Come night-time we’ll try and camouflage ourselves as much as possible”.

“Into blackout mode?” said Ransey.

“Yes”, Bardin chewed on a fingernail “No lights, and as little noise as possible. Any sound will travel for miles out here. Even a shout will do that. So no musical soirees, and no excitable discussions”.

Ransey gently batted Bardin’s hand away from his mouth.

“You’re a great captain”, he said “But try and remember that you’re not carrying this all by yourself”.

“I know”, Bardin mumbled.

“I hope you do”, said Ransey.

“I’ll arrange for more buckets of water to be put up on deck”, said Bardin “Nobody should spend too long a time up here, not inhaling that smoky air”.

He went below deck, and gave the water-bucket instructions to Hoowie. Bardin then found Bengo loitering outside the galley door. He asked him to follow him into their cabin.

“God, It’s sweltering up there”, said Bardin, wiping his face and torso with a towel “I’m glad I’m just wearing shorts today”.

“What’s the plan?” said Bengo.

Bardin explained to him what he had said to Ransey.

“Are you OK, Bardy?” said Bengo “Ransey didn’t say anything that’s worried you did he?”

“No, no, except he seems worried about me”, said Bardin “As if I’ about to go off my head at any moment”.

“You were biting your nails weren’t you?” said Bengo.

“A bit”, said Bardin “But I’m fine. After that spanking I got yesterday I couldn’t be anything else! I’ still fuzzing from it”.

He put his hands down the back of his shorts for good measure, and felt his sore behind.

“How are we gonna keep smacking your bottom though if we have to go into super silence mode?” said Bengo “That can get quite noisy”.

“We’ll use the wireless room”, said Bardin “It has no windows in it. so that’ll be a help”.

“Ooh yes”, Bengo grabbed Bardin’s slippery body in his arms and kissed him ravenously.

Come sunset the piano was locked up for good measure, and everybody communicated in low voices. it was decided that they would, once again, all sleep in the Saloon, which always helped to induce a more low-key atmosphere.

“I take it the Club’s meeting first though”, said Julian to Adam, as everyone broke up for the night.

“Except Joby”, said Adam “He’s going on deck for a while, to keep an eye on Patsy. And he says Bengo should have a premium viewing, to make up for missing yesterday”.

“Well have fun, but don’t be long”, said Julian.

“It’s all in a good cause”, said Adam “If we have a calm, sane Bardin at the helm, then we’ll be able to cope with anything”.

He went into the galley, where Bengo and Bardin were fiddling with an oil-lamp.

“Everything all ready?” said Adam, in a soft voice.

“Should I change my shorts?” said Bardin.

“What’s wrong with these?” said Bengo, flicking the waistband.

“They will do wonderfully”, said Adam.

The three of them went into the wireless room next door, Bengo carrying the lamp.

“Oh now this will work splendidly”, said Adam, surveying the claustrophobic little cubby-hole “I can’t think why we haven’t used this before”.

He put down the stool he was carrying, and shut the door behind them. Bengo put the lamp on the wireless table. Bardin sashayed in, his starched shorts rustling.

Adam put Bardin over his knee, and caressed the seat of his shorts. Bengo joined in, caressing him too. Although Bardin yearned impatiently to be smacked, he also relished this feeling of simply lying there, in this humiliating position.

The spanks when they came weren’t as harsh as the day before. Hard enough to make sure Bardin felt them, but more leisurely, because they had to be aware of the noise level.

“Oh I want it to go on forever”, Bardin moaned.

“It will”, said Adam, stroking Bardin’s sweaty torso “This is superb. Us three by lamplight here. All furtive almost”.

Bengo helped Bardin to his feet, and Bardin’s shorts fell down. It was very hard not to break out into loud laughter.

“That will have to keep me going for a while I suppose”, said Bardin, as Bengo roughly pulled his shorts back up for him.

“Who says?” said Adam “In the daytime we can make as much noise as we like. After all, anyone approaching us in daylight can be seen from a long way off. They can’t sneak up on us like they can in the dark”.

“So in the daytime it’s business as usual?” said Bengo.

“I don’t see why not”, said Adam.

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