Posts Tagged ‘History’

“Sandstorm”, from Tin Hinan, a novel….Book II, Chapter 5

May 19, 2014
Perhaps Niefa's baby and Tin pulling her away from Niefa for milking?

Perhaps Niefa’s baby and Tin pulling her away from Niefa for milking?



Seven years ago I started writing “Tin Hinan”, a novel about Berbers and a woman who became ‘the mother of us all’…a Berber Queen. Tin Hinan is an actual historical woman, from the 5th century who left with her slave, Takama from Morocco and traveled by camel to the mountains of central Algeria. There is little known about her, except she consolidated the Berber tribes to fight the Arabs in the area.  Berbers were not Arabs or Muslims then, having their own religions and culture, customs.  This novel is a work of fiction, but I drew upon the stories of Berbers I knew when I was a belly dancer those years ago. Though they were modern Berbers mainly from Morocco and Algeria, they gave me much information on an older culture.  It seems that many cultural things do not change so fast, especially when people reside in the mountains of both countries.

Sandstorms are a serious menace, today as then.  There can be a split second between survival and death.

Lady Nyo



“Sahara surrenders very few realities, only illusions”.   

—Berber wisdom


We could see the Amour, the Ksour mountains. They were blue, gray blurs in the far distance. These were lower ranges, but would be arduous enough. I had never travelled this route, even with the few months Takama, Niefa and I plodded to the mountain range where Immel and his men found us. We were still in the desert, where our small party traveled from oasis to oasis.  We had traversed the wadis, the Chelif and Tonil riverbeds, long stretches of oasis. The grass grew along the riverbeds when there was water enough to cultivate the foliage and where the palms and dates could dig deep into the sandy soil.  Our scouts proceeded us a day out.  We needed to be careful of the other caravans along the way. They also made sure we were headed in the direction of oasis, for water was our greatest concern.  Ours was so small, less a caravan more a raiding party. We were not, but we still could draw suspicion.  Immel said the majority of caravans had a thousand camels, but some of the Arab caravans had up to twelve thousand camels!  What a sight that must be, stretching out as far on the horizon.  Surely these caravans would carry the wealth of nations.  From what Immel and his tribemen said around the fire at night, this wealth was made up of many things. Gold, salt, slaves, cotton and silks.  Watermelons, spices, fruit, the kola nut and cotton seeds for planting.

Ah! Cotton was essential.  There was no other cloth to use in the desert. It protected from heat of the sun, and the bite of sand.  I learned to spin thread and weave cloth on small looms only two feet wide, but there were bigger looms in some tribes.  We stitched the lengths of cloth together and dyed it with indigo for the rich, dark blue that our men wore around their heads and across their faces. We also dyed the cloth with different flowers and herbs and fixed the color with camel urine.  But mostly we left it white and let it bleach out in lengths in the sun. It looked like strips of snow in the sunlight!

Several times we watched long caravans from a distance. They were hidden by dunes, or distance.  We did not get not close because we didn’t want to attract attention.  Our little party of twenty some camels and pack animals would be of little interest to these big outfits.  But we were careful, only approaching the smaller caravans. Of course, we knew the Berbers were the guides even in these big Arab caravans. They were well paid crossing the deserts from far flung towns with produce or booty.  Large slabs of salt, to be cut into smaller portions sold in the markets to the east and west had been brought from Mali in the south. All this would make their way to foreign cities.  This salt was so necessary for daily life. It was the basis of preservation of food.

It was a miracle that Takama and I didn’t succumb in the desert during our first crossing to the mountain where Immel found us.  Our navigation was from oasis to oasis, but we were more guided by luck and the scent of water in Niefa’s nose than our own abilities.  Now I understood how much of a miracle it was: yes, our course was different, and there was some purpose for this much longer route Immel was taking but still, it was by favor of the gods and goddesses.  Path- finding in the desert was a reading by stars, wind patterns, sand dune formations and even the color of the sand.  Immel and his men knew all these things of the desert, and we didn’t.  Perhaps that is why our appearance before them occasioned such wonder and disbelief from the elders of their mountain ksar.

Somehow we had survived.

There is a saying, probably Berber, as we are a wise people. “Sahara surrenders very few realities, only illusions”.  Perhaps it was also because our perception of distance was so unreal.  What looked like an oasis in the distance was only a shimmering of heat on the endless landscape.  Our trek from oasis to oasis had to be exact, within a day’s foretelling as we could die in the desert if our reckoning was off even by a few miles.  But Immel and his men were experienced in the desert, and I felt safe we would not perish.  Of course, there were other factors to consider about our survival, but that was not assured by any god or goddess.

One late morning near noon, when the day seemed to be exactly like the day before, and the day before that, a wind picked up and the camels started to be restless, bellowing and groaning , their nostrils flaring, as if they were scenting something in the air.  Suddenly we knew why.  There was an enormous cloud in the distance–stretching from the ground to heaven. The sky had turned a dull orange. It was very strange from the azure blue of just a few moments before. But it wasn’t a cloud, it was that most fearful of dangers– the sandstorm!  We could hear it coming, though it was miles off, a pounding roar like nothing else.   Immel and the other men gathered on their uneasy camels to discuss what to do.

There were some hills off to the west. Though we could not outrun a sandstorm, to attempt to do so would mean certain death, the hills might offer protection.  We turned towards those barren hills, whipping our camels into a gallop and clustered together, making the camels and pack camels to lie down together.  We got on the leeway side of the camels, and prepared for the storm.  We huddled together, and I saw Takama’s face, her eyes black and fearful, before she pulled her hood and cloths over them.  She had taken the two foxes in their cage, had covered them with the loose woven basket and heaped some of our luggage over them.  If she had to, she would lay herself over their basket to save them.  She had grown so fond of them.

Immel wrapped me in his burnoose and pulled me close.  I could feel his excitement and fear, as his heart pounded hard in his chest.  Takama cuddled behind me, almost digging underneath the camel.  We had made it in time, as the wind and the sand came barreling down the desert, and even though we were protected by the men and the covering of cloth, the sand was hard, abrasive on our clothes.  No one said a word, for to open your mouth would mean sand and dust, dust carried by the wind above the sand, small and dangerous pieces of rock and dirt, would enter our throats and go down our lungs, suffocating us.   The sun was blotted out. It was if nighttime had fallen at noon.  

The roar of the storm was ten thousand demons and zars riding the wind. Even if I didn’t have my ears wrapped shut, I could not have heard the sound of a human.

It seemed as if I had fallen asleep. I felt the heaviness of a deep sleep, but it was the heaping of sand all around and over us that was weighed me down.  Suddenly the roaring stopped. The storm had worn itself out, and the silence around us was unnatural after the roar before.

I heard Immel’s voice, as if from a long distance. He was shaking me to consciousness.  I wanted to go back to sleep, but this was not the sleep of the night. It was the sleep of an almost-death.  We were covered in sand and we shook ourselves to feel our limbs.  We had survived one of the worst perils of the desert.   Our camels had long lashes on their eyes, something to keep the sand out. Their nostrils closed to keep their lungs safe.  Thick and rough coats were also the reason they had not been beaten, flayed by the sand, but they too, had to work their way out of the heaping sand.  With bellows and groans and the help of the men, they pulled themselves upright, shaking themselves, creating miniature sandstorms in the doing.

Takama uncovered the basket and the foxes were gone!  Her eyes caught mine and I saw her sadness.  They were gone, swept away by the djinn of the sandstorm. Though Takama was desert bred and strong, she fought to hide her tears.  One of the men, who saw her distress, came over and bending down, started to dig away at the sand.  There, popping out their long noses, were the two foxes! With the intelligence of desert animals,  they burrowed down in the sand, safer from the storm than we above.

It is said that “The Desert is the realm of the Spirits” and to pilgrimage there is to come face to face with your mortality.  The night brought spirits, demons, zars, as they rode the cold night air. They also appeared during the day, when travelers were caught far from shelter, and had to survive the elements as best they could.  The roar of the sandstorm carried the voices of ghosts—men and camels who had perished in the Great Sahara for millennium.

 If history was to be believed,  50,000 soldiers of Cambyese’s army, had marched across the middle Sahara to fight the Ethiopians, only to perish in the desert in minutes, buried by ten feet of sand.  Their bleached bones, arrowheads and lances were left scattered across the barren landscape for 2500 years. 

The Sahara Desert was well called “The Mirror of the Soul”.  It made or broke men, and those who survived had their lives changed forever.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2012

“Tin Hinan”, Chapter 1, Section 4

March 14, 2012

(A Berber Woman with Berber silver and amber/wood jewelry, note also the striped cloth, distinctive of her tribe and location. These were woven on narrow hand looms and strips of cloth sewn together)

Section 4

Three days later I had recovered my senses under the loving care of my kinswomen.  I could now  sit up in my mother’s bed, for she would not have me leave her.  I drank mint tea until I was tired of walking out into the desert to squat .  I thought my senses had taken leave of me, for one night I started to walk out, after dark, when the desert turns dangerous, even more so than by day.  The old women told me there were Zars out there, waiting to claim my liver, but I knew there were desert snakes and scorpions and these alone were trouble enough.

I did not care.  I was torn between love, a pitiful, self-effacing sentiment where I  cried out for the man I had never really known.  But then, like a limb that has fallen over a high rock, and teeters, first one side then the weight of it on the other, I fell to hating Hasim with all my heart. My hatred for him made my fingers curl and a lump of burning pain in my stomach rise up to my throat.  If  he were before me now, I would savagely kill him with my bare hands.  He had brought shame on my family; he had disgraced me, the woman who was his intended, the woman who was to bear his many sons.

Until a new moon rose in the sky at night, I walked a part each night in the desert, tailed by the girl Takama, who was sent by my mother to watch me.  I bore her presence until finally annoyed, I yelled for her to go to the devil.  Takama was a good girl, a slave in our family, and she fell on her knees and threw her apron over her face.  I took pity and told her she could follow, but only at a distance of three camels. I turned and continued to pace out in the desert, always in a wide circle around our community’s many tents.  I was trying to make up my mind what to do. I knew my parents would take some kind of action, but I had my own to decide.

On the third night of my pacing, I went out into the desert, and forbade Takama to follow.  I had bathed myself in a ritual bath in the narrow river that ran through our oasis, and had thrown off all jewelry.  I unbraided my long black hair and drew on a white cotton dress, and barefoot I went into the desert.  There I chanted and prayed to my goddesses for I wanted their help in deciding my course.

Isis was the first goddess I prayed to, lifting my hands to the heavens and imploring her. It was Isis who gave justice to the poor and orphaned, and though I was neither, I knew she would hear my plight.  Isis was all-seeing, but apparently busy. 

I next prayed and chanted to Tanit and Tinjis.  I needed all the answers and ideas I could find.  They were silent, but suddenly I shivered. I knew  one of them had listened. Or perhaps it was a Zar that tickled my spine, for Zars were known to attack a woman when she went alone in the desert. They delighted in that.  It made access to souls so much easier.

But I was looking for something else. I was enraged at the treatment by that man. Now, my anger was such I could not speak his name except to spit it.

I closed my eyes, threw out my arms to the heavens, to the moonless sky above me and gave myself over to the vortex of my misery. Ayyur, the Moon God was one I exhorted, and then Ifri, the war goddess.  I needed some answers, some plan of action. I mumbled and prayed and exhorted them all until the constellations in the sky above me revolved with the passage of hours.

Finally, it came to me.  I knew what I would do when I heard the sound of the imzad, the violin only a woman can touch and vibrate.  I heard its sad sound floating over the desert in the evening air.  My destiny was staring me in my face.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2009, 2012

Chapter Three, TIN HINAN, Part two.

August 20, 2009

I fell asleep sitting at the fire, my blanket wrapped around me and covering my head. It was cold at night in the desert.  The wind picked up towards morning, and at some point in the night  I lay down, pulling my blanket tight around me. .  Someone had placed heated stones nearby and this helped ward off the chill of the night.

Towards dawn, I needed to pass water, and I walked into the desert.  In case I was watched, I stood and pulled up my robes high like a man would do.  Of course, I watered my leg, and the warm stream steamed in the cold morning air.  Shaking my leg and trying to wipe it dry on my gown, I headed back to the tents.  Women had brewed a strong mint tea with honey, and I was grateful for this and the breakfast of couscous, flat bread and  goat’s milk.

“You must stay with us as long as you like,” said the tall chieftain.

“We would have news of different tribes and we hunger for knowledge as to warfare.  We have heard of raiders from the north, these Arabs, who attack our settlements over the mountains and take our women and children for their slaves.  May Ammon slay these nonbelievers!”

The chieftain spat in the sand.

Ah! There was a problem.  Two problems, actually.  One there were possibly raiders around and also my stubborn determination to keep going. Where, I had no idea.  All those hours on top of Niefa, plodding eastward had led me to the belief that my fate was to be revealed.  I was to be carried on the sands of the desert to some final haven, where the still-galling thoughts of Hasim would be erased and I would emerge anew, in body and spirit. Somehow, I would be reborn from the distance I traveled and the time passed.

As I relate here: I was very young. I also was not prepared for what happened that day.

I had given my name the night before as Adal Berkan Yellel, which in our Amazigh language meant Tiger – Dark – to be Free.  All those hours on Niefa in the hot sun had baked my brains and I should have picked names less colorful.  But Adal Berkan Yellel I was now and I had days to memorize it.  I even felt I could wear these names truthfully, for I wanted my freedom from the previous shameful life.  It took many years for me to come to a place of peace with my shame, which really was not of my doing.

After breakfast, when Takama and I were attending to our beasts, I was asked by the chieftain, Zeggan Yuba , to walk with him out of the encampment to the edge of the desert.   I thought this reasonable, for he realized we were very young and was taking a fatherly concern for two youths alone in the desert.

We walked out from the oasis, past the chott, where dried flood lakes were depressions on the landscapes and came to a place of hamada; rock strewn plains.  Zeggan Yuba pointed out the Nubian bustards, other raptors and even desert eagles.  There were many migratory birds, some now traveling towards the mountains, flying with the updrafts from the heated plains,  and others in long flights from the shores in the north, many weeks travel from here.

I was watching a desert eagle, it’s effortless flight on the thermals above us, when Zeggan Yuba pushed me up against a large rock and placed his two hands on my breasts.  Then, before I could protest, he ripped the veil from around my face, and held it hard within his large hand.  His eyes searched my face, and at the same time, his other hand slipped down my belly to my woman’s place.  Obviously, to his satisfaction, I was no man.  Just when I thought I would be raped, he stepped back and laughed softly.

“I thought you were a woman from the first time I laid eyes upon you.  By all the Gods, tell me now the truth, and I will not betray you.”

I fumbled to rearrange the veil over my face, and he slapped my hand away.

“Do not increase your sin.  Men, and only real men may wear the tagelmonst. You are clearly a woman, though I could find out for sure if you defy me.”

My eyes widened in fear, and in spite of my former swaggering, tears, a woman’s shameful tears, collected in my eyes.

“I implore you, O Father, not to betray me, nor hurt my slave, Takama.  I am a woman, though I run from that knowledge, and I take my slave with me in my journey.”

The desert men are a tough breed, immured to death and violence and many horrors of life, but they can be just men, and their word is their honor.  I was assuring myself my truthful words would not fall on deaf ears.  For him to violate me would also defame his own reputation.

So I told him my circumstances, and how I had come to be in the desert with only a slave girl as a companion.  He squatted in the sand and I sat on my haunches as a proper woman would before a man, and poured forth my sad tale.

Zeggan Yuba was silent, and only the eyes above his veil gave me encouragement to tell him my story.  At that time, he had the power of life and death over both Takama and myself.  I was appealing to his tasa, the liver, where we desert people, now called Berbers, say the soul dwells.

All Berbers love a good story, they are the best in the world for storytelling and poetry.  We are a talkative people and enjoy jokes and humor, too. I could see he was weighing carefully all I told him.

“Tell me, my child, what your name is, and don’t think for one moment I believe it to be “A free dark tiger’.”  He laughed softly, his eyes never once moving from my face.  Even though I was stained by the indigo across my cheeks, I blushed as any woman would do, caught in a lie or by flattery.

I told him my birth name was Aicha, and the name of my father’s tribe.  I also said how far we had traveled, and that I was determined to find my fate, whether it was as bleached bones in desert, or in a village somewhere far from there.

Zeggan Yuba nodded his head, and sucked on a tough grass he pulled from a clump nearby.

“You show courage far beyond your years, but you don’t have the wisdom to back it up.”

I dropped my eyes to the sandy soil and was quiet. He was right, I was on a course dangerous and deadly, not only for myself, but I was dragging Takama into my fate, and this was compounding my sins.

“We are a hard but just people, my Aicha.  If I were you, I would return to the tribe of your father.  So you have cut off your woman’s crowning glory?  It will grow back.  You will find another man to marry, for you are comely, inspite of the indigo dye on your face.”

He looked out towards the desert, his eyes like a hunting hawk, narrowed from the sun’s rays on the sand.  Even his bent nose looked like the beak of a bird of prey.

“ When you are young, you find great problems insurmountable, but when you grow older, your wisdom grows with you and these problems will lessen, with prayer to the Gods and patience to listen.”

How could I tell Zeggan Yuba that I had rendered myself unworthy for a husband, for what man will marry a woman without a maidenhead? Yes, if I was widowed or divorced, but that was not my station. No, I had no choice but to push on, and hope that fate would clear my vision and rest my liver.

Zeggan Yuba watched me closely and shook his head.  “Aicha, Aicha, I see your father has bred a stubborn child.  You will not listen to me?  Isn’t returning to your tribe better than a mass of bleached bones in the desert? Or think of a raider party, what chance would two young girls have against such odds?”

He meant well, but I was Zar-driven, or I must have been, because all his reason fell on deaf ears.  It was as if the Goddesses had stopped up my ears along with their own. I shook my head and he put out his hand and patted my shoulder, much as a father would do to comfort his child.

“If you are determined to go, we will supply you with food and water, enough to get you both across the mountain and down into the valleys.  There you will find another settlement and hopefully you will make your way in safety.  I have promised to keep your secret, Aicha, but know there will always be a place for you in our tribe if you have a change of heart.”

Again he looked out towards the desert and sighed.

“Think of my words, Aicha, when the winter’s winds howl and you and your slave are alone in the mountains.  Think of the warmth of our fire and the smell of our stews. Perhaps your stubborn heart with turn with the scent of our food in your nostrils and the howling of your empty stomachs.”

Later that day I exchanged a silver necklace and bracelet for the generous water and food given to us.  Mounted on my Niefa, with Takama on her donkey behind,  I gazed into the eyes of Zeggan Yuba, as he stood besides me, his eyes searching my face.  I had returned the veil across my own, and my eyes filled with tears.  Kissing our fists and touching our foreheads, we bid each other goodbye, and turning our beasts to the east, we started our journey over the mountains.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2009

“DEVIL’S REVENGE”…..I am posting this chapter because I am lost in reading this weekend…

November 29, 2008

I am reading the “Goddesses in Everywoman” book by Dr. Bolen, but I also started reading William Manchester’s “The Last Lion” about Winston Churchill late last night.

This last book is just about one of the very best history/bios I have ever read.  It is so absorbing, so exciting I couldn’t put it down, even knowing that it jumped ahead in the queue.  Pure self indulgence here. But then again, life can be so, and at times, should be.

This is a chapter from a novel.  I penned this work two years ago. It is very rough, so I warn any readers.  However, it has a certain charm.  It’s set in the 1820’s in post Colonial New Jersey, where I grew up.  I swear I know these characters, and actually they are local historical characters and I know where they are buried. I have played on their graves. Garrett Cortelyou was a Revolutionary War soldier and built my house in Belle Mead, New Jersey.

This time around Garrett Cortelyou is a Devil. He appears around 38 but is very old. He’s a Devil kicked out of Hell for some reason. Betsy is a 21st century writer, in fact was writing a novel, “Heart of the Maze” set in the 1820’s, wakes up in the bed and house of her novel. Garrett lives there and is able to read Betsy’s mind.  She is picking up some of his traits…a cross pollination and is beginning to morph into his world.

Lady Nyo


Bleary with sleep, a dull pain in my head, I opened both eyes carefully.  That wine last night, it must be the reason  why my stomach hurts.   I am playing with fire if I continue to …  Oh Crap!  I’m back here again!  I sigh with disgust, my legs tangled in the sheets.  This bedroom has become my new dungeon and looking out of the east window, is the dungeon master.  I turn over and stare at him.

“Good Morning”.   This time he said it in English instead of the Dutch but didn’t turn from the window.

“Ah, Garrett, how long have you been there?”  I yawned, rubbed my eyes and pulled my mobcap off.  His commanding me here, both body and soul, was becoming routine.

“Not long”, he said, continuing to stare out the window.   I looked at his figure illuminated by the sharp morning light.  He was a pretty (“handsome” I heard him think!) man, broad in the shoulders, his back narrowing down to full buttocks. Wearing the usual shirt of gentlemen and farmers, a heavy white linen cut full at the sleeves, his waistcoat was sleeveless, made of dark plum colored wool, and reached to his hips.  The breeches were cut from heavy twill and his boots were brown leather, scuffed about the ankles.  He had walked in deep mud somewhere for the bottom of his boots were covered with muck.

“Get up, I want to do something different today.”  Ah, this was a change; he usually wanted sex first thing in the morning.

“Oh, that for later—more important  things first.”  He finally turned from the window, hands on his hips, and looked at me with dour expression.

“Van Doren down the road  has a litter of pups.  Daniel said they’re old enough to take from the bitch.  I want the whole litter.  I’ll train them as gun dogs and hunt them next fall”.

Oh God, he probably will want to stable them here where it’s warm…

“My guess is you haven’t been paying attention here.  This house is  haunted,”  he said softly, his eyes narrowing to slits.

“What do you mean, ‘haunted’?”  I shivered a little though the bed was quite warm.

“Those dogs will be flesh and blood, as you are, but invisible.  No one would feed them.”

“So, I could go downstairs to Daniel and Anna and they wouldn’t see me?”

“Hell, I could stick you on the end of my –“


“– and walk you around the house, and they still wouldn’t notice.   They may wonder why John Thomas was saluting the wind, but you would be air.”

I had to laugh.   He had a way of describing things. Vulgar, but comical.

“What time is it, Garrett?”  I yawned and stretched my arms over my head, not wanting to move from the warmth of the bed.

“Time you get your pink butt up and come with me.”  He went to the wardrobe and started tossing clothes.   Out came some petticoats, woolen stockings and a heavy linen chemise.  He rummaged around the hooks and drew out a green woolen dress.

“Can I use the chamberpot first, please?”  I slipped to the side of the bed, my feet getting cold from the draughts on the floor.

“Do you need any help with that?”,  he asked, half turning around to me.

“I need you to leave the room so I can get dressed.”

“Won’t happen. I happen to like seeing you struggle into your clothes.  Makes me horny.”

“Everything makes you horny, Devil.”

He grinned, his foul lust a tease and a torment.  I peed as fast as I could, knowing he would not leave me in peace.

The clothes were thrown on the table by the fire.  “Come here, be my angel and let me dress you.” He was sitting there with his legs spread.

“Are you a crazy man?  I can very well do it myself.”  He had some nerve this morning.

“Have it your way.”  He snapped his fingers and my nightgown fell to the floor.  I was naked, the room cold, and he still a damn devil!

“Garrett!  Stop screwing around!  I’m freezing.”  It was one thing to be naked  by candlelight,  another to be standing in the sharp eastern glare of early morning.  This type of light magnifies all imperfections.  I heard him mumble something….

“Love casts a glamour on things.” He was still reading my thoughts, I see.  His words surprised me, for they were tender and human.

“Put you leg up on my knee and I’ll pull your stocking up.”  I balanced myself on one leg, and put an arm on his shoulder.  I could smell the sharp smell of brimstone.

“Very funny.  Now, the other one.”  He couldn’t resist running his hand up my inner thigh.  I slapped at him and jumped back.

He held out the heavy linen shift, and pulled it over my head and opened two petticoats for me to step into.

“What about my bloomers and stays?”

“I like you without them.  Easier to get to the nicest parts.”

Oh, he was a nasty demon this morning, but he did get me dressed.  He seemed to know his way around the hooking and lacing of tapes, and all were in place. I wondered what shoes to wear.

“Oh…must not forget these.”  He snapped his fingers, and a big pair of Dutch wooden shoes appeared at my feet.  I stared at them and started to laugh.

“You write about Dutch farms and farmers, yet you don’t know the muck they produce.  Guess women writers from your century float over the shit.  We’ll probably cross over a couple of pigsties in the going.”

Lovely.  Just what I wanted to do with my morning.

“You’ll enjoy the fresh air.  And I want those dogs, so let’s get going.  It’ll give you something real to write in your book.”

He walked to the door, and I gingerly went after him.  He muttered a low curse, and picked me up over his shoulder like a sack of flour . A wooden  shoe fell off my foot and tumbled down the stairs, sounding like thunder as it bounced to the hall floor.   He dropped me on my feet and led me to the front steps.   A two seater  rig and a black horse were standing outside.  Of course! A black horse, something a devil would ride.

“Would you be quiet?  The horse might have feelings on the matter.”

I laughed at him.  He was entertaining this morning!

He helped me into the rig and walking to the head of the horse, whispered to him.  He grabbed up the reins and the horse trotted to the main road, turned left and moved out smartly on the highroad.

I held onto my bonnet, which was falling back with each jounce of the rig. The horse seemed to skim over the dirt, getting faster and faster.   “You really want those dogs!”,  I said with a laugh.

My Demon grinned at me as he shook the reins, and the horse fairly flew down the road.

The air was fresh and brisk for it was early winter.  The fields were dun-colored  but the cloudless sky was a crisp blue.   I could see trails of smoke rising from distant houses across the far hills.  At least the scenery looked normal with cows huddled under trees and along fences. I thought of a piece of Handel I had heard the night before.   Written for harpsichord, last night played on piano.  The rhythm of the music mimicked the fast trotting of the black horse.  Suddenly I was hearing the music! I looked over at Garrett and saw him smile. The black leather of the rig surrounding us was our stereo and the horse’s speed matched the tempo of Handel….Ah! a good piece of magic!

We traveled for a mile then the horse turned to the left.  Down a short land was a large, white house.  Behind it were red barns. .  Garrett stopped the rig and helped me down in the cumbersome shoes.  He straddled the rig right over the mud and I looked at him with a grimace.  My shoes sank almost to the ankles.  He grinned and led us to the back of the house near the barns.

“Van Doren!” Garrett shouted.  “I’m here to see those dogs.”

A clang like a bell rang out, but it only was a piece of metal being dropped. It bounced around for a bit.    A rotund Dutch man came walking out the dark passageway his eyes blinking in the bright sunlight.

“Ah, young Cortelyou! Goedenmorgen to you!”  He wiped his hands on his trousers as he came toward us.  “So you here to purchase my pups?  Well, there’s others hearing of this fine litter, so it’s goot you come when you do.”    The joy of exchange among countrymen was both in the bargaining,… and the coin.  I was raised in the dutch countryside of New Jersey.  I had seen this exchange numerous times.

Van Doren looked to be in his sixties.  He was a hale and hearty man, with a halo of white hair standing up on his head.   He had a full white beard , bright blue eyes and a red nose that signaled he liked his ale too much.

“This is my Aunt Sophie from upcountry, Abraham.  She’s visiting Catherine for a month.”  His Aunt!  Do I appear that much older than he?  Well, at least I wasn’t  wasn’t  a ghost to van Doren.   He gave a slight nod and lead us into the barn.

“There’s four pups, but one of them’s  a runt.  All livers this time, with white chests.  They’ll be about 2 months out, I believe.  You wanting the whole litter?”

“I would, first I see them.”  It seemed to me men talk differently to each other.   Sharp, short sentences as if they were fearful of too many words.

“Dam’s my Lilly, and not a finer dog in the township.  The sire is Rumble from over Vieght’s way.”

“How did she take to Rumble?  He’s a brute of a dog, too tall to the withers for a  spaniel.”

“Aye, these are big water spaniels, all except for that runt, which probably won’t live.  I should bash her head in.  The others will grow better.”  Van Doren was silent a moment in thought.    “So, you thinking of breeding your own pack here?”

“When I see them, Abraham.”  Abraham walked to the back of the barn, and in a dark stall, a bitch lay in a corner, her pups in the straw.

“Hush, Lilly, some one to see you.”  ‘Lilly’ was a thin hound, small for a water spaniel.  The birthing must have been hard, for three of the pups were large.  The fourth lay next to her, hopefully asleep.

Abraham van Doren,  a farmer and used to all sorts of death, picked up the runt by the back feet and shook it to see if it breathed..  I uttered a cry and rushed toward his hands.

“Give her to me!  Don’t shake her like that.”  The Dutchman almost dropped the pup in surprise, but handed her over.  It was now awake and I held her to my breast, warming her with my cloak.  I looked defiantly at Garrett and saw him suppress a smile.

“Abraham…I’ll take all the pups, and if you throw in the runt for my ‘Auntie’ here, I’ll give you a shilling more.”

They settled on a price for the dogs. Picking up and old basket, Abraham van Doren dropped the pups in.   Lilly whined and struggled to her feet.

“Quiet now girl.” His voice was kindly. “You’ll get some meat with your porridge tonight.”

We left the dim barn, and reentered the sunlight.  My eyes blinked and finally adjusted.  A few more minutes with Abraham van Doren,  and I mounted the step to the rig.
Garrett placed the basket at my feet and taking the reins from the post, turned the black horse homeward.

“So…I hear I’m your ‘Auntie’?  Does incest play into this story?”  I looked at his profile, and saw him smiling.

“I told you about the glamour.  Convenient part of magic, that trick.  Can make people see whatever you want.”

“Oh.”  I couldn’t resist asking him.  “And how did I look to Abraham van Doren?”

“Oh, old enough to throw off any scent of scandal.  About Catherine’s age.”

“With all the wrinkles and fallen- in gums?”

“Yep…and bald under your cap and bonnet.”  He was laughing now, and turned his wicked eyes on me.

“Thanks a lot, Sweet Demon!”  I said with sharply.  “Now you can read my thoughts and alter my appearance?  Is there anything you can’t do to me?”

“I told you when you first sat on my knee, in this story I am pulling the strings.  You write the book, my good little ‘Auntie’,  and I direct the play.”  He gave a short laugh and turned silent for a moment. “I can make you do anything I want… except one thing.”

“And quickly tell me what that is!”, I said laughing.

Looking ahead at the road, he answered.  “I can’t make you love me.”

My heart flipped in my chest, and my eyes misted over.

Ah, Garrett, my sweet Demon.   I am glad you aren’t looking.   My face would betray me.  I would be totally lost.

Jane Kohut-Bartels
Copyrighted, 2008

Sense and Sensibility…about Men.

November 12, 2008

I admit I don’t have it. About men.

I am amazed by other people…especially girlfriends, who have to explain to me what should be very clear….but isn’t.

I don’t know if it is my age/culture/life experience or what…but I don’t seem to be able to navigate the ‘hidden’ (or up front) messages men throw out.

At least towards me.

I usually am simple enough to take men at face value. This seems to be a big mistake. I miss much of the hidden agenda, and am caught in a web of confusion…that’s IF I later on realize there Was something just below the surface.

A while ago, I met a fellow who constantly told me “Don’t try to read between the lines, girl. There is nothing there.” I don’t believe it…in any man.

There is usually something between the lines…whether he/they or me can acknowledge it. As I said…I miss a lot.

The munch situation was a good case in point. I was sitting with a favorite friend, a man who is very versed in world history, WWII, Churchill, naval history, etc. He is someone I get together to talk with and it’s a rare occasion when I realize  he is an attractive and winsome Dom…and I am a woman who has my own attraction to him.

We were at a highly sociable and charged munch…the Buckhead Munch, the longest running munch in the Atlanta area…many years…and John Taurus and I were deeply involved in a discussion ranging from Rommel, to the Boer Wars, to Churchill’s activity there, to Laval during the Vichy government in France, to god only knows what else. I think I threw in Neville Chamberlain in there somewhere. John threw in Pearl Harbor and the change in naval command during Roosevelt’s war time. I looked up and a couple of people were laughing. I got it later from  girlfriends.

“Do you and John have any idea what a munch is for?”  Other such questions.

No, I guess I don’t…but John is much more experienced in these things….and he certainly makes the round for hugs and greetings. I am a bit shyer and go for my girlfriends there.  I generally avoid the Doms.  As I said, I am a bit shy…sometimes.

I just talked to John. We are very happy with our discussions on history, war and these sort of things. Perhaps someday we will get around to the topic of bdsm….and maybe…when we run out of wind….the PRACTICE of bdsm.

John is known as a  very good ‘sensation player’. He is also known as a good singletail user. He is a gentle and intelligent man. The best kind of friend.

Perhaps someday, we will stop in mid sentence…argument….etc…and realize that opposite each other is a sexually attractive and interested ‘other’.

Who wants to ‘play’.

But we are both full of wonder at the world and deep within the realm of ideas and opinions….and for now?

It’s enough. Thank you, John….for a friendship that is easy and delightful!



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