Tale no. 18 – The Galley Slave
‘I was a galley slave in Ancient Barbaria. I worked on board the barge of the beautiful Princess Nefertiti of Barbaria, although we galley slaves never got to actually see the princess herself. Apparently she couldn’t bear the stench of our sweaty bodies down in the galley, and preferred to stay in her own, luxurious quarters on the upper deck of her opulent barge.
We galley slaves were chained up in rows of three men to an oar, on either side of a central, raised, wooden gangway, on the lower deck of the barge. I never got to know the names of the two other slaves I was chained beside on my oar, as talking amongst the slaves was completely prohibited. We were only permitted to talk to our taskmistresses – and then in humble slave-speak, and only to beg for their sweet, feminine mercy or to praise and bless them for whipping us.
Fortunately for me, however, I was chained at the end of the row right next to the central gangway, so I had a good view of our various taskmistresses’ pretty feet as they strolled nonchalantly up and down the deck, wielding their whips on the bare backs and shoulders of those of us who were, quite literally, not pulling our weight.
I’m ashamed to say that the pretty taskmistresses had occasion to whip me often as I was a fairly weak man, slight in stature and indolent by nature. However the stimulus of the female whip certainly spurred me on to make greater efforts, and the clever taskmistresses soon had the measure of me. ‘Be sure to whip no. 23 often, for he is a lazy, slothful fellow’ a new taskmistress would be informed by her mentor.
Although, from my chained up and seated position at the oar, I never got to see the beautiful faces of my various taskmistresses over the years, I did get to know their names, their voices and, of course, their legs and feet. The taskmistresses wore short, plain brown skirts and flat, brown leather, strappy sandals on their beautiful, feminine feet. They came from all parts of the Empire having once been slaves themselves. They had all been rescued by the Barbarian Female Army and brought to the safety of the Gynarchy where women ruled over men with a rod of iron! There were no female slaves in the Gynarchy. Just male slaves like myself – in many cases the former captors of the taskmistresses, so it is understandable that the latter should have had a deep hatred for the male galley slaves, and enjoyed exercising their newly-found female power and authority over them.
One taskmistress whom we all feared in particular was mistress Olufura, a tall, black girl from Central Africa. Mistress Olufura was quite young – in her mid twenties – when she first took up her position as one of the taskmistresses on the princess’s barge, but she quickly had the measure of us all.
Mistress Olufura was very beautiful – at least, judging by her shapely, long, black legs and strong, curvaceous calf-muscles – but her extreme beauty was only matched by her extreme cruelty. She was an ardent believer in the whip, and liked to mark each and every galley slave’s back and shoulders at least once during her individual tours of duty on the barge.
I, for one, will never forget the first stroke of her lash across my bare, right shoulder. Although I had been a galley slave for many years by that point, and was therefore accustomed to the sting of feminine whips, I truly had never experienced pain such as I felt at the end of mistress Olufura’s brown, leather, single-tailed slave-whip!
It was precisely because she was so tall and strong – a virtual giantess of a young, black woman – that she was able to inflict so much pain with just one cut of her single-tailed, leather whip! More than that, it was her sheer accuracy with the whip that impressed us most. She could overlay a stinging red stripe several times with frightening efficiency, and then produce, seemingly at will, a painful criss-crossed pattern of several such overlaying stripes on our cringing, sweaty, slave backs - stripy red grids which were, humiliatingly, viewed as works of art by her envious fellow taskmistresses, painted on the pale, skin canvasses of our bare, white, galley slave backs. Within months taskmistress Olufura was tasked with mentoring the other taskmistresses in exactly how to whip a prone and vulnerable galley slave!
But what really set mistress Olufura apart, for me at any rate, was the sight and aroma of her beautiful, black feet. They were much larger and broader than those of her white counterparts, and, seated as I was next to the central, wooden gangway where she walked up and down caressing and cracking her beloved, leather whip, I found it truly fascinating to observe all the tiny wrinkles and creases in her bare, brown footflesh inside her matching, brown leather sandals.
I was particularly fascinated by the differences in the hues of her brown footskin. She was a very dark-skinned lady from deepest Africa, and her soles were much lighter in shade than her arches and insteps – almost pink – making it possible to mentally trace a line along the lower part of her foot where the pinky brown of her black soles merged into the deeper brown of her soft, black arches.
And as for her shapely toes – well, the contrast between the pale, pinky skin underneath her toenails and on her cuticles, and the dark, rich brown of her actual toeflesh, was stark! How I admired mistress Olufura’s toes – even if they were, it has to be said, generally stinking and dirty.
I knew they were stinking and dirty because, not only could I clearly see mistress Olufura’s feet and sandals as she marched up and down beside me along the central gangway; seated as I was right next to the areas where she walked I could also smell her feet and sandals. And believe me, the musty, leathery smell of her strappy, brown leather sandals in no way masked the pungent aroma of mistress Olufura’s bare, brown feet!
It was, perhaps, inevitable that mistress Olufura’s feet would be hot and sweaty – given the nature of her work: on her feet all day long; exhorting us to harder work through her own, conscientious exertions with the whip! Of course she was bound to build up a sweet, feminine sweat - but mistress Olufura was not one to relax or slack just because she was hot and sweaty. She worked hard, and demanded that the slaves under her charge worked hard too. We all sweated on that barge when mistress Olufura was on duty– everyone except, presumably, the fragrant Princess Nefertiti, relaxing on her sun-lounger on the upper deck, blissfully unconcerned about the suffering of the slaves on the lower deck beneath her pretty, perfumed feet!
The main reason, however, why I have such fond memories of taskmistress Olufura and her beautiful, sweaty black feet, is that she was one of the taskmistresses who enjoyed having her feet kissed by the galley slaves – and particularly those galley slaves who, like me, were seated directly next to the central gangway – as our faces and tongues were easier to reach!
Most of the taskmistresses would present their feet for kissing at some time or other – particularly just before or after they had whipped you, and you were seeking to verbally grovel towards them either by way of begging them for mercy and not to whip you; or by way of thanking them for having whipped you.
I can remember one incident, in particular, with mistress Olufura. It happened about 6 months after she started her new job as a galley-slave taskmistress. I was feeling a bit under the weather and exhausted one evening as we neared the end of a long journey on the barge. I was, quite frankly, floundering under the sheer weight of the heavy, wooden oar. The ever alert and astute taskmistress Olufura of course quickly picked up on this, and, inevitably, I soon saw her large, brown, strappy-sandalled feet marching angrily towards me – the business end of her matching single-tailed, brown-leather whip dangling beside her strong, muscular brown shins as she uncoiled it ready to strike me on my lazy, work-shy back.
I had already had enough pain for one day as she had had occasion to whip me at least twice already during the course of this particular journey, and I therefore decided to plead for mistress Olufura’s sweet, feminine compassion and mercy in the humblest of humble slave-speak:
‘Oh pray, goddess-taskmistress Olufura, if it pleases you, sweet, feminine goddess-taskmistress Olufura, this lazy, indolent slave humbly begs for your sweet, African-female mercy! Oh pray, goddess-mistress Olufura, this weak and feeble galley slave will try harder. Oh pray, mistress! Oh pray, sweet mistress! Please don’t beat me, mistress. I am in your power. I kiss your feet, mistress!’
I already knew that goddess-taskmistress Olufura liked having her feet kissed as it augmented her sense of power over the cringing, male galley slaves at her feet, and sure enough – rather than whip me (or so I thought) – she extended her long, shapely, glistening with sweat, black leg out under my face, resting her large, brown-sandalled foot directly onto a wooden plank beneath the heavy wooden oar that I was chained to, and just inches below my gormless, pleading, whining face:
‘Kiss my big toe, bone-idle slave!’ she barked down at me in her thick, African accent.
I could smell the strong, vinegary odour of her feminine footsweat mixed in with the musty smell of her sweaty sandal-leather as I lowered my lips to touch the sticky, dirty, big toe on her imperiously outstretched, right foot. There was a clearly discernible slither of sweaty, black toe-jam running along the inside of the upper rim of her big toenail, and, somewhat bizarrely, I also found myself thinking that the filthy, dusty, sole of her brown, leather, sweat-soaked sandal was now soiling the wooden plank where my one, humble meal of stale bread would be placed at the end of the day.
However the sight of the tapered end of her brown, leather whip dangling beside her strong and shapely, black calf muscle soon dispelled any feelings of distaste or revulsion from my galley-slave mind. This was my chance to avoid the terrifying sting of mistress Olufura’s whip by paying homage to, and placating, her big toe!
I duly pressed my lips to her dirty, big-toenail and kissed.
Miss Olufura laughed:
‘Ha! Ha! Weak man!... Slave!...African woman’s foot-kisser!...Olufura despises you!’ she crowed.
And the next thing I knew was a blazing stream of fire racing across my back and shoulder all the way down to my buttocks and groin.
She had whipped me after all!
And then she whipped me again! And again! Overlays!
Naturally I cried out in shock and pain.
‘Work harder, African woman’s slave! Pull on your wooden oar! Sweat for Olufura! Praise her and bless her for inspiring you to work by means of her toe and her whip!’ she exhorted me.
Mistress Olufura’s brown, leathery, big toe and brown, leathery big whip certainly had inspired me to greater physical efforts, as I now found myself rowing with renewed vigour – a lesson to all the other slaves in the power of the female foot and whip!
With each pull of the heavy, wooden oar I kissed mistress Olufura’s - still arrogantly outstretched in front of me - dirty, bare, big toe, and somehow also retained enough breath and reserves of energy to obey her command to praise and bless her for taking the time to discipline and inspire me:
‘Oh pray, mistress Olufura….kiss….if it pleases you, mistress Olufura…kiss…truly this slave is not worthy to taste the sweat of your big toe…kiss… and the sting of your righteous lash. Oh pray, mistress….kiss….the pain! Oh the pain!…kiss’
What a pathetic sight I must have been as I thanked and blessed my African taskmistress by kissing her dirty, sweaty, big toe whilst she towered over me triumphantly, whip in hand, admiring her criss-crossed artwork on my back and shoulders.
I may have been a galley-slave and not a footslave, but the smell and feel of my African taskmistress’s bare, African foot on my lips, whilst my back was throbbing with the pain from her whip, is one of the most precious memories I have.’
From Footslaves' Tales Volume 2