The Suluk maidens called him Imam (Holy Man). Their soft eyes shone with adoration for him. As the soft breezes wafted across Darvel Bay, they ran to him on naked feet.
At his command, they would divest themselves of their clothing. Their dark skins would reflect the light of the dying sun. Their smooth muscles would ripple in a rhythm of enticement as they began their dance of passion.
Later, he would lie comfortably with his head nestled against the soft naked bosom of a naked native girl. Quick fingers would play their lascivious games over his body. They'd exert their practiced pleasure against his thighs, travel their light path across the matted hair of his chest, reach eagerly for the heavy silver belt buckle.
While the other native girls chattered happily, waiting their turn, Wilhelm Smuts would lift the Suluk beauty in his arms and carry her to his private chamber.
For any normal man, a life of unrestricted lust in a tropic paradise would have been more than enough. But Imam Wilhelm Smuts was no ordinary man. There were rope burns which had never quite healed under his arm pits. His back was latticed with thick white scars. He walked with a slight limp. His eyes held a mad gleam. And for this, the daughters of the European settlers of Sarawak would pay a fearful price.
It hadn't always been that way. Smuts had been a young and handsome seamen who had joined the Dutch East India Company in search of adventure and wealth in the year 1754.
He had found his adventure in the arms of Beatrix Van Loon, the nymphomaniac daughter of the skipper of the windjammer, Lansdaam. The Lansdaam had been assigned to fight the British and Spanish in the Archipelago in the undeclared trade war. Her home port was Sempoma.
Smuts had conducted a clandestine affair with Beatrix Van Loon. Although she was a mere eighteen years old, her bedroom proclivities had been unbelievable. Practically insatiable, she had instructed Smuts in all the baser manifestations of sex.
One of her delights had been to watch the cruel punishments meted out to natives who were suspected of having helped the British. Like a little girl she would clap her hands in glee as the Suluk was bound hand and foot and left in the tropical sun until his eyelids burned off. She would make strange little sounds deep in her throat when her father would seize a parang and hack away the native's nose and lips.
Beatrix had been swarming all over Smuts in her naked lust when the sounds of her panting had been interrupted by the slamming of the door below. Smuts had frozen at the sound of the heavy tread on the stairs of the Van Loon house. A seaman taking his dalliance with the skipper's daughter would hardly have fitted into the pattern of acceptable shore leave behavior. He envisioned a month of being confined to quarters aboard ship.
But Smuts had failed to reckon with the diabolical cunning of his bedmate. Suddenly, she sat bolt upright. Beatrix raked his face and chest with her nails. He felt the sticky blood running down his flanks.
"Help!" she shrieked at the top of her lungs. "Help me! He's raping me!"
A second later, Van Loon burst into the room, surveyed the scene, gathered his sobbing daughter in his arms, and at the same moment unholstered the side arm and held it scant inches away from Smuts' head.
Three mornings later, the ship's piper blasted a mournful tune. Stripped to the waist, a parang prodding him forward, Smuts was securely bound to the mizzenmast. His eyes locked with the limpid blue eyes of Beatrix Van Loon, who stood demurely by the ship's rail. The twin red spots on her cheeks and the furious undulations of her firm breasts told him of the anticipation she felt.
The boatswain stepped forward, flicking dried bits of flesh from the cat. His biceps quivered. The cat whistled and splattered, tearing the skin from Smut's back. He bit down hard, almost severing his tongue in his refusal to give his erstwhile lover the satisfaction of hearing him scream.
On the tenth blow, Smuts shrieked like a woman. On the twentieth, he vomited. On the thirtieth he fainted. But even after the fiftieth, his punishment didn't stop.
He was only barely aware of the rope halter being run around his chest and under his armpits. Not until the brine closed over his head and ate its way into his wounds did he realize that Van Loon was also having him keelhauled.
Down he plunged through the murky water. His body banged sickeningly against the hull. His lungs caught fire as he fought to save what little breath was left to him. Then there was the sensation of having his shoulders dislocated as the line to the halter was jerked taut. With agonizing slowness he began to ascend from under the Lansdaam's very keel.
Twice more the process of keelhauling was repeated. At last, more dead than alive, Smuts had been lashed to a raft and tossed once again into the sea to await the coming of the man-eating tiger sharks.
For three days he floated on the water's glassy surface. Then, as if the hand of fate guided it, a quartering wind picked up the raft and plunged it onto the beach above Tungku.
The Suluks who would have slaughtered a white man had he not been turned out by his brothers, accepted Smuts. Their women nursed him back to health. Once again his limbs grew strong. But something had snapped in his brain for all time to come. While he accepted the favors of the satin skinned Suluk beauties, he roamed their village at night like a disembodied specter. His strangled cries for vengeance rang on the sultry air.
The madness became a diabolical cunning. He needed the Suluks for the plan which was maturing in his head. With their help, he would wreak his terror on the colonists.
The Suluk women were quick to accept Smuts as Imam. The males were a trifle more cynical. Not until he had led them on a raid against a Tungku outpost, and stripped, raped and mutilated a white woman before their eyes, would they acknowledge that he was fit to command their kumpits.
Smuts would do better than that. He would capture one woman and bring her back to Darvel Bay. Here he would show the tribesmen how worthy he was of their trust.
The fog which rose from the sea as the kuropit nosed its way towards Tungku covered most sounds. Nobody heard the muffled cry of the girl as the heavy blanket was tossed over her head. Nobody saw her legs flailing, revealing the perfect symmetry of her calves and thighs as Smuts carried her back to the kumpit and the native oarsmen flailed the water with their paddles. Thus did Whilhelm Smuts and Beatrix Van Loon meet again.
On their return to the hidden caves of Darvel Bay, Smuts ordered that a great feast be prepared. He had cause to celebrate. He laughed maniacally as he removed the blanket from his captive's head.
Beatrix Van Loon blinked at him stupidly for long minutes. Then her soft, almost petulant mouth bowed into a scream that reached beyond the grave. Smuts gripped her long blonde hair and wrenched the terrified girl to her feet.
"Nooooooo!" she wailed. She shrank back against the uneven stone wall, feeling its cold dankness against her flesh. One soft hand was stuffed into her mouth. The even white teeth clamped down hard.
Smuts advanced slowly towards her, making each step a signal of the horror to come. He emitted strange grunts which were more animal-like than human. His fists flexed and unflexed.
The Dutch girl watched his advance, and her eyes grew large as he neared. Now, she suddenly became aware of the Suluk girls who had crowded into the cave behind them, and her eyes focused on them. She raised her arms in supplication, and called to them desperately, "Please! In the name of humanity, do not let the dead man have me!"
The native girls stared at her impassively for the moment, then a ripple of delight filled the room. The golden one had said that Smuts was dead. If this were true then he must be reincarnated. He was in reality an Imam.
"You see, my little one, now I am the captain of a crew," Smuts sneered. "Now you are alone and I am all powerful. Now you will learn the delights of the pain which interests you so much."
Smuts' voice rang out over the jabbering of the Suluk women. "String her up!" he ordered.
Inexorably, her arms were drawn upward and tied to a rope which dangled from the cave ceiling. Her feet were drawn free of the cave floor. The rope sliced into her agonized wrists as she rotated slowly before her captors. Sweat gushed from every pore, making her clothing sodden.
She hung suspended in her agony, forced to watch her erstwhile lover take his dalliance with the most beautiful of the softly alluring Suluk girls.
"Savage!" Beatrix cried. "Beast! Free me this moment!"
"Savage, beast," Smuts leered. "I will free your tongue for another song. A song you taught me well." Arrogantly he disengaged himself from the embrace of the Suluk girl. Slowly he strode toward the bound golden one. Beatrix saw the thick leather whip slithering across the floor behind him. Her entire body went rigid.
The first blow crashed down around her shoulders, spinning her body. The tip of the lash embraced her, tearing clothing and skin from her pulsating body. Spasmodically her legs kicked out. The rope twanged with the increased strain. Her scream rose over the heads of the watching natives.
Before it had subsided into a muffled gasp, it shot up again borne on the wings of the lash which now swirled around her waist.
Smuts was using the bullwhip to strip his victim, to humiliate her before the natives, to show them her weakness. Beatrix saw the shift falling away, felt the dank air toying with her, felt it drying the sweat where it lay along the column of her spine. The lash followed every contour of her body, finding it, outraging it. Her back, her hips, the plumpness of her thighs, the softness of her breasts were ravaged in the manner of a savage. Even after she had fainted, the whipping went on. The vengeance cries of Wilhelm Smuts rose above her.
Only when she had revived did Smuts cut her down. Then he took her in the manner of a savage. If the pain of the whipping had been spawned in hell, it was nothing as compared to what he did to her before his adulating concubines.
The night lasted a thousand years for Beatrix Van Loon. And morning brought no relief. For with the coming of dawn, Smuts ordered her carried out into the blistering sunlight. They spread-eagled her naked arms and legs and tied them to stakes which had been driven into the ground. There she remained throughout the day. The jungle insects attracted by the matted blood on her once white body came and feasted. The searing sun blinded her. She knew she must go mad with the torture. But she survived it. She survived in order to enter the cave in the evening and taste all of the delicacies which Smuts' maniacal brain could develop.
Three weeks later a kumpit stole into the pier at Tungku and dropped what remained of Beatrix Van Loon's once beautiful body there. For her, the horror was finally over. But for the other daughters and wives of the colonists it had just begun.
Now all European women became Beatrix Van Loon to the renegade seaman. He reveled in the caresses of his Suluk concubines. But they alone were not enough to cool the fever which raged within him. They became incidental to his need to plunder, his need to torture, to rape, mutilate and murder. Smuts became the most feared pirate in the Archipelago. Where he had been in command of one kumpit, he came to own an entire fleet.
His method of operation was simple. He would run on the tide under cover of a dense fog. He would come ashore, strike, pillage, burn, kidnap the most beautiful woman available and return to his Darvel Bay retreat. There the pulleys would creak, the binding ropes grow taut, the fearful lash would sing its song of torment.
As the years went on, Smuts became more depraved. His concubines no longer held any interest for him. Their function now became to assist him in the diabolical tortures he devised.
The Dutch East India Company put a price of gold on the renegade's head. British, French, and Spanish ships joined in crisscrossing the tropic waters in search of Smuts. But their navigators were no match for his wily seamanship.
And in his lair the chains continued to rattle in outraged protest. The naked young woman hanging by her thumbs from the ceiling looked down into Smuts' eyes and saw them mirroring the glint of the cruel paranga. She'd feel the blade's cold touch on the softness of her breast. Desperately she'd swing her body in a tight arc, hoping some way to hide from the pain to come.
But the paranga would follow her. Its razor point would run the length of her nubile body. A long thin line of claret would appear on her alabaster flesh. And Smuts would laugh his maniacal song.
Perhaps Smuts might have lived out his bestial life and died an old and rheumy derelict had he not turned his back on the native concubines. But to refuse the advances of a Suluk woman was considered the worst offense a man can commit. Once spurned, the dusky beauties would never forget.
Smuts found the Suluks, too, were becoming addicted to torture. They reveled in the sights and sounds of his blood-letting. But their passion began to take a different path. As they watched the dismemberment of the colonists' daughters and wives, their emotions reached a fever pitch. The time had come for Smuts to replace his victims in the waiting chains.
On the night of October 21, 1763, the concubines struck. Smuts awoke from a drunken stupor to find himself hanging, head-down, in the cave. He clawed at the empty air below him. His howls of rage turned to whimpers of pain as the lash exploded across his naked back. The whip wielding concubines stood in a tight circle around him, taunting him with their obscene gestures. Long after every inch of skin had been flayed from his back, he dangled suspended, twitching and mewling in his death song. Thus died one of history's most depraved fiends.