It was Monday, July 7, and the auction was to take place the next day. The crew was to prepare the Negros for the inspection of the buyers, a sometimes cruel event none of the slaves was prepared for. This day the prep would begin. All slaves would be washed and scrubbed mercilessly, both males and females. All the hair would be shaved from the body, a process called smoothing. Any cuts, sores or scars would be covered with a mixture of grease and black tar to hide any imperfections. Then the entire body would be rubbed down with grease or fat to make it shine. Once ready for show, the slave would be ushered to the auction block. Standing before the buyers, naked, and being examined, probed and prodded, over the entire body was a most dehumanizing event for males as well as females. The younger males commanded higher bids if the private parts were large in size and the females likewise were more lucrative if they were virgin. The auction moved very quickly. The most desirable were males 12 to 18 years old, strong and agile. The females 14 to 16 years old, virgin, and having the appearance of good childbearing capabilities, were also in high demand.
It was Manni’s turn on the block. Several buyers showed interest, especially because he could speak Dutch, and appeared to be rather intelligent. Captain Hannibal did not want to see Manni at auction, and Tamar begged him to please reconsider, but his rationalization was ‘business is business.’ The price paid for Manni, though he had just turned thirteen years old, was the highest of the day, by almost double. He had many years of potential usefulness ahead of him, and was “A good purchase.” the buyer said. Manni was tagged and taken to a holding pen, much like cattle. There, he was branded with the plantation’s logo. The pain from the red-hot iron was excruciating. Grease was then applied to the brand to mainly prevent infection, but it also helped ease the pain.
The auction being completed, the buyers made their way to the holding pens to claim their property. A well-dressed man, looking to be fairly young, and a young lady approached the pen where Manni waited. The man walked toward Manni and pointed to him, without speaking, and motioned him to come with him. Manni was very Uncomfortable being naked in front of the young lady, but she didn’t seem to mind. After all, he was just property. Manni was handed over to a large Negro man and put on the back of a wagon with three others, one man and two women. He was given a shirt and a ragged pair of pants, but at least he was no longer naked. There was no talking as the wagon began the journey to their new home. Leaving the slave market, Manni saw other slaves he recognized from the Albatross, on wagons and some walking to begin their new life.
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Genre – Historical fiction
Rating – PG
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