The party was in full swing and was likely to go on till the early hours. Christmas on the plantation was a holiday for the slaves and a chance to catch up with members of their family who were working on neighbouring cane fields.
It was a rare day, one of only a few when the slaves did not labour in the fields for their Dutch masters. These special days all coincided with holy days like Christmas and Easter. Each had a veritable feast, plenty of the local hooch, distilled from the cane sugar and a large open pit fire.
They made music. Mostly with a West African basis, but some Caribbean influences made subtle differences to the cadence and rhythms. They danced frenetically and then, when exhausted by the effects of rum and dance, they made love with a wild abandon, knowing that their hangovers would pass during the next day of rest, but the fruits of their couplings might just mean new children, born to the Master, in slavery.
Jan's eyes twinkled in the reflected light of the huge fire that blazed in the pit. He had perhaps, a little more of the potent rum than he should have. Not quite drunk, but near enough for his coordination to be affected. He sat down heavily on a tree trunk, hoping that his head would clear sufficiently for him to make it back to the colonial style house. As the eldest son of the Plantation owners, he was treated with a deference and respect above his young age. At twenty-one, he had seen and experienced rather more than the average young man in the 1760's. To his credit, around half a dozen children could be blamed on him directly. Possibly twice that number might be carrying his genes, but these were unproven.
Gradually, his head cleared as the strong alcohol wore off. He noticed the young girl, standing apart from the rowdy dance crowd. She stood under a palm and seemed to be staring straight at him. She was dressed in the usual cotton dress, undyed and frayed in places. The straps were hanging off of her shoulders, around the tops of her arms and the frayed hem was tucked into her knickers at her left hip, allowing for a glimpse of olive coloured thigh, just enough to be enticing, but not too much to be lewd.
Jan liked his lips, suddenly dry in the mouth and needing water. He dragged his gaze away from her, hoping to see a pitcher he could drink from, but without any luck.
He looked over his shoulder, back to where she had been standing, only to see an empty space under the tree. He shrugged and thought no more about it.
His head turned to face the front to observe the party's revelry. She stood directly in front of him, perhaps three feet away, blocking out all behind her. She held her hand out towards him, an invitation to dance. Jan rose from the log, took the proffered hand and joined in the dance with her, stomping his feet in time with the rhythm while still holding her hand.