Sir Walter Peterson and the poet, George Smythe, a British couple with a passing acquaintance with Katherine Hardy when she was married to Lord Beaventon; the avant-garde woman writer who went by the name of Reggie Honaker; and the Austrian industrialist, Wilhelm, the Baron von Sternberg, were sitting on the beach of the luxury resort hotel, La Mediterranee, on the Mediterranean, near the city of Tangiers, Morocco. Tangiers was the chosen retreat in the 1930s for the “anything goes” hedonists. It was early in the season—March—but both the air and sea temperatures were unseasonably warm. The baron and Katherine’s son had been in the sea, but the others in the group gathered on the sand hadn’t. Katherine was wearing a fashionable swimming costume, but she wouldn’t have had a thought to get it wet.
Sir Walter and Smythe were chatting away with Katherine—or trying to—as they kept their eyes cast out into the water. Katherine was devoting much of her attention, though, to the baron, a bigger than life, charismatic man in his robust mid thirties, who dominated the group without half trying.
The baron was well over six feet tall, broad of chest and not so broad of waist, with aristocratic features and bearing. His jaw line was strong, his complexion somewhat florid, and his hair was a mane of reddish brown, which also cascaded over the dip in the top of his one-piece swimming costume. His thighs were those of a sportsman, solid-muscle beefy, his hands and feet were huge, and the bulge in the crotch of his swimming costume was as well. Katherine, his in-bed guest for this outing to Morocco. thinking of him as a fine stallion, was nearly melting from the sight of him sitting in the folding canvas beach chair, which was straining to manage his bulk. At thirty-six, the man was at the height of his career and sexual power, as anyone looking at him could discern. He also was recognized as a man you didn’t say “no” to.
As an international industrialist in these years threatening to lead up to conflagration in Europe he was a busy man, indeed, with his interests and fingers in many a pot, not all of them subjects he wished to speak openly about.
The other man present, an Egyptian, Kasha Bey, who was sitting a bit apart from the others and languidly gazing out to sea, must, Katherine thought, have ice running through his veins, as he wore a galabeya, buttoned to his throat, as he sat a few yards from the baron. He was a cadaverous man who Katherine thought of as the Grim Reaper each time she saw him. Tall and thin, he was dark complexioned and had a flowing mane of jet-black hair. Despite all of the darkness, he wasn’t sweating under the strong sun.
Katherine hadn’t the bad manners to ask if he wasn’t sweltering, but he would have told her, with a leer, knowing her relationship to the baron, if she had asked. The galabeya was white, reflecting the light of the sun, was loose enough for circulation, was of light-weight cotton, and he was naked under it.
A sharply hooked nose spoiled any chance of anyone considering Kasha Bey handsome, and the expressions of his face exuded secrecy, judgmentalism, and “don’t mess with me” warning. His eyes were a cold, murky black that gave the impression of seeing and stripping naked everything and everyone. His primary idiosyncrasy was that the nails on his long, slender fingers were unusually long and were painted jet black. As with many Egyptians and other Mediterranean stock, he spoke with his hands, and anyone in a conversation with him had trouble concentrating on his face rather than the fluttering hands. He showed every evidence of using his hands purposely in that vein—to deny everyone access to his true thoughts by watching his eyes.
Whereas Sir Walter and Smythe were focused on Katherine and Katherine was trying to focus on the baron, both the baron and the bey had eyes only for the figure of the young man swimming far off the beach in long, expert strokes. Well, truth be known, Sir Walter and Smythe were stealing glances at the fourteen-year-old boy, as well.
With a sigh, Reggie Honaker rose from her canvas chair, which wasn’t easy for her—she was an overlarge woman. This was much in contrast with Katherine, who was buxom but otherwise trim of figure and dressed in the highest style and deepest cut of swimming fashion of the time. At forty, she looked much younger, and had gone to every effort to do so.
“I believe I am in for a nap before high tea,” Miss Honaker said. “Will you join me on the hotel verandah for that at 5:00, Katherine?” It was fairly obvious to—except perhaps to Katherine—that the writer had a crush on Katherine.
George Smythe stood as well. “I’m being burnt to a crisp, Walter. Perhaps we should go in as well.” This was the time of day that the middle-aged Walter usually was covering the young poet on the bed. Sensing the competition that was permeating the atmosphere here but wasn’t being mentioned, Smythe had an interest in pulling Sir Walter away from the beach.
With a “humph,” Sir Walter, also rose. He was in steel—and a bit in spying for the British—and would have preferred to stay and speak with the munitions manufacturer, Wilhelm von Sternburg, if the man had paid any attention to him at all and if the flighty, but delicious, George would have permitted it.
“Katherine will be having high tea with me,” the baron said, his voice a deep baritone with an edge of “to be obeyed” command to it.
Flustered, because this was the first that she had heard of the appointment—but clearly pleased—Katherine turned to Reggie Honaker. “Perhaps tomorrow. But a nap does sound good. I believe I will take one as well. So, Baron...”
“I will have us served in the small gazebo in the forested glade behind the hotel. At 5:00,” the baron answered. And that was that for the writer Katherine, who, rummaging around in the tented cabana behind them for their beach apparel, started their progress off the beach and toward the hotel.
“Perhaps you’d like to read the chapter I just wrote,” Reggie was heard saying as they departed in another effort to be in Katherine’s presence away from the baron. Katherine’s response indicated she might like that. She was flattered to be reading the writer’s current novel in manuscript.
The baron momentarily watched the hour-glass form of the handsome Katherine move away, her buttocks swaying against each other in her stately gait, before turning his attention back to the swimmer in the distance.
“Those orbs beg for breeding,” the baron muttered.
The bey moved two chairs closer to the baron so that they could speak in hushed tones and raised his eyebrows but he didn’t move necessarily for the reason one supposed—to comment on the sexuality of Katherine. “I could say the same for the son,” the Egyptian said. “He’s a handsome young man.”
“Yes, very handsome,” the baron agreed. “Ripe even. He’s fourteen.”
“I would agree with that,” Kasha Bey said. “A very good age. Very desirable—young enough to be nubile and innocent yet old enough to be developing into a man’s body. Boys have such flexibility at that age. They can be put into such pleasing positions. He would go for a fortune in the Egyptian souks.”
“And you would know of buying young men in an Egyptian souk?” the baron said, with a snort. Kasha Bey was a major region why Von Sternburg had brought Katherine and her son to Tangiers. The baron had secret business to conduct with the Egyptians through the bey. The other reason he’d come here was that there were no laws here of men being with boys.
“Enough experience to know the worth of this one,” the bey answered with a sly little smile. “But those two. What do you know of them? She hardly looks old enough to be his mother.”
“And yet she is, I have learned.”
“You have learned?”
“My solicitors have been busy since I met the Hardy woman and her ripe son, Gabriel. Of course my interest is in the boy, not the woman,” the baron said.
“Naturally. I have an interest in the boy too,” Kasha Bey said.
“Perhaps, if our business goes well.”
“Perhaps our business will go well if you make arrangements with the boy.”
“I understand. American—the woman is,” the baron said, returning to his original explanation. The young man is hers but the other half of him is British. Lord Beaventon’s son. The two are divorced. Beaventon’s family insisted initially on a British wife. He married the American long enough for her family to refurbish Beaventon’s Rest, though, and his family accepted the reasoning for that but not the actual presence of Katherine. He’s married again now. The son is fourteen. She’s kept him tied to her apron strings. Only now, this fall, starting at Rugby—at the father’s insistence. Starting this late, the young man will suffer fagging relentlessly. I think the woman would take the young man back to Boston if she could.”
“Fagging?” Kasha Bey asked.
“Beating. Caning mostly. And other sexual abuse. It’s derigour in Britain now. I wish to get to the boy before the school does.”
“To fag him?”
“Perhaps,” the baron answered, with a smile.
“And that’s what you’ve brought him to Tangiers for?”
“Yes. The mother thinks it’s so she and I can be freer. It’s fortunate, though, that she won’t be parted from the boy—that she insisted that he come too. She’s very dominating. And he appears to be totally submissive to her.”
“Submissiveness is not necessarily a bad thing.”
.... There is more of this story ...