Lucien reflects on his fortunate fate en route to see Judge Matthews.

Changed Circumstances - Chapter 1: 'The Court Summons'
by Chrisus
Series: Changed Circumstances

I carefully guide my pony, Norge out of my quiet, residential street into the busy thoroughfare which leads to the central business district and its adjacent law-courts.

In the intensity of the early afternoon sun, the pony is already sweating profusely. By contrast however, I'm protected from the sun's oppressive heat by the canopy that I'd wisely raised before leaving home. Glancing at my watch I note the time is 12.30 PM - this gives me plenty of time before I'm due at Judge Matthew's chambers at 2.00 PM. I decide it is better to let the pony proceed at a leisurely jog rather than tire him out in the steamy heat. The Scandinavian pony is a recent addition to my stables and as yet he isn't properly acclimatised to our local summer heat.


I'm unsure of why I've been summoned to appear before Judge Matthews at the Court of Disputations. I had been surprised when, this morning, my lawyer, Simon Barrow contacted me to say we'd both been ordered to appear before the judge that afternoon. I have met the elderly Judge Matthews on several occasions at social functions. Fast approaching retirement age, he is known for his extreme conservatism and his insistence that he be treated with all the pomp and protocol due to his exalted office.

At first I had been apprehensive, but Simon assured me that there wasn't any need for my concern. Most likely it had to do with my very recent inheritance of my late grandfather, Jean-Claude Barrois's vast estate; as Simon said these matters tend to drag on especially with bequests as large and as complicated as this one. But there wasn't anything in my grandfather's will which gave cause for concern. My grandfather had ensured that all legal requirements were addressed and hadn't left anything to chance in managing his affairs.

Re-assured, I now feel very relaxed as I go to keep my appointment with Judge Matthews.

Luckily I'd been in residence at my townhouse rather than at my plantation, "La Foret" which is my preferred place of abode. Currently, the city is in the throes of a gubernatorial election and I'm in town to lend support to the incumbent Governor - a conservative like myself who holds with the status quo. He is being challenged by a "liberally minded" candidate who argues for a relaxation of our slavery laws and proposes that slaves be given certain privileges and protection under law. What arrant nonsense! For a slave-holder like me this is a preposterous idea and one which I rigorously oppose. Therefore, I've agreed to appear on the platform with the Governor as he opens his campaign this evening. My family's illustrious name will add prestige and legitimacy to his speech.

In contrast to his rival's outrageous proposals, the Governor has promised that, on his re-election, he'll rescind all laws that restrict a slave-holder's right of absolute control over his slaves -thus effectively giving to him the same rights over them as he enjoys with all other of his property - and to deny slaves any redress against their masters. Slaves will, in future, forfeit those rights and privileges they currently enjoy and will be subject only to the whims and jurisdiction of their owners; it will be the sole prerogative of an owner as to how his slaves are treated or punished. Quite rightly, the Governor promises to grant slave-owners legal immunity from the mischievous and litigious activities of the abolitionists and the frivolous "rights for slaves" groups. Needless to say I'm heartily in agreement with the Governor's election pledges and I'm happy to publicly support his progressive policies on the troublesome issue of slavery.

At the tender age of twenty-one, I am indeed fortunate. I'm the sole heir to my grandfather's fortune and I'm now the owner of several manufacturing businesses and a vast plantation many kilometres from the city. And I am the owner of many slaves - as yet I'm unsure of how many as I await an audit of my slave holdings. However, I know it would number in the hundreds.

My grandfather, was an avowed environmentalist and he had refused to use any form of machinery preferring instead to utilise slave labour - he was convinced that slaves, used properly, were cheaper to operate and less demanding - when a slave wore out it is much cheaper to replace him than it is to replace a piece of expensive machinery. And the cost of maintaining a slave is infinitesimal when compared to that of operating a fuel-guzzling piece of machinery; the low cost of feeding and housing a slave is only a fraction of the exorbitant cost of using our ever diminishing supply of fossil fuels to power a machine. He had argued that, unlike machines which are always evolving into something "bigger and better" and correspondingly becoming more expensive, the "technology" of a slave remains static - a slave is simply sinew and muscle. Rather than buy an expensive piece of machinery with its built-in obsolescence, my grandfather always said it was simpler to purchase a suitable slave, put him to work under the whip and work him until he wore out and then replace him. I had inherited my grandfather`s views and unthinkingly, I fully subscribe to them.

My thoughts turn to my beloved plantation, "La Foret". How I love the sound of that - "my plantation." I have a special fondness for the place and, apart from when I was away at boarding school; I had spent most of my boyhood living there. I was an only child and my father, Henri Barrois was my grandfather's only son. I'd been orphaned at an early age - my mother died at my birth and my father when I was four - and subsequently I was raised by my doting grandparents. Thoroughly spoiled by them and surrounded by slaves, my life has always been one of idyllic ease and luxury.

As a boy I'd spent all my spare time in the company of my grandfather and I had always accompanied him on his tours of the fields where I liked to watch as our naked slaves toiled and sweated under the lash of our overseers. I don't know why, but the sight of their strong, muscular bodies straining at their labours was one I had found irresistible - in fact I still do. And of course, with the onset of puberty, my interest in the slaves took on a new dimension. Now I found myself viewing them very differently; I had a new appreciation of the male physique.

When I was still a boy, my grandfather, because of advancing years, had been forced to stop riding his beloved horses around the plantation and had opted in favour of a trap and ponies. And so I could accompany him, he'd had a special trap made that was wide enough for the two of us and he'd purchased two young slaves to act as our ponies.

I had accompanied him to the sale yards to buy the ponies - it was my introduction to the slave pens - and Grandpa had allowed me to inspect the slaves he was interested in buying. In fact, he was insistent that I do so declaring it is never too soon for a young gentleman to learn how to appraise a slave. I was totally unprepared for this and didn't know what to do. But my ever patient grandfather told me to watch as he appraised a slave and once he'd finished, he "guided" me through my own rather amateurish attempt at it. I have to say, I did enjoy the feel of the slave's hard body under my hands and the vivid memory of his hard, throbbing erection remains with me to this day. It was the first occasion that I had ever touched a slave other than with a whip or cane.

These two slaves were brothers who, at the time, were aged somewhere in their late teens or early twenties and they had been sold into slavery because of a bad business decision of their former father's. Grandpa had them trained especially for me to drive. As a young lad, I'd felt very important as I drove them around the plantation. With my burgeoning sexuality, I really did enjoy sitting behind them watching as they trotted along the network of shady laneways that gave us to access every part of the plantation.

Each morning, shortly after dawn, the two ponies would be harnessed to "our" trap - Grandpa always referred to it as such - and tethered at the front steps of the house to await his pleasure. They would remain in harness until either late afternoon in winter or early evening in summer, when I would drive them back to the stables and watch as the grooms unharnessed them, hosed them and fed them before they were stabled for the night.

And when I awoke next morning, they were standing patiently waiting for Grandpa and me.

Grandpa maintained a large stable that housed his ponies and draft slaves. I loved to "hang-out" at the stables but what was it that attracted me to them? It was a combination of many things - the pungent smells that permeate the very timbers of the building, the sight of the naked slaves resting in their stalls, the sounds they made as they shuffled around in their chains and most of all it was their earthy, animal smell. Grandpa was fastidious about his ponies and drafts and always insisted they were hosed down at the end of each day before they were fed and stabled for the night. This ensured that any residual detritus was removed from their bodies. But it never quite took away that farmyard odour that I found so erotic and which I still associate with heavy duty, work slaves. Ingrained into their hides and pores is that heady combination of smells; of their work induced sweat, the sweet scent of their straw bedding and an indefinable "something" else.

This attraction to the stables still holds for me and I visit there as often as I can. I like to make the distinction between the lighter, lithe trap ponies and the heavier, more muscular draft slaves. However, it is the draft slaves that hold my fascination - I'm attracted to their naked, muscular bodies and their brutish animal-life behaviour. However, this attraction is purely ascetic and I would NEVER use one sexually. All my sexual conquests are confined to my handsome, muscular, house slaves who have been especially hand-picked by me for my exclusive use.

"Our" two ponies served us well over the years. Grandpa was "loyal" to them and never looked to replace them. There were times when I suggested this to him but he always rejected my suggestions by saying "they serve us well". The ponies had once been the former sons of a business associate of my grandfather's and I suspect he had a degree of sympathy for their plight - a sentiment I should add, that was never shared by me.

Needless to say, when Grandpa died, I did eventually replace them with my current favourite pony, Norge. The two ponies are now aged somewhere about thirty and they are part of a heavy-duty team that is used to construct and maintain the network of irrigation canals that ensure the plantation's profitability. As Norge takes me on my daily inspection of the plantation, I sometimes stop to watch them as they work. Accustomed as they were to working in tandem, I'm amazed at how quickly they have "adapted" to working in a team of ten. I can tell from the strain placed on their muscular bodies that they give of their best to their labours. Still, I suppose the overseer's whip is a powerful motivator and serves as an incentive for them to apply themselves diligently to their work.

I notice Norge is tiring and it's necessary for me to apply my whip to him. As he feels the cut of the lash he lunges forward into his harness and quickens his pace. I know the day is hot and he is sweating profusely, but this isn't a reason for him to flag.

After all, I had acted responsibly and when I initially bought him, I'd sent him out to the plantation for six months hard work and conditioning. Many masters wouldn't have extended such consideration to their new pony and would simply have placed him in harness immediately. I however, had allowed Norge to build up his stamina and darken his hide before placing him between the shafts of my trap. Having extended such consideration to him, I feel I'm justified in expecting the very best from him. To emphasise this point, I apply my whip to his arse three more times. But to be fair to him, I find him to be a good, honest pony and most responsive to my whip.

As we travel down the broad thoroughfare leading into the civic part of the city, I acknowledge the greetings of people who recognise me and are anxious to cultivate my friendship. Mostly these are the city's "nouveau riche" and not members of the "old money", pioneering families of which my family, the Barrois is the most prominent.

There was a time when families like mine would never have acknowledged the existence of such people. Invariably lacking in any refinement, they take great personal pride in their doubtful "entrepreneurial achievements" and compensate for their lack of breeding in coarse and ostentatious displays of their wealth. This is especially so in their use of their slaves who are often used in the most outrageous and bizarre fashion.

Unfortunately, there are now so many of these newly rich in our city that it's impossible not to have contact with them. However, I always confine my association with them to business and NEVER socially.

On assuming my grandfather's business enterprises, I had suddenly become "socially popular" and now I receive so many invitations to private and public functions that I'm not able to accept them all - I need to be discreet in my acceptance of any invitation so as not to cause offence.

Grandpa always said "Great wealth carries great responsibility."

And then there are those dreadful mothers who now see me as highly desirable and view me with a matrimonial glint in their greedy eyes as a suitable spouse for their appalling daughters. For me, there is a certain irony in this. I have no interest in females; I much prefer to take my young, male slaves into my bed. Still, I suppose there will come a time when dynastic demands and for the appearance of respectability I will need to seek out a worthy young heiress to marry. But not just yet; I'm still only twenty-one and I'd much rather the company of my like-minded, male friends - and of course my slaves.

As I guide Norge through a busy intersection, I look to my right and up a side street that leads to the premises of Schuster and Hanson, Slave Dealers; it's my intention to visit this market tomorrow. Whenever I'm in town, I always make a point of dropping in to acquaint myself with any new stock on offer. After all, this is how I'd discovered Norge.

The day before I spied him in Schuster and Hanson's pens some six months ago, he'd been brought before the courts as an illegal immigrant caught with a quantity of drugs in his possession. The mandatory sentence for such offences is lifetime enslavement and he'd been taken straight from the court-room to the adjacent blacksmith's workshop where he'd been branded, shackled and then delivered to the slave market for selling. All this had taken place before he'd had time to realise what was happening to him. Perhaps this was a mixed blessing for him. The shock of his enslavement wouldn't have had time to enter into his consciousness before he found himself branded, in chains and incarcerated in the slave pens.

Mercifully, our justice system is swift in its determination of guilt or innocence and even quicker in its implementation of any punishments. Yes, I look forward to spending time at the pens tomorrow examining any available slave that attracts my attention.

My thoughts return to my unexpected summons to appear before Judge Matthews. I'm quite relaxed about it - Simon Barrow had done a good job of re-assuring me. Nevertheless, I'm intrigued and a little perplexed.

I leave the day to day management of my affairs to the same exorbitantly expensive lawyers and accountants that my grandfather had commissioned to run his enterprises. As he'd often told me -"they are the experts so I leave the ordering of our affairs to them". He'd never had any reason for complaint and nor do I.

I know my affairs are in good order. When my grandfather died, his estate was subjected to a rigorous audit as is required by law. The businesses and the plantation wereall proven to be on a sound financial basis and all taxes and other government levies had been paid. Indeed, I had been congratulated on Grandpa's good management and told how lucky I was to be the sole beneficiary of his wise stewardship. So I know there isn't anything to worry about from that aspect and I suspect there is something of only minor importance that Judge Matthews needs to address.

Finally, I arrive at the courts and I drive Norge into the courtyard at the rear of the buildings which has been set aside for the parking of court clients' vehicles and the tethering of their ponies. As I stop my trap, a slave attendant hurries forward to take Norge's reins from me and tether him to a hitching ring set into a wall. He waits respectfully for me to climb down from my trap before he asks whether or not I want him to water my pony.

I look at Norge as he stands gulping air into his tortured lungs and perspiring profusely under the sun's intensity. His powerful chest rises and falls and his belly "bellows' in and out with each gasp he takes. His sweat trickles across the plains and down the valleys of his torso in shining rivulets and its obvious he's feeling "distressed". Normally, I don't allow him to drink when he is in harness - I find a pony with a belly full of water makes for a very sluggish pony and I really don't like the "sloshing" sound the water makes as he runs.

Of course "what goes in must come out" and inevitably the pony must piss. I deplore the sight of a pony relieving himself in public and I believe this reflects more on the pony's user rather that the pony himself. I would never allow Norge to urinate or defecate in public.

Still, I feel a degree of sympathy for Norge's distress and I instruct the slave attendant to give him a small amount of water but warn him against overdoing it - I wait to see that my instructions are carried out. Suddenly, I'm distracted by a commotion.

As I watch, I see court guards "shepherding" seven newly convicted criminals out of the court precincts and across the yard to the blacksmith's forge. These seven, on their convictions, had been stripped naked and are now being escorted to the forge for their brandings and placement in chains, Then they will be held in a cage and wait until representatives from Schuster and Hanson - currently the court appointed dealers - arrive to take them to the sale yards. Within a few days these new slaves will be placed on display and sold.

It is obvious that the seven aren't coping too well with their changed circumstances. All appear to be shocked and in a state of disbelief. It's amusing to watch their re-actions as the guards deliver them to the forge. Two of the "harder cases" show their defiance by protesting loudly but are soon brought under control by the whips of their guards. They cry out in acute pain as the whips slice into their tender flesh and both are reduced to tears.

As the seven are herded into the forge, I have time to study them. They are all young, aged in their late teens or early twenties and whilst they aren't the most imposing physical specimens, they all possess bodies that promise great potential to their future owners. Typically, they are products of their environments; thin, mal-nourished and pasty faced and their bodies reflect their poverty. Whilst their physiques are under-developed, my experienced eye detects the underlying potential of their musculatures. As I look at them I reflect how different they'd look after a few months' hard work at my plantation toiling under the whips of my overseers.

Obviously, they have been found guilty of non-violent, petty crimes otherwise they would now be on their way to the quarries or mines -both of these are the preserves of the violent criminal - and I decide that I'll certainly be appraising them tomorrow at Schuster and Hanlon's sale- yards. In fact, I look forward to it.

A quick glance at my watch shows I have fifteen minutes to spare before my appointment with His Honour, Judge Matthews. I have ample time to seek out his courtroom and as I approach I see Simon Barrow waiting for me.

Is it my imagination or is that a look of concern on his worried face?


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