The Retreat by J. Eijkelboom

Sep 15th, 2011, in History, by

Jan Eijkelboom was trained in England to 'fight against the Japs' but, as it happened, he was drafted to fight in the Indies when the Japanese had long gone. He arrived in Java in the middle of 1947 and served there as a sergeant for 2 1/2 years. In later life he functioned, inter alia, as editor of the renowned/notorious Amsterdam student paper "Propria Cures" and the leftist weekly "Vrij Nederland". Apart from his journalistic activities he has published about half a dozen bundles of poetry. I have translated here his 'short' story "The Retreat" ("De Terugtocht") that was first published in 1953 in the literary magazine "Libertinage". It is rather a long "short story" and this is only the first part. Two or three more are to follow.


'The Retreat' by J. Eijkelboom

‘Aye, there's something in writing 's like armour to the feelings.’

- Trader Horn

To talk about the impression that Soemiati made on me, the first time I saw her, I have to try and remember something of the house and its other inhabitants. When one uses the word brothel one thinks of a somewhat shabby luxury: flowery wallpaper, threadbare silk, mirrors with frames of which the gilding starts to loosen. There it was a bamboo house, the floor was of rammed down loam and the only light came from an oil lamp made from an Army tin.

The brothel madam was a shrunken old hag, but her ugliness was different from that of her European colleagues: she was repellent without inducing respect. After having greeted us with a shrill voice like that of a bird, she limited herself to looking at us with her small eyes of a witch that has served her time above a mouth opened in a wide grin. In her upper jaw she still had one gigantic dirty white tooth that, misled by the scanty light, I took at first to be a cigarette butt sticking to her lip.

She did not negotiate. Perhaps that was also because we were whites, moreover soldiers, against whom she couldn’t do anything anyway. On a bench were seated four or five shyly giggling girls who had their arms around each other’s neck. On the opposite wall from them there was a row of low doors giving access to as many little rooms. My companion disappeared into one of them with the girl he had pointed at and who was then pushed forward by the others. I didn’t find any of the remaining girls attractive so I tried to start a conversation. At that moment Soemiati appeared from one of those little rooms. She looked already different from the girls on the bench because she was wearing a dress instead of a sarong and had her hair loosely hanging over her shoulders, but even more so I was struck by her lively sparkling eyes. She looked curiously at me, without fear but without gauging me.

It seemed, even in this environment, improper to separate myself with her without further ado, but before I had said anything she invited me herself to enter her room.
Some weeks before that I had started to court a Eurasian girl whom I had met at the house of the army chaplain. I sometimes came there to play a game of chess and she was often there because she had been given the role of Mary in a nativity play for which the chaplain had taken the initiative. I had offered my cooperation and got, perhaps out of respect for my atheism (because that chaplain was a liberal chap) the role of Herod.

But the girl turned out to be unapproachable. She was too conscious of the fact that she was not a ‘native’ to even be amiable. I would of course have been able to get her down on her beautiful knees by all kinds of attentions, entreaties and adjurations, so I thought, but I decided pretty quickly to find my pleasures somewhere else. For the rest I discovered later that the girl concerned had had since long an affair with the chaplain.

So it was the consideration that paying is so much more hygienic than conversation that had brought me Soemiati; but I immediately felt my deficient command of her language to be an obstacle. I couldn’t do much more than asking for her name and saying that I found her beautiful. She seemed, as a matter of fact, to find this quite sufficient for that initial stage.

She took her dress off and put it neatly over the back of a chair. This energetic approach did not make a businesslike impression though it wasn’t an expression of passion either. She was quite skilful in the game of love but, again, there was nothing in this skill that seemed like routine, but also very little that looked like rapture. It is conspicuous to me that I am continuously trying to suggest how she was by stating how she was not. I believe that nothing is so difficult to define as that what appears to one to be the simplest thing

Later, when I was lying beside her, talking went much better. To amuse her I told her of my mistake about that one tooth of that old woman. When she understood my story her merriment was so noisy that it became painful; she was drawing out her screams of laughter like a prostitute. But under the light of the small kerosene lamp that was placed on a shelf above our heads her skin had the bronze colour of a beach that is still moist after low tide. I told her that I had no money with me but that I would bring it to her next day. I don’t think that she was disappointed; she gave at any case no sign of it.

The next morning, when I brought her an amount of money already that had to surpass her expectations, she neither hid nor exaggerated her joy at this. Somebody else of her sort would surely have found it necessary to use either of those tactics. She was too artless and intelligent for that. I am sure of this because I can still clearly recall the expression of her face at that moment. I can now read in this what then hardly penetrated to me, because I didn’t think about things at that time.

Almost every day then I had to accompany a convoy, with my section of bren gun carriers, over a road in which there were most of the time a few mines; there were often also aerial bombs that the enemy brought to explosion with the help of a long rope. Further more there were sometimes grenades in the trees hung from a pulley rope that could be lowered when there was a vehicle underneath. The methods were primitive but effective enough to make of such a trip with a convoy a nerve racking experience.

The tension was so great that most of us lived in a strange, unreal atmosphere when there was no driving. The relief to have got off scot-free that day and the fear for the next day made me too restless and preoccupied. That is perhaps why I can remember so little of Soemiati in that time; between the few sharp images I have retained of it are blank periods of indefinite duration. I still know that on the road I could sometimes be fiercely longing for her but she was then above all the symbol of a safe arrival.

One of those homecomings is still clear in my mind. At the convoy ride that day a bomb was detonated right in front of my carrier. The driver couldn’t brake any more and the carrier slipped into the hole that the bomb had created. Stones and lumps of clay that had been thrown vertically into the air fell back on us. The three other people in the carrier got of with some bruises; only I got a light head wound.

After a medic had cut some hair from the middle of my skull and sprinkled some penicillin powder there we could go on. When Soemiati saw me that night she got straight away into convulsions of laughter. It took a while before I understood that her merriment was caused by my irregular tonsure. I tried to laugh with her but it was only half-heartedly. I started to report what had happened but Soemiati was obviously not interested.

“What would you have thought if I had been killed?”

I finally asked.
She looked at me incredulously and then shouted:

“But that is not possible, is it?”

“Why not? I can die just like anybody else, can’t I?”

“No you can’t!”

she answered impatiently.

“But I can. Of course I can.”

“You can’t, you can’t”

she repeated stubbornly.
I went on, patiently and cruelly and somewhat amazed, with explaining to her that quite a few people of my company had already been wounded or killed and that the same could happen to me any day.

She repeated her blind protest a few times, but increasingly more weakly. Finally she shouted with a voice half strangled by tears:

“Good, it can happen perhaps, but it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t, it shouldn’t …”

With a wild movement she hid at my breast, but at the same time she was hitting my back with her small fists. I pulled her head back and kissed her reluctant mouth.

Her lips soon became passive however, but before she could become willing she pulled her head back to wipe the tears from her eyes and blow her nose. Then she looked smilingly at me, in a manner that suggested that I had entered the room just a minute ago. She had felt uneasy during the conversation that had just taken place, and thus that conversation simply never happened.

I was certainly in love with Soemiati but not enough to be preoccupied with her. Otherwise why didn’t I try to get to know a bit more about her past? She was herself also very vague on this point but more from a lack of interest, so it seemed to me, than because the memory of her youth was repellent to her or because she had to hide something (when I think of what happened later I am no longer so sure about this). She had been married off in her tenth or eleventh year when “she still had no breasts”. A few years later she had run away because she was beaten every day. After that she had married and divorced two or three times more. She hadn’t been able to obtain a separation letter from her last husband, because he wasn’t willing to spend a "rijksdaalder"on that. When she told this latter bit her eyes still sparkled with rage, but the rest was told in an indifferent matter-of-fact voice.

I can’t remember how long it took before I took care to get her a house in a less impoverished kampong. In our soldiers’ world that was a sort of marriage announcement; with that I made it known that henceforward others had to leave her alone. This did not mean that others would not pester her. A certain category of soldiers made it their business to go after women who were maintained by others; they assumed, not without logic, that such women would be “safe”. Soon enough soldiers were spotted near Soemiati’s house during my absence. I redoubled my vigilance.

I approached her house each time from a different direction, which was made possible by the chaotic way in which the kampong had been built. I also came there at the most unexpected moments, one time even in the depth of a moonless night when the house was no more than a faded spot on the velvet dark. I believe that it is still possible to report what happened on that occasion.

When I knocked she asked in a sleepy voice who it was. Without answering I knocked again. I heard creaking and rustling inside; it sounded so loud in the silence of the night that my suspicions were immediately increased tenfold. I forced the bolt with the butt of my carbine and pushed the door in with my shoulder at the same time. She stood there in front of me, fearful and all at once clearly awake. “What is it?” she asked nervously. –

“Nothing”, I said briefly; I was ashamed of my rash behaviour but did not know at that moment how to apologise for it.

Her mouth tightened into a straight stripe of rage. She put a bowl with fruit for me on the table with a thud, fulfilling her duty as hostess to clearly underline my rudeness, and then disappeared into the adjoining bedroom stamping her feet. I went after her but remained standing in the door opening. She had thrown herself headlong on the baleh-baleh. After a few minutes I bent over her and touched her shoulder, but she shook off my hand as if it were an insect that had bitten her.

I went back to the other room and started to automatically peel a jeruk. A while later she called asking whether I had cigarettes with me. This did not necessarily signify reconciliation because she was addicted to smoking. I went to her, gave her a cigarette and helped her to light it, letting the matchbox drop on the floor. When I picked it up I had a quick look under the baleh-baleh; there was nothing to be seen there.

A few hours later, when we had long since made up, I could not refrain however from asking her why she already intended to open the door before she knew who was actually there.

“I could have been somebody from the tentara to murder you,”

I added to this; it was a thought that only came to me that very moment and that served more as an apology for my bad behaviour than as an expression of my care. She shook her shoulders and did not react any further and I was finally wise enough to leave it at that.

The rumours became however more and more definite. They were finally so pertinent that when I visited Soemiati next I started to make violent reproaches. Her defence was no less violent than my accusation though she certainly must have been sometimes unfaithful during that first period. She no doubt found in her defence against my dramatics, that made of her offence a crime, the means to convince herself of her complete innocence.

It became a scene full of stupid malice, followed by a feeling of infinite repugnance. Soemiati was sitting in the low chair in which I had pushed her when I came in. The real quarrel was finished but the poisonous atmosphere remained behind. I picked up my carbine and wanted to go but first, I don’t know why, I pushed the kerosene lamp to the edge of the table, thus bringing Soermiati’s face from the shade into the full light.

She stared at me with panic fear in her widely dilated eyes, and directly after this she threw herself in one movement at my feet. I stood rigid with fright. I only understood what caused her sudden fear when it finally dawned on me that she was begging for her life: she thought that I was planning to kill her. I flung the carbine into the furthest corner and carried her in my arms to the other room. It took a long time before she calmed down but during that night a tenderness entered into our relation that has made it more valuable and vulnerable.


See Part 2


87 Comments on “The Retreat by J. Eijkelboom”

  1. avatar Arie Brand says:

    “I dunno, does it matter? ”

    Well, in the context of this discussion it does. You see “romance” can be found in Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina and The French Lieutenant’s Woman – to mention a few. “Romance” can also be found in any Mills and Boon pulp novel.

    What rather amazed me was the apparent dismissal of a story because it had to, some, a recognisable theme.

    But perhaps I erred in taking the dismissive tone as indicative of the conviction behind it.

  2. avatar Oigal says:

    As I tried to say previously (and really it wasn’t snarky) I find these sorts of stories fascinating for different reasons and it is a matter of perspective on what you draw from it. I love these stories as I find the aspects of a Foreigner in Indonesia be it as an indentured soldier, a fortune seeker, a nation builder (from his viewpoint), a runaway simply amazing. At best months if not years away from home, with all manner of religious and cultural overlays, with the very real prospect of never returning home these guys and their stories simply amaze me.

    So for me, I find the underlying context and background of the story as crucial as the story itself. At the risk of being called Snarky then yea if all you get from the story is a dated Blok story then I will get all sanctimonious and feel sorry for you.

    As a matter of interest, I also love the Raffles and the early Churchhill stories not because I am a ardent colonialist but for the sheer brass balls of these guys. I have been accused of bias in my reading and that is true but only because original dutch and Indonesian versions are frankly beyond my literary ability (have fun with that one :-)). Of course, reading anything about Indonesian History is a challenge as it has been perverted so much by the powers that be that the vast majority is laughable nonsense even at the most superficial level.

    So acknowledging my bias, well translated stories like this add a modicum of balance to my perspective of Indonesia under the dutch, so thanks Ari.

  3. avatar stevo says:

    What rather amazed me was the apparent dismissal of a story because it had to, some, a recognisable theme.

    This is actually one of the things I like about the story. I can recognise the theme and identify with it in a human way, not just academically. It becomes more engaging and relevant as a result. I guess that is just a personal thing, but it works for me.

  4. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Curious how comments I made were deemed “irrelevant”, yet curiously those comments are precisely the comments that other people either agreed with or disagreed with in the posting section.

    Therefore they are, ipso facto, “relevant” otherwise they would have been ignored

    BB, since I was one of those who deemed your Blok-story analogy irrelevant to Eijkelboom’s autobiographical account I owe you a reply.

    I think that you are confusing two things: arousing discussion and being really pertinent to the case in hand.

    To come with a historical example: Professor Owen’s criticism of Darwin’s theory of evolution was much discussed but not relevant in that it really came to grips with the topic.

    So I found your view of The Retreat as a ‘dated Blok-story’ irrelevant in that sense.

    However, in the last analysis this is merely a matter of semantic arbitrariness. Nobody can forbid you to use the term ‘relevance’

  5. avatar berlian biru says:

    Can someone point to where

    a) I “dismissed” the story, as per Oigal @8.51?

    or

    b) I described the story “as a ‘dated Blok-story’ “, as per Arie @10.49?

    I did neither of those two things as both assume I was making some sort of judgment on the story. I read the story, enjoyed it, then in the section called ‘comments’ I left a comment which had come to mind having read the story, a comment that others saw fit to respond to.In no way was I attempting some form of literary criticism or analysis of the story.

    Like I said too many people are coming to this forum, nursing personal gripes about their perceptions of other posters and jumping to conclusions based on those perceptions.

    Calm down, accept that each other poster has a point of view and is not trying to indoctrinate you in some way, then read what is actually written, not the secret agenda that you believe is behind what is written. If you find what was said interesting and wish to discuss it further by all means do so, if you find it trite and uninteresting, ignore it. I certainly do the latter quite frequently.

    Arie, if you want to sit in judgment about what may be said in response to your posts then I suggest you limit the comment section to people who agree with you in all things or post a set of rules outlining what you determine are the “relevant” parts of your text that may be discussed.

    Otherwise leave the relevance or otherwise to the judgment of your readers, they will have a better idea than you I suggest.

  6. avatar Oigal says:

    Oh well why not…
    For someone somewhat perturbed about semantics, not sure anywhere I said you dismissed the story, however I think it would be fair to describe the following as a summation under the heading “dated Blok story”

    It’s an extremely common scenario, you hang out with expat guys around this town and you encounter it all the time. Sad guys who convinced themselves that the sexual relationship that they were having with a girl in return for money was not as it appeared and was in fact a real love-match. The men continue to delude themselves in this way and set the girl up in a nice place to “keep them safe” while they are away in the oil-fields or overseas and then discover to their horror (they surely must have known all along) that the girl is in fact exactly what she appeared when the guy first met her; a prostitute, willing to have sex with men for money.

    Pretty sure I agreed that is often the case but my point stands that I think its somewhat sad (and BB said himself, cynical) if that was the main theme a reader got from the story. Never the less to each his own.

  7. avatar Arie Brand says:

    About the term ‘dated Blok story’ (which, incidentally, I pinched from Oigal, hence the quotation marks): In your very first post on this thread you said , a propos of Eijkelboom’s story (what else?):

    So somethings never change.

    Happens all the time, it’s happening in Jakarta right now, it will never change.

    Well, to me that looks awfully like saying that we have another Blok-story here.

  8. avatar Arie Brand says:

    That said I am beginning to find a dreary cliquishness forming here, as ET so rightly says a certain number of posters have made up their minds about other posters based entirely on previous discussions and have no desire to engage in meaningful discussions but prefer to engage in spiteful little catfights.

    Ah BB, you are not exactly a shrinking violet yourself – but leaving that aside, what clique are you talking about? I happen on this occasion to agree with, for instance, Oigal and Lairedion, with whom I have had many an acerbic discussion on earlier occasions – much more acerbic than our present discussion with you. I believe that there is a genuine difference of opinion here and that we have tried to trash it out as best we can.

  9. avatar berlian biru says:

    if that was the main theme

    A theme, Arie, the story has many themes, I merely made an allusion to one of them.

    You see the political aspect as the main theme, good for you, I see it very much as a complex story of human relations, chief among them being the young man’s (it is after all written from his perspective) insecurities and jealousy surrounding his relationship with a girl he met in a brothel.

    Despite your saying that the story moves beyond that, in fact we are now two thirds of the way through the story and yet still his worries about his lover’s possible infidelities (is she really visiting her brother in the kampong?) are very much to the fore in his narrative.

    Anyway apparently such considerations are an “irrelevance” and you believe only your interpretation of a multi-dimensional story is relevant.

    So be it.

  10. avatar berlian biru says:

    not sure anywhere I said you dismissed the story

    I believe the English language has meaning, your words:

    “yea if all you get from the story is a dated Blok story then I will get all sanctimonious and feel sorry for you.”

    mean you think I dismissed the story as somewhat cheap and tawdry and of no value.

    What interpretation should I have put on what you said?

  11. avatar Oigal says:

    BB, I think it was you who said some people need to calm down, not bad advice really. You seem to be suffering a hell of lot from what you are quick to accuse others of. Have a nice day 🙂

  12. avatar berlian biru says:

    In what way Oigal?

    I am stating my position in calm, quiet, non-offensive terms using simple language in a discursive way. In what way do I need to calm down? Can you point to any wild and over the top statements I have made?

    Or is it just that you are so sensitive to criticism, as when I regularly point out your inability to read clearly what is written in front of you -three times so far- that you react by projecting your own lack of self-control on to me?

    You too have a nice day, it will be so much nicer for all of us when you and others here maintain this now restored polite style of debating. So much more civilised don’t you think?

    All the best.

  13. avatar Oigal says:

    Dearie Me, Well no one can say I didn’t try and leave the field in a gracious manner and allow the thread to get back on track and away from BB’s bruised ego.

    I am stating my position in calm, quiet, non-offensive terms using simple language in a discursive way

    What sanctimonious toss, how does

    and you, like a sniggering little schoolboy who overhears the grown ups discussing sex, start making puerile innuendos.

    and others like it relate to calm, quiet, non-offensive terms?

    Seems your point on English definitions might be better kept at home. Of course, the snide remarks about other people’s inability to understand English seems somewhat moot really doesn’t it.

    But to be fair this made me laugh out loud and speaking of what is right in front of you.

    Relevance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, not handed down from on high by comment-thread policemen

    Quickly followed by

    The culprits know who they are and need to knock it off

    Otherwise leave the relevance or otherwise to the judgment of your readers, they will have a better idea than you I suggest.

    it will be so much nicer for all of us when you and others here maintain this now restored polite style of debating

    I must have missed the badging ceremony when they appointed the new “comment thread policeman”

    Seriously, you were obviously offended as some found your first comment on the story somewhat shallow. I would be the first to apologise if in my limited comprehension of the language, you did note any other nuances other than I have seen it all before at the Blok (or where ever). Please feel free to point out the layered context in that post I (and others missed). Since then however, its a bit rich to accuse other of innuendos, when post after post you have accused others of being variously, pretentious, lacking in education, puerile etc etc.

    I personally found your first comment (lets ignore the latter ones as merely lashing out) sad, shallow and cynical. Get over it, its only an opinion.

    Meanwhile, I look forward to more from Ari and as a sidelight early await the BO posters return 😉

  14. avatar stevo says:

    This cat fight is very amusing. Do you guys want to settle it with some jelly wrestling?

  15. avatar berlian biru says:

    Stevo, Oigal is a very sensitive soul, he reckons he’s one of the main guys on the forum and resents having his errors pointed out to him.

    He’s one of the commenters who comes to every thread with pre-conceived notions about other posters and what he thinks they’re saying and hates like hell to be challenged.

    It’s amusing to watch his self-importance puff up so much and then see it deflate when it’s pricked.

    Sad really, he could almost be worth debating if he actually engaged his thought processes and read what is written.

    Oh dear, but now I’m being a little bit impolite, I apologise Oigal, I’ll try to treat your effusions with more respect in the future, and we were doing so well too, dash it all.

    Back to business as usual I suppose, but it was worth a try I suppose.

  16. avatar stevo says:

    BB

    I have read many of the threads here and Oigal has often contributed thought provoking comments, written in an entertaining style.

    Recently he lets himself down by responding to what he imagines the implications are, of a comment, rather than its actual content. He is often reading way too much into the authors comments and drawing bizarre conclusions as a result.

    It is easy to get sucked into responding in a similar way, in an attempt to correct this misinterpretation. What follows next is usually a verbal slanging match that contributes little to the threads central topic. (I have been guilty of this little sin myself)

    Like many of us, I enjoy having my ideas ungraciously torn apart and I like hearing what others think. This has much more impact if the response addresses what I actually think and wrote. If it does not, it has no impact at all.

  17. avatar bonni says:

    Yes, peanut butter jelly! 😀

  18. avatar ET says:

    Arie Brand

    So it is not just the theme itself but its particular setting that evokes our interest. To dismiss Eijkelboom’s tale as just another case of brothel antics, of bule-hooker relationships, is to forego a rather interesting account of the theme under particular circumstances, at a particular time and place.

    I wholeheartedly agree. All depends on one’s interests and how one processes the information and – why not? – moral conveyed by the story. Some will look for similarities with familiar experiences in the present while others will focus on the historical peculiarities and context. Both and other points of view are not per se incompatible but may crossfertilize and enrich the reader’s experience, even if their lines of thought aren’t congruent. Like they say du choc des idées jaillit la lumière.

  19. avatar Arie Brand says:

    You see the political aspect as the main theme, good for you,

    Gosh, thanks for telling me BB. I wasn’t aware of it.

    I see it very much as a complex story of human relations,

    Well, you could have fooled me. Actually you did.

    By the way: we have only had half the story thus far. In the second part there is no talk of jealousy at all. There he has other and more serious concerns.

  20. avatar Oigal says:

    :-)….oh dear it would appear that I am not the only one you fooled with subtle but Multi layered approach and analysis BB. Still until our friends from the BO thread return, let’s try again as we obviously passed on the first time. Could you help me out and point out where in your first post you actually saw the story as a complex story of human relations?

    I have to confess tho, it’s a bit like catching the same tagged fish over n over again..:-)

  21. avatar Oigal says:

    Oh just as a matter of interest, thanks for talking for me but I’d reckon I have that covered. Fact is mostly I only really enjoy engaging the pretentious and plain silly commentators purely idle amusement ( you can pick which team you wish to nominate for). A bit self indulgent to be sure but it provides a couple of minutes harmless diversion during the day and makes me that more appreciative of the people I work with in real world.

  22. avatar Lairedion says:

    I see it very much as a complex story of human relations,

    Well, you could have fooled me. Actually you did.

    Priceless. One really starts to wonder whether some of these guys here are for real.

    Arie, I found a Dutch online version of the story over here:

  23. avatar Arie Brand says:

    Lairedion, that is in fact the text I am using for the translation. I have the version in Rob Nieuwenhuys’s anthology as well but it is, of course, much easier to translate from an online copy. I am trying to get hold of Eijkelboom’s other stories about his Indonesian experience (in “Het Krijgsbedrijf”) that he published late in life and are thus far not in the dbnl.

  24. avatar Lairedion says:

    You don’t have a copy altogether or are you just searching for an online version?

  25. avatar Arie Brand says:

    I haven’t got a copy yet though a visiting sister will ere long take one with her. I don’t expect an online copy any time soon because presumably there will be copyright on it for quite a while.

  26. avatar fabian says:

    This scenario is quite common all over the world…A foreing wealthy man, or a foreign man with a good job “rescues” a bargirl from Bangkok, or a teen whore from Montevideo, sets her in a good house or apartmente, pays her a monthly bill while he is far away (maybe he is an italian seaman of the merchant navy, or a U.S. soldier or marine, or a korean fisherman).

    The girl maybe was a professional whore, or just a young woman that likes to go out with many guys, have sex and receive presents

    Maybe the girl is kind of slutty but has a higher status in HER city than the highly paid worker….like an argentinian model with a USMC sargent..

    So, while the delusional man, a provider of mony is away, she also has other lovers, or even other providers -customers

    And when the foreign man with big salary returns, sometimes he is jealous..

    ha ha ha, I once had to hide from a jealous italian officer of the merchant fleet, while trying to bed a willing woman in Montevideo…she was not exactly a whore but more a “lady of loose morals” who had a normal job but also received “gifts” from some wealthy men, and had her italian officer paying her monthly bills…

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