The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
The First Night in the Islands

A low line of sandhills, pink and fawn in the setting sun, at one end of them a little white village huddled round the base of a massive four-square lighthouse--such was Wangeroog, the easternmost of the Frisian Islands, as I saw it on the evening of October 15th. We had decided to make it our first landing-place; and since it possesses no harbour, and is hedged by a mile of sand at low water, we had run in on the rising tide till the yacht grounded, in order to save ourselves as much labour as possible in the carriage to and fro of the heavy waterbreakers and oilcans which we had to replenish. In faint outline three miles to the south of us was the flat plain of Friesland, broken only by some trees, a windmill or two, and a church spire. Between, the shallow expanse of sea was already beginning to shrink away into lagoons, chief among which was the narrow passage by which we had approached from the east. This continued its course west, directly parallel to the island, and in it, at a distance of half a mile from us, three galliots lay at anchor.

Before supper was over the yacht was high and dry, and when we had eaten, Davies loaded himself with cans and breakers. I was for taking my share, but he induced me to stay aboard; for I was dead tired after an unusually long and trying day, which had begun at 2 a.m., when, using a precious instalment of east wind, we had started on a complete passage of the sands from the Elbe to the Jade. It was a barely possible feat for a boat of our low speed to perform in only two tides; and though we just succeeded, it was only by dint of tireless vigilance and severe physical strain.

'Lay out the anchor when you've had a smoke,' said Davies, 'and keep an eye on the riding-light; it's my only guide back.'

He lowered himself, and I heard the scrunch of his sea-boots as he disappeared in the darkness. It was a fine starry night, with a touch of frost in the air. I lit a cigar, and stretched myself on a sofa close to the glow of the stove. The cigar soon languished and dropped, and I dozed uneasily, for the riding-light was on my mind. I got up once and squinted at it through the half-raised skylight, saw it burning

-113-

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The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oxford World's Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Text xix
  • Select Bibliography xx
  • A Chronology of Robert Erskine Childers xxi
  • Preface to the Present Edition 2
  • Preface to the Original Edition 3
  • Note 5
  • Chapter I the Letter 11
  • Chapter II the Dulcibella 17
  • Chapter III Davies 28
  • Chapter IV Retrospect 36
  • Chapter IV Retrospect 43
  • Chapter IV Retrospect 50
  • Chapter IV Retrospect 56
  • Chapter VIII the Theory 67
  • Chapter IX I Sign Articles 77
  • Chapter X His Chance 85
  • Chapter XI the Pathfinders 92
  • Chapter XII My Initiation 99
  • Chapter XII My Initiation 108
  • Chapter XIV the First Night in the Islands 113
  • Chapter XV Bensersiel 120
  • Chapter XVI Commander Von Brüning 126
  • Chapter XVI Commander Von Brüning 138
  • Chapter XVIII Imperial Escort 148
  • Chapter XIX the Rubicon 153
  • Chapter XX the Little Drab Book 164
  • Chapter XX the Little Drab Book 173
  • Chapter XXII the Quartette 186
  • Chapter XXIII a Change of Tactics 196
  • Chapter XXIII a Change of Tactics 207
  • Chapter XXIII a Change of Tactics 220
  • Chapter XVII the Seven Siels 230
  • Chapter XXVII the Luck of the Stowaway 240
  • Chapter XXVII the Luck of the Stowaway 252
  • Epilogue by the Editor 260
  • Explanatory Notes 269
  • Nautical Glossary 275
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