The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
Bensersiel1

The decisive incidents of our cruise were now fast approaching. Looking back on the steps that led to them, and anxious that the reader should be wholly with us in our point of view, I think I cannot do better than give extracts from my diary of the next three days:

'Oct. 16th (up at 6.30, yacht high and dry). Of the three galliots out at anchor in the channel yesterday, only one is left. . . . I took my turn with the breakers this morning and walked to Wangeroog, whose village I found half lost in sand drifts, which are planted with tufts of marram-grass in mathematical rows, to give stability and prevent a catastrophe like that at Pompeii. A friendly grocer told me all there is to know, which is little. The islands are what we thought them-- barren for the most part, with a small fishing population, and a scanty accession of summer visitors for bathing. The season is over now, and business slack for him. There is still, however, a little trade with the mainland in galliots and lighters, a few of which come from the "siels" on the mainland. "Had these harbours?" I asked. "Mud-holes!" he replied, with a contemptuous laugh. (He is a settler in these wilds, not a native.) Said he had heard of schemes for improving them, so as to develop the islands as health-resorts, but thought it was only a wild speculation.

'A heavy tramp back to the yacht, nearly crushed by impedimenta. While Davies made yet another trip, I stalked some birds with a gun, and obtained what resembled a specimen of the smallest variety of jack-snipe, and small at that; but I made a great noise, which I hope persuaded somebody of the purity of our motives.

'We weighed anchor at one o'clock, and in passing the anchored galliot took a good look at her. Kormoran was on her stern; otherwise she was just like a hundred others. Nobody was on deck.

'We spent the whole afternoon till dark exploring the Harle, or gap between Wangeroog and Spiekeroog; the sea breaking heavily on the banks outside. . . . Fine as the day was, the scene from the offing was

____________________
1
For this chapter see Map B.

-120-

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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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