The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview
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I let go the gig's gunwale and watched her tighten her sheet and make a tack or two to windward. Then I rowed back to the Dulcibella as hard as I could.


CHAPTER XX
The Little Drab Book

I found Davies at the cabin table, surrounded with a litter of books. The shelf was empty, and its contents were tossed about among the cups and on the floor. We both spoke together.

'Well, what was it?'

'Well, what did she say?'

I gave way, and told my story briefly. He listened in silence, drumming on the table with a book which he held.

'It's not goodbye,' he said. 'But I don't wonder; look here!' and he held out to me a small volume, whose appearance was quite familiar to me, if its contents were less so. As I noted in an early chapter, Davies's library, excluding tide-tables, 'pilots', etc., was limited to two classes of books, those on naval warfare, and those on his own hobby, cruising in small yachts. He had six or seven of the latter, including Knight Falcon in the Baltic, Cowper Sailing Tours,* Macmullen's Down Channel,* and other less-known stories of adventurous travel. I had scarcely done more than look into some of them at off-moments, for our life had left no leisure for reading. This particular volume was--no, I had better not describe it too fully; but I will say that it was old and unpretentious, bound in cheap cloth of a rather antiquated style, with a title which showed it to be a guide for yachtsmen to a certain British estuary. A white label partly scratched away bore the legend '3d.' I had glanced at it once or twice with no special interest.

'Well?' I said, turning over some yellow pages.

'Dollmann!' cried Davies. 'Dollmann wrote it.' I turned to the titlepage, and read: 'By Lieut. X-----, R.N.' The name itself conveyed

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