The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview

the men of the Blitz's launch might have handcuffed and trussed and carried me away, without incommoding me in the least.


CHAPTER XXV
I Double Back

'Goodbye, old chap,' called Davies.

'Goodbye.' The whistle blew and the ferry-steamer forged ahead, leaving Davies on the quay, bareheaded and wearing his old Norfolk jacket and stained grey flannels, as at our first meeting in Flensburg station. There was no bandaged hand this time, but he looked pinched and depressed; his eyes had black circles round them; and again I felt that same indefinable pathos in him.

'Your friend is in low spirits,' said Böhme, who was installed on a seat beside me, voluminously caped and rugged against the biting air. It was a still, sunless day.

'So am I,' I grunted, and it was the literal truth. I was only half awake, felt unwashed and dissipated, heavy in head and limbs. But for Davies I should never have been where I was. It was he who had patiently coaxed me out of my bunk, packed my bag, fed me with tea and an omelette (to which I believe he had devoted peculiarly tender care), and generally mothered me for departure. While I swallowed my second cup he was brushing the mould and smoothing the dents from my felt hat, which had been entombed for a month in the sail-locker; working at it with a remorseful concern in his face. The only initiative I am conscious of having shown was in the matter of my bag. 'Put in my sea clothes, oils, and all,' I had said; 'I may want them again.' There was mortal need of a thorough consultation, but this was out of the question. Davies did not badger or complain, but only timidly asked me how we were to meet and communicate, a question on which my mind was an absolute blank.

'Look out for me about the 26th,' I suggested feebly.

-220-

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