The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
Davies

I dozed but fitfully, with a fretful sense of sore elbows and neck and many a draughty hiatus among the blankets. It was broad daylight before I had reached the stage of torpor in which such slumber merges. That was finally broken by the descent through the skylight of a torrent of water. I started up, bumped my head hard against the decks, and blinked leaden-eyed upwards.

'Sorry! I'm scrubbing decks. Come up and bathe. Slept well?' I heard a voice saying from aloft.

'Fairly well,' I growled, stepping out into a pool of water on the oilcloth. Thence I stumbled up the ladder, dived overboard, and buried bad dreams, stiffness, frowsiness, and tormented nerves in the loveliest fiord of the lovely Baltic. A short and furious swim and I was back again, searching for a means of ascent up the smooth black side, which, low as it was, was slippery and unsympathetic. Davies, in a loose canvas shirt, with the sleeves tucked up, and flannels rolled up to the knee, hung over me with a rope's end, and chatted unconcernedly about the easiness of the job when you know how, adjuring me to mind the paint, and talking about an accommodation ladder he had once had, but had thrown overboard because it was so horribly in the way. When I arrived, my knees and elbows were picked out in black paint, to his consternation. Nevertheless, as I plied the towel, I knew that I had left in those limpid depths yet another crust of discontent and self-conceit.

As I dressed into flannels and blazer, I looked round the deck, and with an unskilled and doubtful eye took in all that the darkness had hitherto hidden. She seemed very small (in point of fact she was seven tons), something over thirty feet in length and nine in beam, a size very suitable to weekends in the Solent, for such as liked that sort of thing; but that she should have come from Dover to the Baltic suggested a world of physical endeavour of which I had never dreamed. I passed to the aesthetic side. Smartness and beauty were essential to yachts, in my mind, but with the best resolves to be pleased I found little encouragement here. The hull seemed too low,

-28-

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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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