The Riddle of the Sands: A Record of Secret Service

By Erskine Childers; David Trotter | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIX
The Rubicon

It was a cold, vaporous dawn, the glass rising, and the wind fallen to a light air still from the north-east. Our creased and sodden sails scarcely answered to it as we crept across the oily swell to Langeoog. 'Fogs and calms,' Davies prophesied. The Blitz was astir when we passed her, and soon after steamed out to sea. Once over the bar, she turned westward and was lost to view in the haze. I should be sorry to have to explain how we found that tiny anchor-buoy, on the expressionless waste of grey. I only know that I hove the lead incessantly while Davies conned, till at last he was grabbing overside with the boat-hook, and there was the buoy on deck. The cable was soon following it, and finally the rusty monster himself, more loathsome than usual, after his long sojourn in the slime.

'That's all right,' said Davies. 'Now we can go anywhere.'

'Well, it's Norderney, isn't it? We've settled that.'

'Yes, I suppose we have. I was wondering whether it wouldn't be shortest to go inside the Langeoog after all.'

'Surely not,' I urged. 'The tide's ebbing now, and the light's bad; it's new ground, with a "watershed" to cross, and we're safe to get aground.'

'All right--outside. Ready about.' We swung lazily round and headed for the open sea. I record the fact, but in truth Davies might have taken me where he liked, for no land was visible, only a couple of ghostly booms.

'It seems a pity to miss over that channel,' said Davies, with a sigh; 'just when the Kormoran can't watch us.' (We had not seen her at all this morning.)

I set myself to the lead again, averse to reopening a barren argument. Grimm had done his work for the present, I felt certain, and was on his way by the shortest road to Norderney and Memmert.

We were soon outside and heading west, our boom squared away and the island sand-dunes just apparent under our lee. Then the breeze died to the merest draught, and left us rolling inert in a long swell. Consumed with impatience to get on I saw fatality in this

-153-

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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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