Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12
Part 13
Part 14
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22
Part 23
Part 24
Part 25
Part 26
Part 27
Part 28
Part 29
Part 30
Part 31
Part 32
Part 33
Part 34
Part 35
Part 36
Part 37
Part 38
Part 39
Part 40
Part 41
Part 42
Part 43
Part 44
Part 45
Part 46
Part 47
Part 48
Part 49
Part 50
Part 51
Part 52
Part 53
Part 54
Part 55
Part 56
Part 57
Part 58
Part 59
Part 60
Part 61
Part 62
Part 63
Part 64
Part 65
Part 66
Part 67
Part 68
Part 69
Part 70
Part 71
Part 72
Part 73
Part 74
Part 75
Part 76
Part 77
Part 78
Part 79
Part 80
Part 81
Part 82
Part 83
Part 84
Part 85
Part 86
Part 87
Part 88
Part 89
Part 90
Part 91
Part 92
Part 93
Part 94
Part 95
Part 96
Part 97
Part 98
Part 99
Part 100
Part 101
Part 102
Part 103
Part 104
Part 105
Part 106
Part 107
Part 108
Part 109
Part 110
Part 111
Part 112
Part 113
Part 114
Part 115
Part 116
Part 117
Part 118
Part 119
Part 120
Part 121
Part 122
Part 123
Part 124
Part 125
Part 126
Part 127
Part 128
Part 129
Part 130
Part 131
Part 132
Part 133
Part 134
Part 135
Part 136
Part 137
Part 138
Part 139
Part 140
Part 141
Part 142
Part 143
Part 144
Part 145
Part 146
Part 147
Part 148
Part 149
Part 150
Part 151
PART 10: June 10, 1915  

June 14, 1915 - New York Harbor

---- 8:00 PM, Grand Suite, Imperator

The party and auction had each been a tremendous success, but they had left Ballin near exhaustion. There was still so much to be done, but he grew encouraged, as he reviewed the reports, tallies, and figures he'd returned with. It had felt wonderful to be again in the HAPAG offices and he'd been tempted to linger more than the two hours he'd budgeted. After all, he'd almost despaired of ever being there again. Nevertheless, his vast respect for British spies and skullduggery had brought him and his papers back here at the end of the day. His purchasing agents had done well, he saw, these last two weeks in their efforts to procure the materials that Baron Letters had placed high in his priorities. The coal had been the easiest, of course. HAPAG had been a major buyer of high quality steam coal for decades before the war had begun just ten months before. The tin, nickel, and other metals had not been much harder, though his agents still were looking for another few hundred kilograms of tungsten. Like tin, it was mined in other countries and had to be located in warehouses or on the spot markets.

Ballin had been surprised at the difficulty they had had in acquiring the grain. In hindsight, this should have been foreseen. The new harvest was not yet in, and nearly all that was properly prepared for shipment had already been under contract. Two things had allowed this to be solved. First, he had not been after very much, since liners were hardly freighters in terms of capacity, so even that had not turned out to be a problem. Metal billets could replace ballast, but grain was a volume consuming cargo. The second and greater reason was his willingness to pay an above-market price.

Rubber remained the long pole in his tent or, in this case, the short one. So far, he had obtained barely half his goal. Much of the deficit was enroute, but Ballin had no knowledge of, or control over, his departure moment. Also, he did not trust something that was not in his holds. Especially flammable somethings. There were some leads in Philadelphia that still held promise, but his best chances remained in the New York area, he figured. Also, he might get lucky in Boston. He was due for some luck there, he thought, as his men were behind schedule there.

"Enter," he said when the knock came. It was Franz Heinlich, his "lieutenant" in this madcap endeavor.

"Strassburg's in sight, sir. She's in the outer harbor, with two of those small American cruisers close aboard. Tugs are standing by. It looks like she'll moor here in about an hour."

"Thank you. Are we ready for them?"

"The bunting and decorations are in plain view, and first class is done. I'll have the recoal working party waiting on the dock as they tie up."

Cleaning up after the extra 850 men had been a significant job. Unlike paying passengers, many had tracked coal dust back to their quarters. However, they would have need only of first class right now, and also on the return. The other quarters would be occupied only by sacks and crates.

"And our passengers?"

"Not many were due today, of course. We're still short three singles and two families."

"What of Kaiser Wilhelm II?"

"Here's her passenger list, sir. Himmelberg says she'll be ready."

"And the others?"

"Nothing since the arrival and first status reports."

Ballin realized the other was still standing there.

"Is there something else, Franz?" Ballin asked.

"There is one thing. I hate to bring it up, but ..."

"‘But' what?"

"It's the deck chairs, sir."

"What about the deck chairs?" Ballin was quite puzzled at what could be the problem. Tungsten and rubber he could understand. But deck chairs?

"Ten of them are missing, sir."

" ‘Missing'? Who would want to steal ten deck chairs?"

jim (Letterstime)

Home | Gaming Model | Dogger Bank | Intermission Stories | Jutland | After Jutland | Side Stories | Ein Geleitzug | The Humor of jj | NEW!

Content Copyright 2010 Lettertime. All Rights Reserved.
Web Design 2009-2010 Kathryn Wanschura
Contact Letterstime