A ship had come into view. LT Lionel was behind the oculars again. He
was smiling. If
anything, the grin on his face was even
broader than it had been almost exactly 24 hours previously, when he
SS Eyewhon and SS Maid of Malay. After a
minute, though, the corners of his mouth flattened back out. Well, he had in view something he’d certainly
hoped to see. But ... he pivoted about
to scan more fully the arc where the ship was ... nothing.
Where were ...?
He swivelled to look towards LT Diele’s post. As best he could tell, they were gazing in a
somewhat different direction, well, at least the tripod mount was aimed
way. The man there stood up and made
some sort of gesture. A man in an
officer’s uniform - LT Diele, presumably - came into the field of
took over the tripod. Others stepped
into view, pointing and raising binoculars.
Lionel estimated the bearing and aimed the
something like Diele’s bearing. There
was nothing .... No! Wait! Yes! Yes, indeed!
---- Strassburg, steerage way
Captain Siegmund made a rigorous effort to
hide his own
feelings. So many things could still go
wrong, but so much had come to pass thus far that he could almost be
that the rest could follow. Nonetheless,
he’d’ve felt far, far better if he knew just where the Britishers were. He knew they were around somewhere. His skin itched at the back of his neck, but
no amount of scratching could ease it.
“Left full rudder,” he ordered, conning his
cruiser out of
the path of the newcomers.
“Rudder amidships.” His
post was guard ship for the next day or more.
“Steady as she goes.” He
had always been a fanatic on conserving coal. Indeed,
the brief splurge off New
York and Philadelphia,
however justified and even needful it had been at the time, embarrassed
in hindsight. (NOTE)
inquiry was directed to a stocky man hunched over a mounted scope. He was staring at figures on the roof of a
building ashore, then at others on a different building on a different
“Not yet, sir.” The
reply was muffled due to the other’s stance. “Almost,
though, sir. Another
fifty meters, maybe a bit less. We’ve
not cleared the... there! Got ‘em, sir.”
“All stop,” ordered Siegmund.
“Bosun, prepare to drop anchor.”
He wanted to take all but one boiler off
line but could
not. Not yet. His
hands clenched on the bridge rail. The
impatience and anxiety unique to ship
captains who did not know where they would next get coal once more
to show on his face.
No, he had to wait for Dahm and Speck to do
their job. Siegmund just wished they’d
hurry it up but,
even in the midst of his own ardor for haste, he respected full well
others’ need for extreme deliberateness as they set about their current
---- St. Pierre,
Place de la Roncière
The Frenchmen had remained mostly silent
ever since first
meal, though they cast frequent and numerous reproachful looks in Bavaria’s
direction. A few minutes ago, the report
of incoming messages had prompted Kommodore von Hoban’s quick-stepping
departure up the stairs and into the office building.
The closure of the door behind the kommodore
had apparently served as a signal for action as, within moments,
several of the
Frenchmen had bustled over to the single strand rope border and begun
streams of entreaties and grievances. Bavaria
went over to listen, nodding gravely.
Since the Germans were currently outnumbered
in this part of France
something approaching ten-to-one, listening and even placating them had
the wisest course by far. A riot could
result in many casualties, not the least of which would be Germany’s
sympathies in the United States
since Duxbury, Massachusetts
was at the nearer end of Western Union’s cables
“But, m’sieur, you ... you ....”
The “Burgermeister” was livid, having
quickly worked himself
up into a seeming lather. He punctuated
his speech with gestures that verged on being brusque.
tried not to take offense even as he tried not to smile.
He was finding the latter more difficult than
the former because the Frenchman kept stealing glances at the distant
reassure himself that Kommodore von Hoban was still inside and safely
“... said, and most clearly.
‘This is the last night,’ that is what you said.” The men with him bobbed their heads in firm
agreement. “The food, it is almost
gone. Yes, there is bread ....”
The bakers were among the men that the
Germans had retained
ashore. The others included the
gendarmes and about half of those that the Germans had decided to be
“officials.” Separate the leaders from
the mob, that was the idea. Here, it had
the added advantage of helping to preserve order within the larger mass
women and children, who themselves drew comfort from their familiar
“... but little else, and even the bread, it
runs short of
confident that considerably more flour remained than was being claimed. The bakers were baking, alright, but they
were not getting paid for either their time or their wares. It would not have taken them long to have
grasped that most fundamental point.
“You have over two thousand of us here, most
of them women
and children. You are responsible for
feeding them. What are ....”
thought the figure to be higher, as the Germans had generally completed
admittedly-leisurely sweep of the town. The
large front door of the government building opened
then, the motion
catching Bavaria’s eye. Kommodore von Hoban emerged, looked about and
raised his chin up when he saw that he had Bavaria’s
“If you would excuse me, m’sieur? The kommodore ....”
The French voices had already tailed off at
the sight of von
“Certainment,” the “Burgermeister” muttered,
in a semblance
LT Kessock had, for reasons of shelter and
included several of the buildings bordering the Place within the rope
perimeter. The young officer had not
seen the kommodore because he was watching several small boys race out
tallest of the perimeter buildings and over to an older gendarme whose
foot was propped up on a stool. The
stool had not been there earlier, but none of the Germans seemed to
witnessed its appearance. Kessock’s
guess was that those same lads had spirited it out of one of the shops
one was looking. In any case, the boys
were literally jumping up and down, pointing down channel.
Within minutes, the crowd on the Place had
turned to face
that same direction and then began to drift to better vantage points.
---- Imperator, slowing to a stop
“What’ll I ever do for an encore?”
Maxwell Browning of the Sacramento
Union-Times and, more
recently, The New York Times had had several days to reflect on the
turns his life had so recently taken. His
question was posed to his fellow reporter, Benjamin
“Blue” Fox of
the Philadelphia Inquirer, who merely raised one eyebrow in reply. Both men stood at one rail on the Promenade
Deck, regarding the bits of land that Herr Ballin had explained to be
part of France.
“I mean, I only came East for a birthday
Chrissake! My 24th. What
am I going to do for my 25th?”
“Well, I’m wondering what Holly’s doing,”
with a trace of bitterness. “What’s she
thinking. Who’s she seeing.”
“Well, yes, there’s that,” Browning
conceded, with a
sigh. “I miss my Colleen, too. And, you know, I miss Mt. Rainier,
too. I really do. All
my life it’s been right there on the
horizon, snow-capped, unclimbable, and just awesome as all hell. I could never live on the East Coast where
the only things tall are buildings, glorified ant nests, all of them. How do you stand it?”
“Never thought about it,” admitted Blue. “If you think New York’s
bad, though, how’d you like to live here? After
all, there’s not a single tall building in sight. Oh,
and by the way, I think that smell’s
“It’s fish alright,” agreed Max, his nose
wrinkling. “ What
do people DO here, I wonder, I mean, when they’re not fishing?”
“Well,” began Blue, looking through
binoculars, “right now
what they all seem to be doing is staring at US!”
---- Moltke and von der Tann, anchored,
moored to Eyewhon,
one on each beam
Imperator and Vaterland were indeed a most
sight. They loomed out of the water like
great white icebergs, dwarfing the other three liners behind them.
Captains Dirk and Stang were not watching
any of the liners,
their attention fixed instead on the black flow of life onto their
its being struck down into their bunkers. The
backbreaking and dangerous labors off New
and Boston had been enough
them here with enough margin to allow them to abort and return to the
northernmost American port cities, but just barely so.
Even at that, though, Dirk’s calculations had
suggested that 20 knots would have been von der Tann’s maximum for the
on a late abort, and Stang’s math had Moltke’s fuel reserves tighter
still. Now, their options were growing
in precise proportion to the heights of the mounds of coal on their
decks. Dirk would fill his bunkers to the
beyond, but Stang could not do the same for Moltke.
At least, not yet.
Stang walked across Moltke’s bridge to watch
the approach of
Kronprinz Wilhelm. Captain von Stampt
called out “All stop” and “Prepare to drop anchor.”
There was essentially no breeze, but it was
cool enough that that was not the reason why his shirt was soaked from
armpits down with sweat. The two German
ship masters traded brief, anxious glances.
This was not without risks, though more to
vessel than Stang’s. What they needed
were tugs, but all they had were masses of baled rope fenders. They would suffice, just as long as he made
no mistake, or a sudden gust of wind, or an unexpected current, or damn
anything at all.
“Drop anchor.” They
had drawn near enough to allow use of the anchor chains to slow and
Stang nodded with appreciation at the
seamanship of the
other as the ships glided together ever so slowly.
He could see von Stampt’s shoulders sag with
relief as line after line snugged the ships together.
Both captains paused to share a brief look,
bridge, and then turned as one to regard the Kronprinzessen Cecilie,
begun inching forward to duplicate von Stampt’s maneuver on the
of Kronprinz Wilhelm.
---- Kolberg and Augsburg,
Dahm and Speck were at different ends of the
outside the channel mouth. Both vessels
and crews were doing the same thing.
Dahm’s crew was well ahead of Speck’s, for a
reasons. First, Dahm had had his men
preparing for the task for over a day, including sketching detailed
maps. Second, Kolberg’s was the channel
the newcomers had NOT entered, thus letting him get somewhat of a head
“Number thirty-two set and secure, sir.”
“Very well,” Dahm replied, mopping the sweat
from his brow
quite unashamedly. “Bosun, I want no
relaxing here. None! All
bearing lines double and triple checked.”
“Aye, aye, sir.” The
senior enlisted man agreed most whole-heartedly. His
captain, acting CO or not, had said the
same or nearly the same thing twice before and the bosun’s sincerity
was in no
way diminishing. These damn-fangled
things scared the crap out of him.
Speck was older than Dahm, by two decades or
more, but he
duplicated the other’s anxiety. If
anything, his concerns exceeded those of the younger man, as he not
what could go wrong, he’d already seen it twice in his career. The pressure he felt now in his chest, an
insidious hug from an unseen adversary, was partly from his fear that
minute he would see it a third time.
But only partly.
“It’s set, sir.”
“Is it secure?”
“Are you absolutely certain?”
“Um, I think…, yes, sir.”
“Mark it down. Chief,
I want the bearing lines exact. There
cannot be any doubt here. None! Prepare number two, but I want Number One
watched – like a hawk, now!”
“Aye, aye, sir!”
Admiral Hanzik had entrusted the older, more
with the more critical end of the channel – the one that the Germans
would need to exit – and Speck knew it. It
was that fact that gave the wrestler at his chest its
fear for his own life. No, a mistake
here could betray them all.
“The map, bosun, let me see that sketch
Speck looked at the bearings, for perhaps
the third time.
“Status of Number One?”
“Still secure, sir. No
“Very well,” Speck acknowledged. “Proceed with Number Two.”
Siegmund’s reactions to being freshly coaled
and released to
conduct independent cruiser operations begin here: