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datatime: 2022-12-01 00:36:10 Author:DeDIFiBL

Still, he felt uneasy, and he was tired. It took all his willpower to keep from heading to the snug confines of his bunk and gratefully closing his eyes to the grim set of problems surrounding the ship. One more inspection tour down to the engine room to see if any water was reported rising in the bilges. A trip that proved negative, seeming to confirm Worley's faith in the Cyclops.

Church stared at him.Yes, sir, if you wish.

Church stared at him.Yes, sir, if you wish.

As he was walking down a passageway toward the wardroom for a cup of coffee a cabin door opened and the American consul general to Brazil, Alfred Gottschalk, hesitated on the threshold, talking to someone inside. Church peered over Gottschalk's shoulder and saw the ship's doctor bent over a man lying in a bunk. The patient's face looked tired and yellow-skinned, a youngish face that belied the thick forest of white hair above. The eyes were open and reflected fear mingled with suffering and hardship, eyes that had seen too much. The scene was only one more strange element to be added to the voyage of the Cyclops.

Church stared at him.Yes, sir, if you wish.

Worley stared at him.So what?

Mother of God, muttered the helmsman, his voice edged with panic.

The second vehicle in the caravan was an ambulance. Church watched as a figure on a stretcher was lifted out and carried on board, but he failed to discern any features because of heavy mosquito netting that covered the face. Though the person on the stretcher was obviously part of his entourage, Gottschalk took little notice, turning his attention instead to the chain-drive Mack truck that brought up the rear.

You talk like a crazy man. Go to your cabin, mister. I don't want to see your face until we reach port.

Church, sir. I was just finishing an inspection of the ship and heading for the wardroom for a cup of coffee. Would you care to join me?

Mother of God, muttered the helmsman, his voice edged with panic.

Church hesitated, his fists clenched. Then slowly his hands relaxed as he realized any further argument with Worley was a waste of breath. He turned without a word and left the wheelhouse.

If Church thought the request unusual, he said nothing, simply nodded and started off toward the forward part of the ship with the fat little consul general huffing in his wake. They made their way topside and walked along the runway leading from the aft deckhouses toward the forecastle, passing under the bridge superstructure awkwardly suspended on steel stiltlike stanchions. The steaming light, suspended between the two forward masts that formed a support for the skeletal grid connecting the coaling derricks, cast a weird glow that was reflected by the eerie radiance of the approaching swells.

Gottschalk turned and noticed Church standing in the passageway. He stepped from the cabin and closed the door behind him, his eyes narrowed with suspicion.Something I can help you with, Lieutenant. . .

Church stared at him.Yes, sir, if you wish.

Mother of God, muttered the helmsman, his voice edged with panic.

Before we have coffee, would you be so kind, Lieutenant, as to escort me to the baggage cargo hold?

The second vehicle in the caravan was an ambulance. Church watched as a figure on a stretcher was lifted out and carried on board, but he failed to discern any features because of heavy mosquito netting that covered the face. Though the person on the stretcher was obviously part of his entourage, Gottschalk took little notice, turning his attention instead to the chain-drive Mack truck that brought up the rear.

Don't you see, she must have been struck by a giant, rogue wave.

Worley stared at him.So what?

He stepped onto the deck and stared out over the bow. The sea appeared deceptively mild. The waves had diminished to ten feet and no water was coming over the deck. He made his way aft and saw that the steam lines that ran the winches and auxiliary equipment were scraping against the bulwarks as the ship rose and fell with the long, slow swells.

Worley stared at him.So what?

Church, sir. I was just finishing an inspection of the ship and heading for the wardroom for a cup of coffee. Would you care to join me?

Worley stared at him.So what?

Gottschalk appeared unduly nervous to Church. His eyes darted up and down the passageway, and he constantly dabbed a linen handkerchief at his small mouth. He took Church by the arm.

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