Aunt Martha's Tea Set
Two hours late leaving the Port of Liverpool, the captain of the SS Armagon paced the bridge. Known as “the old man” by his crew, he was a hardnosed veteran seafarer with a stickler for detail and for being on time. But tonight, his orders were to wait. When he saw the truck with the Blue Funnel insignia on the dock coming towards him, he sighed in relief and galvanized his men into action. He had hand-picked his crew for tonight. The lineup was nowhere near its usual full complement but each man, nevertheless, was a seasoned sailor who knew his duty and the real reason for the voyage.
When the wooden crate had been hoisted up and placed in the hole, Captain Cole gave the orders to cast off. Once clear of the harbour, the ship went to full speed.
For a while Captain Cole remained on the bridge of his humble 7,250-ton merchant vessel as it ploughed a lonely course across the gentle Irish Sea toward Dublin. The full moon shone like a high-powered spotlight in a cloudless night sky, sparkling with stars. The rendezvous should be an easy one. Satisfied, he left the bridge and headed to his cabin.
Before he entered, the wireless operator arrived to hand him a cable. “Wilhelm, why are you always in a hurry? You’ll be amazed how much more life you’ll have time for if only you would slow down.”
Wilhelm came to rigid attention and handed him the coded message. “Heil Hitler!”
“Yes, heil Hitler.” The captain returned an unenthused reply and salute. Absorbed in reading, he entered his cabin and shut the door. He took out the code book from the side drawer of the desk and sat to decipher the message. When he had finished, he pulled out his Vauen pipe from the drawer and filled its bowl from a can of Edgeworth ...