Next day, the wind dropped and the sun came out, and Harold changed his mind about accompanying Michael and Hubert and Emile on their search for the wreck of the George Badger. They left Garstead Landing a little after 8:30 in the morning, on a rather smarter launch than the Julia, which Hubert had persuaded a lawyer friend of his to lend them for the day. Her name was Thorvid , a good Viking name, which was ironic, considering that her owner was of Italian extraction.335Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡaTC73psyKI
It was cold but calm out in the harbor. Harold wore a quilted anorak and a peaked denim cap and a pair of orange-tinted sunglasses. Pauline wore a thick red knitted jacket and matching ski-hat, with tight stretch designer jeans, and Harold thought she looked sexier than at any time since he'd met her; and he told her so.
She kissed the tip of his cold nose. "Just for that, you can take me out for dinner tonight," she told him. Michael watched them balefully from the other side of the launch.
"You're not scared of ghostly retribution?" Harold asked her.
"I've been thinking about that. Maybe I let my emotions run away with me. Anyway, a ghost is hardly likely to attack us for eating together, is it?"
"That all you've got in mind?"
"Sure," she grinned. "What have you got in mind?"
The advantage of borrowing the Thorvid was that she was fitted with a Decca navigation system; and so Winston Smith was able to steer us right on to the spot that Colin Knight had pinpointed as the place where the George Badger's sole survivor had found himself swimming in the ocean.
Winston said, "It's more than likely that there was quite a time-lapse in between the moment when the ship sank and the moment when the sailor was able to assess his positon; so let's presume that the wreck is probably upwind of here; or upwind in relation to the wind that must have been blowing at the time. We'll drop a buoy here, to use as a datum point, but I think we should search in a box towards the northeast, maybe a 1/2 mile square."
So they began the long and tedious business of a parallel search. Winston and Michael had put together an impressive partnership of sonar scanners, similar to the equipment that had been used to locate the wreck of the Mary Rose. There was a side-scanner, housed in a torpedo-shaped drogue, which could simultaneously search the surface of the sea-bed for 500 feet both to port and to starboard; and a very powerful and high-quality echo-sounder which not only mapped the ocean floor but the underlying layers of sediment beneath it. Once you knew roughly where to look, this combination of scanners was remarkably effective.
Michael came up and stood beside him as the drogue was trailed overboard. "Any luck with your father-in-law?" he asked Harold.
"I haven't spoken to him since the weekend," Harold said.
"We're going to need some money urgently once we locate this wreck."
"Can't we just bring up the copper vessel?" Harold asked him. "Surely that wouldn't be too expensive."
"The copper vessel is only the tip of the iceberg," said Michael. "Do you realize what's down there? A late 17th century ship, most of it intact, if the Mary Rose experience is anything to go by. It's not just the copper vessel we want, it's the whole thing, the whole shooting match. There could be all kinds of artifacts down there that will tell us how they intended to dispose of Supay, and who was on board that ship, and how they manage to keep the demon incarcerated. If we bring up the copper vessel and nothing else, we'll only get 1/4 of the story; and, besides, I'm afraid that once the location of the wreck becomes public knowledge, there's a high risk of it being looted by souvenir-hunters. But, we'll get Supay up just as fast as we possibly can."
He was right about the souvenir-hunters, of course. Even while they were doing nothing more than burbling gently up and down, two or three boats approached them and asked them what they were looking for. "Any treasure down there?" one of the boatmen shouted; and he wasn't kidding. Amateur divers would risk their lives to bring up a piece of carving from a sunken schooner; or a rusty fowling-piece; or a few roughly-minted coins. Winston Smith called back that they were looking for a friend's power-boat, which had accidentally flooded and sunk. The boat waited around for a while, until the owners decided that they weren't doing anything especially interesting, and roared away.
They ate a picnic lunch of spiced chicken and fish enchiladas out on deck, washed down with two bottles of California Cooler. Then they resumed the search, cruising up and down the 100-foot swathes; up to the line of the datum buoy, and then back again. The wind started to rise a little, and the Thorvid began to dip and rise in a way which played unsettling games with Harold's lunch. Pauline said, "This could take days. The bottom of the sea is flat as a pancake around here."
Hubert put in, "We're relying on information supplied by a half-drowned sailor from 290 years ago. Maybe he got it all wrong; maybe the beacons he thought he saw weren't beacons, but house-lights, or flares. I'm starting to think this damned wreck isn't down here at all."
"Hold it," said Emile, who had been sitting in front of the scanner printouts. He pointed to the smudgy trace from the side-scanner, which had suddenly shown a hiccup. "There's something right there, some kinda interruption in the natural ripple patterns." He turned to the echo-sounder printout, and, sure enough, there was a noticeable disturbance in the substratum below the surface of the sea-bed.
"Gentlemen, I think we may have found something," said Emile. He waited until the trace had unrolled a few more inches, then he tore it out of the machine and laid it on their chart-table. "You see this? There's something down there all right, under the mud. And look at the pattern from the side-scanner."
Michael said, "If that's not a scour-mark caused by a sunken wreck, then I'm a goddamn Chinaman!"
"The amount of Chinese food you eat, I'm starting to wonder," said Pauline.
"Pauline, this could be the greatest discovery in modern marine archaeology," Michael told her. "Do you understand what this is? A disturbance under the sea-bed that could only have been caused by a buried ship; and a ship of some considerable size, too. What do you think, Winston? A hundred-tonner?"
"Hard to say," remarked Winston Smith. "I don't even want to say that it's a ship until I've gone down and taken a look."
They spent the next hour scanning and re-scanning the ocean floor, right over the spot where they had first found the disturbance. Each printout seemed to confirm their suspicions that they had at last found the wreck of the George Badger, and gradually they grew more and more excited. Harold didn't dare to think about the possible consequences of bringing her up to the surface, or what would happen when they found the copper vessel, so he did his best to push all thoughts of Supay to the back of his mind, and join in the bustle and self-congratulation with everybody else.
Only Pauline noticed that Harold's enthusiasm was forced. She suddenly looked across at him, and said, "Are you all right, Harold?"
"Sure. Just a little tired, I guess."
"Something's bothering you."
"You know me that well already?"
"I know you better than anybody else on board." She came over and held his arm, and stared at him seriously.
"You're worried," she said. "I can always tell when someone's worried."
"Is it the wreck that's bothering you? Do you really believe they're going to find a demon in it? I mean, a demon?"
"There's something down there," Harold told her. "Trust me."
"Well," she said, "I'll protect you."
Harold kissed her forehead. "If only you could."
The tide was on the turn, and Winston Smith had guessed that there was time for one ten-minute dive over the spot where they had located the disturbance. They weighed anchor and raised the diving-flags, while Winston and Michael changed into their white wetsuits, and the rest of them stood around and chafed their hands in the rapidly-cooling wind. Michael and Winston went over the side without a word, and they leaned on the rail and watched their spectral white shapes swimming away under the murky water.
"You going to dive again?" Pauline asked him.
"If this is really the wreck of the George Badger, then yes. But first of all I'll bet Winston to give me a few lessons in the pool at Oakland Garden Park."
They waited for almost fifteen minutes for Michael and Winston to reappear. Each of them had twenty minutes of air, so they weren't too worried about their safety, but all the same the tidal stream was starting to flow more strongly now, and the waves were becoming choppier, and if they were tired they were going to find it hard work swimming back to the launch again.
Emile brushed back his hair with his hand. "I hope they haven't run into anything weird," he said; and he was expressing the fear that all of them felt. He checked his watch. "If they don't come up in five minutes, I'm going in after them. Hubert, help me get into my suit, will you?"335Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡZ3CkWG5edz
"I'll come with you," said Hubert.
But Emile had only managed to strip off his shirt when two fluorescent orange heads bobbed to the surface only 50 or 60 feet away, and Michael and Winston came swimming methodically back to the diving-lines which trailed all the way around the Thorvid's hull. Michael, before they pulled him in, gave them the a-ok signal.335Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡRzhASCGLdr
He tugged off his mask, rubbed the water out of his beard, and looked at them all triumphantly. "She's there," he said, "I'm sure of it. There's a scour-pit which looks as if it was caused by a buried wreck, about 130 feet in length. Tomorrow we'll go down with air-hoses, and see if we can blast some of the sediment away."
Winston Smith was less sure of their find; but agreed that it was the most likely trace thus far. "The visibility's real bad down there at the moment; you can hardly see you hand before your mask. But there's something there, you can make out the shape of the mound that it's made. It's worth taking another look."
They logged the point exactly with landmarks and compass bearings. They didn't want to leave a marker-buoy, in case some nosy treasure-hunter decided to go down and take a look at what they'd been up to.
Michael came up to Harold, half-dressed in a polo-neck sweater and an athletic supporter, and said, "Do you think you can have another go at your father-in-law? See if you can persuade him to hustle up some money. If this really is the George Badger, we're going to need a proper diving-ship, and excavation facilities, and a way of bringing her up once we've dug her out of the mud. We're going to need extra divers, too, pros."335Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡMxsWmVO7LE
"I'll give it my best shot," Harold said, reluctantly. "He didn't seem too enthusiastic about it the last time I spoke to him."
Michael said, "Come on, Harold. Give it another try, huh? Ask him. He can only say no."
"All right," Harold agreed. "Let me take these sonar traces along. Maybe I'll convince him."335Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡtA9nBvyW57
As the sky began to darken, they sailed back into Salem. The first lights began to sparkle in the streets, and there was a strong tang of salt air on the wind.
"You know that Salem was named for 'Shalom,' the word for peace," said Michael reflectively.335Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEizbCfqjeV
"Let's hope we can bring it some," Harold replied, and Pauline, behind him, said, "Amen."ns 188.8.131.52da2