It took a week for Michael and Hubert and Winston Smith to prepare a reasonably accurate costing of how much it would take to raise the George Badger, and during that week they dived at the location of the wreck eleven times.413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡgefb4HLzoH
They were lucky: on the fourth dive they found protruding from the mud a row of four rotted timbers, which later turned out to be fashion-pieces that outlined the stern transom. This was their first visual confirmation that the George Badger was really there, buried in the ooze, and they celebrated that evening with a dozen bottles of California Cooler.
During the next few dives, they excavated scores of deck timbers; and it rapidly became clear that the George Badger was lying at an angle of about 30 degrees, with one side of her hull preserved almost up to the spar deck. Michael telephone a friend of his in San Diego, California, a maritime artist called David Tillman, and David flew over to help with the preparation of sketch-plans and charts.
David dived on the wreck three times himself, groping through the murk to feel the stumpy remains of the stern-post and the black, eroded teeth of the fashion-pieces. Afterwards, silent, absorbed with what he had seen, he sat down in Michael's living-room with a drawing-board and scores of sheets of paper, and created for them a conjectural sheer drawing of what he thought the George Badger actually looked like now, as well as dozens of conjectural body-sections.
Harold went down himself on the 12th dive. It was a bright, calm day, and visibility was oddly good. Michael swam along with him, a distorted white companion in a soundless world without gravity or wind. They approached the wreck of the George Badger from the northeast, and when Harold first saw her it was hard to understand how Michael had missed her during all that year of diving and searching. Apart from the black timbers that had now been excavated from the sloping ooze, the bulk of the George Badger was represented on the sea-bed as a long, oval mound, like an underwater burial site. During the three brutal centuries she had lain here, the tidal streams had scoured around her, creating a natural depression on all sides, and heaping silt onto her upper decks as if they were trying to conceal the evidence of an ancient and unsolved murder.
Harold swam right around the wreck, while Michael pointed out the exposed fashion-pieces, and the stern-post, and indicated with a sloping hand just how much the wreck had keeled over when she had sunk to the bottom. He watched Michael cross and recross the wreck, flying above the sea-bed at a height of no more than three or four feet, his fins stirring up cauliflower clouds of silt. It was then that he remembered what old Cotton Mather had told him on Salem Common that day: "You must stay away from the place where no birds fly."
This was the place: deep beneath the surface of Lobster Bay. She had warned him, but now it was too late. He was committed to whatever fate was going to bring him; and he was committed to bringing up Supay, if it was really here.
When they surfaced, Michael shouted across at him, "What do you think? Isn't it fantastic?"
Harold waved, panting for breath. Then he swam back to the Thorvid, and climbed up the diving-ropes on to the deck. Pauline came over and said, "You've seen it?"
Harold nodded. "It's amazing that nobody's come across it before."
Winston Smith said, "It isn't really. Most of the time, the visibility is so poor that you could swim within a couple of feet of it and not notice anything unusual."
Michael came aboard and shook himself like a wet otter. "It's really extraordinary," he said, handing his mask to Pauline, and wrestling his head out of his orange Neoprene hood. "You get this creepy sense that you're trespassing on history---that men were never supposed to find this wreck. You know what it reminds me of? Those ancient Celtic barrows, which you can only detect from the air."
"Well," said Harold, "now that we've found it, how long is it going to take us to raise it?"
Michael blew water out of his nose. "Winston and I have been talking about this, from a logistical point of view. How many divers and marine archaeologists we're going to need, how many diving-boats, how much excavation equipment. We're going to need warehouse space on the shore, too, so that we can store equipment and lay out all the loose timbers we find. Everything we find is going to have to be numbered, sketched, and filed away for later restoration. Every timber, every spar, every knife, fork, and spoon; every bone; every shred of fabric. Then we're going to require refrigeration storage to keep the main timbers from eroding, and of course somewhere to store the main hull itself, when we eventually raise it."
"How eventually is eventually?" Harold wanted to know.
"It depends on our budget, and the weather. If we have a short diving season this year, and if we can't immediately lay our hands on all the specialized equipment we're going to need, then three or four years."
"Three or four years?"
"Yes, unfortunately," said Michael. He unwrapped a piece of candy and popped it into his mouth. "And even that's less than 1/3 of the time it took them to bring up the Mary Rose. Of course we're benefiting from all of their experience; and there's even a chance that we can borrow some of the lifting equipment they developed. Once we've got the budgeting settled, Hubert and I will likely fly over to England and have some detailed meetings with them on the best way to raise the George Badger with the minimum of damage."
"But, for Christ's sake, Michael, three or four years? What about Supay? What about all those people who are going to be haunted, and possibly killed? What about all those ghosts that can't rest?"
"Harold, I'm sorry,, but three or four years is pushing it right to the very limit. If there wasn't this unusual urgency, I'd normally expect to take eight or nine years over an historical salvage job of this magnitude. Do you realize what we've got here? An historical wreck of absolutely inestimable value; the only known surviving wreck from the late 17th century which hasn't even been touched since it first went down. What's more, it was engaged on an secret and extraordinary mission, and as far as we know it's still bearing its original cargo."
Harold roughly toweled his face and then tossed the towel down on the deck. "You specifically told me that you were going to bring up this wreck quickly. You specifically said that."
"Sure I did," Michael agreed, "and I will. Three or four years is almost obscenely quick."
"Not if your dead wife is haunting you every night. Not if half the people in Ol' Spithead are being terrorized by their deceased relations. Not if one single life is put at risk; that's not quick."
"Harold," put in Hubert, "we can't lift that wreck any faster. It's not physically possible. It has to be thoroughly excavated, all the silt and mud sucked out of it; then it has to be strengthened so that we won't break its back when we winch it out. We have to make endless calculations to determine what kind of stress it's going to stand up to; then we have to construct a custom-built frame to enclose the hull while it's actually raised. You're talking about three years' there already."
"All right," Harold said, "but can't we at least raise the copper vessel first? Excavate the hold, and lift it out separately? How long will that take? A week or two?"
"No, no, we can't work it that way. If we go charging into that wreck like John Wayne and the Green Berets, we're going to do a great deal of unwarranted damage to the decks, and maybe destroy the entire excavation."
"What are you talking about? Michael, what the hell's going on here? You said it would take some time to lift the ship up off the sea-bed; all right, I accept that. But you never said years. I always got the impression that we were talking about weeks, or maybe a couple of months at the outside."
Michael laid a hand on his shoulder. "There was never any chance that we could raise the George Badger in a matter of weeks, and I never gave you the impression for one moment that we could. Harold, this wreck is a fragile historical monument. We can't treat it like it's a sunken speedboat."
"But we can get that damned Supay out of there," Harold insisted. "Michael, we have to. Come on, Michael, they brought up all the cannon from the Mary Rose way beore they brought up the hull."
"Yes, they did; and of course we'll bring up Supay ahead of the main structure. We may be able to lift the copper vessel out of there by the start of next season, if we're lucky. But we can't afford to go crashing in there with crowbars and winches before we know how much of the wreck is really there, and how she's lying, and how we can best preserve her."
"Michael!" Harold shouted at him. "The goddamned wreck isn't important! Not by comparison! It's Supay we've got to go for, and the wreck be damned!"
"Sorry, Harold," said Michael, polishing his glasses, and lifting them up so that he could squint through them and make sure that they were clean. "Nobody else her feels that same way you do, and that means you're outvoted."
"Excuse me! I didn't know we were a committee! I thought we were just a bunch of people with the same interest at heart."
"We are. Well, we are, at least. I don't know whether you are."
Pauling said, "Isn't there some kind of compromise we can make? Isn't there some way we can make it a top priority, getting that copper vessel out of the hold?"
"It is a top priority," Michael insisted. "God knows, I'd rather excavate it logically, so that we don't lift it before we've annotated and earmarked everything around it, and the deck on which it's lying. But I've already compromised to the point where I'm ready to which it up as soon as we've removed the deck immediately above it, as soon as it's accessible, and you can't ask any more of me than that."
"Michael," said Harold, "I'm asking you to get down there with as many airlifts as you can get your hands on, as well as picks and crowbars and whatever else it takes to pull that decking up, and to get it in there and find that copper vessel as an absolute priority Number One."
"No way," said Michael.
"Then you can forget your financing and you can forget me. You've been stringing me along the whole goddam time!"
"I never once promised that I would smash my way into that wreck like King Kong and drag that demon out of there at the expense of the entire integrity of everything we're trying to do here. Harold---Harold, listen to me. We're historians, you got that? Not scrap merchants. Not salvage engineers. Not antique dealers. I know the pressures. I understand the personal anxiety you've been feeling...."
"You don't understand shit!" Harold yelled at him. "You and Hubert and Emile and all the rest of you down at that museum, you spend all your time up to your asses in dust. Dust, relics, and crumbling old books. Well let me tell you something, there's a real world out here, believe it or not, a world where human values count for a whole lot more than history."
"History is human values," Michael retorted. "That's what history is all about. What do you think we're doing here, except learning about human perspectives? Why do you think we're going to raise this wreck? We want to find out why some of our human ancestors considered it urgent to set sail in the teeth of a terrible storm carrying the mummified remains of an Incan demon. Don't tell me that that isn't all about human values. And don't tell me either that we're going to be doing ourselves or humanity any kind of favor if we tear that wreck apart and destroy the incredible historical evidence that we've found here."
"Well," Harold said more quietly now, "it appears that you historians and I hold diametrically opposed views of what constitutes a favor to humanity and what doesn't. The best thing I can do right now is to sit here, say nothing, and get off this boat just as soon as it gets back to harbor. This is the finish, Michael. I quit."
Winston Smith glanced at Michael, as if he expected Michael to say that he was sorry. But there is nobody less compromising than a temperamental academic, and Michael was no exception. He stripped off his wetsuit, tossed it over to Pauline, and then said, "Let's get back. Suddenly this trip isn't a pleasure anymore."
Hubert came forward, holding a mug of hot coffee with both hands. "What about the finance?" he wanted to know. "What are we going to do without Harold's father-in-law?"413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡGfuhvGsk5v
"We'll manage---all right?" snapped Michael. "I'll go talk to Phil at the Massachusetts High Finance Resource Company. He's been showing some interest in setting up the George Badger as a tourist attraction."413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡzkYZkHYALq
"Well----if you think you can drum up $6 million," said Hubert, uncertainly.413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡLqlSKSQAjY
"I can drum up $6 million, all right?" said Michael. "Now, let's get this boat back to Salem before I say something that I'll liable to regret."413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡATCM9LDGqf
They turned about, and Winston Smith headed them back towards the harbor. None of them spoke, and even Pauline kept her distance. After they had tied up at Pickering Wharf, Harold climbed out of the Thorvid, and at Pauline folding up the Neoprene wetsuits and dusting them with talcum. She didn't even look up, or turn around to wave goodbye.413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ7P6JklIO2k
"Thanks, Hubert," Harold said. "I feel exactly the same way." 413Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡDXzwUTXZLxns 188.8.131.52da2