The cooperative Mr. Patterson of the Salem Salvage Company turned out to be a short, broad-shouldered, Slavic-looking man with shaggy gray eyebrows and a vocabulary that consisted (mainly) of "C'd " and "Likely so," two forms of noncommittal agreement that after one hour of sailing Harold began to find extremely irksome and frustrating. He helped Tyee to load the dynamite boxes on to the deck of his diving-boat, a greasy 90-foot lugger; then he started up the diesels, and they left the quayside without any delay.364Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡzJXjxC303n
It was a chilly morning, but the sea was calm, and Harold was confident that he would be able to cope with the diving conditions. He wasn't at all sure about the dynamite, but he kept telling himself that it was all for Nancy; and that if he played his part in this carefully and wisely, he would soon have her restored to him. It was an extraordinary thought, but if Supay kept his promise, it was possible that he might even have her back by tonight.
Tyee touched his shoulder, and beckoned him back to the lugger's afterdeck, where their diving-gear was all laid out. A young girl with short-cropped blonde hair and a smudge of oil on her nose was checking the regulator valves on the oxygen cylinders. She wore identical denim overalls to Mr. Patterson, and her eyes were the same sharp blue, and from her stocky, busty build Harold took her to be Mr. Patterson's daughter. She said, "Hi," and looked at the pair skeptically, a gray-haired Indian of anything between 60 and 300 years old; and a nervous antique dealer in a dark blue business coat.
"You guys want to get ready?" she asked. "I'm Piper Patterson. Either of you guys ever dive before?"
"Of course," Harold told her, trying to be sharp.
"I just asked," she said, and tossed him a neoprene wetsuit. It wasn't like the snow-white wetsuit that Michael and Hubert had lent him: it was gray and smelly, like a discarded seal-skin, and its wrinkles were clogged with wet talcum powder. The oxygen cylinders, too, were battered and well-worn, as if they had been used to beat off marauding sharks. Harold guessed he'd have to remember that Patterson was a professional salvage diver, not one of those weekend tyros.
Tyee said, "If you wish, you can change your mind. It is not good to dive if you are full of fear. Mr. Knight will understand."
"I look that frightened to you?" Harold asked him.
"I would choose the word 'apprehensive,'" said Tyee, with the hint of an ironic smile.
"You must try a career in diplomacy," Harold quipped, trying to fight down his unease.
When Winston Smith had piloted them out to the George Badger, he fiddled around for almost five minutes, positioning the Thorvid over the site of the wreck. But Mr. Patterson, with his deeply-bitten pipe clenched between his teeth, and his oily cap pulled well down over his eyes, swung his lugger around as if it were a Harley-Davidson, right on the datum point, and lowered his anchor so accurately that when they dived they found it caught between the George Badger 's upright fashion-pieces.
Now Patterson came back to the afterdeck, and started up the 1-ton Atlas Copco compressor. This huge machine rattled and coughed and sent up blurts of black smoke, but Patterson assured it was the best in the business. It would release a jet of compressed air down a 100-foot hose, and this would hopefully excavate a trench alongside the sunken hull of the George Badger large enough and deep enough for their dynamite.
Harold was shocked that Patterson asked no questions about what they were doing, or why, but presumably Tyee had paid him to keep his curiosity to himself. Piper sat on the lugger's rail, chewing a huge mouthful of Bazooka Joe, and staring at the distant horizon as if the whole business were too boring for words.
At a few minutes after 9:00, Tyee and Harold rolled backwards off the lugger's side, and started their dives. Luckily, the water in the harbor was unusually clear, and it only took a few minutes for them to descend to the bottom. They quickly located the wreck, and Tyee tugged on the slot-line to tell Patterson to feed them with compressed air.
Harold looked at Tyee through his blinkered face-mask. Physically, he was remarkably muscular, and in his westsuit he looked as if he had been chiseled out of solid granite. It was his eyes that interested Harold the most, though. Framed in his oval face-mask, they looked serious and reflective, as if life's pageant had passed him so many times that nothing could surprise him anymore; as if he were quite ready for death, whenever it eventually came. Harold wondered whether old man Knight had been pulling his leg when he had told him that Tyee had been at Summerworth over 100 years ago; Harold knew that some families gave their servants "below-stairs" names, so that butler after butler was called James, no matter what they had really been christened. The Tyee who had given piggybacks to Colin Knight's father had likely been this Tyee's father.
The compressed air spurted out of the 6-inch hose with a sudden wham, and for a moment Harold almost lost his grip on it. There was a compensator on the hose that prevented any diver who was using it from being jet-propelled all around the sea-bed; but all the same it felt as if it had a life all its own, and after two or three minutes of blasting away at the silt on the bottom of the sea, his arms were aching and his back felt as if he had played The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
They worked almost in the dark, because of the dense clouds of silt which the airhose blew up all around them. On their second dive, they would use an airlift, which would clear most of the silt away, but on this dive Tyee had to break through the consolidated layer of silt and "anchorage gash"----that assorted refuse wherever boats or moored. To break through, Tyee used a long metal rod with a sharpened end, and once Harold had blown away the initial mud, he began to hack at the grit with relentless energy.
They were surrounded by whirling debris: shell, mud, startled hermit-crabs, slipper limpets, clams, and grotesque sponges. Harold felt as if their underwater world had gone mad, an Alice-in-Wonderland turmoil of shellfish, silt, and bobbing 7-Up bottles. But after ten minutes' work, Tyee gripped his arm and squeezed it twice, which was their pre-arranged signal that the first dive was over. Tyee thrust his iron rod into the hold he had made, and marked it with a bright orange flag. Then he finned slowly up to the surface, followed by Harold.
"How's it going?" asked Patterson, helping them on board. "You're kicking up enough mud down there." He pointed to the surface of the bay, where a wide muddy stain was already spreading above the wreck.
"We're through to the lower layer of silt," said Tyee, impassively, as Piper helped him out of his oxygen-cylinders. "We should be able to start work with the airlift now."
"Anybody asked you what we were up to?" said Harold.
Patterson shrugged. "Two fishermen came past and asked if I knew where they could sink their lines for the best flounder. So I sent them out to Strawberry Point."
"They won't catch much flounder there," said Tyee.
"That's the idea," said Patterson.
They rested for fifteen minutes or so, and then Piper kitted them up with fresh oxygen cylinders and they prepared to go down again. It was almost 9:40 now, and Harold was anxious to complete the dive as soon as humanly possible. He didn't want the coastguard prowling around; nor did he want Michael or Hubert or Winston Smith to notice that Patterson's lugger was anchored right over the wreck of the George Badger. For all he knew, they might be planning to dive on the wreck this morning, to put down markers before they registered it.
For a further 30 minutes, Tyee and Harold toiled away on the bottom of the sea, blowing away the silt from the side of the George Badger's hull. At last, they saw dark encrusted timbers, and Tyeee made the "okay" sign to indicate that they were making good progress. With only three or four minutes of oxygen left, they completed a twenty-foot-deep scour-pit into the soft silt beside the hull., which Tyee marked with his flag. Then he made the thumb's-up sign for "surface."
Harold turned around, giving a first strong kick of his fins, and to his horror he became entangled in something like wet white sheeting. He struggled and kicked against it, and as he did so he felt the soft bumping of swollen flesh inside it. It was the floating corpse of Mrs. Lennox, which had somehow been drawn towards the wreck of the George Badger, either by the tidal stream, or by the air-suction work they had been doing on it, or by some other inexplicable magnetism.
Don't panic: Harold told himself. And he tried to remember what Winston Smith had told him in his three lessons at Forrest River Park. He reached for his knife, tugged it out, and tried to cut the floating wet shroud away from him. His blood thundered in his ears, and his breathing sounded like a runaway locomotive. He ripped through linen, cut through seams, but the fabric seemed to billow all around him and entangle him even more.
In total fright, he felt the corpse bump against him again, and its arms somehow wrap themselves around his legs, making it impossible for him to kick himself to the surface. At the same moment, with a squeaky sigh, his oxygen ran out, and he realized he had less than two minutes to make it up to the surface before he suffocated.
Thrashing, panicking, he began to sink slowly to the sea-bed, the corpse embracing him like a long-lost lover. Was this what Supay wanted after all? Harold thought to himself. Did he just want him, and him alone, because his unborn son had cheated him of the chance to feast on his heart? He sucked desperately at his mouthpiece, but his oxygen was totally exhausted, and his lungs began to feel as if they were going to collapse from lack of air.
It was then that the corpse shuddered, and suddenly whirled away. The shroud was dragged off Harold, thereby liberating his arms and legs. His face-mask clear, he saw Tyee rolling away from him in the murky water, brandishing his iron shaft. On the end of it, deeply impaled, was the blue-skinned, half-rotted body of Mrs. Lennox, chunks of flesh flaking off her like rotting halibut. Tyee gave her one final twist, and then sent her sinking slowly down to the bottom, the shaft still sticking out of her bare-ribbed chest. He swam back a little way, seized Harold's arm, and urgently pointed upwards. Harold nodded. He didn't have to be told twice. He was almost blacking out from oxygen starvation.
Back on the lugger, shaken as they were, they said nothing to Patterson or his daughter about what they had seen. Piper made them each a cup of hot black coffee, and they rested for another fifteen minutes while Patterson readied the dynamite. Each of the two crates was heavily weighted so that it would sink directly to the bottom; and then, once they had maneuvered it into position, it would sink just as fast into their 20-foot hole.
"Think the weather's going to hold?" Harold asked Patterson, finishing his coffee."
"C'd," he remarked.
As he shouldered his next two oxygen tanks, he thought briefly of Anne Putnam: the witch who had sacrificed herself so that he would not feel obliged to let Supay go free. Well, he thought to himself, he still didn't have to make a final decision, not until the copper vessel had been brought ashore; and even then he'd have time to think it over. He believed what old man Knight had told him, about the malevolent power that Supay could wreak; but he was still strongly tempted to let the Devil-In-gold go free, and recover the wife and son-to-be whom I so dearly loved.
Yet how much was Harold kidding himself? He had already accepted Nancy's death more than he would have thought possible. What was making love to Pauline but an acceptance that he would never be making love to Nancy again? More than that: what kind of relationship was he going to be able to have with Nancy, once and if she was brought back to life? What do you say to someone who's been dead and buried?
Harold was still thinking about that when Tyee gripped his arm, and said, "Time to go, Mr. Winstanley. Second-to-final dive."
Planting the dynamite proved to be the easiest job of all. All they had to do was tumble it end over end until it was perched on the brink of the hole they had excavated, connect the fuses, and let it sink slowly down. When both cases had vanished into the darkness, Tyee and Harold packed as much grit and shell and debris as they could into the hole, to make sure that the full force of the explosion would be directed towards the hull of the George Badger. As they swam back to the surface, paying out fuse from a small reel, Harold thought of Michael, and what he would have said had he known what they were doing. Harold actually felt sorry for him. In a minute or so, they would be shattering the dream of his life.
And when they broke the surface of the water, and started to splash their way back towards Patterson's lugger, what should appear around the bow of the lugger but the Thorvid, with Michael, Hubert and Emile standing on the foredeck, and Winston Smith at the wheel.
Tyee glanced at Harold, and he made a rotating action with his hand to indicate that the muscular Indian should continue paying out the fuse. They reached the lugger and heaved themselves up the side. Piper and Patterson helped them onto the foredeck, and for a moment they lay there like two beached sea lions, gasping for breath; but it was obvious that Michael wasn't going to give either man any rest. He beckoned Winston to guide the Thorvid right in close to Patterson's lugger, and cupped his hands around his mouth."
"Mr. Patterson!" he shouted. "Harold! What's going on here? What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"Showing Tyee the George Badger, that's all," Harold shouted back.
"In a salvage boat? And what's all that waterjet and airlift gear doing on deck?"
"Mind your own damn business!" Harold yelled at him. "This wreck doesn't belong to anybody. It's unregistered. If we want to do a little excavation of our own, that's up to us."
"The George Badger is registered now," Michael shouted. "I just registered her this morning. Pauline called me up from Tewksbury and said that you'd gone off early with a whole lot of equipment."
Thanks, Pauline, Harold thought to himself. Judas Iscariot in linen and lace.
"Well, registered or not, we were here before and have a perfect right to say," Harold told Michael.
"Bullshit!" Michael retorted at the top of his lungs. "I'll call the coastguard and have you moved away! I mean it! This wreck is private property now, and part-owned by the city Salem. Any vessel suspected of carrying out diving or unauthorized salvage anywhere in the vicinity is liable to be impounded, and the owners find. So get the hell outta here!"
"Michael," Harold said, "I thought you and I were friends."
"You were wrong," said Michael. And without saying another word, he turned away, and directed Winston Smith to turn the Thorvid about.
"Tyee," Harold said, without moving. "Light the fuse, Mr. Patterson, start your engines and get us the hell out of here."
Tyee said, "You will not warn your colleagues?"
"My ex-colleagues you mean? Sure, I'll warn them. But get that damn fuse lit first."
Tyee struck a match, cupped his hands over the fuse's end, and held the flame against the fabric until the explosive core of the fuse ignited. It was a fast-burning fuse, 120 cm per minute, and it quickly sparkled over the side of the lugger and vanished under the surface of the sea. There was a light cloud of smoke, and a rush of bubbles, and then it was gone.
Patterson gunned the lugger's engines, and it was then that he yelled out to Michael: "Get going! Move! Fast as you can! Explosives!"
Harold saw Michael, Hubert, and Emile stare across at him, startled. They looked at one another in amazement, and then they looked back to Harold.
Michael shouted: "What did you say? Explosives?"
"Going off now!" Harold screamed at him, as the lugger heeled off towards the Ol' Spithead shore. "Get out of there, quick!"
There was a moment's silence; then the Thorvid's engine blared into life, and the little boat began to move away, slowly at first, but quickly building up seed. It had only traveled about fifty yards, however, when there was an odd shaking in the ocean, a sensation quite unlike any Harold had felt before. It was like an earthquake, only more vertiginous, as if the world were falling into separate pieces, as if sky were becoming detached from ocean, and ocean were becoming detached from land. Harold felt as if they were all going to fly weightless into the air, boats, compressors, flags, diving-suits, everything.
Then, the surface of the sea burst apart. With a thunderous roar, an immense column of solid water rose into the air. A shockwave pressed against Harold's ears, suppressing the clatter of tones of seawater as it fell back into the sea, but his ears cleared again in time to hear the echo coming back from the Ol' Spithead Hills, as clear as a cannon-shot.
The deck of the lugger angled and buckled beneath their feet, and they had to cling to the rails to steady themselves. But the Thorvid, which was much nearer the center of the blast, was swamped, first by falling water, and then by a miniature tidal-wave, which broke over her stern and must have gushed into her open hatches unchecked.
Michael didn't seek their help. He must have been too shocked and angry. Instead, Harold could see him helping the others to bail out, while Winston Smith gently nursed the stuttering engine, and steered the Thorvid back towards Salem Harbor. There weren't even any recrimination shouts, or threats to call the coastguard; but Harold knew that Michael would promptly report their trespass to the coastguard and the Salem police, and that they would be lucky to get back to shore without being arrested.
"What do we do now?" asked Patterson. "The minute that asshole gets back into the harbor, the cops are going to be swarming around us like sharks."
"We must still salvage the copper vessel," Tyee insisted. "Disregard the police. The copper vessel is more important."
"Will your precious Mr. Knight guarantee to bail me out of jail?" Patterson snapped.
"Never fear. Mr. Knight will guarantee your complete immunity from prosecution," said Tyee, and the way he looked at Patterson, there wasn't any way that Patterson was going to argue. Patterson was tough, but Tyee was imperious, his expression as stony as the side of a building.
Patterson and his daughter began to unpack the salvage floats which were stowed around the sides of the afterdeck. There were twenty of these, and the idea was to attach them to the copper vessel, once they had located it, and then inflate them with compressed air, so that the copper vessel would rise to the surface and could then be towed into the harbor like a raft.
By now, the ocean all around them was bubbling and boiling with rising silt and surfacing debris. There were scores of dead fish, floating white-belly upwards, flounder and debs, mostly, and a few bluefish. There were blackened elm timbers, carlings and deck supports and broken staves, presumably from the ship's supply-barrels, and fragments of masts and rigging-blocks.
"You're not going to dive into the middle of that," said Patterson, looking down into the disturbed surface of the sea. "Give it a half-hour to clear up, first. Otherwise you'll never find each other, let alone a copper trunk."
"Half an hour may be too long," said Tyee, narrowing his eyes towards the shore. "The coastguard could be here by then."
"Look," said Patterson. "I don't mind taking risks. I don't even mind a run-in with the coastguard. I'm used to all that. But I ain't taking any responsibility for you and your pal diving into an ocean that's thick with dangerous debris. Just forget it!"
"We assume our own responsibility," said Tyee.
"Maybe you can," Patterson retorted, "but you can't dive without oxygen, and you ain't diving with any of mine."
Tyee stared at Patterson with such intense disapproval that Patterson had to chew his pipe, and look away. "I'm sorry," he said. "But if you dive into that mess, anything could happen."
They watched for another five minutes as more and more fragments of broken wood rose to the surface. Soon the whole area around Patterson's lugger was cluttered with thousands of pieces of dark timber, the remains of one of the most historical finds in recent history. It looked as if the dynamite had totally shattered the fragile wreck of the George Badger into splinters. To piece it all together again out of that floating collection of firewood would be impossible. But Harold felt no guilt. He knew that what he'd done was necessary; and that sometimes human life has to come before human culture.
From Salem Harbor, they suddenly heard the distant whoop of a police-boat siren, and saw its flashing red-and-white lights. Tyee seized Patterson's arm, and said, "Now we must dive."
"Hell no!" protested Patterson. "It's too goddamn risky down there."
Tyee stared at Patterson with wide-open eyes. Patterson tried to look somewhere else, but Tyee stared and stared, the muscles flinching in his cheeks, and Patterson stared back at him, with an expression on his face of growing horror, like a man who realizes that his car is out of control and that he's inevitably going to crash.364Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡkEbnQabWOS
"I...." gasped Patterson, but then his nose suddenly started bleeding, and he fell to his knees on the deck. Piper knelt down beside him, and gave him an oily cloth to mop up the blood, but even though she gave Tyee a frown of disapproval, she didn't attempt to say anything to him. Harold didn't think he would have, either, after a hypnotic performance like that.364Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡrxISPCJWLL
"Now we must dive," Tyee repeated.
But he was wrong. For, even while the police-boat siren grew clearer across the water, something rose to the surface amongst the bobbing raft of shattered timbers. Piper saw it first, and stood up, and said, "Look---look, Mr. Tyee."364Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡH0VUa8N6x3
They all approached the stern, and stared out at the waters of the bay. Not thirty yards away, wallowing in the waves, was a huge green casket, and long as broad as a railroad car, but coffin-shaped, with a crucifix marked on top of it in corroded relief.
Tyee regarded it with a face like ivory. Harold felt his own blood draining through him; and his heart beating in slow, irregular bumps.
Patterson said, "That's it? That's what you've been trying to find? That thing?"364Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡIa9LGd8UNM
And Tyee nodded, and made a sign that Harold did not understand, an Indian sign that looked like a blessing, or a sign to ward off evil spirits.
"It is Supay, the Devil-in-Gold, known to the Romans as Supaticus," he said. And Harold watched in growing apprehension as the casket dipped and yawed in the waves, silent and strange, a vessel from a long-dead century, a relic of an antique malevolence which none of them knew if they could even begin to control.ns 22.214.171.124da2