…He was dead as his knees gave way under him and he fell back over the rail of the chair; his feet caught under the lower rail, and he hung head downwards, grotesquely inert. A bright splash on the plate where he had been working showed where the bullet which had passed through him had flattened. There was another widow now in Hamburg.
But no one at all paid any attention at the time to the dead body of Maschinistmaat Zimmer, hanging by his knees, and certainly no one thought at all about his widow. Leading Seaman Brown saw him fall, snicked the bolt of the Mauser out and in, aimed again coolly and rapidly, and fired. The other man on Zimmer’s bo’sun’s chair fell dead even as he looked around to see what had happened to Zimmer; one man in the other chair died as he turned to see whence came the firing; the fourth man crumpled up as, panic-stricken, he sprang toward the Jacob’s ladder to safety.
Brown fired three more shots into groups of men who swarmed to the side of the ship on the upper deck out of curiosity; they took effect and in a few seconds the upper deck was deserted as far as Brown could see. Ziethen swung idly on her anchors, grey and grim, with her big guns peering dumbly forth. At her side, absurdly small, the white corpse of Maschinistmaat Zimmer dangled head downward, and above him lay two white splotches which were the bodies of his mates. The fourth man had fallen into the sea.
It was an apt picture of the simultaneous power and helplessness of modern machinery. On the one hand lay Ziethen, with her ten 6-inch guns and her hundreds of crew and her horsepower reckoned in thousands, and on the other a lad of five foot eight, aged twenty, dominating her and forcing his will upon her…
Brown on Resolution by C. S. Forester—I was struck at first by the incomprehensible title but needed to go no further than the first line to discover Brown was a sailor with a rifle, Resolution was an island in the Galapagos group, and there the German raider Ziethen lies undergoing secret repairs while Brown’s sniping slows them down long enough for the British squadron to arrive and finish the raider off. Forester’s best story, I think. It was filmed in 1935 starring John Mills, called Born for Glory in the US and then retitled Forever England everywhere, then remade twenty years later as Sailor of the King, with Jeffrey Hunter and Michael Rennie.
Oddly, this film had two endings. In the first, Brown dies of exposure as he did in the book, the British navy, having despatched the raider to the bottom, finding him too late, but his mother and father are reunited as his funeral. Then the end scenes start again, only this time mum and dad are there to see their very much alive son decorated. Obviously, the film makers just could handle the real ending. But all versions, under any title, are as terrific as the book.
Myopic was alone—sitting on the bench looking pathetic and hopeless. Letch checked out the surroundings for hidden gangs. Stretch frisked him for weapons. Ivan the Hallinan politely offered to hold his glasses. I rolled up my sleeves and flexed my fists, the way I’d seen them do in movies. He stood, and said. “You ready?” I nodded. And he charged!
He tried to head-butt me in the middle but I backed off, thrust his shoulders away easily and then closed in on him. He immediately put his arms in front of his face, hunched up, and pranced while I began to pummel him. I rained down blows upon him, but soon I began to realise I was having little effect. His defence was airtight. And then the nature of the trap occurred to me—someone had been teaching this hopeless little twerp how to box.
It was the purest defence, the way that the Marquise of Queensbury decreed, done to perfection. It quickly occurred to me that if he knew how to defend so well, he might also know how to throw a punch. I kept up the pressure, pounding away at the top of his head, his flanks, getting in and ripping up-cuts underneath, looking for some way through. I offered little defence myself. The only way to survive was to attack.