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.It cut through the water’s surface cleanly, leaving only a tiny wake to mark its passage.Then it gave another quick dip and retracted again, leaving nothing to indicate that the craft had passed except for the squawk and parting of a group of ducks, bending reeds, and the peculiar sense that something heavy was just out of sight.“They’re doing it,” she breathed.“I’ll take the small engine rower and see about guiding them,” said Wallace Mumler, reaching for a rope that hung off the pier’s side.He drew the rope with several long, hard pulls of his arms, looping it between his hand and his elbow, until a little craft was drawn out from its hiding spot under the gray slats.Two long poles were crossed atop it, and cradled in the boat’s bottom was a trumpet-shaped device approximately the size of a tuba.Mumler jumped down inside the small boat and used the poles to leverage himself across the water in the direction Ganymede had gone.Upon locating it, he used one of the poles to pound two whacks against the hull.Then he dropped the horn into the water, holding it by a rubberized tube that ended in an ear-pad shaped like a bun.He held this pad up to the side of his head and hit the ship again.Then, hearing something he liked, he flashed a thumbs-up signal at the observers on the pier.“They’re good!” he said.It wasn’t the world’s most sophisticated system, and it wouldn’t work very well when the water was deeper, but the short system of knocks and replies served for training purposes.In case of emergency or more complex communication requirements, Morse code would be the signal—performed with a hammer inside the Ganymede, and with one of Mumler’s poles from the surface.While Josephine watched, there was a moment of concern when the ship dug itself into a submerged bank of silt and mud, but with Wallace’s guidance and some crafty maneuvering within the ship itself, Ganymede was extracted and continued its explorations.After an hour of tense examination, the sun was going low and gold in the sky, and Josephine started to relax.Ruthie had joined the party sometime before, arriving late because she’d paused to brew herself a cup of coffee before strolling to the scene.She’d watched the proceedings in silence, since there was little to say and, frankly, little to see.But now she raised the question, “Ma’am, should we head back to the Garden Court tonight?”“I don’t know.I shouldn’t leave Hazel for too long.She handles herself all right when it comes to being in charge, but she doesn’t like doing it.Besides, if anyone notices we’re both gone, it might not look good—and I don’t want anyone looking too close at the house.” She then asked Chester, “Do you think … it’ll be tomorrow night? Or the night after? We have to move this while the admiral is still within range.Last I heard from Edison Brewster, the Valiant will be in the Gulf only until the end of the week.Texas is eyeing it too closely for them to risk staying any longer.”“Is Texas dumb enough to attack something that big?”“They attacked Barataria and were successful.That can only make them cockier than they already are.The airship carrier isn’t a sitting duck, but the longer it leaves its anchors down, the more time Texas has to round up trouble.”Chester nodded unhappily.“I know you’re right, but I don’t like it.We can’t rush this, Josie.”“We can’t take our own sweet time about it, either,” she warned.“It can’t be tonight,” he told her.“You’ve got to be patient.”“Why not tonight?”“Because tonight we have to take her overland.We need to get her into position, to dump her into the river.Then, the night after, we can launch her.There won’t be time to do both, not before sunrise.And moving something that big, it’s dangerous as hell under the best of circumstances.If the sun comes up and catches us, we’ll be found out for sure.”“Damn it all, I hate it when you’re right.How far is it to the river from here?”“If we can get the ship a tad north and west of here, it’ll be maybe five miles.But it won’t be five fast miles, and we’ll be mighty conspicuous as we go.The plan is to haul it over to New Sarpy and stash it in one of the warehouses on Clement Street.”“And it’ll be almost dawn by the time you’re done.”“If we’re lucky,” he said.“Assuming Rick didn’t use up all the luck we’re owed in one lifetime, eh?”Deaderick said, “Nah.I’m sure I left some for this week.We might have to scrape the barrel’s bottom for it, but we’ll make it work.”“Ma’am?” Ruthie asked.Josephine patted at her hand to reassure her.Then, to the men, she said, “Things are under control here, aren’t they?”“As controlled as they’re going to get,” said Honeyfolk [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]