George Dibbern: His Life and Quest
Adventurer ~ Sailor-Philosoper ~ Free Thinker ~ Self-declared Citizen of the World
QUEST: SAMPLE CHAPTER
While we are waiting for the wind to blow from the right quarter, we are visited on board by officers and sailors from the English steamer. They are full of interest, and when they hear we are short of good tea they bring not only tea, but marmalade, pickles, and charts as well, and we have happy hours on the Te Rapunga. Finally we sail away, but not before an interpreter once more tries to put his bill amongst my papers. I refuse to pay with such determination that he, too, despisingly tears it up.
There is nothing finer than sailing a boat in a good breeze. Thirty-two hours later we are in Capri at anchor amongst American and English yachts, and soon there is regular traffic amongst us. We have common friends somewhere in the world, and that is enough for anybody to start with. Trips are made together; we have invitations from shore, and one day the San Luca sails into port, coming from Ischia. How glad are our hearts when we see her coming in. Quickly lines are thrown out, and soon she lies close alongside so that we can row over in a moment whenever we wish. And there it is. If one never parts from good friends there is never the joy of meeting again. There can be no shadow without light—no light without shadow.
Capri is a mad place and always has been. It was already the seat of wild orgies under Nero and even under Tiberius, who, as the saying goes, “fed his favorite fish on his young slave girls when he got tired of them.” Capri lies on a steep hill. Narrow passages full of angles and corners lead up to it from the beach and the little yacht-filled harbor. Tourists are everywhere. Torchlight and singing tremble over the sea from the fishing boats. “O Sole Mio . . . .”
Yes, tell me, my soul, where art thou going? How far, far away one’s journey, the family, the old friends. Far in the past. . . .
Here are moonshine, twilights, lanterns, singing goatherds, and in the little town the usual shops for tourists, cafés, the artists, the wealthy, artificially painted people, dyed hair, eccentric clothing, and many with hollow, burned-out eyes.
Cilette is wise, with a wisdom born out of deep living and the discovery of true values. She speaks Italian, Spanish, German, and English with the same excellence and artistic finesse with which she speaks her own language; her pictures show a depth of soul and feeling of rare quality, and she is a great, understanding friend.
The Te Rapunga waits for new girl guests, the friends of Gypsy who are supposed. to come from Vienna. They will pay to be our passengers, have fourteen days holiday, and do not care where they go. Until they come we are almost daily on the San Luca. Often we have our meals there. Later on, over cups of coffee, Cilette and I talk about all manner of things. I speak to her about Mother Rangi, and she understands, the artist in her sensing perhaps much more than stiff, cold words can convey. We speak of the future, what I intend to do and do not yet know.
“Don’t worry,” Cilette says. “We worry far too much about the future. An artist, when he wants to create a picture, never sits down straight away and does it. For a long time he carries his longing in his heart; his mind is working on it, he visions it. And when he finally does sit down before his paper with his pencil in his hand, it is the hand that starts moving, feeling it’s way across the blank, till suddenly a line is made, another line added; again the pencil moves and searches, till once more a sure line reveals itself. And so slowly and slowly the work grows till suddenly it stands there, created. Then the creation begins to re-create the creator.
“It is out of our actions that we learn. I know you. You have a desire for good. Step by step, friend, you will find your way, and pain . . . . you will love your pain more than your joy, and when somebody takes your pain away from you, you will sit down and cry, ‘Oh, where has my pain gone that I loved so much?’ Nothing has ever been born perfect. A master grows. You will grow too.”
To entertain people one doesn’t know is always a certain risk. How happy are we when we find that Rita and Bertel are so much our kind and fit so well into the boat. The spirit of the Te Rapunga begins to get through at last; slowly she is coming into her own.
Bertel is a doctor, quiet, almost with a sadness in dark eyes; she doesn’t sparkle, she glows warmly; there is an absolute dependability in her, and a comradeship. Rita is gayer, more naïve. Her face is rounder than Bertel’s, with dark blond hair and big soft brown eyes—fairy-tale eyes. We are a happy group of four who now often visit on the San Luca.
And suddenly one evening it is time to set sails. So we up anchor and wave a quick good-by to Cilette in passing. She at first cannot make out what is going on, then quickly takes a few flowers from her table and throws them into our boat as a farewell. We sing, sail into the dusk, and disappear into the night.
As we have a light northerly breeze we are forced to tack, and at dawn next day we pass the Pontine Islands. The morning following we again see land.
“What island is that?” asks Rita.
“Giglio,” says the mate.
We continue to tack and drift when the wind dies down. This time Giglio lies to stern of us. Later on in the day, after the two girls have had a sleep and we are on the other board, sailing towards the island, Rita comes up and asks, “Ho, what’s that?”
“Giglio,” I reply.
“But we were there this morning.”
“Yes, but we have to tack,” I tell her.
In the evening, once more on the other board, Giglio is lying to stern again.
“Oh, there’s land!”
“Giglio,” I say.
“Well, we come from Vienna, but you can’t tell us that every island is Giglio—I’m not stupid!” And she disappears below.
Next morning, half asleep, she looks out of the hatch. We are on the other board this time. “Oh, look, land ahead. Oh, what is it?”
“Giglio,” answers the innocent mate. And wonders why she so suddenly disappears again.
Only later in the day, after we have explained everything, and they understand what tacking means and what being without wind means do we regain her good graces.
At last we reach Portoferraio, on Elba, for which we have sailed, and which was once Napoleon’s prison. Napoleon, condemned by so many, worshiped by so many. What do we know of people? What was really in this man’s heart? What mission did he fulfill? There is little else of interest on the island so we remain only a short time; the longest time is taken in getting my papers back.
The poor sailor who acts as clerk in the harbor office does not quite know how to work the thing with a foreign yacht, and so I have to show him. Unfortunately he puts his stamp where the captain of port should sign, which earns him a terrible bawling out. Then I have to get a stamp for this paper, which can be bought only at the tobacconist’s in town. After I have gone there and come back, which takes me the best part of three-quarters of an hour, it is found that the tax stamp needs another tax stamp, a kind of surcharged stamp, so I have to make another little march and back. After three hours have gone, from eight in the morning till eleven, I receive my papers with the remark:
“Yes, we are orderly now in Italy. Everything is thoroughly organized. We have learned it from Germany. A happy trip!”
Pensively I walk back again. “If two do the same it is not the same,” is an old proverb. Anybody who imitates lays emphasis on the outer form instead of on the spirit, because the outer form is all that he can understand. Germany with her “sport” does this; Italy with her “organization.”
Here a new nation rises, organized, military, regulated; and still it makes me sorry. The colorful, merry, slightly dirty Italian has gone. And still it was precisely this muddle, this careless grubbiness, this display of color, and the dolce far niente—the “sweet do-nothing”—which attracted the people from the north and was so necessary to them. Is this new Italy the real Italy? And if she is not being herself can she be fulfilling her true mission? But perhaps the peoples have to learn as well as the individuals. And there are many ways of erring before one finds oneself—finds what one is meant to do.
We look at the chart and make for Corsica, first to Bastia, then to go further north. Bastia has a pleasant harbor, full of schooners and yachts; along the whole breakwater again and again stands painted: À bas la guerre—”Down’ with the war.” That, seems to be quite a good welcome, but I wonder how long the sentiment will be remembered. Another generation grows up, and then—?
At the other end of the town is the harbor office, whereto I direct my steps. I find my way; I find the house; I find the flat it is in and the room. The door is open, and an open and full money box stands on the table, but no one is to be seen. So I leave the room, careful as I am, and go down below to wait for the harbor master’s return. Down below is a café with only one customer, who is dressed in uniform and wearing a cap which has a kind of bugle emblem. I wonder if he is a postal official. I order a cup of coffee and place myself so that I can see the entrance. Time passes. Nobody comes through the door, but some people sit down with the uniformed one and play dominoes. Finally, when I have drunk so many cups of coffee that I haven’t room for more, I stand up and ask the people at the table if they can tell me when the captain of port will come back again.
“There he is,” they answer, and point to the uniform.
I tell him my desire. “Hah, we’ll fix that up,” he says. So we go upstairs, where he pushes the money box aside, and, looking at my papers, he asks me: “How long do you intend to stop?”
“Two days,” I reply, “perhaps.”
“Well, then I will give you your clearance right away so that I don’t need to inconvenience you again,” he says, and gives me his hand. Bonjour, Monsieur. The French official again!
With a nice offshore breeze we sail north, and that’s what the old girl likes, smooth water, stiff breeze, and full sails. And so, like a good racer, she romps along close to the coast, and our guests enjoy it. Out at sea the landlubber never feels that he is getting anywhere, and if you are bumping up and down he thinks you are making speed; but here close to shore he has something with which to measure his progress. He can look ahead and can see how a cape comes nearer, gets caught and lost again, giving continuous change. One might say that out on the ocean the sailing is more abstract; to enjoy it one needs long sea experience. Now our passengers are thrilled, and as the mate is at the tiller, and Rita thinks it is all due to his ability, he regains the admiration he lost with Giglio.
Maginacio, where we anchor, is a little village right on top of the Corsican head, with a shallow little harbor. This is storm-blown country. We go inland, and amongst blackberries and wild figs find an old ruin of a tower, three stories high, with curved ceilings and a spiral staircase running round the wall, and with a beautiful view—a real pirate’s nest. We bathe amongst the breakers, and eat blackberries, blackberries, blackberries.
Suddenly Rita has a longing to visit an uncle somewhere in Portofino, in Italy. She dares approach the mate, for whom she and Bertel have a terrible respect, and tell him of her heart’s desire. They expect, of course, a lot of noise and growling, but he just says, “Sure,” and they are greatly surprised.
In Portofino, with its harbor full of yachts and its surrounding hills full of white mansions among cypresses, we stay a day to visit Rita’s uncle. Otherwise it is to us a closed world, the key being MONEY.
We sail for Monte Carlo, we have fine weather, and our guests have grown sea legs. They have learned a little about life on board; they like it, and take watches with us, make hot tea, make sandwiches, and try to be useful in any way possible. Still, the galley is yet a kind of chamber of horrors to them—it was the place where they first got seasick—and they are always happy when the mate tells them to “get the hell out of here.” But now, to prove that they are no longer landlubbers, they dare to prepare a full-sized meal.
The mate escapes on deck where we live through terrifying hours. Steam, smoke, beautiful smells, red faces come out of the hatch. Constantly we are prepared for explosions. The big hand of time runs round and the small one follows, on and on, round and round. The sun is well past its zenith when at last, driven to desperation, we humbly ask, “Will it soon be time to come down for our midday meal?”
“Yes, very soon,” we are consoled, so we patiently wait and prepare ourselves for the delights that are in store for us. The boat is as quiet as a house on shore, and the table is beautifully laid, a thing which is never normally done at sea. Just about all the china that we have is used, and in the galley pots, knives, spoons, forks, and cups tower higher and higher. Ham, a beautiful smell, comes into our nostrils, and then suddenly the bell rings a very belated eight bells. We both rush down, and leave the boat to herself.
And then the meal comes, a little bit of something on a big plate. It has a magnificent Viennese name and tastes still better. We smack our lips.
“Fine,” says the mate, “of that stuff you can give me a big dishful,” and he passes his empty plate out again.
“What, have you eaten it already? But you forgot the cucumber salad that goes with it.”
“Never mind,” says the mate, “we’ll eat it with the next course, but don’t be so stingy with the stuff.”
“More?” says Rita. “There is no more.”
“No more?” exclaims the mate. “What do you think? There is not even enough for a bird to make him sing.”
“All right, you will get enough yet.” And she, fully intending to starve herself, pushes her share on to his plate.
“Good Lord,” says the mate. “You’re not a chemist that you need to make everything in little doses and pills.” And so saying he lets this new portion disappear and passes his plate out again. Rita is in complete desperation.
“What’s the matter?” says the mate. “Is this to give us an appetite, or what?” And then, “Never mind, captain, we’ll get enough to eat.” He pushes them aside. “For your bird tummies it may be enough, but not for us—we are real he-men.”
In no time he has a great big meal ready, which, although not so tasty as Rita’s, fills more than a hollow tooth, and as we have eaten the others’ share also, they are glad to get something now for their own hunger.
“That was a blessed meal,” says the mate, and wipes his mouth. “And now the washing-up business starts.” With that he looks at the tremendous mountain of gear in the galley. He never has any gear lying around as he always washes up immediately after he has used anything; on board you cannot leave things about.
“We’ll wash up,” says Rita. Perhaps it is to recover her self-esteem, which the mate has so badly deflated.
“All right,” says the mate. “I will even allow you to take fresh water, to show my appreciation.” And with that we go on deck again.
It starts to breeze on. The old girl gathers speed. Down below is the clatter of dishes.
“Children, don’t make a tower of Babel down below. The sea is rising. Be careful.”
“You mind your own business on deck. We know how to wash up.”
We are quiet. But the wind has more breath, and suddenly the old girl is leaning over. Hell is loose down below. All is broken on the floor, and Rita’s red face and sparkling eyes show that she holds the mate responsible for it. And only when the wind becomes squally and sets in again and again does she realize that he is not to blame.
Monaco is Rita’s end-station. Her days are numbered, and she grows quieter and pensive.
We walk through the town and stand in front of the big casino, counting our few pennies, and toss up to decide whether we should put all on one card and perhaps win a new mainsail. But the people who go inside look disagreeable, so artificial, with painted faces and used-up phantom bodies, that we cannot bear them, coming as we do from the clear blue sea, and having as companions two clean, friendly, natural people. So we go only into the aquarium, and are not disappointed.
The last evening—and our surprise is great—Rita and Bertel present the boat with new, beautiful dark yellow crockery. On the station we stand. It is always hard to part from good friends.
“When will there be a new meeting? You will have to come to Vienna,” says Rita.
“Oh, we’ll be back in two years’ time, perhaps three.” And a sailor really believes what he says.
Ships always come back again. What are three years? For him they are only a few watches, a few storms, a few calms, a few ports with girls, a few sunny days, and a few drinks. When he is with other girls, he thinks of those he left; and why, in distant ports, should he not go with other girls? What benefit is it to those he left if he does not? Or to those he now knows? A sailor is a funny being. . . . .
The train begins to pull out and Rita waves. A quick jump brings me right to her window, and before she knows I have given her a kiss. Taking Bertel’s arm, with the mate on the other side, we go back on board again.
Now we are three, and suddenly we detest Monte Carlo, so we sail on to Nice, but Nice is too big, and the breeze brings us along to San Juan des Pins. We anchor there for our dinner. On we go to Cannes, having in mind to sail slowly on to Marseilles.
This coast may be beautiful if one comes from Berlin, London, or Vienna, and doesn’t know anything better, and if one stays long enough to make some friends it may gain, but if one just rushes through, the whole place is nothing but a fair, each little town a separate stand. Iviza, Corsica, the sea, the sunshine, and the earth—that is something different. The Riviera, its ugly houses, dusty roads, its artificiality, its bluff, its impertinence is nothing for us.
I am ambling one day along the beach promenade of Cannes when my eyes are attracted by something gold. The devil works through the eyes, and he suddenly works on me now. In front of me is a little rabbit who intends to be seen, and I see that she is worth a further glance. In very tight-fitting golden beach pajamas she shows a form as if turned out on a lathe, and nobody knows how to appreciate this as much as a sailor! Her dress is straining at the fastenings; it works like a kind of flash neon light sign. I have to come nearer and investigate, and I see that the apparel, as far as one can tell, is held together by snap fasteners. The little maiden slows her step. I pass and am glad of it, for I wonder how it fastens in the front, or if it is one piece. Astonishing! There are snap fasteners there also. Two halves held together with snap fasteners . . . . nothing underneath . . . . very nice brown skin . . . . and I have never known snap fasteners to hold! Hah, snap fasteners are a genial invention! My eyes strain for a banana skin—orange peel—why haven’t I some? She will slip, I will jump—help her—I can hardly wait for the moment. She passes me again, and I follow the whole promenade. Suddenly she meets someone, thin, ugly, blasé—good God, what a taste. For all I care the snap fasteners can hold for all eternity and three days longer. Besides that, I have lost all faith in snap fasteners.
Just when we are ready to go we realize, by the commotion around us, that something is in progress. Everywhere rockets are laid and barges decorated.
There is one with beautiful glowing mountains, palms, and beach scenes, on which pretty dancers, very, very sparingly clad as mermaids and fairies, are supposed to perform. A towboat comes; the barges are towed out and placed in front of the big hotels and anchored there. Of course we have to stay. Boats with big balloons, disguised as dragons, water snakes, and all other kinds of fantastic beings, are moving to and fro. But the Weather God is a funny being—something must have annoyed him; and Poseidon, the Sea God, already annoyed during Ulysses’ time, has never recuperated. He is here, all at once, with his trident—never have I seen any sea that came up so quickly and so steep and short.
The mountain glow is gone immediately, and the tender mermaids cling like half-drowned rats to the barge, continually sprayed with foam from the raging waves. And when the towboat finally comes to bring all into safety again, the skipper doesn’t seem to know his job. He cuts too close and suddenly the barge is on the one side and the towboat on the other side of the lighthouse, and it looks as if something has to give way. Very likely the lighthouse. The noise of gesticulating people is loud; the girls shiver and freeze. Eventually all comes clear, but that is the end of the fireworks.
The next afternoon under a light breeze we sail out, but soon it starts to blow. We can see the wind-blown waves roll towards us while we float in a dead calm, and ten minutes later we are in a gale. The mate wants to turn and go into port again because he loathes tacking. I want to go on. The mainsail rips and we have to reef.
“You’re completely idiotic,” is the last I hear from the mate.
He disappears and is not seen again, and because I am wild with him I do my best to pound as hard as I can. Bertel sits with me in the cockpit during the night, and a deep comradeship is between us. It is the only bad weather she has had, and she enjoys it as her highest experience.
In spite of it we make St. Tropez the next morning—a little fishing village with a splendid harbor which the Parisian artists try to reserve for themselves. If Cilette were here it would be delightful. She could pilot us into the whole circle, but I am too shy to make any inroads, and I have worries.
The old mainsail has become dangerous because it tears every time we get into a difficult place, and to maneuver without its aid is impossible. Experience leads me to believe that a ketch would have more advantages for us than a sloop. During the whole time of our Mediterranean cruise I have saved a little for a rainy day, and now I calculate and reckon and make an estimate. We still haven’t enough money to make the alterations, but something has to be done.
So next day I spread out the mainsail on shore, and cut from the peak of the gaff perpendicularly down to the main boom. For a long time I have mulled daring thoughts in my head; now they see daylight. In future I will have the mainsail without boom, loose footed. The main boom I will erect as a mizzenmast in the cockpit, and put on to it the part I cut off the mainsail, and so make a ketch out of the boat. Wire I have from Capri, also a few blocks, and the area of canvas will be just about the same. I will put in a bowsprit which will be good for more foresails when afterwards, in the trades, we have breezes from the quarter. The mate looks at me in horror.
“What on earth are you doing? Where will you get the new sail from?”
“If we keep on with the old sail, we’ll never get it. Now we are forced to, and so something will turn up. I haven’t enough money yet, but somehow or other, we’ll get it.”
Bertel thinks that I am right, and she adds a little money to my small savings. She has to leave us, and by now loves the boat, so it is hard for her to go. The stormy night has given her an understanding of what we have gone through, and still will have to face, and she can’t help worrying about us and the boat. I try to quiet her. “You can’t kill weeds, you know, Bertel.”
The last deed of love that she does is to give Antonio a new coat of paint. Then we see the bus steal away our good comrade.
I have found a carpenter, with whose aid we set in the new mizzenmast. Wires have to be spliced. A jib boom is added. Then, as the piece I cut off the mainsail is useless, we are off for Cannes to get two new sails, and Bebe, a new passenger, helps to pay for them. She, too, has come from Vienna. She is a friend of Franzl’s, the daughter of a well-known writer, brown-haired and brown-eyed, eager, independent, with the glow of the outdoors in her cheeks.
St. Tropez is full of events. One day the main restaurant, meeting place of all the artists, burns out.
On another day the whole harbor burns. Somebody taking in gasoline and not watching it has let it run into the sea. A bystander nearly dies of shock when he throws his lighted match into the sea, and it starts to flame up high. Oh, do the people run, and oh, do the yachts try to get out of port as quickly as they can! Three boats catch and are badly charred.
Another day, Bebe falls into the sea. We are moored to the waterfront and Antonio, our dinghy, is used with two lines on bow and stern, as a ferry. Bebe is very independent and generally refuses as unyachtsmanlike all help in going to and from shore. With arms full of goods she comes from the market. She has one leg already in Antonio, one leg still on shore; but Antonio is a fiery Spaniard and cannot wait for her other leg. More and more Bebe’s legs spread. She cannot use her hands, and all of a sudden she disappears. The constant change of her facial expression, the increase in the size of her eyes, have hypnotized me so that I have just stared at her, and so has the mate, with hands in his pockets. Suddenly a snorting, sniffing face reappears, and still hanging on to the goods, she bursts out, “Asses!” whereupon we pull her on board.
Because the sailmaker takes so long with our sails I can undertake nothing. The days slip by without sailing, and without much amusement on shore, so that if Bebe expected the usual Riviera life, she must be disappointed. And I feel sorry.
At last our new sails are ready, and the mate wants to show her Antibes; but when we are halfway there, during the night, the wind changes, and as he hates tacking he simply turns round and runs back again, calling us on deck in the morning just as we moor on the outside pier of St. Tropez. As Bebe does the cooking and the shopping, she immediately goes into town with her little basket to get fresh provisions.
“Funny,” she says, coming back. “Antibes looks exactly like St. Tropez. They must have built these towns to one design. Even the vegetable and fish stands are exactly the same.”
I can’t keep a straight face, and suspecting something, but acting as if she casually has to go on deck, she comes back after a while, saying, “Of course this is St. Tropez. You can’t fool me!”
We try our new rig, it works splendidly. The spin ends with a little excitement in landing. Under full canvas we tack into port, pay off, and then steer for our old place, sailing for it with a following breeze. On shore, all run together, expecting a big smashup. We time everything nicely. Plop! Over drops the stern anchor; down comes the mainsail; away goes the mizzen; down comes the forestaysail. I slacken the stern anchor away gently; the mate stands at the bowsprit; he gives the sign, I hold the boat with the stern anchor; she stops; I belay. The mate steps on shore, makes fast the bowlines, and there we are. “Bonsoir, Messieurs and Mesdames!” We act as if nothing has happened, inwardly very pleased with our successful maneuvers.
Bebe becomes restless, so I propose the Balearics, partly because they are on our way to Gibraltar, and partly because there is a steamer connection from Palma to Marseilles. Soon St. Tropez is lost.
We still hold ourselves close to shore, as the weather promises to develop into a mistral—a nor’west wind. I sail west as long as possible so that I may later run before it, and only when, after midnight, a darling little wave crashes against the deckhouse and I think all the portholes will be smashed do we take the mizzen down and make the mainsail fast, still doing six knots under foresail alone.
Unfortunately Bebe never comes on deck during the night. The sea is magnificent, steep and high, and it is a daring climbing and sliding. The next morning when she does come on deck, most of the beauty and madness of the sea has gone, but she is proud when we tell her that we reckon we have had a wind force of nine during the night.
We anchor behind Cape Formentor in a well-sheltered little cove. Bebe and I intend to have our afternoon tea in this most luxurious of all Balearic hotels, and have dressed accordingly in the best we have. Unfortunately the anticipated view from an old Arabian watchtower, high up on the mountain, tempts us. The climb is fairly easy, the view beyond expectation, but when we descend we are caught by a cloudburst and this, combined with the red soil on to which we now and then fall and roll and slide, gives us a strange appearance. Still, we go into the hotel, not to drink tea now, but to change our money, and, standing in the hall, the guests look upon us as upon visitors from the moon or Mars—but what do we care?
In Pollensa the mate suddenly has to write a letter. It is one of his greatest struggles. For this purpose he has to be alone, utterly alone. So Bebe and I have to go for a walk till he has finished. Then he joins us, and we march into the next little village, Alcudia, with its old Roman walls and gates. Like Taormina, Syracuse, Girgenti, so the Balearic Islands have often changed hands. Everywhere can one find the traces of Roman culture. In Alcudia we go to a tobacco merchant to buy some stamps.
“Non se va!” The proprietress shakes her finger and points at the address of the letter, which is written in pencil, and with that she hands the mate pen and ink. Now the mate has his M.S. in agriculture, so one would at least expect that he could write, but from childhood days on he has fought a stubborn battle against pen and ink. The curses that he spends on writing have only been surpassed by those against calms and tacking. Mistrustingly he looks at the old pointed pen nib.
“Non se va . . . . won’t do,” he says now in return, and tries to explain to the woman that he needs a soft nib.
“Sí, ah,” says the woman, her face all illuminated, and disappears.
“A smart woman!” The mate is very pleased. How easily one can make oneself understood.
It is a long time before she comes back. “I wonder if she is making the pen,” he growls.
“She’ll come soon . . . . mañana.”
Finally she returns, pleased and happy, followed by another woman, the village scribe, who dips the pen into the ink, and carefully traces the mate’s hieroglyphics in ink. Proudly she presents her work of art, but the mate is so dumfounded that he can only sheepishly, half-smilingly, blushingly thank and disappear, without offering to pay for it. We still laugh when we come back on board.
Setting sails, we this time make for the southern part of the island, run into Porto Cristi for luncheon and to fill up our wine reserve. This is the place where one can get the best red wine, the Felanice Rosé, and so cheap is it that the mate wants to fill the whole boat, water tanks and all with it, and when I remonstrate he, greatly annoyed, answers, “It’s as cheap as water. We can boil potatoes in it.”
Our next stop is Cabrera, a little island with three citizens, five dogs, one and a half houses, and ten soldiers, but with a lovely little harbor. We nearly die of shock when we hear yodeling on shore, which later proves to be a Spanish soldier who has visited his uncle in the Bavarian Alps.
Palma is my secret desire. I have not forgotten the fruit stand and the woman, and my promise of “mañana,” but the mate seems to be wise to it. “Nothing doing,” he says. “Mañana. As the League of Nations is not impartial, Germany has got no room in it.”
I sigh and think of Ulysses, whom his companions tied to the mast that he might see and hear the sirens but could not go to meet them. How often man has to renounce all the good things of life! And so we sail for Iviza.