It was almost dawn before all parties went to bed and slept until lunchtime all rising like a pack of ancient walrus’s coughing and scratching parts of their bodies that seem to shock some of the guests at Amazing and Graceful. One captain said to Ben......’Hey Benno thank you for giving us all a room for the night and you can be assured that we will tell the town and its ‘out-of-townies’ all about your hotel and exquisite staff members.’ He then cast a wink over at Agnes at the front desk that could care less for the advances of the old barnacle and attended to her register and day’s events. Ben was stiff and sore and slept longer than everyone else did after all the diving, cutting, hugging and shaking of hands that were used to cracking open shellfish rather than shaking hands with a land person.
Ben did some quick calculations in his head about what time it was in Australia and once he was dressed he sent lengthy messages one after the other to Aubrey as to why he had not answered any of her messages. These would all reach her phone and being so late she would have no time to answer and get back to him until much later. So there was some saving grace and time to check the sub to see if it was okay.
Such a busy day yesterday and so many Merrows wanted to share their good will and thanks to Ben by way of tons of affection with gifts of shells and precious corals, fish and while it was a nice thought, Lanthe produced that same hand again as she bid him farewell and waved it at him as she dived down into the safety of her home. The hotel was full of guests and recovering sea Captains, so now was the time to check the sub.
His air tanks were full again after being on the compressor all night so it was on with the wet suit, goggles and flippers. The wet suit was cold on his skin but warmed enough before he dived into the water. It was as Ben was making his way down to the sub that a very happy D-Mac caught him as the front door closed and he held him up for some much needed conversation.
‘I gotta thank you for saving me boat Benno. It’s all I have...but I must ask you what happened to those two ratbags......’
‘Don’t worry about those two mongrels, they got their own back,’ said Ben in a very quiet voice.
‘What ya mean Benno?’ asked D-Mac rather perplexed.
‘Put it this way D-Mac, you won’t ever be in trouble with them again and Gotcha is still sitting on the bottle with the money in it inside the crab pot.’
‘You’re a miracle worker Benno how can I thank you?’
‘Always check your passenger’s background and history otherwise you’ll end up as crab bait mate.’
‘Ok Ben will do.’
Ben flipped and flapped his way down to the sub with thoughts of climbing the conning tower and exploring the inside of the sub. Everything that was now in plain sight that had not been seen for 60 plus years was rusted and a bit frail to put all his weight on so the hole in the front of the sub would be the best way to go in and have a look around. Ben checked the air valve with a few puffs and hiss he was in the water with a million and one bubbles flashing past his goggles ...and there right on front of him was Lanthe. She pointed her finger to the surface and Ben complied with her request.
Once they had both surfaced and were treading water looking at each other Lanthe spoke to Ben....‘Dear Land Person Ben, last night when I gave you my knife, I gave away my heart and my honour to you as a gift to help my Merrow kin live on, undisturbed at the bottom of the Dx4H as you call it.’ Ben was smiling at her and touched by the sentiment in her words. All the time he was trying not to look at her teeth and remember the hand she waved at him last night.
‘When you gave me back my knife with the blessing of our Queen I was truly touched very deeply by how you continue to amaze my Merrow kin with your heart and your kindness.’ Now Ben was still smiling but felt at any second she was going to show him one of the legs that were taken from Sorehead or Verandah as a token of appreciation for what he did. Ben was nervous.
‘My honour amongst the Merrows has been restored in full now and know that I want you to know I will never forget you as long as you live for doing the things you did for me.’ Now Ben was sure he was going to get an arm, leg or maybe even the head of one of the twins but instead he got what he did not expect at all.
Lanthe hugged him.
He was treading water and he put his arms around her and hugged back.
The connection was unusual and left Ben slightly light headed.
All that he had learned about these mystical creatures was true.
They were magical and could pass on to land people more knowledge and feelings with just an embrace than years of schooling with foolish history and false words. Ben was touched.
He explained to Lanthe that he wanted to look inside the sub to make sure it was safe. By now the water inside the sub would have cleared and if she wanted to watch and help he didn’t mind her staying close to the hole in the front of the sub to lend a hand. Lanthe had to get back down to the Queen but she had ten minutes to spare to watch out for Ben.
It was agreed and Ben replaced his mouth piece and went under the water to the sub. He noticed at once the drag marks along the ledge and the way the sub was resting against the rock wall. It wouldn’t move for ever now. Slowly he approached the hole that was almost two meters across in width and turned on his torch. Lanthe waved her beautiful tail every so often to keep her within arm’s reach of Ben as he began to go inside the sub.
There were rusted metal dials, knobs, handles, gauges and other assorted levers and steering wheels that had rusted beyond repair inside the first 3 meters of the sub but nothing too scary. Ben kept the torch in front of him and was able to see the periscope that was half engaged with skeletal remains attached to it. This must have been the Captain of the vessel who went down with his ship. Apart from his bones it appears that everyone else got out. Ben was thinking that maybe the sub was cruising on the surface or just below it with the periscope up and that was when they hit the mine. It was a small mine and therefore the crew could get out before it sank probably with all its cargo.
Ben swam further into the sub and something caught the light of his torch at the back end of the rusted out Sub. Ben swam a little closer and finally was standing next to a statue made of what could only be gold as Ben swept away the algae from its arms and torso. (This was not necessarily a good idea as now it was making the inside of the sub very cloudy with algae and silt from 60 years of being under the water....and yes I am still here, exciting isn’t it!)
Ben’s torch wasn’t very bright in amongst all the stuff floating around his face but he swept his hand over the face of the statue made of gold and was shocked at who it was that was staring vacuously back into the torch light, Adolf Hitler.
Littered around his feet were gold coins, plates and jewels of every sort imaginable. Ben had struck it rich. Ben turned and looked for the light at the bow of the sub to gain access to the outside and surface again. It wasn’t easy as he had turned the inside into a milkshake of floating debris but he surfaced and was met by the smiling Lanthe who, no sooner he had surfaced, waved at him and was gone into the Dx4H at a great rate of knots.
There were gold and jewels not seen since WW2!
And they were being seen for the first time since that terrible war.
Who knows how much value could be put on a solid gold statue of a leader hated by most of the known world. Who knew, and by all accounts, it would only attract more attention than was needed to Amazing and Graceful ...way more than was required.
It was time for a cup of tea and some shortbreads and a chat with a few people who might have an inkling of what to do ... the Dunmours and especially Zara.