From the bottom of the ladder the Ancaster’s crew were ushered into the main saloon and there was a communal gasp from the trawlermen. The room was palatial. There were leather chesterfield sofas and armchairs bolted to the floor, a full size snooker table in the middle of the room and, in one corner, a grand piano.
“If you could find your way to giving me your parole and that of your men, Kapitän Entwhistle, we will not need to chain you all in the brig.”
The lads all looked pleadingly at Harold.
“Not much hope of us escaping from a submarine. I expect tunnelling would be impractical. While we are aboard, you have my word we will not try anything.”
There was a joint sigh of relief and his crew having rushed the cocktail bar were soon having a sing along round the grand, where young Tate vamped Ilkley Moor Bar T’at.
“You and I need a chat, Kapitän.” Kapitänleutnant von Luckner leaned in conspiratorially, “Do you drink single malt? I have a particularly fine Talisker Storm in my cabin.”
Von Luckner’s ‘cabin’ was a suite of rooms with a desk, daybed, coffee table and lounge chairs in the sitting room and doors leading off to a bedroom and to a shower/toilet. The captains were facing each other across the coffee table sipping at generous tots of Scotch from heavy cut-glass whisky tumblers. The Kapitänleutnant reluctantly opened the conversation.
“I am afraid I must ask you what you are doing here.”
“Just a fishing trip.”
“And you expect me to believe that? What exactly were you dropping off when we caught you? What are you up to?”
Harold thrust forwards, his nose aggressively close to von Luckner’s face.
“Look matey, I don’t give a toss what you believe. We’ll accept your hospitality, ‘cos we don’t have a choice. But you took my vessel in international waters and that’s piracy in any Yorkshireman’s book. If I say I’m fishing then fishing it is and if you don’t like it you can stick it in your bloody gesteckpfeife and smoke it.”
“Do I look like I give a fuck?”
Von Luckner was halfway to his feet, red faced, white knuckles clenched round the arms of his chair…
“Blut und eisen, sie übermütig fischer…”
…when he hesitated and, letting out a long sigh, slumped back into his chair.
“Pax, Kapitän, I have to ask these things, it is expected. You are too few and too far from home for any of it to matter. Let us not spoil this fine whisky or miss the rare opportunity for stimulating conversation. Tell me, have you strong views regarding Kirkegard?”
Entwhistle had read little in his life other than the Racing Times and his dad’s hand written diaries entitled Where to Fish When, 1867-1972.
“Bit skittish last season, but she’s steadier now and could hold her own on the flat.”
Von Luckner took a large swig from his glass.
“And this song of your men, explain to me the meaning of Bar T’at.”