Many people of various nationalities wait in the heat of Veracruz, Mexico, on August 22, 1931, to board the North German Lloyd S.A. Vera, scheduled to arrive at Bremerhaven, Germany, on September 17. Some have urgent errands to perform before embarkation, while others simply kill the time. An elderly professor and his wife, the Huttens, share their lunch with their fat bulldog; a shrill, obnoxious young woman, Lizzi Spkenkieker, strides about with a little pig-snouted man, Siegfred Rieber; a solitary Swede, Arne Hansen, expresses indignation over the behavior of Mexican revolutionaries; a German couple, the Baumgartners, hush their young son, dressed in a hot leather riding costume; an American girl in slacks, Jenny Brown, strolls aimlessly with her boyfriend, David Scott; four pretty Spanish girls with their young men, a small zarzuela company, prowl through the streets and shops with disobedient six-year-old twins, Ric and Rac; a middle-aged American woman, Mrs. Treadwell, incredulously considers a painful bruise on her arm, inflicted in the street by a beggarwoman.
Aboard the Vera Dr. Schumann, the ship’s elderly physician, watches passengers mount the gangplank: a hunchbacked dwarf, Herr Glocken, who sold his newsstand in Mexico City; a dying old man in a wheelchair, Herr Graf, pushed by his young nephew, Johann; a young Mexican woman with her baby and their Indian nurse; two Mexican priests; a Texan youth, William Denny, who continually leers at the Spanish girls; a German Jew, Herr Löwenthal, lugging a sample case containing Catholic religious articles; and a beautiful bride and groom on their honeymoon. When the combined freighter-and-passenger ship sets sail, the passengers examine the facilities and settle into their cramped cabins. Dinner at the captain’s table that evening, presided over by Dr. Schumann, is served to a select German group, which includes the Huttens, Lizzi and...
(The entire section is 792 words.)