Part 3, Chapter 10 Summary
Thomas Hudson, Ara, and Willie pilot the dinghy toward the key’s shore. They carry with them submachine guns, which they have dubbed “the little children.” When they land, the men spread out to search the island. Willie asks if he may shoot any Krauts he finds, but Thomas Hudson tells him to leave at least one alive.
Thomas Hudson enjoys being on land again but is spooked by the eerie calm that comes before the inevitable storm, which is fast approaching, as he can see from the accumulating clouds. He does not believe there is anything on the island, but it must still be searched carefully. He berates himself for not knowing more about the Germans they are following, for not searching the hut or examining the tracks. He questioned Willie and Ara, who are good, but he should have gone himself. He knows it is his duty to get the Germans, but he has a “fellow death house feeling” about them. He does not hate them but knows they must be killed.
Thomas Hudson notices no tracks except those of a sea turtle that had come ashore to lay her eggs. He wishes to dig for the eggs, but he notices the clouds becoming ever darker. He sees nothing else but heron on land and schools of fish in the water. He walks faster to see where Ara left the dinghy. He would like to lie down and take a rest but decides to wait and sleep that night on the flying bridge. He feels that he almost has a relationship with that deck, almost as if it is a woman by whom he must do right.
Focusing on the beach, Thomas Hudson thinks he could have just as well sent someone else in his place. He cannot keep from thinking of things other than the beach. He hopes that Willie or Ara has found something because this is the most likely place that the Germans would have come. He climbs into the dinghy and starts off in search of Willie and Ara. He sees Willie by some mangrove trees. Then he sees a mast sticking up past the mangroves and Ara lying behind a small sand dune, spying over the top. He brings the dinghy close and Ara climbs in. Ara tells Thomas Hudson that the boat is definitely German, but it is abandoned. Otherwise he saw nothing. They spot Willie and pick him up. Willie tells them that he spotted a latrine used by the Germans; he speculates there might have been up to eight of them. He thinks they picked up a fisherman as a guide. They also have one wounded man with them. It begins to rain as the squall moves in, which makes it difficult for them to spot the cruiser. On board, they strip and bathe in the rain.