Part 3, Chapter 15 Summary
The cruiser has run aground in a place where there should have been an identifying stake. The men hope the wind will rise and push them against the flood of the outgoing tide. They arrange the anchors to get the best possible leverage. If the wind blows until the middle of the night, they might be able to break out of the mud and find a place in the bay.
Thomas Hudson feels reprieved now that they are stuck—it is like the reprieve felt after suffering a wound. The reprieve is only temporary and soon he will have to take up the search once again. Ara consoles him with the idea that the Germans might be just around the corner. Thomas Hudson tells him to see that the men are fed and cheerful. Afterward, he, Willie, and Peters will go in and check the key. As the men eat, Thomas Hudson searches the key with the glasses but sees nothing. He is happy to be alone on the bridge. He remembers shooting birds when he was a boy. He could not kill them now. He sweeps the horizon with the glasses once more but again sees nothing. He thinks it would be nice if someone else caught the Germans because he knows he will have to fight them if he catches up to them.
Feeling tired of thinking as he assumes the Germans think, Thomas Hudson is grateful for duty since young Tom died. It gives him a sense of purpose that painting does not. Ara comes up on deck to see if he wants to eat, but he is not hungry. He watches the flamingos flying low over the water. He sees them swing sharply to the right instead of flying across to the key. To him this is a warning signal. He calls to Ara and tells him to check on the submachine guns. Willie comes up and also notices the flamingos. Willie volunteers to go check out the situation with Peters. With Thomas Hudson, these men will use the dinghy to investigate. The three of them will come alongside the turtle boat and board at the same time. If they are below decks, Peters will call out to them in German to come out with their hands up. If they do not come out, Willie will throw in a grenade. Willie wants to know if they will be doing all this in daylight. Thomas Hudson replies that they are making their move now.