Part 3, Chapter 16 Summary
Thomas Hudson, Willie, and Peters spy the turtle boat as they round the point of the key. It is close to the shore and covered with vines as a means of camouflage. Willie notes that the skiff is missing, so some of the Germans must be on shore. Thomas Hudson gives the word that they are to board and sink the boat.
Thomas Hudson brings the dinghy alongside the boat without a sound, and the three men climb on board. The hatch is open and covered with branches. No one is on deck. Thomas Hudson waves Willie forward past the hatch. He tells Peters to tell them in German to come out with their hands up, which Peters does. No one answers, and nothing happens. At Thomas Hudson’s command, Peters tells them they have ten seconds to come out. If they do so, they will be treated as prisoners of war. Peters then counts to ten. He then places, not throws, a grenade inside the hatch. As the grenade explodes, Thomas Hudson covers the hatch with his submachine gun. Willie throws another grenade into the forward hatch. Thomas Hudson sees the muzzle of a gun come up from between the branches on the hatch where Willie is standing. He fires at the gun, but it fires first. Willie’s grenade explodes. Through the dense smoke, Thomas Hudson sees Willie pull the pin on another grenade and throw that one in as well. He sees that Peters is on his side with his head on the gunwale; blood is running from his head. Willie’s second grenade explodes deeper inside the boat. Thomas Hudson pulls the pin on another grenade and throws it down into the stern. In the explosion, pieces of the deck come flying up.
Willie is by Peters, looking at him. Thomas Hudson comes over to look at him too and understands he is dead. Willie coolly states that they have lost their interpreter. Thomas Hudson notices that the boat is settling fast into the water. Willie points out that it was already aground, but now it is just sliding over to the side. Willie states that they are even with the Germans—one killed on each side—and at least they sank the boat. Thomas Hudson tells him to go back to the cruiser and bring Ara and Henry and also to have Antonio bring her abreast of the turtle boat as soon as the tide loosens it from the mud. Willie says he will be the one to check below. He offers to get some kind of rag to put on Peters’s face. Thomas Hudson asks after the condition of the German. Willie says he is a mess.