Part 3, Chapter 21 Summary
Thomas Hudson hears the noise of a grenade exploding behind the ridge on the key, and then all is quiet. He tells Gil he will take the cruiser through as soon as he sees the dinghy. Antonio appears beside him and tells him to lie down. Thomas Hudson agrees and lets Antonio take over the wheel. He lies down on the deck. He says that he believes it is better if he does not move much. Soon Antonio tells him that the men on shore are waving them in. When Thomas Hudson tells Antonio to anchor the boat as soon as they are out of the channel, Antonio tells him not to talk. Henry comes up and takes the wheel, guiding the boat out into the open water.
Henry tells Thomas Hudson not to talk and expresses his hope that it does not hurt too much. Thomas Hudson says that it hurts, but not too badly. Willie arrives and also tells Thomas Hudson not to talk. He tells him there were four Germans in the mangroves with the guide. Ara is crying because he killed the German that Thomas Hudson wanted to keep as a prisoner. Thomas Hudson tells him that he needs to go back and detrap the turtle boat. Ara tells him that they are doing so right away and that they will check the other place they think some Germans might be. He asks Thomas Hudson how he is. Thomas Hudson tells him that it is pretty bad, so Ara tells him not to move.
Although the men are not gone long, it seems like ages to Thomas Hudson. He notices that the wind is not as strong as it was the day before. He refuses morphine because the thinks he might still have to think. Gil watches over him, noticing how gray his face is becoming. Thomas Hudson tells him he should have been a baseball pitcher with how well he was throwing grenades that day.
Thomas Hudson notices they are heading back to the larger islands, probably to find a surgeon. He regrets that Ara shot his potential prisoner because now they really have nothing to show for their efforts. He thinks about painting again after the war is over. He realizes that his life is over, ruined by the Germans’ massacre on the island. The dinghy returns, and they head toward the Central, where there is a doctor. Willie tells him they successfully detrapped the boat. Thomas Hudson feels the cruiser gathering speed. There are no problems now. He sees the sky that he always loved to paint. Willie tells him to try to understand how he loves him and does not want him to die. Thomas Hudson assures Willie that he understands, but Willie tells him that he never understands anybody who loves him.