The Little Lust-Cutter

Just ahead of tonight’s audio adventure a reminder that for The Mark Steyn Club’s second birthday we relaunched our Tales for Our Time home page in Netflix tile style, with tales organized by category – thrillers, fantasy, romance, etc – which we hope will make it easier for you to find your favorite story. If it doesn’t, please let us know. But you can access nearly thirty of our crackin’ yarns here, and all previous episodes of our current adventure, The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, here.

I’m especially enjoying the correspondence on this tale. Saturday’s picture-caption reference to “the wily Bosch” prompted London Steyn Club member Simon Croft to chastise our spelling:

As in “the wily Boches”; as compared with the Bosch fifth column in the Croft household which, though cunningly disguised as a washing machine, requires me to sit with my foot jammed against its door during use so as to prevent copious leakage.

Well, I see some dictionaries do give “Bosch” or “Bosche” as alternative spellings, but the word is French in origin – “Boche”, contraction of “caboche”, as in cabbage or blockhead. So “Boche” it is, as it was the last time it appeared in this space:

There were shouts from the crowd—’Alleman’ and a word ‘Khafiyeh’ constantly repeated. I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but now I know that they were after us because we were Boches and spies. There was no love lost between the Constantinople scum and their new masters. It seemed an ironical end for Peter and me to be done in because we were Boches.

I think the Germans have more widely recognized derogatory nicknames than any other nation: Boche, Hun, Jerry, Kraut and, for US and Canadian troops in the Second World War, Heinie. The lack of any widely circulated insults for, say, the Taliban is one reason why we’ve spent two decades running around Afghanistan and have nothing to show for it: In war, all aspects of national power need to be deployed, including pejorative terms for the enemy.

And with that welcome to Part Eleven of The Riddle of the Sands. In tonight’s episode, Carruthers and Davies discover that someone is asking after the Dulcibella:

Then he paused and muttered ‘Dooltzhibella,’ scratching his head, ‘that was the name. English?’ he asked.

‘Yes.’

‘Little lust-cutter, that is so; there was an inquiry for you.’

‘Whom from..?’

‘It was a lady who inquired,’ whispered the fellow, sniggering. ‘Oh, really,’ I said, beginning to feel highly absurd, but keenly curious. ‘And she inquired about the Dulcibella?’

‘Herrgott! she was difficult to satisfy! Stood over me while I searched the books. “A very little one,” she kept saying, and “Are you sure all the names are here?” I saw her into her kleine Boot, and she rowed away in the rain. No, she left no message. It was dirty weather for a young Fräulein to be out alone in. Ach! she was safe enough, though. To see her crossing the ebb in a chop of tide was a treat.’

‘And the yacht went on down the river? Where was she bound to?’

‘How do I know? Bremen, Wilhelmshaven, Emden—somewhere in the North Sea; too far for you.’

‘I don’t know about that,’ said I, bravely.

‘Ach! you will not follow in that? Are not you bound to Hamburg?’

‘We can change our plans. It seems a pity to have missed them.’

‘Think twice, captain, there are plenty of pretty girls in Hamburg. But you English will do anything. Well, viel Glück!’

Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Eleven of The Riddle of the Sands simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.

In today’s episode Carruthers and Davies are sailing the Dulcibella from Brunsbüttel, where the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal meets the Elbe, into the North Sea and the easternmost edge of the Frisian Islands:

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Please join me right here tomorrow evening for another episode of The Riddle of the Sands.