The Pagan Madonna (Chapter 3, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 3

Outside the bar where the Whangpoo empties into the Yang-tse lay the
thousand-ton yacht Wanderer II, out of New York. She was a sea whippet,
and prior to the war her bowsprit had nosed into all the famed harbours of
the seven seas. For nearly three years she had been in the auxiliary fleet
of the United States Navy. She was still in war paint, owner's choice, but
all naval markings had been obliterated. Her deck was flush. The house,
pierced by the main companionway, was divided into three sections--a small
lounging room, a wireless room, and the captain's cabin, over which stood
the bridge and chart house. The single funnel rose between the captain's
cabin and the wireless room, and had the rakish tilt of the racer.
Wanderer II could upon occasion hit it up round twenty-one knots, for
all her fifteen years. There was plenty of deck room fore and aft.

The crew's quarters were up in the forepeak. A passage-way divided the
cook's galley and the dry stores, then came the dining salon. The main
salon, with a fine library, came next. The port side of this salon was
cut off into the owner's cabin. The main companionway dropped into the
salon, a passage each side giving into the guest cabins. But rarely these
days were there any guests on Wanderer II.

The rain slashed her deck, drummed on the boat canvas, and blurred the
ports. The deck house shed webby sheets of water, now to port, now to
starboard. The ladder was down, and a reflector over the platform
advertised the fact that either the owner had gone into Shanghai or was
expecting a visitor.

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