Regarded as one of the best spy stories ever written, this is the classic Secret Service novel. More like fact than fiction, it holds a special place in the affections of spy-novel fans for its richness of technical detail about inshore sailing, its highly sympathetic characters, an unsurpassed narrative style, and a setting and plot that recapture the European political scene on the eve of World War I.Two young Englishmen, Davies and Carruthers, head for the Baltic Sea in the late 1890s for a holiday of sailing and duck-shooting. The mood gradually darkens as Davies discloses his suspicions of espionage in the North Frisian Islands, and Carruthers joins in an investigation that develops into a series of increasingly dangerous intrigues. Norman Donaldson, an expert on detective and suspense fiction, offers an Introduction with details about the author as well as the novel's background and its place in the history of the spy-novel genre.
The story reflects on an earlier time when men and guns crossed easily across frontiers and the most important thing to take on a cruise besides a "prismatic compass" was a pound of your favorite pipe tobacco.
A word about the origin and authorship of this book. In October last (1902), my friend 'Carruthers' visited me in my chambers, and, under a provisional pledge of secrecy, told me frankly the whole of the adventure described in these pages. Till then I had only known as much as the rest of his friends, namely, that he had recently undergone experiences during a yachting cruise with a certain Mr 'Davies' which had left a deep mark on his character and habits. At the end of his narrative- which, from its bearing on studies and speculations of my own, as well as from its intrinsic interest and racy delivery, made a very deep impression on me- he added that the important facts discovered in the course of the cruise had, without a moment's delay, been communicated to the proper authorities, who, after some dignified incredulity, due in part, perhaps, to the pitiful inadequacy of their own secret service, had, he believed, made use of them, to avert a great national danger. I say 'he believed', for though it was beyond question that the danger was averted for the time, it was doubtful whether they had stirred a foot to combat it, the secret discovered being of such a nature that mere suspicion of it on this side was likely to destroy its efficacy. There, however that may be, the matter rested for a while, as, for personal reasons which will be manifest to the reader, he and Mr 'Davies' expressly wished it to rest. But events were driving them to reconsider their decision. These seemed to show that the information wrung with such peril and labour from the German Government, and transmitted so promptly to our own, had had none but the most transitory influence on our policy. Forced to the conclusion that the national security was really being neglected, the two friends now had a mind to make their story public; and it was about this that 'Carruthers' wished for my advice. The great drawback was that an Englishman, bearing an honoured name, was disgracefully implicated, and that unless infinite delicacy were used, innocent persons, and, especially, a young lady, would suffer pain and indignity, if his identity were known. Indeed, troublesome rumours, containing a grain of truth and a mass of falsehood, were already afloat. After weighing both sides of the question, I gave my vote emphatically for publication. The personal drawbacks could, I thought, with tact be neutralized; while, from the public point of view, nothing but good could come from submitting the case to the common sense of the country at large. Publication, there-fore, was agreed upon, and the next point was the form it should take 'Carruthers', with the concurrence of Mr 'Davies', was for a bald exposition of the essential facts, stripped of their warm human envelope. I was strongly against this course, first, because it would aggravate instead of allaying the rumours that were current; secondly, because in such a form the narrative would not carry conviction, and would thus defeat its own end. The persons and the events were indissolubly connected; to evade, abridge, suppress, would be to convey to the reader the idea of a concocted hoax. Indeed, I took bolder ground still, urging that the story should be made as explicit and circumstantial as possible, frankly and honestly for the purpose of entertaining and so of attracting a wide circle of readers. Even anonymity was undesirable. Nevertheless, certain precautions were imperatively needed. [. . . ]
The Riddle of the Sands, a work of espionage and military strategy, centers on Davies and Carruthers, a minor official in the Foreign Office, and their suspicion of a German plot to invade England. Navigating a tiny sail boat up a sandbank-ridden waterway, Davies and Carruthers explore the shallow tide beaches and stumble upon a mysterious site rumored to be the place of hidden treasure. Refusing to heed the warnings of a German navy patrol boat, Davies and Carruthers continue on, but the plot thickens as Davies falls in love with the daughter of the supposed mastermind behind the invasion plot.
In the rough waters of the North Sea, two sailors fight to save Britain Charles Carruthers is languishing in the crushing heat of a London summer when an old university chum named Davies throws him a lifeline, inviting him on a yachting expedition in the North Sea. It sounds like a lark, but Carruthers finds that the Dulcibella is hardly a yacht, and Davies's trip is no pleasure cruise. Off the coast of the mysterious Frisian Islands, he has spotted a German fleet, supposedly engaged in hunting for buried treasure. Battling the elements, the two Englishmen find themselves surrounded by the German navy, which is using the fogs of the North Sea to disguise something monstrous--the Kaiser's plot to launch a sneak attack on the British Isles. Published more than a decade before World War I began, this groundbreaking spy novel inspired a young Winston Churchill to reinvigorate Britain's naval defenses, and it remains just as stirring today. This ebook has been professionally proofread to ensure accuracy and readability on all devices.
While on a sailing trip in the Baltic Sea, two young adventurers-turned-spies uncover a secret German plot to invade England. Written by Childers--who served in the Royal Navy during World War I--as a wake-up call to the British government to attend to its North Sea defenses, The Riddle of the Sands accomplished that task and has been considered a classic of espionage literature ever since, praised as much for its nautical action as for its suspenseful spycraft.
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