In the aftermath of the attack, Raymer is the first to dive the wreck of the USS Arizona, tomb of 1,000 sailors, in oil-black waters:
Suddenly, I feltIn the aftermath of the attack, Raymer is the first to dive the wreck of the USS Arizona, tomb of 1,000 sailors, in oil-black waters:
Suddenly, I felt that something was wrong. I tried to suppress the strange feeling that I was not alone. I reached out to feel my way and touched what seemed to be a large inflated bag floating on the overhead. As I pushed it away, my bare hand plunged through what felt like a mass of rotted sponge. I realized with horror that the "bag" was a body without a head.
Gritting my teeth, I shoved the corpse as hard as I could. As it drifted away the fleshless fingers raked across my rubberized suit...I fought to choke down the bile that rose in my throat. That bloated torso had once contained viscera, muscle, firm tissue. It had been a man. I could hear the quickening thump of my pulse.
For the first time I felt confined in the suffocating darkness and had to suppress the desire to escape. "Breathe slowly, breathe deeply," I commanded myself. I must stay calm, professional, detached. The dangers from falling wreckage, holes in the deck, and knife-sharp jagged edges are real, formidable hazards. I must not succumb to terror over something that could not harm me.
A little later in the dive,
Then I got that eerie feeling again that I wasn't alone. Something was near. I felt the body floating above me. Soon the overhead was filled with floating forms.
Obviously, my movement through the water created a suction effect that drew the floating masses to me. Their skeletal fingers brushed across my copper helmet. The sound reminded me of the tinkling of oriental wind chimes.
This time I did not panic. Instead, I gently pushed the bodies clear and moved through the compartment. ...more
A Backward Glance: An Autobiography takes readers up to 1934, but Wharton's account of the years post-1918 barely amount to an epilogue. She is not deA Backward Glance: An Autobiography takes readers up to 1934, but Wharton's account of the years post-1918 barely amount to an epilogue. She is not desolate, she still draws from her usual sources of joy. Writing, reading, the conversation of a circle of brilliant though fast-dwindling friends, travel, especially yachting the Aegean and motoring in far reaches (given her identification with the French elite, I found it perfect that her exploration of Morocco was smoothed by none other than General Lyautey). But, she says, life is not the same, many have died, much is ended. Her account of Henry James' decline and death during the war, in a nightmare of empathetic anguish, is hard reading:
I have never seen any one else who, without a private personal stake in that awful struggle, suffered from it as he did. He had not my solace of hard work, though he did all he had strength for, and gave all the pecuniary help he could. But it was not enough. His devouring imagination was never at rest, and the agony was more than he could bear. As far as I know the only letters of mine which he kept were those in which I described my various journeys to the front, and when these were sent back to me after his death they were worn with much handing about. His sensitiveness about his own physical disabilities gave him an exaggerated idea of what his friends were able to do, and he never tired of talking of what he regarded as their superhuman activities. But still the black cloud hung over the world, and to him it was soon to be a pall. Perhaps it was better so. I should have liked to have him standing beside me the day the victorious armies rode by; but when I think of the years intervening between his death and that brief burst of radiance I have not the heart to wish that he had seen it. The waiting would have been too bitter. ...more