The black hull towered above Monsieur De Roche. It was the pinnacle of his dreams and the final blow to his shipyard. Copper cladding gleamed in the late afternoon sun. The loans to buy that alone would sink him. The ship hung above his head, supported for a quarter of its length on the slip. The rest of the great ship completely bridged the estuary stream and the ship's stern was firmly stuck in the muddy bank opposite. The Moonraker's stern actually touched the rival ship that was being built on the other bank.

None of the many ships Monsieur De Roche had built nor any that his father and grandfather had built had ever been so large. It had not occurred to him or to any of his shipwrights that the Moonraker was too long to launch.

"A beautiful and deceitful woman you truly are," he whispered to the great ship.


De Roche turned and found Henri, his chief shipwright, at his side.

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