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My dandy-rigged yacht, the Spitfire, of twenty-six tons, lay in Boulogne harbour, hidden in the deep shadow of the wall against which she floated. It was a breathless night, dark despite the wide spread of cloudless sky that was brilliant with stars. It was hard upon the hour of midnight, and low down where we lay we heard but dimly such sounds of life as was still abroad in the Boulogne streets. Ahead of us loomed the shadow of a double-funnelled steamer-an inky dye of scarcely determinable proportions upon the black and silent waters of the harbour. The Cap cure pier made a faint, phantom-like line of gloom as it ran seawards on our left, with here and there a lump of shadow denoting some collier fast to the skeleton timbers. The stillness was impressive; from the sands came a dull and distant moan of surf; the dim strains of a concertina threaded the hush which seemed to dwell like something material upon the black, vague shape of a large brig almost directly abreast of us. We were waiting for the hour of midnight to strike and our ears were strained.