Two trombone blasts from the ship's funnels reverberated through the floor, and they heard feet running along the corridor outside. 'Come on,' she said to the girls, 'I think it's time for bon voyage.'
THE AMERICAN OLYMPIC team members, all 384 of them, were pressed against the rails, waving to the thousands come to see them off, along with the ship's other passengers - the reporters, diplomats, and socialites - on their way to the Games as supporters and spectators. Eleanor spotted Mary Astor and Helen Hayes standing on the first-class promenade. On the pier, a high school athletic team unfurled a banner reading GIVE 'EM HELL, GLENN. Tugs, yachts, and liners tied up at the neighbouring piers began sounding their horns in a raucous medley, with each blast echoed by vessels farther up the Hudson. Overhead, a biplane circled. It seemed as though the whole of New York City was there to wish them luck. Every window in the towers of Midtown was filled with faces.
On the ship's top deck five girls from the women's high jump team hoisted a vast white flag emblazoned with the Olympic rings. The crowd roared and stamped their feet, breaking into a chant.
'U-S-A! U-S-A! A-M-E-R-I-C-A!'
Eleanor basked in the happiness and goodwill of the thousands of faces, and felt their energy. Not a single protester as far as she could see. Not one angry face.
The funnels sounded their bass notes again, the companionways were cast off, and three tugboats pulled the Manhattan out into the harbour. The athletes waved and whistled in a frenzy. Some held paper streamers linked to the hands of parents and sweethearts on the pier, wept when the streamers broke, and hugged each other. Gradually the pier slipped away in a tumult of spray, foam, and engine noise. The band struck up 'America the Beautiful' and tears welled in Eleanor's eyes.
Who needs a damned husband anyway, she thought.
Excerpted from Flight from Berlin by David John. Copyright © 2012 by David John. Excerpted by permission of Harper. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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