A driving wind with squalls of rain lashed the docks; the boat train passengers hastened up the .ship’s gangway into the warm interior of the main deck where the usual chaos of embarkation was in full spate. People milling to and fro, crowding about the purser’s desk, inquiring for mail, sending telegrams; stewards carrying baggage, answering questions, directing flustered ladies; a group of stewardesses in crisp cotton frocks alert in the background, a reassuring sight for those among the women passengers who were poor sailors. The weather threatened ominously, the Bay loomed ahead, but the calm-faced stewardesses would be on hand to help, comfort and see one through.
Mr. Willison, an elderly Englishman resident in Portugal and returning to Lisbon after a business conference in London, stood in an angle by the companionway and surveyed the scene with amiable eyes. The ship was a liner which in former days had not touched at Lisbon but was now combining its long routine run with shorter trips, allowing people to book for various ports hitherto bypassed and, for those who desired it, guaranteeing a passage home.
‘A most accommodating arrangements from every point of view,’ thought Mr. Willison complacently.