The Boy Allies Under Two Flags
Ensign Robert L. Drake
Part 1 out of 4
Scanned by Sean Pobuda
#2 of a series.
THE BOY ALLIES UNDER TWO FLAGS
By Ensign Robert L. Drake
IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Thus spoke the two forward guns on the little scout cruiser
H.M.S. Sylph, Lord Hasting, commander.
"A hit!" cried Jack, who, from his position in the pilot house,
had watched the progress of the missiles hurled at the foe.
"Good work!" shouted Frank, his excitement so great that he
forgot the gunners were unable to hear him.
"Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!"
The Sylph had come about, and now poured a broadside into the
Then, from the distance, more than a mile across the water, came
the sound of many guns. The German cruisers Breslau and Goeben
were returning the fire.
Shells, dropping in. front, behind and on all sides of the Sylph
threw up the water in mighty geysers, as if it were a typhoon
that surrounded the little vessel. Shells screamed overhead, but
none found its mark.
All this time the vessels were drawing closer and closer
together. Now, as the little scout cruiser rose on a huge swell,
a single shock shook the vessel and a British shell sped true.
A portion of the Breslau's superstructure toppled; a second later
and the faint sound of a crash was carried over the water to the
"A hit!" cried Jack again.
A loud British cheer rose above the sound of battle, and the
gunners, well pleased with their marksmanship, turned again to
their work with renewed vigor.
"Lieutenant Templeton on the bridge!" came the command, and Jack
hastened to report to Lord Hastings.
"What do you make of that last shot, Mr. Templeton?" demanded the
commander of the Sylph. "Is the enemy seriously crippled, would
"No sir," replied Jack. "I think not. You may see that the
wreckage has already been cleared away, and the enemy is still
plugging away at us."
"Mr. Hetherington!" called the commander. The first lieutenant
of the little vessel saluted. "Yes, sir"
"I fear the enemy is too strong for us, sir. You will have to
bring the Sylph about."
"Very well, sir."
A moment later the head of the little scout cruiser began to
swing gradually to the left.
Jack returned to the wheelhouse.
"What on earth are we coming about for?" demanded Frank, as his
"Lord Hastings believes the enemy is too strong for us," was the
"But that's no reason to run, is it?"
"I don't think so, but it appears that Lord Hastings does. I
guess he knows more about it than we do."
"I guess that's so; but I don't like the idea of running."
At this instant there was a. hail from the lookout:
"Steamer on the port bow, sir!"
"What's her nationality?" bellowed Lord Hastings.
"British, sir," was the reply.
"Can you make her out?"
The lookout was silent for a moment and then called back. "Yes,
sir; Cruiser Gloucester, sir!"
"Good!" shouted Lord Hastings. "Lieutenant Hetherington! Bring
her about again."
The Sylph came back to her course as if by magic, and once more
rushed toward the enemy. Several miles to port, could now be
seen the faint outline of the approaching British battle cruiser,
sailing swiftly, under full steam, as though she were afraid she
would not arrive in time to take part in the battle.
"Full speed ahead!" came the order from the Sylph's commander,
and the little craft leaped forward in the very face of her two
A shell from the Goeben, which was nearer the Sylph than her
sister ship, crashed into the very mouth of one of the Sylph's 8
inch guns, blowing it to pieces.
Men were hurled to the deck on all sides, maimed and bleeding.
Others dropped over dead. An officer hurriedly reported the fact
to Lord Hastings.
"We'll get even with her," said His Lordship grimly. "Give her a
shot from the forward turret."
In spite of the tragedy enacted before his eyes only a moment
before, the British gunner took deliberate aim.
There was silence, as all watched the effect of this one shot.
"Right below the water line," said Lord Hastings calmly. "A
pretty shot, my man."
By this time the Gloucester had come within striking distance,
and her heavy guns began to breathe defiance to the Germans. But
the Breslau and the Goeben had no mind to engage this new enemy,
and quickly turned tail and fled.
Lord Hastings immediately got into communication with the captain
of the Gloucester by wireless.
"Pursue the enemy!" was the order that was flashed through the
The two British ships sped forward on the trail of the foe. But
the latter made off at top speed, and in spite of the shells
hurled at them by their pursuers, soon outdistanced the
Gloucester. The Sylph, however, continued the chase and was
gradually gaining, although, now that the battle was over for the
time being, the strain on the little cruiser relaxed. Wounded
men were hurriedly patched up by the ship's surgeon and his
assistants, and the dead were prepared for burial.
Jack and Frank approached Lord Hastings on the bridge. The
latter was talking to his first officer.
"They must be the Breslau and Goeben," he was saying, "though I
am unable to account for the manner in which they escaped the
blockade at Libau. They were supposed to be tightly bottled up
there and I was informed that their escape was impossible."
"Something has evidently gone wrong," suggested Lieutenant
"They probably escaped by, a ruse of some kind," said Jack,
joining in the conversation.
And the lad was right, although he did not know it then.
The two German ships, tightly bottled up, even as Lord Hastings
had said, in Libau, had escaped the blockading British squadron
by the simple maneuver of reversing their lights, putting their
bow lights aft and vice versa, and passing through the blockading
fleet in the night without so much as being challenged. This is
"Well," said Frank, "we succeeded in putting our mark on them,
even if we didn't catch them."
"We did that," agreed Lieutenant Hetherington.
Darkness fell, and still the chase continued; but the Sylph was
unable to come up with her quarry, and the two German cruisers
succeeded in limping off in the night.
"We shall have to give it up," said Lord Hastings, when he at
last realized that the Germans had escaped. "Mr. Hetherington,
bring the ship back to its former course."
The lieutenant did as ordered.
"Now, boys," said Lord Hastings, "you might as well turn in for
A few minutes later the lads were fast asleep in their own cabin,
and while they gain a much needed rest and the Sylph continues to
speed on her course, it will be a good time to introduce the two
young lads to such readers as have not met them before.
Frank Chadwick was an American lad, some 15 years old. In Europe
when the great European war broke out, he succeeded, with his
father, in getting over the border into Italy, finally reaching
Here the lad lost his father, and while searching for him, had
gone to the aid of a man apparently near death at the hands of a
sailor. After thanking the lad for his timely aid, the man had
immediately shanghaied the lad, who, when he recovered
consciousness, found himself aboard a little schooner, sailing for
he knew not where.
There was a mutiny on the ship and the captain was killed. The
mutineers, putting in at a little African village for supplies,
attempted to fleece Jack Templeton, an English youth out of his
just dues. Jack, a strapping youngster, strong as an ox, though
no older than Frank, succeeded in getting aboard the mutineers
vessel, and by displaying wonderful strategy and fighting
prowess, overcame the mutineers.
The boys became great friends.
After capturing the schooner from the mutineers, a prisoner was
found on board, who proved to be a British secret service agent.
The boys released him, and then, with Lord Hastings, who had come
to Africa in his yacht, succeeded in striking such a blow at the
Triple Alliance that Italy refused to throw her support to German
arms in spite of the strongest pressure the Kaiser could bring to
So valuable was the service the boys rendered in this matter,
that when they expressed their intentions of joining the British
navy, Lord Hastings, who had taken an immense liking to them,
secured them commissions as midshipmen. Later they were assigned
to duty on his yacht, the Sylph, which, in the meantime, had been
converted into a scout cruiser.
The lads had already played an important part in the war.
Through them, a plot to destroy the whole British fleet had been
frustrated and the English had been enabled to deliver a smashing
blow to the German fleet at Heligoland.
In Lord Hastings the boys had found an excellent friend.
Although apparently but a commander of a small scout cruiser --
unknown to but a very few -- he was one of the most trusted of
British secret agents. He was a distant relative of the English
monarch and, as the boys had already learned, had more power in
naval affairs than his officers and associates surmised. This
fact had been proved more than once, when he had given commands
to men apparently much higher in rank.
Following the brilliant victory of the British fleet off
Heligoland, in which a number of the Kaiser's most powerful sea
fighters had been, sent to the bottom, the Sylph had returned to
London for repairs. Here Frank and Jack had been personally
presented to King George, who had thanked them for their bravery
and loyalty and raised them to the rank of Fourth Lieutenant.
Lord Hastings had been ill, but his illness had been of short
duration; and so it was not long before the two lads once more
found themselves pacing the deck of the Sylph, going they knew
not where; nor did they care much, so long as it took them where
there was fighting to be done.
It was on the very day that the Sylph lifted anchor for her
second cruise, that London heard of the prowess of the German
cruiser Emden, a swift raider which later caused so much damage
to British shipping as to gain the name "Terror of the Sea." The
news received on the day in question told of the sinking of an
English liner by this powerful enemy.
When Frank and Jack sought to learn the destination of the Sylph
from Lord Hastings, he had put them off with a laugh.
"You'll know soon enough," he said with a wave of his hand.
"Are we likely to see action soon?" asked Jack.
"If we are fortunate," was the reply.
"Well, that's all we wanted to know," said Frank. "Don't worry,"
replied His Lordship. "You will see all the action you want
before this cruise is over, or I am very badly mistaken."
And with this the boys were forced to be content.
For two days they sailed about in the sunny Mediterranean,
sighting neither friend nor foe, and then suddenly had
encountered the two German cruisers, the Breslau and the Goeben,
and the skirmish with these two ships, described at the opening
of this story, ensued.
But now, as the enemy had succeeded in making off in the
darkness, and as Lord Hastings had ordered that the original
course of the Sylph be resumed, the little vessel was again -- as
Jack said when they had started on their journey -- "sailing
under sealed orders."
The two lads were about bright and early the morning following
the encounter with the German cruisers; and as they stood looking
out over the sea, Lord Hastings approached them.
"More news of the Emden," he said, as he came up.
"Another British merchant vessel sunk?" asked Jack.
"Worse," replied Lord Hastings. "A cruiser this time!"
"A cruiser!" exclaimed Jack in surprise. "I always thought that
any cruiser of ours was more than a match for a German."
"Well, you are wrong," was Lord Hastings' reply. "From what I
have heard by wireless, our vessel attacked, but was sent to the
bottom by the Emden before she could do much damage to the
"What was the name of the British ship?" asked Frank.
"I haven't heard," replied Lord Hastings; "but the action was
fought in the Indian Ocean."
"It seems to me," said Jack vehemently, "that it is about time
this German terror of the sea was sent to the bottom."
"So it is," declared Lord Hastings; "and mark my words, she will
be when one of our big ships comes up with her."
"May it be soon!" ejaculated Frank.
But it was not to be soon. For almost another month the German
terror prowled about the seas, causing great havoc to British and
For three days the Sylph continued on her way without
interruption, and then turned about suddenly and headed for home.
Under full speed she ran for days, until the boys knew they were
once more in the North Sea, where they had so recently
participated in their one great battle.
"Will you tell us why we have come back so suddenly, sir?" asked
Frank of Lord Hastings.
"Why," said His Lordship, "the Germans seem to be growing
extremely active in the North Sea. Only three days ago, a German
submarine, after apparently running the blockade, sank the
cruiser Hawke off the coast of Scotland.
"What?" cried both boys in one voice.
"Exactly," said Lord Hastings grimly, "and it is for the purpose
of attempting to discover some of these under-the-sea fighters,
or other German warships, that we have come back. The whole
North Sea is being patrolled, and we are bound to come upon some
of the Germans eventually."
"Well, I hope we don't have to wait long," said Frank.
"And so do I," agreed Jack. "I hope that every German ship
afloat will be swept from the seas."
The Sylph did not go within sight of the English coast, but for
two days cruised back and forth, east, west, north and south,
without the sight of the enemy.
This inaction soon began to pall upon the two lads, to whom a
fight was as the breath of life itself.
"I wish we had continued on our way, wherever we were going, and
not have come back here," said Jack to Frank one afternoon.
"This is about the limit," agreed Frank. "I believe we would
have done better to have joined the army. At least we would have
seen some fighting."
But the boys desire for action was to be soon fulfilled. The
very next day some smoke and dots appeared on the horizon.
Quickly they grew until they could be identified as enemy ships.
The captain of the Sylph set out a wireless message requesting
help from any units in the area:
"Have sighted enemy; four vessels: approaching rapidly," and
the exact position of the Sylph.
In a moment came the answer:
"Head north, slowly. We will intercept the enemy when actively
engaged. Remember the Hawke!"
Lord Hastings sent another message:
"How many are you?"
"Five," came back the answer. "Undaunted accompanied by torpedo
destroyers Lance, Lenox, Legion and Loyal, as convoys."
"Good!" muttered Lord Hastings; then turned to Lieutenant
"You may clear for action, sir!"
The gallant British sailors jumped quickly to their posts, the
light of battle in their eager eyes. At Lord Hastings' command,
the Sylph was brought about, and soon had her stern toward the
There came a wireless message from the German commander.
"Surrender!" it said.
"We will die first!" was the answer sent by Lord Hastings.
Steaming slowly, the Sylph apparently was trying to escape; at
least so figured the German commander. To him it appeared that
he could overtake the little vessel with ease, and his squadron
steamed swiftly after it.
Gradually the Germans gained upon the little vessel, finally
coming close enough to send a shot after it. They were not yet
within range, however, and the shell fell short.
"We'll have to let him get a little closer," muttered Lord
Hastings, "or he may draw off. We'll have to face the danger of
a shell striking us."
A second shell from the Germans kicked up the water alongside the
"He'll have the range in a minute, sir," said Lieutenant
"Bear off a little to the south," was the commander's reply.
For almost an hour the Sylph outmaneuvered the German flotilla,
and avoided being struck. All this time Lord Hastings was in
constant wireless communication with the Undaunted, which was
even now coming to give battle to the Germans.
At last the lookout made them out.
"Battle fleet --" he began, but Lord Hastings keen eye had
already perceived what the lookout would have told him.
Well to the rear, perhaps three mile's north, came the British
cruiser Undaunted and her four convoys. They were steaming
rapidly and in such a direction that they would intercept the
Germans should the latter attempt to return in the direction from
which they had come.
To escape, the Germans must come directly toward the Sylph.
Those on board the Sylph noticed a sudden slackening in the speed
of the German squadron.
"They have sighted our fleet, sir," said Jack, who had stood
impatiently on the bridge while all this maneuvering was going
"So they have," said Lord Hastings, and then turned to Lieutenant
Hetherington. "You may bring the Sylph about sir," he said
Swiftly the little scout cruiser turned her face directly toward
the enemy, who even now had turned to escape toward the south, at
the same time heading so they would pass the Sylph at the
distance of perhaps a mile.
"Full speed ahead!" came the command on the Sylph.
The little vessel darted forward at an angle that would cut off
the Germans in the flight. It was a desperate venture, and none,
perhaps, realized it more than did Lord Hastings; but he was not
the man to see the prey escape thus easily if he could help it.
Rapidly now the Sylph drew closer to the German torpedo
destroyers. The gunners were at their posts, the range finder
already had gauged the distance, medical supplies for the wounded
were ready for instant use. In fact, the Sylph was ready to give
battle, regardless of the number of her enemies.
There was a loud crash as the first salvo burst from the Germans,
but the Sylph was untouched. Still the British ship drew nearer
without firing. Then Lord Hastings gave the command: "Mr.
Hetherington, you may fire at will!"
The Sylph seemed to leap into the air at the shock of the first
fire. One shell crashed into the side of one of the German
destroyers, and a cheer went up from the British. Then came
several broadsides from the Germans, who had stopped now to
dispose of this brave little vessel, before continuing their
Suddenly the Sylph staggered, and her fire became less frequent.
A German shell had struck her forward turret with terrible force,
putting her biggest gun out of commission. But the Sylph
recovered, and continued to fight on.
Jack and Frank darted hither and thither about the vessel,
carrying orders from Lord Hastings and Lieutenant Hetherington,
now and then taking a man's place at one of the guns as he
toppled over until another relieved them.
Two distinct shocks told that the Sylph had been struck twice
more. Then Lord Hastings gave the command for his vessel to
In attacking the enemy as he had, in the face of terrible odds,
he had accomplished his purpose. He had halted the Germans in
their attempt to escape, and had given the Undaunted and the
British torpedo boats time to come up.
Before the Germans could again get under full headway, there came
the heavy boom of a great gun. The Undaunted was within range,
and had opened fire.
Lord Hastings summoned Jack to him.
"What damage do you find to the Sylph?" he asked.
"Forward gun out of commission, sir," replied the lad. "Ten men
killed, and many wounded."
Frank also had had news to report.
The British flotilla and the German squadron were now at it
hammer and tongs. Seeing that all hope of escape had been cut
off, the German commander turned to face his new foes, determined
to give battle to the last.
Steadily the British fleet bore down on the enemy, the great guns
of the Undaunted belching fire as they drew near.
Now Lord Hastings ordered the Sylph -- still the closest of the
British vessels to the Germans -- again into the fray, and in
spite of its crippled condition, the little cruiser once more
bore down upon the Germans.
Suddenly the nearest German destroyer launched a torpedo at the
Sylph. By a quick and skillful maneuver, Lord Hastings avoided
this projectile, and a broadside was poured into the German.
Others of the German fleet were too closely pressed by the
Undaunted and her convoys to aid the one engaged with the Sylph,
and so the two were left to fight it out alone.
Closer and closer together the two vessels came, until they were
perhaps only a hundred yards apart. It was evident to those on
the Sylph that a shell must have badly crippled the German, for
otherwise a torpedo would have put an end to the little British
Unable to check the advance of the Sylph, the German destroyer
turned suddenly and made off.
"After her!" shouted Lord Hastings, and the Sylph leaped ahead at
the word of command.
SAVED FROM THE SEA
The three other German vessels now singled out the Undaunted and
concentrated their fire upon her, thinking first to dispose of
the more formidable vessel and then to turn their attention to
the lighter craft.
A fierce duel ensued. Suddenly there was a terrific explosion.
One of the German torpedo destroyers seemed to leap into the air,
only to fall back a moment later and disappear beneath the sea
with a loud hiss.
A heavy shell struck the Undaunted and carried away part of her
superstructure. The two remaining torpedo boats of the enemy,
except the one being pursued by the Sylph, suddenly turned and
dashed directly at the Undaunted, evidently intending to ram her.
Captain Fox avoided a collision with promptness and skill, and
the torpedo boats sped by without touching her. Now the Loyal
launched a torpedo at the first German craft. It sped swift and
true, and a moment later there was but one German left in
condition to continue the fight. Thinking to avoid unnecessary
loss of life, Captain Fox called upon the German to surrender.
The kindly offer was rewarded with a defiant reply, and the
German made another swift attack upon the Undaunted.
For a moment it seemed that a collision was unavoidable, but
Captain Fox managed to get his ship out of the way just as the
enemy plowed by. It was close work and required great coolness.
Meantime the Sylph was close on the heels of the other German
vessel. Salvo after salvo the British poured into the apparently
helpless German torpedo boat, which, however, continued its
flight rather than surrender.
Frank and Jack, both happening to be on the bridge at the same
moment, stood for a brief second to watch the effect of the
Sylph's fire. The damage to the German had been terrific. The
vessel listed badly, and seemed in imminent danger of sinking.
"By Jove!" ejaculated Jack, and would have said more but for a
There was a terrific explosion on the German vessel, and as if by
magic, it disappeared beneath the sea. The Sylph's battle was
"Get out the boats, men!" came Lord Hastings command. "It may be
that we can save some of them."
Jack and Frank leaped quickly into the same boat, and a moment
later were rushing to the spot where the German torpedo destroyer
had disappeared. For perhaps five minutes they cruised about,
unable to find a single survivor, and then both were startled by
the sound of something whistling overhead.
Looking up they beheld the cause of this trouble. The last
German destroyer had come almost upon them, and the British
gunners, evidently not seeing the little boat, were continuing
their fire at the enemy.
The lads were in imminent danger of being struck by a British
shell. The German launched a torpedo, and it went skimming right
by the little boat in which the boys sat.
"Quick!" cried Jack. "We must get out of here or one of those
things will hit us."
The men bent to their oars; but they were not quick enough.
Struck by some missile, the boat suddenly sank beneath them, and
the boys found themselves in the water, swimming.
And still they were between the two fighting ships.
Looking over his shoulder, Jack could make out the Sylph, and
calling to Frank to follow him, he struck out in that direction.
They swain rapidly, but seemed to make little progress. Lord
Hastings, standing on the bridge of the Sylph, discovered the two
forms in the water. A second boat was hastily launched, and put
off toward them.
When it was within a few yards of them a fragment of a shell
struck it and it also disappeared. It went to the bottom with
all on board, nor did any of its ill-fated victims come to the
The two lads, now clinging to pieces of wreckage, continued at
the mercy of the sea, and also in constant danger of being struck
by an exploding shell, while they swam slowly toward the Sylph.
In one final despairing, attempt to sink the Undaunted, the last
German destroyer launched another torpedo. By a wonderful
maneuver the British cruiser again avoided the projectile, which
sped on through the water.
Swimming, the boys could plainly follow its flight. As the
Undaunted swung out of the way to avoid it they could see that
the missile had a clear path to the Sylph.
With a gasp the boys saw the torpedo speed toward the little
scout cruiser. Lord Hastings had not seen the projectile
launched -- because a view of the German ship had been obstructed
until the Undaunted swung out of the way -- and no effort was
made to avoid it.
The torpedo crashed into the Sylph on the water line, and the
explosion which followed must have torn through all the various
compartments to the engine room, for there was a second loud
explosion, steam leaped up on all sides of the Sylph, and when it
had cleared away, there was no Sylph to be seen.
The little scout cruiser had disappeared; vanished, had been
Of Lord Hastings and the other officers and men, the lads could
For a moment the boys were unable to speak, so astounded were
they at the suddenness of this terrible disaster.
"Great Scott!" gasped Frank at last. "Do you realize what has
Jack was more calm.
"Perfectly," he replied faintly, with a sob in his voice. "The
Sylph has gone, and with her Lord Hastings and all on board --
all our friends, the only ones we have in the world."
The two boys unconsciously swam closer together.
"The fortunes of war," said Jack, more quietly now. "It is a
Further conversation was interrupted by the sound of another
terrific explosion. Startled, the boys turned in the water just
in time to see the last German destroyer disappear beneath the
"Good!" exclaimed Jack, in fierce joy. "I am glad of that."
Frank also gritted his teeth, and muttered fervent
congratulations to the British gunners.
And now the British ships proceeded on their course. None had
been seriously damaged. They turned their backs upon the scene
of the engagement and made off in the direction from which they
The boys shouted loud and long for assistance; but their cries
were not heard aboard the British ships of war, which, gradually
gathering more headway, steamed off to the south. Not until they
were almost out of sight did the lads cease their shouting, and
resign themselves to their fate.
In despair, they turned to each other for comfort. Jack was
first to speak.
"Well, Frank," he said quietly. "We shall soon join Lord
Hastings and our other good friends in a place where there is no
war and no losing of friends."
"Isn't there something we can do?" asked Frank, trembling with
"I am afraid not."
There was a sudden stirring of the water beneath them. Jack
cried out suddenly:
Frank had regained his coolness now.
"Probably a shark come to finish us up quickly," he replied
Both lads, with a last effort, swam desperately from the place.
But suddenly the waters of the North Sea parted, and a long,
cigar-shaped object came to the top and rested lightly on the
"What is it?" asked Jack again in no little alarm
Before Frank could reply, a man suddenly appeared on the top of
the object, apparently from nowhere, and glanced about. He
espied them, and as suddenly disappeared. He reappeared almost
in an instant, however, followed by another.
And now both lads discovered what the object was, an object that
had arrived just in time to save them from a watery grave. They
could see that the two men wore the uniform of the German navy.
The long, cigar-shaped object was a German submarine.
ABOARD THE X-9
There was a hoarse command from aboard the submarine, and a
moment later a small boat floated alongside the two German
officers who clambered in. Frank and Jack swam toward them as
rapidly as their exhausted condition would permit.
"What are you two lads doing here in the middle of the North
Sea?" asked one of the officers in great surprise, after the boys
had been pulled aboard the small boat.
"We're here because our ship was sunk by one of your blamed
torpedo boats," replied Jack, with some heat.
"Only one sunk?" inquired the officer in excellent English.
"Just one; it seems to me that is enough."
"Well, I agree that it is better than none," said the German
officer. "We'll sink them one at a time. How many of our ships
"Four," replied Jack briefly, now beginning to smile to himself,
for he saw the German did not know what had happened.
"Which way did they go?" demanded the German.
"Straight to the bottom," replied Jack, with a note of
thankfulness in his voice.
"What!" exclaimed the officer, starting to his feet.
"To the bottom," Jack repeated.
"Impossible!" cried the officer. "One British ship couldn't sink
four German torpedo destroyers."
"I didn't say there was only one," said Jack. "We some
"You must have had," said the German officer heatedly. "How
many? A dozen?"
"There were two or three," said Jack briefly,
He had no mind to tell the German officer the size of the British
The German officer was silent for several minutes and then he
said: "Why didn't you tell me this in the first place?"
"You didn't ask me," replied Jack, with a tantalizing laugh.
The German brought his right fist into the palm of his left hand
with a resounding smack.
"You English will pay dearly for every German ship stink," he
"Maybe so," replied Jack, dryly, "but it won't be a German fleet
that makes us pay."
"Enough of this!" broke in the second German officer.
"Lieutenant Stein, you forget yourself, sir. And as for you,
sir," turning to Jack, "you show no better taste."
"I beg your Pardon," said Jack. "I wouldn't have said anything
if he hadn't egged me on."
Lieutenant Stein was equally repentant.
"I apologize," he said quietly to Jack. "I should not have
spoken as I did."
"Say no more about it," said Jack. "I was just as much to
Frank now broke into the conversation.
"What vessel is this?" he asked, pointing to the low-lying bulk
of the submarine, against which the small boat now scraped.
"German submarine X-9," replied Lieutenant Stein, "where, until
we put into port again, you will be our prisoners."
The four now clambered to the top of the submarine. Lieutenant
Stein led the way to the entrance through the combined bridge and
conning tower, and all went below. At the foot of the short
flight of steps stood a man in captain's uniform.
"The sole survivors of a British cruiser, sir," said Lieutenant
Stein to the captain, indicating the two lads. "I have not
learned their names nor rank."
The two lads hastened to introduce themselves.
"I am Captain von Cromp, commander of this vessel," said the
captain gruffly. "You are my prisoners until I put into port and
can turn you over to the proper authorities."
Jack and Frank bowed in recognition of their fate. The captain
turned to Lieutenant Stein.
"You will see that the prisoners are well cared for," he said.
"They are in your custody."
The lads glanced curiously about as they were led along toward
the lieutenant's cabin. It was the first time either had been
inside a submarine vessel, and both felt a trifle squeamish. The
boat was upon the surface of the sea now, however, and a dim
light penetrated below.
The lieutenant's cabin, well forward, was fitted up luxuriously.
There were several bunks in the little room, and the lieutenant
motioned to them.
"You will sleep there," he said quietly. "Make yourselves
perfectly at home. I guess there is no danger of your attempting
to escape. However, you must remain below and not ascend to the
bridge under any circumstances."
He bowed, and left them.
"I don't know as I am particularly fond of this kind of travel,"
Frank confided to Jack. "It's all right as long as we remain on
the surface, but I'll bet it would feel queer to be moving along
under the water."
"Right you are," replied Jack. "However, we are here and we
shall have to make the best of a bad situation. Then, too,
perhaps we can learn something that may prove of use to us later
The lads dined that night at the officers' mess and became quite
well acquainted with all of them. They found Captain von Cromp
not half so gruff as he had been when they first came aboard.
They were questioned about the service they had seen, and their
story greatly surprised all the officers.
Upon Lieutenant Stein's request, the commander granted the lads
permission to look over the vessel.
The lieutenant showed them how the vessel was submerged, by
allowing one of the tanks to fill with water; how it rose again
by forcing the water from the compartment by means of compressed
air; how the air was purified when a lengthy submersion was
necessary, and how the vessel was handled in times of action.
He showed them the periscope, and allowed them to peer through,
although there was no need to use this, as the vessel was above
"When the submarine is submerged," explained Lieutenant Stein,
"the periscope is the eye of the vessel. Peering over the waves,
it reflects what it sees into the watching human eye in the
conning tower. Destroy it, and the submarine is a blind thing,
plunging to destruction."
"Then the periscope is the one weak spot in a submarine?" asked
"Exactly," was the reply. "Of course, if it were destroyed, the
vessel might rise immediately to the surface and so gain its
bearings. But in the midst of battle it would probably mean
certain destruction; for when it rose the submarine would
naturally be so close to the enemy that a single big shell would
put it out of business."
The boys looked long at this strange mechanical eye. Shaped like
a small pipe, it ran up from the conning tower and protruded
above the vessel. A large lens at the top turned off as does an
elbow in a stove pipe. This portion, when necessary, moved in
all directions. When raised to its maximum height everything
within a radius of ten miles is reflected in it.
"The shaft can be lowered to within a few inches of the top of
the water," the lieutenant explained, "thus guarding against the
danger of being hit. The officer in the conning tower peers into
the binoculars and sees just what the periscope sees."
"Will you explain just how it works?" asked Jack. I
"Certainly. The periscope consists, as you may see, of a slender
tubular shaft extending up through the conning tower of the
submarine. Each submarine is equipped with a pair -- thus if one
is shot away the other can be put in immediate use. At the upper
end of the shaft is a mirror lens. Upon this mirror lens is
reflected the surrounding surface of the ocean. The image
reflected there is carried down the tube to other lenses and then
conveyed to enlarging binoculars. Now do you understand?"
"Perfectly," replied Jack; "and now as to the manner in which a
submarine fights. It is by torpedoes, as I understand it."
"Exactly," replied the lieutenant, "and the torpedo is the most
deadly, effective and, it may be also said, intelligent of modern
warfare. One torpedo, striking the right kind of a blow, can
destroy a battleship. The submarine has no other effective,
weapon than the torpedo, which is delivered from a small tube.
There is this advantage in favor of the battleship, however: the
submarine is a slow craft. It is slower than the slowest
battleship when it proceeds under water. When it gets to the
surface its speed is doubled, but then it is an easy target for
the guns of the threatened battleship and also for the swift
torpedo boats and torpedo destroyers which are always thrown out
as escorts when a submarine attack is anticipated. Some
submarines are equipped with light rapid-firing guns, but these
are of no more use in attacking on-water boats than would be a
popgun. Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly," said Jack.
"It is indeed interesting," said Frank. "Can you tell us more?"
The lieutenant continued: "Beyond these factors -- the superior
speed, the protection of torpedo boats and the weakness of the
periscope -- there has been no protection yet devised against the
attack of a submarine."
"But the torpedo nets --?" interrupted Frank.
"There is of course," the lieutenant went on, "a crudely
defensive measure called the torpedo net. These are meshes of
strong steel which are dropped down from the side of the warship
and are supposed to catch the torpedo before it hits the side of
"Well, don't they?" asked Frank.
"In theory," said the lieutenant, "the torpedo explodes within
the net and the force of its attack is more or less diminished.
As a matter of fact, however, torpedo nets are not dependable.
Why, most of our submarines are equipped with a formidable device
for cutting these nets. This device, in one form, resembles an
enormous pair of sheers which cut through the nets like paper.
In another form they are equipped with powerful tearing arms
which drag the net away and expose the sides of the battleship to
the deadly messenger from the torpedo tube. Am I tiring you?"
"I should say not," replied both lads in one breath, and Frank
added: "I don't just understand how a submarine sinks and rises."
"It's very simple," said the lieutenant, "and at the same time
I'll tell you something else. The submarine is unaffected by
tempests, and for this reason also is more deadly than a
battleship. The submarine can dive down into the depths where
there is no movement of the waves, and it can remain under water
for fourteen hours continuously. This is accomplished by tanks
which can be filled with water and, overcoming what is known as
the 'margin of buoyancy,' submerge the vessel. The air is
replenished by special purifying devices and by tanks of oxygen.
When the vessel wants to rise, it simply pumps out the water from
"It certainly is a wonderful invention," said Frank, when the
lieutenant had concluded his explanation.
"Indeed it is," agreed Jack.
"You should be aboard when we are in action," smiled the
lieutenant. "I am sure you would be greatly interested."
"I don't doubt it," said Jack, "although from what you have told
us regarding the deadliness of submarines, I believe that I
should rather witness action on a British submarine."
"Nevertheless," said the lieutenant, "you are likely to see
action aboard the X-9, for I do not believe Captain Von Cromp
will return to port until he has at least tried the effect of his
torpedoes, on a ship or so of your countrymen."
"May he go to defeat if he tries it!" said Jack fervently.
"In which case," said the lieutenant with good natured tolerance,
"you would undoubtedly go with us."
"Even so," replied Jack, "I still could not wish to see you get
The lieutenant glanced at him admiringly.
"I believe you mean it," he said. "You are a brave lad. But
come, we had all better turn in now."
"I guess you are right," said Frank; "and thanks for the trouble
you have taken to explain all this to us."
"It was a pleasure, I am sure," was the lieutenant's reply, and
they all made their way to the officer's cabin, where they
prepared to retire for the night.
UNDER THE SEA
But there was to be no sleep for any aboard the German submarine
X-9 that night. As the boys were just about to tumble into their
bunks, there was the sound of a sudden commotion on the vessel.
Lieutenant Stein sprang to his feet, hastily donned what few
clothes he had removed, and dashed from the cabin. With all
possible haste, the boys followed suit.
Men were rushing to and fro and no one heeded the boys' presence,
although they were rudely thrust aside by hurrying members of the
crew several times.
"Wonder what's up?" said Jack.
"Don't know," replied Frank, "unless they have sighted one of our
"By Jove! Let us hope not," breathed Jack.
But this was indeed the cause of the excitement aboard the
submarine. A British battleship had been sighted in the
distance, and Captain Von Cromp was preparing to attack the
unsuspecting vessel, which had failed to sight her enemy,
although the latter was fully exposed to view.
Frank and Jack approached the foot of the periscope, where they
stood awaiting developments.
Outside a sudden storm swept the water of the North Sea in angry
waves. The water lifted up the little vessel with the regular
motion of a high-running sea. All was pitch dark.
The fact that men were hurrying about on deck, was only shown by
the somber figures who now and then passed in front of a single
lantern. From out the engine room, already under water, arose
the pound of heavy pounding and the weird crackling of the
engines, as they were tried out.
Jack glanced at his watch. It was 10:30. Suddenly there came a
shrill whistle from the little bridge of the submarine, standing
high above the vessel, and covered with heavy canvass. The
officer in command, Captain Von Cromp himself, dressed hi heavy
oilskins, raised a hand, the signal to go ahead.
A short, sharp signal to the engine room, a loud whirr of the
motor, and the X-9 was speeding ahead. On both sides of the ship
long waves formed, shimmering with light foam in the blackness of
the sea. The X-9 moved westerly -- toward the still unsuspecting
The heavens were covered with clouds. Not a star was visible.
It was impossible to see more than a few feet away from the
strange craft. Captain Von Cromp, with his experienced eye,
tried in vain to penetrate through this wall of solid blackness.
The wind kicked up the sea and the bridge was entirely flooded
with water. There was hot a sound to be heard, save the heavy
droning of the motor and the swish of the water passing along the
Suddenly, in the near distance, loomed up a great gray bulk,
swinging high above the submarine upon the water. It was the
And now submarine X-9 had been discovered. A heavy boom rang
out, but the little craft was not damaged.
Another signal came to the ears of the two boys. Men rushed upon
deck and soon the submarine was prepared for action. The
flagpole was taken down. Part of the bridge was folded together
and securely fastened. The periscope was fixed at its proper
height. Then the entrance through the combined bridge and
conning tower was hermetically sealed. A moment more and the
tanks were opened, telling the lads that the submarine was about
to submerge. The gasoline motors stopped their endless song.
From now on electricity would drive the vessel forward.
Near Frank and Jack, at the periscope, stood Lieutenant Stein,
looking at the British ship. The sailors took their stations
near the torpedoes. The interior of the boat was now lighted
with two small electric bulbs. They made the darkness visible,
but gave no light outside. Everywhere was the stale smell of
oil. The boys found it impossible to speak to each other because
of the noise of the engine and the water. The heat was
From time to time the officer in command of the three torpedoes
looked at his watch or at the compass, both of which he carried
around his wrist. Intently the men all watched the signboard on
the wall in front of them. The storm without made itself felt
even in the depth. Every motion of the water caused the
submarine to rock up and down and up and down again.
Jack found himself thinking of the advantage of the man on board
a warship. He, at least, could go down with a last look at the
world about him. Below, nothing could be seen, nothing could be
heard. If the submarine went down, all would suffocate in the
darkness beneath the water.
It was plain to Jack that Frank, as well as all the sailors and
officers, was thinking along similar lines. The expressi6n on
all faces was plain proof of it.
Suddenly the sailors sprang forward, forgetting in an instant
heat, bad air and discomfort. Following the gaze of the sailors,
the lads turned their eyes to the signboard. There, as if by
magic, had sprung up the word:
The officer in command of the torpedoes had his hand on the lever
which would release the first deadly projectile already in the
tube. The sailors made ready to launch the second as soon as the
first was gone.
Several seconds passed. Frank and Jack stood in deathlike
stillness. Both realized the tragedy that was about to be
enacted, and both were aware of their powerlessness to avert it.
Into the minds of both flashed a thought of springing upon their
captors, but each, after a moment's reflection, realized the
futility of such an action. It would merely delay the firing of
the first torpedo.
And so they stood while the seconds passed, the heart of each in
his throat. Suddenly the first sign on the board disappeared. A
moment later and a second command appeared. Frank and Jack read
it simultaneously, and both started forward with a cry.
The word that now stared them in the face, in red, glowing
With a single jerk, the officer released the first torpedo, even
as both lads, unable to endure the suspense and inaction any
longer, leaped upon him. There was a short, metallic click, the
noise of water rushing into the empty tube, and it was over. The
first torpedo had sped on its errand of destruction and death.
The German officer turned just in time to grapple with Jack, who
was now upon him.
"Seize them, men!" he cried, and struck out sharply at the lad.
But Jack was too quick for him, and his right fist went crashing
into the German's face. Frank was with him now, and the two
turned to face the onrushing sailors.
Both struck out rapidly, but in spite of their resistance, they
were soon overpowered by the numerical superiority of their foes,
and thrown to the floor.
There, realizing the uselessness of further struggling, they gave
up and lay still.
The German officer, having struggled to his feet in the meantime,
now approached and stood over them. Perceiving they were no
longer offering resistance, he motioned the sailors to let them
The lads arose and faced the officer.
"I realize your position better than you are probably aware," he
said, speaking coldly, "and for that reason I shall overlook your
attack upon me. I would have done as you did. I could not stand
by and see a German ship sent to the bottom without raising a
hand to prevent it. Go to your cabin, sirs." The boys bowed,
But while the boys were scuffling with the German officer and
some of the sailors, others had pushed a second torpedo into the
tube. And a sailor shouted, making himself heard by dint of a
very powerful voice: "Did we hit her?"
Instinctively all kept count -- one hundred meters, two hundred
meters, three hundred, four hundred. Under the water no sound
penetrated. Waiting was all that could be done. For a few
moments nothing happened.
Then, suddenly, every man on the boat, Jack and Frank in the
cabin, the captain, officers and all, were almost thrown from
their feet by a terrific jerk of the submarine. Another jerk,
and still another.
Then the submarine rolled as before - evenly. A moment and the
regular purring of the engines was heard again. The submarine
moved rapidly eastward.
She was on her way back home.
And an English battleship was at the bottom of the sea.
Frank picked himself up from the chair into which he had fallen
because of the sudden lurching of the vessel.
"What was that?" he asked in alarm. "Have we been, hit?"
"I fear there is no such luck," replied Jack. "What, I am sure,
is the answer to the German torpedo."
"What do you mean?"
"The lurching of this vessel was caused by the explosion of the
torpedo when it struck the British battleship."
"But wouldn't we have heard the explosion?"
"No; there is no sound under water."
There were tears in Frank's eyes, and he was ashamed of them, as
"Think of all the poor fellows aboard! Do you suppose any of
them will be saved?"
"I am afraid not," replied Jack sadly. "And to think that we had
to stand by unable even to warn them!"
"It is terrible!" said Frank, sinking into a chair.
For many minutes the lads were silent, each offering up a silent
prayer for the brave men who had gone to death for their country.
The silence was at length broken by the entrance of Lieutenant
Stein. He noticed the boys' sadness, and spoke softly to them.
"It is the fortune of war," he said quietly. "Remember, there
probably will be many German lives snuffed out just as easily.
Come, brace up!"
The lads brushed the tears from their eyes and rose to their
"I shall speak of it no more," said Jack, huskily.
"Nor I," said Frank.
"Good!" said the lieutenant. "Now you had better turn in and get
some sleep. You must be tired out."
"Sleep!" ejaculated Jack. "I couldn't sleep now."
"No, I suppose you couldn't," replied the lieutenant
thoughtfully. He was silent for some moments. "I'll tell you
what I'll do," he said finally, "we have come to the surface
again I'll ask Captain Von Cromp to allow you to go upon the
bridge, if you wish. He realizes your feelings as well as I do,
in spite of his apparent gruffness. The cool air will do you
"If you will be so kind, I am sure we shall appreciate it," said
The lieutenant left the cabin. Frank, espying something at one
end of the room, walked over to investigate. He came back to
Jack, holding something gingerly in his hand.
"By Jove!" he exclaimed.
"What is it?" asked Jack.
Frank held the object up before his friend's eyes.
"Look at it!" he exclaimed. "Do you know what it is?"
Jack took a long look and then stepped suddenly back, exclaiming:
"Put it down, quick! Do you want to blow us all up?"
"What do you suppose it's doing here?" asked Frank, still holding
the object out at arm's length.
"How should I know? But I suppose all submarines carry them. I
have heard that many have been planted by submarines."
For the object that Frank held in his hand was a small melinite
"I suppose this would blow any ship to kingdom come, wouldn't
it?" asked the lad.
"I should say it would; so you had better put it down unless you
want to send us all there."
Frank leaned close to his chum, and whispered rapidly:
"See if you can't find a gun around before the lieutenant comes
back. Quick! A revolver, rifle, or anything!"
"What for?" demanded Jack, in surprise.
"Never mind what, for. Look quick, while I hide this thing under
Without knowing what Frank had on his mind, Jack did as
requested. After rummaging through the lieutenant's desk, he at
last straightened up with a heavy revolver in his hand.
"Will this do?" he asked.
"All right," replied Frank, "but a rifle would be safer."
"Safer? What do you mean?"
"Sh-h-h" whispered Frank.
Footsteps were heard on the outside. Jack hastily shoved the
revolver into his pocket. Frank by this time had concealed his
explosive under his coat. It bulged out a bit, but the lad
folded his arms in front of him, and the bulge was not
Lieutenant Stein entered the room.
"It's all right," he said. "Captain Von Cromp has given his
consent. If you wish, I will conduct you up."
"Thanks," said Jack, and the two lads followed the officer.
Captain Von Cromp was on the bridge when the two boys emerged
from below, and he walked over to them.
"I regret," he said, "that you should have had to witness what
you have; but it is the fortune of war, you know."
"I have heard that before," said Frank dryly.
"Tell me, would you have blamed us had we put up a more stubborn
fight below a while ago?"'
"No," was the reply. "I could blame you for nothing you did to
an enemy in time of war and especially under such a stress of
Lieutenant Stein bade the boys good-night and went below. After
some further talk, Captain Von Cromp followed him, and the boys
were left alone on the submarine, save for the single man on look
Frank walked up to the latter and engaged him lit conversation.
A few moments later he turned Away, saying to the sailor that he
and his friend "would take a turn or two about before going
Walking swiftly up to Jack, Frank said in a low voice:
"See if you can't find that small boat they used to pick us up."
"What --?" began Jack, but Frank interrupted him.
"Never mind the reason," he said. "Help me find it, that's all.
We'll have to hurry. Where do you suppose they put it?"
A few moments later they came upon the little craft, now above
water, placed where the sea could not reach it when the submarine
was submerged. Luckily it was out of view of the German on the
bridge, and the two lads succeeded in unloosening it and getting
it overboard without being seen.
Then Frank walked quickly back to the spot where the periscope
protruded from below. Opening his coat he took the explosive out
and, drawing a handkerchief from his pocket, tied it to the
diminutive mine and hung the latter on the tube.
"Now for this German," he said to himself. "It wouldn't do for
him to see that before I am ready."
He approached the man once more and asked several questions.
"Well," he said finally, "I guess I shall have to say
The German's reply was choked in his throat. Frank sprang
forward, flung one arm around the man's, neck, and with the other
clutched him by the throat, to prevent an outcry.
Then he freed one arm and struck out heavily. The German fell
without a murmur. Frank ran across the deck to where he had left
"Into the boat quick!" he exclaimed.
Jack needed no further urging. Frank dropped lightly in after
him, and soon they were rowing rapidly away.
"Give me that gun," said Frank after they had pulled some
distance from the submarine.
"What are you going to do with it?" asked Jack.
"I'll show you," replied Frank grimly. "Give me the gun!"
Without another word Jack passed the weapon to his friend.
"Now," said Frank, "lower yourself over the side of the boat and
when I say dive, dive!"
"See here," said Jack, taking Frank by the arm. "Have you gone
crazy? What do you think you are going to do?'
"I don't think anything about it," replied Frank, more quietly
now. "I know what I am going to do."
"Well, what is it then? Out with it."
"Do you see that object hanging to the periscope tube on the
submarine?" asked Frank.
"Yes, I see it. Why?"
"Don't you know what it is?"
"No; what is it?"
"Well, that's the little plaything I found in Lieutenant Stein's
cabin. I'm going to bore a little hole through it with this gun
you were kind enough to get for me."
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed Jack "You'll blow tip the submarine
with all on board!"
"My idea exactly," replied Frank carefully.
"But --" protested Jack.
"The fortune of war, you know," said Frank, with some sarcasm.
"You heard Captain Von Cromp say he wouldn't blame us for
anything we might do. Besides, they didn't give the poor fellows
on that British battleship any warning, did they?"
"No," said Jack, "but --"
"Well, there are no buts here. You climb overboard and get ready
to dive. When this bullet goes through that little plaything
there will be an explosion that will kick up considerable
excitement hereabouts. That's why I asked you if you couldn't
get a rifle. We could have gone a little farther away then."
"Now see here," said Jack. "I guess those fellows have it coming
to them. They don't deserve any better than they will get. As
you say, 'the fortune of war.' I'm not kicking about that. What
I want to know is if you can hit that thing."
"Hit it? Of course I can hit it. You dive when I say the word,
and when you come up, if you do, come up, I'll guarantee you
won't see any submarine."
"But how about you?" demanded Jack. "If I dive before you fire,
how are you going to get away before the explosion?"
"I don't calculate I'll get away before it, but I'll be in the
water the minute I fire. I won't wait to see whether I hit it or
not. However, I'll drop the revolver in the boat, so in case I
miss the first time, it will be dry enough to use again."
"But --" began Jack.
Frank stood up in the boat and pointed the revolver directly at
"No more words," he said quietly. "Are you ready?"
Jack lowered himself over the edge of the boat, still holding to
it with his hands.
"Yes, I'm ready," he said, "but --"
"Then dive!" cried Frank and pulled the trigger.
With a single movement he dropped the revolver into the bottom of
the boat, and plunged deep into the sea himself.
OFF ON A LONG CRUISE
At the very instant the lad disappeared beneath the water there
was a flash of fire above the submarine, followed by a violent
The upper work of X-9 was blown high into the air and came down
in splinters, scattered to the four winds of heaven. The deck
was rent and open up with a great, yawning scam, through which
the ocean rushed, driving the craft below the waves as though it
had been drawn down by some mighty whirlpool. A minute later,
where had been one of Germany's most terrible fighters, there was
only a seething flood of water covered with floating wreckage.
The force of the explosion sent the water spouting high in the
air like giant gushers. The sea boiled and lashed out angrily at
what was left of the German craft. Not a living figure was to be
seen upon the wreckage.
The deadly melinite had done its work.
Beneath the waters of the North Sea, where Frank and Jack had
sought what shelter they could, the water tossed them about at
will, in spite of their frantic efforts to hold themselves steady
and remain below the surface.
Frank, not having time to take such a long breath as Jack,
because of the suddenness with which he had dived, was the first
to come to the surface. He was tossed high on the still angry
waves, but by a Herculean effort, the lad managed to keep his
head above water.
His first thought was of the small boat he had so recently left.
Glancing around, he saw it floating, bottom up, about a hundred
yards away. He swam rapidly toward it; and as he hurried along,
a head suddenly bobbed up directly in front of him.
It was Jack, struggling and gasping. Frank swam rapidly to him,
and lent what assistance he could. Soon Jack was swimming easily
with his friend toward the little upturned boat.
They laid hold of the little craft, and after a struggle,
succeeded in righting it and clambering aboard, where they sat
down, wet and weak, Then, for the first time, Jack turned his
eyes toward the spot where so short a time ago had been the
German submarine. He saw the mass of floating wreckage.
"Gone," he said simply, "and the poor fellows with it." He
turned to Frank. "You certainly did a good job. I never knew
that you were so handy with a gun."
"I am a pretty fair shot," Frank admitted modestly.
"But if you had missed the first time--?" began Jack.
"I couldn't miss," replied Frank quietly. "I knew that before I
pulled the trigger. Some way, I felt certain the bullet would go
true. Why, I hardly even aimed."
"Well," said Jack, "I'm sure I don't ever want you blazing away
"I guess we might as well get away from this spot," said Frank.
"I wonder where we are?"
Jack stood up in the boat and looked long across the sea. Dawn
was just breaking, and in the faint morning light he could see a
"No land in sight," he said finally, and sat down again. "At a
guess, though, I should say we must still be off the coast of
"Yes; but how are we going to tell which way the coast of Holland
"I'm sure I don't know. We'll just have to take a chance at it
till the sun comes up, and then we can get our bearings. We'll
have to be very careful though, for there are likely to be mines
floating about. If we had some oars we could row a bit it would
warm us up."
But no oars were in sight, either near the boat or among the
"They must be at the bottom of the sea," said Frank, in some
despair. "I should have thought to have made them fast."
"Never mind that," said Jack. "The question now is, what are we
going to do?"
"Well, you know as much about it as I do," replied Frank. "What
are we going to do?"'
"It looks to me as though we should have to drift and take a
chance of being, picked up," returned Jack.
"Or be blown up by a floating mine," said Frank.
"That's a chance we shall have to take," said Jack calmly. "You
should have thought of that before you bored a hole through that
mine on the submarine."
Frank did not reply. At length he rose to his feet and took off
his coat. Then he turned to Jack.
"Give me yours," he said briefly.
Jack obeyed without question.
Tying the two coats securely together, Frank loosened one of the
thwarts in the little boat. He pulled some strong string from
his pocket and soon had improvised a little sail. Then tying one
sleeve to a cleat on one side and another sleeve to a cleat on
the other he soon had his sail bellying before the stiff breeze.
"It's pretty low," he said, leaning back and surveying his work,
"but it may move us along a little."
"How do we know we are going in the right direction?" asked Jack.
"We don't; but we might as well be moving as to stay here. We'll
let her have her head and keep her steady as she goes."
Slowly the little craft, before the freshening wind began to make
"This does beat lying still," said Jack. "I don't believe I
would have thought of rigging up such a sail as that."
"I guess you would if I hadn't," replied Frank. "Now you try and
take a little snooze, while I keep a lookout for a vessel of some
"All right; only, you wake me up in a couple of hours and I'll
Frank agreed to this, and Jack rolled over in the bottom of the
boat, where, in spite of his wet clothing and the chilling wind,
he was soon fast asleep. He was completely exhausted, and any
kind of a bed would have felt good to him right then.
Frank, holding the rudder of the boat, sat silent, with his eyes
scanning the distant horizon for the sign of a ship. But his
watch was vain. Not even the smoke of a patrolling vessel did he
see in the distance. His two hours of watch up, he shook Jack
The latter was up in an instant, and soon Frank was occupying his
place in the bottom of the boat.
For an hour Jack scanned the horizon without making out a ship;
then, directly ahead, he saw a cloud of smoke.
"Must be a ship!" he muttered to himself, and turned to arouse
Frank. Then he drew back, muttering: "No, there is no need to
wake him! He's tired out.
Besides, the ship may not sight us, in which case he would be
Slowly the cloud of smoke grew larger, until at length Jack was
certain that the vessel was bearing down on them. As it drew
closer, he saw that the approaching ship was a cruiser; and as it
drew still closer, that it was British.
Then he bent over and aroused Frank.
"Look!" he said, pointing across the water, "what do you think of
Frank was wide awake in an instant
"A British cruiser," he ejaculated, "and coming right toward us.
If she keeps on her course we are sure to be seen."
Frank sprang to the little sail and tore it down. Then each lad
picked up a coat, and standing at his full height, waved the
garment and yelled lustily.
For some moments this was unrewarded. Then the boys saw signs of
excitement aboard the cruiser. and a big gun boomed --
"She's seen us!" cried Frank, and dropped into a seat, laughing
Both lads watched silently the oncoming cruiser.
"Can you make her out?" asked Frank at length.
Jack rose and looked sharply across the water.
"Yes," he said finally. "She is the Cumberland."
A small boat was lowered from the cruiser and put off toward
them. Soon it scraped alongside the boys' craft, and they were
taken aboard where they were received with expressions of great
surprise, both by the officer in command and by members of the
"How did you get away out here?" asked the surprised boatswain.
Briefly Jack explained.
"By Jove!" exclaimed the officer when the lad had concluded his
story. "You certainly have seen excitement. And so you blew up
the German submarine?"
"My friend here did," replied Jack, indicating Frank.
"Sure," said the boatswain, "Captain Marcus will be glad to hear
the yarn. It's a good one you can spin."
The little boat now drew up against the cruise and quickly all
As Jack came over the rail, a man of great height -- fully six
feet five inches -- greeted him. He was smooth-faced and ruddy,
and the fane-anchor on his collar proclaimed him captain.
"Captain Marcus?" queried Jack, as he leaped to the deck.
"At your service," came the reply in a hearty sailor-like voice.
"I am Lieutenant Jack Templeton, scout cruiser Sylph, sir," said
Jack, "and this," turning to Frank, "is Lieutenant Frank Chadwick
of the same vessel."
"What are you doing in a dingy in the middle of the North Sea?"
demanded the captain.
Briefly once more Jack explained.
"The Sylph sunk!" exclaimed Captain Marcus. "And what of my old
friend Lord Hastings?"
"Gone down with his ship, sir," replied Jack, Patiently.
"Hastings dead!" cried the commander of the Cumberland. "It is
"No, sir," said Frank. "It is true."
For a moment the commander bowed his head in reverence. Then he
raised his eyes and looked at the boys.
"He was my very good friend," he said simply, and motioned the
boys to follow him below.
Inside the cabin of the commander of the Cumberland, the captain
motioned the lads to seats.
"Now we shall see what is to be done with you," he said. "At
present, because of the loss of the Sylph, you are, of course,
unattached. How would you like to go with me?"
"Where to, sir?" asked Jack.
"I'll explain," replied the captain. "Until yesterday the
Cumberland was one of the blockading fleet off Heligoland. You
can understand, therefore, that I have already heard of you lads.
I have been ordered to patrol the west coast of Africa, and, if I
mistake not, there will be fighting. I have recently lost two of
my midshipmen through illness. You may have their places. What
do you say?"
Both lads had taken a great liking to Captain Marcus at first
sight, but it was Jack who made answer for both:
"Thank you, sir. We shall be glad to go with you."
PATROLLING THE SOUTH SEA
The boys learned from Captain Marcus that they had reckoned
rightly and that at the moment they were off the port of
"Our course," the captain explained, "will take us through the
English channel into the Atlantic, thence south to the African
coast. How far south we shall go, I cannot say at present."
He called a midshipman to show the boys to the cabin which was to
be their quarters while on the Cumberland. It was very
comfortable, but not much like the one they had aboard the Sylph.
"However," said Jack, "it's plenty good enough for anyone."
For several days the boys were not assigned to duty, Captain
Marcus declaring that they needed, a chance to rest up after
their strenuous experience with the submarine. He introduced
them to all the officers, with whom they speedily became
favorites. It was very evident to both the boys that their
relationship to Lord Hastings was well known to Captain Marcus
and they felt that the many little favors shown them was because
of this. They frequently talked of their former commander and
friend and their hearts were sad at his untimely end.
In spite of their new surroundings, the days that they sailed
southward were somewhat monotonous, and the boys were more than
pleased when the Cumberland put into Lisbon, Portugal, for coal.
Here they were given a day ashore and bought a number of things
that they greatly needed as all their effects had gone down with
Continuing her journey, the Cumberland sailed south through and
past the Tropic of Cancer, almost to the equator, without a sign
of an enemy. It was in fact just a day's sail from the equator
before the Cumberland sighted another ship.
Quickly the wireless was put to working and it was found that the
approaching vessel was the small British cruiser Dwarf. The
cruisers came to anchor a short distance apart and the commanders
of the two ships exchanged visits.
Upon Captain Marcus' return aboard the Cumberland, both ships
immediately got under way, the Dwarf taking the lead.
"Something up!" said Jack to Frank, as they stood leaning over
"You are right," replied Frank, "and I'll bet you a little red
apple I can tell you what it is."
"You can?" exclaimed Jack in surprise. "Let's have it then."
"In my spare moments," explained Frank, "I have been making a
study of the maps and charts. We are now almost in the Gulf of
Guinea. A small but nevertheless very deep, river called the
Cameroon, empties into the gulf. Do you follow me?"
"Yes, but I don't see what you are driving at."
"Well, the Cameroon region is a German possession. Its largest
town, several miles up this navigable river, is Duala, strongly
fortified. This, if I am not badly mistaken, is our objective
"Perhaps you are right," said Jack somewhat dubiously, "but won't
the forts be too strong for the cruisers?"
"Not these, I am sure."
"Well," said Jack, "I hope we see some action soon, whether it is
at Duala, as you call it, or some other place. This is growing
Frank's prophecy proved correct. Even now the Cumberland and the
Dwarf were well into the Gulf of Guinea and making all headway
toward the mouth of the river Cameroon, which point the vessels
reached early the following morning, intending to anchor in the
mouth of the stream.
At the approach of the cruisers, however, a fort guarding the
harbor broke into action.
A few well-directed shots from the big guns of the Cumberland,
and the fort was silenced. Then, instead of coming to anchor,
the cruisers steamed slowly up the river.
Rounding a bend in the stream, Duala could be seen in the
distance; likewise the forts guarding the town, and a bombardment
of the fortifications was at once begun.
The shore batteries promptly returned the fire, but it soon
became apparent that the guns on the ships outranged them.
For several hours the bombardment continued, and then two
merchant steamers were seen making their way from the shelter of
the port directly toward the British ships.
"Wonder what's up now?" said Frank, who at that moment, having
been relieved from duty, stood beside Jack at the rail.
"Don't know," was the latter's brief reply. Nor did anyone else,
so those on board the cruisers watched the movements of the
oncoming steamers with much curiosity.
When the approaching vessels were little more than a mile up the
river they came to a stop. Small boats were lowered over the
sides and put off hurriedly in the direction from which they had
come. Shortly after, a blinding glare rose to the sky, there was
the sound of two terrific reports, one immediately following the
other, and the two steamers slowly settled into the water.
Captain Marcus, on the bridge of the Cumberland, cried out:
"They have blockaded the river!"
It was true. The ruse was plainly apparent now that it was too
late to prevent it. The two sunken vessels made further progress
up the river by the British ships impossible.
"Wonder what we shall do now?" asked Frank.
"Haven't any idea," said Jack briefly.
Night drew on and still the British guns continued to hurl their
shells upon the German town.
With the fall of darkness there came an answer to Frank's
Captain Marcus summoned Frank and Jack.
"The Germans have effectually blocked the river," he told them.
"Therefore we cannot capture the town that way. Because of your
experience, I have called you two lads to undertake a most dan-
"You," pointing to Jack, "will lead 4oo sailors around through
the woods and attack the enemy from the flank. You, Mr.
Chadwick," turning to Frank, "I shall put in command of a fleet
of four small boats, armed with rapid-firers, and it will be your
duty to try and crawl up the river without attracting the
attention of the forts. Attacking from, two sides,
simultaneously, we should take the town. "In the meantime we
shall continue to shell the town, stopping our bombardment at
such a time as I believe you will be prepared for a sudden
attack. Therefore, when you reach your positions, you will not
attack until the bombardment ceases. That shall be your signal.
Do I make myself clear?"
"Perfectly," both lads agreed.
"Good, then. Everything shall be in readiness for you in an
Back to Full Books