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Title: On Land and Sea at the Dardanelles
Author: Bridges, Thomas Charles
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "On Land and Sea at the Dardanelles" ***

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[Illustration: Our splendid Indian troops stood ready at Alexandria to
embark for the Dardanelles.]

ON LAND AND SEA

AT THE

DARDANELLES

T.C. BRIDGES

[Illustration]



CONTENTS


CHAP.

     I. THE OPEN PORT

    II. THE LAST OF THE 'CARDIGAN CASTLE'

   III. THE LANDING

    IV. A RUSE OF WAR

     V. PROMOTION

    VI. GUNS!

   VII. 'LIZZIE' LETS LOOSE

  VIII. THE HUNTERS HUNTED

    IX. THE BATTLE BY ROCKS

     X. PRISONERS

    XI. THE FIRING PARTY

   XII. ABOVE THE NARROWS

  XIII. THE SWEEPERS

   XIV. G 2

    XV. KEN MEETS AN OLD FRIEND

   XVI. TACKLING THE TROOPER

  XVII. THE BOARDING PARTY

 XVIII. RUNNING THE GAUNTLET

  XIX. IN THE NICK OF TIME



LIST OF PHOTOGRAPHS


INDIAN TROOPS AT ALEXANDRIA

A FRIENDLY SALUTE

LANDING PARTY AT SARI BAIR

LANDING ON THE BEACH

AN ADVANCE INLAND

No. 1 FORT AT CAPE HELLES

ASLEEP ON A BED OF LIVE SHELLS

BARBED WIRE FOR BOMBS

THE TRIUMPHANT SUBMARINE

BRINGING IN A TURKISH SNIPER

TURKISH ARTILLERY REINFORCEMENTS

SEA-BATHING

ALLIED HEROES IN PLAY-TIME



At the Dardanelles



CHAPTER I

THE OPEN PORT


'Fun!' said Ken Carrington, as he leaned over the rail of the transport,
'Cardigan Castle,' and watched the phosphorescent waters of the Aegean
foaming white through the darkness against her tall side. 'Fun!' he
repeated rather grimly. 'You won't think it so funny when you find
yourself crawling up a cliff with quick-firers barking at you from behind
every rock, and a strand of barbed wire to cut each five yards, to say
nothing of snipers socking lead at you the whole time. No, Dave, I'll lay,
whatever you think, you won't consider it funny.'

Dave Burney, the tall young Australian who was standing beside Ken
Carrington, turned his head slowly towards the other.

'You talk as if you'd seen fighting,' he remarked in his soft but pleasant
drawl.

Ken paused a moment before replying.

'I have,' he said quietly.

Burney straightened his long body with unusual suddenness.

'The mischief, you have! My word, Ken, you're a queer chap. Here you and I
have been training together these six months, and you've never said a word
of it to me or any of the rest of the crowd.'

'Come to that, I don't quite know why I have now,' answered Ken Carrington
dryly.

Burney wisely made no reply, and after a few moments the other spoke
again.

'You see, Dave, it wasn't anything to be proud of, so far as I'm
concerned, and it brings back the most rotten time I ever had. So it isn't
much wonder I don't talk about it.'

'Don't say anything now unless you want to,' said Burney, with the quiet
courtesy which was part of him.

'But I do want to. And I'd a jolly sight sooner tell you than any one
else. That is, if you don't mind listening.'

'I'd like to hear,' said Burney simply. 'It's always been a bit of a
puzzle to me how a chap like you came to be a Tommy in this outfit. With
your education, you ought to be an officer in some home regiment.'

'That's all rot,' returned Ken quickly. 'I'd a jolly sight sooner be in
with this crowd than any I know of. And as for a commission, that's a
thing which it seems to me a chap ought to win instead of getting it as a
gift.

'But I'm gassing. I was going to tell you how it was that I'd seen
fighting. My father was in the British Navy. He rose to the rank of
Captain, and then had an offer from the Turkish Government of a place in
the Naval Arsenal at Constantinople.'

'From the Turks!' said Burney in evident surprise.

'Yes. Lots of our people were in Turkey in those days. It was a British
officer, Admiral Gamble, who managed all the Turkish naval affairs. That
was before the Germans got their claws into the wretched country.'

'I've heard of Admiral Gamble,' put in Burney. 'Well, what happened then?'

'My father took the job, and did jolly well until the Germans started
their games. Finally they got hold of everything, and five years ago
Admiral Gamble gave up. So did my father, but he had bought land in Turkey
and had a lot of friends there, so he did not go back to England.

'It was that same year, 1910, that he found coal on his land, and applied
for a concession to work it. The Turks liked him. They'd have given it him
like a shot. But the Germans got behind his back, and did him down. The
end was that they refused to let him work his coal.

'Of course he was awfully sick, but not half so sick as when a German
named Henkel came along and offered to buy him out at about half the price
he had originally paid for the place.

'Father had a pretty hot temper, there was a flaming row, and Henkel went
off, vowing vengeance.

'He got it, too. A couple of years later, came the big row in the Balkans,
and the war had hardly started before dad was arrested as a spy.'

'Henkel did that?' put in Burney.

'Henkel did it;' young Carrington's voice was very grim. 'Pretty
thoroughly too, as I heard afterwards. They took him to Constantinople,
and--and I've never seen him since.'

There was silence for some moments while the big ship ploughed steadily
north-eastwards through the night.

'And you?' said Burney at last.

'I--I'd have shared the same fate if it hadn't been for old Othman Pasha.
He was a pal of ours, as white a man as you want to meet, and he got me
away and over the border into Greece. It was in Thrace that I saw
fighting. I came right through it, and got mixed up in two pretty stiff
skirmishes.'

'My word, you've seen something!' said Burney. 'And--and, by Jove, I
suppose you understand the language.'

'Yes,' said Carrington quietly. 'I know the language and the people. And
you can take it from me that the Turks are not as black as they're
painted. It's Enver Bey and his crazy crowd who have rushed them into this
business. Three-quarters of 'em hate the war, and infinitely prefer the
Britisher to the Deutscher.'

'And how do you come to be in with us?' asked Burney.

'I joined up in Egypt,' Carrington answered. 'I went there two years ago
and got a job in the irrigation department. I've been there ever since.'

Again there was a pause.

'And what about Henkel?' asked Burney. 'Have you ever heard of him since?'

'Not a word. But'--Ken's voice dropped a tone--'I mean to. If he's alive
I'll find him, and--'

He stopped abruptly, and suddenly gripped Burney's arm.

'There's some one listening,' he whispered. 'I heard some one behind that
boat. No, stay where you are. If we both move, he'll smell a rat.'

'Well, good-night, Dave,' he said aloud. 'I must be getting below.'

Turning, he walked away in the direction opposite to that of the boat, but
as soon as he thought he was out of sight in the darkness, he turned
swiftly across the deck and made a wide circle.

He heard a rustle, and was just in time to see a dark figure dart forward,
the feet evidently shod in rubber soles which moved soundlessly over the
deck.

He dashed in pursuit, but it was too late. Being war time, the decks were
of course in darkness, and the man, whoever he was, disappeared--probably
down the forward hatch.

Ken came back to Burney.

'No good,' he said vexedly. 'The beggar was too quick for me.'

'Then there was some one there?'

'You bet. I saw him bolt.'

'Any notion who it was?'

Ken hesitated a moment.

'I'm not sure,' he answered in a low voice, 'but I've got my suspicions. I
think it was Kemp.'

'What--that steward?'

'Yes, the chap who looks after the baths.'

'My word, I wouldn't wonder,' said Burney thoughtfully. 'He's an ugly
looking varmint. But why should he be spying on you?'

'Haven't a notion. But I've spotted him watching me more than once since
we left Alexandria. I'm going to keep my eye on him pretty closely the
rest of the way.'

'Not much time left, old son. They say we'll be in Mudros Bay to-morrow
morning.'

'Yes, I heard that. Which reminds me. I'm going down to get a warm bath.
It may be the last chance for some time to come.'

This time Ken Carrington said good-night in earnest, and went below.

It was early for turning in, and nearly all of the troops aboard were
still on the mess deck. Ken got his things from his bag and went down the
passage to the bathroom. The 'Cardigan Castle' had been a swagger liner
until she was impounded by Government to act as troopship, and she was
provided with splendid bathrooms.

Carrington opened the door quietly, and was feeling for the switch of the
electric, when he noticed, to his great surprise, that a port hole
opposite was open.

Needless to say, this was absolutely forbidden. In war time a ship shows
no lights at all, and it is a fixed rule that everything below must be
kept closed and curtained.

Before he could recover from his first surprise he got a second shock. A
tiny pencil of light--just a single beam, no more than a few inches in
diameter--struck through the darkness and formed a small luminous circle
upon the white-painted wall above his head.

It only lasted an instant, then a dark figure rose between him and the
open port, and instantly the beam was intercepted, and all was dark as
before.

Through the gloom he vaguely saw the arm of the man who stood in front of
the port raised to a level with his head, while his hand moved rapidly.

Instantly he knew what was happening. This man was signalling. Carrington
had heard of the German signalling lamp which, by means of ingeniously
arranged lenses, throws one tiny ray which can be caught and flung back by
a specially constructed mirror. That was what was happening before his
very eyes. A glow of rage sent the blood boiling through his veins, and
forgetting all about the switch he sprang forward.

As ill luck had it, there was a wooden grating in the middle of the cement
floor. In the darkness, he failed to see this, and catching his toe,
stumbled and fell with a crash on hands and knees.

He heard a terrified yelp, and the man made a dash past him for the door.

But the door was closed. Carrington had shut it behind him. Before the
fellow could get it open, Ken was on his feet again, and had flung himself
on the signaller.

With a snarl like that of a trapped cat, the man wrenched one arm free.

'Take that!' he hissed, and next instant Ken felt the sting of steel
grazing his left shoulder. The sharp pain maddened him, and his grip
tightened so fiercely that he heard the breath whistle from his opponent's
lungs.

At the same time he flung all his weight forward, and the other, thrown
off his balance, went over backwards and came with a hollow crash against
the door.

The two fell to the floor together, and rolled over, fighting like wild
cats.

Ken's adversary was smaller than he, but he seemed amazingly strong and
active. He wriggled like an eel, all the time making frantic efforts to
get his right hand free, and use his knife again.

But Ken, aware of his danger, managed to get hold of the fellow's wrist
with his own left hand, and held it in a grip which the other, struggle as
he might, could not break. At the same time, Ken was doing all he knew to
get his knee on his enemy's chest.

It was the darkness that foiled him--this and the eel-like struggles of
his adversary. At last, in desperation, he let go with his right hand, and
drove his fist at the other's head. He missed his face, but hit him
somewhere, for he heard his skull rap on the floor, while the knife flew
out of his hand, and tinkled away across the cement floor.

Ken felt a thrill of triumph as he heaved himself up, and getting his
knees on his adversary's chest, seized him with both hands by the throat.

Before he could tighten his grip came a tremendous shock, and he was flung
off the other as if by a giant's hand. As he rolled across the floor,
followed a crash as though the very heavens were falling. The whole ship
seemed to lift beneath him, at the same time stopping short as though she
had hit a cliff.

[Illustration: 'Ken flung himself on the signaller.']

For an instant there was dead silence. Then from the decks above came
shouts and a pounding of feet. Half stunned, Ken struggled to his feet,
and staggered towards the door. As he did so, he heard the click of the
latch, and before he could reach it, it was banged in his face.

Groping in the darkness, he found the handle. He turned it, but the door
would not open. In a flash the truth blazed upon him. He was locked in.
The spy had locked the door on the outside. He was a helpless prisoner in
a torpedoed and probably sinking ship.



CHAPTER II

THE LAST OF THE 'CARDIGAN CASTLE'


Ken's head whirled. For the moment he was unable to collect his ideas. He
stood, grasping the door handle, listening to the thunder of feet overhead
and the shouted orders which came dimly to his ears.

He heard distinctly the creaking of winches, and knew that the boats were
being lowered. His worst suspicions were true; the ship was actually
sinking.

This lasted only a few seconds. Ken Carrington was not the sort to yield
weakly to panic. He pulled himself together, and felt for the switch.

It clicked over, but nothing happened. The shock of the explosion had
evidently thrown the dynamo out of gear. Then he remembered the little
electric torch which he always carried, and in an instant had it out of
his pocket, and switched it on.

He flashed the little beam across the floor, and its light fell upon the
wooden grating over which he had stumbled in his first rush at the enemy
signaller. This lay alongside the bath. It was about six feet long and
made of four heavy slats nailed on a framework.

It took Ken just about five seconds to lay down his lamp and heave up the
grating.

Short as the time had been since the first shock of the torpedo, the ship
was already beginning to list heavily. The floor of the bathroom now
sloped upwards steeply to the door.

The grating was very heavy, but in his excitement Ken swung it up as
though it had been no more than a feather. Balancing it, he charged
straight at the door.

The end of the grating struck the woodwork with a loud crash, but the
result was not what Ken had hoped. Hinges and lock remained firm. One
panel, however, was cracked and splintered.

He retreated again to make another attempt. But the list was growing
heavier every moment. It was all he could do to keep his feet. Ugly,
sucking noises down below told him that the water was rushing in torrents
into the hold of the doomed ship.

There was no question of making a second charge. Balancing himself as best
he could opposite the door, he pounded frantically at the cracked panel,
and at the third blow it broke away, leaving a jagged hole.

But this was not large enough for him to put his head through--let alone
his body. His one chance was that the key might still be in the lock.

Small blame to him that his heart was going like a trip-hammer as he
dropped the useless grating and snatched up his lamp.

The list was now so heavy that he had to cling to the door, as he thrust
his arm through the gap.

A gasp of relief escaped his lips as his fingers closed on the key. It
turned, but even then the door would not open. It was wedged.

Ken made a last desperate effort, and managed to force it open. As he
clawed his way through into the passage, the sea water came bursting up
through the floor of the bathroom behind him.

Somehow he managed to scramble along the passage, and up the companion to
the mess deck. There was not a soul in sight, and the ship now lay over at
such an angle that every moment it seemed as though she must capsize.

Up another ladder. He was forced to go on hands and feet, clinging like a
squirrel. Then he was on the boat deck, in a glare of white light flung on
the sinking ship by the searchlight of a British cruiser which had rushed
up to the rescue.

The sea seemed thick with boats pulling steadily away, and in every
direction the searchlights of the escorting destroyers wheeled and
flashed, as they rushed in circles, hunting for the submarine which had
struck the blow.

But the 'Cardigan Castle' was empty and deserted. With that marvellous
speed which only perfect discipline ensures, every soul had already been
got away into the boats. So far as he could see, Ken was left alone on the
fast sinking ship.

Even so, he was not ungrateful. If he had to perish, it was far better to
drown in the open than to come to his end like a trapped rat down below.

'Ken! Ken!'

Some one came rushing up into the searchlight's glare.

It was Dave Burney.

'I've been hunting the ship out for you,' exclaimed Dave breathlessly.

'I got locked in the bathroom,' Ken answered quickly. 'No time to explain
now. Tell you afterwards. I say, old man, it was jolly good of you to wait
for me, but I'm afraid you've overdone it. All the boats are away.'

'Hang the boats! Here--put this on. Sharp, for she won't last more'n a
couple of minutes.'

As he spoke, he flung Ken one of the life-saving waistcoats which are now
used instead of the old-fashioned lifebelts.

'It's all right,' he added, as he saw Ken glance at him sharply. 'I've got
one, too.'

Ken did not waste a moment in slipping on the queer garment, and blowing
it up.

'This way,' said Dave, as he scrambled up the steep deck to the weather
rail. Ken followed, and they had barely reached the rail when the big
liner rolled slowly over on to her side.

Dave sprang out on to her steel side which was now perfectly level.

'Hurry!' he shouted. 'She'll pull us down if we're not clear before she
sinks.'

He sprang out into the water. Ken followed his example, and the two
paddled vigorously away. Luckily for them, the ship did not sink at once.
She lay upon her beam ends for four or five minutes, and gave them time to
get to a safe distance. They were perhaps forty yards away when there came
a loud, hissing, gurgling sound.

'She's going!' cried Ken. Turning, he saw her stern tilt slowly upwards.
Then, with hardly a sound, the fine ship slid slowly downwards, and a
minute later there was no sign of her except a great eddy in which swung a
tangled mass of timber, lifebelts, canvas chairs, and all sorts of
floating objects from the decks.

[Illustration: 'He sprang into the water.']

'The brutes!' growled Dave. 'This means that the Turks have got
submarines.'

'I doubt it. That was probably the work of an Austrian or German craft.
Well, thank goodness, they only got the ship and not the men.'

'Ay, we'll get our own back for this before we're through,' growled Dave.
'My word, but it's cold! Hope they're not going to be long picking us up.'

'No. Here comes a boat,' Ken answered, as the searchlight showed a boat
pulling hard towards them. A couple of minutes later they were hauled
aboard, and in a very short time found themselves on the British destroyer
'Teaser.'

'Any more of you in the water?' asked her commander, Lieutenant Carey, a
keen, hard-bitten young man of about twenty-eight.

'No, sir, I think not,' Ken answered. 'I believe every one else got off in
the boats.'

'Yes, I don't think our German friends have much to boast of,' said the
other with a smile. 'We can build fresh ships all right, and so far as I
know they haven't got a single man. But you fellows look perished. Down
with you to the engine-room. Coxswain, get out some lammies for them, and
see they have cocoa.'

'Ay, ay, sir,' answered the coxswain.

But Ken paused.

'I have a report to make before I go below, sir.'

The commander looked a little surprised.

'All right. But quick about it. You'll be a hospital case if you stick
about in those wet togs much longer.'

Ken wasted no time in telling what he had seen in the bathroom of the
'Cardigan Castle,' just before she was sunk.

Commander Carey listened with interest.

'Who was this fellow?' he demanded.

'I never saw his face, sir, but by his voice I am pretty sure he was Kemp,
a steward.'

'Hm, it was rotten bad management, allowing a fellow like that to be
aboard a transport,' growled Carey. 'Very well, Carrington, I shall report
the matter at once by wireless, and if he is aboard any of the other
ships, you may be sure he'll be attended to. And I congratulate you on
getting out alive. Now go below and get a warm and a change. I'll land you
and your friend in Mudros Bay if I can, and if I have other orders I'll
tranship you.'

Feeling very shivery and tired, Ken was escorted below to the genial
warmth of the engine-room, where he found Dave already changed, and
engaged in putting away a great mugful of hot Navy cocoa.

The coxswain, big Tom Tingle, fished him out a suit of lammies, the warm
gray woollen garments which are the regular cold weather wear of the
British Navy, and, as soon as he had got into them, put a mug of steaming
cocoa into his hands.

[Illustration: A friendly salute in passing.]

[Illustration: The landing party at Sari Bair reached the beach covered by
the fire of their own guns.]

'Prime stuff, ain't it, Ken?' said Dave, and Ken, as he felt the grateful
warmth creeping through his chilled frame, nodded. Then he and Dave were
given a couple of blankets apiece, and with the beat of the powerful
engines as a lullaby were soon sleeping soundly.

When they awoke, the gray dawn light was stealing through the hatch
overhead, and the smart little ship lay at anchor, rocking peacefully to
the lift of a gentle swell.

'Rouse out, you chaps,' came Tingle's voice. 'Rouse out, if you want some
breakfast. The old man's going to put you aboard the 'Charnwood' to finish
your voyage. You'll find some of your pals in her, I reckon.'

'Did they get the submarine?' was Ken's first question.

Tingle's honest face darkened.

'No, by gosh. She slipped away in the dark, and never a one of us set eyes
on her. What are ye to do with a thing like that? It's like trying to
tackle a shark with a shot gun.'

'Here's your khaki,' he continued, 'dry and warm. Shift as sharp as ye
can. The old man, he don't wait for nobody.'

Ken and Dave changed in quick order, and as soon as they had finished were
conducted for'ard for breakfast. Biscuit, butter out of a tin, sardines,
and cocoa. War fare, but all the best of its kind, and the boys did
justice to it.

The 'old man'--that is, Commander Carey--was on the bridge when they came
on deck. He greeted them kindly, and Ken ventured to ask if anything had
been heard of Kemp.

'Not a word,' was the answer. 'He's not been picked up, so far as any one
knows. Probably he's food for the fishes by this time. Well, good-bye to
you. Wish you luck.'

'Thank you, sir,' said Ken and Dave together. Then they were over the side
into the collapsible, and were pulled straight across to the wall-sided
'Charnwood' which lay at anchor less than half a mile away.

Mudros Bay, which is a great inlet in the south of the island of Lemnos,
was alive with craft of all sorts. Warships and transports by the dozen,
British and French, were lying at anchor in every direction, and in and
out among them, across the brilliant, sunlit waters, dashed picket boats
and all sorts of small craft.

'My word, this looks like business!' said Dave, as he glanced round at the
busy scene.

'It does,' agreed Ken. 'Last time I was here, there were two tramps and an
old Turkish gunboat. Not a darned thing else.'

A couple of minutes later they were alongside the big 'Charnwood,' to be
greeted with shouts of delight from a number of their Australian comrades
who were leaning over the side.

They said good-bye to the destroyer men who had ferried them across, and
climbed the ladder to the deck, where they were immediately surrounded and
smacked on the back, and generally congratulated. The two were very
popular with the whole of their battalion, and their comrades were
unfeignedly glad to find that they had not lost the number of their mess.

Pushing through the throng, they went aft to report themselves to their
commanding officer, Colonel Conway. He had, of course, already heard of
Ken's adventure with the spy in the bathroom, but took him aside to get
further particulars.

'No, nothing has been heard of him,' he said. 'I do not think it possible
that he can have been picked up.

'And yet,' he added, 'that's odd, for he must have had plenty of time to
get on deck, and, so far as we can learn, we have not lost a man.'

'Do you think the submarine could have picked him up, sir?'

'Not a chance of it. She went under the very moment she had fired her
torpedo. If she had not, the destroyers would have got her.'

'I ought to have got Kemp, sir,' said Ken, rather ruefully.

'You did your best, Carrington,' the other answered kindly. 'And you are
to be congratulated that Kemp did not get you.'

Ken went back to join his friends forward, and answer a score of questions
as to the struggle in the bathroom. By the remarks of his companions who
had, one and all, lost everything they possessed, except what they stood
up in, it was clear that Kemp, if still alive, would stand a pretty thin
chance should any of these lusty Australians set eyes on him again.

There was no shore leave. No orders were out yet, but the rumour was
everywhere that they were to sail that very day.

Presently a tug came alongside with fresh provisions. She also brought a
quantity of rifles and ammunition to replace those lost in the sunken
'Cardigan Castle.' Spare uniforms, overcoats, and other kit were also put
aboard, and shared up among the shipwrecked troops.

'The old country's waked up this time,' said Dave to Ken, as he tried the
sights of a new rifle. 'There's stuff ashore here for an army corps, they
tell me. It's no slouch of a job to fit us all out fresh in a few hours.
They'd never have done it in the Boer War.'

'My dear chap, the Boer War was child's play compared with this. Willy has
set the whole world ablaze. All the same, I agree with you that England is
getting her eyes open at last. But it's a pity the people at home didn't
realise first off that forcing the Dardanelles was almost as important as
keeping the Germans out of Calais. If they'd sent us here two months ago
instead of fooling round trying to get warships through the Straits, the
job would have been done by now. As it is, they've given the Turks a
chance to fortify all the landing places, and I'll bet they've done it
too.'

'What sort of landing places are they?' asked Dave.

'Just beaches--little bays with cliffs behind them. And the cliffs are
covered with scrub, and so are the hills inland. Ideal ground for the
defence, and rotten to attack.'

'You talk as if you'd been there?'

The speaker was a big, good-looking young New Zealander, with a face burnt
almost saddle colour by wind and sun. His dark blue eyes gleamed with a
merry, devil-may-care expression which took Ken's fancy at once.

'Yes, I've been there,' Ken answered modestly, and was at once surrounded
by a crowd all eager for any information he could give. Luckily for him,
at that very minute some one shouted.

'We're off, boys. There's the signal to weigh anchor.'

Instantly all was excitement; the cable began to clank home, smoke poured
from the funnels, and in a very short time the whole fleet of transports
was moving in a long line out of the harbour, escorted by a bevy of busy,
black destroyers.

As the 'Charnwood' passed into her place, the men lined the sides and
cheered for all they were worth.

'What day is this?' said Ken to Dave, as the big transport passed out of
the mouth of the bay.

'Friday, the twenty-third,' was the answer.

'Twenty-third of April,' said Ken. 'St. George's Day. Then I tell you
what, Dave, this is going to be a Sunday job.'

'You mean we'll be landed on Sunday?'

Ken nodded.

'That's about it,' he answered.



CHAPTER III

THE LANDING


'Hallo, what's up?' asked Dave Burney. 'We're off again.'

It was the night of Saturday the 24th of April. For the greater part of
the day the 'Charnwood' had been lying off Cape Helles, which is the
southernmost point of the Gallipoli Peninsula, while the people listened
to the thunder of guns, and watched the shrapnel bursting in white puffs
over the scrub-clad heights of the land.

Now, about midnight, she had got quietly under way, and was steaming
steadily in a nor'-westerly direction.

'What's up?' Dave repeated in a puzzled tone. 'This ain't the way to
Constantinople.'

'Don't you be too sure of that, sonny,' remarked Roy Horan, the big New
Zealander who was standing with the two chums at the starboard rail. 'We
ain't going home anyhow. I'll lay old man Hamilton's got something up his
sleeve.'

'That's what I'm asking,' said Dave. 'What's the general up to? So far as
I can see, there are only three other transports going our way. The rest
are staying right here. What's your notion, Ken?'

'I don't know any more than you chaps,' Ken answered. 'But I'll give you
my opinion for what it's worth. I think we're going to do a sort of flank
attack. The main landing will probably be down here at the Point. Then
when the Turks are busy, trying to hold 'em up, we shall be slipped in
somewhere up the coast so as to create a sort of diversion.'

'What--and miss all the fun!' exclaimed Dave in a tone of intense disgust.

'You won't miss anything to signify,' Ken answered dryly. 'There are more
than a hundred thousand Turks planted on the Peninsula, and you can bet
anything you've got left from the wreck that there isn't one yard of beach
that isn't trenched and guarded.'

'Where do ye think we'll land?' asked Horan eagerly.

Ken shrugged his shoulders. 'Haven't a notion,' he said. 'There are a lot
of small bays up the west coast. Probably we shall nip into some little
cove not very far up. There's a big ridge called Achi Baba which runs
right across the Peninsula about four miles north. It'll be somewhere
behind that, I expect. But mind you, this is all guess work. I don't know
any more than you do.'

'You know the country anyhow,' said Horan. 'And that's worth a bit. See
here, Carrington, if we can manage it, let's all three stick together. We
ought to see some fun--what?'

Ken laughed. 'I'm sure I'm agreeable. But you see we're not in the same
regiment. You're New Zealand, Dave and I are Australians. Still, I dare
say we shall all be pretty much bunched when it comes to the fighting.'

Dave, who had been peering out into the night, turned to the others at
this moment.

'Yes, there are only four transports altogether in our lot, and so far as
I can make out three battleships and four destroyers taking care of us.'

'Now, you men, come below and turn in,' broke in a voice.

It was their sergeant, O'Brien, who had come up behind them.

'Oh, I say, sergeant, can't we stay and look at the pretty scenery?' said
Roy Horan plaintively.

'No, ye can't,' was the gruff retort. 'Orders are that all the men are to
turn in and take what rest they can. Faith, it's mighty little slape any
of ye will get, once you're ashore. Go down now and ate your suppers and
rest. I'm thinking ye'll be taking tay with the Turks before you're a dale
older.'

'Are we going to land, sergeant?' asked Horan eagerly.

'Am I your general?' retorted O'Brien. 'Get along wid ye, and if ye want
to know what it is we're going to do, faith ye'd best go and ask the
colonel.'

Orders were orders. The three obediently went below, and, although at
first he was too excited to sleep, Ken soon dropped off, and never moved
until he felt a hand shaking him by the shoulder.

'Up wid ye, lad,' said O'Brien's voice in his ear, and like a shot Ken was
out of his blanket and on his feet.

The screw had ceased to revolve. The ship lay quiet, rocking ever so
lightly in the small swell. There was not a light to be seen anywhere, yet
all was bustle, and the very air seemed charged with a curious thrill of
excitement.

According to orders, Ken had lain down, fully dressed, with all his kit
ready beside him. Within a very few moments he was equipped and ready.
Then he and his companions were ordered down to the lower deck where the
electrics were still burning, and there hot coffee and bread and butter
were served out. Also each man received rations for twenty-four hours.

Officers passed among the men, scrutinising their equipment with keen
eyes, and presently Colonel Conway himself came along.

He glanced round and his eyes kindled as they rested on the ranks of long,
lean colonials.

'Men,' he said, and though he hardly raised his voice it carried to the
very ends of the big flat. 'You know as well as I do what you have been
training for during the past six months. The day you have been waiting for
has come. See that you make the most of it. Speed and silence--these are
the qualities required of you to-night. The boats are waiting.'

Ken repressed with difficulty a violent desire to cheer. Next moment came
a low-voiced order from his company commander, and he found himself one of
a long line hurrying up the companion to the deck.

There was no moon, but the stars were bright, and it was not too dark to
see the cliffs that seemed to rise abruptly out of the sea, about half a
mile away to the eastward. They, like the ships, were dark and silent.

Without one unnecessary word, the troops dropped quietly down the ladder
into the waiting boats, and presently were being pulled rapidly inshore.
Boat after boat came stealing out of the gloom, all loaded down to the
gunwales with fighting men, yet all moving with a silence that was
positively uncanny. The oars were carefully muffled and no one spoke
aloud.

Dave sat next to Ken, but Horan was not with them. He had been ordered
into another boat with his company.

Dave put his mouth close to Ken's ear.

'Don't believe there's a Turk in the country,' he muttered. 'Looks to me
as peaceful as a picnic'

'Looks are precious deceitful sometimes,' Ken whispered back. 'For all you
or I know, that brush is stiff with the enemy.'

'Then why don't they fire at us?'

'A fat lot of good that would be in this light. No, Dave, they know their
job as well as we do, and perhaps better. I shall be pleasantly surprised
if we're allowed to land without opposition.'

But the boat neared the shore, and still there was no sign from those
silent cliffs and thickets. As soon as her bow grated on the shingle, the
men were out of her, wading knee deep to the shore. They were as eager as
terriers. The only anxiety of their officers was lest they should get out
of hand and start before the order to advance was given.

Boat after boat glided up, and men by scores formed up at high tide mark.

'Told you we'd fooled 'em,' whispered Dave. 'This is going to be one o'
your bloodless victories.'

The words were hardly out of his mouth before there was a loud hissing
sound, and right out of the centre of the precipitous slope facing them
something like a gigantic rocket shot high into the air and burst into a
brilliant white flame.

It lit up the whole beach like day, throwing up the long lines of troops
in brilliant relief. Next instant there was a crash of musketry, and
rifles spat fire and lead from a long semicircle behind the spot from
which the star shell had risen.

The man next but one to Ken threw up his arms and dropped without a sound.
A score of others fell.

'Gee, but you were right, Ken!' muttered Dave. 'Fix bayonets!' Colonel
Conway's voice rang like a trumpet above the crackle of the firing.

Instantly came the clang of steel as the bayonets slipped into their
sockets. Men were falling fast, but the rest stood straining forward like
greyhounds on a leash.

'Not a shot, mind you. Give 'em the steel. At the double. Advance!'

Almost before the words were out of his mouth the whole line rushed
forward. A second star shell hissed skywards, but before it broke the men
had reached the base of the cliff. Its white glare showed the long-legged
athletes from the sheep ranges and cattle runs sprinting up the steep
hill-side.

The enemy rifles rattled in one long, terrible roll. Men dropped by dozens
and scores. Some fell where they lay, others rolled helplessly back down
the steep slope to the beach. But those left never paused or hesitated.
They scrambled desperately upwards through the pelting storm of lead,
guided by the flashes from the muzzles of the Turkish rifles.

Ken was conscious of nothing but a fierce desire to get to close quarters,
and he and Dave Burney went up side by side at the very top of their
speed.

Before they knew it, a dark hollow loomed before them. A rifle snapped
almost in Ken's face--so close that he felt the scorch of the powder.
Without an instant's hesitation he drove his bayonet at a dark figure
beneath him, at the same time springing down into the trench. The whole
weight of his body was behind his thrust, and the Turk, spitted like a
fowl, fell dead beneath him.

[Illustration: 'He drove his bayonet at a dark figure.']

With an effort he dragged the blade loose. Only just in time, for a burly
man in a fez was swinging at his head with a rifle butt. Ken ducked under
his arm, turned smartly and bayoneted him in the side.

The whole trench was full of struggling men. The Turks fought well, but
good men as they are, they were no match for the long, lean six footers
who were upon them. Inside three minutes it was all over. Most of the
Turks were dead, the few survivors were prisoners.

'Lively while it lasted,' panted Dave's voice at Ken's elbow.

'You, Dave. Are you all right?'

'Lost my hat and my wind. Nothing else missing so far as I know. Are you
chipped?'

'Not a touch. But keep your head down. This is only the first act. There's
another trench above this one.'

During the struggle in the trench the firing had ceased entirely, but now
that it was over a pestilence of bullets began to pour again from higher
up the slope, and Ken's warning was useful--to say the least of it.

'What comes next?' asked Dave, as the two crouched together against the
rubbly wall of the trench.

'Get our second wind and tackle the next trench,' said Ken briefly.

His prophecy was correct. A couple of minutes later the order was passed
down to advance again.

In grim silence the men sprang out of their shelter and dashed forward.
There were no more star shells, but from up above began the ugly knocking
of a quick-firer. It sounded like a giant running a stick along an endless
row of palings, and the bullets squirted like water from a hose through
the thinning ranks of the Colonials.

It was worse than the first charge, for not only was the slope steeper,
but the face of the hill was covered with low, tough scrub, the tangled
roots of which caught the men's feet as they ran, and brought many down.
The result was that the line was no longer level. Some got far ahead of
the others.

Among the leaders were Ken and Dave, who struggled along, side by side,
still untouched amid the pelting storm of lead.

But although the ranks were sadly thinned, the attackers were not to be
denied. In a living torrent, they poured into the second trench.

There followed a grim five minutes. The Turks who were in considerable
force, made a strong effort to hold their ground, shortening their
bayonets and stabbing upwards at the attackers. It was useless. The
Australians and New Zealanders, savage at the loss of so many of their
comrades, fought like furies. Ken had a glimpse of a giant next him,
literally pitchforking a Turk out of the trench, lifting him like a gaffed
salmon on the end of his bayonet.

It was soon over, but this time there were very few prisoners. Almost
every man in the trench, with the exception of about a dozen who had
bolted at the first onset, was killed.

'That's settled it,' said Dave gleefully, as he plunged his bayonet into
the earth to clean it from the ugly stains which darkened the steel.

'That's begun it,' corrected Ken.

'What do you mean?'

'That we've got to hold what we've won. You don't suppose the Turks are
going to leave us in peaceful possession, do you?'

'I--I thought we'd finished this little lot,' said Dave rather ruefully.

'My dear chap, I've told you already that Enver Bey has at least a hundred
thousand men on the Peninsula. By this time the news of our landing has
been telephoned all over the shop, and reinforcements are coming up full
tilt. There'll be a couple of battalions or more on the top of the cliff
in an hour or two's time.'

'Then why don't we shove along and take up our position on the top?'

'We're not strong enough yet. We must wait for reinforcements. If I'm not
mistaken the next orders will be to dig ourselves in.'

'But we are dug in. We hold the trench.'

'Fat lot of use that is in its present condition. All the earthworks are
on the seaward side. We have little or no protection on the land side.

'Ah, I thought so,' he continued, as the voice of Sergeant O'Brien made
itself heard.

'Dig, lads! dig! Make yourselves some head cover. They'll be turning guns
on us an' blowing blazes out of us as soon as the day dawns.'

Blown and weary as they were, the men set to work at once with their
entrenching spades. It was in Egypt they had learnt the art of
trench-making, but they found this rocky clay very different stuff to
shift from desert sand.

The order came none too soon, for in a very few minutes snipers got to
work again. There were scores of them. Every little patch of scrub held
its sharpshooter, and although the darkness was still against accurate
shooting there were many casualties.

'They're enfilading us,' said Ken. 'They've got men posted up on the cliff
to the left who can fire right down this trench. It's going to be awkward
when daylight comes.'

It was awkward enough already. The Red Cross men were kept busy,
staggering away downhill with stretchers laden with the wounded. There was
no possibility of returning the enemy's fire, and in the darkness the
ships could not help. All the Colonials could do was to crouch as low as
possible, flattening themselves against the landward wall of the trench.

'Those snipers are the very deuce, sergeant.'

The voice was that of Colonel Conway, who was making his way down the
trench, to see how his men were faring.

'They are that, sorr,' replied O'Brien. ''Tis them over on the bluff to
the left as is doing the damage. I'm thinking they've got the ranges
beforehand.

As he spoke a man went down within five yards of where he stood. He was
shot clean through the head.

'It's Standish,' said Ken. And then, on the spur of the moment,--

'Sergeant, couldn't some of us go and clear them out?'

There was a moment's pause broken only by the intermittent crackle of
firing from above.

'Who was that spoke?' demanded Colonel Conway.

'I, sir,' answered Ken, saluting. 'Carrington.'

'Aren't you the man who knows this country?'

'I have been in the Peninsula before, sir.'

'Hm, and do you think you could find those snipers?'

'I do, sir.' Ken spoke very quietly, but inwardly he was trembling with
eagerness. Was it possible that his impulsive remark was going to be taken
up in earnest?

The colonel spoke in a whisper to O'Brien, and the sergeant answered. Then
he turned to Ken.

'You may pick three men and try it. You'll have to stalk them, of course.
If you can't reach them come back. No one will think any the worse of you
if you fail.'

'Thank you, sir,' said Ken, his heart almost bursting with gratitude. His
chance had come, and he meant to make the most of it.



CHAPTER IV

A RUSE OF WAR


'Dave, will you come?' said Ken.

'Will a terrier hunt rats?' was Dave's answer.

'And I want Roy Horan, sergeant, if he's alive. He's a New Zealander.'

'Pass the word for Horan,' said the sergeant, and the whisper went rapidly
down the long trench.

'Who'll be the fourth?' Ken asked of Dave.

'Take Dick Norton. He's a Queensland ex-trooper. He's been in with the
black trackers, and moves like a dingo.'

'The very man,' said Ken. 'Where is he?'

Norton, as it happened, was only a few yards away. He came up eagerly, a
slim, dark man with keen gray eyes and a nose like a hawk's beak.

A moment later, and Roy Horan's giant form came slipping rapidly up to the
little group, and Ken at once explained what was wanted.

'Carrington, you're an angel in khaki,' said Horan rejoicingly. 'I'm your
debtor for life.'

'Which same will not be a long one if ye don't kape that big body o'yours
under cover,' said O'Brien dryly, as a bullet, striking the parapet,
spattered earth all over them.

'Have ye revolvers?' he asked of Ken.

None of them had, but these were at once provided, together with plenty of
ammunition.

'Ye'd best lave your rifles,' said O'Brien. ''Tis a creeping, crawling job
before ye, and the lighter ye go, the better. At close quarters the
pistols will do the job better than anything else ye can carry. Now get
along wid ye. The sky's lightening over Asia yonder, and 'tis small chance
ye'll have if the dawn catches ye.'

'Lucky beggars!' growled a big Tasmanian, as they passed him on their way
to the north end of the trench. All their comrades were consumed with
envy, but like the good fellows they were, they only wished them luck.

A few moments later they had all four crawled out of the trench, and
bending double were making steadily uphill towards the spot from which the
enfilading fire proceeded.

'We'll go straight,' whispered Ken. 'Less risk, really, for they'll be
shooting over our heads.'

There was plenty of cover, for the whole of the steep hill-side was dotted
with thick bunches of dense scrub. Barring a chance shot from up above,
there was not much risk for the present. That would come later, when they
reached the nest of snipers. For the present the great thing was to keep
their heads down and escape observation.

Nearer and nearer they came to the spot whence the flashes darted
thickest, and all the time the bullets whirred over their heads. At last
Ken was able to see through the gloom a low parapet of earth which was
evidently the front of a regular rifle pit.

He stopped and beckoned to the others to do the same.

'There must be at least half a dozen of them,' he whispered, 'and very
likely more. You chaps wait here under this bush while I go forward. No,
you needn't grouse, Dave. I'm not going to do you out of your share. All I
want is to make out which side it will be best to make our attack. I'll be
back in a minute.'

He crept forward, and as he did so there was a sudden lull in the firing.
For a moment he feared that the men in the pit had spotted him or his
companions, and he flattened himself breathlessly on the ground.

Next moment he heard a voice. Some one in the rifle pit was speaking.

'I would that they would hasten with that ammunition,' said the man
speaking in the Anatolian dialect, which Ken could understand fairly well.
'Allah, but these infidels take lead as though it were no more than
water!'

'They are brave men, Achmet,' answered another, 'but even so they will not
stand when Mahmoud brings up the guns. Then, as the German says, we shall
sweep them back into the sea from which they came.'

'Guns!' muttered Ken. 'This is news.' He lay still and listened eagerly.

'Does the German himself bring the guns?' asked the first speaker.

'He does, brother. They are two of the best which were sent from
Constantinople to Maidos. Most like, they are already in position on the
heights above us, ready to rain their shrapnel upon the unbelievers.'

Ken had heard enough. This was news which the colonel must learn at once.
Snipers were bad enough, but if the two German 77-millimetre field-pieces
were got into position, the trench would be untenable. He waited only long
enough to get the lie of the land around the rifle pit, then crept quietly
back to his companions.

It took him just about thirty seconds to tell them what he had heard.

'And one of you must go back and tell the colonel,' he added.

There was silence. Not unnaturally no one volunteered.

'It's up to you, Norton,' said Ken.

'Why not rush the pit first?' suggested Norton, 'then we could all go back
together.'

'Or all stay here,' answered Ken. 'No, I'm frightfully sorry, Norton, but
you're the best scout of the lot of us, and the most likely to get back
safely. You must go and tell the colonel.'

Norton was too good a soldier to argue. With a sigh he turned about and
vanished in the gloom.

'And now for the rifle pit,' said Ken. 'We must go up on the right-hand
side, and take it from the rear. As I've told you, the fellows holding it
are out of cartridges. If we can get in on 'em quietly, before they can
use their bayonets, we ought not to have much trouble.'

Ken's heart beat hard as he led the way to the rifle pit. The thought that
his colonel had given him a job on his own filled him with pride, and
though he was nothing but a private leading two other privates, he felt
like a captain with a company behind him.

The critical moment came as they reached the front of the pit, and had to
swing off to the right. There was little or no cover, and it was necessary
to crawl flat on their stomachs. To make matters worse, the ground was
rough and stony, and every time a pebble rolled, Ken's heart was in his
mouth.

But the snipers were keeping no sort of watch. Of course none of them had
the faintest notion that any enemy was nearer than the trench, quite a
couple of hundred yards away. As they snaked along, the attacking party
could hear them talking in the low, measured tones peculiar to the Turk.

At last Ken gained his vantage point. He paused and drew his revolver. The
others did the same.

Ken sprang to his feet, and with two bounds was in the pit.

There were five men there, and the attack took them utterly by surprise.
Before they knew what was happening two were pistolled and one knocked
silly by a blow from the butt of Horan's revolver. The two others fought
gamely, but they were no match for the three Britishers. In less time than
it takes to tell they were both laid out.

[Illustration: Stores, horses, and munitions were being landed on V.
beach.]

[Illustration: Magnificent work was done by the landing parties in their
advance inland.]

'Hurrah!' cried Horan gleefully.

'Shut up, you ass!' snapped Ken. 'Do you want to bring every Turk within
half a mile down on us. Look out. There's one chap moving. Tie him up,
and, Dave, gather their rifles. I must go through their pockets. There's
always a chance of useful information.'

'Lively now!' he added. 'They were expecting ammunition, and we shall have
visitors in pretty short order.'

'My word, here they are already,' muttered Dave Burney. 'Half a dozen of
'em.'

Ken looked up quickly. A number of figures were just visible, coming along
the ridge to the right.

'There are more than half a dozen,' he whispered sharply. 'More like
double that number. And that looks like an officer with them.'

'We'd best make ourselves scarce,' suggested Dave quietly.

'Too late for that,' answered Ken. 'They're bound to see us. Besides, if
they find the pit empty they'll only put fresh men here, and all the work
will be to do again.'

'Let's tackle 'em then,' said Roy Horan recklessly.

'Odds are too long,' replied Ken. He paused a moment, and glanced round.

'I've an idea,' he said swiftly. 'I believe we can fool them. Quick! Take
the coats off the dead men, and put them on. Their fezzes, too. In this
light they'll never know the difference.'

'But if they talk to us?' objected Roy.

'Then I'll talk back. I know the language.'

As he spoke, Ken was swiftly stripping one of the dead Turks of his
overcoat. The others did the same, and within an incredibly short time all
three were wearing dead men's clothes. The coats sat oddly on their long
frames, but fortunately there was as yet very little light, and in the
gray gloom they presented a tolerable resemblance to the late tenants of
the rifle pit.

They had hardly completed the change when the officer who was leading the
party reached the edge of the pit.

'Why are you not firing?' he demanded, and by his harsh guttural voice Ken
knew him at once for a German.

'We are out of ammunition,' he answered readily.

'Schweine Hund! Do you not know enough to say "Sir" to an officer when he
addresses you?'

'Your pardon, sir,' said Ken gruffly. 'The light is so bad, and my eyes
sting with the powder smoke.'

'They will sting worse if you do not mend your manners,' retorted the
German brutally.

Ken, boiling inwardly, had yet wisdom enough to hang his head and make no
reply.

'How many are there of you in the pit?' continued the officer.

'Only three, sir,' Ken answered.

'You will retire to higher ground and construct a new pit. This position
is required for a mitrailleuse. You understand, blockhead?'

'Yes, sir.'

The officer turned to the men behind him.

'Bring up the gun,' he ordered.

'Come on,' said Ken to Dave in the lowest possible whisper. He climbed
quietly out of the hollow as he spoke, and the two others followed.

'Up the hill there--by those bushes,' said the German curtly. 'And be
sharp. Ammunition will be brought you. Understand, your work is to command
the beach and prevent supplies being brought to those dogs in the
trenches.'

'So that's the little game, is it?' said Roy, as the three gained the
shelter of a patch of scrub out of sight of the German. 'A quick firer to
enfilade the trench, and snipers for the beach. Say, Carrington, can't we
do anything to put the hat on that Prussian Johnny's scheme?'

'We've got to,' Ken answered quickly. 'Once they get that quick-firer
posted, it's all up with our lads down below. They'll rake the trench from
end to end.'

'Let's wait till it's in place, and rush it,' suggested Horan recklessly.
'We ought to be able to wipe out the gun crew before they nobble us.'

'What's the use of that?' retorted Ken. 'It's the gun itself we want to
wreck--not the crew. They can easily get a score of men to work the Q.-F.,
but it would take some time to get another gun. Jove, if I only had just
one stick of dynamite.'

[Illustration: '"How many are there of you in the pit?"']

'But they had no dynamite, and the outlook seemed extremely gloomy. Worst
of all, it was rapidly getting light, and although a mist hung over the
sea and the shore, this would no doubt melt away as soon as the sun was
well up.

Shots came from a patch of scrub behind and above them, whistling over
their heads, and evidently directed at the boats which were bringing
ammunition and reinforcements from the ships.

Ken crouched lower, and as he did so some bulky object in the pocket of
the Turkish overcoat which he was wearing made itself felt. He slipped his
hand in and drew out a black metal globe, about the size of a cricket
ball. It had a length of dark cord-like stuff projecting from a hole in
it.

It was all he could do to repress a yell of delight.

'What luck!' he muttered. 'Oh, I say, what luck!'

'What the mischief have you got there?' inquired Dave. 'What is it?'

'A bomb. One of the German hand grenades. Quick! See if there are any in
your pockets?'

Hastily the others thrust their hands into their pockets and each hand
came back with a similar bomb.

'That settles it,' said Ken happily. 'Two for the men, and one for the
gun. We've got 'em now--got 'em on toast.'

As he spoke he crept out of the bush, and took a cautious peep in the
direction of the rifle pit.

'They're just setting the gun up,' he muttered. 'And the German beggar has
gone back the way he came. So far as I can see, there are not more than
four or five men with the gun.'

'That's all right,' said Roy Horan in a tone of considerable satisfaction.
'What do we do, Carrington--just wallop these grenades in on top of 'em?'

'No, they're not percussion--worse luck! We've got to light the fuses
before we chuck them. That's awkward for two reasons. They may see our
matches, and then we've got to be pretty nippy about using them. If we're
not, it's we who'll get the bust up--not the Turks.'

'Sounds, interesting,' remarked Roy coolly. 'See here, Carrington, the
best thing, so far as I can see, is for us to slip down to our old place,
right under the parapet of the pit. That's our only chance of getting to
close quarters.'

'A frontal attack,' put in Dave. 'What price our heads if they start
shooting off the gun?'

'They probably won't start until they have light enough to see where
they're shooting,' returned Ken. 'Horan's notion is all right. Come on.'

'But mind you,' he whispered urgently, 'we must keep one bomb for the gun.
You'd best throw yours first, Horan, and as soon as it's gone off, let 'em
have it with your pistol. Then, if there are any of 'em left, you whack
yours in, Dave.'

He crept away, the others followed, and a few moments later they found
themselves crouching close together under the low parapet of the rifle
pit. There was light enough for them to see--just above their heads--the
ugly gray muzzle of the mitrailleuse peeping out through an embrasure in
the earthen bank.

All of a sudden, without the slightest warning, a tongue of flame spat
from the muzzle, and with a deafening rattle a hail of bullets sprayed out
over their heads, directed at the trench a bare two hundreds yards away.

'Quick!' cried Ken. 'We must stop that,' and with all speed he pulled out
his match-box. The crackle of the firing drowned his words, but that did
not matter. The others understood.

Ken struck a match, and Roy held out the fuse of his bomb. Luckily there
was no wind. The fuse caught and instantly began to hiss and splutter.

With reckless disregard for danger, Roy sprang upon the parapet. Ken had
one glimpse of the tall figure towering over him, one hand raised high
overhead.

Then the arm flashed forward as Roy dashed the grenade full into the
centre of the pit.

There followed a stunning report--a noise so loud that Ken felt as though
his very ear-drums were cracked. At the same time Horan staggered back off
the parapet, and the quick-firer ceased firing.

'Now, yours, Dave,' said Ken, and without delay Dave lobbed his grenade,
the fuse of which Ken had already lighted, into the pit.

But by this time the survivors from the first explosion had pulled
themselves together and collected their wits. Before the second grenade
could explode, it was hurled back. It went right over Dave's head and
rolling down the hill exploded with a deafening roar.

On top of the grenade three burly Turks came leaping out of the pit and
fell on Ken and Dave.

Ken just managed to get out his pistol in time, and his first shot
finished the leader of the three Turks. But a second man came at him with
a clubbed musket, and Ken only saved his skull by a rapid duck.

'Dog!' roared his assailant, as he made another savage swing.

Ken leaped away, and the Turk overbalanced himself with the force of his
blow. Before he could recover Ken's heavy revolver barrel crashed upon his
skull and felled him like a log.

Ken glanced across at Dave, and saw him kneeling on the chest of the third
Turk, his long fingers gripping the man's throat. Just beyond, Roy,
recovering slowly from the stunning effect of his own bomb, was scrambling
dazedly to his feet.

Farther off, he heard the sound of running feet. It was clear that the
sound of the two explosions had aroused the suspicions of some supporting
party. Reinforcements were coming up at the double.

If the gun was to be put out of service this would have to be done
quickly. Without a moment's delay he sprang over into the pit.

The place was a regular shambles. Ken was amazed at the ruin wrought by
the one small bomb. Three men lay dead in the bottom. One had his head
almost blown off. Fortunately, perhaps, Ken had no time to dwell on such
horrors. With all possible speed he got the remaining bomb out, and with a
handkerchief tied it to the breech of the quick-firer.

Then he lighted the fuse, and waiting only long enough to see that it was
burning properly, made a wild leap out of the pit.

'It's all right. I've fixed the gun. Come on, you chaps,' he said sharply
to the others.

The words were hardly out of his mouth before a flash of flame rose from
the pit and the loud report of the last bomb sent the echoes flying along
the cliffs. Fragments of the broken gun shot high into the air, the pieces
falling in every direction.

'That's done the trick,' said Dave gleefully.

'Don't talk. Come on. There's a big party of Turks coming up. Are you game
to run, Horan?'

'You bet. I'm all right now. But those bombs are oners. I never reckoned
such a small thing would make such a dust up. Gosh, it nearly blinded me,
and my head still rings like a bell.'

Ken did not answer. All his energies were needed to steer a course through
the scrub which covered the steep hill-side. The morning mist lay thick
and clammy. It was impossible to see more than a few yards ahead, and it
would be the easiest thing in the world to miss the way back to the
trench, and either go over the steep edge to the beach or get in among the
enemy snipers to the left.

'Look out!' cried Roy Horan suddenly, and as he spoke four men rose up out
of the thick scrub right in their path. And one of them was a German
officer, the very same whom they had encountered twenty minutes earlier.

'Stop!' he snarled. 'Stop, you fools. Where are you going?'



CHAPTER V

PROMOTION


The officer was armed with a repeating pistol while his men all had
rifles. For the moment Ken was filled with wonder as to why they had not
at once used their weapons.

Then he remembered. It was their Turkish greatcoats which had saved them.
In the dim light the German still took them for Turkish soldiers.

But discovery could only be a matter of a few seconds. Even as he watched,
he saw suspicion dawn in the pig-like eyes of the Prussian.

'At 'em!' roared Ken, and without an instant's hesitation flung himself
upon the officer.

The man tried to fire, but Ken caught his wrist in time, and closed. The
two wrestled furiously together, the German breathing out savage threats
in his own language.

He was not tall, but a stocky, powerful man, and it was all Ken could do
to hold his own. Vaguely he heard shouts and shots, and knew that Dave and
Roy were hotly engaged with the three Turks. But he had no attention to
spare for them. All his energies were needed to cope with his own
opponent.

Ken's first object was to deprive the other of his pistol, and he forced
the man's right arm back with all his strength. Stamping and panting, the
two worked gradually back down the slope until they had passed the clump
of scrub from behind which the German had appeared.

Ken, though breathing hard, was still cool and collected, while the
German, on the other hand, had utterly lost his temper. His big heavy face
was a rich plum colour, and the breath whistled through his teeth.

At last Ken gained his first object. His fierce grip upon the German's
wrist paralysed the muscles of the man's hand, and the pistol dropped from
his nerveless fingers.

Instantly Ken tightened his hold, and tried to back-heel his adversary.
Before he could succeed in this manoeuvre, he felt the ground crumbling
beneath his feet.

It was too late to do anything to save himself. Next moment the earth gave
way and he and the German, locked in one another's arms, went flying
through the air.

Followed a crash and a thud, and for some moments Ken lay stunned and
breathless, though not actually insensible.

In boxing there is nothing more painful than a blow on the 'mark.' It
knocks all the breath out of the body, and for some time the lungs seem
paralysed. This was practically what had happened to Ken. He had fallen
full on his chest, and though his senses remained clear enough, he simply
could not get his breath back.

When at last he succeeded in doing so he felt as weak as a cat, and deadly
sick into the bargain. It was some moments before he could even manage to
roll off the body of the man beneath him.

He struggled to his feet and found that he was at the bottom of a bluff
about twenty feet high. To the right was a sheer drop to the sea. He
shivered as he glanced over to the fog-shrouded waves, full eighty feet
below. The ledge on which he had landed was only four or five yards wide.
A very little more, and he and his enemy together must have gone clean
over the cliff.

He turned to the German. The latter lay still enough--so still that at
first Ken thought he was dead. But presently he saw that the man was still
breathing.

'A hospital case,' muttered Ken in puzzled tones. 'What the mischief am I
to do with him?'

'Ken--Ken, where are you?'

The anxious question came from overhead, and glancing up Ken saw Dave
Burney's head appearing over the edge of the bluff.

'I'm all right,' he answered. 'What about you?'

'We've nobbled our little lot,' Dave answered with justifiable pride. 'My
word, but I'm glad to see you. I thought you'd gone right over into the
sea.'

'I wasn't far off it,' said Ken. 'I say, is there any way up to the top
again. This is nothing but a ledge?'

'Can't you climb the bluff. It's not so steep a little way to your right?'

'I could, but my German friend isn't exactly in climbing trim. He's rather
badly bust up by the look of him.'

Dave glanced round.

[Illustration: '"My German friend isn't exactly in climbing trim."']

'It looks to me as if the ledge you're on broadens a good bit to my left.
You wait where you are, and Roy and I will come round and give you a
hand.'

Dave's head disappeared, and Ken sat down, with his back against the
bluff. He had had a bad shake up, and was glad of a few moments' rest. He
was quite safe where he was, for the bluff protected him from stray
Turkish bullets.

Down below, through the mist, boats were shooting landwards from the
transports, bringing more men, stores of all kinds, ammunition, and
materials for setting up a wireless installation. He saw that they were
under constant fire from the snipers on the cliffs above, and though for
the moment the haze protected them, the mist was fast rising. It was going
to be precious awkward when the full light came.

In a much shorter time than he had expected, his two companions appeared
in sight around the curve of the ledge. In the dawn light he could see
that their khaki was torn and covered with stains, while their faces were
scratched and bleeding. But both were in splendid spirits.

'My word!' exclaimed Roy. 'This is what you might call a night out with a
vengeance.'

'The night's all right,' returned Ken, 'but it's getting a jolly sight too
near day to suit me. If we don't get back to our trench before this fog
goes we shall be a target for half the Turkish army.'

'It's not far,' said Dave consolingly.

'Far enough, by the time we've carried in this Johnny,' replied Ken,
pointing to the German.

Dave looked doubtfully at the corpulent form of the Prussian.

'He's not exactly a featherweight, by the look of him. However, here
goes.' He stooped as he spoke and took the officer by the shoulders.

'Catch hold of his legs, Roy,' he said to Horan. 'No, Ken,' as Carrington
stepped forward, 'you've done your bit. Roy and I will tote your stout
prisoner back.'

'First, take off those Turkey carpets you're wearing,' said Ken quickly.
'If you don't, it's our chaps will fill you with lead.'

They all peeled off their Turkish overcoats, then carrying the German they
started along the ledge. Rounding the curve, Ken found that the ledge
widened and merged in the scrub-clad slope opposite the head of the little
bay.

He stopped and glanced round. The Turkish snipers were still busy, and the
sharp crack of cordite echoed from scores of different hiding-places along
the hills. He and his companions had about one hundred and fifty yards to
go before reaching the trench held by their battalions, and the light was
growing stronger every moment.

In spite of his anxiety to bring in his prisoner, it seemed clear that the
risk was too great. Their only chance of crossing the open in safety was
to duck and crawl.

'It's no use,' he said regretfully. 'We'll have to leave this chap behind.
We'll all be shot as full of holes as a sieve if we try to carry him.'

'Rats, Carrington!' retorted Roy Horan. 'Go home without our prisoner?
Never! Besides, the Turks won't shoot their own officer. Come on, Dave,'
he said, and before Ken could say another word the two were off as hard as
they could go, carrying their heavy burden.

Ken had many doubts as to the Turks refraining from shooting, for fear of
hitting the German. In fact, knowing as he did the feeling which existed
between the bullying Prussian and the placid Turk, he rather thought the
case would be exactly the opposite.

Whatever the reason, at any rate they had covered nearly half the distance
before they began to draw fire. Then bullets began to ping ominously
close, and little jets of dust to rise from the dry soil all around them.

Suddenly Ken's hat flew from his head, and as he stooped quickly to
recover it, the fat German gave a yell like a stuck pig, and kicked out so
convulsively that his bearers incontinently dropped him.

In an instant he was on his feet, and running like a rabbit, at the same
time giving vent to a series of sharp yelps like a beaten puppy.

'The blighter! He was shamming!' roared Roy, darting off in pursuit,
regardless of the bullets.

'It was a bullet woke him up anyhow,' exclaimed Dave, as he scurried
after.

The Prussian was beside himself with pain. He had been shot through one
hand, and there is no more agonising injury. He ran blindly, and as it
chanced almost in a straight line for the trench.

A score of heads popped up to see what was happening, and when their
owners realised the truth a roar of laughter burst out all down the
trench.

It was not until the German was on the very edge of the trench that he
realised where he was. He spun round to bolt.

But Roy was at his heels.

'No, ye don't, fatty,' said the big New Zealander, and catching the man by
the scruff of the neck, gave him a tremendous push which sent him flying
over into the trench. Roy sprang down after him, and a moment later, Dave
and Ken hurled themselves into cover.

'Is it steeplechasing ye are, or what fool's game is it ye are playing?'
demanded Sergeant O'Brien, while the rest shrieked with laughter.

'He--he's my prisoner,' panted Ken. 'And--and, sergeant, did Norton get
back?'

'He did. Come along wid ye, and make your report to the colonel.'

Colonel Conway, who had been on foot all night, was taking a few minutes'
much needed rest in a rough dug-out. But at sight of Ken, he was on his
feet again in a moment.

'I am very glad to see you, Carrington,' he said cordially. 'I had begun
to be afraid that you and your companions would not get back. And yet I
knew you had succeeded in your enterprise, for the enfilading fire ceased
very shortly after you left.'

Standing at attention, Ken gave his report. He made much of the doings of
Dave and Roy, but modestly suppressed his own. The colonel, however, was
not deceived.

'You have done very well indeed,' he said, with a warmth that brought the
colour to Ken's cheeks. 'Your destruction of the machine gun was a
particularly plucky and useful piece of work. I shall see that your
conduct and that of all your companions is mentioned in the proper
quarter. Meantime, you are promoted to corporal.'

Ken's heart was very nearly bursting with pride.

'Thank you, sir,' he said with a gulp, and saluting again turned away.

The colonel stopped him.

'You had better get some food,' he said. 'We shall be moving out of this
very shortly.'

'Faith, ye didn't do so badly after all, lad,' said O'Brien. 'Ate quickly
now, for I'm thinking 'tis us for the top of the cliff before we're a dale
older.'

Bread, bully beef, and a drink of water out of their bottles. That was the
simple bill of fare. But Ken's exertions during the night had put a sharp
edge on his appetite, and he enjoyed the plain meal.

The fog was fast disappearing under the rays of the newly risen sun, and
the firing grew heavier every minute. The hills all round were alive with
snipers, but their fire was directed not so much on the trench held by the
Australians as on the boats which were landing reinforcements on the beach
below.

It was in the boats and on the beach that the casualties were heaviest.
The troops that were landed had to run the gauntlet for fully fifty yards
before reaching the cover of the scrub on the cliff, and matters were
worse still for the bluejackets pulling the empty boats back to the ships.
They were potted at without a chance of returning the enemy fire.

But they stuck it out finely, and already all the wounded had been taken
off, while reinforcements had reached the upper trench, sufficient in
number to make up for the first losses.

'What's the colonel waiting for?' asked Dave. 'Why don't we go on up and
smoke out those blighted snipers?'

'It's ammunition, I fancy. And there's a couple of maxims coming up. We
shall need those if we have to dig ourselves in under fire.'

'More digging--oh, Christmas!' growled Dave. 'I didn't come here to dig. I
could do that in my old dad's garden at home.'

Ken chuckled. 'You'll find the spade'll do as much to win this war as the
guns and rifles. There's heaps of trenching in store for us, I can tell
you.'

There was some delay about the maxims, and time went on without any order
to move. The men began to grumble. It was hard indeed to lie and watch
their comrades below being picked off, one after another, by these
abominable sharpshooters, without a chance of hitting back.

'Look at that!' growled Roy Horan, pointing to a stalwart bluejacket who
had just dropped at his oar as the boat pushed off the beach. 'It's
murder! That's what it is. Sheer murder! Why the blazes can't the ships
turn loose?'

'Because they've got nothing to fire at. You can't chuck away 6-inch
shells on the off chance of killing one sniper. You wait until the Turks
appear in force. Then you'll see what naval guns can do.'

'I don't believe the swine will ever appear in force,' said Roy, who had
lost all his good humour and was looking absolutely savage. 'It breaks me
all up to see our chaps shot down like rabbits without a chance of getting
their own back.'

There was worse to come. From somewhere high up among the scrub-clad
heights came a dull heavy crash, and almost instantly the clear air above
the beach was filled with puffs of gray white smoke which floated like
balls of cotton wool.

'The guns! The beggars have got those guns up,' ran a mutter along the
trench.

'About time for the ships to get to work,' growled Roy, his big handsome
face knitted in a scowl.

'Ay, if they only knew where the guns were,' replied Ken. 'But that's the
deuce of it. They can't spot 'em without planes, and there are no planes
here yet.'

Crash! A second gun spoke, and another shell burst above the beach. From
that time on the firing was continuous. The whole beach was scourged with
shrapnel, and landing operations became perilous in the extreme.

The men in the trenches fidgeted and swore beneath their breath. There is
nothing more trying to troops than to see their comrades suffering and yet
be unable to help them.

'Can't we do something?' muttered Dave, as he saw a boat from one of the
ships smashed to matchwood by a blast of shrapnel, and her crew and
contents scattered into the sea. 'Can't we do something? It's enough to
drive one loony to watch this sort of thing.'

Almost as he spoke there was a sudden flutter of excitement, as an order
was passed from man to man down the trench.

They were to advance and take up a new position on the top of the slope.



CHAPTER VI

GUNS!


There was no bugle note, no cheer, but at a whistle the men swarmed out of
their trench and went uphill as hard as every they could go.

Their appearance was the signal for a tremendous outburst of firing on the
part of the Turkish snipers, and a moment later the two 77-millimetre
German guns which had been brought from Gaba Tepe changed the direction of
their fire from the beach to the advancing troops.

As the Australians went bursting through the scrub, snipers who had crept
in close during the night and hidden in the bushes and behind rocks broke
like rabbits out of gorse when the terriers are put in.

They were hunted down remorselessly, and not one of them escaped. Those
who were not killed outright were taken prisoners.

It was very fine while it lasted, and the men would have given anything to
go on. But Colonel Conway knew the risk too well, and as soon as they had
gained the summit of the cliff whistle signals from the sergeants stopped
them, and the order came to dig themselves in with all speed.

It is one thing to occupy a trench already made, quite another to dig one
under fire. There is no question of standing up and wielding the shovel as
if one were digging a garden. Men must lie down and scratch and scrape
until they get head cover, then gradually open up a narrow ditch into
which they sink slowly.

'I didn't enlist as a blooming navvy,' grunted Roy Horan, who had stuck by
Ken and Dave. 'Phew, but it's hot as a North Island beach on Christmas
Day!'

As he spoke came an earth-shaking thud, and Ken, who was next to Roy,
grabbed him by the collar and pulled him down flat on the ground.

Just in time, too, for next instant the earth three yards away in front
burst upwards in a fountain of stones and pieces of broken steel. Ken felt
a blast of heat and stinging sand across the back of his neck, while the
concussion made his head ring.

'What the blazes?' muttered Roy, as he lifted his head and looked round
dazedly.

'It was blazes all right,' answered Ken dryly. 'A high explosive shell, my
lad. Lucky that it went pretty deep before it burst.'

'And lucky for me that you pulled my head down in time,' answered Roy
soberly. 'Thanks, old man. I shan't forget that.'

The next shell burst behind the line, and the third still farther back.
Fortunately for the Australians, the German gunners had not got the exact
range, or the losses would have been fearful. High explosive of the kind
the Germans use will pulverise the parapet of a trench and kill every one
within reach.

The ground was hard, the sun hot, but the men dug like beavers, and within
an hour had made themselves pretty safe. But there was no letting up.
Colonel Conway insisted upon a regular trench of the latest pattern with
proper traverses, and deep enough to give plenty of head room. The men
grumbled, but some, like Ken, realised that the game was well worth the
candle.

'He's looking for an attack in force later on,' Ken told Dave and Roy
Horan. 'You may be jolly sure that the Turks are bringing up
reinforcements.'

'There are quite enough of the beggars already,' said Dave. 'Just listen
to the bullets coming over. That scrub in front of us fairly hums with
snipers.'

By the time that the trench was finished it was nearly midday. The men
were given a rest, and dinner was served out. In spite of the enemy's fire
the Army Service men had managed to bring their stores right up to the
trench, and there was fresh bread, butter, cheese, and jam for the hungry
fighters.

Down below, engineers were at work, making a path up the cliff, while
boats travelled up and down with a dogged and admirable persistence.

The enemy fire in front of the new position grew steadily heavier. If a
cap was put up on a cleaning rod over the parapet, it was sometimes struck
by two or three bullets at once. It seemed clear that the Germans who led
the Turks were concentrating their forces in front of the trench, but
whether they were new men or not it was impossible to say. The broken
nature of the ground and the heavy scrub hid all that was going on a very
little way inland.

'This is getting a bit thick,' said Roy Horan, as a fresh crackle of rifle
fire burst from a wooded height about a quarter of a mile inland. A maxim
carefully emplaced behind sandbags in the trench replied with a storm of
bullets, but it was a poor job, firing at an enemy who were quite
invisible, and a feeling of slight depression had begun to settle on the
occupants of the trench.

'The colonel's having a pow-wow with the other officers,' said Dave.
'Something's going to happen before long.'

Something did happen. Presently the whistles trilled, and a sigh of relief
went up.

'Cold steel, bhoys,' said Sergeant O'Brien. 'Don't any of ye wait to
shoot. And open order, mind ye!'

Eagerly the men scrambled out of their trench and plunged into the scrub.
In a long yet level line they went charging through it.

The snipers had not expected another advance. That was clear enough. By
twos and threes and dozens, they sprang up out of their hiding-places, and
bolted like rabbits. With exulting shouts the Colonials charged after
them, ran them down and bayoneted them.

The slaughter was fearful. As the khaki-clad line swept onwards they left
the ground behind them thick with dead bodies. They themselves lost, of
course, but only slightly. Their attack was such a complete surprise, and
they moved so quickly, that for a time they had matters all their own way.
The Turks had no relish for bayonet fighting, and the few who did turn to
bay soon paid the penalty.

For a quarter of a mile or more the Colonials continued their career,
clearing the whole of the scrub of the plague of snipers. Then, just in
the moment of victory, came such a blast of firing that the whole line
reeled and swayed, and men fell by the dozen.

'Down with you!' shouted Ken to Dave, who was on his left. 'Down with
you!'

As he spoke, he himself dropped behind a boulder which thrust its
weather-stained head out of the thin grass. He glanced round and saw that
his companions had followed his example.

A bullet struck the stone just above his head and spattered off in a
shower of shrieking fragments. The whole air was thick with lead. It was
clear that they had run into a very strong enemy force, no doubt the
reinforcements which had been brought up from the east.

'Where are they?' sang out Dave, who was lying in a little hollow with Roy
Horan, a few yards to their left.

'There's a ravine ahead. That's where they are. Look out! Here they come!'

The hill-side opposite seemed suddenly to vomit men. They came sweeping
out in masses, hundreds strong.

'Rapid fire!' sang out Ken to his squad.

There was no need for his advice. Every man of the Colonials let loose at
once, and few fired less than fifteen aimed rounds to the minute. The
execution was awful. The attacking force reeled and writhed like a monster
in agony.

But the officers behind, in their ugly greenish-gray German uniforms,
drove them forward, and though the leading files fell by scores the rest
swept onwards. To his dismay, Ken saw more pouring out behind in support.
The odds were at least ten to one. It was impossible to withstand such an
attack in the open.

Colonel Conway knew it too. Next moment the whistles shrilled again,
giving the order to retire.

Slowly the men began to fall back. Their steadiness was wonderful. Raw
troops can be trusted to charge, but, as a rule, it takes veterans to
retire successfully. These Australians, hardly one of whom had ever been
under fire before the previous night, retreated in such magnificent order
as made their officers' hearts thrill with admiration.

Every bit of cover was made full use of, the men dropping and firing, then
rising again, and gliding back to the next stone or bush. They lost, of
course--lost heavily--but for each Australian who fell, four Turks went
down.

Ken, dodging and shooting with the best, still managed to keep an eye on
his two friends, and saw with relief that neither was hit. Slowly they
worked back until they were within fifty yards of their trench.

Here was open ground with practically no cover at all.

'Come on!' shouted Ken. 'A last sprint.'

He saw Dave spring to his feet and make a dash. Then suddenly he stumbled,
flung out his arms and fell flat on his face. At the same moment two
Turks, big, black-bearded fellows, came leaping out of a patch of scrub,
barely twenty yards behind Dave.

Ken spun round, and taking quick aim at the nearest, pulled the trigger.
There was no report. He had finished the last cartridge in his magazine.

There was no time to reload. Dave, hurt but not killed, was trying to
crawl away on hands and knees, but it was clear that in another moment he
would be a prisoner.

Without an instant's hesitation, Ken charged straight at the two Turks.

They, intent on their prisoner, failed to see him until he was almost on
them. Then one, uttering a hoarse cry, sprang forward, stabbing at him
with his bayonet.

Ken's blade clashed against the other's as he parried, then side-stepping
like a flash, he drove his bayonet into the man's ribs, and with a choking
sob he fell dead.

Something whizzed past Ken's head, and a heavy blow on the left shoulder
brought him to his knees. The second Turk had struck at him with his rifle
butt, and missing his head, caught him on the shoulder. He saw a savage
grin on the man's face as he raised his rifle again to finish the job and
avenge his comrade. It looked all odds on Ken's brains being scattered the
next instant.

Before the rifle could descend a shadow flashed across, and something
crashed upon the Turk's head with such fearful force as cracked his skull
like an egg-shell. For a moment his body remained upright, then it swayed
and fell sideways like a log to the ground.

'Gosh, but I thought I was too late!' panted Roy Horan. 'And confound it
all, I've cracked the stock of my rifle.'

'You saved my head from being cracked anyhow,' answered Ken. 'But Dave's
hit. Give us a hand back with him.'

'I'll carry him,' said Roy quickly, and dropping his useless rifle, he
quickly hoisted Burney on his broad back, and set off at a run for the
trench. Ken, whose shoulder felt quite numb, followed, and a moment later
all three tumbled safely back into the trench.

Roy laid Dave down gently on the ground.

'Afraid he's got it bad,' he whispered, as he pointed to an ugly stain on
the back of Dave's tunic. 'We must get the doctor as soon as we can.'

'Let's see if we can't stop that bleeding. The doctor's full up with
work.' As Ken spoke, he bent down and began stripping off Dave's uniform,
so as to get at the wound.

Tunic and shirt were both sodden with blood. Ken's heart sank. It looked
as if his chum must have been shot clean through the body.

'He's bleeding like a pig,' muttered Roy, as he unwound a bandage.

By this time Ken had bared Dave's back, and with a handkerchief mopped
away the blood.

'Well, I'm blessed!' he exclaimed. 'Look at that!'

The two stared, for instead of the blue-edged puncture which a bullet
makes as it enters, there was nothing but a shallow cut about three inches
long.

'I see,' said Ken suddenly. 'The bullet struck the leather of his braces,
and glanced. I say, Dave, old chap, you may thank your stars for those
bullock-hide braces of yours. They've saved you this time, and no mistake.
It's only a flesh wound which a strip of plaster will put right in a day
or two.'

'Thanks be for that, anyhow,' said Dave earnestly. 'It would have broken
me all up to lose the rest of the fun. But,' he added thoughtfully, 'I'm
sorry my braces are gone up. I'll never get another pair like 'em.'

Roy burst out laughing.

'You ungrateful beggar. Here, I've got a bit of string, and we'll soon put
'em to rights. Now Carrington, let's have a squint at your shoulder.'

Ken's shoulder was badly bruised, but nothing worse, and he and Dave soon
forgot their injuries in the excitement of a big frontal attack by the
Turks. For ten minutes they loaded and fired until their rifle barrels
were almost red hot; then the survivors of the attacking party took to
their heels and ran.

After that there was peace for a little except for shell fire. This,
however, grew heavier. Fresh guns had been brought up, and at least three
were devoting their whole attention to the trench. They had got the range,
too, and the shrapnel was bursting right over the gallant Colonials.
Casualties became very heavy, and the doctor and stretcher-bearers were
kept busy the whole time.

To make matters worse, another machine gun had been mounted on rising
ground to the north and its fire was enfilading the trench. If it had not
been for the traverses on which the colonel had insisted, the position
would have become untenable.

Ken, flattened against the clay face of the trench, began to feel very
uneasy. They had no more reinforcements, and if the Turks got more guns,
it began to look as though the whole business would end in failure.

'About time we did another sally to look for that machine gun,' said big
Roy Horan in his ear.

'Not in the daylight,' answered Ken, shaking his head. 'We shouldn't have
a dog's chance of reaching it.'

'Well, something's got to happen pretty soon,' answered Roy, ducking, as a
shell burst almost overhead. 'Something's got to happen, or there won't be
enough of us left to hold this blessed dug-out.'

'Things don't look healthy, and that's a fact,' allowed Ken. 'Our only
chance is to get some guns to work. And that's just what we haven't got.'

'And can't get, either, until that path up the cliff is finished.'

At that moment a shell pitched full into the next traverse, blowing its
two occupants to fragments, and scattering their torn remains far and
wide.

'That's poor old Carroll,' growled Roy. 'The swine! How I'd like to get
back on 'em!'

Ken did not reply. The horror of it had made him feel quite sick.

At that moment the firing burst out more hotly than ever. It seemed as if
every gun and rifle in the enemy's hands spoke at once.

'What's up now?' muttered Roy.

Ken gave a sharp exclamation, and pointed upwards. Looking up, Roy saw a
big bi-plane soaring high overhead. It looked like a silver bird as it
skimmed across the rich blue of the afternoon sky.

'Hurrah, a plane at last!' said Ken joyfully. 'That means business. She's
spotting for the ships,' he explained. 'You'll see something pretty soon,
you chaps, or hear it anyhow.'

All around the plane, the air was full of the white puffs of bursting
shrapnel, but the dainty man-bird flirted through them unscathed. The
eager Australians, all staring skywards, saw her bank steeply, and at the
same time a long white streak shot downwards from her, like a ribbon
unrolling in mid air. Then she had turned and was going seawards again at
a terrific speed.

'Now look out!' cried Ken, and almost as the words left his lips the
battleships outside let loose.

A score of 6-inch guns spoke out at once with a ringing clamour which
absolutely drowned all other sounds, and their great 100-pound shells came
hurtling inland with a series of long-drawn shrieks.

'Look! Look!' cried Ken again, as great fountains of earth and gravel
spurted from the side of a hill a mile and a half away to the left. That's
plastering them. Now we're getting a little of our own back.'

There was no doubt about it. The German guns shut up like a knife, but
whether they were actually hit or merely silenced, it was, of course,
impossible to say.

For twenty solid minutes the grim battleships and cruisers poured forth
their storm of shells, until the whole hill-side where the German guns had
been posted gaped with brown craters. Then they ceased, and the saucy
aeroplane came buzzing inland again to observe and report upon the damage
done.

What its extent was the Colonials could not, of course, know, but at any
rate the enfilading guns remained silent and the worst danger was at an
end.

'That's saved our bacon,' said Ken, with a sigh of relief. 'We'll get a
little rest now, perhaps.'

'Maybe ye will, and maybe ye won't,' said Sergeant O'Brien, who came past
at that moment and overheard Ken's words. 'But if ye want forty winks,
bhoys, now's your time to snatch 'em. There'll be mighty little slape this
night for any of us.'

'Why so, sergeant?' asked Dave.

[Illustration: '"Hurrah, a plane at last!" said Ken.']

'Because so soon as ever it's dark we'll have the Turks buzzing round us
like bees. And the ships can't help us then, remember,' he added
significantly.



CHAPTER VII

'LIZZIE' LETS LOOSE


Sergeant O'Brien was soon proved a true prophet. Darkness had hardly
fallen before the scrub in front was alive with Turks, who came on with a
rush, intent on driving the Colonials out of their position.

'Steady, boys!' cried the sergeant. 'Don't fire till ye can see them. Let
every cartridge tell.'

Every officer and every non-com. down the long length of the trench was
giving the same advice, and the Turks were allowed to approach until their
squat forms loomed clear in the starlight.

'Now let 'em have it. Pump it into 'em, lads!' came O'Brien's voice again.

With one crash every rifle spoke at once, and at the same time the maxims
turned loose their hose-pipe streams of lead. The Turks seemed to melt and
vanish under the concentrated storm of fire. Not one reached the trench.

'Socked 'em that time,' remarked Dave, with great satisfaction.

'Sure, that was only the overture!' answered O'Brien. 'They were just
thrying their luck, so to spake.'

Again he was right. As soon as the survivors of the first attack had
retreated the air became thick with the shriek and moan of shrapnel, and
the vicious whizz of Mauser bullets. This went on for nearly an hour, then
a second attack materialised.

It was in heavier force than the first, and though the steady fire of the
Colonials did tremendous execution, some of the Turks actually reached the
trench and came plunging in, stabbing wildly with their short bayonets.

Not one of them ever got out again, but they did a good deal of damage,
and during the lull that followed the stretcher-bearers were busy. Five
separate times during the hours of darkness did fresh masses of Turks
sweep down upon the worn and weary Colonials, and twice parties of the
latter counter-attacked and drove the survivors helter-skelter before
them.

'Jove, I never was gladder to see daylight,' said Ken hoarsely, as a pale
yellow light began to dim the stars. His eyes stung with powder smoke, his
mouth was sour with fatigue, and every muscle in his body ached.

'Well, lad, we've made good, anyway,' said O'Brien with a smile on his
blackened face. 'Just take a peep over, and see what ye can see.'

Ken raised his head cautiously and peered through the embrasure in front.
The sight that met his eyes was a terrible one. The scrub for nearly a
hundred yards in front of the trench had almost vanished. It had been
literally mown down by the storm of bullets which had raged across it all
night long. And all the open space was paved with the bodies of dead and
wounded men. There were hundreds of them, some on their faces, some on
their backs, most of them still enough, a few trying to crawl away, and
others moaning feebly.

It was a horrible sight, and for the moment Ken felt almost sick.

'They'll not thry it again just yet,' said O'Brien quietly. 'The next
attack will be one in force, and for that they'll need more men than
they've left here.'

'And we'll be ready for them then, eh, sergeant?' said Roy Horan
cheerfully. 'There's more than ourselves been busy during the night.'

As he spoke he pointed over in the other direction, and Ken, with
difficulty withdrawing his eyes from the scene of slaughter in front,
looked back down the cliff.

A cry of delight escaped him. A regular road had been made, curving all
the way up the cliff, and two field guns had been brought up, and set in
position. In spite of the enemies' fire, all sorts of stores had come
ashore in the night, and the camp cooks were already busy preparing
breakfast.

It was the first hot meal that any of the men had had for thirty-six
hours, and it did them all the good in the world. When it was over they
were told to take what sleep they could.

Ken and his two chums needed no second order. They simply pitched
themselves down, and no one ever slept better on a spring mattress than
Ken did in the muddy bottom of that trench.

What woke him at last was a crash which made the solid hill-side quiver,
and dwarfed to insignificance anything that he had previously heard.

In a flash he was up and on his feet.

'Go aisy, lad,' said O'Brien, who was standing up, with a pair of glasses
to his eyes and a smile on his lips. Go aisy. 'Tis only Lizzie opening the
ball.'

'Lizzie?' muttered Ken, still half dazed with the prodigious explosion.

Again came an enormous roar, followed by a sound like a train rushing
through the sky. Then from a hill to the left and a mile or so inland a
geyser of rocks and soil spouted, and was followed by the same
earth-shaking crash which had wakened him.

Ken looked out to sea. Some three miles off shore lay the biggest
battleship he had ever set eyes on. Even at that distance her immense
turrets, with their grinning gun muzzles, were clearly visible.

'The "Queen Elizabeth!"' he gasped.

'That's what,' said Roy Horan, who had got up and joined Ken. 'They've
sent her along to lend us a hand. Oh, I tell you, she's no slouch. Watch
her now! Gee, but she's giving Young Turkey something to chew on.'

'Why, there's a regular fleet!' exclaimed Ken, rubbing the last of the
sleep from his eyes. 'This is something like. Some of those sniping
gentlemen are going to be sorry for themselves.'

No fewer than seven warships were lying off the coast, every one of them
smashing their broadsides into the Turkish positions. The noise was
incredible, but every sound was dwarfed when the great super-Dreadnought
fired her 15-inch guns. The shells, the length of a tall man and weighing
very nearly a ton, were charged with shrapnel, carrying no fewer than
twenty thousand bullets apiece. Exploding over the enemy's position, each
deluged a couple of acres of ground with a torrent of lead.

[Illustration: '"'Tis only Lizzie opening the ball."']

It was a most amazing sight. The whole sky was full of the smoke of
bursting shells--smoke so heavy that the light breeze could not break it,
as it swam in masses that seemed quite solid until they struck against the
higher ground far inland.

Hour after hour the tremendous bombardment continued. At first the Turkish
field pieces endeavoured to reply, but one by one they were silenced, and
when at last, late in the afternoon, the thunder of the guns ceased, the
silence was only broken by a faint crackle of musketry.

'Now's our chance!' exclaimed O'Brien, who seemed to have an uncanny
faculty for understanding beforehand exactly what was in the colonel's
mind.

'A charge, you mean?' said Ken eagerly.

'That's it, sonny. Before they've got over the effects of that swate
little pasting.'

Sure enough, a minute later came the order for advance, and, refreshed by
their long rest, the Australians and New Zealanders came pouring over
their parapet, and with bayonets flashing in the evening sun, rushed
forward through the scrub.

For the first two hundred yards there was hardly a check, then all of a
sudden the scattered fire thickened.

'They're in the ravine, bhoys,' shouted O'Brien. 'Don't be waiting to
shoot. Give thim the steel.'

The firing grew heavier. Many of the gallant Colonials dropped, but the
only effect upon the rest was to make them race forward at greater speed.

Ken saw before him a dark line seamed with spits and flashes of flame. A
bullet clipped past his ear so close that he felt the wind of it. He never
paused. Next moment he was over the lip of the shallow ravine in which the
Turks had entrenched themselves.

On the two previous occasions when he and his comrades had attacked
Turkish trenches, the enemy had defended themselves bravely. Now they
seemed no longer to have any stomach for the fight. As the Colonials
poured like an avalanche into the ravine the Turks turned, and scrambling
wildly up the far side, bolted for their lives.

But the Colonials, with the bitter memory in their minds of all they had
suffered during the previous night and day, were not minded to let them
escape so easily. With loud shouts they gave chase. The Turks, good
marchers but poor runners, stood no earthly chance in this terrible race,
and by scores and hundreds were bayoneted or seized and dragged back as
prisoners.

Filled with mad excitement, Ken raced onwards in the forefront of the
line. His bayonet was dripping, a red mist clouded his eyes, for the
moment he was fighting mad.

He stumbled over a log and nearly fell. He realised that he was in a small
wood of low-growing trees with wide spreading branches. To his right he
heard shouts and shrieks and the sound of shots, but for the moment there
was not another soul in sight.

His throat was like a lime kiln. He stopped a moment to take a swallow of
water from his felt-covered flask, then went forward again.

He came to an open space, and as he reached its edge saw four men with a
quick-firer hurrying frantically across the open to the trees on the far
side.

Three were Turks, but the fourth wore the gray-green of a German officer.
The latter was short and--for a German--slight. Something about him seemed
vaguely familiar.

At that moment he turned and glanced round, and Ken saw his face. He could
hardly believe his eyes. The man was Kemp, ex-steward of the 'Cardigan
Castle.' There could be no doubt about it. That sallow complexion, the low
forehead, and the thick black eyebrows which met above his nose were quite
unmistakable.

Without an instant's hesitation Ken flung up his rifle and fired straight
at the man. But blown with long running, his hand shook. At any rate, he
missed, and next instant the German, the Turks, and their gun vanished
into the trees opposite.

Footsteps came crashing through the dead leaves and dry sticks behind Ken.

'We've got 'em on toast, Carrington,' came the deep voice of Roy Horan.
The big fellow was splashed with blood and dripping with perspiration, but
in his eyes was a gleam which told of his delight at the result of the
charge.

Ken gave a gasp of joy.

'The very man, Horan! Kemp and three Turkish gunners have just gone into
the trees opposite. They've got a quick-firer. Are you game to hunt 'em
down?'

'Kemp?' exclaimed Roy, who had of course heard the story of the treachery
aboard the 'Cardigan Castle.' 'Kemp, that spy scoundrel--are you sure?'

'Dead certain, though I can't imagine how he got here.'

'More can I, but by the Lord Harry, we'll have his scalp all right. Which
way did they go?'

Ken pointed and began to run. Roy raced alongside.

It was the maddest enterprise, and if either had stopped to think they
would have realised this fact. Two against four, and the latter armed with
a quick-firer! And by way of improving matters, the two had outrun all
their companions and were far out in a country swarming with enemy troops.

But Ken thought only of vengeance against the traitor Kemp, and as for
Roy, he was the sort to fight till he dropped, and laugh at any odds.

'Where's Dave?' asked Ken, as they tore along, side by side.

'All right when I last saw him about half a mile back,' was the answer.
'Which way have those blighters gone?'

Ken, alone, might have been at a loss to follow, but this was where Roy
came in. Brought up on a great cattle run, he could track a stray beast
over miles of ranges. It was child's play to him to trace the heavy
footmarks over the leaf-strewn floor of the wood.

'Go as quietly as you can,' he whispered to Ken. 'Kemp's quite cute enough
to ambush us if he thinks we're on his track.'

It was wonderful how quietly the young giant could move, and Ken,
naturally light-footed, followed his example easily. The tracks led
uphill, and presently the trees began to thin, and the ground to become
more stony.

Then the trees gave out altogether, and they found themselves on the side
of a great hill seamed with gullies and covered with low scrub and loose
stones.

[Illustration: Within No. 1 Fort at Cape Helles in the Dardanelles.]

[Illustration: Tired out, the soldier was sleeping on a bed of live
shells.]

'There they are!' said Ken in a low voice, pointing to heads just visible
over the edge of one of the shallow gullies. 'I tell you what they're
after. They're going to emplace that gun somewhere up on the hill-side,
and pepper our people on their way back.'

Roy nodded.

'That's about the size of it. Well, it's up to us to spoil their little
game. We must work up along the next gully parallel with them and get a
slap at 'em over the edge.'

'That's the tip,' said Ken, 'but mind, we've got to bust up the gun itself
as well as the men with it.'

Bending double so as not to be seen, the two scurried up the parallel
gully until they reckoned that they must be on a level with the gun and
its crew.

'It's going to be a stalk now,' whispered Roy, and dropping on hands and
knees, crept cautiously over the side of the gully.

On the ridge he stopped.

'Hang the luck!' he muttered. 'They've gone a lot farther than I reckoned.
They're a couple of hundred yards away, and still moving. What's worse,
the two gullies bend away from one another, and there's no cover to speak
of.'

Ken crept up alongside, and took a look.

'It's a bit awkward,' he admitted. 'But they're taking it easy. We ought
to be able to make fair practice from here.'

Roy nodded.

'All right. You take the left-hand man. I'll try for the right.'

A couple of seconds pause, then the two rifles spoke at once. Ken's man
went down like a log, but Roy apparently missed his.

Roy gave an angry exclamation and took a rapid second shot.

'Hurrah--nailed him that time,' as he saw the man go over like a shot
rabbit.

The remaining Turk, seeing his companions down, turned and made a dead
bolt. Kemp, with a cry of rage which came plainly to their ears, rushed
after him, apparently with the idea of bringing him back.

Ken and Roy both loosed off at once, but without success, and next instant
their quarry was out of sight over the far ridge.

'Rotten luck! It was Kemp we wanted,' growled Roy.

'We want the gun worse,' Ken answered grimly.

Springing up, he dropped into the far gully and began to run towards the
gun.

'Watch out for Kemp,' sang out Roy, as he followed. 'He may be laying for
us just over the ridge.'

'I thought of that,' answered Ken. 'I'll slip across and have a look.'

Both crept together over the second ridge, but there was no sign of Kemp
or of the third Turk. They might have sunk into the ground for all that
could be seen of them.

'Now for the gun,' said Ken, as he dropped back into the gully.

They wasted no time at all in reaching it. Beside it lay the two Turks.
They were both quite dead.

'Pity we can't take the gun back with us,' said Ken regretfully.

'Why shouldn't we? I'll sling it on my back. It don't weigh more than
sixty pounds.'

Ken shook his head.

'It's too far, old chap. We're all of a mile from our own lines. No, I'll
take the breech block off, and if you can find a good-sized stone we'll
smash the rest of it enough to make it useless.'

Roy at once hove up a rock the size of his head, and raising it high in
air brought it down with a shattering crash on the gun. The stout steel
barrel twisted under the tremendous shock, the water jacket burst.

'That suit you?' he said.

Ken glanced at the ruins, and smiled.

'Take Krupps all their time to make that serviceable again,' he remarked,
and the words were hardly out of his mouth before there came a sudden rush
of feet, and Kemp, accompanied by no fewer than eight sturdy-looking
Turks, came scrambling over the ridge from the right.

'Don't kill them,' shouted Kemp in Turkish. 'Don't kill them. Take them
alive. Ten marks apiece to you if you take them alive.'

The men were on them instantly. There was no time to shoot. Stooping
swiftly, Roy swung up the broken barrel of the quick-firer, and with a
shout sprang at the Turks, whirling the weighty length of steel around his
head.

In his powerful hands it was a fearful weapon. The Turks went down like
ninepins. Ken, who grasped his rifle by the barrel was in no way behind
his chum. The Turks had not been prepared for such a resistance. Inside
ten seconds five of them were down, and the three others had had all they
wanted. They ran for their lives.

Kemp had taken no part in the battle. He was standing a little aloof on
the upper ground. Roy, having disposed of his assailant, whirled round and
made for the man.

Kemp whipped out a repeating pistol and levelled it at his head.

'Drop that or I shoot,' he said viciously.

'No, you don't,' cried Ken.

Ken had seen the pistol in Kemp's hand, and had just had time to get his
own rifle to his shoulder, the muzzle levelled full at Kemp's head.

'Drop that pistol, or I'll blow your head off,' he said curtly.

Kemp's lips parted in a snarl, showing his white teeth. For a moment it
looked as though he would shoot Roy and take his chances.

But his pluck was not quite equal to it, and the grim, determined look on
Ken's face daunted him. With a muttered oath, he dropped the pistol.

'And a very pretty toy, too!' said Roy, springing forward and picking it
up. 'A nice new automatic, Roy. We'll keep that as spoils of war.'

'Don't waste time over the pistol,' said Ken sharply. 'Collar the chap
himself. He'll be better worth bringing back than a cart load of pistols.'

In an instant Roy's great arms were round Kemp, and lifting him clean off
his feet he popped him down in front of Ken.

'Tie him,' said Ken.

'I am an officer,' said Kemp haughtily. 'I will not be bound like a common
criminal.'

'You were an English ship's steward when I last saw you,' Ken retorted.
'And engaged in the charming occupation of signalling out of the bathroom
port to an enemy submarine.'

It was evidently no news to Kemp that Kenneth Carrington was his adversary
of the bathroom. Dark as it had been, he must somehow have recognised him.
He glared back defiantly.

'I was serving my country,' he answered with a lofty air.

'And what do you think would have happened to a Britisher who had been
caught on a German ship, engaged in an act of such abominable treachery?'
returned Ken hotly.

Kemp merely shrugged his shoulders.

'Well, it's not for me to deal with you,' said Ken. 'We'll take him back,
Roy, and he'll stand a proper court-martial. Still, as he calls himself an
officer, I suppose I must take his parole.'

'Do you give it?' he demanded of Kemp.

Kemp's sallow face had gone white, but whether from fear or rage was
doubtful. 'Yes,' he said in a low voice, 'I give my parole.'

They turned, and with Kemp between them, set out at a sharp pace in the
direction from which they had come.

From the distance rifles still snapped, and a couple of miles away to the
south-west field-guns were booming. But all around was strangely quiet.
Ken began to feel a trifle uneasy. He realised that they had got a long
way ahead of their comrades, and that the latter had already been
recalled.

'Quite nice and peaceful up here, eh, Ken?' said Roy with his cheerful
grin.

Before Ken could reply there came a shot from somewhere quite close at
hand, and with a sharp cry Ken dropped his rifle.

'Winged, old chap?' said Roy, turning quickly.

As he did so Kemp made a dash, and hurled himself up the slope to the
left.

'Never mind me!' cried Ken. 'Catch Kemp. Shoot him. Stop him anyhow.'

Roy flung up his rifle and took a snap shot.

He missed, and before he could pull the trigger a second time, the
ex-steward had dived like a weasel into a clump of scrub and was gone.

Roy dashed up the bank in hot pursuit. The moment he showed himself a
regular volley of rifle shots rang out, and spinning round he sprang back
into the hollow.

'There's about twenty Turks coming hard up the next gully,' he panted.
'We've got to bunk like blazes if we want to save our skins.'



CHAPTER VIII

THE HUNTERS HUNTED


Ken was standing, looking half dazed. His rifle was on the ground, and he
was holding his left arm with his right hand.

'Are you hurt, Ken?' asked Roy, and there was real concern in his voice.
The two had known one another less than a week, yet each had come to
respect and like the other.

'No. I'm not hit. The bullet struck the barrel of my rifle. It numbed my
arm for the moment. I'm quite all right, but my rifle's done for, so far
as firing goes. Rotten luck, losing Kemp.'

'Never mind Kemp,' said Roy, serious for once. 'These Turkish Johnnies are
between us and home. And they're after us. It'll take us all our time to
get clear. Which way are we to go?'

As he spoke a shout came from the next gully. It was Kemp's voice, and he
was evidently calling his men up to pursue the two Britishers.

Ken glanced round quickly. He saw at once that it was out of the question
to make straight back for their own lines. They would be cut off for a
dead certainty. The two other alternatives were to make off to the right
or to go straight back up the gully.

But going to the right meant that they would have to climb the right-hand
wall of the gully, which was much steeper and higher than that to the
left. The result would be that they would be exposed against the sky line
to the enemy's fire.

All this flashed through his mind in a couple of seconds, and he instantly
took his decision.

'We must go back up the gully, Roy,' he said sharply. 'It's absolutely our
only chance.'

'Any way, so long as we don't drop into the clutches of that swine Kemp,'
said Roy. 'I fancy I see him giving us any parole.'

He whipped round as he spoke, and the two set to running steadily up the
gully. As they passed the scene of their late encounter where the bodies
of the dead Turks lay by the broken machine gun, Ken stooped quickly and
picked up one of their rifles, and helped himself also to a bandolier of
cartridges.

This caused only a few seconds delay, yet before they were under way
again, there came a crackle of shots from below, and bullets whizzed
uncomfortably close about their ears.

Luckily for them, a few yards farther up was a bend in the course of the
ravine, and once round that they were safe for the moment.

Safe for the moment--yes--but the prospect before them was not exactly
inviting, and Ken's lips tightened as he and Roy strained onwards up the
hill-side, which grew steeper with every yard.

They were going straight away from their own people, right into the heart
of the enemy country, and rack his brains as he might, Ken could see no
plan for getting back. There was nothing for it but to try to shake off
their pursuers and trust to chance for the rest.

Neither of them was very fresh, for they had been fighting and running for
the better part of two hours. Even so, they managed to keep ahead of the
Turks, and though every now and then a few shots came rattling up from
below they had got far enough ahead to be out of easy range.

They were now at a considerable height, but still a long way from the top
of the hill. The scrub was thinning out and the ground becoming more and
more stony. The worst of it was that the ravine up which they were
travelling was getting steadily more shallow. A very little farther, and
it ended altogether. Beyond, was nothing but bare hill-side, where they
would--barring the scattered rocks--be in full view of the enemy.

Ken dropped to a walk.

'This won't do, Roy. Once we're out in the open, we shall be the very
finest kind of targets.'

Roy shrugged his great shoulders.

'There's nothing else for it. We can't make a ravine. What price taking up
a position here behind these rocks and trying to fight 'em off? We've got
plenty of cartridges.'

Ken shook his head.

'No earthly use. They could get round above us. We shouldn't have a dog's
chance.'

'Then we'd best shift on topside,' replied Roy coolly. 'They can't get
above us there unless they raise a balloon. Come on, old man, we can dodge
in and out among these rocks.'

Ken glanced back down the hill. Already the first of their pursuers were
in sight round the curve of the ravine, barely three hundred yards away.
They were jogging along quite steadily. It was clear that they felt
absolutely sure of their men--so sure that there was no need to hurry.
Kemp, conspicuous in his ugly German khaki, was shepherding them upwards.

Ken bit his lip. Inwardly he vowed that he would never be taken alive by
the ex-steward. He had a pretty shrewd idea of what his fate and Roy's
would be if they fell into Kemp's clutches.

'Come on, then,' he said desperately, and springing up over the shallow
bank of the ravine made a rush for the spot where the rocks seemed to be
thickest.

A shout from below told them that their manoeuvre was observed.

'They're spreading out,' said Roy, looking back over his shoulder.

'They're not shooting, anyhow,' answered Ken, as, bent double, he ran hard
alongside his companion.

'I suppose they think they've got us anyhow,' said Roy. 'Ken, I'd give a
lot to disappoint the dear Kemp.'

Up and up they went, bearing a little to the right because it was on that
side that the stones lay thickest. They were still both going strong, and
were, if anything, increasing the distance between themselves and their
pursuers. A little spark of hope began to dawn in Ken's breast. It seemed
just possible that they might still outrun the slower-going Turks, and
crossing the ridge, find shelter in the valley below. There was one point
in their favour. The sun was dropping low in the west. It would be dark in
little more than an hour.

Roy seemed to guess his thoughts.

'We'll do 'em down yet, Ken,' he said.

Almost as he spoke he pulled up short, and flung out his arm just in time
to stop Ken from plunging right over the sheer edge of a tremendous gorge
that gashed the face of the mountain like a slice from a giant's knife.

For an instant both stood breathing hard, staring down into the darksome
depths below. Then Ken turned to Roy.

'That's why they weren't hurrying,' he said bitterly.

For once Roy seemed cooler than Ken. Throwing himself flat on his face, he
wriggled forward till nearly half his body was over the edge.

'Hold my legs,' he said, and Ken, horrified at the other's rashness,
obeyed.

A moment later he was on his feet again. There was a queer glimmer in his
eyes.

'There's a chance yet. I've spotted a ledge. Don't count on it. I don't
know whether we can reach it. But it's worth trying. Come on.'

He hurried back down the edge of the cliff for about thirty paces, then
looked over again.

'Here it is. It's a goodish way down. But I've tackled places as bad in
the North Island mountains. Will you risk it?'

'I'd risk anything rather than Kemp,' Ken answered curtly.

'Then I'll go first. Lie down on your face, and give me your hands.
Quickly. Those beggars mustn't see us.'

Ken obeyed instantly. He knew nothing of mountaineering himself, but
realised that Roy did. Without a moment's hesitation Roy turned round with
his back to the ravine, and catching Ken's hands, let himself drop quietly
till his long body dangled at full length against the face of the cliff.

[Illustration: 'The strain on Ken's arms was awful.']

The strain on Ken's arms was awful. The depths below made his head swim.
But he set his teeth, dug his toes into the earth, and held on like grim
death.

'Let go,' said Roy briefly.

To Ken it seemed as though he were dropping his friend into the awful
abyss. But he obeyed without hesitation.

There was a second of ghastly suspense. Then Roy was standing on the
almost invisible ledge, balancing himself, spreadeagled against the face
of the rock.

His hands moved slowly, the fingers groping for a hold. He found it, and
clutching tightly with his left, raised his right hand.

'My bayonet,' he said quickly.

Ken slipped it out of its socket and gave it him.

Roy took it and carefully and deliberately drove it into a crevice in the
rock on a level with his head.

'Chuck the rifles over,' he said. 'You mustn't leave them.'

Ken obeyed. A hollow crash came up from the black depths.

'Now I'm ready for you,' said Roy. His voice was so cool and steady that
it gave Ken some confidence. 'Get as good a grip as you can and let go
when I tell you.'

For a moment it seemed to Ken that he could not do what was asked. In any
matter of fighting he was Roy's equal--indeed his superior, for he was
better able to keep his head in the thick of it.

But he had had no experience of heights, and the blood ran cold in his
veins at the idea of dropping over this terrific precipice. It seemed to
him the only possible result must be that he would knock Roy off his
narrow perch, and that they would go crashing together into the yawning
depths of the abyss.

'You're not scared, are you?'

The contempt in Roy's tones stung Ken to the quick. He hesitated no
longer. Turning quickly, he clutched the rocky ledge and recklessly swung
himself down.

'Good man! I knew you could do it. Steady now! I've got you. Let go!'

Once more Ken obeyed. He fully believed that he was going to his doom.
Instead, to his intense surprise, he found himself balancing on the ledge
beside Roy.

Roy gave a low laugh.

'Sorry I insulted you, old man. I just had to. I know the sort of funk
that takes you the first time you try this kind of game. And I give you my
word there are precious few chaps would have stuck it at all.'

'Now I'll tell you something to console you,' he continued. 'The ledge
widens to my right, and runs in under a big overhang. Once we're under
that, we're as safe as rats in a granary. No one can see us from up above
or from anywhere else, so far as that goes.'

Ken hardly heard. It seemed as if every energy he possessed was needed
just to cling where he was, flattened like a dead mole nailed on a
keeper's gibbet.

Roy went on talking in a low quiet voice, which gradually brought back
Ken's confidence, and though his heart was thumping, and he felt as though
it was impossible to draw a full breath, he presently managed to follow
his companion along the ledge.

As Roy had said, it gradually widened, and after going very carefully for
a matter of twenty feet it grew broad enough to walk on with some degree
of safety.

A minute later, and they were in a deep hollow--almost a cave and
absolutely hidden from all inquisitive eyes.

Roy laughed softly as he dropped to a sitting position.

'Gosh, I'd love to see Kemp's face this minute,' he remarked in a low
voice. 'He'll be just about fit to tie.'

Ken did not answer. He had dropped down and sat with his back against the
river side of the cavity, breathing hard. His face was very white, and big
drops of perspiration beaded his forehead.

Roy glanced at him with some anxiety. Then he fumbled in the pocket of his
tunic and brought out a small leather-covered flask.

'I've carried this ever since I left home,' he said. 'I reckoned it would
come in useful some time. Take a sip of it.'

It was fine old Australian brandy, and although Ken took no more than a
mouthful the effects were immediate. A tinge of colour came back to his
cheeks, and his heart steadied at once.

'Proper stuff, eh?' smiled Roy, as Ken handed back the flask.

Ken held up his hand sharply. 'Listen!' he whispered.

Above their heads they heard heavy footsteps. Then came Kemp's voice.

'What's he saying?' whispered Roy.

'He's telling 'em to hunt among the rocks,' answered Ken in an equally low
voice. 'He seems to be annoyed. He's using all the bad language he knows,
and chucking in German swears where he can't remember the Turkish ones.'

'Must be a bit of a facer for him,' chuckled Roy.

'There's one of the Turks answering him,' said Ken. 'Says we must have
jumped over to escape them.'

'Oh, that's Kemp again,' continued Ken. 'He's telling 'em to go down and
see.'

'And what's the Turk say?' Roy asked eagerly.

'He says no one has ever been to the bottom, and couldn't get there if
they wanted to. He calls it the ditch of Shaitan--in other words, the
Devil's Dyke. By Jove, he's started Kemp cursing again. Wonderful flow of
language the chap's got.'

Presently the voices above died away.

'So far as I can make out, they're going to have a try farther up the
hill,' said Ken. 'It's lucky they didn't think of looking for our tracks.
If they'd used their eyes they must have seen the place where we got over.
I know I dug my toes in a good two inches when I was hanging on to you.'

Roy grinned.

'Thank goodness, tracking is about the last thing that would occur to a
German. All the same, Kemp is quite cute enough to leave a guard posted
here to watch for us.'

Ken looked rather startled.

'I hadn't thought of that, but it's very likely. Then it looks as if we
should have to stay here all night.'

'I'd made up my mind to that already,' Roy answered. 'But it might be
worse. We've got shelter and we're absolutely safe. Also we have our
emergency rations, so we shan't starve. We ought to get a decent sleep for
once in a way.'

'What--sleep on the edge of this precipice!'

'Why not? I've slept in worse places before now.'

'Supposing one rolled over in one's sleep?' said Ken with a slight shiver
as he peered over into the awesome depths below.

Roy laughed softly.

'Don't worry. You shall sleep between me and the rock. It'll take you all
your time to roll over me.'

The sun was down, darkness was already shrouding the depths of space
beneath them. The Turks seemed to have left. At any rate, Ken and Roy
could hear no more of them. The evening silence was broken only by the
mysterious whisper of the evening breeze as it stole down the cañon, and
by a faint and distant popping of rifle shots.

Roy stretched his long legs and yawned.

'I'm for supper,' he observed, as he took his iron ration out of his
haversack. 'We'll share this to-night, Ken, and breakfast off yours in the
morning. Luckily I've still got some water in my bottle.'

The emergency or iron ration consists mainly of concentrated beef,
biscuit, and chocolate. There is not much of it, so far as bulk goes, but
it is very sustaining. Roy carefully divided his into two lots, and they
ate slowly, and finished their slim repast with a drink of water.

Then, after chatting a while, they stretched themselves out to sleep. Roy,
according to his promise, made Ken take the inner side, and in spite of
his nervousness, he slept like a log.

Ken roused at earliest dawn. A thin mist floated beneath them, hiding the
depths of the ravine. Musketry still crackled in the distance, but all
around was very still.

Ken shivered slightly, for the morning air bit chill. He sat up and shook
Roy, who was still sleeping peacefully.

'Daylight,' said Ken briefly. 'Time to get out of this.'

Roy sat up and stretched his great frame.

'What a life!' he said with a laugh. 'Yes, I suppose we'd best be
shifting.'

'Shall we breakfast now, or wait till we get up topside?' asked Ken.

Roy gave him a quick look.

'It might be as well to feed now,' he said quietly. 'You see, I haven't a
notion how we're going to get out of this.'

Ken stared. Such a point of view had never occurred to him. He had such
implicit faith in Roy's mountaineering capacity that he had taken it
absolutely for granted that Roy could find a way back to firm ground.



CHAPTER IX

THE BATTLE BY ROCKS


Roy saw Ken's dismay.

'Sorry, old chap,' he said simply. 'I thought you understood.'

Ken smiled back.

'I'm afraid I took it for granted that you had it all pat. You see, I
don't know the first thing about mountaineering myself. Can't we get back
the same way we came?'

Roy shook his head.

'It's too big a reach. But don't worry. We'll find some way out. Stop here
a minute and I'll go and have a squint round.'

Ken looked at him.

'You'll be careful, Roy? Hadn't I better come and give you a hand?'

'I'll call you if I want you,' said Roy. 'I'm going to see where this
ledge leads.'

He strolled off as calmly as though walking along a twelve-inch ledge over
a two hundred foot drop was as simple as a promenade down the sunny side
of Piccadilly. Ken, feeling anything but happy, watched him until he was
hidden behind a shoulder of rock.

It was quite five minutes before he came back.

'It's all right,' he said cheerfully. 'True, we can't get up, but I think
we can get down. This ledge drops a long way, and there seems to be
another below it. Let's have our grub and go along.'

He ate his share of Ken's rations with evident appetite, and Ken did his
best to follow his example. But it would be idle to say that Ken felt
happy. Glancing down into the tremendous depths that yawned below, he felt
that he would infinitely rather charge a score of Turks, single-handed,
than try to make his way down the face of the gigantic wall of rock.

Roy finished his food, brushed the crumbs from his tunic, and taking the
bayonet which--with the automatic pistol captured from Kemp--were the only
weapons they had, walked off along the ledge.

Ken set his teeth and followed.

'Look up, not down,' said Roy quietly, and Ken did his best to obey.

The ledge, though narrow, did not really present any particular
difficulties. As Roy said, 'If it wasn't for the big drop below, you
wouldn't think twice about it.'

Ken knew this was true, and tried hard to keep it in his mind.

Presently, however, the ledge began to narrow again, and the only way to
tackle it was to flatten themselves, limpet-like, against the cliff face,
and claw their way onwards, gripping every possible little projection
which gave any sort of hand hold.

At last Roy pulled up.

'Capital!' he said. 'You're doing first-rate, Ken. That's as far as we can
go on this ledge. We've got to drop to the lower one now. Don't worry.
It's not as bad as that first drop we had to do last night.'

As he spoke, he stooped, gripped the edge of the ledge with his hands, and
let himself down gently. There was a knob of rock about seven feet down.
He got his feet on this, then reached up for the bayonet which Ken held.

As before, he jammed this into a crevice so as to give himself something
to hold by, then signalled Ken to follow.

Ken's heart was in his mouth. The projection seemed hardly large enough
for one pair of feet, let alone two. But when he reached it he found that
Roy had left it all for him. He himself had stepped off, driving his toes
into a mere crevice alongside.

'Keep hold of the bayonet till I tell you to move,' came Roy's quiet
voice. 'Afraid we'll have to leave it where it is. We can't shift it
again. That's right.'

'Now get your fingers into that crack to the right. I'm going to move your
feet for you.'

What Roy was doing Ken could not tell, and he dared not look. But a moment
later he felt the big fellow's hands shifting his feet.

There came a sharp rattle of falling stones, a quick gasp.

A spasm of fright clutched him. For the moment he fully believed that Roy
had fallen.

'Roy! he cried sharply. 'Roy!'

'All right, old man. It's quite all right. Just a chunk of rock broken
out. The stuff's a bit rotten, but I've got good hand hold.'

A pause. Then, 'Now you can move.'

Again Roy's strong hands shifted his feet. Twice more this happened; then
just as he began to feel that he could stand the strain no longer, he
heard Roy's jolly laugh.

'We've done it. One step more, and you're on the ledge.'

A moment later, and they stood together on a ledge nearly a yard wide. It
seemed like a turnpike road compared to the one above.

[Illustration: Tins and barbed wire are cut up in the Dardanelles as
'filling' for bombs.]

[Illustration: Our gallant bluejackets cheered the return of the
triumphant submarine after her wonderful achievement.]

Roy drew a long breath.

'That was a bad bit,' he said. 'As bad as anything I ever struck. Don't
mind telling you now, Ken, that I was in a blue funk.'

'You didn't show it,' Ken answered rather breathlessly. 'If you had, I
believe I should have crocked.'

'You didn't, anyhow. That's the main thing. And I wouldn't ask a better
man to go climbing with. You kept your head, and did what you were told.
Well, now I think the worst is over. This looks like a regular fault in
the strata, and it ought to take us to the bottom.

Roy's judgment was correct. There were still some nasty places, but
nothing like what they had already tackled, and within another quarter of
an hour they had reached the bottom of the gorge.

A little stream ran down the centre, finding its way among piled masses of
fallen rock. On each side the cliffs towered so high that only a mere slit
of sky was visible. It was as wild and gloomy a spot as Ken had ever seen.

'I've seen better walking,' observed Roy, as a flat stone slipped under
his foot, and nearly pitched him over into the bed of the brook.

'It's better than that abominable cliff, anyhow,' returned Ken. 'But I'd
give something to know where we're going.'

'I can tell you. The sea. If we follow the stream we're bound to reach
salt water.'

'But where?' said Ken--'where? I don't know that I've got the points of
the compass very clear in my head, and there's no sun visible yet, but if
I'm not mistaken, this brook runs east, not west.'

Roy pulled up with a puzzled expression on his face.

'Pon my Sam, I believe you're right. In that case, this is the head waters
of some stream that runs out into the Straits.'

'That's my notion, and consequently we're still going plumb in the wrong
direction.'

'We can't help it,' said Roy. 'It's no use trying to climb up the far side
over the top of the hill.'

'Not a bit. The first thing to do is to get out of this gorge. After that
we must see if we can't skirt round the base of the hill, and get back
somehow.'

Roy nodded, and for some distance they continued on their uncomfortable
way in silence.

'Not much more of it,' said Roy at last. 'We're getting near the mouth
now.'

'And that's where our troubles are going to begin,' said Ken with a smile.
'It looks to me as if we were the best part of three miles inland.'

'Which means that we've got to get through the whole bunch of the Turks,'
answered Roy. 'I say, don't you wish we'd got our whole crowd up here?
We'd take the enemy in the rear and play old Harry with them.'

'No use wishing that. But I'll tell you what, Roy. If we ever do get back
we'll have some useful information for the colonel.'

Roy nodded, as he scrambled on to the top of a big rock.

'I can see out of the mouth of the gorge from here,' he said, as he stood
on the summit, 'and by the look of the country you're about right as to
the course of this brook. We're the other side of the water-shed
altogether.'

Ken clambered up beside him. A couple of hundred yards farther down the
gorge ended, or rather turned into a shallow ravine, down which the stream
found its way into a broad valley below. A rough track crossed this
valley, and Ken pointed to figures looking no bigger than dolls in the
distance, which moved along it.

'Reinforcements coming up,' he said. 'They'll be from Kojadere. We must
keep clear of that road. Seems to me the best thing we can do is to swing
to the right and work round the shoulder of the hill.'

'Yes, if we can find cover. Well, there's nothing to stop us from climbing
up here. The bank don't amount to anything.'

He was right, and turning at once they scrambled up the steep rocky slope.
It was broken with projecting crags, and almost covered with brush, which
gave them ample cover. Reaching the top, they got a sight of the sun, and
found that they were facing almost due east. The guns were still
thundering behind them, but their sound was deadened by the great mass of
hill which lay between them and the sea.

The hill-side was thick with scrub and there was no difficulty about
getting forward. They went on steadily, and had travelled about half a
mile when they entered a little wood. Passing through this, they were
dismayed to find themselves on the edge of a steep bank about sixty feet
high, with the track running at the bottom of it, and, beyond, a wide
space of open valley rising again to a hill opposite.

'This is no use,' said Roy. 'We're bound to be spotted if we try to cross
that open.'

'No, we must keep on this side for the present,' answered Ken, as he
turned back into the trees.

Presently they heard a tramping of feet, and peering through the leaves
saw a body of Turkish troops, about a hundred strong, marching stolidly
along beneath them.

'My word, if we only had a maxim!' muttered Roy, as he stared at the
closely-formed column. 'Couldn't we make hay of 'em?'

Ken did not answer. He watched the men pass on until they were out of
sight around a curve in the track. Then he and Roy moved on again.

Round the next bend, they found themselves at the end of the friendly
wood, and the ground beyond was a deal more open than seemed healthy.

'We'll have to wait until those chaps are well out of the way,' said Ken,
and calmly sat himself down on a big stone, one of many which lay among
the tree trunks.

'Hope they'll hurry,' said Roy rather viciously. 'I'm infernally hungry. I
want to get back to my dinner.'

While Ken rested Roy stood staring out through the tree trunks.

Presently he turned to Ken. 'Tell you what, Ken, I believe there's a
chance for us now. There's another patch of wood less than a quarter of a
mile away, and if we watched our chance we might slip across without being
spotted. Beyond it, the ground rises again, with a lot of rocks and scrub.
Plenty of cover at any rate. What do you think?'

Ken got up and took a long and careful survey.

'It looks all right,' he said at last. 'I'm game to try it anyhow.'

'Then the sooner the better. Those Turks have topped the rise.'

They were on the point of starting when Ken heard a sound which made him
seize Roy's arm.

'Steady a minute! There's something else coming up the track.'

They dropped flat and lay waiting. Sure enough, there was a low rumble of
wheels, and after a few minutes a team of mules came into sight around the
left-hand curve, dragging a field-piece, and accompanied by about a dozen
Turkish gunners.

'Just as well we waited,' whispered Roy. 'We shouldn't have stood much
show if we'd dropped down under their noses, eh?'

Ken did not answer. He was staring fixedly at the gun. His eyes were very
bright.

He turned to Roy.

'That's going to be used to smash our chaps, Roy. Jove, if we could only
stop it!'

'Stop it?' repeated Roy in amazement. 'My dear chap, we haven't even got
our rifles. They're lying smashed up at the bottom of the gorge. The only
weapon we've got left is this automatic.'

'We've got something better than bullets,' Ken answered very quietly. He
laid his hand as he spoke upon one of the big loose boulders which lay in
front of him.

'See here,' he went on, 'they'll come right underneath us. If we could get
this rock down on the team, it would probably stampede the mules. Then
before the men have recovered from their confusion, we ought to be able to
give them a couple more. If we could land one on top of the gun itself, it
would damage it pretty badly, even if it doesn't smash the mountings and
make it useless. What do you say?'

'Say--why that it's the greatest scheme ever hatched, and I'm with you
every time,' Roy answered, his face glowing with excitement. 'And, by
Jingo,' he added, 'if we'd picked the spot for bringing it off, we
couldn't have done better.'

This was true enough. The spot where they were perched was fully sixty
feet above the road, and the slope below was next door to perpendicular.
For another thing, the supply of boulders was unlimited.

The one to which Ken had pointed weighed perhaps a quarter of a ton and
was shaped rather like a gigantic egg. He put his weight against it, and
found that it rocked, but even so, he could not be quite certain that
their combined efforts could start it over the edge.

'Wait!' whispered Roy, and turning slipped away into the thick of the
trees. He was back in a minute, carrying a heavy piece of dead timber.

'This ought to do the trick,' he said softly. Ken nodded.

Meantime the Turks below, all unsuspicious of what was brewing, came
slowly and steadily along the road. Slowly, because not only is a
77-millimetre gun with its caisson a heavy weight, but also because the
road was merely an apology for one. It was nothing but a deeply rutted
track thick with sand and loose stones.

The men were in charge of a non-commissioned officer, a Turk like
themselves, and consequently were taking it very easy, strolling along,
smoking and chatting.

Roy drove his stake deep under the big rock, and gave a slight heave.

'She'll shift all right,' he whispered in a tone of quiet satisfaction.

'All right. Wait till I give the word,' said Ken, with his eyes fixed upon
the long gray gun which came jogging slowly onwards, its grim muzzle
swaying and lurching as the wheels took the ruts in the road.

It seemed a long time before it came opposite. Then at last Ken gave one
word.

'Now!'

In an instant they were both on their feet, Roy tugging on the lever, Ken
bracing all his weight on the big rock.

It moved, it rolled slowly over, seemed to pause a moment on the edge of
the bank, then suddenly shot forward. Ten feet below, it alighted on the
slope, rebounded, and at the same time started half a dozen other stones.
In a moment a rock avalanche was roaring down the steep. The great stone
led the way. In a series of gigantic leaps, each longer than the last, it
thundered downwards, at each jump starting fresh tons of the loose shale
which covered the bank.

A cloud of dust rose like smoke, and hid all below. Then from out the
cloud came squeals and shrieks.

In their excitement, Ken and Roy actually forgot to send fresh stones to
follow the first. There was no need. When the dust cloud cleared, one mule
which had broken loose was galloping madly across country, the rest were
down and dead.

The gun, dismounted, was half buried in a pile of shale which lay feet
deep across the road. Of the men, not one remained. Most were not only
dead, but buried. Two only lay clear, and to all appearance they were as
dead as their companions.

Roy looked at Ken.

'What you might call a clean bit of work,' he said, but though he tried to
smile, there was something like awe in his voice.

'Yes. A ten-inch shell could hardly have done more,' Ken answered. 'Poor
beggars! It's rather ghastly wiping 'em out like that, but one has got to
remember that that gun would have probably finished ten times the number
of our chaps if they'd got it into position.

'We'd better go down,' he added. 'We may find a couple of rifles, and I'll
lay we shall need them before we reach our own lines.'

It was an awkward job to get down the bank, for the shale was so loose it
kept breaking away under their feet. They had to go quickly, too, for
there was every chance of fresh reinforcements or more guns coming up the
road.

Fortunately no one else appeared, and in a very few minutes they were busy
hunting among the pile of rocks for rifles that had escaped injury. They
found three, but only one was serviceable. The sights of the others were
damaged. They also found food. It was bread, dark-looking and very stale,
and goats' milk cheese.

But they were far too hungry to be particular. They stuffed it into their
pockets.

At that moment came a deep groan from among the rocks.

Ken swung round sharply.

'There's one of 'em alive in there,' he said quickly, 'we can't leave the
poor beggar to die by inches.'

[Illustration: 'A rock avalanche was roaring down the steep.']

He began rolling the stones aside, and guided by the groans he and Roy
soon pulled out a youngish Turk and laid him on the side of the road.

Ken examined him quickly.

'He's got off cheaply,' he said. 'Nothing broken--nothing the matter, so
far as I can see, except bruises and a cut on the head. Give him a drop of
your brandy, Roy.'

As Roy unscrewed the stopper, the Turk's eyes opened, and he stared up at
his rescuers in blank amazement.

'Englishmen!' he muttered.

Roy put the flask to his lips, but he shook his head.

'Water,' he said in Turkish.

'It's against his religion to drink wine or spirits,' Ken explained to
Roy, and put his own water-bottle to the man's lips.

'I thank you,' said the Turk with grave courtesy. He sat up and looked
round at the ruin on the road.

'We did not know that your guns were near enough to drop shell upon us,'
he said. 'Nor had we any notion that your troops had advanced so far
inland.

'Well, it is Allah's will,' he continued resignedly. 'And our fate for
being driven into an unjust war. I am your prisoner.'

'We don't want any prisoners,' Ken answered with a smile, and at his
fluent Turkish the man's dark eyes opened in evident surprise. 'You are
free.'

The Turk stared.

'Then you are separated from your own regiment,' he said keenly, and by
his accent and language, Ken realised that he was a man of some education.

Ken did not answer.

'Your pardon, effendi,' said the Turk. 'I did not mean to ask idle
questions. I thank you for your kindness, and I wish you happiness.'

'Come on, Ken,' broke in Roy, who was scanning the country uneasily. 'We
are right out in the open here. That chap will be all right. Let's get
into that wood as sharp as we can.'

'One moment,' said Roy, and turned to the Turk.

'If you care to do us a good turn, tell us the nearest way back to Gaba
Tepe.'

The Turk pointed up the road.

'That is the nearest way, but, I need not tell you, the most dangerous.
Our lines lie between here and the British. You must wait for the darkness
of the night or you will for a certainty be captured. My advice to you is
to conceal yourselves among the trees in the wood, and wait until the sun
shall have set.'

'I thank you,' said Ken courteously. 'Is there anything else in which we
can assist you?'

'There is nothing, I thank you. I will rest a while, then move onwards. In
the name of the Prophet, I wish you a safe journey.'

'What tale was he pitching you?' said Roy impatiently, as he set off at a
great rate for the wood opposite.

'He advised us to lie up for the rest of the day, and try to slip through
their lines at night.'

Roy grunted. 'And I suppose he'll watch where we go and set his pals on us
as soon as they come along.'

'He will do nothing of the sort,' Ken answered rather hotly. 'For
goodness' sake, don't go judging the Turk by the German, Roy. That fellow
considers that we have done him a favour, and nothing would induce him to
betray us.'

'Sorry I spoke,' said Roy briefly, 'but you were so long I was getting
into a horrid stew. Even now, one can't tell whether we've been spotted,
and it isn't likely that the next German who comes along is going to be
kind to us when he sees what we've done to his nice new gun.'

No more was said until they reached the wood and flung themselves panting
under the shade of a scrubby live oak.

'Now we can take a bit of a breather,' said Roy. 'And a bit of lunch, too.
Here, catch!' He flung a chunk of bread across to Ken.

But Ken had sprung up. He was listening keenly.

'Bunk!' he muttered. 'There's cavalry coming.'



CHAPTER X

PRISONERS


Roy was on his feet like a flash, for he too had caught the thud of
horses' hoofs and the jingle of stirrups. For a moment the two stood, side
by side, behind the trunk of the live oak, peering out over the sunbaked
plain. Across it a patrol of cavalry, smart in a gray-blue uniform, were
cantering sharply.

'They're making straight for the wood,' said Ken quickly. 'They must be
after us. Come!'

They both set off at a run, dodging and ducking under the low-growing
trees. For a moment they thought they were unobserved, but next instant a
shout rudely shattered that illusion. They scurried on as hard as they
could go, but the wood was so open and the trees so far apart that it gave
mighty little shelter. The patrol had broken into a gallop. The thud of
the horses' hoofs grew nearer every moment.

'That thicket over there,' panted Ken breathlessly. 'We'll dodge them yet
if we can reach it.'

But between them and it was a good hundred yards of almost open ground,
and the leader of the patrol saw their manoeuvre, and shouted an order.
His men split out fan-wise and before Ken and Roy were half way across the
open, came a thunder of hoofs, and half a dozen of the troopers came
galloping upon them from the left.

Ken flung up his captured rifle, and fired slap at the first. The bullet
caught the horse between the eyes and down he came with a crash, flinging
his rider far over his head.

But the next was too close to dodge. Ken caught the flash of sun on a
lancehead bearing straight down upon him. He sprang aside, the lancehead
missed him by inches, then the shoulder of the horse caught him with
stunning force and hurled him to the ground.

Before he could pick himself up, three of the troopers were off their
horses, and had flung themselves upon him. He was hauled roughly to his
feet, his rifle snatched from his hand, and his cartridge-pouch torn away.
A few yards away, Roy, his face bleeding, was the centre of another group
who were disarming him in spite of his struggles.

Ken glanced at his captors. He saw that they were Turkish constabulary,
and his heart sank. These men, trained by Germans, paid by them, and
soaked in their brutal tenets, were among the small minority of Turks who
had really come to share the German hatred of the British.

They glared fiercely at their prisoners.

'British swine!' growled one, and spat in contempt.

'They are spies,' said another. 'We find them three miles behind our
lines. Why do we waste time taking them prisoners? Let us hang them and be
done with them.'

'Why not let them run and ride them down?' suggested another. 'Sticking
with a lance is a fit fate for hogs.'

But the sergeant, a tall, swarthy faced man with a pair of fierce black
eyes, pushed his way forward.

'Fools, these are the men who escaped last night from Captain Hartmann. We
have his orders to bring them before him. It will go hard with you if you
disobey. Shackle them both, and send them to him under guard.'

He flung down two pairs of handcuffs, and one of the men who was holding
Ken picked them up, while another seized his wrists.

It was on the tip of Ken's tongue to protest fiercely against this
indignity, but he checked himself. It would be better, he remembered, that
these men should not know that he spoke their language.

Roy was fighting like a fury. Three of the troopers had their work cut out
to hold him. As it was, he managed to get one hand loose, and before the
others could seize it again one of their number lay insensible on the
ground with his nose broken and flattened against his face.

'Steady, Roy!' cried Ken. 'These swabs are no better than Germans. They'll
only frog-march us or something equally beastly if we resist.'

'But handcuffs!' roared Roy in a fury. 'D'ye think I'm going to be
handcuffed like a common criminal?'

'They think we're spies,' Ken answered. 'They're going to take us to
headquarters. It's no use resisting. We must wait our chance.'

Sullenly Roy ceased struggling, and the handcuffs were snapped on his
wrists. The sergeant who seemed in a hurry, gave brief orders, and
galloped on with most of his patrol, leaving a lower grade officer,
probably a corporal, with half a dozen men.

These mounted.

'March!' ordered the corporal, an undersized, vicious-looking fellow,
giving Ken a prick with his lance. 'And keep going, or, by Allah, it will
be more than a prick you will get next time.'

Side by side, Ken and Roy stumbled forward, while their captors cursed or
jeered them in language which Roy fortunately could not understand,
although to Ken every word of it was only too plain. From something the
corporal let drop, he learnt that they were being taken, not to Kojadere,
but to Eski Keni, which lies in the middle of the peninsula, about
half-way between Gaba Tepe and Maidos.

He told this to Roy, speaking in an undertone, as they tramped rapidly
onwards under the threat of the lance-points behind them.

'And the man they are taking us before seems to be Kemp,' said Ken. 'Only
they call him Hartmann. It appears he was cute enough to suspect that we
had hidden ourselves somewhere last night, and these fellows were sent out
to look for us.'

'And I wish we had both gone over the cliff before they found us,' Roy
answered, gritting his teeth. The disgrace of the handcuffs was biting
deep into his soul. Ken had never seen him in such a mood before.

Ken himself was none too happy. It took all his pluck and philosophy to
keep going at all. He was aching in every bone, his mouth and throat were
parched, and his tongue like a dry stick in his mouth. The dust rose
around them in choking clouds, flies bit and stung, yet he could not lift
a hand to brush them from his face. What was hardest of all to bear were
the jeers and insults flung at them by their captors.

But they trudged on doggedly, refusing to pay the slightest attention to
the taunts or blows showered upon them, and in spite of everything, Ken
used his eyes to take in every feature of the country through which they
travelled. Small hope as he had of ever seeing again his own lines, yet he
missed nothing of importance, storing up each hill, valley, clump of
trees, and track in his tenacious memory.

At last they came within sight of a group of squalid hovels in a valley.

'That's Keni,' Ken told Roy.

The brutal corporal caught the word.

'That's Keni,' he repeated in his own language, 'and, by the beard of the
Prophet, you shall soon see how spies are dealt with.'

The village swarmed with soldiers, many of them wounded, who stared at the
two British prisoners with lack-lustre eyes. The narrow street of the
place reeked with filth and foul odours, and swarmed with a pestilence of
flies. The two youngsters were thrust roughly into a dirty hovel, and with
a final jeer from their brutal jailer, the door was locked behind them.

For a moment Roy stood straight, towering in the centre of the low-roofed
room. There was a very ugly light in his eyes.

'Wait, my friend, wait!' he said hoarsely. 'I'll be even with you before
I've finished.'

'Steady, old chap!' said Ken quietly. 'Steady! Take it easy while you can.
Remember, we've got that little interview with Kemp before us.'

Roy flung himself down with a gasp.

'It's all right, Ken. I'll calm down after a bit. But heaven pity that
black-moustached blighter if I ever get my hands on him.'

Ken tried to answer, but suddenly dropped flat on the bare earthen floor.
His eyes closed. Instantly he was sound asleep. Roy stared at him vaguely,
yawned, and before he knew it had slipped down and followed his example.

So they lay, happily oblivious of their troubles, all through the blazing
afternoon. The sun was setting when the door was flung open and the
sharp-faced corporal strode in.

He roused them with a kick apiece.

'Get up, British dogs,' he ordered. 'Captain Hartmann awaits you.'

The sleep had refreshed them, and though stiff and sore they were both in
condition so fit and hard that they were little the worse for their trying
experiences of the night and morning.

Under charge of a guard, they were marched rapidly up the street to where
a few larger flat-topped houses stood on slightly higher ground. Through
an open door they were driven along a passage and out into a courtyard
open to the sky, with a fountain in the centre.

At a table, under the shade of a grape arbour, sat two German officers,
one of whom was a typical Prussian, fair, with hard blue eyes and close
cropped hair, while the other was their old friend, the ex-steward Kemp,
otherwise Hartmann.

An ugly light shone in his deep-set, narrow eyes as they fell on the two
prisoners.

'Soh!' he said, with a evil smile, 'my young friends, the spies!
Achmet'--this to the corporal--'you have done well. I will see that your
conduct and that of your sergeant is recommended in the proper quarter.'

He turned to his companion.

'Ober-lieutenant von Steegman,' he said formally. 'The prisoners are those
of whom I spoke last night to Colonel Henkel. Disguised in the overcoats
of Turkish soldiers, they contrived to destroy one of our quick-firers,
and to-day they were discovered hiding in a wood behind our lines. They
had, it appears, been plundering our wounded, for food and a Turkish rifle
were found in their possession.'

Ken could not speak German, but he knew enough of the language to gather
the meaning of the man's infamous accusations. 'Liar!' he burst in. 'We
were never in Turkish uniform. As for the gun, we took it in fair fight,
and as--'

At a sign from Hartmann, Achmet, the corporal, struck Ken across the
mouth.

[Illustration: 'Roy brought them down on the man's head.']

It was probably the last thing he ever did in his life, for Roy, raising
his shackled hands, brought them down upon the man's head with such
fearful force that he dropped like a log, the blood gushing from his mouth
and ears.

Instantly all was confusion. Hartmann sprang to his feet, shouting out
furious orders. Two of the guard seized Roy and flung him to the ground,
two more laid hands on Ken. Another drew his bayonet, and Ken saw it flash
in the evening sunlight before his very eyes.

It was Von Steegman who sprang forward and seized the man's arm just in
time.

'No. Leave him alone,' he cried harshly. 'The colonel has left express
orders that he wishes to see these men before they are executed. Stand
aside! It is only a short delay. They will both be shot at sundown.'

Von Steegman, if a brute, had ten times the physical power and moral force
of Hartmann. The man obeyed at once, and in a few moments order was
restored. Two men carried away the insensible form of Achmet, Roy watching
with a grim smile.

Ken had hardly thought of his own danger. His lips were bleeding, and the
foul blow had for the moment rendered him perfectly reckless.

'Is this the way you treat prisoners? he thundered, his eyes blazing.
'Small wonder a people who do such things are despised by every other
nation on earth!'

'Himmel, you dare to talk like that?' snarled back Hartmann. 'You, a
private soldier, venture such insolence to an officer?'

Ken was already ashamed of his outburst.

'An officer!' he said with bitter contempt, 'or do you mean a bathroom
steward?'

Hartmann's sallow face went livid with excess of rage. He bit his lip till
the blood showed upon it in a thin red line.

'You will sing a different song when you stand before the muzzles of the
firing party,' he said in a grating voice.

Von Steegman, who seemed to be the only man among them to remain quite
unmoved, raised his hand.

'All this is highly irregular,' he said harshly. 'Captain Hartmann, it is
our duty to interrogate these prisoners.'

'What's the use of interrogating us if you have already made up your mind
to shoot us?' retorted Ken.

Von Steegman glared at him.

'Because,' he answered in his harsh German English, 'it is bossible that,
by giving us certain information, you may yed save der lives which you haf
justly forfeited.'

Ken stared back, and there was something in his face which made even the
German's bold eyes drop.

'I don't advise you to say any more,' he answered grimly. 'You'd better
proceed at once with your firing party, you miserable German murderer.'

Von Steegman's hand dropped to his sword hilt, his face went the colour of
a ripe plum, for a moment Ken thought--hoped that he was going to have a
fit.

Before he could speak there came a stir behind, the door leading from the
house to the yard opened sharply, and a stout, coarse-looking man in the
uniform of a colonel in the Prussian Army, strode heavily in.

Hartmann and Von Steegman rose like two ramrods, and saluted him. They
stood at the salute while he came across to the table.

'So these are the two prisoners,' he said in a thick guttural voice, as he
seated himself, 'the two who were captured spying behind our lines.'

He stared first at Roy, then at Ken. As his bloodshot eyes fell upon the
latter he started ever so slightly. At the same moment Ken seemed to
recognise him, for a look of disgust crossed his face.



CHAPTER XI

THE FIRING PARTY


Hartmann spoke.

'These are the spies, Herr Colonel,' he said with an air of deference.
'They were captured more than two miles behind our lines. We have
interrogated them, but they refuse information.'

The colonel looked at Ken.

'Have you nothing to say for yourselves?' he demanded.

'Plenty, but not to you, Colonel Henkel,' replied Ken with a sarcasm he
did not trouble to conceal.

Henkel, however, did not lose his temper as Von Steegman had done. He
turned to Hartmann and Von Steegman and spoke to them both in a low voice.

'As you wish, Herr Colonel,' said Hartmann presently, but there was an air
of distinct disappointment about him.

'Corporal,' said Henkel to the non-com, who had taken the place of the
brute whom Roy had finished, 'take the prisoners back and lock them up
securely. Set a guard over them.'

'Mind this--that you are responsible for them,' he added harshly.

The man saluted, and Ken and Roy, who had hardly expected to leave the
place alive, found themselves marched back down the evil-smelling street
and shut up once more in the same hovel as before.

Roy turned to Ken as the key clicked in the lock behind them.

'This is a rum go,' he said in great astonishment. 'What's it mean? Who is
the Johnny with the fat tummy and the bloodshot eyes? Why was he so quiet
with you? What--?'

'Steady, old man!' cut in Ken. 'One question at a time. Didn't you hear
his name?'

'What--Henkel? Yes.'

He broke off with a gasp.

'You don't mean to say he is the sweep that tried to swindle your father
out of his coal mine?'

'You've hit it, Roy--hit it in once. That's the very same chap, though I
never knew before that he was a colonel. He recognised me as soon as I
spotted him.'

'But what's his game?' demanded Roy. 'I should have thought he would have
been only too pleased to get you shot out of hand. If your father is dead,
you're next heir to the coal.'

'I'm not very clear what he is after,' Ken answered in a puzzled voice.
'But it's something to do with our property, you may be sure of that. This
much I do know--that Henkel was awfully in debt when I last saw him. And I
know this, too--that our friend, old Othman Pacha, who is Bey in that part
of the country, would refuse to let the property pass without proper title
deeds.'

'Then it's clear as mud,' said Roy quickly. 'Henkel wants to get the deeds
out of you.'

'That may be it. But anyhow I'm not of age. I couldn't sign anything.'

'Don't, anyhow,' said Roy. 'He can't do worse than shoot us.'

But Ken looked very grave. Inwardly, he was thinking that, if Henkel did
actually mean to make terms, he had no right to sacrifice Roy's life as
well as his own.

At this moment the corporal came in with a platter of food and a pitcher
of water. He planked them down without a word, and went out again.

'No use starving ourselves,' said Roy with his usual cheeriness. 'It's a
case of "let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die."'

His pluck was wonderful, and they set to as well as their manacled hands
permitted, on the coarse barley-meal bread and goats' milk cheese. They
had had nothing since their 'emergency' breakfast and they finished the
food to the last crumb.

'That's better,' said Roy. 'Now I'm ready for anything.' As he spoke the
key turned in the lock, the door opened, and in stumped Henkel. He closed
the door behind him, and stood facing the two young fellows.

'So we meet again, Kenneth Carrington,' he said. Like most German
officers, he spoke excellent English, though with a thick, unpleasant
accent.

Ken did not answer. It did not seem worth while. He stood facing the
other, watching him with a slightly contemptuous expression in his clear
blue eyes.

'We meet under different conditions from the last time,' continued Henkel.
'There is now no Othman Pacha to protect you from your just fate.'

Ken shrugged his shoulders.

'Why talk that sort of rot? You know just as well as I do that the last
thing we shall get is justice.'

Henkel flushed slightly, but he kept his temper.

'What! Do you not shoot spies in your own army?'

'We are not spies. We went too far in the charge yesterday when we smashed
up your people. We could not get back. We are prisoners of war and should
be treated as such.'

'That is your story,' replied Henkel. 'We have plenty of evidence to the
contrary. Any commanding officer would be justified in shooting you out of
hand.'

'The evidence against us,' said Ken, 'is that of Kemp, late bathroom
steward aboard the "Cardigan Castle," a man who has a personal grudge
against me because I caught him signalling to an enemy submarine.'

'Again your unsupported statement,' said Henkel.

'It's the truth,' growled Roy from the background.

'Your evidence in a case like this is valueless,' said Henkel shortly. He
turned to Ken again.

'Have you heard from your father since you last saw him?' he asked
suddenly.

The question took Ken unawares.

'From my father?' he said, with sudden eagerness. 'No. Is he alive?'

There was a gleam of triumph in Henkel's prominent eyes.

'Yes,' he answered. 'He is alive and--under the circumstances--well.'

'I--I thought' began Ken and stopped.

'You thought that he had been shot,' said Henkel grimly. 'That would
indeed have been his fate but for my interference. I used my influence to
get his sentence altered to a term of imprisonment.'

Ken changed colour. He found it desperately difficult to keep a cool head.
The news that his father was alive had filled him with burning excitement.
The two had always been the best of chums, more like an elder and younger
brother than father and son.

'Where is he?' he asked sharply.

'At present in Constantinople,' replied Henkel, who was watching Ken
keenly. 'But it is likely that he will presently be sent elsewhere.'

'What--into Asia Minor?' said Ken in dismay. Constantinople was bad
enough, but nothing to the horrors of the Turkish prisons in Asia.

'Not so far as that. He is to be moved, with others of the British and
French, to Gallipoli.'

Ken's cheeks went white. His eyes were full of horror.

'You are perhaps aware,' continued Henkel, 'that the Turkish Government
has decided upon this step as a response to the bombardment of unfortified
places by your fleet. If Turkish civilians are to be killed, it is only
fair that enemy civilians should share their fate.'

'Enver Bey seems to have learnt his German pretty thoroughly,' put in Roy
sarcastically.

Henkel's eyes glared as he turned upon him.

'Be silent!' he ordered, with a fury he could hardly repress.

Roy merely smiled, and Henkel turned again to Ken.

'It lies with you whether your father goes to Gallipoli or not,' he said
curtly. 'I have sufficient influence to prevent his being sent there.'

'How do you mean?' Ken asked thickly.

'I will tell you plainly. Your father still holds the title deeds of
certain property near Ipsala. This property he has, of course, forfeited
since his conviction. I wish to purchase this land from the Turkish
Government, but owing to the absence of the deeds, which are, apparently,
in a London bank, there are difficulties as to the transfer.

'What I require is a letter from you to your father, asking him to
authorise the return of these deeds. In return for this small service I
will arrange for you and your companion to be treated as prisoners of war
and sent to Constantinople, where you will remain until the end of the
war, as will also your father.'

He stopped, and stood watching Ken keenly.

Ken was in an agony of indecision. So far as he himself was concerned, he
would not have hesitated a moment in refusing the terms offered by Henkel.
But there was his father to think of--and Roy.

His voice was strained and harsh as he spoke again.

'How do you know that my father would agree to any such letter, even if I
was to write it?' he asked.

'Because,' answered Henkel, 'your life will depend upon a favourable
answer.'

Ken paused again.

'Don't do it, Ken,' broke in Roy. 'I don't know your father, but I'm
mighty sure he wouldn't stick for this kind of blackmail.'

Henkel swung round on him in a fury.

'Potztausend! Keep silence, fool! Your own life as well as two others
depends upon Carrington's answer.'

'I wouldn't give sixpence for my life if I had to keep it on terms like
those,' retorted Roy.

'Nor would I,' said Ken sharply. 'And I know my father would say the same.
Whatever happens, he would never consent to letting you blackmail him,
Colonel Henkel.'

'Blackmail, schelm! What are you talking about? Don't I tell you that by
his sentence your father has forfeited all right to any landed property
under the Turkish Government?'

'Yes, but that country won't be Turkish any more after the war. And then
my younger brother, who is at school at home, will inherit. No, we are not
going to cut him out and leave him penniless. Do your worst, Henkel.'

Henkel's great coarse face went livid. He burst into a storm of savage
profanity.

'Enough!' he cried at last. 'You have brought your fate upon yourselves.
You have sealed your own death warrant. You shall be shot within an hour,
and as for your father, he shall be taken to Gallipoli within the week,
and if he survives the fire of your own warships, I shall find other
means of dealing with him.'

He rushed out, slamming the door behind him.

'Got his monkey up pretty thoroughly,' said Roy with a laugh. Then seeing
how grave Ken's face was.

'Don't worry, dear chap. You couldn't possibly have done anything else.
And as for a bullet in the heart, what is it? It don't take long and it
don't hurt, and we can always feel we've played the game.'

As he spoke he came closer and laid his shackled hands on Ken's shoulder.

'Thank you, Roy,' said Ken in a very low voice. 'You--you've helped me a
lot. It--it's father I'm thinking of.'

'I know. But after all he isn't dead yet. And like as not this swab Henkel
may get wiped out before he has the chance of doing him down.'

Silence fell between them. They sat with their backs against the wall,
their hearts too full to talk. Ken's thoughts were with his father and his
younger brother Anthony; Roy's were back in New Zealand, picturing the
sunny plains and wild ranges around his home, the brawling rivers and the
white sheep grazing on the great grass lands.

The last rays of the sun shone through the one small window of the hut,
and presently came the tramp of men outside.

The corporal opened the door, the boys walked out, and guarded on either
side were marched once more up the foul, narrow street to the higher
ground above.

Beyond the house where their mock trial had taken place was a vineyard
surrounded by a stone wall. Against this they were posted while the firing
party was detailed.

Henkel, his bloodshot eyes aflame with ill-suppressed rage, stalked up to
them.

'I give you a last chance,' he said harshly to Ken. 'I have told the
others that you have certain information which I will take in exchange for
your lives. Give me your word that you will write that letter, and all
will be well.'

'You have had my answer,' said Ken quietly. 'Now go and watch us being
murdered.'

Henkel bit his lip savagely.

'Your blood is on your own heads,' he said hoarsely. 'I have given you
every chance.'

He stamped away, and as he did so took a handkerchief out of his pocket.

'When I drop this, fire,' he said curtly to the eight Turks who composed
the firing party.

'Good-bye, old chap,' said Ken to Roy.

'Oh, I don't know,' Roy answered. 'After all, we're going together.'

Ken hardly heard. He was still tortured with the feeling that it was
through him that Roy Horan and his father were to lose their lives. He
knew he was right, and yet--'

A sound like a maxim gun in the distance smote upon his ears. It grew
louder every instant. All, even Henkel, glanced upwards.

'Only an aeroplane, Ken,' said Roy in a whisper. 'By Jove, though, it's
one of our chaps.'

Across the rich blue of the evening sky a great Farman biplane came
sailing like a gigantic bird. She was barely five hundred feet up, and
heading straight for the village. What was more, she was actually coming
lower every moment.

Henkel, the other officer, the firing party, the bystanders--all stood
with their eyes fixed upon the plane. The cool insolence of her pilot held
them spellbound. For the moment Ken and Roy were absolutely forgotten.

Henkel was the first to recover himself.

'Shoot it down!' he bellowed. 'Shoot it down!' And the Turks, perhaps not
altogether sorry to find some other use for their bullets than the
slaughter of two helpless prisoners, raised their muzzles to the sky, and
began blazing away furiously. Even Henkel, Hartmann, and Von Steegman
hauled out their pistols from their belt holsters and fired for all they
were worth.

But a plane travelling at a mile a minute is not the easiest thing in the
world to hit, especially when it seems to be coming right at you. Possibly
some of the bullets pierced the widespread wings, but no harm was done to
the observer or his pilot.

Suddenly Ken seized Roy with his manacled hands.

'Down!' he cried sharply. 'Down!'

Roy understood and flung himself flat upon the ground, and Ken instantly
followed his example.

Only just in time. Next second a black streak darted from the plane and
shot earthwards. Followed an earth-shaking roar, and a blinding flash of
flame.

[Illustration: 'All, even Henkel, glanced upwards.']

Ken, flat on his face, felt the blast of it, and covered his head with his
arms. Earth, small stones, debris of all kinds rained upon him, then
followed silence, broken only by the rapidly diminishing roar of the
engine exhaust.

Ken ventured to roll over. This is what he saw.

Between him and the spot where the firing party had stood, but nearer to
the latter, was a great cavity in the ground, a hole ten feet across and
perhaps a yard deep. Beyond, half buried in the mass of rubbish flung up
by the explosion, were the broken remains of the firing party. All but one
were dead, and most were blasted to fragments. The one survivor lay
helpless and groaning.

Farther away the three officers were prone and still upon the ground, but
whether dead or merely damaged, Ken could not tell. He hoped the former.
Farther still, half a dozen other Turkish soldiers lay, twisted in ugly
fashion, covered with blood. They had been badly cut by the jagged
fragments of stone flung up by the bursting bomb. The survivors, a score
or so in number, were running in blind panic towards the village.

'Roy, Roy! Quickly! We've a chance still,' cried Ken, his voice tense with
excitement.

He sprang up as he spoke, and Roy staggered dazedly to his feet.

'This way!' said Ken, and in spite of the hampering handcuffs he managed
to scramble over the low wall into the vineyard.

Roy followed.

'It's no use, Ken,' he said. 'We can't run with these beastly handcuffs,
and they'll be after us in two twos.'

'Not they! Look!'

He pointed to the plane. It had circled wide over the town and was now
coming back. The faint popping of rifles was followed by another terrific
crash. A second bomb had dropped clean upon one of the larger houses, and
exploding on the flat roof had scattered the whole building as a man's
foot might scatter an ant's nest. With a roar half the house toppled
outwards into the street, blocking it completely.

'Fine! Oh, fine!' cried Roy. 'That chap knows his business. Gee, but I
wish we were alongside him.'

'Much use that would be! A plane can't carry four. But don't you see? He
has spotted us. Those bombs are meant to give us our chance. It's up to us
to take it. Hurry, Roy! If we can reach that wood yonder, we may be able
to hide till dark.'

To run at all with tied hands is no easy matter. To make any sort of pace
over rough ground, in such condition, is well-nigh impossible. Yet Ken and
Roy, knowing absolutely that their lives depended on reaching that wood
before their disappearance was realised, did manage to run and to run
pretty fast.

Once more they heard the crashing explosion of a bomb, then suddenly the
sound of the plane grew louder until the engine rattled almost overhead.

Ken stopped and looked up. The plane was passing no more than two hundred
feet above them.

Over the edge of the fuselage a face appeared, a white dot framed in a
khaki flying hood. An arm was thrust out, something dropped from it. There
was a quick wave of a hand, then with the speed of a frightened wild duck,
the plane shot away, came round in a finely banked curve, and disappeared
in a south-easterly direction.

'Roy!' gasped Ken, breathless. 'Did you see that?'

'I saw him drop something--I saw it fall. There--there it is.'

Hurrying on for about fifty yards, he stooped swiftly and picked up
something small but heavy.

'The daisy! Oh, the daisy!' panted Roy. 'I'll love that fellow to the end
of my life.'

He held up the object which the airman had flung down. It was a hammer and
a cold chisel tied together, with a leaf from a notebook under the string.

There was an ancient olive tree against the far wall of the vineyard.
Cowering under its shelter, Roy tore the string off with his strong white
teeth, then picked up the paper. These were the hurried words scrawled in
pencil:-- 'Sorry! All we can do for you. Make east. Your only chance.'

'East? That means the Straits. Why is that our only chance?' muttered Ken.

'Never mind that now,' Roy answered hastily. 'We must get our hands free.
Confound it! We can't use the chisel. But here's a stone with a sharp
edge. Try what you can do with the hammer, Ken.'

Ken took one quick glance in the direction of the village, but there was
no one in sight. He caught hold of the hammer in both hands and brought it
down with all his force on the link between Roy's handcuffs.

More by chance than skill the blow fell absolutely true, and the steel,
either flawed or over-tempered, snapped.

Roy gave a cry of delight, and snatching the hammer from Ken took up the
chisel and set to work on his bonds. His powerful hands made short work of
the link, and within less than three minutes from the time the man in the
plane had dropped the tools, they were both free.

With a deep sigh of relief, Roy sprang to his feet. 'We're our own men
again, Ken. Come on.' He leaped lightly over the wall and raced away
towards the trees. Ken followed.

They had no food, no weapons, they were miles from their own people, in
the heart of the enemy country. Yet, for all that, there were not at that
moment two lighter hearts in the whole of the Gallipoli Peninsula.



CHAPTER XII

ABOVE THE NARROWS


An intermittent thunder of guns had been growing heavier for the past
hour. Now, as the two fugitives crouched on the eastern side of a steeply
sloping hill, they were so near that they could distinctly see the flashes
from the muzzles through the darkness of the night.

'That's either Fort Degetman or Kilid Bahr,' said Ken in a low voice. 'Ah,
there are two. The right-hand one--the one to the south--is Kilid Bahr.'

"Then we're opposite the Narrows," Roy answered breathlessly.

"Just so," said Ken, but though he spoke quietly enough, he, too, felt a
thrill. For five long hours they had been pushing east, or rather
south-eastwards. They had crossed the main road leading to Great Maidos,
they had had hairbreadth escapes sufficient to last most folk for a
lifetime, and now at a little after one in the morning, they had crossed
the whole peninsula, and were facing the famous Narrows, with their double
cordon of forts on both sides of the Straits, the nut which for so many
weeks all the Powers of the British and French combined had been engaged
in trying to crack.

[Illustration: "That's either Fort Degetman or Kalis Bahr."]

Opposite, a few scattered lights showed where lay the town of Chanak on
the Asiatic side of the Narrows. From forts along that coast also, there
now and then darted a spit of flame, while half a minute or so later the
dull roar of the report would reverberate through the night.

"We've gone east," said Roy slowly. "We've done what that chap in the
plane told us to do. But I'm hanged if I can see how we're to go any
farther."

'Unless,' he added thoughtfully, 'we are going to swim for it.'

'A bit far for that,' said Ken. 'We are just thirteen miles from the mouth
of the Straits, and though they say the current runs down at four miles an
hour, I don't think either of us could stand three hours in the water.'

'Not me!' replied Roy with a shiver. 'Too jolly cold!'

'We must get hold of a boat,' said Ken with decision. 'That's our only
chance.'

'Lead on, sonny,' said Roy--'that is, if you know where to find one.'

'I haven't much more notion than you, Roy. But there's just this in our
favour--that I know there's a little cove south of Kilid Bahr. And as all
the coast on either side is cliffs, the chances are that boats, if there
are any, will be lying in that cove.'

'So will half the Turkish Army, most probably,' said Roy recklessly. 'Not
that I care. The only thing I mind is handcuffs. I'm going to slay the
first chap who suggests them.'

Ken was not listening. He was staring out towards the Straits, trying to
get the lie of the land. The coast itself he knew well, for he had been up
and down the Dardanelles a number of times. But of the land he was
ignorant, and it is no joke to find one's way by night over such a country
as the Gallipoli Peninsula.

'Come on, then,' he said presently, and turned due south down the
hill-side.

Not a yard of their journey had been without its risks, but now they had
to be more careful than ever. The whole shore of the Straits was, they
knew, a network of forts and hidden defences. There was no saying when
they might blunder upon something of the kind.

Half-way down the hill, Ken, who was leading, pulled up.

'Look out!' he muttered. 'There's a pit of some sort just in front of us.
Wait, I'll see what it is.'

He dropped on hands and knees and crawled forward. He was away for only a
few moments.

'Nothing but a shell hole,' he explained, 'but it's a regular crater. Must
have been done by one of our twelve-inch guns. Two dead Turks alongside
it.'

'Rum place for a shell to fall,' Roy answered, straining his eyes through
the gloom.

'It means there's a fort somewhere near,' said Ken. 'Our people don't
waste shells on empty hill-sides, I can tell you.'

'Wish it wasn't so infernally dark,' growled Roy.

'I'm jolly glad it is,' answered Ken emphatically. 'Put it any way you
like, it helps us more than the enemy.'

They saw nothing of the fort, if there was one, and after crossing some
very broken ground came down into a narrow valley, in the centre of which
was the bed of a water-course, now dry.

'That's better,' whispered Ken, as he dropped down into it. 'This ought to
bring us out on the beach.'

The bottom was sun-baked mud and dry stones which, together, formed about
as unpleasant a combination for walking over as could well be imagined,
especially since it was absolutely necessary to move without a sound. Both
were deeply grateful when at last the torrent bed widened, and they heard
the lap of ripples on a beach.

'I feel like those old Greek Johnnies,' said Roy, 'the ones who'd been
wandering for a year over there in Asia, and who chucked their helmets
into the air and yelled when they saw the sea.'

'Well, don't try any tricks of that sort here, old man,' Ken answered
dryly. 'Wait a jiffy. I'm going forward to get a squint at the beach.'

He crept away, bent double, and was gone for so long that Roy began to get
uneasy. But at last he saw Ken stealing back.

'What luck?' he whispered.

'None,' Ken answered in a tone of bitter disappointment.

'What--no boats?'

'Plenty of boats, but there are men behind them. I don't know how many,
but quite a lot. I don't even know whether they are troops. They are
sitting about on the shingle, talking and smoking. Anyhow there are too
many for us to tackle.'

Roy grunted. 'That's bad. But, see here, Ken, we've got to have a boat
some way or other.'

'We're going to,' said Ken fiercely, 'but I'm afraid it means crawling all
the way back up that beastly water-course.'

'Up the water-course?' repeated Roy. 'Great Ghost, there are no boats up
there.'

'It's not boats I'm after in the first place, it's a disguise. See here.
You know I told you there were two dead Turks alongside that shell hole.
My notion is to take their uniforms or just their overcoats, and then walk
boldly down to the beach, and tell the chaps there that we have a despatch
to take across to Ghanak.'

'Put up a bluff,' Roy answered. 'I see. But surely they have a cable
across.'

'They had, but the "Sapphire" cut it. And since it's gone, why I should
fancy the only way of getting messages across is by boat.'

'But what about the password?' suggested Roy.

'We'll have to chance that. There are not likely to be any officers about
on the beach at night. It isn't as if there was any danger of attack here.
They are right under the forts of the Narrows.'

'Well,' said Roy, rising with a sigh, 'it sounds a pretty good scheme. But
I'd give more than sixpence to get out of crawling back up that abominable
gully.

'I'm afraid there's no help for it,' replied Ken, as he started.

Both were tired with their long tramp across country, and they were sadly
in need of food and rest. It was wretchedly disappointing, after they had
at last made the sea, to have to turn back again inland. They were a very
silent pair as they toiled back over the cracked clay and loose stones.

There was worse to come. In the darkness they missed the exact spot where
they had first entered the gully, and when they reached the hill-side
found that they were lost. Neither of them had the least idea of the
whereabouts of the shell hole with the bodies of the two dead Turks.

[Illustration: Our boys bring in a Turkish sniper, who by the ample use of
foliage has turned himself into a sort of Jack-in-the-Green.]

[Illustration: Reinforcements of Turkish artillery and machine gun
batteries to bar the passage of our boys in khaki.]

A good half-hour they wasted in vain search, then Ken dropped behind the
shelter of a small bush.

'It's no use, Roy,' he said desperately. 'I can't find it. We're simply
wasting time.'

Instead of answering, Roy took hold of Ken's arm with a grip that was like
that of a steel vice.

'Hush!' he whispered, and pointed.

Two figures had risen in front, apparently out of the very depths of the
earth. They were not more than twenty paces away.

The boys crouched, breathless. A moment later, two other figures loomed
through the darkness, coming down the slope. They came straight up to the
first two.

'By Eblis, but thou hast not hurried thyself Ali!' said one of the latter,
speaking in Turkish. 'Hassan and I were about to come and seek thee.'

One of the others gave a laugh.

'I am sorry, brother. We slept and no one awaked us. Is all well?'

'All is well. What else should it be? Who but a dog of an unbelieving
German would waste men's time in guarding such a place as this?'

'Of a truth it is foolishness,' said the man named Ali. 'The British are
far enough away, Allah knows.'

'A good watch to thee,' said Hassan in rather a surly tone. Then he and
his companion tramped away uphill, and Ali and the other sank down into
what was evidently a trench.

Hastily Ken translated what he had heard for Roy.

'They are sentries,' he said, 'and I suppose there is some underground
work here which they have been set to guard.'

'And by the looks of it, they are the only men there,' Roy replied
eagerly. 'Ken, I think I see those coats materialising.'

'It might be done,' said Ken. 'As you say, they are probably the only men
in the place, whatever it is. And clearly they take their job pretty
easily. If we can catch them napping we ought to be able to polish them
off.'

'We will catch them napping, and we will polish them off,' Roy said
grimly. 'Mind you, Ken, they mustn't shoot.'

He began to creep forward on hands and knees. Ken kept abreast. A minute
later, they found themselves at the sloping entrance of what was evidently
a communication trench.

'We'd best keep on top,' whispered Roy. 'You go one side, I'll take the
other. When we get above them, we must both drop together. Jump right on
them, and put 'em out before they know what's up.'

There was no doubt about this being the best plan, and they started at
once. Roy went off with his usual confidence, but Ken, more highly strung,
felt his heart thumping as he crawled along the rough edge of the deep,
dark ditch.

It seemed to him that they went a very long way before he saw Roy stop and
lift one hand. He himself peered over cautiously. The stars gave just
enough light to see the two Turkish sentries.

They were leaning carelessly against the wall of the trench. One was
smoking, the other apparently rolling a cigarette. They were chatting in
low voices, and so far as Ken could make out, neither held his rifle.

Roy pointed to the one nearest Ken. Ken nodded, and rose very quietly to
his feet.

The Turk firmly believes that certain places, bare hill-sides especially,
are haunted by unpleasant bogies which he calls Djinns and Afrits. If ever
any Turk was fully convinced that a Djinn had him, it must have been the
sentry that Ken jumped on.

He landed absolutely straight on the man's shoulders, and down he went
flat on his face, with Ken on top of him. His forehead struck the opposite
wall of the trench, and though Ken wasted no time at all in getting hold
of his throat, this was quite unnecessary. The wretched Turk was limp as a
wet dish-rag and quite insensible.

'Good business, Ken!' said Roy, and glancing round Ken saw his chum
kneeling on the chest of the second man, one big hand compressing his
wind-pipe. 'Good business! We've got them both, and no fuss about it.
Confound it! These fellows don't run to handkerchiefs. Wait a jiffy. I
must get his belt off.'

Neither of the Turks was in condition to put up any resistance, and in a
very few moments they were stripped of overcoats, shakos, and haversacks.
They were then tied and carefully gagged.

Roy pulled on the overcoat of the bigger man.

'I've seen better fits,' he remarked. 'But it will do in this light. Now
for that boat.'

'One minute!' said Ken, 'let's just see what they were guarding.'

He slipped along the trench, Roy after him, and a few yards farther on it
sloped downwards, then widened into a deepish semicircular excavation. In
the middle of this was a great lump of something which, as they came
nearer, resolved itself into a gun of some sort. It was very thick, very
short, it stood on a concrete platform, and its squat muzzle pointed
almost straight up into the air.

'It's a howitzer,' said Ken.

'Rummiest looking howitzer I ever saw,' Roy answered. 'Looks as if it came
out of the Ark.'

'Came out of the Crimea, I expect. They used this kind of thing sixty
years ago. It's a muzzle loader, you see.'

'And shoots real cannon balls,' said Roy, pointing to a pyramid of huge
iron globes, each about fourteen inches in diameter.

'I wonder where the powder is,' said Ken with sudden eagerness.

'What's up now?' demanded Roy.

'I've got it,' said Ken quickly, as he began pulling a tarpaulin off a
pile of canvas bags. 'A rare lot of it too!'

'You're not thinking by any chance of lobbing shot into Maidos, are you?'
asked Roy sarcastically.

'Not that,' said Ken. 'Hardly that. But what about setting off this little
lot? My notion is this. If we could put a slow match to the powder and
then clear out and get down to the mouth of the water-course before it
goes off, I believe those loafers down on the beach would all come running
up here to see what had happened. That would give us our chance to collar
a boat and clear.'

Roy gave a low chuckle.

'Not a bad notion, old son. Not half a bad idea. Yes, it certainly would
wake some of 'em up. But what about the slow match? We've got no fuse.'

Ken held out an old-fashioned candle lantern.

'I bagged this from the sentry. There's just half an inch of candle in it.
We've nothing to do but lay a train of loose powder up to it.'

Roy chuckled again.

'You're a bad 'un to beat, Ken. Yes, that ought to work. Let's get at it.'

The powder was just as old-fashioned as the rest of the outfit. Common
black stuff, large grained, coarser even than blasting powder. Once they
got a bag open it did not take them long to lay the train to the lantern,
which Ken placed in a little excavation kicked out right under the front
wall of the earthwork.

'Don't think any one will see it there,' he said, as he cut the candle
down a trifle and lit it cautiously with a sputtering sulphur match, part
of the spoil from the Turkish sentry.

'I suppose those sentries are far enough off to be all right,' he added,
as he rose hastily to his feet.

'Bless you, yes. This stuff isn't like high explosive. It'll only go up
with a bang and a fizz like a big firework. Skip. We've got to be at the
beach by the time she goes off.'

They knew their way by now, and in spite of the darkness, wasted very
little time in reaching the ravine. All was very quiet. The Turkish guns,
which had been firing probably at some mine-sweeper, were silent again.
The only sounds of war were an occasional boom far to the south where the
British and French faced the Turks entrenched on the heights of Achi Baba.

Bent double, the two scurried across the waste of cracked clay and loose
stones, and in less than half the time they had taken for their first
journey, reached the point where it debouched upon the open beach.

Ken dropped, panting slightly, and Roy slipping down beside him, caught a
glint of dark water rippling under the starlight.

From somewhere to the left came a murmur of voices, and the breeze brought
to his nostrils a faint odour of tobacco smoke.

Seconds dragged like minutes as they lay waiting. The suspense was very
hard to bear.

Roy put his mouth close to Ken's ear.

'Afraid your contraption's gone wrong, old son. Don't seem to hear that
bust up you promised.'

'Unless the powder was damp--' began Ken. His sentence was cut short by a
thunderous boom. The earth quivered beneath them, and sky, sea, even the
tall cliffs opposite flared crimson.

The great glow passed as swiftly as it had come, there followed a rattle
of falling rubbish, then silence dropped. Silence, however, which lasted
no longer than the flash. Almost instantly burst out a hubbub of excited
voices, there was a rattle of sandalled feet on shingle and a sound of men
running hard.

Roy sprang to his feet, but Ken caught him by the arm.

'Steady! Don't hurry, or you'll give the show away. It's not likely
they're all gone.'

'Every man Jack of 'em,' Roy answered, as he walked boldly out on to the
beach.

Ken glanced round sharply. It seemed as though Roy were right. So far as
he could see, the whole population of the beach had departed for the scene
of the explosion.

'There are the boats,' said Roy. 'Three, four--yes, half a dozen of them.
Now we shan't be long.' 'They're great clumsy brutes of things,' Ken
answered. Hang it all! There isn't one we can manage between us.'

'Wait. There's a smaller one beyond. That might do us.' muttered Roy,
hurrying forward.

Ken followed quickly. As Roy had said, this boat which lay by itself was
decidedly smaller than the others. It had, however, been pulled clear of
the water.

'Good, she's got a pair of oars,' said Roy. 'Give us a hand to launch her,
Ken.'

She was a considerable weight, and the shingle was deep and soft. There is
no tide in these waters, so the beaches are dry like those of a lake. In
spite of their best efforts, it took them some little time to get her
afloat.

They had only just succeeded and Ken was scrambling aboard, when rapid
steps came hurrying down the beach.

'Halt!' came a sharp voice speaking in Turkish. 'Who goes there?'



CHAPTER XIII

THE SWEEPERS


'Hurry!' hissed Roy.

'No use,' was the low-voiced answer. 'He'd get us both before we were out
of range.' As he spoke, Ken turned and stepped swiftly back to the beach.

'Friend,' he answered, speaking in the same language. 'Despatches for
Chanak from Colonel Gratz.'

The sentry, a burly Turk, armed with a Mauser rifle, pulled up opposite
Ken.

'Despatches,' he repeated suspiciously. 'Why are they being sent by boat?
And who gave you leave to use this boat?'

In a flash Roy saw that this was a man of more intelligence than the
average run of Turkish soldiers, and that it would be useless to try and
bluff him. The only chance was to put him out.

'We had our orders,' he said. 'You can look at them if you wish.' He
pretended to take something out of his pocket, at the same time stepping
forward. Then, like a flash, he drove his fist with all his might into the
Turk's face.

The man reeled backwards, but did not fall. Next moment he uttered a shout
that rang through the night.

'We've done it now,' growled Roy, as he leaped past Ken, and caught the
wretched sentry by the throat with a grip that effectually prevented any
further sound.

'Take his rifle, Ken,' he said sharply. 'It's all right. I'll gag him. You
get into the boat.'

How he did it Ken did not know, but within an incredibly short time Roy
had sprung into the water, pushed the boat off, and scrambled aboard.

'I'll take the oars,' he said unceremoniously, and Ken, though himself a
useful man with sculls, made no objection. Roy's strength, he knew, was
greater than his own.

In a trice Roy had flung off his Turkish overcoat and British tunic. The
blades bent as he sent the boat hissing through the water.

There was no tiller, but Ken found a broken scull at the bottom of the
boat with which he contrived to steer. He kept her head due south, but
fairly close in shore, and what between Roy's powerful efforts, and the
strong current which always flows out of the Sea of Marmora into the
Aegean, they were soon going almost as fast as a man could run.

'It'll be Heaven's own luck if no one heard that yell,' muttered Roy, as
he bent all his giant strength to the oars.

'I wish it had been your fist and not mine,' Ken replied with some
bitterness.

'But I couldn't have got near him,' Roy answered simply. 'You see, I don't
speak the lingo.'

The vicious crack of a rifle interrupted the conversation, and a bullet
slapped the water just astern, and went skipping away in a series of ducks
and drakes.

'They're on to us,' muttered Ken between set teeth. Roy said nothing. He
only pulled a little harder. By the way the oars bent, Ken almost feared
they would snap.

Another spit of white flame from the beach, another, and another. Still
they were unhit, and every moment the distance was increasing. They had
got beyond the low beach, and were under the cliffs to the southward.

'We may do it yet,' muttered Ken. 'They can't see us in this light. And
there are not more than two chaps firing.'

There was a moment's pause in the firing. Ken's spirits rose. He
thought--hoped that the Turks had given it up as a bad job. Then, just as
it seemed as though they were really out of range, there rang out a
regular volley, and all around them the water splashed in little jets of
pale foam. There came a thud, the boat quivered slightly, and white
splinters flew near Ken's feet, one cutting him slightly on the shin.

'Hit?' panted Roy, as he saw Ken wince.

'Nothing. It's the boat,' answered Ken briefly, as he bent to examine the
damage.

A few seconds later, and they had rounded the projecting point of rock on
which stands the old lighthouse. The firing ceased.

Roy slackened a little.

'Much damage?' he asked curtly.

'Holed her badly,' Ken answered. 'She's leaking like a sieve.'

'Rotten luck!' growled Roy. 'And just as we'd dodged the blighters. Can
you do anything with it?'

'Ram a handkerchief in--that's all. Of course, I can bale.'

'Well, keep her afloat as long as you can. It won't be exactly healthy if
we have to land anywhere here. All forts, isn't it?'

'Yes, down as far as Tekeh. Not that the forts will do us any harm, even
if they're warned. We're too small and too close in for gun fire. But
there's no place to land for nearly two miles--not until you get to what
they call the Fountain.'

Apparently the forts were not warned. As the 'Triumph' had been slamming
12-inch shells into them only the previous night, the chances were that
the telephone wires were cut. Roy kept going with long steady strokes,
while Ken, working even harder, baled frantically the whole time.

So they drove on without speaking for about a quarter of an hour.

At last Ken straightened his aching back. 'It's no use, Roy. The water's
gaining. I can't keep it down.'

'You needn't tell me that. I've been over my ankles the last five minutes,
and she's pulling like a sunk log.'

'What are we going to do?' said Ken--'Try for the Fountain landing?'



'Might as well, I suppose. Any chance of picking up another boat, d'ye
think?'

'Pretty slim, I fancy,' answered Ken. 'There are sure to be sentries
there. You see, it's the sort of place where our people might attempt a
landing.'

[Illustration: '"She's leaking like a sieve."']

'Could we try for the other side?' suggested Roy.

'Out of the question,' said Ken. 'We're opposite Sari Siglar Bay. The
Straits are nearly three miles wide here.'

Roy gave a short laugh. 'Looks as if we should have to swim for it after
all,' he said. 'Well, the only thing is to keep going until she sinks
under us. Then we must scramble ashore and take our chances.'

He pulled on again, and Ken betook himself to his everlasting task of
baling. He was mortally tired and desperately sleepy. His eyes almost
closed as he dipped and dipped in the salt water which, in spite of all
his efforts, grew steadily deeper in the bottom of the boat. The lower she
sank, the more quickly the water spurted in. Each minute that passed
brought the inevitable end closer.

Once he glanced up to see, if possible, where they were. To the right tall
black cliffs towered against the night sky, to the left the stars twinkled
in the ripples of the deep and wide Straits.

Roy pulled like a machine, but the weight of water made his efforts almost
useless. The boat sogged slowly forward like a dead thing.

'She won't last another five minutes,' said Ken.

'And there's no landing place, old chap. We're right up against it.'

'Tell you what there is, though,' said Ken keenly. 'There's a craft of
some sort out there. Don't you hear her engines?'

Roy stopped pulling a moment. In the silence a faint chug, chug reached
their ears.

'What do you think she is--one of our warships?' he asked in a whisper.

'Haven't a notion. But she's probably British or French. The Turks haven't
got much in the way of craft--at least not this side of Gallipoli.'

'Then I vote for trying to make her,' said Roy. 'Right you are,' Ken
answered, and began baling harder than ever Roy, pulling on his left-hand
oar, got the boat round, and made a last spurt in the direction of the
sound.

It seemed a very forlorn hope. They could not even see the craft--whatever
she was--and their boat manifestly had but a short time to live. If she
sank out in mid-straits there was no earthly chance of reaching the shore.
Drowning was certain.

Three minutes passed. The water in the boat was nearly knee deep. Pull as
he might, Roy could hardly keep her moving. Ken raised his head and peered
out through the gloom.

'I see her,' he said with sudden eagerness. He pointed as he spoke to a
dim shape not more than a couple of hundred yards away.

Roy glanced back over his shoulder. 'She's very small,' he said, 'and
she's working upstream. Hallo, there's another just beyond her--a pair of
'em.'

'Two, are there? Then I tell you what they are--trawlers.'

'Trawlers!' echoed Roy. 'What--catching herrings for the Admiral's
breakfast?'

'No, you ass--mines. They're mine-sweepers of course.' Roy gave a low
whistle.

'I'd sooner catch herrings,' he said. 'But never mind. So long as they're
British, that's all that matters.' And he set to pulling again with all
the energy left him.

The trawlers were creeping along at very slow speed, and without a light
of any sort showing. There was not even the usual glow from the funnel
top. Lucky it was for Roy and Ken that they were going so slowly, for they
were still some little distance from the nearest trawler when the ripples
began to wash over the gunwale of the water-logged boat.

'Help!' shouted Roy hoarsely. 'Help!'

'Pull on!' said Ken, as he still baled frantically. 'Pull on! They can't
come round if they've got their sweeping cable out.'

Roy made a last effort, and whether it was Roy's shout or the sound of the
oars, some one aboard the trawler heard them.

'Who are you?' came a gruff voice, half-muffled, as though afraid of being
overheard on shore.

'Friends--British,' answered Ken. 'Our boat's sinking.'

There came a sharp order echoed from the farther ship. The trawlers both
slackened speed.

'Come alongside, if you can. We can't pull out to you,' called the same
voice that Ken had heard previously.

A few more strokes, then just as the boat was actually sinking under them,
a rope came whizzing across. Roy caught it and a moment later, wet and
draggled, they were standing on the deck of the trawler.

'Well, I'll be everlastingly jiggered,' exclaimed a gruff voice. 'Where in
all that's wonderful did you fellers spring from?' The speaker was a
short, square man, but it was so dark that all they could see of his face
was that it was round and clean-shaven.

'Out of the Dardanelles last, and before that from Kilid Bahr,' Ken
answered. 'We're escaped prisoners.'

'Gosh, you've been in warm places, young fellers,' said the other, 'but I
kind o' think it's a case of out of the frying pan into the fire.'

'Fire's better than water, specially when it's as cold as the Straits,'
said Roy with a shiver.

'Well, maybe that's so,' replied the other. 'Get you gone below, the both
o' you. You'll find a fire in the galley and the cook'll give ye some hot
cocoa.'

'Thanks awfully,' said Ken and Roy in one breath, and hurried off at once.

The cook, a lean, solemn-faced man named Lemuel Gill, showed no surprise
whatever at the sudden apparition of two half-drowned strangers. But if he
asked no questions he was not stingy with the cocoa, and Roy and Ken put
away a quart of it between them, and openly declared they had never tasted
anything so good in all their lives.

Their praise seemed to please Gill, for he proceeded to cut some gigantic
sandwiches out of stale bread and excellent cold boiled pork, and to these
also the hungry youngsters did justice.

'What ship is this?' asked Ken, when the first pangs of hunger had been
satisfied.

'"Maid o' Sker." Mine--sweeper. Skipper, Seth Grimball,' was the brief
answer. Then, after a pause, 'Where did you blokes come from?'

Ken told him, or rather began to, for before he had finished, the steady
beat of the engines suddenly slackened.

'Cotched one, I reckon,' remarked Gill briefly, and hurried on deck
followed by the two boys.

The 'Maid of Sker' was the ordinary type of North Sea trawler, and so far
as Ken and Roy could see, her fellow, whose name Gill told them was the
'Swan of Avon,' was her double. They were moving exactly parallel, at a
distance of about a cable (220 yards) apart. Between them towed a thin
steel hawser set to a depth just sufficient to catch the mooring cables of
the mines which were plentifully strewn in the channel.

'Caught one, you say?' whispered Ken in Gill's ear. 'A mine, you mean?'

'Ay. Look at the cable. She's foul of it all right.'

Certainly the cable was sagging in a curious fashion.

'What do you do with them?' asked Roy.

But Gill had already run aft to assist. Low-voiced orders were heard, and
the 'Maid of Sker' began to forge slowly ahead.

'I think they're going to tow it out of the channel,' Ken said to Roy.
'That's what I believe they do.'

'But I thought the beastly things exploded when you touched 'em,' said
Roy.

'Some do. That's the sort with steel whiskers on them. The others are what
they call tilting mines. They blow up when their balance is upset.'

'And which is this?'

'I don't know any more than you, and I don't suppose the skipper does,
either. All these mines swim some way under the surface.'

'What's the betting on her going off?' said the irrepressible Roy.

'She won't,' said Ken confidently. 'These chaps know how to handle her.
She--'

He stopped short, and involuntarily flung up his hands before his eyes. A
cone of blinding white light had sprouted suddenly from the Asiatic shore,
and in its cold brilliance the outlines of the two trawlers, the people on
their decks, the cable towing between them, and a wide patch of rippling
water stood out as clearly as in the broadest daylight. It was a
searchlight from Kephez Point at the southern angle of Sari Siglar Bay.

'Haul up there. Haul on that cable. Sharp now!' bellowed Captain Grimball,
and his men sprang to obey. He himself dashed into the little deckhouse
and was out again in an instant with a rifle in his hand.

In the dazzling glare a great bulbous mass of dark-coloured metal heaved
slowly up out of the water midway between the two trawlers. It was hardly
in sight before Grimball had flung his rifle to his shoulder and fired.

Followed instantly an explosion so terrific that Ken distinctly felt the
deck of the trawler lift under his feet. A cloud of thick black smoke shot
high into the air, and as it rose a very waterspout descended upon the
little ship.

Roy and Ken staggered back, half deafened by the appalling concussion.

'Got that one, anyway,' they heard Grimball exclaim, as he dashed back to
the bridge and rang the engine bell for full steam. 'Got him all right.
Next question is whether the blighters will get us.'

Both trawlers seemed actuated by the same impulse. Both at the same time
surged ahead, while the sweeping cable was either cut or cast loose.

But the searchlight's brilliant beam followed relentlessly, and as the two
smart little craft cleared from the area of the black smoke cloud, there
came the ringing report of a 6-inch gun followed by the familiar whirr of
a heavy shell.

'Rotten shot!' snapped Grimball, as the shell, sailing well over the mast
top, plunged into the sea two hundred yards or more beyond.

'Hard aport!' he shouted, and the 'Maid' came spinning round almost as
smartly as a sailing dinghy. Next minute she and her consort were legging
it southwards at the very top of their speed.

For a moment they were clear of the dazzling radiance of the searchlight,
but only for a moment. Then the long pencil of glaring whiteness found
them again, and now the guns began to bark in earnest.

The 'Maid' seemed to know her peril. She squattered down into the water,
and the foaming wake lengthened, trailing far behind her. Forgetful of
their own danger, Roy and Ken watched breathless while the trawlers ran
the gauntlet of the forts.

A shell struck the water right under the bows of the 'Maid,' flinging up a
fountain which rose as high as the mainmast, and deluging the decks for a
second time.

'Mighty wet job this,' said Roy, shaking himself like a great dog. 'Rotten
luck we can't shoot back, eh, Ken?'

'Can't even do much running,' said Ken. 'Twelve knots is about our top
speed. 'Pon my soul, these chaps have got pluck.'

'The "Swan's" drawing ahead,' said Roy.

Almost as the words left his lips there came a shattering crash and a
sheet of flame leapt up from the other trawler. A shell had pitched full
upon her armoured wheel-house, and exploding had not only blown it away,
with the steersman, but opened up the whole deck. The poor little trawler,
with her steering gear smashed, swung round to starboard, and it was only
by the smartest seamanship that the 'Maid' avoided running her down.

'She's done,' said Roy, as he ran forward. 'She's sinking!'

He was right. The big shell had knocked her all to pieces. Grimball saw
this too, and in response to his rapid order, the 'Maid's' engines
stopped, and four stalwart fellows ran to the dinghy which lay in chocks
on her deck.

In a trice they had flung her over the low rail into the sea; two sprang
in and pulled hard for the rapidly sinking 'Swan.'

All the time the guns ashore were rapping and roaring. The sea was thick
with spouts of foam as shells big and little struck the surface.

'This infernal searchlight!' growled Roy. 'They're rotten shots, but
they're getting the range now.'

They were. Just as the dinghy drew alongside the 'Swan,' another 6-inch
plunged straight into her, amidships. It must have exploded in the
engine-room. The 'Swan' and all in her vanished from the face of the
waters, and when the smoke cloud lifted, the dinghy, upside down, with one
man clinging to it, was all that was left.

'A rope. Give us a rope!' shouted Roy. Some one ran forward, but even as
they did so a smaller shell caught the funnel of the 'Maid' and carried
two thirds of it away. With it went the man with the rope.

At the same moment the survivor who was clinging to the dinghy let go his
hold. Stunned by the concussion of the previous shell, he was sinking into
the depths.

'I can't stand that,' cried Roy, and with one spring was overboard and
striking out hard for the drowning man.

The racket and roar were appalling. Some field batteries behind Kephez had
joined in, and the whole night echoed with the quick crashes of the guns,
while the air was full of the train-like rattle of flying shells.

But in all the confusion Ken kept his head. Catching sight of a coil of
line on the deck close by the forward hatch, he sprang for it, made one
end fast to a bollard, and with a shout flung the other towards Roy.

It fell short, but Roy saw it and with a great effort reached it.

'Hang on!' roared Ken at the top of his voice. 'I'll pull you in.'

[Illustration: When the men return from the trenches, they find
sea-bathing most pleasant.]

[Illustration: French and British sailors are friends in play-time as in
war-time.]

He had hardly began to haul when the end came. A shell bigger than any yet
took the 'Maid of Sker' amidships. There was a fearful explosion, Ken felt
himself hurled forward, and next moment the chill waters of the
Dardanelles closed over his head.



CHAPTER XIV

G 2


Gasping with the sudden shock, Ken struck out and got his head above
water. Only a few yards away, he saw Roy still clinging tightly to the
survivor of the dinghy's crew. He swam hard towards him and managed to
reach him.

'You!' gasped Roy, who hardly seemed to have realised what had happened.

'The trawler's gone,' panted Roy, as he lifted one hand and dashed the
salt water from his eyes. 'Big shell got her. See, she's still afloat, but
sinking fast.'

Roy gave a groan. He seemed to be nearly at the end of his strength.

'The brutes!' he muttered.

'We must get hold of the dinghy again. It's our one chance,' said Ken.
'Here, let me help you with that chap.'

'Why, it's Gill,' he exclaimed, as he caught the man by the other arm, and
started paddling hard towards the dinghy, which, caught in the current,
was drifting steadily away southwards.

It was at this moment that the searchlight switched suddenly off. Darkness
shut down around them, leaving nothing in sight but the overturned boat, a
dim bulk among the dull ripples.

Roy was almost done as the result of the exertions he had made in holding
up Gill, and Gill himself weighted them terribly. For two minutes or more
Ken thought they would never reach the boat.

At last they managed it, and then they had only just strength enough left
to haul Gill up across it and, each with an arm across the keel, cling and
let themselves drift where the current took them.

'The skipper said it was out of the frying pan into the fire,' said Roy,
with a weak attempt at a laugh. 'He wasn't far out, eh, Ken?'

'He wasn't,' Ken agreed. 'I say, Roy, he had pluck, hadn't he? It took
grit to stand by the "Swan" under a fire like that.'

'It did,' said Roy. 'God rest his soul,' he added softly.

Silence fell between them. Ken's spirits were sinking in spite of his best
efforts to keep them up. The sea was deadly cold, and the boat so small
that they were only just able to keep their heads above water. And they
knew, both of them, that their chances of life were not one in a thousand.

They were right out in mid-straits, they were still fully nine miles from
the southern entrance, and even if a British warship should come up to see
what had happened to the trawlers, the odds were enormous against her
people spotting them.

Ken strained his eyes through the gloom, but could neither see nor hear
any other craft. The waters were bare and silent.

'Roy,' he said at last, and it was all he could do to keep his teeth from
chattering. 'Roy, can't we manage to right the dinghy?'

'You and I might. But what about Gill?'

The question was unanswerable. It would take all their united strength to
turn the dinghy over. And who was to hold Gill meantime?

No, the case was absolutely desperate. There was nothing for it but to
hang on and continue hanging on until at last the deadly cold had done its
work, and they dropped off and sank into the darksome depths beneath them.
It was a miserable end, and Ken's whole soul rebelled against it.

The guns had ceased firing, there were no lights anywhere to be seen, the
only sound was the monotonous slap of the ripples against the hull of the
overturned boat and--far in the distance--the dull mutter of the guns down
by Sedd-el-Bahr.

[Illustration: '"Hallo! Hallo! Who's that?"']

Ken felt a dull stupor creeping over him, a curious sense of unreality.
His thoughts began to wander. So much so that at first he hardly noticed
the curious sucking splash which came from the water some little distance
to the left.

It was Roy who called his attention to it.

'Ken, there's a thundering great fish out there. Do they keep sharks in
these waters?'

Before Ken could reply, the splash was followed by a slight grating sound,
then a dull clank, like two metal plates being lightly struck together.

Hope dawned suddenly in Ken's heart, sending a tingling shock through the
whole of his perishing body.

'That's no fish,' he muttered. 'That's no fish.' Then raising himself as
high as he could out of the water he sent a sharp cry for help pealing
through the darkness.

'Hallo! Hallo! Who's that?'

Never had Ken been happier to hear the sound of a human voice.

'Three survivors from the "Maid of Sker,"' he answered. 'Our boat's
upset.'

'Hang on!' came the quick reply. 'We'll have you out in a jiffy.'

There came low voiced orders, the low purr of an engine, and a low dark
bulk topped by a curious square-looking turret came gliding towards them.

'What is it?' muttered Roy in a dazed tone.

'A submarine,' Ken answered gladly. 'That's her conning tower. Here she
comes. Hang on to Gill, or the wash will take him off.'

A moment later, and the long gray craft swam up right alongside of the
dinghy. It was the most beautiful bit of steering imaginable. A hand
reached out and pulled the dinghy close against the hull, and strong arms
gripped and lifted the three aboard.

Ken felt himself swung gently up the conning tower, then he was lowered
with equal ease and skill through the open hatch. Within an incredibly
short time he was flat on a mattress laid on the throbbing steel floor of
the submarine.

A keen-faced officer stood beside him.

'Both the sweepers gone?' he asked gravely.

'I'm afraid so, sir. The "Swan" was knocked all to bits, and we saw the
"Maid" sink. I believe we are the only survivors.'

'We heard the firing, but couldn't get here sooner. But you're in khaki.
How's that?'

'Horan and I are escaped prisoners, sir. We stole a boat up by Kilid Bahr,
and were picked up by the "Maid." Gill is the only man left from the
trawler. He was one of the crew of the "Maid's" dinghy that went to help
the "Swan's" people.'

'And you?'

'Horan and I were trying to save him when the "Maid" was hit.'

The other nodded approvingly.

'Ah, you're Australians. Good men! But I see you're about all in. I shan't
bother you with any more questions now. Williams, see these men have a
change, and a tot of rum. And some of you give 'em a good rub down.
They're stiff with cold.'

He nodded again and went off.

Williams, a burly torpedo coxswain, at once took charge of Ken. His big
hands were as tender as a woman's as he stripped off the boy's soaking
clothes and substituted for them a fresh suit of warm lammies. Before
putting them on, he gave Ken such a rubbing with a rough towel as sent the
stagnant blood tingling through every vein.

'Thanks awfully,' said Ken gratefully. 'I say, how's Gill? He got knocked
silly with the blast of the shell that sunk the "Swan." Is he hurt?'

'He ain't hit, anyway,' said Williams. 'He's swallowed a bit more salt
water than suits his innards, but he'll pull round all right, never you
fear.

'Here, drink this down,' he continued, handing Ken a thick mug full of
some steaming mixture. Ken swallowed it obediently. It was thick Navy
cocoa, laced with a dash of rum.

It sent a grateful warmth through every inch of Ken's body, but its
immediate effect was to make him so drowsy that his eyes began to close.

'That's all right,' he heard Williams remark in a satisfied voice. 'Forty
winks won't do you no manner of harm.' The last thing Ken remembered was
being wrapped in a blanket. Then he dropped back on the mattress and
almost before his head reached it was sound asleep.

He woke to the purr of engines and a warm thick atmosphere smelling
strongly of oil and illuminated by white electric lamps. For the moment he
could not imagine where he was nor what had happened. It was not until he
rolled over and saw Roy lying stretched on another mattress beside him,
and Gill a little beyond, that any sort of recollection came back to him.

He stretched himself. He was sore all over, but otherwise fit enough and
very hungry. Then he sat up.

A burly figure came towards him, walking with that curiously light-footed
tread which becomes second habit in a submarine. It was Williams, the
coxswain.

'Well, young fellow me lad,' he remarked genially, 'how goes it?'

'Top hole, thanks. A bit empty. That's all.'

'If that's your only trouble, we'll soon fix it. Can you walk?'

'You bet.'

'Then come along forrard, and we'll see what cooky can do for you.'

Cooky's efforts consisted in biscuit, butter, sardines, jam, and lashings
of hot strong tea, to all of which Ken did the fullest justice.

'And how d'ye like life under the ocean wave?' asked Williams, who was
watching Ken's progress with the eye of a connoisseur.

'First time I ever tried it,' said Ken, glancing round the long, narrow
interior which seemed merely a packing case for a maze of intricate
machinery. 'What is she? What class I mean?'

'She's G 2, sonny, and don't you forget it. The last word in submarine
gadgets. Twenty knots on the surface, and twelve submerged. Carries eight
o' the biggest and best torpedoes, any one o' which is warranted to knock
the stuffing out o' the "Goeben" or any other o' Weeping Willy's
super-skulkers.'

'Where are we now?' inquired Ken with interest.

'Couldn't say precisely. But somewheres about ten fathom below the shinin'
surface of the Dardanelles.'

Ken felt a queer thrill. There was something uncanny in the thought that
they were spinning along, sixty feet below the sea-level, cut off from all
the living world.

'Pass the word the commander wishes to see Carrington,' came a voice.

'Lootenant Strang wants you,' said Williams. 'Go right aft. Sentry'll show
you. And go careful, mind you. Submarines ain't the sort o' shops for foot
races.'

Ken went cautiously back past the amazing tangle of spinning, whirling
machinery. Where the long interior narrowed to the stern hung a thick
curtain. The sentry silently parted it, and Ken found himself in the
officer's quarters of G2. They were as plain as the steerage on a liner.
Just two bunks and in the middle a table at which Lieutenant Strang sat,
busily writing.

He glanced up as Ken entered, and, saluting, stood to attention. Ken
noticed, with inward approval, the strength and intelligence in the
clean-cut features of the commanding officer.

'Feeling better, Carrington?'

'Quite all right, sir, thank you.'

'Had breakfast?'

'Yes, sir.'

'I want to hear what you've been doing. Let's have the whole yarn.'

Ken told him. He put it as shortly as he could, but gave his story clearly
and well. Lieutenant Strang listened with the deepest attention.

''Pon my word, you and your chum have been going it some!' he remarked
when Ken at last finished. 'So you're a son of Captain Carrington? How is
it you did not take a commission?'

'I didn't think I had any right to it, sir,' Ken answered simply. 'It
seemed to me it was the sort of thing one ought to win.'

'Just so. I dare say you are right. I hope you'll get one anyhow. But see
here, I can't put you ashore. We're going north, not south.'

'Going up through the Straits, sir?' exclaimed Ken. 'We've gone. We're
opposite Bulair this minute, so far as I can judge.'



CHAPTER XV

KEN MEETS AN OLD FRIEND


'Then--then you're bound for Constantinople?' said Ken eagerly.

Strang laughed.

'Not necessarily. No, I am not particularly anxious to charge into the
Golden Horn. It's a deal of risk, and not much to be got out of it. Our
mission is to cruise in the Marmora and look out for Turkish transports
and store ships.'

'Why, what's the matter?' he broke off, noticing how Ken's face had
fallen.

'I beg your pardon, sir. It was my father I was thinking of. You see he is
in Constantinople--at least, so that scoundrel Henkel told me. I thought I
might have a chance of getting ashore and helping him.'

'My good fellow, you must be crazy. Apart from the fact that I should have
the greatest difficulty in putting you ashore, you would, of course, at
once be arrested and shot as a spy.'

'I don't think so, sir. You see I know the place well, and have friends
there. And I talk the language as well as I do English. I know some
Arabic, too.'

'The deuce you do!' said the commander, staring at him keenly. 'Then it's
possible that you may be uncommonly useful to me during our present trip.
No, I shall tell you no more just now. And pray put out of your head any
such mad idea as landing at Constantinople.'

'Very well, sir,' Ken answered quietly. And saluting again, he left the
cabin.

Going forward again, he found Roy tucking into an enormous breakfast with
every evidence of enjoyment. Williams was acting as host, and listening
with interest to Roy's account of their wanderings across the peninsula.

Ken asked for Gill, and heard that he was doing very well, but only fit to
lie up for the present.

Roy rose, brushed the crumbs from his lammies and stretched his tall
frame.

'Heigh ho, I wish we could get back to our chaps,' he remarked
regretfully.

'Well, of all the ungrateful beggars!' said Ken with a laugh. 'Talk of
buying a ham and seeing life, you won't see as much in the trenches in a
month as you'll see here in a day.'

'Any one can have this steel box for me,' retorted Roy. 'I like to fight
where I can see what's coming.'

'Maybe you'll see more'n you want before you're finished with this trip,
ye long grouser,' put in Williams. 'This ain't no pleasure picnic, let me
tell you. Our old man's hot stuff, he is, and if I knows anything about
it, it won't be long before he starts handing out surprise packets to them
Turks.'

'Hallo,' he broke off, 'we're for the surface.'

As he spoke, G 2's bow began to rise and the whole long hull took a gentle
slope.

'Pretty quick!' exclaimed Ken. 'I thought you had to do a lot of pumping
first.'

'Bless you, no,' said Williams with a superior grin. 'Not with these 'ere
modern craft. They works with horizontal rudders, sort o' fins along the
side. Blime, G 2 can pop up and down mighty nigh as quick as a dab chick.'

'There now,' he continued, as the vessel came back to an even keel. 'She's
floating just submerged. I reckon her periscopes is just out o' the
water.'

'Could we have a look?' asked Ken eagerly.

'Ay, I dare say. You wait a minute and I'll see.'

He was back in a minute, and beckoned them to come.

There were two periscopes. It was the forward one they were called to.
They saw a circular table from which a tube ran up through the top of the
submarine. A man in shirt-sleeves--he was the other coxswain--got up from
a stool and motioned Ken to take his seat and look through what seemed
like a pair of binoculars.

Ken gave a cry of surprise. Instead of the hot, stuffy interior of the
submarine with its pale electrics and maze of machinery, he was gazing at
a wide circle of small-crested waves which shone gloriously blue under a
brilliant sky. Now and then a white-winged gull swooped across the view,
but apart from these, there was no sign of life or of land.

'Here, let's have a squint,' said Roy eagerly, and Ken gave way.

'Why, it's like a living picture show,' declared Roy. 'Gosh, I could sit
and watch it all day. But I say, can't other craft spot the periscope in
all this sunshine?'

'Not with this bobble on. At least not very easy,' said the observer, as
he took his place again.

'Where are we?' asked Roy.

'Somewheres in the Sea o' Marmora,' Williams answered. 'Just in the mouth
o' it, so to speak. I expect the old man'll keep pushing along up the
north coast, awaiting for them transports out o' the Bosphorus.'

'And you talk about its being dull, Roy?' said Ken with a laugh.

'Well, perhaps I spoke a bit hastily,' allowed Roy. 'I'll grant I'd like
to see us get our own back on some of those Turkish blighters. I haven't
forgotten last night yet, I can tell you.'

'You wait till we get our eyes on one, that's all,' said Williams,' and
you won't wait much longer.'

But the wait lasted longer than Ken and Roy expected. All that day G2
cruised slowly back and forth between the big island of Marmora, where the
marble quarries are, and the high coast of the European mainland, yet
nothing rewarded her vigilant watch.

There was nothing to do but sit about and yarn, and more than once Roy
told Ken that he wouldn't be a submarine sailor for any amount of 'hard
lying' money.

It was about four in the afternoon, and Ken had been taking a quiet nap,
for he had a lot of arrears of sleep to make up, when he was roused by a
sudden sharp order from Lieutenant Strang.

In an instant the drowsy interior of G2 wakened into sudden life, and Ken,
springing to his feet, moved forward to where Williams was standing near
the forward periscope.

'What's up?' he asked in a quick undertone.

'Craft in sight. Can't tell what she is yet.'

'A warship?'

'Transport, most like, but can't say yet. Sit tight. I'll tell ye when I
can see her a bit plainer.'

By the deeper hum of the engines, Ken knew that they had quickened their
speed. There was a sort of suppressed eagerness about all the twenty-five
men who composed the crew of the submarine. Ken longed to have a peep
through the camera of the periscope, but knew it was impossible.

'She isn't much,' said Williams at last. 'Just a tramp of twelve or
fourteen hundred tons. Still, she may ha' got troops aboard, and if she
ain't, it's grub or munitions for them beggars in the peninsula.'

'Are we going to torpedo her?' asked Ken.

'Not likely. We ain't like Germans, as chucks away a thousand pound
torpedo on a pore little fishing smack.'

'But we shan't let her go, surely?'

Williams chuckled. 'Bless your innocence, no! A couple o' shells from our
little popper up topside will settle her hash all right.'

Another order echoed from aft. Strang's voice had a curious hollow sound,
like a shout in a tunnel. Ken felt the vessel rising beneath him.

Men sprang up the steel ladder leading to the conning tower. A moment
later the hatch flew open with a hollow clang, and the sea air gushed in,
freshening delightfully the thick oily atmosphere below.

At the same moment power was switched off the electric engines, and the
petrol motor broke into life with an appalling racket. The long,
cigar-like vessel trembled under the increased power.

'Can't we go up on deck?' muttered Roy who had joined Ken.

Ken shook his head. He knew that this was impossible, yet all the same it
was intolerably irksome to remain below without being able to see or take
a hand in what was going on.

More orders, and presently the submarine came to rest, and lay, with
hardly a movement, on the surface.

Williams turned and beckoned to Ken, and next moment Ken had his eyes
glued to the binoculars. In the circle of sea thrown on the mirror, the
first thing he saw was an untidy looking tramp, her rusty plates showing
as she rolled slowly to the slight sea.

Aboard her all was wild excitement. Turkish sailors were hurriedly
launching boats. Ken almost fancied he could hear the davits squeal as the
boats were hastily lowered to the level of the sea. Evidently the men were
in a desperate fright, for seldom had Ken seen the slack, leisurely Turks
move with such speed.

We ain't hurrying 'em,' said Williams in Ken's ear. 'We've give 'em twenty
minutes.' Here, let your chum have a squint.'

Ken made way for Roy, and as he did so there was a shout from aft.

'Commander wants Carrington.'

'You lucky beggar,' cried Roy, but Ken was gone like a flash.

'Get along up on deck, soldier,' said a bluejacket. ''E's up there.'

Ken was up the ladder almost before the man had finished speaking, and
swinging out through the hatch dropped down on to the narrow deck beneath.

There were four men on the deck, namely Lieutenant Strang, his second in
command, Sub-Lieutenant Hotham, and two who stood by the gun, a 12-pounder
which had been raised from its snug niche in the deck, and was pointed
full on the steamer.

The latter was nearer than Ken had thought, and by this time it seemed
that her whole crew were in the boats, and the ship herself entirely
deserted.

'Ah, Carrington,' said the commander. 'You're the man who talks Turkish. I
can't quite make out whether the skipper of this old tub thinks his boats
can make the shore or whether he wants a tow. Ask him, will you?'

The Turkish skipper, a greasy-looking ruffian, was in a boat close by. He
was gesticulating wildly.

Ken at once hailed him, and asked the necessary question. The man burst
into violent speech.

Ken listened, and there was a smile on his face as he turned to the
commander.

'He's only swearing at us, sir, and asking what right we have to sink his
ship.'

'Tell him he'd better inquire of Enver Bey,' was the grim reply, and Ken
faithfully repeated the remark, only to hear a volley of curses called
down on Enver's head as well as on his own.

'He can't do anything but swear, sir,' said Ken.

'Well, we've no time to waste,' said the officer impatiently. 'Tell him to
clear out as quick as he can. I'm not going to waste shells on that thing.
A charge of gun-cotton in her hold is all she's worth.'

With much bad language, the Turkish skipper cleared off, and the three
boats containing himself and his crew pulled away in the direction of the
land, which was just visible on the almost before the words left the
commander's lips, and pulling like fury for the steamer.

'Make for the bows,' he heard Strang shout, and he did so.

The distance was nothing--merely a couple of hundred yards. He glanced
round over his shoulder, and saw the rusty bows towering above him--saw,
too, to his intense relief, that the old man had realised that he was to
be rescued and was moving forward.

Ken shipped his sculls. The dinghy glided in under the tall side of the
tramp. Ken stood up, and looked round for a rope. He could not see one.
There seemed no way of climbing the perpendicular side of the vessel, yet
it was quite clear that the old man could not get down unaided.

Ken saw his face appear over the rail. A gasp of astonishment came from
his lips.

'Othman!' he exclaimed. 'It's Othman Pacha!'

It was Othman Pacha, his old friend, the very man who had saved him when
his father was arrested. How had he come here? How was it he had been left
alone to perish by the crew of the steamer? What did it all mean? These
and a dozen other thoughts darted through Ken's brain with the swiftness
of a lightning flash. But above them all came the desperate resolve to
save the old man at all costs.

Othman could do nothing to help himself. That was clear on the face of it.
Old and apparently ill, he seemed quite confused and helpless.

Just above his head Ken saw an open port. Standing on the thwart he just
managed to reach it. With a desperate effort he drew himself up, and
succeeded in getting foothold on the lower rim. There was no way of
securing the boat. He had to trust to luck that she would remain where he
had left her.

Quickly yet cautiously he raised himself again, and his clutching fingers
met the stays of the foremast. Another big pull, and he was level with the
rail.

The old Turk stood staring at him, but did not seem to recognise him, and
naturally Ken did not wait to explain. Every instant he expected to see
the decks burst upwards, and the whole ship fly to pieces. He knew that it
could be only a matter of seconds before the explosion took place.

A rope--that was what he wanted most just at that moment, and luckily he
had not far to go for one. An untidy coil of line lay close beside the
forward hatch.

He sprang for it, whipped it up, and in a trice had put a loop in it, and
made a double bight around Othman's body.

'Over you go, Pacha!' he said with a sharpness which at last reached the
muddled brains of the poor old Turk.

Somehow he bundled him over the rail, and lowered him quickly yet
carefully into the boat which fortunately remained where he had left it
alongside.

'Cast off the rope, Pacha,' he shouted in an agony of impatience, and
Othman fumblingly tried to obey. Ken saw that he would never do it in
time, so rapidly made fast his own end to the rail, and giving one pull to
tighten the knot, sprang over.

Fifteen seconds more and he would have been safe. But hardly were his legs
over the rail when the explosion came. There was a stunning shock, the
whole ship seemed to melt beneath him. A blast of hot air struck him, and
the next thing he knew was struggling in the water.

For a second or two he felt half paralysed, and as if he could not use his
muscles. He realised that he was sinking, and this gave him such a shock
that somehow he managed to pull himself together and strike out.

He came to the surface, dashed the water from his eyes, and the first
thing he saw was the dinghy. By a miracle, she was floating unharmed among
a mass of wreckage, but Othman was not in her.

Ken looked round, and saw the old Pacha dangling in the water alongside
the swaying steamer. He was tied to her by the rope of which one end was
around his body, while the other was still fast to the ship's rail.

It was a ghastly fix, for it was clear that the steamer was sinking fast.
Another moment, and down she would go, dragging the unfortunate old man
with her and Ken too. He knew well enough that, as she sank, she was bound
to pull him also down into the vortex, and that from this great eddy he
would never have the strength to rise. His one chance for life was to swim
away as hard as he could go.

[Illustration: 'Ken sprang over.']

But Ken was not the sort to leave a job half-done. It was both or neither,
and treading water he fumbled frantically in his pockets for his knife.

With a sigh of relief, his fingers closed upon it; he whipped it out, and
opening it with his teeth struck out with all his strength for Othman.

It is no easy matter to cut a slack rope with a small clasp knife,
especially when the blade is none too sharp. Ken felt as though he would
never get it through.

He heard shouts from the submarine, but could not distinguish words. The
steamer was settling fast. Already her rail was almost level with the
water.

The last strand parted, and dropping the knife, Ken seized Othman, who by
this time was quite insensible, and made for the dinghy with all his
remaining strength.

He reached it, and got one arm over the stern. But that was all he could
do. It was out of the question for him to lift Othman into the boat. He
could not even climb in himself. He was completely done, and could only
hang on, panting so that every breath he drew was pain.

From the steamer came the sound of a fresh explosion. The air, confined
below, was forcing up her decks. Ken knew that now it was only a question
of seconds before she sank, knew, too, that escape was out of the
question. The dinghy was bound to be drawn down, and it was not as if the
submarine had a second boat which she could send to the rescue.

'All right, Ken. Hold tight. I've got you!'

It was Roy's cheery voice, and Ken suddenly realised that he was there in
the water alongside.

'Look out!' Ken managed to gasp. 'You'll only be dragged down too.'

'Not a bit of it,' Roy answered, as he raised himself and caught hold of
the boat. 'Don't you worry, old man. I've a rope round me. I'll hold her.'

'Ah, there she goes!' he exclaimed, and as he spoke there was a queer
sucking sound, and Ken felt the boat whirl away in the direction of the
sinking steamer.

For some seconds it seemed as if he, Othman, and all would be ripped away
from the boat by the tremendous suction. Great eddies boiled and swirled
in every direction, and a thick scum of oil and coal dust rose and covered
the surface of the sea.

'Hold on!' he heard Roy shout again, and somehow he did, though his right
arm felt as though it were being torn from its socket.

At last the commotion ceased, the eddies disappeared, and the strain
slackened.

'Thank goodness, that's the last of her,' said Roy, with a sigh of relief.
'Jove, but I couldn't have stuck it much longer. That rope round my waist
has nearly cut me in two. How are you making it, old man?'

'I'm all right,' Ken answered, but his voice was so weak it scared Roy.

'Here, hand over his Nibs,' he said, as he moved round and took Othman
from Ken. 'Now,' he said, 'just hang on a few minutes longer, and they'll
pull us in.'

He raised one arm as a signal, the rope tightened gently, and the dinghy
and the three holding to it were towed quickly back to the submarine.

Roy handed up Othman and scrambled out himself but they had to lift Ken
out of the water. Once on deck, however, he insisted on scrambling to his
feet.

'Not damaged?' inquired Lieutenant Strang with a touch of anxiety in his
voice.

'Not a bit, sir,' Ken answered.

'I congratulate you, Carrington. It was an uncommon good and plucky bit of
work, and I shall see that it is reported to your own commanding officer.'

Ken went below, tingling with a pleasure which made him forget his aching
joints and muscles.



CHAPTER XVI

TACKLING THE TROOPER


'Yes, come in.'

Lieutenant Strang, busy plotting out something on a chart, looked up as
the sentry parted the curtains of his cabin.

'Can Corporal Carrington see you, sir?' asked the man.

'Certainly. Send him in.'

Ken, looking more like himself in his khaki, which was now thoroughly
dried, entered and saluted.

'Well, Carrington, what is it?' The commander's tone was quick, almost
curt, yet there was a smile on his keen face as his eyes fell on Ken's
upright figure.

'I've been talking to Othman Pacha, sir,' began Ken.

'Othman Pacha--who the deuce is he?'

'The Turk we rescued, sir. He's a friend of mine. I mentioned his name to
you this morning. It was he who got me away into Greece when my father was
arrested.'

'Of course. I remember now. But this is a most extraordinary
coincidence--to find him on that tramp.'

'Not so much so as you might think, sir. You see he is known to be no
friend to Enver Bey and the Young Turks. He was in danger of arrest, so he
took the first opportunity of clearing out. He was going over to Adramyti
on the Asiatic side, so as to get out of it all.'

'I see. Well, did he tell you anything useful?'

'He did, sir. You have heard that Enver Bey has informed our Chief Command
that he intends to send French and British subjects to Gallipoli, so that
they will be the first sufferers when we bombard the place.'

'Yes, I've heard that,' Strang answered, staring keenly at Ken.

'Well, sir, the Pacha says that the first lot is to leave Constantinople
to-morrow. They are going with a batch of troops in a transport called the
"Bergaz."'

'And,' he added--'my father will be with them.'

The commander of G2 pursed his lips in a soundless whistle.

'By Jove,' he said slowly, 'this is worth hearing. This is most
interesting.'

He gave a low chuckle. 'Rather a smack in the eye for friend Enver if we
can bring it off. Tell me, Carrington, did the Pacha say whether this
trooper would have an escort?'

'I asked him that, sir, but he did not know. And he said this--That he
would not have told us at all except for the fact that he thinks it brutal
of Enver to send civilians into the firing line, and that he hopes, in
case you find it necessary to sink the trooper, that you will allow the
men to escape with their lives.'

Strang nodded thoughtfully.

'Hm, yes, I suppose I shall have to do that. After all, they won't be much
use without rifles or kit, and the chances are that most of 'em will
desert as soon as they reach the shore.

'But we mustn't count our chickens before they're hatched, eh, Carrington?
We've got to find that transport before we can deal with her.'

He asked a few more questions, then dismissed Ken.

'You can tell the Pacha I shall respect his wishes,' he said, as Ken left
his cabin.

All that night G2 cruised on the surface, going only at half speed so as
to economise petrol, and at the same time re-charge her dynamos. As for
Ken, tired out with his exertions, he lay upon the throbbing steel floor,
wrapped in a blanket, and slept as peacefully as he had ever slept in his
life.

It was broad day when he woke, feeling more refreshed than for days past,
and quite ready for the plain though plentiful breakfast that was served
out.

A glance which Williams allowed him through the periscope showed an
expanse of bright blue sea sparkling under a clear sky and a light breeze,
but with no sail in sight, and shortly afterwards G2 was submerged until
nothing but her periscope remained above the surface.

By this time the rumour of the expected trooper was all through the little
ship, and there was an air of subdued excitement on every face.

'Where are we now?' asked Ken of Williams.

'Somewhere between Marmora Island and Rodosto. Whatever comes out o' the
Bosphorus for the Dardanelles is bound to run past us, and then--' A wink
said more than words.

The hours dragged by, and Roy began to growl again at the tediousness of
life beneath the ocean wave. Dinner time passed and still there was no
sign of the trooper.

'Looks to me as if news had got abroad that we're a waiting for 'em,'
growled Williams at last. 'Them chaps as got to land last night must ha'
wired to headquarters.'

The other coxswain who was at the periscope at the moment, looked up.

'Then the wires must ha' been down, Joe. She's a coming right now.'

'Let's have a look,' exclaimed Williams, springing across.

'Ay, you're right, Bill. There she is. A big un, too!'

'And, lumme,' he added with a growl, 'a blighted torpedo boat a escorting
of her!'

''Tis only one o' them tin Turkish rattle-traps,' said Bill with a pitying
air. 'The old man'll slap a tin fish into her afore she knows what's hit
her.'

As he spoke, the engines were already quickening, and G2 had begun to
glide away at the top speed of her powerful electrics. The deep hum of the
dynamos filled the long interior, and on every face was a look of eager
expectancy.

As for Ken, his heart was throbbing like the dynamos themselves. The
feeling that his father, whom he had hardly hoped ever to see again, was
within a mile or so, had plunged him into such a state of tense excitement
that it was all he could do to control it.

He turned to speak to Williams, but the latter had gone forward, and was
standing by the torpedo in the fore tube.

The other coxswain, too, had gone to his place, and Sub-Lieutenant Hotham
had taken his seat at the forward periscope.

For four minutes, which seemed to Ken like four hours, the submarine drove
onwards in silence. Then came a sharp order from the commander, and she
began to rise.

'What's she coming up for?' asked Roy of Ken in a low voice.

'She's got to, so as to fire her torpedo. You can't fire so long as you're
submerged.'

'But if they see us, they'll let loose with their guns.'

'They've only got the periscopes to shoot at. Take more than Turkish
gunners to hit them.'

'Stand by!' came the crisp order from Commander Strang. 'Three points to
port--one more. Don't miss her, whatever you do, Williams. She's got the
legs of us, and we shan't get a second shot.'

'That's right. Steady now. Shut down! Let go!'

Ken heard a sharp hiss as the compressed air drove the long gray Whitehead
out of its tube, and sent it flashing away on its deadly errand. Young
Hotham sat still as a statue, his eyes glued to the periscope. The rest of
the crew seemed hardly to breathe. As for Ken, his mouth was dry. To him,
more than to any one else aboard, the success or failure of the shot meant
much.

Five, ten, fifteen seconds--then Hotham gave a sharp cry.

'Got her. Got her, by the living jingo! Oh, good shot, Williams!'

As he spoke a dull shock made the whole hull of G2 quiver.

'Hurrah!' shouted Ken, and the cheer was echoed by a score of voices.

'Struck her just aft the engines,' exclaimed Hotham jubilantly. 'Settled
her hash all right. Gad, they've got pluck. They're still shooting. Ah,
did you hear that, Carrington?'--as the submarine quivered again slightly.
'That was a shell. It struck the water not ten yards away.'

'But that's the last,' he continued. 'She's cocking her bows up. Phew, the
whole bottom's knocked out of her. There she goes. She's sinking. Poor
beggars, they haven't time to get out a boat, and we'll never reach 'em in
time to save any of them.'

'Her stern's under. Bow's straight up in the air!' He paused a moment.

'All over,' he added quietly. 'She's gone.' Commander Strang's voice rang
out from farther aft. Ken felt the vessel rising, and a few moments later
a slight swaying told that she was on the surface. Up went the hatch, and
the terrible clatter of the petrol engines replaced the deep purr of the
dynamos.

'I'd give a finger to be on deck,' said Ken to Roy, and for once Roy did
not jeer. He merely nodded, for he knew how desperately anxious Ken was
about his father.

Ken had not long to wait. A few minutes later, an order was passed for
Carrington to go up, and Ken darted up the steel ladder like a
lamplighter.

Outside, he found the sun gone, the sky covered with clouds, and a threat
of rain in the cool air. But it was not the weather he thought of. His
eyes were at once fixed upon a large steamer about two miles off to the
southward. Clouds of sooty smoke were pouring from her funnels, and a
yeasty wake trailed away behind her. Taking warning by the fate of her
escort, she was doing all she knew to escape.

'Will she beat us? Will she get away?' Ken asked anxiously of one of the
gun crew.

'Will she spread her little wings an' turn into a waterplane?' replied the
man with a grin. 'Bless you, soldier, she couldn't do more'n fourteen
knots when she come out o' the builder's yard, and that's two more'n she's
going now. You watch an' see how far she gets away.'

A very few moments' watching was enough to convince Ken that G2 was
overhauling her prey hand over fist. Within less than a quarter of an hour
a mile of the steamer's lead had gone. Another five minutes and the
distance between the two was barely twelve hundred yards.

'Hallo, they're getting gay!' remarked the big bluejacket, as rifles began
to spit and bullets to throw up little jets of spray around the rushing
submarine.

Presently one clanged against the conning tower itself. Commander Strang
gave an order, and a little row of bunting ran up on the tiny mast of the
submarine.

'"Heave to, or I'll sink you," that means,' observed Ken's friend.

The only response was a thicker hail of bullets. But the low deck of G2,
flying onwards as she was at about twenty-two land miles an hour, made a
poor target, and the Turks failed to do any damage beyond knocking a
little paint off.

'Confound 'em!' growled Strang. 'They haven't got sense enough to come in
out of the rain. Give 'em a shell, Watson.'

The long gray 12-pounder was ready. Her vicious-looking muzzle swung
round. There was a ringing bang, and the shell, small but charged with
deadly lyddite, spun away on its errand.

[Illustration: 'A black-browed officer came to the rail.']

Ken, watching eagerly, saw a bright flash light the side of the steamer,
close under her stern, and as a cloud of smoke floated up, the crash of
the explosion came back to his ears.

The big steamer staggered and yawed right out of her course.

'Capital!' said Strang with strong approval. 'That's hashed her steering.
Signal 'em to heave to, or the next will be in their engine-room.'

There were a few more scattering rifle shots, but the officers on the
transport soon stopped that. The transport herself, with her rudder in
rags, was out of all control. Her engines were stopped, and she lay
sullenly waiting for her saucy little enemy.

Strang gave a sigh of relief.

'Glad they had the sense to shut up,' he said to Ken. 'If they'd gone on
shooting I should have had to sock it into them, and I didn't want to
break my promise to your old Pacha.'

The submarine, smartly handled as usual, glided up close under the tall
side of the transport, and Strang hailed her in French.

A black-browed officer, with angry eyes, came to the rail, and answered in
the same language.

'You have British and French prisoners aboard,' said Strang sharply. 'You
will be good enough to put them all into a boat and send them across.'

'And if I refuse?' retorted the other.

'I shall shell you until you think better of it,' was the calm reply.

The other bit his lips. 'Very well,' he said sullenly. 'I have no choice.'

'Look out for treachery, sir,' said Ken in a low voice. 'That man means
mischief, I believe.'

'He is an ugly looking beggar. But what can he do?'

The words were hardly out of his mouth before the black-browed officer
flung up his arm, with a pistol gripped in his fist, and fired straight at
Commander Strang's head.

Quick as he was, Ken was quicker. As the man's arm came up, so did Ken's,
and seizing Strang by the wrist, he jerked him back.

Before the man could fire a second time, one of the bluejackets had raised
his rifle and shot him through the body.

'Thank you, Carrington,' said the commander, glancing at the gray splash
of lead on the deck, just where he had been standing the previous moment,
'You were right, and I was wrong.

'Speak to them in their own language,' he continued coolly. 'Tell them
I'll blow them out of the water if they try any more tricks of that sort.'

Ken's announcement was followed by dead silence aboard the steamer. Then a
second officer appeared at the rail. He had both hands up.

'We surrender,' he said.

''Bout time, too,' growled the big bluejacket.

Strang repeated his former orders, and this time they were obeyed without
hesitation. Ken's heart beat thickly as he watched the prisoners hurrying
into the boat which had been lowered from her davits to a level with the
deck.

'Do you see your father yet?' Strang asked.

'Not yet, sir,' Ken answered, with his eyes fixed on the fast-filling
boat.

'Sixteen--seventeen--eighteen,' he counted mechanically. Suddenly a slight
cry escaped his lips, and he started forward.

'Father!' he shouted loudly.

An upright man with keen blue eyes, a man of about fifty, but whose hair
and moustache were almost white, was in the act of getting to the boat. At
Ken's cry, he started violently, stopped short and stared incredulously in
the direction of the sound.

'Father!' shouted Ken again.

'You, Ken?' The tone was one of utter amazement.

'It's me all right, dad,' Ken answered in a voice which shook a little in
spite of himself.

Before their eyes the other seemed to shake off ten years of age. He
sprang into the boat as lightly as a boy. Three more followed, making
twenty-two in all. Then the blocks creaked, and the boat was rapidly
lowered to the water.

Oars began to ply vigorously, and she shot across the intervening space,
and a minute later was alongside the submarine.

'You must wait there, please, gentlemen,' said Strang courteously. 'I have
to deal with the troops at once. Keep well astern.'

Ken was aching to greet his father, but there was plenty for him to do for
the moment. He had to translate the commander's orders, which were that
all those aboard the steamer should get away at once in the boats. He gave
them twenty minutes for the operation.

They were the longest twenty minutes Ken every knew, but they were over at
last. The crowded boats pulled slowly away in a northerly direction, the
big steamer floated empty and helpless.

'Do we board her, sir?' asked young Hotham of Strang.

'Yes, I'll save my torpedoes while I can. Put a good charge of gun-cotton
in her hold. Quick as you can, Hotham. We may have a destroyer down on us
any minute. You may be sure they had plenty of time to use their
wireless.'

He turned to the boatful of released prisoners. They were of every sort,
young and old--French, English, with even one or two Russians and
Belgians.

'Gentlemen,' he said briefly, 'I can't ask you all aboard. The reason is
obvious. In a submarine there is only room for a certain number, and I am
already three beyond my proper complement. The question is, what I am to
do with you for your safety, and I should be obliged if two of you would
come aboard to discuss matters with me. One whom I will specially ask is
Captain Carrington.'

Ken's breath came quickly as he watched his father step across out of the
boat on to the steel deck of G2, but like the trained soldier that he was,
he did not move. Strang, however, had not forgotten him.

'You shall have your father to yourself as soon as we have settled
things,' he said, as he passed him.

Mr Ramsay, who had been manager of a British bank at Constantinople, was
the other delegate from the boat. He and Ken's father both shook hands
with Strang.

'We are most deeply indebted to you, Commander Strang,' said Captain
Carrington.' We never hoped for such luck as to find a British vessel
already in the Marmora.

'Ours is unfortunately the only sort that can get through at present,
sir,' said Strang with a smile.' And after all, I don't know that you have
much cause for gratitude. I can't ferry you home through the Straits, for
in the first place I can't carry you, and in the second I have my job to
do up here. There is only one thing I can think of.' Here he lowered his
voice, so that Ken could hear no more. But presently he saw the others
nod, evidently agreeing to the proposal, whatever it was.

[Illustration: 'Ken's hand gripped that of father.']

Mr Ramsay went back to the boat, and she was at once taken in tow. The
screws began to revolve again, and G2 swung round in a half circle, and
headed due east, running on the surface.

Next minute Ken's hand gripped that of his father.

For a moment neither of them could speak. They had not seen one another
for two long years, and both had so much to say that they did not know
where to begin.

Strang, with his usual kindly tact, touched Ken on the shoulder.

'Take your father for'ard of the conning tower. You can talk there without
interruption. We shall be on the surface for the present.'

Ken thanked him gratefully, and they both went forward, and there, leaning
against the gray steel of the little turret, with the small waves lapping
over the turtle-back forward, Ken told his father how their strange
meeting had come about.

Then Captain Carrington gave his son a brief sketch of his two years'
imprisonment. It had not been as bad as it might, for the kindly Othman
Pacha had used what interest he possessed to get his friend shut up in a
fortress instead of the usual horrible Turkish jail. Still it had been bad
enough, and the worst of it, the deep anxiety he had felt for Ken.

'Well, that's all over, dad, thank goodness,' said Ken. 'Everything will
be all right now. It's only a matter of time before we force the
Dardanelles, and--'

'A matter of time,' broke in the other with the quizzical smile that Ken
remembered so well. 'Just so, my boy, but I'm afraid you are forgetting
something. What are we to do meanwhile? Here we are, in the heart of
Turkish territory, and no way out. It's rather early to say that our
troubles are all over, isn't it?'

Ken's face fell. In his delight at meeting his father again, he had quite
forgotten the difficulties still before them.

'But--but I thought that Lieutenant Strang had a plan,' he stammered.
'He's towing the boat somewhere.'

His father nodded.

'Yes, I suppose it need be no secret from you. He is taking us, or trying
to take us, to a certain cave on the south shore of the sea. It is one of
the hidden petrol bases which are supplied by friendly Armenians. But,
even if we get there safely, there is always the risk of discovery by the
enemy, as well as difficulties of provisioning so many of us. And we may
not even get there. Supposing that an enemy ship appears in chase, and the
submarine has to submerge, what then?'

Ken gazed at his father blankly. Before he could speak again a sharp hail
came from the look-out in the conning tower.

'Ship in sight, sir!'



CHAPTER XVII

THE BOARDING PARTY


Ken and his father were both on their feet in an instant. While they had
been talking it had turned misty. It was only a haze, but it blurred the
horizon so that at first they could not see the vessel.

But presently Ken pointed.

'There she is. Do you see, dad?'

Captain Carrington nodded.

'I see her, Ken, but my eyes are not what they were. I can't tell what she
is.'

At this moment Lieutenant Strang stepped up to them.

'It's just as I was afraid, sir,' he said quietly. 'There appears to be
something after us. It's so thick I can hardly make out what she is yet,
but in any case it's precious awkward.'

'Very awkward indeed,' admitted Captain Carrington. 'Alone, you would be
all right, for you could submerge of course, but if so you leave us
prisoners to be picked up again. Still, of course, there is no choice. You
must not risk your ship.'

Strang bit his lip. He knew that Captain Carrington was right. But it went
bitterly against the grain to abandon the people whom he had rescued with
so much trouble. As for Ken, the idea of losing his father again just
after he had found him sent his spirits down to zero.

After a moment's thought, Strang spoke again. 'I might leave the boat,
sir, and tackle this fellow, whoever he is. It's on the cards I might sink
him and come back again and pick you up.'

'That might be worth trying,' answered Captain Carrington. And he spoke as
calmly as if the upshot was of absolutely no consequence to him whatever.

Ken, who had been staring hard at the approaching craft, turned quickly to
the commander.

'Couldn't you capture her, sir?' he said eagerly.

Strang stared as if he thought that Ken had suddenly taken leave of his
senses.

'Capture her?' he repeated.

'Yes, sir. Then you could put all the prisoners aboard her, and they could
find their own way to the hiding place. And Horan and myself, too,
perhaps.'

Strang gave a low whistle.

''Pon my soul, it's an idea. Especially as, being an enemy ship, she
wouldn't be so likely to be searched.'

'It would be very nice for us if it could be managed,' said Captain
Carrington with a smile. 'But I suppose it is quite out of the question,
Mr Strang?'

'It all depends on what she is, sir,' replied Strang, as he put up his
binoculars and focused them on the indistinct patch on the misty horizon.

Presently he put them down.

'She's nothing but a launch,' he said quickly. 'Armed, of course, but
probably only a 6-pounder. I'm hanged if I don't try it.'

'Very good,' said Captain Carrington, speaking as calmly as ever. 'I will
go back into the boat, and tell my friends. By the bye, how would it do to
use us as bait for the trap? If you were merely to submerge, and lie close
by with only your periscopes showing, it seems to me that you might manage
to take them unawares.'

'I've got a better plan than that, sir,' broke in Ken quickly. 'Put Horan
and myself in the boat. Give us some pistols. We'll sham shipwrecked. Most
of us can hide in the bottom of the boat. The launch won't have much of a
crew. With a rush we might overpower them.'

The boldness of Ken's suggestion made both men gasp. Strang was the first
to speak.

'It's a big risk, but it might work. Are you willing, Captain Carrington?'

A grim smile parted the lips of Ken's father.

'Willing! It would make me young again.'

Strang's decision was taken like a flash.

'It goes, then. And I'll lend you a couple of my men as well. Williams and
Johnston. Hefty chaps in a scrimmage, and both equal to engines of any
kind. But we must be smart. This must be done before the Turks get any
notion of what is up.'

He dashed back to the conning tower, and orders flew like hail. The men
were equally quick to obey. Williams and Johnston came tumbling up, and
Roy hard at their heels.

'What's up?' demanded Roy eagerly of Ken, and when Ken had quickly
explained, the big New Zealander's face fairly glowed with delight.

'Fine, oh fine!' he cried. 'I began to think we were never going to get
another chance. 'It's the greatest scheme you ever thought of, Ken.'

Two more bluejackets rushed up, with armfuls of cutlasses.

'Commander says these are the jokers for a scrimmage,' one told Ken, as
they hurriedly passed them across to the people in the boat.

'He's right,' said Roy, 'but we shall want a pistol or two as well.'

'Plenty here, Horan,' said Williams, the torpedo coxswain, holding up a
couple of the big regulation Navy revolvers. 'It's all right. We've got
all we want. Come along in, you two soldiers.'

Ken and Roy tumbled aboard the boat, other three of the ex-prisoners, who
were too old or infirm to be any use as fighters, were hastily transferred
to the submarine.

Inside of three minutes all was ready, the warp was cast off, and the
steel hatch in the conning tower dropped with a clang. In a trice G2 began
to sink, and within an incredibly short space of time she had dipped out
of sight beneath the sea, and the boat lay alone on the surface, rocking
slightly to the send of the small gray waves.

For the first time Ken had leisure to glance round at his companions.
Including Roy, himself, Williams, and Johnston, the full number was
twenty-three, and of them all there was not one who did not look keen and
eager for the fray. All had suffered at the hands of the enemy, some had
lost all they had in the world. Every man was anxious to get a little of
his own back. By the way they gripped the cutlasses that had been served
out, by their grim faces, and eager eyes, Ken felt certain that there
would be no hesitation when the critical moment arrived.

'What is the craft?' asked Roy, who was crowding close beside him.

'Nothing but a launch,' Ken answered.

'She looks pretty big for a launch,' said Roy, staring at the vessel which
was now near enough to see the shape of her.

'Oh, I dare say she's a fifty-footer. And no doubt she carries a good few
men. And a gun, too. It's not going to be any picnic, old chap. Our only
chance is a surprise.'

'And there won't be much surprise about it, if we let them see how many
men we have aboard,' cut in Captain Carrington briskly. The years had
dropped away from him, and he was again the naval officer.

'Get down, Ken, and you too, Horan. Williams and Johnston, hide yourselves
under that tarpaulin forward.'

Very shortly all the younger men of the party were stowed away, some under
the thwarts, others under a couple of tarpaulins which Strang had put in
for the purpose. All weapons were carefully hidden, and the dozen older
men, who were all that were left in sight, were directed to loll about, as
though suffering from long exposure or fatigue.

The haze was thickening, so there was little danger of the people aboard
the launch noticing the manoeuvre.

The launch had, however, sighted the boat. There was no doubt about that,
for she had altered her course, and was coming straight towards them.

'Beastly fuggy under here!' growled Roy in Ken's ear.

'Take it easy, old chap. We shan't have long to wait.'

Ken's father heard, and bent down.

'She's within a mile. Mind you don't move till I give the word.'

'All right, dad,' came the muffled response from under the tarpaulin. 'How
big is she?'

'A good size. She looks as if she carried a score of men. And there's a
6-pounder in her bows.'

Soon she was so near that Ken clearly heard the beat of her engine. His
breath came quick and short. The critical moment was very near.

The revolutions slackened, and a man hailed from the launch, speaking, to
Ken's dismay, in harsh German.

'Who are you? What are you doing there?' the speaker demanded
suspiciously.

'We are British and French from Constantinople,' answered Captain
Carrington, using the same language. 'We were aboard the Turkish transport
"Bergaz" which was sunk earlier in the day by a British submarine.'

'Blitzen!' exclaimed the German angrily. 'Then the message was true after
all. Those verdomde British have managed to pass the mine-fields.

'And where is the submarine?' he demanded savagely.

'She was forced to abandon us. One of your warships hove in sight.'

The German paused a moment. His eyes scanned the surface in every
direction. But there was no sign of G 2's periscopes. Either she had gone
under altogether, or withdrawn to such a distance that her periscopes were
invisible in the mist.

'Train the gun on them,' growled the German officer. Then, raising his
voice, 'If this is a trap, every one of you will pay for it with your
lives.'

'I have told you the literal truth,' said Captain Carrington coldly. 'You
can take us or leave us as you wish.'

Again the German hesitated.

'The safest way will be to haul off and sink them,' he said to a Turk who
stood beside him. He spoke in Turkish, but Ken, of course, understood, and
knowing the brutality of the average German officer, felt anything but
happy.

Apparently the Turkish officer had different views, for after a short
conversation the German gave an order, and the launch moved forward again.

Ken, though he could not see what was happening, heard the beat of her
screw, and every nerve in his body tingled. As for Captain Carrington and
the rest, they sat in their places, not moving an inch, and doing their
best to convey the idea that they were quite worn out, and cared not at
all whether they were retaken or not.

Yet, under his coat, or in his pocket, each man gripped his revolver,
while his cutlass lay handy at his feet.

The launch came on slowly, and her crew fortunately were hardly noticing
the boat. Their eyes were busy, searching the misty surface for the
periscope of their deadly enemy.

Only the German seemed to have any suspicion concerning those in the boat.
When the launch was within about half a dozen yards, he spoke again.

'You there, Englishman, stand up!' he ordered sharply. 'You, I mean, the
one who speaks German.'

Captain Carrington rose leisurely to his feet.

'You will be the first to pay for treachery,' said the German fiercely.
'Put your hands up.'

Ken quivered. To him it sounded as though his father's death warrant had
been sounded. At the first sign of attack the German would shoot him. Yet
he had his orders, and he dared not move.

It seemed an age before he felt a slight jar. It was the launch touching
the boat.

'What's under that tarpaulin?' came the sharp question from the German.

Crack! Crack! Two shots rang out simultaneously. There was a scream and
the sound of a heavy splash.

Ken waited no longer. Like a flash he flung aside the tarpaulin, and
leaped to his feet. The German was gone, he was struggling in the water
and one of their own men was lying writhing in the bottom of the boat.

'Up and at 'em!' came a hurricane yell from Williams, and with one bound
the big coxswain had leaped aboard the launch, and was laying about him
with his cutlass.

Ken waited just long enough to make sure that his father was not hurt,
then followed.

He heard the Turkish officer shout an order for full steam ahead. The
launch darted forward, but it was too late. Johnston and another man
detailed for the purpose had already flung grappling irons across. The
launch drew the boat with her, close alongside.

'Out, ye black-faced blighter!' roared Williams, as he cut down a great
burly Turk who was swinging at him with a rifle butt.

Inside ten seconds every mother's son in the boat had reached the deck of
the launch, and a regular hand-to-hand battle raged.

The launch was heavily manned, and after their first surprise the Turks
pulled themselves together and fought desperately. Though the launch was a
big one, yet there was not much room on her decks for nearly fifty
fighting men, and Ken found himself literally wedged in the centre of a
tight-packed mob, which swayed from side to side as the fighters struggled
frantically for elbow room.

In a way this told in favour of the Britishers. The short, heavy Navy
cutlasses were much better adapted for a mêlée of this sort than the
rifles and bayonets with which the Turks were armed.

Ken found himself up against a tall, brown-faced fellow who looked like an
Arab and was armed with a long sword. He made a fearful slash at Ken, and
though Ken saved his head by a guard with his cutlass, he was beaten to
his knees.

Up went the Arab's sword again, Ken saw the glitter in his savage eyes,
and thought it was all over when, in the very nick of time, a revolver
spat and turned the fierce face into a blood-stained horror.

Struggling up, he saw Roy leap past and fire a second time at a man who
was swinging at him with a rifle butt. The latter, hit in the shoulder,
staggered, caught his heels in the rail, and went backwards into the sea.

On every side revolvers were cracking, there was a confused medley of
blows, yells, and oaths. And all the time the launch, with no one at the
tiller, and the boat fast alongside, charged wildly across the sea.

Man for man, the Turks were better fighters than the boarders, most of
whom were civilians and unaccustomed to the use of weapons. But the latter
were fighting for their lives and were splendidly led by Captain
Carrington, Ken, Roy, and the two big sailor men. It was really the latter
five who carried the day. They were everywhere at once, slashing and
shooting like demons, and by degrees the Turks fell back before them.

Half a dozen or more were driven over the side into the sea, and left
perforce to drown.

At last the Turks broke and gave way. Some dropped their weapons and flung
up their hands in token of surrender.

'They've surrendered!' cried Captain Carrington. 'Give them quarter.'

At that moment Ken saw a Turkish officer, his face covered with blood,
spring out of the crowd aft and rush forward.

'Look out there!' he shouted, and wrenching himself loose from the press,
raced after the man.

The officer, however, had a long start, and before Ken could catch him,
had reached the gun and was swinging it round.

'Look out!' yelled Ken again, as he realised what the man was after. He
was desperate, and meant to turn the gun full upon the packed crowd,
destroying friend and foe alike.

He had got the gun round, his finger was almost on the button when Ken
reached him, and going at him head down, like a Rugby tackier, flung both
arms around his waist.

[Illustration: 'On every side revolvers were cracking.']

With a fierce exclamation, the man hit out with his fist, but the blow
fell harmlessly on Ken's back. Then, twining both hands in Ken's collar,
he made a frantic effort to break his grip and fling him aside.

Ken held on like grim death. If he failed, it meant death for all his
friends. The other was a powerful, wiry man in the prime of life, while
Ken had not yet come to his full strength. For some seconds they struggled
fiercely, the Turk exerting every effort to reach the gun, Ken straining
frantically to hold him off.

Ken's heel caught in a ring bolt. He felt himself falling, but managed to
drag the other down with him. But his own head struck the deck with such
force as to half stun him, and he felt his grip relaxing.

'Dog, you shall die with the rest!' hissed the other, as at last he tore
himself free, and sprang to the gun.

But Ken was not done yet. He had fallen almost under the gun, and swiftly
lifting one foot he kicked out desperately at the gray barrel above him.

There was a crash which nearly deafened him, and for a moment he believed
that the madman had succeeded in his awful purpose. Then a tall figure
sprang across him, and with a shout Roy drove his fist into the Turk's
face.

Up went the man's arms, he staggered back and fell into the sea.

'Well done, Ken!' cried Roy. 'That's finished it.'

Ken scrambled to his feet and stared round in amazement.

'W--Where did the shell go?' he stammered.

'Somewhere in the direction of Constantinople,' was the reply. 'Your kick
did it, Ken.'

'It's all right,' he added jubilantly.' The rest of the chaps have given
in. The launch is ours.'



CHAPTER XVIII

RUNNING THE GAUNTLET


'It seemed shabby to leave you to do all the fighting, but if I had come
into it I'm afraid you'd have been left without a ship.'

The speaker was Lieutenant Strang, who stood on the deck of G2, which had
risen again and was lying alongside the launch.

'It was your fellows who won the battle for us,' answered Captain
Carrington cheerfully. 'I wish to congratulate you on the possession of
two such men as Williams and Johnston.' Williams stepped forward and
touched his cap.

'If you please, sir, the captain here and his son and Horan, they did as
much as any. But all on 'em fought like good 'uns.'

'What are your losses, sir?' asked the lieutenant of Captain Garrington.

'Two killed, three rather badly wounded.'

'You got off lightly. There don't seem to be many Turks left.'

'Only nine alive, and of those four are wounded.'

'Are the launch's engines all right?'

'Nothing wrong with them,' answered the captain, 'so Williams tells me.'

'Well, it's getting late and very thick. You had better follow me, and I
will escort you to the place we spoke of. The Turks who are sound can take
the boat and be towed until we are off one of the islands, when we can
cast them off and they can land.'

Ken stepped up to his father, and said something in a low voice. A
slightly startled expression appeared on the captain's face.

'You think it possible, Ken?' he said sharply.

'I do. I believe we could get through.'

'Then I will suggest it to Lieutenant Strang.

'Lieutenant Strang,' he called. 'Before we start I have a suggestion to
make. I will come across if you will permit me.'

'Certainly, sir.'

The launch lay so close to the submarine that it was easy for the Captain
to spring across. Strang met him, and for some moments the two talked in
whispers.

At first the commander of the submarine seemed unwilling to agree to the
captain's proposal, but presently Ken, who was watching breathlessly, saw
him nod his head.

Then the captain smiled, and turning leaped lightly back on to the launch.

'It's all right, Ken,' he said. 'We are going to try it.'

'Hurrah!' cried Ken in high delight.

'Try what?' demanded Roy. 'Hang it all! Don't keep us in the dark. What's
all the mystery about?' Ken glanced at his father.

'All right,' said the latter. 'Every one must know and agree before we
start.'

'Gentlemen,' he said, addressing the anxious crowd who surrounded him, 'my
son has suggested that we might do something better than go and lie up for
an indefinite time in the hiding-place which would be our only possible
refuge on these shores, and where we should be in constant danger from the
enemy. His idea is that we might make a dash back down the Straits.'

'Mais, it would be ze madness!' exclaimed an elderly Frenchman, with a
gray imperial and a blood-stained bandage around his head. 'Zey would sink
us.'

'So they would under ordinary circumstances,' agreed the captain. 'But the
night and--more than that--the fog are in our favour. Besides this launch
is Turkish, and we have several people aboard who can speak the language.'

'But ze mines!' objected the Frenchman.

'There again we are fairly safe. The launch is of such shallow draught
that she will easily pass over the mine-fields. Floating mines we must of
course risk, but there are not likely to be many about, for the Turks only
send them down when an attack is expected. One other point is in our
favour. This launch is fast. With any luck, we shall be through the
Straits and in safety long before daylight.'

The Frenchman nodded.

'Vair well, Monsieur le Capitaine. For me, I am satisfied.'

'I think we all are,' said an elderly Englishman named Symons.

The captain looked round, but no one offered any objection.

'Then it is decided,' he said quietly, and proceeded to issue his orders
as briskly as he had done, years before, on his own quarter-deck.

The Turks were transferred to the empty boat, and taken in tow by the
submarine. Johnston went back to G2, but Williams remained as engineer in
charge of the launch. The dead Turks were put overboard, and the traces of
the fight quickly removed.

Then Strang bade them farewell and good luck, the engines began to move,
the screw churned the water, and the prize, heading westwards, sped
rapidly towards the mouth of the Straits.

Williams, who was the sort of man who could tackle anything in the way of
machinery, from a sewing machine to a Dreadnought's turbines, soon got the
hang of the launch's engines.

'They're a bit of all right,' he said to Ken and Roy, who had volunteered
as stokers and oilers. 'Blowed if I thought them Turks had anything as
good. But I reckon this here craft come from Germany.'

'She certainly can leg it,' observed Ken, as he noticed how the whole
fabric of the little craft quivered under the drive of the rapidly
revolving screw.

'Ay, and I reckon we'll need all she's got afore we're through,' replied
Williams dryly, as he squirted oil into a bearing.

'We ought to be all right if the fog holds,' said Ken.

'Ay, if it does. I'll allow it's thick enough up here, but there ain't no
saying what it'll be down in them straits. Fogs is uncertain things at
best and you never can tell when you'll run out o' one into clear
weather.'

Williams's warning made Ken feel distinctly uneasy, and every few minutes
he kept looking out to see what the weather was doing. But so far from
clearing, the mist seemed to thicken, until it was as gray and wet as the
Channel on a late autumn day. Night, too, was closing down, and soon it
was so dark that one end of the vessel could not be seen from the other.

The distance to the mouth of the Straits was about thirty miles, and the
Straits themselves have a length of thirty-five. The launch was good for
fifteen knots, and though it would not be possible to go at full speed
through the Narrows, they hoped, barring accidents, to do the journey in
about five hours.

Having done two hours' work, Ken and Roy were relieved, and after a much
needed wash, went into the cabin for a mouthful of food. Then Ken went
forward, to find his father, wearing a rough black oilskin, combining the
duties of look-out and skipper. At the wheel was a young Englishman named
Morgan, an amateur yachtsman who knew the Straits like the palm of his
hand.

'Where are we now, dad?' asked Ken.

'Opposite Bulair.'

'What--in the Straits?'

'At their mouth, Ken.'

'We haven't wasted much time, then.'

'Indeed we haven't. But I am afraid we shall have to slow a bit now. The
fog is thicker than ever, there are no lights, and we don't want to come
to an ignominious end by piling ourselves up on the cliffs.

'Still the fog's our best friend,' he continued, 'and we have plenty of
time before us. If we average no more than half-speed we should be clear
before daylight.'

For another twenty minutes they carried on at full speed through the
choking smother, then Captain Carrington rang to reduce speed.

'We're off Gallipoli now,' he said. 'That's where I should have been by
this time, Ken, if G 2 had not popped up just at the proper moment.'

'It isn't exactly a salubrious spot,' Ken answered with a smile. 'The
"Lizzie" has been chucking her 15-inchers into the town whenever she
hadn't anything else to do.'

For the next two hours the launch nosed her way cautiously
south-westwards, through the wet smother. Most of the time she kept fairly
close under the Asiatic shore. There were fewer forts that side, and less
danger therefore of attracting attention.

During the whole of that time she never sighted so much as a rowing boat.
The Straits were as empty as a country lane on a winter night.

About eleven Ken, who had done another spell of stoking, went forward
again to where his father kept his ceaseless watch.

'Getting near the Narrows, aren't we?' he asked in a low voice.

'We are, Ken. If my reckoning is right Nagara Point is almost on our port
bow.'

'There's a light of some sort just ahead, sir,' said Morgan from the
wheel.

'I see it too,' said Ken quickly. 'Can it be from the fort?'

Quickly the captain rang to slow still more. With barely steerage way the
launch moved noiselessly forward. There followed some moments of
breathless silence, while the three stared at the dull mysterious glow
which was now almost exactly ahead.

'It's a craft of some sort,' said Ken in a sharp whisper. 'The light's
moving.'

'You're right. Starboard a trifle, Morgan.'

Again a pause. Then Ken spoke again.

'It's a tug, father. She's towing a string of barges. She's going across
to Maidos.'

'Then I know what they're doing,' said Morgan.' They're taking stores
across from the Asiatic side. I heard they had started that game since our
submarines began to worry them in the Marmora.'

'I thought as much,' Captain Carrington answered quietly. 'Then it is up
to us to stop it.'

Ken glanced quickly at his father, but there was not light to see his
face. It was Morgan who voiced his thought.

'We shall bring the fire of all the batteries down on us,' he said.

'Of course,' Captain Carrington's voice was calm as ever. 'Starboard
another point, Morgan. Ken, call Dimmock. He's an ex-gunnery lieutenant,
and can handle the 6-pounder.'

'I'm here already, sir,' came a voice out of the gloom. I saw the light,
and guessed what was up.'

'I can help, father,' said Ken. 'Ah, and here's Roy.'

All three sprang forward to the gun. It had already been loaded and a
dozen spare shells were ready alongside.

'This is luck,' said Roy in a gleeful whisper, as he ranged himself
alongside the gun. He, like the rest, was perfectly well aware that the
first shot they fired would bring down on them the concentrated fire of
all the batteries on both shores, and that their chances of escape were
hardly worth considering. But this did not weigh for a moment, if they
were able to strike a blow for the Empire.

The revolutions were increasing, the launch moved more rapidly down upon
her quarry.

'Three barges!' exclaimed Roy. 'Big 'uns, too! I say, there must be tons
of stuff aboard. Jove, won't the Turks be sick?'

'We must get the tug first,' said Dimmock, who, though a man of forty, was
as keen as a boy. 'If we can slap it into her first, we can deal with the
barges at our leisure.'

As he spoke he was squinting along the barrel, his right hand busy with
the sighting screw.

'Hang this fog!' he muttered. 'I can hardly see what I'm shooting at.'

The launch was now within little more than a hundred yards of the tug
which was puffing noisily along, her string of barges tailing heavily down
the current, and her crew utterly unaware of the hidden danger gliding
down upon them through the fog.

'I'm beastly rusty,' continued Dimmock. 'Still, I hardly think I can miss
her at this range.'

As he spoke his finger pressed the electric button, and the gun barked
with that ear-splitting crack peculiar to the 6-pounder.

The tug staggered and rang like an iron drum.

'Not much miss about that!' cried Roy triumphantly. 'You must have got her
slap in the boilers.'

'No, it was too high,' said Dimmock in a discontented tone.' This gun
jumps a bit. Sharp there, with that other shell.'

Roy slipped it in as though it were a toy, the breech-block snicked to,
and five seconds later a second report roused the echoes.

'That's better,' said Dimmock, as a flash of flame rose from the midships
section of the tug. 'Ah, there goes her funnel! She's a goner.'

He was right. The tug swung round to the current, and, with engines
stopped, drifted idly down the Straits.

'What's the matter? They haven't begun to fire yet,' said Roy quickly, as
he thrust a third shell into the open breech.

[Illustration: 'Up shot a sheet of crimson flame.']

'So much the better for us,' Ken answered. 'Mr Dimmock, this one ought to
do for the nearest barge.'

Hastily Dimmock sighted again at the blunt, low-lying object which loomed
dimly ahead in the wet darkness.

Once more the smart little gun spoke, but the crack of the report had
hardly sounded before it was drowned by the most appalling crash. Up from
the stricken barge shot a sheet of crimson flame, a blaze of fire which
mounted a hundred feet into the murky air, and in spite of fog and mist
flung its glare upon the iron cliffs on either side the narrow straits.

The launch shuddered as though she had struck a reef, and the blast from
the explosion flung every soul who was standing up flat upon her decks.

Hard upon the roar came a wave, a wave which rose high over the bows of
the long, slim craft, and swept across her in a torrent of cold, salt
water.

It washed Ken back against the rail, which he clutched at desperately, and
so saved himself from going overboard.

Dazed and confused, he struggled to his feet.

'Roy!' he cried thickly, 'Roy!'

'All right. We're all right,' came a hoarse reply, and Roy's tall figure
rose from close under the opposite rail, and grasping Dimmock, lugged him
to his feet.

'Gad, that's done the trick!' he panted. 'The other barges are gone. So's
the tug. We've bust the whole caboodle.'

From aft came Captain Carrington's voice, shouting for 'Full speed ahead!'

Time, too, for the gunners in the forts, recovering from their paralysed
amazement, were already getting busy and the roar of great guns was
followed by the rocket-like hiss of shells.

Like a frightened hare the launch gathered speed and darted away
downstream. Shells, each big enough to smash her to kindling, fell on
every side, but the gunners on both sides were firing too high, and by a
series of miracles the launch was not touched.

Searchlights sprang out, their white fingers feeling through the murk. But
no searchlight ever made will penetrate a thousand yards of fog, and the
dull glares only served to warn the steersman of the launch of dangers to
be avoided.

'Jove, we'll do it yet, Ken,' cried Roy, shouting so as to be heard above
the thunderous din of the guns.

'It will be a miracle if we do,' Ken answered. 'Remember we have to run
the gauntlet all the way down.'

'It doesn't follow,' Roy said quickly. 'They haven't seen us, and they'll
take it for granted that it must have been a submarine. Why, even the
sweepers haven't ventured up here.'

'I only hope you're right,' replied Ken fervently.

'Ah!' he broke off, as a shell whizzed over so near they felt the wind of
it. 'That was close.'

By this they had passed Nagara, and turning due south were rushing past
the big fort of Kosi Kale. For the moment the tempest of shell had died
away behind them.

'I told you so,' said Roy jubilantly. 'They've chucked it. If we don't
whack into a beastly mine we shall get clear.'

Indeed, it almost seemed as though he was right. The firing slackened,
then stopped completely, and the launch, still untouched, sped through the
gloom. Her crew, almost unable to credit such amazing luck, stood about
the decks staring out into the darkness, occasionally exchanging a word or
two in low voices.

'We're in the Narrows,' said Ken. 'See that luminous patch over to the
left. That's Chanak.'

'Almost the same spot where the trawlers were scuppered,' answered Roy.

'Just so. If Fort Hamidieh doesn't open out, we ought really to be all
right. We shall be in broader waters.' He took out his watch and glanced
at its luminous dial.

'In three minutes we shall know one way or the other,' he added.

For the next hundred and eighty seconds there was no sound but the steady
swish of the bow wave and the beat of the powerful engines.

Ken shut his watch with a snap.

'All right. We're past.'

The words were not out of his mouth before there came a ringing report,
and a shell, screaming through the air, smacked into the water about a
length astern.

'A twelve-pounder!' said Ken sharply, as he turned. 'Ah!' as a blaze of
light sprang out about half a mile aft, 'that's why they stopped firing.
There's a destroyer after us.'



CHAPTER XIX

IN THE NICK OF TIME


Ken was right. That was why the firing had stopped. A destroyer, which
must have been lying in some cove up the Straits, had been summoned by
wireless to take revenge on the bold intruder. She was now dashing
headlong in pursuit.

Roy stared at the dull white glare which came momentarily nearer.

'Rotten luck!' he observed disgustedly. 'None of the "conquering hero" in
ours, I'm afraid, old man.'

'Afraid not,' Ken answered resignedly. 'The brute's got the legs of us,
and it'll only take one o' those twelve-pounders to settle our hash.
Still, it's no use crying till we're hurt, and the Turks ain't the best
gunners in the world.'

'Crash!' Another shell screamed out of the mist.

'Nearer!' said Roy grimly, as the ugly missile fell alongside, sending up
a fountain of brine.

'Watch her, doing the outside edge!' he continued, as the launch curved
swiftly to port. 'That'll throw 'em off their shooting. Ah, I told you
so'--as the third shell went wide.

'We can't shoot back,' growled Dimmock. 'That's the worst of these rotten
little bow guns.'

'No, it's simply a matter of running and dodging,' said Ken, and turning
went back to where his father was standing.

'Poor luck, Ken,' said the latter with his usual calmness. 'The beggar's
gaining hand over fist. She's at least five knots faster than we.'

'Well, we've hurt the Turks a jolly sight worse than they can hurt us,
that's one comfort, dad,' Ken replied. 'They can't replace that
ammunition.'

Before his father could answer, a shell from the destroyer passed so close
overhead that the wind of it flung them both down. There was a splintering
crash, and the launch quivered all over.

'Hurt, father?' cried Ken, springing up.

'Not a bit, thanks. But I'm afraid the launch is.'

'She's still moving anyhow. No, it's only carried away a bit of the cabin
top. We're all right still.'

The searchlight grew clearer every moment. Already the hull of the flying
launch began to show up in the misty radiance. Her steersman sent her
shooting in wide curves, and so succeeded in upsetting the aim of the
Turkish gunners. But it was only putting off the inevitable end, and that
was clear to every soul aboard.

[Illustration: 'The deck-house melted in a shower of splinters.']

'It's no use, dad,' said Ken, as another shell cut away the top of the
stumpy funnel. We can't get away. Let's finish, fighting.'

'Turn and try to ram her?'

'Yes, and Dimmock might by luck get a shell into her. He's a pretty nippy
shot in spite of being out of practice.'

'All right, Ken. I'd rather die fighting than running.'

He raised his voice.

'Mr Morgan, put her hard aport! Dimmock, here's your chance for a last
shot.'

Round came the launch, turning on her keel like a racing yacht, and
straight she sped for her big pursuer. The latter was evidently taken
aback by this unexpected manoeuvre, and for a moment her searchlight lost
the launch.

The moment the glare was gone the hull of the destroyer showed up dark
against the mist.

'Now's your chance, Dimmock!' cried Ken, and almost instantly the little
gun spoke, and the crash was followed by a flash which lit the destroyer's
deck.

'Oh, good shot, Dimmock!' exclaimed the captain. 'That shell exploded
right under her bridge.

For a moment the destroyer yawed right off her course, but she was under
control again in a few seconds, and her forward gun spoke once more.

The flash was followed by a tremendous shock, and the launch, with her
rudder and part of her stern carried away, spun round helplessly, and
began to drift downstream.

'That's finished it,' groaned Roy.

Again the destroyer's gun roared, and the deckhouse melted in a shower of
splinters. Ken, struck on the leg by one of them, toppled over helplessly.
His leg felt numb, he could not move. There was nothing for it now but to
await the inevitable end.

Crash! Vaguely Ken realised that this was a heavier gun than the
12-pounders of the destroyer. He heard a shell roar overhead, then from
the destroyer, now no more than a hundred yards away, rose a blinding
flash.

'Hurrah!' he heard Roy shout, but the reason he could not imagine. He made
a desperate effort to struggle up, felt the blood gush hot from his wound.
His head spun, he fell back and knew no more.

Coming back to consciousness after being knocked out is always a slow and
painful business. The first thing that Ken's muddled brain took in was the
surprising fact that he was lying in a real bed between beautifully clean
sheets.

He had not been in such a bed for more than six months, and he could not
understand it at all.

Slowly he opened his eyes, and looked up at a whitewashed ceiling. Through
a window opposite the sun was shining and a warm breeze blowing.

'I suppose I'm dreaming,' he said at last, and was surprised to hear how
weak and husky his voice seemed.

Some one rose quickly from a chair beside the bed.

'My dear lad,' came his father's voice.

Ken stared at him.

'Is it real?' he asked vaguely. 'Where am I?'

'Absolutely genuine, my boy,' answered Captain Carrington, smiling. 'You
are in hospital in Lemnos, and here you've been for two days. We began to
think you were never coming round again.'

'I'm sorry I frightened you,' said Ken, 'but I wish you'd tell me how I
got here. I had a sort of impression that I ought to be at the bottom of
the Dardanelles.'

'The marvel is that we were not all there,' answered his father gravely.
'It was the cruiser "Carnelian" that saved us at the very last moment by
putting a six-inch shell into the Turkish destroyer.'

'But how on earth did she come to be there, right up the Straits?' Ken
asked amazedly.

'That was Strang's doing. The good chap sent a wireless asking them to
look out for us.'

'Jove, that was smart of him,' Ken said smilingly. 'But Roy, dad? Is Roy
all right?'

'Quite right. He has rejoined his regiment.'

Ken's face fell.

'What about me, dad? Don't say I shan't be able to do the same.'

'There is no need to say anything of the sort, my boy,' replied his father
quickly. 'The only trouble with you is that you lost more blood than was
good for you. The splinter cut a small artery. I have no doubt whatever
that you will be able to rejoin in a month or so.'

'A month! It may be all over by then.'

'It won't,' said the other gravely. 'It will take more than a month to
open the Dardanelles. You'll get your fill of fighting before this
business is over. Those who know best say that it will take three months
at least to beat the Turks.'

'That's all right,' said Ken, with reckless disregard for the hopes of the
British Empire. 'I want a chance of doing my bit in the trenches alongside
Dave and Roy.'

For a moment or two Captain Carrington watched his son in silence.

'You'll be doing your bit under rather different conditions in future,' he
said quietly.

Ken stared. 'What do you mean, dad?'

For answer his father picked up the khaki tunic which hung over the end of
the bed, and showed Ken the sleeve.

On it was the star indicating the rank of Second-Lieutenant in His
Majesty's Army.





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