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´╗┐Title: The Boy Allies at Jutland
Author: Drake, Robert L.
Language: English
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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.

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The Boy Allies At Jutland

or

The Greatest Naval Battle of History

By Ensign ROBERT L. DRAKE

AUTHOR OF

  "The Boy Allies Under the Sea"
  "The Boy Allies In the Baltic"
  "The Boy Allies on the North Sea Patrol"
  "The Boy Allies Under Two Flags"
  "The Boy Allies with the Flying Squadron"
  "The Boy Allies with the Terror of the Seas"

1917



CHAPTER I

H.M.S. "QUEEN MARY"


A great, long, gray shape moved swiftly through the waters of the
Thames. Smoke, pouring from three different points in the middle of
this great shape, ascended, straight in the air some distance, then,
caught by the wind, drifted westward.

It was growing dark. Several hours before, this ocean greyhound--one of
Great Britain's monster sea-fighters--had up-anchored and left her
dock--where she had been undergoing slight repairs--heading eastward
down the river.

Men lined the rails of the monster ship. These were her crew--or some
of her crew, to be exact--for the others were engaged in duties that
prevented them from waving to the crowds that thronged the shore--as
did the men on deck.

Sharp orders carried across the water to the ears of those on shore.
The officers were issuing commands. Men left the rail and disappeared
from the view of the spectators as they hurried to perform their
duties. Came several sharp blasts of the vessel's siren; a moment later
her speed increased and as she slid easily through the waters of the
river, a cheer went up from both shores.

The crowd strained its eyes. Far down the river now the giant
battleship was disappearing from the sight of the men and women who
lined the banks. In vain, a few moments later, did many eyes try to
pierce the darkness. The battleship was lost to sight.

The vessel that had thus passed down the Thames was H. M. S. _Queen
Mary_, one of the most formidable of England's sea fighters. It was
with such ships as the _Queen Mary_, supported by smaller and less
powerful craft, that Great Britain, for almost two years of the great
war, had maintained her supremacy of the seas.

This great ship was new in service, having been completed only a few
years before the outbreak of the war. She was constructed at a cost of
$10,000,000. She was 720 feet long, of 27,000 tons burden and had a
complement of almost 1,000 men. For fighting purposes she was equipped
with all that was modern.

In her forward turret she carried a battery of six 16-inch guns. Aft,
the turret was similarly equipped. Also the _Queen Mary_ mounted other
big guns and rapid firers. She was equipped with an even half-dozen
12-inch torpedo tubes. She was one of the biggest ships of war that
roved the seas.

The _Queen Mary_ was one of the fleet of battleships that had patrolled
the North Sea since the outbreak of hostilities. Already she had seen
her share of fighting, for she had led more than one attack upon the
enemy when the Germans had mustered up courage enough to leave the
safety of the great fortress of Heligoland, where the main German high
sea fleet was quartered.

It had been in a skirmish with one of these venturesome enemy vessels
that the _Queen Mary_ had received injuries that necessitated her going
into dry dock for a few days, while she was given an overhauling and
her wounds healed. True enough, she had sent the foe to the bottom; but
with a last dying shot, the Germans had put a shell aboard the _Queen
Mary._

Her damage repaired, the _Queen Mary_ was now steaming to the open
waters of the North Sea, where she would again take up patrol duty with
the other vessels that comprised the British North Sea fleet, under
command of Vice-Admiral Beatty, whose flagship, the _Lion_, had taken
up the additional burden of patrolling the _Queen Mary's_ territory
while the latter was being overhauled.

Aboard the battleship, the British tars, who had become fretful at the
delay, were happy at the thought of getting back into active service.
While they had been given an opportunity to stretch their legs ashore,
they, nevertheless, had been glad when the time to steam back into the
open sea had come. Now, as the _Queen Mary_ entered the mouth of the
Thames and prepared' to leave the shores of Old England for the broad
expanse of the North Sea, they sang, whistled and laughed gaily.

They were going back where they would get another chance at the enemy,
should he again venture from his lair.

Forward, upon the upper deck, stood two young officers, who peered into
the darkness ahead.

"To my mind," said one, "this beats a submarine. Just look about you.
Consider the size of this battleship! Look at her armament! Think of
the number of men aboard!"

"You may be right," returned the second officer, "but we have had some
grand times beneath the sea. We have been to places and seen things
that otherwise would have been impossible."

"True enough; but at the same time, when it came to a question of
fight, we have had to slink about like a cat in the night, afraid to
show ourselves to larger and heavier adversaries. Now, aboard the
_Queen Mary_, that will be done away with. Now we are the cat rather
than the mouse."

"It may be that I shall come to your way of thinking in time," said the
second speaker, "but at this moment I would rather have the familiar
feel of a submarine beneath my heel. I would feel more at home there.
Besides, we have lost one thing by being assigned to the _Queen Mary_
that hits me rather hard."

"I know what you mean," said the first speaker. "We indeed have lost
the companionship of a gallant commander. Captain Raleigh undoubtedly
is a first class officer--otherwise he would not be in command of the
_Queen Mary_--but we are bound to miss Lord Hastings."

"Indeed we are. Yet, as he told us, things cannot always be as we
would like to have them. He was called for other service, as you know,
and he did his best for us. That is why we find ourselves here as minor
officers."

"Yes; and it's a whole lot different than being the second and third in
command."

At that moment another young officer hurried by.

"Coming, Templeton? Coming, Chadwick?" he asked as he passed.

"Where?" demanded the two friends.

"Didn't you hear the call for mess?"

"No; By Jove! and I'm hungry, too," said the young officer addressed as
Templeton. "Come along, Frank. We have been so busy talking here that
we had forgotten all about the demands of the inner man."

The two hurried after the officer who had accosted them; and while they
are attending to the wants of the inner man, as Templeton termed their
appetites, we will take the time to explain how these two lads came to
be aboard the giant battleship, steaming into the North Sea in search
of the enemies of Great Britain and her allies.

Frank Chadwick was an American youth of some eighteen years. Separated
from his father in Naples at the outbreak of the great war, he had been
shanghaied aboard a sailing vessel when he had gone to the aid of a man
apparently in distress. There he was made a prisoner.

Some days later he had been rescued by Jack Templeton, a young
Englishman, who had boarded the vessel off the coast of Africa, seeking
payment for goods he had sold to the mutinous crew. The two lads had
been instrumental in helping Lord Hastings, a British nobleman, put
through a coup that kept Italy out of the war on the side of Germany
and Austria. Lord Hastings had become greatly attached to the lads, and
when he had been put in command of a vessel, he had both boys assigned
to his ship.

Through gallant service Frank and Jack had won their lieutenancies.
Later Lord Hastings had assumed command of a submarine and had made
Jack his first officer and Frank his second officer.

Through many a tight place the lads had gone safely, though they had
faced death more than once, and faced it calmly and bravely. Also, at
this period of the war, they had seen service in many seas. They had
been engaged in the first battle of the North Sea, when Great Britain
had struck her first hard blow; they had participated in the sinking of
the German Atlantic squadron near the Falkland islands, off the coast
of Argentina, in South America; they had fought in Turkish waters and
in the Indian Ocean, and also had been with the British land forces
when the Japanese allies of the English had won the last of the German
possessions in China.

In stature and disposition the boys were as different as could be.
Frank, though large for his age, looked small when alongside of Jack.
The latter, though no older than his friend, was a huge bulk of a boy,
standing well over six feet. He was built proportionately. Strong as an
ox, he was, and cool of head.

Here he differed from Frank, who had something of a temper and was
likely to do something foolish on the spur of the moment if he became
angry. Jack had served as a damper for his friend's anger and
enthusiasm more than once.

That they could fight, both boys had shown more than once. Jack,
because of his huge bulk and great strength, was, of course, harder to
beat in a hand-to-hand struggle than was Frank; but what the latter
lacked in this kind of fighting, he more than made up in the use of
revolver, rifle or sword.

Frank was a crack shot with a revolver; and more than once this
accomplishment had stood them both in good stead. Each was a good
linguist and conversed in French and German as well as in English. This
also had been of help to them in several ticklish situations.

On their last venture, at which time they had been under command of
Lord Hastings, they had reached the distant shores of Russia, where
they had been of some assistance to the Czar. In reaching Petrograd it
had been necessary for them to pass through the Kiel canal, which they
had done safely in their submarine in spite of the German warships and
harbor defenses. Also they had managed to sink several enemy vessels
there.

Returning, Frank and Jack had gone home with Lord Hastings, where Lady
Hastings had insisted that they remain quiet for some time. This they
had done and had been glad of the rest.

One day Lord Hastings had come home with the announcement that he had
been called back into the diplomatic service. It was the aim of the
British government to align Greece and Roumania on the side of the
Allies. Realizing that they could not hope to accompany Lord Hastings,
and not wishing to remain idle longer, Frank and Jack had requested
Lord Hastings to have them assigned on active duty at once. Lord
Hastings promised to do his best.

And this was the reason that Frank Chadwick and Jack Templeton found
themselves aboard H.M.S. _Queen Mary_ when she steamed out to the North
Sea on an evening in the last week of May, 1916.



CHAPTER II

A BIT OF HISTORY


Up to this time the German Sea fleet, as a unit, had suffered
comparatively little damage in the great war. Sheltered as it was
behind the great fortress of Heligoland, the British sea forces had
been unable to reach it; nor would the Germans venture forth to give
battle to the English, in spite of the bait that more than once had
been placed just outside the mine fields that guarded the approach to
the great German fortress itself.

To have attacked this fortress would have been foolhardy and the
British knew it. The British fleet, powerful though it was, would have
been no match for the great guns of the German fortress, even had the
battleships been able to force a passage of the mine fields; and this
latter feat would have been a wonderful one in itself, could it be
accomplished.

Upon several occasions German battleships, cruisers and submarines had
ventured from behind the mine field and had delivered raids upon the
British coast, almost 400 miles away. How they escaped the eyes of the
waiting British was a riddle that so far had not been explained. But
while they reached alien shores in safety, they had not returned with
the same success. Twice the British had come into contact with these
German raiders and in each case the enemy had come off second best.
Several German cruisers had been sent to the bottom.

After occasions like these, the Germans would lie long behind their
snug walls before venturing forth into the open again. They held the
British navy in too great awe to treat it lightly.

But the fact that the British were able to keep the German fleet
bottled up was a victory in itself, though a bloodless one. Practically
all commerce with Germany had been shut off. It settled down to a
question of how long the German Empire could survive without the
necessary food and other commodities reaching her shores. What little
in the way of foodstuffs did reach Germany came by the way of the
Scandinavian countries--Norway, Sweden and Denmark; also some grain was
still being shipped in by the way of Roumania and was being transported
up the Danube, which had been opened to traffic again after Serbia had
been crushed.

But these supplies were not great enough to take care of the whole
German population. In the conquest of Russian Poland, Germany had
improved her lot somewhat, for the fertile fields had immediately been
planted and a good crop had been reaped.

And the one thing that prevented Germany from importing the things that
would in the end be necessary to her existence was the British
supremacy of the sea, abetted now somewhat by the navies of France,
Italy and Japan. German commerce had been cleared from the seven seas.
What vessels of war had been scattered over the world at the outbreak
of the war had either been sent to the bottom, captured or were
interned in foreign ports. These latter were of no value to Germany.

It had been more than a year now since the last German commerce raider
had been sunk. The German commercial flag was seen no more in the four
corners of the globe. It appeared that Germany was nearing the end of
her rope.

And yet, bottled up in Heligoland, remained the German high sea fleet
practically intact. It was a formidable fleet and one, it seemed, that
should not be afraid to venture from behind the protection of the
fortress. And some day, the world knew, when all other ways had failed,
this great fleet would steam forth to give battle to the British, in a
last effort of the German Emperor to turn the tide in his favor; and
while, in the allied nations at least, there was no doubt of the
ultimate outcome of such a struggle, it was realized that the German
fleet would give a good account of itself when it did venture forth.

Therefore, it was considered just as well that the British keep the
German high sea fleet bottled up and give it no chance to reach the
open, where, although the greater part might be sent to the bottom,
some vessels might escape and embark upon a cruise of commerce warfare.
This bloodless victory, it was pointed out, was of just as great value
to Great Britain as if all the German ships of war had been at the
bottom of the North Sea. Bottled up as they were, they were just as
ineffective.

This was the situation, then, when the _Queen Mary,_ with Jack and
Frank aboard, steamed down the Thames and out into the North Sea to
take up again her patrol of those waters; and there was nothing to warn
those on board of the great battle that even now was impending and that
was to result disastrously for Great Britain, even though the Germans
were to suffer no less.

Mess over, Frank and Jack made their way to their own quarters
amidships. Here they sat down and for some time talked over the events
of the days gone by.

"I guess there will be nothing for us to do this night," said Frank at
last. "We may as well turn in."

"I am afraid there will be nothing for us to do for some time to come,"
was Jack's reply. "I am afraid it will be rather monotonous sailing
about the North Sea looking for German warships, when the latter are
afraid to come out and fight."

"Well, you can't tell," said Frank. "However, that's one beauty of a
submarine. You don't have to wait around for something to happen. You
can go out and make it happen."

"That's so. But, by Jove! I wish these fellows would come out and
fight! Maybe we could put an end to this war real quickly."

"Yes, but we might not," returned Frank.

"Why, don't you think we can thrash them?"

"I suppose we can; but at the same time they can do a lot of damage.
Besides, some of them have come out. We've sunk some, of course, but
the others have returned safely enough. I can't see any excuse for
that."

"It does seem that they should have been caught," Jack agreed, "but I
guess Admiral Jellicoe, Admiral Beatty and the admiralty know what is
going on."

"Sometimes it doesn't look like it," declared Frank. "I suppose there
are still some of these German submarines scooting about almost under
our feet."

"I suppose so. However, ordinarily, as you know, they won't attack a
battleship. It's too risky. If they miss with the first torpedo, the
chances are they will be sunk."

"Well, we sunk a few," said Frank.

"I know we did; but we took long chances."

"The Germans take long chances, too."

"You must have a little German blood in you, Frank," said Jack, with a
smile. "If I didn't know you better, I would think you were sticking up
for them."

"No, I'm not sticking up for them; but they do things we seem to be
afraid to do. To my way of thinking, we should have gone and cleaned up
Heligoland a long time ago."

"By Jove! You want the enemy to win this war quickly, don't you?"

"No, but----"

"Come, now. You know very well what would have happened if we had tried
to take a fleet into Heligoland. They would have blown us out of the
water."

"Well, such things have been done," grumbled Frank. "I can tell you a
couple of cases. At Mobile Bay----"

"Oh, I've heard all that before. But conditions now are absolutely
different. What was done fifty years ago can't be done today."

"They aren't being done, that much is sure," replied Frank. "But this
argument is not doing us any good. Me for a little sleep."

"I'm with you," said Jack.

And half an hour later, as the _Queen Mary_ still steamed due east,
Frank and Jack slept.

Above, the third officer held the bridge. The great searchlight forward
lighted the water for some distance ahead, and aft a second light cast
its powerful rays first to port and then to starboard. There was not
another vessel in sight.

Farther to the east, other British battleships patrolled the sea, their
lights also flashing back and forth. It would be a bold enemy who would
venture to run that blockade; and yet, in spite of this, the strictest
watch was maintained. For the fact still remained fresh in the minds of
the British that upon two occasions the Germans had run the British
blockade; and both times the failure of the British to intercept them
had resulted in heavy loss of life on the coast, where the German
warships had shelled unfortified towns--against all rules of civilized
warfare--killing thousands of helpless men, women and children.

It was against some such similar attack that the British warships were
patrolling every mile of water. The British coast must be protected. No
more German raiders must be allowed to slip through and bombard
undefended coast towns.

Also, strict watch was kept aloft. For almost nightly now, huge German
Zeppelins were sailing across the sea and dropping bombs upon the coast
of Kent, upon Dover, and close even to London itself. It was feared
that one of these monsters of the air might swoop down upon the
battleships and, with a well directed bomb, send the vessel to the
bottom of the sea.

All British war vessels were equipped with anti-aircraft guns and these
were ever loaded and ready for action; for there was no telling what
moment they might be called into use to repel a foe. Upon several
occasions attacks of the Zeppelins had been beaten off with these guns,
though, up to date, none had been brought down.

But now there had been perfected a new anti-aircraft gun. With this it
was believed that the battleship stood a good chance of bringing down a
Zeppelin should it venture near enough.

With such a gun the _Queen Mary_ had been equipped as she was
overhauled in dry dock. With this gun went four men. One to stand by
the gun at night and keep watch of the sky and a second to do duty in
the day time. The other two men stood relief watches and were of
additional need should one of the first men be injured, taken sick or
killed.

And so it was that, as the _Queen Mary_ continued on her way, one of
these men stood by his gun just aft of the bridge, watching the sky.
Nor did he shirk his task.

Almost continuously his eye swept the dark heavens, following, as well
as he could, in the path of one or the other of the searchlights. He
used powerful night glasses for this purpose. Suddenly he gave a start.
He looked closely again through his glasses. Then he uttered a cry of
alarm.

The third officer, on the bridge, gave an exclamation.

"What do you see?" he demanded.

"Zeppelin," was the reply. "Douse the light aft. Have the man forward
see if he can pick up the craft with his flash. About two points east
by north."

There came sharp commands aboard the _Queen Mary._



CHAPTER III

WARSHIP AND ZEPPELIN


A bell tinkled in the engine room of the _Queen Mary_. The ship slowed
down. Captain Raleigh had been called by the third officer. He took the
bridge and issued his orders sharply.

There was no telling whether the Zeppelin sighted by the man at the gun
would attack the ship, but Captain Raleigh considered it best to be on
the safe side. That was why he had left orders to be called immediately
should an enemy appear.

Again a bell tinkled in the engine room, following an order from the
commander of the _Queen Mary_.

The great engines stopped and became silent.

"Cut off all lights!" was the next command.

A moment later the great ship was in darkness.

Frank and Jack, in their quarters, were awakened by the sounds of
confusion above. All hands had not been piped on deck, so most of the
men still lay asleep, unconscious of what was going on above, but the
two lads, dressing hurriedly, made their way on deck. They walked
forward, toward the bridge.

All was dark and it was this that told Frank and Jack that something
was going on.

"Wonder what's up?" said Frank.

"Airship, I guess," was the reply. "Can't see any other reason for
extinguishing all lights."

Near the bridge the lads stopped and waited to see what would happen.
All was quiet aboard. Not a sound came from the officers or the men on
deck. Then Captain Raleigh commanded:

"Try the forward searchlight there. See if you can pick her up!"

The light flashed aloft; and there, so far above the _Queen Mary_ as to
be little more than a tiny speck, hovered a giant Zeppelin; and even as
they looked, the airship came lower.

"She's sighted us," said Captain Raleigh to his first officer, who
stood beside him. "Try a shot, Mr. Harrison."

The first officer passed the word and a second later there came the
sound of the anti-aircraft gun. The gunner had taken his range at the
moment the flashlight revealed the airship.

The shot brought no noticeable result.

"Fifteen knots ahead, Mr. Harrison!" ordered the captain.

He was afraid that the Zeppelin might drop a bomb on the ship; and from
that moment until the end of the battle the _Queen Mary_ did not pause.
First she headed to port and then to starboard, manoeuvering rapidly
that the German airmen might not be able to reach her with a bomb.

"Another shot!" commanded Captain Raleigh.

Still no result.

"Funny she doesn't rise and try and escape," said Frank.

"No, it's not," returned Jack. "They don't know anything about this new
anti-aircraft gun. They believe they are out of range."

"Well, they're likely to hit us with one of those bombs, and then where
will we be?" said Frank.

"If they hit us you won't know anything about it," was Jack's response.

Again the _Queen Mary_ tried a shot at the Zeppelin.

A cheer went up from the members of the crew who stood upon deck; for
the Zeppelin was seen to wabble.

"Nicked her," shouted the first officer.

Jack, standing near the rail, heard something whiz by his head.
Instinctively the lad ducked. He knew in a moment what had passed him;
he heard something splash into the sea.

"Bomb just missed us, sir!" he cried, stepping forward.

"Where?" demanded Captain Raleigh.

"Right here, forward, sir," replied Jack.

Captain Raleigh gave a quick command to his first officer, who passed
it to the man at the wheel.

"Hard a-port!" he cried.

The ship veered crazily; and at the some moment, Frank, who was
standing where Jack had been a moment before, heard something swish
past.

"Another bomb, sir!" he reported.

There was no reply from the bridge. Captain Raleigh felt that, by
bringing the ship's head hard to port, he had spoiled the range of the
enemy in the air.

For some time no more bombs dropped near.

Again the _Queen Mary_ fired at the Zeppelin; and again and again.

The last shot was rewarded by another cheer from the crew. The giant
Zeppelin was seen to drop suddenly.

The crew cheered loud and long for it appeared that the Zeppelin was
about to drop into the sea. Down she came and still down; and then her
descent suddenly halted.

To those aboard the _Queen Mary_ this was unexplainable.

"Fire again, quickly!" shouted the captain.

The air gun boomed. At the same moment a man was seen to lean over the
side of the Zeppelin. He dropped something.

Again Captain Raleigh acted promptly and brought the head of the _Queen
Mary_ around. The German bomb missed. Before another could be dropped,
the man who manned the anti-aircraft gun fired again.

Another cheer from the crew.

The Zeppelin began to sink slowly.

"Full speed ahead!" cried Captain Raleigh. "They'll sink us!"

The _Queen Mary_ leaped ahead just in time.

And then the Zeppelin dropped.

With a splash it hit the water perhaps a quarter of a mile from the
British battleship. Came cries from the men, caught beneath the gas
bag. At that moment Jack stood close to the bridge. Captain Raleigh saw
him.

"Man a boat, Mr. Templeton," he called, "and rescue those fellows in
the water."

Quickly Jack sprang to obey. Frank leaped after him. Hurriedly a small
boat was gotten out and launched. A half dozen sailors sprang in and
took up the oars. Frank and Jack leaped in after them.

The oars glistened in the glare of the searchlight as the men raised
them and awaited the word.

"Give way," said Jack.

The boat sped over the smooth surface of the sea.

Close to the wreckage of the Zeppelin it approached; and cries told
Jack that some of the Germans still lived.

"Hurry!" he cried, and the men increased their stroke.

Near the wreckage Jack gave the command to cease rowing. A German swam
toward the boat. Hands helped him in and he lay in the bottom panting.
Other forms swam toward them. These, too, were lifted in the boat. And
at last Jack counted fifteen Germans who had been saved.

"Are you all here?" he asked of a German officer.

"All but Commander Butz, sir," was the man's reply.

Jack commanded his men to row closer to the wreckage.

"Ahoy there!" he shouted, when he had come close.

The lad thought he heard a muffled answer, but he could not make sure.
He called again. This time the answer came plainer.

"Where are you?" asked Jack.

"Under the wreckage," was the reply.

Jack scrutinized the wreckage closely.

"Looks like it might sink any minute," he said "But we can't leave him
there."

"What are you going to do?" asked Frank.

For answer Jack arose in the boat. Quickly he threw off his coat and
kicked off his shoes. Then he poised himself on the edge of the boat.

"I'm going after him," he replied.

Before Frank could reply, he had dived head first into the sea.

With a cry of alarm, Frank also sprang to his feet and divested himself
of his coat and shoes.

"Stay close, men!" he commanded. "I'll lend a hand if it's needed."

He, too, leaped into the water.

Rapidly, Jack swam close to the wreckage. He continued to call to the
German, and while he received an answer each time, he could not locate
the man. Twice he swam around all that remained of the huge Zeppelin.
By this time Frank had come up with him.

"Can't you find him?" he asked.

"No," returned Jack, "and I am rather afraid to swim under there. The
balloon may sink and carry me under. But if I were certain in exactly
what spot the man is imprisoned, I'd have a try at it."

Frank listened attentively; and directly the German's voice came again.
To Frank it seemed that the voice came from directly ahead of him.

"Lay hold of this end here," he said to Jack. "If you can lift it a bit
I'll go under and have a look."

"Better let me do it, Frank," said Jack.

"No; you're stronger than I am. You can hold this up better."

Jack did as his chum requested and a moment later Frank disappeared
under the wreckage, diving first to make sure that he got under.

Under the water the lad swam forward. His hand touched something that
was threshing about.

He felt sure it was the German. He rose. His head came in contact with
something, but the lad opened his eyes and saw that he was above the
surface. The imprisoned German was close beside him.

"Dive!" said Frank. "You can come out all right."

"Can't," was the reply. "My arm is caught."

Frank made a quick examination.

"I can loosen it," he said at last, "but I'll probably break the arm."

"Loosen it," said the German, quietly.

Frank took a firm hold on the arm at the elbow and gave a quick wrench.
He felt something give, and when he released his hold on the man's arm,
the latter sank suddenly.

Frank dived after him quickly. It was even as the lad feared. The
German had fainted from the pain of the arm, which Frank had broken
cleanly as he released it.

Frank dived deep and his outstretched hand encountered the German. The
lad grasped the man firmly by the collar and then struck upwards. A
moment later he succeeded in making his way to where Jack still tugged
at the balloon.

Jack lent a hand and they dragged the German from beneath the wreckage.
Then they towed him to the boat and other hands lifted him in. Frank
and Jack clambered aboard.

"Give way!" said Jack, sharply.

The boat moved toward the battleship; and even as it did so, the mass
of wreckage suddenly disappeared from sight with a loud noise.

Jack shuddered.

"Pretty close, Frank," he said quietly. "You can see what would have
happened if you had still been under there."



CHAPTER IV

ATHLETICS


"Can you fight?"

The speaker was a young British midshipman. Jack and Frank stood at the
rail, gazing off toward the distant horizon, when the young man
approached them. The lads turned quickly.

"Can you fight?" demanded the young man again. His eyes rested on Jack.

"Well," said the latter with a smile, "I can if I'm pushed to it. Who
wants to lick me now?"

The young midshipman also smiled.

"It's not that kind of a fight I'm talking about," he said. "You're new
aboard, so I'll explain."

"Do," said Jack.

"Well, there has been considerable rivalry between the men of our ship
and the crew of the _Indefatigable_. We had an athletic contest last
year and they beat us, carrying everything but the standing broad jump.
This year we are better fortified and we hope to get even. Among other
things there will be a boxing match. Jackson, that's the man we had
entered in that event, is ill. I have been elected to find a
substitute. I sized you up as being able to hold your own with most."

"Well, if that's the way of it, you can count me in, of course," said
Jack. "When does this come off?"

"As soon as we come up with the _Indefatigable_. Probably tomorrow."

"What other events are there?" asked Frank.

"Plenty," was the reply. "Besides the boxing match and standing broad
jump are the running broad jump; high jumping, a match with foils and a
revolver contest."

"And are your lists filled?" asked Frank.

"I believe so. Why?"

"Well, I'd like to get in the revolver contest," replied the lad. "I'm
pretty handy with a gun."

"I'll see what can be done," returned the midshipman. "By the way, my
name is Lawrence."

They shook hands and walked off.

"Well, that's something to liven things up a bit," said Frank.

"Yes; but I didn't know they were doing such things in time of war."

"Neither did I; but it seems they are."

It was late that evening when Lawrence again approached the two lads.

"You're in luck," he said to Frank. "We are still one man shy on our
revolver team. I have named you for the place."

"Thanks," said Frank. "I'll promise to do the best I can. By the way,
where is this match to take place?"

"Right here. Last year it was pulled off on the _Indefatigable_."

It was drawing toward night when the _Queen Mary,_ steaming swiftly,
sighted smoke upon the horizon. Two hours later she slowed down a short
distance from three other vessels, which proved to be the
_Indefatigable_, the _Invincible_ and the _Lion_, the latter the
flagship of Vice-Admiral Beatty.

The commanders exchanged salutations; and among other things made
arrangements for the athletic contest that was to take place aboard the
_Queen Mary_ the following day. This was explained to the men.

The day's events were to begin at nine o'clock. They were to come in
this order: Standing broad jump, running broad jump, high jump, foil
match, revolver contest and boxing match.

"You're last on the card, Jack," said Frank, with a laugh, when they
were informed of the manner in which the events were to be pulled off.

"Hope I'm last on my feet, too," said Jack, with a laugh.

"Oh, I'm not worrying about you. You'll come through with flying
colors. I hope I am not nervous, though."

"You won't be," said Jack, positively. "I know you and that revolver of
yours too well."

"Guess we had better turn in early so as to be fit," said Frank.

And they did, retiring several hours after mess.

Every man aboard the _Queen Mary_ was astir bright and early the
following morning. Each man was filled with enthusiasm and each was
ready to wager his next year's pay on the outcome of each event. But
there was to be no gambling. Admiral Beatty had issued orders to that
effect.

At eight o'clock the championship entrants from the _Indefatigable_
came aboard, accompanied by many of their companions, who would be
present to cheer them on. Officers as well as men were greatly
interested in the day's sports. Admiral Beatty could not be present,
but Captain Reynolds, of the _Indefatigable_, stood by Captain Raleigh,
of the _Queen Mary_, as the first event was called.

"We're going to get even with you this time, Reynolds," said Captain
Raleigh.

"Oh, no you won't. The score will be two in our favor after today."

They became silent as four men, two from each ship, made ready for the
standing broad jump.

The jumping was superb. After eight attempts one man from each ship was
eliminated; and at length the _Indefatigable_ man won.

"Two points for us, Raleigh," said Captain Reynolds, jotting down
something on the back of an envelope.

"Don't crow, we'll get you yet, Reynolds," was Captain Raleigh's reply.

The running broad jump was won by the _Queen Mary's_ entrants. Then it
was Captain Raleigh's time to smile.

"Told you so," he said to Captain Reynolds.

"Oh, you won one event last year," was the reply. "This high jump comes
to us."

And it did. The score was now four to two in favor of the
_Indefatigable_. Then came the match with foils and this also went to
the _Indefatigable_, making the score nine to two, for this match
carried five points for the winner. Also, the pistol contest and the
boxing match carried five points each.

"We've got you now, Raleigh," laughed Captain Reynolds. "Nine to two.
You've got to take both of the next two events to win. It can't be
done."

"It has been done," was the reply.

"It won't be this time," was the reply. "I think we will win the
revolver contest, for I have some pretty fair shots, but if we don't,
we are sure to take the boxing match. We've a surprise for you there.
Here they go."

The revolver match was on. There were three men on each team. The first
mark was set, a target at twenty yards with a six-inch bull's eye.
Frank fired first. He hit the bull's eye easily. So did the others, all
except one of the _Indefatigable_ crew, who was thus eliminated, much
to his disgust, as the spectators jeered him.

The next shot at a smaller mark eliminated one of the _Queen Mary's_
crew. An _Indefatigable_ man and a _Queen Mary_ man both missed the
next mark and there remained but Frank for the _Queen Mary_ and a man
named Simpson for the _Indefatigable_.

The target had been removed to sixty yards and the bull's eye was but
two inches. Frank fired and scored a hit. So did Simpson. Next both hit
the mark ten yards farther back.

A one-inch bull's eye was substituted. Frank fired first. He scored a
clean hit. Simpson also hit the eye, though not so squarely. Still it
counted a hit.

Now the bull's eye was reduced to half an inch, and at seventy yards it
seemed almost impossible to hit it. This time Simpson was to fire
first. Carefully he took deliberate aim and fired.

A shout went up from the _Queen Mary_ men who stood near.

"Missed it by a hair," said one. "Beat it, Chadwick! Beat it!"

"He can't beat it! Hooray! We've won!" This from the _Indefatigable's_
crew.

"Good shooting, old man," said Frank, quietly, as he took his position.

Carefully he measured the distance with his eye.

Then he raised his revolver slowly, and seeming scarcely to take aim,
fired.

And a yell went up from the _Queen Mary's_ crew.

"Bull's eye! Bull's eye!" they cried, and danced and capered about the
deck.

Frank had won. He had hit the bull's eye squarely.

The men rushed up and danced about him.

"Good work!" they cried. "Five points for us. Nine to seven now. We'll
win this yet!"

Simpson approached Frank and extended a hand.

"Good shooting, son," he exclaimed.

Simpson was a man well along in years, and he put this touch of
familiarity to his words to make Frank realize that they were sincere.
"I used to be something of a shot myself," he said. "But I guess you
are better than I ever was."

Frank took Simpson's hand.

"You would probably beat me next time," he said.

Simpson shook his head.

"Not in a thousand years," he said, and walked off.

Meantime, Captain Raleigh and Captain Reynolds were having it out.

"Told you so! Told you so!" exclaimed the former, as pleased as a boy.
"We'll beat you yet, sure."

"No, you won't, Raleigh," said Reynolds, with a wink. "I'll tell you
something. Ever hear of a man named Harris?"

"Yes; I know several men by that name."

"Ever hear of Tim Harris?"

"By George! You mean Tim Harris, of the _Queen Elizabeth_?"

"The same."

"The champion of the British fleet, eh? You mean to tell me you have
rung him in on us?"

"We didn't ring him in," was the reply. "He was transferred to the
_Indefatigable_ before the _Queen Elizabeth_ went to the Dardanelles.
We've been saving this up as a little surprise."

Captain Raleigh had lost his look of optimism.

"Then our man should be warned," he said. "He may wish to withdraw."

"It is only fair to tell him who his opponent is," agreed Captain
Reynolds. "I guess we should have done it long ago."

"I'll tell him," said Captain Raleigh.

At this moment there was a loud cheer from the crew of the _Queen
Mary_.

"Here he comes!" they shouted.

Jack, stripped to the waist and wearing a pair of trunks, had appeared
on deck. Two men accompanied him. These, it seemed, were to be his
seconds. Jack caught sight of Frank and smiled.

And again the crew of the _Queen Mary_ went wild.



CHAPTER V

THE FIGHT


The champion of the _Indefatigable_ had not yet appeared on deck; and
the crew of the _Queen Mary_ strained their necks hunting him out.

"Bring out your champion!" they called. "What's the matter with him? Is
he afraid?"

The men of the _Indefatigable_ returned these compliments with jeers of
their own.

"Oh, just wait!" they howled.

Captain Raleigh, in the meantime, had approached Jack and his seconds.

"It is only fair to warn you," he said quietly, "that the man whom you
are to oppose is Tim Harris, champion of the British fleet."

Jack was surprised.

"I didn't know that, sir. I thought he was with the _Queen Elizabeth_."

"Well, he's here; but I didn't know it until a moment ago. It will be
no dishonor to you if you wish to withdraw. A man must be in perfect
trim to stand before Harris."

"Why," said Jack, in surprise, "I can hardly do that now, sir. The men
are depending on me."

Captain Raleigh smiled frankly.

"You are all right, boy," he said. "At your first words I thought you
were afraid. But you cannot hope for victory."

"I always hope for victory, sir, and I shall do my best. I am no
novice."

"Perhaps not; but Harris is almost a professional; in fact, I may say,
a good deal better than many professionals. He is fast for a man of his
size and has a terrible right-hand punch. I have seen him box often. If
you are decided to go on with this, a word of warning. Watch that right
hand of his like you would a hawk."

"I shall remember, sir," replied Jack. "Thank you."

"All right then," said Captain Raleigh. "I like your spunk. Good luck
to you."

Captain Raleigh walked back to Captain Reynold's side.

"Will he withdraw?" asked the latter.

"He will not. He says the men are depending on him and he must go
through with it."

"By Jove! a fine spirit!" exclaimed Captain Reynolds. "I hope he is not
too easily disposed of."

"I don't think he will be," said Captain Raleigh, quietly. "Someway, I
have a feeling that you haven't carried off the honors yet."

"But it's foolish to talk like that, Raleigh," said Captain Reynolds.
"You know this man, Harris."

"I suppose it is foolish, but it's the way I feel just the same. Ah!
There's Harris now."

Tim Harris had appeared on deck; and the crew of the _Indefatigable_
went wild. Now for the first time the crew of the _Queen Mary_ knew who
Jack's opponent would be; and after a look at Harris, they became
strangely silent. Then one voice called:

"Never mind who he is. Templeton can lick him, anyhow!"

The others took up the cry and Jack smiled.

Now the referee called the principals to him and gave them their
instructions.

"No hitting in clinches, and clean breaks," he said.

Jack and Harris nodded that they understood. As the two stood there
together, the crowd sized them up.

Jack, standing well above six feet, still was not as tall as his
opponent, who topped him by a full inch. Their arms were about of a
length, but Harris was big through the chest and his arms seemed more
powerful than Jack's. A close observer, however, would have seen that
while Jack was in perfect physical condition, Harris carried a trifle
too much fat--not much, but still a trifle. With the battle anywhere
near equal, this fat might prove to Jack's advantage.

Jack's arms showed strength, but the muscles were not knotted like
those of Harris. Harris was perhaps twenty-eight years old, Jack almost
ten years younger. Jack had the youth, but Harris had the experience of
many hard encounters. It appeared that the odds were heavily against
Jack.

Jack and Harris sized each other carefully. Jack smiled. So did Harris.
As they touched gloves, Harris said:

"You're a nice boy. I don't want to hurt you too much, so I'll make
this short"--the referee had announced that the match was to be for ten
rounds.

"Don't worry about me," said Jack. "I can take care of myself. If the
match is short you won't find me on the deck."

Harris would have replied, but at that moment the referee called:

"Time!"

Jack leaped lightly backward even as Harris aimed a vicious blow at his
head, apparently trying to make good his word to end the battle at
once. The blow missed Jack's face by the fraction of an inch. Harris
followed up this blow with a right and left, which Jack blocked neatly,
and then brought his right up, trying to upper cut.

Jack leaped backward and the blow grazed his chin. Before Harris could
recover, Jack stepped quickly forward and planted a sharp right and a
hard left to Harris' nose. Harris stepped back and wiped away a stream
of red.

It was first blood for Jack and the crew of the _Queen Mary_ sent up a
wild cheer.

But Harris only smiled. He was not to be caught so easily again.

These two blows had given the _Indefatigable_ champion some respect for
Jack's ability. He advanced more carefully this time. He feinted
rapidly and shot his left forward, quickly followed by his right. But
Jack had not been deceived and caught both blows upon his forearms.

"You're all right, boy," said Harris, admiringly, "It's a pleasure to
box with you."

"And I may say the same," said Jack.

They fell to it again.

As Harris stepped quickly forward his foot slipped and he fell to one
knee.

"Hit him when he gets up!" came a cry from the crowd.

Instead, Jack lowered his guard and extended a hand. He helped his
opponent to his feet. Then he stepped back and the battle continued.

Now Jack decided that he would feel the other out. He feinted rapidly,
once, twice, and struck out with a right; and he staggered back
suddenly, for something had suddenly come up under his chin with
terrible force. In a moment Jack realized what _it_ was. It was
Harris' right, which Captain Raleigh had warned him against. Had the
blow been timed perfectly, Jack realized, the fight would have been
over then and there.

Guarding desperately, Jack managed to fall into a clinch, where he hung
on until his head cleared. As he stepped back the referee called time.
The first round was Harris' by the margin of that hard uppercut.

"I'll be a little more careful of that right," Jack confided to his
seconds, as he again advanced into the ring.

Again the lad assumed the offensive, keeping careful eye on his
opponent's right fist. Again Harris tried to reach Jack's chin, but
this time Jack blocked the blow. He knew he would not be caught that
way again. Jack feinted three times, twice with his left and once with
his right, and then the right crashed against Harris' ear. The man
staggered back and before he could recover Jack planted two hard blows
--right and left--to his sore nose. Desperately, Harris rushed into a
clinch.

Again the crew of the _Queen Mary_ cheered.

"And what do you think of that, eh?" asked Captain Raleigh of Captain
Reynolds.

"The boy is a fighter," was the latter's reply. "But wait; experience
will tell."

Harris became more cautious. He circled around Jack, lightly, dancing
about on his toes. The lad followed him quietly. Suddenly, Harris' left
fist shot out. Jack blocked, but before he could recover, Harris
launched himself like a catapult and a series of right and lefts
descended on Jack's face, neck, ears and abdomen.

Jack staggered back and Harris followed him closely, giving him no rest
Jack was still retreating at the bell.

Again in the third and in the fourth round Jack seemed to be getting
the worst of it. In the fifth he braced and sent in as good as he
received. In the sixth he almost floored Harris with a straight right
to the side of the jaw; and in the seventh Harris was kept on the
defensive.

But in the eighth Jack again encountered Harris' right and the force of
the blow sent him reeling. All through the round Harris followed up
this advantage, and at the bell, it seemed that Jack would be unable to
continue the fight.

But his head cleared in the one minute rest period; and he fought
through the ninth round carefully. The lad realized now that, so far,
Harris had the better of the encounter and that, if he hoped to win, it
must be by a knockout. So, while Harris was trying in vain to put in a
finishing punch, Jack husbanded his strength, determined to make a
strong effort in the final round.

The rest refreshed him still more; and as time was called for the
tenth, Jack cast discretion to the winds and leaped forward.

In spite of this, he was cool, however, and kept his eye peeled for the
movement that would tell him Harris was about to launch his right.

A right and left he landed to Harris' sore nose. Then Harris rushed.
Jack was forced back around the ring by the force of this rush and
backed against the ropes; but he bounded out with great force and
landed a vicious left to the side of Harris' jaw. Then they clinched.

As the referee parted them, Jack saw the movement for which he had been
watching. Harris again was about to launch that terrible right. The lad
waited calmly.

"Swish!"

It flashed forth faster than the eye could see. But it had not come too
quick for Jack, who was expecting it.

The blow was aimed for the point of the chin and would have ended the
fight right there. But, judging the distance exactly, Jack moved his
head a trifle to one side; and Harris' fist flashed by his chin by the
fraction of an inch.

With all his force behind the blow, Jack put a straight left to Harris'
jaw. A terrible jolt to the abdomen followed; and, as Harris head came
forward again, Jack pivoted on his heel and struck with his right.

He had judged the time and the distance perfectly. His right fist
caught Harris squarely upon the point of the chin. There was a "smack"
that could be heard even above the cheering of the _Queen Mary's_ crew,
followed by a crash as Harris fell to the deck. With half a minute of
the last round to go, Jack had knocked the man out and won the day for
the _Queen Mary_ by a score of twelve to nine.

And the crew cheered again!



CHAPTER VI

SCOUTING


Harris remained prostrate on the deck.

Quickly, Jack pulled off his gloves and, leaning down, he picked up the
unconscious man and carried him to his own cabin. There he bathed the
man's face and brought him back to consciousness.

"How do you feel, old man?" he asked.

Harris looked at the lad queerly.

"So you beat me, eh?" he said. "Well, to tell you the truth, after the
fifth round I expected it. I am no match for you and I know it. Do you
realize that you are the champion of the British fleet now?"

"I hadn't thought of that," was Jack's reply.

"You have defeated the champion, so your title is undisputed," said
Harris.

He rose from the bunk where Jack had placed him and felt tenderly of
his chin.

"Quite a wallop," he said calmly. "Well, let me congratulate you. I am
glad that, as long as I had to be defeated some day, it was you who
turned the trick."

He extended a hand and Jack grasped it heartily.

"You would probably down me next time," he said.

"Not a chance," replied Harris. "I know when I have met my superior."

He moved toward the door. There he paused for a moment and said:

"Well, I must go and dress now. I hope that I may see you again before
long."

"I am sure I hope so, too," returned Jack.

Hardly had Harris taken his departure when running feet approached
Jack's cabin. A moment later a crowd of sailors burst into the room.
Before Jack realized what was going on, they had seized him, hoisted
him to their shoulders and rushed out on deck again. There, for perhaps
half an hour, they paraded up and down, cheering wildly.

They lowered him to the deck, however, when Captain Raleigh and Captain
Reynolds approached. The former spoke first.

"I must congratulate you upon your remarkable exhibition," he said.
"You are a brave boy."

Jack flushed and hung his head.

"When I am mistaken I admit it," said Captain Reynolds. "You are more
than a match for Harris at any time."

"I did the best I could," said Jack, sheepishly.

"Well, it was pretty good," said Captain Reynolds.

With Captain Raleigh he moved away.

Frank now approached and accompanied Jack back to their cabin, where
Jack got info his uniform.

"Some scrapper, you are," said Frank. "I thought you were done for once
or twice, though."

"I thought so myself," returned Jack, with a grin. "I was pretty lucky
in that last round, if you ask me."

"Harris was pretty unlucky, I know that," said Frank, grimly. "Hurry
up, it's time to eat."

Jack's fight was the talk of the day aboard the _Queen Mary_; and
aboard the _Indefatigable_, too, for that matter. In fact, all the
British fleet within wireless radius knew before night that there was a
new champion of the British fleet; and they cheered him, though he
could not hear.

It was upon the following morning, while the _Queen Mary_ steamed about
in the North Sea, that Jack and Frank embarked upon their first piece
of work since they had been assigned to the giant battleship.

Both lads were in their cabin studying, when an orderly announced that
Captain Raleigh desired their presence. They obeyed the summons at
once.

"And how do you feel today?" asked Captain Raleigh, as he eyed Jack,
quietly.

"First rate, sir."

"Feel like another fight?"

"No, sir. I don't make a practice of that sort of thing."

"I'm glad to hear that. How would you like to take a little trip?"

"First rate, sir. Where to, sir?"

"Well, that's rather a difficult question," returned Captain Raleigh.
"Here, read this," and he passed the lad a slip of paper.

Jack did as commanded. This is what he read:

"Large number of enemy aircraft reported flying over North Sea, fifty
miles south of you, every night. Investigate.

(Signed) "BEATTY."

Jack passed the slip of paper back.

"Well?" exclaimed Captain Raleigh.

"Yes, sir," replied Jack. "You want me to find out what's going on,
sir?"

"Exactly. Can you run a hydroplane?"

"No, sir; but Frank here can."

"Who?"

"Lieutenant Chadwick, sir."

"Oh," said the commander, "so he is Frank, eh? All right. Then here is
what I want you two to do. Take the hydroplane aft and fly south. Take
your time and see what you can find out. The matter may amount to
nothing, and then again it may forebode something serious."

"Very well, sir," replied Frank. "When shall we start, sir?"

"You may as well start immediately. It is hardly possible, judging by
the tone of that message, that you will find anything by daylight, but
at least you can be on the ground by night."

"Very well, sir," said Jack, and waited to see if there were any
further instructions.

Captain Raleigh dismissed the two lads with a wave of his hand.

"That is all," he said. "Report the moment you are able to do so."

The two lads saluted and returned to their own cabin.

"You see," said Frank, "we didn't have to wait very long to find
something to do."

"I see we didn't," agreed Frank. "Now, the first thing to do is shed
these uniforms."

"What for?"

"So that we shall not be taken for British should we fall among the
enemy. We'll put on plain khaki suits."

"Well, whatever you say," said Frank.

This was the work of but a few moments; and half an hour later the two
lads soared into the air in one of the _Queen Mary's_ large
hydroplanes.

"This is something like it, if you ask me," said Frank, as he bent over
the wheel.

"Pretty fine," Jack agreed, raising his voice to make himself heard
above the whir of the propellers and the noise of the engine. "I
wouldn't mind flying all the time."

"Where do we want to come down, Jack?" asked Frank.

"Let's see. The message said the enemy was flying about fifty miles
south. They probably won't be out before dark, so I should say it might
be well to go a little beyond that point."

"All right. But we may miss them in the darkness tonight."

"By Jove! That's so! Funny I didn't think of that. Let me think a
moment."

"No use of thinking," said Frank, "I have a scheme that will work all
right."

"What is it?"

"Why, we'll stop right in the path taken by the enemy planes and then
drop down upon the water."

"So the Germans can see us as they fly by, eh?"

"They won't see us in the dark," said Frank. "We'll be a pretty small
spot down on the water. They will be looking for nothing so small."

"I guess you are right, after all," Jack agreed. "At least it's worth
trying. We'll be sure to hear them flying above; and if we went beyond
the lane of travel, or didn't go far enough, we might not even see
them."

"Exactly," said Frank. "Well, there is no hurry, so I may as well slow
down a bit."

He did so and they went along more leisurely.

"Can't see what the Germans would be flying about here for," said Jack,
"and I have been trying to figure it out ever since I read that
message."

"So have I," declared Frank, "If they were Zeppelins I could understand
it; they would be going and returning from raids on the British coast;
but surely they would not venture that distance with aeroplanes."

"I wouldn't think so. Still, you never can tell about those fellows.
They do a lot of strange things."

"So they do. Say!" Frank was struck with a sudden thought. "You don't
suppose the presence of many of those fellows heralds the advance of
the German fleet, do you? They might be just reconnoitering, you know."

"No, I hardly think that could be it. The Germans are afraid to venture
out. They know they'll get licked if they do."

"Well, those aeroplanes come out every night for some purpose, that's
sure," said Frank. "It's a wonder to me the Germans haven't tried to
sneak out in great force before now. They could come along here without
any trouble, or they could make the effort farther north, say near
Jutland."

"Well, I suppose they'll try it some day," said Jack, "but not right
away. How much farther do we have to go?"

Frank glanced at his chart and then at his speedometer.

"About fifteen miles," was his reply; "and then we'll be there too
soon."

The lad was right. It was not three o'clock when the hydroplane came to
the spot the lads had selected to descend.

"Well, here we are," said Frank.

"Guess we may as well go down, then," said Jack. "Some of those fellows
are likely to be prowling about and spot us."

"Just as you say," agreed Frank.

He set the planes and the machine glided to the water, where it came to
rest lightly.

"Glad there is no sun," said Jack, "it would be awfully hot down here."

And there the lads spent the afternoon. Darkness came at last, and with
its coming, the lads made ready for whatever might occur. Eight o'clock
came and there had been no sounds of airships flying above. The lads
strained their ears, listening for the slightest sound.

And, shortly after nine o'clock, their efforts were rewarded. Jack
suddenly took Frank by the arm.

"Listen!" he exclaimed in a low voice.



CHAPTER VII

AMONG THE ENEMY


To Frank's ears came a distant whirring. To ears less keen than the
lad's the sound, which came from above, might have been some bird of
the night flapping its wings as it soared overhead. But to Frank and
Jack both it meant something entirely different. It was the sound for
which they had been waiting. It was an airship.

Through his night glass Jack scanned the clouds and at last he picked
up the object for which he sought. Almost directly overhead at that
moment, but flying rapidly westward, was a single aeroplane. So high in
the air was the machine that it looked a mere speck and Jack was unable
to determine from that distance whether it was British or German.

"See it, Jack?" asked Frank in a low voice.

"Yes," was the reply. "A single craft, perhaps half a mile up."

"No more in sight, eh?"

"Not yet. This one is heading west."

"Guess we had better get up that way, then," said Frank.

Jack assented.

A moment later the hydroplane was skimming swiftly over the water. For
perhaps three hundred yards Frank kept the craft on the water; then
sent it soaring into the air above.

There was not a word between the two boys until the hydroplane was a
quarter of a mile in the air. Then Jack said:

"Make your elevation half a mile and then head west, slowly. The
chances are there will be more of them. In the darkness we can let them
overtake us and mingle with them in safety."

Frank gave his endorsement to this plan and the machine continued to
rise. At the proper elevation, Frank turned the hydroplane's head
westward and reduced the speed to less than thirty miles an hour. So
slow was its gait, in fact, that it had the appearance of almost
standing still.

Jack scanned the eastern horizon with his glass.

"See anything?" asked Frank.

"Thought I did," was the reply, "but whatever I saw has disappeared
now. Guess I must have been mistaken."

But Jack had not been mistaken.

Far back, even now, a fleet of perhaps a dozen German air planes were
speeding westward. For the most part they were small craft, having a
capacity of not more than three men, with the single exception of one
machine, which, larger than the rest, carried four men. The air planes
were strung out for considerable distance, no two being closer than two
hundred yards together.

And in this manner they overtook the hydroplane driven by Frank and
Jack.

Jack, again surveying the horizon with his night glass, gave an
exclamation.

"Here they come, Frank," he said. "Let her out a little more."

Frank obeyed without question and the speed of the hydroplane increased
from something more than thirty miles an hour to almost sixty. And
still the Germans gained.

"This will do," said Jack, leaning close to Frank. "They'll overtake
us, but believing we are of their number, there is little likelihood
that they will investigate us very closely. We can fall in line without
trouble and accompany them wherever they go."

"Suits me," said Frank. "Just keep me posted on their proximity."

Gradually the Germans reduced the distance and at length the first
plane was only a few yards behind the craft in which Frank and Jack
were risking their lives. The German craft flashed by a moment later
without paying any attention to the hydroplane.

"Little more speed, Frank," called Jack.

The hydroplane skimmed through the air faster than before and the next
German craft did not overtake it so easily; but at length it passed, as
did a third and a fourth.

"Here's a good place for us to fall in line," Jack instructed.

Again Frank increased the speed of the hydroplane and it moved swiftly
in the wake of the fourth German craft. After that no enemy air plane
passed them.

"Any idea where we are?" asked Frank of his chum.

"We're not far off the Belgian coast, but how far west I can't say,"
returned Jack. "Don't suppose it makes any particular difference,
though."

"I guess not."

Frank became silent and gave his undivided attention to keeping the
German plane ahead of him in sight.

And in this manner they proceeded for perhaps another half hour.

Then the machine ahead of Frank veered sharply to the south. Frank
brought the head of his own craft in the same direction and the flight
continued.

"Headed for the Belgian or French coast, apparently," said Jack to
himself. "Wonder what the idea is?"

Now the craft ahead of that in which the two boys rode reduced its
speed abruptly. Frank cut down the gait of his own craft and they
continued on their way more slowly.

"Nearing our destination, wherever that is," muttered Jack.

The lad felt of his revolvers to make sure that they were ready in case
of an emergency.

"Land ahead," said Frank, suddenly.

Jack gazed straight before him. There, what appeared to be many miles
away, though in reality it was but a few, was a dark blur below.
Occasionally what appeared to be little stars twinkled there. Jack knew
they were the lights of some town.

"Guess that's where we are headed for, all right," he told himself.

Behind the British hydroplane the other German airships came rapidly,
keeping some distance apart, however. Jack leaned close to Frank.

"Just do as the ones ahead of you do," he said quietly. "I don't know
where we are nor what is likely to happen. Keep your nerve and we'll be
all right."

"Don't worry about me," responded Frank. "I'm having the time of my
life."

Jack smiled to himself, for he knew that Frank was telling the truth.
There was nothing the lad liked better than to be engaged in a
dangerous piece of work and more than once his fondness for excitement
had almost ended disastrously.

"Frank's all right if he can just keep his head," muttered Jack. "I'm
likely to have to hold him in check a bit, though."

They had approached the shore close enough now to perceive that the
distant lights betokened a large town.

"Probably Ostend," Jack told himself, "though why they should come this
way is too deep for me."

But Jack was wrong, as he learned a short time later.

The town that they now were approaching was the French port of Calais
and it was still held by the French despite determined efforts of the
Germans at one time or another to extend their lines that far. The
capture of Calais by the Germans would have been a severe blow to
England, for with the French seaport in their possession, the Germans,
with their great guns, would have been able to command the English
channel and a considerable portion of the North Sea coast.

When it appeared that the German aircraft would fly directly over the
city, the leading machine suddenly swerved to the east. The others
followed suit.

The night was very dark, and in spite of the occasional searchlight
that was flashed into the air by the French in Calais, the Teuton
machines so far had been undiscovered. Now, hanging low over the land,
a sudden bombardment broke out from the German air planes.

It was not the sound of bombs that came to the lads' ears; rather the
sharp "crack! crack!" of revolver firing. Jack and Frank gazed about
them quickly, for they believed, for the moment, that the Germans had
encountered a squadron of French airships.

But there was no other machine in sight save the German craft.

"What in the world is the meaning of this?" Frank asked of Jack.

"Don't know," returned the lad, "but I guess I'd better join in."

He drew his revolver and fired several shots in the air.

"Seems to be expected of us," he said. "We don't want to disappoint
them."

The German aircraft now headed straight for the city of Calais. Frank
sent his machine speeding in the same direction. Then, just as it
appeared they would fly directly above the city, the first German craft
began to descend. The others did likewise and a moment or so later they
all came to earth in the center of what Frank and Jack could see was a
small army camp; and as they alighted from their machines, the lads saw
that it was an Allied camp and not a German.

"Must be Calais," said Frank to Jack in a whisper. "Have we been
mistaken? Are these French and British machines?"

"Well, it looks like it," returned Jack. "We'll keep quiet and let the
other fellows do the talking."

A French officer now approached the pilot of the first aircraft.

"We heard the firing aloft a moment ago," he said. "Did you encounter
the enemy?"

"We were pursued all the way from the German lines," was the reply.

"Anyone hit?"

"I think not, though I believe we accounted for one or two of the
enemy."

"Good. Will you fly again tonight?"

"Yes; but not before midnight."

The French officer withdrew.

At this one of the aviators raised a hand and the others gathered about
him, Frank and Jack with them. All wore khaki clothing and their
features were concealed by heavy goggles.

"Careful," whispered the aviator. "A false move and we are discovered.
Spread out now and see what you can learn. Gather here at midnight."

He waved a hand and the Germans, for such Jack and Frank now knew them
to be, separated. When the two lads were alone a moment later, Jack
said:

"Well, this is what I call a piece of nervy business. What shall we do?
Inform the French commander immediately?"

"No. I have a better plan that that. They can hardly work any mischief
tonight. What information they learn will avail them naught for we can
warn the French commander later. We must find out what they are up to.
We'll stick close and follow them back to the German lines, if
necessary."

"Good, then! Guess we had better do a little skirmishing about. It will
keep suspicion from us should we be watched."

"All right," said Frank. "Come on."



CHAPTER VIII

A STARTLING DISCOVERY


With the coming of midnight Frank and Jack returned to the spot where
the aeroplanes had been parked. Several of the German aviators already
had returned. The man who appeared to be the leader announced that they
would await the arrival of the others before taking to the air.

The others arrived one at a time until all were present but two. The
machines were in readiness to ascend the moment the missing men
arrived. The aviators were at their posts.

Suddenly there came a shout. A moment later the two German aviators who
were delaying the departure burst into sight at a dead run.

"Quick!" called one. "We are discovered!"

Immediately the others--Frank and Jack among them--leaped into their
machines and soared into the air. The last comers also leaped for their
craft and succeeded in getting above ground just as rifles began to
crack in the French camp.

Came a sudden cry from the machine nearest that of Frank and Jack. The
lads saw a man rise to his feet, throw up his arms and pitch, head
foremost, toward the ground. The aircraft, freed of a guiding hand,
rocked a moment crazily and then turned over, hurling its other
occupant into space.

There was a cry of anger from aboard some of the other German craft,
but no man raised a hand to stay the flight of his car. It would have
been suicide and the Germans realized it. They sped away into the
darkness whence they had come. Frank and Jack, in their British
hydroplane, went with them.

For an hour or two the aeroplanes sped through the darkness at
undiminished speed; then the foremost craft slowed down. The others did
likewise.

"Surely we haven't reached the German lines already?" said Jack. Frank
shrugged his shoulders.

"You know about as much of what is going on as I do," he returned.
"Evidently we are going down, however."

The lad was right.

The leading German plane swooped toward the earth and the others
followed its example. A few minutes later all had reached the ground
safely and their occupants had alighted.

The two lads glanced around. It was very dark. A short distance to the
north they could see the broad expanse of the North Sea, stretching
away in the night. The dark waves lapped the shore gently with a faint
thrashing sound. The water was very calm.

Except for the figures that had alighted upon the shore in the darkness
there was not a human being in sight. To the south, to the east and
west stretched miles and miles of sand dunes. Just these sand dunes and
the waters of the North Sea--there was nothing else in sight.

At a signal the men gathered around the man who appeared to be the
leader. Frank and Jack thanked their lucky stars that the night was
very dark, for otherwise they would have been in imminent danger of
being discovered; and each lad realized that it would go hard with them
should their true identities be penetrated.

The darkness served them like a shield. Nevertheless, both lads kept
their hands on their revolvers. Each had determined that if discovered,
he would make an effort to escape in the nearest of the aircraft. Each
knew that there was little hope of such an escape, but, realizing what
was in store for them should they be discovered and captured, they had
decided it would be better to die fighting than to be stood up against
a wall and shot, or, possibly, hanged.

The group of men on the bench became silent as the leader addressed
them.

"Men," he said, "it is to be regretted that we have discovered so soon.
There was still work to be done before the hour for our great effort to
crush the British fleet. However, to a certain extent we have been
successful. We have managed to sow the seed of suspicion in the minds
of our enemies. Prisoners, whom we have allowed to be taken, have let
slip words that will lead the British to think our fleet will slip from
its base and approach England from the south. We know better than that.
We know that on the night of May 31--which is tomorrow--our fleet will
strike the British off Jutland."

There was a subdued cheer from the assembled Germans. The speaker
continued:

"Through our efforts the British fleet has been scattered. The main
portion of the fleet lies to the south and will be unable to reach
Jutland in time to save the portion of the British fleet there from
destruction. Of course, should wind of the move reach the British there
would still be time for the fleet to gather. But no such word will
reach the enemy. After sinking the first section of the British fleet,
our vessels will steam south and meet the main British fleet. The
numbers will be nearer equal then. We shall be victorious."

Again there was a subdued cheer, in which Frank and Jack joined for the
sake of appearances. Again the speaker continued:

"I shall now explain the reason we have landed here. Our part in the
work has been done. Here we shall remain until nightfall tomorrow. We
shall then sail north and take part in the battle. In my pocket here,"
he tapped the breast of his coat, "are instructions I shall read to you
before we leave. Until that time we shall rest here, for we have done
work enough for the present. We shall be safe here. Our position now is
directly between two French lines and for that reason we shall not be
disturbed. Of course, if it becomes necessary, we can take to our
machines and get out of harm's way. We have provisions and water enough
to last us; and while the weather is warm, it is still cool enough. At
any rate, we shall have to make the best of it."

The man ceased speaking and beckoned the others to follow him. He
walked a hundred yards to the east. There he made a mark in the sand
with his foot.

"Until the time for us to move has come," he said, "let no man set foot
beyond that line. I make this rule for safety's sake."

He walked two hundred yards from the sea itself and repeated the
operation and instructions; and then to the west.

"Within these bounds," he said, "we will spend tonight and tomorrow.
The man who disobeys these instructions shall be shot. Do I make myself
plain?"

There was a murmur of assent.

"Very well," said the leader. "Now you are all left to your own
devices. First, however, I shall pick the watches for the night."

Frank and Jack, at this, slunk well back into the crowd, for they did
not wish to be scrutinized closely. But they need have had no fear. The
leader of the Germans laid a hand on the shoulders of the two men
nearest him.

"You two," he said, "shall stand guard the remainder of the night, one
to the southeast and one to the southwest. But do not venture beyond
the boundaries I have laid down."

The Germans saluted and moved away.

The leader moved toward the sea and none of the others followed him.
Instead, some walked a short distance to the east, others to the south
and still others to the west. They threw themselves down in the sand. A
few remained near the airships.

Frank and Jack walked a short distance toward the sea, but kept some
distance behind the German leader, who stood looking off across the
water, apparently deep in thought. The lads sat down upon the ground.

"Well," said Frank, "what are we going to do about it?"

"Do!" echoed Jack. "Why, there is only one thing we can do--one thing
we must do! We must get away from here and warn the fleet!"

"All right," said Frank, "it sounds easy; but how?"

"Well, that doesn't make any difference. We've got to do it."

"And the moment we have gone our absence will be discovered, the
Germans will know the fleet has been warned and the attack will be
given up," said Frank. "And we don't want anything like that to happen.
It will be the first time the Germans have mustered up courage enough
to come out and give battle. We don't want to frighten them off."

"We don't want to let them sneak up on a part of our fleet unguarded,
either," declared Jack.

"Of course not. You say we must give the warning. We'll try, of course.
But first, why not let's put all the aeroplanes except the one we want
out of commission?"

"By Jove! a good plan! We'll do it."

"Exactly," said Frank. "Then there is still another thing."

"What is that?"

"Why, we want the instructions that fellow carries," and Frank waved a
hand in the direction of the German leader. "He was kind enough to let
us know he has them. We'll have to take them away from him."

"Say!" exclaimed Jack, "you've laid out quite a job for us, haven't
you?"

"It's got to be done," declared Frank.

"Well, all right, but we shall have to be careful."

"Right you are," Frank agreed, "one little slip and the whole thing
will be spoiled."

"Then there must be no slip," said Jack, quietly

"I agree with you there. Now the question arise? as how the thing may
best be done."

"We'll have to wait until they're all asleep," said Jack.

"You forget the sentinels won't sleep," said Frank.

"No, I don't; and they will be the first disposed of. They are not
looking for enemies from within, you know. You walk up to one and I'll
walk up to the other. We'll be challenged when we get close, of course.
Then it will be up to us to silence those fellows before they can make
an outcry."

"We'll try it. Then what?"

"Then we'll come back and put the airships out of commission as
carefully as possible."

"That's easy enough. All we have to do is to let out the 'gas.'"

"Next we'll have to go through the commander's pockets without arousing
him."

"That's more difficult, but I suppose it can be done."

"Next we'll have to get our hydroplane to the water. Fortunately, we
came down closer to the sea than the others. We should be able to do
that without awakening the sleepers."

"Then," said Frank, "we climb in and say goodbye, eh?"

"That's it."

"All right. We'll work it that way then. It's as good as any other. Now
we'll keep quiet until we are sure everyone is asleep."

Their plans thus arranged, the lads became quiet. They said not a word
as they waited for sleep to overcome the Germans, but gazed out quietly
over the dark sea.



CHAPTER IX

THE PLAN WORKS--ALMOST


"Time to get busy."

It was Frank who spoke. All was quiet among the sand dunes. The
commander of the Germans had laid down upon the ground, some distance
from the others, half an hour before. Snores from various points
announced that most of the men were sleeping soundly.

Jack and Frank got to their feet

"Careful," said Jack as they separated. "Remember, don't give your man
a chance to let out a cry."

Frank nodded in the darkness and walked slowly toward the sentinel he
had selected to silence. Jack moved in the other direction.

As Jack came within a few yards of his prey, the man raised his rifle
and commanded:

"Halt!"

"It's all right," said Jack. "I couldn't sleep and it was lonesome back
there. I want company."

The German lowered his rifle.

"It's lonesome here, too," he said. "Wish you had been selected for my
job."

"I wouldn't have minded it tonight," said Jack, approaching closer.

The German reached in his pocket and produced a pack of cigarettes. He
extended the pack to Jack.

"Have one?" he invited.

Jack accepted a cigarette.

The German produced a match. He laid his rifle upon the ground as he
struck the match upon the leg of his trousers.

It was the moment for which Jack had been waiting.

Quickly his revolver leaped out. In almost the same instant he reversed
it and before the German realized what was about to happen he brought
the butt down on the man's head with great force.

The man fell to the ground without a sound.

Frank, advancing upon the other German, also was challenged when he
drew close, but he, too, engaged his prey in conversation. As the man
turned his head for a moment to gaze across the dark sand, the lad
struck him violently over the head with his revolver butt. The German
dropped like a log.

A few moments later Frank and Jack met again near the first aeroplane.

"It'll have to be quick work here," Jack warned "We haven't a whole lot
of time, you know."

Frank nodded that he understood. Rapidly they passed from one plane to
another letting out the gasoline. Five minutes later, with the
exception of their hydroplane, which rested some distance away, every
craft upon the beach was dry. They were absolutely useless--or so the
lads thought.

"Now for the papers," said Jack, as he straightened up after tinkering
with the last machine.

Cautiously the two lads advanced upon the sleeping German. Frank raised
his revolver and would have brought it down on the man's head had not
Jack stayed him with a gesture.

"No need of that," he said. "I don't like to hurt a man except when it
is absolutely necessary."

Frank put the revolver back in his pocket.

Gently, Jack thrust his hand into the German's pocket. He fumbled about
a moment and then drew forth a paper. Turning his head aside he struck
a match and glanced at the paper. Then he nodded his satisfaction.

"This is it," he said.

Frank, at that moment, had risen to his feet. Believing the work was
accomplished, he was moving off toward the hydroplane. As Jack now made
to get to his feet, he chanced to glance at the German he had just
relieved of the papers.

The lad uttered an exclamation of surprise, and no wonder. The man's
eyes were open and gazed straight at Jack. In his hand he held a
revolver and it was levelled at Jack's head.

"Hands up!" said the German, quietly.

There was nothing for Jack to do but obey or be shot. His hands went
high in the air, but he still retained the valuable papers.

"Drop those papers," was the next command.

Jack obeyed and the papers fluttered to his feet. The German reached
out and picked them up with his left hand while with his right he still
covered the lad with his revolver.

"So you're a spy, eh?" said the German.

Jack made no reply, but a gleam of hope lighted up his eye; for, Frank,
chancing to turn for some unexplainable reason, had taken in the
situation and was now advancing on tiptoe to his friend's aid.

"How did you get here?" demanded the German, making ready to rise.

Again Jack made no reply; but none was necessary, for at that moment
Frank had come within striking distance. His arm rose and fell, and as
his revolver butt descended upon the German's head, the latter toppled
over in a heap.

Quickly, Jack stooped and again recovered the papers he had taken so
much pains to get.

"Come on!" cried Frank. "We haven't time to fool around here. The rest
of this crowd is likely to wake up in a minute or two."

Jack followed his friend across the sand. They laid hold of the
hydroplane and rolled it toward the water. In it went with a splash and
Frank cried:

"Climb aboard quickly!"

Jack needed no urging and a moment later the two boys were ready for
flight. And then, suddenly, there was the crack of a revolver behind
them and a bullet flew close to Jack's ear.

The German leader had recovered consciousness, and springing to his
feet, dashed to the water's edge and fired point blank at the machine.
Fortunately, in his excitement his aim was poor and he missed. Before
he could fire again, Frank wheeled about and his revolver spoke
sharply.

The German threw up his arms, and with a gasp, pitched headlong into
the sea.

But the sounds of the two shots had aroused the sleeping camp. Wild
cries came from the shore, followed by heavy footfalls as the Germans
rushed toward the water.

"Hurry, Frank!" cried Jack.

As lightly as a fairy the hydroplane skimmed over the water; then went
soaring in the air. Frank gave a loud cheer.

"Safe!" he exclaimed.

But the lad was wrong.

From on shore came a chorus of angry cries and imprecations. Hastily
the Germans made a rush for their aeroplanes to give chase. None would
move. Followed more cries and angry shouts.

"Wait," said one German. "I've some gasoline."

Rapidly he opened up a big can, which he took from the bottom of his
machine. Quickly the tank was filled and the man climbed into the
pilot's seat. Another jumped in with him.

"Give us some of that gasoline!" cried another.

The German shook his head.

"Not enough," he replied. "We'll overtake those fellows and then come
back for the rest of you."

The aeroplane leaped skyward and started in pursuit of Frank and Jack.

The two boys, believing that they were safe, were going along only at a
fair rate of speed when Jack's keen ears caught the sound of the
pursuing machine.

"They're after us, Frank!" he called.

"Impossible!" replied Frank. "How can they fly without gas?"

"Well, they're coming, all the same," declared Jack.

He produced his two revolvers and examined them carefully.

"You run this thing and I'll do what fighting is necessary," he said.
"Wish I could shoot like you can; but I can't; and I can't run this
machine either."

The German aeroplane was gaining steadily.

"He can outrun us," said Frank, quietly. "There is only one, thank
goodness. You'll have to bring him down, Jack."

"I'll try," was Jack's reply. "If I had a rifle I might be able to pick
him off now."

"Well, he won't hardly have any the best of it," said Frank. "The
chances are he has no rifle either."

Frank was correct in this surmise.

Rapidly the German aircraft gained.

"Crack!" the German had fired the first shot.

It went wild. Jack fired, but with no better result.

"Hit anything?" asked Frank, without turning his head.

"No," said Jack, "but neither did the other fellow."

"Try it again," said Frank.

Jack did so; but again the bullet went wild. All this time the two
craft were flying straight out to sea.

Once more the German fired and Jack felt something whizz overhead.

"This is getting too close," the lad muttered to himself. Then he
called to Frank.

"Slow down, quick!"

Frank had no means of telling what plan Jack had in mind, but he did
not hesitate. The hydroplane slowed down with a jerk.

The pilot of the German craft was caught off his guard. He dashed upon
the hydroplane. But as he neared it he swerved to the left to avoid a
collision. It was what Jack had expected. Standing up in his precarious
position, Jack took a snap shot at the pilot as the German craft swept
by.

At that close distance, in spite of the rate of speed at which the
enemy was travelling, a miss was practically impossible.

The German machine swayed crazily from one side to the other; then
dived.

"I got him, Frank!" shouted Jack.

Both lads gazed over the side at the falling enemy.

Suddenly the machine righted and descended more slowly.

"By Jove! a cool customer," said Frank. "He's regained control of the
plane. He'll be up again in a moment."

Again they watched the foe carefully.

"No, he won't," said Jack, "he's still going down."

"Then we may as well be moving," said Frank.

"Hold on!" shouted Jack. "We can't leave those fellows there. They may
get to shore or be picked up. Then they would give the warning and all
our efforts would be for naught."

"Right," said Frank. "We'll go down after them."

The hydroplane descended slowly.



CHAPTER X

THE FIGHT ON THE WATER


Below, the fallen aeroplane rested upon the surface of the sea. In the
darkness, it was hard for the lads to tell just how badly the craft was
damaged and whether it would float; but Jack's idea was to be on the
safe side.

While still some distance from the water, there was a shot from below.

"Hello!" said Jack. "They're alive and kicking, all right. Wonder if we
can't go down and get them from the water."

"It's a better plan, I guess," said Frank. "We'll have an even break
then. This way they have all the advantage."

He opened up the engine and the hydroplane ran some distance from the
position of the men below. Then he shut off the motor and allowed the
plane to glide down to the sea.

With the craft riding the swell of the waves, Jack picked up the enemy
with his night glass. The disabled craft also was riding the waves
gently perhaps five hundred yards away.

Jack gave the position to Frank, and the hydroplane approached the foe
slowly. Within a range that would make accurate revolver shooting
possible, the hydroplane came to a halt. As it did so there was the
sound of a revolver shot from across the water and something whizzed
overhead.

"Must have some pretty fair shooters over there," said Frank, quietly.
"However, they can't see us any better than we can see them. Of course,
they can see our craft all right, the same as we can see theirs, but
they can't spot us."

"No; nor we can't spot them, which makes it worse," said Jack.

"We'll try a couple of shots for luck," said Frank.

He raised his revolver and fired quickly twice. His efforts were
rewarded by a scream, apparently of pain.

"Must have hit one of them," he said grimly.

Again a revolver across the water flashed and the two lads heard a
bullet whistle by.

Jack fired but without result and then Frank fired again.

There was another scream.

"Either got the other one, or the same one again," said Frank.

They waited some moments in silence, but no further shots came from
the foe.

"By Jove!" said Jack, "you must have got them both. Let's go and have a
look."

 Slowly, Frank started the hydroplane and they bore down on the enemy.
Now they were two hundred, then one hundred yards away.

"Must have got them, all right," said Frank. "I----"

The flash of a revolver from the disabled craft interrupted him. It was
closely followed by another and then two more.

With a sudden move, Frank changed the course of the hydroplane. He felt
a sharp pain in his left shoulder.

"Got me," he called to Jack.

The latter was alarmed.

"Where?" he demanded.

"Left shoulder," said Frank, quietly. "Nothing serious, though."

Jack levelled his revolver and fired rapidly at the enemy. His pains
were rewarded by howls of derision.

"They tricked us, all right," said Jack, as he reloaded.

"That's what they did. I should have known better, too. They almost
settled us."

"We've got to get them, some way," declared Jack.

"Show me how, and I'll go along with you," declared Frank.

"Well, I've got a scheme, but I don't know whether it will work or
not."

"Let's hear it."

"All right. But first, can you manage this plane all right with that
bad shoulder?"

"Sure; it's not very bad."

"All right then. Well, you keep under cover about here, moving about
just enough to spoil the aim of the foe. I'll drop over the side and
swim to the enemy. I can get there unobserved, all right, because they
won't be expecting me. I'll pull one of them over and settle with him
first. Then I'll get the other."

"I don't know," Frank considered the plan. "I suppose it might work,
but there is nothing sure about it."

"There's nothing sure about anything," declared Jack. "But it's better
than staying here all the rest of the night. Besides, we must hurry,
you know."

"That's right," agreed Frank. "All right, then. So be it. Will you take
your gun?"

"No use," said Jack. "It would be wet by the time I got there. Here I
go."

"Good luck," Frank called after him.

Gently, Jack lowered himself over the side of the hydroplane, first
divesting himself of his coat and shoes; then struck out for the
disabled aeroplane.

Slowly the lad swam, for he did not wish to betray his coming by the
sound of a splash. The distance was not great and a powerful swimmer,
such as Jack, could cover it easily in a few moments.

Jack did not approach the enemy craft from the front. Giving it a wide
berth, he swam around it and then, turning quickly, bore down upon the
aeroplane more swiftly. He swam with his head barely above the water,
and he was ready to dive immediately should he be sighted.

There was not a sound aboard the aeroplane as Jack drew close to it.
Raising his head slightly, he could see no human form.

"Funny," the lad muttered to himself. "Wonder where they keep
themselves. No wonder we couldn't hit them."

He was within a few feet of the disabled craft and he now rose higher
in the water to get a good look about. Still he saw no one.

Twice around the machine the lad swam and not a human being did he see.

"There is something awfully queer about this," he told himself. "I'll
go aboard."

He laid hands on the aeroplane and scrambled aboard. Quickly he sprang
to his feet, ready to tackle any foe that might have seen him crawl
aboard. Nothing happened.

Jack made a careful inspection of the disabled plane. Then, as he still
gazed around, a sudden thought struck him. Without taking time to
consider it, he sprang suddenly to the side of the plane and leaped
into the water and with swift and powerful strokes struck out for his
own craft.

Jack had hit upon the solution of the desertion of the German
aeroplane.

Even as Jack had lowered himself from the hydroplane and swam across
the water, the Germans in the other craft had done the same thing. Both
sides had struck the same plan almost simultaneously. Jack, in making a
wide detour as he approached the foes' machine, must have passed the
two Germans in the water.

Now, realizing that the Germans must be close to the hydroplane, had
they not already reached it, and remembering that Frank was wounded,
Jack felt a sudden dread steal over him. His long, powerful strokes
sent him through the water at great speed.

But the Germans had not made their presence known to Frank yet. Neither
was as swift a swimmer as Jack, and for that reason, their progress
through the water had been considerably slower. Also they had gone very
cautiously.

A short distance from the hydroplane, one had swum to one side of the
plane and the second to the other. The Germans also had discarded their
revolvers, for they had realized they would be useless after their
trip through the water. Also, not being expert swimmers, they had
wanted to be unhampered by weight as much as possible.

Frank was still guiding the plane about occasionally to avoid a chance
bullet from the enemy, but at the moment the Germans came close, he had
stopped the craft and was peering into the darkness, straining his ears
for the sound of a struggle that would tell him Jack was engaged with
the enemy.

Suddenly a sound came to his ears from across the water, but it was not
what he expected, although it was in Jack's voice:

"Frank! Look out! They are after you!"

Instantly, the lad understood the situation. He drew his revolver with
his uninjured arm and sprang to one side of the aeroplane. As he did
so, a figure reached up and grabbed him by the hand so that he could
not fire. At the same time a second figure clambered aboard the craft
from the opposite side. Frank raised a cry:

"Hurry, Jack!"

Jack needed no urging. He was swimming through the water as fast as
possible.

With a sudden move, Frank jerked his hand loose from the grip that held
him and turned just in time to encounter the second German. Frank
raised his revolver and fired quickly; but the German ducked, and
before Frank could fire again, he had come up close to Frank and
grappled with him. In vain Frank sought to release his arm so that he
could bring the weapon down on his opponent's head. The man clung
tightly.

A sudden lurching of the hydroplane told Frank that the second German
was coming aboard. Unmindful of his wounded shoulder, Frank struggled
on. With a sharp kick of his right foot he succeeded in knocking the
first German's legs from beneath him; and again the lad tried to raise
his revolver to shoot the second German, who now advanced.

But the latter was too quick for him. Closing with the lad, the man
knocked the revolver from the boy's hand with a quick blow. The weapon
spun into the sea.

The first German returned to the attack.

"Get him quick!" he shouted. "There is another one around here some
place."

Jack, at this moment, was within a few yards of the boat.

"You bet there is!" he said between his teeth. "And he'll be there in a
minute."

He did not call encouragement to Frank, for he wished to get aboard the
plane, if possible, before the men could stay him.

The two Germans rushed Frank simultaneously, and bore him back in the
plane. At the same instant, Jack, unmindful of danger that might lurk
aboard and thinking only of Frank's danger, laid hold of the plane and
climbed aboard. Then he stood erect and shouted:

"Come on, you cowards! Here's the other one!"



CHAPTER XI

DAWN--AND A NEW ENEMY


The two Germans, just about to throw Frank overboard, turned quickly at
the sound of this new voice. They wasted no time.

"At him!" cried one, and leaped.

The other sprang after him.

Jack, with his feet wide apart and arms extended, braced himself to
receive the shock; and when it came he was ready. Frank, in the
meantime, sank down in the plane almost unconscious, for one of the
Germans had all but choked the life from him.

As the first German sprang, Jack met him with a straight right hand
blow to the face and the man reeled back. The second, seeing the fate
of his companion, dived for Jack's legs and seized them, pulling the
lad down.

Jack felt out with his left hand and encircled the German's neck. Then
he squeezed. The German gasped for breath as his wind was shut off. His
hand searched his belt and presently flashed aloft with a knife. Jack
saw it. Releasing his hold on the man's throat, he seized the knife arm
with his left hand and twisted sharply, at the same time driving his
right fist into the man's face.

There was a sharp snap and a cry of pain. The knife fell clattering to
the deck of the plane. Jack, very angry, rose to his feet, stooped
over, and picking up the German as though he had been a child, heaved
him overboard.

"So much for you!" he muttered.

He stepped across the body of the second German to Frank's side and
stooped over him. Gently he raised his chum's head to his knee.

Frank's eyelids flickered and directly he opened his eyes.

"How do you feel, old man?" asked Jack.

Frank struggled free from his chum's grip and sat up. He shook his head
once or twice and then rose to his feet.

"I'll be all right in--Look out!" he broke off suddenly.

He dodged. But Jack, not realizing the import of Frank's words,
remained still. He felt something hot sear the lobe of his ear.
Wheeling abruptly, the lad saw the German whom he had first knocked
unconscious facing him with levelled revolver--the weapon was Jack's
own, which he had left behind when he swam to the enemy's aeroplane.

The German faced him with a smile.

"Hands up!" he commanded.

But Jack, with a few drops of blood trickling from his ear, suddenly
became very angry. He objected to being shot at from behind.

"Put down that gun!" he commanded in a cold voice. "Put it down before
I kill you!"

The German was struck by the menace in the lad's tones, and for a
moment he hesitated and the revolver wavered. Then he braced and
brought the weapon up again.

But that moment of hesitation decided the issue. In spite of the fact
that the revolver was pointed right at him, and that only a few feet
away, Jack took a quick step forward.

The German fired. Jack swerved a trifle. The bullet plowed through the
sleeve of his shirt and touched the skin; but that was all.

Again the man's hand tightened on the trigger, but he never fired
again. Jack's powerful left hand seized his wrist and twisted the
revolver from it Then, still grasping the wrist, the lad wheeled on his
heel. The German left the spot where he had been standing as though
pulled by a locomotive. He was lifted high in the air and, as Jack gave
a jerk and then released his hold, the man went sailing through the air
and dropped into the sea with a loud splash.

And at the same moment the intense darkness was shattered. The first
faint streak of dawn showed in the east.

Jack sat down. Frank did likewise.

"That settles that," said Jack, briefly. "Now we had better get away
from here. We haven't any too much time."

Frank, without a word, took his place at the wheel.

"Feel fit?" asked Jack.

Frank nodded, though he felt terribly faint.

"Sure you can make it?" Jack continued.

"Yes," replied Frank.

"Well, I just wanted to know," said Jack, "because here comes a German
torpedo boat."

Frank was startled. He turned in his seat, and there, not a mile and a
half away, was a ship of war. She was flying the German flag and was
making directly for the spot where the British hydroplane rested.

"By George! Won't we ever get out of this?" the lad muttered.

"We won't unless you hurry," said Jack.

"But those two Germans. Won't they be picked up and give the alarm?"

"One of 'em won't," said Jack, grimly, "and I feel pretty safe about
the other, too. Let's get up in the air."

Frank tinkered with the motor and took a firm grip on the wheel. But
the hydroplane did not move.

"Something wrong," said Frank, quietly.

"What?" demanded Jack.

"Something wrong with the motor. It won't work."

Frank had bent over and was examining it carefully.

Came a shot from the German torpedo boat.

"If we don't get out of here pretty quick," said Jack, quietly, "we
won't get out at all."

Frank made no reply, but continued to tinker with the engine.

A second shot from the German torpedo boat. It skimmed the water ahead
of the hydroplane. Jack gazed toward the vessel. As he did so a small
boat put off from the German and headed toward them.

"They're coming after us, Frank," said Jack, "a whole boatload of 'em.
How long will it take you to fix that thing?"

Frank uttered an exclamation of satisfaction.

"I've found it," he cried. "Five minutes," he answered Jack's question.

"Five minutes is liable to be too late," returned Jack, measuring the
distance to the rapidly approaching German boat with his eye. "However,
hurry as much as you can."

Frank did not take his eye from his engine.

"How far away?" he asked as he worked.

"Three quarters of a mile," replied Jack, calmly.

"Lots of time for us, then," said Frank, still working as swiftly as
possible.

"Maybe," replied his chum. "Don't forget they carry pretty fair rifles
with them."

"If we can get started before they shoot, I'll guarantee they don't get
us," returned Frank.

"Well, they'll get us if you keep talking and don't get a move on
there," said Jack. "They're coming like the wind."

"That's just the way I'm working. She's almost fixed row. Can you hold
them off?"

"What, with a single revolver against a score of rifles? Not much.
They're right on us now. How's that engine?"

"Fixed!" cried Frank at that moment, straightening up.

"All right. Let her go then," said Jack, calmly. "They don't know yet
that we're going to run. They have made no preparations to fire.
Evidently they think we shall wait for them."

Even while Jack was speaking, the hydroplane began to move slowly over
the surface of the water. Very slowly it went at first, then faster and
faster.

"Halt!" came a cry from the German boat.

Jack picked up his cap and waved it at the Germans.

"Some other time," he called back. "We're terrible busy today.
Goodbye."

The German officer gave a sharp command. Several sailors sprang to
their feet and blazed away at the hydroplane with their rifles. Bullets
flew by on all sides, but none struck home.

Again Jack waved his cap.

"Very bad shooting," he remarked. "Looks like some of my--Hello! That
wasn't so bad."

For the lad's cap, which he had been waving in derision at the pursuing
foe, was suddenly carried from his hand by a German bullet.

"By Jove!" said Jack, quietly, "I wouldn't have lost that cap----" He
gazed at it as it floated in the water.

And at that instant Frank sent the hydroplane soaring into the air with
a lurch. Jack glanced down into the water.

"Hold on, Frank!" he cried.

In response to this command, Frank slowed down.

"What's the matter now?" he demanded.

"Why, one of our erstwhile German friends has come to life. He was just
about to lay hold of us when you came up in the air. Great Scott! What
do you think of that?"

"What do I think of what?"

"Why, the Germans in the boat have just shot him."

"Shot whom? The German?"

"Yes; they saw him coming after us and evidently thought he was a
friend of ours. Poor fellow! To be shot down by one of his own
countrymen. And so goes the last chance the Germans had of learning
that we have discovered their plans."

"Then it is a good thing for us they shot him."

"For us, yes. But think of the irony of it!"

"Well," said Frank, "I wouldn't like to have shot him, defenseless as
he was; and I didn't want you to. That's why I didn't suggest having a
look for him before we came up."

"I couldn't have done it," returned Jack.

"No; nor I; and yet duty would have demanded it. For with him alive,
there always remained a chance that he would give the warning."

"It just goes to show," said Jack, slowly, "that even fate sometimes
works on the side of the right."

"True."

Unconsciously, Frank had allowed the speed of the hydroplane to
diminish during this conversation, and the crew of the German boat
again had found themselves within range. They had started to abandon
the chase when the plane soared aloft, but when it had slowed down,
they had resumed the pursuit, hoping that something had gone wrong with
the craft.

Several bullets flew about the machine.

"Great Scott! They're at it again!" cried Jack. "Let's get away from
here right now."

"All right, here she goes," said Frank. "Full speed ahead!"



CHAPTER XII

THE BOYS GIVE THE WARNING


One other adventure, it transpired, was to befall Frank and Jack before
they found themselves once more aboard the British battleship, _Queen
Mary_; and while it did not result seriously, both lads once more
approached the very door of death.

The morning sun was well above the horizon when Jack, shading his eyes,
made out in the distance a smudge of smoke.

"Smoke ahead, Frank," he called.

"Hope it's the _Queen Mary_" replied the lad. "It should be if I have
calculated correctly."

A few moments later the outline of a large ship of war loomed up ahead.

"Can you make her out yet?" asked Jack.

"No; but she's built like the _Queen Mary_"

The hydroplane sped on.

"By Jove! She is the _Queen Mary_" cried Frank, a few moments later.
"We're in luck."

Frank was right. As the hydroplane drew nearer it was plain to make out
that the vessel was the giant battleship the lads had quitted the day
before.

"Wonder what Captain Raleigh will think of our information?" said
Frank, with a chuckle.

"Don't know. We've been pretty fortunate, though. I hope we are in
time."

"So do I. The trouble is, our ships are scattered so far apart that
they may not be able to assemble quick enough in sufficient strength to
beat off the enemy."

"Don't worry; they won't get very far," said Jack, confidently.

"Oh, I know that. But if they should happen to come upon a small
portion of our fleet we are likely to get the worst of it."

"Well, there is no reason why they should be able to do that now. We
know their plans."

"That's true, too. And they won't, unless it is decided to engage them
in spite of their numbers, trusting reinforcements will arrive in
time."

And, though the lad had no idea he was making a prophecy, that is just
what actually occurred.

The hydroplane now was less than a quarter of a mile from the _Queen
Mary_ and Frank reduced its speed abruptly. Whether this sudden slowing
down had anything to do with what followed it is hard to tell; but, no
sooner had Frank reduced the speed of the craft, than the plane wabbled
crazily.

"Look out, Jack!" shouted Frank. "She's going down!"

Jack had not realized that there was anything wrong and now he did not
grasp the full significance of Frank's words. What Jack thought Frank
meant was that he was going to glide down to the deck of the
battleship. Frank, however, knew that there was something seriously
wrong with the craft. His first thought had been to jump after crying
out to Jack, but seeing that his friend had not understood, Frank stuck
to his post, trying as well as he knew how to bring the plane to the
sea as gently as possible.

For a moment it seemed that he would succeed, for, as it neared the
water, the plane righted itself. Frank drew a breath of relief. But his
relief was short-lived.

After remaining upon a level keel for one single instant, the
hydroplane turned turtle.

There came a cry of warning from aboard the _Queen Mary_, and even
before the falling boys struck water, boats were lowered over the side,
manned, and dashed to the rescue.

Although Frank had been unable to maintain the plane on an even keel,
his efforts had done some good; for the distance was not so great from
the water when the plane capsized as it would have been but for his
strenuous efforts.

Jack uttered a cry of alarm as he felt himself being hurled into space,
for he had not realized what was about to happen. Frank, on the other
hand, had realized his position full well and no sound escaped him as
he was thrown into the water.

In falling, Jack was thrown clear of the machine, which struck the
water with a great splash. Not so Frank, who, held in by the wheel, was
carried down with the plane. The lad was very close to death at that
moment and he knew it.

He had caught a deep breath as he was drawn under, however, and this
stood him in good stead. Calmly the lad reached for the large
pocketknife he always carried, and with this, under water as he was,
proceeded quietly to cut the sides of the craft sufficiently to allow
him to escape. And in this he was successful.

At last he was free and struck upward as swiftly as possible. When it
seemed that his lungs must burst for want of air, his head suddenly
bobbed upon the surface. He gasped as he inhaled great breaths of the
fresh air. A boat approached at that moment and he was drawn aboard,
where he sank down.

Jack, when he came up from below, had thought first of Frank. Rapidly
he scanned the surface of the sea for some sign of his chum or of the
wreckage. Seeing neither, he knew what had happened. Taking a deep
breath he dived.

It took the lad some time to locate the sinking mass of wreckage below
and when he did come upon it there was no sign of Frank. Jack stayed
below until he could stand it no more; then rose to the surface. There
rough hands seized him and dragged him into a boat.

In vain the lad struggled. He wanted to get loose so he could make
another attempt to rescue his friend.

"Frank!" he cried.

"Be still," said a voice kindly. "Frank is safe in the next boat."

Jack uttered an exclamation of relief and lay still, resting from his
exertions.

And so they came again to the _Queen Mary_ and were lifted aboard.
Frank and Jack clasped hands when they stood on deck and Jack
exclaimed:

"By Jove! I thought it was all over when I couldn't find you down
there."

"I thought it was all over myself for a minute," said Frank. "That's
one time when this old knife of mine helped out. I brought it back with
me."

He displayed the knife and patted it affectionately.

"How do you feel?" asked Jack.

"First rate. And you?"

"Fine. Now we want to see Captain Raleigh."

At this moment the third officer approached.

"Captain Raleigh will receive you the moment you have put on some dry
clothes," said the third officer.

"But we must see him at once," exclaimed Frank.

"Change your clothes first," said the third officer kindly.

"But----" Frank began.

"I have Captain Raleigh's orders for you to report to him the moment
you have changed," said the third officer sharply. "You will hurry, if
you please."

Frank could see that there was no use protesting further. He shrugged
his shoulders and the two boys made their way to their cabin.

"The big chump," said Frank, as he slipped off his wet clothing. "The
whole British navy might be sent to the bottom while we are doing this.
What are a few wet clothes?"

"I guess it was the way we went at it," said Jack. "If we had blurted
out what we knew----"

"To tell the truth, I've a good notion to say nothing about what I
learned," said Frank.

Jack looked at his companion in the greatest surprise.

"Oh, no, you've not," he said at last, as he slipped on a dry shirt.

"Don't you believe I haven't," declared Frank. "I'm mad. I don't like
that way of doing things. Now if it had been Lord Hastings----"

"Well, it wasn't," said Jack. "I'm afraid that's one trouble with us."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Why, simply that he allowed us to get too familiar with him. The
result is we expect it from others, and when they don't treat us that
way we are disappointed."

"That may be it, of course," Frank conceded. "But at the same time, I
didn't like the tone of the third officer just now."

"Perhaps I didn't either," said Jack, "but I've got more sense than to
show it. As a matter of fact, I suppose we should have obeyed without
question."

Frank continued to mumble as he slipped into a dry coat. He picked up
his cap and moved toward the door.

"Ready?" he asked of Jack.

"Almost. How's that shoulder?"

"All right. How's your wound?"

"Just a scratch. Didn't even bleed much." Jack picked up his cap and
also moved toward the door of the cabin. "Guess maybe he'll let us see
Captain Raleigh now," he said. "Come on."

Frank followed his chum.

On deck almost the first person they encountered was the third officer.

"Didn't take you long," he said with a smile.

"That is because we have important news," said Frank.

"Come, then. I'll conduct you to the captain myself," said the third
officer.

Frank and Jack hurried after him.

Captain Raleigh greeted the two lads with a smile, as they stood at
attention before him.

"You are back really sooner than I expected you," he said quietly.
"Have you learned anything?"

"If you please, sir," said Jack, "I shall skip the details until later.
The German high sea fleet will be off the coast of Denmark before
midnight!"

"What's that you say?" he demanded.

"It's true, sir," replied Frank, quietly, stepping forward. "The German
high sea fleet, in almost full strength, will attack our patrol
squadron in the Skagerak, off Jutland, tonight!"

For one moment Captain Raleigh looked at both lads closely. Then he
cried sharply, including all in the cabin with his words:

"Follow me!"

He sprang for the bridge!



CHAPTER XIII

PREPARING FOR BATTLE


"Eleven o'clock!"

Jack returned his watch to his pocket.

"Not much time to gather the fleet together," he said quietly to Frank.

"No," was his chum's reply, "but you can rest assured that all can be
done will be done."

Captain Raleigh, upon the bridge, had issued orders swiftly. The _Queen
Mary_, which had been heading southward after Frank and Jack returned
aboard, was quickly brought about. After several sharp commands to his
officers, Captain Raleigh motioned to Frank and Jack.

"Come with me," he said. "You shall tell me what you have learned as we
go along."

The two lads followed him.

Straight to the wireless room went the commander of the _Queen Mary_.

"Get the _Lion_ quickly," he ordered the wireless operator.

"_Lion! Lion_!" the call went across the water.

There was no reply.

"Try the _Indefatigable_," was the next command.

"_Indefatigable! Indefatigable_!" flashed the wireless.

The receiving apparatus aboard the _Queen Mary_ clicked sharply.

"_Indefatigable_ answering, sir," reported the operator.

"Send this," ordered Captain Raleigh, and passed a slip of paper on
which he had scribbled rapidly to the wireless operator.

The message read as follows:

"German high sea fleet to attack off Jutland tonight. Inform Admiral
Beatty. Relay message. Am steaming for Danish coast to engage enemy.
Information authentic. Follow me!

(Signed) "RALEIGH."

A short pause and again the receiving apparatus on the _Queen Mary_
clicked sharply.

"O.K., sir," said the operator.

"All right," this from Captain Raleigh. "Call the _Invincible._"

Again the wireless began to click. Two minutes later the operator
reported:

"_Invincible_ answering, sir."

"Send the same message," instructed Captain Raleigh.

It might be well to state here that all these messages were sent in
code, for it was probable that a German vessel of some sort might be
within the wireless zone and, if able to read the messages as they
flashed across the sea, would have communicated with the main German
fleet.

One after another now the wireless of the _Queen Mary_ picked up the
battle cruisers _Defense, Black Prince, Warrior_ and the
super-dreadnaught _War-spite,_ all of which chanced to be within range
of the _Queen Mary's_ wireless. The destroyers _Tipperary, Turbulent_
and _Nestore_ also answered the call and were instructed to proceed to
the Skagerak at full speed.

And to each vessel, as it answered, the single word "relay" was
flashed. This meant that Captain Raleigh wanted the word sent to other
vessels of the British fleet not within her own wireless radius. And
the answer to this was invariably the same:

"O.K.!"

Still in the wireless room, Captain Raleigh turned to Frank and Jack
and said:

"Now, I shall be glad to know how you boys learned this information."

Jack explained as briefly as possible. Captain Raleigh interrupted
occasionally as Jack proceeded with his story and when the lad had
concluded, he said quietly:

"You have done well, young sirs. England has much to thank you for."

"But will the others arrive in time, sir?" asked Frank, anxiously.
"That," said Captain Raleigh, "I cannot say. You may be sure that they
will come to our assistance at all possible speed, however."

"But you will not await them there, sir?"

"No; I shall engage the enemy single handed if necessary."

With this Captain Raleigh turned on his heel and would have left the
wireless room. At that moment, however, the wireless began to click
again, and the commander of the _Queen Mary_ paused.

"For us?" he asked.

The operator nodded.

"Admiral Beatty, aboard the _Lion_, calling, sir."

"Take his message!"

There was silence for a moment, and then the operator called off the
clicks of his apparatus.

"Admiral Beatty wants to know your source of information," he reported.

Captain Raleigh dictated a reply.

Again silence for a few moments; and then the operator said:

"The _Queen Mary_ is ordered to the Skagerak under full speed. Hold the
enemy until the arrival of the main fleet. Assistance on the way.
_Indefatigable, Defense_ and _Black Prince_ also steaming for Jutland
to lend a hand. Open the engagement immediately you sight the enemy."

"Sign O.K.," said Captain Raleigh.

The operator obeyed and heard the operator aboard the _Lion_ repeat his
message.

"I guess that is about all we can do," said Captain Raleigh. Again he
turned to leave the room and once more paused at the door.

"Keep your instrument going," he ordered the operator. "Pick up any
ship that may not have heard the message. Come, boys," this last to
Frank and Jack.

The boys followed their commander back to the bridge; thence to his
cabin.

The interchange of messages had taken time, and glancing at his watch
now, Frank saw that it was after one o'clock.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed. "I had no idea we had been in the wireless
room so long."

Back in his cabin, Captain Raleigh seemed to have forgotten the boys'
presence. He was busy for perhaps an hour poring over a mass of charts
and other papers. Frank and Jack stood at attention. They were becoming
uneasy, when Captain Raleigh looked up suddenly.

"Pass the word for the first officer," he instructed.

Jack sprang to obey and in a moment the first officer of the _Queen
Mary_ was in the cabin.

"Shape your course for Jutland proper," ordered Captain Raleigh.

The first officer saluted and obeyed.

"We'll go back to the wireless room," Captain Raleigh informed the two
lads. "I want to keep you boys near me for I may desire to ask a
question at any moment."

The lads followed their commander back to the wireless room.

"Any calls?" he asked the operator.

"One coming now, sir."

"Repeat it as it comes."

"Very well, sir. _Indefatigable_ calling."

"Ask her position."

"Five miles south by southwest, sir."

"Inform Captain Reynolds that we shall slow down and wait for him to
come up with us."

"Very well, sir."

The operator sent the message.

"O.K., sir, signed, 'Reynolds,'" the operator reported a few moments
later.

"Ask her if she has picked up any other vessels."

"Destroyers _Fortune_ and _Shark_, sir," reported the operator a little
later.

"Good. Give Captain Reynolds our position and tell him to keep working
his wireless. Tell him we are likely to need every ship we can bring
up."

"Very well, sir."

The operator sent the message.

"O.K., again, sir," he reported.

Captain Raleigh passed a slip of paper to the operator.

"On this," he said, "are enumerated the ships that should be somewhere
in these waters. Pick up as many of them as you can. As you give the
warnings when answered check them off on the list. If any information
is asked, call me."

"Very well, sir," replied the operator, taking the slip of paper. "No
other instructions, sir?"

"No. Send the same message as you sent to the _Indefatigable_."

Captain Raleigh motioned Frank and Jack to follow him and left the
room.

"I want you two to attend me closely," he informed the lads. "I shall
have lots of leg work that must be done from now until we sight the
enemy and even after that. You shall act as my orderlies tonight and
while the battle lasts."

Frank and Jack were considerably flattered by this. They knew that
Captain Raleigh had been pleased with their work.

They saluted.

"Very well, sir," they exclaimed in a single breath.

"I want one of you to report to the wireless room, room, ready to bring
me any message that may come," instructed Captain Raleigh. "The other
will stay here. You can suit yourselves about your positions."

"I'll go to the wireless room, then, sir," said Frank.

"Very well. Report to me instantly a message is received."

Frank saluted and took his departure. Jack stood at attention in
Captain Raleigh's cabin as the commander of the _Queen Mary_ again
plunged into a mass of charts.

Captain Raleigh sprang to his feet and opened his watch.

"Four o'clock," he said. "We won't reach Skagerak until well after six.
I am in hopes the Germans will not try to pass through before early
morning. We shall be ready for them then."

"How big a fleet have we there now, sir?" asked Jack.

"None, to speak of. Two or three cruisers and a couple of torpedo
boats. I believe we have a submarine or two there also, though I cannot
be sure of that."

"We'll lick 'em, sir," said Jack, enthusiastically.

Captain Raleigh smiled.

"I hope so," he said quietly.

At that moment the first officer called from the bridge.

"Battleship overhauling us fast, sir."

"Probably the _Indefatigable_," said Captain Raleigh.

He went on deck. Jack followed him.



CHAPTER XIV

CHANGED ORDERS


At the same moment Frank came running up.

"_Indefatigable_ reports she has sighted us, sir!"

"Good!" exclaimed Captain Raleigh. "I felt sure it was the
_Indefatigable_. Tell her we shall steam slowly until she comes up with
us."

Frank saluted and returned to the wireless room.

Now Captain Raleigh gave an order to the first officer.

"Have all hands piped to quarters, Mr. MacDonald."

Instantly, all became bustle aboard the _Queen Mary._ Men rushed hither
and thither; but in a moment order was restored out of the seeming
confusion.

Followed by Jack, his first and second officers, Captain Raleigh made
an inspection of the giant battleship.

He addressed the different groups of men as he passed and told them
what was about to transpire.

"It is likely to be a one-sided battle at first," he told the men
quietly, "but I know that none of you will shrink because of that. You
have fought against odds before now. You will not mind doing it again."

The men cheered him.

His tour of inspection completed, Captain Raleigh ordered:

"Let each man be served with a good meal and let them have two hours
sleep--all but the watches."

The necessary orders were given and a short time later the men were
eating heartily. Then they went to their quarters, where some lay down
to sleep while others sat in groups and discussed the impending battle.

Shortly after five o'clock Frank and Jack found themselves alone in
their cabin, having been relieved of duty for an hour.

"It's going to be a great fight, Frank," declared Jack.

"You bet it is. It will be the greatest naval battle of history, if the
bulk of the British fleet comes up in time. Never before has such a
vast array of giant fighting ships as will be engaged in this struggle
contended for supremacy. In total tonnage engaged and in the matter of
armament and complement it will outrival even the victory of Nelson at
Trafalgar and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. And the British, as
always, will win."

"Let us hope so. But, as you and I know, the Germans are no mean
opponents. Considering the fact that, since the outbreak of the war,
they have had little opportunity to practise war tactics on the sea and
practically no chance at all to practise gunnery, the few battles that
have been fought have proven them foemen worthy of the best we have to
offer."

"True," said Frank. "Until reinforcements arrive they will outnumber
us. I don't know how many to one."

"To my mind it is foolish to engage the German fleet with only a few
ships," said Jack. "It won't gain us anything. I believe we should
retreat slowly and draw them on."

"I believe that would be a much better plan. We might engage them at
long range, running slowly before them. Then, when the main fleet came
up, we would take them by surprise."

And even at that moment the same plan was being revolved in the mind of
Vice-Admiral Beatty as, in his flagship, the _Lion_, he steamed swiftly
northward.

By this time the battleship _Indefatigable_ had drawn up almost on even
terms with the _Queen Mary._ The wireless of both ships were busy as
the commanders exchanged greetings and discussed their plans for
battle. A little later, as the _Indefatigable_ drew even closer,
Captain Reynolds of the _Indefatigable_ flashed this message:

"I am coming aboard you."

Half an hour later he came over the side of the _Queen Mary_ and
disappeared with Captain Raleigh in the latter's cabin. Directly an
aide was despatched for Frank and Jack, who made their way to their
commander's quarters.

"So!" exclaimed Captain Reynolds, when his eye fell on Jack, "this lad
is one of the two who gained this important information, eh? Let me
hear your story again, sir."

Jack repeated the account of the adventures he and his friend had had
the night before. Captain Raleigh produced the paper the lads had taken
from the commander of the German air squadron and the two commanders
scanned it together.

"Well, there is one thing in our favor," said Captain Reynolds. "The
Germans will fail to get the air support they are expecting."

"There probably will be other aircraft with the fleet," said Captain
Raleigh.

"Most likely. Probably a Zeppelin or two with them. Fortunate we have
these new anti-aircraft guns aboard. They weren't completed any too
soon. Raleigh, what ships are in the Skagerak now?"

"Only three, I believe. The _Glasgow, Albert_ and the _Victoria_, the
former a battle cruiser and the latter two torpedo boats. If we can
arrive in time there will be five of us. Then, if the _Warspite_, the
_Invincible_ and the cruisers _Defense, Black Prince_ and _Warrior_
come up in time we will be more on even terms."

"Exactly. But the main fleet, farther south, will hardly arrive in time
I am afraid; and, by the way, you are wrong in your calculations. The
_Warspite_ is with the main fleet."

"Is that so? So, then, is the _Edinsburgh_, the _Tiger_, the
_Peerless_, the _Terror_, the _George IV_ and the _Richard_?"

"Yes; those, with a dozen battle cruisers and a score of torpedo boats,
comprise the main fleet. If they arrive in time, the Germans must
either run or be sent to the bottom."

At this moment a message was handed to Captain Raleigh from the
wireless room.

"Change in orders," said the commander briefly, after scanning the
piece of paper. "We are to engage the enemy at long range and seek to
draw him farther into the North Sea. Orders have been sent to the three
ships off Jutland to fall back before the approach of the enemy until
we can join them, if they sight the enemy before we arrive. If not, we
are all to retire slowly. The _Invincible_, three cruisers and half a
dozen torpedo boats will join us soon after dawn. The main fleet cannot
arrive until two hours before noon."

"By Jove, Raleigh!" exclaimed Captain Reynolds, "I am better satisfied
with those orders. There is more chance of success now. It would have
been foolhardy for us to engage the whole German fleet."

"I agree with you."

"Well, I'll get back to my vessel now."

Captain Reynolds arose and extended his hand to his fellow commander.

"In case----" he said simply.

Captain Raleigh gripped the hand. Then he accompanied Captain Reynolds
and saw him over the side.

It was now after 6 o'clock. The German fleet was due off Jutland at
almost any moment. Captain Raleigh and Jack made their way to the
wireless room.

"Get the _Glasgow_," commanded Captain Raleigh of the operator.

"_Glasgow! Glasgow_!" went the call.

"_Glasgow!_" came the reply a few moments later.

This conversation between the two commanders ensued:

"Have you sighted the enemy?" This from the _Queen Mary_.

"No," from the _Glasgow_.

"Have any of your consorts picked up the foe?"

"Not yet."

"You received my earlier instructions?"

"Yes. We are holding our ground until we sight the enemy. Then we shall
retire. How long before you will come up with us?"

"In your present position, two hours. If you fall back, we shall, of
course, be with you sooner. Are you ready for action?"

"Yes; cleared."

"Good. I am giving my men all the rest possible. Goodbye."

"Funny," said Captain Raleigh to Jack, "they should have sighted the
enemy by this time."

"It would seem so, sir," agreed Jack.

"Well, they probably will be in sight by the time we come up with the
_Glasgow_," said Captain Raleigh.

But two hours later, when the _Queen Mary_ and _Indefatigable_ came up
with the other British ships, no enemy had been sighted yet. It was
then almost nine o'clock.

"You are sure you have not miscalculated the time?" Captain Raleigh
asked of Frank and Jack.

"Positive, sir," replied the former. "Besides, you have the document
relating to the attack."

"True enough. The enemy probably has been delayed. Or perhaps they will
await the coming of daylight."

"It would be better if they did, for us, I mean, wouldn't it, sir?"
asked Frank.

"Much better," replied his commander briefly.

"Then let us hope that is what happens."

"But I am afraid it won't happen," said Jack. "If the Germans get this
far safely, they won't wait for us to overtake them."

"No; you're right there," said Captain Raleigh. "The thing that worries
me is that, if they do get by us, they will spread out all over the
sea. They will be able to raid the British coast, may succeed in
running through the English channel, and then we shall have to round
them up all over again. They would scatter over the seven seas."

"Then we've got to lick 'em," declared Frank, grimly.

Captain Raleigh smiled.

"That's the spirit I like to see," he said quietly. "It is the spirit
that has carried the British flag to victory against overwhelming odds
on many occasions."

"But he is not an Englishman, sir," said Jack with a smile.

"What?" exclaimed Captain Raleigh. "Not an Englishman? Then what is
he?"

"American," was Jack's reply.

"Oh, well, it amounts practically to the same thing," declared Captain
Raleigh.

"Next to being an American," said Frank, quietly, "I would be English."

The first officer, Lieutenant MacDonald, burst into the captain's cabin
at this moment.

"Message from the _Glasgow_, sir!" he exclaimed. "German battle
squadron, steaming at twenty knots, sighted five miles off Jutland,
sir!"



CHAPTER XV

THE FIRST GUN


Skagerak, in which the greatest naval battle of history was about to be
fought, is an arm of the North Sea between Norway and Denmark. The
scene of the battle was laid off Jutland and Horn Reef, on the southern
extremity of Denmark.

From the reef of Heligoland, the main German base in the North Sea, to
Jutland, is about one hundred miles as the crow flies. Therefore, it
became evident that the German high sea fleet must have left the
protection of that supposedly impregnable fortress some time before.

That the advance of the German fleet had been well planned was
indicated by the very fact that it could successfully elude the British
cruisers patrolling the entrance to the mine fields that guarded
Heligoland itself. Could a British fleet of any size have got between
the German high sea fleet and Heligoland the menace of the German fleet
would have ended for all time.

At the moment, however, the British warships were scattered over the
North Sea in such a manner as to preclude such an attempt; and the best
Admiral Beatty and Admiral Jellicoe could hope for was to come up with
the German fleet and give battle, preventing, if possible, the escape
of any units of the fleet to other parts of the sea and to drive all
that the British could not sink back to Heligoland.

The German dash of one hundred miles across the North Sea was a bold
venture and one that the British had not believed the Germans would
attempt at that time. British vigilance had been lax or the German
fleet could never have gone so far from its base without discovery; and
this laxity proved costly for the British; and might even have proven
more costly still.

Above the German fleet came a fleet of aircraft, augmented to a great
degree by three powerful Zeppelin balloons. Lying low upon the water
also was a fleet of German submarines.

As the German fleet approached Jutland on the night of May 31, it was
shrouded in darkness. The night was very black and a heavy fog hung
over the sea. The night could not have been better for the attempt,
which would, in all probability have succeeded, had it not been for the
fact that the British had been forewarned.

Forewarned is forearmed; and this fact alone prevented the Germans from
carrying out their designs. It is history that the approach of the
German fleet had been reported to the commander of the British cruiser
_Glasgow_ by an aviator, who had sailed across the dark sea in a
hydroplane. Whether the Germans knew that there were but three British
vessels in the Skagerak cannot be told, but certainly they believed
they were in sufficient strength to force a passage, particularly by a
surprise attack, which they believed the present venture would be.

Therefore, it must have been a great disappointment to the German
admiral when a single big gun boomed in the distance.

This was the voice of the British battleship _Queen Mary,_ which,
taking directions from the _Glasgow's_ aviator, had fired the opening
shot, telling the Germans that their approach had been discovered and
that the passage of the Skagerak would be contested.

Immediately the German fleet slowed down; for the German admiral had no
means of knowing the strength of the British fleet at that point.
Hurried orders flashed back and forth. A few moments later three
aeroplanes, which had been hanging low above the German fleet, dashed
forward.

They had been ordered forth to ascertain the strength of the British.

In almost less time than it takes to tell it they were directly above
the British fleet, which, so far, consisted only of five ships of war--
besides the _Glasgow,_ an armored cruiser, the _Albert_ and _Victoria_,
torpedo boats, being the _Queen Mary_ and _Indefatigable_.

As the Germans approached in the air, a hydroplane ascended from each
of the British ships and British aviators gave chase to the enemy. One,
which had come too close, was brought down; but the other two returned
safely to the shelter of the German fleet, where the British dare not
follow them because of the presence of a superior force of the enemy.

But the German aviators had learned what they had been sent to learn.
They had discovered the strength of the British. Again sharp orders
were flashed from the German flagship.

The fleet came on faster.

Captain Raleigh, because of his seniority, had taken command of the
small British squadron. He had drawn his ships up in a semicircle,
heads pointed to the foe. As his aviators signalled that the Germans
were again advancing, Captain Raleigh gave the command that had been
long eagerly awaited by the men--a command which the commander of the
_Queen Mary_ had delayed giving until the last moment because he
desired to give his men all the rest he could.

"Clear for action!" he thundered.

Jack glanced at his watch and as he did so eight bells struck.

"Midnight!"

The exclamation was wrung from Frank.

"And no aid for at least three hours," said Jack, quietly.

As the lad spoke the fog suddenly lifted and gave to the British a view
of the advancing German fleet.

"Forward turret guns!" cried Captain Raleigh, "Fire at will!"

A terrible salvo burst from the 16-inch guns in the forward turret.

At almost the same moment the leading German ships opened fire.

The first few salvos from each side did no damage, for the range had
not been gauged accurately.

It became apparent now that the German admiral had no intention of
risking all his first line ships in this encounter. Apparently he had
decided that his smaller vessels were fully capable of coping with the
small number of the enemy that was contesting his advance.

From the shelter of the larger ships advanced the battle cruisers. Not
a battleship nor a dreadnaught came forward. But the smaller ships
dashed on swiftly and presently their guns found the range.

A shell burst aboard the _Glasgow's_ bridge, carrying away nearly the
entire superstructure. The captain and his first officer were killed,
and many men were injured as huge splinters flew in all directions.
Under the command of the second officer, the _Glasgow_ fought back.

A shell from her forward turret burst aboard the closest German vessel
and there was a terrific explosion, followed by a series of blasts not
so loud. Came fearful cries from aboard the enemy.

And then the whole sky was lighted up for miles around as the German
ship sprang into a brilliant sheet of flame. For perhaps two minutes it
lighted up the heavens; then there was another violent explosion and
the German cruiser disappeared beneath the water with a hiss like that
of a thousand serpents.

A cheer rose on the air--a loud British cheer.

"One gone," said Frank, quietly.

"Yes, but only one gone," replied Jack.

"Yes, but it's two o'clock now," said Frank, hopefully.

"About time to begin our retreat then," said Jack.

And the order for retreat came a few moments later.

The five British ships--for all were still able to navigate in spite of
the damage that had been inflicted--came about in a broad circle and
headed westward.

Then it was the Germans' time to cheer and they did so with a will. It
was not often that a British battleship had fled before a German ship
or ships and the Germans, since the war opened, had little chance to
cheer such a procedure. But now that they had such a chance, they
cheered their best Apparently, they had lost sight of the fact that the
British were retiring before superior numbers, and that, even in spite
of that and the fact that they now were retreating, they still had the
best of the encounter so far.

For one German cruiser lay at the bottom of the sea.

The British retreat was slow; and, for some unaccountable reason, the
Germans did not press forward as swiftly as they might have done.
Whether they feared a trap, or whether the German admiral had
determined to await the coming of day before disposing of the enemy,
was not apparent. But that he had some plan in mind, every Briton
realized.

"The longer he holds off the better," said Frank.

"Right," agreed Jack. "Of course, we probably could run away from them
if they pressed us too hard, but we wouldn't; and for that reason he
should be able to dispose of us if he came ahead swiftly."

"Wonder why some of these Zeppelins and airships haven't come into
action?" said Frank.

"I don't know. Perhaps the Germans are afraid of losing one of them.
They probably have other uses for them, for, should they break through
here, it is likely they have their plans laid. What time have you?"

"Three thirty," said Frank, after a glance at his watch. "An hour,
almost, till daylight. Do you suppose the others will arrive on time?"

"I hope so. It would be better, of course, if they arrived while it is
yet dark, for then they might come up unseen. But with their arrival we
still will be outnumbered; and, realizing that, the Germans, when the
day breaks, will press the attack harder."

"I guess we will manage to hold them till the main fleet arrives in the
morning," said Frank, hopefully.

"We will have to hold them," declared Jack.

At this moment the lads' attention was directed to the cruiser
_Glasgow_. Already badly damaged, a second German shell had now burst
amidships with a loud explosion.

"And that settles the _Glasgow_," said Jack, sadly.

He was right. Gamely the _Glasgow_ fought back, but it was apparent to
all, in spite of the darkness, that she was settling lower and lower in
the water.

"And we can't rescue the men," said Frank. "Remember the admiralty
orders. No ship in action is to go to the aid of another. It would be
suicide."

"So it would," said Jack. "Poor fellows."

Slowly the _Glasgow_ settled; and for a moment the fire of all the
other vessels--Germans as well as British--lulled a bit. All eyes were
bent on the sinking ship.

A wireless message was flashed from the _Glasgow_ to Captain Raleigh of
the _Queen Mary_.

"Goodbye," it said. "Hold them!"

After that there was no further word from the doomed cruiser.

The searchlights of both fleets played full upon the _Glasgow_ as she
settled lower in the water. She staggered, seemed to make an effort to
hold herself afloat, and then sank suddenly.

The duel of big guns broke out afresh.



CHAPTER XVI

THE BATTLE


Dawn.

With the breaking of the intense darkness what a surprise was in store
for the Germans!

Back of the four remaining British ships that had at first engaged the
Germans, interrupting their dash and holding them in check until the
arrival of a force strong enough to engage the foe more closely, came
now the relief promised by Vice-Admiral Beatty.

Gathered from various parts of the North Sea, they had steamed toward
Jutland, and, arriving there at almost the same time, they had assumed
battle formation in the darkness.

That the British were approaching must have been known by the German
admiral, for their wireless apparatus had been working unceasingly,
telling of their approach, and these signals must have been caught by
the German warships, though, because sent in code, they were
undecipherable. Nor could the enemy tell, by the sound, just how close
the British were.

Captain Raleigh, too, as well as the other British commanders, had
known the other English ships were forming some distance back. Toward
these they now retreated; and just as dawn broke, and the British
sailors obtained their first view of the promised assistance--and
greeted the new arrivals with cheers--the British advanced to the
attack.

The German admiral, taking in the situation, knew that he still
outnumbered the British--that the advantage was still with him. He
determined to give battle. He knew, too, that it was only a question of
time until the main British fleet would approach and he determined to
win the battle before the arrival of new foes. He signalled an advance.

The British fleet was great and powerful--but not so great and powerful
as the German by far. As the _Queen Mary, Indefatigable_ and the two
torpedo boats fell back, still the center of German fire and still
hurling shell, seeking their proper places in the battle line, the
other British vessels came on. And presently the _Queen Mary_ and
others had gained their places in the formation.

Ahead of the larger ships now--the _Queen Mary_, the _Indefatigable_
and the _Invincible,_ advanced the speediest of light cruisers--the
_Defense_, the _Biack Prince_ and the _Warrior_. Behind these, spread
out fan-wise, came the destroyers _Tipperary, Turbulent, Nestore,
Alcaster, Fortune, Sparrow Hawk, Ardent_ and the _Shark_. The _Albert_
and _Victoria_ also had fallen in line, though badly battered by the
effects of the German shells during the night.

Then the three battle cruisers advanced; and as the battle opened, far
back came the battleship _Marlborough_, hurrying to join in the
struggle.

The German fleet advanced to the attack in a broad semi-circle. The
flagship, the _Westphalen_, a dreadnaught of 18,600 tons, was squarely
in the center. To her left was the battleship _Pommern_ and next the
_Freiderich_; to her right the battleships _Wiesbaden_ and _Frauenlob_.
Beyond the battleships to the left were the cruisers _Hindenburg_ and
_Lutzow_, and beyond the battleships to the right the cruisers _Elbing_
and _Essen_. Torpedo boats, more than a score of them, also spread far
on either side.

Directly behind the single dreadnaught and the battleships came a
flotilla of submarines, ready to dash forward at the proper moment and
launch their deadly torpedoes. Overhead, and moving forward, were the
three giant Zeppelins and a flotilla of other aircraft.

Of all the vessels engaged, the _Queen Mary_ was the largest. The
_Marlborough_, advancing rapidly, came next and then the German
dreadnaught _Westphalen_. The British battle cruisers _Indefatigable_
and _Invincible_ were the next most powerful, in the order named, and
the other German vessels were by far superior to the British.

Now, as the battle opened with the greatest fury, another British
vessel was sighted to the westward. It was the _Lion_, the flagship of
Vice-Admiral Beatty, steaming at full speed ahead.

Over the tops of the three British cruisers, light vessels travelled
swiftly toward the enemy, the larger ships opened with their big guns.
The range was found almost with the first salvo and shells began to
drop aboard the enemy.

The British cruiser _Defense_, making straight for the German
dreadnaught _Westphalen_, hurled a shell aboard the German flagship
that burst amidships. There was a terrible explosion and men were
hurled into the water in little pieces. A hole was blown through the
upper deck.

But the _Defense_ paid dearly for this act. The forward guns of the
_Westphalen_ poured a veritable rain of shells upon the British vessel
and in a moment she was wounded unto death.

There was nothing the other vessels of the fleet could do to aid her;
and it was plainly apparent that she must sink. But the British tars
stuck to their guns and they continued to hurl shells into the German
line until the water of the North Sea washed over them.

The _Defense_ was gone.

This left the _Black Prince_ and the _Warrior_ alone before the larger
British vessels and they stood to their work gallantly. The fire of
both cruisers was centered on the German flagship; and it was plain
that if they continued at their work the _Westphalen_ was doomed.

An order was flashed to the German Zeppelins. Two sped forward.

Captain Raleigh of the _Queen Mary_ saw them advancing and the forward
anti-aircraft gun was unloosened. The first Zeppelin, flying low, was
pierced before it had moved forward a hundred yards; and it fell into
the sea between the German battleships, a flaming mass. But the second
came on.

Above the _Black Prince_ the Zeppelin paused. Something dropped through
the air. There was a flash, an explosion and a dense black cloud rolled
across the water. When it had cleared the _Black Prince_ was gone!

The anti-aircraft guns of the _Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_
fired furiously at the Zeppelin; and a few moments later a shot from
the latter struck home. The second Zeppelin fell into the sea. By this
time the _Marlborough_ had drawn up with the _Queen Mary_ and the other
large British ships; and now these advanced majestically.

The first to encounter the weight of their guns was the German
battleship _Pommern_, of 12,900 tons. Raked fore and aft, she was soon
ablaze. Her crew leaped into the sea, almost as one man, following an
explosion in her boiler room; and the water was dark with bobbing
heads.

The _Pommern's_ sister ship, the _Freiderich_, slowed down and gave
assistance in picking up the crew of the former vessel; and while she
was engaged in this work no British gun fired at her.

Gradually the _Marlborough_, the _Queen Mary_, the _Indefatigable_ and
the _Invincible_ drew closer together as they advanced upon the
Germans. Shells burst over them with regularity, but so far none had
reached a vital spot.

The _Queen Mary_ turned all her forward guns on the _Westphalen_ and
raked her fore and aft. In vain the other vessels of the German fleet
sought to detract the _Queen Mary's_ fire. Captain Raleigh had started
out with the intention of disposing of the German flagship and he was
determined not to heed the others until the _Westphalen_ had been sent
to the bottom.

It was no easy task he had set for himself, for he now was the center
of fire of the whole German fleet--almost. A submarine darted forward
to save the _Westphalen_. The quick eye of a British gunner caught it.
He took aim and fired. The submarine disappeared.

With a view to disposing of the enemy immediately, Captain Raleigh
ordered that one of the two forward torpedoes be launched.

There was a hiss as the little tube was released. The distance was so
close now that a miss was impossible. There was an instant of silence,
followed by a terrible rending sound; then a loud blast. The torpedo
had reached the _Westphalen's_ boiler room.

Quickly the German admiral and his officers clambered over the side and
rowed to the _Wiesbaden_, where they were taken on board and the
admiral's flag run up. The _Westphalen_ was abandoned; and she sank a
few moments later.

In the meantime, the British cruiser _Warrior_, of 13,500 tons, had
been sent down by the explosion of a German shell which had reached her
magazine. So rapidly had she settled that not a man of her crew
escaped. Thus had the three light battle cruisers of the British--the
vessels that had shown the way--been disposed of.

At this moment Vice-Admiral Beatty and his flagship, the _Lion_,
entered the battle. The great guns of the flagship roared above the
others and the battleship _Frauenlob_, singled out by her fire, soon
sank.

In spite of the German losses, the British, so far, had had the worst
of the encounter and the German admiral, despite the loss of his
flagship, had no mind to give up the battle. He pushed to closer
quarters.

Now the fighting became more terrific. Shells struck upon all ships
engaged at intervals of a few seconds apart. Frequently loud explosions
were heard above the voices of the great guns; and in most cases these
signified the end of a ship of war.

Among the smaller vessels--the torpedo boats--which had singled each
other out, the execution had been terrible. Dead and wounded strewed
the decks and there was no time for the uninjured to give aid. They
were too busy attending to their guns and manoeuvering their vessels.

But the outcome of an engagement such as this could have but one
result, it seemed. Outnumbered as they were and fighting as bravely as
they knew how, the British were getting the worst of it. Rather than
sacrifice more lives and ships, Vice-Admiral Beatty, on the _Lion_,
gave the signal to retire. He was in hopes that the Germans would
follow and thus fall into the clutches of the main British fleet which
was advancing at full speed and with which Vice-Admiral Beatty had been
in communication by wireless.

The Germans accepted the bait as the British drew off slowly; and as
they advanced more ships steamed up from the east. It was a second
German squadron advancing to the aid of the first.

There was a cry of surprise from the British, for they had not known
that there was a second fleet in such close proximity. These new
vessels evidently were the reserves the German admiral had been
depending upon to turn the tide of battle should his first line ships
not be able to overcome the British.

Seeing apparent victory within his grasp, the German admiral signalled
his fleet to full speed; so the British retreated more rapidly.

Suddenly there was a terrible explosion to the right of the _Queen
Mary_. Frank and Jack, as well as all others on the _Queen Mary_, gazed
in that direction. The battle cruiser _Invincible_ suddenly sprang into
a sheet of flame and parted in half. A German shell had struck her
vitals.

A cry of despair broke from the British as the _Invincible_--the
greatest British ship to suffer so far--dived beneath the waves.



CHAPTER XVII

THE MAIN FLEET ARRIVES


It was by a miracle, it seemed, that the _Queen Mary,_ the
_Indefatigable_, the _Marlborough_ and the _Lion_, now in the front
line, had escaped being struck in their vitals by the German shells
that flew all about. On the _Queen Mary_, dead men and wounded men
strewed the deck. They were being carried below as rapidly as possible,
where the ship's surgeon, with a corps of assistants, was attending to
their wounds.

Frank and Jack had been working like demons. From one part of the ship
to the other they had been running with orders ever since the battle
opened. The heart of each lad was in his throat--not because of fear--
but because the British were getting the worst of the engagement. Never
before had they seen an enemy fleet stand up to a British squadron of
this size and fight. Always before it had been the German policy to
run.

But now they were not only standing up to the British, but were giving
them a bad thrashing. Each lad realized, of course, that the British
were out-numbered and that the weight of guns was in favor of the
enemy; but in spite of this they felt that the enemy should be
defeated. They cast occasional glances to the west, hoping to catch
sight of the main British fleet, which should be drawing near now.

But at nine o'clock there was no smoke on the horizon.

The loss of the _Invincible_ had been a hard blow to the British. As
the others retreated now the Germans pressed them closely. A shot
struck the _Marlborough_ in the forward turret, exploding her guns
there and killing the gun crews. The effect of the explosion was
terrible. Men were hurled high in the air and came down in small
pieces.

Jack, in the forward turret of the _Queen Mary_ a moment later, was
hurled to the deck as a German shell struck one of the guns and blew it
to pieces. The lad escaped the rain of steel that descended a moment
later, but others in the turret were not so fortunate. Fully half the
men there were killed or wounded so badly that they could fight no
more.

Jack sprang to one of the guns himself. It was loaded. Quickly the lad
sighted it upon one of the enemy ships and fired.

He watched the effect of this shot. It was the German cruiser _Elbing_
at which he had aimed. He saw a cloud of missiles ascend from amidships
and knew that the shot had struck home.

Jack forgot all about reporting to Captain Raleigh for further orders,
and as the battle raged, he continued to fire one of the big 16-inch
guns--he and other unwounded British tars.

Frank had not seen his chum for an hour; and chancing to poke his head
into the forward turret, he was surprised to see Jack working like a
Trojan with the members of the gun crew.

"Good work, Jack! Keep it up!" he called.

Jack looked in Frank's direction long enough to wave his hand; then
turned back to his work.

Came a loud British cheer. "What's happened?" demanded Jack of the man
next him, shouting at the top of his voice to make himself heard above
the din of battle.

The man shook his head.

"Don't know," he shouted back, "unless the main fleet has been
sighted."

"We might have sunk one of the enemy," said another.

As a matter of fact, both men were right.

Two German torpedo boats had gone to the bottom almost simultaneously
under well directed British shots; and, far back across the sea, a
flotilla of battleships had been sighted.

Apparently the Germans had not yet sighted the British reinforcements,
for they continued to press their foes hard.

Four British torpedo boats had been sent to the bottom of the sea. They
were the _Tipperary_, the _Turbulent_, the _Nestore_ and the _Shark_.
The others gave slowly before the enemy; and a moment later two of
those sank--the _Sparrow Hawk_ and the _Ardent_.

There now remained facing the entire German fleet the _Lion_, the
_Queen Mary_, the _Indefatigable_, the _Marlborough_ and two torpedo
boats, the _Fortune_ and the _Alcaster_.

But the German losses had been great. The _Westphalen_ had been sunk.
So had the _Pommern_ and the _Freiderich_. The _Frauenlob_ had gone to
the bottom and the _Wiesbaden_, the new flagship, was badly crippled.
As another German torpedo boat sank, the Germans slackened their pace.

The British had a breathing spell.

But the battle was not over yet. The second German squadron had now
approached almost close enough to take a hand in the battle. Apparently
this Was what the German admiral was waiting for before resuming
operations.

It was plainly evident now that the Germans had sighted the approaching
British fleet, but at that distance they were unable to make out its
strength. The German admiral decided to continue the battle if he could
do so with any hope of success.

So, with the second squadron in range, he gave the command to advance
again.

The _Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_ bore the brunt of this next
attack and for half an hour it seemed that it was impossible for the
two ships to live through the rain of shells that fell all about them.
But live they did and they gave as good or better than they received.

The German battleship _Hindenburg_, pierced by half a dozen shells at
almost the same time, staggered back and fell out of line. But the
British had no mercy on her. Shell after shell they poured upon her;
and at last she sank.

The _Wiesbaden_, the German flagship, pressed hotly to the attack.
Although struck in a dozen places and her port side batteries out of
commission, she continued to play on the _Queen Mary_ and the
_Indefatigable_ with her forward turret guns.

As a matter of fact, it was fortunate for the _Queen Mary_ and the
_Indefatigable_ that they had begun to retire; for their forward turret
guns had been silenced and the only pieces that they could now bring
into play were in the turrets aft.

A shell from the German battleship _Lutzow_ exploded on the bridge of
the _Marlborough_. The bridge was carried completely away and the
commander of the ship was killed, as were half a score of other
officers. A second shell struck the _Marlborough_ and carried away her
steering apparatus. Absolutely uncontrollable now, the _Marlborough_
drifted toward the _Lion_, with which she almost collided before the
_Lion_ could get out of the way.

There was nothing that could be done for her until after the battle, at
any rate, and the others left her to her fate. Drifting as she was, the
_Marlborough_ continued her fire; and of a sudden she put a shot aboard
the _Lutzow_ in a vital spot.

The _Lutzow_ blew up with a terrible roar. The crew of the
_Marlborough_ cheered and waved their hands to their companions on the
other British ships.

Apparently this was more than the German admiral had bargained for.
With his whole second squadron intact and the British apparently
helpless, he had thought to crush these few ships before aid should
reach them; and then, if the approaching British were not too
formidable, to offer them battle also.

Now there were only three British ships in line--the _Lion_, the
_Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_--and these were really not fit
nor able to continue the fight.

But the men fought on doggedly. None of the others had thought of
surrender and no such idea entered the head of a single man aboard any
of the British ships. Help was at hand and then the Germans would get
the thrashing of their lives, the men told themselves. They would keep
the Germans busy until this help arrived.

Hardly a man aboard the _Queen Mary_ that had not been wounded. Sweat
poured from their faces, hands and body as they continued to fight
their guns; and as they fought they shouted and yelled encouragement to
one another.

"Boom!"

There was a different tone to this deep voice and every man on board
the hard pressed British ships knew what it meant.

The first ship of the main British fleet had come within range and had
opened with her biggest gun.

Other new voices took up the challenge and within a few moments the
roar of battle was at its height once more.

Still a considerable distance away, the dimensions of the approaching
British fleet now became apparent to the German admiral. He had
thought, at first, that perhaps the newcomers would number a few ships,
attracted by the sounds of battle, but as he looked at the formidable
array now bearing down on him he knew that his plans, whatever they
were, had been frustrated.

"And we had it all planned so carefully," he said between clenched
teeth.

He strode up and down angrily, beating the palm of one hand with a
knotted fist.

"How could they have learned of it?" he cried. "How could they?"

He was very angry. An officer approached him.

"Shall we draw off, sir?" he asked, and pointed to the fresh British
ships bearing down on them.

"No!" thundered the admiral. "Why don't you sink those three ships
ahead of you there? Sink them, I tell you!"

The officer saluted and moved away.

For some moments the German admiral continued to talk to himself in
great anger; then he suddenly cooled down. With a finger he summoned
the officer who had accosted him a moment before. The officer
approached and saluted.

"I forgot myself a moment ago," said the admiral. "You may give the
signal to retire!"

A moment later the big German ships began to come about; and from the
decks of the _Queen Mary_, the _Lion_ and the _Indefatigable_ there
came loud British cheers.

The _Marlborough_, still helpless, poured shell after shell upon the
enemy.

Some distance away still, the British fleet was approaching in an
endeavor to intercept the retreat of the enemy. Captain Raleigh of the
_Queen Mary_ took in the situation at a glance.

"They'll never do it!" he exclaimed.

He determined upon a bold step. He gave command to bring the _Queen
Mary_ about. Then, disabled as his ship was, he started in pursuit of
the enemy.

There was a cheer from the _Indefatigable_, and presently the head of
that vessel also came about She started after the _Queen Mary_!



CHAPTER XVIII

THE SINKING OF THE "QUEEN MARY"


Perceiving this move by two vessels that he believed the same as at the
bottom of, the sea, so far as fighting purposes went, the German
admiral became very angry again.

"A blight on these English!" he exclaimed. "Don't they know when they
are beaten?"

Certainly it seemed not, if the Admiral's version that they were
defeated was correct.

The _Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_ steamed after the enemy at
full speed.

Jack had relinquished his duties in the gun turret to more experienced
hands and had joined Frank on deck. To some extent the forward turret
had been repaired and was now in condition to hurl more shells after
the fleeing enemy.

It was well after noon when the Germans fled; and as the two British
ships followed close on the heels of the enemy--with the main British
fleet still some distance back--one of those deep impenetrable fogs
that often impede progress on the North Sea suddenly descended.

It was indeed a boon to the fleeing Germans, for without its aid, there
is little likelihood that they could have escaped the British fleet,
which had the heels of the enemy. But the fog blotted the foe
completely from the sight of the main British fleet; and even from the
decks of the _Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_, much closer, it was
impossible to make out the whereabouts of the Germans.

The British continued to fire ahead into the fog, but with what result
it was impossible to tell.

The fog became more dense until it was impossible to see ten yards
ahead. Even the great searchlights on the vessels failed to penetrate
the gloom.

"Well, I guess that settles it," said Frank.

"Looks that way," Jack agreed. "These Germans are pretty slippery
customers anyhow. It's impossible to catch them in the dark."

"This fog descended as though it were all made to order for them,"
Frank complained.

"Pretty hard to beat a fellow when the elements are fighting on his
side," Jack admitted. "I imagine Captain Raleigh will give up the chase
now."

But Jack was wrong, though, as it turned out, it would have been a
great deal better for all concerned if the chase had been abandoned at
that point.

After some conversation with Captain Reynolds of the _Indefatigable_ by
wireless, Captain Raleigh announced that the pursuit would be continued
and ordered full speed ahead in the deep darkness.

As the vessel gathered momentum, Frank exclaimed:

"I don't like this. I feel as though something disastrous was about to
happen."

"Another one of those things, eh?" said Jack, grinning in the darkness
that enveloped them.

"What things?"

"I never can remember what you call them. Premonitions, I mean."

"You mean a hunch," said Frank, quietly. "Yes, that's just what I have
--a hunch."

"Take it to Captain Raleigh. Maybe he will give you something for it,"
said his friend.

"This is no joking matter," declared Frank. "I'm not naturally nervous,
as you know, but right now my nerves are on edge."

"Just the after effects of the battle," said Jack, quietly. "You are
all unstrung."

"I'm unstrung, all right," Frank admitted, "but the battle had nothing
to do with it. I tell you something is going to happen."

"Well, what?"

"I don't know."

"It's a poor hunch, unless it will tell you what is going to happen,"
declared Jack.

"Have it your own way," said Frank. "But wait."

"I'm waiting," said Jack, cheerfully.

The _Indefatigable_ also, following Captain Reynold's wireless
conversation with Captain Raleigh, had dashed after the retreating
Germans at full speed.

Gradually, although in the darkness neither their commanders nor anyone
else on board realized it, the _Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_,
dashing ahead at full speed as they were, were drawing closer together
at every turn of the screws.

Frank's forebodings were about to bear fruit.

Now, in the darkness, the vessels were running upon about even terms,
but the bows were both pointed toward an angle that would drive them
together in collision about a mile distant. Although none realized it,
this is what would happen unless the fog lifted suddenly.

But the fog did not lift.

Frank, try as he would could not shake off his spell.

"I tell you." he said again to his chum, "something is going to happen
--and it's going to happen soon."

There was so much force behind Frank's words--the lad seemed in such
deadly earnest--that Jack grew alarmed. He had had some experience with
these premonitions of Frank's.

"What is it?" he asked anxiously.

"I wish I knew," said Frank. "I----"

Came a sudden shout forward; a cry from the bridge. Instinctively,
Frank threw out a hand and grasped Jack by the arm.

Another series of startled cries, the tinkling of a bell in the engine
room; a shock as the engines were reversed--but it was too late.

The two British warships came together with a terrible crash!

So great was the force of the shock that Frank, standing on the far
side, was thrown clear over the rail. But the lad's grasp upon his
chum's arm was so tight that it dragged Jack along with him; and the
two boys fell into the sea together.

Aboard both British ships all was confusion now. With startled cries,
men rushed on deck. Unable to see in the dense fog, they became panic
stricken. While these same men would have faced death bravely in
battle, they were completely bewildered at this moment.

In vain the officers aboard both vessels sought to bring some semblance
of order out of the confusion. Something had gone wrong with the
electric lighting apparatus on both vessels. There was no light. The
fog was as thick as ever. The crews stampeded for the rails, but at the
rails they hesitated, for they did not wish to throw themselves into
the great unknown.

Next came the stampede for life preservers. Men fought over their
possession, whereas, in cooler moments, hardly a man aboard either ship
who would not willingly have given the life preservers to companions.

Had the men thrown themselves into the sea immediately, it is likely
that many of them would have been saved; but their hesitation cost them
dearly.

In vain did the reversed engines of both ships work. The sharp steel
bow of the _Indefatigable_ had become so firmly embedded in the side of
the _Queen Mary_ that it could not be unloosened.

And so the two battleships sank, together in their last moments as they
had been when they had faced almost certain destruction under the
muzzles of the great German guns such a short time before.

Now men from both ships hurled themselves into the sea in an effort to
cheat the waters of their prey. Commanders and officers, however,
realizing that there was no hope of life even in the sea, so swiftly
were the ships sinking, stood calmly on the bridges and awaited the
end. For, they realized, the suction would be so strong when the
vessels took their final plunge, that all those anywhere near in the
water would be drawn under.

Captain Raleigh sent a hail across the water in a loud voice.

"Are you there, Reynolds?"

"Right here, Raleigh," came back the response. "There is no hope here.
How about you?"

"No hope here either," was Captain Raleigh's answer.

"Goodbye, then," shouted Captain Reynolds.

"Goodbye, old man!"

They were the last words spoken by these two old friends, who had been
boys together, schoolmates and bosom companions.

Suddenly the two ships took their final plunge. Men still on board,
those of the crew who had been frightened and had not cast themselves
into the sea, straightened instinctively as they felt the vessels give
beneath them. In the presence of death--when they knew it had arrived--
they were as brave and courageous as in the midst of battle.

So there was silence aboard the _Queen Mary_ and aboard the
_Indefatigable_ as the waves parted for their coming. All on board,
officers and members of the two crews as well, stood calmly, waiting
for the dark waters to close over them.

The two ships made a last desperate effort to resist the call of the
sea. They failed. A moment later they disappeared from sight. No sound
came from the depths.

When Frank and Jack had felt themselves in the water, the latter,
realizing immediately what would happen if the ships sank before they
had put some distance in between them, struck out swiftly toward what
he felt to be the south, giving Frank a hand as he did so.

The latter recovered himself a moment later, however, and gasped.

"I'm all right, Jack. Let me swim for myself."

"All right," said Jack, "but keep close beside me. We'll have to hurry
or we shall be pulled under by the suction when the ships sink."

Keeping close together they swam with powerful strokes.

And so it was that they were out of harm's way when the two ships
disappeared from sight with a deafening roar as the waters closed over
them; they were beyond reach of the suction.

"There they go," said Frank, sadly.

"And it is only a miracle that prevented us from going with them," said
Jack.

"We might as well have gone as to be in the middle of the North Sea,"
said Frank.

"Nonsense. While there's life there's hope."

They swam on.

Suddenly Jack's hand came in contact with something in the darkness.

"A man!" he exclaimed.

"What did you think I was? A fish?" came the reply. "I've a right to
escape as well as you."

"Who are you?" asked Frank.

At that moment, as suddenly as it had descended, the fog lifted.

Jack looked at the other man in the water and uttered an exclamation of
pleasure.

"Harris!" he cried.



CHAPTER XIX

ADRIFT


The great naval battle of Jutland was over.

The British fleet now had given up pursuit of the fleeing Germans and
Vice-Admiral Beatty paused to take stock of his losses; and they were
enormous.

Three great battle cruisers had gone to the bottom--the _Queen Mary_,
of 27,000 tons; the _Indefatigable_, of 18,750 tons, and the
_Invincible_, of 17,250 tons. Cruisers lost included the _Defense_, of
14,600 tons; the _Black Prince_; of 13,550 tons, and the _Warrior_, of
13,550 tons. The giant battle cruiser _Marlborough,_ of 27,500 tons,
had been badly damaged, as had the _Lion_ and other vessels. The
destroyers _Tipperary, Turbulent, Nestore, Alcaster, Fortune, Sparrow
Hawk, Ardent_ and _Shark_ had been sunk. Total losses ran high into the
millions and in the number of men above 7,000.

The German losses had been less, but nevertheless, taking into
consideration damage done to the effectiveness of the two fleets as a
whole, the enemy had sustained the harder blow. The British fleet still
maintained control of the North Sea, while the Germans, because of
their losses, had been deprived of a large part of the fighting
strength of their fleet. The British, in spite of their heavier losses,
would recover more quickly than could the enemy.

The dreadnaught _Westphalen_ was the largest ship lost by the Germans.
It was of 18,600 tons. The three German battleships lost, the
_Pommern_, the _Freiderich_ and the _Frauenlob_, were each of 13,350
tons. Four battle cruisers had been sent to the bottom. They were the
_Elbing_, the _Essen_, the _Lutzow_ and the _Hindenburg_, each of
14,400 tons. The German losses in torpedo destroyers had been
particularly heavy, an even dozen having been sent to the bottom.
Besides this, the enemy had lost three submarines and two Zeppelin
airships, besides a number of smaller aircraft. In men the Germans had
lost slightly less than the British.

And so both British and Germans counted the battle a victory; the
Germans because in total tonnage sunk they had the best of it; the
British, because they held the scene of battle when the fighting was
over and because the enemy had retired.

But, no matter with which side rested the victory, there was no
gainsaying the fact that the battle of Jutland was the greatest naval
struggle of all time.

After giving up pursuit of the enemy, the British withdrew. Damage to
the various vessels was repaired as well as could be done at sea and
the ships in need of a more thorough overhauling steamed for England,
where they would go into dry-dock. The bulk of the British fleet,
however, still in perfect fighting trim, again took up the task of
patrolling the North Sea, that no German vessels might make their
escape from the fortress of Heligoland, for which point the enemy
headed immediately after the battle.

In spite of the severe losses of the Germans, the return of the high
sea fleet to Heligoland was marked by a grand ovation by the civil
population. Various reports were circulated on the island, and all
through Germany for that matter. One report had it that the entire
British fleet had been sent to the bottom; and Berlin, and all Germany,
rejoiced.

But as time passed and the German fleet still remained secure behind
its fortifications, the German people began to realize that the victory
had not been so great as they had been led to believe. They knew they
had been fooled; and they vented their anger in many ways.

Street riots occurred in Berlin and in others of the large cities. The
people demanded to be told the facts. Later they were told, in a
measure, but even then they were denied the whole truth. So conditions
in the central empires grew from bad to worse.

Jack and Frank, struggling in the water where they had been hurled by
the collision of the _Queen Mary_ and the _Indefatigable_, were glad of
the company of Harris, who had bobbed up so suddenly alongside of them
in the darkness.

Harris greeted Jack's exclamation of surprise with a grin.

"Yes; it's me," he replied, discarding his grammar absolutely; "and I'm
glad to see you fellows again. Question is, what are we going to do
now?"

"Well, you know as much about it as I do," declared Jack. "I haven't
any idea how far we are from shore, but I am afraid it is farther than
we can swim."

All three cast their eyes over the water. There was not a spar nor
other piece of wreckage in sight. But Jack made out a few moments
later, some distance to the east, what appeared to be a ship of some
sort. He called the attention of the others to it.

"Suppose we might as well head in that direction, then," declared
Harris.

"Right," agreed Frank.

He struck out vigorously and the others did the same.

It was a long ways to that little speck on the water and the lads knew
that if the vessel were moving away from them they probably would be
lost. But at that distance the vessel seemed to be stationary, so they
did not give up hope.

Half an hour later Frank exclaimed: "We're making headway. Ship must be
standing still."

"Well, I wish it would come this way," declared Harris. "We're still a
long way from safety."

"It's probably a German, anyhow," said Jack, "so if we are rescued it
will be only to be made prisoners."

"That's better than being made shark bait," said Harris; "and, by the
way, speaking of sharks, I have heard that there were many of them in
these waters."

Frank shuddered; for he had a wholesome disgust for the man eaters.

"Hope they don't smell us," he said.

"And so do I," agreed Jack. "We couldn't hope to fight them off, for we
have no arms."

"I've got a knife," said Harris, "but I am afraid I wouldn't know what
to do with it should a shark get after me."

The three became silent, saving all their strength for swimming.

An hour later they had drawn close to the vessel.

"It's a German all right," said Jack, regretfully.

"Any port in a storm," said Harris. "That talk of shark a while back
made me feel sort of squeamish. I want to get out of this water."

They continued to swim toward the ship.

"Wonder what's the matter on board?" exclaimed Frank, suddenly.

They had approached close enough now to see men rushing hurriedly about
the deck. Hoarse commands carried across the water, though the words
were unintelligible to the three swimmers at that distance.

"Something wrong," said Jack, quietly.

"That's what I call hard luck," declared Frank. "Here we think we have
reached a place of safety and something goes wrong."

"Don't cry till you're hurt, youngster," said Harris, quietly. "The
ship is there and we're pretty close to it. Those fellows aboard,
German or English, are bound to lend us a hand."

"I'm not so sure about that," declared Frank.

"Well, I am," said Harris. "The German sailor is all right. It's the
German officer who makes all the trouble. They'll help us if they can."

The three swimmers were a short distance from the ship now.

Jack raised his voice in a shout.

"Help!" he cried in German.

There was no move aboard the German vessel to indicate that the lad's
cry had been heard.

"Told you so," said Frank.

"Don't cry too soon, youngster," said Harris. "We'll try it again, and
all yell together."

They did and this time their cries were heard.

Several men aboard the German vessel stopped their rushing about and
gazed across the sea in the direction of the swimmers. One man produced
a glass and levelled it in their direction. Then he turned to the
others and they could be seen to gesticulate excitedly.

"One wants to save us and the others don't," declared Frank.

For some moments the men continued to argue. One shook his finger in
the faces of the others and pointed in the direction of the swimmers.

"You're all right," declared Frank, speaking of the one man. "Wish I
were there to lend you a hand. But I'm afraid the others are too much
for you."

At this juncture the man who opposed the others produced a revolver and
made an angry gesture. He was ordering the others to the aid of the
three friends in the water.

"By Jove!" said Harris. "He's all right. I'd like to be able to do him
a good turn."

And the chance was to come sooner than he expected.

Apparently the men aboard the German vessel had decided to obey the
order of the man who would save the three swimmers. A boat was lowered
over the side.

Three men stood ready to leap into it. The hopes of the three friends
in the water rose high; but they were shattered a moment later in a
sudden and unexpected manner.

A dull rumbling roar came suddenly across the water. Instantly all
became confusion aboard the German vessel. Officers shouted hoarse
commands and struck out with the flat of their swords as members of the
crew rushed for the rails.

"An explosion!" cried Frank. "Swim back quickly."

The others understood the significance of that strange rumbling aboard
the German vessel as quickly as Frank, and turning rapidly, they struck
out as fast as they could.

An explosion such as that dull roar indicated could have but one result
and the lads knew it. Evidently there had been a fire on board--that
accounted for the strange activities of the men on the ship--and the
flames had reached the vessel's magazine.

A second and a louder roar came now. Men jumped into the sea by the
scores and struck out vigorously that they might not be pulled under by
the suction when the ship sank.

Then there came an explosion even louder than the rest. The great ship
parted in the middle as though cut by a knife. A huge tongue of flame
shot high in the air. Hoarse cries from aboard, screams and frightful
yells. Split in twain, the vessel settled fore and aft.

A second huge tongue of flame leaped into the sky; and then the vessel
disappeared beneath the sea.

Giant waves leaped in the direction taken by Jack, Frank and Harris.
The sea churned angrily about them and the three had all they could do
to keep their heads above water. Then the water calmed down. Frank
looked around and there, not fifty feet away, rolling gently on the
waves, was the small boat so recently lowered over the side of the
German vessel.

With a cry to the others to follow him, Frank turned about and headed
for the boat with powerful strokes.



CHAPTER XX

FRIENDS AND FOES


There was reason for Frank's haste.

Swimming close together and bearing down upon the boat from the
opposite direction--almost as close from their side as Frank was from
his--four German sailors were racing.

They espied Frank and his friends at almost the same moment Frank saw
them. One uttered a cry and the others redoubled their efforts to beat
Frank to the boat.

Jack and Harris took in the situation quickly. It was then that Jack
exerted himself to the utmost. His great, powerful strokes sent him
skimming through the water as lightly as a denizen of the deep. A dozen
strokes and he had passed Frank. A few more only, it seemed, and he
laid hold of the boat and drew himself aboard. Standing erect he looked
around quickly. Then, stepping forward, he picked up an oar. He moved
to the side of the boat where the Germans were approaching and raised
the oar aloft.

"Keep off there!" he cried.

The Germans uttered exclamations of alarm; but they came closer.

"Keep back!" cried Jack, again.

"But you won't let us drown!" exclaimed one of the enemy.

"You stay there until my friends get aboard. Then I'll see what I can
do for you," replied Jack.

With this the Germans were forced to be content; for they realized that
Jack held the upper hand. It would be impossible for them to climb
aboard while the lad stood there brandishing that oar.

Frank laid hold of the boat a moment later and clambered over the side.
Harris was close beside him. Jack called a consultation.

"There is plenty of room for those fellows in here," he said, "but--
shall we let them in?"

"We can't see them drown," said Frank. "Still, there is no telling how
long we shall be here. Is there sufficient water and food to go
around?"

"I'll have a look," said Harris. "Enough for seven of us for about one
drink apiece," he said, after an exploration. "There is no food."

"Well, what shall we do?" said Jack.

"Let them come aboard," said Frank. "We can't see them perish without
raising a hand to help them."

"And yet they would not have helped us a short time ago," said Jack.

"One man would have helped us," said Harris. "Perhaps he is one of
these."

"No, he's not," said Jack. "I would know him in a moment if I saw him.
I obtained a good look at his face."

"Let them in anyhow," said Harris.

"All right," said Jack. He called to the men in the water. "You fellows
climb aboard here, one at a time; and when you get in, remember you are
our prisoners. Any foolishness and we'll pitch you back again."

The Germans offered no protest and climbed into the boat one at a time.

"Sit in the back, there," said Jack.

The men obeyed.

"Now," said Jack, "I'll tell you where we stand. Water is scarce and
there is no food. We shall have to make for shore immediately. I'm in
command of this boat and you will have to obey me. Get out the oars and
row as I tell you."

The Germans grumbled a bit but they obeyed.

"No time to waste," said Jack, briefly. "We'll head south."

He gave the necessary directions and the boat moved off.

"Help!" came a sudden cry from the water.

Jack looked in the direction of this sound. A single head came toward
them, swimming weakly.

"Ship your oars, men," said Jack.

There came a grumble from one of the Germans.

"There is no more room," he declared.

"No," agreed a second. "There is not enough water now. Why should we
let another man in the boat?"

"Stop that!" said Jack, sharply. "Cease rowing!"

The men made no move to obey. Jack stood up in the boat and stepped
forward.

"Did you hear me?" he said quietly, though it was plain to Frank that
he was very angry. "Cease rowing!"

"But----" began the nearest German.

Jack wasted no further time in words. His left arm shot out and he
grasped the nearest German by the coat. Raising him quickly to his
feet, he struck him heavily with his right fist and then released his
hold. The man dropped to the bottom of the boat and lay still.

"Any more?" asked Jack. "Cease rowing!"

The remaining three Germans shipped their oars without a word, although
each bestowed an evil glance upon the lad. Frank, catching the look in
their eyes, muttered to himself:

"They'll bear watching."

"Harris," said Jack. "That man in the water is the one who would have
saved us a short time ago. He seems to be weak. Slip over the side and
lend him a hand, will you?"

Harris did so without question and a moment or two later the German
tumbled into the boat, where he lay panting, blood streaming from an
open wound in his forehead. Harris climbed back in the boat.

"Bandage him up as well as you can and give him a few drops of that
water," said Jack.

For his part, Jack stooped over the German soldier he had so recently
knocked unconscious and raised him to a sitting posture. Reaching over
the side of the boat the lad wet his handkerchief and applied it to the
German's head. Soon the man recovered consciousness.

"A drop of water here, too," said Jack, quietly.

"Say," said Harris. "This water is precious scarce. We'll need it
ourselves."

"But this man must have a little," said Jack. "Pass it along."

Harris did not protest further and Jack allowed the German soldier to
moisten his tongue.

"Now get back to your oars," the lad commanded.

The German did as commanded and soon the little boat was leaping
lightly over the waves.

"Take the helm, Frank," said Jack.

Frank relieved Harris, who had been performing this duty.

"Got your pocket compass, Frank?" asked Jack.

"Yes."

"Keep your course due south, then."

"All right, sir," said Frank, with a smile.

"Harris," said Jack, "I want you to stand guard over these sailors for
a few minutes. I want to have a talk with our latest arrival. I'll be
with you in a few minutes."

Harris stepped forward.

"Ought to have a gun, I suppose," he said.

"I guess not," said Jack. "You and I together should be able to hold
these fellows in check."

"Sure; unless they hit us over the head with an oar when we're not
looking."

"But one of us must always be looking," said Jack, quietly.

"Well, that's not a bad idea. I'll keep my eyes open."

Jack moved to the side of the German who had been the last to get into
the boat. His wound had been bound up as well as possible under the
circumstances and he sat quietly, looking out over the water.

"What vessel was that?" asked Jack.

"_Hanover_" was the reply.

"What was the trouble?"

"Shot pierced our boiler room in the battle. Returning, we were lost
from the main fleet in the fog. Our wireless wouldn't work. Fire broke
out and we were unable to check the flames. When they reached the
magazine she exploded."

"I see," said Jack. "It's fortunate you weren't drawn under with the
ship."

"I was," said the German, briefly.

"What?" exclaimed Jack.

"Yes. I was drawn under. I thought I was done for. But, under the
surface of the sea there was a second explosion. I felt myself flying
up through the water and then I shot into the air. When I came down I
was not far from your boat. I called for help."

"By Jove! you have had an experience few can boast of," said Jack. "I
wouldn't care to go through it."

"Nor I--again," said the German.

"Now," said Jack, "perhaps you can tell me the nearest way to shore."

The German considered.

"I am not a navigator," he said, "I was only a minor officer aboard the
_Hanover_. But I heard the captain say we were almost 100 miles from
the nearest coast line. I am afraid you will not be able to make it in
this boat, if your water is as scarce as you say."

"By Jove!" said Jack, "we've got to make it. We don't want to drown out
here."

"It's not always what we like," said the German officer, sententiously.

"That's true enough," agreed Jack, "but I have a feeling I was not born
to be drowned. We'll find a way out."

"I hope so. However, should you go ashore directly south of here you
would be within German lines and you would be made a prisoner."

"Can't help that," said Jack. "I'd much rather be a live prisoner than
a dead sailor."

The German smiled in spite of his wound, which, it was plain to all,
was giving him great pain.

"Of course," he said, "there is always the possibility of a passing
ship."

"That's what we thought before," said Jack. "When we saw your vessel we
thought we were safe. But you see how it turned out."

"Well, you'll just have to select a course and stick to it," said the
German. "By the way, these men of mine. You are likely to have trouble
with them. In our present situation I do not consider that we are
enemies, so if the worst comes you may count on me to help you."

"Thanks," said Jack. "I shall remember that."

And the trouble was to come sooner than could have been expected.

One of the German soldiers suddenly laid down his oars.

"I want a drink!" he exclaimed. "I'll row no more until I have a
drink!"



CHAPTER XXI

A FIGHT FOR A BOAT


As by a prearranged signal, all four of the Germans threw down their
oars and jumped to their feet. Harris, at that moment, in spite of
Jack's warning, had been gazing across the sea absolutely unconscious
of his surroundings. He was lost in thought.

Frank, at the helm, uttered a cry of warning even as the closest German
leaped for Harris and the latter wheeled quickly. He dodged just as the
man struck out with a knife he had drawn.

"Want to cut me up, do you?" muttered Harris.

In spite of the wabbling of the boat he fell into an attitude of
defense--the old fighting form that had won for him the championship of
the British navy in the squared circle. He didn't advance, for he
wasn't certain of his footing, the boat pitched so, but he felt fully
able to take care of himself.

It was characteristic of him that he made no cry for help. He knew that
Jack must have heard Frank's cry of warning. He knew that he would get
all the assistance it was in Jack's power to give; and he felt that if
Jack were unable for any reason to aid him he must, nevertheless, give
a good account of himself.

When Harris evaded the first blow, the German, caught off his balance,
pitched forward against him. Harris was almost toppled over, but he
threw his left arm around the man's neck and aimed a vicious blow at
him with his right fist.

The German's knife arm, because of Harris' hold, dangled helpless at
his side. In vain he sought to get it in position where he could drive
the point into Harris' body. Harris realized the man's intention. With
a sudden move, he pushed the German from him and struck out as he did
so. The man staggered back, reeled unsteadily and toppled over the side
of the boat with a cry.

The three other Germans rushed Harris at that moment. This time the
British sailor was not caught off his guard, and he held the men at
arm's length for several seconds.

Meanwhile, Jack had leaped forward, crying to Frank as he did so:

"Keep the helm, Frank! We don't want the boat overturned."

Frank obeyed, much as he would have liked to join in the fight.

Jack reached Harris' side and together the two faced the three Germans.

"We've got them, now," said Harris, quietly.

"Men," said Jack, quietly, "unless you return to your oars immediately,
we shall be forced to throw you overboard."

There was a snarl from the three men. Suddenly one dropped to his knees
and seized Harris by the legs. Caught off his guard, the latter fell to
the bottom of the boat and the others leaped on him.

A knife flashed in the hand of one. With a cry, Jack stooped down
quickly and seized the man's wrist even as the point of the weapon
would have been buried in Harris' back. The lad twisted sharply and the
knife went flying into the sea.

"You would, would you!" cried Jack.

He jerked the man to his feet, planted two hard blows on his chin, and
as the man reeled forward clipped him once more. One, two, three
backward steps the man took and then pitched over the side of the boat.

"Two gone!" exclaimed Jack.

But he was wrong. For the first man who had been knocked into the sea
had been revived by the shock of the cold water. Swimming around the
boat unobserved, he had come up behind Frank and now reached up and
grabbed Frank by the coat. With a cry of alarm, the lad toppled into
the water.

Jack heard his friend's cry. Quickly he took in the situation. Harris
had regained his feet and seemed capable of disposing of the two
remaining Germans. With a cry to Harris, Jack leaped over the side.

Some distance away he saw Frank struggling with the German who had
pulled him from the boat and he swam quickly in that direction.

"I'm coming, Frank!" he called. "Hang on to him."

Frank was doing his best, but he had been taken by surprise and the
advantage was with his opponent. The German's hand closed about the
lad's throat and he was slowly choking him. Even as Jack came abreast
of the struggling figures, Frank threw up his hands and the two
disappeared from sight.

Jack, greatly alarmed, dived after them.

Below the surface of the water his hands encountered the struggling
figures. He seized the first his hand came in contact with and struck
upward. Upon the surface again, he found that he had seized hold of
Frank.

Keeping his fingers clenched tightly in Frank's coat--that the lad
might not be drawn under again Jack aimed carefully at the face of the
German, which now was close to him, and struck out with all his
strength.

Instantly, the hand on Frank's throat relaxed and the German sank from
sight.

By the force of the impact as the blow landed Jack knew that the German
would trouble them no more. Supporting Frank with his left arm, he
struck out for the boat with his right.

The German officer leaned over the side and lent a hand in dragging
Frank's limp body over the side. Jack clambered over after him. Then he
took a view of the part of the boat where Harris battled with two of
the enemy.

Both of the latter wielded knives and it was plain to Jack that Harris
hesitated to come to close quarters with them, as he had no assistance
at hand; for he realized that, should he be overcome, the men would
have little trouble of disposing of Frank and Jack, as they tried to
climb back in the boat. But now that Jack was able to come to his
assistance again, Harris made ready for a spring.

Jack saw this move and called:

"Wait a minute, Harris!"

Harris stayed his spring and Jack again advanced to his side. Jack's
face was white and his clothing was dripping water. He was very angry
and his fingers clenched and unclenched.

"You men," he said in a cold voice, "were given a chance for your lives
the same as the rest of us. Now you will either throw down those knives
or die."

One made as if to obey, but the other stopped him.

"Wait!" he cried. "He wants us to throw down our knives so they can
overpower us."

To the other this seemed good reasoning. Both Germans, still wielding
their weapons, drew backward slowly. Jack and Harris advanced as slowly
after them.

"Drop them!" cried Jack, again.

Suddenly one of the Germans sprang forward and aimed a vicious blow at
Jack with his knife. The move had been so unexpected, retreating as the
men had been, that Jack was almost caught off his guard. He sidestepped
quickly, however, and avoided the knife.

But in leaping aside he had jostled Harris, who, dodging a blow aimed
by the second German, now was thrown off his balance. In vain he tried
to catch himself. It was no use. He went over the side of the boat,
uninjured, but for the moment unable to lend Jack a hand.

With two foes before him, Jack realized there was not a moment to be
lost. He determined to take the offensive himself, in spite of the odds
against him.

With a subdued cry of anger, he charged the two Germans, in spite of
the violent rocking of the boat. He caught a stabbing wrist with his
right hand and twisted sharply even as he drove his left fist into the
man's face. There was a cry of pain and the knife clattered to the
bottom of the boat. Again and again the lad struck, paying no attention
to the second man. Then, with an extra vicious blow, he knocked the
German clear of the boat into the sea.

At the same instant, Harris, who was just climbing back into the boat,
uttered a cry of warning and Jack turned just in time to dodge a knife
thrust aimed at him by the second German.

With only a single enemy before him, a smile broke over Jack's face. He
called to Harris.

"Stay back, Harris. I'm going to settle with this man myself."

The German shrank back, and for a moment it seemed that he would throw
down his knife and cry for mercy. But if he had such a thought in his
mind, he discarded it; he sprang at Jack, fiercely.

Again Jack avoided the thrust of the knife and caught the stabbing
wrist in his right hand. Then, bringing all his tremendous strength to
bear, he stooped slightly and jerked with his hand.

The German was pulled clear of the bottom of the boat and ascended into
the air. Then he shot suddenly forward and cleared the boat by a good
five feet.

There was to be one last encounter before the possession of the boat
finally came into the hands of the friends undisputed. One of the
Germans, revived by the water, had come up aft and laid hold of the
boat near where the German officer sat. The latter saw him and shifted
his position just in time to avoid being dragged overboard.

He grew suddenly very angry.

"You murderous dog!" he cried.

Rising to his feet he stooped quickly and seized an oar. Before the man
in the water could realize his purpose, he had brought the oar down
with all his force on the hand that grasped the boat.

With a howl of pain the German released his hold, his fingers shattered
by the force of the blow. Without a word the German officer dropped the
oar and resumed his seat.

Jack and Harris now approached Frank's side and the former bent over
him. Frank was just regaining consciousness. He smiled as Jack asked
him how he felt, and asked:

"Did you lick them all?"

"You bet," returned Jack, then turned to Harris. "I suppose we should
pick up some of those fellows, if we can. We can't see them drown
before our eyes."

"You're too soft hearted for me," declared Harris. "However, whatever
you say."

They gazed into the water. There was no German in sight.

"Be ready to jump in the moment a head appears," said Jack.

Harris nodded and the two stood ready to give aid to the first enemy
that should appear.

Ten minutes they waited--fifteen. No head appeared above the surface of
the water.

"I guess it's no use," said Jack, slowly, at last. "They're gone!"



CHAPTER XXII

PICKED UP BY THE ENEMY


It was dark.

All through the afternoon Jack and Harris had rowed untiringly, but
with the coming of nightfall there was no land in sight.

"Nothing to do but keep pulling in the same direction," said Jack.

Harris nodded.

"All right," he said, "but I'm getting tired. I'll have to rest up for
an hour or so."

"Let me row awhile," said Frank. "One of you fellows can take the
tiller here."

"Feel all right?" asked Jack.

"First rate."

"All right, then," said Jack. "You and Harris change places."

This was done. Then the German officer spoke.

"It's about time for me to take a hand," he said.

"But your wound?" protested Jack.

"Well, it still pains some, to be sure. But the sooner we get to shore
the sooner I will be able to have it looked after. It's better to row
awhile than to remain idle."

"Suit yourself," said Jack. "I am a bit tired. We'll change places."

They did so and the little boat moved on in the darkness.

"Don't know where we are," said Jack to Harris, "but it seems to me we
should raise land with the coming of daylight."

"Well, I hope we do," was Harris' reply. "I'm getting awfully thirsty,
but I hate to cut into that water supply."

"There is a little more for us since we lost our other passengers,"
said Jack. "I'm thirsty myself. We may as well sample that water."

He produced a jug and each took a cooling draught.

"Tastes pretty good," said Harris, smacking his lips.

"You bet," agreed Jack.

He made his way forward and gave Frank and the German officer a drink.

"Enough for a couple of more rounds," he said, shaking the jug and
listening to the splash of the water inside.

"Oh, I guess we've enough," said Harris. "However, it is well to use
it sparingly."

As it turned out they had an ample sufficiency; in fact, more than they
needed.

With the coming of daylight, Frank, who had resumed his place at the
helm a short time before, uttered an exclamation.

"Ship!" he cried.

He pointed off to port.

The others glanced in the direction indicated and then raised a cheer.

There, scarcely more than a mile away and bearing down on them rapidly,
came a German man-o'-war. Already they had been seen, for the vessel
altered its course slightly.

Jack gave a sigh.

"Sorry it's not a British ship," he said.

The German officer was forced to smile.

"And I'm glad it's not," he declared; "for if it were it would be
capture for me instead of you."

"But there are three of us and there is only one of you," protested
Frank.

"Well, it's the fortune of war," said the German.

"The misfortune of war in this case," said Harris.

The German warship was now within hailing distance and a voice called:

"Who are you?"

The German officer acted as spokesman and shouted back:

"German officer and three British."

"We'll lower a boat," was the response.

A few moments later a boat put off from the ship, manned by a dozen
German sailors. Fifteen minutes later the lads found themselves aboard
the German warship, where they were immediately conducted to the cabin
of the commander.

The latter turned to the German officer for an account of what had
happened.

"So these British sailors saved you?" he said. He turned to the three.
"I must thank you in the name of the Emperor," he said, quietly. "Now,
if you will give me your paroles, I shall allow you the freedom of this
vessel."

The three friends glanced at one another and the German commander
smiled.

"I can assure you there is no possibility of escape," he said.

"In that event," said Jack, "we shall give our paroles until we reach
shore."

"That is sufficient. After that you will be in other and safe hands."

The German commander summoned a minor officer, to whom he introduced
the three friends.

"You will see that they are provided with suitable quarters," he said.

The officer saluted and motioned for Jack, Frank and Harris to follow
him. A few moments later the three found themselves installed in
comfortable quarters, where clean linen and dry outer clothing Was laid
out for them.

"You've got to give them credit," said Frank. "They do things up in
style. It seems we are to be well treated."

"No reason why we shouldn't be," declared Jack.

"Wonder where we are bound, anyhow?" said Harris.

"Don't know," said Frank. "I'll try and find out as soon as we can go
on deck--providing they allow us on deck."

"The commander said we would have the freedom of the ship," returned
Harris.

"So he did. Hurry and dress then."

Half an hour later, refreshed by a bath and food, the three made their
way on deck, where they found the young German officer who had escorted
them to their cabin. They approached him and the latter received them
cordially.

"Wonder if you would tell us where we are bound?" asked Frank, with a
smile.

"Certainly," was the reply. "Our destination is Bremen."

"Bremen, eh?" said Jack. "What will they do with us there?"

"Probably turn you over to the military authorities to take care of you
until the end of the war."

"Looks like our fighting days are over," said Harris, sadly.

The young German smiled.

"Seems to me you should be rather glad of that," he returned. "After
your defeat off Jutland you should be willing to cry for peace."

"Defeat!" exclaimed Frank. "Why, the Germans got the worst of it. You
know that."

"Oh, no we didn't," said the young officer. "The greater part of the
British fleet was sent to the bottom. Our losses were insignificant."

"Were you there?" asked Frank.

"Why, no," said the German, "but----"

"Well, we were there," said Frank. "Therefore, we know something about
it. I give you my word that I saw one German dreadnaught, two battle
cruisers and four cruisers sunk with my own eyes. Also I saw half a
dozen destroyers sent to the bottom and two Zeppelins shot down."

"Impossible!" exclaimed the young German officer. "The official report
of the battle gives our losses as two destroyers and a single cruiser,
while the greater part of the British fleet was sunk."

"Where is the German fleet now?" asked Frank.

"Back in Heligoland. Some of the vessels are in need of slight
repairs."

"Why didn't they keep going after that great victory?" Frank wanted to
know.

"Why, I can't say. Probably had orders not to proceed too far
immediately."

"I can tell you why," said Frank.

"I wish you would," said the young officer.

"The reason," replied Frank, "is perfectly simple. It's because the
main British fleet is out there waiting for you fellows. After we
chased your fleet back----"

"But you didn't chase us back. We retired when the battle was won."

"Oh, you retired when the battle was won, eh?"

"Yes; that's what the official report says."

"But it doesn't say who won the battle, does it?" asked Frank, with a
grin, in which his friends were forced to join.

The young officer gazed from one to another, and Frank continued:

"Now, I'll tell you something you don't seem to know. We were pursuing
the German fleet when two of our vessels crashed in the fog. That's how
we happen to be here now."

"But I tell you that is not possible," protested the German.

"It may not have been considered possible," returned Frank, "but it's a
fact, all the same."

"You mean, then, that the official report is not true."

"Well, that's my personal opinion of it," Frank admitted.

"Sir!" exclaimed the young German, drawing himself up suddenly. "You
have insulted the German navy--and me with it. Were it not that you are
our guests aboard this warship, I would demand satisfaction."

"Look here," exclaimed Frank. "I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I
was just telling you the facts in the case. I----"

The young German faced him angrily.

"Your half apology only adds to the insult," he said. "I shall leave
you now."

With this he drew himself up stiffly, turned on his heel and stalked
away. Frank gazed after him amusedly.

"Now what do you think of that?" he exclaimed.

"You should have known you couldn't convince him," said Jack.

The three friends walked along the deck gazing out over the water. Half
an hour later, as they were about to go below, Frank caught sight of a
figure in the uniform of a German lieutenant, who was eyeing them
closely.

There was something familiar about that figure and unconsciously the
lad gave a start. He called Jack's attention to the man, and the
latter, seeing that he was the subject of discussion, quickly withdrew.

"I've seen him some place," said Frank.

"And so have I," Jack declared. "There is some thing strangely familiar
about him. Say! It's unpleasant when you know a man and can't place
him."

"Let's hope he is not some old enemy come back to life," said Frank,
quietly, as they returned to their cabin.



CHAPTER XXIII

AN UNKNOWN FRIEND


Bremen. The greatest of all German shipping centers, and, before the
outbreak of the European war, one of the greatest seaports in the whole
world.

Even on the third day of June, 1916, when the German warship on which
Jack, Frank and Harris were prisoners steamed into Bremen the port was
alive with activity. Great German merchant ships, useless since the war
began, appeared deserted, but other and smaller craft dashed hurriedly
hither and yon.

"Why all the excitement?" was Frank's comment, as the three stood well
forward while the warship steamed through the harbor.

"Several reasons, I guess," said Jack. "One is that half of these small
vessels ply between Bremen and Scandinavian ports in spite of the
British blockade; and the other reason probably is the fact that the
city is celebrating the great naval victory."

"Naval victory?"

"Sure; the battle of Jutland. The German people have been told that the
German fleet won; and now the people are celebrating. See all those
flags? Why else would they be displayed so profusely?"

"Because Germany is at war," said Frank.

"Oh, no they wouldn't. You remember we were in Hanover once while the
war was in progress. You didn't see all those flags about like that."

"I guess you're right."

At that moment a German officer approached the three friends.

"I've something of interest to show you," he said; "something that will
be of interest to all the world presently."

"We shall be glad to see it, whatever it may be," replied Jack,
courteously.

"Look over the side there," said the German, pointing. "Do you see that
long, low shape in the water?"

"Why, yes," said Frank. "Looks like a submarine."

"That's what it is. Can you make out the name?"

The three friends peered at the object closely.

"D-e-u-t-s-c-h-l-a-n-d," Frank spelled it out.

"Yes, the _Deutschland_" replied the German officer; "and, within a
month, the whole world will be talking about her."

"What's she going to do?" asked Frank. "Sink the whole British fleet?"

The German officer smiled.

"No," he replied quietly. "The _Deutschland_ will be the first of a
fleet of merchant submarines to ply between Bremen and the United
States."

"What?" exclaimed Jack, in the utmost surprise. "You mean that
submarine will try and run the English channel and make for the United
States?"

"Exactly."

"But it's impossible," said Frank.

"Not at all," returned the German. "You may remember that German
submarines made their way to the Dardanelles safely. The only
difference will be that the _Deutschland_ will go unarmed. She will
carry a cargo of dyestuffs and other commodities of which the United
States is in need."

"Well, she may try it, but I don't believe she'll get there," said
Harris.

"Nor I," declared Jack.

But Frank wasn't so sure. An American, he had not the strong prejudice
of his two companions.

"It will be a great feat if she can accomplish it," the lad said.

"It will, indeed," said the German, "and she will accomplish it."

"One thing, though," said Frank, "she won't be able to carry a very
valuable cargo. She's too small."

"She'll carry a cargo worth more than $2,000,000," said the German
officer, "and in payment she will bring back gold and securities, and
you may know that Germany is in need of cash."

"By Jove!" exclaimed Frank. "We'll have to admit that you Germans are
progressive. We may not like to admit it, but it's a fact all the
same."

"I thank you," said the German with a low bow.

"Well, we're obliged to you for showing us the _Deutschland_, at all
events," said Jack, "and I want to say that if by any chance she does
reach the United States you may be well proud of her."

"I second that," declared Harris.

Again the German bowed low.

"Now," said Frank, "as we have passed beyond sight of the
_Deutschland_, perhaps you can tell me what is to be done with us?"

"As it happens, I can," was the reply. "I heard the captain inform
Lieutenant von Ludwig that you will be put in his charge. He has
instructions to see you safe in the hands of the military authorities
in Berlin, where most of the captured British and French officers are
being held."

"Pretty tough, Jack," said Frank.

The German officer overheard this remark, although he perhaps did not
catch the exact meaning.

"You will be well treated," he said.

"I've no doubt of that," declared Jack.

The German officer left them.

Jack turned to Frank.

"Say!" he exclaimed, "are you thinking of turning German directly?"

"What's that?" demanded Frank, in surprise.

"I just wondered when you were going to take up the arms for the
Kaiser. The way you have been praising all things German recently, I
don't know what to make of you. The _Deutschland_, for instance."

Frank smiled.

"I just don't happen to be a hard-headed John Bull," he replied.

"Hard headed, am I?" exclaimed Jack. "I've a notion to shake some of
that German sympathy out of you."

"You know I haven't any German sympathies," said Frank. "But I believe
in giving credit where credit is due."

"Well, there is no credit due there. You know that is just some cock
and bull story. The Germans will never dare such a thing."

"I'm not so sure," said Frank, quietly.

"Well, it will never get across the sea if the attempt is made."

"Maybe not, maybe yes," said Frank, with a grin.

"Well----"

What Jack might have replied Frank never learned, for at that moment
another German officer accosted them. He was the man who was so
strangely familiar to Jack and Frank.

"You will be ready to accompany me the moment we dock, sirs," he said.

"All right," Frank agreed. "We'll be ready."

They descended to their cabin where they donned the clothing they had
worn when picked up from the sea. Then they returned on deck.

The great warship now was nearing the dock, backing in. Slowly she drew
close to the pier and then finally her engines ceased. A gangplank was
lowered and men began to disembark.

The officer who was to conduct the three prisoners to Berlin tapped
Jack on the shoulder.

"Whenever you are ready," he said quietly.

"We're ready now," returned Jack.

"Then precede me ashore," was the reply. "By the way, I might as well
advise you that there is no use of attempting to escape. I have my gun
handy and will drop either of you at the first false step."

"Don't worry, we have no intention of trying to escape--not right here
in broad daylight," said Frank.

"Very good. Let us move."

Slowly they made their way down the gang plank and ashore. There a line
of automobiles waited. The officer motioned his prisoners into the
largest of these and gave instructions to the driver. He took a seat
beside Jack.

As the automobile started down the street, Jack glanced at his captor
sharply.

"Surely I have seen you some place before, sir?" the lad said.

The officer shrugged his shoulders.

"Who knows?" he said and became silent.

"Deuced uncommunicative sort of a fellow," said Jack to himself. "But I
know I've come in contact with him some place. It may come to me
later."

The automobile drew up in front of a large stone house and the officer
motioned his prisoners out. He spoke to his chauffeur.

"Keep your gun handy and follow me," he instructed.

The driver nodded and stepped alongside the officer, who motioned the
three friends up the steps ahead of him. Inside he motioned them into a
parlor and then dismissed his chauffeur.

"Now," he said, "I want your promises not to try to escape."

"Sorry, sir, but we can't do that," replied Frank, quietly.

"Come! Don't be fools!" exclaimed their captor, sharply.

He walked to the door and peered out. Then, walking close to Frank and
Jack, he said quietly:

"If you will give me your promises to make no attempt to escape before
tomorrow night, I shall not have you guarded."

Both lads started back in surprise, for the man had spoken in English
and without the trace of an accent.

"Great Scott!" exclaimed Frank. "You must be an Englishman."

The man laid a finger to his lips.

"Sh-h-h!" he warned. "Walls have ears, you know. So you don't know me?"

The lads gazed at him closely.

"I know I have seen you some place," declared Jack.

"So have I," said Frank.

"And to think that they don't know me," said the man, half to himself.
Then he addressed them again.

"I guess it is as well that you have not recognized me, but did I not
know you so well I would not say what I am about to say. That is this.
I am an Englishman and I am here on an important business. Tomorrow
night I shall return to England. Give me your words to remain quiet
here until then, in the meantime not trying to learn my identity, and
you shall all go with me. Is it a bargain?"

Frank looked at the man sharply. Was he fooling them? Well, the lad
decided, they had everything to gain and nothing to lose.

"Very well," the lad said. "You have my promise not to attempt to
escape before tomorrow night."

"And mine," said Jack.

"And mine," declared Harris.

"Very well. Then I shall leave you for the moment."

The man stalked from the room and closed the door behind him.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE BOYS BECOME UNEASY


For some moments after the officer had taken his departure, there was
silence in the room. Then Harris exclaimed:

"Now what do you think of that?"

"Well, I don't hardly know what to think of it," Jack replied. "Frank
took most of the talking on himself. When he gave his parole there was
nothing left for me but to do likewise."

"That's what I thought. Otherwise I wouldn't have given mine," said
Harris.

"It may not be too late to call him back and tell him so," said Frank.
"I did the talking because neither of you seemed to want to do it. You
didn't have to give your parole unless you wanted to. I didn't ask you
to do it."

"Come now, don't get mad, Frank," said Jack.

"I'm not mad. I'm just telling you what I think. Certainly it can do us
no harm. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose."

"That's so, too, when you stop to think of it," Harris agreed.

"Well, I stopped to think of it," said Frank. "You fellows didn't.
That's the difference."

"But who on earth can he be?" exclaimed Harris. "He seems to know you
two, all right."

"There is something strangely familiar about him," said Frank, "but I
can't place him."

"Nor I," admitted Jack, "though, as you say, there is something
familiar about him."

"Seems to me that if I knew a man I could tell you who he was," said
Harris.

"Seems so to me, too," declared Frank, "but I can't."

"Well," said Jack, "I'm not as credulous as you are, Frank. I wager he
is not doing this to help us out. I'll bet we land in Berlin and stay
there until the end of the war."

"By Jove! Let's hope not," said Harris. "Still, all things considered,
I'm of your way of thinking."

"If he was telling the truth," said Jack, "he would have let us know
who he is. There was no reason for telling us he was English and then
concealing his identity."

"I can't see any reason," Frank admitted, "but at the same time I
believe he was telling the truth."

The conversation languished. Frank curled himself up on a sofa at the
far side of the room and sought a little rest. Jack dozed in his chair.
Harris also could hardly keep his eyes open.

They were still in this condition when the door opened several hours
later and their captor again entered the room. He walked quickly across
the room and shook Jack.

"Hello!" said the latter, sleepily, "back, eh?"

Frank awoke at the sound of Jack's voice and Harris also opened his
eyes.

"I had a little work that had to be disposed of immediately," said
their captor, "which is the reason I left you so abruptly. I can show
you a place to sleep now."

He led the way from the room and upstairs. There he ushered the three
into a large, well appointed room, which contained two beds.

"Only two beds," he said, "but it's the best I can do. Two of you can
bunk together."

"Anything, just so it's soft," said Frank. "I'm tired out."

"Then you had all better turn in at once," said their captor. "I have
much work to do. It is probable that I shall not be back again until
some time tomorrow night. Make yourselves at home. You are alone in the
house. You will find cold meats, bread and some other things in the
pantry down stairs. Remain here until I come."

"Very well, sir," said Frank. "And you say we shall leave here tomorrow
night?"

"Yes; unless something develops to interfere with my plans."

"All right, sir. We shall remain here until you come tomorrow night.
But that is as long as our paroles hold good, sir. After that, we shall
escape if it is humanly possible."

"I will be back before midnight tomorrow," was their captor's reply.
"Until that time, goodbye. One thing, stay in the house and keep the
blinds drawn. I do not wish to attract attention to this house."

"Very well, sir," said Frank.

The man took a last careful glance around the room and then
disappeared.

"Well, he's gone again," said Jack. "He may be telling the truth and he
may not, but one thing sure, these beds look pretty comfortable. I'm
going to make use of one right now."

He undressed quickly and slipped between the sheets. Frank and Harris
followed his example.

All were up bright and early the next day, greatly refreshed. They
found food in the pantry, as their captor had told them they would. It
was a tedious day, confined as they were, and the time passed slowly.
But dusk descended at last.

"He should be here at any time now," said Frank.

The others said nothing, but when nine o'clock had come and gone even
Frank became uneasy.

"Don't see what is detaining him," he said.

"Nor I--if he really meant to come back," said Jack.

Eleven o'clock and still their captor had not returned.

"He said he would be back by midnight," said Frank.

"He said lots of things," said Jack, "but they didn't make the same
impression on me they seem to have made on you. I don't believe he is
coming."

"I'll tell you what I think," said Harris. "I believe he expected us to
make a break for liberty before now. The house probably is surrounded
and if we start out the door we shall most likely be shot down."

"By Jove! I wouldn't be surprised if you had hit the nail on the head,"
Jack declared.

"Nonsense," said Frank. "What would be the advantage of a plan like
that?"

"Well, I don't know; but there is something queer about this business,"
declared Jack.

Eleven thirty passed and still no sign of their captor.

Jack and Harris had kept up a steady flow of conversation regarding the
probable fate that was in store for them if they poked their heads
outside the door, and at last Jack rose to his feet.

"Well," he said quietly, "there is no need of staying here. We may as
well make a break for it Chances are, if we are quick enough, we can
get into the open without being shot down."

"Not in these clothes," said Harris.

"True enough. We'll have a look for other clothing. What do you say,
Frank?"

"I'm not convinced yet the man is not coming back," said Frank, "but I
tell you what I will do. We'll hunt up some other clothes and get into
them. Then we'll wait until twelve o'clock. If he has not returned by
that time, I'm with you."

"Fair enough," said Harris. "Come on."

The three made their way upstairs, where they started a thorough search
of the house; and at last Jack ran onto a closet in which were stored
half a dozen suits of civilian clothes.

He called the others.

"All right if they'll fit," said Harris.

Fortunately, they did fit; and fifteen minutes later the three were
garbed in plain citizens' attire. They left their uniforms in the room
where they had changed.

"Now to see if we can find a few guns," said Jack.

Again they searched the house.

Frank was the first to find a weapon. There were two revolvers in a
drawer of a writing desk in the parlor and with them was a goodly
supply of ammunition. Frank gave one of the guns to Jack.

"We ought to be able to find one more," said Harris. "I've got to have
a gun."

They ransacked the house from top to bottom; and at length Frank came
across another weapon. Harris gave an exclamation of satisfaction.

"Let's divide up that ammunition, now," he said.

This was done and the three returned to the parlor. Frank glanced at
his watch.

"Five minutes to twelve," he said. "We'll wait until midnight and not a
second longer."

To this the others agreed.

"I guess you were right after all," Frank told his companions. "Still I
can't understand this thing at all."

"You'll probably understand it better when you stick your head out the
door and a bullet hits close to it," said Harris, grimly.

"No; I don't believe there is anything like that going to happen,"
Frank declared. "Maybe he was detained and couldn't get back on time."

"When he gets back he'll find us missing," said Harris.

"He will unless he hurries," Frank agreed.

The minutes passed slowly; but at last the hands of Frank's watch
pointed to midnight.

The lad closed the case of his watch with a snap and rose to his feet.
He examined his revolver carefully to make sure it was in working order
and then said:

"Time's up; may as well be moving."

The three advanced cautiously to the front door. Behind, the house was
perfectly dark.

"Careful when you open the door, Frank," Jack warned. "Stoop down.
There is no telling what may be lurking out there."

Frank heeded this warning. Stooping, he opened the door, threw it wide
and looked out.

"Coast clear," he announced.

He was about to step out when the sound of hurried footsteps came to
his ears.

"Wait a minute," Frank whispered. "Some one coming."

A man appeared down the street. He came nearer. Frank gave an
exclamation of satisfaction:

"Come on back to the parlor," he whispered. "Here he comes now."



CHAPTER XXV

TOWARD FREEDOM


Jack and Harris obeyed Frank's injunction and the three flitted back to
the parlor silently.

A moment later the front door opened softly and directly the officer
appeared in the parlor door.

"I came almost not getting here," he said with a smile. "Did you get
tired waiting?"

"So tired," said Frank, "that we were just about to leave when I
chanced to see you coming down the street."

"So? Well, you would have had a hard time escaping, I am afraid. Now,
my way it will be easier. I have had my means of escape laid out ever
since I arrived here. Unless something unforeseen occurs, we should be
able to get away without difficulty."

"I am sure I hope so," declared Frank.

Their captor surveyed the three closely.

"I see you are all ready," he said. "Changed your clothes, eh?"

"I hope you didn't think we were going prowling about the street in our
British uniforms?" said Jack.

"Hardly. By any chance did you find weapons, too?"

Frank hesitated. For a moment he debated what was best to answer.
However, the odds were now three against one, so he replied:

"Yes; we have a gun apiece."

"Good; then we may as well be moving. The car should be here in ten
minutes at the latest. You see, that's why I was late. Had a blowout
aways back. We had to come in on foot. I sent my driver for another car
while I hurried here, for I was afraid that you might do something
rash. You see, I know more about you than you think I do."

"I wish you would tell us who you are, sir," said Jack.

"All in good time," replied the officer with a smile. "All in good
time."

Came a "honk-honk" from without.

"There's our car," said the officer quietly. "Come along."

Without a word the others followed him through the dark hall, out the
door and down the steps, where they climbed into the car, in the rear
seat, their captor taking his seat with the driver.

The automobile started immediately.

They rode along slowly for perhaps an hour; and they came to what the
lads recognized immediately as the water front. Their captor called a
halt and climbed out, motioning the lads to follow him. Immediately
they had alighted, the automobile drove away.

Straight down to the water their captor led the way. Jack whispered to
Frank.

"You can't tell me we are going to get away from here as easily as all
this."

"Sh-h-h!" was Frank's reply.

Jack thereafter maintained a discreet silence.

At the edge of the pier their captor pointed to a small rowboat in the
water.

"We'll get in here," he said.

They did so and a moment later they were being rowed across the water
by a man Frank recognized as a German sailor. The thing was becoming
more complicated.

A short distance ahead there now loomed up what appeared to be nothing
more than a motorboat of considerable size. The rowboat approached this
craft and the officer motioned his three companions to follow him
aboard. They did so.

Aboard, they saw that the vessel upon the deck of which they stood was
in reality a pleasure yacht, now converted into a vessel of war. A look
at her graceful outlines and long slender body told all three that the
vessel was built for speed.

Their captor had halted and waited for the three to come up with him.

"Follow me below," he whispered. "I'll do the talking. Agree with
whatever I say and listen carefully to my every word."

The three friends obeyed.

Below they were ushered into what proved to be the commander's cabin.
An officer in the dress of a lieutenant commander of the German navy
rose and greeted the boys' captor with a salute and an extended hand.
Their captor grasped the hand.

"Commander von Ludwig, I take it," said the commander of the vessel.

Von Ludwig bowed.

"The same, sir," he replied. "I have here a paper that gives me command
of your vessel, sir. You are ordered to report to Berlin at once."

"I have been expecting you, sir," was the reply. "I shall leave at
once, if your boatman is still near."

"I ordered him to await you," was von Ludwig's reply.

The commander of the German vessel glanced at von Ludwig's three
companions.

"Your officers?" he asked.

"Yes. Your officers will be relieved in the morning."

"Very well, sir. Then I shall leave you. A safe and successful voyage
to you, sir."

"The same to you, sir."

Von Ludwig, motioning to his companions to remain in the cabin until
his return, went on deck with the departing commander. A few moments
later the latter was being rowed ashore. For the space of several
seconds, von Ludwig gazed after him, a peculiar smile lighting up his
face as he murmured:

"If you only knew what a time I had getting the paper I just gave you,
you would not be going so serenely about your business right now. Oh,
well----"

He threw open his arms with a gesture and descended to his cabin.

"Now," he said to Jack, Frank and Harris, "the first thing we must do
is to secure the crew and the officers of this vessel. The crew, I
happen to know, numbers only ten men. There are two officers. We shall
have to overcome them."

"And how are we going to work the ship, sir?" asked Jack.

Von Ludwig glanced at the lad sharply.

"You would be a better sailor, sir, if you would follow orders without
question," he said sharply; then added more calmly: "However, I shall
tell you, for I can see none of you trust me fully. I have my own crew
of five men coming aboard within the hour."

"I beg your pardon, sir," said Jack.

"That's all right," said von Ludwig. "Now follow me."

The others did as ordered. Before a door not far from the commander's
cabin von Ludwig stopped.

"In there you will find the first officer," he said

He motioned to Frank and Jack. "Get him and get him quietly."

The lads nodded their understanding and von Ludwig signalled Harris to
follow him.

Jack laid his hand on the knob of the door and turned it gently. The
door flew open without a sound.

"Find the light switch, Frank," Jack whispered.

Frank's hand felt carefully over the wall.

"Turn it on when I give the word," said Jack. "I may need to see what I
am doing."

"All right; but be careful, Jack."

Slowly Jack tiptoed across the room, where he could dimly see a form
stretched across a bunk. Bending over the figure, Jack raised a hand
and then called to Frank:

"Lights, Frank!"

Instantly, Frank threw the switch and then sprang forward to lend Jack
a hand should it be necessary. But his assistance was not needed.
Jack's fist rose and fell once and the form in the bunk gasped feebly
once and lay still.

"I don't like that sort of thing," said Jack, "but I suppose it had to
be done. Help me bind him up and gag him. He's not badly hurt and will
come round in a few minutes."

It was the work of but a few moments to tear the sheets into strips and
to bind and gag the helpless man. Then Jack and Frank left the cabin.

At almost the same instant von Ludwig and Harris came from a second
cabin.

"All right?" asked von Ludwig.

"All right, sir. And you?"

"Everything shipshape. Now for the crew. First, however," he said,
addressing Jack and Frank, "don the clothing of these two officers. You
shall be my second and third in command."

The lads returned to the cabin they had just quitted and stripped the
prisoner. Jack donned the uniform, for the German was a big man. Then
they hurried into the second cabin and performed a similar operation
and Frank soon was attired in the uniform of a German lieutenant.

"Now," said von Ludwig, "have the crew report here and keep your guns
ready."

Frank made his way aft, and in German, called:

"All hands forward!"

The crew came tumbling from their bunks and hurried forward, most of
the men no more than half dressed. Jack, Frank and Harris, on either
side of von Ludwig, confronted them.

"Men," said von Ludwig, "I am the new commander of this ship and we
shall get under way immediately. Fearing that you will not always obey
my commands, I have brought along these little persuaders."

A pair of automatics flashed in his hands and covered the ten sailors.

"Hands up!" he cried.

Taken completely by surprise there was nothing for the German sailors
to do but obey. Up went their hands. Von Ludwig called to Harris.

"Help me keep them covered," he said, "while you other two tie them
up."

Under the muzzles of the revolvers levelled in steady hands by von
Ludwig and Harris, Jack and Frank set to work binding the members of
the crew. A few minutes later the work was done.

"Trundle them into that cabin there," said von Ludwig, motioning to an
open door. "Tie them there so they cannot release their own bonds or
the bonds of the others. Then report to me on deck."

The lads obeyed. It was the work of only a few moments, struggle as the
Germans did. Then Frank and Jack went on deck.

A short distance away a rowboat was coming rapidly toward the
_Bismarck_--for such was the name of the vessel on which the lads found
themselves.

Von Ludwig pointed to it.

"My crew!" he said quietly.



CHAPTER XXVI

DISCOVERED


A few moments later the little skiff scraped alongside the _Bismarck_.
One at a time its occupants--five in number--scrambled over the side
and stood before von Ludwig. The latter scrutinized each man closely.

"All right," he said at length.

He selected three men.

"You report to the engine room immediately," he said. "You will find
everything ready. The crew has been overpowered and there will be no
one to interfere with you."

The men moved away. Von Ludwig addressed the other two.

"Take the lookout forward," he said to one; and to the other: "Go aft
and keep your eyes open." Then he spoke to Harris. "I'll appoint you in
command in the engine room," he said. "Heed your signals carefully."

Harris saluted.

"Very well, sir," he said and disappeared.

Von Ludwig motioned to Jack and Frank, who followed him to the bridge.
The officer cast a quick glance over the water and said:

"I guess there is no reason to delay longer. Mr. Chadwick, will you
take the wheel? I'll be with you in a moment to give you your
directions."

Frank moved away. Von Ludwig was just about to address Jack when he
made out another rowboat coming toward the _Bismarck_.

"Hello!" he said aloud. "Wonder what's up now. Guess we'd better wait a
minute."

The rowboat drew closer and Frank discovered it was filled with men.

"Boat crowded with men, sir," he exclaimed.

"So!" exclaimed von Ludwig. "Then I guess we won't wait, after all. You
may get under way, Mr. Templeton."

With this order von Ludwig took his place beside Frank at the wheel and
produced a chart. The bell in the engine room tinkled. A moment later
the engines began to move and the _Bismarck_ slipped easily through the
water.

Came a hail from the rowboat.

"Wait a moment, there!"

Von Ludwig paid no attention to this call. The _Bismarck_ gathered
headway.

"Haven't time to talk to you fellows," said von Ludwig. "We want to be
a long ways from here before daylight."

There was a sound of a shot from the rowboat, followed by many other
shots. Von Ludwig waved a hand in derision.

"You're too late," he called. "Shoot away. I don't think you will hit
anything."

"But, sir," said Frank, "they will awaken every sleepy German
hereabouts."

"That's so," said von Ludwig. He called to Jack: "Full speed ahead, Mr.
Templeton."

Jack gave the word and the vessel dashed ahead.

"I don't know anything about these waters, sir," exclaimed Frank, in
some alarm. "There may be mines about."

"Not here," was von Ludwig's reply. "Farther on, yes. That's why I have
this chart. We'll run the mine fields safely enough, barring
accidents."

"What is my course, sir?" asked Frank.

"Due north until I tell you to change."

Frank said nothing further, but guided the vessel according to
instructions. Behind, the rowboat had given up the chase, but now, from
other parts of the harbor, from which the _Bismarck_ was fast speeding,
came sounds of confusion.

Searchlights came to play upon the _Bismarck_.

Von Ludwig sighed deeply.

"I was in hopes we would get away without trouble," he said, "but it
seems we won't. The erstwhile commander of this vessel must have
discovered in some manner that he has been fooled."

"We'll have every ship of war hereabouts after us, sir," said Frank.

"That's what we will," was Von Ludwig's reply. "However, I am not
afraid of their catching us. This vessel has the heels of anything in
this port. Trouble is, though, they may tip off vessels on the outside
of our coming, by wireless."

"What shall we do then, sir?"

"We'll have to manage to get by them some way; for if we should be
caught now it would mean the noose for all of us."

"Not a very cheerful prospect, sir," said Frank, quietly.

"I agree with you. However, they haven't caught us yet. We'll give them
a hard race."

"Is the vessel armed, sir?"

"It should be, if I have been informed correctly. I'll have a look
about. Hold to your course until I return."

He moved away. He was back in a few moments, however, with the
announcement that there were four 12-pounders aft, as well as four
forward.

"Enough to fight with," he announced gravely.

"But we haven't the men to man them, sir," protested Frank.

"We'll impress our prisoners into service if it's necessary. With a man
to guard them they can handle the engine room."

"I am afraid it will come to that, sir," said Frank.

Von Ludwig shrugged.

"What will be, will be," he replied quietly.

And it did come to that, as Frank had predicted As the vessel still
flew through the water at full speed, there came a sudden cry from the
lookout forward:

"Cruiser off our port bow, sir!"

Von Ludwig sprang forward. He gazed at the vessel quickly and then
called to Frank:

"Port your helm hard!"

Frank obeyed without question and the _Bismarck_ swung about sharply.
Von Ludwig sprang to his side.

"They'll pick us up with their searchlight in a minute or two," he
cried. "Come with me, Templeton! Chadwick, hold that course till I
come back."

Jack sprang after von Ludwig. The latter hurried to the cabin where
the German prisoners were confined. He unloosened the bonds of five.

"You men," he said sharply, "will go before us to the engine room,
where you will perform the necessary duties."

Under the muzzles of the weapons of Jack and von Ludwig, the men
obeyed, for there seemed nothing else to do. In the engine room von
Ludwig explained:

"I want you men to put forth your best efforts. Any foolishness and you
will be shot, for I will take no chances. Harris, can you guard them?"

"Yes, sir," replied Harris, with a smile. "Give me another gun, sir."

Von Ludwig passed a revolver to Harris.

"There must be no half way methods here," he said quietly. "Shoot the
first man who makes a false move. Ask questions afterward. Our lives
depend upon it."

"I shall obey your instructions, sir."

"Good!" Von Ludwig addressed the former engine-room crew. "Follow me,
men," he exclaimed.

No questions were asked and the others followed Jack and von Ludwig
from the room, leaving Harris in command of the German crew of five.
These Germans, under the muzzles of Harris' two revolvers, fell to work
immediately.

Von Ludwig led the former engine-room crew to the guns forward.

"Man these guns," he said quietly. "There may be fighting to do. When I
give the word fire as rapidly and as accurately as possible at the
closest enemy vessel."

"Very well, sir," said one of the men.

Von Ludwig called to Jack to follow him and returned to the bridge.
There he gave a slight alteration in course to Frank and the vessel's
head turned slightly.

"Funny they haven't raised us with that searchlight," von Ludwig
muttered to himself.

The _Bismarck_ was dashing through the water at a rapid gait. Suddenly
she became the center of a blinding glare. The searchlight of a German
cruiser a half a mile to port had picked them up. Von Ludwig gave a
sharp command to the men who manned the forward guns.

"Aim and fire!" he cried.

A moment later one of the guns spoke and a shell screamed across the
water toward the German cruiser. Apparently it did not find its mark,
however, for nothing happened aboard the enemy to indicate the shot had
struck home.

"Again!" cried von Ludwig.

Another gun boomed. Followed a sharp explosion.

"Good work, men!" cried von Ludwig. "Try it again."

But the next shot came from the enemy. A shell screamed overhead.

"They'll do better with the next shot, sir," said Jack, quietly.

"So they will," was von Ludwig's quiet response. "Starboard your helm,
Mr. Chadwick."

Frank obeyed immediately, and again the course of the _Bismarck_ was
changed quickly; and none too soon.

For another salvo had come from the German cruiser and two shells flew
past the spot where the _Bismarck_ would have been at that moment had
her course not suddenly been altered.

"Fire, men!" cried von Ludwig. "Fire as fast as you can. If you can't
disable her we are done for!"

The men who manned the _Bismarck's_ guns were working like Trojans.
Once, twice, thrice more they fired; and upon the fourth shot there
came a cry of dismay from aboard the enemy cruiser.

"Must have hit something, sir," said Frank.

"Right. I trust it was a vulnerable spot."

Twice more the German cruiser fired at the _Bismarck_, but without
result. The smaller vessel was drawing ahead rapidly now.

"Fifteen minutes and we will be safe," said von Ludwig.

The men aboard the _Bismarck_ continued to fire at the German cruiser,
but apparently none of the other shots found their mark. The German, it
could be seen, was in full pursuit, but the smaller vessel forged
rapidly ahead with each turn of her screws. And at last von Ludwig
exclaimed thankfully:

"Well, I guess we are safe enough here."

But even as he spoke a cry apprised him of a newer and closer danger!



CHAPTER XXVII

A TERRIBLE STRUGGLE


The trouble had started in the engine room. Hardly had the _Bismarck_
drawn clear of the fire of the German cruiser when one of the five
members of the German crew impressed into service fell over, apparently
in a dead faint. The men, under Harris' watchful eye, had been working
hard and the first thought that struck the Englishman was that the man
had dropped from exhaustion.

Hastily he shoved one of his automatics in his belt and advancing,
stooped over the man. Instantly, the other four Germans rushed for him.

Harris heard them coming and attempted to get to his feet. He was too
late. A heavy shovel, wielded by one of his four assailants, struck him
a hard blow over the head and Harris fell to the deck unconscious.
Quickly the men relieved him of his two weapons and then they held a
consultation.

"We must release the others first," said one man.

This plan was agreed upon and the man who had suggested it was
appointed to make his way to where the others were imprisoned and free
them. A moment later he slipped stealthily from the engine room and as
stealthily approached the cabin where his fellow countrymen were
imprisoned. Inside, he closed the door quickly and in a low voice
cautioned the others to silence.

Quickly he unloosened their bonds and the five sailors and two officers
rose and stretched their cramped limbs. In a few words the German
sailor gave his officers the lay of the land and the first lieutenant
took command.

"In the next cabin," he said, "is a chest containing revolvers and
ammunition. Bring it here."

Two men hurried to obey and returned a few moments later bearing the
chest. The two officers armed themselves and the men.

"These English must be very careless," said one, "else we would never
have this chance."

The others agreed and the two officers considered what was best to be
done.

"How many are there, did you say?" asked the first officer of the man
who had released the others.

"There were nine, but we have disposed of the man in the engine room."

"Then we are twelve to eight. Good! First we will try and capture the
bridge and the wheel. As we are in command of the engine room, the rest
should be easy. It will not be necessary to capture all the English.
With the bridge, wheel and engine room in our possession, we can run
the vessel back into the harbor. Come on, men!"

They advanced quietly from the cabin and made their way on deck. It was
the appearance of the first head that had called forth a cry from one
of the British that had attracted von Ludwig's attention. Wheeling
quickly, von Ludwig saw the Germans dash from below.

With a quick cry to the others, he drew his revolver and fired. One man
toppled over. The odds against the British were one less; but the
others sprang forward. Frank, at the wheel, was forced to maintain his
position while the others did the fighting.

The lookout forward and the man stationed aft advanced to take part in
the fray, though keeping out of sight as well as possible.

"Turn the gun on them, men!" cried von Ludwig.

The three men who manned the gun sought to obey, but the gun stuck. It
would not turn. Most likely it had been damaged in the battle with the
German cruiser. The British tried the other guns, but with no better
result.

"Stay where you are," shouted van Ludwig to the men at the guns. "Keep
them between us, if possible."

The gun crew, who had been on the point of trying to join von Ludwig
and Jack, saw the strategy of this plan and stooped down behind the
guns. The lookout forward also stepped behind the mainmast, where he
began to blaze away at the foe. The man aft, by a dash, succeeded in
reaching the side of von Ludwig and Jack.

Frank, at the wheel, was in a perilous situation, but there he had
determined to stay until ordered to shift his position.

"Signal the engine room to slow down," said von Ludwig to Jack.

Jack obeyed and the ship came to a pause. Apparently the men below
believed the Germans had recaptured the ship.

"If Harris is still in command down there, we are all right," said von
Ludwig. "If not, there will be more of the enemy up here in a minute."

And within a minute more of the enemy appeared.

"Back here, Chadwick!" exclaimed von Ludwig. "Never mind the wheel."

Frank sprang to the shelter of the bridge, Jack and von Ludwig
protecting his retreat. Frank drew his revolver.

A German poked his head from the companion-way and Frank took a snap
shot. The head disappeared and there was a howl of pain.

"Got one, I guess," said the lad quietly.

The effect of this shot was to infuriate the Germans. The first officer
commanded a charge on the bridge.

Ten men dashed forward at the word.

Now the four in the shelter of the bridge--von Ludwig, Frank, Jack and
the man who had come from the after part of the vessel, stood to their
full height and fired into the crowd. From the rear, the three other
British also poured in a volley and the lookout stepped into the open
and fired.

Caught thus between three fires, the Germans were at a loss what to do.

One man dropped and the others dashed for the protection of the
companionway. Before reaching there, however, the first German officer
gave the command to scatter and several of the Germans posted
themselves behind whatever shelter offered on deck. The battle had
reached a deadlock.

The British could not expose themselves without danger of being struck
by a German bullet; and the Germans confronted the same situation.

"Signal the engine room, Jack," instructed von Ludwig. "We must know
whether Harris is still alive."

There was no response to the signal.

"Poor fellow," said von Ludwig. "They probably have done for him."

From time to time Jack signalled the engine room, thinking perhaps that
Harris had only been wounded and that he might answer. Upon the fifth
signal he received an answer.

Then Jack signalled: "Full speed ahead."

A moment later the vessel leaped forward. There came a cry of
consternation from the Germans, who tumbled back down the steps. As
they did so, Frank again sprang to the wheel and brought the head of
the _Bismarck_ sharply about--for since he had released his hold on the
wheel the vessel had been drifting.

Quickly the lad lashed the wheel with several lengths of cable and then
sprang back to the bridge amid a volley of revolver bullets from the
Germans who still held the deck. None hit him.

Below, in the engine room, Harris was facing heavy odds. Before
answering Jack's signal, after regaining consciousness, he had closed
and barred the engine-room door and now he paid no attention to the
hammering upon it. He smiled grimly to himself.

"You won't get in here as long as that door holds," he said. "Before
that I should have assistance."

The pounding upon the door continued.

"We'll have to lend Harris a hand, sir," said Jack. "They are too many
for him down there."

"The first man that steps clear of this bridge is likely to get shot,"
declared von Ludwig. "However, as you say, we must lend him a hand." He
called to the men who were still safe behind the guns. "Make a rush
this way," he said. "We'll cover your retreat."

A moment later three forms flitted across the deck. Two German heads
were raised from their cover. Frank accounted for one and von Ludwig
for the other. Thus were three of the enemy placed _hors de combat_.
Seven had rushed below. There were still two left on deck.

A spurt of flame showed Jack where one was hidden.

With a quick move the lad sprang from the bridge and threw himself to
the deck on his face. There was another spurt of flame and a bullet
whistled over his head. Before the man could fire again, Jack had
leaped forward and seized him by his revolver arm. Angrily, the lad
wrested the weapon from the man's grasp.

The latter drew a knife. There was but one thing for Jack to do.
Quickly he raised his revolver, pointed it squarely at the German's
face, and fired.

A flash of flame had betrayed the hiding place of the last German on
deck. Two of the British rushed for him. The German accounted for both
of them before they could reach him.

The losses so far, had been two British and four of the enemy. There
were still six British on deck and a single German; but seven Teutons
were still hammering at the door of the engine room in an effort to get
at Harris.

"We've got to get rid of this fellow on deck," muttered Frank. He spoke
to one of the men near him.

"You advance from one side and I'll advance from the other," said the
lad quietly. "The man, apparently, is a dead shot and he probably will
get one of us. But he's dangerous there. He may fire at you and he may
fire at me, but the other will get him."

The man nodded that he understood, and one from each side of the bridge
they advanced.

As it transpired it was not Frank who was to pay the penalty for this
rash advance. Perceiving two men approaching, one from either side, the
German fired. Quickly, Frank raised his revolver and also fired. The
German threw up his arms and fell to the deck.

Frank turned quickly and looked for the man who had left the shelter of
the bridge with him. He lay prone on the deck.

"Poor fellow," said Frank. "Yet it had to be done. Just luck that it
wasn't me."

"Deck's clear, sir," said Frank to von Ludwig. "Now to lend Harris a
hand in the engine room."

"Forward, then," said von Ludwig. "All except you, Frank, and you,
Jack. You two stay on deck. Take the wheel again, Frank. Jack, you
stand at the head of the companionway and shoot the first German who
appears there."

"Very well, sir," said Jack, although he was disappointed that he was
not permitted to go to Harris' aid.

"The others follow me," said von Ludwig.

There were but two other men that could follow.

"You are attempting too much, sir," said Jack.

"I think not," said von Ludwig, calmly.

He led the way below.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE CHEATING OF HARRIS


Below, Harris had just armed himself with a great iron bar; for he knew
that the door was about to give under the attacks of the Germans.

"The fools!" he said to himself. "Why don't they blow the lock off?"

It seemed that the same thought struck the German first officer at
about the same moment. Motioning his men back, he approached the door
and put the muzzle of his revolver against the lock. He pulled the
trigger, and when the Germans again surged against the door it flew
open beneath their weight.

One man stumbled headlong through the door. As he did so, Harris raised
his heavy bar and brought it down on the man's head. The German dropped
with a crushed skull.

But before Harris could raise his weapon again the Germans had closed
about him and sought to strike him down with the butts of their
revolvers. The struggling figures were so closely entwined now that the
enemy could not fire without fear of hitting one of their own number.

Harris struck out right and left and men staggered back before his
terrific blows. Then came the sounds of running footsteps without.

"Back!" called the German first officer.

Two British heads appeared in the doorway almost simultaneously.

"Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!"

The Germans poured a volley into the two men and the latter sagged to
the deck.

Harris, at the same moment, had jumped toward the door. As he leaped
over the prostrate forms, he collided with von Ludwig.

"Quick, sir!" he cried. "They are too many for us. Back on deck!"

There was something in Harris' manner that impressed von Ludwig.
Without stopping to argue, he followed Harris. When both were safe on
deck, Harris quickly closed the door of the companionway and battened
it down.

"We've a breathing spell, at any rate," he said, mopping his face.

"Why all this rush?" demanded von Ludwig. "Where are the men who went
to your assistance?"

"Dead, the same as we would be if we had lingered another moment,"
replied Harris, quietly. "It was impossible to pass through that door
without being shot down. It was only due to the diversion of the
appearance of the others that permitted me to escape."

Came heavy blows against the covering of the companionway.

"They want to come out," said Harris, grinning.

"That door won't stand much battering," said von Ludwig.

"No, it won't," was Harris' reply, "but one man can guard it well
enough. Besides, we have the bridge. We can steer the vessel where we
will."

"As long as the engines run we can," agreed von Ludwig. "But unless I'm
greatly mistaken the Germans will soon stop them."

He was right; for a few moments later the battering at the door of the
companionway ceased and the engines ceased work.

"Well, we can't go any place now, sir," said Frank, leaving the wheel
and approaching von Ludwig and Harris at the companionway.

Jack also came up to them.

"You're right," agreed von Ludwig, "and that's not the worst of it. The
German cruiser probably is in pursuit of us. If they sight us we are
done for."

Came more violent blows on the door over the companionway, followed by
a shot from below.

Jack sprang aside as a bullet plowed its way through the hard wood.

"We'll have to stand to one side," he said. "Otherwise, they are likely
to drop one of us."

"The door will stand considerable battering," said von Ludwig. "There
is but one thing I can think of. We shall have to desert the ship."

"In what, a rowboat?" asked Frank, with some sarcasm.

"Hardly," returned von Ludwig; "but I have discovered that there is a
high-powered motor boat aboard. We can launch that and move off."

"And as soon as the Germans break out here, they'll come after us and
shoot us full of holes," said Harris.

"Well, that's true enough, too," agreed von Ludwig. "Of course, if we
had an hour's start we might get through. But the door won't hold that
long."

Harris had been turning a plan over in his mind.

"If you please, sir," he said slowly at last, "I have a plan that may
work."

"Let's hear it," said Frank.

"Yes; let's have it," said von Ludwig.

"Well," said Harris, "one man, with a couple of revolvers, should be
able to guard this passageway for an hour without trouble. He can shoot
the Germans down as fast as they come up. My plan is this. Let one man
stay behind on guard. The others can put off in the motor boat."

"But the one man will die," said Frank.

"Of course," said Harris, simply. "That shall be my job."

"Not much," said Jack. "I'll pick that job for myself."

"Not while I'm here you won't," declared Frank. "I'm plenty big to
guard the companionway."

"The plan you suggest, Harris," von Ludwig said quietly, "is the only
one, so far as I can see, that promises any degree of success. In my
pocket are papers that must reach the British admiralty at the earliest
possible moment."

"Then there is no reason why you should think of staying, sir," said
Harris.

"Wait," said von Ludwig. "In a venture such as this, there is no reason
one man should be called upon to sacrifice himself more than another.
We shall all have an even chance."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked Frank.

"Simply this. We shall draw lots to see who shall remain."

"Suits me," said Harris, with a shrug.

"And me," declared Jack.

"Well, then I'm agreeable," Frank said quietly.

"Good. Harris, in the pocket of my coat, which hangs in the pilot
house, you will find a pack of cards. Bring them here."

Harris walked away and returned a few seconds later with a pack of
playing cards. Von Ludwig opened the box and produced the cards.

"The man who cuts the lowest card shall stay behind," he said quietly.
"Shuffle."

He passed the cards to Harris, who riffled them lightly.

"One moment," said von Ludwig. "If I should be the man to stay, I want
one of you to take these papers in my pocket. They must be turned over
to the admiralty at the earliest possible moment. Should the man who
carries them be in danger of capture, they must be destroyed. Do you
understand?"

"Yes, sir," said Jack.

Frank nodded.

"It shall be as you say, sir," said Harris, "Now who will cut first?"

"It may as well be me as another," said von Ludwig.

He cut the cards and exposed to view a jack of hearts.

"Looks like you will carry the papers yourself, sir," said Frank, as he
advanced to cut the cards.

He held up a nine spot of spades.

"That lets you out, sir," he said to von Ludwig.

The latter was plainly nervous.

Jack cut the cards next. Frank uttered a cry of consternation:

"The three of clubs!"

"Looks like I was the fellow to stay, all right," said Jack, smiling
slightly.

"And this time," said Frank, "you may not be as fortunate as upon the
day you remained behind and faced death on the submarine."

Jack shrugged.

"Can't be helped," he said quietly.

Now Harris advanced and cut the cards quickly.

As he picked up the upper half of the deck, he turned his shoulder
slightly so that the others, for the moment, might not see what he had
cut. He glanced at the bottom card. It was the six of diamonds.

Deftly, Harris shuffled the cards with his hands. Adept in the art of
trickery, though the others did not know it, he had placed the cards in
such position that he knew almost identically where the high and low
cards were.

Like a flash his hand passed across the bottom of the deck and when it
was withdrawn the six of diamonds had disappeared. Then he turned to
the others and exposed:

The two spot of spades!

"I lose," he said quietly.

Harris' movements had been so quick that they had not been perceived by
the others.

Jack was the first to extend a hand.

"I'm sorry," the lad said quietly. "I was in hopes that it would be
me."

As he shook hands with the others, Harris kept his left hand behind
him; for in it reposed the card he had palmed--the six of diamonds,
which would have allowed him to go with the others and would have put
Jack in his place.

As he turned, Harris slipped the card quickly into his pocket, that it
might not be accidentally seen. Then, he knew, he was safe.

Jack picked up the deck.

"I shall keep these, Harris," he said, "that I may always remember a
brave man."

All this time the thundering on the door of the companionway had
continued.

"Come," said von Ludwig, "we must delay no longer. Already it is
growing light."

He hastened along the deck to where the high-powered motor boat lay
covered with a tarpaulin. Quickly the little craft was lowered over the
side, von Ludwig first inspecting it.

"Plenty of water and provisions," he said quietly. He turned to Harris.

"It is time to say goodbye," he said quietly. "You are a brave man.
This gallant action shall be known to the world."

"Goodbye, sir," said Harris, quietly.

"Remember," said von Ludwig, "there is always a chance that you may
escape. If it comes, make the most of it. Goodbye."

He pressed Harris' hand and passed over the side of the vessel.

As Frank and Jack shook hands with Harris, the latter squeezed Harris'
hand affectionately. The latter smiled.

"I had promised myself another bout with you some day," he said. "My
only regret is that it is not possible now."

A moment more Jack was in the motor boat and it moved away. Harris drew
his revolvers and mounted guard over the companionway, the door of
which now had begun to splinter.

"An hour is what you needed," he said quietly. "You'll get it!"



CHAPTER XXIX

A CHAMPION PASSES


Harris laid one of his revolvers on the deck, reached in his pocket and
produced the six of diamonds. He looked at it closely in the half
darkness and a smile passed over his face.

"I suppose I'm a fool," he muttered to himself, "but someway I couldn't
help it. I was afraid Jack would cut the low card. I wouldn't have done
it for one of the others, but Jack, well, he's a boy after my own
heart."

Harris replaced the card in his pocket; then thought better of his
action, drew it forth again and sent it spinning off across the sea.

"There," he said quietly, "goes all evidence that I cheated."

He picked up the revolver he had laid on the deck and moved a short
distance from the companionway.

There was an extra violent crash and it seemed that the door must burst
open.

"Another one like that will do the work," said Harris, calmly.

He took up what he considered a strategic position and produced his
watch. This he lay on the deck and sat down beside it.

"May as well be comfortable," he remarked.

Again there was a crash and the door of the companionway burst open. A
German head appeared.

"Crack!" Harris had fired without moving from his sitting posture.

The German head disappeared and there was a cry of alarm from below.

"One down, I guess," said Harris, quietly, to himself.

For some moments there was silence, broken occasionally, however, by
the dull sound of voices from below.

"Talking it over, eh?" muttered Harris. "Well, I'll still be here when
you try again."

It was perhaps fifteen minutes later that a cap appeared in the
opening. Again Harris fired. The cap did not disappear and Harris fired
twice more quickly.

The cap disappeared.

"Guess I got another one," said Harris.

Twice more within the next fifteen minutes this happened.

"That should be four, if I have counted correctly," said Harris; "and
I've still four cartridges left. I won't have to reload yet."

He felt in his pocket and then uttered an exclamation of alarm.

"No more bullets. I'll have to make these four count for the next two."

Nothing appeared in the doorway again for ten minutes more and then
Harris fired again. Fifteen minutes later the same thing happened and
Harris, making sure that this was the last of the enemy, emptied his
revolver at it.

Then he got to his feet and put his watch in his pocket.

"Guess that settles it," he said. "Now I'll look around for a boat. I
didn't know it was going to be as easy as all that. If I had I would
have had the others wait for me."

He moved toward the companionway, and as he did so, a bullet whistled
by his ear. Harris stepped back in surprise; and in that moment the
solution came to him.

"By Jove! They've fooled me," he muttered. "They poked their caps up
and I shot them full of holes. However, they don't know yet that I'm
out of bullets."

A few moments later a cap again appeared in the opening. Harris had no
bullets to fire at it.

"They'll discover my predicament in a moment or so, though," he told
himself.

He pulled his watch from his pocket and glanced at it.

"An hour," he said. "They have had time enough. However, I'll just see
the thing through."

As he spoke it grew light. Harris looked off across the sea. There, so
far away that it appeared but a speck upon the water, he saw what he
took to be the motor boat bearing his friends to safety. He waved his
cap.

"Good luck!" he said quietly.

Now a German head appeared in the door of the companionway. It was not
a cap this time. Harris saw it, and drawing back his arm, hurled one of
his revolvers swiftly. His aim was true and the weapon struck the
German squarely in the face. With a scream of pain the man fell back
into the arms of his companions.

But Harris' action had told his enemies that he had no more bullets,
and seeing that they had but one man to contend with, the Germans
sprang from their shelter and leaped for him.

Harris clubbed his remaining revolver, and with his back to the pilot
house, where he had retreated, awaited the approach of the four foes.

"You're going to have the fight of your lives," he said grimly.

A German sprang. Harris' arm rose and fell and there was one German
less to contend with. But before Harris could raise his arm again, the
other three had closed in upon him. Harris felt himself borne back.

The former pugilistic champion of the British navy cast all ring ethics
to the winds. He struck, kicked and clawed and sought to wreak what
damage he could upon his enemies without regard for the niceties of
fighting. He knew that they would do the same to him.

So great had been the force of the shock of the three Germans--all that
were now left of the original twelve--that Harris was borne to the
deck. His revolver hand struck the floor with great force and the
weapon was sent spinning from his grasp.

With a mighty effort, he hurled the three men from him and leaped to
his feet. The Germans also arose. Harris did not wait for them to
resume the offensive. With head lowered he charged.

Nimbly the foe skipped to either side and Harris felt a keen pain in
his right side. One of the foe had drawn a knife and stabbed as Harris
rushed by. Whirling quickly, Harris again sprang forward. One man did
not leap out of his way quickly enough, and Harris' hands found his
throat.

The man gave a screech as Harris' hands squeezed. The Englishman raised
his enemy bodily from the deck, flung him squarely in the faces of the
other two, and followed after the human catapult.

The foremost German dodged and seized Harris by the legs. Both went
over in a heap, Harris on top. Harris raised his right fist and would
have brought it down on the German's face but for the fact that the
second foe seized his arm in a fierce grasp. At the same moment he
struck with his knife.

The point penetrated Harris' right side and he felt himself growing
faint. Angrily, he shook the German from him and rose to his feet. The
man who had been underneath the Englishman also got quickly to his
feet, and before Harris could turn, stabbed him in the back.

With a cry, Harris whirled on him and seized the knife arm. He twisted
sharply. The German cried out in pain and sought to free himself. But
his effort was in vain.

With the grasp by the wrist, Harris swung the man in the air, and
spinning on his heel, hurled him far across the deck, where the
unconscious form struck with a crash; and at the same moment the other
German struck again with his knife.

Harris staggered back.

Now the German who so recently had felt the effect of Harris' fingers
in his throat, pulled himself from the deck and renewed the battle. He
advanced, crouching, and another knife gleamed in his hand.

It is possible that, had it not been for the effects of the knife
wounds, Harris, in the end, would have overcome these foes, for he was
a powerful man. But when a man is bleeding from half a dozen wounds and
faces two adversaries both armed with knives, he has little chance of
ultimate victory. Harris realized it; but he was not the man to beg for
mercy. Besides, so fierce had been his attacks and so great his
execution, it is not probable that the Germans would have spared him
anyhow. They were insane with rage.

There were only two of them left now; and Harris told himself that
their number would be fewer by one before they finished with him. He
leaned against the pilot house panting from his exertions.

"A great lot of fighters, you are," he taunted his enemies. "Four of
you attacked me with knives and you haven't done for me yet."

The Germans also were glad of a breathing spell. Their faces reddened
as Harris taunted them.

"We shall kill you yet," said one angrily.

"Don't be too sure," said Harris. "I'm an Englishman, you know, and you
have always been afraid of an Englishman."

At this the Germans uttered a cry of rage and sprang forward, their
knives flashing aloft.

The first German missed his mark as Harris dodged beneath his arm and
closed with him. He uttered a cry for help.

"That's right, you coward! You'll need it," said Harris.

He squeezed the man with all his might. Out of the tail of his eye he
caught the glint of the other German's knife as it descended. Releasing
his hold upon the one man, he stepped quickly backward. But the knife
caught him a glancing blow on the forehead, inflicting a deep wound.

For a moment Harris paused to shake the blood out of his eyes. Then,
with a smile playing across his features, he advanced; and as he
advanced he said:

"You've done for me, the lot of you. But I shall take you with me."

The Germans quailed at the look in his face; and as he moved forward
swiftly they threw down their knives and turned to run.

But they had delayed too long.

Harris stretched both hands out straight before him. One hand closed
about the arm of the German to his right. The other clutched the second
man by the throat. Harris pulled the man he held by the arm close; then
released his grip, but before the German could stagger away, seized
him, too, by the throat.

"Now I've got you," he said.

Blow after blow the Germans rained upon his face and shoulders, kicking
out with their feet the while. Harris paid no more attention to these
than he would have to the taps of a child.

But the Englishman felt his strength waning fast. It was with an effort
that he staggered across the deck. At the rail he paused for a moment,
gathering his strength for a final effort.

Then, still holding a German by the throat with each hand, he leaped
into the sea.

Once, twice, three times the three heads appeared on the surface and a
spectator could have seen that Harris retained his grip. Then the three
sank from sight.

And so passed the former pugilistic champion of the British fleet,
brave in death as he had been in life. The waves washed over the spot
where he had gone down.



CHAPTER XXX

THE UNKNOWN UNMASKS


With the coming of dawn the three figures in the little motor boat
gazed back in the direction from whence they had come. There they could
still make out the distant shape of the _Bismarck_. She rode quietly in
the water, and there was nothing about her appearance to tell the three
in the motor boat of the terrible struggle that was raging even at that
moment.

"Poor Harris," said Jack. "I hope that in some manner he is able to
escape."

"Certainly I hope so, too," declared Frank.

"He's a brave man," said von Ludwig.

Jack drew the fateful deck of cards from his pocket.

"These," he said, "I shall keep."

He ran through the deck several times, playing with them. Unconsciously
he counted them.

There was something wrong. Jack counted the cards again. The result was
the same.

"Sir!" he called to von Ludwig.

"Well?" "How did you chance to have this pack of cards?"

"I play solitaire considerably," was the reply.

"You couldn't have played solitaire with this deck," said Jack.

"Why not?"
"All the cards are not here. There are but fifty-one."

"There were fifty-two when I put them in my pocket," said von Ludwig,
"because I counted them."

Again Jack ran through the deck There were but fifty-one cards.
Suddenly the lad gave a start. He spread the cards out in the bottom
of the boat, making four piles all suits together. He counted the hearts.
They were all there, thirteen of them. He counted the clubs. They were
all there, too. Next he counted the spades. All were there. Last he
counted the diamonds. There were but twelve. Jack arranged them in order.
There was one card shy. Jack found what it was a moment later. There was
no six of diamonds in the deck. For some moments Jack sat silent,
staring at the cards before him. He had been struck with a great light.

"So!" he said to himself at last, "Harris cheated."

"What's that?" said Frank, who had heard Jack's muttered words, but had
not caught their import.

"I said," replied Jack, slowly, "that Harris cheated."

Frank was surprised. A moment later he said: "Well, even if he did, he
lost anyhow."

"That's it," said Jack, quietly. "He didn't lose."

"You mean----" exclaimed Frank, excitedly.

"Yes; I mean that I lost. I should have been the one to stay."

"Impossible," said Frank.

"It's true," declared Jack. "Von Ludwig here says the deck was a full
deck. It's shy a card now. The six of diamonds is missing. That is the
card Harris cut first. You remember he turned aside?"

"Yes, but----"

"That's when he slipped the six of diamonds out of sight and exposed
the deuce of spades."

"What's all this talk about cards?" asked von Ludwig, at this juncture.

Jack explained and for a few moments von Ludwig was lost in thought.

"You know," he said, finally, "I think more of that fellow every minute.
That's the one case I have ever heard of where a man cheated with honor."

There was silence aboard the little craft as it sped over the water, all
three aboard keeping a close watch for the approach of a German vessel
of some sort. Von Ludwig referred to his chart occasionally, for he
wished to steer as clear of mines as possible. They might be deep in the
water and they might be close to the surface. There was no use taking
chances. And while the voyage continued the lads were to be treated to
yet another surprise; but this surprise was to be a pleasure and would
not bring heavy hearts, as had the discovery of the missing card.

"I wish," said Jack, suddenly, to von Ludwig, "that you would
tell me who you really are. I sit here and look at you and know I
should be able to call your name. But I can't do it and it makes it
decidedly unpleasant."

Von Ludwig smiled. "I should have thought you would know me in a minute
in spite of my disguise," he said quietly. "I am sure I should have known
both of you no matter what pains you took to conceal your features."

"You're only making matters worse," said Frank. "Come on now and tell us
who you are."

Again von Ludwig smiled. "I wonder if you can guess who I am when I say
that I can tell you all about yourselves?" he said. "For instance, you,
Jack. You spent most of your life in a little African village. And you,
Frank, are an American who was shanghaied aboard a sailing vessel in
Naples soon after the outbreak of the war."

"By Jove!" said Jack. "Outside of Frank here there is only one man who
knows all that about me."

"And there is but a single man who knows as much of me," declared Frank.
"Can it be----"

For answer von Ludwig rose in his seat and stripped from his face the
heavy German beard that had given him the true Teutonic expression, and
there stood revealed before Jack and Frank none other than Lord
Hastings, their erstwhile commander and good friend. Frank gave a cry
of delight and sprang forward at the imminent risk of upsetting the
motor boat. He seized Lord Hastings' hand and pressed it warmly. The
latter's greeting was no less affectionate. Jack, not so given to
demonstrations as his chum, also advanced and grasped Lord Hasting's
hand.

"You don't know how glad I am to see you again, sir," the lad said
quietly. "It seems like an age since we saw you. And to think that we
didn't recognize you instantly."

"That's what seemed so funny to me," said Lord Hastings. "When I first
saw you aboard that German vessel I was fearful for a minute that you
would recognize me and blurt it out right there."

"But what were you doing there, Lord Hastings?" asked Frank.

"It's a long story," was the latter's reply, "but I guess now is as
good a time as any to explain."

"I wish you would, sir," said Jack.

"Well," said Lord Hastings, "as you know, I told you when we parted
that I had an important diplomatic duty to perform. First, it carried
me to Roumania, where, I may say, I was successful."

"You mean that Roumania has decided to cast in her fortunes with the
Allies, sir?"

"Exactly. She will take that step some time in August, though the exact
date I am unable to say. My mission there at an end, I was ordered to
report to Berlin. As you know, we still maintain a staff of
correspondents in the German capital, although their identities are
closely hidden."

Frank and Jack nodded, for they had known this some time before.

"Well," Lord Hastings continued, "in Berlin I was instructed to learn
what Germany planned to do to offset the Roumanian menace, for she is
sure to know of Roumanians decision by this time. I had some trouble,
but I succeeded at last."

"And what will she do, sir?" asked Frank.

"That," was the reply, "I am unable to state at this minute. It is a
secret that I am guarding carefully and I cannot even tell you lads
about it."

Frank and Jack asked no further questions along that line.

"But how came you aboard the German vessel, sir?" Jack wanted to know.

Lord Hastings smiled.

"In Berlin," he said, "I was supposed to be a Roumanian officer, who
had hopes of changing the attitude of that country. The Kaiser wished
to show me how foolish it would be for the little Balkan state to join
the Allies, and for that reason, had me shown through the German naval
fortifications. That information, too, I am carrying back with me."

"But why didn't you tell us who you were in Bremen, sir?"

"I don't know. At first I guess because I wanted to surprise you both
when you did learn who I was."

"But you told us not to try and learn who you were."

"Well, that was for a good reason. For, if you should have sought to
pry, it might have aroused suspicions and there is no telling what
would have happened."

"I see, sir," said Frank. "But you almost lost us when you didn't get
back in time."

"I know that now. I wouldn't do the same thing again."

"And what are you going to do after you return to London, sir?" Frank
wanted to know.

Again Lord Hastings smiled.

"That's hard to tell," he replied. "Still, I imagine it will not be
very long before I feel a deck under my heels again."

"You mean you will leave the diplomatic service again, sir?" asked
Jack.

"I expect to. The king promised me a new command before he despatched
me to the Balkans. But I do not know how long I shall be kept waiting."

"And when you get it, sir, will we go back with you?" asked Frank.

"Why," was the reply, "I should have thought that by this time you
would perhaps have changed your minds."

"Never, sir," declared Jack, positively. "We would rather serve under
you, sir."

"I'll see what can be done," Lord Hastings promised.

And with that the lads were forced to be content. Still, they knew well
enough that Lord Hastings would do what he could to have them with him
again.

"The main thing now," said Lord Hastings, "is to dodge the enemy and
get back to England."

"With you here, sir," said Frank, "I am sure we shall get back safely."

And Frank proved a good prophet.

All that day they made their way slowly through the North Sea. Several
times enemy ships were sighted, but, because the little motor boat lay
so low in the water, the Germans did not see them.

With the coming of night, however, Lord Hastings increased the speed of
the little craft. He felt that they were now beyond the German mine
fields and that if another vessel were encountered it probably would be
British.

And this proved to be the case.

Along toward morning of the second day, a British cruiser bore down on
them. Soon all were aboard the vessel, which, when Lord Hastings
informed the commander of the nature of the papers he carried, turned
about and headed for London.

A day or two later, Frank and Jack again found themselves installed in
the comfortable home of Lord Hastings, where they sat down to await
what time might bring forth--confident, however, that it would not be
long before they were upon active service under the command of their
good friend, Lord Hastings.





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