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Title: Dave Darrin on Mediterranean Service - or, With Dan Dalzell on European Duty
Author: Hancock, H. Irving (Harrie Irving), 1868-1922
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dave Darrin on Mediterranean Service - or, With Dan Dalzell on European Duty" ***

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[Illustration: "Dave caught at the knife-wrist."

_Frontispiece_]



Dave Darrin on Mediterranean Service


        With Dan Dalzell on European Duty

        By

        H. IRVING HANCOCK

 Author of "Dave Darrin at Vera Cruz," "Dave Darrin's
   South American Cruise," The West Point Series,
      The Annapolis Series, The Boys of the
           Army Series, Etc., etc.

        Illustrated

        P H I L A D E L P H I A
        HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY



        COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY
        HOWARD E. ALTEMUS



CONTENTS


                                                      PAGE


  CHAPTER I--GREEN HAT, THE TROUBLE-STARTER               11

     Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, while ashore at
     Gibraltar, have an exciting experience with a spy
     and stir up a deep mystery.


  CHAPTER II--DAN'S THIRTY-THREE-DOLLAR GUESS             27

     Admiral Timworth solves the mystery for the ensigns
     and amazes them very much.


  CHAPTER III--THE STARTLER AT MONTE CARLO                43

     Danny turns a trick on a brother officer. Ashore at
     Monte Carlo the young ensigns find the makings of
     future trouble.


  CHAPTER IV--MR. GREEN HAT'S NEW RÔLE                    55

     Dave loses a human trail and saves a human life.
     Then the plot begins to thicken.


  CHAPTER V--DANNY GRIN FIGHTS A SMILE                    70

     Mr. Green Hat sets a trap at the gambling resort,
     into which Ensign Dalzell smilingly walks.


  CHAPTER VI--DAVE RUNS INTO A REAL THRILL                78

     A desperate plot to involve his country heard by
     Dave Darrin, who acts swiftly on the information he
     has obtained.


  CHAPTER VII--THE ADMIRAL UNLOADS HIS MIND               87

     Called before the Admiral, the young officers make
     their report. The former sends a wireless to
     Washington, later summoning the ensigns to his
     quarters for secret orders.


  CHAPTER VIII--ON LIVELY SPECIAL DUTY                    96

     A delicate international situation is explained to
     Dave and Danny, who are then ordered ashore at
     Naples on a special and perilous mission.


  CHAPTER IX--M. DALNY PLANS A TRAGEDY                   102

     Darrin meets one of the men he is looking for. As a
     result of that meeting he and Dan are sentenced to
     death.


  CHAPTER X--TREACHERY HAS THE FLOOR                     116

     Enticed away for a drive, the Naval officers find
     themselves in a disreputable section of Naples and
     on the threshold of a tragedy.


  CHAPTER XI--HEMMED IN BY THE BRAVOS                    124

     Dave and Dan are attacked by a mob of Sicilian
     bravos and fight a desperate battle to save their
     own lives.


  CHAPTER XII--EVIL EYES ON SAILORMAN RUNKLE             132

     The young officers now discover the real reason for
     the attempt on their lives, but, though they do not
     know it, fresh perils await them.


  CHAPTER XIII--ORDERS CHANGE IN A MINUTE                138

     Able Seaman Runkle, bearing an important
     communication from Darrin to the Captain of the
     U. S. S. "Hudson," gets into serious difficulties.


  CHAPTER XIV--DAN HAS VERY "COLD FEET"         151

     Beset by spies, the two young officers set out on a
     long journey after an exciting start, later finding
     that they have been guilty of a grave oversight.


  CHAPTER XV--AT THE AMERICAN EMBASSY                    161

     Dave and Danny arrive in Paris, where they are the
     guests of the American Ambassador. Darrin trails an
     international plotter and makes an important
     discovery.


  CHAPTER XVI--"SEEING" THE PARIS APACHES                179

     The young ensign, after picking up a valuable clew,
     is attacked by savage Paris Apaches, who, angered by
     his defense, determine to take his life.


  CHAPTER XVII--DAVE'S GUESS AT THE BIG PLOT             189

     The details of a plan to involve the United States
     in war with England are unfolded to his Admiral by
     Ensign Dave.


  CHAPTER XVIII--SURIGNY'S NEXT MOVE                     198

     English and American officers join hands and one
     gets a remarkable message from an international
     plotter as the trail grows hot.


  CHAPTER XIX--TRUTH, OR FRENCH ROMANCE                  207

     Dave meets an acquaintance and listens to an
     astounding confession.


  CHAPTER XX--THE ALLIES CLEAR FOR ACTION                213

     "A submarine will sink the British battleship
     to-night," is the startling information imparted by
     Dave to his companions.


  CHAPTER XXI--MAKING STERN WORK OF IT                   223

     The young American Naval officer in command of a
     boarding party on the plotter's yacht, is neatly
     trapped.


  CHAPTER XXII--AFTER THE PEST OF THE SEAS               233

     Ensign Darrin and his crew on the Navy launch make
     an exciting discovery after accomplishing a
     brilliant capture.


  CHAPTER XXIII--THE PUZZLE OF THE DEEP                  240

     While engaged in a thrilling chase after an undersea
     boat the launch's company find the tables
     unexpectedly turned on them.


  CHAPTER XXIV--CONCLUSION                               249

     The pursuit comes to a stirring finish, with Able
     Seaman Runkle's reputation saved and Ensign Darrin
     highly honored.



DAVE DARRIN

ON MEDITERRANEAN SERVICE



CHAPTER I

GREEN HAT, THE TROUBLE-STARTER


"Dan," whispered Dave Darrin, Ensign, United States Navy, to his chum
and brother officer, "do you see that fellow with the green Alpine hat
and the green vest?"

"Yes," nodded Dan Dalzell.

"Watch him."

"Why?"

"He's a powerful brute, and it looks as though he's spoiling for a
fight."

"You are not going to oblige him, are you?" asked Dalzell in a
whisper, betraying surprise.

"Nothing like it," Darrin responded disgustedly. "Danny Grin, don't
you credit me with more sense than that? Do you imagine I'd engage in
a fight in a place like this?"

"Then why are you interested in what the fellow might do?" demanded
Ensign Dan.

"Because I think there is going to be a lively time here. That fellow
under the Alpine hat is equal to at least four of these spindling
Spanish waiters. There is going to be trouble within four minutes, or
I'm a poor guesser."

"Just let Mr. Green Hat start something," chuckled Ensign Dalzell in
an undertone. "There are plenty of stalwart British soldiers here, and
'Tommy Atkins' never has been known to be averse to a good fair fight.
The soldiers will wipe up the floor with him. Then there is the
provost guard, patrolling the streets of Gibraltar. If Mr. Green Hat
grows too noisy the provost guard will gather him in."

"And might also gather us in, if the provost officer thought us
intelligent witnesses," muttered Darrin.

"That would be all right, too," grinned Dan. "There is bound to be a
British army officer in command of the provost guard. As soon as we
handed him cards showing us to be American naval officers he'd raise
his cap to us, and that would be the end of it."

"I don't like to be present at rows in a place of this kind," Ensign
Darrin insisted.

"Then we'd better be going," proposed Ensign Dalzell.

The place was Gibraltar, and the time nine o'clock in the evening. The
two friends were seated well back in one of the several Spanish
vaudeville theatres that flourish more or less in the city on the
Great Rock, even in such times as this period of the great European
War.

The theatre was not a low place, or it would not have been permitted
to exist in Gibraltar, which, even in peace times, is under the
strictest military rule, made much more strict at the beginning of the
great war. The performance was an ordinary one and rather dull. At the
moment three Spanish women occupied the stage, going rather hopelessly
through the steps of an aimless dance, while three musicians ground
out the music for the dancers. The next number, as announced on a card
that hung at one side of the stage, was to be a pantomime.

One particularly unpleasant feature only was to be noted in the place.
Wines and liquors were served to those who chose to order them,
Spanish waiters passing up and down the aisles in search of custom.

Mr. Green Hat, to the knowledge of Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, had
been a much too frequent customer. He was now arguing with two waiters
about an alleged mistake in the changing of the money he had handed
one of them. From angry remonstrance Mr. Green Hat was now resorting
to abusive language.

"I'd like to implant a wallop under that rowdy's chin," muttered Dan
Dalzell, as he started to rise.

"Don't try it," warned Ensign Dave, as he, too, rose.

Just then the lightning struck; the storm broke.

With an angry bellow, Mr. Green Hat leaped to his feet, knocking down
one of the waiters. Four others rushed to the spot. The five promptly
assailed Mr. Green Hat, and were swiftly reinforced by the one who had
been floored.

But the stalwart, active brawler proved to be too much for the
combined force of the waiters. As if they had been so many reeds, Mr.
Green Hat brushed them aside with his fists.

"Grab the bloomin' rotter and throw 'im h'out!" bellowed a "Tommy
Atkins," as the British soldier is collectively known.

A new note, in a decidedly American tone of protest, rose above the
uproar.

"How dare you? What do you mean, fellow?" demanded a young man in a
gray traveling suit, glaring up from the floor, to which he, an
unoffending occupant of an aisle seat, had suddenly been hurled.

It was too much for Dan Dalzell, who promptly attempted to seize Mr.
Green Hat as that individual, with the momentum of a steam roller,
rushed up the aisle.

Dalzell reached out a hand to grip Mr. Green Hat by the collar. All
too promptly a heavy fist smote Dan in the chest, knocking him back
into the arms of Dave Darrin. Dave himself could not act quickly
enough to avenge the blow that had been dealt his chum, because Dan's
body blocked the way.

Four or five British soldiers at the rear of the little theatre tried
to intercept Mr. Green Hat as he dashed up the aisle. Three of the
"Messrs. Atkins" went to the floor, under the seats, while the others
were brushed aside, and Mr. Green Hat reached the street.

"Stop that thief!" roared the young man in the gray suit. "He has
robbed me!"

By this time Dalzell was again on his feet and out in the aisle. He
sprinted for the street, followed closely by Dave Darrin. The young
man in the gray suit, his face pallid, plunged after the young naval
officers.

"You're an American, aren't you?" called Dave, over his shoulder.

"Yes," answered he of the gray suit, "and in official life at
Washington, too. That scoundrel has robbed me of something of value to
the United States government."

That was enough for Darrin and Dalzell. Though the charge might prove
to be false, it was enough to cancel Dave's scruples against
fighting.

Out into the street ahead of them ran a waiter, who had taken no part
in the scrimmage, waving his arms and shouting:

"_Esta dirección!_" ("This way!")

"_Sigue andando!_" ("Keep right on!") roared Danny Grin, darting down
the street at a hard pace.

But a moment later both naval officers, followed by the young man in
gray and the waiter, came to a halt, for, directly ahead of them, on
the well-lighted street, suddenly appeared a patrol detachment of the
British provost guard.

"Did you stop the fellow who ran this way, sir?" hailed Ensign Darrin,
as he recognized the uniform of the British infantry officer in
command of the detachment.

"We didn't see any man running this way," replied the British
lieutenant, smartly returning the salute that Ensign Darrin had given
him.

"Didn't _see_ any fellow running?" repeated three Americans, in tones
of bewilderment.

"We were chasing a thief, sir," Darrin continued, "and this waiter
told us that the fugitive ran this way."

"I--I thought he did," stammered the waiter in Spanish, though it was
now plain that he understood English.

In deep disgust and with dawning suspicion, Dave Darrin glared at the
waiter until that fellow changed color and trembled slightly. Dave
was now certain that the waiter, probably by previous arrangement, had
shielded the escape of Mr. Green Hat.

Turning to the English officer, Dave quickly recounted what had
happened. At the same time he introduced himself and Dan as American
naval officers, and both tendered their cards.

"And you, sir? Who are you, and what did you lose?" inquired the
British officer, turning to the young man in the gray suit.

"May I answer that question to an officer of my own country?" appealed
the young man in the gray suit.

"Yes," assented the British officer, after keenly regarding the
stranger who claimed to have been robbed.

"Will you step a few yards down the street with me?" urged the unknown
American, addressing Dave.

"Certainly," Darrin nodded, for he saw insistent appeal in the
stranger's gaze.

"Mr. Darrin," began the stranger, using the name he had heard Dave
announce in the introductions to the Britisher, "do you really belong
to the American Navy?"

"I do, indeed," Darrin answered. "I am attached to the battleship
'Hudson,' now lying in this harbor."

"Then I will introduce myself," continued the young man in the gray
suit. "My name is George Cushing. Do you recognize the meaning of
this?"

"This" proved to be a small gold badge, revealed by Cushing as he
turned back the lapel of his coat. It was a badge worn by men
belonging to a special branch of the secret service of the American
Department of State. The members of this special service are usually
found, if found at all, on duty in foreign countries.

"I know the badge, Mr. Cushing," nodded Dave Darrin. "Now, what have
you to tell me?"

"That big man with the green hat must have started that fight with the
waiters in the theatre to cover his intended attack on me," Cushing
replied. "At the moment of knocking me down, he snatched from my coat
pocket and made off with a most important document."

"Then you almost deserved to lose it, sir," replied Darrin sternly,
"as a punishment for wasting your time in such a place as that
theatre."

"I must see the American admiral as soon as possible," urged Cushing,
ignoring Darrin's reproof. "But first of all, I must ask you to pass
me safely by that provost guard, or I might be detained at a time when
I cannot afford to lose a single instant. You will vouch for me,
won't you, Mr. Darrin? Here are my formal credentials," continued
Cushing, producing and unfolding a wallet that contained properly
sealed and signed credentials from the American Department of State.

"The paper that was stolen from you did not in any way relate to the
defenses and fortifications here at Gibraltar, did it?" Dave asked.

"Not in the least," Cushing replied promptly.

"You give me your word of honor for that?" Dave asked bluntly.

"Do you believe I'd waste my time on such rubbish as that?" demanded
Cushing, scornfully. "Why, every civilized government on earth
possesses accurate plans of the fortifications at Gibraltar! I give
you my word of honor, Mr. Darrin, that the paper stolen from me did
not in any way relate to the Gibraltar fortifications."

"Then I'll do my best to get you by the provost guard," Ensign Darrin
promised, turning to lead the way back.

"Sir," Dave announced to Lieutenant Abercrombie, commanding the
provost guard detachment, "I beg to report, on what I regard as the
best of authority, that there is no reason why my countryman, Mr.
Cushing, should be detained by you."

"Then that of which he claims to have been robbed is nothing that
could officially interest me?" pressed the British officer.

"I am certain that the matter could not interest a British officer,
except in his desire to see a thief caught," Ensign Darrin vouched.

"That is all, then," replied Lieutenant Abercrombie. "Gentlemen, you
are at liberty to proceed on your way."

In the meantime the Spanish waiter had slipped back to the theatre.

Dave and Dan saluted, the Englishman doing the same. Then Lieutenant
Abercrombie gave each of these brothers in arms a hearty handclasp.
The men of the provost guard parted to allow the three Americans to
pass on their way.

"And now where do you wish to go, Mr. Cushing?" Dave inquired, after
they had passed the British provost guard.

"I suppose you expect me to search for the thief," rejoined the man
from the State Department. "But that would now be worse than a waste
of time. Gibraltar, quaint Moorish city that it is, is so full of
holes in the wall that it would be impossible to find the thief, for
he will not venture out again to-night. The best thing I can do will
be to go straight to the American admiral, and you gentlemen, I
imagine, can take me there."

"A launch will put off from the mole for the flagship at ten
o'clock," Dave informed him. "We may as well go down to the mole and
wait."

Twice, on the way, after leaving the more crowded parts of the city
behind, the three were challenged by English sentries invisible in the
darkness.

"Who goes there?" came the sentry's hail in each instance.

"Officers from the American flagship," Darrin answered for the party.

"Pass on, gentlemen," came the response out of the darkness.

At all times strict watch over all comers outside the British army
service is kept at Gibraltar, and after dark this vigilance is
doubled.

"On a moonless night like this, one would imagine that Gibraltar, save
for the few blocks of 'city,' held few human beings," murmured Dan, as
the three continued on at a quiet walk toward the water front. "One
gets the impression that there are but a few sentries, sprinkled here
and there, yet we know there are thousands of British soldiers
scattered over this rock."

"Hardly scattered," smiled Dave Darrin. "Except for the guard, men and
officers are alike in barracks, and many of the barracks are at rather
long distances from the fortifications."

Nor are the fortifications to be found along the water front. Back on
the great hill of rock are gun embrasures, often cut into the face of
the rock itself. Back of the embrasures are galleries cut through the
stone, and here, in time of siege, the soldiers would stand behind the
huge guns.

Gibraltar's harbor is small, though large enough to hold a great
fleet. In the days when cannon had shorter range than now, a British
fleet might have hidden in the harbor and been secure against all the
fleets of the world, for the guns of the huge fortress could have sunk
the combined navies of the world, had they attempted to enter the
harbor. In these modern days Gibraltar is not so secure, for the
heights of Algeciras, in Spain, are only about seven miles away. If
Spain were at war with Great Britain, or if any other power took the
heights of Algeciras from Spain, guns could be mounted on those
heights that would dominate the harbor of Gibraltar. None the less, as
long as war exists and the huge stone height of Gibraltar remains, the
impression of strong military force will abide with the rock.

Down at the mole a British sentry stopped the trio. Near him stood a
corporal and three other soldiers.

"American officers and a friend," replied Ensign Darrin, when halted
by this sentry. Then the trio advanced when ordered. Lieutenant
Totten, from the 'Hudson,' stepped forward, peered at Darrin and
Dalzell, and said to the corporal:

"I recognize these gentlemen as officers of ours."

"And the friend?" inquired the corporal.

"The friend is an American citizen who has business with Admiral
Timworth," Dave stated.

"Then it is all right," Lieutenant Totten assured the corporal.

Whereupon the British corporal permitted Cushing to step out on the
mole with his companions, Darrin and Dalzell.

"Which is the flagship launch?" asked Darrin.

"The rearmost," answered Lieutenant Totten. "Ours is the only launch
here. The two other launches belong to the warships of other powers."

Cushing, while this brief conversation was going on, had walked
rapidly along the mole until he reached the farthest launch.

"I want you!" he shouted, bending over suddenly.

He had found and seized by the coat collar the man with the green hat.

Dave and Dan rushed to the spot, hardly knowing what they could do, as
they did not want to see the representative of the American State
Department lack for backing.

"Pull Cushing away from that fellow," ordered Totten.

"Is that an official order?" Dave flashed back, in a whisper.

"It is," nodded Totten, and faded back into the blackness of the
night.

Dave bounded forward. He saw that the launch was one belonging to some
liner or merchant ship in the harbor. Three or four men belonging in
that launch had leaped to the rescue of Mr. Green Hat. Dave, with one
tug, tore Cushing away.

Mr. Green Hat fell back in the launch. Two sailors belonging to that
craft cast off the lines at bow and stern, and the launch glided out
into the harbor.

"Why didn't you help me, instead of putting the double cross on me?"
Cushing demanded, angrily.

"I had my reasons," Ensign Darrin replied, briefly.

"They must have been good ones," muttered Cushing.

"All aboard for the flagship!" announced Lieutenant Totten, in a quiet
tone.

"Come along, if you're going out with us," Darrin urged Cushing.

The passengers for the flagship launch were speedily aboard. Other
officers were there who had been ashore for the evening.

As the launch was cast off she glided almost noiselessly across the
smooth water of the harbor, followed closely by the shifting rays of a
British searchlight on shore. Ever since the great European war had
started searchlights stationed on shore had followed the movements of
every craft in the harbor at night. Beyond, the flagship's few lights
glowed brightly. In a few minutes the party was alongside.

Dave and Dan, after saluting the officer of the deck, and reporting
their presence on board, went at once to Dave's quarters.

"There was a good deal of a mix-up, somewhere," Dan announced, at
once. "Why should Totten order you to drag Cushing away from Mr. Green
Hat, when that rascal had robbed Cushing of valuable government
papers?"

"It's too big a puzzle for me," Ensign Darrin admitted, promptly. "But
Lieutenant Totten is my superior officer, and the responsibility
belongs to him."

For a few minutes the two chums chatted. Dalzell was about to say good
night and go to his own quarters, when an orderly rapped at the door,
then entered, saluting.

"The admiral's compliments, gentlemen," said the messenger. "The
admiral wishes to see Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell at once."

"Our compliments, and we will report at once," Dave answered. Both
young officers were now in uniform, for Dan had left his in Dave's
quarters before going ashore, and the chums had changed their clothes
while chatting. It now remained only for Dave to reach for his sword
and fasten it on, then draw on white gloves, while Dalzell went to his
quarters, next door, and did the same.

"What can be in the wind?" whispered Dan. "This is the first time that
Admiral Timworth has ever expressed any desire to see us. Can it be
that we bungled in some way with the Cushing business?"

"I'm not going to waste any time in guessing," replied Ensign Darrin,
as they stepped briskly along, "when I'm going to have the answer
presented to me so soon."

Then they halted before the entrance to the admiral's quarters, to
learn if it would be agreeable for the admiral to receive them at
once.



CHAPTER II

DAN'S THIRTY-THREE-DOLLAR GUESS


As the two young officers entered the admiral's quarters the curtains
were closed behind them by the marine orderly.

Admiral Timworth was seated at his desk. Beside him was Captain Allen,
commanding officer of the battleship "Hudson," flagship of the
Mediterranean Squadron.

Lieutenant Totten and Cushing were also present.

"Good evening, gentlemen," was Admiral Timworth's greeting, after
salutes had been exchanged. "Accidentally, you became spectators this
evening, at a little drama connected with both the diplomatic and the
secret service of your country."

The admiral paused, but both young officers remained respectfully at
attention, making no response, as none was needed.

"You are aware," continued the admiral, "that Mr. Cushing was knocked
down and robbed of an important government paper. Now, it happens that
this paper was the key to a code employed by the State and Navy
Departments in communicating with naval commanders abroad."

This time Dave actually started. The loss of such a code would be
vitally important. The State and Navy Departments almost invariably
communicate with naval commanders by means of a secret code, which can
be read only by commanders possessing the key. Thus, when cablegrams
are sent from stations in foreign countries, their import can be
understood only by the officers to whom the communications are
addressed.

"That strikes you as a most serious loss, does it not?" asked Admiral
Timworth, smiling.

"Why, yes, sir; so it would seem," Dave answered, bowing.

"The code that was stolen to-night," laughed the admiral, "will be of
but little value to the government into whose hands it may fall. The
code in question was one that was used in the year 1880, and has not
been employed since. Nor is it likely ever to be employed again."

Captain Allen joined in the admiral's laugh.

"We had every reason," continued the admiral, "to believe that an
attempt would be made to steal that code ere Mr. Cushing delivered it
to me. In fact, our government allowed it to be rather widely known
that Mr. Cushing had left Washington to turn over to me a code. So, of
course, Mr. Cushing has been followed. As a matter of fact, the code
that we have been using for the last six months has not been changed.
I was delighted when I learned that Cushing had been assaulted and
robbed. Mr. Cushing himself took the loss seriously, for he did not
know, until he came aboard a few moments ago, that the United States
government had hoped he _would_ be robbed. Lieutenant Totten was sent
ashore, ostensibly to look after the launch, but in reality, to learn,
if possible, whether Cushing's assailant put off in the launch of
another power, and if so, which power. Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, you
noted, did you not, the nationality of the launch in which Mr.
Cushing's assailant escaped?"

"I did not, sir," Dave replied. "It was not a naval launch, and
therefore did not belong to any ships belonging to the Entente Allies'
naval vessels in port here."

"Then, gentlemen," continued Admiral Timworth, his voice in tones of
formal command, "you will not at any time mention this matter to any
one unless so directed by me. I have had just one object in sending
for you and giving you this order. For some time our Government has
known that secret efforts are being made to discredit us with the
allied powers of Europe. I feel rather certain that this fleet, while
in the Mediterranean, will be closely watched by plotters serving one
of the Central European powers, or else acting on their own account in
the hope of being able to succeed and then claim reward from that
government. Keep your eyes open. You may meet other spies and have
reason to suspect them to be such. Do not be fooled by the apparent
nationality of any man's name. A spy uses many names in his course
around the world. Few international spies ever use their own names.
The man in the green hat, who assaulted Mr. Cushing to-night, is one
of the cleverest of his kind, and perhaps the most able with whom we
shall have to contend. The fellow's name is supposed to be Emil
Gortchky. At one time or another he has served as spy for nearly every
government in Europe. He is a daring, dangerous, and wholly
unscrupulous fellow. Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, I sent for you in
order to tell you these things, and to add that if, during this
cruise, you run across the fellow at any point, you are to report the
fact to me promptly. Of course you will understand that the seal of
official secrecy attaches to all that I have said. That is all,
gentlemen. Good evening."

Saluting, Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell promptly withdrew. They were
still a good deal puzzled.

"I'll come to your quarters in a minute, if I may," murmured Danny
Grin, as he reached the door of his own cabin.

"I want you to come," Dave answered dryly.

So, in another minute, Dan Dalzell, minus sword and gloves, bobbed
into Dave's room.

"Now, what do you make out of all we have heard and seen?" breathed
Dalzell tensely.

"Just what the admiral told us," answered Darrin.

"Nothing more?" pressed Dan.

Dave was thoughtful for a few moments before he replied:

"Danny, boy, we have our orders from the commander of the fleet. If we
encounter Mr. Green Hat anywhere in the future, we are to report the
fact. That is the extent of our instructions, and I think we shall do
very well not to think too much about the matter, but to be ready, at
all times, to follow our orders."

"I was in hope that you could evolve something more romantic than
that," returned Dalzell disappointedly.

"It is very likely," went on Dave judicially, "that we have already
had as large a hand in the affair as we are going to have. I doubt if
we shall hear anything more of Mr. Green Hat; even if we hear of his
further deeds, we are not likely to have any personal part in them."

"I'm disappointed," Dan admitted, rising. "I'm going to bed now, for I
have to be up at half-past three, to turn out on watch at eight
bells. You, lucky dog, have no watch to stand until after breakfast.
Good night, Dave!"

"Good night; and don't dream of Mr. Green Hat," smiled Darrin. "You'll
never see him again."

In that prediction Ensign Darrin was destined to find himself
fearfully wide of the mark. Mr. Green Hat was not to be so easily
dropped from the future calculations of the youngest naval officers on
the "Hudson."

None of our readers require any introduction to Dave Darrin and Dan
Dalzell, ofttimes known as "Danny Grin." These two fast friends in the
naval service were members of "Dick & Co.," a famous sextette of
schoolboys in Gridley. Dick Prescott, Greg Holmes, Dave Darrin, Dan
Dalzell, Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton first appeared in the pages of
"THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL BOYS SERIES," in which volumes were described the
early lives of these young American schoolboys.

We found the six boys again in the pages of the "HIGH SCHOOL BOYS
SERIES," in the volumes of which the athletic triumphs of Dick & Co.
were vividly set forth. In the "HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' VACATION SERIES"
were recounted their further adventures.

At the conclusion of their high school careers the six chums separated
to seek different fields of endeavor. Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes
secured appointments as cadets at the United States Military Academy
at West Point, as narrated in the "WEST POINT SERIES." Dave Darrin and
Dan Dalzell were nominated as midshipmen to the United States Naval
Academy at Annapolis, and all that befell them there is set forth in
the "ANNAPOLIS SERIES." The great things that happened to Tom Reade
and Harry Hazelton are told in the volumes of the "YOUNG ENGINEERS
SERIES." Dick Prescott's and Greg Holmes' adventures in the Army,
after graduation from West Point, are set forth in the volumes of the
"BOYS OF THE ARMY SERIES."

The "DAVE DARRIN SERIES" is devoted to the lives of Dave Darrin and
Dan Dalzell as naval officers, after their graduation from the Naval
Academy. We now find them serving as ensigns, this being the lowest
rank among commissioned officers of the United States Navy.

The first volume of this series, published under the title, "DAVE
DARRIN AT VERA CRUZ," tells the story of Dave's and Dan's initial
active service in the United States Navy. That our two young ensigns
took an exciting part in the fighting there is known to all our
readers.

For some time after the taking of Vera Cruz by the United States
forces and the arrival of Regular Army regiments, Dave and Dan
continued to serve with constant credit aboard the "Long Island,"
stationed at Vera Cruz. Then followed their detachment from the "Long
Island," and their return to the United States. They were then ordered
to duty with the Mediterranean Squadron, aboard the flagship "Hudson."
We already know what befell them on their arrival at their first port
of call, the British fortress of Gibraltar, and in the quaint old
Moorish city of the same name, which stands between the fortress and
the harbor.

       *       *       *       *       *

Dan soon took his leave of his chum, going to his own quarters for a
short sleep before going on duty at eight bells in the morning. Dave,
having opportunity to sleep until shortly before breakfast, sat for
some minutes pondering over his strange meeting with Mr. Green Hat,
whom he now knew as Emil Gortchky, a notorious international spy.

Still puzzling, Darrin turned out the light and dropped into his
berth. Once there the habit of the service came strongly upon him. He
was between the sheets to sleep, so, with a final sigh, he shut out
thoughts of Mr. Green Hat, of the admiral's remarks, and of the whole
train of events of the evening. Within a hundred and twenty seconds he
was sound asleep. It was an orderly going the rounds in the early
morning who spoke to Ensign Darrin and awakened him.

"Is the ship under way?" asked Dave, rolling over and opening his
eyes.

"Aye, aye, sir," responded the orderly, who then wheeled and departed.

Dave was quickly out of his berth, and dressed in time to join the
gathering throng of the "Hudson's" officers in the ward-room, where
every officer, except the captain, takes his meals.

"Have you heard the port for which we're bound, Danny?" Darrin asked
his chum.

"Not a word," replied Dalzell, shaking his head.

"Perhaps we shall find out at breakfast," commented Dave.

A minute later the signal came for the officers to seat themselves.
Then, after orders had been given to the attentive Filipino boys, who
served as mess attendants, a buzz of conversation ran around the
table.

Soon the heavy, booming voice of Lieutenant Commander Metson was heard
as he asked Commander Dawson, the executive officer:

"Sir, are we privileged to ask our port of destination?"

This is a question often put to the executive officer of a war vessel,
for ninety-nine times out of a hundred he knows the answer. He _may_
smile and reply:

"I do not know."

Sometimes the executive officer, who is the captain's confidential
man, has good reasons for not divulging the destination of the ship.
In that case his denial of knowledge is understood to be only a
courteous statement that he does not deem it discreet to name the port
of destination.

But in this instance Commander Dawson smiled and replied:

"I will not make any secret of our destination so far as I know it. We
are bound for some port on the Riviera. It may be Nice, or perhaps
Monte Carlo. I am informed that the admiral has not yet decided
definitely. I shall be quite ready to tell you, Mr. Metson, as soon as
I know."

"Thank you, sir," courteously acknowledged the lieutenant commander.

During this interval the buzz of conversation had died down. It soon
began again.

"The Riviera!" exclaimed Ensign Dalzell jubilantly, though in a low
tone intended mainly for his chum's ear. "I have always wanted to see
that busy little strip of beach."

The Riviera, as will be seen by reference to a map of Southern Europe,
is a narrow strip of land, between the mountains and the sea, running
around the Gulf of Genoa. One of the most important watering places on
this long strip of beach is Nice, on French soil, where multitudes of
health and pleasure seekers flock annually. The mild, nearly tropical
climate of this place in winter makes Nice one of the most attractive
resorts along the Riviera. Only a few miles distant from Nice is the
principality of Monte Carlo, an independent state under a prince who
is absolute ruler of his tiny country. Monaco is but two and a quarter
miles long, while its width varies from a hundred and sixty-five yards
to eleven hundred yards. Yet this "toy country" is large enough to
contain three towns of fair size. The most noted town, Monte Carlo,
stands mainly on a cliff, and is the location of the most notorious
gambling resort in the world, the "Casino."

"I wonder," suggested one of the younger officers, in a rumbling
voice, "if our Government feels that we officers have more money than
we need, and so is sending us to a place where we can get rid of it by
gambling. What do you say, Darrin?"

"Monte Carlo is one of the noted spots of the world," Dave responded
slowly, "and I shall be glad to see a place of which I have heard and
read so much. But I shall not gamble at Monte Carlo. I can make better
use of my money and of my character."

"Bravo!" agreed Totten.

"How long is that strip of beach, the Riviera?" asked one officer of
Lieutenant Commander Wales, the navigating officer.

"From Nice to Genoa, which is what is commonly understood as the real
Riviera," replied the navigating officer; "the distance is one hundred
and sixteen miles. But, beyond Genoa, on the other side, the beach
continues for fifty-six miles to Spezia. On the strip from Genoa to
Spezia the shore is so rocky that it has been found necessary to
construct eighty-odd tunnels through the headlands for the railway
that runs the whole length of the Riviera."

Most of the talk, during that breakfast hour, was about the Riviera,
and much of that had to do with Monte Carlo.

"For years I've wanted very particularly to see that town of Monte
Carlo," Danny Grin confessed.

"Not to gamble, I hope," replied Dave.

"Millions for sight-seeing, but not a cent for gambling," Dalzell
paraphrased lightly.

"Gentlemen," warned Mr. Wales, "don't be too certain that you'll see
Monte Carlo on this cruise. Often the weather is too rough for a
landing in that vicinity."

"And in that case?" queried Lieutenant Totten.

"In that case," replied Wales, "the usual rule is for the ship to go
on to anchorage in the harbor at Genoa."

"Any one know whether the barometer is talking about a storm?" Dalzell
asked.

"That's a foolish question," remarked Lieutenant Barnes grouchily.

"Hello!" said Danny Grin, turning half around and eyeing the last
speaker. "You here?"

"As usual," nodded Barnes gruffly.

"What was that you said about a foolish question?" demanded Dan.

"I was referring to your habit of asking foolish questions," retorted
Barnes.

"Do I ask any more of them than you do?" Dalzell retorted, a bit
gruffly.

"You do," Barnes declared, "and that's one of them."

"If I thought I asked more foolish questions than you do, sir," Dan
rejoined, laying down his coffee cup, "I'd--"

Here Dalzell paused.

"What would you do?" Barnes insisted.

"On second thought," Dan went on gravely, "I don't believe I'll tell
you. It was something desperate that I was thinking of."

"Then drop the idea, Dalzell," scoffed Lieutenant Barnes lightly.
"You're hardly the fellow we'd look to for desperate deeds."

"Oh, am I not?" demanded Dan, for once a bit miffed.

Several of the officers glanced up apprehensively. From necessity,
life in the ward-room is an oppressively close one at best. A feud
between two officers of the mess is enough to make all hands
uncomfortable much of the time.

"Cut it, Barnes," ordered the officer sitting on the right-hand side
of Lieutenant Barnes. "Don't start any argument."

"Gentlemen," broke in the paymaster, anxious to change the topic of
conversation, "have you gone so far with your meal that a little bad
news won't spoil your appetites?"

Most of those present nodded, smilingly.

"Then," continued the paymaster, "I wish to bring up a matter that has
been discussed here before. You all know that in some way, owing to
the carelessness of some one, there is an unexplained shortage of
thirty-three dollars in our mess-fund. You appointed Totten and myself
a committee to look into the matter. We now beg to report that the
thirty-three dollars cannot be accounted for. What is your pleasure in
the matter?"

"I would call it very simple," replied Lieutenant Commander Wales.
"Why not levy an assessment upon the members of this mess sufficient
to make up the thirty-three dollars? It will amount to very little
apiece."

That way of remedying the shortage would have been agreed to promptly,
had not Lieutenant Barnes cut in eagerly:

"I've a better plan for making up the shortage. One man can pay it
all, as a penalty, and there will be a lot of fun in deciding which
member has to pay the penalty."

"What's the idea, Mr. Barnes?" asked the executive officer.

"It's simple enough," Barnes went on, grinning. "Let us set apart the
dinner hour on Tuesday evening, say. Every time this mess gets
together we hear a lot of foolish questions asked. Now, on Tuesday
evening, if any member of this mess asks a question that he can't
answer himself, let it be agreed that he pay into the mess a fine of
thirty-three dollars to cover the shortage."

"It won't work," objected Totten. "Every officer at this table will be
on his guard not to ask any questions at all."

"In that case," proposed Barnes, "let the rule hold over on each
successive Tuesday evening until the victim is found and has paid his
fine."

"It sounds like sport," agreed Dave Darrin.

"It will be sport to see the victim 'stung' and made to pay up,"
grinned Dan Dalzell.

"And I think I know, already," contended Lieutenant Barnes, "which
officer will pay that shortage."

"Are you looking at me with any particular significance?" demanded
Danny Grin.

"I am," Barnes admitted.

"Oh, well, then, we shall see what we shall see," quoth Dalzell, his
color rising.

The scheme for fixing the thirty-three-dollar penalty was quickly
agreed upon. In fact, the plan had in it many of the exciting elements
of a challenge.

Darrin left the mess to go on duty. Dan found him presently.

"Say," murmured Danny Grin, in an aside, "do you think Barnes will be
very angry when he pays over that thirty-three dollars?"

"I haven't yet heard that he is to pay it," Dave answered quietly.

"But he _is_," Dalzell asserted.

"How's that?"

"I'm going to make it my business," Dan went on, "to see that Barnes
is the victim of the very scheme that he proposed. He will ask a
question that he can't answer, and he'll do it when Tuesday evening
comes around."

"Don't be too sure of that," Dave warned him. "Barnes may not be
exactly the most amiable officer aboard, but at least he's a very keen
chap. If you are forming any plans for making Barnes pay, look out,
Dan, that your scheme doesn't recoil upon yourself!"

"Wait and see," Dalzell insisted. "I tell you, Barnes is going to pay
that thirty-three dollars into the mess treasury!"



CHAPTER III

THE STARTLER AT MONTE CARLO


The frowning crags of Monaco confronted the United States battleship
"Hudson."

Here and there the rocky eminences were broken by tiny strips of white
beach. In comparison with the crags the great, floating fighting
machine looked like a pigmy, indeed.

It was toward evening, and the day was Tuesday. Darrin and Dalzell,
both off duty for the time being, strolled along the battleship's
quarter-deck, gazing shoreward.

"It's almost too bad that the times are so civilized," murmured Danny
Grin. "That little toy principality would make an ideal pirates'
nest."

"I fancy Monaco has done duty enough in that line in the past
centuries," smiled Darrin. "I have been reading up a bit on the
history of Monaco. Piracy flourished here as late as the fourteenth
century. Even rather late in the eighteenth century every ship passing
close to this port had to pay toll. And to-day, through its vast
gambling establishments, visited by thousands every week, Monaco
reaches out and still takes its toll from all the world."

"It won't take any from me," smiled Dalzell.

"That is because you're a disciplined human being, and you've too much
character and honesty to gamble," Darrin went on. "But think, with a
pitying sigh, of the thousands of poor wretches who journey to Monaco,
enter the Casino at Monte Carlo, part with their money and their
honor, and then pass into one of the gardens, there to blow their
brains out.

"We shall get a glimpse of the place to-night," Dave continued. "I
will admit that I have a good deal of curiosity to see it. So I am
glad that we have shore leave effective after dinner. Still, we shan't
see anything like the crowd or the picture that we might see if Europe
were at peace."

"This is Tuesday night," Dan warned his chum.

"Yes; the night to avoid dangerous questions at mess," Dave smiled.
"Dan, are you still going to try to catch Barnes?"

"Watch me," winked Dalzell.

"Look out, Dan! Such a trap may be set at both ends."

But Dalzell winked once more, then allowed his mouth to expand in that
contortion which had won him the nick name of "Danny Grin."

Dave soon forgot Dalzell's threat of trouble for the evening. It had
passed out of his mind by the time that Ensign Darrin entered the
ward-room. Yet soon after the officers had seated themselves the
executive officer announced:

"In the interest of fair play to all I deem it best to warn you,
gentlemen, that to-night is the night when the first gentleman who
asks a question that he cannot himself answer is liable to a penalty
of thirty-three dollars to make up the deficit in the mess treasury."

There were nods and grins, and shakings of heads. Not an officer
present had any idea that _he_ could be caught and made to pay the
penalty.

As the meal progressed Lieutenant Commander Wales finally turned to
one of the Filipino waiters and inquired:

"Is there any of the rare roast beef left?"

"Don't you know yourself, Wales?" demanded Totten quickly.

"Why, er--no-o," admitted Mr. Wales, looking much puzzled. "Why should
I?"

"Then haven't you asked a question that you can't answer?" demanded
Totten mischievously.

"That's hardly a fair catch, is it?" demanded the navigating officer,
looking annoyed.

"It is not a fair catch," broke in the executive officer incisively.
"Any gentleman here has a perfect right to ask the waiter questions
about the food supply without taking chances of being subjected to a
penalty."

"I bow to the decision, sir," replied Lieutenant Totten. "I merely
wished to have the question settled."

Some of those present breathed more easily; others yet dreaded to
become victims of a penalty proposition that many now regretted having
voted for.

As the dessert came on Dan Dalzell turned to Dave.

"Darrin," he said, "can you tell me why it is that a woodchuck never
leaves any dirt heaped up around the edge of his hole?"

Dave reflected, looking puzzled for a moment. Then he shook his head
as he answered:

"Dalzell, I'm afraid I don't know why."

"Of course _you_ know why, Dalzell," broke in Lieutenant Barnes
warningly.

"Perhaps I do know," Dan replied, nodding his head slowly. "However,
perhaps some other gentleman would like the chance of answering the
question."

Instantly a dozen at least of the officers became interested in
answering the question. To each reply or guess, however, Dalzell shook
his head.

"If everyone who wants it has had a try at the answer," suggested the
executive officer, "then we will call upon Mr. Dalzell to inform us
why a woodchuck, in digging his hole, leaves no dirt piled up around
the entrance."

There was silence while Dan replied easily:

"It's perfectly simple. Instead of beginning at the surface of the
ground and digging downward, the woodchuck begins at the bottom of the
hole and digs up toward the light and air."

As Dalzell offered this explanation he faced Lieutenant Barnes, who
was eying him scoffingly.

When Dan had finished his explanation there was a puzzled silence for
an instant. But Dan's half-leer irritated Lieutenant Barnes. Then came
the explosion.

"Shaw!" snorted Barnes. "That's an explanation that doesn't explain
anything. It's a fool answer. How does the woodchuck, if he digs up
from the bottom of the hole, ever manage to get to the bottom of the
hole to make his start there?"

"Oh, well," answered Dan slowly, "that's your question, Mr. Barnes."

"My question?" retorted the lieutenant. "What do you mean?"

"If I understand aright," Dan went on, "you asked how the woodchuck
manages to get to the bottom of the hole before he begins to dig."

"That's right," nodded the lieutenant, stiffly.

"That's just the idea," Dan grinned. "I am calling upon you to answer
the question that you just asked. You must tell us how the woodchuck
manages to get to the bottom of the hole in order to start digging
upward."

It required perhaps two seconds for the joke to dawn on the other
officers at the long mess table. Then an explosion of laughter
sounded, and every eye was turned toward Lieutenant Barnes.

"That isn't fair!" roared the lieutenant, leaping to his feet. "That
was a trap! It wasn't a fair catch."

Barnes's face was very red. His voice quivered with indignation.

But Dan Dalzell was smiling coolly as he retorted:

"I'll leave it to the mess if Barnes hasn't asked a question that he
can't answer."

"You're caught, Barnes!" roared half a dozen voices, and more laughter
followed.

"You asked a question, Barnes, and you can't answer it," came from
others.

"That thirty-three dollars will come in handy," called another.

"Pay up like a man, Barnes."

"That's right. Pay up! You're caught."

The lieutenant's face grew redder, but he sat down and tried to
control his wrath.

"It doesn't seem like a fairly incurred penalty," declared Barnes, as
soon as he could make himself heard, "but of course I'll abide by the
decision of the mess."

"Then I move," suggested Wales, "that we leave the question to a
committee of three to decide whether Mr. Barnes has been properly
caught in the fine that he himself was the one to propose. For
committee I would suggest the executive officer, the paymaster and the
chaplain."

Informally that suggestion was quickly adopted. The three officers
named withdrew to a corner of the ward-room, where they conversed in
low tones, after which they returned to their seats.

"Gentlemen," announced the executive officer, "the committee has
discussed the problem submitted to it, and the members of the
committee are unanimously agreed that Mr. Barnes fairly and fully
incurred the penalty that he himself suggested the other morning."

Barnes snorted, but was quick to recover sufficiently to bow in the
direction of the executive officer.

"Then I accept the decision, sir," announced the lieutenant huskily.
"At the close of the meal I will pay thirty-three dollars into the
mess treasury."

Barnes tried to look comfortable, but he refused to glance in the
direction of Danny Grin.

"Did I catch him?" whispered Dalzell to his chum.

"You did," Dave agreed quickly. "Barnes must feel pretty sore over
the way his plan turned out."

There was much laughter during the rest of the meal, and Barnes had to
stand for much chaffing, which he bore with a somewhat sullen look. As
the officers rose none offered to leave the ward-room. All stood by
waiting to see Barnes hand thirty-three dollars to the paymaster.

"Here is the money," announced Barnes, handing a little wad of bills
to the paymaster.

"Count it, Pay!" piped a voice from the rear of the crowd, but it was
not Dan who spoke.

Lieutenant Barnes had the grace to leave the ward-room without
stamping, but in the nearest passageway he encountered Ensigns Darrin
and Dalzell.

"I suppose you are chuckling over the way I dropped right into your
trap," snapped Barnes to Dan. "But do you call it a fair kind of
trap?"

"What was the committee's decision on the subject?" inquired Dan,
softly.

"Oh, I'll admit that the decision went against me," answered the
lieutenant, scowling. "How will you like it if I promise to pay you
back fully for that trick? Are you willing that I should?"

"If your mind is set on paying me back," Danny Grin responded, "then
my willingness would have very little to do with your conduct. But I
am willing to make you a promise, sir."

"What is that?" asked the lieutenant, quite testily.

"If you attempt to pay me back, sir, and succeed, I'll agree to take
my medicine with an appearance of greater good humor than you
displayed a few minutes ago."

"Huh!" sniffed Mr. Barnes.

"Danny boy," broke in Dave, "I don't want to spoil a pleasant
conversation, but I would like to remind you that, if we are to make
much of our evening ashore, we shall do well to change to 'cits' at
once. The launch leaves the side in fifteen minutes."

"You'll excuse me, won't you, sir?" begged Dalzell, favoring the
lieutenant with an extremely pleasant smile.

The chums went to their respective cabins, where they quickly made the
change from uniform to citizen's dress, commonly called "cits."

Promptly the launch left the "Hudson's" side, but both young ensigns
were aboard. At least a dozen other officers and a score of seamen
were also aboard the launch, which was to return for forty more seamen
who held the coveted shore leave.

Yet the reader is not to suppose that either officers or men were
going ashore with any notion of gambling. An American naval officer,
with his status of "officer and gentleman," would risk a severe
rebuke from his commanding officer if he were to seat himself to play
in any gambling resort. As for the enlisted men, the "jackies," they
are not of the same piece of cloth as the jovial, carousing seamen of
the old-time Navy. The "jackies" of to-day are nearly all extremely
youthful; they are clean-cut, able, ambitious young fellows, much more
inclined to study than to waste their time in improper resorts.

So, while most of the officers and men now going ashore were likely to
drop in at the Casino, for the sake of seeing the sights there, it was
not in the least to be feared that any would engage in the gambling
games.

When the launch landed in the little harbor, drivers of automobiles
and carriages clamored for fares.

"Are we going to ride up to the Casino?" Dan asked his chum.

"If you'd rather," Dave assented. "But, unless you feel tired, let us
stroll along and see every bit of the way."

"These natives are all jabbering French," complained Dalzell, as the
chums set out to walk over the steep, well-worn roads, "but it isn't
the kind of French we were taught at Annapolis."

"Can't you understand them?" asked Dave.

"Hardly a word."

"If you have to talk with any of the natives," Dave advised, "speak
your French slowly, and ask the person you're addressing to do the
same."

Though the way was steep, it was not a long road. Dave and Dan soon
reached the upper, rocky plain, edged by cliffs, on which the Casino
and some of the hotels and other buildings stand.

"If it weren't for the gambling," murmured Dan to his friend, "I'd
call this a beautiful enough spot to live and die in."

"As it is, a good many men and women manage to die here," Darrin
returned gravely.

The Casino was surrounded by beautiful gardens, in which were many
rare tropical trees and shrubs. From the Casino came the sound of
orchestral music. Throngs moved about on the verandas; couples or
little groups strolled through the gardens. Inside, the play had
hardly begun. Gambling does not reach its frantic height until
midnight.

"We shall feel out of place," mused Dave aloud. "Dan, we really should
have known better than to come here in anything but evening dress. You
see that every one else is in full regalia."

"Perhaps we'd better keep on the edge of the crowd," responded Danny
Grin. "There is enough to be seen here, for one evening, without
entering the Casino."

Though Dave intended to enter the Casino later, he decided, for the
present, to take in the full beauty of the night in the gardens. There
were electric lights everywhere, which outshone the brilliance of the
moon.

"Hello!" whispered Dan, suddenly. "There's an old friend of ours."

"Who?"

"Mr. Green Hat," Dan whispered impressively.

Instantly Dave Darrin became intensely interested, though he had no
intimation of what this second meeting portended. That Mr. Green Hat
was destined to play a highly tragic rôle in his life, Darrin, of
course, had no inkling at that moment.

"There he is!" whispered Dalzell, pointing, as the chums stood
screened by a flowering bush.

"We'll watch that rascal!" Dave proposed promptly. "I wonder if he has
followed the 'Hudson' here with a view to attempting more mischief
against our Government. Whatever his game is, I am going to take a
peep at the inside of it if a chance comes my way!"



CHAPTER IV

MR. GREEN HAT'S NEW RÔLE


Mr. Green Hat, on this occasion, had discarded the article of headwear
that had given him that nickname with the young ensigns.

Instead, Gortchky wore an opera hat, with evening dress of the most
fashionable description. On his broad white expanse of vest there
glittered a foreign decoration.

Though he walked alone, and affected an air of indifference to his
surroundings, Darrin was of the impression that the spy was looking
alertly for some one.

"Of course it may happen," said Dave to his friend, "that the fellow
is foolish enough to come here for the purpose of throwing away at the
gaming tables the money he earns by his questionable services to some
plotting international ring. Yet that seems hardly likely, either, for
Gortchky must be a man of tremendous energy, to render the thrilling
services that are demanded of a spy or an international trouble-maker."

Now the two chums left the place where they had been standing behind
the bush, to stroll along slowly, all the while keeping Gortchky in
sight.

Dave nudged his chum as, at a turn in the path, the spy came face to
face with a woman clad in a beautiful evening gown.

Raising his hat, and making a courteous bow to the woman, who returned
the greeting, Gortchky exchanged half a dozen sentences with her. Then
the pair separated, though not before Dave and Dan had obtained, under
the electric light, a good view of the young woman's face. Her dark
beauty, her height and grace, gave her a queenly air.

Stepping into another path, Dave and Dan were soon on the trail of
Gortchky once more, without having been obliged to pass the young
woman face to face.

"I wonder if she's a 'spy-ess'?" murmured Dan.

"It is just as well to be suspicious of any one whom Gortchky appears
to know well," Dave answered, slowly, in a low voice.

"I beg pardon, sir," broke in a sailor from the "Hudson," stepping
forward and saluting the officers. "May I speak with you, sir?"

It was Dan to whom he spoke, and it was Dan who answered:

"Certainly, Martin."

[Illustration: "The spy came face to face with a woman."]

Martin was one of the gun-pointers in Dalzell's division.

"Linton, one of our men, has been hurt, and rather badly, by falling
off a boulder that he climbed not far from here, sir. I thought I
would ask the ensign what to do with Linton."

"How badly is he hurt?" asked Ensign Dalzell.

"I think his right leg is broken, sir. Colby is with him, and I came
in search of you, sir, as I was certain I saw you here."

"Is Linton far from here?" asked Dalzell.

"Less than a quarter of a mile, sir."

"Lead the way, Martin, and I'll follow you. Dave, you'll excuse me for
a little while, won't you?"

"Certainly," nodded Ensign Darrin. Dave wished to remain where he was,
in order to keep an eye over Gortchky's movements, and Dan knew it. So
the chums parted for the present.

"Now, I'll see if I can pick up Gortchky again," reflected Ensign
Darrin. "He appears to have given me the slip."

Dave went ahead, more briskly than he had been moving before, in the
hope of sighting the spy.

Out of the Casino had staggered a young man, despair written on his
face, hopelessness in his very air. Plunging into the garden this
stranger made his way hastily through it, keeping on until he came to
the field where pigeon shoots are held from time to time.

Dave, at the edge of the garden, saw the young man step past the
shrubbery and go on into the darkness beyond. Under the last rays of
light Ensign Darrin saw something glitter in the stranger's hand.

"That fellow has just drawn a revolver!" flashed through Darrin's
mind. "Now, what mischief can he be up to?"

Led onward by some fascination that he did not understand, the young
naval officer followed.

In his excitement and desperation the man did not notice that he was
being followed.

Halting under the heavy foliage of a tree, the stranger glanced down
at the weapon in his hand and shuddered. This foolish young man,
haunting the gambling tables until he had ruined himself, and seeing
nothing now ahead of him in life, was bent upon self-destruction.

Sometimes there are several such suicides at Monte Carlo in a single
week. If unprovided with other means for ending his life, the suicide
sometimes hurls himself over the edge of one of the steep cliffs.

Suicides, of course, have a depressing effect on other players, so
those in authority at the Casino take every means of hushing up these
tragedies as effectively as possible.

"There is really nothing left in life," muttered the young man
huskily, as he stared at the weapon in his hand. He spoke in French,
but Darrin heard and understood him.

Then the desperate one raised the weapon, pointing the muzzle at his
head.

At that instant there was a quick step out of the darkness, and Dave
reached the stranger. The latter, startled, drew back, but not in time
to prevent Darrin's grip of steel from resting on his right wrist.

Wrench! Dave had the pistol in his own hands, at the same time
murmuring:

"You will pardon me, I trust."

Ensign Darrin broke the weapon open at the breach. From the chamber he
removed the cartridges, dropping them into his pocket. With another
swift movement Dave flung the pistol so far that it dropped over the
edge of a cliff.

"You will pardon me, I trust, sir, for throwing your property away in
that fashion," Dave apologized, in the best French he could summon.

"Since it is the very last item of my property that was left to me,
perhaps it can matter but little that I am deprived of it," said the
stranger, smiling wanly. "The cliff is still left to me, however. I
can easily follow the pistol."

"But you are not going to jump over the cliff," Darrin assured him
energetically.

"And why are you so certain of that?" demanded the stranger.

Dave looked keenly at his companion before he replied:

"Because, sir, your face is that of a man--not of a coward. Suicide is
the act of a coward. It is the resort of one who frankly admits that
his troubles are greater than he has the manhood to bear. Now, you
have, when one regards you closely, the look of a man and a
gentleman."

"Thank you for your good opinion, sir," replied the stranger, bowing.
"I will say that I was born a gentleman."

"And you still are one, and a man, as well as a gentleman," Dave
continued, gently. "Therefore, you are not afraid to face life."

"What is there left to me to make life worth living?" queried the
stranger.

"Why should you have the least desire to die?" Dave countered.

"I have lost all my money."

"That is a very slight matter," Darrin argued. "Lost all your money,
have you? Why, my dear fellow, there's a lot more in the world."

"But none of the money now in the world is mine," urged the desperate
one.

"Then make a part of the world's money yours," the young naval officer
retorted, smilingly.

"I have never worked," replied the stranger stiffly.

"Why not?" Dave pressed.

"I never had need to."

"But now you have the need, and working for money will bring some
novelty into your life," the young ensign insisted.

"Did I not tell you that I was born a gentleman?" inquired the young
man, raising his eyebrows. "A gentleman never works!"

"Some gentlemen don't," Dave admitted. "But they are the wrong kind of
gentlemen."

"If I mistake not," quizzed the stranger keenly, "you are a gentleman,
yourself."

"I trust that I am," Dave responded gravely.

"Then do you work?"

"More hours a day than any laborer does," Darrin answered promptly. "I
am a naval officer."

"Ah, but that is a career of honor--of glory!" cried the stranger.

"And so is any honest job of work that a man takes up in earnest and
carries through to the best of his ability," Dave Darrin returned with
warmth.

"But you see, sir," argued the stranger, though now he was smiling,
"you have been trained to a profession. I never was so trained."

"You are young?"

"Twenty-four."

"Then you are young enough to change your mind and recognize the
dignity of labor," Darrin continued. "You are also young enough and,
unless I mistake you, bright enough to win a very good place in life
for yourself. And you are man enough, now you have had time to think
it over, to see the wickedness of destroying yourself. Man, _make_
yourself instead."

"I'll do it! I will make myself!" promised the stranger, with a new
outburst of emotion.

"And you will never again allow yourself to become so downcast that
you will seek to destroy yourself?"

"Never!"

"I am satisfied," Dave said gravely. "You are a man of honor, and
therefore are incapable of breaking your word. Your hand!"

Their hands met in ardent clasp. Then Darrin took out his card case,
tendering his card to the stranger.

Instantly the young man produced his own card case, and extended a bit
of pasteboard, murmuring:

"I am M. le Comte de Surigny, of Lyons, France."

It was too dark to read the cards there, but Dave gave his own name,
and again the young men shook hands.

"But I am forgetting my comrade," Dave cried suddenly. "He was to
return in a few minutes, and will not know where to find me."

"And I have detained you, with my own wretched affairs!" cried the
young count reproachfully. "I must not trespass upon your time another
second."

"Why not walk along with me and meet my friend?" Dave suggested.

"With pleasure."

Dave and the young French count stepped along briskly until they came
to the spot where Dalzell had left his chum. Two or three minutes
later Dan hove into sight.

Dan and the Count of Surigny were introduced, and some chat followed.
Then the Count frankly told of the service that Darrin had just
rendered him.

"That is Dave!" glowed Dan. "He's always around in time to be of use
to some one."

In the distance a shot rang out--only one. The Count of Surigny
shuddered.

"You understand, do you not?" he asked.

"I am afraid so," Dave sadly responded.

As they stood there four men with a litter hurried past toward the
place whence the sound of the shot had come.

"The police of Monte Carlo," murmured the Count of Surigny.

Presently, at a distance, the three onlookers beheld the four men and
the litter moving stealthily along, but not toward the Casino. The
litter was occupied by a still form over which a cover had been
thrown.

"You have shown me the way of true courage!" murmured the Count of
Surigny, laying an affectionate hand on Ensign Darrin's shoulder.

The chums and their new acquaintance strolled along for a few moments.
Then the Count suddenly exclaimed:

"But I am intruding, and must leave you."

"You surely are not intruding," Dave told him. "We are delighted with
your company."

"Wholly so," Dan added.

But the Count felt himself to be an interloper, and so insisted on
shaking hands again and taking his departure.

"I shall see or write you presently," said the Count. He had already
obtained the fleet address, and knew, in addition, that he could write
at any time through the Navy Department at Washington.

"Will he make good?" asked Danny Grin wistfully, as he peered after
the departing form.

"It's an even chance," Dave replied. "Either that young man will go
steadily up, or else he will go rapidly down. It is sometimes a
terrible thing to be born a gentleman--in the European sense. Few of
the Count's friends will appreciate him if he starts in upon a career
of effort. But, even though he goes down, he will struggle bravely at
the outset. Of that I feel certain."

"I wonder what has become of Gortchky?" remarked Ensign Dalzell.

That industrious spy, however, was no longer the pursued; he had
become the pursuer.

From a little distance Gortchky had espied Dave and the Count
chatting, and had witnessed the introduction to Dalzell. A man of Mr.
Green Hat's experience with the world did not need many glances to
assure himself that the Count had lost his last franc at the gambling
table.

Gortchky was not at Monte Carlo without abundant assistance. So, as
the Count, head down, and reflecting hard, strolled along one of the
paths, a man bumped into him violently.

"Ten thousand pardons, Monsieur!" cried the bumper, in a tone of great
embarrassment. "It was stupid of me. I--"

"Have no uneasiness, my friend," smiled the Count. "It was I who was
stupid. I should have looked where I was going."

Courteous bows were exchanged, and the two separated. But the man who
had bumped into the Count now carried inside his sleeve the Count's
empty wallet, which was adorned with the crest of Surigny.

This wallet was promptly delivered to another. Five minutes later, as
the Count strolled along, Emil Gortchky called out behind him:

"Monsieur! Pardon me, but I think you must have dropped your wallet."

"If I have, the loss is trifling indeed," smiled the Count, turning.

Gortchky held out the wallet, then struck a match. By the flame the
Count beheld his own crest.

"Yes, it is mine," replied the Count, "and I thank you for your
kindness."

"Will Monsieur do me the kindness, before I leave him, to make sure
that the contents of the wallet are intact?" urged Gortchky.

"It will take but an instant," laughed the Count of Surigny. "See! I
will show you that the contents are intact!"

As he spoke he opened the wallet. A packet of paper dropped to the
ground. In astonishment the Count bent over to pick up the packet. M.
Gortchky struck another match.

"Let us go nearer to an electric light, that you may count your money
at your ease, Monsieur," suggested Gortchky.

Like one in a daze the Count moved along with Gortchky. When
sufficiently in the light, Surigny, with an expression of
astonishment, found that he was the possessor of thirty twenty-franc
notes.

"I did not know that I had this!" cried the Count. "How did I come to
overlook it?"

"It is but a trifle to a man of your fortune," cried M. Gortchky
gayly.

"It is all I have in the world!" sighed the young man. "And I am still
amazed that I possess so much."

"Poor?" asked Gortchky, in a voice vibrating with sympathy. "And you
so young, and a gentleman of old family! Monsieur, it may be that this
is a happy meeting. Perhaps I may be able to offer you the employment
that befits a gentleman."

Then Gortchky lowered his voice, almost whispering:

"For I am in the diplomatic service, and have need of just such an
attaché as you would make. Young, a gentleman, and of charming
manners! Your intellect, too, I am sure, is one that would fit you for
eminence in the diplomatic service."

"The mere mention of the diplomatic service attracts me," confessed M.
le Comte wistfully.

"Then you shall have your fling at it!" promised M. Gortchky. "But
enough of this. You shall talk it over with me to-morrow. Diplomacy,
you know, is all gamble, and the gambler makes the best diplomat in
the world. For to-night, Monsieur, you shall enjoy yourself! If I know
anything of gaming fate, then you are due to reap a harvest of
thousands with your few francs to-night. I can see it in your face
that your luck is about to turn. An evening of calm, quiet play,
Monsieur, and in the morning you and I will arrange for your entrance
into the diplomatic world. _Faites votre jeux!_ (Make your wagers.)
Wealth to-night, and a career to-morrow! Come! To the Casino!"



CHAPTER V

DANNY GRIN FIGHTS A SMILE


Side by side Dave and Dan strolled through the vast main salon of the
Casino.

Here at tables were groups of men and women. Each player hoped to quit
the tables that night richer by thousands. Most of them were doomed to
leave poorer, as chance is always in favor of the gambling institution
and always against the player.

"It's a mad scene," murmured Dan, in a low voice.

"You are looking on now at an exhibition of what is probably the
worst, and therefore the most dangerous, human vice," Dave replied.
"Bad as drunkenness is, gambling is worse."

"What is at the bottom of the gambling mania?" Dan asked thoughtfully.

"Greed," Dave responded promptly. "The desire to possess property, and
to acquire it without working for it."

"Some of these poor men and women look as if they were working hard
indeed," muttered Dan, in almost a tone of sympathy.

"They are not working so much as suffering," Dave rejoined. "Study
their faces, Danny boy. Can't you see greed sticking out all over
these countenances? Look at the hectic flush in most of the faces.
And--look at that man!"

A short, stout man sprang up from a table, his face ghastly pale and
distorted as though with terror. His eyes were wild and staring. He
chattered incoherently as he hastened away with tottering steps. Then
his hands gripped his hair, as though about to tear it from his head.

A few of the players in this international congress of greed glanced
at the unfortunate man, who probably had just beggared himself,
shrugged their shoulders, and turned their fascinated eyes back to the
gambling table.

One woman, young and charming, reached up to her throat, unfastening
and tossing on the table a costly diamond necklace and pendant.

"Now," she laughed hysterically, "I may go on playing for another
hour."

The Casino's representative in charge at that table smiled and shook
his head.

"We accept only money, madame," he said, with a grave bow.

"But I have no more money--with me," flashed back the young woman, her
cheeks burning feverishly.

"I regret, madame," insisted the Casino's man. Then an attendant, at
a barely perceptible sign from the _croupier_, as the man in charge of
the table is called, stepped up behind the young woman, bent over her
and murmured:

"If you care to leave the table for a few minutes, madame, there are
those close at hand who will advance you money on your necklace."

The young woman pouted at first. In another instant there was a
suppressed shout at the table. A player had just won four thousand
francs.

"I must have money!" cried the young woman, springing from her chair.
"This is destined to be my lucky night, and I must have money!"

As though he had been waiting for his prey, the attendant was quickly
by the woman's side. Bowing, he offered his arm. The man, attendant
though he was, was garbed in evening dress. Without a blush the woman
moved away on this attendant's arm.

"Shall we move on?" asked Dan.

"Not just yet," urged Darrin, in an undertone. "I am interested in the
further fate of that foolish young woman."

Within five minutes she had returned. Her former seat had been
reserved for her; the young woman dropped into it.

"You have enough money now?" asked the woman at her left.

"I have money," pouted the pretty young woman, "but be warned by me.
The pawnbrokers at Monte Carlo are robbers. The fellow would advance
me only six thousand francs, whereas my husband paid a hundred
thousand for that necklace."

A moment later the young woman was absorbed in the wild frenzy of
play.

"And that attendant undoubtedly gets a handsome commission from the
pawnbroker," murmured Darrin in his chum's ear. "Greed here is in the
very air; none can escape it who lingers."

"How much have you lost, Darrin?" called a bantering voice in Dave's
ear.

The speaker was Lieutenant Totten.

"About as much, I imagine, as you have, sir," was Darrin's smiling
answer.

"Meaning that you now have as much money as when you entered the
place?" answered the lieutenant, banteringly.

"Exactly," returned Darrin. "I have only to study the faces here to
know better than to risk even a franc-piece at one of these tables."

"And you, Dalzell?" inquired Totten.

"I haven't any French money, anyway," grinned Dan.

"Not at all necessary to have French money," laughed Totten. "Any kind
of real money is good here--as long as it lasts. Every nation on earth
is represented here to-night, and the attendants know the current
exchange rate for any kind of good money that is coined or printed.
Look closely about you and you will see other things that are worth
nothing. There are men here, some of them limping, others showing the
pallor of illness, who are undoubtedly French, English or Italian
officers, injured at the front and sent home to hospitals. Being still
unfitted to return to their soldier duties at the front, they are
passing time here and indulging in their mania for gambling. And here,
too, you will see wealthy French, Italian, English or Russian
civilians who have returned to Monte Carlo to gamble, though later on
they are pretty certain to be held up to contempt at home for gambling
money away here instead of buying government war bonds at home."

"You have been here before?" Dave asked.

"Oh, yes," nodded Totten, "and as I do not play, and would not do so
in any circumstances, this place has not much interest for me."

"I can hardly imagine," said Ensign Darrin, gravely, "that I shall
ever bother to pay a second visit here."

"It's a good deal of a bore," yawned Lieutenant Totten, behind his
hand. "I am glad to note that most of the people here look like
Europeans. I should hate to believe that many Americans could be
foolish enough to come here."

At that moment a stout, red-faced man rose from a table near by, his
voice booming as he laughed:

"I have lost only sixteen thousand francs. I shall be sure to come
back and have my revenge. In Chicago my signature is good at any time
for a million dollars--for five million francs!"

Many eyes, followed this speaker wistfully. With such wealth as his
how many months of frenzied pleasure they might have at Monte Carlo!

"One American idiot, at least," muttered Totten, in disgust. "Or else
he's a liar or braggart."

Madly the play went on, the faces of the players growing more flushed
as the hour grew later.

Totten moved along with a bored air.

"I guess he's going," said Dan. "I don't blame him for being tired of
the place. It's like a human menagerie."

"We'll go, then," agreed Dave. "Surely I have seen enough of the
Casino. I shall never care to revisit it."

"Ah, here you are, my dear fellows!" exclaimed a musical voice. "And
the Countess Ripoli has asked me to present you to her. She is eager
to know if you American officers are as wonderful as I have told her."

The speaker was Dandelli, a handsome, boyish-looking, frank-faced
young Italian naval officer with whom Darrin and Dalzell had become
acquainted at Gibraltar.

The Countess Ripoli, to whom Dandelli now presented the two young
ensigns, was a woman in the full flower of her beauty at twenty-five
or so. Tall, willowy, with a perfect air, her wonderful eyes, in which
there was a touch of Moorish fire, were calculated to set a young
man's heart to beating responses to her mood. Attired in the latest
mode of Paris, and wearing only enough jewels to enhance her great
beauty, the Countess chose to be most gracious to the young ensigns.
Dave thought her a charming young woman; Dan Dalzell nearly lost his
head.

From a distance Emil Gortchky looked on, a quiet smile gleaming in his
eyes.

"Dandelli is a fool, who will do any pretty woman's bidding," mused
the spy. "Madame Ripoli can play with him. Also I believe she will
surely ensnare for me at least one of the Americans. Which, I wonder?
But then why should I care which? The Ripoli knows how to manage such
affairs far better than I do."

For the Countess was another of the many dangerous tools with which
Mr. Green Hat plied his wicked trade.

If the Countess, as unscrupulous as Gortchky himself, could ensnare
either of these young officers with her fascinations, he was likely
to be that much the weaker, and a readier prey for the trap that Emil
Gortchky was arranging.

"Dandelli," murmured the Countess sweetly, in French, "you will wish,
I know, to talk with your dear friend, Mr. Darrin, so I must look to
Mr. Dalzell to offer me his arm."

Dan was ready, with a bow, to offer the Countess Ripoli his arm, and
to escort her in the direction which she indicated.

It was to one of the verandas that the Countess led the way. As she
chatted she laughed and looked up at Dan with her most engaging
expression. There were other promenaders on the veranda, though not
many, for the furious fascination of gambling tables kept nearly all
the frequenters of the place inside.

"You have played to-night?" asked the Countess, again glancing sweetly
up into the young naval officer's face.

"Not to-night," Dan replied.

"But you will doubtless play later?" she insisted.

"I haven't gambled to-night, nor shall I gamble on any other night,"
Dan replied pleasantly.

"But why?" demanded the Countess, looking puzzled.

"Gambling does not fit in with my idea of honesty," replied Dalzell
quite bluntly.



CHAPTER VI

DAVE RUNS INTO A REAL THRILL


"I do not understand," murmured the Countess.

"I know that the European idea of gambling is very different from that
entertained by most people in my country," Dan went on pleasantly. "To
the greater number of Americans, gambling is a method of getting other
people's money away from them without working for it."

"And that is why you term it dishonest?" asked the Countess.

"Yes," replied Dan frankly. "And, in addition, it is a wicked waste of
time that could be put to so many good uses."

Countess Ripoli shrugged her fine shoulders, and looked up once more
at the young officer. But Dan was smiling back coolly at her.

"You have not a flattering idea of the Europeans?" she asked.

"Quite to the contrary," Dan assured her.

"Yet you think we are both weak and dishonest, because we use our
time to poor advantage and because so many of us find Monte Carlo
delightful?" she pressed him.

"Not all Europeans frequent Monte Carlo," Dalzell answered.

"May I ask my new American friend why _he_ should waste his time
here?" laughed the Countess.

"I do not believe I have exactly wasted my time," Dan replied. "A
naval officer, or any other American, may well spend some of his time
here in gaining a better knowledge of human nature. Surely, there is
much of human nature to be seen here, even though it be not one of the
better sides."

"What is the bad trait, or the vice, that one beholds most at Monte
Carlo?" the Countess asked.

"Greed," Dan rejoined promptly.

"And dishonesty?"

"Much of that vice, no doubt," Dan continued. "To-night there must be
many a man here who is throwing away money that his family needs, yet
he will never tell his wife that he lost his money over a table at
Monte Carlo. Again, there must be many a woman here throwing away
money in large sums, and she, very likely, will never tell her husband
the truth. Let us say that, in both sexes, there are a hundred persons
here to-night who will be dishonest toward their life partners
afterward. And then, perhaps, many a young bachelor, who, betrothed to
some good woman, is learning his first lessons in greed and deceit.
And some young girls, too, who are perhaps learning the wrong lessons
in life. I know of one very young man here who tried to blow out his
brains to-night. For the sake of a few hours, or perhaps a few weeks,
over the gaming tables of Monte Carlo, he had thrown away everything
that made life worth living. Any man who gambles bids good-by to the
finer things of life."

Dan's slow, halting French made the Countess listen very attentively,
that she might understand just what he said. She puckered her brow
thoughtfully, then suddenly glanced up, laughing with all the witchery
at her command.

"Then, my dear American," she said insinuatingly, "I fear that you are
going to refuse me a very great favor."

"I hope not," Dan replied, gallantly.

"There is," pursued the Countess, "such a thing as luck. Often a
prophecy of that luck is to be seen in one's face. I see such luck
written in your face now. Since you will not play for yourself, I had
hoped that you would be willing to let me have the benefit of a little
of the luck that is so plainly written on your face. I had hoped, up
to this instant, that you would consent to play as my proxy."

The Countess was looking at him in a way that would have melted many a
man into agreeing to her wishes, but Dan answered promptly:

"I regret, Countess, to be compelled to refuse your request, but I
would not play for myself, nor for anyone else."

"If you so detest Monte Carlo and its pursuits," replied the Countess
with a pout, "I cannot understand why you are here."

"There was something useful to be gained from witnessing the sights
here, but I have seen as much as I wish," Dalzell went on, "and now I
am ready to leave. I am returning to my ship as soon as Darrin is
ready to go."

"And he, also, is tired of Monte Carlo?" asked Countess Ripoli.

"Darrin's views are much the same as my own," Dan responded quietly.

Countess Ripoli bit her lip, then surveyed Dalzell with a sidelong
look which she did not believe he saw, but Dan, trained in habits of
observation, had missed nothing.

"Will you take me back to the tables?" asked the Countess suddenly.

"With pleasure," bowed Dan.

Lightly resting a hand on his arm the Countess guided Dalzell rather
than walked with him. Back into the largest salon they moved.

Dan's eye roved about in search of Darrin, but that young ensign was
not in sight.

       *       *       *       *       *

At that very moment, in fact, Dave Darrin was very much concerned in
a matter upon which he had stumbled.

A few moments before his quick eye had espied Emil Gortchky crossing
the room at a distance. Gortchky paused barely more than a few seconds
to say a few words to a white-bearded, rather distinguished-looking
foreigner. The older man returned Gortchky's look, then smiled
slightly and moved on.

It was a trivial incident, but it was sufficient to set Dave's mind to
working swiftly, on account of what he already knew about Mr. Green
Hat.

For a few moments longer Ensign Darrin stood where he was; then,
tiring of the scene, and wondering what had become of Danny Grin, he
moved out upon one of the verandas, strolling slowly along. Reaching a
darker part of the veranda, where a clump of small potted trees formed
a toy grove, Dave paused, looking past the trees out upon the vague
glimpses to be had of the Mediterranean by night.

There, in the near distance, gleamed the lights of the "Hudson."
Darrin's face glowed with pride in the ship and in the Nation that
stood behind her.

Almost unconsciously he stepped inside the little grove. For a few
minutes longer his gaze rested on the sea. Then, hearing voices
faintly, he turned to see if Dalzell were approaching.

Instead, it was the white-bearded foreigner, the murmur of whose voice
had reached him. With him was another man, younger, black-haired, and
with a face that somehow made the beholder think of an eagle.

The two men were engaged in close, low-voiced conversation.

"I'd better step into view," reflected Darrin, "so that they may not
talk of private matters in my hearing."

Just then a chuckle escaped the younger of the pair, and with it Dave
distinguished the word, "American."

It was the sneering intonation given the word that made Dave Darrin
start slightly.

"Those men are discussing my country," muttered the young ensign,
swiftly, "and one of them at least is well acquainted with that spy,
Gortchky. Perhaps I shall do better to remain where I am."

Nor had Dave long to deliberate on this point, for the pair now neared
the grove. They were speaking French, and in undertones, but Dave's
ear was quick for that tongue, and he caught the words:

"England's friendship is important to America at the present moment,
and it is very freely given, too. The English believe in their Yankee
cousins."

"When the English lose a naval ship or two at Malta or elsewhere, and
learn that it is the Americans who sink their ships, and then lie
about it, will the English love for America be as great?" laughed the
younger man.

"The English will be furious," smiled the white-bearded man, "and they
will never learn the truth, either. For a hundred years to come Great
Britain will hate the United States with the fiercest hatred."

"It is a desperate trick, but a clever one," declared the younger man,
admiringly. "Nor will there be any way for either England or America
to learn the truth. The whole world will know that the Yankees
destroyed two British ships with all on board. It will probably bring
the two countries to actual war. No matter though England is at
present engaged in a huge war, the sentiment of her people would force
her to take the United States on, too."

Ensign Dave Darrin, overhearing that conversation, and well knowing
that he was listening to more than vaporing, felt his face blanch. He
steeled himself to rigid posture as he felt himself trembling
slightly.

Farther down the veranda strolled the French-speaking pair, then
wheeled out of sight.

In a twinkling Dave strode silently, swiftly toward the salon that he
had left. As he stepped into the brighter light, with admirable
control, he slowed down to a sauntering stroll, looking smilingly
about as though his whole mind were on the scenes of gambling before
him.

A moment or two later Darrin's eyes caught sight of Dan Dalzell, as
that young officer bowed the Countess Ripoli to a seat.

In vain did the Countess use her prettiest smiles to hold Danny Grin
by her side as she played. Dalzell had been schooled at Annapolis and
in the Navy itself, and knew how to take his leave gracefully, which
he did, followed by the pouts of the Countess. As soon as she saw that
the ensign's back was turned, a very unpleasant frown crossed her
beautiful face.

Dave continued his stroll until he met Dan at a point where none stood
near them.

"Keep on smiling, Dan," urged Dave, in an undertone. "Don't let that
grin leave your face. But it's back to the ship for us on the
double-quick! I may be dreaming, but I think I have found out the
meaning of Mr. Green Hat's strange activities. I believe there is a
plot on foot to bring England and our country into war with each
other. One thing is certain. It's my duty to get back on board as fast
as possible. I must tell the admiral what I have overheard."

Dan did not forget the injunction to keep on smiling. He proved so
excellent an actor that he laughed heartily as Dave Darrin finished
his few but thrilling words.

"Tiresome here, isn't it?" murmured Dan, aloud. "We might as well go
back on board ship."



CHAPTER VII

THE ADMIRAL UNLOADS HIS MIND


Reporting their coming aboard to the officer of the deck, Dave and Dan
hastened to their respective quarters.

While Ensign Dalzell performed a "lightning change" from "cits" to
uniform, Dave first seated himself at his desk, where he wrote a note
hurriedly.

This done, he passed the word for an orderly, who promptly appeared.

"Take this note to the Captain," ordered Darrin.

"Aye, aye, sir," said the messenger.

Dave then hastened to make the necessary change in his own apparel. So
quickly did he act, that he had his uniform on and was buttoning his
blouse when the messenger returned.

"The Captain will see Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell immediately,"
reported the orderly.

Returning the orderly's salute, Dave buckled on his sword belt, hung
on his sword, drew on his white gloves, and started. He found his
chum ready.

Together the young officers reported at the Captain's quarters.
Captain Allen was already seated at his desk.

"Orderly!" called the commanding officer briskly.

"Aye, aye, sir."

"Guard the door and report that I am engaged."

"Aye, aye, sir."

In an instant Captain Allen, who had briefly greeted his youngest
officers, turned to them.

"Your note, Mr. Darrin, stated that you had a matter to report to me
of such importance that you did not believe I would wish to lose a
moment in hearing what Mr. Dalzell and yourself could tell me."

"That is the case, sir," Dave bowed. "Have I your permission to
proceed, sir?"

"Yes. You may take seats, if you wish."

Bowing their thanks, the young officers remained on their feet.

Ensign Dave plunged at once into the narration of what had befallen
them ashore.

Captain Allen listened to the tale without comment, but when Dave
related what he had overheard the two men say when passing the
imitation grove on the darkest part of the Casino veranda, the
commanding officer sprang to his feet.

"Mr. Darrin," he demanded, "are you positive of the words that you
have just repeated?"

"I am, sir. In a matter of such importance I was careful to record
every word in my mind just as it was uttered."

"Then I must communicate with the Admiral at once," continued Captain
Allen, seating himself again. "Even if the Admiral be abed I consider
this a subject of enough importance to call him."

Taking down the receiver of the telephone that led direct to the fleet
commander's quarters, the Captain sent in a call to the Admiral's
quarters.

Soon there came a response.

"This is the Captain speaking, Admiral," announced the "Hudson's"
commanding officer. "Although the hour is late, sir, I request
permission to report to you on a matter of importance."

"I will see you, Captain, in five minutes."

"Thank you, sir. I request permission to bring two officers with me."

"Permission is granted, Captain."

"Thank you, sir."

Hanging up the transmitter, Captain Allen sank back in his chair.

"Is there anything else, gentlemen, that you wish to say to me before
we go to the Admiral?"

"I think I have told you all, sir," Dave replied.

"And I, too," Dalzell added.

Keeping his eye on the clock, Captain Allen presently arose, girded on
his sword, parted the curtains, and led the way.

"If I am wanted, Orderly, I shall be in the Admiral's quarters."

"Aye, aye, sir."

The three officers then filed rapidly along the deck, presented
themselves at the Admiral's quarters, and were admitted.

Admiral Timworth was standing at the rear of his cabin when the
subordinate officers entered. He came quickly forward, instructed his
orderly to guard the door, then turned to his visitors.

"I believe it will be best, with your permission, sir," began Captain
Allen, "to let Mr. Darrin make his report to you."

"Mr. Darrin will proceed, then."

So Dave repeated the story he had told the Captain. Admiral Timworth
listened until the recital had been finished, and then asked several
questions.

"It does not sound like a hoax," commented Admiral Timworth, at last.
"Yet it is impossible for me to conceive how two British battleships
are to be sunk near Malta, or near anywhere else, and Americans blamed
for the act. Captain Allen, can you imagine any way in which such a
thing might be effected?"

"I cannot, sir."

"The subject must be given careful thought," declared the Admiral. "By
the way, Mr. Darrin, do you think you could identify those two men who
talked of the proposed destruction of the British battleships?"

"I am positive that I could do so, sir," Dave rejoined, "provided they
were not disguised."

"Then you may meet them again, as we shall stop at various
Mediterranean ports. If you do, sir, I wish you to report to me
anything that you may find out about them. Mr. Dalzell did not see
them, did he?"

"I may have passed them, sir," Dan replied, "but I would not know
them, if meeting them, as the men whom Mr. Darrin mentions."

"Then, Captain, you will see to it," directed the Admiral, "that Mr.
Dalzell has shore leave whenever Mr. Darrin does. The two young men
will go ashore together so that Mr. Darrin, if opportunity presents,
may indicate the plotters to Mr. Dalzell."

The Captain and the young officers bowed their understanding of this
order.

"The presence of Gortchky here, taken with what Mr. Darrin overheard
those men talking about, and coupled with what took place on the mole
at Gibraltar, leads me to believe that some foreign government has
plans for involving the United States government in serious
complications," resumed the Admiral, after a pause. "Gortchky is not
in charge of any very extensive plot. He is simply a tool of greater
minds, and it may easily be that the pair whom Mr. Darrin overheard
are those who are directing Gortchky in some really big and dangerous
scheme. By the way, gentlemen, was either of you introduced to any
young or charming woman ashore?"

"We were both presented to the Countess Ripoli, sir," Darrin answered,
at once.

"And at the Countess's request, I took a little turn with her on one
of the verandas, sir," Dan added.

"Tell me all about the Countess and your meeting with her, Mr.
Dalzell," Admiral Timworth directed.

So Dan plunged at once into a narration of his chat with the Countess,
to which Admiral Timworth listened attentively.

"Ripoli?" he mused aloud, at last. "I do not recall the name as that
of a supposed secret service agent. Ripoli? Let me see."

From a drawer of his desk the Admiral drew out an indexed book. He
turned over, presumably, to the letter "R," then scanned the writing
on several pages.

"She has not been reported to me as a suspected secret service agent
of any country," said the fleet commander, aloud. "Yet she may very
likely be a spy in the service of some ring of international
trouble-makers. I will enter her name now, though I cannot place
anything positive against it."

"If either of us should meet the Countess Ripoli again, sir," queried
Dan, "have you any orders, sir, in that event?"

"If you do meet her," replied the admiral, "do not be too distant with
her, and do not let her see that she is in any sense under suspicion.
Just treat her as you would any charming woman whom you might meet
socially. However, should you meet her again, you may report the fact
to me. I shall doubtless have some further instructions for you,
gentlemen, but that is all for the present. Captain, you will remain."

Formally saluting their superiors, Dave and Dan withdrew and returned
to Dave's quarters. For half an hour Dan remained chatting with Dave,
then went to his own quarters.

By daylight the "Hudson" was under way again, bound for Naples. Dan
and Dave were called to stand their watches, and life on the
battleship went on as usual.

It was but an hour after daylight when Admiral Timworth, who had
remained up the rest of the night with Flag Lieutenant Simpson, sent a
long message to the Navy Department at Washington. The message
crackled out over the "Hudson's" wireless aerials, and was soon
afterward received in Washington at the huge naval wireless station
there.

"Good night, Simpson," said the Admiral, when his flag lieutenant
reported that the message was in the hands of the wireless operator.

"Shall I leave any instructions for your being called, sir?" asked
Lieutenant Simpson.

"Have me called at ten o'clock, unless a reply from the Navy
Department should arrive earlier. In that case have me called at
once."

The flag lieutenant is the personal aide of the fleet commander.

If the Admiral received an interesting reply from the Navy Department
during the voyage to Naples, he at least concealed the fact from
Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell. Ensigns, however, are quite accustomed to
reserve on the part of admirals.

It was one o'clock one sunny afternoon when the "Hudson" entered the
Bay of Naples. Her anchorage having already been assigned by wireless
by the port authorities at Naples, the "Hudson" came to anchor close
to the "Kennebec" and "Lowell" of the Mediterranean Fleet. Admiral
Timworth now had three war vessels under his own eyes.

At four bells (two o'clock) an orderly called at Dan's and Dave's
quarters, with orders to report to the Admiral at once.

When the two young ensigns reached the Admiral's quarters they found
Lieutenant Simpson there also.

"Be seated, gentlemen," directed the Admiral.

For a few moments Admiral Timworth shuffled papers on his desk,
glancing briefly at some of them.

"Now, gentlemen," said the Admiral, wheeling about in his chair and
looking impressively at Darrin and Dalzell, "it seems to me I had
better preface my remarks by giving you some idea of the Fleet's
unusual and special mission in the Mediterranean. That may lead you to
a better comprehension of why a certain foreign power should wish to
create, between Great Britain and the United States, a situation that
would probably call for war between the two greatest nations of the
world."



CHAPTER VIII

ON LIVELY SPECIAL DUTY


"In the first place," resumed the Admiral, "you must know that
relations between Great Britain and the United States are, and for
some time have been, of an especially cordial nature. Throughout the
great war Great Britain has been compelled to buy a large part of her
food and munitions in the United States. Except for her being able to
do so she would have been forced out of the war and the Entente Allies
would have been defeated. There are Englishmen who will make you feel
that the saving force of the United States is greatly appreciated in
England, just as there are other Englishmen who will remark stupidly
that the United States as a seller, has had a great opportunity to
grow rich at England's expense.

"There can be no doubt that thinking Englishmen are prepared to go to
almost any extent to cultivate and keep the friendship of the United
States, just as duller-witted Englishmen declare that the United
States depends upon England for existence.

"During the present war Great Britain has felt compelled to impose
certain blockade restrictions upon our commerce with neutral powers in
Europe. This has hampered our commerce to some extent, and there are
many in the United States who feel deep resentment, and favor taking
any steps necessary to compel England to abandon her interference with
our merchant marine. Some Englishmen take an almost insolent attitude
in the matter, while others beg us to believe that England hinders
some of our commerce only in order to preserve her own national life.
In other words, if she did not carefully regulate the world's trade
with, for instance, Denmark and Holland, those countries would sell
much of their importations to Germany, whereby the duration of the war
would be prolonged by reason of help obtained by Germany in that
manner.

"As you can readily understand, the situation is full of delicate
points, and many sensibilities are wounded. There have been times when
only a spark was needed to kindle a serious blaze of mutual wrath
between Great Britain and the United States. And you may be sure there
are some governments in this world that would be delighted to see
feelings of deep hostility engendered between Britons and Americans.

"At present, however, there seems to be not the slightest cloud over
the relations between Great Britain and our country.

"Now, Mr. Darrin, you have obtained clues to a startling plot that has
for its object the causing of distrust between the two greatest
nations. If one or more British warships should be sunk, by some means
that we do not at present know, and if the blame could be plausibly
laid against Americans, there would be hot-tempered talk in England
and a lot of indignant retort from our country. It would seem
preposterous that any Englishman could suspect the American government
of destroying British warships, and just as absurd to think that
Americans could take such a charge seriously. Yet in the relations
between nations the absurd thing often does happen. Should England
lose any warships it would seem that only Germany or Austria could be
blamed, yet it might be possible for plotters to manage the thing so
successfully, and with so much cleverness, that the United States
would really seem to be proven to be the guilty party. Our duty as
officers of the Navy can be performed only by frustrating the hideous
plot altogether.

"So, Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, while we are at Naples you will spend
as much of your time as possible on shore. You will go about
everywhere, as though to see the sights of the city and as if bent on
getting your fill of pleasure. Unless under pressing need you will not
be extravagant in your expenditures, but will conduct yourselves as
though sight-seeing within the limits of your modest pay as ensigns.
You will, however, not be put to any expense in the matter, as all
your expenditures will be returned to you out of an emergency fund in
my hands.

"Your object in going ashore will be to report if you see Gortchky in
Naples. I feel rather certain that the fellow is already there. You,
Mr. Darrin, will also keep your eyes wide open for a sight of either
or both of that pair whom you overheard talking at Monte Carlo. You
will also note and report if you find the Countess Ripoli in Naples."

"And if we meet her and if she speaks to us, sir?" asked Dalzell.
"What if she even wishes to entertain us, or to claim our escort?"

"Do whatever you can to please the Countess," replied the Admiral,
promptly. "Be agreeable to her in any way that does not interfere with
other and more important duties to which I have assigned you."

Judging by a sign from the fleet commander that the interview was now
at an end, Dave and Dan rose, standing at attention.

"Perhaps I have given you a wrong impression in one particular,"
Admiral Timworth continued. "I do not wish you to understand,
gentlemen, that I have intimated that any power, or any combination
of powers, has directly ordered any act that would lead to the sinking
of British warships. Governments, even the worst, do not act in that
way. The thing which the power I have in mind may have done is to give
certain secret agents a free hand to bring about war between England
and the United States. Undoubtedly, the secret agents at the bottom of
this conspiracy have been left free to choose their own methods. Thus
the foreign government interested in this conspiracy could feel that
it did not _order_ the commission of a crime, no matter what might
happen as the result. Now, gentlemen, have you any questions to ask?"

"None, sir," Dave Darrin responded immediately.

"None, sir," echoed Dalzell.

"Then you may go," rejoined Admiral Timworth, rising and returning the
parting salutes of the young officers.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was presently noised about among the ship's company that Ensigns
Darrin and Dalzell had been ordered ashore on special duty.

"How did you work it?" Lieutenant Barnes irritably demanded of Danny
Grin.

"Why? Do you want to work a trick yourself?" asked Dalzell,
unsympathetically.

"No such luck for me," growled Barnes. "While in port I am ordered to
take charge of shifting stores below decks."

"Fine!" approved Dan.

"And I wish I had you for junior officer on that detail," growled
Barnes.

"If I get tired of staying ashore," Danny Grin proposed genially,
"I'll make humble petition to be assigned as junior on your detail."



CHAPTER IX

M. DALNY PLANS A TRAGEDY


"Say, I wonder if these people call this a square deal," muttered
Danny Grin, as he surveyed the dish that the waiter had just left for
him. "I called for ham and eggs and potatoes, and the fellow has
brought me chicken and this dish of vegetables that none but a native
could name."

"Call the waiter back and ask him to explain his mistake," Ensign
Darrin suggested, smilingly.

"I can't talk their lingo," returned Dalzell plaintively.

"Nor can I speak much of it, either," admitted Dave.

"Can you speak any Italian?"

"Only a little, and very badly at that."

"Where did you learn Italian?" demanded Danny Grin.

"From an Italian-American cook on board our ship," Darrin explained.

"Whew! You must have done that while I was asleep," Dalzell
complained.

"I don't know enough Italian to carry me very far," laughed Darrin.
"Perhaps between two and three hundred useful words, and some of the
parts of a few verbs. Let me see just what you thought you were
ordering."

Dan held out a somewhat soiled bill of fare on which the names of the
dishes were printed in Italian and English.

"I tried to pronounce the Italian words right," Dan went on, with a
grimace.

"Let me hear you read the words over again," Dave begged.

Dan did so, his comrade's smile deepening.

"Dan," said Dave dryly, "you speak Italian as though it were French.
Italian is too delicate a language for that treatment."

"But what am I to do about this chicken?" Danny Grin persisted.

"Eat it," suggested Darrin, "and use some of your time ashore in
getting closer to the Italian language."

Dave was served with just what he had ordered for a pleasing meal--an
omelet, spaghetti and Neapolitan tomatoes, with dessert to follow.

"I'm no great admirer of chicken, and I did want ham," sighed Dan, as
he glanced enviously at his chum's dainty food. Nevertheless Ensign
Dalzell ate his meal with an air of resignation that greatly amused
Dave Darrin.

The restaurant was one of the largest and handsomest to be found along
that great thoroughfare of Naples, the Riviera di Chiaja. The place
would seat perhaps four hundred guests. At this hour of the day there
were about half that number of persons present, many of whom were
Americans.

The chums had succeeded in obtaining a small table by themselves,
close to an open window that overlooked the sidewalk.

Watching the throngs that passed, both on foot and in carriages of
many types, the young naval officers felt certain that at no other
point could they obtain as good a general view of the city of Naples.
Many well-to-do Italians were afoot, having sold their carriages and
automobiles in order to buy the war bonds of their country. As there
were several Italian warships in port, sailors from these craft were
ashore and mingling with the throng. Soldiers home on sick leave from
the Austrian frontier were to be seen. Other men, who looked like mere
lads, wore new army uniforms proudly. These latter were the present
year's recruits, lately called to the colors and drilling for the work
that lay ahead of them, work in deadly earnest against hated Austria.

All that went on before the café was interesting enough. It was not,
however, until near the end of the meal that anything happened of
personal interest to Dave and Dan.

Then there was a quick step behind them, next a voice cried gaily:

"My dear Monsieur Darrin, who could have expected to see you here?"

"Any one who knew that my ship is in the harbor might have expected to
see me here," replied Dave, rising and smiling. "How do you do,
Monsieur le Comte?"

It was indeed the Count of Surigny, and that dapper, well-set-up young
Frenchman was nattily dressed, smiling, and with an unmistakable air
of prosperity about him.

Dan had also risen. Then as the three seated themselves Dave inquired
what refreshment his friend of Monte Carlo would allow them the
pleasure of ordering for him. The Count asked only for a cup of
coffee, after which the chat went merrily on.

"My dear Darrin, I rejoice to be able to tell you that I have
determined never again to visit Monte Carlo," said the Count.
"Moreover, I am prosperous and happy. Ah, what a debt of gratitude I
owe you! I know you must be wondering why I am not serving my country
in the trenches."

"I knew you must have some good reason for not serving in the French
army at such a time," Dave replied.

"I tried to enter the army," Surigny replied, "but the surgeons
refused to pass me. One of my eyes is too weak, and there is, besides,
some little irregularity in the action of my heart that would make it
impossible for me to endure the hardships of a soldier. So, despite my
protests and entreaties, the surgeons have refused to accept me for
military service."

"Is it permitted to ask if you have found employment?" Dave inquired.

"I have found employment of a sort," the Count rattled on, without a
shade of embarrassment. "It might be questioned if I am worth the
remuneration which I receive, but at least I am happy. I am permitted
to serve a friend in some little matters of a personal nature."

That answer was enough to prevent Dave from making any further
inquiries as to the Count's new means of a livelihood.

"It gives me the greatest happiness to be able to see you again, and
to hear your voice," continued the Count. "I am here in Naples only as
a matter of accident, and it may be that my stay here will be short. I
was at a table in the rear with a friend when I espied you sitting
here. Is it permitted that I bring my friend over and present him?"

"We shall be delighted to meet any friend of yours, Surigny," Dave
replied pleasantly.

"Then I shall bring him here at once," replied the Frenchman,
lightly, rising and moving rapidly away.

"I wonder what line of work the Count can be in now," mused Dalzell,
aloud. "It would appear to be something that pays him very well and
allows him to travel. I wonder if the friend he is to introduce to us
is the one that employs him."

"We shall know that if Count Surigny chooses to inform us," smiled
Dave.

Then their talk ceased, for they heard the Count's voice in
conversation with some one as he came up behind them.

"My dear Monsieur Darrin," cried the Count, "I am honored in being
able to present to you Monsieur Dalny."

Ensign Darrin rose, wheeled and thrust out his hand. Then his eyes
turned to the newcomer's face.

Nor could the young naval officer repress a slight start, for M. Dalny
was unmistakably one of the two men whom he had overheard on the
veranda of the Casino at Monte Carlo.

"Monsieur Darrin," replied M. Dalny, accepting Dave's hand, "I feel
that I am indeed honored in being able to meet one who, I understand,
has been such a friend to my friend the Count of Surigny. I shall hope
to see much of you."

Dalny was then introduced to Dalzell, after which, at Dave's
invitation, the newcomers seated themselves. Fresh coffee was ordered.

But Dave Darrin's head was now in a good deal of a whirl.

As to the identity of M. Dalny, there could be no mistake whatever.
And here was the Count of Surigny, evidently in the friendship of this
plotter against the American Navy. It was not unlikely that the Count,
too, was in the employ of this enemy of the United States.

"What can this whole thing mean, and does Surigny _know_ that he is
working against the peace and honor of my country?" Dave asked
himself, his pulses throbbing.

"Are you to be here long at Naples, Monsieur Darrin?" Dalny soon asked
in his most velvet-like tones.

"I really haven't the least idea, Monsieur Dalny," Dave replied
truthfully, forcing a smile. "I am not deep in the confidence of
Admiral Timworth."

"I thought it very likely," purred Monsieur Dalny, "that you might
have heard from your officers as to how many days of shore liberty are
likely to be granted your sailors."

"Oh, probably we shall--" began Dan, who found the French conversation
easy to understand in this instance.

But the slightest of signs from Darrin was sufficient to check
Dalzell's intended statement. So Danny Grin merely finished:

"Probably we shall hear soon how long our stay here is to be."

"Are you interested, Monsieur Dalny, in the length of our stay here?"
queried Ensign Dave, gazing carelessly into the eyes of the stranger.

"Oh, it is but a matter of idle curiosity to me," replied the other,
shrugging his shoulders amiably. "Just as you understand it would be a
matter of a little curiosity, my dear Monsieur Darrin, to know whether
the American fleet now in the harbor here will keep together for the
next few weeks, and what ports you will visit. But I imagine that you
have, as yet, no information on such points."

Dave did not reply to M. Dalny's remarks, who, however, did not appear
to notice the omission. Drawing forth a long cigar and lighting it,
Dalny puffed away, seeming to prefer, after that, to listen to the
conversation of the others.

"Who can this Monsieur Dalny be?" Dave asked himself, racking his
brain. "And of what nationality? The word 'Monsieur' is French in
itself, though Dalny is hardly a French name. Perhaps it makes little
difference, though, for men who sell their time and services as I am
afraid this Dalny fellow is doing, are quite likely to masquerade
under assumed names."

Presently M. Dalny excused himself for a few moments. Sauntering
toward the rear of the restaurant, he stepped into a side passage,
then made a quick entrance into a private room, the door of which he
instantly locked. He now crossed the room and stood before the
solitary diner in that room.

"My dear Mender!" cried Dalny.

"Your face betrays interest, Dalny," remarked the other, who was the
older of the pair whom Dave had heard on the Casino veranda.

"And I am interested," continued Dalny, in a low tone. "I have met the
two young officers from the American flagship."

"That is what you are here to do," smiled Monsieur Mender.

"The fellow Darrin refuses me any information about the movements of
the American fleet."

"That was perhaps to be expected," answered Mender reflectively.

"But I fear matters are worse than that," Dalny went on hurriedly.

"Explain yourself, Dalny."

"Darrin did not see my face until he rose to greet me, when Surigny
introduced us," continued Dalny. "Then he started, slightly, yet most
plainly. Monsieur Mender, that young American naval officer knows
something about us."

"Not very likely, Dalny."

"Then he at least suspects something."

"Why should he?"

"Monsieur Mender," hurried on Dalny, "you recall that evening on the
Casino veranda at Monte Carlo? You and I, as we approached a little
grove of potted trees, talked rather more incautiously than we should
have done."

"It was an indiscretion, true," nodded the white-haired Mender
thoughtfully.

"And, afterwards, as you know, I told you I thought I heard someone
move behind those little trees."

"And so--?"

"I suspect, Monsieur Mender, that it was Ensign Darrin, of the
battleship 'Hudson,' who stood behind those trees, and who overheard
us."

"I wish I knew if such were the case," replied M. Mender huskily, his
face paling with anxiety.

"If Darrin overheard our talk, he doubtless reported it to his
superior officers," declared Dalny.

"Unquestionably--if he really heard," admitted Mender.

"Then that pair of young officers, for they are close friends, must
have been sent ashore to see if they could get track of the numerous
party whom you direct, my dear Monsieur Mender."

"You believe that the two young American officers are ashore in Naples
as spies upon us?" questioned Mender, his tone cold and deadly.

"It would seem so," Dalny answered readily.

"In that case--" began Mender, slowly, then paused.

"In that case--what?" demanded Dalny, after waiting a few moments
while his chief reflected.

"It would mean that the Italian authorities, as soon as informed of
what is suspected against us, would send out their keenest men to
locate us, and then we should be arrested."

"What could be done to us?" queried Dalny.

"In these war days not very much evidence is required against men who
are accused of being spies, my excellent Dalny. We might or we might
not be accorded a trial, but one thing is quite sure; we would be shot
to death on the charge of being spies."

As he pronounced these significant words Mender shrugged his
shoulders. His manner was cool, one would have said almost
unconcerned.

"You are right," agreed the younger plotter. "The Italians, like all
the other peoples engaged in this war, hate spies bitterly, and would
be quick to mete out death to us."

"It would be desirable," Mender proceeded, "to prevent the young
officers from going back aboard their ship."

"How?" asked Dalny, bluntly.

Mender laughed, cold-bloodedly, in a low tone.

"In Naples," he explained, "there are, as you know, my dear Dalny,
hundreds of bravos, some of whom are the most desperate fellows in the
world--men who would stick at nothing to earn a few _lira_. And they
will ask no awkward questions as to which country they serve in aiding
us."

"Then you would have Darrin and Dalzell seized, by night, by some of
these bravos, and carried away to a secure place where they could be
confined until your plans have been carried through?" inquired Dalny,
thoughtfully.

"It is always dangerous to have banditti seize men and hide them away,
especially in a country that is engaged in war," replied Mender,
slowly. "Now, if, in one of the narrow, dark streets of Old Naples,
these young Americans were settled by a few quiet thrusts with the
blade, their bodies might then be dropped into a sewer. The bodies
might not be found for weeks. On the other hand, captives, no matter
how securely hidden, may find means to escape, and all our care in the
matter would go for naught. Besides, these Sicilian bravos of Naples
much prefer to settle a man with one or two quick thrusts with a
narrow blade, and then--But what is the matter, Dalny? Does the use of
the knife terrify you?"

"No!" replied Dalny, huskily. "I was merely thinking that, if a man
like either Darrin or Dalzell escaped from a knife, after seeing its
flash, and if he suspected me of being behind the attempt, either
young man would be likely to lay hold of me and snap my spine."

"If you are fearful of the chances and of the possible consequences,
Dalny," replied Mender coldly, "you may withdraw."

"No, no, no!" protested Dalny quickly. "You are my chief, Monsieur
Mender, and whatever you wish I shall do."

Mender puffed for a few moments at a Russian cigarette, before he
again spoke.

"Dalny," he said, "you may be sure I do not distrust either your
loyalty or your courage. Go back to your Americans. Detain them as
long as needful at the table, no matter by what arts. Within twenty
minutes I shall have a leader of Neapolitan bravos here, and I shall
have a plan to unfold to him. Then he will go and post his men. You
will receive instructions from me that you cannot mistake. You are
right in fearing Darrin and Dalzell. We can afford to take no chances.
That pair of young American officers shall have no chance of reporting
our presence in Naples to their superior officers. Sooner than permit
the least risk of interference with our plans I shall remove them from
our way."

"Darrin and Dalzell are to be killed, then?" asked Dalny hoarsely.

"They shall be snuffed out," replied Mender, flicking the ash from his
cigarette. "Go, Dalny, and do your part as far as you have heard it
from me. I will attend to the rest. Do not be uneasy."

Dalny made a low bow before his cold-blooded chief, then left the
private room, returning to Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, whose death,
under the knives of cowardly treachery, he must do his best to help
bring about!



CHAPTER X

TREACHERY HAS THE FLOOR


"You will not have much time for sight-seeing, I am afraid," Count
Surigny was saying, as Monsieur Dalny soft-footedly returned to the
table.

"I do not know how much time we shall have," Dave answered.

"If you have but little time, then it will be most unfortunate," spoke
Dalny softly, with his engaging smile. "Naples is vastly rich in
things that are worth while seeing."

"We are not likely to have the time to see many of them," Darrin
answered.

"That is most unfortunate," replied the Count, in a regretful tone.

"Yet there is a way to partly overcome that misfortune," suggested Mr.
Dalny.

"How, Monsieur?" inquired Darrin, turning his gaze on the face of the
international plotter.

"Why, secure a good guide, engage a carriage drawn by good horses, and
then move from point to point as fast as possible," replied Dalny. "I
know Naples well. Perhaps I can offer my services for, say, this
evening."

"Are the public places of interest likely to be open in the evening?"
questioned Dave.

"Not the museums," admitted M. Dalny. "But there are many other things
to be seen. Naples has several beautiful parks. Some of them contain
notable statues. These parks are the nightly resort of all classes of
the Italian community, who are always worth observing. Then, too,
there are many curious glimpses to be had of the night life of the
underworld of Naples. In a word, Monsieur Darrin, there are enough
night sights, of one kind and another, to fill profitably a month in
Naples. And, as I know the city, you may command me. I will be your
guide. Shall we go to-night?"

"Where could we go, with the most advantage in the matter of
sight-seeing?" Dave asked.

"Out toward Vomero," suggested young Count Surigny.

"Too fashionable, and very dull," replied Dalny, with a shake of his
head.

"Then where?" asked Dan.

But Dalny's reply was lost to him, for at that moment Darrin, holding
a rolled napkin at one side of the table, and below the level of the
table top, waved it slowly back and forth. Dan was the only one of the
party at the table who could see the moving napkin. By this simple
wig-wag signal device Dave Darrin sent to his chum the silent
message:

"Dalny is one of the plotters I overheard on the Casino veranda. Think
he suspects us. Follow my lead."

The instant that the message ended Dan glanced slowly around him, then
upward at the ceiling.

Soon Dalny's interest in the table talk waned for outside on the
sidewalk he caught sight of a young Neapolitan dandy, standing on the
curb, his back turned to the restaurant as he swung a jaunty little
cane. The motions of that cane spelled out a message that only Dalny,
of all the party at the table, could read. And that message read:

"Get carriage, take Americans for drive at dark. Finally, direct
driver to turn into the Strada di Mara. Leave carriage with Americans
when urged by shop-keeper."

That was the whole message. It was plain enough, however, to instruct
Dalny as fully as he needed to be directed. The scoundrel, as he
watched the swinging movements of the cane, looked out into the street
between half-closed eyelids, slowly puffing out rings of smoke from
his long cigar.

"We are becoming dull, good friends," laughed Dalny presently,
glancing at the others. "Suppose we order more coffee."

"No more for me, thank you," protested Dave.

"But you have had hardly any coffee," Dalny declared.

"I am ready to admit that I can't keep up with the average American in
drinking coffee," Dave replied.

"But you will have more, my dear Dalzell," urged Dalny.

Dan, who was inwardly agitated over the information he had received
secretly from his chum, looked at Dalny almost with a start. In Dan's
soul there was loathing for this foreigner with the engaging smile.

"I do not believe I can stand any more coffee," confessed Dan.

"So you and I, Surigny, must drink all the coffee at this table," said
Dalny, with a shrug of his shoulders.

"I can drink a little more," replied the Count.

The day was now rapidly waning, bringing on a balminess of evening
such as is found in few places other than Naples. The streets were
becoming crowded with pedestrians.

"Waiter," called Dalny, "you will be good enough to secure for us a
carriage with good horses. Get it as quickly as you can."

But the waiter, perceiving a signal from Dalny, knew that the carriage
must not arrive too soon.

In the meantime Dave scanned the bill that had been presented for the
meal, then laid a banknote on the bill. The waiter, returning,
attended to the paying of the bill and received his "tip" from the
change that he brought back.

The party lingered at the table to wait for the arrival of the
carriage that was intended to convey Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell to
their death.

"My dear Count," said Dalny presently, "I regret much that the
appointment which you told me you had for this evening will prevent
you from going with us. Can you not manage to break the appointment
without doing injustice to others?"

Taking his cue from the manner in which the question was put, the
Comte of Surigny replied:

"It would delight me beyond measure to be one of the party to-night,
but it is impossible. My appointment cannot be set aside."

The restaurant was brilliantly lighted, and the street lights had
begun to flash out as the carriage arrived.

"Now, for a night of real sight-seeing!" cried Dalny, rising eagerly.
"My dear Americans, I promise you something such as you have never
before experienced!"

"I am heartily sorry that you are prevented from going with us,
Surigny," declared Dave, holding out his hand to the young Frenchman.

"I shall pray for better fortune next time," smiled the Count, rather
sadly.

"We are all desolate that you cannot go with us, Surigny," declared
Dalny, also holding out his hand. Dan, too, shook hands with Surigny.
Then the international plotter led the two Americans to the carriage
awaiting outside.

After the Count of Surigny had waved his hand to the party and had
walked away, Dalny placed Dave and Dan on the rear seat of the
barouche, while he himself sat facing them.

A few words in Italian from Dalny, and the horses started. For half an
hour the driver took his fares past ordinary sights.

"But we are not much interested, driver," cried Dalny, turning at last
to the man who held the lines. "We are bored with this dullness, when
Naples holds so much that may be seen by night. Take us through the
Strada di Mara."

So the driver headed his horses toward the eastern, or older, part of
the city. The Strada di Mara leads through one of the most thickly
populated sections of Naples, and a part of the street extends up a
steep hillside.

"You see how poor the people are here," said Dalny, as the horses
slowed down to a walk. "We shall come soon, however, to a more
interesting part of the street. Crime lurks here, also; not the more
desperate crimes though. The Strada di Mara, in one part, is the
resort of thieves who wish to dispose of their petty plunder by
turning it into cash. And, as strange merchandise is dealt in here,
the shops offer a variety of wares. We will presently look into one or
two of the shops."

"What on earth can Dalny be driving at?" wondered young Ensign Darrin.
"Can he think that we would enter such shops, and buy the plunder that
thieves have sold there?"

At the next street corner an Italian lad with a sweet voice began to
sing. Danny Grin noticed that most of the people in this steep, narrow
alley, that was by courtesy called a street, were now going indoors.
Only a man here and there remained outside.

"That's curious," thought Dan to himself. "Don't these people like
music, that a street singer should drive them inside?"

When the carriage had passed on to the next block a man came out of a
shop and waved his hand to the driver, who promptly reined in his
horses.

"Gentlemen," urged the shop-keeper, in English, "be kind enough to
step inside and look at some of the bargains I am offering."

Dave, who understood, whispered to Dalny:

"It can hardly be worth while to get out and look at what is probably
stolen goods."

"On the contrary," rejoined Dalny, "this man is likely to show us some
things that will help me in explaining the interesting points of
Naples to you. Come!"

Opening the door of the carriage, the international plotter stepped
out, leading the way. Of course Dave and Dan followed him.

It now turned out that the Italian's shop was some doors farther up
along this block. As he led the way, and Dalny and the Americans
followed, neither young officer observed that the driver had turned
his horses around and was driving away.

At the same time, the few men now on the sidewalk of this block
started to close in on the little party.

Tragedy was stepping across the threshold!



CHAPTER XI

HEMMED IN BY THE BRAVOS


Suddenly out of a doorway lurched a big Sicilian, seemingly
intoxicated.

He lurched against Dave, then drew back, scowling fiercely at the
young ensign.

"Your mistake, sir," spoke Darrin, purposely using English.

Dave would have passed, but now the fellow placed himself squarely in
Darrin's way.

"You have struck me!" snarled the Sicilian in his own language. "Why?"

Then, uttering a peculiar cry, the man, with a movement of wonderful
swiftness, drew a knife. In the dim light that blade flashed like
subdued fire.

"One, two, three--out!" gritted Dave Darrin, leaping forward.

Striking up the fellow's arm, Dave caught at the knife-wrist. He
twisted it savagely and the weapon clattered to the rough pavement.

Bump! Dave struck the fellow hard between the eyes, sending him to
earth, where he lay still.

Dan, now keenly alert, discovered that the pretended shop-keeper had
also drawn a knife.

"To quarters!" yelled Danny Grin.

"Back to back!" shouted Dave, placing his shoulders close to his
chum's. "Dan, we must fight for our lives. The lives of all these
cattle are not worth a scratch on our bodies! Down 'em!"

"We'll make ten-pins of 'em," hissed Dalzell.

And Monsieur Dalny? That honorable gentleman was now scuttling down
the street to safety.

The fight that followed was a mixture of boxing, football tactics and
sheer Yankee grit that Dave and Dan now employed as they faced more
than half a dozen scoundrels armed with the long, thin knives of the
bravos of Naples.

Bump! Ensign Darrin struck up the arm of the first scoundrel to reach
for him. In a twinkling Dave had broken that rascal's right wrist,
forcing the fellow to drop his weapon.

Like a flash Dave caught his victim up, holding him overhead and
sending the bravo, heels first, into the face of another scoundrel.
The man, struck by this human missile, went to earth dazed, and with a
broken jaw to boot.

Dalzell, too, was proving the stuff that was in him. Dodging a
descending hand that held a knife, then landing a smashing blow over
the fellow's heart, Dan sent him to earth. At that instant a knife
would have gone through Danny Grin's ribs had not Dalzell let one of
his feet fly with such speed and skill as to break another bravo's
shin-bone.

Crouching low, Dave received still another assailant. Seizing him
below the knees, then rising, he hurled the ruffian over backward on
his head, the fall nearly snapping the owner's spine at the neck and
leaving him unconscious.

Two more men were quickly downed, and seemed inclined to stay there.
The young ensigns had not received a scratch so far, which was due as
much to luck as to their own skill.

Now a wail of terror rose on the air. Two of the bravos took fairly to
their heels. The rest wavered, then gave way, glaring with sullen
looks at these young Americans who could fight so terribly without
weapons.

"Come on!" urged Dave, in a low voice. "Let's get out of here! There
is no credit in staying here and taking on more fighting. Let's hurry
while the hurrying is good."

Only one of the bravos was ahead of them as the young naval officers
began their sprint. That fellow was trying to get out of harm's way,
but hearing pursuit at his heels, the frightened fellow halted
suddenly, wheeled and struck out with his knife at Ensign Darrin.

Dave dodged, then landed both fists against the ruffian's ribs,
knocking the fellow clean through a window with a great crashing of
glass.

"Hustle!" muttered Dalzell, as he halted to wait for his chum. "There
may be a hundred more of these fellows who can be called out on a
single block."

But there was no pursuit. The bravos had had enough. Afterwards it was
a matter of local report that two of the rascals handled by Darrin and
Dalzell all but died of their injuries. The Strada di Mara contained
no bravos reckless enough to follow these incredible Americans on this
wild night of trouble.

Still sprinting, Dave, with Dan at his heels, overhauled a running
figure. Dave shot out his right hand, gathering in, by the coat
collar, Monsieur Dalny.

"My friend," uttered Dave grimly, as he halted the fugitive, "this
does not appear to be one of your best fighting nights."

"I--I--I--" stammered M. Dalny, his face white. "I--I--"

"So you said before," Dave retorted dryly. "Let it go at that."

"Do you mean to charge that I ran away?" demanded Dalny, with a show
of injured dignity.

"Certainly not," retorted Dave, ironically. "You were merely trying to
show two scared Americans the shortest way back to a safe part of
Naples."

"It's not safe here," whispered Dalny, trembling. "We are almost
certain to be followed by an enraged mob. Let us use discretion."

The word "discretion" recalled Darrin to the fact that he must not be
too rough with the fellow through whom he hoped to learn something of
great interest to Admiral Timworth.

"You are right, Monsieur Dalny," agreed the young ensign. "Let us
waste little time in getting away from this part of Naples."

No walk could have been too brisk, just then, for Dalny. He was not a
coward in all things, but he felt a deadly terror of cold steel.

In addition, this international plotter had, just then, a lively
conviction that friends of the men whom these American officers had
handled so roughly might, if they overtook him, feel a decided thirst
for vengeance upon the man who had led such giants against the bravos
of the Strada di Mara.

"Why are you looking back so often?" Dave asked, as the three gained
the next corner.

"To see if we are pursued," confessed Dalny.

"That is prudent," Darrin smiled, "yet hardly necessary."

"What do you mean?" asked the international plotter.

[Illustration: "Dave shot out his right hand."]

"Because," explained Dan, grinning, "the only bravos who have any
reason to be afraid of us to-night are those who might get in front
of us. Those who keep behind us will have every chance to get away
unharmed."

"You are a droll pair," muttered Dalny.

"And, unless I am greatly in error, my fine fellow, you led us into
that trap for the purpose of having something bad happen to us,"
muttered Dave, but he kept the words behind his teeth, for he did not
care, as yet, to come to an open quarrel with this fellow.

Before long the three reached one of the broader, well-lighted
thoroughfares. Here they engaged a driver and carriage, and were soon
once more in the Riviera di Chiaja.

As they passed one of the larger buildings, Mender, looking down upon
the avenue through the blinds of a window of a room at the hotel, saw
the three as they drove past an arc light.

"What can be the matter with that simpleton Dalny?" muttered the
arch-plotter. "Did he, at the last moment, fail in the courage
necessary to lead the Americans into the trap that I had baited for
them?"

Ten minutes later Dalny, closeted with his chief, was relating to that
astounded leader the story of what had happened in the Strada di Mara.

"I cannot understand it," muttered Mender.

"No more can I," rejoined Dalny. "The Americans are demons when it
comes to fighting."

"At some point, my good Dalny, you must have bungled the affair."

"Why not say that the fault must have been with your choice of
bravos?" jeered the subordinate. "Why did you pick out alleged bravos
who would allow themselves to be put to flight by unarmed men?"

"I must wait until I have a fuller report of this night's
misadventure," declared Mender. "I dare say that, within a few hours,
I shall have more exact information."

In this belief Mender was quite right. Before daylight he was visited
by the leader of the bravos of the Strada di Mara, who announced that
he must be paid two thousand _lira_ (about four hundred dollars) as
extra money to be divided among his outraged followers.

In the case that this extra money was not forthcoming, declared the
leader of the bravos, Mender and his friends might find Naples much
too dangerous a city for them.



CHAPTER XII

EVIL EYES ON SAILORMAN RUNKLE


In the center of a huge room in the Hotel dell' Orso, overlooking the
Chiaja, Dave Darrin and Dalzell came to a halt.

Below they had just left Dalny in the carriage, and had come straight
up to their room, which they had engaged when first they came ashore.

They had not, as one might suspect, overlooked the opportunity of
finding whither Dalny drove after leaving them. For a short,
broad-shouldered young man, Able Seaman Runkle, U. S. S. "Hudson," had
been on the lookout for them on the sidewalk.

Runkle, by special order of Captain Allen, U. S. N., was not in
uniform, but in civilian attire. In another carriage Able Seaman
Runkle, at Dave's order, followed the conveyance that took Dalny back
to the appointed meeting place with Mender. The sailorman's carriage
did not, of course, stop when Dalny's vehicle did, but kept slowly on.

"Shadowing" is often a two-edged tool. When Runkle returned to his
post he, in turn, was followed by the same dandy who had done the cane
signaling late in the afternoon.

"That fellow Dalny is almost too bad medicine for me to swallow," Dan
muttered with a wry smile.

"Of course he is a liar and a villain," Dave returned seriously. "But
when a man is wanted to do the foulest kind of work, I suppose it must
be rather hard to find a gentleman to volunteer. Probably Dalny's
employers feel that they are fortunate enough in being able to obtain
the services of a fellow who _looks_ like a gentleman."

"He led us into that trap to have us assassinated," Dan declared
hotly.

"Or else to have us so badly cut up that we would feel, in the future,
more like minding our own business," suggested Ensign Dave with a
smile.

"We got out of it all right that time," Dan went on bluntly, "but I
don't want any more such experiences. The next time we might not have
luck quite so much on our side."

"What puzzles me," Dave continued, wrinkling his brows, "is why Dalny
or any of his crowd should want us stabbed."

"They wanted us killed," Dan insisted. "Nothing short of killing us
would have satisfied those bravos if they had succeeded in getting us
at their mercy. Yet why should our death be desired?"

"For only one reason," Dave answered, the truth coming to him in a
flash. "Dalny is here in Naples, for which reason his white-haired
fellow-plotter is probably here, too. We were sent ashore to find out
if they are here. When Dalny shook hands with us this afternoon he
perceived that I recognized him as one whose remarks I undoubtedly had
overheard at Monte Carlo. He then concluded that I had been sent
ashore to find out if he were here. He knew, or suspected, that I
would report my information to the Admiral. Hence the determination to
kill me, and, since you are with me, to kill you also. Our bodies
would have been hidden, and the Admiral would have been able only to
guess why we did not return to the ship. Dan, what hurts me most is
the practical certainty that the Count of Surigny is now with that
band of international cut-throats. I had hope for a nobler future for
the Count, and also I am disappointed to find him working for my
enemies. He must hate me fearfully because I thwarted his one-time
purpose to commit suicide!"

"I wouldn't have believed the Count could be so bad," Dan mused. "Yet
the proof appears to be against him."

"Why, of course he's one of their band," Dave continued. "It's a
fearful thing to say, but it is plain that I saved only an ingrate and
a rogue from the crime of suicide. However, Dan, we are losing time. I
must begin my report to Captain Allen."

At that instant there came a slight scratching sound at the door.
Tiptoeing to the door, Dalzell opened it far enough to admit Seaman
Runkle, who, as soon as the door had been closed and locked, promptly
saluted both young officers.

"What is your report, Runkle?" Dave demanded.

"Your party in the carriage, sir, dismissed the rig at this address,"
reported the sailorman, handing Ensign Darrin a slip of paper.

"You did well," Dave answered. "Find a seat, Runkle, until I have
written a note which you are to take aboard to Captain Allen."

Within fifteen minutes the letter was completed. It was not a long
document, but gave, in brief form, a summary of the adventures and
discoveries of the two ensigns since coming ashore.

"You will take this aboard, Runkle," Dave directed, "and you will see
that it reaches Captain Allen, even though he has turned in and has to
be awakened. You will tell the officer of the deck, with my
compliments, that such orders were given me by Captain Allen. Now,
Runkle, don't let anything interfere with your speedy return to the
ship. Also remember that you may be followed, and that Naples is a bad
town in which to be trailed at night."

"I'm not afraid of the bad people of Naples, sir," rejoined the
sailorman, with a quiet smile. "Do you expect me to return to you,
sir?"

"That will be as Captain Allen directs."

"Very good, sir. Good night, sir."

Able Seaman Runkle was shown out by Ensign Dalzell, who locked the
door of the room after the departing sailorman.

In the meantime a spy who had followed Runkle back to the Hotel dell'
Orso had telephoned, in a foreign language little understood in
Naples, the information concerning that sailorman's reporting to his
officers, and had added the suggestion that very likely the sailor
would be sent out to the fleet with a written report.

"I think it highly probable that the sailor _will_ be sent with a
written report," agreed Mender, at the other end of the telephone
wire.

"And if the sailor does try to get out to the fleet?" insinuated the
spy.

"If the man leaves the hotel to go to the water front," commanded
Mender, in a voice ringing with energy and passion, "see to it that
he is laid low and that the letter is taken from him. At any cost I
must have turned over to me any written report that Ensign Darrin
tries to send to his commanding officer. Nor am I through with Darrin
himself!"



CHAPTER XIII

ORDERS CHANGE IN A MINUTE


"Hullo! What does that fellow want?"

Able seaman Runkle was within a block of the mole where the "Hudson's"
launch was due to cast off at half-past ten o'clock, but he halted in
his tracks.

From a doorway, a little nearer to the mole, a head was thrust out
slightly as its owner surveyed the sailorman.

Then the man stepped out of the doorway to the sidewalk. He was a big
fellow, with something of the slouch and swagger that are to be
observed in the tough the world over.

Now this stranger stood quite still, sharply regarding the pausing
sailorman.

"If there are less than six of that breed ahead of me," muttered
Runkle, staring ahead once more, "then it doesn't make any real
difference."

Two more men slipped out of dark recesses further on, while, an
instant later, Runkle became aware that two men, who had not been
visible a few moments before, were now closing up behind him.

"I wonder what these chaps think they're going to do," mused Runkle,
his sailor heart quaking not at all, though he scented fight in the
air. "Hullo!"

Now a sixth man stepped out from a doorway just at his side. With a
lusty push this sixth man sent Runkle out into the street.

"Where are your manners, my man?" demanded Seaman Runkle, returning to
the sidewalk. "And what do you mean by that?"

Suddenly the muzzle of a revolver gleamed in Runkle's face, but the
sailor did not betray any sign of fright.

"Put that down!" ordered Runkle sharply, at the same time making a
gesture to indicate his command.

A reply was volubly given in Italian, of which Runkle understood not a
word.

In the few seconds that this was happening the five other swarthy men
began to close in on the sailor. Runkle lost no time in discovering
that fact.

A gesture from the man with the pistol showed that he expected Runkle
to hold up his hands.

"You'd rather see my mitts aloft, eh?" asked the sailor, in a mocking
voice. "All right, then!"

Up went the sailor's hands, as high as he could raise them. A gleam of
satisfaction shone in the eyes behind the revolver, but that look
instantly changed to one of pain.

For Runkle, while holding his hands high, also raised one of his feet.
That foot went up swiftly, and high enough to land against the lower
edge of the bravo's pistol wrist. In a jiffy the wrist was broken and
the pistol came clattering to the pavement.

"Much obliged," offered Runkle, snatching up the weapon. Then he
raised his voice to yell:

"If there are shipmates within hail let 'em hurry here to keep Jack
Runkle from killing a few rattlesnakes!"

Just in time to escape the points of two knives, Seaman Runkle backed
against a stucco wall, thrusting out the revolver and his able left
fist.

The first two men who leaped at him went down under the impact of that
fist. A third received a scalp wound from the butt of the revolver.
Any court would have exonerated the sailorman for killing his
assailants, but Dave's messenger was much too good-natured to kill
while there was another path to safety.

That kindliness undid Runkle's defense. As a man rushed him on each
side a third bravo dropped low in front of him and seized the seaman's
legs, upsetting him.

"Foul tackle, with a dozen to one!" growled Runkle, as he felt himself
going down.

Still he laid about, freeing his feet and using them while he plied
his left fist and struck out with the revolver. Even now he did not
want to press the trigger of the weapon, which was soon snatched away
from him.

With hoarse cries, several of the bravos now held the sailor so that
he could barely squirm.

Swiftly moving fingers roamed rapidly through his pockets. Then one of
the cowardly assailants snatched out of one of Runkle's pockets a
letter, muttering a few words to his companions.

Striking a match the thief glanced at the address on the envelope.
Even if he knew no English he could discern that the envelope was
addressed to Captain Allen of the "Hudson."

With another quick word the thief vanished through a doorway. Up from
the enraged sailor leaped those who had been holding him down.

"Sheer off there! Belay! belay!" growled several hoarse voices.
Rushing up, cat-footed, came a dozen or more fresh-faced, husky young
jackies from the fleet.

"Come on, mates! The maccaroni-eaters are sneaking away!" yelled the
foremost of the rescue party, that had come from the mole in answer to
Runkle's call.

Only two of the Italians were slow enough to be overtaken and
manhandled by the jackies. The rest of the assailants vanished swiftly
into nearby houses, the doors to which were instantly closed and
bolted.

For perhaps twenty seconds the two captured bravos were badly used.
Then, thoroughly cowed, they were allowed to slip away.

"What happened to you, shipmate?" demanded one of the rescuers.

"Enough!" growled Runkle. "They got my money."

"Much?"

"All I had."

"Tough luck," declared one of the sailors.

"The chap who has your money surely got away before we could reach
him."

"I've got to get aboard the flagship as soon as I can," exclaimed Able
Seaman Runkle ruefully.

"The launch leaves in ten minutes, mate," volunteered another. "Those
of us who are going aboard will now do well to get back to the mole."

So Jack Runkle departed with his rescuers, but his eyes flashed the
vengeance he would take should he meet his despoiler again.

On the way out to the flagship Runkle sat silent and out of the run of
talk that was going on around him.

Going up over the side of the "Hudson," Runkle reported himself on
board, and then added to the officer of the watch, Lieutenant Totten:

"I've a message for the Captain, sir, and have orders to report to
him immediately on coming aboard."

"Orders from an officer of this ship?"

"Yes, sir."

"I'll send an orderly to see if the Captain is still awake," replied
Lieutenant Totten.

"I beg your pardon, sir," Runkle persisted, "but I have orders to say
that Captain Allen, by his own request, is to be called, if necessary,
sir, in order to hear my message."

"Very good," nodded Lieutenant Totten, and turned to an orderly,
sending him to Captain Allen's quarters.

"The Captain will see Seaman Runkle at once," the orderly reported a
few moments later.

Saluting Lieutenant Totten, Runkle turned and hastily presented
himself before the door of the Captain's quarters.

"You have something to report, Runkle?" questioned Captain Allen,
seating himself at his desk.

"Yes, sir. Ensign Darrin gave me a letter to bring to you, sir. It may
interest you, sir, to know that on my way back to the ship I was
attacked near the mole by a mob of cut-throats. One of them held me up
with a revolver, but I got it away from him. Then they all attacked
me, and soon had me down, sir. One of the rascals took all my money
and a letter addressed to you."

"Took Ensign Darrin's letter away from you?" demanded Captain Allen,
looking, as he felt, a good deal disturbed.

"No, sir; not Ensign Darrin's letter, sir," replied Able Seaman
Runkle, with just a shadow of a grin. "It was a letter addressed to
you, but I have reason to believe, sir, that Ensign Darrin's letter is
still safe. If you'll permit me, sir, I'll look for the ensign's
letter where I placed it, after leaving the ensign and before quitting
the hotel."

Captain Allen at once nodded his permission. Runkle partly undressed,
then explored the place where he had concealed Dave's letter.

"What was the other letter addressed to me that was taken away from
you, Runkle?" questioned the captain, while the search was going on.

"It wasn't really a letter, sir," the sailorman replied, this time
with a very broad grin. "It was just an envelope addressed to you, and
filled with blank paper."

"Who addressed that envelope?"

"I did, sir."

"And why?"

"Because I thought that Ensign Darrin's letter might be important, and
I had an idea that some skulking sneaks might try to take it away from
me."

Then Runkle, having put his clothing in order, stepped towards
Captain Allen, holding out an envelope.

"I think, sir, you'll find that this is Ensign Darrin's letter, and
that it's just as he gave it to me, sir."

Captain Allen hastily broke the seal, took out the enclosure, and read
rapidly, a frown gathering on his face all the while.

"Runkle," cried the Captain, springing up and placing a hand on the
sailorman's shoulder, "did Ensign Darrin suggest to you the ruse that
fooled your assailants?"

"No, sir."

"You did it on your own initiative?"

"I--I did it out of my own head, sir, if that means the same thing,"
replied the puzzled sailor slowly.

"It does mean the same thing," continued Captain Allen, "and, Runkle,
I'm proud of you. That's a good headpiece you have on your shoulders,
and I shall make note of it on your record. You have shown good
judgment. You have a head fitted to meet difficulties. You may look
for promotion in the near future."

"Have I your permission, sir, to ask if that was Ensign Darrin's
letter and if it was in good order?" asked Runkle.

"It was, my man, thanks to your intelligent and courageous
performance of duty. Runkle, how much money did the bravos take from
you?"

"Eighteen dollars in real money, sir, and about two dollars in _lira_
money."

Sailors sometimes call the Italian money "lira money," because the
lire, which is worth about the same as the French _franc_, or twenty
cents, is the common unit of Italian currency. "Lira" is the plural of
"lire."

"I am afraid you don't like the Italian money very well, Runkle,"
smiled Captain Allen.

"I don't, sir, and I don't like the people of this country any better.
Not after the beating I got to-night."

"That wasn't the fault of the Italian people, Runkle," declared the
Captain. "Toughs in New York would use you at least as badly as did
the bravos ashore to-night. The Italian people themselves are very
friendly to us, and the government does all in its power to show its
friendship for our country. If I were to send ashore complaint of your
being attacked to-night the police would dragnet the city in an effort
to find the men who attacked you, and, if found, it would go hard with
them. But for reasons that I cannot explain to you, no complaint will
be made. I do not wish the Italian police to know what took place
to-night. As to the money that you lost, I will have you make
affidavit before the paymaster, to-morrow, and will see that the money
is repaid to you. Runkle, you may tell your mates anything you like
about the fight, but do not mention the fact to any one, that you bore
with you and were searched by bravos for a letter from Ensign Darrin."

"Very good, sir."

"That is all, Runkle. You may go, but remember that I have you in mind
as a man of good and quick judgment, and as one who has the courage to
carry his duty through in the face of any obstacles."

"Thank you, sir."

Saluting, the sailorman left the Captain's quarters. A minute later
Captain Allen sent an orderly to the Admiral. Three minutes later
Admiral Timworth received the commanding officer of the flagship.

Quickly Captain Allen placed Dave's letter in his superior officer's
hands.

"This is live news, indeed," cried the Admiral, as he laid the letter
down. "Darrin and Dalzell are doing clever work."

"But their work is suspected, sir, as the letter shows. Moreover, the
fellow spies of Gortchky and Dalny are shadowing our two young
officers ashore, for the messenger who brought this letter was
attacked by bravos. Our messenger was robbed of his money and of a
faked letter with which the sailor had provided himself."

Captain Allen then repeated Runkle's story.

"You have Runkle slated for promotion, of course?" asked Admiral
Timworth.

"Certainly, sir."

"A man like Runkle, if he keeps to his present promise, should go as
high in the Navy as it is possible for an enlisted man to go,"
declared the Admiral. "But, Captain, the organization and desperation
of our country's enemies worry me. It is plain that some very
desperate scheme is afoot for making trouble between England and our
country. That would drag us in against all of the Entente Allies if
the success of the plot should involve us in war with England at this
time. The proposed sinking of a British warship is the inkling we have
had, but the real scheme may be something else. The first clue of all
that we had, even before Darrin and Dalzell came aboard at Gibraltar,
came from the American Embassy at Paris. Our Ambassador, under orders
from Washington, has our secret service at work there, which keeps our
government directly in touch with many of the doings of international
plotters. It seems to me highly important that Ensign Darrin should be
detached long enough from this ship to be sent to Paris, where he
should repeat to our Ambassador all that he knows, and give close
descriptions of the spies with whom he has come in contact. Having
made his report, Darrin can return to the ship at Genoa, which will be
our next port of call in these waters."

"Would you send Mr. Darrin alone, sir?" asked Captain Allen. "He might
be trailed and again attacked. Would it not be far better for Ensign
Dalzell to go with him?"

"Yes, and perhaps it may be as well for Runkle to go, too, as their
orderly," replied the Admiral, after a moment's hesitation. "There is
a train leaving for Paris at four in the morning. Where is Lieutenant
Totten?"

"He will be off watch in an hour, sir."

"Let Lieutenant Totten go ashore to carry my written instructions to
Ensign Darrin. I will enclose the necessary funds in an envelope with
my instructions. Totten, on his return to the ship, will be able to
assure me that the communication reached Ensign Darrin safely, and
that Darrin, after reading my instructions, which will be brief, tore
up and burned my letter."

"Shall I send Runkle ashore in uniform or in citizen's dress?" asked
Captain Allen.

"In citizen's clothes, as before," replied Admiral Timworth. "I will
call my flag lieutenant. Kindly see that the paymaster is sent to me,
Captain."

Fifteen minutes later the Admiral's letter of instruction had been
signed, and a substantial amount of money enclosed.

On coming off deck duty at eight bells, midnight, Lieutenant Totten
was instructed to order a launch alongside. Then, with the bulky
envelope in an inner pocket, and accompanied by Seaman Runkle, Totten
went over the side.

A few minutes later the launch delivered them at the mole, then glided
out into the bay.

"I hope we shan't run into a gang of hoodlums again," said the
sailorman respectfully.

"I have my revolver with me," smiled the lieutenant. "The Italian
police would feel grateful if I sank its six bullets into six bravos
of Naples."



CHAPTER XIV

DAN HAS VERY "COLD FEET"


Rap-tap!

That sound brought Dave Darrin out of a sound sleep. Dan slumbered on.

"Who's there at this hour of the night?" asked Dave, through the door,
in the best Italian he could muster.

"From the 'Hudson,'" came the answer, in a voice so low that Dave did
not recognize it.

"One minute, then."

Dave slipped back, shaking his chum to rouse him, then drew the
curtains around Dalzell's bed.

In record time Dave drew on his own shirt, slipped into trousers, put
on collar, cuffs and tie, and followed this with coat and vest.

Then he stepped to the door, opening it. Repressing his natural cry of
astonishment, Dave silently admitted his visitors, next closed and
locked the door.

"Orders from the Admiral," said Lieutenant Totten, in an undertone,
and passed over the envelope.

Stepping under the light which he had hastily turned on, Darrin read
his orders.

"Read this, Dan," said Dave, passing the letter of instructions to his
chum, who was now also fully dressed. "Then I will read it once more,
after which we will burn it."

"Suits me," commented Dan, when he had finished and was passing back
the letter. "I've always wanted to see Paris."

"You won't see much of it this time," smiled Ensign Dave. "This is
business, and nothing else."

Then Dave tore the letter into strips. Taking these to the open
fireplace he set fire to them. All three officers watched until the
letter had been completely burned.

"And now," Dave continued, "I will mix this charred paper thoroughly
with the ashes that, fortunately, are left in the grate."

When he had finished, the mixing had been done so well that they would
be keen eyes, indeed, that could note the presence of minute particles
of burned paper in the grate's contents. His next act was to telephone
the hotel clerk to send up a time-table.

"We have plenty of time, yet," smiled Darrin, glancing at his watch,
after he had finished consulting the time-table. "It won't be the
height of comfort to travel to Paris without baggage. However, when
we get there we can buy anything that we may need."

"It will be great to shop in Paris," cried Dan, his eyes gleaming.

"Don't get the idea that we are going to do any running about in
Paris," Dave warned his chum.

"Not even if we have some idle time there?"

"Not even then," Dave answered. "I am very sure that neither the
Admiral nor the Ambassador would wish us to show ourselves much at the
French capital. We might thereby attract the attention of spies."

"That is true," agreed Lieutenant Totten.

Business being now attended to, Dave and Dan had time to finish
dressing comfortably. Then followed a period of waiting. Later the
hotel clerk was asked to summon an automobile. In this the Paris-bound
party, including Runkle, left the hotel, Totten accompanying them.

No sooner, however, had the American party left the hotel than an
Italian, crouching in the shadow of a building further along on the
same block, whispered to his companion:

"Telephone Signor Dalny for instructions."

Within three minutes a second automobile rolled up to the hotel.

"To the railway station first, on the chance of finding the Americans
there," the spy called to the driver.

Dave's party did not have long to wait at the station. Totten remained
with them to the last, however, that he might be able to report a safe
start to the Admiral.

"Don't look, sir, but coming up behind you, I am certain, is a fellow
I saw on the street outside the hotel just before we started,"
reported Seaman Runkle.

"Then we are being trailed," Dave said.

Not until the time came for starting did Lieutenant Totten shake hands
hurriedly with his brother officers and leave them, though he still
stood near the train.

Dave and Dan sprang into their compartment in one of the cars, Able
Seaman Runkle following more slowly.

"There's that spy fellow getting on the running-board further down the
train, sir," whispered Runkle.

"I expected him," answered Dave dryly.

"Would you like to lose him, sir?"

"Off the train altogether, do you mean, Runkle?"

"Yes, sir."

"Can you put him off without hurting him?"

"I think I can get him off, sir, without even scraping one of his
knuckles."

"You're at liberty to try, Runkle, if you are sure you won't injure
the man."

As the guard came along, locking the doors, Runkle leaped down to the
ground.

"Help, Mr. Totten, help!" called the seaman in a low voice that none
the less reached the ears of the departing lieutenant.

Then Runkle moved directly up to the spy leering into his face and
making insulting signs that caused the fellow to flush red.

"You're no good--savvy?" insisted Runkle in a low tone, making more
faces and gestures.

So quickly was it done that the now thoroughly insulted spy, though he
did not understand English, leaped at Runkle in a rage.

"He's going to try to rob me, sir!" cried Runkle, not very effectively
dodging the blows that the fellow aimed at him.

"Here, what are you up to?" demanded Totten, also in English, as he
reached out to grab the spy's collar.

In that strong grip the spy writhed, but could not escape.

"Thank you, sir," cried Runkle, with an unmistakable wink, after which
he raced for the car and the compartment in which the two young
ensigns waited.

"Lieutenant Totten is holding on to the chap, sir," announced Runkle
gleefully. "He won't let him go until the train's out, either."

Holding the unlocked door open a crack, Dan Dalzell watched as the
train pulled away from the station.

"Totten has him, and is explaining to a policeman," Dalzell chuckled.
"That spy doesn't travel with us this trip."

"What's the odds?" asked Darrin, after a pause. "Dalny must belong to
a big and clever organization. He can wire ahead to spies who will
board the train later on and follow us into Paris."

"Then, with your leave, sir, I'll keep my eye open for spies until
we're back aboard the flagship," suggested Runkle.

"Very good, so long as you break neither laws nor bones, Runkle," Dave
laughed.

The Americans had the compartment to themselves. Had all been in
uniform Runkle would not have been likely to travel in the same
compartment with the young officers, but in citizen's dress much of
discipline could be waived for greater safety.

Though Dan Dalzell did not now have much hope of sight-seeing in
Paris, he was able, after dozing until daylight, to gaze interestedly
out upon the country through which he was traveling.

Able Seaman Runkle was another absorbed window-gazer. As for Ensign
Dave Darrin, while he caught many interesting glimpses of the scenery,
his mind was mainly on the question of how the international plotters
were planning to break the friendship between the two strongest
nations on earth.

By what means could these plotters sink a British ship, and yet make
it appear to be the work of Americans?

Hundreds of miles had been traveled, and one day had swung far on into
another before a plausible answer came to Darrin's mind.

Then Dave fairly jumped--the thing that Admiral Timworth so dreaded
now looked quite easy.

"What's the matter?" asked Dan, staring at his chum.

"Why?" countered Dave.

"You jumped so hard," Dan replied.

"I was thinking."

"Stop it!" advised Danny Grin. "A little harder thinking than that
might wreck the train."

Dalzell enjoyed every hour of the journey. In the daylight hours he
was busy "taking in" all the country through which the train passed.
In the evening hours, Dan was outside on the platform, at every
station, to watch the crowds, large or small.

As for Seaman Runkle, that splendid lad was absorbed, almost to the
point of gloom, in watching at every station for a sign of a spy on
the train with them.

Before they reached the French-Italian frontier Dave realized, with a
start, that Admiral Timworth had failed to provide them with such
credentials as would probably be called for in crossing the
Italian-French frontier, and that they had forgotten to ask for such
papers. However, at the frontier stop their friend Dandelli, the
Italian naval officer, in uniform, almost ran into them. He was glad
to vouch for the pair to the French and Italian guards at that point,
and, after some hesitation, Dave and Dan were allowed to proceed into
France.

"But be careful to have proper papers when returning, if you come this
way," Dandelli smilingly warned them.

It was seven o'clock on the second morning after leaving Naples when
the express reached Paris.

Hardly had the train stopped when Darrin and Dalzell were out and
moving through the station. Seaman Runkle kept at a distance behind
them, his sharp eyes searching for any signs of spies. But Runkle was
able to make no report of success when he stepped into the taxicab in
which his superior officers sat.

Danny Grin was again busy with his eyes as the taxicab darted through
the beautiful streets of the French capital.

"What are you laughing at?" Dave asked suddenly, noting that Dan's
grin was even wider than usual.

"Paris strikes me that way--that's all I can tell you," drawled Dan.

"Do you consider Paris a joke?" demanded Darrin.

"Of course not. But Paris has the name of being such a gay town--in
peace times, of course. But at this early hour the city looks actually
gray to me. If the look of the city doesn't improve, later in the day,
I can't understand how any one can feel like being gay."

"Paris and the world have managed well enough, in the past, to combine
for gayety," Dave replied. "Just now, of course, with all the men
thinking of war, and so many women wearing black for dear ones they've
lost at the front, the city can't show much of its former gayety.
Paris is going through her ordeal of fire. These are dark days for
good old France!"

Suddenly Dan's face fell grave.

"Now, what's the matter?" quizzed Darrin.

"I've just had a horrible thought," Dan confessed. "You haven't been
concealing from me, have you, the fact that, though you had no
frontier passport you have a letter or some form of credentials to the
American Ambassador?"

"I haven't anything of the sort," Dave rejoined, he, too, now looking
grave.

"A fine lay-out this is, then," growled Danny Grin. "Here we are,
going to the American Ambassador on a matter of the utmost delicacy.
We are going to tell him and ask him some of the secrets of the United
States government, and we haven't a scrap of paper to introduce us. Do
you realize what we'll get? The Johnny-run-quick! We'll get the
balluster slide, the ice-pitcher greeting! Dave, we're going to land
hard on the sidewalk right in front of the Embassy. And then some
frog-eating, Johnny Crapaud policeman will gather us in as disorderly
persons! Fine!"



CHAPTER XV

AT THE AMERICAN EMBASSY


As the taxicab dashed around a corner Dave raised his cap.

"Well, this must be our destination," he announced. "I've just saluted
Old Glory as it flutters over the building."

The taxicab came to a stop before a handsome building.

On each side of the posts of the gateway stood a brass shield on which
was the inscription:

"Embassy of the United States of America."

Very gravely Dan and Runkle followed Dave, each raising his hat to the
Flag as soon as his feet touched the sidewalk.

"There's a carriage entrance below," said Dave, "but we'll take the
plain way and walk in."

Paying and dismissing the taxicab driver, Dave led the way to the
entrance.

"A naval party to see the Ambassador, at his convenience, on
business," Dave announced to the attendant at the door.

They were shown to an anteroom near the door, where they were soon
joined by a Mr. Lupton, who introduced himself as Second Secretary to
the Embassy.

"The ambassador, Mr. Caine, will not be here before nine o'clock,"
announced Mr. Lupton. "I know that you are expected. You have not
breakfasted?"

"No," Dave confessed.

"Then I will ask you to let me be host. Before I lead the way I will
ring for some one to see that your sailorman is well taken care of."

Five minutes later Darrin and Dalzell were seated at a small breakfast
table with Mr. Lupton.

"Just before reaching here," began Dave, "it occurred to Mr. Dalzell
and myself that we have, beyond our card-cases, no means of
identification. Can you tell us how Mr. Caine will be sure that he is
talking with the right persons?"

"I believe that will be arranged all right," smiled Mr. Lupton. "I,
too, have taken you gentlemen on trust, but presently, I believe, we
are going to be satisfied."

Two minutes later there stalked into the room a tall, handsome young
man whose navy uniform set off his good figure to great advantage.

"Jetson?" exclaimed Dave, rising.

"The same," smiled the newcomer, advancing and holding out his hand.

He and Dave shook hands heartily, after which Dan came in for a
similar greeting.

Readers of the Annapolis series will recall Jetson as being a fellow
member of the Brigade of Midshipmen with Darrin and Dalzell at the U. S.
Naval Academy. At one time, there, Dave and Jetson had not been
good friends, but Dave had, at the very great risk of his own life,
saved Jetson from drowning. Now, the two young officers were on
excellent terms.

"I understand, now, what was darkness to me before," murmured Dave,
after Jetson had seated himself at table. "Admiral Timworth knew that
you were here, Jetson, and able to identify us."

"I have been here for three months," explained Jetson, smiling, "doing
some work to assist the naval attaché of this Embassy, Commander
Tupper. I have had three months of the hardest work in this old
capital, but now, confound it, my work here has ended and I'm ordered
to join my ship. The bridge and the quarter-deck are places of boredom
to a fellow who has seen what I've seen here. Why, I've even made two
trips up to the front--one of them to Verdun."

"Lucky dog!" cried Danny Grin, with feeling. "So you've seen some of
the big fighting!"

"It may be well to state that I know fully the business on which you
are ordered here," Jetson continued, "so you may mention it freely
before me if you are so inclined."

"Then can you tell me," Dave asked, "if it is known how our enemies
propose to sink a British warship and make it appear to be the work of
someone in the American Navy?"

"I cannot," Jetson replied. "In fact, it was only on receipt of a
wireless from near Monte Carlo that the Ambassador had any knowledge
that the international plotters intended to attempt the destruction of
a British warship as a means for creating bad feeling between the two
countries. The whole plot seems foolishly improbable to me."

"It doesn't seem so to me, any longer," rejoined Dave.

"Then you must know some thing that I haven't heard about," murmured
Jetson curiously.

"Mr. Darrin," broke in Mr. Lupton, "I will be the Ambassador's
authority for you to speak as freely of the matter as you choose."

Dave and Dan thereupon told all that had befallen them at Monte Carlo
and at Naples.

"But still," Jetson broke in perplexedly, "how is the sinking of a
British warship to be brought about with safety to the plotters, and
how is the crime to be laid at the door of the American Navy?"

"I wish to speak to the Ambassador on that point before I mention it
to any one else," Dave answered.

"Have you told Dalzell?" pressed Jetson.

"I have not."

"He certainly hasn't," complained Danny Grin sadly. "Dave always tells
me after he has told every one else."

"Danny boy," Dave rebuked him, "where do you hope to go after you
die?"

"Paris," Dalzell answered promptly.

Breakfast lasted until word came that the Ambassador was ready to
receive the two young officers from the flagship of the Mediterranean
Fleet. Then Jetson left his friends.

Mr. Caine, to whom Mr. Lupton presently introduced the ensigns, was a
man in his fifties, rather bald, and with a decided stoop in his
shoulders. At home he was a manufacturer of barbed wire, and his
business, as Danny later suggested, had perhaps helped to give him
some of his keenness and sharpness. He was slenderly fashioned, and
reminded one, at first, of a professor in a minor college.

It was when the Ambassador transacted business that some of his
sterling qualities came out. He was recognized as being one of the
cleverest and ablest of American diplomats.

"I am glad to meet you, gentlemen," said the Ambassador, shaking
hands with Dave and Dan and then motioning them to seats, which an
attendant placed for them. "Mr. Lupton, you have doubtless had
Jetson's assurance that these young men are the persons they claim to
be?"

"Yes, sir," Lupton rejoined.

"Then tell me all you can of this matter," urged Mr. Caine.

At a look from Second Secretary Lupton, the attendant withdrew from
the room. Dave and Dan were soon deep in the narration of events in
which they participated at Monte Carlo and at Naples.

"I know the young Comte of Surigny," remarked Mr. Caine, "and I am
deeply disappointed to learn that he is among our foes, and in such a
mean capacity as the one in which he must be employed. The young man
comes from one of the most ancient families in France, though he has
never been well-to-do, for his ancestors attended to the insuring of
his poverty. The gambling streak has run through several generations
of the family."

Then Dave and Dan continued with their story, Ambassador Caine paying
close attention to all they said.

"Gortchky is expected in Paris soon," announced the Ambassador
presently.

"Is he, sir?" Darrin asked quickly. "Would it be indiscreet for me to
ask if you know why he is coming here?"

"I have nothing more definite than suspicion," replied Mr. Caine.
"Paris, which has one of the best detective systems of the world, is
also noted as being the principal headquarters for conspiracies
against governments. Not only do the anarchists and nihilists look
upon Paris as their Mecca; but other scoundrels working out nefarious
plans for wicked governments also meet here to lay their dastardly
plots. Gortchky may be coming here to secure new agents to take the
place of those already known to the Americans who are watching him and
his men; or he may be coming here to hold a conference with the men
higher up, who are directing his scoundrelly work against the peace of
England and America."

"I take it, sir, that your secret service men will make every effort
to find out what Gortchky does in Paris, and for what real purpose he
is here, and--"

Here Ensign Dave Darrin broke off abruptly, coloring deeply.

"I beg your pardon, sir," he apologized hurriedly. "I had no right to
ask you such a question."

"I have no objection to answering you," said the Ambassador seriously.
"Of course my men will make every effort to find out what Gortchky is
up to here, if he comes to Paris, but I do not know how well they will
succeed. In the game of making trouble between nations Emil Gortchky
is an old and wary bird. It may very likely be that the fellow is
coming to Paris only to try to draw my secret service men into the
worst kind of a wild-goose chase leading only to clues that are worse
than worthless. Gortchky, in other words, may be on his way to Paris
only to draw our attention away from vital moves about to be made
elsewhere by other members of his rascally band. Of course, on due
complaint, we could have him arrested as a spy, and it would go hard
with him here in Paris before a military court. But in that case there
are others in the band of plotters whom we do not know and cannot
locate. So, for very good reasons, we prefer to have Gortchky at
large."

"I would like immensely to see Gortchky in Paris," Dave muttered.

"Perhaps you will have your wish," replied Mr. Caine, with an odd
smile.

Soon after that the interview came to an end, but Dave and Dan
remained in the Embassy building through the day. An attendant was
sent out to get them what they needed in linen and other small items.

Dinner was to be served at seven o'clock, and, as Mr. Caine did not
wish the presence of the young officers from the Mediterranean Fleet
in his house to be known, it was arranged that they should dine in a
smaller room alone with Mr. Lupton.

At six, however, the Ambassador sent in haste for Dave to come to his
office.

"That invitation doesn't seem to include me," remarked Dalzell, rather
ruefully, as he glanced up from a book he was reading in the Embassy
library.

"I'm afraid it doesn't," Dave returned.

Mr. Caine was at his office desk, holding a telegram sheet in his
hand.

"Gortchky is expected in town at 7.30 this evening, Mr. Darrin,"
announced the Ambassador.

"Is there anything that I can do in this matter, sir?" Darrin asked,
after a pause.

"You may go and watch for Gortchky, if you think it possible to do so
without his detecting you," Mr. Caine replied slowly.

"The opportunity would delight me beyond measure," Dave rejoined
quickly. "I suppose I had better take a taxicab that I may be ready to
give effective chase in case Emil Gortchky uses that kind of
transportation."

"I can supply you with a taxicab and with a chauffeur who can be
trusted," replied the Ambassador. "The driver I have in mind is a
highly intelligent fellow who has many times been employed by me. And
you can dismiss him at any point, or retain him as long as you wish.
The bill for the taxicab charges will be sent to the Embassy. How soon
do you wish to have this taxicab here?"

"Perhaps I should have it at once," Dave replied. "Gortchky would know
me in these clothes at first glance, so it would be advantageous if I
arranged to disguise myself. On the streets, as we came here, I
noticed not a few young men wearing baggy suits of clothes of most
un-American cut. They wore also flowing neckties, and some of them had
blue eyeglasses. There are so many of these young men about that one
more would hardly attract Gortchky's attention. That style of dress
would make a good disguise for me."

"The young men you describe are largely students and artists," replied
the Ambassador. "A disguise of that kind would be less conspicuous
than any other."

"Then, sir, if the chauffeur can come here soon, he will have time to
take me to stores where I can get the articles of apparel I need, and
I shall still have plenty of time to meet Emil Gortchky if he reaches
Paris this evening. I will go and tell Mr. Dalzell about Gortchky
being expected to arrive here to-night."

"Tell Mr. Dalzell, if you wish, but you had better not take him with
you," replied Mr. Caine. "Two young men would attract more attention
than one. I am approving of your undertaking this because, to date,
you have learned more about this conspiracy than any three of the
secret service men whom I have at my orders."

Dave hurried away to Dan, who was highly disappointed at being left
out of the evening's work.

"But I have the joke on you, anyway," Danny Grin suddenly declared.

"How so?" asked Dave.

"I shall have my dinner," laughed Dalzell; "you won't have any."

"I could forget my meals for three whole days to stay on the trail of
Gortchky," Dave answered, simply.

Then he hurried out, for the arrival of the taxicab was now announced.
Darrin had a minute's conversation with the chauffeur, after which he
entered the car.

One thing the young ensign quickly discovered, and that was that on
the smooth pavements of Paris, and in the well-ordered traffic,
taxicabs travel at a high rate of speed. Within five minutes he had
been set down at the door of a shop in which he found it possible to
buy every item of his disguise, even to shoes, for Darrin suddenly
remembered that his footwear was plainly American.

In fifteen minutes more Dave Darrin emerged from the store. In one
hand he carried his discarded clothing, packed in a new bag, which he
turned over to the chauffeur for safe keeping. All of his money,
except a small sum, he had left behind at the Embassy.

If any policeman had seen him enter the shop and come out again
presenting so changed an appearance, and if for that reason the
policeman should question him under the impression that Darrin might
be a spy, Dave decided that he would rely upon his chauffeur to
declare that he had been hired at the American Embassy. That statement
would remove suspicion.

"You had better kill time for a few minutes," Dave explained to the
chauffeur, who understood English. "It is not desirable to reach the
railway station earlier than 7.20."

Accordingly the young ensign enjoyed a brief, rapid panoramic view of
a considerable part of Paris. The driver, accustomed to taking
Americans about who were strangers in the city, frequently turned his
head to offer information as to the places or points of interest that
they were passing.

"It's a shame that Danny boy isn't here to enjoy all this," Dave told
himself. "Even this way of seeing Paris would be a great treat to
him."

Almost to the second of 7.20 the taxicab drew up as one of a long line
of similar vehicles under the bright lights of the railway station.

Alighting, Ensign Darrin, feeling rather well concealed in his
disguise, and looking out through his blue-lensed eyeglasses, strolled
about, careful not to saunter into the most brilliantly lighted spots.

Presently he heard a train enter the station. A thin stream of
passengers filtered out. Dave promptly shifted his position and
watched the arrivals, who later came out in a more compact throng.

And there was Emil Gortchky, at last, with no more marked hand luggage
than a light cane, which he swung jauntily.

"I hope you don't look my way, my fine bird!" uttered Ensign Darrin
under his breath. "But if you do, your observation won't do you much
good."

A hand beckoned from a taxicab. Emil Gortchky, who had been on the
lookout, sauntered over to the vehicle and clasped the hand of M. le
Comte de Surigny.

"Surigny, the ungrateful!" uttered Dave disgustedly to himself. "I
induced you to spare your own worthless life, and then when you found
life sweet once more, you turned against me! I hope you did not notice
me as you sat in that cab."

By this time Dave was at the side step of his own taxicab. A few words
to the chauffeur, and he entered.

Surigny's cab drew out of the line, gliding away. The one in which
Dave sat gave chase at a cautious distance.

Soon the speed of the leading cab increased, and the pursuing
one followed at the same speed. After a considerable run both
cabs turned into the broad, well-lighted Boulevard Haussman.
For some blocks both cabs ran along. Then the one ahead turned
in before an imposing-looking building with a gleaming white
marble front.

"The Grand Prix Club," explained Dave's chauffeur, glancing back as he
stopped on the other side of the boulevard some distance to the rear.

It was the Count of Surigny who left the cab, which then started
forward.

"Is there gambling going on in that club?" asked Darrin, as his man
started the car forward again.

"Naturally," replied the chauffeur, shrugging his shoulders.

"It is easy to understand, then," Dave muttered to himself. "Poor
Surigny is no longer his own master in anything, for he is a slave to
the gambling craze that ruins so many lives. Gortchky furnishes the
young man with money for gambling--lends it to him, of course, and
thus keeps the Count desperately in his debt. And so the young Count
has to do, when required, the bidding of the scoundrel who gloats over
the helplessness of his dupe. Poor Surigny!"

Into less handsome avenues and streets the taxicabs now turned. Then a
distinctly shabby looking part of Paris was unfolded to the gaze of
the young naval officer.

"The Rue d'Ansin," announced the chauffeur, at last.

"A bad street?" Dave inquired.

"Yes."

"The haunt of criminals?"

"Criminals are seen here," the chauffeur explained, "but their real
lurking places are in some of the alleys, farther along, that lead off
from the Rue d'Ansin. Late at night, monsieur, it is better to ride
through this street than to be afoot on the sidewalk!"

"Is it the part of Paris where one would come to meet or to confer
with desperate criminals?" Dave asked.

"Many of the Apaches live hereabouts," replied the chauffeur, with
another shrug.

Dave had read of these dangerous thugs, the so-called "Apaches,"
native toughs of Paris, who commit many bold robberies on the streets
by night, and even, sometimes, by day, and who seldom hesitate to
kill a victim or a policeman if murder will render their own escape
sure.

To an observer the Apache appears to be equally without fear and
without conscience. The Apache is many degrees more dangerous than his
more cowardly cousin, the "gun-man" of New York.

"I hope you will not have to take to the streets here, Monsieur," said
the chauffeur.

"If I have to do that, I am not afraid to take a chance," Darrin
answered, imitating the Frenchman's shrug with his own broad
shoulders.

Ahead, Gortchky's taxicab was slowing down, and the pursuing vehicle
did the same. Dave peered about to see if some one were waiting to be
taken up by Gortchky, but, instead, Gortchky descended.

"Drive close to the curb on the other side of the street," whispered
Darrin. "Merely slow down so that I may slip to the sidewalk. Then go
ahead, waiting for me around the corner two blocks away."

"One block away would be better, Monsieur," urged the chauffeur.

"Make it two," Dave insisted crisply.

Stepping out on the running board, Dave leaned well forward, thus
making it possible to close the door of his car as it slowed down.
Then, as Dave stepped to the sidewalk, the taxicab moved forward more
rapidly.

Searching in an inner pocket, Emil Gortchky, down the street on the
other side, did not look up, and apparently did not observe the
maneuver on the part of Dave's chauffeur. Dave slipped quickly into a
darkened doorway, from which he could watch the international spy with
little danger of being observed.

Taking out a little packet of papers, and moving toward a street lamp,
Gortchky selected one of the papers, thrusting the rest back into his
pocket. As he did so, one white bit fluttered to the sidewalk.

Reading under the street lamp the paper he had selected, Gortchky put
that particular paper in another pocket. Then he turned abruptly,
plunging into the depths of an alley-like street.

Sauntering slowly across the street, in order not to attract too much
attention from other passers on the badly lighted Rue d'Ansin, Ensign
Darrin, his gaze glued to that piece of paper, soon reached it and
picked it up.

"For that scoundrel to drop this paper, of all others that he had in
his pocket!" gasped Dave Darrin, as, under the street light, he took
in its nature.

Then he paled, for this paper seemed to confirm absolutely the young
ensign's suspicion as to the way in which the British battleship was
to be destroyed.

All in a twinkling Dave's pallor vanished, for he had something else
to think about.

On the alley-like side street a quick step was heard that Darrin
recognized. It was that of Emil Gortchky, hastily returning to find
the paper that he had dropped in the heart of Apache Land!



CHAPTER XVI

"SEEING" THE PARIS APACHES


Like a flash Darrin thrust the paper into one of his own pockets. Then
he turned, darting into a near-by doorway dark enough to conceal him
from Gortchky's eyes, if he should look in that direction.

"I've no reason for fearing an encounter with Gortchky, unless he
knows how to summon the murderous Apaches to his aid," Dave told
himself as he pressed back as far as he could into his hiding place.
"I don't want Gortchky, however, to know I'm watching him, and I don't
want to lose this precious paper any more than he does."

Touching the door accidentally with the hand that rested behind his
back, Dave was delighted to feel it swing slightly open. In another
instant he had backed into a corridor, softly closing the door after
him.

"Now Gortchky won't find me, and I'm all right, unless I am discovered
by one of the occupants of this house, and turned over to the police
as a burglar!" thought the young naval officer exultantly.

Gortchky's step, now slower, went by the door, which Dave had left
ajar by only the tiniest crack.

"I cannot have lost that paper here, after all," Dave heard the
international spy mutter in a low voice. "Certainly it has not been
picked up, for I came back almost instantly, and there was no one
near. It is not likely that I shall ever see that important little bit
of paper again."

Yet for a few moments longer Dave heard the international spy moving
about as though still searching. Then the fellow's footsteps died out
as he went around the corner.

"I'll wait a few minutes before I step out," Darrin decided. "Gortchky
may only be laying a trap, and even at this instant he may be peering
around the corner to see if any one steps out of one of these
doorways."

Waiting for what seemed to be a long time, but what was actually only
a few minutes, the young ensign stepped out to the sidewalk again.

There were a few people on his own side of the block, and the sight of
any one leaving a house was not likely to arouse curiosity in the
minds of the denizens of that neighborhood.

As Dave neared the next corner, however, four rough-looking fellows
came out of a little café. Their bearing was full of swagger. These
young men, in dress half student and half laborer, with caps pulled
down over their eyes and gaily-knotted handkerchiefs around their
necks, displayed the shifting, cunning look that is found in the
hoodlum everywhere.

As they reached the sidewalk, moving with the noiseless step peculiar
to the Apache, they heard Darrin briskly coming along. Halting, they
regarded him closely as he neared them.

"They look like hard characters," Dave told himself. "However, if I
mind my business, I guess they'll mind theirs."

It was not to be. One of the Apaches, the tallest and slimmest of the
lot, regarded Darrin with more curiosity than did any of the others.

"Ho!" he cried. "See how stiffly our little student carries himself!
He must have been to see his sweetheart, and feels proud of himself."

"He has the stride of a banker," jeered another. "I wonder if he has
his bank with him."

Dave's ear, quickly attuned to the French tongue, caught and
understood the words.

"Let me see what you look like," urged the slim fellow, reaching out
and plucking from Darrin's nose the blue eye glasses just as Dave was
passing the group.

That gesture and the act were so insulting that Ensign Darrin could
not keep back the flash that leaped into his eyes. He halted,
regarding the Apache steadily.

"Why, bless me! He's an American!" cried the Apache. "All Americans
are rich, you know. My friend, have you a few sous for a group of poor
workingmen?"

Dave essayed to pass on. As he did so, a foot was thrust out. Dave saw
the movement and leaped over the foot to avoid being tripped.

"At him!" hissed the slim Apache. "Let us shake out his pockets."

Dave sprang forward, although he knew that he could not hope to run
away. Instead, he leaped to a wall, placing his back against it. There
he halted, glaring defiantly at his assailants, his fists up and ready
for instant action.

"Sail in! Trim him!" snarled the slim one. "If our little American
shows fight--kill him!"

The first who reached Dave reeled back with a broken nose, for
Darrin's first was hard.

"Stick the pig!" cried the leader, meaning that the young officer was
to be stabbed. Not one of the four had a knife, it seemed.

As they surrounded him, the one with the injured nose having returned
to the fray, that slim Apache drew out a sandbag, long and narrow,
shaped like a sausage, made of canvas and filled with sand. This is
one of the most deadly weapons in the world.

"Let us see what soothing medicine will do!" he jeered.

In an instant all four had brought sandbags to light, and all closed
in upon the desperate American.

"Come on, you cowards!" roared Dave, forgetting his French and lapsing
back into English. "If I go out I'll take one of you with me."

Trying to tantalize their victim, the Apaches made thrusts at Ensign
Dave, and then leaped nimbly back. It was their hope that he would
spring forward at them and thus leave his rear unguarded. It is
easiest to use the sandbag on a victim from behind, though the tactics
now employed were favorites with the Apaches.

Dave had sense enough to divine the nature of their trick. Unless the
police arrived promptly he expected to be killed by these jeering
scoundrels, but he was determined to sell his life dearly enough.

Suddenly the young naval officer saw his chance and used it. One of
his dancing tormentors got in too close. Darrin's right foot shot up
and out, landing across the Apache's knee-cap.

Uttering a howl of rage and pain, the fellow all but crawled back.

"Kill the American," he howled. "Don't play with him."

Instantly the three remaining assailants worked in closer, yet with
all the caution of their wily natures.

"Rush me!" taunted Dave, again in English. "Don't be so afraid. If you
mean to kill me why don't you show courage enough to do it? Come on,
you sneaks!"

Though the Apaches could not understand what the young ensign said to
them, they knew the drift of his jeering words. Their faces contorted
with rage, they struck at him, Dave's arms working like piston rods in
his efforts to ward off their blows.

Close to the wall, slipping along on tip-toe came a tall figure. Then
suddenly a newcomer leaped into the picture.

Biff! smash! Struck from behind in the neck, two of the Apaches
pitched forward, going to earth. Dave Darrin, with a feint, followed
up with a swinging right-hand uppercut, laid the last of the Apaches
low, for the fellow sitting in a doorway, nursing his knee and
cursing, no longer counted.

"Quick! Out of here!" ordered the newcomer, seizing Dave by the arm
and starting him along.

"Jetson!" gasped Ensign Darrin, looking into the face of his rescuer.

"Yes," answered his brother officer. "Hurry along!"

"Jetson, you've saved my life this time. That pack of wolves would
have killed me in spite of my best defense."

"We're not out of trouble yet," retorted Jetson, fairly pushing Darrin
along. "Those Apaches will revive in a few seconds."

"Pooh! Together, Jetson, we could thrash half a dozen of their kind,
and find it only exercise."

"But, my boy, don't you realize that there are more than three or four
Apaches around the Rue d'Ansin? The alarm will sound, and a score more
will rush up. These rascals are sure death, Darry, if they get at you
in sufficient numbers! The Parisians fear them. You don't see a single
citizen on the street now. Look! Every one of them flew to cover as
soon as the Apaches moved into action. If bystanders interfered, or
even watched, they too would have to reckon with these Apaches. Now,
Darry, you're no coward, and neither am I, but if you're wise you will
imitate me by taking to your heels."

Still holding Dave's arm lightly, Jetson sprinted along to the next
corner.

"To the right," whispered Dave. "I've a taxicab here."

More than halfway down the block they saw the car at the curb. The
chauffeur, when Dave called, stepped from a doorway in which he had
taken refuge.

"The Apaches!" gasped the driver.

"Hustle!" urged Dave. "Come on, Jetson."

As the two young naval officers sprang into the car, the driver leaped
to his own seat. Pressing the self-starter, the chauffeur soon had his
machine gliding along. Nor did he go back, either, by way of the Rue
d'Ansin.

Not until he was four blocks away from the scene did the man ask for
his orders.

"Back to the Embassy," Dave instructed him. Then he remembered his
comrade's swift, fine rescue.

"Jetson," he asked, "did you know it was I who was menaced by the
Apaches?"

"I did not," replied his brother officer. "But I heard enough, at a
distance, to know that an American was in trouble. In Paris that is
sufficient for me. Darry, I am delighted that I happened along in
time."

"You saved my life, Jetson, and at the risk of your own. If you had
missed one of the Apaches, or had lost your balance, your career would
have been ended right there, along with mine."

"You risked your life for me, Darry, back in the old Annapolis days,
so we are even," answered Jetson gently. "However, we won't keep books
on the subject of brotherly aid. All I can say, Darry, is that I am
glad I chose this night to call on an artist who lives in dingy
quarters half a mile beyond where I found you. And I am also glad that
I did not accept his invitation to supper, or I should have come
along too late to serve you."

As soon as the machine had left them at the Embassy, Darrin sought out
Mr. Lupton.

"May I see Mr. Caine at once?" asked the young officer.

"You have seen Gortchky, then?"

"Yes, and I have found what I consider positive proof as to the plans
of Gortchky's crew."

"I think Mr. Caine can be seen," replied Lupton.

Ensign Darrin was soon with the American Ambassador, who nodded to
Lupton to leave the room.

"Here, sir," began Darrin, "is a bit of paper that Gortchky dropped
and which I picked up."

Mr. Caine scanned the paper.

"I do not see anything so very remarkable about it," he replied.

Dave whispered a few words in his ear.

"Is that true?" asked the Ambassador, displaying sudden agitation.

"Yes, sir."

"Then I believe you are right, Darrin," gasped the Ambassador, sinking
back into his chair, his face paling slightly. "Oh the villains!"

"Then you believe, sir, that I have really discovered the plot?" asked
Dave, who looked only a whit less agitated.

"If what you have just told me is true, then it must be that you have
made a correct guess."

"Will you send word by wireless to Admiral Timworth, then, sir?"

"I dare not trust such news, even to the cipher, which the
international gang thought they had filched, and which they did not
get," replied Mr. Caine. "I believe that the wisest course will be for
you to take the midnight train to Genoa."

"Then I shall take this paper with me?"

"Yes, Mr. Darrin, for the Admiral is far more capable than I of
estimating it at its true worth. It is a matter for a naval man to
comprehend and decide."

The Ambassador did not neglect to provide the young ensign with
documents, approved by the French Foreign Office, that would take them
safely over the border into Italy on their return trip.



CHAPTER XVII

DAVE'S GUESS AT THE BIG PLOT


"Friends tell me that in being in the Navy I have such a grand chance
to see the world," grumbled Dan Dalzell, as the launch headed for the
anchorage of the American warships. "I went to Paris and had two short
taxicab rides through the city. That was all I saw of Paris. Then a
long railway journey, and I reached Genoa. I spent twenty-eight
minutes in Genoa, and boarded this launch. Oh, I'm seeing the world at
a great rate! By the time I'm an admiral I shall know nearly as much
of the world as I did when I studied geography in the Central Grammar
School of Gridley."

"Don't be a kicker, Danny boy," smiled Dave. "And just think! When you
get home, if any one asks you if you've been in Paris, you can say
'Yes.' Should any one ask you if you've seen Genoa, you can hold up
your head and declare that you have."

"But my friends will ask me to tell them about those towns,"
complained Dalzell.

"Read them up in the guide books," advised Jetson, who was of the
party. "I've known a lot of Navy officers who got their knowledge of
foreign places in that way."

Dave and Dan had had but a fleeting glimpse of the fine city that now
lay astern of them. Hundreds of sailormen and scores of officers, on
sight-seeing bent, had been ashore for two days.

But now the recall to the fleet had come. All save Darrin, Dalzell and
Jetson, with Seaman Runkle, who was now up forward on the launch, were
already aboard their respective ships. The Admiral waited only for the
coming of this launch before he gave the sailing order.

Jetson was assigned to the battleship "Allegheny," a craft only a
trifle smaller than the massive "Hudson."

The three brother officers and Runkle had traveled by express from
Paris to Genoa, and had come through without incident. At last even
the watchful Runkle was convinced that they had eluded all spies.

"Boatswain's Mate," said Dave, "as this launch belongs to the
flagship, it will be better to take Mr. Jetson, first, over to his
ship."

"Aye, aye, sir," responded the man in charge of the launch.

Twenty minutes later Dave Darrin found himself leading his own party
up over the side of the "Hudson."

"Captain Allen wishes to see Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell at once,"
announced Lieutenant Cranston, the officer of the deck. "You will
report to the Captain without further instructions."

"Very good, sir," Dave answered, saluting.

Exactly ten minutes later the two young ensigns were ushered into the
presence of their commanding officer.

"Admiral Timworth has been notified by wireless from Paris that you
have important communications to make to him," began the Captain. "I
will not waste your time or the Admiral's in questioning you here. You
will come with me to the fleet commander's quarters. The Admiral is
awaiting you."

Admiral Thomas Timworth, seated at his desk, and with his flag
lieutenant standing by, greeted his callers with exceeding briskness.

"Gentlemen," he said, "time presses, and we must dispense with
formalities. Ensign Darrin, I am advised by the Ambassador at Paris of
the importance of your news, but he does not tell me what the news
is."

"Its importance, sir, depends on whether the evidence I have to
present supports the guess I have made as to the nature of the plot
that has been planned against the peace and safety of Great Britain
and our own country."

As Dave spoke he produced from an inner pocket the sheet of paper
dropped by Gortchky, that he had picked up in the Rue d'Ansin.

"This piece of paper, sir," Darrin continued, passing it to the fleet
commander, "is one that I _saw_ Emil Gortchky drop from a packet of
several papers that he took from his pocket at night on one of the
worst streets in the slums of Paris."

Admiral Timworth scanned the paper, then read it aloud. It was a
receipted bill, made out in the name of one unknown to those present,
though perhaps an alias for Gortchky himself. The bill was for a
shipment of storage batteries. At the bottom of the sheet was a
filled-in certificate signed by a French government official, to the
effect that the batteries had been shipped into Italy "for laboratory
purposes of scientific research." Just below this statement was an
official Italian certificate of approval, showing that the batteries
had been admitted into Italy. In time of war, with the frontier
guarded tenfold more vigilantly than in ordinary times, such
certificates are vitally necessary to make shipments from France into
Italy possible.

"In other words, sir," Dave went on eagerly, when the fleet commander
scanned his face closely, "it needed some very clever underhand work,
very plausibly managed, to make it possible to buy those batteries in
France and to secure their admittance into Italy."

"Why?" quizzed Admiral Timworth, as though he did not know the answer
himself.

"Because, sir," Dave went on keenly, full of professional knowledge of
the subject, "these batteries are the best that the French make for
use aboard submarines."

"True," nodded the fleet commander. "What then?"

"Why, sir, by the use of the cleverest kind of lying that spies can
do, Gortchky and his associates have hoodwinked the French and Italian
governments into believing that the batteries are to be lawfully used
for research purposes, when, as a matter of fact, they are to be used
aboard a submarine which the plotters intend to use for destroying a
British battleship."

"We will admit, then," said Admiral Timworth, as a poser, "that the
plotters have probably gotten into Italy storage batteries that can be
used serviceably on a submarine. But where and how can the plotters
have obtained the submarine craft itself? Or, if they haven't got it
yet, how are they to obtain one? For submarines are not sold in open
market, and it would be difficult to steal one."

"I cannot answer that, as yet, sir," Dave admitted gravely.

"And such storage batteries might be used for purposes of scientific
research," continued the fleet commander.

"Yes, sir; but the habits of the buyers should be considered, should
they not? Gortchky and his associates can be hardly believed to be
interested in science. On the other hand, they are arch plotters,
which would lead us to suppose that they have bought these batteries
to further a plot. Outside of scientific work the batteries would not
be likely to be used anywhere except on board a submarine. Storage
batteries of different size and pattern are used for industrial
purposes, but those described in this bill are used on board
submarines."

"Your reasoning is plausible, Darrin, and probably correct, too,"
nodded Admiral Timworth.

"Besides which, sir," Dave pressed home, "if we admit that the
plotters have conspired to sink a British battleship at Malta, the
easiest way in war-time, when unidentified strangers cannot get aboard
a warship, would be to effect the sinking by means of a submarine's
torpedo. And, if this be the plan of the plotters, then the crime is
likely to be attempted only when there are British and American war
craft, and none others, in the Grand Harbor of Malta."

"Yet surely the plotters must know that, between good friends like
Britain and America, it would take more than the mere sinking of a
British ship to make the English suspect us, as a nation, of being
involved in such a dastardly plot."

"Our country couldn't be suspected, as a government or a nation, of
being guilty of such a wicked deed," Dave answered. "But Englishman
and Frenchmen might very easily believe that the torpedoing was the
work of a group of officers and men in our Navy who hated England
enough to strike her below the belt. With the British ship sunk, sir,
and with none to suspect but the Americans, there is no telling to
what heights British passion might rise. The British are feeling the
tension of the great war severely, sir."

"There is one flaw in your reasoning, Mr. Darrin," Admiral Timworth
replied. "We will admit that the torpedoing happens at a time when
only American and British war craft are visible in Grand Harbor. Why
would it not be wholly reasonable for the British to suppose that the
torpedoing was the work of a German submarine that had sneaked into
the harbor of Malta under the surface of the water?"

"That occurred to me, sir," Dave admitted, "and at first I couldn't
find the answer, but at last I did."

"I shall be glad to hear that answer."

"The submarine, let us suppose, sir, discharges one torpedo with such
accuracy as to sink the British battleship. Why could not another
torpedo be fired immediately, which would not strike, but would rise
to the surface and be afterwards identified when found as an American
torpedo? For a torpedo that does not strike and explode can be so
adjusted that it will afterwards sink or rise and float. And this
torpedo that rises can be of American pattern."

"But where would the plotters secure an American torpedo?" demanded
Admiral Timworth.

"The plotters, if they had a secret factory, could make some torpedoes
of the American type, provided they had obtained the services of a
draftsman and workmen familiar with the American torpedo."

"That could be accomplished, in this wicked old world of ours," nodded
Admiral Timworth, after an interval of deep thought. "I won't declare
that I think it really has been done. Yet your various reports to me,
Mr. Darrin, convince me that plotters really intend to sink a British
battleship and lay the blame at our country's door. And such a deed
might really provoke English clamor for war with our country."

In the Admiral's quarters a long silence followed.

At length the fleet commander looked up.

"Captain Allen," he asked, "what do you think of Mr. Darrin's
surmise?"

"It looks probable to me," said the "Hudson's" commanding officer
promptly.

"It looks likely to me, also," sighed Admiral Timworth.

Then the famous old sea-dog brought his clenched fist down on his desk
with a bang.

"Malta shall be our next stop," he declared. "We shall see whether any
band of plotters can put such a plot through while we are watching!
All mankind would shudder at such a tragedy. All the world would side
with England and condemn the United States and her Navy! Gentlemen, I
now believe that Mr. Darrin has revealed the details of a plan that
will be tried. We must prevent it, gentlemen! We shall prevent it--or
some of us will lose our lives in the effort to stop it! Darrin, you
shall have your chance in helping us to stop it. Mr. Dalzell, you,
too, shall have your chance! And now--Malta."



CHAPTER XVIII

SURIGNY'S NEXT MOVE


In the Grand Harbor, overlooked by the town and fortress of Valetta,
on the island of Malta, there lay at anchor the British dreadnaught
"Albion," the cruiser "Wrexham" and the gunboat "Spite."

Less than half a mile away lay the American battleships "Hudson" and
"Allegheny" and the cruiser "Newton."

It was early evening now. During the day, soon after the arrival of
the American craft, the usual visits of courtesy had been exchanged
between the two fleets.

Admiral Barkham, of His Majesty's Navy, received a most disagreeable
shock while in conference in Admiral Timworth's quarters. In other
words, he had been accurately informed of all that was so far known to
the American fleet commander.

"But it is impossible," declared Admiral Barkham. "Quite impossible!"

"It would seem so," replied Admiral Timworth. "Yet the outcome will be
the best proof in the matter. Sir, with your help, I propose to catch
that submarine, should she appear in these waters."

"She will not appear," declared the Englishman. "I am convinced that
such a thing is impossible. Only madmen would undertake to accomplish
such a horrible thing. True, we have enemies who employ submarines in
this war, but they do not dare to use them in attacking battleships.
Nor would plotters without the backing of a government dare try it."

Then Admiral Timworth caused Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell to be
summoned. They came. Admiral Barkham listened to their story, his gaze
all the time fixed on their earnest faces.

It was impossible to doubt the word of two such intelligent young
officers. Admiral Barkham found his doubts vanishing. He was prepared
to admit that such a crime as he had heard discussed might be in
course of planning.

"Of course I know the fellow Gortchky," admitted Admiral Barkham, "and
also that trouble-breeder, Dalny. Yet this is something amazingly more
desperate than they have ever attempted before. I now admit, sir,"
turning to Admiral Timworth, "that there is good reason to suppose
that such a plot may be afoot."

"The 'Maine' was sunk in Havana Harbor," rejoined the American
Admiral, dryly. "That incident sent two nations to war. Might not
something like the 'Maine' affair be attempted here in Valetta
Harbor?"

Sitting with bowed head the British admiral looked most uncomfortable.

"At all events," he said, "it is certainly a matter of duty for the
officers of both fleets to be on the lookout, and for them to work in
concert. Yet I still find it all but impossible to believe what my
judgment tells me might be possible."

"You are going to advise the officers of your fleet, then?" asked
Admiral Timworth.

"I think so," replied the Englishman slowly.

"In the American fleet," said Admiral Timworth, "very few officers
will be told outside of those who are going to be charged with keeping
a lookout for the submarine."

At a sign Dave and Dan withdrew, leaving the two fleet commanders in
earnest conversation.

"It's hard for an Englishman to conceive of such a crime as being
possible, isn't it?" asked Dan, with a melancholy grin.

"Perhaps it's to the honor of his manhood that he cannot believe in
it," Dave answered gently, as the chums sat in the latter's quarters.

Dave and Dan had been excused from ship duty on account of other
duties that were likely to be assigned to them at any time.

[Illustration: "Admiral Barkham listened to their story."]

Half an hour after the chums left the Admiral's quarters an orderly
summoned them to Captain Allen's office.

"Both admirals are convinced," said Captain Allen, when Dave and Dan
had reported, "that the crime, if it is to be attempted, will be tried
at night. As there are still a few hours before dark Admiral Timworth
wishes you to take one of the launches and go alongside the British
flagship. There will you find three or four young British officers
ready to join you. You will all go ashore in Valetta and remain there
until nearly dark. You will circulate about the town, as sight-seers
usually do. While ashore you will keep your eyes open for glimpses of
the Gortchky-Dalny plotters and their subordinates, whom you may find
there. Admiral Timworth particularly desires to know whether any of
that unsavory crew have reached Malta."

The launch being ready alongside, Dave and Dan, both in uniform, went
at once over the side. They were soon alongside the "Albion," and a
voice from deck invited them aboard. There the officer of the deck
introduced them to four young English officers. Three minutes later
the party went aboard the launch, and headed toward shore.

Outside of the forts and garrison buildings the town is a small one,
though at this time there were several places of amusement open on two
of the principal streets.

Through these places the party strolled, seemingly bent only on having
a good time.

"Have you seen any of the bally spies?" murmured one of the young
English officers, Whyte by name.

"Not a sign of one," Dave answered in a low tone.

"What if they're not here?" persisted Whyte.

"It may be that none of them will show up at Malta," Darrin answered.
"Or it may be that those who do come will come only on that submarine
we are looking for."

"I would like to meet one of those plotters," grumbled Dorcliffe,
another of the English party and the possessor of a bulky frame and
broad shoulders.

"What would you do?" asked Dave smilingly.

"I believe I'd jolly well choke the breath out of him!" asserted Mr.
Dorcliffe.

"That would betray the fact that we know the gang and the work that
they're planning," Dave returned.

"Would it?" asked Mr. Dorcliffe, looking thoughtful. "Oh, I say! It's
bally hard work to contend with such bounders. Why can't all men fight
in the open?"

"Real men do," Dave answered. "The fellows we are trying to run down
are not real men. Beings who can do wholesale murder for pay are bad
beyond the comprehension of honest men."

"But we're not finding any one that we want to see," complained
Sutton, another of the English party.

"I didn't expect to find that crew on parade," Dave replied, "and I
think it extremely likely that none of them is now in Valetta or on
the Island of Malta."

Then all fell silent, for the leaders of the party had turned in at
one of the cafés most frequented by visitors.

There were but few people at the tables. Glancing across the room Dave
felt a sudden throb of astonishment and disgust.

Hastily rising from a table was a young man who averted his face.

"There's the Count of Surigny!" whispered Dave to Whyte.

An instant later a door at the side of the room closed almost
noiselessly, with the young French nobleman on the other side of it.

"Did you see that fellow?" Dave demanded, hoarsely.

"We did," came the acknowledgment of Dave's group.

"That is Surigny," Darrin informed them. "He is the fellow whom I
saved from suicide at Monte Carlo, and now he is in the ranks of the
men who have planned the worst crime of the twentieth century. Surigny
is now where his follies have placed him--associated with the vilest
creatures who disgrace the name of Man!"

The party had seated themselves at a table where beverages and
refreshments are served. A tireless Italian soprano and a Russian
tenor were grinding out some of the stock music of the place. Two
dancers were waiting to follow them.

The naval officers looked bored. They were not in this café for
pleasure, but strictly for business--that of national honor.

A waiter strolled leisurely into the room, looked about, then
approached the table at which the American and English officers were
seated. Dropping a towel at Dave's side, the waiter bent over to pick
it up, at the same time slyly pressing into Dave's hand a piece of
paper.

Holding it under the table and glancing at it, Dave found it carried a
brief message in French. Translated, it read:

"For vital reasons, I beg you to follow the waiter, who can be
trusted, and come to me at once. Come alone and secretly. Honor
depends upon your compliance!             S."

"Surigny!" muttered Ensign Darrin, disgustedly, under his breath.
"That impossible scoundrel! He has sold himself to those plotters, and
now would betray me. The wretch!"

Yet, after a moment's thought, Dave decided to see the man.

Bending over, Dave whispered to Dan the message contained in the note.

"Are you going?" quivered Dan, his eyes flashing indignation.

"Yes."

"And I?"

"You will remain here, Dan. Tell the others if you can do so without
being overheard. Make my excuses after I have left you."

Then, his head erect, his heart pumping indignantly, Dave Darrin rose
and sought the waiter, who lingered at the end of the room.



CHAPTER XIX

TRUTH, OR FRENCH ROMANCE


"You know what is expected of you?" Dave asked the waiter, in an
undertone.

"Yes, Master," replied the man, a Maltese who spoke English with an
odd accent.

"Then I will follow you," Darrin added.

At the heels of the waiter Dave went through a narrow corridor, then
climbed a flight of stairs.

Pausing before a door, the waiter knocked softly, four times.

"_Entrez, s'il vous plaît_" ("Come in, if you please"), a voice
answered.

Throwing open the door, the waiter bowed and swiftly departed.

Ensign Dave Darrin stepped inside, closed the door, and found himself
face to face with the Count of Surigny.

That young Frenchman, his face unwontedly pale, searched Dave's face
with his eyes.

"You are not glad to see me," he said at last.

"Do I show it?" inquired Darrin, his face without expression.

"You are not glad to see me," Surigny went on rather sadly. "Then it
is because you suspect."

"Suspect--what?" Dave demanded, to gain time.

"You know the company that I have been keeping," the young Count
continued.

"Has it been the wrong kind of company for a gentleman to keep?"
Ensign Darrin asked coldly.

"You know!" cried the Count bitterly.

"Then," asked Dave, "is it indiscreet for me to ask why you have
permitted yourself to associate with such company?"

"I doubt if you would believe me," replied Surigny, wincing.

"Is there any good reason why I should believe you?" Dave returned,
studying the Frenchman's face.

"Perhaps none so good as the fact that I am a gentleman," the Count of
Surigny answered more boldly. "The word of a gentleman is always
sacred."

"May I ask to what this talk is leading?"

"I hardly know how to proceed with you," complained the young
Frenchman. "Once you did me a great service. You taught me to live and
that to die by my own hand was cowardice. Monsieur, you taught me how
to be a man."

"And you have remembered the lesson?" Dave inquired, with the same
expressionless face.

"I at least know," the Frenchman returned, "that a man should remember
and serve his friends."

"Then you have been serving me?"

"I have been working hard, swallowing insult and stifling my sense of
decency as far as possible, in order that I might serve you and prove
myself worthy to be your friend," replied Surigny, with such
earnestness that Darrin now found himself staring in open-eyed
astonishment at the young nobleman.

"Perhaps you are going to try to offer me particulars of how you have
been preparing to serve me," Dave said with a shrug.

"Monsieur," cried the Frenchman, as if in sudden desperation, "are you
prepared to accept my word as you would wish your own to be accepted?"

"Wouldn't that be asking considerable of a comparative stranger?"

"Then answer me upon your own honor, Monsieur Darrin," the Count of
Surigny appealed eagerly. "Do you consider me a gentleman or--a
rascal?"

Ensign Dave opened his lips, then paused. He was now asked to speak on
his own honor.

His pallor giving way to a deep flush, Surigny suddenly opened his
lips to speak again.

"Monsieur Darrin," he urged, his voice quavering, "do me the honor to
look in my eyes. Study me from the viewpoint of an honest man. Tell
me whether you will believe what I have to say to you. Do not be too
quick. Take time to think."

As Dave found himself gazing into the depths of the other's eyes, and
as he studied that appealing look, he felt his contempt for Surigny
rapidly slipping away.

"Now, speak!" begged M. le Comte de Surigny. "Will you believe what I
am about to tell you, as one man of honor speaks to another?"

For an instant Ensign Dave hesitated. Then he answered quickly:

"Yes; I will believe you, Monsieur le Comte."

"In doing so, do you feel the slightest hesitation?"

"Naturally," rejoined Darrin, a slight smile parting his lips, "I am
assailed by some doubts as to whether I am wise in doing so, but I
will believe what you have to say to me. I prefer to believe you to
be, of your own choice, a man of honor."

Surigny uttered a cry of delight. Then he went on:

"Perhaps, Monsieur Darrin, you will even be willing to set me the
example in truthfulness by telling me whether you know of the plot of
those with whom I have had the shame of being associated."

"You will doubtless recall, Monsieur le Comte, since it was said only
a moment ago, that I promised only to believe what you might have to
say to me. I did not promise to tell you anything."

Indeed, at this point, Ensign Dave was perilously near to breaking his
word as to believing Surigny. It looked to him as if the Frenchman
were "fencing" in order to extract information.

"Well, then," exclaimed Surigny, with a gesture of disappointment, "I
will tell you that which I feel I must. Listen, then. With Gortchky,
Mender, Dalny and others, I have been engaged in a plan to cause a
British warship to be sunk in the harbor yonder, and under
circumstances such as to make it appear as the work of you Americans.
Did you know that, Monsieur?"

"Go on," urged Dave Darrin.

"At first," murmured the Count, coming closer, "I believed Gortchky's
statement that I was being engaged in secret diplomatic service. When
I learned the truth, I was deeply involved with the miserable crew.
Also, I was very much in debt, for Gortchky was ever a willing lender.

"There came a day, Monsieur, when there dawned on me the vileness of
the wicked plot in which I had become engaged. For a few hours I felt
that to destroy myself was the only way in which I could retrieve my
honor. But the lesson you had taught served me well in those hours of
need. Then the thought of you, an officer in the American Navy,
brought a new resolve into my mind. No pledges that I had ignorantly
made to such scoundrels could bind me. I was not their slave. Pledges
to do anything that could bring dishonor upon one are not binding on a
man of honor. I did not even feel a sense of debt to Gortchky, for he
had used the money with evil intentions. From the moment of these
realizations I had but one object in view. I would go on taking such
money as I needed, and with no thought of the debt; and I would serve
these monsters with such seeming fidelity that I could at last find my
way open to serving _you_ fully, Monsieur Darrin. I pause for an
instant. Do you believe all that I have just told you, my friend?"

"Yes," answered Dave. The next second he caught himself wondering if,
through that "yes," he had unintentionally lied.



CHAPTER XX

THE ALLIES CLEAR FOR ACTION


"I left Naples for this island on an east-bound liner," continued the
Count of Surigny. "Not until within an hour of sailing did I know the
whole of the terrible story that now spoils my sleep at night and
haunts me by day. Monsieur Darrin, if you have scented any dreadful
plot, at least I do not believe you know just what it is."

Once more the young Frenchman paused. Dave, however, having regained
his expressionless facial appearance, only said:

"Go on, Monsieur le Comte."

"Then I have but to tell you what the plot is," resumed Surigny.
"Gortchky, Mender, Dalny and others knew that the American fleet would
stop at Malta, because American fleets in these waters always do stop
at Malta. They knew also that a British fleet often remains here for
months at a time. So these arch scoundrels knew to a certainty that
the 'Hudson' of your Navy would be here in due course of time. In a
word, every plan has been made for sinking a British battleship here
at Malta under circumstances which will make it appear to be plainly
the work of a group of American naval men."

Darrin, still silent, steadily eyed the Frenchman.

"You do not start!" uttered Surigny, in amazement. "Then it must be
because you already know of the plot!"

"Go on, please," urged Dave quietly.

"The plan must have been made long ago," the Frenchman continued,
"for, before August, 1914, before the great war started, though just
when I do not know, Gortchky and the others, or their superiors, had a
submarine completed at Trieste. It was supposed to be a secret order
placed for the Turkish government. The craft was not a large one.
Gortchky and some associates took the submarine out for trial
themselves. Days later they returned, reporting that the underseas
craft had foundered, but that they had escaped to land in a
collapsible boat. Most of the payments on the submersible had already
been made. Gortchky paid the balance without protest, and the matter
was all but forgotten.

"I do not know what reason Gortchky had given the builder, if indeed
he offered any explanation, but the tubes in the submarine had been
made of the right dimensions and fitted with the right mechanism to
fire the American torpedo. And a man whom I judge to have been a
German spy in America before the war--a German who had served as
draftsman in the employ of an American munitions firm--was at Trieste
to furnish the design for both the torpedo tubes and for the four
American torpedoes that the Trieste firm also supplied.

"You will have divined, of course, Monsieur Darrin," Surigny
continued, "that the submarine was not lost, but concealed at a point
somewhere along the shores of the Mediterranean until wanted. So far
ahead do some enemies plot! Where the submarine has remained during
the interval I do not know, but I do know that, submerged only deep
enough for concealment, she has been towed to these waters recently by
relays of fishing boats manned by Maltese traitors to Britain. Ah,
those rascally Maltese! They know no country and they laugh at
patriotism. They worship only the dollar, and are ever ready to sell
themselves! And the submarine will endeavor to sink the British
battleship to-night!"

"To-night!" gasped Darrin, now thoroughly aroused.

"To-night," Surigny nodded, sadly, his face ghastly pale. "Even the
yacht that carries the plotters is here."

"These are hardly the times," Dave remarked, "when it would seem to
any naval commander a plausible thing for a yacht to cruise in the
submarine-infested Mediterranean. And, if the plotters are using and
directing the movements of a yacht, I am unable to see how they could
obtain clearance papers from any port."

"Oh, the yacht's sailing papers are correct," Surigny declared,
eagerly. "The yacht has Russian registry and is supposed to be sold to
Japanese buyers to be put in trade between the United States and
Japan, carrying materials from which the Japanese make Russian
munitions of war. So you will see how plausible it is to be engaged in
transferring a Russian yacht to Japanese registry at this time."

"Humph!" grunted Darrin. "It seems a stupid thing, indeed, for any
Japanese shipping firm to buy a low, narrow craft, like the typical
yacht, to convert her into a freighter."

"Ah, but the yacht is neither low nor narrow," replied Surigny. "She
is a craft of some three thousand tons, broad of beam and with plenty
of freeboard."

"What flag does she fly?" Dave asked.

"That I do not know," was the Count's answer. "It may be that she does
not fly any. Two of her passengers are reported to be a Russian prince
and a Japanese marquis. But Monsieur Mender is not a Russian at all,
and no more a prince than he is a Russian. As for the Japanese, he is
merely a Filipino, once a mess attendant in your Navy, and now a
deserter, for he hates your country."

"When will the yacht reach these waters?" Dave inquired.

"As I have said, she is here already, or as near as she will come,"
the Frenchman continued. "At noon she was at anchorage in the channel
between the islands of Comino and Gozo. It is known as the North
Channel."

"I know the spot," said Dave, nodding. "Comino is the little island
that is used as a quarantine station. Monsieur le Comte, do you know
anything more, of importance, that you have not already told me?"

"Monsieur Darrin, I believe that nothing of importance has been left
out of my narrative. But you believe me? You will now accept my hand?"

"Yes," Dave burst out, extending his hand almost impulsively. M. le
Comte Surigny seized it delightedly.

"Ah, it is good, it is grand!" cried the young Frenchman, "after such
associates as I have had for weeks, to find myself again fit for the
confidence and the friendship of a gentleman!"

"But what will become of you?" asked Dave, a feeling of regret
suddenly assailing him. "What will become of you, my dear Surigny? Is
it likely that the plotters, if they be foiled, will suspect you? Is
it likely that they would seek your life as a forfeit?"

"What is my life?" laughed the Frenchman gayly. "I have never valued
it highly, but now, when I have won back my self-respect, a blow in
the dark would be but a mark of honor. If they wish to kill me, let
them. It would be a glorious death, in the cause of honor!"

Dave glanced out of the window, then gave a start of alarm.

"Time is passing," he murmured. "I must take my information where it
will be of the most service. And you, Surigny, may I take the liberty,
without waiting to ask our Admiral's leave, of inviting you to accept
the hospitality of the flagship? Will you come on board with me?"

"Afterward," replied the Frenchman. "Afterward, when the truth of what
I have told you is recognized."

"Where will you stay for the present, then?"

"Where I am now," smiled the Count.

Dave took one long step forward, again gripping Count Surigny's right
hand with both his own hands.

"Surigny, I am under more obligations than I can ever repay. Few men
with the instinct of a gentleman could have endured, for weeks, having
to associate with and serve such rascals as this grewsome crew. You
have, indeed, proved yourself noble, and I deeply regret that I have
ever allowed myself to distrust and dislike you."

"Let us say no more," begged the Count. "After the chase is over--and
may you win the game--you will find me here, reveling in the thought
that I have been able to warn you so completely."

Had it not been that he again remembered how late it was growing,
Ensign Darrin would have remained longer with this now bright-faced
Frenchman. As it was, Dave tore himself away from Surigny, and lost no
time in rejoining his party below.

As Dave stepped to the table, Lieutenant Whyte, of the British Navy,
raised his eyebrows in slight interrogation. None spoke.

"I don't know," smiled Darrin, "how it goes with you gentlemen of
England, but I am sure Dalzell will agree with me that it is time to
get back to our ship."

"It is," Dalzell affirmed, taking the cue.

The score was settled, after which the party left the hotel. Dave
stepped to Whyte's side. Through the streets of the little town the
party passed quickly by twos, gayly chatting. Once they were clear of
the streets and near the mole Dave began:

"Mr. Whyte, the moment for action is at hand. Surigny sent for me, and
I believe he has told me the truth. He felt under obligations, and,
when invited, joined the international plotters in order to find out
how he could serve me. He has told me that a yacht bearing the
supervising plotters is now anchored in North Channel, and that the
submarine is concealed somewhere under neighboring waters. It is the
intention of the plotters to attempt to sink one of your ships
to-night."

"Do you believe the fellow?" demanded Whyte in a shocked tone.

"At first I found it hard to believe him," Dave admitted, "but now I
believe that he told me the truth."

"And if he has not?" questioned the British officer.

"In any event, Whyte, the yacht must be watched. However, your Admiral
Barkham will have to decide what action shall be taken."

"Do you know whether others of the crew, besides Surigny, are in
Valetta?" Whyte asked.

"I did not ask Surigny," Dave rejoined. "Indeed, it is not important
to know. What we must do is to catch the submarine; the conspirators
may wait for subsequent overhauling."

At Darrin's signal the launch from the flagship promptly put off.
Darrin ordered that the English officers be put aboard their own ship
first. As the launch drew alongside the "Albion" Dave added:

"Mr. Whyte, I shall wait until you ascertain whether your Admiral has
any message to send to Admiral Timworth. That, of course, would be
after hearing your report."

For ten minutes the "Hudson's" launch lay alongside the "Albion." Then
Mr. Whyte appeared, coming nimbly down the gangway and stepping into
the launch.

"With Admiral Barkham's compliments, I am to carry a message to
Admiral Timworth," Whyte announced. "I am also to inquire whether your
Captain desires a conference with Admiral Timworth before I deliver my
message."

Dave conducted the English officer aboard the American flagship.
Captain Allen soon received them. He heard Ensign Darrin's report,
then telephoned to Admiral Timworth for permission to bring to his
quarters the English admiral's representative, together with his own
youngest officers.

Admiral Timworth received them, listening attentively to the report
that Dave had to make of his conversation with the Count of Surigny.

"Do you believe that the Frenchman was telling the truth?" the fleet
commander inquired. Dave answered in the affirmative.

"Does your message from Admiral Barkham concern the Frenchman's
report?" inquired Admiral Timworth, turning to Whyte, who had kept
modestly in the background.

"It does, sir," Lieutenant Whyte answered, stepping forward. "Admiral
Barkham's compliments, sir, and he has used the wireless to the
quarantine station on Comino Island. Such a yacht as the Count of
Surigny described is at anchor in North Channel, and is reported to
have a Russian prince and a Japanese nobleman on board. So Admiral
Barkham gives at least that much credence to the Frenchman's story."

Whyte paused a moment, that Admiral Timworth might speak, if he chose,
then continued:

"Admiral Barkham imagines, sir, that you would like to have a share in
searching the yacht and in guarding against submarine attack. To that
end, sir, he signaled to the military governor at Malta and secured
the latter's assent to a plan of having the American naval forces
co-operate with us in running down the plot."

"Of course we shall be glad to aid," declared Admiral Timworth,
heartily, "and we are much complimented over being invited to help you
in British waters."



CHAPTER XXI

MAKING STERN WORK OF IT


Lieutenant Whyte then unfolded, briefly, the plan of Admiral Barkham
for procedure against the yacht and the submarine. To these plans
Admiral Timworth quickly agreed.

"We have four large launches on the flagship," the fleet commander
stated. "Three of these shall be put over the side, officered and
manned and ready for instant service."

"Admiral Barkham also suggests, sir, that, during the night, the
officers in command of your launches run without lights, when
possible, for secrecy," Whyte continued.

"How many launches will Admiral Barkham put in service?" Admiral
Timworth inquired.

"Three, sir," responded Whyte.

"Who will be the ranking officer in your fleet of launches?"

"I believe I am to be, sir," Lieutenant Whyte replied, bowing.

"Very good," nodded Admiral Timworth. "It would not be courteous, in
British waters, Mr. Whyte, for me to appoint an officer who would
rank yourself, so I shall ask Captain Allen to designate Ensign Darrin
as ranking officer in our launch fleet. Ensign Dalzell will naturally
command another of the launches. Who will command the third, Captain?"

"Ensign Phillips," replied Captain Allen.

The courtesy of appointing an ensign to head the American launch fleet
lay in the fact that an ensign is one grade lower in the service than
a junior lieutenant. When naval forces of different nations act
together the ranking officer, no matter what country he represents, is
in command. Had Admiral Timworth put his launch fleet in charge of a
lieutenant commander, for instance, then the British launches, too,
would have been under the command of the American officer. As it was,
Lieutenant Whyte would be ranking and commanding officer in the
combined launch fleet. This was both right and courteous, as Malta is
an English possession, and the waters near by are British waters.

Plans were briefly discussed, yet with the thoroughness that is given
to all naval operations. Lieutenant Whyte departed, and Ensign
Phillips was sent for. Admiral Timworth and Captain Allen charged the
young officers with their duties, upon the successful performance of
which so much depended.

"Remember, gentlemen," was Captain Allen's final word, "that, in line
with what the Admiral has stated, you are merely to co-operate with,
and act under the orders of, the British ranking officer. Yet, if
occasion arise, you will display all needed initiative in attaining
the objective, which is the capture of the scoundrelly plotters and
the seizure of the submarine before it can work any mischief. You will
even sink the submarine by ramming, if no other course be open to stop
her wicked work."

Each of the flagship's launches was equipped with a searchlight. While
the council was going on in the Admiral's quarters the electricians of
the ship were busy overhauling these searchlights and making sure that
all were in perfect working order.

From the British flagship came a prearranged signal to the effect that
Lieutenant Whyte was about to put off.

Dave's launch crew comprised, besides machinists and the
quartermaster, twenty-four sailors and eight marines. A one-pound
rapid-fire gun was mounted in the bow, and a machine gun amidships.

"Send your men over the side, Ensign Darrin," Captain Allen ordered,
as he took Dave's hand. "Go, and keep in mind, every second, how much
your work means to-night."

"Aye, aye, sir," Dave answered.

When the word was passed, Dave's launch party was marched out on deck
and sent down over the side. Dave Darrin took his place in the stern,
standing by to receive any further instructions that might be shouted
down to him. "Cast off and clear!" called down the executive officer.

Dan Dalzell, whose launch party was not to clear until a later hour,
waved a hand at his chum. Dave waved back in general salute.

At the same time Lieutenant Whyte put off from the "Albion" and sped
onward to meet the American craft.

"We are to sail in company to North Channel," called Whyte.

"Very good, sir," Dave answered, saluting.

With three hundred feet of clear water between them, the launches
moved rapidly along.

The distance to the middle of North Channel was about fifteen miles.
Time and speed had been so calculated that the yacht should not be
able to sight them by daylight. After dark the two launches were to
maneuver more closely together, and Whyte, who knew the North Channel,
was to be pilot for both craft until it came time to use their
searchlights.

Over in the west the sun went down. Darkness soon came on. Neither
launch displayed even running lights. One had a sense of groping his
way, yet the launches dashed along at full speed.

Dave Darrin was now in the bow, with the signalman at his side, who
would turn on the searchlight when so ordered. With his night glasses
at his eyes, Ensign Dave could tell when the British launch veered
sharply to port or starboard, and thus was able to steer his own
course accordingly.

Twelve minutes later a brief ray shot from the Englishman's
searchlight. It was the signal.

"Turn on your light," Dave ordered to the man at his side. "Swing it
until you pick up the North Channel. Then pick up and hold a yacht--"

Ensign Darrin followed with the best description he had of the strange
yacht.

Less than a minute later the lights on both navy launches had picked
up the strange yacht, well over in the Channel. Dave studied her
through his glass.

"That's the craft," Darrin muttered to himself. "My, but she looks her
part! While she isn't large for a freighter, she's well calculated for
that class of work."

"Your best speed ahead, sir!" shouted Whyte, through a megaphone.
"Board the yacht on her starboard quarter. Quick work, sir!"

"Very good, sir!" Dave called back.

Then he stepped swiftly amidships to the engineers.

"Get every inch of speed to be had out of the engines, my man."

Next, to the helmsman:

"Quartermaster, steer straight ahead and make that yacht's starboard
quarter!"

As Dave turned, he found his own face within three inches of Seaman
Runkle's glowing countenance.

"Runkle," Dave smiled, "we are fond of the Englishmen. Their
commanding officer called for our best speed, and we're going to show
it."

"Aye, aye, sir!" grinned Runkle. "When any foreigner asks for the best
we have in speed, he's likely to see it, sir."

Already the "Hudson's" launch had drawn smartly ahead of the British
craft, and the distance between them grew steadily, though the
Englishman was doing his best to keep up in the race.

Under the yacht's stern dashed the launch, and brought up smartly
under the starboard quarter, laying alongside.

"Hullo, there! Vat you call wrong?" demanded a voice in broken English
from the yacht's rail.

"Naval party coming aboard, sir," Dave responded courteously. "Take a
line!"

"I vill not!" came the defiant answer.

"All the same, then," Dave answered lightly. "Bow, there! Make fast
with grapple. Stern, do the same!"

Two lines were thrown, each with a grappling hook on the end. These
caught on the yacht's rail. Three or four sailormen, one after the
other, climbed the grappling lines. Two rope ladders were swiftly
rigged over the side, by the Americans on the yacht's deck. Dave
Darrin was quickly on board, with twenty of his seamen and all his
marines, by the time that the English launch rounded in alongside the
port quarter.

"You? Vat you mean?" demanded a short, swarthy-faced man, evidently
captain of the yacht, as he peered at Dave's party. "You are American
sailors!"

"Right," Darrin nodded.

"And dese are British vaters!"

"No matter," Dave smiled back at the blustering fellow. "Here come the
Englishmen."

For he had sent four of his men to catch and make fast the lines from
the British launch, and now the British jack-tars, taking their
beating in the race good-humoredly, were piling on board.

"Captain," cried Lieutenant Whyte, striding forward, "I represent
Admiral Barkham, ranking officer of His Majesty's Navy in these
waters. I have the Admiral's orders to search this craft."

"You search him for vat, sir?" demanded the skipper.

"My orders are secret, sir. The search will begin at once. Ensign
Darrin, if you will leave your marines to hold the deck, we will use
all our seamen and yours below."

"Very good, sir," Dave replied, saluting. "You do not wish any one
allowed to leave the yacht, do you, Lieutenant?"

"Not without my permission or yours, Ensign."

Dave accordingly gave the order to the corporal in charge of his
marine party.

In another minute American and English tars were swarming below decks
on the yacht.

On deck and in the wheel house Darrin had not seen more than four men
of the yacht's crew, besides the skipper.

"There do not seem to be any men below," Dave muttered, as he explored
the yacht between decks. "I wonder if that skipper gets along with
four deck hands in addition to his engine-room and steward forces."

His men in squads, under petty officers, worked rapidly. Dave Darrin
moved more slowly, passing on into the dining cabin and the social
hall of the yacht, which were below decks.

Adjoining the social hall were several cabins. Dave threw open the
doors of the first few he came to, finding in them no signs of
occupation.

Then a steward, smiling and bowing, appeared and asked him in French:

"Do you seek any one here?"

"You have a Prince aboard?" Dave asked.

"Even so."

"And a Japanese nobleman?"

"We have."

"I wish to see them."

"Both are resting at present," the steward expostulated.

"I must see them immediately," Dave insisted.

"It is hardly possible, sir," protested the steward. "It is not to be
expected that I can disturb such august guests."

"Steward, do you wish me to summon my men and have these cabin doors
battered down?"

"Do not do that!" urged the steward in alarm. "Wait! I have pass-keys.
Which would you see first?"

"The Prince, by all means."

"I will admit you to his room, Monsieur, and next silently slip away.
But be good enough to let the Prince believe that he left his door
unlocked. This way, monsieur."

Finishing his whispered speech, the steward glided ahead. He unlocked
a cabin door, opening it but a crack. Dave stepped softly inside.
Instantly the door was pulled shut and locked.

Through transoms on opposite sides of the cabin Mender and Dalny
showed their evil faces, as each trained on the young naval officer an
ugly-looking naval revolver.



CHAPTER XXII

AFTER THE PEST OF THE SEAS


"Make a sound, and you feed the fishes, my fine young naval dandy!"
hissed Dalny.

"Pooh!" retorted Dave, contemptuously. "Order your steward to unlock
that door, or I shall be put to the trouble of smashing it down with
my shoulder."

"And be shot in the back while you are doing it," jeered Mender.

"I haven't had the honor of meeting you before, but I take it that you
are the bogus Russian Prince," laughed Dave. "Just now, though, you
look much more like an apprentice to the Black Hand."

"You should be saying your prayers, instead of talking impudence,"
sneered Dalny.

"As for this cardboard Prince, words fail me," mocked Dave, still
speaking in French, "but as for you, Dalny, I have already tested your
courage, and know it to be worthless. You are a coward, and would not
dare to use that revolver, knowing, as you must, that my men are
aboard and would tear you to pieces. Go ahead and shoot, if you dare.
I am going to break my way out of this cabin, and then I shall arrest
both of you."

"Is there no way of compromising?" begged Dalny, his evil face paling,
"In exchange for your life, Monsieur Darrin, can you not offer us a
chance for escape?"

"One brave man down!" laughed Ensign Dave. "That was spoken like the
coward that you are, Dalny."

Darrin turned to break down the door. He knew that he was taking
chances, for the sham Prince might be a man cast in a braver mould
than Dalny, and, in his desperation, might shoot at the back that Dave
so recklessly presented.

At the third lunge from Darrin's sturdy shoulder, the door snapped
open at the lock. The young naval officer stepped out into the social
hall. There was no sign of the steward.

"Seaman here!" Dave bawled lustily. He was obliged to repeat the
summons twice before a hearty "Aye, aye, sir!" was heard in the
distance.

Then Jack Runkle showed his jovial face at the top of the
companionway. Catching sight of his officer, Runkle bounded down the
steps and came up on a run, saluting.

"Runkle, go to the corporal of marines and ask him to send two men
here. Then stand by."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Runkle was off like a shot on his errand and soon returned with two
marines.

"Now, men," Dave directed, pointing to the doors, "batter them down.
That door, first."

As the men aligned themselves for the assault, Darrin, mindful that
the sham Prince was armed and might prove ugly, stood by with his
revolver drawn.

Bang! crash! The door was down.

"It will be wise to surrender to superior force," Darrin called
sternly. "We shall shoot to kill at any sign of resistance."

As the words were uttered in French the marines did not understand,
but they advanced unhesitatingly on Mender, disarmed him and led him
outside the room.

"Take care of him, Runkle," ordered Dave. "Now, marines, that other
door!"

Down came the barrier, and Dalny, shaking and white, was brought out
to keep Mender company.

"Break down every door that's locked," was Darrin's next order.

Within five minutes a little, quaking brown man was secured and led
out. All the locked cabins had now been entered.

"You're the Japanese marquis, are you?" Dave jeered. "Do you find,
Marquis, that it pays any better than being a Filipino mess
attendant?"

The Filipino hung his head without answering.

"Take these prisoners to the corporal of marines, and ask him to iron
them and watch them closely," Dave directed. "Runkle, do you know
where Lieutenant Whyte is?"

"In the hold, sir, or was."

"Follow me, then, and we'll see if we can find him."

Down in the main cargo hold forward, Dave and Runkle came upon Whyte
and a party of English and American sailormen.

"Ah, there you are, Mr. Darrin," called Whyte. "We've been making a
jolly big search through the hold, but, except for ship's supplies, it
appears to contain nothing very interesting. However, we shall have
time to examine it further later on. And you?"

"I have three prisoners," Dave explained, and told who and what they
were.

"Take them with you, Ensign, if you have room on your launch," Whyte
directed. "I will now take my men above and post a guard, so that you
may withdraw your own guard and get under way at once."

"We have done well so far," Dave answered, as he gripped the English
officer's hand. "I pray that we may be permitted to do as well all
through the night."

Runkle was sent through the craft to recall all of the American
sailors.

When Dave reached the deck he found that the entire crew of the yacht,
including the engine-room force and the stewards, had been rounded up
and driven to the deck.

"Over the side," directed Darrin, as his men, recalled, gathered near
him. He followed, but went over last of all. Orders for casting off
and shoving clear were instantly given.

"Keep the engines up to their best performance all the way," was
Dave's order. "Boatswain's mate, watch sharp for the courses, as I may
change frequently."

"Aye, aye, sir."

Heading out of North Channel, Dave drove back for Valetta, keeping
about a mile off the coast.

After making a few knots, he came abreast of another British launch
that lay further to seaward. With lantern signals the Englishman
asked:

"Is the submarine supposed to be loose?"

"Yes," Dave had his signalman reply.

"Where?"

"Don't know."

"I'm here to warn incoming ships against entering Grand Harbor
to-night," the Englishman wound up. "Are you seeking the submarine?"

"Yes," Dave had flashed back.

"Good luck to you!" came heartily from the English launch.

"Thank you," was Darrin's final response.

The searchlight of Dave's launch was swinging busily from side to
side, searching every bit of the water's surface that could be
reached.

"If the submarine comes up, Runkle, you may be the first to sight
her," Dave smiled to that seaman, who stood beside him.

"Aye, aye, sir; if I sight that craft I won't be mean enough to keep
my news to myself."

"I wonder where Dalzell is," thought Dave. "What is he doing in this
night's work?"

As for Ensign Dave, his every nerve was keyed to its highest pitch.
Outwardly he was wholly calm, but he felt all the responsibility that
rested upon him to-night, as did every other officer who commanded a
launch from either fleet.

Searchlight and naked vision were not enough. Almost constantly Darrin
had his night glass at his eyes.

Suddenly, as the light shifted over the water, Dave thought he caught
sight of something unusual.

"Steady with that light there, signalman," he commanded suddenly.
"Back slowly to port with the beam."

Darrin forced himself to be calm.

"Steady," he called, again. "Hold the light on anything you see,
signalman."

"Aye, aye, sir; I _do_ see something," replied the man who was
manipulating the searchlight.

That he did see the mysterious something was proved by the manner in
which he kept the light upon it.

That on which Darrin now trained his night glass was a marked rippling
on the water, half a mile away, and farther seaward. A landsman would
have missed it altogether. Yet that rippling on the sea's surface was
clearly different from the motion of the water near by.

"It might be a school of large fish," Dave mused aloud, in Runkle's
hearing, "though at night they are likely to rest. Runkle, and you,
men, keep your eyes peeled to see if you can make out fish leaping out
of the water."

The ripple continued, unbroken at any point. Moreover, it moved at
uniform speed, and in a line nearly parallel with the coast.

Gradually the launch gained on that ripple. Dave could not turn his
fascinated gaze away from the sight.

"I think I know what that is, sir," broke in Seaman Runkle, after
three minutes of watching.

"I am sure that I _do_, Runkle," Dave Darrin returned. "It's a
submarine, for some reason just barely submerged. That line of ripple
is the wake left by her periscope."

As if to confirm the young naval officer's words, the ripple parted.
As the line on the water broke, the periscope came fully into view,
and the turret showed above water, continuing to rise until the deck
was awash.

"There's the pest of the seas!" cried an excited voice.

Every man on the launch was now straining his eyes for a better look
at the submarine, barely a quarter of a mile away.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE PUZZLE OF THE DEEP


"Coxswain!" shouted Dave.

"Aye, aye, sir."

"Send up three blue rockets!"

"Aye, aye, sir."

One after another the rockets ascended, bursting high overhead and
slowly falling.

From Grand Harbor, several miles distant, a rocket ascended and burst,
showing red.

Darrin's signal had been seen and answered. Both fleets now knew that
one of the launches had sighted the submarine craft. The three blue
rockets had been the signal agreed upon in advance. Runkle was at the
gun. Ensign Darrin gave him the range.

"I wish we had a four-inch gun in the bow," Dave muttered wistfully,
"but we'll have to do the best we can with the one-pounder. Ready!
Fire!"

Even before the command to fire had been uttered the craft ahead had
begun to submerge.

As the brisk, snappy report of the little piece sounded, and a faint
puff of smoke left her muzzle, Runkle's head bobbed up to watch the
result of his shot.

"Forward of her turret by about a foot!" Runkle muttered in disgusted
criticism of his own shooting.

A sailor had thrown the breech open, while a second swabbed the bore
through and the first fitted in a fresh shell, closing the breech with
a snap.

Runkle seemed to sight and fire almost in the same instant, and, as
before, straightened up to watch the accuracy of his shot by the
splash of water on the other side of the craft. The launch's
searchlight held a steady glare on the mark.

"Nearer by a few inches, sir," Runkle called over his shoulder while
the men with him swabbed and loaded. Again Runkle fired.

"The shell must have passed aft of the turret by about six inches,"
remarked Darrin, catching through his glass a glimpse of the splash of
water where the little shell struck the waves.

"I'll do better, or drown myself, sir," growled Runkle.

"Quick! She is submerging rapidly," commanded Darrin.

Bang! An instant after the report a smothered exclamation came from
the unhappy gunner. The submarine had safely submerged. Not even her
periscope was above water now.

"If the turret had been four inches nearer the sky you'd have put it
out of commission," declared Ensign Darrin.

"Rotten work," growled Runkle in disgust.

"It's night shooting, my man," Dave answered. "Good work just the
same."

Runkle had an excellent gunnery record, and Darrin did not like to see
that fine fellow fretting when he had done his best. None the less it
was highly important to send that submarine to the bottom and quickly
at that.

"We've got to go by bubbles, now," Darrin declared. "She isn't likely
to show her eye again."

Had he gotten the launch close enough to observe the bubbles it is
possible that the young ensign could have followed the enemy trail.
Twice or thrice Dave believed that he had picked up glimpses of
bubbles with the searchlight, but at last, with a sigh, he gave orders
to shut off speed and drift. Inaction became wellnigh insupportable
after a few moments and Darrin called for slow speed ahead.

"There she is again" he cried. "There's her periscope. The scoundrel
is standing out to sea."

Over the starboard quarter the searchlight signals of two other
launches were observed.

"What's taking place?" came the signaled question from one.

"Fired a few shots at a vanishing turret, but missed," Dave ordered
signaled back. "Enemy standing out to sea. Am following."

"Will follow also," flashed back the answer.

"And one of their gunners will bag the game at the first chance,"
groaned Runkle. "The jinx is sitting tight on my chest to-night!"

"It might be, if there were any such animal as a jinx," laughed
Darrin. "Your missing was just plain bad luck, Runkle. Your shooting
was good."

"The periscope is being pulled inboard, sir," called one of the seamen
who stood by with Runkle.

"I see it. There she goes, under again," Dave answered.

The Navy launch was dashing full speed ahead. But with no clue to
follow, Darrin passed some anxious seconds. Should he follow on the
course he had been taking, or should he shut off speed? In the dark
there was a good chance that the submarine commander, if so minded,
would be able to double and head back for shore.

Land lights were still visible from his position. Dave turned to
estimate their distance.

"About six knots off shore," he concluded, half aloud.

"Sir?" questioned the corporal of marines, thinking the ensign was
addressing him.

"I was just telling myself that we're about six knots off shore."

"Yes, sir," replied the corporal, saluting.

"Listen to me, you men who are near enough to hear. Your understanding
of what is in my mind may help you the better to work with me on this
job. Two launches are keeping with us, over the starboard, and I judge
the nearer one to be about four knots off. Coxswain, use the lantern
signal and ask who commands."

Soon Hardy discovered that, in order to make his signal visible at
that distance, he would have to stand higher. Springing to the forward
deck his signal was instantly understood on the other craft.

Dave, who had jumped up beside him, read the answer:

"Ensign Dalzell."

"I was sure of it," Dave smiled. "Coxswain, order number 2 launch to
come up on parallel course, standing off half-mile to starboard of
us."

"Order understood," was flashed back from Dalzell's launch.

Bit by bit Dan overhauled, at last taking the position indicated.
Darrin's launch was moving at slow speed now, for he did not care to
run out of sight of land, thus leaving the way clear for the submarine
to double on him and put back toward Grand Harbor.

"Why doesn't the fellow take a chance on torpedoing us?" was signaled
from Dalzell's launch.

"He has only three," was Darrin's reply.

That was brief, but Danny Grin understood, as Dave had intended he
should, that the submarine was believed to be equipped with only three
torpedoes. Evidently the enemy still hoped for a chance to sink a
British battleship.

Suddenly he discovered that for which he sought, and in the same
instant a seaman called, as the rays of the searchlight shifted:

"Periscope two points off the port bow, sir."

"Right!" clicked Ensign Darrin.

"May I fire, sir?" begged Runkle, bending over his piece.

"Yes, try it. Pretty long shot, though."

Before Runkle could aim and discharge his piece a swift, red flash
shot from the bow of the number 2 launch commanded by Danny Grin.
Runkle fired a second later, but the periscope still stood as if
mocking the eager gunners.

"I'm glad somebody else missed," growled Runkle, who was becoming
exasperated. He was doing himself injustice, though, for each time he
had fired, his mark, considering the distance, had been small, and the
searchlight was no peer of daylight in aiding a gunner.

Ensign Darrin admitted to himself that he was stumped. He ordered the
course changed, with speed ahead, his purpose being to scan the water
for the bubbled trail left by the underseas craft. But by the time
that he judged himself to be going over the recently observed position
of the submersible the searchlight revealed no bubbles.

The third launch now coming in close, Dave, by signal, ordered Ensign
Sutton of the British forces to go slowly inshore. He too was to watch
for bubbles, as well as to be alert for a re-appearance of the enemy
craft.

The longer the suspense lasted, the more uneasy Darrin became.

"There she is, sir!" called a low but penetrating voice from the
stern watch. "Three points off the stern to port, sir."

So quickly did the helmsman bring the launch about that she heeled and
shipped a volume of water. Darrin, as he leaped upon the forward deck,
ordered the sailor manning the searchlight to shut off.

"Don't turn it on again without orders. I believe I can follow the
pest with my glass if she will only keep her conning tower above
water. Signalman, send my order to the other launches not to use their
searchlights without first asking permission."

By this time Darrin, standing on the forward deck, had the submarine's
turret, or as much of it as showed, in the field of his night-glass.

Not more than a foot of it showed above water, and, even through the
glass, at a distance of nearly half a mile, it would hardly have been
discernible without the aid of the searchlight, had it not been for
the white wake left by the turret in its course through the water.

"May I try a shot now, sir?" begged Runkle, "I'm certain I can hit the
turret this time."

"If you could do it surely, you'd be the best shot in the Navy,"
smiled Darrin. "I'm not going to use the searchlight unless I have to,
and it would be almost impossible to make a hit in the dark without
it. The pest is headed shoreward, and I want to creep up close from
the rear, if possible."

Dissatisfied, Runkle none the less saluted and turned back to his gun.

"Keep a close sight on the sneak," Dave called after him. "When you
hear me call 'Ready!' you will complete your aim and fire without
further orders."

An order transmitted to the man standing by the engine sent the launch
plunging ahead at increased speed.

Of a sudden the pursuit assumed a new aspect. The submarine suddenly
veered around to port, and then headed straight toward the launch.

"Now's our chance!" glowed a seaman, excitedly.

"Yes," retorted another strained voice. "Our chance for death!"

The same thought came into the minds of many on the launch. The
submarine, it seemed, was about to discharge a torpedo at the pursuer.

"Starboard!" commanded Darrin. "Keep her bow to port of us!"

Seaman Jack Runkle strained his ears for the solitary word from Ensign
Darrin that would be so welcome.

"Will he ever give that order?" fumed the impatient sailor at the
breech of the one-pounder.



CHAPTER XXIV

CONCLUSION


"Stand by, gunner!" warned Darrin.

"Aye, aye, sir!" came from the man at the one-pounder.

The crew had ceased to be on tension, for it had dawned upon them
that, as the two craft were approaching each other almost head on,
there was hardly a chance that a torpedo could be made to register.

"Ready!" Darrin ordered.

There was a sharp bark from the throat of the one-pounder. Smash! A
cheer went up from the watching seamen. The shot hit the mark. But the
two men with Runkle were cleaning and loading for still another shot
at the conning tower.

"Any more, sir?" inquired Runkle, with a grin, after firing and
landing a second shot in the submarine's superstructure.

"Not unless ordered," Darrin answered, crisply. "If that fellow dives
now he'll go below and stay there for good."

Instead of diving, however, the top of the submarine's conning tower
was seen to rise higher and higher above the water.

"She's rising, but she's lost her steerage way, sir," announced the
corporal of marines.

"The helmsman was undoubtedly killed by the first or second shot,"
suggested Dave. "It looks as if the survivors mean to surrender, but
we'll watch out for tricks."

He gave the order for slow speed ahead, soon reducing it to mere
headway.

"Marines prepare to board," ordered the ensign, as the launch came up
close to the now unmanageable submarine, whose deck showed a bit more
than awash.

It called for fine work on the part of the quartermaster to set his
launch alongside without crushing it.

Gauging closely with his eye, Ensign Darrin called out:

"Ready to board! Board!"

Making the first leap himself, Dave landed on both feet on the
slippery deck of the undersea boat, the marines following eagerly and
quickly.

"Lay off and wait!" Dave called back to the quartermaster. Then he
stepped closer to the conning tower, through which two holes had been
drilled by the two registering one-pound shells.

"Open up, you fellows down there!" Dave called, briskly. "And don't
attempt any tricks."

Inside he heard shuffling movements, but there was no evidence of
intent to obey his order. So he called again, but this time spoke in
French, believing that order might be more easily understood by those
inside the submarine.

"Don't shoot! I'll come up and open," answered a voice in broken
French, strongly tinged with Maltese accent.

After a few moments the hatch was raised. Then, one after another,
eight or ten of Darrin's crew went below.

"No more men below," ordered Dave, who then followed his men in.

It was a miserable spectacle that met his eyes. A heavy body lay face
downward in a pool of blood on the steel deck.

"Who was this?" demanded Dave of the other four men who crouched to
one side in fear and trembling.

"Gortchky," answered one of the quartette sullenly.

There could be little danger of mistaking the dead man. Though no
feature of the face had been preserved, every line in that odious body
stood out clearly in Dave Darrin's mind. It was, indeed, all that was
left of Emil Gortchky. Mr. Green Hat would never again steal the
secrets of nor plot trouble between nations!

"An able man, even if a wicked one," said Dave slowly, uncovering in
the presence of Death.

The body of Emil Gortchky was allowed to remain where it lay. The
other four men of the submarine crew, one of whom was proved later to
be an expert submarine commander and a deserter from the Swedish navy,
were taken up to the platform deck, and thence transferred to the
launch, where they were put beside Mender, Dalny, the badly-scared
Filipino, and the other prisoners removed from the yacht.

In the meantime, Dan Dalzell had ranged up alongside, followed by
Sutton of His Majesty's Navy. Both of these young officers went aboard
the submarine and below deck for a look.

Rocket signals had informed those on anxious watch in Grand Harbor of
the capture of the submarine. Congratulations had been signaled back.

Just as the dawn broke, watchers in the waters near Valetta saw Dave
Darrin's launch enter the harbor, the submarine limping along in tow.

Early as the hour was, a band was lined up on the quarter deck of the
"Albion." When Darrin's boat was within six cable-lengths, the band
broke out exultingly into the strains of "See the Conquering Hero
Comes!"

Probably no naval officer so young as Dave Darrin had ever been so
signally honored by a foreign naval commander as was Dave Darrin then.

The submarine was anchored on a spot indicated by the port authorities
of Valetta. Then Dave Darrin shaped his course for the "Hudson."

From hundreds of men, lined up on the decks of the flagship, rose
lusty cheers.

"Bully boy, Darrin!" shouted a group of officers from the
quarter-deck.

"Ensign Darrin," cried Admiral Timworth, striding forth from his
quarters and grasping the young ensign by the hand. "I offer you my
heartiest congratulations! For reward you shall have anything within
my power to grant."

"Sir, I know what I want most at present," Ensign Darrin replied,
gravely.

"What?" asked the Admiral, quickly.

"A nap, a bath, clean clothing and a breakfast, sir."

"But later on, Mr. Darrin?"

"At Port Said, sir, I shall ask Captain Allen to grant me, if it does
not interfere with duty, three days ashore to meet my wife, whom I
expect to find there when the fleet arrives."

For, as readers of the Boys of the Army Series are aware, Dave and his
High School sweetheart, Belle Meade, were wedded immediately at the
end of some border troubles in which Dave and Dick Prescott were
involved on the Mexican border.

Despite, or perhaps on account of, the stirring experiences through
which he had passed, Darrin was asleep five minutes after his head
touched the pillow.

Danny Grin, who had been in only at the finish, lay awake for an hour
before slumber visited him.

All that was left of Emil Gortchky was dropped into an unmarked,
unhonored grave at Malta. Mender, Dalny and the Filipino were
condemned by a British court-martial to be shot, a sentence that was
soon after carried out.

As for the master and crew of the yacht, they persisted to the end in
strenuously denying any guilty knowledge of the real intentions of the
plotters. They escaped the death sentence, but, as their conduct was
none the less of a guilty nature, the master of the yacht received a
sentence of twenty years in prison, while his subordinate officers and
the members of the crew were imprisoned for ten years each.

On information supplied to the Italian government Countess Ripoli was
arrested. She was not an Italian woman, but had married an Italian
nobleman who had died, after which she had turned to spy work. She was
locked up and held for trial at Rome, but died of a fever before the
day of her trial arrived.

The minor spies and the thugs employed by Gortchky and Dalny, unless
they have since fallen into trouble with their own local police, have,
of course, gone unpunished.

George Cushing, the secret service agent, is now on duty in the Panama
Canal Zone.

M. le Comte de Surigny was a happy man when Dave visited him ashore on
the day following the capture of the submarine. Surigny is now in
Paris, the valued friend of a noted advocate, in whose offices he is
studying law. An inheritance of comfortable proportions has since come
to the Count, but he has determined upon a career of hard work. He is
a strong, fine character in these days, and is proving, to the full,
the manhood that Dave Darrin awakened in him.

The fleet remained a week at Port Said, Egypt. Dave had three happy
days ashore with Mrs. Belle Darrin, and Danny Grin was often to be
found in their company.

Jack Runkle received his promised rating, becoming a boatswain's mate.
He is now industriously climbing the ladder of promotion.

It is reluctantly, indeed, that we take leave of Dave Darrin in this
volume, but we shall meet him and Danny Grin again, and very soon, in
the pages of the next volume of this series, which will be published
under the title, "DAVE DARRIN'S SOUTH AMERICAN CRUISE; or, Two
Innocent Young Naval Tools of an Infamous Conspiracy." In this
absorbing story Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell are shown at their best as
faithful and loyal officers of Uncle Sam's Navy.


THE END



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Transcriber's Notes:

Punctuation normalised.

Page 35, "hunderd" changed to "hundred" (a hundred he)

Page 89, paragraph break inserted between the following two lines:

  "I will see you, Captain, in five minutes."

  "Thank you, sir. I request permission to bring

Page 130, word "to" inserted into text (happen to us)

Page 192, "vigilant" changed to "vigilantly" (tenfold more vigilantly)

The Boys of Steel Series, word "a" inserted into text (presents
a vivid picture)

Text uses both someone/some one and anyone/any one.





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