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Title: Fighting in Cuban Waters - or, Under Schley on the Brooklyn
Author: Stratemeyer, Edward, 1862-1930
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 "Fighting in Cuban Waters - or, Under Schley on the Brooklyn" ***

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                         FIGHTING IN CUBAN WATERS


                       UNDER SCHLEY ON THE BROOKLYN

                             Old Glory Series

                          BY EDWARD STRATEMEYER

AUTHOR OF "UNDER DEWEY AT MANILA" "A YOUNG VOLUNTEER IN CUBA" "RICHARD
DARE'S VENTURE" "OLIVER BRIGHT'S SEARCH" "TO ALASKA FOR GOLD" ETC.


    _ILLUSTRATED BY_
    A. B. SHUTE

    BOSTON
    LEE AND SHEPARD PUBLISHERS
    1899

    COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY LEE AND SHEPARD.

    _All Rights Reserved._

    Norwood Press
    J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith
    Norwood Mass. U.S.A.



[Illustration: "THE FLAGSHIP BEGAN THE FIRING."]



PREFACE


"FIGHTING IN CUBAN WATERS," although a complete story in itself, forms
the third volume of the "Old Glory Series," tales depicting the various
campaigns in our late war with Spain.

In "Under Dewey at Manila" we followed Larry Russell's adventures on
board of the flagship _Olympia_ during the memorable contest off Cavite;
in "A Young Volunteer in Cuba" we marched and fought with Ben Russell in
that notable campaign leading up to the surrender of Santiago; and in
the present volume are narrated the haps and mishaps of Walter Russell,
who joins Commodore Schley's flagship, the _Brooklyn_, and sails with
the Flying Squadron from Hampton Roads to Key West, thence to
Cienfuegos, and at last succeeds in "bottling up" Admiral Cervera's
fleet in Santiago Bay. The long blockade and the various bombardments
are described, and then follow the particulars of that masterly battle
on the part of the North Atlantic Squadron which led to the total
destruction of the Spanish warships.

Walter Russell's bravery may seem overdrawn, but such is far from being
a fact. That our sailors were heroes in those days we have but to
remember the sinking of the _Merrimac_, the _Winslow_ affair, and a
score of deeds of equal daring. "The hour makes the man," and the
opportunity likewise makes the hero. Walter was brave, but he was no
more so than hundreds of others who stood ready to lay down their lives
in the cause of humanity and for the honor of Old Glory. Like his two
brothers, his religious belief was of the practical kind, and he went
into battle convinced that so long as he did his duty according to the
dictates of his conscience, an all-wise and all-powerful Providence
would guide him and watch over him.

The author cannot refrain from saying a word about the historical
portions of the present work. They have been gleaned from the best
available authorities, including the reports of Admiral Sampson,
Commodore Schley, and a number of captains who took part in the contest;
also the personal narratives of one man who was on board the _Merrimac_
at the time that craft was sunk, and of a number who have made the
_Brooklyn_ their home for several years past, and who will probably
remain on the pride of the Flying Squadron for some time to come.

In presenting this third volume, the author begs to thank both critics
and the public for the cordial reception accorded to the previous
volumes, and trusts that the present story will meet with equal
commendation.

EDWARD STRATEMEYER.

NEWARK, N.J.,

March 1, 1899.



CONTENTS


I. WALTER DETERMINES TO ENTER THE NAVY

II. A VISIT TO THE NAVY-YARD

III. A CHASE AND ITS RESULT

IV. ON THE WAY TO THE "BROOKLYN"

V. SOMETHING ABOUT WAR AND PRIZE MONEY

VI. A GLIMPSE OF THE PRESIDENT

VII. A TALK ABOUT SPANISH SAILORS

VIII. THE MEN BEHIND THE GUNS

IX. COMMODORE WINFIELD SCOTT SCHLEY

X. WALTER SHOWS HIS PLUCK

XI. THE SAILING OF THE FLYING SQUADRON

XII. AN ADVENTURE OFF CHARLESTON

XIII. IN WHICH THE GOLD PIECE COMES TO LIGHT

XIV. KEY WEST, AND THE LAST OF JIM HASKETT

XV. FROM CIENFUEGOS TO SANTIAGO BAY

XVI. THE FINDING OF ADMIRAL CERVERA'S FLEET

XVII. IN WHICH THE "MERRIMAC" IS SUNK

XVIII. WALTER'S ADVENTURE ON SHORE

XIX. CARLOS, THE REBEL SPY

XX. IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY

XXI. THE FLIGHT TO THE SEACOAST

XXII. THE LANDING OF THE MARINES AT GUANTANAMO

XXIII. IN A SPANISH PRISON

XXIV. BACK TO THE "BROOKLYN" AGAIN

XXV. THE BOMBARDMENT OF THE SANTIAGO BATTERIES

XXVI. IN WHICH THE ARMY OF INVASION ARRIVES

XXVII. THE SPANISH FLEET AND ITS COMMANDER

XXVIII. "THE ENEMY IS ESCAPING!"

XXIX. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SPANISH FLEET

XXX. FINAL SCENES OF THE GREAT FIGHT

XXXI. TOGETHER ONCE MORE--CONCLUSION



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


"The flagship began the firing"

"He bent over Walter again"

"The President bowed in return"

"'See here, I want to talk to you!'"

"'I'll get square on all of you!'"

"With a final lurch the _Merrimac_ went down"

"'Surrender, or I'll shoot you where you stand!'"

"Rammer in hand, Walter edged close to the muzzle"



FIGHTING IN CUBAN WATERS



CHAPTER I

WALTER DETERMINES TO ENTER THE NAVY


"Well, Walter, I suppose the newspapers are going like hot cakes this
morning."

"They are, Mr. Newell. Everybody wants the news. I ran out of 'Globes'
and 'Heralds' before seven o'clock, and sent Dan down for fifty more of
each."

"That was right. It's a windfall for us newsdealers, as well as a
glorious victory to match. It makes me think of my old war days, when I
was aboard of the _Carondelet_ under Captain Walke. We didn't sink so
many ships as Dewey has at Manila, but we sank some, and smashed many a
shore battery in the bargain, along the banks of the Mississippi. What
does that extra have to say?" and Phil Newell, the one-legged civil-war
naval veteran, who was also proprietor of the news-stand, took the
sheet which Walter Russell, his clerk, handed out.

"There is not much additional news as yet," answered Walter. "One of the
sensational papers has it that Dewey is now bombarding Manila, but the
news is not confirmed. But it is true that our squadron sunk every one
of the Spanish warships,--and that, I reckon, is enough for one
victory."

"True, my lad, true; but there is nothing like keeping at 'em, when you
have 'em on the run. That is the way we did down South. Perhaps Dewey is
waiting for additional instructions from Washington. I hope he didn't
suffer much of a loss. Some papers say he came off scot free, but that
seems too good to be true."

"The news makes me feel more than ever like enlisting," continued the
boy, after a pause, during which he served out half a dozen newspapers
to as many customers. "What a glorious thing it must be to fight like
that and come out on top!"

"Glorious doesn't express it, Walter. Why, if it wasn't for this game
leg of mine, and my age being against me, I'd go over to the navy-yard
to-day and reënlist, keelhaul me if I wouldn't!"

"But what of the stand?"

"The stand could take care of itself--until the Dons were given the
thrashing they deserve for making the Cubans suffer beyond all reason."
Phil Newell threw back his head and gave a laugh. "That puts me in mind
of something that happened when the Civil War started. A young lawyer in
New York locked up his office and pasted a notice on his door: 'Gone to
the front. Will be back when the war is over.' I'd have to put up
something similar, wouldn't I?"

"I wish you and I could go together, Mr. Newell."

"So do I, Walter, but I'm over sixty now, and they want young blood. By
the way, what of that brother of yours down in New York?"

"Ben has joined the militia of that State, and is now at Camp Black
waiting to be sworn into the United States service. I wish he had come
on to Boston."

"Well, Uncle Sam wants soldiers as well as sailors, or he wouldn't call
for a hundred and twenty-five thousand volunteers. But give me the deck
or gun-room of a warship every time. Nothing finer in the world. I
served for nearly ten years, and I know."

Walter smiled, and then waited on several additional customers. "My
youngest brother, Larry, takes to the ocean," he answered. "He is out on
the Pacific now, somewhere between the Hawaiian Islands and Hong Kong.
He was always crazy for a boat when we were at home in Buffalo together,
and spent all his spare time on Lake Erie."

"Going to Hong Kong, eh? That's not so far from the Philippines. It is a
pity he is not with Commodore Dewey. It would be a feather in his cap
when he got home."

A steady stream of customers for five minutes broke off the conversation
at this point, and throwing down his newspaper, Phil Newell--he never
wanted to be called Philip--entered the stand to help his young
assistant. The stand was situated in the heart of Boston, just outside
of one of the leading hotels, and trade at this hour in the morning,
eight o'clock, was always brisk.

When there came a lull later on, Walter turned again to his employer.
"Mr. Newell, what if I do enlist? Can you spare me?" he questioned.

"What! do you really mean it, Walter?"

"I do, sir. As you know, I've been thinking the matter over ever since
this war with Spain started."

"But you've got to have your guardian's consent, or they won't take
you."

"I've got it in my pocket now. I wrote to him last week, and he answered
that, as Ben had already joined the soldiers, I could do as I pleased,
but I mustn't blame him if I was killed."

"Which you wouldn't be likely to do, if you were killed dead, so to
speak," laughed Phil Newell. Then he slapped Walter on the back, for
twenty odd years on land had not taken his "sea-dog" manners from him.
"Enlist, my lad, enlist by all means, if you feel it your duty. Of
course I don't like to lose such a handy clerk, but Uncle Sam can have
you and welcome."

"Didn't you say there was a young man named Gimpwell looking for this
position?"

"Yes, and he wants it badly, for he has a sick sister to support."

"Has he any experience?"

"Oh, yes; he tended a railroad stand for several years."

"Then, perhaps you could break him in without much trouble--if I went
away."

"Do you want to go at once?"

"If I am to enlist, then it seems to me the quicker the better. I see by
the papers that some of our warships are still at Hampton Roads and Key
West, but there is no telling when they will start for Cuban waters.
Besides, I've been thinking that if I could manage it, I should like to
get aboard of the _Brooklyn_, the flagship of Commodore Schley's Flying
Squadron, which is now at Hampton Roads awaiting orders."

"It's not so easy to pick your ship, my lad. However, if you wish, you
can go over to the navy-yard this afternoon and see what you can
do,--and I'll go along and leave Dan in charge here," concluded Phil
Newell.

Walter Russell was one of three brothers, of whom Ben was the eldest and
Larry the youngest. Their home had been in Buffalo, where at the death
of their mother, a widow, they had been turned over to the care of their
step-uncle, Mr. Job Dowling, an eccentric old bachelor, whose prime
object in life was to hoard up money.

In the two volumes previous to this, entitled respectively, "Under Dewey
at Manila," and "A Young Volunteer in Cuba," I related how the boys
found it impossible to remain under Job Dowling's roof, and how they ran
away, each to seek fortune as he might find it. Larry drifted first to
San Francisco and then to Honolulu, the principal city of the Hawaiian
Islands, where he shipped on a vessel bound for Hong Kong. From this
ship he was cast overboard with a Yankee friend named Luke Striker, and
both were picked up by the flagship _Olympia_ of the Asiatic Squadron
and taken to Manila Bay, there to serve most gallantly under the naval
commander whose name has since become a household word everywhere. As
Walter had intimated, Larry was a sailor by nature, and it was likely
that he would follow the sea as long as he lived.

Ben and Walter had gone eastward, but at Middletown, in New York State,
they had separated, Walter to drift to Boston, and Ben to make his way
to New York. At the latter city the eldest of the Russell brothers had
secured employment in a hardware establishment, but this place was
burned out, and then Ben enlisted in the 71st Regiment of New York,
while his intimate friend, Gilbert Pennington, joined Roosevelt's Rough
Riders, and both went to Cuba, there to fight valorously in that
campaign which led to the surrender of Santiago and caused Spain to sue
for peace.

As Walter had written to Larry, the recital of the former's adventures
in getting from Middletown to Boston would fill a volume. He had stolen
a ride on the cars from Middletown to Albany, and during this wild trip
his hat blew off and was not recovered. He was put off the train just
outside of the capital city; and, stopping at a farmhouse to inquire the
way, had his clothing torn by a bull-dog that was more than anxious to
get at what was beneath the garments. Walter hardly knew what to do,
when a tramp put in an appearance, and sent a well-directed stone at the
dog's head, causing the beast to slink away. The tramp introduced
himself as Raymond Cass, a bricklayer, out of luck, and bound for Boston
on foot. He proposed that they journey together, and Walter rather
hesitatingly consented. They moved eastward in company for two days,
when, on awakening one morning, Walter found Raymond Cass missing. The
boy's coat was also gone, and with it his entire capital,--forty-seven
cents.

The pair had made their bed in the haymow of a large barn, and while
Walter was searching for the tramp, the owner of the place came up and
demanded to know what the youth was doing on his premises. Walter's tale
was soon told, and Farmer Hardell agreed to give him a week's work in
his dairy, one of the dairymen being sick. For this Walter received four
dollars, and an old hat and a coat in addition.

Leaving Cornberry, the name of the hamlet, Walter had struck out once
more for Boston, but this time steering clear of all tramps, of the
Raymond Cass type or otherwise. He was sparing of his money, and the
first day out earned his dinner and a packed-up lunch for supper, by
putting in two panes of glass for an old lady who had waited for a week
for a travelling glazier to come around and do the job. In addition to
this, the lad worked for two days at a village blacksmith's
establishment during the absence of the regular helper who had gone to
his aunt's funeral in another place, and also found a regular position
with a florist, who had a number of large greenhouses up the Charles
River. Walter was not used to working where there was so much glass, and
on the third day he allowed a step-ladder he was using to slip. The
ladder crashed through several hot-bed frames, and poor Walter was
discharged on the spot, without a cent of pay.

The boy's next move had been to the river, where he had obtained a
position on a freight steamboat. His duty was to truck freight on and
off, and the work blistered his hands and gave him many a backache. But
he stuck to it for two weeks, thereby earning fourteen dollars, and with
this capital entered Boston.

Walter had not expected an easy time finding a situation in the Hub, but
neither had he anticipated the repeated failures that one after another
stared him in the face. For over a week he tramped up and down, without
so much as a "smell of an opening," as he afterwards wrote to his
brothers. In the meanwhile his money diminished rapidly, until more than
two-thirds of it was gone.

A deed of kindness had obtained for him the position with Phil Newell.
Chancing to walk along School Street one afternoon, he had seen two boys
beating a small boy unmercifully. The small boy had turned into Province
Street, and the big boys had followed, and here they had thrown the
little fellow down, and were on the point of kicking him, when Walter
rushed up and flung both back. "You brutes, to attack such a small boy!"
he had cried. "Clear out, or I'll call a policeman, and have you both
locked up."

"We told him to keep back at de newspaper office," growled one of the
big fellows. "Do it again, Dan Brown, and we'll give it to you worse,"
and then as Walter advanced once more, both took to their heels and
disappeared.

Dan Brown had been very grateful, and questionings had elicited the
information that the lad worked for Phil Newell, as a paper carrier and
to do errands. "His regular clerk, Dick Borden, left yesterday," Dan had
continued; "perhaps you can get the job." And Walter had lost no time in
following the small youth to Newell's place of business. Here Dan's
story was told, and the lad put in a good word for Walter, with the
result that the youth was taken for a week on trial. How well Walter
pleased the old naval veteran we have already seen. He had now occupied
the place as head clerk for nearly two months, and his salary had been
increased from four dollars a week to six. He boarded with Dan's mother,
in a little suite of rooms on a modest side street, not a great
distance from the Common.

It must not be supposed that Job Dowling, who held a good deal of money
in trust for the boys, had allowed them to run off without making an
effort to bring them back. Larry was out of his reach, but Ben and
Walter were not, and the miserly man had descended upon Ben in New York
and tried his best to "make things warm," as Ben had mentioned in a
letter to Larry. But Job Dowling had overreached himself by attempting
to sell a watch and some jewelry which had belonged originally to Mr.
and Mrs. Russell, heirlooms which were not to be disposed of under any
circumstances. On his trip to New York after Ben, the articles had been
stolen from him at the Post-office--something that had so frightened Job
Dowling that he had consented to Ben's enlisting in the army with
scarcely a murmur, fearful the youth might otherwise have him brought to
book for what had happened. A vigorous search had been made for the
thief, but he was not found. Later on, when Ben was in the army, Job
Dowling received information that caused him to reach the conclusion
that the thief had gone to Boston. The miserly guardian of the boys
returned to his home in Buffalo and, as much worried as ever, wrote to
Walter to keep an eye open for the missing property. Walter did as
requested, but in such a large place as the Hub the youth had little
hope of ever seeing the precious heirlooms again.



CHAPTER II

A VISIT TO THE NAVY-YARD


There was a rush of business at the news-stand between twelve and one
o'clock, but shortly after one this died away, and inside of half an
hour Phil Newell told Walter that they might be on their way--"If you
are bound to enlist in Uncle Sam's service," he added.

Walter made sure that the paper containing Job Dowling's permission for
him to enter the navy was safe in his coat pocket, and then announced
his readiness to depart. The owner of the stand called up Dan Brown and
gave him a few directions, and in another minute Newell and Walter had
boarded a Charlestown car and were off.

"I haven't been over to the navy-yard for several years," remarked Phil
Newell, as they rode along. "I used to know several of the boys that
were there, but they've grown too old for the service. I reckon the yard
is a busy place these days."

And a busy place it proved to be as they turned into Chelsea Street, and
moved along the solid granite wall which separates the yard from the
public thoroughfare. From beyond came the creaking of hoists, and the
ringing of countless hammers and anvils, for the government employees
were hard at work, fitting out a warship or two and converting several
private vessels into naval craft.

"I don't know if I'm just right about this," went on Phil Newell, as
they headed for one of the numerous buildings near the wall, after being
passed by a guard. "It may be that they want to keep strangers out, now
the war is on, and you'll have to go elsewhere to sign articles. But I
know old Caleb Walton is here, and he'll tell me all he can, and set us
straight."

Walter's heart beat violently, for he began to realize that the step he
was about to take was a serious one. Who knew but that, after getting
into the navy, he might be sent to the Philippines or to the coast of
Spain? Already there was some talk of carrying the war into the enemy's
home waters.

"But I don't care," he said to himself. "If Larry can ship for Hong
Kong, I guess I'm safe in shipping to anywhere. But I do hope I can get
on the _Brooklyn_, or on some other ship of the Flying Squadron."

"Hi, there, Phil Newell! What brought you here, you old landlubber?"
came a cry from their left, and Phil Newell turned as swiftly as his
wooden leg permitted, to find himself confronted by the very individual
he had started out to find.

"Caleb Walton!" he ejaculated joyfully, and held out his bronzed hand.
"I just came in to see you. Here is a young friend of mine who wants to
sign articles under Uncle Sam. Do you think you can take him in?"

"Take him in?" Caleb Walton held out his hand, brown and as tough as a
piece of leather. "Sure we can take him in, if he's sound,--and glad to
get him." He gave Walter's hand a grip that made every bone crack. "So
you want to enlist, eh? Go right over to yonder office, and they'll soon
put you through a course of sprouts," and he laughed good-naturedly.

"But, hold on, Caleb," interposed Newell, as the seaman was about to
show Walter the way. "He don't want to sign articles and go just
anywhere. He would like to get aboard the _Brooklyn_."

"That is what half of all who come here want," answered Caleb Walton. "I
reckon they think Commodore Schley's Flying Squadron is going to settle
the whole war by going after that Spanish fleet said to be at Cadiz, or
thereabouts. Well, the lad better come with me. I belong to the
_Brooklyn_ now."

"You!" came from both Phil Newell and Walter simultaneously.

"I thought you were stationed here?" continued the wooden-legged man.

"I was, but I've just received orders to join the _Brooklyn_ and bring
at least fifteen men with me. It seems they are short-handed and can't
get the men at Norfolk. If this lad wants to go with me, now is his
chance. What's his handle?"

"My name is Walter Russell, sir. But--but are you going to join the
_Brooklyn_ at once?" stammered Walter, never having dreamed that he
would be taken away on the spot.

"Uncle Sam doesn't wait long when he picks his man," replied the old
gunner, for such Caleb Walton was. "Orders were to leave Boston
to-night, but I fancy we'll be kept until to-morrow night, for we are
shy three men, not counting you. Come on." And he led the way to the
building he had previously pointed out.

"He's all right, and you're in luck," whispered Phil Newell, when he got
the chance. "Cotton to Caleb Walton, and you'll have a friend worth the
making." How true were Newell's words the chapters to follow will prove.

The building to which Caleb Walton led them was one in which were
situated the main business offices of the yard. This was now a busy
place, and they had to fairly push their way through the crowd of
seamen, officers, and workmen, who kept coming and going, on one errand
or another. Several telephones were ringing, and from a corner came the
steady click-click of a telegraph sounder.

"Uncle Sam has his shirt sleeves rolled up and is pitching in,"
whispered Caleb Walton. "Here we are. Captain Line, here is another man
for my party."

"He's rather a boy," rejoined Captain Line, as he gave Walter a
searching glance. "Is your father with you?"

"My father is dead," answered Walter, softly. "Here is my guardian's
consent." And he handed over the sheet.

"That seems to be correct. Walton, take him over to the examination
room. And hurry up, for I must catch the four-fifty train for New York."

The "course of sprouts" had begun, and almost before he knew it, Walter
had been passed upon as able-bodied. Time was pressing, and in a quarter
of an hour the youth received a slip of paper signed and sealed by
Captain Line.

"That is good for your passage to Fortress Monroe," he said. "You will
make the journey in company with Walton and a number of others. When you
get there you will report to Lieutenant Lee, who will have you
transferred to the _Brooklyn_,--unless the flagship has already sailed,
in which case you will be assigned to some other ship."

"And when do I start, sir?"

"Walton will have the orders inside of the next hour. Go with him, and
he will tell you what to do." Then came a bang of the curtain to a
roller-top desk, a shoving back of a revolving chair, and in a twinkle
Captain Line had disappeared from view. Truly, Uncle Sam and all under
him were rushing things.

Walter wished very much to visit the dry dock and the great west basin,
filled as both were with vessels in various stages of construction,
alteration, or repair, but he felt if he was to leave that night he must
be getting back to Boston and to his boarding-house, to pack his "ditty
box," as Phil Newell had dubbed his valise, for all such receptacles are
called ditty boxes in the navy.

"All right, Walter, you go ahead," said Newell. "I'll stay with Caleb
and let you know just when you are to leave, so you won't be left
behind." And in a moment more the youth had run out of the navy-yard and
was on board of another car. He made one transfer, and in less than half
an hour entered Mrs. Brown's home.

"Why, Mr. Russell, what brings you?" queried Dan's mother, surprised at
his appearance, for he rarely showed himself during the day excepting at
the dinner and the supper hours.

"I've enlisted, Mrs. Brown, and I'm to get off to-night or to-morrow,"
he answered. "You can let Mr. Keefe have my room now. I'm glad that it
won't be left empty on your hands."

"So am I, Mr. Russell, for a poor widow can't afford to have a room
vacant long," replied Mrs. Brown, with a faint smile. "So you have
really entered the navy? Well, I wish you all the luck in the world, and
I hope you will come out of the war a--a--commodore, or something like
that." And she wrung his hand.

Walter's belongings were few, and soon packed away in his valise. Then
he ran downstairs again and bid Mrs. Brown good-by and settled up with
her. "I'll write to you and Dan some time," he said, on parting.

"Well, did you make it?" was Dan's question, when Walter appeared at the
news-stand.

"I did, Dan." And the protégé of Uncle Sam told his youthful friend the
particulars.

"I'm glad you got on the _Brooklyn_," said Dan, with a shake of his
curly head. "She's going to lick the Spaniards out of their boots, see
if she ain't!" And his earnestness made Walter laugh. Dan was but
eleven, yet he read the newspapers as closely as do many grown folks.

The afternoon papers were now coming in and trade picked up, so that
Walter had to help behind the counter. While he was at work a tall,
thin boy sauntered up and gazed at him doubtfully.

"That's George Gimpwell," whispered Dan. "Didn't the boss say something
about hiring him?"

"He did, Dan. Call him over."

The errand boy did so. "Russell wants to see you," he explained.

"I believe you were speaking to Mr. Newell about this situation," began
Walter.

"Well--er--I asked him if he had any opening. I want work the worst
way," sighed George Gimpwell. "Of course, I don't want to do you out of
your job."

"That's all right; I've just enlisted in the navy," replied Walter, and
he could not help but feel proud over the words. "So if you want this
situation, you had best remain around here until Mr. Newell gets back."

"I will." George Gimpwell's face brightened. "So you've enlisted? I
wanted to do that, but I was too tall for my weight, so they told me."

"So you've enlisted?" broke in a gentleman standing by. "Glad to hear
it, young man; it does you credit." And buying a magazine, he caught
Walter by the hand and wished him well. Soon it became noised around on
the block that Newell's clerk was going to join the _Brooklyn_, and half
a dozen, including the clerk of the hotel, came out to see him about it.
In those days, anybody connected with our army or navy was quite a hero,
and somebody to be looked up to, people unconsciously told themselves.

It was after seven o'clock, and Walter was wondering if anything unusual
had delayed his employer, when Phil Newell hove into appearance. "It's
all right, my lad, don't worry," he said at once. "You don't leave until
to-morrow noon. You are to meet Caleb Walton at the New York and New
England railroad depot at exactly eleven o'clock, and all of the others
of the crowd are to be there too. The government wants to get you down
to Norfolk as soon as it can, and will, consequently, send you by rail
instead of by water."

"Hurrah! that will make a jolly trip," cried Walter. "If only I could
stop off at New York, take a run out to Camp Black, and see Ben."

"I doubt if you'll be given time to stop anywhere, time seems to be so
precious. Caleb Walton thinks the Flying Squadron will up anchors before
another week is out."

"Well, I don't care how quickly they leave--after I am on board,"
laughed the youth, much relieved that nothing had occurred whereby he
had been left behind.

George Gimpwell now came up again, and soon he was engaged to take
Walter's place. Phil Newell promised him five dollars weekly, and as
Walter had gotten six, the good-hearted newsdealer put the extra dollar
on Dan's salary, much to that lad's delight.

Eight o'clock found Walter at the stand alone, and it was then that he
penned the letter mailed to Ben, as mentioned in a previous volume,
stating he had enlisted and was making a strong "pull" to get on the
_Brooklyn_. "I won't say I am on her until it's a fact," he thought, as
he sealed up the communication, stamped it, and placed it in the corner
letter-box.

The stand was located in a niche of the hotel, and was open only in the
front, above the counter. At night this space was closed by letting down
two large shutters attached to several hinges and ropes.

"I reckon this is the last time I'll put these shutters down," thought
Walter, as he brought one down on the run. He was about to drop the
second, when a burly man, rather shabbily dressed, sauntered up, and
asked for one of the weekly sporting papers.

"I'm thinking of going to the theatre," he said, somewhat unsteadily,
and now Walter learned by a whiff of his breath that he had been
drinking. "What's the best variety show in town?"

"I'll give it up," said the youth, laughingly. "I haven't been to a show
since I came to Boston, and that's a number of weeks ago."

"Humph! What do you do with yourself nights?"

"I'm here up to eight or half past, and after that I either go home or
to one of the public reading rooms, or to the Young Men's Christian
Association Hall."

"Humph! that must be dead slow." The man lurched heavily against the
counter. "What time is it now?"

"About half past eight. I haven't any watch, so I can't tell you
exactly."

"I've got a watch right here," mumbled the newcomer, still leaning
heavily on the counter. "Here it is. But your light is so low I can't
see the hands. Turn it up."

Walter obligingly complied, and the fellow tried again to see the time,
but failed. "Strike a match," he went on; "I ain't going to no theatre
if it's as late as you say it is."

Walter did not like the man's manner, but not caring to enter into any
dispute, he lit a match as requested, and held it down close to the
timepiece, which lay in the man's open palm.

"Only eight-twenty," grumbled the fellow, slowly. "I knew you was off.
You don't--What's up?" And suddenly he straightened himself and stared
at Walter.

"I want to know where you got that watch," demanded the youth,
excitedly.

"That watch?" The man fell back a pace. "What do you--ahem--why do you
ask that question, boy?"

"Because I know that watch," was Walter's ready reply. "It was stolen
from my uncle in New York only a few weeks ago!"

"Was it?" The man's face changed color. "You--you're mistaken, boy," he
faltered, and fell back still further, and then, as Walter leaped over
the counter, he took to his heels and started down the half-deserted
street at the best speed at his command.



CHAPTER III

A CHASE AND ITS RESULT


Walter knew that watch, which had belonged first to his father and then
his mother, quite well, but if there was anything needed to convince him
that there was no mistake in the identification, it was furnished by the
hasty and unceremonious manner in which the partly intoxicated wearer
was endeavoring to quit the scene.

"If he was honest, he wouldn't run!" thought the youth. "Ten to one he's
the thief who took the grip from Uncle Job." He started after the
fleeing one. "Come back here!" he shouted. "Stop, thief!"

But the man did not stop; instead, he tried to run the faster. But he
did not turn any corners, and consequently, aided by the electric
lights, Walter could see him for quite a distance ahead.

The youth ran but a few yards, then turned and clashed back to the
stand. Bang! the second shutter came down with a crash, and in a trice
he had the padlock secured. Then off he set, satisfied that a form in
the distance was the one he wanted to overtake.

"What's the matter?" questioned a policeman on the second corner, as he
clutched Walter by the arm. "What are you running for?"

"Didn't I call out to catch the thief?" answered the youth, sharply.
"Let me go. If you weren't so dead slow, you'd be doing something,
instead of standing there looking at the moon." And on he went again,
the officer shaking his fist after him, half of the opinion that Walter
was trying to joke him.

At this hour of the evening the street was far from crowded, and Walter
kept the man ahead in sight with comparative ease. Four blocks were
covered, when the fellow paused and looked back. Seeing he was being
followed, he turned and darted into a small side street. Here were a
number of warehouses and several tenements. The door to one of the
latter stood open, and he lost no time in seeking the shelter of the
dark hallway.

"That's the time I made a bad break," he muttered thickly. "When I came
up to Boston with that stuff I reckoned I was safe. I wonder if he'll
follow me to here? He had better not, unless he wants a broken head."

In the meantime, Walter had reached the corner of the side street and
come to a halt. The narrow thoroughfare was but dimly lighted, and not a
soul was in sight.

"He turned in here,--I am certain of that," said the boy to himself.
"More than likely he is in hiding in some dark corner. I wonder if I
hadn't better call an officer?"

With this intention he gazed around, but no policeman was in view, and
he did not think it advisable to go back for the guardian of the peace
before encountered. He entered the side street slowly and cautiously,
peering into every nook and corner, and behind every bill-board, box,
and barrel as he moved along.

He had just passed the tenement where the man was in hiding when the
sounds of muffled voices broke upon his ears, and the front door was
thrown back with a bang.

"Who are you, and what are you doing in here?" came in an unmistakable
Irish voice.

"Excuse me--I--I made a mistake," was the answer; and now Walter
recognized the tones of the fellow who had the watch. "I am looking for
a man named Harris."

"Well, he doesn't live here,--so you had better get out."

"Will you--er--tell me who lives next door?" asked the man Walter was
after, in a lower tone, evidently wishing to gain time ere leaving the
building.

"A man named Casey and another named Barton live there. There ain't a
Harris on the block. If you----"

"Hold him, please," burst in Walter, mounting the tenement steps. "He
has a watch that was stolen from my uncle."

"Shut up, boy!" answered the man fiercely. "My watch is my own, and this
is all a mistake."

"There is no mistake. Hold him, will you?"

"I've got him," came from the gloom of the hallway. "I thought he was a
sneak or something by the way he was tip-toeing around here."

"You are both of you crazy. I never stole a thing in my life. Let go,
both of you!" And then the man began to struggle fiercely, finally
pushing the party in the hallway backward, and almost sending Walter
headlong as he darted down the tenement steps and continued his flight
along the side street.

As Walter went down, he made a clutch at the man's watch-chain, or
rather the chain which belonged among the Russell heirlooms. He caught
the top guard and the chain parted, one half remaining in the boy's
hand, and the other fast to the timepiece.

"Help me catch him!'" gasped the youth, as soon as he could get up. His
breast had struck the edge of one of the steps, and he was momentarily
winded.

"I will," answered the man who lived in the tenement. "Stop there!" he
called out, and set off in pursuit, with Walter beside him. But the
Irishman was old and rheumatic, and soon felt compelled to give up the
chase. "I can't match ye!" he puffed, and sank down on a step to rest;
and once again Walter continued the chase alone.

Had the thief, Deck Mumpers, been perfectly sober, he might have escaped
with ease, for he was a good runner, and at this hour of the evening
hiding-places in such a city as Boston, with its many crooked
thoroughfares, were numerous. But the liquor he had imbibed had made him
hazy in his mind, and he ran on and on, with hardly any object in view
excepting to put distance between himself and his pursuer.

He was heading eastward, and presently reached a wharf facing the harbor
and not a great distance from the Congress Street bridge. Here there was
a high board fence and a slatted gate, which for some reason stood
partly open. Without a second thought, he slipped through the gateway,
slid the gate shut, and snapped the hanging padlock into place.

"Now he'll have a job following me," he chuckled. "I wonder what sort of
a place I've struck?" And he continued on his way, among huge piles of
merchandise covered with tarpaulins.

Walter had come up at his best speed and was less than a hundred feet
away when the gate was closed and locked.

"You rascal!" he shouted, but Deck Mumpers paid no attention to his
words. "Now what's to do?" the boy asked himself, dismally.

He came up to the gate and examined it. It was all of nine feet high,
and the palings were pointed at the top. Could he scale such a barrier?

"I must do it!" he muttered, and thrust one hand through to a cross
brace. He ascended with difficulty, and once slipped and ran a splinter
into his wrist. But undaunted he kept on until the top was gained, then
dropped to the planking of the wharf beyond.

Several arc lights, high overhead, lit up the wharf, and he ran from one
pile of merchandise to another. Half the wharf was thus covered, when he
suddenly came face to face with Deck Mumpers. The thief had picked up a
thick bale stick, and without warning he raised this on high and brought
it down with all force upon Walter's head. The boy gave a groan, threw
up both hands, and dropped like a lump of lead, senseless.

"Phew! I wonder if I've finished him?" muttered the man, anxiously.
"Didn't mean to hit him quite so hard. But it was his own fault--he had
no right to follow me." He bent over Walter and made a hasty
examination. "He's breathing, that's certain. I must get away before a
watchman shows up."

He started to go, then paused and bent over Walter again. With a
dexterity acquired by long practice in his peculiar profession, he
turned out one pocket after another, transferring the cash and other
articles to his own clothing. Then, as Walter gave a long, deep sigh, as
if about to awaken, he took to his heels once more. He was in no
condition to climb the wharf fence as Walter had done, but helped
himself over by the use of several boxes; and was soon a long distance
away.

[Illustration: HE BENT OVER WALTER AGAIN.]

When Walter came to his senses and opened his eyes, the glare from a
bull's-eye lantern struck him, and he saw a wharf watchman eyeing him
curiously.

"What are you doing here, young fellow?" were the watchman's words.

"I--I--where is he?" questioned the youth, weakly.

"He? Who?"

"The thief--the man who struck me down?"

"I haven't seen anybody but you around here."

"A thief who has my uncle's watch came in here, and I followed him, and
he struck me down with a club. When--how long is it since you found me
here?"

"Several minutes ago. I thought you were drunk at first, and was going
to hand you over to an officer."

"I don't drink." Walter essayed to stand up, but found himself too weak.
"Gracious, my head is spinning around like a top!" he groaned.

"You must have got a pretty good rap to be knocked out like this,"
commented the watchman kindly. "So the man was a thief? It's a pity he
wasn't the one to be knocked down. Do you know the fellow?"

"I would know him--if we ever meet again. But I fancy he won't let the
grass grow under his feet, after attacking me like this."

"I'll take a run around the wharf and see if I can spot any stranger,"
concluded the watchman, and hurried off. Another watchman was aroused,
and both made a thorough investigation, but, of course, nobody was
brought to light.

By the time the search was ended, Walter felt something like himself,
and arose slowly and allowed the watchmen to conduct him to their shanty
at one side of the wharf. Here he bathed his face, picked the splinter
from his wrist, and brushed up generally. A cup of hot coffee from one
of the watchmen's cans braced him up still further.

"It must be ten o'clock, isn't it?" he asked.

"Ten o'clock!" came from the man who had found him. "I reckon that clip
on the head has muddled you. It's about three o'clock in the morning."

"Three o'clock in the morning!" repeated Walter. "Then I must have been
lying out there for several hours. That thief has escaped long ago." And
his face fell.

"Yes, he's had plenty of time, if he did the deed as long ago as that.
Did he have anything else besides your uncle's watch?"

"I don't know, but it's likely. You see my uncle came to New York from
Buffalo to sell some heirlooms which were left to my brothers and myself
when our folks died. The heirlooms were in a travelling-bag, and
consisted of the watch and chain, two gold wedding rings, and a diamond
that a grandfather of mine once picked up in Australia. My uncle left
his bag standing in the post-office for a few minutes, and when he got
back the grip was gone. The police hunted everywhere for the thief, but
all that could be discovered was that it looked as if the rascal had
come to Boston. To-night--or rather, last evening--a man came up and
showed the watch, which I know only too well, as it has a little
horseshoe painted on the dial plate. I tried to collar the fellow, but
he ran away, and after stopping in a tenement house, he came here. Now I
suppose he is miles away--perhaps out of the city altogether."

"That's so, yet there is no telling, lad. The best thing you can do is
to report to the police without delay--if you are able to do it."

"Yes, I guess I am able, although my head aches a good bit, I can tell
you that. I am much obliged for what you have done for me."

"Oh, that's all right--hope you get your belongings," replied the
watchman, and led the way to the gate, which he unlocked. Soon Walter
was on the street, and walking as rapidly as his condition permitted to
the police station.

At this hour of the night he found only a sergeant and several roundsmen
in charge. The sergeant listened with interest to what he had to say.

"I remember that case--it was reported to here from New York some time
ago. The pawnshops were ransacked for the jewelry and the watch, but
nothing was found. So you are certain you would recognize the man again
if you saw him?"

"I am--unless he altered his appearance a good deal. He had a small,
dark moustache, but otherwise he was clean-shaven."

"Come into the rear office and look over our album of pickpockets and
sneak-thieves. That is what this fellow most likely is--and a peculiar
one too. No first-class criminal would do this job as he is doing it."

"He drinks heavily--he was partly intoxicated when I met him," said
Walter, as he followed the station official into a rear office.

"Then that accounts for it. A man can't be a really successful criminal
unless he keeps his wits about him. Here is the album. Look it over
carefully, and let me know if you see anybody that looks like your man."
And he left Walter to himself and reëntered the outer office, to hear
the reports of the roundsmen coming in.

The book given to Walter was a thick one, filled with cards, photos, and
tin-types of criminals. Under each picture was written a name, usually
accompanied by several aliases, and also a number, to correspond with
the same number in the criminal register.

"Gracious, but they keep pretty good track of them," thought Walter, as
he turned over page after page. "Who would think all these good-looking
men were wrong-doers? Some of them look a good deal more like
ministers."

Walter had gone through half the book, and the photographs were
beginning to confuse his already aching head, when a certain picture
arrested his attention. "I've found him!" he cried out. "That's the
fellow, although he is minus that moustache of his!"

"Did you call?" asked the sergeant, coming to the door.

"I've found him. This is the man. His name is given as Deck Mumpers,
alias Foxy Mumpers, and Swiller Deck."

"If he is called Swiller Deck, he must drink a good deal," said the
sergeant, with a laugh. "You are sure of this identification?"

"I am. But he wants a moustache put on that picture."

"We take them bare-faced if we can. This photo was taken in Brooklyn."
The officer turned to an official register. "Deck Mumpers, age
forty-two, height five feet seven inches, weight one hundred and
thirty-two pounds. Round face, big ears, broad shoulders, poor teeth.
Sent to Sing Sing in 1892 for two years, for robbery of Scott diamonds.
A hard drinker when flush. Now wanted for several petty crimes in New
York. Came originally from South Boston, where he was in the liquor
business." The sergeant turned again to Walter. "I guess you have struck
your man. I'll send out the alarm. What is your address?"

"I have just joined the navy and am bound for the _Brooklyn_. But I can
leave you my uncle's name and address, and he can come on to Boston from
Buffalo, if it's necessary."

"That will do, then," answered the sergeant.

He brought forth a book in which to put down the details of the affair.
While he was writing, Walter slipped his hand into his pocket to see if
the slip of paper he had received at the navy-yard was still safe. The
paper was gone.



CHAPTER IV

ON THE WAY TO THE "BROOKLYN"


"Oh, what luck!"

"What is the matter now?"'

"My order for a railroad ticket from Boston to Fortress Monroe is gone!"

"Is that true? Perhaps Deck Mumpers cleaned you out after he struck you
down," suggested the sergeant, quickly. "Feel in your pockets."

Walter did so, and his face blanched. "He did--everything,--my money,
keys, cash,--all are missing. What in the world shall I do now?"'

"How much money did you have?"

"About twenty dollars. The main thing was that railroad ticket order. If
that is gone, how am I to get to Norfolk?"

"Was your name mentioned on the paper?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where was it to be presented? any particular depot?"

"Yes, the New York and New England railroad depot."

"Then the best thing to do is to ring the railroad folks up and have the
bearer of the order detained, if the slip is presented," went on the
police officer, and stepping to the telephone he rang up central and had
the necessary connection made.

"Is this the ticket office of the New York and New England railroad
depot?" he questioned.

"Yes," came the reply over the wire.

"A navy-yard order for a ticket from here to Norfolk, or Fortress
Monroe, has been stolen. It is made out in the name of Walter Russell.
If it is presented, hold the party having it and communicate with police
headquarters."

"Is the name Walter Russell?" was the excited query, and Walter's heart
began to sink as he seemed to feel what was coming.

"Yes."

"That order has already been filled. It was presented about ten o'clock
last night."

"I've missed it!" groaned the youth, and dropped into a chair. "What
will the navy-yard people say to this when they hear of it?"

"I don't see how they can blame you," returned the sergeant, kindly,
"seeing as you were knocked senseless by the thief. Deck Mumpers has got
the best of it so far."

He called through the telephone for a description of the party having
the order, and soon learned it must have been Mumpers beyond a doubt.

"Can't you telegraph to Norfolk to have him arrested when he arrives?"
asked Walter suddenly.

"You don't think he'll go all the way to Norfolk, do you?" smiled the
police officer. Then he turned again to the telephone. "What kind of a
ticket did that party get on the order?" he asked.

"First-class, with sleepers."

"He got a first-class ticket. Ten to one he'll not use it at all, but
sell the pasteboard at some cut-rate ticket office right here in Boston
and then buy another ticket for somewhere else."

"I see!" cried Walter. "But if the ticket was sold here, could we trace
it?"

"It is not likely, for many first-class tickets are alike. We might
trace the sleeping-car checks, but I doubt if Mumpers will try to do
anything with those."

"But he may use the ticket," ventured Walter, hardly knowing what else
to say.

"Oh, possibly. I'll have the men at the various stations keep an eye
open for the rascal," concluded the sergeant, and after a few more words
Walter left the station.

It must be confessed that the youth was considerably out of sorts. "I
start off to recover some stolen property and end by losing more," he
groaned. "I'm not fit to join the navy, or do anything." And he gave a
mountainous sigh.

It was almost five o'clock, and knowing Dan would soon be on hand with
Gimpwell to open the stand, he walked slowly in that direction. To keep
up his courage he tried to whistle, but the effort was a dismal failure.
Walter was naturally very light-hearted, but just now no one looking at
his troubled face would have suspected this.

Reaching the stand, he opened the shutters and put out the light which
he had forgotten to extinguish. Soon the first bundles of papers came
along, and he sorted them over and arranged them for sale and for Dan's
route. The work was almost done when the carrier came along, followed
immediately by the new clerk.

"Hullo, I didn't know you'd be here!" cried Dan. "Why didn't you come
home last night? Mother expected you to use the room, and you paid for
it."

"I wish I had used the room," answered Walter, and went over his tale in
a few words, for Dan must be off, to serve several men with newspapers
before they themselves started off to their daily labors.

"Say, but that's too bad!" cried the errand boy. "I've got two dollars,
Walter. You can have the money if it will do you any good."

"Thanks, Dan, I want to see Mr. Newell first. But it's kind of you to
make the offer."

"I'd offer you something, Russell," put in the new clerk. "But the fact
is I haven't even car-fare; had to tramp over from Charlestown."

Phil Newell put into appearance shortly before seven o'clock, coming a
little earlier than usual, to see that Gimpwell got along all right.
Calling him aside, Walter told of what had happened. He was getting sick
of telling the story, but, in this case, there was no help for it.

"Douse the toplights, but you've run on a sunken rock, and no mistake,
Walter," cried the old naval veteran. "So he cleaned you out
completely, eh?"

"Yes, Mr. Newell. I don't care so much for the money, but that order for
the railroad ticket--"

"It's too had; too bad!" Phil Newell ran his hand through his bushy
hair. "I don't believe the navy-yard authorities will issue a duplicate
order."

"Neither do I."

"You see, some sailors wouldn't be none too good for to get such a paper
and then sell it for what she would fetch."

"Yes, that's the worst part of it. I shouldn't want them to think I
was--was getting in on them--or trying to do so."

"The best thing to do, as far as I can see, is to call on Caleb Walton
and get his advice."

"Where does he live?"

"In Charlestown, only a few blocks from the Bunker Hill monument. I
don't know the number, but it's on Hill Street, and I know the house."

"Will you go with me? If I haven't the number--"

"To be sure I'll go with you, just as soon as I can set the new clerk on
his proper course."

"And, Mr. Newell, would you mind--that is, would you make me a--a
loan--" faltered Walter.

"Out with it, my boy, how much do you want? I told you before I'd be
your friend, and what Phil Newell says he means, every trip."

"You are very kind, sir. I don't know how much I want. I had twenty
dollars and thirty-five cents, and Mr. Walton said that was more than
enough to see me through until pay day came along."

"Then here are twenty dollars." The proprietor of the news-stand pulled
a roll of small bills from his pocket and counted out the amount. "You
can pay me back when you recover your money, or else out of your pay
money, if they don't collar that thief. Have you had breakfast yet?"

"No, sir."

"Then you had better get a bite while I instruct Gimpwell. I'll be ready
for you in quarter of an hour."

Fifteen minutes found them on the way, taking a car which took them
directly over to Charlestown, along the navy-yard and up Hill Street.

"Here we are," cried Phil Newell, as he stopped the car. "And just in
time, for there is Caleb Walton leaving his house now."

"What brings you up?" demanded the gunner, when confronted. "Well, this
is certainly a mess," he continued, after he had been told. "No, I'm
certain they won't issue a duplicate order, for Captain Line is out of
the city."

"But we might try and see what we can do," insisted Phil Newell.

"To be sure; come on." And the three set off for the navy-yard. Here it
looked at first as if nothing could be gained, but finally one of the
higher officers took it upon his own shoulders to give Walter a new
order, at the same time saying something about charging it up to the
Emergency Account.

"Well, that's a big relief," murmured Walter, on coming away. "I feel as
if a thousand pounds were taken from my heart." And he certainly looked
it.

"I must leave you now," said Caleb Walton. "Be sure and be at the depot
on time, and take care of that new order."

"It's pinned fast in my pocket," said the youth. "If it goes, so does my
coat."

On returning to the news-stand, Walter procured some paper and an
envelope, and in the reading-room of the hotel sat down and wrote a long
letter to his uncle, Job Dowling, telling of his enlistment in the navy
and of what had happened during the night. "I think you ought to come to
Boston," he concluded. "If the police can't do anything, a detective
ought to be set on this Deck Mumper's track. You are holding a good deal
of money in trust for Ben, Larry, and me, and for my part, I would spend
a good deal rather than see father's watch and his and mother's wedding
rings gone forever,--not to mention grandfather's diamond, which alone
is worth at least two hundred dollars. Write to me concerning this, and
send the letter to the _Brooklyn_, Off Fortress Munroe, Va."

This letter was mailed without delay, and soon after Walter bade Phil
Newell, Dan, and several others good-by, and, grip in hand, walked to
the depot. Here he found several jackies already assembled, and soon
learned that they were members of Walton's party. In a few minutes
Walton himself came hurrying down Federal Street, with several green
hands in tow.

"All here?" he demanded, and began to "count noses." Only one man was
missing, and he soon put in an appearance, and all entered the depot and
procured their tickets. Then Walter asked about the stolen order, but
the clerk had heard nothing new concerning it. "You were mighty lucky to
get another order," he said with a grin. "Next time they may make you
walk the tracks."

The train was in, and hurrying out to the long shed, they found their
proper places. Soon there came a sharp jerk, the train moved off; and
the long journey southward was begun.

For a seat-mate Walter had a typical Yankee lad, one from the coast of
Maine, a young fellow who knew but little about warships, but who had
spent several years on the rolling deep, in voyages to South America, to
Nova Scotia, and elsewhere. His name was Silas Doring, and Walter found
him talkative, although not objectionably so.

"Yes, I couldn't hardly wait till I got to Boston," said Si, for that
was what he said all of his friends "to hum" called him. "We'll lick the
Spanish out of their boots, see if we don't!"

"You are bound for the _Brooklyn_?" asked Walter.

"Thet's it, if they want me, otherwise I'm booked for the _Texas_. Putty
good for a boy from Maine to go on the _Texas_, ain't it, he! he! But I
don't care much. They can put me on the _San Francisco_ if they want
to--so long as they give me a chance at them tarnal Dons. When the
_Maine_ was blowed up, why, I jest jumped up an' down an' up an' down
with rage. 'Si Doring,' sez I, 'Si Doring, are you a-going to let such
an insult an' crime go by unnoticed? Not much!' sez I. 'I'll join the
navy, an' help blow all of the Spanish to Jericho,'--an' I'm going to do
it!" And the Yankee lad struck his fist into his open palm with a thump
of energy.

"I wish I knew as much about ships as you do," ventured Walter. "I've
been on two trips across Lake Erie, and know something, but I'm afraid
I'll feel like a fish out of water when I get on a man-o'-war."

"We'll keep our eyes and ears open, and try to learn--that's the only
way. I know every rope on a merchantman, kin name 'em from fore royal
stay to topping lift, but that ain't the hundredth part on it. We've got
to learn our vessel jest as a person has got to learn a new city and
its streets, fer boats ain't built one like another, not by a jugful!
And after we have learned the ship, we've got to learn the guns, and the
fire-drill, and how to clear ship for action, and a lot more, not to say
a word about learning how to knock out them Dons, as some calls 'em. Oh,
we'll have our hands full after we get on board, don't forget it!" And
Si Doring shook his head vigorously.

On and on sped the train until Hyde Park was reached. Here a brief stop
was made, and several persons including a sailor got on board. The
sailor came through the car as if looking for somebody and finally found
Caleb Walton and shook hands.

"Yes, I'm bound for Norfolk, too," Walter and Si Doring heard him
remark.

"By gum!" whispered the Yankee sailor. "I wonder if thet chap is going
with us?"

"Do you know him?" asked the boy.

"Know him? jest guess I do! His name is Jim Haskett, and he used to be
the mate of the _Sunflower_, a three-master from Penobscot. I sailed
under him once, and he was the hardest man on shipboard I ever got next
to. If he gets in the navy, he'll make everybody under him dance to his
pipings, and worse."

"If that's the case, I sincerely hope he isn't assigned to my ship," was
Walter's comment. "I haven't any use for a bully, big or little."

"I owe Jim Haskett many an old score; I would like to get the chance to
even up," went on the Yankee. "But I've enlisted to do my duty and lick
the Spanish, and if Haskett leaves me alone, I'll leave him alone. Here
he comes now." And Si straightened up.

The former mate of the _Sunflower_ passed down the aisle slowly. When he
saw the Yankee he started and then scowled at him. "Have you enlisted?"
he asked, in a voice that was far from pleasant.

"I have," returned Si. "Got any objections, Haskett?"

"Humph!" was the only answer, and the ex-mate of the _Sunflower_ passed
on, to drop into a vacant seat some distance behind them.

"Oh, he's a corker," whispered the Yankee, and Walter nodded to show
that he agreed with him. Walter was destined to many an encounter with
Jim Haskett before his first term in the navy should come to an end.



CHAPTER V

SOMETHING ABOUT WAR AND PRIZE MONEY


Commodore George Dewey's great victory over Admiral Montojo occurred on
May 1, 1898, and was the first to be scored during our war with Spain.

Previous to this time, matters had moved along swiftly, but with no
definite results. Following the wanton destruction of our battleship
_Maine_ in the harbor of Havana, in February, popular indignation arose
to a fever heat against the country which had offered the American flag
several insults in the past, and which was now engaged in a ruthless
effort to put down the long-standing rebellion in Cuba, be the cost what
it might.

For many months our President, Congress, and the people had watched,
with anxious eyes, the progress of events in Cuba--had seen the Cubans
doing their best to throw off the yoke of Spanish tyranny and
oppression. From a little uprising here, and another there, the
rebellion spread all over what was no longer "the ever-faithful isle,"
until rich and poor, those of Cuban-Spanish blood, and those whose
ancestors had been negroes and Indians, became involved in it. At first
there was no army, only bands of guerillas, who fled to the mountains
whenever a regular Spanish force presented itself, but soon the conflict
assumed a definite shape, a rebel army was formed, to be commanded by
Generals Gomez, Antonio Maceo, Calixto Garcia, and others, and then
Spain awoke to the realization that Cuba, her richest colonial
possession, with the possible exception of the Philippines, was about to
break away from her.

This crisis filled the rulers in Spain with alarm, for Cuba had turned
into her treasury millions of _pesetas_ every year, for which the island
got little or nothing in return. "Cuba must, and shall be subdued," was
the cry, and thousands of soldiers were transported from Spain and
elsewhere, to be landed at Havana, Santiago, and other points. These
soldiers immediately took possession of all the larger cities, causing
those in rebellion to withdraw to the villages and to the forests and
mountains.

A bloody warfare lasting between two and three years followed, and
thousands of the rebels, including the noble Antonio Maceo, one of the
best negro patriots that ever existed, were slain. In addition to this,
millions of dollars' worth of property were destroyed, in the shape of
torn-up railroads, burnt sugar and tobacco plantations, and sacked
villages and towns. Every owner of property was compelled to take sides
in the conflict, and if he did not side with those who waited upon him,
then his property was either confiscated or destroyed.

The Spanish authorities had started out to crush the rebellion on the
spot. As time went by and the rebels grew stronger and stronger, those
in command saw that extreme measures must be resorted to, or the
campaign would prove a failure. The majority of the Cuban men were away
from their homes. At once orders were issued to drive all the
defenceless women and children into the cities held by the Spanish. This
was accomplished under the pretext that Spain wished to keep them from
harm. Once driven into the larger places, these women and children were
not fed and cared for, but were allowed to either live upon the charity
of those about them, or starve. These poor people were called
_reconcentrados_, and it is a matter of record that before the war
closed nearly three hundred thousand of them gave up their lives through
neglect and lack of food.

The people of the United States had stood by mutely and seen the war
waged against the rebels who well deserved their liberty, but no one
could stand by and see women, children, and helpless old men starved to
death. At once it was proposed to send relief ships to Cuba, but Spain
frowned at this, saying that such relief was only one way of helping
those who had taken up arms against her.

At this time there were many Americans in Havana and elsewhere in Cuba,
and as a matter of self-protection the battleship _Maine_ was sent down
to Havana harbor to see that no harm came to them. How the battleship
was blown up and over two hundred and fifty lives lost, has already been
told in the previous volumes of this series. A Board of Inquiry was
appointed by the President, and it was soon settled that the explosion
which had wrecked the warship had come from the outside and that Spain
was responsible for the loss. Spain denied the charge; and the war was
practically on.

The first movement of the authorities at Washington was to blockade the
city of Havana and a large portion of the coast to the east and the west
of that port. This work was intrusted to Commodore (afterwards Admiral)
Sampson, and he left Key West with the North Atlantic Squadron on the
morning of April 22, and in a few days had a grand semicircle of
warships stationed on the outside of Havana, Matanzas, Mariel, Cardenas,
Bahia Honda, Cabanas, and other ports of lesser importance. Later on,
other ports were likewise blockaded, and these portions of Cuba suddenly
found themselves cut off from the outside world. Sampson wished to
bombard Havana and bring the Spanish stationed there to terms at once,
but this suggestion was overruled, as it was imagined that Spain might
be brought to terms without such a great loss of life.

As soon as the blockading of the ports mentioned began, the President
called for volunteers, and how nobly all our states responded we have
already learned in "A Young Volunteer in Cuba." The regular army was
also hurried to the south-east and concentrated at Tampa and other
points, while the volunteers remained in their various state camps,
waiting to be mustered into the United States service. Of the grand
movement to Cuba we shall hear later.

The news of Commodore Dewey's glorious victory, as related in "Under
Dewey at Manila" thrilled our people as they had not been thrilled for
years. In the army and the navy were men from both the North and the
South, and sectionalism was now wiped out forever, and all stood
shoulder to shoulder under Old Glory, fighting for the sake of Humanity.
The battle-cries were "Free Cuba!" and "Remember the _Maine_!" and
certainly none could have been more inspiring.

The blockading of so long a coast line required a great many warships,
and as it was not deemed advisable to place all our big vessels on this
duty, the authorities lost no time in buying or leasing a number of
ocean steamers and coast craft and converting them into vessels of war.
These vessels required a great number of men, and the Naval Reserves
were in great demand, as were also volunteers for the regular navy. This
was the reason that Walter and those with him were taken on so quickly.
Had he applied for enlistment into the navy during times of peace, he
would have found an entrance far more difficult, for Uncle Sam is
growing more and more particular every day as to the class of men he
allows to tread the decks of his men-o'-war.

Shortly after Havana and its neighboring ports were blockaded, it was
rumored that Spain would send over a powerful fleet to bombard New York
or some other principal city along our eastern seacoast. This caused a
good deal of uneasiness, and steps were immediately taken to fortify all
principal points and mine many of the harbor entrances. Patrol boats
were also placed on duty, to give the alarm at the first sight of an
enemy. In some cases channel buoys were removed, and lighthouse lamps
were left unlit, so that no Spanish vessel might creep in under cover of
darkness.

Acting Rear-Admiral Sampson, as he was officially designated, was kept
busy watching the blockade along the northern coast of Cuba, and in
distributing his auxiliary vessels to such points as would be most
advantageous. This being the case, Commodore Schley, next in command,
was left at Hampton Roads, near Fortress Monroe, Virginia, with what
was known as the Flying Squadron, a number of the fastest warships
riding the Atlantic. The Flying Squadron was to wait until the Spanish
fleet started westward, when it was to do its best toward doing as Dewey
had done to Montojo's fleet, "find it and engage it"; in plain words, to
fight it to the bitter end. Great things were expected of the Flying
Squadron, and in this the people were not to be disappointed, as we
shall see.

The trip by rail from Boston to the South proved full of interest to
Walter, who loved riding on the cars. So far two transfers had been
made, one at New York, and the other at Baltimore, but at neither city
was any time allowed for seeing the sights. "It's a case of get there,"
explained Caleb Walton. "You see, that Spanish fleet may sail for the
United States at any moment, and then Schley will be bound to go out on
a hunt for it in double-quick order."

"I see that the Spanish Cape Verde Squadron has joined the fleet at
Cadiz, which is ready for sea," observed Walter, pointing to a morning
newspaper he had purchased on the train. "There are four first-class
cruisers, the _Viscaya_, the _Almirante Oquendo_, the _Infanta Maria
Teresa_, and the _Cristobal Colon_, besides two or three torpedo-boat
destroyers. At Cadiz there are the _Pelaya_, _Alfonso XIII._, and
several other ships. If they all come over here, it seems to me they may
make matters mighty warm for us."

"We want 'em warm," interrupted Si Doring. "I wouldn't give a rap for a
milk-and-water battle. Let us have it hot, say I, hot,--and knock the
Spanish to kingdom come!"

"They won't dare to send all of the ships over," said Caleb Walton.
"They must guard their own coast. If they don't, some of our ships may
slip over there and make it interesting for them."

"Do you think we'll carry the war to Spain?" asked Walter, with deep
interest.

"There is no telling, lad. Some folks have it that half of Europe will
be mixed up in this muss before it's over. One thing is certain, Dewey's
victory at Manila isn't going to be such a smooth thing out there, for
the Filipinos are in a state of revolt and won't want us to govern them
any more than they want the Spanish; and besides, Germany, France, and
other nations have big interests there."

"Well, I guess the best we can do is to look out for our little end,"
smiled the boy. "As for the rest, the authorities at Washington must
settle that."

"Well said, lad; you and I couldn't run the government if we tried. But
we can do our duty, and that will be to obey orders and take what
comes."

"How is it that you got Jim Haskett to enlist?" asked Si.

"Oh, that fellow is after prize money," was the gunner's reply. "He has
been reading of the luck down around Havana, and he wants the chance to
earn a few hundred extra. Well, maybe he'll get it."

"I've heard of prize money before, but I don't exactly know what it is,"
observed Walter.

"It's the money got out of a captured ship when she's sold. You see,
when a ship is captured she's taken to some port and turned over to a
prize court, and if she doesn't turn out a Scotch prize she is knocked
down under the hammer."

"I know what you mean by knocking her down under the hammer. But why
doesn't the rule apply to a Scotch vessel?"

At this query of Walter's Caleb Walton burst into a roar of laughter.
"It's easy to see you're a landsman," he said. "I didn't say a Scotch
vessel; I said a Scotch prize--a ship captured illegally, and one that
must be given back to her owners. I don't know where that term came
from, but it's what the men in the navy always use."

"I see."

"A legitimate prize is sold, and then the money is divided. If the
vessel captured was the equal of that taking her, then all the prize
money goes to her captain and crew; but if the captured ship is
inferior, then her takers get only half of the money, and Uncle Sam
keeps the balance."

"And what part would I get if my ship took a prize?" went on Walter,
more interested than ever, for the question of prize money had not
appealed to him before.

"You would get a share according to your regular pay--perhaps one dollar
out of every five or ten thousand."

"That wouldn't be much--on a small craft."

"You are right, lad, but it would be a tidy amount on a big warship
worth two or three millions. The division of the prize money is
regulated according to law, so there can't be any quarrelling. The
commander of a fleet gets one-twentieth, the commander of a ship
one-tenth of that coming to his ship (when there are more ships than one
interested in the prize), and so on, and we all get our money even if we
are on temporary leave of absence."

"But what does Uncle Sam do with his share?" put in Si.

"His share is put into a fund that is used toward paying naval officers,
seamen, and marines the pensions due them. These pensions are, of
course, not as large as those of the army, but they are considerable."

"Well, I hope we strike a big prize, or half a dozen little ones," said
Walter. "On a pay of eleven dollars a month a fellow can't expect to get
very rich."

"Do your duty, lad, and you may rise before the war is over." The old
gunner caught Walter by the arm. "Come with me," and Caleb Walton arose,
and led the way to the smoking-car. Wondering what was meant by this
movement, Walter followed.

"I want to have a quiet talk with you," went on Caleb Walton, after they
were seated in a secluded corner. "Do you smoke?"

"No, sir."

"You're just as well off. But I must have my pipe." Caleb Walton drew
forth a brier-root, filled it with a dark mixture of tobacco, and lit
it. "Ah, that's just right. And now to business." And he threw one leg
over the other. For a moment he gazed thoughtfully at Walter, and the
boy wondered what was coming next. He was satisfied that it must be of
more than ordinary importance, otherwise the old gunner would not have
asked him to come to the smoking-car, away from their companions.



CHAPTER VI

A GLIMPSE OF THE PRESIDENT


"You see it's this way," began Caleb Walton, after gazing for a moment
at Walter. "Phil Newell is your friend, isn't he?"

"Yes, indeed!" responded the boy, warmly.

"Exactly--likewise he is my friend, too. We served together for years,
and I sometimes looked up to Phil as a kind of elder brother. Well,
after you left us at the navy-yard he and I had a long talk about you,
and he made me promise to keep my eye on you--do you understand?"

"I think I do."

"Now, keeping an eye on you is out of the question unless you are placed
where I can see you."

"But aren't we both to go aboard of the _Brooklyn_?" cried Walter.

"Yes, according to the course we're steering now. But both being on the
_Brooklyn_ doesn't cover the bill. I expect to be in charge of one of
the guns--will be if Bill Darworthy is still in the hospital. Now if
you enter as a mere boy, or even as a landsman, it may be that you'll
never get around to where I am. You must remember that the _Brooklyn_ is
a big ship, and all the men on her are divided into classes,--officers,
petty officers, seamen, gunners, marines, and so on,--and one class is
pretty well separated from another."

"I presume that is so, but I never thought of it before."

"Even seamen are divided into seamen gunners, apprentices and the like,
and if you went on as a mere boy you might not see me once a week,
unless we happened to be off duty at the same time."

"I see what you are driving at, Mr. Walton; you--"

"Avast there, Walter, no mister for me, please. I'm plain Caleb Walton."

"Well then, Walton, you want to get me attached to that gun you hope to
have placed in your charge?"

"Now you've struck the bull's-eye, lad. The thing of it is, can I manage
it?"

"I'm sure you must know more about that than I do. I'll like it
first-rate if you could, for I--well, to be plain, I like you."

Caleb Walton held out his horny hand. "The liking is mutual, Walter, and
there's my fist on it. Now I have an idee." The old gunner took several
puffs at his pipe. "I know Captain Cook of the _Brooklyn_ tolerably
well--served under him for a short spell, and once did a little private
business for him. Now, Captain Cook won't do a thing as is out of his
line of duty, but still----"

"He may aid you in having me assigned to the gun you expect to have
charge of?" finished Walter.

"That's it. I think I can work the deal--almost sure of it,--but you
must help me."

"What must I do?"

"Say nothing and leave it all to me, and if my plan goes through, don't
tell any one that you were favored. If you do, you'll only make
enemies."

"I'll remember that. But what of Haskett, Doring, and the others?"

"I'd like to have Doring in my gang--he's the right sort. I don't want
that scowling Jim Haskett, not after what Doring has told me of him. But
he's out of it, anyway, for he enlisted as a first-class seaman, at
twenty-six dollars per month."

"I wish I knew a little more about a warship," said the youth,
longingly. "The more I hear, the less I seem to know."

"It will all come to you in time, and when you are on board I'll show
you all I can. It would do no good to talk about guns and the like until
I can point out the different parts to you, for you wouldn't know a
breech-block from a priming-wire until you laid eyes on it."

"But how is a ship commanded? Won't you tell me something about that?"

"Of course you mean a warship, not a merchantman. Well, the highest
officer is, of course, the captain, although the vessel may be the
flagship of a commodore or an admiral."

"And what of a commodore and an admiral? You see I'm awfully green, when
it comes down to the navy. My younger brother Larry is the real sailor
in our family."

"You'll get there, lad; anybody will who is in for learning as you are.
An admiral is the highest officer in any navy, and he commands
everything that floats, from battleship to despatch tug. Next to him is
the vice-admiral. In the United States navy these offices don't exist
any more, having died out with the deaths of Admiral Porter and
Vice-Admiral Rowan."

"But the newspapers speak of Admiral Sampson."

"He is acting rear-admiral, but holds only the office of commodore. He
commands a fleet of warships, while a commodore commands only a
squadron; that is, four or six, usually, although he may have more at
times. His ships are generally divided into two divisions."

"I understand. Please go on."

"Well, as I said before, the captain really commands the ship. Next to
him are the commander and the lieutenant-commander. The first of these
takes orders from the captain and issues them to those under him. The
lieutenant-commander is called the executive officer, and he's always
put down as the hardest worked man on the ship. What he does would fill
a book, and he rarely gets leave of absence, for nobody can spare him."

"But what does he do?"

"Well, in the first place he sees that the whole crew keeps straight,
and he keeps a conduct book for reference. He hears all complaints and
straightens out all difficulties. He sees to it that the ship is kept
clean, and he has the say about arranging messes. He must also station
the hands for the various fire, sail, and boat drills, the gun
exercises, and the drills with small-arms and cutlasses. Then every
night at eight o'clock he receives the reports of petty officers, to
show that each department is O. K. up to that hour. And there is a lot
more besides."

"Thanks, but I don't care to be an executive officer," smiled Walter.
"But perhaps he gets well paid for it."

"He earns from twenty-eight hundred to three thousand dollars per year.
The commander gets five hundred more than that. A commodore gets five
thousand a year, and a rear-admiral six thousand, when at sea. When on
shore all these figures are slightly reduced."

"Those are nice salaries."

"That is true. But don't forget that everybody on the ship in the shape
of an officer must board himself. The crew does that too, but Uncle Sam
makes them an allowance for that purpose."

"Don't the higher officers get anything?"

"They have a ration allowed them--that or thirty cents. Of course such
a ration cuts no figure with a commander or a captain."

"I suppose that's so. But please go on. Who is next to the executive
officer?"

"The junior lieutenant, and then come the ensigns and naval cadets; that
is, those young fellows from Annapolis who are studying up to become
higher officers."

"And after that what?"

"Then come the warrant officers, that is, those warranted by our
President, and they include boatswain, gunner, carpenter, and
sail-maker. And you mustn't forget the marines--the soldier-sailors."

"Gracious, what a lot! Any more?"

"We are not half through, lad, but the others will explain themselves by
their titles, such as chief engineer, chief surgeon, paymaster, and
chaplain. The chaplain holds the relative position to a captain or a
commander, but his whole duty is to hold church and keep the men from
going wrong, morally and spiritually. Besides these, we have boatswain's
mate, gunner's mate, and the like. Then among the seamen the leading men
are called captains; as, for instance, captain of the top, captain of
the afterguard, and like that. You'll soon get to know them all, never
fear."

"How will I know them--by their uniforms?"

"By their uniforms, and also by the stripes and devices they wear. Don't
you see this flaming spherical shell of silver that I wear? That shows
that I am a gunner and have seen over twenty years of service. If I was
a gunner with less time to my credit, the shell would be of gold."

"And does everybody wear some device?"

"Everybody, from a rear-admiral with his two silver stars and anchor
down to the apprentice who has his figure 8 knot. If I get to be a chief
gunner, I'll wear two crossed cannons instead of this shell."

"And if you got to be a captain, what would you wear?"

"A silver spread eagle, with an anchor at each end, on my shoulders."

"That's another deal to learn. I should think a fellow would get mixed
on all these stars, eagles, shells, cannons, and the rest."

"It takes time to learn, lad. Let me give you a bit of advice. If you
meet another person on shipboard and you are in doubt about it, salute.
You may be making a mistake, but it will be a mistake on the right
side."

"I'll remember that. But I feel as if I had more than ever to learn.
Can't I get some book and study it?"

"I've got such a work in my valise. I'll get it for you," concluded
Caleb Walton, and he arose. "But remember about that other thing--mum is
the word."

"I certainly shall remember," and Walter smiled. "I'm awfully glad I've
found such a friend as you," and he squeezed the old gunner's hand.

They returned to the other car, and soon Walter was deeply interested in
the volume which Caleb Walton loaned him. It was a technical work,
issued by the authority of the Navy Department, and contained all that
he desired to learn, and a deal besides.

"Going to learn your duty as soon as possible, eh?" observed Si Doring,
as he looked over the boy's shoulder. "That's right. If you want to know
anything about sails or knots, call on me."

"What's the matter with calling on me?" put in the voice of Jim Haskett,
as he slid into the seat behind them, and leaned over. "I reckon I know
as much as Doring about a ship, and maybe a leetle more."

At this Si Doring fired up on the instant. "See here, Haskett, I ain't
under ye no longer, remember that!" he cried. "I don't want you to talk
to me, or about me. I owe you one, and more, and I ain't forgetting
it--remember that!"

"Oh, don't get on a high horse," growled the former mate of the
_Sunflower_. "I won't talk to you if you don't want me to."

"And ye needn't talk about me, either. Think ye know a leetle more about
a ship than I do, eh? Well, maybe Captain Pepperill didn't think so,
when you let the _Sunflower_ split her foremast in that blow off--"

"I wasn't responsible for that!" interrupted Jim Haskett, his surly face
growing red. "You let the past drop, and I'll let it drop." He glared
savagely at Si, then turned to Walter. "Do you want some p'ints
explained, Russell?"

"Thank you, but I would just as lief study this book for the present,"
answered Walter, coldly, and somewhat astonished to learn that Haskett
knew his name.

"Maybe I can make some p'ints clearer. I'm an old sea-dog, you know."

"I think Doring can explain all I wish to know," continued the boy,
feeling he ought to stick up for the Yankee who had made himself so
agreeable since leaving Boston.

"Don't want my advice, then?"

"I think not."

"All right, then, suit yourself. If you want to cotton to such a fellow
as Doring, you can do so, but"--he lowered his voice--"I reckon you are
making a mistake." And then, before either Walter or Si could answer, he
bounced up, and strode down the aisle and into the smoker.

The train was approaching Washington, and shortly after this
conversation it rolled into the depot at the Capitol city, and came to a
standstill.

"We stop here for fifteen minutes," said the porter to Walter, when
questioned on the point. "Give you sailor-boys time to stretch your
shoah legs." And he grinned, having been on a warship himself once,
serving as a "striker,"--one who waits on the mess tables.

"Let us take a few minutes' walk; I am all cramped up," said Walter to
his Yankee friend; and Si readily agreed. Caleb Walton was willing they
should go, but warned them not to stay too long.

"Fifteen minutes don't mean sixteen; remember that," he called after
them.

"I should like to spend a few days here," observed Walter, as he and his
companion hurried on. "The Capitol, patent offices, and other buildings
must be very interesting."

"I'd rather see President McKinley," returned the Yankee. "My, but he
must have his hands full these days!"

"Do you want to see the President?" questioned a man who was just
passing them. "If you do, he's in his carriage three blocks below here.
There's a cave-in of a sewer, and his carriage just stopped."

"Then here's our chance, Si!" cried Walter, eagerly. "Come on; we can
make it if we run. I wouldn't miss seeing the President for a good
deal!"

"Thet's me!" burst out the Yankee. "Off we go!" And he started to run,
his long legs giving Walter all he could do to keep up with him. The
three blocks were covered, and they came to where the cave-in was
located, but only some very ordinary vehicles were in sight.

"We're too late!" grumbled Si, crestfallen. "Come on back."

"Too late for phwat?" asked an Irishman standing near the sewer.

"We wanted to see the President."

"Sure an' there goes his carriage down beyant." And the Irishman pointed
to a side street.

It was still less than a block away, and without stopping to think twice
they made after it, and came up just as it was turning a corner. A very
trim driver sat on the box of the turn-out, and on the rear seat, the
sole occupant of the carriage, sat our country's chief executive.

"Hurrah!" shouted Walter, impulsively, and waved his cap, and Si did the
same. Several others bowed and tipped their hats, and the President
bowed and tipped his silk hat in return. Then the carriage rolled
swiftly away.

[Illustration: THE PRESIDENT BOWED IN RETURN.]

"It was him all right enough," exclaimed Si, enthusiastically, and with
a total disregard for grammar. "He looks jest like his pictures, only a
little more care-worn. I suppose he loses lots o' sleep these nights."

"Yes, indeed. Being the President isn't the easiest berth in the world.
If I--" Walter broke off short. "Our train--I'll wager a dollar we'll
miss it!"

"Creation! don't say that!" gasped Si; and then both took to their heels
as if running the race of their lives.



CHAPTER VII

A TALK ABOUT SPANISH SAILORS


"The train is gone!"

It was Walter who gasped out the words, as he and his companion rushed
upon the depot platform. In the distance they could see the end of the
rear car just vanishing from view in a cloud of dust.

"Thet's so!" groaned Si, panting for breath, for they had done their
best to reach the depot in time. "What's to be the next move?" And he
looked anxiously at his companion.

"I'm sure I don't know," was Walter's slow answer. "I--I almost wish I
hadn't seen the President--now."

"Can't we take a later train?"

"I don't know if the tickets will be good. Certainly we'll have no
sleeping accommodations for to-night."

"Who cares for that, so long as we get to Fortress Monroe? Come on, let
us see what can be done." And Si led the way to the ticket office.

The ticket-seller was busy, and it was several minutes before they could
get to him. "Yes, there will be another train in an hour and a quarter,"
he said. "About your tickets, did you have stop-over privileges?"

"We did not--we didn't intend to stop over," answered Walter.

"Then I don't believe the conductor will accept them."

"Gee shoo!" groaned Si, dismally. "Do you mean to say we've got to pay
the fare from here to our destination? Why, it will take all I've got
with me, and maybe more."

"There ought to be some way of having our tickets fixed up," said
Walter. "Can't we go to the main office and see about them?"

"Certainly, if you desire," rejoined the ticket seller, and turned to a
number of others who were waiting impatiently to be served.

The main offices of the railroad company were not far distant, and
hither they made their way. Inside, a young clerk learned what they
wanted, and then took them to an inner apartment.

"Government fares, eh?" questioned the elderly gentleman to whom they
had been conducted. "What was the reason you didn't catch your train?"

"We lingered to see President McKinley, who was out in his carriage,"
said Walter. "We got so interested we forgot the time until we were just
about a minute late."

"Well, I can't blame you much for wanting to see the man you are
fighting under," said the railroad official. "Let me see your tickets."
And, taking them, he wrote upon the back of each in blue pencil. "There
you are, but you'll have to ride in an ordinary coach."

"We don't care if it is a freight," put in Si, earnestly. "We want to
get there." And, after both had thanked the official for his kindness,
they withdrew.

"We're all right so far," observed Walter, as "to kill time," they
walked slowly down one of the broad avenues for which our Capitol city
is famous. "The question is, what will Caleb Walton think of us when he
finds us missing?"

"I hope he doesn't think we are trying to desert!" cried Walter, to whom
this idea had not before occurred.

"Some fellows wouldn't be any too good to desert, Walter. Only last week
a lot of fellows deserted on their way from one of the western states.
They got to Chicago, where they wanted to go, and that was the last seen
of them. They were like tramps--willing to do anything for a free ride
on the cars. But they ran the risk of being court-martialled for it."

"I think the fact that we had our tickets fixed up will go to show what
our intentions were, Si. However, we have put our feet into it, and must
take what comes."

After a walk of half an hour, both felt hungry and entered a
modest-looking restaurant on a side street. They had just ordered a
cheap meal each, when a newsboy entered with a bundle of afternoon
newspapers.

"Have a paper, sir? Extra, sir; all about the Flying Squadron going to
sail. Only one cent, sir."

"What's that?" questioned Walter. "Here, give me a paper." And he
grasped the sheet eagerly, while Si also purchased one of another sort.
Soon both were devouring the "scare-heads" showing upon each.

     THE FLYING SQUADRON READY TO SAIL!

     Schley and His Warships May Leave Hampton Roads To-night!

     The Spanish Fleet Said To Be On Its Way Westward!

     Has It Sailed for Cuba or Will It Bombard Some City on Our
     Coast?

     The Authorities Very Reticent, but a Strict Watch To Be Kept
     from Maine to Florida for the Appearance of the Enemy!


"By ginger, they're a-comin' over here, sure pop!" burst from the Yankee
youth's lips. "Supposing they bombard New York? Why, I heard tell that
they could lay out in the harbor and plant a shell right on the top of
Trinity Church, or come up to Boston Harbor and knock the top off of the
Bunker Hill monument!"

"Our ships and forts won't give them the chance to come so close, Si.
But what I'm thinking of is, supposing the warships sail before we can
get on board?"

"Thet's so!" Si Doring heaved a long sigh. "Why didn't we wait some
other time for to see the President? If we miss the ships, I don't know
what we'll do. We'll be stranded."

"Oh, I presume, they'll put us on some other vessel. But my heart was
set on getting aboard the _Brooklyn_." And Walter sighed, too.

Both had lost interest in eating, and swallowed the food mechanically.
Then, without waiting, they hurried back to the depot, bound that the
next train should not slip by.

The route to Fortress Monroe was by way of Fredericksburg, Richmond, and
Newport News. Soon the train came along and they got aboard. The cars
were comfortable, but not nearly so elegant as the one previously
occupied.

"It is odd to me to see separate cars for negroes and whites," observed
Walter, after the journey had begun. "We don't have any such thing up
North."

"They will be done away with in time, I guess," answered Si. "By the
way, I see in this newspaper that among the first troops to be sent to
Cuba will be two regiments of negroes. Hurrah for those boys, say I."

It was growing dark, and soon the car lamps were lighted. The boys read
their newspapers through from end to end, and Walter learned that the
volunteer regiments were everywhere being sworn into the United States
service as rapidly as possible.

"I wonder who will get to the front first?" he mused. "It would be odd
if they should send Ben to the Philippines instead of Cuba. If only
Larry was with me to go into the navy. I am sure he would enjoy this
sort of service." And thus musing, he dropped asleep, never dreaming of
the part his younger brother had taken in the contest of Manila Ray.

"Richmond! Change cars for James City, Williamsburg, and Newport News!"
Such was the cry which awoke him. He arose sleepily, to find Si snoring
heavily.

"Si, wake up!" he cried, and shook his companion. "We have to change
here."

"Change--for what?" questioned the Yankee, as he blinked his eyes in the
glare of an electric light. "How far have we got?"

"Richmond. Come--the other train leaves in a few minutes."

It was early morning, and the depot platform was deserted excepting for
the passengers that left the train. Soon the second train rolled in, and
they found a double seat, and proceeded to make themselves comfortable.

"By ginger! I never thought of 'em before," remarked Si, suddenly.

"What?"

"Our satchels, that we left in that first train."

"I had mine checked through."

"I didn't, because I wanted to look over some things of mine on the way
down." Si shook his head in dejection. "Say, but ain't I running up
against the worst luck ever was! I'll bet a new pocket-knife the satchel
is gone when I get to the end of this trip."

"Oh, I hope not, Si. Did it contain much of value?"

"It had my clothing in, a Bible that my mother gave me, and a ten-dollar
gold piece that I've been carrying around for twelve years for luck,
because it was given to me by a South American rain-maker, a kind of
water-witch I met in San Luiz, Brazil. And that ain't the worst on it,
either. The grip wasn't locked."

"It's too bad. But let us hope it's all right, Si. Anyway, I wouldn't
worry until you know the truth," said Walter, trying to put a bright
face on the matter, and then he dropped asleep again, and the Yankee
youth presently followed his example.

Luckily the train ran right through from Newport News to Hampton, which
is within two miles and a half of Old Point Comfort and Fortress Munroe.
The ride proved uneventful, and when they reached Hampton they fell
directly into the arms of Caleb Walton.

"What does this mean?" demanded the old gunner, as he caught each by the
arm. "Missed the train, eh? I told you to be careful."

"We'll know better next time," answered Walter. "But what of the Flying
Squadron? Has it sailed?"

"Not yet, but the ships may leave Hampton Roads at any hour. I made up
my mind to wait for this train and then go on. I sent the others ahead."

"What of my satchel?" put in Si.

"It's in the baggage room. But hurry up; every hour counts just about
now." And he led the way to where the bag had been left.

"Here is a big wagon bound for the fort," said Walton, as they left the
station. "We'll ride down on that, for the soldiers in charge gave me
permission, should you show up."

The wagon was loaded with blankets, and the pile made a soft seat. Soon
there came a crack of a whip, and they were off, down a sandy highway
leading directly to the sea. Soon the salt air filled their nostrils.

"Oh, we're in good shape to give the Dons a hot reception, if they show
themselves around here," said one of the soldiers, in reply to a
question from Walter. "We've got some of the finest guns in the country
at the fort, and can reach a ship ten or twelve miles out in the
harbor."

"I should like very much to inspect a real fort," answered the youth.
"The guns must be even more complicated than on board a warship."

"The disappearing guns are very fine. But I doubt if you could get
permission to go through now--at least, not until you were duly enlisted
into the navy and had your uniform on. You know we have strict orders to
keep all outsiders at a distance. We don't want any Spanish spies to get
plans of our hidden batteries and the fort itself."

"Would they dare to try to get them?" asked Si. "'Pears to me that would
be a mighty risky piece of business."

"Certainly they would try. You mustn't think that all Spaniards are
cowards--even if the authorities are responsible for blowing up the
_Maine_. They'll give us a good shake up, if they get the chance."

"I don't think so," said Caleb Walton. "They are not as up-to-date as we
are. I know we can beat 'em at gun practice every round."

"Don't brag. Wait till the war is over."

"I'm not bragging--only talking facts, sergeant. I have a friend at the
Brooklyn Navy-Yard, and he wrote to me about the gunners on the
_Vizcaya_, when that Spanish warship was lying off Staten Island this
spring. He said they were--well tired, I reckon we'd call it,--and
didn't have any drills worth mentioning all the while the ship was
there. Now you know that won't do."

"Oh, yes, I know a man must keep at his drills if he doesn't want to
grow rusty."

"Besides that, you must remember that four-fifths of their sailors don't
enlist for themselves. They are shanghied out of the seaport towns, made
drunk, and taken on the ships like so many cattle, and they are lucky if
they get away inside of ten or fifteen years. And in addition the
cat-o'-nine tails is always dangling afore their eyes. Now a man
treated like that can't make a good sailor, for the simple reason that
he knows he has been treated unjustly, and he can't take an interest in
his duties."

"Gracious, don't you think you are stretching it a bit?" put in Walter.
"What of their officers?"

"Nearly every one of them comes from the ranks of the nobility, and that
takes a good deal of ambition from the men, too, knowing it will be next
to impossible for them to rise, even to a petty office. Now in our navy
it's totally different. A man enlists of his own free will, he is
treated fairly even though subject to rigorous discipline, and if it's
in him he can rise to quite a respectable office and earn a good
salary--and he's certain to get his money, while the Spanish sailors and
soldiers go without a cent for months and months."

"T know what you say about wages is true," said the sergeant in command
of the army wagon. "I have it from a friend who left Havana when Lee,
our consul, came away, that the majority of the Spanish troops stationed
about the city hadn't seen a pay-day for nearly a year."

"And then there is another thing," continued Caleb Walton. "The
Spaniards have little mechanical ability, and before this war broke out
they had a great number of engineers and the like who were foreign
born--Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Germans principally. Now those men
won't stay on Spain's warships during this little muss,--at least the
Englishmen and Germans won't,--and a green hand at a marine engine can
do more damage in ten minutes than a ship-yard can repair in a month.
Take it, all in all, therefore, I think we have the best of it,"
concluded the old gunner.



CHAPTER VIII

THE MEN BEHIND THE GUNS


By the time Fortress Monroe was reached it was quite dark, so but little
could be seen outside of those sturdy and frowning walls behind which
were concealed the heavy guns intended to protect the entrance to
Chesapeake Bay.

The warships rode at anchor some distance beyond. To the squadron had
just been added the protected cruiser _Minneapolis_, and the _New
Orleans_ and _St. Paul_ were also expected, and all was a buzz of
excitement alongshore.

"They'll be off before long," said one old soldier. "I know because I
saw one of the captains saying good-by to his family. Such a parting
means a good deal."

"I understand a Spanish warship was sighted last night," put in another.
"We may have a fight right here unless Schley keeps his eyes open."

"Oh, he's got the _Scorpion_ out on scout duty--she can take care of any
sneak work," was the answer. He referred to the gunboat _Scorpion_ of
the auxiliary navy, which was doing duty just beyond the capes. The
_Scorpion_ was fast, and carried a strong searchlight, so it was likely
nothing could pass her without being detected and the alarm being given.
Alarms were numerous, but they were likewise all false, for no Spanish
ship of war came anywhere near our coast.

A boat was in waiting at the wharf, and Walter, Si, and the others were
ordered aboard without delay. The boat was manned by eight sturdy
jackies.

"Up oars!" came the command, and up went the eight blades straight into
the air; "Let fall!" and the oars fell into the water; "Give way!" and
the blades moved in a clock-like stroke, and they were off to the ships.
It was destined to be many a day before Walter should set foot on land
again.

"Halt! who goes there?" came suddenly from out of the darkness, and
Walter saw that they were lying beside what looked to be a bulging wall
of dark-colored steel.

"Aye! aye!" was the answer, and there followed a short talk. "Got ten of
them, sir," said the wardroom officer, in charge of the small boat. Then
a rope ladder was thrown down, and the newcomers clambered aboard the
warship that was to be their home for so long to come.

Walter gazed about him eagerly, but that look was hardly satisfactory,
for to the darkness was now added a heavy fog through which the ship's
lights shone but faintly. All had their baggage, and without ceremony
they were told to fall in, and were then marched below by order of the
officer of the deck.

"This looks like home to me," exclaimed Caleb Walton, as he gazed around
the berth deck. "I went over the _Brooklyn_ many a time when she was up
at the navy-yard, so I know her from stem to stern." He took Walter by
the arm. "Here is the baby I hope to manage," he whispered, and pointed
to one of the starboard monsters, whose long muzzle pointed frowningly
outward. "Isn't she a daisy?"

"I suppose she is," was the boy's reply. "But how in the world do you
manage such a mass of metal? Surely a man can't do it by hand."

"It might be done by hand, but nowaday everything is worked by
electricity and hydraulic pressure. You'll learn it all after you have
been on board awhile. At present just do what you are told and keep your
eyes open."

Supper had been served some time before, but as it was not intended to
let the newcomers go hungry, a table was set and they messed together.
The swinging table and the tableware all interested Walter, especially
when he was provided with his own personal cup, plate, spoon, knife, and
fork.

"As a gunner I'll mess with the other warrant officers," exclaimed Caleb
Walton, in reply to a question about messes from Walter. "You see, there
are a great number of tables. The commodore is entitled to dine alone,
so is the captain and the commander, while the other officers have what
they call the wardroom mess. Then there are the steerage mess, for
midshipmen, ensigns, and clerks; the master-at-arm's mess, for yeomen,
machinists, boiler-makers, and so on; and three or four other messes
besides, including that to which you will belong. We gunners dine with
the boatswain, sail-maker, and carpenter."

The meal was a plain one, of bread and butter, coffee, cold corned
beef, and apple sauce, but it was well cooked, and all the new men and
boys ate heartily. As soon as it was finished, Walton hurried off to
interview Captain Cook, if he could obtain that privilege.

"Well, where are we going to sleep? I don't see any beds," said one of
the boys, a timid lad named Paul Harbig. His query brought forth a roar.

"Your bed is rolled up and lashed away, Paul," answered Si, who had
rather taken to the little lad. "Do you see those gratings over yonder?"

"Yes."

"Well, all the hammocks for this deck are stowed away behind that. When
it comes time to go to bed, we'll get them out, fasten them up to the
hooks you see about you, and there you are. And let me tell you there is
nothing finer nor a good canvas hammock to sleep in. I'll take it before
I take a greasy, dirty bunk in a buggy fo'castle every time."

"But a fellow may fall out," suggested Paul.

"If you're afraid of that, get a rope's-end and tie yourself in,"
answered Si, philosophically. "But you won't tumble, unless we strike
some putty rough weather."

The order was now passed to bring along all baggage, and Walter and Si
picked up their satchels. Thinking to take out several things he needed,
the Yankee youth opened his bag and put his hand inside.

"By ginger!" came from him in an undertone, but loud enough for Walter
to hear.

"What's up, Si?"

"Thet ten-dollar gold piece is gone!"

"Are you sure? Perhaps it has slipped among some of the clothing."

"I'll soon see," was the quick response, and the Yankee youth dumped the
articles out in a heap. Sure enough, the golden eagle was gone.

"Somebody has robbed me," came in a groan. "Now who did it, do you
suppose?"

"I'm sure I don't know. It might have been done here or on the train, or
at the depot."

Si looked around him sharply. Not far away stood Jim Haskett, watching
him intently. As soon as the ex-mate of the _Sunflower_ saw that he was
noticed he turned away.

"I've got half a notion Haskett was the one to play me foul," he
whispered to Walter. "What do you think?"

"He wouldn't be much of a man to rob a messmate of ten dollars."

"Oh, you don't know Haskett. He's as close as he is brutal. Once we got
up a list to give Captain Pepperill a birthday present, but Haskett,
although he was first mate, only gave twenty-five cents,--no more than
Cooley, the cook, chipped in. In his eyes a ten-dollar gold piece is a
big lot of money."

"It wouldn't do you any good to accuse him if you wasn't pretty certain
he was guilty," returned Walter, cautiously. "You don't want to get into
trouble right after coming on board. If you raised a row, they might put
both you and Haskett in the brig."

"I'm going to ask him about it, anyway," answered the Yankee youth.
"See, he is looking at us, and it 'pears to me as if he was enjoying
himself to see me in trouble."

Leaving his satchel and scattered clothing as they were, Si advanced
upon Haskett and without ceremony caught the man's shoulder.

"Haskett, I want to ask you something," he said, in a low tone. "Do you
know anything about this, or don't you?"

"I don't know--" The ex-mate of the _Sunflower_ stopped short. "What are
you talking about, Doring?"

"I left my satchel on the train, as you know. A ten-dollar gold piece is
missing. I want to know----"

"What! do you accuse me of taking it?" demanded the man, wrathfully.

"I asked you if you knew anything about it."

"No, I don't. I've got my own affairs to look after. More than likely
the car porter took your money--if you really had that amount."

"Well, I'm going to find that gold piece sooner or later, as sure as my
name is Si Doring," exclaimed the Yankee youth, determinedly, and with a
shake of his head he rejoined Walter and Paul Harbig.

The officer who had previously taken them in charge now came forward and
assigned them to their various sleeping places. This matter was readily
arranged, for one of the main features of the cruiser _Brooklyn_ is her
commodious berthing quarters, there being two complete decks, running
from end to end of the ship, for this purpose, also an extra forecastle,
so that the vessel can accommodate a thousand men if required--a number
nearly double that of her usual crew.

"It's a big hotel, with one room on a floor," thought Walter, as he took
the hammock assigned to him. He was glad to find Si on one side of him
and Paul Harbig on the other. Si showed both boys how to take their
canvasses and sling them. This work was just completed, when Caleb
Walton came back with a broad smile on his face.

"It's all right," he whispered to Walter. "The captain treated me better
than I thought he would. He called up the chief gunner, and we had a
talk, and you are to take the place of a man named Silvers, who has gone
lame through having a cat-block fall on his foot. If you'll only mind
yourself, and study up as I tell you, you'll have the chance of your
life."

"Study! I'm ready to begin right off," answered Walter, earnestly. "I'm
just crazy to get at that gun you pointed out to me. Can't you show me
something to-night?"

Caleb Walton laughed outright. "Don't try to learn it all before you go
to bed, Walter," he said. "Of course, you know more than some
landlubbers who think that on warships of to-day they handle the guns
as they used to, when one man took the powder and ball from the
powder-monkeys, another rammed them home in the gun, and the gunner
sighted his piece and pulled the string. Those days are gone, and a head
gunner like myself has very little to do, even if the position is a
responsible one. Come, I'll get permission to go below, and show you
just how a big gun is served from start to finish. Folks talk about 'the
man behind the gun' when they really mean from eight to twelve men."

The two hurried off, and presently descended an iron staircase which
seemed to lead into the very bowels of the ship. At last they came to a
steel trap-door, barred and locked.

"Below this door is one of the magazines," explained Caleb. "It contains
the ammunition for the eight-inch guns in the turret above. The keys to
the magazine are in the captain's cabin, and can only be had on special
order and by certain persons. The magazines are kept locked continually,
excepting when in use or when being inspected. All of them are connected
with huge water tanks, so at the first sign of a fire they can be
flooded, thus lessening the danger of an explosion."

"Yes, I remember the Spaniards tried to prove that the _Maine_ blew up
from one of her magazines."

"Such a thing couldn't happen in the American navy, because the
discipline is too strict. Now, when a gun is being served, several men
in the magazine get out the shells for the shellmen, who load them on
the ammunition hoist over there, which is nothing more than a warship
dumbwaiter. The hoist takes the shells up to the guns, in this case in
the forward turret. Other hoists supply the rear turret and the
secondary battery and other guns, including the rapid-firing weapons in
the military tops."

"You mean those platforms around the upper ends of the two masts?"

"Exactly. The tops are the places for the sharpshooters and the
range-finders."

"The range-finders?"

"Exactly. You see, it is a difficult matter to get an exact range on an
enemy several miles off, and we have to try to get the range in various
ways. One of the simplest ways is to station two range-finders in the
tops, as far away from each other as possible. Each man gets a bead on
the enemy with his glasses, and then proceeds to get the angle between
the bead and an imaginary line drawn between his station and that taken
by the other fellow. The three points--that is, the two range-finders
and the enemy--form a triangle, and having one line and the two angles
to work on, the working out of the problem gives the distance the
gunners are hunting for."

"That makes pointing a gun nothing but a mathematical problem doesn't
it?"

"It makes it partly a mathematical problem, lad. But having the distance
isn't everything, for that will only give us the height at which a gun
should be elevated in order to make its charge cover that distance and
hit the mark, instead of flying over it or ploughing the water below it.
After getting the distance we have to calculate on how the enemy's
vessel is moving, if she is under steam, and then, most important, we
have to let the gun go off at just the right motion of our own craft. In
some navies they discharge the guns on the upward roll of the ship, and
in others on the downward roll. My private opinion on that point is, a
downward roll in clear weather, and an upward roll in a choppy sea, when
you don't know just what is coming next."

"I see. Firing a gun isn't so easy as one would imagine."

"Easy enough if you want to waste ammunition, as those Spaniards did at
Manila. Gun practice is expensive, and Spain hasn't any money to waste
in that direction. Come, we'll have to get up to sleeping quarters now,"
concluded the old gunner, as a drum beat was heard sounding throughout
the warship. "That's tattoo. It will soon be two bells, nine o'clock,
and then comes pipe down."

"All right, I'm willing enough to go to sleep," said Walter. "But just
one question more. How do you count the time by bells on a warship?"

"Just the same as on any ship, lad. The bell strikes at each half-hour,
starting at half-past twelve at night, which is one bell. This makes one
o'clock, two bells, half-past one, three bells, and so on, up to four
o'clock, which is eight bells, when you start again from the beginning.
By this means the day and night are divided into periods of time called
watches, as morning watch, middle watch, dog watch, and the like. You'll
get the lay of it soon," finished Walton, and then, having reached the
berth deck, the pair separated for the night.



CHAPTER IX

COMMODORE WINFIELD SCOTT SCHLEY


In a couple of days Walter began to feel at home on the flagship, and he
could no longer be termed a "greeny," strictly speaking, although there
were still a great number of things for him to learn. He was much
interested in the _Brooklyn_ as a whole as well as in detail, and was
proud to learn that this armored cruiser was the largest of the class in
our navy, having a displacement of 9215 tons, as against her sister
ship, the _New York_, which had a displacement of about a thousand tons
less.

"This ship is just four hundred feet and six inches long," said Caleb.
"She don't look so long as she rides the water, but as a city block is
ordinarily two hundred feet deep, so to speak, she would cover two
blocks of a side street, providing the street was sixty-five feet wide,
for her to rest in. That's pretty big, eh?"

"And how much water does she draw, Walton?"

"Draws twenty-four feet, which is the height of an ordinary two-story
house. Her three smokestacks are about a hundred feet high each, and
that gives her fires a first-class draught, sailing or standing still."

"I'm awfully glad I'm on her," smiled Walter. "Oh, I do hope we have a
fight with the Dons. I want to see the big guns go off. I know the main
battery, as you call it, has eight 8-inch guns. How many guns are there
besides?"

"There are twelve 5-inch rapid-fire guns, twelve 6-pounders, four
1-pounders, four Colts, and two field guns. Besides, we carry four
torpedo tubes."

"We're a regular floating arsenal!" exclaimed Walter. "It must make
things shake when they all get to firing."

"You'll think you've struck the infernal regions, lad, if we ever do get
them all a-going. Yes, the _Brooklyn_ is nothing but a floating fort.
She's an unusual type, because she has an extra high forecastle deck.
Some folks don't think that makes her a beauty, but they must remember
that warships aren't built altogether for looks, although to my mind
she's as handsome as any of 'em. The high bow enables us to carry our
forward guns eight feet higher than those on the _New York_, and it will
come in mighty handy if we ever want to run full steam after an enemy in
a heavy sea which would drown out a ship with a low freeboard."

"And why is she called an armored cruiser?"

"Because she is protected by steel plating three inches thick on her
sides and on her deck, and under this is an additional protection of
coal and of cocoa-fibre, for keeping out water. It would surprise you to
see how the sides and deck, as well as the bottom, are built, were they
taken apart for examination."

Discipline Walter found very strict, and once he had donned his uniform
he was kept employed from sunrise to sunset, his duties being largely
similar to those performed by his brother Larry on the _Olympia_. Early
in the morning he was aroused by the blare of a bugle, or the roll of a
drum, and given but a few minutes in which to dress and roll up his
hammock and put it away. Then came the work of washing down the deck,
followed by breakfast, and later all hands were called to quarters, to
attend some drill, sometimes at the guns, sometimes at the hose pipes
scattered about in case of fire, and occasionally with small-arms and
with cutlasses. Each afternoon there was a "run around," lasting from
ten minutes to half an hour. In this the men fell in singly or in pairs,
and ran around and around the deck, at first slowly until "second wind"
was gained, and then faster and faster. This is the one chance a jackie
gets of stretching his legs while on board of his ship, and how he does
enjoy it!

Taking them as a whole, Walter found the ship's company a jolly crowd,
with but few men of the Jim Haskett stamp among them. The men connected
with the guns were a particularly brotherly set, and the youth soon felt
thoroughly at home among them. He was always willing to do anything
asked of him, and in return the best gunners on the vessel did not
hesitate to give him "points" whenever he asked for them. One jocularly
called him The Questioner, but Walter did not mind, and went on picking
up all the information possible.

On his second morning on board Walter was talking to Si when a low roll
of drums reached their ears. "Hark!" cried the Yankee boy. "Two ruffles.
Do you know what that means? The commodore is either leaving or coming
on board. They always give a high officer that salute, or a similar
one."

"Let us see him if we can," exclaimed Walter, who had not yet caught
sight of the commander of the squadron. They crowded to an open port and
were just in time to see Commodore Schley descend by the swinging ladder
to the gig. Soon the little craft shot out of sight through the fog, for
the day was far from clear.

"He looks like a fighter," remarked Walter. "He has quite a record,
hasn't he?"

"Yes, indeed, I was reading about him only last week. He was in the
Civil War, operating along the Mississippi, and after that he saw a lot
of fighting besides."

"I know all about our commodore," said a gunner standing near. "My
father fought with him on the Mississippi, and also when Port Hudson, in
Louisiana, was taken. He is named after General Winfield
Scott,--Winfield Scott Schley,--for his father and the general were warm
friends."

"It's a good name for a fighter; for certainly nobody fought better than
did General Scott, through the war with Mexico," was Walter's comment.

"Schley entered the Naval Academy in 1856 and remained until 1861, when
the war broke out," continued the gunner. "They say he graduated at the
head of his class and was so well liked that he was given sea-duty on
the frigate _Potomac_, and in 1862 he was made a master, and ordered on
the _Winona_, of the Gulf Squadron.

"After the Civil War was over, he was sent to the Pacific, and there he
aided in the suppression of an outbreak among the Chinese coolies in the
Chin Chi Islands. The United States consulate at this place was in
danger of being mobbed, but Schley took a hundred marines ashore, and
knocked the whole uprising in the head in short order."

"No wonder he's a commodore," said Walter; and Si nodded approvingly.

"It wasn't long before the young officer was made a
lieutenant-commander, and coming back from the Pacific, he was placed in
charge of a department at the Naval Academy. He remained ashore for
three years, then went to the coast of Africa, on the _Benicia_, where
he took part in a number of contests, and helped clear the Congo River
of pirates, and overthrew the forces defending the Salu River in Corea,
another bit of work for which he was warmly praised."

"Oh, he's a corker," cried Si, enthusiastically.

"I'm not done yet," went on the gunner, who loved to talk about the
exploits of his old commander. "Of course you have heard how the Greely
Expedition to the North Pole got lost and couldn't get back home. Well,
it was Schley who went after them, and found Greely and six of his
companions at Cape Sabine and brought them safely back. For this
Congress voted him a medal, and President Arthur raised him to the full
rank of captain and made him Chief of the Bureau of Equipment, a very
important office in the Naval Department. But Schley couldn't stand it
on land, he must have the rolling ocean under him, and so he gave up his
berth ashore and took command of the _Baltimore_."

"I remember about that," put in Walter. "I was reading about John
Ericsson, the inventor of the monitor. When Ericsson died, the body was
sent to Sweden, his fatherland, on the _Baltimore_ under Schley."

"Exactly, and the King of Sweden gave Schley a medal to commemorate the
event, at a grand gathering at Stockholm. From Sweden Schley took the
_Baltimore_ to Southern waters, and while off the coast of Chili he
smoothed out what threatened to become a serious difficulty between that
country and ours on account of some of Uncle Sam's jackies being stoned
on the streets of Valparaiso. For this the Navy Department was extremely
grateful, and he went up several points on the register, so that it
didn't take him long to become a commodore."

"He's certainly a man worth sailing under," said Walter. "I suppose he
is married?"

"Yes, and has several children--but that don't interest me," concluded
the gunner, who was an old bachelor, with a peculiar dislike for the
gentler sex.

Since the time that Si had spoken to Haskett about the missing money,
the seaman had steered clear of both the Yankee lad and Walter. Perhaps
he was afraid that Si would accuse him openly of the theft of the gold
piece, or perhaps he was afraid of Caleb Walton, who was continually
around and ready to champion his "boys," as he had dubbed both. But
there was one boy who could not get away from him, and that was Paul
Harbig.

"You're just the right sort to take to," said Haskett, as he caught Paul
by the arm one morning, while both were coming from mess. "You're too
much of a real little man to have anything to do with that Russell boy
or Si Doring."

"Oh, I like them both very much!" answered Paul, and attempted to pass
on. With a frown Haskett caught him by the arm and swung him back.

"See here, I want to talk to you," he cried uglily. "Has Si Doring been
telling you any yarns about me?"

[Illustration: "SEE HERE, I WANT TO TALK TO YOU."]

"You let go of me," was Paul's only answer. "I don't want anything to do
with you."

"Answer my question."

"I haven't got to." And now Paul did his best to get away. He had just
twisted himself loose when Jim Haskett struck him a cruel blow on the
head.

"You--you brute!" gasped the boy, as the tears came. He was about to try
retreating again, when Haskett caught him once more.

"Now answer me, or I'll thrash the life out of you," he hissed into
Paul's ear. "And mind you tell the truth."

"He said that he had a--a--" the boy broke off short. "I won't tell you,
there! Now let go!" And he began to squirm.

"I know what he said," blustered Haskett. "Said he had had a ten-dollar
gold piece in his valise, didn't he?"

"Ye-es."

"And he accused me of taking it, eh?"

"He didn't say so outright. He said you had been where you could get at
the bag."

"It amounts to the same thing. As a matter of fact I couldn't get at the
bag any more than could you, or Russell, or Walton, or any of the
others."

"I suppose that is so. Now let me go."

"I will in a minute, but I want to tell you something, for it's not nice
to have folks taking you to be a thief," went on Haskett, tactfully.

"I haven't said anything about the affair."

"Perhaps not, Paul, but Doring talks, and I reckon so do Russell and
Walton. During the past couple of days I've found more than one fellow
aboard the _Brooklyn_ looking at me queer-like, and I can put two and
two together as quick as the next man. If I allow this to go on, there
won't be a soul speak to me after a while."

"I shan't say a word--I'll promise you."

"It's Russell who will talk the most, I reckon," went on Haskett, with
apparent bitterness. "Russell, the very fellow who ought not to say a
word."

"I'll caution him, if you want me to," went on Paul, who was
tender-hearted and very willing to help anybody out of trouble.

"Caution Russell! Not for the world. See here, I'll tell you something,
and you can tell Doring or not, just as you please. To the best of my
knowledge Russell is the thief."

"Walter!" ejaculated Paul. "Oh, no, you must be mistaken. Why, why--how
could he get at the satchel? He was with Doring."

"I don't know about that. But I'm almost positive Russell is guilty."

"Have you any proof? You shouldn't say such a thing unless you have,"
retorted Paul, anxious to stick up for Walter, who had served him
several good turns since they had become acquainted.

"I've got more proof against Russell than Doring has against me,"
answered Jim Haskett, boldly. "And what is more, I can prove what I've
got to say."

"But what have you to say?" came in a cold, heavy voice behind Haskett,
and turning swiftly the former mate of the _Sunflower_ found himself
confronted by Caleb Walton. The old gunner's face looked stern and
angry.

"Why--er--where did you come from?" stammered the seaman.

"I asked you what you have to say against Walter Russell," demanded
Caleb. "Come, out with it, or by the jumping beeswax, I'll wipe up this
deck with you!" And he doubled up his fists.

"I'm not afraid, if you want to fight, Walton," replied Haskett,
recovering somewhat from his fright. "What I said about Russell, I'll
stick to."

"But what have you got to say? out with it," was the old gunner's
demand.

"I've got this much to say. I think Russell took Doring's gold piece,
and I am not the only one that does either. If you think I'm wrong, ask
Cal Blinker, the shellman. He heard almost as much as I did."

"Heard what?"

"Heard Russell talk in his sleep. It was last night. I got up to get a
drink of water and slipped and roused up Blinker. Then, when I went to
the water tub, I passed Russell's hammock. He was dreaming and talking
about the gold piece and saying that Doring would never learn that he
had it, and a lot more about hiding it under the gun. He went on about
the money and about hiding it for fully ten minutes. If you don't
believe me, go to Blinker about it."



CHAPTER X

WALTER SHOWS HIS PLUCK


"And is that all you have to say?" asked Caleb Walton, after a few
seconds of silence, during which he gazed so sharply at Jim Haskett that
the fellow felt compelled to drop his eyes. "Because a fellow dreams
about a gold piece, must you accuse him of stealing?"

"That's all right, too," responded Haskett, doggedly. "I know he
wouldn't dream that way unless there was something in the wind. I'm
satisfied he took the money."

"And I am satisfied that he is innocent," cried Caleb. "That boy would
never steal a cent from anybody."

"Why, he was after a thief himself before he left Boston," put in Paul,
who had now sought protection behind the old gunner.

"Well, suit yourselves," answered Haskett, with a shrug of his somewhat
rounded shoulders. "But let me tell you that I won't allow Russell,
Doring, or anybody else to speak of me as having taken the money--mind
that!" And he shook his fist savagely.

"Here comes Walter now," announced Paul. "Walter, come here!" he called
out, before Caleb could stop him.

At once Walter came up, an inquiring look upon his manly face, which was
now becoming sunburnt through exposure on deck. "What do you want,
Paul?" he asked.

"It's only some of Haskett's nonsense," answered Caleb, ere the boy
could speak. "Tell us, lad, do you remember dreaming anything about Si's
gold piece?"

For the instant Walter looked puzzled, then his face brightened. "I do,"
he answered. "What of it?"

"Tell us what you dreamed first."

"Why--I--I can't remember exactly, excepting that I was having a good
lot of worry about it," he stammered. "You know how dreams come and go."

"To be sure, Walter."

"You dreamt about the money you hid, didn't you?" said Haskett,
sneeringly.

"The money I hid? I hid no money."

"Oh no, of course not!"

"See here, Haskett, what do you mean?" And Walter strode over to the
seaman, his face flushing deeply. "Do you mean to insinuate that I took
Si's gold piece and hid it away?"

"He just does," burst out Paul. "And he says you talked in your sleep
about it, too."

"It is false--at least, it is false that I took the money. I might have
dreamed about it and talked in my sleep. We are not accountable for what
we do when we are sleeping."

"Perhaps you took the gold piece when you were asleep," said Haskett,
squinting suggestively at those surrounding him.

"The gold piece was taken while Si and I were left behind in Washington.
It was taken by somebody on the train."

"That's your story--and you've been trying to lay the thing at my door.
But I shan't stand it--not me," stormed Haskett. "I heard what you said
in your sleep, and so did Cal Blinker. If anybody is guilty, it is you!"
And he pointed his long, bony finger full in Walter's face.

By this time a crowd of a dozen or more had gathered round, realizing
that a quarrel of some sort was in progress. "It's about a gold piece,"
said one. "Haskett says Russell took it. Say, fellows, we don't want
anything to do with a thief."

"Not much we don't!" answered a messmate. "Heave him overboard if he is
guilty."

"This matter ought to be reported to the officer of the deck," put in a
third. "If there is a thief on board, no man's ditty-box will be safe."

At Haskett's concluding remark Walter's face grew as red as a beet, then
deadly pale. For a moment he stood stock still, breathing heavily.
Suddenly he leaped forward with clenched fist and struck Haskett a
stunning blow on the chin which sent the seaman staggering up against a
gun-carriage.

"That, for talking to me in this fashion!" he exclaimed.

"Oh!" grunted the ex-mate of the _Sunflower_, as he caught at the gun
just in time to prevent himself from falling to the deck. "You--you
young rascal, what do you mean by hitting me?"

"A fight! a fight!" cried several, and soon a crowd of about fifty
jackies surrounded the pair.

"Wasn't that a pretty blow though! And he's only a boy, too!" came from
a gunner's mate.

"I'll fix you for this!" went on Haskett, putting one hand to his chin,
where a lump was rising rapidly. "I never before allowed anybody to hit
me--leastwise a boy." And he rushed at Walter with a fierceness which
boded the youth no good.

"Don't you hit him, Haskett," put in Caleb, catching the seaman by the
arm. "If you do, you'll have to settle this affair with me."

"He hit me."

"And you as much as said he was a thief."

"And so he is."

"I am not, and I've a good mind to hit you again for saying so," burst
out Walter, and before anybody around could separate them he and Haskett
had closed in. Several ineffective blows were struck on each side, when
they were pulled apart.

"This won't do, Walter," whispered Caleb. "If you're not careful, you'll
spend a week in the brig."

"But--but it's awful to have him say I'm a--a--"

"I know, I know. But keep cool, lad; it's best, take my word for it.
You've been on board only a few days, but you have made lots of
friends, while I reckon most of the men have already sized up Haskett
for the meanest chap on board."

"He has no right to talk about me."

"He says you and Si Doring talked about him."

Haskett now pushed his way forward again. "I don't want trouble with the
officers, so we'll let this matter drop for the present," he blustered.
"But I'll remember you, and some day you'll be mighty sorry we had this
little mix-up." And muttering some more that nobody could understand he
strode off, the majority of the crowd gazing after him curiously.

"Ran away from a boy!" said one old tar. "He must be a regular coward,
and no mistake!"

Many wanted Walter to relate his version of what had brought the
encounter about, but Caleb hurried the lad away to a corner, where he
took a wash up and brushed off his clothing.

"I want to interview that Cal Blinker," said the youth. "Where can I
find him?"

"Down around the forward ammunition hoist," answered Paul, and Walter
hurried off, accompanied by his friends.

"Yes, I did hear you say something about a gold piece," the shellman
admitted. "You didn't talk very plainly and I understood very little.
Haskett said he understood every word. Well, maybe he did. I've been in
the navy so long that the noise of the big guns has affected my
hearing."

"Did I say I stole the piece?" insisted Walter.

"I don't know as you did. All I could make out was 'ten dollars in gold'
and 'the gun--just the place.'"

This was all Cal Blinker had to say. He was rather old and it was plain
to see that he wanted nothing to do with the controversy, one side or
the other.

Si Doring had been attending a special boat drill, and it was not until
an hour had passed that he came below and heard what had occurred.
Without hesitation he slapped Walter on the shoulder.

"Don't you take this to heart," he said. "No matter what that mean old
rascal of a Haskett says, he'll never make me believe that you are
anything but perfectly straight. I believe yet that he took the gold
piece and that some day I'll be able to prove it." And there the
incident, for the time being, dropped.

The manner in which Walter had "sailed into Haskett," as Caleb
expressed it, made the youth many friends among the crew, for if there
is one thing a jack tar loves it is to see a messmate stand up for
himself. "You're all right, you are," said more than one, and caught
Walter's hand in a grip calculated to break the bones. Several, who had
thought to play a few tricks on the "greeny," reconsidered their ideas
on the subject and concluded that it was best not to run any chances
with such a spirited lad.

For some time Walter was afraid that the executive officer would hear of
the encounter and bring him to book for it; but if the "mix-up" was
reported, nothing came of it. As a matter of fact, Uncle Sam's officers
just then had affairs of more importance requiring their attention.

For every hour on board of the warships composing the Flying Squadron
increased the anxiety concerning the Spanish ships which it was felt
were preparing to make a quick dash for Cuba or for our own coast. How
soon would these warships sail, and where would they make their presence
felt? those were the all-important questions commodore and captains
asked of each other. "They'll most likely try to break the blockade at
Havana," said one. "No, they'll bombard one of our down-east seacoast
cities," said another. "I think they'll rush through the Suez Canal to
fight Dewey," was the conclusion reached by a third. Under-officers and
men speculated quite as much as did their superiors, arriving at equally
opposite conclusions. "They have our whole seacoast and Cuba to pick
from," Commodore Schley said. "They will go where they can do the most
good--to their way of thinking. I think they'll go to Cuba or Porto
Rico." How correct the commander was history has shown.

Although the _Scorpion_ was patrolling the ocean just outside of the
capes, a strict watch was kept on every one of the warships, night and
day. Rumors were numerous, and one was to the effect that the Spaniards
had a submarine craft in their service and that this boat would soon
arrive along our eastern seacoast, to destroy the shipping from Maine to
the Gulf of Mexico. In these days, when we know the truth, we can afford
to laugh at such a report, but to the jackies on the warships, who
remembered only too well the fate of the _Maine_, it was no laughing
matter. Even when off duty, many would go on the spar deck and lie flat,
gazing into the dark waters for the best part of a night, hoping to
catch a glimpse of the unknown terror, should it come to that vicinity.

Sunday, with its deeply impressive church service, came and went, and
still the squadron lay at anchor. In the meantime it was rumored that
Sampson would soon take his most powerful vessels from the blockade and
bombard Havana. The newspapers reported this, but if such was the plan
of the Navy Department, it was altered at the last moment.

On May 12 came news of a fierce fight in the harbor of Cardenas, a
seaport a hundred and twenty miles east of Havana. In an attempt to
effect a landing, the torpedo boat _Winslow_ had her boiler blown to
pieces and several men were killed and injured, among them Ensign Worth
Bagley, who was thus the first American officer to fall in the war. Two
other warships, the _Wilmington_ and the _Hudson_, also took part in the
contest, but were repulsed after a gallant onslaught lasting over an
hour.

"This is war," said Caleb, as he read the news from the paper that one
of the gunners had just brought on board. "Those fellows on the
_Winslow_ caught it hot. Think of running right into that harbor and
having a shell drop and smash your boiler and send the live steam all
over you. I tell you Ensign Bagley was a plucky one, all honor to his
memory."

The next day brought even more important news. Dewey had gained a
foothold in the Philippines, the main city of Cuba was in a state of
blockade, and now Rear-Admiral Sampson had shifted the scene of action
to Porto Rico, by shelling the forts of San Juan, the principal city of
Spain's only other possession in the West Indies.

"We're getting there!" cried Caleb, excitedly. "We'll soon give the Dons
all they want."

"If Sampson succeeds in making the San Juan forts surrender, the whole
city will be at our mercy," said Walter. "Hurrah for the American navy,
and every ship and man in it."

"We are bound to get them on the run," put in Si. "Here is another
report about a fight at Cienfuegos. Where is that?"

"On the southern coast of Cuba," answered Walter, who had always had a
good head for geography, and who, since the war had started, had studied
the map of Cuba closely. "Havana, San Juan, and Manila! Say, but this
is becoming a war of magnificent distances."

"It's a naval war, that's what it is," said Caleb. "If we--hullo! Did
any of you see this telegram?" He pointed to his newspaper. "The Spanish
Squadron under Admiral Cervera has slipped away from Cape Verde Islands
and is undoubtedly bound westward."

"And here is another report that some strange vessels, supposed to be
warships, have been sighted off Martinique, Windward Island," added
Walter, quickly. "I'll wager we leave soon!"

"But where to--the Windward Islands?" queried Si.

"That's for Commodore Schley to decide. Rest assured he'll find this
Admiral Cervera sooner or later, just as Dewey found old Admiral
Montojo."

The news was spreading, and officers and men gathered in knots to
discuss the situation. As for Commodore Schley and Captain Cook, they
smiled knowingly, but said nothing. Everybody in the Flying Squadron
remembered what Dewey and his men had accomplished, and all were on
their mettle accordingly.



CHAPTER XI

THE SAILING OF THE FLYING SQUADRON


"We are off at last!"

It was Walter who broke the news, as he came tumbling down the stairs to
the berth deck, where Si and Caleb were engaged in a friendly game of
checkers on the top of a ditty-box.

"Off!" cried the old gunner, and leaped up, scattering the men on the
checkerboard in all directions. "Who told you?"

"The signal has just been hoisted on the military mast. I couldn't read
it, but Sandram could and he translated it for me."

Caleb waited to hear no more, but rushed on deck, with Walter and the
others following. The news was true, the signal flew the words, "Weigh
anchor and follow the flagship," and the heavy black smoke was pouring
in dense volumes from every warship's funnels.

"I wonder where we are bound?" questioned Walter, whose heart was
thumping within him at the thought war might soon become a stern reality
to him. "Of course we are going after Admiral Cervera's ships."

"I reckon that's right, but there's no telling," responded Caleb. "The
officers don't consult us when they want to move, you know." And he said
this so dryly that both Walter and Si had to laugh.

The warships at hand were four in number,--the _Brooklyn_, which I have
already described, and the _Massachusetts_, _Texas_, and _Scorpion_.
With them was the collier _Sterling_, loaded to the very rail with huge
bags of coal, for the exclusive use of the Flying Squadron.

The _Massachusetts_ was a battleship of the first-class, a sister ship
to the _Indiana_. She had a displacement of over ten thousand tons, and
a speed of sixteen knots per hour. Her massive armor was eighteen inches
thick--enough to withstand some of the heaviest shots ever fired from
any gun. Her armament consisted of a main battery of four 13-inch and
eight 8-inch guns and four 6-inch slow-fire guns. The secondary battery
comprised twenty 6-pounders, four 1-pounders, four Gatlings, and two
field-guns. Besides this she carried three torpedo tubes and an immense
quantity of small-arms. Captain Francis J. Higginson was in charge, with
Lieutenant-Commander Seaton Schroeder.

The _Texas_ was a battleship of the second class, her displacement being
only 6315 tons. She had the honor to be the first vessel built when our
navy began its reconstruction, in 1886. Her armor was just one foot
thick, and she could speed along at the rate of nearly eighteen knots an
hour. Two 12-inch and six 6-inch slow-fire guns made up her main
battery, while her secondary battery counted up six 1-pounders, four
Hotchkiss and two Gatling guns. There were two torpedo tubes. The
_Texas_ was under the command of Captain John W. Philip and
Lieutenant-Commander Giles B. Harber.

The _Scorpion_ was a despatch boat of the gunboat pattern, with a
displacement of six hundred tons, and a rapid-firing battery of four
5-inch and six 6-pounders. She was a swift craft, and had done duty as a
scout for a long time.

The signal to weigh anchor was hoisted on the flagship at four o'clock
in the afternoon, and inside of half an hour the Flying Squadron and the
collier were standing down Hampton Roads toward the capes, each
ploughing the waters at a twelve to fifteen knot rate. The wharves
alongshore were lined with people, who waved their hats and their
handkerchiefs, and shouted out their best wishes for the departing ones.

"Remember the _Maine_, boys, and send us a good account of yourselves!"
shouted one old Southern veteran, as he shook a partly empty coat sleeve
at them. "I wish I was younger; I'd go along and fight as well for the
old stars and stripes as I once did for the stars and bars."

"Now you're talking," responded a Union veteran. "That other quarrel was
our own, eh, neighbor? Let foreign nations keep their hands off Uncle
Sam's family and the children seeking his protection. Three cheers for
Old Glory and Free Cuba!" And the cheers were given with a will, while
Fortress Monroe thundered out a parting salute.

A number of other vessels, including the protected cruisers
_Minneapolis_ and _New Orleans_ and the auxiliary cruiser _St. Paul_ had
been left behind, to join their sister ships later on. The _New Orleans_
was a warship but recently purchased from the Brazilian government, and
formerly known as the _Amazonas_. The _St. Paul_ had formerly been a
trans-Atlantic steamer, and was commanded by Captain Charles E. Sigsbee,
who had so gallantly stuck to his post until the last moment when the
_Maine_ was destroyed.

Each of the warships had a harbor pilot on board and proceeded under a
full head of steam for the passage between the capes, which were passed
a little after seven o'clock in the evening. Leaving Cape Henry well to
starboard, the pilots were dropped, and the warships, taking the middle
course, as it is termed, disappeared from the gaze of those who had
watched their departure so eagerly.

"We're out for a fight now, sure enough," said Caleb, as he and Walter
went below, each to the mess to which he had been assigned. "Orders are
to prepare for action, so I've just been told."

"I noticed that lights were being extinguished," answered the youth. "Do
you suppose they are afraid that the Spanish warships are coming up this
way?"

"No telling, lad. It's a game of hide and seek, until one fellow or the
other sneaks up and thumps his opponent in the neck. I only hope we're
in it to do the first thumping."

Mess was scarcely over when there came a call to quarters. Ports were
closed with massive steel covers, the battle hatches were put down, and
the big guns were carefully loaded. Watches had, of course, already been
established, and now the men were ordered to take turns at standing by
the guns.

"Which way are we pointing, eastward or down the coast?" questioned
Walter of Si, who had come up during his off hours to take a look at the
cloudy sky from which only a few stars were peeping.

"We are moving almost directly southward," was the slow reply of the
Yankee youth, after a long look overhead.

"And where will that bring us to, Si?"

"It will take us to Cape Hatteras first, and if we keep on long enough
it will bring us to the neighborhood of San Salvador Island. But I
reckon we'll change our course after Hatteras is passed."

"Isn't Hatteras a bad point to pass?"

"Is it? You just ought to try it in dirty weather. Many a craft has left
her hulk off that cape. But such a craft as the _Brooklyn_, with her
high bow, ought to weather almost anything. To my mind, the worst thing
we can run into is a fog-bank, and that's just what we are likely to do
in this vicinity."

The regular lights of the warship had been extinguished, but behind its
hood the great searchlight glowed and spluttered, ready to be turned to
one point or another at a second's notice. All was quiet on board, save
for the rumble and quiver of the powerful engines which were driving
this floating fort on her way through the rolling ocean. While daylight
lasted the vessels kept more or less apart, but with the coming of night
they closed in, and the fretting and puffing little _Scorpion_ darted
ahead on picket guard.

Walter's duty at his gun came to an end at midnight, and none too soon
for the lad, whose head had suddenly begun to spin around like a top. "I
guess I'm getting seasick," he murmured to Si; and the Yankee lad at
once led him away to a secluded corner, where he might have matters all
his own way, and where none might look on and enjoy his misery. Once
Haskett started to pass some uncomplimentary remarks about Walter, but a
single stern look from Caleb silenced the seaman, who tumbled into his
hammock without another word. For several days Jim Haskett had kept his
distance, but he was only biding his time to "even up," as he termed it.
"I'll make young Russell feel mighty sore before I'm done with him," was
what he promised himself.

Walter was expected to go on duty again at four o'clock, but he was in
no condition for service, and sent Caleb word to that effect. Paul took
the message and soon returned with a reply.

"You're to take it easy until you're all right," said Paul. "Walton will
fix it up so there will be no trouble."

"He's the best friend a fellow ever fell in with," sighed Walter. "If I
hadn't met him I don't know what I should have done."

"Oh, you would have taken care of yourself," answered Paul, lightly. He
had not yet forgotten the attack Haskett had sustained at Walter's
hands.

Daybreak found the squadron running into the first of a series of
fog-banks. At once the speed of each warship was reduced, and presently
it became necessary to use the fog-horns and ship-bells. In the meantime
all hands were put through several drills, "to get them into fighting
trim," as the officer of the deck explained. The drills lasted until
dinner time, and in some way they made Walter feel much better. As a
matter of fact, his spell of seasickness was of short duration, and once
gone, the malady never returned.

"I'm a fine specimen of a jackie, am I not?" he said to Caleb, with a
faint smile, on first presenting himself. "Why, a Spaniard could knock
me over with a feather."

"Don't you go for to find fault with yourself," was the old gunner's
reply. "I've known men who have been on the ocean for years to get sick
the first day out. It's something they can't overcome, try their best.
Why, I saw several officers of the marines as sick as so many dogs."

Mess over, Walter went on deck for a breath of fresh air. They had just
left a fog-bank and were standing out boldly into the ocean. The youth
sauntered slowly forward as far as the rules permitted.

"Sail O!" came suddenly from the military mast.

"Where away?" demanded the officer on the bridge.

"Dead ahead, sir."

"Is she flying any flag?"

"I think not, sir."

"What does she look like?"

"I can't make out very well, for she is running into the fog. I don't
know but that she looks a bit like a warship," continued the lookout,
after some hesitation.

Without delay Commodore Schley and Captain Cook were notified. A brief
consultation took place, and it was decided to pursue the unknown craft
and find out what she was and where she was going.



CHAPTER XII

AN ADVENTURE OFF CHARLESTON


The news that a strange vessel was in sight soon travelled throughout
the ship, and all who could do so, crowded to the spar deck, while the
officers stationed themselves on the forecastle, bridge and other points
of vantage.

There was no necessity to give the order, "Clear ship for action!" for
the _Brooklyn_ was already cleared. Moreover, all the big guns contained
their charges of eight-inch and other shells. The six-pounders and the
Colts were now "provided," as it is termed, and then there was nothing
to do but to lie by the guns and await further orders.

Immediately upon notification that a strange sail was in sight, the
flagship had run up a signal to the _Scorpion_, "Follow the unknown ship
to the southward," and away darted the little gunboat at a rate of speed
which caused the mighty waves of the Atlantic to wash her decks from
end to end. Presently the sea proved almost too heavy for her and she
had to reduce her speed, and the _Brooklyn_ went ahead, her high
freeboard sending the water to port and starboard with scarcely an
effort. Once, however, she did get caught below an unusually high crest
and all on the forward deck received a liberal drenching.

"Fire a shot across her bow!" was the order given, when the strange
craft again emerged from a fog-bank, and boom! one of the smaller guns
belched forth. The echoes of the shot had scarcely died away when the
unknown ship was seen to hoist the British flag.

"Only a Britisher!" sighed Caleb, when the news came down to him. "And I
thought we were going to have the profit of a nice Spanish prize."

Not caring to go entirely by the flag displayed, since the unknown ship
had acted so strangely, the _Scorpion_ was again sent forward to make an
investigation. In quarter of an hour she came up within hailing
distance.

"What ship is that?" was bawled out through a megaphone.

"British steamer _Elsie_. What gunboat is that?"

"The _Scorpion_, of the United States navy. Where are you bound and what
have you on board?"

"Bound for Norfolk, Virginia, with a cargo of phosphate rock."

"Why didn't you show your flag before?"

"Well, to tell the truth we were afraid we had run into some Spanish
warships, and that England might be mixed up in this muss, in which case
we didn't want to become a Spanish prize. How is it? are we in it yet?"

"No, Uncle Sam is running this war without outside help," was the
concluding remark, and then the two vessels separated; and the Flying
Squadron proceeded on its way.

Saturday found the course of the _Brooklyn_ changed to southwest by
south. "We are still hugging the coast," explained Si. "I shouldn't
wonder if we are to make a stop somewhere, say at Charleston or
Savannah."

"Perhaps the commodore has word that the Spanish ships are sailing for
our south-east coast," suggested Walter. "My! what a nasty day it is
going to be." He referred to the mist, which was so heavy that it felt
almost like rain. For May, the weather was raw and cold, and all hands
were glad to stay below decks as much as possible.

On this day another long exercise at the gun was had, and Walter learned
more thoroughly than ever how the charge was raised from the ammunition
hoists to the gun, pushed into place by the mechanical rammer, and how
the gun was moved up, down, or sideways by merely touching this button
or that wheel or lever. "It's wonderful!" he observed. "I suppose it
would be next to impossible to move such a big gun by hand."

"Oh, it can be done," answered Caleb. "In the old navy they used to do
it by hand, and each gun had ten to sixteen men to man it. In those days
they had no device to lessen the shock of the recoil as we have now.
Instead of having a water cushion for the gun to strike on, they used a
heavy rope in the back, and sometimes the rope broke, and the gun did
more damage flying backward than the charge did flying forward."

"They didn't have any breech-loaders in those days, did they?"

"They had some in the Civil War, but not many before that. Everything in
the way of powder and ball had to be put into the muzzle, and was rammed
home by hand. The first breech-loading guns were clumsy affairs, and not
a few accidents were had by guns going off before the breeches were
properly locked."

"And what about sighting the pieces?"

"Oh, they have had dozens of devices for getting a correct aim, some
pretty good and some decidedly bad. In the old navy the guns didn't
carry near so far as they do now, and your old-time gunner was just what
his name calls for, for he sighted the piece and fired it himself. But
the old times are gone, and I expect one of these days all the work
still left will be done by machinery, and a dozen men sitting up in the
conning tower will control the warship from stem to stern."

Walter laughed at this. "I reckon we're some time off from that yet,
Walton. But it is wonderful how much the commander can control by using
his bells, annunciators, speaking-tubes, and electrical indicators. I
guess that is a great improvement on the old way of yelling orders
through a speaking-trumpet and having a dozen middies rushing around
telling this man and that what to do."

"No doubt of it, lad. But when it's all done and said, you must remember
one thing--we have still to prove the worth of our floating forts in war
times. Dewey did well at Manila, but it may be that the Spanish warships
out there weren't in the best condition. Now this Admiral Cervera, whom
we are after, has ships that are thoroughly up to date, and when his
outfit meets ours, then--well, we'll see what we will see," concluded
the old gunner.

That afternoon Walter took his first lesson in making knots. He had had
some idea concerning a variety of knots which had been taught to him by
Larry, when he and his younger brother were sailing about Lake Erie, but
those which were now exhibited were truly bewildering.

"The single bend and figure of 8 are easy enough," he sighed. "But when
you come to that sheep-shank and bowline upon the bight, as you term
them, it grows confusing."

"This is only the beginning," answered Caleb. "After you know the knots,
you'll want to learn the hitches--half-hitch, rolling-hitch, and so
on,--and after that you'll want to take up the splices, and then the
different kinds of tackle,--long-tackle, single-whip, and all that. I
reckon those will keep your mind busy for a week or two. To be sure,
those things belong more to a seaman than a gun-hand, but it's good to
know how to do, in case you are called upon at some time."

The night came on with a storm in the air. As before, all the lights
were extinguished, and the different watches took their turns at the
guns. Walter had just turned in when a shout rang out. "Another vessel
in sight!" As rapidly as possible the lad leaped up.

"Is it a Spanish warship?" he asked.

"Don't know," answered Caleb, laconically, but leaped to the gun, with
Walter and the others following.

But it was only another scare, for the vessel in sight proved to be a
merchantman bound for a northern port. The big searchlight of the
_Brooklyn_ was turned upon her, and instantly every light on the
merchantman went out and the ship sneaked away with all sails set. No
effort was made to pursue her.

"The captain of that craft will report falling in with a big Spanish
fleet; see if he don't," said Caleb; and the old gunner was right, as a
newspaper of a few days later proved.

By noon on Sunday Charleston Harbor was sighted, and a few hours later
the squadron came to anchor near Charleston Bar, nine miles from the
city.

"The _Sterling_ isn't in sight," said Walter, as he came on deck and
took a look behind. "I wonder if the heavy sea was too much for the
collier."

"Oh, she'll turn up sooner or later," answered Si. "But a boat loaded as
she was isn't the safest thing to sail around such a point as Cape
Hatteras, I can tell you that." The collier came in before night,
reporting a thoroughly disagreeable trip.

A lighthouse tender was at hand, ready to take the mail ashore, as well
as to deliver letters and special messages. The messages were at once
delivered to Commodore Schley.

"I wonder how long we'll stop here," said Walter. "I wouldn't mind a run
ashore, just to see what the city looks like."

"There goes a signal to the _Texas_," said Si, as the signalman took up
his flag and began to wig-wag. "Wait a moment till I read what he is
saying."

"Can you read it?" asked Walter, in deep interest.

"Certainly, it's easy enough." Si began to spell to himself. "'W-h-a-t,
what--i-s, is--y-o-u-r, your--b-e-s-t, best--r-a-t-e, rate--o-f,
of--s-p-e-e-d, speed--n-o-w, now?' He is asking what the _Texas_ can do
at once, so far as speed is concerned. That means something important.
Hold on, here comes the answer." Again the Yankee youth began to spell.
"Might go fifteen and a half knots." Then the signalman on the
_Brooklyn_ sent another message. "We are off on business now." And the
signal went up for the squadron to weigh anchor again.

"We're off for a fight!" ejaculated Walter. "But tell me about that
wig-wagging, Si; how do they signal the letters?"

"It's easy enough. You take a small flag of some bright color, attached
to a pole six or eight feet long. As soon as you attract the attention
of the other fellow, you begin to use the flag in three motions, to the
right, the left, and down in front. To the right means one, to the left
means two, and down in front means three. Now all the letters are
represented by combinations of numbers, and all you have to do is to
learn the combinations and spell ahead. It's easy enough when one gets
the hang of it. At night you can use a lantern instead of a flag."

"That is easy," commented Walter. "But what about those signals at the
masthead. Can you read those?"

"No. In those, most every flag represents a letter, or a word, or
sentence; but to read the signal you have got to have either the
international signal code-book, or else the United States Navy
code-book. The navy code is locked up in the captain's cabin, and the
book is weighted with lead, so that if anything happens, it can be
heaved overboard and sunk, thus keeping it out of the enemy's hands."

"I declare, signalling isn't so difficult, after all," cried Walter. "To
me it looked like a perfect jumble."

"The trouble with flags is, that when there's no wind they won't
straighten out so you can see 'em," put in Caleb, who had joined the
pair. "Lanterns are more to be depended upon, and they have a new system
now, called the Ardois electric, in which they use four powerful
electric lights, so that the signals can be read at a distance of
several miles. You'll learn all about them if you stay in the navy long
enough."



CHAPTER XIII

IN WHICH THE GOLD PIECE COMES TO LIGHT


"Where now?" was the question which more than one man on board of the
_Brooklyn_ asked himself. But no answer was forthcoming. The commodore,
captain, and commander knew, of course, but they kept the information to
themselves. In war it is a rule not to let the enemy know what you are
doing until you do it, and so a strict guard was kept, so that no
information might leak out. Yet Spanish spies in Canada learned a good
deal, and notified the home government as quickly as it could be done.

From Charleston the course was almost due south, and both Si and Caleb
came to the conclusion that the flagship and her sister craft were bound
for Cuban waters. "Perhaps we're going to join in the blockading of
Havana," remarked the old gunner.

"Oh, I hope not," said Walter. "Riding in one spot day after day must
be awfully tiresome. I'd like to hunt the Spaniards out and do them
battle, as Dewey did. He didn't waste any time."

Dewey's name was to be heard constantly, for the jackies never got done
talking about this first great victory of the war. Some of them had
served on the _Olympia_, _Boston_, and other vessels of the Asiatic
Squadron, and they described just how these boats were built, and what
parts they must have taken in the contest.

"Don't grow impatient, Walter," said Caleb. "We'll run up against
something soon--perhaps more than you care for. It's easy enough to
think of sinking an enemy's ship. Supposing he puts a few thirteen-inch
shells through your craft, and you begin to go down--what then?"

"I'll make the best of it," returned the boy, calmly. "I enlisted to
fight for Uncle Sam, and I'm willing to take what comes."

Jim Haskett was passing when Walter made this remark, and his lip curled
with a sneer. "That boy is too big for his boots," muttered the seaman.
"I can't see what the other men find in him to like."

Jim Haskett was more sour than ever, for his disagreeable ways had lost
to him the few friends he had picked up when first coming on board. The
fact that Si and Walter were growing more popular every day caused him
fairly to grate his teeth with rage.

"I'll fix him, see if I don't," he told himself that night. "They shan't
tell everybody that I took that gold piece--when I didn't touch his
bag."

Jim Haskett was one of those mean, unscrupulous men, who do a wrong and
then try to argue themselves into thinking that it is all right. It was
not true that he had taken the ten-dollar gold piece from Si's bag, but
it _was_ true that he had found the Yankee boy's satchel overturned and
partly open, and had closed it up and locked it, and afterward found the
money on the floor of the car within a few feet of where the bag had
stood. Any fair-minded man would have told himself that the gold piece
must be the one lost by Si; but Haskett was not fair-minded, and it was
doubtful if the man could ever become so, any more than a dwarfed and
crippled tree can be forced to become straight and upright.

On Monday morning, the day after leaving Charleston Bar, Haskett heard
Caleb tell Walter and Si that the gun must be cleaned and oiled. "We'll
go over the piece from top to bottom to-morrow," said the old gunner,
"and if there is anything more that you don't understand I'll explain it
to you."

"This is my chance," said Haskett to himself, and lost no time in
bringing forth the gold piece from the place where he had hidden it.
Watching his opportunity, when Caleb, Si, and Walter were asleep that
night, he secreted the piece in a corner of the track upon which the
gun-base revolved.

Inside of half an hour after breakfast the next day, Walter, stripped to
the waist, was working over the gun, in company with his friends and
Steve Colton, the second gun-captain, and Carl Stuben, the hose-man. All
were supplied with cotton waste, polishing-paste, and rags, and in a
short while the bright portions of the gun shone like a mirror.

"There, I reckon that will suit the chief gunner," was Caleb's remark as
he stood back to inspect the work. "No piece on the starboard side
brighter than this, I'll wager my month's pay."

Si was bending down under the gun, swabbing up some oil which had run
down from one of the working joints. Suddenly the Yankee youth threw
down his swab and caught up something which shone in spite of the dirt
upon it.

"My gold piece, as sure as you're born!" he ejaculated, after he had
made an inspection at the porthole. "Now how in creation did that get
there?"

He looked at Caleb, and half unconsciously both turned to Walter.

"What's that?" asked the youth.

"My gold piece--I found it hidden under the gun-track," answered Si.

Walter's face turned red, as he remembered what Jim Haskett had said
concerning his talking in his sleep. "Why, Si--are--are you sure it is
your piece?" he faltered.

"Certainly. There is the date, 1876--centennial year, and here is a
scratch I once made with my jack-knife. It's the very one that was taken
from my bag, beyond any doubt."

Si continued to look at Walter, while Caleb suddenly turned and gazed
out of the porthole, while Stuben, the hose-man, whistled softly to
himself.

"Why, Si, have you got your money back?" cried Paul, who had just
chanced up.

"Yes."

"And where did you find it?"

"Under the gun, by the track." And Si pointed out the place with his
forefinger.

"Under the gun! Why, that is where Haskett said Walter hid it!" was
Paul's comment, before he stopped to think twice. "I mean--that is,
Haskett said something about it," he stammered.

"I know he did," answered the Yankee youth, coldly.

Walter's face was burning hotly now, and he could scarcely trust himself
to speak. "Si, do you think I put that money there?" he asked in a
strained voice.

"I'm sure I don't know what to think," was the dogged answer, and now Si
turned his gaze away. "Haskett said--well, you know what,--and Cal
Blinker backed him up in it," he went on, hesitatingly.

"Yes, I know what Haskett and Blinker said," answered Walter.
"But--but--do you think I stole your money?" The words would scarcely
come, but he forced them out.

"I don't say that, Walter; but the whole thing looks mighty queer."

"I have it!" burst out Caleb. "Perhaps Walter put the money there when
he was asleep. Folks often do queer things when they have the
nightmare."

"Yes, but if he put it there while he was asleep, how did he come by it
in the first place?" questioned Si, bluntly.

"Perhaps he took it out of the bag while he was asleep on the train,"
suggested Caleb. "You had the bag with you all the way from Boston,
didn't you?"

"Yes."

"And Walter bunked with you, too?"

"He did."

"Then it's as plain as day," went on the old gunner. "Walter took the
money while you were asleep on the train and hid it away in his
clothing, or somewhere. When he got on board he took to sleep-walking
and put the piece under the gun. Of course he doesn't know anything
about the transaction."

Again all eyes were turned upon Walter, whose face was as red as ever.
"Perhaps that's true--but it's mighty queer," murmured Colton, the
second gun-captain.

"I don't believe I did anything of the sort!" cried the youth, at last.
"I can give you my word on it that I never saw Si's money until just
now. To my mind, this whole matter is a job put up by Jim Haskett. He
took the money, and then when Si raised such an ado about it he was
afraid to get it changed or to spend it, and he watched his chance to
get rid of it. He's down on me, and when he heard me mutter in my sleep
he formed his plan to get me into trouble. I'm going to find Haskett on
the spot." And off he rushed before anybody could detain him.

Haskett was discovered mending his jacket, which had become torn the
evening before. "What do you want?" he asked, as Walter ran up and
caught him fiercely by the arm.

"I want you to own up to your dirty trick on me," answered the boy. "You
thought you had me, but your little plot won't work."

"What do you mean?" blustered Haskett, although he knew well enough what
was coming.

By this time the crowd had followed Walter, and they gathered round the
pair. Soon Haskett had heard all there was to say.

"Don't lay it off on me," he cried. "I knew Russell was guilty from the
start. Si Doring can think as he pleases. As for me, I'm glad that I'm
not training with a night-walker--or a thief."

Walter leaped forward with blazing eyes. But before he could strike out,
Caleb caught him, while another man held Haskett. Then, before anything
more could be done or said, Si stepped to the front.

"Haskett, I lost the money, and I think I ought to have the biggest say
in this matter. If you played a trick on Walter, you are the meanest man
that ever trod the deck of a ship. If you didn't, let me say that I
don't think Walter stole the gold piece, although he may have taken it
while he was asleep and not responsible for his doings."

"Thank you for saying that, Si," came from Walter. "But I don't think I
took it even when asleep. To my mind Haskett is guilty, and nobody
else."

"If I wasn't held--" began Haskett, when a young seaman named George
Ellis, chief yeoman of the _Brooklyn_, stepped forward and asked to know
what the trouble was about.

"I think I can tell something about this," said George Ellis, after the
matter had been explained.

"You just hold your jaw!" stormed Haskett. "You don't know anything."

"I know what I see," answered the chief yeoman, pointedly; and something
in his manner attracted such attention that all in the crowd gathered
around to learn what he might have to say.



CHAPTER XIV

KEY WEST, AND THE LAST OF JIM HASKETT


George Ellis was known to be an upright honest man, and one whose word
was worth taking upon every occasion. He had an education above that of
the ordinary man in the navy, and was anxious to make something of
himself while in the service of his country, never dreaming, alas! that
his life was so soon to be taken from him during our struggle in the
cause of humanity and Cuban freedom.

"And what did you see?" questioned Caleb, as all eyes were turned upon
Ellis, inquiringly.

"It was last night," answered the Range Finder, for such was the man's
popular title, given him because he was so good at determining
distances. "I was rather feverish and couldn't sleep. I walked the berth
deck for a while and then went up to Walton's gun and stood leaning out
of the porthole, gazing at the water.

"Presently I heard a slight noise behind me, and turning around I saw in
a dim way the figure of a man behind me. He was bending down under the
gun, as if he was hunting for something. I was just on the point of
speaking to him when he straightened up and slunk away as silently as a
ghost. I watched him, and when he got under the rays of the electric
light I got a good look at his face."

"And was it this man?" cried Si, pointing to Jim Haskett.

"It was."

With a cry of anger Si leaped upon Haskett and bore him to the deck.
"You good-for-nothin' rascal!" he panted. "Will try to shove off your
dirty tricks on Walter, eh? So you stole my money and then got afraid to
use it? Take that, and that, and that!"

Each _that_ was a blow in the face, one on the cheek, another on the
nose, and a third directly in Haskett's left eye. They were heavy, and
Haskett roared with pain.

"Let up!" he sputtered. "Let go of me,"--the latter to Caleb, who still
held him. "Oh, my eye! Is this fair fighting, two to one?"

"It is as fair as you treated Walter," answered Caleb. "Give him
another, Si; he deserves it." And Si followed directions by planting a
blow on Haskett's neck, something which spun the former mate of the
_Sunflower_ around like a top. At last Haskett broke loose and backed
away.

"I'll get square on all of you!" he foamed, shaking his fist first at
Caleb and then at the others. "I'm not done yet."

[Illustration: "I'LL GET SQUARE ON ALL OF YOU!"]

"I've a good mind to report you," put in Walter. "I reckon you'd be good
for a month in irons, on bread and water."

At this Haskett grew pale. "The officers won't believe your story.
Ellis, and the rest of you haven't any witnesses," he replied, but his
voice shook. "Just wait; my day will come some time." And then, as Si
started to advance again, he beat a hasty retreat.

"That settles that mystery," remarked Caleb, when the excitement was
over. "I calculate, Walter, that you are not sorry the way matters came
out."

"No, indeed." Walter turned to George Ellis. "I owe you one for your
kindness. I'll not forget it."

"That's all right--I only did what any fair-minded fellow would do,"
answered the chief yeoman, and strolled away.

It was time for dinner, and Walter hurried off arm in arm with Si, who
was still somewhat worked up over what had happened. "Walter, don't you
go for to imagine I thought you guilty," said the Yankee boy. "I know
you are honest to the core."

"Even if I do talk in my sleep," said Walter, from whose heart a great
load had been lifted.

Once more the course of the Flying Squadron had been changed and now
they were making straight for the coast of Florida. Tuesday passed
quietly, although the same vigilance prevailed as before. It was
evident, come what might, Commodore Schley did not mean to allow the
enemy to catch him napping.

They had passed through the Straits of Florida, and now they turned to
the westward, past a number of the Florida Reefs. Far across the ocean
could be seen the low-lying shore, backed up by stately palms and other
trees. The weather was now much warmer.

"You see, we are drawing closer to the equator," remarked Caleb. "I
reckon we are bound for Key West." And his surmise proved correct, for
they dropped anchors in Key West Harbor early on the morning following.

"What a lot of warships around here," cried Walter, as he came on deck.
"What is that big fellow over yonder?"

"That is the _Iowa_," answered the old gunner. "You can well say big
fellow, for the _Iowa_ is the largest seagoing battleship we possess.
She has a displacement of over eleven thousand tons and can speed in any
sea at over seventeen knots. She carries four 12-inch guns and a whole
host of others. Her armor belt is solid steel, fourteen inches thick."

"She's a beauty. I wonder if she will go out with us?"

"That is according to what Rear Admiral Sampson has to say about it,
lad. You see, this campaign in Atlantic waters is largely in his hands."

The _Iowa_ lay quite close, and during the day several messages were
transmitted from one warship to the other by means of the wig-wag
system. Walter had now mastered the mysteries of wig-wagging and amused
himself by spelling out the messages as they passed to and fro.

A salute had been fired when the commodore entered the harbor, eleven
rounds being shot off. "If he was a rear-admiral, he'd get thirteen
guns," explained Caleb. "You see the salute varies from the President
down. McKinley gets twenty-one guns, the Vice-President or Secretary of
the Navy nineteen guns, a foreign minister fifteen guns, a consul seven
guns, and so on. By counting the guns every man on the ships can tell
what sort of a dignitary has arrived."

It was a cloudy day, and the air was so close that Walter was glad
enough to take it easy. Presently he saw a boat leave the side,
containing several petty officers and George Ellis and Jim Haskett.

"I wonder where they are going," said Walter to Si.

"Some special business for Captain Cook," answered Paul, who stood near.
"Oh, but Haskett is in an ugly mood to-day. It will be a big wonder if
he and Ellis don't get into a fight before they come back."

"Ellis is too much of a gentleman to fight with any one," returned
Walter. "By the way, what is his real position on board?"

"He is chief yeoman," replied Si. "He is going ashore to look after some
ship's stores, so I heard him tell one of the paymasters."

The small boat was soon out of sight, and Walter turned away to seek the
shade, for it was growing hotter and hotter. "If this is a sample of
weather in the torrid zone, what shall we do when we get into Cuban
waters?" he observed.

"We are not very far from Cuban waters now," said the Yankee youth. "We
could make Havana in six or seven hours if it was necessary."

"I wonder how the people of that city feel, Si, all cooped up as they
have been for so long."

"I reckon they wish they had some fighting ships to come out after us,
Walter. I've heard it said that General Blanco hardly knows how to turn
himself, food is so scarce and so many idlers are about. It wouldn't
surprise me if they had a riot there, if they haven't had one already.
Even soldiers won't keep quiet when the grub fails."

But little could be seen of Key West outside of the numerous shipping.
Presently a couple of petty officers came along with marine glasses and
one pointed out to his companion several Spanish prizes in the port.
"They'll be worth a good bit of money to the sailors on the blockade,"
he added. "I wish we were in for a share of the spoils."

"There are several transports," said Caleb, on joining his friends.
"They are fitting out to go to Tampa. It won't be long before an army of
invasion starts for Cuba."

"I wonder if my brother Ben will go along," mused Walter, but just then
to get word from his older brother was impossible.

Inside of two hours the small craft came back. Somewhat to his surprise
Walter saw that Jim Haskett was missing. He would not have thought much
of this had it not been that the _Brooklyn_ was already preparing to
continue on her trip.

"Haskett did not come back," he announced to Si. "I'll wager something
is wrong."

"Oh, I guess not," said the Yankee youth; nevertheless, he, too, began
to watch for the former mate of the _Sunflower_.

Several hours later Walter passed George Ellis on the upper deck and
saluted. The chief yeoman hesitated and then called Walter to him.

"I suppose you and your friend will be interested to know that James
Haskett has been left behind at Key West under military arrest," he
began.

"Indeed! And what for, if I may ask?"

"For getting into a rough-and-tumble fight with a soldier named
Grumbell. It seems Grumbell once owned a fishing-smack down East, and
Haskett failed to settle up on a cargo of fish he sold for Grumbell
three years ago. They had a quarrel of words and then got to blows, and
Haskett hit a captain of the regulars who tried to separate them. Both
he and the soldier are now in prison, and I rather imagine it will go
pretty hard with the seaman, for striking a captain is no light
offence." And after a few words more, George Ellis passed on.

Of course Walter lost no time in carrying the news to his friends. All
listened with interest, and Si said he was glad Haskett was gone. "And I
hope he doesn't ever come back," he added.

And Jim Haskett never did come back, nor did Walter ever set eyes on the
man again. For quarrelling with the soldier and striking the captain of
the regulars, Jim Haskett was dishonorably discharged from the navy, and
sentenced to a year's imprisonment at hard labor. Thus, in a roundabout
way, was the rascal made to suffer the punishment he so richly
deserved.



CHAPTER XV

FROM CIENFUEGOS TO SANTIAGO BAY


From Key West the Flying Squadron set sail direct for Cienfuegos. The
_Brooklyn_, _Massachusetts_, _Texas_, and _Scorpion_ left together, and
were followed, twenty-four hours later, by the _Iowa_, mentioned in the
previous chapter, and by the _Castine_ and the collier _Merrimac_.

Cienfuegos is a town of good size lying on a small bay on the south
coast of Cuba, about midway between the eastern and western extremities.
For several days the Navy Department had been watching, or trying to
watch, the movements of the Spanish squadron, satisfied at last that it
was somewhere in Cuban waters. One report had it that Admiral Cervera
was at Cienfuegos, another that he was at Santiago de Cuba, many miles
to the eastward. Commodore Schley was now sent out to bring the truth to
light, were it possible to do so.

The rainy season, as it is termed, was at its height in this vicinity,
and the showers came down nearly all day, striking the hot metal decks,
and converting the water into something closely resembling steam. It was
so muggy and uncomfortable that hardly any of the jackies could sleep,
and more than one poor fellow was overcome and had to be carried to the
sick bay for treatment.

"If that Spanish squadron has passed Santiago and Cienfuegos, and is
crawling up around the western turn of Cuba, it won't be long before we
see some hot work," observed Caleb, as he lounged at a porthole, devoid
of any clothing but his shirt and trousers.

"Any kind of work would be hot," said Walter, laughingly. "Why, I think
a fellow could cook eggs on deck."

"Puts me in mind of a voyage I took to South America," put in Si, who
had just soused his head into a bucket of water, and was dripping from
nose, ears, and chin in consequence. "We lay off the mouth of the Amazon
for two days, waiting to get on a cargo of rubber. It was right under
the equator, and the tar just poured out of all our seams. One afternoon
I ran across the deck in my bare feet, for I was taking a swim, and as
true as I live I blistered my feet."

"Oh, that's nothing," returned Caleb, dryly. "I was under the equator
once, off the coast of Columbia in the bark _Sally D_. The captain let
us go fishing in the jolly-boat. We caught about a dozen fish and threw
'em in the bottom as fast as they came in, and when we got back to the
bark hang me if the first two fish we had brought up weren't baked as
nice as you please, all fit for the captain's table." And Caleb turned
away and began to whistle softly to himself, while Si continued his
ablutions without another word. Among old sailors, "matching yarns" is a
constant pastime, and the stories sometimes told would shame even a
Baron Munchausen.

The watch on board of the warship was now more strict than ever, and the
men slept at their guns, sometimes not seeing a hammock for several
nights. Everybody, from the captain down to the apprentices, felt that a
crisis could not be far off.

It must not be imagined that while Commodore Schley was skirting the
southern coast of Cuba, the northern coast was neglected, for such was
not the case. The blockade of Havana and vicinity still continued, and
in addition Rear-Admiral Sampson took his own flagship, the _New York_,
and several other warships, and sailed eastward, thinking to occupy the
St. Nicholas Channel. Thus, if Admiral Cervera tried to gain the
vicinity of Havana by the northern coast, he would be likely to fall in
with Sampson; if he took the southern way, Schley would intercept his
path. By keeping his ships in the St. Nicholas Channel Sampson remained
ever ready to dash northward should the Spanish destroyers take a new
course and show themselves along our own coast.

"We are coming in sight of land," cried Walter, toward nightfall, two
days after leaving Key West. "I suppose this is some port on the
southern coast of Cuba."

"It is Cienfuegos Bay," returned Caleb. "I just heard one of the
officers say so. We're to lie at anchor until morning, and then perhaps
the fun will commence."

At this announcement Walter's heart beat quickly, and it must be
admitted that he did not sleep a wink that night for speculating on what
the morrow might bring forth. In this particular, his thoughts were not
far different from those of every one else on board.

Daybreak brought more rain, and the big warship rode on the long swells
of the ocean grim and silent. Not far away lay the _Texas_, and several
newcomers could be seen approaching from a distance. "This looks like
business," observed Si to Walter, and the boy nodded.

Immediately after breakfast the signal was hoisted to clear ship for
action, and once more the jackies rushed to their various places and got
into fighting trim. Then the great engines of the _Brooklyn_ began to
work, and they crept slowly toward the entrance to the harbor.

"If Cervera is there, he keeps himself pretty well hidden," remarked one
of the officers, within hearing of Walter. "I don't see anything that
looks like a warship."

Presently the flagship came to a halt, and the _Texas_ steamed past her
and quite close to the harbor. Here the Spaniards had a small land
battery, but it kept silent. The inner portion of the bay was hidden
from view by a high spur of land.

What to do next was a problem. If the Spanish squadron was really
there, it would be foolhardy to rush in and do battle while the enemy
would have the support of the shore battery. Commodore Schley thought
the matter over and, ever on the alert, decided to play a waiting game.

Sunday passed without anything unusual developing, and so did the day
following. The strain on the men at the guns was great, for they were on
duty constantly. Night and day the bosom of the outer bay was closely
watched, for it was known that Cervera had with him one or two
torpedo-boat destroyers, and these were dreaded more than anything else.

"Let one of those torpedo destroyers get near us, and we'll go up as
quickly as did the _Maine_," said Caleb. "I'm not afraid of the dagos,
but let me get out of the way of a torpedo boat every time." And this
opinion was shared by all Walton's messmates.

"There's another boat coming up," announced Si, at six o'clock on
Tuesday morning. "Walton, what do you make her out to be?"

"She's the _Marblehead_," was the old gunner's answer, after a long look
at the craft. "And she's got despatches for the commodore," he added,
as the signal went up and a small boat put off for the _Brooklyn_. Soon
Commander McCalla of the _Marblehead_ came on board, and a long
conference with Commodore Schley resulted, after which the newly arrived
officer departed for his own warship with all possible speed. McCalla's
mission was to communicate with the Cuban insurgents who were encamped
near Cienfuegos, with a view to ascertaining if Admiral Cervera's ships
were really in the harbor.

The morning passed quietly, and by noon the _Marblehead_ and her
commander returned. The Cuban spies had made an investigation, and not a
single ship of war belonging to Spain had been found, outside of a
little harbor vessel of small moment.

It was now thought that if Admiral Cervera was not at Cienfuegos he must
either be on his way hither or at Santiago. Accordingly, toward evening,
the squadron received orders to sail for Santiago.

"We're off for Santiago Bay," said Caleb. "And if we don't find the
dagos there, I'll give up where they are. Perhaps they have gone back to
Spain." He continually alluded to the Spaniards as dagos,--a term which
became quite common among soldiers and sailors during the war, although
many referred to the enemy as the Dons.

It had cleared off, and the sun shone down fiercely on the deck and
elsewhere. Inside of the steel turrets the air was stifling, and no one
could remain at his post over a couple of hours. From below, the
engineers, firemen, and coal-heavers came up constantly for a whiff of
fresh air.

"We're badly enough off," remarked Walter. "But look at those poor
chaps. Why, some of the firemen look ready to melt."

"Yes, and the worst of it is they never get any credit when it comes to
a battle," added Caleb. "Now to my mind, the engineer who sticks to his
engine during a battle, obeying orders and running the risk of having a
shot plough through a boiler and scald him to death, is just as much of
a hero as the chap behind a gun--and in one way he's more of a hero; for
if the ship should start to sink, a gunner has got the chance to leap
overboard and swim for it, while the man below is likely to be drowned
like a rat in a trap."

"And the coal-heavers work harder than negroes," put in Paul. "Just
think of the tons and tons of coal they shovel every twenty-four hours
when we are under full steam. I'm quite certain such work would break my
back."

"Oh, life on a warship isn't all a picnic," was Si's comment. "If a
fellow enlists to have an easy time of it, he deserves to get left. I
enlisted to serve Uncle Sam, and I'm going to do it--if Providence will
give me the chance."

As Commodore Schley sailed toward Santiago from Cienfuegos, Rear-Admiral
Sampson, gaining additional information concerning the whereabouts of
the enemy, moved slowly and cautiously eastward toward Cape Maysi and
the Windward Passage. Thus, if Cervera was where he was supposed to be,
he was bound to be discovered before many more days passed.

"Do you know anything about Santiago Bay?" asked Si of Walter. "I've
travelled to South America and Central America, but I never stopped
anywhere in Cuba."

"I know only what the geographies teach," answered Walter. "It is on the
south side of Cuba, a hundred and some odd miles from the eastern end of
the island. It is said to be a very pretty harbor, about eight miles
long and one to two miles wide. Santiago, which is the next largest
Cuban city to Havana, is located on the northeast shore. I heard Caleb
say that the entrance to the harbor is shaped like the neck of a crooked
bottle, and that on the eastern side there is a strong fortress called
Morro Castle, and opposite to it a heavy concealed battery called La
Zocapa. Somehow, it's in my mind that we'll see a good deal of the
harbor before we come away," concluded the boy.



CHAPTER XVI

THE FINDING OF ADMIRAL CERVERA'S FLEET


"Well, this doesn't look much like fighting."

It was Paul who uttered the remark. The youngest member of the gunners'
crowd rested in the shadow of one of the long guns, half asleep. Near by
sat Walter and Si, each writing letters, although there was no telling
when the communications would be taken from the _Brooklyn_ and sent
home. At Key West Walter had looked for some word from Ben and from Job
Dowling, but none had come.

"I'd like to know if my uncle went to Boston, and if he learned anything
concerning that Deck Mumpers and the stolen heirlooms," Walter observed
to Si, after nodding to Paul, in agreement that it didn't look like
fighting.

"Well, you'll have to possess your soul in patience," answered the young
Yankee. "But oh, this is dead slow!" And thrusting his letter into an
envelope, he addressed it and laid it away.

Several days had been spent around the mouth of Santiago Bay, without
anything being brought to light. If the Spanish fleet was within the
harbor, it knew enough to keep out of sight, that was certain.

"If I was Commodore Schley, I'd rush past old Morro and make short work
of this," grumbled Paul, stretching himself and yawning. "Why, we'll all
die of laziness if this keeps on."

"I hear the _Merrimac_ has broken down," put in Caleb, who had just come
below. "That means another wait of twenty-four hours or more, even if
Cervera isn't in the harbor. Why under the sun must those dagos play
such a game of hide-and-seek? Why can't they come up and fight like
men?"

"Perhaps Admiral Cervera is bombarding some of our cities at this very
moment--" began Si, when a sudden loud hurrah caused all hands to leap
up and make for the deck.

"What's up?" came from a hundred throats.

"The _Iowa_ has just signalled that she has seen a big Spanish warship
showing her nose around the harbor point!" was the wild answer. "We've
found the Dons at last!"

And then came another hurrah and a wild yell. "Let us get at 'em! Down
with the Spaniards! Remember the _Maine_ and Dewey's victory at Manila!"

Commodore Schley was on the afterbridge of the flagship. As the yelling
broke loose, he smiled grimly. "Yes, they must be in there," he said to
Captain Cook. "And if they are, they'll never get home." Prophetic
words, as the events of just five weeks later proved.

Owing to the heavy swells of the ocean, the warships under the
commodore's command had drifted somewhat apart, but now, when it was
known definitely that Admiral Cervera's ships were in the harbor before
them, the various craft were signalled to draw closer, until they lay
within four to six miles of the entrance. This may seem a long way off
to some of my readers, but it must be remembered that guns of the
present day can carry as far as ten to twelve miles when put to it, and
a destructive fire can be maintained at seven or eight miles.

The night that followed was a trying one, for no one knew but that
Admiral Cervera's warships might come dashing out of the bay at any
instant ready to do them deadly battle. The _Brooklyn_ had long since
been stripped for action, many articles of wood being thrown overboard,
to avoid splinters when shot and shell began to fall. The small boats
were covered with strong nets, also to keep splinters away, and
everywhere throughout the ship the hoses were connected with the
water-plugs, to be used in case of fire, and all water-tubs were kept
filled for a like purpose. The magazines were kept open, and every gun,
big and little, stood ready to be fired at the word of command. Even the
wardroom tables were cleared off and covered with the sick-bay cloths,
and the surgeons saw to it in a quiet way that their bandages, knives,
and saws were ready to hand.

"Say, but that looks like war, eh?" whispered Paul, jerking his thumb in
the direction of one of the improvised operating tables. "Gracious, it's
enough to give a fellow a cold shiver."

"Then don't look that way, Paul," answered Walter. "As Si said, life
here isn't expected to be a picnic. We may gain lots of glory, but we'll
have to work for it,--and maybe suffer, too."

It was the 30th of May, Decoration Day, but no services of a special
character were had, although the Civil War was talked of by a dozen
veterans of both the North and the South, who were now standing once
more shoulder to shoulder, as Washington, Jefferson, and a hundred other
patriots of old had intended that they should stand, once and forever.
"We're under the stars and stripes to stay," said one man who had worn
the gray at Gettysburg. "Just let those Dons show themselves, and we'll
lick 'em out of their boots." The man's name was Berkeley, and he was as
good a soldier as he was a sailor, and wore both Union and Confederate
medals for bravery.

Walter had just fallen into a light doze early in the morning when a
dull booming awoke him with a start, and made him leap to his feet.
"What is that--guns firing?" he asked.

"That's it, lad," came from Caleb. "The commodore is giving his defiance
to the enemy, I reckon. There she goes again," he went on, as half a
dozen sullen reports rolled over the water. "I just wish we were in
this."

A Spanish warship, the _Christobal Colon_, had again showed herself at
the entrance to Santiago Bay, and the _Iowa_, the _Massachusetts_, and
the _New Orleans_, had been ordered to move to within seven thousand
yards and open fire. Away they darted, and passed and re-passed the
harbor entrance twice, firing as they sailed. What damage was done it
was impossible to tell, but that the _Colon_ was hit seemed very
probable, for she soon disappeared. The shore batteries also took part,
and sent one big shell directly over the _Iowa_, where it burst with a
noise that was deafening, but without doing any damage.

"Gracious! what a racket!" exclaimed Walter, as he watched the
bombardment from afar.

"Racket!" repeated Caleb, who stood beside him. "Why, lad, this is
nothing to what we'll have when we get mixed up. I only hope the
commodore signals us to line up for the scrap," he went on, for
Commodore Schley had left the _Brooklyn_ temporarily, and hoisted his
pennant on the _Massachusetts_. But the signal did not come, much to the
old gunner's disappointment.

By dark the bombardment was at an end. It had been brought about by the
commodore with the view to ascertain the strength of the enemy, his
ability to shoot straight, and the number and location of the shore
batteries. Now this information was gained, and it was likely to be of
great value in the near future.

It had been decided, should Admiral Cervera's fleet be discovered in
Santiago Bay, that Commodore Schley should unload the collier _Merrimac_
as quickly as possible, and then sink the craft directly across the
channel at the narrow entrance. If this was accomplished, it would make
it impossible for the Spanish warships to escape until the sunken wreck
was blown up and cleared away, and in the meantime several other
available American vessels could be hurried to the scene of action. A
number of spies had been sent ashore, and at last the commodore was
positive that the enemy was just where he wanted him. "And now we'll
sink the _Merrimac_ and bottle him up," he said.

The _Merrimac_ was an iron steamboat of five thousand tons' burden. She
had previously been a "tramp" steamer; that is, one going from port to
port, picking up any cargo that came to hand. She carried a large
quantity of coal for the various ships, and, as we already know, had
followed the Flying Squadron from Key West to Cienfuegos and the present
ocean territory. She was a heavily built craft, carrying two masts, and
just the right sort for the plan now at hand.

A heavy salute on the morning of June 1 announced the coming of Admiral
Sampson with a number of additional warships,--the _New York_, _Oregon_,
_Mayflower_, _Porter_, and others. The _New York_, it may be added here,
was a cruiser, similar to the Brooklyn, only somewhat smaller. The
_Oregon_ was a battleship of the first class, of over ten thousand tons'
displacement, and carried four 13-inch, eight 8-inch, and four 6-inch
guns in her main battery, over twenty guns in her secondary battery,
besides several Gatling guns and three torpedo tubes. This noble vessel
had just made a record for herself by steaming, at full speed, from San
Francisco, around Cape Horn, to our eastern coast, without a
break-down,--a journey without precedent for a heavy battleship, so far
as our own navy was concerned. In the past, foreign critics had imagined
that our vessels were not quite as good as theirs in thoroughness of
build; now these critics were silenced, and they stood looking on, and
wondering what those "clever Yankees" would do next.

The _Merrimac_ had been under the command of Captain James Miller, but
now she was eased of a large quantity of her coal, and turned over to
Lieutenant Richmond P. Hobson, an assistant naval constructor. Hobson
had his plans arranged in detail for sinking the _Merrimac_, and all he
asked for was a crew of six or seven men, to aid him in running the
collier into the harbor channel. "I know it looks like certain death to
go in," he said, "and therefore I want only volunteers with me."

"You can get them easily enough," said Rear-Admiral Sampson, with a
smile. "I know a hundred men on the _New York_ who will be only too
anxious to go, no matter how dangerous the mission." Volunteers were
called for, and, to the credit of our navy, be it said, that the crews
of the different ships offered themselves almost to a man.

"We can die only once," said one old gunner; "take me!"

"I'd like to go, captain," said Caleb, appealing to Captain Cook. "Can't
you put me on the list somehow?"

"I'll go," said Walter, readily, and Si said the same. Paul was so young
that he knew they would not take him.

Of course where only seven men were wanted and hundreds had begged to be
allowed to go there were numerous disappointments. At last the list was
made up of the following--names to be remembered by every patriotic
young American: Lieutenant Hobson, in command; O. W. Deignan, helmsman;
G. F. Phillips, engineer; F. Kelley, fireman; J. Murphy, coxswain; G.
Charette, mine batteries; D. Montague, anchor hand; R. Clausen, extra
wheelman. The men were all experienced sailors, and fully realized the
extreme peril which awaited them, when they should run the _Merrimac_ in
directly under the fire of Morro Castle and the La Zocapa battery.

A start was made late on Wednesday night, the _Merrimac_ cruising up and
down before the harbor entrance, trying to gain a favorable opportunity
for entering. But none showed itself, and by orders of the rear-admiral
the attempt was postponed until the night following. In the meantime a
catamaran was built and attached to the _Merrimac's_ side, to be used in
getting away in case the small boats became disabled when the craft was
wrecked.



CHAPTER XVII

IN WHICH THE "MERRIMAC" IS SUNK


"It's too bad we can't get places on the _Merrimac_," observed Walter to
Si, as the two walked to their quarters after the selection of men had
been made. "If Lieutenant Hobson succeeds in getting the collier up in
the harbor entrance and sinking her, it will be a big feather in his
cap."

"My idea is that the heavy guns of old Morro will blow the _Merrimac_
clean out of the water before she gets within quarter of a mile of where
she is to be sunk," answered the Yankee lad. "Those on board are running
the greatest risk of their lives."

"But the glory, Si!"

"No glory if you're killed."

"But you said you would go."

"So I would--but I wouldn't expect to come back alive. I'll wager we
never see Hobson again, nor none of his men."

The fierce heat of the day had given Walter a headache. As evening came
on it grew worse, and he was not able to sleep during the night.

"I hope I'm not getting the Cuban fever," he remarked to Caleb, who had
offered several simple remedies ready at hand.

"Better report and go on the sick list," advised the old gunner. "If
it's fever, the sooner you take it in hand the better."

At first Walter demurred, but finally, as the ache in his head began to
creep all over him, he reported to one of the surgeons. "I don't want to
go into the sick bay," he said, "but I wish you would give me
something."

"Yes, you need something," was the answer. "We don't want any men to get
down so soon. We may have to stay on the blockade here for some time, if
Cervera refuses to come out and fight us."

"Or we block him in with the wreck of the _Merrimac_," said Walter, with
a faint smile.

"Oh, that will be only a temporary check, to give Admiral Sampson time
to get his fleet into shape and give the army authorities time to send
on an army of invasion. The army is already gathering at Tampa," replied
the surgeon.

The medicine was forthcoming, and Walter was at once given a big dose
and told to repeat every two hours. "It has quinine in it and will make
your ears ring and your head buzz, but that won't hurt you," said the
surgeon. "If you feel worse by to-morrow morning, report to me again."

This was at eight o'clock. By noon Walter felt as if a buzz saw was in
full operation in his head, while he could not hear at all. But he
continued to take the medicine, and rested in a hammock slung up in the
coolest spot to be found between decks.

"Oh dear!" he murmured, when left alone. "How my head does spin around!
If I get very sick, whatever will become of me?" And he buried his face
in his jacket sleeve, to suppress a groan that was bound to come.

By nightfall he was worse, if anything, and both Caleb and Si advised
him to go into the sick bay for further treatment. But he shook his
head. "No, I reckon I can stand it till morning," he said. "There may be
a turn for the better by that time."

Midnight found him on deck, under the impression that the fresh night
air would do him some good. To tell the truth, he was hardly
responsible for what he was doing, for his head was in a worse whirl
than at any time previous. He staggered to the side and leaned over. The
warship rose and fell on the bosom of the ocean, and the water danced
and twinkled before his eyes. Nobody was near him.

How it all happened he could never tell afterward. He must have leaned
over too far, or slipped, for suddenly he seemed to awake as by a shock,
and felt himself going down and down into the greenish element which
washed up against the _Brooklyn's_ sides. He tried to scream, but his
mouth filled with water and he could only splutter.

When at length he arose to the surface, the waves had carried him a
hundred feet away from the ship. He tried to cry out, but he was too
weak to utter more than a whisper. He threw out his hands and began to
swim in a mechanical way. But instead of carrying him back whence he had
come, the mighty waves lifted him closer and closer to shore.

Ten minutes had passed, and Walter felt that he could keep up no longer,
when he came into contact with a large box which had at one time been
filled with naval stores, but which, on being emptied, had been thrown
overboard from one of the warships. The box was over four feet in length
and built of heavy slatting, and afforded a fair degree of buoyancy.
Lying across the top of the receptacle he floated on, wondering in a
bewildered way how this strange adventure was going to end.

"If only I could get to one of our ships," he thought. "If I don't, I
must either drown or else be cast up on the coast, in which case the
Spaniards will most likely capture me. If I--Oh, there is a ship now!"

Walter was right; a two-masted vessel was bearing directly down upon
him. The vessel carried no lights and moved along as silently as a
ghost.

"I'll be run down!" was the boy's agonizing thought, when, on coming
within a few hundred feet, the craft began to turn in a small circle.
Then, when halfway around, her engines came to a stop and she drifted
idly on the waves.

A chain was dangling from the vessel's stern. It was but three yards
away, and making a frantic leap Walter clutched it and hung fast.
Scarcely had this been accomplished than the steamer moved off again,
dragging him behind her.

In his weak state it is a wonder that Walter was not compelled to
relinquish his hold; but life is sweet to us all, and he hung on grimly,
and setting his teeth, began to climb up the chain hand over hand. In a
few minutes he reached the taffrail, fell, rather than climbed, over,
and dropped unconscious on the deck.

How long he lay in this state Walter did not know. He came to his senses
to find himself being shaken by somebody bending over him.

"What are you doing here?" was the rough demand. "Don't you know that
all of the regular crew were ordered off at three o'clock?"

"I--I--where am I?" stammered Walter, sitting up.

"Where are you? Don't you know?"

"No, sir."

"You're on board of the _Merrimac_."

"The _Merrimac_!" echoed the boy, and attempted to rise to his feet. He
was still very weak, but otherwise his involuntary bath had done him
much good.

"Exactly; the _Merrimac_. How dare you remain on board against orders?"

"I didn't remain on board. I--I fell off of my own ship, the _Brooklyn_,
and came near drowning, when this vessel came along and I managed to
catch hold of a chain that is dragging over the taffrail. I climbed up
and then--then I don't remember anything more."

"Humph! that's a likely story. How did you happen to fall
overboard?" went on the man, who was one of the volunteers on this
never-to-be-forgotten expedition.

In a few words Walter told him. By this time the youth felt stronger,
and got up on his feet. "I hope I shan't be in the way," he said, as he
concluded.

"You had better keep out of the way," was the grim return. "Come
forward, and I'll report the matter to Lieutenant Hobson. If you have to
go in with us, the best thing you can do is to strip off your clothing,
and buckle a life preserver around you--just as the rest of us have
done. Of course if you were on the _Brooklyn_ you know what we intend to
do, and let me tell you we've some mighty hot work ahead of us." And
throwing him a life preserver, the man stalked off, leaving Walter
standing on the forward deck of the collier in the darkness.

It was a little after three o'clock in the morning, and the _Merrimac_
was headed north-northeast, directly for the harbor entrance. From far
ahead shone a Spanish flashlight, located on a hill, and by steering for
this, Lieutenant Hobson knew the craft would be taken just where he
wanted her.

Walter was but lightly attired, and without stripping off any more
clothing he placed the life preserver around him, under the arms. "When
the _Merrimac_ goes down, we may not even have the catamaran to fall
back on," he thought.

Boom! It was the report of one of the Spanish guns on shore, and a heavy
shot whizzed over the bridge of the _Merrimac_, where Lieutenant Hobson
and the helmsman were standing, and fell into the waves on the starboard
side. The aim was so close that the wind from the shot carried off the
helmsman's cap!

Other shots soon followed, and in the excitement of the moment Walter's
presence on board was forgotten. The _Merrimac_ was now running at a
tremendous rate of speed, her fires roaring fiercely and her boilers
threatening to burst at any instant. Quivering from stem to stern under
such high pressure, she shot into the harbor entrance and straight for
the narrowest part of the channel. By this time the Spanish guns from
all sides were sending down on her a shower of shot and shell, awful to
contemplate. Seeing he could do nothing, Walter ran for the shelter of
one of the companionways.

"Put the wheel hard a-port!" came the order from the bold commander,
who, if he was excited did not show it. "Lively now!"

"Ay, ay, sir!" came from the helmsman, and the wheel went over, and was
lashed fast.

"She isn't coming over!" came another cry, a moment later, and while
shot and shell were flying, in all directions.

"What's the matter there? Charette, go down and look at the steering
gear."

At once Charette ran off at his best speed. He was gone but a moment,
and came back all out of breath.

"One of the rudder chains has been shot away, sir," he reported.

"Shot away!" came from several. "That's bad."

To this Hobson did not answer, but instantly ordered the engines
stopped. "And open the sea-valves and come up," he added. "There is not
a minute to lose now, lads, if we want to sink her and escape alive."

Morro Castle and the battery opposite had heretofore been firing alone,
but now came shots from Smith Cay, up the harbor, and from a Spanish
warship which was bearing down upon the scene.

"We must fire the mines now!" Walter heard somebody say. "Fire them as
closely together as possible, and then make for the starboard side
amidships."

This order had scarcely been given when the wires attached to the mines
were touched off. A sullen roar from beneath the _Merrimac_ followed,
and the vessel was thrown high up in the air, while great columns of
water spouted up on every side. Then slowly but surely the collier began
to sink.



CHAPTER XVIII

WALTER'S ADVENTURE ON SHORE


Although the _Merrimac_ had been blown up and was sinking, the Spaniards
continued to fire upon her without interruption, and as before, the air
was filled with solid shot, bursting shells, and the whistling of leaden
messengers from rapid-firing rifles.

The order to gather at the starboard was a wise one, for this spot was
the best protected on the deck, as the port side was settling rapidly.
To take to a small boat or the catamaran would have been the height of
foolishness, for a strong searchlight was being thrown on the scene, and
the men would have been picked off by the Spanish gunners at will.

With the others Walter rushed to starboard and found a hiding-place
close to the rail. "I wonder what will happen next," he muttered. He was
certain that something would take place very soon, for the waves of the
harbor channel were already rolling over a portion of the _Merrimac's_
deck.

A few anxious minutes passed, when suddenly the doomed collier gave a
heavy list to starboard, and Walter found himself sliding along the rail
and unable to stop himself.

"Hold on!" shouted somebody. "Who is that?"

Still weak, and with the flying spray drenching his face, Walter could
not answer, and in a second more the questioner had disappeared amid the
gloom, smoke, and flying water. Again came a lurch of the collier, and
Walter was hurled flat and sent spinning against the smoke-stack. As he
arose he saw Lieutenant Hobson and his men climbing over the starboard
rail. Realizing, even in his bewildered state of mind, that he could not
do better than to follow them, he, too, made for the rail, going over at
one point as the courageous commander of the expedition went over at
another. The crew were swimming for the catamaran, which had been shoved
off from the _Merrimac's_ side, and Walter came after them. Hardly had
the catamaran been gained, than, with a final lurch and quiver, the
_Merrimac_ went down, partly across the narrow channel, but not exactly
in the position in which she would have been placed had not the rudder
chain been shot away.

[Illustration: WITH A FINAL LURCH THE MERRIMAC WENT DOWN.]

As the craft sank, a yell came from the Spanish battery nearest at hand,
the gunners thinking they had sunk an American man-o'-war and not
dreaming that the sinking had been done by those on board and purposely.
But none of the Americans paid any attention to these cries, all
thinking only of escape, now the work of the night was over.

A steam launch under the command of Ensign Joseph Powell had been moving
up and down the harbor waiting for a chance to pick Hobson and his men
up. But a Spanish picket boat lay between those on the catamaran and the
launch, so escape in this direction was now cut off.

The float was still attached by a long rope to the wreck of the
_Merrimac_, and the men were now ordered to remain where they were,
clinging to the catamaran with only their heads showing above water. "If
you try to swim away, the Spanish sharpshooters will pick you off as
quick as a wink," was the word passed around.

Thus cautioned, all the brave crew remained where they were until
daylight began to show itself. Then a large launch steamed up, carrying
several oarsmen, half a dozen sharpshooters, and Admiral Cervera
himself.

"Do you surrender?" came in Spanish, while every sailor on the catamaran
was carefully covered.

"We surrender as prisoners of war," was Lieutenant Hobson's reply, and
then he and his men were ordered to swim to the launch one at a time and
give up their arms, if they had any. This was done, and the steam launch
returned to the _Reina Mercedes_, one of the Spanish warships. Later on,
Hobson and his men were sent ashore under a strong guard, marched up a
hill to Morro Castle, and turned over to General Toral, the military
governor of Santiago Province.

When he made the leap for the catamaran Walter was not as fortunate as
those around him. He entered the water close to the _Merrimac_, and when
the great collier sank, the suction drew him under, and he went so far
down that he fancied he would never come up. His breath was gone, a gulp
partly filled him with water, and when at last the surface of the bay
was again reached he came up more dead than alive.

He set out to swim instinctively, the life preserver holding him up,
although it had not been light enough to counteract the suction of the
sinking ship. Where he was going he did not know, for the glare of the
searchlight and the splashing of shots on the water was perfectly
bewildering. "I'm lost!" he thought a dozen times. "O God, help me to
get out alive!" And that prayer was answered, for presently his foot
touched bottom and he saw land ahead,--a bit of sandy beach between
Morro Castle and a battery located on Estrella Cove, for the tide was
coming in, and had carried him up the harbor instead of down.

As Walter waded out of the water he heard several pickets shouting to
each other in Spanish. Without waiting for them to come nearer, he dove
out of sight in some bushes back of the beach, and then started to walk
to a woods still further inland.

So far, the intense excitement had kept him up, but now came the
reaction, and he felt as sick as he had while on the _Brooklyn_. His
head began to spin and strange lights flashed before his eyes, while
chills crept up and down his backbone. "I reckon I'm in for a spell of
sickness, whether I escape or not," he groaned, and reaching the woods,
threw himself down under a mahogany tree to rest.

Walter thought he could not sleep, but presently the pain became less
and he sank into a troubled slumber. He roused up to find a tall,
fine-looking negro shaking him. As soon as he opened his eyes, the negro
began to question him in Spanish.

"I can't understand you," said the youth, and shook his head.

"_Americano_, mistair?" questioned the negro, and Walter nodded. "You
come from big fight, maybe?" he went on, brokenly.

"What fight do you mean?"

"Fight down by Morro last night. Spanish sink your ship, maybe, not so?"
And the negro laughed.

"Our men did the sinking. But who are you? a Spaniard?"

"No, me Cuban, Carlos Dunetta."

"My name is Walter Russell, but I suppose it might be Smith for all the
difference it makes to you," replied Walter, moodily. "What do you
intend to do? turn me over to the Spanish authorities?"

"To de Spanish? No, no!" Carlos Dunetta leaned forward. "_Cuba libre!_
'Member de _Maine_! Not so?" And he smiled broadly.

"Now you are talking!" ejaculated Walter, joyfully. "You are an
insurgent, I suppose. Do you belong to General Garcia's troops?"

Again the negro leaned forward. "Carlos Dunetta spy for de general," he
whispered. "Come, want to get away, must hurry!" And he took hold of
Walter's arm.

Their course was directly into the woods, under broad mahogany and
grenadillo trees, and over rough rocks overgrown with rank vines.
Insects and bugs were numerous and spider-webs hung everywhere.

"Udder men all caught and taken to prison," said the Cuban as they
progressed. "I hear dat from udder spy."

"Well, I'm not out of the woods yet," said Walter, seriously.

"Woods safe place in daytime," answered the negro, not catching his true
meaning.

They had progressed less than half a mile when Walter began to lag
behind. "I can't go any farther," he declared. "I've been sick and I'm
about used up."

"Sick? What is de mattair?"

"I don't know--unless it is malarial fever."

At the word "fever" Carlos Dunetta drew down the corners of his broad
mouth. "Fever? Dat is werry bad--_Americano_ canno stand dat. Maybe I
best carry you to Josefina's hut. Josefina she my sistair. She take care
of you if so you be sick."

The tall negro took Walter upon his back with ease and continued on his
way. Presently they reached a trail, and passing along this for the
distance of a hundred yards, came within sight of a long, low hut,
thatched with palm.

The negro gave a peculiar whistle, and immediately a short, fat negro
wench put in an appearance, followed by a man of twenty-five or thirty.
The man was fairly well dressed, and evidently a Cuban of Spanish
descent.

"It is all right, Carlos!" cried the wench. "This is Señor Ramona."

"Señor Ramona!" exclaimed the negro, and rushing up he dropped Walter
and took the out-stretched hand of the Cuban gentleman. A long talk in
Spanish, followed, of which Walter understood hardly a word. Yet he felt
certain the pair were talking about the American warships outside of
the harbor, the blowing up of the _Merrimac_, and about himself.
Suddenly the negro ran back to him, at the same time calling the wench.

"You sick--I forget," he said. "Come; nice bed here." And he pointed to
a grass hammock suspended from one of the rear corner posts of the hut
to a near-by tree. "You lay dare; Josefina make good drink for you; den
you feel bettair."

Walter was glad enough to accept the invitation, for standing unaided
was now out of the question. As soon as he was in the hammock the negro
woman ran off for a wet bandage, which she tied tightly over his
forehead.

Carlos Dunetta evidently had an important message for Señor Ramona, for
no sooner was the talk between the pair at an end, than the Cuban
brought out a horse from the shelter of the trees, and dashed down the
trail at a breakneck speed.

"Me watch, warn you if any Spaniards come," said Carlos, on returning to
Walter's side. "You bettair rest, or get fever werry bad."

"Do you suppose there is any hope of my getting back to my ship?"

"De ship dat blow up?"

"No, a big warship out there," and Walter waved his hand in the
direction of the coast.

At this, the tall negro shrugged his shoulders. "Carlos can take you to
de shore--but no got boat. Maybe you swim, not so?"

"Well, hardly," answered Walter. "I may be a pretty good swimmer, but
four or five miles is too much for any man."

The negro retired, and Walter lay back watching the woman, who had
brought out several bags filled with herbs. Selecting some of the herbs,
the woman steeped them in water, and poured the tea into an earthen
bowl, sweetening the concoction with sugarcane ends. Bringing the bowl
to Walter, she motioned for him to drink.

The youth had expected an unsavory mess, but he found the tea very
pleasant to the taste, and ten minutes after he had taken half the
contents of the bowl he was in a sound slumber, from which he did not
awaken until nearly nightfall. In the meantime Josefina removed the life
preserver and made him otherwise as comfortable as possible, proud to
think she was serving _un Americano_ who was battling against the
enemies of her beloved Cuba.

"You had bettair come into de house now--night air werry bad for you,"
announced Carlos, as Walter sat up in the hammock and stared around him.
"How feel now? weak?"

"I--I dreamed I was back on the _Brooklyn_ and sailing for home," was
the hesitating reply. "My head feels better, but I'm afraid my legs have
gone back on me," Walter went on, as on trying to stand he found he must
support himself against the tree. "This is the queerest spell of
sickness I ever had."

"Never mind--if only so be dat de fever is broken," said Carlos,
seriously. "Come." And he about carried Walter into the hut. Usually
negro huts in Cuba are dirty and full of vermin, but this was an
exception. In her younger days, Josefina had worked for a titled lady of
Santiago, and there had learned cleanliness quite unusual to those of
her standing. In a corner of the hut was a pile of fresh sugarcane husks
covered with a brown spread, and to this she motioned Walter, and here
he rested until the following morning.



CHAPTER XIX

CARLOS, THE REBEL SPY


"Well, I'm not out of my troubles yet, but I suppose I'm better off than
those fellows who were captured and taken off to some Spanish dungeon."

It was Walter who mused thus, as he sat up and rubbed his eyes. The herb
tea Josefina had made for him had "touched the spot" and he felt quite
like himself again. The native Cubans have to fight fevers constantly,
and, consequently, know a great deal about proper remedies.

"Will you eat?" questioned Carlos, who sat by, smoking a cigarette,
while Josefina busied herself in preparing a morning meal of rice-cakes
and strong coffee.

"I haven't much appetite, but I suppose I ought to eat if I want to get
back my strength. But see here," Walter went on. "I can't pay you a cent
for what you are doing for me, for I have no money with me."

"Dat's all right; Josefina and me no want pay--we glad to do for you,"
answered Carlos; and Josefina smiled so broadly that her eyes were
fairly closed.

The rice-cakes were well done, and Walter ate several of them, and also
sipped at the heavy black coffee, sweetened with sugarcane drippings.
The meal over, Carlos leaped up and lit a fresh cigarette.

"You stay here and I go to shore--see if you can get to ship," he said.
"If Spaniards come, Josefina show you where to hide, so no can find
you."

"I'll have to stay, for I can't walk the distance to the shore--yet. By
the way, where am I?"

"Dis place back of Estrella, 'bout halfway to Aguadores, on the Guama
River. Can see warships from mouth of Guama."

"Yes, I've heard of the Guama. Some of the fellows on board ship said we
might capture that point, or Guantanamo Bay, so as to have a place to
coal when the ocean was rough. You are going to the shore?"

"If Spanish pickets let me," grinned Carlos. "Werry strong Spanish guard
around here now. Werry much afraid American soldiers come."

"Perhaps they will come, if Sampson needs help," replied Walter, but
without knowing that the army of invasion at Tampa was already preparing
to leave for Cuba, and his own brother Ben with it.

After Carlos was gone, Walter tried to carry on a conversation with
Josefina, but as the wench's English vocabulary was as limited as was
the boy's knowledge of Spanish, the talk soon lagged. "_Cuba libre!_
'Member de _Maine_!" she said over and over again, and smiled that awful
smile that almost caused Walter to burst into a fit of laughter. During
the morning she made him some more tea and insisted upon his drinking
it, greatly to the benefit of his health and strength, as he soon
realized.

It was growing late in the afternoon, and Walter was wondering when
Carlos would get back, when the sound of a rifle-shot from a distance
startled him. Before he could get to the doorway of the hut, Josefina
was outside and speeding up the trail in the direction her brother had
taken.

"Get back!" It was the voice of Carlos, and he was running beside his
sister, who kept up with him, despite her weight. "The Spaniards are
coming."

"Soldiers?" gasped Walter.

"Yes; ten or fifteen. They caught me going through de pickets, but I
knocked one so, and anodder so, and got away. Come wid me, before da
catch you!" And he took hold of Walter's arm and turned him to the back
of the hut.

Wondering what would happen next, but remembering what had been said
about a hiding-place, the youth followed Carlos to the rear wall of the
structure. Here, directly against the logs, grew a tall ebony tree.

"Dat tree hollow," explained the Cuban. "Climb to limb and drop inside.
Josefina haul us out when Spanish go 'way." And he gave Walter a lift
up.

The lower branches were but twelve feet from the ground, and were easily
gained. Carlos came up also. "Let me drop first," he said. "Den you come
on top of me. Be quick, or too late!" And down he went into darkness,
and Walter came after.

The hollow portion of the tree was not over twenty inches in diameter,
and it was a lucky thing for both inside that neither was stout nor
broad of shoulder. As it was, they stood breast to breast with
difficulty, and yet not daring to make a sound.

A shout came from the trail, sounding in strange contrast to the song
Josefina had begun to sing--an old-fashioned Cuban ditty about a sailor
and his lass. Soon the soldiers drew closer, and several came around to
the side of the hut.

"Ho! within there!" came in Spanish. "Where is that wretch we are
after?"

"Wretch!" answered Josefina, in pretended surprise. "Whom do you mean,
kind sirs?"

"You know well enough--the tall fellow who knocked over our guards and
ran in this direction."

"I have seen nobody; I have been busy washing," answered Josefina,
pointing to a few articles of wearing apparel which lay soaking in a
water-butt.

"You cannot humbug us!" cried the leader of the Spanish detachment, in a
fury. "Tell me where they are, or I'll run you through!" And he ran at
Josefina with pointed sword. It is doubtful if he intended to carry out
his threat, but the wench thought him in earnest, and the yell she gave
would have done credit to a cannibal of the South Sea Islands.

The cry of terror from his sister was more than Carlos Dunetta could
stand, and in a twinkle he placed his hands on Walter's shoulders,
shoved himself upward, and showed himself at the top of the opening.

"Let my sister alone, you dogs!" he burst out. "Let her alone!" And
leaping to the ground, he made after the Spaniard with a drawn machete,
a long knife used in the sugarcane fields and employed by the insurgents
as a favorite weapon.

There was a cry of alarm, and then came two shots in quick succession,
followed by a fall close to the foot of the tree.

"You have killed my brother!" shrieked Josefina. "Oh, Carlos, Carlos,
what shall I do now?"

"Back with you, you good-for-nothing woman!" came from the leader of the
Spanish detachment. "I thought we were on the right trail. We ought to
shoot you for lying to us."

At that moment came a deep groan of pain, showing that Carlos was not
yet dead. He had been shot in the arm and through the back, but the
wounds were not dangerous, although painful.

Without paying attention to what more the Spaniards had to say, Josefina
busied herself over the body of her brother, laying him out on the
grass and binding up his wounds with such rags as were handy. While she
was doing this the Spaniards began an excited conversation among
themselves, of which, of course, Walter understood not a word.

"Your brother had a very convenient hiding-place in the tree," suggested
the leader of the detachment, a greasy, lean-faced corporal, who
rejoiced in the name of Pedro Ruz. "Had he not shown himself, it is
doubtful if we should have located him."

"You are bad men to shoot him--I want nothing to do with you," was
Josefina's only response. "Go--and leave my brother to me."

"Leave him here!" burst out Pedro Ruz. "No, no, he goes with us as a
prisoner. If I am not mistaken, he is the spy Captain Coleo has been
after these many days."

"You cannot take him away--a journey will kill him."

"He must go--whether it kills him or not. He can ride on the back of the
horse one of my men is bringing up. Captain Coleo will want to interview
him before nightfall. And let me tell you, if it is discovered that he
has been carrying information to the rebels or those Yankee pigs out in
the waters beyond the bay, why, so much the worse for him, that's all."
And Corporal Ruz shrugged his shoulders suggestively.

In a moment more the horse was brought forward, a beast as lean as its
owner, since fodder in that territory was becoming a scarce article.
Since Carlos could not move himself, he was lifted up to the saddle in
anything but a gentle fashion. Josefina began to expostulate, but the
only attention paid to her was by one of the men, who snatched at her
arm and hurled her backward.

"You must learn to mind your betters," said the soldier. "Our worthy
corporal knows his business."

"I will search the man, to see if he carries any despatches," put in
Corporal Ruz. "Ha, you rascal, let me get at that breast pocket of
yours. And, Camara, climb up into the tree and look into that hole.
There may be something worth finding there."



CHAPTER XX

IN THE HANDS OF THE ENEMY


As Walter did not understand what was said, he was not aware of his
peril until the Spanish soldier began to climb the tree. Then he
realized the truth, and his heart sank within him.

"It's all up with me now," he half groaned. "I wonder what they will do
with me after they find me."

Reaching the top of the opening, the soldier paused and shouted
something to his companions regarding the darkness of the hole below.

"Light a match and drop it down," ordered Corporal Ruz. "This rascal
carries nothing," he went on, disappointedly, having found Carlos's
pockets empty of anything of value. The negro did carry a message, but
it was on a small patch of thin paper, which had been rolled up tightly
and concealed in his thick woolly hair.

The match was lit and dropped, and all ablaze it landed upon Walter's
head. He caught it in silence and put it out, but the movement was
noticed from above.

"There is some one else in the tree--a white man," cried the soldier.
"Come out of that!" he continued.

Walter guessed what the command meant, and as further concealment would
have been useless he attempted to crawl from the hole. But this was not
so easy, and in the end the soldier had to lend a hand, and then both
leaped to the ground together.

"_Un Americano!_" ejaculated Corporal Ruz. "_De donde viene V.?_" he
added, asking Walter where he came from.

At this the boy shook his head. "I don't understand you," he said.

"_No habla V. castellano?_" continued the corporal, asking if he did not
speak Spanish.

Again Walter shook his head.

"Yankee pig!" murmured the corporal, using a term quite common in Cuba
during the war. "Why does he not learn our beautiful language? Does he
expect we will learn his dirty English?"

He turned to the soldier who had discovered Walter, and between them
they searched the lad's clothing thoroughly, and even took off his
shoes and stockings.

"Nothing," growled the under-officer. "It is strange."

Carlos had been almost unconscious, but was now recovering. "We are in
serious trouble, I am afraid," said Walter, addressing him; but Carlos
pretended not to understand, not wishing the Spaniards to know that he
spoke English, for then they would have been more certain than ever that
he was a spy.

In a few minutes the entire party had left the hut and was making its
way along the trail, Carlos on horseback and the others walking, Walter
between the corporal and a Spanish private, and Josefina bringing up in
the rear as if unwilling to leave her brother.

The soldiers were eight in number, and each was armed with a Mauser
rifle of recent pattern. They were a hungry-looking set and their
uniforms were sadly in need of repair. Six were of middle age, but the
other two were no older than Walter, for conscription into the Spanish
army begins at as early an age as it does in the navy--some of the
soldiers and sailors being scarcely fifteen to sixteen years old!

The course of the party was upward, over rocks and trailing vines, and
through a woods where hardly a breath of air was stirring. The heat soon
made Walter's head ache again, and he was glad enough when a small
Spanish camp was gained and he was allowed to sit down in the shade of a
plantain and rest.

The encampment was in the open, the only shelter being that provided for
the officer in charge, Captain Coleo--a bit of dilapidated canvas
stretched between four trees fifteen or twenty feet apart. Under this
shelter were located a couple of hammocks, a small folding table for
writing, and a camp chair.

Walter found Captain Coleo a thorough gentleman despite his
surroundings. He was well educated and spoke English fluently, with a
soft accent which under other circumstances would have been quite
pleasing.

"So you are an American youth?" he said, after he had listened to his
corporal's report and examined Carlos. "And where did you come from, and
what are you doing here?"

Feeling there would be no use in concealing the truth, Walter told his
story. At the mentioning of the _Merrimac_ the Spanish captain's brow
grew dark.

"It was a brave deed, but it will do your countrymen small good," he
said. "The boat is not directly across the channel, so the harbor pilots
have discovered. All of your comrades are now prisoners in Morro Castle,
and I presume that is where I shall have to send you."

"As a prisoner of war?"

"As a prisoner of war. And you can be thankful that in trying to escape
you were not shot down," continued Captain Coleo.

Walter was very thirsty, and said so. "You look as if you were getting
ready to have the fever," was the captain's comment, and he had a
soldier bring Walter a tin cup full of _guarapo_, water sweetened with
sugarcane ends, and said to be healthier than the plain article. Good
water in Cuba is scarce, and although Walter did not know it, it was
only the captain's natural good-heartedness that obtained for him what
he wanted.

It had threatened rain for some hours, and as nightfall came on, the
first drops of a violent tropical storm descended. Soon from a distance
came the rumble of thunder, and spasmodic flashes of lightning lit up
the woods. The soldiers huddled under the shelter of a clump of low
trees, while Captain Coleo sought the protection of the canvas,
accompanied by Walter, Carlos, and a guard. Walter's hands had been
bound behind him, and he was allowed to sit on a small block of wood
beside one of the hammocks in which the wounded negro reclined.

"We will not move to Santiago to-night," said the Spanish captain. "I
think the storm will clear away by morning."

He was busy making out a report, and sat at his little table for the
purpose, a spluttering Mambi taper fastened to a stick driven into the
soil being his only light. The taper went out half a dozen times, but
there was nothing to do but to light it again, and this Captain Coleo
did without the least show of impatience. To him war was a business, and
he was satisfied to take matters just as they came.

The guard trudged around and around the patch covered by the canvas, his
rifle on his shoulder and the never-failing Spanish cigarette in his
mouth. Occasionally he glanced toward Walter and the negro, but his
interest in the prisoners soon gave way to his own discomforts, and he
gave them no more attention.

Presently Walter felt a hand steal over his shoulder. "What you
think--we run for it, maybe?" whispered Carlos.

"I'd like to run, but we may get shot," whispered Walter in return.

At this Carlos shrugged his shoulders. With two Mauser bullets in him
the tall negro rebel was still "game." It was such men as he who had
kept this unequal warfare in Cuba going for three long years despite
Spain's utmost endeavors to end the conflict.

"Raise up a bit and I untie rope," he said, as the guard made another
round and walked from them. "Maybe we can go when big thunder and
lightning come--not so?"

"All right--I'll go you," cried Walter, lowly, and in a bit of Western
slang. "A fellow can't die but once, and I have no desire to be taken to
the dungeon of Morro Castle, or to any other Spanish lockup."

He raised up, and in a trice Carlos had the cords about his wrists
unloosened. Captain Coleo still sat writing. But now the taper went out
again and he paused to relight it.

At that instant came a blinding flash of lightning and a loud peal of
thunder which startled the few horses the camp possessed and caused them
to prance about madly. "Now!" cried Carlos, and with one quick leap he
cleared six feet of ground between the hammock and the nearest patch of
woods. Walter also leaped, and away they went side by side through the
wind, rain, and darkness.

Crack! crack! It was the reports of two Mausers, and the ping of a
bullet from the Spanish captain's pistol followed. Walter felt a strange
whistling by his ear, and putting up his hand found it covered with
blood. The bullet from the pistol had scratched the side of his head.
Had his aim been an inch closer, gentlemanly Captain Coleo would have
killed the youth on the spot.

"You are hit?" queried Carlos, breathing heavily, for loss of blood had
made him weak.

"I--I reckon it's not much!" panted Walter. "But hurry up--they are
coming after us!"

The boy was right; both the captain and the guard were following the
pair with all possible speed, while three others brought up in the
rear, the other soldiers remaining behind to manage the horses, three
of which had broken their tethers and were bounding down the trail at a
breakneck speed.

Could he manage to escape? Such was the one question which Walter asked
himself as he stumbled on in the darkness. A very few minutes would
suffice to answer the all-important query.



CHAPTER XXI

THE FLIGHT TO THE SEACOAST


Carlos knew the wood well, and now he took hold of Walter's hand. "Put
udder arm up, or get hurt maybe," he said. "Nasty trees around here."
And Walter found this was true, for presently a low and twisted branch
caught him and flung him flat on his back. Had his arm been down he must
have been knocked senseless.

The Spanish captain and the guard came crashing along behind them,
shouting "_Alto!_" (Halt) at the top of their lungs. Captain Coleo was
very much chagrined that they had gotten away so easily, and blamed the
guard roundly. The latter did not dare to answer back, and felt he must
catch the fleeing prisoners or suffer for it.

The course had been straight ahead, but now Carlos turned to the
southward. Presently they came to a halt at the edge of a mountain
torrent. The pursuers were still on the track and drawing closer.

"Jump and go ahead; I will come after," panted Carlos, who could run no
more. "Don't wait!" he added, as he saw Walter hesitate.

"But yourself--" began Walter.

"Never mind--go!" broke in the negro; and Walter made the leap over the
stream and ran on. Instantly Carlos sought the shelter of a near-by tree
and became silent.

"I do not see them, _capitan_," observed the guard, as he and Captain
Coleo reached the spot. "Have they crossed, do you think?"

"I will see, Rampo," was the answer, and the captain hurried on in the
direction Walter had taken. Scarcely was he out of sight than with set
teeth Carlos came forth from the shadow of the tree and crawled up
behind Rampo as silently as a panther seeking its prey. A quick, nervous
clutch and the negro had the soldier's Mauser. Then came a heavy swing
of the butt, and with hardly a groan the Spanish guard went down with a
broken skull. "_Cuba libre!_" muttered Carlos, grimly. "That for Maceo,
our fallen hero!" referring to Antonio Maceo, the patriot who had led
the rebels in eastern Cuba for several years, only to be shot down at
last in ambush.

In the meantime Walter ran on, not knowing where he was going, and
hardly caring, if only his liberty might be assured to him. Occasionally
a flash of lightning lit up the scene, but this only served to make the
general darkness more intense. Soon his foot caught in an exposed
tree-root, and he went headlong, and rolled over and over to the bottom
of a hollow filled with rank vegetation, foul-smelling moss, and
brackish water.

Before he could collect his scattered senses he heard the Spanish
captain coming up. He arose slowly to his feet, but, struck by a sudden
idea, remained in the hollow, ankle-deep in water, and screened from
view by the vegetation previously mentioned.

A flash of lightning revealed the captain and at the same time uncovered
the youth. For a second both stood spellbound, then the Spaniard drew
his pistol.

"Surrender!" he shouted; and the former mildness in his tone of voice
was now missing. "Surrender, or I'll shoot you where you stand."

[Illustration: "SURRENDER, OR I'LL SHOOT YOU WHERE YOU STAND."]

"Don't shoot," answered Walter, readily. "I'll come out."

"Where is that Cuban rebel?"

"I don't know."

"You don't know? Ha! don't fool with me, lad--I am in no humor for it
now."

"Well, I don't know, and that is all there is to it. We separated
several minutes ago."

"I do not believe you--he is hiding somewhere in the hollow. Tell me
where, or as sure as I stand here, I will put a bullet through your
head." And the pistol was aimed straight at Walter.

Before the youth could remonstrate, indeed, before he had time to think,
the crack of a Mauser penetrated the damp air. A second of silence
followed, and then, to Walter's amazement, Captain Coleo sank down where
he stood, a ball through his brain.

"I hit him! what a fine shot!" The words came from Carlos, as he emerged
into the opening, the rifle still in hand. "That makes number two, for
de udder rascal is laid low with a broken head. Señor, we are in luck,
but let us make de most of our chance."

"But--but--is he dead?" asked Walter, in a hoarse whisper. To him such a
proceeding seemed little less than murder.

"Dead? To be sure he is dead. But don't let dat worry you. See de blood
on your left ear, where he tried to serve you as I served him. Come,
before de udder soldiers arrive." And, catching Walter by the arm,
Carlos hurried him away.

"And this is war!" thought the boy. "Oh, how cruel! how barbarous! But
Carlos is right, the captain tried to kill me." He drew a long breath.
"I'm glad I wasn't the one to knock him over."

The pair had gone on about a hundred yards further when they came out on
a broad highway, used principally as an ox-team road. Here Carlos called
a halt again, to get his breath and take a view of the situation.

"Hark--a horse come!" he ejaculated suddenly, and slipped a cartridge
into the Mauser rifle, for he had taken the ammunition box from the dead
soldier. "Back, out of sight--ah!"

Walter ran to the shelter of a tree. But at the same time the negro
bounded forward, throwing the rifle to the ground. It was no horseman
approaching, only one of the animals that had broken away during the
heavy thunder and lightning. Making a clutch at the beast's bridle,
Carlos held fast and brought the horse to a sudden halt.

"We in luck," he observed, as Walter came out of hiding. "Mount wid me,
and we'll soon be miles away!"

"You get into the saddle, and I'll ride behind," answered Walter, who
saw how weak Carlos now was. And thus they went on until several miles
had been covered. Presently, from a distance, the youth heard the
booming of the surf.

"Is that from the seacoast?" he asked; and the negro nodded. "And where
are we?"

"We close to de ocean, two or three miles east from San Juan hill. We
stop pretty soon--werry much tired." And Carlos closed his eyes. He
would have fallen from the horse had not Walter held him fast. "Turn to
left at first cross-road," he muttered, and then fainted.

"Poor chap!" thought the boy. "He kept up well, with two bullets in him.
I must do what I can for him." And he urged the horse on, at the same
time keeping his eyes open for the side road mentioned. Soon it came
into view, and five minutes later he found himself at the entrance to a
hut similar to that occupied by Josefina, who had now disappeared
entirely from the scene. Beyond the hut the road lost itself in a
wilderness of small brush.

The hoof-strokes of the horse had been observed, and soon several men,
Cubans and negroes, came from the building. "Carlos!" cried several.
They turned to Walter. "What does this mean, señor?" came in Spanish.

"Spaniards," answered Walter, and pointed behind him. Then he pointed to
the gun and to the wounds Carlos had received, and also showed his own
bloody ear and scalp.

The dumb language was instantly comprehended, and two men carried the
unconscious negro into the hut, while others took charge of the horse
and conducted Walter inside. The lad found the small abode crowded with
insurgents, who had come in to escape the drenching rain, and the air
was heavy with the smoke of cigarettes and the smell of a stew seasoned
with garlic, which was cooking over a lire in the rear. A constant flow
of conversation was kept up, of which he understood only an occasional
word.

Poor Carlos was in a bad way, and by morning it was easy to see he could
be removed only with difficulty. Yet he was cheerful, or tried to be so,
and smiled when Walter came to him.

"I have news for you," he said, in his broken English. "Your warships
fight, bang, bang, bang! down by the water, at Aguadores and udder
places. Think ships go up by Guantanamo Bay, maybe. If sailors land, you
have a chance to join them--not so?"

"I just hope some of our boys do land, and that right away!" cried
Walter. "Can't I get somebody to show me the way to the seacoast?"

"Gilberto, my brudder, show the way. But not to-day. Maybe to-morrow or
next day--when it is safe."

Gilberto had just come in; a stout negro as short as his brother was
long, but a rebel fighter to the core. He, too, could speak a little
English and said he had been a sailor.

"Sail from Santiago to Philadelphia twice with ore," he said. "Very nice
country, America; me like de people. Only werry cold in winter; no like
dat--make go dis way." And he gave a shiver. Later on, Walter learned
that the entire district was rich in minerals and that large quantities
of these were shipped from Santiago and from a near-by town called
Baiquiri.

The day passed slowly, and so did the next. In the meanwhile the Cubans
came and went. They were a detachment of Garcia's army, the main body of
which was located many miles further northward. They were watching the
seacoast and trying to communicate with the American ships of war, which
could be seen on fair days lying in the offing. They knew that once a
landing was effected by the Americans, Uncle Sam would speedily supply
them with what they so greatly needed--clothing, guns, and ammunition.
Once these were obtained, they felt that they could secure their
independence. They had yet to learn that the trained soldiers of Spain
could be conquered only by the equally, or better, trained soldiers of
the States.

On the morning of the third day, and while they could distinctly hear
the sounds of heavy firing in the vicinity of Morro Castle and the
Estrella battery, Walter and Gilberto started off, each on horseback.
The youth felt once more like himself, for the Cubans had continued to
give him drinks of herbs which had entirely banished the lurking fever
in his system. Before leaving Walter heard from the negress Josefina.
She had escaped injury, and fled to the northward, there to join a
great number of women and children, the wives and young people of the
insurgents.

The course lay along a stretch of tableland and then up the side of a
small mountain. At one point on the mountain top there was a clearing,
and here a distant view could be obtained of the ocean to the south of
the "Pearl of the Antilles," as Cuba had often been termed.

"Your ship's over dare," explained Gilberto, pointing with his long
fingers. "Might see dem if we had glass like dis." And he shut up one
hand and placed it over the other, in imitation of a spyglass.

"Do the Spaniards guard the coast?"

"To be sure, señor, very heaby guard, too, at Aguadores and Guantanamo
Bay."

"Then we'll have to go slow when we get near the water's edge."

"We no go to water right away, señor--wait till we see de coast clear.
Gilberto find you good hiding-place and bring eating, and there you stay
till I say come--not so?"

"I suppose that will be best. I'm sure I don't want to be taken prisoner
again," concluded Walter, very positively.

On they went, down the opposite side of the mountain. They were now
travelling in an easterly direction, and before night many miles were
covered. At last they came to a series of rocks overlooking the ocean,
but situated at least a quarter of a mile back from the beach proper.

"Here is a good place to hide; Gilberto know it well," said the guide,
and pointed out a rude cave. "Here _Americano_ can stay many days and
Spaniards not find him. You take it easy, and I bring food to you." And
then Gilberto hurried off alone.

Walter was glad to rest, for the travelling even on horseback had been
very trying. He sat down, and in half an hour Gilberto returned with
some bread, some jerked beef, and a number of other eatables, done up in
a bit of coffee sacking.

"Dere, dat last two, t'ree days," said the guide. "Now lay low, as
_Americano_ say, and Gilberto come back one day or udder. I take horses,
and say _buenas noches_." And with this good night, Gilberto disappeared
down the trail, leaving Walter to himself. Strange as it may seem, the
youth never saw or heard of either Gilberto or Carlos again.



CHAPTER XXII

THE LANDING OF THE MARINES AT GUANTANAMO


While Walter was in the depths of the Cuban wilderness, trying to escape
from the Spanish soldiers, history, so far as it concerned our war with
Spain, was moving forward rapidly.

As soon as it was felt that Cervera could not escape from Santiago Bay
without running the risk of a fearful battle with Admiral Sampson's or
Commodore Schley's squadron, preparations were made to send an army of
invasion forward.

For such an army a safe landing-place must be secured, and with this in
view, the American warships began the bombardment of various places
along the coast, from Santiago Bay to Guantanamo Bay, twenty odd miles
farther eastward.

The first of these heavy bombardments took place on the sixth of June,
and was directed against Morro Castle, the batteries at Punta Gorda and
Zocapa, and at the village of Aguadores, already mentioned. Aguadores
is several miles to the eastward of Santiago Bay, to the rear of the
rocky promontory upon which Morro Castle is located, and it was felt
that if once a footing could be obtained here, the actual invasion by
the soldiers would become an easy matter. The bombardment lasted many
hours, and the various batteries were much damaged and the Spanish
warship, the _Reina Mercedes_, was so badly riddled that she was later
on sunk in the channel, thus blocking the outlet to the bay more
completely than ever. No damage was done to the American ships.

Through this bombardment a landing was effected at Baiquiri, not far
from Aguadores, by a small body of marines, who burned up some Spanish
stores and spiked a number of old-fashioned guns.

Following this attack came one upon Guantanamo and the other settlements
clustered around the shores of the bay of that name. Here the fighting
was as fierce as before, but before it was over a body of marines from
the _Oregon_ were landed, and later on came six hundred marines from the
_Panther_. The Spaniards stood their ground for only a short while and
then fled to the mountains, and the American flag was hoisted amid a
wild cheering from the troops at hand and those on the warships. No
sooner had the landing-places at Guantanamo, Baiquiri, and Aguadores
been secured than the army of invasion under General Shafter left Key
West for these points, the particulars of which expedition have already
been related in "A Young Volunteer in Cuba."

Walter slept "like a rock" during the first night in the cave, being
thoroughly exhausted by his long ride. He did not awaken until long
after the sun had come up, and for the moment could not realize where he
was.

A scanty breakfast was speedily despatched, and he walked out to inspect
his surroundings. Mindful of what Gilberto had told him about the enemy,
he was careful how he exposed himself, and at the first sign of anything
suspicious he ran to cover.

Thus the day passed away slowly. In vain he tried to make out some of
the warships far out at sea. To his naked eye they were but specks on
that ceaseless tide which glared like molten lead in the fierce rays of
the sun.

On the following night the youth underwent a curious experience. He had
just thrown himself down to rest when, without warning, the cave was
filled with a light that was dazzling. Thinking a fire must have
suddenly descended upon him, he leaped up, when, as silently as it had
come, the light disappeared.

"Now, what in the world does that mean?" he asked himself, and started
for the cave opening, when, swish! the light came back, almost blinding
him. Then he understood it all.

"It's a searchlight from one of our ships!" he cried, half aloud. "If
only they could see me and take me on board!" He watched for the light
to reappear, but it never showed itself again, being trained upon Morro
Castle and the entrance to Santiago Harbor.

On the third day in the cave Walter's stock of provisions gave out. No
one had come near him, and the loneliness of his situation was
maddening.

"I can't stand this any longer," he mused. "I must get out, if only to
hunt for something to eat."

Fortunately for him, Gilberto had left him a pistol and several rounds
of cartridges. To be sure, the weapon was an old-fashioned affair, but
it was better than nothing, and soon the youth was out in the woods to
the rear of the rocks trying to scare up something to shoot.

The woods had been well ransacked by both Spaniards and Cubans, but
several hours' hunt yielded two birds, besides some half-ripe plantains
and some nuts. Walter was about to return to the cave to cook the birds
when from a distance he heard loud shouting, and presently came the
rapid discharge of firearms.

"A battle of some kind is on," he thought, and ran to where he had
discovered an ox-cart trail. He had scarcely reached the shelter of a
clump of bushes, when a detachment of Cubans, closely followed by two
companies of Spanish cavalrymen, rushed past, both parties firing as
they moved.

"This is getting hot," thought the youth, and started to retreat, when
he heard more soldiers coming from the direction of the cave. As there
now seemed no help for it, he crossed the trail and plunged along a side
path, leading eastward,--a trail running directly to Guantanamo.

Walter felt that the best thing to be done was to put distance between
himself and his enemies, and he did not stop running until several miles
had been covered. He had, meanwhile, crossed one small mountain stream,
and now he found himself on the bank of another. There was no bridge,
and the watercourse looked rather dangerous to ford.

"I might as well follow the bank down to the ocean," he reasoned. "But I
must have something to eat first." And finding a secluded nook, he built
a tiny fire and broiled his two little birds, both of which made hardly
a meal. Then, obtaining the purest drink possible from the river, he
continued his journey.

By nightfall Walter had covered many miles, yet no ocean came to view,
and now he felt that he must be lost in the wilds of the island. As this
conclusion forced itself home to him he smiled grimly.

"Lost in Cuba, and I came down here to help man a gun on the
_Brooklyn_," he muttered. "Was there ever such a turning-around before!
I wonder what I had best do next."

This was not an easy question to answer. It was already dark under the
thick trees, and to spend the night in such a spot was not pleasant to
contemplate.

At last he came to a clearing. Here he was about to settle down, under
the shelter of a small cliff of rocks, when something appeared that
caused him to yell with all the strength of his lungs. It was a snake,
five feet long, and it advanced rapidly, hissing as it came.

Walter had met snakes before, harmless reptiles not half as big as the
present one. But he did not know but that this reptile might be
poisonous, and gaining the top of the rocks he blazed away with the
pistol, not once, but several times. The last shot hit the snake in the
tail, and away it darted, out of sight and into the river.

"Ugh! what a horrible creature!" he murmured, as he stood still,
watching for the possible reappearance of the reptile. "I wish I was out
of this. I'd give a year's wages to be safe on board of the _Brooklyn_
once more."

The words had just left Walter's lips, when he heard a movement behind
him. Turning swiftly, he beheld a Spanish soldier gazing at him from a
distance of less than fifty feet. The soldier had his rifle, and now the
weapon was aimed at the boy's head.

"_Alto!_" came the Spanish command to halt. "_Americano!_"

Walter's surprise was complete, yet he kept his wits about him. As the
Spaniard raised his gun, the youth made a quick leap for the shelter of
a near-by tree.

Bang! went the Mauser, and the bullet clipped the tree bark. Then Walter
took aim, and trembling in spite of himself, pulled the trigger of his
pistol. The enemy was hit in the shoulder, and uttered a deep cry of
pain.

"If there are others with him I'm in for it now!" thought the boy, and
took to his heels along the bank of the watercourse. From behind came a
cry for help and another to arms, and in less than a minute a whole
company of Spaniards were in wild pursuit. A dozen shots rang out, but
Walter was not hit, and plunged on. But he was no match for his
pursuers, and they gradually drew closer and closer. Then the youth
stumbled and fell, and ere he could arise he found himself surrounded.



CHAPTER XXIII

IN A SPANISH PRISON


The Spaniards who had taken Walter a prisoner were the most villanous
the youth had ever beheld. They were all short, thin, and exceedingly
yellow, as though suffering from tropical complaints, and looked more
than half starved. Their clothing was in rags, for they had been in the
wilds of the island, thousands of miles from home, for nearly two years,
and a heartless, or poverty-stricken, military department had failed to
supply them with what they absolutely needed.

None of them could speak English, and several talked volubly in Spanish,
at which Walter could do nothing but shake his head and shrug his
shoulders. He was motioned to arise, and as he did so his pistol was
taken from him, and presently his hands were fastened tightly behind his
back.

The course of the party was along the river to a rude bridge, over which
Walter was marched in double-quick time. They emerged upon a narrow
highway, along which they encountered half a dozen detached Spanish
companies, some moving eastward and others in the opposite direction.
"I'm in for it now," thought the youth. "Escaping from this crowd will
be out of the question."

Night was well advanced when they turned into a small settlement
fronting Guantanamo Bay. Here were half a dozen log houses thatched with
palm, while not far off was the office of a mineral company, now
deserted by the proprietors, for business in this section of Cuba had
long since come to a standstill.

Without ceremony Walter was taken to one of the log huts and thrust
inside. The place was scarcely twenty feet square and was crowded with
fifteen or sixteen insurgents, whites and negroes, who huddled on the
floor, making themselves as comfortable as possible in their miserable
surroundings. On the outside of the hut eight Spanish soldiers stood on
guard, with rifles ready to shoot down the first prisoner that attempted
to escape.

"_Un Americano!_" exclaimed one of the prisoners, a bright looking
Cuban, as he edged his way to Walter's side. "You are in a sorry plight,
boy."

"What a vile-smelling place!" murmured Walter. "How long have you been
here?"

"Two days and nights, with only some stale bread and soup to eat,--and
the soup was made of mouldy meat. Oh, that we were free!"

"_Silencio!_" roared one of the guards, and poked his rifle end into the
doorway. "I will shoot the first prisoner who dares to speak again!" he
added in Spanish.

Walter wished to question him, but did not dare, and so remained silent.
It was past midnight, and presently most of the prisoners went to sleep.
Huddled in a corner, the lad gave himself up to his dismal reflections.

Daybreak found the Spanish soldiers very active, and catching a glimpse
of them through the open doorway, Walter felt that some important
movement was contemplated. As a matter of fact the marines from the
_Panther_ had landed, and the Spaniards were going to do their best to
either capture them or drive them back to our warships.

Before noon the firing in the distance was heavy, and the Spaniards
could be seen rushing their commands hither and thither, as though
hardly knowing how to conduct the campaign which had been thrust upon
them. Evidently they realized that landing force was too large for them,
for they gradually fell back, occupying that night the settlement where
the prison was located.

On the day following, the attack upon both sides was renewed. The rattle
of musketry was almost constant, and before long several bullets hit the
prison itself. The prisoners were about to remonstrate at this when, on
looking out, they discovered that their late guards had fled, leaving
them to do as they pleased.

"_Cuba libre!_" yelled the insurgents and lost no time in piling into
the open air. Not far away lay several dead Spaniards, and rushing up to
the corpses they stripped them of their arms, after which they
disappeared into the brush.

"I wonder if the army of invasion has come," was Walter's thought, as
he, too, sought the open air. A short sword lay beside a writing-table
under a near-by shelter, and he appropriated the weapon. "I'm going to
join our men or know the reason why!" And away he went toward the water,
which could now be seen quite plainly between the rocks and hills.

The marines, after fighting from early afternoon until the following
morning, were now intrenched on a small hill, protected in front by a
dense chaparral. They were utterly worn out, and it was found necessary
to reënforce them by men from the _Marblehead_ and other vessels.
Several field-guns had been brought ashore, and although the firing from
the Spaniards was heavy, our gallant men held the ground they had first
claimed.

"Halt! Who comes there?" came the command, from a thicket, and Walter
stopped short, although the words, spoken in true English, filled him
with joy.

"Are you an American?" questioned the youth, eagerly.

"I am, and who are you?"

"Walter Russell, cruiser _Brooklyn_. Oh, but am I not glad to get back
among the boys again!"

"From the _Brooklyn_? What are you doing ashore here?" questioned the
marine, a bronzed but evidently a good-natured man of middle age.

"It's a long story. I've been a prisoner twice, and I was afraid I was
about done for when the guards up and ran away from the prison and let
me and a crowd of Cubans escape. How can I get back to my ship?"

"You're asking me too much now. Go down yonder and report to our
commander. I reckon there ain't no call to rouse up the corporal of the
guard, with everybody utterly worn out. You're true blue--I can see that
by the cut of your jib."

Inside of five minutes more Walter found himself surrounded by half a
dozen officers, including a major of marines, who questioned him closely
regarding his adventures and concerning the various detachments of
Spanish soldiers that he had encountered.

"You've been through a good deal, lad," said the major, slapping Walter
on the shoulder. "I dare say you wouldn't like to go through it again."

"No, indeed! The Spaniards are--are brutes!" exclaimed the youth. "I
only hope we send them from Cuba a-flying. I think they and the Cubans
must have been fighting for the past three years like a lot of cats and
dogs. It's high time Uncle Sam took a hand." This reply brought forth a
hearty laugh from those gathered around. Walter, young as he was, had
hit the nail right on the head, as later events proved.

The major of marines did not see how the lad could be transferred to
the _Brooklyn_, which was a good many miles off, in the direction of
Santiago. "You'll have to remain here until some boat bound for
Commodore Schley's flagship chances along," he said. "At present only
the _Marblehead_, _Suwanee_, and _Porter_ are here, but others are
coming and going constantly."

"And what of the army of invasion?" asked Walter, with keen interest.

"I believe it has already left Key West. I know it started from Tampa
several days ago."

"Was the Seventy-first New York with the troops?"

"They were. Why do you ask?"

"My brother is a member of that regiment. Hurrah! He'll be down here
soon," concluded Walter.

He was now dismissed, and lost no time in hunting up one of the marines'
cooks, who speedily filled him up with meat, bread and butter, and
coffee. "We're not living like kings, you see," said the cook, but
grinning to see how the food disappeared.

"You're living like kings in comparison to the way the Cubans and the
Spaniards are living. If the army comes up and besieges Santiago, I'll
wager the city will go hungry in no time," returned the boy.

During the balance of the day the marines were kept busy resisting
several additional attacks from the Spaniards. The onslaughts were heavy
and determined, but each time the enemy was beaten back, and at
nightfall Old Glory still waved from the flagstaff where it had
originally been run up. A foothold had been gained by our side which was
not to be taken from us.

Walter had selected a cosy corner to rest in and was sleeping soundly
when a sudden alarm rang out. "The Dons! They are coming over a thousand
strong! To arms, everybody!" And then came a grand rush.

The report was true; the Spanish column had organized a midnight attack,
feeling they knew the ground much better in the dark than would their
opponents. On they came, yelling like demons, while the marines stood
their ground firmly and fearlessly.

"I must do my share of fighting," thought the boy, and bounced up with
the rest. He had already been supplied with a carbine and ammunition,
and now he lost no time in attaching himself to the nearest company at
hand. "Don't send me back, captain; I can shoot as well as the rest, I
think."

"All right, lad, come on," was the answer. "Company, attention! By
columns of fours--forward, march!" And away they went, up a small hill.
Then came the order to halt, and the company broke up into a broad
skirmish line. "Take aim! Fire!" And then and there Walter did his first
actual fighting for Uncle Sam and our own glorious stars and stripes.

The determined front shown by our marines non-plussed the Spaniards for
a few minutes, and they came to a halt. But then they advanced again,
and the fire from each side became hot and irregular.

The battle had thus waged for the best part of an hour, and the
Americans felt that they must be beaten back by sheer force of numbers,
when reënforcements came up, and in addition one of the warships steamed
close to shore, and threw the rays of her powerful searchlight upon the
enemy. As soon as the Spaniards were located the warship trained its
rapid-firing guns inland, and then the enemy beat a hasty retreat.

"Hurrah! The fight is ours!" shouted Walter, enthusiastically. "See them
run!"

"It was lucky for us the warship came up," put in a marine beside him.
"Those dagos ain't going to give ground without a big fight, that's
certain."

It was nearly daylight when the company returned to the camp and was
dismissed. Walter was more worn out than ever, but too excited to sleep.
"At present I'd just as lief be a marine," he observed to his side
partner in the contest.

"Oh, don't worry, your ships will have their hands full when Cervera
takes it into his head to come out and fight," was the answer. "You'll
have no such walkover as Dewey had at Manila--I'll promise you that."

At noon a lieutenant of marines came up to where Walter stood, watching
a drill which was in progress. "Are you Walter Russell, of the
_Brooklyn_?" he asked.

"I am, sir," and Walter saluted.

"Then you had better hurry down to the shore. There is a steam launch
there, and I heard the officer in command say he was bound for the
_Iowa_ and the _Brooklyn_. If you want to get on your ship, I presume he
will take you along."

Walter waited to hear no more, but ran for the landing-place with all
possible speed. The boat had come in with despatches and was to leave
again inside of ten minutes. The officer in charge was close at hand,
and the youth's situation was speedily explained.

"All right, I'll take you," was the brief answer. "Go aboard and
forward." And the officer turned away. Walter did as directed; and a few
minutes later the steam launch left the landing-place and steamed down
Guantanamo Bay toward the ocean, or to be more particular perhaps, the
Caribbean Sea.



CHAPTER XXIV

BACK TO THE "BROOKLYN" AGAIN


The steam launch was the neatest craft of the kind Walter had ever seen,
and he had come in contact with a great number while sailing on Lake
Erie. It was fifty-five feet long, about twelve feet wide, and as
beautiful a boat as a designer could plan. It was manned by eight
stalwart men, all well drilled to their duties, and carried in addition
six marines, each of whom was a sharpshooter, and also a rapid-firing
gun of small caliber.

The launch rode the waves like a thing of life and easily made ten miles
an hour. Soon Guantanamo was left behind, and they began to creep up the
coast in the direction of Baiquiri. In the bow was a lookout, who had a
marine glass which was constantly turned shoreward.

"A flag!" said the lookout, about noontime, and immediately the launch
came to a stop.

"Where is it, Parkhurst?" asked the officer in charge of the craft.

"Yonder, just below that stretch of rocks, sir," answered the lookout,
and handed over his glasses. The commander of the launch took a long
look, then ordered the craft turned to starboard, and they steamed into
a little harbor not a great distance from a tiny Cuban settlement. A
small boat was thrown out, the commander and two launch hands leaped in,
and it at once advanced. Then those on the larger craft saw a dozen men
rush from the shelter of some brush, one holding a white and the other a
Cuban flag.

The small boat was beached in true nautical style, and the Cubans and
Americans entered into a conversation lasting the best part of half an
hour. Letters were exchanged, and then the party broke up as rapidly as
it had gathered. Although Walter did not know it, the letter delivered
by the American commander was for the rebel leader, General Calixto
Garcia, while that received in return was for Admiral Sampson and
General Shafter. All related to the landing of the army of invasion, now
so close at hand.

The conference over, the launch darted on her way, and dinner was
served, to the officers and sharpshooters first, and then to the crew
and Walter. "Oh, we're doing some fine work along this coast," said one
of the crew to the youth, while eating. "Those Dons will be greatly
astonished some day--when our boys in blue fall on 'em."

It was night before the _Brooklyn_ came into view, looking exactly as
she had when Walter had so unceremoniously left her. How the youth's
heart beat at the sight of his ship! How would those on board receive
him, and what would they say when his story was told?

"Russell!" exclaimed the officer of the deck, when he came up over the
side. "Why, we all thought you had fallen overboard and been drowned."

"I came pretty near being drowned," was the reply. "You can't imagine,
sir, how glad I am to get back!"

"But where have you been?"

"I've been on the _Merrimac_, among the Cubans and the Spaniards, and in
a Spanish prison, besides being down to Guantanamo Bay with the marines
from the _Panther_, sir."

"Great Scott, boy, do you expect me to believe all that!" burst out the
officer, in sheer astonishment.

"As you will, sir; it's true, though."

"But--but--let me see; you said you were on the _Merrimac_?"

"Yes, sir."

"And on shore among the Cubans, and then among the enemy?"

"Yes, sir."

"And then among the marines at Guantanamo Bay?"

"Exactly, sir. I escaped from a Spanish prison, and was lucky enough to
fall in with the marines by accident. I fought with them too, sir."

"Russell, after you disappeared Surgeon Barker said you had been
sick--had been troubled with some sort of fever in your head. Don't you
believe you went out of your head entirely, and imagined all this?"

"No, sir."

"Well, I reckon that's the truth of the matter, and the best thing you
can do is to turn yourself over to the surgeon again for further
treatment. How is your head?" And the officer of the deck placed his
hand on Walter's forehead. "Ah, rather hot, as I thought. You had
better go to bed." And he turned away.

"I don't think I'll go to bed just yet," murmured Walter, and lost no
time in reaching the berth deck. Here he came up behind Si and Caleb
playing one of their favorite games of checkers, while Paul stood
looking on.

"Crown that man," Caleb was saying, when he chanced to glance up,
"Walter! or is it a ghost?" he fairly yelled, and leaped up, scattering
board and men in all directions. "Walter, where on earth did you come
from?" And he reached out his hand.

"It is Walter, back from the grave!" ejaculated Si, and grasped the
other hand, while Paul caught the youth by the neck.

"We thought you were drowned!" said all three, simultaneously.

"They said you had gone out of your mind, and committed suicide," added
Paul.

"Well, I didn't commit suicide, and I'm as well as ever," was the merry
return. "But--but--I don't believe you'll think I'm telling the truth
when I give you my story."

"That depends on what sort of a yarn you spin," returned Caleb, dryly.
"Where have you been--sinking Cervera's fleet single-handed?"

"Not quite, but I've been pretty close to the fleet, and pretty close to
the Spaniards." And dropping on a box Walter told his story, interrupted
every few minutes by some newcomer who advanced to shake him by the
hand, for since joining them he had made many friends among the jackies
and petty officers.

"I don't wonder the officer of the deck wouldn't believe you, lad,"
remarked Caleb, when he had finished. "It's a big yarn; beats Jonah and
the whale all to pieces--not but what _that's_ a true story, seeing as
how it's in the Good Book. You are certain you wasn't taken down with
the fever while you were on shore?"

"Not enough to lose my mind."

"I believe Walter," put in Si. "But if I were you I wouldn't tell this
tale to the others," he added in a lower tone. "They'd be jealous of
you, you know."

"I don't care, I'm telling the simple truth," answered Walter, stoutly.

That evening word was passed to him to report at the captain's cabin,
and he went, just as soon as he could slip on his best suit of
clothing, wash up, and comb his hair, for on board of every man-o'-war a
visit to "headquarters" is a big thing to any of the crew, and a
"sprucing up" is, consequently, indispensable.

This was the first time Walter had visited the cabin of the _Brooklyn_,
and the elegant surroundings immediately caught his eye. But in days
gone by, before he had been compelled to live with the miserly Job
Dowling, he had been used to a home furnished just as handsomely, and
therefore the surroundings did not overawe him.

There was a small table in the centre of the cabin, at one end of which
sat Commodore Schley, looking over a map of the Cuban coast. At the
other end of the table sat Captain Cook, the firm and strict, yet
well-beloved commander of the flagship.

"You sent for me, sir," said Walter, as he came in, "toed the mark," and
saluted.

"You are Walter Russell?" asked Captain Cook, while Commodore Schley
dropped the map and looked on with interest.

"Yes, sir."

"You have been absent from the ship ever since June the second, or
third?"

"Yes, sir. But I couldn't help it. I was sick and fell overboard,--and
I've had a whole lot of adventures since."

"So the officer of the deck tells me," answered the captain, dryly. He
looked at the commander of the squadron. "Commodore Schley, would you
like to ask Russell any questions?"

At this the commodore smiled and pulled meditatively at the little
goatee he wore. "Russell, you can tell us your story in detail. But do
not take over ten minutes," he said, and covered his eyes with his
hands, as if in deep thought--one of his favorite attitudes.

Standing as before and still "toeing the mark," Walter told his story
again, simply but forcefully. Whether his hearers were listening or not
he could not tell, for not a word was said until he had finished.

Then, however, came a flood of questions concerning the spot at which he
had landed after leaving the _Merrimac_, the names of the various Cuban
and Spanish leaders that he had encountered, and the names of the
marines with which he had fought. He was also questioned about the
trails and their conditions.

"Could loaded wagons get over them, in your estimation?" asked Commodore
Schley.

"Not very well, sir. In one place I saw an ox-team with a load of fruit,
and the load was in danger of being dumped every minute. Some of the
paths are not fit for a pack-mule to use."

"What of the Cubans you met? Were they well armed?"

"A few of them had guns, but most of them had nothing but their
machetes, sir. Ammunition, I was told, was very scarce."

"What of food?"

"That was scarce, too." And Walter smiled. "A good eater would starve to
death on what both the Spaniards and the Cubans have to offer."

"Do the Spaniards expect an army of invasion--that is, did you hear any
talk on the subject?"

"I caught a few words, sir. I cannot speak Spanish myself."

Commodore Schley mused for a moment. "That is all," he said, addressing
Captain Cook. "The boy has certainly had some remarkable adventures. He
is better off than poor Lieutenant Hobson."

"That's true," responded the commander of the _Brooklyn_. He turned to
Walter. "You can go, Russell; if we want you again, we will send for
you."

"Yes, sir," was the youth's reply, and, saluting, he turned and left the
cabin. The interview had been a very formal one, but he was proud to
think that he had come into personal contact with his gallant captain
and his equally gallant commodore.



CHAPTER XXV

THE BOMBARDMENT OF THE SANTIAGO BATTERIES


When Walter returned to his friends he was immediately surrounded and
asked what had happened in the cabin. "Did the commodore slap you on the
back and call you a bully boy?" queried Si.

"Well, hardly," answered Walter, with a quiet smile. "They plied me with
questions and said I had had some remarkable adventures; that's all."

"Didn't praise you?" queried Caleb.

"No."

"Didn't rush up and shake hands even?" put in Paul.

"Not at all. I saluted and toed the mark, and kept toeing it until I
left."

At this Paul's face fell. "Why, I thought you would be right in it,
Walter," he said.

"I guess you've been reading some dime and half-dime colored-cover
novels, Paul. I imagine that is the way they do in such books."

"That's it. Why, I've got a story about 'Dewey's Boy Bodyguard.' The
hero in that overheard a plot against Dewey, and Dewey clasped him to
his breast and made him a captain of marines."

"Indeed! And you believe such a yarn?"

"Dewey couldn't make the boy a captain of marines, not if he was an
admiral twice over," put in Caleb. "Those yarns are pure trash. Paul,
you had better study some good book on gunnery, and try to become a gun
captain."

"I thought the story was slightly overdrawn," said Paul, growing red in
the face. "There is another about the 'Boy Hero of Havana,' who saves
General Lee's life at the time the Americans are getting out of Havana.
I suppose that is untrue, too."

"To be sure, Paul. General Lee was in no great danger at that time. Of
course some of the sensational papers had to make the most of it, and
they reported that he was travelling around with a six-shooter in his
pocket, and a detective dogging his footsteps. As a matter of fact he
walked around with nothing but a white cotton umbrella, to keep the sun
off."

"I'll burn the whole batch of colored stuff up," cried the apprentice;
and he did, at the big galley fire. No one on board ever caught him
reading dime and half-dime novels again.

Although the marines had established themselves fairly well at and near
Guantanamo, the Spaniards were determined to drive them off, and to hold
this landing and a number of others, several of the warships were kept
busy bombarding the enemy's strongholds and in firing with Gatling guns
at the Spanish soldiers whenever they put into appearance along the
coast.

The day after Walter came on board the _Brooklyn_, which remained on the
blockade off Santiago Bay, the _Texas_, _Marblehead_, and _Suwanee_ ran
into Guantanamo Bay and attacked the fort at Caimanera, a small village
not far from Guantanamo. The attack began at two o'clock in the
afternoon, and in less than two hours the fort was in ruins, and those
who had garrisoned it were fleeing inland for their lives.

Caimanera was thus taken, but to hold it was as difficult as it was to
hold Guantanamo. Many of the people were in sympathy with the Spanish
government, and some went so far as to soak the streets and some of the
houses with coal oil that the town might be burned down at a minute's
notice.

While this was going on, Admiral Sampson determined to make another
attack on the outer defences of Santiago Harbor, only sparing Morro
Castle, in which it was understood that Lieutenant Hobson and his men
were confined. It was weary waiting for the transports to arrive with
the army, and something must be done to tear down the numerous
fortifications the Spaniards were constructing.

The orders for the bombardment were issued on Wednesday evening; and at
once a subdued but excited talk took place among the various crews of
the blockading squadrons, which now numbered the following ships, along
with a few others of lesser importance:----

First squadron, under the direct command of Admiral Sampson, the
flagship _New York_, battleships _Iowa_ and _Oregon_, protected cruiser
_New Orleans_, gunboat _Mayflower_, torpedo boat _Porter_, and the
sprightly _Scorpion_. The second squadron, under Commodore Schley,
embraced the flagship _Brooklyn_, battleships _Massachusetts_ and
_Texas_, and the _Marblehead_ and _Vixen_. Other vessels, such as the
_Indiana_, _Dolphin_, and _Suwanee_, were kept busy plying between the
blockading fleet and Guantanamo Bay and surroundings.

It was half-past three in the morning when the men were called up and
served with coffee. Among the first on hand was Walter. "Now for a first
real use of our gun," he said to Si. "I've been aching for this ever
since I enlisted."

Before four o'clock came the call to quarters, and the men ran to their
various stations, and stripped for action, most of them wearing little
more than an undershirt and a pair of trousers. The weather was
frightfully hot, and the interior of the cruiser was little better than
a bake-oven. Possibly this was one reason why the thoughtful admiral
planned the attack for so early in the day.

Silently the warships steamed for the mouth of the harbor, and took up
their various positions in a grand semicircle, the heavy fighting ships
in the centre, and the torpedo boats on the ends, ready to take care of
any infantry fire, should the Spaniards hurry their soldiers to the
shore. The big ships kept at a distance of three thousand yards--not
quite two miles.

"We're a long way off," observed Walter, as he assisted in loading the
"Polly," as Caleb had named his gun.

"Twenty-nine hundred yards!" came the report from the range-finder; and
the crew went to work to elevate the gun accordingly. In the meantime,
the magazines had been opened, the ammunition hoists set in motion, and
powder, shot, and shell were delivered everywhere from barbette to
fighting-top.

"We're near enough to blow 'em sky-high if we strike 'em right,"
muttered the old gunner, who, with the smell of powder in the air, was
in his element. "How about that hose, Stuben?" he went on to the
hose-man.

"Dot hose it's all right alretty," answered Carl Stuben, a round-faced
German, who was an American citizen, even though he did speak the
language but brokenly. Heretofore Walter had had but little to do with
the man, yet they got along very well together.

It was too dark to begin firing, and for half an hour the ships lay
quiet, every man ready to obey a command the instant it was given. This
was a nerve-trying test for Walter, who wondered how the thing would
sound when all of the ships began firing.

Slowly it grew lighter, and the men became more anxious. The guns were
trained on the shore batteries to the west of the harbor entrance, while
other ships covered the batteries on the east.

Boom! It was a broadside from the _New York_, directed against the
battery below El Morro. Instantly every other warship present responded
in a deafening crash and a shock to be heard many miles away. At once
the air became filled with the smoke, and on shore the dirt and masonry
of the batteries were seen to fly in all directions.

"Oh, my!" gasped Walter, as the gun before him belched forth its mass of
flame and smoke. "What a noise! Did--did we hit anything?"

"I hope we did," answered Steve Colton, the second gun captain,
laconically; and then came the order to unlock the breech of the gun. As
the breech fell back a cloud of smoke swirled into the sponson hood,
impregnated with the odor of saltpetre, which caused Walter and several
of the others to cough violently. "Never mind; you'll get used to it
before you die," went on Colton.

The gun being opened, Carl Stuben caught up his hose-pipe, turned on
the nozzle and sent a stream of cold water through the gun, to both
clean and cool the interior. By the time this was accomplished the hoist
had another shell ready, and this was shoved in by the mechanical
rammer. Brown prismatic powder followed, with a small quantity of black
prismatic powder behind it, as a primer. Then the breech-block was swung
into position and locked again, and the electrical connections were
adjusted.

All this had been done almost in the time it takes to tell it, but the
next shot was not discharged at once, since the various gunners had
strict orders to take their time and make every discharge count. It was
not like a pitched battle where every moment counted.

But though the gunners took their time, there were so many ships and so
many guns that the firing was continuous--a spiteful cracking of
rapid-firing guns, mingled with the thunder-claps of the gigantic
thirteen-inch guns and the solid banging of the eight-inch and eight and
ten pounders.

"This is war and no mistake," remarked Walter. In ten minutes his
undershirt had become as black as a stove-cloth, and he himself looked
almost like a negro. In the meantime the perspiration was streaming
from every pore of his body.

"War!" shouted Caleb. "Why, lad, this is nothing. If only Cervera would
come out, then you would see some fun."

The order had been passed to lessen the charges in the big guns and
elevate them more, in order to secure a plunging fire. The effect of
this change in tactics was soon apparent, as shot and shell began to
drop directly into the Spanish strongholds or behind them. Soon one of
the batteries was completely silenced, and a cheer went up from the
warship nearest to it.

It must not be imagined that the Spaniards took this attack quietly. No
sooner had the American warships opened than they returned the fire with
equal fierceness. But although at an elevation, and using guns which
were stationary, their aim was wild, and only a few of their shots took
effect.

As one battery after another was silenced, several of the warships
elevated their guns still more and put in large charges of powder, and,
as a result, one shell was carried far up the harbor to where the
_Vizcaya_ lay and burst directly over her deck, doing considerable
damage and injuring several sailors and an under-officer.

Presently a terrific explosion rent the air. One of the shots from the
_Texas_ had landed in a powder magazine and sent it skyward. The
spectacle thus caused was magnificent, and for a moment all in the
squadrons watched the timbers, rocks, and dirt as they sailed through
the air, some coming down inland and some falling with loud splashes
into the sea.

"That's a shot worth making!" cried Caleb. "Hurrah for the man as
trained that gun!"

And the cheer was given with a will.



CHAPTER XXVI

IN WHICH THE ARMY OF INVASION ARRIVES


"Maybe I ain't hot and tired, Walter. I could sleep standing up and go
in an ice-house and do it."

It was Si who spoke, as he was washing himself in a bucket of water set
on the gun-track. The water had been fresh when Si began his ablutions
and was now dirty, but the Yankee youth was still far from clean, for
gun smoke and gun dirt have a disagreeable knack of getting into the
pores of one's skin.

The bombardment had lasted over an hour and every land battery had been
silenced. Yet, as the American ships drew away, one or two guns spat out
spitefully after them.

"You'll feel all right in an hour or two, Si," answered Walter. "Oh, but
wasn't it glorious! I could stand such bombarding for a week. What a
sight it was when that powder magazine went up."

"Such a bombardment costs Uncle Sam a good many thousand dollars," put
in Caleb, leaving the gun to get a drink of water from the tub standing
by. "A week of it would put a big hole in his pocket, large as it is."

"I presume that is so, Walton. But say, why don't we run in and finish
things, now we have knocked the batteries out?"

"Better ask the admiral, lad; he's the one who knows. Remember, we
didn't touch Morro Castle nor that fortification on Smith Cay,--and
those Spanish warships are somewhere around the bend, out of sight. I
reckon the time ain't quite ripe for running in yet. If we run in now
and do up that Spanish fleet, we haven't men enough to take Santiago
itself. We must wait until Shafter arrives with his army."

"But why did we go at them at all for, then?"

"To keep 'em from becoming too well fortified. Now they'll have their
hands full for several days repairing damages, and in the meantime our
army may arrive--at least, I hope it does."

Si had been right about the heat. Even in the United States we had a
spell of uncommonly hot weather, and down here, under the tropical sun,
it was "sizzling," as Walter expressed it. During the noon hour no one
thought of going on deck unless it was absolutely necessary.
Refreshments of any kind were at a premium, and when a society known as
the Colonial Dames sent on a number of boxes of oranges and lemons for
distribution, the jackies could hardly contain themselves for joy. Cuban
sugar was easily obtained, and lemonade and orangeade became the order
of the hour.

Having been away on shore, Walter had not felt the monotony on shipboard
so much, but those who had been on the blockade for nearly three weeks
felt fearfully bored, especially as reading matter was scarce. Every
scrap of a newspaper was saved and passed around, and poor Paul was
collared and tossed up in a canvas hammock for having burnt the
penny-dreadfuls previously mentioned.

"Mail! mail! mail!" such was the welcome cry which rang through the
_Brooklyn_, several days after the bombardment just described. The news
caused a commotion, and all who could rushed on deck and peered eagerly
over the side as several heavy mail sacks were hoisted on board. Hardly
anybody could wait for the mail to be distributed.

"Three letters for me, and a bundle of newspapers!" cried Walter,
joyfully. "Here's luck and no mistake." He studied the various
post-marks for a moment. "One from Boston, in my uncle's handwriting;
one from Tampa, Florida, and that's from Ben; and one from--yes--Hong
Kong, China, and that must be from dear old Larry. Now which shall I
read first? Oh, I must hear from Larry first." And dropping on deck he
tore open the letter from the other side of the world and perused it
eagerly.

"Well, I never!" came from him, a few minutes later. "Si, Walton, listen
to this! My brother Larry was with Dewey at Manila and helped whip the
Dons! Oh, but Larry's the boy, after all! Just read the letter for
yourselves." And he tossed it over.

Ben's letter came next, a rather short communication, for Ben had never
been much of a boy to write.

     "I am high private in the best company of the Seventy-first
     regiment of New York," he wrote. "We are down here at Lakeland,
     near Tampa, getting into condition to invade Cuba. At present
     things are slow and awfully hot, but we look for livelier times
     ahead and that keeps up our spirits. My chum, Gilbert
     Pennington, has joined Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders. I
     hope we go to Cuba together.

     "I suppose you are quite a jack tar by this time and walk with
     a regular swagger. Larry is now a bigger fellow than either of
     us, for he was on the _Olympia_, Dewey's flagship, at the
     battle of Manila Bay. He wrote me all about it and said he
     would write to you, too, so I suppose you already have the
     letter.

     "Uncle Job seems to be coming around to his senses--with giving
     both you and me permission to take care of ourselves. If I were
     you, I would not let up on him about going to Boston. Those
     heirlooms ought to be located, and he is the man who must push
     the work, even if it does cost a few dollars. I want father's
     watch, and I am sure you and Larry want the wedding rings.

     "I have made many friends while in the army, but I also have
     two enemies, Gerald Holgait and Dwight Montgomery, and I am
     afraid that sooner or later they will try to play me some mean
     trick. However, I will be on my guard against them. Good-by and
     good luck to you."

"I hope Ben does come down," mused Walter. "And if he has any enemies of
the Jim Haskett sort he had better look out." And then he turned to the
communication from Job Dowling.

     "My dearest nephew," began the guardian, and the term of
     address made Walter smile. "Your letter was a big surprise to
     me, and I ain't over it yet. That you should meet that thief
     gets me, and I don't understand it nohow. However, I packed my
     valise (my new one that cost me a dollar thirty-five, although
     Wilson says it is worth the money) and the next day I took the
     cars for Boston on a ticket I got at cut rates, although it was
     tolerably dear even at that. When I got to Boston I introduced
     myself to Mr. Phil Newell, the one-legged man you used to work
     for, and he took me to police headquarters, and now I am
     stopping here at a boarding-house on Hammond Street. The police
     sent a detective to me, and he is going to find them heirlooms
     and that rascal of a Deck Mumpers, or whatever his name is, or
     know the reason why. If he finds the things, I'm to give him
     two hundred dollars in cash; if he don't, I pay his travelling
     expenses and no more. I wouldn't make such a bargain, but I
     know all you boys want the things back and I can't do the
     running after the thief. It's a waste of money, but it can't be
     helped. I want to show you and Ben and Larry that your uncle
     means well in spite of what you think of him.

     "Newell says for me to tell you he will send you a bundle of
     newspapers. He says he knows how lonely life on board of a
     man-of-war gets sometimes. I hope you don't get hurt, if you
     get into a fight down in Cuba. Keep out of the sun, and write
     when you can, care of Newell's news-stand--for I stop there
     every day, after the detective's report. The detective hopes to
     get the things back before this week is out.

     "Your loving uncle,

     "JOB DOWLING."

The letter was a mere scrawl, horribly mis-spelled, and it took Walter
fully quarter of an hour to decipher it. "Well, Uncle Job is turning
over a new leaf," he thought, as he put it away. "I only hope that
detective is all right, and don't hoodwink him into paying over his
money for nothing. I reckon the letters Ben and I wrote him scared him
pretty well, otherwise he wouldn't agree to pay two hundred dollars if
the heirlooms are recovered."

Caleb had read Larry's letter with much interest. One portion of it,
relating to the narrow escape from disaster during the battle,
interested him not a little.

"Your brother had a close shave," he said. "To fire a gun when the
breech is unlocked is a fearful thing."

"I don't see how it could happen on board of such a ship as the
_Brooklyn_," answered Walter. "Everything works like clockwork here."

"You don't know how a thing would work in the middle of a battle, lad.
Men get excited, and sometimes the jarring of the shots breaks the
electric connections. More than likely that gunner was firing his piece
by hand at the time. I've done the same, when the electric connection
gave out. Last month I heard from a friend of mine, a gunner on the _New
Orleans_, that used to be a Brazilian warship. They couldn't get their
electric-firing apparatus into shape nohow, and had to do everything by
hand,--and that is the time accidents occur. But somebody ought to have
been watching that breech-block--your brother or somebody else." And
then Caleb turned away to his duties.

Larry had written that he was now in Hong Kong, and did not know whether
he would go back to Dewey's squadron, or return to the United States.
"You'll hear from me again soon, one way or another," he added in a
postscript.

For a day or two, all of Walter's spare time was spent over the
newspapers his former employer had been kind enough to send him, but
drills and other duties must not be neglected, and now that the army of
invasion was hourly expected, discipline on the warships became more
rigid than ever.

At last, one clear morning, a cry echoed and reëchoed from one warship
to another:--

"The transports are in sight! General Shafter's army has arrived!"

What a shouting, cheering, and yelling broke loose! Jackies flew to the
deck, and up the military masts, and all other points of vantage. Yes,
the news was true, over thirty transports were coming up from the
direction of Guantanamo Bay, having rounded Cape Maysi some hours
previously. The army of invasion had really arrived, nearly seventeen
thousand strong. As that vast fleet came up, convoyed by fourteen
warships, it presented a most imposing appearance, and guns boomed
loudly to welcome it.

"Is the Seventy-first on board?" was Walter's question; and when at last
he heard that it was, his heart beat quickly. "Ben must be there!" he
thought. And Ben _was_ there, and thinking of Walter at the same time.

"Santiago is doomed now," said Caleb, as he surveyed the scene.

"That's so," put in Si, tossing up his cap. "And old Cervera must either
come out and fight, or haul down his colors. Oh, but won't we just smash
things when that army is landed!"

And Walter agreed with both of them.

As soon as it could be arranged, the army was landed at Baiquiri,
Siboney, and other points, Guantanamo being reserved as a coaling
station for the warships. After the first landing, a strong detachment
of regulars and Rough Riders was thrown out, and then followed the
battles of La Guasima, San Juan, and El Caney, described in detail in
the previous volume of this series. The soldier boys fought bravely, and
Ben Russell and his chum, Gilbert Pennington, were well to the front, as
we know.

The landing of the troops was no easy matter, for the surf ran high, and
it was feared that the Spaniard might make a heavy onslaught at any
instant. All the small boats of the warships were called into use, to
land men and army stores, and while this work was in progress, many of
the ships began to bombard various points along the coast, for the
purpose of confusing the enemy, so that they would not realize the truth
of what was taking place. The ruse succeeded, and during the landing the
Spaniards remained comparatively quiet, hardly knowing in what direction
to turn, or what to do, since the Americans were covering over a hundred
miles of rugged coast-line.

The debarkation at an end, the _Brooklyn_ returned to her position on
the blockade. All hands knew that something important would soon happen,
and, consequently, everybody slept thenceforth "with one eye open."
"Cervera must not be allowed to escape, night or day, under any
circumstances," was the order passed, and it was to be obeyed to the
letter.



CHAPTER XXVII

THE SPANISH FLEET AND ITS COMMANDER


"Now that we are so anxious to catch Admiral Cervera and smash his
ships, I should like to know something about the man and his command,"
remarked Walter, a few days after the army had landed. He addressed
George Ellis, who, in his quiet, gentlemanly way had taken a liking to
the youth.

The two were seated in the shadow of one of the forward guns, taking it
easy, for the morning drills were over and it yet lacked half an hour to
mess time. Slowly the _Brooklyn_ rose and sank on the waves of the
Caribbean Sea, four miles outside of Santiago Bay. This was the usual
distance in the daytime. At night, despite the danger of an attack by a
torpedo destroyer, the warships came in much closer, and the glare of
the searchlights never left Morro Castle or the narrow harbor entrance.

"I know very little about Admiral Cervera excepting that he has been in
the Spanish navy for many years and is said to be one of the finest
gentlemen that ever trod the deck of a ship. Why he ever allowed himself
to be bottled up like this is more than I can understand. I imagine,
though, that he was on his way to Havana, to break the blockade there,
when he heard that Admiral Sampson was coming for him one way and our
commodore the other, and he concluded that the best thing he could do
would be to scoot into the bay yonder and save himself and possibly
Santiago. They say he carried a lot of guns and ammunition for the
Spanish army. He can distribute those as well at Santiago as he can at
Havana, for I understand General Toral here is as hard up as Blanco is
at the other city."

"And what of the ships under him? They say he has six. Do you know how
big they are?" went on Walter.

"He has four warships and two torpedo destroyers," answered the chief
yeoman. "I got that straight from Lieutenant Blue, who went ashore for
Admiral Sampson, made a detour of seventy miles, and from the top of a
high hill saw the ships in the harbor through his powerful glasses."

"Somebody said all the big ships were armored cruisers."

"That is true, and three of them, the _Vizcaya_, the _Almirante
Oquendo_, and the _Maria Teresa_, are sister ships, of seven thousand
tons each. Each is about three hundred and sixty feet long and can speed
at eighteen to nineteen knots an hour. They carry about five hundred men
each, and every one has a main battery of two 11-inch Hontoria and ten
5.5-inch Hontoria guns, with a secondary battery of eight 6-pounders,
ten 1-pounders, several machine guns; and they also carry six torpedo
tubes each."

"And what of the fourth cruiser?"

"She is the _Cristobal Colon_, the fastest of the lot, even though her
displacement is two hundred tons short of the others. They say she can
run eighteen knots an hour with ease and twenty knots if she is put to
it. Her armor belt is six inches thick, alongside of twelve inches on
the other cruisers. She also carries about five hundred men, and she has
a main battery of two 10-inch and five 6-inch guns, and a secondary
battery of rapid-firing rifles, 6 and 10 pounders and two Maxim guns.
Her torpedo tubes number four."

"Then they are no small fry to battle with," observed Walter. "When
their batteries break loose they ought to do some talking."

"They will talk. We mustn't expect any walkover, if Cervera ever comes
out of his hole."

"And what of the two torpedo boats?"

"They are sister ships, the _Pluton_ and _Furor_, each of three hundred
and eighty tons displacement. They say that each has a speed of
twenty-seven knots an hour, and both are equipped with the latest
appliances for such crafts, carrying regular, automatic, and rapid-fire
guns, and also fourteen-inch Schwartzkopff torpedo tubes."

"I should say they would be good things to keep out of the way of,"
exclaimed Walter.

"We've got our eyes wide open for them, lad. To be sure, one or another
of them may play us some dirty trick of a dark night--but that is one of
the risks to be taken in war times," concluded the chief yeoman, as a
petty officer called him away.

All on board the warships waited eagerly for news from the army of
invasion. It was known that the Rough Riders had had a severe skirmish
at La Guasima, but that was all, so far as the jackies went. Possibly
the officers knew more, but if so, they kept the knowledge to
themselves.

"Another dull week will come to an end to-morrow," remarked Si, as he
and Walter were on their way to the mess table. "Oh, but I'm sick of
laying around looking at old Morro. If only those ships would come out,
we'd sink them all in less than two hours; I feel sure of it."

Si's growl was becoming a universal one, even the officers grumbling a
good deal. All wanted to fight Cervera's fleet, and the more the Spanish
admiral kept himself hidden, the more angry did they become. Many almost
begged to have their ships forced into the harbor, no matter what the
consequences--they stating that anything would be better than this
everlasting waiting. The blockade had now lasted five long weeks.

In the meantime, matters elsewhere had not been idle. Chagrined over
Dewey's victory at Manila, Spain resolved to send another fleet to the
Philippines by way of the Suez Canal, taking, for this purpose, almost
all the warships left in her home waters. As soon as this was brought to
light, our own naval board decided to send an American fleet to the
coast of Spain, and Commodore Watson was placed in command of the
expedition. But before the American warships could sail, the Spanish
fleet, having gone through the Suez Canal, turned back for home, and the
American warships remained where they were, and Dewey was left
unmolested at Manila, so far as Spanish operations were concerned,
although the insurgents under General Aguinaldo soon began to give him a
great deal of trouble.

Saturday morning dawned misty but hot. From a great distance could be
heard the rattle of musketry, showing that the army of invasion was
slowly but surely advancing.

"They're in it all right enough--" began Si, when there came a sudden
call to quarters, and at the same time the _Brooklyn's_ engines began to
move and she headed for Santiago Bay. "Hullo, what does this mean?"

"Perhaps we are going to force an entrance!" ejaculated Walter. "Hurrah,
if we do!"

"Better not count your chickens before they are hatched," remarked
Caleb, who had just rolled from his hammock.

They soon learned the truth of the movement. The shore batteries were
again to be bombarded, and this time not even Morro Castle was to be
spared, it having been ascertained that Hobson and his men had been
removed to safe quarters.

"Down with old Morro; we'll show the Dons a thing or two!" was the cry,
and off rushed the men to their guns, their eyes brighter than they had
been for many a day, for Morro Castle had been an eyesore to all.

The flagship _New York_ was leading the fleet, which, as before, soon
ranged up in a semicircle. Inside of five minutes every vessel had her
station.

"Cast loose and provide!"

The now familiar cry was scarcely needed, for the jackies were already
at work, stripped, as before, of all their superfluous clothing. Shot
and powder were quickly handled, and the flagship began the firing,
which immediately broke forth in all its fury, deafening everybody and
sending forth a great cloud of smoke which hung over the warships like a
pall.

"Morro's flag is down!" came the shout. It was true. A gunner on the
noble _Oregon_ had taken careful aim and cut the flagstaff in two. The
falling of the Spanish emblem was greeted with a wild cheer. At once the
Spaniards tried to put another flag up, but it was some time ere they
succeeded, and then it was a tiny affair, hardly visible excepting with
a glass.

"We'll try for that battery yonder!" exclaimed Caleb, during the height
of the bombardment. "I think those fellows have been firing this way
ever since they started."

He had scarcely spoken when bang! something hit the armor plate directly
under their gun, hurling the gunner, Walter, and several others back by
the shock.

"They've struck us, but the shot didn't pierce our armor," remarked
Caleb, calmly, as he got up. "All right, you villains, here's the
compliment returned!" And he made his preparations with care.

The shot following was the best they had yet placed. It struck into a
battery on the west shore of the harbor entrance, ploughed up the
foundation of a six-pound gun, and sent the piece flying high into the
air.

"My, but that was immense!" cried Walter, while Si and the others
cheered wildly. "Give them another!"

And they did give the battery another, and then a dozen more, until at
last the place was silenced, showing that what was left of the gunners
had fled.

At half-past seven came the order to cease firing, but it was fully
twenty minutes later before the last of the warships' guns were
discharged. By this time not only the batteries but also old Morro were
filled with gaping holes. It is more than likely that if the fleet had
sought to enter the harbor at this time it could have done so with
comparative ease.

The work at the gun had been very hot, and as soon as they were able to
do so, Walter and Si scurried to the upper deck to get a bit of fresh
air.

"It fairly stews the fat out of a fellow," grumbled Si, running the
perspiration from his forehead with his forefinger. "I'll bet I'm ten
pounds lighter than before this blockade began."

"Never mind; it's one of the fortunes of war--" began Walter, when of a
sudden a strange whir and a singing sound filled the air. It was a
shell, fired from Morro Castle, just as the _Brooklyn_ was turning
away.

"Look out!" yelled Si, and dropped down, but the words were still on his
lips when the shell exploded, sending the fragments flying in all
directions. Both boys were struck, and with a groan Walter fell
senseless to the deck.



CHAPTER XXVIII

"THE ENEMY IS ESCAPING!"


"Is he dead, surgeon?"

"Oh, doctor, he'll live--say he'll live!"

Caleb and Si had followed the senseless form of Walter to the sick bay
of the warship, the Yankee youth with the blood streaming from a deep
cut in his left cheek. Both were in distress for fear their comrade was
seriously injured.

"Yes, he'll live, but he has had a narrow escape," was the reply of the
medical man in charge of the case. "The bit of shell scraped his left
temple, as you see. Had it come a little closer, it would have gone
through his brain."

Walter had been placed on a swinging cot, and now his head was bound up.
Before this operation was over he opened his eyes.

"Whe--where am I?" he stammered. "Wh--what hit me?"

"Praise God, he's himself again!" murmured Caleb, reverently. "I was
afraid he was a goner."

"So was I," whispered Si. "And I don't know how I could spare Walter--he
seems so like a brother."

"You must lie quiet for a while," said the surgeon. "You'll be all right
by to-night." And then he gave Walter some medicine to brace his nerves,
for they had been sadly shattered by the shock. The remainder of that
Saturday was spent in bed.

On this memorable day the fighting on land had been even more fierce
than on the sea. The army of invasion had taken the various outposts of
Santiago, and the very city itself now lay at General Shafter's mercy.
It was felt that a day or two longer would bring matters to a climax.

When Walter joined his comrades after supper he looked rather pale and
scared. Almost silently he took Si's hand and wrung it.

"You are all right?" he whispered.

"No hurt to speak of," was the answer.

"But we were pretty close to death. Oh, Si, I never realized before how
quick one could be put out of this world!"

"Neither did I, Walter. After this I'm going to--well--I'm going to
attend church more regularly, that's all. I never did take much to sech
matters afore, like you do."

"It's always well to be prepared for death, Si--I'm going to try to be
prepared after this," was Walter's low answer, and in the darkness of
the berth deck they clasped hands again. They understood each other
pretty well, these boys.

On Sunday morning the sun arose clear and strong, and early in the day
an awning was spread over the quarterdeck of the flagship _Brooklyn_,
and preparations were made to pass a hot day as comfortably as possible.
"We will rest to-day," was the word passed around, and the jackies were
not sorry, for the bombardment on Saturday morning had tired them out.

The _Brooklyn_ rested about three miles out from Santiago Bay, and not
far off lay the _Texas_. Between the two ships the long, green waves
rose and fell, only making a soft slish-slish as they struck the
vessels' sides. The jackies lolled here, there, and everywhere, some
talking, some reading old newspapers which from frequent handling would
scarcely hold together, while a few studied the Bibles they had brought
with them.

Presently from the _Texas_ came the musical bugle-call for church
service. "I'd like to go on board of her once," said Walter to Si, as
they listened to the bell that followed. "She's certainly a fine-looking
craft."

"Three bells," put in Caleb, as he came up. "Come on, lads, first Sunday
in the month, remember, and the Articles of War have got to be hearkened
to."

"That's so; I had forgotten," answered Walter. And he and the others
dropped below, to don their cleanest and neatest "rigs," for general
muster. Soon the call came, and from all parts of the big cruiser the
men hurried to their various divisions, while the higher officers
buckled on their swords, and the executive officers prepared to make
their inspections.

On the quarterdeck, near the hatchway, sat Commodore Schley, musing
thoughtfully, as he gazed over the waters in the direction of Morro
Castle. The fighting commodore undoubtedly felt as hot as anybody, for
he wore a thin, black alpaca coat and an equally thin, white summer hat.
He was now in sole command of the blockading fleet, for the _New York_
had carried Admiral Sampson many miles away, to confer with General
Shafter.

For some time there had been smoke in the harbor entrance in front of
the warships, and many were wondering what it meant. "Must be a supply
boat for the batteries," said several under-officers, and this theory
was accepted as correct. Nevertheless, Commodore Schley glanced toward
that smoke more than once.

"We are going to have general muster, commodore," announced Captain
Cook, as he presented himself, followed by Executive Officer Mason, and
the commander of the fleet _pro tem._ nodded. But those keen eyes were
still bent shoreward.

Suddenly, from the forward bridge there came a yell through a megaphone,
a yell that electrified everybody who heard it.

"After bridge there! Report to the commodore and the captain that _the
enemy's ships are coming out of the harbor_!"

There was no necessity to report, for commodore, captain, and all others
heard the cry. There was a second of silence. Could this news be true?
Then came the command of the executive officer.

"_Clear ship for action!_"

"Hurrah! the enemy is coming out at last! To your guns, boys! Remember
the _Maine_!" These and a score of other cries rang out, while men
rushed hither and thither, dropping one garment or another as they ran,
and kicking shoes right and left, for no jackie will do work worth the
counting unless he is barefooted. Everybody had on his best clothing,
but that did not matter, and down into the grimy depths of the big
vessel dropped the firemen, coal heavers, and all the rest of the "black
gang," as they are termed, for steam must be gotten up in a tremendous
hurry or the enemy would surely get away. Ton after ton of coal was
thrown onto the fires, and the firemen coaxed and coaxed until the black
lumps grew first red and then white, and converted the water in the
boilers into high-pressure steam. "Fire up! for the sake of the ship's
honor, fire up!" came in a hoarse cry down the speaking-tube, and the
men did fire up as never before, until all were ready to drop from the
terrific heat. And all this while the engineers were watching their
engines, oiling this part and that, and making every pound of steam do
its utmost to send the great armored cruiser dashing and hissing through
the sea to that point where the Spanish fleet was trying to escape.

For Admiral Cervera could stand it no longer inside of the harbor. With
the army of invasion at the very outskirts of Santiago, and with the
American fleet beyond his bay of refuge, something must be done, and
done quickly. He would run for it,--run at the top of his speed--and
trust to luck, if not Providence, to get out of range and reach
Cienfuegos or Havana. Santiago Bay was "too hot to hold him."

It was the big prow of the _Maria Teresa_ that first showed itself,
quickly followed by the _Vizcaya_, _Oquendo_, and _Colon_, with the
torpedo boats _Pluton_ and _Furor_ bringing up closely in the rear. All
were under a full head of steam, and the thick smoke shot up in heavy
clouds from every funnel. For an instant all seemed to pause at the
gateway to the sea, then, led by the _Maria Teresa_, they turned
westward along the coast. To this side of the blockade now lay but three
American warships, the _Brooklyn_, _Texas_, and the little _Vixen_. If
he could only get out of range of these, Admiral Cervera felt that he
would, for the time being at least, be safe.

Boom! It was a three-pounder, fired from the _Iowa_, lying some distance
to the eastward of the _Texas_. She, too, was flying the signal, "The
enemy is escaping," in red and white and blue flags. Beyond the _Iowa_,
still further eastward, lay the pride of the western coast, the mighty
_Oregon_, and it was this ship that first started up her engines in
pursuit, having, by chance, a good head of steam up. And as the _Oregon_
turned in one direction, the little _Resolute_ turned in the other, to
carry the news to the absent rear-admiral.

Three minutes had not yet passed, yet a complete transformation had
occurred on the _Brooklyn_. Five hundred men had scuttled to as many
different directions, battle hatches had been lowered, water-tight
compartments closed, hose attached and decks wet down, fire tubs filled,
magazines opened, hoists put into operation, and ammunition delivered to
turret, decks, and to the fighting-tops. Down below, fire had been
started under four fresh boilers, and a dozen different connections
between engines made.

Nor was this all. Splinter nets had been spread as before, all useless
woodwork thrown overboard, and the surgeons' operating tables made
ready. The warning gun from the _Iowa_ was followed by a gun from the
_Texas_, and then the _Brooklyn_ helped to "open the ball" with her
forward eight-inch guns. Another great naval battle, fully equal to that
of Manila Bay, was now on.

"It's a question of do or die, boys!" cried Caleb, as he worked over the
heavy gun before him. "Hustle now, as you never hustled before, or the
dagos will get away. Now then, Polly, do the best you can!" And _bang!_
went the gun, with a noise that was deafening. Ten minutes later Walter
felt as if his hearing had left him entirely, so incessant was the
firing.

The first fire from the enemy came from the _Maria Teresa_, and was an
eleven-inch shell directed at the _Brooklyn_. Hardly had this been
discharged when the _Indiana_, coming up behind the _Iowa_, took a
long-range chance and sent a shell directly upon the _Teresa's_ deck,
doing not a little damage. Then the firing became general, and shot and
shell was hurled in every direction.

So far, the _Brooklyn_ had been headed directly for the harbor entrance,
commodore and captain being intent upon cutting off the enemy's westward
flight, if possible. This course soon brought the _Maria Teresa_,
_Vizcaya_, and the _Brooklyn_ into close proximity, and presently all
were lost to view in a dense cloud of smoke, from which shot long
streaks of fire, as battery after battery was discharged at close range.

"Give it to 'em!" was the cry that rang throughout the _Brooklyn_.
"Don't let up on 'em! We must do as well as Dewey did, and better!
Remember the _Maine_, and three cheers for Uncle Sam!" Such cries were
truly inspiring, but presently the men became silent, as the work began
to tell upon them, and they realized what a fearful task still lay
before them.

"The second ship's flag is down!" was the welcome news which soon
drifted down from the fighting-tops. It was true, the _Vizcaya's_ big
silk flag had been riddled completely and the halyard shot away; but
soon another flag was run up. Later on the _Brooklyn's_ flag also came
down, but it did not remain so more than two minutes before a jackie had
it up again.

The battle had but fairly begun, and the _Brooklyn_ and the _Maria
Teresa_ were having it "hot and heavy," when suddenly the bow of the
_Vizcaya_ began to turn swiftly. At once a cry rang out. "That ship is
going to ram the _Brooklyn_! See, she is turning full toward her!"

The warning proved true. The _Vizcaya_ was turned fairly and squarely
for Commodore Schley's flagship. Bells were ringing on board of her for
"Full speed ahead." On and on she came, like a demon of the deep, in one
wild, terrible effort to ram the vessel Walter was on and sink her!



CHAPTER XXIX

THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SPANISH FLEET


"We are lost!"

"That ship will cut us in half!"

"Give her a broadside, boys, before we go down!"

These and a hundred other cries rang out, as the _Vizcaya_ came leaping
over the waves on her awful mission of death and destruction. Then gun
after gun roared out, sending shot and shell on the enemy's deck. If
this was their last hour on earth, these brave jackies were going to
make the most of it.

But commodore, captain, and executive officer were all on the alert and
were not to be caught napping. As the _Vizcaya_ came on, the necessary
orders were given, and the _Brooklyn_ began to turn in a twelve-point
circle to starboard. Like a flash she swept past the warship dashing on
to destroy her, and then the command rang out, "Give her another
broadside!" And the port guns, twenty in number, vomited out their
death-dealing shots and shells, raking the Spanish deck from end to end,
and killing and wounding a great number of sailors and officers. To this
awful fire was added that from the _Oregon_, which now came up to assist
the flagship. Realizing that the plan to ram the _Brooklyn_ was a
failure, the _Vizcaya_ started westward once more.

It was now high time to turn attention to the two torpedo-boat
destroyers, _Pluton_ and _Furor_, that were coming out of the harbor at
a speed of twenty knots per hour. Once these destroyers gained the open
sea, to catch them would be impossible. Like long, steel arrows
glistening in the sunlight, they darted through the greenish waves and
for a moment hid themselves behind their big sisters.

Then on came the _Gloucester_, a converted yacht, commanded by
Lieutenant Wainwright. Wainwright had been executive officer of the
_Maine_ when she was blown up in Havana Harbor, and had vowed more than
once to sink something if only he were given a chance. Like an avenging
angel the _Gloucester_, but lightly armed, bore down upon the torpedo
boats and sent shot after shot into them. Then the destroyers began to
turn, as if to sink the little enemy who dared to molest them, but now
it was too late,--the big warships were coming to the _Gloucester's_
aid.

It was the _Oregon_ and the _Iowa_ that first came to the converted
yacht's assistance, and as the destroyers turned, first one way and then
another, as if to ram or to run, a perfect hailstorm of shot and shell
landed on their sides and decks, churning up the water into a milk-white
froth, and causing the destroyers to look like gigantic whales lashing
themselves in their death throes. The noise was even greater than it had
been before, and the smoke made the heavens above look as if a violent
thunderstorm was at hand.

Finding they could not withstand such a combined attack, and with the
_Texas_ hurrying to the scene, the destroyers turned tail, as if to make
for the shore. As the turn was made a huge shell, flying over the masts
of the _Gloucester_, hit the _Pluton_ directly amidship, and with a
crash and a splutter she broke and sank, leaving the still living
members of her crew struggling in the boiling waters for their lives.

Left to herself, the _Furor_ again paused, like some wild animal seeking
in vain for cover. She started to get behind the _Oquendo_, but, in
spite of the fire from the shore batteries, the _Gloucester_ went in
after her, with every available gun doing its utmost, and fairly filling
her with small holes. At last the destroyer could stand it no longer,
and with a lurch she struck on a reef and began to break. In a moment
more the water poured over her sides, and her crew was compelled to
surrender. The instant the surrender was made, the converted yacht, from
being an angel of vengeance, became an angel of mercy, and to gallant
Lieutenant-commander Wainwright fell the honor of rescuing hundreds of
wounded and drowning Spaniards who must otherwise have perished.

Such was the close of this running fight. At the front, the four big
warships were still trying to push on, with the _Brooklyn_, _Oregon_,
_Iowa_, _Texas_, and _Indiana_ in the chase. With a full head of steam
the noble _Oregon_ reached a position between Commodore Schley's
flagship and the _Texas_, and every vessel in the line belched forth its
messengers of death and destruction.

Presently a cry echoed throughout the squadron regarding the _Oquendo_.
"She is on fire! See, she is burning in three places!"

The report was true. A shell had burst near the quarterdeck of the
warship, and now high to the sky arose a column of yellowish red smoke.
Then the flames burst out of her bow. In vain the Spaniards tried to man
their fire-hose. A shower of projectiles from the fighting-tops of our
own ships assailed them and drove them to shelter, while the big guns
continued to "pump up" shot and shell as never before.

But the _Oquendo_ was no worse off than the _Maria Teresa_, if as badly.
She staggered on, and a few minutes later passed her sister ship as if
looking for aid, when aid could not be given.

"The _Maria Teresa_ is on fire!" was the next cry, but a few minutes
later. "Down goes Cervera's flag! Hurrah, boys, we've got em 'on the
run! Give it to 'em hot!"

Yes, the admiral's flag was down, and so was the mast that had held it.
Would the Spanish emblem go up again? All watched anxiously, and
meanwhile the _Brooklyn_ continued to pour in her hottest fire.

"She's going ashore!" rang through the American flagship. "She's burning
up!" and then came a heavy shot from the _Brooklyn_, another from the
_Texas_, and staggering like a thing of life, the _Maria Teresa_ ran for
the beach, a mass of seething and roaring flames. Admiral Cervera's doom
was sealed. Five minutes later the _Oquendo_ was also cast on the shore.

Four of the enemy's ships had been laid low, but the great fight was by
no means over. Shot and shell were flying around the _Vizcaya_ and
_Cristobal Colon_, but both warships kept on their way, the _Colon_
slowly but surely forging to the front. Both Spanish ships were
returning the Americans' hot fire, and many a shot hit the _Brooklyn_
and many a shell burst over her deck. But as yet no serious damage had
been inflicted.

But a calamity was at hand, as rapid in its execution as it was
appalling. Near the forward eight-inch turret George Ellis was standing,
watching the struggle of the enemy's ships to escape.

"Ellis, give us the range again!" shouted Captain Cook.

"I'll have it in a moment, captain," answered the chief yeoman, and took
up his stadiometer. Making his calculation, he turned to Commodore
Schley, who was but a short distance away. "It is fourteen hundred yards
to the _Vizcaya_, sir," he said.

These were the last words he ever uttered, for an instant after there
was the whistling of a shell, and those standing around were horrified
to see Ellis's headless body drop to the deck below. The poor fellow had
been killed instantly, in the very midst of his duties. What a shock
this was to those about him I will leave my readers to imagine. Never
until now had they realized what this awful war meant. "Poor Ellis, he
was such a fine man!" murmured one comrade as he turned away. And then
his face grew even more sober. "But he's the first on board of this
ship. What of those poor Dons yonder, who are going down by the
wholesale?" And though they were enemies, his heart beat in sympathy for
the poor wretches who were struggling madly amid shot, shell, fire, and
water for their lives. Fortunately the _Iowa_ was already coming to the
succor of the defeated ones.

"We're going to catch it now, lad," remarked Caleb to Walter, as he
pointed through a rift in the cloud of smoke hanging over the gun.
"There are two of the enemy's ships, and they are both going to pound
us. Where in the world are our other vessels?"

"The _Oregon_ is coming up!" came from the after-deck, a minute later.
"And the _Texas_ isn't far behind."

Around the gun it was suffocating, and every hand was ready to drop.
Indeed, fainting fits were frequent, but the most that could be done for
a sufferer was to either throw some water over his head or yell out to
the surgeons' helpers to carry the men to the ward room for treatment.
As the _Brooklyn_ was struck here and there, splinters began to fly, and
a number were injured, although no one seriously.

The _Texas_ had done wonderful work on the _Maria Teresa_ and the
_Oquendo_, and now did her best to keep to the front of the chase. But
the speed was too great for her, and gradually she dropped behind,
although still continuing to throw shot and shell after the _Vizcaya_
that had dropped some distance behind the _Colon_. It was now apparent
to all that if any vessel was going to get away it was to be the
_Colon_, for her speed was greater than the _Vizcaya_ and as yet she had
hardly been touched.

"The _Vizcaya_, boys, the _Vizcaya_!" came the cry from the quarterdeck.
"Don't let her screen the _Colon_!"

"We'll pound 'em both!" was the answer. "Remember the _Maine_! Remember
Manila Bay!"

And then the mighty guns of the _Brooklyn_ and _Oregon_ roared out
swifter than ever, and the _Vizcaya_, doing her best to sink one or the
other of the American warships, was raked as if passing through a
blizzard of fire, until her men were forced again and again from their
posts, and at last the guns were abandoned. Then fire caught the craft
in its awful embrace, and rolling from side to side, she, too, sought
for a harbor of refuge, but found none. Down came her colors, and at the
same instant she struck with a crash on the rocks. The fight had started
at quarter to ten. Now it was but quarter past eleven,--just an hour and
a half,--and all the Spanish ships but one had been destroyed. Such is
the appalling swiftness of modern naval warfare. Where in olden days
jack tars had fought for hours, they now fought for minutes.

But the destruction of the _Vizcaya_ had taken time, and the _Colon_ was
forging onward, panting and throbbing like a thing of life trying to
escape from unspeakable terrors. Down in the bowels of the warship the
furnaces were at a white heat, and the engineers had long since pushed
their engines far past the danger point. "Faster! faster!" came the cry
from the deck and tower. "It will be better to blow up than to allow the
Yankee pigs to sink us. We must save at least one ship!" And the engines
pounded and quivered, threatening each instant to blow into a million
pieces. For once Don Quixote was making the run of his life.

Unable to stand the heat, Walter had obtained permission to lay off for
a few minutes and get some fresh air. A look from the spar deck had
showed him the _Colon_ dashing far ahead, enveloped in a thin line of
smoke. Every few seconds a flash of fire would come from her stern guns,
but the marksmanship was poor and no serious damage was done to the
_Brooklyn_.

The boy returned to his gun to find Caleb and the others in deep
perplexity. Something was wrong with a shell, and it had become wedged
in the gun and could not be pushed forward to its proper place or hauled
back. "We can't use Polly any more!" groaned Caleb.

"I'll fix her!" cried Si Doring, and caught up a rammer. In a moment the
brave Yankee lad was crawling out over the smoking piece toward the
muzzle. But he had scarcely reached the outward end of the gun than the
_Brooklyn_ gave a lurch and down he slipped over the side and into
space!



CHAPTER XXX

FINAL SCENES OF THE GREAT FIGHT


"Si has fallen overboard!"

The cry came from half a dozen throats at once, and Walter's heart
almost stopped beating, so attached had he become to the Yankee lad.

"If he's overboard, he'll be sucked under and drowned," he groaned. "I
wonder if I can see anything of him."

Without a second thought he leaped on the gun and began to crawl out, on
hands and knees, as perilous a thing to do, with the vessel going at
full speed, as one would care to undertake.

"Come back!" roared Caleb, trying to detain him. "You'll go overboard,
too."

At that moment came a cry from below, and looking down the steel side of
the _Brooklyn_, Walter beheld Si clinging to a rope ladder, one of
several flung over, to be used in case of emergency. "Si, are you all
right?" he called loudly.

"I--reckon--I--I am," came with a pant.

"But I had an awful tumble and the wind is about knocked out o' me." And
then Si began to climb up to the deck.

"He's on the ladder and he's all right," shouted Walter, to those still
behind the gun. Then a sudden idea struck him. "Hand me another rammer,
Stuben."

"Mine cracious! don't you try dot," cried the hose-man. "You vos fall
ofer chust like Si."

"Yes, come in here," put in Caleb, and Paul also called upon him to
return.

"I'm all right," was the boy's reply. "Give it to me, Stuben." And
catching the rammer from the hose-man, Steve Colton passed it forward.
"In war we have got to take some risks," he reasoned, as Caleb gave him
a severe look.

"Then why didn't you get out on the gun, Steve?" was the old gunner's
dry response; and the second gun captain said no more.

Rammer in hand, Walter edged closer and closer to the muzzle of the
Polly. The _Brooklyn_ was moving up and down over the long green waves,
sending the spray flying on both sides of the bow. He gave one look
down, felt himself growing dizzy, and then kept his eyes on the gun.

[Illustration: RAMMER IN HAND, WALTER EDGED CLOSE TO THE MUZZLE.]

At last the muzzle was gained, and not without difficulty the rammer was
inserted. The projectile had not been very tightly wedged, and a firm
pressure sent it backward, so that Caleb could catch it and pull it out
through the breech. Then throwing the rammer aboard, Walter lost no time
in coming in again. He had been exposed to the direct fire of the enemy,
but no shot had come near him.

"Boy, you're too plucky," exclaimed Caleb, catching him by the shoulder.
"You ought to be flogged for your daring. Let me see your hands. Ah,
just as I thought; both of 'em blistered. Go and put some sweet oil on
'em, and a bit of flour. I'll bet the end of Polly is red-hot."

"Well, it is pretty hot," replied Walter, and then he was glad enough to
follow Caleb's advice, for both hands smarted a good deal. Soon Si
joined him, to get something for his hands also.

The _Colon_ had now drawn out of range, so firing would have been a
useless waste of ammunition. Down to the gunners came the order: "Cease
firing." And a moment later, "All hands on deck for an airing." What a
laughing and shouting ensued as the jackies poured up, to secure the
best viewing places they could within the ship's regulations. Hot,
tired, ready to drop from exhaustion, they shook hands with each other,
sang, laughed, and whistled.

"Three cheers for Commodore Schley!" came suddenly from somebody, and
the cheers came with vigor, and a tiger, and then came a cheer for
Captain Cook and a cheer for the _Oregon_, coming up with ever
increasing speed. The _Oregon's_ men cheered in return, and for a moment
one would have thought this was holiday-making instead of grim war.

The _Colon_ was close to shore, while the _Brooklyn_ and the _Oregon_
lay from two to three miles out to sea. Some miles farther westward the
Cuban shore slopes southward to Cape Cruz. If the _Colon_ kept on her
present course she would have to make for the cape, thus coming down
toward the American warships. "We will catch her there," said Commodore
Schley, confidently.

The _Oregon_ was flying the signal "Remember the _Maine_" from her
masthead, and as she drew still closer to the _Brooklyn_, another shout
of approval went up. The two warships would fight the _Colon_ between
them, if only they could get within range.

It was now noontime, and a hasty mess was served all around, and the men
continued to air themselves, something easy to do with the ponderous
ship speeding the waters at an eighteen-knot rate. Suddenly from the
_Oregon_ came the boom of a thirteen-inch gun, and the shell fell just
astern of the _Colon_, sending the water up like a fountain. The battle
was again on.

"Now for it!" cried Caleb, as the Spanish warship turned southward down
the coast, and the Polly spoke up as fiercely as at any time during the
contest.

"The Spaniards are losing heart!" came the cry, a few minutes later.
"They ain't doing half the firing they were!"

It was true; the _Colon_ was running short of ammunition, and her
officers saw what a hopeless fight a contest with the _Brooklyn_ and
_Oregon_ would prove to be. With shot and shell falling all around him,
Captain Moreu hauled down his flag and sent his ship ashore at Rio
Tarquino.

The battle was won, and Dewey's magnificent victory at Manila, which the
world in general had declared was a miracle that could not be matched,
had been duplicated. Henceforth American warships and American sailors
would stand as the equals of any nation on the face of the globe.

And now that the contest was over what was to follow? To me, the hours
that came after are even greater in honor than those glorious hours of
victory. Already down the shore, the work of rescuing the sailors and
marines from the _Maria Teresa_, _Oquendo_, and _Vizcaya_ had begun, and
now the crews of the _Brooklyn_ and _Oregon_ turned in to aid the
wounded and the dying, and those in danger of drowning, on the _Colon_.
Boat after boat went out, close to the sinking cruiser, now burning
fiercely, with abandoned guns going off, loose powder and shells
exploding, and magazines in danger of tearing all asunder. Amid such
perils did our noble jackies work, hauling man after man from the ship,
or from the water, and taking them to our own warships, there to be
cared for as tenderly as though they were our own. Some of the Spaniards
could not understand this treatment. They had been told that the
Americans were butchers and had no hearts, and when they realized the
truth many burst into tears of joy.

When the battle was all over, some of our officers and men could not
comprehend what had been accomplished--that a whole fleet of Spanish
warships had been destroyed, that hundreds of men had been killed and
many more wounded and taken prisoners, and that the loss to our side had
been but one man killed, a handful wounded, and no ship seriously
damaged. "It was an act of Providence," said more than one, and Captain
Philip of the _Texas_ spoke thus to his crew, as he gathered all around
him on this never-to-be-forgotten Sunday, so bright and clear:--

"I wish to make confession that I have implicit faith in God and in the
officers and crew of the _Texas_, but my faith in you is only secondary
to my faith in God. We have seen what He has done for us, in allowing us
to achieve so great a victory, and I want to ask all of you, or at least
every man who has no scruples, to uncover his head with me and silently
offer a word of thanks to God for His goodness toward us all." The
thanks were given, some dropping upon their knees to deliver them, and
this outpouring of hearts travelled from one ship to another throughout
the entire fleet.

"Poor Ellis!" said Walter; "the only seaman to give up his life! It's
too bad!" And when George Ellis's body was buried with all naval honors
he wept as bitterly as did anybody on board of the flagship.

The victory had been gained, but the work of the fleet was not yet over.
The army still occupied the outskirts of Santiago, and General Shafter
had sent word to General Toral that unless he surrendered, the city
would be shelled Monday morning. At a conference with Admiral Sampson,
later on, it was decided that the fleet should take part in the
bombardment even if it was necessary to force an entrance into the
harbor. Without delay our warships were gotten into condition for this
task.

But the bombardment did not come--for the reason that both on land and
sea the enemy had had enough of fighting. Several days passed, and the
conditions of a surrender were discussed. In the meantime Lieutenant
Hobson and his men were released and turned over to us in exchange for a
number of Spanish prisoners. Several of the men remembered seeing
Walter, and were glad to learn that the youth had escaped.

The battle on sea had taken place on July the third, and my readers can
imagine what a glorious Fourth of July followed, not only among the
soldiers and sailors, but among our people at large. All over the land
cannons boomed, pistols cracked, rockets flared, bells pealed forth, and
bands played for the marching of thousands. It was a real old-fashioned
"Yankee Doodle time," as one down-east paper put it, and North, South,
East, and West united in celebrating as never before. Less than two
weeks later Santiago surrendered, a peace protocol followed; and the war
with Spain came to an end.



CHAPTER XXXI

TOGETHER ONCE MORE--CONCLUSION


"And now that business is finished, an' I'm most awfully glad on it;
yes, I am!"

It was Job Dowling who spoke. The uncle and guardian of the three
Russell boys was sitting by the side window of his home in Buffalo. In
his lap lay a small, flat package, which had been wrapped in heavy brown
paper and well sealed. In his hand was an open letter which he had just
finished reading.

"It was a dreadful price to pay thet detective," he resumed. "But I
couldn't git them hairlooms back no other way, and I'm afraid the boys
would raise the roof ef I didn't git 'em back. It's a comfort to know
thet thief was caught and is going to be tried for even a wuss crime
than stealin' them rings an' the watch an' the Australian diamond. I
hope they give him about twenty years in prison." He paused to put the
package away in his dilapidated secretary. "So Ben is coming home this
week? I wonder what he'll have to say when he faces me? Somehow, I don't
know wot I'm going to say myself." And he dropped into his chair again.

Job Dowling was a different man from what he had been. The determined
stand taken by Larry, Walter, and Ben had opened his eyes to the
knowledge that he had no mere children to deal with, but boys who were
almost men, and who were fully capable of taking care of themselves. His
visit to New York, when he was robbed of the Russell heirlooms, had
caused him considerable loss of self-confidence, and the trip to Boston
after the thief had awakened him to the fact that, after all, he was of
but little importance in this world. His efforts to help the police
recover the heirlooms had been laughed at, and even the detective had
shown him plainly that he was hindering more than he was helping.
Finally he had returned home in disgust, and the detective had finished
the work on the case alone, recovered everything, and sent Deck Mumpers
to jail to stand trial on half a dozen charges. The detective's bill had
been over two hundred dollars, a sum the paying of which had nearly
given Job Dowling a fit; but now the whole thing was settled and he was
awaiting Ben's return, for the gallant young volunteer had been shot in
the left arm on the day before Santiago surrendered, and was coming home
on sick leave.

Ding! ding! it was a double ring at the front-door bell, and before Mrs.
Graham, the new housekeeper, and a great improvement on the tartar-like
Mrs. Rafferty, could get to the door, Job Dowling was there himself.

"Ben an' Walter!" he exclaimed, as he found himself confronted by two
nephews instead of one, as expected. "Well--er, how is this?"

"How do you do, Uncle Job!" exclaimed Ben, extending his hand.

"Aren't you glad to see me too, Uncle Job?" put in Walter.

"Why--er--of course, of course!" came with a stammer; and Job Dowling
held out both of his bony hands. "Come right in. This is Mrs. Graham, my
new workwoman." And the lady of the house, dressed in a neat wrapper and
with a clean kitchen apron on, came forward and bowed. "Knows a sight
more than Mrs. Rafferty did," went on the uncle, in a whisper.

"I didn't know Walter was coming on till day before yesterday,"
continued Ben. "We met quite by accident in New York, and we made up to
come on together and surprise you."

"I see--I see." Job Dowling was still very nervous, and he could hardly
tell why. At one instant he thought he ought to quarrel with them, the
next that it would be quite proper to embrace them and tell them they
were forgiven and could henceforth do as they saw proper. But he chose a
middle course and did neither. "Sit down and make yourselves to hum,
and, Mrs. Graham, you had best get a few extry chops--three won't be
enough. Tell Boggs to send me the best on the stand."

At this order Walter nudged Ben, and both looked at each other and
smiled. "He's reforming," whispered the young sailor. "Only give him
time, and he'll be all right."

"Yes, Mr. Dowling," put in the housekeeper. "And you said something
about pie yesterday, when Master Ben should come. What of that?"

"Ah, yes, so I did, so I did." The former miser wrinkled his brow. "How
much does a pie cost?"

"Ten and twenty cents."

"Boys, do you think you could eat a twenty-cent pie?"

"Do we?" cried Walter. "Just try us and see, Uncle Job." And now he
clasped his guardian half affectionately by the shoulder.

"Then get the twenty-cent pie, Mrs. Graham, and be sure an' pick out the
best. You--er--have the other things?"

"Yes, sir--potatoes, green corn, and coffee."

"Very good." And as the housekeeper retired, Job Dowling turned to the
boys again. "And how is your arm, Ben? Not seriously hurt, I trust?"

"It's only a scratch," was the answer.

"And you, Walter?"

"I'm all right. But how have you been, Uncle Job, and what of that
stolen stuff?"

"Oh, I'm only tolerable--got quite some rheumatism. The hairlooms is all
safe--but they cost me two hundred and twenty-seven dollars an' a half
to git 'em!" And the guardian nodded to emphasize his words.

"Well, they're worth it," answered Ben, promptly; and Job Dowling did
not dare dispute the assertion. "Where are they?"

"In the desk. I'll show 'em to you, and then ye can both tell me all
about yer adventures on the water and in Cuby."

The heirlooms had just been brought out, and Ben was examining the
watch, when a form darkened the window opening,--the form of a boy
dressed in a natty sailor suit. All looked up in wonder, and all cried
out in unison:----

"Larry!"

"Ben, Walter, and Uncle Job!" came from the youth who had fought so
gallantly under Dewey at Manila. "Here's a family gathering, for sure!"
And with a light leap he cleared the window-sill and actually fell into
his brothers' arms, while Job Dowling looked on with a half smile on his
wrinkled face.

"I couldn't remain away from the United States any longer," explained
Larry, when, an hour after, all sat down to the really excellent dinner
Job Dowling had provided. "While I was at Hong Kong I got a good chance
to ship on a steamer for San Francisco, and we came home on the
double-quick, for the government had chartered the vessel to carry
troops to the Philippines. Maybe I'll go back under Dewey some time, but
not just yet. I've got some prize money coming to me, I don't know yet
how much, and I'll lie off to see."

"And I've got prize money coming, too," added Walter. "I like the navy
first-rate, and shall stick to it for the present, even if I have a
chance of being mustered out."

"I haven't any prize money coming, but I am to be a second lieutenant of
volunteers," put in Ben. "Our regiment is to be mustered out very soon,
and then I'm going to try for something else in the same line."

"And what is that, Ben?" asked Job Dowling and the other boys together.

"I'm going to try for a commission in the regular army."

"Hurrah! that's the talk!" came from Larry. "And if you stay in the
army, I'll see what I can do toward working my way up in the navy."

Then both lads looked toward their guardian. Job Dowling scratched his
chin in perplexity, and cleared his throat.

"All right, boys--I should say young men, fer ye ain't none o' ye boys
no more--go an' do as ye please, I ain't got nothin' agin' it. You have
all done yer duty to Uncle Sam, an' thet bein' so, it stands to reason
ye are capable o' doin' yer duty to yerselves an' to me. To look back it
'pears to me thet I made some kind of a mistake at the start with ye,
an' so I say, you willin' an' me willin', we'll take a fresh start,--an'
there's my hand on't."

"Uncle Job, you're a--a brick!" came from Walter, and a general
handshaking followed, and then, as Mrs. Graham came on with a coffee-pot
and the dessert, Ben arose with the cup in his hand.

"Boys, let us drink Uncle Job's health in a cup of coffee!"

"We will!" came from his brothers.

"And eat it, too,--in a piece of that pie!" concluded the
ever-lighthearted Larry.

       *       *       *       *       *

Here we will bring to a close the story of Walter Russell's adventures
while "Fighting in Cuban Waters," which has taken us through a thrilling
naval campaign and shown us what true American pluck can accomplish even
under the most trying circumstances.

As my readers know, the Russell boys had a large inheritance coming to
them, and now that Job Dowling had come to his senses regarding a proper
treatment of them, it was to be hoped that matters would move much more
smoothly for all concerned.

Through Larry it was learned that his old-time friend, Luke Striker, was
still with Dewey in Philippine waters and had been promoted to the
position of first gun-captain on board the _Olympia_, much to the old
Yankee's credit and delight.

Frank Bulkley, Ben's soldier chum, was still sick with the fever, but
was at his home in the metropolis, and was out of danger, which was much
to be thankful for, considering what awful havoc that fever had made
with the army of invasion.

Walter's friends were all on the _Brooklyn_, and it was not long before
the lad was anxious to get back to them, for he had become very much
attached to the noble flagship that had rendered such a good account of
herself in the mighty conflict with Cervera's fleet.

Gilbert Pennington, Ben's friend of the Rough Riders, was in Cuba, but
expected to come north shortly. Gilbert had an offer of a position as
bookkeeper with an importing firm in New York, but was destined to see a
good deal more of fighting ere he settled to work behind a desk.

When Ben spoke of trying for a commission, and Larry said he should
remain in the navy, both thought that fighting for the American army and
navy was at an end. This supposition was correct so far as Spain was
concerned, but the insurgents in the Philippines under General Aguinaldo
refused to recognize Uncle Sam's authority, and it was not long before a
large army had to be sent to Manila and other points, to coöperate with
Dewey in restoring peace and order. Ben could not resist the temptation
to join these soldiers in a distant clime, and with more fighting in
view, Larry hastened to rejoin the _Olympia_. In another volume, to be
entitled, "Under Otis in the Philippines; Or, A Young Officer in the
Tropics," we shall follow the future adventures of these two brothers,
and shall also see more of Gilbert Pennington, Luke Striker, and several
others of our old acquaintances.

And now, for the time being, good-by to all our friends, and especially
to Walter Russell, the American lad who made such a record for pluck
while "Fighting in Cuban Waters."



By EDWARD STRATEMEYER


THE OLD GLORY SERIES


    UNDER DEWEY AT MANILA Or the War Fortunes of a Castaway.

    A YOUNG VOLUNTEER IN CUBA Or Fighting for the Single Star.

    FIGHTING IN CUBAN WATERS Or Under Schley on the Brooklyn.

     "'Under Dewey at Manila' is a thoroughly timely book, in
     perfect sympathy with the patriotism of the day. Its title is
     conducive to its perusing, and its reading to anticipation. For
     the volume is but the first of the Old Glory Series, and the
     imprint is that of the famed firm of Lee and Shepard, whose
     name has been for so many years linked with the publications of
     Oliver Optic. As a matter of fact, the story is right in line
     with the productions of that gifted and most fascinating of
     authors, and certainly there is every cause for congratulation
     that the stirring events of our recent war are not to lose
     their value for instruction through that valuable school which
     the late William T. Adams made so individually distinctive.

     "Edward Stratemeyer, who is the author of the present work, has
     proved an extraordinarily apt scholar, and had the book
     appeared anonymously there could hardly have failed of a
     unanimous opinion that a miracle had enabled the writer of the
     famous Army and Navy and other series to resume his pen for the
     volume in hand. Mr. Stratemeyer has acquired in a wonderfully
     successful degree the knack of writing an interesting
     educational story which will appeal to the young people, and
     the plan of his trio of books as outlined cannot fail to prove
     both interesting and valuable."--_Boston Ideas._

     "Stratemeyer's style suits the boys."--JOHN TERHUNE, _Supt. of
     Public Instruction, Bergen Co., New Jersey._

     "'The Young Volunteer in Cuba,' the second of the Old Glory
     Series, is better than the first; perhaps it traverses more
     familiar ground. Ben Russell, the brother of Larry, who was
     'with Dewey,' enlists with the volunteers and goes to Cuba,
     where he shares in the abundance of adventure and has a chance
     to show his courage and honesty and manliness, which win their
     reward. A good book for boys, giving a good deal of information
     in a most attractive form."--_Universalist Leader._


THE BOUND TO SUCCEED SERIES


    RICHARD DARE'S VENTURE Or Striking Out for Himself.

    OLIVER BRIGHTS SEARCH Or The Mystery of a Mine.

    TO ALASKA FOR GOLD Or The Fortune Hunters of the Yukon.

     "In 'Richard Dare's Venture,' Edward Stratemeyer has fully
     sustained his reputation as an entertaining, helpful, and
     instructive writer for boys."--_Philadelphia Call._

     "'Richard Dare's Venture,' by Edward Stratemeyer, tells the
     story of a country lad who goes to New York to earn enough to
     support his widowed mother and orphaned sisters. Richard's
     energy, uprightness of character, and good sense carry him
     through some trying experiences, and gain him friends."--_The
     Churchman_, New York.

     "A breezy boy's book is 'Oliver Bright's Search.' The author
     has a direct, graphic style, and every healthy minded youth
     will enjoy the volume."--_N. Y. Commercial Advertiser._

     "'Richard Dare's Venture' is a fresh, wholesome book to put
     into a boy's hands."--_St. Louis Post Dispatch._

     "'Richard Dare's Venture' is a wholesome story of a practical
     boy who made a way for himself when thrown upon his own
     resources."--_Christian Advocate._

     "It is such books as 'Richard Dare's Venture' that are
     calculated to inspire young readers with a determination to
     succeed in life, and to choose some honorable walk in which to
     find that success. The author, Edward Stratemeyer, has shown a
     judgment that is altogether too rare in the makers of books for
     boys, in that he has avoided that sort of heroics in the
     picturing of the life of his hero which deals in adventures of
     the daredevil sort. In that respect alone the book commends
     itself to the favor of parents who have a regard for the
     education of their sons, but the story is sufficiently
     enlivening and often thrilling to satisfy the healthful desires
     of the young reader."--_Kansas City Star._

     "Of standard writers of boys' stories there is quite a list,
     but those who have not read any by Edward Stratemeyer have
     missed a very goodly thing."--_Boston Ideas._



BY EVERETT T. TOMLINSON


THE WAR OF 1812 SERIES

COMPRISING

    The Search for Andrew Field
    The Boy Soldiers of 1812
    The Boy Officers of 1812
    Tecumseh's Young Braves
    Guarding the Border
    The Boys with Old Hickory


Mr. Tomlinson, who knows the "ins and outs" of boy nature by heart, is
one of the most entertaining and at the same time one of the most
instructive of living writers of juvenile fiction. In his younger days a
teacher by profession, he has made boys and their idiosyncrasies the
absorbing study of his life, and, with the accumulated experience of
years to aid him, has applied himself to the task of preparing for their
mental delectation a diet that shall be at once wholesome and
attractive; and that his efforts in this laudable direction have been
successful is conclusively proven by his popularity among boy readers.


LIBRARY OF HEROIC EVENTS

STORIES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION _First Series_

STORIES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION _Second Series_



By OLIVER OPTIC

All-Over-the-World Library.

     A Missing Million; or, The Adventures of Louis Belgrade.

     A Millionaire at Sixteen; or, The Cruise of the "Guardian
     Mother."

     A Young Knight Errant; or, Cruising in the West Indies.

     Strange Sights Abroad; or, Adventures in European Waters

No author has come before the public during the present generation who
has achieved a larger and more deserving popularity among young people
than "Oliver Optic." His stories have been very numerous, but they have
been uniformly excellent in moral tone and literary quality. As
indicated in the general title, it is the author's intention to conduct
the readers of this entertaining series "around the world." As a means
to this end, the hero of the story purchases a steamer which he names
the "Guardian Mother," and with a number of guests she proceeds on her
voyage.--_Christian Work, N. Y._


All-Over-the-World Library. Second Series.


     American Boys Afloat; or, Cruising in the Orient.

     The Young Navigators; or, The Foreign Cruise of the "Maud."

     Up and Down the Nile; or, Young Adventurers in Africa.

     Asiatic Breezes; or, Students on the Wing.


The interest in these stories is continuous, and there is a great
variety of exciting incident woven into the solid information which the
book imparts so generously and without the slightest suspicion of
dryness. Manly boys will welcome this volume as cordially as they did
its predecessors.--_Boston Gazette._


All-Over-the-World Library. Third Series.


     Across India; or, Live Boys in the Far East.

     Half Round the World; or, Among the Uncivilized.

     Four Young Explorers; or, Sight-seeing in the Tropics.

     Pacific Shores; or, Adventures in Eastern Seas.


Amid such new and varied surroundings it would be surprising indeed if
the author, with his faculty of making even the commonplace attractive,
did not tell an intensely interesting story of adventure, as well as
give much information in regard to the distant countries through which
our friends pass, and the strange peoples with whom they are brought in
contact. This book, and indeed the whole series, is admirably adapted to
reading aloud in the family circle, each volume containing matter which
will interest all the members of the family.--_Boston Budget._





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