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Title: With Beatty off Jutland - A Romance of the Great Sea Fight
Author: Westerman, Percy F. (Percy Francis), 1876-1959
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With Beatty off Jutland - A Romance of the Great Sea Fight" ***

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[Illustration: Cover art]


                        With Beatty off Jutland

                    A Romance of the Great Sea Fight


                           PERCY F. WESTERMAN

                   Author of "The Submarine Hunters"
                        "A Sub and a Submarine"
                         "The Dispatch Riders"
                                &c. &c.

                  _Illustrated by Frank Gillett, R.I._

                         BLACKIE & SON LIMITED
                           LONDON AND GLASGOW

By Percy F. Westerman

Rivals of the Reef.
A Shanghai Adventure.
Pat Stobart in the "Golden Dawn".
The Junior Cadet.
Captain Starlight.
The Sea-Girt Fortress.
On the Wings of the Wind.
Captured at Tripoli.
Captain Blundell’s Treasure.
The Third Officer.
Unconquered Wings.
The Buccaneers of Boya.
The Riddle of the Air.
Chums of the "Golden Vanity".
The Luck of the "Golden Dawn".
Clipped Wings.
The Salving of the "Fusi Yama".
Winning his Wings.
A Lively Bit of the Front.
A Cadet of the Mercantile Marine.
The Good Ship "Golden Effort".
East in the "Golden Gain".
The Quest of the "Golden Hope".
Sea Scouts Abroad.
Sea Scouts Up-Channel.
The Wireless Officer.
A Lad of Grit.
The Submarine Hunters.
Sea Scouts All.
The Thick of the Fray,
A Sub and a Submarine.
Under the White Ensign.
The Fight for Constantinople.
With Beatty off Jutland.

       _Printed in Great Britain by Blackie & Son, Ltd., Glasgow_



    CHAPTER I--The Ward-room of H.M.S. "Calder"
    CHAPTER II--The Recovered Cable
    CHAPTER III--The Stranded Submarine
    CHAPTER IV--Not Under Control
    CHAPTER V--Sefton to the Rescue
    CHAPTER VI--Action at the Double
    CHAPTER VII--In the Thick of the Fight
    CHAPTER VIII--The "Calder’s" Second Scoop
    CHAPTER IX--The "Warrior’s" Gallant Stand
    CHAPTER X--Battered but Unconquered
    CHAPTER XI--The Wrecked Sea-plane
    CHAPTER XII--The Night Attack
    CHAPTER XIII--Sefton in Command
    CHAPTER XIV--Out of the Fight
    CHAPTER XV--A Day of Suspense
    CHAPTER XVI--The Struggle in the Mountain Pass
    CHAPTER XVII--Safe in Port
    CHAPTER XVIII--Too Late!
    CHAPTER XIX--The Smack "Fidelity"
    CHAPTER XX--Captured
    CHAPTER XXII--The British Submarines at Work



"’Can you spare us any torpedoes?’ shouted Sefton" . . . _Frontispiece_
"’We surrender make....  We haf a leak sprung’"
"Without hesitation Sefton made a flying leap over the guard rails"
"Poising himself for an instant, Sefton leapt on the ’Calder’s’ deck"
"She sent a huge shell at point-blank range crashing into the
light-built hull"
"The ’Calder’ had played her part, and it seemed base ingratitude to
leave her to founder"

                        WITH BEATTY OFF JUTLAND

CHAPTER I--The Ward-room of H.M.S. "Calder"

A cold grey morning in April somewhere in the North Sea; to be more
exact, 18 miles N. 75° W. of the Haisborough Lightship.

Viewed from the fore-bridge of H.M. torpedo-boat destroyer _Calder_,
there was little in the outlook to suggest that a state of war had
existed for twenty months.  The same short steep seas, the same lowering
sky, the almost unbroken horizon towards which many anxious glances were
hourly directed in the hope that "they" had at last come out.

Two cables’ distance from the _Calder_, a typical trawler, with dense
columns of smoke issuing from her funnel, was forging slowly ahead.
Another vessel of a similar type was steaming in almost the opposite
direction, and on a course that would bring her close under the stern of
the almost motionless destroyer.  From the galley funnel of each trawler
a trail of bluish smoke was issuing, the reek as it drifted across the
_Calder’s_ deck indicating pretty plainly the nature of the "hands’"
breakfast.  Of the crew of either craft no one was visible, the helmsman
in each case sheltering in the ugly squat wheel-house on the bridge.

Acting Sub-lieutenant Sefton brought his binoculars to bear upon the
nearmost trawler.  The action was merely a perfunctory one.  He knew
both trawlers almost about as much as their own crews did, and certainly
more than their respective owners in pre-war times.  For close on fifty
hours, watch in and watch out, the _Calder_ had been dancing attendance
on these two almost insignificant specimens of the North Sea
fishing-fleet--the _Carse o’ Gowrie_ and the _Dimpled Lassie_, both
registered at the port of Aberdeen.

Carrying bare steerage-way, the destroyer glided slowly past the
_Dimpled Lassie’s_ port quarter. From the trawler’s stern a flexible
wire hawser led beneath the foaming wake of the propeller, dipping with
a sag that did not gladden the heart of the young officer of the watch.

"Any luck yet?" shouted Sefton through an enormous megaphone.

At the hail two men’s heads appeared above the bulwarks aft, while a
greatcoated figure came in view from behind the storm-dodgers of the
trawler’s bridge.

"Not the least, sir," replied the master of the _Dimpled Lassie_, Peter
M’Kie, skipper R.N.R. "Are we right, sir?"

The acting-sub had a few minutes previously taken an observation.  The
destroyer was playing the part of nursemaid to the two trawlers, for
although both skippers could find their way, even in thick weather,
almost anywhere in the North Sea, solely by the aid of lead-line and
compass, neither had the faintest experience in the use of the sextant.

"Ought to be right over it," replied Sefton. "Carry on, and trust to

The trawlers were "creeping" with grapnels. Not for mines, although
there was always a possibility of hooking one of those fiendish
contrivances. That was a risk that the tough fisherman faced with an
equanimity bordering on fatalism.  Mine-sweeping they had engaged upon
almost continuously since the notable month of August, 1914.  Now they
were on particular service--a service of such importance and where so
much secrecy was imperative that these two Scottish trawlers had been
sent expressly from a northern base to scour the bed of the North Sea in
the neighbourhood of Great Yarmouth, where there were Government craft
for disposal in abundance.

Sefton replaced his binoculars, and, turning, found that his superior
officer had just come on deck and was standing at his elbow.

Lieutenant Richard Crosthwaite, D.S.O., the "owner" of the destroyer,
was one of those young officers who had made good use of the chances
that the war had thrown in his way.  Specially promoted for good work in
the Dardanelles, he found himself at a comparatively early age in
command of a destroyer that had already made a name for herself in the
gallant but ill-starred operations against the Turks.

"Well, Mr. Sefton?" he asked.

"Nothing much to report, sir," replied the acting-sub. "But we’ll get it
yet," he added confidently.

Evidently "it"--hardly ever referred to by any other designation--was
more elusive than Crosthwaite had imagined.  A shade of disappointment
flitted across his tanned features.  The task upon which the trawlers
were engaged was a matter of extreme urgency.  At Whitehall anxious
admirals awaited the news that "it" had been fished up; but "it",
reposing serenely on the bed of the North Sea, had resolutely declined
to receive the embraces of a couple of heavy grapnels.

Crosthwaite, after giving a searching glance to windward, stepped to the
head of the ladder.  An alert bos’n’s mate, awaiting the signal, piped
the starboard watch.  Saluting, Sefton gained the deck and went aft, his
mind dwelling on the prospects of breakfast and a much-needed sleep.

The ward-room, a scantily-furnished apartment extending the whole width
of the ship, was showing signs of activity.  From one of the adjoining
dog-boxes, termed by courtesy a cabin, a short, full-faced,
jovial-featured man had just emerged, clad in regulation trousers and a
sweater.  His curly light-brown hair was still wet, as the result of his
ablutions, a slight gash upon the point of his chin betokened the fact
that he had tempted fate by shaving in a stiff seaway, and by the aid of
an ordinary razor dulled by the penetrating salt air.

"Oh, it’s quiet down here----" he began singing in a ringing baritone.

"No need to rub that in, Pills," exclaimed a drawling voice.  "The fact
is patent to all.  Can’t you give us ’They don’t run Corridor Cars on
our Branch Line’ by way of a change?"

Thereon hung a tale: something that took place when Jimmy Stirling first
joined the mess at the Portsmouth Naval Barracks as a Probationary
Surgeon, R.N.V.R.

"I called attention to the fact that it was quiet down here with
deliberate intent, my festive Box-spanner," retorted the surgeon.  "At
last, after weeks of expostulation, your minions have succeeded in
quelling that demon of unrest, the steam steering-gear.  For the first
time for a fortnight I have slept serenely, and, thanks to that blessed
balm, I feel like a giant refreshed.  Now, how about it?"

He made a dive into the adjoining cabin, where the engineer-lieutenant
was in the act of struggling with a refractory collar.  The next instant
the two men lurched into the ward-room engaged in what looked to be a
mortal struggle.

Cannoning off the stove, sweeping a sheaf of books from the wall,
glissading from the cushioned lockers, the high-spirited officers
tackled each other with mock-serious desperation until, with a violent
heave, the athletic doctor deposited his engineering confrère fairly
upon the table.  With a series of crashes, cups, saucers, tureens,
teapot, coffee-pot, eggs and bacon sidled in an indescribable state of
chaos upon the floor.

"Time!" exclaimed Sefton authoritatively. "Look here, you fellows.  I
haven’t had my breakfast, and I suppose you haven’t had yours? Not that
it matters to me.  And, Pills, has your supply of bromide run out?"

The combatants separated and began taking stock of the damage.

"You logged a gale of wind last night, I hope, Sefton?" asked the
engineer-lieutenant in tones of mock anxiety.  "Must account for this
smash-up, you know----  Any luck?  Have they got it?"

The acting-sub, now that conversation had reverted to the inevitable
"it", was bound to admit that the preceding night’s labours had been
fruitless.  The possibilities of the recovery of the much-desired "it"
monopolized the attention of the occupants of the ward-room until the
steward, outwardly stolidly indifferent to the unsympathetic treatment
of his labours, provided another repast.

They were boyish and high-spirited officers on H.M.T.B.D. _Calder_.
Their pranks were but an antidote to the ceaseless strain of days and
nights of watch and ward.

"To get back to things mundane," persisted the engineer-lieutenant as
the trio sat down to their belated meal, "will they find it?"

"It is my firm belief that they will," replied Sefton decisively.  "Even
if we have to mark time about here for another month."

"Heaven forbid!" ejaculated the surgeon piously, "I pine for fresh
water.  Your vile condenser-brewed fluid is simply appalling, my festive
Box-spanner. And I yearn for newspapers less than a week old."

The engineer-lieutenant glared defiance at his medical confrère.  He
knew perfectly well that the water on board was brackish and insipid,
but it was condensed under his personal supervision.  Any disparaging
remarks upon his _métier_--even if uttered in jest--touched him to the

A resumption of the "scrap" seemed imminent, when a bluejacket, tapping
at the ward-room door, announced: "Captain’s compliments, sir; they’ve
just hooked it."

CHAPTER II--The Recovered Cable

Instantly there was a wild scramble on the part of the three officers to
gain the deck, all other topics of interest vanishing before the
all-important information.

A cable’s length on the port beam the _Carse o’ Gowrie_ was backing
gently astern in order to close with her consort.  The _Dimpled Lassie_
was pitching sluggishly.  Way had been taken off her, while over her
squat counter the wire hawser attached to the Lucas grapnel was
"straight up and down" under the steady strain of some heavy and still
submerged object.

From the destroyer’s bridge a signalman was semaphoring rapidly by means
of hand-flags.  The _Dimpled Lassie_ replied.  The man had just finished
delivering the message to Lieutenant-Commander Crosthwaite when Sefton
and the other officers gained the bridge.

"There’s no doubt about it now," declared Crosthwaite breezily.
"They’ve just reported that the thing is two fathoms off the bottom.
The _Carse o’ Gowrie_ is going to help take the strain."

"Hope it won’t carry away, sir," remarked Sefton.

"Never fear!  Where the patent grapnel grips, it holds.  What water have

A cast with the lead gave 19 fathoms, the tide having risen 7 feet.  The
tidal current was setting south-east a half east, with a velocity of 1-½

"Tide’ll be slacking in half an hour," said the skipper.  "The less
strain we get the better. Signalman!"


"Ask the _Dimpled Lassie_ to report the state of the dynometer."

Promptly came the reply that already the strain on the grapnel hawser
was 2-½ tons.

"And the breaking strain is four, sir," Sefton reminded his chief.

"We’ll get it all right," reiterated Crosthwaite. "Never fear."

His optimism was justified when forty-five minutes later the grapnel
sullenly bobbed above the surface, holding in its tightly-closed jaws
the bight of a large submarine electric cable.

"Let’s hope we’ve hooked the right one," muttered the

"You atom of despondency!" exclaimed Stirling.

"I state a possibility, not a probability, Pills," rejoined Boxspanner.
"It’s a three-to-one chance, you know."

Already a number of artificers, who had been temporarily detailed for
duty on board each of the trawlers, were hard at work in connection with
the retrieved cable.  What they were doing in connection must remain a
matter of conjecture, but the fact was patent that the success or
otherwise of unremitting toil depended upon the next few minutes.

Impatiently the young lieutenant-commander of the _Calder_ awaited a
further signal announcing the result of the investigations.  When it
came it was highly satisfactory.

"Thanks be for small mercies!" ejaculated Crosthwaite fervently.
"Signal M’Kie and tell him to take due precautions in case a ground
swell sets in from the east’ard."

The cable was one of three that in pre-war time connected the little
Norfolk fishing-village of Bacton with the German island of Borkum.  Two
more ran from Borkum to Lowestoft, the whole system being partly British
and partly German controlled.

Immediately upon the declaration of war the telegraph cables had been
severed, both in the neighbourhood of the British coast and in the
vicinity of the German island fortress.  To all intents and purposes it
seemed as if the cables were nothing more than useless cores of copper
encased in gutta-percha, rotting in the ooze on the bed of the North

Yet in spite of the most stringent precautions on the part of the
British Government to prevent a leakage of news, the disconcerting fact
remained that, thanks to an efficient and extensive espionage system,
information, especially relating to the movements of the Grand Fleet,
did reach Germany.

Various illicit means of communication were suspected by the
authorities, and drastic, though none the less highly necessary,
regulations were put into force that had the effect of reducing the
leakage to a minimum.

Simultaneously a campaign was opened against the use of wireless
installations.  Undoubtedly wireless played its part in the spies’ work,
but its efficacy was doubtful.  It could be "tapped"; its source of
agency could be located.  However beneficial in times of peace, it was a
two-edged weapon in war.

For a long time the British Government failed to unravel the secret,
until it was suggested that the submarine cables had been repaired.  And
this was precisely what had been done.  The Huns had promptly repaired
their end of one of the Bacton-Borkum lines, while a German trawler,
disguised as a Dutch fishing-boat, had grappled the severed end just
beyond the British three-mile limit.

To the recovered end was fixed a light india-rubber-covered cable.  This
would be sufficiently strong to outlast the duration of the war, the
scarcity of gutta-percha and the enormous weight of the finished cable
being prohibitive.  It was paid out from the trawler with considerable
rapidity, the end being buoyed and dropped overboard some miles from the
spot where the original cable used to land.  In the inky blackness of a
dark winter’s night a boat manned by German agents disguised as British
fishermen succeeded in recovering the light cable and taking it ashore.
Here it was a brief and simple matter to carry the line to a cottage on
the edge of the low cliff, burying the land portion in the sand.

For nearly eighteen months the secret wireless station had been in
active operation.  News culled from all the naval bases by trustworthy
German agents was surreptitiously communicated to the operators in the
little unsuspected Norfolk cottage and thence telegraphed to Borkum.

For the task of recovering the cable the utmost skill, caution, and
discretion were necessary.  The vessels detailed for the work were sent
from a far-off Scottish port with orders to make no communication with
the shore; while to protect them from possible interference the _Calder_
had been detached from the rest of the flotilla to stand by and direct

The _Dimpled Lassie_ was indeed fortunate in finding the cable in a
comparatively short space of time, and, what was more to the point, in
locating the right one of the three known to be in close proximity.
Contrast this performance with that of the cruiser _Huascar_ in the
Chilean-Peruvian War. That vessel tried for two days in shallow water to
sever the cable at Valparaiso.  The officer in charge had himself
assisted to lay that particular cable, but picked up the one
communicating with Iquique and severed that by mistake.

The only "fly in the ointment", as far as Lieutenant-Commander
Crosthwaite was concerned, was the anticipated fact that the _Calder_
would have to dance attendance upon the trawlers for an indefinite
period.  Once the mild excitement of grappling for the cable was over,
the _Calder_ was in the position of those who "serve who only stand and
wait". It was a necessary task to "stand by", but with vague rumours in
the air of naval activity on the part of the Huns, the officers and crew
of the destroyer would infinitely have preferred to be in the thick of
it, rather than detained within a few miles of the Norfolk and Suffolk

When at length interest in the proceeding had somewhat abated,
Sub-lieutenant Sefton went below to make up long arrears of sleep.

He had not turned in many minutes when Doctor Stirling gave him a
resounding whack on the back.

"Wake up, you lazy bounder!" exclaimed the surgeon.  "Didn’t you hear
’Action Stations’? We’ve got the whole German fleet coming for us."

CHAPTER III--The Stranded Submarine

"No such luck," protested Sefton, until, reading the serious look in the
medical officer’s eyes, and now conscious of a commotion on deck as the
ship’s company went to action stations, he started up, leapt from his
bunk, and hurriedly scrambled into his clothes.

Upon gaining the deck Sefton found that Stirling had exaggerated the
facts--he generally did, as a matter of fact.  Just looming through the
light haze were half a dozen large grey forms emitting tell-tale columns
of smoke; for, combined with the lack of Welsh steam coal and inferior
stoking, the Huns generally managed to betray their whereabouts by
volumes of black vapour from their funnels.

The ships were now steaming in double column, line ahead, and, having
left Smith’s Knoll well on the starboard hand, were running on a
southerly course to clear Winterton Ridge.

"Off to Yarmouth, I’ll swear," declared Crosthwaite.  "The bounders have
got wind of the fact that our battle-cruisers are well up north."

The _Calder_ was now approaching the two trawlers.  Grasping a
megaphone, the lieutenant-commander hailed the skipper of the _Carse o’

"German battle-cruisers in sight," he shouted. "You had better slip and
clear out."

The tough old Scot shaded his eyes with a hairy, tanned hand and looked
in the direction of the hostile craft.

"I’ll bide here, if ye have nae objection, sir," he replied.  "After all
this fuss, fetchin’ the cable an’ all, I’m nae keen on dropping it agen.
Maybe they’ll tak no notice of us, thinking we’re fisherfolk."

"The probability is that they’ll sink you," said Crosthwaite, secretly
gratified at the old man’s bravery, and yet unwilling to have to leave
the trawlers to their fate.

"If they do, they do," replied the skipper unmoved.  "It wouldna be the
first by many a one. But sin’ we hae the cable, here we bide."

Old Peter M’Kie was of a similar opinion.  Sink or swim, he meant to
stand by.  The _Carse o’ Gowrie_ and the _Dimpled Lassie_ were to remain
with the fished cable, since it was just possible that the Germans might
take them for ordinary trawlers, as the boats showed no guns.

The lieutenant-commander of the destroyer saw that it was of no use to
attempt to shake the resolution of the two skippers.  After all, they
stood a chance.  By remaining quietly, and riding to the raised cable,
they certainly had the appearance of fishing boats using their trawl,
while any attempts at flight might result in unpleasant attentions from
the number of torpedo-boats accompanying the German battle-cruisers.

Accordingly the _Calder_ slipped quietly away, keeping under the lee of
the Haisborough Sands to avoid being spotted by the enemy vessels.  It
was a genuine case of discretion being the better part of valour.
Although not a man of her crew would have blenched had orders been given
to steam full speed ahead towards the huge German battle-cruisers,
Crosthwaite realized that such a step would be utterly useless.  Long
before the destroyer could get within torpedo-range of the foe, she
would be swept clean and sent to the bottom under the concentrated fire
of fifty or more quick-firers.  Had it been night or thick weather the
_Calder_ would no doubt have attempted to get home with her 21-inch
torpedoes.  The risk would be worth running.  But, as matters now stood,
it would be sheer suicidal madness on her part, without the faintest
chance of accomplishing anything to justify the attempt.

Meanwhile the destroyer was sending out wireless messages reporting the
presence of the raiders. Busy in exchanging wireless signals with their
far-flung line of covering torpedo-boats, and with a couple of Zeppelins
that flew high overhead, the German vessels made no attempt to "jam" the
_Calder’s_ aerial warning.

Constantly ready for action at very brief notice, the British
battle-squadrons were under weigh within a few minutes of the receipt of
the _Calder’s_ message, and Beatty’s Cat Squadron was heading south-east
with all possible speed before the first hostile gun thundered against
Great Yarmouth.

"They’ve opened the one-sided ball," remarked Sefton as a dull boom from
the now invisible German ships--a single report that was quickly taken
up by other heavy weapons--was borne to the ears of the _Calder’s_ crew.
"And, by Jove, Whit-Monday too."

"Yes," assented the doctor.  "And ten to one the beach is crowded with
holiday-makers.  Before we left port, didn’t we see some idiotic report
in the papers stating that the East Coast would be ready for holiday
visitors ’as usual’?"

"Let’s hope the Huns will get cut off again," said the sub.  "Another
_Blücher_ or two will make them sit up."

"They’re too wary," replied the somewhat pessimistic medico.  "They’ve
been warned that the coast is clear.  Before the submarines from Harwich
can come up they’ll be off.  And with twelve hours of daylight in front
of them they’ll be back long before our sixth destroyer flotilla can
make a night attack."

For nearly twenty minutes the officers and men listened in silence to
the furious bombardment. Several of the latter had homes in the town
that now lay exposed to the enemy guns.  Realizing their helplessness,
they could only hope that the damage done was no greater than that of
the previous naval attack on the same place, and that this time the Cat
Squadron would intercept the raiders and exact a just and terrible

At length the firing ceased almost as suddenly as it had begun.  In vain
the destroyer’s crew waited long and anxiously for the renewal of the
cannonade in the offing that would announce the gratifying news that
Beatty had once more intercepted the returning Huns.

At 20 knots the _Calder_ returned towards the position in which she had
left the two trawlers. With feelings of relief it was seen that both
craft were still afloat and apparently all well.

Suddenly one of the look-outs raised the shout of: "Submarine on the
starboard bow, sir!"

Without a moment’s hesitation Crosthwaite telegraphed for full speed, at
the same time ordering the quartermaster to port helm.

A mile and a half away could be discerned the elongated conning-tower
and partly housed twin periscopes of a large submarine, although why in
broad daylight the unterseeboot--for such she undoubtedly was--exposed
her conning-tower above the surface was at first sight perplexing.

With the for’ard 4-inch quick-firer loaded and trained upon the meagre
target the _Calder_ leapt forward at a good 24 knots, ready at the first
sign of the submerging of the submarine to send a projectile crashing
into and pulverizing the thin steel plating of her conning-tower.

So intent was the lieutenant-commander upon his intended prey that he
had failed to notice the proximity of a black-and-white can buoy now
almost on the starboard bow.  It was not until Sefton reminded him of
the fact that he realized that the destroyer was doing her level best to
pile herself upon the Haisborough Sands--a feat that the German
submarine had already accomplished to the rage and mortification of her
officers and crew.

Listing violently outwards, the destroyer swung round clear of the
treacherous shoal, and for the first time Crosthwaite was aware of the
ignominious predicament of the unterseeboot.

"The beggar may have a broadside torpedo-tube," he remarked to his
subordinate as he ordered the _Calder_ to be swung round, bows on to the
stranded craft, speed having been reduced to give the destroyer more
steerage-way.  "Give her a round with the for’ard gun.  Plank a shell a
hundred yards astern."

The shot had the desired effect.  The conning-tower hatch was thrown
open, and the head and shoulders of a petty officer appeared.  For a few
moments he hesitated, looking thoroughly scared, then his hands were
extended above his head.

In this position of surrender he remained, until, finding that the
destroyer made no further attempt to shell the submarine, he emerged
from the conning-tower.  Two officers followed, and then the rest of the
crew--twenty-two all told.  The officers stood upon the steel grating
surrounding the conning-tower, for the tide had now fallen sufficiently
to allow the platform to show above water.  The rest of the crew, wading
knee-deep, formed up in a sorry line upon the after part of the still
submerged hull, and, with uplifted hands, awaited the pleasure of their

"Fetch ’em off, Mr. Sefton," ordered the lieutenant-commander.  "Half of
’em at a time."

The sub hastened to order away the boat.  As he did so Dr. Stirling
nudged him and whispered in his ear:

"Shall I lend you a saw, old man?"

"A saw!" repeated Sefton in astonishment. "What on earth for?"

"Skipper said you were to bring half of them at a time," explained the
irresponsible medico with a grin.  "Better try the top half of each man
first trip."

"That’ll do, Pills," retorted the sub.  "If it’s surgery you’re after,
you had better do your own dirty work."

"Give way, lads," ordered the sub as the boat drew clear of the steel
wall-side of the destroyer.

"We surrender make," declared the kapitan of the submarine as the boat
ranged up alongside. "We haf a leak sprung."


"Sorry to hear it," rejoined Sefton.

"Is dat so?" enquired the perplexed German, mystified at his foe’s

"Yes," soliloquized the sub.  "We would much rather have collared the
strafed submarine intact. We didn’t bargain for her keel plates being
stove in.

"Now then!" he exclaimed.  "I’ll take eleven of you men first trip."

The coxwain and bowman of the boat deftly engaged their boat-hooks in
convenient projections of the submarine’s conning-tower, while the
specified number of dejected and apprehensive Huns was received on

Having delivered the first batch of prisoners on the destroyer, Sefton
returned, but, instead of immediately running alongside the prize, he
ordered his men to lie on their oars.  With the boat drifting at a
distance of twenty yards from the unterseeboot, the sub coolly awaited

The Huns--officers and men alike--were far from cool.  Gesticulating
wildly, they implored the sub to take them off.  Never before had Sefton
seen a greater anxiety on the part of the Germans to abandon their ship,
and in the course of eleven months’ service in the North Sea his
knowledge of the ways of the wily Hun was fairly extensive.

At length two of the submarine’s crew, unable to restrain their panic,
leapt overboard and struck out for the boat.

"Stand by with a stretcher, there, Jenkins," ordered Sefton.  "Show them
what we mean to do.  Knock them over the knuckles if they attempt to
grasp the gunwale."

"We surrender do, kamerad!" shouted the Huns in dolorous chorus, seeing
their companions repelled from the waiting boat.

"Yes, I know," replied Sefton.  "You’ve told me that already.  A few
minutes’ wait won’t hurt you.  There’s plenty of time."

"Back oars!" ordered the sub, as the Germans, terrified beyond measure,
slid from the submarine’s deck into the water, officers and men striking
out frantically.

Thirty seconds later came the dull muffled sound of an explosion.  A
thin wreath of vapour issued from the open conning-tower.

"Not much of a bust-up that," exclaimed Sefton contemptuously.  "It
would not have flicked a fly from her deck.  Well, I suppose I must take
the beggars into the boat."

The lightness of the explosion had also astonished the German officers.
Adopting their usual procedure they had fixed three detonators in the
hull of the stranded vessel, and upon the approach of the _Calder’s_
boat the second time they had lighted the four-minute time-fuses.

Sefton, guessing rightly what had been done, had resolved to give the
Huns, not a bad quarter of an hour, but a worse three minutes.  He, too,
expected to see the submarine’s hull disintegrated by a terrific

On the boat’s return to the destroyer with the rest of the prisoners,
Sefton made his report to the lieutenant-commander.

"Can’t blame them," declared Crosthwaite.  "In similar circumstances we
would have done the same, but with better results, I hope.  Send that
petty officer aft; I want to speak to him."

The man indicated was, as luck would have it, the fellow responsible for
lighting the fuses. Putting on his fiercest expression,
Lieutenant-Commander Crosthwaite sternly taxed him with attempting to
destroy the submarine after she had surrendered.

Taken aback, the man admitted that it was so.

"How many detonators?" asked Crosthwaite.

"Three, Herr Kapitan."

"And what time-fuses?"

"Four-minutes," was the reply.

"Then jolly rotten stuff," commented the lieutenant-commander as he
motioned for the prisoner to be removed below.  "We’ll give them another
quarter of an hour before we board her."

The stated time passed without any signs of further internal explosions.
The _Calder_ made good use of the interval, Harwich being communicated
with by wireless, announcing the capture of the prize, and requesting
tugs and lighters to be dispatched to assist the disabled U boat into

"Now I think it’s all O.K.," remarked Crosthwaite.  "Sure you’re keen on
the job?"

Sefton flushed under his tanned skin.  His skipper was quick to notice
that he had blundered.

"Sorry!" he said apologetically.  "Ought to have jolly well known you
better.  Off you go, and good luck.  By the by, take a volunteer crew."

Of the seventy men of the _Calder_ every one would have unhesitatingly
followed the sub. Asking for volunteers for a hazardous service was
merely a matter of form.  There was quite a mild contest to take part in
the operations of boarding the submarine.

By this time the falling tide had left nearly the whole extent of the
deck dry.  There were four hatchways in addition to the conning-tower,
each of which was securely fastened.  Through the open aperture in the
conning-tower Sefton made his way.  Below all was in darkness, for with
the explosion the electric lamps had been extinguished. A heavy reek of
petrol fumes and sulphurous smoke scented the confined space.

The sub switched on the electric torch which he had taken the precaution
to bring with him.  The rays barely penetrated the smoke beyond a few

"Phew!" he muttered.  "Too jolly thick.  It is a case for a

Back went the boat, returning in a short space of time with the required
article.  Donning the safety-helmet, one of the bluejackets descended,
groped his way to the nearest hatchway and opened it.

An uninterrupted current of fresh air ensued, and in ten minutes the
midship portion of the prize was practically free from noxious fumes.

"Blow me, Nobby," exclaimed one of the carpenter’s crew, "did you ever
see such a lash up? Strikes me they slung this old hooker together in a
bit of a hurry."

The shipwright’s contemptuous reference to the Teuton constructor’s art
was justified.  The submarine had every appearance of being roughly
built in sections and bolted together.  Everything pointed to hurried
and makeshift work.

Under the engine beds Sefton discovered two unexploded detonators.  The
one that had gone off was "something of a dud", for the explosive force
was very feeble--insufficient even to start any of the hull plating.
But it had performed a useful service to the British prize crew: the
blast had detached the time-fuses from the remaining gun-cotton charges,
and had thus preserved the submarine from total destruction.

Nevertheless Sefton heaved a sigh of relief as the two detonators were
dropped overboard.  Guncotton, especially German-made stuff, was apt to
play peculiar tricks.

The fore and after compartments or sub-divisions of the hull were closed
by means of watertight doors in the bulkheads.  The foremost was found
to have four feet of water--the same depth as that of the sea over the
bank on which the vessel had stranded.  It was here that the plates had
been started when the U boat made her unlucky acquaintance with the
Haisborough Shoal.

Flashing his torch upon the oily surface of the water, Sefton made a
brief examination.  On either side of the bulging framework were tiers
of bunks. This compartment, then, was the sleeping-quarters of the
submarine’s crew.  Of torpedo-tubes there were no signs; nor were these
to be found anywhere else on board.  Aft was a "gantry" communicating
with an ingeniously contrived air-lock. The submarine was not designed
for torpedo work but for an even more sinister task: that of
mine-laying.  Not a single globe of latent destruction remained on
board.  Already the U boat had sown her crop of death; would there be
time to destroy the harvest?

CHAPTER IV--Not Under Control

Quickly the news of the captured submarine’s former activities was
flash-signalled to the _Calder_, and with the least possible delay the
information was transmitted by wireless to Great Yarmouth and Harwich.

Until the minefield was located and destroyed it was unsafe for any
shipping to proceed to or from Yarmouth Roads.

Questions put to the U boat’s crew elicited that the vessel was one of
seven operating in conjunction with the raiding cruisers.  While the
German fleet was bombarding Yarmouth, the submarines--having on account
of their slower speed set out on the previous day--proceeded to lay a
chain of mines from the Would through Haisborough Gat, and thence to a
point a few cables east of the Gorton lightship, thus completely
enclosing Yarmouth Roads from the sea.  The UC6--that being the
designation of the prize--had just completed her task when she sighted
the _Calder_ approaching. Miscalculating her position, she had run her
nose hard upon the shoal, with the result that her low compartment
quickly flooded, thus rendering her incapable of keeping afloat.

It was not long before four mine-sweepers came lumbering northwards from
Yarmouth, while others proceeded in different directions to "clear up
the mess", as their crews tersely described the dangerous operations of
destroying the mines.

The _Calder_, still standing by, had missed the northern limit of the
German minefield by a few yards.  Had she held on her former course the
probability was that she would have bumped upon a couple of the infernal
contrivances--for the mines were dropped in twos, each pair connected by
a span of cable to make more certain of a vessel’s bows being caught in
its bight--and been blown up with the loss of all her crew.

The destroyer had been sent on particular service. Other side issues had
demanded her attention, and, with the pluck and resourcefulness of
British seamen, her crew had risen to the occasion.  To them it was all
in the day’s work, with one ulterior motive--to push on with the war.

Deftly, the result of months of experience, the mine-sweepers set to
work.  With little delay the first of the mines was located, dragged to
the surface, and sunk by means of rifle-fire.  Others were destroyed in
quick succession, two exploding as the bullets, made for the purpose of
penetrating the buoyancy chambers, contrived to hit the projecting horns
of the detonating mechanism.

In two hours, the trawlers having swept the whole extent of the Would,
the minefield was reported to be destroyed.

"What damage ashore?" enquired Crosthwaite, as the nearest trawler
sidled under the destroyer’s stern.

"Precious little, sir, considering," replied the master of the
mine-sweeper.  "A few buildings knocked about and a score or so of
people killed or injured.  Might ha’ been worse," and he shook his fist
in the direction in which the raiders had fled.

Sedately, as if conscious of having modestly performed a gallant
service, the mine-sweepers bore up for home, and once again the _Calder_
was left to stand by her prize.

She was not long left alone.  A number of motor patrol-boats came
buzzing round like flies round a honey-pot.  The work of transferring
the German prisoners was quickly taken in hand.  They were put on board
the patrol-boats in batches of half a dozen.  It saved the destroyer the
trouble of putting into port when she was supposed to hold no
communication with the shore.

The last of the motor-boats had brought up alongside the _Calder_ when
Sefton recognized the R.N.R. sub-lieutenant in charge as an old friend
of pre-war days.

Algernon Stickleton was a man whose acquaintance with the sea was
strictly limited to week-ends spent on board the Motor Yacht Club’s
headquarters--the ex-Admiralty yacht _Enchantress_--in Southampton
Water.  Given a craft with engines, he could steer her with a certain
amount of confidence.  Of navigation and the art of a mariner he knew
little or nothing.  Tides were a mystery to him, the mariner’s compass
an unknown quantity. In short, he was a marine motorist--the counterpart
of the motor road-hog ashore.

Upon the outbreak of war, commissions in the R.N.R. motor-boat service
were flung broadcast by the Admiralty at the members of the Motor Yacht
Club, and amongst those who donned the pilot-coat with the gold wavy
band and curl was Algernon Stickleton.  At first he was given a "soft
job", doing a sort of postman’s work in Cowes Roads, until the
experience, combined with his success in extricating himself, more by
good luck than good management, from a few tight corners, justified the
experiment of granting a commission to a comparatively callow marine

Then he was put through a rapid course of signalling and elementary
navigation, and, having "stuck at it", the budding sub-lieutenant R.N.R.
was sent to the East Coast on a motor-yacht with the prospect of being
given a fast patrol-boat when deemed proficient.

Gone were those halcyon August and September days in Cowes Roads.  He
had to take his craft out by day and night, blow high or low.  Boarding
suspicious vessels in the open roadstead hardened his nerves and gave an
unwonted zest to his work. At last he was doing something
definite--taking an active part in the navy’s work.

"My first trip in this hooker, old man," he announced to Sefton,
indicating with a sweep of his hand the compact, grey-painted motor
craft that lay alongside the destroyer’s black hull.  "A clinker for
speed.  She’d knock your craft into a cocked hat.  It beats Brooklands
hollow.  Wants a bit of handlin’, don’t you know, but I think I brought
her alongside very nicely, what?"

The last of the German prisoners having been received on board and
passed below to the forepeak, Sub-lieutenant Stickleton prepared to cast
off.  Touching the tarnished peak of his cap, for months of exposure to
all weathers had dimmed the pristine lustre of the once resplendent
headgear, he gave the word for the motors to be started.

Then, with one hand on the steering-wheel, he let in the clutch.

Like an arrow from a bow the powerful box of machinery leapt forward.
The result was disastrous as far as Stickleton was concerned.
Unprepared to counteract the sudden momentum, he was literally "left",
for, subsiding upon the short after-deck, he rolled backwards over the
transom and fell into the boiling wake of the rapidly-moving motor-boat.

Fortunately he could swim well, and was quickly hauled over the
destroyer’s side, a dripping but still cheerful object.

Several of the _Calder’s_ crew laughed outright. Even Crosthwaite and
Sefton had to smile.  The sopping R.N.R. officer was quick to enter into
the joke against himself.

"Hope I won’t get reprimanded for leaving my ship without permission,"
he remarked facetiously.

"You haven’t asked permission to board mine," Crosthwaite reminded him.
"It’s the custom of the service, you know."

Meanwhile attention was being transferred from the dripping officer to
the craft of which he ought to be in command.  Evidently her crew were
unaware of what had occurred.  The bowman was coiling down a rope, two
of the deck hands were engaged in securing the fore-peak hatchway, while
the rest were down below.  The patrol-boat was tearing along at 38
knots, and, owing to the "torque" of the propellers, was describing a
vast circle to port.

It was the cabin-boy who first made the discovery that the little craft
was without a guiding hand at the wheel.  He was down below tidying up
the sub’s cabin, when he found an automatic cigarette-lighter that
Stickleton had mislaid.  Anxious to get into his superior officer’s good
books, for the youngster was the bane of Stickleton’s existence on
board, the boy ascended the short ladder leading to the cockpit.  To his
surprise he found no helmsman.

Guessing that something was amiss, he hailed the bowman.  The latter,
scrambling aft, steadied the vessel on her helm, at the same time
ordering the motors to be eased down.  He was convinced that Stickleton
had been jerked overboard and was swimming for dear life a couple of
miles astern.

By this time the _Calder_ bore almost due west, at a distance of six sea
miles, for the patrol-boat had described a complete semicircle.  For
some time the boat searched in vain for her missing skipper, until the
coxswain suggested returning to Yarmouth to report the casualty.

"Better get back to the destroyer, George," counselled another of the
crew.  "Maybe they’ve got our skipper.  Anyway, there’ll be no harm

Somewhat diffidently, George up-helmed and ordered full speed ahead.
He, like the rest of the crew, was, before the war, a paid hand in a
racing yacht; keen, alert, and a thorough seaman, but unused to a
powerfully-engined boat.  Ask him to bring a sailing-boat alongside in
half a gale of wind, he would have complied with the utmost skill,
luffing at the exact moment and allowing the craft to lose way with her
canvas slatting in the breeze without the loss of a square inch of
paint. Bringing a "match-box crammed chock-a-block with machinery"
alongside was a totally different matter; but, as it had to be done,
George clenched his teeth and gripped the spokes of the wheel,
determined to die like a true Briton.

The patrol-boat had covered but half of the distance back to the
_Calder_ when she almost leapt clear of the water.  The two deck-hands
for’ard were thrown flat, and, sliding over the slippery planks, brought
up against the low stanchion rails. A slight shock, barely perceptible
above the pulsations of the motors, and the little packet dipped her
nose under to the water, shook herself clear, and resumed her mad pelt.

"What’s up, George?" sang out the mate.

"Dunno," replied the coxswain.  "Guess we’ve bumped agen’ summat."

Then, the dread possibility that he had run dawn his own skipper
entering his mind, he decided to return and investigate.

Having had but little experience in the use of the reversing-gear,
George slammed the lever hard-to. With a sickening jerk, as if the
little craft were parting amidships, the patrol-boat stopped and
gathered sternway.  A minute later she backed over a large and
ever-increasing pool of iridescent oil, through which air-bubbles were
forcing their way.

"By Jupiter!" exclaimed one of the crew; "blest if we haven’t rammed a
strafed U boat."

The man had spoken truly.  A German submarine, acting independently of
the raiding-squadron, had sighted the _Calder_, hove-to, at a distance
of three miles.  Unaware of the presence of the patrol-boat--and the
sight of a patrol-boat or a trawler usually gives the German
unterseebooten a bad attack of the blues--her kapitan had taken a
preliminary bearing prior to submerging in order to get within effective
torpedo range.  Having judged himself to have gained the required
position, the Hun ordered the boat to be again brought to the surface.

At the critical moment he heard the thud of the propellers of the
swiftly-moving patrol-boat.  He attempted to dive, but too late.  The
sharp steel stem of the little craft, moving through the water at the
rate of a railway train, nicked the top of the U boat’s conning-tower
sufficiently to penetrate the plating.  Before steps could be taken to
stop the inrush of water the U boat was doomed.  Sinking slowly to the
bottom, she filled, the heavy oil from her motors finding its way to the
surface in an aureole of iridescent colours to mark her last

George, seaman first, and fighting-man next, gave little thought to his
involuntary act.  The safety of his temporary command came foremost.

"Nip down below and see if she’s started a seam," he ordered.

The men, who had been ejected from their quarters by the concussion,
hurried to the fore-peak.  As they opened the cuddy-hatch the half-dozen
terrified German prisoners made a wild scramble to gain the deck.

"Who told you blighters to come out?" shouted George, and, abandoning
the wheel, he rushed forward, seized the foremost Hun by the scruff of
the neck and hurled him violently against the next man.  The floor of
the fore-peak was covered with a squirming heap of now thoroughly cowed
Huns, to whom the apparition of the stalwart, angry Englishman was more
to be dreaded than being shaken like peas in a pod in the dark recesses
of their temporary prison quarter.

"Is she making anything?" enquired George anxiously, as he returned to
take charge of the helm.

"Hardly a trickle," was the reassuring reply. "Whack her up, mate."

The coxwain proceeded to order full speed ahead, and the little craft
tore back to the _Calder_ in order that the news of her skipper’s
disappearance might be reported.

To the surprise of the patrol-boat’s crew they discovered their sub,
arrayed in borrowed garments, standing aft and motioning to the boat to
come alongside.

It was easier said than done.  The coxwain’s faith in his capabilities
was weak, notwithstanding his resolution.  At the first shot he carried
too much way, reversing engines when the little craft was fifty yards
ahead of the destroyer.  The second attempt found him a like distance
short, with no way on the boat.  At the third he dexterously caught a
coil of rope hurled from the _Calder_, and succeeded in hauling

"We’ve just rammed a submarine, sir," reported the coxwain, saluting,
delivering the information in a matter-of-fact manner, as if destroying
enemy craft in this fashion were an everyday occurrence.

Sub-lieutenant Stickleton having regained his command, the motor-boat
piloted the _Calder_ to the scene of her exploit.  A diver descended in
nine fathoms, and quickly telephoned the confirmatory information that a
U boat was lying with a list to starboard on the sand, with a rent in
her conning-tower--the indirect result of the involuntary bathe of
Sub-lieutenant Stickleton, R.N.R.

CHAPTER V--Sefton to the Rescue

"A tug and a couple of lighters bearing down, sir," reported the
_Calder’s_ look-out before the diver had reappeared from his errand of

Approaching at the modest rate of 7 knots was a paddle-wheel steamer
towing two unwieldy craft resembling overgrown canal barges.

The tide was now well on the flood.  It wanted about a couple of hours
to high water, and, since the falling glass and clear visibility of
distant objects betokened the approach of bad weather, urgent steps
would have to be taken speedily to extricate the captured submarine from
the embraces of the sand-bank.

The examination of the prize by her captors was now practically
complete.  The U boat was one of a new type, and had left Wilhelmshaven
on her maiden trip forty-eight hours previously.  She had either lost
her bearings or had purposely approached shoal water.  Anyhow she had
been neatly strafed before she had had time to do much mischief.

Already the _Calder’s_ crew had taken steps to assist the salvage people
in the task of floating the prize.  The hatchways, with the exception of
that of the conning-tower, had been hermetically closed, and the
watertight doors in the for’ard bulkhead shut and shored up to withstand
the pressure of water in the holed fore-peak.

By the time the lighters were made fast, one on either side of the
submarine, the level of the water was up to within fifteen inches of the
conning-tower hatchway.  Quickly hoses, connected to Downton pumps, were
led from the lighters to the water-ballast tanks of the submarine, since
it had been found impossible to "start" the ballast by means of hand

It was a race against time and tide.  The mechanical appliances won, and
soon the _Calder’s_ officers and crew had the satisfaction of seeing the
submarine’s deck appear close to the surface.

She still had a pronounced "dip", the flooded for’ard compartment
tending to depress her bow; but, supported by the two lighters, she was
prevented from sinking.  Then, taken in tow by the tug, the prize, with
her cumbersome attendants, waddled slowly for Harwich.

Her part in this supplementary business ended, the _Calder_ slipped off
at full speed to the position where the _Dimpled Lassie_ and the _Carse
o’ Gowrie_ still held a resolute grip on the recovered cable.

As Skipper M’Kie had surmised, neither of the trawlers had been molested
by the German battle-cruisers or destroyers.  Carried away by their
frantic desire to make a display of frightfulness upon an unprotected
English watering-place they had totally ignored the seemingly innocuous
cable-grappling craft.

"It will blow like billy-oh before morning," remarked Lieutenant
Crosthwaite to his subordinate. "I’m going to tell them to buoy and slip
the cable.  We’ve done very well, I think.  You might make an
observation; I’ll take another, and we’ll check our calculations.  I’ll
guarantee we won’t have much trouble in fishing up the cable next time."

Crosthwaite’s orders to the skippers of the trawlers were smartly
carried out, and the cable, left with its position marked by a green
wreck-buoy, a sufficient guarantee against detrimental examination by
curious fishermen.  Before sunset the _Calder_ and her two charges were
snug in Lowestoft harbour, the crews being cautioned against the risk of
letting fall any hint concerning their recent work--an injunction that
they loyally carried out.

It was three days before the gale blew itself out. During that period
events had been moving rapidly. And here one of the few advantages of
being on particular service became apparent.  Had not the _Calder_ been
detailed for escort duties to the cable-grappling trawlers the chances
were that she would be plugging against heavy green seas, while those of
her crew not on duty on deck would be existing under battened hatches.
Instead, the destroyer was lying snugly berthed in a harbour, and her
crew were able to enjoy brief spells of liberty ashore.

The next step was to locate the shore end of the cable.  This work
required particular skill and discretion, since the German operator
would certainly be on the alert for the first suspicious movement.

Scotland Yard detectives, disguised as fishermen and longshoremen,
eventually succeeded in tracing the source of the leakage of
information.  The temporary cable had been brought ashore nearly four
miles from the original landing-place of the severed line, and led to a
wooden hut on the edge of the sandy cliffs.

For the present, all that was required to be done in that direction was
performed.  The Admiralty had decided to let the cable turn the tables
upon the Huns, and, until the time was ripe, the spy could telegraph
without interruption, but unwittingly he was digging a pit for himself
from which no escape was possible.

It was well into the third week in May when the _Calder_ received orders
to proceed to Rosyth, replenish stores and oil-fuel, and rejoin her
flotilla. The news was hailed with delight, since it was possible that
many of the officers and crew would be able to proceed on leave.

Another week passed.  Information had reached the Commander-in-Chief of
a certain amount of German activity in the North Sea.  Something had to
be done to attract the attention of the German populace from the series
of rebuffs experienced by the Huns before Verdun. Exaggerated reports
concerning the prowess of the German High Seas Fleet, coupled with news
of spasmodic raids upon the British coast, helped to foster the
ill-founded belief of the Huns in the invincibility of their navy,
while, to keep up the deceit, Admiral von Scheer took his ships out for
various discreet cruises off the Danish coast, where there was ever a
possibility of making a quick run back under the guns and behind the
minefields of Heligoland.

On the 29th May orders were issued for the First and Second Battle
Squadrons and the Second Battle-Cruiser Squadron to proceed to a certain
rendezvous in order to carry out target practice. The instructions were
issued through the usual channels, with the almost certain knowledge
that the information would leak out.  The Commander-in-Chief’s
anticipation proved to be correct, for within three hours of the issuing
of the order the news was transmitted to Germany by means of the tapped

It was not the Admiral’s intention to carry out target practice.
Instead, the whole of the Grand Fleet put to sea from its various bases,
ostensibly for the neighbourhood of the Orkneys, but in reality for a
far more important objective.

At 1 a.m. on the 31st the authorities raided the isolated hut on the
Norfolk coast, captured the German telegraph operator in the act of
communicating with Borkum, and hurried him away under close arrest.  He
had played his part as far as the British interests were concerned,
since he had informed the German Admiralty of the supposed rendezvous of
Jellicoe’s fleet.

"Do you think there’s something in the wind, sir?" asked Sefton, as the
_Calder_, in station with the rest of her flotilla, was slipping along
at 18 knots.

Crosthwaite smiled enigmatically.  He knew as much as captains of ships
were supposed to know, which wasn’t very much, but more than their
subordinates were told.

"Patience!" he replied.  "Can’t say more at present.  You might see how
repairs to that 4-inch gun are progressing."

Sefton descended the bridge ladder and made his way aft.  Slight defects
in the mounting of the stern-chaser quick-firer had appeared almost as
soon as the destroyer left the Firth of Forth, and the armourer’s crew
were hard at work rectifying the damage.

Gripping the stanchion rail surrounding the gun platform, for the
_Calder_ was rolling considerably in the "wash" of her preceding
consorts, and exposed to a stiff beam wind, the sub watched the
operation.  He had no need to ask any questions; there was little about
the mechanism of a 4-inch and its mountings that he did not know.  He
could see that the repairs were almost completed, only a few finishing
touches requiring to be done.

"Man overboard!"

The sub rushed to the side just in time to see the outstretched arms of
a bluejacket emerging from the following wave of the swiftly moving
craft.  It was indeed fortunate that the man was still alive, not only
had he escaped having his back broken on striking the water, but he had
missed the rapidly revolving starboard propeller. Clad in a "duffel"
suit and wearing sea-boots, his position was precarious in the extreme.

Without hesitation Sefton made a flying leap over the guard-rails.  Once
clear of the side he drew up his legs and hunched his shoulders,
striking the water with tremendous force.  Well it was that he had taken
this precaution instead of making a dive in the ordinary sense of the
word, for, carried onward at the rate of a mile every three minutes, he
ran a serious risk of dislocated limbs or a broken back had he not
rolled himself into the nearest resemblance to a ball.


He sank deeply, and was swept irresistibly by the back-wash; it seemed
as if he were fathoms down.  Before he emerged he could distinctly hear
the whirr of the triple propellers.  Rising to the surface he refilled
his lungs with the salt-laden air, for the concussion had wellnigh
deprived him of breath.  Then he gave a hurried glance around him.

The _Calder_ was already a couple of cables’ lengths away, while the
destroyer next astern was almost on top of him.  As she swept by, a
lifebuoy was hurled towards the sub, luckily missing him by a bare yard.

The second and last destroyer astern saw the swimmer, and by porting
helm avoided him easily, and saved him from the great discomfort of
being flung about in her wake like a pea in a saucepan of boiling water.
Without making any attempt to slow down and send a boat, the destroyer
flotilla held on.

Sefton soon realized the necessity for this apparently inexplicable act.
It was impossible without grave risk to the flotilla to break up the
formation, while the danger was still further increased by the fact that
the First Cruiser Squadron was pelting along somewhere three or four
miles astern, and these vessels, being of a considerable tonnage,
carried a tremendous amount of way.  Above all, it was war-time, and
individuals do not count when greater issues are at stake.

Presently the sub descried the head and shoulders of the missing man as
he rose on the crest of the broken waves.  He, too, had succeeded in
reaching a lifebuoy thrown by the nearmost destroyer.  Short as had been
the time between the man’s tumble overboard and Sefton’s deliberate
leap, owing to the speed of the flotilla nearly a quarter of a mile
separated the would-be rescuer from the object of his gallant attempt.

"No use hanging on here," thought Sefton, as he clung to the buoy.
"Must get to the man somehow."

Then it was that he realized that he had gone overboard in a thick pilot
coat and india-rubber sea-boots.  These he sacrificed regretfully, since
there was no chance of replenishing his kit until the _Calder_ returned
to port--that is, if he had the good fortune to survive his adventure
"in the ditch".  The operation of discarding the boots gave him a
tussle, during which he swallowed more salt water than desirable; then,
relaxing his grip on the lifebuoy, Sefton struck out towards the man.

The sub was a good swimmer.  At Dartmouth he had been "runner-up" for
the 440 yards championship, but now he realized the vast difference
between swimming that length in regulation costume and an equal distance
almost fully clothed in the choppy North Sea.

By the time the sub came within hailing distance of the seaman his limbs
felt as heavy as lead, while, do what he would, he was unable to raise
his voice above a whisper, much less "assure the drowning man in a loud,
firm voice that he is safe", according to the official regulations.
Sefton was by no means certain that he himself was in anything but a
most precarious position.

Sefton found that the man he had risked his life to save was not half so
exhausted as he was.  The seaman had come off lightly in his fall, and
he had had no occasion to tire himself with a long swim to the lifebuoy,
since the crew of the passing destroyer had all but brained him with the
cork "Kisbie".

The A.B. regarded his rescuer with a look that betokened pained
disapproval.  He was one of those men who are ever "up against
discipline". To him the gold band and curl on a uniform meant something
more than authority: it roused a spirit of sullen aggression.

And yet Thomas Brown had joined the Royal Navy with the best intentions.
Fate, in the shape of a short-tempered recruiting-officer, had marred
his career from the very start; for, on joining the training-school at
Shotley, one of the questions asked of him was the name of his

"Ashby-de-la-Zouch, sir," replied young Brown, giving the name with the
accepted Leicestershire accent.

"Where did you say?" enquired the lieutenant.

The recruit repeated the words.

"Zoo, did you say?" snapped the officer.

"Yes, sir," rejoined Thomas Brown without a moment’s hesitation.  "The
next cage to yours."

The repartee came absolutely on the spur of the moment.  A second’s
reflection might have made all the difference.  It was a bad start, and
the newly-entered boy suffered for it.  That was some years ago, but in
the Royal Navy the old adage of giving a dog a bad name holds good
longer than anywhere else.

Sefton recognized the man as one who figured frequently in the
"Captain’s Report".  Young as he was, the sub had a keen insight into
human nature, and although he knew nothing of the first slip that had
marred the A.B.’s career he was certain that there were good points in
the man, and that underneath his rugged, surly exterior there was
something of true worth.

"No need for you to tumble into the ditch after me, sir," said the man.
"I can shift for myself."

He spoke gruffly, but underlying the remonstrance was an unmistakable
tone of gratitude.  In the circumstances he was glad of company.  He
would have welcomed his "raggie", or chum, in preference to an officer,
but at such times the difference of rank gives place to the equality of
human peril.

"They’ll pick us both up," declared Sefton, although in his mind he had
grave doubts as to the matter.

"Not they," rejoined A.B. Brown, indicating the direction of the now
invisible flotilla with a jerk of his closely-cropped head.  "The
cruisers might. But take hold of this, sir," he added, pushing the buoy
to within reach of the sub.  "You looks as if you want it a long sight
more’n me."

Both men relapsed into silence.  Further conversation meant a waste of
precious breath.  At intervals, as the buoy rose on the billows, Sefton
"hiked" his head and shoulders well clear of the water in the hope of
sighting the armoured-cruiser squadron.

"They’re a precious long time in coming up," he soliloquized.  "Seven
minutes ought to have done the trick."

As a matter of fact, the First Cruiser Squadron had received a wireless
message from the _Calder_ within ninety seconds of Sefton’s leap
overboard, requesting the vessels to keep a sharp look-out for the two

On receipt of the intelligence the armoured cruisers’ speed was reduced
to 10 knots, and this accounted for the seemingly endless time that
elapsed before the vessels came within sight of the two well-nigh
exhausted men as they clung to the lifebuoy.

At length, through the light haze that prevailed throughout the morning,
could be discerned the grey outlines of the First Cruiser Squadron.

The ships were steaming in double column, line ahead, the _Defence_,
flying the Rear-Admiral’s flag, leading the starboard and the _Warrior_
the port line. With faultless precision they came on, three cables’
distance separating the units of each division, and twice that interval
betwixt the columns.

"They’ve spotted us, sir," exclaimed Able Seaman Brown, as the
alteration of position of the red flag and green cone displayed from the
cruiser’s mainmast yard-arm told the two men that the _Warrior’s_ helm
was being ported.  Simultaneously the "steaming cones" were reversed,
showing that the ship’s engines were going astern--a manoeuvre followed
by the rest of the squadron.

Almost before way was taken off the ship the _Warrior’s_ sea-boat was
rapidly lowered from the davits.  Sefton could hear the dull thud of the
lower blocks as the releasing-gear came into action and the falls surged
against the ship’s side, and the treble-voiced midshipman urging his
boat’s crew to "give way there, my lads, for all you’re worth."

Although only a minute and a half elapsed between the time the sea-boat
got away from the ship and her arrival at the scene of the rescue, the
interval seemed interminable to Sub-lieutenant Sefton.

With feelings of indescribable relief he realized that he was being
gripped by two pairs of horny powerful hands and lifted over the dipping
gunwale into the stern-sheets, while others performed a like office for
the saturated A.B.

Smartly the sea-boat was brought alongside the cruiser.  Deftly the
hoisting-gear was engaged, and with a hundred-and-twenty men tailing on
the falls the boat and her occupants were whisked up to a level with the
vessel’s quarter-deck.

And thus Acting Sub-lieutenant John Sefton found himself on board H.M.S.
_Warrior_, in blissful ignorance of the gallant part the armoured
cruiser was about to bear in the glorious battle off the Jutland Bank.

CHAPTER VI--Action at the Double

The ship upon which Sefton found himself as an unauthorized
supernumerary was an armoured cruiser of 13,550 tons, built and
completed at Pembroke nine years previously.  She was one of a class of
four that marked a new departure in naval architecture--each of her guns
being mounted singly and in a separate turret.  At the time when she was
laid down she was considered one of the heaviest armed cruisers of her
day, mounting six 9.2-inch and four 7.5-inch guns.  Of these, three
9.2’s could be made to fire ahead, and a similar number astern, while on
either broadside she could deliver a formidable salvo from four of the
guns of heavier calibre and two of the 7.5’s.  With the exception of the
following year’s programme of the _Minotaur_ class, the _Warrior_ and
her sister ships were the last armoured cruisers laid down by the
British Admiralty, the all-big-gun battle-cruisers simply outclassing at
one swoop the armoured cruisers of the world’s navies.

Nevertheless the _Warrior_ was still a powerful unit, and calculated to
be more than a match for any German vessel of her size.  Her designed
speed of a fraction over 22 knots--a rate that when necessity arose
could be exceeded--enabled her with the rest of her class to form a
valuable, hard-hitting auxiliary to the vessels of the battle-cruiser

While Sefton was being kitted out by an obliging brother sub-lieutenant,
a wireless message had been sent to the _Calder_ announcing the safety
of her sub-lieutenant and A.B. Brown.

Crosthwaite received the gratifying intelligence with undisguised
delight.  His feelings were shared by the whole of the ship’s company,
for, almost without exception, the destroyer’s officers were voted a
"sound lot", and the possibility of Sefton’s death in a gallant attempt
at the rescue of a lower-deck man had thrown a gloom over the ship.

As for the lieutenant-commander, his relief and gratitude to Providence
knew no bounds.  Between Sefton’s leap overboard and the receipt of the
_Warrior’s_ message he had passed through a distressing time.  Apart
from his personal regard for the sub, with whom he had shared adventures
and perils in the Near East, the fact that he had been compelled to
abandon Sefton to the vagaries of fate hit him hard.  He was even
doubtful whether, with the possibilities of hostile submarines cruising
around, the armoured cruisers would risk slowing down to rescue two men
and at the same time present a splendid target for German torpedoes.
However, the deed of rescue was accomplished, and the next step to
consider was how to get Sefton and the A.B. back on the destroyer.  The
former’s presence was desirable, in fact essential.

In answer to the _Calder’s_ lieutenant-commander’s request, whether it
would be possible for Sefton to be sent back to the destroyer, the
rescuing ship replied that, should opportunity occur, the _Calder_ could
close, but that, in view of present conditions, such a step was most

"So you’ll jolly well have to make yourself at home here, old bird,"
remarked one of the _Warrior’s_ sub-lieutenants, who as a youngster had
passed out of Dartmouth at the same time as Sefton. "Suppose the trip
will do you good.  Sort of marine excursion out and home, don’t you
know. Nothin’ doin’, and never a sign of a Hun, unless it be a
’tin-fish’ or two."

The _Warrior’s_ sub voiced the opinion of the rest of the gun-room.  He
was president of the mess and a mild autocrat over the "small fry", and
generally voted a rattling good sort by the handful of midshipmen, many
of whom, alas! were to yield up their lives in undying fame before many
hours were past.

Yet, although the whole of the personnel of the Grand Fleet were as keen
as mustard to meet the Huns, frequent and almost unvarying
disappointment had been their lot.  Over and over again Beatty’s
squadron had swept the North Sea without coming in contact with the
enemy, until it was the general conclusion that, until the High Seas
Fleet was actually sighted, it was of no use speculating upon the
chances of the "big scrap".

And now, on the memorable morning of Wednesday, the 31st May, the First
and Second Battle-cruiser Squadron, three light-cruiser squadrons, with
attendant destroyers, were ploughing eastward across the North Sea, with
the knowledge that the hard-hitting Battle Fleet, together with a
formidable array of cruisers and destroyers, was some distance to the
nor’ard, ready, at the first wireless call, to complete the toils thrown
around the German fleet should the latter, lured into a sense of false
security, dare to leave the mine-fields of Heligoland.

Shortly after noon the wind dropped and the water became almost calm,
save for the undulations caused by the swiftly-moving squadron. Overhead
the sun shone faintly through a thick haze, which for hours hung about
with irritating persistence.

Sefton had just commenced a game of draughts with some of the officers
who were off duty, when a messenger entered the gun-room and handed a
"chit" to the senior sub.  Not until the man had gone did the young
officer break the momentous news to the others, apologizing as if the
information might unduly raise their hopes.

"I don’t want to be too cock-sure, you fellows," he announced.  "Looks
as if they’re out this time, but----"

"I vote we go on deck," suggested a midshipman.

"And see the whole of the German fleet," added a junior watchkeeper

"Anyhow, there’s ’General Quarters’," retorted the middy daringly as a
bugle rang out, the call being quickly repeated in various parts of the
ship, "Look alive, you fellows."

"Stick to me, Sefton," said the senior sub, snatching his telescope from
a rack and making a bolt for the door.  "If there’s anything to be seen
of the scrap you’ll have a good chance with me.  I’m fire-control, don’t
you know."

Jack Sefton nodded his head in acquiescence. He was sorry that he was
not on board the _Calder_, since there was a greater possibility of the
destroyer flotillas dashing in to complete the work of the
battle-cruisers than of the armoured cruisers getting within range.

Gaining the quarter-deck, the _Calder’s_ sub heard the unmistakable
baritone hum of an aerial propeller.  Overhead, at a low altitude of
less than a thousand feet, a sea-plane was flying in a northeasterly
direction.  By the markings on her planes and fuselage--concentric red,
white, and blue circles--Sefton recognized her as a British one. It
afterwards transpired that Sir David Beatty had ordered the _Engadine_
to send up a sea-plane for reconnaissance work, and that wireless
reports were received from the daring airmen that they had sighted four
hostile light cruisers.  The latter opened a hot fire with every
quick-firer they could get to bear upon the indomitable sea-plane, the
range being less than 3000 yards, but in spite of the hail of shrapnel
the airmen gained their desired information and returned to their parent

On board the _Warrior_, as was the case with the rest of her consorts,
hands were hard at work clearing ship for action.  Already the masts and
shrouds had been "frapped", or protected, by means of wire cables
wrapped round the spars and interlaced between the standing-rigging.
"A" and "B" water-tight doors were closed, armoured hatchways battened
down, and hoses led along the decks in order to quell the fire that
would inevitably break out should a hostile shell burst inside the
armoured belt.  Stanchions, cowls, and all gear likely to interfere with
the training of the guns were unshipped and stowed, tons of His
Majesty’s property were jettisoned, the danger of their remaining on
board being more than sufficient reason for their sacrifice.

Inside the turrets, tubs of water were provided to slake the burning
thirst of the guns’ crews, for experience had proved that the acute
mental and physical strain, coupled with the acrid fumes that drift into
the confined steel spaces, produces an intense dryness of the mouth and
throat.  Behind the armoured protection, stretcher-bearers and
fire-parties were preparing for their stern work.

Down below, far beneath the water-line, the fleet surgeon and his staff
were getting ready for their grim yet humane tasks.  Operations have to
be performed under great disadvantages, the complexity of wounds caused
by modern shells adding to the difficulties under which the medical
staff labours. Contrast an operation in a well-ordered hospital on
shore--where perfect quietude reigns and everything is conducive to
success--with the conditions on board a war-ship in action.  The
indifferent light, for the electric lamps are quivering under the
vibration of the guns; the deafening concussion overhead as the ship
gives and receives punishment; the jerky motion of the vessel as she
twists and turns to the rapid movements of the helm and quivers under
the titanic blows of hostile shells; and the probability of the ship’s
bottom being shattered like an egg-shell by a powerful torpedo--all
these form but a part of the disadvantages under which the naval medical
staff labour during the progress of an action.

Literally imprisoned below the armoured deck, the grimy stokers were
preparing for the coming ordeal.  Hidden from the rest of the ship’s
company, they toiled like Trojans in order to raise such a terrific head
of steam as would make the cruiser "foot it" at a speed far in excess of
her nominal 22.33 knots.  In action the lot of the "black squad" is
perhaps the worst on board.  Knowing nothing of what is going on, they
have to work in a confined, heated steel box, shovelling coals with a
dexterity that is the outcome of months of strenuous training.  Besides
the risk of torpedoes and shells there is ever the danger of the boilers
giving way under the pressure of steam, with the inevitable result--a
horrible death in a pitch-black stokehold filled with scalding steam.
And yet, for easygoing joviality and good comradeship the naval stoker
is hard to beat.  He will face discomforts with a smiling face and a
cheerful heart. He will be ready to risk his life for his chum--or on
the altar of duty.

These thoughts flashed through Sefton’s mind as he watched the rapid and
methodical preparation of clearing ship for action.  For once the sub
realized that he was a mere spectator--a sort of pariah, dumped from a
comparatively insignificant destroyer upon a cruiser mustering a
complement of over 700 officers and men.  He was aware of the fact that
he was a "deadhead"--an individual having no right to take part in the
forthcoming contest.  The inaction seemed the worst part of the business
as far as he was concerned.

Presently Sefton’s thoughts were interrupted by the shrill,
long-drawn-out trills of the bos’n’s mates’ pipes summoning the ship’s
company to muster on the quarter-deck.  At the double the men romped
aft--every seaman, marine, stoker, and "idler" not actually prevented by
pressure of duty elsewhere.

Since the captain could not quit the fore-bridge the assembled ship’s
company was addressed by the commander.  In crisp sentences of simple
brevity he explained to the men the position of affairs.  At length a
big action was in progress, he announced, for a wireless message had
just come in to the effect that the battle-cruisers were already
engaging the enemy at 18,000 yards--a distance of nearly 11 land miles.
More than that, the German Battle Squadron was coming from the nor’ard,
and there was a grave possibility of the British battle-cruisers being
engaged between the enemy battleships and their battle-cruisers.  In
which case, the commander hastened to explain, losses would doubtless be
severe; but it was part of the Commander-in-Chief’s plan to risk certain
of his battle-cruisers in order to cut off and detain the German fleet
until the British Main Battle Squadrons got between the enemy and their

"I do not expect that we shall go into action just at present,"
concluded the commander, "but should events shape themselves all right
we’ll be in the thick of it before long.  And I have not the faintest
hesitation in expressing my firm belief that every man jack of us will
do his duty to King and country, and uphold the traditions of H.M.S.

With that the men were dismissed, and, all preparations having been
made, they were at liberty until the "Action Stations" sounded.  That
interval was perhaps the most trying of all.  Many of the ship’s company
were going into action for the first time.  The majority were laughing
and cutting jokes; some could be seen with grey, anxious faces as they
thought of their dear ones at home; but amongst the whole complement
there was not the faintest trace of faint-heartedness.  From the captain
down to the youngest "first-class" boy the same sentiment held sway:
that the _Warrior_ would be able to acquit herself with glory and with

Through the sultry air could be faintly heard the distant and constant
rumble of heavy gun-firing. The naval action was developing, although
the engaged portions of the rival fleets were fifty or sixty miles away.
The subdued noise made a fitting accompaniment to the stirring words of
the commander.

Sefton, still remaining on the quarter-deck, could not help admiring the
steadiness with which the cruisers kept station.  From time to time
hoists of bunting fluttered to the yard-arm of the flagship _Defence_,
the orders they expressed being carried out with the utmost celerity and

A lieutenant descending from the after-bridge passed along the
quarter-deck towards the companion on the half-deck.

"You’re out of it, Sefton, I’m afraid," he remarked.  "We’ve just had
another wireless.  Our destroyers are giving the Huns socks.  The old
_Calder_ is in the thick of it."

"Any losses?" asked Sefton, feeling ready to kick himself for being out
of the scrap.

"Don’t know yet," was the reply.  "I only----"

The lieutenant’s words were interrupted by the blare of a bugle.
Turning on his heels he rushed forward at top speed, for at last the
rousing order "Action at the Double" was given.

In an instant all was a scene of "orderly confusion", each man running
with a set purpose.  For the most part the crew were stripped to the
waist--a crowd of muscular-armed, deep-chested, clean-shaven men in the
very pink of condition.  Still exchanging banter, they disappeared to
their battle-stations, eager and alert to let loose a hail of shell upon
the first hostile vessel that came within range.

"Come along, old man," exclaimed the young sub who had previously
"cottoned on" to Jack Sefton.  "Now’s your chance if you want to see the

The two junior officers made their way for’ard, past the starboard guns
in their isolated and closely-sealed steel turrets, until they reached
the foremast.

"Up with you," said Sefton’s companion laconically.

Sefton agilely ascended to the dizzy perch known as the fire-control
platform.  The other sub followed quickly at his heels, squeezed through
the narrow aperture in the floor of the enclosed space, and slammed to
the metal hinged cover.

"At last!" he exclaimed gleefully.

Sefton only nodded in complete accord.  A clock on the after side of the
steel wall indicated 5.45.  A glance to the deck a hundred feet below
showed no sign of life.  There was nothing to show that confined within
that double-wedge-shaped hull were close upon seven hundred human
beings, all with one set purpose, as the thirteen thousand tons of
dead-weight forged ahead at full speed towards a distant blurr just
visible through the ever-varying haze.

Suddenly the _Defence_ opened fire with her for’ard pair of 9.2’s,
quickly following with her 7.5’s.  The ball had opened.

"Fifteen eight hundred, sir," reported one of the range-finding officers
within Sefton’s hearing.

Rapidly yet smoothly the _Warrior’s_ bow guns rose until Sefton could
see their muzzles showing like oval-shaped cavities against the
dull-grey painted chases.  For a second or two only the weapons hung
seemingly irresolute.

Then with a concussion that shook the ship the guns sent their missiles
hurtling through the air, while clouds of acrid-smelling smoke, black,
white, and brown in hue, drifted rapidly across the deck.

At last the _Warrior_ had her chance--and she was taking it with a

CHAPTER VII--In the Thick of the Fight

Leaving Sub-lieutenant Jack Sefton on his elevated perch in the
fire-control station, it will be necessary to follow the fortunes of the
vessel from which he had in theory deserted--the destroyer _Calder_.

Like the rest of the flotillas, the _Calder_ had cleared for action
shortly after noon.  Hers was a far different part from that of the
_Warrior_.  There was practically no protection for her guns’ crew and
for the men serving the torpedo-tubes.  Her conning-tower afforded
shelter only from slivers of steel and the bursting shrapnel; it was
vulnerable to large projectiles.  Relying solely on her speed and
quickness of helm, the destroyer’s mission was to dart in towards the
enemy lines and get in as many hits with her torpedoes as possible.
Then, if fortunate enough to escape a direct hit from the German guns,
she would have to scurry back to the shelter of the battle-cruisers, and
await another opportunity to make a further torpedo attack upon the

At 3.30 p.m. Beatty’s command increased speed to 25 knots, the Second
Battle-cruiser Squadron forming astern of the First, while a far-flung
line of destroyers took up station ahead.  The course was now E.S.E.,
slightly converging upon the enemy, whose ships, looming with varying
degrees of visibility through the haze, were now at a distance of a
little more than ten sea miles.

Half that distance away the Fifth Battle Squadron, including the
gigantic _Warspite_, was bearing N.N.W., with the object of supporting
the battle-cruisers when occasion arose.

It was a proud moment for the gallant Beatty when he realized that now
he was between the enemy battle-cruisers and their North Sea bases;
while there was an ever-increasing possibility that Jellicoe’s main
fleet would speedily be in a position to cut off the German battleships
from their retreat through the Skager-Rack to Kiel.  Yet at the same
time the odds against Beatty were bordering upon the enormous.  His duty
was to engage, entice, and hold the enemy in a northerly direction
without being overwhelmed by superior force.  Even at the risk of losing
some of his best ships he had to engage the attention of the enemy, lure
them into the belief that at last the British battle-cruisers had run
into a trap, and hammer away until the Commander-in-Chief arrived upon
the scene with a vastly superior fleet.

At a quarter to five the opposing forces opened fire simultaneously at a
range of 20,000 yards.  The _Calder_ was keeping station broad on the
beam of the _Queen Mary_, and warding off threatened submarine attacks,
for the time was not yet ripe for the destroyers to hurl themselves
against the battered hostile ships.

"By Jove, this is going to be ’some’ scrap," muttered Crosthwaite, as a
regular tornado of heavy shells "straddled" the leading battle-cruisers.

At first the German gunnery was excellent, several direct hits being
received by the British battle-cruisers, but in a few moments the
steady, rapid, methodical salvoes from the British 13.5’s began to make
themselves felt.  Between the patches of haze, rent by the lurid flashes
of the guns, could be descried the greenish-grey outlines of the hostile
vessels fast being reduced to scrap-iron.  For the time being all seemed
well with the British battle-cruisers, whose volume of fire was still
being delivered with that terrible regularity which the Huns have good
cause to dread.

Suddenly the huge _Indefatigible_ was destroyed; a gallant
battle-cruiser of nearly 19,000 tons had paid the price of Admiralty.

In previous naval battles such an appalling catastrophe as the blowing
up of a mighty ship has caused the two fleets spontaneously to cease
fire for a period of some minutes; but in the Jutland fight, regardless
of the fate of the battle-cruiser, the rest of the squadron redoubled
their efforts.  Not for one second did the hellish din cease, as the
death-dealing salvoes hurtled into the opposing ships.  To quote the
words of one on board the _Tiger_, it was "a glorified Donnybrook
Fair--whenever you see a head, crack it!"

Twenty minutes later Crosthwaite saw the _Queen Mary_ sunk.  So quickly
did she disappear that the _Tiger_, following astern, passed through the
smoke that marked the grave of the devoted ship.

Beyond, the _Invincible_, already badly hit, sank, taking with her 750
gallant officers and men.

By this time the Fifth Battle Squadron, which had been attached to
Beatty’s command, came into action, opening fire at 20,000 yards, and
although the pressure of the enemy’s predominance in numbers was
considerably relaxed, the danger was by no means over.  For, in the now
thicker haze, the German battle fleet had arrived upon the scene, and
Beatty was literally betwixt two fires. Yet he handled his vessels with
admirable strategical and tactical skill, being convinced, as was every
man under him, that in spite of losses he was succeeding in holding the

Majestically the four great battleships, _Warspite_, _Valiant_,
_Barham_, and _Malaya_, bore into the mêlée, each of their 15-inch guns
firing with terrible effect. The head of the German column seemed to be
literally crumpled and crushed.  A large three-funnelled battleship,
possibly the _Thuringien_, received terrific punishment.  Masts,
funnels, turrets, were blown away piecemeal, until, a mass of smoke and
flames, she hauled off line and was quickly screened by the smoke from
some of the German destroyers.  Whether she sank--and it seemed as if
she could not do otherwise--Crosthwaite was unable to determine.  Other
German vessels, badly damaged, were swung out of position, some of them
on fire and showing a tremendous list.

At a quarter to five both fleets altered course several points, the
rival lines turning outwards and completely reversing their previous
direction. It was at this juncture that the British destroyers were
ordered to take advantage of the confusion in which the Huns had been
thrown and to launch a torpedo attack upon the battered enemy ships.

"Now for it," thought Crosthwaite, the glint of battle in his eyes.  It
was his chance--a dash in broad daylight against the quick-firers of the
German vessels.  Never before in the history of naval warfare had
destroyers been ordered to attack battleships save at night.  Everything
depended upon skill in handling, speed, and the turmoil into which the
enemy had been thrown by the terrific gun-fire of the battleships of the
_Queen Elizabeth_ class.

In four columns line ahead the destroyer flotillas raced off at top
speed.  Drawing clear of the cruisers, they turned 8 points to
starboard, a course that would bring them in contact with the enemy
line.  Thick clouds of fire-tinged smoke belched from their funnels--not
due to bad stoking but to the deliberate manipulation of the
oil-fuel-fed furnaces, since smoke alone offered any concealment during
the daylight attack.

With a couple of quartermasters, a signalman, and a messenger to attend
to the voice-tubes, Crosthwaite took up his station within the
conning-tower.  All his mental powers were at work, and yet he remained
perfectly cool and collected. Hardly a detail that came under his notice
of that onward rush escaped his recollection.

For the first few miles the destroyers kept perfect station.  Had they
been on peace manoeuvres their relative distances could not have been
better maintained.  Through the eddying, ash-laden smoke, Crosthwaite
strained his bloodshot eyes upon the destroyer next ahead, ready at the
first sign to reduce speed or swerve should the little craft be hit or
fall out of line.  The possibility of the _Calder_ being "done in" never
occurred to him, once the order had been given to attack. It was always
one of her consorts that might meet with ill-luck, but Crosthwaite’s
command--no, never.

Shells were beginning to ricochet from the water all around the devoted
destroyers; yet, seemingly bearing a charmed life, they held grimly on
their way.

More than once the sharp crash of a projectile exploding astern caused
the lieutenant-commander to turn his head.  Already rents were visible
in the _Calder’s_ funnels, through which the smoke poured in long
trailing wisps.  By the two tubes the torpedo-men stood rigidly at
attention.  Their two deadly weapons had been "launched home" and the
tubes trained ten degrees for’ard of the beam. With his hand upon the
firing-trigger the torpedo coxswain of each end waited, as impassive as
if carved in marble, ready to speed the missile on its way, and
apparently indifferent to the fact that a sliver of steel striking the
deadly warhead would involve the destroyer and her entire crew in
absolute and instantaneous destruction.

Suddenly the leading destroyer ported helm, turning so swiftly and
listing so excessively that, for the moment, Crosthwaite thought that
she had received a mortal blow.  Her alert commander had noticed a
suspicious movement amongst the irregular line of battered German
war-ships, now almost within effective torpedo range.

Out from behind the screen of battleships tore a German light cruiser
and nearly a score of their ocean-going torpedo-boats.  Whether it was
with the intention of intercepting the British destroyers, or whether
about to launch a torpedo attack upon Beatty’s battle-cruisers,
Crosthwaite knew not.  All he did know was that the rival flotillas were
closing at an aggregate rate of more than a mile a minute, and that the
next few seconds would find the torpedo-craft mixed up in a most unholy

All attempts at formation were now cast to the winds.  Interlining,
dodging across each other’s bows, the engaging vessels raced madly to
and fro, their quick-firers barking as rapidly as the gunners could
thrust home the cartridges and clang the breech-blocks.  So intricate
was the manoeuvring that Crosthwaite saw two German torpedo-boats
collide, and, while in that position, they were raked by a dozen shells
from the _Turbulent_.

Almost the next instant he was aware that a similar peril threatened the
_Calder_, for a British destroyer, hit in her engine-room, circled
erratically to starboard across her bows.

Gripping the engine-room telegraph-indicator levers, Crosthwaite rammed
them to full speed astern.  It was his only chance, for he could not
pass either across the bows or astern of the crippled destroyer without
certain risk of colliding with others of the flotilla.  Then he
waited--perhaps five seconds--in breathless suspense.  Thank God, the
_Calder_ began to lose way!  It now remained to be seen whether she
would gather sternway before her sharp stem crashed into the other
destroyer amidships.

Even as he gripped the levers Crosthwaite saw the crew of the crippled
craft’s after 4-inch gun slew the weapon round to have a smack at the
German vessel that had hit her so badly.  The gun-layer, pressing his
shoulder to the recoil-pad, bent over the sights.  The next instant a
hostile shell landed fairly upon the 4-inch quick-firer, bursting with
an ear-splitting detonation.

When the smoke had drifted away, the gun was no longer visible, only a
few twisted pieces of metal marking the spot where the mounting had
stood.  Of the men serving the quick-firer only one remained--the
gun-layer.  By the vagaries of explosion he was practically unhurt,
except for being partially stunned by the terrible detonation. For some
minutes he stood stock-still, as if unable to realize that the gun and
his comrades had disappeared; then, making a sudden bound, he leapt into
the sea.  Evidently under the impression that the vessel was on the
point of foundering, he had decided to swim for it.

Well it was for him that the _Calder_ was now almost motionless,
although her propellers were going hard astern.  Caught by the backwash
of the revolving screws, he was swept past the side like a cork in a
mountain torrent, until one of the men on the _Calder’s_ fore-bridge
threw him a rope.

As coolly as if mustering for divisions, the rescued gun-layer made his
way aft, and, saluting the gunner, requested to be allowed to assist in
serving the _Calder’s_ after 4-inch.

Out from behind a dense cloud of smoke leapt a German torpedo-boat.  Her
commander had spotted the _Calder_ practically without steerage-way, and
had made up his mind to ram, since his own craft was badly hit and could
not keep afloat much longer.

Quickly Crosthwaite shouted an order.  A torpedo leapt from the
_Calder’s_ deck and disappeared with a splash beneath the surface.
Anxiously the lieutenant-commander watched the ever-diverging lines that
marked the track of the locomotive weapon.  The target was a difficult
one, although the range was but 200 yards.

The German skipper saw the approaching danger and attempted to port
helm.  Crippled in the steam steering-gear, the Hun torpedo-boat was
slow in answering.  A column of water leapt 200 feet in the air; by the
time it subsided the hostile craft was no longer in existence, save as a
shattered and torn hull plunging through nineteen fathoms of water to
her ocean bed.

By this time the German torpedo-craft had had about enough of it.  At
least two of them had been sunk by German gun-fire, while another pair,
their upper works reduced to a mass of tangled scrap-iron, had mistaken
each other for foes, with the result that a German destroyer had been
sent to the bottom by a torpedo from her consort.

Turning back, the battered remnants of the Hun flotilla fled for the
shelter of their battle-cruisers. The path was now clear for the
furtherance of the British destroyers’ attack upon the larger vessels of
the hostile fleet; but the difficulties had increased tenfold owing to
the injury of some of the boats, which were compelled to slacken speed
and drop astern.

Yet undaunted, the black-hulled hornets reformed into some semblance of
order, and, under a galling fire, hurled themselves upon the formidable
array of German battle-cruisers.

CHAPTER VIII--The "Calder’s" Second Scoop

Of the mad, desperate, and, above all, glorious race into the gates of a
maritime hell Crosthwaite saw but little beyond his immediate front.
Since the British destroyers were under the fire of projectiles ranging
from 11-inch downwards, it was evident that the _Calder’s_
light-armoured conning-tower would afford little protection, and if it
were hit by a heavy shell the fate of all within would be sealed.  So,
standing on the starboard extremity of the bridge, the
lieutenant-commander took his craft into the second phase of the
destroyer attack.

Up to the present not a single British destroyer had been sunk, although
some had been compelled to retire owing to damage received during their
scrap with the hostile torpedo flotilla; but the good start in this
direction was no longer maintained.

A large destroyer, subsequently identified as the _Nomad_, was struck by
a huge projectile almost amidships.  A rush of scalding steam, followed
by clouds of smoke, announced that the engine-room was wrecked, and that
the vessel was no longer under control.

Porting helm, the _Calder_ ran past the lee of the crippled destroyer,
the smoke from which undoubtedly saved Crosthwaite’s command from severe

For nearly half a mile the _Nomad_ carried way, until she came to a stop
between the lines.  The last Crosthwaite saw of her was the destroyer,
still afloat, maintaining a desultory fire, although a stationary target
for an overwhelming number of hostile guns.

Suddenly Crosthwaite staggered, hurled sideways by an invisible force.
The guard-rail, which he was still gripping, was no longer supported by
the stanchions.  Falling heavily upon the bridge, he was within an ace
of dropping overboard when a signalman gripped him by the ankles.

The lieutenant-commander regained his feet in an instant, barely
conscious of his narrow escape, for a 4-inch shell had passed so close
to him that the windage had capsized him.  Crashing aft, the projectile
demolished the short mast supporting the wireless, hurling the fragments
upon the deck. The White Ensign, which had fluttered from this masthead
during the action, had blown against the mounting of the after 4-inch
gun.  Although little more than a riddled piece of bunting, it was
secured by one of the men and lashed to the stump of the mast.

Hardly had the dauntless man completed his self-imposed task when
another shell struck the _Calder_ obliquely on the port bow.
Penetrating the fo’c’sle, it burst with a muffled report, but, instead
of shattering the for’ard part of the destroyer, it emitted dense clouds
of greenish-yellow smoke that eddied through the shattered plating on
the fore-deck and drifted sullenly aft.

In a second Crosthwaite realized the danger. The shell had been filled
with poisonous gas, and just at the time when the ship was getting
within torpedo-range, and the men had to direct all their energies upon
loosing the 21-inch weapons, the asphyxiating fumes threatened to put
them, at least temporarily, out of action.

With his hands clasped to his mouth and nostrils Crosthwaite awaited the
noxious vapour, hoping that the head wind caused by the rush of the
destroyer through the water would quickly disperse the poison; but with
horrible persistence the deadly smoke hovered betwixt the various
projections on deck.

He was conscious of the quartermaster and the others on the bridge
staggering, with their fingers frantically gripping their throats.  The
signalman who had previously saved his commanding officer from falling
overboard was writhing in agony, clawing at whatever came to hand, until
in a frenzy he took a flying leap over the side and sank like a stone.

Left to herself, the _Calder_ began a broad sweep to starboard.  As she
did so, the fumes drifted to leeward, yet not before the men standing by
the pair of torpedo-tubes were temporarily overcome by the diabolical
product of German _Kultur_.

In vain Crosthwaite attempted to rally the men. It was either now or
never, for, unless the torpedoes were fired, the opportunity would be
gone.  He tried to shout, but no sound came from his tortured throat.
Between the eddying clouds of steam and smoke he could discern the
torpedo-men moving like stupefied bees.

With an effort the lieutenant-commander regained his voice.  He turned
to the quartermaster, who, although still gasping for breath, had come
through the terrible ordeal with comparatively slight ill-effects.

"Keep her steady on her helm," exclaimed Crosthwaite, and, literally
tumbling down the bridge ladder, he made his way aft to the

Pushing aside two victims of the poison-gas, one of them the L.T.O., who
lay athwart the racer, the lieutenant-commander gripped the
training-wheel and slewed the pair of tubes until they were nearly broad
on the beam.  At 2000 yards distance three large battle-cruisers
over-lapped, presenting a target nearly 1800 feet in length.  To miss
such an objective seemed almost impossible.

With a wrench Crosthwaite dropped the firing-lever of the right-hand
tube.  Through the thin haze that emerged from the metal cylinder, he
caught a glimpse of the gleaming, steel, cigar-shaped missile as it
leapt clear and disappeared with a mighty splash beneath the water.
Then, changing over to the left-hand tube, he sent the second weapon on
its errand of destruction.

A sudden and a totally unexpected swerve of the ship prevented
Crosthwaite from observing the result of his single-handed efforts.
Instinctively he realized that his presence was again required on the
bridge.  As he hastened for’ard he almost collided with Surgeon
Stirling, who, in his shirt-sleeves, had come up from below to aid the

Seeing Crosthwaite stagger along with his features contorted and his
complexion showing a sickly yellow in spite of the tan, the doctor
hurried after him.

"Not this time, Doc," protested the lieutenant-commander with a wan
smile, as he lurched forward. His brain was whirling under the strain of
the awful ordeal, yet he was dimly conscious that something was amiss,
and that at all costs he must return to his post.

He was barely in time.  The quartermaster was huddled in a heap at the
base of the steam steering-gear column with a ghastly wound in his
thigh. The destroyer, left to her own devices, once more was bearing
down upon one of her helpless consorts.

Thrusting the wheel hard over, Crosthwaite found that the vessel was
still under control. Almost by a hairbreadth she scraped the port
quarter of the crippled destroyer, whose decks were literally swept by
the enemy’s fire, and resembled a charnel-house.  Nothing could be done
to save her, for she was already on the point of foundering. Of her crew
not one visible remained alive.  She had fought to the death--a typical
example of British pluck and endurance against overwhelming odds.

Her last torpedoes fired, the _Calder_ was free to make good her
escape--if she could.  Receiving a couple of glancing hits as she sped
towards the shelter, she slid past the foremost of the British
battle-cruisers, receiving three hearty cheers from the crew.

The second phase of the destroyer operations was over.  Although not so
successful as had been expected, owing to the formation having been
disturbed by the encounter with the German torpedo flotillas, the dash
was not without definite material gains.  _Nomad_ and _Nestor_ had not
returned, and were presumed to be sunk, a surmise that subsequently
proved to be correct, since a portion of their crews were rescued by the
German torpedo-craft.

Having brought the _Calder_ safely out of the inferno, Crosthwaite’s
next step was to take stock of damages and report to the commander of
his flotilla.

The wireless was by this time again made serviceable, several of the
crew having worked while under fire on setting up the aerials which had
been carried away with the demolition of the after-mast.

Others were busily engaged in putting patches on the gaping rents in the
funnel casings and stopping the shell-holes in the thin plating.
Fortunately the engine-room had escaped serious damage, only two
casualties occurring owing to an auxiliary steam-pipe being severed by a
sliver of shell.

On the whole the _Calder_ had come off lightly. The worst damage to
personnel had been caused by the gas-shell, for, before the fumes had
dispersed, six men had lost their lives and ten others had been
incapacitated by the poisonous fumes.

"She’s as fit as ever she was in my department," reported
Engineer-Lieutenant Boxspanner. "Hope to goodness we shan’t be ordered
to haul out of it."

"I trust not," replied Crosthwaite.  "Must turn a blind eye to some of
the defects, I suppose. What did it feel like down below?"

Boxspanner shrugged his broad shoulders.  It was the first time he had
been in action, his appointment to the _Calder_ being of recent date.

"It was all right after the first half-minute or so," replied the
engineer-lieutenant.  "The racket at first was enough to stun a fellow.
I suppose in this job one can get used to anything.  Where’s Stirling,
by the by?"

"Busy," replied Crosthwaite gravely.  "Come and see him at work--if you
can stick it."

Well it was that the Admiralty, with their customary promptitude to
promote the welfare of the fighting fleet, had lost no time in
appointing scores of probationary assistant surgeons to the destroyers
immediately after the outbreak of hostilities.  Previously no medical
staff had been carried on these small craft.  A casualty occurring on
board, and accidents in the engine-rooms, were not of unfrequent
occurrence; the patients had to rely upon the well-meant attentions of
their comrades until they were transferred either to a parent ship or to
one of the shore hospitals.

Dr. "Jimmy" Stirling was a man who took life seriously.  At times he was
almost pessimistic, although there were occasions when a sudden spirit
of youthful exuberance would take complete possession of him.

In his shirt-sleeves, and with a blood-stained apron that an hour
previously had been spotlessly white tied closely under his armpits, the
surgeon was working with deliberate haste, performing a serious
operation at a speed that would have turned a hospital probationer pale
with apprehension.

The confined space which had been turned into a sick-bay reeked with
chloroform and iodoform. Wounded men were vying with each other in their
efforts to make light of their injuries, whilst those who were able to
smoke aroused the envy of their less fortunate comrades.  It was
considered "good form" for a patient to utter a rough-and-ready jest at
his own case, while grim, but none the less sympathetic, words were
bestowed upon their nearest fellow-sufferers.  It was a curious
physiological fact that a man who would have raved at a careless comrade
for having accidentally dropped some gear, narrowly missing his head,
greeted the information that he would lose his right arm with the
nonchalant remark: "Anyhow, when I get home on leaf my missus can’t make
me dig the bloomin’ allotment."

"Let’s get out of this, sir," whispered the engineer-lieutenant.
"Thought it would take a lot to capsize me, but, by Jove----!"

He backed abruptly, followed by the lieutenant-commander. Stirling, deep
in his task, had not noticed their presence.

A barefooted signalman, his blackened face and scorched and torn singlet
bearing testimony to his part in the "scrap", pattered along the
shell-pitted deck, and, saluting, tendered a signal-pad to his
commanding officer.

Crosthwaite took the paper and read the message scrawled thereon in
violet pencil.

"H’m!" he muttered.  "S’pose they want us out of it."

It was an order to the effect that the _Calder_ was to steam to a
certain rendezvous, fall in with one of the parent ships, transfer
wounded, and await further orders.  There seemed very little possibility
of the destroyer participating in the night attack upon the German
fleet--an operation in which the swiftly-moving British vessels might
achieve greater results, even if they failed to surpass the glory they
had already acquired by their wild, tempestuous dash in broad daylight.

"Almost wish I’d let the damaged wireless go for a bit," mused
Crosthwaite as he made his way to the badly-shattered bridge.

CHAPTER IX--The "Warrior’s" Gallant Stand

"What do you think we are up against?" asked Sefton, taking advantage of
a lull in the firing to put the question to his companion in the
fire-control station.

"Something big," replied the other, wiping a thin layer of coal dust and
particles of burnt cordite from the lenses of his binoculars.  "With
this rotten mist hanging around, one has to be jolly careful not to
pitch a salvo into one of our own craft.  Wish to goodness I’d
remembered to bring my camera along.  By Jove!  Wouldn’t the old
_Defence_ make a fine picture when she opened fire?"

"I’ll fetch it for you," volunteered Sefton.

His companion looked at him in astonishment.

"I mean it," continued the sub.  "We won’t be in action again for quite
ten minutes, unless those Huns take it into their heads to alter
course--which I don’t fancy will be at all likely."

He pointed to five faint objects scurrying farther away through the
patches of haze.  They were German light cruisers, which, having had a
taste of the salvoes of the leading ships of the First Cruiser Squadron,
had thought it prudent to sheer off.

"Then look slippy, old bird," said the other. "I’m rather keen on
getting the thing; I’d go myself if I were not here on duty with a
capital D. I’ll pass the word for the covers to be left open for your

Gaining the shrouds, Sefton descended cautiously, for already fragments
of exploding shells had cut through several of the wire strands, and had
played havoc with the ratlines.

Gaining the fore-bridge, he descended the ladder to the superstructure,
and, passing in the wake of the trained-abeam turrets, reached the only
hatchway leading to the main deck that had not been closed with an
armoured lid.

’Tween decks the air was hot and oppressive. The confined space reeked
with cordite fumes. Through the brown haze a streak of yellow light
played upon the deck--a beam of sunlight entering through a jagged
shell-hole in the ship’s side.

Farther along, a party of sick-bay men were lowering a stretcher through
a hatchway.  On the stretcher was strapped a wounded petty officer, one
of whose legs had been shattered below the knee.

The man was struggling violently, and expostulating in no mild terms.
Ignorant of his terrible injuries, he was insisting on being allowed to
return to his station and "have another smack at the Huns".

"Can’t go no farther this way, sir," announced a marine, recognizing the
sub, and knowing that he was new to the ship.  "Bulkhead doors are shut.
There’s a way round past the issue-room, sir, down this ’ere ladder."

The "issue-room" was open.  An electric lamp illuminated the
irregular-shaped space, which on one side was bounded by the convex base
of the after turret, a 6-inch wall of hard steel.

Sefton could hear voices raised in loud and vehement argument: two
assistant ship’s stewards were discussing the respective merits of
music-hall favourites.

A third voice joined in the discussion--that of one of the ship’s boys.

"’Taint neither the one or t’other," he began. "I was a-saying----"

"Then don’t say it, but get on with your job," interrupted the first
speaker.  "Those casks look a regular disgrace.  You haven’t polished
the brasswork for more’n three days, and it’s captain’s rounds

The next instant came a regular avalanche of flour-sacks, casks, copper
measures, and other paraphernalia pertaining to the ship’s steward’s
department.  Across the raised coaming of the doorway tripped the three
occupants of the issue-room, landing in a struggling, confused heap at
Sefton’s feet.

From a distance of nearly nine miles an 11-inch shell had hit the
_Warrior_ abreast of the after turret. It was some little time before it
was realized that the damage was slight.

The first to pick himself up was the ship’s steward’s boy.

"Guess you don’t want me to carry on with that there polishing job," he
remarked nonchalantly, as he heaved the winded petty officer to his feet
and indicated the debris of the brass-bound casks.

Sefton lost no time in fetching the camera from the gun-room.  Slinging
it round his neck, he gained the upper deck, and began his ascent to the
fire-control platform.

"Thanks," said his companion, as the sub handed the precious apparatus
to him.  "You’re only just in time.  Those light cruisers have altered
helm 16 points.  Looks fishy, by Jove!  They’ve something behind them to
back them up."

It was now nearly six o’clock.  Already the _Defence_ was hurling shells
at the leading German light cruiser at 14,000 yards, the range
momentarily decreasing as the two squadrons closed.

The Huns were certainly not devoid of pluck, although, as Sefton’s chum
had remarked, they evidently had some card up their sleeves.

For the next fifteen minutes the _Warrior_ and her consorts were at it
"hammer and tongs", directing a furious fire into the head of the
approaching column.  One of the hostile cruisers, hit by a double salvo
from the _Warrior_ and the _Defence_, capsized and sank.  Another,
burning fiercely in three different places, hauled out of line.

"Great sport, isn’t it?" exclaimed Sefton’s companion, setting down his
range-finder, for the distance had now decreased to 5000 yards, so that
the gun-layers were able to trace their weapons independently of orders
from the fire-control.

Suddenly and unexpectedly a salvo of heavy shells hurtled through the
haze, and, with deadly precision, riddled the flagship _Defence_ through
and through.  Her masts and funnels went by the board, flames burst from
her for’ard, ’midships, and aft, while with her engines disabled she
dropped slowly astern.

It was now the _Warrior’s_ turn to lead the line. As she forged ahead,
other enormous shells straddled her, coming in different direction from
the tempest of shot that had crippled the _Defence_.

"By Jove!" ejaculated Sefton.  "We’re in for it now."

Between the drifting clouds of smoke could be discerned the huge shapes
of a dozen large battleships and battle-cruisers, not those of
Jellicoe’s command, but flying the Black Cross ensign of Germany.  On
the port side, at less than 4000 yards, were four hostile
battle-cruisers.  At a similar distance to starboard were at least five
battleships of the _König_ class.

The _Warrior_ and _Defence_, hemmed in by vastly superior numbers, and
menaced by guns of far greater calibre, were seemingly doomed to
annihilation.  All that remained, as far as human judgment went, was to
fight to the last and worthily uphold the glorious traditions of the
Senior Service.

The _Warrior_ held grimly on her way, battered fore and aft on all sides
from the gradually contracting circle of big German ships.  In spite of
the terrific hail of projectiles rained upon her, the _Warrior_ still
maintained a rapid and determined fire.  It was against overwhelming
odds, and the Huns knew it.

Presently a violent thud caused the already trembling fire-control
platform to shake to such an extent that Sefton quite thought the whole
concern was about to tumble over the side.  A shell had shattered the
fore-topmast, the debris falling athwart the steel canopy protecting the
range-finding officers.  With the topmast came a raffle of gear,
including the wireless aerials.

By this time the cruiser was hulled over and over again.  Several of her
7-inch-gun turrets had been bodily swept away with their crews; two
funnels had gone by the board; the remaining pair, perforated like
sieves, were held in position merely by the wire guys.  A fierce fire
was raging aft, an incendiary shell having landed in the wardroom, while
a heavy dose of poison-gas prevented any of the crew from attempting to
quench the flames.

Twelve minutes of terrible battering the _Warrior_ stood, until an
11-inch shell, ripping through her 6-inch armoured belt, burst inside
the port engine-room, shattering the main steam-pipe.

The scene in the confined space was terrible beyond description.  The
concussion had shattered every electric lamp, the oil ones were
extinguished by the noxious fumes.  The floor of the engine-room was
flooded to a depth of four inches with scalding water that surged to and
fro with each roll of the sorely-pressed vessel, and added to the
torments of the men already wounded by the shell explosion.

Yet even in that inferno there were men whose courage did not desert
them, and dozens of heroic and never-to-be-recorded deeds were performed
in the darkness of the scalding engine-room.

Then the starboard engine-room was swept by the explosion of a shell,
increasing to a terrible extent the casualties amongst the courageous
"black squad".  For nearly two miles the _Warrior_ carried away, until,
deprived of the means of propulsion, she lay, a battered hulk,
surrounded by her enemies.

It was the story of the _Revenge_ over again, but with a different

Sefton realized that he and his companions were virtually prisoners in
the fire-control platform. Even had they dared to risk descending
through that tornado of shrapnel and flying slivers of molten steel,
their means of escape was limited to one solitary shroud.  The rest,
"whipped" into a confused tangle, were trailing over the ship’s sides.

Passive spectators, for their work aloft was done, they awaited the end,
their eyes fixed upon the German battle-cruisers as at intervals they
became visible through the drifting cloud of smoke and steam.

Only two guns of the _Warrior_ were now replying to the hostile fire,
barking slowly, yet resolutely, as they sent their projectiles hurtling
through the air at the nearmost of the assailants, now but 3500 yards

"By Jove, look!" exclaimed Sefton’s chum, pointing with a bandaged hand
at a large object looming through the smoke close under the _Warrior’s_

It was the gigantic battleship _Warspite_.

Tearing along at well over her contract speed, the 27,500-ton leviathan
meant business.  Receiving a salvo of heavy shells that were intended to
administer a _coup de grâce_ to the crippled _Warrior_, and which for
the most part rebounded harmlessly from her armour, the _Warspite_ let
rip with her splendid 15-inch guns.  At the second salvo a German
battle-cruiser simply crumpled up and vanished in a cloud of smoke.

Pitted for the first time in this particular engagement against guns of
more than their own calibre, the Germans began to fire most erratically.
Many of the projectiles fell into the sea.  Their shooting, hitherto
fairly accurate, became wild and spasmodic.  They were learning the
truth about modern British gunnery, with British hearts of oak behind
the powerful weapons.

But, in spite of her size and superiority of armament, the _Warspite_
did not come off unscathed. At a critical moment her steam steering-gear
jammed, and round she circled, straight for the enemy’s line.  Before
the damage could be rectified she was hit several times, losing, amongst
other gear, her wireless aerials.  While she was still under fire a
hostile submarine let off a couple of torpedoes, both of which
fortunately missed their mark.

The action had already passed away from the battered _Warrior_.  She had
played her part.  It remained to save herself from foundering, if she
could--a truly herculean task.

CHAPTER X--Battered but Unconquered

Almost as in a dream Sefton realized that he was still alive.  His
hearing was practically done for, owing to the terrific detonation of
the guns.  His eyes were red and smarting from the effects of numerous
particles of soot and dust that had drifted in through the sighting
apertures of the fire-control station.  He could scarcely speak, his
throat was parched and gripped by a terrible thirst. His borrowed
uniform was rent in several places, while the right leg of his trousers
was warm and moist.  Unknown to him, a splinter of metal had cut a clean
gash just above the knee.  In the excitement of the action he had not
felt the wound. Now it was beginning to throb painfully.

"The stick will go by the board before long," remarked an officer, as
the crippled foremast gave a sickening jerk with the roll of the ship to
starboard.  "The sooner we get out of this the better, I fancy."

It was easier said than done.  Even if the attention of the men on
deck--and they were busily engaged with hoses in quelling the numerous
small outbreaks of fire amidships--could be attracted, it was wellnigh
impossible to form a means of communication with the elevated masthead

"Worth risking it?" queried Sefton’s chum, indicating the solitary
shroud on either side of the mast.

The sub shook his head.

"A tall order," he replied.  "I don’t seem to have the strength of a
steerage rat for a swarm-down from this height.  No thanks, I’m not
taking any."

"If we had only a coil of signal halyard," remarked the range-finding
officer tentatively, "we might----  But there isn’t a couple of fathoms
of line left aloft."

He thrust his head and shoulders through a hole in the steel plating,
and surveyed the scene 100 feet below.  Viewed from that dizzy height,
the prospect of descending by means of a wire stay was not inviting.

"Hallo!" he exclaimed.  "There’s a bluejacket swarming aloft."

"Bluejacket" was hardly a strictly correct description, for climbing
hand over hand was a man clad only in a pair of canvas trousers.  From
his waist upwards he was stripped.  His feet, too, were bare.  His
bronzed face, neck, and hands stood out in vivid contrast to the
whiteness of the rest of the skin.  His muscles, like whipcord, rippled
as he ascended with a steady, even movement towards the isolated
foretop.  From his belt trailed a line the coils of which were being
carefully "paid out" by a seaman standing on the extremity of the
badly-damaged fore-bridge.

Half-way up the shroud the climber paused to regain his breath.  As he
threw back his head to gauge the remaining distance, his face was
revealed to the group on the swaying platform.

"By George!" ejaculated Sefton’s chum.  "It’s the man you went into the
ditch after."

It was Able Seaman Brown.  Having lost touch with his officer during the
engagement, his first thoughts after the _Warrior_ had ceased fire were
for the sub who had risked his life on his behalf. Enquiries elicited
the information that Sefton had been last seen while ascending to the
fire-control platform.

"Blow me if they ain’t properly cut off," muttered the man, as he eyed
the precarious perch.  "Here goes."

Obtaining the consent of one of the officers to attempt his perilous
ascent, A.B. Brown was now well on his way to establish communication
with the deck.

Perspiring from every pore, his muscles creaking under the strain, the
horny palms of his hands lacerated by the frayed strands of the wire,
the seaman at length gained one of the angle-girders upon which the
platform was bolted.  Here he remained for fully five minutes before
essaying the last part of his journey.

Hanging from the metal structure was a block, from which the
running-gear had long since "rendered through".  The man examined it
critically. To all outward appearance it seemed to be sound.

Jockeying himself along the sharp-edged angle-plate, Brown rove the end
of the rope through the block, and "paid out" until the line touched the
deck.  Fortunately there was enough to spare. Three or four of the
_Warrior’s_ crew were standing by to give assistance, and quickly bent a
"bos’n’s chair" to one end of the rope.

"Come along, sir," exclaimed the A.B. encouragingly. "We’ll have the lot
of you down in a jiffy."

He held out his hand to steady Sefton on his dizzy journey along the
metal "bracket", until a sudden thought flashed across his mind.  What
if the rope carried away or the pulley-block was defective?

"Hold on, sir," he said.  "I’ll show you the way down."

He signalled for the bos’n’s chair to be sent aloft, reflecting that if
the appliance were strong enough to bear his weight--he could give
Sefton nearly a couple of stones--the sub would run very little risk.
If, on the other hand, the gear carried away, he reflected grimly, his
"number would be up".

Sliding into the wooden seat, the A.B. motioned to his comrades to
lower.  Handsomely the men paid out the comparatively frail rope until
Brown’s bare feet came in contact with the bridge planking.

Five minutes later, the three seamen who had been attending to the
voice-tubes in the fire-control station were lowered into safety, in
spite of the fact that one was in a semi-conscious condition owing to a
shrapnel wound in his head.

Sefton was the next to descend, after a spirited argument with his
brother sub on the etiquette of seniority, until the lieutenant settled
his subordinate’s dispute by declaring that Sefton was a guest, and that
the question of precedence did not hold good in present circumstances.

At length all the occupants of the fire-control platform were lowered in
safety.  Barely had the lieutenant gained the deck when Sefton’s
companion gave vent to an exclamation of annoyance.

"Dash it all!" he exclaimed.  "I clean forgot all about that camera.
Here goes."

Slipping into the bos’n’s chair he made the men haul away for all they
were worth, and, spinning round at the end of the rope, the _Warrior’s_
sub again ascended to the dizzy, insecure perch.

Sefton watched him disappear into the recesses of the enclosed space,
presently to reappear with the precious camera dangling round his neck.

"Wouldn’t have lost it for anything," remarked the young officer as he
regained the fore-bridge. "I’ve knocked about with it ever since I was
at Osborne, you know."

"Take anything during the action?" enquired Sefton.

"By Jove, no, I didn’t!  Clean forgot all about it."

"And I fancy, old bird, you won’t again," interposed an assistant
paymaster, vainly attempting to "open out" the folding camera.  "It’s
done for."

Which was only too true.  A fragment of shell had penetrated the case,
reducing the delicate mechanism to a complete wreck.

"Look out!  Stand clear!" shouted a dozen voices.

With a rending crash the crippled mast buckled up and disappeared over
the side.

Sefton glanced at his chum.  The imperturbable sub shrugged his

"Better to be born lucky than rich, old man," he remarked.  "But, by
heavens, what a jamboree!"

He could find no other words to describe the scene of destruction.  Now
that the ship was out of action, and the excitement of the titanic
struggle was over, the grim realization of what a naval engagement means
was beginning to reveal itself to the survivors of the gallant crew.

All the fires had been extinguished, with the exception of the big
outbreak aft.  Gangs of men toiled desperately at the hand-pumps with a
double purpose.  The _Warrior_ was making water freely. Already her
stokeholds and engine-rooms were flooded.  Deprived of the aid of her
powerful steam bilge-pumps it seemed doubtful if the hand appliances
would be able to cope with the steady inrush. Moreover, a considerable
volume of water had to be directed upon the fire.

Officers with blackened faces and scorched uniforms encouraged the men
by word and deed.  At whatever cost the _Warrior_ had to be saved from
foundering if human efforts were capable of such a herculean task.
Undaunted, the crew toiled manfully, fighting fire and water at one and
the same time.

Already the dead had been identified and given a hasty, yet impressive,
burial, while--an ominous sign--the wounded had been brought up from
below and laid in rows upon the upper deck.  It was a necessary
precaution, and clearly indicated the grave possibility of the old
_Warrior_ being unable to battle much longer against the ever-increasing

There was now plenty of work for Sefton to do. Placed in charge of one
of the fire-parties he was soon strenuously engaged in fighting the
conflagration.  With the flooding of the after magazine all danger of an
explosion was now at an end, but, unless the flames were speedily
quelled, the possibility of foundering would be materially increased,
since several shell-holes betwixt wind and water had occurred in that
part of the ship still dominated by the outbreak.

Although no doubt existed in the minds of the _Warrior’s_ crew as to the
outcome of the general engagement, they were in suspense owing to a
total lack of news.  Without wireless they were debarred from
communication with the rest of the squadron. As helpless as a log, the
battered vessel was floating in the vast expanse of the North Sea
without a single vessel in sight.  The roar of the battle had rolled on
far to the nor’ard, and although the incessant rumble of the terrific
cannonade was distinctly audible, the _Warrior_ was as ignorant of the
course of events as if she had been a hundred miles away.

The almost flat calm had given place to sullen undulations rippled by a
steady breeze that threatened before long to develop into a hard blow.
There was every indication of an angry sea before nightfall.

An hour had elapsed since the _Warrior_ had ceased firing--sixty minutes
of strenuous exertion on the part of all hands--when a vessel was
sighted apparently steaming in the crippled cruiser’s direction.

For some moments suspense ran high, for whether the strange craft were
friend or foe no one on board could give a definite decision.

"What do you make of her?" enquired Sefton’s chum as the two young
officers stood under the lee of a partly demolished gun-turret.

"Precious little," replied Sefton.  "Can’t say that I am able to
recognize her.  But in these times, with a new vessel being added to the
navy every day, one can hardly be expected to tell every ship by the cut
of her jib."

"She might be a Hun," said the _Warrior’s_ sub. "One that has got out of
her bearings and is just sniffing round to see what damage she can do.
Hallo!  There’s ’Action Stations’."

The _Warrior_ was taking no unnecessary risks. She was still in a
position to bite, although at a terrible disadvantage if opposed to an
active and mobile foe.  Gamely her war-worn men doubled off to the light
quick-firers, three rousing cheers announcing the fact that, although
badly battered, the gallant British seamen knew not the meaning of the
word surrender.

Nearer and nearer came the mysterious vessel. She was by no means moving
at the rate of a light-cruiser, her speed being about 15 knots.  She
flew three ensigns on various parts of her rigging, but, being end on
and against the wind, the colours could not be distinguished.

Presently she ported helm slightly.  Another roar of cheering burst from
the throats of the _Warrior’s_ men, for now the colours were
discernible.  They were not the Black Cross of Germany--a counterfeit
presentment of the White Ensign--but the genuine article--the British
naval ensign.

Simultaneously a hoist of bunting ascended to the signal yard-arm.  A
hundred men could read the letters, but the jumble conveyed nothing to
them.  Not until the code-book was consulted could the vessel’s identity
be made known.

"_Engadine_, sir," replied the chief yeoman of signals.  "Sea-plane
carrier, that’s what she is," he confided in an undertone to another
petty officer standing by his side.

A lengthy exchange of semaphore by means of hand-flags ensued, for other
methods of communication on the part of the _Warrior_ were impossible,
owing to the clean sweep of everything on deck.

And now, in the rapidly rising sea, preparations were made for taking
the crippled _Warrior_ in tow. Already the cruiser’s stern was well
down, and, badly waterlogged, she would prove a handful for a
powerfully-engined craft to tow, let alone the lightly-built _Engadine_.

But Lieutenant-Commander C. A. Robinson of the sea-plane ship _Engadine_
knew his business, and handled his vessel with superb skill.  Thrice he
manoeuvred sufficiently close to establish communication between his
ship and the drifting _Warrior_, Twice the flexible wire hawser parted
like pack-thread. At the third attempt the hawsers held, and the
_Warrior_ slowly gathered way, wallowing astern of the _Engadine_ at a
rate of 4 knots--but every minute was taking the unvanquished cruiser
nearer Britain’s shores.

By this time all on board knew that their sacrifice had not been in
vain.  Jellicoe was known to have effected a junction with Beatty’s
hard-pressed squadrons, the German High Seas Fleet was in flight, and
betwixt them and their North Sea bases was the invincible Grand Fleet.
"The Day" had proved to be a day of reckoning for the boastful Huns in
their efforts to wrest the trident from Britannia’s grasp.

CHAPTER XI--The Wrecked Sea-plane

With her stock of torpedoes replenished and certain defects made good,
H.M.T.B.D. _Calder_ sheered off from her parent ship, and, increasing
speed to 21 knots, shaped a course to rejoin the rest of the flotilla.

Lieutenant-Commander Richard Crosthwaite was in high spirits.  He
thought that he had succeeded in bluffing the commodore to give his
permission to rejoin the rest of the fleet instead of being ordered back
to the Firth of Forth.  As a matter of fact, his senior officer,
realizing that a "stout heart goes a long way", had purposely refrained
from asking a lot of awkward questions concerning the _Calder’s_
injuries.  In the forthcoming and projected night attack every destroyer
available would be needed to put the fear of the British navy into the
minds of the Huns and 21-inch torpedoes into the vitals of their

The spirit of the _Calder’s_ skipper was shared by every member of the
crew.  Even the wounded showed reluctance to be transferred to the
parent ship; those whose injuries did not prevent them from getting
about sturdily asserting that they might be of use.  Those obliged to
take to their hammocks were emphatic in impressing upon their more
fortunate comrades the request "to get their own back".

The sun was low in the north-western sky when the _Calder’s_ look-out
men sighted two vessels slowly making their way in the direction of
home. One, evidently badly damaged, was in tow of the other.

It was part of the destroyer’s duty to investigate, since it might be
possible that the vessels were hostile craft endeavouring by making a
wide detour to reach their base.

A wireless message, in code, was sent from the _Calder_, requesting the
two vessels to disclose their identity.  The reply left Crosthwaite no
longer in doubt.  The towing ship was the _Engadine_, while the crippled
craft wallowing in her wake was the heroic _Warrior_.

It was Crosthwaite’s opportunity to regain the services of his
sub-lieutenant if the latter had been lucky enough to escape from the
terrible gruelling to which the British cruiser had been subjected.

Closing to within a cable’s length of the _Warrior_ he signalled:

"Request permission to take off my sub-lieutenant."

To which the _Warrior_ replied:

"Permission granted, provided no needless risk to His Majesty’s ships."

Crosthwaite smiled grimly.  The idea of further damage being done to the
_Warrior_ seemed out of the question, while he considered he was quite
capable of bringing the _Calder_ alongside without denting a single

Ordering "easy ahead", Crosthwaite brought the _Calder_ close alongside
the _Warrior’s_ port quarter.  Although the sea was now running high,
and the waves were breaking over the latter’s almost submerged
quarter-deck, it was comparatively calm under her lee.

"There’s your glorified Thames penny steamer alongside, old man,"
remarked Sefton’s chum as the _Calder_ was made fast fore and aft, her
deck being little more than a couple of feet below that of the
cruiser--so low had the latter settled aft.  "No, don’t trouble to
return my coat.  It’s positively not respectable for the quarter-deck.
Well, so long! I’ll run across you again before this business is over, I

Scrambling over the debris, from which smoke was still issuing in faint
bluish wisps, Sefton gained the armoured cruiser’s side.  Poising
himself for an instant he leapt on the _Calder’s_ deck, followed by Able
Seaman Brown.


"Can I be of any assistance, sir?" enquired Crosthwaite from the bridge
of the destroyer.

The commanding officer of the _Warrior_ returned the salute and shook
his head.  He was loath to detain even one destroyer from the fighting
that yet remained to be done.

Amid the cheers of both crews the _Calder_ sheered off, and, porting
helm, resumed her course, while the _Warrior_, in tow of the _Engadine_,
was confronted with the approach of night and a steadily-increasing
rough sea.

The badly-damaged _Warrior_ never reached port. After being towed for
twelve hours, her position became so serious that the sea-plane carrier
hove alongside and removed her crew.

Giving three cheers for the old ship, as the _Engadine_, abandoning her
tow, increased the distance between her and the _Warrior_, the gallant
crew watched the battered hulk rolling sullenly in the angry sea until
she was lost sight of in the distance.

Having formally reported himself, Sefton went below to make up arrears
of sleep.  Boxspanner and the doctor were in the ward-room, both engaged
in animated conversation, not upon the subject of the action, but on the
merits and demerits of paraffin as a substitute for petrol for a

With disjointed fragments of conversation ringing in his ears, and
"carburation", "sooty deposit in the sparking plug", and "engine-knock"
figuring largely, Sefton fell into a fitful slumber, dreaming vividly of
the stirring incidents of the past few hours, until he was aroused by
the reversal of the destroyer’s engines, the lightly-built hull
quivering under the strain.

Instinctively he glanced at the clock.  He had been asleep only ten
minutes--it seemed more like ten hours by the length of his excited
mental visions.

Leaping from his bunk, Sefton scrambled into his clothes and hurried on
deck.  It was still twilight.  The wind was moaning through the aerials;
splashes of spray slapped the destroyer’s black sides as she lost way
and fell off broadside on to the waves.

Fifty yards to leeward was a large British sea-plane.  She was listing
at a dangerous angle, her starboard-float being waterlogged, and showing
only above the surface as the fabric heeled in the trough of the sea.
Her planes were ripped in twenty places, while the fuselage showed signs
of having been hit several times.  The tip of one blade of the propeller
had been cut off as cleanly as if by a knife.  All around her the water
was iridescent with oil that had leaked from her lubricating-tanks.
Waist-deep in water, and sitting athwart the undamaged float, was the
pilot--a young sub-lieutenant, whose face was blanched with the cold.
He had voluntarily adopted his position in order to impart increased
stability to the damaged sea-plane.

Lying on the floor of the fuselage, with his head just visible above the
coamings, was the observer. He had discarded his flying-helmet, while
round his head was bound a blood-stained scarf.  Evidently his wound was
of a serious nature, for he evinced no interest in the approach of the

As the destroyer drifted down upon the crippled sea-plane a dozen ready
hands gripped the top of one of the wings, and a couple of seamen
swarmed along the frail fabric to the chassis.

The rescue of the pilot was a comparatively easy matter, but it took all
the skill of the bluejackets to extricate the wounded observer.  It was
not until others of the crew came to the aid of their comrades, the men
in their zeal almost completing the submergence of the still floating
wreckage, that the unconscious officer was brought on board.

There was no time to waste in salvage operations. At an order from the
lieutenant-commander a seaman, armed with an axe, made his way to the
undamaged float.  A few vigorous blows completed the work of
destruction.  Held by the tip of one of the wings until the man regained
the destroyer, the sea-plane was allowed to sink.

"Rough luck to chuck away an engine like that," remarked a voice

Sefton turned his head and saw that the speaker was Engineer-Lieutenant
Boxspanner, and for once at least Dr. Stirling agreed with him.

The rescue of the sea-plane’s crew threw additional work upon the
already harassed surgeon, for the observer was showing signs of
collapse, while upon examination it was found that the pilot had been
hit in the forehead by a shrapnel bullet.

Pulling himself together, the observer managed to impart important
information before he fainted through sheer exhaustion.  The sea-plane
had sighted the main German fleet fifty miles to the nor’-nor’-east.

The intelligence was highly desirable.  It settled without doubt the
all-important question as to the enemy’s whereabouts, and definitely
proved that Jellicoe’s ships were between the Huns and their North Sea
bases.  If steps could be taken to intercept the German vessels’ retreat
through the Cattegat, it seemed as if they were doomed to annihilation
at the hands of the British.

Quickly the news was wirelessed from the _Calder_ to the _Iron Duke_.
Unless anything unforeseen occurred, it seemed pretty certain that
Admiral Jellicoe would be able to turn the initial advantage into an
overwhelming defeat for the enemy.

The two airmen had rendered good service against considerable odds.
They had ascended three hours previously, and, flying low in order to be
able to see through the haze, had eventually sighted the badly-damaged
German squadron under Rear-Admiral von Scheer, which had contrived to
slip away while Admiral Hipper was endeavouring to delay the advance of
Jellicoe’s main fleet.

Owing to the low degree of visibility, the seaplane came within range of
the hostile quick-firers almost before her pilot was aware of the
unpleasant fact.  Greeted by a hot fire, almost the first shell of which
carried away the wireless, the sea-plane ascended, trusting to be hidden
in the clouds until she could volplane from another direction and renew
her reconnaissance of the hostile fleet.

Unfortunately, it was a case of "out of the saucepan into the fire", for
on emerging above the low-lying bank of clouds the sea-plane found
herself almost underneath a Zeppelin, several of which accompanied the
German fleet, although their sphere of usefulness was considerably
curtailed by reason of the climatic conditions.  Although the haze
prevented the British from inflicting greater damage upon their
opponents, it is fairly safe to assert that had the sky been clear the
Zeppelins would have given the German fleet timely warning, and an
action would never have ensued.

Nothing daunted, the British sea-plane opened fire upon her gigantic
antagonist; but the odds were against her.  The Zeppelins, floating
motionless in the air and in perfect silence, had long before heard the
noisy approach of the mechanical hornet, and her appearance was greeted
with a concentrated fire of half a dozen machine guns, accompanied by a
few choice titbits in the shape of bombs.

The latter, without exception, missed their objective, but the hail of
bullets ripped the sea-plane through and through and dangerously wounded
her observer.  In spite of the riddled state of the planes the pilot
kept his craft well under control, but was forced to descend, not before
the Zeppelin was showing signs of having been much damaged by the
sea-plane’s automatic gun.  The last the airmen saw of her was that she
was making off at full speed in an easterly direction, her stern portion
dipping ominously in spite of the quantity of ballast hurled overboard
by her crew.

The British air-craft’s long volplane terminated on the surface of the
sea miles from the place where she had "spotted" the hostile ships.
Before long the pilot made the disconcerting discovery that one of the
floats was leaking.  Having bandaged his unfortunate comrade’s wound, he
slipped over the side of the fuselage on to the damaged float. Failing
to locate and stop the leak, he took up his position on the sound float,
in the hope that his weight would preserve the sea-plane’s stability.
In this position he remained for two hours, until, numbed by the cold,
he was on the point of abandoning hope when the _Calder_ hove in sight.

The sun had set when the _Calder_ rejoined the flotilla.  The enemy was
entirely out of sight, but there was every possibility of the German
torpedo-boats making a night attack upon the long line of battleships.

Every precaution was taken against such a step. The battleships and
battle-cruisers were encircled by a line of light cruisers, while beyond
them, and mostly between the British fleet and the reported position of
the German ships, was a numerous gathering of destroyers for the dual
part of protecting the larger ships and also, when opportunity occurred,
of making a dash against the Huns.

"Mark my words, Sefton," said Lieutenant-Commander Crosthwaite when the
_Calder_, having transferred the two airmen, had taken up her allotted
station, "to-night’s the night.  We’ll have the time of our lives."

CHAPTER XII--The Night Attack

Just before midnight two columns of destroyers in line ahead slipped
away in the darkness, the course being N. 42° E.  Without showing so
much as a glimmer of light, with their funnels screened with "spark
arresters" to prevent the exit of glowing embers from the furnaces, the
long, lean craft headed in the supposed direction of the enemy fleet.

From the elevated fore-bridge Sefton could scarce distinguish betwixt
the _Calder’s_ bows and the dark, heavy waves.  The only guide to enable
the destroyer to keep station was the phosphorescent swirl at the stern
of the vessel next ahead, as her triple propellers churned the water.

On deck the men were at the battle-stations, standing motionless and
silent.  Their faces had been blackened with burnt cork to render them
as inconspicuous as possible should the beam of a hostile search-light
swing itself athwart their vessel.

Although the high-raised fo’c’sle of the _Calder_ was comparatively dry,
showers of spray cast aside by the flaring bows were caught by the
strong wind and dashed over the bridge until it was impossible to make
use of night-glasses owing to the beads of moisture on the lenses.

Beyond a curt, clearly-enunciated order to the quartermaster, neither of
the two officers spoke a word, Crosthwaite gripping the guard-rail and
peering ahead, while Sefton kept his attention upon the tell-tale
greyish smudge that marked the position of the destroyer ahead.

The result of years of training at night manoeuvres was bearing fruit.
Iron-nerved men were at the helm of each boat--men who had long since
got beyond the "jumpy" stage, when strange freaks of imagination conjure
up visions of objects that do not exist.  A false alarm and a rapid fire
from the 4-inch guns would be fatal to the enterprise, the success of
which depended entirely upon getting well within torpedo-range without
being spotted by the alert foe.

A feeble light, screened in all directions save that towards the vessels
astern, blinked rapidly from the leading destroyer.  It was the signal
for the flotilla to form in line abeam.

"Starboard ten!" ordered Crosthwaite.

"Starboard ten, sir!" was the helmsman’s reply, while the
lieutenant-commander telegraphed for speed to be increased to 22 knots
in order to bring the _Calder_ even with the leader.

Had it been daylight the manoeuvre would have been executed with the
precision of a machine; being night it was impossible to follow the
movements of the whole flotilla, but carried out the orders were, each
destroyer keeping station with the one nearest on her starboard beam.

Suddenly the darkness was penetrated by the dazzling beam of a
search-light from a ship at a distance of two miles on the _Calder’s_
port bow. For a moment it hung irresolute, and then swung round in the
direction of the on-coming destroyers.

A huge black mass intercepted the rays, its outlines silhouetted against
the silvery glare.  The mass was a German light cruiser, evidently
detached for scouting purposes and returning with screened lights
towards the main fleet.

Instantly a furious cannonade was opened upon the luckless light cruiser
from half a dozen of her consorts.  For a couple of minutes the firing
continued, until, with a tremendous flash and a deafening roar, her
magazine exploded.

"The Huns will never admit their mistake," thought Sefton.  "They’ll
claim to have destroyed another of our ships."

Then the sub’s whole attention was chained to the work now on hand.
Barely had the last of the flying debris from the German light cruiser
struck the water when at full speed the British destroyer flotilla
hurled itself upon the foe.

Played upon by fifty search-lights, the target for a hundred guns, large
and small, the destroyers held on with one set purpose, their
torpedo-men discharging the 21-inch missiles with rapidity and cool

Above the crash of the ordnance could be heard the deeper boom of the
torpedoes as they exploded against the ships’ bottoms at a depth of
fifteen or twenty feet below the surface.

Slick in between two large battleships the _Calder_ rushed, letting
loose a pair of torpedoes at each of the hostile ships.  One torpedo was
observed to explode close to the stern of the battleship to starboard,
the stricken vessel leaving the line with a decided list and enveloped
in smoke.

"Light cruisers, by Jove!" muttered Sefton, as the _Calder_, on nearing
the end of the enemy line, was confronted by three vessels of the
"Wiesbaden" class.

A heavy fire greeted the approaching destroyer, but almost without
exception the shells went wide of their mark.  Then, gathering speed,
one of the German light cruisers ported helm and attempted to ram her
lightly-built opponent.

Making no effort to avoid the danger, the _Calder_ held on, until
Sefton, turning to see what his commanding officer was doing, found
Crosthwaite sitting on the bridge with his back against the pedestal of
the semaphore, and his hands clasping his right leg just above the knee,
and blood oozing from a gash in his forehead.

The sub was the only officer on the bridge capable of taking command.

"Hard-a-starboard!" he shouted, in order to make himself heard above the

Ever quick on her helm, the destroyer spun round almost on her heel.
The German’s stem missed her by a couple of feet, while, hurled bodily
sideways by the mass of water from the former’s bow wave, the _Calder_
slid past with her side-plating almost touching that of her enemy.

Simultaneously the Hun let fly a broadside.  The destroyer reeled under
the shock, but once again she was in luck, for none of the hostile guns
could be sufficiently depressed to score a vital hit.  The next instant
the cruiser was lost to sight in the darkness, saluted by a number of
rounds from the destroyer’s after 4-inch gun.

Temporarily stunned by the detonations of the German cruiser’s guns--for
he was within twenty feet of the muzzles of several of the
weapons--Sefton leaned against the conning-tower.  The metal was
unpleasantly hot, for a light shell had burst against it hardly a minute
before.  Beyond denting the steel armour and blowing the signal-locker
over the side, the missile had done no further damage.

Coughing the acrid fumes from his lungs and clearing his eyes of
involuntary tears, for the air was thick with irritating dust, Sefton
began to take a renewed interest in his surroundings.

The _Calder_ had penetrated the hostile line without sustaining serious
damage.  She had now to return.

The sub grasped one of the voice-tubes.  The flexible pipe came away in
his hand, the whole system having been cut through with a fragment of

"We’ve had it pretty hot!" he soliloquized. "Wonder we’re still afloat.
Well, now for it once more."

He leant over the after side of the bridge.  A dark figure was moving
for’ard ten feet beneath him.

"Pass the word to the L.T.O.," ordered the sub, "to report the number of
torpedoes remaining."

"Aye, aye, sir," replied the man, and, retracing his steps, he hurried
aft to where the leading torpedo-man was standing at the tubes.

Back came the messenger, lurching as he loomed through the darkness.

"The man hasn’t found his sea-legs yet," thought Sefton; then aloud he
asked: "Well?"

"None left, sir," replied the seaman, and, having delivered his message,
he pitched upon his face.

Sefton had to let him lie there.  The sub could not leave the bridge.
Even Crosthwaite had to be left alone until the destroyer was out of

It would have been a futile task to attempt to take the _Calder_ back
between the enemy lines. With no other offensive weapons than her
comparatively light 4-inch quick-firers, she would be unable to do any
serious damage to the huge armoured ships, while at the same time she
would be exposed to an overwhelming fire as she passed abeam of the
German battleships and light cruisers.

So into the darkness, beyond the glare of the search-lights, Sefton took
the destroyer, with the intention of making a wide sweep and rejoining
the British fleet.  Of how the _Calder’s_ consorts were faring he knew
nothing, except that the action was being briskly maintained.
Occasionally the foggy night would be rent by a vivid red glare that
outclassed the almost continuous flashes of the guns, which illuminated
the low-lying clouds like incessant summer lightning.  The roar of the
ordnance was simply indescribable.  It seemed impossible that a man
could go through it without having his ear-drums burst by the terrific
air-beats of the appalling detonations.

A dark shape loomed through the darkness almost athwart the _Calder’s_
track.  Only a quick movement of the helm avoided collision with the
floating object, which, as the _Calder_ swept by, revealed itself as a
large destroyer.

On deck she was little better than a wreck. Bridge, conning-tower,
funnels, masts, and boats had vanished utterly.  Her guns, wrenched from
their mountings, pointed upwards at grotesque angles through their
shattered shields.  Where the torpedo-tubes had been was a jagged hole
still spanned by one arc of the gun-metal racer.  This much was visible
in the reflected glare of the distant search-lights as the _Calder_
swept by with her guns trained abeam should the vessel still be capable
of offence.

A score of men, mostly engine-room ratings, were gathered amidships on
the shattered deck of the crippled vessel.  They had desisted from the
work on which they were engaged, and were gazing mutely at the destroyer
that might be instrumental in giving them the _coup de grâce_.

"What ship is that?" roared Sefton through a megaphone, the intervening
distance being less than twenty yards.

"His Majesty’s destroyer _Yealm_," was the reply, flung proudly through
the darkness.

Thrusting both levers of the engine-room telegraph to "Full Speed
Astern" and afterwards to "Stop", the sub brought the _Calder_ to a
standstill within easy hailing distance of her disabled consort. Here
was a case in which assistance could be rendered without detriment to
the interests of the Service.  The _Calder_, until she could replenish
her store of torpedoes, was practically useless as a fighting unit.
With her engines undamaged she could tow the _Yealm_ into comparative
safety, provided she was not intercepted by a straggling hostile ship.

"Stand by to receive a hawser!" continued Sefton.  "We’ll give you a
pluck out of this."

"No; thanks all the same, sir," shouted a deep voice.  "We’re sound
below the water-line, and we can get under way again in a few minutes.
We’ll take our chances of getting out of it.  We gave the swine an
almighty punching before they swept our decks.  Carry on, sir, and give
them another half a dozen for us."

It was the _Yealm’s_ torpedo gunner who spoke, the only surviving
executive officer of the gallant destroyer.

"Can you spare us any torpedoes?" shouted Sefton, an inspiration
flashing across his mind.

"Aye, aye, sir," was the reply.  "Four."

"Very good; we’ll come alongside," rejoined the sub, who thereupon
ordered two wire "springs" to be made ready, so as to establish
communication between the two destroyers.

"Well done, Sefton!" exclaimed his lieutenant-commander.

The sub turned and found that Crosthwaite had regained his feet, and was
standing beside him upon the partly demolished bridge.

"You’re----", began Sefton, but the lieutenant-commander shut him up.

"Nothing," he replied laconically.  "You might fix me up.  Not a word to
Stirling, mind.  If I keep out of his way, he’s not to know.  But, by
Jove, you’ve been knocked about a bit."

The information, although correct, came as a surprise to Sefton.  For
the first time he noticed that the coat-sleeve of his left arm was cut
away, the remnant hanging by a few threads, while his left wrist was
encumbered by a bandage.  He must have tied the handkerchief himself,
but the action had been purely automatic.  Hitherto he had had no
knowledge that he had been hit by a splinter, and was quite unaware that
he had acted as his own bandager.

"Carry on," continued Crosthwaite.  "I’ll stand easy for a while.  I’ll
feel all right in a few minutes."

He vanished behind the wreckage of the conning tower, leaving Sefton to
survey the scene.  It was now light enough to discern the nature of the
damage caused by the ordeal through which the _Calder_ had passed, for
the flashes of the distant guns, added to the reflected rays of the
search-lights, made it possible to see with fair distinctness.

Of the _Calder’s_ funnels only one remained standing.  The others,
either swept clean away or lying athwart the deck, left jagged cavities,
through which the smoke was pouring from the oil-fed furnaces.

The starboard side of the bridge had vanished, with it the domed top of
the conning-tower, while the armoured sheets upon the latter, ripped
like cardboard, had been torn open, revealing the interior--a jumble of
twisted voice-tubes and shattered indicators.  The same shell that had
wrought havoc with the conning-tower had swept the for’ard 4-inch
completely from its mountings, taking its crew with it.

Meanwhile a dozen men had boarded the _Yealm_. Her scanty survivors were
too done up to tackle the task of heaving out the torpedoes, for,
included in the work of destruction, her derricks had shared the fate of
the rest of the top-hamper.  Others of the _Calder’s_ crew were
attending to the injuries of their comrades, for, in addition to eight
men killed outright, six were mortally wounded, and a dozen more had
sustained injuries that would incapacitate them for further service.

The plucky messenger who had brought Sefton’s reply from the L.T.O. had
been carried below.  In the heat of the fight he had received a splinter
of shell in his chest, the impact fracturing one of the breast-bones.
Yet, undaunted, he continued to serve his gun until the destroyer had
emerged from the hostile fire.  Even then he refused to present himself
before the doctor, and was making his way to the fo’c’sle like a wounded
animal, when Sefton, unaware of his injuries, had ordered him to take a
message aft.  This he did, in spite of the increasing pain and
faintness, and having delivered the reply he had been forced to

At length the four gleaming cylinders were transferred from the _Yealm_
to the _Calder’s_ decks.  Once more the destroyer, although battered
sufficiently to justify her retiring from the fight, was made capable of
dealing deadly blows at her gigantic antagonists.

The "springs" were cast off, and, with the engines running at full speed
ahead, the _Calder_ again hurled herself into the fray.

CHAPTER XIII--Sefton in Command

By this time the firing had ceased, while, the search-lights of the
German war-ships having been screened, intense darkness brooded over the
scene. The sea was rising rapidly, as if Nature was about to assert her
power over the opposing fleets.

Exposed to the full force of the wind and waves, Sefton stood upon the
remaining portion of the bridge, with his lieutenant-commander reclining
within easy distance.  Crosthwaite had given his subordinate strict
orders to inform him of the moment when the Huns were again sighted.
His wounds mattered little.  Provided his head were cool and his brain
alert the _Calder’s_ skipper meant to miss no part of the next phase of
the scrap.

The destroyer was now steaming in almost the opposite direction to that
by which she had penetrated the enemy line.  She was five or six miles
to leeward of the German ships and possibly three times that distance
from the British main fleet.

Far away to the west’ard came the dull rumble of a furious cannonade.

"Our light cruisers are having a scrap with the Hun destroyers,"
muttered Sefton.  "By Jove, this is a night!"

The sub was correct in his surmise.  Although the British heavy ships
were not attacked during the night, thanks to the screen provided by the
Second Light-cruiser Squadron and several of the destroyer flotillas,
the enemy torpedo-craft were several times in touch with the "fringes of
the fleet".

Darkness played many strange pranks with the combatants, mistakes that
more than once told against the Huns occurring with remarkable

On one occasion a battleship of the "Kaiser" class was observed by the
_Fearless_.  The Hun was entirely isolated, and was steaming at full
speed. The British destroyer was unable to engage her gigantic
antagonist--the two vessels passing in opposite directions at an
aggregate rate of 50 miles an hour.  To launch a torpedo would almost
certainly result in a miss, while it was extremely hazardous for the
_Fearless_ to turn and follow, without colliding with other British
destroyers following much farther astern.  Nor did the German battleship
make any attempt to engage; possibly the _Fearless_ was not visible from
the war-ship’s deck.

Holding on her course, the _Fearless_ warned her consorts by wireless,
and a heavy explosion long after told its own tale.

An even more remarkable incident occurred during the night.  Several
British light cruisers were steaming in line ahead when a severely
mauled German ocean-going torpedo-boat was observed approaching.
Mistaken for one of our destroyers, the two leading cruisers let her
slip past within the distance of a cable’s length.  The third, taking no
risks, suddenly unmasked her search-lights and played them full upon the
stranger.  Caught in the blinding glare, her crew could be seen hard at
work endeavouring to turn a pair of torpedo-tubes abeam--a task of
considerable difficulty owing to the "racer" being damaged.

The British light cruiser saved them the job in a most effectual manner.
Depressing her for’ard 9.2-inch gun, she sent a huge shell at
point-blank range crashing into the light-built hull.


A blinding flash, a huge puff of smoke, and all was over.  The
search-light played upon an expanse of agitated water where, five
seconds before, a German torpedo-craft had been churning on her way.

Meanwhile the _Calder_ held resolutely on her course, ignorant of her
position relative to the enemy fleet, and liable at any moment to "knock
up against" one of the German light cruisers.

Crosthwaite had now resumed command.  His unconquerable determination
had soared above physical injuries.  He was not out for personal kudos.
Actuated solely by a desire to uphold the prestige of the Grand Fleet,
and his own flotilla in particular, he was determined to hurl the
_Calder_ between the hostile lines.  It mattered little that the
destroyer was unsupported--for long since she had lost touch with her
consorts.  Even if none of her officers and crew returned to tell the
tale, he was confident that the craft under his command would play her
part in a manner worthy of the time-honoured traditions of the British

Presently a high dark mass was observed almost ahead and slightly on the
destroyer’s port bow.  It was a hostile battleship.  She was lying
athwart the _Calder’s_ course, with a considerable list to starboard,
and proceeding at a rate of about four knots. Her foremast had been shot
away, and with it the for’ard funnel, which in ships of this class is
close to the mast.  One of her two steel derricks had collapsed, the
curved end trailing over the side. Long gashes in her armoured plates
testified to the accuracy and power of the British gunnery.

Already the torpedoes had been "launched home" into the _Calder’s_ twin
tubes.  In any case the battleship must not be allowed to crawl into
port, even if she should be incapable of repairs for months.

Crosthwaite was about to con the destroyer in order to bring the
torpedo-tubes to bear, when the already stricken battleship gave a
violent lurch, from which she made no attempt at recovery.

Farther and farther she heeled, the rush of water into her hull and the
hiss of escaping air being distinctly audible above the howling of the
wind. Her crew--or, rather, the survivors--could be heard as they leapt
from the steeply inclined decks. There was no need for a torpedo to
administer the _coup de grâce_.

Five minutes later only the battleship’s keel-plates and the tips of the
four propellers remained above the surface, by which time the _Calder_
had left her well astern and was approaching the double lines of hostile
light cruisers, whose indistinct shapes were just beginning to be
visible against the patch of starlight that penetrated a gap in the inky

A sudden blinding glare enveloped the _Calder_, causing her
lieutenant-commander, quartermaster, and helmsman to blink helplessly.
Fairly caught by the rays of half a dozen search-lights, they were
temporarily blinded as effectually as if their eyes had been bandaged
with opaque scarves.

Fortunately Sefton’s back was turned from the direction in which the
destroyer was proceeding. The unmasking of the concentrated rays warned
him.  Shielding his eyes, he turned and made a dash for the steam
steering-gear, the wheel of which the helmsman was still grasping

"Hard-a-port!" shouted the sub.

The man made no attempt to carry out the order, but, slowly bending
forward, collapsed upon the bridge.  A fragment of shell had pierced his

Pushing the body aside, Sefton put the helm hard over, and the
destroyer, screened by an intervening vessel that fortunately did not
make use of her search-lights, entered a darkened patch between the
brilliantly lighted areas on either side.

With her remaining guns spitting defiance at the hostile light cruisers,
and launching her torpedoes immediately a target presented itself, the
destroyer continued her devoted dash.  Projectiles, large and small,
hurtled overhead, while, rapidly hit again and again, she was soon
reduced to a mere wreck.

The German cruisers had a fair and easy mark. Had their gun-layers been
equal to the British, the _Calder_ would have been blown clean out of
the water; but the terrible night had told upon their nerves.  A
wholesome dread of the British destroyers with their deadly torpedoes
was present in their minds.  Not knowing whether the solitary destroyer
was supported by others of the flotilla, they were under the impression
that the _Calder_ was leading a line of swift vessels, and the surmise
was not comforting to the Huns.

In the midst of the tornado of shell one of the _Calder’s_ torpedoes
"got home", ripping open the bottom of a light cruiser and causing an
internal explosion that tore her to pieces.  So close was the destroyer
that the terrific rush of displaced air was distinctly felt, while a
dense cloud of smoke from the sinking cruiser, driving to leeward across
the foam-flecked and shell-sprayed waves, completely enveloped the
little craft that had dealt the successful blow.

"Take her out of action if you can," exclaimed a voice which Sefton
recognized as that of his commanding officer.  "I’m done in, I’m

The cloud of smoke saved the _Calder_ from destruction, for, turning
while still in the midst of the impenetrable pall of vapour, the
destroyer slipped away from the rays of search-lights, and, doubling,
literally staggered in an opposite direction to the one she had been
keeping a minute before.

In vain the German search-lights swept the sea in the supposed position
of the daring destroyer, until, convinced that she had shared the fate
of their lost light cruiser, they screened lights and re-formed line.

Once more, in the pitch-black darkness of the night, Sefton began to
realize the responsibility of his position.  Crosthwaite was now lying
motionless--either he had fainted from loss of blood or else he was
already dead.  In spite of his anxiety on his skipper’s behalf, Sefton
was unable to lift a finger to help him.  The sub was the only one left
standing on the bridge, and whether the bridge was part of a sinking
vessel he knew not.  A strange silence brooded over the _Calder_, broken
occasionally by the moans and groans of wounded men who littered her

Yet Sefton’s instructions were clear up to a certain point.  He had to
take the destroyer out of action.  To all intents this part of his duty
had been carried out.  The _Calder_, in a damaged, perhaps foundering,
condition, was alone on the wild North Sea.

The dark form of a bluejacket clambered up the twisted bridge-ladder,
and, crossing to where Sefton stood, touched his shoulder.

"Where’s the sub-lootenant, mate?" he asked.

"I’m here, Brown," replied the young officer.

"Beg pardon, sir," replied the A.B.  "Couldn’t recognize you in the
darkness.  Thought I’d see if you was all right."

"Thanks," replied Sefton, touched by the man’s devotion.  "How goes it
on deck?"

"A clean sweep, sir," replied Brown.  "A regular wipe-out.  Copped us
proper, the swine.  Both tubes knocked out, after 4-inch blown clean
over the side."

"Do you know if we’re making much water?" asked the sub anxiously, for
the sluggish way in which the destroyer laboured through the water gave
rise to considerable apprehension in that respect.

"Can’t say, sir."

"Then pass the word for the senior petty officer to report to me."

The A.B. hurried off, muttering curiously expressed words of
thanksgiving at his young officer’s escape.  Gratitude had been a
hitherto undeveloped trait in Brown’s nature, until that memorable
occasion when Sefton risked his life, if not exactly to save, to be with
him when he found himself in the "ditch".

Groping for the voice-tube from the bridge to the engine-room, for the
telegraph had disappeared, Sefton attempted to call up the
engineer-lieutenant, but in vain.  This means of communication with the
engine-room was completely interrupted.

It seemed an interminable time before the desired petty officer reported
himself to the bridge.  He was a short, lightly-built man, holding the
rank of gunner’s mate, and was a capable and fairly well-educated
specimen of the lower deck.  Yet, had it been daylight, and he had been
dumped down just as he was in the streets of a naval town, he would have
been promptly run in by the police as a vagrant.  His features were
literally hidden in soot mingled with blood, for a shell had hurled him
face downwards upon a jagged steel grating, which had harrowed his face
in a disfiguring though not dangerous fashion.  His scanty uniform was
in ribbons, and smelt strongly of smouldering embers, while a black
scarf tied tightly round his left leg below the knee failed to stop a
steady trickle from a shrapnel wound.

Briefly and to the point the petty officer made his report.  The
_Calder_ had been hulled in more than twenty places, but only three
holes were betwixt wind and water.  These had already admitted a
considerable quantity of water, but temporary repairs were already in
hand.  The steam-pumps had been damaged, but were capable of being set
right, while the use of the hand-pumps enabled the sorry remnant of the
destroyer’s crew to keep the leaks well under control.

Nevertheless the _Calder_ no longer rose buoyantly to the waves.  A
sullen, listless movement told its own tale.  Not without a grim,
determined struggle would her crew be able successfully to combat the
joint effects of war and rough weather.

On deck most of the fittings had been swept clear.  Of the funnel only
seven feet of jagged stump remained.  The rest had vanished.  Both masts
had been shot away close to the deck.  Of the conning-tower only the
base was left; the rest had been blown away almost with the last shell
fired at point-blank range.  The _Calder’s_ raised fo’c’sle no longer
existed.  From two feet close to the water-line at the stem, and rising
obliquely to the foot of the bridge, there was nothing left but an
inclined plane of bent and perforated steel plates.

"Our own mother wouldn’t know us, sir," concluded the petty officer.

"Let us hope she’ll have the chance," rejoined Sefton, wondering whether
it was humanly possible once more to bring the crippled vessel alongside
her parent ship, or whether the _Calder_ would again berth alongside the
jetty at far-off Rosyth.

The arrival of half a dozen men enabled Sefton to have the commanding
officer removed below. Anxiously the sub awaited Stirling’s verdict.
The report was long in coming, but the doctor’s hands were full to
overflowing.  During that terrible night many a man owed his life, under
Providence, to the administrations of the young medico. Indifferent to
his own peril, although the crippled destroyer was straining badly in
the heavy seas, Pills toiled like a galley-slave in the semi-darkness,
for the electric light had failed, and the temporary operating-room,
crowded with ghastly cases, was illuminated only by the glimmer of three

"That you, Pills?" enquired Sefton anxiously, as an officer,
distinguishable only by his uniform cap stuck at a comical angle on the
top of his head, clambered upon the bridge.

"No--Boxspanner," replied that worthy.  "At least what’s left of him.
Where’s the skipper?"

"Knocked out."

"Done in?"

Sefton shook his head.

"Don’t know," he replied.  "Pills has him in hand.  In any case he’s got
it pretty badly.  Well, how goes it?"

"Can’t get more’n five knots out of the engines," replied the
engineer-lieutenant.  "Port engine-room reduced to scrap.  There was
three feet of water in the stokeholds, but it’s subsiding, thank
goodness!  Deuce of a mess when the lights went out.  Stumbled over a
man and banged my head. It feels like a blister on the tyre of a
car--liable to burst at any moment, don’t you know.  The fellow strafed
me for treading on him.  Asked him what the deuce he was lying there
for, since he had wind enough to kick up a row.  What do you think he
was up to?"

"Can’t say," replied Sefton.

"Plugging a shot-hole with his bare back.  Had his shoulder wedged
against the gash.  He’d been like that for twenty minutes--and he’d lost
three fingers of the right hand."

"You’ll have to make a special report," remarked the sub.

"A special report of every man of my department you mean!" exclaimed
Boxspanner enthusiastically. "By Jove!  If you could have seen them----"

The arrival of the doctor cut short the engineer-lieutenant’s eulogies.

"Just up for a breather," gasped Stirling. "Thought I’d let you know how
things are going in my line.  A bit stiff our butcher’s bill.  The
skipper’s pretty rough.  Took a wicked-looking chunk of high-explosive
shell out of his forehead. I’ve had the deuce of a job to stop the flow
of arterial blood from a gash in his leg.  He’ll pull through.  He’s as
hard as nails."

"That’s good," said Sefton and Boxspanner in one breath.

"Talking of nails," continued Stirling, "I’ve just had a rum
case--Thompson, the leading signalman.  Took fifty pieces of metal from
his hide. The poor wretch couldn’t sit down, although the wounds were
light.  Those strafed Huns had crammed one of their shrapnel-shells with
gramophone needles.  Fact!  I’m not joking!  I suppose they haven’t the
heart for any more music, so they made us a present of the needles.  How
much longer to daybreak?"

"About a quarter to three, Greenwich time," replied Sefton.  "I haven’t
a watch."

He did not think it necessary to explain that his wristlet watch had
been ripped from its strap by a flying fragment of shell.  He was
becoming painfully aware of the circumstance, for every movement of his
wrist gave him a sharp pain.

Boxspanner crossed over to the temporary binnacle--one removed from the
wreckage of one of the boats--for the destroyer’s standard compass had
gone the way of the majority of the deck-fittings, while the
gyro-compass, placed in the safest part of the vessel, had been
dismounted by the bursting of a shell.

"It’s only a quarter past eleven," he announced dolorously, as he
consulted his watch by the feeble light of the binnacle.

"Rot!" ejaculated the doctor.  "It was midnight when we went into

The engineer-lieutenant made a second examination. The glass of the
watch had been completely broken; not even a fragment remained.  The
hands had gone, while across the dial were two cracks in such positions
that they had misled Boxspanner into the belief that they were the
hands.  Yet, on holding the timepiece to his ear and listening
intently--for like the rest of the _Calder’s_ complement he was
temporarily deafened from the result of the violent gun-fire--he found
that the watch was still going.

"It’s getting light already," observed Stirling, pointing to a
pale-reddish hue in the north-eastern sky.  "Well, I must away.  More
patching and mending demand my modest attention."

Slowly the dawn broke, a crimson glow betwixt the dark, scudding masses
of clouds betokening a continuance of the hard blow, and plenty of it.
With the rising sea the task of the _Calder’s_ crew increased tenfold.
Anxiously the horizon was swept in the hope of a friendly vessel being
sighted, but the sky-line was unbroken.  The tide of battle, if the
action were still being maintained, had rolled away beyond sight and
hearing of the little band of heroes who so worthily maintained the
prestige of the White Ensign.

CHAPTER XIV--Out of the Fight

With the pumps ejecting copious streams of water the damaged _Calder_
held gamely on her way, daylight adding to the horrors of the aftermath
of battle.  The hull echoed to the clanging of the artificers’ hammers
and the dull thud of the caulkers’ mallets as the undaunted and tireless
men proceeded with the work of stopping leaks.  On deck steps were being
taken to clear away the debris, and to set up a pair of temporary
funnels of sufficient height to carry the smoke clear of the side.  The
sole remaining gun was overhauled and again made fit for action in case
of necessity.  Although not anxious to fall in with a U boat or a stray
Zeppelin, the _Calder’s_ crew were determined to take every precaution
to keep the tattered ensign still flying from the temporary staff set up

For another hour the destroyer crawled on her long journey towards the
cliff-bound shores of Britain.  Then Sefton issued an order which was
repeated aft and down below.  The engines were stopped, the remnants of
the crew mustered aft, and the battle-scarred pieces of bunting lowered
to half-mast.

The _Calder’s_ crew were about to pay their last homage to those of
their comrades who had gallantly laid down their lives for king and

Fifteen hammock-enshrouded forms lay motionless at the after end of the
deck.  Bare-headed their messmates stood in silence as Sefton, with a
peculiar catch in his usually firm voice, read the prayer appointed for
the burial of those at sea.  Then into the foam-flecked waves, the
bodies of those conquerors even in death were consigned, to find an
undisturbed resting-place fathoms deep on the bed of the North Sea.

It was no time for melancholy.  At the word "Dismiss" the men trooped
for’ard, for there was plenty of work to do, and, in the navy
especially, hard but necessary work is rightly considered one of the
best antidotes for grief.

Snatching at the opportunity to visit his chief, Sefton hurried below to
the shattered ward-room, where Crosthwaite lay on a mattress that smelt
abominably of cordite and the lingering odours of poison-gas.  The
lieutenant-commander had by this time recovered consciousness, and
greeted Sefton with a bad attempt at a smile.

"We’ve kept our end up," he said feebly. "Think you’ll get the old ship
back to port?"

"I trust so," said the sub guardedly.  "I’ll do my level best."

"I know," assented Crosthwaite.  "Still, you’ve a stiff job.  I’ll be on
the bridge in another half an hour and give you a spell."

Sefton said nothing.  He realized that many hours--nay, days--would pass
before his chief would again assume command.  Crosthwaite was quick to
notice his subordinate’s silence.

"Suppose I’ve had it pretty badly," he admitted reluctantly.  "It was a
rotten business getting knocked out at the critical time."

"Nothing much happened after that," explained Sefton.  "We were out of
it within twenty seconds from the time you were hit."

"Man alive!" protested Crosthwaite.  "You’re altogether wrong.  For
nearly ten minutes I was lying there quite conscious and watching you.
You’re a plucky fellow, old man."

Before Sefton could reply he was called away. A Zeppelin had been
sighted, flying in the direction of the badly mauled _Calder_.

Quickly the remaining gun was manned.  Although not intended for aerial
work, modification to the original mounting permitted it to be trained
within ten degrees of the perpendicular, supplementary sights having
been fitted to enable it to be laid while at extreme elevation.

The air-ship was still four miles off, and flying at an altitude of
about 2000 feet.  Apparently undamaged, it was proceeding at a rapid
pace against the wind.

Deprived of the advantage of speed and manoeuvring powers, the destroyer
would fall an easy prey to the Zeppelin’s bombs unless the _Calder_
could make good use of her solitary 4-inch quick-firer. The weapon was
loaded and trained abeam, the gun’s crew being ordered to take cover,
and thus give the destroyer the appearance of being incapable of

Sefton made no attempt to alter helm.  He had made up his mind to wait
until the huge target came within easy range.  He knew that the _Calder_
was under observation, and that the Germans were trying to ascertain the
nature of the destroyer’s injuries.  Should they come to the conclusion
that the slowly-moving British craft was powerless of doing damage they
would not be likely to waste ballast in ascending to a safe altitude and
a corresponding loss of hydrogen in descending after the attack.

Nearer and nearer came the huge air-ship, her bows steadily pointing in
the direction of the destroyer.  Range-finder in hand, Sefton curbed his
impatience.  Not until the Zeppelin bore at a distance of 2500 yards did
he order the gun’s crew to their stations.

With a vicious spurt of flame and a sharp, resounding detonation the
4-inch sent a shell hurtling through the air.  Admirably timed, it burst
apparently close to the silvery-grey envelope.  Almost instantly a huge
cloud of black and yellow smoke shot from the Zeppelin.

A rousing cheer burst from the throats of the British seamen.  The cheer
was taken up by the wounded heroes down below, who, having heard in some
mysterious manner of the air-ship’s approach, were waiting the issue of
events with mingled confidence and regret that they themselves were
unable to assist in "strafing the sausage".

The cheers literally froze on the lips of the men on deck, for when the
smoke cleared away the Zeppelin was a mere speck, 10,000 feet in the
air. Under cover of a discharge of smoke she had dropped a large
quantity of ballast and had shot vertically upwards to a safe altitude.

The Hun in command had received orders not to attack unless he could do
so without risk, the Zeppelin being specially detailed for observation
work.  With a range of visibility of fifty or sixty miles she was of far
more service to the discomfited German High Seas Fleet in warning them
of the position of their victors than in strafing a solitary destroyer.

With solid water sweeping her fore and aft, the _Calder_ still struggled
on her course, steered by the hand-operated gear in conjunction with the
inefficient boat’s compass.  Hitherto the leaks had been kept under, but
now the water was making its way in through the shattered fore-deck.

Reluctantly Sefton came to the conclusion that he would have to give the
order "abandon ship" before many minutes had passed.  Already the
knowledge that the old _Calder_ was slowly foundering had become
general, yet there was no panic.

Calmly some of the men began to collect all the buoyant materials they
could lay their hands upon for the purpose of constructing rafts, since
there were no boats left.  Others stuck gamely to the task of manning
the pumps, while the wounded were carried on deck in order to give them
a chance of getting clear of the sinking ship.

At seven in the morning a vessel was sighted to the west’ard proceeding
in a nor’-easterly direction. After a few minutes of anxious doubt as to
her nationality, she proved to be a Danish trawler--unless the national
colours painted on her sides and the distinguishing numbers on her sails
were disguises.

Altering her course, the trawler bore down upon the _Calder_ and slowed
down within hailing distance to leeward.

"Come you all aboard," shouted the Danish skipper, a tall,
broad-shouldered descendant of a Viking forbear.  "We save you.  Plenty
room for all."

"We don’t want to abandon ship yet," replied Sefton.  "We may weather it

"An’ I think that you answer so," rejoined the skipper.  "You British
seamans brave mans. Englishmans goot; Danes goot; Germans no goot. Me
stand by an’ ’elp."

"Seen anything of the battle?" enquired the sub.

The Danish skipper nodded his head emphatically.

"Germans run for port as if Satan after them," he declared; then,
realizing that he had paid the Huns a compliment, he hastened to add:
"No, no; Germans too fond of wickedness to run from Satan--it is from
the English that they run.  Ships sunk everywhere, dead men float by
thousands: we no fish for months in these waters."

This was the first intimation that the _Calder’s_ crew received of
Jellicoe’s failure to combine annihilation with victory.  Victory it
undoubtedly was; but, although the Grand Fleet had succeeded in getting
between the enemy and his North Sea bases, the Huns, favoured by
darkness and fog, had contrived to elude the toils, and were skeltering
for safety with a haste bordering upon panic. Jellicoe and Beatty had
done everything that courage and science could devise.  They had
inflicted far greater losses on the Huns than the latter did upon us.
And, what is more, the British fleet "held the lists", while the
boastful Germans, crowding into Wilhelmshaven and other ports, spent
their time in spreading lying reports of their colossal victory over the
hated English.

"You no look surprise at the news," continued the master of the Danish
trawler.  "Me think you cheer like mad."

"Of course, we’re glad," replied Sefton, "but it is not quite what we
expected, you know.  We’re sorry that the enemy got away."

"Me, too," agreed the Dane.  "Germany treat little Denmark badly.  She
bully; we cannot do anything.  Shall we run alongside an’ take you and
your crew off?"

Sefton gave a glance to windward.  It seemed as if the seas were
moderating.  His reluctance to abandon ship increased.  The _Calder_ had
played her part, and it seemed base ingratitude to leave her to founder.


"I don’t think she’s settling down any further, sir," replied one of the
carpenter’s crew in answer to the sub’s question.  "Bulkheads are
holding well."

"Then we’ll carry on," declared the sub, and, warmly thanking the Dane
for his humanity, he courteously declined the offer of assistance.

"Goot luck, then!" replied the skipper of the trawler as he thrust the
wheel hard over and ordered easy ahead.  Yet not for another hour did he
part company.  Keeping at a discreet distance from the labouring
destroyer, he remained until, the sea having moderated, and the _Calder_
showing no further signs of distress, he came to the conclusion that the
battered British craft stood a fair chance of making port.

For the next couple of hours the _Calder_ was continually passing
wreckage, scorched and shattered woodwork testifying to the devastating
effect of modern explosives.  The destroyer was passing over the scene
of one of the many isolated engagements that composed the memorable
battle and certain British victory of Jutland.

"A boat or a raft of sorts, sir," reported a seaman, pointing to a
floating object a couple of miles away, and slightly on the _Calder’s_
starboard bow.

Sefton brought his binoculars to bear upon the objects indicated by the
look-out.  At regular intervals, as it rose on the crests of the waves,
a large raft known, after its inventor, as the "Carley" was visible.  An
exaggerated lifebuoy, with a "sparred" platform so arranged that in the
event of the appliance being completely overset the "deck" would still
be available, the "Carley" has undoubtedly proved its value in the
present war. Practically indestructible, not easily set on fire by
shells, and with an almost inexhaustible reserve of buoyancy, the raft
is capable of supporting twenty men with ease.

Slowly the _Calder_ approached the life-buoy.  She was doing a bare 3
knots; while, able to use only one propeller, she was hard on her helm.

"Wot are they--strafed ’Uns or some of our blokes?" enquired an ordinary
seaman of his "raggie"; for, although the men on the raft were now
clearly visible, their almost total absence of clothing made it
impossible to determine their nationality.

"Dunno, mate," replied his chum.  "’Uns, perhaps; they don’t seem in no
’urry to see us."

"’Uns or no ’Uns," rejoined the first speaker, "skipper’s goin’ to pull
’em out of the ditch, if it’s only to show ’em that we ain’t like them U
boat pirates."

"Strikes me they’re pretty well done in," chimed in another.  "There’s
not one of ’em as has the strength of a steerage rat."

Huddled on the raft were fifteen almost naked human beings.  Some were
roughly bandaged. All were blackened by smoke and scorched by exposure
to the sun and salt air.  Another half-dozen were in the water,
supporting themselves by one hand grasping the life-lines of the raft.

By this time they had observed the _Calder’s_ approach; but, content
that they had been seen, the exhausted men engaged in no demonstration
of welcome.  They sat listlessly, with their salt-rimmed eyes fixed upon
their rescuers.

At a great risk of crushing the men in the water, the destroyer closed.
The "Carley" was secured and brought alongside, and the work of
transferring the survivors commenced.  Without assistance the majority
would never have been able to gain the _Calder’s_ deck, so pitiful was
their condition owing to a night’s exposure to the cold.

They were British seamen, but Sefton forbore to question them until they
had received attention from the hard-worked Dr. Stirling, and been
supplied with food and drink from the already sadly-depleted stores.

When the men had recovered sufficiently to relate their adventures, they
told a typical story of British pluck and heroism.  They were part of
the crew of the destroyer _Velocity_, and had taken part in a night
attack upon von Hipper’s squadron.

In the midst of the mêlée a hostile light cruiser, tearing at 27 knots,
rammed the _Velocity_, cutting her completely in twain just abaft the
after engine-room bulkhead.  Swallowed up in the darkness, the stern
portion of the destroyer floated for nearly ten minutes before it
foundered.  Of what happened to the remaining and larger part of the
vessel the survivors had no definite knowledge, although some were under
the impression that it was towed away under fire by another destroyer.

Left with sufficient time to cut away a "Carley", the remnant of the
_Velocity’s_ crew found themselves adrift, with the still engaging
vessels steaming farther and farther away.

Without food and almost destitute of clothing, for in anticipation of a
swim the men had taken off the remainder of their already scanty
"fighting-kit", their position was a precarious one.  The rising seas
threatened to sweep them from the over-crowded raft, while the bitterly
cold night air numbed their limbs.  Yet, with the characteristic
light-heartedness of the British tar, the men passed the time in singing
rousing choruses, even the wounded joining in.

At daybreak they were pretty well exhausted. No vessel was in sight.
They were without food and water, and unable to take any steps to propel
their unwieldy, heavily-laden raft in any direction.

Presently a large German battle-cruiser loomed through the mist.  The
Huns must have had a bad attack of nerves, for, contrary to all the
dictates of humanity, they let fly a dozen quick-firers at the raft.
Possibly they mistook the low-lying object for a submarine.  Fortunately
the shells flew wide.

Then, to the surprise of the remnant of the )Velocity’s* crew, the
German ship suddenly heaved her bows clear of the water and disappeared
in a great smother of foam and a cloud of smoke.

A rousing cheer--it is wonderful how much sound men can give vent to
even when almost dead through exhaustion--hailed this unexpected
deliverance from one of many perils, and the seamen settled themselves
to resume their prolonged discomforts, buoyed up by the unshaken hope
that a British vessel would bear down to their assistance.

It was indeed remarkable how quickly most of the _Velocity’s_ men
regained their spirits after being received on board the _Calder_.

One, in particular, was displaying acute anxiety as to the condition of
a bundle of one-pound notes, which, sodden with sea-water, he had
carefully removed from the pouch of his solitary garment--a body-belt.
Amidst a fire of good-natured chaff, the man spread his precious
belongings out to dry--an almost impossible task owing to the showers of
spray--until, taken compassion upon by a sympathetic stoker, he went
below to the stokehold and successfully completed the delicate

Another survivor stuck gamely to a wooden tobacco-box.  His messmates
knew the secret, but, when questioned by the _Calder’s_ men, he
cautiously opened the lid, displaying a couple of white rats. Before
going into action, the man, having doubts as to the safety of his pets
in the fo’c’sle, had stealthily removed them aft, placing the box in the
officers’ pantry.  When the _Velocity_ was rammed he did not forget his
dumb friends.  At the risk of his life, he went below and secured the
box. Throughout the long night he kept the animals dry, only
surrendering them to his chums when his turn came to leap overboard and
lighten the already overcrowded life-buoy.

The rest of the day passed almost without incident. Food was running
short, for, in spite of the sadly depleted number of the _Calder’s_
crew, there was barely another day’s provisions left on board that had
not been spoiled by fire and water.  In addition, the augmentation of
the ship’s company by the rescued crew made the shortage still more

Just as night was coming on a petty officer approached Sefton and

"For’ard bulkhead’s giving, sir," he reported, as coolly as if he were
announcing a most trivial occurrence.  "There’s four feet of water in
the for’ard stokehold."

The safety of the _Calder_ and her crew depended upon that transverse
wall of steel.  Once this bulkhead yielded to the terrific pressure of
water, no human ingenuity and resource could save the battered destroyer
from plunging to the bed of the North Sea.

CHAPTER XV--A Day of Suspense

"Confound the wretched thing, Sefton!" exclaimed Major-General
Crosthwaite explosively.

"I hereby confound it!" said his companion with grim solemnity.  "I’ll
do anything you like, provided you don’t ask me to evacuate this
luxurious cushion and push."

"Now if I had my chauffeur here----" began the General, then, realizing
that his duty to his country had necessitated the release of the man for
military service, he held his peace on that point, only to break out in
another direction.

"It’s that horrible concoction that is sold as petrol," he remarked with
an air of profound wisdom.  "Sixty per cent paraffin and ten per cent
water.  Nine o’clock in the evening, miles from anywhere, and the
idiotic car as obstinate as a mule."

Dick’s father, enjoying a hard-earned fortnight’s leave after a
strenuous time at the front, had performed what he would have considered
a desperate task in pre-war days.  He had actually driven his own
motor--a twenty-horse-power touring-car--from Shropshire to Southampton.
Luck, in the shape of complete immunity from tyre troubles and the two
thousand odd things that might go wrong with a car, had hitherto
favoured him.  Whereat he became conceited with his powers as a
motorist; but it was pride before a fall, and Major-General Crosthwaite
found himself stranded with his three companions somewhere in the
vicinity of the little Wiltshire town of Malmesbury.

The eldest of the three passengers was Admiral Trefusis Sefton, K.C.B.
(retired), whose son Jack was at that very moment engaged upon his
desperate venture of bringing the crippled _Calder_ across the North
Sea.  Residing near Southampton, he had accepted Crosthwaite Senior’s
invitation to spend a long week-end at the latter’s house near
Bridgnorth, and the Major-General thought it was a good opportunity for
having a motor-tour by fetching his guest from the south of England.

"I’ll take young George with me," wrote the Major-General, "and there
will be room in the car for Leslie.  They can’t get into worse mischief
than if they were left at home, and one will be company for the other."

So George Crosthwaite accompanied his father from Bridgnorth to
Southampton.  Shrewdly the fifteen-year old lad suspected that the
primary object of his sire was to let his son see what an expert driver
Crosthwaite Senior had become.

Leslie Sefton, also aged fifteen, jumped at the invitation, and, in
spite of various and oft-repeated warnings from his parent not to
skylark, his exuberant spirits formed a sympathetic counterpart to those
of young George Crosthwaite.

Declining his son’s offer of expert advice and assistance, the general
divested himself of his coat, rolled up his shirt sleeves, inserted his
monocle in his eye, and spent four precious minutes in deep
contemplation of the stationary car.  Then he applied rudimentary tests
to half a dozen different parts without locating the trouble, while the
admiral placidly smoked a choice cigar and meditated upon the pleasing
fact that he had never succumbed to the motor craze.

George and Leslie, seated on a bank by the roadside, were discussing the
merits and demerits of various types of aeroplanes when the former’s
parent interrupted the pleasant discussion.



"I want you to go into Malmesbury and get them to send a car to tow us

Young Crosthwaite, unlike either of the two sons in the parable,
prepared to obey.  "Obey orders at the double" had been dinned into his
head from time immemorial.  On one occasion when the colonel--as he was
then--was entertaining a high War Office official, George, in his
alacrity to carry out his parent’s behests, collided with the portly
butler bearing a heavily-laden tray.  But the culprit’s plea that he was
fulfilling the oft-reiterated order calmed the colonel’s inward wrath
(he dared not "let himself go" just then) and earned a substantial tip
from the highly-amused guest.

"Coming?" asked George laconically, addressing his chum.

"Rather," was the reply.

George threw his greatcoat into the car.  As he did so, his sharp eyes
caught sight of a tap that was turned off when it should have been
turned on.

Deftly he depressed the little lever, and, somewhat to his parent’s
surprise, "tickled" the carburetter.

"It’s no use doing that," said the discomfited motorist.  "Hurry up and
be off.  We’ll be stranded here all night if you don’t bestir yourself."

Crosthwaite Senior’s astonishment increased when the dutiful George
climbed into the car and released the self-starter.  The motor fired
without a hitch.

"By Jove!" ejaculated George’s parent, too delighted to think of
thanking his son.  "However did you manage it?"

"Only turned the petrol on," replied George calmly.

"Have you been playing any tricks----?" began the general, then resolved
to repeat the question at a more favourable private opportunity.  "Jump
in, Sefton; we’ve wasted an hour already.  Might have been in Gloucester
by this time.  ’Fraid we’d better put up in Malmesbury to-night."

On the lowest gear, the car crawled slowly up the stiff gradient leading
to the little town, and pulled up outside an ivy-clad inn within a
stone’s throw of the imposing ruins of the abbey.

"Any news to-night, I wonder?" enquired the general as the four sat down
to a substantial supper. "Suppose there’s no chance of a late paper in
this out-of-the-way spot?"

"’Fraid not," replied the admiral.  "You see, it is on a branch line.
Decent weather, eh?"

"Not so bad for our men in the North Sea," remarked Crosthwaite
complacently.  "They’ve had a long, rotten winter, although Dick never
complains on that score.  Must be quite yachty weather, I should
imagine," he added, with the memories of a certain pleasure cruise to
the Baltic in June flashing across his mind.

He picked up a morning paper from a settee and glanced at it.  He had
read the selfsame news fourteen hours previously.  Yet a paragraph had
hitherto escaped his notice.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed.

"What’s that?" enquired the admiral.

"Suppose, after all, it’s nothing much," observed General Crosthwaite.
"Masters of neutral steamers arriving at Danish ports state that they
sighted numerous wrecks and hundreds of floating corpses. Another Reuter
yarn, I take it."

"More U-boat frightfulness perhaps," hazarded Admiral Sefton.

And yet the report was a mild form of paving the way towards the
announcement of the Jutland battle.  This was on Friday.  Already
Germany had claimed a glorious and colossal naval victory, and the
tardiness of the British Government in giving the lie direct to the
boastful Hunnish claims gave, at least temporarily, a severe shock to
neutrals’ belief in the invincibility of Britain’s sea power.  Already
American pro-German papers had appeared with highly coloured accounts of
Great Britain’s crushing naval disaster; cartoons depicting John Bull’s
consternation at the return of the battered British lion with a badly
twisted tail spoke volumes for the incontestable superiority of the
German navy.

Happily ignorant of the disquieting rumours, and, indeed, of any
knowledge of the naval action, the motorists slept soundly until eight
on the following morning.

"Another fine day," declared Crosthwaite Senior at breakfast.  "We ought
to be home by three in the afternoon.  Any papers yet?" he enquired of
the waiter.

"No, sir, not until eleven," was the reply.

"Must wait until we get to Gloucester, I suppose," grunted the general.
"One of the penalties for stopping at a place on a branch line."

"A fine little place, Pater," remarked George. "Absolutely top-hole.
Wish we were staying here.  There’s an awfully decent stream down
there--looks just the place for fishing."

"Can’t beat the Severn for that, my boy," declared his father, loyal to
his native town and the river that flows past its site.  "Buck up, my
boy, and finish the packing.  I want to see that that petrol-tank is
properly filled--no unsealed cans, remember."

George Crosthwaite was really a useful assistant to his parent.
Crosthwaite Senior frankly recognized the fact, but forbore from giving
his son, personally, due credit, avowing that it was bad for discipline
to be lavish with praise.

"Smart youngster, Sefton, my boy," he declared in proud confidence to
the admiral.  "He has his head screwed on the right way, although I
suppose I ought not to brag about it.  Have to be careful, though, that
he doesn’t kick over the traces just yet."

It was nearly nine before the car was ready to resume its journey.  In
high spirits, for the bracing air and bright sunshine made a perfect
day, the party set off.

Major-General Crosthwaite started at a strictly moderate pace.  He
invariably did; but it was always noticeable that, before he had covered
many miles, he accelerated the speed until it reached a reckless pace
bordering on fifty miles an hour. Towards the end of his day’s journey,
he would develop a speed that caused his sedate passengers to quake with
apprehension, and his youthful ones to revel in the terrific rush
through the air.

Twenty minutes after leaving Malmesbury the car, now running splendidly,
bounded up the steep ascent into old-world Tetbury.  Here, taking a
wrong turning, the motorists had to retrace their way, Crosthwaite
Senior slowing down in order to avoid a similar mistake.

Presently Leslie caught sight of a placard displayed outside a
news-agent’s shop.  In flaring red letters were the words: "Big Naval
Action in the North Sea".

Leaning over the seat he gripped his father’s arm.  By this time the car
was well beyond the shop.

"What’s wrong?" bawled the admiral, for the wind-screen had been lowered
and the breeze was whistling past his ears.

"Big scrap in the North Sea--it’s on the placards," replied his son,

"Heave-to, Crosthwaite!" exclaimed Admiral Sefton.  "Stop here!"

The driver, imagining that something was amiss, and that he had
unknowingly run over something, applied his emergency brakes, bringing
up his car all standing and at a grave risk to the tyres. Leslie, taken
unawares, shot forward, "ramming" his parent in the small of the back
with his head and forcing the admiral against the dash-board.

"What the----!" began the astonished Crosthwaite Senior.

Almost unconscious of the rough treatment by his son, Admiral Sefton
descended from the car. Already George had executed a flying leap, and
was running towards the news-agent’s shop.

Returning with a handful of papers he met the admiral half-way.

"It’s ’The Day’, sir!" he exclaimed, confident in the belief that the
long-expected struggle for naval supremacy had been settled once and for
all in Britain’s favour.

Admiral Sefton grabbed the proffered paper with super-energy, almost
tearing the flimsy fabric with his powerful fingers as he fumbled with
the recalcitrant leaves.

Then the look of eager expectancy faded from his face, giving place to a
dull, strained expression of incredulity.

"Come along, Sefton!" sang out Crosthwaite Senior.  "Don’t be greedy
with the good news. Why, man----"

"We’ve got it properly in the neck, Pater," announced his son.
"Fourteen of ours, including the _Queen Mary_, sunk."

"But the enemy--the German losses are heavier than ours?" enquired the
general, snatching at the paper George was holding.

The two officers scanned the official report. "Owing to low
visibility"--was ever an Admiralty dispatch issued with such halting
excuses?  A straightforward admission of our losses, it is true, but
nothing to suggest that the Germans had incurred similar or heavier
casualties, or even that the British navy had gained the day.  And then
there was the perplexing statement that the Germans had rescued a number
of British seamen, and no corresponding report to the effect that we had
saved any of theirs.  Everything pointed to a running fight in which the
Huns were the pursuers.

Admiral Sefton was dumbfounded.  Had there been a convenient wall, he
might have turned his face towards it and groaned in spirit.  Instead he
set his jaw tightly and thought hard.

"What do you make of it?" enquired the general. "Looks bad on the face
of it, eh?"

"We must wait for further details," was his companion’s guarded reply.
The journey was resumed, but all the joy had vanished from the minds of
the party.  No longer, the beautiful scenery appealed to them; the
crisp, bracing air and brilliant sunshine called in vain.

Down the steep "hairpin" road through Nailsworth, and along one of the
prettiest valleys of the Cotswolds, the car literally crawled.  General
Crosthwaite, contrary to his usual practice, was driving slowly and
listlessly.  His keen zest had disappeared.  As he gripped the
steering-wheel he thought deeply, remembering that his son was somewhere
out there in the trackless, mine-strewn North Sea.

The admiral, too, was meditating.  He would dearly have liked to have
paced to and fro, with his hands clasped behind his back in true
quarter-deck style; but since the limits of the car made such a
proceeding impossible, and it was equally difficult to alight unless the
car stopped, he "sat tight" and made a mental review of the battle,
constructing his theories upon the slender foundations conveyed in the
official report.

Gradually his perplexities vanished.  The firm belief in the well-being
of the navy that had gripped his mind ever since those long-past
_Britannia_ days was not to be shattered by a disquieting and obviously
incomplete report, even though it bore Admiralty endorsement.

"Hang it all!" he exclaimed, startling his friend by bawling into
Crosthwaite Senior’s ear. "Hanged if I’ll go by that report.  Just you
wait, my dear fellow, until supplementary information is forthcoming.
It’s my belief the Admiralty have something up their sleeve, and that
we’ve won hands down."

"You think so?" asked the general eagerly.

"Think so!  I know it," was the now decided reply.  "Carry on,
Crosthwaite, full-speed ahead, and we’ll see what news there is when we
get to Gloucester."

"Hope you’re right," thought the army officer. Visions of a previous
naval disaster--that of the gallant Craddock’s defeat off Coronel, the
first news of which came from German sources--urged that such a thing as
a naval defeat might be possible, especially in view of the great part
played by chance. A misunderstood order might result in disaster. A
chance shot or an accidental internal explosion might imperil the
superiority of the British fleet.

But there was always the dominating factor--men, not ships, win battles.
The British seaman, with the glorious traditions of centuries behind
him, is in every way superior to the brute who mans the fleet of the
Black Cross Ensign.

Then the general found himself mentally kicking himself for not sharing
in the admiral’s optimism.

"Sefton’s right," he concluded.  "When we get more news we’ll find that
all’s well."

At Gloucester the admiral sent off a telegram, bought four different
papers, scanned the bulletins in the windows of the publishing offices,
and found himself little wiser than before; but at Worcester, where the
motorists stopped for lunch, they found the outlook much brighter.

Steps had already been taken to counteract the depressing effects of the
preliminary official announcement of the Battle of Jutland.  The loss of
the _Warspite_ and _Marlborough_, both ships having been claimed as sunk
by the Germans, was categorically denied, and a statement of the British
vessels, known to be sunk, given.  Enemy ships, aggregating in tonnage
more than that of our losses, were claimed only when definite reports of
their fate were received, from which it was now evident that, far from
being a German victory, the honours rested with the fleet under
Jellicoe’s command.

At the post office Admiral Sefton obtained a wire, sent in reply to his
telegram from Gloucester.  It was from an old shipmate, now holding an
appointment at Whitehall, and was as follows:--

"Vessel in question has not returned to base."

Without a word the admiral handed the buff paper to his friend.  Hardly
a muscle of Crosthwaite Senior’s weather-beaten face moved as he read
the momentous but indefinite news, although the "vessel in question" was
the T.B.D. _Calder_, and both men had similar personal interests in the

For the moment private considerations held supreme sway.  The two men
mutually extended their right hands and exchanged sympathetic grips.

"If they are knocked out, it was in the thick of the scrap," declared
General Crosthwaite.  "I’ll stake my all upon that."

"_Dulce et_----" began the admiral, then, coming to the conclusion that
he was a trifle premature, he exclaimed: "Dash it all, Crosthwaite,
strange things happen at sea!  They may turn up after all."

"It’s the suspense," added Crosthwaite.  "Look here, I’ll take the car
right slap on to Edinburgh, and go on to Rosyth.  Are you game?"

"Carry on," said Admiral Sefton.  "I’m with you."

CHAPTER XVI--The Struggle in the Mountain Pass

Near the summit of Blackstone Edge, an unfrequented road running at a
height of between 1200 and 1300 feet over the serrated Pennine Hills,
five men were lying upon the short, dark-green grass in a slight hollow
within ten yards of the highway. There was little about their appearance
that demanded attention.  A casual observer might in pardonable error
have taken them for a party of Lancashire mill operatives out for a
day’s enjoyment.

At intervals one of the party would roll over on his side, produce a
pair of prismatic glasses from his pocket, and peer with considerable
caution over the ridge of the hollow, focusing the binoculars upon the
winding ribbon-like "slag" road that ascended steeply from the town of
Rochdale, the factory chimneys of which were just discernible through
the murky Lancashire atmosphere.  Then, with a guttural grunt that
betokened disappointment, he would replace the glasses and relapse into
a stolid contemplation of his silent comrades.  The hot sun pouring
pitilessly upon the heavily-clad men did not tend to improve their
physical comfort.  Several times they cursed the tormenting flies,
expressing their murmured epithets in the German tongue.

At last one of the men spoke.

"Are you sure that he is coming this way, Hans?" he asked, addressing
the man with the binoculars.  "Perhaps he has taken it into his head to
take the other road--the Stanedge Pass, it is called."

"These Englishmen are so pig-headed that they rarely change their
minds," replied Hans.  "It is often as well that they do not.  I have it
on excellent authority that he leaves Liverpool at nine, addresses a
conference at Bolton at eleven, and receives a deputation at Rochdale at
two.  Now, is it conceivable that he would go a roundabout way to
Halifax when this is the shortest and easiest route?"

"He may take the railway train," suggested another of the band, as he
shifted an automatic pistol from his hip pocket, where it seriously
interfered with his ease, to his breast coat pocket.

"Knowing our man as I do," declared Hans, "I do not think it likely,
unless his motor breaks down over these atrocious cobbled roads.  No, I
think we are soon to meet our expected visitor. Now, are you all
thoroughly acquainted with your duties?  There must be no failure.  Even
partial success is not sufficient.  Complete obliteration of the man, a
final disappearance, is what is required, and what must be

A resolute chorus of assent rose from the four subordinates.  Their
leader, levelling his binoculars, studied the road for the twentieth

The five were members of a German Secret Service agency.  Provided with
registration cards, obtained with the greatest ease, since no attempt
had been made to verify the particulars demanded by law; speaking
English with a flawless Lancashire accent, members of a trade union, and
fully conversant with the peculiarities of industrial life, the men were
able to carry on their nefarious scheme with little risk of detection.

After a run of minor activities, an opportunity was about to occur
whereby they might render an important service to the Fatherland.  A
high official was engaged upon an industrial tour of Lancashire and
Yorkshire, with the intention of increasing the already huge output of
munitions from the factories temporarily given over to the production of
war-like stores.  The magnetic personality of the man made the task an
easy one to him, although others less gifted would have encountered
nothing but opposition had they proposed the same conditions to the
independent operatives of Lancashire and Yorkshire.  He was one of the
very few Government officials who understood the northern temperament.
When others would have "rubbed them up the wrong way", this level-headed
statesman was able to enlist the whole-hearted sympathies of blunt and
outspoken audiences.  His persuasive powers were worth an army corps to
the Commander-in-Chief of the British troops in France.

The five Germans had laid their plans well. Their proposed operations
had met with full approval from head-quarters at Berlin, and the result
of their efforts was anxiously awaited by the German Government.  Since
abduction left a loophole in the complete furtherance of the plot,
Teutonic thoroughness and frightfulness had devised a more drastic plan.

At the summit of the Blackstone Edge is a large lake or reservoir, its
unfenced sides shelving steeply to a depth, in a certain place, of fifty
feet.  It would be a comparatively simple matter to wreck the car,
murder its occupants if they still survived the fall from the overturned
vehicle, and topple the wreckage into the dark waters of the mountain

A cloud passed athwart the sun.  The sweltering heat gave place to a
piercing cold.  The Huns shivered in the cold wind and grumbled at the
keenness of the English June.  Overhead three gaunt crows flew, cawing
dismally.  With Teutonic superstition one of the men called his
companions’ attention to the ill omen.

"Nonsense, Otto!" protested the man known as Hans.  "The ill luck is
directed against the man for whom we are waiting so patiently.  Ha!
Here comes the car."

With their heads just showing above the ridge, the five kept the
approaching motor under close observation.  It was climbing rapidly,
leaving in its wake a cloud of dust that drifted slowly across the deep
valley on the left-hand side of the curve. Presently an unmistakable
rasping sound announced the fact that the driver, finding the gradient
too severe, had let in the lowest gear.

"Are you certain it is he?" asked one of the Huns.  "There are four in
the car?"

"Did you suppose he would travel alone?" retorted his leader.  "That is
he right enough--the man in civilian clothes.  The other is a military
staff officer.  The red in his cap proves that.  The younger men are
doubtless his secretaries--valets perhaps.  Yes, it is our man.  Now,
make ready."

Giving a glance in the opposite direction in order to make certain that
no one was approaching from the Yorkshire side of the Pass, Hans
cautiously placed a small battery within easy reach of his fat, podgy
fingers.  From the battery ran a couple of fine wires through the
stretch of grass, terminating at an inconspicuous greyish object lying
in the centre of the road in the midst of a scatter of loose stones.

At the critical moment a touch upon the firing-key of the battery


"Why are you so keen upon the East Coast route, Crosthwaite?" asked the
admiral.  "It’s a jolly sight longer."

"That I admit," replied the general.  "But I know it, which makes a vast
difference.  The Carlisle road is jolly rough, especially over Shap

"By the by, George, here is a little problem for you," said Admiral
Sefton.  "Which is the farthest west, Liverpool or Edinburgh?"

George looked at Leslie for assistance.  That worthy, having heard the
question put many times before, took an astonishing interest in a
policeman at the street corner.

"Well, sir," replied George, "Liverpool is on the west coast; Edinburgh
on the east----"

"Within a few miles," corrected the admiral. "Therefore I should imagine
that Liverpool is more to the west."

"Then look it up on the map," exclaimed Admiral Sefton triumphantly.
"You’ll find you’re wrong.  That’s why I couldn’t understand your
father’s intention of keeping to the East Coast route until he explained
his preference."

"We’ll do it quicker, too," rejoined Crosthwaite, Senior.  "Once we’re
clear of the outskirts of Manchester we’ll reel off the miles like
winking. Here you are: Rochdale, Halifax, Bradford, and Harrogate,
striking the Great North Road at Boroughbridge."

The journey was resumed, the admiral, as before, sitting with
Crosthwaite Senior, while George and Leslie, comfortably ensconced in
the rear seats, were surreptitiously examining a formidable-looking
air-pistol that Leslie Sefton had smuggled into his portmanteau.

It was modelled after a Service weapon, having the same weight and
balance.  The barrel was rifled, and was capable of sending a lead slug
with considerable force and low trajectory from a distance of fifty

"We’ll take pot shots at rabbits on the way," declared Leslie.  "The
governor won’t hear the sound.  It makes very little noise, and the
engine will drown that.  There’ll be hundreds of bunnies up there," and
he pointed to the still-distant outlines of the frowning Pennines.

Up and up, out of the dreary manufacturing district, the car climbed,
until the moist smoky atmosphere of the cotton-mills gave place to the
keen bracing air of the hills.

Both lads, alive to the possibilities of using the air-pistol, hung on
to the side of the car, their eyes roving the grass-land in the hope of
spotting a likely target.

The car had been climbing on low gear, but now the gradient became less.
The travellers were nearing the summit of Blackstone Edge.

Suddenly Leslie levelled the weapon, aiming at what he took to be the
body of a rabbit showing above the top of a hillock.  He was on the
point of pressing the trigger when a loud crash, followed by a cloud of
smoke and dust immediately behind the car, almost caused the pistol to
drop from his grasp.

"What’s that?" exclaimed Admiral Sefton.

"Tyre burst, I’m afraid," replied Crosthwaite Senior, momentarily
expecting the car to swerve. Applying the brakes he brought the car to a
standstill, with the engine still running, and prepared to investigate
the extent of the damage.

The Huns’ carefully-laid plans had gone awry through Leslie Sefton’s
instrumentality.  The lad had mistaken one of the miscreants’ caps for a
rabbit. Hans, under the impression that the attempt had been discovered,
and that one of the occupants of the car was levelling a pistol at him,
suddenly lost his nerve.  He depressed the firing-key of the battery a
second or so too late.  Instead of the detonation occurring immediately
underneath the motor, it expended its force harmlessly in the air.

"By Jove, Crosthwaite!" exclaimed the admiral as a rapid fusillade was
opened upon the stationary car.  "Modern highwaymen!"

"Keep down, lads," ordered the general sharply, for the nickel bullets
were singing overhead like a swarm of angry bees.  "Under the seat,
Sefton. Be sharp!"

"Never!" expostulated the admiral sturdily.

"Not you, I mean," almost roared his companion by way of apology.
"You’ll find a Webley under the seat.  Look alive, man!  It’s loaded
only in one chamber."

Leslie Sefton’s first impulse was to duck, until remembering that he
still held a loaded weapon, although it was but an air-pistol, in his
hand, he rested the barrel upon the padded back of the seat and aimed at
the nearest of the assailants.

It was an excellent shot.  The little bullet struck Hans just above the
right eye.  With an oath the German clapped both hands to his injury,
dropping his pistol as he did so, and began to dance round and round in

"Four to four now," exclaimed the lad, taking into no account the fact
that the supposed highwaymen were all well armed.  He jerked back the
barrel of the air-pistol and inserted another pellet, the zest of the
fight gripping him with the utmost intensity.

Meanwhile Crosthwaite Senior had let in the clutch, and had succeeded in
turning the car in the direction of the attackers.  Altogether
unprepared for this manoeuvre, the four separated, two making to the
right, and the others, keeping close together, edging away to the left,
still maintaining a hot and erratic fire.

Bending low behind the wind-screen, the plate-glass of which was already
"starred" in several places by the impact of the bullets, the general
urged the car straight in the direction of the men on his left.  Even as
he did so, the admiral, who had discovered the loaded revolver, blazed
away on his left, with the result that Otto lost all present and future
interest in the welfare of the Fatherland.

"Lucky shot," exclaimed Admiral Sefton modestly.  "Very lucky shot.  In
the centre of his fat forehead, by Jove!"

Only on rare occasions, since those far-off days when he was a young
lieutenant, had the retired naval officer handled a revolver, but his
skill and deadly precision remained.  Leisure hours, spent with his
favourite dog and gun amidst his preserves, had done much to keep the
hardy admiral’s eye as bright and his hand as steady as of yore, when
his revolver practice was the envy of his messmates on the old
gunnery-ship Excellent.

Ejecting the empty cartridge case, the admiral loaded all six chambers.
Then, ready to resume the encounter, he again levelled the weapon, at
the same time protesting audibly that the first shot was a mere fluke.

Giving scant heed to his friend’s remarks, Crosthwaite Senior kept the
car full in the direction of his particular quarry.  Over the low bank
bordering the road the heavy vehicle mounted, lurching dangerously as it
did so.  Only by sheer chance did it escape being capsized, as the
offside wheels rose three feet clear of the soft, grass-grown soil.

"Dash it all, Crosthwaite!" protested the admiral. "Fairly spoiled my
shot that time.  Easy ahead, man, or you’ll have us all overboard."

Loud yells from another of the Huns showed that the admiral’s second
shot, if not so deadly as the first, had "scored an outer".  Leaving his
companions to continue the treacherous attack, the wounded man ran as
fast as he could, still bellowing with pain, and holding his coat tails
with both hands.

Only two Huns remained.  Wildly firing, they stood their ground until
the car was within a few feet of them.

In his keenness Major-General Crosthwaite had not taken sufficient
notice of the nature of the ground.  Mounting a steep hillock, the car
swerved and toppled completely over, pinning the admiral beneath the
chassis and throwing the other occupants headlong upon the turf.

In a flash the two Germans seized their opportunity. One, levelling his
automatic pistol, fired point-blank at the prostrate general, the bullet
passing completely through his uplifted arm and flattening itself
against his silver cigar-case.  Before the miscreant could load
again--it was the last cartridge in the magazine--George flung himself
upon him.

The remaining Hun, finding that his automatic weapon was likewise empty,
and mindful of Leslie’s brandished air-pistol, was chary of closing with
the lad.  Incautiously, young Sefton levelled the pistol and fired, the
pellet merely penetrating the German’s coat and waistcoat, and
inflicting a slight scratch on his chest.

In a trice, the Hun guessed the comparatively feeble nature of the
British lad’s weapon.  He knew that seconds would have to elapse before
the air-pistol could be reloaded.  Mentally comparing his size with that
of the fifteen-year-old youth, he came to the conclusion that it was
safe to close.

Leslie, far from declining the unspoken challenge, threw himself at his
opponent, and two pairs of desperately earnest antagonists were locked
in deadly combat.  It was long odds, for, with Crosthwaite Senior
helpless with a bullet through his arm, and the admiral imprisoned
beneath the overturned car, no help seemed likely to be forthcoming from
that direction.  To make matters worse, Hans, the leader of the gang,
having quieted down after the first acute pain, had seen how things
stood, and, recovering his pistol, had cautiously approached, seeking a
favourable opportunity to turn the already-wavering scale.

CHAPTER XVII--Safe in Port

Throughout the long-drawn night the survivors of the _Calder’s_ crew
battled manfully against increasing difficulties in their efforts to
save the destroyer from foundering.  The faulty bulkhead, shored and
barricaded with tightly-packed hammocks and other canvas gear, required
constant watching.  The pumps were working continuously, relays of men
undertaking the arduous task in the high-spirited manner that pervades
the navy, especially when confronted with danger and peril.

Not once during the hours of darkness did Sefton quit the remnants of
the bridge.  Without the aid of navigating instruments, save the
inadequate compass, the destroyer’s course could not be maintained with
the customary precision.  Variation and deviation--factors carefully
guarded against in ordinary circumstances--were affecting the boat’s
liquid compass, but to what extent Sefton knew not.  With a vague idea
that he would "fetch" the Firth of Forth, the sub held on, the grinding
revolutions of the remaining propeller dinning into his ears the
knowledge that the old _Calder_ was momentarily, but slowly, approaching
the shores of Britain.

A cup of unfragrant tea, sweetened with condensed milk, and a biscuit
which was strongly scented with a peculiarly acrid smell, were
gratefully accepted by the wellnigh exhausted sub.  The man who brought
the refreshments to the bridge had not thought it necessary to explain
that he had scraped the sodden tea from the floor of the shell-wrecked
officers’-pantry, or that he had been compelled to wash the salt water
from the biscuits and toast them in the stokehold.

Once more the waves had subsided, and an almost flat calm prevailed.
Overhead a few stars shone dimly through the haze.  Not a light was
visible; all around, sea and sky blended in a dark, ill-defined murk.

At four bells the helmsman was relieved.  He was the seventh consecutive
man whom Sefton had seen taking his trick at the wheel, but still the
sub stuck gamely at his post.  He would have given almost anything to
throw himself at full length upon the dewy deck and sleep like a log,
even for a couple of hours, but such a privilege was denied him.  His
wounds, too, although slight, were beginning to feel painfully stiff.
The sea-water, penetrating his ragged uniform, irritated the abrasions
almost beyond endurance.  He yearned in vain for a hot bath and a change
of clothing.

"How goes it now?" enquired a tired voice, hardly recognizable as that
of Dr. Stirling. "Where are we?"

"Somewhere in the North Sea, old bird," replied Sefton, with a forced
laugh.  "Do you happen to have a prescription for an eyelid prop, Pills?
My optics seem on the point of becoming bunged up."

"Tell it not in Gath," quoted the surgeon. "I’ve just made a
discovery--worth at the present moment more than untold gold.  Egyptian,
man, real Egyptian, and the only ones to be found on board."

He proffered his silver case.  Sefton seized one of the cigarettes with
avidity.  For hours he had longed in vain for a smoke.  His own supply
had vanished.  Several hundred, having fallen through a jagged rent in
the ward-room floor, were lying, a sodden pulp, in the water that surged
in the ship’s bilges.

"Thanks awfully!" he exclaimed gratefully.

"Bit of luck," continued Stirling.  "Found the case in the wreckage of
the beer barrel.  I don’t think the stuff’s affected them.  Case seems
pretty tight.  Thought I’d come on deck and have half a dozen whiffs
with you."

Crouching under the lee of the canvas screen that had been rigged up to
replace the demolished storm-dodgers, Sefton carefully struck a match.
Almost before the cigarette was alight, a jarring shock made the
_Calder_ tremble from her shattered bows to her jagged taffrail.
Immediately afterwards the remaining engine began to race with frightful

Dropping the cigarette like a hot cinder, Sefton sprang to his feet,
fully convinced that the long-expected catastrophe had occurred, and
that the bulkhead had given way.  Stirling, his first thoughts for his
patients, scurried down the bridge-ladder and ran aft to where the
double line of wounded men lay, each covered by a hammock to protect him
from the night dews and drifting spray.

A minute passed.  There was no impetuous inrush of water.  The bulkhead
was still holding. The engine-room ratings had shut off steam, and the
horrible, nerve-racking clank of the racing machinery ceased.

"Propeller fouled some wreckage, sir," reported a petty officer.
"Blades stripped clean off the boss I’ll allow."

The man was right in his surmise.  The last of the four propellers had
struck some partly submerged object, with the result that the destroyer
was no longer capable of moving through the water under her own power.
All she could do was to drift helplessly with wind and tide.

With a deafening hiss, a heavy cloud of steam released from the now
useless boilers escaped skywards.  The overworked engine-room and
stokehold staffs were at last at liberty to "stand easy".

Suddenly a beam of dazzling white light flashed through the darkness.
Impinging upon the cloud of steam, its reflected glare illumined the
scene on deck as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. Then, with a
quick, decisive movement, the giant ray was depressed, until it played
fairly upon the battered hull, throwing every object into strong relief,
and literally blinding the men with its dazzling glare.

"What ship is that?" shouted a deep voice through a megaphone, the sound
travelling distinctly across the intervening water.

A couple of cables’ lengths from the stationary _Calder_ was a large
destroyer, with her search-light directed upon the object of her

Sefton’s reply was inaudible.  The direction of the wind and the lack of
a megaphone prevented his words from being understood.  Again the
challenge was repeated.

Standing erect in the full glare of the searchlight, and apart from his
companions, a petty officer semaphored the desired information.

"Stand by to receive a hawser," commanded the lieutenant-commander of
the unknown destroyer. "We’ll take you in tow."

The vessel was T.B.D. _Basher_, one of the inner patrol of destroyers
operating between St. Abb’s Head and Spurn Point.  Pelting along at 20
knots in the darkness, her first intimation of the proximity of the
crippled _Calder_ was the hiss of steam from her boilers.  Prepared to
open fire at an instant’s notice, she trained her quick-firers abeam and
switched on her search-lights, only to discover that she had fortunately
fallen in with a "lame duck" from the Jutland battle--a craft whose
absence was beginning to give rise to considerable apprehension on the
part of the British Admiralty.

"You’ll tow better stern-foremost, I fancy," shouted the _Basher’s_
skipper, as he noted the extent to which the _Calder_ was down by the

"Yes, sir," agreed Sefton.  "There will be less pressure upon the
bulkhead for’ard.  It has been giving us some anxiety."

"Is Crosthwaite on board?" enquired the lieutenant-commander of the
rescuing craft.

"Badly wounded," was the sub’s reply.  "We had it fairly hot for a time.
Can you give us any details of the result of the action, sir?"

"Yes; we gave them a terrific licking," said the skipper of the
_Basher_.  "The rotten part was that the Huns got away during the night.
Still, they won’t come out again in a hurry.  They’ve been very busy
ever since sending out fantastic claims to a decisive victory over the
British fleet.  On paper they certainly beat us hollow, but the funny
part about it is that Jellicoe made a demonstration in force off the
Bight of Heligoland yesterday, and the beggars funked the invitation.
By the by, the sea’s fairly calm.  We’ll run alongside and tranship your
wounded.  It will save a lot of bother if you have to abandon ship."

Adroitly manoeuvred in the darkness, for the search-lights were now
screened lest a prowling U boat might take advantage of the motionless
British destroyers, the _Basher_ was made fast to her disabled consort.
Carefully the wounded men were transferred, Dr. Stirling, at the sub’s
request, going with them, since the _Basher_ was one of a class of
destroyers without the services of a medical man.

There was one exception.  Crosthwaite resolutely declined to leave his

"She’s brought us through thus far," he declared, "and I’ll stick to her
until we fetch home. Where are we now?"

Sefton was unable to reply until he had enquired of the _Basher’s_
navigating officer the position of the ship.  The answer was somewhat
astonishing; the _Calder_, when picked up, was forty-five miles from the
mouth of the Tyne.

"A precious fine piece of navigation," remarked the sub ruefully.  "I
was trying to make the Firth of Forth, and instead I find myself barging
into the Northumberland coast."

"Might have done a jolly sight worse, old man," said Crosthwaite
cheerfully.  "You’re a brick, Sefton!"

The sub flushed like a schoolgirl, and, bolting from the shell-wrecked
ward-room, made for the bridge.

"All clear aft?" shouted the _Basher’s_ lieutenant-commander.

"Aye, aye, sir," was the reply from a petty officer stationed at the
after capstan, round which the towing-hawser had been made fast.

"Cast off fore and after springs," continued the officer, telegraphing
for "Half ahead, port engine".

Very cautiously the towing-craft forged ahead, turning sixteen points in
almost her own length. In the darkness the manoeuvre was fraught with
anxiety, for, had the slack of the hawser fouled the _Basher’s_
propellers, the destroyer would have been as helpless as the craft she
was endeavouring to save.

At length the wire hawser began to groan as, under the increased strain,
it rasped through the fair-lead.  Ever so slowly, yet surely, the
_Calder_ gathered stern way in the wake of her consort, and presently
she was nearing the Tyne at a rate of 7-½ knots.

With her helm lashed amidships, and without means of steering, the
partly waterlogged craft yawed horribly, sheering alternately four
points to port and starboard of the towing-vessel.  Yet it was the only
practical means of getting the destroyer into port.  Had she been towed
bows first, the already-weakened for’ard bulkhead would assuredly have
collapsed under the additional pressure of water.

"We may fetch Tynemouth," thought Sefton, as he watched the _Calder’s_
erratic movements, "but she’ll never be able to ascend the river.
She’ll be barging into the banks and playing the deuce with everything."

He could think of nothing to check the damaged destroyer’s behaviour.  A
scope of the cable trailing from the hawse-pipe might have served, had
not anchors, struck by several projectiles, been immovably jammed in the

The same problem also confronted the skipper of the _Basher_, but he
quickly settled it by wirelessing for a tug.

Dawn was just breaking when the _Calder_ arrived off Tynemouth.  A
powerful paddle-tug was lashed alongside, and the voyage up the river

In the busy shipyards on either side of the Tyne, the night shifts were
still hard at work turning out new vessels for the British navy at the
rate of one and a half a week, in addition to effecting urgent repairs
to ships damaged in action or by floating mines.

"Lads," shouted a burly iron-caulker in stentorian tones, "here be a
German prize bein’ towed up t’ river."

"Garn!" retorted his mate.  "German prize, my aunt!  You don’t see no
German flag a-flyin; under that British ensign.  She’s one of our plucky
’uns.  Give her three times three, mates!"

The cheering, caught up with redoubled energy, greeted the battered
_Calder_ throughout the whole length of her progress up the river.  Her
wounded lieutenant-commander, lying helpless in his bunk, heard the
inspiring sound.  He knew what it meant.  A load had been lifted off his
mind.  His command was safe in port.


"Eight days’ leave--both watches."

The welcome order was given to the survivors of the _Calder’s_ crew with
a promptitude that betokened official regard and appreciation of the
plucky destroyer’s ship’s company.

The _Calder_, safe in dock, was handed over to the care of the shipyard
authorities.  At high pressure, the task of getting her ready for sea
once more would occupy the best part of two months, so badly had she
been knocked about.

When in dry dock, a discovery was made that showed how narrow her escape
had been from instant destruction.  A large-sized German torpedo was
found in her flooded forepeak, its head flattened against the inside of
the bow-plates.  Fired at a distance of a few yards, it had passed
completely through the thin metal hull, and, failing to penetrate the
other side, had remained trapped in the waterlogged compartment.
Examination showed that the safety-fan in the head of the weapon had not
had sufficient time to revolve and liberate the firing-pin.  A
difference of a few yards would have been enough to transform the
innocuous missile into a deadly weapon, capable of shattering the
_Calder_ like an egg-shell.

Having written up his report to the Commander-in-Chief, seen Crosthwaite
safely into a shore hospital, and dispatched a telegram to his home
announcing his safe return, Sefton bathed and turned in.

Six hours later he was up, feeling considerably refreshed.  All that had
to be done in an official sense had been carried out, and he was free to
proceed on well-earned leave.

A steam pinnace landed him and his scanty belongings on the Gateshead
side of the river. Clad in mufti, since his uniform was little more than
a collection of scorched rags, the sub made his way towards the station.

Perhaps, now that the arduous period of responsibility had passed,
Sefton was feeling the reaction. At any rate his usual alertness had
temporarily deserted him, for, on crossing a crowded thoroughfare, he
narrowly escaped being knocked down by a passing motor-car.

"Why don’t you look----?" began the owner of the car; then: "Bless my
soul, Sefton!  Whoever expected to see you here!  Thought you had been
done in, ’pon my soul I did.  Where’s the _Calder_? And how’s old

The speaker was Sub-lieutenant Farnworth, Sefton’s old shipmate on board
the _Hammerer_, where both had served as midshipmen during the earlier
stages of the war.

"They slung me out of the submarine service," said Farnworth, after
Sefton had briefly replied to his friend’s enquiries.  "Why?  Oh, merely
a bit of bad luck!  Crocked my leg, don’t you know."

Farnworth was too modest to give details.  He had vivid recollections of
a dirty day in the North Sea, with submarine E-- lying awash, and a
hostile mine foul of her bows.  The plucky young officer, assisted by a
couple of equally resolute seamen, succeeded in freeing the submarine
from the unwelcome attentions of the metal globe, but in so doing the
mooring-chain had surged, fracturing Farnworth’s thigh as the heavy mine
dropped clear.

It took three months at Haslar Hospital, followed by six weeks at
Osborne, to set matters right, but the sub’s leg was permanently
shortened.  To his great relief, Farnworth was not invalided out of the
Service, although unfit for sea.  He was given a good billet in the
Intelligence Department, his district covering the Tyne ports, Hull, and

With a powerful car at his disposal, Farnworth was in clover.  His sole
regret was his inability to tread the planks of a British war-ship.  The
call of the sea was strong.  He would willingly have relinquished his
"cushy job" to be in command of the slowest little torpedo-boat flying
the White Ensign.

"I’m keeping you," said Sefton at length.

"Not at all," said Farnworth, with a grin.  "It’s Government petrol I’m
using, you know, and I’m not due at Liverpool until eight to-night.  Do
it on my head, so to speak.  And you?"

"Just off to the station, old man," replied Sefton. "Want to get home

"Southampton?  I doubt it, old bird.  You’ve missed the express to
King’s Cross.  No, I’m not to blame.  It had gone long before you tried
to commit hara-kiri under my car.  Look here; hop in and I’ll drop you
at Manchester in plenty of time to pick up the through train."

Sefton accepted the invitation with alacrity. Being whisked through the
air in a comfortable car was infinitely to be preferred to being cooped
up in a railway-carriage after a tedious wait in a draughty station.

The ninety odd miles to Halifax was covered in two hours and a half,
for, on the open road, Farnworth let the car all out, only slowing down
while passing through the big industrial towns that lay on his route.

"Now for a ripping stretch of country," exclaimed Farnworth
enthusiastically.  "Something to blow the cobwebs away, don’t you know.
I always take this road in preference to the Hebden Bridge way. It’s
steeper, but the car can do it hands down."

Up and up, with very little reduction of speed, the high-powered car
climbed.  Sefton, drowsy for lack of sufficient sleep and from the
effects of the strong air, failed to share his companion’s enthusiasm.
Lulled by the rhythmic purr of the motor-car, he was fast becoming
oblivious to his surroundings when Farnworth gave him a violent shake
with his disengaged hand.

"What’s wrong?" enquired Sefton.

"Scrap," replied his chum laconically.  "Something more than a
dog-fight.  What?" he muttered under his breath as he pulled up.

Twenty yards from the road was an overturned car.  Close to it lay a
khaki-clad figure, while engaged in a desperate struggle were two pairs
of interlocked combatants.  Approaching them with stealthy steps was a
short, thickset, bullet-headed man holding an automatic pistol.

This much Sefton took in with a glance as he leapt from the car.
Fatigue and sleepiness had vanished in an instant.  All he realized was
that a party of motorists was being molested by a gang of armed roughs,
and that was enough.

With Farnworth limping close at his heels, Sefton ran to the rescue.  An
encouraging shout from his companion caused the armed ruffian to turn.

Brandishing his pistol, he shouted a warning to the two new-comers to
"clear out and mind their own business".

Undeterred by the sight of the weapon, the two subs bounded forward.  A
couple of bullets whizzed past Sefton’s head, one of the pieces of
nickel chopping a slice out of the lobe of Farnworth’s left ear.

Before Hans could fire again, the deep report of a heavy revolver rang
out, followed by a bluish puff of smoke from underneath the overturned

Clapping his hands to his side, the German spun round three times and
collapsed to the ground.

As he passed, Sefton kicked the fellow’s pistol, sending it flying a
dozen yards.  If the Hun were playing ’possum, the sub meant to take no
unnecessary risks.

In ten seconds the struggle was over.  A powerful blow from Farnworth’s
clenched fist made George’s assailant relax his grip on the lad’s throat
and fall like a log.

Leslie’s antagonist, who was fast choking the plucky lad into a state of
insensibility, broke away, and, with a yell of terror, fled for his
life, hotly pursued by Jack Sefton.  Realizing that he was being
outstripped, the miscreant made straight for the lake and plunged in.

Vainly the sub waited for him to rise to the surface.  Either the man’s
head had struck against some hard substance at the bottom or else he had
become entangled in the weeds.

Greatly to Jack’s surprise, he found that it was his young brother who
had put up such a game struggle with his burly antagonist, and that Dick
Crosthwaite’s father and brother were of the party. Still greater was
the sub’s astonishment when he heard a well-known voice exclaim,

"Bear a hand, Jack.  It’s not at all comfortable here."

With assistance the admiral was extricated from the wreckage, little the
worse for his adventure.

"Hang it all, my boy," exclaimed Admiral Sefton, "we were coming to look
for you.  We heard the _Calder_ was overdue."

"Didn’t you get my wire, sir?" asked Jack.  "I telegraphed directly we
got ashore."

"Considering I’ve been three days on the road," replied his father, "my
postal address isn’t of much use.  Hulloa, Crosthwaite, what have you

"Nothing much," declared the general.  "A clean bullet-wound.  Thought
I’d been plugged through the chest.  The shock knocked me out. By Jove!
That was a narrow squeak."

He held his cigar case up for inspection.  The bullet had penetrated the
lid, and had flattened itself against the back, a bulge proving by how
little the missile had missed making a complete perforation.

"The rascal has spoilt two of my choice cigars," announced Crosthwaite
Senior wrathfully.  "What was the object, I wonder?  By George, Sefton,
I see ourselves let in for a coroner’s inquest."

While Jack and the admiral were attending to George and Leslie, neither
of whom showed any signs of serious injury, Farnworth examined the
bodies of the three men.  Two were stone dead--silent testimonies to the
accuracy of the admiral’s aim.  The third was unconscious, the blow from
Farnworth’s powerful fist having stunned him.  Of the others, one had
been drowned, while the remaining member of the gang--the one wounded by
the admiral--was at that moment limping painfully over the hills, and
putting a safe distance between him and the scene of his rash and foiled

"By Jove, old man," exclaimed Farnworth, in the midst of his task of
examining the contents of the dead man’s pockets.  "See what you make of

He held up a sheet of soiled and creased paper, covered with
closely-written flourishing writing, for Jack Sefton’s inspection.
"German, by the powers!" he added.

"Partly in cipher and partly in ordinary writing," declared Sefton.
"These fellows are Huns, right enough, but what is their object?"

Farnworth did not reply.  He was intently studying the minute
penmanship.  Suddenly he started to his feet.

"The swine!" he ejaculated furiously.  "Look here--these three
words--all as plain as a pike-staff."

"Well, what does it mean?" asked the admiral, his attention drawn to the
discovery by Farnworth’s exclamation.

"A diplomatic mission is leaving a certain port. By this time the vessel
detailed to convoy the party may have sailed.  The spies knew this: this
paper proves that.  Either they or their accomplices have designs to
interfere with the plan."

"A bold surmise on your part," remarked Admiral Sefton.

"I hope I’m mistaken, sir," replied Farnworth. "We’ll have to be on the
move at once."

"What’s your plan, old man?" enquired Jack as the party set to work to
convey the wounded general to the waiting car.

"Make for the nearest telegraph office," was the prompt reply.

"And these?" enquired the admiral, indicating with a comprehensive sweep
of his hand the overturned motor and the three motionless forms of their
former assailants.

"Can wait, sir," replied Farnworth.  "We’ll send the police and a
break-down gang to clear up the business.  All ready, Jack?"

Away glided the car, descending the curved road at terrific speed.
Approaching the bottom of the pass, another car was encountered going in
the opposite direction.  It contained the high personage who probably
owed his life to the blunder the Germans had made in mistaking
Crosthwaite’s party for his.  In complete ignorance, the occupants of
the two cars passed.  The Government official was never to learn how
close he had been to a foul death by assassination on the desolate
Blackstone Edge.

Over the rough setts of Rochdale, Farnworth’s car tore, until the young
naval officer slowed up to pass through a dense crowd gathered round the
windows of a firm of newspaper proprietors, and extending more than
half-way across the street.

Instinctively the occupants of the car looked at the bold letters
scrawled upon a large sheet of paper.

"Good heavens!" ejaculated the admiral, hardly able to believe his eyes;
"we are too late!"

CHAPTER XIX--The Smack "Fidelity"

"Be a sport, Jack!" exclaimed Leslie Sefton coaxingly.

"And take a sort of busman’s holiday, eh?" rejoined the sub, regarding
his young brother with a tolerant smile.  "Well--I’ll see."

"Thanks awfully," was Leslie’s comment. Experience had taught him that
Jack’s "I’ll see" invariably ended in acquiescence.

Two months had elapsed since the eventful encounter on Blackstone Edge.
August was well advanced, bringing with it a spell of gloriously fine
weather; and, since the young people must needs have holidays, even in
war-time, and the Admiral felt in need of a rest after the strenuous
shooting-match on the bleak Pennine Hills, the Sefton family had taken a
furnished house overlooking Poole Harbour.

Sub-lieutenant Sefton had been temporarily appointed to the Portsmouth
Naval Barracks, pending another term of service afloat.  His fairly
frequent periods of week-end leave, he invariably spent with his
parents, since Poole was within easy railway distance of the senior
naval port.

Young Leslie was in his element.  Before he had been at Poole more than
three hours he had already chummed up with the owners of several
pleasure craft.  But a few days of sailing in a landlocked harbour soon
whetted his appetite for a trip beyond the bar, and for the present his
wishes in that direction were thwarted.  Owing to the war-time
conditions, no pleasure-boat or yacht was permitted to leave the
spacious inland cruising-ground.

Time after time, Leslie watched with yearning eyes the brown-sailed
fishing-fleet steal past the patrol-boats guarding the entrance, and
glide seaward to the fishing-ground off the Dolphin Bank. For the most
part, the boats were manned by grey-bearded stalwarts and young boys,
worthy descendants of Harry Page, Thompson, and other Poole fishermen
whose prowess against the French is still remembered by the inhabitants
of the Dorset seaport.  Already the British navy had claimed almost
every able-bodied fisherman of fighting age, and nobly the men had
responded to the call, leaving grandfathers and grandsons to work the
boats in the open waters of the English Channel.

At last Leslie found an opportunity.  Getting on the right side of old
"Garge" Cottenham, owner and master of the five-ton smack _Fidelity_, he
prevailed upon that worthy to allow him to make an all-night trip to the

Unfortunately the admiral did not see eye to eye with his energetic son.
Even Leslie’s declaration that he would be assisting in a work of
national importance by helping to provide the nation’s food left him
unmoved.  As a last resource the lad appealed to Jack, who had just
arrived upon the scene for the week-end.

"Isn’t the harbour good enough for him?" asked Admiral Sefton.

"You don’t get the lift of the open sea, you know, Pater," replied the
sub.  "Leslie’s got the old instinct, you see."

"S’pose so," admitted his parent.  "A couple of centuries of sea life is
bound to tell, eh?  All the same, I don’t like the idea of the boy
knocking about in a smack.  He’ll get into a dozen scrapes, and end up
by tumbling overboard and getting mixed up in the trawl.  Now if I were
there to look after him----"

The admiral paused.  Had old Garge Cottenham extended the invitation to
him, the bluff old sea-dog could not have resisted the call of the
sea--e’en were it through the medium of a five-ton smack.  Between the
man who in the splendour of a gold-laced uniform had directed the
movements of a fleet and the other who grasped the tiller of a grubby
fishing-boat existed a common tie--that mysterious and overpowering
freemasonry of the sea.

On second thoughts, Admiral Sefton remembered his comfortable bed and
well-ordered repast, comparing them with the discomforts of a night
afloat and relatively hard fare.

Here Jack stepped nobly into the breach.

"Perhaps the kid wouldn’t object if I went with him," he suggested.
"Not keen on it, you know, but----"

And so it came to pass that when Leslie coaxed his big brother the
latter capitulated.

"But what if your fisherman pal declined to ship me with him?" he added.

"No fear," replied Leslie.  "I’ll make that all right; only don’t tell
him you’re an officer."

"Oh, for why?" enquired the sub.

"I don’t know exactly," was his brother’s reply. "Somehow I fancy Old
Garge doesn’t like naval officers."

Wherein Leslie was correct.  Years ago Skipper Cottenham had fallen foul
of the lieutenant-in-charge of a revenue cutter, and the memory of the
meeting still rankled.

After lunch Leslie made his way to the quay, returning in an hour’s time
with the information that Old Garge didn’t object (he was not over
anxious to avail himself of a supposed amateur’s offer of assistance),
and that the _Fidelity_ would cast off at seven o’clock that evening.

Clad in an old pair of serge trousers and a brown sweater, and carrying
an oilskin coat that, despite the maker’s guarantee, stuck tenaciously
wherever it was folded, the sub accompanied his wildly-excited brother
to the steps, where a boat was in readiness to convey them to the smack.

In the boat was a freckled, chubby-faced, flaxen-haired youngster of
about thirteen, whom Leslie introduced to his brother as Tim,
great-grandson of the owner and master of the registered fishing-boat

"Where’s the _Fidelity_ lying?" enquired the sub, after the youngster
had sculled the heavy boat for nearly two hundred yards.

"Down Stakes," was the mysterious reply. "Us’ll see her in a minute or
so, when us gets round t’bend."

Working the long single oar vigorously, and aided by the strong ebb
tide, Tim quickly urged the heavy boat along.

"There he be," he announced.  "Third in the row from here."

Sefton looked in the direction indicated.  The fishing-fleet was already
making preparations for a start.  Most of the boats had their mainsails
set. Two or three had already slipped moorings, and were gliding down
the main channel under the lee of the wooded Brownsea Island.

With the practised eye of a true seaman, the sub realized that, in spite
of her sombre garb of grey paint, mottled with tar marks, the _Fidelity_
was "all a boat".

With a sharp entry and fine run aft, noticeable despite the squat stern
and heavy transom, the smack showed every promise of speed combined with
stiffness.  Built with a view of encountering the short steep seas of
Poole Bar, she was typical of the weatherly boats that have justly
earned a splendid reputation for seaworthiness.

"Evenin’!" was Old Garge’s greeting.  "Come aboard.  Look alive, Tim,
an’ make fast the boat’s painter.  Then do ’ee cast off.  There’s Bill
Moggridge an’ Peter Wilson under way already.  Us mustn’t let ’em get
across t’ Bar ahead of the _Fidelity_."

Quickly, as the result of much practice, young Tim cast off the heavy
mooring-chain from the bitts, and trimmed the head-sails.  Heeling
slightly to the light south-westerly breeze the smack gathered way,
leaving hardly a ripple in her wake as she glided almost noiselessly
through the calm water.

The sub revelled in the movement.  Vividly it recalled long-past days in
the _Britannia’s_ cutters, racing in the landlocked estuary of the Dart.
Since then opportunities for fore-and-aft sailing had been few and far
between.  Contrasted with the terrific vibration of a swiftly moving
destroyer, the gentle movement was peaceful and soothing.

A short spell of close-hauled work, as the smack tacked towards the
entrance, was followed by a run, full and by, down the buoyed channel to
the bar buoy.  From the heights above Studland a stiff breeze swept
down, causing the water to foam at the _Fidelity’s_ sharp stem.

"That be good!" ejaculated Old Garge.  "Us be overtakin’ them," and he
nodded in the direction of the two boats that were still leading by less
than a cable’s length.  "Wind’ll drop afore long, I’s afraid."

"It will go down with the sun," said Sefton. "But we’ll get the first of
the east-going tide outside."

The skipper of the _Fidelity_ stared at his guest. Already he had come
to the conclusion that the tall bronzed young fellow was no mere
landlubber. The sub’s deliberate pronunciation of the word "tackle"
during a previous conversation had told him that.

"Patrol," announced the skipper laconically, indicating a steam trawler
as she rounded the detached chalk pinnacle known as "Old Harry". "She’s
there to keep Garmin submarines away, you know.  Ever seen a Garmin
submarine, mister?"

"Have you?" enquired Sefton, countering the old fellow’s curiosity.

"Only one, and ’er was no good to nobody," replied Old Garge.  "They
sunk ’er away down Christchurch Bay.  Seed the navy chaps a-getting her
up, only the patrol boat ordered me away. That was away back last
summer.  Since then they submarines ’ave given this part a wide berth."

"I’d like to see one getting properly strafed," declared Leslie.  "What
would you do, Jack, if one showed its nose up just now?"

"Chuck it," ejaculated the sub good-humouredly. "We’re supposed to be on
the way to the fishing-ground, not chasing U boats.  Hallo!  There’s The
Needles Light."

By this time the sun had set in a haze of vivid crimson.  Against the
dark grey of the eastern sky, the coastwise lights of The Needles and
St. Catherine’s were beginning to assert their presence in the rapidly
waning twilight.  Contrary to expectation the breeze still held,
although under the shadow of Hengistbury Head, bearing three miles to
the nor’ard, a number of fishing-craft lay completely becalmed.

"Evenin’, Peter!" shouted Old Garge cordially, as the _Fidelity_ drew
ahead of the hitherto leading boat.  Peter waved his arm in reply.  His
response was not so cordial, seeing that his boat had been outstripped,
greatly to the glee of Leslie and young Tim.

For the next quarter of an hour all hands were busily engaged in paying
out the nets.  Then, under triced-up mainsail, the smack floundered
slowly through the water, towing the length of fishing-gear astern.

The first haul produced very indifferent results. Leslie began to think
that it was poor sport, since the catch consisted of less than a dozen
medium-sized whiting and a couple of small bass.  Nor did the second
cast fare much better.

"’Tes this east’ly wind we’ve a-been havin’ that’s done the mischief,"
explained the skipper of the _Fidelity_.  "I thought when it veered we’d
be in luck.  Howsomever, we’ll have another shot."

Again the nets were paid out, and the smack, hampered with her tow,
stood off in the direction of the distant St. Catherine’s Light.

"Mighty slow, isn’t it?" confided Leslie to his brother.  "Wish Old
Garge would up nets and make for home.  Sailing’s all right, but this
almost bores me stiff."

"Patience!" rejoined Sefton.  "This is your choice.  How would you care
to go fishing for months, blow high, blow low?  No matter whether it be
summer or winter, you’ve got to go on fishing--fishing for a brute that
will bite you pretty hard at the first favourable opportunity."

"You mean submarines?" asked the lad.  "I should like to see one.  It
must be fine sport."

"Not on board this hooker, though," added the sub.  "Give me something
that can hit back."

Force of habit made the young officer glance to windward.  He would not
have been altogether surprised had a pair of twin periscopes appeared
above the surface of the moonlit water.  After all, he reflected, there
wasn’t much chance of that. The fishing-ground was well out of the
recognized steamer tracks.  A U boat, especially in the English Channel,
where she ran an almost momentary risk of destruction, would not waste
time over the shallow Dolphin Bank to look for insignificant
fishing-smacks.  Still, Hun submarines did erratic things sometimes.

Then the sub laughed at his fancies.  The possibility was so remote that
he ridiculed the suggestion.

Meanwhile Old Garge had disappeared under the half-deck.  A wreath of
smoke from the dilapidated iron chimney, and the banging of several iron
utensils, announced the fact that he was preparing some sort of repast.
Tim, mechanically sawing the tiller to and fro, kept the smack on her

The _Fidelity_ was now well to the east’ard of the rest of the fleet.  A
couple of miles separated her from the nearmost of the brown-sailed
boats, whose dark canvas showed up distinctly in the slanting rays of
the moon.

"We’re giving them the slip, aren’t we?" enquired Leslie, indicating the
still busily engaged smacks.

Tim glanced over his shoulder.

"Granfer," he called out; "we’m a long way down t’ east’ard.  Shall us
up nets?"

"No; you just carry on," replied Old Garge, his voice muffled in the
confined space.  "I’ll be with you in a minute.  I’m fair busy just

Another half-hour passed, but the skipper still remained out of sight.
The wind had now dropped, and the smack, with her main-sheet slacked
right off, floundered heavily, dipping her boom-end at every roll.
Already the day was breaking beyond the chalk cliffs of the Isle of
Wight.  Momentarily, the search-lights from The Needles Channel
batteries were growing fainter in the grey dawn.

"Isn’t it grand!" exclaimed Leslie, inspired by the sight of daybreak at

The sub merely shrugged his shoulders.  Untold spells of duty as officer
of the watch had made him regard the spectacle with complete

But the next instant Jack Sefton’s lassitude fell from him like a
discarded mask, for, at less than a hundred yards on the _Fidelity’s_
port quarter, appeared the pole-like periscopes of a submarine.

CHAPTER XX--Captured

For a few seconds the optics of the submerged craft remained trained
upon the isolated smack. Although the submarine was forging slowly
ahead, the periscopes rose no higher out of the water. Evidently those
in charge of the vessel were not anxious to rise to the surface until
they had satisfied themselves that it was fairly safe to do so.

His attention attracted by his brother’s fixed gaze, Leslie sprang to
his feet and grasped the weather shrouds.

"What’s that, Jack?" he asked.

"What you wanted to see--a submarine."

"One of ours?"

"Hope so," replied the sub laconically; but he had great misgivings on
that score.  Had it been a British submarine making for Portsmouth, she
would almost certainly be running on the surface, in order to make her
number before approaching the heavily-defended Needles channel.

Wildly excited, Tim forgot that he was steering and, putting the helm
down, allowed the smack to gybe "all standing".  The thud of the heavy
boom as it swung across and brought up with a violent jerk, had the
effect of making Old Garge emerge from the cuddy in a state of nautical

"What be you up to, you young lubber?" he shouted.

"Submarine, granfer," replied his youthful relative.

"No excuse for gybing," continued the skipper. "Do you mind what you are
up to.  Where be she?"

He shaded his eyes, expecting to see one of the British "C" or "E" class
running awash. Instead, he saw only the tips of the periscopes.

"Drat it!" he ejaculated.  "’Tain’t for no good. Anyways, we’re too
small for her to trouble about we."

Apparently his conjectures were correct, for, with a feather of white
foam, and a sullen swirl well in the wake of the periscope, the
submarine disappeared wholly from sight.

"’Er’s afeard of fouling our nets," declared Old Garge.  "Now, if we
gives the patrol-boat notice, an’ that submarine is done for, there’s
fifty pun’ at least for me.  A matter of a couple o’ months back my
friend Peter----"

But what happened to Peter was a story that Jack Sefton was not
permitted to hear, for with a quick, unhesitating motion the submarine
reappeared at less than three cables’ lengths ahead of the smack.
Shaking herself clear of the water, she displayed the unmistakable
outlines of a German _unterseeboot_, although no number was visible on
her grey conning-tower.

With remarkable celerity an officer and half a dozen seamen appeared
from below, while at the same time a quick-firer was raised from its
"housing", for’ard of the conning-tower, and trained upon the luckless

Steadily the U boat approached within hailing distance, then, making a
half-circle, slowed down on a parallel course to that of the smack.

"Fishing-boat ahoy!" shouted the German officer.  "Cut adrift your nets
and run alongside, or I’ll have to sink you."

Old Garge gave a gasp of astonishment and looked enquiringly at Jack

"Them nets cost a sight o’ money," he exclaimed ruefully.  "Now if I had
a gun----"

"Hurry, there!" came the stern mandate from the U boat.

"You’ll have to obey, I fancy," said the sub. "There’s no escape.
Perhaps they’ll let you off, as the smack is only a very small one.  If
you give them any lip they’ll cut up rough."

Deliberately Old Garge cut the trailing line of nets, bent the outward
part to a life-buoy and cast it overboard.  As he had remarked, nets
were expensive affairs, and he was not going to cut them adrift without
a means of recovering the gear should the Huns let him off lightly.

"Back your head-sails, Tim!" ordered the skipper, at the same time
putting the helm hard down and allowing the _Fidelity_ to come up
motionless into the wind, within a couple of yards of the bulging side
of the U boat.

"Throw us a line!" was the peremptory greeting.

Agilely a fair-haired unter-leutnant boarded the smack, followed by
three of his men.  Giving a cursory glance at the fish-well, he said
something in German to one of the seamen.  In less than a minute the
night’s haul had been transferred to the captor.

"Low-down robbers!" muttered Old Garge under his breath, but the
unter-leutnant caught the imprecation.

"Have a care," he said sternly, "or we sink your boat.  What these men?
You carry a large crew for a little ship, Captain."

"They are my men," declared Old Garge loyally.

"Perhaps," drawled the German, then, suddenly turning, he strode up to
Sefton and his brother.

"Hold your hand out!" he ordered.

Leslie sniggered.  In his opinion the uniformed Hun ought to have added
the words "Naughty boy".  The lad was enjoying the novel experience. His
one regret was that George Crosthwaite was not present to share in the

Critically the unter-leutnant examined Jack’s extended hand.  In spite
of the fact that it was discoloured with tar, and reeked of fish, the
sub’s hand showed that it belonged to a person not of the ordinary
working class.  The long, tapering fingers, manicured nails, and absence
of horny protuberances on the palm "gave him away".

"What is your name?" demanded the German.

"Smith," replied Sefton promptly.

Again the irritating, dubious, and speculative "Per-haps".  The sub
realized that he was in a tight corner.

"What this wound--how caused?" enquired the unter-leutnant, indicating
the white scar on the young officer’s wrist--the legacy of the affair
off Jutland.  "Ach!  Shell wound, hein?  You are of military age.  Stand

In spite of the brown jersey and the soiled serge trousers, the
keen-witted Hun had come to the correct conclusion, that the tall,
bronzed man was not a genuine smack hand.  Not satisfied with the
self-styled Smith’s replies, he decided to interrogate his companion.

"Your name?" he demanded of Leslie, with a fierceness that effectually
quenched all further inclination on the part of the youth to snigger.

"Smith, too," replied Leslie.  "He’s my brother."

Again a display of palmistry.  Leslie’s hands, though grubby, were also
unmistakably unused to rough work.

"How old?"


"You lie."

"On my word of honour," declared Leslie.

"No matter," rejoined the unter-leutnant.  "You old enough to fight.

A hail came from the U boat.  Herr Kapitan had mounted the platform in
the wake of the conning-tower and was calling attention to the mist that
was bearing down in detached patches. Already the rest of the
fishing-boats were lost to sight.

"You go on board there," continued the German unter-leutnant, indicating
the submarine.  Then, turning to Old Garge, he added:

"We let you go.  Too much trouble to sink your little fischer-boat, and
you have no skiff. Stop here one hour.  If you move or make signal, then
we return and blow you to pieces.  You onderstan’?"

Without condescending to notice Tim, who was watching the course of
events with wide-open eyes, the unter-leutnant signalled to the two
Seftons to board the submarine.  Then, followed by his men, the Hun
regained his own craft.

A minute later, with Jack and Leslie prisoners of war, the U boat slid
quietly beneath the surface.

Old Garge obeyed instructions until the tips of the periscopes vanished.
Then he began to gather in the mainsheet.

"Trim your heads’ls, Tim," he ordered.  "Us’ll be off as hard as we

"How about the nets, grandfer?" asked Tim.

"Can bide," declared the old man as the _Fidelity_, gathering way, sped
to give the alarm that another U boat had been active in the Channel.

Three-quarters of an hour later, the smack ran alongside one of the
patrol-boats operating in Christchurch Bay, and reported the incident.
Quickly the news was wirelessed, and a regular fleet of swift
motor-boats was soon upon the scene, while overhead a couple of
sea-planes hovered, in the hope of detecting the shadow of the U boat
against the white sandy bottom.

But in vain.  The unter-leutnant’s threat that he purposed remaining in
the vicinity for an hour was a mere piece of bluff.  Without loss of
time, the submarine was running at her maximum submerged speed in a
south-westerly direction, intent upon putting as great a distance as
possible between her and the hornets whose activities had already taken
a heavy toll from these modern pirates of the Black Cross Ensign.

U99 was one of the most recent type of _unterseebooten_. Possessing a
great radius of action, she combined the roles of mine-layer and
submerged torpedo-craft.  She was one of nine detailed for operations in
the English Channel, and, since the passage through the Straits of Dover
had long been regarded as "unhealthy" by the German Admiralty, the
flotilla had been ordered to proceed and return via the Faroe Isles and
the west coast of Ireland.

Although the U99 had disposed of her cargo of mines without
mishap--several of the German submarines having been "hoist with their
own petards"--her efforts had not met with marked success.  Beyond
torpedoing a tramp, and sinking another by gun-fire, she had failed to
carry out the work of frightfulness that had been expected of her.
Having exhausted her stock of torpedoes, and making only one effective
hit, she was on her way home.

After three hours of terrible suspense, when she found herself enmeshed
in a net somewhere off the back of the Wight--a predicament from which
she freed herself by means of the specially-devised wire-cutters on her
bows--U99 was forced to come up for a breather early in the morning.
Provisions were running short, and the sight of the solitary
fishing-smack tempted her commander to investigate, with the result that
Sub-lieutenant Sefton and his brother found themselves in the unenviable
position of prisoners in the hands of the enemy. More, they were cooped
up in a wretched U boat, faced with the possibility of being hunted by
their fellow-countrymen and consigned to Davy Jones in the undesirable
company of a crew of piratical Huns.

No wonder that Jack felt like kicking himself for having embarked upon
the ill-starred voyage in the smack _Fidelity_.

"Yes, by Jove!" he muttered.  "Here’s a pretty kettle of fish--and the
lid on with a vengeance."


During the first hour of their captivity Jack Sefton and his brother
were left alone, locked in a narrow, ill-lighted compartment in the
after part of the submarine.  Overhead they could hear the ceaseless
clank of the steering-gear, while the crowded space within the hull
echoed to the noisy clatter of the propelling machinery.

Outwardly calm, the sub was raging furiously. Yielding to his sense of
discretion, and realizing the importance of reassuring his young
brother, he made a brave show at keeping up his spirits.  On several
occasions he had found himself in a tight corner, but now there was the
humiliation of being captured in a most ignominious fashion, without
being able to raise a hand in self-defence.

"Upon my word!" he remarked.  "Really, Leslie, you will have something
to remember. Experiences like this don’t fall to the lot of many
youngsters, you know."

"More exciting than that scrap on Blackstone," rejoined Leslie.  "Even
George would have to admit that.  Makes a fellow feel quite bucked.  But
what do they intend doing with us, I wonder?"

"Events will prove that," replied the sub gravely. "Recollect that we
have to conceal our identity as much as possible.  These chaps must not
be allowed to find out that I am a naval officer.  Hark!"

A rasping sound, as the bolt securing the door was shot back,
interrupted the conversation before Sefton had time to mature his
immediate plans. The metal panel slid open and a petty officer appeared
and spoke rapidly in German.

Drowned by the noise of the machinery, the words were inaudible, but by
the man’s gestures the prisoners clearly understood that they had to
follow him.  Along a narrow, steel-enclosed passage, then through a maze
of intricate machinery, the sub and his brother were conducted, until
they found themselves in a small cabin almost immediately underneath the
grating that formed the floor of the raised conning-tower.

"You will at once take off your clothes," ordered the petty officer.

At this unexpected command the brothers looked at each other in
surprise.  The order could not be ignored, despite its apparent
inconsequence. However unwilling to submit to the indignity, the
prisoners obeyed promptly.

Under the stern glare of the German petty officer, Jack Sefton stripped
off his brown jersey, shirt, and singlet.

"Rough luck!" he muttered.  "Now these brutes will tumble to it; my name
is marked on each of these garments."

Which was exactly what the Huns were intent upon finding out, for,
giving a keen glance at the tell-tale lettering, the petty officer
without waiting for the rest of the disrobing process made his way aft.

Sefton was not long left in doubt, for presently an officer in uniform
corresponding to that of a lieutenant-commander entered the cabin.

"So!" he exclaimed triumphantly, as he thumbed the pages of a British
Navy List.  "We fine bag have made.  ’Sefton, John B. G.’  That not the
same as Smith, hein?"

The sub vouchsafed no remark.  He felt horribly humiliated by his
position and by the easy manner in which he had been bowled out.  Also,
he realized that now the chances of the prisoners being set on board a
passing vessel had been entirely knocked on the head.

"We take you back to Zhermany," continued the kapitan of the submarine.
"Day after to-morrow we land you at Wilhelmshaven at exactly nine

The day after to-morrow--at nine o’clock.  That would be Monday, and at
that hour Sefton was due for "divisions" at Portsmouth Naval Barracks.
The irony of his position ate into his soul.

"If not, you will be a corpse at the bottom of the sea," rejoined the
German pointedly.  "Now get your clothes on, and take good care to
yourselves behave."

The kapitan quitted the cabin, leaving Sefton and his brother to resume
their garments.  This they did in silence, for Leslie had noticed his
brother’s despondency and chagrin.

Except for the periods when they were ordered forward for meals, the
prisoners were left severely alone.  Of the passing of time they had but
a remote idea, since the sub had wisely left his watch ashore before
proceeding on the ill-starred trip in the _Fidelity_.  Certain it was
that, for nearly twelve hours, U99 remained submerged, running on her
electric power.

Then she rose to the surface.  The petrol engines were coupled up, and
at an increased speed the submarine proceeded, in what direction Sefton
had no idea.  Without means of consulting a compass, and confined below,
he was in total ignorance of the vessel’s course.

At length, dead-tired, for neither of the twain had slept the previous
night, Jack and Leslie threw themselves down on the floor.  There was no
need for bedding.  The heat of the confined space was too oppressive for
that.  For a long while the sub tossed uneasily on his hard couch,
finally dropping off into a fitful slumber.

He was awakened by a seaman shaking him vigorously.  For some moments he
was unable to realize his surroundings.  Sleeping in the hot and almost
fetid air had benumbed his brain.  He felt fuddled, his eyes seemed
strained and dim, his throat burned painfully.

"On deck for exercise," ordered the man, speaking in German.

Sefton staggered to his feet, feeling stiff and cramped in his limbs.
Leslie was still asleep, and when disturbed took even longer than his
brother to be fully aroused.

"By Jove," thought the sub, "if the crew are all like this, early morn
is the time to catch them napping!  Well, here goes."

The two captives followed their jailer through an oval-shaped hatchway,
gaining the deck by means of a steel ladder.

Lounging on the long, narrow platform were more than a dozen men, some
stretched upon their backs, others lying with their heads pillowed upon
their arms, but in every case one hand was outstretched to grasp the
stanchions.  The precaution was necessary, for the boat was floundering
heavily in the long, sullen rollers.

Instinctively Sefton gave a glance in the direction of the sun.  It was
now broad daylight.  The orb of day, high in the heavens, betokened the
fact that it was approaching the hour of noon.  By the direction of the
shadows cast upon the deck, it was now apparent that the U boat’s course
was a little east of north.  Away on the starboard hand was a seemingly
interminable range of frowning cliffs, the nearmost being but two or
three miles distant. They were the rock-bound shores of Donegal.

Holding Leslie tightly by the arm, for the lad was not accustomed to the
Atlantic swell, Sefton marched him up and down the deck between the
after end of the conning-tower and the stern. Although the limited
promenade was still further curtailed by the prone bodies of the crew,
the latter paid no attention to the two prisoners.

On the platform surrounding the conning-tower was the unter-leutnant who
had ordered their arrest.  Scanning the horizon with his binoculars, he,
too, seemed indifferent to the presence of the two Englishmen.  With
him, and stationed at a small wheel in the wake of a binnacle, was a
quartermaster.  The conning-tower hatchway was closed, owing possibly to
the spray that literally swept the fore part of the submarine, and was
flung high over the domed top of the "brain of the ship".

"Where are we now?" asked Leslie.

"Off the Irish coast," replied his brother.

"Wish one of our destroyers would put in an appearance," remarked Leslie

The sub made no audible reply.  His views upon the matter, based upon
actual experience, told him pretty plainly that the captain of a British
war-ship would not be likely to ascertain whether there were compatriots
on board the craft he purposed to destroy.  Also, there had been fully
authenticated cases of the Huns locking the prisoners down below before
they abandoned the sinking ship. Sefton did not mind running legitimate
risks in action, but he had a strong objection to being "done in" by
British guns.

His reveries were interrupted by a shrill whistle from the
conning-tower.  Instantly the somnolent men were roused into activity.
In less than thirty seconds Sefton and his brother were tumbled below,
the decks were cleared, and the hatches closed.

By the inclination of the floor of the compartment that served as a cell
Sefton realized that the U boat was diving.  Almost at the same time
there was a muffled detonation as a 12-pounder shell, fired from a
destroyer at a distance of 7500 yards, exploded immediately above the
spot where the submarine had disappeared.

"Good heavens, she holed!" ejaculated the sub, as the U boat quivered
and dipped to an alarming angle.  Momentarily he expected to hear, above
the rattle of the machinery, the irresistible inrush of water and the
shrieks of the doomed crew.

But in this he was mistaken.  The nearness of the explosion of the shell
had urged upon the submarine’s kapitan the necessity for haste.
Thrusting the diving-planes hard down, he caused the U boat to dive with
unusual abruptness, never bringing the vessel upon an even keel until
she had descended to a depth of twelve fathoms.

The rest of the day was passed in utter monotony as far as the prisoners
were concerned.  Although it was two hours before the U boat dared to
expose the tips of her periscopes above the surface, the greater part of
the day was spent in running submerged.

Towards evening U99 ascended, and, altering course, stood in pursuit of
a small tramp.  After a short chase, for the former had the advantage of
15 knots in speed, the submarine approached sufficiently near to be able
to fire a shot close to her quarry.

Almost immediately the tramp slowed down and hoisted American colours.
It did not take U99 long to range up alongside, and the unterleutnant
and half a dozen seamen proceeded on board.

The prize was a Yankee, bound from Boston to Liverpool with a cargo of
warlike stores. According to arrangements, she should have been met and
escorted by a patrol vessel; but, although the latter was hourly
expected, something had occurred to delay her.

"We’ll have to sink you," declared the German officer.

The "old man"--a typical New Englander--shrugged his shoulders.

"Wal, I reckon yer can," he replied coolly.

"You don’t seem concerned by the fact."

"Not I, stranger.  This hyer ship an’ cargo is jest insured up to the
hilt in ’The Narragut Marine Assurance Company’.  An’ since the bulk of
the shareholders are Huns--wal, I guess it’s ’nuff said."

"Ach!  Then I suppose I must let you go," exclaimed the baffled German
officer.  "If you fall in with any British war-vessels you might tell
them that we have two Englishmen on board."

"Maybe you’d care to let us give ’em a passage?" hazarded the Boston

"If that had been our intention we should have done so without asking a
favour," rejoined the unter-leutnant.

"Perhaps you would care to examine the ship’s papers?" enquired the
master.  His keen eyes had detected a small, swiftly moving object on
the horizon--the expected patrol boat.  Cap’n Hiram Goslow, although a
tough Republican, was quite in sympathy with the Allies.  On previous
voyages he had fallen foul of the Huns, and the treatment he had
received still rankled.  "Maybe you aren’t quite satisfied about the
’Narragut Marine Assurance Company’ stunt?"

For the next half-minute the fate of U99 with all on board trembled in
the balance.  The unterleutnant, only too pleased to have the
opportunity of finding a flaw in Captain Goslow’s statement, was about
to accept the invitation, when a warning shout from the kapitan of the U
boat brought the boarding-party scrambling on board with the utmost

To the accompaniment of a chorus of jeers and laughter from the American
crew, the submarine submerged and was lost to sight.

Although Jack Sefton and his brother were in ignorance of the precise
nature of the meeting with the tramp and the imperturbable Captain
Goslow, they knew by the unwonted noises and the shutting-down of the
motors that something had transpired. The sudden closing of the
hatchways, and the hasty dive taken, told the sub that once again the
ceaseless vigilance of the British navy had been responsible for a bad
quarter of an hour for the Germans.

The kapitan’s boast to the effect that his prisoners would be landed at
Wilhelmshaven at nine o’clock was an empty one.  Wildly exciting
moments, when the U boat found herself foul of a maze of steel nets,
delayed her progress, until at length U99 arrived at a position
forty-five miles N.N.W. of Heligoland.

Here a wireless message was received, the purport of which was not
hailed with any degree of enthusiasm by the weary and almost exhausted
crew.  They were on the point of completing a fortnight’s cruise of
strenuous discomfort, physical exertion, and mental strain.  Now,
instead of proceeding to Wilhelmshaven for a period of recuperation,
they were ordered to make for a certain rendezvous and await the
submarine depot-ship _Kondor_.

Officers and crew knew what this meant.  Heavy losses amongst the German
_unterseebooten_ flotillas had necessitated the U99 being pressed into
an extension of present service.  She was to replenish stores and
torpedoes, and to be attached to the submarine flotilla operating with
the High Seas Fleet. Evidently another big movement was contemplated in
the North Sea.

Something had to be done to bolster up the rapidly crumbling tissue of
lies by which the German Admiralty had gulled the Teutonic world. Never
in the history of naval warfare had a victorious fleet been compelled to
remain inactive in its home ports beyond the period necessary for
revictualling, replenishing of warlike stores, and making defects good.
Nine weeks or more had elapsed since the glorious victory off Jutland,
and still the Hun fleet clung tenaciously to its moorings.  Even the
fat-headed burghers who frequented the _bier-gartens_ of Berlin began to
realize that the crushing defeat of the British in the North Sea had not
resulted in any increase of provisions or in the abolition of the hated
food tickets.

There was a fly in the ointment.  Steps had to be taken to counteract
its baneful influence.

Almost in desperation, several German Dreadnoughts, accompanied by light
cruisers and destroyers, emerged from the Heligoland Bight. Amongst them
were the _Westfalen_ and _Nassau_, sister ships, whose scars received in
the Jutland fight had been hurriedly patched up in the Wilhelmshaven
dockyards.  Escorted by several Zeppelins, the Hun fleet steamed
westward--not to give battle, but to make an attempt to copy Beatty’s
incomparable strategy.

Night was falling when U99 made fast alongside the _Kondor_.  She was
not alone.  In the vicinity were a dozen or more _unterseebooten_ of a
similar type, awaiting wireless orders from the giant airship that was
scouting fifty miles or so in the direction of the shores of Great

"Up on deck!" ordered the petty officer in whose particular charge the
two Seftons had been placed.

The sub and his brother obeyed promptly.  Had they lingered, their
movements would have been accelerated by a kick from the Hun’s heavy

The transformation from the artificially-lighted compartment to the
rapidly gathering night made it impossible for Sefton to take in his
surroundings until his eyes grew accustomed to the gloom.  At first he
was under the impression that the submarine was berthed in harbour,
until he discerned the towering outlines of the sea-going depot-ship and
the absence of wharves and buildings.

Far away to the eastward the horizon was streaked with the
rapidly-moving search-lights of a large fleet.  The skyward-directed
rays were a direct challenge to Beatty’s squadrons.  In unlike
conditions to those of the Jutland battle, the Huns made no attempt to
steal off under cover of darkness.  They had a set purpose in exposing
their position to the British fleet.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Sefton.  "The Huns are out again.  What’s the game
this time?"

He glanced westward, half expecting to see the misty outlines of the
Grand Fleet silhouetted against the last faint streak of crimson on the
horizon, but the sky-line was unbroken.

"Hurry, pigs of Englishmen!" ordered the German petty officer,
indicating a "Jacob’s ladder" that hung from the side of the _Kondor_.
"We have had enough of you.  Soon you will see----"  He stopped
abruptly, fearing that his words might be overheard by the grim kapitan
of the submarine.

Agilely Leslie ascended the swaying rope-ladder, the sub following close
behind in case the inexperienced lad should lose his hold.  But young
Sefton acquitted himself wonderfully.  The Huns had no chance of a laugh
at his expense.

Contrary to their expectations, the two prisoners were not conducted
below.  With an armed seaman standing behind them they were stationed on
the raised poop, from whence they could see as much of the operations as
the feeble light permitted.

Promptly hoses were coupled up, pumping volumes of petrol into U99’s
tanks.  Fully charged accumulators were hoisted out and lowered down the
submarine’s after hatchway, while the for’ard hatch was opened to
receive a dozen large torpedoes closely approaching the British 21-inch

At midnight a wireless operator handed the kapitan of the _Kondor_ a
message, the text of which caused the officer to issue a string of
orders. Quickly the hawsers securing the submarine to the depot-ship
were cast off, and U99, forging slowly ahead, picked up her station in
line with the rest of the flotilla.  Then, at a given signal, the
submarines proceeded in a north-westerly direction, while the _Kondor_
steamed toward the invisible German battleships.

At this stage of the proceedings, Sefton and his brother were ordered
below, and placed in a cell on the orlop deck, twelve feet or more below
the waterline.  In utter darkness, for even the luxury of a single light
was denied them, they sat, listening to the plash of the waves against
the side, until sleep came as a welcome relief to the strain of the day.

Several times the sub awoke with a start.  A nightmare gripped him.
Normally strong nerved, the cramped and dark cell, and the almost
certain fate that awaited him should the _Kondor_ be sunk, filled him
with vague terrors.  In vain he tried to rally himself.  The ordeal of
the shell-swept bridge of the _Calder_ seemed as naught compared with
the gruesome atmosphere of the below-water-line prison.

The hours wore on, but the unexpected torpedo attack was not
forthcoming.  No thunder of guns broke the almost uncanny silence.  No
longer the waves dashed themselves against the side plating of the hull.
Only a sullen, rolling motion and the faint tremor of the twin propeller
shafting betokened the fact that the vessel was still under way.

CHAPTER XXII--The British Submarines at Work

A succession of long-drawn hoarse cheering aroused both Seftons from
their light sleep.  Leslie’s outstretched hands came in contact with his
brother’s face, for, in the utter darkness, only the senses of touch and
speech made the twain aware of each other’s presence.

"What’s that noise, Jack?"

"Only the crew getting excited about something," replied the sub
inconsequently.  At the same time, he felt pretty certain that something
in the nature of a successful naval engagement had been responsible for
the outburst of noisy enthusiasm on the part of the German crew.

He was not left long in doubt, for the door of the cell was thrown open
and a seaman bearing a lantern ordered the prisoners to follow him.

Arriving on the upper deck, the sub discovered that the _Kondor_ had
undergone a transformation. Everything that denoted her part as a fleet
auxiliary had disappeared.  Aft she flew Swedish colours, and a
distinctive band encircled her wall sides, with the words:
"Gefle--Sverige" conspicuously displayed.  Most of the crew had
discarded their German uniform, and were rigged out in the cosmopolitan
gear usually favoured by merchant seamen.

The crew had ceased cheering, but by their bearing it was quite evident
that they were still labouring under the excitement of good news.

Pointing to a notice pinned to a board on the main hatchway, around
which several men still lingered, the seaman, who had been told off to
guard the prisoners, indicated that his charges should acquaint
themselves with the information.

"What’s it all about, Jack?" asked Leslie.

The message was the copy of a wireless report to the effect that German
submarines had been successful in torpedoing two British cruisers of the
"Chatham" class.

"Do you think it’s true?" asked young Sefton anxiously, when the sub had
translated the report.

"It may be a case of exaggeration," was the reply.  "Of course, it is
possible.  At any rate, don’t let these fellows see we are down-hearted.
Keep a stiff upper lip, old sport."

Turning their backs upon the distasteful notice-board, the two prisoners
strolled to the side, their guard following but making no attempt to
prevent them.

The _Kondor_ was not alone.  About two miles on the starboard hand, and
steaming rapidly, were the two Dreadnoughts that Sefton had noticed on
the previous day.  Behind were three light cruisers, while, still
farther astern, six sea-going torpedo-boats were tearing along in that
close formation beloved of German torpedo-flotilla officers.

As the flagship passed, she threw out a signal to the disguised
_Kondor_, which was quickly acknowledged. At the relative rates of
speed, it was certain that the battleships were overhauling the pseudo
_Gefle_ hand over fist.

Sub-lieutenant Sefton was witnessing part of the strategy of the German
High Seas Fleet.  It had ventured out with the express intention of
luring Beatty’s squadron in pursuit, knowing that the gallant Beatty
would not decline the challenge. But, with admirable discretion, the
British admiral made no effort to send the swift battle-cruisers in
pursuit, merely contenting himself by ordering the light cruisers and
destroyer flotillas to keep in touch with the retreating Huns.

There were risks of mines and torpedoes, but these were unavoidable.  By
keeping well out of the wake of the German ships, the danger of bumping
over a hastily dropped mine was obviated, while a quick use of the helm
would enable the swift cruisers to minimize the chances of successful
submarine attack.

In the early hours, the British light-cruisers and destroyers
encountered the _unterseebooten_ purposely detailed by von Hipper to
intercept the pursuing vessels.  Three, at least, of the German
submarines were sent to the bottom by gun-fire or by use of the ram;
but, unfortunately, the _Falmouth_ and _Nottingham_ fell victims to
torpedo attack.

Even as Sefton was watching the retreating warships, a column of water
was thrown high in the air close to the port quarter of the German
Dreadnought _Westfalen_.  Before the muffled roar of the explosion was
borne to his ears, the sub saw the huge battleship reel under the
terrific blow.

Regardless of the consequences, he cheered lustily; but, thrown into a
state of consternation by the magnitude of the disaster to one of their
capital ships, the crew of the _Kondor_ made no attempt to hurl the rash
Englishman to the deck.

Spellbound, they watched the throes of the stricken Dreadnought, to
whose assistance the six German destroyers were making at full speed.
As for the rest of the German battleships and cruisers, they steamed off
as hard as they could, lest a like fate should befall them.

The _Kondor_ slowed down and stood by, making no effort to close to the
aid of the torpedoed ship, while two destroyers circled aimlessly in a
vain search for the daring British submarine.

Then, very slowly, under her own steam, the _Westfalen_, with a heavy
list, crawled toward the distant German shore, the four destroyers in
her wake ready to rush alongside, and rescue the battleship’s crew,
should the vessel founder.

"Think they’ll get her back to port?" Leslie asked excitedly.

"’Fraid so," replied his brother.  "She shows no signs of an increasing
list.  A lot depends upon the condition of her bulkheads.  When the

Before the sub could complete the sentence, another cloud of smoke and
water shot up alongside the damaged battleship.  Lurching heavily, this
time to starboard, the _Westfalen_ was hidden from sight by a dense
volume of steam and smoke from her engine-rooms.

The attacking submarine had evidently meant to see the job done
properly.  Mindful of the risk of being sent to the bottom by the
attendant German destroyers, the British craft had stealthily exposed
her periscope for a brief instant, yet sufficient for her to send a
deadly torpedo on its errand of destruction.

By this time the crew of the _Kondor_ had come to the conclusion that
their prisoners had seen much more than was desirable.  Peremptorily
Jack and Leslie were ordered below.  The latter, unable to restrain his
delight, pointed mockingly at the boastful writing on the notice-board,
receiving a brutal kick on his shins for his temerity.

"I don’t mind, Jack," remarked Leslie, when, left alone by their
captors, the sub examined the angry abrasion on his brother’s leg.  "I’d
let them give me another hack without a murmur if I could see another
German battleship go the same way home."

After a long interval, a meal consisting of very dry tinned meat and
hunks of black bread was provided for the famished prisoners, the
unpalatable food being washed down with a pannikin of warm and insipid

The unappetizing repast over, the two prisoners were again allowed on
deck.  By this time there were no signs either of the stricken
battleship or her attendant destroyers.  The _Kondor_, alone on the wide
North Sea, was steaming at about 12 knots on an easterly course.  The
rest of the crew had by now discarded their German uniforms.  There was
nothing to denote that the vessel had ever sailed under the Black Cross
Ensign of the Imperial German Navy.

Suddenly, and right in the frothing wake of the _Kondor_, appeared two
pole-like objects--the periscopes of a submarine.  Then, without the
hesitancy generally displayed by _unterseebooten_ when about to attack a
merchantman, a British submarine of the "E" class shook her
conning-tower and deck clear of the water.  Her hatches were flung open,
and a number of duffel-clad seamen appeared.  Quickly a light
signalling-mast was set up, from which two flags fluttered in the

There was no mistaking the meaning of that yellow square flag with the
black ball, hoisted above a triangular blue pennant with a white spot.
As plainly as if a shot had been fired across the _Kondor’s_ bows, the
signal "ID" told her to "stop instantly or I will fire into you".
Besides, it saved ammunition, and the lieutenant-commander of the
submarine did not consider the prize worth powder and shot.

But the German skipper was not a man to own that the game was up without
making an effort to save himself and his ship.  A stumbling-block in his
way was Jack Sefton and his brother.

At a sign four burly Huns threw themselves upon the prisoners.  For a
full minute the sub resisted stoutly, while Leslie put up a tough
struggle against odds.  Others of the crew came to their compatriots’
aid, and, still struggling, the two captives were taken below and locked
in the cell in the for’ard hold.


"There’s a bit of a dust-up on board, sir," reported Sub-lieutenant
Devereux of Submarine E--, as the British craft steadily overhauled the
_Kondor_, whose engines had already been stopped in response to the
peremptory signal.  "Fellows scrapping like billy-ho. I can just see
their heads at intervals above the taffrail."

"They can scrap as much as they like while they have the chance,"
remarked Lieutenant-Commander Huxtable grimly.  "You know your
instructions, Mr. Devereux?  Any rumpus, then signal us, and we’ll give
them our last torpedo."

A canvas collapsible boat had been brought up from below, and in this
the boarding-officer and five seamen, all armed, took their places.
Both the _Kondor_ and the submarine were almost without way, lying at
two cables’-lengths apart, E--’s two quick-firers covering the prize as
the boat made for the German vessel.

Devereux was received with well-feigned affability by the soi-disant
Swedish skipper, a politeness that the sub thought fit to reciprocate,
at least for the present.

But when Devereux had examined the supposed _Gefle’s_ papers his manner
underwent a change.

"Thanks for letting me see them, Herr Kapitan," he remarked, "but now I
must ask you to order your crew below and consider yourself a prisoner
of war.  I warn you that at any attempt at resistance your ship will be
sent to the bottom."

"But----," began the astonished Hun.  "I--I do not understand.  This
Swedish merchant-ship. You mistake make."

"Perhaps," drawled the sub.  "If I have, I’ll take full responsibility.
If you can satisfactorily explain to the British naval authorities why
you were surrounded by Hun submarines yesterday, why you supplied them
with munitions of war, why you were then His Imperial Majesty’s ship
_Kondor_, and why you are now the s.s. _Gefle_----."

"Donnerwetter!" ejaculated the German skipper furiously, then, before
Devereux could interpose, he dashed out of the chart-house and shouted
to one of the officers stationed aft.

Almost immediately a muffled explosion was heard, and the _Kondor_,
giving a violent shudder, began to settle by the stern.  Rather than
surrender, their captain had given orders for a bomb to be exploded in
the after hold.

"We have cheated you, Englishman!" he exclaimed in a shrill falsetto.

There was a wild rush for the boats.  Hastily those in davits were
lowered, with the result that one was capsized, while in the confusion a
German seaman leapt headlong into the submarine’s collapsible boat and
overturned it.

To do him credit, the kapitan made no attempt to quit the bridge.
Regarding the British officer with a leer of triumph, he waited while
the panic-stricken men got clear of the doomed ship.

Meanwhile, having witnessed the swamping of her dinghy, E--had
approached with the intention of taking off her boarding-party.

"What’s that?" exclaimed Devereux, as, during a temporary lull in the
clamour, the sound of a voice appealing for help was borne to his ears.
The words were shouted in unmistakable English.

"Someone cooped up down below, sir," declared one of the submarine’s

Devereux looked enquiringly at the German skipper of the _Kondor_.  The
latter too had heard the shout.  The self-assurance and air of
contemptuous indifference faded instantly.

"You murderous swine!" ejaculated the sub. "What dirty game have you
been up to?  Come along down below with me."

The Hun, trembling violently, clung desperately to the bridge rail.  The
risk of going below and being taken down by the sinking ship was nothing
compared with the fear of a just retribution.

It was not a suitable occasion for arguing the point.  Devereux, a huge,
loose-limbed fellow, was a giant beside the little, podgy Hun.

Wrenching the kapitan’s hand from the rail, Devereux dropped him to the
deck like a sack of flour, then, skipping down the bridge ladder, he
picked him up and carried him, screaming and struggling, down the

Guided by the sounds, the sub bore his captive for’ard, two of the
submarine’s crew following their youthful officer.

Already the stern of the _Kondor_ was almost level with the water, while
her decks inclined at a steep angle.  Above the noise of the inrushing
water and the hiss of escaping steam, could be heard the now frantic
appeal for help.

At the door of the cell Devereux was confronted by a grave problem.  The
place was locked, and the kapitan, asserting truthfully that he did not
possess a key, was clamouring incoherently that the mistake in
overlooking the fact that there were prisoners below was not his, but
that of some of his subordinates.

"Stand aside there!" shouted Devereux to the inmates of the cell.

Whipping out his revolver he sent a bullet crashing through the lock,
then, heedless of the cry of agony that came from the German skipper, he
charged the splintered door with his shoulder.

In the half light he was dimly aware that two people were scrambling
between the debris.

"Any more?" he asked.

"No," was the reply, as the two rescued men, assisted by the sailors,
reeled along the sloping alley-way to the ladder.

Having seen the would-be victims of German _Kultur_ safely on their way
to the upper deck, Devereux realized that it was quite time to make good
his own escape, for the water was beginning to surge for’ard along the
sombre orlop deck.  As he turned to make his way aft he became aware
that the kapitan, moaning dismally, was staggering in the opposite
direction, whence there was no outlet.

"Where are you off to, you blithering idiot?" shouted the young officer.

In a couple of strides he overtook the Hun, gripped him round the waist,
and carried him on deck.  Then, to his surprise, Devereux found that the
kapitan’s face was streaming with blood.  A sliver of lead from the
bullet that had demolished the lock of the cell had struck him in the
right eye, completely destroying the optic nerve.

"Can’t say I feel sorry for you," thought the sub-lieutenant,
recollections of the cold-blooded cruelty of the Hun vividly in his
mind.  Nevertheless, still holding the injured skipper, he leapt
overboard, whither the rest of the boarding-party had preceded him.

Strong as he was, Devereux had a hard tussle to swim to the submarine.
Caught by vicious eddies, swirled to and fro like a straw on the surface
of a mountain torrent, he was almost exhausted when hauled into safety.

Giving a glance over his shoulder as he was assisted to the deck of his
own craft, Devereux saw that the _Kondor_ was making her last plunge.
Throwing her bluff bows high in the air, she disappeared in a smother of
foam and a pall of black smoke mingled with steam.

Then, to his surprise, upon going aft to report to his commanding
officer, Devereux found Huxtable shaking, like a pump-handle, the hand
of one of the men he had rescued.

"By Jove!" exclaimed the astonished Devereux. "Blest if we haven’t----!
Why, it’s Sefton!"

"Guilty, m’lud!" replied that worthy.

"And Crosthwaite--he wasn’t on that hooker?" asked Devereux anxiously.

"No, thank heaven," replied Sefton fervently. "He’s still in hospital.
This is my young brother. I’ve got to blame him for this business, the
young rascal.  It was a narrow squeak for the pair of us."

"It was," assented Huxtable gravely.  "We spotted the _Kondor_ yesterday
and kept her under observation."

"Then you bagged that Hun battleship?" enquired Sefton.

"No, worse luck," replied the lieutenant-commander of E--.  "She altered
helm just as we were having a shot at her, and some other fellows did
the trick.  Mustn’t complain, though.  We are all members of the same
co-operative society in the trade.  The _Kondor’s_ crew?  A few hours in
the boats won’t hurt them, and I’ll wireless our destroyers. They are
too villainous a crew to slip out of our hands.  Come below, old man,
and we’ll rig the pair of you out in dry kit.  With luck, you ought to
be in Pompey again within twenty-four hours."


Pacing the diminutive quarter-deck of H.M.T.B.D. _Boanerges_, as she
swung to the first of the flood-tide, were two naval officers.  It was
too dark to distinguish their features, even in the red glow of their

Three months had elapsed since the desperate struggle on Blackstone
Edge.  The _Boanerges_, a brand-new destroyer recently delivered from
the Clyde, had just commissioned at Portsmouth for service with the
Grand Fleet.

"My dear Boxspanner," remarked the taller of the twain, "I’ve come to
the conclusion that life ashore isn’t worth the candle.  In common
parlance, I’m fed up.  The last straw is the abominable petrol tax.
Just fancy, the blighters allow me two gallons a month----"

"You weren’t on leave for more than three weeks, Pills," interrupted the

"Just so; that’s the rub.  I could have done with a three months’
allowance, and used the lot in a week.  By the way, talking of that new

"Boat ahoy!" came a hoarse hail from the fo’c’sle as the lynx-eyed
look-out detected a dark object approaching under oars towards the

"Aye, aye!" was the orthodox reply, given in clear, decisive tones.

The boat was brought smartly alongside the accommodation-ladder, and a
young officer came briskly over the side.  Jack Sefton, "sub" no longer
but a full-fledged "luff", as the two gold rings, surmounted by a curl,
on each of his sleeves denoted.

"Well?" enquired Boxspanner eagerly.  "Have you seen Crosthwaite?"

"Saw him this afternoon," was the reply. "Passed the medical board with
flying colours. He’s reported fit for duty on the 8th."

"Good business!" ejaculated Stirling fervently.

"And," continued Sefton, "I’m in the know. Our owner’s due for
promotion.  He’ll be given a light cruiser; and unless I’m very much
mistaken we’ll have Crosthwaite as our skipper before long."

"Quartermaster!" said Sefton, as he turned to descend the

"Sir," replied that worthy, already known to our readers as Thomas
Brown, A.B., but now a promising petty officer.

"See that I am turned out at 5.45."

"Aye, aye, sir."

The three officers disappeared below.  The quartermaster smiled grimly
as the faint words of the chorus of "They don’t run corridor cars on our
branch line" caught his ear, followed by an emphatic "Chuck it, old

"Proper jonnick they are, every mother’s son of ’em," muttered P.O.
Brown, as he walked for’ard. "Chaps as us fellows would go through ’ell
with, if we ain’t done so already," his thought reverting to that
memorable action in the North Sea when the Huns fled before Jellicoe’s
armed might.

And thus we say "Adieu," or perhaps "Au revoir," to three gallant
gentlemen who had so worthily played their parts in upholding the honour
of the White Ensign with Beatty off Jutland.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "With Beatty off Jutland - A Romance of the Great Sea Fight" ***

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