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Title: Frank Forester - A Story of the Dardanelles
Author: Strang, Herbert
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 "Frank Forester - A Story of the Dardanelles" ***

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[Illustration: Cover]



[Illustration: IN TWO MINDS  (_See page_ 40)]



                             FRANK FORESTER

                      _A STORY OF THE DARDANELLES_


                                   BY

                             HERBERT STRANG



                      _ILLUSTRATED BY CYRUS CUNEO_

                                 LONDON
                              HENRY FROWDE
                          HODDER AND STOUGHTON



                        _First printed in_ 1915



                                CONTENTS


CHAP.

I  A MEETING IN THE HILLS
II  CONCERNING A CARPET
III  DISTURBERS OF TRAFFIC
IV  THE COMING STORM
V  UNDER ARREST
VI  RIGOUR
VII  TEMPTATION
VIII  A LEAP IN THE DARK
IX  A REHEARSAL
X  A BRITISH SHELL
XI  DANGER
XII  IN THE HILLS
XIII  SHARING A SEPULCHRE
XIV  ’A CHIEL AMANG THEM’
XV  OUT OF ACTION
XVI  TWO MEN IN A LAUNCH
XVII  THROUGH THE NARROWS
XVIII  THE LANDING AT ANZAC
XIX  A TIGHT CORNER
XX  FISHING
XXI  IN A RING FENCE
XXII  THE HOLY MEN
XXIII  CAPTURING A SUBMARINE
XXIV  V.C.



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


IN TWO MINDS . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_ (_see page_ 40)

AT THE POINT OF DESPAIR

MAP OF THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE GALLIPOLI PENINSULA

THE FIGHT IN THE GULLY

A CRITICAL MOMENT



                               CHAPTER I

                         A MEETING IN THE HILLS


One afternoon in July 1914, a party of five men was making its way
slowly through a defile in the hills of Armenia.  The singular verb is
strictly appropriate, for the five men kept close together, always in
the same order, and, being mounted, might have appeared to a distant
observer almost as one monstrous many-legged creature, hideously shaped.

At a nearer view, however, the spectator would probably have been
interested in the various composition of the party, and in certain
picturesque elements pertaining to its individual members.  The
foremost, preceding the rest by three parts of the length of his grey
horse, was a study in colour. A black turban surmounted a
copper-coloured face, the most striking feature of which was a thin
aquiline nose hooked at the extremity, with finely arched nostrils, and
a deep dent between bushy brows out of which gleamed sloe-black eyes.
On either side of his nose streamed a long, black, fiercely twirled
moustache, and his shaven chin stuck out with a sort of aggressive
powerfulness.  A blue tunic clothed him from shoulders to waist, where
he was girt with a red sash bristling with a dagger, a long knife, and
several pistols.  Baggy white trousers were tucked into long red boots
fitted with large spurs.  In his right hand he held a long bamboo lance,
from which dangled a number of black balls.

The two men who rode behind him, the necks of their horses level with
the buttocks of his, were not so picturesque.  On the right was a young
Englishman of about twenty years, whose clean-shaven face was ruddy with
health and exposure to the weather, and whose grey-blue eyes were shaded
from the sun by the peak of a white pith helmet.  He wore white drill,
with a leather belt, and brown riding boots.  His companion, a slight,
sallow-faced youth of about the same age, was also dressed in white, but
there was something in the cut of his garments that forbade his being
supposed an Englishman.  Close behind these two, mounted on mules which
were laden with bundles of odd shapes, rode two sturdy bearded figures,
whose dark features were markedly oriental.  They wore turbans and
tunics which had once been white, baggy red trousers, and heavy boots of
undressed leather.  Rifles were slung on their backs, and long knives
stuck out of their belts.

The track was stony and tortuous, winding through a jagged cleft in the
hills.  On either side, at varying distances from the path, rose
pinnacles of rock, through fissures in which the riders caught
occasional glimpses of fertile valleys below, or of solitary fastnesses
or monasteries perched high among the crags.  Now and then a bend in the
defile opened up a view of the distant peaks of the Taurus mountains.
It was wild and desolate country, growing wilder as they advanced.

They rode almost in silence.  The two muleteers addressed each other
sometimes in murmurs, and it might have been gathered from the
expression of their countenances that they did not relish their job and
were becoming increasingly uneasy.  The sun was hot, and the heat
reflected from the rocks struck up into the riders’ faces and made them
shiny with sweat.  But the uneasiness of the muleteers was moral rather
than physical.  They were Armenians, and their journey was taking them
deeper and deeper into the wilds of Kurdistan, among the strongholds of
the immemorial oppressors of their race.  They were not without a
lingering suspicion of their leader, the picturesque person of the hook
nose.  He was a Kurd, and though he had guaranteed the safety of the
party, they had no great confidence in the good faith of a Kurd.

No anxieties of this kind troubled the Englishman.  But as the afternoon
waned he became a little impatient.  Ali the Kurdish guide had assured
him twenty times that the end of the journey was near, yet hour followed
hour, and they had not yet arrived.  Since there was no doubt that Ali
knew the way thoroughly, it could only be supposed that his notion of
distance was imperfect.  There were camp gear and provisions on the
mules’ backs; Frank Forester had already spent one night in camp since
leaving Erzerum, and did not view with any pleasure the prospect of a
second night; in these heights, 6000 feet above sea-level, the nights,
even after the hottest days, were bitterly cold.

"Come now, Ali, aren’t we nearly there?" Frank said at length,
addressing the Kurd in a mixture of Arabic and the local dialect.

"Very near, very near," said the man, extending his arm towards what
appeared to be a blank wall of rock.

"He’s a man of two words," said Frank, with a shrug, to his companion on
the left. "I hope we shall get there before dark."

"Yes, before dark," repeated the youth, in a thin scrapy voice.

There was silence again.  The track became rougher, the wall of rock on
each side steeper.  At one spot Frank noticed a number of boulders,
large and small, piled on a ledge almost overhanging the track.

"That’s rather dangerous," he remarked. "If they fell they would block
the road."

"That is what they are there for, effendim," said Ali, turning and
flashing a glance at the pile.  He explained that expeditions led by
Turkish governors had more than once come to grief in these hills.  The
Kurds knew how to deal with the Osmanli.

A few minutes afterwards Ali came to a sudden halt, and hurriedly bade
the other members of the party draw in towards the left, under cover of
a projecting spur.

"What is it?" asked Frank.

"Men coming towards us, ten or twelve," replied the man.  "We must wait
until I can see who they are."

"Have they seen us?"

"Who can say?  But I think I stopped before they saw us."

"Why?"

"Do they not call me Eagle Eye?" said the man proudly.

Frank smiled.  There was an amusing simplicity about Ali’s self-esteem.

"Well, what do you make of them?" Frank asked after a minute or two.

The Kurd, peering round the edge of the rock, had shown more and more
interest as the approaching party drew nearer.

"Wallaby!  It is Abdi the cursed.  I know Abdi and his evil eye.  A bad
man, truly, for he will sin against a true believer as readily as he
will kill a Giaour.  He is hated by all and feared by most.  We must not
meet him."

"But you don’t fear him, Ali?"

"Allah knows I fear him not; but I gave my word for the safety of your
nobleness and these poor creatures, and it is not well we run into
danger from Abdi and his larger party.  Besides, there is with him,
riding by his side, the dog German----"

"What, Wonckhaus?"

"Even so, effendim.  That curdles your cream, or call me a liar."

"He has stolen a march on us, Joseph," said Frank, turning to his
companion.  His tone expressed deep annoyance.  "He wouldn’t have come
into these parts on any other errand, and I shall be mad if he has
pulled off the deal.--I don’t want to meet Wonckhaus, Ali.  Can we get
out of the way until he has passed?"

Ali cast a keen look around.  In a few moments he discovered what he
sought--a gap in which the party might remain concealed.  He led them
through the narrow passage between two large masses of rock, turned the
corner, and instructed them to cover the animals’ heads with cloths.
They were now within twenty yards of the track, but wholly out of sight
from it.

Some ten minutes later they heard the ringing clatter of hoofs on the
stones, and the voices of men.  Peeping out, Frank and Ali watched the
party ride by.  By the side of a villainous-looking Kurd rode a big
German in loose grey clothes with a blue sash about his ample waist.
Behind came nine or ten Kurds variously attired, all armed to the teeth,
mounted on horses laden with packs.  It was a wild fierce group, and the
Armenians, peering timorously round the edges of the rock, heaved a sigh
of relief when the last of the party had disappeared. The sounds died
away.  When all was silent Ali chuckled a "Wallahy!" and led the way
back to the track.

"Very near now, effendim," he said.

"I hope we are," rejoined Frank.  "Joseph, I wonder whether Wonckhaus
has got my carpet?"

"God forbid!" said Joseph solemnly.



                               CHAPTER II

                          CONCERNING A CARPET


Frank Forester was the son of the owner of a large oriental carpet
business, whose headquarters was in Constantinople, with branches in
several parts of Asia Minor and Persia.  Except for his school years in
England, Frank had lived all his life in the East.  He spoke Turkish
like a native, and could make himself understood in Arabic and in the
various local dialects in which Turkish, Arabic, and Persian all have
component parts.

For some months he had been in charge of the small branch house at
Erzerum, where he conducted the business with the aid of Joseph, his
Armenian clerk.  A few days before the incident just related, a bazar
rumour had come to his ears which suggested a promising stroke of
business.  It was to the effect that an important Kurdish chief, living
about two days’ journey to the south, had been so heavily squeezed by
the Turkish governor of the province that he felt himself forced to
raise money by parting with a very valuable old Persian carpet that had
long been an heirloom in his family.  Tradition said that it was part of
the loot obtained by an ancestor of the chief at the sack of Shiraz
during one of the civil wars that ravaged Persia in the seventeenth
century. It held among his hereditary possessions the same place as a
precious jewel or an Old Master among the treasures of a western house.
The rumour that it was coming into the market caused as much excitement
among carpet dealers as the announcement of the approaching sale of a
Correggio or a Rembrandt would cause among the connoisseurs of New York.

Frank Forester was thrown into a flutter when the first whispers reached
him.  He had not hitherto taken an important part in his father’s
business, and it was only recently that he had been placed in charge of
a branch.  The chance of signalizing his stewardship by securing the
carpet appealed to his imagination as well as his business instincts.
But the problem was, how to bring off a deal with the chief. The old
Kurd was not likely to condescend to travel to the town.  On the other
hand there would be some risk in making a journey to his mountain
fastness.  The country in which it lay bore the worst of reputations.
Even the Turkish authorities never ventured into it without a strong
military escort, amounting in fact to an expedition.  The peaceful,
timid Armenian traders would have ventured into a den of lions as soon
as into the hill country where for centuries no Armenian had ever
penetrated except as a captive.

Frank’s interest in the matter was complicated and heightened by
business rivalry. A year or two before, a German named Hermann Wonckhaus
had come to Erzerum and set up in business as a carpet dealer next door
to Mr. Forester.  The Englishman, who had been established there for
many years, felt too sure of his position to regard the arrival of his
competitor with any alarm.  He met him, indeed, in the friendliest
spirit, and at first did him some small services in a business and a
social way.  But it soon became clear that Wonckhaus was a snake in the
grass.  There were signs that his object in settling next door to Mr.
Forester was to keep a watch on him, with a view to discovering with
whom he traded and endeavouring to cut into his connection.  Once or
twice Mr. Forester found himself forestalled in business transactions by
the German, and as soon as he became aware of his rival’s crooked
methods he put himself on his guard and maintained only the coolest of
relations with him.  Still, he was not greatly troubled.  The Armenian,
shifty as he may be himself in business, respects rectitude in others,
and Mr. Forester knew that if it ever came to a straight pull between
himself and the German the result would be in his favour. He lived very
simply, without parade; Wonckhaus, on the other hand, kept up a
considerable style, and aimed at a kind of leadership in the small
European colony. He was a man of good presence, great ability and
certain social gifts, by means of which he became a personage; but
though he had pushed himself into a position of influence he was always
regarded with some distrust by the Europeans other than his own
countrymen; and the natives, very shrewd in their silent estimate of
western strangers, had taken his measure pretty thoroughly.

Knowing that the bazar rumour would certainly have reached Wonckhaus’s
ears, Frank was anxious to lose no time in opening negotiations with the
Kurdish chief for the purchase of the carpet.  It was obvious that his
best course was to make a personal visit to the owner.  He sent for a
Kurd whom his father had sometimes employed and found trustworthy, and
enlisted his services as guide to the distant stronghold.  Ali confessed
that the journey would entail some risk, but he promised that he would
do his utmost to ensure the safety of the party, and in fact they had
come without adventure within a mile or two of their destination when
the appearance of Wonckhaus on the track showed that he had again
forestalled his rival.  The only question now was, had he managed to
strike a bargain with the chief and brought away the carpet among his
packs?

When Frank resumed his journey, he discussed the chances rather
anxiously with Ali.  The Kurd took a pessimistic view.

"Abdi is a nephew of the chief Mirza Aga," he said.  "Does he not always
boast of his relationship in the bazar?  He is a liar by nature, but in
that he speaks the truth.  Therefore it is that the German has taken him
as guide.  Without doubt Abdi said to him: ’I am in high favour with my
uncle, Allah be good to him, and when I say to him, this is the
excellency that will give a good price for the carpet, he will bless me,
and perhaps bestow upon me some poor fraction of the money.’  Without
doubt we have eaten the dust of our journey for nothing."

"Well, we’ll go on and prove it.  Having come so far I won’t go back
without knowing the truth."

A march of a little over an hour brought the party to a narrow side
track that wound up into the hills.  It was some time before a turn in
the toilsome ascent opened a view of the chief’s stronghold.  Perched
high up on the mountain side, it resembled in the distance a child’s
building of wooden bricks; but its massive proportions and structure
became impressive as the travellers gradually mounted towards it.  In
this country of mean hovels its appearance was palatial. The lower part
consisted of solid masonry broken by one large gate and two or three
small square windows, unglazed and shutterless. Upon this stout pillars
supported a number of arches surrounding an open chamber or arcade
rectangular in shape and covered with a flat roof.  To the left of the
arches was a second storey whose walls were as solid as those of the
lower; within these, as Frank knew, were the women’s apartments.  The
whole place was silent; to all appearance it might have been
uninhabited.

Ali went forward to the great gate and shouted for admittance.  After a
while a peep-hole was exposed by the sliding of a small wooden hatch,
and a man inquired his errand, then slid the hatch to, and departed.
Frank had become accustomed to oriental sluggishness and the need for
patience. Presently the gate-keeper returned and held a lengthy
conversation with Ali, after which he retired again.

"What are we waiting for?" asked Frank: remaining in the background he
had not heard the colloquy.

"Wallahy!  Mirza Aga will not show the light of his countenance to a
German, and required me to swear by the beard of the Prophet that your
nobility is not German but English."

"That’s promising," said Frank cheerfully. "It looks as if nephew Abdi
is not quite such a favourite as he pretends."

"Allah is wise!" said Ali.

In a few minutes the massive gate swung open, giving admission to a
large courtyard. Here a handsome youth, the chief’s grandson, came
forward with a smile of welcome. Frank dismounted, gave his horse into
the care of an attendant, and followed the youth up a stately stone
staircase, ornamented on either side with richly-carved oak balusters,
into the salamlik or presence chamber of the old chief.  It was a lofty
and spacious apartment, the walls and ceiling composed of curiously
carved cedar wood.  The floor was covered with thick Persian rugs; the
walls were embellished with texts from the Koran, and blunderbusses,
scimitars, curved daggers and other weapons arranged in tasteful
patterns.  At the further end a fire of logs roared in a huge fireplace,
the wall above being decorated with arabesques and scrolls.

Near the fireplace, reclining among an exuberance of silk pillows and
cushions, was the old, white-bearded, turbaned chief, smoking a long
chibouque.  At the entrance of his visitor he rose, bowed several times,
murmured "Salam aleikam," and clapped his hands.  An attendant
immediately came in, bearing a number of rugs and pillows which he
spread on the floor near the chief. Luxurious as they appeared, Frank
knew that they were probably swarming with vermin, for Kurdish
magnificence takes no note of such trifles, and he racked his brains for
an excuse to avoid the use of them. Explaining that in his country such
soft seats were only proper to the ladies, which seemed to amuse the
chief, he squatted cross-legged on the floor, and spent some minutes in
exchanging the flowery salutations usual in oriental society.  Then the
chief, who had already learnt the object of his visit from Ali through
the gate-keeper, invited him to partake of supper, declaring that there
must be no talk of business that night.  Without waiting for an
acceptance, he clapped his hands again, and servants brought in a
profusion of dishes--meat, fish, poultry, and various fruits--a pleasant
meal after the long day’s journey, even though Frank had to use his
fingers instead of a knife and fork.  The meal was prolonged; fatigue
and the heat of the room made Frank sleepy; and he was glad when the old
man’s grandson came to conduct him to the guest chamber.

"He has honesty and benevolence written all over him," thought Frank, as
he stretched himself, rolled in his greatcoat, on the bare floor, after
bundling the doubtful mattresses and cushions provided for him into a
corner. "I rather think I may score off Wonckhaus this time after all."

Next morning came the business interview.

"You must know, O welcome guest," said the old man, "that yesterday
there came to me one from Erzerum, under the guidance of a graceless
nephew of mine, a man in whom there is no truth or virtue at all. The
stranger, a man of the German race, they told me, wished to buy my
carpet, and offered me a sum that would scarcely have purchased the
clothes on my back. Wallahy!  Did he wish to pull my beard? I answered
him shortly that I was no bazar merchant to haggle and chaffer;
whereupon he made excuses, and perceiving that it was truth I said, he
offered a price that was fair, and one that I was fain to accept.  But
lo! when I asked him to pay over the money, the infidel spoke of a
written paper, for which, he told me, they would pay me money in
Stamboul.  Wallahy!  His tongue was smooth, but his eye was deceitful.
I said forthright that I would not trust him. Little I know of the
German race; they are a new kind of Giaour to me; but so much as I have
heard of them did not tempt me to part with my carpet against a German
promise.  Whereupon our words waxed hot, and Abdi my worthless nephew
must needs take part with the German--verily he hoped to fill his pouch
at my expense; and my wrath was kindled, and I bade the German depart.
And Abdi my nephew flouted me to my beard, and I spoke my mind freely to
him, a dog that slinks about the houses of better men, snapping up what
falls, and licking what is cast out.  And they departed, he and the
German.

"Now therefore come and look upon the carpet."

He conducted Frank through the open arcade into a lofty room on the
other side of the house.  On the way Frank throbbed with mingled hope
and fear.  Orientals were prone to exaggeration: the much-talked-of
carpet might turn out to be a very ordinary specimen, even a modern
fabric cunningly "faked," for he was aware of the tricks practised by
dishonest dealers to delude the unwary.  Once, indeed, he had himself
detected by the sense of smell the use of coffee to give a new rug the
mellow tones of age. But hope was stronger within him than fear. The old
chief looked honest: he had refrained from boasts and the flowery puffs
of the huckster, and Frank felt that the carpet was probably genuine,
though possibly not quite so valuable as rumour declared.

The old man opened the door, and stood back with a courteous inclination
of the head to allow his visitor to pass in before him.  He did not
speak a word.  Frank halted in the doorway, transfixed with wonder and
delight.  Hanging on the wall opposite was a beautiful rug, about
eighteen feet by twelve, in which his expert eye discerned at once an
antique product of the looms of Khorassan.  He had lived among carpets
from childhood, and knew the characteristic features of all the many
kinds of eastern fabrics.  On a deep blue ground were woven floral
patterns in magenta, red, and blue, with spots of ivory here and there;
and on the wide border was the unmistakeable palm-leaf design of
Khorassan, with details that proved it to be the workmanship of a
particular family of weavers, renowned for its artistic ornament and
harmonious colouring.  Age had mellowed the tints, but their brilliance
was little diminished, for the ancient dyers had secrets which are the
despair of the chemists of to-day.

He crossed the room and touched the surface of the rug.  It was soft as
velvet. He examined the knots and the stitches, felt the thickness of
the pile, then turned round.

"It is magnificent, chief," he said.

"It is good work, effendim," replied the chief.  "My family has
possessed it for two hundred years."

"Well now, let me tell you my method of business.  We are not hucksters
of the bazar, you and I.  Their custom is to ask more than they expect
to get, or to offer less than they are prepared to pay.  That is not my
way.  I offer at once the sum which I am ready to give, and I never make
a second offer.  If it is acceptable, well and good; if not, we part
friends."

"That is well, effendim.  My ears are open."

"I will pay you £500 Turkish for the carpet."

The old Kurd reflected a moment or two.  Then he said:

"That is a fair price, effendim.  The carpet is yours."

"Thank you.  I have not brought the money with me; it is dangerous
country, chief," he added with a smile.  "But I will either send it you
when I return to Erzerum, or----"

"It is enough, effendim," interrupted the chief.  "You are an
Englishman: your word is good.  Your countrymen, it is true, are not the
good friends of mine that they used to be.  It is told me, indeed, that
the German Emperor, and not your King, is willing to help us to regain
the lands we lost in the late disastrous war.  But I trust the word of
an Englishman.  The Germans I do not know: that one who came to me came
with my nephew Abdi, the master of lies!  Take the carpet: it is yours.
You may send the money when you will."

"I thank you for your confidence, chief; but such an arrangement would
not be fair to you.  Something might happen to me; you would have no
security.  I will ask you to take a draft on the Ottoman Bank."

He took out his cheque-book and fountain pen, and wrote the draft, which
the chief accepted with a deprecating bow.  Orders were given for the
carpet to be rolled up, covered with sacking, and placed on the back of
one of the mules.  The business having been thus satisfactorily
concluded, the chief invited Frank to share his morning meal, after
which he accompanied him with a small escort of horsemen for a few miles
on his return journey.



                              CHAPTER III

                         DISTURBERS OF TRAFFIC


About noon on the following day, when Frank and his party were
proceeding slowly northwards through the hills, they met a Kurd on
horseback.  Ali exchanged salutations with him; he was on his way, he
said, to the house of Mirza Aga.

Some ten minutes afterwards, at a bend in the track, they were met by a
second Kurd.  The usual greetings again passed between the
fellow-countrymen, and this traveller also explained that Mirza Aga’s
house was his destination.  But when the party passed on, Ali, whose
manner with the stranger had been cold and curt, glancing over his
shoulder, noticed that the man had ridden a few paces in the same
direction, then halted as if in irresolution, and was at that moment
apparently making up his mind to continue his journey southward.

"Wallahy!  Effendim, here is a strange thing," said Ali in a low tone.
"I know that man.  Surely I saw him with Abdi the Liar when he passed us
the other day."

"Strange indeed!  He cannot have been to Erzerum and back."

"Abdi devises mischief, effendim.  It is well that we watch that man."

Riding slowly on until the bend in the track hid the Kurd from sight,
Ali slipped from his saddle, and, asking Frank to accompany him,
cautiously climbed the rear of a rocky bluff a little way off the track.
From the top of this eminence, themselves unseen, they were able to
overlook a long stretch of the track behind them, and in the distance,
something more than half a mile away, they descried the stranger, no
longer proceeding towards the house of Mirza Aga, but coming in their
direction.

"Verily it is some evil device of Abdi, effendim," said Ali.  "Let us go
on our way, and consider this matter.  Abdi is cunning as a serpent, but
it will go hard with me if I do not bring his tricks to nought."

They returned to the track, remounted, and resumed the march, keeping a
wary look-out in all directions.

"Consider, effendim, why did that man delay and turn when he met us?"

"That is nothing strange in this lawless country," said Frank.  "A man
would naturally be curious and suspicious of strangers."

"True; but having seen that we are a party of peaceful travellers
carrying merchandise--for the Armenians and you yourself, effendim, wear
no pistols in your belts, though I know you have revolvers somewhere in
your garments--having seen that, I say, why does the dog march on a
little way, then turn about and follow us?  Is it not the work of one
that spies on another?"

"It looks possible, certainly."

"Of a truth it is so, and I swear that Abdi and his crew are not far
ahead."

"What of the first man, who preceded him?  Was he watching us too?"

"Who can say, effendim?  He has gone quite out of sight.  Who can sound
the depths of Abdi’s craft?  He is a liar and a worker of mischief.  May
it not have been told him by some gossip on the way that we had gone to
seek Mirza Aga?  Well he knows for what purpose, and would it not be an
easy thing, in these solitudes, to lie in wait for us, and to fall upon
us, they being the greater number, and slay us, and rob us of that we
carry?  Truly there is no bottom to Abdi’s wickedness, and I beseech
you, effendim, pardon me in that I have unwittingly led you into a
snare."

"That’s nonsense, Ali.  Whatever happens, it’s not your fault.  If it is
as you say--and I shouldn’t be surprised, for in wild country like this
they’ve endless opportunities of surprising us--we must see if we can’t
defeat their schemes."

This conversation had been conducted in low tones, in the hearing of
Joseph only. Ali had an inherited contempt for the Armenian porters, who
indeed would have been paralysed with fright at a suspicion of danger.

It was clear that to continue on their present course would be to run
straight into the trap which Ali suspected was prepared for them.  Ali
suggested that they should halt, allow the man behind to overtake them,
and observe his bearing when he encountered them again.

Accordingly they drew rein at a secluded spot, where the track broadened
a little, making a salient into the precipitous sides. Ali climbed to a
position whence he could scan the track in both directions.  Some time
passed, and when the supposed scout did not appear, Ali crept back
stealthily along the track to discover what had become of him.  In about
ten minutes he returned.  "Come with me, effendim," he said
mysteriously.

After walking rather more than half a mile, Ali raised his hand and
pointed to a spot high up in the hills on their left hand. At first
Frank failed to discover the object indicated, but presently he noticed
a whitish speck moving along the greyish face of the rocks.

"Is that he?" he asked.

"That is the dog, as I live," replied Ali. "He has gone up into the
hills by a track that I know not.  See, effendim, he moves fast; he
comes this way.  Is it not his intent to outstrip us, and give tidings
of our coming to Abdi where he lurks beyond?"

"You may be right, Ali.  We can spoil his game by not going on.  Let us
return to our men, bring them back, find out where he left this track,
and follow him over the hills."

"It is good, effendim.  To watch the watcher--yes, it is very good."

Soon the whole party was retracing its course.  The halt and the
movements of their employer had made the Armenians uneasy; but there was
only cheerful assurance in the demeanour of Frank and the Kurd; and the
men, if not reassured, at least gave no utterance to their fears.

About a mile back they discovered a spot, marked by a few stunted trees
and bushes, where a narrow mountain path branched from the broader
track.  Into this they struck.  It wound up into the hills, at first so
steeply that the laden mules with difficulty maintained their footing;
but after a time it became less arduous, and the party pushed on with
greater speed.  It was nearly two hours before they caught sight of the
man.  From that moment they had to combine speed with caution: to keep
pace with the Kurd so as not to lose him from sight, but to take care
that he should neither see nor hear them.

At length the mountain path took a downward trend, suggesting that it
would ultimately rejoin the main track from which they had diverged.
Here they lost sight of the scout through the frequent windings of the
path.  Presently they came to a narrow ledge dropping down very steeply.
The ground was rough, and crumbled under the hoofs of their beasts.  In
spite of all their caution, they suffered a misadventure when still some
distance above the junction of the the tracks.  The ground gave way
beneath the mule of one of the Armenians.  It slid over the edge, and
rolled with its yelling rider for nearly a hundred yards down a steep
incline, until the fall was checked by a clump of prickly bushes.
Neither man nor animal appeared to be seriously hurt, but the mule’s
load was scattered broadcast. Consisting as it did partly of camp
utensils, to the clatter of displaced stones and the cries of the
muleteer was added the clink and rattle of tins and iron pots as they
bumped on the rocky ground.

The din was a greater misfortune even than the delay and the dispersal
of the load. Just as the Armenian picked himself up, rubbing his elbows
and shins, a head showed above the rocks a little to the left of the
junction.  In another moment Frank caught sight of the Kurd they had
been following, riding at full speed back along the main track.
Apparently he had been resting for a spell.

"Wallahy!" Ali ejaculated, cursing the mule and its rider and the
ancestors of both.

There could be little doubt that his suspicion was well grounded.  Abdi
and his party--if Abdi was in truth the plotter--could not be far off,
for the Kurd must have reckoned on being able to warn them before the
expected prey reached the spot where they were waiting.  How far away
the ambush had been laid Frank could not guess.

"Cursed be that howling son of a cat!" cried Ali.  "We must ride on with
all haste, effendim.  Peradventure the rascal Abdi is so far away that
we shall have time to reach a village of the plain before he can
overtake us.  Wallahy!  But our beasts are laden, and he has many
horsemen without encumbrance.  Yet there is no other way.  We must leave
that shrieking jackal and his load; there is no time to gather up the
many things that are scattered."

"No, we can’t leave him, but we’ll leave the things," said Frank.  "Get
on your mule and ride with us," he called to the man.

Hastening down to the track, they pushed on with all possible speed in
the direction of Erzerum.  Laden as they were, the mules could not go at
any great pace over the rough ground, and the carpet being the heaviest
part of the load, the speed of the whole party was regulated by that of
the mule bearing it.  Frank suggested that Ali should ride ahead and
bring back an armed escort from Erzerum; but the Kurd resolutely refused
to divest himself of his responsibility for the safety of his employer,
who for his part was determined not to lose sight of the carpet.  They
made what progress they could, then, Ali falling behind to act as
rearguard and give warning of pursuit.

They had covered something less than two miles and were entering a long,
fairly straight defile, when Ali closed up.

"They are coming, effendim," he said, "riding furiously, and the
foremost of them is Abdi the Liar."

"Ah!  And look at that," said Frank, pointing ahead.

Near the further end of the defile two figures were seated on a loose
pile of rocks overhanging the track.  Ali shot a glance towards them.

"Wallahy! the German!" he exclaimed.

Almost at the same moment the two figures rose.  Clearly they had
recognised Frank.  And then Wonckhaus and his Kurd companion began with
haste to roll rocks from the pile down the slope, obviously with the
intention of blocking the track.

"Come, Ali!" cried Frank.  "Joseph, look after the rest.  Bring them
along."

Urging their mounts to their best speed, the two men dashed along the
track, and reined up only when they were in danger of being crushed by
the rocks crashing down from above.  The narrow path was already almost
impassable.  Frank sprang from his horse and began to clamber up the
face of the cliff, followed, after a moment’s hesitation, by Ali.

Twenty feet above them Wonckhaus stood irresolute.  He held a jagged
boulder, and seemed to be in two minds about hurling it straight upon
the climbing Englishman. Some prudential instinct--it may have been a
scruple--gave him pause, and his Kurd companion, taking the cue from
him, held a large stone similarly poised.

"Wait a moment," said Frank coolly. "I won’t keep you long."

Wonckhaus, somewhat taken aback by Frank’s calmness, and the absence of
hostility from his tone, watched him in silence as he climbed to his
side.

"Another stone or two would have completely blocked the track," Frank
went on.

Shooting a curious glance at him, Wonckhaus replied:

"That was my intention, Mr. Forester."

"Exactly.  I don’t want to interrupt your amusement, Herr Wonckhaus, but
you will wait until my party has passed.  A few moments will suffice.
If you loose another rock till then, I shall throw you after it!"

Frank’s nerves were tingling, but he spoke as quietly as if he was
announcing the merest matter of fact.  The German recognised at a glance
that it was no empty threat, and his Kurd looked by no means comfortable
under the menacing attitude of Ali, who had now joined them.  Meanwhile,
Joseph had come up with the carriers.

"Come straight through, Joseph," called Frank, "and lead my horse and
Ali’s.  Go forward: we will overtake you."

As the mules were passing through the narrow gap that remained between
the obstacles on the track, Abdi’s party came in sight at the southern
end of the defile half a mile distant.

"Now, my good sir," said Frank, as the last of his mules emerged from
the gap, "we will help you to complete your amusing work.  Ali, shove
these stones down as fast as you can, and get your countryman to assist
you."

Ali grinned and hurled a threat at the other Kurd; the two pushed the
stones down the slope one after another in quick succession, while
Frank, taking out his revolver, stood guard over the German.  In a few
seconds the track was wholly blocked up.

"We have saved you the trouble, Herr Wonckhaus," said Frank.
"Good-day."

With Ali he slipped down to the track, ran after his party, sprang to
the saddle, and was already some distance ahead and rounding a corner
when Abdi and his cavalcade rode up.  The Kurd leapt from his horse,
scrambled up the barrier, and in his rage and disappointment fired after
the retreating figures before Wonckhaus, uneasy about future
developments, could check him.  The shot flew wide, and Frank rode on.

To clear a way for the pursuers’ horses would probably consume at least
half an hour, an interval long enough to allow the party to reach the
outskirts of a settled district where an open attack upon them would be
dangerous.  And Frank knew very well that Wonckhaus could hardly afford
to be publicly associated with a manifest act of brigandage.  Thinking
over the circumstances of the trap from which he had escaped, he
surmised that the German had intended the party to be intercepted by the
Kurds several miles behind, and that he had gone ahead in order to
arrive at Erzerum in time to establish a clear alibi if there should be
any suggestion of his connection with the contemplated attack.

"A lucky thing for us you discovered that scout, Ali," said Frank.  "I
owe something to your eagle eye."

"Inshallah, effendim, I am not so named for nothing," returned the man,
beaming with pride and satisfaction.  "Of a truth I am more than a match
for Abdi the Liar."



                               CHAPTER IV

                            THE COMING STORM


Two hours’ hard riding brought Frank and his party, in the dusk of
evening, to a large village on the edge of the plain of Erzerum.  There
was little or no danger of further molestation; in populous places an
attack on a well-known English merchant might entail disagreeable
consequences, since the authorities would be almost forced to take
action; all the same, Frank wished that he could have completed his
journey without pause.  But that being impossible, he put up at a
respectable khan or inn, where he persuaded the innkeeper, by means of
excess payment, to agree to keep his door closed against any travellers
who might arrive subsequently.  Frank preferred not to have to spend the
night under the same roof as Wonckhaus, who could not be far behind him
on the road.

His forethought bore fruit.  Soon after he had retired to rest, with his
head pillowed on his precious carpet, there was a loud banging on the
door, and a rough voice bawled for the khanji.  That amiable hosteller
at first feigned sleep, but the pretence could not be long kept up
through a din that might have roused the fabled sleepers of Ephesus.  He
got up, cursing, and moved to the door.

"Remember our bargain," Frank called through the partition dividing his
select guest-chamber from the common room of the inn.

The man mumbled something in answer, and Frank, wondering whether his
promise would hold out against the importunity of the newcomers,
listened anxiously to the colloquy that ensued at the door.

"O khanji!" bawled the voice outside.

"Ahi!" was the sleepy response.

"O khanji!"

"What is it I hear?"

"Are you Khanji Abdullah?"

"Ahi!"--a sleepy drawl that meant nothing.

"A curse on the deaf one!"

"Am I deaf, or to be cursed, or do I hear the ugly voice of a
camel-driver?" asked the innkeeper artlessly.

"Where is Khanji Abdullah?"

"Who?"

"Khanji Abdullah-ah-ah!" yelled the voice, prolonging the name.

"Why do you wake honest sleepers, you dog of a dogson?"

"_I_ wake folk?  _I_ wake folk?  Have _I_ the voice of an old dromedary?
Have _I_ the voice----"

Here the speaker’s shrill tones were drowned by a chorus of curses and
expostulations from the guests in the common room, among whose voices
Ali’s was raised the loudest.  When the clamour had died down, the voice
of the man outside could be heard again.

"Wallahy!  May Allah cast his blight upon the khan and the khanji, upon
your religion and your affairs, upon your wife and children and kinsmen
and cattle."

"What is this outcry and cursing, O son of a camel?"

"Open your door for honest travellers in the night."

"Wallahy!  My house is full; there is not room for one honest man, much
less a rogue.  Get you gone, and split the ears of Khanji Muhammad
yonder; his khan is the place for rogues."

"What say you, O vile khanji?  Know you that here is no rogue, but a
noble Alman effendi of great size and weight, whose money-bags are
brimming over like a cup overfull!  Open then, khanji, without more
display of ignorance and folly."

"It is easy to lie in the dark.  What know I of an Alman effendi?  Of
his nobility I say nothing; but if he be of great size and weight as you
say, mashallah! there is no room for him here.  Let him begone with his
money-bags to Khanji Muhammad; he is very poor and needy, whereas I am
in no straits, praise to Allah!  Get you gone, you with the voice of a
camel, and let me return to my sleep.  Ahi!"

A stream of imprecations burst from the lips of Abdi, dying down in the
distance as he departed with Wonckhaus and his party towards the khan of
Muhammad at the other end of the village.

"Was it not well done, and worthy of large bakshish?" said Abdullah,
through the door of Frank’s room.

"It was well done, khanji," replied Prank, "and the morning will bring
what it will."

"Alhamdolillah!" the innkeeper piously ejaculated as he returned to his
couch.

His guests settled themselves to slumber and were not disturbed for the
rest of the night.

Frank’s first act on reaching Erzerum in the afternoon of the next day
was to lock up the carpet securely in his strong room. The warehouse was
an annexe at the back of the dwelling-house.  This was a substantial
building of stone, backing on a hillside, with a flat roof covered, like
the most of the better houses in the town, with green turf.  It had a
large arched door, but small windows, hardly bigger than portholes,
filled, however, with glass, and not with oiled paper, which the natives
commonly used.  Mr. Forester had made the interior comfortable in an
English fashion. The stone floors were strewn with Persian rugs; on the
white-washed walls hung a few engravings, together with hunting
trophies.  The furniture was of English make.

As he passed through the office on his way to the strong room, Frank
noticed on the desk a letter, in his father’s handwriting. The carpet
having been safely stowed away, he returned, put the letter in his
pocket, and hurried out into the street: there was something to be done
that brooked no delay, for Wonckhaus had arrived before him. He hastened
down the street, which crossed a valley between his house and the
Government buildings on the hill opposite, and made his way to the
quarters of the military governor, with whom, after the long delay usual
in the East, he was accorded an interview.

"I have come to lodge a complaint against Herr Wonckhaus and the Kurd
Abdi," he said, when the preliminary courtesies had been exchanged.  He
related the incidents on the road.  The Turkish governor listened to him
coldly.

"I take a note of what you say, effendim," he said; "but you must know
that Wonckhaus Effendi has already preferred a charge against you--that
you blocked up the road with rocks, so that it was impassable. That, you
are aware, is a serious offence. No one but a military officer in the
exercise of his duty is permitted to block a road."

"As I have already explained, excellency," said Frank patiently, "I
merely completed what Herr Wonckhaus had begun.  His design was obvious:
the steps I took were taken solely for the purpose of safeguarding my
merchandise."

"It is told me that you threatened him with violence."

"I said that if he threw down any more stones--committing, as you
remarked, excellency, a serious offence--I would throw him after them.
That, I submit, was perfectly justifiable in the circumstances."

"I will not argue with you, effendim. You ought to have engaged zaptiehs
for your protection on your journey.  The matter cannot rest here.  I
must submit it to the governor of the province; it may have to be
referred ultimately to Stamboul. Meanwhile, I must order you to keep the
peace with Wonckhaus Effendi, who has felt it necessary to ask for
protection."

Seeing that no satisfaction would be derived from further parley, Frank
took his leave and set off for home.  He was somewhat surprised at the
coolness of his reception.  The military governor had only recently
taken up office in the town; his predecessor had been a close personal
friend of Mr. Forester, and Frank had assumed, almost as a matter of
course, that the new official would be a man of the same stamp and
equally well disposed.  It was clear, however, from this his first
official interview, that the governor was unwilling to hear both sides
of a case and come to a just decision, or that he was ready to exercise
partiality on the side of Wonckhaus.  Frank was not troubled about the
ultimate issue. The reference of the matter to the provincial governor,
and possibly to the authorities at Constantinople, would postpone any
decision for months, perhaps years. Meanwhile he would put all the facts
before his father, who would know, better than he, how to deal with
them.

Thinking of his father reminded him of the letter in his pocket.  He
took it out, tore open the envelope, and read:


MY DEAR FRANK,

A serious storm is brewing in Europe. Austria has sent an ultimatum to
Serbia that on the face of it means war.  Serbia can’t accept its terms
without losing her independence, and Russia will certainly support her.
That will as certainly cause Germany to move; then France is bound by
the terms of her alliance with Russia to come in. Unless something very
suddenly intervenes, all Europe will be in a blaze, possibly before you
receive this.  In the opinion of certain important people here the whole
thing is a put-up job on the part of Germany, who is backing Austria
with the deliberate intention of forcing a war before Russia has
reorganized her army.  There is great excitement here.  German agents
have been active for a long time, but the general opinion is that Turkey
will keep out of it.  She had enough of war two years ago, and her
finances are now at the lowest ebb.  Still, one can never be sure how
far the Germans may succeed in duping or bribing the Turks.  In my
belief, everything depends on whether we shall be drawn in.  Grey will
work hard for peace; he may succeed as he has done before; but if he
fails I can’t see any possibility of our keeping out of it.  France will
be knocked out in a month if the German fleet gets to work; and we can’t
stand by and look on at such a catastrophe.  Well, if we do come in,
Germany will move heaven and earth to induce the Turks to make a bid for
Egypt; and certain firebrands here are silly enough in their
self-conceit to play Germany’s game and ruin their country.  I hope for
the best, but you must be ready to clear out at a moment’s notice.
Unluckily I have an urgent call to London; am starting at once, but hope
to return soon.  Keep your eye closely on events: our consul will have
the latest or all but the latest news; and if affairs look serious, I
shall come to Erzerum, close down and bring away the stock.  We should
be all right here for a time, at any rate; and if the worst does happen
it will be easier to shape our course here than in your wilds. Meanwhile
hold on, and be circumspect.

P.S.  Just as well to keep your eye on H. W.


Frank replaced the letter in his pocket. Here was food for thought
indeed.  He knew that, so complicated were the relations of the European
Powers, the outbreak of war between any two of them might easily involve
the others, and bring about that vast and universal struggle which had
often been talked about, and as often dismissed as improbable if not
impossible.  To a rational person it seemed sheer madness that Europe
should be plunged into strife over the affairs of one little Balkan
nation: was it possible that the prophets who had foretold just such a
cataclysm would prove to be right after all?  And what of Britain? Frank
had unbounded faith in the British navy, but would Britain be able to
limit herself to the exercise of sea-power?  Yet how could she take an
effective part in land warfare with her small army?

Pondering these questions, Frank arrived at his house almost unawares.
He was roused from his reverie by the sight of Wonckhaus standing at his
door, smoking a big pipe.  The German smiled and seemed to be about to
address him; but apparently he changed his mind.  Frank paid no
attention to him, but passed into his own house and sat down to his
evening meal with a preoccupied air.



                               CHAPTER V

                              UNDER ARREST


During the next few days, the town seethed with ever-increasing
excitement. It became known that Germany had declared war on Russia and
France, and the sole topic of conversation among the Europeans was, what
would Britain do?  Rumour flew apace; authentic news was slow in coming
in by telegraph; but at last it was officially announced that Britain
was at war with Germany, and almost immediately afterwards that the
British Grand Fleet had been shattered in the North Sea.  Frank, in
common with the few other Englishmen in the town, scoffed at this; but
the story found many believers, and it was noticed that Wonckhaus ran up
a large German flag on his roof-top.  Frank paid frequent visits to the
British consul, who depended for his information on the Turkish
telegraph officials, and there was reason to suspect that a strict
censorship had already been established.

As usually happens in Asiatic Turkey when Europe is disturbed, there was
growing racial excitement among the natives.  The Armenians, a timid
unstable people, incapable of effective combination, talked of
revolution, and the lower-class Moslems of the town assumed a menacing
attitude towards them.  The Kurds in the country districts, it was
rumoured, had already recommenced their attacks on the Armenians, and
Frank was gravely apprehensive of massacres on a large scale.  He
instructed his Armenian employees to keep within doors as much as
possible, and to avoid collisions with the Moslems.  His chief clerk,
Joseph, while sharing his fears, was not alarmed for his own safety.
His father, a man of considerable business astuteness and organizing
power, was a contractor to the 9th Army Corps, whose headquarters were
at Erzerum, and in good relations with the military authorities.  They
hated him as an Armenian, but found him useful, indeed indispensable, as
a business man, and when business is concerned, religion counts little
with the Turk.

Public feeling was stirred to its depths when news came of the arrival
of the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ at the Bosporus.  There was at once
manifested a great deal of military activity.  New levies flocked into
Erzerum, and there were movements of troops along the whole Black Sea
coast. Large supplies were needed for them, and the contractor was
busily employed.  Frank found it hard to believe that Turkey would be so
short-sighted as to take the field against the Allied Powers; but he
noticed that Wonckhaus, whose air of self-importance was growing day by
day, was frequently in communication with the military governor, and the
announcement of German victories became a daily occurrence.  Joseph
reported that these victories were the talk of the town, and it was
openly declared that the Germans would soon be in possession of Paris,
that rebellions had broken out in India, Ireland, and South Africa, and
that the Sultan was on the point of recovering Egypt, the British
garrison having been withdrawn to fight in the West.  Frank met black
looks in the streets; trade was at a standstill: and in the absence of
trustworthy news he began to fidget and to wish that his father would
return.

One day a man ran into the office with a message for Joseph.  A
low-class mob had risen against the Armenians in the quarter in which
his father’s house was situated, and when the messenger left the rabble
were battering on the contractor’s door.  Joseph at once rushed out,
followed by Frank, who snatched up a revolver which he had made a
practice of carrying in the streets during the past few weeks.  There
were unmistakable signs of commotion in the town.  The Armenian
shopkeepers were hurriedly shutting their booths; some were barricading
their doors, others already speeding away with their portable goods to
seek safety in remote quarters of the town or in the country without.

When Frank arrived on the scene of the disturbance the mob had broken
through the gate into the courtyard, and were battering at the door of
the storeroom.

"Stand aside there!" called Frank impulsively, elbowing his way through
the throng.

He set his back against the door, and drawing his revolver threatened to
shoot any man who ventured to renew the attack. The ruffians, who were
armed only with sticks and clubs, fell back, overawed by the
Englishman’s authoritative voice and mien. Two elderly zaptiehs were
looking on from the opposite side of the street.  Without much faith in
these official defenders of order Frank called on them to disperse the
mob, or he would report them to the Governor.  The policemen lifted
their rifles and moved sluggishly towards him, pressing the mob aside
without much energy.  But the display of authority, such as it was, had
the effect of thinning the mob.  One man tried to work them up to
resist, but finding himself left with a diminishing number of adherents,
and perceiving a half company of regular troops marching up at the end
of the street, he slunk away and disappeared.

For the moment the danger was past. Frank returned home with Joseph.

"That man, the ringleader, was one of Abdi’s gang," said Joseph as they
went along.  "I noticed him among them that day in the hills."

"We’ll have him arrested.  You know where he lives?"

"I do not know.  Ali will know."

"Then find out from Ali, and I will see the Governor."

But within an hour or two Frank was himself summoned to the Governor’s
palace.

"It is with grief and surprise I learn," said the Governor, "that you, a
foreigner, have taken it upon yourself to give orders to my constables.
What have you to say?"

"Seeing that the zaptiehs were looking on unconcerned at a set of
ruffians assaulting the premises of your army contractor, excellency, I
think that perhaps a foreigner’s intervention may have done you a
service."

Frank took a higher tone than he would have adopted had he not still
felt the sting left by his previous interview with the Governor.

"It is inexcusable," was the reply.  "You will henceforth keep to your
own house. If you are seen in the streets you will be arrested.  You
English take too much upon yourselves."

Frank was too much surprised to expostulate, even if there had seemed
any use in so doing.  It was clear that his crime was the being an
Englishman.  Filled with a new anxiety as to the future, he left the
palace, to find that he was to be escorted home by a file of
infantrymen.  On reaching the house he sent Joseph at once to ask the
British consul to visit him.

"I think you had better remain quiet for the present," said that
gentleman when the matter had been explained to him. "You are
technically in the wrong, though the late governor would have thanked
you for what you did.  Wonckhaus is in the ascendant here.  The
authorities won’t take any serious steps against you at present. Until
that affair of yours with Wonckhaus is decided you need have no anxiety.
Your course is certainly to lie low and refrain from the least
appearance of provocation. You are expecting your father?"

"Yes, I am surprised that I haven’t heard from him."

"Well, everything is more or less disorganized.  Probably he will turn
up unexpectedly one day and take you away with him.  All indications
point to the entrance of Turkey into the war.  She has closed the
Dardanelles--an ominous sign. Wonckhaus put it about to-day that Paris
had fallen.  I don’t believe it, but the authorities are absolutely
hypnotized by the Germans, and Enver Pasha, their tool, seems to be
having it all his own way at Constantinople.  I hope to get trustworthy
information through a courier shortly; I don’t believe what they dole
out here.  If Turkey does enter the war, I shall have to go, of course;
and if your father hasn’t arrived by that time, you must come away under
my safe-conduct."

On leaving the house the consul perceived that the Governor’s order to
Frank was to be enforced: a sentry was already posted at the gate.  He
returned for a final word.

"It means that you are practically a prisoner," he said to Frank, "and
it will probably be inadvisable that I should be seen coming here.  But
we can communicate through Joseph.  I will make a formal report to our
ambassador at Constantinople, who may possibly make a peremptory demand
for your release, though while that unfortunate affair with Wonckhaus is
still _sub judice_ it may be difficult to move.  But there’s no need to
be uneasy."

"That’s all very well," replied Frank, "but my business is at an end,
and the sooner I can get away the better.  I don’t think I ought even to
wait for my father."

"You must be as patient as you can.  In the present state of affairs you
would never get your stock across country safely.  I’ll do all I can,
and keep you informed through Joseph how things are shaping."



                               CHAPTER VI

                                 RIGOUR


It was now the beginning of September. Frank had received no letters
from Europe for two or three weeks, nor the parcel of London newspapers
which he was accustomed to get by the weekly mail.  He suspected that
this had been confiscated by the officials.  All the news he heard was
that given out by the authorities, together with that which was brought
him by Joseph, who was in a position to learn more than was common
property.  His father, Isaac Kopri, the contractor, included in his
business organization a private intelligence department.  He got
important news as a rule long before the general public, and often
before the officials themselves.  The value of his information of course
depended on its source, and his agents could only pass on what was
officially given out in the towns where they were stationed, and the
unofficial rumours that passed from mouth to mouth.  Thus it happened
that, even five weeks after the outbreak of war, Frank knew next to
nothing of the actual course of events, and, if he had believed what was
reported, would have been wretched because Paris and Warsaw were in the
hands of the Germans, the British navy was annihilated, all the British
colonies in revolt, and London at the mercy of the enemy.

One day, happily, Joseph brought in, hidden in the folds of his
garments, a number of London newspapers which had come into the hands of
his father.  From these Frank learnt that though Belgium was occupied by
the Germans, their offensive had been checked in all quarters, and their
hope of an easy and a speedy triumph was shattered.  What most deeply
interested him, however, was the news that Lord Kitchener was creating
an immense new army, the ranks of which were being rapidly filled by
volunteers from every class and section of the people.  This did but
increase his eagerness to get away from Erzerum. He longed for the day
to come when he might hurry back to England and enlist in what promised
to be the first national army that Britain had put into the field since
the far-gone days when every citizen was a soldier as a matter of
course.

Day by day it grew clearer from Joseph’s reports that Germany would drag
Turkey into the war.  Wonckhaus was constantly at the Governor’s house;
the Governor’s aides-de-camp were frequent visitors to Wonckhaus.  The
9th Army Corps was being brought up to full strength, and German
officers were drilling the recruits. It was even announced that the
Governor himself would shortly be replaced by a German officer of high
rank.  One morning Joseph announced that Wonckhaus had appeared in the
uniform of a major in the Turkish army; it had become known that in his
own country he had been a captain of Landwehr.  The ostensible merchant
had been all along, it was clear, an agent of the German Government.

Weeks passed, irksomely, drearily.  No letter came from Mr. Forester.
Frank was never allowed to leave his house.  Night and day a sentry
stood on guard.  Frank could take exercise only in his yard and on his
roof.  He did his best to keep himself in condition by means of
gymnastic practice, but he was becoming low-spirited and sick of his
life.  Ideas of attempting escape often came to him, but were always
checked by the thought of his stock, worth several thousands of pounds,
which he felt he could not leave to be confiscated.  To sell it was
impossible.  In the present situation no one would buy it; if any one
were so rash as to purchase, he would probably be making a present of
his money and the goods to the Turkish officials.

Frank’s fears in this regard were confirmed by the news brought him one
day by Joseph. The _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ had been attacking Russian
vessels in the Black Sea. War was certain.  A matter that affected Frank
more closely was a conversation which Kopri had partially overheard
between the new German Governor and Wonckhaus. Frank’s name had been
mentioned, in what connection Kopri, being ignorant of German, did not
know.  But he suggested that the authorities were only awaiting a formal
declaration of war to seize the Foresters’ stock, among other English
property. Wonckhaus was well aware of its value, and apart from its
usefulness in assisting the Turkish finances, Wonckhaus had a personal
grudge to pay off.

This news set Frank in a ferment.  Every other consideration was now
subordinated in his mind to the question of saving his stock.  He was at
his wits’ end.  He consulted with Joseph, but Joseph seemed unable to
suggest any likely means.  It was only at the end of a long conversation
that the Armenian sprang a surprise upon him.

In Erzerum, owing to the constantly recurring troubles, the Armenians
have various hiding-places in which they secrete their valuables and
occasionally themselves.  The whereabouts of these spots is jealously
guarded, and it was only when Frank had given up his problem in despair
that Joseph divulged a secret locked up in his breast.

"Why on earth didn’t you tell me this before?" demanded Frank with some
indignation.

Joseph begged for forgiveness on the plea that the secret belonged to
his community, and he had his father’s permission to reveal it only in
the last resort.

"Well, send the servants out of the house on some errand or other, and
then show me the place."

The house was an old one, which had played a part in the troubled
history of the city.  When the servants had been disposed of, Joseph
took Frank to one of the lower rooms.  The back wall was apparently
built against the solid hillside; but a sliding panel, cunningly
disguised, gave access to a narrow passage which bent abruptly to the
left. Groping his way through this for some distance at Joseph’s heels,
Frank found himself in a small chamber about eight feet square.  He
sniffed.

"What is this smell of smoke?" he asked.

"There is a narrow pipe running into the chimney next door," Joseph
replied.

"Does Wonckhaus know of it?" asked Frank instantly.

"It is not at all likely.  Karamin, who owns this house, probably does
not know of it.  If he does, he would not tell Wonckhaus. I should not
have told you but----"

"Yes, yes; I understand.  But this is capital.  We can bring here the
most valuable part of our stock; it won’t do to bring it all, for
Wonckhaus would suspect a hiding-place if he found all our things gone.
Come, let us do it at once."

Together they worked for an hour or two in transporting the most
valuable rugs, including Mirza Aga’s, to the secret chamber. When this
was done, and the panel replaced, Frank felt exultingly confident that
the inevitable search would completely baffle the enemy.

He had not long to wait for confirmation of his faith.  October dragged
away; on November 2 the streets were filled with excited people,
cheering the news that the British and Russian ambassadors had left
Constantinople.  In anticipation of the outbreak of hostilities troops
had been for some days marching eastward and north-eastward towards the
Russian frontier and the Caucasus, deluded by their German officers into
the belief that Russia had withdrawn the greater part of her forces from
Transcaucasia to withstand the German onslaught on Poland, and that they
would have an easy task in recovering the ground lost in the war of
1878.

On the same day, a Turkish officer with a file of men came to Frank’s
house.  Leaving the men at the door, he entered.

"I regret, effendim," he said to Frank politely, "that I have orders to
arrest you and convey you to the citadel."

"For what reason, and on what charge?" asked Frank.

"Your country and mine are now at war, effendim.  As an alien of
military age, you cannot remain at large.  Besides, there is that matter
of blocking the road.  The higher authorities at Stamboul have not yet
given their decision; but in the meantime the Governor deems it
necessary to imprison you.  I assure you of my personal regret, and on
the Governor’s part that your treatment shall be as mild as possible."

Frank did not then know what mildness meant, as interpreted by German
military officers.  The Turkish lieutenant’s politeness and apologetic
manner prevented him from feeling any personal resentment at the moment.

While he was gathering a few things together, Wonckhaus came in.  The
German was so impatient to secure his booty, and possibly to enjoy the
spectacle of his victim’s humiliation, that he had not waited for
Frank’s departure.  Accompanied by one of his clerks, he hastened to the
storeroom, and taking from his pocket a list of the stock, obtained
Frank knew not how, began to call over the items.

"You take an inventory for the purpose of safeguarding my property and
returning it at the end of the war, I presume," said Frank to the Turk.

"That I know nothing about," was the answer.  "The Governor will no
doubt do everything in order.  Are you ready, effendim?"

"In a minute or two, if you don’t mind waiting until Major Wonckhaus has
completed his task."

Wonckhaus’s voice could be heard from the storeroom.

"The rug of Shiraz, 16 by 12.  Where is that?  Not here?  And the
Khorassan rug of Mirza Aga.  Not here?  But it must be here.  It has not
been sold.  It has not been removed.  Pull down that big Ispahan carpet;
it may be under that."

A few minutes passed.  Wonckhaus was growing furious.  He uttered a
resounding German curse.

"Come, we must search the house," he cried.

He returned to the room where Frank stood, glared at him savagely,
glanced around, and assuring himself that the rugs on the floor were of
no great value, proceeded to a systematic search of the premises.  He
ransacked every room, and went so far as to strip the roof of its turf.
But nowhere could he find the Khorassan rug of Mirza Aga, or several
other rugs representing some tens of thousands of German marks.

Frank, in spite of his situation, was amused. Wonckhaus, he thought,
could hardly show his hand so completely as to demand information about
property which was in no way his concern, and his rage and air of
bafflement when he returned to the lower room was certainly comical to
witness. Frank’s amusement would have been less if he could have
foreseen what the discrepancy between the actual stock and the list was
to cost him.

Plunder was Wonckhaus’s object, and, to Frank’s surprise--he did not yet
know German shamelessness---Wonckhaus now made no secret of it.  He went
to the office desk, wrenched it open--"He might at least have asked for
the key," thought Frank--and examined the stock book.  He wheeled round.

"The stock is short," he cried.  "What have you done with the goods?"

Frank looked at him with a smile, but said nothing.

"Do you hear?" shouted Wonckhaus, the charm of manner which had won him
a certain popularity among the Europeans dropping from him like a
loosened garment. "What have you done with the goods?"

Frank turned to the Turkish officer.

"Major Wonckhaus is curious about my business," he said.  "I have no
information to give."

Wonckhaus blustered.  He roared at Joseph, who had been standing silent
in the background.

"You fellow, where are the rugs?  What have you done with them?"

"I am my master’s servant," said Joseph quietly.

"And your father’s son!" cried the German.  "You will tell me instantly
what I want to know, or you will find yourself laid by the heels, and
the army will have another contractor."

Wonckhaus had lost his temper, or he would have reflected that a change
of contractors at this critical moment was out of the question.  Joseph
was shrewd enough to perceive the emptiness of his threat, and merely
replied that he could say nothing without his master’s orders.

At this moment, while Wonckhaus was glaring with baffled rage at Frank
and his faithful clerk, a non-commissioned officer came in.

"A message from the Governor, effendim," he said to the lieutenant.
"The Englishman is to be kept a prisoner in the upper storey of this
house, the lower storey will be occupied by his guards."

To Frank this was very agreeable news. He had felt unhappy at the
prospect of being shut up in the common prison, or even in the soldiers’
prison at the citadel: Turkish jails are unsavoury places.  In his own
house he would at least be able to keep clean.  Moreover, he would then
be able, in a sense, to watch over his carpets.  The hiding-place could
hardly be discovered without his hearing of it, and there would be a
certain satisfaction in knowing that his property was still safe, or, if
it were found, in learning definitely what had become of it.  He
afterwards discovered that the change of plan was due to the British
consul, who had learnt of the order for his arrest when he applied for a
passport for him, and had obtained this indulgence from the Governor.

Frank noticed that Wonckhaus also appeared to get some satisfaction from
the change.  The German made no further attempt to obtain the
information he desired, and left the house.  Frank was taken upstairs
and locked in his own bedroom. Joseph, however, was marched off by a
couple of the soldiers, and it was some few days before Frank learnt
what had become of him.



                              CHAPTER VII

                               TEMPTATION


Frank felt that while things might have been worse, they were quite bad
enough. The ostensible reason of his imprisonment being that he was of
military age, he foresaw the possibility of his remaining a prisoner
until the end of the war--perhaps a year, for while he had a great
respect for Germany’s military power, he did not think it likely that
she could withstand the forces of the Triple Entente for more than
twelve months.

At first he had no great hardship to endure.  His own servants had been
dismissed, but he had been given as personal attendant an old Arab named
Hussein who combined the natural courtesy of his race with another
Eastern characteristic--a keen appetite for bakshish.  Frank had been
allowed to keep his ready money, and was thus able to purchase many
comforts to supplement the prisoner’s fare supplied him. Hussein, of
course, made a handsome profit out of every transaction in which he was
thus employed, and Frank soon saw the necessity of self-restraint, for
money would not last for ever, and there was no chance of obtaining
more.

Hussein was talkative and intelligent, always polite, and, Frank
suspected, sly. It was from him that Frank learnt, after a few days,
that Joseph had been released from the common jail and had left the
town.  The Turks were straining every nerve to collect supplies for
their campaign in the Caucasus, and Joseph’s father the contractor was
too useful a man to be alienated. It was not long before Frank had proof
of Hussein’s slyness.

"The days are getting colder, effendim," he said one day.  "There was
snow in the night."

"Very uncomfortable for the army," said Frank.

"True.  Our winter is very long, very bitter. It is not so in your
country, effendim?"

"Not so bitter, perhaps, but quite as long as we like it."

"Wallahy!  This country is not a healthy place for Englishmen in the
winter.  Hundreds of them have left Turkey, so it is told me.  Of a
truth Turkey is not a healthy place for them now!  A pity you are not
gone too, effendim."

"Well, I am certainly not here by my own wish."

"A wish is the father of an action, effendim. You have but to wish,
and----"

"What are you driving at?" said Frank as the Arab paused.

"There was a man of Trebizond who being falsely accused and unjustly
cast into prison, nevertheless after taking thought confessed with tears
that he was guilty of that crime; whereupon the heart of his jailer was
softened and his hand was opened to receive the slight gifts that were
the tokens of the prisoner’s repentance, and within a little that man
was free, and able to sin again or to lead a virtuous life as so pleased
him."

"A parable, Hussein?" said Frank with a smile.

"For the ears of the wise, effendim. Wallahy! what are a man’s goods in
comparison with his freedom?"

"Which being interpreted means that you will let me go in exchange for
what you call a few slight gifts?"

"Truly such gifts, here a little, there a little, will unlock prison
doors and unbar city gates.  But there is first one small matter, and
that is that you breathe in my ear the nook where those few paltry rugs
lie hid.  Wallahy! what are a few threads of wool against the open road
and the boundless sky?"

"Oho, friend Hussein!  I must contrive a double debt to pay, is that it?
The pipe sings sweetly when the fowler is snaring a bird, but this
particular bird, I assure you, is not to be snared.  You will waste your
breath, Hussein."

"Allah is great!" said the Arab, as he made the salam and left the room.

A few days passed.  Frank noticed that there was a slight deterioration
in the quality of his food.  Then one morning he had a visit from
Wonckhaus.

"Good-morning, Mr. Forester," said the German pleasantly.  "What an
unfortunate thing this is!"

Frank made no answer.  After a pause the German went on:

"We have been rivals in business, and now, through an unfortunate
misunderstanding between our Governments, we are enemies.  But the
enmity is official, not personal, I assure you.  We have crossed each
other in business, but business men do not quarrel.  And there is one
circumstance that should make us friends.  After all, you and I are
Europeans among Orientals; that is a bond between us; and you will not
take amiss advice honestly given by one European to another.  You may
not credit it" (Frank didn’t), "but up to the present I have stood
between the Turks and you. But for me your life would not have been
worth a snap.  Now I am about to leave the city for the front.  The
Turkish army, led by German officers, is about to deal a smashing blow
to the barbarous Russians in the Caucasus, and to occupy Batum.  Before
I leave, it would give me great pleasure to see you in a safer position.
It merely needs the exercise of your capital English principle of
give-and-take.  Why not disclose the whereabouts of your useless stock?
In return, I would contrive that you should be sent to Constantinople
and ultimately released."

Frank did not speak.  His fingers were drumming on the table, his eyes
fixed on the German’s.

"I merely drop you a friendly hint," Wonckhaus resumed.  "Things are
looking very serious.  The Turks are making a beginning with the
Armenians: when the appetite for blood is whetted, they may easily fail
to discriminate between Armenians and other enemies.  You will not
forget that you are in a very remote place.  Erzerum is not
Constantinople.  Take a friend’s advice and get back to civilisation.  I
will act as a go-between.  If you will confide in me, I will make your
peace with the Turks."

"What guarantee do you offer?" asked Frank, opening his lips at last.

"My word; you will not require more; the word of a German and an
officer."

"But surely, Herr Wonckhaus, unless I am mistaken your word has not
hitherto been accepted even by your allies the Turks. Pardon me for
asking what has happened to give it value."

"You insult me!" snapped the German.

"Really I don’t think so; I merely state a fact.  You offer me something
of no value as security for something of considerable value.  That is
not a business proposition."

Wonckhaus, stung as much by Frank’s scornful tone as by his words,
flushed darkly, and took a step forward, laying his hand on his sword.

"You English swine!" he cried.  "You dare to insult me--me, an officer
of the Kaiser?"

Frank had sprung up, and seized the handiest weapon available--a small
three-legged stool.  Keeping the table between himself and the German,
he grasped the stool by one leg, and said:

"Keep your distance!"

Wonckhaus, whether daunted by Frank’s threatening attitude or for some
reason of policy, stood still, glaring venomously. Then he banged his
half-drawn sword into its scabbard, and swung round.  At the door he
turned suddenly.

"Before your English carcase is flung to the dogs of Erzerum," he
sputtered, "you will have time to--to repent your insolence."

He swung round again, slammed the door behind him, ordered Hussein
outside to lock it, and clattered down the steps.

Frank dropped the stool and sat down, smiling at the feeble end of the
German’s explosive sentence.  But the smile soon passed.  His English
spirit would not allow him to be cowed by Wonckhaus’s threat, but
remembering his isolated situation he could not help feeling uneasy.  It
was well for his peace of mind that he was not aware of what German
frightfulness had already accomplished in Belgium.

It was not long before he began to feel the effects of Wonckhaus’s
malice.  The cold weather had set in, and the Armenian winter is
excessively cold.  His apartment had been warmed by a nargal or charcoal
stove.  This was not replenished.

"The fire has gone out," he said to the Arab, when he brought his
dinner.

"Fuel is very dear, effendim."

"I have still some money; I will pay."

"It cannot be bought, effendim.  It is all required for the troops, who
are slaying tens of thousands of Russians in the bleak mountains."

"Buy me some blankets, then."

"That also is impossible, effendim.  Our brave soldiers need all the
blankets in the frosty heights.  Why does not your nobility send for
those wasted rugs?"

The man’s sly look made Frank itch to thrash him.  It was clear from his
manner that he was acting under instructions. Frank noticed, too, that
his food was being reduced in quantity as well as poorer in quality, and
suspected that this was directly due to Wonckhaus; the Turks as a rule
do not treat their prisoners inhumanely.  More than once he had thought
of trying to escape, and with his increasing hardships his mind recurred
to it again and again.  To get out of the building might not be very
difficult; Orientals are notoriously slack in guard; the lock of his
room might be forced, and the soldiers in the rooms below evaded.  But
then the real difficulties would begin.  He would be recognised in the
streets as a European; even before he could reach the walls discovery
and arrest were certain. Escape was impossible without assistance from
outside, and he had no means of communicating with friends, nor was it
probable that any European friends remained in the town.

Tortured by cold and hunger, Frank spent the most wretched month of his
life during December.  Strong though he was in constitution, he felt
that he was growing weaker. For a time he tried to keep himself in
condition by daily physical exercises; but insufficient food and lack of
fresh air--he was allowed to mount to the roof for an hour a
day--gradually reduced his energy.  There was nothing to alleviate the
tedium of his imprisonment: no newspapers, no books, nothing to occupy
his mind.  He was often tempted to purchase his freedom by surrendering
his secret; but his native resolution and the mental picture of
Wonckhaus’s triumph kept him steadfast.  And it was no ordinary will
that could have withstood day after day Hussein’s sly reminders of how
easy it would be to command all the comforts he lacked.

One day early in January he heard unusual sounds on the staircase--a
series of heavy clumping blows slowly ascending towards his room.  The
door opened, and Wonckhaus hobbled in on a crutch, assisted by an
orderly, who stood in the doorway as if on guard, motionless, with
expressionless face.  The German looked pale and worn. He was swathed in
heavy furs.

"I had not thought to revisit you so soon, Mr. Forester," he said, "but
a Russian bullet has enforced me to return to the city for a short time,
and I felt bound to see how you were faring."

Frank was silent; he was, in fact, amazed that Wonckhaus should have
cared to show his face again after what had passed at their last
interview.  "The Germans must have uncommonly tough hides," he thought.

"Is there anything I can do for your comfort?" Wonckhaus continued.
"You are not looking very well.  I have some influence, a very little,
with the Turks."

The German’s manner was so subdued, his tone so courteous, that Frank
wondered whether after all he had misjudged him. Perhaps he had been
over hasty; perhaps there was some decent feeling in the man, which his
own uncompromising attitude had prevented from showing itself before.

"I want warmth and good food," he said.

"Not warm enough?" exclaimed Wonckhaus. "Yet it does not appear cold.
Indeed, I am too warm."  He unloosed his fur coat.  "And food, too; why,
what do they give you?"

Frank saw that the German was playing with him.  In a revulsion of
feeling he flushed hotly, and was about to give utterance to his
thoughts, but he restrained himself with an effort and remained silent.

"Call Hussein," said Wonckhaus to the orderly, whom Frank had seen
without observing.

The Arab entered.  The orderly followed him, and stood in the
background.  Frank just glanced at him, and was surprised to see him
raise a finger to his lips, then drop his hand quickly and stand
motionless as before, looking, however, hard at Frank.  Wonckhaus and
the Arab had turned towards each other, or they might have noticed the
slight start and the enquiring glance into which Frank had been
surprised by the orderly’s movement.

"The effendi complains of his food," said Wonckhaus.  "What does he
get?"

While Hussein, with a look of sly enjoyment, was retailing the list of
the meagre rations supplied, the orderly drew from his tunic a watch,
apparently of cheap European or American make.  He did not look at it,
but held it up, then glanced at the window in the wall above his head on
the left.  Wonckhaus, following Frank’s eyes, turned round.  The orderly
was affecting to look at the time.

"You surprise me, Hussein," said the German.  "The diet is more than
liberal. How often during the past month should I and my brave men have
been grateful for such rations!  Ah! these luxurious English! They have
lived on the fat of the land.  And what is the result?  They are
degenerate; they have fed the body and starved the mind.  They are
learning their mistake. That will do, Hussein."

The Arab left the room.  The orderly returned the watch to his pocket,
holding it significantly suspended by the chain for a moment.  Then he
stared straight in front of him, unintelligent, impassive.

"Well now, Mr. Forester," said Wonckhaus, "the lot of a prisoner can
never be quite comfortable, though it is preferable to the hard lot of
the fighting man.  If you feel discomfort, the remedy is in your own
hands.  I need not repeat the explanations which you received so
churlishly at our last meeting.  I will give you another week for
reflection.  At the end of that time--well, we shall see!"



                              CHAPTER VIII

                           A LEAP IN THE DARK


"What does it mean?" thought Frank, once more alone.

The German’s orderly, it was clear, had signalled to him.  Who was the
man? What message had he intended to convey? From whom was the message?

Frank had at first hardly noticed the man. Even when his attention was
attracted, he had observed the man’s actions rather than the man
himself.  He did not recognise him.  The man was young; he wore the
ordinary uniform of the Turkish soldier; whether he was a pure Turk, or
an Armenian, or an Anatolian, or a member of any other of the races that
are represented in the Turkish army, Frank could not tell. Whoever he
was, the one plain fact was that he was a friend, and it was remarkable
enough that a friend should have appeared in company with Wonckhaus.

What did he mean by his stealthy manoeuvres with the watch?  Frank
remembered how the man had glanced from the watch to the window.  Did he
suggest a connection between them?  Almost unconsciously Frank took out
his own watch and noted the time; then he replaced it in his pocket,
looking absent-mindedly at the window.  And then an explanation flashed
upon him.  The messenger, or his employer, knew English. He knew it well
enough to play upon words. "Watch the window!"  That must be the
message.

Frank got up and paced the room.

"There’s somebody working for me outside," he thought.  "Very likely
Joseph. Though I never knew Joseph to make a pun.  Still, he does know a
little English. But why should I watch the window?"

He stood beneath it, and looked at the small square frame, scarcely
larger than a ship’s porthole.  It might be just possible to squeeze
through it.  Did his friend, whoever he was, intend that he should
escape that way?  Would he find a ladder placed against the wall?  Such
an escape would be possible only on some dark night, and what was the
good of watching the window in the dark?  Besides, with soldiers in the
lower rooms, was it possible to place a ladder so silently as not to
arouse their attention? If it were possible, would not his movements be
seen at least by some prowling dog, whose barks would give the alarm?

Frank was puzzled.  As he walked up and down, his head was constantly
turned towards the window; it seemed as though he dared not take his
eyes from it for a moment, lest in that moment he should miss the chance
of release.  When night came, he threw himself on his bed, and lay for
hours wakeful, gazing in the one direction.  No light was allowed him.
He looked up at the stars until they appeared to dance, and his eyes
ached with following their fantastic movements.  That night he scarcely
slept.  If he found himself dozing, he would rouse himself with a start,
and stare again at that spot in the wall which was only distinguishable
from the blank spaces about it by the winking stars.

Next day it was the same.  Worn and nervous, whether he sat or walked,
even when Hussein brought him his meals, he stared at the window.  The
Arab noticed the fixity of his gaze, and told the soldiers downstairs
that the Ingliz would soon go out of his mind.  And indeed, when two
days and a night had passed, and nothing had appeared at the blank pane,
Frank himself felt that suspense and the strain of watching would drive
him mad.

On the night of the second day, just after dark, when Frank for the sake
of warmth was lying beneath the bedclothes, wakeful and hopeless, he was
suddenly startled by an unusual sound--a slight tapping, like the
flapping of a blind-cord against glass.  His heart was thumping as he
sprang out of bed and ran to the window.  It was too dark to see
anything, but there was unmistakably an object of some kind lightly
striking the glass at irregular intervals. Excited with expectation, he
mounted on the stool and reaching up for the fastening of the casement,
slowly and cautiously, to avoid noise, he undid the rusty latch, and
drew the casement inwards.  The blast of inrushing air was bitterly
cold.  He thrust out his hand, moving it from side to side, but felt
nothing.

At this moment he heard heavy footsteps clumping up the stairs that led
past his room to the roof.  He closed the window, though the sound had
not surprised him: it was only the men going up to fetch the sheep which
were taken up every morning to graze on the turf-covered roof, and
brought down every night.  He heard the footsteps coming down: then all
was silent again.

Shivering with cold, Frank had remained at the window.  Would the signal
be repeated?  It seemed hours before he again heard the flapping.  Once
more he opened the window, and now his groping fingers touched a thin
cord hanging from above.  He caught it and pulled it in eagerly.
Presently he grasped a stout rope attached to the cord. He drew in a few
feet of it, and then could draw no more.  The rope was taut.  On the
roof some ten feet above some one held or had fastened this rope for his
deliverance.

It was clear that the next move was with him.  He was expected to emerge
through the window and climb up the rope to the roof.  The window was so
high in the wall that he could only reach it by standing on the table.
Swiftly he moved this to the spot, wondering whether after all the
window was wide enough for his body.  And when he stood on the table,
preparing to make the attempt, he paused with a sudden dread. Who were
these people outside?  Were they indeed friends?  Was it a trick on the
part of Wonckhaus, who had laid this trap for him, so that he might have
an excuse for removing an insecure prisoner to the common jail?  But on
second thoughts he dismissed the suspicion.  Wonckhaus had no need of
trickery if he wished to increase the rigour of Frank’s imprisonment.
"I’ll risk it," he murmured.

And now his difficulties began.  Inside, the window had only a narrow
ledge; outside, it was flush with the wall: there was no sill.  When
once he had got through, there was no possibility of returning; but to
get through--that was the problem.  There was no secure foothold after
he left the table; the window was too low for him to stand upright on
the ledge, or even to sit on it.  He would have to haul himself out by
main strength.

He placed his chair on the table, and standing on that, found that his
head was now higher than the top of the window. Then he stooped, put his
head out, braced himself for the effort, and taking a grip on the rope
as high above his head as he could, he lifted his feet and threw his
whole weight on it.  For a moment it yielded slightly, but then became
taut again.  Then he got his knees on the ledge, rested a few seconds,
grasped the rope a little higher, and managed to drag his legs out so
that he swung clear.

At this critical moment his energy was almost paralysed by the fear of
falling. The roof was only ten or twelve feet above him, and a few
months before he would have made light of swarming up a rope of double
that length.  It was only now, when he was committed to the enterprise
beyond recall, that he realised how his strength had been reduced by
privation and want of exercise.  But exerting his will to the utmost, he
began to haul himself up hand over hand.  Bits of earth struck him, and
thudded on the ground below.  The fear that the sound would bring the
soldiers out made him try to climb faster; but finding his strength
failing, he twisted his leg round the rope and steadied himself for a
further effort. More material fell from above, and struck the ground
with a heavier thud.  Sounds from the lower floor warned him that the
men’s attention had been aroused, and he climbed on, ascending by slow
and painful inches.  In spite of himself he was forced to rest again,
but the support his legs gained from the rope was not sufficient to
relieve the strain on his arms, and he had almost given himself up for
lost when he felt the rope being slowly drawn up.  Too weak to climb
further, he could only grip the rope and ascend passively, bumping
against the wall and scoring his knuckles.

Below him there were voices, of which he was hardly conscious, so
intense was the strain.  Then there was a flash upward from an electric
torch, and a shout.  He felt that his grip was loosening; he was at the
point of despair when his wrist was grasped from above.  The touch
braced him for a final effort; his other wrist was gripped, and next
moment he was dragged by main force over the low parapet on to the roof,
just as a shot rang out.

[Illustration: AT THE POINT OF DESPAIR]

Half fainting, he was hauled to his feet, and half carried, half dragged
across the turf towards the hillside sloping behind. Up this his
rescuers stumbled with him until they reached a narrow track beyond
Wonckhaus’s house.  They heard shouts on the roof they had just left,
from the ground below, dogs barking, sounds of growing commotion.  The
darkness concealed them; their flight was favoured by the clamour. On
and on they stumbled, the two rescuers finding their way like cats in
the darkness. The shouts became fainter.  They moderated their pace, and
in a few minutes came to an open doorway.  Into this they dived. The
door closed silently behind them, and Frank sank in the swoon of
exhaustion.



                               CHAPTER IX

                              A REHEARSAL


It was two days later.

On the slope of the hill, not a stone’s throw from the house where
Hermann Wonckhaus was nursing his wounded leg and meditating on carpets,
was a modest dwelling, huddled among more pretentious buildings, and so
inconspicuous that a passer would hardly have thought it worth while to
wonder who lived there.  At the rear of this house, hollowed out of the
hillside, was a small dark chamber with neither door nor window.  Any
person who might have been brought there in a state of unconsciousness
would have supposed, on waking, that he was sealed up within four walls
from which he could not escape.

On this particular day three men were in the room, one elderly, the
others young. A small oil lamp placed on a wall bracket gave a dim
light, and the air was oppressive with staleness and the flavour of
smoke. It was not a place where one would have desired to remain long,
but its three occupants had chosen it as the scene of a somewhat
important rehearsal.

The elderly man was Isaac Kopri, the astute and capable Armenian
contractor to the Turkish army in Erzerum.  One of the youths was his
son Joseph.  The second was to all appearance one of those humble
Armenians who are employed in driving caravan horses from the Persian
frontier to Erzerum and thence to the Black Sea port of Trebizond.  He
stood at one end of the room, facing his companions at the wall
opposite.

Kopri stepped forward, and, speaking in Turkish, asked sharply:

"Who are you?"

"I am your servant, effendim," replied the young man, "Reuben Donessa,
the son of Aaron of the Five Wells."

"Where do you come from?"

"From Bashkala, effendim."

"How old are you?"

"Truly I know not, effendim, but my years may be nineteen or twenty."

"Why are you not in the army?"

"Because it is the will of Allah and the noble governor that I should be
dispensed from the war service of the Illustrious."

"Where is your paper?"

"Behold it, effendim."

He took from the breast of his shaggy tunic a dirty crumpled paper,
which Kopri took and read aloud.  It set forth the style and titles of
the Sultan, then those of his deputy the governor of Erzerum, and
finally declared: "Certifies that the bearer, Reuben Donessa, is
employed in the service of Isaac Kopri, contractor to the army of the
Commander of the Faithful."

"Isaac Kopri should employ older men, but your paper is in order.  You
may go."

"Peace be with you, effendim."

"Very good, very good," said Kopri, handing back the paper.  "But you
must pitch your voice a little higher.  Joseph, say ’I am your humble
servant, effendim.’"

Joseph repeated the words.

"That is the tone, mark you," said his father.  "Now we will go through
it again."

The dialogue was repeated, the driver, who seemed somewhat amused at the
gravity of the others, imitating Joseph’s reedy intonation.

"That is better," said Kopri at its conclusion.  "But remember,
effendim, tone and accent are not everything.  You must bow, and stand
humbly, and cast down your eyes, not look forthright into the eyes of
your questioner when you answer him.  We Armenians have been oppressed
for five hundred years.  We move meekly on the face of the earth.  You
Englishmen bear yourselves differently.  You walk and stand as if you
were the lords of the world.  If you would pass for an Armenian you must
remember that in the eyes of the Turk you are less than the smallest
grain of dust. Keep that in mind, and all will be well."

Frank smiled as he made a humble salam.

"How will that do?" he asked.

"Very good, very good--with a little more crook in the knees.  And now I
will explain my plan."

Frank had been rescued by Joseph with the help of Ali, the faithful
Kurd, and brought to this secret chamber in the obscure house, from
which it was entered by a passage beneath the floor.  His escape had
raised a commotion in the town.  Search had been made for him in all
directions until Kopri started a rumour that he had bribed Kurds to pass
him through Kurdistan into Persia.  Wonckhaus was furious, and had
promised a high reward to any one who captured the fugitive.

When Joseph was released, in the early days of Frank’s imprisonment, his
father thought it politic that he should leave the town, and had taken
him away on one of his business journeys into the country. Then, fearing
that the Armenians were about to suffer in one of the wholesale
massacres which break forth in times of disturbance, Kopri had sent all
his family to Constantinople, where they would be for a time, at least,
safer than in Erzerum, and whence they might in case of need slip across
the frontier into Bulgaria or Greece. He himself had the protection of
the military authorities, but this might fail him at any moment; indeed,
he had already been forced to part with some of his profits in the way
of war contributions.

Having thus disposed of his family, Kopri was now intending to join
them.  The Turkish army in the Caucasus was hard pressed by the
Russians, and in great need of supplies.  With the ostensible purpose of
fetching provisions, Kopri was arranging to take a large number of mules
to Trebizond, to await his return from Constantinople. Most of the mules
were already on the road. He would follow at the tail end of the
caravan, which was in charge of a few specially trusty men, and his plan
was that Frank and Joseph should slip out of the city by night, and join
him at Ilija, a village at the foot of the hills to the west.

Kopri was well aware of the risks he was running in assisting the
Englishman’s escape. But Mr. Forester was an old friend of his, and
learning in Constantinople that the merchant, on his return there, had
been greatly distressed at being unable to communicate with his son, he
had willingly yielded to Joseph’s entreaty that they should attempt to
rescue Frank.  He remembered also how Frank had run risks in defending
his house from the mob.  Mr. Forester had of course left Constantinople
with other British residents at the outbreak of war, but he had left
word that he should not travel farther than Malta, where he would remain
until he had news of Frank.

The arrangements having been thoroughly discussed, Kopri left the house,
where his son was to stay with Frank until nightfall. As soon as it was
dark, the two slipped out, and crossing roofs, threading alley ways,
stealing over gardens, they came at length to the ramparts of the city.
The old walls, defended by sixty-two towers, had long been demolished
and replaced by mounds of earth with ditches.  Guns were mounted at
intervals, and the four gates were closely guarded by sentinels; but
between them there were many spots where discreet persons might scale
the ramparts, and at one of these an Armenian servant of Kopri’s was
awaiting the fugitives, with a rope by which to let them down on the
outer side.

They had taken the precaution to wear white garments, so that dark
figures should not show against the snow that covered the ground.
Safely over the ramparts, they hurried by a roundabout route across the
snow-clad plain, and near midnight arrived at Ilija, where they found
Kopri in a small inn with five muleteers.  Here they rested for the
night.  Next morning they started as soon as it was light.

Few would have recognised Frank in the rough garb of a muleteer.  Nor
was he so pale as might have been expected after months of confinement
and privation.  Joseph had utilised the two days of hiding to effect a
transformation in his master’s complexion. He had lightly stained his
face, hair, arms, and the upper part of his body.  There must be no
tell-tale patches to rouse suspicion.  And with his dark skin and rough
dirty clothes Frank bore little likeness to the well-dressed fair
Englishman for whom Wonckhaus’s emissaries had sought high and low.

For ten days the caravan marched over plain and hill, on a road on which
the snow had been beaten down and hardened by the passage of many
travellers.  The mules were laden with articles of merchandise for
Constantinople, including a number of carpets in rough bundles.  Frank
was in charge of one of these bundles.

Scarcely anything broke the slow monotony of the journey.  Here they
would meet a line of bullock-carts, groaning and creaking under loads of
uniforms and equipment for the Caucasian army.  Then would come a long
string of shaggy Bactrian camels, padding noiselessly along with their
drivers in sheepskin caps marching at the side.  Once they met a family
of turbaned Moslems on horseback, sitting astride their overhanging
mattresses, from which hung a jangling cluster of cooking-pots.  Sturdy
Armenian peasants on foot, Kurdish horsemen, a regiment of infantry for
whose passage the mules had to leave the beaten road for the soft snow
at the sides, formed part of the traffic which the caravan encountered
from time to time.

The journey imposed a considerable strain on Frank, weakened by his
imprisonment. But he had a good constitution, and it was gradually
re-established by the keen air, and the plentiful food which was
obtained at the khans en route.  And when, on the afternoon of the tenth
day after leaving Erzerum, the caravan defiled into the streets of
Trebizond, he was conscious of having recovered something of his old
vigour, and refreshed by the sight of the sea on whose waters he would
soon be borne to Constantinople.  But, not having the gift of second
sight, he was far from imagining the strange and perilous adventures
into which he was shortly to be plunged.



                               CHAPTER X

                            A BRITISH SHELL


The caravan jostled its way through the crowded streets of Trebizond
towards the landing-place.  The port was in a state of exceeding
liveliness.  Ships were loading and unloading in the harbour; caravans
were starting for the interior; and throngs of people of various
nationalities made kaleidoscopic patterns as they moved about in dresses
of every hue, the Persians conspicuous by their high black caps and long
green robes reaching to the ankles.

Kopri’s mule train was directed towards a small coasting steamer, lying
alongside the quay, in which the contractor was a part owner.  She had
arrived the previous day with arms and ammunition from Constantinople,
and was to leave again that night on her return voyage, which would be
interrupted only by a call at Sinope to take in coal.  Large crates of
her recently unshipped cargo lay on the quay, awaiting transport, and
though most of them were covered with tarpaulins, Frank noticed that
many bore German marks.  Having given orders for the stowment of his
cargo, Kopri went to an inn overlooking the bay to pick up what news was
bruited.  He left Joseph in charge, and recommended that Frank should go
on board, ostensibly as shipping clerk, so as to be out of harm’s way.
The perishable merchandise was quickly stowed away below; the bales of
carpets strewed the deck.

When the contractor returned some hours later, he said that Trebizond
was greatly excited by a report that British and French warships had
begun to bombard the forts at the entrance of the Dardanelles.  It was
said, too, that Russian torpedo boats had been seen outside the harbour,
and the harbour-master had refused to allow the vessel to leave that
night.  Frank wondered whether he had escaped from the hands of Turkish
officers only to fall a victim to a Russian gun.  He remained on board
all night, looking forward with more interest than uneasiness to what
next day might bring forth.

Early in the morning the skipper was about to cast off when a messenger
came up from the military authorities ordering the vessel to await the
arrival of an important passenger.  Kopri was irked by the delay, and
had worked himself up into a state of nervous agitation when, after the
lapse of nearly two hours, the passenger arrived. And then his
nervousness almost betrayed him: the passenger was Hermann Wonckhaus. He
had discarded his crutch, but walked stiffly over the gangway, and at
once demanded that the captain’s cabin should be given him.  Frank was
standing by the forecastle when the German came on board, and he
instantly turned his back on him.  He felt that his disguise was not so
complete as that Wonckhaus would not recognise him, and wished that he
had aged his appearance by the addition of a beard. When the steamer put
out to sea, he was careful to keep out of the German’s sight, which was
the less difficult because they were naturally in different parts of the
vessel, and under the brisk north wind the sea was sufficiently choppy
to keep Wonckhaus in his cabin, prostrate with sickness. He did not
reappear until they had left Sinope with their cargo of coal, and then
he urged the skipper to hug the shore as closely as possible and to make
all speed for Constantinople: seasickness and the dread of a Russian
attack had made him nervous. The breeze had moderated, and Frank from a
safe coign of vantage watched Wonckhaus pacing the deck in conversation
with Kopri.  Presently the German sat down to rest on one of the bales
of carpet, and Frank’s heart leapt to his mouth: the bale thus
unwittingly chosen for a seat was Mirza Aga’s rug.  Kopri moved away to
speak to the skipper, and Wonckhaus, left alone, began by force of
commercial habit to peer at the bales by which he was surrounded.  He
lifted the covering of one at his right hand, and was stooping to
examine the one on which he was sitting, when Joseph, hovering near,
suddenly gave a shout and pointed excitedly seaward. Wonckhaus sprang up
and went to the side, with the skipper, Kopri, and some of the crew.

"A dark speck on the skyline," cried Joseph, with outstretched finger.

The group peered anxiously across the watery expanse; the skipper raised
his telescope.

"Where?  Where?" cried Wonckhaus, hastily unstrapping his field-glasses.

Joseph only pointed.  Nothing could be seen.  They continued to gaze for
some minutes, and then the skipper declared that Joseph must have been
mistaken.  The false alarm had effectually diverted Wonckhaus’s
attention from the carpets.  He remained at the side, sweeping the
horizon every now and then with his glasses, and he even ordered his
meals to be brought him on deck, lest if he went below the dreaded
warships should heave in sight.  Joseph’s quick wit had once more served
his master well.

It was a sunny afternoon when the vessel steamed between the well-wooded
shores of the entrance to the Bosporus.  To Frank the scene was too
familiar to hold any fresh charm; but his interest was quickened when he
noticed the long low shapes of the _Goeben_ and the _Breslau_ at anchor
in the strait. There were signs of repairing work proceeding on the
former.  Wonckhaus, who had now recovered his courage, talked to Kopri
about the vessels with swelling pride, while Joseph superintended the
rolling of the carpets to the side in preparation for unloading.  Frank
was not quite easy in mind until Wonckhaus had crossed the gangway and
disappeared among the crowd on the quay.

The cargo was unloaded, Kopri undertaking to convey the precious carpet
to a place of security.  Frank remained on board until the contractor
should return with information that might guide his future course.  That
information was not reassuring.  The British residents who had not been
able to get away from Constantinople in November were more or less under
arrest.  For the present Frank must remain an Armenian.  And since Kopri
had been ordered, instead of returning to Trebizond, to take on some
heavy crates and proceed at once to Panderma and Gallipoli, it seemed
better that he should remain on the vessel until she reached the latter
place, and then seek an opportunity of getting into Greece or Bulgaria.

The new cargo was brought on board without delay.  It consisted of heavy
cases, which Kopri surmised to contain ammunition, and quantities of
food stuffs for Gallipoli, whither troops were being despatched in all
haste both by land and sea.  Several German and Turkish officers came
aboard when the cargo had been stowed, and Frank was annoyed and
somewhat alarmed to see that Wonckhaus was among them.  It was irksome
to him to be continually on the watch, dodging the German.

The vessel ran down the Sea of Marmora to Panderma, the terminus of the
Smyrna railway, where some of the officers disembarked with the heavy
cases.  Frank was on deck when these were swung out of the hold.  As one
of them was in mid-air the tackle broke, and the case fell heavily on to
the quay, striking its edge.  In spite of the iron bands that held it
together it broke open, and one of the Turkish officers ordered Frank
among others standing by to run over and try to put it together.  The
break disclosed the top of the periscope of a submarine.  Frank had time
to notice the label of the case: it was addressed "Adramyti."  But he
saw no more, for a German captain rushed up in a rage, drove off the
crowd that was gathering, peremptorily ordered the crew to return to the
ship, and hurled volleys of abuse at the men in charge of the crane.

The vessel cast off the same evening and arrived at Gallipoli soon after
dawn.  It had hardly come to its moorings when the air vibrated with a
heavy boom.  A big gun had started work far away.  Every half-minute, as
it seemed, during the unloading of the vessel, the booming sound was
repeated, and Frank thrilled with excitement at the bombardment neither
the source nor the effects of which he was able to see.

When the cargo had been removed, he went on shore with Joseph, and
wandered about the beach, discussing the past and the future.  It was
now noon, the sun was bright, and Frank was debating whether to go for a
swim in spite of the cold breeze when a slight buzzing in the air caused
him to look up.  For some minutes he saw nothing in the cloudless sky,
though the sound increased; but presently he caught sight of a speck far
aloft, moving in a line that would soon bring it straight overhead.

It enlarged, soaring on like some strange bird.

"One of our aeroplanes," said Frank.

"Where shall we run?" asked Joseph, alarmed.

"We had better not run at all.  It may be only scouting, not out for
dropping bombs: and if it does drop a bomb, it will be on the wharves.
We are safer here on the open beach."

"But he might aim at the wharves and hit us," Joseph protested.

"I think better of our men," replied Frank with a smile; "but to please
you, we’ll get away into that pocket in the cliffs yonder."

They hastened across the beach to the left.  At the same moment the
aeroplane slightly changed its course and seemed to be following them.
Joseph in a panic darted to the right.  Frank stood still, watching the
droning machine with a curious interest devoid of fear.  It passed
overhead, at the rate of an express train.  Joseph was moving back
slowly when a long wail came down the sky.  Next moment there was a
crash. Joseph flung himself face downward on the sand.  Frank had jumped
a little, but his gaze had passed downward from the aeroplane to the
wharf.  A huge column of smoke, dust, splinters of wood had risen just
at the end of the landing-place.  Men were running about in all
directions, horses and mules were galloping, maddened oxen were
lumbering away with heavy-laden wagons; and the humming bird soared on
serenely.

When the agitation was stilled and order restored, Kopri beckoned up the
two young men.

"I have now a little leisure, effendim," he said to Frank.  "I propose
to take you to the house of a good friend of mine, on the cliff yonder
overlooking the plain.  He is a man of my race, and with him you may
dwell in safety until such time as your future course is made clear."

He led the way up through the pleasant little town.  The streets were
thronged with Turkish soldiers in ill-fitting uniforms.  The town was
the base of the army operating farther down the peninsula, and
accommodated the headquarters staff.  Among the numerous officers Frank
noticed several Germans.  From the heights he had a good view of the
bay, in which lay a dozen transports, while caiques, with cases of
ammunition bulging over their high sides, were passing to and fro
between the European and the Asiatic shores.

Kopri halted at a little house at almost the highest point of the town.
On being admitted, he was met by a patriarchal Armenian named Benidin, a
merchant of standing, to whom he introduced Frank under his own name.
The old man was greatly perturbed on learning that his visitor was an
Englishman.

"My friend," he said to Kopri, "it is not well, that which you have
done.  The town is not safe, even for me.  Already I have sent my family
away; at any moment I may have to flee for my life, and if it is
discovered that an Englishman lodges with me, my days are numbered.  The
town swarms with spies.  Every man is spying on his neighbour.  It will
be far better for your friend, and for me also, if he returns in your
vessel to Constantinople, and makes his way thence to the Bulgarian
frontier."

The old man’s distress was so patent that Frank at once assented to his
suggestion.

"It is not fair to involve you in my troubles," he said.  "I will leave
at once."

"It will be two or three days before I can take you back," said Kopri.
"I am ordered to go on to Chanak with ammunition for the forts.  Benidin
will perhaps give you shelter until I return."

"I will do so much for you, Kopri, in the name of our old friendship,"
said the merchant after some hesitation.  "If the English gentleman will
remain strictly within doors, he shall be my honoured guest.  That must
be the firm condition.  And I pray that your return be speedy, Kopri,
for I know not that I shall be safe even for two days. There came
yesterday from Stamboul a large reinforcement of Kurds, who being
hillmen will be useful to the army in the heights.  You know them, my
friend.  At any moment the blood passion may burst forth; they may begin
to hunt for men of our unhappy race.  Then I must flee, and I dare not
take the Englishman with me. He will be left to his own devices."

"I go to-night," said Kopri, "and in two days I will return.  It is but
a little while, and the Germans here will keep the Kurds in order."

"Alas!  I have no great confidence in them," said Benidin.  "Their
emperor has never stayed the massacres of our people, and though his
officers are stern with the Turks for their own ends, they will, I fear,
show no sympathy for us.  Then have I the Englishman’s promise?"

Much against the grain, yet unable to contest the wisdom of the old
man’s condition, Frank gave his word not to leave the house until Joseph
returned to take him on board.  Kopri and his son remained with Benidin
until the evening, then went down to the harbour.

Next day Frank mooned about, finding nothing to occupy him, restive
under this new confinement, and uncomfortable because of his host’s
nervousness.  The old man started at every sound, and twisted his hands
in panic fright if Frank approached the window.  There were sounds of
great activity in the bay--the snorting of tugs, the clang of donkey
engines, and the rattle of chains, reverberated in a hundred echoes from
the hills.  Frank longed to see what was going on; but there was nothing
for it but to be patient; after all, another day would see his release.

On the following morning, just after the weird notes of a Turkish
trumpet had announced the dawn, there came the rumble of distant guns,
which continued like a remote prolonged thunderstorm for some hours.  In
the afternoon, when Frank was sitting with Benidin in an upper room,
they were startled by a tremendous boom close at hand.

"A shell from a big gun," cried Frank, springing up.

"Keep away from the window," the Armenian pleaded.  "I do not fear your
English shells as much as I fear the Turks. I will go out and see what
is happening."

Frank was left to himself.  He wondered whether an aeroplane had dropped
another bomb on the harbour.  The fact was that the British fleet had
begun to bombard the town by indirect fire from the Gulf of Saros. When
Benidin descended into the town, he found the people fleeing in all
directions. Many were hurrying to the caves which cut into the cliffs.
The largest of these had already been appropriated by the headquarters
staff.

A few minutes after Benidin had left the house, a second bang shook the
place, shattering the glass.  Frank’s heart beat fast as he looked out
of the window: there was no danger at this moment that any one would
notice him.  Towards the harbour he saw a geyser of black smoke
spreading its top in the air.  Then he was conscious of a rushing
humming sound coming towards him.  He looked up with curiosity. Nothing
could be seen.  Suddenly there was a tremendous crash on the roof of the
house. The place collapsed like a house of cards, and Frank, in the
first conscious second of his fall, heard an ear-splitting explosion,
accompanied by a blinding flash, and felt sharp blows upon every part of
his body. Then he knew no more.



                               CHAPTER XI

                                 DANGER


The return to consciousness was a painful experience.  Frank’s head
ached violently; his nostrils stung with dust and smoke and foul gas;
his ears rang with strange noises; every part of him seemed bruised.
For some time he lay simply bewildered, trying to recall how he came to
be on the floor, half smothered with dust and fragments of wood and
stone.  Two splintered beams lay criss-cross just above him: if they had
not fallen one upon the other they must certainly have crushed the life
out of him.

A loud bang which set the place quivering and the dust dancing about him
recalled the explosion he had heard at the moment of falling.  He
stirred, shook off the litter half burying him, and stretched his limbs.
To his joy they were sound.  He took out his handkerchief and wiped the
dirt from his face.  It was streaked with blood.

He looked around him.  The house was a mere mass of wreckage.  Fragments
of furniture were embedded in extraordinary positions among heaps of
stone.  The roof was gone, the walls had fallen in and out, forming a
rampart in which here and there were chinks through which light came.
He was on the level of the street.

Shaken, bruised, half-deafened, he lay staring up at the open sky.  What
was to be done?  The bombardment had apparently ceased.  He looked at
his watch: it had stopped.  Where was Benidin?  Was the promise to stay
in the house any longer binding?  But he felt disinclined to move: the
shock had left him listless and devoid of energy.  It would be no good
adventuring until he had recovered something of his strength.

Presently he heard the hum of voices outside.  People were apparently
moving about now that the havoc-working shells had ceased to fall.  He
distinguished a question, evidently from a stranger to the town.

"Whose house is this?"

"Benidin’s."

"A dog of an Armenian?"

"Even so."

There was a laugh.

"Is he inside?"

"Who knows?  If he is buried in the ruins, so much the better."

"A rich man?  All these Armenian dogs are rich.  Let us see what we can
find."

Frank heard scuffling footsteps approaching, and was tempted to call for
help.  But the recollection that he was dressed as an Armenian checked
the impulse.  The men outside began to poke at the rubbish; they would
discover him; he must try to evade them.  At this moment there was
another roar and crash close by, and the group of would-be looters
scattered with shrill cries. Frank once more wiped from his face the
dust which the concussion had showered upon him.  A slight movement of
one of the cross-beams hinted that his position was still dangerous.
They protected him, indeed, from falling rubbish; but another shell,
even if it spared the house, might disturb them, and cause them to
settle down and crush him.

"I must get out of this," he thought. "It must be getting on towards
evening, and Kopri will be back."

Wriggling out of his narrow prison, he climbed up one of the slanting
beams, wrenched away some shattered woodwork, and scrambled over the
jagged heaps of masonry until he reached a gap in the ruins overlooking
the street.  Through this he clambered, and stood amid the wreckage
outside.  The neighbourhood was deserted.

The bombardment had now apparently ceased, though guns could still be
heard intermittently from the south.  The inhabitants were beginning to
reappear.  Dusk was falling.  Far down the hill Frank saw troops engaged
in extinguishing a fire.

He was at a loss what to do.  There was no sign of Benidin.  His
neighbours would soon be returning to their houses, and then Frank must
be discovered.  Yet discovery was equally certain if he made his way to
the harbour, and in spite of the rehearsal in Erzerum, he felt in no
condition to parry successfully the questions of some inquisitive
officer who would certainly intercept him before he reached the quay.
On the whole it seemed better to hang about the ruins until Benidin
returned.  If he did not return, Kopri would come as soon as his vessel
was moored.

Frank went round to the rear of the house, where he was least likely to
be seen and questioned by the returning owners of the adjacent
dwellings.  As he contemplated the ruins, he marvelled at his good
fortune in escaping so lightly.  No one who knew that a human being was
in the house at the time of the explosion would suppose that he had not
met his death or at least suffered hideous mutilation.

While he was standing thus, a figure came round the corner of the ruins.
Though it was growing dark, Frank recognised the uniform of a Kurdish
officer.  His first impulse was to slip away and avoid a meeting; but he
realised instantly that any sudden movement of departure might seem
suspicious.  Keeping his back to the newcomer, he continued to examine
the wreckage, at the same time edging slowly away.

The Kurd stopped, and appeared to be interested in the scene.  He came
up to Frank.

"Whose house was this?" he asked.

"The house of one Benidin, a merchant of the town," Frank replied,
humbly, in the reedy falsetto learnt from Joseph.

"Was he within when the shell fell?"

"No, effendim."

"You are his servant?"

"Not so, but a humble visitor."

"Then make haste and search that rubbish heap.  Before the merchant
returns, it may be that you will find for me some few precious things.
Make haste, I say, before it grows too dark."

Frank could not refuse compliance.  The Kurd was bristling with weapons,
which he would not hesitate for a moment to use on a supposed Armenian.
But Frank, while he stooped and made a show of turning over the rubbish,
was determined not to find anything of value.  His object must be to
waste time in the hope of darkness putting an end to the search.

The Kurd walked up and down, a few paces in each direction, watching
alternately Frank and the vicinity.  Every now and then he halted for a
few seconds within a few feet of Frank, who pretended to be diligently
sorting over the confused heaps in the light of the sunset glow.  The
prolongation of one of these pauses made Frank uncomfortable.  The Kurd,
to whom his back had been turned, had moved to a spot where he could see
his side face, and Frank was uneasily conscious of being watched with
peculiar intentness.  He was relieved when the officer moved away again,
but next moment was filled with anxiety when he noticed that the Kurd
was edging round so as to look at him from the front.

"Ahi!  You find nothing?  Try in this place," said the Kurd.

Frank went forward, stooping, and keeping his head downbent.  He was
pulling aside a broken piece of furniture when, with a suddenness that
startled him, the officer demanded:

"Who are you?"

"I am Reuben Donessa, son of Aaron Donessa of the Five Wells, effendim,"
he said.

The sentence came from his lips pat enough, but there was a strange
variation of tone between the first words and the last.  In the first
moment of surprise, Frank had spoken in his natural voice; but instantly
remembering Kopri’s instruction, he raised its pitch to a passable
imitation of Joseph’s voice, hoping that the Kurd had not perceived the
change.

"Ahi!  And what is your town?" the Kurd asked.

"Bashkala, effendim."

"Mashallah!  This is a marvel, surely. Are there Five Wells in Bashkala,
and does one Aaron Donessa dwell there?  Stand upright, dog, so that I
may behold you."

Frank realised that the game was up. For the first time he looked
straight at the Kurd’s face, and recognised with a shock that he was
Mirza Aga’s nephew, Abdi the Liar, whom he had met on that one occasion
in the journey over the hills.  It was clear that Abdi had penetrated
his disguise. There was a look of malicious glee on the man’s face.

"Mashallah!  I have found you, dog of an Englishman," cried the Kurd.

His hand was moving towards one of the pistols in his belt.  Frank had
only the fraction of a second in which to take action.  He shot out his
right fist, struck the Kurd on the point of the jaw, and hurled him
backward into the ruins.

When Abdi regained his senses it was dark, and the so-called Reuben
Donessa had disappeared.  And a revolver was missing from Abdi’s belt.



                              CHAPTER XII

                              IN THE HILLS


In the hills of Gallipoli, between Uzundere and Biyuk Anafarta near the
Salt Lake, a platoon of Kurdish troops had just joined a half-company of
Anatolians.  They were taking their midday meal on a level stretch of
turf some seven hundred feet above sea-level.  It was the only clear
space of considerable size in a wilderness of scrub.  Below them ran the
rough track from Biyuk Anafarta to Boghali.  The hill of Sari Bair,
nearly three hundred feet above them, blocked the direct view to the
nearest part of the sea; but north and south of that eminence the blue
waters were clearly visible.  The horizon was dotted with dark shapes,
no doubt warships and transports of the Allied fleet.  To the south,
over the lower hills between them and Boghali, they looked down upon the
Narrows, with Kilid Bahr on the European shore and Chanak on the
Asiatic.  To the north-east stretched the Dardanelles above the Narrows,
and here too vessels, but Turkish, were passing up and down.

It would have been apparent to the most casual observer that the arrival
of the Kurds was not welcome to their Anatolian brethren-in-arms.  The
Kurd has a habit of assuming a swaggering air of superiority.  The
Anatolians were in charge of a captain and a lieutenant, the Kurds of a
lieutenant only; but this latter officer, seated with the others a
little apart from the men, was treating the captain as though he were a
subaltern. Ignoring his inferiority in rank, he had questioned and
cross-questioned in a bumptious way that raised the captain’s gall.  As
the captain remarked in an undertone to his lieutenant, this barbarous
Kurd could not have been more insolent if he had been a German.  And as
it was with the officers, so with the men.  They ate their simple food
together, but the Anatolians maintained a sullen silence amid the loud
talking of the Kurds.  When it was a question of fetching water from the
stream that flowed through the rocky bottom below, it was two of the
Anatolians who were told off to the job by the Kurdish sergeant, and
went sulkily to obey.

The Kurdish lieutenant was holding forth to the other officers.

"Wallahy!" he said.  "Here I am, but it is not where I would wish to be.
The fight against odds is the breath of his nostrils to a Kurd.  If
there had been a few squadrons of Kurds in Egypt the other day we should
have been in Cairo by now."

"But there were Kurds--many Kurds," the captain ventured to remark.  "It
was told me by my cousin in a letter."

"Ahi!  Are we in Cairo?  In truth we are not.  I repeat, if there had
been Kurds we should have been in Cairo.  Therefore there were no Kurds.
Mashallah!  Did not Liman Pasha whisper in my ear, the day after we set
foot in Gallipoli, ’With ten thousand Kurds, noble Abdi, we could
conquer the world.  Therefore take me now twenty of your excellent men
and catch this Englishman.  Have we not had for ten days half a company
of Anatolian asses on the trail?’"

This was more than even an Anatolian captain could stand.

"You wish to insult me?" he cried.

"Wallahy!  What is this?  Insult you? I do but repeat the Alman Pasha’s
words. Mayhap I understood him wrongly; but it seemed to me that he
spoke of Anatolian asses.  Who am I to correct him?  But come now, tell
me what you have done and where you have been; what caves you have
searched, what woods you have beaten."

Unwillingly, sulkily, the captain gave particulars of his doings during
the past few days.  He felt that though nominally in command as senior
officer, the Kurd was in reality superseding him.  And he resented the
implication that he had failed in what was at best a thankless task.

Some ten days before, his information had been, an Englishman disguised
as an Armenian had been recognised in Gallipoli as a fugitive from
Erzerum.  How he had contrived to reach Gallipoli was a mystery. Before
he could be arrested by the person who had discovered him, he had made a
violent attack on that person, and escaped to the hills.  When the alarm
was given, the Anatolian captain had been sent in pursuit.  About sunset
a peasant had seen an Armenian who answered to the description of the
fugitive crossing the Karaman river near the Bergas road.  Darkness
prevented his being followed up, but the hunt was resumed at dawn next
morning.  It had proved fruitless hitherto.  The captain complained that
not a hundred, but ten thousand men would be required to beat thoroughly
those rugged brush-covered hills.

"Think of it!" he said.  "Climbing up and down these almost
perpendicular hill-faces; through dense scrub; down one side of a
valley, across a stream or a swamp and up the other side; beating
bushes; exploring hill caves; searching secluded farms--and all the time
without proper food.  We were sent away in a hurry.  ’Hunt till you find
him,’ was the order.  We had two days’ rations, and since then have had
to depend on what we could pick up at the farms, and they, as you know,
are in lonely places far apart.  And we have not so much as caught sight
of this elusive Englishman, though we have heard of him often enough.
Wallahy! a farmer at Taifur Keui told me that a young Armenian had
walked uninvited into his house and demanded food, holding a revolver to
his head.  Stricken with amazement and terror at this boldness on the
part of an Armenian dog--but in truth a famished dog is bold as a
lion--the farmer gave him bread and honey, and having satisfied himself,
he paid for his entertainment and went away composedly and without
haste, threatening to shoot any man that followed him. This being told
me, I hunted diligently for two days through the Taifur district, and
behold, it was then related that the fugitive had appeared at Kum Keui,
ten miles away on the high-road, and there he had waylaid a supply
wagon, and taken for himself a great quantity of the good things it
contained, and forced the driver to unyoke the mules, and when this was
done in fear and trembling because of the revolver, this bold brigand
caused the wagon to run down a sloping place and over a precipice into
the Ak Bashi river."

"Mashallah!  These are marvels indeed," said the Kurd, "and there is no
truth in them.  But say on, captain; let my ears feast on these fairy
tales."

"I speak what I have heard; as for the truth, Allah knows.  It was told
me also that the dog was seen at Kachili and Kuchuk Anafarta, but when I
came to those places and was searching every nook and cranny, behold,
one brought me word that he had been seen elsewhere.  Yesterday, as I
live, a major of artillery came wearily into Maidos, sick with shame at
the garments he wore, which in very truth were the rags of an Armenian.
And he told me that when he was riding without escort on the Gallipoli
road near Boghali yonder, a young giant that was Armenian in dress but a
very devil in mien and bearing leapt forth suddenly from the bushes of
the wayside, and laying a mighty hand upon him, dragged him from his
horse, and compelled him there and then to exchange his uniform for
those filthy tatters the Armenian wore.  Yet did the major confess that
his ravisher was not without courtesy, for even as he put on the major’s
heavy coat he prayed his pardon for the robbery, saying that he would
fain have left him the coat, but that he could not, because the nights
in these hills are bitter cold.  And that this is truth I tell is sure,
for that same day--yesterday in the afternoon--an officer of artillery
was seen, alone, above Baghche Keui, the hamlet you see below us yonder.
And I came last night in haste to Biyuk Anafarta, and rose with the
dawn, and for six hours I have been scouring these hills, and not a
glimpse of that bold Englishman have I seen."

"Wallahy!  Truly it was time I came," said the Kurd.  "Know you that it
was I, Abdi, that found the Englishman searching for treasure in the
ruins of a house in Gallipoli which an English shell had smitten. It was
I, Abdi, whom the dog, taking me unawares--who can contend against
deceitfulness?--hurled fainting to the ground. To me should have been
given the task of hunting the dog; now to me it is given; and by the
beard of the Prophet I will catch him and flay him; I, Abdi, say it."

While the others were thus conversing, some of the men, having finished
their meal, had got up and begun to stroll about the hillside.  Others
had gone down to fill their water-bottles at a spring that bubbled out
of the rock some two hundred yards from the spot where the officers were
sitting. Abdi, lighting a cigarette, watched them with a speculative
eye.

"Your Anatolians may stray too far," he said.  "That will not my Kurds
do. Come now, let us make our plans.  We must beat these hills as we
beat for bear in Kurdistan.  See, here and there below us are clear
spaces in the scrub.  Into the scrub between them I will send my own
men; them I can trust to let nothing pass, not a rabbit nor a stoat nor
any small creeping thing; they are not plainsmen, blind and deaf.  Your
Anatolians shall move six paces apart towards the spot where my
mountaineers are posted: even they, surely, cannot let anything through
so small a mesh.  You will form them up in a crescent line, the horns
pointing to where my men lurk in the scrub.  So shall we beat a large
circle, and if our quarry is not started there, we will go on and do
likewise farther afield."

They flung away the ends of their cigarettes, rose to their feet, and
blew their whistles.  From various directions the men hurried back, the
Anatolians lining up on one side of the open space, the Kurds on the
other.  When the ranks were formed and numbered off, a Kurdish sergeant
called out:

"There is a man short.  Where is Yusuf?"

The men looked up and down the line, as if seeking their missing
comrade; then one of them said:

"I saw him go down to fill his bottle."

The sergeant blew his whistle, and took a few paces in the direction of
the stream.  A few minutes passed.  The absentee did not appear.  The
sergeant reported his absence to Abdi.

"Take a couple of men and look for him," said the Kurd, twirling his
moustache.

The three men went off and disappeared over the brow of the hill.
Presently there were shouts from below, and one of the men came back at
a run, saluted his officer, and cried excitedly:

"We have found Yusuf, effendim, lying on his back, with his hands and
feet tied with his own straps, and his cap thrust between his teeth."

Abdi scowled, and would not meet the Anatolian captain’s eye.  In
another moment the missing man appeared over the crest, led between the
sergeant and his comrade.

"What is this, Yusuf?" demanded Abdi roughly, going to meet the man,
whose bare head was streaming with water.

"Wallahy!  I have been most grievously entreated.  I was filling my
bottle at the stream there below when there came a step behind me, which
I heeded not, thinking one of my comrades had come to fill his bottle
likewise.  And then, behold, a strong hand seized me, and thrust my head
under the water, and held it there until I well-nigh burst for want of
breath; and when all the strength was gone out of me I was cast upon the
ground, and my wet cap was thrust between my teeth, and my hands and
feet were tied, and I was left half dead."

"Who was it did this thing?" asked Abdi.

"Truly I know not, but he had the form of a major of our army, if in the
confusion of my senses I could see aright."

"Where is your rifle?"

"It was taken from me, together with my pouch and the hundred cartridges
therein."

Abdi spat and cursed, twirling his moustache more fiercely than ever.
His fury was increased by a look of amusement on the faces of the
Anatolian officers.  Aggrieved that a Kurd should have been sent to make
good their deficiencies, and enraged by his insolent and overbearing
manner, they took no pains to conceal their delight in the discomfiture
of the boaster at the hands of the man whose rumoured exploits he had
derided and whom he had declared his intention of flaying.  His chagrin
almost reconciled them to the escape of the fugitive whom they had been
vainly hunting for a week.

But the incident spurred them to activity. The fugitive could not be far
away.  Here was an opportunity of proving whether Kurd or Anatolian was
the better man. Abdi’s deliberate dispositions were forgotten or
ignored.  While Abdi led his men at a furious pace in the direction of
the stream, the Anatolian captain ordered his party to extend and
advance methodically through the scrub.  The hunt was up.


Some two hours later a young man in the uniform of a major of Turkish
artillery, but carrying a rifle, might have been seen threading his way
through the dense scrub on the northern slopes of Sari Bair. Reaching a
point where it was possible to obtain a good view to the north-east, he
looked cautiously around, halted and listened. There was no sound but
the whistling of the wind through the bushes.  After a moment’s hurried
survey of his surroundings, he discovered a spot where he could see
without being seen, unslung his field-glasses, and swept the opposite
slope of Karsilar.  For some little time the glasses moved slowly from
left to right, then the watcher held them stationary and took a long and
steady gaze.  A line of figures was moving like ants across a clear
space and disappearing into the scrub beyond.  A little later they
reappeared in another break in the vegetation, working towards Baghche
Keui.

Apparently satisfied, he shut up the glasses, and returned them to their
case. The name of the maker caught his eye.

"Good English glasses!" he murmured, as men do who have lived for some
time alone.  "I am uncommonly obliged to you, my dear major.  I needed
something to equalise the odds."



                              CHAPTER XIII

                          SHARING A SEPULCHRE


Keeping well under cover, Frank worked his way upwards through the scrub
round the north-east shoulder of Sari Bair.  Every now and then he
stopped, as it were to "sniff the air."  He smiled to himself, thinking
how like his movements must be to those of a fox that knows that the
hounds are out.  "I can believe now," he thought, "the huntsman’s theory
that the enjoyment is not all on one side."

From the height to which he had now ascended he had a bird’s-eye view of
the pretty little village of Biyuk Anafarta, surrounded by tall and
stately cypresses, lying below him in a gap in the hills to the north.
He paused for a moment to admire the scene.  Just above him was the head
of a nullah forming a ravine on the northern face of Sari Bair, and
joining as a tributary a larger nullah running westward past the village
to the sea.  A hundred yards up the hill a large cedar jutted out from
the side of the nullah, here only a few feet deep, and towered above the
prevailing scrub.  Six or eight paces from the tree, near the bank of
the nullah, there appeared the stone door of an ancient sepulchre,
probably dating back before the Christian era.  The stones were
perfectly cut and squared, and solidly cemented together.  The weather
of twenty centuries had but lightly touched them.

At this point Frank redoubled his precautions. The vegetation grew
closely about the sepulchre; this solitude was apparently never visited
by men; but he could not afford to leave anything to chance.  He dropped
into the nullah some eighty yards below the tree, and carefully worked
his way up the bed of the ravine.  Arriving at the tree, he took a final
look round, pulled himself up by the roots, and climbed up on the
western side, having the massive trunk between him and the men who were
hunting for him far away to the east.

At the first big fork the tree was hollow. Letting himself down within
the hollowed trunk, he stood upon a litter of leaves, brushwood, and
soft detritus, which he stooped in the semi-darkness to stir over. After
a while he uncovered a hole about two feet across.  Through this he
wriggled, into a narrow passage not high enough to walk erect in, ending
in a small square room a little higher than the passage, but still too
low for the upright posture.

The air was full of the sickly odour of decay.  A feeble light filtered
through a number of tube-like orifices bored in the stone on one wall of
the room.  At the further end, reaching almost from the floor to the
roof, stood two enormous earthen jars.  They were filled with human
bones. This little room was the interior of the sepulchre.

Frank had discovered the place by accident a day or two before.  He had
climbed the tree to learn, if he could, the whereabouts of his pursuers,
and discovered the hollow trunk.  Thinking that this would afford a
secure hiding-place in case of need, though the quarters would in truth
be rather cramped, he had dropped down and started to clear a space for
sleeping.  It was then that, in lifting a mass of brushwood, he had
discovered the passage and the chamber beyond.

The discovery set his imagination at work.  The building was obviously
so much older than the tree that this strange connection between them
must be an afterthought.  Within the sepulchre he found some articles of
Greek pottery which suggested an explanation.  Back in the middle ages
the peninsula of Gallipoli, then a Greek possession, was overrun by the
conquering Ottoman Turks.  Was it not possible that some Greek fugitive,
fleeing before the barbarians, had lighted upon this hollow tree just as
he himself had done, and cut a passage through it into the ancient and
forgotten tomb?  How many centuries had passed before the Byzantine
fugitive, if such he was, had intruded upon the solitude of its
fleshless inhabitants?

The stories which the Anatolian captain had related to Abdi did not
exaggerate the truth.  Frank had acted on the impulse of the moment in
hurling Abdi into the ruins of Benidin’s bomb-shelled house.  He had not
taken a moment’s thought for the future, nor indeed, after his
shattering experiences, was he in a condition to think collectedly.  All
that he was conscious of was a desperate anxiety to get as far from the
Kurd as possible.  He ran into the gathering dusk, retaining just enough
presence of mind to direct his course away from the lower town.
Benidin’s house was on the outskirts, and in a few minutes he came into
open country.  He had met no one, but hearing the rumble of an
approaching wagon ahead, he left the road and struck off into the rough
ground at the side.

It was now dark.  He checked his pace, to recover breath and
self-possession.  What was he to do?  Kopri had perhaps returned by this
time in the vessel which was to convey him back to Constantinople, but
to retrace his steps and seek the harbour was more than he dared.  On
regaining his senses the Kurd would certainly raise the hue and cry
through the town: Gallipoli would be too hot for the fugitive.  What
then was left?  It had been suggested that he should seek safety in
Bulgaria, but the frontier was far away, he had no guide, and he had
been so shaken by the recent explosion that he felt a nervous dread of
the encounters that were inevitable if he attempted to find his way
through strange country.  A better course, he thought, was to hide among
the hills for a few days, until he had recovered his nerve and
will-power. With money in his pocket and a command of the Turkish tongue
he might purchase food in some hill village or at some outlying farm.

Guiding himself, therefore, by the stars, he struggled on for a while
towards the hilly district south-westwards, intending presently to take
refuge in some sheltered spot where he might pass the night.  As he went
he remembered that off the south-west extremity of the peninsula lay the
British fleet; but at this moment the fleet seemed as remote from him as
the stars themselves. After a time he heard noises below him--the
creaking of carts, the voices of men; at short intervals he saw faint
lights.  Clearly there was a road beneath, and a convoy was on the road.
He stood still; listened; watched.  The convoy was moving in the
opposite direction to his own course, and from the sound of the wagons
he inferred that they were empty.  Then they must be returning from the
forts at the further end of the peninsula.  He knew nothing about the
geography of the interior of this tongue of land; but he was aware that
a road ran close to the shore of the Dardanelles.  That must be a
shorter route to the forts than this second road, which apparently
traversed the centre of the peninsula; and in a moment or two it
occurred to him that the Turko-Germans employed the longer road in
returning their "empties" in order to avoid congestion on the more
direct route.

Frank waited until the convoy had passed, then groped his way down to
the road.  It was so dark now that he might trudge the highway with
little risk of discovery, and with a greater chance of finding a hovel
where with good luck he might take shelter. But fatigue overcame him
before he had gone more than a few miles, and he climbed up the hillside
again, threw himself down under the lee of a rock upon a stretch of
moss, and wrapping his sheepskin garment around him, slept until the
verge of dawn.

Resuming his way over the hills, within sight of the road, he saw by and
by in the distance a village of considerable size.  He was hungry, but
his heart failed him; he felt that he could not face inquisitive
villagers, and endure their cross-questioning. He passed above the
village and went on. From the distance came the rumble of guns.
Presently he caught sight of a farm in a hollow of the hills, and turned
his steps towards it.  As he drew nearer to it he became more and more
nervous.  How was he to account for himself?  What story could he invent
that would pass muster with people who probably seldom saw a stranger,
and would certainly be suspicious? He could not think of anything that
seemed plausible; yet he must have food, and at length, with the courage
of desperation, he resolved to throw off the mask.  He obtained food
there at the point of his revolver, and betook himself with it to a
thicket on the hill-top beyond, where having assuaged his hunger he
slept through the rest of the day and the night.

Next morning he finished his provisions and set off again on his
journey--no longer aimless, for during the night the idea had come to
him of making his way to the coast and swimming out to one of the
British vessels whose guns he had heard.  The project had seemed to him,
in the hours of darkness, wonderfully easy; but in the cold light of
morning it assumed, as such night thoughts often do, a very different
complexion.  "Silly ass!" he thought.  "The ships will be miles out.
I’d never get to them."  And his mind was soon occupied with more
immediate concerns.

Looking back from his elevated position along the road, he perceived a
number of soldiers, not marching in orderly ranks on the highway, but
dotted here and there on the heights on either side.  In a moment it
flashed upon him that the troops were on his trail.  This conviction
acted as a tonic. There was a definite danger to contend with, a problem
on which to exercise his wits. To proceed directly on his former course
would be fatal.  His best chance of ultimate escape was to worry the
pursuers in the difficult hill country and tire them out. And so he had
commenced that brief career of semi-brigandage which had up to the
present supplied his needs and stimulated his mental activity.  Now and
then, of course, he was sunk deep in depression.  He was very much
alone, surrounded by enemies, often hungry, still more often very cold;
but the necessity for constant exertion helped him to conquer
despondency, and prevented him from dwelling over long on the darker
side of things.

Now, as he squatted on the couch of leaves which he had made for himself
on the floor of the sepulchre, he pondered his situation seriously and
with anxiety.  It was clear that a determined effort was being made to
capture him, and he ruefully acknowledged to himself that the very
successes he had had in obtaining food, clothes, and arms would tell
against him: they furnished his pursuers with an additional motive.  The
troops would certainly begin a methodical search of Sari Bair.  They
could not fail to discover the door of the sepulchre, and though this
was sealed, and there was no entrance to the place from the ground, the
entrance through the tree might be discovered by one of them in the same
accidental way as in his own case. Fortunately, the surrounding rocks
were too hard to show tell-tale traces of his footsteps, but if the
pursuers should continue to haunt the neighbourhood, he might find
himself compelled to remain in hiding, and the idea of being cooped up
in these narrow gloomy quarters was far from inspiriting.  The tomb was
in truth a dismal abode.  The sepulchral vases were not cheerful pieces
of furniture.  On the previous night he had had an attack of nerves, and
climbed into the fork of the tree to sleep.  But the physical discomfort
due to the attentions of innumerable insects was less endurable than the
intangible companionship of ghosts, and ashamed of his weakness he had
clambered down again, and fallen asleep to the dull boom of British guns
bombarding the forts.

"Well, I’ve got a rifle and ammunition now," he thought, as he settled
himself for his second night’s sleep in the tomb.  "But I dare not go
game-shooting with them. To-morrow I shall have to go foraging again.
I’m getting tired of this."



                              CHAPTER XIV

                          ’A CHIEL AMANG THEM’


Next morning he woke late.  Climbing into the tree, he saw that the sun
was already many degrees up the sky.  He looked around, up and down the
nullah.  No one was in sight.  He clambered to the ground and made his
way carefully to the hill-top, taking cover of the scrub.  From this
post he had a view, on the one side, of the upper channel of the
Dardanelles, above the Narrows; on the other, of the waters of the
Ægean.  Vessels were to-day, as on previous days, moving up and down the
former.  One small craft, apparently a motor launch, which he had
noticed before, was again slipping across the channel towards Chanak,
the township which he could clearly see on the opposite shore.  No doubt
it had started from Maidos, which was tucked away under the hills
beneath him: he had seen it many times from the deck of a steamer.

"Lucky beggars!" he thought, envying the occupants of the launch as he
watched it through his borrowed field-glasses, and recalling trips,
among the most enjoyable of his experiences, at home and in the Sea of
Marmora.

"Now to forage," he said to himself.

It was unlikely that the pursuers, after the excitement of yesterday,
had abandoned the hunt, and in descending the hill he used as much
caution as though they were still in sight.  His destination was a small
farm which he had noticed standing by itself some little distance
westward of the village of Biyuk Anafarta: the village itself, of
course, he durst not venture into.  His progress was slow, for in
flitting prudently from one patch of scrub to another, he had to make
considerable detours to avoid more or less open spaces.  Every now and
again, too, he stopped to listen, placing his ear to the ground.

Coming after some hours’ difficult wandering to the outskirts of the
plantations about the village, he was alarmed to see a herd of cattle in
the charge of several herdsmen moving along the rough track that led
past the farm, the direction in which he had himself intended to go.  It
was unsafe to continue his journey at present.  He took a drink from a
hill stream, and plunged into a thicket, resolving, in spite of his
hunger, to wait there until late in the afternoon, when movements along
the road were likely to have ceased.

It was about four o’clock when he ventured to leave his hiding-place.
There was no sign of movement in the hills.  In the distance smoke was
rising from the village chimneys.  Stealing his way as carefully as
before, he struck off in the direction of the farm.  The husbandmen, as
he had hoped, were still at work in the fields.  There would not be many
persons at the farm.

Taking advantage of every inequality of the ground he crept to the back
of the homestead--a small stone-built place with wooden byres and barns
attached.  He was well aware that the methods which had formerly served
him could not be employed now. Without doubt his description had been
circulated throughout Gallipoli.  Whether he offered to buy food, or
sought to extort it, he would run equal risk.  Even if he escaped the
hands of the country people, eager to obtain the reward which had
probably been offered for his capture, he could not show himself without
their putting the troops on his track.  With every man’s hand against
him he could not afford to indulge the scruples that would be natural to
him in normal circumstances.  He meant to obtain food as quickly and as
secretly as possible.  But he was not going to steal. He would take what
he could find, but leave a fair price.

All was quiet around the farm.  Gaining the outbuildings undetected, he
slipped along under cover of them until he had nearly reached what was
apparently the kitchen: a light smoke rose from the chimney above. More
than once during his excursions he had realised how greatly his
difficulties would have been increased if the dog were as popular in
Turkey as in England.  He had not the watchful farmyard dog to fear. The
action which had cleared Constantinople of the curs that used to infest
its streets seemed to have its counterpart in other parts of the
country: at any rate, he had not hitherto been worried by dogs.

But he found now, with as much surprise as consternation, that he had
another kind of guardian to reckon with.  He had almost reached what he
supposed to be the kitchen when a small flock of geese advanced towards
him in a mass with much hissing and cackling. There was no alternative
but to beat a prompt retreat.  He slipped through the open doorway of
one of the outbuildings, closed the door behind him, and seeing another
door ajar at the further end he hastened towards it, took a cautious
peep outside and passed into the open.  A glance round the corner of the
wall showed him a middle-aged woman--dressed in the rusty black which
the male Turk, himself inclined to bright colours, thinks appropriate to
his women folk--hurrying from the kitchen to ascertain why the watchful
geese were protesting so noisily.

Here was his chance.  He darted across the open space between himself
and the kitchen, peeped in at the open door, and seeing that the room
was empty slipped inside.  From the upper floor came the voices of
children.  There was no time to waste.  Frank knew nothing about the
room except that it was large, that a pot was on the fire, and that some
flat loaves of bread, recently baked, stood in a row upon a slab of
stone beside the oven.  Without a moment’s hesitation he began to cram
these into the capacious pockets of his military great-coat, and was on
the point of taking out some money to replace them on the slab when he
heard the woman returning, grumbling audibly at the geese for the
needless interruption of her cooking.

To escape by the door was impossible without being seen.  The wooden
steps in the corner invited him to the upper floor, but the children’s
voices repelled.  There was no other door.  He was caged.  He was just
making up his mind to brazen it out and trust to his ready wit in
explaining his intrusion to the housewife when his eye fell on the long
wide board, set against one wall and raised a few inches from the floor,
which serves the humble Turk as a sleeping-place.  On the impulse of the
moment he tiptoed across the room, dropped to the floor, and was just
able to wriggle under the board before the woman entered.  For a moment
he was doubtful whether, quick as he had been, the woman had not caught
sight of the skirts of his coat, and he pressed himself against the wall
in a fever of anxiety.  But she clumped across the floor straight to her
cooking pot, the sizzling of which mingled with her exclamations of
annoyance.  She stirred the pot, made up the fire, called to the
children to go to sleep--and noticed that some of the loaves were gone.

"You limbs of Shaitan!" she called up the stairs.  "Bring down those
loaves. Gluttons you are.  Did I not give you a supper fit for princes?
Bring down the loaves, I say."

Shrill voices answered her.  A boy came half-way down the steps and
protested that neither he nor his brothers or sisters had left their
room above.

"Wallahy! are there evil djinni abroad?" exclaimed the woman.  "Get you
to bed.  Allah preserve us!  What will the man say when he returns?"

She went to the door and looked out for her husband; it was time for him
to come for his evening meal.  Frank already regretted his hasty action.
If only the woman would go out!  If only she had not believed her small
son, but had gone upstairs to prove him!  Apparently he was a
truth-teller. Frank felt himself condemned to a long and wearisome
detention.  The farmer would return; he would eat his supper; then rugs
would be spread on the board, and the good people would sleep there.
How in the world was he to get away without disturbing them?  Meanwhile
he could at least eat some of the bread which the woman supposed had
been spirited away.

The woman came back to her cooking. Frank’s nose was tantalised by the
savoury smell of the ragout simmering in the pot. It was growing dusk,
and the woman lighted a small oil-lamp, then sat down on the board,
muttering incantations against evil spirits.  Presently footsteps and
voices were heard from outside.  The woman rose hastily to her feet and
went to the door.  A man’s voice said a few words, which Frank could not
catch.  The woman responded with exclamations of surprise and annoyance.
Then they came into the room, followed by several pairs of legs.  Frank
started and shrank more closely against the wall.  In the dim light on
the floor beyond his hiding-place he saw military boots.  There were
still loud voices outside.  He heard the farmer speaking.

"It is a humble place, effendim, but you are welcome."

"Ahi!  That stew has a savoury smell. I have an appetite.  Haste you,
woman, and set before us what you have in the pot."

Three pairs of legs moved towards the board.  Three heavy forms dropped
upon it, with clanking of accoutrements.  The wood groaned above Frank’s
head.  A chill perspiration broke out upon his skin.  He was in the
midst of his pursuers.

So narrow was the space between the board and the floor that, lying
flat, he could not lift his head more than two or three inches without
striking it.  To this grovelling posture he saw himself condemned for an
indefinite period.  He groaned in spirit. What an ass he had been!  He
breathed dust and smells; the air was stifling; how long could he endure
it?  Suppose he sneezed!--the very thought made his blood run cold, and
he pinched his nose in anticipation.

Meanwhile the three officers above him were conversing until their meal
should be ready.  Frank’s attention was distracted from his woes to the
conversation rumbling on above his head.

"Mashallah!  It is useless," he heard one say: he thought it was Abdi.

"But the shells do enormous damage when they hit," said the Anatolian
captain.

"True, but what do they hit?  It is marvellous, I grant you, that they
hit anything at all--anything of value--when the guns are miles away and
the gunners can see no mark, and without their aeroplanes they would
have wrought less havoc even than they have done.  But what then? They
cease bombarding, and our engineers repair the damage with exceeding
swiftness."

"Taught by the Germans," remarked the lieutenant.

"Ahi, the Germans!  Your masters!"

"And yours."

"Not so, by the Beard!  We Kurds will never own them as masters.  They
are great men of war, truly, great devisers of machines; no soulless
man, such as you Anatolians and the English, can stand against them.
But if they think to crush the free spirits of us Kurds in their
machinery--wallahy!  I hate them."

"Think you the English have no souls?" asked the captain.  "That wily
fellow we are hunting has, methinks, a spirit free as yours."

"Allah choke him!" growled the Kurd. "It is a knife in my heart that I
may not stay to catch him.  Yet to spit Armenians is fitter work for a
Kurd than to hunt an Englishman, and be sure that few of those dogs who
are fleeing to the mountains near Antioch will escape us."

"Did I dream, or did my ears hear from your lips the boast that you
yourself would flay this very Englishman?" asked the captain gently:
perhaps he could afford to be ironical now that Abdi was recalled for a
more congenial task.

"Mashallah! would you taunt me, you pale knock-kneed son of an Anatolian
cabbage?" shouted Abdi.  "By the Beard, I will carve your carcase into
gobbets before----"

"Peace!" said the lieutenant soothingly. "Here is supper.  Let us
comfort our souls in all peaceableness."

The storm blew over, and for a brief space Frank heard nothing but
gobbling above him.  Then the Kurd shouted for more bread.

"Peace be with you, effendim," said the woman, "but there is no more."

"No more!" roared the truculent Kurd. "What are these few crumbs that
you have set before three illustrious officers, and me the most
illustrious, even me, Abdi the Kurd?"

[Illustration: MAP OF THE SOUTHERN PART OF THE GALLIPOLI PENINSULA.]

"Wallahy! noble effendim," the woman faltered, "I was but even now
telling my man of the ill that befell this pious house this very night.
Behold, there was a fair array of loaves fresh from the oven upon yonder
stone, and I went from the house but for one moment to learn the meaning
of a great outcry among my geese, and when I came in, lo! of all those
fair loaves only two were left, and those two you have even now
consumed, effendim.  Surely an evil spirit has flown in, and stolen the
loaves, and departed again secretly."

"What is this tale, woman?  You were absent but for a moment?"

"Even so, effendim; and we know the spirits move swifter than the wind."

"By the Beard, it is that Englishman again," cried the Kurd, thumping
the board. "Is it not his doing, like those other deeds that we have
heard of him?  Of a truth when the woman’s back was turned he crept into
the house like a dog and departed with our supper.  Mashallah! to-morrow
I must go to Chanak, or I would surely catch him and flay him alive."

"We cannot seek him to-night in the darkness," said the captain.  "Truly
he has more than a dog’s cunning."

"Let us eat and drink," said the lieutenant.  "The stew is good, even
without bread.  To-morrow we will run the fox to earth."

They finished the meal, and lit cigarettes. The lieutenant went to the
barn where the men were quartered, and posted a guard. He remarked on
his return that it was a useless precaution, since there were no enemies
on land.

"Except one--the Englishman," remarked his captain with a rueful laugh.

"He will not return here unless we ourselves bring him in bonds,"
returned the other.

Piecing together the scraps of conversation he had already heard with
those he heard subsequently, Frank came to the conclusion that Abdi had
been recalled to take part in a battue of Armenians in Asia Minor, and
was to leave next morning by motor launch for Chanak in advance of his
men.

By and by the officers stamped about the room while the housewife
arranged rugs and cushions on the board for their night’s repose.  She
then followed her husband upstairs to the higher floor, and the
officers, after removing their boots and accoutrements, arranged
themselves on the simple bed.  The lamp was left alight, and, door and
window being closed, the room was filled with a heavy, smoky air which
soon lulled the three men to sleep.

Frank was by this time suffering painfully from his cramped position and
the foul air. At first he had intended to remain in his hiding-place
until the officers departed in the morning, and then to seize the first
opportunity of slipping away.  But as time went on he became convinced
that he could not endure his situation through the long night.  Before
morning he would be asphyxiated, or so racked with pain as to have lost
the use of his limbs.  If he did not escape during the hours of darkness
he would be unable to escape at all.  And when the heavy breathing and
snores above him showed that slumber had sealed the senses of his
enemies, he determined to make an attempt to get away.  To be caught
gamely at night was better than to be taken helpless in the morning.

It was fortunate that the farmer’s primitive bed was a flat board, and
not a divan with mattresses bulging below.  Otherwise he could hardly
have moved without causing some pressure beneath the sleepers that would
certainly have disturbed them.  He lay for a time trying to visualise
the room. The board ran along the whole length of the wall opposite the
door.  There was not space enough for him to creep out at either the
head or the foot: to reach the door he must cross the whole width of the
room. Dim though the light was, it was sufficient to reveal his form.
But there was no other way.

With infinite precaution he sidled his way from beneath the board, then
lay still to listen.  The three men were snoring in three different
tones.  He inferred from the sounds that two of the three had their
faces towards the door.  To rise at once might cause them to open their
eyes; his best chance lay in crawling a little way over the floor.
Raising himself on hands and knees, he drew himself along inch by inch;
then, gaining courage from the uninterrupted regularity of the snores,
he rose to his feet and ventured to glance round.  The three men were
curled up under their rugs; only the tops of their heads showed.

At the same glance he noticed their accoutrements lying on the stone
slab from which he had taken the loaves.  Prompted by a dare-devil
impulse that had also an element of precaution, he stole on tiptoe to
the slab, and with slow careful movements, though his hands were
trembling a little, he lifted the flaps of the revolver cases over their
buttons and abstracted the revolvers one by one.  If the men chanced to
wake before he was clear of the door, they should at least have no
weapons to fire at him.  A slight click as he slipped the last revolver
into his pocket caused a momentary pause in the _moto continuo_ of one
of the men’s recitative, and Frank clutched his own revolver, ready for
emergency; but the officer did not stir, and Frank, facing them, crept
backward towards the door.

He could not remember whether the door had been locked or bolted, and
felt an inward quaking at the thought of having to turn a possibly rusty
key or draw a creaking bolt. It was with immense relief that he
perceived that the door was fastened only by a wooden catch.  Just,
however, as he was raising his hand to release it he heard a step
outside, approaching the door.  With instant presence of mind he took
two quick silent paces to the shelf on which the lamp stood and pinched
out the flame.

There was a knock on the door.  The snoring abruptly ceased, but no
answer was given; the sleepers had not been fully awakened.  The knock
was repeated.  A sleepy voice from the bed said "Enter."  The door
opened, and Frank, being unluckily almost behind it, could not slip out.
There was a little diffused light from the moon below the horizon, just
sufficient to reveal Frank’s form, in its long military great-coat, to
the newcomer.

"A runner with a despatch from headquarters, effendim," said the man,
taking Frank for one of his own officers.

At one and the same moment Frank silently held out his hand for the
despatch and a voice from the other side of the room murmured, "Bring it
here.  Light the lamp first."  Frank was conscious of surprise and
hesitancy in the attitude of the visitor. The critical moment had come.
Taking the despatch and thrusting it into his pocket, he bent suddenly,
sprang at the man’s knees, lifted him from his feet and hurled him
across the room.  A threefold shout followed him as he dashed into the
open.  The sentry hurried towards him.

"Fire!" cried Frank.  "Fetch water!"

"Fire!  Fire!" repeated the man, turning about and running towards the
well in the yard.

Frank had already rushed in the opposite direction to the dark side of
the house. The clamour grew in volume; men were rushing hither and
thither with the panic of disturbed sleepers; shrill screams from the
startled housewife and her children mingled with the deeper shouts of
the soldiers.  And Frank dashed away into the darkness.  At first
heedless of his direction, he stopped when the sounds were faint in the
distance, and, panting, tried to take his bearings.  Somewhat more than
an hour later he clambered down the hollow trunk to his sepulchral
refuge, and threw himself exhausted on its earthy floor.



                               CHAPTER XV

                             OUT OF ACTION


Frank’s first proceeding when he awoke next morning was to start
munching one of his loaves; his next, to read the despatch which chance
had thrust upon him.  It was addressed to the Anatolian captain.  A
battery of heavy guns was to be emplaced on Sari Bair.  The convoy,
coming by way of Kumkeni and Boghali, might be expected at Kojadere on
the following morning.  The captain was to abandon for the time the
pursuit of the Englishman and to place himself at the disposition of the
officer commanding the battery, to assist in transporting the guns up
the hill.

Frank did not know Kojadere by name, but he knew Boghali, and
conjectured that Kojadere must be the village at the south-east foot of
the hill.  It was visible from a spur about half a mile from his
hiding-place. A rough path left the main track between Boghali and
Kojadere at about the same distance from the latter place, and joined a
similar path running direct from Kojadere up the hill.  These facts
Frank had learnt in the course of his wanderings, and he determined,
simply from motives of curiosity, to make his way to a spot where he
could see a sight new to him, the placing of a battery of guns.  Abdi
had gone, no doubt, to Chanak; the others would not for the present
concern themselves with their elusive quarry; for he assumed that the
contents of the despatch were known to the carrier; so it was with an
easy mind that he betook himself to the elevated spot from which he
could view the Boghali road.

It was chilly in the morning air.  The valleys and the lower ground were
blanketed in mist.  The heights were clear, and Frank smiled as he saw
in his mind’s eye the scene of his night’s adventure, invisible to his
bodily eye, over the brow of the hill.

A light breeze was sweeping up through the hills from the sea, causing
the mist to gyrate in swirling eddies, and here and there cutting a path
through it.  Gradually more and more of the Boghali road was exposed to
his view.  There was nothing moving upon it.  He looked up in the
direction of Biyuk Anafarta, towards the quarter in which the Anatolians
should presently appear, in pursuance of their instructions. There was
no sign of them yet; it was possible that the contents of the despatch
were unknown to them after all.

After a time he caught sight of figures beyond Boghali where the road
wound round a low hill to the north of that place. Ere long he was able
to recognise the artillery train--long teams, whether of horses, oxen,
or mules he could not tell even through his field-glasses, dragging
heavy guns and ammunition wagons.  The escort numbered, at a guess, some
three hundred men.  The train passed through Boghali, and took the
right-hand road towards Sari Bair.  A bridge spanned a stream fed by a
number of rivulets rising on the eastern slope of the hill.  Here the
train came to a halt.  There was a long delay; probably the bridge was
not constructed for heavy traffic.  Then one of the guns appeared on the
western side; the others slowly followed.

By this time Frank felt pretty sure that the Anatolians were ignorant of
the orders given in the despatch, otherwise they should long ago have
reached Boghali by the direct road from Biyuk Anafarta.  If they had
resumed their hunt for him, it behoved him to be cautious.  From the
troops below he had little to fear.  They were not looking for him, and
in all likelihood were unaware of his existence. Keeping a careful
look-out above, therefore, he stole down under cover of the scrub, which
was very dense on this side of the hill, to take a nearer view of the
work of the artillerymen.

Several mounted officers had pushed ahead to survey the ground and
choose the easiest route for the guns.  Some had taken the first track
on the right of the road, others were riding quickly forward to Kojadere
to examine the track from there.  The two parties met at the junction,
and from subsequent operations it appeared that the longer but easier
gradient from Kojadere had been decided upon.  Up this track, then, the
officers despatched strong working parties, to clear away obstacles, and
cut down the scrub which here and there encroached at the sides.  Two
officers, mounted on mules, slowly rode up to the summit, to select an
emplacement for their battery.

Frank watched all this from a sheltered spot at some distance from the
track.  These troops were not looking for him, it was true; but in their
course they must work round his position, and he was careful not to
expose himself.

The way having been prepared, the men in charge of the first gun whipped
up their team, which hauled the heavy weapon about a third of the
distance up the track.  Then there was a check.  The slope was very
irregular.  For some yards its angle was low; then it would suddenly
make a sharp rise.  It was at one of these abrupt acclivities that the
gun had now arrived.  The ascent seemed an impossible one, and the
track, with on one side the rocky hill and on the other a steep incline,
hazardous in the extreme.  The team attached to the second gun was
unhitched and brought up to assist the first.  Urged by vociferous
shouts and much cracking of whips, the united teams, straining and
hauling, managed to draw the gun up a few feet at a time, large blocks
of wood being placed behind the wheels at each stoppage to prevent it
from slipping back.

Frank looked on at all this with interest, and a certain sympathy for
man and beast, which was increased when one of the officers, a German,
rode down the hill and vented his irritation at the delays in foul abuse
and violent threats.  "They are working jolly hard," was his inward
protest.  The gun moved on again, and a turn in the track hid it from
his view.  He looked around to make sure that he was in no danger of
being seen from the rear, then crept up through the scrub to reach a
spot where he could again follow the operations.

"I wonder what they are going to all this trouble for?" he thought.
"Those guns aren’t a match for our naval guns, and in any case they are
no good here as a defence of the forts."

A little way further up the hill he came upon a gully scarcely three
feet wide, much overgrown with bushes.  It appeared to lead down towards
the track, on which, to judge by the renewed shouts of the men and the
cessation of the rumbling of the wheels, the gun had again been brought
to a halt.  Frank crept down this gully stealthily foot by foot, and
presently discovered the cause of this new check.  The gully intersected
the track and fell down the slope beyond.  Though it was now dry, at
some time it had evidently been a watercourse, and the water had scored
a deep channel across the track, an effectual obstacle to heavy traffic.
At this moment the men were toiling with pick and spade to fill up the
channel, a task that would clearly occupy some time.

Frank looked on for a few minutes.  Then his eyes strayed down the
track.  The mules were stationary in a long line, quite unattended.  The
team hauling the second gun lower down was out of sight.  "Pity I can’t
spike the gun," Frank thought, "though to be sure spiking is impossible
in these days. But a slip would send it crashing down the track, or over
the slope.  I wish----"  And then an idea flashed into his mind.  The
gun was hauled, not by leather traces, but by heavy chains.  Quickly
raising his field-glasses, he levelled them at the attachments of the
chains to the gun-carriage.  Each one ended in a massive iron ring,
which was looped over a long hook.  Now that the gun was halted, and the
wheels stopped by blocks of wood, the chains were hanging slack.

Replacing his glasses, he crept down under cover of the scrub until he
came opposite the gun.  All the men were still engaged above.  He looked
up, down, around.  No one was in sight, except the men working with
their backs towards him a hundred yards up the hill.  Inch by inch he
stole nearer to the track; paused a moment to collect himself; then
darted rapidly from cover, lifted the ring from the hook on the side
nearest him, hitched the chain so that it appeared to be in place, and
slipped back breathlessly into the scrub.  It had taken him no more than
a quarter of a minute.

"Will it work?" he asked himself as he lurked in his hiding-place a few
yards above the track.  All depended on whether the drivers examined the
attachments before they moved on again.  There seemed no reason why they
should do so; hitherto the drivers had walked at the head of their
teams; but there was a chance that when they came down to lift the
blocks of wood one of them might happen to notice that something was
wrong.

He waited in feverish impatience.  How slowly the men were working!
What a bully that German officer was!  If the trick succeeded, these
patient long-suffering Turks would have had their labour for nothing:
the German would make them pay for it. Well, they must pay for allowing
themselves to be fooled by the Germans.

At last came the word of command.  The drivers hastened to the heads of
the mules; two men hurried down to lift the blocks of wood when the gun
had started.  There were loud shouts and cracking of whips; the mules
strained at their collars; the heavy gun lurched forward.  And then
Frank thrilled with delight.  Secured only on one side, the gun skewed
round with a jerk.  For a brief moment it hung over the edge of the
slope.  The mules slipped backward; the sudden slackening of the chains
released the second ring from its hook; and to the sound of startled
yells and frantic invocations of Allah the gun hurtled down the slope
and crashed into a ravine two or three hundred feet below.



                              CHAPTER XVI

                          TWO MEN IN A LAUNCH


In the confusion ensuing upon the fall of the gun Frank crept unseen up
the gully. He chuckled as he heard the infuriate curses of the German
officer.  The cause of the disaster would never be known.  Whether it
were ascribed to the carelessness of the men or to the accidental
slipping of a ring mattered nothing: the gun was lying at a spot whence
it would be almost impossible to remove it; very likely it was damaged
beyond repair.  Frank’s satisfaction was only alloyed by regret that to
attempt the same feat with the other guns of the battery was out of the
question.

"Now what’s to be done?" he thought, when, having put a considerable
distance between himself and any risk of danger, he stopped to think
over his position.  One result of the establishment of the battery on
the heights must be his abandonment of the sepulchre.  Whatever might be
the reason for placing the battery just there, if the guns began to play
they would draw upon them the shells of the British fleet, and the
sepulchre was near enough to be anything but a safe asylum.  The troops
pursuing him were not far to the north. With no permanent refuge he
could not hope to evade them much longer.  Sari Bair was becoming too
hot to hold him.  He must move on.

But in what direction?  No part of the peninsula was any longer safe.
To go southwards was mere folly: he would only come to the forts, about
which there was no doubt a strong concentration of troops.  And that way
there was no outlet but the sea. Northwards, where the peninsula was
wider, there would be more room to move; but after what had happened he
would be watched for at every little farm, on all the roads, and if he
were not actually captured, lack of food would ultimately enforce his
surrender.  "What an ass I was not to make for the harbour at Gallipoli
that night," he thought, "and try to smuggle myself on Kopri’s vessel!"
But repentance had come too late.  Here he was, caged; nothing could now
alter that; and if he were caught in the end--well, these last few days
had given him an amount of joyous excitement which he could never
forget.  Even the reflection that he had now lost the privileges of a
civilian, and would probably be shot at sight, did not much trouble him.
"Kismet!" he thought: "I must have breathed in the fatalistic spirit of
the country."

"But I’m not done yet," he added to himself.  "It’s Bulgaria now, I
suppose. I’d better get away first to the east, out of the way of those
fellows hunting me, and then work round as quickly as I can to the
north-west.  Lucky I stuffed my pockets pretty full of loaves; but it’s
quarter rations. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get more."

The booming of guns to the south reminded him that fellow-countrymen
were only a few miles away--a galling remembrance.  They could do
nothing for him. "Alone, alone, all, all alone!"--where had he read
those words, and how little he had understood till now what they
meant!--"Oh, chuck it, Frank Forester!" he said to himself.  "It’s no
good grousing.  Come on!"

He struck off across the shoulder of the hill, and made his way down the
bed of a stream skirting the western side of Kojadere, and flowing
almost due south until with a sharp turn to the left it fell into the
Dardanelles a mile or so north of Maidos.  For the greater part of the
distance it was close to a road, and Frank had to keep a careful
look-out.  But the country was rugged and desolate: there were no
villages and to all appearance no houses; only once did he catch sight
of anything on the road--a bullock wagon lumbering slowly in the
opposite direction.

The ground was for the most part on a low level, and in order to
ascertain his distance from the coast he turned off to the left, where
there were hills rising nearly two hundred feet.  After a long and
tiring climb he reached a cliff at the eastern extremity of the Kalkmaz
Dagh which, projecting a little into the sea, gave him a direct view
downward into Maidos and the strait beyond.  A Turkish warship lay just
above the Narrows; torpedo boats and vessels which, though he did not
know it, were mine-layers, were moored here and there; and crossing the
channel from Chanak was the motor launch, with its awning over the
fore-deck, which he had noticed once or twice before.  "Abdi’s on the
other side now," he thought.

He watched the launch through his glasses as it threaded its way through
the congestion of lighters and small cargo vessels lying off Maidos, to
a jetty north of the town.  A number of passengers came ashore.  The
launch was tied up and the crew also landed--all but one man, who sat
down in the stern and appeared to be eating his dinner.  Frank almost
unconsciously took out one of his loaves.  "Didn’t know I was so
hungry," he muttered.  He ate half the loaf, which was little larger
than a scone, put the remainder back, then took it out again for a final
mouthful.  The man on the launch was still eating.  Frank watched him
enviously, and almost hated him when he saw him wrap up a portion of his
meal and stow it away.  "He has too much and I too little," he thought.
"I daresay he’d sell what’s left.  Wish I could get at him!"

This started a train of thought, or rather a series of questions.  Why
not go down to the launch?  Why not make use of his military uniform?
What chance was there that the man on the launch had heard that an
English fugitive was masquerading as a Turkish officer of artillery?
Indeed, why not bluff it out, get command of the launch, and run down
the strait towards the open sea?  British warships were there.  Was he
prepared to face a twofold risk--run the gauntlet of Turkish vessels and
batteries, and also draw fire from a British ship?

It was a ticklish problem, that would not wait long for a solution.  At
any moment the launch might be ordered off.  If the attempt was to be
made, it must be made at once.  "Too risky," he thought.  "I might be
spotted before I reached it.  It’s nearly a mile away: might be gone by
the time I could get down.  It’s absurd."

Sunk in this pessimism he sat with his chin on his hand, looking at the
launch, on which the man now lay stretched on his back, gazing down the
strait towards Kilid Bahr, where the shore bent round to the west, and
beyond which there were British vessels.  It was only four or five miles
to Kilid Bahr; in the clear air the distance seemed shorter.  He thought
of the alternative--further hide-and-seek in the hills, long wanderings,
semi-starvation, cold.  "Hanged if I don’t have a shot," he said to
himself.

Below him ran the road from Boghali through Maidos, at the edge of the
strait. There was no other way of reaching the launch unless he made a
long detour round the hills.  The afternoon was already far advanced.  A
detour would take much time, and taking it he would lose sight of the
launch.  On the road, so far as he could see it, there was no traffic.
He rose to his feet, made his way down the hillside, gained the road,
and set off quickly southward.

In a few minutes, rounding a corner, he overtook a transport wagon drawn
by two oxen.  It flashed upon him that he would attract less attention
if he got a lift on it. Stepping up to the front of the wagon, he hailed
the driver.

"Give me a lift," he said.  "I’ve walked from Sari Bair, where we are
placing a battery.  It’s very tiring, walking over the hills."

"That is true, effendim," said the man. "Your excellency may do as he
pleases."

Frank got up beside the driver.  The wagon lumbered on.  As it neared
Maidos it passed people here and there; they saluted the supposed
officer without suspicion.  It passed a house ruined by a shell.

"They said the English were our friends," remarked the wagoner.

"Time will show who are our true friends," answered Frank.

They were now entering the northern outskirts of the town.  Frank saw
many signs of the havoc wrought by indirect fire from the British fleet.
In the distance soldiers were moving about.  He thought it time to get
down.  Tipping the driver, he jumped to the ground, and turned off to
the left towards the jetty.  The launch was still tied up: he could just
see its awning.

When he was still some little distance from it he had a shock.  From the
opposite direction, and nearer to the jetty than himself, a Turkish
officer was approaching it. He was bound to get there first.  For a
moment Frank thought of turning tail; he had not yet been observed; but
it occurred to him that the officer might possibly come back in a few
minutes: it was worth while waiting to see.

Near at hand was a deep hole in the ground, the work of a shell.  Beside
it was a broken transport wagon.  He sat on this, took a cigarette from
the case which, with an automatic lighter, he had found in the pocket of
the great-coat, and began smoking like any idler.  A shed at the shore
end of the jetty partly hid him from view.

The officer went on board the launch. Frank had a second shock.  It was
the Kurd Abdi.  Apparently he had not been to Chanak after all.  Perhaps
he had deferred his departure for the sake of making one more attempt to
capture the fugitive.  It was plain that he was intending to cross the
strait now, for the man in charge of the launch was making preparations
to start.

Frank was as it were paralysed for a few moments.  The game was up.  But
no: while the man was pouring petrol into the tank, Abdi had gone
forward and was making himself comfortable under the awning forward.
There was just a chance for boldness.  Making up his mind instantly,
Frank strolled unconcernedly down the jetty. The launch man was bending
over his engine; beyond him Abdi was half concealed by the awning.

Frank halted a few yards from the launch, where his face could not be
seen by the Kurd, and hailed the engine man in a low tone.  The man
looked up, and Frank beckoned him ashore.  He hesitated a moment; then
the officer’s uniform was effective: he jumped on to the jetty and came
to Frank’s side.  With a show of mystery Frank led him a few yards and
said:

"His excellency is crossing to Chanak."

"The Governor?" asked the man.

"Yes: you are ordered to wait.  Not a word to any one.  Go at once to
headquarters and ask for Major Ahmed Talik. There will be a valise to
carry down.  You understand?--Major Ahmed Talik.  It is not to be talked
about.  Make haste!"

"But my passenger, effendim?"

"He must wait.  I will explain to him."

"My orders!  I am not to leave the launch."

"Do you argue with me?" said Frank sternly.  "Go at once."

The man hastened to excuse himself, and set off, somewhat bewildered,
towards the town.

"Why keep me waiting, dog of a dog-son?" called Abdi from the launch.

The man turned, but Frank signed to him imperatively to go on, then
sauntered back along the jetty, one hand holding the cigarette, the
other fingering the revolver in his pocket.  Abdi had raised himself
from his recumbent posture, and in a crouching attitude was peering out
from beneath the low awning.  The glow of the sun, setting over the
hills behind, struck full upon his eyes: Frank’s were shadowed.  Frank
half turned as if watching the retreating launch man, all the time
slowly approaching the vessel, thus gaining ground without revealing his
face.

Then he suddenly swung round, and jumped on board.  The launch rocked.

"Wallahy!  Would you upset me?" cried Abdi.

Frank stood in front of him, pointing his revolver, but in such a
posture that the weapon could not be seen by chance observers on shore.
Half under the awning Abdi was at a disadvantage.  He was so much taken
aback by Frank’s sudden movement, and so much overcome with amazement
when he at last recognised the features of the newcomer, that he was
incapable of shouting an alarm, and the sight of the revolver within a
few feet of his head disposed him to listen to what Frank was saying.

"Salam," said Frank quietly, "we are going for a little trip together.
No, no: keep your hands down.  Don’t move any further from under the
awning.  You recognise me, I see.  I am the Englishman you have been
hunting--and this is my revolver. It is loaded.--Do you hear?  Keep
still.--You have a revolver too, in that belt to which I see your
restless hand groping. Well, I collect revolvers.  I have two of yours
already; the other will be safer with me.  No: keep your hands up; if
you hurry me I may shoot too soon.  On your life don’t make a movement!"
he ended fiercely.

With his right hand holding his revolver at the Kurd’s head, he stooped,
and with a quick movement of his left hand wrested the revolver from the
other’s belt.

"Now get back under the awning to the comfortable place you have
arranged for yourself," he said.

The Kurd hesitated and flashed a downward glance at the knives in his
belt.

"I will count three," Frank went on.  "If you are not comfortable when I
come to three ... one ... two----"

With a snarling curse Abdi crept backward to the cushions at the further
end of the awning, and collapsed there.

Transferring the revolver to his left hand, Frank, also moving backward,
came to the engine.  It was not his first trip in a motor launch, and a
rapid examination showed him that the boatman had got everything ready.
Nothing remained but to switch on the current, turn the crank and cast
off the hawser.  These movements he made, his eyes scarcely leaving the
discomfited Kurd for a moment.  Then he threw the engine into gear and
seized the helm, and the little craft sidled from the jetty, and shot
away over the dancing wavelets of the Dardanelles.



                              CHAPTER XVII

                          THROUGH THE NARROWS


Frank felt himself go pale under the reaction from the strain of the
last few minutes.  But he had won the advantage in the opening of the
game: he must maintain it to the end.

He had so often watched the launch crossing to and fro that he had a
pretty good idea of the course.  Chanak was a couple of miles down the
strait on the opposite shore: it would excite least remark if he steered
as for that town.  The vessel was too shallow in draught to run much
risk from possible mines, and it was so frequently seen that no one on a
Turkish ship would pay any attention to it.  No doubt an alarm would be
raised when the boatman discovered that he had been tricked; but Frank
hoped to be several miles on his voyage to safety by that time.

When he drew out from under the lee of the hills he found that the wind
was in his favour, blowing directly down the Narrows. This should mean
at least a three-knot current.  The launch was small, and probably
incapable of more than seven or eight knots: his utmost speed, then,
might rise to ten or eleven.  But it was not wholly a question of speed.
If the alarm was given before he reached the narrowest part of the
channel at Chanak escape would be unlikely if not impossible.  The
fast-gathering darkness would be no protection.  He would be under
searchlights from both sides, and a dozen batteries would have him under
fire at ranges ascertained to a yard.  His nerves, judgment, quickness
of decision, would be taxed to the uttermost in this adventurous voyage
of a few miles.

With the fall of night navigation practically ceased on the strait;
therefore he was not very likely to be run down by accident. But he must
guard against collision with vessels moored under either shore.
Further, there was always a chance that he would be challenged from the
deck of one of the stationary vessels, and though he did not doubt his
ability to give a reassuring answer, he had always the Kurd to reckon
with. It would have been prudent to gag him, but the opportunity for
that was past. Shaping his course by the faint twilight, he kept one eye
on Abdi, ready to take action instantly if the man showed any
disposition to be troublesome.

So, in growing darkness, he ran down the strait until he came opposite
Chanak, which was distinguishable by a few dim lights and the sounds of
bustle on the quays and jetties.  The place had suffered considerably by
bombardment from the ships of the allied fleet, which had come up to
within a few miles of the Narrows; but it was clear that extensive
repairs were already in progress.  Observing two or three large vessels
moored out of the current in the little bay north of the town, Frank as
a measure of precaution cut off the engine, and the launch drifted into
the neck between Chanak and Kilid Bahr.  His ear caught the faint sound
of a windlass working in the channel at some unseen point ahead.
Clearly a vessel lay out there.  He pitched his voice to a low note, and
gave Abdi a quiet warning not to speak a word or make any movement of
alarm, on pain of receiving the full contents of his revolver.  The most
dangerous part of his voyage was evidently at hand.

In a few minutes he saw, some little distance ahead on the starboard
side, a large dark shape moving towards him. Putting the helm over, he
crept in more closely to the Asiatic shore, in the hope that the launch,
being small and low and travelling silently, would escape observation.
But next moment he was startled by the sudden beam of a searchlight
playing over the middle of the channel from some point behind him.  The
darkness on either side was intensified, so that the light, while it
swept mid-channel, favoured him; but if it should bend its rays to the
left, the launch would be vividly illuminated, and could not fail to be
observed by the men on the approaching vessel, who would certainly
follow with their eyes the path of light.  He watched the beam
lengthening its giant stride.  It passed over the slowly approaching
torpedo boat and illuminated the water beyond. Hugging the shore as
closely as he dared, Frank drifted on, resolved, if the light fell on
him, to start the engine and make a dash at full speed down the strait.

The light took a sudden sweep upwards, swung to the right over the hills
and disappeared.  Then Frank realised that the current had failed him.
The launch was scarcely moving.  He steered for the open channel, edging
out very gradually.  No sooner had the launch come again into the
current than the light flashed out, just touching a point of land on his
port side, and passing beyond it.  It occurred to him that if he could
round the point during the interval of darkness before the light again
appeared, he would no longer be in its direct path.  It was worth the
risk of starting the engine and making a dash over the short distance
between him and safety.  Guided only by the dark outline of the low
wooded cliffs on his left hand, he put the engine at full speed while
the light was still sweeping the channel.  To maintain an even distance
from the shore he soon found it necessary to keep the helm well over.
He must be rounding the point.  And when, a minute or two later, the
beam once more flashed out, it passed almost directly over him, leaving
him in shadow.  With a sense of profound relief he stopped the engine
and floated down with the current, more than satisfied for the moment,
but wondering how long his luck would hold.

The launch was now in pitch darkness. Frank knew that there were shoals
along the shore, and he was beset by a double anxiety: he must steer so
as to avoid at once the path of the searchlight and the unknown shoals.
So fully was his attention occupied that he had almost forgotten the
Kurd lying forward.  The dark patch which favoured him was favourable
also to an expedient which Abdi had been grimly meditating.  Suddenly,
while Frank was peering into the darkness ahead, he was conscious that a
black shape had intervened between him and the scarcely perceptible
space of water.  He knew instantly what it was, but before he could
brace himself for the impending shock the steering-wheel shivered under
a sword-cut that missed him by a hairsbreadth, and the Kurd flung
himself upon him, at the same time shouting vociferously to attract the
attention of any watchers who might be on shore, or on some vessel near
by.  Taking advantage of Frank’s preoccupation and the darkness, Abdi
had crawled from under the awning and along the deck under the side of
the little craft, springing to his feet within a few inches of Frank’s
seat.

It was the fact of being seated that proved to be Frank’s salvation.
Abdi lost the advantage of surprise when his sword-cut missed.  He fell
forward awkwardly.  Frank’s right hand was pinned beneath the Kurd’s
body, but his left, with which he had held the wheel, was free.
Instantly he gripped Abdi’s sword-arm above the wrist, and for a few
moments there was a fierce struggle for position between the two men;
Frank striving to free his right hand, and when he had done so, to
prevent the Kurd from strangling him with his left arm.

Frank was soon aware that in mere power of muscle he was no match for
his assailant. But he had the firmer position, Abdi being inclined
forward and swaying unsteadily with the rocking of the launch.  Suddenly
dropping his clutch on the Kurd’s upper right arm, he seized him by the
throat, braced himself against the seat, and pulled his left arm towards
him, exerting all his strength to twist him over.  With his free right
hand Abdi clutched at the thwart; but Frank’s leverage against the seat
gave him the mechanical advantage; moreover, the Kurd was expending much
energy in trying to free himself from the pressure on his windpipe.
Inch by inch he was pressed back against the side of the launch, every
moment struggling more feebly under Frank’s choking clutch.  At last his
shoulders were hanging over the water, and his arms were raised as a
drowning man throws up his hands.  Then suddenly Frank released the
Kurd’s throat, caught him beneath the right knee, and, pressing heavily
on the seat, tilted him overboard.  There was a gurgling gasp as the man
struck the water, then a brief silence, broken soon by a long yell.  It
was a cry for help, but not a cry of despair, and Frank, panting from
his recent exertions, was aware that Abdi could swim. His cries must be
heard on shore and on any vessels that might lie in the neighbourhood or
be patrolling the strait.  At first their meaning would not be known,
but they would give the alarm and put the enemy on the alert, and as
soon as Abdi reached the shore the truth would be flashed from fort to
fort.

The launch, left to itself during the struggle, had drifted inshore and
was bumping against the rocks.  Frank had just switched on the engine
and reversed the screw when an agitated movement of the searchlight and
shouts from the cliffs above him showed that an alarm of some sort had
been given.  The white beam was sweeping the whole breadth of the
channel except that black band which was shielded by the cliffs and in
which the launch was moving. This band widened as the trend of the shore
became more south-westerly, and Frank had good hope of running out of
danger.  His confidence was rudely shaken when a second searchlight
began to play from a point slightly ahead of him.  For all he knew there
might be others at different points down the channel.  It was neck or
nothing now.  He put the engine at full speed ahead, and the launch
throbbed and swished through the water.

The coast-line here made a sudden bend inwards.  Frank steered
accordingly, and was relieved to find that by his change of course he
just escaped the searchlight, whose beam flashed almost over his head.
The beating of his screw could hardly fail to be heard on shore, no more
than a hundred yards away; but the light could evidently not be
depressed sufficiently to illuminate this edge of the channel.  The
launch dashed on; the light was left behind; and steering almost due
south Frank once more felt secure.

But next moment he was startled by the sudden flashing of a light from
the opposite shore.  It swept directly across the channel and moved
slowly along, lighting up yard after yard of the white cliffs on his
left hand. There was no avoiding it, and he felt a strange tingling as
he realised that in a few seconds the light would find him, and he would
then become the target for the enemy’s guns.  So it was.  The beam
suddenly overtook him, the launch was vividly illuminated from stem to
stern, and the light kept pace with it in its rush down the channel.
Frank tried by zigzag steering to wriggle out of it, but it followed
every movement, and he resigned himself to the inevitable.

There was a roar and flash from the western shore.  A shell splashed
into the water close astern, but failed to explode. At that moment Frank
felt neither dismay nor fear, but only a strange exhilaration. Shells
began to fall fast, now ahead, now astern, and on both sides, some
exploding with a terrific noise, others merely splashing into the water.
"They haven’t had practice on moving targets, like our naval gunners,"
thought Frank.

Since everything now depended on speed, he steered out into the channel,
in order to take full advantage of the current.  His change of course
seemed to baulk the gunners. The light grew dimmer as he drew farther
from its source, and the gunners, slow in shortening their range, sent
their shells far beyond him.  But now a brilliant beam of light struck
the launch from the eastern shore.  The searchlight which the cliffs had
previously intercepted had free play over the part of the channel on
which he was now racing.  In a few moments shells began to fall more
thickly around him.  The noise was deafening.  Huge waves dashed over
the launch, and Frank wondered whether it was to escape a shot only to
be swamped and sunk by the water.  But he clung firmly to the wheel.

Then there was a stunning explosion. The launch staggered as if smitten
by a mighty hammer; an immense volume of silvery spray showered upon it.
Frank saw that a big gap had been made in the starboard side, a foot or
two from the stem. But the engine still throbbed steadily, and the
little craft still thrashed her way at full speed seaward.  For a little
the shelling ceased.  The spray had hidden the launch from the view of
the gunners, who probably supposed that they had sunk her.  But they
soon discovered their mistake, and after a ranging shot they started
their continuous bombardment again.  The brief respite had enabled Frank
to gain ground. The launch was less brilliantly illuminated. A light
mist was gathering on the water. The wind had changed and was blowing in
from the mouth of the channel.  In a few minutes the shells ceased to
fall.  The batteries had given him up.

But his satisfaction was short-lived.  Above the throbbing of his engine
he became aware of a new sound--the deeper-toned throbbing of a much
more powerful engine. A new light began to grope through the mist.
Frank felt a sinking of heart.  Beyond doubt a war vessel of some kind
was in pursuit of him.  Outmatched in speed, what could he look for now
but a sudden end?

The light found him.  Instantly the torpedo boat astern opened fire:
Frank heard the regular rap-rap of a machine gun. The noise of the
engines grew louder: the vessel was bearing down upon him relentlessly
like a sleuthhound.  Bullets whizzed, whistled, splashed, thudded on the
woodwork. He felt a burning pang in his right shoulder.  Clenching his
teeth he held on his course.  Despair seized him when another light,
this time ahead, mingled its misty beam with that from behind.  Between
two fires, what could this be but the end?  "I’ll die game," he
muttered, and steered straight for the torpedo boat which was now
visible in the lifted light of the vessel behind.  In a few seconds his
light craft would strike that iron bow, and then----

But the shock against which Frank had thus steeled himself never came.
With his hand still upon the steering-wheel he swooned away.


When Frank opened his eyes again, they lighted upon the ruddy
clean-shaven face of a man in a peaked cap and navy blue.

"Where am I?" he murmured.

"In a ward of H.M.S.--no, I mustn’t tell you the name, bedad: ’tis
against the rules, or if it isn’t, it might be, so I’ll not tell you.
But it’s a hospital ship, and you’ve a nice little hole in your
shoulder, and here’s the bullet that bored it: perhaps you’d like to
look at it."

Frank took the bullet and looked at it with an air of detachment.  It
seemed hardly believable that that cone of lead had been in his flesh
and was now out of it.

"But who the deuce are you, in an enemy uniform and all?" the surgeon
asked.  "No, you haven’t it on now, to be sure; but there ’tis, rolled
up on the bunk there, and you were in it when they brought you aboard,
and you speaking English as well as the rest of us.  You can’t talk, to
be sure; but who are you?  Don’t try to talk, but tell me that."

Frank smiled at the rubicund Irishman.

"I feel rather groggy," he said faintly.

"Of course, and who wouldn’t?  But ’tis a clean wound, and you’ll be up
and skylarking in a day or two, Mr.----"

"Frank Forester."

"Ah now, that’s not a Turk’s name, to be sure.  Well, don’t talk.  I can
talk enough for both.  When Lieutenant-Commander W----no, I won’t name
him--of H.M.S.--won’t name _her_--saw a Turkish gunboat firing on a Turk
in a neat little cockleshell of a launch, ’Boys,’ said he--though I did
not hear him, to be sure--’Boys, drop one in the engine-room.’  And sure
enough, one of her fore six-pounders planted a shell amidships, and
crippled the Turk’s engines, and a couple more sent her to the bottom.
Then they hunted for you, and found your launch bumping on the rocks
below Erenkeui, and you as pale as your shirt (where it wasn’t red)
hugging your wheel as if you loved it.  They took you aboard and handed
you over to me, and I’m to send in a report when I’ve got from you who
you are, and who’s your father, and the way you come to be playing the
fool in a Turk’s uniform.  But there’s no hurry for that. You’ll take a
little food, and sleep, and by and by I’ll come and see you again, and
then you can give an account of yourself.  Now let me have a peep at
your shoulder."



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                          THE LANDING AT ANZAC


One bright morning in April, a group of young officers sat smoking on
the deck of a British destroyer lying amid a crowd of warships and
transport vessels in Mudros harbour, on the southern shore of the
Grecian island of Lemnos.  They were clad in khaki, with sun helmets,
which marked them out as military, not naval officers. Seated in a rough
half-circle, some on chairs, some on the spotless deck, they appeared to
be specially interested in one of their number, at whom they were
throwing questions one after another.

"What’s the Turkish for ’Give me some beer,’ anyhow?" one had just
asked.

"_Bana bira ver_," replied the young subaltern.  "But you won’t easily
get it, you know.  Moslems don’t drink it."

"Do they grow grapes?" asked another.

"Oh yes; _yuzum_ ’s the word."

"Don’t they make ’em into wine, then?"

"They’re not supposed to, but I daresay you might get some if you said
_Bana sharab ver_ very politely."

"You won’t want it, Ted," said a third. "We’ve plenty of our own stuff.
Our Australian wine is as good as any."

"Besides," said the man they were questioning, "you won’t get many
opportunities of making requisitions of that sort.  There aren’t any
inns in Gallipoli, you know."

"What’s the Turkish for _inn_?"

"Khan."

"Say ’keep up your pecker’ in Turkish: that’ll stump you."

"Not at all.  If you fancy your Turk is downhearted, say to him
’_Gheiret ileh_.’"

A subaltern, who had furtively taken from his pocket a booklet with a
buff-coloured paper cover, turned over the pages, replaced the book, and
bending forward said:

"Here’s a poser for you.  What’s the Turkish for ’not to be able to be
made to love’?"

There was a gust of laughter.

"Tomlinson’s thinking of the girl he left behind him," said one of his
comrades. "_Gheiret ileh_, Tommy."

"Stumped, Forester?"

"I’m sorry for Tomlinson; he’ll have a mouthful to say.
_Sevderilehmemek_ meets the case, I think."

"By Jove!" gasped the last speaker. "Sounds like a bird twittering."

Tomlinson had taken out his book again.

"Forester’s right," he said, examining a page.  "What a language!  How
in the world did you manage to learn it?"

"What have you got there?" some one asked.

"A remarkable production called ’Easy Turkish,’" Tomlinson replied.  "If
that’s easy! ... It’s supposed to be a word-book for our chaps in
Turkey; but while it gives you the Turkish for ’not to be able to be
made to love’--as if any sane person would want to say that!--it doesn’t
tell you how to say you’re hungry or thirsty.  Poof!"

He flung the book overboard.

"Bang goes sixpence!" he remarked. "You’d better compile something
decent, Forester."

"It’s too late now," said Frank, smiling. "Pity; I might have made a few
honest pennies if I had started in time."

Frank had been taken in the hospital ship to Malta, where he found his
father.  As he made a swift recovery from his wound, he grew more and
more eager to join the fighting forces, and was on the point of applying
for a commission when news came that a military expedition in Gallipoli
had been decided on, to retrieve the failure of the naval operations
which had been in progress for several months.  With his father’s
approval he hastened to Alexandria and applied for work in connection
with the expedition.  His knowledge of Turkish and his recent
experiences in Gallipoli served him well.  Interpreters were much
needed. He was attached as interpreter to the Australian contingent with
the rank of lieutenant, and accompanied the troops when they sailed for
the base in Mudros Bay.

"What sort of a place is this Gallipoli?" asked one of the young
Australians, who had heard something of Frank’s adventures.

"A very hard nut to crack," Frank replied.  "I don’t know much about the
coast, which is mainly cliffs with very narrow beaches; but the interior
is all rocky hills and ravines, covered with scrub and dwarf oaks.  You
couldn’t imagine finer country for defence, and the Turks are best on
the defensive.  They’ve had time for preparation, too.  A couple of
months ago I saw them dragging a battery up the sides of Sari Bair, a
hill nearly 1000 feet high, and since then no doubt they’ve planted guns
all over the place."

"We’re in for a hot time, then," remarked Tomlinson.  "Well, I was fed
up with Egypt.  That attack on the canal was a futile bit of stupidity,
and I was afraid they’d keep us there on the watch for another attack
which not even the Turks would be asses enough to make.  If we’re in for
the real thing now--well, I for one am delighted, I assure you."

At two o’clock on Saturday afternoon, April 24, the flagship took up her
position at the head of the line, and the warships passed down among the
slowly moving transports amid cheers from the men on the crowded decks.
Two hours later the troops were lined up with the ships’ companies to
hear the captains read Admiral de Robeck’s final order of the day, and
to join in the last solemn service conducted by the chaplains.  Then the
vessels steamed slowly northward, towards the scene of what was to be
the most heroic enterprise in the long annals of our history.

All night the fleet made its slow way. On Frank’s destroyer the naval
officers entertained the troops with their traditional hospitality, and
then the men--such of them as excitement did not keep awake--slept
through the remaining hours of darkness.

At one in the morning of Sunday the ships hove to, five miles from the
fatal shore.  The men were aroused and served with a hot meal.  The
stillness of night brooded over the decks, and the young soldiers,
browned, stalwart, eager, chatted in subdued tones.  Twenty minutes
later came the signal from the flagship for lowering the boats, which
had been swinging all night from the davits.  Silently the men moved to
their appointed places; the boats dropped gently to the water, and out
of the darkness glided the steam pinnaces that were to take them in tow.
Frank and his new acquaintances were to remain on the destroyer, which
would go close inshore and land them in boats after those towed by the
pinnaces had reached the beach.

It was still dark when the boats, each in charge of a young midshipman,
moved slowly and silently shoreward.  The group of officers on the deck
of the destroyer followed them with their eyes until they were swallowed
up in the darkness.  Their hearts were beating fast with suppressed
excitement.  What was to be the fate of this great adventure?  Could
their approach have been heard?  Would the enemy be taken by surprise?
Had the shore at this spot been fortified in anticipation of attack?
Nothing was known.  The dawn would show.

Three battleships had taken up position in line abreast to cover the
landing.  The boats stole past them.  Through the gloom the outline of
the cliffs was just faintly discernible.  Frank gazed breathlessly
ahead. He could barely distinguish the foremost boats creeping in
towards the shore.  All was silent; the brooding hush seemed ominous.
Suddenly a searchlight flashed from a point on the cliffs, showing up
the boats as it moved slowly over the water.  Still not a shot was
fired.  The destroyer, one of seven, began to move.  It had barely got
under way when there was a long line of flashes at the level of the
beach, followed in a few seconds by a sharp crackle.  The Turks had
opened rifle fire.  Then came the faint sounds of a British cheer.  The
first boats had reached the beach: dark forms could be seen leaping
forwards into a blaze of fire.  Frank watched them with a quivering
impatience.  His general instructions were to go ashore when the landing
had been made good and to hold himself in readiness to interpret so soon
as the first prisoners were brought in.  But in his heart he longed to
be among the gallant fellows who were braving the perils of the assault;
why should he be passive when they were daring so much?

A light mist crept over the sea, almost blotting out the cliffs.
Presently the destroyer moved slowly shorewards; it stopped again, and
at the moment when rifle fire burst forth with greater intensity the
boats were lowered over the side.  Frank sprang into the first,
throbbing with exultation as it pulled in.  The rosy dawn was just
creeping over the hill-tops, the mist was dispersing, and he could now
clearly see the khaki figures swarming like cats up the shrub-covered
almost perpendicular face of the cliffs.

The boat touched shoal water.  Frank leapt overboard with its company,
and rushed up the beach, strewn with prostrate forms and discarded
packs.  Just as he reached the first trench, from which the Turks had
been hurled at the point of the bayonet, the man beside him reeled,
gasped, and fell against him.  Frank laid him gently down; then, losing
all sense of his non-combatant capacity, he seized the man’s rifle and
bandolier and sprinted after the others.

For a few moments he ran forward in a blind confusion of the senses.
The yellow sandstone crumbled beneath his feet: in front was what
appeared to be a green wall streaked with yellow.  Bullets whistled
around.  Here and there men lay huddled in extraordinary attitudes on
the slope; now and then he caught sight of a figure clambering up.  On
he went, through shrubs that grew higher than his head, conscious only
of continuous flashes, until suddenly he came face to face with a dark
figure that seemed to have sprung up out of the earth. Instinctively he
thrust forward his rifle with a fierce lunge, and the next thing he knew
was that the Turk had sunk down before him, and that he was leaping into
a trench.

Close to his right he heard the murderous rattle of a machine gun.  He
stumbled along the trench for a few yards, shouting he knew not what,
tripped over a man prone in the bottom of the trench, and before he
could pick himself up was kicked and trodden by a number of Australians
who had followed him.  Struggling to his feet, he hurried on, to find
himself in a furious mêlée about the emplacement of the machine gun.
Two of the Australians were down, a third was at deadly grips with three
big bearded Turks.  Frank rushed at the nearest of them, and disposed of
him with his bayonet. At the same moment the second fell to the bayonet
of the Australian, and the third turned, scrambled out of the trench,
and plunging into the scrub disappeared up the hill.

"Got the gun, sir," cried the Australian with a happy grin.

Frank, gasping, trembling, leant against the side of the trench.

"Take it down," he replied.

Another boat’s load of men came rushing along the trench.  There was no
officer among them.  Gathering himself together, Frank put himself at
their head, and leapt up the hill, in pursuit of the Turks who had been
driven from the trench.  The ground was broken by ridges, gullies, and
sand-pits, and the scrub grew so thickly that they could scarcely see a
yard in front of them. To keep a regular alignment was impossible. The
men separated, each forcing his own way.  None of them had yet so much
as charged their magazines.  The work had all been done with the cold
steel.  Here one plunged his bayonet into the back of a fleeing Turk:
there another shouted with delight as he discovered that a swaying bush
was really a sniper who had tied branches about his body for
concealment.  As they mounted, friend and foe became hopelessly
intermingled.  Frank caught sight occasionally of a knot of Turks, then
of a group of Australians; next moment nothing was to be seen but scrub
and creeper intermingled with bright flowers of varied hue as in a rock
garden.  Foot by foot he climbed up until presently he found himself at
the crest of the hill, and saw the Australians busy with their trenching
tools amid a furious rifle fire from the Turks in their main position.
His eye marked a steep gully which formed an almost perfect natural
trench.  Shouting to the men nearest him, he was joined by a score or
so, who leapt into the gully beside him.  And as the sun rose over the
hills on that Sunday morning, Frank, without being aware of it, was
within a few hundred yards of his old hiding-place, the sepulchre on
Sari Bair.



                              CHAPTER XIX

                             A TIGHT CORNER


Meanwhile, on the beach below, the work of disembarking men and guns and
stores was proceeding steadily, still under fire, though not so
concentrated and so deadly as it was before the first trenches were
rushed.  Engineers were already cutting paths upward through the scrub
on which supplies were being hurried to the top. Ambulance men were
carrying wounded on stretchers down the steep face of the cliff. The
guns of the fleet were searching for the Turkish positions on the
summit, and seaplanes were circling overhead to discover the positions
of the batteries which were enfilading the ridges and the beach with
shrapnel.

Now that the excitement of the first rush had subsided, Frank felt
himself in a difficulty.  He was fortuitously in command of nearly a
half platoon of men: what was he to do with them?  He knew nothing of
his position relative to the rest of the force which had established
itself on the hill. The din of rifle and machine-gun fire was
increasing; it seemed clear that the Turks were rallying for a counter
attack.  Snipers’ bullets incessantly whistled overhead.  After a few
minutes he felt sure that the head of the gully above was occupied by a
strong force of the enemy, and he anxiously considered whether he ought
to try to hold on, or to retire down the gully until he came in touch
with some one from whom he could take orders.  In the meantime he had
instructed the men to charge their magazines, to keep their heads down,
and to maintain a careful look-out.  Never had he felt so glad of the
long field-days he had spent as a sergeant in his school corps.

While he was still in doubt, a second lieutenant came up the gully.  In
the dirty, dishevelled, tattered figure he hardly recognised the Jack
Tomlinson who had tried to pose him in Turkish.

"You headstrong jackass!" cried Tomlinson genially.  "Do you know that
you’ve got at least five hundred yards ahead of the rest?  Looking for
Turks not made to be loved, but to be bayoneted, I suppose."

"No cackle!  What are we to do?"

"I came to withdraw you, and have had a narrow squeak half a dozen times
on the way.  The ground between you and our first line, where we’ve got
two or three thousand men strung out anyhow, is frightfully exposed, and
the Turks are in strength above.  There are no end of snipers concealed
in the scrub on each side, and the bottom of the gully is enfiladed; as
I tell you, I had the narrowest squeak in getting here."

"We must hold on then?"

"Or risk being heavily cut up.  I think we had better stay, though for
the life of me I don’t see how we can stick it if the Turks locate us.
Anyway, I hope it won’t be for long.  The fellows have chucked away
their packs, I see; that means no grub, and there’s no water.  I’m
frightfully dry, but I don’t care to take a pull at my water-bottle yet.
Every drop may be needed by and by."

"Well, we couldn’t have struck a better place for a stand.  This gully’s
a better trench than we could have made in a hurry, bar sandbags.  Our
handful ought to be able to hold it against anything but artillery. And
we can improve it: we’d better start at once before the Turks spot us: I
believe they’re in pretty strong force above there."

"Righto.  Let’s have a look round."

The sides of the gully were covered with bushes and small trees.
Several of the men had retained their entrenching tools, and Frank set
them to lop branches, and others to pull up shrubs by the roots, which
the remainder began to weave into a sort of abattis extending across the
gully.  Before they had been engaged on the task more than a quarter of
an hour, the whiz of bullets directly down the gully informed them that
the Turks had discovered their position.  One or two men were hit, and
Frank told off a few to post themselves in the bushes and snipe in
return.  Their flanks were protected against an attack in force, on one
side by a stretch of fairly open ground commanded from the position of
the Australians below them, and on the other by the tangled vegetation
through which to advance seemed impossible.  It gave cover for
innumerable snipers, it is true; but it served also as a screen to the
occupants of the gully on a much lower level.  As an additional defence
against attack from up the gully Frank ordered some of the men to throw
up a rampart behind the abattis, a task which the soft nature of the
rock rendered comparatively easy.

But the traverse was only half finished when there came a warning shout
from a man above--

"Here they come!"

Round a bend in the gully some distance higher up a compact mass of
swarthy Turks surged down towards them.  At a word from Frank the men
dropped their tools and posted themselves behind the obstruction, taking
all the cover its unfinished state afforded, each man looking steadily
over his rifle sight.

"Wait for the word," said Frank at one end of the line.

The Turks rushed down impetuously, filling the whole width of the gully
and several ranks deep.  They did not fire, their intention evidently
being to overwhelm the little party in one headlong rush.  Frank waited
tensely until the first rank was within about a hundred yards; then he
called out:

"Now!  Rapid!"

A withering volley flashed from the rifles. Then the men, each for
himself, fired into the approaching mass as steadily as if practising at
the butts.  The first rank went down under the pitiless hail of lead,
but the rush was scarcely checked.  Carried on by their own impetus, the
Turks ran, jumped, reeled down the hundred yards of rough slope that
intervened between them and the abattis.  They could not stop, even if
they would, for the close ranks behind pressed relentlessly upon the
foremost.  Nor indeed did they show any disposition to shirk the issue.
They were Turks, and therefore brave; they were many, and the defenders
were few; and though the men at the head of the column fell in their
tracks, or survived only to reel forward a few yards and then collapse,
those behind sprang over the bodies of their fallen comrades, only to
fall themselves a pace or two further on. Their places were taken in
turn by others from the throng pressing behind, and the living stream
dashed against the abattis like waves upon a breakwater.  Shouting the
name of Allah, some tried to wrench the branches apart, others dug their
feet into the obstacle and began to clamber over. But their courage was
of no avail.  With a horde of the enemy within five or six feet of them
the Australians continued to fire calmly, methodically, relentlessly,
plying their bayonets upon those few who came within their reach.

[Illustration: THE FIGHT IN THE GULLY]

In two or three minutes from the time when the torrent first broke upon
the barrier the oncoming Turks had to meet a new and terrible obstacle
in the piled bodies of their comrades.  And when finally the survivors,
stricken with sudden panic, broke and fled back up the gully, it needed
all the authority of the two officers to prevent their men from bursting
out and chasing the shattered mob.  The Australian in action has only
one glorious failing: like a thoroughbred courser, when his blood is up
he is hard to hold.

Frank mopped his smoking brow.  His hand was shaking.  His rifle was
hot.

"You three men," he said, indicating those nearest him, "get over and
bring in the wounded.  The rest keep an eye up the gully."

"I’ve got some iodine ampoules," said Tomlinson.

"Good!  We must do what we can for the poor chaps.  I’m glad it’s over."

"Is it over?  Look there."

At the further end of the gully the Turks had already begun to collect
material for a breastwork similar to that against which they had just
spent themselves.  They kept out of sight, but masses of scrub and
branches of trees could be seen falling into the gully from the sides.

"We must snipe them," said Tomlinson--"fire into the bushes."

"Better save our ammunition," suggested Frank.  "We shall want it if
they attack again, and we can’t get any more.  They’ve learnt a lesson,
and will be warier now, and therefore more formidable.  We’ve all our
work cut out yet."

Thus at the one end the Turks went about their task unmolested, and at
the other the Australians were allowed to carry the wounded behind their
rampart without interference.  Such of the men as had field dressings
employed them ungrudgingly on their wounded prisoners.  But hardly had
the last man who could be moved been brought over when the Turks above
commenced a steady fire from behind their barricade.

"Keep low, men," cried Frank.  "Poke your rifles through the bushes near
the bottom, and loose a shot every now and then."

It soon became clear that the sharpshooting from the barricade was
intended to distract the Australians while an attempt was made to
outflank them through the scrub on the banks of the gully.  Though the
Turks moved stealthily, and on the left bank had almost perfect cover, a
sudden stirring of the bushes caught Tomlinson’s eye, and he guessed
what it meant.  The party was all too small to meet an attack on three
fronts; for presently figures were seen darting across the more open
ground on the right in twos and threes, risking observation from the
larger force of Australians that was entrenched farther down the hill.
Fighting was general all over the position, and even if the plight of
the small band in the gully had been known to their comrades below,
there was little or no chance of their being reinforced.  All that the
young officers could do was to tell off as many of their men as could be
spared from the barricade to line the banks of the gully, and do their
best to daunt the enemy by the accuracy of their fire.

It was a position to test the nerve and resolution of a veteran, much
more of soldiers making their first essay in warfare. Nothing in the
experience of the Great War has been more remarkable than the
extraordinary efficiency shown by the younger officers--men who a few
months before were boys at school, with no more expectation of serving
their country in arms than of undertaking any other unimagined form of
activity.  They have shown quickness of perception, promptness in
decision, the courage and tenacity which every Briton glories in as his
birthright, and a cheerfulness in the most adverse and depressing
circumstances, which is not improvised, but grows out of health and
disciplined freedom. When the full story of this world-struggle comes to
be written, it will be found that a large proportion of the honours
which history will award will fall to the boys.

Through the heat of the day, and on till the evening mist crept across
the hills, Frank and his Australian comrades maintained the unequal
fight.  In the struggle at the barricade they had received only a few
slight wounds; but as the day wore on the effective strength of the
little band ebbed away.  Parched with thirst, ruefully regretful of the
emergency rations in the packs so lightly discarded on the beach below,
they had more than the persistent sniping of the enemy to contend with.
They rarely caught sight of the Turks, but every now and then one would
fall to a bullet from some unseen rifle in the scrub. Exasperated by
this furtive mode of attack, the men asked to be allowed to charge the
enemy, and growled in the free-spoken manner of Australians when their
entreaty was refused.  At one time Tomlinson suggested that they should
make an attempt to fall back upon the larger forces below, in spite of
its risks: but Frank replied quietly:

"We don’t know how important every yard may prove to be.  I think we had
better hold on, Tommy.  Perhaps the fellows below will make another rush
upward by and by."

But darkness fell: the din of fighting had not diminished; but none had
come to their relief.  Tomlinson renewed his proposal; but to the other
dangers would be added the risk of losing their way in this unknown
wilderness, and he agreed ultimately with Frank that they had better
hold their ground.

The men tried to relieve their thirst by sucking the dew from their
coats and shirts. The day had been a long torture, but all confessed
that the night hours were worse. In the daylight they could see their
enemy if they threatened an attack; in the darkness they had to trust to
their ears alone. The Turks, knowing how small their numbers were, would
probably be tempted to rush them, and the strain of guarding against
surprise told very heavily upon their nerves.

About four hours after dark, Frank’s suspicion that some such move was
intended was aroused, first by the slackening of the sniping fire, then
by sounds of movement on all sides.  Frank had posted himself at the
upper end of his little force, by the barricade: Tomlinson at the lower.
From this end Frank suddenly heard murmurs of conversation, in tones
which, though low, had a note of excitement.  In a few moments a man
came to him up the gully.

"I’m Sergeant Jukes, sir," he said--"crept up the gully from below.
Some one told the major about you up here, and he sent me to say, hold
on as long as you can. They’re getting ready to advance down there."

"That’s good news!  Tell the major we’ll stick it to the last."

"I’m to stay with you, sir."

"Good!  The major doesn’t know who we are, of course."

"No, sir.  We heard firing, and he thought perhaps some of our chaps had
been cut off and hadn’t got an officer with them, so he sent me to take
charge in that case, but to stay anyhow."

"We’re glad of your help--only wish there were forty of you.  Just go
down a few paces and keep your ears open.  I’m pretty sure the Turks are
going to try a rush."

The minutes passed very slowly.  It was clear that the enemy, leaving
nothing to chance, were making their dispositions with deliberate
thoroughness.  Officers and men waited in a tenseness that was painful.
Would the blow from above fall before the promised movement from below?
Frank dared not diminish his force by sending out a listening patrol.
He would need every man if the attack came, and it would be so easy to
lose one’s way in the scrub.  But in the darkness every man’s hearing
seemed preternaturally sharpened, and they fingered their rifles
restlessly as they heard more and more sounds of the forces gathering
about them.

Suddenly there was a whistle on the right, followed by an answering
whistle on the left.  Guided by the sounds the defenders opened fire.
There was no reply.  The enemy were no doubt feeling their way forward,
in the hope of getting near enough to sweep the position in one
overwhelming rush.  From the directions in which the whistles had come,
Frank guessed that an attack was to be made simultaneously on two sides.
There was another whistle, nearer at hand and unmistakably at the side;
the answer came from below.  An idea flashed into his mind which he
instantly put into execution.

When, a few moments later, the Turks swarmed down both sides of the
gully some distance below the barricade, they intended to force the
defenders back upon that useless defence, expecting to have them then at
their mercy.  But when they met, in the darkness and confusion some of
them threw themselves upon their own friends before they discovered that
the men they had come to attack had disappeared.  In that brief interval
before the rush, Frank, divining their purpose, had swiftly withdrawn
all his men to the barricade, and at the moment when the Turks poured
down the sides of the gully, the defenders were all posted above the
barricade, facing towards them.  As the Turks, yelling and cursing,
surged upwards they were met by a withering fire, which swept down the
gully into their confused and closely packed ranks.  Trapped,
bewildered, they hesitated; then they in turn opened fire.

But at this moment there was a ringing cheer from below, repeated in
ever-increasing volume as a full company of Australians charged up the
gully.  They could not be seen; not a rifle flash revealed their
position; they meant to do their work with the cold steel.  The Turks,
swept by the hail of lead from above, ignorant of the number of the
enemy pouring upon their rear, began in terror to scramble up the sides
of the gully, and broke away into the scrub on either side.

A hoarse shout rose from the parched throats of the men above the
barricade. It warned their comrades of their position. And now came the
moment that rewarded the little band for all the stress and labour of
the day.  Exhausted though they were, they sprang up the banks of the
gully, and side by side with the new arrivals, deaf to the commands of
Frank and Tomlinson, they plunged into the scrub after the fleeing
Turks.  A series of peremptory blasts from a whistle brought this
impetuous movement to a stop.  The men returned, disappointed but happy,
to the gully, and the newcomers were ordered to line the banks with a
protective parapet.

Then an electric torch was seen moving among the men, and a clear
authoritative voice was heard.

"Where is the officer who organized this position?"

Thoroughly worn out, Frank was sitting at the foot of the bank, holding
his head in his hands, hardly conscious of what was passing around him.
He looked up as the light flashed upon him.

"This is he, eh?" a voice said.  "Your name, sir."

He saw two keen eyes fixed upon him, and stood up, mechanically
saluting.

"My name?"  He appeared to consider for a moment.  "Yes, I know: Frank
Forester."

"Regiment?"

"I don’t know; I don’t believe I have one.  No, sir, of course; I’m
attached as interpreter."

"Indeed!  You’ve a queer way of interpreting your duties.  How long have
you held this gully?"

"Since early morning, sir."

"With what force?"

"We had something over twenty to start with: there aren’t so many now."

"Less than a platoon!  By George, Mr. Forester, it’s an uncommonly fine
performance: are you aware of that?  I’ll send your name up to the
General."

"There’s Tomlinson, sir."

"I’ll look after Tomlinson."

"The men were splendid."

"I haven’t a doubt of it....  Why, bless my soul! water there, some
one."

Frank had collapsed in his arms.



                               CHAPTER XX

                                FISHING


With the morning light the men were set to consolidate the position.
Frank’s barricade was strengthened; the gully was parapeted and wired;
everything possible was done to improve the defensive capacity of the
natural trench which marked the summit of the Australian advance, and
which its occupants were to hold for a month without being able to push
farther.

On the day after the fight, Frank was sent down to the beach by the
major to report himself to the colonel, who at once employed him in his
proper duties of interpreting for the Turkish prisoners.

"You’d rather be doing something else, I dare say, after that brilliant
little defence of yours," said the colonel; "but interpreters are
scarce, and you can’t be spared."

During the next few days Frank learnt by degrees many details of the
wonderful feat accomplished by the allied army.  In the first place he
discovered that the landing-place of the Australians, a little north of
Gaba Tepe, was almost immediately below his old haunt on Sari Bair, and
the guns he had heard firing above during that unforgettable day were
evidently the battery which he had seen hauled up the hill.  He heard
too how at Beach Y, to the south, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and
part of the Naval Division had gained the top of the cliffs with ease,
covered by the guns of three cruisers in the bay; and how, still farther
southward, the Royal Fusiliers, landing from the _Implacable_, had made
good their footing without a single casualty. On the broader sands at
Beach W the Lancashire Fusiliers had at first failed against the wire
entanglements almost at the water’s edge, and the innumerable snipers
and machine guns concealed in the hollow between the cliffs.  At Beach
V, the Dublin Fusiliers, almost annihilated as they attempted to force
three lines of wire and a labyrinth of trenches, had taken cover under a
high sandbank that stretched along the shore, where they were joined by
such of the Munster Fusiliers and the Hampshires as survived the
terrible fire which burst on them when they rowed in from the collier in
whose side a door had been cut for their exit.  At Beach S the South
Wales Borderers had scaled the cliffs without much difficulty; and the
French had successfully effected their diversion on the opposite shore
of the channel at Kum Kale.

These were the doings of the memorable Sunday.  On Monday the
Australians, supported by the guns of the fleet, withstood a violent
counter-attack that lasted two hours, and finally drove off the Turks at
the point of the bayonet.  Elsewhere along the shore, except at Beach Y,
which had been abandoned, the invaders held their own, and during the
following days the work of consolidation made rapid progress. The
sappers threw out piers on which stores and ammunition were unloaded
from lighters under incessant shrapnel fire.  Engineers cut roads up the
cliffs to facilitate the transport and the passage of the ambulance
parties that were continually going up and down.  The wounded were
conveyed to the ships as rapidly as possible.  Day and night the work
went on, amid the deafening roar of big guns and the unceasing rain of
bullets.

During the month of May little further progress was made.  The way was
blocked by the hill of Achi Baba, crowned by a strong redoubt, and
seamed with trenches extending on all sides in terraces one above
another. Against these strong fortifications no general advance was
possible.

Meanwhile German submarines had commenced their activity in the
Dardanelles and the Ægean Sea.  They failed to interfere with the
supplies for the army, but they torpedoed three large warships, the
_Goliath_, the _Triumph_, and the _Majestic_, and put a temporary check
on the close co-operation of the fleet.  Their successes were in some
measure balanced by the feats of British submarines, which ran the
blockade of mines, penetrated as far as Constantinople, and sent several
Turkish transports to the bottom.

One evening, just after the _Majestic_ had been sunk, Frank was smoking
an after-dinner cigarette with his colonel outside the mess-tent.  The
conversation turning on submarines, Frank mentioned the incident of the
broken case on the quay at Panderma, when he had noticed the periscope
of a submarine disclosed by the breach.  He did not dwell upon it, and
the colonel only remarked that the activity of the German submarines had
evidently been long premeditated.

Two mornings later, Frank was summoned to the colonel, with whom he
found a naval captain.

"Good morning, Forester," said the colonel.  "I have been telling my
friend Captain Roberts some of your queer experiences before you settled
down as a humdrum interpreter.  He is rather interested."

"I am indeed," said the captain.  "After what you have gone through,
interpreting must be dull work--duller than mine, for it’s not very
exciting to fire at long range without much chance of getting one back."

"It’s not very exhilarating, certainly," replied Frank.  "The prisoners
haven’t much to tell.  They don’t like their German officers, and
haven’t an idea what they are fighting for.  Fighting is their job, and
_Kismet_ covers it all....  You haven’t been hit from Sari Bair, then?"

"No, though their shells drop pretty close sometimes.  Our sea-planes
haven’t managed to locate that battery.  I understand you didn’t
actually see the guns emplaced."

"No, after I toppled one over I made off.  You see, things were getting
pretty hot just then."

"Naturally.  Well, you seem to have been able to take good care of
yourself in very ticklish situations; but perhaps after all your present
work is a relief after so much excitement.  A man can have his fill of
adventures, I suppose."

"I confess things weren’t altogether pleasant, sometimes, though they
had their bright side."

Frank smiled at his recollections of the major of artillery whose
clothes he had commandeered, and of the boastful Abdi gurgling in the
sea.  At the same time, struck by a peculiar intentness in the captain’s
manner, he asked himself, "What is he driving at, I wonder?"

"Yes, of course there are two sides to everything," the captain went on.
"Sometimes the bright side is eclipsed by the dark--according to the
state of one’s liver, perhaps.  Your liver doesn’t trouble you much, I
fancy."

Frank looked at the broad, jolly face smiling enigmatically at him.

"Is there anything you wish me to do?" he asked bluntly but
respectfully.

The two elder officers exchanged a glance.

"Well, since you put it like that--yes, there is," said the captain.
"But it’s a matter entirely for yourself.  If you feel any hesitation,
we shan’t think any less of you if you don’t entertain the idea.  I may
as well say at once it’s a dangerous job, not at all in the ordinary
risk of warfare; but the colonel had told me of your work on the cliff
yonder, and for a mere interpreter, you know, you appear rather to
relish risks that are not quite ordinary."

"You don’t think much of risks when you’ve got anything going," said
Frank. "Anyhow, if I can be of use--what’s the nature of the job?"

"It’s just as I expected," interposed the colonel, rising.  "I’ll leave
you two to talk it over.  Come and tell me what you arrange, Forester.
You’ll find me somewhere in the neighbourhood."

Next morning Frank’s absence evoked enquiries among the junior officers.
The colonel was appealed to.

"Forester?  Oh, he’s off for a few days on special service."

"Interpreting, sir?" asked one.

"He’ll have opportunities of airing his Turkish," said the colonel.

His manner discouraged further questioning. The others saw that he meant
to say no more.  One of them, however, presently asked whether Forester
was likely to be away long.

"I can’t say."  He tugged his moustache reflectively.  "Our little job
here is not exactly a soft one, but I wouldn’t be in Forester’s boots
just now for a peerage."



                              CHAPTER XXI

                            IN A RING FENCE


A Greek fishing vessel was beating up against a gentle easterly wind
into the Gulf of Adramyti.  Its course suggested that it had sailed from
the island of Mitylene.  In the distance, beyond the head of the gulf,
Mount Ida glowed in the rays of the setting sun, and the shade was
deepening on the wooded hills of the Asiatic shore.

It was a peaceful, beautiful scene.  But if the eyes of any on board the
vessel were turned westward, they fell upon an image of war.  Far off on
the horizon a long low shape lay darkly silhouetted against the orange
sky.  With a glass, perhaps without, it might have been recognised as a
destroyer.

The crew of the vessel were busy with their nets.  Their catches were
not very great, yet they showed no disappointment, such as might have
been expected in men whose living depended on their takes.  Some of
them, indeed, showed an almost boyish interest and curiosity in the
contents of the nets when they were hauled up.  One might have thought
that they were out for a night’s fishing for the first time in their
lives.  And the remarks that fell from their lips were not those that
one would expect to hear in a Greek vessel, or from native-born
fishermen.

"That’s a plumper," said one.

"My aunt! don’t you know a dogfish when you see it?"

"Is that a dogfish?  All I know about ’em is that they make you
squeamish. Fact!  My cousin told me: a chap always running some craze or
other.  Once it was science: thought he’d like to be a B.Sc. Biology was
in it.  He bought a microscope and a swagger set of dissecting
instruments: they have to cut up all sorts of strange beasts, you know.
First came a frog."

"Ugh!  Slimy!" muttered one of his companions.

"Well, he liked it: fact!  Said it was a beautiful little creature
inside.  Then came a mussel: he had no end of a job finding its nervous
system or whatever it was.  Then was the turn of the dogfish.  I don’t
know whether this fish had been too long away from home, or whether it’s
naturally offensive, like the skunk: but whatever it was, my cousin told
me that when he put in the scalpel--well, he ran out of the room and
decided to go in for philosophy instead."

The speakers, though clad in nondescript garments that might have been
taken, at a distance, for Greek, were obviously Englishmen.  Four of
their companions in the boat were of the same nationality, and anyone
who had ever spent a few days in a British naval port would have
declared, with the first glance at their keen bronzed faces, that they
were British seamen in disguise.  The remaining five men in the vessel
were as obviously genuine Greeks; but a trained ear would have
recognised their speech as the Greek of Cyprus rather than Mitylene.

The fishing, or shall we say the pretence of fishing, was kept up until
it was almost dark.

"Time to be off, old chap," said the man who had recoiled at the mention
of a frog.

"Yes, I suppose so," said the other without much enthusiasm.  He took
off his outer garments, and replaced them by the loose European costume
which is affected by the modern Greek merchant--wide trousers, a jacket
that looks as though it were never meant to be buttoned, a shapeless
soft hat, and the inevitable touch of colour in a blue cummerbund.
Finally he stuck upon his upper lip a long, soft, black moustache.

"By George, you look a regular Levantine--not to say levanter," cried
his companion. "In that get-up you could persuade any simple Turk that
chalk’s cheese.  The moustache is a master-stroke: wonderful how it
transforms a fellow.  I’d like to know the reason why army chaps are
encouraged to cultivate ’em, whereas they’re strictly forbidden in the
King’s navy."

He continued talking, apparently with the idea of keeping up his own and
his companion’s spirits.  Meanwhile the vessel, which had put about just
before darkness fell, as if to run back to Mitylene, once more beat up
the gulf, edging gradually into Turkish waters.  In about an hour it had
arrived, according to the calculation of the Greek skipper, within about
two miles of the coast.  Under the starlit sky the hills loomed black in
the distance.

The vessel was thrown into the wind. Orders were given in a whisper.  A
small dinghy towing astern was drawn up alongside.  One of the Greeks
stepped into it, and tied some bundles of matting to its stern, letting
them float on the water at the end of the rope.  Then Frank and the
naval officer got in, two of the British sailors followed them, and the
boat was rowed with well-muffled oars silently shoreward.

When it was within a few cables’ length of the shore the rowers ceased
pulling, and all the occupants of the boat stretched their ears to catch
any sounds that might indicate the presence of persons on the beach.
They heard nothing but the slight ripple of the almost tideless Ægean
breaking on the sand.

"Pull in," murmured the lieutenant-commander.

A few silent strokes brought the boat to the beach.  Trees stretched
down almost to the water’s brink.  All was dark and tranquil.  A seaman
stepped overboard upon the wet sand and stood with his back towards the
boat.  Frank rose.

"Good luck, old man," said the naval officer, gripping his hand hard.

Frank mounted the seaman’s back, and was carried a few yards to the dry
sand. Meanwhile the other seaman had cut the matting loose, and placed
it carelessly on the beach just above the waterline, as if it had been
cast up there by the sea.  Frank waved a farewell, plunged into the
forest, and disappeared.  After a short interval the boat was pulled out
to sea, and its occupants boarded the fishing vessel, anchored where
they had left it.

Frank found himself among trees growing thickly together, on ground that
sloped steeply from the beach.  There was little undergrowth to impede
his progress. Consulting a luminous compass, he directed his course
almost due northward, expecting in a short time to reach the road that
ran parallel with the coast and at a short distance from it, from
Alexander Troas to Edremit.  The slope soon gave place to more level
ground, and the forest belt presently ended abruptly at the edge of
cultivated land.  Frank crossed the fields, and in about forty minutes
after he left the beach he struck into the road.

It was a bright starlit night, without moon.  The road was deserted.  In
accordance with the plan made after close consultation of the map with
his friend the lieutenant-commander, he turned to the right, and stole
cautiously along the road, stopping at every few yards to listen.
Everything was quiet, and there was neither light nor sound from the few
farm buildings which he passed at intervals.

After walking about a mile he heard footsteps.  At first he thought they
were merely echoes of his own, but he took the precaution to step aside
into the shadow of a clump of trees, and soon afterwards saw a figure
approaching along the road. Before being discovered himself he wished to
learn what kind of person he had to do with.  The indistinct figure
presently resolved itself into the bent form of an old peasant, whom he
thought he might safely question.  Stepping out into the road, he went
on, and was not seen by the peasant, who was apparently very tired and
walked with head downbent, until he had almost reached him.

Giving him the usual salutation, Frank stopped.

"Where is the nearest khan?" he asked.

"About an hour’s walk along the road," replied the man, looking
curiously at him.

"Who is the khanji?"

"Hussan, the son of Ibrahim."

"Is it a good khan?  I shall be glad to get there.  I have had a long
walk.  My horse fell lame: I could not get another: they are all taken
for the army."

"It is a good khan.  Hussan is a good man.  You will rest well."

More salutations were exchanged, and each went on his way.

In less than an hour Frank arrived at a building in which lights were
burning. He knocked at the door, and called for Hussan the son of
Ibrahim.  A voice from within asked who he was and what was his
business.

"A merchant of Corinth, O khanji, compelled to go on foot by the loss of
his horse.  I am weary and desire to rest, and it has been told me along
the road how excellent is this khan, and how princely the hospitality of
the khanji."

"Great is Truth," said the khanji, opening the door.  "Here, if you are
a respectable man and can pay, you shall find good food and a couch to
yourself, since I have but few guests to-night."

The innkeeper, a middle-aged man of Arab type, stood in the doorway to
inspect his guest before admitting him.

"Whither are you bound, stranger?" he asked.

"For Edremit, khanji.  I have business with the army: what it is I
cannot say: you understand that?"

The khanji looked knowing.

"I am deaf and blind if need be," he said.  "You will want a horse.  I
think I can find one for you--if you can pay."

"Surely I will pay well."

"Enter, then, O honoured guest.  I will set before you what is left of a
prime chicken, and after, cakes and honey, and whatsoever this khan will
afford."

Frank went in.  The single guest-chamber, a large apartment, was lit by
a couple of saucer-lamps.  Three men of the carrier type were eating
their supper.  The host laid rugs on a sleeping board at one end of the
room for Frank, and called to his servant to bring the stranger a bowl
of stew.

"What news of the war?" he asked.

"There is little fresh," replied Frank. "The Russians get no further,
and the English are beating their heads against the rocks in Gallipoli.
Your countrymen the Turks----"

"Not so: I am an Arab," interrupted the khanji.  "My fathers ruled this
country before the Turks were heard of."

"True.  Perhaps it will be ruled again by men of your race: who can
tell?  But the Turks are stronger since the Almans have come among them.
There are many Almans in Stamboul.  You have not seen any on this side
of the water?"

"I have not; but it is said that there are Almans along the coast.  What
they do here I know not, for they are not fighting men.  It is told that
they are holy men, who keep themselves very strictly apart. The Almans,
it is said, are becoming true sons of the faithful."

"I know something of them," said one of the guests.  "I have taken goods
to them from Edremit--wheaten flour from Tafid the corn factor.  Truly
the ways of the Franks are past understanding, and the chief of these
Almans is the maddest of all.  He is a hermit; yet big and fierce, and
not lean and weak like our own holy men.  With him there are certain
others of less degree, who do what he bids them. His dwelling is on the
shore of the gulf, and the ground around it is enclosed by a fence of
wire with many sharp spikes.  In the fence there is but one gate, and
none is allowed to enter except those bringing stores. I myself, when I
take the flour, have to leave it at an inner fence far from the house,
and there it is received by the holy man’s servants.  That he is a true
son of Islam is sure, for the Governor protects him, and posts soldiers
at his gate to defend him from harm."

"Mashallah!  These Almans are different from us," said another man.
"Our holy men eat pulse, and so little that their bodies are but
shadows.  But these strangers have large bodies, and surely in appetite
they are as elephants, for I have carried to them the flesh of oxen and
sheep sufficient for fifty men that have no claim to holiness."

"And now, stranger, give me your name, your business, and the number of
your years," said the khanji.  "I ask pardon for what seems
impertinence, but I am bidden to send every day to the Bey at Chatme a
list of my guests.  It is a grievous task and costs much time and the
loss of my servants’ labour, but the command of the Bey must be done."

Frank invented the necessary particulars, which the innkeeper
laboriously wrote down in Arabic characters.

"You will send that to Chatme to-morrow, khanji?" he asked.

"Truly: it is too late to-night."

"As I am going that way I will save your servant’s time.  Let me be your
messenger."

The khanji looked surprised at this offer: but he was quite ready to
accept it and save himself trouble.

Frank was well satisfied with what he had learnt, and went to sleep with
an easy mind.

Very early next morning he accompanied the khanji to his stables, where
he found an old broken-kneed horse for which he haggled in the oriental
manner, ultimately paying for it a good deal more than it was worth.  On
a shelf he saw a tool of the nature of a trowel, which he slipped into
his pocket when the khanji’s back was turned. "It may come in handy," he
thought, "and the old rascal is more than paid for it by what he has
robbed me of over the horse."

Thanking his host for his hospitality, Frank mounted and pushed along
the road as fast as his sorry nag could go.  At this early hour he met
no travellers, and saw nobody but the labourers trudging to their work
in the fields.  After riding about nine miles, as nearly as he could
guess, he turned off into a side track leading towards the coast.  The
country all around was densely wooded, and from marks on the track he
judged that it was used for dragging timber. Now and then he heard the
ring of axes in the woods.  At places the track drew near to the edge of
the cliff overlooking the sea.  Here he struck off inland, making his
way as best he could among the trees. Once he caught sight of a man far
away on the cliff, looking out to sea.  It appeared that the coast was
watched.

At last, after what seemed to be hours of slow progress, diversified by
stumbles and falls of his miserable steed, he came suddenly to the
barbed wire fence of which he had heard at the inn.  He saw at a glance
that it was not designed to keep people out if they were determined to
get in.  Like the notice, "Trespassers will be prosecuted," in fields
and woods at home, it was intended to scare intruders away. Frank
dismounted, led his horse into a thicket out of sight from the fence,
hitched the bridle to a tree and gave the animal some food.  Then he
returned to the fence, took the bearings of the thicket, and prepared to
get over.  This he achieved by climbing on the successive strands of the
wire as on the rungs of a ladder, steadying himself by means of one of
the posts to which the wire was attached.  One of the barbs tore a rent
in his baggy trousers, but this was his only mishap.  He was within the
enclosure of the mysterious hermitage.

He looked about him.  There were many trees, though they were not so
crowded as in the woods he had just left.  No house was in sight.  He
had gathered from the carrier’s talk that the enclosure was of large
extent: exactly how large he did not know, and it was necessary to go
warily, to avoid coming too suddenly upon the house. He flitted from
tree to tree with the caution of a scout who knows that an enemy is in
front of him.

Presently he came to a stream too wide to leap: he crossed it by wading,
the water coming halfway up to his knees.  The current was swift, and a
little to his left he heard a continuous rustle, like the sound of a
waterfall.  No doubt the stream fell over the cliff into the sea.  He
went on, and arrived at a rough track parallel with the stream.
Carefully scanning the surroundings, he saw, down the track to his
right, a second wire fence, with a gate where it crossed the path.  He
retraced his steps for some little distance, in order to approach the
fence at a spot remote from the gate.

When he reached it, he found that it differed from the outer fence.  It
was constructed, not of barbed wire, but of plain iron wire about as
thick as that used for telegraph lines.  There would be no difficulty in
creeping through.  It seemed strange that the inner defences of this
hermit’s settlement should be so much less formidable even than the
paltry obstruction he had recently crossed.  He examined it closely, and
noticed what appeared to be an insulator on one of the posts.  Perhaps
the fence was not so harmless as it looked.  Wetting a finger, he
lightly touched the wire for an instant.

"Lucky I wasn’t too impetuous," he thought.  "That’s a pretty strong
charge."

Faced by this unexpected obstacle, he withdrew among the trees to
consider what he should do.  The trowel which he had brought, with the
idea of cutting the wire if necessary, was useless against a wire
electrically charged.  Possibly, however, search might discover a weak
spot.  There was no sign of the inhabitants of the settlement.
Returning within sight of the fence, but keeping near to the trees so
that he might slip under cover in case of alarm, he prowled along, but
without reward until he reached the stream he had waded.  At this spot
it was crossed by the wire, attached to a post on each bank.  He saw at
once that by scooping away the soft earth at the foot of one of the
posts he could make a hole large enough to enable him to wriggle under
the bottom strand of wire.  The trowel was coming in handy after all.

In a few minutes he was safe on the other side.  Following the stream
towards the sea, he came presently to a clearing, and what he saw within
the clearing assured him in a flash that his journey had not been in
vain.



                              CHAPTER XXII

                              THE HOLY MEN


As he scanned the scene, Frank smiled at his thought of the wonderment
of the khanji and his humble guests could they but see the habitat of
the mysterious "holy men."  They, no doubt, had imagined a cave in the
cliff, or at best a stone grot, with nothing to suggest modern
civilization. What he actually saw had no semblance of luxury, indeed;
but it was far from the austerities of the anchorites of old.

On the left of the clearing, as he looked towards the sea, was a small
wooden bungalow, with a verandah about three sides of it, pleasantly
shaded by trees.  Beyond it, at the edge of the wood, was a smaller hut,
also of wood.  To the right were three more huts, one considerably
larger than the others; and by the side of this last was a crane, worked
by a donkey engine.  Two men were moving about the place, hauling
packages from the large hut to the crane. Apparently they were to be let
down--to what destination below, Frank could not see.

"I am getting warm," he thought.

It was necessary to discover what lay beneath the crane, and Frank
glanced round to find some safe and convenient path by which he might
secretly approach it.  As he did so, he caught sight of a short pole on
the roof of the bungalow, from which a single telegraph wire passed over
the clearing to the left and disappeared into the wood.  Just below him,
skirting the clearing on the right, ran the stream with which he was
already acquainted.  It was possible, he thought, under cover of the
shrubs on the further bank, to gain a point where he might satisfy his
curiosity.  Cautiously making his way along, completely screened, he
came to a spot where the stream fell sheer to the level of the beach
between high cliffs, through which it cut a channel to the sea.
Immediately beneath the cliff on which the bungalow and the huts stood
there was a broad pool, bounded by a similar cliff on the opposite side.
And on this pool, just beneath the crane, lay a lighter.

Frank at once realised that the pool, like the buildings, was out of
sight from the sea.  If a ship were to pass the entrance of the channel,
those on board, seeing the waterfall, would at once know that the stream
was not navigable, and would probably not think it worth while to enter
the channel.  No one would suspect that within, indented in the cliffs
to the right, there was a small natural harbour, in which a vessel might
lie perfectly concealed.  Its depth Frank had no means of determining.
Immediately beneath him the water was churned into foam by the falling
stream.  But it was clearly deep enough to float a lighter, and it was
equally clear that the depth of the channel must be sufficient for its
passage in and out.

From his place of concealment Frank watched.  At the foot of the crane
there was now a pile of small packages.  From one of the huts came a
stout bearded man in grimy blue overalls.  He sidled into his seat at
the donkey engine, jerked the throttle, and addressed one of the
labourers. He spoke in Turkish, but in a harsh guttural voice that could
proceed from none but a German throat.  A moment later Frank heard
another voice from the direction of the bungalow, which was hidden from
him by the intervening huts.  He could not distinguish the words, but
immediately afterwards a German sailor came out of the hut on the
seaward side of the bungalow, saluted, and rolled off into the woods
crowning the cliff.  Before he had quite disappeared, Frank noticed a
second sailor climbing down the trunk of a tall tree, and lifting his
glass (the excellent article for which he was indebted to the major of
artillery with whom he had made certain exchanges in Gallipoli) he made
out a rope ladder swinging from a lofty branch.  The two sailors met at
the foot of the tree.  They exchanged a few words; then the newcomer
ascended the ladder, and the look-out he had relieved sauntered towards
the hut.

Realising that his hiding-place was commanded from the look-out post in
the tree, Frank slightly changed his position.

"I am getting warmer," he said to himself. Meanwhile the engine had
begun to puff. The crane extended its arm, and the chain rattled as one
of the men was let down into the lighter.  The packages were then
lowered one by one, and stowed on board.  When the last of them had been
placed, the man below caught hold of the chain, and the engine-man began
to lift him.  But the man’s feet were only a few feet above the vessel,
and the arm of the crane had just begun to swing round, when there came
an imperative call from the bungalow.

"Adolf!"

"Ja, Herr Major," shouted the engine-man.

He at once stopped the engine, and wiping his hands on a mass of waste,
hurried towards the bungalow, leaving the Turk swinging.  Frank smiled
at this illustration of German discipline, and was still more amused
when he noticed that the Turk, instead of dropping into the pool and
clambering on board the lighter as he might have done safely, clung on
to the hook at the end of the chain and dangled there, apparently too
frightened to call out in a tone loud enough to be heard by the martinet
in the bungalow.

Frank’s attention was withdrawn from the Turk by the same loud voice
bidding the engine-man hurry.

"That sounds uncommonly like Wonckhaus," he thought.  "Why, of course!
That’s not surprising.  He was with the party at Panderma when I caught
sight of that periscope.  But perhaps it isn’t he.  A lot of these
Germans have the same sort of voice.  I’d like to make sure."

After a careful look round he stole back along the bank of the stream
until he came opposite the wood in the rear of the clearing, crossed to
the other side, crept through the wood, darted across the road, then
turned to the right and in the course of a few minutes reached the trees
which had been left standing to shade the bungalow when the ground was
cleared.  Moving among them cautiously, he came to the rear of the
building.  It had evidently been run up hurriedly.  Piles of timber left
over from its construction were stacked close behind it.  After a little
hesitation Frank gained the shelter of one of these.  There were voices
at his right, where the verandah was closed at the end.  The planks
there, being of unseasoned wood, had started, leaving one or two gaping
cracks.  Frank looked through one of these into the verandah.  Two men
were lolling in deck chairs. Between them was a table on which there
were tumblers, bottles, and the remains of a meal.

The furthermost man, whose face was towards Frank, was clearly a Turkish
officer. He was smoking a cigarette.  The nearer figure, broader, more
massive, showed only his side face.  That belonged either to Wonckhaus
or to his double.  He was reclining at ease.  His right hand held a big
cigar.  Opposite him stood the engine-man.

"Get everything ready for to-night, then," Wonckhaus was saying.

"Jawohl, Herr Major."

At this moment shouts came from the direction of the pool.  Frank smiled
again: the suspended Turk had at last mustered the courage of despair.

"What is that horrible noise?" demanded Wonckhaus.

"It is probably the hamal," replied the engine-man.

"Why does he shout?  What is the matter with him?  Is he drowning?"

"No, Herr Major, he is hanging."

"Lieber Himmel!  What do you mean?"

"He is half way up.  I left him there when the Herr Major summoned me.
He is getting tired.  He will drop."

"Dummkopf!  Go and haul him up instantly.  He is a useful man."

Wonckhaus burst into loud laughter.

"It is amusing, very funny."

He took a long drink and resumed:

"There are occasions, lieutenant, when our admirable German discipline
recoils upon us.  But one cannot have it all ways.  Take a drink."

"Thank you, major, but I will not drink beer.  Some Turks take it with a
quiet conscience, but not I."

"Please yourself.  When we have been with you a little longer your
scruples will vanish.  There are lemons; help yourself. How you can
drink lemonade passes my understanding.  Lemons set my teeth on edge.
The scent of them makes me shudder."

The Turk was in the act of squeezing a lemon into a tumbler when a
telegraph instrument clicked.

"Take it, will you?" said Wonckhaus, indolently.

The Turk sprang up and went through a French window into the adjoining
room. The clicking continued for a while.  Presently he returned.

"Three torpedo boats, two believed to be British, one French, sighted
off Cape Baba," he said.

"Ah! our friends will scarcely get in to-night, then, unless they have
already slipped past."

"It will not be easy to see them in the darkness."

"These English have eyes everywhere. They see in the dark like a cat.
Yet perhaps with luck and, what is better, German watchfulness, all will
be well.  Hand me the telephone."

The Turk obeyed silently, but in a manner that suggested resentment at
the German’s peremptory tone.  Wonckhaus spoke into the instrument in
German.

"Keep a sharp look-out.  Torpedo boats are reported off the coast."

The lieutenant got up and moved towards the door.

"I shall turn in," called Wonckhaus after him.  "You had better do the
same.  We shall be up all night; probably to no purpose.  I am tired of
this.  It would suit one of Von Tirpitz’s men better than me."

He lay back in his chair, pulled at his cigar, and finding that it had
gone out, threw it away, rose, stretched himself, yawned, and walked
slowly into the bungalow.

Frank had heard and seen enough.  He knew what the "holy men" were
engaged in.  It only remained to return on his tracks and report his
discoveries to the lieutenant-commander, who would know how to act on
them.  Slipping back into the wood, he made his leisurely way to his
former observation post, where he sat down and ate some food he had
brought from the khan, in the slow abstracted manner of one deep in
thought.  Then he returned by the way he had come, found his horse in
the thicket, and rode southward, without hurry, for his friends would
not expect him until dark.

On approaching the road, he dismounted, again tied up his horse to a
tree, and threw himself on his back.  He was very tired, but dared not
indulge his longing for a nap, and when he found slumber stealing upon
him, he sprang up and strolled about in the woods.  The afternoon seemed
particularly long.  But he was prudent enough not to take to the open
road until the fall of night.  Then he rode rapidly, passed the khan,
turned his horse loose some distance from it, and struck off towards the
shore. It was a matter of some ten minutes’ walking before he came to
the matting, which now lay dry on the beach where it had been left.
There he sat, looking over the sea, and listening intently.  About an
hour later his ears caught the faint sound of muffled oars. He walked
down to the brink of the water, waited a few moments until assured that
he was not mistaken, then gave a low whistle.  The boat pulled in, and
Frank, too impatient to await its beaching, waded out towards it and
scrambled over the side.

"Well?" whispered the lieutenant-commander.

"O.K.  Now it’s up to you.  I’ll tell you all about it when we get clear
of the shore."



                             CHAPTER XXIII

                         CAPTURING A SUBMARINE


Nothing more was said until Frank and the naval officer were once more
aboard the fishing vessel.  Then, as the boat ran down the coast, Frank
related his experiences of the past two days.

"Holy men!" chuckled the lieutenant-commander. "It’ll be sacrilege,
then.  After this war I shall cruise about the world in search of a
German with a sense of humour. You say you know that fellow?"

"Yes, and I’ve a bone to pick with him. He nearly did me out of a
carpet."

"Oh!  How was that?"

Frank told as much as he cared to of the incident in Erzerum.  The naval
officer laughed.

"It was amusing, certainly, until the ruffian had me locked up," said
Frank.

And then, bit by bit, his companion drew from him the details upon which
he had kept silence.

"I wish we had a Ruhleben in England," growled the officer.  "Our
prisoners have too easy a time.  But this Wonckhaus shall have an
opportunity of cultivating holiness in an English prison, and I hope he
won’t like it."

Presently he went forward, and sent a few flashes seaward from a lantern
carefully screened from the shore.  There were answering flashes out at
sea.  In half an hour a destroyer loomed up out of the darkness.  The
lieutenant-commander went aboard with Frank and the seamen, and the
fishing vessel was made fast to a hawser from the stern.  There was a
brief conference on deck.

"That’s all right then," said the officer. "Now, my dear chap, you must
be dead tired. Tumble below.  I’ll wake you when I want you."

While Frank slept, the destroyer ran slowly up the gulf.  He awoke at a
touch.

"Sorry to disturb you so soon, but you must come up."

Frank rose sleepily and went on deck. The destroyer was moving dead
slow.

"We’re on a course parallel with the shore," said the officer.  "Just
keep your eye lifting over the port quarter, will you?"

Frank did as he was instructed.  In a minute or two he saw two dim
lights on shore, which vanished almost immediately.

"The question is, are they the lights of a farmhouse, or somewhere in
the channel?" said the officer.

"It’s late for a farmhouse."

"Exactly.  Wait a little.  Keep looking out."

The vessel stopped, then moved slowly backward.  The lights appeared
again.

"Now I’ll tell you my inference," the officer went on.  "From your
description of the place, lights in the bungalow or the huts could not
be seen from the sea.  But lights placed somewhere on the cliffs at the
end of the channel could be seen as we pass across the mouth, and only
then; a movement of a few yards forward or astern will shut them off.  I
take it, then, that the lights are in fact at the inner end of the
channel--and we know why."

"I haven’t any doubt of it," said Frank.

"Then go below and get into your own toggery.  You may then sleep
another hour or two."

About two hours after midnight Frank was again awakened.  With the
lieutenant-commander, a lieutenant, a warrant-officer, and two sturdy
seamen in addition to the boat’s crew, he got into the fishing vessel,
which cast off and stood in towards the shore.  The destroyer steamed
away out to sea.  The officers were armed with revolvers, the men with
rifles.

It was about two hours before dawn when the party landed from the dinghy
at the spot on the beach where the matting showed up darkly against the
sand.  Placing himself at the head, Frank led the way up through the
trees, the rest following about a yard apart.  They marched in perfect
silence; not a word was uttered.  Every now and then as they penetrated
the dark woodland Frank halted.  The officer next to him touched him on
the shoulder, the next touched him in turn, and so on along the line
until all were accounted for.  The necessity of caution made their
progress slow, and they took more than an hour to cover ground which
Frank alone had traversed in twenty minutes.  Then they stopped, and lay
down in the wood to await the dawn.

According to Frank’s calculation it was about seven miles from their
landing-place to the bungalow by the road, possibly a little shorter
distance along the cliffs.  But they would gain nothing in time by
taking the shorter way, owing to the denseness of the woodland.  To
proceed along the road would almost certainly be fatal, for unfrequented
though it was, no one could say that some member of the Turko-German
party, or some messenger from a distance, might not happen to pass on an
errand, and the sight of eight men in British uniform would give the
game away.  As soon as a glimmer of daylight filtered through the
foliage, therefore, Frank led them on as close to the shore as possible.
During their pause they had taken the opportunity to eat some bread and
cheese they had brought with them.

"There won’t be time for breakfast in the bungalow," murmured Frank with
a smile.

The way along the cliffs proved unexpectedly arduous, and it was past
midday when they arrived at the outer fence, at a spot not far distant
from where Frank had first encountered it.  Here the warrant officer
went forward, cut the wire in two places, and, when the party had passed
through, joined the severed ends in such a way that they could be
readily loosened, though only a close examination would discover what
had been done.  Once more Frank took the lead, following his scarcely
distinguishable track of two days before.  Leaving the rest of the party
among the trees, he went on alone until he reached the live fence, and
having enlarged the small excavation through which he had wriggled, he
crept to his hiding-place on the bank of the stream to observe what was
going on at the bungalow and the pool.

Things were apparently very much as when he left nearly twenty-four
hours before. There was one new feature in the scene.  A rough country
cart stood in front of one of the huts, and two Turks--one of them the
victim of German discipline--were unloading it and carrying the stores
into the hut.  No driver was visible, and Frank remembered that the
country people were not allowed to come within the fence.  At the gate,
then, must be at least one man on guard. A man crossed between the
bungalow and the adjacent hut: probably he was cook and servant to the
officers.  The engine-man sat on an upturned tub, smoking, and
exercising his German wit on the labouring Turks.  A look-out was
perched on his platform in the tree, peering through a telescope.  No
doubt the officers were in the bungalow, possibly sleeping after a
wakeful night.  The whole party appeared to consist of eight men--a
small force considering the importance of their duties; but Frank
reflected that a larger force would have endangered the precious secret
they were guarding.

To him, of course, it was a secret no longer.  This secluded pool had
been chosen, with admirable judgment, as the base of one of the German
submarines which had lately been mischievous in the Ægean.  It was
probably the very submarine whose periscope he had caught a rapid
glimpse of at Panderma.  Wonckhaus had been put in charge of the base,
no doubt because the injury to his leg had temporarily unfitted him for
the heavy work required of the German infantry officer.  He had expected
the vessel to run in on the previous night, until the telegraph wire
brought news that enemy torpedo boats were watching in the gulf.  That
it had not arrived was clear at a glance.  The only vessel in the pool
was the lighter, and Frank suspected that the packages he had seen
lowered into it contained supplies for the submarine crew, and had been
removed from the hut for greater facility in transferring them to the
war vessel.  The "holy men," to do them justice, did not consume the
whole of the immense consignments which had amazed the Turkish carrier.

The object with which the small British party had come to this secret
spot was nothing less than the capture of the submarine.  As a
preliminary to that they must seize the settlement and its inhabitants,
a feat for which the seven British seamen who had come under his
guidance should be amply competent.  They had four Germans, trained men,
to deal with; three Turks, of whom one was an officer, the two others
menials; and the servant, whose nationality Frank did not know; he might
be a Levantine, and of no account. With the advantage of surprise and of
British daring and discipline the task of the adventurous eight should
be easy enough. The one essential condition of success was that none of
the German’s party should get away.  The escape of a single man might
ruin the enterprise.

Frank waited some time at his post of observation, to make sure that his
estimate of the number of the enemy was accurate. He saw the last load
carried from the cart to the hut; it was a nine-gallon cask of beer;
then one of the Turks mounted, and drove off down the road.  As soon as
he no longer heard the rumbling of the wheels, Frank hastened back to
his friends.

"I thought you were never coming," said the lieutenant-commander.  "Is
she there?"

"No.  Evidently she couldn’t get through."

"I didn’t think she would, but I’m glad to be sure of it, for we
couldn’t have tackled the whole crew.  Why were you so long?"

Frank gave the result of his observations. The officers smiled happily.

"Now then," said the lieutenant-commander, "the first thing is to raid
the bungalow, and collar the officers.  They control the telegraph and
telephone.  You know the place, Forester; I’ll give you two of the men
to assist.  They’ll take their instructions from you.  I’ll wait until I
get a signal from you that you have done the trick, or until I hear a
row in that direction. They are sure to show fight.  But I needn’t say
that if you can manage it quietly, so much the better for our ultimate
success."

"I’ll do my best," said Frank.  "It’s a good deal later than when I was
here yesterday, and I shouldn’t be surprised if they’re taking their
siesta."

"Very well.  Now let me take my bearings. How do I steer?"

"You go straight on until you reach the stream.  You’ll see the place
where I have scooped a passage for you at the foot of one of the posts
supporting the wire.  The men must be careful, or they’ll be
electrocuted."

"I’ll see to that."

"You cross the stream, turn to the left, cut along the bank--and there
you are."

"Perfectly clear sailing directions.  But what about the road?"

"Cross that: you can slip along among the trees.  Better keep a look-out
for the Turk who went down with the cart.  He’ll be coming back
presently, with the German seaman who I suspect was on guard at the
gate."

"You’ll be a staff-officer some day, my friend.  Well, it’s all clear.
We’ll arrange our plans: you had better cut off.  Here, Moggs and
Parker, you’re under Mr. Forester’s orders."

Two strapping seamen jumped up and saluted.  One of them hitched up his
breeches and spat on his hands.

"Good luck, then," said the lieutenant-commander.

Frank nodded, smiled, and led the men along the route he had followed
the previous day to the timber stack at the rear of the bungalow.  On
the way he halted for a few minutes to explain in general terms what his
purpose was, and to impress on them the need of absolute silence.  When
he reached the trees, he left them there under cover, to await his
signal.  Then he stole forward alone.

There was no sound except the servant moving about in the kitchen part
of the building.  He peeped through a chink in the wall of the verandah.
No one was in view, but he now heard a succession of snores and grunts
from somewhere in the interior.  Turning, he beckoned to the seamen to
join him.  They came swiftly on tiptoe, screened from the look-out in
the tree-top, not far away to their left, by the row of trees that
almost overhung the bungalow.

Frank signed to them to stoop and follow him.  Bending low, he crept
along below the verandah, stopped for a moment to peep into a room, and
finding that it was a bedroom and empty, led them on towards the
kitchen.  This, too, a glance showed to be unoccupied.  But the servant
must be near at hand, for Frank heard the splashing of water and the
clatter of crockery.  He must be washing up.

Moving still more cautiously, Frank came to the corner of the building.
He looked round.  Just outside the door a young sallow-hued oriental was
washing up in a trough.  Frank stole back to his men.

"Parker, you’ll come with me," he whispered.  "I’ll leave you here,
Moggs, to watch that fellow.  If you hear a row inside the building,
collar him and keep him quiet.  But don’t move otherwise unless I call
you."

"Ay, ay, sir."

Followed by Parker, he went to the French window of the empty bedroom,
gently forced the catch with his clasp knife, and entered. Tiptoeing
across it, he passed out of the open door, into a short passage.  From
the left he heard the faint sounds of the cook’s movements: the kitchen
was in that direction. On the right, a few steps along, light fell
across the passage from an open door. Frank stole up to this and peeped
in.  It was another bedroom, like the first unoccupied.  Almost opposite
this was a closed door; there was no other door on either side or at the
end.  This must be the sitting-room, parlour or sanctum of the holy men.
Muffled by the timber, there came through the door the sound of snoring
he had heard outside.  He listened for a moment.  The snores were all in
one tone: it appeared likely that he had only one man to deal with.  Was
it Wonckhaus or the Turk? Or perhaps Wonckhaus was sleeping, and the
other man admiring him.

He drew his revolver, very gently turned the handle of the door, and
looked in when the crack was wide enough.  The room had only one
occupant.  Wonckhaus, big, ungainly, lay stretched in a long cane chair,
his head lolling sideways, his mouth wide open, one arm hanging limp, a
long German pipe held loosely in the other hand.  On a small round table
beside him were a tobacco-jar, a black bottle, and a glass.  Beyond this
was another long chair, beside which stood a stool, bearing a glass, a
carafe of water, and a few small pale lemons.  And the room rang with
German snores.

Frank’s eye, swiftly ranging the room, passed from the lemons to the
open mouth. It was a happy chance.  He turned to Parker at his elbow and
whispered a few words.  The man nodded.  Then Frank opened the door, and
stole on his toes round the back of Wonckhaus’s chair to the stool.
From this he took up a lemon about the size of a hen’s egg, and with the
quickness of a conjurer slipped it into the gaping mouth.  The German
awoke with a convulsive start and shudder--and his eyes, bleared with
sleep, fell on a revolver pointed within six inches of his temple, and
above it the face, a little grimmer than it had ever appeared in a
photograph, of the man whom he had not seen for many weeks, even in his
dreams.

Before he could collect his wits, Parker stepped up to him on the other
side and with some ends of thin rope which he had taken from his
capacious blouse tied the German’s hands and feet, with a British
seaman’s quickness and thoroughness.

"Now for the cook," said Frank.

They went back into the passage.  The cook was still washing up.
Entering the kitchen noiselessly, they crept to the door. Frank made a
sign, Parker rushed out, caught the unsuspicious servant by the throat,
and in two minutes had laid him, gagged and trussed, just inside the
kitchen door.  It was a credit to the discipline of the British navy
that Moggs, watching these proceedings with amazement round the corner,
neither moved nor uttered a sound.

It was now time to bring up the rest of the party, who, he guessed, had
by this time reached a point from which he could be seen if he moved a
few yards from the bungalow towards the hut opposite.  But in making
this movement he would be seen also from the tree-top.  The look-out
must be prevented from giving the alarm.  Frank showed the seamen how
they might approach the tree from the rear unperceived, and ordered them
to make the man their prisoner.  When that was done he would give the
expected signal to the others.

The seamen had only just disappeared among the trees when Frank was
startled by the sound of a horse cantering up the road towards the
bungalow.  Running to the window of the room facing the road, he saw
that the horseman was the Turkish officer who had been with Wonckhaus
two days before.  It seemed that the naval party had not yet arrived, or
they would certainly have intercepted the Turk.

Frank weighed the chances of tackling this opponent alone, and quickly
made up his mind.  With two of the enemy already accounted for, and a
third, the look-out, soon to be helpless, the noise of a struggle would
bring up the rest of his party before the remaining four men could
interfere to his harm.  He waited within the room.  The Turk reined up
and dismounted at the door, and walked in unsuspiciously.  At this
moment there was a shout from the direction of the look-out tree, and
the officer turned quickly and ran out into the open.  Frank sprang
after him.  The Turk heard his footsteps and faced round, not rapidly
enough to brace himself for the shock of Frank’s sudden onset.  He was
hurled to the ground, shouting an alarmed call for Wonckhaus.

[Illustration: A CRITICAL MOMENT]

Though taken by surprise, the Turk proved to be a more formidable
antagonist than Frank had expected.  His frame was well-knit and sinewy,
and he held Frank in a fierce grapple.  They heaved and rolled on the
ground, each struggling desperately to throw off the grip of the other.
In less than a minute Frank was aware that the contest, if fought out,
must be a long one. By a sudden convulsive twist, indeed, the Turk had
managed to reverse the positions and get above him.  There were shouts
near at hand, and the sound of running feet.  Frank feared that the
Germans were coming to the officer’s help, and wrestled vigorously to
regain the upper hand.  Just as he felt that his opponent was weakening,
the Turk suddenly relaxed his grip wholly and fell over.  Springing up,
Frank found that one of the seamen from the lieutenant-commander’s party
had run ahead of the rest, and finished the struggle with the butt of
his rifle.

Meanwhile the officers and the rest of the men had been busy at the
huts.  The few inmates, alarmed at the shouts, had started to run
towards the bungalow, but came to a sudden stop when, on the other side
of the buildings, they saw five British naval men charging in the same
direction.  They hesitated, paralysed by surprise; and when the
lieutenant-commander rushed up with drawn revolver and called on them to
surrender, they yielded without a show of resistance, and were soon
prisoners in their own huts.

"Where’s Wonckhaus?" were the lieutenant-commander’s first words as he
joined Frank at the bungalow.

"Come and see."

He led him into the room where Wonckhaus lay bound in his chair, the
lemon still wedged between his teeth.  The naval officer concealed a
smile.

"Perhaps the gentleman would prefer some beer," he said.  "Remove that
plug, Simpson," he added to the warrant officer, indicating the lemon.
"Give the major some beer, and then lock him in his bedroom. We shall
want this room."

Wonckhaus glared at Frank with unspeakable hate, but uttered no word.
When he had been removed, the warrant officer went to see what had
become of Moggs and Parker, and met them returning in high feather with
their prisoner.  The look-out had caught sight of them just as they
reached the tree, and given the shout which had alarmed the Turkish
officer.  But seeing himself immediately covered by the sailor’s rifles
he had surrendered at once.  The place was won, and all its personnel
disposed of.

Having ordered his men to prepare dinner from the bungalow’s abundant
stores, the lieutenant-commander with his second and Frank sat down to
discuss the more difficult problem--the capture of the submarine.

"Our only chance is if it comes in to-night," said the
lieutenant-commander. "As it was expected last night, it is pretty
certain to come to-night, and our ships have ostentatiously cleared off.
If it doesn’t come, we are done, for we can’t remain here undiscovered
for another day."

"Why not?" asked the lieutenant.

"Well, apart from possible visits from Germans or Turks, there’s the
telegraph. A message is sure to come through, and it will be in Turkish
probably.  It was the Turk who took the message when you were here
before, Forester?"

"Yes."

"Very well.  You can work the telegraph, Bickford, but you don’t know
Turkish. Forester knows Turkish, but----"

"I can’t work the telegraph," said Frank.

"Then if we are called up we must simply ignore the call.  That will
lead to investigation and discovery.  There’s my proposition proved.  We
must help the submarine to come in to-night.  Where are those lights
worked?"

"Let’s go and see," said Frank.

After no long search two electric lamps, fed from the dynamo that
charged the fence wire, were discovered in the cliff opposite the centre
of the channel.  They were so placed as to give a straight course to any
vessel coming up from the sea.  Another lamp, invisible from the sea,
marked the entrance to the pool.  It was decided to switch on the
current at dusk.

To guard against trouble on the landward side, two seamen were stationed
in hiding near the gate of the inner fence, which was left open.  If
anyone should approach, he was to be allowed to pass in; but the gate
was then to be closed, cutting off his retreat. For safety’s sake, the
electric current was switched off from the fence.

It was now about four o’clock.  The lights would not need to be shown
till nearly seven.  There were three hours for rest and for recruiting
their strength from Wonckhaus’s larder.  The officers hastened back to
see what sort of a meal had been provided for them.  It beggared their
most hopeful expectation.  There were pork cutlets--"the place is all
pig, sir," remarked the extempore cook--several kinds of sausage, many
varieties of pickle and relish, pots of caviare and pâté de foie gras,
smoked salmon, a mellow gruyère cheese, as well as a very strong German
cheese which the lieutenant-commander ordered to be removed immediately,
tinned fruits, good white bread--"none of your potato flour for
Wonckhaus"--and oceans of beer.  Neither officers nor men had had such a
meal for months.

"Please, sir," said Moggs, coming to the bungalow after the men had
finished their dinner in the hut opposite.

"Well, what is it?"

"Can we strafe some more beer?"

"No, you’ve had enough.  We’ve got work to do to-night."

Moggs looked disappointed.

"Then it won’t be done, sir," he said.

"What won’t be done?"

"Why, sir, Parker said if we was allowed to strafe another barrel he’d
be screwed up to concert pitch, and would be very happy to sing the Hymn
of Hate to the German gentleman abaft yonder.  He must want cheering up,
says he."

"Get out with you!  Parker can sing what he likes when we get back
aboard. Tell him he’s to take first watch on the cliff to-night."

At dusk the men went to their appointed stations.  Parker was posted on
the cliff near the entrance to the channel.  The warrant officer took
charge of the donkey-engine, Moggs was entrusted with the crane; the
other men hauled from the storehouse several cases of ammunition,
weighing in all three or four tons, piled them near the crane, chained
them together, and covered them with a thick blanket taken from the
bungalow.  The lieutenant’s task was to do what was necessary in the
powerhouse.  Frank sat with the lieutenant-commander in one of the huts.

It was about ten o’clock when Parker came in hurriedly from his post on
the cliff.

"Submarine coming in, sir," he reported. "I heard her purring under
water first; then the engines stopped, and I saw her come awash just
outside the channel.  She’ll be nearly here, sir."

The officers went to the door of the hut, and listened anxiously.  No
sound was audible above the dash of the waterfall. Had the commander of
the submarine become suspicious and run out to sea again? In a few
minutes, however, the sound of the engines came faintly on the breeze.
Looking through the darkness to the gap in the cliffs where the pool and
the channel met, they at last saw the dark shape glide in.  The engines
were stopped, but the vessel’s steerage way carried her into the pool,
and she was brought up deftly alongside the lighter.

From below came a hail in Turkish. Frank, now standing beside the crane,
replied.

"Why didn’t you answer our signals?" demanded the voice, huffily.

Frank, who was unaware of any signals, answered at a venture:

"There is something wrong with our lamps."

"Who are you?  Where is Talik?"

"He is invalided.  I am taking his place. Are you coming up?"

"Yes.  Why isn’t Major Wonckhaus here?"

"He’ll be here directly."

"Well, switch on the light: what are you waiting for?"

"The switch is broken."  Frank referred to the switch of an electric
lamp at the top of the crane.  "You must come up in the dark.  Look out!
The chain is running out."

The engine had started, and the chain was swinging down over the arm of
the crane.  The commander of the submarine caught it, set his foot in
the loop provided, and was hauled slowly up, and swung inward towards
the huts.  Meanwhile the men in waiting had removed the blanket from the
pile of cases, and the moment the commander’s feet touched the ground he
was muffled closely in the blanket, and carried struggling into a hut,
where his captors had materials ready for securing him.

"Good man!" murmured the lieutenant-commander, clapping Frank on the
back. "With him out of the way all’s well, I think.  Now, I’ll take up
the running.--Look alive with those cases," he added, still in a low
tone, addressing the seamen who were attaching the massed cases to the
end of the chain.  The crane swung out, and the weighty mass dangled
directly over the submarine, on whose deck the crew could be dimly seen,
gazing up in surprise: surely they were not to take in ammunition at
this hour of the night.  How much greater was their astonishment when
they heard from above a ringing voice in English.

"Below there!  Any of you speak English?"

After a short interval a man replied in the affirmative.

"Thank you," called the lieutenant-commander. "I am in command of an
English landing-party.  Your commander is a prisoner.  If your vessel
attempts to move, I’ll cut away the weight you see above you, and sink
you.  I give you three minutes to surrender."

The terse sentences, the peremptory tone, left no room for doubt.
Before the three minutes were up, the crew had come to a unanimous
decision.  They would surrender.

"Thank you.  Now every one of you go aboard the lighter and leave your
arms behind."

The men went silently from one vessel to the other.  Then the crane
switch was suddenly found to be in order, and a light flashed from the
top.  From the lighter the men were hauled up by ropes, one by one.

"How many are there of you?" asked the lieutenant-commander of the
first.

"Twenty."

The same question put to one or two more received the same reply.  As
the men passed him, the officer counted them.

"Eighteen!  Nineteen!  No more?" He turned to two British sailors.
"Down you go!"

They slid down the rope, boarded the submarine, and dived below.  In a
few moments they returned, hauling a man between them.  They made him
fast to the chain, and by the time he was hoisted they had swarmed up
the rope.

"Just going to fire the magazine, sir," said one.

"Tie him up."

Half an hour later the submarine was heading out to sea, running on the
surface. On the deck, uncomfortably crowded, lay a number of
well-trussed figures--the commander and crew, and Wonckhaus: his
subordinates at the station were left behind. Beyond Mitylene, as
morning dawned, the lieutenant-commander exchanged signals with a
destroyer out at sea.  The vessel stood in, and in due time the
submarine came alongside her.  Cheers broke from the men on her deck.
Willing hands hoisted the prisoners on board and loosed them from their
bonds at the bidding of the commander.

"I much regret it was necessary to bind you, gentlemen," he said to the
officers. "The necessity was clear."

They heard him in glum silence--all but Wonckhaus.

"Necessity!" he blustered.  "Is necessity to override the laws of
civilised warfare? What sort of treatment is it to choke a German
officer with lemons, tie him up, and sling him from a crane?  It is
unfair; it is barbarous."

The commander glanced at Frank, standing in the background.

"Is it wise to talk of civilised warfare, Herr Wonckhaus?" he said
quietly, stepping forward.  "Shall I refresh your memory of what
happened at Erzerum?"

"You were in my power," snarled the German, not a whit abashed, and
sublimely unconscious of inconsistency.  The humour of the situation
tickled the British officers: they laughed aloud.

"That is unanswerable, sir," said the commander, with ironical courtesy.
"You will no doubt do me the favour to go below. Mr. Watson, please show
Major Wonckhaus the way."

The smallest midshipman on the ship came forward, gravely saluted, and
repressing a smile with obvious effort, said:

"This way, sir."

Wonckhaus looked from the midshipman to the commander.  Something in the
expression of the latter helped him to make up his mind.  And a broad
grin enwrapped the whole ship’s company as the big German stalked away
under convoy of the boy.



                              CHAPTER XXIV

                                  V.C.


Two months later a little party were lunching together in a hotel on one
of the Ægean islands.  Mr. Forester was there; Isaac Copri and his son;
Tomlinson, promoted lieutenant, and enjoying a week’s leave; and Frank.
The last had his right arm in a sling.

"Yes," the elder Kopri was saying, "Mirza Aga’s carpet is now on its way
to London.  I contrived to get it shipped at Athens, and it is on the
bill of lading of the steamship _Eirene_, that left the Peiraeus a week
ago."

"Splendid!" said Frank.  "I must find out where Wonckhaus is imprisoned,
and let him know.  His fury will be my revenge....  I hope you didn’t
wait long for me at Gallipoli."

"I waited until I gave up all hope of seeing you again.  We searched the
ruins of Benidin’s house, Joseph and I, for traces of you, and stayed in
the port two or three days in case you should appear.  Then we heard
that the massacres had broken out, and we escaped to Dedeagatch, just in
time."

"How did you get your wounds, sir?" asked Joseph.

"Oh!  I was just potted in a gully."

Tomlinson laughed.

"Strictly true, but hopelessly inadequate," he said.  "It was like
this."

"Dry up, Tommy; it’s an old story now."

"All the better, like this port."

"Well, bottle it up, then."

"I should like to hear the full story, Mr. Tomlinson," said Mr.
Forester.  "Frank has told me little more than the bare fact."

"There you are, Frank.  You want uncorking.  Well, when Frank came back
to the peninsula I didn’t see him for a while. He was interpreting; a
soft job, by all accounts, for the Turkish prisoners are very reticent.
But the battery on Sari Bair began to be very troublesome, and our
fliers couldn’t locate it.  Frank offered to have a shot, and crept up
the gully one night, in rags borrowed from a prisoner; you wouldn’t have
known him.  He spotted the guns overlaid with scrub near that sepulchre
of his, reported next morning, and offered to go up again and set light
to the hollow tree, as a beacon for our gunners. If that didn’t deserve
the D.S.O.--well, I know what Anzac thinks."

"Cut it short, man.  I knew the place, and if the Turks had seen me
they’d have taken me for a ghost and skedaddled."

"The fellow who potted you didn’t take you for a ghost, anyway.  He went
up, sir, with a lot of pills in his pocket--small incendiary bombs, you
know; fired the tree and the brushwood round, and made a fine old blaze,
by the light of which somebody gave him two bullets in the arm as he was
running down the gully.  Our guns got the range in a few minutes--and
we’ve had no more trouble from that particular battery.  I tell you, all
Anzac was mad with delight, and carried Frank round the camp cheering
like----"

"Have you seen this?" interrupted an officer at the next table.  "I
couldn’t help overhearing."

He handed Frank a copy of the _Times_, pointing to a paragraph half-way
down a column headed "New V.C.’s."  Frank looked, flushed, and passed
the paper silently to his father.

"Read it out, sir," cried Tomlinson.

Mr. Forester rubbed his glasses, and had some trouble in clearing his
throat.  He mumbled a word or two, then, more distinctly, read:

"For signal bravery in volunteering twice to locate an enemy battery,
and enabling our naval guns to destroy it ... had already shown
conspicuous proofs of courage and resource."

"And that’s all they say about it!" Tomlinson exclaimed.  "Is it D.S.O.,
sir?"

"It appears to be V.C.," said Mr. Forester.

"Hurray!" cried Tomlinson, flinging up his cap.  "That’s news to carry
back to Anzac."

At this moment, from somewhere outside came the strains of a band.

"Ah!  It couldn’t have come in more pat," added Tomlinson.

The officers stood at the salute as the band played "God save the King."



                                THE END



          PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY R. CLAY AND SONS, LTD.,
     BRUNSWICK STREET, STAMFORD STREET, S.E., AND BUNGAY, SUFFOLK.



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



                      HERBERT STRANG’S WAR STORIES


FIGHTING WITH FRENCH: A TALE OF THE NEW ARMY.

A HERO OF LIÉGE: A STORY OF THE GREAT WAR.

SULTAN JIM: A STORY OF GERMAN AGGRESSION.

THE AIR SCOUT: A STORY OF HOME DEFENCE.

THE AIR PATROL: A STORY OF THE NORTH-WEST FRONTIER.

ROB THE RANGER: A STORY OF THE GREAT FIGHT FOR CANADA.

ONE OF CLIVE’S HEROES: A STORY OF THE GREAT FIGHT FOR INDIA.

BARCLAY OF THE GUIDES: A STORY OF THE INDIAN MUTINY.

THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY ROCHESTER: A STORY OF MARLBOROUGH’S CAMPAIGNS.

BOYS OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE: A STORY OF THE PENINSULAR WAR.

KOBO: A STORY OF THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR.

BROWN OF MOUKDEN: A STORY OF THE RUSSO-JAPANESE WAR.





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