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Title: Gun running for Casement in the Easter rebellion, 1916
Author: Spindler, Karl
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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EASTER REBELLION, 1916***


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GUN RUNNING FOR CASEMENT


      *      *      *      *      *      *

_NEW NOVELS_


MAINWARING                  MAURICE HEWLETT

THE BLACK DIAMOND            F. BRETT YOUNG

REVOLUTION                  J. D. BERESFORD

THE LEPER'S BELL           MASSICKS SPARROY

THE JOURNAL OF HENRY BULVER      C. VEHEYNE

THE DEATH OF SOCIETY           ROMER WILSON

      *      *      *      *      *      *


GUN RUNNING FOR CASEMENT IN THE EASTER REBELLION, 1916

by

Reserve-Lieutenant KARL SPINDLER

of the German Navy

Translated by
W. Montgomery, M.A. (Late Lieutenant R.N.V.R.)
and
E. H. McGrath, M.A.



[Illustration: Logo]

London: 48 Pall Mall
W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.
Glasgow Melbourne Auckland


Copyright, 1921



CONTENTS

CHAP.                                               PAGE
     I. A CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS                          1

    II. THE MYSTERY SHIP                               7

   III. SIR ROGER CASEMENT AND THE IRISH PLANS         9

    IV. 'MYSTERY' CARGO AND CAMOUFLAGE EQUIPMENT      13

     V. THE 'LIBAU' SAILS--AND BECOMES THE 'AUD'      22

    VI. UNDER FALSE COLOURS                           26

   VII. A DRESS REHEARSAL                             30

  VIII. IN ENEMY WATERS                               35

    IX. THE FIRST SIGN OF THE ENEMY                   42

     X. SOME EXCITEMENTS                              45

    XI. ON THE EDGE OF THE ARCTIC SEA                 51

   XII. RIGHT THROUGH THE BLOCKADE                    54

  XIII. OFF THE ROCKALLS IN A HURRICANE               69

   XIV. AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE                           78

    XV. PLANS AND DREAMS                              82

   XVI. WE REACH OUR GOAL                             86

  XVII. TWENTY-FOUR HOURS IN TRALEE BAY               91

 XVIII. UNWELCOME GUESTS                             106

   XIX. A STERN CHASE                                123

    XX. THE 'PHANTOM SHIP' IN A TRAP                 132

   XXI. WE PREPARE TO SINK OUR SHIP                  144

  XXII. THE SINKING OF THE 'LIBAU'                   147

 XXIII. A SECOND 'BARALONG?'                         156

  XXIV. LAWFUL COMBATANT OR PIRATE?                  165

   XXV. UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS AT ESCAPE              175

  XXVI. A BOLDER PLAN                                190

 XXVII. THE ESCAPE                                   203

XXVIII. THE MISSING AERODROME                        214

  XXIX. RECAPTURE                                    226

   XXX. THE PRIZE-COURT INQUIRY                      236



CHAPTER I

A CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS


The date was the 21st of March, 1916.

It was the usual Wilhelmshaven prize weather, blowing great guns,
squalls chasing one another across the sea, grim, blue-gray clouds
scudding unceasingly across the sky, while the rain battered on the
window-panes and threatened at every fiercer gust to burst them in.

I was just in from a spell of outpost duty, and was looking forward to a
very comfortable day indoors, when some one hammered at the knocker.

It was an orderly, bringing an urgent message from my chief. I looked a
second time at the address; but there was no mistake about it. My chief
wished to see me at 5 p.m. As a rule, these formal invitations from the
great boded no good to the recipient. 'All the officers have had them,
sir,' said the orderly, who perhaps guessed my thoughts. Thank Heaven,
then, there was, at any rate, no need to worry as to what crime I had
committed. But I could not help wondering what was in the wind....

The long tramp in the streaming rain was well repaid.

Our flotilla had had orders to supply a volunteer crew--one officer,
five warrant and petty officers, and sixteen men--for special service,
an expedition about the goal and purpose of which nothing could for the
present, for military reasons, be allowed to become known. The utmost
despatch had been enjoined.

Every one of the officers, of course, was eager to go. At the end of the
interview my chief gave me a searching glance, and said, 'I have
proposed you for the command of this expedition. What have you to say to
that?' It need hardly be mentioned that I did not say No! It had long
been my keenest wish to see some service a little out of the ordinary,
and now my chance had come. I thought myself at that moment the luckiest
man on earth.

Even yet, however, I could not be told any particulars. But the facts
that the expedition was absolutely secret, that all the crew were to be
unmarried men, below a certain age, and that those without dependents
were to have the preference--all this pointed to an undertaking of a
very special nature indeed.

At five o'clock next morning, before taking out my half-flotilla on
patrol for the last time, I assembled the men and talked to them.
Purposely, though I myself as yet knew nothing definite, I laid the
utmost stress upon the dangers of the expedition, that they might not
make up their minds too hastily.

Not until I thought they had some idea of what they were in for, did I
give the order: 'Volunteers, three paces forward--march!'

It was a pleasure to see with what alacrity the men stepped forward, to
mark how the eager wish to take part in something big was to be read in
every eye. Those who held back were all married men, and even among them
there were some who took it hard to have to stay behind.

Even so, the choice was difficult enough. Each group of six boats was to
furnish so many men; and the whole crew of the 'mystery ship' was not,
for certain reasons, to exceed twenty-two.

After much sifting, the choice was at length made. Those chosen were
brave, trustworthy, and--a not unimportant point--powerfully built; each
one of them a match for two ordinary men.

After four days of uneventful outpost duty, we were back once more. Even
before returning I had received by signal the joyful news that my
appointment to the command of the _Libau_--that was to be the name of
the mystery ship--had been confirmed.

I lost no time, you may be sure, about proceeding in, locking through,
making fast in the inner harbour, and reporting on board the
leading-ship of the flotilla. The best of the volunteers from the other
sections were chosen, and the ship's company finally made up. The C.O.
of the flotilla, Commander Forstmann, bade us farewell in a short and
pithy speech; and then we set to at our packing, for by midday the next
day we were to be in the train, bound for a destination as yet unknown.
That was the sum of our knowledge, for everything was, so far, in Navy
phrase, 'extremely hush.' Neither our friends nor our comrades were to
know anything of what we had in hand, for a careless word might be
picked up by a spy, and might jeopardise the success of our undertaking,
to say nothing of costing us our lives.

Next day the train took us to our unknown destination--in fact, to
Hamburg. At the dockyard, where we were expected, our first surprise
awaited us, in the shape of our future abode. Not, as we had imagined,
some patrol boat fitted with all the newest devices, but what, to our
outpost-boat ideas, looked, as she lay before us in the evening light, a
truly imposing vessel. The chorus of exclamations which broke from my
gallant fellows showed that they were as agreeably disappointed as I was
myself.

She was not, of course, really 'an Atlantic liner,' as one of my men
called her, but on account of her lofty upper-works, and of her being
completely empty, she stood high out of the water, which considerably
increased her apparent size.

The _Libau_--why she received this name will be explained later--was an
almost new English steamer. Under the name _Castro_ she had formerly
belonged to the Wilson Line of Hull, and in the early days of the war
she had been brought in as a prize by one of our destroyers.

On board, everything was still in the same condition as when the English
crew abandoned her--a welter of oddments of various kinds, hastily
pulled-out drawers, papers, and so forth. The engines and boilers, which
had been overhauled by the dockyard people, and the living accommodation
for officers and men, which had likewise been re-conditioned, made by
contrast a quite satisfactory impression. On the bridge, on the other
hand, and in the chart-house--with us the holy-of-holies of every
ship--everything was rather neglected-looking. In an English tramp
steamer that did not, of course, surprise us.

After the necessary interviews, we formally took over the ship; and a
watch was set, to make sure that no unauthorised person found his way on
board.

We were to start next morning on the first stage of our voyage, and from
now on there was to be no leave, so we had plenty of time to shake down
into our new quarters, and with the small quantity of belongings that we
had with us that was soon accomplished--except in the case of two of our
number. The exceptions were the cook and steward, excellent fellows
both, all-round men, who were as useful on deck as in their own domains.
These latter, in the _Libau_, were from their point of view of a truly
magnificent spaciousness, for in the little outpost-boats they had been
accustomed to perform the mysteries of their office in the most cramped
of two-by-fours. In stormy weather, up to their knees in water, holding
their gear with both hands, and themselves by their eyelashes, they had
perforce adapted themselves to a painfully acrobatic existence. Now they
could spread themselves to their heart's content; and so they rattled
and rummaged, and arranged and rearranged their possessions, until far
into the night.

As for me, as I lay in my bunk that night I could not help recalling
how, a bare two years before, while still fourth-officer of a Lloyd
liner, I used often to picture to myself how splendid it would be to be
given the command of an ocean-going steamer, while one was still young
enough to enjoy it. At that time the goal of my desires seemed
infinitely distant. Now I stood on the threshold of their fulfilment.

That night I slept excellently--for the last time for many months.



CHAPTER II

THE MYSTERY SHIP


We sailed on the following day for Wilhelmshaven, to complete our
fitting out, and once arrived there, preparations were pushed on apace.
Two or three specially picked, trustworthy dockyard hands, carried out
such technical work as my own men were not able to deal with. Apart from
this, no one was allowed to enter or leave the ship; even officers of
the highest rank were refused admission.

We were screened on the landside from curious eyes, as we lay alongside
the much higher and larger _Möwe_, which had returned shortly before
from her first glorious voyage.

All the material that came on board--and there was a good deal of
it--was taken over by my own men on the quay. Thus all was done that
possibly could be done to keep everything about the ship secret.

We could not, of course, prevent the 'aura of mystery' with which we
surrounded ourselves from arousing the curiosity of neighbouring ships,
especially of our former comrades of the Outpost Flotilla, who regarded
us with no small wonderment, and probably with no small envy. I had
therefore told my people that they were, here and there--of course
apparently with the greatest hesitation and under the usual seal of
secrecy--to spread the rumour that we were going to Libau. To confirm
this rumour the name _Libau_ was painted on our bows. As a matter of
fact, I did not yet know myself what our destination really was; but I
was already quite certain that in any case it was not Libau.

From now onwards the mystery grew from hour to hour. One of our hatches
was battened down, and for the present that hold was not to be entered
by any of the ship's company, even including myself. As in Hamburg, so
here, it was carefully guarded day and night.

But the most mysterious thing of all was in one of the cabins, where
underneath a sofa bunk there was a secret entrance which led, by a
series of invisible manholes and concealed ladders, to one of the lower
holds. This secret hold reached from side to side of the ship, and there
was room in it for about fifty men. One end of it was formed by an iron
bulkhead, the other by a wooden dummy bulkhead, which so closely
imitated the other, and was so painted, that any one would have taken it
for an iron water-tight bulkhead, in which there was no opening. The
initiated, however, could, from the inner side, remove a couple of
planks, and so make their way out. There was a similar arrangement in a
yet lower hold, which, for the present, was filled with a reserve supply
of coal, the existence of which was to be concealed during the voyage.

Our mystery ship thus contained no lack of delightful surprises.



CHAPTER III

SIR ROGER CASEMENT AND THE IRISH PLANS


While preparations were thus being pushed forward on board, I myself was
ordered up to Berlin, where also various preparations were in train.

There I learned at last something more definite regarding the
destination of the _Libau_.

Sir Roger Casement, the well-known leader of the Irish Sinn Feiners,
who, as one of the most zealous representatives of the cause of
Ireland's liberty, had long been an object of suspicion to the English,
was now in Germany.

Casement, who was a fiery patriot, and cherished a deadly hatred for
England, believed that the world-war had at length brought the
opportunity to deliver his country from the age-long oppression of the
English. The favourable military situation of the Central Powers at that
time justified the hope that they would be victorious. If, then, the
Irish people made up its mind to rise against England, and had
sufficient tenacity, and a sufficient supply of arms and ammunition, to
maintain the struggle, the existing situation was undoubtedly the most
favourable for the realisation of Ireland's hopes, that Ireland had ever
had--or ever will have.

Roger Casement, as appears from his earlier writings, had years before
foreseen this world-war, and the opportunity for Ireland that it would
bring in its train. Long a friend and admirer of Germany, co-operation
with Germany seemed to him the only hope of deliverance for his country.
He had, therefore, both before and during the war, been carrying on by
speech and writing a vigorous propaganda in support of this idea.
According to his own statements, he had behind him a great part of the
Irish people; this was the so-called 'Sinn Fein Party.'

The driving force behind the whole movement, however, was
supplied--doubtless on account of their greater liberty of action--by
the partisans of the Irish Republican cause in the United States.

The principal representatives of these Irish-Americans had, some time
before, approached the German ambassador in Washington, Count
Bernstorff, with the urgent request that he would forward their plea for
German military support for the projected rising in Ireland.

The desired support, in the form of a landing of troops, had to be
refused by Germany; but, on the other hand, Germany declared herself
willing, after carefully examining the situation, to fall in with Count
Bernstorff's proposal to the extent of sending a ship with arms and
munitions to Ireland. This would, on the one hand, give solid proof of
Germany's willingness to help the oppressed Irish. On the other hand, it
was hoped that an Irish rising, if energetically carried out, would not
only bring to the Irish the realisation of their hopes, but would
shorten the war by several months. The assumption was that England would
be compelled to withdraw from the front great masses of troops and
material, in order to cope with the insurrection.

A simultaneous naval demonstration on the east coast of England was to
create a favourable opportunity for the landing of the arms, by
diverting attention from the west of Ireland.

The questions which had to be considered were, first, whether the ship
would be able to run the blockade and succeed in landing her cargo, and,
second, whether the Irish would be sufficiently vigorous and energetic
to carry out the rising successfully.

Neither question could be answered with certainty. Accordingly, both the
ship's mission and the rising planned in connection therewith, from the
first involved a large element of risk. Either undertaking without the
active support of the other would be purposeless, because fore-doomed to
failure.

In view of the return of the _Möwe_, which had succeeded in getting home
shortly before, and the attempted break-through, still more recently, of
the auxiliary cruiser _Greif_, which the English had unfortunately
caught, we had now to reckon on the blockade being still further
tightened up. The prospects for my blockade-running enterprise were
anything but rosy. The more so as the attempt had to be made at a time
when the moon was nearing the full. The Irish had insisted that the
rising must take place at Easter, which had for the Catholic Irish so
very special a significance, and against Easter in the calendar stood
the words 'Full Moon'--the very last thing I could have wished for at
the time when I should be approaching land.

Casement, who, of course, was in the closest possible touch with his
fellow-countrymen across the water, had, in consultation with them
already, taken the most necessary steps in Germany.[1]

The plan had therefore been discussed in all its bearings, and was fully
communicated to me at various interviews with Sir Roger Casement. I now
knew, therefore, that I had been selected for an enterprise which called
for a very high degree both of vigour and of circumspection. It can be
understood that I was well pleased.

FOOTNOTE:

[1] It may be expressly pointed out here that Germany was fully
justified, according to the provisions of the Law of Nations, in giving
the desired support to the Irish.--Author's note.



CHAPTER IV

'MYSTERY' CARGO AND CAMOUFLAGE EQUIPMENT


As Casement had expressed a very strong objection against accompanying
us in the _Libau_, it was finally decided to place a submarine at his
disposal. He had with him two companions, Lieutenant Monteith and the
Irish sergeant, Bailey. The latter turned out in the sequel to be a
thorough-paced scoundrel. The submarine was to put Casement, with his
companions, on board the _Libau_ at a rendezvous in Tralee Bay, and I
was then to proceed in under his instructions.

As a still further precaution against the aims and destination of the
_Libau_ becoming known, it had also been decided that I was on the
following day to leave Wilhelmshaven and proceed to the Baltic. The
goods-trains with our cargo of arms and munitions, which had been
waiting for days on the sidings of various stations in Central Germany,
without the railway authorities knowing anything about their
destination, were, the following night, ordered by telegram to Lübeck,
so that they arrived almost at the same time as we did.

By two o'clock in the afternoon we were on our way down the Jade.
Officers in command of guardships and barriers had had orders to let us
pass without hindrance or delay.

Off the 'Roter Sand' lighthouse, which so often in thick weather had
given us guidance--not seldom at the very last moment--the first
metamorphosis took place. The secret hatchway was opened and a couple of
large boxes brought up, the contents of which we proceeded to spread out
on deck. These consisted of complete outfits of clothing for the crew;
Norwegian uniforms, _i.e._ plain blue suits, caps, sweaters, linen, etc.,
all genuine down to the smallest detail. Even the black buttons were
stamped with the name of a Norwegian firm!

In a few minutes the dressing-up was complete, and the result was not
without its comic side, for, while some of us looked very like
Scandinavians, others looked like nothing on earth, for of course not
all the garments were adapted to the size of the wearers. One of the
stokers, a tall Bavarian, asked indignantly why the stokers did not get
fine big knives like the seamen. When I explained to him that these were
only for work, and that later on all would have proper daggers and
pistols, he was visibly reassured. One consequence of this metamorphosis
was that henceforward all military smartness of bearing and movement had
to be dropped, for in order to be able to play our parts properly we
must gradually accustom ourselves to tramp-ship ways. I had supposed
that this would come easy to the men, but that was not the case; and I
must say that, desirable as it was under present circumstances, I could
not help being pleased to see how extraordinarily difficult it was to
get rid of the military polish. I was sorry my former chief was not
there to observe it. However, they learned in time to drop the
heel-clicking, call me Cap'n, instead of 'Herr Leutnant,' talk a low
German lingo that might pass, at a pinch, for Norwegian, and let their
beards grow.

We signalled good-bye to a group of outpost boats on their way in, and
once more entered the Elbe. In the night we passed through the Kiel
Canal. Next morning saw us off the Bulk lightship, and a little later we
steamed, in glorious spring weather, through the Fehmarn Sound. A few
hours later we were in Lübeck.

In calling on the firm of shipping agents which had been entrusted with
the loading and outfitting of the _Libau_, I decided to assume my rôle
of merchant captain, but the first attempt was something of a fiasco.
Clad in the go-ashore kit proper to my status, I entered the private
office of the firm, only to be greeted with a respectful 'Good morning,
Commander'--a nasty jolt! I stuck to it, however, and the interview
passed through various stages of incredulity, indignation at my
avoidance of military service, and irritation at my boorish manners. In
the end, however, we understood each other excellently, and I here
record with gratitude the valuable aid I received from the firm and
their confidential employees in the fitting out of the _Libau_.

The main difficulty was the stowage of the cargo. Even allowing for the
quantities of coal and water which would be used in the course of the
voyage, the draft which we were not to exceed at our arrival in Ireland
was extremely small; and the cargo, in order to be capable of being, if
necessary, quickly got out, with very little in the way of help and
appliances, had to be stored in a manner contrary to accepted principles
and usages. As a result of that, the _Libau_ was so top-heavy that if we
encountered stormy weather, there was a great danger of her capsizing. I
had perforce, therefore, to make up my mind to increase the dead-weight,
which was already considerable, by another two hundred tons of coal.
That had, on the other hand, the advantage that I might quite possibly
find an excellent use for this 'ballast' later, and how necessary it
was, for the immediate purpose the sequel was to show. Without it we
should infallibly have been lost off the Rockalls.

As with all the people that we were obliged to employ, the stevedore's
men were all carefully chosen. After coal, provisions, water, and so
forth had been put on board, they got to work on the stowage of the
cargo. Piece by piece had to be lowered into the hold with the greatest
care, lest any of the cases should break, for it was highly important
that no one should know what was in them. The cases were, for this
reason, marked with the usual black and red shippers' marks. The men
must, of course, have smelt a rat, for what could be the object of
sending to sea at this time a German cargo-steamer with piece-goods
marked with names like Genoa and Naples? In any case, I thought it as
well to put it abroad here, too, that the _Libau_ was going to Libau!
Of course, this was whispered under the strictest seal of secrecy, for
then we could be sure that it would go all round the town. I myself let
out once in conversation that I was going to take troops aboard in
Libau, which were to carry out a 'coup' in Finland. That sounded quite
credible. No later than next morning I was asked confidentially by one
of the gentlemen who had to do with the fitting-out, whether it was true
that I was going to embark troops at Libau for Finland; it was, he said,
being reported in the town. Imagine my astonishment! I could only hope
that the rumour would come to the ears of some English spies, and if in
addition the Russians were on the look-out for us at Libau, then
everything was in the best possible train.

And now there suddenly appeared in the living-rooms of the _Libau_ all
sorts of genuine Norwegian equipment, whenever possible stamped with the
name of a firm; and even Norwegian books and the latest Christiania
papers. It was a pity, but it could not be avoided, that a number of
Scandinavian ships were lying in harbour with us. All suspicious objects
of any kind were now packed away in the hold with the 'entrance through
the sofa bunk,' the 'conjurer's box,' as the men christened it.

This 'conjurer's box' was to be very useful to us later. The whole of
the German equipment, which we had to have with us but were obliged
during the voyage to keep hidden from prying eyes--uniforms, arms,
explosive and incendiary bombs, all German nautical instruments, books,
charts, flags (including the numerous flags of foreign nations which we
might have to use)--all found their way into this compartment.

We had supplies enough, all told, to keep us easily for six months--with
the exception of coal, of course, which was calculated to last
forty-five days.

The lavishness of our equipment was in part due to the fact that we had
to have two or three sets of almost all articles of everyday
use--German, English, and, above all, Norwegian--from the compass down
to the smallest sardine-tin. In case the ship should be searched, any
small object of German origin, even a trouser-button with the name of a
German firm stamped on it, might serve to betray us.

Nothing was lacking. We even carried one of the curiously shaped
Norwegian whalers on deck. Arms, tools of every kind, electric
pocket-lamps, surgical dressings, a plentiful supply of bunting,
colours, brushes, and sail cloth, with which the appearance of the ship
could be altered as required, wood and cement for various purposes,
bed-linen, curtains, and crockery, in short, everything, just of the
kind used on Norwegian ships, was provided.

It need hardly be mentioned that we also possessed one or two German
naval ensigns and pendants. All tubs, chests, and tins of preserved meat
that bore Norwegian inscriptions, were assigned places in particularly
conspicuous positions.

We were especially well-found in the matter of ship's papers. Besides
German papers for our own consulates in neutral countries, which might
eventually come in useful, we had an excellently assorted stock of
Norwegian Ship's logs and Engine-room logs, Articles, Certificates,
Manifests, Bills of Lading, etc., on board, which served to authenticate
the ship, crew, and cargo, and whose genuineness was beyond suspicion.
In addition, there were a number of letters, including one of particular
interest from my hypothetical owners in Bergen. In this I was requested,
before leaving Christiania, to take on board with all speed a
consignment of pit-props for Cardiff, which had arrived at the last
moment, and on which my owners, in view of the keen demand in England,
expected to make a handsome profit. My owners also urged me strongly, in
contravention of the English regulations, not to follow the usual
steamer track, but to make a point of keeping clear of it, since it was
precisely on this track that the German submarines had lately been
making such terrible havoc. This letter might serve--provided I found
the right kind of idiot to work it off on--or at least might help, to
explain the unusual route which I was to follow.

After the main cargo, consisting of arms and munitions, had been got on
board, we proceeded to the stowing of the 'camouflage cargo.' This
consisted, in addition to the above-mentioned pit-props, of tin baths,
enamelled steel ware in cases, wooden doors, window frames, and similar
useful articles. These all bore shippers' marks, indicating their
destination as Genoa or Naples. It need hardly be mentioned that only
this camouflage cargo appeared on the manifest and bills of lading, for
its mission in life was to distract attention from our other and
dangerous cargo. For this reason also it was stored above the other
cargo, in such a way that it could only be moved with the greatest
difficulty, and it was only after penetrating several feet down that one
came to the munitions.

While these operations had been going on below, my first mate and his
men had been busily engaged in giving the ship the appearance of a
common tramp. Everywhere, both on hull and upper-works, shone patches of
red-lead, the number of which is generally in inverse proportion to the
size of the ship. To be in character, no stress was laid henceforward on
cleanliness or order.

The name _Libau_ had been painted out. Now that the rumour about our
intended landing in Finland had got round, it could, of course, cause no
surprise that we should conceal our name, for fear of Russian spies!

Meanwhile I had spent several days in Berlin, where all sorts of
important matters had still to be settled. It was even yet not certain
that the expedition would take place at all. In twenty-four hours more,
however, it was to be decided. Heavily laden with packages of all kinds,
I locked myself in, by way of precaution, in a reserved carriage, and
left Berlin accompanied by the best wishes of those interested in the
success of our voyage. On the very evening of my return, I received
telegraphic orders to proceed to sea. Thank Heavens, the uncertainty was
over at last.

Next morning we were ready for sea. The time of sailing I had, for
certain reasons, fixed at six p.m. As the very last item in our
equipment there was brought on board at midday a large dog, of quite
'unquestionable' breed. Old and decrepit as he was, he was nevertheless
a dog; and a dog is a thing that a tramp steamer cannot be without. So I
had hastily purchased him at the last moment.

The one thing still lacking to our completeness was some kind of
knowledge of the Norwegian tongue! For that we must look to the help of
Providence, not to mention--supposing the next few days allowed us
time--a pocket vocabulary which I had provided, to be on the safe side.
The absence of this linguistic knowledge could not disturb our
confidence; at the worst one could make shift to carry it off with
'Platt-Deutsch.'[2] The English are no great heroes in the linguistic
field. If it should be our lot to be examined later on by an English
ship which did not happen to have a Norwegian interpreter on
board--though that, of course, was a possibility on the Norwegian
coast--it was possible the bluff might come off.

FOOTNOTE:

[2] The Low-German dialect which is the 'home-tongue' of many of the
German seamen. It certainly sounds sufficiently different from ordinary
German to pass muster with an untrained ear as a different language.



CHAPTER V

THE 'LIBAU' SAILS--AND BECOMES THE 'AUD'


The clock in the neighbouring church-tower was clanging out the last of
its six vigorous strokes as the _Libau_, under the mercantile flag,
hauled out from the quay. A pleasant Sunday calm lay over the harbour.
That the start took place on a Sunday was regarded by my men, according
to an ancient sailors' superstition, as a good omen.

Travemünde was passed shortly before dark, and, as we took farewell of
the friendly little town, the engine-room telegraph rang for 'full speed
ahead.' The voyage into the unknown had begun.

I now made the crew acquainted, so far as was absolutely necessary, with
the purpose of the voyage. For the present I said nothing of our course,
or destination, and I avoided naming any names, that the men might know
only so much as the situation demanded.

I did this in the men's own interest, so that if they were taken
prisoners they could truthfully say that they knew nothing. The next
thing was to give each of them a Norwegian name and rating. The
pronunciation of their names gave some of them considerable difficulty,
but I insisted that henceforth no German names were to be used, that
the men might become thoroughly accustomed to their new character.

The enthusiasm with which, for all their astonishment, the crew received
my explanations, gave me confidence that I had made no mistake in my
choice.

Our next care was to see that all articles in common use, clothing,
flags, books, instruments, which all had too brand-new an appearance,
were made to look as aged and venerable as befitted their importance.
More especially, of course, did that apply to the ship's papers, the
various letters and other evidences of the genuineness of our assumed
character. A smoky candle to brown the documents, some dust from under a
floor-mat rubbed in carefully with the palm of the hand, some oil and
grease marks dabbed on with a ball of cotton-waste from the engine-room,
these were the uninviting but effective means that we used in the
operation. Frequent folding and crumpling of the papers gave the
finishing touches.

The books received specially artistic treatment, for, according to the
age which they had to live up to, we threw them one or more times upon
the floor, dog-eared the corners, and loosened some of the leaves. My
men developed a remarkable skill in working up their 'discharges,' and
these were, before long, torn, dirty, and mended up with sticking
plaster. It went to our hearts to subject to the like treatment our
beautiful new kits, but stains of tar and paint, and some roughly put on
patches, soon made them unrecognisable.

The cult of the beard had already made encouraging progress. In cases
where it was too slow, we supplemented it a little with oil and coal
dust.

On the hatches I had dozens of chalk marks, so called tally marks, and
numbers painted on, as though the checkers had been very zealous in
their office. Empty Norwegian preserved-meat tins and old Christiania
newspapers were strewn about in the cabins. In short, we spared no
effort to give our ship and ourselves an appearance corresponding to our
assumed character; and enjoyed ourselves mightily in the process. Now
that the tense expectation and uncertainty of the last few days had
relaxed, and that the men knew what was at stake, and how many thousands
of people were eagerly and anxiously awaiting the arrival of the
_Libau_, they were almost wild with delight. No one thought about the
dangers that lay before us. A single desire animated us all. 'On, on,
into the enemy's territory; and then home again, covered with glory.'
With such a splendid crew one could cheerfully face the devil himself!

About midnight I came to anchor off Warnemünde. The weather had
unfortunately changed for the worse. The rising sea compelled me to
alter my original plan of going through the Sound as a Swede and only
becoming a Norwegian in the Kattegat. Owing to the difficulties of
altering the paint work, that was only possible in good weather. I was
obliged, therefore, to assume the Norwegian mask at once. There was no
sleep for any one that night. Stages were slung over each side of the
ship, and several men swarmed down, and, by the light of their electric
pocket-lamps, painted the name, _Aud-Norge_ in letters a yard and a half
long on the sides.

The work was unfortunately often interrupted by the passing of steamers
and fishing craft, at whose approach we had to put out our electric
lamps, and other difficulties were caused by the rising sea, which often
dashed over the stages and wet us up to our chests, and--worst of
all--washed out at one sweep our laborious efforts with the brush.
Undaunted, however, and stimulated by a couple of tots of spirits to
keep out the cold, we stuck to our posts; for by morning the work must
be done. And done it was. When the first streak of dawn appeared, the
_Aud_, rocking contentedly to the Baltic swell, was ready to the last
paint stroke.



CHAPTER VI

UNDER FALSE COLOURS


The Norwegian flag was flying gaily at the stern, when, after sunrise,
the _Aud_ weighed anchor.

At first we found ourselves distinctly amusing in our new rôle.

Every one went about in the most leisurely fashion possible (for on a
tramp no one is ever in a hurry), rolling a little in our gait, pulling
vigorously at a short pipe, and spitting with seamanlike skill to the
four quarters of the heavens. Our hands, of course, were buried as deep
as possible in our pockets.

After passing the Gjedser lightship, we laid a course for Falsterbö. The
lifeboats from now on hung outboard, partly for our own safety and
partly because it was customary at that time. There was still a great
deal to be done that day, for before midnight I expected to be in enemy
waters.

Before that, all the preparations had to be completed which were
necessary in case of encountering the enemy. In order to be able at a
moment's notice to blow up the ship, I had a large quantity of
explosives placed in a suitable position, and built up round them a
small casing of cement about three feet wide. The greater the
resistance, the greater would be the effect of the explosion. The wire
by means of which it was to be detonated was carried round various
corners and angles to the upper-deck, where it was carefully concealed
from prying eyes. To avoid any risk from carelessness, I had the fuses
kept in a different place.

For our own weapons, ammunition, and tools, we sought out, on deck and
below, the hiding-places which seemed most secure, both from damp and
discovery. In case of a prize-crew being put on board, we intended to
make an effort to overpower them.

In this connection our cook had a brilliant idea. On the assumption that
he would be left free--for even the fiercest Englishman must eat--he hid
a quantity of weapons and crowbars under a heap of ashes in a disused
furnace, and preened himself not a little on the prospect of being able
to set free the rest of us.

In the end there was not a spot in the whole ship, from bridge to
bunkers, where there was not some kind of instrument of destruction
ready to hand. Naval flags and pendants were concealed in a similar way.

A generous provision of alcoholic beverages was a simpler matter. With
an ample supply everywhere at hand--good White Horse whisky and fine old
brandy at that--in half-filled bottles invitingly open, we judged that
it might be quite possible to deal with a prize crew without unnecessary
bloodshed.

The next thing was to work out what may be called an 'emergency-station
drill.' Ordinarily, that means the assignment of each member of the crew
to his special post on such occasions as the outbreak of fire, 'man
overboard,' and the like. For us it was highly important to have in
addition our functions allotted for such emergencies as 'enemy ship in
sight.' It would then be necessary to conceal as speedily as possible
all German sextants, telescopes, charts, log-books, and other requisites
of navigation, and substitute for them the corresponding Norwegian
material. At the first alarm, therefore, all these suspicious objects
had to be bundled into a big bag which hung on the bridge for the
purpose. One of the seamen then sprinted across with it to the galley,
where the cook stood ready to take it and pass it along to the secret
chamber. There, at the ladder, the steward was ready to provide for its
ultimate disappearance. All this could be done within two minutes.

Meanwhile the decks and engine-room were 'cleared for action.'
Mathiesen, who knew a little Danish and was rather Scandinavian-looking,
took the wheel on the bridge, in order, if need be, to exchange rôles
with the officer of the watch. A mate's uniform hung for this purpose in
the chart-house.

One of the stokers had the pleasing task of sitting, with the greatest
attainable abandon, on the fore-hatch, lazily smoking his pipe and
teasing the dog till it barked furiously. The rest of the crew, with the
exception of the engineers and stokers on duty, had to disappear quickly
and quietly from the deck, crawl into their bunks, and pretend to be
asleep.

The whole thing was admirably successful. Any one observing from a
distance the picture of peaceful innocence presented by our
dingy-looking tramp could not possibly have seen anything to arouse
suspicion. Special signals--either passed quietly from mouth to mouth or
communicated by voice-pipe and engine-room telegraph--were arranged in
case, with a prize crew already on board, it might become necessary to
sink the ship. The word _Tyske_, Norwegian for 'German,' meant 'Stand by
with the naval ensign, uniforms, and arms!' The further commands, to
carry on, and to make the attack, were varied according to
circumstances. The Norwegian phrase meaning 'Pedersen is to come to the
captain,' signified: 'Stand by to blow up the ship! Fuse ready!' The
order, 'Stop!' given three times in succession with the engine-room
telegraph, meant, 'Fire the mine!' This drill we practised, if possible,
daily.

We had now, with frequent alterations of course, made our way along the
Danish coast as far as Falsterbö, where there was an extensive mine and
ship barrier. The place was swarming with war vessels of every kind. An
outpost-boat gave us our course through the barrier.



CHAPTER VII

A DRESS REHEARSAL


'Destroyer coming up astern,' some one on the boat-deck shouted up to
the bridge. A moment later we heard the familiar rush of a destroyer's
bow-wave, and the ringing of her telegraph as she checked. What the
devil do they want?'

'Where are you from, captain,' comes a voice from below us.

A sub-lieutenant is standing, megaphone in hand, on the bridge of the
pitching craft, whose funnels are only just on a level with our upper
deck. Close as she is to us, all the officers of the watch are scanning
us curiously through their glasses, while the men standing about the
deck stare at us open-eyed. As it is just as well that we should not be
recognised, I give my men a sign to go below, and myself, take my stand
at the rail, shaking my head, to convey to the sub-lieutenant that the
German language is not one of my accomplishments.

'Of course,' I can hear the little man below grumbling to himself,
'another of these idiots of captains who can speak no civilised
language!'

Nevertheless, he had another try, shouting at me through the megaphone
in a rasping tone, 'Where are you from? Can't you answer?'

Again I relentlessly shook my head, though it was all I could do not to
laugh outright when I recognised the speaker's voice. I had talked to
him in the streets of Kiel a couple of days before.

'Nothing doing! 'he growled angrily to himself, and said something to a
signalman, who thereupon ran aft, and returned accompanied by a
lieutenant, who had obviously been awakened from his siesta.

'Hallo, capt'n,' he shouted to me in fluent English,[3] 'where are you
coming from?'

'Danzig,' I answered shortly.

'Where are you bound for?'

'Christiania.'

In the ensuing pause I turned round and pretended to play with the dog,
by way of showing that I had no use for any further conversation with
the destroyer.

Meanwhile, I could hear the little sub saying crossly, 'I'll be hanged
if the fellow's on the square. I'll swear there's something fishy about
the business.'

I gave an impatient pull to my gay-coloured scarf, and nonchalantly
knocked out my foul little pipe on the rail, so that the ash flew right
into the eyes of the two speakers.

'Boor!' was the only further word that I heard, for a second afterwards
the destroyer backed astern, came up again on our port side, and steamed
along abreast of us for a while, all eyes on our deck, and on the
shining paint of the flags and names on our side.

Mathiesen, who now shoved his Norwegian-looking visage into the
foreground, must have allayed the suspicions of the wary pair, for a
sudden shout of 'All right, captain,' accompanied by a wave of the hand,
gave me to understand that I might proceed.

We had passed our first test safely. Some five hundred yards beyond the
barrier, a small Danish steamer flying a pilot-flag, came steaming
towards us. Here was our first real risk. I knew that no merchant ships
were allowed to pass through the Flintrinne and the Sound without taking
a pilot, and I had therefore already discussed with my officers what we
should do about it. If we took a pilot, it would be impossible to keep
up the pretence of being Norwegians for the whole time--amounting to
several hours--that he would be with us. On the other hand, if we
refused his services, it might be taken as certain that his suspicions
would be aroused; unless we had the luck to meet a particularly stupid
one.

After long deliberation I resolved, however, to back our luck and take
the latter course, and the luck held.

Long before he got near us, I made signs to indicate that I did not want
a pilot. Our friend, however, who no doubt meant to get a whacking fee
out of us, was very determined about it; and gave us to understand, with
a fine flow of language and gesticulation, that he was coming on board
whether or no. My chief engineer meanwhile saw to it that he should have
all he could do to keep up with us. To prevent his getting in the first
word, I took the megaphone and shouted to him in English, the 'universal
language' of seafaring men, 'I don't want a pilot, I know the water
here!' The only result was that the good man became more clamorous than
ever, and indicated the exact point on the side at which he wanted a
ladder let down for him.

To get rid of his importunity, Mathiesen had at last to shout to him in
Danish, 'We don't need you, we know the channel!' Then I sheered off a
bit to port, and our friend, at length recognising the futility of his
efforts, steamed away, cursing and shaking his fist. We saw him making
at full speed for the Danish lightship at the entrance to the
Flintrinne.

'By Jove, I expect that's torn it,' remarked my second, watching him
through his glasses. I had to acknowledge that he might be right. The
Danes were at that time notoriously anti-German, and the lightship had a
wireless installation. If the fellows wanted to set a trap for us, they
had only to report promptly to the English, 'Suspicious steamer passed,
proceeding out on a northerly course,' and we should be quite certain,
within five hours after passing Helsingborg, to make the acquaintance of
an English cruiser. To add to our disquietude, it was no long time
before we overhauled in the narrow channel a Danish schooner, which had
lain close astern of us at the quays of Lübeck, what time we were still
a German steamer!

However, we should need luck to get through in any case, and a risk
less or more was nothing to be downhearted about....

Copenhagen and Malmö, with their great pools of light, are now far
behind us. As we meet the fresh breeze at the entrance to the Kattegat,
a barquentine, under full sail, glides past us without a sound.

She carries no lights, and the ghostly outline of her bellying canvas is
dimly silhouetted against the moonless sky. In a few seconds she has
disappeared in the deep darkness.

But what is that? The lines of a torpedo-boat show up to port; the rays
of a pair of searchlights dart through the air and disappear again. Then
another flash sweeps upward, the cone growing larger and larger. Now he
has us; on the decks of the Aud it is light as day, our eyes are blinded
for the moment. A few seconds of this and the cone disappears again as
quickly as it came.

The Danish torpedo-boat that guards the entrance of the sound, to
protect Danish neutrality, has held us for a moment under the magnifying
glass, so to speak, to examine our distinctive markings--and has passed
us as a harmless neutral.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] English being much more often understood by Norwegian captains than
German. When the author quotes English, it is given exactly as he writes
it.



CHAPTER VIII

IN ENEMY WATERS


A quarter of an hour after passing the torpedo-boat we had crossed the
three-mile limit, and were in enemy territory.[4]

We kept a sharp look-out, for at any moment now we might run across an
English cruiser, destroyer, or submarine.

English submarines had, in fact, been sighted a few days before, in
company with outpost-boats, between Lasö and the Sound, while between
Skagen and Göteborg, in the Skager-Rack, and on the Norwegian coast,
especially off Lindesnaes and Jäderen, numerous English war-vessels,
including both cruisers and destroyers, had been reported.

About two o'clock we were some five miles east of the island of Anholt,
and at this point we had to make a critical decision.

Shortly before, the English had issued a notice which _ordered_ all
_neutral_ steamers to follow a course within ten miles distance of the
Scandinavian coast, the object being to facilitate the examination of
shipping by the English warships. The small neutral nations were
powerless to resist. The only 'neutral' which at that time dared to defy
the English order was the Norwegian steamer _Aud_.

I had two good reasons for my decision: first, that to follow the
Swedish coast meant a great waste of time, second, that the English
would never, I felt sure, imagine that any neutral would have the
hardihood to ignore their order. It was therefore natural to suppose
that the principal part of their patrol forces would be concentrated in
the immediate neighbourhood of the coast. By taking a course through the
middle of the Kattegat and Skager-Rack, we should gain twenty-four
hours, and probably escape a strict examination, which would also take
up a good deal of time.

I therefore held a course for the present midway between the island of
Lasö and Göteborg, intending to strike into the Skager-Rack higher up,
northward of Paternoster. This course had, however, one great
disadvantage. Supposing we were caught while on it, no amount of
ingenious lying would help us, for all our papers were valid only from
Christiania outwards, since that was our ostensible port of sailing.

Once more we had to trust our luck. The risk was, after all, not greater
than in following the other course, with the chance of being vetted, by
'mark of the mouth,' by an English-Norwegian interpreter.

As soon as we were out of sight of land and of other ships, I rang down
the order for 'Full speed ahead.' The main thing now was to get as
quickly as possible upon a course which would make it credible that we
had sailed from Christiania. If we were caught in the meantime, the game
was up; if not, we had won the first trick. So--drive ahead!

Towards morning the wind dropped and became very uncertain, while the
sky was almost completely overcast. To the west and north-west there was
already a slight haze upon the water: the forerunner of a coming fog. If
there was any one in the wide world who had reason to hope for a fog at
that moment it was myself. We all stood on deck watching anxiously every
slightest alteration in the weather. The watch below found they had no
need for sleep that day. From minute to minute it grew thicker. Contrary
to my previous intention, therefore, I stood in nearer the Swedish coast
in order to get our exact 'position' by shore-bearings. It was quite
possible that I might have no further chance of doing so for several
days, for I had decided, when we reached the North Sea, to continue
steaming out of sight of land, since, on the whole of the Norwegian
coast up to a point northward of Bergen, numerous English patrolling
vessels had been reported.

It must have been about 8 a.m. when the look-out aloft reported a ship
ahead. A few minutes later we made her out to be a small cruiser of one
of the older types.

I gave the order for emergency stations, and in a moment every man was
at his allotted post. It was impossible, at the distance, to read the
cruiser's small and rather weather-beaten flag, and we were bound to
assume that she was English.

If so, what was to happen? There was nothing whatever in our papers that
would serve to account for our presence in this neighbourhood. Suddenly,
I had an inspiration. 'Stand by to hoist the quarantine flag,' I
ordered, and signalled for 'half speed!' Then I told the men my plan.
Every man who was not wanted on deck must wrap up his neck warmly and
creep into his bunk. We on the bridge, too, wrapped ourselves in thick
cloaks and wound great comforters round our necks. If the supposed
Englishman looked as if he meant to approach us, I intended to run up
the quarantine flag and signal to him that we were from Danzig, bound
for Christiania, and had diphtheria on board. Perhaps I might ask him to
give warning of our arrival in Christiania. In these circumstances he
would certainly avoid coming on board. For the moment we should be safe;
the rest we must leave to luck. As an extra precaution I had a bottle of
carbolic poured over the deck, to provide the appropriate sick-bay
odour.

The cruiser approached us at high speed. In ten minutes she would close
us. It is a tense moment, for everything now hangs on the success of our
stratagem. Suddenly she turns sharply on to a north-easterly course, the
whole of her flag becomes visible, and reveals to our eager eyes the
Swedish colours.

A weight fell from our hearts. In the twinkling of an eye the sick were
whole, and the various objects which had disappeared into the
'conjurer's box' were speedily restored to the light of day. The
dress-rehearsal had been a complete success.

Shortly after, we sighted, right astern of the steamer, the little
island of Paternoster, to which we gave a wide berth to avoid inquiries
from the signal station. At the same time, the coastline loomed up
through the fog to starboard. I had now, if I wanted it, a good 'fix,'
but I decided to take my 'departure' farther north, just before the big
alteration of course to westward.

By midday we had made sufficient northing to be able to steer a course
from that point right through the middle of the Skager-Rack.

A bearing from a lighthouse on the mainland, in conjunction with a
sounding taken at the same time, enabled us to prick our position on the
chart with great precision; and then we headed westward at full speed.
If the thick weather only held for another six hours, we should be able
to say, with a bold front, that we hailed from Christiania.

The 'cherub that sits up aloft' must have meant well by us, for the fog
not only held, but thickened.

No need to spur the engine-room staff to special efforts. They knew how
much now depended upon speed, and gave the engines every ounce that they
would stand. About three o'clock we were abreast of Skagen, and I put
her on a south-westerly course.

To avoid collision in the fog, we had nothing to depend on but our eyes
and ears, for naturally I dispensed with the use of the siren. On the
decks there was absolute silence. Nothing was to be heard but the gurgle
of the water at the bow, and the monotonous beat of the pistons, as we
drove steadily through the fog at a good twelve knots.

For two hours we ran like that, and then all at once a high, dark bulk
loomed out of the fog right ahead, a bark under full sail.

'Hard a-starboard!' The wheel flew round at lightning speed. For a long
moment it looked as if the manoeuvre would not succeed, for the _Aud_
answered but slowly to her helm. Fortunately, however, the sailing ship
had also realised the situation and put her helm hard over, and we
cleared each other in the end with fifty yards to spare. The bark was
flying a red rag of bunting which must once have represented a Norwegian
flag, and we gave our 'countrymen' a cheer as they went by.

Towards evening we had made such good way that we could quite well pose
as being outward bound from Christiania; and from now on we had to start
keeping a Norwegian log-book, for that, too, might well be subjected to
examination. There were two of these logs, one for the navigation and
one for the engine-room. We had, therefore, starting from the present
position of the ship, to calculate back and find out at what hour the
_Aud_ left Christiania, and when and where we dropped pilot
what's-his-name, and so forth. This information was entered under the
appropriate headings.

Our real course, positions, speeds, coal consumption, etc., would, of
course, in the future be quite different from those which the Norwegian
log-books had to show, and the 'cooking' of these logs became later
quite a difficult task.

It was my first introduction to the mysteries of 'Book-keeping by Double
Entry.'

FOOTNOTE:

[4] It is interesting to note the admission from such a source that
'England's frontiers are the shores of the enemy'--or the nearest point
thereto that is outside neutral waters.



CHAPTER IX

THE FIRST SIGN OF THE ENEMY


Towards nine o'clock there set in, unfortunately, a marked change of
weather. A light wind from the west gradually dispersed the fog, so that
it soon became quite clear, with good visibility.

The moon had already risen, but considerately remained hidden behind a
cloud, so that the silhouette of our ship was not very distinct.

Towards midnight, we reckoned, we should be abreast of Lindesnaes. Here
we expected to find the coast most closely watched by the English, since
all traffic, whether from north, east, or west, must pass this
south-western corner of Norway. In order not to arouse unnecessary
suspicion, I ordered the mast-head light and side-lights to be lighted.
But before doing so, I had the lenses rubbed over with lampblack, so
that the lights could scarcely have been visible a few ship's lengths
away.

We could thus, at any rate, say that we had our lamps burning, and throw
the blame of their condition upon the lamp-trimmer. In the rest of the
ship all lights were carefully screened.

Hour after hour of anxious waiting went by--another half-hour, another
quarter, and we shall have Lindesnaes right abeam. Shall we get through
unobserved?

We were spared the trouble of answering that question. Suddenly there
was a flash to northward, and directly over the horizon there appeared
one after another, one, two, three, four searchlights, making
criss-cross patterns with their beams. Time after time they grazed us.
When one of them suddenly rested a moment on us, we thought we were
seen, but no; for a few seconds later it released us again and
illuminated the water astern of us. Then another came sweeping round,
and yet another. This merry game went on for perhaps five minutes, but
that brief span seemed to us like an eternity, for every moment we
expected a shot across our bows as a gentle hint to us to stop. But
nothing happened.

It was only when the beams began to concentrate on a spot some distance
to the east of us, and then climbed up into the heavens that we breathed
freely once more.

After that I extinguished my lights again, and steered north-west for
the open sea.

From that time forward, a point which I always took into consideration
in laying my courses was that I should always be at least a day's
steaming distant from the famous Kirkwall Harbour, to which the English
sent in all suspicious ships. I counted that if we should be caught and
a prize crew put on board of us, within the twenty-four hours we could
find ways and means of dealing with our uninvited guests, and
recapturing our ship.

The next day passed without any greater excitements than those provided
by an encounter with a couple of suspicious-looking Dutch fishing-boats,
and a Norwegian steamer. The latter evidently did not fancy the looks of
her fellow-countryman, for she took to her heels, belching forth volumes
of the blackest smoke that her furnaces could produce, and only resumed
her course after giving us a very wide berth. We found it rather an
agreeable interlude to figure as hunter instead of quarry.



CHAPTER X

SOME EXCITEMENTS


We were now four days out, and the most we had seen of the 'Grand Fleet'
of the English was a couple of searchlights.

I had been on the bridge all night, and had turned in for a short rest,
when I was awakened by a loud tramping and shouting on deck.

'Smoke cloud on the port beam!' What could that be? Well, of course, it
might be a trader, but it was just as likely to be a warship, for we
were now approaching the Shetland cordon.

For a quarter of an hour there was nothing to be seen but a great mass
of smoke, which grew sometimes fainter and sometimes stronger. For a
while it looked as if it was produced by several funnels. To make
sure, I sent my first officer up to the fore-top with an excellent
Zeiss glass. A few seconds later he reported a high mast with
spotting-top--the funnels were not yet to be made out. A warship, then.
The plot began to thicken.

I gave the orders, 'Emergency stations. Course NE., Engine-room staff to
reduce smoke.' A course to the east of NE. was, for the present, not
advisable, for it was quite possible that there might be other warships
in that direction, and it was not yet possible to make out which way the
cruiser was heading.

The 'smokeless' stunt we now tried for the first time, and it went much
better than we expected. This was the more creditable, because
tramp-steamers have no special arrangements for smokeless firing, and
the men, who were mostly reservists, had not been trained to it.

The moments that now followed were certainly the most anxious we had yet
experienced. The cruiser seemed to be steaming towards us at full speed,
for the mast, with its high wireless, could now be seen from our bridge
as well as from aloft. 'A second lower mast now visible,' reported the
look-out. As he described the relative position of the masts it became
evident that the Englishman was heading about north-east. Had he really
seen us yet, or not? I gave her four points more to starboard, so that
we were now on an easterly course. Perhaps we might still escape.

The great difference in the height of the masts left no doubt that we
had here to do with one of the very newest and fastest English cruisers.
If she had sighted us, any attempt at flight was useless. But we counted
on the English look-out not being as sharp as ours. It is natural that
on monotonous outpost duty, cruising to and fro day after day in the
same waters and hardly ever seeing anything but the same sea and sky,
sky and sea, one's watchfulness should in the end get blunted. And that
was just what happened.

A joyful shout from aloft suddenly announced that the cruiser was
turning away. As we examined her more closely we could, in fact, see
that the high fore-mast, which had originally been visible to the east
of the lower mast, now showed to the north-west of it. Evidently the
cruiser had turned on to a westerly course, and that meant that she had
not sighted us. A short time later, nothing was to be seen of either
mast, and soon only a pair of light wisps of smoke lay on the misty
horizon. The whole thing had happened so swiftly and surprisingly that
we could hardly believe in our good fortune.

On working out our position, I found that we were some seventy-five
miles east of the Shetlands. A light bank of mist had now completely
hidden the cruiser from us, and as we could see nothing more in any
direction, we might conclude with some assurance that she was the
easternmost cruiser of that outpost line which, a few weeks before, had
almost proved disastrous to the returning Möwe. Only, the chain seemed
now to have been lengthened out a little farther to the east. Barring
the chance, then, that one or two English vessels were stationed well
over towards the Norwegian coast, we might take it that we were already
clear of the Shetland cordon, and had successfully eluded the first of
the blockading forces, whose special task it was to frustrate just such
attempts as ours to break through from the North Sea to the Atlantic.

So far, all well. The next problem was, which of the possible
alternative routes we were to follow from this point onwards. The
shortest routes were, of course, those between the Orkneys and the
mainland, and between the Shetlands and the Faroe Isles. Both, however,
would be very thoroughly watched, and I gave up at once the idea of
following either. The much more circuitous route between the Faroes and
Ireland meant eight and a half days' steaming, at an average speed of
ten knots, before we could reach our destination. Moreover, here lay the
main blockading force, consisting of large and powerful auxiliary
cruisers, patrolling at short intervals its two hundred miles of open
water.

There was yet another alternative, to go right round by the north of
Iceland, but the feasibility of this depended on the ice-conditions, and
on these I had not been able to get my exact information before sailing.

So much depended upon wind and weather that it would have been foolish
to fix my plans unalterably for more than a day ahead, but, on the
whole, the route between Iceland and the Faroes seemed to offer the best
chance of getting through. I decided, therefore, to steam north,
parallel, at a sufficient distance, to the blockading line, and wait for
a favourable opportunity of slipping through.

The barometer was high and steady, indicating the continuance of fine
weather. The main thing now was to get an accurate observation, for
since leaving Paternoster we had no opportunity to get an exact 'fix,'
and it was quite possible that the current might have carried us some
distance out of our course. But towards noon the sky was overcast, and
a mist lay on the horizon, making it impossible to take an accurate
altitude, so there was nothing for it but to stand in towards the coast,
in order to determine our position by soundings or by shore-bearings. We
headed in, therefore, at full speed for Bremanjerland on the Nordfjord.
Almost at the exact point we had calculated on, we got a sounding of the
'hundred-fathom line,' and so determined our longitude. There was now
only the latitude to be fixed, and for that luck came to our aid sooner
than we had hoped.

About half an hour before midday the fog-bank ahead of us suddenly
lifted. A long, low strip of darker gray lay resting on the water. From
minute to minute it grew longer and higher, till it became definitely
recognisable as land, and the bold outlines of the high, precipitous
coastline began to appear. And then--it might have been on the stage, so
rapid was the transformation--suddenly the fog broke, as though we had
been an enemy charging down upon it, the sun shone through the clouds,
and before ten minutes had passed, a panorama of enchanting beauty lay
before us.

Out of the clear, deep-blue water, now almost smooth as a mirror, for
the wind had dropped, there rose majestically the lofty, snow-covered
mountains of Bremanjerland. In the hollows of the mountainsides, and on
the precipitous, jaggedly outlined pinnacles of rock, the snow glistened
in the melting rays of the sun. Here and there, runnels of water
streamed down over the naked, gray walls of rock into the sea, or found
their way down the deep clefts which ran, darkly outlined as though with
black chalk, down the face of the cliffs. To the east, where the
mountains were higher, there was a succession of glaciers. One might
easily have believed oneself transported to the Alps.

Gradually the numerous islands, which lay like outposts in front of the
mainland, became more clearly defined. As there was nothing suspicious
to be seen either on land or water--no boat, no human habitation, not
even a lighthouse--I held on my course until I was close inshore. Then,
with the aid of the charts and sailing directions, which give good
silhouettes of this part of the coast, I was soon able to get my exact
position.

The sudden change in the weather had, of course, played the deuce with
my plans. It would have been madness to attempt to break through the
Shetland blockade in weather so clear as this. I therefore decided to
keep at a safe distance from the patrol line, and wait for a change of
weather. I laid a course for the point--several hundred miles north-east
of the Faroes--at which the Polar Circle intersects the meridian of
Greenwich.



CHAPTER XI

ON THE EDGE OF THE ARCTIC SEA


Towards four o'clock of the following day we had reached the point
aforesaid. And now it was hard to know what to do, for the air was still
clear, the sea glassy-calm, with no indications of an early change.

So far, we had seen no ice, though we were now on the edge of the Arctic
Ocean. From that we might conclude that the route north-about round
Iceland was not yet practicable, for the ice had not yet broken up.

To run the blockade was, in existing circumstances, hopeless; especially
as it was nearing full-moon, and in these high latitudes there was,
properly speaking, no night at all. I decided simply to stop the
engines, and lie to all the next day. This kind of weather could not
last for ever, and the date of my rendezvous gave me a couple of days to
play with. For the moment there was not much danger, for no enemy craft
was likely to penetrate so far north.

If the English were to have to look out for German ships up here, they
might as well extend their outpost-line to the North Pole. In fact, if
there was any risk at all, it came from our own submarines, not all of
which could have received a warning about our voyage.

The stopping of the engines enabled some necessary repairs to be carried
out, and all the machinery was carefully overhauled, for there was no
knowing to what severe tests it might be put before all was done. The
deck-hands occupied themselves in repainting the flags and lettering
upon our sides, which, owing to the unfavourable conditions in which
these works of art had had their birth, had been reduced by weather and
water to a confusion of dots and splashes, which might well account for
some of the suspicious looks we had encountered.

The day ended with a concert, which my second-officer opened, only too
appropriately, with a song beginning, 'Calm lies the sea.'

So pressing was the problem, what we were to do during the next
twenty-four hours, that before turning in that night I held a council
with my officers in our little mess-room.

The blockade-line, which now lay before us, and which we must break
through, unless we were to go north-about round Iceland, was the
strongest of all the blockading cordons. We had reason to believe that
it was formed by no less than ten to twelve large auxiliary cruisers.
The distance from Iceland to the Faroes is, at the narrowest point,
about two-hundred nautical miles. Assuming, therefore, that the average
speed of these vessels was not more than fifteen knots, it was scarcely
to be expected that we could slip through, except in thick fog, for the
intervals between the patrolling cruisers must be very small. Never in
my life have I done so much calculating of courses and distances as that
night. All available charts and sailing directions were requisitioned,
and for hours we bent over the charts with pencil and dividers,
calculating, and weighing arguments. In the end we always came back to
the point that we _must_ make the attempt to break through; for all
other alternatives were too unpromising. The conclusion we finally came
to was, to make the attempt next day--provided the weather conditions
became appreciably more favourable.

We looked at the barometer. Good heavens! Was it possible? In the last
four hours it had fallen nearly a tenth.

At that moment there came a whistle down the voice-pipe beside my bunk.

'Well, what is it?'

'Waterspout to starboard, captain; come up at once,' shouted some one
from the bridge. Scarcely had we reached the deck, when the portent
swept past us, a great black column of water some five yards in
diameter, narrowing in the middle, and spreading wider as it mounted
into the clouds above.

The amazing thing was the speed at which, in spite of the dead calm, it
swept along the surface of the water. Its force was evidenced by the
whirlpool at its base, which left behind it a seething wake of foam.

It was well that it did not happen to take our little vessel in its
track, for it would certainly have left us some unpleasing mementoes of
its visit.



CHAPTER XII

RIGHT THROUGH THE BLOCKADE


By next morning the barometer had fallen another tenth. Dirty-gray
storm-clouds were slowly moving up from the west. From time to time
faint cat's-paws appeared upon the water, now from the north, now from
the west, and again from a south-westerly direction. That was very
satisfactory, for it meant beyond all doubt, an early change of weather.
The second-officer searched the horizon keenly with his glasses, and
then muttered something to himself.

'I'm betting on a north-wester,' said I, 'with rain, and perhaps also
fog. Can't you smell anything?'

The mate sniffed suspiciously. 'I don't think I'll take you,' said he.
'I was just going to say myself that I felt as if----'

'We shan't quarrel over that, then! I believe I can smell the fog
coming. Wait and see.'

The eight o'clock observation gave us one degree of west longitude. We
had therefore, though lying to with engines stopped, been carried
westward by the set of the current, to the extent of a whole degree of
longitude. The latitude had only altered by a few minutes, southward, as
we had found a few hours before.

A dark shadow, which was now observable on the water, to the south,
made us reach hastily for our glasses.

Wind. South wind. It was coming now--just what we had been praying for.
A few minutes more and it would have reached us. While the water slowly
began to crisp under the breeze, the horizon line began to waver; the
clear, sharply-defined line which marked the division between sea and
sky seemed in places raised and undulating--the first presage of coming
fog. Towards ten o'clock the wind jumped round to the south-west, and
freshened. Light wisps of vapour began to drift down on our port bow,
and sometimes from right ahead. Half an hour later the horizon was so
dim that it was impossible to take an altitude.

'What about it?' asked Düsselmann, who was taking the watch, giving me,
as he spoke, a keen, sidelong glance, his right hand already on the
lever of the engine-room telegraph.

I thought a moment, then: 'Carry on,' I said. 'Half speed! Course,
south-west!'

The telegraph rang. In engine-room and stokehold things got lively.
Heavily and slowly the screw began to revolve, there was a churning and
frothing at the stern, and the _Aud_ got slowly under way. Once more in
the charthouse there was a frenzy of calculating and measuring; with the
result that we decided to proceed as far as a certain point at reduced
speed, so that it would still be open to us, if necessary, to choose the
northern route. But if, by the time we reached that point, the misty
weather continued, then during the night we would try for the
break-through.

By midday we estimated the strength of the wind as 3.[5] From time to
time there were light showers of fine rain. Pity that we were still a
day's steaming from the danger-line, otherwise we might well have got
through that night, for the moon was completely obscured by clouds. The
barometer fell slowly but steadily. For the present it was still too
high to mean an immediate storm, but if it continued to fall at the same
rate we might have more than we bargained for later on. For the present
we were well content. We were now nearing the point which must mark for
us the parting of the ways, and I decided for the southern
route--through the blockade.

The look-outs were now doubled. Even the cook had to 'stand his watch,'
and was greatly delighted at being allowed on the bridge, close to the
exalted beings who performed the mysteries of navigation.

Now, more than ever, the motto for every one was: 'Keep your eyes
skinned!' Ahead of us were the enemy outposts in imposing numbers, and
on our starboard bow, on the east coast of Iceland, enemy auxiliary
cruisers had also been reported.

Next day was the 16th of April. At 4 a.m. there was entered in the
log-book under the heading 'Weather' the following remark: 'Overcast,
increasingly misty, occasional heavy showers, wind, south-west 4[6],
freshening, corresponding sea.'

We reckoned out the course and the distance. It was still 150 nautical
miles to the line on which the enemy cruisers were patrolling. If we
aimed straight for the middle of this line, we should, at an average
speed of ten knots, arrive at that point at about 8 p.m.

That was good luck for us, for 8 p.m. is, on all ships, the hour for a
change of watch, and at such times the men's attention is bound to be a
little distracted. Moreover, the day was a Sunday. And on Sunday, in
English ships, every one would certainly do himself a little extra well,
with the aid of whisky and similar good things. Up here, too, that was
especially to be expected. For the men on a remote outpost station like
this, who were doubtless not relieved too frequently, in their
monotonous but trying duty, that was almost the only pleasure which they
had a chance to enjoy. Moreover, in view of the overcast weather, it was
pretty certain that by eight o'clock it would be already growing dark.
By dawn we could be sixty miles beyond the enemy line, and of course far
out of sight.

'Full speed ahead!' Now for it!

The farther west we steamed, the more the wind and sea increased in
strength. Spray began to dash over the bows, and soon forced us to seek
the protection of our oilskins. The afternoon brought a very pleasant
surprise, for the rain quite slowly and imperceptibly transformed itself
into a real undeniable fog, which grew thicker and thicker. By 4 p.m.
one could scarcely see half a mile. Our chances were improving from
minute to minute. Were we really to have such luck? It was scarcely
believable.

We steamed south-west at full speed. Any one seeing us would have
thought that we must have come out of the Polar Sea. Even in peace time
that would have been unusual; how much more so now in time of war.

What would happen, then, if an Englishman suddenly jumped out of the fog
upon us? We could scarcely expect him to believe that we were nothing
but a harmless collier!

By six o'clock the visibility was down to three or four ship's lengths
at most. The whole ship's company was on the look-out. No one thought of
sleep; excitement kept us all alert. Gray and heavy lay the fog upon the
water. Nothing was to be seen or heard. The uncanny stillness pressed
like an incubus upon our excited nerves. Our binoculars were hardly ever
away from our eyes. Every other moment we thought we heard or saw
something abnormal. Meanwhile, the Aud was thrashing more and more
heavily through the rising sea. Big white caps broke against her bow,
the spray was thrown up over bridge and funnel. Every moment, as the
ship drove onward towards the enemy's line, the tension grew. We
scarcely dared to breathe.

'Time, please?'

'Seven-ten, captain,' came the whispered reply.

'Sharp look-out ahead. We're close on the line.'

It was odd to see how every man, as though to see farther, craned his
neck forward, as he sought to pierce the thick veil ahead.

The minute-hand marked 7.15. The minutes were passing much too slowly
for us.

But what was that? 'Hard a-port!' 'Increase speed to the utmost!'
'Emergency stations!'

The wheel flew over to port with a jerk, the wires of the engine-room
telegraph underneath the deck-planks creaked as though they would break.
As a startled sea-bird sheers away, so the _Aud_ shoots in a sudden
curve to port, while to starboard, not two cables' lengths off, a dark,
black-gray mass looms ghostly out of the fog.

Damnation! An auxiliary cruiser! Her silhouette became clearer--two
masts, high upper works, a thick funnel.

'Half speed!' 'Course, south-by-west!' There is no possibility of escape
by flight. We are discovered, for the English ship, which I estimated
roughly as of 10,000 tons, alters course at the same moment, and steams
along parallel to us, scarcely 200 yards away. She must be going at
reduced speed, for she keeps obstinately just abreast of us. The comedy
is about to begin.

At the first alarm, the 'watch below'--who had all been keeping a
look-out on deck--hurry away to their bunks, the suspicious objects are
hidden; we on the bridge, with beating hearts but outwardly cool and
collected, tramp up and down with our hands in our pockets,
expectorating freely and smoking like chimneys. There is nothing to
indicate that we are in the least perturbed by the appearance of the
cruiser. Dully, as if it was all a matter of course, we take an
occasional glance ahead through our glasses, tooting every couple of
minutes, like the simple merchantman we are, with our hoarse steam
siren, in dutiful obedience to the rules laid down for warning-signals
during fog. To the unwelcome stranger we scarcely give a glance. The
crew of a tramp are apt to be indifferent. Thus, for an appreciable
time, we steam quietly along, side by side, neither making any overtures
to the other.

I am, of course, burning to know what the Englishman is up to. In order
to make unobtrusive investigations--it is evident that all the available
binoculars on the cruiser were being turned on us--I send my
second-officer into the charthouse. The observations which he makes
through the charthouse window he then communicates to me on the bridge
through the voice-pipe. 'Several large guns forward--same aft,' is the
tenor of his first report.

Gradually, over yonder on the cruiser, things begin to liven up. More
and more men appear on deck, and stare hard at us.

'Our reckoning was right to a hair, any way,' opines the second-officer,
with a sarcastic grin--small consolation in the present circumstances.
We wait and wait for a signal from the Englishman, ordering us to stop,
or a round of blank fired for the same purpose; but nothing of the kind
happens.

Damn it all, is the fellow going to escort us in to the Faroes? It
almost looks like it, for those rocky islands must lie right ahead,
though still a day's steaming from here.

Time goes on, and we still wait, bracing ourselves for what may come.
When the chronometer shows 7.30 I order 'seven bells' to be loudly and
clearly struck on the ship's bell. We had, for good and sufficient
reasons, hitherto pointedly neglected this universal usage of board-ship
life. The men standing watching us at the cruiser's rail gradually drift
away again. A dirty little collier is, of course, no very interesting
object. Moreover, it is cold and wet on deck, and at eight o'clock the
watch will be changed. Perhaps, also, a tot of steaming grog is being
served out below.

It began to grow dusk. In order to confirm the Britisher in his
conviction of our innocent character, I gave orders to light the
masthead light and side lights. The English and Norwegian signal books
lay ready to our hand on the flag-locker. We had already looked up the
signals that we were likely to want. But it was all for nothing. No
activity was to be observed either in the neighbourhood of the guns or
of the boats. Gradually even the bridge was left to the sole tenancy of
the officers of the watch.

Was the Britisher keeping some big surprise up his sleeve, or did he
really take us for what we pretended to be? That they could read clearly
on our side. The course, however, on which they found us might surely
have given them food for thought. Did they really not find anything
curious in the idea that a ship of our type should be coming straight
from the North Pole?

I must confess that the conduct of this English auxiliary
cruiser--whose name, unfortunately, we could not make out, as it had
been painted over, was one of the greatest puzzles of my life, and has
remained so to this day.

Eight bells. Change of watch. On board the English ship also the new
watch came on deck. She was now so close to us that every movement on
her deck could be seen, although it was now growing perceptibly darker.
Good God! If we had only had a torpedo or a submarine in attendance; a
more favourable opportunity for a hit with a torpedo could hardly be
imagined. Boof! the cruiser buries her nose deep in a sea and takes a
considerable quantity of water over her bows, to come pouring in great
streams out of her forward scuttles.

'I believe the fellow funks the weather,' said one of my men.

Well, that was always a possibility. With the sea then running--the wind
had increased to force 5 or 6[7]--the Britisher may not have fancied
getting out a boat with a prize crew. Moreover, the day was Sunday.
Perhaps his idea was to escort us till we fell in with the cruiser on
the next station southward, and leave the job to her. However, if it
came to taking a prize crew on board, we thought we knew how to deal
with them.

In the end the Britisher began to get on my nerves. I considered whether
it would be advisable to signal to him with the Morse lamp, asking for
our exact position.

Somehow or other I must find out what he wanted with us. By pretending
that, owing to the fog, we had been unable to get our exact position for
a long time, I might perhaps be able to break through his reserve.

Then, suddenly, we saw the Britisher increase his speed, shoot ahead of
us for about three hundred yards, and then, putting her helm hard over,
swing across our bows and take a SSE. course. Oho! thought we, now
something's going to happen.

But the Britisher had no idea of coming to close quarters with us.
Farther and farther he drew away from us in a southerly direction. Soon
he had faded into the fog so completely that all we could see of him was
a formless dark blur. We could hardly trust our eyes. But when shortly
afterwards even the dark blur disappeared and nothing was to be seen but
fog, and yet more fog, a joyful exclamation broke from us all. 'We're
safely through!'

It was now a question of putting our best foot forward and making
ourselves scarce. Once more the engine-room telegraph rang 'Full speed
ahead!' the lights were once more extinguished, and at the best speed we
could make, we steamed north-west.

'My belief is,' said Düsselmann, with a grin, 'the fellow was honestly
sorry for us. I'll bet he said to himself, "Hope the old tub will make
her next port safely anyhow!"'

It was a possible explanation. He had been guilty of an unpardonable
error; but no one had better reason to pardon him than we.

It was eight o'clock when he left us, after keeping us company for
exactly an hour. What we had now to do was to get ourselves as quickly
as possible out of the neighbourhood of the cruiser line. There was a
possibility, too, of pursuit by fast destroyers, for our cruiser might
later become aware of his stupidity. During the next hour, too, we had
to reckon with a possible encounter with an auxiliary cruiser a little
out of her course, for in fog it is no easy matter to keep station, with
wind, sea, and current all playing tricks with one--as I knew only too
well from my outpost service.

It was only three hours later, when nothing had happened in the
meantime, that I ventured to steer a westerly course again.

We were now in the North Atlantic--a long stage nearer our goal.

Towards midnight it was blowing so hard that we had to lash down
everything movable on deck to prevent the seas that came aboard us doing
any damage. On both sides of the deck I had life-lines stretched to hold
on to. The wind had meantime veered round to the west, and later on to
north-west. The fog had disappeared. Showers of rain swept over us at
constantly shorter intervals. The barometer was falling with notable
rapidity. These were sure signs of the approach of a north-wester.

The little _Aud_ thrashed her way more and more heavily through the
confused sea, shaking off indignantly the masses of water which came
swishing over her bows. Her blunt bows and the unusual height of her
upper-works offered too much resistance to the wind. It was no wonder
that our speed fell gradually from ten knots to five, and afterwards to
four. We scarcely seemed to be making any headway at all.

Not to lose way too much, I put her on a more southerly course, but only
so much as would still keep me clear of the blockade line which was
stationed westward of the Hebrides. Even in the thickest fog one was
never quite safe from the English bloodhounds, and it was scarcely to be
hoped that the next we met would be as stupid as the last.

Wind and sea were now from the north-west--nearly on our beam--and we
rolled heavily. By midday the wind was already blowing with force 8.[8]
We could easily have more of this than we wanted. I had confidence in
the ship, which was staunch and seaworthy enough to ride out even a
heavy storm; what worried me was the cargo. As has already been
mentioned, this had not been as well stowed as under normal conditions
the safety of the ship demanded. With seas breaking over us all the time
there was no use thinking of re-stowing it; the holds would have been
filled with water the moment the hatchways were uncovered. If the ship
began to labour yet more heavily there would be nothing for it but to
lie to and wait for calmer weather.

The seas grew bigger and bigger, one squall followed hard on the heels
of another. The glass fell steadily. All the signs pointed to a regular
hurricane.

I had had no astronomical observation for the last two days, and
meanwhile the wind, the run of the seas, and the current (the last very
uncertain in the neighbourhood of Iceland), had doubtless carried us
some way out of course. How much, it was impossible to estimate with any
accuracy.

On the other hand, it was of the first importance that I should make an
accurate land-fall, as I could not risk having to feel my way along the
Irish coast, and to that end it was very desirable to get an exact
position during the next day or two. It was highly probable, however,
that the weather would not permit of an observation. I therefore decided
to lay a course for the Rockalls, from which we were now about a day's
steaming.

These Rockalls are a veritable wonder of nature. Far out in the
Atlantic, more than two hundred nautical miles west of the Scottish
coast, there lies a far-stretching reef, a sandbank with innumerable
little points of rock sticking up through it. The bank has a diameter of
about three nautical miles, and runs roughly east and west. At its
western end there rises out of the water a single rock, neither higher
nor wider than an ordinary two-story house. This rock is the only
visible portion of the reef, all the other ridges are covered, though
many of them are only just below the surface of the water. Where the
bank ends, the floor of the Atlantic goes suddenly down to a depth of
several thousand yards. Even on the big English charts the Rockalls are
only marked with a point about as big as the head of a pin. The
sailing-directions mention that in the course of a year dozens of ships
are wrecked upon these rocks and perish with all hands. It is a
veritable ocean graveyard. The soundings which the charts give on the
banks are few, and, as all the books state, very uncertain, because no
one has taken the trouble to survey this inhospitable island. The thing
to do is to avoid it. I knew, therefore, that I was taking a
considerable risk in making for it, even though I should approach it
from the west, and with the greatest caution.

It would suffice, however, if I sighted it from a distance; that would
give me a sufficiently exact position. So I hardened my heart and laid
my course for the western extremity of the bank.

By now the storm was howling like hell let loose, the squalls slung
volleys of hailstones down on us. The seas raged against our little
ship, which still shouldered them from her gallantly. Darkness at length
descended upon the furious raging of the elements.

'Wind-force 10 to 11,'[9] reads the entry in the log, made by the
officer of the watch at 8 p.m. 'Force 12' is the maximum. The scale
provides for nothing beyond that.

The constant showers of rain and hail added to the blackness of the
night. It was almost impossible to see at all. Suddenly, through a rift
in the clouds, the moon shone out. And just in time.

Ahead, about four points on the starboard bow, a dark shadow was
visible. No need to guess what it was, for already we could see, though
vaguely, a long, lean hull with several promenade decks, two high, thin
funnels, and two masts. Passenger liner or auxiliary cruiser? It was too
dark to tell. All we could see--and we noted it with some
satisfaction--was that, for all her 12,000 tons, she was making just as
heavy weather of it as we were.

In spite of the breaking seas that swept over the after part of the
ship, I reduced speed immediately. It was the only possible chance. As
luck would have it, a sudden hail-shower hid us for the moment. The
steamer carried no lights, and was going slow. Probably, therefore, an
auxiliary cruiser on patrol.

A quarter of an hour of anxious waiting followed. Suddenly the liner
seemed to wake up. Inexplicably, she increased speed and steamed away.
By that time the distance between us had decreased to half a mile. If
every one on board, including the officers of the watch, had not been
asleep, they must have seen us.

The British boasted of the watchfulness of their fleet; I cannot help
thinking that at the time of our break-through it must have been
hibernating.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] Light to moderate breeze.

[6] Force 4, _i.e._ moderate breeze.

[7] 'Strong breeze' on the Beaufort scale, which does not recognise the
'half-a-gale' of ordinary parlance.

[8] 'Gale force.'

[9] 'Storm force'; 12 topping the scale with 'Hurricane.'



CHAPTER XIII

OFF THE ROCKALLS IN A HURRICANE


During the night the storm increased in violence. A sea which struck us
broadside on laid the Aud on her beam-ends, flung every one on deck into
the lee scuppers, and swept away everything movable.

Caution suggested lying to. But the date of my rendezvous now gave me
only one day's margin, and the storm might last for days. There was
nothing for it but to go ahead, and chance the cargo shifting--though
the picture of those heavy cases in the half-empty hold breaking adrift
and taking charge, was one that did not bear thinking about.

To reduce the violence of the continual battering on the vessel's sides,
I gave orders to distribute oil upon the water, at the same time turning
a couple of points south. This had the effect of reducing the roll and
making the combers break before they reached the stern.

It was some relief when day at last dawned. At least we could see a
short distance ahead, and that was our main need, for we were now
heading straight for the Rockalls.

Of the one rock which ordinarily rose above the water, hardly anything
was likely to be visible in such a sea, and we could only hope to
recognise it by the surf, the columns of water shooting up into the air,
and the clouds of seagulls which probably circled about it.

The weather grew wilder and wilder. Rain and hail showers swept at
shorter and shorter intervals over mountainous seas, and made it
difficult to see at all.

In order to leave nothing to chance, since eight o'clock in the morning
I had had men heaving the lead, so that we might know the moment we
reached the outer edge of the bank.

By dead-reckoning--there had been no possibility of taking an
observation for three days past--we ought to sight the rock, bearing
east, about two miles away, at about 1 p.m. Allowance had, of course,
been made for drift and leeway.

10 a.m.: Nothing to be seen.

Eleven o'clock! Always the same picture. Nothing but wild, raging sea.
But it almost looked as if the troughs of the waves were deeper, the
breakers fiercer, like the seas over a shallow bottom. Were we
already?... No one dared to say it; only the constant use of the
binoculars showed that every one shared the same thought. But neither
rock, nor surf, nor birds were to be seen.

Twelve o'clock was already past. Soon, we _must_ be there. 'No bottom!'
comes, with monotonous iteration, the shouted report from aft, where,
under the direction of the first-officer, the sounding machine is in
constant use. More than once the men were caught by a sea and flung
against the rail. I shouted to them to hang on, and gave the order for
more oil to be poured from the bow. All orders had to be given, or
rather yelled, through the megaphone. The wind seemed to bite off the
words as they came out of one's mouth.

Then, just in the midst of a fierce squall came a wild shout from aft,
'Bottom! sixty-three fathoms.'

'Reduce speed!' 'Sharp look-out!'

Every one knew what was now at stake. Fifty
fathoms!--fifty-six--sixty-two--seventy--twenty-eight.' Damnation! what
is one to make of such a series? In the special chart, which lay under a
glass cover on the bridge, depths of seventy, sixty, fifty fathoms were
marked promiscuously, with the comforting annotation that they were
unreliable.

Alter course? But, which way? It was too late now to lie to, unless I
wanted to risk being driven slowly but with inexorable certainty on the
reefs.

Every course was as good, or bad, as every other, until we had once
sighted the rock. The visibility was now from 800 to 1000 yards, and at
need that might serve.

After a momentary hesitation I pulled myself together and determined to
hold on.

'Breakers to starboard!' came a shout from the lower bridge, where some
of the men were keeping a look-out.

'Hard a-port! Hard over!' Slowly and sluggishly the ship answered to
her helm. The seconds grew to minutes. Shielding our faces against wind
and water with our hands, we tried to discover where the breakers lay.
But all that could be seen was one continuous welter of foam. The waves
all round us, high as the side of a house, were breaking with a roar of
thunder and shooting their spray high into the air. It was impossible to
tell whether it was surf breaking on a reef, or only breaking seas.

Through this hell's brew the little _Aud_ held gallantly on. We were now
on an easterly course, and the seas, taking us on the port quarter,
swept furiously over the after part of the ship. I tried the effect of
increasing speed. It was no use. The only result was that the stern
created so much suction that the seas poured over it more violently than
before.

One moment we would think we heard breakers to port, the next to
starboard, but always it proved to be an illusion. It was the same with
the sunken reefs and sandbanks, which we imagined we saw from time to
time; they were only dark patches and eddies in the water, due to the
plunge of the breaking seas. All this, however, we could see only as if
through a veil, for the storm-scourged masses of rain and spindrift
blurred the whole surface of the sea.

Again and again, when the seas came charging down and leapt upon her,
the little _Aud_ lay over so far to starboard that we thought she would
never get up again; and when, on the return roll, she met an oncoming
sea, the port end of the bridge was often under water. Suddenly, some
two hundred yards to starboard, two birds appeared, low down over the
sea. Did that mean rocks?

'Port the helm!'... 'What in the name of Heaven's wrong now?'

'The compass!' shouts the quartermaster, hanging on to the spokes with a
desperate grip, to keep the helm hard over. God in heaven! Is everything
at once in league against us? In sober fact the compass seemed to have
suddenly gone mad. The compass-card spun round like a teetotum, whirling
faster and faster. It was only by the direction of the seas that we
could tell that the ship's head was now slowly coming round to port. And
the run of the seas was for the moment all we had to steer by, for the
compass was utterly useless. It pointed one moment North, the next
South-West, and absolutely refused to steady.

Meanwhile, from time to time the shouts of the leadsmen aft reached
one's ear, but they were almost unintelligible. In the end they made
shift to give us the soundings by signing with their fingers. But the
depths were too uncertain to give us any help.

Now, however, more and more birds showed up to starboard--fifty, a
hundred, whole flocks appeared and whirled wildly, with frightened
screechings, through the air. There could no longer be any doubt.
Yonder, a couple of cables southward, lay the rocks. We were on the
very brink of destruction.

'Hard a-port! Quick, man, quick!' I shot the words out with all my
strength and pointed to port with my hand, but no one understood a word.
The hurricane was at its worst and the wind whistled and howled so that
it was impossible to hear an order.

Fortunately, however, Mathiesen, good seaman that he was, had already
put the helm over without waiting to be told. It was our only chance of
clearing the reefs.

And now came the most anxious and perilous moments of the whole voyage.
It seemed as though we had plunged into a seething, raging whirlpool,
from which there could be no escape. The engines were now running at
full speed. We had the seas right abeam, and they did what they liked
with us, but that was the only course that offered the slightest chance
of getting clear.

When I look back, it seems to me incomprehensible that we came out of
that witches' cauldron almost unscathed. At the time, I would not have
given five minutes' purchase for our lives. I let no hint appear in my
bearing of how grave I thought the danger, but I could read on every
face the same conviction of our imminent deadly peril.

As though we had not yet had enough of the nerve-racking game, there now
swept down on us a fierce squall of hail. Veritable mountains of water
reared themselves against us, seeming to overtop our masts. Like
monsters opening gaping jaws to leap the next moment upon their prey,
they raged against our little vessel, hurled themselves on her decks,
and threatened to engulf her. The _Aud_ shuddered and trembled in every
timber. At every new assault it seemed as if something must give way.

Only with the utmost effort was it still possible to heave the lead. The
leadsmen, with life-lines round them, stood in their streaming oilskins
on the after-deck; and though thrown this way and that by the seas, they
refused to leave their post, though I had signed to them to come
forward.

'Thirty-three fathoms!' Then, at brief intervals, 'Twenty-eight
fathoms!--twenty-three--eighteen--fifteen--twelve--eight.' _Br-r-umm!_ A
violent shock ran suddenly through the whole ship--masts, derricks,
funnel, ventilators, deck-houses; in fact, the whole hull seemed to
shake and quiver for several seconds.

Aground! That was my first thought. We looked at each other in dismay.
The _Aud_ seemed rooted to the spot. She scarcely even rolled, though
one sea after another raced down upon her.

'No water making in the engine-room,' reported the chief engineer, who
had rushed, panting, up the ladder. He, too, then, had the impression
that we were aground. We put the helm over first to port and then to
starboard. In vain. The ship showed not the slightest inclination to
move from the spot. Suddenly I happened to glance aft, and saw in a
moment the cause of the phenomenon.

A huge sea had 'come aboard green,' and sweeping pitilessly over the
after part of the ship, had poured down on to the well-deck, flooding it
to the bulwark-rail. The scuttles had jammed, the scuppers seemed also
to be stopped up. The mass of water could find no vent, and its sheer
weight had caused the inexplicable immobility of the ship.

The reason we had not seen it coming was that we had all been gazing
over the starboard bow, where we knew the reef must lie. The wonder was
that no one had been swept overboard.

It was several minutes before the ship would answer her helm again. But
when she did, our spirits rose with a bound; for now, if we could only
hold on upon a north-easterly course for a short time longer, we should
be clear of the reefs for good and all. Fortunately, we had still
several hours of daylight before us.

For two hours longer the _Aud_ had to battle with the full fury of the
storm. Again and again it seemed as if she must be overwhelmed. And
always at the back of our minds there was the nightmare dread of the
cargo shifting. Then, at last, the violence of the wind began to abate a
little, and at the end of another hour the sea, too, had perceptibly
moderated. The worst was over.

Also, we were in all probability clear of the danger zone, so that I
could ease her by steaming at slow speed upon an easterly course. The
compass, too, returned to its senses. Whether its vagaries were due to
vibration set up by the shock of the seas, or to the influence of the
magnetic iron in the reef--which is noted in the sailing-directions--we
never knew.

By 5.30 that afternoon the lead had ceased to find bottom. We had
cleared the eastern edge of the bank. I laid a course, for the present
SSE. in order gradually to approach the steamer track on which, in my
assumed character, it would be appropriate for me to be found.



CHAPTER XIV

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE


Towards evening the wind jumped round to NNW., and fell considerably. In
the course of the night we sighted two more English ships of the
auxiliary cruiser type, but neither of them took the slightest notice of
us. Our luck in this respect began to seem a little uncanny. Could there
be something behind it? Did the English know about our coming? In that
case caution was doubly necessary, for if our plans had been betrayed,
there would be no lack of patrolling craft on the Irish coast.

My orders tied me to a definite time of arrival. This was two days off.
To arrive an hour too soon or too late might spoil everything, for no
one would be expecting me. We measured off distances on the chart. There
could be no doubt about it that if we continued steaming at our present
pace we should make Tralee a day too soon--an eventuality which had
appeared so improbable that none of those who planned our voyage had
taken it into account.

With the intention of running in on the evening of the next day, as this
would be the most favourable time for us, I steered south-east at
reduced speed, intending to approach the steamer track. So far, of
course, I had avoided it. While I was sketching out the plan of action
for the next day, there came a knock at the door. 'Well, Battermann,' I
said to the signalman, who entered, 'what is it? Surely not another of
them?'

'Just what it is, captain. Another of these Englishmen. Three miles away
on our starboard beam. We saw him just coming out of a squall.'

As I came on deck a long black steamer with narrow funnels was steaming
down on us at full speed. The first-officer had meanwhile given the
order for emergency stations, and was steaming, with the usual reduced
speed, on an easterly course. We might thus be supposed to be coming
from America.

'The "conjurer's box" is watertight,' came the report from below, and
the usual 'bag of tricks' was hurriedly passed down. It was high time,
for the Englishman was approaching us with alarming rapidity. He looked
as if he meant to bite us, damn him!

'Down, Hector! Down, sir!' The dog was barking furiously on the
forecastle head. They must have heard him clearly on the English ship,
for we, on our part, could hear the ringing of their engine-room
telegraph.

She stopped her engines scarcely five hundred yards away. Now for the
prize crew, thought I. But as I had no desire for a closer acquaintance,
I kept the _Aud_ waddling quietly along at a 'speed'--if you can call it
so--of five knots. We carried on meanwhile, as if the English ship was
not there.

She was an old Oriental liner of some 6000 tons burden, and somehow I
could not help thinking that I had seen her before. Suddenly I
remembered. Of course, it was on that very promenade deck that I had
spent a pleasant hour or two at a reception held on board her, in
Fremantle, West Australia. What a contrast the deck presented then and
now! Instead of the fair faces and gay summer frocks, which then made so
pleasing a picture, some dozens of English bluejackets were crowded at
the rail, watching us curiously, and where the comfortable liner
deck-chairs had stood, a couple of grim-looking three-inch guns were
turning their ugly muzzles on us.

Whether she perhaps expected us to wish her a polite good-morning, I do
not know, but any way, instead of her old tattered scrap of bunting, she
suddenly ran up a brand-new ensign. No doubt she wanted to impress us.
However, we Norwegians were far too phlegmatic to worry ourselves about
little things like that. And so everything remained just as it was
before. No boat was lowered; no prize crew came on board.

And yet the auxiliary cruiser did appear to be taking an unwelcome
interest in us. She came closer, took a good look at our starboard side,
and crossed our stern once or twice. Then she lay to port of us with her
engines stopped, but without making any signal. The gun crews meanwhile
had disappeared.

It looked as though they intended to respect our 'neutrality,' and no
wonder if it was a question of looks. As I kept quietly steaming ahead,
the distance between us gradually increased. On the English ship all
eyes were fixed on us as though we had been some kind of strange animal.
Then we heard her engine-room telegraph bell, and a second time she came
speeding towards us. This time she came up close on our port side and
... shot past and went foaming off to the eastward.

'That puts the lid on it,' muttered Düsselmann. 'Captain, let's make all
speed for Tralee, and steam right in with colours flying. If they don't
have a triumphal archway ready to welcome us, they're not the men I take
them for.'

Certainly, anything seemed to be possible to these English.

If only, I thought to myself, there isn't something behind it. The
business began to look queer.

Why did the English never ask us, as they were in duty bound to do,
where we were from and where we were bound for? Why did they snuff round
us on all sides as one dog does to another? Did they want to lull us
into a false security? And yet, so far as I could see, a betrayal of our
enterprise was absolutely out of the question.[10] I believed then, and
have since confirmed my impression that they let us pass in all
innocence. And that was a brilliant feat even for Englishmen.

FOOTNOTE:

[10] So far as an actual betrayal is concerned, the author is probably
right; but it appears from the evidence published in the _Times_ of the
25th of May, 1918, that some of Count Bernstorff's messages dealing with
the preparations for this expedition had been intercepted.



CHAPTER XV

PLANS AND DREAMS


As the barometer had come down with a run two days before, so now it
went up with a run, till it stood in the neighbourhood of the two words
that every seaman reads with satisfaction, 'Set Fair.'

The sun shone brilliantly, a light north-westerly breeze played on the
water. The touch of spring, the contrast with our late experiences,
brought us all into the highest spirits.

To-morrow the die would be cast, our fate decided. Why should we not be
gay?

I held a council with my officers to discuss the plans for the next day.
We decided to alter our appearance during the night, by carrying from
the charthouse to the engine-room skylight a funnel-casing six feet
high, made out of wood and canvas, and painted the same colour as the
deck-houses. If any photographs had been taken of us, it would then not
be easy to recognise us by them. I intended also, the next morning, to
paint out the flags and the name on our side with black paint, and have
the funnel and ventilators painted yellow. I had decided to proceed in
under the Spanish flag. An appropriate funnel marking was looked up.
Supposing that we had really been betrayed, or had been reported by an
auxiliary cruiser, that would at least delay discovery.

If we got through unmolested, and the Irish were at the rendezvous
punctually, the landing of arms _must_ succeed. At this point we badly
felt the want of W.T. apparatus. How useful it would have been if we
could have got into communication with Tralee and asked 'if the coast
was clear.'[11]

I had been concerned to read in the _Berliner Zeitung_ just before
leaving, that there had been violent disorders in Dublin, and that
martial law had been proclaimed both over the city and the whole of the
east coast.

Was that mere folly on the part of the Irish, or was it an astute move,
designed to divert the attention of the English Government from the west
coast? I had, unfortunately, had no chance to ask Casement about that. A
remark I had once heard him let fall, now made me uneasy. What if the
Irish had struck their blow prematurely and now the west coast too had
been placed under martial law? That might quite possibly knock the
bottom out of our plans.

We should have to wait and see how things developed. For the present my
one concern was to carry out my orders--to be at the right place at the
right time. As the plan had originated with the Irish, it seemed to me
unthinkable that they should not have made all preparations for my
reception. Since they would time the rendezvous by the English
reckoning, I had the chronometer set to Greenwich mean time.

My plan for the next day was complete, and I could now turn to the
further questions, how should I get away again, and what should I do
afterwards? I had, at various times, given a good deal of thought to
this part of the enterprise, and had a complete plan ready. It was open
to me, of course, either to make for a neutral port, or to attempt to
return to Germany; but the plan I had determined on was something of a
more ambitious character than either of these. It was nothing more nor
less than to embark on the career of a commerce raider.

My sole real armament consisted of a single machine-gun, which I had
obtained permission to retain out of my cargo; but the reader must not
begin to laugh too soon.

The whole plan was a gigantic bluff, but I had succeeded in convincing
my at first incredulous chiefs of its feasibility. I intended, of
course, to avoid the larger, faster, and in many cases armed vessels,
and confine my attentions to the smaller fry, from, say, 3000 tons
downwards.

I intended to mount four dummy 10.5 cm. guns, and I had procured before
starting a supply of maroons. My plan was, when I fell in with a
suitable quarry, to summon her to stop, training one of the dummy guns
on her. If she hesitated I would fire a maroon, and it was ten to one
that the absence of a splash would not be noticed. If she was still
recalcitrant, the whistle of machine-gun bullets over her bridge would
show that we were in earnest. In nine cases out of ten I believe that
the bluff would have come off.

We had every facility on board, in the way of planking, paint, and
canvas, for altering our appearance, say, from a well-decked to a
flush-decked vessel, and we had an extensive outfit of national flags of
all descriptions. There was no reason why we should not emulate, on a
smaller scale, the exploits of the famous _Möwe_.

I determined now, on the eve of our Irish adventure, to take my men into
my confidence regarding this further enterprise, and they responded with
an enthusiasm which left nothing to be desired.

The day was not to pass without its moment of excitement. About 6 p.m.
the look-out suddenly reported 'Submarine! Four points on the port bow.'

'Full speed ahead!' 'Zigzag course! Look out for the wake of the
torpedo!'

We on the bridge had meanwhile sighted the dark object, moving about a
foot above the water. English? or German? That was the question. To make
certain I steered closer to it--1500, 1000, 800 yards. The next half
minute must decide; and it decided! The supposed periscope was an empty
preserved meat-tin, wandering at large over the waves.

The joke was hardly as funny to the look-out as to the rest of us; but,
after all, it was better to see too much than too little, for we were
close now to the steamer track, and not very far ahead lay the Irish
coast.

FOOTNOTE:

[11] One cannot help wondering whether Lieutenant Spindler thinks that
an unknown call-sign on the Irish coast would have attracted no
attention from the English authorities.



CHAPTER XVI

WE REACH OUR GOAL


It was Thursday, the 20th of April. A fresh, glorious morning. During
the night the wind had died away. The air was still, and the broad, even
undulations of a north-westerly swell made the only movement on the
water.

During the night the false casing round the funnel had been completed.

In order to have everything ready for the landing when we reached Tralee
Bay, the camouflage cargo had, of course, to be removed from above the
munitions. This proved to be no light task, for the pit-props were
rather green and consequently heavy, which delayed the unloading a good
deal.

All hands had to turn to and open hatches, and throw the whole of the
false cargo overboard. In half an hour's time the upper deck looked like
a packing department at one of the big stores. Window-frames,
door-frames, tin-ware, zinc buckets, tin baths, and the like were sent
up in a steady stream from the hold and piled upon the deck. Boxes and
straw went into the furnaces, the rest was heaved overboard. Before long
our course was marked by a trail of flotsam and jetsam that stretched to
the horizon.

With a vague instinct that it might come in useful, I retained on board
a small quantity of the pit props--a precaution which was well repaid on
the following day.

While we were at this work an armed motor-ship passed us within six
miles, and gave us some anxious moments; but fortunately took no notice
of us.

The noon observation made our position 52° N. 11° W.--a bare forty-five
miles from Tralee. In about four hours we should have reached our goal.

I had, unfortunately, to give up my plan of proceeding in under the
Spanish flag, for it had taken us longer than we calculated to jettison
the cargo, and there was not time enough to make the metamorphosis.

What troubled me most was that it would be full-moon that night, and the
bright moonlight might easily prove our undoing.

The noon eight-bells had just been struck when the engine-room telegraph
rang for 'full speed ahead,' and the _Aud_ pointed her nose for Tralee
Bay.

The next two hours were occupied with the final preparations for the
landing. There was still a mass of things to get done. Steam-winches and
unloading tackle were made ready, the hatches uncovered, and in every
hold the top cases were placed in the slings ready for immediate
landing. I had a supply of pocket electric-lamps and tools for opening
the cases put in small bags, so that they could be passed ashore at
once, for, from the moment we got alongside, the unloading must go with
a rush, in order to be finished before the English got wind of it.

If all went without a hitch, I hoped to have the ship emptied in seven
to eight hours. If--that was the crux. It was, of course, quite possible
that it might come to bloody hand-to-hand fighting before all was done.

There could be no doubt that the harbour authorities and perhaps also
the military authorities, would come on board, as soon as we got in, to
examine the ship and her papers. Their questions as to where we came
from, and so forth, must be answered in such a way that they should have
no desire to ask any more--that is to say, they must be rendered
harmless; in case the Irish had not already provided for that.

It was clear that, even with the greatest caution, something might leak
out about our sudden arrival, and suspicious nocturnal operations.
Casement himself had told me that even in Tralee there were a good many
people of English sympathies.

The town of Tralee lies about three miles from the harbour pier. The
harbour proper, which is in a kind of outlying suburb, is called Fenit.
Fenit is a small, insignificant harbour, which is connected with Tralee
by a railway. This railway might be very awkward for us, for if an alarm
was given in Fenit we should have to reckon on the arrival of the
military within half an hour. For our main protection against them we
should have to trust to the machine-guns which formed a portion of our
cargo, packed in cases, ready for use. These must therefore be landed
first of all.

The men to serve the machine-guns ought to be standing ready on the
quay. I made sure once more that the explosives and incendiary bombs
were ready, and the German naval ensign was at hand. To make assurance
doubly sure, I had two additional masses of explosive placed in the
forward part of the ship, so that, if need be, nothing of my ship should
be left.

I then ordered, 'Hands wash and clean into No. 2's,' that is, to clean
up, and put on uniform. Only our caps, which for the moment we could not
put on, we hid where we could get at them easily. Over our uniform we
pulled on our old Norwegian kit. Each man wore a dirk and pistol in his
belt under his jacket.

Shortly after one o'clock the first signs of land appeared; long,
low-lying, bluish cloud-banks on the horizon, which little by little
assumed a definite form--the Irish coast!

There was not a ship in sight. I called up my men and gave them the last
explanations. Hitherto they had known nothing definite, though, of
course, they had long guessed that they were _not_ bound for Libau. It
was good to see their grim but well-pleased smiles when I told them that
now it was up to us to make good, and every man must do his best.

I told them that even their uniforms might not save them from being shot
if caught. They grinned knowingly, as much as to say, they've got to
catch us first!

Splendid fellows! I knew that I could trust them.

I explained my plans to the last detail. Every man had his allotted
task. The engineers, for instance, were told that they must be ready to
pump out the water-tanks to lighten the ship and enable her to get up
the shallow channel leading to Fenit.

As the last touch, the surgical dressings were served out, and the big
medicine chest, with all necessary materials, was placed in the
mess-room, and then I gave the order, 'Every man to his post.'



CHAPTER XVII

TWENTY-FOUR HOURS IN TRALEE BAY


The coast lay before us in brilliant sunshine. High, bare mountains,
seamed with clefts and gullies, with steep, overhanging cliffs, which
assuredly have never been trodden by the foot of man. Only at the base
of the cliffs, to a height of perhaps 150 yards above the water, we saw
a few green patches of grass and low shrubs. What struck us particularly
was the jagged, deeply indented ridges of the long ranges of mountains.
Gradually the numerous islands and rocks that lay off the shore came
into view. It was no very inviting picture. There are, in fact, few
coasts more inhospitable and more dangerous from their numerous reefs
than the Irish.

We sought persistently with our glasses for any sign of life; any house
or lighthouse upon the coast. In vain. There was nothing to be seen but
naked rocks. Here and there the coastline was a little withdrawn, so
that we thought more than once 'this must be Tralee bay.' But there
appeared on either side of it so many other similar openings between the
high cliffs that we became confused. That was a decidedly unpleasant
surprise.

Relying on my excellent noon observation, which could not be much out,
I held on for some way farther. 'Steep shore, deep water,' is a pretty
sound rule, so we could safely stand close in. With the chart and the
sailing directions open before us, we searched for the entrance. In a
quarter of an hour we had found it; having picked up the 'Three
Sisters,' a small, three-pointed rock on the south side of the
twelve-mile broad estuary of the Shannon. The coast here bends sharply,
first to the north-east, then to the east, and then in a wide curve,
back to the north-west again. The result is that, in approaching from
the sea, one at first sees only a long stretch of coastline, while the
bay lies concealed behind it.

I immediately altered course to pass close to the 'Three Sisters,' and
from there get my bearings for negotiating the entrance. There is a
signal station at Loop Head, on a small island on the north side of the
estuary, and I wanted to give it as wide a berth as possible. During the
war, this innocent little island might well have developed into a grim
monster bristling with guns. Certainly the signal station would be under
military control.

Just as we were getting a four-point bearing[12] of the 'Three
Sisters,' there appeared over the water on our port bow a small
triangular patch of gleaming white, that looked for all the world like a
distant sail. Surely it must be the pilot cutter already on the look-out
for us? I could have shouted for joy. A few minutes later, however, I
made the unwelcome discovery that the supposed sail was assuming
improbable dimensions, and it finally revealed itself as the actual
island of Loop Head, which I had supposed to be farther north. The sun
had played a trick on us, illuminating the western trapeze-shaped end of
the island so brightly that it looked in the distance like a large white
sail. Disappointment number one.

As soon as I recognised my mistake I altered course to starboard, from
which direction there was, for the present, no danger to be apprehended,
at least so far as we could see, for only naked rocks frowned down on
us. Slowly we worked our way into the bay, anxiously scanning with our
glasses every hill, cliff, and gully, but especially the surface of the
water ahead. The current, which set strongly southward, tended to force
us inshore, and necessitated constant small alterations of course. By
3.30 p.m. we had the 'Three Sisters' two miles on our starboard beam.
Loop Head was now clearly visible. Except for the signal station and a
few small buildings, nothing else was to be seen upon the island.

But--what was that to starboard? On a broad-topped cliff, some two
hundred feet above the water, stood a high signal mast with wireless
aerials. To right and left of it peered out half a dozen black muzzles
from embrasures hewn in the edge of the rock. The nastiest jar of all
was that these guns were bearing right on us, and that a number of
English soldiers were getting busy about them, while others were
observing us through glasses.

Damnation! I had not been reckoning on quite such a reception as this. I
at once sent below all the men whose presence was not required on deck,
and the oft-played comedy began once more.

Under the observation of the English field-glasses, which were now being
directed on us at short range, it was highly important to appear as
unconcerned as possible. Scarcely honouring the English with a glance,
we tramped solemnly up and down the bridge, in the usual manner, six
paces to starboard, and then, stolidly, six paces to port again--all the
while pulling at our pipes and spitting to the wide in the most approved
fashion. Meanwhile we steered slightly to the north, in order to get
away as soon as possible from the neighbourhood of the coast-defence
station.

When a quarter of an hour had elapsed, and the latter had done nothing
to make itself objectionable in the way of shot or signal, we concluded
that the danger was over for the moment. Only for the moment, of course.
To-day it was likely to be a case of 'out of the frying-pan into the
fire.'

Meanwhile, ahead of us, a little group of islands was gradually rising
out of the water, while on the southern and eastern sides of the bay a
number of wretched-looking fishermen's huts came into view--outlying
houses of Fenit.

The nearest and largest of the islands was Inishtooskert, our
rendezvous with Sir Roger Casement.

The die must soon be cast. With a keener anxiety than we had yet known,
we directed our glasses ahead. If everything continued to go as well as
it had done hitherto, then, at the latest, within half an hour the
pilot-boat must make her appearance, with the recognition marks that had
been agreed upon--a green flag at the mast-head and a man with a green
jersey in the bows.

On our starboard hand, almost on the sky-line of the hills, a
light-coloured building became visible, looking like an ancient castle,
with a long flagpole on the tower. Whether the pole was connected with a
wireless installation, we could not tell. The castle was screened from
the north side of the bay by a high wall of rock, which soon hid it from
us again.

We were drawing nearer and nearer to our goal. Now only a mile--now half
a mile--and we should be there....

4.15 p.m. We were at the very spot--exactly a mile north-west of
Inishtooskert, a long, low-lying island which was entirely uninhabited.

Now for it! With eager expectation we awaited the men who were to meet
us here, and on whom it now depended whether our mission should be
carried to a successful issue. For the last half hour we had had hanging
from our bridge-rail the signal agreed upon with Casement.

Now with the naked eye, and now with our glasses, we scanned the
surroundings. Nothing to be seen. Nothing moving in any direction. Not
a boat on the water or any sign of life. The whole neighbourhood seemed
to be dead. As there was no appreciable current here in the inner part
of the bay, I lay to temporarily with the engines stopped.

When another ten minutes had elapsed and still nothing was to be seen, I
began to feel a little uneasy.

A quarter of an hour went by, and from moment to moment our anxiety
increased. We waited and waited with beating hearts, silently hoping
that the next few seconds would see our wishes fulfilled. In vain. The
stillness remained absolute.

Slowly the minutes slid away. The half-hour's grace agreed upon was
nearly up. I got out my secret orders and read them through once more.
There could be no doubt; I was at the right spot, and exactly at the
right time. But where were the Irish?

My orders were, 'If, after half an hour's wait, none of the aforesaid
vessels or persons are at the rendezvous, and there does not appear to
be any possibility of communicating with them, you are to use your own
judgment as to whether to proceed in or to turn back.'

The half-hour was up. I considered for a few moments what I should do.

Turn back? No. Under no circumstances would I give up the game, so long
as any possibility remained of carrying out a landing. But how to carry
it out? To run in in full daylight, without having established
communication with Casement or any of his people would be foolish. I
might just as well make the English a present of the munitions.

Another point was that the channel beside the pier was only six feet
deep at low tide, so that, if I were obliged to blow up the ship to
prevent her falling into the hands of the enemy, hardly half of her hull
would be under water!

It looked, too, as if something had gone wrong. On the slopes of Kerry
Head, the northern buttress of Tralee Bay, and in several other places,
clouds of smoke were rising from the hills. Could these be warnings
intended for us? But if so, where the deuce were the men who had lit
them?

My whole crew had, in the meantime, gathered on deck, and as we were all
taking the same risk, I had the whole ship's company up to the bridge to
confer on the situation. To my delight none of them thought of turning
back so long as there was any hope whatever of carrying out our mission.
As we talked things over we came more and more to the conclusion that
the English had got wind of our enterprise.

The absence of the Irish might, of course, have various grounds. It was
quite possible that the wireless message announcing our coming had
arrived in a mutilated condition, or that it had been badly deciphered,
and that either for this or for the previous reason it had been obscure
if not wholly unintelligible. It was also possible that the code-word
which it had been agreed to insert in the German wireless news, just
before the evening military communique, as a sign to the Irish[13] that
our expedition had started, had been accidentally omitted, and the Irish
had consequently thought that something had occurred to prevent our
coming.

But it seemed to me on the whole, much more probable that the Irish of
the west had not been content to look on idly at the activity of their
brethren on the east coast, and had also themselves started
disturbances, which had led to the proclamation of martial law on the
west coast also. As I have mentioned earlier, this had been suggested to
me by a paragraph in the papers before I left Berlin.

If the Irish had really committed this folly, my task would be rendered
immensely more difficult, if not impossible, for it might be taken as
certain that a number of the Sinn Feiners concerned would be already
under arrest, and that the English would at least have got wind of our
intended landing. That might account for the sudden appearance of the
battery which we had passed shortly before.

But where was Casement all this time? Was he already in Ireland, and
perhaps already arrested, or was he still on a submarine which had not
yet arrived? Here, too, there were all kinds of possibilities. The
submarine might have had an accident and turned back; or bad weather,
or engine trouble, might have delayed the voyage. Again, it was not
impossible that the submarine with Casement on board had already been
here, and after finding how the land lay had gone back some distance to
meet us--perhaps to warn us. In the latter case it might be assumed that
towards evening the submarine would again return to the rendezvous.

There were certainly possibilities enough to keep one guessing, but I
felt pretty sure that the Irish in the west had broken out prematurely,
and the English, in consequence, had taken measures to deal with our
plan, as well as with the Irish rising.

Assuming, then, as the most probable hypothesis, that the principal
leaders including, perhaps, Casement himself, had been arrested, but
that those who remained would make an effort to carry out the plan as
best they could. It seemed most likely that they would wait for
nightfall before attempting to communicate with me.

I had abandoned the idea of leaving the bay again, and returning after
dark, as being too suspicious a manoeuvre. On the other hand, to
continue to lie here indefinitely would also be likely to awaken
suspicion. I therefore decided to explore the inner part of the bay.

At half-speed I headed for the shore between Fenit and Kerry Head. While
working slowly round the north point of Inishtooskert, some of the
smaller islands lying behind it came into view. Some of these seemed to
be inhabited, but none of the inhabitants were to be seen. We could now
see also the first signs of Fenit, a little pier with a lighthouse.
Behind it rose the masts of one or two small sailing vessels, and to one
side a congeries of brick buildings--the 'town.' The whole thing had a
depressing look. The only imposing feature in the picture was the ring
of high, bare hills which surrounded the bay. Nothing whatever to
attract our interest--Stay, what was that? Was not there a man standing
on the pier? There certainly was! At the base of the flagstaff, from
which hung the folds of the English ensign, there tramped to and fro at
the usual mechanical sentry-go, an unmistakable Tommy with his rifle
over his shoulder. Here, too, then, the military were in occupation.
Evidently everything was prepared for our coming.

In striking contrast to his warlike exterior, was the absolute lack of
intelligence in the sentry, who seemed to take no notice whatever of us,
though we were now lying, as large as life, only a few hundred yards
before him.

We looked in vain for further soldiers, or any indication of the
proximity of a large military force. Did they want to lure us into a
trap?

The pier was now so close to us that with the glasses we could make out
every object upon it; so, of course, everything on board could be
equally clearly seen, if any one was watching us. I therefore turned
gradually away towards the north, to have a look at the flat coast below
Kerry Head. Perhaps I might there find an opportunity to get in touch
with the Sinn Feiners.

After we had steamed all round the upper part of the bay, however, all
hope of this kind had to be abandoned. Though we showed our signals more
and more boldly as time went on, no one took the slightest notice of us.

The situation became more and more extraordinary. For two solid hours we
had been cruising about in the bay, it was beginning to grow dusk, and
there had not been the slightest sign from the land. The fact that no
one had taken the slightest notice of our presence, or of our peculiar
behaviour, confirmed me more and more in the theory that there was some
kind of a concealed trap. Neither I nor any of my men found it possible
to believe that the English really took us for a harmless trader, _as
afterwards proved to be the case_. Such carelessness was so utterly
contrary to our German ideas of duty and discipline that we supposed
this possibility to be entirely excluded.

We were therefore glad when night fell and darkness shielded us from
inquisitive glances. Instead of flags we now used a green light, which
we showed at short intervals both towards land and sea. Hour after hour
passed and nothing happened. Darkness reigned everywhere, even in the
town. Only on the pier there burned a small green light--the pier-head
light intended to show incoming vessels the entrance to the harbour.
From time to time we imagined we saw a signal light in one of the houses
to the south-east; but always the glasses showed that we were mistaken.

As midnight drew near, it became noticeably brighter--no wonder, for
towards one o'clock the moon would rise. I once more approached the
pier, this time within six hundred yards, and at the risk of discovery
showed my green light once again. Then, when this last attempt proved
fruitless, I steamed slowly back to the rendezvous off Inishtooskert.

Cautiously we felt our way along the cliffs to the anchorage. So still
was the night that even on the forecastle the stroke of our
propeller-blades could be clearly heard. It must have been an hour and a
half after midnight when the anchor rattled down into the depths and we
brought up in the shadow of Inishtooskert, in what seemed to us a
hiding-place well screened in every direction. If the sentry on the pier
was not asleep, he must, no doubt, have heard the rattle of the anchor
chain. But nothing happened.

The moon had meanwhile risen, but as we lay close under the west side of
the island we could count on being in deep shadow till close on the
dawn.

Hour after hour passed, and as morning approached my hope that the Irish
would manage to communicate with us during the night gradually faded
away. When at last day dawned, I gave up the game for lost. Useless to
run boldly alongside Fenit Pier, for who could suppose we should be
allowed to unload our munitions unmolested; useless to pretend an
accident to the machinery, for at once we should have a swarm of
officials on board; impracticable to send men ashore in a boat at some
outlying spot to make inquiries, for I could not spare a man, in view of
future eventualities.

And yet I hated to turn back. The one thing that gave me some small
consolation was to find that all my men were equally unwilling to do so.

Well, but, if we stay, how long will they let us lie here? We had not
long to wait for an answer. I was just discussing the question with my
second, when suddenly we were startled by a shout from the look-out man:
'Steamer on the starboard bow.'... 'The pilot steamer!'

With all our thoughts concentrated for so long on the coming of the
pilot, it was small wonder if, electrified by this shout, we leapt to
the conclusion that the small steamer which was now rounding Kerry Head
was actually bringing the pilot to us. I myself sprang to the signal
halliards prepared to hoist our recognition signal; but as I did so, I
kept an eye fixed on the steamer, which was heading straight for us.
That was fortunate, for in the next few moments she ran up, not the
Irish pilot flag, but the British naval ensign.

I personally did not hesitate a moment, but took to flight, that is to
say, in accordance with an arrangement made for such cases, I faded away
to my cabin, leaving it to the mate, Düsselmann, to stage the comedy
which was now to open. All but a few of the men had also disappeared.
Behind the curtain of my window I could watch comfortably the further
development of events. A loud-voiced objurgation addressed to some of
the men, and the heavy steps passing to and fro over my cabin told me
that Düsselmann had already taken up his rôle. I looked at my watch. It
was shortly after 5 a.m.

The first thing that struck me about the steamer was that she seemed to
be in no hurry, and that the men on deck seemed to be still half asleep;
the second, that the life-boats which hung at each side of her deck were
dummies in painted metal, between which was concealed a quick-firing
gun--a real live outpost-boat, therefore. On both sides of the bow
flaunted in large lettering the name _Shatter II_.[14] Her officers did
not appear to be distinguished for smartness and resolution, for they
stopped their engines while still at a very discreet distance from us,
and gathered in a group with their heads together, frequently pointing
in our direction--evidently holding a council of war. That lasted about
five minutes, then they got under way again, and circled two or three
times round our ship, taking care not to come too near. They seemed
somehow to show a lack of confidence in us. After a while they stopped
again, and I saw them examining us through their glasses.

Before leaving the bridge I had hurriedly given an order to get the
hatches closed down as rapidly as possible. The time had been too short,
however, to complete the work. In answer to a question through the
voice-pipe, the officer of the watch informed me that only hatchway No.
2, which was right under the bridge, had been hastily covered. That was
a serious matter, for almost the whole business was plain to be seen by
our English friends if they cared to look. On the port side, forward,
there were even a few cases of munitions, with inscriptions such as
'1000 English cartridges,' '2000 Russian cartridges,' standing on deck,
where they had been brought up ready to be landed promptly.

On board the _Shatter_ weighty consultations seemed to be the order of
the day, for it was nearly a quarter of an hour longer before she found
courage, after cruising round us yet once more, to come alongside at
about twenty yards distance. Then I saw a uniformed figure with
megaphone in hand preparing to begin a conversation with my officer of
the watch. This was apparently the commanding officer of the proud
warship. I inferred this from the fact that he ordered several of his
men, armed with rifles and pistols, to take up their posts near him, in
order, no doubt, to season the conversation, if need be, with a little
peppering of shot. This rather reassured me; especially when I took a
second look at the 'commanding officer.' An undersized, stocky figure,
with a typical whisky-drinker's face, the colour of which was scarcely
distinguishable from the red scarf which he wore round his neck. I had
at once the feeling that things were going to be rather amusing. And so,
in fact, it turned out.

FOOTNOTES:

[12] As this phrase is not self-explanatory--like cross-bearings from
_two_ points ashore--some readers may like to be reminded of the
elementary geometry involved in the method here referred to of
determining a position by the aid of a single known point. Having got
his four-point (45°) bearing, he would proceed on the same course till
he got an eight-point (90°) bearing. In a right-angled triangle, of
which one of the other angles is 45°, the remaining angle is also 45°.
The sides opposite these equal angles are also equal. That is to say,
the distance from the rock (which is what he wants to know) is equal to
the distance run between the times of taking the two bearings (which he
can determine by log-speed and allowances for current, etc.).

[13] A message of Count Bernstorff's, quoted in the _Times_ of 25th May,
1918, mentions that there were numerous private wireless receiving
stations in Ireland. The German news reports, sent out to all the world
by the great Nauen station, would be easy to pick up, and amid a long
succession of news items a cleverly chosen code word--meaning by
pre-arrangement, 'Expedition started,' or the like--would easily escape
notice, except from those who were on the look-out for it.

[14] This name does not appear in the list of auxiliary craft in the
Navy List for April, 1916.



CHAPTER XVIII

UNWELCOME GUESTS


The following interesting dialogue, which was conducted in English, now
took place between the captain of the _Shatter_ and my mate.

'Where are you from?'

No answer.

'Hallo! Where are you from?'

Again no answer.

'Goddam! I asked you where are you from.'

Düsselmann at last took the trouble to answer, and shouted across in a
loud voice, 'Good-morning.'

'Hell and damnation,' shouted the English captain. 'I don't want your
civilities. I want to know where you come from.'

'Then, first of all, would you mind telling me who you are?' answered
the mate calmly.

'I am the captain of this ship,' was the answer; 'are you the captain of
the _Aud_?'

'No, I am the second officer.'

'Where is your captain?'

'Sh! He is asleep.'

'Well, wake him at once.'

'The devil I will! The old man would half kill me if I called him in
the middle of the night,' answered Düsselmann.

'Very well, then, I'll do it,' the Englishman roared, and he went a
shade redder in the face with anger.

'What, you want to get killed?' asked the voice from above.

'No, but I'm coming on board to knock the sleep out of your captain. You
will see how the captain of a ship in the service of His Britannic
Majesty does it.'

'I'd like to see you,' answered the mate, with a laugh; 'let's see you
do it.'

One by one, nearly the whole of the crew of the _Shatter_ had come on
deck and were now interested spectators, while the captain, with much
circumstance, manoeuvred his ship to within a couple of yards of ours.
The deck of his little steamer lay so far below me that I could no
longer see the men standing on it. After a while I heard the English
captain shout, 'How am I to get up the side?' The laconic answer came,
'I suppose the captain of a ship in the service of His Britannic Majesty
will show us how it is done.' There now came a long pause while they
were doubtlessly wondering on the _Shatter_ how to scale the steep side
of our ship without the aid of a ladder. Then I heard the Englishman
call out--this time in a particularly polite tone--'Please let down a
ladder.'

'Certainly, with the greatest pleasure,' the mate answered. 'But I must
first call the crew, they are all still asleep.' Then he lumbered slowly
down from the bridge and went forward cursing to rouse the men. As he
went I heard a voice below me say, 'Goddam, this damned fellow is no
fool,' a statement which I silently endorsed. The crew of the _Shatter_
had apparently forgotten that they could support their demand with force
of arms. It was quite a long time before the second mate returned from
the forecastle along with a couple of the crew, who, to all appearances,
had come straight from their bunks. Then a ladder was let down, and with
much puffing and blowing the Englishman clambered up, followed by a
couple of his men. As they posted themselves right in front of my window
I had to quickly pull the blind across.

'Now then, where's your captain?' asked the Englishman; and I heard the
mate answer 'Don't shout so loud, man. If you wake this skipper you will
know about it. He is the most-feared captain in all Norway.'

'But it is most urgent that I speak to him. So come along with me.'

'All right,' answered Düsselmann, but you will have to go first!'

'No, you go in front,' answered the Englishman, who began to think there
was something uncanny about the business.

'Oh, all right then.' That was all I heard, for I quickly bolted the
door and made all ready for the reception while the pair were coming
along the cabin passage. Knocking, first circumspectly, then harder and
harder, they tried to rouse the captain of the _Aud_. Leaning my head
back somewhat, I answered a couple of times with a half audible curse.
Then there was silence for a while. All I could hear now was whispering
voices; and then the knocking began again. This was more than I could
stand. I pulled off my vest and tie, put my hair in suitable disarray,
and went cursing loudly to the door. In accordance with our plan I spoke
Low German, on the assumption that the Englishman would probably take it
for Norwegian.

'Damnation! What's the meaning of this confounded drumming in the middle
of the night?' I shouted in my deepest bass while I opened the door.

'Good-morning, sir! I am very sorry to have to trouble you so early in
the morning.' With these words my English 'colleague' greeted me, while
at the same time he carefully took a step backwards. In his left hand he
held a rusty pistol which might well have dated from the time of Nelson.
With his right he touched his grease-stained cap in curt salute. Behind
him stood, besides my mate, six English seamen armed to the teeth and
clothed in rather fantastic and dirty uniforms. I put on the sternest
appearance I could possibly assume, and then addressed him in
browbeating tone in English. 'If you wish to speak to me, be good enough
to wait until I have dressed.' As I spoke, I slammed the door in his
face. All this happened so quickly that the Englishman did not know
where he was.

There was quite a long pause before I heard him say to the mate, 'Are
all your Norwegian captains such bounders?' And Düsselmann replied, 'All
I can tell you is that this one is a regular Tartar.' Then he invited
him to take a seat in the mess-room, which the Englishman very willingly
did.

I now knew enough to be able to play my rôle in the comedy. The popping
of a cork next door told me that Düsselmann had already started the good
work. For nearly a quarter of an hour I pounded up and down the room,
splashed in the wash-basin, and joyfully anticipated the scene that was
now coming. Men of this description could be managed without bloodshed.
There was no doubt about that. My sole anxiety was lest these fellows,
while they were still sober, should go smelling round the holds. But my
men had cleverly understood the situation and had invited the crew of
the _Shatter_ to have 'a little drink' in the forecastle, so that for
the present there was nothing to fear from them.

I opened wide the whisky locker under my bunk, so that any one sitting
on the sofa could easily see the bottles of whisky and brandy standing
in serried ranks, and then shouted into the mess that I was ready for
the interview. The man with the whisky nose appeared immediately and
took the seat I offered him on the sofa. It was only now that I saw to
my horror that my uniform jacket, sword-belt, and cutlass were hanging
beside the washstand. I promptly threw the towel, which I still held in
my hand, over them, and had the satisfaction of noting that the
Englishman had spotted nothing. During the conversation which ensued I
was at first very surly and curt. When the usual questions, 'Where was I
from?' and 'Where was I bound for?' had been disposed of, the
Englishman asked me what my object was in anchoring here. I told him my
engines had broken down, and that I had been forced to make for Tralee.
He then expressed a wish to have a look at the holds. I was not
particularly keen on that, but as I dared not let him see that I at once
expressed my willingness. So we went on deck and proceeded first of all,
needless to say, to No. 2 hold. There I shouted to Düsselmann (who in
the meantime had gone back to the bridge after giving me one of his sly
winks), to send me a couple of hands to take the hatches off. They came
at once; and I had now reached a rather unpleasant stage in the
proceedings. The next few seconds must decide if the comedy was going to
succeed or if I should have to render the Englishman harmless.
Fortunately, no one could see us, for the _Shatter_ had in the meantime
made fast to our stern. The doughty warrior had forgotten his old pistol
in my cabin, where my servant Bruhns had no doubt already found it. With
nervous attention I followed every movement of the Englishman, ready at
any moment to knock him down if necessary. As I was a much bigger man
than he this would have been easy. I held my Browning pistol ready
cocked in my pocket.

When the first hatch was removed I gave a sigh of relief, for I saw that
my men had found time to cover up the holds in the lower deck also. So
the most important thing was hidden. The few pit-props which we had left
between decks the day before were now to prove our salvation. As soon
as the Englishman's eye caught sight of the wood strewn all round the
sides of the hold he asked what the explanation was. I told him about
the terrible storm which we had experienced, and how the whole of our
deck-cargo, as well as some of the cargo in the hold, had shifted. Any
sailor in his senses would have noticed at once the absurdity of this
explanation, for when a ship's cargo shifts the hold presents a much
more disorderly appearance than was the case here. The man appeared to
be as little of a sailor as he was of a soldier, for he nodded his head
and found my explanation quite reasonable. Emboldened by his ignorance I
asked him if I should open the lower hold also, 'Not that you will see
very much,' I remarked by the way, 'everything is so higgledy-piggledy
down there.' At the same time I placed a small ladder for him, and with
a gesture invited him to go down. Was he afraid that the ladder would
not carry his weight, or did he think the descent would be too
unpleasant? Anyway, he waved the ladder aside and said curtly, 'All
right.' Then, without another look at the inside of the hold, he related
to me how he had weathered this awful storm here in Tralee Bay, what a
terrible time he had had, and how, by his clever handling, he had
preserved _Shatter II._ from destruction. So excited did he get over his
account that he did not notice that I had shepherded him back to the
door of the cabin.

Thank goodness! At any rate I had now got him away from that dangerous
No. 1 hold, which, of course, was still wide open. In order to cut the
business short I now asked him if he would like to see my papers. As he
answered in the affirmative I pushed him into the cabin, and the next
moment he was again seated on the sofa with me opposite him. Then I
offered him a fat Havana and ordered the steward to bring two cups of
coffee.

This, of course, was all by-play, for an Englishman like this would
certainly not drink coffee first thing in the morning. So he turned away
quite angrily when Bruhns put down a large cup of coffee under his nose.
To my joy I noticed that the whisky cupboard had not escaped his
attention. He stared and stared between my legs at the locker, so I
remarked quite casually, 'Perhaps you would rather have a little
whisky?'

That did it. With an energetic 'You're the man for me,' he slapped me on
the shoulder, and with characteristic shamelessness started to go to the
locker himself and to pick out the best 'White Horse.' I let him go
ahead, and in the meantime fetched a big tumbler, so that his ration
should not be too small. Then I held out the water-bottle and asked,
'How much?' But the Englishman waved it aside, declaring 'No water! You
know we never see this stuff here.' What better could I have wished?

The conversation now became fairly lively, and when the Englishman asked
to see the ship's papers I very willingly got out my whole collection of
smoke-blackened documents. He pawed them over repeatedly, but I noticed
at the first glance that he had no earthly idea of the meaning of the
documents. He handed me a book to sign. I wrote myself down in several
places as 'Niels Larsen, captain of the Norwegian steamer _Aud_, with
pit-props and piece goods from Christiania, for Cardiff and Genoa.' At
the mention of pit-props he remarked cheerfully that this cargo was
badly wanted in England, and in confirmation of this statement he
emptied his glass at a gulp. Without 'by your leave' he at once poured
himself out another glass, and assured me again and again that the
coffee which I drank was very bad for the nerves. Referring to the
Norwegian newspapers lying in front of us, which were now three weeks
old, I asked him if he could let me have a few English papers, as I was
anxious to know the latest war news. He got up at once, went up on deck,
and going over to the side shouted an order to the men on his ship to
send over immediately all the papers lying in his cabin.

The conversation now turned on the events of the war, with the result
that I found myself in the peculiar position of having to join with one
of my deadly enemies in cursing my beloved Germany, which nearly broke
my heart. I would have preferred to have knocked the fellow down for
some of the ridiculous statements he made. But in view of what I hoped
to obtain from him I had to swallow it all and chime in with him. In the
meantime my second mate had joined us, accompanied by one of the English
petty officers, who carried a huge parcel of the latest papers under his
arm. I now went back into the cabin with the petty officer, offered him
a whisky, and cast my eye rapidly over the papers. Chance decreed that
a paragraph in the second paper I took up caught my eye. It stated that
on Wednesday, _i.e._ two days before our arrival, by order of the
English officer commanding the Tralee district, several Sinn Fein
leaders had been arrested in Fenit on suspicion of being concerned in a
conspiracy against the English Government. So this was the answer to the
riddle! And the paper stated that an Irish pilot (whose name I have
forgotten) had been arrested on a similar charge. There could be no
doubt about it. It must have been our pilot, the man for whom we had
been waiting so anxiously here. It was no easy task for me to conceal
from the petty officer the difficulty I had in following his remarks on
all sorts of unimportant subjects.

Fortunately, the other two now reappeared, and I was able to switch off.
I handed the papers to Düsselmann, holding my thumb on the paragraph in
question so that he noticed it at once. At the same moment the English
captain clapped me on the back, and said in a reassuring tone, 'Capt'n,
you need have no fear of U-boats. I'll keep a look-out for you.' As I
did not at once grasp the meaning of these words he added in
explanation, 'Your mate told me you were very much afraid of the U-boats
and feared that you would never return from this voyage. Of course, I
can understand this in the case of a man who is engaged to a girl in
Christiania and is to be married in two months' time. But don't worry.
So long as you are compelled to remain here for repairs I will lie at
the entrance to the bay and take care that no U-boat gets in. And now,
in return for that, give me another drink.' Suiting the action to the
word, he poured out drinks for himself and the petty officer.

I am afraid my face did not give the impression of much intelligence at
this moment. Not that I had not understood his words, but I feared that
Düsselmann by his well-intended remark had done me more harm than good.
If the Englishman really should keep a look-out he might possibly
succeed in sinking our submarine, which might still appear at any
moment. The more I attempted by all sorts of objectives to dissuade him
from his purpose, the more obstinately he clung to this plan. 'Out of
gratitude,' as he said. Then he swallowed his glass of whisky in one
gulp, while big tears rolled down his maudlin face. It now appeared to
me imperative that I should have a few minutes' undisturbed conversation
with Düsselmann; so I summoned the first mate and asked him to look
after my guests. Making the excuse that I just wanted to have a look
round and see that all was well, I left the cabin, which was now almost
unbearable for tobacco smoke and the smell of whisky. Düsselmann
followed me at once.

We debated what we should do with the fellows. It would have been a
simple matter to overpower them and tie them up, for I now learned that
the English, who were sitting in the forecastle with my crew, were dead
drunk, and that the same was probably true of the men who remained on
the _Shatter_. For Düsselmann had had the inspiration to present four
bottles of whisky to the boat's crew. But the execution of this plan
would not have helped us, for we had no manner of use for the steamer,
and we could not sink her without exciting suspicion. Now, too, when we
knew that arrests had already been made in Tralee and that the district
was probably under martial law, it would be useless if we manned the
_Shatter_ ourselves and ran in to reconnoitre and try to get in touch
with the Sinn Feiners. This would cost me at least four men, and I
should probably never see them again. We were too much under the
observation of the various signalling stations to dismount the
_Shatter's_ guns and take them over. And there was no other anchorage in
the neighbourhood where we could do it. We therefore came to the
conclusion that the best thing to do was to make the fellows dead drunk
and then let them go. We dared not stay here later than the next
morning. If by that time nothing had happened I intended to try and
break through into the Atlantic and start commerce-raiding. In any case
I intended during the coming night to send a boat ashore, even at the
risk of being discovered. By this time things were getting lively in my
cabin. The huge quantity of whisky they had consumed was evoking various
discords apparently intended to represent 'It's a Long Way to
Tipperary.' And coming from the forecastle also singing, or rather most
damnable bawling, could be heard. Well, let them enjoy themselves! We
decided we would sound them thoroughly and then get rid of them as
quickly as possible.

When I re-entered the cabin the worthy captain held out to me a
photograph which he had taken from the wall, asking if that was my
fiancée from Christiania. I laughed and said it was. It was a picture of
my sister holding her youngest hopeful in her arms! However, I had the
satisfaction of knowing that the Englishmen were quite convinced of our
Norwegian nationality. They had now got to brandy I noticed. If they
continued to mix their drinks in this fashion they would assuredly die
of alcoholic poisoning. The captain, although speech had become a matter
of some difficulty to him, was getting more and more loquacious. Between
his hiccoughs he told us that he was on outpost duty here, but that he
made himself quite comfortable all the same. Two hours before dark at
the very latest he always proceeded to a quiet anchorage behind Kerry
Head in order to be able to sleep in comfort. His crew, too, he added,
were all in favour of a good night's sleep! The only privation they
suffered was lack of whisky, this being strictly prohibited on British
warships. That, he said, was the reason why he was so glad to seize this
opportunity and to find so kind a host. I nodded benevolently, and asked
him how long he had been stationed here. 'Not very long,' he replied. 'I
was sent here a couple of weeks ago from Aberdeen, mainly in order to
intercept a German steamer which is expected to arrive here at any
moment.'

We of the _Aud_ involuntarily glanced at each other--the business was
getting more and more interesting every moment. When I had recovered
from my first astonishment I asked a few questions. 'Yes, I suppose you
think the Germans don't break through the blockade,' said the captain.
'Well, I assure you they do. Look at the _Möwe_, for instance. She got
back all right.' And in order to wash out the impression which the
return of the _Möwe_ made on his English sailor's heart he hastily took
a big drink, the whisky trickling down from the corners of his mouth.
Then he went on again: 'Look here, I will tell you how it is. You
Norwegians are good fellows; so there is no harm in my telling you,
although it is really supposed to remain absolutely secret. Well, we,
that is to say, the Naval Staff, have discovered that these damned
swine, the Germans, want to join the Irish in bringing about a
revolution. That is why they chose me in order to capture the auxiliary
cruiser which is to come in here and bring arms for the Irish. Look at
the harbour and the entire bay--the whole place is bristling with guns!
What a fine reception the Germans will get from us. Of course the
beggars are clever--but we English are a jolly sight cleverer.'

I could no longer contain myself. I burst out laughing, and the first
and second mate joined in. This capped all that we had experienced so
far! Fortunately, the Englishman thought we were laughing at the
stupidity of the Germans, for he repeated again and again, 'Yes, they
are terribly stupid, in spite of all their cunning!' I now knew all I
wanted to know. I rushed to the locker, and telling this splendid,
clever Englishman that I wished him the very best of luck on his quest,
I got out another half-dozen bottles of whisky and a box of cigars,
which I presented to him and his brave crew as a token of my respect. He
himself was incapable of carrying the bottles, so we stuffed them in his
pockets and those of his petty officer, telling the gentlemen that we
must now get to work and must beg them to leave the ship. And they, with
a loving look at their presents, declared their readiness to go. As he
was getting up the captain beckoned to me, and, with his hand to my ear,
hiccoughed, 'If by any chance you catch sight of the German cruiser out
there be careful that she does not sink you. Inform a signalling station
at once, or one of our many cruisers which are waiting in the offing for
her. You will be well rewarded by the Government. I tell you that as
a--friend!' I laughed, and promised to do so, and then pushed the two of
them out. I stood upon no ceremony in dismissing the horribly drunken
pair. The rest I left to my crew, and in about ten minutes Düsselmann
was able to report to me that all the English, dead drunk, had left the
ship, and that _Shatter II._ was steering a zigzag course for the mouth
of the bay. Later we found out that he kept his word and kept watch for
us against submarines at a distance of five miles. Poor unsuspecting
fool!

The first thing I did then was to sit down in the cabin in order to
regain my breath, cool down, and collect my thoughts. We had entertained
our guests for two solid hours! If I had been told that in six weeks the
world would come to an end I might have believed it. But if any man had
told me that in my own cabin the captain of an English outpost boat
would warn me against myself I should have thought him mad. What we had
just gone through was so incredibly funny that I might have thought it a
dream if the statement of the _Shatter_ captain had not reminded us of
the seriousness of our position. And very serious it was.

All hope of landing or of communicating with the Sinn Feiners had now
disappeared. There was treachery about! Danger on all sides, whichever
way I looked! We had chanced into a wasp's nest and could count
ourselves lucky if we got out again in the next twenty-four hours. I
summoned the whole crew to the upper deck and outlined my scheme. In
order at any rate to save my valuable cargo I proposed to leave the bay
immediately after dark and try if I could get out thirty miles into the
Atlantic before the moon rose. Trusting in the luck that had till now
accompanied us I was quite confident we should succeed in escaping. Once
we were out on the high seas the future could take care of itself. I had
before my mind the possibility of selling our cargo in Spain, which was
only a day and a half's sail distant, or perhaps in Mexico, if we could
get there. To leave the bay at this moment would have been a blunder,
for it could not be supposed that all the English were such silly fools
as our friends of the _Shatter_. The signalling stations round us had
witnessed the visit from the _Shatter_ in the morning, but they would
most certainly have been suspicious if we were now suddenly to up
anchor and away, for they were not going to believe that we had run in
in order to enjoy the scenery of Tralee Bay by night. Also they would
undoubtedly have noticed that we had not yet been really inside the
harbour. If they should ask the _Shatter_ why we were remaining here the
explanation would be that we had trouble with the engines, which would
cause much less suspicion than suddenly clearing out and saying good-bye
to Tralee. We were all agreed on this, and I therefore decided to remain
if possible until nightfall. If some stout Sinn Feiner should turn up
before that time he would certainly make every effort to give us a sign
if nothing more.

As a precautionary measure I had the munitions covered up with ropes and
other rubbish and then had the hatches closed. You never can tell! Then
the chief engineer, Rost, and his men got to work and thoroughly
overhauled the engines in preparation for a run 'all out.' While this
was being done the forenoon passed without any other event of interest.



CHAPTER XIX

A STERN CHASE


Shortly after 1 p.m. we noticed a small steamer beyond Kerry Head on the
north side of the Shannon. The foam at her bows told us that she was
travelling at high speed. As she was holding a westerly course I had at
first no suspicions. She was still so far off that even with our
prismatic glasses I could make out nothing. I therefore got the big
glass, which had already stood me in good stead so many times, and
perceived to my astonishment that the steamer had a long gun completely
uncovered mounted on her forecastle deck. Her tall top masts showed that
she had a wireless installation.

Another patrol-boat, then,--but this time a much bigger and more modern
one than our friend the _Shatter_. I handed my glass to the mate, so
that he could see for himself. He had scarcely focused on the boat when
he hastily exclaimed, 'She is altering course--she's coming straight for
us.' I could see now with the naked eye that this was a fact. The place
was getting unhealthy for us, and we needed no time for deliberation
over our next move.

'All hands on deck, stand by to weigh anchor!' 'Have steam up for full
speed.' All hands were at their stations in a moment. The capstan
creaked and groaned in every joint. Bump, bump. All at once it stopped.
The anchor had evidently got wedged between the rocks. I felt as if I
were standing on hot coals. I had actually put the telegraph forward in
order to simply part the cable or to slip it, when the capstan started
to turn again. As soon as ever the anchor was free we started. Course,
due west! And high time it was, for the stranger was visibly drawing
nearer. We judged the distance to be at most nine miles. So long as she
did not catch us up we were all right, for we were still a neutral
steamer, so far as she was concerned. I had worked out in my head what
had happened. Loop Head had presumably warned the naval base at Limerick
about us, and the admiral in command there, probably not trusting too
much to his _Shatter II._, had sent out a bigger boat to Tralee to have
a closer look at the suspicious Norwegian. (A high English officer
assured me later that my guess was practically correct.) A flotilla flag
at her mast-head, and the fact that she altered course to south-west as
soon as we started, confirmed my conjecture. Her unmistakable intention,
therefore, was to cut us off. It was now more than ever a question of
legging it. (We could no more risk a second examination than we could
risk an exchange of shells in which we, with our old Russian rifles and
home-made guns would certainly have come off second best.)

In order to get full steam quickly, I ordered all hands to the
stokehold. I myself went to the wheel and kept the _Aud_ quite close to
the coast, for the rocky shore is here so steep that one can approach
with safety within forty yards. The dense clouds of smoke from our
funnel swept along the rocky wall and whirled into the deep fissures, as
if drawn into an airshaft.

The English boat was coming dangerously near. The question now was which
of us had the longest legs. We reckoned she was doing twelve knots or
more; we, on former occasions, had never done more than eleven. It was
therefore to be expected that she would slowly but surely catch us. That
was to be avoided at any cost.

In order to further encourage the men in the stokehold I called down to
them from time to time through the voice-pipe the distance between us.
They worked like horses, and after some time I was able to state that we
were keeping our lead. Why the English boat did not at least send a shot
across our bows is still a mystery to me, especially when she found that
we took no notice whatever of her constant signals.

In the meantime we had approached our old friend the _Shatter_, which
was leisurely wallowing up and down just under the battery at about 500
yards from the shore. She seemed to have noticed us at last, for she
turned slowly and steamed towards us. I therefore called the second mate
up on the bridge, telling him to keep his eye on the _Shatter_, and gave
the wheel to A.B. Strehlau.

We had gradually come so near that without the glasses we could now
perceive the guns of the battery trained on us. A lively exchange of
signals was taking place between the battery and our pursuer. And then
a signal was hoisted on the _Shatter_ also. Unfortunately, it was
impossible to read it for there was not a breath of wind. The devil! Had
the rascal been deceiving us, and was the drunkenness all playacting, in
order to be able to attack us in front in conjunction with the battery,
while the other boat attacked us behind?

For one moment I was inclined to fear some such stratagem, for it
appeared impossible that the _Shatter's_ signal could mean anything but
'Stop at once.' As a precautionary measure I therefore ordered all
preparations for blowing up the ship. At the same time I gave the order
to starboard the helm, in order to ram the _Shatter_, for I was
determined that if we went down we should take her with us. The next few
seconds must decide our fate. We were going straight for the _Shatter_
at full speed, but she made no effort to escape being rammed. What could
be the explanation? I gazed steadily through the glasses. Suddenly the
_Shatter_ turned to port, and as she heeled over for an instant on
account of the sudden turn, we read the signal. We could not believe our
eyes. From the signal halliards of the Shatter fluttered the signal I
knew so well in the old days, 'T.D.L.'--'_Bon voyage._'

I rushed to the helm, tore the wheel round to port, and anxiously
counted the seconds till the _Aud_ began to answer the helm.
Fortunately, the high speed at which we were going made the rudder
effective--but only just in time. All our lives hung on the fraction of
a second. In the very next second we shot past the English boat not a
ship's length off.

All this, of course, happened in much less time than it takes to tell
it. But the greatest surprise of all was still reserved for us. The
brave captain was standing on his little bridge holding on like grim
death to the rail. His crew stood, or rather lurched, about on the deck.
At the moment when we ran past him at full speed he tore his hat off,
waved it round his head, yelling like a Red Indian, and called for
'Three Cheers for the _Aud_,' to which his crew bawled an enthusiastic
response.

If at this moment I had had a couple of bottles of whisky by me on the
bridge I would have willingly thrown them to the crew of the _Shatter_
out of gratitude for this ovation; for there can be no doubt that the
conduct of the _Shatter_ crew at the very least made the battery officer
uncertain of his ground. (I heard later that the battery, in response to
a signal from our pursuer, was just about to fire at us while we were
standing away from it, but did not do so because the cheers of the
_Shatter_ crew seemed to indicate that we had been the victims of some
mistake.) Of course, we answered the greeting of the _Shatter_ with
cap-waving and a friendly 'Good-bye!' Düsselmann, in fact, ran up the
signal, 'X.O.R.'--Thank you. To cap it all, I dipped my flag, as we left
the most friendly Englishman I have ever met on the seas. None of us, I
am certain, will ever forget this moment.

It was not till afterwards that I heard from the crew that our lives
hung once more in the balance. One of the crew had mistaken my order to
dip the flag and was under the impression that I had said 'Tyske,'
which was our pre-arranged signal for blowing up the ship. He was just
about to break out the German naval ensign at the stern, and the chief
engineer stood ready with the fuse, when the mistake was realised. So
this little _entr'acte_ went off all right--at any rate so far as we
were concerned. Not for the captain of the _Shatter_, however; for I
heard some months later that the English Admiralty considered his
conduct too 'gentlemanlike' and deprived him of his commission after a
court-martial had sentenced him to imprisonment.

The battery now lay a good mile astern, but we were still within range
of its guns and our pursuer was close on our heels. We therefore had to
make every effort to increase the distance, which was, of course,
largely a question of correct steering. So the first mate took over the
wheel, while the second mate worked the engine-room telegraph. Down
below my brave stokers, half naked and with sweat literally pouring
down, toiled at the glowing furnaces, while the others untiringly
fetched baskets of coal from the bunkers. The engineers stood at their
stations in the engine-room, ready each moment to carry out the orders
as they came from the bridge. We were steaming with every ounce of
pressure we could get.

Meanwhile, the English boat had drawn nearer. The second mate at once
shouted down the tube, 'Get up more steam, the Englishman will be
alongside in no time.' And with a sinister smile he added, 'If you
fellows can't make more steam, say the word. The fuse is ready. But in
that case please label your bones.' The noise of shovels, the banging
of furnace-doors, and a loud cheer were the answer that came up from the
engine-room. The chief-engineer came puffing up the ladder and shouted
to me, 'Captain, if we go on like this the boilers will burst. The steam
is long past the red mark.'

'I thought it was long ago. But it's no good worrying about that, my
dear fellow. We must break through at all costs. As it is, we have still
got a chance; but if this fellow astern of us succeeds in catching us we
can make our wills.' He shook his head seriously. Then he plunged down
again into his own domain below, and encouraged his men to work as if
the devil were at our heels.

By now the wireless boat had come up with the _Shatter_, which was still
making leisurely for Tralee. To our joy we noticed the other vessel
carefully manoeuvring in order to come alongside the _Shatter_. This
gave us a good start, and we could see several people jump from the
wireless boat, which was letting off a white cloud of hissing steam, on
board the _Shatter_. What happened then was not hard to guess. But the
captain of the _Shatter_ will certainly not reveal it as long as he
lives. Unfortunately, we were unable to watch the proceedings from close
range.

After an interval of about five minutes the _Shatter_ went about and
then both boats took up the chase. But our pursuers had lost so much
time in laying their ship alongside the _Shatter_ that they had little
chance of overtaking us, for our brave little _Aud_ was now, according
to the patent log, doing more than thirteen knots.

The coastline now bent round towards SW., and as we were still keeping
the same distance from it, we were soon out of sight of the battery.
Keeping the same speed, we ran for another hour and a half, and noted
with joy that our pursuers were visibly dropping behind. The English
also soon saw the impossibility of overtaking us, for they suddenly
turned off to port and steamed slowly towards the coast, where they soon
disappeared in one of the many bays.

It was getting on for half-past three, so we must already have put some
miles behind us. When the engine-room staff heard that our pursuers had
given up the chase they greeted the news with three rousing cheers. We
all gave a sigh of relief, especially the chief-engineer, who lost no
time now in letting the steam down below the red danger mark on the
pressure gauge.

We were now getting near the mouth of the bay. The sea was studded all
over with little islands and rocks, some of which projected only a
couple of feet out of the water. One of the larger islands aroused our
interest. At the foot of the massive, rocky wall there was a
semicircular opening of natural formation so big that a sailing-boat
could comfortably go through to the far side. Unfortunately, the chart
showed so many shallows between these islands that I felt bound, under
the circumstances, to take the longer course round the outlying islands,
a proceeding which, at any rate, gave me more freedom of movement. And
that was at the moment more important than ever, for it was
inconceivable that the captain of the wireless boat, after giving up the
hopeless chase, would sit down and do nothing. So we were not
particularly pleased when we noticed a lighthouse with signalling
station and wireless installation facing the sea on Dunmore Island, the
last island on the south side of the bay.

Without doubt these people already knew all about our flight.
Fortunately for us, however, they were unarmed, so that we had to reckon
only with the fact that they would watch us and report every alteration
of our course to the nearest coastguard stations and ships.

The Atlantic now lay before us, and I had the choice of steering north,
west, or south. South appeared to me to be the best, for even if we had
aroused suspicion the English had so far had no positive proof against
us. The Norwegian flag still flew at our stern, and as I had told the
captain of the _Shatter_ that we were bound for Cardiff and then for
Italy, I thought it was best to keep up appearances while it was still
daylight, and to steer a southerly course. If a warship should then come
along we should be able to justify our course by means of our manifest.
Then, when it got dark, I intended to turn westwards in order to get
away from the patrolled coastal area.



CHAPTER XX

THE 'PHANTOM SHIP' IN A TRAP


At the mouth of Tralee Bay we met a stiff north wind, and here and there
the waves were topped with foam. A couple of small steamers deeply laden
were crawling along northwards, hugging the coast, for they were too
much afraid of the German submarines to venture out on the open sea. The
second one was a Norwegian--'like ourselves.' The name was, on account
of the distance, unreadable, but the shape of the vessel was devilishly
like that of the _Aud_. I wonder if this was the real _Aud_, which was
due back from the Mediterranean just about this time. It would have been
a nice _rencontre_ for us. Unfortunately, I was unable even afterwards
to ascertain the facts. The only information about our double that
reached me was a newspaper article some months later which stated that
the Norwegian steamer _Aud_, from Bergen, had been torpedoed and sunk on
the 2nd of October of the same year.

Favoured by wind and current, we were now steaming at a good speed into
the Atlantic, slowly but surely turning away from the coast so as to
raise no suspicion. Shall we succeed?... I would really have preferred
to see the sky overcast and a good high sea running. That would have
been the best protection against the English patrol ships. It was,
however, now and afterwards, most beautiful clear weather. Not a wisp of
smoke was visible on the horizon. We had still nearly four hours of
daylight in front of us.

I need not tell how anxiously we all waited for the sun to go down.

In view of our successful flight from Tralee the crew were already busy
with plans for the future. They thought we could now start at once on
our war with the dummy guns. They were so pleased with the imminent
prospect of commerce-raiding that they sang all sorts of lively songs to
the accompaniment of a concertina, and in order to avoid spoiling their
fun I did not let them notice how little enthusiasm I have for concerts
of this sort.

Towards 6 p.m., a smoke-cloud was noticed in the south-west, which grew
larger every moment and rapidly came nearer. Soon afterwards we noticed
a second smoke-cloud, and it came so close after the first that it was
evidently from the same vessel. So we had a two-funnelled steamer ahead
of us. Then the mastheads came in view, the wireless-masts, and the
spotting-top. There could be no doubt about it--she was an English
warship. We estimated that she was doing at least twenty knots. If we
now tried to run away at our tramp-steamer speed she would catch us in a
hour--if she did not honour us before then with a shell. So carry on!
only cool heads could help us now--together with a fair amount of
impudence.

The warship was travelling at top speed, and it was not long before her
upper works and then the whole of her hull came into view. It was an
auxiliary cruiser, one of the fast channel steamers which in peace-time
ply between England and France. By this time we were, of course, at
action stations on board the _Aud_; that is to say, all preparations had
been made for blowing up the ship, the suspicious material was all
packed away in the 'magic-box,' the engines were at half-speed, and I
myself was marching dead slow up and down the bridge. We were once more
the old tramp-crew of a few days before.

The cruiser was no doubt one of those which had been warned some hours
previously by the wireless-ship. What we had to expect this time was, at
the very least, a thorough examination of the vessel. And even if we
came successfully through this we should probably be escorted to the
nearest port, where the suspicious _Aud_ would be unloaded and her cargo
of munitions revealed. Now followed some minutes of tense expectation.
Only half a mile separated us from the cruiser. Her armament, consisting
of several 4.5 guns and a number of machine-guns, was clearly visible.
We expected she would come within hailing distance. But she did not.
Instead of that she steamed alongside us in a zigzag course for about
ten minutes. The signal we were expecting never came. Nearly her whole
crew stood on deck, gazing at us with curiosity. We went ahead as if it
were no concern of ours. But who can describe our astonishment when the
English ship, as if she had seen all she wanted to see, turned sharply
east and steamed off as she had come, at top speed! Now, what did this
mean? We had no idea at that time that it was the fear of our imaginary
'heavy guns,' our 'torpedoes,' and the 'submarines that were escorting
us,' that had kept the cruiser at a distance and had sent her off
post-haste for reinforcements! Unfortunately, these were not long in
coming up. The sun was now low down in the west and threw such a
dazzling glare on the water that it was actually painful to scan the
horizon. In doing so we soon made the unpleasant discovery that our
cruiser was not the only ship in view. Almost ahead, a little on the
starboard bow, another English ship was coming up, and to
starboard--yes, what the devil was that? Ahead, astern, in fact all
round us, we could see smoke clouds, which, as was soon evident, came
from other monsters similar to the first. All auxiliary cruisers, and
all of the same type. All the steamers of the channel service seemed to
have been concentrated against us.[15]

There was no necessity for deliberation. We were hemmed in all round,
and there was no way out. All these ships, armed with guns and
machine-guns, against our little _Aud_, whose sole armament consisted of
a couple of wooden cannon. And still these fellows appeared to be
horribly afraid of us, for they still kept their distance, zigzagging
round us. It showed that they expected at any moment a shell or a
torpedo. I really had to laugh at these heroes of the sea.

As nobody had yet barred our way we kept on our course at the same
speed. Something is bound to happen, said I to myself, for this can
hardly be intended as a guard of honour. And something did happen at
last. Shortly after seven o'clock the cruiser which we had first sighted
came so close that we could easily read her name--_Bluebell_. At the
same time she ran up a signal, 'Stop at once.' The other ships kept at a
respectful distance, their guns cleared for action. We were prepared for
all eventualities. On the forecastle-head the ship's dog was barking as
if mad. His instinct told him that he had to play his rôle very
carefully now. As soon as I stopped the ship other signals followed:
'What ship is that?' 'Where are you from?' 'Where are you bound for?'

I could not now give Cardiff as my immediate destination, as we had gone
too far off the course. So, in order to give a credible answer, I
replied 'Genoa and Naples.' For, in case of necessity, we still had on
board a number of doors and window-frames bearing this address. I had
retained them at the time with a view to building a deck-house in order
to alter our appearance if necessary. In hoisting the signal one of my
crew intentionally broke the signal halliards. This was a brilliant
idea, for every moment's delay might be important. Even if no U-boat
came to our help, the darkness which was rapidly falling might save us.
A tramp steamer like the _Aud_ could not be expected to have spare
signal halliards. In order to convince the English of our willingness,
however, we hung out, one after the other, from the bridge the flags
that composed the message. In this cumbersome fashion we signalled
backwards and forwards for about a quarter of an hour. Then came a long
pause, during which the searchlights on the _Bluebell_ were used in
order to communicate with the other ships. The continual crackling from
her aerials proved also that wireless was being used. Other ships had in
the meantime come on the scene, and the commander of this flotilla
appeared to be on board one of them, for the signals from all the ships
were now directed to this particular cruiser. All of a sudden the
_Bluebell_ signalled to us 'Proceed!'

We were prepared for anything--except that we should be let go
scot-free. We did not wait to be told twice, and in a few moments the
_Aud_ was again under way. In order to conclude the affair in the
approved manner, I ordered the first mate to dip our flag slowly and
respectfully, which visibly impressed the English, for they returned our
salute most courteously. It really appeared as if these English folk
were convinced that we actually were the Norwegian _Aud_, as we had
stated. All the same, I did not feel too easy in my mind as we steamed
away. I could not persuade myself that we had bluffed this lot also,
especially as they had not only been warned but actually been sent to
intercept us, as was clear from the catechism we had just gone through.
When we had gone some distance I therefore ordered the speed to be
gradually increased, so that we should get away as quickly as possible
from the enemy.

We did not need to worry very long. We had already put a considerable
distance between us. The cruisers had stopped and now lay like a swarm
of locusts in one spot, apparently holding a council of war. Eight bells
had just been struck, when there was a commotion astern of us. The whole
swarm suddenly turned south and came racing after us like a pack of
hounds. At the mast of the leading vessel flew the familiar signal,
'Stop at once.' For the second time I stopped the engines and waited
events--for unfortunately no other course was open to us. If we had not
stopped they would have set about us at once. I waited for perhaps five
minutes, and as nothing else happened in that time beyond the fact that
the enemy had come considerably nearer, I got a bit impatient and
signalled, 'Why?' Instead of answering our signal our old friend the
_Bluebell_ steamed to within 150 yards of us, stopped, and prepared to
lower the cutter. Two officers and about twelve seamen, all armed to the
teeth, had taken their places in it. So here was the prize crew at last!
A load fell from all our hearts, for there was an excellent prospect
that we might escape during the night while Fastnet or Queenstown waited
for us in vain. When I shouted down to the deck, 'Look out! Prize crew
coming,' the mate grinned all over his face. And others grinned with
him, for now, as they said, there was a chance of doing something at
last.

During this time the chief engineer was busy forward repairing a steam
winch, and in order to see if it was working again he let it run for a
moment. It may have been because of this noise, or because the English
mistook some empty tin or other floating object for a periscope--at any
rate immediately the winch started we heard shouts all round us mingled
with the ringing of engine-room telegraphs, and next moment the whole
flotilla scattered as if struck by lightning.[16]

Once more we were all alone on the sea. This was a cat-and-mouse game
with a vengeance. In order to put an end to the business I now
signalled, 'May I proceed?' The answer was 'Wait.' While the cruisers
slowly approached again, I signalled, 'Please inform me why.' This time
there was a long pause before the reply came. And a very unpleasant
reply it was: 'Follow me to Queenstown; course, south, 63° east.'

Curse it--they had got suspicious! Our fate was now decided.

With a prize crew on board, which would have been dealt with according
to plan, we might have gained the high seas during the night; but with
an escort of armed fast steamers this was out of the question. Even in
thick fog and the darkness of night it is very doubtful if we could have
broken away from our escort.

Now, as in the case of all the other signals, I answered first with,
'Don't understand,' for my only aim now was to gain time and try to get
them to put a prize crew on board. In that case an escort would have
been unnecessary. The cruiser really made every effort to make his
signal intelligible.

But the more trouble he took the less understanding we showed. We seemed
to have lost every shred of intelligence on board the _Aud_. In justice
to them, I must confess that the crew of the _Bluebell_ did their best
to help us; they tugged like mad at the signal halliards, and altered
course over and over again, in order to let their flags blow out in the
wind. But all in vain! Nothing could make us understand what they
wanted!

The English did not appear to notice that we were fooling them, for
(greatly daring) they came so close to us that the most shortsighted
could have read the message. But I only shook my head, held the
signal-book aloft, and pointed to it with my finger, to indicate that
this signal was not given in our book. Then the _Bluebell_ plucked up
courage and approached very, very carefully to within fifty yards of us.

While this ridiculous exchange of signals was going on it had gradually
become dark, so that it really was difficult now to read the signals.
The _Bluebell_ noticed this, for we now saw a man with a huge megaphone
preparing to shout something to us from the bridge. In order to
forestall him, I shouted, 'Shall I let down a ladder for your prize
crew?' Instead of answering my question, the _Bluebell_ sheered off
about forty yards from us, and her officers showed us by all sorts of
pantomime that they had no intention of sending a boat. My very friendly
invitation had failed.

If we had only known what a mysterious ship we were supposed to be, the
armament and U-boat escort that we were credited with, many things would
have been more intelligible to us. As I read to-day the English papers
of those days, I come upon the most incredible reports in regard to our
little _Aud_. 'The Mystery Ship,' 'The Flying Dutchman,' and other scare
headlines followed by the most fantastic accounts prove what excitement
the _Aud_ caused in England, and, above all, among the vessels of the
coast-patrol.

The other cruisers had meanwhile formed a ring round us. On some the
guns were manned and ready to fire at us. At the slightest hostile move
on our part we should have been riddled like a sieve. Aboard the
_Bluebell_ a diminutive lieutenant was now enthroned on the signalling
bridge, armed with a gigantic megaphone through which he continued to
shout, 'Fol-low-me-to-Quee-ee-eenstown.--South--sixty-three--east!' This
was repeated time after time, but always with the same negative result.

This farce might have gone on all night, and I was beginning to get
tired of it. And the English captain also appeared to be losing
patience, for I saw him sign to the speaker to come down. Then we heard
a few curt orders. The cruiser passed us on the port side. The next
moment there was a flash, and a shell from the _Bluebell_'s forward gun
burst in front of our bows. As we were directly in his line of fire we
were all stupefied for a moment by the violence of the concussion.

In plain English this meant, 'The farce is finished. Curtain!' As we
were not very anxious for any more shells (the next would most certainly
go, not across our bow, but into it), I shouted loud enough for the
English to hear, 'Full speed ahead, south, 63 east.' At the same time I
sent a message to the chief-engineer that I would hang him from the
yardarm if this 'full speed' rose above five knots.

We reckoned it out that at this speed we should reach Queenstown at ten
o'clock next morning. There was nothing left for us but to follow the
cruiser. Further resistance would have been useless. We therefore
wallowed along at a 'speed' of five knots behind the _Bluebell_, which
now took the lead, while the other ships spread out all round us. A
magnificent escort for us twenty-two men! The wind shifted to NNW. and
then died down, while the few clouds which were still in the sky
disappeared. With them disappeared our last hope of escape.

The _Bluebell_, as was to be expected, was not very pleased with our
speed. But all her protests (made by means of a signalling-lamp) did not
help a bit. The more his signals flashed the slower we became. The
conversation was very funny. For instead of using the electric
Morse-lamp we used a small paraffin lamp, making the dots and dashes by
holding a hand in front. This was, of course, an extremely cumbersome
method, and the ever-increasing rage of the English amused us immensely.

More than a dozen times they signalled 'Faster,' to which I replied at
first, 'Don't understand.' Afterwards I answered curtly, 'Impossible.'

'Why?' demanded the _Bluebell_.

'Engines broken down.'

Then a long pause--they were most probably debating how they might
compel us to increase our speed. After some time we were informed, 'If
you don't get up full speed at once I will make you.' This did not sound
very friendly, but I did not worry much, for I said to myself that,
after all the anxiety which the enemy had shown to get us to the nearest
port, they were not likely to fire at us. The most they would do would
be to send a prize crew on board, which was exactly what I wanted. Then,
even if the ships remained by us, their watchfulness would be certain to
relax. So instead of answering the threat I replied, 'Come and see for
yourself.' This was a piece of impudence, but it was just possible it
might prove our salvation.

To my chagrin, however, the English showed no desire to accept my
invitation. They resigned themselves to their fate, and we had very few
more signals from them. Our pace now became a crawl. With the patience
of sheep, they steamed along, zigzagging now to the left, now to the
right, evidently afraid we might discharge a torpedo at them any moment.
The various orders for altering course had all to be repeated about ten
times before we pretended to understand, and the _Bluebell_ took it all
without further protest.

FOOTNOTES:

[15] A few days later I learned through an English naval officer that
the wireless boat, when off Kerry Head, _i.e._ just after we weighed
anchor, had sent an urgent wireless message to Fastnet. The admiral in
command there at once sent out a whole swarm of auxiliary cruisers and
destroyers against us, about thirty vessels altogether. These boats, by
virtue of their great speed, were in a very short time able to form a
cordon from Fastnet to beyond the northern outlet from Tralee Bay. So
that we should have been caught in any case, no matter what course we
had taken.

[16] The English papers stated later, on the authority of authentic(!)
reports, that 'the captain of the _Bluebell_, on account of the heavy
seas, was unfortunately unable to launch a boat and send a prize crew on
board the _Aud_.' I wish to state emphatically, in contradiction, that
there was neither wind nor sea at the time.



CHAPTER XXI

WE PREPARE TO SINK OUR SHIP


Towards midnight there was a slight distraction. A half-flotilla of
destroyers relieved our escort-ships--with the exception of the
_Bluebell_, which remained as leader. The other cruisers again turned
west. The night was so clear that we could clearly observe every detail
in our neighbourhood. Northwards we noticed now and again the lights of
passing vessels. If only a submarine would come along now and cut us
out! But none came; and as the moon was now beginning to show there
could be no doubt that our expedition, which had begun so splendidly,
must come to an abrupt termination in a few hours' time.

I therefore ordered the crew on to the bridge and told them with heavy
heart that, if unexpected help did not arrive, I should be compelled to
blow up the _Aud_ next morning, as the ship must, under no
circumstances, fall into the hands of the enemy.

They listened to me seriously and in silence. Then they eased their
hearts by raining a torrent of curses on the heads of the English, which
proved to me that they were no less disappointed than myself at this
unhappy ending. All our brave and splendid dreams had come to naught,
and we now lay impotent in the claws of our deadly enemies.

During the short time which elapsed before the moon rose, we busied
ourselves in doing some important jobs. In the first place we burned
everything of a secret nature. The burning of our papers I looked after
personally. All valuable materials which could not be burned were
carefully dropped overboard. Of course, it was possible, though not
probable, that the explosion might not be effective; and to provide for
this contingency I had to get rid of everything that might incriminate
us. For an instant I entertained the idea of fetching up a couple of
machine-guns out of our cargo and mounting them on deck, but gave it up
again. It would have been senseless to attack our heavily-armed escort
with a machine-gun and risk a battle, especially as my crew were not
used to this weapon, which was of the latest army pattern. Each time
when we let some dark object down the side into the water the escorting
vessels shot away. They must have been horribly afraid of us. The
officers of the _Bluebell_ told me later on that they thought we were
dropping mines! All night through they had been expecting us to suddenly
open our gun-ports and rain shells on them. They had estimated my crew
at 150. What a pity this was not the case! Who knows what might have
been the result!

I now made an inspection of the ship and satisfied myself that all
preparations had been made for blowing her up, examined the explosive
charges, incendiary bombs and detonators, and then got ready our German
naval flags, so that they could be run up in an instant.

If an opportunity offered I intended to ram the _Bluebell_ or one of
her consorts, and then blow up the ship, so that we should not go down
alone. But it looked almost as if the English scented my plan, for they
kept at a respectful distance and instantly turned away whenever I
altered course even for a moment--a proof that they kept a jolly good
look-out.



CHAPTER XXII

THE SINKING OF THE 'LIBAU'


It was long past midnight. The moon was fairly high and it was a
beautifully clear and calm night. Under ordinary circumstances one could
not have wished for a better. Thousands and thousands of stars twinkled
in the sky, and there was not a wisp of cloud to dim their glittering
light. The sea was almost as smooth as glass, except when a gentle
breeze momentarily ruffled its surface.

The silence of this peaceful night was broken only by an occasional
subdued word of command or a whistle on the escorting vessels, which
unceasingly circled round us like sheep dogs round their flock. With
their sharp bows they tore deep furrows, which, resolving into
numberless wavelets, grew ever broader and strewed the surface with
millions of glittering silver specks. From time to time one heard also
louder orders from the various engine-rooms and stoke-holds, followed by
the slamming of furnace-doors and the rattle of shovels. And then, a few
moments later, the thick smoke-clouds that issued from the funnels of
the dark-gray monsters showed that the enemy was not asleep.

More and more numerous became the lights of passing ships, which, far
to the north of us, were making for their destination safe in the
shelter of the coast. And many ships without lights also met us or
crossed our course. These were English patrol-ships and destroyers
steaming without lights in order to escape the observation of German
submarines which had recently been very active round the south coast of
Ireland, causing terror and damage to all who had a bad conscience.

On board the _Aud_ there was absolute silence. We were all busy with our
own thoughts. And these were probably all the same. If luck would only
come to our aid just this once! But it did not come. The weather showed
no sign of changing before morning. The longed-for submarine, for all
our anxious look-out, could not be seen. Whenever we looked towards the
English we could see on each ship a couple of dark figures with glasses
to their eyes keeping us steadily under observation. Thus we proceeded,
mile after mile. Northwards, a long, dark strip, like a low-lying
cloud-bank, was now visible; we were approaching the coast.
Consequently, it was time we started to learn something about Queenstown
Harbour; for if we were forced to sink the _Aud_ we ought at least to
choose the spot where she would do most damage to the enemy.
Unfortunately, when search was made for the proper chart, it turned out
that we had special charts of African and American harbours--but none of
Queenstown. Naturally, it never occurred to us when we were setting out
that we should visit that harbour.

'Oh, damn this Quee-ee-eenstown,' growled the second mate, imitating
the voice of the English officer, which was still echoing in our ears.
The stout little fellow had not lost his sense of humour in spite of all
our misfortunes.

So we were forced to study the details of Queenstown Harbour on a
general chart of Ireland. Unfortunately, this chart gave very few
details. We discovered, however, that the average depth of the outer
entrance to the harbour was twenty to twenty-five fathoms. This suited
our purpose admirably. There was enough water to prevent the wreck being
raised, and there was still the possibility that we might obstruct the
channel if the _Aud_ came to rest in the right position.

As dawn approached, the _Bluebell_ altered course, keeping closer to the
coast, which, with its low chalk-cliffs, covered with rich green meadow,
was now plainly visible. 'We can celebrate Easter Sunday there,' I heard
a voice behind me say. It was Battermann, of course, the signalman of
the grinning countenance. And sure enough it was the 22nd of April, and
next day would be Easter Sunday! In the excitement of the last few days
I had lost count of time. At sunrise the destroyers considered their
task finished, for after a short exchange of signals with the leading
ship they turned and steamed westwards. The warships patrolling these
waters were now so numerous that the enemy judged us to be safe.
Nevertheless, the _Bluebell_ (evidently fearing some stratagem on our
part) thought it advisable to leave the head of the convoy and move to
the rear, whence she could keep a better watch on us, nosing round us
now on the starboard side, now on the port side, but always at a
respectful distance.

During the night I had ordered the crew to put on uniform under their
Norwegian costume. Their naval caps they stuffed into their pockets, so
that at the given moment they had only to cast off their heavy leather
jackets in order to be recognised as German sailors. The first and
second mate and myself followed the same procedure. Galley Lighthouse,
which stands below the entrance to Queenstown, was now visible. Shortly
afterwards the lightship (which at that time lay in mid-channel) came
into view. As there was no traffic of any sort in the western half of
the channel we surmised--correctly--that a minefield was laid there.

Fifteen minutes more and we should be there. The quays swarmed with war
craft of every description. In order to do the job thoroughly I had
ordered the condenser to be smashed before the ship was blown up. The
engineer had consequently let the pressure fall so low that we were
steaming, or rather crawling, not more than two knots, and our escort
did not attempt to protest. In view of the proximity of the harbour and
of the other warships they probably felt surer of us now. How confident
they were, and how unsuspecting, will be seen from the fact that during
the last hour they had been busy getting into harbour trim. Guns were
polished and covered with tarpaulins, ropes neatly coiled down and decks
scrubbed, and many of the crew might be seen in shore-going clothes,
brushing one another down. We could hardly believe our eyes when we
noticed their light-hearted carelessness and contrasted it with the deep
mistrust they had previously shown.

The moment which was to decide our fate was now at hand. In view of the
dangerous cargo which we carried above the explosive bombs, I had to
reckon with the fact that when I blew up the ship we might all be blown
to bits. I therefore passed the word that I required four volunteers to
blow up the ship and hoist the German naval flag, but that the others
were free to lower a boat just before the explosion was timed to take
place. A unanimous, almost angry, 'No!' was the answer--'we will stay
with the captain till the end.' It is a great satisfaction to me to
express here to my brave crew my thanks for their fidelity.

Moreover, to ascertain what the _Bluebell_ intended with us I now
signalled, 'Where are we to anchor?' And shortly afterwards I received
the answer, 'Await further orders.' 'All right, then,' said I to myself,
'you will soon see.' And I had the secret satisfaction that up to the
very end it was I that called the tune.

When we were about three-quarters of a mile from the lightship a deep
scheme occurred to me. On our port side a large English cargo-steamer
was tearing along at top speed. She was a ship of about 8000 tons and in
ballast, so that she stood high out of the water. We could send her to
the bottom along with the _Aud_.

'Port ... 10 ... 15.' 'Ease her a little.' 'Steady.' 'Keep her at that!'

Slowly and sluggishly the _Aud_ answered her helm. She had barely
steerage way.

'All hands to quarters! Ready with the fuses and incendiary bombs! Stand
by to run up the ensign!' Every man was at his post ready for the
signal.

We were now within 800 yards of the steamer. Then the unexpected
happened. Presumably in consequence of a signal from the _Bluebell_, on
the bridge of which a signalman was busily semaphoring, the steamer
suddenly put her helm hard a-starboard, passing us and the cruiser in a
wide sweep. So our plan of ramming her was frustrated. Our luck appeared
to be right out. Two hundred yards more to the lightship!--150!--100!
Eagerly we scanned the surface for the last time, but no periscope was
visible.

There was nothing else for it then.

'All ready?' 'All ready!' was the answer from the engine-room and deck.
The hands who were not employed were standing unobtrusively in the
neighbourhood of the ship's boats. These they had lowered to the height
of the ship's rail, lying on their stomachs so as to avoid being
observed by the enemy. It might still be possible to make use of them.
From the engine-room came sounds of violent hammering--the condenser was
being smashed, and there was no retreating now.

'Hard a-starboard!' The engine-room telegraph rang three times in
succession, 'Stop!'

This was the pre-arranged signal. With a last effort the _Aud_ swung
slowly to starboard and lay exactly across the channel. The ship's
pendant was already waving from the main-mast, and next moment the
German naval ensign was run up, bidding defiance to the English and all
their works. Jackets and greatcoats flew overboard. Three cheers for our
supreme War Lord! Then there was a muffled explosion. The _Aud_ shivered
from stem to stern, beams and splinters flew up in the air, followed by
a cloud of dirty-gray smoke, and flames burst forth from the saloon, the
charthouse, the ventilators, and the forecastle. That was all we had
time to notice. 'All hands to the boats!' We might be able to get away
from the ship before the munitions exploded.

The port side boat, under command of the first mate, had already pushed
off, as the starboard boat was just being lowered. 'All away?' 'Ay, ay,
sir!' was the answer from the boats. The engineer, the second mate, the
helmsman, and I were the last to clamber down. We cut the painter with
an axe, and it was high time we did, for within a few feet of our boat
was the 'conjurer's box,' which still contained a dozen explosive bombs.
The stern was already low in the water, and we were just pushing off
when a stoker came running from the burning forecastle with some large
object under his arm.

'Good heavens, man, what are you doing on board?'

'I've saved the gramophone,' he shouted, as he swung himself down with
the agility of a monkey and plumped into the boat like a sack. But the
gramophone which he had rescued at such risk fell into the water and was
no more seen.

It required our utmost efforts to get clear of the sinking ship. While
we were busy doing this there was a second violent explosion amidships.
Several more followed, accompanied by clouds of thick, sulphurous smoke.
The munitions were probably catching fire. If we did not get clear soon
the whole ship might blow up round our heads. The crew gave way with a
will. Suddenly a gun roared. The _Bluebell_ had spoken. We could not see
where the shell struck, for the forward part of the _Aud_, which
projected out of the water, interrupted our view. All we could see was
that the ships at the quay came steaming towards us. At the same moment
we heard loud cries coming from our second boat. Surely the _Bluebell_
would not----. We hardly dared to give expression to the terrible
thought.

As any resistance would only lead to foolish and useless bloodshed (for
we were defenceless and at the mercy of an infinitely superior force), I
had, as instructed by my superior officers, expressly ordered that a
white flag was to be shown immediately if we succeeded in launching the
boats.

This order was carried out. The _Bluebell_ therefore violated
international law if she fired at us now. When, a few minutes later, we
rowed round the burning ship, we were glad to find that the second boat
was undamaged.

The bow of the _Aud_ was lifting higher and higher out of the water. The
stern was already submerged, and the surface of the water was strewn
with all sorts of wreckage. Strangely enough, there was no further
explosion. The huge charge probably tore such a hole in the ship's side
that the water rushed in instantly and drowned out the fuses.

About five minutes after the first explosion a dull, rumbling noise came
from the _Aud_. The cargo and bunkers were shifting. The masts tottered,
then the blazing bow rose perpendicularly out of the water, and next
moment the _Aud_, as if drawn down by an invisible hand, sank with a
loud hissing noise. Our good old _Libau_ was no more.



CHAPTER XXIII

A SECOND 'BARALONG?'


We had no illusions about the future. Imprisonment was the best we could
expect. If the English were disposed to be unmerciful, it would soon be
all over with us. While more and more ships were hurrying to the spot
where the _Aud_ had sunk we rowed slowly towards the _Bluebell_. We
could hardly believe our eyes when on approaching the cruiser we saw the
reception prepared for us. The crew stood shoulder to shoulder along the
ship's side, most of them with rifles at the ready. Every gun and
machine-gun on the cruiser was pointed at us, and followed our movements
fairly accurately. Were these men devils incarnate? If the position had
not been so dreadfully serious one might have been inclined to smile
with pity at these men, who were not ashamed to make preparations to
shoot down twenty-two German sailors like dogs. Or were they afraid that
we, with our two miserable lifeboats, were trying to ram and sink their
great cruiser? I almost had that impression.

In order to make myself known, I stood up and waved my hand. It might
perhaps prevent a volley being fired next moment. As this evoked no
reply, I shouted at the top of my voice in English that we were men of
the German navy, and that we claimed the protection of our white flag.
In a few moments the answer came from the cruiser: 'The captain only is
to come on board.' So we rowed alongside.

For the first time we now saw the enemy at close range. The impression
they made on us was anything but favourable. Unlike the crews of ships
of the line, such as I have seen before and since, they presented a most
unkempt appearance. Only a part of the crew wore uniform. The other
seamen and stokers, with their coloured shirts, unwashed, and unshaved,
might just as well have belonged to the crew of a small collier. One of
the officers, apparently the ship's surgeon, was actually wearing brown
civilian trousers and a black uniform jacket. The arms they carried were
still stranger than their clothing. Those who had no rifles were
provided with all sorts of lethal weapons. Sabres, knives, pistols, and
even cutlasses, with huge basket-handles, dating from the earliest days
of the English Navy, formed part of the motley armament. The whole
scene, the threatening language, and not least the villainous faces of
some of the crew, caused me much foreboding. While I was getting out of
the boat the officers followed with their pistols every move I made, and
I had a feeling that any moment I might receive a bullet in the back. My
crew assured me afterwards that while I was going up the ship's side
they had the same feeling. And they had plenty of justification for the
feeling, for the _Baralong_ case was not by any means the only blot in
the history of English naval warfare to account for the general
contempt and mistrust with which the English were regarded in Germany.

At the gangway a small, boyish-looking lieutenant received me. He signed
to me to go aft, and, under the impression that the captain wished to
speak to me there, I did so. At the same time my boat was ordered to row
to a distance of fifty yards from the _Bluebell_. The crew formed a
semicircle round me, and the lieutenant took care that they kept a
proper distance from me. Then, upon his order, six men with rifles
stepped forward and formed a close guard round me. Strangely enough, all
the officers had suddenly disappeared from the deck. Shortly afterwards
I accidentally noticed the surgeon peeping at me from behind a
searchlight on the upper deck. An indefinite suspicion crossed my mind.
Surely it was not possible that the English would show such contempt for
the laws of war. I still refused to believe it. The next few moments
proved to me that I was right.

The lieutenant gave some order in a subdued voice that trembled a
little. The six men, standing in a semicircle before me, brought their
rifles to the ready. Behind them the rest of the crew continued to pour
on me, as before, a torrent of threats and insults of the most vulgar
description, while no one made the slightest move to stop them. 'Shoot
him, the German swine!' 'Knock him down, the dog! He is not worth
wasting powder on!' And these were not by any means the worst
expressions which these scallywags used. There could be no doubt it was
now a question of life and death. I was to be shot down without any
sort of trial, and then it would be the turn of my brave crew. I
therefore requested the lieutenant in a respectful but decided tone to
conduct me to his commanding officer before he took any further steps.
For answer there was a derisive laugh from the crew and more abuse of
the lowest sort. The lieutenant said something to his men which I did
not catch, whereupon some of them put their rifles to their shoulders.
The others kept handling the breach and trigger. It seemed as if the
crew would wait no longer for the horrible drama, and they began to
whistle and tramp. 'Fetch the other piratical dogs also,' they continued
to shout.

My men in the two boats, who had been watching these proceedings from a
short distance, began to get restless and made as if to come on board. I
signed to them to do nothing precipitate. Then I summoned up my whole
English vocabulary and again asked the officer in the most energetic
manner to conduct me to his commanding officer, pointing out at the same
time that we were legitimate combatants, and demanded that, in
accordance with international law, we should be treated as such.

The lieutenant stood before me undecided, looking first to me and then
round to his men, as if seeking advice. Then an idea which suddenly
occurred to me proved our salvation. In a voice that could be heard on
the bridge of the _Bluebell_ I shouted, 'If, instead of treating us as
regular prisoners of war, you want to engineer another _Baralong_
affair, inform your commanding officer at once that for each one of us
that you unlawfully shoot the German Government will have two English
officers shot. If you think that you can answer before God and your
conscience for the murder which you intend, then do what you have to do.
I have nothing more to say to you.'

This apparently made some impression on the English, for all the
shouting stopped at once and the lieutenant after some delay told his
men to order arms. At the same time he sent a man forward with a
message. About ten minutes afterwards the man came back and whispered
something in the officer's ear. The lieutenant then called my two boats
alongside and ordered the crew to come on board. We were then thoroughly
searched, and the English had the bitter disappointment of finding
neither arms nor secret papers on us. When one of my men was asked if he
still had any weapons he answered with a loud 'Yes!' Asked where they
were, he pointed with a mysterious air to his big sea-boots. Carefully
the English felt down his legs, while two men held the unfortunate
fellow fast by the arms. He was, without doubt, a very dangerous man. We
followed the proceedings very attentively--and what do you think the
English fished out? An enormous German sausage which good old Bruhns had
intended to take into captivity with him as an 'emergency ration.' With
angry blows they pushed him away.

Then we were taken below. I was separated from my men. The other
officers now reappeared, and the little lieutenant assured me again and
again in a somewhat apologetic tone that he had just now 'only carried
out his orders.' The engines of the _Bluebell_ started--we were
apparently entering the inner harbour. Half an hour later a launch took
us with a tremendous escort to the cruiser _Adventure_, the flagship of
the squadron based in Queenstown. Officers and crew were on deck
watching us. Our reception was extremely cool.

I took the opportunity of again warning my men to give nothing away
either in conversation or examination, and above all not to get drunk.
They were taken forward, while I and the first and second mate were
taken to a lock-up in the after-battery, where we were closely guarded.

The food was good, and our treatment at the hands of individual officers
was extremely courteous. The captain and the first-officer especially
showed us every consideration possible under the circumstances. I need,
of course, hardly mention that this consideration was not due
exclusively to sympathy for us; for the English were extremely anxious
to learn what details they could from us. At the same time I am
convinced that they honestly meant what they said in describing our
expedition as 'very smart.'

In the afternoon a steamer took us to Spike Island, which lies in the
middle of the harbour. From various conversations and from the
continuous rushing to and fro of orderlies we gathered that something
serious was on foot. We were taken off the cruiser because it was feared
the Irish might help us to escape. Had the revolution broken out
already? Where on earth was Roger Casement then?

Our escorts were getting larger and larger. Eight officers and nearly a
whole company took our little party to the fort. On the way thither we
received several shouts of encouragement from the Irish population,
which made me hope that we might still be rescued. This was probably
also the explanation of the strong escort. Arrived at the fort we were
put in separate rooms, which were heavily barred, and double sentries
were posted at the doors. The view from the windows was barred by
several high walls. A man disguised as a clergyman visited us in our
cells which, with the exception of roughly-made tables and iron
bedsteads, contained no furniture. I had a feeling that our execution
was to take place inside these walls, and that the clergyman had come to
prepare us for our end.

But my anxiety turned out to be unfounded. The man, who had probably
never been a clergyman, soon betrayed by his clumsy questions that he
wanted to examine us. When he informed me finally, 'in confidence,' that
he was 'an enthusiastic Irishman,' I knew enough. Fortunately, our
sojourn in the fort did not last long. Two hours later we were again
taken on board the cruiser. It seemed to me as if the English
authorities in their excitement could not decide on the safest place for
us. We remained two whole days on board the cruiser.

During this time I had an opportunity of noting the enormous difference
between this ship and the _Bluebell_. Discipline, order, and
cleanliness were simply perfect on the _Adventure_. The officers and men
with whom I came in contact were strictly official, but courteous. I
mention this fact specially because the English officers and men whom I
happened to meet both before and after this, with a few exceptions, who
were aware of the duties of their position, showed to a defenceless
prisoner of war tactlessness and offensiveness almost without parallel.

During this time the news filtered through that the Irish revolution was
in full swing. From a newspaper, which I succeeded in obtaining in spite
of my guards, I learned that Roger Casement had been caught.
Unfortunately, no details were given.

I certainly found another official report, which appeared to have been
intentionally falsified, to the effect that a disguised German auxiliary
cruiser, which had tried to land arms and munitions for the Irish
rebels, had sunk in Queenstown Harbour, and that Roger Casement was a
member of the crew! This latter statement was a lie; but the other
statement showed only too clearly that the English knew all about the
business. Our position had therefore become very critical.

Time after time I was invited to a 'glass of whisky'--in other words, an
examination--by the first officer. The whole staff of the ship was
assembled there. To the great disgust of the English, I refused the
whisky with thanks, and drank coffee instead till further orders--a
drink that did not appeal to these gentlemen. In answer to their
numerous questions I told them the fibs which our position
necessitated. Among other things I told them we had arms and munitions
on board for our troops in Africa, and heavy guns which, after breaking
through the blockade, we intended to mount in order to start
commerce-raiding. A remark which was dropped in the course of these
conversations confirmed my conjecture that the reason why the crew of
the _Bluebell_ were so angry was that our action in sinking the _Aud_
had deprived them of the prize money which they would have earned by
bringing her safely into port.

Late next day the _Adventure_ weighed anchor. I now occupied the first
officer's cabin, which he had very kindly placed at my disposal. A
sentry came in and screwed down the dead light of the scuttle, so that I
could no longer see out. So we were passing the spot where the _Aud_
sank.

Manoeuvring from side to side for what appeared to me to be an eternity;
and keeping close in to the lightship (as I was able to see through a
crack) the cruiser gained the open sea. Numerous craft were busy round
the spot where the _Aud_ sank. Apparently, then, I must have sunk her at
a useful spot, for if a small vessel like the _Adventure_ had so much
trouble in passing, how would it fare with really big ships?

If I am not mistaken divers were also busy. They were welcome to all
they could find, for the water where the _Aud_ lay was too deep even for
divers. For this reason I also thought it would be impossible to salve
the ship, especially as the strong under-currents would soon bury her in
sand.



CHAPTER XXIV

LAWFUL COMBATANT OR PIRATE?


About 5 a.m. I was taken on deck. We were now at Milford Haven, on the
south-west coast of England. A strong escort of Marines, which had been
sent in all haste from Chatham, came to fetch us. A long, unpleasant
journey by special train then followed. Our food during the eighteen
hours' journey consisted of two slices of bread with a suggestion of
butter. I could not discover where we were going. At various stations
the people came to the carriage windows and shouted and spat at us, and
the officer in charge of the escort angrily drew the curtains. The
soldiers escorting us filled the passages of our two corridor carriages,
and when asked where we were going I heard them repeatedly answer, 'To
London. They are to be shot in the Tower!' This did not sound very
hopeful.

After midnight on a pitch-dark night we arrived in Chatham. We could see
nothing. All the lights were masked in consequence of a recent Zeppelin
raid. Nothing could be heard but the rattle of rifles and bayonets. Now
and then the silence was broken by a muffled word of command. We were
then surrounded by a squad of Marines and marched through the dark
streets to the barracks. We halted before a large building. My crew had
been taken off in another direction, only the first and second mates
remaining with me. We were taken up two flights of stairs.

All the proceedings had taken place in uncanny silence. Several cells
were opened. The middle one was mine. I had hardly crossed the threshold
when the door was again barred, and a heavy key turned in the lock. I
was left to myself.

Early next morning I received a visit from an Admiral and his A.D.C. As
a well-bred man and as the junior in rank, I saluted in curt military
fashion. But this gentleman did not consider it necessary to return my
salute, not even with his stick, as is the custom of most English
officers. I therefore answered his questions so curtly and evasively
that he soon left.

This day and the succeeding ones dragged heavily. I tried to while away
the time with physical exercises, but as I could not go on for ever with
these I was left most of the day to my reflections. Next night I chanced
to overhear a conversation between two of my guards, who were standing
directly opposite the peephole in my cell-door. They were speaking of an
attack on Lowestoft by the German Fleet. To my joy, I gathered from
their conversation that the English had suffered heavily.

Twenty times during the night a sentry came into my cell, in order to
make sure that I had not hanged myself, and went out again with a loud
rattle of keys. When I entered the cell my first thought was, 'How am I
to get out of this?' But I was soon convinced that there was not the
slightest possibility of escape. I had not even that most necessary of
all tools, a knife. At meals (which were good and abundant) I was given
only a spoon.

The most unpleasant feature of this captivity was that I had too much
time to think about our ultimate fate. I had no idea what was happening
outside, or what was to happen to my men and myself. I had discovered
that the room on my right was occupied by the officer of the guard, and
that on my left by the sergeant of the guard. Farther on, on each side,
were the cells of the first and second mates. It was therefore
impossible to communicate with them by tapping on the wall.

Next morning when I got up all my clothes had vanished, uniform, linen,
shoes--in fact, everything I had taken off. I was just about to knock
and ask the explanation when an English petty-officer appeared and
explained to me that my things were still in the tailor's and
shoemaker's shops, and that they were being sewn together again. He told
me they had taken everything apart during the night and had discovered a
large quantity of English, Norwegian, and Danish banknotes in our
clothes. It would count against me that I had sewn my money in the
lining. They had unfortunately found no secret documents, he added
regretfully. This put all possibility of bribing our guards out of the
question. It was what you might call very hard luck. As soon as I was
dressed I was taken downstairs. The escort was already waiting to take
us to the railway station. On the way to the station we were joined by
my crew with another escort. I was glad to see that they were in good
spirits. They had no idea yet what was on foot.

The Chatham mob behaved so badly to us that the escort were repeatedly
forced to interfere. We went by train to London, and were taken from the
station in two open motor-lorries. The whole business reminded me of
cattle being taken to the slaughterhouse. A halt was made at Scotland
Yard, the headquarters of the English Police, where we were to be
examined. A big crowd received us with abuse and threatening language.

As was to be expected, our reception at Scotland Yard was icily cold and
unfriendly. I was at once taken before the high officials of the
Admiralty. Three sides of the big room were occupied by naval officers.
General Staff officers, police officials, and detectives. The
Commissioner of Police for London was also present. Commander Brandon
and his colleague Captain French,[17] who, some time ago, spent several
years in a German prison after being convicted of espionage, acted as
interpreters and members of this court. As Captain French translated not
only badly but also intentionally wrong, I refused his mediation and
henceforward spoke in English.

Each of us was examined separately. Of course, we 'fooled them to the
top of their bent.' They tried by every possible means to pump us by
kindliness and by threats of the meanest description.

My men naturally told them the same fairy-tales as I. Even comic
interludes were not lacking. For instance, one of the crew when asked
where the German Fleet was, answered, after some reflection, 'Yes, I can
tell you exactly. It has been at sea for a long time looking for the
English Fleet, but so far has not been able to find it.' The English did
not take the remark very kindly, for which we could hardly blame them.

Right at the beginning of the examination I expressly told the President
of the Tribunal, a naval captain, that he need not expect a single word
from me or my men which would prejudice German interests. As he
continued, in spite of this, to ply us with questions, he need not have
been surprised if we answered falsely.

Unfortunately, it became quite clear in the course of the examination
that the English not only had got wind of the arrival of the _Libau_,
but also possessed exact information on practically every detail. Their
information on the preparations for the expedition were particularly
accurate.

There were traitors and spies at work! I cudgelled my brains in vain to
think where they had got their information. From what the English told
me of my sojourn in the different German ports and in Berlin, I
concluded that a male or female spy was following every step I took at
that time. It was a complete mystery to me. In answer to repeated
questions about Sir Roger Casement, I answered each time that I did not
know the man at all, whereupon they read out to me out of a big file
some passages which were word for word identical with my secret orders!
I had, personally, burned my copy of the orders. They must, therefore,
possess the only extant copy. Casement's!

Should I continue to deny all knowledge?--I reflected for a moment. Yes,
in the interests of my men I must; for I judged by the conduct of the
English that they intended to treat my crew and myself in the same
illegal manner.

That Casement was a prisoner I already knew, but I did not know where he
was imprisoned. The English captain told me--probably as a bluff--that
Casement was a prisoner in the next room, and that I should be
confronted with him in a few minutes. There was no further object, he
said, in my denying knowledge of the business as Casement, in order to
save his neck, had betrayed everything! I had to pull myself together in
order to conceal the effect on me of this statement. Luckily I kept my
head. Bluff against bluff! Only the utmost assurance could help me now.
So I answered in a quiet tone that I should be glad to be confronted
with him at once, so that the officers could see for themselves that we
were strangers.

It was a risky game I was playing. If Casement had really betrayed
everything we were lost. If not, my effrontery might perhaps save the
situation. The English, taken aback, looked at one another for a moment;
and then all turned their eyes on me; they wished to note what effect
Casement's name had on me. A long, uncomfortable pause followed, during
which I made every effort to preserve an attitude of indifference. At
last the examination came to an end. And--nothing more, either then or
later, was heard about confronting me with Casement! The manner in which
the English conducted the inquiry provoked me several times to declare
that they should not forget they were dealing with a German officer and
German sailors. I had told them that I had sealed orders which were not
to be opened till we had left German waters, so that my crew knew
nothing about our objective when they followed me. The English captain
was intensely angry with me for having carried out these orders. I
ought, he said, as soon as I had read them, to have turned back at once
and refused to carry out such a commission! The only way I could answer
such a disgraceful suggestion was with a contemptuous shrug and with the
remark that such a thing might be possible in England, but not in
Germany, where every soldier at once carries out every order of his
superior officers without moving an eyelid.

After this interrogation I was taken to an adjoining room, carefully
guarded by several detectives. The English had not been able to prove
that secret intercourse had taken place between us and the Irish in
Tralee. They may therefore have come to the conclusion that they could
not, as they had threatened, shoot or hang us without a gross violation
of international law. They therefore looked round for some other excuse
to vent their anger on me and catch me. They soon found one, and when I
was again brought in the English captain explained to me that I must be
shot because I had blown up my ship after I had been taken prisoner!

This, of course, was nonsense. When I followed the English cruiser to
Queenstown I was by no means a prisoner; I was simply a neutral obeying
their command because no other course was open to me.

Nevertheless, the English captain continued to point out that they were
not violating international law, but that we ourselves had violated
international law by misuse of a neutral flag. We could not, therefore,
claim to be treated as lawful combatants, and must expect the treatment
always meted out to pirates, hanging or shooting. As before, when on
board the _Bluebell_, I tried the effect of the threat that the German
Government would make reprisals. Then the inquiry ended. Before I was
led away, however, the captain informed me that he could no longer
regard me as an officer, as I had not told him the truth! These English
really had a very naïve conception of a German officer's honour and
sense of duty.

When I arrived in Chatham I soon found that the English captain had not
spoken empty words. The treatment which I now received left much to be
desired. Of the much-vaunted chivalrousness of the English towards their
captive enemies I saw no trace.

For several days we remained in this solitary confinement without
knowing what our fate was to be. None of us will ever forget these days
of anxious uncertainty. I was examined several times in my cell also.
From the ever-increasing strictness of the guards, their constant
whispering, the sidelong looks they gave me when they thought they were
observed, I concluded that we were in a very serious position.

On four successive nights Zeppelin attacks were made on London, and
Chatham also got its share. The excitement of the English, when it was
announced, 'The Zepps are coming,' can hardly be described. My nerves
had gradually become so dulled that I hardly took any notice of the
attacks.

After long, anxious days, we were released from this nerve-racking
confinement. I had already given up all hope. An escort came early one
morning for us and took us first to London and then to an officer
prisoner-of-war camp. I learned that the rest of the crew had been moved
the day before. When, after a long railway journey, we arrived at Castle
Donington, near Derby, we at last discovered that we were being taken to
Donington Hall Camp. So they had realised that they could prove no
charge against us. All the same, I was not convinced of this until I saw
German uniforms moving about in the distance inside the camp. Until that
moment I had been ready for any new, unpleasant surprise; for this time
the escort, contrary to previous custom, had been provided with
handcuffs.

The road to the camp took a good half-hour, and then the great gates
closed behind us with a loud bang. A large number of English officers
and Tommies took us into their keeping as 'very dangerous criminals.'
Shortly after my arrival at Donington Hall the court-martial on Roger
Casement began, lasting for several months and ending with his
condemnation. During this time the voyage of the _Aud_ was the subject
of constant inquiries on the part of the Government and the Press.

As I learned, partly through the inquiry proceedings, and afterwards
from the commander of the U-boat, Sir Roger Casement had reached Tralee
Bay late on the evening of our arrival. The U-boat had seen from a
distance in the dark the outline of the _Aud_ at Innistooskert, but
mistook it for an English destroyer. Thereupon Casement, despairing of
the arrival of the _Aud_, went ashore in a collapsible boat and was
arrested next morning by the English who were waiting for him. His
arrest had caused so much excitement among the Irish that no one dared
to get into communication with us. But Casement's arrest caused the
outbreak of the Irish revolution. As, however, the Irish lacked the most
necessary things, rifles and heavy artillery, the revolution, bloody and
serious as it was, could only fail. Sir Roger Casement was sentenced to
be hanged. On the 3rd of August the sentence was carried out. The
brilliant defence which Casement made had been of no avail. He died
every inch a man, and with the consciousness that the idea for which he
had fought and suffered would sink deeper in the hearts of the Irish and
bring them nearer to freedom.

FOOTNOTE:

[17] _sic._--Translator.



CHAPTER XXV

UNSUCCESSFUL ATTEMPTS AT ESCAPE


During the long period of captivity which ensued all my faculties were
concentrated on finding an opportunity to escape as quickly as possible
from this unbearable camp.

The proceedings against Roger Casement, which began in April, showed
clearly that the English would stick at nothing in their effort to find
out those details in the preparations for the Irish revolution which,
with all their extensive spy system, they had so far failed to discover.
Sergeant Bailey, on whose fidelity Casement relied so thoroughly, had
turned traitor in order to save his life.

In international law the English could make no charge against me or my
crew. I knew that well. But I also knew just as well that international
law would afford us no protection if it occurred to the English to do
what _they_ thought right. It would not have been the first time in this
war that the English had ignored the most elemental provisions of
international law; for it is well known that the English, when it is
necessary, know only one law, English law. So long, therefore, as the
proceedings against Casement lasted, I had to be prepared for any new
surprise. But I did not wish to wait for this, for I had not the
slightest wish to share Casement's probable fate and gratify the thirst
for vengeance of the English mob by hanging on a gallows in the Tower.

Whenever I got a chance I surveyed the camp as unobtrusively as
possible, climbed into the most distant lofts and cellars of the old
ruined castle, and examined the great barbed-wire fence to find the
weakest spot. In doing so I discovered that it would be, at the very
least, extremely difficult to escape from this prison. Donington Hall
was at that time the best-guarded and most secure prisoner-of-war camp
in England. It deserved the name 'Castle' only when regarded from a
distance, for the interior of Donington Hall was more like a tenement
than the former residence of the Barons Hastings.

Since the escape of Lieut.-Commander Plüschow in July 1915, no prisoner
of war had succeeded in getting away, although well organised attempts
had not been wanting. The difficulties were increased by the fact that
the possibility of further progress after leaving the camp had got much
smaller during the last six months. The patrolling of the country and
the watch kept on the main roads, railway stations, and docks, were now
such that it was practically impossible to get out of the country. The
exemption-certificates and the food-cards, without which one could get
nothing to eat on the road, increased the difficulties of escape.

If I therefore attempted to discuss the question with my friends I
always got the same answer: 'It's no use. You will get outside the
barbed wire and no farther.' I could sympathise with the poor fellows'
hopelessness. The many recent failures and the effect of the long
captivity--most of them had been pining here for a year and a half--had
impaired their will and brought them into a state of dull despondency.

I had not yet been infected with barbed-wire fever, and persevered in my
efforts. The hope of getting free sooner or later from this prison, was
the only thing which could save one from a mental breakdown.

Unfortunately, I was soon convinced that escape before the Casement
trial was finished was out of the question. I had, indeed, found a few
friends who were willing to make along with me their nth attempt at
escape, and there were always a few stout fellows willing to help. But
we had so many difficulties to contend with that week after week and
month after month went by and we were no nearer the realisation of our
hopes.

The greatest difficulty was this, that it was possible only with the
greatest cunning and by bribing with large sums of English money to
obtain the necessary tools. In contrast to all other English camps in
which N.C.O.'s and men and civilians were interned--and in contrast to
many officer camps in Germany also--tools of any sort were forbidden in
English officer camps, even the tiniest hammer. Even pocket-knives which
were larger than the index-finger were confiscated, and the owner was
punished into the bargain. Ready money--again in contrast to other
camps--was forbidden. In order to be able to pay for the necessaries of
life we received metal tokens for which we gave receipts. This
regulation and many others, made either by the War Office or the Camp
Commandant, made the execution of our plans very difficult. At the same
time these regulations were very flattering to us German officers, for
they showed us continually how important we were. It was characteristic
of the English attitude that much more extensive measures were taken to
recapture one escaped German officer than were taken to recapture ten or
twenty men. Every 'Hun officer' was looked upon as the devil himself.
The best proof of this is to be found in the English press.

The second difficulty was to procure civilian clothes and false papers.
This also was possible only by bribing English soldiers or labourers who
happened to be working in the camp. I succeeded on one occasion in
appropriating unnoticed a torn jacket and a small chisel belonging to a
workman who was laying drain-pipes near my hut. I left in place of them
a couple of silver coins, and then from the shelter of a shrub I saw the
Englishman pick them up contentedly without bothering about the stolen
articles--which I had safely buried in the meantime.

The excitement which my landing in Tralee Bay and the subsequent events
in Ireland had caused throughout England, and, above all, the senseless
clamour which the English press kept up for months afterwards, brought
it about that I was regarded as a sort of 'Sherlock Holmes,' and was
watched very closely in the camp. The sentries were told to keep a
sharp eye on me, and as I was conspicuous on account of my height, all
eyes were turned on me as soon as I appeared anywhere in the camp.
Particularly during the first months of my captivity I often heard the
sentries say, when I came near the barbed wire, 'Look out! Lieutenant
Spindler is coming!' Sometimes they called me simply, 'the Casement
fellow,' or 'the Casement captain.' Whenever English generals came down
to inspect and were present at the parade, the Camp Commandant, before
walking down the front, always pointed with his stick to the right flank
where I stood, and told his superior officers, 'That tall naval officer
is the fellow that brought Roger Casement to Ireland.' We gradually
became so accustomed to this that the strange introduction seemed a
necessary part of the parade. But apart from the fact that the
Englishman's statement was false, this exhibition at last began to bore
me. I therefore sent a request to the colonel to omit this
introduction--which he did, when I pointed out that I did not wish to be
regarded as a very fine specimen in a zoological garden.

With similar intermezzos, chief among which were my numerous written
complaints, the days passed. From years of experience I knew that the
utmost impudence was the only thing that impressed the English. The
manner in which some of the English officers treated us prisoners
enraged me so much that I gradually made a sort of hobby of plaguing the
camp authorities with innumerable written complaints. For many of my
friends also who did not know English I composed similar letters; and I
nearly always had the satisfaction of noting their success, for the
complaints were always justified.

The death sentence on Casement had already been carried out.
Fortunately, the proceedings had revealed no material that could
compromise me. Some of us had in the meantime succeeded in manufacturing
(by means of an imprint in wax) a copy of the key to the so-called
clock-tower. Under this, as we had been told by a clerk who had been
sacked by the commandant, was a passage nearly a mile long. This led
apparently to the village of Castle Donington and was probably intended
by the Barons Hastings as a means of escape in case of siege.

I need hardly mention that we made the utmost efforts to find the
entrance to this passage. Unfortunately, we could work only a very short
time each day in the cellar of the clock-tower, for close to the stairs
which led to it was the switchboard for the alarm siren and for the
electric-light which was used both day and night. Nevertheless, with the
help of a large pocket-knife we succeeded after about a fortnight's hard
work in cutting a brick out of the wall undamaged. Once this beginning
had been made the work of cutting out more bricks went quicker. Then we
burrowed farther with the little chisel I had appropriated. The rubble
thus produced was wrapped up in newspapers and carried away afterwards.
A few officers, of course, always kept 'Cave' above, and whenever the
signal agreed upon was given, the bricks were quickly replaced, and
then no one could see from the stairs that anything had been going on
here. Twice we were surprised. In our extremity all we could do was to
flatten ourselves against the wall, and the sergeant who had been to the
switchboard went away without noticing anything.

After several weeks' work we had cut a hole about a yard and a half deep
in the wall. It looked as if we should never get through. To our joy we
noticed however, that the wall, when tapped with the chisel, gave a much
more hollow sound now. Did this mean that we were near the underground
passage? With throbbing hearts we worked on. In three or four days we
reckoned we ought to be through. Then the unexpected happened. Next
morning, before we went down to the cellar, we noticed to our horror a
couple of locksmiths, under the personal direction of the commandant,
putting a lock and also a heavy padlock on the little tower door. Our
plan was discovered. How, I have never been able to find out. All I know
is that the English, in their zeal, made a stupid mistake, for if they
had waited until the afternoon they would have caught us going down.

That disposed of the tunnel once and for all, for the only way of
getting into the clock-tower was through the little tower door. For the
next few weeks we dared do nothing, on account of the very strict watch
which was kept. But as no one escaped during the next month the
watchfulness of the guards gradually relaxed again; so we started on a
new enterprise which promised success. Through the castle chapel, which
was about twenty yards distant from the scene of our former labours
there must surely be some way of getting to the tower. No sooner said
than done. After the evening round, I and a friend got out of bed. At
the head of our beds we put dark bundles, which in the bad light might
be mistaken for our heads. Then we carefully felt our way along
staircases and passages down to the chapel. Under a seat on one side of
the altar we carefully loosened one of the broad floor-boards, and
climbed down through the opening. At first we thought we could not find
bottom, for I, the taller of the two, though hanging on to the plank
only by my finger-tips, could feel nothing with my toes. We boldly
struck a match, and then found that we were right over a shaft. So we
tried our luck at another spot, and at last succeeded. The depth under
the front portion of the chapel was so small that it was only by bending
low that we could stand in it. With the help of matches we felt our way
forward between the old stone coffins of the long-dead Barons Hastings.
A heavy, mouldy smell, which constantly made us cough, pervaded the
crypt. Occasionally it became so strong that we debated whether we
should retreat, for the echo of our coughing resounded from all the
walls and we feared that the night-patrol might discover us. It was so
uncannily still that we could hear the ticking of our watches. Now and
then something raced noiselessly over our feet in the dark. Rats were
apparently plentiful here. Involuntarily I thought of a story which I
had read as a child. Two rascals who in the dead of night had broken
into the cellar of an old castle suddenly found themselves surrounded by
coffins, from which the spirits of the departed rose just as the pair
were about to steal the hoard of gold. They froze with fear, and were
found next morning dead in the cellar. Although I don't believe in
ghosts, I must confess that for a moment I felt uncomfortable. Inch by
inch we advanced. The farther we went the more icy became the
temperature. At last we arrived at a massive stone wall. We felt and
examined the moist stones and the crumbling mortar in between. Nothing
but basalt-blocks three feet square. Who could tell but that one of
these stones covered the entrance to the tunnel? Surely we should be
able to find the entrance.

We found nothing remarkable that night and made our way back to bed
again, intending to renew our search next night. Night after night we
repeated these excursions, and were once within a hair's breadth of
being discovered. The 'Visiting Rounds' lit up the chapel inside just as
we were about to cover up the opening with the plank. There we stood as
stiff as mummies, with our faces turned to the entrance, carrying the
whole weight of the heavy oak seat on our heads, for in our hurry we had
not had time to replace it in its old position.

One of the soldiers actually turned the light on our faces for several
seconds. Then the heavy door was slammed and next moment we heard the
'Tommies' continue their rounds. Once again luck had been on our side.
Probably the men had just turned out of their bunks and were really half
asleep as they stumbled through the camp. By the time they got to our
beds we were under the clothes, and we snored loudly when the same lamp
was held to our faces which had almost betrayed us a few minutes
earlier.

After about a fortnight's work we were unwillingly forced to the
conclusion that our hopes had been unfounded. There was not the
slightest indication that this massive wall contained an entrance to a
tunnel. Several determined attempts to loose one of the big stones had
to be given up as hopeless for want of necessary tools.

In any case we should have had to desist, for a few days later one of
our comrades, Naval-Lieutenant Prondczindsky, was caught while
attempting to escape, and the guards again became very strict. It was a
pity that Prondczindsky's plan did not succeed.[18] He tried to cross
the barbed-wire entanglement, which was eight or nine yards deep, by
means of a board which he had made.

He had spent nearly five months putting together a sort of box-like
structure about seven yards long, eight inches wide, and four inches
deep, made from the wood of cigar-boxes. Big pieces of timber were
unobtainable in the camp, and he had calculated with mathematical
precision the carrying capacity of his plank.

To increase our difficulties, the guard was now increased by twenty men
in consequence of this attempt. As the winter was coming on our chances
became still smaller, for now there was nothing in the fields to satisfy
one's hunger in case of necessity. The daily camp rations were getting
visibly smaller in consequence of the activity of the submarine war, so
that it was difficult now to save up even a week's food. Even bribery
helped us little, for it often happened that English soldiers, with whom
we were for certain reasons on good terms, came to us, who had so
little, and begged a piece of bread because their own rations had become
so short.

I gave up one plan after another, but took pains all the time to give
the impression that escape was the last thing I thought about. I was a
regular attendant at the hospital, sometimes with justification,
sometimes without. I wished to give the doctor the impression that in my
impaired state of health it would be impossible for me to support the
fatigues of an escape. My knowledge of English stood me in good stead in
intercourse with the English officers and men who were now getting more
and more trustful. If they chanced to ask me whether I ever thought of
escaping I told them with a most innocent look that only a fool would
think of making an attempt now that the conditions had become so
difficult.

I had gradually worked out a code system by which I communicated with
Germany in a round-about manner. This system of communicating secret
news was so well conceived that the most alert English censor would have
found nothing suspicious in the contents of my letters. Even if he did
suspect something, all his arts and appliances, magnifying glasses,
acid-baths, photographing, and ironing of the letters, would not help
him a bit. The letters revealed nothing. To make assurance doubly sure,
I had my letters in code signed by comrades who were not regarded by the
English as suspicious; for I had reason to believe that all my letters
were stopped. In this manner I succeeded in communicating with friends
in Germany, asking them for things necessary for the escape, English
money, tools (the parts of which were sent separately), and so forth.
The letters, which arrived safely at their destination, were understood
and the various commissions executed. For obvious reasons I do not
intend to disclose how the articles were sent. Unfortunately, very few
of them reached me, for when they began to arrive at the camp I had
already escaped.

I had read in the newspaper that some of my brave crew had escaped from
their camp and been recaptured. As I learned later, they had conceived
the plan (a hopeless one) of setting me free and then trying to get out
of the country. Shortly afterwards I was taken to London to appear
before the Prize Court. I got such short notice that I had no time to
provide myself with civilian clothes with the object of escaping during
the long journey or when we were in London. Without money and in uniform
I could not make the attempt. Immediately after my return to camp I
addressed a long letter to the Prize Court, in which I requested that
the previous decision should be revised, and that the money taken from
me and my crew should be restored to us.

The Swiss Embassy was kind enough to forward this letter (and many
others) to the proper quarter, although the American Embassy, which was
still 'neutral' at that time, had refused to transmit it. In the next
chapter I shall have something to say about the effect of these letters.

It would, of course, have been a mistake to concentrate on any one plan
which did not absolutely guarantee success. I therefore looked round for
other methods of escaping from the camp. With the help of a friend I
contrived a jumping pole (made of broom-handles) with which I intended
to jump over the barbed-wire fence. Unfortunately, the pole broke in two
on its first 'trial voyage.' We were not discouraged, and we made
another pole. And when this broke we made more. But all these attempts
failed because it was impossible to smuggle a couple of good-sized poles
into the camp. To the same fact, also, was due the failure of another
scheme to reach a tree outside the fence from one inside by means of a
long pole. This would have required a piece of wood or rope at least
twelve yards long, for all the lower boughs, especially those near the
fence, had been carefully cut off.

About the time when I was busy with these plans a small motor-car used
to come nearly every day into camp. With a little address and the help
of the chauffeur it would have been possible to hide in it, for it was
easy to distract the attention of the sentry told off to guard it. The
chauffeur was, as I soon discovered, very accessible. I covenanted with
him to take me out of the camp for £500.

From my own resources and by borrowing from friends who had large sums
of English money, I could raise about half of this amount. The remainder
was to be paid after the war, and satisfactory guarantees were given.
The payment was to be made by one of my friends as soon as the man
proved that I was safely out of the camp. The day and the hour were
agreed upon, and everything appeared to be in order. Very few knew about
my plan, for I did not want to have it wrecked by incautious gossip.

On the appointed evening I stood in the yard near the garage, provided
with all necessaries, and waited with bated breath for my deliverer.
Half an hour--an hour--passed. I was beginning to wonder if I had been
deceived, when suddenly I heard the well-known sound of the horn in the
distance. A few moments later the headlights lit up the long passage
that led to the yard. As the car passed the entrance doors I noticed two
English officers sitting in it. Had the chauffeur led me into a trap?

I carefully crept along the wall into the darkest corner of the garage.
'Well, now, let's get to work,' I heard one of the officers say. Then I
saw him look round the shed as if looking for something. My heart beat
faster. Fortunately, the Englishman's remark had no reference to me, for
the two of them walked away in the direction of the commandant's office.
The chauffeur began to work on the car, and swore when he found he had
run out of petrol, whereupon the sentry offered to get him some. This
was contrary to his orders, for he was forbidden to leave the motor. I
then showed myself and was about to get into my hiding place. But the
chauffeur prevented me, declaring that he was risking ten years'
imprisonment by this joke (as he called it), and that he must therefore
have £500 in cash on the spot, and another £500 later.

This was a low trick. It was impossible for me to pay £500 at once, and
I could not guarantee to pay the second instalment, for it was beyond my
means. As discussion did not help matters and I could hear the footsteps
of the sentry returning with the petrol, I had, with a heavy heart, to
give up my plan.

FOOTNOTE:

[18] It only earned him six months' imprisonment. Let me state here
that, instead of the three to fourteen days' arrest awarded in Germany
for attempts at escape, the English, up to the conclusion of the Hague
Agreement in July, 1917, never awarded less than six months'
imprisonment!



CHAPTER XXVI

A BOLDER PLAN


At last I got tired of these continual failures, and began to see that
these methods would never succeed. If I was going to escape it must be
by some method that no one had yet thought of trying. Only in this way,
aided by unlimited bluff, should I succeed. I was thinking not only of
the actual escape from the camp, but of the possibility of getting out
of the country. Escapes from all the camps had been made by the dozen,
but only one in a hundred was actually successful. The worst of it was
that that big sheet of water, the North Sea, lay between England and
Germany! How much easier it was for English officers in Germany, who, in
two days' march, were in neutral territory, Holland, and consequently in
safety!

All who had so far attempted to escape from English camps had started
out with the idea of finding a ship or a boat that would take them to
Germany. The consequence was, that the coast, and particularly the
ports, were closely watched, especially when it was known that prisoners
had broken out of camp. If I were to succeed, then, I must find some
other way. After weeks of anxious thought I hit upon a method that
seemed to offer chances of success. I would go by air!

The plan sounds very daring at first. I was therefore not very angry
with my friends who declared me mad when I broached my scheme. All the
same I was so persevering that I at last found a few friends who
declared themselves willing to help me.

I had thought long and carefully about the problem of getting out of the
camp, and had found a possible solution. The great difficulty was to
find (1) an aerodrome in easy distance of Donington Hall, and (2) a
trained flying-man, for I had never sat in an aeroplane.

From a map in Meyer's _Encyclopædia_ I reckoned that the distance from
Nottingham (in the neighbourhood of Donington) to Ostend would be
roughly 300 kilometres by air route. With a modern type of machine,
therefore, one ought to reach Ostend in about two hours, if all went
smoothly. If the machine which I intended to annex had not enough petrol
in the tank we should have to come down on the sea and trust to chance
to find a rescuer. But I was certain that petrol could be found
somewhere or other in the aerodrome. On my journey to London I had
noticed that the flying ground at Hendon, at that time the largest in
England, was practically unguarded. What was the use of detailing a
large number of sentries, seeing that no one had ever yet thought of
stealing an aeroplane!

I became so enthusiastic at the idea of being free much sooner than I
had expected and of taking home an up-to-date aeroplane that some
nights I never slept a wink.

Of the flying men in camp none was suitable. They had all been captured
early in the war and had never handled a modern machine. But as new
prisoners were constantly arriving I was confident that sooner or later
a flying man would turn up. There could be no doubt there was a flying
ground somewhere in the neighbourhood of Donington, for almost every day
aeroplanes flew over the camp in a northerly direction. They always
landed a long way off in one certain direction. Watch in hand, we
observed their flight every day, noting when and where they landed, and
were, in this manner, able to estimate approximately the distance of the
flying ground. I used the same method in studying the neighbouring
railway system. By observing the speed of the locomotives and by noting
the time that elapsed before the first stop, we were enabled roughly to
locate the neighbouring railway stations. We made our observations
independently, and fixed in this manner also the direction of trains
which we could hear but not see. Naval-Engineer Lieut. Laurer was very
helpful to me in preparing two large maps by the aid of our observations
and of a tiny map which we had discovered in an old novel. One of them
represented the immediate surroundings of Donington; the other
represented the southern portion of England and a strip of the North Sea
as far as Ostend.

From new prisoners who arrived at the camp via Nottingham I learned that
an aerodrome was being built near the railway about eight miles from
the camp. Two hangars were finished and a third was in course of
construction. All our information pointed to the conclusion that a big
biplane was already stationed there.

This was extraordinarily favourable. The smaller the aerodrome, the
smaller would be the guard. One night-watchman would certainly be the
only guard here. Even if there were two sentries we should have no
difficulty in overpowering and tying them up and then flying away before
the alarm was given.

Two labourers who were building a small shed in the camp I steadily
plied with cigarettes till they got quite talkative. They, too, had
noticed the aeroplanes which flew daily over the camp. In the hope of
getting detailed information from them, I tried a bluff which completely
took them in. I asked them what had happened to the pilot who had passed
over the camp two days before and had then crashed at X. At the same
time I pointed in a direction in which I knew there was certainly no
aerodrome. The story of the crash was, of course, an invention of my
own. As I had expected, they shook their heads incredulously and
declared emphatically that no pilot had crashed yet. Besides, they
added, there was no flying ground in that direction; the two nearest
aerodromes were at L. and U. In confirmation of their statements they
described exactly the direction and distance. When I contradicted
them--went so far as to suggest laughingly that they did not know the
geography of their own country--they offered to prove their statements
by means of a map. And next day they actually brought a beautiful big
cycling map. After acknowledging my mistake I quietly dropped the map in
my pocket during the course of the conversation which ensued. The trick
had worked splendidly. I presented them with a number of cigars and then
disappeared with my map.

The camp was now too small to accommodate the ever-increasing number of
prisoners. A number of huts were therefore built on what had hitherto
been the recreation-ground. It therefore became necessary to enlarge the
recreation ground. The work had been begun during the winter and was
finished in the early spring. The new ground, which adjoined the old
one, was also surrounded by a wire entanglement and several
sentry-boxes. It was to be opened only during the day time and to be
closed at sunset. At the far end we were allowed to make two
tennis-courts. The tools had to be handed in every evening.

In order to keep up the rôle of the 'sick man,' I took no part in any
sort of sport or physical exercises. But I followed with the keenest
interest the progress of the work on the tennis-courts. My plan was now
fixed. I asked my friends who were looking after the tennis-courts to
make a gully, on the side farthest from the camp, for the rain-water to
drain off. This gully was to be gradually and unobtrusively widened and
deepened so that two men could lie in it. The construction of this drain
was, after some hesitation, sanctioned by the commandant, and was
supervised by him and his officers. In this way the sentries got the
impression that there was no objection on the commandant's part to the
drain, and they suspected nothing when the prisoners worked at it again
a few weeks later. This time, of course, without the colonel's sanction.
As no spades or shovels were available preserve-tins cut and flattened
out were used instead. Progress with these tools was, of course, very
slow.

Fate decreed that at this time a young flying-man, Flight-Lieutenant
Winkelmann, was brought to the camp. He had been shot down a short time
before on the Western front, and had all sorts of interesting news to
tell us. So many new officers were arriving now at the camp, some of
them during the night, that it was often weeks after their arrival that
one got to know them. This happened here. One day W. spoke to me. We
introduced ourselves, and W. asked me without any circumlocution if it
was true that I was thinking of bolting. When he noticed my surprise he
added in explanation that he was a pilot and was extremely anxious to
join me. As a trained fighting pilot, but with no knowledge of English
to help him in a journey by road, he regarded my plan of escaping by
aeroplane as the only one possible for him.

He knew all the modern machines, he said, and had often flown captured
English aeroplanes behind the lines. I, on the other hand, knew the
country and the people, and could speak the language. In this way we
should be mutually complementary!

No sooner said than done. With more enthusiasm than ever I now worked
in conjunction with W. in making all the necessary preparations.

I knew that several other groups of officers were also planning to
escape. But I considered my scheme the most hopeful and was therefore
anxious to anticipate the others, so that they should not wreck my
chances.

In order the better to lull the suspicions of the English, I founded a
theatre and undertook the duties of director.

As manager of this fine company I was in daily contact with the camp
authorities, for I had to obtain their approval for every trifling
arrangement. But the English appeared to be still suspicious, for one
evening, after the orderly officer with his escort had passed through
the hut and counted all the inmates, I heard him expressly ask the
sentry on the door, 'Is Lieutenant Spindler there also?'

This business made me anxious, especially as it was repeated for a few
nights. In about four weeks' time the drain ought to be big enough to
conceal us. Luckily the big opening was somewhat hidden by tall grass
which grew along the edge.

It was now high time to disarm the suspicions of the English. I
therefore reported sick, and kept my bed. 'Nervous breakdown' was the
name of my malady. Each time before the doctor came I did a quarter of
an hour's physical jerks and smoked strong cigars. My pulse was so bad
after this that the doctor sometimes looked at me with a very grave air.
He did not know what to make of it, as I looked outwardly fairly
healthy. In order to deceive him further I once had him fetched in
haste. My friends, Naval Reserve Lieutenants Elson and Filter, who
helped me in many other details, told him that I had got up and had
suddenly collapsed in a dead faint. I was really feeling rather bad that
day and had been smoking heavily. The doctor, therefore, found me lying
in bed like a log, felt my pulse for a long time, and prescribed milk,
biscuits, and all sorts of medicine.

From that day forward he was really satisfied that I was ill, and I
noticed to my joy that the orderly officer's questions now ceased. When
the evening count was taking place I lay with my head completely hidden
under the clothes, as if I could not stand the glare of the flashlight.
For the first few days the sentry would lift the blanket as he went
past, in order to see my face. But as I was always there next morning
they soon gave this up and were satisfied with the fact that there was
some indistinct bundle under my blankets which must certainly be
identical with Lieutenant Spindler, who was suffering from nervous
breakdown. My bed stood in the middle of the hut with its head to the
door. I always kept the head of the bed covered with a couple of towels,
so that the sergeant, whose duty it was to count the sick men during the
morning parade, could not see me from the door. At first he used to come
to my bed and satisfy himself that I was there. He gave this up after a
time, and simply called out, 'Are you there, Lieut. Spindler?' whereupon
I would raise one hand and he would trot off quite satisfied.

Everything was going splendidly. Occasionally I got up and walked about
for a couple of hours, leaning on a stick like a helpless old man, took
an interest in the theatre, and went for treatment to the English
dentist who was, at the same time, an officer of the guard. The day was
now drawing near, and I had to take a certain number of officers into my
confidence. The best for my purpose were Lieut.-Commander von Spiegel
(the author of 'U 202'), who had recently been captured, and the Turkish
commander, Hakki, who helped me in my attempt in the most faithful
manner and by every means in their power. A tennis tournament, which was
to last several days, was held about this time, and helped us
considerably. As 'sportsmen,' the English were much interested in it and
took it as a matter of course that the court was rolled every morning
and evening. The team that drew the big roller consisted of ten or
twelve men, but Spiegel saw to it that at least twenty men took a hand
and pushed the roller up and down with much shouting. The rolling
usually lasted till the time of closing the ground. Then the roller was
left behind and the noisy team trooped off to the inner portion of the
camp. The sentries slowly got so accustomed to this game that they never
troubled to look when the roller team gave their Indians' war-whoop. I
occasionally lent a hand also in the work of rolling the court, so that
my presence later on should excite no suspicion. Some of the largest
wicker chairs, with the wickerwork carried right down to the ground, on
which the spectators sat during the day, were left during the night on
the court. This also excited no suspicion.

So far all was well. Our hour had come. If our calculations were correct
and everything went smoothly, we ought to reach the flying ground in
four to six hours. We were provided with all necessaries for a
twenty-four hours' march. The food we had saved up in spite of the
ever-dwindling ration. We also had maps, English money, and a couple of
strong pocket-knives. Unfortunately, we had no wire-cutters. In spite of
the risk, therefore, we had to try to get through the barbed-wire
entanglement by means of our hands. A pair of stout gloves, which
afterwards proved more a hindrance than a help, were intended to protect
us somewhat against cuts and scratches. In case we should have to enter
a large aerodrome by daylight (which would be the case if we did not
find the little flying ground close to the railway line), we got
together or manufactured complete flyingmen's uniforms--airmen's helmets
made of scraps of leather and cloth, and proper big flying-goggles made
of window-glasses (which we had cut into shape under water) mounted in
chamois leather. The glass was from a pane which we had broken for this
purpose in the commandant's office.

In this costume, with our puttees, our leather waistcoats, and our
goggles, I was convinced we could march on to any big flying-ground and
enter any shed where no work was being done. The more we bluffed, the
more likely we were to succeed. At an aerodrome of forty to fifty
hangars one man often does not know another. If therefore an engine in
a hangar were started up (W. had given me the necessary instruction)
nobody would take any notice, especially if we showed enough
self-confidence. In my opinion the greatest difficulty and danger would
be in approaching the German coast, when we should certainly be fired
upon. So long as we were flying over England we should be safe. Wind and
weather were extremely favourable. We therefore determined to leave the
inhospitable spot on Wednesday the 12th July, 1917. It was only then
that I thought seriously about the dangers attendant on an attempt at
escape. When Prondczinsky escaped, the commandant court-martialled a
sentry who, out of kindness of heart, had failed to fire at once at the
fugitive. But these were only passing thoughts. The thought that next
morning we might be on German soil silenced all other considerations.
Our faithful helpers believed so confidently in the success of our
venture that they gave us letters for home.

Next morning, when play in the tournament was continued, a couple of
large wicker chairs were carried on to the tennis ground, and under the
seats of these our kits were fastened. The chairs were placed thirty or
forty yards from the drain, and during the whole of the day were
occupied or kept under observation by the initiated, so that no
unauthorised person should knock them over and reveal the whole secret.
Lieut. Böttcher of the Marine Artillery, who was of the same height and
had the same coloured hair as I, made the most frantic efforts all day
to change the parting of his hair from the left side to the right, the
side on which I wore it. He had very kindly offered to occupy my bed
during the evening count, in order to make the English think I was still
there. This experiment, as we afterwards discovered, succeeded
splendidly. Lying in my bed he would pull up the clothes so that only
the back of his head could be seen. Then, as soon as the orderly officer
had passed, he would hastily regain his own room on the first floor by a
roundabout way, and would be lying there in his own bed before the
orderly officer arrived.

In order that he should pass muster during the morning count also we had
arranged that he should be sitting at my table with his back to the
door, shaving, before the sergeant came. If he lathered his face well
and turned round only very slightly when the sergeant called my name,
the dodge would work all right. W. appointed a proxy in the same way.
Two other men saw that we were entered three times a day in the sick
list. In payment for this service they shared our rations between them!
We also made arrangements for heading off the doctor in case he should
appear in the hut and ask for his patients. We reckoned that by these
arrangements we should gain half a day, at the most a whole day, before
our flight was discovered. But, as we learned later, our comrades played
their parts so well that the English did not know of our escape till
four days after. And then it was only through an unlucky accident, for
which our friends were not responsible.

During the day von Spiegel organised for the evening a regular series
of 'feint attacks,' which were absolutely necessary if our attempt was
to succeed. For each one of the several sentries who guarded the camp, a
few officers and men were told off. Their whole duty was, during the
time the court was being rolled, to attract the attention of the Tommies
in their neighbourhood, so that the latter should forget their duties
for a few minutes. Special measures had to be taken in order to distract
the attention of the guards nearest to us. In one corner a couple of
officers, after an exchange of words, were to start fighting; at another
corner an officer was to give a lecture, supplemented by pictures; at
the third corner orderlies were to give an acrobatic display, etc. To
crown all, our bandmaster arranged to give an open-air concert in the
evening, which, if our absence had not been discovered before tattoo,
was to end up with the tune, 'Good-bye, friends; to horse! to horse!'



CHAPTER XXVII

THE ESCAPE


When all these details had been arranged I went just before the evening
muster--the last which I hoped to attend here--to the commandant and
submitted for his approval a sketch which I had made for a theatre
curtain. He was quite pleased with it and also with my assurance that my
health was now so much improved that I hoped shortly to open our
theatre. The good man really believed that the theatre was my only
interest. How was he to know that I intended to give that same evening
my first and only performance, and that I was wearing the costume for
the part under my uniform at that very moment?

When the guard officers and N.C.O.'s appeared for the evening count I
was convinced that everything would go according to plan. Careful
observation extending over several weeks had taught us in what order the
various officers, N.C.O.'s, and sentries performed their duties and
relieved one another. I had chosen this particular day because the
officers whose turn it was to take the count and do the rounds were
somewhat less strict than their comrades. Likewise we had calculated
that the sentry most dangerous to us, perched as he was in his crow's
nest only ten yards from the drain, would be relieved by an old soldier
(who was short-sighted and wore glasses) just before the time we had
fixed on for disappearing into the hole.

The count passed quickly and without incident. The English appeared to
suspect nothing, and as soon as the 'parade' (as they called the count)
was over, the officers of the guard prepared to go in to mess. As the
dentist was one of them, I hurried after him and asked him if it would
be convenient for me to come to him next day. I pretended that a back
tooth was still paining me. In his usual kind way he tried to comfort
me, explaining that he would be away for two or three days, as he was
going on leave that evening, but that he would willingly help me on the
following Monday! He disappeared through the gate of the compound and I
raced off in the opposite direction--to the tennis-court, where I was
anxiously expected. I had already taken leave of my friends before the
evening muster. The whole camp was feverishly excited; for owing to the
large number who were actively helping us, our secret had unavoidably
become known to others who were taking no active part.

The rolling had already begun, accompanied by the usual war-whoops, W.
standing with several others on the cross-bar of the roller. I took a
place at one of the shafts. To the left of us was the sentry with the
glasses craning his neck to see the strange book which the officers
sitting on the grass under his crow's nest were studying. Von Spiegel
had had the brilliant idea of cutting out all sorts of coloured pictures
from magazines and making them up into a gigantic scrapbook. He was
sitting now at the end of the court with his big book explaining to my
friends Filter and Elson the incongruity of the pictures. All three were
laughing merrily, and the sentry, who understood not a word, was much
interested. A glance round at the other sentries satisfied me that the
other 'feint attacks' were drawing the enemy. The acrobats especially
appeared to be holding the attention of the sentries. Now was the time
to act. I made a sign to W. We pushed the roller once more forward, and
then back close to the drain. There was a sudden bump, and my friend lay
in the hole. None of the sentries had noticed anything.

One more turn up and down with the roller and I jumped in face
downwards. W.'s head came in forcible contact with my heels, but I could
not avoid it. Fortunately, his loud 'Auw!' was lost in the yells of the
roller-team. With strained attention we waited to see if anything
happened.

Everything seemed to be going on as usual. For about ten minutes more we
heard the roller. Then the noise died down--the roller-team was
retiring. Now and again we heard a loud laugh or a burst of applause.
The humorous acrobats were apparently still busy. We heard von Spiegel
say, 'Did you ever see anything so silly?' Then he closed his book with
a bang, and we knew that the three of them were leaving the
tennis-court. As they passed our trench they whispered, 'All clear!'
and then, '_Bon voyage!_' Then it gradually became quiet. The footsteps
of the passers-by became fewer and fewer, till they finally ceased. It
was time to close the gates of the recreation ground. Soon we heard the
shrill whistle of the sergeant responsible for the closing of the gates.
By the well-known blast we recognised that it was 'our' man. We need
have no worries on that account. Now, for the first time, I was able to
take notice of the trench into which we had wedged ourselves and in
which we concealed ourselves only by the utmost efforts. For it was
neither broad enough nor long enough for two big men like us to stretch
ourselves in it. By Jove! but it was a dirty hole! And not nearly so
comfortable as it looked when seen from above! The clayey bottom was
covered with a thin layer of water which we had had no opportunity of
draining away. This was very unfortunate, for we could reckon on having
to spend three or four hours here before venturing into the open. Most
unpleasant of all were the numerous black beetles, ants, and other
little animals which swarmed out of every hole and crawled boldly
through our hair, over our faces, and down the backs of our necks, while
we dared not make the slightest move to prevent them lest the sentry a
few yards away should hear us. Now that the tennis-court was empty, it
was so quiet that the slightest move could be heard. If I could only
have turned over on the other side! My bones were getting so horribly
stiff in this uncomfortable position. The situation even after a quarter
of an hour became so damnable that neither W. nor I could suppress an
occasional curse or groan. But it was no good: we had to bow to the
inevitable.

Slowly the time passed. The minutes seemed hours. Eagerly we listened
for the tower-clock to strike. Never in all my life has time appeared to
go so slow.

'Listen!' whispered W. suddenly. We could hear footsteps approaching.
The whole field seemed to echo with them. My heart beat faster and
faster. Who could it be? The steps of the sentry in his crow's nest
stopped. Then we heard him talking to some one.

Had they noticed something? Instinctively, as if to conceal ourselves,
we buried our faces so deep in the muddy soil that we could hardly
breathe.

A regular ostrich-trick! All the same, it comforted us somewhat. In a
few minutes the voices ceased and the steps retreated again. We gave a
sigh of relief. But next moment we had another fright. Something was
rustling in the grass near us. From time to time the noise stopped. We
both had the feeling that some one was stealing upon us. Perhaps it was
one of the men who had just been speaking to the sentry? The rustling
noise came nearer and nearer.

As if to torture me to the utmost, a black beetle at this moment crawled
over my face and walked into my left ear. I suffered agonies. What was I
to do? All my limbs began to tremble. The wretched beast was burrowing
further. Damnation! I could stand it no longer. W. was anxiously
pressing his head against my feet to keep me from moving. But it was no
use. I had to turn round slightly in order to shake the pestilent beetle
out of my ear. As I did so I saw something that almost made me burst out
laughing. Instead of the soldier's head which I expected to see, I saw a
fine buck rabbit looking down at us full of curiosity. Another false
alarm.

In the course of the evening many more of these ill-mannered quadrupeds
came to our hiding-place and jumped over us or stared at us with
astonishment. Some of them scooted away when they caught sight of us.
Perhaps they, too, had been infected with the _Daily Mail_ disease and
saw a terrible danger in the 'Hun officers.'

Very slowly the time passed. And it would not get dark, much as we
longed for nightfall. In the distance we heard the first sounds of the
concert. The silence was not so marked now, and we could move very
slightly without danger. Every tiny fraction of an inch that we altered
our position was a blessing. In the wet, clayey soil of the drain our
limbs had long become stiff and unmovable. Partly in order to avoid
attracting the sentry's attention by whispering, partly in order to pass
the time, we carried on a conversation in Morse code, making the signs
by gently tapping with our lingers on the side of the trench.

Our conversation was going on nicely when we were suddenly interrupted
by the shriek of the camp siren. Involuntarily we started. Was it an
alarm signal? As we had put our watches in our inside coats we could not
tell what time it was. We strained our ears to hear if anything was
happening. We had not long to wait, for the band immediately struck up
the final march, 'Good-bye, friends! To horse! to horse!' A load fell
from our minds.

The evening muster was now due, and if this also went off all right a
small red lamp was to be shown in the lop middle window of the castle.
It was now slowly becoming twilight; but the minutes still seemed hours,
and it was a long way from being dark enough to leave the trench. We
wondered if the sentry had gone to sleep. The sound of his footsteps had
long ceased, but other noises now began. Cattle grazing in the
surrounding meadows, and numerous deer which came to the neighbouring
drinking place, would rub themselves on the posts which carried the wire
entanglement. In doing so they often entangled their horns in the barbed
wire, causing it to rattle and shake throughout its length. The sentries
had long got accustomed, to these noises (for they occurred every
night), a fact which was extremely favourable to our design. I reckoned
heavily on the negligence of the sentries, for during my numerous
nocturnal excursions I had observed that when it was near midnight and
the orderly officer had visited his sentries, the latter usually put
down their rifles in a corner and either leant against a post and slept
or walked over to the next sentry, fifty yards away. Then they usually
put on a pipe and chatted till the relief came.

The tower-clock struck eleven; so we had already been three hours in
this damnable hole. Another half-hour and we might perhaps risk it. We
carefully raised our heads from time to time above the edge of the
ditch in order to have a peep round. It was now getting dark rapidly.
The neighbouring trees could be seen only very indistinctly. We made
careful 'soundings.' All was quiet. In the top story of the main
building a tiny red lamp burned. We gave each other a nudge of
intelligence.

The sentry who ought to have been keeping watch just above our
hiding-place had either disappeared or gone fast asleep. At least we
could see no trace of him. No need for reflection now. Carefully we rose
and crawled over the edge till we lay full length on the grass, keeping
as low as we possibly could. The numerous electric lights which
surrounded the camp threw their glare far beyond us.

At first we lay like logs and listened. We were not sorry to have a good
stretch, for our limbs were almost paralysed from lying so long on the
cold, wet earth, and it was a long time before the blood began to
circulate. Like Red Indians on the trail we crept forward inch by inch,
pausing every now and then in order to look round and regain our breath;
for with our two suits of clothes, and the thick leather waistcoats
which we wore under our tunics, this creeping was very heavy work. It
was therefore a good half-hour before we reached the wicker chairs and
could unfasten our kits. And this, too, had to be done slowly and
carefully, for the canes of the chairs creaked at every touch.

As soon as we had got all our stuff, we began the return journey in
order to reach the particular spot in the fence which we had selected
as offering the least difficulty. The way back was twice as long as the
first journey. We crawled along, holding our kits partly in both hands,
partly in our teeth. In this manner another half-hour passed. We had
arrived at the wire. Alas, this wire entanglement, seen from the ground
immediately beneath it, was much more tangled and twisted than our
previous cursory examination had led us to think. But this was no time
for reflection and regret.

We felt our way in between the single strands, twisted them aside as far
as possible, and pushed slowly through. In order to get a purchase, we
tried leaning on our hands on the ground. But this was not a success,
for the ground under the entanglement was covered with a network of wire
coiled and twisted in every direction, but hidden by the grass which had
grown up through it, and our hands and knees were soon torn and
bleeding. On every side it caught and tore us. Scarcely had we torn our
clothes free from one strand when we were caught fast by a dozen others.
So far as we could, we helped each other, loosening the barbs from each
other's clothes and bodies. We had worked our way so far that we were
hanging almost in the middle of the entanglement when the tower-clock
struck twelve, and we heard the approaching footsteps of the relieving
sentries. What were we to do? In the few minutes before the reliefs
arrived we could not possibly get clear of the entanglement. A good
three yards of wire still lay ahead of us. To retreat was also
impossible, for if we tried to creep backwards we could not use our
hands to part the wires. So we sat tight, with big drops of blood
coursing down our faces and bodies. 'Quiet!' we whispered to each other,
and tried to hold our breath, for we were panting with our exertions,
and a soldier was coming along the fence whistling cheerfully. We were
in a devil of a hole. If the man discovered us we might expect a bullet
next moment,[19] for there was no escaping here. We tried to turn our
faces downwards, lest they should show up in the darkness.

Two minutes of the most tense expectation! Sweat poured down me from
every pore and my pulse throbbed from the exertion and excitement.
Nearer and nearer came the sentry. Another five paces and he would be up
to us. Thank goodness! The danger was past. The man stared stupidly in
front of him as he came up to us--and passed by! He stopped at the
sentry-box, said something we did not catch, and then went on to the
next box. We gathered all our strength in one great effort to get clear
of the fence. We no longer thought of the wounds we received. Though
every single barb at first had made us wince, all pain was now forgotten
in the excitement of our efforts.

Dragging one's body through a barbed-wire entanglement is incredibly
slow and difficult work. We were becoming visibly weaker, and many times
thought we could go no farther. But inch by inch we struggled towards
the outside wire. Half a yard more--a quarter of a yard, and we should
be there. The last bit was extremely exhausting, for we hardly had
sufficient strength left to part the few strands which separated us from
freedom.

But at last this difficulty also was overcome. Puffing and blowing, we
worked through the labyrinth of wires till we got our heads free. With
our last ounce of strength we helped each other to get body and legs
clear, and then we threw ourselves down, completely exhausted, in the
tall grass. We were, to use an expression of the country, so 'pumped
out,' that for the next ten minutes we could hardly move a limb. But the
thought that at long last we were free did not let us rest long. After a
short rest we set about putting as great a distance as possible between
us and the camp. Unfortunately, it was impossible to avoid leaving
footprints in the tall grass, but we hoped that the heavy dew would soon
straighten up the grass again.

FOOTNOTE:

[19] The author evidently forgot that he was not liable to be shot
without warning. His friend Heward, who was discovered in the position
described, lived, as the author mentions later (p. 235), to occupy the
cell next to his.--Tr.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE MISSING AERODROME


About 200 yards from the camp stood two tall, very old trees. Inside one
of these, which was decayed and hollow, we hid our uniforms (which were
now in tatters), so that the English, when they discovered our absence,
should be under the impression that we had no civilian clothes and were
still in uniform. We made first for the neighbouring wood in order to
reach the road which leads from Donington to Trent. We had to make our
way through thick undergrowth. It was so dark that we could scarcely see
our hands in front of us. Thus it happened that when we were getting out
of the bushes a little later we trod on some big animal which rose
snorting with rage. It was a cow which we disturbed in its sleep, and
which would have angrily thrust its horns into our bodies if we had not
promptly jumped back. Our way then led over hilly pasture-land and over
half a dozen wooden fences to the main road.

Arrived there, we debated whether we should follow the road or go
through the fields. We did not need to deliberate long. A hundred yards
from us, where the road went over a small hill, we heard voices.
Soldiers of the camp guard, no doubt, who were returning from furlough.
No one else would be likely to be there at that time. We at once jumped
over a thorn hedge into a large cornfield. In our endeavour to get away
from these people as quickly as possible, for their dog had suddenly
begun to bark, we rushed blindly forward, each on his own. I stopped
behind a bush to listen. The dog was still barking away, but the voices
were no longer audible. I looked all round but could see no trace of my
companion. I called his name a couple of times. There was no answer.
Then I whistled quietly. Again no answer. Suddenly there was a rustling
noise near me. I held my breath, not knowing whether it was a friend or
an enemy. From time to time the rustling noise went on. Then suddenly I
saw a tall figure in front of me. I clenched my fist ready to strike,
and then I suddenly heard myself called by name. Thank goodness--it was
W. We waited for a while, and as all was again quiet, we turned our
faces south. At the double we went downhill, over cornfields,
clover-fields, and stubble. Our heavy clothing impeded us a good deal.
We were getting horribly thirsty, but could not afford ourselves a
drink, for we had only two small medicine bottles full of whisky, which
we intended to use only in case of dire necessity, and did not know when
we should be able to replenish them.

We had done about a quarter of an hour's run at this pace when the
ground suddenly became soft. We must therefore be near the river. We
plodded slowly forward. Suddenly W. gave a subdued cry. He was almost up
to his hips in a morass. Next moment I was in the same plight.

By great exertion we succeeded in working backwards out of the morass,
which had seemed to be drawing our legs down with irresistible force.
Two steps more and we should probably never have got out of it. Even
when we were clear of it the thought made us shudder.

We felt our way to the right and left. Nothing but reeds and bog. As
progress was impossible in this direction we turned sharp to the right.
According to our reckoning we ought in this way to find one of the bends
of the river. Our only box of matches had got wet in the bog, so that we
could make no use of our map. We could only hope our direction was
correct. We had changed our course so often that we hardly knew in which
direction we were going. We had wandered on for about half an hour when
we struck a railway line. A hundred yards ahead of us the line forked.
We were in a hole again. Where did these rails lead to? We knew from
memory that no railway junction of any sort was shown by our map in this
district. According to our calculations the line on the left ought to
cross the Trent. So off we started again. We climbed the high hedges
which flanked the railway on both sides, and followed the line on the
far side.

In the east it was beginning to dawn. We had reckoned on being at our
aerodrome by this time, and we had not yet reached the Trent. On the
left something bright shimmered through the trees--water! We breathed a
sigh of relief. At this point the Trent was hardly thirty yards wide. We
were on the other side in no time. And now our spirits rose. The
country round here seemed to be quite uninhabited. When it was almost
daybreak we came to a fork in the road. At the corner stood a small
battered sign-post. Now we could see where we had got to. We were nearly
twelve miles out of our way! 'Rotten luck,' we grumbled, and then we
hastened our pace to try to make up the lost ground. But the spirit was
more willing than the body. Our legs could hardly carry us, which was
not to be wondered at after what we had gone through. Our progress
became more painful, and visibly slower. Once we allowed ourselves just
one tiny drop of whisky and a piece of home-made chocolate in order to
revive our failing strength. This brought us another disappointment. In
order to make the chocolate particularly nourishing, W. had put into it
all the sugar he could get. The consequence was that after eating our
'home-manufacture' we got an all-consuming thirst, which we had no means
of satisfying.

We were now getting into a more populous neighbourhood, and we had to be
careful in order to escape observation. We had agreed that if we were
spoken to my companion would pretend to be deaf and dumb, so that his
speech should not betray him. Now and again we met a couple of
labourers. They looked at us with some astonishment, mumbled
'Good-morning,' and plodded on. Once we were spoken to by a man of a
somewhat better class who wanted to know if we had seen a horse and cart
in the direction of so-and-so. I answered in the negative, briefly but
politely. Then we went on again; but we both had a feeling that the man
was looking round at us. This made us uncomfortable. Ahead of us was a
large village. We must avoid it at all costs! That was all very well,
but on the right of the road the fields were under water and the fields
on the left were in the same condition. So there was nothing for it but
to keep straight on.

With our parcels, wrapped up in bright curtain material, under our arms,
we marched through the village as if we were going to work. Fortunately,
we met very few people, and in five minutes we had passed the last house
in the village and were again in open country. In order to reach the
railway-line we were making for we now had to bear to the right. We
found the spot all right where the railway coming from the north crosses
the Trent and bends southwards towards Nottingham. We could not be far
from our objective now. The thought of this gave us new strength. We
marched along for another two hours carefully scanning the country to
the right and left--and found nothing, not the smallest sign which could
lead us to believe that there was a flying-ground in the neighbourhood.

Where on earth could the flying-ground be? We concealed ourselves in
some bushes and studied the map. We were quite right--we had made no
mistake about our position. The aerodrome ought to be somewhere within a
radius of two miles of the spot where we were. Once more we took up the
search, scouting back to the left and right, then forwards again. We
examined the country in this way for four miles round. Not a sign of a
flying-ground--not even an aeroplane to be seen.

Just a moment though! Yes. W. pricked up his ears. 'Here's one coming,'
he said casually, as if it had no interest for us. We could hear the
drone of an engine from the north. Shortly afterwards we saw a tiny
speck in the sky which rapidly grew bigger and bigger. A biplane!
'Ours!' I could hardly conceal my joy. In a few moments he was over us,
and we should soon know where he was going to land. It was scarcely 1200
feet up as he passed us. Eagerly we watched his direction. But the
fellow made no preparation to land; he flew on and on, straight ahead in
his original direction. In a few minutes he was only a dot in the sky
again. We looked at each other questioningly, but we got no answer. We
discussed the pros and cons, and finally decided to go forward for a
while. Perhaps we should find some clue on the way. If not, we decided
we should rest for a while in a wood or cornfield and wait to see if
other aeroplanes came along which might give us a clue to their
objective.

The sun rose higher and higher and beat down mercilessly on our tired
heads. Our thirst was becoming unbearable. If we could only find water!
In the distance we could see a factory. It looked as if it were by the
waterside, and we turned our steps towards it. High bushes hid us from
the eyes of the operatives, and we were able to approach the factory
unseen. We had not been mistaken--we had come to a river. It was none
other than the Trent, which we had crossed during the night. But what a
filthy, smelly stream it was! The surface shimmered with all the colours
of the rainbow. Then we suddenly remembered that below Donington there
was one succession of factories of all sorts, dye-works, and so forth,
along the river. Angrily we turned about and looked round for a
hiding-place--which we soon found.

We lay down in the shadow of some high, thick bushes and tried to
alleviate our burning thirst by sucking the moisture from stalks of
grass. Then we stretched ourselves out in order to get a little rest,
for we were dog-tired. About two o'clock W. woke me up. A dog was
barking close by. Were we being followed already? Our absence must have
been discovered at the camp by this time. I carefully peeped over the
bushes and looked round. A small boy was coming along the road from the
mill playing with a dog. This explained the barking. I went round the
bushes on to the road and then went slowly down to meet the boy in the
hope of getting some information. I dropped a sixpence in the road and
then pretended to be looking for something. The boy fell into the trap,
helped me look for the coin, and found it, whereupon I made him a
present of it. We got into conversation, and I then made use of the same
dodge which had served me in the camp. I mentioned the pilot who had
crashed somewhere in the neighbourhood, but the boy, of course, knew
nothing about him. In the course of the conversation I learned from him
that there must be a flying-ground somewhere close by. Unfortunately,
the boy could give me no details, as he had never seen the place. But he
was able to give me an exact description of the railway lines in the
vicinity. He told me the times of departure of a few trains which went
from the village to Nottingham, and I then gave him a cigarette and
pretended I was going away. As soon as he was out of sight I went to W.
and related what I had learned.

On the strength of this, we decided to continue our search as long as
this was possible without being seen; for we were now coming into
inhabited areas. We would rest at some particularly favourable spot, and
then continue our march during the night. It would be safer to avoid the
high roads as much as possible and keep on one side of them. This was
not so easy as it sounds, for in this district there was hardly a single
field, no matter how small it was, that was not surrounded by a high
fence or hedge. In the majority of cases this was supplemented with a
strand or two of barbed wire. Many times during the next few days we had
to retrace our steps because we had struck one of the numerous unbridged
canals which intersect this district. This water also was undrinkable. I
longed to enter one of the farm-houses and ask for a drink of water, but
it might have caused suspicion. But we were at last so tortured by
thirst that we threw ourselves full length on the grass and greedily
drank the dirty water from a pool which, as all the signs too plainly
showed, served as a watering-place for cattle. In order to fortify
ourselves further we attacked our only tin of sausage ('bribery price,
30s.'), which was beginning to get bad in the excessive heat. We had
long given up all hope of finding fruit or vegetables in the fields. In
this horrible country there appeared to be nothing but grass, filthy
canals hedges, and barbed wire, which was gradually tearing our clothes
to pieces. Luckily we had sewing materials with us, which had already
helped to repair the damage caused by the wire entanglement round the
tennis-court.

Three whole days we wandered round this district, now to the right, now
to the left of the railway-line, hunting for the flying-ground. The
nearest other aerodrome, of which we had exact details, lay too far away
to be reached on foot without provisions for the journey. We had decided
to travel by train only in the last extremity, for it meant jumping on a
passing goods train and travelling as stowaways. If our escape had been
discovered--and we were bound to assume that it had--the first
precaution taken would be to have the railway stations watched. During
the daytime, if we were not tramping, we hid in small thickets or in
little hay-cocks which we made from scraps of hay left behind in the
fields. In these hay-cocks we slept also. We employed our nights in
scouring the country. But for all our search we found nothing--the
little flying-ground remained a mystery.

We were beginning to get tired of this business. We had twice searched
the country on both sides of the railway, and it was impossible that we
should have missed the aerodrome if it existed. In consequence of the
continued strain of the journey and the lack of water and food--we had
now only a couple of slices of dry bread left--our strength was visibly
failing. To make matters worse, the effect of sleeping on the wet
ground, following our long vigil in the tennis-court drain, was that my
old rheumatic pains returned, my knees and right shoulder being
sometimes so sore that I could hardly move.

It was quite plain we could not go on like this, and we decided that
next day we should go to Nottingham, buy some food there, and then go on
by rail to London, whence we could easily reach the big flying-ground at
Hendon.

But before attempting this we had to find out what measures had been
taken in consequence of our escape. In a newspaper of the day before,
which we found on the road, there was no mention whatever of our flight.
This was certainly not what we expected. Perhaps it was a new dodge of
the English to lull us into security so that they should catch us the
more easily? But I couldn't believe the English were so sly, and we were
at a loss for an explanation.

In gorgeous weather we arrived again on the evening of the third day in
the neighbourhood of the Trent. The roads gradually became less
deserted, and the numerous little villas proved that we were approaching
a large town--it was Nottingham. Night after night we had watched its
searchlights in the sky. From time to time we met a couple of anglers
staring straight ahead as they passed. A cyclist asked us if he was on
the right road to X, and I hastily assured him he was, though I had not
the slightest notion where the place was. As we turned a corner we
suddenly met a policeman coming towards us. Careful was the word. With
our pipes in our mouths and our hands thrust deep in our pockets, we
passed by, spitting and cursing in the approved manner. The man
measured us from head to foot with a glance, but fortunately did not
address us. The noise of an aeroplane overhead distracted his attention.
We, too, looked up and saw, only about 300 feet up, a large biplane
following the course of the Trent which we were now skirting. We
wondered if he was searching for us.

On the left of the road a small farm came in sight, and as luck would
have it we met at the same moment a boy who had asked me that same
morning for a cigarette. As I had given him two or three he now greeted
us with a friendly smile from the far side of the road. I went up to him
and asked him if he lived here; and as he answered in the affirmative, I
asked him if his mother was at home and if she would sell us some food.

He ran across the road into the house and came back at once with the
news that his mother was at home and asked us to come in. W. pretended
to be deaf and dumb, so I alone accompanied the boy, telling him at the
same time that as the weather was so fine we intended to picnic in the
open air, a plan of which the youngster thoroughly approved. His mother
received me with a friendly 'Good-afternoon, sir,' and invited me to sit
down in the kitchen. Then a long conversation about the war and the
'damned Germans' ensued, while the good woman was busy making some
excellent tea. Then she made up a parcel of cream-cheese and bread and
butter wrapped in lettuce leaves, and gave me a big bottle of tea. I
paid a shilling for the whole lot, expressed my thanks, and took leave
of the good people, and then hurried off with my rich booty to W., who
was waiting anxiously for me under a tree. Only at one other time have I
eaten so greedily and so much at one time. That was the day a year
later, when I was released from captivity and a proper meal was put
before me for the first time!

Thus fortified, we continued our journey. But I, first of all, called
the boy in order to get some information from him. I learned in the
course of the conversation that there was a large aerodrome north of
Nottingham, on the other side of the Trent. This was probably correct,
for we had seen several machines flying in this direction. 'Oh,' I said
in astonishment, when he spoke of the big biplane which we had recently
seen and which he said was stationed at Nottingham, 'I thought it was
from the small aerodrome by the side of the railway.'

'Oh, no, sir,' the boy answered, with a smile at my ignorance, 'the
place you mean has been closed for a long time. It was closed about six
weeks ago.'

I very nearly swore. But I restrained myself in time, and took leave of
the boy, saying we still had a long tramp in front of us.

So all our wanderings had been useless. The last news about the
aerodrome had come to the camp about eight weeks previously. It was
undoubtedly correct then. It was our misfortune that the aerodrome had
been closed down in the meantime. Who could have foreseen it? But there
was no time for vain regrets. Besides, we had other information now; so,
up, and on to Nottingham!



CHAPTER XXIX

RECAPTURE


We studied the map and found that practically in the centre of
Nottingham there was a bridge over the Trent which was, at this point,
about twice as broad as at Donington. We had to cross by this bridge in
order to get to the aerodrome, for it was out of the question to think
of swimming across the river, as I could hardly raise my arms now as
high as my chest. With new courage and new strength we looked round for
a sleeping place in a neighbouring field, so that we could walk into
Nottingham at dawn next morning. But we had hardly slept two hours when
water began to trickle through the thin layer of hay with which we had
covered ourselves. Damnation! A thunderstorm was in full swing and we
had been so tired that we noticed nothing till it was too late. Sleep
was now out of the question, for everything was wet and clammy. So we
got on our legs again and followed the lights of Nottingham, which we
could see reflected in the sky.

As the morning dawned we were almost at the entrance to the town. The
streets were thronged with workpeople flocking to their factories. From
the left came a crowd of about fifty workmen and women who turned down
the way we were going. We joined these. As we went along we met numerous
policemen, but they fortunately gave us only a cursory glance.

We were passing the first houses of the town. The approach was very
uninviting; nothing but monotonous small red houses, and numerous
factory chimneys. The streets were not particularly well kept. In front
of us walked a tiny old man who carried a sack on his bowed shoulders,
and every now and then poked with his stick the rubbish heaps along the
street. From time to time he picked up something and put it in his bag.
Thus it came that he was sometimes in front of us, sometimes behind us,
for we stopped now and then to find out our way and to look at the
advertisement boards. At the corner of a street we came upon a huge
notice in bold print:--


     ATTENTION!

     German officers escaped from Donington Hall on Saturday evening.

     Their names and description are:--

     KARL SPINDLER.--German naval officer, aged 30, complexion fresh,
     hair dark, eyes blue, stout built, height 5 ft. 11 in., clean
     shaven, speaks good English, dress probably civilian.

     MAT ERNST WINKELMANN.--German naval officer, aged 23, complexion
     fair, hair dark brown, eyes brown, slim built, height 5 ft. 10 in.,
     clean shaven, speaks little English, dress probably civilian,
     jawbones have been broken by bullet.

     ARPAD HORN.--Austrian military officer, aged 28, complexion fair,
     hair dark, eyes dark brown, stout built, height 5 ft. 6½ in., short
     stubby moustache, dress probably civilian, mole on face.


We had expected something of this sort, and were therefore not surprised
to see this hue-and-cry notice on the wall. What did surprise us was the
fact that we had been given a companion. I certainly knew that my friend
Arpad Horn, H.M. Austro-Hungarian Honved-Husar Lieutenant, and at the
same time director of our officer's band, had been thinking of escaping.
But how and when did he get away? The notice said 'Saturday evening.'
Surely our escape had been discovered before then! It was a mystery to
us. But we were glad that the notice mentioned three, for it gave us a
better chance of escaping suspicion.

We followed the tram lines, and were getting near the centre of the
town. It was about seven o'clock, and the streets were showing signs of
life. It was getting easier now to efface ourselves in the crowds. When
the first shops were opened I bought a few cigarettes and asked how far
it was to the bridge. I was told we were only two minutes from it. We
hastened on in order to get on the other side of the Trent as soon as
possible. A few steps brought us to the bridge. It was almost deserted.

On the left of the entrance, which was closed by a barrier, was a
toll-keeper's house which had to be passed by means of a turnstile. Near
it several bridge-officials and two policemen were standing. Who could
tell but that they were posted there for our benefit? In any case it
appeared inadvisable to cross at that moment. As we walked on we agreed
that it would be better to wait for the great crowd that would be
crossing at eight o'clock, as we should then have a better chance of
getting across unnoticed. We therefore turned down a neighbouring avenue
and sat down on a seat.

It was a glorious fresh morning. I must say that this avenue, with its
rich green grass and the birds twittering in the trees, was the only
thing, so far, that had appealed to me in Nottingham. The appeal did not
last long.

We had sat for about ten minutes and not a living thing had appeared in
the avenue, when a policeman appeared round a corner on the right with
two rascally looking scoundrels on each side of him. It looked as if he
had all four of them manacled together.

I had pulled out a notebook and was reading out figures to my companion
in order to look as if the five men did not interest us in the least.
They, too, appeared to be taking no notice of us. We thought they were
passing by all right. Then the unexpected happened. Just as they got
abreast of us they did a sudden 'Left wheel! March!' hurled themselves
on us, and held us down. It all happened so quickly that we had no time
to think of escaping. Moreover, it would have been useless to try. The
amusing feature about the business was that we recognised one of the
rascally-looking scoundrels as the tiny old man whom we had been pitying
a few hours previously.

Then the explanation occurred to me. We had been observed by detectives
and enticed into a trap. Before answering the policeman's abrupt
questions I requested him politely to loose us, which he did. He then
asked who and what we were, where we were going, etc. I told him our
names were Grieve and Kendall, that we were mechanics and that we were
going across the bridge to work. Then he asked where we lived, and I
told him the name of a little village in the neighbourhood. I felt that
the game was up, but wanted to fool him a bit further.

But the policeman was not to be fooled. He put his big paw on my
shoulder and said in the most matter-of-fact tone, 'No, sir! You are
Lieutenant Spindler, and your friend is Winkelmann from Donington Hall,
aren't you?' And I answered in the same matter-of-fact tone, 'Yes, sir,
you are right! I congratulate you.'

My answer struck the policeman as being so funny and at the same time so
satisfactory, that he now treated us with marked politeness, and begged
us to follow him. There was nothing else for it. We were caught again,
and our fine schemes had come to naught. And so near success, too! We
could not suppress a loud curse.

I had foreseen at the commencement, and had agreed with W. before we
escaped, that there was no object in denying facts if a policeman should
arrest us. In such a case excuses would be useless, for without papers
to prove our identity we should not be set free. And it was only
necessary to telephone to Donington Hall to get an English officer to
come over and identify us.

We had not far to go to the police station--it was only a hundred yards
from the seat we had selected under the trees.

What followed can be told in a few words. At the police station we had
to undress and hand over all our belongings. Only a handkerchief was
given back to us. When the inspector saw our flying-kit he nodded
approvingly and said, 'Yes, we had expected that! The aerodromes had
been warned!'

After a short time we were put in a 'Black Maria' and taken across the
town. On the way we stopped at various police stations to take more
passengers on board. They were all English soldiers in uniform. Their
first question on getting in was: 'Are you absentees?' Desertion seemed
to be taken as a matter of course here. The policeman who caught us
assured me that they collected twenty or twenty-five deserters every
morning, which was very pleasant news for us.

The van stopped outside the police headquarters. We got out and were
taken to the court cells. These, as well as the passages, were guarded
by strong iron bars. A couple of detectives rushed at us and poured out
their hatred of Germany on us in the most abusive terms. We had only a
compassionate smile for these wretches.

Then the chief constable arrived, a very pleasant, fine old gentleman.
He expressed his admiration for our very clever escape, and asked if
there was anything we wanted. I asked him to let us pay for a warm
breakfast and a few cigarettes out of the money taken from us, a request
which he immediately granted. My complaint in regard to the conduct of
the detectives evidently pained him, and he promised me relief as well
as the punishment of the offenders. They kept a respectful distance from
us after that. Shortly afterwards we were taken to the Guildhall--purely
as a formality. We had to sit on the same seat with men and women
accused of theft and other crimes. On a raised bench in front of us sat
the chairman and other magistrates, reporters, detectives, and
policemen. The seats on both sides were filled with spectators. It had
evidently been noised abroad that the two 'Hun officers' had been
recaptured.

A number of offenders were summarily dealt with, and then it was our
turn. There was a general movement in the court-room. We had only two or
three questions to answer. The mayor refused to believe that we had
escaped on Thursday, as the Commandant of Donington Hall had expressly
stated that we had broken out on Saturday. The explanation was obvious,
and the consequence was that later on the English Parliament occupied
itself with the question for a whole week, and asked for an explanation
of the fact that two German officers had been able to escape in spite of
the strong guard and the electrified wire fence. As a matter of fact,
the electric arrangement had been out of action for a long time. I
answered all questions without hesitation. But I avoided, then and
afterwards, giving any explanation of the manner of our escape.

This remained a mystery to the English, and we had many a joke about it.
Towards evening an escort of twelve men came to fetch us. They turned
out to be our old friends of the camp guard. They were very excited, and
told us all about the impression which our escape had made. We now heard
how our flight had been discovered. As our escape had not been
discovered, our friend Horn, the day after our disappearance, suddenly
decided to leave the camp also--which, with the help of the stout
roller-team, he succeeded in doing. Then, as another day went by and our
absence had not been discovered, the roller-team again got to work, and
again one of them disappeared into the ditch. This time it was my
messmate, Heward. Unfortunately, he got stuck in the wire entanglement
and was discovered. Then the whole affair came to light. Otherwise our
absence might not have been noticed for another week, and we might have
succeeded in flying from Nottingham. It was rotten luck for all
concerned.

Donington Hall had at once alarmed the whole country, especially the
railway stations and aerodromes. Policemen, soldiers on foot, on
bicycles, and on horseback, airmen, and detectives--all were mobilised
against us. In Nottingham the approaches to the town were watched by
police and detectives, and it was one of the latter who eventually
discovered us. In answer to my question how the detective had
discovered us, I learned that he had watched us for a long time without
noticing our identity with the wanted men. Then he suddenly remarked
that whenever we chanced to get out of step we quite mechanically
regained step, and he said to himself, 'Those are certainly two German
officers.' It was too silly.

The Nottingham local paper, which we happened to see, was very
interesting. It showed again what importance the English attach to the
escape of German officers. There was a short notice to the effect that
the Imperial Chancellor, von Bethman Hollweg, had resigned, but in huge
type right across the page was the heading: 'Two German officers from
Donington recaptured!' Then followed columns of fanciful descriptions of
our flight, mostly inventions.

We received a fine reception at the camp. All the officers and men of
the guard were there. But I saw no angry faces--quite the contrary, in
fact. The assistant commandant. Major Cook, whom I had learned to
respect on account of his very correct conduct, assured me many times
that he and his friends, in spite of all the trouble and unpleasantness
which our escape had caused, were very sorry that we did not get away;
our plan was so clever that we deserved to succeed. The whole camp was
afoot when we were marched in. Our appearance, of course, caused much
merriment. One English officer assured me that he had never seen a
costume like ours off the stage, and he could not understand how we had
got so far. It may be that he was right. We were put in a detention
cell, which had formerly been a horse-box, and remained there for three
weeks, till the verdict of the court martial was promulgated. Heward was
already in the adjoining cell. Three days later Arpad Horn arrived. He
had been caught in London. He was entering a theatre at the moment, as
he intended to go on a journey next day.

Six months' imprisonment was what we had to expect. It might perhaps be
more in my case, as the large map had been found in my possession which
gave all the flying-grounds, and, along the coast, all the lightships
and signalling stations, as far as our information extended. In
Nottingham it had already been hinted to me that I might have to pay
dearly for the map, as it might constitute evidence of espionage.

However, matters did not turn out so seriously. In fact, we were
extraordinarily lucky. While we were on our way a conference took place
at the Hague between the English and German representatives, at which it
was agreed among other things that attempted escapes should, in future,
be punished with not more than fourteen days' imprisonment. So, about
nine weeks later, we had a joyful surprise when our doors were suddenly
opened and we were informed that we were released from imprisonment.



CHAPTER XXX

THE PRIZE COURT INQUIRY


As it was feared, however, that we had got to know the lie of the land
too well, we were taken next day to another camp, Holyport. But as the
commandant there had no desire to lose his position through some new
prank of mine, he took the first opportunity of getting rid of me. A
month later, therefore, I again changed my domicile, arriving at
Kegworth, unfortunately a day too late to take part in the escape of the
twenty-three officers under Captain von Müller of the _Emden_. They had
dug, with incredible trouble, a tunnel forty-five yards long, but were,
unfortunately, recaptured a few days later.

The head-commandant of Kegworth, Lieutenant-Colonel P., an old Indian
Army man, was the commandant of Donington Hall also, which was only five
miles away. He was a terrible old martinet, but at bottom not a bad
fellow, and one could get along with him all right if one knew how to
treat him. Cheek was the only means of impressing him. He was not
particularly pleased at my arrival, for which I did not blame him. When
he was walking down the ranks and saw me again for the first time among
his flock, he growled, 'I wish I had never seen you,' to which I
replied, 'The same here.' This struck him as being so natural that he
had to laugh. I always returned him a Roland for his Oliver, and I must
say that I was one of the few people who always got on well with this
strange man--in spite of all the squabbles we had.

A few months passed, during which, of course, I was not idle. I had, on
my arrival, found some comrades of the same mind as myself, and we at
once got to work. But it was soon evident that there were even less
chances of escape from Kegworth than from Donington, especially after
the escape of the twenty-three officers. In the meantime I bombarded the
commandant with written complaints which I wished to be forwarded to the
War Office and Admiralty in London. The consequence was that, in
November, I was summoned to appear before the Prize Court about the
middle of the month. Now, I thought, was the opportunity for putting
into practice the plan of escape which I had prepared. I had waited a
long time for an opportunity of this sort, and had made the most
detailed preparations. So had the English, as I discovered when we were
ready to start. Instead of the one officer who previously accompanied
me, I now had an escort of three officers and four men with fixed
bayonets! This had not entered into my calculations. But better was to
come. Instead of being taken to the Prize Court, where I had been cited
as a witness, I was taken to the military detention barracks at Cromwell
Gardens, where, for nearly two weeks, I was left to my reflections. No
notice whatever was taken of my questions and complaints. I could only
conclude that I was going to be charged again in connection with the
_Aud_ expedition.

The diminutive, dirty, icy-cold cell at Cromwell Gardens, and the
outrageous treatment which I experienced at the hands of the officers
there, who were not ashamed to insult me in the most vulgar manner, to
knock me about and threaten me (weakened as I was by bad food), made
these days almost worse than the first days of my imprisonment at
Queenstown and Chatham. The cell was on the fourth floor of the
building. I could see from my window the neighbouring houses and
churches, and thus learned that I was in the South Kensington district,
which had recently been attacked, time after time, by our bombing
machines. Had I been lodged here by way of reprisal or as a protection
against further attacks? After some days I was taken in a motor-lorry to
the Prize Court. There I saw my first and second mates again, but had
time to exchange only a few words with them.

The Prize Court, presided over by the Germanophobe, Sir Samuel Evans
(who has since died) with the collaboration of the Attorney-General, Sir
Frederick Smith, who had previously conducted the case for the Crown in
the Casement trial, was only a farce. Sir Frederick Smith had just
finished a long speech and sat down with a self-satisfied air, squinting
alternately at me and at the tail of his wig, which appeared to be
annoying him. Judges, interpreters, pressmen, and spectators strained
their necks in order to have a good look at me. Then I had to go into
the witness box and was allowed to make a few statements, which led to a
lively exchange of words between Sir S. Evans and Sir F. Smith on the
one hand, and me on the other, for I protested against the treatment
accorded me, and against this, in my opinion, illegal interrogation.

In a few minutes I was back in the motor-lorry on my way to the prison,
conscious of having effected nothing.

My food consisted of a couple of slices of bread morning and evening,
watery tea, and some thin, greasy soup, which was supplemented by either
rotten herrings or a couple of potatoes. The herrings I threw away. The
food was served in a dirty mug without a handle. My bed was a torn
straw-mattress covered with old blood-stains. This was the only luxury I
had. There was not even a towel. I got fresh air only through the
draughty cracks of my ill-fitting window--too much fresh air, in fact,
for it was bitterly cold November weather.

I noticed by the behaviour of the warders that something strange was
happening. It was not till afterwards that I learned I had been the
subject of lively debates in the House of Commons and in the Press. It
was not altogether on account of the _Libau_ affair.

A Member of Parliament had asked how it was possible that a Hun officer
should breakfast in a restaurant-car in the company of a British
officer, and be served by a British waiter?

The question referred to my journey to London to the Prize Court (or
rather to the detention barracks), during which the English officer
escorting me had offered me some refreshment. During this time of
national danger the English Parliament debated the silly question for
nearly a week! So I was once more the target of satires and cartoons in
all the scurrilous papers, under headings such as, 'The Hun officer in
the dining-car,' or 'Casement's pal.'

Fortunately, when the situation was getting unbearable, I found a
sympathetic soul, an Irish soldier of the guard. Also, by means of Morse
signals, which we made on the walls and ceilings, I discovered that a
number of German seamen were interned here. Bit by bit I learned that
they had been taken from submarines which had recently been destroyed.
The poor fellows were very badly treated. My acquaintance with the Irish
soldier then became very useful, for I was able to buy food and
cigarettes for them, as well as for myself, restoring somewhat our lost
strength.

The Irishman was a good fellow, as became apparent afterwards, so I
plucked up courage and asked him to sell some valuables for me, which I
still possessed. He did this, and he also brought me a sum of money
which one of my mates had handed to him for me. I was now the lucky
possessor of some pounds sterling. All I wanted now was a suit of
civilian clothes, and some one to open my cell door. My Irish friend,
after some hesitation, promised to help me. It was his turn on guard the
next night but one, when he would bring me the necessary clothes and
help me to escape. He explained to me also how he proposed to divert
suspicion from himself. His scheme was not a bad one, and I looked
forward to his coming as a child waits for Santa Claus.

But again Fate willed otherwise. Next morning an escort came into my
cell to take me to ----; they did not know or would not say where. Late
that evening I arrived back in camp. Some of the bank-notes I fastened
by means of sticking-plaster to the bare soles of my feet; the others I
made into a thin roll, which I soiled and then hid under my
straight-combed hair. I had often tried this method, and it succeeded
again this time. After two years' experience as a prisoner of war, I
knew the ropes.

When I arrived at the camp I had to go to the orderly room, where the
whole staff was assembled. There I had to undress and was thoroughly
searched. As I had to stand on my feet for this operation no one dreamt
that my hoard was concealed under them. Feeling that I was safe once
more, I could not overcome an impulse to have a little joke at the
expense of the English. I laid some small silver and copper coins on the
table in order to show them that I had obtained money in prison--for
they knew that I had no money when I entered the cell at Cromwell
Gardens.--General stupefaction. All eyes and mouths were open with
astonishment. The commandant was the first to recover his speech. 'Have
you got any more money?' he asked me, and with a most insolent smile I
answered, 'Yes!' 'How much?' he asked quickly. 'Several pounds.' 'Where
have you the money concealed?' 'You must find out that for yourself,' I
answered calmly. 'I can force you to tell me,' said the commandant. 'You
won't do that,' I said. 'First of all you have no right to do it, and
secondly if you did you would find nothing.'

For a moment the Englishman was at a loss for an answer. He shrugged his
shoulders and looked questioningly at his officers, who were apparently
less surprised than he was at my impudence; for it was not the first
time they had seen me in this rôle.

After a pause the commandant ordered me to dress. The case was
dismissed. This was the action of a gentleman. A few minutes later the
money was in the safe keeping of one of my friends, who listened for
hours to the recital of my adventures.

But the inhuman treatment which I had experienced during the last
fourteen days had brought me so low that I broke down next day; and I
lay in bed several weeks suffering from fever and from a horrible
skin-disease caused by the dirty mattress. The excitement and the
exertions of the last few months, in conjunction with bad and
insufficient food, had sapped my strength and I no longer felt equal to
the fatigues of another attempt at escape.

Fortunately, I had not to worry long over new schemes. In accordance
with the Hague Convention of the same year I was exchanged and sent to
Holland after exactly two years of captivity.


GLASGOW: W. COLLINS SONS AND CO. LTD.



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moving book.'--_Times Literary Supplement._

'A wholly delightful book--a thing of tears, and smiles, and
laughter.'--_Evening Standard._

'Mr O'Riordan has done us a real service in writing _Adam of Dublin_. It
is definitely and defiantly romantic ... humour, fantasy, caricature,
satire ... our only complaint is that its 300 pages are grievously short
measure.'--_Observer._

'The work of genius, informed with a rare wisdom and understanding ...
the mere reading is a sheer joy ... a wonderful book.'--_New Witness._


_READY SHORTLY_

ADAM AND CAROLINE

'We are promised a sequel to _Adam of Dublin_--namely, _Adam and
Caroline_. It will be waited for with pleasure and
excitement.'--_Outlook._


THE PEOPLE OF THE RUINS

By Edward Shanks

Author of _The Queen of China_, etc.

'A fine, full-blooded story ... quaint and inviting.'--_Times Literary
Supplement._

'A powerfully imagined description of England, as it will be when
Communism has attained its full triumph.... He handles one of the
strangest love stories in the world with masterly skill.'--_British
Weekly._


FORGOTTEN REALMS

By Bohun Lynch

Author of _Unofficial_, etc.

'Curiously and delicately written, a study of the shadowy companion that
walks beside every man, of that secret being who is manifested in the
twilight of the spirit, and in the hour of dreams.'--_Evening News._

'Fanciful and elusive ... remarkably well done, with the delicacy of a
strong man's hand.'--_Morning Post._


THE ADVENTUROUS LADY

By J. C. Snaith

'It has breezy humour and a whimsical charm, and those clever little
character sketches of which Mr Snaith never fails us.'--_Evening
Standard._

'A delicious skit on the conventionally romantic novel--quite the most
amusing book we have read for a long time.'--_New Witness._


_READ ALSO BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

LOVE LANE

'Clever writing, full of charm ... a very cheerful tale.'--_Punch._


THE VALLEY OF INDECISION

By Major Christopher Stone, D.S.O., M.C.

'A thoughtful and interesting study of the spiritual struggles of our
time ... written with humour and real understanding.'--_Times Literary
Supplement._


WANG THE NINTH

THE STORY OF A CHINESE BOY

By Putnam Weale

Author of _The Altar Fire_, etc.

'A wonderful story ... a live thing ... a masterpiece of reality.'--_New
Witness_.

'Unusual and fascinating.'--_Athenæum._

'Most convincing.... Mr Weale is a true artist.'--_Daily News._


A TALE THAT IS TOLD

By Frederick Niven

Author of _The S.S. Glory_, etc.

'Mr Niven at his best.... A simple story, but well-nigh perfect in its
simplicity.'--_Evening Standard._

'Finely written ... the most delicate effects in humour, character, and
scene ... quite a beautiful piece of work.'--_Bookman._

'A book to be read, laid down, and read again with pleasure.'--_Morning
Post._


THE HOUSE

By Katharine Tynan

'Katharine Tynan is a charming writer ... the general effect is
pleasantly soothing and restful ... a pretty romance.'--_Athenæum._


_READ ALSO BY THE SAME AUTHOR_

DENYS THE DREAMER

'Katharine Tynan wields a magic pen. She makes her readers see Ireland
through her rose-coloured glasses. In a trice, she sets one down in the
midst of Irish rural life and scenery; prejudices and politics slip
away, and one remains a willing captive as she presents an enchanted
vision ... one loves it.'--_Evening Standard._

'We follow the story of his love and adventures with unabated interest
... unaffected and wholly charming.'--_Bookman._


THE FOOLISH LOVERS

By St John Ervine

Author of _John Ferguson_, _Mrs Martin's Man_.

'Gives unfailing enjoyment.'--_Observer._

'Alive with character ... a novel to be remembered.'--_Daily Telegraph._

'Invested with the freshness and vigour which we have come to expect
from his work.'--_Spectator._





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