Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The North Pacific - A Story of the Russo-Japanese War
Author: Allen, Willis Boyd
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The North Pacific - A Story of the Russo-Japanese War" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



The North Pacific

_A Story of the Russo-Japanese War_

_By_
Willis Boyd Allen
Author of "Navy Blue" and "Cleared for Action"

[Illustration]

_New York_

E. P. Dutton & Company
31 West Twenty-third Street
1905


TO MY FRIEND

COMMANDER WILLIAM H. H. SOUTHERLAND, U. S. N.

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED


[Illustration: "MAN OVERBOARD!"]


COPYRIGHT, 1905
BY
E. P. DUTTON & CO.

Published, September, 1905

The Knickerbocker Press, New York



PREFACE.


As in the preparation of _Navy Blue_ and _Cleared for Action_, the
author has taken great pains to verify the main facts of the present
story, so far as they are concerned with the incidents of the great
struggle still in progress between the empires of the East and the West.
He acknowledges most gratefully the assistance received from the office
of the Secretary of the Navy, from ex-Secretary John D. Long, and from
Commander W. H. H. Southerland, now commanding the U. S. Cruiser
_Cleveland_, Commander Austin M. Knight, President of the Board on Naval
Ordnance, and Chief Engineer Edward Farmer, retired.

W. B. A.

BOSTON, June, 1905.



CONTENTS

CHAPTER                                    PAGE
    I. THE TRIAL OF THE "RETVIZAN"            1

   II. MAN OVERBOARD!                        16

  III. SEALED ORDERS                         29

   IV. UNCLE SAM'S PACKING                   43

    V. OTO'S STRANGE VISIT                   53

   VI. A SCRAP IN MALTA                      67

  VII. O-HANA-SAN'S PARTY                    84

 VIII. A BATCH OF LETTERS                    93

   IX. AT THE CZAR'S COMMAND                102

    X. THE FIRST BLOW                       114

   XI. IN THE MIKADO'S CAPITAL              125

  XII. BETWEEN TWO FIRES                    137

 XIII. WYNNIE MAKES A BLUNDER               146

  XIV. THE ATTACK OF THE "OCTOPUS"          156

   XV. UNDER THE RED CROSS                  165

  XVI. THE LAST TRAIN FROM PORT ARTHUR      175

 XVII. DICK SCUPP'S ADVENTURE               184

XVIII. OSHIMA GOES A-FISHING                202

  XIX. AMONG THE CLOUDS                     218

   XX. THE DOGGER BANK AFFAIR               235

  XXI. THE FALL OF PORT ARTHUR              248

 XXII. ON BOARD THE "KUSHIRO"               260

XXIII. TRAPPED IN MANCHURIA                 274

 XXIV. THE LITTLE FATHER                    286

  XXV. LARKIN RETIRES FROM BUSINESS         297

 XXVI. "THE DESTINY OF AN EMPIRE"           308

XXVII. ORDERED HOME                         319



ILLUSTRATIONS

                                         PAGE
"MAN OVERBOARD!"            _Frontispiece_ 24

"OTO CLIMBED THE RAIL LIKE A MONKEY"       64

IN STRANGE WATERS                          82

PICKED UP BY THE SEARCHLIGHT              119

THE SINKING OF THE "PETROPAVLOVSK"        164

THE END OF THE TRAITOR                    231

ON THE DOGGER BANK                        244

THE OSAKA BABIES                          253



THE NORTH PACIFIC.



CHAPTER I.

THE TRIAL OF THE "RETVIZAN."


It was a clear, cool afternoon in early September, 1901. In the country
the tawny hillsides were warmed to gold by the glow of the autumn sun,
while here and there a maple lifted its crimson torch as if the forest
were kindling where the rays were the hottest. Brown, golden, and
scarlet leaves floated slowly downward to the ground; flocks of
dark-winged birds drifted across the sky or flitted silently through the
shadows of the deep wood; the call of the harvester to his straining
team sounded across the fields for a moment--then all was still again.
But for the creak of a waggon, the distant bark of a dog, the fitful
whisper and rustle of the wind in the boughs overhead, the whirring
chatter of a squirrel, the world seemed lost in a day-dream of peace.

Only a few miles away the air was rent by a clamour of discordant
sound. Ponderous hammers beat upon plates of iron and brass; machinery
rumbled and shrieked and hissed at its work; a thousand men, labouring
as if for their lives, pulled, pushed, lifted, pounded, shouted orders,
warnings, replies above the din that beat upon the ear like a
blacksmith's blows upon an anvil. From the tall chimneys poured endless
volumes of black smoke that were reflected in the blue waters of the
river and mimicked by innumerable puffs of steam. The place was like a
volcano in the first stages of eruption. A vast upheaval seemed
imminent. Yet the countless toilers worked securely and swiftly,
fashioning that dread floating citadel of modern warfare, the
Battleship.

On this same afternoon, at the outer gate of the Cramp Shipbuilding
Works, two strangers applied for admission, presenting to the watchman a
properly accredited pass. They were young men, under the average
stature, dark-skinned, and almost notably quiet in appearance and
manner. Although their dress was that of the American gentleman, a very
slight accent in their speech, their jet-black hair, and a trifling
obliquity in their eyes, would have at once betrayed their nationality
to a careful observer. He would have known that they were of a people
famous for their shrewdness, their gentle manners, their bravery, their
quick perceptions, and their profound patience and tireless resolution
in accomplishing their ends--the "Yankees of the Orient"--the Japanese.

The watchman glanced at them carelessly, rather impressed by the
visitors' immaculate attire--both wore silk hats and black coats of
correct Broadway cut--and asked if they wanted an attendant to show them
about the works. They said, "No, thank you. We shall remain but short
time. We can find our ways"; and, bowing, passed into the yard.

Their curiosity seemed very slight, as to the buildings and machinery.
With light, quick steps they passed through one or two of the most
important shops, then turned to the river-side, and halted beside the
huge ship that was on the stocks, almost ready for launching. Here for
the first time their whole expression became alert, their eyes keen and
flashing. Nobody paid much attention to them as they passed along the
walk, scrutinising, it would seem, every individual bolt and plate.

"A couple o' Dagos!" remarked one workman to another, nodding over his
shoulder as he carried his end of a heavy steel bar.

At the gangway the visitors met their first obstacle. A man in undress
uniform, with a full beard and stern countenance, waved them back. "No
admittance to the deck," he said briefly.

The two Japanese bowed blandly, and spoke a few words together in soft
undertones and gutterals, as incomprehensible to a Western ear as the
language of the Ojibways. Then they bowed again, smiled and said "Thank
you, sir," and moved away. The Russian officer watched them sharply
until they disappeared around the bows of the vessel, muttering to
himself under his bushy moustache.

Once out of sight the languor and mild indifference of the strangers
vanished. They spoke swiftly, with excited, but graceful gestures. Then
one of them pointed to the snowy curve of the battleship's prow, above
their heads. There, gleaming in the sunset light, shone the word, in
gold letters,


     [Cyrillic: RETVIZAN]


"RETVIZAN," murmured the other; "RETVIZAN." Adding in his own language,
"She will have her trial trip late in October, sailing from Boston.
Then--we shall see!"

"We shall see."

"_Sayonara, Retvizan!_" said the first speaker with just a trace of
mockery in his tone, as the two turned toward the gate. As they passed
through, on their way out, they bowed and smiled to the gate-keeper.
Once more they were suave, languid little gentlemen of fashion,
travelling for pleasure.

It was eight o'clock on the morning of October 21st when the last
tug-load of "distinguished visitors" scrambled up the steep ladder to
the deck of the _Retvizan_, which had lain all night in President's
Roads, Boston Harbour, waiting for her trial trip. In five minutes more
the battleship was under way, the smoke rolling from her three huge
funnels as she forged ahead slowly, on her way to the open sea.

It was an oddly composed crowd that gathered forward of the great turret
from which projected two twelve-inch guns. The crew consisted of Russian
"Jackies," in man-of-war rig; but the spectators were the invited guests
of the builders from whose control the ship had not yet passed. There
were lawyers, naval officers, engineers, and politicians, with one or
two officials of the city and State government--all bound to have a good
time, whether the _Retvizan_ should prove slow or fast. They buttoned
their overcoats up around their throats--for the day was chilly, and the
draught made by the vessel as she gathered speed was sharp--and in
little knots, here and there, joked, laughed, and sang like boys on a
lark.

One young man was constantly moving about, alert and active, interested
apparently in everything and everybody on board. Most of the Boston men
seemed to know him, and exchanged jokes with him as he passed.

"Hullo, Larkin, you here?" called out one. "Better go ashore while
there's time--you'll be sea-sick when we get outside!"

"I never yet was sick of seeing!" retorted the young man. "The
_Bulletin_ must have a good story on to-day's trip."

"Why didn't they send a reporter that knew his business?" jested
another.

"Don't _you_ say anything, Alderman, or I'll fix up an account of you
that will make you turn pale when you read it to-morrow morning," said
the jolly reporter; and off he went, followed by a chorus of laughter.

Fred Larkin was one of the most valued reporters on the Boston _Daily
Bulletin_. He had risen to his present position, from that of mere space
writer, by sheer determination, pluck, and hard work, which
characteristics, backed by fine character and a sunny good-humour, made
him a favourite with both his superiors and his comrades on the staff.
Three years before this sea-trip Fred had been sent to Cuba as war
correspondent for the _Bulletin_, had performed one or two remarkable
feats in journalism, had been captured by the Spaniards, and on the very
day when he expected to be executed in Santiago as a spy had been
exchanged and set free.

Meanwhile on this same perilous journey inland, he had met a young
Spanish girl named Isabella Cueva, who subsequently appealed to him for
protection, and whom, a few months later, he married. They now had one
bright little dark-haired boy, a year old, named Pedro.

"He's a wonderful child," Larkin would assert. "Talks Spanish like a
native, and cries in English!"

Besides the company of invited guests on the _Retvizan_, the officers of
the ship-building company, and the Russian crew, there were a number of
supernumeraries--butlers, cooks, and stewards, of various nationalities.

About a week before the ship was to sail from Philadelphia, two Japanese
boys applied for a position on board as stewards. They were dressed
neatly, after the custom of their race, but their spotless clothes were
threadbare, and as they seemed needy and brought the best of references
from Washington families, they were hired at once. It was true that they
seemed unable to speak or to understand more than a few words of
English, but their slight knowledge of the language appeared to be
sufficient for their duties, and the Japanese are known to be the
neatest, quickest, most efficient little waiters that can be procured.
Many of them, as their employers knew, were engaged in this humble
service on United States war-ships, where they gave complete
satisfaction.

As the great vessel swung out upon her course, the two boyish Japs
appeared. They had come on board in Philadelphia, and were soon equipped
for their work, with white aprons and dark suits. Having with some
difficulty made the head steward understand when and for what they had
been engaged, they had entered at once upon their duties.

Nobody took much notice of the little fellows, as they glided silently
to and fro, giving deft touches to the lunch table, or assisting a stout
alderman to don his overcoat. Only once did they seem disconcerted. That
was when a Russian under-officer, with bushy beard and moustache, put
his head inside the cabin-door. One of the Japanese started so nervously
that he nearly upset a water-carafe on the table. As he adjusted it, he
spoke a few words in a low tone to his companion, and both remained with
their backs to the door, although the Russian summoned them roughly.

"Why didn't you go when he called?" demanded the head steward crossly, a
minute later, when he had himself given the officer the glass of water
he wanted.

"No speak Russian. No un'erstan'," said the little Jap with a meek
gesture.

"Well, you might have known what he asked for," retorted his superior.
"Look sharp now, and attend to your business. You ain't here for fun,
you!"

The steward addressed shot a quick glance at the other, but neither
said a word, as they resumed their tasks.

The _Retvizan_ moved proudly northward, throwing out a great wave on
each side of her white prow and leaving a wake of tossing foam
stretching far astern. The harbour islands were now dim in the distance
and the shore of the mainland might have been that of Patagonia, for all
the sign of human life it showed. Now, indeed, the vessel drew in, or,
rather, the coastline veered eastward as if to intercept her in her
swift course. The Magnolia shore came in sight, with its toy cottages
and hotels, as deserted as autumn birds'-nests. Norman's Woe was left
behind, backed by dark pine forests, and Gloucester, nestling in its
snug harbour, peered out at the passing monster. Almost directly in
front the lights of Thatcher's Island reared themselves, two priestly
fingers raised in blessing over the toilers of the sea.

Now the battleship began to quiver, as the increased throbbing of her
engines, the monstrous fore-waves, and the volumes of black smoke
rushing from her stacks told the excited passengers that she was
settling down to her best pace for the crucial test of speed. A
government tug was passed, and for ten miles the _Retvizan_ ploughed her
way fiercely northward, never deviating a foot to right or left,
crushing the waves into a boiling cauldron of seething foam, dashing the
spray high into the sunshine, until the second stake-boat, off Cape
Porpoise, was passed, and with a long sweep outward she turned, to
retrace the ten-mile course more swiftly than ever.

Fred Larkin pervaded, so to speak, the ship. Note-book in hand, he
interviewed the officers, chaffed the Russian Jackies, darted in and out
of the cabins, and ranged boldly through the hidden passages below. In
process of time he reached the engine-room, smearing himself with oil on
the way, from every steel rod he touched.

No sooner had he entered the room than he was pounced upon by one of the
three or four engineers, naval and civil, who were busily watching the
work of the great, pulsing heart of the vessel.

"Larkin! How are you, old fellow?" And his hands were grasped and wrung,
over and over, regardless of oil.

"Holmes! Well, I didn't guess _you_ were here! Shake again!"

It was Lieutenant-Commander Holmes, Assistant Engineer, who, with
several subordinate officers, two of them from the Academy, had been
detached by the Navy Department to watch the trip of the _Retvizan_ and
report upon it. They mingled freely with the Russian engineers, and
compared notes with them as the trial progressed.

Norman Holmes explained this to the young reporter, who was an old and
tried friend.

"Where is Rexdale stationed?"

"He's doing shore duty in Washington just now. Between you and me, Fred,
I think he'll be a lieutenant-commander before long, and may command one
of the smaller vessels on this station--a despatch-boat or something of
the kind. I only wish I could be assigned to the same ship! You know
Dave and I were chums in the Academy."

"I know. And the trifling circumstance of each marrying the other's
sister hasn't tended to produce a coldness, I suppose! But isn't that an
awfully quick promotion for Rexdale? The last I heard of him he was only
a lieutenant."

"Well, we've built so many new ships lately," said Holmes, with his eye
on the steam gauge, "that it has been hard work to man them. Two or
three classes have been graduated at the Academy two years ahead of
time, and promotions have been rapid all along the line. The man that
commanded the gunboat _Osprey_, for instance, is now on an armoured
cruiser, taking the place of an officer who has been moved up to the
battleship _Arizona_, and so on. Why, in the course of ten years or more
I may be a commander--who knows?" he added, with a laugh.

"I suppose you hear from 'Sandy' and--what did you fellows call
Tickerson?"

"'Girlie'? Oh, yes, I hear from them. Both are in the East somewhere.
Sandy's last letter was from Guam. He's a lieutenant now, and so is
Tickerson."

"Well, I mustn't stay here, bothering you. There's a queer crowd on
board--a mixed lot. Seen those little Japs?"

"No. What are they here for?"

"Oh, just waiters. But it's odd to see Japanese on a Russian man-of-war,
considering that--hullo, here's one of them, now!"

Sure enough, a small, white-aproned figure came daintily picking his way
down into the jarring, clanging, oily engine-room. He seemed a bit
troubled to find two of its occupants regarding him intently, as he
stepped upon the iron floor.

"Mist' Johnson no here?" he asked innocently, gazing around him.

"Johnson? No, not that I know of," replied Holmes. "What's his
position."

"He--he from Boston," said the Jap, after a slight hesitation.

"Look here," broke in Larkin, in his offhand way, "what's your name,
young fellow?"

The steward looked into the reporter's frank, kindly face, then
answered, "Oto."

"Oto," repeated Fred. "That's a nice easy name to pronounce, if it _is_
Japanese. Well, Oto, how about your chum--what's his name?"

"Oshima. We from Japan."

"So I suspected," laughed Fred. "Been over long?"

The boy looked puzzled.

"When did you leave home?"

Oto shook his head. "Un'erstan' ver' leetle English," he said.

"Well, run along and find Mr. Johnson, of Boston. Norman, good-bye. I'll
look in on you again before the end of the trip. Where did Oto go?"

The little Jap had melted away--whether upward or downward, no one could
say, he had vanished so quickly.

Larkin shook his head and made a few cabalistic curves and dots in his
note-book, then reascended the stairs to the upper deck. Through a
winding staircase in a hollow mast he made his way to one of the
fighting-tops. Singularly enough the other Japanese waiter, Oshima, was
there before him. As Fred emerged on the circular platform, the boy
thrust a scrap of paper under the folds of his jacket and hurried down
toward the deck. Again the reporter made a note in his book, and then
gave a few moments to the magnificent view of the ship and the open sea
through which it was cleaving its way.

Directly before and below him lay the forward deck of the _Retvizan_,
cleared almost as completely as if for action. Most of the visitors had
withdrawn from the keen wind to the shelter of the cabin, where,
doubtless, the question of luncheon was already exciting interest.
Beneath the fighting-top was the bridge, where the highest officials on
the ship were watching her progress. Just beyond was the forward turret,
with its projecting guns, their muzzles peacefully closed.

The vessel now reached the first stake-boat once more, and turning,
again started over the course at half-speed, for the tedious process of
standardising the screw; that is, determining how many revolutions went
to a given rate of speed. The engineers were busy with their
calculations. Larkin joined the hungry crowd in the cabin, giving a last
look at the blue sea, the misty shore line, and the dim bulk of
Agamenticus reared against the western sky.

When the _Retvizan_ passed Cape Ann, on her homeward trip, the great
lamps on Thatcher's Island were alight, and the waves sparkled in the
glow. It was nearly nine o'clock that evening when the chains rattled
through the hawse-holes, in the lower harbour, as the battleship came to
anchor. Many had been the guesses as to her speed. Had she come up to
her builders' expectations? Had she passed the test successfully? These
were the questions that flew to and fro among the passengers, crowding
about the gangway beneath which the tug was soon rising and falling. At
the last moment the approximate result of the engineers' calculations
was given out. The ship had responded nobly to the demand upon her
mighty machinery. Splendidly built throughout, perfectly equipped for
manslaughter and for the protection of her crew, obedient to the
lightest touch of the master-hand that should guide her over the seas in
warfare or in peace, the _Retvizan_ had shown herself to be one of the
swiftest and most powerful war-ships in the world. For twenty miles, in
the open ocean, she had easily made a little over eighteen knots an
hour.

In the confusion of going on board the tug and disembarking in the
darkness, no one observed the two Japanese waiters, who must have
forgotten even to ask for their wages. Certain it is that Oto and Oshima
were among the very first to land on the Boston wharf, and to disappear
in one of the gloomy cross-streets that branch off from Atlantic Avenue.



CHAPTER II.

"MAN OVERBOARD!"


"Well, we're out of the harbour safely, Captain," said Executive Officer
Staples with a sigh of relief, as he spread out the chart of the
Massachusetts coast and glanced at the "tell-tale" compass. "No more
trouble till we get down by the Pollock Rip Shoals."

"Anybody would think you had been taking a battleship out from under the
enemy's guns," laughed Lieutenant-Commander David Rexdale. "Don't talk
about 'trouble,' Tel., while it's daylight, off a home port, in good
weather!"

The two were standing in the chart-room, just behind the bridge of the
U. S. gunboat _Osprey_, as the vessel, leaving Boston Outer Light
behind, headed slightly to the south of east. Rexdale, as his old chum
Holmes had predicted, was now in command of the _Osprey_, and was taking
her to Washington for a practice trip, on which the crew would be
drilled in various manoeuvres, including target-practice. Lieutenant
Richard Staples, his executive, had been the captain's classmate at
Annapolis. He was lanky and tall, and at the Academy had soon gained the
sobriquet of "Telegraph Pole," or "Tel.," for short; a name that had
stuck to him thus far in his naval career. He was a Californian, and,
while very quiet in his manner, was a dangerous man when aroused--as the
upper-class cadets had discovered when they undertook to "run" him.
Rexdale was from the rural districts of New Hampshire, and was known to
his classmates as "Farmer," a term which was now seldom applied to the
dignified lieutenant-commander.

The _Osprey_--to complete our introductions--was a lively little member
of Uncle Sam's navy, mounting several six-pounders and a four-inch
rifled gun, besides smaller pieces for close quarters. She had taken
part in the blockade of Santiago, and while not as modern in her
appointments as some of her bigger and younger sister-ships, had given a
good account of herself in the stirring days when Cervera's fleet was
cooped up behind the Cuban hills, and made their final hopeless dash for
freedom. Rexdale was in love with his little vessel, and knew every
spar, gun, plate, and bolt as if he had assisted in her building.

On the way down the harbour, they had passed the _Essex_ and
_Lancaster_, saluting each with a bugle-call. Besides the two officers
mentioned, it should be added that there were on board Ensigns Dobson
and Liddon, the former a good-natured little fellow, barely tall enough
to meet naval requirement as to height; the other a finely educated and
elegant young gentleman who had attended a medical college before
enlisting, and whose fund of scientific and historical knowledge was
supposed to be inexhaustible. He wore glasses, and had at once been
dubbed "Doctor," on entering the Naval Academy. These, with Paymaster
Ross, Assistant Surgeon Cutler, and Engineer Claflin, made up the
officers' mess of the _Osprey_.

It was a fair day in June, 1903. The sunlight sparkled on the summer
sea. Officers and men were in the best of spirits as the gunboat, her
red, white, and blue "commission pennant" streaming from her masthead,
sped southward past the long, ragged "toe" of the Massachusetts boot.

At noon Rexdale dined in solemn and solitary state in his after cabin.
The rest of the officers messed together in the ward-room, below decks,
and doubtless Dave would have been glad to join them; but discipline
required that the commanding officer, however familiarly he might
address an old acquaintance in private, should hold aloof at mealtimes.
He was waited upon by two small Japanese men, or boys, who had easily
obtained the situation when the vessel went into commission at the
Charlestown Navy Yard, where she had remained for some months, docked
for overhauling and thorough repairs. The two cabin stewards were gentle
and pleasant in their manners, conversant with all their duties, and
spoke English fluently. Their names were on the ship's papers as Oto and
Oshima.

"Oto," said Rexdale, when the dinner was finished, "call the orderly."

"Yes, sir."

The marine was pacing the deck outside the cabin-door. On receiving the
summons he entered and saluted stiffly.

"Orderly, ask Mr. Staples to step this way, if he has finished his
dinner."

Another salute, and the man turned on his heels and marched out.

"Mr. Staples," said the commander, as the former came in, "at four bells
we will have 'man overboard' drill. We shall anchor to-night about ten
miles off Nantucket. I shall come on the bridge and con the ship myself
when we sight the Shovelful Lightship, and I shall be glad to have you
with me, passing the Shoal. The next time we go over this course I shall
let you take the ship through the passage yourself."

"Very well, sir." And the executive, being in sight of the waiters and
the orderly, as well as the surgeon, who just then passed through the
cabin, saluted formally and retired.

On deck, forward and in the waist of the ship, the men were busy at
various tasks, burnishing brass-work, making fast the lashings of the
guns, overhauling rigging and such naval apparatus as the warrant
officers knew would be needed on this short cruise. But few of the
crew--over a hundred in all--were below, although only the watch were
actually on duty.

In passing one of the seamen, who was polishing the rail, Oshima, on his
way to the galley, accidentally hit the man with his elbow.

"Clear out, will you?" said the seaman with an oath. At the same time he
gave the little Jap a shove that sent him reeling.

"Oh, take a fellow of your size, Sam!" cried one of the watch standing
near.

"He ran into me! I'll take him and you, too, if you say much," retorted
the first speaker morosely.

Two or three of the men paused on hearing the angry words. The little
stewards were favourites on board, although the enlisted men looked down
on their calling.

Oshima's dark eyes had flashed at the rough push and the sneering reply
of the sailor. He brushed his neat jacket where the former's hand had
touched it. Then he said quietly, "You can strike, Sam Bolles, as an ass
can kick. But you could not throw me to the deck."

"Couldn't I?" snarled Sam, dropping his handful of oily waste and
springing to his feet. "We'll see about that, you ----!" and he called
him an ugly name.

Glancing about to see that no officer was watching, Oshima crouched low,
and awaited the burly seaman's onset. Sam rushed at him with
outstretched hands and tried to seize him around the waist, to dash his
slight antagonist to the deck. Had he succeeded, Oshima's usefulness to
the United States Navy would have ended then and there. A dozen men
gathered about the pair, and more than one uttered a warning cry to the
Japanese. They need not have been alarmed, however, for the safety of
their small comrade.

Just as Sam's burly paws closed on his shoulders, Oshima's dark, thin
little hands shot out. He caught the seaman's right arm, gave a
lightning-like twist, and with a cry of pain and rage the big fellow
went down in a heap on the deck. As the men applauded wildly and swung
their caps, the Jap looked a moment at his fallen foe with a smile of
contempt, then turned away, for the master-at-arms, hearing the noise of
the scuffle, was approaching. Sam, however, was wild with rage.
Scrambling to his feet, he darted upon his late antagonist, caught up
the small figure in his powerful arms, and before anybody could
interfere, tossed him over the rail into the sea.

Lieut. Commander Rexdale, pacing the quarter-deck and congratulating
himself on the fine run the _Osprey_ was making, was suddenly aroused
from his professional meditations by the sound of cries from the forward
part of the ship. Annoyed by this breach of discipline, he called
sharply to one of the ensigns, who was standing near, watching a distant
steamer through his glass, "Mr. Dobson, step forward, please, and find
out what that disturbance is among the men----"

But before Dobson could reach the head of the ladder another confusion
of shouts arose, followed immediately by a rush of footsteps. At the
same time the commander felt the tremor of the screw's motion die away,
under his feet.

"Man overboard?" exclaimed Rexdale, with a vexed frown. "I gave orders
for the drill at four bells, and three bells were struck only a few
minutes ago. Where is Mr. Staples?"

The executive officer was at that moment seen hurrying aft, but the
Jackies were before him. They tumbled up the steps like mad, and flung
themselves into the starboard quarter-boat, which had been left swinging
outside from the davits for the purposes of drill. Already the man on
watch at the taffrail had cut away the lashings of a patent
life-preserver and sent it into the sea, where it floated with signals
erect, far astern. The propeller was lashing the water into foam with
its reversed motion. The _Osprey_ shook as she tried to overcome her
momentum; then, as the screw was stopped, forged slowly ahead.

"Lively, now, men! Let go! Fend off!" shouted Dobson, whose station was
in that boat at the "man overboard" signal. "Oars! Let fall! Give way!"
And off went the boat, plunging and foaming over the waves in the
direction of the life-preserver, which was now a quarter of a mile
astern.

"Very well done, Mr. Staples," said Rexdale approvingly. "But why," he
added in a lower tone, "did you have the drill at this hour, instead of
at four bells, as I ordered?"

"Drill? This is no drill, sir!"

"No drill?"

"There _is_ a man overboard, sir. One of the Japanese waiters fell over
the rail somehow. I gave no orders for the drill, but that bugler is a
quick fellow and knows his business. The men like the little Jap, and it
put a heart into their work."

When Oshima struck the water his early training (which will be referred
to before long) stood him in good stead. He rose to the surface and gave
a few quick strokes to ensure safety from the propeller; then he turned
on his back and tried to float. There was too much ripple on the water
for this, and he was obliged to turn back upon his chest and maintain
his position with as little exertion as possible, not struggling to
reach the ship, which was drawing rapidly away. He had seen the "man
overboard" drill many times, and was on the lookout for the
life-preserver, which was thrown just as he turned for the second time.
His clothes dragged downward heavily, but in three minutes he reached
the buoy and clung to it, knowing that by this time the men were in the
boat and casting off.

It was perhaps ten minutes from the moment of his falling into the sea
when the white boat drew up alongside and pulled both him and the
life-preserver out of the water. Five minutes later--the ship having
reversed her screw again, and backed toward the boat--he was scrambling
over on to the deck and making for the little cabin he shared with Oto.

On the ship's log it was simply recorded that the boy had "fallen
overboard." Oshima was sharply questioned by the officers, but he could
not be induced to tell how the accident happened. Sam knew there were no
talebearers among his mates and felt safe. He made a surly apology to
the little chap, saying he was mad at having been thrown, and that he
had not meant to drown him. Oshima thereupon bowed in a dignified way
and went about his work, serving the commander in his cabin that night
as usual.

Passing the Handkerchief Lightship, the _Osprey_ dropped anchor with
the lights of Nantucket twinkling far on her beam to the south and west.
The next morning preparations were made for target-practice.

The target, towed out and anchored by a whaleboat, consisted of a
triangular raft of boards supported at each corner by an empty barrel.
On this was stepped a mast twelve feet high, with a small red flag at
the top. Three leg-of-mutton sails, or "wings," gave the craft the
appearance, at a distance, of a small catboat under sail. The _Osprey_
now took her position--the distance and course being plotted by officers
in two boats--and steamed at half-speed past the target at a distance of
about sixteen hundred yards.

The gun-crews were summoned to quarters, and the firing begun with a
six-pounder on the forecastle, followed by two three-pounders on the
same deck.

The big four-inch gun was then loaded, the officers putting cotton in
their ears to avoid injury. The first shot, weighing between thirty and
forty pounds, was dropped a little to the right of the target; the
second fell just beyond it and to the left.

"Fire on the top of the roll," cautioned the captain of the gun-crew,
which comprised four of the best gunners on the ship.

The third shot fell short, and was duly so recorded, in a memorandum to
be included in a report to the Department.

As the disappointed gunner stepped back he saw Oto, who, being a sort of
privileged character, was lingering close by, shake his head slightly.

"Perhaps you think you could do better, Jap!" said the man sharply.

Oto nodded, but remained modestly silent.

"What, did you ever fire a heavy piece of ordnance?" asked Liddon,
standing near to watch the practice.

Oto nodded again. "I could hit that target," he added simply, touching
his cap and turning away.

"Stop," said the officer. He stepped toward the bridge, and, saluting,
said: "The Japanese yonder says he is used to firing and could hit the
target, sir. Shall I let him try?"

Rexdale, who was closely noting the practice, hesitated, it being the
strict rule that no one outside the gun-crew should fire. He spoke in a
low tone to Staples, who laughed and said: "All right, sir. It's only
one shot wasted, in any case."

"Let the boy sight the piece, and fire," ordered the commander.

Oto touched his cap and adjusted the sighting apparatus to his shoulder.
His small hands fluttered a moment around the delicate machinery; then
he swung the great muzzle slightly upward and to the right. The ship
rose on a long swell, and just as it hung on the crest came the roar of
the great gun.

An instant's pause was followed by a cheer from the men; for as the
smoke drifted away, behold, there was no target to be seen!

"He must have struck the base of the mast, true as a hair!" exclaimed
Rexdale, scanning the wreck of the target through his glass. "Well done,
Oto!"

The men crowded around the little fellow, clapping him on the back.

"Just his luck!" growled Sam, who was one of the gun-crew.

"Oh, let up, Sam! The boy has made a first-class shot," said a grizzled
old gunner. "Wait till you have such luck yourself!"

"You will send a boat out to pick up what is left of the target,"
ordered Rexdale, returning his glasses to their case. "We've no more
time for practice to-day. Get all your boats in and proceed, if you
please, Mr. Staples."

That night he sent for the executive and had a long talk with him. There
was something queer about those two Japanese boys, Rexdale said. Did
Staples or any of the officers know anything about them? Inquiries were
made, and the waiters themselves were closely questioned, but no
information of importance could be gained. It was learned, indeed, that
one of the ordinary seamen, Dick Scupp by name, was more "chummy" with
Oto and Oshima than any one else on board. He was a simple, long-legged,
awkward young fellow from northern Maine, who had enlisted at the
outbreak of the Spanish War, and had served before Santiago, in the
blockading squadron. He had taken a fancy to Oshima, particularly, and
it was he who had rebuked Sam's rough treatment of his Japanese friend,
just before the wrestling-match. He knew nothing, however, of the
previous lives of the two little foreigners.

Rexdale would hardly have been surprised at Oto's skill in gunnery had
he known that this meek and gentle Japanese lad had passed through the
whole course at the Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating--under his
full name, Makoto Owari--in the first third of his class, just seven
years before Dave received his own commission!



CHAPTER III.

SEALED ORDERS.


The rest of the cruise of the _Osprey_ was without special incident.
Various drills were performed until every movement was executed to the
officers' satisfaction. One of the most interesting was the "fire
drill." A succession of loud, hurried strokes on the ship's bell brought
the men hurrying up from below. Some ran to the hose, uncoiled it and
coupled it to the pipes, others closed ports and ventilators, boat crews
repaired to their stations, and in an almost incredibly short time water
was gushing from the nozzle of the hose into the sea. Then there was
"Boats and away!" the life-raft drill, signalling, and other
manoeuvres. Attention was paid to the slightest details, which were
executed with the wonderful precision that characterises every naval
movement. If the emergency should really arise, in the midst of a storm
or under the enemy's fire, every man would know his station and the
exact duties he was to perform. "Collision drill" and "setting up"
finished the work in that line for the day.

During the afternoon land was near on both sides of the vessel, as she
pursued her course to the north-west between Martha's Vineyard and the
mainland. Nobska Head and, three hours later, Gay Head, were sighted and
passed. Then the _Osprey_ stood directly for Cape Charles. Just at
sunset a heavy fog shut down.

"Three-quarters speed!" ordered Ensign Liddon, who was on the bridge.

"Three-quarters speed, sir," responded the quartermaster, throwing the
indicators, which connected with the engine-room, around to that point.
At about twelve knots an hour, or fifty-five revolutions of the screw to
a minute, the ship crept steadily southward, with her whistle going
twice a minute. At ten o'clock full speed was resumed, for the stars
were out again.

The next day was fair, and the sun shone brightly on the broad ocean, on
the white ship, and on the great steel gun which bore the inscription
"Bethlehem"--the place where it was cast. "After all, it's a good
peacemaker," said Lieutenant Staples, as he made his inspection tour,
accompanied by Dr. Cutler. "There's thirty-six hundred pounds of peace,"
he added, patting the breech of the gun. On the deck, near by, a kitten
was tumbling about in the sunshine. The men were engaged in mending,
writing letters, and smoking idly.

At about noon the lightship off Cape May was left behind, and the
_Osprey_ started up Chesapeake Bay. When she had proceeded to a point
sixteen miles below the mouth of the Potomac, she brought up for the
night, a light fog rendering navigation difficult in those crowded
waters. Early the next morning the gunboat weighed anchor and got under
way. Just as she was turning into the Potomac she sighted the battleship
_Indiana_ outward bound with midshipmen on board in large numbers.

Staples immediately gave an order, and a string of gay flags fluttered
at the yard-arm above the _Osprey's_ decks. The signal was answered by
the battleship, and the executive reported to Rexdale, "Permission to
proceed, sir." When two ships of the navy meet, this permission must
always be obtained from the one commanding officer who ranks the other.

Up the broad, placid river the _Osprey_ moved, seeming to gain in size
as the stream diminished; past wooded banks where cabins nestled in the
greenery, or statelier homes lifted their white pillars; past the little
cove where Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, landed after
crossing the Potomac in his mad flight; on toward Washington. At the
Proving Ground a boat was sent ashore with a telephone message to
Alexandria, ordering a tug-boat to meet the war-ship for two or three
miles' tow to her dock.

When the _Osprey_ was opposite Mount Vernon, a mournful strain from the
bugle floated over the water from the ship's forward deck. The ensign
was half-masted, every man on board faced the shore and stood at salute,
while the bell tolled slowly until the sacred spot, the home of the
great American, was passed.

Not long afterward the tug appeared, made fast to the gunboat, and towed
her to the navy-yard wharf, where she was to await orders for further
movements.

During the week that followed, two events took place which were destined
to exert an important influence upon the subsequent history of the
_Osprey_.

The first was the appearance of a new member of the mess, Midshipman
Robert Starr. He was a cheery, good-natured young fellow, finishing his
Academy course; full of fun, and a great joker. While the original
ward-room mess were at first disposed to regret, if not to resent, this
addition to their family, they soon liked him thoroughly, and, indeed,
he became popular from one end of the ship to the other.

The other event of importance was a dinner given by Lieut. Commander
Rexdale on board his ship. Among those who received invitations were the
Commandant of the Yard, with his wife and daughter; one or two officers
from a torpedo-destroyer then docked and out of commission; Fred
Larkin, who happened to be in Washington; and two young girls, nieces
of a Government official of high standing, Ethelwyn and Edith Black,
aged respectively sixteen and nineteen. These fair young Anglo-Saxons
were the guests of the commandant, and on finding that they were
included in the invitation expressed their delight by seizing upon his
daughter Mary and executing a sort of triple waltz around the room for
fully five minutes.

"You see, dear," panted the younger Miss Black, adjusting an amber pin
which had fallen from her sunny hair to the floor, "we've never been on
a war-ship and haven't the least idea what it's like. Isn't that Captain
Rexdale a dear!"

"There, there, Wynnie, do sit down and keep still for two minutes,"
laughed her quieter hostess. "You've just about shaken me to bits. Yes,
Lieut. Commander Rexdale is nice, and so are the rest of the officers of
the _Osprey_. You'll like Mr. Liddon, I know."

"And will your mother go?"

"Of course she will. How could we accept, if she were not to take care
of us?"

"I don't need anybody to take care of _me_," remarked Wynnie demurely.
"You'll see how nicely I'll behave--like the kittens in the poem--


     "'Spoons in right paw, cups in left,
         It was a pretty sight!'"


"You witch!" said Mary, giving her a squeeze. "I've seen you 'behave
nicely' before now! Mother will have her hands full, for once."

"Who are the other officers?" asked Edith, from the sofa.

"Oh, there's Ensign Dobson--he isn't very lively, but he's nice; Dr.
Cutler, who _will_ talk with papa all the time about quarantine
regulations and the Red Cross; and Mr. Ross, the paymaster, I suppose.
Oh, and I believe there's a little midshipman from the Naval Academy--I
don't know his name, for he has just been assigned to the ship."

Wynnie's eyes danced. "He'll be dreadfully bashful, I know. I shall
consider it my duty to entertain him, poor little thing!"

The dinner proved a great success. Larkin, of course, kept his end of
the table in a shout, while young Starr was by no means too bashful to
appreciate Ethelwyn's fun. "Doc." Liddon talked politics with the
civilian reporter, navy-yard gossip with Mrs. Commandant, international
complications with her husband, and nonsense, flavoured with dry wit,
with Edith. Dobson told the story of his rescue from the hazing party at
the Academy, and brought down the house as he described his position
when Norman Holmes and Dave Rexdale came on the scene--standing on his
head, with his tormentors pouring cold water down his trousers-leg.

Then Dave himself was called on for the tale of his boat-wreck on the
lonely Desertas, near Madeira, when he and "Sandy" barely escaped with
their lives.

The cabin of the _Osprey_ was prettily decorated with ferns and flowers,
and there was little to suggest warfare, the roar of cannon, the cries
of the fierce combatants, in its dainty appointments. It fell about,
however, that, as was natural, the conversation at length turned to the
navies of the great nations, and, in comparison, that of the United
States.

"Where do we stand, among the other Powers--in point of naval strength,
I mean?" asked some one.

The commandant had excused himself on the plea of important duty, and
had returned to his office on the Yard. Oddly enough, it was the
civilian that answered the question, before any one else could recall
the figures.

"We are fifth in rank," said Larkin, helping himself to a banana. "If we
carry out our present rather indefinite plans we shall be, by 1908, the
third in strength, possibly the second, with only England ahead of us."

"Do you happen to remember the approximate number of large ships in the
English navy?" asked Dobson.

"I'm sorry to say I do not," replied the reporter.

"I do," put in Ensign Liddon, who had had time to collect his thoughts
and statistics. "England has two hundred and one, not counting gunboats,
torpedo-boats, and other small craft----"

"Small! Do you call this ship small?" cried Ethelwyn indignantly.

"She'd look like a kitten beside her mother if a first-class battleship
ranged alongside," laughed Liddon. "Well, I was about to add that France
has ninety-six big ships, Russia fifty-nine, and Germany seventy-three.
The United States has only sixty-five."

"How many has Japan?" inquired Rexdale significantly. Just behind his
shoulder a pair of dark, obliquely-set eyes flashed at the question.

"Forty-four, I believe. She would have a poor show at sea against
Russia's fifty-nine."

"Oshima, there, doesn't seem to agree with you," said Dr. Cutler
lightly, nodding in the direction of the steward.

All eyes were turned to the little Japanese, who drew back modestly.

"Well, boy, speak your mind for once," said Rexdale. "What do you think
about the chances of Nippon against the Russian Bear?"

"I was t'inking," said Oshima, whose English was not quite as perfect as
his comrade's, "of man behind gun."

The phrase was already a favourite in the navy, and a round of hearty
applause followed the diminutive waiter as he retired in some confusion.

"Let's go on deck," suggested Starr. "It's getting pretty hot down
here."

The commander set the example by rising, and the whole party adjourned
to the quarter-deck, where chairs had been placed for them. The
gentlemen lit their cigars, "not (Starr gravely remarked) because they
wanted to, but purely to keep the mosquitoes away from the ladies."

Overhead the June stars were shining, lights flashed across the river,
and distant shouts came softly over the water. The young people sprang
to their feet and declared they must walk a bit. What they talked about
as they paced to and fro--Bob Starr with Wynnie, Liddon with Edith, and
Dobson with Mary--is of no consequence. It is probable that the two
sisters explained to their respective escorts that in the early fall
they expected to travel to India, China, and Japan, going via San
Francisco, and returning through Europe. Whereupon it is more than
likely that the young gentlemen in white duck expressed themselves as
plunged in despair at the prospect of having to remain on the North
Atlantic Station, with even a vague and disgusting possibility of "shore
duty" for one or both!

Meanwhile the older members of the party renewed the conversation which
had been broken off when the girls rose from table.

"If we are to keep up with foreign Powers," said Dr. Cutler, striking
his hand upon his knee, "much more if we are to pass any of them in
naval rank, we must hurry up our ship-builders. Germany expects her
battleship in commission in three years and a half from the day when the
keel is down. We have one under construction now that was begun over
five years ago."

"What does a modern battleship cost?" asked the older lady, who was one
of the quarter-deck group.

"About eight million dollars," replied Rexdale. "And a right lively war
costs the country a million dollars a day, in round numbers."

"And all of it absolutely consumed, burnt up, eaten, thrown away," added
the doctor. "It is not like expenses for construction; it is all for
destruction."

"My idea of a good-sized navy's mission is to keep the peace, so that
there'll be no war," put in Staples, who had been rather silent thus
far.

"Staples was the only man in our Plebe class who actually fought a
battle with a second-year man," laughed Dave. "I like to hear him preach
peace!"

"Perhaps you remember," said the other grimly, "that no more fights were
necessary. One good upper-cut on that fellow's jaw won peace for the
whole crowd. If Dewey hadn't sunk the Spanish fleet at Manila we might
have been fighting the Dons to this day."

"Will the Japs fight Russia, do you think?" asked Larkin. "If they do,
that may mean a job for 'yours truly.'"

"Certainly it looks like trouble over there," said Rexdale soberly. "The
Russians are steadily advancing to the Pacific--already they have one
hand on Vladivostock and the other on Port Arthur. Japan, crowded in its
little group of islands just out of sight of Korea, feels the danger and
the menace. Both nations have been preparing for a big war for years, I
am told."

"But Russia enormously outnumbers the Japanese," said Dr. Cutler. "She
has an army, they say, of four and a half million men, against Japan's
six hundred thousand----"

"Aye, but where are those four millions?" put in Rexdale warmly.
"Separated from the fighting line, which we can call Korea and the coast
of Manchuria, by six thousand miles, with only a single-track railroad
between Moscow and Port Arthur. The Japs could handle them one at a time
like the Spartans at--at--where was it?"

"Thermopylæ, sir," remarked Doc. Liddon, who had paused a moment in his
walk, attracted by the commander's earnestness.

"Thanks--Greek history never was my strong point at school!" said Dave
with a good-humoured laugh. Then, resuming: "As to the Russian navy,
matters would be just as bad. Half her ships at least must be in the
Baltic to protect her home ports----"

Before he could proceed further, an interruption occurred. An orderly
mounted the steps to the quarter-deck and with the usual stiff salute
handed Rexdale a letter, marked "Important and Immediate."

The commander broke open the envelope. He had no sooner read the few
lines it contained than he sprang to his feet.

"Madam," he said abruptly but courteously, "and gentlemen, I am sorry to
bring our pleasant party to an end, but my orders leave me no choice.
Mr. Staples, I must see you and the rest of the officers at once in my
cabin. Orderly, attend the ladies through the Yard. Good-night, all!"

Hurriedly the girls ran below for their wraps, wondering what the
mysterious orders could be that compelled them to retire so early and
brought that new ring to the commander's tones. They bade good-night to
the young officers, who would fain have escorted them to their home, but
Rexdale was obliged to refuse his permission.

"Good-night! good-night! We shall see you again soon!" called the
girlish voices from the wharf, while their late companions swung their
hats gallantly on the deck of the _Osprey_.

"Gentlemen," said Rexdale in grave, earnest tones, when they were all
gathered once more in the cabin, "I have important news for you. We are
ordered to coal and take on stores and ammunition for sea without delay,
sailing one week from to-day, if possible. You will see that this is
done promptly, and that every man reports for duty to-morrow, all shore
leave being withdrawn."

Not a man there but longed to ask, "What is our port of destination?"
but discipline prevailed. Their lips remained closed. They were no
longer a party of young fellows chatting and laughing gaily as they
performed their pleasant social duties and joked with their merry
guests; they were officers in the United States Navy, ready for the duty
at hand; willing to go to the ends of the earth, to encounter danger in
its most appalling forms, to give their lives, if need be, for their
country. Silence settled for a moment over the group.

"If I could I would tell you, without reserve, where we are bound; but I
do not know myself," added Rexdale. "There are new complications in the
far East--that is all I know. We sail under sealed orders, to be opened
at sea, twenty-four hours out."

He rose from his chair, to signify that the interview was ended. As the
officers filed out to their respective quarters, the pantry door, which,
though no one noticed it, had been slightly ajar, closed noiselessly.
Behind it were two Japanese, grasping each other's hands and looking
into each other's eyes. Their breath came quickly; their eyes glowed.

"_Banzai!_" they whispered. "_Teikoku banzai!_ Long live the Empire!"



CHAPTER IV.

UNCLE SAM'S PACKING.


When the family of a citizen in private life makes up its mind to a long
journey to foreign shores, great is the confusion, and multitudinous the
errands and minor purchases for the trip; trunks, half-packed, block the
sitting-room and hall-ways; Polly flies up-stairs and down distractedly,
Molly spends hours uncounted (but not uncharged-for) at the
dressmaker's, Dick burns midnight oil over guide-books and itineraries,
and even paterfamilias feels the restlessness and turmoil of the times,
and declaims against extravagance as the final packing discloses the
calls that are to be made upon his bank account.

If a vacation trip for a single family is productive of such a month of
busy preparation, what must be the commotion on a war-ship starting for
the Far East, with a crew of one or two hundred men and only a week
allowed for packing!

The officers and enlisted men of the _Osprey_ had their hands full in
the days that followed the banquet.

In ordinary times it takes one hundred skilled men a full week to stow
away provisions, supplies, ammunition, coal, and the thousand and one
minor articles that are needed on board one of the larger war-ships. The
ship's crew lend a hand, but they operate only under the direction of
the staff of trained stevedores which is kept on duty at the Navy Yard.

Everything must be put away "snug and shipshape"; and goods are "stowed
snug" where they occupy the least possible space, for every inch counts
in the narrow limits of a ship. Then, too, they must be so stevedored
that they will keep their original positions during the rolling and
pitching of the vessel in a seaway.

More than this is required. There must be perfect order with the
greatest degree of safety attainable. Inflammable or explosive
substances must not be stowed together, and the arrangement must be such
that any article needed can be reached on the instant. Emergencies often
arise in which the safety of the ship itself is dependent on having
needed appliances or material in the hands of certain officers without a
moment's delay. It may be nothing more than a case of oil, or it may be
the duplicate of some broken rod, bolt, or plate of the delicate
mechanism of the great propelling engine or of the dynamo, which is the
very life centre of the modern war-ship.

Paterfamilias, grumbling at the shopping memorandum of his wife and
daughters on the eve of their Mediterranean vacation trip, would gasp at
the list which Uncle Sam must fill, for a long cruise of one of his
naval vessels. Here is a single order sent to one wholesale house on the
_Osprey's_ account, that week in June: Loaf sugar, brown sugar, powdered
sugar, fair molasses, Ceylon tea, Hyson tea, Java coffee, Rio coffee,
smoked ham, American rice, breakfast bacon, lambs' tongues, pigs' feet,
corned beef, corned pork, leaf lard, dried peas, dried beans, coffee
extract, chiccory, chocolate, Swiss cheese, English cheese, New York
dairy cheese, canned tomatoes, canned peaches, canned onions, canned
asparagus, canned peas, canned corn, canned beets, olives and olive oil,
sauces and catsups, oatmeal and flour, limes and lemons, fruit jellies,
condensed meats, beef extracts, Jamaica ginger, mustard and spices,
cigars and tobacco, corn-meal and hominy, sago and tapioca, crackers and
biscuits, lime juice, fresh and limed eggs, baking powder, canned
cherries, canned plums, canned pears, canned rhubarb, dried apples,
canned salmon, canned oysters, canned clams, sardines, canned lobster,
canned mackerel, canned codfish, kippered herring, Yarmouth bloaters,
canned ox tongues, canned tripe, canned mutton, canned chicken, canned
turkey, canned soups, condensed milk, canned pickles, vinegar, salt,
pepper, canned mushrooms, macaroni, vermicelli, laundry soap, toilet
soap, sapolio, starch and blue, insect powder, candles, safety matches,
stationery, rope and twine, smoking pipes, tubs and washboards, chloride
of lime, ammonia, alcohol and paints, shoe blacking, sewing machines.

From this partial list an idea may be formed of the extent and variety
of the supplies that go to a modern war-ship. The clothing, medical and
mechanical departments of the _Osprey's_ outfit are not included, and
each in itself would make a long roll. Of course the delicacies
mentioned above are for the officers' use alone. When in port or on a
short cruise the sailors get fresh meat, bread, fruit, vegetables and
milk. On a long voyage their staple is "salt horse, hard tack, and
boot-leg," which, being translated, is corned beef or pork, with
crackers and black coffee. They receive frequently, too, oatmeal and
rice, hot rolls and tea.

It will be noted that the important items of ice and fresh water do not
appear in the list of supplies. Neither is taken aboard from the
outside. The ship condenses fresh water pumped in from the sea by
ingenious machinery contrived for the purpose, and the supply is
limitless. From this fresh water ice is manufactured in any quantity
desired, and no properly appointed modern war-ship is now without its
ice-plant. It is for the manufacture of ice that ammonia is so largely
shipped.

In the general disposition of the stores and supplies the articles
likely to be needed for immediate use are usually stored forward under
the berth deck. Such stores as cloth and made-up wearing apparel go in
the lower hold, and there are also nearly all the magazines, guncotton,
and torpedo-heads, if the ship carries them.

The coal bunkers on the _Osprey_ were located between the engines and
boilers and the hull of the vessel, at a point a little abaft of
midship. Thus the coal afforded protection to the machinery from
projectiles aimed at the most vital part of the ship. Such inflammable
liquids as oil and alcohol are never stowed below.

Allusion has been made to the "life centre" of the vessel. This has been
well described as the throbbing heart of every war-ship in the navy; the
wires radiating from it like veins and arteries through which flow the
life and intelligence which direct the movements of ship and crew.

Innumerable electric lamps light the cabins, engine-rooms, magazines,
conning towers and decks, while a finger's pressure on a knob, or the
turn of a tiny handle, throws a flood of radiance streaming out into
the black night, disclosing the enemy and rendering futile his attack or
escape as the case may be. Other wires operate telegraph, telephone, and
signal from the bridge, or move compartment doors, massive guns, and, on
a battle-ship the huge turrets themselves.

With a ship elaborately wired one chance shot of the enemy may thus
prove fatal. If a shell should happen to force its terrible way into the
dynamo room and explode there, the guns would cease firing, every light
would be extinguished, every officer cut off from rapid communication
with his men; and the delay consequent on this derangement would give
the enemy, quivering with light and life, time to pour her tons of steel
projectiles into the helpless, groping victim until she foundered.

At the end of the sixth day, the _Osprey_ was ready for sea. Her men,
her stores, supplies, coal and ammunition were on board, well stowed.
Rexdale drew a long breath of relief, and Paymaster Ross another, as the
last account was filed that night. The commander wrote a long letter to
his wife, Hallie, before retiring. She was visiting friends in the West,
and he had no opportunity to see her before starting on what was
doubtless to be a cruise to the other side of the world. This is a part
of a naval officer's life. "Detached," from this place to that, from one
ship, or one duty, to another, says the brief naval report. The officer
receives his written orders, and if his heart aches a little, under his
blue uniform, no one knows it but the one who receives the good-bye
letter, hurriedly sent by the despatch-boat or the orderly; and he is
ready for the new post.

Paymaster Ross, meanwhile, is busy with half a hundred lists and
receipts and accounts. He it is who knows accurately the pay of every
man on board. Look over his shoulder and read in his "Register" of
current date the salaries that our National Uncle pays to his nephews
for naval services:


     -----------------------------+------------+-----------
                 RANK.            |ON SEA DUTY.| ON SHORE.
     -----------------------------+------------+-----------
     Admiral (George Dewey)       |  $13,500   |  $13,500
     Rear Admirals:               |            |
       First Nine                 |    7,500   |    6,375
       Second Nine                |    5,500   |    4,675
     Chiefs of Bureaus            |   ......   |    5,500
     Captains                     |    3,500   |    2,975
     Commanders                   |    3,000   |    2,550
     Lieutenant-Commanders        |    2,500   |    2,125
     Lieutenants                  |    1,800   |    1,530
     Lieutenants, Junior Grade    |    1,500   |    1,500
     Ensigns                      |    1,400   |    1,190
     -----------------------------+------------+-----------


It is to be remembered that, in addition to the amounts given in this
table, all the officers mentioned (below the grade of rear-admiral) are
entitled by the present laws to "ten per cent. upon the full yearly pay
of their grades for each and every period of five years' service, as
increase for length of service, or 'longevity pay.'" Still, thirty-five
hundred dollars, even with that additional "longevity pay," does not
seem a very large salary for the commander of a battle-ship at sea and
perhaps under fire from day to day!

Warrant officers, namely boatswains, gunners, carpenters, sailmakers,
pharmacists and warrant machinists are paid (for sea duty) from $1200 a
year for the first three years after date of appointment, to $1800 after
twelve years' service.

Chief petty officers, including Chief Master-at-arms, Chief Boatswain's
Mate, Chief Gunner's Mate, Chief Yeoman, Hospital Steward, Bandmaster,
and a few others, draw pay ranging from $50 to $70 a month. The pay of
first-class petty officers, of whom there are about twenty varieties, is
from $36 to $65 a month; that of second-class petty officers a trifle
less; and that of third-class petty officers $30 a month.

First-class seamen receive $24, seamen gunners $26, and firemen $35.
Second-class or "ordinary" seamen draw $19 a month, and third-class
seamen, including apprentices and landsmen, have to be content with $16.

Oto and Oshima, as regular cabin stewards, were paid $50 a month; and
the wages for this sort of service on a war-ship run from that sum down
to the pay of the mess attendants, which is the same as that of
apprentice seamen.

Just as Dave Rexdale finished his letter to Hallie the orderly entered
and announced Fred Larkin, who had been unexpectedly detained in
Washington.

"I've been making inquiries, Dave," said the reporter, when the marine
had retired, "and I can't see any reason for your sudden orders. A
number of our ships are to rendezvous at Kiel next week, to take part in
a naval review. It may be that you are bound to German waters. If so,
give my respects to the Kaiser!"

Rexdale shook his head. "I don't believe Kiel is our port of
destination, Fred," he said. "There'd hardly be time for us to get over
there before the end of the review, even if we made a regular '_Oregon_'
voyage of it. I'm afraid it's a longer cruise than that. Who knows what
is going on at St. Petersburg or in Tokio?"

"Right you are," acquiesced Larkin. "I shouldn't be surprised to receive
orders myself, any day, to start for Japan or Korea. Of course I should
go by way of San Francisco. If there's to be any lively unpleasantness
over there, the _Bulletin_ wants a front seat, sure!"

"Well, I hope we shall meet there, old fellow," laughed the commander,
"though the United States will of course have nothing to do with the
scrap. Still, it's as well to have a few of Uncle Sam's war-ships on
that station or near by--say at Cavite."

"If war breaks out between Russia and Japan," said Larkin, rising, after
a little more conversation of this sort, "the big European Powers may be
involved any day, with China as an uncertain force just behind the
scenes. You know France is bound to take a hand if two nations attack
Russia, and England has the same agreement with Japan. China will do
lots of mischief, if she doesn't play in her own back yard."

At daylight the _Osprey_ cast off her moorings, and dropping down the
quiet Potomac, started on her long voyage.



CHAPTER V.

OTO'S STRANGE VISIT.


In N. Latitude 36° Longitude 72° W. from Greenwich, the commander of the
_Osprey_ opened his sealed instructions, and, having glanced over the
lines, read them aloud to his subordinate officers, as follows:


     "WASHINGTON, D. C.

     "_Sir_:

     "Having your coal-bunkers full, and being in all respects ready for
     sea, in accordance with previous directions, you will proceed with
     vessel under your command to the port of Hongkong, China, where you
     will report to the commander of the North Pacific Squadron. If his
     flagship should be at Manila, Shanghai, or any other port at the
     time of your arrival, you will follow him to that port without
     delay, and report as above. In view of the present critical state
     of affairs in the East, and the attitude of Russia and Japan, the
     _Osprey_ should proceed with all possible dispatch. The crew is to
     be constantly drilled, the passage of the ship not to be delayed
     thereby. You will follow the usual route by way of Gibraltar and
     the Suez Canal, and will call at Malta (Valetta) for further
     instructions.

     "Very respectfully,

     "---- ----, _Secretary_.

     "LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER DAVID REXDALE,

     "Commanding U. S. S. _Osprey_.

     "(Through Commandant, Navy Yard, Washington)."


A half-suppressed cheer broke from the circle of blue-coated officers
around the cabin table, as Rexdale concluded his reading.

"There's nothing said about ammunition," observed Stapleton,
significantly.

"The Department knows that our magazines are well provided," said
Rexdale. "I reported on all classes of ammunition just before we sailed
from Boston."

"Shall we have a chance to use it?--that's the question," put in the
young midshipman. "Oh, I do hope there'll be a scrimmage!"

"We're at peace with every nation on the globe," remarked Paymaster Ross
with emphasis. "How can there be a fight? We've nothing to do with the
quarrel between Japan and Russia."

"I hope the little fellows will win out, if there's war coming,"
exclaimed Dr. Cutter heartily. "I'm always in favour of the under dog."

"Who is the under dog? The Japs have the enormous advantage of a home
base," said Stapleton. "I don't know enough of the situation to be sure
which to sympathise with, big, sturdy Russia with all Asia between him
and St. Petersburg, or snappy, shrewd little Nippon. Perhaps there won't
be any war, after all."

"I don't see that we are in it, anyway," said Rexdale, rising. "Probably
all our ship will have to do will be to hang round on guard, and
protect American interests----"

"And be ready for squalls!" finished the irrepressible Starr, as the
group filed out of the cabin, while the commander repaired to his
stateroom to plot the course for Gibraltar.

The fact that the _Osprey_ was bound for Pacific waters soon spread
through the ship. Most of the jackies were delighted, and were
enthusiastic over the prospect of a "scrap" with somebody, they did not
much care whom. A heated discussion arose, forward, as to the merits of
the two nations which were supposed to be preparing for war. In the
midst of the excited talk a black-and-white kitten made her way into the
group and gave a careless little lap with her rough tongue at a hand
which was braced against the deck. The hand, a rough and knotty one,
taking no notice of her attentions, she drew her sharp little claws
playfully across it.

This time the owner of the hand, who was no other than Sam Bolles,
started so suddenly that he almost rolled over; then, vexed at the
laughter which greeted him, he caught the kitten up savagely and swung
his arm as if about to throw it overboard.

Now Sneezer, the kitten, was a special pet of Dick Scupp. Dick gave a
roar at seeing the danger of the animal, and flung himself bodily upon
Sam, who went over backward in a heap, relinquishing the kitten
(fortunately for her) as he did so.

"Well, I never seed sech kids fer quarrelin'," said old Martin, the
gunner, philosophically watching the two men as they rolled about the
deck, scattering kits and boxes and bringing up against the shins of
more than one of their comrades. "Come off, Sam, and let the youngster
alone! Let go, will you (for Sam was pulling Dick's stringy locks with
vigour)? Here comes Jimmy Legs. Let him up, Dick!"

"Jimmy Legs," whose real name was Hiram Deering, was chief
master-at-arms. The duties of his office, on a war-ship, are perhaps
more multifarious than that of any man on board. He is an enlisted man,
rated a chief petty officer, and wears the eagle rating-badge. Forward
of the mainmast his word is law at any hour of the day or night. Aft,
his word is taken by the commander, the executive, and by all other
officers.

The mettle in a chief master-at-arms, or "Jimmy Legs," as he is
universally known among the men, is always thoroughly known aft before
he is rated. He need not be a bully, but he must be a natural "master of
the situation," and of men, in an emergency as well as in the routine of
navy life. The Legs is privileged to take matters into his own hands, up
forward, when occasion demands. If necessity arises for him to knock a
man down, it is the business of Legs to know how to do it with science
and despatch.

The master-at-arms of an American war-ship is always a man who has seen
many years of service in the navy, and passed through most of the
inferior ratings of the enlisted men. He is a man whose blue-jacket
experience has taught him every trick of the naval sailor, every phase
of forecastle life. Hiram could neither be cajoled nor outwitted. He was
stern with evil-doers, but was the most popular man forward, in the
_Osprey_.

At dawn Jimmy Legs's duties begin, when the men turn out to clean ship.
The chief boatswain's mate is nominally the "boss" of the job, but it is
Legs who sees that the men do not growl or quarrel at their work, as
sleepy men will at such an hour and task.

Mess gear for breakfast is piped. The men rush to the tables. A
bluejacket with shoes on steps on the foot of the bluejacket who is
shoeless. Biff-bang! The Legs may be 'way aft on the poop watching the
after-guard sweepers at their work; but he is a man of instinct. In a
dozen bounds he is at the scene of the scrap.

"Chuck it! The Legs!" is the word there. The scrappers break away, and
when the Legs shows up they are seated side by side at their mess table,
quietly taking morning coffee.

It is the business of Jimmy Legs to make a tour of inspection through
the ship just before "morning quarters." The ship is then supposed to be
in shape for the commanding officer's approval, and the men's
wearing-gear all stowed away in ditty bags. It never is. There is always
to be found a shirt hastily thrown here, a shoe lying loose there, a
neckerchief and lanyard hanging over a ditty-box. This gear the Legs
gathers in impartially, no matter to whom it belongs, and thrusts into
the "Lucky Bag" (which is generally known by a far more opprobrious
epithet), which he keeps for that purpose.

The only way the owner of the gear may get it back is by reporting
himself at the mast, that is, to the commanding officer, for remissness
in stowing gear, which means, generally, a lopping off of liberty
privileges. Every month the contents of the bag of gear thus accumulated
are sold aboard at auction to the highest bidder among the jackies.

Finally, there is hardly a day in port that the Legs is not sent ashore
along toward noon to hunt up derelicts. These are liberty-breakers
carousing in town regardless of the fact that their services aboard are
needed, and that punishment awaits them when they return for overstaying
their leaves. Jimmy Legs is called for by the commander and gets a list
of the men to be returned.

Into the steam-cutter hops Legs, and away he goes after the derelicts.
He generally returns with them. He may be gone for some hours, or for a
day, but when he comes off to the ship, in shore boat or cutter, he has
the men he went after along with him.

So much for Jimmy Legs, whose never-ending and varied duties Hiram
Deering, a grizzled old man-o'-warsman, performed most admirably on the
_Osprey_.

The two men were pulled apart and the others had hardly gathered up
their scattered ditty-bags and personal belongings when a commotion was
observed among the officers on the bridge. They were gazing through
their glasses at a puff of smoke on the north-western horizon. In the
course of fifteen minutes it had grown to a small-sized cloud.

"She must have legs, to overhaul us in this way," observed Ensign
Dobson, with his binocular at his eyes. "How much were we making at the
last log, quartermaster?"

"Fifteen strong, sir."

"Then that fellow's doing a good twenty," added the officer. "Can you
make him out, Mr. Liddon?"

"It looks to me like a 'destroyer,'" replied the other, readjusting the
lenses of his glass. "It's a rather small, black craft, walking up on us
hand over fist."

"Bo'sun!" called Dobson to a man who stood near on the lower deck.

"Yes, sir!"

"Set the ensign."

"Aye, aye, sir!"

"There goes his flag!" said Dobson, excitedly.

"I can't make out what it is, but we'll soon know. Shall I slow down a
bit, sir?" he asked the lieutenant-commander, who had joined the other
officers on the bridge.

"Not yet," said Rexdale. "We can't afford to tie up for every fellow
that wants to speak us. Let him come up. He'll signal his business soon,
if he's really after us."

The stranger approached rapidly, and could now be seen with the naked
eye, as was attested by the watch on deck lining the bulwarks. There was
no apprehension, as the United States had no enemies afloat; still the
appearance, so far out at sea, of an unknown vessel bearing down swiftly
on the _Osprey_, was enough to attract the lively attention of
forecastle as well as cabin.

The kitten episode was quite forgotten, as the men thronged to the rail.

"Ah," exclaimed a brawny Irishman, waving his bare arm in the direction
of the stranger, "w'ot a pity it ain't war-toimes now! Sure it's a
lovely bit av a foight we'd be lookin' for, wid that smoker!"

"War nothin'!" retorted the old gunner. "I'm willin' to keep me arms and
legs on fur a while longer. What's the use o' bein' shot to pieces,
anyway!"

"Why don't he h'ist his ens'n?" growled another of the crew. "Manners is
manners, I say."

"It is h'isted," said Scupp, "only ye can't see it, 'cos it blows
straight out forrard on this west wind he's comin' afore. The officers
up there'll soon be makin' it out, I reckon."

But the uniformed group on the bridge had no such easy task. They
scrutinised the flag again and again, without success.

"I can't make the thing out," said Dobson, lowering the glasses, "can
you, Mr. Liddon?"

"Can't say I can. It blew out once, and looked like nothing I ever saw
before--a sort of twenty-legged spider in the centre. It's like nothing
I ever saw in these waters. If we were on the Asiatic coast----"

"Who has the sharpest eyes among the men, quartermaster?" enquired the
commander.

"I rather think, sir, them Japs can see the farthest."

"Orderly," ordered Rexdale, beckoning to a marine on duty, "find one of
the cabin stewards and send him to the bridge at once."

Hardly a minute elapsed before Oto glided gracefully up the ladder and
saluted.

"Take these glasses and see if you can make out that fellow's ensign,"
said Rexdale.

Oto lifted the binocular to his slanting eyes and picking up the
approaching steamer gave it a swift glance. A moment sufficed. Then he
returned the glasses to the commander, his face alight.

"Japanese, sir," he said simply. "That the flag of Japanese navy."

Dobson so far forgot his dignity as to slap his thigh.

"That's so!" he exclaimed. "I remember it well enough now. What on earth
can a Jap torpedo destroyer want in these waters?"

"We shall soon find out--where's that boy? Gone already? Of course it
excites him to see a part of his own navy so near. Stand by for signals,
Mr. Dobson. Have your man ready, and get out your book." Dave's eyes
were again scrutinising the approaching vessel as he gave the orders.

When the stranger was within about half a mile she rounded to a course
parallel with that of the _Osprey_, showing her long, vicious hull,
black and low in the water; and slowed down to keep from running away
from the American ship. Presently a line of small flags fluttered up to
her masthead.

Dobson examined them closely through the glass, then turned to his
signal-book. "One--three--seven--five--here she is--the _Kiku_--that's
Jap for Chrysanthemum, isn't it? Run up the answering pennant,
signalman. Then haul it down and set our number."

The introduction having thus been politely performed, the _Kiku_, first
answering the _Osprey's_ number, hoisted another line of flags.

"H'm, they have our signals pat," muttered Dobson, turning the leaves of
his book. "Here it is, Captain. 'Wish to communicate. Have message
for--' for whom I wonder? Answer, signalman. There goes the second half
of the signal: 'man on board your ship.' Well, that's cool! What shall
we reply, sir?"

"Answer: 'Send boat with message--hurry,'" said Dave, frowning. "I don't
like to stop, but the message may be important. I suppose it's for me,
only the Japanese don't know enough to say so. Slow down,
quartermaster."

"Slow, sir." And the indicator swung to that mark.

"Half speed."

"Half speed, sir."

"Now, full stop."

"Full stop, sir," and the engines of the _Osprey_ were still.

The _Kiku_ had taken similar measures, and changing her course,
approached to within a hundred rods.

Down came her starboard quarter-boat, with beautiful precision. The
oars fell together as the boat left the ship's side, and started toward
the _Osprey_.

A ladder was thrown over, but the Japanese stopped abruptly, backing
water when two or three boats' lengths distant, and turning, rowed a
slow stroke to keep abreast the gangway of the gunboat, which had not
lost her way. The officer in charge rose to his feet and raised his cap
courteously.

"You have Japanese on board, sir, name Oto?" he called out.

"Yes, sir. What of it?"

"My captain wish to see him."

Rexdale gave a little start of irritation. "Leave your message for the
boy," he shouted. "He's my cabin steward. I can't hold my ship for him
to visit you."

While this conversation was in progress, a slight, diminutive figure had
glided into the crowd of men overhanging the rail on the deck below. On
hearing Rexdale's answer he called out a few rapid words in his own
language to the officer in the boat. The latter answered, and the boat
lay up alongside. Before any one realized what Oto was about, he had
climbed the rail like a monkey and dropped into the strange boat, which
immediately headed for the _Kiku_.

[Illustration: "OTO CLIMBED THE RAIL LIKE A MONKEY."]

"Here!" shouted Rexdale, angrily, "What are you about? Bring back that
boy! He belongs to my ship!"

The Japanese officer half turned in his seat, waved his hat most
courteously, and spoke to his men; with the result that they pulled
harder than ever.

"Start her!" cried out Rexdale, furious with rage.

"Start her, sir," repeated the phlegmatic quartermaster, throwing over
the electric indicator.

"Full speed ahead!"

"Full speed ahead, sir."

"Now port your helm! Look sharp!"

"Port, sir."

But by the time the _Osprey_ had fair steerage-way the stranger, veering
in to shorten the distance, had picked up her boat and was pouring
volumes of black smoke from her funnels as she too forged ahead. Her
bows slowly swung to the northward.

The captain on her bridge waved his hat.

Dave set his teeth hard. "I'd like to send a shot across her bows!" he
muttered, glaring at the audacious destroyer which was plainly running
away from them. The jackies looked up eagerly at him, with their hands
on the breach of the four-inch rifle; not a few fists were shaken at the
departing stranger. It was a temptation, but the commander overcame it.

"It won't do to open fire, just for a steward," he said to his
subordinates, who were standing at his side with scowling faces. "On
her course, quartermaster!"

"On her course, sir. East by south, quarter south."

"It's a regular insult," stormed Liddon, for once shaken out of his
regularly calm demeanour. "It's abduction on the high seas! It's piracy,
that's what it is!"

"More like the press-gang," said Dobson, laconically.

"Well," said Rexdale, after a pause, "Japan will have to apologise for
that little performance when we've reached a cable port."

"Is Oto an American citizen?" enquired Liddon.

"I'm afraid not. I never heard him speak of naturalisation."

"Then I suppose it's hardly an international episode," said the other,
recovering his usual dignity of speech. "Perhaps the boy is an escaped
criminal. At worst, I'm afraid the captain of the _Kiku_ has only been
guilty of bad manners."

"I shall report the incident to the Department at the first
opportunity," said the commander decisively. "They can do what they like
about it."

But Rexdale did not make the report. The next morning he was waited
upon, to his utter bewilderment, by Oto himself, obsequious, deft, and
silent as of old!



CHAPTER VI.

A SCRAP IN MALTA.


The lieutenant-commander rubbed his eyes and stared at the little brown
man in utter amazement.

"Oto!" he exclaimed at length. "You here?"

"Yes, sir," replied Oto, placing a steaming cup of hot coffee at the
right hand of the officer.

"Come round here where I can see you. When did you come on board?"

"This morning, sir, at about three bells."

"Who brought you? Did you swim back?" demanded Rexdale, still mystified.

"No, sir. I came in the _Kiku's_ boat," said Oto, showing his white
teeth in a genial smile. "There was fog. The _Osprey_ was going at less
than half speed, and the lookouts did not see me. We came very quiet."

"Well, what have you got to say for yourself, any way?" asked Dave,
irritated at the boy's self-possession. "Do you know I can put you in
irons for deserting the ship?"

The little Jap spread his arms, in deprecation. "Very sorry," said he
humbly. "It was all mistake. Captain Osara wanted to give me message. He
did not wish me to leave ship. All mistake. So I come back. Captain
Osara say he apologise. Here his letter," and he handed a sealed missive
to the commander, who impatiently tore open the daintily folded sheet.
It was covered with Japanese characters.

"Read it to me," said Dave, handing the letter to Oto, who translated as
follows:


     "SHIP 'KIKU,'
     "ROYAL NAVY OF JAPAN.

     "To the Honourable
     "DAVID REXDALE,
     "Commanding U. S. Ship _Osprey_.

     "Am desirous to tender most humble apologies to your august
     presence for having taken to my ship the man Oto, whom I restore
     tremblingly to you. Augustly condescend to grant your forgiveness,
     and accept my joyful congratulation on your august health and the
     beauty and majesty of your ship.

     "Respectful veneration,
     "OSARA."


"Well," said Rexdale, smiling, in spite of his vexation, at the language
of the apology, "what was the message?"

But neither threats nor persuasion could induce Oto to divulge the
nature of the communication which had been of sufficient importance to
take a naval vessel out of her way and to lead her commander to play
such a daring trick--for such it evidently was, in spite of his polite
phrases--on a United States war-ship. Oshima in his turn was closely
questioned, but professed entire ignorance of the matter.

"I've not a particle of doubt," said Rexdale, talking it over with
Staples, "that it has some connexion with the strained relations between
Russia and Japan. He's a dangerous fellow to have on board, this Oto,
with his skill at gunnery, his high-bred manners, and his mysterious
disappearances and appearances. When we reach Hongkong I shall dismiss
both Japs. They might get us into a heap of trouble."

Staples quite agreed with Dave, and, with a careful record of the
episode in the ship's log, the affair was closed.

Two weeks later the _Osprey_ dropped her anchor off the quay in the
inner harbour of Valetta, the principal seaport of Malta. Rexdale's
first care was to cable his arrival to the Department; next, to mail his
report of the voyage; third, to send a long letter to Hallie, his wife,
who would be waiting, even more anxiously than the Secretary of the
Navy, to hear from him. At the telegraph office he found a dispatch
from Washington, ordering him to hold the _Osprey_ at Valetta until
further instructions from the Department. He knew that he would need
time for coaling, and informed the other officers of the ship that they
would probably spend at least a week at their present anchorage, which
had been designated by the harbour-master.

The next two days were busy ones. All hands worked hard and became grimy
from head to foot with coal dust. At length the jackies forward heard
the welcome order: "Shift into clean blue, the liberty party!" Working
in the intense heat of a Mediterranean July, the men had been stripped
to their waists. Now they sluiced one another down with the hose, and
gladly slipped on their spruce shore-going togs. With strict injunctions
to be on board before dark, thirty of the crew were permitted to land.

Midshipman Starr went ashore with Ensigns Liddon and Dobson.

"There's only one thing I want to see," announced Starr, "and that's a
real, genuine Maltese cat, proudly standing on her native soil. I
suppose the streets are full of 'em." He and Dobson had never before
visited the city of Valetta, but "Doc." Liddon was well informed as to
its history and attractions, having spent several weeks there before he
joined the Naval Academy.

The moment the three young officers set foot on the quay, they were
beset by vendors of all sorts of trinkets, especially those of silver
filigree-work.

"What sort of money do they use here?" asked Dobson.

"English, of course," replied Liddon. "The island is one of the choicest
jewels in the British crown, and----"

"Lend me a dollar's worth of shillings, will you?" interrupted the
other, "and tell me about the jewels later, Doc. I want to buy that
bracelet for 'the girl I left behind me,' if the price isn't too high."

The seller parted with the pretty ornament for one shilling, and the
trio, waving aside the rest of the merchants, moved on.

"Where shall we go first?" asked Liddon.

"Just show me one good cat--" began Bob, earnestly, "and I'll----"

"Oh drop your cats, Bob! Take us to the best view, to begin with,
Liddon."

"Well, let's go up to Fort St. Elmo. That overlooks both harbour
basins."

"Whew! Hot's the word!" exclaimed Bob Starr, wiping his brow as they
gained the ramparts of the old fortress. "Now, while we are cooling off,
tell us about this aged ruin which the _Osprey_ could make over into
cracked stone for a macadamised road in about five minutes."

"It isn't a ruin yet, young man," said the ensign, taking off his cap
to enjoy the breeze, "and the _Osprey's_ rifled four-inch would have to
toss a good many shot up here to produce road material, I can tell you.
But three hundred-and-odd years ago--in 1565, to be exact--this old fort
held off a big fleet and land force for four months. The Knights of St.
John defended it in great style. Sultan Solyman, who had driven the
Knights from Rhodes thirty-four years before, made up his mind that
Malta was too good for them. He brought about a hundred and forty
vessels and an army of thirty-odd thousand men, to give them a
thorough-going house-warming.

"Were there any cats--" began Starr; but the lecturer proceeded without
noticing the interruption.

"These forces were reinforced, if I remember rightly"--(Cries of "Oh,
you do! you _do_!" from the audience)--"were afterwards increased by a
lot of corsairs from Algiers and pirates from Tripoli. When the fort
seemed on the point of breaking up, after four months' battering, the
few Knights that were left entered that little chapel over there,
received the rites of the Church--the _viaticum_--and went out to start
on their last journey. They were cut to pieces by the Turks; but two
outworks still resisted and fought off the besiegers until help arrived
from Sicily. Out of eight or nine thousand defenders, only six hundred
were left to join in the _Te Deum_ (you know the Knights were a
religious order) as the Turks sailed off."

"O my, look at this!" Starr suddenly broke in. "Isn't she a dear!"

The officers looked up and saw an extremely pretty girl approaching,
attended by a maid.

"What on earth is that thing on her head?" queried Dobson under his
breath. "It looks like a stu'n'sail!"

"It's a _faldetta_," said Liddon. "Most of the ladies, the natives, I
mean, wear them."

The young men rose from their seats on the bastion, and raised their
hats as the girl passed. She flushed and bowed, then looked down
demurely, and hurried on.

"What language do they speak?" demanded Bob, hastily. "If I only knew, I
could ask her about Maltese----"

"Don't get agitated, my son," said Liddon, calmly, "and don't address
any young ladies without an introduction. As for their language, it's a
mixture of Portuguese and Arabic----"

"That'll do," groaned Bob, with a heavy sigh. "There's no danger of my
breaking out in her native tongue. What's next on the programme?"

"Well, we'll take a stroll through the principal street and visit the
Church of St. John, which was built by the Knights a few years after
the siege."

The street itself was full of interest to the young Americans.
Sauntering along--themselves attracting no little favourable attention
in their natty white uniforms--they met cabmen driving their little
horses at full speed, English ladies elegantly dressed side by side with
the natives in their huge black one-sided hoods, flocks of goats, to be
milked at the doors of customers, smart British officers, swarthy-faced
Hindoos, and beggars without end.

"This is the Church of St. John," said Liddon, as the naval party
entered an imposing portal, flanked by two huge towers. "Here the
Knights used to worship, when they were not otherwise engaged----"

"To wit, in fighting!" interpolated Starr. "Well, I must say those old
fellows did well whatever they undertook. Look at those marbles and
paintings!"

With hushed voices the three young men passed down the long aisle, to
one of the chapels where they were shown various relics which, Liddon
said, had been held in the deepest veneration by the builders of the
church in those strange old days. There were some of the bones of St.
Thomas of Canterbury, one of the stones cast at St. Stephen, the right
foot of Lazarus, and a thorn from the sacred crown. However sceptical
the Americans might have been as to the genuineness of these relics,
they showed in their faces and demeanour only their respect for the
belief of those who treasured them. A party of tourists came up at the
same time, and two or three pretty girls giggled effusively over the
objects displayed.

"Come on!" muttered Dobson in disgust. "Let's get out of this. There are
times when I'm ashamed of my race!" and turning on their heels the young
men left the church.

The gay scenes in the sunny street restored their good humour, and they
visited successively a catacomb chapel--where the vaults were ornamented
with fantastically arranged bones of departed monks and knights--an old
city gate, and some interesting rock-hewn depositories of grain.

"Not a cat yet, except a yellow one that don't count!" murmured Bob
sadly, as they turned their steps toward the final great attraction of
Valetta, the Governor's Palace, in St. George's Square.

"It was formerly," explained their omniscient guide, "the palace of the
Grand Master of the Knights of St. John, and contains some of the
principal treasures of the Order. Here is the Armory," he added, as they
entered a large hall, containing rows of figures clad in antique armour,
and a wealth of weapons and armour of ancient times. Here, too, was the
sword, battle-axe, and coat-of-mail of the leader of the corsairs who
assisted the Turks in the famous siege of Fort St. Elmo; the trumpet
which sounded the retreat of the Knights from Rhodes, in 1523; and a
cannon made of a copper tube and wound with tarred rope, used by the
Turks, Liddon said, during their siege of that island.

"Compare it with one of the twelve-inch turret rifles on our modern
battle-ships!" exclaimed Dobson. "Why, I'd rather have a good navy
revolver to fight with than this ropy thing!"

For two or three hours more (a rest being taken at a small restaurant)
the officers wandered about the streets of Valetta. Liddon regaled his
companions with details of its history, including its capture by
Napoleon in 1798, the subsequent two-years siege when the Maltese had
risen in revolt against their captors, and its formal cession to the
English in 1814.

"It's no use, boys, I'm used up," said Dobson at length. "I'm off for
the ship; you can come or stay, as you like."

"Oh, we'll go along, too," said Starr. "I should have left an hour ago,
but I wanted to see how long Liddon _could_ keep it up, before the pumps
sucked. He'd make his fortune as a filibusterer against an unpopular
bill in the Senate!"

They passed along the Strada Reale--"Royal Street"--for the last time,
and were just turning down toward the harbour when a slight commotion on
the sidewalk ahead attracted their attention. A knot of people had
gathered around a group in which some sort of altercation was going on.

"Hold on a minute," cried the midshipman, "let's see what's up."

The three inseparables pushed their way into the crowd, the outer
portion of which was composed of good-natured Maltese and a variety of
street-loungers. Within this circle were a dozen sailors from a small
Russian cruiser in port. They, in their turn, had corralled a couple of
small brown men whom their tormentors were hustling rudely as if to
provoke a resistance which would afford an excuse for rougher treatment.

The officers from the _Osprey_ simultaneously recognised the victims of
this assault, and with a howl of indignation from Bob, and a stern
"Stand aside, men!" from Liddon, they pulled off the Russian
blue-jackets and took their stand beside the Japanese, who were no other
than Oto and Oshima.

"_Amerikanski!_" snarled the sailors as they noted the uniforms of the
intruders and closed in again, while the throng of idlers increased.

"What's the matter, my lads?" said Dobson to the stewards, who seemed in
no wise discomposed, but stood quietly awaiting a favourable moment for
withdrawal.

"We do no harm," said Oshima, when both had given the naval salute.
"These men, these Russians"--(it is impossible to describe the tone of
lofty contempt with which he pronounced the word, looking around at the
burly tars, each a full head taller than himself)--"they stop us here in
the street and call us bad names and dare us to fight--the big
men--cowards!"

Perhaps it was fortunate for the little Jap that the Russian sailors
could not understand a word of English; but the general tenor of his
remarks was only too plain from his tones and gestures. The assailants
closed in again with a volley of incomprehensible expletives and
unmistakably threatening gestures. Liddon was violently shoved aside.
This was more than he could stand.

"Take that, you bully!" he cried, planting a quick, nervous blow
straight between the eyes of the fellow who had jostled him.

The man fell over against his comrades--the street was too crowded to
allow him to drop outright--and the inner circle enlarged; but only for
a moment. The sailors, half of whom were intoxicated, rushed forward
with a roar of rage. Before they reached the officers, whose prospects
of gaining their ship in safety seemed decidedly poor, Oto spoke a
swift word to his chum, and each darted upon a Russian. It was like a
terrier charging a bloodhound; but with a lightning-like grasp and twist
of the arm the diminutive assailants brought to the ground their bulky
adversaries, screaming with pain. Then the Japanese ducked under the
arms of the nearest bystanders and disappeared as if by magic.

Another momentary diversion had been effected by this quick and
unexpected display of _jiu-jitsu_, but now the sailors were about to
charge again. The unarmed young officers stood on guard, their fists
advanced.

"You take that big chap with a black beard, Bob," said Liddon hastily,
"and I'll engage the brute next to him. Dob., you look out for the
beauty with red hair. Steady, now, fellows, here they come!"

But before the two parties fairly clashed, a ringing shout rent the air.

"Hooroar, byes, it's a scrap!" shouted a jovial voice well known to the
Americans. Then the tone changed. "Ah--h--sure it's the darlints of
ensigns and the middy from the _Osprey_! Come on, byes, let 'em have
it!"

The officers were glad enough of reinforcements to overlook the slight
to their dignified rank on board ship. In a moment the affair was over.
Half a dozen Russians were rolling in the dust, while the rest fell back
in disorder before the onslaught of the _Osprey's_ jackies, led by Pat
Ryan and Dick Scupp, who, it afterwards turned out, had been directed to
the spot by Oto, and had rushed ahead with no clear idea of what was the
matter until they caught sight of the white duck and gold braid of their
own officers' uniforms.

"Down to the boats in a hurry, lads!" shouted Liddon, leading the way,
as he heard cries of "Police! Police!" on the outskirts of the throng.

A rush for the quay, and the _Osprey_ men scrambled into their boats,
taking the two Japanese with them. The Russians gathered on the steps
shaking their fists at the "Amerikanski," but no further harm was done,
and in a few minutes the "liberty party," officers and all, were safe on
board the gunboat.

"'Twas a lively brush, sir," said Ensign Liddon, reporting the affair to
Rexdale; "but I think nothing will come of it. We must keep away, and
keep our men away, from Russians just now, when their feeling against
Americans is running pretty high."

"Very true," said the lieutenant-commander, smiling. "I'm glad it was no
worse. And Oto, Oshima, no more shore leave for you, while the _Neva_ is
in port!"

Liddon proved to be right in his conjecture. The police, arriving just
too late to witness the affray, and seeing that trouble had arisen
between sailors of different nationalities, hardly went through the form
of pursuing the participants, and let the whole matter drop; such
squabbles being common in every large seaport where war-ships lie in the
stream and their crews have liberty ashore.

The _Neva_ sailed for the Baltic two days later, and within a week
Rexdale received orders from the Department to proceed eastward. Then
came a succession of wonderfully beautiful days and nights on the blue
Mediterranean, the _Osprey_ tossing the foam from her stem in showers of
sparkling silver, and startling the flying fish that flashed from wave
to wave, until the low, tawny shores of Africa came in sight.

"To think that I'm actually gazing upon Egypt!" exclaimed Bob Starr, as
he stood on the bridge one fair July morning. "Those are really the
'sands of the desert,' and that scraggy-looking feather-duster is a
palm!"

Small vessels with great ruddy lateen sails hovered about the war-ship
as she advanced. A shark's black, sickle-like fin drifted carelessly
astern while the fierce fish, all alert below the surface, watched for
prey.

Now Damietta was reached, and Port Said. The _Osprey_, awaiting her
turn, meekly entered the Canal in the rear of a big Dutch merchant
steamer. There was little for the officers or men to do, and they
clustered at the rails, and on the quarter-deck, gazing out over the
marshes and plains of Egypt--the crew blankly, for the most part; the
more highly educated graduates of Annapolis with thoughts of the great,
dim Past to which this storied land of the Pharaohs bore silent witness.
Here Abraham wandered, from Ur of the Chaldees; across those sands
marched the hordes of Rameses II., going up against the Syrians.

Now and then the ship halted in basins cut for the purpose, like
railroad sidings, to allow northbound vessels to pass. Nearly every ship
was flying the Union Jack, for three-quarters of all the tonnage that
passes through the Canal belongs to Great Britain. Next in order of
frequency came the French, Dutch, and Germans.

"Sure, it's hungry I am for the Stars and Stripes," said Pat, gazing
gloomily at a broad German ensign at Ismalia, half-way across the
Isthmus. "I'm tired o' jumpin' lions and two-headed aigles and rid
crosses!"

[Illustration: IN STRANGE WATERS]

Onward again. Here a little village of mud-huts, with its clump of
"feather-dusters," as Bob persisted in calling the palms; there a
caravan plodding along the marshes against the sky-line. Flocks of
water-fowl faring gracefully over the broad pools gave place to yellow
sands, and the sands again to clear green water and sighing reeds.

At last the good ship _Osprey_ emerged from the narrow, lonely, sluggish
stream into the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean.



CHAPTER VII.

O-HANA-SAN'S PARTY.


O-Hana-San was to give a party. She announced the fact with pride to her
schoolmates, who, with the frankness peculiar to childhood, eagerly
demanded invitations. Had they been older, they would have called on the
lady who was to entertain, and, after flattering her and making their
personal regard for her as prominent as possible, would have brought the
conversation round to the party, in order to show that they knew all
about it and of course should expect an invitation. Being little girls,
they just said, one and all, "Oh, do ask me to come, Hana!"

Miss Blossom (for that is the English equivalent for her name)
considered.

"I can only invite twelve," she finally announced. "Twelve girls," she
concluded, with a sigh; "no boys."

"Why not?" demanded one of the larger boys, pushing forward. "You must
ask me, anyway, Hana!"

O-Hana-San shook her head. "It is not permitted," she said. "I cannot
invite you, Oto Owari. Only girls--no boys."

It was after school-hours. The children had been summoned to their tasks
by a drum-beat, and at noon they had marched out of the schoolhouse, in
orderly fashion, the boys in one division, girls in another. Once beyond
the school limits, the two divisions became mixed. O-Hana-San was only
nine years old, and Oto, being fifteen (this was about a dozen years
before the building of the _Retvizan_ and the cruise of the _Osprey_)
considered that he did her great honour in applying for an invitation to
her party. He scowled, at her refusal, and turned away abruptly.

"Come, Oshima," said he, to a comrade a little younger than himself,
"let's go down to the shore." When Oto was disturbed in his mind he
always wanted to "go down to the shore."

The town where he lived was on the west coast of one of the northern
provinces of Nippon, the principal island of the group comprising the
Japanese Empire. Oto was the son of one of the leading men of the place.
He was a bright, earnest boy, and often, after he had been listening to
the talk of his elders, he would gaze across the sea toward that
mysterious country Korea, which he had heard his father say was "a
dagger, aimed at the heart of Japan." He longed to fight for the
Empire, which he adored with all the passionate worship of the true
Japanese. He was an adept at seamanship, in a small way, before he was
fourteen; perfectly at home in the water or on it; and possessed with an
ardent ambition to join the navy which his country was then building up
in wonderful new ways, taught by the pale-faced folk of the other
hemisphere. His father could give him but little hope of attaining his
wishes, for he could not let the lad serve as a common sailor, nor could
he afford to give him the higher education necessary for an officer.

Oto's boon companion since childhood was Oshima, the son of a rich
family who occupied a handsome villa on the outskirts of the town.
Oshima's grandfather had been one of the famous _Samurai_, who carried
two swords. When the edict had gone forth suppressing the order, or
depriving it of its essential characteristics, he had joined a band of
Samurai who refused to obey the imperial command, and in a fight which
followed he had lost his life. Oshima's father was a peaceful man who
cared little for war, but the boy himself had inherited his
grandfather's love of battle, and made up his mind to enter the army.
The two boys talked with each other of their plans and hopes, often and
earnestly.

By the time the lads had reached the rocky shore just north of the
village, they had forgotten all about little Blossom and her party.
O-Hana-San was a great favourite with Oto, it is true, but when once the
topic of the navy was raised, all other thoughts fled to the winds.

"Let us swim," said Oshima at length, when several prospective battles
had been fought out, on sea and land. "I'm as warm as if I had been
marching from Fusan to Seoul--where I shall march some day."

"Go you and swim if you want to," replied Oto. "I have a plan here to
work out, for manoeuvring a battle-ship in the face of the enemy, with
the tide setting out from land, and----"

"Oh, bother your tides!" laughed Oshima. "Here goes for a dip into them.
I'll come out in ten minutes."

He was soon in the water at a good distance from shore, gamboling like a
porpoise, swimming on his back, treading, and performing all sorts of
antics.

Oto had drawn a piece of paper from his pocket and was absorbed in
tracing a diagram of a sea-fight. After a while he glanced up
carelessly; then he sprang to his feet with a wild cry.

"Come in! come in, Oshima! Quick! There's a shark after you!"

At first Oshima did not understand; but he saw the other's gesture, and
looked over his shoulder. There, not a hundred yards away, was the
dreaded black fin, glistening in the afternoon sun, drifting rapidly
toward him like the sail of a child's toy-boat.

The swimmer struck out for the shore with all his might. He was in a
little bay, and Oto, springing down headlong over the rocks, perceived
that his friend was a little nearer the southern point of land than the
central beach from which he had started.

"Make for the point--the point!" he shrieked, gesticulating wildly.

Oshima veered to the right, and the black fin followed. Oto plunged into
the sea and swam straight toward the shark. There was no more shouting
now; only two dark heads bobbing in the waves, and the little black sail
dancing toward them.

Oshima now began to beat the water with his hands, making a tremendous
splashing. The great fish, startled by the commotion, paused, and the
ugly fin seemed irresolute. Oshima was now swimming more slowly. Younger
than Oto, and far less robust, he was becoming exhausted. Every moment
he expected to feel the clutch of those terrible jaws. He struck out
madly, but made little progress.

The shark, meanwhile, made up his mind. The new morsel was coming
directly toward him, while the first seemed in a fair way of escaping to
shallow water if not to the land itself. The monster, with a twist of
his tail, turned again and made for Oto, though not very rapidly, for
the splashing made the fish wary.

At last the critical moment came. Oto had heard an old pearl-fisher tell
of many a battle with the man-eating sharks of the Pacific. As the huge
creature began to turn, to seize his prey, the black fin disappeared.
Quick as a flash Oto doubled himself in the water and dived. A moment
later a red stain dyed the surface of the sea. The boy had drawn a sharp
dagger from his belt and stabbed upward as his assailant passed over
him.

There was no more battle. The shark had enough of Oto and fled for the
depths of the ocean while his victor, watching sharply for his late foe,
made his way ashore as swiftly as possible. He found Oshima stretched
upon the sand, uninjured but almost unconscious from fright and
exhaustion.

It was this incident, the self-forgetful valour of his son's friend,
saving the former's life at the peril of his own, that led Oshima's
father, a few days afterward, to make the offer that changed the boy's
whole life. He proposed to the elder Owari to send Oto at his own
expense to any naval school in the world, and educate him for the
Japanese navy. Oto chose the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis,
as we have seen, and graduated with honour, resigning only to accept a
post under his own Emperor.

Oshima meanwhile pursued his studies at the Military Institute in
Yokohama, and received in due time his appointment as sub-lieutenant in
the Japanese army. Entrusted with an important secret mission a few
years later the two comrades went to America, performed their duties
faithfully, and, in pursuance of direct orders from high authority,
concealed their identity by returning as cabin stewards; the men of the
_Osprey_ little dreaming that the meek, gentle "boys" whom they ordered
to and fro on menial errands were officers, older and of higher rank
than themselves, in the Imperial Army and Navy of Japan.

Thus the party of little O-Hana-San led to important results; for had
not Oto applied to her for an invitation, and gone off to the shore
sulking because of her refusal, Oshima would not have had his eventful
swim, the shark would not have been disappointed in a meal, Oshima's
father would not have felt the impulse of gratitude which influenced him
to bestow a naval education upon his neighbour's son; in short the
_Retvizan's_ plans would never have been laid before the naval secret
service authorities of Tokio, nor, in all likelihood, would Dave Rexdale
have been so well served, in the absence of his two faithful Japanese
stewards, on the outward cruise of the _Osprey_!

As for O-Hana-San, she had her party, and a gay one it was, as gaiety
was reckoned in those parts. The little hostess duly sent out her
invitations, and received her guests with all formality. Her dark,
glossy hair was drawn back, raised in front, and gathered into a double
loop, in which a scarlet bit of scarf was coquettishly twisted. She wore
a blue flowered silk kimono, with sleeves touching the ground; a blue
girdle lined with scarlet; and a fold of the scarlet scarf lay between
her neck and the kimono. On her little feet were white _tabi_, socks of
cotton cloth, with a separate place for the great toe (which was a very
small one, nevertheless), so as to allow the scarlet-covered thongs of
the finely lacquered clogs, which she wore while she stood on the steps
to receive her guests and afterward removed, to pass between it and the
smaller toes. All the other diminutive ladies were dressed in the same
style, and, truth to say, looked like a company of rather expensive
little dolls.

Well, when they were all assembled, she and her graceful mother,
squatting before each, presented tea and sweetmeats on lacquer trays;
and then they played at quiet and polite little games until dusk, when
the party broke up, and O-Hara-San (Spring), O-Yuki-San (Snow),
O-Kiku-San (Chrysanthemum), and the rest bobbed nice little bows and
said, quite after the fashion of their elders, that "they had had _such_
a nice time," and went home.

In the years that followed, O-Hana-San, the Blossom and the prettiest
girl in the town, had but little chance to invite Oto to her parties,
nor could the gallant young Japanese take her to the Academy hops; but
he wrote to her constantly, and now, as the _Osprey_ cut the waters of
the Indian Ocean with her snowy stem, he thought of the dark-eyed
Blossom in the far-off little village of Nippon; and, as he tripped to
and from the pantry, and returned with delicacies for the cabin table,
balancing himself gracefully against the rolling and pitching of the
vessel, wondered how soon he should stand before her on the quarter-deck
of his own ship, clad in the brilliant uniform of his rank. As for
Oshima, he had been waiting eleven years for a good chance to give his
life for Oto!



CHAPTER VIII.

A BATCH OF LETTERS.


[_Dick Scupp to his Mother._]

"ON BOARD THE 'OSPREY.'

"December 20, 1903.

"_Dear Mother_:

"I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am well and hope you are the
same. We left Manila two weeks ago and came to this place, which is
Chefoo. It sounds like a sneeze, doesn't it? It is a Chinese port on
Shantung Peninsula, pretty nearly opposite Port Arthur, which as you
know is occupied by the Russians. I wish I could be home next Friday,
which is Christmas. Tell Katy to think of me and I will bring home
something in my box for her. I am sorry to say I have lost that pair of
stockings you knit for me. I forgot and left them on the deck instead of
putting them in my bag and Jimmy Legs got them when he came round, and
popped them into the lucky-bag. I might have gone up to the mast the
next day and claimed them, but a lot of us were going ashore (it was
when we were at Shanghai) and I didn't want my liberty stopped, so I let
them go, and Sam Bolles bought them at the auction afterward for
nineteen cents. That is all I have to say at present.

"From your loving son,

"RICHARD."


[_From Oto Owari to O-Hana-San._]

_Translated._

"SASEBO, January 2, 1904.

"The exalted letter which you augustly condescended to send me on the
13th day of the 10th moon filled me with great felicity, to know that
you are in ever-increasing august robustness, as you were tormented with
light fever when I worshipped your eyebrow[1] a short time before. I do
not know where I shall go next. I see Oshima almost daily at the
barracks. A new ship is fitting out at the docks, the _Fujiyama_, and it
may be that I shall have an appointment to her, or it may be that I
shall have to go _under the water_. You will understand later. I am now
awaiting orders. Although the war-cloud in the west is dark, the people
in Tokio celebrated New Year's Day with rejoicing and festivity, as
usual. The houses and shops, Oshima told me, were covered with fruits
and flowers, and the streets decorated with flags and lanterns. Many
bands of men marched through the city singing old war-songs of the
Samurai. All the fairs were crowded. Pray condescend to take august care
of your exalted health. I knock my head against the floor.

"Remembrance and respectful veneration.

"OTO.

"TO O-HANA-SAN."


[_Hallie to Lieut. Com. David Rexdale, U. S. N._]

_Extracts._

"BOSTON, November 15, 1903.

"_Dear Dave_:

"You can't tell how anxious I am to hear from you. Your last letter,
mailed at Suez, was a very short one. You told me you had a despatch
from Washington ordering you to Shanghai instead of Hongkong, and I
ought to have received a letter from that city; but I haven't and I'm
worried about you. If it didn't cost so much I would cable instead of
writing. Do write to me at once. If anything should happen to you[2]....

"In September I had a little visit with the Holmes. Norman has been
detached from the Brooklyn Yard and appointed to the _Vulture_, which
probably will join the Asiatic squadron this winter or in the early
spring. Our old friend Tickerson has received his commission as
lieutenant (first grade) and his wife writes me gleefully on the
increase of pay as well as glory. Do you remember when you introduced me
to her, at Annapolis? They say 'Girlie' is just as proud of her as he
was in the old days, when the other cadets (all but _you_, of course,
Dave!) used to envy him as he walked down 'Lover's' with her.

"You would be interested in the football situation this fall, if you
were here. O, if only....

"Well, as I was about to say, Harvard is of course straining every nerve
to get into condition for Yale. The game comes off in about ten days,
and I'm going over to Cambridge to see it. Who do you suppose is going
to take me? Why, dear old Uncle Richard, who happens to be spending a
few weeks East, on business. Little Hallie Holmes is the dearest baby in
the world. Wasn't it lovely in Anemone to insist on naming her for me?
Aunt Letitia is tremendously interested in two things--anti-vivisection
and the Russo-Japanese trouble. She has attended several hearings at the
State House, and at one of them she spoke her mind out so forcibly that
old Jed, bless his heart, made a great racket pounding on the floor and
set everybody applauding. He had sneaked in without Aunt's knowing it,
and on reaching home was heard to express a strong desire to 'keelhaul
them doctors.' He takes great delight in his lofty 'cabin' and regularly
goes out 'on deck' at the top of the house every night, to have a last
smoke and a 'look at the weather,' like Captain Cuttle, before turning
in. Aunt Letitia reads every scrap she can find in the papers about
Russia and Japan, and so, for that matter, do I. Sometimes my sympathies
are with one nation and sometimes with the other. Of course Japan is
ever so much the smaller of the two, and her people are so quick and
bright that nearly everybody takes their side and hopes that if there is
a war she will win. But then Russia sometimes seems to me less like a
bear than a great Newfoundland dog, and, as somebody has said, it's
fairly pathetic to see how she has been trying all these years to get to
the water; that is, to the open ocean, where she can have a navy, big
and well trained, like other nations. Her ships in the Baltic seem like
boats in a tub. Anyway I do hope and pray that there won't be any war,
after all. Surely we humans know enough, have got evolutionised enough,
in this twentieth century, to settle a dispute without fighting like
savages.

"I miss you every day.... Write to me as soon as you can....

"Your loving wife,

"HALLIE."


[_From Fred Larkin to Lieutenant Staples._]

"SAN FRANCISCO, December 29, 1903.

"MY DEAR LIEUTENANT:


     "'If you get there before I do,
     Tell them I am coming too!'


"As I expected, the _Bulletin_ doesn't propose to get left on any
unpleasantness in the Extreme East, nor even to take its chances in a
syndicate. It wants real news, straight from the front, and, naturally,
it hits upon Yours Truly to pick it up. I wrote to Rexdale just before
leaving Boston, so it is probably no surprise to you that I have crossed
the continent and am about to embark for Yokohama. Indeed I may make my
bow to you on the quarter-deck of the _Osprey_ before you receive this
letter! The papers are full of correspondence and abstracts of
diplomatic papers from St. Petersburg and Tokio. The language of these
communications between the State Departments of the two countries is
bland and meek as the coo of a dove or the _baa_ of a lamb; but mark my
words, my boy--there's going to be a war, and a big one. There _must_
be, to justify my going out to report it! Do you remember how a reporter
in Havana in 1897 is said to have cabled to the home office of a certain
'yellow' journal not unknown to fame, 'No war here. What shall I do?'
And the editor of the newspaper cabled back, 'Stay where you are, and
send full reports. I'll provide war.' Well, our venerable and sagacious
friend Marquis Ito, together with the amiable but distracted Ruler of
all the Russias, will 'provide war' for me to write up, and that before
many days. And the little Japs will strike first, see if they don't!
Tell Rexdale, please, that I'm on my way. If anything good happens
before I see you, 'make a note on,' and give it to me for a _Bulletin_
story.

"Yours ever,

"LARKIN."


[_From Lieutenant Commander Rexdale to Hallie._]

_Extract._

"CAVITE, P. I., December 2, 1903.

" ... From Shanghai we were ordered to this port, where we have been
lying for nearly a month, doing guard duty. Next Thursday we sail for
Chefoo, the Chinese seaport not far from Wei-hai-wei, where Pechili
Strait opens into the Yellow Sea. At that station we shall be quite near
Korea and Port Arthur, and if there is any trouble we shall be
spectators, though almost certainly not participants, so you need not
worry when you see by the naval despatches at home that we are on the
outskirts of the Debatable Land. It is hard, I've no doubt, for you to
realise how the war-fever is growing, out here. I am told that the
Japanese have been steadily preparing for this final trial of her
strength with Russia for years past. You may be interested in the
make-up of the Jap. army. Under the present law all males are subject to
conscription at the age of twenty. There is no distinction of class, and
there are no exemptions except for physical disabilities, or because the
conscript is the sole support of indigent parents, a student in certain
schools, or a member of certain branches of civil service.

"The first term of service is between the ages of twenty and
twenty-three. Then the soldier enters the first reserve, where he serves
between the ages of twenty-three and twenty-six. After that he goes to
the second reserve, where his service is between the ages of twenty-six
and thirty-one; and then to the general national reserve, which includes
all males between the ages of seventeen and forty not already in active
service.

" ... I was called off, yesterday afternoon, from my writing, and later
in the day I learned that there is trouble in Seoul, the capital of
Korea. There are lots of Japanese and Russians there, and, with the
Korean natives hating all foreigners, there is material for a good deal
of disturbance. Several riots have occurred in the streets, and it is
said that our minister has cabled to Washington asking for a war-ship
at Chemulpo, the port of Seoul. If the Department assents, the talk is
that either the _Wilmington_ or the _Osprey_ will be detailed for that
duty. I must say I hope it will be our little ship, and so do all our
officers. Midshipman Starr puts it very well: 'When I was a boy, I
always liked to get right up against the ropes at a fire!' He isn't much
more than a boy now, but he's a fine fellow, and I'd trust him to do his
part in an emergency....

"_Later._--The _Vicksburg_ is the lucky ship, after all. She has sailed
for Chemulpo, and a party of marines will be landed and sent up to Seoul
to protect our Minister and all other Americans and their interests in
the city. The gunboat is commanded by Com. W. A. Marshall, whom you will
remember meeting in Washington at the ball three years ago. His ship is
about the size of the _Osprey_, and carries six guns.

"I hear that the Japanese fleet at Nagasaki is removing all superfluous
wood-work, filling its bunkers with hard steam coal, and preparing, in
general, for business. We sail for Chefoo at 9 A.M. to-morrow....

"Your loving husband,

"DAVE."


FOOTNOTES:

[1] "Met you."

[2] Mrs. Rexdale has insisted that some portions of her letter,
interesting only to her husband, shall be omitted.



CHAPTER IX.

AT THE CZAR'S COMMAND.


Ivan Ivanovitch lived on the outskirts of a small village about one
hundred miles north-east of Moscow. Like his father and grandfather and
many generations before, he was a _moujik_, a peasant, with this
difference: they had been serfs; Ivan was freeborn. His father now owned
the hut in which he lived with his family of wife and three
children--two girls, besides Ivan; he also owned a small patch of land,
and an acre or two of tillable soil had been allotted to him when the
serfs were emancipated, with a condition of slow payment to the
Government, a few roubles at a time.

Up to the autumn of 1903 Ivan worked in the fields, bare-headed and
blue-bloused, beside his father. The girls worked, too, for the father
was lame and needed all the help he could get. He had leaned upon Ivan
more and more as the years went by and his son grew from boyhood to
sturdy young manhood. Every evening the family knelt before the crucifix
on the wall of the living-room, and prayed for themselves, their
country, and their "Little Father," the Czar, who spent all his time in
far-off St. Petersburg, they were sure, in thinking of his "children,"
the people of the great Empire, and loving them and planning for their
good. In return they almost worshipped him, as they did the figure on
the crucifix.

"Soon you will have to serve as a soldier, Ivan," said his father one
day. The older man had a great tawny beard and mane of hair like a
lion's; Ivan resembled him more and more.

"That is true, my father."

"You are nearly of age."

"True, my father."

"But," put in his mother anxiously, "surely our boy will not have to
fight?"

"Nay, Matouschka," said Ivan tenderly but manfully, "if the Czar
commands, my life is his!"

Two months later he reported at the barracks at Moscow, and was duly
enrolled in the 11th Regiment of Infantry, Third Division, First
Reserves, of the Imperial Army.

At first the novelty was amusing, and Ivan enjoyed the companionship of
his comrades in the ranks, the smart uniform and big fur cap, the music
of the band, when they paraded in the great square and the crowds
gathered to see. But the drill, drill, drill became tedious, and it was
with rather a sense of relief that in the latter part of the following
January he heard that the regiment was to leave Moscow for the Far East.

There was no time to say good-bye to his parents, nor could he have paid
his fare to and from the village had permission been given. So Ivan took
out his little brass cross, his "ikon," which, like every other Russian
soldier, he carried in his bosom, and murmured a prayer for father and
sisters and the little mother. Then he buckled on his belt, adjusted his
clumsy cap, shouldered his musket and was ready.

"Where are we going, comrade?" he asked of his next neighbour in the
ranks, as they marched to the railway station.

"I do not know. They say there is to be war."

"War--against whom?"

"The Japanese."

"Japanese? Who are they? Are they savages or white like us?"

"I can't tell you, Ivan. We shall know when we see them."

"Why do we fight against them? Where do they live?"

But his comrade could only shrug his shoulders. He had not the least
idea of the answer to either question; nor had any man in the company,
only a half-dozen of whom could read or write.

"It is the Czar's command."

Silently they plodded on, the snow whirling about them as they marched.
Here and there a knot of people cheered them. This was pleasant. Ivan
felt that he was really a soldier. When a lump came into his throat at
the thought of the little hut in the lonely white waste far to the
north, he gulped it down and broke into a hoarse laugh which brought
down a reprimand from the nearest officer.

The troops were packed into a long transport train like cattle. When the
cars stopped or started suddenly they fell against each other. Some
swore and even struck out, but most were as mild and phlegmatic as the
cows and sheep whose places they had taken. Ivan was of this sort.

"Never mind," he said to a man who trod upon his foot; "it is nothing.
My foot is iron"; and when he was thrown against a neighbour: "Ah, what
a blockhead I am! Will you not hit me, to pay the score?"

Most of the soldiers said nothing. As verst after verst of desolate
snowy landscape was left behind they stood or squatted in the cars,
silent, uncomplaining. Why should they find fault with cold and hunger
and fatigue? It was the Czar's command. The Little Father in his palace
was caring for them. It was theirs not to complain, but to obey.

There were many delays on the ill-constructed, overcrowded Siberian
Railway, the black cord that stretched across a continent to Port Arthur
and Vladivostok, seven thousand miles away. But whether it was seventy
miles or seven thousand the rank and file of the army hardly knew or
cared. Cold, hungry, stiff from constrained position, they bore all
privations with calmness and even a sort of jovial good-humour. At night
every soldier fumbled under his furs and heavy winter coat for his ikon,
and his bearded lips murmured the sacred Name.

At length the rugged shores of Lake Baikal were reached, in Farther
Siberia. Here there was another halt, for the railway itself came to an
end, and the troops were ordered out of the train at early dawn.

"How can we go on?" asked Ivan stupidly. Before him a white plain
stretched away to the horizon line. To the right were mountains; to the
left, mountains. The ice-bound surface of the lake was swept by a bitter
gale, which heaped up huge drifts and flung them away again, like a
child at play. Behind the regiment of fur-capped soldiers, huddled on
the frozen shore, was home; before them, what seemed an Arctic sea. The
snow fell heavily, and drifted around their feet. "How can we go on?"
asked Ivan; and a subaltern, breathing through his icy moustache,
replied: "I do not know, private, but we must advance. It is the Czar's
command."

When Russia, determined to establish a port on the open sea, though it
were thousands of miles from her capital, built the great Trans-Siberian
Railway, she progressed rapidly with her fragile, light-rail,
single-track road until she came to Lake Baikal. Here Nature had placed
what might well be deemed an impossible obstruction: a huge inland lake
four hundred miles in length, eighteen hundred feet deep, bordered with
mountains, whose sheer granite cliffs rose from the water to a height of
fifteen hundred feet, and in their turn were overshadowed by snow-capped
peaks. The lake at this point is forty miles wide. No bridge could span
its storm-swept surface, no tunnel could be driven beneath its sombre
depths. How was the obstacle to be surmounted? A weaker nation would
have given up the task, as the French tired of working at the Panama
Canal; Russia, ponderous, tireless, determined, almost irresistible,
moved on. In the science of Physics, the momentum of a moving body is
thus analysed and expressed: M = _m_ × _v_. In other words, it equals
the mass of the body multiplied by its velocity. If either factor be
increased, the momentum becomes correspondingly greater. When Russia
moves, the velocity is slight, but the mass is enormous. When the
soldier, in the time-worn anecdote, tried to stop with his foot the
slowly rolling spent cannon-ball, it snapped his leg like a pipe-stem.
The nation that opposes Russia must itself be of iron mould, or it will
snap. Lake Baikal was a trifle, a mere incident to the civil engineers
who laid out the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In the summer-time huge steam ferry-boats plied from shore to shore,
transferring passengers and freight from the western to the eastern or
Trans-Baikal section. From November to April the lake is frozen over,
but during at least half of that time enormous ice-breakers, like the
heaviest ocean-going tug-boats, crashed through the ice and kept open a
canal from side to side.

These were temporary expedients. The engineers meanwhile had not been
idle. They attacked the cliffs bordering the southern end of the lake,
and began cutting a path through the solid rock for advancing Russia.
Twenty-seven tunnels were to be bored, and have since been completed.
While Ivan waited by the shore a dull boom came now and then to his ear,
from the blasting. It was the relentless, unfaltering tread of Russia's
iron heel.

But other means had to be provided, in that terrible winter of 1903, for
the passage of troops and supplies, for although the great mass of
soldiers did not understand, their leaders and the counsellors of state
in St. Petersburg knew there was urgent need. A railroad was begun upon
the ice itself, and before March was in actual operation. A thousand
feet of water gloomed beneath the thin ice bridge. Once or twice there
was an accident--a locomotive went through, or a few cars, and,
incidentally, a few human beings. This was nothing. "Forward, my men! It
is the Czar's command!"

The ice railway not yet being complete, there was but one way to cross
Lake Baikal--by horse-power or on foot. High officials and favoured
travellers secured sledges; the main body of infantry, including Ivan's
regiment, having hastily swallowed a breakfast of army rations, set out
on the march across the forty miles of ice plain, at "fatigue step." The
bands were forbidden to play, lest the rhythmic tread of the soldiers,
instinctively keeping time to the music, should bring too great and
concentrated strain upon the ice.

Before they were half a league from shore the wind pounced upon its new
playthings; it blew upon their sides, their backs, and their faces. It
pelted them with ice-drops, with whirling masses of snow. They leaned
forward and plodded on, unmurmuring. It roared like a cataract, and
howled like wolf-packs; the air was so filled with drift that each man
simply followed his file-leader, with no idea of the direction of the
march, the van being guided by telegraph-poles set in the ice at short
intervals of space. Hands and feet became numb; beards were fringed with
icicles; the men in the disordered ranks slipped and stumbled against
one another. With the mercury 23° below zero, and a northerly gale,
hurled down the entire four hundred miles of unbroken expanse of the
lake, the cold was frightful.

Ivan turned his head stiffly to mumble something to his neighbour in the
ranks. He was no longer there. The subaltern who had answered him on the
shore was also missing. Like scores of others he had wandered off the
line of march, to fall and die unseen.

Ivan bent his head to a fierce blast, muttering "Courage, comrades!" No
one replied to him as he staggered uncertainly onward. "Courage,
comrades!" shouted Ivan again. His voice was lost in the ceaseless roar
of the gale. Ivan peered out from under the mask of ice which had formed
across his eyes, from his shaggy brows to his moustache. No one was near
him. He was alone with the storm.

It seemed an easy thing to lie down in the snow and go to sleep. It
would be a joy merely to drop the heavy musket. Nobody knew where he
was; the lake would swallow him up, and who would be the wiser? Ivan
halted a moment, pondering in his dull way. Suddenly he remembered. That
would be disobedience of orders. His officer had said, "It is the Czar's
command!" What madness, to think of disobeying the Little Father at St.
Petersburg! The peasant-soldier gripped his breast, where the ikon lay,
and, taking his course as well as he could from the direction of the
wind, staggered on.

Whether it was five minutes or an hour he could not tell; but now he saw
dim figures around him, plodding silently onward. Whether they were
comrades of his own regiment he neither knew nor cared. He was once
more, after that moment of individuality, a part of the Russian army,
and moved mechanically forward with it.

The men huddled together like sheep, as they marched. When one of their
number staggered aside and disappeared they closed the gap; when one
fell, they stepped stiffly over him.

"Halt!"

Each man stopped by stumbling abruptly against the one before him. They
asked no questions. They remained standing, as they had moved, by sheer
inertia, letting the butts of their muskets rest on the ice.

The column had halted by a rest-house, marking half-way across the lake.
A few officials of highest rank, a newspaper man or two, half a dozen
merchant travellers with special passes, refreshed themselves with soup
and steaming tea. A steady stream of open sleighs passed slowly by the
silent, immovable column. The troops were fed where they stood, without
shelter from the fierce blast and whirling snow.

Soon the order came down the line, "Forward!"

Once more the fearful march across the ice was resumed. At long
intervals there were more halts, when tea was served; but the cold
increased. The men now began to suffer less. Some of them hoarsely
roared out a snatch of song; these soon dropped or wandered away. When
the winter storm of Siberia first assaults it is brutal in its blows,
its piercing thrusts, its agonising rack-torment of cold. Gradually it
becomes less rude and more dangerous. Its wild shriek of rage becomes a
crooning cradle-song; it strokes away the anguish from the knotted
joints of hand and foot and limb. It no longer repels, it invites.

When the long column of staggering, ice-covered forms reached the
eastern shore of the lake its numbers had lessened by five hundred, who
would never face the unknown enemies of the Far East. Ivan was among the
survivors. His huge frame, his iron constitution, his allegiance to the
Czar, had carried him through.

He found his company half a verst ahead, and as night fell he joined a
group of grim figures around a blazing camp-fire. Tea was made and
served out, with regular army rations. The men's drawn faces relaxed.
They warmed their half-frozen limbs. Rough jokes passed. The terrors of
the lake-crossing were forgotten. "On to Harbin!" they roared out in
chorus, as their colonel passed. "Long live the Czar!"



CHAPTER X.

THE FIRST BLOW.


On the evening of February 8th a fleet of dark-hulled ships moved
silently westward across the Yellow Sea. In the harbour of Port Arthur
lay the pride of the Russian navy, most of the ships riding peacefully
at anchor in the outer roads. They comprised the battle-ships
_Petropavlovsk_ (flagship), _Perseviet_, _Czarevitch_, _Retvizan_, and
_Sebastopol_, and the cruisers _Novik_, _Boyarin_, _Bayan_, _Diana_,
_Pallada_, _Askold_, and _Aurora_. Of the officers, many were on shore,
enjoying the hospitalities of the port and drinking the health of the
Czar. The crews were below decks, or smoking idly and talking, in the
low gutturals of their language, of home and friends far away. Secure in
their sense of their mighty domain and the power that reached from the
Baltic to the Pacific, they sang snatches of rude forecastle songs, or
joked and laughed at the prospects of a war with the Japanese, "those
little monkeys," who dared dispute even in mild diplomacy with the Great
Empire. And as they laughed, and the smoke curled upward from their
bearded lips, and the little waves of the peaceful harbour lapped softly
against the huge floating forts, the black hulls from the east crept
nearer, through the darkness.

Nine years had elapsed since the Japanese had invaded Korea and
Manchuria. In 1895, victor over the Chinese, firmly established with his
troops on the main land, with his fleet riding in the harbour of Port
Arthur, which his army had taken by storm, the Mikado had been compelled
by the powerful combination of Russia, France, and Germany to give up
the material fruits of his victory, and Japan, too exhausted to fight
for her rights, withdrew sullenly to her island Empire.

Three years later Russia obtained from China a twenty-five years' lease
of Port Arthur, which she claimed she needed "for the due protection of
her navy in the waters of North China." Her next move was to secure
right to build the Manchurian Railway, connecting her two Pacific ports,
Vladivostock and Port Arthur, with her western capital. She had at last
reached the open sea. Vladivostock, at the south-eastern extremity of
her own possessions in the north, was blocked by ice and shut off from
the ocean every winter; Port Arthur offered a safe and open roadstead
for her navy and mercantile marine throughout the year.

During the years that followed Russia strained every nerve to establish
her customs, her power, and her people in Manchuria. Japan saw the
danger to herself, but was powerless to prevent it. Recruiting from the
expenditures of the Chinese war, she prepared for the greater struggle
that was inevitable. She built up one of the most formidable navies the
world had seen; she trained her officers and crews by the most modern
methods; she reorganised her army and laboured to perfect it as a
fighting machine. By wise laws and enlightened counsels she fostered her
resources until her treasury was plethoric with gold. At last, early in
1903, she calmly reminded Russia that the stipulated term of her
occupation of Manchuria, save at Port Arthur, had expired; that her
excuse for remaining there no longer existed; that her pledges of
removal must be kept.

Russia winced under the word "must"; the keyword of her own domestic
polity, when applied by the nobles to the masses, it now had a strange
and unwelcome sound. She redoubled her efforts to pour troops into the
province, provisioned and fortified Port Arthur for a year's siege,
established a "railroad guard" of sixty thousand men,--and blandly
promised to retire in the following October.

Japan was no less alert. One by one the divisions of her great army were
mobilised. They were drilled unceasingly, by competent officers from
Western schools. They invented new and terrible explosives and engines
of war, and prepared their battle-ships and torpedo-boats for active
service. October passed, and the forces of Russia in Manchuria had been
largely augmented instead of diminished. More diplomatic messages,
couched in courteous terms, passed between the two capitals, and greater
numbers of armed men flocked to the eastern and western shores of the
Japan Sea.

Again and again St. Petersburg gained a modicum of time through silence
or evasive answer; while the rails of the long railroad groaned under
the heavy trains that day and night bore troops, supplies, and
ammunition eastward. At last the limit was reached. On the 6th of
February, at 4 P.M., Kurino, the Japanese minister at St. Petersburg,
presented himself at the Foreign Office at that city and informed Count
Lamsdorff that his government, in view of the delays in connexion with
the Russian answer to Japan's latest demand, and the futility of the
negotiations up to that time, considered it useless to continue
diplomatic relations and "_would take such steps as it deemed proper_
for the protection of Japan's interests." In obedience to instructions,
therefore, he asked, most gently and politely (after the fashion of his
countrymen), for his passports.

On one of the Japanese torpedo-boats silently approaching Port Arthur,
just forty-eight hours after M. Kurino had made his farewell bow at the
court of the Czar, was Oto Owari. No one who had seen him on the
_Osprey_, meekly serving his commander with sliced cucumbers and broiled
chicken, would have recognised the trim, alert little figure in the blue
uniform, his visor drawn low over his sparkling eyes, his whole bearing
erect, manly and marked with intense resolve as he conned his vessel
through the channel toward the doomed fleet of the enemy.

When the American ship arrived at Shanghai, Oto had at once procured his
own discharge and that of Oshima, which was an informal matter, they not
being enlisted men but merely cabin servants. Rexdale was glad to let
them go. The little Japs were too mysterious and secretive personages to
render their presence welcome on a war-ship where the commander should
know all that is going on, above-board and below. Dave more than half
suspected that his stewards were of more importance in their own country
than their menial office would indicate; and while he could not exactly
regard them in the light of spies--Japan being friendly to the United
States--he felt more comfortable when they had taken their little grips
and marched ashore to mingle with the heterogeneous population of the
Chinese port.

[Illustration: PICKED UP BY THE SEARCHLIGHT.]

The torpedo-boats increased their speed as they neared the outer basin
of the harbour of Port Arthur. Oto steered his small black craft
directly toward a huge battle-ship with three smoke-stacks.

"It is the _Retvizan_," he whispered to the officer next in command. "I
know where to strike her. Wait for the order."

The Russian ships had their nets out. They believed the Japanese fleet
two hundred miles away.

"Now!" hissed Oto sharply; and in a moment a long, black, cigar-shaped
missile leaped from the bows of his ship toward the Russian leviathan.
It dashed, foaming, through the water, sheared its way through the steel
meshes of the torpedo net, and struck the hull of the doomed _Retvizan_
exactly where Oto had planned his attack. There was a dull roar, echoed
by another and another a short distance away. Wild cries and shrieks of
anguish rose from the Russian fleet. Two mighty battle-ships, the
_Retvizan_ and the _Czarevitch_, slowly heeled over, mortally wounded.
The cruiser _Pallada_ began to settle. She, too, was pierced below the
water-line. Thus the Japanese declared war.

The harbour now seemed full of torpedo-boats. Flash-lights from the
forts on the Golden Horn and the Tiger's Tail disclosed the swarm of
invaders. The hills resounded with the sudden roar of artillery, and
every machine-gun in the Russian fleet that could be trained on the
audacious enemy poured its hail of steel shot upon them. Outside the
harbour, within easy range, lay the heavier vessels of the Japanese,
which opened fire on the forts and the town from their great
turret-guns. In the midst of the uproar and confusion the torpedo-boats
which had inflicted such terrible damage retired to the shelter of the
outer battle-ships and cruisers, unhurt. The _Retvizan_ limped over to
the entrance of the harbour and rested on the rocks. The _Czarevitch_
was towed out of further danger. The storm of Japanese shot and shell
diminished and at length ceased altogether, as the attacking fleet
withdrew. The assault had occupied less than an hour; at one o'clock all
was silent again, save where the wounded were being cared for, on the
ill-fated _Retvizan_ and her sister ships, and the crews of every vessel
in the harbour talked hoarsely as they stood to their guns, with decks
cleared for further action. The first sea-battle--if such it can be
called--of the twentieth century was over. Japan had struck, and struck
fiercely. Russia was stunned by the blow. Although she did not then
realise it, her sea-power in the Pacific was at an end, for years to
come.

"_Sayonara, Retvizan!_" said Commander Oto Owari grimly, as he headed
his ship for the open sea.

The midnight attack was but the first outburst of the storm. Before
noon the Mikado's fleet returned, as the United States ships came back
at the battle of Manila, and once more the huge twelve-inch rifles
thundered and the shore forts replied. The still uninjured vessels of
the Russians came bravely out to meet the foe, but reeled under the
terrible fire that was concentrated upon them. For an hour the bolts
fell thick and fast. Then the Japanese drew back, and the Russians,
dazed, bewildered, thunderstruck at the swiftness and might of the
assault, again counted their losses.

"By order of Viceroy Alexieff," reported the commanding officer to St.
Petersburg, "I beg to report that at about eleven o'clock in the morning
a Japanese squadron, consisting of about fifteen battle-ships and
cruisers, approached Port Arthur and opened fire....

" ... At about midday the Japanese squadron ceased its fire and left,
proceeding south.

"Our losses are two naval officers and fifty-one men killed.... During
the engagement the battle-ship _Poltava_ and the cruisers _Diana_,
_Askold_, and _Novik_ were damaged on the water-line."

Three battle-ships and four cruisers put out of action in a single day!
But more was to follow.

In the harbour of Chemulpo, across the neck of the Yellow Sea, lay the
Russian cruisers _Variag_ and _Korietz_, in company with several
war-ships of other nations, including the U. S. gunboat _Vicksburg_. On
the evening before the assault on Port Arthur the commanders of these
two cruisers were notified by the Rear-Admiral Uriu, commanding a
Japanese squadron, which lay just outside, that on the following day
they would be attacked at their moorings if they did not quit the port
by noon. Other foreign ships in the harbour were warned to withdraw from
the line of fire.

Early the next morning the _Variag_ and _Korietz_ cleared for action,
and, with their bands playing the Russian national anthem, slipped their
cables and moved slowly out of the harbour to sure destruction, amid the
cheers of the crews of other nations, who appreciated their splendid
bravery and the devotion of the men to the Czar, at whose command they
were ready for death in its most terrible form.

At a range of nearly four miles the battle began. The Japanese squadron
opened fire upon the advancing Russians, who replied as promptly as if
they were the forefront of a fleet of a dozen battle-ships, instead of a
cruiser and gunboat as absolutely helpless as two spaniels encountering
a pack of wolves.

Five shells struck the _Variag_ in rapid succession, while shrapnel
swept the crews repeatedly from her guns. A single shell killed or
disabled all save one of the gunners on her forecastle; another struck
one of her six-inch rifles (the largest in her armament), and exploded
part of her ammunition; still another demolished her fore-bridge and set
fire to the _débris_, so that the crew had to cease firing and rush to
fire stations. Two shells now penetrated at the water-line. The second
bridge was wrecked and a funnel shattered. All this time the _Korietz_
was firing wildly and doing little damage to the Japanese, who paid but
slight attention to her.

The _Variag_, to save the lives of her remaining crew, turned slowly
toward the shore, and, accompanied by the gunboat, regained her
anchorage, listing heavily and evidently sinking fast. Surgeons and
ambulances were instantly despatched to the doomed ship by every
war-ship in the harbour, including the _Vicksburg_. It was maliciously
reported that the latter did not assist in this Samaritan work, but the
slander was refuted and absolutely disproved. Commander Marshall, of the
_Vicksburg_, was one of the very first to send boats to rescue the
sailors, and medical aid to succour the wounded.

At four o'clock the _Korietz_ was blown up by her commander. There were
two sharp explosions, forward and aft. A mass of flame arose, and a
column of black smoke rolled upward. As the noise of the explosion died
away the Russians on the other ships could be heard across the bay
singing the national anthem.

The _Variag's_ sea-cocks were now opened, and the ship gradually
filled. At five, a succession of small, sharp explosions were heard. The
Russian captain, fearing that the Japanese would arrive, begged the
commander of a British war-ship to fire at her water-line, but he
refused.

The list to port became more and more marked, and flames burst out from
the sides and stern of the beautiful ship which, like the _Retvizan_,
had been the pride of the builders in Cramp's Philadelphia shipyard a
few years before.

The ship's guns remained fast to the end, but there was a tremendous
clatter and roar of gear falling to leeward. At last, with a slow and
majestic plunge, the _Variag_ sank, all her tubes charged with
torpedoes, and her great rifled guns pointing upward. Soon afterward the
mail-boat _Sungari_ was fired, and the flames sent their red glow over
the harbour of Chemulpo until it and all the ships seemed embayed in a
sea of blood, while the wounded and dying men moaned below decks. So
ended the first terrible day of the war, and night fell, as softly, as
gently, as on the hills of Palestine long ago when the holy Babe lay in
the manger and the angels sang "Peace on earth--good will to men!"



CHAPTER XI.

IN THE MIKADO'S CAPITAL.


On the evening after the event narrated in the last chapter a group of
foreigners sat on the pleasant verandah of one of the largest hotels in
Tokio. They were easily distinguishable from the natives that thronged
the street and square, not only by the Occidental costumes--of the
latest and most fashionable styles--which adorned the ladies, but by the
bright and animated faces with which they looked out on the strange
scene before them, and discussed the astounding news which had just been
displayed, "in real tea-chest letters," Edith said, on the newspaper
bulletins.

Edith and Ethelwyn Black had been invited by their father's old friends
Colonel and Mrs. Selborne to join them in a trip around the world. The
two young girls were delighted with the prospect, and with some
reluctance Major Black consented to the plan. His wife had died five
years before, and a widowed sister kept house for him; so, although the
separation bore hardly upon the jolly major--from whom Wynnie must have
inherited her unfailing flow of spirits--there really was no good excuse
for letting the girls miss such an opportunity to enlarge their horizon,
mental and physical. The party left New York in December, spent
Christmas in San Francisco, and late in January landed in Yokohama.
After a brief tour inland they went to Tokio, arriving just before the
assault of the Japanese on the ships in the harbour of Port Arthur.

On this special evening Tokio was a blaze of light. Not only were
lanterns strung over every shop door and the porches of private houses,
but in groups of twos and threes the golden and crimson globes veered
wildly through the streets, borne by children as well as by their
jubilant elders. Newspaper boys ran to and fro with extras, their little
bells jingling and their shrill cries sounding above the roar of the
crowds. The naval cadets of Japan in their neat uniforms massed in a
solid column, and their cheer rang out, loud and clear: "_Banzai! Dai
Nippon banzai! Banzai, banzai, banzai!_"

Edith clasped her hands as she listened. "It's like a Harvard cheer,"
she exclaimed; "only it's more real!"

"Yes," said the Colonel, blowing out a whiff of smoke. "It's life and
death, instead of a mere football victory. I wish I could get the latest
news----"

Just then a slight, alert figure came up the steps of the hotel. The
young man glanced quickly right and left as he reached the verandah.

"Ah, Miss Black and Miss Ethelwyn," he said, coming forward with
outstretched hand, "I'm not sure that you remember me, but that evening
on the _Osprey_----"

"Mr. Larkin!" exclaimed both girls, rising and cordially shaking his
hand. "How delightful to find you here! Colonel Selborne, Mr. Larkin, a
friend of Lieutenant-Commander Rexdale's."

"Is Mr. Larkin in the navy?" inquired Colonel Selborne, meeting the
young man's friendly greeting in his hearty way.

"Well, no, not exactly," said Larkin with a laugh, "although I am on
board the war-vessels pretty often, as war correspondent for the Boston
_Bulletin_. There are half a dozen of us here already, trying to get our
passes to go to the front, wherever that may be. Just now it's on the
fleet and at Chemulpo, where the Japs have landed a regiment."

"O Mr. Larkin!" exclaimed Edith. "You'll surely be shot, or something,
if you go right where the soldiers and battles are!"

"It will be 'something,' then, I guess," said the reporter with another
of his jolly laughs. "We fellows aren't often shot. The greatest trouble
we have, in a foreign war, is getting within reach of bullets at all.
These blessed Japs bow and smile and promise, from dawn to sunset, but
somehow there's always some hitch when it comes to actual permission to
start. If I don't get my pass soon," he added, lowering his voice, "I
shall get a move on, permission or no permission."

As he spoke, both girls nodded to a man who bowed low as he passed them
and entered the open door of the hotel. Larkin, following the direction
of their glances, stopped short. A puzzled expression came into his
face.

"Pardon me," he said quickly, "may I ask you the name of the gentleman
who bowed to you?"

"That? Oh, that's Señor Bellardo," replied Wynnie carelessly. "He's a
Spaniard, I believe, travelling for his health, but he speaks English
very nicely. Have you met him?"

"There's something familiar about his face," mused Fred, "but I can't
remember--a Spaniard, did you say, Miss Ethelwyn?"

"I think--yes, I know he is, for he alluded to his estates near
Barcelona. That's in Spain, isn't it?"

"It certainly is," assented the war correspondent, "but that
fellow--excuse me; that gentleman-looked more like a--well, I think the
air of Tokio, or the pleasure of finding old friends here, must have
gone to my head. So we'll let the Señor drop. You'll be surprised when I
tell you of another friend of yours who arrived here this very day!"

"Oh, who is it? Tell us!" exclaimed the girls.

"Perhaps you've forgotten him," said Fred, with a sly glance at Wynnie.
"I declare there he is, now! Hulloa, there! Ship ahoy!" he cried,
beckoning to a trim-looking lad who was passing on the other side of the
street.

"Why, it's Mr. Starr!" said Wynnie, with a gladness in her voice that
proved she had not forgotten her companion of the _Osprey_ banquet.

"Come up here, young man!" called out Larkin, rising from his seat. "I
would have brought you here to-morrow, anyway, but my good intentions
are frustrated by your untimely appearance."

By this time the midshipman, recognising the faces of the two girls, had
reached the verandah with a bound. He was presented to Colonel Selborne,
and then came such a rapid fire of questions and answers as might have
been expected.

Bob explained that he had been temporarily detached from the _Osprey_ to
carry important documents and messages from the commanding officer of
the battle-ship squadron (of which the gunboats formed one division) of
the Asiatic fleet to the United States naval _attaché_ at Tokio. He had
arrived that morning on the U. S. Ship _Zafiro_, which had immediately
steamed away again under orders to return for him at some future day to
be appointed. He had run across Fred Larkin on the wharf, that
enterprising gentleman being on the lookout for news from the fleet and
any scraps of information the _Zafiro_ might have picked up as to the
midnight assault on Port Arthur. Starr's official duties had occupied
his attention most of the day, and he was on his way to see the crowds
at the park when he was hailed from the hotel verandah.

"Well, this is homelike!" he exclaimed with great satisfaction, as he
settled back in his chair next Wynnie's.

"What is the latest war news?" inquired the Colonel.

"Oh, the Russians have got it in the--have sustained a severe defeat,"
said Bob, cutting short his Academy slang. "The Japs have blown up,
sunk, or disabled half a dozen of the finest ships in their fleet. This
afternoon Admiral Uriu finished off the _Variag_ and _Korietz_ just
outside Chemulpo. The naval _attaché_ got it direct from the commander
of the _Vicksburg_. I tell you, the old academy made itself felt when
those Russian ships steamed out of the harbour!"

"Made itself felt? Why, what academy, Mr. Starr?" asked Colonel
Selborne, who was himself a West Point man.

"Didn't you know, sir, that the Japanese Admiral Uriu was a graduate of
the Naval Academy at Annapolis?" cried Starr.

"Is it possible?"

"It's true, and what's more, he married a Vassar girl."

"To graduate from the Naval Academy and marry a Vassar girl--what more
could man desire?" laughed Edith.

"Echo answers 'What,'" agreed the midshipman enthusiastically. "That is,
unless--Miss Ethelwyn,--" But if he had intended to ask whether _she_
were a Vassar student, his courage failed him and he lamely inquired if
she "felt the draught."

Wynnie dimpled and then laughed outright, putting the young man to still
more confusion. Larkin struck in with one of his irrepressible puns
about a "Vassarlating maid," and the laughter became general.

"I married a farmer's daughter from Connecticut," said Colonel Selborne,
"and, as a result, see what a charming pair of adopted nieces I have!"

In the midst of the merriment that followed this sally, Señor Bellardo
passed out of the hotel door, raising his hat to the group and saying
"Good evening, ladies!" on his way to the street, in the shadows of
which he soon after disappeared.

Larkin started again and frowned. "Where have I heard that voice?" he
demanded. No one could enlighten him, and the gay badinage and laughter
of the young people was resumed, while the far-off clamours of the
crowds were renewed as fresh details of the victory appeared on the
illuminated bulletins. The "piazza party" at the Grand Hotel was
prolonged to a late hour, when Fred and the midshipman took their leave,
promising to call early the next forenoon in order to show the young
ladies some of the sights of Tokio.

When the correspondent reached his lodgings he cudgelled his brain to
recall the time and place in which he had met that stranger whose voice
affected him so unpleasantly. He gave it up at last, but his last waking
thought was a resolve to follow up the mystery and establish that
black-bearded Spaniard's identity before he left Tokio.

The next morning the two young men appeared promptly at the appointed
hour, together with three _jinrikishas_ (or "rickshaws," as foreigners
call them) of the most gorgeous description. It being Saturday the
Mikado's private pleasure-grounds, the Fukiagé Gardens, were thrown open
to the public, and here the American party wandered for an hour,
observing and discussing the broad, smoothly cropped lawns, the cascade,
the masses of dark evergreen trees--unfortunately the plum was not yet
in blossom--and, most interesting of all, the careless, bare-headed,
quaintly dressed, good-natured people who thronged the grounds. Of the
six thousand policemen in Tokio not one was visible in the Garden, yet
everybody was well-behaved and courteous.

In the afternoon Larkin took his daily tramp to the War Office. The
sentry outside allowed him to pass with what Fred could not help
interpreting as a sardonic gleam in his dark eye. The man had admitted
many newspaper men, during January and February, and had seen them
depart, bearing gloomy and disappointed faces and using strong language
which fortunately he could not understand. Any boy or man who has ever
drilled will remember the wearying performance called "marking time,"
when the soldier goes through all the motions of marching, tramp, tramp,
tramp, but never gets ahead one inch. A noted American war correspondent
contributed to his journal at this period a series of papers called
"Marking Time in Tokio." No term could be more expressive.

Larkin found half a dozen of his brothers-of-the-craft in the War
Office. There were besides, in the large, bare room, two uniformed
orderlies and two or three grave, elderly, courteous generals, each
apparently doing nothing by himself, and although politely interested in
the welfare of the foreign visitors, unable to spare time to discuss the
war with them.

"Perhaps," said one of these officials to Fred, "a column will leave
soon for Korea. It would give me exalted pleasure to allow you to
accompany them. No, I cannot tell when or where. Must you go? Good-day!"

The days passed quickly. Larkin did his best to pick up scraps of
information and cable, or write them out, for the _Bulletin_. His
leisure moments he spent with the Blacks and Bob Starr, who was their
unfailing escort in all excursions. Once they came upon Bellardo in full
daylight, and Fred studied his face, but had to confess himself baffled.
A rather dark complexion, full black beard, and an odd mispronunciation
of English--these peculiarities he noted; in the two-minute interview
with the young ladies he could make out nothing more, nor did he even
secure an introduction, Bellardo excusing himself, on the plea of an
engagement, and moving away just as Fred joined the group.

The correspondents of the great American, English, French, and German
dailies became more and more impatient. Some of them gave up, or were
recalled, and went home. The certainty that Japanese troops were being
taken across in transports made the situation the more aggravating. News
of various sea-fights, and skirmishes on land, was posted by the
newspapers. It was evident that the war was proceeding, just as if there
were no war correspondents waiting to report it--at least, on the
Japanese side. The city reporters in New York were better informed as to
the movements of the two great armies than these scouts so near the
firing line, yet so far away. Before long there appeared ship-loads of
wounded men, sent back from the front to the hospitals in Nagasaki and
Tokio.

Information was given out that the Russians were concentrating in the
lower Yalu valley, and that here the first great battle might take
place. It was necessary for Japan to strike across the Korean peninsula
and isolate Port Arthur, cutting the railroad above it if possible.

"Larkin," said Starr, meeting the reporter in the street one day early
in March, "I've received word that the _Zafiro_ will be at this port
to-morrow, and I am ordered back to the _Osprey_. I hate to say good-bye
to you, old fellow!"

"And I hate to have you," said Fred. "Perhaps you won't have to," he
added meaningly.

"Oh, yes, of course I must obey orders. I'm on my way now to make my
farewell call at the hotel. This evening I'll run in to see you at your
lodgings on my way home."

But when Bob called, Larkin was not in his lodgings, nor, strange to
say, was there any trace left of his ever having occupied the room. No
one knew where he had gone. He had paid his bill in full and left the
house early in the evening, taking the small bag which constituted all
his luggage.

With a heavy heart--for various reasons--Bob went on board the _Zafiro_
the next morning, and the little despatch-boat put out to sea.



CHAPTER XII.

BETWEEN TWO FIRES.


"I say, Farmer, can't we have a little target-practice and hit something
accidentally--even that Chinese junk over there would do--so as to stir
up some sort of a scrap?"

Lieutenant Staples, addressing his commander familiarly by the old
Academy nickname, yawned and stretched his arms in most undignified
fashion as he spoke. The two officers were on the bridge of the
_Osprey_, which lay at anchor off Chefoo. A gentle breeze barely stirred
the placid waters of the bay, and the sun gave a hint of the torrid days
that were to come.

"I'm tired of sitting here, like a toad in a puddle, aren't you?" added
the tall lieutenant, straightening himself up a little as a boatswain's
mate crossed the open deck below him.

"There is a kind of a sameness about it," laughed Rexdale, adjusting a
pair of field-glasses. "What sort of a craft is that yonder, Tel?"

"H'm--something under steam, anyway. Can you make her out through the
glass?"

"Unless I'm mistaken, it's the _Zafiro_," said the commander, working
the glasses for a focus. "Yes, it's the despatch-boat, bringing Starr
back from Tokio, no doubt."

Ten minutes later Bob scrambled up over the rail, followed by a young
man in civilian's clothes.

"Fred Larkin!" exclaimed Dave. "How on earth did he get on board the
_Zafiro_?"

As soon as Midshipman Bob had reported himself, the war correspondent
stepped up with a genial smile and shook hands warmly with the officers
on the bridge.

"Fact is, I'm a stowaway, Dave," said he. "That gay young lieutenant on
the gunboat would have put me in irons if it hadn't been for Bob Starr.
He's a good fellow and stood by me, when I disclosed myself on the
_Zafiro_ about twenty miles out."

"Well, what am I to do with you--that's the question?" said Rexdale,
laughing in spite of himself at the reporter's nonchalance. "Strictly
speaking----"

"Strictly speaking, I've no business on one of Uncle Sam's war-ships
without a permit from the Secretary of the Navy, or the admiral of the
fleet, at least," said Larkin, with utmost good-humour. "Therefore, we
won't speak strictly, until I've had time to look about a little, being
under arrest, theoretically."

"I can't very well drop you overboard, old fellow," assented Rexdale,
"there being a shark or two around who would gobble up even a newspaper
man. But really----"

"Really, I'll leave you before night, old man," interrupted Fred, "so
don't worry. Now you and Lieutenant Staples just sit down and tell a
fellow what's the news from home--and hereabouts."

"But how did you manage to get on board the _Zafiro_?" queried Dave.

"Ah, don't ask me, and then you won't know. The movements of some of the
heavenly bodies--comets, for instance, and reporters--can only be
calculated from their periodic appearances, my son. Didn't you learn
that at the Academy?" asked Fred, as the party of officers betook
themselves to the after cabin. "Let it suffice your
lieutenant-commandership that I really did go on board, and at the
proper dramatic moment materialized before the astonished crew. I had a
little more sail than I bargained for, not knowing that Mr. Starr had to
report to the admiral before coming here."

"Then Bob didn't know----"

"Hadn't the ghost of an idea about it, upon my word of honour," said
Larkin hastily. "There wasn't a more thunderstruck man on the ship than
he, when I stepped on deck. I wish you could have seen his face!"

They talked of Boston friends and of the progress of the war,
concerning which Rexdale could afford his friend but little
enlightenment. "All sorts of reports are afloat," said he. "I see in the
home papers--by the way, there's a bunch of them at your disposal--that
Chefoo is called a 'fake-factory, working over-time.'"

"Not bad," said Larkin. "But so-called fakes often prove to be facts,
after all. Has any attack yet been made upon Vladivostock?"

"Apparently not. They say the whole sea-front, up there, is a network of
submarine mines. Jap torpedo-boats and destroyers are patrolling the sea
in every direction, and have picked up one or two vessels with
contraband goods. I believe there was a bombardment of the port early in
the month, but it amounted to nothing."

"And on land?"

"Well, the Russians are said to have about four hundred thousand men in
Manchuria, and they are arriving by the railroad at the rate of a
regiment a day. The Japs probably have at least half that number on the
mainland. They are swarming across the Korean Peninsula and will have
Port Arthur isolated before long."

"If that is so," mused Fred, "I must move quickly."

"Move--where?"

"I'm going into Port Arthur, my boy."

"Port Arthur! You'll never get there alive--don't try it, Larkin!"
exclaimed Staples earnestly. "There's a close blockade, and you'll
either be sunk in the bay or at the very best be taken prisoner if you
reach the shore."

"It's just that 'very best' that I'm reckoning upon," rejoined the
reporter coolly. "I wanted to see you fellows before I went in, so you
can allude to my whereabouts if I don't show up in a week or two. I'm an
American citizen, Dave, and don't you forget it. You may be sure I won't
let Russian or Jap, whichever one captures me, forget that little fact.
There's no danger of my being hung as a spy, for I have my passport and
credentials, and the worst they can do, when they've made their
investigation, is to fire me out. All this is supposing I actually reach
one 'firing-line' or the other. I've sat round in Tokio and looked at
lanterns and spidery letters until I'm tired of it. The _Bulletin_ sent
me out here to get news, and I'm not going to disappoint the old man."

The day passed pleasantly enough, with stories, talk of old times and
discussions of war incidents. The routine duties of naval life filled
the intervals in the conversation. Late in the afternoon the officers
missed their jolly companion, and enquired for him, but no one knew
where he was. As evening came on they realised that the daring young
reporter had kept his word and left them, it was impossible to ascertain
when or by what means.

"I hope he won't get into serious trouble," said the commander
anxiously.

"Oh, Larkin can take care of himself," replied Liddon, who had joined in
the useless search. "He has been through one war, besides innumerable
scrapes in which he came out on top. That's why the _Bulletin_ chose him
for this service."

"Evening colours!" sang one bugle after another, on the war-ships; and
all hands stood with bared heads while the flags fluttered down from
staff and peak.

Shortly afterward a dull boom sounded across the waters of the bay. But
little attention was paid to it by the men on the _Osprey_, such
disturbances being of daily occurrence. That shot, however, meant much
to Fred Larkin.

About half an hour before he was missed, that afternoon, he had slipped
over the ship's side into a Chinese sampan, or small fishing-boat, which
had come alongside to dispose of its fare of fish. Fred tossed a coin to
the Chinaman who was seated in the stern and pulled a broad piece of
matting over himself in the bottom of the boat. All this was done in
less time than it takes to tell it. If any of the _Osprey's_ jackies saw
it, he said nothing. The sympathy of a sailor always goes with a
runaway, whatever the reason for the escape may be.

The owner of the sampan, understanding from a gesture of his unexpected
passenger that the latter wished to reach the shore without detection,
immediately cast off his painter and worked his small craft skilfully
and swiftly toward the docks of Chefoo. As soon as the _Osprey_ was
hidden by another hull--that of a British man-of-war--Larkin threw off
the matting gladly enough and sat up. Presently he caught sight of a
large junk, just hoisting its sails. It was heavily loaded, though the
character of its freight could not be ascertained.

Fred pointed to the junk, and the oarsman turned his boat toward it. A
moment later he was alongside.

"Where are you bound?" he called out to the skipper.

Fortunately the latter could understand English.

"Port Arthur," he replied, but not loudly.

Fred held up a coin. The man nodded, and the correspondent jumped on
board, taking in his hand the small leathern gripsack he had brought
from home.

The junk proved to be coal-laden, and the captain (and owner), having
made sure that no Japanese vessels were in sight, was about to make a
dash for Port Arthur, where he knew he would obtain high rates for his
cargo.

It soon appeared that he had underrated the watchfulness of the
blockaders, for within less than an hour from leaving port the men on
the junk perceived a torpedo-boat destroyer bearing down on them. The
skipper calculated his chances of safe return, and decided to "keep all
on" for Port Arthur. In twenty minutes the black hull of the pursuer
could be plainly made out, and soon after the sound of a gun was heard.
The Chinamen working the junk got as far down out of danger as possible,
in their clumsy craft, and Fred followed suit. He had no desire to be
killed or maimed, nor did he wish to be captured and sent back to Tokio.

He was beginning to despair of the successful issue of his adventure,
when a shout from the sailors called his attention to an object dead
ahead. It was a column of dense black smoke arising from the sea in the
direction of Port Arthur.

A cheer rang out from the Chinamen, as they perceived the smoke. There
could be no doubt that it arose from a Russian war-ship, coming out
under full head of steam to meet the destroyer.

Again the Japanese gun spoke, and this time the shot struck the water
within a few feet of the junk.

"They've got our range," said Fred to himself grimly. "Trust the Japs
for scientific work, when it comes to firing! I might as well improve
the time, though!" And drawing his note-book from his pocket he began to
take notes.

The junk kept on its course, foaming through the water under pressure
of her great sail until the lee rail almost went under. Clouds had
arisen in the west and it was nearly dark. A search-light on the
mainland flared out suddenly, and a broad ray wavered over the waves
until it picked up the Japanese boat, now within less than a mile of the
fleeing junk. A deep boom sounded ahead. The Russian had at last spoken,
and a big lump of steel swirled through the gloom, over the great
triangular sail. The Chinese craft was between two fires. The Japs
shrewdly kept her in line with themselves and the enemy, so that the
latter dared not fire low. The destroyer fired steadily and fiercely,
hulling the junk more than once. It was evident that a crisis was at
hand.

Crash! A solid six-pound shot struck the stern of the labouring _White
Dragon_, knocking her rudder to bits and killing the skipper, who had
remained bravely at the helm. The junk yawed wildly and fell off before
the wind. The sailors shrieked and ran to and fro, calling upon their
gods to help them.

Another shot, and the mast went by the board. But the Russian cruiser
was now close at hand and engaged the Japanese boat savagely.

Fred was watching the fight and looking for a chance to hail the
Russian, when a splinter struck him and he was knocked headlong into the
sea.



CHAPTER XIII.

WYNNIE MAKES A BLUNDER.


Edith and Wynnie found Tokio rather lonely after the two young men had
gone. It was the loveliest season of the Japan year; the trees were pink
with blossoms and every street and square carpeted with fallen petals.
Save in the government offices and at the railway stations there was
little outward sign of war. All over the empire almond-eyed girls and
women were working quietly for the soldiers, arranging bandages, picking
lint, preparing scrap-books for the hospitals; but this made no stir.
The rickshaw coolies pattered along the city streets and groups of
strangers clustered about the shop-windows as in the time of peace. Now
and then the tap of a drum was heard, and a column of dark-faced little
soldiers passed at quickstep, their faces set with stern resolve, the
sunrise flag floating before them. For a moment the crowds turned to
look, then returned to their money-making or sight-seeing or shopping.

Señor Bellardo became more attentive to the Blacks on the very day when
the midshipman and correspondent sailed away in the _Zafiro_. He
attached himself naïvely to their party, even when they went to the War
Office to ask for the latest news.

Larkin and Bob Starr, in pursuance of their purpose of showing their
friends everything worth seeing in Tokio, had introduced the American
girls, as well as Colonel Selborne, to the high government officials,
who had welcomed the strangers with utmost courtesy.

About a week after the departure of the young men the Blacks called at
the War Office, Bellardo following meekly in their train. As it
happened, no one was in the room but the orderlies, who gave the party
to understand that their superiors had been called out, but would return
soon.

"Oh, we can't wait," said Edith impatiently.

"But it's our last visit, really a call of ceremony, girls," protested
their adopted uncle, as he called himself. "It will hardly be courteous
to leave without seeing one or both of these gentlemen who have been so
polite to us."

"I'll write a line and leave it for them," said Wynnie impulsively.
"We've lots to do, Uncle, and we can't waste time, you know, in our last
day in Tokio. They may not come back for hours."

She took the chair of one of the officials, looked about for pen and
ink, and began writing hurriedly on a blank sheet which lay on the top
of a pile of documents. The orderlies gazed in bewilderment at the
pretty vision of the girl in a picture hat, occupying the chair of their
venerated head of department.

Before Wynnie could finish her note, however, the owner of the chair
appeared, with profuse apologies for his delay. Wynnie crumpled up the
slip of paper upon which she was writing, and dropped it into the
waste-basket as she rose to pay her respects to the war official. The
rest of the party advanced and joined in the mutual farewells and
regrets. As they stood by the desk, Edith was surprised to see the
Spaniard stoop, take Wynnie's half-written note from the basket, and
bestow it in an inner pocket. "How sentimental!" she thought, rather
contemptuously. She started to speak to her sister about it, on the way
home, but something in the street took her attention, and she forgot all
about it.

The Blacks had expected to leave next morning for Yokohama, where they
were to go on board a steamer for Hawaii and San Francisco. In the
disturbed state of affairs on the Chinese coast, Colonel Selborne had
concluded not to risk inconvenience or danger, and to give up the rest
of the trip. Early in July the whole party would be at home once more.
But their plans were interrupted by an unforeseen and astounding
incident. It was no less than the detention of all four by the Japanese
Government.

They had hardly reached the hotel, on their return from the War Office,
when a dapper little gentleman stepped up to the Colonel and said a few
words in a low tone.

"What!" exclaimed the American. "Impossible. We start for home to-morrow
morning. Edith," he added, turning to his young guests, who were just
behind with Señor Bellardo, "this man says we are not to leave the hotel
till further notice. Special orders from the War Office!"

"Why, what can be the reason? What has happened?"

The Japanese officer shrugged his shoulders and murmured an apology. "A
document of great value has been lost," he said. "It is necessary to
detain every one who has visited the office during the afternoon. It is
mere form. Honourably do not be annoyed--a thousand regrets for your
inconvenience!"

Colonel Selborne understood Japanese methods well enough to know there
was a hand of iron under the velvet glove. He submitted with what grace
he could muster.

"Search our rooms," he said. "It is absurd to suppose----"

"Ah," interrupted the emissary from the War Office eagerly, "we suppose
nothing. It is mere form. To-night, to-morrow, next day, you will surely
be at liberty to depart. If you are put to extra expense by remaining
longer than you had planned the Government will repay all."

At the Colonel's urgent request the rooms were searched, and of course
nothing was found. The little man withdrew, walking backward and
apologising over and over; but he did not leave the hotel. He sent a
message to the Office and informed the Blacks that nothing further could
be done until the next day.

It was ten o'clock in the evening when the recollection of Wynnie's
half-written note flashed across Edith's mind. She almost flew to her
uncle's door and rapped. The good man had not retired; he was too much
annoyed and troubled to sleep.

"Uncle, Uncle, I've something important to tell you. It may be a clue!"
And she described Wynnie's act of throwing away the piece of paper and
its subsequent recovery by the Spaniard.

"I thought he just wanted a bit of Wyn.'s writing," she said, her lip
curling a little. "It may be there was something deeper in it."

"But the paper was perfectly blank; there was nothing on it but two or
three lines I had written when General Kafuro came in," said Wynnie, who
had joined them.

"Did you look on the other side of the sheet?" demanded Colonel
Selborne.

"Not once! And it may have been the very document they miss! Oh, what a
foolish, foolish girl I was! I saw the paper lying there on a heap of
other sheets, and supposed--oh, the General must have turned it over so
that no one would see it when he was called out, expecting to return in
a minute! That was it, I know it was--and it's all my fault!" Wynnie hid
her face on her uncle's shoulder.

"There, there, dear, it was a natural enough mistake, and you really
meant to do a kind and courteous thing in writing our regrets," said the
Colonel, patting the brown head.

"Do you know what the missing paper was, sir?" asked Edith.

"It was a sketch of a portion of the fortifications at Sasebo, with
specifications below--all in very fine handwriting and pale ink. I must
see the officials at once," added Colonel Selborne, looking for his hat.

"Why not hunt up Señor Bellardo first?" suggested Edith eagerly. "Now I
think of it, he must have left us just as you were first notified, and
he didn't come near us the whole evening."

"I noticed that," said Wynnie, "and was glad of it. I can't bear him,
and never could."

"Do you remember how Mr. Larkin looked at him?"

"Yes, and he said----"

"I can't stop, my dears," broke in the Colonel. "I'll enquire for the
Spaniard at once and find him if he is in the hotel. Do you know where
his lodgings are in Tokio?"

Neither of them knew. Singularly enough, the man had never mentioned his
lodging-place. He always dined at the hotel.

Colonel Selborne found the Japanese official on the verandah, and at
once took him into his confidence. They made enquiries and looked into
every public room in the hotel. Bellardo was not there.

"Leave the matter now with me," said the secret-service man quietly. "My
men are near, and I will continue the search. In the morning you shall
know the result, and I hope to be able to relieve you from further
surveillance."

Early the next morning the report was made by the chagrined but
ever-polite officer. The bird had flown. Señor Bellardo's lodgings were
known--as were those of every stranger in the city--to the police. They
were visited before midnight, and found empty. The police in every
seaport were notified by telephone and ordered to arrest a tall,
well-dressed man, claiming to be a Spaniard, with dark complexion and
black beard and moustache. His clothes were described, as well as a
certain shifty look in his eyes. His bearing was that of one who had
been trained in a military or naval school.

Colonel Selborne and his party made affidavits before the American
consul, telling everything they knew about the matter. As General Kafuro
remembered leaving the paper on the very pile from which Wynnie had
taken her sheet, there seemed to be no doubt that Edith's story
accounted for the theft. Other papers of value had been missed from time
to time since the war broke out, and it was believed at the Office that
the so-called Spaniard was a dangerous spy in the pay of the Russians.

General Kafuro congratulated Ethelwyn on having forced the man's hand,
and, at the request of the consul, declared the American party free to
leave Tokio whenever they wished.

Colonel Selborne lost no time in availing himself of the permission and,
with his wife and the two young ladies, sailed from Yokohama two days
later.

On the evening of the same day, when the _City of Pekin_ was heading
eastward with the Americans on board, a small sailboat put out from a
village on the west coast of the island. Besides the sailors it had one
passenger--a gentleman with smooth face, light complexion, and red hair.
The boatmen had agreed, for a large sum, to land him at the nearest
point in Korea, unless they should previously fall in with a Russian
war-ship. The latter contingency actually came to pass, as the boat was
driven northward by a southerly storm, and picked up by one of the
Vladivostock squadron, then cruising for prizes.

From Vladivostock, where he was safely landed on the following day, the
red-haired gentleman proceeded by rail to Harbin Junction, and then
southward to Port Arthur, now nearly cut off by Nogi's troops. Trains,
however, were still running regularly between the beleaguered port and
Moukden.

Strangely enough, the hair of the mysterious gentleman was now rapidly
turning dark. By the time he reached Port Arthur, it was quite black. A
stubbly beard and moustache, too, began to show themselves on his sallow
face. The man spoke Russian brokenly, and used English when he could.
Never a Spanish word came from his lips, and the Barcelona estates
proved veritable castles in Spain, fading from his memory.

As the man passed up the street of Port Arthur, under escort of a
corporal's guard, he laid his hand triumphantly on his breast. In an
inner pocket, beneath it, reposed a sheet of rice paper, on one side of
which were scrawled a few lines, in a girlish handwriting. On the other
were drawings of moats, counterscarps, and a medley of fortifications,
followed by vertical lines of delicate Japanese characters.

"Take me at once to General Stoessel's headquarters," said the
sallow-faced man. "I have important information for him. Here is my pass
from the War Office at St. Petersburg."



CHAPTER XIV.

THE ATTACK OF THE "OCTOPUS".


Since the Stone Age, when long-haired men, half brutes, fought with
battle-clubs made by lashing a rudely shaped lump of stone in the cleft
end of a club, and with arrows and javelins tipped with hammered flint,
through all the successive generations of fighters, human ingenuity has
been exercised to its utmost to devise new implements of warfare, and
new defences to protect against them.

A long stride was taken when the first elaborately carved, bell-mouthed
cannon roared at Cressy and Poictiers; another when iron balls were
substituted for stone, and still a third when the idea flashed upon some
belligerent inventor to make his iron shot hollow and transform them
into explosive shells and death-dealing shrapnel.

From shells to torpedoes was an easy transition, and the torpedo-boat
became necessary, duly followed by the torpedo-boat destroyer. At the
same time the armour of the largest fighting ships was increased in
thickness from two or three inches to a foot, over the vital parts of
the battle-ship and cruiser, the primary batteries of which now included
huge rifled guns throwing a steel projectile of well-nigh half a ton's
weight.

The torpedo is a terrible but uncertain weapon. The modern search-light
makes daylight of the darkest night, and renders the approach of a
torpedo-boat within striking distance exceedingly difficult. If
detected, the boat is doomed, for a concentration of fire from the
larger ship beats the necessarily small assailant to death in a moment.
Moreover it is by no means sure that the torpedo will do its work when
launched at the enemy, even if it succeeds in piercing the wire net that
is suspended to entangle it at a safe distance from the hull of the
vessel attacked.

Summing up all the obstacles to successful torpedo attack, it may be
reckoned that _only one in twelve_ reaches its mark, explodes, and
accomplishes its purpose.

It remained for the twentieth century to produce a terrible
fighting-machine--often foretold but never perfected until the
Russo-Japanese war--which should approach the enemy unseen, discharge
its torpedo with careful aim at the most vulnerable part of its huge
adversary, and, while the latter was floating in fancied security on the
open sea, strike a blow which should be instantly fatal. Such is the
marvellous submarine torpedo-boat of this day and generation.

The idea of a boat that shall move under water and discharge its missile
at a hostile ship is by no means a new one. In 1776 a young man named
David Bushnell, of New Haven, Connecticut, constructed a submarine boat
resembling two "turtle-backs" screwed together. She was so small that
only one man could occupy her. Air was supplied to last half an hour.
The "crew," who was expected to work by hand the propelling screw, was
also supposed to be able to pump in and out water ballast to enable her
to descend to the desired depth, to maintain the craft on an even keel
when submerged, and to detach two hundred pounds of ballast weights in
order to rise again to the surface. An explosive mine containing one
hundred and fifty pounds of gunpowder was to be towed alongside until
the bottom of the enemy's ship was reached, when, the mine having been
fastened to the hull, a clock-work arrangement, set by the operator,
would explode the charge. Nothing practical resulted from the young Yale
man's scheme, but it is evident that his boat was the original model for
every submarine torpedo-boat which has since been invented.

In 1800 Robert Fulton, turning his attention from steam engines for a
while, modelled a boat which was a considerable improvement upon
Bushnell's, but, like the latter, failed in practical use.

During our Civil War several essays were made at submarine warfare, the
Confederates taking the initiative. One of these submarines actually
blew up a Union man-of-war, but was itself demolished, with its crew of
nine men. Every great navy in the world now reckons a number of
submarines among its available forces.

One of the most dangerous and powerful of these deadly destroyers at the
time of the breaking out of the Japanese war was the _Octopus_, launched
at night, with great secrecy, near the naval station of Sasebo. Her
length was eighty feet, diameter eleven feet, displacement (when
submerged) one hundred and thirty-nine tons. When she was running light,
or "awash," the twin-screws, operated by triple expansion engines worked
by steam, gave a speed of fifteen knots, with a minimum endurance, at
this speed, of twelve hours.

To drive the craft when submerged a battery of storage cells supplied an
electric current to operate motors sufficient to give a speed of eight
knots for at least six hours. Her armament consisted of five automobile
torpedoes and two expulsion tubes, which opened through her black prow
like the nostrils of some hideous sea-monster. She was able to sink to a
depth of twenty feet below the surface within one minute after the
order to dive was given. When she was submerged three feet the pilot
obtained a view over the water by means of a _camera lucida_ in a tube
that projected above the surface.

When Jules Verne wrote _Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea_, in 1873,
his _Nautilus_ was deemed by the reader untaught in naval constructive
history a wild creation of the author's fancy, like his passenger-car
shot to the moon from an enormous cannon. To-day there is not a naval
commander who would not look grave and consider an immediate withdrawal
of his ship when told an enemy's submarine was cruising in his
neighbourhood.

In the face of open danger, visible to eye and ear, no officer of the
navy blenches. The submarine is out of sight. It may be within a hundred
yards of the ship when the report is brought. A man who will stand up
against a wild beast or a band of savages without a tremor will turn
white and shriek with terror if, when he is in the water, the cry of
"Shark!" is raised. The shark betrays its presence by its black dorsal
fin above the surface of the sea. When the fin disappears the danger
increases, becomes terrible; the fear of the swimmer in the vicinity of
that black, unseen peril overmasters him.

The submarine sinks, like the shark, to attack. Its gleaming back,
surmounted by the small, round conning tower, disappears amid a swirl of
foam. A single staff at the stern betrays its presence for a moment;
then that, too, glides beneath the surface. Not a man on the battle-ship
but shudders at the thought of that hidden monster under the waves,
driven by the skill and hatred of the human brain.

Only tried and absolutely reliable men are chosen for the crew of the
submarine. They must be ready to endure extreme discomfort and hardship
and must hold their lives in their hands. A well-aimed shot from a
war-ship, or a defect in the delicate machinery of the boat, and all is
over. A submarine never is wrecked; it sinks, with all on board; it is
obliterated.

The Japanese have been among the first to realise the terrible
effectiveness of this formidable engine of war. No one outside a handful
of men near the Mikado's throne knows how many submarine torpedo-boats
are included in the Japanese navy, nor where they are stationed.
Japanese naval officers and men form an ideal body from which the crews
of these boats are to be chosen. In conflict with the enemy, whether on
land or at sea, they reckon their lives as nothing. They seek eagerly
for a glorious death at the hands of the foe, and when that is denied
them and defeat is inevitable they prefer to die by their own weapons,
or by leaping into the sea, rather than prolong what would be to them a
life of disgrace.

Oto Owari was appointed, on the 11th of April in this eventful year, to
the command of the submarine _Octopus_, then docked, under a concealing
roof, at Sasebo. Three nights later he went on board with a picked crew
at midnight, and the _Octopus_, first gliding out of the dock, and
gathering speed until she reached open water, suddenly stopped her
engines and began to sink, inch by inch. In one minute a dark spot on
the sea, and a patch of foam, indicated the top of her conning tower;
and a moment later she was out of sight. In the act of sinking, her prow
was toward the west.

Early on the morning of April 13th, the Japanese fleet made a
demonstration in the direction of Port Arthur. Always ready to accept a
challenge while there was a shot in the locker, the Russians steamed out
to meet them. There was but a brief exchange of battle courtesies. The
Port Arthur ships were far out-numbered and out-metalled, and Admiral
Makaroff, on the _Petropavlovsk_, signalled for his squadron to retire.

The _Petropavlovsk_ was a first-class battle-ship of about 11,000 tons,
with heavy armament of twelve-inch guns and secondary batteries. She had
on board the admiral, the regular crew of 650 men, the Grand Duke Cyril,
and, as a special guest, the famous painter Verestchagin. Makaroff,
with several officers of high rank, having satisfied themselves that the
ship was in no immediate danger, proceeding as she now was under good
headway, toward her home port, with the Japanese fleet hull down in the
offing, went below to breakfast. The Grand Duke and the great artist
remained on the bridge with the commander of the flagship and its
lieutenant. They scanned through their glasses the far-off pursuers, and
the frowning forts on Golden Hill, and congratulated each other on the
escape of the Russian squadron from the danger of annihilation by an
immensely superior force. Not a man of them guessed the near presence of
a peril, unseen beneath those waves, dimpling in the morning sunlight,
more terrible than the whole array of Japanese battle-ships on the
horizon. Verestchagin, then the greatest living painter of death on the
battle-field, knew not that Death was at that moment gliding toward him;
that he was taking his last look at the drifting clouds, the rippling
sea, the blue hills of Manchuria. The _Petropavlovsk_ sped onward, but
faster, beneath the waves, sped the _Octopus_, guided by the fierce
eyes, the strong hand, the glowing heart and brain of the small brown
man erstwhile cabin steward of the _Osprey_.

Suddenly the great battle-ship quivered from stem to stern, as if she
had struck upon a rock. The sea rose on the starboard side in a
tremendous wave, and a roar like a broadside of a frigate filled the
air, followed by a rattling, crashing discharge from the magazines. A
huge gap appeared in the hull of the ship. A cataract of water poured
in, and slowly turning upon her side, with one great, hissing gasp the
_Petropavlovsk_ sank.

The other ships of the squadron hastened to the spot, and almost before
the fighting-tops of the battle-ship disappeared their boats were
foaming across the water to pick up the survivors from the ill-fated
vessel. The Grand Duke was saved, as were the lieutenant, two other
officers, and about fifty sailors. Every other man went to the bottom.
Never again would the guns of Russia boom out their noisy salute to the
gallant admiral; and Verestchagin had made his last great study of
Death.

[Illustration: THE SINKING OF THE PETROPAVLOVSK.]



CHAPTER XV.

UNDER THE RED CROSS.


When Fred Larkin regained consciousness, after being hurled into the
sea, he found himself lying on a large table covered with a white cloth.
Around him stood a number of big, burly men with black beards and stern
but not unkindly faces. He knew at once that they must be Russians, and
(having applied himself vigorously to the study of their language on his
outward voyage from San Francisco) addressed himself to the most
amiable-looking of the lot.

"Where am I?" he asked, in very poor Russian.

The man did not reply, but said, "Do you speak French?"

"_Oui!_" replied Larkin, glad to know that he could converse in a tongue
much more familiar to him than the former. He repeated his question,
adding, as a twinge of pain shot through his shoulder, "I am hurt."

"Yes," said the other; "you were struck by a splinter. We picked you up
from the water and brought you here. You are English?"

"American. Am I in Port Arthur, then?"

"You are near Port Arthur, at Laouwei. What were you doing in the
Chinese junk which was sunk by the Japanese?" demanded the Russian more
sternly.

"I am a newspaper correspondent," said Fred boldly, though in a weak
voice. His wound pained him more and more, and he rightly guessed that
the collar-bone was fractured. "I have been in Tokio, and could not
reach the front, so I crossed over to your side, where, they tell me,
the press receives more consideration. My credentials are in my inside
pocket."

The officer--for such Fred deemed him to be--smiled grimly, but made no
comment upon this speech.

"You must be taken to the hospital in the city, where they will set your
broken bone," he said. "Meanwhile you will pardon the discourtesy of
covering your face."

A word of command was given, and a light cloth laid over the reporter's
head. He was then placed gently upon a stretcher and carried on board
some kind of a vessel. Before long Fred heard the clamour of a wharf
crowd; then felt himself lifted again and borne through the streets of a
city which he knew must be Port Arthur, up a rather steep hill, to a
building where he was deposited on a cot beside two other men. The
cloth was now removed, and the first object which met his eye was the
kind, good face of a young woman, on whose arm was bound a strip bearing
a red cross. With a feeling that he was in a safe refuge he meekly took
the medicine held to his lips and fell into a deep sleep.

Between his sleeping and waking, the collar-bone was set that afternoon.
Fred only remembered a confused sense of gentle hands and rough voices,
of the smell of chloroform, of a general battered and "want-to-cry"
feeling; and, at last, of utter abandonment of restfulness. The next
morning he was weak and a little feverish, but he felt like a new man.
In three weeks, the surgeon told him, he would be about again. Fred made
use of his first returning strength to cable to the _Bulletin_ and ask
for instructions. The censor passed the message without cutting. The
reply was terse: "Remain Russian army."

The time passed pretty heavily with the disabled correspondent, during
his convalescence at the hospital. From the window of his room he could
look down on the harbour and see the Russian war-ships. His two
room-mates, Japanese officers from one of the stone-laden hulks sunk in
a vain attempt to block the channel in Hobson fashion, had been sent to
prison soon after his arrival.

From time to time he obtained scraps of information from other
patients, from the hospital surgeon-staff, and from his gentle little
nurse, Marie Kopofsky, a native of Moscow. Not "at the Czar's command,"
but of her own free will, she had volunteered, as had hundreds of
Japanese women on their side of the sea, to nurse the sick and wounded
at the front, under the banner of the Red Cross.

On the day before he left the hospital Fred was walking idly through the
corridors to his room, when his ear caught the sound of an unpleasantly
familiar voice. It recalled the prison at Santiago, where he had been
confined at the close of his daring scouting expedition during the
Spanish War. It recalled, too, strangely enough, the bright days he had
recently passed at Tokio. Suddenly a light broke upon his mind.

"Stevens!" he exclaimed under his breath. "That mean traitor who tried
to bribe me to betray the secrets of the United States navy to the
Spanish--he and Señor Bellardo are the same man! It was the beard and
the dark complexion that fooled me! What tricks is he up to now, I
wonder?"[3]

Fred turned away abruptly, before Stevens caught sight of him, and
entering his private room closed the door.

"I may not be here long," he muttered, "but while I am I will keep an
eye on that fellow."

The next day he received his discharge from the hospital, and obtained
lodgings at a respectable hotel near by. As soon as possible he
presented his credentials to General Stoessel, and received a newspaper
pass, with the instructions of the Russian government governing war
correspondents at the front. They were, in brief, as follows:

Rule I. Correspondents must not interfere in any way with the
preparations for war, or the plans of the staff, or divulge military
secrets of advantage to the enemy, such as actions in which forts are
damaged or guns lost.

II. No criticism of members of the General Staff, Corps, or Division
Staff. The report of an engagement must be limited to a simple statement
of fact.

III. Correspondents must not transmit unconfirmed information about the
enemy, such as rumours of victory, or threatening movements, which may
cause public uneasiness in Russia.

IV. All correspondents without credentials will be turned back. Those
given permission to join the forces are in honour bound to observe the
regulations, with the penalty of expulsion without warning for any
violation. They can go anywhere in the field, and are barred only from
the Russian fleet.

"H'm," said Fred, as he read over the printed rules, "fair enough,
though 'a simple statement of fact' is hard lines on a flowery writer.
If my friends the Japs had been as liberal, I shouldn't have got into
Port Arthur in a hurry."

He soon made the acquaintance of two or three other newspaper men from
European capitals, and managed to get a few good cables through the
censor without their being mangled beyond recognition. He soon
discovered Stevens's lodgings, where he learned that the traitor had the
entrée of Staff headquarters, and was known as Henry Burley, of
Liverpool. For the present Fred could see no spoke to put in his wheel,
for the interests of the United States were, as far as he knew, in no
way involved in the man's character or actions. Still, as Fred
soliloquised, "he would bear watching."

The war proceeded with unabated vigour. During the second week of Fred's
enforced idleness another sea-tragedy took place in the Yellow Sea, off
Korea. The Japanese transport _Kinshiu Maru_ was proceeding from
Nagasaki to the Korean coast, with ammunition, coal, supplies, and
infantry. In the middle of the night several large ships loomed up
through the haze. Supposing them to be Togo's fleet, the _Kinshiu Maru_
signalled, "I am bringing you coal." What was her commander's dismay to
read the answer, twinkling out in red and white Ardois lights, "Stop
instantly!" At the same moment the cry ran through the transport, "The
Russians! the Russians!"

"Surrender!" signalled Admiral Yeszen, from his flagship. It was the
Vladivostock squadron of formidable cruisers, released at last from the
ice which for months had both protected and fettered them.

Instead of surrendering, the crew of the _Kinshiu Maru_ began to lower
their boats in mad haste, hoping to escape in the darkness; a Russian
steam cutter captured every boat but one, which was afterward picked up
by a Japanese schooner, many miles from the scene of the disaster.

The Russians boarded the transport, and found about one hundred and
fifty soldiers, who barricaded themselves in the cabin and refused to
surrender. Withdrawing to their ships, the victors began to shell the
doomed hulk. The Japanese soldiers swarmed on deck and discharged their
rifles in the direction of the foe, shouting old Samurai battle-songs.
Pierced and shattered, the transport settled lower and lower in the
water. At last a Whitehead torpedo, exploding against the ship, tore a
great hole in her hull amidships, and she plunged into the depths of the
sea. Up to the last moment, when the waves rolled over them, the
soldiers shouted their defiance and steadily loaded and fired. With two
hundred prisoners, the Russian squadron returned to Vladivostock.

On land the Japanese advanced steadily. Gradually the long, throttling
fingers extended from east and west toward the railroad that meant life
or death to the great fortress. Then came the battle of the Yalu, to the
east. The river was crossed, the Japanese poured into Manchuria, and the
position of the Russian forces on the Liaotung peninsula became still
more critical. Supplies were crowded into the beleaguered port, and
non-combatants filled the northward-bound trains to overflowing. Early
in May it became evident that with one more clutch of the relentless
hand of Nippon all communication between Port Arthur and the rest of the
world would be cut off.

Fred Larkin saw that he must decide whether to move out at once or
remain virtually a prisoner in the town. Most of the other
correspondents had already gone. The instructions from the home office
were ambiguous. He tried to cable again, but the wires were pre-empted
for military despatches in those stirring days. He decided, reluctantly,
to abandon Port Arthur and join the Russian army now entrenched a few
miles north, on the line of the railroad.

On the evening before the day which he had set for his departure he was
strolling about the large square where a military band was playing
national airs, when he bumped against a stranger who was hurrying in the
opposite direction. Both paused, and their eyes met.

"Larkin!"

"Stevens!"

"Hush!" said the latter, looking nervously over his shoulder. "My name
is Burley. Why are you here? When did you leave Tokio?"

"At about the same time when you decamped with the War Office
documents," said Fred easily. "Look here, old fellow," he continued with
assumed cordiality, "there's no need for us to quarrel in a foreign
camp. You've got something on hand now, or I'm mistaken. Can't you let
me in?"

"You used pretty hard words to me the last time we met," said the other
gloomily. "It wasn't your fault that I wasn't strung up."

"Nor yours that I wasn't," assented Fred cheerfully, "so we're square on
that score. But this is a different matter. It's all Japanese or Russian
over here, and your Uncle Samuel hasn't a finger in the pie. Now you
must have made a good thing out of your Tokio observations, and the
presumption is that, having the confidence of our friend Stoessel and
his staff, you are about ready to face about."

"Perhaps I am," said Stevens, or Burley, again looking about him. "And
_if_ I am, I need one good man I can depend on, to help me in the job.
It's too big for one to handle, and the city is so full of spies that I
wouldn't trust a native round the corner. But how do I know you will do
your part, eh?"

"Try me and see," said Larkin with great firmness.

"All right, I'll try you." They were now walking through one of the side
streets, which was but dimly lighted. "Here are my lodgings. Come in and
we'll talk it over."

He opened the outer door with a pass-key, and Fred followed him up two
flights of narrow stairs.

"Here we are," said Burley, opening a door. "Step right in, and I'll
light up."

Larkin entered, but he was hardly over the threshold when he was pushed
headlong to the floor, and heard the door closed and locked behind him.

A low laugh sounded from the entry. "'Help me out,' will you, you
puppy?" whispered Burley through the keyhole. "You'll never help anybody
out, in this world. Within ten minutes this house will be a heap of
rubbish, and you will be in kingdom come. Good-bye! I'll report you at
home!"

His steps echoed down the stairway, and then the house was still.

FOOTNOTE:

[3] Readers of _Cleared for Action_ will remember the previous career of
the renegade Stevens. He was a graduate of the Naval Academy at
Annapolis, and subsequently turned against his country. In an attempt to
betray the Spaniards he was detected, arrested, and thrown into prison
at Santiago just before the fall of that city.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE LAST TRAIN FROM PORT ARTHUR.


Fred Larkin's first move, on finding himself trapped, was a perfectly
natural one. He scrambled to his feet and rushed to the door. It took
him some time to find the knob, in the darkness, and on turning it and
pulling with all his might he was not surprised to discover that it
refused to yield.

"It's a bad scrape," said the reporter to himself, breathing hard with
his exertions, "but I've been in worse ones, unless that threat of
blowing up the house is carried out."

He had been fumbling in his pocket, and now drew from it a box of wax
vestas, one of which he struck. The light disclosed a small room,
perfectly bare. A glance at the heavy door convinced him that it was
useless to attempt a speedy escape in that direction. There were two low
windows, both with the sashes fastened down and protected by outside
shutters of wood.

Fred made short work of one of the sashes, smashing it to bits with his
foot. He then unhasped the shutters and peered out. The night was cloudy
and he could discover nothing beyond the fact that there was a sheer
drop of at least twenty-five feet to a sort of yard, which might be
paved with brick or lumbered up with stones and iron scrap, for all he
could see. The buildings beyond seemed to be warehouses of some sort;
not a light gleamed from a single window. He shouted with all his might
for help, but none came. Although he did not believe the house would "be
a heap of rubbish in ten minutes"--three of which had already
elapsed--he was sufficiently in doubt to be perfectly willing to leave
it at once, if there were any possible way of escape.

As he stepped back into the room the flooring creaked under his foot.
Lighting another wax match he found that a board was loose. He managed
to get his fingers under the end, and, throwing his whole weight upward,
ripped out the board. With the first for a lever, its neighbour came up
easily enough. It was a cheaply built house, without a second layer
beneath the surface floor. The edgewise-set planks on which the boards
rested were about two feet apart. Fred did not hesitate a moment, but
stamped hard upon the upper side of the ceiling of the apartment beneath
his own. His foot went through the lath and plaster with a smash and a
cloud of dust. Picking up the broken boards, he enlarged the hole, and,
as soon as the dust cleared away, peered through the opening. The room
below was as dark as his own. He "sounded" with the longest floor-board
at his disposal, and was gratified to find that he could "touch bottom"
at about nine feet depth. Without losing further time he crawled through
the hole, hung off from the stringers and dropped.

Recovering himself from the shock of alighting in the dark, Fred hastily
produced another vesta, in order to survey his new quarters. The room
was entirely unfurnished, like the one above. In one respect, however,
it differed from the apartment in which he had been so unceremoniously
installed: the door was ajar! In a minute more Larkin stood on the
pavement outside, and in another, having taken a careful survey of the
premises, he was hurrying away to his own lodgings, which he reached in
safety, congratulating himself on the happy issue of his evening's
adventure.

Martin Stevens, like all evil-doers, was an unhappy man. For weeks and
months he would toil at a self-imposed task, to earn money and fame at
the expense of principles, and when he seemed to himself to have
attained absolute success, and felt the crackle of his basely earned
bank-notes in his pocket,--he was miserable. The luscious fruit he had
so long looked forward to eating was a Dead Sea apple, crumbling to
ashes at the first bite.

After his narrow escape from death at the hands of the Spaniards in
Santiago, he had engaged in various questionable enterprises on the
Continent, where a natural aptitude for languages soon enabled him to
converse fluently in German, French, Italian, and Russian. He was
already master of Spanish, as we have seen, and he had received a fine
education in applied mathematics, physics, and navigation at the United
States Naval Academy. Tall and rather well formed, carrying himself
well, and conversing easily in the language of the country where he
desired to exercise his peculiar calling--that of a professional spy--he
readily obtained admittance to many councils and offices closed to the
general public. He had correspondents in every court in Europe, as well
as in Japan and at Pekin.

When Stevens left Tokio in disguise, with half a dozen important papers
in his breast pocket, he felt that he had achieved the crowning glory of
his life. The documents were indeed gladly received at the Russian
headquarters, but the man was despised and distrusted. The bluff,
gallant Stoessel paid the spy a large sum without hesitation; but,
beyond suggesting another expedition--perhaps to the camp of General
Nogi's forces, or to Admiral Togo's fleet--he had nothing more to say to
him. As the high-minded Russian turned to his staff-officers, whose
bronzed, manly faces bore witness to their honourable service under the
Czar, Stevens sneaked off, his face sallower than ever, to cash the
official draft and to gnash his teeth at the cold, contemptuous
treatment he had met with when his secrets were all divulged. In this
mood, plotting a new system of espionage upon the Russians, whom he
hated, he had met Larkin. He had already recognised the reporter in
Tokio, and had thought himself well rid of him when he fled to Port
Arthur. No sight could have been more unwelcome to him than that of
Larkin's merry, honest, shrewd countenance, rising before him like
Banquo's ghost, when least expected.

Near Stevens's lodgings was an empty house of which he had the key, and
in which he had already met representatives of that terrible class of
men who are now found in all parts of the civilised world, but most
where the double eagle of the Russian flag proclaims the despotic rule
of St. Petersburg--the Nihilists. Revolving in his mind various plans
for getting rid of Larkin without actually committing murder, he
determined, on the spur of the moment, to lock him up over night at this
secret place of rendezvous. He even thought vaguely of blowing up the
building with a bomb, which one of his friends would supply on demand.
He shrank, however, from this extreme measure, which would put his own
head in peril, and contented himself with giving the war correspondent a
good scare, out of pure malice, and with so disposing of his person that
he would be kept out of the way over night. He had no doubt that Larkin
would gain his release in some way the next morning, but there would be
time, meanwhile, to don a new disguise and perfect arrangements for
leaving the city. How he failed, we have seen. Fred Larkin was not an
easy man to scare, or to keep within four walls against his will. The
next morning, accordingly, both spy and reporter were at the railway
station, eager to take the first train for the north. There was a dense
crowd of refugees struggling for places, and neither of the two men was
conscious of the other's presence on board when the guard's whistle
sounded at last, and the long train--the last train for many a weary
month, as it proved--moved out of Port Arthur.

It was six o'clock on the morning of May 6th. The sun had burst through
the clouds which had rendered the preceding night so gloomy, and the
country around the city stretched out on either side of the railroad in
all the loveliness of spring. Fields and hillsides flushed with blossoms
of almond and apricot, and opened fair reaches of greensward as the
train rolled past. In sheltered nooks, by the banks of dancing
streamlets, nestled those little Chinese villages which, however
squalid upon close acquaintance, add a picturesque touch to the Oriental
landscape. All around the horizon was piled with high hills, clothed in
verdure or reddish in the early sunlight where broad ledges and
stretches of sandy slope had been denuded by storm and the hand of man.
Larkin almost forgot the war and the hot passions that were smouldering
behind the fair peaks and along the hidden valleys of Manchuria, as he
gazed from the car window and thought of the Brookfield meadows in May,
the little stream where he had caught his first trout, and the pine wood
which sheltered the brave mayflowers and hepaticas before the winter's
drifts had melted on the northern slopes and in the deeper recesses of
the forest.

But his musings were rudely interrupted. At the end of about two hours
after leaving Port Arthur the train halted at the outpost position
occupied by the Russian forces under General Fock. The peace of nature
was broken by the sound of sappers and diggers at work, by commands
harshly shouted, the tramping of horses, the rumble of wheels, the stir
and bustle of an armed camp.

On again, steadily forging northward, with the engine throwing out great
clouds of black smoke from her soft-coal fuel as she climbed the
up-grades; through several villages without a stop, until Kinchow was
reached. A sharp lookout was now kept for Japanese cavalry, which were
known to be scouring the country to the east, the main body of the
invaders having already made a substantial advance from Dalny, on the
eastern coast. A train had been fired upon, only the day before, at a
point about forty miles north of Port Arthur. There were rumours that
Japanese troops were landing in force at Port Adams, on the west coast
of the peninsula, near Newchwang, and that a strong detachment had
occupied Haicheng, just south of Liaoyang.

The engineer pulled open the throttle, as the train struck a long,
straight piece of road. The cars rocked from side to side, and cries of
alarm from invalids and women were heard. The speed was frightful.
Larkin clung to his seat, devoutly hoping that his journalistic career
would not terminate in a smash-up on the Imperial Trans-Siberian
Railroad. Just then a band of horsemen was seen galloping toward the
road. They drew up sharply and could be seen to unsling their muskets.
_Puff! Puff!_ No noise could be heard above the roar of the train, but
the passengers were not left in doubt as to the cavalrymen's intentions.
A dozen windows were shattered by bullets, while the frightened inmates
of the rocking cars crouched low between the seats. With a rush and a
roar the train clattered on, leaving the assailants far behind.

On and on, through Newchwang, crossing bridges which were soon to be
wrapped in flames, rattling over level plains, winding through narrow
defiles surmounted with frowning fortifications, until at last the train
rolled into the station at Liaoyang. That afternoon the railroad was
crossed by the Japanese, the rails torn up, bridges burned and telegraph
wires cut. Port Arthur was isolated from the world. Its next telegram
would be sent out eight months later, to be recorded in the quaint
characters of the Island Empire.

Fred Larkin, little dreaming that his captor of the preceding evening
was in the same city, at once proceeded to make himself at home. He
presented his credentials at headquarters, secured lodgings, and sent
off a dispatch to the _Bulletin_ that very night, describing the last
train from Port Arthur and the conditions as he had found them in that
city. This final portion of his telegram would have occupied about half
a column of his paper. The grim censor blue-pencilled it down to eight
lines and a half!



CHAPTER XVII.

DICK SCUPP'S ADVENTURE.


"_Osprey, ordered to Chemulpo._" Hallie Rexdale read the brief
announcement in the list of "navy orders, Asiatic fleet," and wondered
if her Dave were summoned to new dangers. While his ship was stationed
at Chefoo she felt comparatively easy about him; but Chemulpo, the port
of Seoul, Korea, was almost on the firing line. To be sure, the United
States was as yet in no way involved in the conflict, but suppose the
Vladivostock fleet should happen to descend upon Chemulpo? Shells would
fly, and the _Osprey_ could not. The obscure half-line in the newspaper
recording naval movements, and overlooked by all but one in a thousand
readers, carries joy or dismay to many a wife and sweetheart, for whom
the interest in the whole paper centres in that one announcement. Hallie
tore up the envelope she had already addressed, and added a few lines to
her letter, tearfully bidding--bless her heart!--her gallant commander
to "be careful."

The officers and crew of the gunboat were glad to receive the order,
when it reached them late in May. They were heartily tired of Chefoo,
and any change was hailed with delight. They foresaw, moreover, that
before long the _Osprey_ would be ordered to Cavite, there to dock for
repairs and the cleaning up her weedy hull needed.

From Chefoo to Chemulpo the distance is about four hundred miles.
Rexdale consulted his charts and reckoned that thirty-six hours would be
needed for the trip. Word was passed that all liberty on shore was at an
end, and every man was supposed to be on board before four bells that
same evening. "Supposed to be"--but the commander knew that his crew had
recently been diminished, and he felt sore on that particular subject.
Three men, during the preceding fortnight, had deserted, presumably to
join the Russian navy, which was offering generous inducements to new
recruits. It is reckoned, at the present day, that nearly ten per cent.
of men--not all "enlisted"--in the United States Navy sooner or later
desert.

At Morning Quarters, on the day when the _Osprey_ was to weigh anchor
and sail for Chemulpo, one more man was missing--no other than our old
friend Dick Scupp. He had been one of the shore party of the preceding
day, and in some way his absence from mess had been overlooked at night.
One of his mates remembered seeing him enter a saloon in Chefoo, kept
by a Chinaman of more than doubtful reputation; nothing further could be
ascertained concerning the seaman's movements. Dave knew that sailors
are loath to betray one of their number, and questioned them sharply, as
Dick was too valuable a man to lose without an effort for his recovery.
He even delayed sailing while "Jimmy Legs" spent a couple of hours
searching for the delinquent in the lower quarters of the town; but no
light was thrown on his disappearance. The Chinese saloon-keeper, Ah
Fong, declared that a sailor-man answering to Scupp's description had
become partly intoxicated on the premises and had been summarily
ejected. That was the last seen of him. Lieut.-Commander Rexdale could
wait no longer and put to sea, logging the incident as "Dick Scupp,
Ordinary Seaman, disappeared in Chefoo. Probably deserted."

At a little before noon the _Osprey_ was under way. There was no local
pilot on the bridge, for each of the officers was supposed to be
perfectly capable of taking the ship out and conning her across the gulf
to the port of destination. During the long stay at Chefoo Rexdale, in
particular, had improved the time by as careful a study of the currents,
channels, tides, and beacons on the Chinese coast as if he were to pass
an examination in seamanship at short notice.

The gunboat was about five miles out when the attention of Staples, the
executive, was called to a large junk crossing her bow about a mile
ahead.

"There's some sort of a row on board," said the lieutenant, as he eyed
the lumbering craft through his glasses. "It looks like a free fight
among the pigtails."

Rexdale and Liddon, the officer of the deck, joined him in scrutinising
the stranger, whose decks seemed to be crowded with men, among whom a
struggle was evidently taking place.

Suddenly the commander exclaimed: "There goes a man overboard, and the
scoundrels don't mean to stop for him!"

"He may be dead," suggested Staples coolly. "He seemed to be muffled in
black, which isn't the fashionable costume for a Chinese coolie."

"We must pick him up," said Dave with energy. "He's alive and
struggling. I can see his head now--I believe it's a negro. Port your
helm a little, Mr. Staples. Head for the man and get your lifeboat
ready!"

"Port, Quartermaster!" commanded the executive. Then, raising his
trumpet to his lips, he shouted, "Man the lifeboat!"

It should be understood that the _Osprey_, like most gunboats of her
class, carried two large "whaleboats." These were kept ready for
lowering quickly, when the ship was at sea. The one which happened to
be on the lee side at any given time was the "lifeboat." There is always
a "lifeboat's crew" on watch, while at sea, permanently detailed, all
fully drilled in their duties.

Staples's voice rang like a bugle-call throughout the ship and in an
instant every man in the lifeboat crew was on his feet and racing for
his station.

"Steady, Quartermaster," commanded Rexdale. "Keep her as she is. You're
heading straight for him."

"Aye, aye, sir! East-north-east, sir!" responded the quartermaster.

"I'll relieve you, Mr. Liddon," said Staples. "You go down and look out
for the boat!"

By this time the boat-crew were clambering into the lee whaleboat, led
by Midshipman Starr, who had cleared the wardroom ladder in a flying
leap at the first order from the bridge. Within sixty seconds from the
call "Man the lifeboat!" the boat was ready for lowering. In the
stern-sheets stood the coxswain, steering oar in hand, with every nerve
alert and tense; the bow oarsman had cast off the end of the "sea
painter," but kept a turn with it around the forward thwart. The other
men were seated on the thwarts, two of them with boat-hooks, with which
they were prepared to push the boat off from the ship's side while being
lowered, as the _Osprey_ was rolling a little in a cross swell. Bob
Starr was beside the coxswain, and awaited the command for lowering, as
he tried to catch a glimpse of the drowning man in the sea far ahead.

When the alarm was first given the _Osprey_ was making about ten knots
an hour, which would call for six minutes to cover the intervening mile.
Rexdale knew better than to slow up and lower his boat at once, thus
increasing this time and the risk of losing the man.

"Port a little more, Quartermaster!" ordered the captain. "Mr. Staples,"
he added, "whistle down to the engine-room and tell them to give us all
the speed they can."

After a brief colloquy through the tube the executive reported: "They
can do a little better, sir, but not much. They were just starting to
clean fires."

Liddon, on the quarter-deck, now called out, "All ready the lifeboat,
sir!"

"Very well, Mr. Liddon," returned Staples. "Hold on all till I give you
the order to lower."

Four minutes went by, with only an occasional growl from Dave: "Port a
little! steady, now! Starboard a little! Steer a steady course there at
the wheel--you're yawing all round the compass! There you are! See if
you can hold her steady at that!"

The man in the water was now about two hundred yards away.

"Stop both engines, Mr. Staples!"

The executive, who was already standing with his hand on the lever of
the port indicator, swung it sharply to "_Stop_," while the
quartermaster, at the starboard indicator, did the same.

"Half speed astern with both engines!" commanded the captain. "Stand by
to lower, Mr. Staples!"

Again the signal levers swung, and the executive called out, "Stand by
to lower, Mr. Liddon, as soon as we stop backing!"

The ship slowed down, trembling under the reversed strokes of the
powerful screw and rolling sheets of white foam from beneath each
quarter.

"Stop both engines!" ordered Dave.

"Stop, sir!"

"Lower away, Mr. Staples!"

"Lower away, sir!" and an instant later the boat sank to the water, was
detached, and was pulling rapidly toward the swimmer, who, when first
abandoned by the junk, had paddled about irresolutely, but was now
making his way steadily toward the boat.

"It's a negro, fast enough," observed Staples, gazing through his
binoculars. "He's as black as the ace of spades."

"Give her half-speed, Mr. Staples," directed Rexdale, whose whole mind
was now on the management of his ship, "and come round to pick them up!"

Again the signal jingled in the engine-room, and the ship, with helm
a-starboard, circled round the lifeboat.

"Up oars! Shove off!" commanded Starr in low tones, as soon as the boat
had detached itself from the patent hooks. "Let fall!"

The orders were repeated sharply by the coxswain, the oars dropped into
the rowlocks, and were brought level with the rail, with blades
horizontal.

"Give way together!" and away went the boat on its errand of mercy,
foaming over the choppy sea, toward the struggling swimmer.

"Way enough!" ordered the midshipman, as they approached the black,
woolly head bobbing about in the water.

Bob stood up in the stern-sheets, as the boat lost its headway. Suddenly
a look of wonder came into his face, succeeded by a suppressed chuckle,
to the amazement of the men, no one of whom, however, broke discipline
by turning his head.

"In bows!" called the coxswain, in response to Starr's order. "Stand by
there, to pull the man in! Hold water! Stern all!"

Again a ripple of amusement shot over the midshipman's jolly face,
which grew red in his attempts to suppress his emotions.

The next moment the bow oarsman reached down and with a great effort
pulled the dripping castaway in over the side.

A roar of laughter rang out from the boat's crew.

"A dog! A big Newfoundland!" exclaimed the coxswain, as the animal,
sinking down in the bottom of the boat with a low whine, gave himself a
shake that sent the water flying over the men. "Shall we throw him over
again, sir?"

"No, no," laughed Bob, resuming his seat. "He's too fine an animal to
drown. Get back to the ship. That's enough, men! Silence!"

Rexdale, Staples, and Liddon had already made out the character of the
supposed "man overboard," and were shaking with laughter when Bob
returned. The duty remained, however, of hoisting the boat and resuming
the course to Chemulpo.

"Lead along and man the lifeboat's falls!" shouted the executive.

The boat pulled up to the leeward side of the ship--the engines having
been stopped--and a line was thrown to her. This was deftly caught by
the bow oarsman and a turn taken around the forward thwart. The boat, by
means of this line and skilful management of the steering oar in the
hands of the coxswain, was sheered in under her falls, which had
already been overhauled down so that the lower blocks were within easy
reach of the men in the boat. The ship in the meantime was forging
slowly ahead. A line was thrown from her stern to a man in the stern of
the boat, who took a turn and held on, to keep the boat from swinging
violently forward when she should leave the water.

The falls were now hooked on, having been previously manned on deck by a
long row of men reaching half the length of the ship, ready to run the
boat up quickly, at the order.

"Haul taut!" commanded Liddon, who was standing on the ship's rail,
watching affairs. "Hoist away!"

Up came the boat, crew and all, to the davits. The men clambered out
and, with some difficulty, passed down the dog, who seemed disinclined
for further adventures.

"Full speed ahead!" jingled the engine-room bell, at Staples's command,
and the _Osprey_, brought to her old course, once more started for
Chemulpo.

The dog, a big, shaggy Newfoundland, soon regained his composure, and
wagged his way along the deck with the greatest good-humour.

"He's a fine fellow, anyway," said Dave, patting the broad head. "I'm
glad we hove to for him."

"What's this written on his collar," queried Liddon, taking the wet
leather band in his hands and turning it, so as to read some rude
characters apparently scratched with the point of a knife.

Dave glanced down carelessly, then sprang up the steps to the bridge.

"Starboard, Quartermaster," he ordered in sharp, quick tones. "Mr.
Staples, head her dead for that junk!"

Liddon was already by his side. After the first instant he did not
wonder at the commander's sudden change of course. He, too, had read the
two words, scrawled on the dripping leather collar.

"_Shanghaied--Scupp._"

Both officers understood in a moment the whole story of the seaman's
mysterious disappearance. They reasoned with the quickness of
sailors--and correctly, as it afterwards appeared--that Scupp had
yielded to his one unfortunate weakness, a fondness for liquor, during
his liberty on shore. Once inside the rum shop he had been plied with
spirits, probably drugged--for the Chinese are experts in the use of
opium--and while insensible carried on board the junk, to be shipped on
board a Russian man-of-war. So many men had deserted for that purpose
that there was little likelihood of the man's objecting when he found
himself actually pressed (or "shanghaied," to use an old sailor's term
for this sort of forcible enlistment), and offered wages double those he
had been earning. While the Russian navy would not instigate such a
daring breach of the law of nations it was highly improbable that they
would reject a good seaman, trained to his work by the United States.

In kidnapping Master Richard Scupp, however, the Chinese made a bad
mistake. Now that he was sober Dick had no idea of deserting his colours
or taking service under a foreign flag. He came to his senses just as
the junk cleared the chops of the harbour of Chefoo, and within five
minutes he had laid out three of his captors and was himself knocked
down. He found himself lying beside a big dog, who licked his face and
expressed his willingness to aid his new friend, so far as he was able,
to escape. Without definite purpose Dick scratched the two words on the
dog's collar with the point of his sheath knife. This act was detected
by the observant Chinese, but they could see no harm in his amusing
himself in that way and were rather glad for the dog to keep him out of
mischief.

About half an hour later there was a commotion and a jabbering of
tongues among the pig-tailed crew. Dick stood up and caught sight of the
_Osprey_ heading toward the junk at full speed. This drove him wild
again. Bowling over the nearest Chinaman he sprang for a spare spar,
intending to jump overboard and take his chances of being picked up. The
crew crowded him back, and the dog, putting his forepaws on the rail,
barked joyously at the gunboat which poor Dick vainly longed to reach.

A thought struck the kidnapped sailor as he watched the dog. Before any
one could stop him he leaped to the side of the junk and tossed the
animal overboard. He knew the Newfoundland could swim like a fish, and,
providing a shark did not drag him under, there was just a chance that
the officers of the _Osprey_ might see the dog and, picking him up, read
the message on his collar. The plan, as we have seen, succeeded
admirably.

Dick had the satisfaction of watching the gunboat as it slowed down and
sent a boat to his four-footed messenger struggling in the sea. The
Chinese, as he had expected, were angry at the loss of the dog, but did
not dare risking a visit from the United States war-ship by throwing
their boat up into the wind and rescuing the black swimmer.

"They'll know where I am, anyhow, if they only read that collar," said
poor Dick to himself, as the junk rapidly drew away.

He was now forced down on the deck behind the rail lest he should be
made out through the glasses of his officers, which the Chinese knew
must be scrutinising the craft which had left behind such a peculiar bit
of jetsam.

The _Osprey_ quivered from stem to stern, under the pressure upon her
engines. The firemen guessed that something unusual was in the wind,
and, stripped to the waist, kept the furnace doors clanging and the
fires roaring under her boilers.

"We're walking right up on her!" said Staples excitedly, as he and Dave
watched the chase. "Is it any use to signal to them to stop? Do they
understand the signals?"

"We'll signal in a way they _will_ understand," exclaimed Rexdale, "if
they don't obey the flags. Call the signal-men!"

In response to a shrill whistle two men came clambering up to the bridge
and stood ready to execute orders.

"Set 'Stop at once,'" commanded Dave, "General Merchant Code."

A string of gay little flags mounted to the signal yard. They produced
not the slightest effect on the flying junk, which was plunging its nose
into the waves and scurrying eastward before the wind at not less than
nine or ten knots an hour.

"Pass the word for the crew of the forward port three-pounder, Mr.
Staples! Stations! Cast loose and provide!"

The orders were repeated, and four gunners sprang to their places. In a
twinkling the captain of the crew had removed the gun-cover and tompion
and cast adrift the gun-lashings; Number Two had gone over all the
mechanism of the mount and provided revolvers and ammunition for all
four; Numbers Three and Four brought cartridges and swabs, and took
positions in rear of the breech of the gun.

"Load!"

The breech was opened, a cartridge inserted, and the block swung back
into place and clamped. The junk was now only about one thousand yards
distant. The _Osprey_, closing up from the south, held a course at an
acute angle with that of the fugitive, to head her off.

The best marksman of the gun-crew now stood at the breech, and, with his
shoulder against the padded crutch, slowly and carefully brought the
Chinaman within the sighting line.

"Drop a shot across her forefoot," ordered the commander.

"Commence firing!"

The gun roared, and a big splash just in front of the junk testified to
the correct aim of the pointer, and at the same time spoke in a language
that could not be misunderstood. The vessel veered round, spilling the
wind out of her great, oddly-shaped sail, which hung flapping from its
huge yard.

The _Osprey_ had now forged up within a few times her own length and
slowed down.

"Mr. Liddon," said Dave with energy, "you will take the starboard
quarter-boat and board that vessel. Arm your crew with cutlasses and
revolvers, and if her captain can understand English, tell him I'll blow
him out of the water if he doesn't hand over my man."

"Ay, ay, sir!" returned Liddon, delighted with his commission.

For the second time within an hour the boat glided down from the davits,
and went tossing over the waves, driven by eight pairs of brawny arms.

Before they could reach the side of the junk, a chorus of shouts came
from the gunboat they had just left.

"Man overboard! Man overboard! Stand by to pick him up!"

The fact was that when the Chinamen saw that the formidable war-ship was
really in earnest, a panic seized them. They all shrieked and jabbered
together, as their vessel hove to, and Dick Scupp plainly saw that more
trouble was coming for him. There seemed to be a dispute between two
factions on the junk, one of which screamed and pointed first to Dick
and then to the _Osprey_, and the other pointed as furiously to the hold
of the junk. Comprehending that they were discussing whether to restore
him to his own ship, or to hide him below decks--possibly with a knife
in his heart--and declare innocence, the sailor made ready for action.

The party demanding his concealment seemed to have carried their point,
for a number of them now made a rush for Dick, with fierce eyes and with
daggers drawn. The seaman sprang to his feet, catching one of his guards
with a blow under the ear and tripping the other to the deck. Before a
hand could be laid upon him he bounded over the rail into the sea, and
began to swim vigorously toward the approaching boat.

All efforts of the crew of the latter were now directed to saving the
life of their comrade. Liddon steered skilfully up to him and a moment
later he was dragged in over the gunwale, gasping and sputtering. The
junk, meanwhile, caught the wind over her bows and filled away again
toward the north-east. The _Osprey_ waited to pick up her boat, as the
Chinamen thought she would, and another chase was in prospect.

"Stave her to bits! It's an insult to the United States! We can catch up
with her in five minutes!" urged the junior officers of the gunboat,
gathering around their commander, forgetful of discipline.

Rexdale shook his head, though his teeth were set and his face red with
suppressed anger. "We can prove nothing," he said. "They'll swear he was
a deserter and concealed himself on board. Uncle Sam doesn't want to
take on China or anybody else in this scrappy country just now. We'd be
blamed and court-martialled if we should sink a junkful of Chinamen for
no better reason than the one we have."

He turned to the pilot. "Full speed ahead, on her course for Chemulpo."
Then, calling down to the gun-captain, "Unload and secure!"

Dick was duly disciplined for absenting himself beyond leave, but,
considering the hard experience he had undergone, his punishment was
made nominal, with a not very severe reprimand from the commander. The
dog was named "Junk" and became the rival of the black kitten--though
very friendly with her--as the mascot of the _Osprey_.



CHAPTER XVIII.

OSHIMA GOES A-FISHING.


Captain Oshima (promoted from lieutenancy for bravery on the field), of
the 10th Regiment in the Second Japanese Army, under General Odzer, was
fishing. Like most of the Japanese soldiers he had brought from home,
among other effects, a small fishing-line and several hooks. There were
hours and even days when he was called upon to perform no active duty
beyond routine drills, and in memory of the days when he and Oto used to
tramp the brook-sides of dear old Japan, displaying their trophies at
night to gently admiring O-Hana-San and the other prim little maids of
the village, he had determined to try his luck in this strange,
war-swept Manchuria. The hill-tops might be wreathed in battle-smoke and
the plains heaped with dead and dying; but in obscure valleys and down
slopes which had thus far escaped the tread of martial forces, the
ploughshare of the steel shell and the terrible harrow of shrapnel,
streamlets laughed and flowed blithely along their pebbled courses, and
tiny trout darted to and fro as merrily as in the dreamy days of peace
and plenty. So Oshima went a-fishing.

Unrolling his line and attaching it to a neat little pole, cut in a
near-by thicket, he took his seat on a boulder and dropped his baited
hook in one of the quieter pools of a brook that fed an upper branch of
the Faitse River. It was warm, and Oshima took a fan from his pocket and
fanned himself gravely as he fished. Every Japanese soldier is provided
with a fan. Oshima had often looked back on his company, and on the
column trailing behind, on a long march under the scorching Manchurian
sun in June, and had seen a thousand little fans fluttering beside the
heads of the men.

The Japanese army are not only among the fiercest fighters the world has
ever known, but they are dainty in their appointments. With the army go
camp-followers who are allowed to sell fans, handkerchiefs, cigarettes,
tea, soaps, tooth-brushes, and writing-paper. For the officers are
carried great iron kettles in nets, two on a pony; these are used in
heating water for baths, as well as to cook the company mess of rice. A
few squares of straw matting make a bath-house, and a big stone jar is
the tub of comfort for the almond-eyed campaigner. Much time is also
spent in correspondence. The field post carried an immense amount of
mail every day between Antung and the front. Around the camp of
Oshima's regiment could be seen, in the quieter hours of the day,
hundreds of soldiers sitting cross-legged under the trees, painting
artistic epistles to their dear ones at home with brushes on rolls of
thin paper. Oshima himself had written two letters that day; one to his
mother and one to O-Hana-San, who was now a volunteer nurse under the
Red Cross at a large seaport of the new country. So he went fishing.

He caught three very small trout within an hour. Then he rose, rolled up
his line and deposited it in a neat packet, strung the fish upon a twig
and was about to return to camp when he noticed a Chinese coolie acting
very peculiarly. The man was dressed as a Chinese labourer, with a
helmet upon his head, a coarse blouse and thick-soled shoes, like all of
his caste. He was carrying two pails of water, which he had just filled
at the brook, a few rods below Oshima. This was no unusual occupation
for a coolie, although it was surprisingly far from camp; the
peculiarity lay in the keenness with which the man surveyed the outworks
of the fortifications, and his manner in glancing nervously over his
shoulder as he walked off. When he saw Oshima looking at him he almost
dropped his pails; then hurried down toward the camp at a pace that soon
carried him out of sight.

It was late in the afternoon when the captain--who had dined
sumptuously on rice and his three fish--caught sight of the coolie once
more. The man was walking past his tent, carrying water as before.
Oshima called to him sharply. Apparently the coolie did not hear, for he
continued on his way, with head bent and eyes cast down.

Oshima spoke a few words to his orderly, who passed an abrupt order to
two privates stationed near headquarters. They at once stepped after the
Chinaman, and clapping their hands on his shoulders, turned him round in
his tracks and marched him back to the tent.

Oshima viewed the coolie in silence for a moment; then said in Chinese,
"What is your name, my man?"

"Ah Wing, master."

"Your occupation?"

The man held up his water-pails, as if that were a sufficient answer. He
had not yet looked his interrogator in the face, but persistently gazed
down at the ground.

Oshima scrutinised the fellow intently. Suddenly and without warning the
officer sprang to his feet, knocked off the helmet and tweaked the
supposed coolie's pigtail. Behold, it came off in his hand! The man
stood erect. He dropped his burden. His countenance was pale but firm.
He looked his captor in the eye.

"You are a Russian soldier?" asked Oshima.

"I am an officer in the Third Siberian Reserves," answered the prisoner
calmly, in his own language. "My name is Sergius Jalofsky. Volunteers
were called for to obtain information as to your forces and defences. I
was one of six to volunteer. The other five have, I trust, escaped. I
was to return to Liaoyang to-night."

"Search him," said the Japanese captain sternly.

From an inner pocket was produced a paper containing measurements,
figures, and plans relating to the encampment. The evidence was
convincing, even if the spy, seeing that escape or concealment was
impossible, had not made his full confession.

"Hold the prisoner under guard," ordered Oshima. "We will hold a
court-martial and settle this matter at once."

The capture of the Russian was reported at once to the colonel of the
regiment, and a council of officers was convened. Five minutes'
deliberation was sufficient.

"You will die at sunset," said Oshima to the spy. "You are a brave man.
You shall be shot."

At a gesture of the captain the guard led away the prisoner, whose
countenance had not changed nor features relaxed in the slightest degree
when the sentence was pronounced.

The sun was already nearing the mountain-tops in the west, and the cool
damp shadows of evening rapidly advanced.

A corporal's guard led the captive to a retired spot at a short distance
from the camp. The men formed in line, with loaded muskets ready.

"Sir," said the corporal, "have you any request to make, or message to
leave? You are one of the bravest men I ever met. I give you my word
your message shall be delivered."

For the first time the Russian's eyes moistened. "I thank you, comrade,"
said he. "I have but done my duty. It was at the Czar's command. I have
no word--yet--I will ask you to send word to my wife in Irkutsk that I
died like a man and a soldier." He took his ikon from his breast, kissed
it, and bent his head over it a moment. Then, having given his wife's
address to the corporal, who wrote it down carefully, he folded his arms
and stood erect.

The corporal gently placed the folded arms down at the man's side. "It
is well not to cover one's heart," he said. "Death will be very quick."

The Russian bowed his head gravely. "I am ready," he said.

"Ready, men! Aim! Fire!"

As the smoke drifted away, the Russian looked upward an instant, with a
smile on his bronzed face; then, murmuring "At--the--Czar's--command!"
he fell, dead.

Day by day, through the fierce summer heats of June and July, the
Japanese strengthened their hold upon lower Manchuria, and tightened the
cordon about Port Arthur.

Nanshan Hill and Motien Pass on the east were carried with the bayonet.
Kinchow had already fallen, the fire of the Japanese fleet annihilating
the Russian batteries in a two-days battle.

When the great Corliss wheel was set up and the massive machinery
"assembled" at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia, the maker
refused to start his engine for a trial before the Exposition was
officially opened.

"It will run," he said, "and run smoothly and perfectly. Every part is
exact; figures cannot lie."

It was a great risk to take, but the event proved that the manufacturer
was right. When the electric signal announced the formal opening of the
Fair, steam was let on. The huge piston of the Corliss engine started;
the enormous wheel--the largest ever made, up to that time--began to
revolve, and in a moment every polished rod and valve and wheel in the
great engine was doing its part, running the entire machinery of the
hall and performing its work without jar or noise, as smoothly as a
child's water-wheel in a wayside brook.

So operated the wondrous, complex machine of the Japanese military
system, from the first mobilisation in Tokio, through the hurry and risk
of transportation across the inner sea, and in movement after movement,
battle after battle, in a country far removed from home. Field
telephones kept the commanders in touch with advanced forces; the
commissary department fulfilled its duties like clock-work; Kuroki,
Oyama, Nodzu, Nogi, moved regiments and divisions to and fro like pieces
upon a gigantic chess-board.

The heat was now terrible. More than once a whole battalion rushed into
a river to drink, under the full sweep of the enemy's fire. Still the
resistless army of small brown men swept onward, marching through fields
of Chinese corn, winding along narrow defiles, holding firmly every
point of vantage gained.

As the end of August drew near it was evident that the two mighty armies
must meet. Minor battles had been fought, and skirmishes had been of
almost daily occurrence throughout the campaign, but the vast hordes of
armed men from the East and West had not yet been pitted against each
other. The time had come at last, and the civilised world held its
breath.

The Russian army lay strongly entrenched at Liaoyang, an old town on the
line of the railroad between Port Arthur and Harbin. The Japanese had
been pouring troops into the peninsula for months, a portion called the
Third Army gathering around Port Arthur, under General Nogi, the
remainder pressing northward on the heels of the retreating enemy. The
objective of the First, Second, and Fourth Armies was Liaoyang. The
supreme command of the Japanese forces was now entrusted to Field
Marshal Marquis Oyama, who had commanded ten years before, in the war
against China.

The three armies, having overcome every obstacle, were in touch before
Liaoyang. They formed a huge horse-shoe, with its ends resting on the
Taitse River, on the south bank of which stood Liaoyang. The Russians
formed an inner horse-shoe in a similar position. On each side were over
two hundred thousand men, nearly half a million human beings, all
animated with the one desire to kill!

On the morning of August 30th, at the first grey of dawn a puff of white
broke upward from the Japanese lines and a shell, filled with shrapnel,
flew screaming across the peaceful plain--a dread messenger to announce
the beginning of the longest and greatest battle the world had ever
known.

One battery after another opened fire, throughout the entire front of
nearly forty miles. Under cover of the artillery attack the Russians
charged furiously, often driving the Japanese before them at the point
of the bayonet; but no sooner was a company or a regiment annihilated
than another took its place, and was hurled against the foe. Positions
were taken and retaken. The carnage was terrible. Never in the world's
history had such enormous masses of men thrown their lives away with
utter abandon. On each side a thousand cannon thundered from morning
till night. At noon of the second day a slow rain began to fall,
transforming the plain into a quagmire, crossed and recrossed by endless
trains of men, a part charging toward the front with wild shouts of
defiance, a part halting, crawling, limping, or lying in carts, seeking
the hospitals, where their ghastly wounds could be treated. When the
second night fell it was reported in every capital in both hemispheres
that after two days of desperate fighting Kouropatkin had gained a
decided advantage.

Fred Larkin was in his element. Dashing to and fro on a shaggy little
Siberian pony, he gathered news as if by instinct. His experience in the
Spanish-American War served him in good stead, and he not only knew what
deductions to draw from certain movements on both sides, but what
information was most desired by his paper and the great reading public
at home. In Boston the crowds in lower Washington Street read on the
bulletin boards the despatches he dashed off in his note-book and sent
from the Liaoyang telegraph office after they had been duly censored.

Late in the afternoon on the second day of the battle he was making his
way back to the town across the miry fields south of Liaoyang. The
shaggy pony shook his mane and snorted as the rain fell, but was too
tired to trot.

"Tough day, pony," said Fred, who himself was so used up with his
exertions that he could hardly sit upright in the saddle. "Never mind,
old boy. In half an hour you will be in your stable, munching oats. You
shall have an extra good supper for the hard work you've--hallo! be
careful!"

The pony had wandered a little from the main road, which the steady
stream of hospital and commissary waggons had made well-nigh impassable,
and Fred had allowed him to pick out his own path across the plain so
long as his general direction was right. The little animal now
interrupted him by shying violently at an object upon which he had
almost trampled. Peering down Fred saw a soldier stretched out upon the
sodden ground. At first he thought the man was dead, but looking more
closely he saw the soldier's hand move slightly, as if to ward off a
blow.

"Poor chap!" said Fred, whose kind New England heart the horrors of war
had by no means hardened, "I won't hurt you. Are you wounded?"

As the man did not reply, the rider dismounted for a closer examination
of the prostrate soldier. Then he uttered an exclamation of pity. It was
evident that the man had been struck--probably by a fragment of a
shell--and a terrible wound inflicted upon his head. How he had managed
to crawl from the firing line as far as this spot, Larkin could not see.
It was plainly impossible for him to live. Fred mustered up what little
Russian he could command and spoke gently to the poor fellow, whose life
was going fast.

"What is your name?" he asked. "Can I do anything for you?"

"Ivan--Ivanovitch," gasped the soldier, making a great effort to speak.
"I do not--know--I do not understand--I am a--soldier of--Russia--It was
the command--the Little Father--ah-h!"

He spoke no more, but lay quiet and silent, his white, boyish face,
upturned to the slow rain. Fred opened his military coat, and laid his
hand upon Ivan's breast. The ikon was there, treasured to the last; but
the heart no longer beat. At the Little Father's command, Ivan
Ivanovitch, like thousands of his comrades, not knowing why, not
understanding, but faithful to the last, had given up his home, his dear
ones, his life.

With a long sigh Fred drew the flap of the young soldier's coat over the
still face, remounted his pony, and rode on towards Liaoyang.

He found the town in a state of wild confusion, with heavy carts
rumbling through the ill-made streets, crowds of wounded men on their
way to the hospitals and the trains for Mukden; refugees clamouring at
the railroad station, householders removing their goods, and thousands
of people hurrying to and fro like ants in a breached ant-hill. With
much difficulty the reporter got a brief dispatch through to the
_Bulletin_, and sought a well-earned rest at his lodgings near the
station.

Night after night the cannon thundered, and day after day the battle
raged. The Russian front was now crowded in from thirty miles to less
than eight. At great risk Oyama resolved to divide his army, and attempt
a flanking movement, which proved successful. On the seventh day of the
battle, Kuroki threw a strong force across the Taitse, ten miles above
the town. This movement turned the scale. Kouropatkin gave orders to
fall back on Mukden.

Larkin, meanwhile, was doing the work of half a dozen reporters and a
Good Samaritan besides. He took his place beside the surgeons and
nurses, whenever he could leave the firing line, and laboured by the
hour, caring for the wounded, especially the Chinese who suffered the
fate of those caught between two conflicting forces. The losses on both
sides had been fearful, and the amount of ammunition expended almost
incredible. In one day of the battle the Russian artillerists reported
one hundred thousand shots fired.

Fred was assured at headquarters, on the day of Kuroki's flank movement,
that in any case Liaoyang would not be evacuated for forty-eight hours;
so he toiled on, in good faith, making no special provision for his
withdrawal from the front, but intending to accompany the Russian army
in its retreat. The next morning what was his surprise, on emerging from
his lodgings, to find the town deserted by Kouropatkin's forces.
Japanese flags were already flying from almost every house and shop of
the Chinese inhabitants. Shells were bursting in the streets, and the
Japanese army was reported just outside the gates.

He hurried to the railway station, only to find that the last train had
gone. There seemed no way of escape, without crossing the fire-swept
zone in the rear of the retreating army. Fred reluctantly faced the
conclusion that he must return to the hospital and submit to inglorious
capture, if no worse, at the hands of the Japanese; and this when he was
ordered to "remain with the Russian army" by his own "Czar," the chief
of the _Daily Bulletin_. The reporter ground his teeth as he stood
irresolute, in a sheltering doorway. At that moment he happened to
glance upward, and a huge, ungainly object, showing above the low roofs
of the surrounding buildings, caught his eye. At first it meant nothing
to him. "The balloon section have run and left their big gas-bag behind
them," he said to himself mechanically. Throughout the fight a balloon
had hovered above each of the contending armies, the occupants spying
out the dispositions of the enemy's forces and telephoning from aloft to
the commanders' headquarters. It was evident that the Russians, startled
by the hurried orders to retreat, had obeyed so hastily as to leave
their charge behind, to fall into the hands of the Japanese.

A thought flashed across Fred Larkin's quick brain as he gazed upon the
swelling expanse of tawny silk. Quitting the doorway where he had taken
refuge from the bursting shells, and snatching a Japanese flag as he
ran, he made for the balloon. It was suspended over a small square, held
down by a strong hemp cable. To spring into the car was the work of a
moment. He drew his knife and was about to sever the rope when a shriek
rang out from a neighbouring street and a man was seen running toward
the square, pursued by half a dozen Chinamen.

"Help! Help! They'll murder me!" screamed the man, looking about wildly
as he ran.

His eye fell upon Fred, in the balloon, and at the same moment the
reporter recognised him, disguised, mud-stained, and dishevelled as he
was.

"Stevens!" exclaimed Larkin, stooping to cut the moorings. Then a
better impulse came over him. "Jump in, man!" he shouted. "It's our only
chance to get out of town, if that's what you want!"

Stevens recoiled at the sound of Fred's voice, and his pursuers, seeing
the daring reporter standing over the fugitive with a drawn knife,
hesitated a moment.

"Get in! Get in!" reiterated Fred, seizing the shaking coward by the
collar and fairly dragging him over the side of the wicker basket. "I
won't hurt you!"

"Wh-where are you going?" stammered the renegade, sinking down in the
bottom of the car.

"We'll decide that point later," said Fred, sawing away at the rope. "If
a shell hits our ship before we've cast off, we shall stay right here;
and from the looks of your excited friends there, the place would
probably prove unhealthy for--Ah! Here we go!"

The last strand parted and the great balloon soared swiftly above the
town. A distant Japanese artillerist trained his gun upon it, but the
shot passed below, and a moment later the air-ship was out of range,
mounting toward the clouds and swept by a strong west wind directly over
the battle-field.



CHAPTER XIX.

AMONG THE CLOUDS.


At the very moment when the adventurous correspondent of the Boston
_Daily Bulletin_ was making his escape from Liaoyang, a motley crowd of
Koreans, Chinese coolies, Japanese, and Europeans were gathered upon the
platform of the railway station in Chemulpo, waiting for the Seoul train
to start. Tidings of the great battle had reached the port and the
announcement of the decisive victory of Japan, and the evacuation of the
city by the Russians, had set the people in a frenzy of delight, real or
assumed.

Distinguished by their erect bearing and bright naval uniforms two young
men pushed their way through the throng and took their places in a
first-class carriage on the train.

"Whew!" said Bob Starr, pulling off his cap and wiping his forehead,
"this is about as hot as Key West and St. Louis rolled into one. How
soon does the train start, Liddon?"

"In about five minutes," replied the dignified young officer of the
_Osprey_, cool and calm as ever. "Don't complain of the heat, brother,
until you've tramped through the interior of Luzon in July."

The two messmates had applied for and obtained leave to run up to Seoul
and do a little sight-seeing as well as some shopping. It was believed
that the ship would be ordered home soon, and every officer on board
wanted some little knick-knacks from the heart of Korea. Bob and "Doc."
Liddon, therefore, had half a dozen commissions to execute at the
capital, as well as their own purchases to make.

"Now," said the midshipman, leaning back in his seat by the open window
as the train began to move, "let's have a few statistics on Korea, old
man."

"What do you want to know about it, youngster?" smiled Liddon, who was
well used to this sort of appeal.

"Oh, I don't know enough about the place to ask questions," rejoined his
companion languidly. "What is there interesting about it, anyway?"

"Well, perhaps the most interesting feature of the history of this
country has been, up to a very recent date, its exclusiveness," said
Liddon. "You know Korea has always been called 'The Hermit Kingdom.'"

"How big is Korea, anyway?" interrupted Bob, gazing out at the tawny
waters of the river Hang-kang.

"Almost exactly the size of Minnesota--or, say, the size of New
England, New Jersey, and Maryland. With the sea on three sides, and an
uninhabited wilderness on the fourth, this independent little affair has
been able to keep out foreigners, up to a very recent day."

"Independent? I thought China----"

"Oh, China holds a sort of suzerainty or protectorate over Korea, but
practically it has governed itself. The King, or Sultan, or whatever he
calls himself, has always been held sacred--to touch him with an iron
weapon was sure death. Of late years foreign merchants have gained a
foothold in the country, and travellers have visited it. You know Wiju,
at the mouth of the Yalu, was declared an open port only last February."

"What's the religion hereabouts?"

"Mostly Confucianism. Catholic missionaries have made a tremendous
struggle to introduce Christianity, and their history has been a long
series of martyrdoms. Why, in 1866, there was a great massacre of native
Christians, and nearly ten thousand perished."

"That finished the matter, I suppose?"

"Not much. There are supposed to be at least forty-five thousand Roman
Catholic Christians in Korea to-day. Just what will become of them if
the country goes to Japan, or is divided up among the big Powers,
nobody knows. The Koreans, by the way, have a standing army of seventeen
thousand men, trained and drilled by European officers."

With talk of this sort, and various other statistics relating to the
Hermit Kingdom, time passed rapidly, and the learned young ensign was
still lecturing when the train rolled into the station at Seoul.

The two officers strolled up the shady side of the main street, and soon
espied some curios from which they determined to select mementos of this
strange city.

"We ought to have some change," said Bob. "I've nothing but English
gold. Suppose I get this shopkeeper to give me Korean money for half a
dozen sovereigns?"

"All right," agreed Liddon, with a twinkle in his eye which the other
did not see. "He'll be glad to have the gold, no doubt, and will cheat
you a little, but that won't matter."

"How can I make him understand what I want?" queried the midshipman,
standing before the Korean helplessly, with the money in his hand.

"I guess I can arrange it," said Doc. Liddon gravely. "I happen to know
the word for small change in this country. Hulloa, you! _Sapeke!_" The
ensign held out the gold as he spoke, and let it clink.

The man nodded twenty times, repeating "_Sapeke! Sapeke!_" and calling
three or four coolies, gave them an order, despatching them in different
directions. Then he gently drew out the American's watch, and pointing
to the open face, held out five fingers.

"That means he'll have the change ready in five minutes, I suppose,"
said Liddon.

"Of course, just as they'd do at home. Sent round to the bank for it,
probably. Let's walk on a bit, and come back here when the time's up."

They indicated on the watch what their plans were, and with many smiles
and nods and amiable gestures on both sides the officers proceeded on
their way.

There was not much to see in Seoul, after all. The buildings were for
the most part miserable little one-story affairs, built of wood, clay,
and rice-straw. Some of the meanest dwellings were thatched, but in
general this primitive protection had given place to tiles placed in
rows along the joints of the boards forming the roof.

"Let's go back and get our pocketful of change," remarked Starr. "Then
we'll call on the minister, hurry up our shopping, and get back to the
ship. It's too hot to linger in this proud capital all day. I never was
cut out for a hermit, anyway."

On the way back the queer expression returned to Liddon's face, but he
said nothing until they reached the shop. Then he gave one look at Bob's
countenance and burst into a roar of laughter.

Bob was speechless. There on the floor lay his change, surrounded by
perspiring coolies. It consisted of about ten bushels of copper coins,
each punched in the middle and strung on a wire. The four labourers must
have worked hard to get it there within the allotted time.

"Well, this beats me!" exclaimed the midshipman at length. "Is this all
mine?"

"Every _sapeke_ of it," said Liddon gleefully. "Put it in your pocket
and jog along, son!"

Fortunately an interpreter, attracted by the naval uniforms, happened to
be near, and with much difficulty the shopkeeper was made to understand
that but a small portion of the mountain of "cash" would be needed.
Purchases were made, at exorbitant prices; a pound or two of the coins
preserved for keepsakes, and the visitors departed.

"For fifteen minutes I've felt like Rockefeller," said Bob sadly. "I
never shall have so much money again. It's a dream!"

"When a fellow tells his very best girl, in Seoul, that she's worth her
weight in specie, it isn't much of a compliment, eh, Bob?" laughed
Liddon.

"Equivalent to valuing her at about thirty cents, I suppose," sighed the
disconsolate midshipman. "What a copper mine this place is! It beats
Helena, Montana, all out!"[4]

They paid their visit of respect to the American minister, who insisted
on their lunching with him, and laughed heartily over Bob's financial
experience. Late in the afternoon the officers returned to Seoul by
train, and were glad enough to reach the deck of the _Osprey_, fanned by
the cool breezes of the Yellow Sea.

As they distributed the gifts they had brought, and recounted their
adventures in the Korean capital, while Dave, Staples, and Dobson
shouted at the midshipman's woful face when the "temporary Rockefeller"
was described, they little guessed what was befalling their old friend
the war correspondent, whom we left in company with the renegade
Stevens, running away with one of General Kouropatkin's war balloons.

Larkin's first movement, as they rose above the roofs of Liaoyang, was
to throw out a whole bagful of ballast, with plenty of which the
air-ship was fortunately stocked. The two men crouched low in the
basket to avoid stray bullets from the victorious Japanese army, and in
ten minutes they were out of all danger from that source. Fred had made
more than one ascension, in a professional capacity, from Boston Common,
and felt quite at ease as the swelling bag above his head bore him
farther and farther from the scene of the late battle. Not so Stevens.
He continued to crouch in the bottom of the wicker car, and his teeth
fairly chattered with fright.

"Come, come, old chap," said Larkin cheerfully, "we're all right now.
It's only a question of making a safe landing somewhere in the rear of
the Jap army. I'm sorry to leave my friends the Muscovites, but needs
must when the wind drives. I wish the inventors would hurry up with
their dirigible balloons! Sit up, man, and take in this view. You may
never have such a chance again."

The panorama spread out beneath them was indeed a wonderful one. The
wind, following the direction of the mountain range, was now sweeping
them rather to the south than to the east, and at a height of about a
mile the balloon passed swiftly over lower Manchuria with its fair
streams, valleys and cornfields. Here and there a blur of smoke
indicated a military encampment, and long trains of waggons could be
made out, conveying stores to the front or wounded men toward the sea.
The earth presented the odd appearance of a shallow cup, rather than of
a convex surface. Now and then the landscape was blotted out by a
low-lying cloud which, travelling in a different current, was quickly
left behind. Once or twice, from a cottony puff of smoke, Larkin guessed
that his big aërial craft was a target for Japanese riflemen; but no
bullet came near to corroborate his surmise.

Stevens, meanwhile, recovered nerve enough to sit upright and peer once
or twice over the edge of the car; but each time he sank back with a
shudder.

"I always was giddy in high places," he muttered, resuming his former
abject attitude.

Larkin glanced at the pallid face, and felt a touch of pity for the
miserable fellow.

"No wonder the navy didn't suit you," he said. "You look half sick,
Stevens. Anything special the matter with you? Hungry?"

"No," said the other, his teeth chattering again. "I don't want anything
to eat. I haven't been well lately. Those men who were after me--" He
stopped abruptly and turned so white that Fred thought he was going to
faint. Recovering himself with an effort, Stevens continued: "This
balloon business is getting on to my nerves, I guess. Isn't it about
time to think of landing?"

"Landing!" exclaimed the other. "Not by any means. We must put a little
more real estate between us and Oyama's front before we get down to
terra firma. But we're going like an express train now, unless I am
mistaken. It's hard to judge our speed, because we're just drifting with
the current. I can't say I like so much southing, either. As near as I
can tell, we're just about following the line of the railway. See--there
it is--that long straight line!"

But Stevens did not care to look.

"Why were those fellows chasing you, if I may ask?" demanded the
reporter, settling himself to a comfortable position in the car.

"They--I don't know--well," said Stevens desperately, "if you must know,
they were Boxers."

Larkin started. "What, the society that started the trouble with the
missionaries two or three years ago, and pretty nearly did up the
foreign embassies in Pekin?"

The renegade nodded. "I had time on my hands," he muttered, "and--and
interested myself in their private matters. I meant to have made a good
thing of it in Pekin."

"I see," said Fred, looking at his companion with unmitigated disgust.
"At your old tricks, of course. I'm not sure that I wouldn't have
started without you, if I had known."

"Then it's fortunate for me that you didn't," said the spy, with a
sardonic grin. "Don't let's quarrel, Larkin. You've saved my life, and
I won't forget it. It was a shabby trick I played you, in Port Arthur,
but I really didn't mean you any harm. All I wanted was time to get out
of the city."

"All right," said Fred lightly. "I'm not a man to hold a grudge; but I
wouldn't try any more tricks of the sort, my lad. They get tiresome,
after a while. Look here, I'm hungry, and we haven't investigated the
commissary department of the balloon corps. Here goes!"

Dipping into a pile of packages at the bottom of the car, he brought up
several cans of condensed beef and some hard biscuit, which had
evidently been abandoned in the hurried flight from Liaoyang. There were
also a couple of bottles of _vodka_, or Russian whiskey, upon which
Stevens seized eagerly. Larkin, however, wrested them from his grasp and
threw them overboard.

"I hope they won't do any damage when they strike," he said, "but they
certainly won't do any in this ship, while I'm captain. No _vodka_ for
you, my friend. What's this--_Limonade gazenze_--ah, that fills the
bill! Bottled lemonade, straight from Paris--two pints for each of us.
Have some?" And he opened a can of beef and passed over a bottle of
lemonade.

Stevens scowled, but accepted the situation, and the two made a hearty
breakfast.

They had just flung over the empty can and bottles when they heard the
report of a musket.

"I don't like it!" shouted Fred, springing up so quickly that the basket
rocked, and the spy turned pale again. "While we were eating we've been
dropping, I'm sure I don't know why, unless there's a rip somewhere
aloft. We aren't more than a thousand yards up, and they're taking pot
shots at us from a Jap encampment. Out goes some more ballast!"

He suited the word by emptying a bag of sand, and the balloon rose at
once, as he ascertained by throwing out a few scraps of paper, which
seemed to drop like lead.

One or two more shots were fired, but the balloon quickly swept out of
range, as before. The aeronauts had not gone far, however, when it
became evident that they were again slowly sinking.

"I don't like it," said Fred, shaking his head as he threw out another
sand-bag. "Some of these bullets have punctured the old bag aloft, as
sure as you live."

"I thought you said you meant to land somewhere in the rear of the main
Japanese lines!" exclaimed Stevens apprehensively. "What's the use of
keeping up so high?"

"What I really want now is steam enough to take us right across the gulf
to Chefoo," answered the other. "We're heading straight for it," he
added, consulting a small compass that dangled from his watch-guard. "If
we can fetch that port there'll be no more trouble. But I don't like
this sinking. It looks as if we had sprung a leak somewhere, and, don't
you see, man? there's only one bag of ballast left!"

In the course of an hour they had descended to within a few hundred feet
of the ground, and Fred reluctantly parted with the last pound of sand.
The sea could now be plainly discerned, to the southward.

"Look--there are two of Togo's ships!" exclaimed Larkin. "Oh, what a
sight! Don't I wish I had a good kodak!"

Again the balloon dropped, and Fred flung out every movable object in
the car. They shot up a thousand feet, but the relief was of short
duration.

"O for a couple of hundred-weight of ballast!" groaned Fred. "Or a gale
of wind to take us over the water!"

Once more the balloon gently descended. The breeze seemed to be dying
out. They were now directly over the outworks of the Japanese forces
besieging Port Arthur.

Bang! bang! rang out the guns, far below. The great gas-bag quivered and
began to drop faster.

"They've hit us again!" said Fred. "We're in for it now. The question
is, whether we shall get as far as the town. Somehow I don't fancy
dropping down on our brown friends there, they're so handy with their
rifles. Let's see what effect our ensign will have on them!"

[Illustration: THE END OF THE TRAITOR.]

He unrolled the Japanese flag he had caught up in running through the
streets of Liaoyang, and displayed it as prominently as possible; but
this only seemed to exasperate their assailants, who now were keeping up
a regular fusilade.

Suddenly Stevens gave a scream. "I'm hit! I'm hit!" he shrieked,
clasping his hand to his breast. Springing to his feet, he tottered, and
before Fred could seize his unfortunate companion the spy lost his
balance and fell backward over the side of the car.

Lightened of his weight the balloon made one more leap toward the
clouds, crossed the outer trenches and forts of Port Arthur, and with a
graceful sweep descended in the heart of the city. A hundred hands
seized the wicker car and the rope, and Fred Larkin, still shocked and
benumbed by the terrible fate that had overtaken his comrade,
mechanically climbed out and stood, half-dazed, on the pavements of the
very square where he had met Stevens three months before.

A babel of voices greeted him, but before he could explain his
involuntary descent the Japanese flag caught the eye of an officer who
had joined the crowd, and the reporter was roughly seized, blindfolded,
and hurried away to a prison cell.

Early in the evening he was visited by two or three officials of rank,
who had him searched and even stripped, for evidence of guilt.
"Amerikansky," said Fred, over and over, seemingly without effect.

The next morning, however, he was told that he was to be taken before
General Stoessel, who would judge his case. The tones of the officer
making this announcement were much more bland than on the preceding
evening, and the prisoner was given a good breakfast before taking up
the march, blindfolded, across the city.

The walk itself seemed interminable. Down one hill and up another, along
street after street, stumbling over rough pavements, with the roar of
cannon constantly in his ears, and an unpleasant consciousness that a
shell might fall in his immediate vicinity at any time, Fred was
conducted into the great man's presence.

General Stoessel recognised him at once, and asked a good many
questions, all of which Larkin answered promptly and fully, except those
pertaining to the Japanese forces and defences.

"Look here, General," he said, "I've been called a spy more than once
since I landed in your town. Now if I tell you all I know about the
Japanese, you will have good reason to believe that I shall carry
information to them, on leaving Port Arthur, concerning the Russians.
This would fairly rank me as the mean thing I have been called--a spy.
Not a word do you get from me, sir, regarding the Japs."

"But what if you never leave Port Arthur? Why shall I not order you hung
at once?"

"Because, General Stoessel," said Fred Larkin, calmly, "I am an American
citizen, innocent of any offence against your country; a journalist,
pursuing his profession, and representing a friendly nation."

The bluff soldier gnawed his moustache. "You shall not stay here," he
said with decision. "I do not want any newspaper men in Port Arthur."

"I'm ready to go," said Fred, "the moment you open the door. My arrival
was unintentional, and----"

"Restore his papers, and send him to Chefoo," said the General, rising.

"How shall I go, General?" asked Fred.

"In a junk. You must take your chances of safe arrival. And mind, sir,
you must not come here again. Twice is enough!"

"I certainly will not," said Fred, "if I can help it."

General Stoessel asked a few more questions concerning the reporter's
escape from Liaoyang.

"It was like a crazy American," he said, more good-humouredly. Then he
shook hands with Fred. "I hope you will have a safe voyage to Chefoo.
Farewell!"

With the same precautions against the correspondent's discovering
anything of value to report outside the walls, he was led back across
the city and the next morning he left Port Arthur in a _droschka_, or
light road-waggon, and--still blindfolded--was driven to a plain near
Loisa Bay. At this point the bandage was removed from his eyes and he
scrambled down a hilly path to the shore, where he was locked up in a
small stone hut until late in the afternoon, when--blindfolded again--he
was led over the beach to a sampan and taken off to a junk, one of three
which were getting under way--a huge, dirty craft, like that in which he
had sailed on his outward trip.

A Russian naval officer and boat crew accompanied him to the outer
roads, where they said good-bye, entered their own boat and returned to
the city. Fred noticed, the bandage having now been finally removed,
that the _Czarevitch_, _Retvizan_, and some other damaged ships had been
patched up and were changing anchorage under their own steam.

The next morning the daring reporter once more set foot on the dock at
Chefoo.

FOOTNOTE:

[4] Since this paragraph was written a despatch in the daily press of
the United States has announced that a short time ago a syndicate of
American capitalists was formed to buy up the "cash" used by the natives
of China, and sell it for the pure copper used in the coins. In this way
enormous profits have been made, it is said, by the promoters of the
scheme, and the larger cities of the Empire have been almost stripped of
small change.



CHAPTER XX.

THE DOGGER BANK AFFAIR.


In the middle of September the following startling despatch appeared in
the newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic:


     "ABERDEEN, SCOTLAND, Sept. 16.--A passenger who arrived to-day on
     board a coasting steamship reports that two Japanese officers and
     nine sailors came on board the vessel from London.

     "As soon as she arrived at Aberdeen they jumped into a small boat
     and proceeded at once to a mysterious low-lying craft in the
     offing, apparently a torpedo-boat, which, on receiving the men,
     steamed seaward.

     "It is believed here that the intention of the Japanese is to lie
     in wait for the Baltic fleet."


In order to understand what Oto Owari and a brother officer were doing
in the North Sea at the time when the Associated Press gave out this
startling piece of news, we must return to the day when the battle-ship
_Petropavlovsk_ "turned turtle" in the bay of Korea, and, attacked by
some mysterious agency which was generally supposed to be either a
Russian or Japanese submerged contact-mine, sank with nearly every soul
on board.

The _Octopus_, which had made its way under cover of the darkness of the
preceding night to the western extremity of the Yellow Sea, and was
lying in wait for its huge adversary, had remained awash until daylight.
Then, closing the main hatch, she sank until only the end of the camera
projected above water. This easily escaped observation, looking, as it
did, like a bit of floating wreckage. According to directions from his
admiral, Oto made no move to attack the Russian ships when they were
coaxed out of their safe harbour by the wily Japanese, it being deemed
best not to risk a hasty assault at a time when the enemy were fully
alert and in the best condition. In case their squadron should escape
from the Japanese force outside--vastly superior to the Russians--and
should retreat towards Port Arthur, then the _Octopus_ was to strike its
blow, quickly and decisively.

The result is known, although naval authorities still dispute as to the
cause of the _Petropavlovsk's_ destruction. Oto, conning the _Octopus_
through the camera, observed the battle-ship returning to port after the
brief conflict in the open sea. He touched an electric knob and the
submarine quietly sank to a further depth of six feet. Being now
entirely out of sight, the terrible war-engine approached without
difficulty to within less than a hundred yards of the Russian ship,
discharged her torpedo with unerring aim, and accomplished her work. The
waters in the immediate vicinity of the huge victim were violently
agitated as she careened in her dying agony, and the _Octopus_ herself,
lingering near to inflict another blow if necessary, was in danger of
being drawn into the vortex made by the battle-ship as she went down.
The little submarine reversed her engine quickly enough, however, to
escape sharing the fate of her prey, and swiftly glided away to rejoin
the Japanese fleet. The agent of destruction, known only to the admiral
and the heads of the War Office, was not disclosed in Tokio, as it was
deemed best that the Russian Admiralty and the world at large should
know nothing of the terrible power Japan was wielding beneath the waves.

Oto remained on duty in command of the _Octopus_ for several weeks
longer, and was then detached for a more complicated task, one requiring
an extraordinary exercise of intelligence and adaptability, as well as
courage.

It was known that the Russians were preparing a formidable fleet at
home, to take the place of the war-ships that had been put out of action
in the East, and to establish the Muscovite power upon the seas. If
this could be done, it was conceded in military circles that Japan's
fate would be sealed. With her immense army cut off from supplies and
from retreat, the Russian ships could ravage the coast of the Island
Kingdom, and the army in Manchuria would be compelled to come to terms.
It was all-important to prevent the sailing of the Baltic fleet if
possible, or to damage it after it had started on its long voyage.

The Russian secret-service system has often been called the most
effective and far-reaching in existence; but the Japanese have learned
the methods of their huge neighbour, and with Oriental wit and alertness
have surpassed their teacher. At about this time several accidents
happened in the Russian navy yards at the head of the Baltic. One ship
suddenly sank at her moorings; another was severely damaged by an
inexplicable explosion; other strange mishaps befel the newly organised
fleet before they left their moorings. Everybody read in the newspapers
the reports of these "accidents," and everybody was puzzled to account
for them--everybody, except the authorities at Tokio!

In spite of every hindrance and disaster it became evident that the
fleet was nearly ready to sail, fully equipped and manned for the long
cruise which was to terminate, according to general expectation, in the
greatest naval battle the world had ever seen, should the fleet reach
Eastern waters.

Taking a swift liner across the Pacific, Oto, with ten picked men of the
Japanese navy, arrived at Vancouver on the 1st day of September. The
Canadian Pacific, Grand Trunk, and New York Central railways landed the
party in New York on the 7th; one week later they were in London. Here
they took a small steamer on a local line, reaching Aberdeen on the
15th. On reaching shore the men, most of whom were dressed as common
sailors in the merchant service, scattered among the water-side
boarding-houses, and, in a city where seamen of every nationality are an
every-day sight, excited little notice or comment.

Oto himself, having first consulted his note-book, repaired to a shop on
an obscure street where tea, carvings, and cheap Japanese curios were
sold. The shopkeeper eyed him sharply, glanced at a slip of rice-paper
which Oto presented, then made a low obeisance to the visitor, and
having locked the outer door of his shop and lowered the shades, led the
way to a narrow and steep stairway, murmuring in his own language: "I
break my bones to Your Excellency. Be honourably pleased to mount your
servant's despicable stairway to the private office."

What communications passed in that office cannot be known with
certainty. Oto, however, received from his countryman several
despatches, and entrusted to him a return message of utmost importance.
On the following day the nine Japanese met at the wharves by
appointment. A boat was awaiting them, manned by a crew of the same
nationality. In the offing the boat was taken up by a small,
rakish-looking black steamer which some observers declared to be a
torpedo-boat, others a "trawler," as the ships of the fishing-fleet were
called. Whatever its nature, the craft had heels, for, with black smoke
pouring from her short funnel, she soon disappeared to the northward.
There were those who averred that they had plainly seen the English
ensign flying over her taffrail.

Not to make a further mystery of this odd little vessel, it may be
stated at once that she was no other than the _Kiku_, or
"Chrysanthemum"; the same small war-ship which had hailed the _Osprey_
in mid-ocean in her outward voyage, and had received and restored by a
piece of incomparable naval dexterity the cabin steward of the gunboat.

The _Kiku_ was a combination of torpedo-boat and destroyer; that is she
was a small, swift steamer, fitted with both torpedo-tubes and
three-inch rifled guns. Her efficiency in attack would depend largely on
her speed, which was not less than twenty-six knots an hour, under
forced pressure. For this reason, too, she was used as a despatch-boat.
During the first six months of the war she was coaled and provisioned at
obscure ports, often making long runs to escape observation.

In the weeks that followed Oto's embarkation, the _Kiku's_ appearance
was changed in several important particulars. She now might easily have
passed for one of the trawling fleet that were familiar to every sailor
in the North Sea. Her torpedo-tubes were concealed by canvas shields,
painted black and so arranged that they could be easily drawn aside in
action. Her guns were rigged out of sight, and port-holes closed so
cleverly that only a trained eye would discover them, and that in broad
daylight. At night the _Kiku_ was an innocent fishing steamer, pursuing
her honest avocation under the protection of Great Britain.

The sailing of the Baltic fleet had been again and again announced, and
as often postponed. Vice-Admiral Rojestvensky knew that he was
surrounded by spies, and more than half guessed that danger was awaiting
him when once the home sea should have been left behind. At length, on
the 21st of October, the great battle-ships and cruisers weighed anchor
in earnest and started for Port Arthur. If that stronghold was to be
saved, the relieving force could no longer be delayed. The Japanese were
tightening their grip daily, and with an enormous sacrifice of life were
taking position after position. Kouropatkin had made a vain attempt to
march southward and succour the beleaguered fortress, and had been
beaten back. Relief could only come by sea. It was believed at St.
Petersburg that Stoessel could hold out until February, when
Rojestvensky's fleet would be at hand to effect a diversion and open the
harbour.

Slowly and majestically the ponderous ships moved onward, the lookouts,
doubled in number, watching every suspicious-looking craft, the officers
scanning the sea, from the bridges, with powerful marine glasses. Just
after sunset the fleet entered the North Sea and turned their massive
prows toward the south.

Between latitude 54° 10' and 57° 24' North, and longitude 1° and 6° 7'
East (from Greenwich), a huge sand-bank lies under the waters of the
North Sea, midway between England and Denmark. It is called the Dogger
Bank, and affords extensive fishing-grounds which are frequented by all
sorts of craft, from a wherry to a thousand-ton steamer. Here the Hull
fleet set their trawls, and, with lights twinkling from bow and
mast-head, toss and swing at their anchors through the long hours of the
night. Every pilot in the United Kingdom, and on the coasts of the
adjacent European states, knows of these trawlers and plots his course
to avoid them in crossing the North Sea. The admiral of the Baltic
fleet either forgot them entirely, or recklessly took the risk of their
lying in the path of his heavier ships.

As the night--an unusually dark one--of October 21st closed in, the Hull
fishermen were anchored as usual over the Dogger Bank. There were half a
dozen or more of them, and before midnight their number was increased by
one--a low, black hull like their own, which brought up just north of
the main group without attracting attention.

The lights of the _Kiku_--for the newcomer was no other than the
disguised destroyer--were made to conform exactly to those displayed by
the trawlers. No one could have taken her for a war-ship, with her big
fourteen-foot Whitehead torpedoes waiting to be unleashed behind their
canvas tompions.

Far away to the northward a light twinkled in the darkness; another, and
another.

"Slip the cable," ordered Oto quietly, not daring to recover his anchor
lest the noise of the chain and pawls should be heard. "Clear decks for
action!"

A low hum of voices sounded through the ship. Bare feet pattered to and
fro as the decks were cleared, the guns were run out, screens removed,
and ammunition hoisted. All this had been done in repeated drill until
the men knew exactly where to place their hands in the dim light
afforded by carefully shielded lanterns.

"Cast loose and provide!" "Load!"

The orders were in a strange tongue, but varied little from those
taught at the Annapolis Academy. Like some black kraken of old,
crouching for a spring at its approaching prey, the _Kiku_ silently
awaited the approach of the Baltic war-ships. Across the water from one
of trawlers came a rough sea-song from the English sailors at their
work.

Nearer and nearer came the great battle-ship leading the fleet, the
flag-ship of the vice-admiral. A much smaller vessel, corresponding in
class to the _Osprey_, scouted at a little distance to the west.

Suddenly a glare illumined the water. The scout's search-light was
turned full on the _Kiku_. Instantly the rattling report of the
gunboat's main battery roared out, followed by the heavier guns of the
battle-ship.

Rojestvensky, who, strange to say, had been below decks, now rushed to
the bridge, and caught sight of the black hulls of the trawlers.

"Fire into them! Sink them! Ahead full speed! They are torpedo-boats!"
he ordered without a moment's reflection.

The search-light of the flag-ship picked up a fishing steamer, and a
moment later a solid shot passed through the hull of the unfortunate
trawler, below the water-line, and she began to sink.

[Illustration: ON THE DOGGER BANK.]

A few more shots were fired wildly from the panic-stricken Russians,
but in five minutes it was all over. The fishing-fleet were miles
astern, and the battle-ships were furiously rushing from the scene of
the brief and inglorious action. One of the trawlers was sunk, two men
killed, and twenty wounded. This was the story that was brought to Hull
the next morning, and set every Englishman's blood boiling at the
reckless, needless disaster inflicted by Rojestvensky's ships.

What, meanwhile, had become of the _Kiku_? When the first gun was fired
and the shot struck the water beside her she slapped a steel bolt into
the transport _Kamschatka_, taking one of her funnels off neatly. The
enemy were too distant for torpedo work, and before the Japanese gunners
could determine where to fire (they had aimed hap-hazard at the
search-light of the scout, for the first shot), or in what direction to
steer for an attack at close quarters, a shell plumped into their
engine-room and exploded, killing four men and putting the ship
completely out of action. Another shot hulled the _Kiku_ and fatally
wounded three more of her crew. Oto, standing on the bridge and hitherto
unhurt, calmly gave orders to lower the boats. There was confusion in
the darkness, and the sudden calamity, and only one of the _Kiku's_ four
boats was in the water before the ship sank. Oto was one of the
half-dozen men who were picked up; every other on board went, with
their vessel, to the bottom of the North Sea.

Driven away from the trawlers by a fresh breeze, the Japanese survivors
headed their boat westward and pulled lustily. Early the next afternoon
they landed near Yarmouth and made their way to London. Their leader
knew where to send them, in that great city, to find friends, and within
a week they had shipped in various vessels for Japan. Oto himself,
having sent a cipher despatch to Tokio, took passage on a Cunarder for
New York, and was once more on board a ship in Togo's fleet in time to
witness the fall of Port Arthur.

To anticipate the course of this story, and complete that of the Dogger
Bank affair, it may be added that for a time war between Russia and
England seemed imminent. An agreement between the two Powers, however,
was finally reached, by the terms of which an international inquiry was
to be held, conducted by a Commission of naval officers of high rank,
one British, one Russian, one French, one American, and one to be
selected by these four. Evidence as to the presence of torpedo-boats on
the Bank was widely conflicting, but after many protracted meetings the
North Sea Tribunal, as it was called, finally announced its decision,
which was, briefly, that the Russians had not, in reality, been attacked
by torpedo-boats, and that the vice-admiral was not justified in firing
into the fishing-fleet; that, however, "under the circumstances
preceding and following the incident there was such uncertainty
concerning the danger to the squadron as to warrant Rojestvensky in
continuing his route." They did not positively condemn the Russians for
firing, but they decreed that they should pay an indemnity to England,
for the property destroyed, and to aid the families of the killed and
wounded fishermen.

There was much criticism upon this verdict throughout the countries
represented upon the Commission; but it was indeed impossible for the
judges to determine where the fault really lay. The trawlers testified,
one and all, that there was no torpedo-boat present. Certain officers of
the Russian ships, on the other hand, testified point-blank to having
seen the hostile craft, and the commander of the _Kamschatka_ stoutly
alleged that he had been fired upon by a torpedo-boat, and had signalled
the fact to the flag-ship, at the outset of the affair.

On the whole, the best comment upon the verdict was made by Bob Starr,
on the _Osprey_, when he read the despatch in the papers.

"It reminds me of the Western jury," said the midshipman, "who knew the
prisoner well, and liked him too much to convict him; so they brought in
a verdict of 'Not guilty, but don't do it again!'"



CHAPTER XXI.

THE FALL OF PORT ARTHUR.


At about the date of the miscarriage of Commander Oto Owari's plans in
the North Sea, the regiment in which his old friend Oshima[5] commanded
a company was detached from Oyama's army of invasion and added to the
forces under General Nogi, besieging Port Arthur.

It will be remembered that Port Arthur was completely isolated on land
when the Second Japanese Army, under General Oku, captured Nanshan Hill,
in the latter part of May, 1904. On August 9th the Russians were driven
into their permanent works, the real siege beginning three days later,
when shells fell in the streets of the city for the first time.

The task before the small brown men of Nippon seemed an impossible one.
There were seventeen permanent forts to be taken, forty-two
semi-permanent improvised fortifications, two miles of fortified
Chinese wall, and a triple line of trenches over eight miles long. The
forts were so arranged that each was commanded by several others; and
the whole were manned and defended by some of the bravest soldiers the
world has ever seen.

"You are expected to do the impossible things," was the first order from
the Mikado to his troops in the field. The expectation was fulfilled;
the imperial edict was obeyed. Ten thousand men, in the face of a deadly
fire of shot and shell, trampled the word "impossible" under foot,
buried it beneath their torn and mangled bodies; and over them the
soldiers of Japan marched to victory.

Baron Nogi did not assume command in person until the siege had fairly
begun. He had two sons, Hoten and Shoten. Shoten fell on Nanshan Hill,
and his body arrived in Tokio on the day when his father was to sail for
Manchuria. "Delay the funeral," said the General to his wife, "until
Hoten and I are brought home to lie with Shoten." Hoten gave up his life
on the deadly ramparts of "203-Metre"; Nogi still lives--a man "with
face parchment-crinkled, brown like chocolate, with beard grey shaded
back to brown, eyes small and wide apart, perfect teeth, tiny, regular
nose and a beautiful dome of a head." So he is described by one who has
often stood in his presence. Twice conqueror of Port Arthur, he is a
mighty force in the Japanese army.

Within the city the Russian soldiers, and what was left of the civilian
population, kept up a brave front. The long hours were passed by the
ladies in making garments for the invalids. The hospitals, under the
care of the Red Cross, were beautifully kept, the laundry work being
done by poor women and the soldiers' wives, in place of the regular
"wash men," who had left months before. Every day in the week a military
band played in one or another of the hospitals; one day in the New
Russian town and one in the New Town. Mrs. Stoessel, the kind-hearted
wife of the commander-in-chief, visited the sick men, bringing such
dainties as the lessening fare of the fortress could furnish, and
speaking encouraging words. For every thousand invalids were thirty
trained nurses, in addition to volunteer helpers. Every day came a sad
procession, bringing wounded men in litters from the outer works. Every
day the shells fell in the doomed city. The streets were full of great
gaps, where they struck and exploded. Before October the Old Town was a
wreck.

Every three days the men at the front were relieved, and as their
comrades took their places the troops came marching back, singing
cheerfully, although there were many vacant places in their ranks. When
they overtook a litter with a dying comrade the songs would cease, and
crossing himself each man walked with bared head until he had passed the
brave fellow; then he donned his cap again and continued his song. Not a
man of them would admit that the Japanese could ever take Port Arthur.
Help would come from Kouropatkin or from the sea. So the days wore on,
the leaves fell, chill winter winds began to sweep over the gulf,
October gave place to November, and still the longed-for relief was
withheld; still the terrible artillery of the foe roared from the
surrounding heights and from the mighty battle-ships; and day by day the
thunder was louder, the hospitals filled, and the heart of the gallant
general grew heavy.

After the futile assault in August the Japanese settled down to the slow
process of mining and sapping. No one realised more fully than General
Nogi the tremendous task that was before him. Batteries and forts not
only commanded one another with their guns, but were connected by meshes
of barbed wire which must be cut in the face of a devastating fire
before the assailants could advance. In places these wires were charged
with electricity. When the cutters attempted to ply their nippers they
fell in their tracks, electrocuted. The outer slopes of the fortresses
were formed of slippery concrete, or of loose sand in which the
Japanese floundered and slid backward, while the Russian marksmen
picked them off with their rifles.

Buried in these formidable slopes were mines and torpedoes, some to be
exploded by the touch of an electric button, some by mere contact. These
hurled hundreds of the assailing troops into the air, torn and mangled.
Deep moats surrounded the earthworks, and were so constructed that they
could be raked by machine-guns. In at least one instance the moat was
filled with combustibles which were fired as soon as hundreds of
Japanese had leaped down into it. They were burned alive.

But every stratagem, every defence, every death-dealing manoeuvre of the
besieged was met and overcome by the relentless besiegers. To approach
the fortifications across the zone of fire they dug zig-zag trenches at
night, through which the troops, after great sacrifice of life, could
get within striking distance and carry this or that battery by sudden
assault. They tunnelled like moles, under the moats and through the
earthworks. It might take two days or two months to advance a hundred
feet, but the advance was effected.

When the soldiers of the two nations actually met, the scene was
terrible. As the opposing ranks drew near, the men tossed balls of
gun-cotton--an explosive to which powder is as a toy-cracker to a
twelve-inch turret gun--among the enemy. They screamed defiance. They
fought with swords, with bayonets, and finally, like wild beasts, with
claws and teeth. No savage tribes of Darkest Africa ever grappled in
more frightful conflict.

[Illustration: THE OSAKA BABIES.]

The Japanese set their hearts upon taking Port Arthur on the birthday of
their Emperor, October 29th, and the fiercest assault of the siege took
place that day. On the evening before, Captain Oshima rested with his
company in a trench which paralleled the defences of one of the
strongest of the Russian forts. Until late at night his men were busy
cleaning themselves as best they could, and changing their linen. They
were preparing for death. The Japanese must die spotless in body as well
as soul, to inherit eternal happiness. Oshima sat under a "bomb-proof"
prepared by placing timbers across the trench and covering them with
earth. He talked calmly with his line officers, and explained the plan
of the coming attack, as he had received it from headquarters.

At intervals came the sound of the heavy siege mortars, two miles away,
firing over their heads into Port Arthur. These huge eleven-inch guns
were affectionately dubbed "Osaka Babies," because they were built at
the Osaka arsenal in Japan. There were eighteen of them distributed
about Port Arthur. Each gun was emplaced on a concrete foundation eight
feet deep, which required three weeks to build. The shells used weighed
a quarter of a ton and each discharge cost Japan $400. The expense of a
six-hour bombardment was something over three hundred thousand dollars.

"The 'babies' are crying," observed Oshima drily, as he paused a moment
in his instructions. "To-morrow night--who of us will hear them?"

"To-morrow night," exclaimed a young lieutenant with enthusiasm, "they
will cry no more, unless it be for joy. The fortress will be ours!"

Oshima glanced at his junior officer from beneath his dark eyebrows, but
said nothing.

The night passed, and the morning of the Mikado's birthday dawned upon
the beleaguered city, upon the fair hill-tops and the rippling sea, upon
the stern, bearded faces of the defenders and the eager brown hordes
crouching in the trenches outside the fort.

Slowly the hours dragged past, the siege-guns dropping their shells into
the sand-slopes and tearing open great craters. Then shrapnel was hurled
at the parapets, a hundred shots a minute. Not a fort replied. As
silently as the Continental troops at Bunker Hill, the Russians awaited
the approach of their foe.

At last the signal was given. The little brown men swarmed out of their
trenches and up the fatal slope. Then at last the answer came, in a
blinding flash and stunning roar from the embrasures. When the smoke
cleared away not a living man was left in sight, save a few whose wounds
were not immediately fatal, and who lay in the hot sun helplessly
awaiting death.

Another onrush of the diminutive assailants, another crashing discharge
of artillery and rifle fire. A few survived, this time, and sheltered
themselves in the gaps made by bursting shells. Again a host of
assailants springing upward over the bodies of the fallen. Among them
were the men commanded by Oshima. The young lieutenant, escaping the
first fire and forgetting all caution, sprang ahead of the line, waving
his sword and shouting "_Banzai!_" He reached the ramparts and for an
instant stood erect upon them, a brave young figure against the blue
sky. Then he toppled over into the fort and was never seen again by his
comrades. Once more those who had not fallen burrowed in the sand-holes
until the final charge was ordered.

An Osaka shell had made a breach in the ramparts through which the
Russian rifles barked viciously. Oshima's company sprang toward the
opening, only to find it guarded by a bristling hedge of bayonets over
which the rear ranks were firing as regularly as on parade.

"Forward!" ordered Oshima, pointing to the breach with his sword.

A clump of Japanese soldiers sprang in front of the entrance and
dropped in their tracks, pierced by half a hundred bullets. Their places
were instantly taken by another squad, who reached the line of bayonets.
There was a fierce hand to hand fight for a minute. The opening was so
narrow that only a few could occupy it at the same time. These few,
overpowered, pierced by the lunging bayonets of the Russians, staggered
backward and fell, heaping the pile of slain before the redoubt. There
was an instant's hesitation--then a dozen brown men _dropped their
muskets_ and ran in directly upon the bayonets, which flashed in the
sunshine as they were driven home. Before they could be withdrawn from
the bodies of their voluntary victims the remainder of the Japanese
company sprang in over the bodies of their comrades and the Russian
defenders met the same fate. Five minutes later the flag of the sunrise
floated from two corners of the fort, and the ambulance corps spread out
over the outer _glacis_, succouring the few wounded who survived the
awful carnage.

Who were the gallant twelve who, like Arnold von Winkelried, sheathed
the bayonets in their breasts to disarm the foe and so afford an
entrance for their comrades? Generations of schoolboys have told upon
the platform how the brave Switzer fell:


     "'Make way for Liberty!' he cried!
     Made way for Liberty,--and died";


but few, save the keeper of the military archives of Japan, know the
names of the twelve heroes of Fort Keekwan.

The end was not yet. No sooner was the fort occupied by the Japanese
than the fire of two others was concentrated upon it. The victors were
in turn forced to evacuate that deadly enclosure, and plying their
spades busily, entrenched themselves just below the parapets.

So assault after assault was delivered, and the slain lay in heaps
inside the fortifications and without, and still Port Arthur was not
taken; but slowly and relentlessly the besiegers moved forward, a few
feet, a single earthwork, a point here and a point there being occupied,
always nearer the heart of the citadel.

The last stage of the defence began with the capture of 203-Metre Hill,
on November 20th, by which the Japanese secured a position from which
they could search out with their shells every nook and corner of the
inner harbour, where the last hope of the defenders, the remnant of
their proud "Port Arthur Squadron," had lain in comparative safety since
the actions in the earlier part of the war. The patched-up hulk of the
_Retvizan_ was sunk at her moorings. Again and again the other vessels
in the harbour were struck. The great Keekwan Mountain fort was at last
taken and held, and on December 30th the Japanese stormed the key of
the inner defences, Ehrlung fort, and put its weakened garrison of five
hundred men to the sword. The hospitals of the city were crowded and
medicines lacking.

On the last day of the year General Stoessel ordered the remaining
battle-ships and cruisers to be blown up, and the torpedo-boat
destroyers, with a transport containing eight hundred wounded, to make a
dash for Chefoo; all of which was successfully carried out.

January 1, 1905, dawned peacefully. The besiegers prepared themselves
for a final rush, before the contemplated horrors of which the civilised
world stood aghast. But it was not to be.

Early in the forenoon a man bearing a white flag was seen mounting the
parapets and approaching the Japanese lines. He was courteously received
and conducted to headquarters. An hour later cheers rent the air,
through all the trenches around Port Arthur. The city had capitulated.
General Stoessel had surrendered, to save his remaining half-starved,
emaciated, faltering but gallant troops from sure destruction. What it
cost that brave heart to speak the word, no one can tell. In the person
of her general, Russia knelt before the despised islanders and sued for
peace. It was a terrible humiliation to him, to the army, and to the
haughty Empire whose boast had been: "Russia never withdraws."

So ended the greatest siege, characterised by the highest art of warfare
and the uttermost personal bravery of line, rank and file on both sides,
that the world has ever known.

FOOTNOTE:

[5] The Captain Oshima who figures in these pages must not be mistaken
for Lieutenant-General Oshima, whose gallant services during the siege
of Port Arthur have already been chronicled in the daily newspapers of
America.



CHAPTER XXII.

ON BOARD THE "KUSHIRO."


After the fall of Port Arthur came a lull in the operations of both
sides, at sea and on land. The Russians were still busy entrenching
themselves in and south of Mukden, the ancient Manchurian capital. Here
Kouropatkin had made his stand after the disastrous defeat at Liaoyang.
Immensely strong works were thrown up, the defensive front made
apparently impregnable, and St. Petersburg breathed more freely,
although various indications of internal disorders gave the court
concern.

Oyama's men, meanwhile, prepared themselves as best they might for a
winter campaign. They burrowed in the hillsides and lived in dug-outs
and shanties almost within pistol shot of the Russian outposts. Supplies
of food and heavy clothing reached the army by the Yalu River and from
Newchwang over the railway to Liaoyang, whence they were forwarded in
waggons to the front. Oshima shared a small mud hut with two other line
officers. His men cheerily cooked their rations of rice over little
fires in front of their dug-outs. The scene would have resembled Valley
Forge, but that the troops were well clothed and under absolute
discipline.

On October 2nd, Kouropatkin had issued a proclamation declaring that the
period of retreats was over. "The army is now strong enough to advance
and compel the Japanese to do our will." This was the last effort to
relieve Port Arthur--a "forlorn hope" indeed. A battle ensued, the
carnage and desperate valour of which even exceeded those of Liaoyang.
The Russian losses alone were nearly seventy thousand, killed and
wounded. After ten days of terrific fighting they were forced back to
the Hun River, where they held their own and settled down for the
winter, with the Japanese facing them.

The Baltic fleet, under Vice-Admiral Rojestvensky, after the Dogger Bank
affair, resumed its voyage southward. It rounded the Cape of Good Hope
safely and proceeded to Nossi Bé, a port at the northern end of
Madagascar, where it was welcomed by the French with as much cordiality
as they dared to show their natural allies, without open breach of
neutrality. Here the vice-admiral spent many weeks, cleaning,
provisioning, and coaling his ships and drilling his crews.

A second squadron of ships, meanwhile, started from the Baltic for the
East, by way of the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, followed by still
a third division. No one, outside the inner circle of the Russian
Admiralty and War Office, knew where these three squadrons were to
unite. Their port of destination, after the capture of Port Arthur,
could, of course, be no other than Vladivostock, where two powerful
cruisers, disabled by Togo in August, had been repaired, and, with a few
smaller craft, still formed the nucleus of a fleet.

Commander Oto Owari had hastened at once to Tokio, on his unexpected
return from the North Sea, where his strategic attack upon the Baltic
ships had so signally failed. He was acquitted of blame, by a court of
enquiry, and was at once given the command of the torpedo-boat destroyer
_Kushiro_, then fitting for service in the Sasebo docks.

At this time O-Hana-San was a nurse in the military hospital at
Hiroshima. She knew of Oto's appointment and, if the truth be told,
dreaded the time when the _Kushiro_ should be put in commission. One day
early in March she wrote to her old playmate that she and another nurse
were to have a few days' leave of absence, and that one of the hospital
surgeons, with his wife, was to take them on an excursion to Sasebo to
see the navy yard--a privilege not often accorded, save to those in the
service. Oto was delighted with the prospect of seeing Miss Blossom,
and replied at once, inviting the whole party to inspect the _Kushiro_
and lunch with him on board; an invitation which was immediately
accepted.

It was a bright, cool day when the little nurses, wearing the scarlet
cross on their arms, traversed a great paved square in the navy yard
under escort of the good surgeon and his wife (also a nurse), and
enquired where the _Kushiro_ was lying. The marine who had been
questioned pointed out the three black funnels of the destroyer, and the
commander himself met the visitors at the gang-plank. The greetings
between himself and Hana were full of courtesy and entirely free from
any display of sentiment. When the two pairs of dark eyes met for an
instant, however, Miss Blossom dropped hers immediately and her cheeks
showed a warmer brown than usual. Oto led the way to his cabin and at
once offered refreshments to his guests. It was a cosy little place,
with its bunk, wardrobe, writing-table and book-case, and a tiny
connecting bathroom about four feet square.

The party now went on deck and to their amazement found that the boat
was moving swiftly through the harbour toward the sea.

"It is a little surprise I planned for you," explained the gallant
commander. "We were to make a short trial cruise of eighteen or twenty
miles at about this time, and as the water is smooth to-day I thought
you would enjoy the excursion."

It is needless to say that after the first sensation of fear the guests
were delighted, and even the timid nurses soon stood on the
quarter-deck, surveying the scene and drinking in the cool sea-breeze
with quiet happiness.

On a platform just in front of them was a six-pounder rifle, fairly
dazzling their eyes, so beautifully was it polished. Behind them was a
screen, sheltering the "after steering position."

Farther forward were the great "nostrils" of the boat, the
torpedo-tubes, and alongside them was a hatch which led to the chief
petty-officers' mess-room--a very small apartment, clean and shining
with constant scrubbing. No one can appreciate neatness better than a
hospital nurse, and Hana and her friends were loud in their praises of
the condition of these hidden niches in the vessel.

Going farther forward and looking down another hatch they saw the ship's
cook in his galley, hard at work preparing dinner. Here also was a
dynamo for supplying electricity for the search-light, which was placed
between the engine-room hatches on deck.

"How many men are there on board, Captain?" asked the surgeon.

"Our complement is fifty-two," replied Oto.

"How can they ever find room to sleep!" exclaimed Hana.

"Well, there's not much room to spare," laughed the commander, who
seemed very happy. "Some sling their hammocks and others sleep on the
lockers. We shall seldom take a long cruise, like those of the larger
ships. Here is a collapsible boat," he added. "We have two, you see, one
each side. They are hoisted out by that derrick on the mast, and if we
had to abandon ship they would take seventeen men each, as well as
provisions and water."

"What is this deck covered with, sir?"

"A kind of linoleum. It is found to answer our purpose much better than
wood, and is used also in regular torpedo boats. Here, by the way, are
our two six-pounder guns: these and the twelve-pounder up there
constitute our bow fire, to be used when we are in chase of an enemy."

O-Hana-San shuddered, but said nothing.

"How large is this ship?" enquired the medical man, who was bent on
acquiring statistics.

"About two hundred feet long, and twenty feet beam. She draws about six.
Here is our conning-tower, with half-inch steel armour on it. We can
steer from here, and in bad weather we have to, as one would be washed
off the bridge."

The diminutive Japanese ladies peered inside. There was just room for
two people to stand up, in the tower, and it was fitted with a compass,
steering-wheel, telegraph to the engine-room, and voice-pipes to the
torpedo tubes and various other parts of the ship.

"Only half an inch thick?" queried the surgeon, examining the armour
plates. "How thick, then, is the ship's side?"

"Oh," said Oto, with a smile, "about an eighth of an inch. It's just as
good as a foot, unless a shell strikes it. Will you step down here?" he
added, leading the way to a lower deck.

The surgeon and the ladies tiptoed daintily down the short ladder, and
found themselves in a long, low-ceiled room, with a table running along
the centre, fore-and-aft, and two rows of lockers along the sides.

"This is the mess-deck of the sailors--the 'Jackies,' Americans call
them," explained the commander, who of course, like every one else on
board, spoke only in Japanese. "We are now under the turtle-backed
forecastle-deck, you see."

A few men were down here, one stitching canvas, another mending his
clothes, one writing a letter, and one stretched out, fast asleep.

"About twenty men live down here," added Oto. "These are their hammocks,
and that is the capstan engine." He pointed above his head as he spoke.
"There are storerooms under our feet," he continued, "where we keep the
explosive war-heads for the torpedoes. We have two eighteen-inch
torpedoes carried, without the heads, in the tubes themselves. Now,
shall we go up to the fore-bridge?"

The surgeon, who had gazed with something of dismay at the deck which
concealed such terrible munitions, mounted the ladder with alacrity,
followed by his wife and her friends.

All five now stood beside the great twelve-pounder. The _Kushiro_ was
well out of the harbour and standing directly toward the Chinese coast.
To the north-east the mountains of Korea could be dimly discerned, like
blue shadows on the horizon. The ship was moving so smoothly through the
water that it seemed impossible that she was slipping along at the rate
of nearly twenty-four knots an hour, as the quartermaster stated, in
reply to a question from Oto. The only indication of her speed was the
fountain of spray rising at the sharp, straight stern, and sparkling
with rainbow hues in the flashing sunshine.

At this moment a petty officer approached the commander, touched his
cap, and said something which the others did not hear. Oto caught up a
pair of binoculars and peered intently through them at a low line of
smoke ahead and a little to the north of the _Kushiro's_ course. After
a moment he put down the glasses.

"Port half a point" he said quietly.

"Port half a point, sir," repeated the quartermaster.

After a minute, "Steady!"

"Steady, sir."

"I think it is an American war-ship," remarked Oto pleasantly, turning
to his guests. "We shall run down near her, that you may see how the
foreigner looks. I--I am quite familiar with the American ships myself."

The commander and O-Hana-San exchanged a swift glance of understanding,
but no further allusion was made to Oto Owari's former experience, of
which the little Red-Cross nurse was well aware.

"Ah," exclaimed the surgeon, drawing a long breath of delight as he
looked out over the sparkling waters of the Yellow Sea, "I could almost
wish to change places with you, Captain! This is delicious, after the
atmosphere of the hospital, the sound of groans, the odour of
antiseptics and anæsthetics! I do not wonder that you chose the navy for
your calling."

"Well, well," said Oto, with his gentle laugh, "it does seem pleasant
now, especially [here he bowed gracefully] in such exalted society. But
come out on a cold, wet night in January, when a heavy sea is running,
and you have to hang on to the rails of the twelve-pounder, here, to
prevent yourself being carried off your feet; when the waves come
pouring over the turtle-back and flood the upper deck; when you're
soaked to the skin, and shivering, and thinking of--of [he glanced at
Blossom] thousands on shore, snug and warm and fast asleep; when the
blinding spray and sleet are lashing your face like whipcord, so you can
hardly open your eyes to see the lights of the vessel you are watching
ahead; and when everything down below in the wardroom is sliding about
on the deck--well, I think a comfortable, dry room in the hospital would
seem rather more attractive than the bridge of the _Kushiro_!"

The girls smiled at his eloquence, but O-Hana-San looked troubled, and
her slim brown hand shook a little as she turned to accept her old
friend's invitation to inspect the engine-room.

"I'm sorry," said Oto, "that we're going only two hundred and eighty
revolutions now. You should see them at three hundred and fifty, with
forced draft!"

The engine-room was hot and oily, and not even the fascinating sight of
the bright steel rods flashing up and down and the cranks whirring at
the rate of four revolutions a second--a mere mist of metal--could long
detain the party. They were rather glad, it must be confessed, when a
hail from the deck sent the commander flying up the ladder and the rest
could follow, holding their garments carefully aloof from the glistening
metal work.

On their reaching the deck a glorious sight met their gaze. About half a
mile away was a war-ship, white as snow, coming toward them. The
beautiful stars and stripes blew out over her taffrail, and a string of
flags fluttered from her yard-arm. The signalman was just sending up an
answer on the _Kushiro_.

"It is the United States gunboat _Osprey_," said Commander Oto, with
unusual excitement in his voice, and a glow on his olive cheeks. "We
have invited her commander to come on board, and he has graciously
consented to do so, although his ship is of a larger class than mine,
knowing that a Japanese officer is forbidden to leave his ship at sea,
on any pretence, in war time. See, they are lowering a boat!"

The _Kushiro_ had already stopped her engines, and the _Osprey_, which
had slowed down several minutes before, now followed her example. The
two vessels slowly approached each other until they were but a few
hundred yards apart.

A boat was now seen leaving the American, and the destroyer's side was
manned by jackies to receive the visitor with naval honours. In five
minutes the boat was alongside, and Dave Rexdale sprang up the steps to
the deck of the _Kushiro_. Oto was awaiting him, and with a smile that
showed the flash of his dark eyes and white teeth, held out his hand to
the American officer.

"Welcome, sir," he said, in good English. "I am glad to see you again,
and on the deck of my own ship."

Dave stared a moment, then darted forward and wrung the hand of the
elegantly uniformed commander, in whom he recognised his former steward.

"Oto!" he exclaimed.

"Commander Oto Owari, of His Imperial Majesty's Navy," said the
Japanese, returning the other's cordial grasp. "Permit me to present you
to these ladies, who do not speak English, but for whom and yourself I
shall be glad to act as interpreter."

Well, Commander Rexdale made his most gallant speeches to the blushing
little nurses, who in turn murmured their earnest desire to break their
bones and knock their heads abjectly in his august presence.
Introduction to the surgeon and the officers of the ship followed.

"I had my suspicions, when you pointed that gun," laughed Dave, turning
again to Oto. "And when the torpedo-boat carried you off so neatly----"

But here Oto interrupted with a significant glance toward his
subordinates, showing that he did not care to have all the events of
that voyage made public.

With true Japanese hospitality he begged Rexdale to remain and join the
party at luncheon; but Dave could not leave his own ship so long, and
after a few minutes' conversation was obliged to leave. He explained
that the _Osprey_ had been docked at Cavite during the winter; then
detailed to her old station as guardship at Chemulpo, whence she was now
on her way to Shanghai.

"I suppose you heard this morning's news?" he said carelessly, as he
stepped to the gangway.

"What news?" asked Oto, with a keen look.

"Rojestvensky's ships have been sighted, about half-way between Chagos
and Singapore, steaming east at full speed," said Dave, in a lower tone.
"It looks as if he were going to try the Strait of Malacca. Forty-two
vessels reported, including transports and colliers. Good-bye!"

The blue-jackets of the _Kushiro_, at the instigation of her executive,
gave the departing visitors three cheers as the men let fall their oars.
Sam Bolles and Dick Scupp, who happened to be in the boat's crew,
stared, with open mouths, at the Japanese commander, who nodded to them
in a friendly way. A few minutes later the foam gathered under the
_Osprey's_ bows as she bore off toward China, and the _Kushiro_, making
a graceful turn, headed toward Nagasaki, both vessels dipping their
colours in salute.

The news which he had heard affected Oto deeply, but he let no sign of
his emotions appear to diminish his courteous hospitality to his guests.
They dined in the officers' mess-room, the captain's cabin being too
small for the purpose. Everything passed off happily and gaily.

"Going into the harbour, sir," reported a boatswain to the commander, as
the repast was finished.

In a few minutes the _Kushiro_ approached her dock and made a near
landing. Oto bade the visitors farewell. O-Hana-San, drawn by something
in his dark eyes, lingered just a moment, as he took her hand in his
own.

"When you hear from me again," he whispered, "I shall have been in
action. The Russian fleet is close at hand, and we may be ordered south
before morning. Farewell, O-Hana-San!"

"Oto! Oto! _Sayonara!_"



CHAPTER XXIII.

TRAPPED IN MANCHURIA.


A less energetic and determined individual than Mr. Frederic Larkin
might well have felt discouraged when, successively fired upon by the
Japanese and rejected by the Russians, he was thrust out of Port Arthur
and landed in Chefoo. His pass from the War Office at Tokio had been
taken from him when he first entered Port Arthur, and had not been
returned. To present himself again at General Stoessel's headquarters
was out of the question, even if the means were possible.

"The balloon route seems to be indefinitely suspended," mused Fred, as
he rested on the hotel verandah in the Chinese city, "and without much
doubt I should be definitely suspended--by the neck--if the Russians
caught me a third time inside the fortress. No, there's no use in
wasting time (and a good, serviceable neck) in trying to carry out home
orders. I'll cable the _Bulletin_ and ask for instructions."

This he did at once, and the answer arrived before night, from the
editor of that enterprising sheet: "Get new pass. Join Japanese army at
front. Remain till ordered home. No more balloon!"

Fred laughed as he crumpled the dispatch and thrust it into his pocket.
With characteristic energy he obtained passage on a vessel chartered for
Nagasaki, and within a week was on his way back to Manchuria with
brand-new credentials from Tokio. Landing at Antung, at the head of the
Korean bay, he engaged a man and a couple of ponies to take him and his
baggage to the Japanese advanced lines, north of Liaoyang. This was in
late February, 1905, when the ground was frozen hard and snow lay deep
in the valleys and over the ice-bound streams of Manchuria.

It will shortly be seen that for once the reporter's energy proved his
undoing, so far as active service at the front was concerned.

It was a bright, cold morning when he mounted his pony, after many
provoking delays and setbacks from the local military authorities, and
rejoiced to feel that he was really on his way northward. Kanuka, the
guide and porter, strode along the path in advance, leading the pack
pony, while Fred followed on the other little beast, whose bad temper
was out of all proportion to his size.

Kanuka appeared to be a Chinaman who spoke, besides his own language--a
Manchurian dialect--a very broken sort of English and Japanese. Larkin
had not liked his looks, but time was precious and he hoped to get rid
of the man after three or four days at the utmost. Kanuka was
under-sized, and had a droop of the head which gave his eyes a sort of
malevolent expression as he peered upward, under his shaggy brows. He
stooped slightly, was sallow-faced, and, oddly enough, had grizzled,
curly hair and a full black beard, like a Russian. He was in reality, as
Fred afterward learned, a native of Eastern Siberia, though he dressed
like a Chinaman and spoke like a Manchurian.

For a while the little train proceeded in silence, broken only by the
snorting, kicking ponies and the harsh, guttural expletives of the
guide, who belaboured them with his cudgel until Fred checked him.

"These ponies must last four days, my friend," he sung out. "If you keep
up your style of correction there won't be more than two hoofs and an
ear left by the time we reach Liaoyang."

Kanuka muttered something Larkin could not understand, and pointed to a
low line of clouds in the west.

"What does that mean--storm?"

The man nodded.

"H'm. What's the nearest large town?"

"Feng-Weng-Chang."

"That's too far. There must be something nearer than that!"

Kanuka nodded again and made a gesture toward the north. "Good place to
stop, near Yalu."

"Near the Yalu? But that's off our route, old chap. I guess we'll push
on toward Feng-Weng-Chang. There must be some villages along the road."

The guide stolidly turned and plodded on without another word save a
native oath or two addressed to the pony, which responded with a squeal
and a sidewise kick with one hind-foot.

The clouds rose rapidly, and the cold grew more intense. The sky was now
entirely covered, and a biting wind swept down through the valley of the
Yalu. At noon Fred called a halt in the shelter of a clump of trees, and
a hasty meal was prepared over a small fire, while the horses were given
food and drink. The guide remained sullen and taciturn, but performed
his duties well. Fred had a belt around his waist filled with gold
pieces, as well as a pocket full of change.

"Look here, Kanuka," he said, as the cavalcade resumed their march, "you
bring me to a house where we can be decently comfortable for to-night,
and I'll hand you ten yen, in addition to your regular pay. See?"

The man shrugged his shoulders under his shaggy sheepskin cloak and
pointed up to the sky.

"Snow soon," he said gruffly. "House that way"; and again he indicated
the north.

"Well, we may have to come to it, but I don't want to go a foot off the
main trail if I can help it. There are too many loose characters
floating about these regions to make the country healthy for foreigners,
away from the military roads--eh, Kanuka?"

A gleam came into the guide's dark eye, but passed like a flash. He only
shrugged his shoulders again, and resumed the weary tramp along the
frozen path.

Now a snow-flake floated downward and alighted on Fred's coat-sleeve. He
surveyed it with interest.

"Kanuka," he observed, "you're a genius. You'd be a valuable aid to
General Greely, over in my country, forecasting weather. The snow has
arrived--a 'local area' of it, anyway. How long do you suppose it will
last?"

"Two days."

"Whew! It's a poor lookout for equestrian excursions to the rural
districts! Here it comes, in dead earnest!"

A gust of wind rushed down from the mountains, and in a minute the air
was full of fine drift which stung the faces of men and horses like
needles. The ponies whirled round and it was only by the utmost efforts
of the rider and his attendant that they were forced to go on.

The landscape was now almost entirely lost to view. All Fred took note
of was the snowy mane of his pony and the bowed back of the guide,
urging the pack-horse up the path, which had of late grown much rougher
and steeper. Hour after hour passed. Fred, buffeted by the blast and
half-frozen as he crouched on the saddle, suddenly realised that it was
growing darker. Night was falling. The new snow was now over the horses'
fetlocks, and in places the drifts were nearly to the stirrups.

"Where are we, Kanuka?"

"Not far from Yalu. See--good house ahead!"

Fred wiped the frozen snow from his eyelashes and peered over the
horse's head. Sure enough, there was the welcome sight of a light,
gleaming hospitably through the gathering darkness.

"Good!" he ejaculated with stiff lips, under his icy moustache. "I
thought we should find somebody living on this old Feng-Weng turnpike."

"This Yalu road," said the guide.

"What, have we left the main trail?"

"Two hours ago. No good to keep same road. All go sleep there--no wake
up." The man had to shout to make himself heard above the roar of the
storm.

Fred did not like this independent change of route, but going back was
out of the question, and he was too cold to argue, with fire, shelter,
and food close at hand.

"All right," he said briefly. "Keep on. We'll talk it over afterward."

Ten minutes later Kanuka halted before the door of a rude hut, which
communicated with two or three small wings or out-houses. It was built
of mud and rough stones and thatched with straw. There were several
houses similar in character farther down the road. The little settlement
was in a sheltered nook between two high hills, which, as the valley ran
east and west, protected the huts, or hovels as they might well be
called, from the full force of the gale.

Kanuka knocked at the door with his club, but it was some time before it
was opened, although the light burning within, shining through the small
window, showed that the occupants were awake. The guide was redoubling
his blows and shouting in his own language, when the door swung inward,
and an old woman appeared in the opening. A low colloquy ensued, and
then Kanuka turned to his employer.

"She says we may spend the night here," he said, in better English than
he had yet used. "Go you in and get warm, sir. I will care for horses."

With some difficulty Fred dismounted and stumbled in at the open
doorway. He found himself in a small low-browed room, so filled with
smoke that his eyes tingled, and so dirty that, hardened traveller as he
was, he hesitated for a moment before removing his heavy coat.

The aged crone paid no further attention to her visitor, but resumed her
preparations for the evening meal, which had been interrupted by Fred's
appearance on the scene. There was a broad, irregular fireplace on one
side of the room, and here a fire was blazing, with a black pot, from
which rose a not unsavoury steam, suspended over the flames. Mumbling to
herself, the mistress of the hut--for such she seemed to be--occupied
herself in stirring the contents of the pot, and in dragging a small
wooden table to the centre of the floor, which, like the table, the
chairs, the walls, and the old woman herself, was grimy and redolent of
filth.

Accustomed to adapt himself to all sorts of strange surroundings the
reporter now removed his outer garments, and approached the fire with a
propitiatory word to the woman; but she responded merely by pointing
impatiently to a bench, and turning her back upon him. Nothing daunted
Fred drew the bench nearer the fireplace and proceeded to thaw out his
benumbed fingers with every outward appearance of content and
satisfaction. To please himself rather than his hostess, who he knew
could not understand a word he spoke, he continued to soliloquise aloud.

"You are not very sociable, ma'am," he said cheerfully, spreading out
his hands to the blaze, "but actions speak louder than words, and the
prospect of that 'boiled dinner' in the kettle fully compensates me for
the lack of conventional attentions. Permit me!"

He saw that she was about to lift the pot from the fire, and stepping in
front of her he proceeded to relieve her of the task, to which, in
truth, with her bent and aged form, she hardly seemed equal.

A minute later the contents of the pot were heaped in a large wooden
platter on the table. At this interesting point Kanuka entered from a
rear door, stamping off the snow, and took his place on the bench beside
Fred.

"Don't apologise, brother," said the latter, with perfect good-humour.
"In great emergencies all men are free and equal--as they were born. See
Constitution of the United States of America, line 3. Suppose we draw
this seat up to the board, which groans with the delicacies of the
season?"

Kanuka assented with a grunt, and, their hostess having supplied each
with a large wooden spoon, they proceeded to eat from the dish; the
"delicacies" being found to consist of rice, with some other unknown
vegetables and bits of boiled beef.

There was but little said during the meal. The two natives ate in
silence, and Fred was too much occupied in avoiding doubtful
ingredients, in his own share of the common mess of reeking food, to put
any unusual strain upon his conversational powers. The withered crone
now produced a flask of vodka, which Fred at first refused, but of which
the others partook freely. The effect of the liquor was to loosen their
tongues somewhat, and they conversed with each other in low gutturals.
Presently the woman took the vodka flask and left the room, returning
shortly with a mug full of liquor, which she again proffered her guest.

"She has mixed it with snow," interpreted Kanuka, as she urged it upon
him. "It is weak and will not hurt you."

Not to seem discourteous Fred drank a little, but soon drew back from
the table.

"I'm not thirsty, Kanuka," said he, "but I am tired and sleepy. Are the
animals provided for?"

Kanuka nodded. "Warm, and supplied with food."

"And my packs?"

"They are in the out-house."

"Very well; I'll go to sleep, if the lady of the house will point out my
bedroom."

Kanuka spoke to the woman, who withdrew for a moment. She came back
with two skins, one of a reindeer and the other a shaggy pelt which Fred
did not recognise. She threw these down in a corner of the room,
opposite the fire.

"There is your bed," said the guide. "Sleep well."

"Same to you," said Fred, yawning. "Good-night, ma'am!"

Neither of the Manchurians paid the slightest attention to him as he
spread the rugs and stretched himself at full length between them. The
wind roared around the little hut, and he could hear the snow beating
against its sides. Before long Kanuka and the woman left him alone,
having carefully covered the coals of fire with ashes, just as he had
often seen his grandmother cover them in his New England home. Thinking
about that home, and listening to the storm, he was soon sound asleep.

The travel-worn correspondent had a curious dream. He thought he was
back on the old farm in Brookfield hoeing corn. There was snow between
the hills, and instead of drawing up warm, brown earth around the
six-inch blades of corn, he packed them nicely in snow, shivering as he
did so. There were icicles on his hoe and he could hardly have kept at
work had he not been aided by two Manchurian ponies who pawed the snow
toward the hills, and asked him to hurry, for a balloon was coming for
them at precisely four o'clock. He was by no means surprised to hear
them speak, especially as one of them was dressed in a ragged gown and
the other in a sheepskin cloak.

"What time is it?" asked the old-woman pony sharply. He was too cold to
look, and both ponies started to fumble at his watch-guard with their
hoofs. Their eyes flashed fire. He began to be afraid, and made a
tremendous effort to push them back, but he could not move a finger.
With a cry of terror he awoke.

Awoke to find himself bound, hand and foot, with the light of the greasy
lamp shining in his face. The old hag was stooping over him and drawing
his watch from his pocket. By the dim light in the room he saw half a
dozen wild-looking men standing around him. All were armed and their
bearded faces were wolfish. Kanuka knelt beside him tying the last knot
in the rope that bound his ankles together. As he caught sight of Fred's
wide-open eyes fixed upon him he uttered an exclamation and drew a long
knife from his belt.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE LITTLE FATHER.


Although the correspondent of the _Bulletin_ was not aware of the fact
when he started on his eventful journey northward, active hostilities
had already begun at the front. The two immense armies, as we have seen,
lay entrenched, facing each other, in lines extending, nearly one
hundred miles from east to west, across the railroad south of Moukden,
the ancient capital of the Manchus. While the Japanese had thrown up
temporary earthworks here and there, and of course had taken advantage
of the configuration of the ground to secure their positions against
surprise, as well as to afford shelter for their troops against the
inclemency of the Manchurian winter, the Russians were far more strongly
fortified and were determined to hold their ground. Railroad trains,
running between Moukden and Harbin, their great military base, supplied
them with constantly renewed stores of ammunition, food, and clothing,
and, moreover, removed the sick and wounded from the front and filled
their places with fresh recruits as fast as they arrived from the west
over the Trans-Siberian route.

Such was the situation when Field Marshal Oyama, having kept his vast
armies under perfect discipline all winter, and replaced the losses
incurred at Liaoyang, determined to move on the enemy, who, refreshed
and confident, awaited behind their ramparts the advance of the
Japanese.

Exactly the same tactics were employed as at Liaoyang. The ends of the
hundred-mile frontal line struck heavily, and bent the Russian bar of
steel inward at both extremities. The attack began on February 20th, and
four days later the Japanese were in possession of a strong Russian
position at the village of Tsinketchen, far to the east of Moukden. At
the same time the Japanese left wing began its march on Sinmintin, at
the western end of the line. The Russians, out-flanked, fell back. The
extremities of the two wings would doubtless have been effectively
reinforced had not the crafty Oyama delivered a simultaneous assault
upon the very centre at Putiloff, or "Lone-Tree Hill," to use the name
that soon became familiar to newspaper readers all over the globe. A
furious artillery fire was opened upon this hill by the Japanese. It was
taken and retaken. The scenes that had horrified the world at Port
Arthur and Liaoyang were repeated. Assault after assault was delivered,
but for a week the devoted band of Muscovites held that little acre of
ground on the hill-top, while regiment after regiment of the soldiers of
Nippon melted away before the terrific fire from the fortress. It was
like wading up streams of molten lava, to fight a volcano in full
eruption. The Russians were never driven from the hill by direct
assault; but Kouropatkin, seeing his wings bent inward and backward
farther and farther, and his front once more assuming the terrible
horse-shoe shape, reluctantly gave orders to his brave men to withdraw
from Putiloff and fall back on the line of the railroad.

In the division of the Japanese troops to whom the capture of this
hill--the keystone of Kouropatkin's arch--was assigned was the regiment
in which Oshima served. Thus far Oto's old friend had seemed to bear a
charmed life. He had fought in battle after battle, but had received no
wound of any moment. His company had been decimated again and again, but
the ranks had been filled and the stern young captain still held his
place in front, as it wheeled into line when the regiment was called
upon for new duties.

Upon hearing the order to move upon Lone-Tree Hill, the men set up a
cheer. The officers burnished their swords and stepped alertly to and
fro, aligning the ranks and glancing along the files to see that every
equipment was in order and every man ready. This was in the early
afternoon. It was understood that the artillery would open upon the hill
batteries at sundown, and two hours later the assault would be made.

Impatiently the compact mass of small brown men waited for the word. The
great siege guns, brought with infinite labour from Port Arthur, roared
and thundered. Putiloff answered, and shrapnel burst over the Japanese
troops, who burrowed as best they might in trenches and holes and behind
every hillock, while they hastily devoured their scant field rations.
The night came on, dark and heavy. At last the welcome word was
received.

"Forward!" cried Oshima, brandishing his sword so that it glittered in
the flashes of the cannon.

The regiment hurled itself upon the slopes of the hill, solid shot
ploughing awful furrows through their ranks. The survivors kept on,
undaunted. That night meant for them victory or a glorious death. No one
thought of retreat.

As he saw his men swept downward by the pitiless hail of steel, Oshima
lost all sense of danger, and the old spirit of his Samurai ancestors
blazed out. "Strike! Strike!" he shouted to his men, springing in front
of them as the broken line faltered for a moment. "Up the hill! It is
ours! _Banzai dai Nippon!_"

With the wild cheer of Japan upon his lips he suddenly threw his arms
aloft and fell headlong to the ground. The column swept by and over him
in the darkness. Then two slightly wounded men raised their captain, his
hand still grasping his sword, and tottered down the hill with him,
stumbling over the bodies of the fallen.

Not far in the rear were Red-Cross workers, and the silent figure of the
brave officer was borne swiftly to a hospital tent, where he partly
regained consciousness. He was shot through the body, and the surgeons
shook their heads as they examined the wound. Still, there was a chance
for his life, and Oshima was despatched to the coast, the first part of
the way in an ambulance, then by railway. At Antung he remained until
the hospital ship was ready to sail with its sad freight of torn,
pierced, and mangled soldiers. The staunch vessel--painted white, with a
broad green stripe along its hull, like the sash of a military
surgeon--conveyed him safely to Hiroshima, where he was placed in a cot
near an eastern window. Kind hands ministered to him, and gentle faces
bent over him. As he recovered full possession of his senses he saw one
sweet face that was familiar to him.

"Hana!" he whispered. "O-Hana-San, is it you?"

Day after day the battle raged in Manchuria. Shells began to fall in
Moukden, and in an hour the city was a scene of ghastly confusion and
panic. Hospital trains, loaded to the doors with wounded and dying,
pulled out of the station, the groans and shrieks of the sufferers
mingling with the clank and clatter of the iron wheels. Men and women
rushed to and fro in the muddy streets--for this was the first week in
March, and a few warm days had turned snow and ice to mire, ankle
deep--and fought each other in a frenzied fear as they struggled for
places in carts and railway cars, with such of their personal effects as
they could carry in their arms. Thieves and drunken soldiery looted
shops and private houses boldly.

It was rumoured that the awful Japanese line was closing in on the
north, and that the railroad would be cut. This added to the panic.
Dazed, mud-stained, deafened with the roar of battle, half senseless
with intoxication, thousands of stragglers and camp-followers staggered
through the city, joining the mad rush. "To the north! To the north!"
was the one thought, the one wild cry. Emerging from the densely
populated town, the throng of refugees fled up the valley. Wherever the
defile narrowed, the crowd crushed together, screaming, pushing,
fighting their way on; through back alleys of little villages on the
route; along the railroad track, separating to allow a train to roar
through their midst, shaking frenzied fists at it as it passed and left
them behind; flinging away food, clothing, household treasures to which
they had thus far clung mechanically; shouted at by retreating
battalions whose progress they blocked, and cursed by artillery-men as
the horses sprang forward over the clogged and miry road, or crashed
through the low willows and over mud-walls surrounding the hovels of the
natives; still on and on, through the black night and the chill grey
dawn, the frantic multitude streamed northward toward Harbin and safety.

At Tie Pass there was a halt. Here Kouropatkin made a desperate attempt
to stand, and did succeed in checking the enemy until the shattered
Russian forces could reunite in the semblance of a disciplined army,
while the wounded, and such stores and guns as had been saved from the
disastrous defeat, were sent northward. Then the army fell sullenly
back, a few versts each day, repulsing the attacks of the exhausted
Japanese. These attacks diminished in number and force, until
Kouropatkin could breathe more freely and even consider establishing a
new line of permanent defence. Before, however, he could reorganise his
troops or lay out a single line of fortifications a despatch flashed
over the wires from St. Petersburg removing him from the supreme
command of the army and appointing General Linevitch, his former
subordinate, in his place.

Like a brave and generous soldier he not only laid down his command
without a word of protest, but at once petitioned for and obtained
permission to serve under Linevitch. Truly, the "Little Father" had
reason to be proud of his children!

But the Czar of all the Russias, in his white palace on the Neva, had
cares beyond even those which gathered, bat-winged, around the prospects
of his army in the Far East. Throughout his vast realm, from the
Caucasus to the Baltic, from Sebastopol to the Arctic Seas, in the
remote provinces and at the very gates of his palace, signs multiplied
that a long-dreaded event was coming to pass: the Russian peasant was
awakening! Aroused by proclamations of Nihilists, by sermons and appeals
from religious leaders, by stinging words from such patriots as Tolstoi
and Gorky, the peasant stirred in his long sleep, he smiled in his
stupid, good-humoured, harmless way; he grew graver as the import of the
fiery words that were borne on every breeze penetrated his dull brain.
Cruelty--oppression--injustice--could it be true? Nay, the Little Father
would put it all right. They would tell him about it; they would go to
him with these wrongs as a little child kneels at his bedside and prays
sleepily and trustfully, to his Father in Heaven; and he, the Ruler of
all the Russias, the White Czar, the father of his people, would listen
and would hear their prayer and grant relief, if relief were needed.

A great throng of such peasants, headed by a priest, flocked to the
city, asking, poor, bewildered souls, to see the Czar, and to be allowed
to pray to him. They were rebuffed and roughly ordered back by men with
glistening bayonets. Then, still childlike and foolish, they actually
tried to force their way to their father's house, believing that
although his minions might use them rudely, he, whom they loved with all
their big, ignorant, devoted hearts, would suffer them to come unto him,
and forbid them not.

Another surge forward, over the paved street, to the fatal bridge.
"Halt! Disperse!"

They would not. Their priest leader held his cross aloft and waved them
on.

Then it came--a rattling crash like the near thunder close upon the
lightning. Shrieks and moans of dying men and children. Another volley,
and another. And the Little Father was so near--could he not hear them?

The people fled from the cruel streets, the red pavement, the hoofs of
the war-horses and the flashing sabres of their riders. Back, in a
helpless, frightened throng, to the open country, as the fugitives fled
from Moukden. But the fierce enemy that was behind them was no foreign
foe, thirsting for their lives. It was their Little Father!

Did the young, black-bearded Czar think of all this, as he sat in his
gorgeously draped throne room in the palace? Did his cheeks blanch and
his lips quiver at the distant sound of musketry in the streets of St.
Petersburg? Who can tell? Only He who knoweth all hearts and whose love
holds both Czar and peasant.

While Russia was thus torn with internal troubles, the situation in the
East grew daily more threatening. The danger was now apparent to all. At
Harbin the great railway forks, one branch going southward to Port
Arthur, and the other continuing eastward to Vladivostock. If the
Japanese, pushing northward with their victorious hosts, could cut the
line east of Harbin Junction, Russia's one port, her last hope of sea
power on the North Pacific, would be at the mercy of the Japanese.

Despatches were sent to Rojestvensky to hurry his ships to the scene of
war. Two squadrons were already united under his command. A third was on
its way through the Mediterranean, and shortly afterward rendezvoused at
Jiboutil, near Aden, at the southern end of the Red Sea. This third
squadron was also ordered to proceed eastward across the Indian Ocean at
full speed, and overtake the Baltic fleet if possible. Early in April
Rojestvensky's ships were sighted off Acheen, at the extreme
north-western point of Sumatra.



CHAPTER XXV.

LARKIN RETIRES FROM BUSINESS.


When Fred Larkin grasped the full significance of the situation in which
he found himself, on awaking in the Manchurian hut, he felt that he was
nearer death than ever before in all his hardy, adventurous life. At
Santiago, indeed, he had thought himself led out to execution, but this
had proved to be a mistake. The Spaniards were but conducting him, under
a flag of truce, to the American lines, where he was exchanged for a
prisoner of war, one of their own countrymen. In this lonely hovel, in
one of the remotest and dreariest districts of Manchuria, cut off from
all hope of help, not only by the leagues that lay between him and the
travelled road to Feng-Weng-Chang, but by the storm which now shook the
hut with its fierce blasts; surrounded by lawless men who thirsted for
gold and cared not a whiff from their pipes for a human life; trapped by
the cunning guide, and completely at the mercy of his wolfish captors as
he lay before them pinioned hand and foot; he realised in a swift flash
of thought that he could be saved by little short of a miracle. Still he
would try. He was not a man to give up while the faintest shred of hope
remained.

"What do you want, Kanuka?" he asked quietly, looking his treacherous
guide straight in the eye.

The villain hesitated, and Fred knew his life hung by a hair. The blade
did not fall.

"We want everything you have, everything!" said Kanuka. "If you resist
we kill you."

"You would gain nothing by that," said the prisoner. "I am perfectly
helpless. Who are--your friends?"

"They are not my friends; they are my men. If I lift my finger to them,
you are dead. Is it not so?" he added, turning to the motley crew and
speaking in his own tongue.

A low snarl went round the circle, and they showed their teeth. They
drew still nearer, and fingered the hafts of their knives, which Fred
could see sticking in their girdles. Two of the men carried guns. One of
the band, younger than the rest, seemed to have no weapons, and remained
in the background. The old woman had succeeded in getting possession of
the watch and dangled it so that the light shone upon it.

"I don't doubt your word, Kanuka," observed Fred in the same calm, even
tones. "Those followers of yours seem quite willing to finish up the
job. But you know better than that. _You_ are an intelligent man."

The guide could not conceal a gratified expression, and drew himself up
a little.

"_You_ know," continued the reporter, "that if I should be killed there
would be a hue and cry after the American war correspondent. The
newspaper I represent would spend a fortune in hunting down every man
that took part in the murder. Very likely the United States Government
would take the matter up, and you would be caught and executed, every
man of you, at Pekin, if it took ten years. Probably you remember what
happened to the men that put two or three American missionaries to
death, a few years ago? Yes, I thought so. And the Chinese method of
execution is so very unpleasant, in such cases!"

Kanuka stood erect, motioned back his men, and gnawed his moustache,
frowning irresolutely.

"You joke!" said he, with a meaning gesture of his knife.

"Joke? Not a bit of it. I never felt less like joking," said Fred
honestly. "I want to get out of this scrape alive, and to do that, I
must save you. If I die, you die, and the old lady and your hopeful
crowd there, as sure as fate. Pekin never lets an international offence
go; and if Pekin would, Washington wouldn't. You know that as well as I
do."

"What you propose?" asked the chief.

"Well, as I said, I can't help your taking all my worldly goods," said
the reporter. "The next thing is to get rid of me without imperilling
your own head--or limbs," he added significantly. The bandit shuddered
in spite of himself. He had witnessed the execution of a Boxer murderer,
near Pekin. Fred went on: "I would suggest that as soon as the storm
will permit you to move--I assure you I am ready to take considerable
risk on the road--you take me, blindfolded if you wish, to some point
from which I can strike out for the settlements. You, meanwhile, with
your men, could make tracks for parts unknown--of which there happens to
be a good supply within easy reach of this forsaken hole."

"You would inform on us," growled the ex-guide. "We should have Japanese
police on our trail in twenty-four hours."

"I would give you my word of honour----"

The rascal shrugged his shoulders. "I would not trust you. You newspaper
men tell what stories you like."

Fred flushed, and felt an overpowering desire to plant one good blow
between the man's sulky, sneering eyes.

"Oh, well," he said, "settle it yourself. You asked my advice and I've
given it. When the Chinese authorities are getting ready to deal with
you, don't blame _me_, that's all."

Kanuka turned to his men and talked to them rapidly and in low tones. So
far as Fred could judge, the old crone and the youngest of the bandits,
who, he afterward learned, was her son, were advocating his liberation.
The rest clamoured for blood. The chief seemed undecided, and fingered
his knife nervously. At last he spoke to his followers sharply, with an
abrupt gesture of dismissal. To Fred's relief they all filed out,
leaving him alone with the chief.

"They think it would be foolish to let you go," said the latter. "Dead
men tell no tales. But they are beasts--pooh! As you say, I am an
intelligent man. You shall not die to-night. In the morning we shall
see."

He knelt again beside his prisoner and rummaged his pockets thoroughly,
drawing out their contents and surveying them by the light of the lamp.
The papers he threw contemptuously into the fireplace; the silver change
and small articles he thrust into his own pouch. Fortunately Fred had
taken a purse containing about fifty dollars worth of gold pieces, to
use on his trip. To the Manchurian this was an enormous sum of money,
and it did not occur to him to examine his captive's belt, which
contained a much larger amount.

"Look here, old chap," said Fred, as Kanuka rose to his feet with his
plunder, "ease up these ropes a little, will you? They cut me, and I
want to sleep."

The man gave a contemptuous grunt, and, bestowing a kick on the helpless
prisoner, retired without a word. Again Fred's blood boiled, but he
realised his utter helplessness, and lay quietly, trying to concoct some
plan for escape, or for action, on the following day.

It was evident that he had fallen into the hands of that dangerous and
as yet only partly understood power, the Boxer element of north-eastern
China. In 1901 these bandits, or highwaymen,--for such they really were,
and are--terrorised a district extending from Newchwang to Kirin. Their
operations were so systematic and successful that Chinese as well as
foreign merchants finally had come to recognise their authority, and it
is said that an office was actually established in the port of Newchwang
where persons desiring to import goods might secure insurance against
molestation from the robbers. When the insurance was paid for, the
bandit agent gave the merchant a document and a little flag, and with
this document in his possession, and the flag nailed to his cart or
boat, he travelled in safety.

As soon as the real Boxer movement was disposed of by the Powers, and
by China herself, the Russians undertook the suppression of this
systematic brigandage, by which some thousands of outlaws were living in
insolent security. Moukden was garrisoned with twelve thousand soldiers,
and troops took the field against the robbers. In less than six weeks
three thousand bandits were killed and nearly as many captured. The
remainder scattered and fled to the fastnesses of the mountains, where
they were hunted like wild beasts. As an organised force, they were,
indeed, "suppressed"; but strong gangs of criminals escaped, and during
the early months of the Japanese war they gained courage and assumed
their unlawful calling with something of their former boldness.

Fred knew all this--he had followed the recent history of China
carefully--and he had no doubt whatever that he had fallen into the
hands of one of the scattered bands of this still powerful organisation.
He knew, moreover, that a more daring and remorseless set of men never
gained their living by highway robbery than these same bandits, through
whose agent, Kanuka, they had so cleverly entrapped him.

Revolving these things in his mind and trying to concoct some sort of
plan for escape, the reporter at last fell asleep from sheer exhaustion,
in spite of the pain caused by his bonds, and the presence of two
bandits who had remained to watch the prisoner.

When he awoke it was broad daylight. The mistress of the hut was
occupied in preparing another seething mess over the fire, exactly as
she had been when he entered the hut. Fred felt lame and sore from head
to foot, and soon discovered, moreover, that he had taken a severe cold.
He was hot and feverish, and had a weak longing for his mother's cool,
soft hands upon his burning forehead.

The old hag presently lifted the pot from the fire, groaning as she did
so.

"I wish I could help you, ma'am," said Fred, trying to assume a cheerful
tone, "but 'circumstances over which I have no control,' you know!"

She seemed to gather the import of his words--perhaps remembering his
courteous assistance on the preceding night--and dishing out a portion
of the nauseous mess offered it to him. When she saw that he was so
tightly bound that he could not help himself to food she uttered an
exclamation in which he recognised the first hint of pity among his
captors. Looking over her shoulder with evident apprehension, she freed
his right arm, and when he indicated with a feeble smile and shake of
his head that it was benumbed, she rubbed it with a not unwomanly touch
until he could use it and feed himself. Having forced down a little of
the distasteful food, to avoid hurting her feelings, he lay back on his
couch and motioned to her to lay the rope lightly over his arm, giving
it its former appearance of confinement. This she did at once, and not
too soon, for the whole gang of seven men, including Kanuka, trooped in
for their breakfast a minute later.

The storm continued through the day, and Fred found his condition
unchanged, save that he was allowed to walk about the room a little,
under guard of three of the ugliest-looking of the bandits. As night
came on once more, his feverishness increased. He felt faint and giddy.
He had no doubt that his drink was drugged the day before, and it was
quite possible that the process--though for what purpose he could not
guess--was being kept up. He was too feeble to care much what he ate or
drank. All he wanted was to be left alone.

At about midnight on the second night in the hut, as the sick man was
tossing on his filthy bed, the inner door of the room opened softly, and
the woman appeared, shading the flame of the lamp with her hand. Her
son, who had been left on guard, was standing silently by the window,
gun in hand. The aged crone now knelt beside Fred, and noiselessly cast
off the ropes, which had been tied with less caution than at first, it
being deemed impossible that the captive, weakened as he was, could make
his escape. Fred managed to gain his feet, and stood stiffly, half
supported by the woman. She led him to the outer door, which she opened.
The stars were shining, and it was bitter cold. The young bandit now
slipped around the corner of the house and presently reappeared with one
of the ponies, upon which Fred managed to scramble. The old woman gave
the reporter a soft pat on the back and whispered something to her son,
who stooped and kissed her! Then she went into the house, wiping her
eyes on her ragged skirt, and leaving the two men outside, free.

Fred soon found that he could not sit upright in the saddle without
help, and the bandit, slinging his gun over his back, put his arm around
the rider and so held him on, while the pony picked his way down the
mountain trail. In places the drifts made the path almost impassable.
The wind still swept fiercely through the defile, although the night was
clear. Once the young robber stopped suddenly and unslung his rifle; but
the noise he had heard was but that of a falling tree, and he resumed
his steady walk beside the pony.

How he survived that night Fred never knew. It was a vague, horrible
dream of snow and ice, of piercing chills and fever heats, of monotonous
plodding through the snow, alternating with plunging descents over rough
ground, that seemed to jar him to pieces, while every bone and muscle
was a separate anguish. Still on and on, the guide saying never a word.

Before dawn Fred dimly understood that they had struck the main road to
Wiju. Less snow had fallen here, and their progress was more rapid.
Early in the forenoon the noise of wheels and loud voices was heard on
the path behind them. Whether or not it was a band of pursuers he
neither knew nor cared. The world was one wide horror of pain and
glaring light and bursting misery of head and limb.

The cavalcade in the rear overtook the rider. It was a train of three
ambulance carts returning from the front with wounded Japanese. The
guide spoke briefly to the leader and Fred was lifted from his horse
with delicate brown hands as gentle as a woman's, and was placed on a
cot in one of the wagons. The young bandit disappeared. Fred never saw
him again.

Four days later the editor-in-chief of the _Bulletin_ took up a bit of
yellow paper and read: "Frederic Larkin, Correspondent, sick in hospital
at Hiroshima."

The chief smiled grimly as he laid down the cable despatch.

"In one of his scrapes again!" he said, tossing the paper over to his
sub. "We shall have to depend on the Associated for a while!"



CHAPTER XXVI.

"THE DESTINY OF AN EMPIRE."


On the morning of the twenty-seventh of May a light fog hung over the
Yellow Sea and the Straits of Korea. Gulls sailed in leisurely fashion
above the dull-green surface of the water, or dropped with sudden scream
as their keen eyes discerned some floating scrap of food; but the supply
was scarce, for few ships had of late passed that way, and the sea,
ordinarily alive with junks and steamers and modern sailing craft, was
as deserted as some far-off Polar bay which no adventurer's keel had yet
ploughed.

The gulls seemed uneasy, in spite of the desolateness of the broad
expanse of heaving swell. They called to each other with warning cries
as if some hidden danger were near. What lay concealed beneath those
fleecy folds of mist, which already began to mellow to golden in the
rays of the rising sun, and to drift southward before the light breeze
which was springing up? What would be revealed when the white curtain
should lift?

For many weeks, since the day when the Russian fleet passed the Straits
of Malacca and had been reported from Singapore, the naval forces of
Japan had seemed hardly more than a myth. "Where is Togo?" was the
question on every lip. "Will he proceed southward and meet the enemy in
the China Sea? Will he lie in wait for them between Formosa and the
mainland--that mine-strewn sea where the fair Isles of the Fishermen,
bristling with fortifications, bait the open trap? Will he lure them
eastward, past the Philippines, to the Pacific, and attack them there,
or will Japan allow her enemy to take refuge in her one port of
Vladivostock, there to be brought to bay and pulled down as were her
proud battle-ships and cruisers at Port Arthur?"

Back and forth under the sea flashed the questions and the appeals for
news; but Japan gave no answer; her admiral was dumb. He and his ships
disappeared from view. Newspaper correspondents burdened the cables with
surmises, but no news. Every naval expert had his opinion to give--at
space rates--but home editors and the great, waiting, impatient public
clamoured in vain for authentic information.

At the War Office in Tokio a few men, small of stature and suave in
demeanour, bowed and smiled as of old. They were gentle, courteous,
mild, and inscrutable. They received and sent despatches without a
gleam of emotion in their dark faces. They saw, in these despatches the
North Pacific, with each bay and port and headland, the approaching
Muscovite enemy and the leashed fleet of Japan, as a crystal-gazer holds
a far-off scene in the hollow of his hand. One day their smiles faded,
for a moment, and their eyes grew stern as they dictated a new order.
They were crushing an empire.

In the Winter Palace of Tsarskoe-Selo a slightly built young man with a
dark beard and pale, irresolute countenance paced the marble floor
nervously. He had seen his proudest fortress in the East reduced to
submission; his armies, whose watchword had been, "Russia never
withdraws," driven back, beaten, overwhelmed by the soldiers of despised
Nippon; his war-ships tortured by shot and shell, by enemies upon the
sea and beneath its waters; and he had read report after report of their
loss and of the death of countless thousands of men, "at the Czar's
command." And now his new fleet, brought together and built up at
enormous expense, but ill-manned and ill-managed, had all but finished
its long voyage, and had entered hostile seas. Upon this fleet hung all
his hope of retrieving the disasters of the war. One great naval
victory, and Russia would be wild with joy. The past would be forgotten
and the name of the Little Father once more revered.

The Baltic fleet halted, for coal and provisions, off the friendly port
of Saigon, the leading city of the French possessions in Lower China.
Nebogatoff, with a third squadron, was hurrying across the Indian Ocean
to join Rojestvensky, who now anxiously awaited his approach. The
sympathies of the French ports were but half concealed; the needed
supplies came in abundance. Japan calmly but sternly remonstrated at
this apparent breach of neutrality, and France was obliged to warn the
Russians off her coast. Nebogatoff, however, had succeeded in adding his
ships to those of the larger squadrons, and Rojestvensky, with his
entire fleet coaled and provisioned, was now ready for the decisive
battle. Week after week passed, and still no smoke of the hostile armada
appeared on the northern horizon. Compelled to change his station day by
day, the Russian moved nervously here and there in the China Sea
inviting attack. He sent out reports that he was about to essay the
narrow passage west of Formosa, either east or west of the Pescadores;
he harboured his fleet under the lee of the great island of Hainan; he
professed an intention to thread the dangerous passages north of Luzon
and make a dash across the open Pacific, for the friendly port. Still
the wily Japanese remained silent, unheard, unseen, until the supplies
of her harassed, perplexed, impatient enemy once more diminished and her
bunkers were again nearly empty.

At last, driven to desperation by the refusal of the inscrutable,
invisible foe to emerge from the obscurity where he lurked, Rojestvensky
set the signal to advance. He hoped that the Japanese had been misled by
rumours of his escape to the open Pacific, and that by a direct course
northward through the Korean Straits he could reach Vladivostock, now so
few miles away, after his weary seven months' voyage from the Baltic.
The fog of the early morning was dense. No scout-ship of the enemy was
visible. It would take time to notify Togo of any movement of his
adversary. Forming in double line, with strict orders for silence
throughout every ship, the great flotilla got under way and started
northward through the early morning mist.

In days gone by the leader of an armed force could obtain information of
the manoeuvres of his enemy only by means of trusty couriers. Later,
written messages were despatched by aides, who brought the news and
conveyed orders, riding hard or traversing the sea in swift boats.
Centuries passed and the telegraph began to play its part in the
transmission of despatches, to be succeeded in its turn by the field
telephone. But as the Russo-Japanese war brought into practical use for
the first time the terrible submarine torpedo-boat, so it found a new
and marvellous medium for communication between headquarters and
outposts of an army or fleet. The ancient Samurai of Nippon fought with
two swords; their descendants in 1905 wielded the submarine and the
wireless telegraph. As Rojestvensky's sombre fleet moved forward there
were no armed scouts dashing across the waves to announce their coming;
the electric cable, far below, was dumb; but the very sky above, the
waters that were ploughed by the black keels, at the moment when the
harassed Russians began to breathe freely, were betraying them.

"At exactly 5.30 A.M., on Saturday, May 27th, a wireless message was
received at the naval base of the Japanese: '_The enemy's squadron is in
sight_.'"

Under shelter of the island off Fusan, on the east coast of Korea, lay
sixty or more grey ships, their fires banked, smoke slowly floating from
their stacks. They had lain thus for weeks, waiting for that message.
The instant it was received the decks of every vessel became alive with
nimble sailors. Cables were slipped, fires scattered and heaped high
with coal, ammunition-hoists handled, and garments flung aside as the
men stripped for action. The fleet slowly moved eastward over the waters
of the Japan Sea, which roughened under the wind that gathered force as
day broadened. Eagerly the small brown fighting men sprang to quarters
and pointed to the east, where the sky grew golden with the emblem of
their nation, the Rising Sun.

Before noon wireless messages brought news that the Russian fleet had
chosen the eastern passage of the Straits, between the Tsu Islands and
Japan. At two o'clock the smoke of Rojestvensky's flagship blurred the
southern horizon. Instantly a line of signal flags fluttered to the
yard-arm of the Japanese battle-ship _Mikasa_: "_The destiny of an
empire depends upon this action. You are all expected to do your
uttermost._"

Straight on, with superb courage, came the armada of the White Czar. In
the double column the weaker ships held the port positions, thus
offering the least resistance to attack on that side, and at the same
time blanketing the fire of the heavier turret guns of their own
first-class battle-ships.

A roll of smoke burst from the bows of the _Kniaz Souvaroff_, followed
almost instantly by a roar from the huge twelve-inch guns of the
_Mikasa_. The greatest naval battle in the history of the world had
begun.

The action became general. The Russian ships at the opening of the fight
changed their course and endeavoured to break through the enveloping
line of their foe, but were driven back at every point. The old tactics
of Oyama at Liaoyang and Moukden were repeated by Togo on the sea. Once
more the fatal horse-shoe front closed in. To starboard, to port, ahead,
and astern the thunders of the Japanese guns dismayed the untrained
sailors of the Baltic fleet. Within less than an hour the _Borodino_ was
seen to be on fire. Five Japanese war-ships bore down upon her. To
rescue, to save? To pour a deadlier storm of shot and shell into the
doomed ship; to pierce its wounds anew, to sweep its struggling,
bleeding, shrieking crew from its decks and send ship and men to the
bottom. Through and through the barbette, and the hull itself, plunged
and exploded the steel projectiles. Dead and dying men lay in heaps
everywhere about the decks; the ammunition hoists were wrecked and the
steering-gear disabled, so that the great, tortured battle-ship could
only stagger over the water round and round in a circle, her remaining
guns still firing at intervals, until the merciful waves swept over her,
and with all on board, living and dead, she went down.

The flagship bearing Admiral Rojestvensky was early singled out for
attack. When the ship was in flames and in momentary danger of sinking
the admiral was transferred to a destroyer, from which he was soon after
taken by the Japanese and sent ashore, a prisoner, severely wounded.

So the battle raged, and vessel after vessel, bearing the Russian flag,
was battered to pieces and sent to the bottom, while Togo's fleet seemed
to bear a charmed life. At last the merciful night, that so often has
laid its quieting hand of peace upon maddened, struggling combatants by
land and sea, brooded over the waters of the Sea of Japan. The few ships
from the Baltic that could still move under control crept northward in
the vain hope of reaching safety. There was no longer any dream of
victory; escape, escape from this horrible, relentless foe, was the only
thought.

But while the heavier ships had been dealing deadly blows that fair May
afternoon, the pack of smaller craft, the torpedo-boats and destroyers,
had been for the most part held back under the lee of the islands; held
back with difficulty, for their crews and officers were wild to enter
the engagement. In the conning-tower of the _Fujiyama_ Commander Oto
Owari chafed and fretted over the forced inaction, his dark eyes blazing
and hands twitching. Before midnight the signal came down the line to
advance.

Silently, like wolves gathering about a wounded herd, crouching low to
the ground, the pack gathered around the ill-fated, shattered fleet.
Then the word was given, and they rushed upon their prey. Searchlights
flashed from the beleaguered ships, as they bravely turned at bay.
Again and again the wolves were driven back. More than one of the fierce
assailants never returned to the charge; but the rest closed the gaps,
and cutting out one after another of the Russians, set their teeth of
steel into her ribs until with a great cry she succumbed.

The _Fujiyama_ was foremost in every rush, and staggered under the blows
she received. Oto was everywhere, with his savage little ship, launching
his torpedoes at the biggest vessels of the enemy. He was in full attack
upon the _Sissoi-Valiki_, one of Rojestvensky's finest battle-ships,
when a great shell exploded just in front of the conning-tower of the
destroyer. It was a fatal blow. Oto, with a dozen others, all of them
wounded, was hurled into the sea, from which he was rescued and taken on
board the _Kasuga_, insensible, and therefore blissfully unconscious
that his ship had gone to the bottom. The fight drifted northward.

Sunday morning dawned, "so cool, so calm, so bright." The battle was
resumed, each flying ship of the Russians with three or four of the
enemy hanging about her and hammering her with shell and solid shot. As
on the preceding day and night the terrors of the Baltic crews were
increased by the evident presence of submarines. Several of the western
ships, with no hostile craft visible in the open sea, had suddenly felt
the impact of an awful blow from below, followed by an explosion that
tore her hull to pieces, while the unseen assailant darted off beneath
the waves for fresh prey.

The terrible drama was brought to a close by the surrender of Admiral
Nebogatoff's ships, on Sunday afternoon, off the rocks of Liancourt. The
next morning the world stood thunderstruck as it heard of the utter
annihilation of Russia's proud fleet. Six battle-ships, five cruisers,
and many other smaller vessels sunk, and two battle-ships, with several
defence ships or destroyers, _captured_. It was this last item that was
most significant. Even Spain had gone down fighting, on the coast of
Cuba and off Manila, under the withering fire of Dewey, Sampson, and
Schley; for the first time in modern warfare a battle-ship, nay, two of
them, had run up the white flag. Truly Russia, haughty Russia, which
"never carried to the front material from which to make a flag of
truce," had been humbled in the dust. And in the Winter Palace of
Tsarskoe-Selo the pale young Czar was weeping.



CHAPTER XXVII.

ORDERED HOME.


"Ow-yow!" yawned Midshipman Robert Starr in the wardroom of the
_Osprey_. "I'm tired of this dodging back and forth between two fires,
with no chance for a slap at either of them. We might have got up a good
scrap over Junk, here," he added, patting the Newfoundland's broad head,
and looking reproachfully at Liddon.

The dog yawned, as if in sympathy with the young officer, and stretched
himself at full length on the deck, his paws under the mess-table.

"You're teaching our coloured friend bad manners, Bob," laughed the
ensign, giving Junk a playful push with his foot. "Get up, there, you
old peripatetic door-mat, and muster on the forecastle. There's no room
for yawners down here."

"I consider that remark personal," retorted Bob, as he rose. "I'm going
to--" Here he was interrupted by the entrance of a marine, who announced
that the captain wished to see his officers in the after cabin.

"What's up now, I wonder?" said Staples, leading the way to the
commander's quarters.

"Oh, another wildly exciting cruise to Woosung or Chemulpo, or Chefoo,
or some other old Che," sighed Starr. "I never was very fond of cheese,
anyway!"

When they entered the cabin their undignified deportment was laid aside.

Rexdale's eyes were sparkling. He evidently had important and
pleasurable news to communicate.

"Gentlemen," said he, "I have just received orders from the Department.
The _Osprey_ is to change her station once more." Bob groaned softly,
under his breath. "This time," continued Dave, "our port of destination
is not Cavite or Shanghai. We are to sail due east. We are ordered
home!"

Every officer sprang to his feet. "Hurrah!" shouted Bob, forgetful alike
of dignity and discipline. "I beg your pardon, sir," he stammered, the
blood rushing to his cheeks; "but that's grand news! If the Secretary
were here I'd hug him!"

The commander now explained that the _Osprey_ was ordered to proceed to
Mare Island, where she would be thoroughly overhauled, renovated, and
practically remodelled. She was old-fashioned, but the Department
believed they could make of her a valuable defence ship, in accordance
with modern ideas of ship-building. As soon as she should go out of
commission her officers and crew were to report, some on various
war-ships in the eastern Pacific, some for shore duty, and still others,
including the three officers of highest rank, at Washington, where they
would be assigned to new duties. Bob's face fell a little at this
announcement, but he was happy in the thought of a change, and a sojourn
in home waters. Little Dobson was one of those who were to go on shore,
and he had visions of a leave of absence which would give him time to
race across the continent to his own home and that of a certain
commandant whose daughter was named Mary. By the next mail letters went
to Wynnie and Edith Black, from Bob Starr and Liddon respectively. It is
needless to say that Dave wrote to Hallie within two hours after the
receipt of the orders. The news quickly spread through the ship, and
great was the rejoicing.

While the Russian fleet was irresolutely moving to and fro in Eastern
waters, and Linevitch, having succeeded Kouropatkin, was reorganising
his shattered army and preparing for a new encounter with the victorious
Oyama south of Harbin, the women of Japan worked unceasingly for home
and country.

The great military hospital at Hiroshima comprised eight divisions, with
a total capacity of seventeen thousand beds. In the largest of the
divisions a visitor merely passing the foot of each bed would walk six
miles. Nearly all of these beds were now occupied, and Red Cross nurses
from the United States passed to and fro among the sufferers, side by
side with their dark sisters of the Orient, in gentlest ministration.

Fred Larkin had soon recovered sufficiently to be removed to private
quarters, from which, pale and emaciated, but with indomitable pluck and
returning energy, he emerged a few weeks later. Letters from the
_Bulletin_ recalled him to Massachusetts, and he unwillingly obeyed,
realising that the great naval battle was close at hand. He read the
news of the destruction of the Russian fleet the day after his arrival
in San Francisco.

In a small room--one of those set apart for officers--a Japanese soldier
lay on a cot bed, gazing languidly out of the open window toward the
east. Walls, counterpane, and the single garment--a kimono--which the
patient wore, were of spotless white. Beside the bed sat a little nurse,
fanning the sick man, who now and then spoke to her in his own language,
though so quietly that his attendant could scarcely hear him.

"O-Hana-San----"

"Yes, Oshima, I am here!"

"The time?"

"It is morning--five o'clock."

The sick man was silent for a few moments. Then his eye fell upon a
streak of gold which fell upon the wall.

"Ah!" he said softly, "the rising sun!"

Again he was silent. When he spoke once more he turned his head toward
the girl and looked into her eyes.

"And--you must go--you must leave me, Hana?"

"Yes," she answered sorrowfully. "I am ordered. The naval hospital at
Sasebo is crowded with new patients from the great sea battle. There are
not nurses enough. I am ordered to go to-day."

"If you find Oto--tell him--Oshima sends his love by O-Hana-San. Tell
him Oshima--is--ordered home! _Banzai dai Nippon!_"

His eyes closed. O-Hana-San bent over him, then hurried for the surgeon
on duty.

"He will not waken," said that official. "He was a brave man."

Two days later a grey-haired man passed slowly out of the door of the
villa that had been the home of Oshima's boyhood, in the little town by
the sea. He paused beside a red slab which was posted before the house,
and on which was written, in Japanese characters, "_Gone to the Front_."
Then he stooped painfully and placed beside the first post another,
like many in that village, and before other homes, all over Japan. It
was black, and bore the simple inscription, "_Bravery Forever_."


"Oto, Oto Owari! It is I! See, it is O-Hana-San! I have come to help
you--to make you well!"

Oto opened his eyes and turned his bandaged head on the pillow. His
little playmate of years gone by was kneeling beside his cot, her great
brown eyes moist and pleading--pleading with him not to die, not to join
Oshima in the strange unknown shadows to which he had gone. She was
quite satisfied that her hero should be deprived of the inscription
"Bravery Forever"--for the present at least!

It was a hard fight for life, but the good surgeon of the ward, and the
girl's unceasing care, and Oto's own fine constitution and determination
to live for her, won the victory. While many died on every side, and the
mournful stretchers came and went, and the black posts increased in
number throughout the empire, the young commander steadily grew better,
until he was discharged "well"; to take his place once more, with higher
rank, on the quarter-deck of a fine new cruiser. On the day when he left
the hospital he married O-Hana-San. On that same day, the fifth of
September, 1905, the Treaty of Peace between Russia and Japan was signed
by the envoys of the two countries at Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Two weeks after the great battle of the Sea of Japan a war-ship, with
hull white as snow, was ploughing the waters of the Pacific with her
prow pointed due east. Land was still in sight astern, and over her
taffrail floated the beautiful Stars and Stripes. The _Osprey_ was
homeward bound.


THE END.



BOOKS BY JAMES OTIS


THE LIFE SAVERS. A Story of the United States Life-Saving Service. Large
12mo, 328 pages, illustrated, $1.50.

The story is an exceedingly good one, and has interested me very much,
but my especial admiration has been for the extremely intelligent and
careful elucidation it contains of the methods and operations of the
service. You have made it accurate, and interesting and valuable. It
conveys certainly as good an idea of the operations of the Life-Saving
Service as anything I have ever read. I might almost say the best. The
illustrations are excellent, and taking the book all in all you may well
have pride in it. (S. J. KIMBALL, General Superintendent Life-Saving
Service.)

... Puts in the form of a story the obscure daring of the noble American
coast-guard service full of heroic daring and of the victories of
peace.--_Churchman._

This is one of the best books of this season, or any season. The book is
well made, and the subject is one of intense interest. The Life-Saving
Service to which it relates, is a great and noble work, the extent and
value of which, perhaps, few understand.--_Living Church._

"The Life Savers" is a fascinating and instructive story of the United
States Life-Saving Service.--_Boston Beacon._


THE LOBSTER CATCHERS. A Story of the Coast of Maine. 12mo, cloth, gilt
top, illustrated $1.50

It is a description of the way the lobster fishery is carried on, told
in the form of a story, which is full of stirring incidents other than
those connected with the subject proper. The author knows how to tell a
good story, and this is really one of his best.--_Boston Transcript._

The boy who prefers rather to look around him than backward, if he
chances to live by the seashore, may be commended to James Otis's
"Lobster Catchers, a Story of the Coast of Maine." Mr. Otis's book has a
flavor of the salt sea and touches of realism in it that are certain to
make it attractive.--_Churchman._

A lively yarn for the boys about coast and fishing life. Will give
landsmen a good idea of some phases of existence at the shore.
Handsomely issued. Will sustain the writer's
popularity.--_Congregationalist._

This story of the coast of Maine describes the lobster industry, and
shows how it was made to serve the purposes of a lad who was sadly in
need of money, helping him on in a life of good, honest work and
happiness. Mr. Otis's books are always right in tone, and likely to
encourage boys in straight-forward endeavor rather than dazzle them by
tales of marvellous good luck.--_Christian Register._


AN AMATEUR FIREMAN.--Illustrated by WM. M. CARY. 12mo, 326 pages, cloth,
gilt top $1.50

... A lively tale in which are depicted the wonderful machinery of the
New York Fire Department and the human life that throbs with the
machine. A first-rate story is mingled with the descriptive text, and
the fortunes of the Amateur will absorb the interest of every
reader.--_Book Buyer._

This is a capital story for boys by the well-known author of "Toby
Tyler." Besides being entertaining, the book is a useful antidote to the
idea that all street boys are vicious and worthless, and it enforces the
lessons of industry and proper ambition.--_N. Y. Observer._

The story is droll, full of action and interesting
incident.--_Churchman._


E. P. DUTTON & CO., Publishers
31 West Twenty-third Street, New York



BOOKS BY PAUL CRESWICK


ROBIN HOOD AND HIS ADVENTURES

8vo, cloth, gilt top      $2.50

Fully illustrated in colors, and black and white by T. H. ROBINSON.

To the boy mind there is no more interesting subject than Robin Hood.

Mr. Creswick has made a thorough study of his subject from all sources
and we believe he has written the best boy's rendering of Robin Hood yet
produced.


HASTINGS, THE PIRATE

12mo, cloth, gilt top, illustrated by T. H. ROBINSON.

$1.50


IN ALFRED'S DAYS

A Story of Saga the Dane. Illustrated, 12mo, cloth.

$1.50

Full of life and fire. Reproduces the far past with vividness. The
illustrations also are superior. A fine book.--_Congregationalist._

This story, so worthy the telling, has been set forth with stirring
words and vigorous speech in this volume so appropriately bound and
illustrated. This makes another splendid gift book.--_Living Church._


UNDER THE BLACK RAVEN

Illustrated by T. H. ROBINSON, 12mo, cloth      $1.50

Writers of juvenile fiction are awakening to the consciousness that the
charm exercised upon sensitive children by Scott and certain other elder
writers lies in the very strangeness of their style, in its removal from
the newspaper and the school book.

Mr. Paul Creswick gives it in a story entitled "Under the Black Raven,"
and recounting the deeds of Sweyn Harfage, when, armed by Alfred, he
went forth to claim his own, and, after much good fighting, won it, and
many another thing. The illustrations are Mr. T. H. Robinson's and are
worthy of both style and story.--_Boston Journal._

A spirited and striking picture of olden times in Denmark before
Christianity dawned on that land. The interest of the story centres in
the conflicting claims of two Danish factions. The Ravens and The
Dragons--signifying the emblems under which they fought.

The story gives a vivid picture of the rude wars of remote times.--_The
Outlook._


E. P. DUTTON & CO., Publishers
31 West Twenty-third Street, New York





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The North Pacific - A Story of the Russo-Japanese War" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home