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Title: The 'Ayesha' being the adventures of the landing squad of the 'Emden'
Author: Mücke, Hellmuth von
Language: English
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[Illustration: cover]



                             THE "AYESHA"

[Illustration: VON MÜCKE]



                            _The_ "AYESHA"
                                 BEING
                  THE ADVENTURES OF THE LANDING SQUAD
                                OF THE
                                "EMDEN"


                                  BY
                            KAPITÄNLEUTNANT
                          HELLMUTH VON MÜCKE

                     TRANSLATED BY HELENE S. WHITE


                         [Illustration: Logo]


                           RITTER & COMPANY
                             BOSTON, MASS.



                          Copyright, 1917, by
                           RITTER & COMPANY

            _All rights reserved, including the translation
          into foreign languages, including the Scandinavian_


                     First Printing, January, 1917
                    Second Printing, February, 1917


                        THE · PLIMPTON · PRESS
                      NORWOOD · MASS · U · S · A



                         TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE


The translator has so enjoyed rendering this little volume into
English, that she feels impelled to testify to the pleasure it gave
her, and to express a hope that it may find many readers who will
follow its record of valiant deeds with as great interest.

That men placed in almost daily peril of their lives can retain their
sense of humor and a kindly attitude toward men and circumstances
throughout a desperate struggle with adverse conditions is a happy
testimony to the buoyancy and to the superiority to the merely physical
that courage in the face of danger begets.

Although always bravely confident, there is an engaging ingenuousness
and freedom from self-conceit in Lieutenant von Mücke's delightful
recital of his amazing achievement, while his never failing
appreciation of the humorous side of the situation illumines the entire
narrative as with flashes of sunshine.

The translator desires also to acknowledge her indebtedness to an
earlier but unpublished translation of the book by Mrs. Anne Richmond
Vaughan.

                                                        HELENE S. WHITE
  January, 4th, 1917.



                               FOREWORD


 That TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION is amply illustrated in the
 following gripping narrative. I have read practically all the stories
 and yarns of this war, many in their original languages, but I have
 found none to surpass this interesting tale. In the years to come, all
 men, especially those "who go down to the sea in ships," will find
 in these adventures some very profitable lessons in perseverance,
 resourcefulness and courage. Although this feat may be dimmed by the
 light of the major operations of the war, I predict that no reader who
 has once started to read this book will fail to complete it, nor on
 completion, will he fail to say that he has enjoyed a most interesting
 series of adventures.

                                           J. H. KLEIN, JR.,
                                               _Lieutenant, U.S. Navy_.

  WASHINGTON, D.C.
  3 January, 1917



                               CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                            PAGE
     I. KEELING ISLAND                                                 1

    II. THE _AYESHA_                                                  12

   III. ON BOARD                                                      27

    IV. A FINE DAY ON BOARD                                           39

     V. AN UNEASY DAY                                                 45

    VI. PADANG                                                        53

   VII. THE MEETING WITH THE _CHOISING_                               76

  VIII. THE PASSING OF THE _AYESHA_                                   88

    IX. FROM PERIM TO HODEIDA                                         98

     X. ON TO SANAA                                                  121

    XI. SHIPWRECK                                                    140

   XII. THE ATTACK                                                   160

  XIII. TO THE RAILROAD                                              204

   XIV. HOMEWARD BOUND                                               220



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


  Kapitänleutnant von Mücke (after his return)            _Frontispiece_

  The _Ayesha_                                                 _page_ 16

  Von Mücke (from an earlier photograph)                          "   72

  View of Hodeida    }
  Crossing the Desert}                                            "  132

  Map of Arabia                                                   "  166

  Map showing the entire trip from Keeling
  Islands to Constantinople                                       "  218



                             THE "AYESHA"



                               CHAPTER I

                           _KEELING ISLAND_


"I report for duty the landing squad from the ship,--three officers,
six petty officers, and forty men strong."

It was on the ninth of November, 1914, at six o'clock in the morning
that I reported for duty to the commanding officer of His Majesty's
ship, _Emden_, Captain von Mueller, at the gangway of the ship. The
_Emden_ was lying at anchor in Port Refuge, a harbor formed by Keeling
Reefs. Alongside were the two cutters in which the officers and men of
the landing squad had already taken their places. The steam launch was
ready to push off and tow them ashore. My orders were to destroy the
wireless telegraph and cable station on Direction Island, which is the
most northerly island of the Keeling group, and to bring back with me,
in so far as possible, all signal books, secret code books, and the
like.

Three cables run from Direction Island, one line to Mauritius, another
to Perth in Australia, and a third to Batavia. As this station was
the last absolutely British connection between Australia and the
motherland--the other cables having been cut by some of the other ships
of our cruising fleet--we had every reason to suppose that we would
meet with vigorous military resistance. For this reason we were taking
with us all of the four machine guns that the _Emden_ carried. Two were
aboard the steam launch, the others had been put on the cutters. The
men were equipped with rifles, side arms, and pistols. The launch took
the cutters in tow, and we were off for Direction Island.

Even quite small boats must pick their way very carefully while within
the waters of this atoll,[1] in order to avoid the numerous, constantly
changing coral reefs. The course that we were to take from the ship to
the point at which we were to land, covered a distance of about 3000
meters.

Direction Island is very flat, and is covered with a luxuriant growth
of tall palms. Among their towering tops we could discern the roofs of
the European houses and the high tower of the wireless station. This
was our objective point, and I gave orders to steer directly for it.
Just below our landing place a small white sailing vessel was riding at
anchor.

"Shall we destroy that, too?" inquired one of my lieutenants, pointing
to the little schooner.

"Certainly," was my answer. "It has sailed on its last voyage. Detail a
man at once to be ready with the explosive cartridges."

With our machine guns and fire-arms ready for action, we landed at a
little dock on the beach, without meeting with resistance of any kind,
and, falling into step, we promptly proceeded to the wireless station.
The destruction of the little white sail-boat was deferred for the time
being, as I wished first of all to find out how affairs on shore would
develop.

We quickly found the telegraph building and the wireless station,
took possession of both of them, and so prevented any attempt to send
signals. Then I got hold of one of the Englishmen who were swarming
about us, and ordered him to summon the director of the station, who
soon made his appearance,--a very agreeable and portly gentleman.

"I have orders to destroy the wireless and telegraph station, and I
advise you to make no resistance. It will be to your own interest,
moreover, to hand over the keys of the several houses at once, as that
will relieve me of the necessity of forcing the doors. All fire-arms
in your possession are to be delivered immediately. All Europeans on
the island are to assemble in the square in front of the telegraph
building."

The director seemed to accept the situation very calmly. He assured me
that he had not the least intention of resisting, and then produced
a huge bunch of keys from out his pocket, pointed out the houses in
which there was electric apparatus of which we had as yet not taken
possession, and finished with the remark: "And now, please accept my
congratulations."

"Congratulations! Well, what for?" I asked with some surprise.

"The Iron Cross has been conferred on you. We learned of it from the
Reuter telegram that has just been sent on."

We now set to work to tear down the wireless tower. The men in charge
of the torpedoes quickly set them in place. The stays that supported
the tower were demolished first, and then the tower itself was brought
down and chopped into kindling wood. In the telegraph rooms the Morse
machines were still ticking busily. What the messages were we could not
decipher, for they were all in secret code. But we chuckled with both
amusement and satisfaction as we pictured to ourselves the astonishment
of the senders, who were waiting in vain for a reply to their messages,
for, from the vigorous action of the apparatus, we concluded that some
information was eagerly desired. But this, to our regret, it was not in
our power to furnish.

Our next duty was quite to the taste of my vigorous boys in blue. A
couple of heavy axes were soon found, and, in a few minutes, Morse
apparatus, ink bottles, table legs, cable ends, and the like were
flying about the room. "Do the work thoroughly!" had been our orders.
Every nook and corner were searched for reserve apparatus and other
like matter, and everything that bore any semblance of usefulness in a
wireless station was soon destroyed. Unfortunately this fate was shared
by a seismometer that had been set up on the island. In their zeal my
men had mistaken it for a lately invented addition to the telegraph
service.

To locate and cut the submarine cables was the most difficult part
of our task. A chart, showing the directions in which the cables
extended, was not to be found in the station, but close to the shore we
discovered a number of sign-boards bearing the inscription, "Cables."
This, therefore, must be the place where we must search for the ends of
the cable strands. Back and forth the steam launch carried us over the
cables that were plainly to be seen in the clear water as we tried to
grasp them with a couple of drags and heavy dredging hooks, which we
drew along the bottom. It was no light task, for the cables were very
heavy, and the only power at our command was a very limited amount of
human strength. For a while, it seemed impossible to draw the cables to
the surface; in the end, after we had succeeded in raising the bight
of the cable a little, my men had to get into the water, dive, and tie
tackle to it, by the aid of which we continued our labor. With great
difficulty we at length succeeded in getting the cable strands into
the boat. I did not want to use any of the dynamite cartridges for the
work of destruction, as the _Emden_ might have need of them for the
sinking of more steamers. So we set to work upon the stout cables with
crowbars, axes, driving chisels, and other like implements. After long
and weary labor, we succeeded in cutting through two of them, and we
then dragged the ends out to sea, and dropped them there. The third
cable was not to be found in spite of our diligent search for it.

A small house of corrugated iron, in which were stored quantities of
reserve apparatus and all sorts of duplicate parts, was blown up and
set on fire with a couple of explosive cartridges. All newspapers,
books, Morse tapes, and the like, we took away with us.

Our landing squad was just about to re-embark when, from the _Emden_,
came the signal "Hurry your work." I quickly summoned my men, abandoned
my intention of blowing up the small white schooner as a matter of
little importance, and was on the point of pushing off from shore,
when it was reported to me: "The _Emden_ has just sounded her siren."
This was the command to return to the ship with the utmost despatch.
As I was boarding the steam launch, I saw that the anchor flag of the
_Emden_ was flying at half mast, which told us that she was weighing
anchor. The reason for this great haste was a mystery to me, and,
for the present, was no concern of mine. All my effort was bent upon
getting back to the ship as speedily as possible. With all steam on we
raced toward the _Emden_, taking the shortest course between the reefs.

Meanwhile, the _Emden_ had turned seaward, and was running at high
speed out of the harbor. My first thought was that she was going to
meet our tender, the _Buresk_, that had been ordered here with coal,
and which, I supposed, she was going to pilot through the reefs. In
this belief I continued to follow the _Emden_ as fast as I could, but
was surprised to find her going at a speed of from sixteen to seventeen
miles. Our launch, with the heavily laden cutters in tow, could make
barely four miles an hour.

Suddenly we saw the battle flags on the _Emden_ run up, and then a
broadside burst from her starboard. Even yet the reason for all this
was hidden from me, and I believed the _Emden_ to be in pursuit of a
steamer that had come in view.

But now a salvo of five heavy shells struck the water just aft of
the _Emden_; five tall waterspouts marked the places where they fell
into the sea. There was no longer any room for doubt; we knew that a
battle was on in earnest. The _Emden's_ opponent we could not see,
for the island, with its tall palms, was between us. The _Emden_, in
the meantime, had increased her distance from us to several thousand
meters, and was adding to her speed with every moment. All hope of
overtaking her had therefore to be abandoned, and I turned back.



                              CHAPTER II

                            _THE "AYESHA"_


We landed at the same place at which we had gone ashore before. Again I
ordered all the Englishmen to assemble, and their fire-arms were taken
from them. The German flag was raised on the island, which was declared
to be under martial law; every attempt to communicate by signal with
any other island, or with the enemy's ships, was forbidden; my officers
were given orders to clear the beach for defence, to mount the machine
guns, and to prepare to intrench. Should the engagement between the two
ships prove to be a short one, I could count with certainty upon the
enemy's cruiser running into port here, if for no other reason than to
look after the station. It was not my intention, however, to surrender
without a blow an island on which the German flag was flying.

The Englishmen on the island were little pleased at the prospect, and
begged permission, in case it should come to a battle, to withdraw to
one of the other islands. Their request was granted.

Accompanied by two of my signal men, I now took my station on the roof
of the highest house to watch the fight between the two cruisers. As
a whole, the Englishmen showed little interest in the conflict that
was going on but a few thousand meters distant from the island. Other
matters seemed to claim their attention. With an ingratiating smile one
of them stepped up to our officers, who were head over ears in work
down on the beach, and asked:

"Do you play tennis?"

It was an invitation which, under the circumstances, we felt compelled
to decline.

By the time I had reached the roof, the fight between the _Emden_ and
the other cruiser was well under way. I could not identify the enemy's
ship, but, judging from her structure, and the amount of water raised
by the falling shells, I concluded that it must be one of the two
Australian cruisers, the _Sydney_ or the _Melbourne_. As the columns
of water raised by the enemy's shells were much taller than those
caused by the _Emden's_, I estimated the guns of the enemy to be of 15
centimeter caliber.

The _Sydney_, for she it was, as I learned later, was more than a match
for the _Emden_. Our ship of 3600 tons displacement could deliver a
broadside of only five 10-1/2 centimeter guns, and had no side armor,
whereas the _Sydney_, being a vessel of 5700 tons displacement, could
fire a broadside of five 15.2 centimeter guns, and had armored sides.
From the very beginning, the _Emden's_ fire reached its mark on the
enemy's cruiser, whose guns, it must be said, were aimed pretty badly.
The water spouts that were raised by their falling shells were mostly
several hundred meters distant from one another. But when one of the
volleys did hit, it made havoc on our unarmored vessel.

During the very first of the fight, the forward smoke stack of the
_Emden_ was shot away and lay directly across the deck. Another shell
crashed into the stern aft of the cabin, and started a great blaze,
the gray smoke of which was mixed with white steam, showing that the
steam pipes had been damaged. The _Emden_ now turned sharply about
and made a dash for her foe, apparently for the purpose of making a
torpedo attack. It cost her her foremast, which was shot away and fell
overboard. For the moment it seemed as though the enemy's ship intended
to discontinue the fight, for she turned and ran at high speed,
followed by the _Emden_. Whether the _Sydney_ had suffered serious
damage which could not be discerned from without, I could not tell.
Perhaps it was simply her intention to increase her fighting distance
from the _Emden_, in order to take advantage of the greater caliber of
her guns. The running fight between the two ships now took a northerly
course at an ever increasing distance from the island, and soon the two
cruisers, still fighting, were lost to view beyond the horizon.

The point for me to settle now was what to do with the landing squad.
So far as our ship was concerned, the damage she had suffered at the
hands of a far superior foe was so great that a return to the island,
even in the event of a most favorable outcome of the battle, was out of
the question. She must run for the nearest port where she could make
repairs, bury her dead, and leave her wounded. At the same time I could
count with certainty upon the arrival of an English war vessel ere long
in Keeling harbor, to learn what had befallen the cable and wireless
station. For, had not the telegraphic service to Australia, Batavia and
Mauritius been cut off entirely?

[Illustration: THE _AYESHA_]

With our four machine guns and twenty-nine rifles we could, for the
time at least, have prevented the English from making a landing on
the island, but against the fire of the English cruiser's heavy guns,
which would then have been directed against us, we would have had no
defence whatever. Taking everything into consideration, therefore, we
could do no more than defer the surrender of a position that, from the
outset, it had been impossible to hold. Moreover, confinement in an
English prison was little to our taste.

Now, fortunately for us, the small white schooner that we had failed
to blow up was still riding at anchor in the harbor. It could, and it
should help us to escape from our predicament. I decided to leave the
island on the little boat. Her name was _Ayesha_,[2] and at one time
she had served to carry copra from Keeling to Batavia two or three
times a year, and to bring provisions back with her on her return trip.
Now that steamship service had been established between these two
points, she lay idle and dismantled in the harbor, and was gradually
falling into decay.

Taking no one with me, I got into the steam launch and went out to the
schooner to learn whether she was at all seaworthy. The captain and
a single sailor were aboard her. Of the former I inquired casually
whether he had any ammunition aboard, for I did not wish him to suspect
the real purpose of my coming. He said there was none, and a brief
inspection of the ship led me to believe that she was still seaworthy.
Consequently I sent my officers and men aboard the _Ayesha_ to get her
into trim for sailing.

There was plenty to do on the little ship. All the sails and rigging
had been taken down and stowed away, and had now to be put in place
again.

When the Englishmen on the island realized that it was my intention
to sail off in the schooner, they warned me with great earnestness
against trusting ourselves to her, saying that the _Ayesha_ was old and
rotten, and could not stand a sea voyage. Furthermore, they informed me
that an English man-of-war, the _Minotaur_, and a Japanese cruiser were
in the vicinity of the island, and that we would surely fall a prey to
one of them.

As my predecessor in command of the _Ayesha_ was leaving her, he wished
us Godspeed, and concluded with the comforting remark, "But the ship's
bottom is worn through."

When, in spite of all these warnings, we remained firm in our purpose,
and continued the work of getting the _Ayesha_ ready for sea, the
sporting side of the situation began to appeal to the Englishmen, and
they almost ran their legs off in their eagerness to help us. Could
it have been gratitude that impelled them to lend us their aid? It
is a question I have never been able to answer to my satisfaction,
although, to be sure, several of them _did_ express a feeling of relief
at the thought that now the fatiguing telegraph service with its many
hours of overwork, and its lack of diversion, was a thing of the past.
They showed us where the provisions and water were kept, and urgently
advised us to take provisions from the one side, where they were new
and fresh, rather than from the other, where they were stale. They
fetched out cooking utensils, water, barrels of petroleum, old clothes,
blankets, and the like, and themselves loaded them on trucks and
brought them to us. From every side invitations to dinner poured down
upon us; my men were supplied with pipes and tobacco; in short, the
Englishmen did all they could to help us out.

Nor were they sparing with advice as to the course we ought to take,
and time proved that all they told us of wind and weather, of currents,
etc., was in every way trustworthy. As the last of our boats left the
shore, the Englishmen gave us three hearty cheers, wished us a safe
journey, and expressed their gratitude for the "moderation" which we
had shown in the discharge of our duty, wherein all of our men had
behaved "generously," they said. Then, cameras in hand, they still
swarmed about the _Ayesha_, taking pictures of her.

Meanwhile the lookout on our ship reported that the two battling
cruisers had come into sight again. From the top of the _Ayesha's_
mast I could at first see only the thick cloud of black smoke that
the _Sydney's_ smoke stack was belching forth, but soon the masts,
smoke stacks and upper deck came in sight. Of the _Emden_ I could see
only one smoke stack and one mast; the rest of the ship was below the
horizon. Both cruisers were steering an easterly course, and both were
still firing their guns.

Suddenly, at full speed, the _Sydney_ made a dash at the _Emden_.
"Now," thought I, "the _Emden's_ last gun has been silenced, and the
_Sydney_ is running at her to deal her her death blow." But then, in
the black smoke of the English ship, between the foremast and the
nearest smoke stack, a tall column of water shot up, which could only
be the result of a serious explosion. We supposed that it was caused
by a well-aimed torpedo shot from the _Emden_. The _Sydney_, which was
still running at a speed of twenty nautical miles, now made a quick
turn to starboard, changed her course entirely, and steamed slowly
westward. The _Emden_ continued to steer an easterly course. Both ships
were still firing at each other, but the distance between them grew
greater and greater, until finally they were beyond the reach of each
other's guns. The fight was over. In the approaching darkness both
vessels were soon lost to sight beyond the horizon. That was the last
we saw of them. The conflict, which had begun at about 8.30 in the
morning, ended at six o'clock in the evening. The report, published in
all the English newspapers, that it was only a "sixty minutes' running
fight" is therefore to be classed with the many similarly false
reports made by the English.

The oncoming darkness now warned me to make my way as speedily as
possible out of the harbor, for the dangers of the coral reefs render
it unsafe for navigation after nightfall. In the meantime we had taken
aboard water enough for four weeks, and provisions for eight. The sails
had been bent on as best they could be. I made a short speech, and
with three cheers for the Emperor, first in command, the war flag and
pennant fluttered up to the masthead of His Majesty's latest ship, the
schooner _Ayesha_. Slowly the steam launch took us in tow. I climbed
to the top of the foremast, as from there I could best discern where
lay the reefs and the shoals, for of charts we had none. With the
boatswain's whistle I gave the launch orders to steer to starboard or
to port, according to the lay of the reefs. The _Emden's_ two cutters
we carried in tow.

Our departure was much too slow to suit us. The sun was setting, and
in these latitudes, so near the equator, there is no twilight. No
sooner has the sun disappeared below the horizon than the blackness of
midnight reigns. We had not passed quite through the danger zone of the
reefs before it grew so dark that, from my position on the foremast,
I could not see ahead sufficiently far to direct our course. In order
to be able to see anything at all, I climbed down into the port fore
channels close by the water, and gave my orders from there.

Just as we were passing the last reef that might prove dangerous to
us, we spent some anxious moments. Suddenly, in spite of the darkness,
I could see every pebble, every bit of seaweed on the bottom, an
unmistakable evidence that we were in very shallow water. Our lucky
star guided us over this shoal also, however, and we did not run
aground.

Meanwhile we had set some sail, and had thus lightened the work of the
steam launch, which still had us in tow. Before long we were free of
the sheltering islands, and the long, heavy swells of the ocean put
some motion into our new ship.

When we were far enough out at sea to sail our boat without danger of
running into the surf to leeward, I called the steam launch back to the
ship, so as to take off the crew. The heavy swell made this manoeuvre
no light task. Again and again the little steamboat was dashed against
the side of the _Ayesha_, and, although the future of the launch was of
little interest to me, this unexpected encounter between my old ship
and my new one gave me serious concern. I had no confidence in the
_Ayesha's_ ability to endure with safety such vigorous demonstrations
of friendship. Finally, however, we succeeded in ridding ourselves
of the steam launch in this way: the last man aboard her started her
engine again with the little steam that was left in the boiler. Then,
from aboard the _Ayesha_, we reached over with a boat hook, and turned
the rudder of the steam launch to port. Curtesying elegantly, the
little boat drew away from us, and soon vanished in the darkness.
Whither it went, I do not know. In all likelihood it found a grave in
the surf that beat wildly only a few hundred meters away. Perhaps,
however, it is still beating about the ocean, raiding on its own
account.



                              CHAPTER III

                              _ON BOARD_


On the following day we undertook a closer inspection of our new
abiding place. The _Ayesha_ was a ship of 97 tonnage, as we learned
from an inscription on one of the beams in the hold. Her length was
about thirty meters, and her width somewhere between seven or eight.
She was rigged with three masts. Of these, the after two, the mainmast
and the mizzen-mast, carried only fore and aft sails, whereas the
foremast had two square sails. The ship was originally intended to be
manned by a crew of five, besides the captain. There were now fifty
of us aboard her. Provision for berthing the crew had been made in a
special crew's cabin in the extreme forward part of the ship. But here
there was room for only six men at the most; the rest of my crew had to
sleep in the hold.

When we took possession of the _Ayesha_ there was no cargo aboard
her--nothing but iron ballast in the hold. Luxurious couches my men
surely did not have, for we had brought with us from Keeling but few
blankets and mattresses. For the time being, the men slept in a spare
sail spread over the iron ballast. In time, however, they would be able
to better their condition considerably. They therefore went busily to
work at making hammocks out of old ropes which they untwisted, out
of twine, and out of old sail cloth torn into strips, and other like
material. These hammocks were swung wherever a place could be found for
them, and afforded the occupants relief from the rather violent motion
of the ship.

Below deck, aft of the hold, were two small cabins originally fitted
out for sleeping rooms, but in which we were compelled to store our
provisions. Moreover, swarms of huge cockroaches made them impossible
as living rooms. In the extreme after part of the ship was another
small cabin, designated by a sign over the door as navigation room. In
it the petty officers were quartered.

On deck was a little deck house. This was divided into two cabins, with
a bed in each. One of them I occupied myself; the other was shared
by my two lieutenants. Adjoining these cabins was another tiny one,
furnished with a table and a few small benches. This served us as mess,
as navigation, smoking and wine room, as saloon and for occupation by
the officer whose watch it happened to be.

Our commissary department was carried on under many difficulties. To be
sure, the canned provisions that we had taken with us from Keeling were
of an excellent quality, but the caboose, that is, the ship's kitchen,
was, of course, planned for cooking to be done for only five men, and
the Lilliputian hearth was in no way sufficient for our needs. Nor
could the fresh water we had with us be used for cooking, as the supply
was sufficient only for drinking purposes. To enlarge our cooking
facilities we brought pieces of iron ballast from the hold, and with
this and some strips of tin torn from places in the ship where it was
not absolutely necessary, we fashioned a fire-proof hearth, and in this
improvised fire-place we kindled an open fire. Around it, in a circle,
sat the men holding the cooking pots on rods over the fire, until the
food was cooked. To set the cooking utensils on the fire and leave them
there was quite impossible, as the rolling motion of the ship would
soon have dislodged them.

All our cooking was done with salt water. What each day's bill of fare
was to be, we left to the decision of the cook. We did not fare poorly
on the _Ayesha_ by any means. For the most part our meals consisted of
rice cooked with fruit, smoked sausage, corned beef, or the like.

The drinking problem was a more difficult one. Aboard our little ship
we had found four small iron water tanks in which a supply of fresh
water sufficient for a crew of five could easily be carried. These
tanks we had not had time to examine while getting the _Ayesha_ ready
for sea. We had been obliged to fill them as quickly as possible. Now,
with the small crew, only one tank had been used, and after a few
days we discovered that the other three had become foul. The water we
had put into them was therefore unfit to drink. The supply of bottled
Seltzer water which I had put aboard at Keeling, I felt must not be
used except in case of extreme emergency, for I had to reckon with the
possibility that the _Ayesha_ might prove unseaworthy, and that we
would have to abandon her, and take to the _Emden's_ two cutters, that
we had aboard. In that case, the bottled water would be all that we
could take with us.

We hoped to be able in a reasonably short time to replenish our water
supply by refilling with rain-water the three tanks in which the water
had fouled. In this hope we were not disappointed. On the thirteenth
of November, only four days after our departure from Keeling, the first
of the usual tropical rains set in. Our bad tanks had been cleaned
in the meantime, and an old sail got ready to catch the rain. It was
stretched horizontally across the main hatch. In the middle of the
sail was a hole, and directly under this hole a man was stationed with
a petroleum can, the kind in which the Standard Oil Company delivers
petroleum, and into which the rain-water ran. When it was full, it
was passed from hand to hand along a line of men until it reached the
tank into which it was to be emptied. In addition to this, the cabin
roof was arranged to catch rain-water. Along the edges of the roof we
fastened strips of moulding, and the water which collected on the roof
was conducted through two gutters into petroleum cans hung where they
emptied. This rain-water was not only fit to drink, but was rendered
quite palatable by the addition of a dash of lime juice, of which we
had fortunately found a few bottles among the provisions of the former
captain.

As, from this time forth, the tropical downpours set in with pleasing
regularity, every morning and every evening, our tanks were soon
full. In addition to these, all the available utensils and petroleum
cans were filled with water. These rainfalls were very welcome for
other reasons also. Since all the fresh water had to be reserved for
drinking purposes, our prospects for washing seemed rather dubious.
Soap will not dissolve in salt water, and to wash with salt water
alone is not cleansing. We therefore utilized these tropical downpours
to wash ourselves, and as shower baths, our necessity resulting in
the invention of a new sort of bath,--a swinging bath. To prevent the
rain-water from running off the deck, we stopped up the drain holes,
the so-called scuppers, with old rags. With the rolling motion of the
ship, the water which had thus been collected on the deck ran from one
side to the other, and so gave us a most excellent opportunity for a
bath, while the descending rain answered for a final shower.

Moreover, the _Ayesha_ carried two small jolly-boats, the one barely
large enough to hold two, the other to hold three men. These boats
hung on the davits near the deck house. They also were now used to
collect water by closing the drain holes with the plugs provided for
that purpose. Although we were disappointed to find that the water
contained in them was somewhat salty, and therefore unfit to drink, it
nevertheless served us very well for washing purposes.

For the ship's service the crew was divided into two watches, a
starboard and a port watch. Most of my men were, of course, wholly
unused to life on a sailing vessel, and the handling of the gear was
entirely new to them. This was particularly the case with the stokers,
who, naturally enough, had never seen service on a sailing vessel.
Still, there were among the crew a sufficient number of fishermen and
seamen who at some former time had served on sailing vessels, to make
it possible for me to handle the ship with safety. Whenever there was a
job to be done that required great physical strength, every man aboard
was available as so much man power.

At first the gear gave us much trouble. Most of the sails were old
and rotten, and tore at the slightest provocation, so that we were
constantly at work mending and patching the canvas. The tackle also
gave way frequently. We were therefore obliged to exercise the greatest
care during a squall, as we never knew just how much the masts could
bear.

The condition of the ship itself was not such as to inspire one with
any great degree of confidence. The captain's opinion, expressed in the
words, "The bottom is worn through," as he left the ship, seemed to be
well founded. When we went down into the hold and cautiously scraped
away at the planking, we discovered that the wood was red and rotten,
so much so, indeed, that we quickly stopped our scratching, as we had
no desire to poke the point of our knife into the Indian Ocean.

During the first days out we had a heavy swell astern, and the
_Emden's_ two cutters performed some wonderful dancing at the ends of
the long ropes by which we carried them in tow. In one of its wild
gyrations one of the cutters took a notion to catch on to the ship,
just under the overhanging stern. Usually such set-to's between a ship
and its jolly-boat end to the decided disadvantage of the latter, but
in this case the conditions were reversed. With a sharp plunge the nose
of the boat buried itself in the rotten wood of the stern, and broke
a plank above the water line. I had little desire for a repetition of
this performance. We therefore set the ill-mannered cutter adrift,
and so had but one left, which, for a while, behaved very well. But
this proper behavior was not of long duration, for, seized by an
overweening desire for its fellow, no doubt, the remaining cutter
departed one night, and carried with it a large piece of the bulwarks
to which it had been fastened. And again the break in the ship showed
red and rotten wood.

In those first days, the _Ayesha_ also leaked badly. In a short time we
had so much water in the ship, that it rose to the height of the iron
ballast on which the men slept. When we tried to work the ship's pump,
we found that it was out of order. The packing of the pistons was gone.
So we took the pump to pieces, got the piston out, replaced the missing
rubber packing with rags soaked in oil, and finally succeeded in
pumping the ship dry. Taking it all in all, the _Ayesha_ cut a pretty
sorry figure as a ship.

Had we had visitors at this period of our sea voyage, they would have
been amazed at the resemblance our costumes bore to those in vogue in
the Garden of Eden, for even aside from the times when we took our
tropical shower baths--then we wore nothing at all--our clothing
was very scant. For the landing at Keeling we had not only clothed
ourselves as lightly as possible, but I had given the men orders to
wear their oldest clothing. Now, with the continuous handling of the
sails, and the other strenuous work aboard the ship, our wearing
apparel was fast disappearing. Having neither needles nor thread, we
could not even mend it. To be sure, we had some garments that had been
given us at Keeling, but these served rather as a source of amusement
than as clothing. I had always had the impression that Englishmen
generally are tall and spare. Whether those at Keeling were an
exception, or what the reason was, I cannot say, but certain it is that
most of their trousers reached only to a little below the knees of my
men, and their jackets and blouses were big enough for two.



                              CHAPTER IV

                         _A FINE DAY ON BOARD_


Our men rose with the sun, at six o'clock in the morning. On war
vessels it is the custom to rouse the crew by a call of three long
trills given by all the petty officers at the same time on boatswains'
whistles. At this signal the men turn out and lash their hammocks. We
gave up the attempt to conform to this custom, as the noise that our
one boatswain's whistle could make would hardly have been loud enough
to attract the attention of waking men. The crew slept side by side,
packed like herrings in a box, and all that was needed to waken the
men, was to rouse the first one, who, in rising, could not fail to
waken his nearest neighbor, who, in turn, would waken the next, and so
on, until the last one was up.

After we were up, the next thing to be done was to wash, provided
there was water enough left in the jolly-boats from the night before.
If it so happened that we could not get a wash, we accepted the
situation with a cheerful spirit, as being quite in harmony with the
total absence of tooth-brushes aboard the ship. But our hair demanded
special attention, for it was growing longer and longer with every
day. The only comb that we possessed was passed from hand to hand,
each man's neighbor serving him as looking glass, while for hair tonic
we had most excellent salt water. There was even a shaving apparatus
for the dandies, the rusty condition of the razor, however, making it
necessary to use considerable caution.

Then came the cleaning of the ship. Water was hauled up in pails from
over the sides of the vessel, and dashed over the deck. A part of the
crew set to work at the pumps to rid the ship of the water that had
leaked in over night. The sailors were up in the shrouds, looking after
the latest damage that had been sustained there, and making repairs.
The cook, in the company of his own chosen helpers, was forward by
the caboose, busy with getting breakfast, for which, besides rice, we
also had coffee and tea. When this was over, there was really nothing
more for the men to do. No drilling could be attempted, for lack of
room. So we filled in the time occasionally by initiating the stokers,
and others unused to life on a sailing vessel, into the mysteries of
steering, of the compass, and of service in the rigging. At other times
the one chart of which the ship could boast was fetched out, and the
men were shown just where the ship lay. Many an idle hour was spent in
making plans for our future.

As for charts, besides special maps of Batavia, where we had no
intention of going, there was only the one large map that has been
mentioned, which represented the half of the globe, and accordingly
was on a very small scale. It began with Hong Kong and Borneo on the
east, and ended with Suez, Zanzibar, and Mozambique on the west. The
long distance, about 700 nautical miles, to Padang, the port to which I
intended to go, was represented on the chart by a space of no more than
a hand's breadth.

Meanwhile the dinner hour had arrived. As there were not enough plates,
forks, etc., to go round, we ate in relays. Each man's portion was
dished out by the cook under supervision of one of the petty officers
of the commissary department. With the dinner, a cup of coffee or tea
was also served. To while away the long afternoon, we prolonged the
meal as much as possible, and, when it was over, usually indulged in an
afternoon nap. The separation of officers and crew, as is customary on
board ship, was, of course, out of the question with us. The deck space
was but just large enough to accommodate all the men with some degree
of comfort on the upper deck.

Soon little groups had formed among the men, the members of which
gathered each afternoon at some favorite spot. There they would sit
or lounge, smoking or sleeping, or happy if it was their turn to have
the use of one of the few packs of cards that we had been able to
secure before we left Keeling. Some of our men were devoted fishermen.
Over the bulwarks, at every available spot, hung the fish lines in
waiting for an unwary fish, but I cannot remember that I ever heard
of one being caught. Can it be possible that this is to be ascribed
to a dislike for rice on the part of the fish? For rice was our only
bait. Reminiscences were exchanged, and rebuses, arithmetic questions,
conundrums, and the like, went the rounds.

In the evening, after supper was over and the sun was setting, the men
usually assembled forward on the deck, and sang. As there were a number
of good voices among them, their singing in chorus was very pleasing,
and, as usual when Germans are having a good time, the "Loreley" and
other like tragic songs were those that were oftenest sung. But
"Puppchen" and the "Song of the Reeperbahn" were not neglected.

No particular hour was set for turning in. Everyone lay down to sleep
when it suited him best, and the watches, that is, the forward lookout,
and the man at the wheel, themselves saw to it that they were relieved
at the right time. We carried no lights at night. We had but little
petroleum aboard, and the two oil lamps that we had, gave out more
smoke than light.



                               CHAPTER V

                            _AN UNEASY DAY_


Not always, however, did the days pass as uneventfully as the one
just described. Often we had to struggle against high gales and
thunder-gusts. In fact, they had to be reckoned with both morning and
evening of every day. As welcome as the thunder-storms were for the
supply of fresh water they brought us, we yet looked forward to them
with dread also, because of the strain on ship and rigging. In the
tropics the coming of a thunder-storm can be seen from afar, and the
time of its arrival quite accurately timed.

The approach of one of these storms was usually heralded by a few
dark clouds near the horizon, the falling rain showing as a long,
broad streak reaching from sky to ocean. As the clouds rose toward
the zenith, the columns of rain came visibly nearer. When the storm
was within a thousand meters of us, the sails were furled as far as
necessary, and we rode out the gale. We "laid to" then, with close
reefed sails, the ship's head close to the wind, until the gale, which
was always accompanied by a downpour of rain so heavy that we could see
nothing except what was immediately in front of us, was over.

One day we had an especially heavy thunder-storm. The clouds hung so
low that it seemed as though we could grasp them with our hands. The
wind set in more quickly than we had expected, and just as we had
begun to shorten our light sails, the tempest was upon us. It seized
the mizzen-topsail, and whipped it furiously through the air. The
men on deck could not hold it against the strain, it flew over the
mizzen-gaff, caught fast on it, and hung there. To secure it at the
time was impossible, because of the heavy rolling of the ship. For a
while, the flapping of the sail endangered the whole mizzen-topmast,
but more especially the slender upper part of the mast, which is
always only lightly stayed. Its violent motion filled us with anxiety.
Moreover, we were now in the worst of the gale, and had all we could
do to attend to the other sails. Nevertheless, we finally succeeded in
furling all the sails with the exception of a few bits of canvas that
had to be left out to give the ship steerage way.

The clouds were so heavy that it was almost as dark as night.
Unceasingly the lightning flashed about us, followed instantly by
a heavy clap of thunder. So near and so vivid were the flashes of
lightning, that they blinded us for the moment, and for seconds at a
time we could see nothing at all. It was a genuine little cyclone that
was sweeping over us.

Then the violent wind suddenly ceased as the center of the storm
reached us, and the air about us grew absolutely still. The high seas
and swells continued, however. The ship, suddenly robbed of its support
by the almost instant falling away of the wind, rolled so heavily from
side to side, that we feared the masts would go overboard without our
being able to do anything to prevent it. The atmosphere was filled with
electricity; on each of our mast-heads burned St. Elmo fires, a foot
high.

Slowly the thunder-storm passed over. After a few more brief but
violent gusts of the recurring gale, the wind died down and blew more
steadily and quietly. Soon nothing remained but a few distant flashes
of lightning to remind us of the anxious hours we had but just passed.
One after the other the sails were set, and we proceeded on our way.
But soon afterward, the wind died away entirely.

The times when we were becalmed were perhaps even more unpleasant than
when the wind paid us an over-amount of attention, for, with the high
and never-ceasing ocean swells, our ship rolled very heavily whenever
there was no breeze to drive her. Then the sails, no longer filled
by the wind, flapped from side to side, and when the heavy booms went
over, the whole ship shivered, and the masts trembled. At such times
we often thought it best to furl all sails, and so avoid any possible
danger to ship and rigging.

On account of the violent and jerking motion of the ship on such days,
life aboard her was extremely unpleasant and very fatiguing. To remain
aboard the ship at all, we had to hold on to some support continuously
with both hands, or else wedge ourselves firmly into a secure corner.

On this particular day, we were again obliged to furl all sails. While
we were thus in the worst of the rolling, and were swearing vigorously
at the ship's eccentricities, suddenly a cloud of smoke was reported
in sight on the port bow forward. As we were wholly outside of any
course ordinarily followed by steamers, we concluded that the vessel
sighted must, like ourselves, have reason to avoid the usual routes of
steamship travel. At first we thought it might, perhaps, be one of our
coaling ships, either the _Exford_ or the _Buresk_, which, just before
the fight off Keeling, had been dismissed by the _Emden_ to await her
at certain designated points. Having neither heard nor seen anything
of the _Emden_, they might now be running into Padang, hoping there to
learn what had happened. On the other hand, it might quite as well be a
hostile cruiser that had run into Keeling after the fight, and, having
heard of our departure, was now looking for us.

There were, in fact, but three courses for us to choose from while
making our escape from Keeling,--to run to Padang, to Batavia, or to
Africa. Of these the most probable ones were to Batavia, or to Padang.
For a fast cruiser it would be an easy matter to search for us on both
of these routes, and so make sure of finding us. Knowing that we were
wholly dependent upon the wind for our progress, our pursuers could
easily picture to themselves the course we had taken, and where they
would most likely find us.

Naturally, we made every effort to discover the character of the
unknown vessel. But even from the mast-heads we could see no more than
the smoke she was leaving behind her. To elude her by changing our
course was quite out of the question with the _Ayesha_, becalmed as we
were, and drifting idly. But, after giving us a few anxious hours, the
smoke on the horizon vanished.

Meanwhile, the regular evening breeze had set in, and with it came the
usual torrents of rain. We were now in the region where the South-east
and North-west Monsoons meet and struggle for the mastery. The wind
changed every few moments. First, a gust would strike the ship from
forward, and the next minute it would be blowing a gale from aft, a
condition of affairs that afforded opportunity for some expert and
ingenious sailing manoeuvres. After we had practised close hauling
the sails a number of times, we were suddenly confronted with a task
that well nigh proved too much for us. A violent gust of wind from
the north-west was sweeping down upon the ship from forward at the
same time that one from the south was approaching from aft. We were
therefore obliged to tack by close hauling the fore-sail, while, at
the same time, the mainsail had to be set for wind from astern. The
two shower baths that the two gusts brought us could not have been
better managed in an up-to-date sanitarium, where alternating hot and
cold showers are a feature of the baths. The gust from the north-west
brought a torrent of rain so icy cold that most of us got below decks
as fast as we could, whereas the one from the south, which overtook
us a few minutes later, showered us with water that was more than
lukewarm.



                              CHAPTER VI

                               _PADANG_


On the twenty-third of November, early in the morning, the ship was
"cleared for action," for we were now getting near land, and it was
not at all improbable that we would run across an English or Japanese
torpedo boat destroyer coaling somewhere among the islands. For such
an emergency my plans were made. I intended to tack ahead of the
destroyer, which would certainly not be expecting an attack from us, to
bring up alongside of it by an apparently unsuccessful manoeuvre, and
then to grapple with the enemy at close quarters. To make the best use
of our armament we had cut four holes in the railing of the _Ayesha_
where the machine guns could be placed to some advantage, although
the rigging, with its lanyards and dead ends, would certainly be a
great hindrance. The rifles and pistols were taken up on deck, and the
ammunition was set within easy reach. As the machine guns had not been
used for some time, a shot was fired from each of them, to test them.

At ten o'clock in the morning the lookout at the masthead reported:
"Land in sight ahead." Just where we were, and what land we were
approaching, it was quite impossible for us to know, with the limited
means of navigation at our command. But to be near any land whatever
was a source of satisfaction to us. Gradually, one island after another
came in sight. By four o'clock in the afternoon we had got our bearings
sufficiently to know that we were just outside of Seaflower Channel,
and about eighty nautical miles from Padang.

Of Seaflower Channel we had no charts whatever; we only knew that it
abounded in reefs. As a calm always set in towards evening, and I dared
not venture to pass at night through this channel so unfamiliar to me,
we lay to, and slowly drifted seaward under reefed sails. Just before
sunrise we turned about, and steered for the Channel again.

Lookouts were stationed in the masts to watch the water for the change
in color that indicates the presence of reefs or shoals. With all
sails set, and with a light wind in our favor, we passed through the
Channel during the course of the day without meeting with any serious
difficulties in the way of navigation.

As we no longer had any reason to fear a shortage in our fresh water
supply before reaching Padang, the bottles of Seltzer water were
brought out, and one was given to each man, as an especial treat, and
probably afforded us more enjoyment than had a bottle of champagne
under ordinary circumstances. On that evening, just before seven
o'clock, our log registered the eight-hundredth mile.

Before the night was over, a final gale, with a rain like a veritable
cloud-burst, gave us considerable to do. As the day dawned, the high
mountains of Sumatra came in sight against the horizon. Unfortunately,
the wind was not only very light, but off shore also, and we could make
but little headway. The heat was so intense that towards noon a sail
had to be spread for an awning.

Our supply of tobacco had given out entirely by this time. The men
smoked tea leaves as a substitute. The officers tried it also,
but--bah, the devil was welcome to it! The crew seemed to get
considerable enjoyment out of it, however.

As a guide for the run into Padang, between all the many reefs and
islands, we had drawn a chart for ourselves according to information
gathered from an antiquated sailors' hand-book that some one had raked
up. Although this chart could lay no claim to being either accurate or
complete, it was nevertheless better than none. During the evening we
saw, on one of the islands that we passed, a beacon which was wholly
a surprise to us. Before the night was over the long-looked-for
flash-light of Padang came in sight, but we passed it at a great
distance. Much to our regret, the current, instead of taking us toward
land, was steadily carrying us farther out to sea, and, with the light
breeze that was blowing, to tack was out of the question. By morning,
therefore, we were five nautical miles farther off shore than we had
been on the previous evening.

The strait in which we now were is the highway for all ships. We had
little desire to remain here, if for no other reason than that we were
very likely to encounter some hostile cruiser. By this time a complete
calm had set in. We therefore lowered our two jolly-boats, the smaller
one manned by one, the larger boat by two men, hitched them to our
_Ayesha_, and so attempted to make some headway. For the men at the
oars, this was no light task, exposed as they were to the full rays of
a tropical sun, as they sat unprotected from it in the open boats. We,
on board, were not idle either. The oars of the _Emden's_ two cutters,
which we had with us, were fetched out and tied together by pairs, so
as to lengthen them, and with these we proceeded to row the _Ayesha_.
Although it cannot be said that we attained the speed of a fast mail
steamer in this way, we did, however, make some progress.

On the following day a light wind did at last set in, and relieved us
of this strenuous labor. In the distance, near the coast, we saw a
number of steamers that were evidently either entering or leaving the
port of Padang. One of these roused our interest more than any of the
others, because she apparently did not change her position at all,
and so was evidently laying to, as the great depth of water in this
vicinity precludes the possibility of anchoring. As we drew near to the
vessel, we could make out with some degree of certainty that she was
not a merchantman. She appeared to be a small warship of some kind--a
gun-boat, or a torpedo-boat destroyer, and flew a flag which we could
not distinguish, because of its great distance from us.

Suddenly, the ship that had been lying so motionless began to move.
Thick clouds of smoke poured from the smoke-stacks; she turned sharply,
headed for us, and approached at high speed. In a short time we
recognised the war flag of the Netherlands flying at the masthead. As
we had no desire to drop our incognito as yet, and as we were sailing
in free waters, there was no reason why we should show our colors. We
therefore quickly gathered up all our rifles, and, together with our
artillery equipment, stowed them away below decks. All the men quickly
disappeared down the main hatchway, which was closed after them. The
wildest looking one of the sailors and myself were the only ones who
remained in sight. That we both belonged to the Imperial Navy no one
would ever have imagined, as our clothing was so scant that we would
much more readily have been sized up as belonging to the war fleet of
some one of the island kingdoms of the Pacific.

Before long, the torpedo-boat destroyer was close beside us, and began
to evince an interest in us, which, inexplicable from the first, soon
became extremely embarrassing. At a distance of fifty meters she slowly
passed by. On the commander's bridge stood all the officers, each
provided with marine glasses, through which they examined our ship
with great curiosity. From the lively conversation that was going on
between the officers, we concluded that they were talking about us.
The destroyer passed around us, close under our stern, and all the
binoculars were turned toward our ship's name, which had long since
disappeared under a coat of the thickest white paint. We were just
congratulating ourselves that we had bluffed her, when, at a distance
of 5000 meters, she suddenly turned, and lay to. At this, I could not
rid myself of the thought that we had been expected.

At the destroyer's approach we had got our war flag ready to run up,
for if we had been spoken, we would, of course, have replied by a
display of our colors.

In the course of the afternoon our attendant, whom by this time we
had identified by the ship's name as the Dutch destroyer, _Lynx_,
left us, and disappeared in the direction of Padang. In our cheerful
but overhasty conclusion that she was preceding us into port to give
notice of our coming, so that maids of honor might be in waiting, and
triumphal arches be prepared for us, we were doomed to disappointment,
however.

By nightfall we lay close before the small, flat coral islands that
lie in front of the entrance to the harbor. We could see the lights of
a steamer that was coming out of the harbor. Another was moving into
port. We looked upon both of them with suspicion, as we supposed one
of them to be our companion of the foregoing afternoon. We therefore
carefully screened the _Ayesha's_ lights. We had made no mistake,
for in signaling to the incoming steamer, the outgoing ship revealed
herself to be our old acquaintance, the _Lynx_. To our regret, she
had sighted us in spite of all the precaution we had taken. Again she
became our close companion, and for a while her green and red side
lights could be seen immediately astern, at a distance of not more
than one hundred meters. We felt truly sorry for the _Lynx_. It must
have been very irritating to her to have to trundle behind us at the
wonderful speed of one nautical mile, a speed which, with the light
breeze blowing, the _Ayesha_ could not exceed. The engineers at the
1000 horse-power engines of the _Lynx_ probably wished us elsewhere
more than once that night.

In so far as our problems of navigation were concerned, the presence
of the _Lynx_ was a distinct advantage to us, for we were sailing in
waters with which we were wholly unacquainted, but we could feel
perfectly sure that wherever the _Lynx_ could float, we could also. We
knew that if we were nearing a shoal, our escort would retreat in time,
and we could then turn and follow her.

Otherwise, however, her companionship was little to our liking, for it
gave us the appearance of a disreputable little vagabond being brought
in by a burly policeman. As we were a warship, we had no intention
of allowing ourselves to be thus escorted. I therefore determined to
communicate with the _Lynx_ by signal. For this purpose I had a white
bull's eye lantern, that usually hung in the men's quarters, brought
on deck. In front of this lantern we held a board, and by raising and
lowering it, we gave our Morse signals. By means of this apparatus of
high technical development, we conveyed to our escort the message in
English, "Why are you following me?" Although the _Lynx_ acknowledged
our signal as having understood it, we received no reply to our
question. After a half hour had passed without an answer, we resorted
to our Morse signal again, but this time asked in German, "Why do you
follow me?" And again the signal was acknowledged, but no answer given.
Shortly afterward, however, the _Lynx_ increased her speed, and steamed
off. For another whole day the poor _Lynx_ had to dog our footsteps,
for the wind continued to fail us.

When, on the following day, the _Ayesha_ had carried us within the
limits of Dutch territorial waters, we immediately ran up our war flag
and pennants. The _Lynx_ did not again draw near to us, but kept at a
distance of several thousand meters.

Toward noon we found ourselves in a position of some peril. We were
aware that we were now in a region of submerged reefs over which a
vessel of even our light draught could not pass in safety, but of the
exact location of these reefs we knew nothing. To our great relief, a
little Malay sail-boat came alongside, and brought us a native pilot,
whom I was glad to employ. The only prospect of remuneration that I
could hold out to him was through our consul, as the entire amount
of cash on board consisted of a shilling and twopence, which we had
found in a pocket-book that the former captain had forgotten to take
with him, and which we had confiscated for the benefit of the Imperial
treasury. In marked contrast to the impression we made on the Dutch--as
developed later--this Malay pilot, who seemed to us to be a very
intelligent person, was from the outset untroubled by any doubt of our
status as a German warship, for he at once declared himself willing to
accept our promise of a later payment through the German consul.

Hardly had the pilot come alongside, when the _Lynx_ made a dash for us
at high speed. As we had no idea what her intentions were, I ordered
the war flag, which had been lowered in the meantime, to be run up
again. In order to impress the _Lynx_ more fully with the fact that
she was dealing with an Imperial ship of war, I ordered the salute
customary between warships to be given, as she sped past us at a
distance of about sixty meters. Our entire crew stood at attention on
deck, and our officers saluted. The _Lynx_ at once returned our salute
in like manner.

Just before running into the harbor, I flagged a signal to the _Lynx_,
saying, "I am sending a boat." Then I donned my full-dress uniform--my
khaki brown landing suit from the _Emden_, of which I had been most
careful--and went on board the _Lynx_.

Her commander received me at the gangway ladder, and escorted me to
the mess-room. I opened the conversation, saying that we had felt much
flattered at the lively interest he had shown in us during the past
day and a half, that we were a landing squad from the _Emden_, and
were on the way to Padang with His Majesty's ship, _Ayesha_, that at
Padang we wished to repair damages, and relieve the distress on board
by replenishing our store of provisions and our water supply. I then
inquired whether he knew of any reason why we could not run into the
harbor. To this the commander replied that he had orders to accompany
us, that there was nothing to prevent us from running into the harbor,
but that in all probability we would not be allowed to run out again;
that these matters would, however, be decided by the civil authorities
on shore, and that he could give us neither further, nor more definite,
information.

I represented to him that the _Ayesha_, being a warship, could leave
the harbor at any time, and that no one had the right to detain us.
Then I added in jest: "I hope you and I will not get into a fight when
I run out."

As I left the destroyer, I saw the _Ayesha_ for the first time from
a distance, and under full sail. I must say that she made a capital
appearance, and looked very pretty, even though the patched and torn
sails she carried were little in harmony with the pennant and war flag
of the German Empire.

Just before we reached the entrance to the harbor, a small steam tug
came out to meet us. It was bringing the harbor master, who was coming
to show us where to drop anchor. He indicated a place quite far out.
It was my intention, however, to get as close as possible to the
steamships lying in the harbor, for even now I could distinguish the
German and Austrian flags flying on some of them. I therefore told the
harbor master that I would rather not anchor so far out, but would like
to run farther into the harbor. It was not a sufficiently sheltered
place for my ship, I explained, and furthermore, that it required
a great length of chain to anchor in water of that depth. That our
chains were in fact quite long enough to reach to the bottom of water
six times as deep, I did not feel obliged to tell him. By and by his
objections were overcome by argument in plain German. But, as we got
farther in, he demanded very insistently that we anchor at once. Now
it chanced that by a mishap the two topsails, the very ones by which
a ship makes the most headway, absolutely refused to come down. Again
and again the sheets and halyards hitched, so that, as was my original
intention, we had come close up to the steamers before we found it
possible to anchor.

As soon as the _Ayesha_ lay at anchor, I sent my senior officer,
Lieutenant Schmidt, on shore to report our arrival officially, and to
make my wishes known to the authorities. At the same time, the German
consul was asked to come on board. Furthermore, I announced that, in
accordance with international custom, no one would be allowed to come
on board without the permission of the government authorities, nor
would any one from the ship be permitted to go ashore.

Soon the _Ayesha_ was surrounded by boats coming from the German ships.
There were the _Kleist_, the _Rheinland_, and the _Choising_ of the
Lloyd line, besides an Austrian ship. They all had their top flags set,
and greeted us with a "Hurrah." Cigars, cigarettes, tobacco, watches,
clothing, poems, letters, and, what we wanted most of all, German
newspapers, were thrown to us. That these were old, none later than
the second of October, and it was now the twenty-seventh of November,
mattered little. They were most welcome, for up to this time, the only
news that we had obtained was from the English papers that we had
found on board the English steamers that the _Emden_ had raided. All
that we had heard of the war, therefore, were the widely disseminated
Reuter tales of horror such as:--The Russians near Berlin--the Kaiser
wounded--the Crown Prince fallen--suicide epidemic among German
generals--revolution in Germany--the last horse slaughtered--complete
rout on the western front, and the like. Together with the newspapers,
many pictures had been thrown on board also, and, on coming into the
cabin and mess soon afterward, I found the walls covered with pictures
of the Kaiser, the chief of the fleet, the Secretary of State for the
Imperial Navy, and others, which the men had tacked up for decoration.

At first the Dutch government authorities made trouble for us, as they
were not disposed to accord us the status of a warship, but intended
to regard us as a prize of war. Against this, I made an instant
and vigorous protest by declaring that it was only to my superior
officers in Germany that I would have to account for my right to
command this ship. At the same time I asked permission to take aboard
water, provisions, ropes, sailcloth, clothing, nautical charts, and
the simplest toilet necessities, such as soap, tooth brushes, hair
brushes, shoe polish, etc. The German consul took charge of this. The
"neutrality officer," especially appointed by the Dutch government
to look after such matters, immediately wired to Batavia to get his
orders concerning us direct from the authorities there. Altogether, the
impression I received was that every effort was being made to hold the
_Ayesha_, and to intern the officers and crew. It was very evident that
the local authorities were much disturbed, and feared complications
with Japan or England, if we were allowed to leave.

[Illustration: VON MÜCKE]

The person most concerned, and the one with whom the decision lay,
seemed to be the harbor master, a subaltern official, and a Belgian
at that. When the afternoon had well nigh passed, and the things
ordered for the ship had not arrived, I requested the senior Dutch
commander at Padang to order the goods to be delivered at once, as, in
conformity to the neutral code, I would have to run out of the harbor
within twenty-four hours. Finally, at seven o'clock in the evening, a
part of what had been ordered arrived, and with the things came the
neutrality officer. He made every possible effort to induce me to allow
officers and crew to be interned. As I had foreseen this, my officers
had been asked to be present and take part in the conversation, so that
he might be convinced from the beginning that the _Ayesha's_ officers
were unanimous in refusing to consider his proposition.

In the first place, the neutrality officer represented to me--in so far
as I could see, by advice from Batavia--how wholly impossible it would
be for us to get away, as it was forbidden to deliver either marine
charts, or nautical books. There were many other things also with which
we could not be supplied, such as clothing, for instance, since, to
provide us with these, as well as with soap, tooth powder, etc., would
be to "increase our war strength."

As it had now been three weeks since any of us had been able to
brush our teeth, we decided that this hardship could be endured a
little longer. Nor had the one comb we possessed failed to serve our
modest demands. As the harbor master had seen that my men were going
almost naked for want of clothing, and as he also was aware that we
had no marine charts, I could but conclude that there was intention
in refusing us these very necessary articles. When I persisted in
my determination to sail with or without charts, I was told that we
could not escape capture if we ran out, as the waters round about were
being scoured by Japanese and English cruisers; that it had only been
by a lucky chance that we had escaped capture so far, and that we
would surely be caught if we put to sea again; that the _Emden_ had
acquitted herself well enough, and that no one would criticize us if
this hopeless attempt were abandoned. It is needless to say that we
absolutely refused to be moved by all this persuasion.

Meanwhile, the provisions had been delivered and stowed away on board,
and the ship made ready to weigh anchor, the only hindrance to our
departure being the ten live pigs that we had taken with us, for they
persisted in standing just where our anchor chain was being hove up. At
eight o'clock in the evening we left our anchorage.

From the Dutch papers that we received a few weeks later, we learned
that the people had occupied themselves with various speculations
as to what we were going to do, and where we were bound. They might
have spared themselves the trouble of these speculations if they had
listened as we departed, for the answer to the question whither we were
going and what were our intentions, was born back to them upon the
breeze, as the _Ayesha_ vanished into the night:

  "To the Rhine, the Rhine, the German Rhine,
   To guard its sacred boundary line!"



                              CHAPTER VII

                   _THE MEETING WITH THE "CHOISING"_


With a light wind astern, the _Ayesha_ slowly made her way out from
among the Dutch islands, and toward three o'clock in the morning had
passed beyond the limits of Dutch territorial waters. I had but just
turned in when Lieutenant Schmidt, whose watch it was, waked me with
the words: "Captain, a German boat is coming alongside."

As I knew that we were then well out at sea, I growled out: "Man, don't
talk nonsense! Let me sleep!"

But he assured me again that it was as he had said, and would not be
frightened off even by the most violent protests. At the same time I
heard loud voices from outside crying: "There she is, there she is! We
have caught her after all."

As I came on deck, I saw a little row-boat with a few people in it
swiftly approaching us from out the darkness of the lingering night.
Soon one traveling case, and then another, came flying on board. Their
two owners appeared immediately afterward, and turned out to be an
officer of the reserves and a chief engineer's mate, also a reservist.
Both reported to me for duty. As we were outside of the limit of Dutch
territorial waters, there was no reason for deferring their enrolment.

Our only difficulty was to provide quarters for the officers now aboard
the _Ayesha_, as there was but the one bed, which was hardly big enough
for three. In the end, it was arranged that one officer should sleep in
the bunk in the cabin, while another chose the place on the floor under
the mess table for his bed, a resting place which was not wholly free
from disturbance, however, as the third officer, who had the watch, was
inclined to put his feet there.

By evening, a moderate, favorable breeze had taken us as far as
Seaflower Channel, with which we were well acquainted. To our surprise,
we discovered a large steamer coming toward us on an easterly
course. As there are no beacon lights on this strait, it is avoided
by steamers, most merchantmen preferring to go by way of the more
northerly route through Siberut Strait, where there are many lights.
The appearance of a steamer in this unfrequented spot was, therefore,
to say the least, rather remarkable. I strongly suspected it to be a
warship.

As quickly as possible every sail, to the very last rag we had, was
set, our course was changed hard to starboard, and, with all the speed
we could muster, we tried to get back into Dutch waters. To our great
relief, the low, palm-covered coral islands soon came into sight,
easily distinguishable by the broad white line of the surf that always
breaks on their shores. We crept as close as we dared to this line of
surf, keeping at a distance of about a thousand meters from the shore.
To anchor in this depth of water was quite impossible, for these coral
islands rise abruptly, almost perpendicularly, out of the water.

Our frame of mind was in no wise improved when suddenly our unknown
steamer began to exchange flash-light signals in secret code with some
other vessel as yet invisible to us. Soon afterward the second warship,
for it could be no other kind of vessel, steamed away toward the south,
while the other cruised back and forth through Seaflower Channel.
Unfortunately the wind died down more and more,--so much so that our
hope that by daylight we would be out of sight of the cruising steamer,
was doomed to disappointment.

It was my intention now to run in between the many small islands, to
tie the _Ayesha_ fast to the first convenient palm tree, take down
top-masts and sails, and so make it impossible to discover us from out
at sea. Then I meant to find out the nature of the ship in which we
were so much interested. The calm which set in rendered it impossible
to carry out this plan, however. At sunrise we were only a few nautical
miles distant from the warship, and hardly had the daylight revealed
to her the masts of the _Ayesha_, when she changed her course and
approached us at high speed. We were still within the limit of Dutch
territorial waters, and I had not the least desire to leave them.
Fortunately for us, the man-of-war turned out to be neither English
nor Japanese. It was the Dutch flagship, _De Zeven Provincien_. The
iron-clad followed us, always at some distance, however, until we had
left Dutch waters in our course westward. We continued to sail toward
the west, intending to keep the _Ayesha_ within the vicinity of a
certain point where we hoped to meet with some German steamer. Although
it had not been possible for us to make any definite arrangements with
any of the German vessels that were lying at Padang, nevertheless,
from the conversations that had taken place from deck to deck, their
captains had some knowledge of the course we intended to follow. We
took it for granted, therefore, that some one of these steamers would
follow us with a view of aiding us on our farther journey. So we
drifted about at sea for nearly three weeks. During a part of this
time we had rough weather, which was especially trying to our ten
pigs, for whom quarters had been put up in the bows near the capstan.
To make life aboard the _Ayesha_, when she was rolling heavily, at
all endurable to these animals, we had nailed slats on the flooring
of their quarters. Before this had been done, the poor creatures went
sliding back and forth across the smooth deck, from rail to rail.

Twice our hope that a friendly steamer was coming to our relief was
disappointed. Each time it was an English ship. One of them behaved
so peculiarly, and made such unusual manoeuvres as we came in
sight, that we believed her to be an auxiliary cruiser. We therefore
cleared the _Ayesha's_ deck for action. To occupy the attention of the
cruiser, with whom we wished to pass for a harmless merchant vessel,
we signaled: "Please give me the geographical position." This is a
signal very commonly used by sailing vessels when meeting a steamer.
The desired information was given us, but with it came the embarrassing
question: "Who are you?" We had no special signal of our own, and the
_Ayesha's_ signal, which we had learned from the ship's papers, we did
not, for obvious reasons, care to give. So we took four flags that
happened to be at hand, arranged them one above the other, tied a knot
in the two upper ones, so that no one could tell what they were, and
then hoisted this signal in such a way that it was half hidden by the
sails. This scheme we hoped would lead the steamer to believe that we
had answered the question, but that she had failed to decipher our
signal. About half an hour later the steamer had disappeared. We saw
her answering signal, "I have seen your signal, but cannot make it
out," fluttering after her at half mast as long as she remained in
sight. The second English steamer came in view at a great distance from
us, and probably did not see us at all.

The fourteenth of December, 1914, was a thick, foggy and rainy day,
with rather high seas running. The _Ayesha_ was tacking back and forth
under close reefed sails, when suddenly, through the dense atmosphere,
we could see, only about four thousand meters ahead, a steamer looming
up out of a thick, gray fog bank. She had two masts and one smoke
stack, and was steering an easterly course. We were sailing toward the
west. At this point the course of the ordinary merchantman can only
be either to the north, or to the south. Hence, a steamer running on
an easterly course here, must have some unusual reason for doing so.
The natural inference was that this was one of the German steamers
looking for us. We steered our course for her at once, under as much
sail as our ship could carry. We sent off red and white fire balls that
are visible by day as well as by night, in the hope of attracting the
attention of the steamer, which by this time we had recognized as the
Lloyd steamer, _Choising_. Our great fear was that the _Choising_ would
fail to see us in the foggy weather, and so would pass us by. At last,
after we had sent off our fourth or fifth fire ball signal, we saw the
ship turn, and come towards us.

Up flew our flag and pennant. The steamer ran up the German flag. The
crew laid aloft into the shrouds, and three cheers rang from deck to
deck. As usual, our men were dressed in the manner customary in the
Garden of Eden, a costume which necessity had forced upon them. The
men of the _Choising_ confided to us later that they were blank with
astonishment when suddenly, out of the fog, emerged a schooner, the
shrouds of which were filled with naked forms. Because of the heavy
seas running, an immediate transfer to the _Choising_ was not possible.
As better weather had prevailed in the region to the south, from which
we had come, I signaled the _Choising_ to follow the _Ayesha_.

But, instead of growing better, the weather grew steadily worse on the
following day, until, during the course of the night, it developed into
a heavy storm. The _Ayesha's_ sails were close reefed, and, it must be
said, she behaved well. Not one of the heavy combers broke over her;
she rode them like a duck. Of course, the inside of the ship was as wet
as the outside, for the spray dashed over the deck without intermission.

At daybreak the _Choising_, which is a ship of 1700 tonnage, signaled
by flag: "On account of the storm and heavy seas I cannot remain here."
I therefore decided to run in under the lee of the land, so as to
make the transfer there, and accordingly, signaled another place of
meeting to the _Choising_. The two ships separated again, as I, in my
sailing vessel, could not steer the same course that the steamer took.
The next night was the worst that we experienced on the _Ayesha_. All
night long the tempest raged. Although aware of our proximity to the
islands, we did not know just where we were. Both the wind and the
current threatened to dash us against the reefs. The night was so black
that we could not see anything. If, under these conditions, we should
get too near the shore, both ship and crew were doomed. Even the small
rags of sails, closely reefed as they were, which we still carried,
were almost too much. Towards morning an especially fierce squall set
in. It was too much for our rotten old sails. We heard a sharp crack,
and then another,--our fore-sail and our staysail had torn away from
their bolt ropes, and only a few small rags were left whipping in the
wind. The departing fore-sail took with it a third sail, the fore
staysail, so that we lost all our forward canvas. To set a spare sail
was quite impossible at the time, both on account of the darkness and
of the heavy running seas. We had to lay to, therefore, with only the
after-sails, and trust to luck to keep away from the surf.

As soon as the day dawned, the spare sails were got out and bent
on. Before long, the wind began to die down. We found it possible
to increase our canvas and steer toward the place appointed for our
meeting with the _Choising_. As we drew near to it, at about nine
o'clock in the morning, the _Choising_ appeared in the distance. In
the meantime, however, the wind had fallen off so completely that the
_Ayesha_ could hardly make any headway at all. I therefore signaled the
_Choising_ to take us in tow, and get in the lee of the nearest island.
There we would find shelter from both wind and waves, and the transfer
could be safely made.



                             CHAPTER VIII

                     _THE PASSING OF THE "AYESHA"_


While we were being towed by the _Choising_, we began to unrig the
good old _Ayesha_. It saddened us to think that we would have to sink
her, as there was no port to which we could take her. There was danger
that she would be restored to her former owner if we took her to a
Dutch port. This we wanted to prevent under any circumstances. All the
provisions we still had on hand were placed on the upper deck, and
our arms were taken there also. Trunks there were none to pack. The
_Ayesha's_ figure-head, which represented the favorite wife of the
prophet, was taken down, and the rudder wheel unscrewed; both were to
be carried with us aboard the _Choising_, and kept as souvenirs.

Soon we had reached the shelter of the small islands, the swell ceased,
and it was possible to bring the _Ayesha_ alongside the steamer.
Meanwhile, the _Ayesha's_ shrouds, the ropes which hold the masts, were
cut, and all other ends and stays were either removed, or cut through.
At the same time two holes were bored into the hold, and through these
the ship began slowly to fill.

Towards four o'clock in the afternoon the _Choising's_ engine was
started up, and the _Ayesha_ was cut adrift. It appeared as though
the little ship were loth to part from us, for, although our steamer
was moving on, and no hawser was holding the _Ayesha_ to us, she
kept alongside the _Choising_ for some time. And then, at last, as
though she had found her own strength insufficient to keep up with us,
the _Ayesha_ caught on to our ship, just behind the gangway ladder,
carrying a part of it with her.

I wanted to stay by the _Ayesha_ as long as she was afloat, so our
steamer was stopped, and we lay to at a distance of three hundred to
four hundred meters off from her. The loss of the brave little ship
touched us deeply. Although our life on board had been anything but
comfortable, we nevertheless all realized fully that it was to the
_Ayesha_ we owed our liberty. For nearly a month and a half she had
been our home. In that time she had carried us 1709 nautical miles.
We all stood aft at the stern railing of the _Choising_, and watched
the _Ayesha's_ last battle with the waves. Gradually, and very slowly,
she sank lower and lower in the water. Soon it washed her upper deck.
Then suddenly a shudder passed over the whole ship; she seemed to draw
a long breath; the bow rose out of the water for a last time, only to
plunge into it again the more deeply. The iron ballast rolled forward;
standing on end, her rudder up, her masts flat on the water, the
_Ayesha_ shot like a stone into the deep, never to be seen again. Three
cheers for her rang out above her ocean grave.

The day was the sixteenth of December, 1914, and the hour, fifty-eight
minutes after four o'clock in the afternoon.

Aboard the _Choising_, the first thing to be done was to order a course
to the west, and the next, to see what provision could be made for my
men. A place had already been prepared for them in a part of the ship
ordinarily used for the storing of coal. It had been cleaned up, and
mattresses, blankets, etc., sufficient for all, were in readiness, so
that, in comparison with the days spent on the _Ayesha_, a life of
luxury was before us.

An ocean greyhound my new ship surely was not. When in the best of
trim, she went at the rate of seven and one half miles, but there were
times when we had to content ourselves with four. This was due, in
part, to poor coal. The _Choising_ was a ship that had originally been
intended for use as a coaling steamer for the _Emden_, and in this
capacity had waited long for her at the appointed place. But, as the
British Admiralty had been so obliging as to provide the _Emden_ most
generously and considerately with the best of Welsh coal, although its
intended destination was Hong Kong, there had been no reason why the
_Emden_ should take on any of the poor quality of coal from India and
Australia, which the _Choising_ had aboard for her. While waiting for
the _Emden_ the _Choising's_ cargo of coal had got on fire, and we were
now using what was left of this half-burned coal.

On the _Choising_ we had news which was of importance to us. At the
time that we left Padang in the _Ayesha_, we found it a most difficult
problem to decide where to go. My earliest plan, to try to reach
Tsing-tao, had to be abandoned when, at Padang, we learned of the
fall of that colony. My next intention was to join His Majesty's ship
_Königsberg_, of whose whereabouts we knew nothing more than that she
was somewhere in the Indian Ocean. In case she was no longer there
(I had hoped to get news of her from the _Choising_), my next plan
was to sail to German East Africa. We knew that there had been some
severe fighting there between our colonial troops and the English,
and, upon reflection, I abandoned this project also, as being an
absolutely hopeless one. With only fifty men, whose clothing outfit was
an entirely inadequate one, and who were wholly unprovided with any
of the many things necessary to troops on land, with neither surgeon
nor medicines, no knowledge of the language, no guide, and no maps, it
would be next to impossible, in a district as large as the fighting
area of South-east Africa, to locate and make connection with troops
numbering not more than a few thousands themselves. For the present,
therefore, there was but one course left open to us,--to make our
way homeward by following the route around Africa. How to provision
our ship for so long a journey was a problem which suggested many
difficulties, however.

But at last we found in one of the newspapers the report of a battle
between Turkish and British troops at Sheikh Said, near Perim, an
island in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb (Gate of Tears). This gave
us reason to believe that Turkey also had now entered the war. Our
diligent search for confirmation of this surmise was finally rewarded
by finding in one of the papers the announcement that war between the
Turkish and British Empires had begun. The new situation thus created
suggested a landing in Arabia as our nearest and most hopeful prospect.
The course which appeared to be even more reasonable, viz., to join the
_Königsberg_, was abandoned, in the first place, because the _Choising_
had brought word that the _Königsberg_ had been sunk in battle
somewhere to the north of Australia, and in the second place, because
of news that she was bottled up in the Rufiji River. If she had been
sunk, our search for her would be to no purpose, and if she was shut in
by a blockade, she would neither have coal, nor could she use any that
we might bring her. The fifty men whom we should add to her numbers
would only make so many more mouths to feed.

The _Choising_ was therefore started on a southerly course, in the
first place, to avoid the principal steamer routes, and secondly,
to keep out of the region in which the tropical cyclones are most
frequent, for the _Choising_ was not equal to such a tempest. A
sharp lookout was kept, so that we might catch sight of an enemy's
ship before we ourselves were discovered. On account of our ship's
remarkable speed, the only chance of escape we had, in case we came in
contact with a hostile man-of-war, lay in a game of bluff.

The _Choising_ was still painted like all Lloyd steamships, viz.,
black hull, white bulwarks, and ochre brown trimmings. Of course, we
could not in safety continue like that. So we gave our ship a coat
of paint that made her look like a Dutchman. But on second thought,
we concluded that this was hardly safe, as we were likely to meet a
number of vessels in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, and that some of them
might ask us the question, "Who are you?" which already had proved
so embarrassing to us. We had no record of sea-going ships on board,
except an English list, at the end of which we found the names of a
number of English vessels that had been sold by the English to foreign
countries. Among these there was one steamship, the _Shenir_, that had
been sold to a Genoa firm, and that was a vessel of 1700 tons. As this
was the exact size of the _Choising_, we decided to adopt the _Shenir_
as sponsor for our ship, and ere long the legend, "_Shenir_, Genoa," in
large white letters, adorned our stern.

This discovery we had made in the English shipping list was especially
welcome to me, as I preferred to pass for an Italian. In view of
Italy's attitude of vacillation, I had reason to believe that even
an English warship would hesitate unnecessarily to harass an Italian
vessel.

The _Shenir_, from Genoa, would naturally be expected to fly the
Italian flag. But this was an article which, unfortunately, was not
numbered among the possessions of the _Choising_. Nor was there any
green bunting on board. A green window curtain was discovered by some
one, however, and to it we sewed a strip of red, and a strip of white
bunting. A committee was then selected from among the men who had
artistic ability, and they were soon hard at work painting Italy's coat
of arms upon the white strip. The green of the curtain was not of the
right shade, however, so we added some yellow paint to a pot of blue,
which we happened to have on board, until the desired shade of green
was produced, and then dipped the green part of the flag into it.



                              CHAPTER IX

                        _FROM PERIM TO HODEIDA_


January 7th, 1915, found us in the vicinity of the Straits of Perim.
Nothing worthy of note had happened on the way. A number of steamers
had been sighted, but always in time to change the course of our vessel
toward the coast of Africa. We kept this course until the steamer had
disappeared, when we promptly returned to the right one.

Christmas was a very quiet day with us, but our New Year's festivities
were all the more hilarious, and we made the most of what little
remained of beer and wine aboard the _Choising_.

It had been my intention to arrive in the Perim Straits immediately
after sundown. In this we were not quite successful, however, and again
for the reason that we had no marine charts. Just as once before we
had to draw a chart for ourselves when running into Padang, so now
we had been obliged to make one of the Red Sea, and, naturally, our
knowledge of the _Choising's_ position was not quite accurate. As a
consequence, we arrived at the Straits of Perim a few hours too early.
I therefore gave orders to turn about and cruise back and forth a
while. A large steamer coming from Dachibuti gave us some anxious
moments, for we took her to be a man-of-war. She turned out to be a
French mail steamer, however. As soon as darkness set in, we steered
for the Straits of Perim again, and proceeded at high speed.

I had counted with certainty upon meeting with some sort of patrol
in the Straits. In that event we would have been quite helpless, for
with the _Choising_ we could not face even the smallest hostile war
vessel. We could not so much as run away, for any steam launch could
have overtaken us. As my chief purpose was to conduct my men to where
they could again serve in defence of their country, I determined, if
necessary, to sacrifice the _Choising_.

In case we should meet a hostile ship close to the African coast, I
intended to strand our vessel and leave her there, taking the men
with me in the long boats. We should then be ashore in the enemy's
territory, and free to do as we might deem best. Should we be overtaken
on the northerly side of the Straits, it was my intention to run boldly
into the Perim harbor, trusting in Heaven for the outcome, or, if I
failed in this, I proposed to run the steamer aground, and venture a
bold attack upon the telegraph station which we knew was located in
this vicinity. To be prepared for any emergency, the _Choising's_ three
largest long boats were swung out, lowered to the bulwarks, and made
fast. Water, provisions for eight weeks, arms and ammunition, besides a
few personal belongings, were stowed away in the boats. An officer was
placed in command of each one of them, and a particular crew designated
for duty in it. The only orders given to the boats' crews were, once
for all: "Obey your officer."

And again, as darkness came on, we were in much uncertainty with regard
to our ship's position. Ahead of us we saw a group of small islands
which, we concluded, must be the "Seven Brothers" lying just at the
entrance of the Straits. In truth, however, these were the Arabian
mountains, whose highest peaks rose into view just above the horizon,
a fact which we did not discover until we came in sight of the Perim
revolving light. This gave us a good fixed point from which to direct
our further course.

Naturally, as we approached the Straits, all hands were on deck.
Everyone was keeping a sharp lookout, for our only hope of safety lay
in the keenness of our observation. The ship's lights were closely
screened. The officers and petty officers were given orders to make
continual rounds through the vessel to see to it that not a single ray
of light escaped to reveal our presence, for the Chinese crew of the
_Choising_ had little appreciation of the importance of this precaution.

Whether I should sail with or without lights had been a question to
which I had given much careful thought. If I calmly proceeded with all
lights showing, just as any ordinary merchantman would, it might chance
that none of the English patrol ships would hold me up, as it was not
at all likely that so small a merchant ship as the _Choising_ would be
regarded with suspicion. A ship sailing with screened lights would,
on the contrary, become an object of suspicion to any one who should
discover her. Nevertheless, in the end, I decided to have the lights
screened.

The Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb is a very narrow water-way. I hugged the
African shore as closely as possible, to take advantage of the darker
horizon there, and also because the shore afforded a dark background
for the ship. But in spite of all this exercise of caution, we got so
near to the revolving light at Perim that its intermittent ray fell
upon us like a search-light, illuminating us for seconds at a time.
Moreover, we could see two English warships lying just outside of
Perim, and they were signaling to each other in Morse code. During that
night's most anxious half hour we muttered many a bitter imprecation
upon our engine that at best could make no more than seven and a half
miles. But fortune favored us; the Englishmen did not discover us.
Perhaps none of the small patrol boats upon which I had reckoned were
abroad, for there was a stiff breeze blowing, and the sea was running
high. At the end of two trying hours we had got to where we could
consider ourselves as safely "through."

In the broader expanse of the Red Sea I kept well without the regular
steamship course, and on the eighth of January, just after dark, we
lay with the _Choising_ close to Hodeida. The only book that we had
from which to inform ourselves with regard to Arabian ways and customs
was a "round the world" guide book that would have answered the purpose
of directing a wedding journey very well. From it we learned that
Hodeida is a large commercial city, and that the Hejaz railroad to
Hodeida was in course of construction. As the book was some years old,
and as one of my officers remembered that years ago he had met a French
engineer who told him that he had been engaged in the construction of
a railroad to Hodeida, we took it for granted that the railroad was
completed by this time. Even should we be wrong in our supposition, we
would still, in all likelihood, be able to get some news of the war,
and, in case we should have to continue our journey on the _Choising_,
we would at least be able to secure charts of the Red Sea.

As we approached Hodeida, or more accurately speaking, as we approached
the locality where we expected to find Hodeida--because of our constant
lack of marine charts we were never certain of just where we were--we
suddenly beheld a long line of electric lights along the shore. Great
was our joy at this first sign of a return to civilization. That
Hodeida would be provided with electric lights had not entered into our
most hopeful expectations.

"It appears to be a very respectable kind of place after all," was the
opinion expressed on the bridge. "There even are electric lights. Then
surely the railroad will be running. I can see ourselves walking into
the central railroad station of Hodeida to-morrow morning, and boarding
the special express. In a fortnight we shall be on the North Sea again."

We supposed the row of lights we saw to be on the Hodeida dock, for our
"round the world" guide book had told us that Hodeida is a seaport. As
we came closer to this dock, my joy gave way to apprehension, for,
as I looked, the lights of the dock seemed suddenly and strangely to
move closer together, an eccentricity which is not usual with lights
on a dock. As we were quite sober, we decided that it must be the dock
that was at fault. I therefore gave orders to stop the _Choising_, so
that soundings might be taken, from which to learn how far we were from
the shore. A depth of forty meters was reported. Now we were evidently
only a few thousand meters off from the supposed dock, while, according
to the soundings, there must be a distance of several nautical miles
between us and the shore. As we realized this, the dock lost much of
its attractiveness in our eyes. It must be something else. I gave
orders: "Course, to the south!" and ran off a few nautical miles.

I then ordered the four long boats that had been kept in readiness ever
since our approach to Perim, to be lowered, and my men got into them.
The Captain of the _Choising_ received written orders to take his ship
farther out to sea, to spend the next two days in the vicinity of a
given point outside of the usual steamship course, and on each of the
succeeding nights to return to the place where my men and I had left
the ship, and await us there. If we did not return, he was to proceed
to Massowa. My reason for wishing the _Choising_ to return during the
next two nights, was our total lack of any definite knowledge as to who
was in control in South Arabia. Our latest information in regard to
the war was over three months old, and although it had told of battles
between the Turks and the English, the outcome of these battles was
unknown to us. It was therefore quite possible that Hodeida was now in
the hands of the English. In that event, it was my intention to return
to the _Choising_ on one of the following nights, and to continue our
journey aboard her. The days, I meant to spend somewhere in the desert,
in hiding.

At the same time, I arranged for signals by rockets to be given the
_Choising_ in case I should learn of the proximity of hostile ships
that might prove dangerous to her. There was one special signal that
meant: "Enemy's ships near. Proceed at once to Massowa." I wanted to
avoid exposing the ship unnecessarily to the danger of capture while
returning for us.

Soon the _Choising_ had vanished in the darkness of the night, and
my little flotilla of long boats was being vigorously rowed toward
the shore. The ship's boats, like all boats that have been out of the
water for some time, leaked badly, although days before we left the
_Choising_ they had been wet both inside and out, had been freshly
painted, and kept half filled with water. Our chief effort for the time
being was therefore directed toward bailing out the boats. As soon as
the day dawned, all sails were set in the boats of our flotilla, and a
goodly regatta in the direction of the shore developed.

On our supposed dock the lights were extinguished, and at sunrise we
discovered that it had two masts and three smoke stacks, carried guns,
and bore the name of _Desaix_. It was a French armored cruiser. The
other part of the dock revealed itself to be an Italian ship called
_Juliana_. We had little desire to tie up at this dock, and so directed
our course toward land.

Our chief concern now was that we might be discovered by the armored
cruiser that was not far distant. The rigging of one of my boats was
Chinese, of the other three, German. Four gray boats rigged in this
extraordinary fashion could not fail to attract attention. When we had
come close enough to the shore, I anchored, and had the other three
boats come alongside and made fast. Quickly our masts and rigging
disappeared, and we held a consultation with regard to what it was now
best to do. The _Choising_ was gone. Behind us lay the French armored
cruiser and the Italian vessel. What attitude Italy had assumed toward
the war by this time was wholly unknown to me. Before us lay the land
with the surf beating between us and it. The indications were that this
part of Arabia was now in the hands of the French. To remain in the
boats was not possible, as, in the course of the day, we would surely
be seen by the Frenchmen who were now enjoying an early morning nap
aboard the armored cruiser. My orders therefore were: "Pull for the
shore."

Fortunately our heavily laden boats got through the surf without
either capsizing or filling. On our way to the shore we met a small
Arabian boat whose sole occupant, an Arab, was engaged in fishing, and
who in response to our questions gave us the comforting information
that Hodeida was now in the hands of the French. The mistake may be
ascribed to the fact that although we spoke excellent German, and
the Arab had a fluent command of Arabic, we nevertheless failed to
understand each other. Just after our boats had passed through the
surf and were about 800 meters off shore, they ran aground. All our
belongings had therefore to be carried all this distance to land, and
through water that was knee deep. Rafts were quickly put together out
of the masts, a few boards, some straps, life preservers, and the like.
On them we placed our machine guns, the ammunition, etc., so that the
transportation might be made as rapidly as possible.

First of all, the machine guns were sent ashore. I waded to land along
with them. On the beach an Arab was splashing about in the water.
Unarmed, and with every expression of amiability and friendliness of
which I am capable, I approached him to offer the hand of friendship.
He misunderstood me, however, and departed. A second Arab, who had
appeared in the meantime, was quite as unresponsive to my offers of
friendship.

While I was employed in having the rest of our things put ashore, a
man in uniform, and mounted on a hedjin, or riding camel, came toward
me. The uniform was blue and red. Around his head a cloth was wound.
To what country the uniform belonged, I had not the least idea. It
might easily have been a French one. This man had the unpleasant
distinction of being armed. When he had come to within 600 meters of
us, he stopped, cocked his rifle, and stood watching us at our work.
Carrying no arms of any kind, I went toward him, beckoned to him,
called to him, and tried in every way possible to make him understand
that I wished to speak with him. He remained immovable until I had
come to within two hundred meters of him; then he raised his rifle and
aimed it at me. I stood still. He lowered his rifle, whereupon I moved
a few steps nearer. Again he pointed his rifle at me. Again I stopped,
and he dropped his rifle. Again I took a few steps forward, and again
he aimed at me. I stopped again, and so the teasing performance went
on for several minutes, until I had reached a point not more than
fifty meters distant from him. Then his rifle was not again lowered.
Consequently I remained standing for some time. An understanding by way
of conversation was out of the question with him. He had not understood
one of my efforts at speech. He made a sign, however, which could not
be misinterpreted, and by which he gave me to understand that I was to
remain with my men where we were. After I had assured him, as best I
could, that we had no thought of leaving, and that we were delighted to
be there, I returned to my men. He mounted his camel and disappeared at
a rapid pace in the direction of Hodeida, the white houses of which we
could but just distinguish in the far distance.

It now behooved us to make all haste possible, for in three or four
hours the French garrison might be upon us. So we worked with all our
might to get the things ashore, and so be able to start upon our march
into the desert. It was my intention to remain in the desert during
the day, and then at night to send one of my officers to Hodeida to get
information. Should this prove unfavorable, I purposed to spend the
following day also in the desert, and then, on the next night, to get
back to where the _Choising_ would pick us up, and to proceed with her,
trusting to luck for the future.

Just as we were about to set off on our march, there poured forth
from behind the low sand hills of the desert a swarm of Bedouins,--at
first about eighty in number, then a hundred or more, all armed. They
spread out into a sort of skirmishing line, and then disappeared
behind the sand dunes along the beach. Upon seeing this, we, too,
formed a skirmishing line, and made ready for a fight. I waited for
the first shot to come from the other side. After a few moments there
came out from among our opponents twelve unarmed men. They approached
us slowly, all the while beckoning with their arms. Laying aside my
sword and pistol, I went toward them. Midway between the two lines we
met. Immediately a lively conversation developed, with the unfortunate
disadvantage, however, that neither party understood the other. The
Bedouins shouted at me, gesticulated violently with the vehemence
peculiar to southern races, and made the most remarkable signs, all
of which I failed to understand. My own attempt to speak to them in
German, English, French, and Malay was of as little avail.

I then had our war flag, which we had with us, brought out, and I
called attention in the most explicit manner to the red, white, and
black, to the iron cross, to the eagle. They did not understand this
either. As I had thought it quite likely that the people of some of the
coast regions where we might be forced to land would be unacquainted
with the German war flag, I had taken the flag of our merchant marine
with me also. It was now produced and displayed to the Arabs, but this,
too, they did not recognize. Then we pointed to the French armored
cruiser lying at anchor in the roadstead, shook our fists at it with
the most extravagant gestures, and all together roared, "Boom! Boom!
Boom!"

The only response we received was a return to their crazy signs. One
of these was to hold one hand to the forehead, as though to shade the
eyes, and then wag the head violently from side to side. Another was to
pass two fingers over the face, either up or down. A third consisted
in rubbing the two extended forefingers together, and staring at us
idiotically the while. This last one we thought we understood. We
interpreted it in this way: Two are rubbing against each other, which
means, "We are enemies." With all the means in our power we tried to
assure them that quite the reverse was true. Had we been understood,
our situation would hardly have been improved by this assurance, for
it developed later that this sign meant, "We are friends," instead
of, "We are enemies." As a last resort, we produced a gold piece. To
this means of intercourse the Arabians were very susceptible from
the outset. We pointed at the eagle, but it did not seem to suggest
anything to them. Then I pointed at the head of the Kaiser. This met
with instant response, and aroused the liveliest interest. Among their
ejaculations we distinguished the word, "Aleman." This was understood
on our part, for it could mean nothing other than "German." Instantly,
and with ready adaptability to the customs of the country, we all
shouted at the top of our voices, "Aleman! Aleman!" And with this, the
way to a mutual understanding was opened.

A tremendous and enthusiastic roar of response instantly arose among
the Arabs. Their rifles were stacked, and the whole company gathered
about us, screaming and shouting, and tumbling over one another in a
wild scramble to carry our luggage for us, to drag the machine guns,
and to do us other like service. In a tumult of noise the procession
set out in the direction of Hodeida. One of our newly acquired brethren
could even speak a few words of English, and from him I learned that
Hodeida was in the hands of the Turks.

Our onward march was the occasion for still further excitement. As
destitute of people as the desert through which we were passing seemed
to be, it nevertheless harbored a countless number of people. In
this land, where every boy of twelve carries a rifle and is regarded
as a warrior, it did not take long for another crowd of about a
hundred Bedouins to gather and come out to meet us, all eager, in
the assumption that we were enemies, to have a shot at us. With much
excited yelling, our hundred attendants endeavored to convince their
approaching hundred colleagues that we were friends. When they had
been persuaded that such was the case, we continued on our march with
a retinue of two hundred, only to be met, a half hour later, by two
hundred more who were coming to attack us, and who, in turn, had to be
convinced by our escort of two hundred, that we were friends.

These explanations always entailed a considerable loss of time, and
so it had got to be midday, and we were still on the way. We had
had nothing to eat since the evening before, had worked hard and
continuously, and had taken a long tramp through the burning sand at a
time of day when, under ordinary circumstances, even to ride abroad is
avoided. All told, there were probably eight hundred Bedouins moving
along with us. They had at last understood that we were Germans, and
now carried on quite a variety show as they went along with us, dancing
and singing, yelling and shooting off their rifles, and carrying on all
sorts of fantastic performances.

In the meantime, the first Turkish officers from Hodeida had arrived,
among them several who could speak German. Our mutual joy at meeting
comrades in arms was great. The whole Turkish garrison of Hodeida was
marching out against us in the belief that a detachment of the enemy
was attempting a landing. Cannons even had been dragged along to assail
us.

Surrounded by the Turkish troops, and with banners flying, we made our
entry into Hodeida. The people filled the streets and shouted their
welcome at us, and flattered us with loud cries of approval and a
vigorous clapping of hands at the close of every marching song we sang
as we moved along.

Hastily prepared barracks were soon made ready for my men. For the
officers, a house in the town was provided. And so, for the present, we
were comfortable. From the windows of our house we could see the French
armored cruiser peacefully and dreamily rocking upon the blue water a
few miles off.



                               CHAPTER X

                             _ON TO SANAA_


At 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the ninth of January, my men were all
settled in their quarters, and I found myself free to consult with the
heads of the civil and military authorities at Hodeida with regard to
my future course. There were two ways of getting back to Germany open
to me: the one, overland, and the other, to continue on my way by sea.
Marine charts I could obtain in Hodeida. His Excellency, the Mutessarif
of Hodeida, whose name was Raghib, and the colonel of the regiment,
also named Raghib, sat together in consultation with me that afternoon.

I learned at once, and much to my regret, that the railroad did not
exist. At the same time I received information with regard to the
English warships then in the Red Sea. These consisted chiefly of a
number of gun-boats and auxiliary cruisers, that could be seen almost
daily to the northward of Hodeida, and that were maintaining a sort of
blockade line. To continue on the _Choising_ under these circumstances
was very nearly a hopeless undertaking, especially so in consideration
of the probability that spies would very soon make our presence in
Hodeida known abroad. The French iron-clad would surely hear of it,
and could at once participate in the search for our ship, while her
wireless apparatus could flash information of us to all the English and
French war vessels in the vicinity. In waters as narrow as the Red Sea
is, it would then be quite impossible for the _Choising_, with a speed
of but seven miles, to elude her pursuers.

The Turkish authorities assured me, moreover, that I would find the
overland route to the north both safe and unobstructed, although it
would necessarily entail some loss of time. Preparations for the
journey by land would require about a fortnight; then we could start
on our march, and, in all likelihood, would reach the railroad in about
two months.

When this was fully settled, I waited for the darkness to come, and
then, from the roof of our house, three times I sent off the signal
with fire balls, as agreed upon, to the waiting _Choising_: "Caution!
Hostile ships! Proceed at once to Massowa." Later we learned that the
_Choising_ had reached her destination in safety.

Whereas the health of my men had been excellent up to this time, they
now began to show the effects of the extreme climate. In Hodeida the
days were terribly hot, the nights very cool. The men of our crew slept
in the Turkish barracks along with the soldiers of the Turkish garrison.

In Arabia houses and barracks are constructed very differently from
those in our own climate. The barracks provided for my men consisted of
a framework of thin boards covered with matting and straw. They slept
side by side on a sort of divan, the cushions of which were stuffed
with straw. The water especially was unwholesome, and had to be boiled
to make it fit to drink. As a preventive measure against malarial
infection, we had to take quinine continuously. But in spite of all
our precaution, cases of dysentery and malaria soon began to develop
among us. I therefore decided to take my men into the mountains. Sanaa,
which is the chief city of Yemen, was recommended to me as being a very
healthful place, the water conditions good, and the climate closely
resembling that of Europe. Since our journey overland lay by way of
Sanaa, it was quite as well to await the completion of our preparations
for it at that place as at Hodeida. I decided therefore to start on our
march to Sanaa on the Kaiser's birthday.

Before leaving Hodeida we celebrated the anniversary of our Emperor's
birth by ceremonies in which the entire Turkish garrison participated,
as did also the entire Turko-Arabian populace, in their own peculiarly
enthusiastic fashion. I had in the meantime succeeded in procuring
new clothes for my men. Although this, their latest uniform, did not
exactly conform to home regulations,--especially the tropical hat
designed by myself after the pattern of the hats worn by the colonial
troops, and decorated with a large cockade in red, white, and black,
the like of which, it is safe to say, had never before been seen in the
navy,--nevertheless the men presented a very trim appearance, and made
an excellent impression.

The entire garrison marched to the parade square for the ceremony. My
little company of men stood in the middle, surrounded by the Turkish
troops. Together with the Turkish commander, I passed the combined
troops in review; I then made a speech in German in honor of the
Kaiser, and ended with three cheers for him, in which our Turkish
comrades in arms joined with enthusiasm. After the cheers for our
Emperor had been given, the Turkish commander called for three cheers
for the Sultan. A parade march by the combined troops closed the
ceremonies. With band playing and banners flying, my men then marched
off to a feast--mutton and rice--spread for them in the barracks.
The officers were invited by the heads of the local authorities to a
banquet--mutton and rice--at the palace of the mayor of Hodeida. Here,
also, the heartiest good will was expressed in the toasts that were
exchanged. At five o'clock in the afternoon we started on our march to
Sanaa.

In the Arabian desert it is only possible to travel at night, as the
heat of the day is too intense to be borne by either man or beast.
Marching on foot is out of the question even at night. Everybody rides.
We also had to follow this custom until we reached the foot of the
mountains.

The animals placed at our disposal were horses, mules, and donkeys.
Our baggage was transported by means of a special caravan of camels.
It was no light task to keep this newly organized company together at
the start, for this was the first time that some of my blue-jackets had
ever been astride of a four-footed creature. The fun began at once,
with the mounting, and there were some very ludicrous scenes. Some of
the men took advantage of the time before we started on the march, to
practise rapid dismounting, many of them taking their saddles along
with them in the attempt. However, relations of friendship sufficient
to insure against the occurrence of any serious misunderstanding had
soon been established between each rider and his mount, and the caravan
was ready to start. We were escorted for some distance by the Turkish
officers and garrison.

Soon Hodeida was left behind us in the distance, and we were in the
heart of the desert. As far as the eye could reach, there was nothing
but sand,--low flat sand hills grown over with dry grass. Roads, of
course, there were none; tracks in the sand, made by the passing of
other caravans,--that was all. Our march was frequently interrupted
by a halt, for in the beginning especially, it happened every little
while that one of the men devoted an over-amount of energy to guiding
and mastering his steed, and the ensuing duel usually came off to
the humiliation of the rider. The next thing to be done then, was to
catch the riderless beast that was making the most of its freedom, a
duty which usually devolved upon the officers, as they were the only
ones who could ride. With the donkeys and the mules this was no small
undertaking. Hardly had we come up to one of these animals when it
would turn and kick out vigorously with its hind legs, and it would
then require a resort to all the diplomacy and cunning at our command
to get hold of it again. That these diversions should not cause us too
great a loss of time, one of the officers always rode at the rear end
of the caravan to round up the riderless steeds, and the steedless
riders, and form them into a sort of rear guard.

As the nights were clear and bright with moonlight, we found our
way very easily. We rode the whole night through, stopping only
occasionally for a half hour's rest. Then we all flung ourselves down
in the sand, just where we happened to be, slung our reins around one
arm, or tied them to one of our legs, and so found rest for our weary
bodies, weary from the strain of the long continued ride.

The region through which we were traveling was not considered a wholly
safe one. Robbery and attacks upon small caravans were the order of
the day. As early as the second night out, we had an experience of
this kind ourselves. Suddenly, in the moonlight, there appeared to one
side of our road a dozen or more men mounted on camels. The Turkish
gendarmes that had been sent with us as an escort and to guide us on
the way, declared them to be robbers, and immediately got their rifles
ready to shoot. When the men on the camels saw the size of our caravan,
they vanished among the sand hills quite as suddenly as they had
appeared.

On the third day we had completed the journey across the broad strip
of desert which lies at the foot of the mountains, and we were now
at the entrance into the mountain region. Quite abruptly, almost
perpendicularly, the mountains rise from out the flat desert country,
and attain a height of some 3600 meters. The route now became more
difficult. Over loose stones, through dry beds of rivers and brooks,
we climbed slowly upward. At last we were again surrounded by trees
and bushes, and the vegetation became quite luxuriant. On many of
the highest peaks of the mountains Arab castles were to be seen. The
Arabs of this region seem to delight in placing their dwellings on as
great and inaccessible a height as possible. At every point where a
steep cliff or a narrow defile makes the upward way a difficult one,
some Arab had built him a castle, frequently large and imposing in
appearance, a veritable little fortress in itself. It was almost as
though we had suddenly been transported back into the Middle Ages.

The people were very friendly, and we met with a pleasant greeting
everywhere. Our periods of rest were usually spent in the caravansaries
provided for the Turkish troops. For some days our road lay through
a picturesque mountain region, and then brought us directly in front
of a lofty mountain ridge that seemed to block our way completely,
so that we did not know which way to turn. It was a steep, well nigh
perpendicular wall of rock. A serpentine path, most difficult to climb,
brought us to the summit of the ridge, after hours of exertion. It was
a road by no means free from danger. On the one side of us the wall
of rock rose straight up; on the other side it dropped straight down.
A road, in the ordinary sense of the word, it really was not. It was
no more than a bridle path worn into the rock by many long years of
travel, often blocked by a great boulder, and made dangerous with many
rolling stones.

The pack animals showed a wonderful ability and power of endurance.
Often we came to places so dangerous that I gave orders to dismount,
and lead the animals. As a whole, however, the men had come to be quite
good riders by this time. We bought eggs and milk on the way whenever
we had an opportunity to do so. We carried our cooking utensils with
us on one of the animals. An officer, the cook, and another man always
preceded the caravan, as a small number of men can travel faster than a
larger company. In this way our meals were always ready for us when we
arrived at the appointed place. This was a distinct advantage for the
men, for the journey was a very fatiguing one, and every hour of sleep
was of importance.

[Illustration: VIEW OF HODEIDA]

[Illustration: CROSSING THE DESERT]

I had arranged for a longer halt to be made at Menakha. This is a
small town situated on the highest point of the principal mountain
ridge. From thence the road winds gradually downward until it reaches
an extensive plateau on which Sanaa is located. In Menakha we were
given a pleasant welcome by both the Turkish troops and the people.
At a point some hours distant from the little town, we found the
commandant, together with his corps of officers and the troops,
awaiting us. A crowd of several hundred people had come with them.
Together with the Turkish soldiery, we covered the last part of the
way to Menakha, while before us went the great crowd of picturesquely
dressed Arabs carrying on a sort of performance, and dancing to the
accompaniment of a peculiar kind of song.

Excellent provision had been made for us at Menakha. On account of
the weather conditions here, the buildings are all of stone. My men
found large barracks awaiting them in which every comfort had been
provided, and where an abundant and appetizing meal was in readiness.
For the officers, accommodations had been prepared in the hotel of the
town, the only hotel that I ever saw in Arabia. It could even boast of
real beds. So far we had slept on "cursis," which consist of a wooden
framework filled in with a matting of bast. Menakha lies at a height of
about 3400 meters, and we often saw the clouds below us. The days were
cool, and the nights were bitterly cold.

We remained in Menakha for two days. I took advantage of this time
to visit a number of the Arab dignitaries in their homes. The rooms
in all Arab houses are white throughout, while the windows are set
with bright colored glass--blue, red, and yellow. Along the walls are
low comfortable divans and cushions. On the carpet, in the middle of
the room, stands a large brass table on which are the nargilehs.[3]
According to the customs of the country, we were always offered a cup
of Mocha on these occasions, and we spent many a pleasant hour smoking
and chatting as best we could with our Arab hosts.

From Menakha our way lay downward again. The Turks were improving
the condition of their roadways here, and for some distance from the
town we followed a fine, broad and newly made road leading down into
the valley, a highway that compared favorably with any in Europe. Our
journey now took us through some wonderful mountain scenery. To see
camels grazing by the wayside, nibbling at the tops of low trees, never
ceased to be a marvelous sight to us. Occasionally, too, we caught a
glimpse of a lot of baboons, but never got a shot at one of them, as
often as we tried it. By this time the horsemanship of my troop had
improved to such a degree that we could maintain a very respectable
formation, and now and again could even ride at an easy trot.

The seventh day of our journey found us approaching the capital city.
From the heights, on our way through the passes, we could look down
upon a wide and fruitful plateau, sprinkled with many villages and
towns, among which Sanaa could readily be distinguished by its size.
Turkish officers had ridden out to meet us. Just outside of the city
the whole garrison stood lined up, and received us with bands playing
gaily. "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber Alles" greeted our ears. The
heads of the civil and military authorities came on horseback or in
carriages. The people also showed a lively interest in our arrival.
Even the French consul, who was being detained in the city as a measure
of retaliation, appeared on the balcony of his house. We had come in
contact with his English colleague on our way hither, although without
meeting him face to face. It must have given him a shock of surprise
suddenly to hear "The Watch on the Rhine" sung in his home in the heart
of the Arabian mountains.

Unfortunately Sanaa was not as healthful a place as we had hoped to
find it. Owing to its great altitude it is very cold there even during
the daytime. It takes some time to get accustomed to the climate. A few
days after our arrival, eighty per cent of my men were sick with the
fever, and unfit to continue on the march. We suffered especially with
sudden and severe attacks of cramps in the stomach, and with colds.

The city of Sanaa is a most interesting one. It is divided into
three sections,--the Jewish, the Arab, and the Turkish quarters. The
city is entirely surrounded by brick walls, and is so built as to
form a fortress. Within this fortress the three quarters of the town
constitute three distinct fortresses, each enclosed within its own
wall, and within each of these, every individual home is itself a
distinct little fortress. All the streets and roads are enclosed within
high walls, and are so laid out that, like our trenches, they can be
swept throughout their entire length by rifle fire from certain vantage
points. The reason for building the towns in this peculiar fashion
is to be found in the very unsafe conditions that prevail. Yemen has
always had the reputation of being the most turbulent of the Turkish
provinces, and in past years violent encounters between the Arabs
and the Turks were the order of the day. Frequently these were of so
serious a nature that the towns were besieged by garrisons. Sanaa,
also, had been starved into surrender to the Arabs only a decade ago.
Since that time, however, peace and quiet have reigned in the land.

After a fortnight spent in Sanaa, we learned that the difficulties
of the journey overland were so great, that, after all, it would
be impossible for me to get my men safely through by this route.
The sickness among them compelled me to remain another fortnight
in idleness. By that time, though still weak, the sick had so far
recovered as to be able to ride their animals.

So we started on our return journey to Hodeida, there again to entrust
ourselves to the sea.



                              CHAPTER XI

                              _SHIPWRECK_


Our return to Sanaa was accomplished in the same manner as we had
traveled thither, and without hindrance of any kind. In order to make
arrangements for our onward journey by sea, I had taken a few of my men
with me and hurried on ahead of the caravan. In this way I succeded in
getting to Hodeida a day and a half ahead of the others. It took the
caravan eight days to get there. To be sure, our little advance guard
had spent both day and night in the saddle, the only halts being made
when we changed animals.

As the _Choising_ had been sent on, and there was nothing in the way of
steamboats to be had at Hodeida, there was but one thing left for us to
do,--to continue our journey in zambuks. A zambuk is a small sail-boat
much in use all along the Arabian coast, and is provided with a dhow
sail.

I procured two such boats in Hodeida, each about fourteen meters long
and four meters wide. These two zambuks I sent to Yabana, a little bay
to the north of Hodeida. Because of the French armored cruiser, still
sleepily rocking at anchor, a departure from the harbor of Hodeida
was out of the question for me. The Frenchman might accidentally have
a spell of wakefulness. As I was aware that the country was swarming
with English and French spies, I took pains to spread abroad the report
that it was our intention to sail from Isa Bay on the thirteenth of
March. It happened just as I had foreseen. On the afternoon of the
twelfth of March the little and out-of-the-way Isa Bay, where no
house, nor tree, nor bush is to be seen, and where there is hardly any
water, was honored for the first time since the beginning of the war
by the presence of an English gun-boat, which hunted for us with its
search-light all up and down the shore. The poor fellows! How they must
have wondered where we were!

On the fourteenth of March, at five o'clock in the afternoon, my fleet
sailed from Yabana. The Imperial war flag flew proudly at the masthead
of my flagship, and with three cheers for His Majesty, the Emperor,
we began our onward journey. The flagship of the second admiral was
in command of Lieutenant Gerdts. We made up for the total lack of any
further ships in the fleet by our absolutely correct discipline. As the
second zambuk was somewhat larger than mine, the sick were put aboard
of it. Malaria, dysentery, and typhus were still prevalent among the
men, of whom there were always one or two so ill as to cause us the
gravest anxiety. Under no circumstances, however, would I have been
willing to leave any of them behind, for their only hope of improvement
lay in a change of climate.

With regard to the English I had kept myself posted up to the last
minute as best I could, and I was aware that an English blockade was
being maintained by two gun-boats together with the auxiliary cruiser
_Empress of Russia_, in a line extending from Loheia across Kamaran,
Jebel Sebejir to Jebel Soghair. My problem now was how I could run this
blockade with my sail-boats. To avoid the possibility of both boats
being captured at the same time, I gave Lieutenant Gerdts orders to
separate from me. A meeting place farther to the north was appointed,
where we were to wait a while for each other.

Soon the other zambuk was lost to sight in the darkness of the
approaching night. Now, for the first time, our lucky star forsook
us, for, as the day dawned, the wind died away entirely, and, after
the sun had risen, we discovered to our extreme discomfiture that we
were exactly where we had no wish to be, namely, right in the middle
of the English blockade line. We expected at any moment to see the
masthead of an English ship appear above the horizon. Our frame of mind
was not of the happiest. The absence of wind detained us more surely
than the most superior of foes could have held us. But it had not been
without a good reason that I had delayed our departure to the end of
the week. I was sufficiently familiar with English customs to know that
the gentlemen are disinclined to work during week ends, that is, on
Saturdays and Sundays. And nothing did, in fact, come in sight during
the entire day.

The breeze, which set in during the course of the afternoon, helped
us onward considerably, and by evening, soon after sunset, we could
go to rest with the comfortable assurance that with two sail-boats,
and making but little headway, we had succeeded in running the English
blockade.

With my flat-bottomed zambuks it was possible for me to shape my
further course so as to keep within the coral reefs of the Farsan
Bank. This is a dangerous and very long coral bank having an extent
of about three hundred and fifty nautical miles, and near which large
ships dare not venture. It is not wholly free from danger even for
small craft. In the course of the following day, my second zambuk came
in sight, and received orders to keep by me.

Life on the zambuks was rather pleasant and quite cozy. An abundance of
room we did not have, of course. Including the interpreter, the pilot,
and the Arabs we had taken with us for service with the sails and the
ships, we numbered thirty-five men to each zambuk. With a length of
fourteen meters, and a width of four, it can be readily seen that but
little space could be allotted to each man. Moreover, a large part
of each boat had to be devoted to the storing of provisions, water,
ammunition, and the machine guns. To protect ourselves, in a measure at
least, from the burning rays of the sun, we stretched woolen blankets
across the ship so as to be able to keep our heads in the shade. Our
culinary department was not run on a lavish scale. In each zambuk there
was a small open fire-place lined with tin. Here the meals for thirty
persons had to be cooked. We tried to make our meals as varied as
possible with the limited means at our disposal. Thus, for instance, if
we had tough mutton with rice and gravy on one day, we would have rice
with gravy and tough mutton on the next, and on the third day, there
would be gravy with tough mutton and rice, and so on.

Our boats made but very slow progress. Oftentimes we were becalmed, and
there were frequent struggles with head winds and opposing currents.
Nor were these troubles from without our only ones, for there were
conflicts within our boat as well. These raged most fiercely at night,
for then the cockroaches, bedbugs, and lice were especially active.
All articles of clothing that were not in use had to be tied fast to
something for fear they might run away. In the morning, as soon as
the sun was up, every man of us pulled off his shirt, and the general
"early louse hunt" was begun. The record number for one shirt was
seventy-four.

On the seventeenth of March I signalled to my fleet: "I intend to
anchor in the evening." According to our pilot, we were getting into
a vicinity where the reefs made it unsafe even for our small craft to
sail at night. By six o'clock in the evening we were drawing near to
the island of Marka, where we were to anchor. Our pilot was conducting
us to our anchorage. My zambuk led the way. The second one followed
at a distance of two hundred meters. There was a pretty stiff breeze
blowing, with correspondingly high seas, and we were looking forward
with eagerness to getting a little rest in the lee of the sheltering
island. But we had made our reckoning without our host in the person
of our capable Arab pilot. He directed our course so skilfully that
my boat suddenly struck a coral reef. A second and a third time she
pounded so hard that I had grave fears for the safety of the boat. The
next moment we were free of the reef, however, and in deeper water. I
dropped anchor at once. Then, in order to keep the boat behind us from
running aground upon the same reef, I quickly gave her captain orders
by signs and shouts to hold off. This he did, but his boat was already
so in the midst of the reefs that, in the endeavor to avoid one reef,
he struck another. In a moment more I saw a flag run up, a sign that
something had happened. The next instant the boat dipped slowly. From
the motion of the mast, I knew that the boat was pounding. Suddenly it
disappeared,--only the top of the mast could be seen rising on a slant
out of the water. It was now just before sundown.

Night sets in very suddenly in these southern latitudes. Ten minutes
after the sun has set, it is absolutely dark. There was no moon at
the time. Instant help was therefore necessary. Up went the sail on
our zambuk. All hands set to work. The anchor was pulled up, and by
a difficult manoeuvre in which we came near running aground again,
we got away, and hastened to the relief of our comrades. I took my
boat as close to the submerged zambuk as possible, and cast anchor
again. But on account of the reef I was obliged to keep at a distance
of four hundred meters. We had no small boats that we could send back
and forth. Each zambuk carries but a single dugout,--a very small and
narrow paddle boat, made from a single tree trunk, and capable of
carrying no more than two men at the most. With the high seas running
at the time, their usefulness was a matter of doubt. Nevertheless I
sent mine out at once.

In the meantime it had grown dark. We had a lantern aboard our
zambuk, but all the many attempts we made to light it, in order to
show our ship's position, failed, as the strong wind that was blowing
extinguished the light again and again. "Torch-lights!" was my next
order. We had taken with us a few torches from both the _Emden_ and the
_Choising_ for possible cases of emergency. These were now brought out
and nailed up. The fuses worked all right, but the torches refused to
burn. They had grown too damp in the many months that we had carried
them about with us.

Suddenly, out of the darkness of the night, I heard voices rising from
the water just behind us. The first men from the foundered zambuk had
reached us, and, unable to see us in the darkness, they were swimming
past us. By shouting, by whistling with the boatswain's whistle, we
tried to call them back, and, after some anxious moments, we succeeded
in doing so. The men had swum away from the other zambuk, and, having
nothing else to guide them, they had followed a star that shone down
from the direction of our boat. How many of the men were in the water
we had, of course, no means of knowing. My anxiety for them was great,
knowing, as I did, that the water in this vicinity is full of sharks.
My greatest concern, however, was for the sick, and I wondered what had
been done for them, for many of them were too weak to help themselves.
That which was needed above all else now, was for us to show a light.
As every other means had failed us, I had the men bring wood, pile it
together, pour petroleum on it, and, with little care for the danger we
ran of setting our boat afire, we set it in a blaze. In the fire thus
kindled, we held our torches until they were dry enough to burn. At the
same time we set off a few white fire balls that we had with us, and
which, thank God, were still in good condition, although by firing off
these rockets, we revealed our presence to other ships for miles about.

At last the two dugouts returned. They were rowed by one man, and
in each one lay one of the sick. The others who were too ill to do
anything for themselves were either brought aboard our boat in the
same way, or else they were tied to one of the dugouts, and towed
along in the water. Meanwhile, all those who could swim were arriving
from every side. The men who could not swim--and there were a number
such--had put on life-preservers, and were paddling along as best they
could. One after another they came aboard. Soon there were fifty of us
in my little zambuk, and then it settled so low in the water that it
was evident it would hold no more. I therefore ordered everything that
could possibly be spared, including provisions and water, to be thrown
overboard, in order to lighten the boat sufficiently to carry us all.
Finally, all that was left us was our arms, ammunition, and food and
water sufficient for three days.

In the meantime our torches had burned low, and I was filled with
anxiety lest their light would not hold out until the last man from
the wrecked zambuk had come aboard. At last all were accounted for
except the officers, and, with the arrival of the last one of these,
the last torch died out. So, for the present at least, all were safe.
The wrecked zambuk, according to the reports of the officers in command
of it, lay hard aground on an abruptly descending coral reef, and we
had reason to be grateful that at least the mast had remained above
water. It might have happened quite as well that the zambuk had slipped
down the side of the reef, and vanished in the deep. In that case all
the sick would surely have been lost, and most likely some of the men
who could not swim would also have been drowned.

Near us lay another zambuk, which belonged to the Idriss tribe. The
Idriss are an Arab race that is not very friendly to the Turks, and is
especially averse to European influence of any kind. From this zambuk a
canoe had been sent to the rescue when my second zambuk stranded. But
as soon as it was discovered that we were Europeans--a circumstance
which was revealed by the tropical hat worn by our doctor--the canoe
turned back, and left our men to their fate. To continue our journey in
my one greatly overladen boat was a very precarious undertaking,--there
were now some seventy persons aboard of her--and especially so in
consideration of the very meager supply of provisions we had with us.
Therefore, just before sunrise, I sent our Arab interpreter to the
Idriss zambuk to offer those in charge of it a large sum of money for
the use of their boat for a few days. They refused my offer flatly,
however, saying that, should I offer them a hundred thousand pounds,
they would do nothing for dogs of Christians. It would, of course, have
been an easy matter for me to have made myself master of the desired
zambuk by force, and, indeed, it had been my intention to do so as soon
as it should be fully day. I was very averse to such a proceeding,
however. It might have had some very unpleasant consequences
politically, for it involved the use of armed force against allies,
even though these allies were but a race of wild and uncivilized people.

But the day brought us better fortune; our lucky star was once more
in the ascendant. A stiff southerly breeze was blowing, which made it
possible for me to sail even with my overloaded boat, as I could run
before the wind. It gave us the promise of rapid progress during the
day. So I left the Idriss boat in peace.

We now hurried to save what we could from the wrecked zambuk. We wanted
most of all to recover our arms. The zambuk had sunk still lower during
the night. The mast was broken off, and the ship lay on the bottom,
tilted downward. By diving, we succeeded in recovering the two machine
guns, a few pistols, and a part of the ammunition. Everything else, our
provisions, our clothing, and the like, was lost, and, unfortunately,
our entire medical outfit as well.

The stiff breeze from the south carried us in a single afternoon over a
distance which it would have taken us about six days to cover under the
previously existing conditions.

By evening we had arrived at Coonfidah. Here we were given a most
friendly welcome. As there had been no opportunity to make special
preparation for our coming, a genuine Turkish meal was quickly made
ready for us, and we ate it according to the local custom, without the
use of plates, forks, or knives. A whole sheep, boiled and stuffed
with rice, was placed on the table. With eager hands we set to work to
denude the bones of the meat that was on them, and with our fingers we
put the rice into our mouths. At Coonfidah we met a Turkish government
official and his wife, who were also on their way to Constantinople,
and who became our traveling companions. In the further course of our
journey this official rendered me good service as dragoman, that is, as
interpreter.

It was our good fortune to find a large zambuk while we were in
Coonfidah. We chartered it, and so were enabled to continue our journey
all together in one boat. Without meeting with further difficulties
of any kind, we reached Leet on the afternoon of the twenty-fourth
day of March. This town marks the northern extremity of the Farisan
Bank, between the coral reefs of which we had so far found safety from
pursuit by our English foes. Our further course by water would now take
us out into the open sea. It was evident that the English would do all
in their power to capture us there. While in Leet, chance placed in my
hands a letter that had come from a merchant in Djidda. He wrote that
Djidda was closely blockaded by English warships, and that not even
a zambuk was allowed to enter the harbor without inspection by the
English.

This prohibited our further journey by sea. There was therefore but one
way open to us, and that lay overland. We remained in Leet two days,
just long enough to get together the animals needed for our caravan, to
provide ourselves with the required amount of water, and to make all
other necessary preparations for our onward march.

In Leet occurred the first death in our number. One of our seamen,
Keil, had been suffering from a severe attack of typhus ever since our
sojourn at Hodeida. The hardships of the shipwreck had proved too much
for his already exhausted body, and, as our medical stores had all been
lost, we could not even give him medical aid as we journeyed on. He
died on the twenty-seventh of March, at three o'clock in the morning.
Two of his comrades watched at his bier, as they had at his bedside
throughout his illness. We made a row-boat ready, sewed the body in
sailcloth, and weighted it with stones. The war flag was then draped
over it, and on this was laid the hat and bared sword of the dead.
After a brief religious service, we laid the body of our comrade in the
boat, and, taking it out to where the water was deep, we committed
it to its last resting place. Three volleys resounded over his watery
grave. We did not deem it wise to give our dead a burial on land, as,
in all likelihood, the wild and fanatical people of the country would
have disturbed his last sleep.

On the twenty-eighth of March we began our onward journey.



                              CHAPTER XII

                             _THE ATTACK_


It did not prove an altogether easy task to collect in Leet all the
camels that we needed for our journey. Leet is a very small town with
a population numbering only a few hundred, and with no commercial
connections whatever. To facilitate matters with regard to our journey
I thought it advisable to pay my respects to the Sheikh of Leet. Never
before had a Christian entered his home.

The medium of our conversation was my dragoman. After the customary
felicitations had been exchanged, the Sheikh invited me to dine with
him. His house was a hut put together of boards and matting, and
without windows of any kind. Along two sides of the room stood divans
covered with skins. The walls were hung with weapons. The rest of the
furniture of the room consisted of smoking apparatus. Throughout the
entire time before dinner, cups of Mocha and of a sort of lemonade were
passed around. The coffee was of the Arabian variety, viz., in its
preparation the husks of the coffee bean, and not the beans themselves,
are boiled. The result is a bitter drink not at all palatable to
Europeans, but which, for the sake of politeness, must be swallowed
down under any circumstances. The preparations for the meal were begun
while we were sitting in the room. First of all, quite a large round
mat of woven straw was laid on the bare earth in the middle of the
room. Then servants brought in rice, which was heaped in a huge mound
in the middle of the mat. A few jars of mixed pickles completed the
course. Instead of sitting, we lay down at the table. Spoons were
provided, however. Soon we were all cheerfully doing our best to
diminish the mountain of rice. Meanwhile the meat course had arrived at
the front of the house. It consisted of a whole roast sheep, which,
as such, did not make its appearance on the table however. Knives and
forks there were none. Two servants, detailed for this special duty,
tore the roast sheep into pieces with their hands, and placed before
each one of us, on the mat, the piece that was intended for him. In the
course of the two days that we had to spend in Leet, we succeeded in
getting together about ninety camels. With this number we could begin
our march. The Sheikh assured us that we would meet with the others
en route on the following day. I purchased a large number of straw
mats and distributed them among my men. Later, these mats proved an
excellent protection against the heat of the sun. Our caravan left Leet
in the evening, and we began our march into the desert. Most of the
camels carried only burdens, especially water, ammunition, the machine
guns, and provisions. The water prospects for our journey were far from
favorable. I had to reckon with the possibility of traveling for days
without being able to replenish our water supply.

A journey on camels is necessarily a slow one. To begin with, the camel
is not a speedy traveler; furthermore, ours was a caravan of ninety
camels at the start, and later, of one hundred and ten. The camels on
which the officers rode were the only ones that were allowed to run
free. All the others were fastened together by ropes, the muzzle of
one being tied by a rope of about four meters' length to the tail of
the one in front of it. Naturally, the long line of camels thus formed
could not move with the rapidity of a single animal, since the rate
of progress of the whole line had to be kept down to the pace of the
slowest camel. Moreover, frequent halts had to be made, to re-adjust
packs that had slipped, to mend a broken saddle girth, to recover a
saddle that had slipped off, and for other like causes of delay.

We kept to a route that follows the coast, close by the sea. This
entire region is considered unsafe, robbery and attacks upon passing
caravans being the order of the day. From the time we left Leet,
our rifles were therefore kept loaded, and ready to shoot. We were
fortunate in that the nights were bright with the light of a full moon.
As a rule, we began the day's march at four o'clock in the afternoon,
and arrived at nine or ten in the morning at the place where we were to
rest. On an average, we spent about fourteen to eighteen hours a day in
the saddle. As camels are pacers, it is very fatiguing to ride them.

The water places that we passed were mere holes dug into the sand
of the desert, and were from fourteen to eighteen meters deep. With
leather bags, which we lowered into them, we dipped up the water. The
word water, in its European sense, is a misnomer, however, for this
evil-smelling, brown or black, thick fluid, swarming with insects. At
the bottom of some of the water holes a dead dog or sheep could be
seen. To use it unboiled was therefore utterly out of the question. It
frequently had a brackish taste also.

From Leet out, we were escorted by a Turkish officer and seven
gendarmes. In addition, we were always accompanied by the sheikh
of the district through which we happened to be passing, for it is
customary in these parts to take with one, as hostage, the person who
is responsible for the safety of the country. Such precautions are
not looked upon as being anything unusual here. In this way our march
proceeded without interruption of any kind until the thirty-first day
of March.

At about eleven o'clock on the morning of this day, we arrived at a
watering place which is but a day's march distant from Djidda, our next
objective point. At this water hole we found an officer and seventeen
gendarmes, who had been sent from Djidda to meet us and to bring us
the greetings of our Turkish allies and of the civil authorities
of Djidda. They had also brought us a liberal supply of water. We
camped at the water hole as usual, stretched our straw mats and woolen
blankets over the low thorny desert growth, and crawled under them far
enough to find protection for our heads at least from the scorching
heat of the sun.

The cooking was always the first thing undertaken after we had settled
down. Dry wood was gathered along the way by all of the men, and so a
fire was quickly started. On it our usual meal of rice and, if we were
lucky, of mutton, was soon prepared.

[Illustration: Map of Arabia]

When I saw the men who had been sent out from Djidda to meet us, I
supposed that the most dangerous part of our journey was behind us.
We were now getting into the vicinity of a town in which there was
stationed a Turkish garrison of about three hundred men, and I said
to myself that if seventeen men could come through unmolested from
Djidda to us, then surely we, a company of fifty men, would be able
to travel the same road to Djidda in safety.

This district is inhabited by a tribe that is composed wholly of direct
descendants of the Prophet, but which nevertheless is notorious for its
uncivilized ways, and its robberies. "Father of the Wolf" is the very
appropriate name by which this part of the country is known.

As usual, we began our onward march at four o'clock in the afternoon.
Our road now led us somewhat away from the sea. The country round about
consists wholly of flat sand drifts. Nowhere can one see farther ahead
than a distance of about four hundred meters. Hardly has one sand hill
been passed, before another looms up to shut out the view. The drifts
are overgrown with tufts of grass attaining a height of about two
feet. We were trotting slowly along in the moonlight when suddenly, to
our right, from beyond the usual course followed by caravans, there
appeared a number of Bedouins, about twelve or fifteen, riding in a
quick trot, and then vanished in the direction from which we had come.
This looked rather suspicious, for, as a rule, caravans do not depart
from the routes that have been trodden for thousands of years. Still
less is it customary to ride off into the desert at a quick trot in
the night-time. Our Turkish escort also took these men to be robbers,
and told us that there had been talk in Djidda of a band of robbers,
numbering about forty, by which this part of the country was infested.

As from Leet I had notified the authorities at Djidda, as well as those
at Mecca, of our coming, I had reason to believe that the whole country
round about was aware of our approach. Everybody knew, therefore, that
our company was not one of the usual merchant caravans with little
armed protection, but that, on the contrary, we were a company of fifty
well-armed men, who were, moreover, carrying with them four machine
guns. A rumor of forty roaming bandits caused me little disturbance of
mind, therefore. Nevertheless, that I might have my men better in hand,
and be prepared for any emergency, I took the precaution to divide our
one long line of camels into two lines of fifty each. The men were
given orders not to go to sleep on their camels, the rifles were all
examined, and everything was in readiness for prompt action. The orders
to my men were, once for all: "Rally to your commander."

The officers were riding at the head of the caravan. When the first
signs of the coming day began to appear behind the mountains that rose
on our right, from out the flat surface of the desert, I supposed that
all occasion for anxiety was now passed, as Bedouins never make their
attacks by daylight. So I slung my rifle across my saddle, unbuckled
my heavy cartridge belt, and rode slowly down the line to see whether
everything was in order.

I had got no farther than the middle of the caravan when I suddenly
heard a loud, shrill whistle that was instantly followed by a volley
of rifle fire. From every side it rained lead into our caravan
incessantly, and at close range. The hum and whistle of the bullets
made such a noise that the commands I shouted could not be heard. I
grabbed my rifle, held it high, jumped from my camel, and, followed by
my men, ran to the head of the caravan. Here the firing from both sides
was well under way. From out the dusk of the early morning came the
flash of the enemy's shots at a distance of about eighty meters. The
riflemen themselves we could not see, any more than they could probably
see us, when we lay on the ground. The tall forms of the camels, on
the other hand, must have been quite visible to the enemy, and it was
at these, most likely, that their fire was chiefly directed. The only
guide to the position of our foes was the flash of their shots. As we
were being fired at from every side, it was difficult to decide in
which direction to turn first. The larger number of my men was with me
at the front. A few of them had been given orders to remain with the
rear of the caravan.

The most important thing for us to do now was to get our most effective
weapons, the machine guns, into play. Of these, two were strapped
on camels at the head of the caravan, and two at the rear. In a few
minutes we had the machine guns in action, and hardly had their volleys
rattled over the enemy's lines, when silence reigned there. This turn
in affairs had evidently not been expected. We took advantage of this
lull in the enemy's fire to pull down the camels that were still
standing, so that they would not form so easy a target, to distribute
ammunition, and to get together.

The heaviest fire had poured down upon us from forward to the left, and
it was therefore in this direction that I now led my men. Our equipment
of fire-arms consisted, all told, of the four machine guns, thirteen
German, and three modern Turkish rifles, together with ten old Turkish
rifles that I had secured in Coonfidah to replace those lost with the
wrecked zambuk. Of these, the three modern Turkish rifles had been
distributed among the officers. In addition, we had twenty-four pistols
among us, which, however, could only be of service in an encounter at
close range. What the strength of the enemy was, we could not tell
as yet. There might be from sixty to eighty men firing rapidly, or
there might be many more who fired slowly. Their number was soon to be
revealed to us by the coming day. When it was fully light, we could
see that within our immediate vicinity the sand hills were black with
Bedouins.

My men behaved splendidly. Not one of them showed the least
perturbation in spite of the overwhelming superiority in numbers shown
by the enemy, of whom there must have been at least three hundred. With
one accord the bayonets appeared on all the rifles, although no order
to that effect had been given. During a moment of hesitation at the
very outset of the firing, which had now begun in good earnest, and
before I had fully decided what it was best to do, the answer to my
question came from the man at my right, who called to me.

"Well, what is it?" I asked.

"How soon are we going at it, sir?"

"At what?" was my question in reply.

"Why, at storming the enemy," came the answer from this
eighteen-year-old boy.

"Exactly, my man! You're right. Up! March, march!"

With a hearty cheer we were up, and rushing the enemy's line. No doubt,
such tactics were a novelty to Bedouins used to attacking a caravan.
At any rate, the enemy's fire ceased almost entirely. As our shining
bayonets came closer to our foes, they quickly took to flight, followed
by our rifle fire, which visibly thinned their ranks. First, we stormed
to our left, then to the front, and then to the right. It was not
necessary to follow the same tactics to the rear, as there the enemy
had disappeared entirely.

As a result, the narrow circle within which we had been hemmed in by
the enemy, had now been widened to one of about 1200 meters' distance
from us. The firing had stopped altogether. I now assembled my men
close by the caravan. The machine guns remained in position, in
readiness to keep off the enemy, as well as to attack them.

In spite of the close range at which the shots had poured in upon
us, we had, thank God, only one man wounded among the Germans of my
company. A little surprise was in store for me, however, when I looked
about me for my friends of the Arab escort. There is a German saying
which runs, "He counts his dear ones that are present, to find his six
increased to seven." In my case the situation was reversed. Instead of
twenty-four gendarmes, we now had only seven. There were no dead. The
missing were found when we reached Djidda. Nearly all of the Arabs we
still had with us had been shot in the leg. This was to be accounted
for by the circumstance that, instead of advancing toward the enemy,
they had run to cover among the camels. My men, who had lain in the
sand some thirty to forty meters distant from the camels, had escaped
the enemy's fire, which had passed over them. Our foes had aimed at the
camels, and so, before our Arabs could pull the animals to their knees,
to find complete shelter behind them, the enemy's bullets, in passing
between the legs of the camels, had found a mark in the limbs of the
heroes who had sought refuge there.

Of the enemy's losses we knew nothing at all. But, as we stormed past
the evacuated positions where they had lain, we counted fifteen dead.
It is the custom with Bedouins immediately to remove all weapons from
the bodies of their fallen comrades. As such had been the case with all
but one of the dead, only one of their rifles fell into our hands. It
was a breech loader of the most modern English construction, and was
gratefully added to our own equipment. All the distant sand hills were
still full of Bedouins, as we could see. In so far as possible, each
one of those who showed themselves within range of our rifle fire,
received his share of it, the moral effect produced being the principal
object in view for the time being.

We could not very well remain lying in the place where we were. I had
at first thought that we were dealing with a band of brigands, whose
purpose was the usual one, to capture the valuables we had with us.
I had therefore come to the conclusion that our assailants, who had
suffered considerable loss, had now thought better of their undertaking
and had abandoned it.

Quite a number of our camels had been shot. We took from their packs
everything that was most necessary to us, water especially, and,
discarding all the less useful things from the burdens of the uninjured
camels, replaced them with the indispensables.

I decided to leave the road usually traveled, and turn sharply to
the left in the direction of the sea, which I saw shimmering in the
distance. If we could reach it, it would afford us protection on one
side, leaving us free to face our foes in front and at our rear. It
was unfortunate that I could not make use of the machine guns while on
the march. Having no limbers with us, the guns had to be carried by
camels while we were on the march. To make the caravan more compact, it
was divided into from four to six lines, which traveled abreast. The
wounded were so placed on the camels that they hung on one side of the
animal, which thus afforded them some protection against the flying
bullets. Two of the four camels that carried machine guns were placed
at the head of the caravan, and the other two at the rear. An advance
guard of ten men in a widely extended skirmish line was sent out about
one hundred and fifty meters ahead of the caravan, while a like number
of men formed a rear guard at the same distance from it. As there were
only nine more men who carried rifles, these formed a protecting guard,
as best they could, for the two wings. The men who were armed with
pistols only, and so could take part in no engagement except one at
close range, remained near the caravan. Lieutenant Gerdts was placed in
command of the advance guard, Lieutenant Schmidt of the rear guard, and
Lieutenant Gyssling, of the flanks. Lieutenant Wellmann had charge of
the caravan itself, where Dr. Lang was also with the sick.

Slowly our company set forth, our flag carried before us. Our hope,
that the enemy would not trouble us again, was not to be realized. We
had hardly been ten minutes on the march when shots again poured in
upon us from every side. There was scarce a sign of our foes to be
seen. Their every movement at any distance of more than four hundred
meters was completely hidden by the sand hills. Ten to twenty dark
heads popping up with lightning rapidity from behind a sand hill here
or there, was all that we could see. Their appearance was always
followed the next instant by a volley of shot rattling about the
caravan, and before we could get the slightest opportunity to return
the fire, the heads had disappeared, and a shower of lead fell upon us
from another direction.

At first, strange to say, not one of our number was hit, although the
enemy's fire was so incessant that shots were constantly falling about
us, little pillars of sand marking the spot where they struck, while
sand and gravel was constantly flying in our faces. In a short time it
became evident that the greatest pressure was being brought to bear
upon our rear guard. At that end of the caravan the men had to turn
every few minutes to silence the enemy by a vigorous return of their
fire.

I was with the rear guard when a signal came from the front, reporting
that strong hostile forces had come in sight in the direction toward
which the caravan was moving. When I arrived at the front, I saw that
the whole horizon was black with Bedouins. At the same time came the
report from the rear that one of the camels carrying the machine guns
had been shot. The rear guard had halted, to protect the gun, and
Lieutenant Schmidt asked that fresh camels be sent to the rear, so that
he might shift the dead camel's load. I now heard the machine guns of
the rear guard firing. They had been unstrapped, set up, and brought
into action.

I now ordered the caravan to halt, an order which was by no means
easy to carry out, however, as most of the camel drivers had taken
advantage of the darkness to disappear along with the Arab gendarmes
at the beginning of the fight. While on my way back to the rear guard,
the report reached me that seaman Rademacher had fallen, and that
Lieutenant Schmidt was mortally wounded, shot through the breast and
abdomen. In the meantime the command of the rear guard had devolved
upon Lieutenant Wellmann, who had brought with him two camels from the
caravan, for the transport of the machine guns.

During our halt, the enemy's fire increased in severity, and a
vigorous engagement was soon in progress. Suddenly the firing ceased
altogether, and, as I looked about me for the cause, I saw two of the
Arab gendarmes, who had remained with us, running toward the enemy's
lines, waving large white cloths as they ran. At the same time a third
gendarme came to tell me that his comrades wished to parley with the
other side. Although this turn in affairs was in no way of my choosing,
it was nevertheless a welcome one, for it had now become evident
that this was no attack by a mere band of robbers, but one that was
thoroughly organized. As our assailants outnumbered us by at least ten
to one, it would have been folly to continue our march at the slow
gait of a camel's pace, on an open plain, under continued fire from
the enemy. Moreover, my most effective weapon of defence, the machine
guns, could not be used while on the march. Nor could our twenty-nine
rifles be employed to the best advantage, as there were too few of us
to make their fire effective in all the directions from which we would
be attacked. In the long run, we would have been shot down one after
the other.

We therefore took advantage of the pause in the battle, to fortify
ourselves. Hastily we constructed defence works out of camel saddles,
which we filled with sand, out of sacks of coffee, rice and other
provisions. We strengthened the rampart thus formed by filling it about
with sand, as best we could. The camels were placed all together in the
middle of the enclosed space, and loop holes were quickly got ready.
For want of better material, they were put together out of tin plates
and side arms. As all this was done in great haste, our constructions
were, of course, but temporary and incomplete. Our water bottles were
quickly buried deep in the sand, where they were least likely to be
damaged by the enemy's fire. Within our outer rampart we raised another
little fortress, the walls of which were about one meter and a half
high, and constructed of empty petroleum cans which we filled with
sand. Here were placed the sick who were unfit for duty, the wounded,
and the doctor.

As we had to reckon with the possibility of being fired upon from all
sides, and our rampart afforded us protection in front only, the camels
were so placed as to shelter us from the enemy's fire at the flanks and
rear. For our severely wounded, Lieutenant Schmidt, we made a stretcher
of rifles and a woolen blanket, on which he was carefully carried to
the inner fortress. The seaman, who had fallen, we buried where he fell.

The four machine guns were set up at the four corners of our defence
works, and protected as best they could be by hastily thrown up
ramparts of sand. The men armed with rifles were distributed at equal
distances along our fortifications. In the spaces between, were
stationed the men who were armed with pistols only, and the ammunition
was placed within easy reach. Our preparations were hardly completed
when the men bringing the enemy's conditions, returned. The demands
were that we surrender all arms and ammunition, our camels, all our
provisions and water. In addition we were to pay eleven thousand pounds
in gold. Upon compliance with these conditions we were to be allowed to
proceed unmolested. Well we might!

The parleying had at first been conducted through the dragoman who,
with his wife, had joined us at Coonfidah. He also was among the
wounded. Shot in the leg! When he went over to the enemy to negotiate,
he did not forget to take his wife with him. We did not see either of
them again until we met them in Djidda.

My answer ran: "In the first place, we have no money; in the second, we
are guests of the country--get your money in Djidda; thirdly, it is not
customary with Germans to surrender their arms."

Hereupon the firing began again. All the camel drivers who had so
far remained with us, and a number of the Arab gendarmes also, took
advantage of the truce to follow the example of the dragoman and his
wife, and disappear. The engagement lasted until darkness came on.
We lay very well protected behind our camel saddles and camels. We
returned the enemy's fire but sparingly, as our store of ammunition was
not large. Moreover, much of the ammunition that had gone down with
the wrecked zambuk, and had lain in the water until we fished it out
on the following morning, now missed fire. For this reason, I had all
the undamaged ammunition placed in readiness near the machine guns, so
that in a possible night attack at close range, I might feel sure of
my most effective weapons. The rest of the ammunition was distributed
among the rifles. We suffered no further losses during the day's
engagement. Several of our camels were shot, but we were none the less
protected for this, as a dead camel is quite as good a shield against
rifle balls as is a live one. We had eaten nothing during the entire
day. Nor could we think of doing so while the daylight lasted. No
sooner did one of us raise his head above our rampart of saddles, than
the enemy's fire was redoubled.

But our most strenuous work began with the coming of the night.
The moon did not rise until about an hour after sunset. During the
intervening hour the darkness was so intense that we could see hardly
forty or fifty meters ahead. Within our rampart everything was in
readiness to withstand a night attack by storm. All rifles and pistols
were loaded, the machine guns manned and ready for action, and the
men, with their weapons in hand, were kneeling just behind the rampart.
But nothing happened.

As soon as the moon had risen, and we could see as much as three
hundred meters ahead, we set to work to improve our position. First
of all, water was served to the men, and hard tack distributed. While
some of the officers and men remained on guard ready for action, others
set to work at deepening the trenches, an undertaking that proceeded
but slowly, as we had no proper tools for the work. Still others were
engaged in removing the dead camels from within our enclosure. The
intense heat caused putrefaction to set in very rapidly. The carcasses
swelled up, the tense hides burst, and the entrails exuded. As at this
season of the year the wind blows persistently from the north, we took
the dead camels to the southward of us, so that the stench might not
sicken us.

It was well into the night before we felt free to take a little rest.
The trenches were now so deep that they afforded ample shelter for
the men lying in them. We had thrown up mounds of sand on all sides,
in addition to the protection afforded us by the camels. Our rifles
and pistols had suffered considerably from the incessantly drifting
sand. They were now taken apart, a few at a time, cleaned and tested.
Then we wrapped our handkerchiefs around the locks, and stuffed small
bits of cloth into the muzzles to keep out the sand. All this care was
necessary to insure the efficiency of our weapons. That there might
always be some one on guard within our fortification, a part of the men
remained awake at their posts while the others slept with their loaded
rifles in their arms. There was always one officer awake. But nothing
of importance occurred during the night.

At nine o'clock that evening, Lieutenant Schmidt, the officer who had
been so terribly wounded, died. We dug a grave for him as deep as
possible in the middle of our camping place, and toward eleven o'clock
in the night, we four surviving officers ourselves bore our fallen
comrade to his grave. There could be no service at the burial. The
volley over his freshly made grave was fired by the enemy on the coming
morning.

I had brought with me from Hodeida an English-speaking Arab. During
the course of the night, as soon as the moon had risen, I sent this
man to Djidda, only a ten hours' march by camel distant from us, and
only eight by foot. I had found him to be a very reliable and sensible
man, and, as I learned later, he succeeded in making his way through
the enemy's lines, and took the report of our perilous situation to the
military authorities at Djidda.

Half an hour before sunrise I had all hands roused. If the enemy had
remained, there would, in all likelihood, be an attack made upon us
as soon as the day had fully come. For the sake of the moral effect,
it was my purpose to return their first fire with as heavy volleys as
possible. I wished to convince the enemy that we were fully prepared
for an attack, and that our fighting strength was undiminished.

What I had expected, happened. As the sun rose, our opponents opened a
lively fire upon us. We gave them a vigorous answer with full volleys,
and every head that showed itself received its share. This method of
procedure perceptibly dampened the fighting spirit of our opponents.
Their fire became noticeably weaker and more cautious. Our purpose was
achieved.

Just before sunrise all hands were served with a drink of water. During
the entire course of the day there was not another opportunity to give
them more. Not until after the sun had set could another drink be
given them. As we did not find it possible to cook anything even at
night, our store of hard tack was drawn upon, and every man stuffed his
pockets full.

The enemy fired upon us without intermission. But, as we were pretty
well protected, we returned their fire sparingly. That we were not
engaged in an ordinary encounter with robbers, but were facing a
thoroughly organized attack, now became doubly evident. From our
fortified camp we could plainly see two large zambuks lying at anchor
near the shore in the far distance. Between them and the Arabs who
were besieging us, a regular relief system was being carried on. A
large number of our foes must have come in these two ships. Others
had arrived by land, which was shown by the fact that far off in the
desert, near the horizon, a large number of camels could be seen
grazing. On this day, unhappily, two more of our men were severely
wounded. Of these, Lanig, a fireman, was shot through the breast and
abdomen, and died during the night. Unfortunately, we could give our
wounded but little aid, as all our medical stores were lost together
with the zambuk that foundered. All that we had left was the emergency
bandage packages that we had brought with us from the _Emden_, and a
few bottles of brandy.

The day brought forth nothing of special interest. A camel that had
escaped from our enclosure was shot by a stray bullet to leeward of
us, and the intense odor of decay that the wind brought with it was
a source of annoyance. Within our camp itself, some very unpleasant
guests had made their appearance. Hundreds and thousands of nasty
black beetles about the length of a man's thumb ran about everywhere,
carrying the camel dung all over the camp. Our trenches were alive
with these insects, and it mattered little how many we killed, for
new ones came to fill their places as fast as we killed them. Sleep
was impossible. They crawled into our clothing, and ran over our
faces. Aside from the annoyance they caused us, they brought a very
real danger to our wounded. The tetanus bacilli develop more readily
in horse and camel manure than in anything else, and the inevitable
result of this infection is the deadly lockjaw.

The burning heat of the sun made life intolerable during the day.
While firing, we could not wear our light-colored head-cloths, as they
afforded the enemy too good a target. The intense bright light dazzled
our eyes, and made our heads ache. Everything was so hot that we burned
our hands when, in firing, they occasionally touched the barrel of our
rifles. The grease-soaked camel saddles began to smoulder in the heat,
and a faint odor of smoke pervaded the whole camp. We got rid of this
annoyance, as best we could, by heaping sand upon the saddles. The
sand, carried by the never-ceasing wind, drifted over us incessantly.
All day long some of us were kept busy digging out the trenches that
had been half refilled with the drifting sand. It crept into our eyes,
our ears, our mouths, and our noses. Our eyes became inflamed from its
constant irritation. Dampened by sweat, it formed a thick coating on
our faces by which they were disfigured beyond recognition. High in the
air, just over our camp, circled from twenty to thirty great vultures.

With the approach of darkness everything within our camp was put
into a state of preparedness again. And again I sent a message to
Djidda,--this time by two Arab gendarmes disguised as Bedouins. As soon
as the moon had risen, those of us who were off duty lay down to rest.
The enemy ceased firing as it grew dark.

In the middle of the night we were suddenly wakened by shots fired by
some of our sentinels. In a twinkling everyone was at his post, ready
to repel the supposed attack. "Where are they?" I asked one of the
sentries. "Right here, at a distance of about forty meters some of them
were creeping along. There goes one now!" And off sped another bullet.
But our supposed enemies were only hyenas and jackals, which, scenting
prey, were sneaking about the camp, and making a meal of the dead
camels.

When that night was ended, the sun rose over the horizon for the third
time since the beginning of the fight. Our condition was critical.
We had heard nothing from the Turkish garrison although, provided my
messages had been received, relief might have reached us in the course
of the preceding day. We could hold out no longer than to the end of
this one day. By that time our supply of water would be exhausted,
although each man had been allowed but one small cup full each morning
and evening. Without water we were doomed. Whatever final action I
decided upon, must therefore be undertaken at once, before my men had
lost their strength. On that morning, I gave them orders to force their
way through to Djidda as soon as the sun had set, if no relief reached
us during the day. In this way I hoped that at least some of us would
get there. Whoever fell, must fall. The sick and the wounded could not
be taken with us. But it was not to come to that, thank God!

Toward noon of the third day a man waving a white cloth was seen coming
over to us from the enemy, who had ceased firing. I had him brought
within our camp, and asked him what he wanted. He replied that the
other side would withdraw the demand for our arms, ammunition, camels,
provisions, and water, if, instead, we would pay them twenty-two
thousand pounds in gold. I conjectured that our foes had learned of the
approach of the Turkish garrison, and that, in the customary way of the
country, they were trying to get out of us what they could.

I determined to draw out the interview as long as possible, in the hope
that the relief expected would arrive in the meantime, and the enemy
would then be caught between two fires. For this reason I pictured our
situation in as rosy a light as possible, and as though we could wish
for nothing better than to spend a summer vacation in the desert,
entertained by the music of whistling bullets about us. I pointed
to our empty water cans where they lay buried in the sand, and gave
the man to understand that we had water enough to last us four weeks
easily, that there was therefore no reason why I should make special
concessions, and furthermore, that we had an abundance of ammunition,
as he himself had reason to know. In fact the enemy ought to be
thankful that I had not come down upon them with my machine guns. The
medium of our conversation was a native of Morocco, a man who, at some
former time, had been made prisoner of war in Belgium, and, together
with a number of other Mohammedans, had been sent back to Turkey. From
there he had joined an expedition to Arabia, and had come to Coonfidah,
where I ran across him and took him with us. He understood a few words
of French.

The enemy's envoy did not seem especially elated by my
representations. He withdrew, only to return again in about half an
hour with a repetition of the selfsame terms. To gain time, I now told
him that I considered it highly important that I should confer with the
leader of our assailants in person, and I therefore besought him to
come to me, here in my camp. His apprehensive Highness did not come,
but sent, instead, the fierce threat that if we did not pay at once, we
should have "beaucoup de combat." I interpreted this to mean that for
him it was high time to get his train. So I expressed my surprise that
he did not regard what had occurred as "beaucoup de combat." To me it
had seemed to be such, I said.

Hereupon there blazed out from the enemy's lines a few more furiously
angry volleys, and then silence fell.

A quarter of an hour passed, and then another, and not a shot was
heard. Slowly and cautiously we raised our heads above our camel saddle
ramparts. Nothing to be seen! "Careful," I cautioned. "This is only
a ruse. Keep down! There is time enough. We can't get away from here
before evening in any case."

But when nothing at all happened, we first got up on our knees, then
on our feet, and then searched all about with our glasses. Nothing to
be seen! Whither our foes had vanished, we had not the least idea. The
sand hills of the desert, into which they had gone, concealed them from
our view. Apparently they had departed.

For the present I meant under any circumstances to remain where we
were. In the first place, I did not feel at all certain that the enemy
had really withdrawn, and that this was not merely a ruse to which
they had resorted. And secondly, we could not take up our march before
nightfall in any case.

About an hour after the firing had ceased, two men on camels appeared
in the distance. Their dress and richly caparisoned saddles proclaimed
them from afar to be no ordinary Bedouins. Waving a white cloth,
they came riding toward our camp. As a sign that we understood their
purpose, we raised our war flag. When the men had come to within fifty
meters of us, they dismounted. I sent my man from Morocco out to them,
to ask what they wanted. The answer was that they wished to speak with
the commander of the German troop. They had been sent by the Emir of
Mecca, who had been informed of the attack upon us, and was sending
troops to our relief.

This sounded very promising, but there was after all no surety that
it was really true. By this time my sojourn in Arabia had taught me
to be suspicious of everything. When I went out to meet the Arabs, it
was with drawn sword in hand, and behind me walked one of my men with
cocked rifle, ready to shoot. At the camp I left orders to stand ready
to fire, and, in case an attack upon me should be made, to shoot
without regard for my person. But again nothing happened.

The two Arabs assured me that Abdullah, the second son of the Emir of
Mecca, would soon arrive with a company of soldiers. And truly, in
about another half hour we could see in the distance about seventy men
riding toward us on camels, and carrying before them a dark red banner
emblazoned with verses from the Koran in golden lettering. They were
making a sort of music by the beating of drums, and were singing to
it. I regarded this proceeding as rather incautious, if, as I assumed,
these soldiers were about to enter into an engagement.

Coming toward me, Abdullah saluted. He brought me his father's
greetings, and expressed regret for what had occurred. He told me that
he had brought us water, and assured me that we could now march on to
Djidda in peace, as our assailants had withdrawn.

After I had distributed the water among my men, we proceeded to load
the packs on the camels. This was a wearisome undertaking, and one
that was accompanied by many difficulties, as getting camels ready to
march has as yet not been included in the training for service in the
Imperial navy. Quantities of provisions had to be left behind, as forty
of our camels had been shot.

Accompanied by the Emir's troops we left our camp. It was, no doubt, a
most unusual occurrence that a Christian should thus be riding through
the desert, side by side with the son of the Emir of Mecca, and under
the banner of the Prophet. A few minutes later we passed the abandoned
positions of our foes. The rascals had actually dug out regular
trenches for themselves.

We rode throughout the rest of the day. In the evening we camped beside
a spring. Here, for the first time in four days, we could eat a cooked
meal, wash ourselves, and lie down to rest. A circumstance of interest
was that the water was brought up from a well having a depth of
about forty meters, and yet its temperature was about thirty degrees
Centigrade.[4] As we lay in our camp, close by the shore of the sea,
we could see, in the darkness of the night, the restless play of a
search-light flashing over the surface of the water. Our friends, the
Englishmen off Djidda!



                             CHAPTER XIII

                           _TO THE RAILROAD_


We were well cared for at Djidda. The sick and wounded found shelter
and attention in a comparatively good military hospital. A difficult
point for me to settle now, was how it was best to proceed on our
way. I had learned that the Bedouins who had attacked us were in the
service of the English, a fact to which the modern English rifles with
which they were equipped, attested. The way out of Djidda by sea was
also closed to us. During the day we could distinctly see the mast
tops of the English blockaders now and again. Nevertheless, I decided
to continue our journey in zambuks. It appeared to me that the way by
water offered greater possibilities of success than to travel by land.

The first step to be taken was to spread abroad the report that we
intended to go overland. Meanwhile, very secretly, I provided myself
with a zambuk and a good pilot. On account of the wounded it was
necessary to remain in Djidda for some days. The eighth of April was
the day set for our departure. In the harbor at Djidda there was a
motor-boat in which I made a trip of inspection as far out to sea as
possible. I saw no sign of the English. Did they believe in the rumored
land journey?

On the night between the eighth and ninth of April the wind was in our
favor, and we ran out. We met much better conditions than when we ran
the English blockade upon leaving Hodeida. The wind held steady all
through the night, and when the sun rose, we were out of sight of the
blockading Englishmen. I hugged the shore with my zambuk as well as
I could, and took advantage of every reef to creep behind it, and so
increase the difficulty of our capture by any possible pursuers. Our
progress was slow but sure. We stopped for a short time, generally not
more than a few hours, at several little coast towns to inquire for
news, and to purchase fresh provisions. The pilot we had taken with
us from Djidda was thoroughly familiar with the waters through which
he was conducting us, and spoke English very well. We lay at anchor
at night, as the reefs rendered navigation impossible in the dark. At
Sherm Rabigh I had to change zambuks, as the one I had procured at
Djidda proved to be too weak. Our new zambuk had first of all to be
ballasted with sand, as, without either cargo or ballast, the ship
could not carry sail.

Our anchoring, in the evening, was always a peculiar manoeuvre. In
the proper sense of the word anchoring, it was not such at all. The
coral reefs between which we were sailing fell off abruptly all round
into a great depth of water. The anchoring proceeded in this way: We
ran to within a few meters of the coral reefs, where we took down all
sails. Two Arabs, standing ready at the bow, then jumped overboard,
each one carrying with him a light rope to which iron hooks were
attached. These iron hooks were bored into the cavities of the coral
formation just below the surface of the water. And so we lay for the
night. This was not always pleasant however, for when the wind shifted,
there was danger that it would blow us onto the coral formation to
which we had made fast.

On our way to the north we passed several boats sailing in the opposite
direction. It is the custom in Arabia for boatmen, in passing, to
greet each other with a sort of howl. The Arabs in the boats we met
were always amazed to hear, as they sailed by us, the howling of their
countrymen in our zambuk energetically supplemented by fifty vigorous
voices.

We found practically no coast population along the entire way, but
occasionally we met, far out at sea, a little dugout carrying an Arab
or two engaged in fishing. We always hailed these fishermen, and
traded rice for fish with them.

Our way northward took us past Mecca. It is the custom with Arabs, when
at their prayers five times a day, to face toward their Holy City,
and to touch their foreheads to the ground in that direction. So it
came about that during the first days of our sailing, the Arabs in our
zambuk would stand facing toward the bows, then, later, to starboard,
and finally they faced aft.

Without meeting with any special difficulties we reached Sherm
Munnaiburra on the twenty-eighth day of April. This is a little
sheltered bay about ten nautical miles south of our intended point of
destination, El Wegh. From this bay onward our course lay without the
shelter of the reefs, and deep water ran close to the shore. We had now
been fighting our way onward for nearly six months, and there prevailed
among us a general disinclination to trust ourselves to a sail-boat
over this last short stretch that might prove dangerous to us on our
journey. For this reason we cast anchor at Sherm Munnaiburra, to go
overland to El Wegh.

Our coming had been made known to the local authorities by messengers
despatched overland, who had arrived before us. A few gendarmes had
therefore been sent to the coast to meet us. We got hold of one of them
while we were still in the harbor, and sent him out to find camels for
us. Before the night had passed, we could see from where we lay, a
number of little watch fires burning here and there along the shore, an
indication that the animals for our caravan were assembling.

When we rode off on the following day, we took with us nothing more
than our arms, and provisions sufficient for one day only. Everything
else was left on the zambuk, to take its chances by sea. Fortunately,
the zambuk reached its destination without sighting a single hostile
ship. On the evening of the twenty-ninth day of April we were in El
Wegh.

The first thing we did here was to get a good bath, and a good sleep.
Here, too, we at last had an opportunity to change our underclothing
and have it washed, for it required two days to get the necessary
camels together at El Wegh.

On the second of May, at eight o'clock in the morning, we began our
march. Here in the north, the camels traveled differently than in the
south, where, as has been described, they were all tied together so as
to form one long line. This is not the custom in the north, where every
animal goes along by itself, and must be guided by its own rider. At
first this proved a difficult task for my men, but before long they had
their camels so well in hand that the caravan could be kept together
quite well. We were conducted on our way by Suleiman, Sheikh of El Wegh.

At first our road lay through the desert with which we were all too
familiar. But very soon we came to a mountain region, and passed some
charming scenery. The water conditions also were far better than those
we had found in the desert. The wells were better kept, and furnished
water that was at least drinkable, although not absolutely clean. That
we should see running water when we reached the mountain ridge was
announced to us by our Arab escort, days before we got there, as a
matter of special interest and wonder. If any of us were anticipating
the pleasure of bathing in a mountain torrent, our hopes were certainly
doomed to disappointment. To be sure, the water in the tiny rivulet
that we saw did move, but any one of us could easily have stopped its
flow for some time, by stepping into it with both feet.

Up here in the mountains, where it was cooler, we marched by day, and
rested at night. Because of our bitter experience in the desert, we
made it our habit to intrench ourselves every evening before going to
sleep, much to the astonishment of our Arab escort. But we had finally
reached the point where we doubted that anybody was to be trusted.
Our fortifications were usually very quickly thrown up, as we had
brought with us spades enough for all. And so, each evening saw a small
fortified camp arise in the wilderness, and from out its ramparts our
four machine guns protruded threateningly. Within our fortifications
no watch fire was allowed, but the immediate region all round our camp
was well lighted by fires kept burning by our sentinels. We slept, as
usual, with loaded rifles in our arms. Comfort was not a prominent
feature in this sort of camp. The nights were very cold. The well men
among us frequently gave their blankets to the sick, that they might be
kept warm. But those of us who had none did not mind it, but followed
the old rule which runs: "Lie down on your back and cover yourself with
your belly."

The domain of our conductor, Suleiman Pasha, did not extend quite
to El Ula, from whence we expected to go by the Hejaz Railroad. Just
before reaching El Ula we had to cross territory that was controlled by
another sheikh, one who was at enmity with our friend, and who was illy
disposed toward us because we had not hired camels of him for the last
four hours of our march, while passing through his territory.

Under these circumstances it was quite possible that we still might
have to break our way through by force of arms. Suleiman Pasha also
seemed to regard something of this kind as probable. On each day, and
from every direction in the mountains, small bands of his adherents
joined him, until our caravan had gradually attained a total strength
of some four hundred men. It was a most picturesque scene we looked
upon as these Bedouins marched along, carrying long Arab flint-locks,
clad in their loosely flowing brown garments, and with fluttering
bright head-cloths. If, on the preceding days, we had been the only
ones to be cautious enough to intrench, it was now Suleiman Pasha
himself who adopted this measure, an evidence to us that it might yet
be made pretty hot for us. That night we made special efforts to be
well prepared. But it passed without disturbance of any kind.

We were now only one day's journey distant from a railroad station.
Our way lay over a high mountain region. We wound along through
narrow passes that seemed just fitted for an attack. Through these
defiles but one camel could pass at a time, with the result, that
the caravan stretched away in so long a line that it could hardly be
kept together under the command of one leader. To guard against any
possible surprise, Suleiman had organized a regular reconnoitering
service, which, in its wonderful efficiency, was worthy of admiration.
Perhaps it was also an evidence that he had frequent need of it.
Little patrols, mounted on camels, rushed at a full gallop into every
mountain valley, emerged on the other side of the mountain, made their
observations, reported, and returned to their places in the caravan.

When we were but a few hours' march distant from El Ula, letters were
brought to us. They had been sent to inform us that the angry sheikh
who, we had supposed, would attack us, was at the time embroiled in a
fight farther to the north, and that we could therefore continue on our
way without fear of being molested.

Upon receipt of this information I decided to ride ahead of the
caravan, so as to get to the telegraph station at El Ula as soon as
possible, order a special train, and make arrangements for the comfort
of my men. I was accompanied by Suleiman Pasha, his two sons, and
several other dignitaries. We rode at a sharp trot, and covered the
last stretch of the journey in a few hours. We had all come to be on
very friendly terms with our Sheikh and his two sons, although our
means of conversation were very limited. All three of them showed the
greatest interest when, on arriving at the summit of the mountain
range, from whence the white houses of El Ula could be seen gleaming
out from among the palm trees, I took out my binoculars to get sight
at last of a telegraph wire and a railroad. Glasses of this kind are
as yet unknown in this region. Each of my Arab friends wanted to get
at least one look through them, and so the glasses passed from hand to
hand. With every change of hands, the glasses were given an extra turn.
How much the last one could see, I can not say.

In order to impress our Arab escort at the very outset with the
efficiency of our weapons, I had, some days previously, given Suleiman
Pasha, to his great astonishment, an illustration of what our machine
guns were capable of in the way of firing. He was eager to be allowed
himself to press the button, and manifested a surprised delight when
the gun, which we had got ready for him beforehand, fired an unbroken
succession of shots, and brought down pieces of stone from the cliffs
at which it was aimed. As all weapons are subjects of great interest to
Arabs, I presented Suleiman Pasha and each of his sons with a revolver
and the necessary ammunition for it. In addition, I promised to send
them a binocular from Germany.

As we were riding across a wide plateau which stretched beyond the
limits of our vision, I utilized this opportunity to impress upon the
Pasha an idea of Germany's greatness. To his amazement he was told that
German warships, when engaged in battle, could fire upon the enemy
from a distance considerably greater than the breadth of the plain we
were then traversing. Although this was a slight exaggeration, for the
table-land stretched from horizon to horizon, it produced the desired
effect. The size of the guns from which these shots were fired, I
pictured to him by saying that a sheep could easily run through the
barrel of any one of them.

Toward noon we arrived at El Ula, and, much to my surprise, everything
was in readiness for us. A special train stood waiting for us, its
engine all ready for the order to light the fires. This order was not
long delayed.

Two German gentlemen and a number of Turkish officers had come to meet
us; letters and news from the colonies in Syria were awaiting us. We
were treated to chilled Rhine wine, champagne, peaches, and other
delicacies of which we had long been deprived. Being given the choice
between a glass of wine and a bath, I chose the former. Why depart so
suddenly from a familiar habit to which one had faithfully adhered for
weeks past?

[Illustration: Map showing the entire trip from Keeling Islands to
Constantinople]

A few hours later my men arrived. I rode out a short distance to
meet them. With flag flying, and cameras pointed at us from every
side, we marched together into the little town where a railroad and a
waiting room gave us the first indication that we were returning
to civilization. An abundant meal, a greater abundance to drink, and
a quick bath (after all!) occupied the next few hours. Then the train
moved northward at the wonderful speed of thirty kilometers an hour,
and we could yield our weary limbs to the comfort of red-cushioned
seats, a luxury long denied us.



                              CHAPTER XIV

                           _HOMEWARD BOUND_


Henceforth our journey was free from danger of any kind. We traveled by
rail over Damascus and Aleppo through Asia Minor to Constantinople. At
two points on our journey we had to leave the railroad and travel by
wagon, or afoot, as the railroad had not been completed at these places.

Everywhere we were entertained most cordially and hospitably by our
German countrymen and by the Turkish authorities. At the railway
stations large crowds were always assembled to greet us. There were
bands playing and flags flying to welcome us, and roses with which
to decorate ourselves. Gifts were showered upon us as we sat in our
carriages. New clothing was provided for us, and we shed no tears when
we parted from our old rags and their numerous inhabitants.

My men enjoyed the unprecedented distinction of dining with great
dignitaries and men high in authority. Costly presents were bestowed
upon us, and our baggage car, that at one time had held nothing but
rags and our munitions, now filled up more and more. At some of the way
stations at which our train stopped only on our account, large numbers
of Bedouins had gathered to see us. They raced along beside our train,
and when it stopped, they gave us an exhibition of fancy riding. Many a
social glass was drained in the company of our German compatriots.

At last, in Aleppo, we received news from home, the first in ten
months. Letters from loved ones and the Iron Cross! What more could the
heart desire? There were two large mail bags full, and we devoted the
next few days to our mail from home, to reading the many letters and
verses that had been sent us, to writing autographs, and to making
away with the cigars, chocolates, and other good things that had been
given us.

During the afternoon of Whitsunday our train pulled into the station at
Haider Pasha, the Asiatic terminus of the railway. Here my men received
their long-wished-for German uniforms, which had been forwarded to
them. The officers also had succeeded in procuring for themselves an
outfit conforming, in a measure at least, to the demands made by the
European civilization to which we were returning.

The chief of our Mediterranean Division, who was also chief of the
Turkish fleet, Admiral Souchon, had honored us by coming with his staff
to meet us at Haider Pasha. My men quickly fell in line. Our flag,
which we had followed for ten months, was flying at our right wing.
A few brief commands, the execution of which proved that the brigand
existence we had led for months had not destroyed our military trim,
and my sword was lowered before my superior officer:

"I report the landing squad from the _Emden_, five officers, seven
petty officers, and thirty men strong."



                              FOOTNOTES:


[1] Group of coral islands. [A coral island consisting of a ring-shaped
reef enclosing a lagoon, OED.]

[2] "Ayesha is not an English but an Arabic name, and is pronounced
Â-ee-sha. Âyesha is the name of the favorite wife of the Prophet
Mohammet.

[3] Oriental water pipes. [Oriental tobacco-pipe in which the smoke
passes through water before reaching the mouth, OED.]

[4] A depth of about 131 feet, and a temperature of 86 degrees
Fahrenheit. Translator.



                          Transcriber's Notes


Hyphenation has been standardised.

'his Majesty' has been changed to 'His Majesty' throughout.

A number of minor spelling errors have been corrected without note.

The names of ships have been italicised (except title pages); they are
delineated by quotation marks in original print. These marks have been
removed.

Additional text enclosed within [ ] has been added to two of the above
footnotes in order to forestall any confusion.

The oe ligatures have been replaced with "oe".





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