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Title: The Dreadnought Boys in Home Waters
Author: Goldfrap, John Henry
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Dreadnought Boys in Home Waters" ***

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



of the Digital Library@Villanova University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))



[Illustration: "Great Heavens! He's risking the loss of his
commission," exclaimed Ned. _Page 117_]



  THE
  DREADNOUGHT BOYS
  IN HOME WATERS


  BY

  CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON

  AUTHOR OF "THE BOY AVIATORS' SERIES," "THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS
  ON BATTLE PRACTICE," "THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A
  DESTROYER," "THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON A SUBMARINE,"
  "THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON AERO
  SERVICE," "THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS'
  WORLD CRUISE," ETC., ETC.


  _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY
  CHARLES L. WRENN_


  NEW YORK

  HURST & COMPANY

  PUBLISHERS



  Copyright, 1914,

  BY

  HURST & COMPANY



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                      PAGE

  I.       ON SPECIAL DUTY                        5

  II.      RED VS. BLUE                          14

  III.     "ARE WE AWAKE?"                       24

  IV.      HERC "MIXES IN"                       31

  V.       OFF TO THEIR FIRST COMMAND            39

  VI.      WELCOME TO THE "SENECA"               48

  VII.     MIDSHIPMAN KENWORTH                   58

  VIII.    AGROUND!                              67

  IX.      "YOUR DUTY IS TO OBEY!"               76

  X.       "THE EYES OF THE RED FLEET"           84

  XI.      THE EAVESDROPPER                      91

  XII.     SAKI--STEWARD                         97

  XIII.    ANOTHER WATCHER                      104

  XIV.     NED AT A DISADVANTAGE                113

  XV.      A PRISONER ON "THE NECK"             121

  XVI.     THE FRIENDLY SUN                     128

  XVII.    SURPRISES                            136

  XVIII.   OFF FOR A CRUISE                     144

  XIX.     THE STORM                            151

  XX.      CONFESSION                           158

  XXI.     ORDERS ARE ORDERS                    165

  XXII.    ON THE "TWIN SISTERS"                173

  XXIII.   THE TRAIL                            185

  XXIV.    THE JAPANESE STORE                   192

  XXV.     A BOX OF MATCHES                     200

  XXVI.    MYSTERIES                            207

  XXVII.   THROUGH THE CRACK IN THE WALL        214

  XXVIII.  HERC'S SUBTERFUGE                    222

  XXIX.    TABLES TURNED--TWICE!                228

  XXX.     IN FRESH TERROR                      237

  XXXI.    NED'S ESCAPE                         246

  XXXII.   IN THE ENEMY'S CAMP                  254

  XXXIII.  WAITING FOR THE END                  261

  XXXIV.   A NEW ASSIGNMENT                     272

  XXXV.    THE OUTCOME                          282



The Dreadnought Boys in Home Waters.



CHAPTER I.

ON SPECIAL DUTY.


There was a sudden stir in the forward section of the stuffy, crowded
railway coach.

The interruption to the stolid apathy that had crept over the
passengers, for the dust and heat had made them drowsy, came in the
form of voices raised in anger and indignant protest.

The racket proceeded from a cross-seat occupied by two young fellows.
One of them was a youth of about eighteen with hair of a violent ruddy
hue. His seat-mate was, perhaps, a trifle older, heavy set, rather
sallow, with close-cropped black hair. Both were sunburned and bore,
somehow, the unmistakable look of those who follow the sea.

"See here, you, what have you got your hand in my pocket for, hey?"

Thus the red-haired lad, before whom reposed a leather suit-case
bearing the name,--neatly stenciled on one end,--"H. Taylor, U.S.N."

"I've lost my wallet," came the rejoinder in angry, high-pitched tones.
"It had most of my pay in it, too."

"Well, what's the matter with looking in your own pocket?" sputtered
Herc Taylor indignantly.

"I did, but I can't find it."

"So you assume that I'm the thief, do you?"

This was certainly a conversation to attract attention. Both speakers
appeared to be in highly belligerent moods. Several of the passengers
seated in the vicinity of the excitement began to rise in their seats
and crane their necks, the better to behold the "scrap" that appeared
imminent.

But those nearest to the pair saw that Herc Taylor's large, freckled
fist had closed on the wrist of the other's investigating hand, so
that, for the present at any rate, the latter was not able to attempt
retaliation except verbally.

Herc was neatly but quietly dressed in a gray-mixture suit. His
seat-mate, the one who had made the ugly accusation, wore clothes that
appeared to have been rather neglected recently. They were crumpled and
stained and the whole air of the fellow, despite his healthy-looking
tan, was slouchy and shiftless.

Herc glared straight into the other's eyes for possibly the space of a
minute or so. Before his direct glance the slouchy-looking youth's eyes
fell.

"Aw, leggo my hand, will yer?" he muttered.

"Sure, it's no pleasure to me to hold it," rejoined Herc, relaxing his
grip. Where he had held the other, a white bracelet of skin appeared,
showing that Herc possessed a mighty set of muscles.

"I'd advise you to keep your hand where it belongs in the future,"
added Herc.

A third young fellow, who had been seated behind the quarreling pair,
leaned forward. He had been reading a naval-service periodical. But now
his attention was distracted, and he tapped the red-headed youth on the
shoulder.

"What appears to be the trouble, Herc?"

"Oh, it's all right, Ned," rejoined the younger of the Dreadnought
Boys, turning to his cousin, Ned Strong. "This fellow just suffered
from a severe case of wandering hand, that's all."

A smile came over Ned Strong's clean-cut, bronzed features. His blue
eyes twinkled as he directed a glance to the floor of the section in
front of him.

"What's that lying on the floor right there by your feet, my friend?"
he asked of Herc's seat-mate.

"Gosh! if it isn't my wallet!" exclaimed the stranger.

He stooped and picked it up, looking rather sheepish and foolish as he
encountered Ned's smile.

"You see, it isn't a good plan to go up in the air before you make
quite sure you won't have to come down again with a hard bump," said
the Dreadnought Boy quietly, but with a good-natured intonation.

"Aw, stow that," growled the other. "I didn't do no harm."

"No, but if I hadn't been a young person of marked coolness and
restraint, I might have done _you_ some," grinned Herc.

Here the incident appeared to be terminated for the time being. Soon
after, the disgruntled neighbor of Herc Taylor arose and sought a
seat in another part of the car. The smiling looks of the passengers
in the vicinity of the little ruction had proved too much for his
sensibilities.

As he rose from his seat, he carried with him his suit-case. After he
was beyond ear-shot, Ned turned to Herc.

"That fellow may be one of our shipmates," he said in low tones.

"How do you make that out?"

"I saw the name 'Dilworth Rankin' and the letters 'U.S.N.' after it,"
was Ned's rejoinder.

"Can't say that I'm much impressed with what I've seen of young Mr.
Rankin," retorted Herc, carelessly. "At any rate we are under special
commissions now, so that if he gets gay or anything like that, I'll
have him put in the brig in short order. I always said, after I had
that little session of mine in the brig, that if I ever got a chance
I'd see how it felt to slap somebody else in there; and if he gets
fresh it might just as well be Rankin as anyone else."

"You'll do no such thing," retorted Ned seriously. "Just because we're
holding little temporary commissions as junior officers, you can't show
off your authority like that."

"Huh! what's the use of being officers, then?"

"To teach us something. To get some new ideas and experiences into that
red head of yours."

"See here, now that I'm an officer, I'll thank you to refer to my
locks as auburn," muttered Herc. "I'll feel like using my new sword on
anybody who calls attention to the color of my sky-piece hereafter."

"All right," laughed Ned, "I'll call it any color you like. But, hullo!
there's blue water. We must be getting near to Miller's Haven. I wonder
if the _Seneca_ has arrived yet?"

"Hope so," rejoined Herc. "I want to be boss just as quickly and just
as long as possible. I wish some of the old boys on the _Manhattan_
could see us when we start out to sea. Have you opened your orders yet?"

"Not yet. As you know, they are sealed and not to be opened till we
have coaled and proceeded to sea. The first thing we must do when we
reach Miller's Haven is to report to Ensign Summerville, at present in
command of the _Seneca_, and hand him his orders."

"His walking papers," interpolated Herc. "I wonder if we'll get orders
to join the Red fleet right off?"

"That's impossible to say," replied Ned. "As I understand it, we are
to do duty as a scout cruiser, depending largely on our wireless for
keeping in touch with the Red fleet and informing them of every move of
the Blues."

"Then we may not be with the fleet at all?"

"Not necessarily. But I guess our work as scouts will keep us so busy
that we won't notice the lack of company."

"I'd rather be back with the fleet," muttered Herc.

"I wouldn't," rejoined Ned, his eyes flashing and his cheeks flushing
under the tan. "Why, Herc, boy, we've got the biggest chance of our
lives! To my mind this detail to which we have been assigned will
prove the most interesting work we have ever tackled."

"Miller's Haven!"

The voices of the trainmen rang raucously through the car. The boys
arose and made their way to the forward door. As Ned had surmised,
they were indeed on the threshold of some of the most interesting
experiences they had ever encountered.



CHAPTER II.

RED VS. BLUE.


Within the last week the Dreadnought Boys had taken their first big
step upward. They entered Miller's Haven with their commissions on new,
crackly parchment, tucked over a pair of as proud and happy hearts as
there were in the navy.

Great had been their surprise, when, some four days before we
encountered them on the train for Miller's Haven, their commander,
Captain Dunham, of the Dreadnought _Manhattan_, had sent for them. Both
lads, as readers of other volumes of this series know, had already
gained high non-commissioned ratings.

Captain Dunham's unexpected summons had come on the eve of the
long-looked-for "siege" of New York harbor. The Red fleet to which the
_Manhattan_ had been commissioned as flagship, was to have the task
of attacking the harbor at the gates of Long Island Sound. The Blue
squadron was to have the defense of the port. Final arrangements for
the biggest naval war game of its kind ever attempted had been made,
with an attention to detail and probable actual conditions of a sea
attack on the harbor which was little short of marvelous.

With wireless, big guns, Argand signals, torpedoes and submarines every
effort was to be made to duplicate as perfectly as possible conditions
of a real attack. The newspapers had been carrying columns of copy
concerning the big war game, and public interest was wrought to its
highest pitch.

But it was in the navy itself that enthusiasm ran the highest.
Strategists from all over the world were to be present, and elaborate
precautions had been taken to insure Uncle Sam's carefully guarded
naval secrets from leaking out. In this connection, what practically
amounted to a Secret Service had been established, both on board the
great sea-fighters of the two squadrons and also at the twin forts,
Totten and Schuyler, which guard the Sound entrance to the East River
and the port of New York.

Such, as has been said, was the interesting eve of "hostilities" which
prevailed, when to Ned and Herc came the orders to report aft in the
commander's quarters at once.

The _Manhattan_ lay in the Brooklyn navy yard being groomed, like a
thoroughbred on the eve of a great race, for the important part she was
to play as the flagship of the Red fleet. Jackies, every one of them
with an alert and keen pride in his work, were dismantling and fitting
the big craft till everything about her grim, slate-colored hull was
attuned to the condition in which she would be placed were she actually
answering a summons to defend the Empire City from the invasion of a
foreign foe.

Captain Dunham sat in his cabin in the midst of a great pile of
documents of all kinds. The pictures and other objects usually to be
found adorning the commander's comfortable quarters were missing.
The cabin had been stripped and everything breakable packed away,
just as would have been the case had the _Manhattan_ been going to
steam out and engage an actual foe. This had been done so that the
earthquake-like shock and tremble of the mighty broadsides,--the grim
fangs of this sea bulldog,--might not work havoc with breakable things.

The two young non-commissioned officers were passed by the orderly
and then stood smartly at attention, trim heels together, bright eyes
looking straight in front of them till the commander looked up from
some departmental papers he was perusing.

During this interval they had time to notice that a tall, slender,
alertly-built man, with threads of gray in his dark hair, was seated
near the commander. He eyed the boys interestedly with the critical
air of a man who is in the habit of making swift appraisal of those
with whom he comes in contact.

His keen gray eyes swept the two well-built, clean-cut and
reliable-looking young sailors with a look that appeared to spell
approval. As a matter of fact, the assistant secretary of the navy,
for such was the office of Commander Dunham's companion, was deeply
interested in his inspection of the two lads of whom he had heard much.

It will be recalled that not long after they entered the service of
Uncle Sam and deeded their lives to the flag, Ned and Herc had had an
opportunity to distinguish themselves.

How they foiled a desperate plot against the navy, then assembled in
Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, at the naval base established there, and also
their conspicuous bravery in the panic that followed a disastrous
"flare-back" in a thirteen-inch turret, were told, with many other of
their adventures, in the first volume of this series, "The Dreadnought
Boys on Battle Practice."

In the next book, devoted to describing the lives of the spruce young
jack-tars of to-day on board the big, drab sea-fighters, we followed
the lads through a long siege of mystery and intrigue, intermingled
with plenty of stern fighting. This book was called "The Dreadnought
Boys Aboard a Destroyer."

Grim as the name of "destroyer" that she bore was the _Beale_; and when
she was despatched to South America with the duty of straightening
out a peculiar international tangle confronting her commander, the
boys were detailed to duty on board her. In the midst of a revolution,
involving the lives and property of American citizens, they played
their parts right well, and by a display of clever strategy turned a
defeat, which had seemed imminent to the interests amicable to the
Americans, into a brilliant victory. Readers of that volume will not
soon forget the defense of the hill, with the battery of machine guns
breathing flame and destruction from their iron throats.

"The Dreadnought Boys on a Submarine" showed an intimate picture of
naval life on a diving torpedo boat. In realistic detail all that
befell the lads on the surface and in the depths of old ocean was
related, and their many adventures were faithfully set forth. As in
previous chapters of their lives, the boys were not found wanting when
perils and dangers called for quick, decisive action and cool, alert
minds. In the submarine service they added new laurels to their already
growing fame, and moved up more steps on the long ladder of promotion.

When the navy department began its experiments with aeroplanes as
important auxiliaries to modern battleships, Ned and Herc were among
the first in the fleet to volunteer, although such service involved
the signing of a grim paper which absolved the government of all
responsibility for the naval aviator's life. As might be expected, the
lads found things by no means tame in the aero squad. Ned's great feat
of landing on a battleship,--a common enough maneuver now,--was long
talked of in the fleet after the boy had successfully made the first
attempt in the history of the world to accomplish such a thing.

Naturally, too, the boys who had worked so ambitiously for name and
fame had made enemies among small-minded and envious men. These foes
made things exciting for the lads for a time; but in the end both Ned
and Herc righted themselves and were vindicated from a severe charge
which had resulted from the machinations of those who disliked them.
This book, which was called "The Dreadnought Boys on Aero Service,"
teemed with incident and shifting scenes. Much attention was paid to
the manipulation and flying of modern aeroplanes, and the book was
instructive as well as interesting.

The famous "Round the World Cruise of the American Navy," a voyage that
will go down in history as one of the most effective demonstrations
of sea power ever made, formed the theme of the succeeding volume,
which was "The Dreadnought Boys' World Cruise." As petty officers of
the first rank, Ned and Herc found many opportunities to distinguish
themselves. Jack ashore is sometimes a difficult proposition to handle,
and Ned, as a non-commissioned officer, had much responsibility to
shoulder. In carrying out his duties he incurred the enmity of some of
those he had been obliged to discipline, and a thrilling adventure in
the pyramids of Egypt was the result.

Then, too, Ned and Herc met with many other experiences in the various
countries the fleet visited, including a laughable predicament on the
Rock of Gibraltar, when, through the stupidity of an over-officious
British army sergeant, they were compelled to spend some hours in a
dungeon excavated in the rock. Herc solved the problem of escape and
unlocked the dungeon doors by means of wig-wagged signals to the fleet,
lying at anchor below the rock.

And now you are better acquainted with Ned Strong and Herc Taylor,
and can understand, by perusal of the preceding long but necessary
digression, just why it was that they were admired and loved by their
shipmates and respected by their officers; and why, too, Captain Dunham
should have singled them out for the duty to which he was about to
assign them.



CHAPTER III.

"ARE WE AWAKE?"


The commander of the _Manhattan_, an imposing, bronzed figure of a man,
and a thorough sailor, swung around in his chair and faced the two
young Jackies he had summoned.

"These are the lads I was speaking to you about, Mr. Secretary," he
said, addressing his companion.

The lads drew themselves up and saluted, not without a quickened action
of their hearts. They guessed at once from the manner in which he had
been addressed, that the stranger was one of the "big-wigs" of the
naval department. Herc turned as red as his thatch, and the freckles
stood out on his round and jolly countenance like the famous spots on
the sun.

Ned retained his self-possession better, but in reality he was quite
as excited as was his shipmate and chum. Eagerly he waited for words
which might offer a key to the meaning of this unusual summons.

They were not long in coming. The Secretary nodded his head and looked
approvingly at the boys.

"They quite measure up, sir, to all that I have heard of them," he
said. "And now," with a kindly smile at the two embarrassed lads, "I
don't think we need keep them in suspense any longer."

"I quite agree with you," rejoined the captain. "Lads, I have sent for
you to confer upon you, at the request of the Secretary of the Navy, a
most unusual honor. I know you will appreciate it as it merits."

The boys did not utter, in words, a reply. It would not have been
proper for them to have made any comments or to have spoken, except in
answer to direct orders or to questions. The commander continued:

"Your careers in the navy have been marked by more than ordinary
devotion to duty and by frequent exhibitions of ability that have made
you both appear to be worthy of still higher promotion than you have
yet achieved. I think that you both possess executive ability, and the
Secretary and myself have decided to assign you to roles in the coming
war game that will give you ample opportunity to show of what sort of
stuff you are made."

The boys, with burning faces, drew themselves up and saluted. But
within their breasts was a wild tumult despite their calm exteriors.
What could be coming?

"And now for what you are to do. You are to proceed to Miller's Haven
on the Connecticut shore and there join the gunboat _Seneca_. You will
convoy two submarines for use in scout work against the Blue fleet,
which, of course, you know, is opposed to us and is defending the
harbor of New York. You understand?"

"Y-y-yes, sir," rejoined Ned; while Herc, so taken by surprise that he
was deprived of articulate speech, merely mumbled something.

"To whom are we to report, sir?" ventured Ned.

Commander Dunham smiled and exchanged glances with the departmental
visitor.

"You will report to yourselves. That is, you will be in command of the
_Seneca_."

Even Ned's sense of discipline deserted him at this announcement.

"In--in command? I--I'm afraid, sir, I----"

"I said in command. Practically every commissioned officer in the
service will be on other and more important duties. We have, therefore,
secured for you temporary commissions, enduring, of course, only
during your period of attachment to the _Seneca_. She is a small boat
of not very modern design, but I shall expect to see you perform some
important work with her. She is equipped with wireless, of course, and
the fact that both of you understand wireless and the naval code has
been another inducement to give you this big chance. You will each get
a copy of the special code to be used in the war game when you join the
ship."

"Then we--we are officers?" stuttered Herc, unable to keep silent any
longer. As for Ned, outwardly cool and collected, his glowing eyes
showed what he thought.

"Officers temporarily," was the reply. "Here are your commissions."

From his desk Commander Dunham took the two documents which to the
Dreadnought Boys appeared the most wonderful things they had ever set
eyes on.

Handing one to Ned, the commander then spoke some words that sent the
boy soaring up into the seventh heaven of delight.

"This confers on you, Strong, the rank, pay and authority of a
lieutenant, junior grade, in the United States Navy. Taylor, your
commission confers upon you the special rank of ensign.

"That is all. Your uniforms will be secured from the yard tailor. Your
instructions are in this sealed package. You are not to open them till
you have cleared. From time to time you will get other instructions
by wireless, couched in the terms of the secret code adopted by the
Red fleet. Your duty, in a nutshell, will be to be the eyes of the Red
squadron. Carry on!"

With this crisp expression of dismissal, the commander turned to his
table again. The lads saluted, and marched out of the cabin.

They appeared to be traversing fleecy clouds of wonderful brightness as
they made their way forward.

"Hello, Red-head," hailed a gunner's mate as Herc strutted with all the
pride of a peacock to the forward part of the ship, "what's biting you?"

"Don't talk to me like that, Jenks," returned Herc with some hauteur.
"I'm an officer."

"A what?" roared Jenks. "Say, turn over. You're on your back. You
haven't been working hard enough lately, Brick-top, and you're talking
in your sleep."

"Wonderful as it all seems, though, Jenks, it's true," said Ned, with
dancing eyes. "But I can't realize yet that I'm not asleep and dreaming
the greatest dream a fellow could ever have."

Jenks stared for a minute and then clasped Ned's hand.

"I'm mighty glad, shipmate," said he. "You had it coming to you."

"But it isn't going to last," said Herc plaintively. "It will only hold
out as long as the war game, and then we'll be back in the ranks--that
is, if we don't fall out of bed first."

Ned said nothing, but he gazed with absent eyes over the busy
scene,--the swarming river and the great yard with its life and
movement and busy note of preparation. He was indulging in the most
delicious reverie he had ever experienced.



CHAPTER IV.

HERC "MIXES IN."


Miller's Haven was a small place on the Sound shore, several miles up.
It boasted a bay full of shoals and tricky channels and a group of
islands lying in a cluster near the mouth of this bay.

Ned knew from his previous instructions that the _Seneca_ would be
lying in the shelter of one of these islands, as securely moored to
avoid observation from the scouts of the Blue squadron as was possible.
Miller's Haven was a sleepy spot,--little more than a fishing village,
in truth,--and nobody in the place was likely to pay much attention to
the fact that a small gunboat, looking more like a yacht than a vessel
of the navy, lay, with every appearance of secrecy, off their hamlet.

In fact, the _Seneca_ had been used in several capacities. Her latest
work, before being told off as a scout and despatch craft, was with the
Revenue Service.

In this capacity the _Seneca_ had been deemed worthy of refitting
so far as boilers and engines were concerned, so that, although she
was not large, she was swift and powerful and just the craft for the
work in which she was to be employed during the maneuvers. Her speed
had been shown in several chases after motor-boat smugglers, in most
cases she having easily overhauled even the fastest of these wasp-like
violators of Uncle Sam's customs regulations.

"We'll go to the hotel first," decided Ned as they stood on the
wind-swept platform at Miller's Haven.

Out on the Sound the blue water was flecked with white and a brisk
wind, salt-laden and delightful to the boys' sea-going nostrils, had
left the sky clear and cloudless.

"You're going to meet Ensign Summerville there?" asked Herc.

"Yes, he'll come ashore with a boat and take us out and introduce us to
our first command."

"Huh! it may be our last, too," grunted Herc. "Say, this thing of being
a real, full-fledged officer scares me just a little. Suppose we fall
down?"

"We can only attend to our duty the best we know how," rejoined Ned.
"If we can carry out the work cut out for us in good shape, it will
mean that we'll go a few more rungs up the ladder."

"Yes, if nobody pulls the ladder down," mumbled Herc pessimistically.

The two trim, trig lads, in their quiet, unassuming clothes, attracted
little or no attention on the single street that Miller's Haven
boasted. True, one or two passers-by looked rather curiously at the
yellow leather sword cases that they carried, but that was all.

The hotel soon came in sight, a dingy-looking structure sadly in need
of paint. A dejected-looking citizen with a drooping mustache, a
drooping manner, drooping gray garments and a drooping way of draping
himself in his chair, occupied the porch.

"Doesn't look like much of a place," commented Ned, "but we can get a
room here that will be good enough to change in, I dare say."

"A room!" demanded Herc. "What do you want a room for? I thought we
were going to eat."

"No, we will change into our uniforms first. It would not be the
correct thing to board our new command in ordinary clothes. I should
think you'd know that."

"Have we got to wear our swords?" inquired Herc with a rebellious look.

"Don't you know enough of navy usages yet to be aware that officers
must wear their swords under certain conditions, such as taking
command of a new craft and other ceremonial occasions?"

"Umph! Well, all I hope is I don't tumble over that cheese toaster of
mine."

"If you do anything like that, I'll disown you for a brother officer
of mine," laughed Ned. "But, seriously, Herc, I want you to be on your
best behavior and not make any bad breaks."

"Huh! Just as if you were any more used to carrying a sticker,--I mean
a sword,--than I am! I'll be all right. Don't you worry about me,
Mister Lieutenant. I bet I will be just as good an officer as there is
in the navy."

"We'll wait and see----" began Ned good-naturedly, when Herc cut him
short with an exclamation.

"Look who's here! Right behind us!"

"Well, what is it?" asked Ned, for he was half-way up the steps by
this time and the drooping eyes of the landlord, as Ned had rightly
conjectured that the dejected man was, were regarding him with languid
interest.

"It's that Rankin fellow! He's looking at us disrespectfully. I've a
good mind to tell him that we are officers!"

"You'll do no such thing. If he has been detailed to the _Seneca_,
which I think probable, he'll find out our rank for himself soon
enough."

"Just the same, I'd like to make him salute me," grumbled Herc.

Rankin ascended the steps behind the two Dreadnought Boys. He was close
on their heels, when suddenly Herc's feet flew up and out behind him.
In his new dignity he had been holding his head so high that he did
not notice a bit of banana peel lying on the untidy steps of the Eagle
Hotel.

Crash! The newly created officer performed an almost complete back
somersault with great effect. Plump! came down his not over-light form
right on top of the ascending Rankin. Together they rolled down the
steps and into the dusty road, while Ned looked on in dismay.

"You done that a-purpose! I'll fix you for it!" bellowed Rankin
furiously.

"What are you talking about, you numbskull?" retaliated Herc, as the
two rolled on the dusty street. "Don't be a fool! Let me up."

But Rankin clung tightly to Herc, for whom he had conceived an intense
dislike ever since the episode on the train.

"You try to make a fool out of me, will you?" he growled; and as they
clinched and tumbled about at the foot of the steps, Rankin aimed a
vicious blow at Herc, who returned it with right good will.

"Gracious! Here's a fine kettle of fish!" exclaimed Ned in
consternation.

He started back down the steps at top speed, determined to stop such
a scene at all costs. It was really too bad that their arrival in
Miller's Haven should be marked by such a disgraceful mix-up.

Ned glanced anxiously down the street and was glad to see that no one
was in sight. He would not, for the world, have had anyone witness the
mêlée who was in any way connected with the navy.

"Get up at once, Herc!" he cried, thoroughly angry. "Stop it instantly.
Do you hear?"

But despite Ned's admonitions, the pair on the ground continued their
struggle, the noise of their thumps and pantings rising above Ned's
voice. Flushed with vexation and indignation at Herc, Ned determined to
take decisive action.

He cleared the last two steps of the flight leading to the street in
one jump. The next instant his hands shot out.

"Stop this and stop it quick!" he ejaculated. "What sort of a way do
you consider this to behave?"



CHAPTER V.

OFF TO THEIR FIRST COMMAND.


Herc felt a strong hand on his collar. The next second he was yanked to
his feet "all standing." Flushed, dust-covered and indignant he began a
fusillade of irritated speech.

But Ned cut short the flow with a peremptory gesture.

"That's quite enough. Come inside at once."

"But I----"

"At once, I said; march!"

Herc knew it was no use to disobey, and with a backward look at Rankin,
he sulkily climbed up the steps. Rankin picked himself up out of the
dust. He appeared to be about to say something, but before he could
find words, the two Dreadnought Boys were through the door of the hotel
and inside the small office.

The drooping man, who had watched the battle without a shadow of
interest or excitement, betrayed no great change in manner as he came
forward.

"'Kin I do fer yer?" he inquired.

"We want to get a room here. Not for very long; just for sufficient
time in which to change into our uniforms," explained Ned. "We are
expecting a Mr. Summerville of the United States Navy to meet us here."

"Be you in the navy?" inquired the drooping man, allowing himself to
betray momentarily a slight, very slight accession of interest.

"We are. We can get a room, I suppose?"

"You kin, an' if you'll pardon my saying so, yer pardner sure needs a
change."

Herc colored hotly. The hotel man must have noticed this, for he went
on.

"You don't know that feller Rankin, then?"

"We do not," replied Ned shortly.

"'Cause if you did, you'd know he's always picking quarrels. He's an
'sistant 'gineer on the _Senecy_, which I reckon is the boat yer goin'
ter jine."

"Yes, I believe she is anchored off here. But will you show us to our
room right away, please? We don't wish to keep Mr. Summerville waiting."

The drooping and dejected landlord looked more dismal than ever as he
showed the boys to a small room. It did not take them long to don the
natty uniforms of junior officers in the United States Navy. While they
changed their attire, Herc was roundly lectured by Ned for taking part
in the scene in front of the hotel.

"I'm sorry it happened," declared Ned; "Rankin being a petty officer of
the _Seneca_, too, doesn't make it any the easier."

"I ought to have lambasted him with my new sword," muttered Herc
truculently.

"And made a bad matter worse."

"I don't see how it would. That fellow needs a good lesson."

"You'll never teach him one in that way. Besides, naval officers don't
behave in such a fashion. You must have dignity and self-control."

"Huh! If I'd had foot control instead of self-control, I wouldn't
have tumbled down those steps, and then nothing would have happened,"
grumbled Herc, tenderly patting a bump on the top of his head.

"You look like an officer, Ned," he went on a few moments later, as,
pausing in his own preparations, he gazed at the trim, natty figure of
Ned Strong.

Herc was right. The slender, yet strongly built lad did indeed look
every inch fitted for the quarter-deck of a naval vessel when, having
finished his other sartorial duties, he buckled on his sword and
adjusted his cap.

"Well, so do you, don't you?" laughed Ned, watching Herc as, with a
face fiery red with his exertions, his comrade buckled himself into
his tightly fitting uniform.

"Don't know," responded Herc briefly, "I feel rather more like a
tailor's dummy. How do I look?"

"All right. But cool your face off in that water. It looks as if you'd
been taking a turn in the fire room."

"Well, so long as I don't do a flop over my sword, I don't care,"
rejoined Herc, as he carefully removed the scabbard of that weapon from
between his knees where it threatened at any moment to cause disaster.

Not many minutes later they descended from the room, just in time to be
greeted by a stalwart coxswain.

"Lieutenant Strong, sir?" asked the man, coming to attention just as
Ned and Herc had done so often.

It certainly felt strange to acknowledge the salute in an official
way, not to mention being addressed as Lieutenant. Herc was, in fact,
compelled to hide a grin behind his pocket handkerchief. Luckily, Ned
did not see this, or Herc might have had another lecture.

"Yes," rejoined Ned, returning the man's salute. "You are from the
_Seneca_?"

"Aye, aye, sir. The gig is waiting to take you aboard, sir. Ensign
Summerville sent his regrets, sir, and he is too busy attending to
matters wirelessed from the flagship to come ashore himself."

"Very well, we may as well get aboard, then," said Ned.

At this moment Rankin emerged from the hotel. He had evidently
been busy removing traces of battle from his face, for his sallow
countenance shone with soap. To say that he looked surprised when he
saw Ned and Herc transformed into naval officers of rank much above his
own, would be to put it mildly. That expressive word "flabbergasted"
better describes the look on Rankin's well-soaped visage.

He was far too well trained in naval usage to put his astonishment
into words, however. Returning from a furlough, he knew nothing, of
course, of the change in the commanding officers of the _Seneca_;
but he recognized that Ned, as his uniform showed, outranked Ensign
Summerville, and from this fact deduced that he must have come to take
command of the little gunboat.

He drew himself up and saluted with naval conciseness. The boys
returned the salute with perfect gravity. To judge by the countenances
of all three, no bystander would ever have guessed how it had been with
them not so very long before.

Herc, however, noted, perhaps not without a certain malicious
satisfaction, that over Rankin's right eye was a plum-colored
discoloration which appeared to be swelling. Once, too, when on the
way to the boat he happened to glance in Rankin's direction, he
surprised a glowering look on the assistant engineer's face which was
instantly wiped off when Rankin saw that he was being observed.

"Huh, that was a quick change, like sponging something off a slate,"
thought Herc to himself. "However, Mr. Rankin, I've no idea that you
love your second in command any better than you ought to. I guess I'll
keep my weather eye on you, for at times you certainly do look most
uncommonly like a rattlesnake."

The coxswain had taken charge of the boys' suit and sword cases. Rankin
carried his own valise. It did not take them long to reach the little
wharf, alongside which lay the _Seneca's_ gig, the four men of her crew
smoking and lolling at their ease at her oarlocks.

Like a flash all inertia vanished as Ned and Herc hove in sight. The
coxswain saluted once more. The men saluted. Ned and Herc saluted.

As the two lads sank into the stern thwart seat, Herc found opportunity
to whisper to Ned, "Give me a teeny jab with that sword if you can."

"Why on earth do you want me to do that?" demanded Ned, in astonishment
at Herc's seemingly perfectly serious request.

With his hand over his mouth Herc gave a veiled rejoinder.

"Because if it doesn't hurt, I'll know I'm tucked in my little hammock
and dreaming!"

"All ready, sir," suggested the coxswain, taking his seat.

"Give way," ordered Ned calmly, and the four oars struck the water like
one.

The boys were fairly off on their way to their first command.



CHAPTER VI.

WELCOME TO THE "SENECA."


Swiftly, steadily urged on, like some great beetle moving across the
surface of a sheet of burnished glass, the gig was impelled over the
smooth expanse of the sheltered waters; for, although outside in the
Sound itself the whitecaps were prancing under the lee of the islands,
here it was almost a flat calm.

The men rowed in perfect unison, like some accurately timed piece of
mechanism. Before long they could make out, lying in under the shoulder
of a distant island, the outlines of a slate-colored craft.

"The _Seneca_?" asked Ned of the coxswain.

"Yes, sir; that's the _Seneca_."

"She looks a trim little hooker."

"Aye, aye, sir; she's all of that, sir."

Ned and Herc gazed with burning eyes and dancing pulses at the little
craft. She was certainly not very large or imposing, but to them just
then the finest Dreadnought ever launched could not have brought such
emotions.

Not more than two hundred and fifty feet long, the _Seneca_ appeared at
first glance more like the ideal of a smart yacht than a craft of war.
She had a sharp, overhanging bow and a beautifully modeled stern. Her
rigging was of the schooner type, with the spider-web outlines of her
wireless aerials slung between them.

In respect, doubtless, of her yachty lines, the _Seneca_ had been used
by a former President as a sort of official craft to convoy him to
maneuvers and reviews.

Ned felt his enthusiasm rising, too, as lying against the _Seneca's_
side, like the young of some sea monster, he made out the porpoise-like
backs of the two submarines of which she was the parent ship. The sight
of them brought back to him the stirring days when he and Herc had
aided the inventor of that type of diving boat, both in his pioneer
voyages and in his romance.

He had only time to drink in this and other details with greedy eyes,
when the gig swept around to the starboard gangway, reserved by
immemorial custom for officers' embarkation.

From the marine sentry stationed at the head of the gangway came a
sharp hail.

"Boat ahoy! What boat is that?"

"Aye! aye!" came from the coxswain.

This showed that there were commissioned officers on board. Had they
been non-commissioned passengers, the reply to the hail would have
been: "No! no!" For the captain and for other higher naval ranks there
were other rejoinders, which have been enumerated in preceding volumes.

The gig was made fast. With a springy step and glowing features, Ned
stepped out first. He was followed closely by Herc. A rattling sound
and an exclamation behind him, made Ned pause as he set foot on the
gangway platform.

For an instant there was every sign that poor Herc was going to get
into hot water for the second time that day. That unlucky sword had
become entangled in his long legs, and for a time he hovered on the
brink of disaster. But the watchful coxswain caught his arm and saved
him the humiliation of tumbling into the water, new uniform and all.

It was all over in a moment and both boys hastened up to the head of
the gangway. A corporal and four other marines besides the sentry now
stood there. There was a sharp command and the sea-soldiers presented
arms smartly.

"Goodness, I'll wear out my new cap with much more of this," thought
Herc, as he acknowledged the salute simultaneously with Ned.

Just then a smart looking young naval officer behind the marines
saluted. This, of course, called for another answer. "Lieutenant
Strong, I presume?" inquired this personage.

"Yes. And this is Ensign Taylor."

They shook hands and then the young officer, who was Ensign
Summerville, suggested that the new arrivals be shown to their quarters.

"You may as well make yourselves at home as soon as possible," he said
with a smile.

"Thanks; you are very kind," rejoined Ned, speaking for himself and
Herc, for the latter was in a sort of happy daze.

"Then if you will come this way, please."

At a word from the corporal of marines, the boys' baggage was picked up
by two of his men who preceded the party along the deck and turned into
an alleyway, from which in turn they descended a companionway into the
wardroom from which the cabins opened.

Up till the actual moment that he beheld his cabin, Ned still
entertained fears that it might all be a vision which was likely to
fade out at any moment. But the sight of the snug cabin with its
big double ports and broad berth, bookcase, desk and chairs made him
realize that it was no figment of his imagination.

Knowing men-of-war of all types as well as he did, the boy appreciated
with a throb of delight that this was no ordinary junior officer's
cabin into which he had been ushered. Its size and the elaborateness of
its fittings precluded that idea.

"Why--why, this is a magnificent stateroom," he found himself saying.

"It is the room that the commander of this vessel has always occupied,"
was the smiling rejoinder.

Lieutenant Ned Strong gave one of his winning laughs in return.

"Upon my word, Mr. Summerville," said he, "I can hardly wake up to the
fact that I am to command this fine little craft."

"Well, you certainly are, for the purposes of this war game, anyhow.
They've got a notion that I'm rather a dab at strategic navigation, so
they've passed me on to the Washington cruiser. Let me congratulate you
on the command of a fine little craft."

"Thank you, you are very good," replied Ned; "but I hate to dispossess
you."

"Pray don't mention it. You see I have often heard of you and your
shipmate, and I am as glad as anyone of your deserved promotion. I only
hope that it may be permanent."

An inspection of Herc's cabin next door followed. It was smaller and
very much plainer than Ned's and contained no desk and only two chairs.
But had it been Aladdin's palace, it could not have gratified Herc's
delighted eyes any more than it did.

"But I'm forgetting something," said the Ensign suddenly. "Let us go
back to your cabin, Mr. Strong. Your orders are on your desk. You
will also find a secret code book, to which you, only, will possess
the key with one of your junior officers, and signed copies of your
commissions."

As Ned already knew that the orders under which he sailed were sealed,
he did not glance over them just then. Instead, he let his eyes feast
on the engrossed copies of their commissions and a document which
stated that Lieutenant Edward Strong was to take charge of the gunboat
_Seneca_ till "further orders from this department," and that Ensign
Hercules Taylor was to be his second in command and assume such duties
as were assigned to him on board.

"And now, sir," suggested Ensign Summerville, "the _Seneca_ is under
steam. She is ready for your orders."

Ned thrilled at the sound of the words. This trim little craft was
absolutely at his command!

"First, however, you will no doubt wish to see your other officers.
There is Mr. Drayton, chief engineer; Mr. Rankin, his assistant, but
you have already met him----"

"We have," rejoined Ned with a certain grim note in his voice.

"We most certainly have," added Herc, in a way which made the ensign
give him a quick look of understanding. He made no audible comment, but
those who knew Ensign Summerville would have guessed from a peculiar
expression that came over his face that he recognized and sympathized
with the antipathy the boys had formed for the assistant engineer.

"Our only other commissioned officer besides yourselves is Mr.
Kenworth, not long out of Annapolis. Ah! there he is now. Kenworth,
come here a moment, will you?"

He addressed a tall, slender, very erect young man in a midshipman's
uniform who was just passing through the wardroom.

"This is Lieutenant Strong, of whom I have already told you. He assumes
my command. This is Mr. Taylor, the newly commissioned second in
command.

"Hullo, you fellows have met before?" he demanded the next instant, for
Kenworth had drawn back slightly, a supercilious smile on his thin,
dark face.

"Yes, I have met _Lieutenant_ Strong as a boatswain's mate," said
Kenworth, with a disagreeable intonation; "Mr. Taylor, too, I have seen
before the mast."

It was all true enough; both the Dreadnought Boys had good cause to
recollect Mr. Kenworth. For a moment the air in the wardroom appeared
charged with electricity.

Ensign Summerville looked from one to the other in surprise. He saw
hauteur and dislike on Kenworth's face, a look that might have meant
anything on Ned's countenance and undisguised disgust on Herc's
freckled features.



CHAPTER VII.

MIDSHIPMAN KENWORTH.


It had all happened back early in the naval careers of young Strong and
his chum Taylor. Kenworth, a sprig just out of Annapolis, had come to
the _Manhattan_ with an idea not uncommon among young gentlemen just
out of the Academy, that next to the captain he was probably the most
important person on the ship.

To strengthen him in this belief, he had influential relatives who had
promised to smooth out his path in life for him. Despite this fact,
though, Kenworth was still a midshipman. Why was this, when many of his
own class had passed him?

Possibly the incident which Ned and Herc had such good cause to
recollect will throw a sidelight on Mr. Kenworth's character that may
serve to explain this condition.

It was one night when the wind was blowing "great guns." Ned and Herc,
the former then a coxswain, were part of a crew sent to bring some
young officers off to the ship from Guantanamo harbor. As it happened,
the young officers were all middies and, by right of length of service,
Kenworth outranked them.

He was quarrelsome and inclined to be obstreperous when he came on
board. He began by abusing Ned, who had incurred Kenworth's ill-will
by his sturdy independence and the steady command of his temper, even
under the fledgling officer's insults and slurs.

The boat put off with a sea running that threatened momentarily to
swamp her. It required the whole strength of Ned's arm to keep the
craft, which was deeply loaded, headed into the seas in such a way as
to insure safety.

"Let her off a point there, you," ordered Kenworth, when they had
proceeded a short distance.

"It will hardly be safe, sir," rejoined Ned.

"Hang your impudence," cried young Kenworth; "do what I tell you, do
you hear?"

"Very well, sir," and sorely against his will Ned did let the boat's
head swing a trifle.

The instant result was what he had anticipated. The crest of a sea
broke on them, drenching Kenworth to the skin. He flew into a frenzy of
rage.

"You clumsy, incompetent nincompoop," he sputtered, "I'll have you up
at the mast for that."

"I obeyed your orders, sir," rejoined Ned simply, knowing there was
nothing to be gained by getting into an argument with an officer.

"Don't answer me, sir!" howled Kenworth. "Confound your impudence!"

"Oh, look here, Kenworth," remonstrated another midshipman. "It wasn't
his fault. He told you it wouldn't do and you insisted."

"And got jolly well wet for your pains," came from one of the men at
the oars in a low voice intended only for his mate's ears.

But Kenworth heard him, heard, too, the smothered laugh from the men,
none of whom bore him any liking, his ways having made him the most
unpopular officer on the ship.

"How dare you make such a remark to me, sir?" he demanded of Ned,
choosing in his anger to make a victim of the man he disliked most.

"I said nothing, sir," rejoined Ned.

"That's right; he didn't utter a word," came from another midshipman.

"He'll sing a different tune at the mast to-morrow, insolent waterfront
scum," gritted out Kenworth.

He said no more, but the next day the word was passed forward by the
sergeant-at-arms for Ned to appear "at the mast," the man-o'-war
tribunal where the captain deals out justice. Luckily Ned had no
difficulty in clearing himself, thanks to friendly witnesses, and
Kenworth was privately reprimanded by the captain for bringing a
trumped-up charge against an enlisted man.

From that day on, Kenworth had nourished such a hatred of Ned as only a
mean nature like his could cherish. He never, while he remained on the
_Manhattan_, lost a chance to "work him up," as it is called. On one
occasion, he went so far as to order Ned to count the sails of every
ship in the harbor of Hong Kong and report their number to him.

Ned stood at the rail with a grave face for an hour enjoying the
scenery, and then, stepping up to Kenworth, who was swelling with
importance as officer of the deck, he saluted with a quiet smile.

"Well, did you do what I told you?" blustered Kenworth.

"Yes, sir; there are just three thousand nine hundred and ninety-five,"
replied Ned with great gravity.

Kenworth looked sharply at him.

"How do you know?" he asked.

"I counted them, sir," was the reply. "You can check up my count if
you like, sir; you'll find it correct."

As Ned saluted and turned away, he heard a burst of laughter at
Kenworth's expense from some Jackies who had heard the little dialogue,
and who discreetly vanished before the arrogant middie's wrath could
descend on them. Soon after this Kenworth had left the _Manhattan_ and
Ned lost all track of him; not, indeed, that he felt any great interest
in the matter.

And now, by a strange quip of circumstance, they had come face to
face once more in the wardroom of the little gunboat. But now their
positions were reversed. Ned was in command, Herc was his second in
authority, with Kenworth, although he shaved daily and boasted a blue
chin, still a midshipman.

"I'm very glad to meet Mr. Kenworth again," he said, when he had
recovered his self-possession; "I recollect him on the _Manhattan_ very
well indeed."

Kenworth mumbled something about duty aft and hurried off. Ensign
Summerville saw that there was an embarrassing situation in the air and
hastened to suggest that they go on deck, where he would have the crew
mustered and formally turn over the command of the Seneca to Ned.

The crew was piped to quarters and the ensign handed Ned a complete
roster of the men. The shrill sounds of the bos'un's whistles filled
the air, reminding Ned and Herc of the days when a response was part of
their duty.

The inspection did not last long. It was actually more a ceremony of
introduction. When it was over, the ensign tarried to help Ned in
working out his course into the Sound.

"I would suggest that Mr. Kenworth take the ship out to deep water, as
he knows the channels hereabouts thoroughly," said the ensign, as he
bade good-by to the new commander of the _Seneca_.

"Mr. Kenworth, you will take the bridge, then," said Ned.

Kenworth saluted and hurried off to take his post. But as he did so, he
grinned to himself.

"Good luck!" he exclaimed. "I think I see a chance to take the wind out
of your sails before very long, you beggar on horseback, you forecastle
Jack on the quarter deck! If I don't fix you and your ambitions and
double spike 'em before this cruise is over, my name isn't Raymond
Kenworth."

Swords were removed and sent below as soon as Ensign Summerville was
over the side.

While waiting for the gig to return, Ned and Herc lingered over the
charts and gave a few necessary orders.

"Well, Ned," confided Herc in a lull, "this is actually real after all."

"No doubt of that, old boy. I'm crazy to get under way and look at my
orders. Who knows what they may contain and what lies before us?"

What, indeed, did the future hold for these two ambitious young
officers of Uncle Sam's? They were destined to learn ere long. Over the
horizon of that day of life lay new experiences to be met, new problems
and dangers to be faced like officers and gentlemen and true Americans.



CHAPTER VIII.

AGROUND!


The anchor was hauled up immediately on the return of the gig. The
crews of the submarines, already on board the diving craft, took their
stations. "Captain" Ned gave the word and the _Seneca_ began to move
slowly through the water.

Having superintended the work of getting under way, Ned and Herc
ascended to the bridge. They found Midshipman Kenworth there, standing
by the side of the quartermaster, who had the wheel.

Behind the wheel, which was a small, light affair controlling the steam
steering gear, was a small house in which the machinery that operated
the rudder control was situated.

Ned caught Herc by the sleeve just as the red-headed lad was stepping
impulsively forward, and drew him into the doorway of the structure.
There was a small port in the place looking out over the bridge. It was
open, and through it they could readily see.

"What's the idea of this?" demanded Herc. "I don't like this spying
business. I've no use for Kenworth, but----"

"That's all right," responded Ned. "I don't wish to spy on the young
man; I merely want to find out what sort of a pilot he is."

They skirted the little cape that formed the end of the island, in the
lee of which the _Seneca_ had been anchored. Beyond this island, the
boys, somewhat to their surprise, saw that there was still quite an
expanse of shoal water threaded by narrow channels between the outer
island and the blue of the Sound itself.

"Ticklish work through here," commented Ned in a low tone, as he
observed how the darker color of the channels that threaded the
numerous shallow places alternated with broad expanses of yellow water
that showed the presence of dangerous sand banks.

"You're dead right," responded Herc; "about as bad a place as I ever
clapped eyes on."

The rattle and roar of the steering machinery as the wheel was spun
right and left drowned the sound of their voices. Kenworth was looking
straight ahead. From time to time they could see him turn slightly and
give some order to the helmsman; but what the orders were they could
not catch.

The _Seneca_ appeared to be following the channel perfectly, however,
winding among the mazes of deeper waterways like a dancer.

"Kenworth is no slouch at this work," said Ned in a low voice as they
watched.

"Shucks!" grunted Herc, "I guess the _Seneca_ has been in and out of
here a hundred times. Anyhow, a blind man could see those channels."

Ned turned on his companion with a stern look.

"See here, Herc Taylor, we want peace and harmony on this craft; do you
understand?"

"Even if we have to scrap to get it," muttered Herc. "All right; from
now on, I'm the greatest little peace delegate ever you saw."

A minute later, while they were still watching, they saw something that
gave them a momentary shock of surprise. Rankin appeared on the bridge.
There was nothing extraordinary in his so doing, of course. He probably
had something to report to the watch officer.

But somehow Ned, with a quick flash of intuition that he could not
explain, felt that more than that lay in this sudden conjunction of
their two enemies; for that Rankin disliked them, Ned had no doubt.

He laid a hand on Herc's arm to keep him quiet, for the impulsive
red-headed youth was about, apparently, to break forth into some
emphatic exclamation at what he had just seen.

Rankin approached Kenworth with an air of familiarity that showed
there existed some friendship between them. Kenworth greeted him with
an easy nod, and then, after giving some directions to the man at the
wheel, he placed his hand on Rankin's shoulder and drew him back toward
the steering-gear house.

"Come back here while we talk," the boys heard him say, "I don't want
that quartermaster to overhear us."

For a moment it appeared that they were coming into the steering house,
but they merely stood close back against its metal wall. They had taken
up positions right under the porthole through which Ned had been making
his observations.

But they had not seen their superior officers. Ned had been too quick
for that. As the two approached the steering-gear structure, he grabbed
Herc and drew him down. Now they crouched quietly under the porthole,
through which they could catch perfectly everything that was said.

"Well, here's a fine how-de-do," they heard Rankin complain in a
grumbling tone; "a couple of snips that aren't dry behind the ears been
set over us. I thought you were to get the command when Summerville
left."

"So did I; but it seems these two interlopers succeeded in getting it
for themselves."

"Didn't you tell me that they started in the navy just as enlisted men?"

"Yes, the gutter-snipes never saw even the outside of Annapolis. I'd
like to know what the service is coming to when good men are passed
over for useless propositions like this!"

"So would I. By the way, I had a row with them on the train coming
down. They've no use for me, I fancy. I wish I could hit upon some plan
to take them down a peg or two."

"I have," was Kenworth's rejoinder, in a tone which was acid with
malignant hatred.

"Have what?"

"Formed such a plan. I've got a scheme to discredit them with the
department right from the jump."

"Shoal ahead, sir!"

The voice of the man at the wheel cut in raspingly like a file.
Kenworth sprang up. Ned also ventured to steal a look through the port.
He saw the shoal the helmsman had drawn attention to, a long daub of
yellow stretching on their port bow.

He saw in a flash that there was only one way to save the ship from
going aground.

"Stay here," he ordered Herc, and then bounded out of the steering-gear
house, colliding with Rankin as he did so.

"What, you here, sir?" exclaimed Rankin with a sickly smile as Ned
shoved past him. The Dreadnought Boy, with a sinking sense of dread,
guessed somehow that already the conspiracy against him was under way,
and that, with the flukes of the anchor not yet dry at the cat-head!

Rankin reeled and staggered as Ned brushed by with scant regard for
gentleness. He turned and gazed after the figure of the young officer
as he made for the steersman. Kenworth already stood at the man's side.

"Hard a'port!" Ned heard Kenworth roar.

It was precisely the command that, under the circumstances, would bring
the bow of the _Seneca_ grating and rasping on the shoal.

"Hard over! Hard over! For your life, man!" shouted Ned.

"Aye, aye, sir!" cried the man, recognizing the superior authority of
the temporary commander.

But it was too late. The next instant it happened, even as Ned's hand
jerked the engine-room telegraph over to "Full speed astern." With
a grating, jarring succession of bumps, the _Seneca_, Ned's first
command, slipped upon the shoal, even while her reversed engines were
frantically biting the water astern.

Before the lad's eyes arose a sickening vision of failure and disgrace,
even at the very outset of his important commission.



CHAPTER IX.

"YOUR DUTY IS TO OBEY!"


It was no time then to try to fix the blame. Turning to Kenworth, who
was standing with chalky-white face by his side, Ned curtly ordered
him to go below and summon the engineer and the ship's armorers to the
bridge.

When they came, he gave swift, incisive orders to have the ship
examined from stem to stern, and any damage she might have sustained
reported to him immediately. Herc, who by this time of course was by
his young leader's side, was ordered to take charge of this work.

The next half hour was the most anxious Ned had ever passed; but he
knew that yet more suspense was bound to follow when it came to testing
how hard and fast the _Seneca_ was piled on the shoal.

There was a possibility that she might get off under her own steam.
But of course this could not be foretold till an actual trial could
be made. For the present, with engines that had ceased revolving, the
_Seneca_ lay helpless and motionless on the shoal.

Ned's naval training stood him in good stead then. Without a quiver of
a lip or a flicker of an eyelid to betray the ordeal through which he
was passing, he stood erect on the bridge awaiting the report of the
investigators. Only the pallor under his tanned cheeks showed what he
was enduring.

If naval tugs had to be sent for to extricate the _Seneca_ from her
predicament, Ned knew that his brief career as a naval commander was
over before it had well begun. Then, too, with this thought mingled
another.

Had Kenworth deliberately given the order that had resulted in the
grounding of the ship, or had he lost his head and "piled her up"?
Judging from the conversation he had overheard, Kenworth was determined
to stop at nothing to discredit and disgrace Herc and himself with the
Navy Department.

But it was inconceivable, almost, that he should have formed his
plan and executed it so quickly. Ned was more inclined to put the
entire affair down to stupidity. But he knew that as commander of the
_Seneca_, he, and not Kenworth, would assuredly be held responsible for
any damage done.

It was at this moment that he was aroused by the clicking and whining
of the wireless spark in its little metal house just abaft of the
funnel. The stinging, whip-like crack and the crepitant sputter of the
spark as it leaped back and forth across its gap like a caged animal
was borne with clean-cut distinctness to his ears.

"Somebody working the wireless," decided Ned, for the arrival of
a message is not attended by any sound audible outside the ear
receivers. "Who can it be? Trevor, the regular wireless man, is off
duty. He was one of the emergency gang I sent below with all the other
hands I could spare."

There followed a moment of indecision, and then a flame of anger swept
Ned's face.

Whoever was sending out those thundering detonations of electricity
that were splitting space like a scimitar was no novice. Moreover, he
was trying to raise the _Manhattan_, the flagship of the Red Squadron,
and using the secret code to do it.

"I'll find out what this means in two shakes," exclaimed Ned to
himself. "I miss my guess if it isn't somebody trying, absolutely
without orders, to flash news of this accident to the flagship and put
me in bad."

He hastened from the bridge to the upper deck and through an alleyway
to where a short flight of steel steps led to the wireless room,
perched like a miniature pilot house astern of the funnel.

As he gained the door of the place and looked in, he stopped as
abruptly as if he had been struck a blow in the face.

For an instant he stood there rigid, taking in the picture that had
suddenly presented itself to his indignant gaze.

Bending over the key and sending out impatient waves of sound into the
atmosphere was Kenworth. His pale face was alight with poisonous glee,
as again and again he sent out the secret call for the flagship of the
Reds.

Ned was into the room in a bound. In another instant he had Kenworth by
the collar. The astonished and startled midshipman was as helpless as a
puppy in Ned's powerful grasp.

"I--how--what's the matter?" he sputtered.

"What are you doing here, Mr. Kenworth?" demanded Ned sternly. He was
in no mood to be trifled with. He fancied now that he saw the whole
contemptible plot, swiftly as the storm had broken.

[Illustration: In another instant he had Kenworth by the collar.--_Page
80_]

"Well, you see, sir--I--that is, when----"

"Answer me at once, please. What are you doing here?"

"I--I thought I'd practice up a bit."

"What!"

Ned's eyes blazed and a dangerous flicker of white came around his
nostrils. He despised a liar more than he held contempt for a coward,
and if he was not much mistaken, Kenworth was both.

"You see," stuttered Kenworth, absolutely shaken and flaccid, "I'm
wireless officer, with Trevor as assistant. I'm not very good yet, and
I----"

"On the contrary, it strikes me that you are remarkably efficient, Mr.
Kenworth," snapped Ned; "and as for practicing, you assuredly choose an
extraordinary time for it when the ship, for anything you know, is in
danger."

"Danger?" exclaimed Kenworth, and Ned thought that he caught an evil
glint in the midshipman's eyes.

"That remains to be seen," rejoined Ned coldly. "Tell me if you can,
why, without orders and without informing anyone, you were in here
trying to raise the _Manhattan_. You are silent. Then I will tell you
myself. You wanted to send out word of the accident."

Kenworth shuffled from foot to foot uneasily.

"My duty----" he began.

Then Ned boiled over.

"Your duty, Mr. Kenworth, is to obey my orders. You will now oblige me
by going to your cabin, unless you wish me to adopt harsher measures."

With a half-hearted salute, Kenworth turned and without a word left the
wireless room. But as he descended the companionway stairs he muttered
to himself:

"I guess I've got you badly worried already, Mr. Monkey-on-a-Stick, and
this is only the beginning. I said I'd fix you and I will, too. If
only I could have raised the _Manhattan_ and got that message through
with my version of the accident, Master Ned Strong's career would have
ended with a hard bump."



CHAPTER X.

"THE EYES OF THE RED FLEET."


While Kenworth, in his cabin, was consoling himself for his smart
"dressing down" from Ned with the reflection that in the event of the
_Seneca_ being badly damaged the lad he so disliked would lose his
berth, Ned, on deck, had forgotten in the business of the moment the
incident of the intercepted wireless.

Herc reported that no serious strain had been found, and that so far
as could be seen the _Seneca_ was resting on the edge of a sand bank.
The tide, it had been ascertained, was rising, in itself a fortunate
circumstance, and within a short time things would be propitious for an
attempt to back the craft off under her own steam.

"I hope to goodness we succeed, old fellow," said Ned fervently,
"although I can't tell you what an unspeakable relief to me it has
been to know that we are not damaged."

"You can rest assured of that. Every plate and rivet from fore-peak to
shaft tunnel has been gone over. Not a drop of water anywhere."

"In that case, provided we can get afloat again without summoning
assistance, we may get by without a reprimand or, even worse, a
recall," declared Ned.

"Oh, that would be terrible!" exclaimed Herc. "But say, Ned, have you
done any thinking about this accident?"

"What a question to ask! Thinking! I've been doing nothing else since
we struck."

"But you know what I mean?"

"Putting two and two together?" asked Ned significantly, with a glance
at the steering-wheel house that had been their place of concealment.

"That's it exactly. Have you been doing that?"

"Hum, yes, but they don't make four--yet."

"But you've come to the conclusion that the accident may not have been
quite so accidental as it appeared?"

"I didn't say so. What I do say, though, is this, that there is one
person on board who was quite willing to take advantage of it, accident
or no accident, to discredit us."

"And that was----?"

"Mr. Midshipman Kenworth. The rascal! caught him in the wireless room
trying to send a message to the _Manhattan_."

Ned went on to relate all that had occurred at that momentous
encounter, being frequently interrupted by Herc's exclamations of
indignation.

"You ought to have Kenworth put in the brig, or at least keep him in
his cabin for the rest of the cruise," blustered Herc.

"How can I do that? I have no proof against the fellow. Suspicion is
one thing, proof quite another."

"Anyone who knows the fellow----"

"That's quite aside from the question. Kenworth has powerful influences
behind him. We don't want to make any more enemies than we have to."

"Oh, pshaw! If I had your powers----"

"If I had the proof, I'd act quick enough, you may be sure. I wouldn't
care if his father was Secretary of the Navy--yes, or President. All
the more reason for getting rid of such a scalawag. But as it is----"

"All ready, sir!"

The chief bos'un's mate made the announcement.

"Very well, Bowles. You may pass the word."

"Now for the tug-of-war," said Ned grimly, as, warning the man at the
wheel to keep his helm hard over, he sent the signal below for the
engines to be started at reverse "slow."

Once more the vibration of her machinery thrilled the hull of the
_Seneca_; but--she did not move.

Undisturbed, so far as anyone could see, Ned shoved the telegraph over
till little by little the pointer stopped at "Full speed astern." He
rang up on the bridge telephone.

"Give her every ounce you've got," he ordered.

The water churned whitely; the pipes of the safety valves roared with
the pressure of the escaping steam from the high-pressure boilers.
The _Seneca_ shook and trembled like a live thing. Then came a sudden
impulse. Ned's eyes began to dance, but he dared not speak.

The next instant he knew that he had not been mistaken. The _Seneca_
was moving.

A cheer burst from the men, who knew that Ned had risen from the
foredeck, and liked and admired him on that account. Nobody attempted
to check it. Below, in his cabin, Kenworth heard the cheer and felt the
slight movement.

"Confound him! So he has managed to get her afloat, after all," he
muttered. "I didn't pile her up quick enough. Well, I'll get another
chance, and this time I won't fall down."

Little by little the bulk of the gunboat began to slide backward off
the shoal.

From the leadsmen posted on the bow, bridge and stern, came every
moment cries announcing deeper and deeper water. Herc silently wrung
Ned's hand. Ned said nothing, but his face showed what he felt.

At last there came a sudden backward lurch and the gunboat was freed
from her sandy prison and floated in deep water once more.

"We'll have no pilot this time," declared Ned, as he himself took the
guidance of the ship, scanning the waters ahead with keen eyes and
directing the helmsman on his course. They reached open water without
accident. And then Ned was at leisure to forward his report of the
accident to the _Manhattan_.

To his relief no comment was made upon it, which he attributed to the
fact that there had been no serious results. But through the air came
an order that caused Ned to thrill with delight. He was commanded to
peruse his sealed orders and follow them out without delay.

The _Manhattan_ was then some miles north of Block Island, well out to
sea with the Red Squadron. Of the Blues, nothing had been heard.

It was for Ned's ship, as the "Eyes of the Red Fleet" to spy out and
report the whereabouts of the "enemy."



CHAPTER XI.

THE EAVESDROPPER.


Ned, after the receipt of the message authorizing him to open his
orders, lost no time in hastening below.

Herc, as his junior officer, went with him. Kenworth was ordered out
of his cabin and told off to assume charge of the after-watch, an
assignment on which Ned was sure the evilly disposed midshipman could
not do any harm.

In the meantime, the ship was steaming slowly down the Sound in charge
of one of the junior warrant officers.

"Now for the big secret," exclaimed Ned, as he opened his desk and took
out the slender package. "We'll step into the wardroom to look it over,
Herc."

"Look out, somebody may have put a bomb in it while we were gone,"
warned Herc, leaning over Ned's shoulder, a look of intense interest on
his freckled countenance.

"Hardly any danger of that, I think," laughed Ned.

He ripped open the envelope, glanced hastily at the first sheet of the
numerous typewritten pages it contained, and gave vent to a low whistle.

"Well, what do you think of that?" gasped Herc. "I thought we were
to----"

"Obey orders," said Ned quietly; "although I must admit this is a bit
of a surprise. I suppose a change in plans came late so that we were
not forewarned."

"Well, let's hear what it is all about," prompted Herc impatiently.

"Simple enough, apparently. The army folks are protecting the mouth of
the harbor. There are important fortifications there, because in time
of war the protecting fleet, or part of it, might gather there.

"The army folks have planted mines there. While watching for the Blue
fleet to arrive, we are to test those mines."

"Phew!" gasped Herc. "There's only one way to test how much kick there
is to a mine."

"And what's that?" asked Ned.

"To blow it up and--yourself with it," declared Herc sententiously.
"Well, for a nice little holiday job, we have sure picked a dandy."

"Hold on a minute, will you?" interrupted Ned. "Let me finish this. The
mines are wired up by a new system. What we have to find out is if we
can sneak into the harbor mouth in our submarines and disconnect the
firing wires of the mines without blowing ourselves up. If we can do
this, the system is a failure."

"Humph! and so are we."

"So are we what?"

"Failures! If one of these mines blew up, what else would we be----"

Ned exploded in a loud laugh.

"Why, you chump," he exclaimed, "they are not loaded mines!"

"Then how can they tell if they've been exploded or not when we go
submarining around them?"

"It's up to us to see if we can dodge the wires or contrive some way to
disconnect them."

"That disconnecting idea doesn't appear very feasible."

"No, it does not," agreed Ned; "but I think I can find a way to evade
them, for all that."

"Hum! So long as they're not loaded, I don't care even if we run
bumpety-bang into one," declared Herc; "but a loaded mine--no, thank
you!"

"Our orders after that are general. We are to use our own discretion
entirely, acting as the eyes and ears of the Red fleet, and forwarding
to the flagship, via wireless, every scrap of information we think
might be valuable to the attacking party."

"That's one thing I don't like about this command," muttered Herc.

"What is that?"

"Why, we're supposed to be enemies to the flag."

"But only supposed to be, Herc, for the purposes of perfecting the
strength of Uncle Sam's defenses, and playing a useful part in exposing
any weakness in our nation's fortifications."

"Huh; well, that's all the kind of enemy I ever want to be--a supposed
one."

"I'm going into my cabin to lay out our course," said Ned, after a few
more words. "I want you on deck, Herc, to see how things are going
on. It won't take me long and---- What on earth is the matter? Got a
stroke?"

There was a large glass skylight over the wardroom and, owing to the
warmth of the weather, the flaps of this had been raised. With the
expression of one who has been suddenly hypnotized, Herc was staring
with open eyes and mouth straight up at the wardroom roof.

"What do you see?" demanded Ned, springing to his feet. "Shall I get
you a glass of water? Shall I----"

"Umph! You might get me a gun," snorted Herc.

"A gun! What on earth do you want with a gun?"

"I want it to shoot a skunk!"

"A skunk! Do you think you're back on the farm?"

"No, but just the same I'd like to go gunning with grandpap's old
scatter gun."

"I wish we had a doctor on board, Herc. Any fellow who can go around
seeing skunks----"

"Ought to shoot 'em on sight," muttered Herc belligerently. "Well, Ned,
this was a skunk I saw, all right, all right! And what do you think his
name was?"

Without waiting for a reply, Herc rushed on, "Kenworth! He'd been
listening to every word we were saying!"



CHAPTER XII.

SAKI--STEWARD.


For the time being there was no opportunity to investigate the case of
the eavesdropper. It was important that they should get under way at
once. Herc hastened on deck after a few hurried words with Ned.

Just at that moment two bells--one o'clock--sounded in the slow, deep,
mellow tones of the ship's bell. Simultaneously there appeared, through
a doorway at one end of the wardroom, the figure of a dapper Japanese,
dressed in white garments.

"Hullo! Who are you?" demanded Ned, looking up from a reverie into
which he had fallen, following Herc's departure.

"Me Saki. Officer steward. Me getee lunch for honorable capitan,"
rejoined the Jap with a low bow.

"Mr. Summerville made no mention to me of you," said Ned, looking the
Jap over.

"No doubt, sir, no doubt," was the reply; "me only joinee ship in New
York."

Ned said no more, but, telling the steward to summon him when the meal
was ready, he resumed his meditations. Truly the young skipper of the
_Seneca_ was in need of time to think and ponder.

This command of his, of which he had been so proud, evidently was not
going to prove any sinecure. Then, somehow, the face of the Jap floated
before his mind. He had seen it somewhere before, he was certain.
Perhaps it was on some other naval craft, for Japanese stewards are
much affected in the United States Navy.

It was a striking face, too: thick, bushy hair brushed up above a
massive forehead, far squarer and more prominent than Jap's foreheads
usually are, forming a sort of bristly aureole for a yellow face with
dark, forbidding eyebrows and a heavy jaw. Saki was not a common type
of Jap. He was heavier, less obsequious and smiling, more sure of
himself.

But such thoughts quickly flitted from Ned's mind as the problem of
Kenworth put itself forward. Mated with this reflection came the image
of Rankin. Both were men who disliked and, in one case at least, hated
Ned and Herc.

True, Rankin had no cause but a purely unreasonable one--as it
were--for his antipathy to the young captain of the _Seneca_ and his
first officer, but it was none the less plain, even without taking the
overheard conversation on the bridge into account, that the man had
made up his mind to do all the harm he could.

How soon he would strike, of course, Ned had no idea; nor what form his
malice would take. That Ned had concluded that Kenworth had purposely
run upon the shoal, we already know, but with how much justice he had
arrived at such a deduction, he could not determine.

The course was soon worked out and Ned proceeded to the chart house. He
summoned Herc and gave him his sailing directions, and then proceeded
to make an inspection of the ship. On his return from this duty,
he suddenly recollected that he had left the door of his stateroom
unlocked.

He descended the stairs swiftly and almost noiselessly. As he reached
the foot of them, he saw a form suddenly emerge from his cabin and
glide silently as a cat across the wardroom in the direction of the
stern door, where he knew the steward's cabin and pantry, as well as
the store-room, were located.

"Who's that?" he called in a sharp, authoritative voice.

"That you, Mr. Capitan, sir?" came in Saki's voice. "Me just go by your
cabin, tell you lunch is ready, sir."

"Very well. Come here, Saki."

"Yes, sir," rejoined Saki, hurrying back and bowing low.

"You must never enter my cabin, do you understand? That's private
ground except when I am in it. And Saki."

"Honorable naval mister." Saki again bowed low, spreading his hands.

"Have I ever seen you before?"

"I have never had the felicity of looking upon the honorable capitan's
face."

"Very well. You may call Ensign Taylor." For Ned and Herc, as befitted
their respective ranks on board the _Seneca_, ate their meals in
solitary state.

Midshipman Kenworth and the other warrant officers followed them. Such
was the strict etiquette of the navy, even on so small a craft as the
_Seneca_.

"Funny," thought Ned, "it's odd, but I can't get it out of my head
that I _have_ seen him before somewhere. Jove! I have it! It was at
Nagasaki, on the world cruise. He was found examining guns and firing
systems on board the _Manhattan_. As he could give no satisfactory
account of himself, he was ejected. I'm sure it's the same man. I
wonder----"

But the entrance of Herc put a stop to further speculation. Saki waited
on them during the meal with silent dexterity. Once or twice Ned sought
a chance to study his face without being observed, but every time he
found that the Jap's eyes were fixed on him, although quickly averted
when the Oriental saw that he was being noticed.

After lunch he took an opportunity to make some inquiries concerning
the Jap, and learned that he had come on board at New York, as he had
said. Midshipman Kenworth was believed to have secured him, the Jap
having been highly recommended as a servant by a relative of the former.

"Kenworth, again," muttered Ned to himself. "It's odd, very odd, how he
is always bobbing up. Jove," he broke off suddenly, "I never thought
to overhaul that desk of mine. The way that Jap came out of there like
a rabbit out of a hole was suspicious, to say the least. I'll go below
and have a look."

But a narrow inspection of the cabin showed that nothing had been
disturbed. Carefully Ned locked up his orders in his desk, and when he
went out, secured the door.

"All right this time, but it's a risk I don't want to chance again," he
said to himself as he ascended to the bridge. "Somehow I don't trust
that Jap, any more than I do those other fellows."



CHAPTER XIII.

ANOTHER WATCHER.


By mid-afternoon the _Seneca_ was well down the Sound. Several times
she was in communication with the Red flagship, but no further orders
came to Trevor, who was at the key.

Nor had the flagship heard anything of the whereabouts of the Blues. It
was generally believed that they had rallied off the Virginia Capes and
were playing a game of hide-and-seek with their opponents.

Ned knew the spot to which he had been directed for the mine test
very well. Already he had planned just how he would proceed. From the
mainland at this point there runs out a long finger of land, on one end
of which is perched Fort Schuyler.

It was his intention to leave the _Seneca_ anchored in a bay far up
the Sound and then proceed on one of the submarines, under cover of
night, himself commanding the diving boat. But when they had almost
reached the snug bay that Ned had decided upon as a good anchoring
place for a craft on such an errand, Trevor hastened out of his
wireless box with a message in the secret code.

Ned took it below and speedily read it off. He made a wry face of
chagrin as he did so. It appeared that other work than going down with
the submarine had been laid out for him. He was to get ashore somehow,
land on the neck in the early morning, and make certain observations of
the work of the diving boat.

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Ned to himself; "too bad! I don't see the object
of it all, but I suppose they know best. Well, Herc will have to take
command of the submarine, of course, and I will have to do what's laid
out for me."

His mind at once began to busy itself with plans for the morrow's work
when Trevor suddenly interrupted again. There had been a mistake in
transmitting the details of the last message, it appeared.

The submarine was not to make the tests the next day at all. Through
other sources the flagship had learned that the mines had not yet
been laid. Ned was to contrive to be on the watch during the process
and note carefully where each was planted from a quartermaster's
department tug. This was very important, as the mines were to be laid
just as they would be for actual defenses. When Ned had secured all
this information, the submarine test would come. If they succeeded in
dodging the torpedoes, it would be several points for the Red side.

When they reached the bay that Ned had in mind, the _Seneca_ was guided
inside, and then, while her crew speculated as to what the next move
could possibly be, she lay swinging at her anchor, idly waiting for
darkness to fall. For Ned had decided not to let his crew know of the
plans. Herc, of course, was familiar with them, but none of the others,
except Trevor, the wireless operator.

It was not long before dusk when Midshipman Kenworth presented himself
before Ned. He saluted respectfully and appeared much more obsequious
than he had been since the arrival of the boys on board.

"Beg your pardon, sir," he asked, "but would there be any objection to
my going ashore to-night? Some of my people live at Oakhurst, about
nine miles inland, and I'd like to take this opportunity of seeing
them."

Ned thought a moment. Then he decided that if Kenworth was spying about
the _Seneca_ with the object of injuring her young skipper, the further
off he was during the next day the better.

"Very well, Kenworth," said he, "you may go, but be sure to report on
board to-morrow night at four bells."

"Yes, sir," said the midshipman, saluting. He turned away and not long
after reappeared on deck with his suit case. The shore boat was ordered
away and was soon skimming off over the water.

"Confound the fellow," said Ned to Herc as they watched the craft
making its way over the bay, "I didn't want to let him go; but after
all, I'd rather have his room than his company any day."

"I'd have kept him aboard and worked him up to the king's taste," said
Herc with positiveness. "I've no more use for him than I have for a
snake in the grass, or for what I compared him to before."

"After all, though, there is no possible way he could injure us,"
declared Ned. "Such fellows as he is generally end by hurting
themselves more than the folks they have it in for."

"That may all be as true as a preacher's words, Ned," declared Herc,
"but we owe it to ourselves to look out for him."

"Oh, that part of it is all right. But come on now, I'm going to get
ready for the trip that I'm going to take to-night myself."

"I wish I were going with you," said Herc.

"Just think, you'll be able to lord it over the ship as a skipper all
the time I'm gone," laughed Ned.

"I'm afraid a skipper with a red head won't get as much respect as you
do, Ned, but I'll do my best."

After dark that night, Ned, clothed in an old suit of civilian clothes,
and carrying in a small handbag some necessary instruments and a sketch
block for recording his impressions, clambered down into the gig and
was rowed ashore by two members of the crew who had been sworn to
secrecy.

Once ashore, where there was a community of summer cottages and hotels,
he engaged a gasoline launch to take him to a small island known as
Civic Island, not far from the Neck, to which it was joined, in fact,
by a bridge.

Going ashore at Civic Island, Ned turned in at a hotel and early in
the morning rose, secured some provisions which he placed in his small
handbag, and then set out on foot for the scene of his observations.

The Neck was a lonely place and very little frequented. On one end of
it was the fort, between which and some wooded heights in which it
terminated, stretched the sandy, brush-covered peninsula of the Neck,
scrawny and thin as that of a giraffe.

Ned was provided with field glasses, of course, and having reached
a point from which he could command a clear view of the fort, he
surveyed it for some time to get his bearings. Meanwhile, of course, he
concealed his body behind some bushes.

He could see the tug perfectly plainly. There was a big crane at its
bow and it was hoisting on board large metallic shapes of globular form
that he knew were mines.

At the top of the mast floated the flag of the quartermaster's
department, so that Ned knew that he had the right craft spotted.

"Well, they are in no hurry, anyhow," he said to himself, as he watched
the leisurely way in which the craft was being loaded. "I reckon I'll
sit down and take a rest. I didn't sleep much at that hotel last night,
and I'd be glad of a seat in the shade. I can keep my eyes open just as
well under this bush here as standing out there in the sun."

But alas for good intentions! As he cast himself down in the shade, Ned
appeared to slip gently out of the present and into the land of Nod.
How long he slept he had no idea. But it could not have been very long,
for when he opened his eyes again the tug, loaded with the big, black
bulks of the submarine mines, was just leaving the fort.

"Gracious! Lucky I woke up in time! A fine thing it would have been if
I had blissfully slept right on!" exclaimed Ned to himself in mortified
tones.

He jumped to his feet. The next instant he threw himself just as
hastily down again.

He was not alone on the Neck. Not far off was a figure intently
watching the tug as it slowly steamed out from the dock.



CHAPTER XIV.

NED AT A DISADVANTAGE.


Reconnoitering cautiously from his point of vantage behind the bush,
Ned could not suppress a start of surprise.

There was something familiar about the figure of the fellow he was
watching. Could it be----? Ned rubbed his eyes and looked again. Then
his lips came together in a firm, thin line. His eyes hardened and his
hands clenched.

"The infernal rascal!" he muttered.

He had not been mistaken when he thought he recognized the figure that
was watching the tug as, with its crane stretched out like a long
pointing finger, it steamed out into the center of the bay.

It was Midshipman Kenworth--Kenworth, whom he supposed was visiting his
relatives far inshore. Yet here he was in civilian clothes on this
lonesome, sandy spit of land, apparently as much interested in the
movements of the army tug as Ned himself.

What could be the solution of the mystery? Why had Kenworth come there?

A sinister thought flashed into Ned's mind. The next instant suspicion
became conviction. He saw Kenworth draw out a pair of binoculars and
focus them on the moving tug. Then the midshipman cast himself down
into a sandy hollow, over the breast of which he pointed his binoculars
at the tug.

"So-o-o-o! That's your little game, is it!" breathed Ned disgustedly.
"You're even blacker than I thought you, Kenworth. I guess I'll take a
hand in this thing myself. Bagging a traitor to Uncle Sam, and one who
is entitled to wear the uniform of an officer and a gentleman at that,
ought to be even more important than a chart of the mine positions."

Between the two, like a series of billows, stretched wave-like sand
dunes. They were covered with a scant growth of wind-tortured beach
plum and stiff, spiky sea grass.

But yet the growth, scant as it was, afforded a certain amount of
cover. Ned's mind was soon made up as to the course he would pursue. At
all hazards, it was important to catch Kenworth red-handed.

"And yet, what can his motive be?" wondered Ned to himself. "I can't
conceive his purpose. He cannot be making his plans and observations
for the benefit of the Blue fleet. If he dared offer them there, he
would be booted over the flagship's side in two shakes. No, there is
something under all this that I haven't fathomed. But I will."

Ned's firm chin closed on his jaw with a snap. With stern purpose in
his eyes, the young follower of the flag began to creep forward over
the billowing sand dunes.

His progress was slow, for although in the hollows he had no fear of
being seen, yet when he breasted a rise he had to be careful. It was
when he had attained the summit of one of these sandy acclivities that
Ned noticed that the tug had come to a standstill.

The crane arm swung inboard and one of the mines, looking like a huge
black shoe button, was slowly hoisted from the pile on the deck.
Then through the still air came the rattling sound of chains and the
shrieking whir of the steam winch as the mine was lowered.

From this, Ned turned his attention once more to Kenworth. The
midshipman was squatting down in his hollow now, and with a note book
on his knees, was recording some sort of observations.

Risking detection, Ned centered his binoculars on that note book.
What he saw through the powerful lenses caused him to flush angrily.
Kenworth was making, not without considerable draughtsman's skill, a
sketch map of the whole situation.

"Oh! you miserable wretch!" exclaimed Ned, gritting his teeth. "I'd
give a whole lot to get my hands on you for about five minutes, and
that's just what I'm going to do, too."

All unconscious of the concealed watcher, Kenworth sketched on. He
actually appeared to take a pride in his work, from time to time
holding it at arm's length as if to get a better perspective upon it.
Then from his pocket he took a small camera, and made some pictures of
the two forts and the stretch of water between.

"Great heavens! He's risking the loss of his commission," exclaimed Ned
to himself as he saw. "There must be some uncommon motive behind all
this to make him take such chances. What can it be?"

The tug was moving now, crawling like some ungainly black bug across
the shimmering water.

Once more the anchor rumbled down, and again the crane poised,
swooped, and deposited another of the globular black objects, piled on
the fore-deck, in the water.

Ned, watching Kenworth intently, saw him place a surveyor's instrument
to his eye, no doubt to make a rough calculation of the exact spot of
the planting. Following a few seconds' observation through this, he
jotted down some more notes in his book.

"He's taking pains to be quite accurate," thought Ned. "He goes about
his work as if it were some honorable duty he was engaged upon. I
wonder how he knew about the mine planting, though? Can it be possible
that he heard the message coming over the wireless, or in some manner
gained access to a copy of it?"

Loyalty to his flag and country was the Dreadnought Boy's ruling
passion. The sight of Kenworth, engaged upon what Ned was certain could
only be treacherous work, sent a flame that seethed like a white-hot
blast through his frame.

Again he moved forward, but faster now. Kenworth, all unconscious that
another was creeping up on him, resumed his seat in the hollow and went
on with the touching up of his rough drawings.

Ned was close upon him now. Through the grass he glided along like a
snake.

But the rustle of some of the stiff grass behind him, or the fall of a
miniature cascade of sand into his hollow, must have suddenly apprised
Kenworth that somebody was in the vicinity.

He sprang to his feet and looked about him. At the same instant
something leaped through the air with the speed of a thunderbolt.

With a roar of rage, Ned had sprung the instant that he saw that
discovery was inevitable.

A sharp exclamation broke from Kenworth.

"You fool, I was prepared for you!"

Simultaneously something flashed bright in his hand, glinting in the
sunlight.

The next instant Ned felt a hot flash of fire in his face and the
stinging of a shower of needles. He staggered back, his hands to his
eyes, as Kenworth, with a cry of triumph, sprang toward the Dreadnought
Boy's reeling figure.

"That's the time I got you, Mister Strong!" he exclaimed.



CHAPTER XV.

A PRISONER ON "THE NECK."


But his triumph was just a little bit premature. The bullet from the
revolver which Kenworth had so handy had only grazed Ned's cheek. It
was the powder grains that had stung him like red-hot points.

The next instant he had recovered from his temporary smoke blindness.
As Kenworth jumped for him, Ned sprang at the other. As he did so, his
arms shot out and Kenworth's pistol went flying through the air.

Then Ned's strong hands seized the other's wrists with the force of
steel handcuffs.

"Confound you!" roared Kenworth. "I didn't get you, did I?"

"Not just yet," panted Ned, "nor for some time to come. You're my
prisoner, and if you don't want to accompany me quietly I'll find
means to make you."

Kenworth's reply was an odd one. He uttered a peculiar whistle.

"Now what's that for?" wondered Ned. The question had hardly taken
shape in his mind before it was answered, and in a surprising manner.

A loop was thrown over him, he fell forward, and his arms were pinioned
by an irresistible force to his side, while a knee pressed into the
small of his back.

"Honorable capitan lie quiet? No?" came a voice in his ear.

"It's Saki! Let me go instantly," demanded Ned.

A soft, gurgling laugh was the rejoinder.

"Yes, me Saki all right, honorable capitan; but no can let you go. You
lie down lilly while."

With a trick that Ned recognized as one employed by the jiu-jitsu
expert he had vanquished in the Far East, the yellow-skinned rascal, as
he spoke, threw Ned sprawling on his back on the sand. Before he could
make any defense another loop was slipped over his legs.

"Help!" shouted the boy. "Help! Help!"

There was a chance that his voice might carry to the distant tug.

"Ah! That velly bad to make noise, honorable sir," came Saki's soft
voice, and into the struggling lad's mouth was thrust a not over-clean
rag.

Effectually silenced now, Ned lay there with blazing eyes. He was
beaten, as he realized with a bitter feeling at his heart. Saki and
Kenworth were in league, as he had half guessed before.

Kenworth's harsh laugh made him turn his eyes in that worthy's
direction.

"Well, how do you like it, eh?" he chuckled. "And you thought you could
overreach me and give me orders, did you? Just take that!"

The young ruffian swung a fist crashingly into his helpless victim's
face. Again and again he struck, while Saki stood by, grinning. But
suddenly the Jap interfered.

"That plenty for now. We finish our work. Then maybe soon we go way
lilly while. Come back night time. Takee honorable capitan nice hotel."

The yellow man broke into a laugh as he spoke, and Kenworth, flushed
and vicious from his display of vindictive fury, ceased belaboring
Ned. He turned again to his sketch book and spy glasses. Saki took the
opportunity to retrieve the pistol, which he handed back to Kenworth.

"Maybe good thing you not better shot," he chuckled, with sinister
meaning.

The wind blew his coat aside as he stooped over, and Ned saw that,
pinned within it, the Jap had a peculiar decoration. Ned knew what it
was. He had seen similar ones in the Far East on the world cruise.

It was the badge denoting that the wearer belonged to Samurai, or
warrior caste of Japan. It also was conferred as a decoration on
certain leaders after the Russo-Japanese war.

This Saki, then, was not the ship's steward, as he had been
masquerading. Instead, he was a soldier and a veteran, and evidently,
too, of high rank.

The whole thing came over Ned in a flash. What a fool he had been
not to see through the plot before. The Jap, whose creature Kenworth
plainly was, had seized the opportunity of the great naval maneuvers to
smuggle himself into the midst of things and secure information about
Uncle Sam's fighting ships and war methods that he could have gained in
no other way.

The careful maps that Kenworth was drawing were destined to be sent
across the Pacific, for what purpose Ned could guess. He turned eyes
that blazed slow fires of contempt upon Kenworth.

The latter laughed harshly.

"Thinking you'd like to nail me, aren't you?" he sneered. "But you'd
have to get up a little earlier in the morning to do that. We knew
every one of your plans long ago. Saki got them in your cabin----"

The Japanese held up a warning hand.

"No talk any more. Hurry up your map," he urged.

"Pshaw! what harm does it do to tell him a few wholesome truths?"
snarled Kenworth. "He's had a swelled head too long altogether. This is
the time that he learns he's not as smart as he thinks, by a whole lot."

But he regarded the Jap's hint and addressed no more remarks to Ned.
The Dreadnought Boy lay on the hot sands with an ardent sun burning
down upon him. But he was careful to give no sign of suffering,
although his thirst was beginning to be excessive.

As if he knew this, and delighted in torturing the helpless lad, Saki,
from time to time, drew out an elaborately chased bottle and drank
from it with much satisfaction.

"Ah! nice, cool. Veree nice," he would say, smacking his lips and
proffering it to Kenworth. "Lemonade, veree good 'Merican drink."

But Ned, without the quiver of an eyelid, lay gazing up into the
blazing firmament, although his throat felt as if it were cracking from
a drought of centuries.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE FRIENDLY SUN.


The sun grew hotter and hotter. From the whirring of winches and the
clanking rattle of chains that was borne shoreward from time to time,
Ned knew that the work of mine-laying was still going on. The work he
had been sent to report!

What would be thought of him by his superiors? He felt that it was
doubtful if they would believe his story, even supposing he ever got
back to his ship and was able to tell it.

He wondered what his captors meant to do with him. Reasoning it out,
he had not much fear that they would attempt any desperate course, but
they were certain to place him where he could not give the alarm and
cause their pursuit before they had had an opportunity to get clear
away.

Mingled with these reflections came others. Ned speculated vainly as
to how long this treachery had been going on. Probably for some time;
Kenworth's note book appeared well filled. Doubtless he had become
disgusted with what he deemed the unfair treatment accorded him in
the navy, and had fallen an easy prey to the foreign agents who are
constantly trying to discover for their countries the secrets of Uncle
Sam's coast defenses and naval arrangements.

But it is rarely indeed that there is found in either branch of the
service men who have fallen low enough to coöperate with these fellows.
From time to time, though, such dastards are found and promptly weeded
out. There was no doubt but that Kenworth belonged to the latter class.

"I wonder if Rankin does, also," thought Ned. "He was a friend of
Kenworth's. It's natural he should be mixed up in his nefarious schemes
and plots."

It must have been well after noon when Kenworth reported that the tug
had finished her work and was going back.

"Then we go 'way," decided Saki. "Me plenty hungry. Bimeby when get
dark we come back and keep you company, Honorable Strong."

"Yes, don't be afraid we'll forget you," sneered Kenworth, putting up
his note book; "you've suddenly become important in my eyes."

Bestowing a parting kick on Ned's helpless form, the miserable traitor
followed Saki off across the sand hills. Ned turned his eyes and
watched them as they went.

So they were going to leave him there on the parching sand till
nightfall, and then----

"Ned, old boy, you're sure in a bad fix," said the captive lad to
himself. "There's not a chance on earth of getting away from here, and
even if I could, I have failed in my mission."

The thought that he had not accomplished the duty laid out for him
pained the Dreadnought Boy far more than the contemplation of his
predicament. With Ned, and with Herc, too, devotion to their ideals of
duty was almost a religion. It is so with most of Uncle Sam's Jackies.
But, as we know, a few black sheep are bound to crop up in every fold.
Ned thought grimly that he had certainly encountered his share.

The sun beat down hotter and hotter upon the boy. Its rays burned his
eyes. His lips were swollen, his every bone aching. The tortures of his
thirst had almost reached the point of delirium.

Suddenly he felt an acute pain upon his hand. It stung like the thrust
of a red-hot knife.

"Ouch!" exclaimed Ned, and rolled over a little.

The pain ceased, and the next instant he discovered what had caused it.
His binoculars had been laid upon a rock, one of a few that cropped out
here and there in the arid sand.

Clearly the Jap and Kenworth had forgotten to take the glasses with
them, for following his binding Ned had been stripped of everything he
possessed. They lay with the small ends toward him. The sun streaming
through the large lenses became concentrated into two tiny, burning
dots of white light at the small end of the glasses.

The binoculars had, in fact, become converted into a burning glass,
and the sharp sting on Ned's hand had been caused by one of the discs
of concentrated heat. Ned was still engaged on this explanation of his
pained hand when there was borne to his nostrils the sharp, acrid odor
of burning cloth.

He realized in a flash what had happened. When he rolled over, the disc
of burning essence of light had left his hand, but centered itself on
some portion of his garments. The cloth was on fire and was smoldering.

He was powerless to feel with his hands where the cloth had ignited
and could feel as yet no pain. But the odor of the burning fabric was
unmistakable.

It is a curious fact, but it was not until some seconds later that Ned
realized, with a thrill of horror, what that odor of burning cloth
really meant.

If he could not extinguish that slowly consuming fire, it might
presently burst into flame. Powerless to save himself, he would be
burned alive!

For an instant he felt sick and faint. Then he rallied his faculties
and began to roll over and over in the sand. After some moments of
this, the odor of burning ceased.

"Thank heaven for that," thought the boy with a shudder, as he sensed
his terribly narrow escape.

Suddenly his heart gave an exultant throb. A glad thought had been born
in his mind. From whence the inspiration came, he did not know. It was
enough that it had come.

If the rays of the binoculars that had been so providentially placed
would ignite cloth, they would surely set fire to rope!

Ned rolled over once more till he could settle the tiny burning spot
upon his wrist bonds. It was tedious work, and by the time he had the
white hot circlet focused on the ropes, his hands were covered with
tiny red burns that stung like hornets.

But in the excitement of the moment he scarcely paid any attention to
these. With shining eyes he watched the rope begin to smoke. It glowed
red. The air was filled with a pungent odor.

Ned gave a quick wrench. Like burned flax the charred and smoldering
wrist gyves gave way. With his hands free, Ned sat up. He felt sick and
dizzy, but his heart bounded with overflowing gratitude. He cast the
burning ropes far from him.

A jagged clam shell lay not far off. He made his way to it, half
rolling and half staggering. Then, with the sharp shell edges he
swiftly cut his leg bonds.

He found himself shaking all over. There was an odd swimming feeling in
his head. The sand about him flashed red as blood and the sun reeled
through it like a blazing ball of copper.

He spat the gag out of his mouth as the fit of weakness passed from him.

"Now," he said half aloud, as he rose on his aching ankles, "now to try
conclusions with two of the vilest traitors it has ever been my ill
fortune to encounter."

He stood thus a moment looking about him. Then, with painful footsteps,
for his circulation was not yet fully restored, he set off along the
Neck to where the squat, grim pile of dull red buildings marked the
location of the fort.



CHAPTER XVII.

SURPRISES.


"Halt!"

The command came like the crack of a pistol. Facing Ned stood a sentry
in the uniform of the Coast Artillery. In his hands he gripped a
carbine with a sinister-looking, blue-steel bayonet attached to its
barrel.

"Here's where you turn back, friend, and _pronto_, too," grinned
the sentry. He was a young fellow, with light blue eyes, stupid in
expression, and a nose of the type generally described as "pug."

"I've got to get to the fort, I tell you," protested Ned.

His voice came from his parched throat like the cracked, whistling
accents of a very old man. His clothes were torn in places from the
beach plums, through which he had come with furious haste, his eyes
were red-rimmed and wild, and his hat was gone.

The sentry regarded him contemptuously. But his was a lonely post, a
quarter of a mile out on the sandy Neck, and he decided to waste a
little time with this peculiar stranger.

"Say, friend, you don't want the fort. It's your cage you want. Why
don't you go right back to the Bronx, climb in, and shut the gate?"

"Look here," protested Ned, "I'm Lieutenant Strong of the Navy, at
least I hold that temporary commission. I've been attacked by rascals
while on duty and I'm suffering frightfully from thirst."

"I guess you are suffering from _thirst_," grinned the sentry. "Be a
good boy and get back to the bug-house now, or I'll have to help you."

He glanced significantly at his bayonet.

"Great Scott! Do you think I'm crazy!" cried poor Ned.

"Think it?" the sentry raised his thin, pale eyebrows, "I know it,
old pal. Run along and roll your hoop now, and don't give me no
more trouble. If I was to let you into the fort, I'd be put in the
guard-house for a month for letting a crank through."

"But I'm Lieutenant Strong, I tell you----"

The sentry interrupted by tapping his forehead.

"Sure you are. That's all right. You can be the President if you like;
it's none of my funeral."

There was a sort of soothing intonation in his voice, as if he were
trying to quiet a fractious child. The stupidity of the fellow almost
drove Ned wild.

He plunged a hand into his pocket. He would show the fellow by
documents that he was not an impostor.

"I'll show you papers that will prove who I am," he exclaimed.

Then, with a sudden chill of horror, he recollected that all his
papers--none of them, luckily, very important ones--had been taken
from him by Saki and Kenworth. The sentry was watching him, as he
frantically searched, with an amused expression.

"Say, what kind of a game are you trying to work, Captain Jinks of the
Horse Marines?" he asked.

"It's not a game, I tell you," cried Ned furiously. "Those rascals who
tied me took my papers. They have run off with them----"

"I guess it's you that have run off from your keepers," said the
sentry, nodding his head sententiously.

It was hopeless. Even Ned, sore pressed as he was, saw that. The man
was convinced that he was a crank or a crazy man of some sort and would
have no dealings with him. Ned spied a canteen hung round the man's
shoulder.

"At least, you'll give me a drink," he almost begged, so keen was his
need.

"It ain't the sort of drink you want. Nothing but water," said the
artilleryman.

"Good heavens, man, that's what I want!" rasped Ned through his parched
lips. "Give me just a little. Then I'll go."

"Well, if that's all, drink hearty," said the man, in more friendly
tones.

He cast a look behind him to make sure he was not observed, and then,
unslinging his canteen, he passed it to Ned. The water was warm and
tasted leathery, but to Ned it was unspeakably delicious. He threw back
his head and let it stream over his parched palate and down his cracked
throat.

"Cracky! I can hear it sizzle!" exclaimed the sentry. "Go on, take it
all if you need it as badly as that. I ain't that thirsty, and besides
I'll be relieved in a short time."

Ned needed no second invitation. He drained the canteen to the last
drop.

"I'm ever so much obliged to you," he said turning away; "maybe some
day I'll be able to reward you with more than thanks."

"That's all right," replied the sentry heartily. "I hope you'll get
over that bug of yours about being a lootenant. Why, friend, you might
be an orficer in Coxey's army, but I guess that's the only branch of
the service you ever had any dealings with."

Ned said nothing in reply, but with a wave of his hand walked off.
He had plenty of opportunity, as he plodded along the Neck, for
philosophical reflections on the part that clothes play in this world.
Had he worn his uniform, he could have marched past the sentry without
question. But, as it was, the man more than suspected him of being an
escaped lunatic.

Ned's intention in going to the fort had been to establish instant
communication with the authorities and warn them to look out for
Kenworth and Saki. Of course, the fort was technically the enemy's
country, but the lad rightly deemed that the capture of two such
renegades as the Jap and the midshipman took precedence of every other
consideration.

Now, as he made his way back over the shifting sands, his mind was busy
revolving plans for the arrest of the two who had served him in such
rascally fashion.

Musing thus, he was pressing steadily on, when, on topping a rise,
he came in sight of a small, sandy cove. Drawn well up into it was a
sharp-bowed motor boat. A long engine hood forward showed that she
carried powerful engines. On shore, beside her, lay a figure dozing
in the shade. The tide rippled pleasantly and the sand alongside the
beached craft afforded a cool resting place.

"The very thing!" exclaimed Ned. "Goodness knows how long it would
take me to walk to Civic Island. Some time, anyhow, even if I felt in
the humor to do it. I'm pretty sure those rascals must have made for
there, and if I hurry up I might catch them yet."

"Hello, there!" he hailed, running down the bank to where the man lay.
"Can you start your motor on the jump? I'm in a big hurry and----"

At the sound of a voice the dozing man rolled over.

Right then Ned experienced the surprise of his life. The man was Saki!

The shock of this discovery had hardly had time to sink in, and the two
were still staring at each other, when from the boat came another voice.

"If you're in a big hurry, come right aboard and save us the trouble of
fetching you."

Ned looked up from Saki and faced Kenworth. The renegade midshipman was
regarding him with a sardonic grin. Ned saw that he held a revolver.
The weapon was pointed straight at the Dreadnought Boy's heart.



CHAPTER XVIII.

OFF FOR A CRUISE.


Kenworth had a look of triumph on his face. While Ned, dumbfounded at
the turn events had taken, faced him, Saki sprang to his feet and also
jerked out a pistol.

"I advise you not to run, my honorable capitan, or to make resistance,"
said the Jap, smiling amiably. "It would not by any means suit our
purposes to have you get away just now. We must, therefore, claim you
as our guest."

Ned feigned an indifference he was far indeed from feeling.

"It seems that rascals do have all the luck on their side sometimes,
doesn't it?" he said.

The Jap did not reply. Instead, he turned to Kenworth, who was still
standing on board the motor boat and keeping Ned relentlessly covered
with his pistol.

"Put over that gangplank," he said. "We are to have the honor of an
unexpected visit from clever Mr. Strong. I cannot imagine how he
managed to free himself, but it is greatly to our advantage that, after
having done so, he took the path that he did. Now, my honorable sir,
if you will give yourself the great trouble to walk up that plank I
shall be your most obedient servant. Remember I am close behind you,
and if you should feel tempted to jump or run, pray recollect that I am
excessively nervous, and in my excitement I might press this trigger."

"You mean you would do so," returned Ned. "I know you and your breed."

"Complimentary, is he not?" grinned the Jap, addressing Kenworth.

"It doesn't matter what he is," was the grumbling rejoinder, "we've got
him tight this time, and by hookey, I mean to keep him safe and sound."

"Oh, yes, there must be no more promenades, honorable Ned," chuckled
the Jap.

Ned could have throttled the grinning rascal then and there. But he
reflected that to make any break to escape would probably result in
serious consequences for himself. It was a lonely part of the Neck and
concealed from the view of the little-traveled path that led through
the brush.

Besides, he thought that possibly another chance to get away might
present itself. If he proved troublesome, the two rascals would take
double pains to secure him, whereas if they thought he was thoroughly
subdued they might not be so particular.

With this thought in mind, he threw back his head proudly and walked
across the rickety gangway with a firm step.

"At least, I won't let them see that they can scare a sailor of Uncle
Sam's," he thought, looking defiantly into the grimacing face of
Kenworth.

As soon as he was on board, the gangplank was drawn in. Then Saki
addressed the involuntary guest.

"Hold out your hands, please, honorable sir."

"What for?" demanded Ned, although he guessed what was coming. They
were going to bind him again.

But this time Ned guessed wrong. That is, on the present occasion the
two worthies had clearly decided to use no ordinary methods of insuring
the safety of their prisoner.

"I wish to present you with some jewelry," said Saki, with a grin that
made Ned wild to give the oily, grimacing ruffian a good drubbing.

The next instant he produced a pair of handcuffs. Ned, situated as he
was, had no choice but to submit to being manacled.

"It's what I might have expected of you," he said, as Saki snapped the
locks shut. "May I ask what you mean to do with me?"

"We will take a little cruise out into open water till it gets dark,
and then we shall return to--to--well, we shall return you to a safe
place on shore for the night."

As the Jap spoke, Kenworth started the engine and then drew in the
anchor. The clutch was slipped into forward speed and the motor boat
moved out of the little cove, splitting the water at a good rate.

"You said you were going to take a cruise?" inquired Ned.

"Such is our intention," rejoined Kenworth, who had the wheel, with a
scowl.

"I should advise you not to," was the quiet rejoinder.

"Why not?"

For answer Ned pointed to great castellated clouds piled up in majestic
masses on the horizon. They towered whitely against the blue sky and
appeared to be traveling at some speed.

"Well, what about those clouds?" asked Kenworth, with his customary
sneer.

"Thunder heads. We are in for a bad storm, or I miss my guess," said
Ned, in the same quiet tones.

"Hark at the scare-cat!" chuckled Kenworth. "Say, Ned Strong, for a
braggart upstart you show the white feather mighty soon."

"If only you were concerned," retorted Ned, "I shouldn't care what
became of this craft or those in it. But I'd hate to be drowned, when
some day I confidently expect to be the means of bringing you two
traitors to justice."

It was perhaps an unwise speech, but Ned was mad clear through.
Kenworth looked at him keenly.

"So that's your little plan, eh?" he asked. "Well, I guess we know ways
to checkmate that, Saki."

"Undoubtedly," responded the Jap, gravely nodding his head.

"That's all I have to say," said Ned; "go ahead and work out your own
salvation. I've warned you."

"I always knew you were a coward at bottom, Strong," scoffed Kenworth,
"and now I'm going to give you a cruise that will take the starch out
of you for the rest of your life."

He touched the control, which was on the steering wheel like that of
an automobile. The craft leaped forward like a flying fish. The spray
flew high on either bow. Kenworth, a wicked gleam in his eyes, headed
straight up the Sound.



CHAPTER XIX.

THE STORM.


As Ned had foreseen, a storm was brewing. It was one of those sudden
summer storms that come up almost without warning and rage furiously
over the Sound. The big thunder heads rolled up rapidly till the entire
sky was overcast.

Saki was sitting on the stern seat. Ned, with a gleam of satisfaction,
saw that the Jap looked frightened. Indeed the weather promised to be
bad enough to alarm even an experienced sailor, which Saki surely was
not.

Under the dark clouds the sky was shot with an angry, lurid, copper
color. The sea had turned leaden and began to heave suddenly. Still
Kenworth, driven by his hatred of Ned, kept on.

It appeared that he hardly cared what became of himself or his
companion, so that he could have his revenge upon Ned. As a matter of
fact, Kenworth by no means liked the looks of the weather himself. But
it would have been unsafe to remain ashore with Ned, as neither the
midshipman nor Saki knew with whom he had been conversing during his
brief liberty. For all they could tell, although it did not appear
probable, an ambush might have been laid for them. Therefore, they had
decided to cruise about till it grew dark.

Ned, for his part, determined to say nothing more. He sat on a midship
seat, the handcuffs on his wrists, watching the coming storm.

The wind began to moan in an eerie sort of way. It sounded like the
actual voice of the coming tempest. The sea began to whip up into white
caps. Suddenly the black storm curtain was ripped and rent from top to
bottom by a jagged streak of livid lightning.

Saki turned a sort of pasty green. His knees almost knocked together.
The motor boat was a narrow-waisted, wasp-like craft, and did not
appear to be suited for heavy weather.

"Maybe so we better go back," suggested the Jap in a shaky voice. He
glanced apprehensively at the mighty canopy of the storm overhead.

Kenworth turned on him almost savagely.

"We'll go back when I get good and ready," he said. "I want to see how
much this white-livered braggart can stand. Yes, I mean you, Strong."

There was a sweeping blast of wind. It was followed by a blinding flash
and then a roar like the rumble of a million celestial chariot wheels.
The Jap hid his face while the lightning seared and streaked the sky as
if an egg had been spattered to smithereens on a blackboard. The very
air smelled sulphurous.

"I--I guess we'll go back," said Kenworth.

Just then a wave struck the side of the bow and reared its white crest
high above the tossing craft. Saki sprang to his feet as the salt
water came dousing down in a regular cloudburst. It drenched Kenworth
to the skin and tore from the Jap a frightened shout.

"Hope you like it," grinned Ned, the only collected person on the
boat. The dark frenzy of Kenworth's mad passion had passed and now he
saw with panic-stricken eyes the danger they were in. The wind was
howling furiously and the waves were piling up on every side. It seemed
impossible that the lightly built craft could live much longer in the
tumult of waters.

Saki was in a panic of fear. Crouched on the bottom of the boat, his
yellow face looked, in the glare of the almost incessant lightning,
like some hideous war-mask of the old Samurai.

Ned gazed about him. The outlook was bad, very bad. And then there
were those handcuffs. If only he could get them off. He addressed the
terrified Saki.

[Illustration: "You drop that wheel, and we'll all go to Davy Jones!"
shouted Ned.--_Page 155_]

"Here, you, take these handcuffs off. At once, do you hear me?"

He felt no fear of the groveling wretch at his feet. He even emphasized
his remarks by a threatening gesture of his foot.

"Oh! Oh! Honorable Saki much frightened!" wailed the Jap.

"You contemptible yellow cur," snapped Ned, "brace up! Do you hear me?
Come now, quick, the key."

The Jap actually managed to struggle to his feet and produce the key.
Kenworth saw what he was doing.

"Stop that!" he yelled, and began to let go of the wheel. A shout from
Ned brought him to his senses.

"You drop that wheel, and we'll all go to Davy Jones!" shouted Ned.

Kenworth gripped the spokes again. If ever fear was written on a face,
it was on his. The thought of the death that was so near paralyzed
him. Perhaps he thought of that other storm off the Cuban coast when
Ned had brought them safely aboard through a wilder sea than this.

The Jap's teeth chattered as he unfastened the handcuffs and Ned jerked
his hands free.

"Now hand over that gun. Quick, now," snapped out Ned.

The Jap was so terrified that he would have done anything he was told.
With hands that shook, he handed over the pistol. Ned took possession
of it with grim satisfaction.

The chance that he had hoped against hope might come had arrived. He
was on even terms with his foes. But would that fact do him any good?
The storm was raging so furiously that Ned, with all his optimism,
could not hope that the motor craft would live through it.

The only thing to be done, as he saw it, was to run for the lee of a
point of land some distance off. If they could reach this in safety,
they might have a chance. If not, and the storm continued to increase
in violence, there was hardly one chance in a thousand for them.

The angry lightning hissed and crackled and the thunder boomed with
ear-splitting clamor as Ned made his way forward to Kenworth's side.
When he arrived there, he seized the other by the shoulder and shouted
in his ear.

"Steer for that point yonder! It's the only chance we've got."

Kenworth, in his fear forgetting everything but the instinct of
self-preservation, obediently headed the storm-stressed craft around.

It was at that moment that another sea broke upon the little vessel.

There was a sputter and a series of coughs from the engine, and
simultaneously the motor, upon which all depended, went dead.



CHAPTER XX.

CONFESSION.


"This is the finish!"

Ned gasped out the words as he heard the last expiring cough of the
motor. It was hopelessly short-circuited. The battery box was drenched,
the spark-plugs dripping.

Kenworth turned a white face on him.

"You mean----"

"That your wicked schemes have ended in this, Kenworth--a miserable
death for us all. This tinder box cannot live more than five minutes
longer, if that. You had best prepare to meet your Maker."

Kenworth, moaning like the arrant coward he was, threw himself
groveling on the floor of the boat.

"Oh--oh--oh! Can nothing save us?" he moaned. "Listen, Strong, I have
been wicked, I know. But I was poor, and gambling took away whatever
money I could scrape together. I was threatened with exposure to my
relatives if I did not pay my debts.

"That would have meant ruin, for, influential as they were, they had
become disgusted with the poor showing I had made in the navy. It was
at this crisis that I met Saki. He tempted me to betray naval secrets
with promises of money. He helped me pay my debts and gave me money
lavishly. In return, I furnished him with every scrap of information
I could pick up. He has secret code books, fire-control plans, night
signals, and details of our ammunition resources."

Ned looked at the wretch that groveled at his feet as if he could have
struck him.

"How long has this been going on?" he demanded.

"For a long time. Saki had me in his power. I was helpless."

"Don't be a weakling in addition to your other faults," said Ned
imperiously. "Have you that book of drawings you have been making?"

"Y-y-y-yes."

"Give it to me."

"B-b-b-but it is meant for----"

"Give it to me. If I should be saved, I will see that the proper
authorities get it. If not, there will no harm come of it. Come, hand
it over."

Quivering from head to foot, white-faced and limp-fingered, Kenworth
fumbled in his pockets. He drew out a book and handed it over to Ned.
The Dreadnought Boy took it and thrust it into his pocket.

Hardly had he done so before a giant wave swept down on the motor boat.
Caught in the trough of the seas, the craft wallowed helplessly.

Then, half full of water, she sidled down the other side. Ned saw that
the end was at hand. With a white, set face he ripped out some life
preservers from under the seats.

"Here, put these on," he commanded Kenworth and the Jap.

As he spoke, he flung one to each. They seized them, their teeth
chattering and their throats uttering sounds that were hardly human.
Ned took one himself and buckled it on.

"At least the stolen secrets of the United States Navy are in safe
hands now," he muttered; "if I go to the bottom, there is no better
keeper of confidences than old Davy Jones. If I should save my life, no
power on earth will separate me from them till I have placed them in
the hands of the naval authorities."

The half-filled boat kept afloat with wonderful seaworthiness,
considering her narrow build. Wave after wave, that it appeared must
engulf her half water-logged hull, she rode right gallantly.

Ned actually began to entertain a ray of hope that, after all, she
might weather the tempest. But it was still blowing with malignant
fury, and there did not appear to be any sign of abatement in the huge
seas and constant display of angry lightning.

"D-d-d-do you think she can live?" stammered Kenworth.

Ned shook his head. He turned a glance of contempt upon the
conscience-stricken coward.

"Do you mean to tell me that you care for life after what you have
confessed to me?" he demanded. "Why, Kenworth, if I had done one half
of what you admit, I should not wish ever to meet one of my fellow men
again.

"Why, man, you had a glorious chance in the finest sea service in the
world! What did you do with it? Chucked it away and became a pawn, a
creature of your country's enemies."

Kenworth whimpered like a whipped cur.

"I--I needed the money," he stuttered; "I was helpless in the hands of
the Jap. I tried to do better, but somehow I couldn't break away. I--I
always liked you, Strong. I did indeed. Can you save us?"

"Yes, you liked me so much that on every occasion you could you took
advantage of the fact that you were an officer to insult and abuse me!
Kenworth, now that you are frightened at the face of death, you are
willing to cringe and cow to me.

"If we were all to be saved, and our positions could ever be the same
again, you would be just the same. It is the nature of such men as you.
But we never shall be the same again, Kenworth. Your career is ended.
Driven from the navy, branded as a traitor, you will find no peace."

"B-b-b-but life is sweet, Strong. Can't you save us? Saki will give you
money. Plenty of money."

"Yes, yes, honorable sir," cried the Jap eagerly. "My emperor will
reward you. I, too, am rich. I will give you much money. Only save us.
There is nothing----"

A scream of terror from Kenworth's white lips split the air. It sounded
above the rumble of the thunder chariots.

"Look! Look!" he shrieked, high above the noises of the storm.

Towering over them, looming up through the flying wrack like the
tremendous figure of fate itself, was a gigantic black form. It was
right upon them.

"It's a schooner!" shouted Ned. "She's----"

There was a horrible crunching sound and the motor boat was no more.
Severed clean in two, she sank, the storm-racked sea carrying with her
those who a moment before had been of her company.



CHAPTER XXI.

ORDERS ARE ORDERS.


Meantime, on board the _Seneca_, Herc had been feeling intense anxiety
over the non-return of Midshipman Kenworth. To add to his uneasiness,
also, Saki, who had been sent ashore to order some fresh provisions,
had not returned.

The crew of the gig had waited for the Jap that evening (the evening of
Ned's departure) for more than two hours. The village was some little
distance back from the shore and they allowed him ample time to go and
return, considering the fact that a trolley line connected with the
place.

When he did not return within that time, the coxswain ordered a return
to the ship to receive further orders from Herc, acting commandant.
Herc, in some perplexity as to the best course to pursue, finally
decided to order a picket party to find out what had become of the
Oriental.

A thorough search of the village was made and at length, in a garage,
they struck the trail of the yellow man. It appeared that he had rented
a car there and departed for parts unknown.

Herc decided to wait for the return of the driver. He felt in a vague
yet positive way that there was more underlying the disappearance of
the Japanese than could be accounted for on the supposition that he had
gone off on an undisciplined joy ride.

The chauffeur returned at last. He had taken Saki to a town where the
Jap had boarded a train of the main line of the Long Island Railroad.
That was all he knew. He had been well paid, he volunteered, and
also added that the Jap had paid him from a roll that "would trip a
greyhound."

"Now what would the steward of a gunboat be doing with all that money?"
mused Herc.

He pondered for a time the advisability of trying to follow the trail
of the Jap; but reflection convinced him that this would be useless.

Besides, the fact that he was responsible for the _Seneca_ would have
precluded the idea. He could not make it an excuse for deserting his
post that he had been in pursuit of a mere steward; and they had not
any actual proof against Saki to show that he was anything more than a
deserter.

His description was, however, sent out broadcast, as a renegade from
the navy. This done, Herc, feeling downcast and uneasy, returned to
the ship. He felt depressed. Influences of evil were at work, he felt
sure of it. But the very indefiniteness of his suspicions made them the
harder to bear.

"At least, I can find out if Saki was lying about being short of fresh
vegetables," he said.

The assistant steward, a negro named after the ship where he had last
served, Tennessee, was summoned. Herc made an inspection with him and
found his worst suspicions verified. Far from being short of fresh
provisions, the ship's refrigerators were amply stocked. There was no
shortage anywhere that would justify the decamping steward's excuse to
get ashore.

"Huh! if I'd only had horse sense enough to do this a while ago," mused
Herc gloomily, "that fellow would have stood no more chance to get off
this ship than a man would have to sell refrigerators at the North
Pole. I'm a fine dunderhead, I am."

No wireless messages came that night, and the morning brought no news
of Ned. Nor did Kenworth reappear at the appointed time.

Herc began to be seriously worried. What could have happened? The
survey of the mine planting operations could not have taken more than
a day. Ned should certainly have been heard from. The silence and
mystery that were closing in about Herc began to get on his nerves.

Still he attended dutifully to the routine of the ship, and Trevor, the
operator, was under orders to report to him the instant anything came
over the wireless. So the day wore away and with nightfall the wireless
began to spit and splutter.

What Herc had dreaded had happened. The flagship was asking for Ned.
Herc was in a terrible quandary. He could not tell a lie and pretend
that Ned was on board or had been heard from. Yet if he did not shield
his comrade in some way, Ned was almost certain, unless he had an
excellent excuse for his absence, to get into serious trouble. Even a
courtmartial might result.

At length the wireless became imperative.

"If Lieutenant Strong not on board, get in instant communication with
him. Important.--Dunham."

"Try and get the flagship again," Herc ordered.

Trevor bent over his key. For a long time he kept sending his crackling
waves out into space. But no answer came.

"Can't you get 'em?" demanded Herc impatiently.

The operator shook his head dismally.

"No use trying. The air is full of messages. They're buzzing like flies
round a honey-pot. I'll try again later on, sir."

Herc began to see that the command of the _Seneca_ was not going to
prove any bed of roses. Already he was plunged into the middle of a
puzzle to which there appeared to be no key.

Not only had Kenworth and the Jap vanished, but Ned Strong was not to
be found. Yet there were the orders: "Get in instant communication with
him."

Herc gave a dismal groan. The more he thought matters over, the more
complicated did they become.

"By the bald-headed American steer," he grunted, in the seclusion
of his cabin, "this beats anything I ever tackled. However, orders
are orders and must be obeyed to the letter. I've got to get into
communication with Ned. Just as if I wouldn't have done that long ago
if I'd had the chance!"

Turning the command of the ship over to one of the warrant officers,
Herc changed into plain clothes and then summoned the crew of his gig.
He was rowed ashore and sought out the man from whom Ned had rented the
gasoline craft which took him to Civic Island.

The man could shed no light on the matter, beyond saying that he had
taken Ned to his destination. A sudden determination came over Herc.

Ned had, then, arrived at Civic Island. He must go there at once and
take up the trail.

"It's a blind one," he muttered, "but I'll follow it to the end if it
costs me my commission."

Some time later the same gasoline craft that had conveyed Ned, landed
Herc at Civic Island. It had fought its way alongshore through the same
storm that had brought disaster to Ned. Despite the idea he had formed
of the difficulties of the task in front of him, Herc did not imagine,
even in his more despondent moments, what a trail of trouble it was
that he had set out upon.



CHAPTER XXII.

ON THE "TWIN SISTERS."


Ned opened his eyes. His first thought was that he was in his bunk on
the _Seneca_. But an instant's glance about at his surroundings soon
dispelled that idea.

He lay on a rough shelf, rather than bunk, on a pile of dirty blankets.
Another frowsy covering was thrown over him. Above him were beams and
cross planks by which he would have known, even had it not been for the
motion, that he was on board a vessel of some sort.

The place in which he found himself was clearly a small cabin. In the
center of the forward bulkhead stood a rusty stove with a high rail
to keep the pots and pans simmering on it from sliding off under the
motion of the ship.

Some sea clothes swung from a line stretched across the ceiling. In a
corner, against a locker, stood some hip boots, above which oil-skin
coats were hung. The place was dirty, stuffy and smoky to the last
degree. The last mentioned attribute was not improved by the sooty
radiance from a dim lantern swinging from one of the carlines.

"Where on earth--what----?" muttered Ned, raising himself on one arm as
he made his survey.

And then, like the inrush of the tide, memory came back.

The storm, the wild ride of the motor boat! The confession of Kenworth,
the yielding of the note book, and then the last terrible scene when
the immense black mountain that towered above them for a flash had
engulfed and broken them!

Ned felt weak and dizzy. But his mind rapidly cleared. He had a vague
recollection of having been struck a blow when the motor boat was cut
in half. Beyond that he knew nothing more. Yet he must have been
rescued. Determined to unravel the mystery and also to ascertain if
possible what had become of Kenworth and Saki, he made an effort to
rise.

But he was so weak that it was some moments after he had made the first
attempt that he succeeded. His coat hung near him on a hook. His shirt
and trousers he had on. His first action, when he reached for his coat,
was to dive into its pockets in search of the book he had forced from
Kenworth.

He gave an exclamation of satisfaction as he felt its outlines and drew
it forth. It was damp, but not wet within its covers, for the outside
of the volume that contained so many of Uncle Sam's secrets was clasped
tightly by a strong rubber band. This had kept the water from smudging
any of the drawings or writing.

But Ned just then did not give much thought to the book, precious to
him though it was. His main object was to discover just where he was
and how he came there. There was a steep little stairway, or ladder,
opposite the stove.

Ned climbed it and found himself on the stern deck of a small schooner.
She was spanking along, eating her way up against a head breeze while
great clouds of sparkling spray tossed over her thundering, pounding
bow.

Standing beside the wheel was a short, thick-set man with iron-gray
whiskers shot with reddish hair. He was roughly dressed and a
pipe,--short and thick like himself,--was in his mouth.

By his side sat a one-eyed black and white dog, with one ear cropped
and the other hanging down dejectedly. Forward, Ned saw two men
attending to the jib sheets as the schooner came about and went away on
another tack.

The man at the wheel being too busy in attending to this maneuver to
notice Ned, the Dreadnought Boy, with the thunder of the shivering
sails in his ears, looked about him. He instantly recognized their
whereabouts. The schooner was crossing New York Bay.

Looking back he could see the battlemented spires and domes of the
skyscrapers on the lower end of Manhattan Island, and further up the
East River the spidery outlines of Brooklyn Bridge. Ferryboats moved
rapidly to and from Staten Island, and close at hand a big tramp was
coming along, making for her dock in the Erie Basin.

As the rattle and bang of the sails ceased as they took the wind and
the schooner filed off on the other tack, the thick-set man at the
wheel gave his attention to Ned. So did the dog. It came sniffing
around his ankles growling ominously.

The bearded man removed his pipe.

"Here you, Tops'l, go off on another tack, d'ye hear? Starboard, hard
over!"

The sea-going canine appeared to understand, for it relinquished its
scrutiny of Ned and came over to its master.

"Inter drydock with you, you flea-chawed stepson of a coyote," grunted
the man, and then he was free to turn his attention to Ned.

"Hello!" he grunted gruffly. "How yer feelin'?"

"Pretty good, thanks," responded Ned. "I guess it's you I have to thank
for saving me from the Sound last night, for I see by the sun that its
near noon of another day."

"'Tis that. We lost a lot of time down ther East River. It's gittin' so
that tugs clutters up the river worser nor taxicabs does the streets.
But we come down under sail. No fifteen dollars down fer me, thank you."

He looked oddly at Ned from under his bushy eyebrows.

"Can you anyways recall jes' what happened las' night?" he asked
presently.

Ned shook his head.

"I've not the least idea," he said. "All I know is that something cut
our motor boat in two and then everything got dark. By the bump I've
got on my head, I imagine something hit me. But there were two other
men in the boat with me. Do you know anything about them?"

The bushy brows contracted. The man looked away, removed his pipe, spat
reflectively and then faced Ned again.

"I don't know nuthin' about nobody but you," he said, in the same odd
way, and then he returned to his previous question.

"You don't recklect nuthin' more'n what you told me?"

"That is absolutely all," rejoined Ned, puzzled by the man's insistence
on this one question.

"Well, then it weren't me as run you down. I don't want no claim for
damages on the _Twin Sisters_."

"You won't have any, so far as I'm concerned," said Ned, a light
beginning to dawn upon him; "but tell me how you came to pick me up?"

"I'll tell you the way of it, no deception and no lies," said the
bushy-browed man. "Cap'n Lemuel Briggs ain't the man to lie. Look at
me. Do I look like a man who would inwent of malice aforethought a
faberrycation?"

"You don't," replied Ned, inwardly thinking that Captain Briggs did not
to any vast extent measure up to his description of himself.

"Very well, then, matey, you shall have the truth on it," said Captain
Briggs, with a fine open air. "There ain't a man from here plumb to the
Pearly Gates that could ever accuse me of ex-er-ager-ation.

"Arter we--that is, arter we seen that other schooner run yer down, I
puts my wheel hard over. Then I sends a man up in the bow to look out
fer anyone that he could save, me being one of the most humane skippers
that ever used a handspike on a frisky deckhand. He climbs down into
the bobstay riggin' and the first thing he catches sight of is you,
right under the bow. He grabs you and we gets you on deck and puts you
to bed, and now here you are up again, bright and spry, and ready to
pay liberal for yer rescue, I hopes."

Ned looked embarrassed. Although he was pretty sure that Captain
Briggs' schooner, despite the captain's asseverations to the contrary,
was the one that had run down the motor boat, he still felt grateful to
the man for being the means of saving his life. But his pocketbook had
been stolen by Kenworth and Saki, no doubt in the hope that it might
contain papers of value.

He was penniless. His embarrassment must have showed pretty plainly on
his face, for Captain Briggs gave a wave of his hand.

"That's all right, matey," he said magnanimously. "I kin see that you
come of good folks and kin pay well. If you ain't got much with you
now, you can write me a check or we'll wait till you can take me to
your folks."

"But I haven't any folks here, nor have I a check-book or any large
sums of money anywhere," said Ned, perplexed about getting out of this
unforeseen difficulty. "Where are you bound for?" he added.

The captain looked cunning. He laid his finger to one side of his
pimply, bottle-shaped nose.

"That's a bit of a secret, my lad. But I don't mind telling you this.
It's on the Jersey shore above Perth Amboy."

"Very well, then," said Ned relieved, "you put me ashore in Perth Amboy
and I'll send you whatever money I can raise to any address you give."

The captain stared at him as if in deep thought. For a moment he said
nothing. Then he found words.

"Ain't you a nice one ter try yer deceivin' ways on poor ole Cap'n
Briggs?" said he in an injured tone. "Fellers like you ain't ridin'
roun' in motor boats with no money to do it on. You'll stay right here
with me till you send for a messenger or telegraft or find some way to
have the money paid right over to me."

"How much do you want?" asked Ned.

"Three hundred dollars, my lad, and little enough that is to a young
millionaire like you."

"But I couldn't get that much, anyhow," gasped Ned.

"Then I'm werry sorry to be obleeged to state that you'll stay here
with me until yer do," responded Cap'n Briggs.

He cast a cunning glance at Ned from under his bushy brows out of his
bleary, blood-shot eyes. Then he dived into his pocket and produced a
large flask.

"I won't treat you no ways mean. Have a drink, matey?" he asked.

"I wouldn't touch the stuff," said Ned, who began to see a partial
reason for the captain's obstinacy.

The captain shrugged his shoulders and took a long pull. Then, wiping
his mouth with the back of his hand, he replaced the bottle and gave an
order to "Haul sheets and go about once more."

"Looks like I'm destined to get into tight places that I can never
explain to anyone's satisfaction," mournfully muttered Ned to himself,
as the little schooner yawed and pitched and finally clawed her way
round on the other tack.



CHAPTER XXIII.

THE TRAIL.


Herc decided to begin his investigation into Ned's mysterious
disappearance by making a canvass of the hotels on Civic Island. There
were not so very many of them, and by chance the third or fourth that
he struck was the one in which Ned had put up.

But he could not glean much information there. They informed him of the
hour that Ned had left the place, and further questioning elicited the
fact that, as we know, Ned had engaged a hack to convey him part way to
his destination.

Armed with this information, Herc, feeling not at all eased in his
mind, started out to find the hackman. He had a long search for the
man, but at last he discovered him in the person of a bulbous-nosed,
bibulous-looking old specimen of the genus hack-driver.

Yes, the man recollected Ned. Knew the very place he had dropped him.
Would he drive Herc out there? Certainly. Ned jumped into the rickety
old conveyance owned by the bulbous-nosed man, who rejoiced in the name
of Chuck Chiggins.

Chuck's bony old nag, in due time, landed the cab at the place where
Ned had left it. Herc could see the Neck stretching out tenuously
across the shining water. Telling Chuck to wait, he walked about for
an hour or more trying rather vaguely to locate at least some clew
to Ned's whereabouts. Needless almost is it to say, that he did not
succeed in his purpose. In fact it was more for the sake of doing
something to work off his anxiety that Herc made the idle search at all.

"The Neck appears ter be gittin' a pop'lar place lately," volunteered
Chuck, when Herc returned.

"How's that?" asked Herc disinterestedly, as he resumed his place and
told Chuck to drive back to the island.

"Why, it's jes' this way. Right arter your friend drove down this way,
I meets a Jap pluggin' along the road. He asks me to drive him to some
point near to the Neck."

"What's that?" Herc had suddenly galvanized into interest. A Jap! And
in the vicinity of the place where Ned was carrying on his confidential
observations! There was food for thought here.

The old cabby, with a look of astonishment at Herc's sudden and
vehement interest, repeated his story.

"He were a mighty onery looking Jap, too," he volunteered; "but, Lord
bless yer, if I was ter inquire into the character of everyone that
rode in this here cab, it's not much business that I'd be doin'."

As they jogged along over the sandy road, Herc had plenty of material
for reflection. Of course, it might be only a far-fetched conclusion,
but it appeared reasonable to suppose that the Jap whom Chuck had
driven was none other than Saki.

If this was the case, Herc was almost certain that the Oriental and
Kenworth had an appointment on the Neck. It was not likely, either,
that they were there for any legitimate purpose, inasmuch as one had
deserted from his ship and the other had overstayed his leave for the
purpose.

"I'm certain that their presence there meant harm to good old Ned,"
muttered Herc gloomily. "My! what a tangle this thing is getting into."

The old hack jolted over the bridge and began traversing the streets
of Civic Island. Ordinarily Herc would have found much to look at.
The Island is one of the most remarkable places in the vicinity of
New York. In summer the inlet between the island and the main land is
crowded with houseboats and pleasure craft of all kinds.

Its one main street, bordered by gimcrack restaurants and rickety
boarding-houses, interspersed with a few stores, is thronged with
white-garbed yachtsmen and girls in brightly colored blazers and
duck skirts. There is music everywhere, from wheezy orchestrions to
wandering string orchestras. It is a veritable summer city by the sea.
With the first blast of cold weather the pageant vanishes, and Civic
Island is deserted of its butterfly population almost overnight.

But there is another aspect to life on this remarkable island. On the
side opposite to that devoted to catering to the summer guests, is a
strange colony of beach-combers, fishermen and more or less languishing
boat-works. In this part of the island, too, are laid up the gaunt
skeletons of various yachts which have competed for the America Cup.

Useless for any purpose but that for which they were built, racing
machines pure and simple, the hulls of the once splendid sailing cracks
lie moldering on ancient ways, dreaming of the days when they skimmed
the seas with pyramids of snowy canvas rising above their deep-keeled
bodies. In this part of the island can be found gaunt, rat-haunted
factory buildings once devoted to sail-lofts and rope-walks. But
with the passing of this branch of maritime trade from Civic Island
the rickety structures with gaping windows and cracking boards stand
tenantless and moss-grown like so many stranded hulks, the tide washing
at the piles on which some of them extend out over the water.

They were passing along the lower end of the "summer resort" street
of the island when Herc gave a sudden exclamation. Before Chuck could
utter a word, Herc was out of the rig and bounding off down the
thoroughfare.

The old cabby had not even time to shout out indignantly that Herc
had forgotten the formality of paying his fare, before the tall,
red-headed youth had vanished round a corner, his long legs going like
piston rods.

The cause of Herc's sudden change from the cab to the street was this:

Rounding the corner, past which he himself dashed a moment later, he
had caught a glimpse of two backs that appeared strikingly familiar to
him.

Like a flash, the reason for this familiar appearance had come over him.

The two pedestrians who excited his attention were Kenworth, the
renegade midshipman, and Saki, the mysterious Jap.



CHAPTER XXIV.

THE JAPANESE STORE.


When Herc hit the sidewalk he utterly forgot all else in his anxiety
to follow and trace out the destination of the two he had so
providentially, he felt, sighted from the cab.

He had a feeling that if he could run them down without their observing
him, he would be able to discover the whereabouts of Ned, for the more
he pondered it, the more the Dreadnought Boy felt certain that the two
worthies he was trailing knew what had become of his chum.

He was perfectly correct in his prompt recognition of the two men. A
second glance as he cautiously negotiated the corner showed him that.

The pair, who no doubt felt perfectly secure, were walking along at
a moderate gait. From time to time they cast sharp glances at some
shabby-looking little shops as if in search of something.

It will, of course, be recalled that the last time we saw Saki and his
accomplice they were on the point of being precipitated into the stormy
sea, following the death-blow the schooner had dealt the frail motor
boat.

How they escaped a grave in the tumbling water rows we shall also learn
before long. But just now let us follow Herc as, slipping in and out
of doorways and taking advantage of every bit of cover, like a trained
detective, he follows them.

As they did not look back, Herc's task was rendered considerably more
easy of accomplishment than would otherwise have been the case. He
kept, however, some yards to the rear in order to guard against the
danger of being recognized.

The fact that he was in "mufti" or citizen's clothes was in his favor.
Young Taylor, in his not very stylish gray suit, was an inconspicuous
person compared with the somewhat swaggering air he bore when he was in
Uncle Sam's uniform.

They were leaving behind them the street that was crowded with
summer-garbed promenaders. The stores were small and of no attraction.
Dingy, uncleaned windows and slatternly-looking merchants began to make
their appearance.

At the foot of the down-at-heel side street, Herc could catch a glimpse
of water and could sight the barn-like outlines of some of the deserted
factories already referred to.

"Where in the world can they be bound?" he found himself wondering.

Could he have known the events of the last twelve hours, he would also
have wondered at their being there at all. It is not given to everyone
to come as close to the grim scythe of death and to escape scot-free as
Saki and Kenworth had done.

As it happened, Herc was not destined to have to wait long before his
curiosity was, at least in part, gratified. The two men came to an
abrupt halt in front of a store that was even more dingy in appearance
than its neighbors. Grass was sprouting through the cracks in the
rickety wooden sidewalk in front of it, and, so far as Herc could see,
from the distance he was obliged to keep, the establishment bore no
outward and visible sign of the goods for sale within. Yet its big,
dirty window showed that it was a store of some sort.

Herc dodged into a doorway as the two men came to a standstill in front
of this place. By peeping cautiously out he was able to ascertain that
they had apparently reached their destination. At any rate, he saw Saki
step up to the door and open it.

Then the portal swallowed them both, and Herc was left alone on the
solitary by-street.

"Umph, what's the next move?" he muttered to himself. "Looks like it's
up to me to do something, but I'll be keel-hauled if I can think right
now just what that 'something' is."

He paused irresolute. Then suddenly he came to action. He had decided
to cross the street and reconnoiter from there, where he could obtain a
view of the place the two men he was tracking had entered.

The maneuver did not take long, and was accomplished so far as the lad
could see, without his being detected, or indeed the slightest notice
being taken of him. So far, so good. Herc gazed across the street at
the forlorn-looking place the two men had entered.

It was painted a dirty red, the pigment blistered and peeling off
in big patches as if the structure was suffering from some sort of
unclean leprosy. A jagged crack ran across the show window, which was
too thickly grimed with dirt to permit the goods offered within to be
displayed to passers-by, if, indeed, any stock in trade was on view.
Above the lower floor, the second story was equally inscrutable. The
windows were veiled like closed eyes, with dark green shades of a faded
hue. Above, came the roof, a steep-pitched, shingled affair, which
surmounted the house like a battered hat on a shabby man.

"Now what," mused Herc, "now what business can take a midshipman of
Uncle Sam's navy into such a place in company with a yellow-skinned
deserter of a wardroom steward?"

Although it had not at first attracted his attention, he now became
aware that there was a name over the door. It was in letters that had
once been gilt but were now almost as black and faded as the board that
bore them.

"H. Nagasaki. Dealer in Cigars and Tobacco, Candy and Notions," was
what Herc read.

"Sounds innocent enough," he said. "I know that fellow Kenworth is an
inveterate cigarette smoker,--which accounts for his narrow chest and
pasty face,--and maybe they went in there to get some."

For an instant or two Herc stood at pause, undetermined what course to
pursue, but eying the doorway through which the two men had passed.
While he stood thus, hesitant, the figure of another customer appeared
in front of the Japanese store and passed within.

This gave Herc, situated as he was, a chance to observe the interior of
the place. He saw that within was a counter and at the further end of
the store a flight of stairs.

Up this flight of stairs, Herc glimpsed in the brief time the door
was open the figures of Kenworth and Saki. They were in the act of
ascending the stairway.

"Now what----?" mused Herc, and then he stopped short.

A bold thought had sprung unbidden into his mind. That the tumble-down,
blighted store on the opposite side of the street held the secret of
Ned's whereabouts, Herc felt suddenly convinced.

Acting almost without conscious volition, he crossed the street, and
the next instant boldly flung open the door of "H. Nagasaki's" place
and passed within.



CHAPTER XXV.

A BOX OF MATCHES.


The change from the bright sunlight without to the dim and dusty
interior of the store was, at first, almost blinding to Herc. Before
entering he had taken the precaution to pull the front of his soft hat
down over his eyes, for, as will be recalled, he was wearing civilian
clothing. This did not help to make things clearer to his vision in the
gloom.

His first impression was of a large apartment, bare of floor and wall,
with a set of dusty show cases placed at one side behind a rickety
counter. It did not look like a store where much business of the kind
it ostensibly catered to was transacted.

All this confirmed Herc's growing suspicions that the place was
conducted as a blind. That it was nothing more than a haunt for
Japanese spies and those allied with them in their schemes against
Uncle Sam.

A soft voice, a voice with a purring inflection as silky as that of a
cream-fed cat, broke on his ears.

"What will the gentleman please to 'ave?"

Herc saw that a small, spectacled Japanese had glided rather than
stepped in behind the counter, and now stood regarding the new customer
with a face that might as well have been a mask for all the expression
it conveyed.

It is a curious fact, but Herc, who up to that moment had acted the
part of a bold investigator, suddenly found himself embarrassed. He
struggled to find an answer to the simple question that had been put to
him. This Jap behind the counter regarded him with growing suspicion.

"You come in for something--a cigar, maybe?" he purred.

"Yes--oh, yes,--give me--give me a box of matches," blurted out Herc
desperately.

"A box of matches? Veree well."

The Jap turned deftly to the show cases behind him, and inserting a
long fingered hand in a drawer, drew out the required article. Herc
fumbled in his pocket for the change necessary, but in so doing he drew
out a navy button, cut from his first uniform, with the small silver.

As he extended a nickel across the counter, with no very clear idea as
to what he was to do next, he had the misfortune, for so he presently
perceived it to be, to drop this pocket piece.

It fell with a jingling sound and before he could pick it up, the Jap
was out from behind the counter and had grasped and was extending it to
him.

"A navee button," said he suavely. "The honorable gentleman is in the
service of the so estimable Uncle Sam?"

There was one thing that Herc could not do, at no matter what cost,
and that was to lie. Yet he had important reasons for not wishing his
service to become known to the Jap. So he compromised.

"Yes, it's a navy button," he said pocketing it.

"Ah; it is a fine service," said the Jap, with a swift appraising look
at Herc, and at the red hair that showed under his pulled-down hat. "I
often deplore that I am Japanese and so cannot to enter it."

"Yet there are Japs in the navy," said Herc, and then with one of those
incautious bursts which Ned so often deprecated, he rushed on, "one
came in here just now,--Saki, do you know him?"

From behind the spectacles a swift look of comprehension flashed into
the Jap's eyes, and then died out again like a suddenly extinguished
fire.

"Saki? I no know heem," he said.

"Humph, I _am_ on the right trail," exclaimed Herc to himself. "This
fellow knows all about Ned. I'm afraid, also, that he is suspicious of
me, but that can't be helped now."

"If you will wait one minute, I will bring you change," came the silky
voice of the Jap. "Matches are one penny, you give me one nickel."

"All right, get the change. I'll wait for you," said Herc, trying
to mask his anxiety to penetrate the secrets of this place under an
appearance of indifference.

The Jap, with one swift backward glance at Herc, glided off and up the
same stairway that Herc had seen Saki and Kenworth ascend. So he was
going to join them and doubtless tell them of his suspicions. Herc was
in a quandary.

If he left the place to give the alarm to the authorities, by the time
he came back the birds might have flown and with them all clew to Ned.
On the other hand, he could not, single-handed, face the whole nest of
them.

But the next instant came another thought. After all, the place was
not on the outposts of civilization. It was policed just as any other
well-ordered district. Not a block away were gay summer cafés and
promenaders. What harm could come to him here?

It was while his mind was busied with these reflections that Herc's eye
fell on the door at the end of the store, already mentioned.

Where did it lead to? Perhaps to Ned's prison place. Herc glanced
about him. The store was empty. Outside someone passed along whistling
gaily. After all, he had nothing to fear and all to gain, if he could
ascertain something concerning Ned's fate.

With half a dozen swift strides, Herc was across the store and at the
rear door.

He fumbled with the latch an instant and then the portal swung open.
Beyond was a dark passage. This rather surprised Herc, who had surmised
that the door gave on to a back yard or another street, and who had
thought that in case of emergency it might be utilized as a means of
escape.

It was at this moment that a murmur of voices reached his ears. Several
persons were seemingly descending the stairway up which the spectacled
Jap had passed to procure change.

Herc was about to dart for the front door when he heard a sudden sharp
clicking sound.

As if by intuition he guessed what it meant. By some mechanical means a
bolt had been shot and he was trapped. He sped back again to the rear
door. Darting through it, he dashed into the dark passage beyond. Then
he suddenly checked himself. Why not secure that rear door from the
inside?

But a second's fumbling in the dark showed him that there was no means
of doing this.

The voices grew louder. They swelled to an angry clamor. Herc hastily
slammed the door and plunged forward into the blackness. As he ran, he
heard the trample of feet behind him and knew that the hunt was up and
that he was the quarry.



CHAPTER XXVI.

MYSTERIES.


All that day, against head winds and tides, Captain Briggs' schooner
clawed her way around Staten Island. Nightfall found her making her
way up the staked channel in Raritan Bay with a fair breeze, and the
bibulous skipper was in good humor. He even condescended to joke and
laugh with Ned, who stood glumly by the wheel, watching the clumsy
handling of the broad-beamed old craft.

Ned had indulged in much speculation concerning Captain Briggs and his
craft since he had become what he felt was virtually a prisoner on
board her. He was puzzled to make out the vessel's mission. Captain
Briggs waxed more and more mysterious as the contents of the bottle and
the sun together grew lower. From time to time he threw out hints,
which only served the purpose of further mystification.

The Dreadnought Boy began to think that he was on board a smuggler. It
was the only conclusion he could reach, although he was actually miles
beside the mark in his guess.

As it grew dusk, the schooner was brought up opposite a sandy,
desolate-looking stretch of ground on the Jersey shore. It was a
brush-grown point with here and there steep, reddish-colored miniature
cliffs, where landslides had occurred in the sandy earth.

On the summit of the point a tall, white semaphore, like some grotesque
skeleton, spread its arms against the sky. A chill wind blew off shore.
Ned felt that he had reached the last spot in civilization, even though
off in the distance on the Staten Island shore the smoke from the
factory chimneys of Tottenville could be seen like a dark and sooty
pall.

Ned was wondering whether they were going to anchor there, when his
unspoken question was answered by the rattle of the schooner's hawser
as the rusty mud-hook dropped into the yellow, turbid tide.

"Well, of all queer cruises, this is the queerest," mused Ned, as he
leaned against the rail and watched Captain Briggs bringing his craft
to an anchorage.

He could not forbear smiling at the captain's importance as he issued
his orders. A rear admiral on his own quarter-deck could not have been
a bit more pompous or consequential.

At last all was arranged to Captain Briggs' satisfaction, and the
schooner, under bare poles, swung at anchor.

"What's coming now?" wondered Ned, as he saw the captain come sidling
toward him like a red-nosed crab, if such a thing can be imagined.

He was not left long in doubt. The captain eyed him with an oddly
embarrassed air for a few seconds and then he spoke.

"Seeing as how I'm looking to get a bit of money out of you, mate,"
he said at length, with a sidewise squint out of his red-rimmed eyes,
"maybe what I'm agoin' to do ain't just right. But," and here the
captain strengthened his resolution with a draft out of his bottle,
"but," he resumed, wiping his lips with the back of his hand, "what's
got to be has got to be, ain't it?"

"Certainly," said Ned, with a smile at the captain's rather obvious
logic.

"And that bein' the case, it will be, I reckon?" pursued the captain
with the air of one propounding a profound question.

Again Ned agreed. This time he signified his entire understanding of
the captain's views by a nod of his head.

"Well," resumed the skipper, "it's got to be that you've got to go
below, and----"

"Go below?" repeated Ned indignantly. "See here, Captain Briggs, don't
you think you're carrying this thing a little far?"

"I dunno as I am, and if I am, why, then, I dunno as it's any of your
clamjamfried business," retorted the captain. "You wasn't asked to come
on board this here fine vessel, was yer?"

"Certainly not, and as you know I'm more grateful than I can say to you
for saving my life. But when----"

The captain shut Ned off with a wave of his hand.

"Least said, soonest mended," he remarked. "You an' me 'ull have our
talk 'bout that later on. Cap'n Briggs, he gets paid fer his salvage,
be it human or 'totherwise. The p'int is this, you've got to go below."

"But what is your object in confining me in that stuffy cabin?"
objected Ned. "Let me stay on deck and I'll pledge you my word that I
wouldn't have a chance to escape from you,--that is, if you persist in
your insane idea that I have wealthy relatives who will pay handsomely
for my ransom."

"'Tain't ransom, it's a man's rights," objected Captain Briggs; "but as
I said before, tain't no manner o' use wasting of words. Below I want
yer to go, and below you will go."

"If I refuse?"

"Wa'al," insinuated Captain Briggs, with a glance at his crew, who, as
if they had been warned in advance, stood watching the scene, "wa'al,
I op-pine t'wouldn't be just healthy like fer you to refuse. There's
a heap of persuasion in a handspike and plenty of good argument in a
capstan bar."

"What, you would dare to use violence on me? Maybe two can play at that
game."

Ned's eyes flashed; his fists clenched. Yet he knew that he must
control his temper with this pig-headed old mariner.

"I'll use violence, or anything else I please, to hev my orders carried
out," flared out Captain Briggs. "Now then, are you going below
peaceable or do we hev ter make yer?"

"Why are you so anxious to have me out of the way?" asked Ned. "What
sort of nefarious business are you in?"

"Ain't in no 'farious business," bellowed the captain. "I'm an honest
man, I am. But I'm on secret business,--business of the navy, ef you
must know. Business fer the Blue fleet, as they calls it, ef you must
know. Now will you go below?"

"Very well, if I must, I must," muttered Ned, with feigned reluctance,
for at that instant he would not have left Captain Briggs' shabby
little schooner for a king's ransom.

"Business for the Blue fleet." Could it be that Fate, by ways devious
for even that uncertain goddess, had led his feet into the arcanum of
the Blue fleet's secrets?

As Ned descended the cabin stairs into the malodorous little cabin, he
determined to find out before he was many hours older the exact meaning
of Captain Briggs' remark.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THROUGH THE CRACK IN THE WALL.


As Ned's feet sounded on the boards of the stuffy little cuddy, he
heard a sharp "bang" above him and then the grating of a rusty iron
bolt, as it was shot to, making him a prisoner.

The sound of the grating bolt and the sense that he was a captive, even
though in a sense a voluntary one, made Ned see "red" for an instant.

"So they couldn't even trust to my word!" he muttered angrily to
himself; and then, "All this precaution shows that there is something
very out of the ordinary going forward. Something, too, that unless I
miss my guess is in the line of my commission to find out. Gee whiz,
I'd give a lot to know right now what is at the bottom of all this
how-d'ye-do!"

Ned cast himself down on a transom. For a time silence reigned on deck.
Then he became aware of a trampling of feet above him and the sound of
hoarse voices hailing.

"Somebody coming alongside," surmised Ned, with ready apprehension of
what was going forward. "It must be dark by this time. Clearly whatever
their business is, it is such that does not bear the light of day for
its transaction."

The noise on deck continued. Ned scrutinized his place of captivity for
some means of seeing without its confines. But except for the scuttle
which had been secured, the cabin was without openings. No port-holes
or air vents were visible.

"If only I could see out," he muttered, "that would help some."

Then came more voices outside. Above them sounded sharp, authoritative
tones.

"By the great bow gun, whoever is giving orders out there is a
man-o'-war's-man!" exclaimed the Dreadnought Boy. "Something _is_ in
the wind in connection with the Blue fleet beyond a doubt. By hookey, I
may be on the verge of making some discovery which will be invaluable
to our side."

He listened greedily now. His trained ears had not deceived him. It
was a man-o'-war "steamer" that had glided up to Captain Briggs'
down-at-heel craft. She now lay alongside, while her crew of Jackies
hustled up upon the schooner's dirty decks and their leader, a petty
officer, greeted Captain Briggs.

"We'll get to work just as soon as you're ready," grunted Captain
Briggs to this individual, who had introduced himself as Gunner's Mate
Steffens of the destroyer _Truxton_.

Presently, to Ned in the cabin below, came the sounds of hurrying
action on deck. He heard the blows of hammers as the battens were
ripped off hatchways and the cargo of the schooner, whatever it was,
lay ready for the broachers.

There was a partition forward in the cabin, and Ned guessed that beyond
it must lie the hold with its mysterious contents. He stationed himself
against the bulkhead awaiting developments.

While he stood there listening to the creaking of blocks and tackles,
as apparatus for transferring the cargo of the schooner to the
"steamer" was in process of rigging, his eye was caught by a sudden
gleam of light.

The cabin was dark, so he the more easily saw the long, thin slice
of radiance that he was not long in finding out leaked through a
longitudinal crack in the bulkhead, which was of the flimsiest
construction.

Clearly enough, the hold was illuminated by the cargo broachers and
this light filtered through from it. Ned lost no time in applying an
eye to the crack thus luckily revealed.

He stood at gaze for a moment or two, his optic riveted to the crack.
Then he started back with an exclamation.

"Great ginger! Talk about luck! Why, this is the very thing the
commander was anxious to find out about. I heard him talking it over
with some of the officers. He mentioned it, too, in my instructions."

Ned applied himself afresh to the crack. He might have been carved out
of stone, so motionless did he stand there.

In the hold beyond, all was confusion, shouts, trampling feet and
activity.

One after another big boxes and bales were hoisted out to be lowered
into the waiting steamer. Through his crack Ned overheard enough to
show him that the cargo was being transferred as fast as was possible
under cover of the night.

As soon as she was filled to her capacity, the steamer scurried off
and then returned again for a fresh cargo. From the brevity of
these intervals of absence, Ned was able to argue that wherever the
mysterious cargo was being taken, that place at least was not very far
off.

More than likely it was some spot along the lonesome shore. In fact,
Ned now recalled that below the skeleton-like semaphore he had noticed
the decaying remnants of what had plainly enough once been a dock. If
it was desired to land the schooner's cargo in secret, what more likely
spot would offer for the disposal of it than this abandoned dock on a
desolate shore?

Ned had seen enough of what was going forward in the hold and overheard
enough, too, to convince him of the nature of the cargo that was being
landed.

By a stroke of fortune that seemed almost miraculous, he had, or he was
very much mistaken, stumbled upon the headquarters of the Aero division
of the Blue fleet.

The cargo of the schooner consisted of supplies brought from the
government station at Newport for the "Flying Squadron." There
is hardly a boy in the land who does not know of the tremendous
importance attached by modern governments to the aeroplane, or the
hydro-aeroplane, as an adjunct to a battle fleet in time of war.

Readers of "The Dreadnought Boys on Aero Service" are aware that Ned
was proficient enough in this branch of the service to realize at
once the importance of the discovery he had made. He knew, too, that
according to reports, the Blue fleet's main attack was to be made by
war-aeroplanes. It was ignorance of the number and location of these
flying harpies of the air that had caused the authorities of the Red
fleet much anxiety. To be "technically dynamited" by a squadron of
aeroplanes would result in almost certain defeat.

Small wonder was it then that Ned's heart leaped in elation as he
realized that he had stumbled by sheer good luck upon the information
wanted. But mingled with his delight came a sobering reflection.

He might have located the Blue's Aero fleet; but he was hardly in a
position to put his knowledge to much practical use.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

HERC'S SUBTERFUGE.


On down the dark passage dashed Herc. As he sped he extended both hands
in front of him. For all he knew he might be dashing into an ambush. It
was all too plain now that the place into which he had so cheerfully
blundered was of a sinister character.

Suddenly his finger tips encountered something solid that the next
instant gave way before them.

A door swung open. Herc found himself in a large room, cluttered with
rusty tools, benches, and boxes. High on one wall was a window, through
the unwashed panes of which a gray light sifted wanly into the vacant
room beneath.

The room was plainly enough a cul-de-sac. There was no means of
entering or leaving it, except by the door through which Herc had
come,--that is, if the lofty window be excepted.

Pantingly the Dreadnought Boy looked about him. He must have a hiding
place and that quickly. If he was to be of any use to Ned, it would be
the worst thing that could happen if he, too, were to be made prisoner.

Poor Herc, if he had only known the true state of affairs! But with his
customary impulsiveness the red-headed boy had followed his nose, and
as not infrequently happened in Herc's affairs, it had led him into
trouble.

"This place must be a perfect nest of Japanese spies," he mused to
himself, as he gazed swiftly about. "Poor old Ned, they've trapped him
and got him hidden away some place. But they won't get me so easily!"

He listened an instant. Footsteps were coming down the passage now.

"They've guessed I came this way. In fact, they couldn't very well
help doing it," thought Herc.

He glanced up at the window above him. Would it be possible to escape
that way?

With frenzied haste he began pulling a dusty bench from one corner
and flinging upon it the old boxes with which the room was littered.
But his time was all too short. Herc had to give over his labors half
completed at the nearer approach of footsteps.

"I've got to hide some place, and that right quickly," he muttered,
glancing about him in every direction.

Herc darted for the dimmest corner and crouched behind a large open box
that stood there.

He had just time to squeeze himself back of it and draw it over him
like the shell of a tortoise when the door was burst open.

Half a dozen men, headed by Kenworth, Saki and the spectacled Jap,
burst into the room. They gazed wildly about them.

"Why--why, he's not here!" gasped out Kenworth. "The red-headed fox has
escaped!"

"Eem-poss-ible," the spectacled Jap informed him. "There is no way of
getting out this room."

"Then he must be here," declared Saki sententiously; "we must find him.
He is one of the most dangerous enemies we have got. He is even worse
than that Ned Strong, whose body now lies at the bottom of the Sound,
for the meddling fool that he was."

"Yes, he is drowned and out of the way," rejoined Kenworth, "and it was
we, after all, that had the good fortune to be picked up by a fishing
boat after drifting about in our life belts for hours, and to be
brought ashore here. And now, confound it, just when everything looks
like smooth sailing, Mister Red Head has to bob up and spoil it all."

"Never mind that now," said Saki briskly, "he cannot have gone far. We
must find him."

"He must be in this room," declared the spectacled Jap; "he could not
get out except----"

He stopped short, gazing at the pile of boxes on the rickety bench.
They stood right under the high window.

Kenworth was the first to read his thoughts.

"Could he have escaped that way?" he asked.

"I will ask you another question, honorable Kenworth," was the reply.
"Could he climb?"

"Climb!" repeated the renegade midshipman with scorn. "Why, man, both
those Dreadnought Boys would go in places that it would puzzle a cat to
find a footing."

"Then there is your answer. He has escaped by the window."

"Confusion!"

"Yes; but he cannot get far."

"Why not?"

"That window opens on to a roof."

"Yes."

"The roof was once an extension, but now it is blocked in on all sides
by the high walls of abandoned sail lofts."

"Then if he did get up there, he is a prisoner?"

"Without doubt."

"Good." The midshipman's face was flushed with malicious triumph. "He
can't escape us this time. Saki, somebody, help me up, quick. This time
he'll not get away. One Dreadnought Boy is at the bottom of the Sound.
In a few minutes the other will be our prisoner."



CHAPTER XXIX.

TABLES TURNED--TWICE!


Herc, crouched within the stifling confines of the upturned packing
case, heard the recorded conversation with a sinking heart. After all,
then, he had been mistaken. Ned was not in the place.

Some casualty of which he had no knowledge had occurred and in the
catastrophe in some way Ned, his chum, his shipmate, had been drowned.
Right then Herc would not have given a straw for his own life. The
thought that Ned had perished, beat into his heart like a death knell.

Careless of what the consequences to himself might be, he was about to
declare himself and trust to his fists to fight his way to liberty,
when he hesitated.

Kenworth, he knew by this time to be a miscreant and perverter of
the truth. Was it not possible, then, that he had purposely aired the
report of Ned's supposed death in the hope that he (Herc) might hear
him and in a moment of desperation give himself up?

The theory, based on what the Dreadnought Boy knew of the renegade
midshipman, was at least tenable. After a moment's reflection Herc, now
that the first shock was over, found himself unable to entertain the
thought of Ned's death. It was impossible to believe that Ned Strong,
the resourceful, the brave, had perished as Kenworth had described.
If a weakling like the midshipman had escaped whatever disaster had
happened, it was incredible that Ned had not saved himself.

"Give me a leg up, Saki,--quick; I want to be the first to confront
that red-headed idiot."

It was Kenworth speaking again. Herc heard the others hoist more boxes
on the top of his pile and then came the sound of scrambling feet
ascending the wobbly pyramid.

"Oh, what a sell for them when they find the roof is empty," chuckled
Herc to himself. "I'd give a whole lot just to see their faces."

But with this reflection came another thought. When they found the
roof tenantless, would they not make a further search of the room?
Undoubtedly, and once they began turning things over, one of the first
things they would discover would be Herc.

Under certain conditions Herc's mind worked quickly. It did so now. A
sudden idea flashed into his head.

In a trice he had slipped out of his box and stood free. Kenworth had
already chinned himself through the window and Saki was following him.
In the room were only the spectacled Jap, the white man whom Herc had
observed enter the place earlier, and one or two other Japs and white
men, all hard-looking characters.

As Herc emerged from his box there came a shout from Kenworth on the
roof.

"Confound it all, he's not here!"

"Whoop-ee! No, he isn't; he's right here! Wow!" Like a human battering
ram, Herc charged at the pile of boxes. Crash! Bang!

The Dreadnought Boy's broad shoulder struck the wobbly pedestal like
the prow of a battleship.

"Look out for squalls!" he yelled, as the boxes, in a crashing
avalanche, came toppling down. The uproar was deafening.

Stricken temporarily to immobility by the suddenness of the whole
thing, the spectacled Jap and the others stood spellbound for an
instant as the red-headed youth, having demolished the pile of boxes,
came charging at them with his bullet head bent over like a young
bull's. As he rushed ferociously at them Herc gave vent to a blood
curdling yell.

"Wow! Whoop-ee! Stand aside for the human torpedo!" he bellowed.

Saki, who had been in the act of clambering from the boxes through the
window when the box pile collapsed, hung teetering from its ledge with
his feet beating a tattoo on thin air. He was howling piteously for aid.

But right then things were moving far too swiftly for anyone to pay the
least attention to the luckless Jap.

Herc's red head struck the spectacled Jap in the stomach and butted him
clean across the room. He fell jammed into one of the empty packing
cases and remained there, his legs waving feebly as though imploring
help. One of the hard-looking white men tried to intercept Herc as he
dashed for the door, but at the same instant he felt as if a tornado
had struck him and he, too, doubled up and went to the floor with a
crash.

From the roof came a loud shout from Kenworth.

"What the dickens----!"

He did not need to ask any more. One glance through the window showed
him what was happening in the room below him: showed him, too, that he
was marooned on the roof even as he had hoped to find Herc.

"Help me! help me!" howled Saki. "No can hold on much longer!"

"Confound you, this is all your fault," shouted Kenworth, beside
himself with chagrin. "Hey there! Kester! Vaux! hold that fellow! Don't
let him get away; it means all our necks in a halter if you do!"

The two men addressed attempted to seize Herc. But they might as well
have tried to capture a young hurricane. The red-headed lad's fighting
blood was up. As they tried to intercept him, he rushed them and
catching them both around the legs, he brought them down in one grand
smash.

As they fell, their heads bumped together with a noise like a pistol
shot.

"No more trouble from them," chuckled Herc gleefully.

The red-headed lad was beginning to enjoy himself. The Japs who alone
were left standing, were huddled in one corner of the room out of the
way of the "white demon with the head of flames."

"Any more?" howled Herc gleefully, and went charging for the door
leading into the dark passage. His plan was made. Once he gained the
front shop, he meant to force his way out to the street, if possible
through the locked portal. If he could not batter his way out there, he
meant to smash a window and run at top speed for the authorities.

But as he dashed for the door, there came a yell of dismay and the
noise of a heavy fall behind him. Kenworth, half through the window,
had been trying to assist Saki. But he lost his balance just as the
weight of the Jap came on him, and together he and Saki had come
crashing down to the floor of the room below.

Luckily for them, the two men that Herc had just attended to lay there
and their bodies broke the force of the fall. Not injured in the least,
owing to this--for him--lucky accident, Kenworth was on his feet again
in the wink of an eyelid.

As Herc's form vanished through the doorway, he drew a revolver and
in the insane fury of his rage, fired a shot at the Dreadnought Boy's
fleeing form. Herc felt the breeze of the bullet as it winged past him
and buried itself harmlessly in the wall.

"Blaze away!" he shouted. "In five minutes' time I'll have the whole
boiling of you in----"

The sentence was not completed. In the room he had left behind him, the
spectacled Jap, who had recovered his wits, had darted for a lever in
the wall. He pulled it toward him.

At the same instant, Herc felt the floor of the passage drop from under
his feet and found himself falling, falling, falling into a black
void, while fires and lightnings wheeled and darted wildly through his
confused brain.



CHAPTER XXX.

IN FRESH TERROR.


Herc landed with a crash on something soft and yielding. For an instant
or two he actually found himself wondering if he had been killed, but
as soon as his rudely jolted senses reasserted themselves he found
that, thanks to the soft substance he had landed upon, he was not even
sprained.

"Well, here's a nice kettle of fish!" exclaimed Herc to himself,
rubbing his head ruefully. "I'm a whole lot worse off now than I was
before."

He sat up and tried to collect his thoughts. A moment's reflection
placed him pretty well in possession of the facts as they were. He
had been dashing at top speed down the dark passage when he suddenly
found himself precipitated into space. There had been no trap-door or
opening in the passage when he came down it before, of that he was
certain; therefore it was plain that some sort of device must have been
operated to open a pitfall under his feet and prevent his escape.

"The question now is, though, where am I?" mused Herc.

All about him was velvety blackness, so dark that it could almost be
felt. The air was filled with an odd kind of musty odor, a damp reek as
of some place infested with fungus growth and unclean things.

"Some sort of a cellar," thought the lad, "and it's not likely there's
any way out of it but the way I came. There might be a ladder there, of
course, but I didn't notice it as I came down. Ouch! what a bump! I'm
lucky it didn't break every bone in my body."

Herc felt in his pockets for his matchbox. Having found it, he struck a
lucifer. By its light he made a brief but comprehensive survey of his
surroundings.

He had fallen on a rotting pile of what appeared to be old sails,
or canvas from which sails were made. From this he judged that
the structure above him must have been at some time occupied by
sail-makers, and that this cellar had formed a sort of rubbish heap for
the refuse of the place.

For the rest, the lighting of another match showed him that the cellar
was about eighty feet square and evidently extended under the whole of
the house above. There was no means of egress, and he could not even
see the trap-door above him through which he had made such a hasty
entrance into the place.

The walls were smooth, and made of some sort of cement. There was no
hope of scaling them, even had there been anything to gain by such a
proceeding. So far as he could see, Herc was in as effectual a trap as
it would have been possible to devise. Only a ladder could do him any
good, and so far as obtaining that was concerned, he felt that he might
just as well wish for anything impossible of attainment.

But Herc was not the sort of lad to give anything up without making a
try to better his condition. As soon as his head, which had been sadly
shaken in his fall, stopped aching a little, he got up from the pile of
old sails and began a further examination of the cellar.

The first thing that struck him was that the floor was very wet. Slimy,
slippery mud was under foot and a green weed grew wherever it could
secure a roothold. His next discovery was that the walls were marked
near to the top of the cellar by a distinct line.

Above this line their color was the dirty gray of the cement; but
below, it was stained green as if from the action of water. Herc
puzzled a good deal over this. He could not account for it by any
theory of mere dampness. Just then he was far indeed from guessing its
true significance.

One thing, however, he was sure of: the cellar was close to the sea,
for the sharp, acrid tang of the salt water mingled with the damp,
decaying odor of the place, like a healthy, wholesome influence in a
fever-stricken hospital ward.

His survey completed, Herc sank back on his pile of old sails to think
matters over further. Not that he felt that there was really anything
to be considered, save the fact that he was helpless and must depend
upon outside aid for escaping from his predicament.

But no outside aid, he knew, was likely to reach him there. He wondered
what was going to become of him. Since he had taken that plunge through
the suddenly opened trap, he had heard nothing from above, no trample
of feet, no sound of voices.

Was it possible that those in the house had deserted it precipitately
and had left him there to perish miserably like a rat in a hole?
The thought chilled the hot blood in his veins and started the cold
perspiration on his forehead. Herc was no coward, but the thought of
facing death alone in that dark, dank hole might have unmanned many a
sterner soul than he.

In his despair at the thought that he had been abandoned to his fate,
Herc set up shout upon shout. But after a time he stopped this as being
a useless waste of strength which it behooved him to husband for he
knew not what emergency. Herc was not a lad given to beating about the
bush. He faced the bald facts as he found them, and in the present
situation he was unable to discover one crumb of comfort.

Then, too, what Kenworth had said about Ned kept recurring to his mind
with disquieting effect. He could not bring himself to believe that Ned
was, as the midshipman had said, dead at the bottom of the Sound; but
nevertheless the idea kept repeating itself over and over in his mind
dishearteningly.

"What a fool I was ever to come in here at all," he muttered to himself
bitterly. "It all comes of following my nose. Every time I do it, I
land in trouble--but this is just about the worst ever. I wonder----"

He broke off short in his half spoken meditations.

A sudden sound had arrested his attention. At first he could not
identify it and then suddenly he realized what it was. The tinkle of
running water! Water was coming into the cellar from somewhere.

Ned stretched out his fingers for his matchbox, which he had placed
near to him, and struck a light. As the lucifer flared up an
exclamation of dismay broke from the Dreadnought Boy's lips.

"Good gracious!"

Over the floor of the cellar a thin layer of water, perhaps an inch
deep, had spread like a liquid carpet. It had not yet reached Herc on
his pile of sails, but even while the match burned, he could see that
the water was rising.

Chilled with a nameless dread he struck another match. This time he saw
where the water was coming from. It was flowing in from an iron-barred
vent near the floor of the place, which had escaped him on his previous
survey.

At the same instant, Herc thought of the green stain on the cellar
walls; that regular line of demarcation limned with greenish water-weed.

Then like a thunder-clap the hideous truth burst upon him: The cellar
was below the water level and the water flowing into it was tidal. It
came from the sea and rose till it reached that regular high-water mark
he had noticed on the cellar wall.

As he realized all this, a shout of terror broke, despite himself, from
Herc's lips. Was this to be his fate, his destiny, to perish in this
dark, hidden place beneath the waters of the incoming tide?

"Help!" he shouted at the top pitch of his lungs. "Help!"

But the lapping of the water as it slowly and remorselessly rose was
the only reply to his wild outburst.



CHAPTER XXXI.

NED'S ESCAPE.


At length the confusion and uproar in the hold of Captain Briggs'
schooner died away. The work of unloading the craft was completed.

Ned glanced at his watch. It was close on midnight. He wondered if now
that the schooner had been emptied of her secret cargo, his hour of
release had come.

But apparently it was no part of Captain Briggs's plan to set his
prisoner at liberty just then. At any rate, nobody came near Ned.

He felt strangely lonely now that the tumult had died out, to be
succeeded by a death-like stillness. But after a time, during which
he sought in vain for a lamp to light up the cabin, Ned was able to
distinguish some sounds that broke the silence.

The sounds were nasal and were in three keys. In fact, it did not take
Ned long to distinguish in his own mind the loud snoring of Captain
Briggs from the gruntings and snortings of his crew.

The night was warm and they were plainly enough taking their rest on
deck after the arduous labors of the night. Inasmuch as the schooner
lay in a lonely cove out of the path of navigation, it was also evident
that Captain Briggs had not bothered to set a bright watch.

"Now is my chance," thought Ned, "if only I could figure on some way of
getting out of this coop."

He sat on the transom a while, buried in thought. He was revolving
in his mind the strange events of the last twenty-four hours and the
possible effect they would have upon his future.

Well did Ned know that his absence from his ship must have been noticed
by this time. He wondered what Commander Dunham was thinking. He
speculated, and the thought was not a pleasant one, on the chances of
his being deemed derelict to his duty, and being supplanted by someone
else.

The Dreadnought Boy knew the iron rules of the navy, laws as inflexible
as those of the Medes and Persians. He might be deprived of his
temporary commission without even a chance to explain all that had
happened. One thought cheered him. Come what might, he at least had
safe within his pocket the book of plans by which Kenworth and Saki set
such store.

He hoped that if the worst came to the worst, the signal service he had
rendered his country in redeeming these from the desperate hands of the
spy and the renegade would at least plead some extenuation for him.

"Confound that old shell-back of a Briggs," growled Ned to himself; "if
it hadn't been for him I might have been back with my ship by this
time. As it is----"

Captain Briggs' stentorian snore filled in the pause eloquently. "At
any rate," muttered Ned, "he's safe off in the land of Nod; so, to
judge by the sounds, are his crew. What's the matter with--Jove! I'll
try it."

He ascended the cabin stairway and began cautiously to fumble with
the fastenings of the companionway scuttle. He did not dare make much
noise, as, although he was fairly sure that Captain Briggs was beyond
an easy awakening, yet the risk of rousing him was an imminent one.

Like everything else about Captain Briggs' schooner, the scuttle, now
that Ned came to prove it, did not appear to be over and above secure.

"I believe that with good luck I can force it clean off its hinges,"
murmured Ned as he investigated.

Indeed it seemed so. The door worked about on its hinges so freely, it
showed that those attachments were not securely fastened or else, as
was more likely, the wood had rotted about the screws.

Ned possessed a good stock of patience and he took plenty of time,
working the door about till it moved easily. Then he placed his
shoulder to it and gave a gentle but strong heave. The screws drew out
of the rotten wood as if they had been fastened into cheese.

Five minutes after he had first applied his strength, Ned, feeling like
a modern Samson, lifted off the door of his place of captivity and was
ready to step out on deck.

But first he took a cautious look about him. There was a bright moon.
By its beams Ned saw that, as he had suspected, Captain Briggs and his
crew, worn out by their night's work, were sleeping the sleep of the
just. They had turned in "all standing" and lay sprawled on the deck in
any but picturesque attitudes.

"So far, so good," murmured Ned to himself, "and the dinghy's out
astern, too. Better and better. I believe that this is going to go
through without a hitch."

He cautiously replaced the hatchway and stepped boldly out on the deck.
Captain Briggs stirred in his slumbers and growled out some orders that
came to him in his dreams.

"Stand by to go about! Mind sheets and braces!" he muttered.

"My! but he's going to be a surprised man when he wakes up!" grinned
Ned to himself. "I'm sorry for his crew; he'll take it out on them,
for I verily believe that the old shell-back thought I was some boy
millionaire and worth at least a thousand in reward money to him."

But as chance would have it, it was Ned who was destined to be
surprised first.

Hardly had he stepped on deck, when from forward a squat shape came
bounding across the moonlit decks. Simultaneously a low, angry growl
greeted the Dreadnought Boy's ears.

"Great guns! The skipper's dog! I'd clean forgotten him," exclaimed Ned
in dismay.

The dog hesitated a minute, sniffed and then, with an angry snarl, came
bounding on again.

"If I can't silence him, he'll have them all awake in a minute, and
then I'll have a fine hornet's nest about my ears," muttered Ned.

Ur-r-r-r-r-r-r-r! The dog sprang straight for Ned's throat. Luckily,
the creature was not one of the barking kind. He plainly preferred
action to noise.

Ned saw him coming. Saw the white flash of his teeth in the moonlight.
Swift as thought he stooped and picked up a barrel stave which happened
to be lying near his feet.

As the dog was in mid-spring, Ned let fly with his improvised weapon.
Crack! It struck the dog right across the nose and sent him hurtling
back in a coiled-up ball.

"Jove! I hated to do that, old fellow," cried Ned in a low tone; "but
it had to be, and you'll soon get over it."

The dog lay crouched in a whimpering heap not far from Captain Briggs'
side. Ned dared not delay longer. With swift, silent strides he made
for the stern, dropped overboard and landed deftly in the dinghy.

The oars were in it, and to cast off was the work of an instant only.
Then with strong, noiseless strokes, he pulled toward the shore. There
was not a sound of pursuit from the schooner and Ned's heart leaped
exultingly as he threw his strength into the oars.

Ten minutes later the dinghy's nose scraped the beach. At precisely the
same instant the bow of Ned's craft was grasped by a pair of strong
hands, and a gruff voice demanded to know his business.



CHAPTER XXXII.

IN THE ENEMY'S CAMP.


"Whew! Out of the frying pan into the fire!" was Ned's instant thought.

Facing him in the moonlight was a Jackie in uniform. He was armed
with a carbine and looked very business-like. He regarded Ned with no
friendly air.

There was good reason for this, from the man's standpoint, anyway. He
had been placed on guard duty there, and to be surprised after midnight
by a stalwart youth who had sculled himself ashore in a small dinghy
was a suspicious circumstance.

"Who are you? Give an account of yourself," he said gruffly.

"It's all right. I'm on business connected with the aero camp up
above," said Ned glibly, making use of information he had gained
through the crack in the bulkhead.

"Humph! In the service?"

"Certainly. Aero squad."

"How am I to know you are not one of those newspaper fellows. We've
been pestered to death with them for the last week. Fine thing it would
be if they got hold of the Blue fleet's secrets and printed them."

"Oh, you needn't have any fear of me. I'm not connected with any paper."

"No, now I come to look at you, you appear like one of Uncle Sam's
boys. But where have you come from?"

"From that schooner out there."

"Oh, the one we unloaded this evening?"

"That's the idea. My business is urgent."

"I should judge so. Everybody's is right now. The Red fleet is reported
moving up on New York. The aero squadron sails to-morrow. Maybe we
won't give 'em a surprise, eh?"

Ned gave an inward chuckle. This was just the information he was after.

"Oh, that'll surprise 'em all right, shipmate," said he, and struck
off up a trail that appeared to lead over the little point of land. He
had to trust to luck for it being the right one, for he did not dare
disclose his unfamiliarity with the camp by asking the sentry questions.

But the sentry suddenly halted him. Ned's heart sank. After all he had
been discovered.

The next instant his worst fears were realized.

"You'll have to give me the password, shipmate," declared the sentry.

Ned's heart sank into his boots. But suddenly he gave a glad
exclamation, although not so loud as to attract the sentry's notice.
While listening to the unloading of the cargo, he had heard the
password given out by the petty officer in charge of the men.

For the moment he had forgotten it, but now it came suddenly back to
him.

"Aerolite!" he said confidently.

"Pass on, shipmate, you're all right," declared the sentry, and Ned,
breathing freely once more, continued on his way.

It was a daring enterprise, this that he had undertaken of penetrating
into the "enemy's" camp and discovering just the strength of their aero
fleet, and the exact method of attack that they meant to pursue.

But Ned felt that it was up to him to "make good." His absence from his
ship, he felt might be open to evil construction by his enemies. If he
returned with the information, he hoped at least they could not say
that whatever had been his ill luck, he had neglected his duty.

With this thought in mind, Ned kept on along the trail which wound in
eccentric fashion through brush and tall grass.

"I ought surely to be nearing the camp now," he thought at length
as the trail, after doubling and twisting upon itself like a chased
rabbit, brought him out at a point overlooking a little bay.

And there below him he saw that for which he was searching. Screened
by trees, the tents lay in orderly rows,--big, high-walled canvas
structures, housing, so Ned guessed, the aero fleet of the Blue
squadron.

Some little distance out from the shore were the lights of vessels.
After some straining of his eyes, Ned made the craft out to be
a flotilla of destroyers. They lay there waiting for the dawn,
it appeared, hidden from the prying eyes of the scribes of the
metropolitan papers who would have given their eyes, almost, to know
the facts which Ned was now learning.

He counted the tents. There were twenty of them, each housing a flying
boat or a naval aeroplane. Truly a formidable fleet, and one which,
swooping down upon the Reds unexpectedly, might "technically" blow up
the whole squadron before action could be taken. But now Ned possessed
knowledge which would be of incalculable value to his officers. He
could not have felt more exultant had it been in actual war time.

Standing there, carefully concealed, he made voluminous mental notes.
It was then, and not till then, that he suddenly realized what in the
haste of his flight he had forgotten: He was penniless and in the
"enemy's" country without means of rejoining his ship. His delight
turned to ashes. Of what use was all the information he had acquired if
he could not communicate it to the fleet.

"Bother the luck," exclaimed Ned. "What on earth am I to do?"

It was truly a quandary. The camp was located in a lonely bit of
country and it was without doubt a long walk to the nearest place of
civilization.

"Marooned, and all for the lack of a few dollars!" groaned Ned. "If
only I had some money along, I might easily get some fisherman to run
me to the nearest town, and once there, I could get hold of a telegraph
wire and send some despatches. But now----"

He stopped short. His gaze had lighted on something standing outside
one of the tents. It did not take him long to make out what it was. The
moonlight showed up its butterfly-like outlines to perfection.

"Great hookey!" muttered Ned, "a flying boat! If--if--I only dared,
I'd----"

He paused irresolute a moment, and then, squaring his shoulders and
thrusting out his chin with his old determined gesture, he strode off
down the hill.

A daring plan had come into Ned's mind and with his characteristic
energy he was proceeding to act upon it at once.

But it was a scheme so risky, so desperate, that sanguine as the
Dreadnought Boy usually was, he had to admit that the chances were
about five hundred to one against his putting it through successfully.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

WAITING FOR THE END.


An hour had passed since Herc's despairing cry had reverberated through
the gloomy cellar.

Since his vain appeal for help, the Dreadnought Boy had sat, sunk in a
sort of lethargy, on the pile of sail. As the water grew higher, he had
mechanically dragged the heap of canvas closer together, raising it and
forming a sort of island above the rising inundation.

It was the instinct of life fighting against despair, for that he could
ever escape from his prison Herc had long since deemed an impossibility.

He sat there in the darkness listening to the lapping of the water
against the walls. His head was sunk in his hands and as the heavy
minutes went by, from time to time he would feel the water to convince
himself that it actually was rising.

The high water mark on the cellar walls told him how high the tide
usually climbed. Long before it had reached that mark the water would
be over his head.

It was true that Herc was a first-rate swimmer, strong of limb and
sound of wind. But what would that avail him, except to prolong his
misery?

Already in prospect he had tasted the bitterness of the last struggle
against the incoming flood of waters, the battle that grew hourly less
vigorous, and then the final chapter when, too exhausted to fight
longer for his life, the slimy waters would engulf him.

He wondered dully if they would ever find him. It seemed hardly likely.
Who would dream of looking for him in that place? Again and again he
reproached himself bitterly for the mad folly that had led him into
such a trap.

The fault was his. There was no one else to blame for it. Had he
not acted so hastily on impulse, all might have been well with him.
Too late he realized that he had accomplished no useful purpose by
penetrating into the haunt of the spies. It would have been wisdom's
part first to have notified the authorities and then made his attack on
the place.

"Well, I've been a chump and this is what I get for it," muttered the
lad bitterly. "Good old Ned, I can't believe that he is really dead.
I wonder if he'll ever learn how I ended my life in this wretched
rat-hole of a place. It's a tough way to die. I wouldn't mind facing
death in battle or in line of duty, but to die like this alone, in the
dark, with the tide water waiting to drag me down----"

Herc pursued this line of thought no further. It bade fair to unman
him. He felt a desperate desire to hurl himself against the walls, to
shout, to scream, to do anything to avert his fate. But he knew that
nothing short of a miracle could save him now.

He struck one of his few remaining matches. The water was up to his
feet!

Herc gave a groan. It was fairly forced from him. As the match
spluttered out, he knew that before very long he would feel the chilly
grasp of the tide at his knees, then at his waist, and then as it rose
inch by inch, it would engulf him to his neck.

Then would come the struggle for life, the hopeless battle against
overwhelming odds, and then--the end.

Fairly driven wild by these reflections, the unfortunate lad shouted
and raved till his voice grew hoarse. But there was no answer except
the ripple of the water against the cement walls and the hollow echo of
his shouts as they were flung back mockingly at him.

He felt a sharp shock as the water whelmed over his island of canvas.
In a few minutes more it was at his waist.

Herc stood up erect and stepped off his little pile of canvas, now
useless as an isle of safety. He kindled another match.

The yellow flame sputtered up and showed him the water all about him.
It was knee deep and appeared to be coming in more rapidly. Over its
surface was spread an oily scum from the damp floor.

Herc was glad when the match died out. He determined not to light any
more, but to wait his end with as much courage as he could muster.

"I'll fight it out like a man-o'-war's-man, anyhow," he muttered, "but
it's tough--tough to have to go this way."

The water rose inch by inch as remorselessly as destiny itself. Herc
stood in stoical silence and felt it creeping up his body till it had
reached his chest.

Only a few moments more, now, and then--the end.

Herc found himself growing strangely calm. He wondered what they would
think on the ship when he failed to return. If his messmates would miss
him, if Ned was safe and sound and would ever learn how his shipmate
had perished.

The water was up to his chin.

A slight movement on the lad's part and a tiny wavelet spattered
against his mouth. He tasted the brackish water of the tide. Herc
wished that it would end right then and there. He felt that it was
hardly worth while even to swim. If he was to drown, he might as well
not resist his fate, but meet it passively.

But the instinct of self-preservation prevails even among the most
pusillanimous. It can turn a coward into a dangerous foe. Herc struck
out as the water reached his mouth.

He swam easily about, hardly thinking. His mind felt dulled and
bruised. He swam mechanically. He knew that the end was not far off
now.

And now, in the hope that he might have overlooked some projection on
the walls to which he might cling, he began feeling along them. But the
cement was smooth as glass, slimy to the touch, and cold as ice.

Herc began to feel chilled. His limbs felt heavy. He no longer swam
strongly about seeking, like a cornered rat, for some means of escape,
but allowed himself to float or else tread water.

Bit by bit his efforts began to grow weaker. He felt that he could not
keep up much longer, and somehow he did not much care.

It was just at that moment that something struck him a violent blow
under the chin.

It was an old plank. Thrown into the cellar at some forgotten time, it
was floating on the top of the water and had rocked against the lad at
a critical moment.

Herc reached out and grasped it. Somehow the touch of it was almost as
comforting to him as human companionship. Once more the tide of life,
the desire to live, swelled through his veins. He was again a fighter.

Supporting himself on the plank, he began to think. By stretching out
his hand he could touch the ceiling of the cellar.

Suddenly a thought flashed into his mind. If he could locate the
trap-door, and it was not locked, he had a fighting chance for his life.

The thought acted on him like a stimulant. All his apathy forgotten
now, Herc began feeling about the ceiling of the place. Far from
wishing that the tide would recede, he was now afraid that it would do
so before he had had time to locate the trap-door.

How he wished that he had a match! It was terribly tedious work feeling
about that ceiling in the pitchy darkness. The planking above was
rough, too, and Herc was by no means sure that he could distinguish
the trap-door when he came to it.

But at last, after what seemed to be an eternity of fumbling, his
fingers encountered what felt like the under end of some bolts.

He guessed that he had found the fastenings of the trap-door at last.
Raising himself on his friendly plank, Herc exerted his strength and
pushed upward.

Sosh! The effort sent him under water. But he didn't mind that. He was
sure that the door had yielded a little.

The next time he tried, he braced himself on a supporting ceiling beam
by one hand while he shoved upward with the other. He almost uttered a
shout of joy as he did so.

The door moved!

He inserted his fingers in the crack, and then, using his head as a
lever, he drew himself up till he could rest his chest on the flooring
of the passage.

The rest was easy. Within five minutes, Herc, dripping wet and chilled
to the bone, was standing in the passage--safe and sound. As he stood
there, he did not forget to offer up a fervent prayer of thankfulness
to Providence for his deliverance.

He made his way down the passage to the front shop. It was empty. As he
had suspected, the conspirators, who had made it their headquarters,
had decamped.

On the floor near the door, which had been left open, Herc spied a
scrap of paper. He picked it up and saw that there was writing upon it.
With some difficulty he deciphered the scrawl:

"Yacht _Halcyon_. Erie Basin. Thence Panama."

"Now what does that mean?" said Herc to himself, scratching his head
perplexedly. "I guess I'll keep this, anyhow; it may give the police a
clew."

A few moments later the nattily dressed summer residents of the island
were astonished at the spectacle of a red-headed youth in dripping
garments hurrying down the main street, inquiring anxiously the
direction of the police station.

When it was found, Herc had a story to tell that resulted in detectives
being scattered broadcast through the island. But all efforts to locate
the conspirators were unavailing.

They had had a good start and had made the most of it.

In the meantime, Herc made his way to a wireless station maintained on
the island and secured communication with the gunboat. What he learned
did not decrease his uneasiness on Ned's account.

The young skipper had not returned and an officer had been detailed
from the fleet to command the craft. Herc was peremptorily ordered to
report on board the _Manhattan_ at once and give an account of himself.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

A NEW ASSIGNMENT.


It was the next morning. In Captain Dunham's cabin on the _Manhattan_,
Herc had just concluded reciting his story to the commander and to no
less a person than the Secretary of the Navy.

It had been a badly embarrassed boy who had at first faced the stern
questioning of his commanding officer; but by degrees, as his story
went on, Captain Dunham's manner relaxed. His stern air gave place to
one of deep interest. And now, at the conclusion of Herc's narrative,
he spoke:

"I was at first inclined to very grave suspicions of you, Taylor, but
your previous good record and your manner convince me that you are
telling the truth, more particularly as the department has been aware
for some time of the existence of a band of spies who had, in some way,
secured the coöperation of renegades in our navy. We have been trying
through the night to get some word of Strong; but we have failed. I'm
afraid, my lad, that you must resign yourself to the inevitable. At any
rate, Strong, so far as we know, died in the pursuit of his duty and
lived up to the best traditions of the navy."

"Then you believe that he is dead, sir?" Herc blurted out, his freckles
showing like scars against his pale cheeks.

"There is no other conclusion to be reached, Taylor. His long absence
from duty, and the lack of all word from him, convince me of the worst.
Strong is not the sort of lad to remain out of touch, if he were in
the land of the living. You may go now, and the Secretary and myself
will talk over the details of rounding up this gang of miscreants.
If they had anything to do with Strong's death, I will give you the
satisfaction of taking part in the pursuit and apprehension of them."

The Secretary broke in.

"That clew that Taylor has in the shape of that scrap of paper,
I regard as valuable, Captain," he said. "I would recommend that
inquiries be sent out concerning the yacht _Halcyon_. It is quite
possible that the conspirators may be meaning to make good their escape
on her. In that case, if we can trace her, she can be intercepted at
sea and the men apprehended."

"I shall see that it is done, Mr. Secretary. Taylor, you may carry on
and---- Well, orderly?"

Captain Dunham looked up inquiringly as his orderly entered the cabin
in some haste, and, after saluting, stood respectfully at attention.
But it was plain from the man's manner that he was laboring under some
excitement.

"The officer of the deck reports an airship coming this way, sir,"
said the orderly. "He told me to inform you at once, sir."

"An airship!"

"Yes, sir, or else a flying boat. We can't quite make out yet, sir."

"I will come on deck at once. Mr. Secretary, this may prove
interesting. Possibly it is one of the Blue scouts; if so, I hope to
bring the craft down, 'technically,' of course."

Herc saluted and hastened forward, while the captain and the Secretary
of the Navy emerged on the deck. The Red fleet lay off Rock Island.
They were awaiting word as to the movements of the "Blues" before
steaming down the Sound to the attack.

So far, the wireless had been barren of news, and the movements of
the defending squadron were surrounded with considerable mystery. The
suspense had been wearing, and so every eye in the squadron, from
Dreadnought, battleship, cruiser, destroyer, and torpedo boat, was
centered on the strange aeroplane that was flying toward them.

Opinion was divided as to whether the distant flying machine was an
aerial scout, or was a friendly craft bearing despatches from a portion
of the squadron which had been sent around on the Atlantic side.

On came the flying craft, and as it neared the grim fleet that lay
swinging with smoking funnels at anchor on the blue tide, it was seen
to swerve downward like a swooping fish-hawk. For a mile or more it
skimmed along the surface of the water and then struck it with a splash.

"A flying boat!" exclaimed Captain Dunham, who had the binoculars on it.

The craft drove straight on over the water at a rapid rate of speed. As
it drew closer, Captain Dunham exclaimed in a voice that trembled with
excitement, despite his efforts to control it:

"Great Scott! That's one of our men!"

"A man attached to the Red fleet?" asked the Secretary.

"Yes, he is wig-wagging with his free arm. It's--it's--great Scott!
It's Ned Strong, by all that's wonderful!"

       *       *       *       *       *

It was half an hour later, and Ned had told his story. It was a
concise, crisp statement occupying no more time than was necessary, but
embodying a wonderful amount of important information. When he came to
relate how he had "appropriated" one of the Blue fleet's aeroplanes
and had flown straight to the _Manhattan_ in it, the enthusiasm of his
hearers knew no bounds.

For the time being, interest in this phase of his adventures even
overtopped the recovery of the book of plans and coast defences
taken from Kenworth. The book was found to contain full details of
fire-control systems, gun tests, and other naval data of the utmost
importance.

"By Neptune, lad, the United States Navy owes you a debt of gratitude
it can hardly repay," exclaimed Captain Dunham, with shining eyes.

"I shall see, however, that the service does what is in its power to
recognize the signal ability you have displayed, Mr. Strong," remarked
the Secretary.

"Thank you, sir," responded Ned, with glowing cheeks, "but the
knowledge that I have been of service to the Flag is in itself reward
enough."

"Hardly substantial, however," smiled the Secretary.

A few moments later Ned was dismissed and joined Herc. Their greeting
was not an effusive one on the surface. Both had been trained in a
school where men are taught to restrain and control their emotions.
But in the hearty handclasp, and the few spoken words, each friend
recognized the glad emotion that the other was feeling over their
reunion.

Later in the day both lads were summoned to the captain's cabin.

"Here is where we lose our commands," said Herc, with dismal foreboding.

He was right. Captain Dunham's first words apprised both boys that they
were no longer officers.

"You are relieved of the command of your gunboat," said the captain
crisply; and then, as the boys' faces fell, despite all their efforts
to maintain "stiff upper lips," he added, "to take charge of an
expedition which will be explained to you."

The boys longed to exchange glances, but they stood stiffly at "eyes
front." What could be coming now?

"We have located the yacht _Halcyon_," said the Secretary briefly. "The
secret service men have placed us in possession of facts which make
it certain that Saki and the rest are on board her. She is to sail
to-night."

"Shall you not intercept her, sir?" asked Ned, betrayed by his interest
into a breach of naval etiquette.

"Of course. That will be your duty."

"Our duty, sir?"

"Yes. You are assigned, in virtue of your commissions, to the command
of the _Henry_, second-class destroyer. You will intercept and place
under arrest the men on board the _Halcyon_ and bring the craft back to
New York harbor."

"When do we start, sir?"

"At once. The crew of the _Henry_ have been notified. Steam is up
and everything in readiness. You will, of course, keep in constant
communication by wireless, using the code. When you overhaul the
_Halcyon_, use no half-way measures. Arrest everyone on board, seize
all documents and denounce the ship. In particular, apprehend the man
calling himself Saki. He is in reality Captain Hasamira of the Japanese
Navy and a most dangerous man."

"He certainly proved so to these lads," smiled Captain Dunham. "Now
be off with you, boys, and bring back the men you are going after. We
shall rely on you."

"Aye, aye, sir," said both Dreadnought Boys saluting, though their
hearts were in such a wild tumult that they hardly knew what they were
saying.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE OUTCOME.


In the gray of the next morning the _Henry_, a squat, low craft of the
destroyer type, with three fat funnels, lay tossing uneasily on the
sweeping combers of the Atlantic some sixty-two miles south of Sandy
Hook.

She had lain there most of the night, using her searchlight freely.
But no craft answering to the description of the _Halcyon_ had passed
within her ken.

On the conning tower, Ned and Herc, for the twentieth time at least,
went over the last wireless they had received from the Secret Service
squad,--_via_ the _Manhattan_.

  "Cruise slowly about off Sandy Hook. Sixty-two miles to the south
  about. _Halcyon_ should pass out in early morning. Is painted black,
  yellow deck houses, two masts, black stack amidships."

"It isn't possible that she has slipped by us in the night, do you
think?" exclaimed Herc, gazing anxiously about at the rolling waste of
gray water.

"Not likely. That despatch came only an hour ago. If we remain here we
are almost bound to intercept her."

"And if she does slip past us?"

"Then I'll keep after her, if I have to crack on clear down to the
South Pole," said Ned grimly. "I don't intend to let that gang slip
through my fingers!"

"I've got a few scores to settle myself," cried Herc. "When I think of
that cellar----"

He gritted his teeth and clenched his freckled fists. It would have
fared ill with any of the gang within reach of his hands at that moment.

"Well, let's go below to breakfast," said Ned presently. "The watch
will notify us of anything unusual."

"Breakfast!" scoffed Herc. "I suppose it will be the same as supper
last night. Business of eating with one hand while you claw on to a
stanchion with the other. Tell you what, Ned, these destroyers are too
lively a type of craft for me."

"They're just the type to overhaul those rascals we're after, and
that's good enough for me," rejoined Ned. "I wouldn't care if I had to
eat standing on my head just to get a chance at those fellows."

"'Use no half-way measures,'" said Herc musingly, repeating the
Secretary's instructions. "I guess we won't, Ned, eh?"

"Well, if they should happen to want trouble, they'll get all that
they're looking for," laughed Ned, as they descended the pitching,
swinging iron ladder that led to the cramped cabin of the _Henry_.

They had had hardly time to down some coffee and eat some bacon when
there came a report from the bow watch.

"Smoke to the north'ard, sir."

Breakfast was forgotten in a flash. Snatching up his binoculars, Ned
sprang for the iron ladder. Herc was right at his heels.

On the northern horizon lay a smudge of black smoke. For some moments
it was hard to make out whether it was receding or coming toward them.
But presently Ned, with a cry of delight, announced that the stranger
was coming due south.

Not long after, the strange craft swam into the field of vision of the
binoculars. Herc happened to be holding them on her at that moment. He
gave an exclamation of disgust.

"It's a yacht, all right, but not the right one."

"How do you know?"

"That description. I've got it by heart. Two masts, black funnel. This
fellow's got three masts and a yellow stack."

"Let me have a look at her."

"Go ahead if you want to; you won't see any more than I've been telling
you."

"Well?" inquired Herc, after a somewhat long interval. The yacht had
come closer now. She was being driven hard as they could see by the
constant cloud of black smoke that came rolling out of her funnel. The
crew of the destroyer, who in some mysterious way had some inkling of
the mission of the _Henry_, watched the oncoming yacht with as much
interest as their young officers.

"Well, what do you make of her?" demanded Herc, repeating his question.

"Hold on a minute! I'm studying her."

"Studying her! There's not much to study over. It's the wrong craft;
anyone could see that with half an eye."

"I'm not so sure of that. She's a funny looking tub. Do you notice
anything odd about her, Herc?"

"Not I; except that she isn't the craft we are looking for, confound
her."

"Well, there _is_ something queer about her. Notice that after mast. It
doesn't appear to fit, somehow, and that stern looks funny, too."

"Jove! now that you speak of it, it does look queer. Say, Ned, you
don't think they could have disguised her, do you?"

"I don't know. I've heard of such things. I don't want to make
any blunder, and yet that vessel looks to me as if she had been
thimble-rigged in some sort of way."

Midshipman Fuller, junior officer to the Dreadnought Boys, came on the
bridge. Ned turned to him.

"Mr. Fuller, what do you make of that yacht yonder?" asked Ned.

"She's a queer looking craft, sir. Looks awkward by the stern," said
the midshipman.

"Just what I think. Mr. Fuller, you will take the bridge."

"You are going to board her?" demanded Herc.

"Yes, there's something wrong about her. I wouldn't dare to take a
chance and let her get by."

"Bully for you," said Herc under his breath.

"Mr. Fuller, please have the boarding launch lowered with the regular
crew. The bow gun may be uncovered and when I give you the order, you
may fire a shot across that craft's bow. First, however, I'll signal
her to heave to."

The boarding launch referred to was a small power launch carried
amidships on the destroyer. The sea was rather rough for such a small
craft, but she was staunch, and Ned had no fear but that she would ride
the combers without difficulty.

In obedience to his command, a string of brightly colored bunting
presently crawled up the destroyer's military mast.

It was the signal to "heave to."

But the strange yacht showed no inclination to obey. She kept right on
plowing through the big seas with a crest of foam at her bow.

"You may fire, Mr. Fuller."

Ned's voice was perfectly calm; but Herc could hardly keep still. The
bow rapid-fire gun had been stripped of its waterproof cover and its
crew was "standing by." The order to fire came crisply.

"Let her have it across the bows!"

Bang! The gun barked out viciously. They could see the shot go
ricocheting off over the waves.

But the stranger kept serenely on.

"Give it to her again," ordered Ned.

Bang! Once more a shot whizzed across the recalcitrant stranger's prow.
It struck the water not more than twenty-five feet ahead of her.

"Concern 'em, that ought to stop 'em," growled Herc.

But it didn't. More smoke rolled out of the yacht's stack. Her speed
was increased, if anything.

"I'm certain now that we're on the right track," grated out Ned; "no
honest craft would ignore a signal like that."

Then a moment later he turned to Herc.

"Mr. Taylor, go below and sight that gun yourself. Let her have it
across the fore-deck. I'll _make_ them heave to if I have to blow a
hole in them."

Herc was nothing loath. Repressing a grin in virtue of the dignity of
his office, he took charge of the gun. He pointed it carefully and as
the destroyer rose on the crest of a wave, Ned gave the command.

"Fire!"

Bang!

The next instant an exultant cheer broke from the excited Jackies. The
foremast of the stranger toppled, and then in a tangled wreck, came
smashing down to the deck.

"Bull's eye!" remarked Herc coolly, flicking a powder stain off his
gloves.

"Stopped her, sir!" exclaimed Midshipman Fuller an instant later.

He was right. The last "hint" had been too strong to ignore. The
stranger slackened speed and lay sullenly tossing on the sea.

"Mr. Fuller, sir, take the bridge," ordered Ned, as he and Herc
hastened to board the little power launch that lay tossing alongside,
held off from crashing against the steel sides of the _Henry_ by the
stalwart arms of its crew.

Tossing like an eggshell, hurled dizzily skyward and then plunged
downward, the dory-shaped power boat rapidly skimmed the distance
between the destroyer and the yacht. Ned had ordered "side-arms," and
the crew of six was fully armed.

"Yacht, ahoy!" hailed Ned as they drew near and a uniformed figure
appeared on the yacht's bridge. "What craft is that?"

"The _Spendthrift_ of New London for New Orleans," came the reply.
"What's the matter with you navy fellows?"

"You'll soon find out," said Ned grimly. "Lay alongside, men. Be
prepared for a surprise."

An accommodation ladder had been lowered by order of the man on the
bridge, a stout, bearded individual. Ned was just preparing to climb
it, when there came a warning shout from Herc. The red-headed lad
pulled his chum back just in time to dodge a heavy iron weight which
some unseen hand had hurled from above.

The weight fell harmlessly into the water.

"It was a Jap threw that; I saw him sneaking along the deck," cried one
of the men.

"Hurrah! We've got the right craft, then!" cried Herc.

"What is the matter, gentlemen?" demanded the man on the bridge. He
appeared much agitated.

"The matter is that you will consider yourself under arrest," cried
Ned. "Remain where you are and order your crew forward."

"You take things with a high hand. Who do you think we are?"

"I don't know anything about _you_; but I know that this craft is the
_Halcyon_ with a faked stern, a false mizzen-mast and a repainted
funnel," retorted Ned angrily. "I shall hold you responsible for the
behavior of your crew."

The bearded man appeared to be about to collapse. In a feeble voice
they heard him order his crew forward.

"I call you to witness that this is a chartered yacht," he cried, "and
that I'm obeying your orders. I don't want to get into trouble with
Uncle Sam."

"I guess you're in pretty bad," muttered Herc grimly.

Without further opposition they boarded the yacht, which there was no
longer reason to doubt was the _Halcyon_.

As they gained the deck, some figures darted along it and vanished.

Headed by Ned and Herc, three of the men dashed after them. The rest
were left to guard the deck.

"That was Kenworth and Saki," gasped Herc as they rushed down the
companionway stairs and into the main saloon of the yacht.

Ned nodded grimly.

"We've rounded them up at last," he said drawing his revolver and
ordering Herc to do the same.

Slam!

Just as they gained the saloon, the door of a stateroom opening from it
was banged to. An instant later came the click of a bolt as it was shot.

"Open that door, Kenworth," cried Ned with perfect coolness. "You're
at the end of your rope."

Crack!

Ned dodged just in time to avoid a bullet fired through the panel of
the door. Desperate, with nothing to hope for but a federal prison,
Kenworth was fighting like a cornered rat.

But Ned's voice did not shake, in spite of the narrowness of his
escape, as he addressed the wretched man within the stateroom.

"Kenworth, it is useless to resist. Be sensible and give yourself up.
You are bound to be taken, and to try to stave it off makes it all the
worse."

Bang! Another bullet was the only answer vouchsafed. The missile fanned
Herc's ear and buried itself in the moulding of the saloon wall.

"I'll stand no more nonsense!" cried Ned sternly. "Are you going to
surrender?"

"Never. I'll die before I'll rot in a federal prison," cried Kenworth
wildly.

Ned turned to Herc.

"We've got to force the door," he said in a low voice.

"But, Ned, the man is half insane. Why not shoot him down from outside
here?"

"As if I'd do a thing like that! Come on!"

Right then the Jackies standing behind the two young officers beheld an
exhibition of pure nerve that they had never seen excelled. Ned raised
his revolver and fired through the top of the stateroom door where
his bullet would be certain to hurt no one. As he expected, it drew
Kenworth's fire.

Bang-Bang-Bang! came three shots. Ned knew that the cylinder of the
crazed midshipman's revolver must be empty.

"Now!" he shouted. "Stand by, men!"

Rip-p-p-p! Cr-ash-h-h-h! The door was carried clean off its hinges as
Ned and Herc rushed it. As it fell, the interior of the stateroom,
reeking with blue powder smoke, was revealed. Huddled on the bunk in
postures of abject terror were Saki and the spectacled Jap who had
caused Herc so much trouble.

[Illustration: Rip-p-p-p! Cr-ash-h-h-h! The door was carried off its
hinges as Ned and Herc rushed in.--_Page 296_]

In the center of the room stood Kenworth. His eyes blazed with a wild
fire and he flourished an empty revolver, while he yelled incoherently.

At the sight of Ned and Herc, the half insane man uttered a piercing
cry.

"I thought you were both dead!" he cried. "But you have risen from the
grave to confront me!"

He slipped another cartridge into his revolver, and Ned leaped forward
just in time to dash the weapon from the wretched renegade's hand. He
had turned the pistol on himself.

Within half an hour, Kenworth, by that time a raging maniac, had been
secured, and the two Japs in sullen silence had been escorted with the
renegade midshipman on board the _Henry_. A search of the _Halcyon_
revealed several men among the crew whom Herc recalled having seen in
the plotters' headquarters at Civic Island. Many papers and documents
which there was not time to examine just then were also recovered.

Ned placed three men in charge of the _Halcyon_ with orders to make her
captain follow him into New York harbor. Then he wirelessed news of his
success to the _Manhattan_ and received a warm reply of congratulation
that made his blood glow and his eyes shine. Herc, too, came in for
a share of commendation. With the congratulations, came orders to
proceed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and see that Kenworth was placed in a
hospital, for he was no longer responsible.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was two days later. The Dreadnought Boys stood facing the Secretary
of the Navy in the office of the commander of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
What was to come, they did not know. They had not yet been relieved
of their command of the _Henry_, and they feared that the summons to
present themselves to the Secretary was for that purpose.

"Well, gentlemen," said the Secretary, looking approvingly at the two
spruce, smart, young officers, "I suppose that you have no wish to take
off those uniforms?"

"Naturally not, sir," returned Ned, for Herc was too embarrassed
to speak. "It is the finest uniform in the world and no one would
willingly doff it."

"Just what I think, Strong," said the Secretary, "and I'm going to
see to it that you do not change these uniforms except for those of a
higher rank in the service."

Ned's eyes grew dim. The room swam before him. He could hardly believe
his ears. But the Secretary continued,

"As I said the other day, both you young men have shown ability of
no common order, native qualities that cannot be inducted by Naval
Academies or colleges. I have therefore made arrangements to have your
present appointments made permanent, and you will, hereafter, by
special act, assume them with their rank, pay and dignity until you are
ready for the next step upward; and I promise you that I shall keep my
eye upon you."

"Mr. Secretary, I--we--that is--we don't know what to say, except to
thank you and assure you that it is the proudest moment of our lives,"
stammered Ned hoarsely in a voice that sounded to him faint and far
away. As for Herc, he stood like one stunned, his freckles coming and
going on his alternately ruddy and pale cheeks like pictures in a
kaleidoscope.

To relieve the situation, the Secretary changed the subject.

"After the maneuvers, you will be granted a furlough of one month. For
the present, you will retain command of the _Henry_ and will rejoin
the Red fleet with all speed. By the way, I may tell you that Kenworth
can never recover his reason. His mind is a total wreck. I suppose it
is charitable to attribute his treachery to his weakened intellect.
As for the Japanese spies, the government can only quietly see to it
that they are escorted out of the country never to return. I understand
that in Japan the life of a detected spy is not a happy one, so that
they will meet their punishment even if the government of this country
cannot inflict a penalty upon them. Against Rankin, of whose actions on
the _Seneca_ we know, we have proved nothing; but he will be watched."

And here, with the glory of their new honors upon them, we must say
"Good-by" once more to the Dreadnought Boys. The events just chronicled
are so recent that it may be some time before we can set down their
further adventures. The lads have been accepted most cordially by their
brother officers and are loved and respected by their men.

Success has not turned their heads and as officers they are proving the
same modest, self-respecting lads as ever. The Secretary and their
immediate superiors are keeping their eyes on the two young officers,
and ere long they will doubtless have further chances to distinguish
themselves.

But whether they are assigned to routine duty or to exciting,
adventurous cruises, the Dreadnought Boys will always devote
themselves, heart and soul, to the defence of one standard--the Flag of
their country.


THE END.



OAKDALE ACADEMY SERIES

Stories of Modern School Sports

By MORGAN SCOTT.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid


BEN STONE AT OAKDALE.

[Illustration]

Under peculiarly trying circumstances Ben Stone wins his way at Oakdale
Academy, and at the same time enlists our sympathy, interest and
respect. Through the enmity of Bern Hayden, the loyalty of Roger Eliot
and the clever work of the "Sleuth," Ben is falsely accused, championed
and vindicated.


BOYS OF OAKDALE ACADEMY.

"One thing I will claim, and that is that all Grants fight open and
square and there never was a sneak among them." It was Rodney Grant,
of Texas, who made the claim to his friend, Ben Stone, and this story
shows how he proved the truth of this statement in the face of apparent
evidence to the contrary.


RIVAL PITCHERS OF OAKDALE.

Baseball is the main theme of this interesting narrative, and that
means not only clear and clever descriptions of thrilling games, but
an intimate acquaintance with the members of the teams who played
them. The Oakdale Boys were ambitious and loyal, and some were even
disgruntled and jealous, but earnest, persistent work won out.


OAKDALE BOYS IN CAMP.

The typical vacation is the one that means much freedom, little
restriction, and immediate contact with "all outdoors." These
conditions prevailed in the summer camp of the Oakdale Boys and made it
a scene of lively interest.


THE GREAT OAKDALE MYSTERY.

The "Sleuth" scents a mystery! He "follows his nose." The plot
thickens! He makes deductions. There are surprises for the reader--and
for the "Sleuth," as well.


NEW BOYS AT OAKDALE.

A new element creeps into Oakdale with another year's registration of
students. The old and the new standards of conduct in and out of school
meet, battle, and cause sweeping changes in the lives of several of the
boys.


Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



BOY INVENTORS SERIES

Stories of Skill and Ingenuity

By RICHARD BONNER

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


THE BOY INVENTORS' WIRELESS TELEGRAPH.

[Illustration]

Blest with natural curiosity,--sometimes called the instinct of
investigation,--favored with golden opportunity, and gifted with
creative ability, the Boy Inventors meet emergencies and contrive
mechanical wonders that interest and convince the reader because they
always "work" when put to the test.


THE BOY INVENTORS' VANISHING GUN.

A thought, a belief, an experiment; discouragement, hope, effort and
final success--this is the history of many an invention; a history in
which excitement, competition, danger, despair and persistence figure.
This merely suggests the circumstances which draw the daring Boy
Inventors into strange experiences and startling adventures, and which
demonstrate the practical use of their vanishing gun.


THE BOY INVENTORS' DIVING TORPEDO BOAT.

As in the previous stories of the Boy Inventors, new and interesting
triumphs of mechanism are produced which become immediately valuable,
and the stage for their proving and testing is again the water. On the
surface and below it, the boys have jolly, contagious fun, and the
story of their serious, purposeful inventions challenge the reader's
deepest attention.


Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



BUNGALOW BOYS SERIES

LIVE STORIES OF OUTDOOR LIFE

By DEXTER J. FORRESTER.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE BUNGALOW BOYS.

How the Bungalow Boys received their title and how they retained the
right to it in spite of much opposition makes a lively narrative for
lively boys.


THE BUNGALOW BOYS MAROONED IN THE TROPICS.

A real treasure hunt of the most thrilling kind, with a sunken Spanish
galleon as its object, makes a subject of intense interest at any time,
but add to that a band of desperate men, a dark plot and a devil fish,
and you have the combination that brings strange adventures into the
lives of the Bungalow Boys.


THE BUNGALOW BOYS IN THE GREAT NORTH WEST.

The clever assistance of a young detective saves the boys from the
clutches of Chinese smugglers, of whose nefarious trade they know too
much. How the Professor's invention relieves a critical situation is
also an exciting incident of this book.


THE BUNGALOW BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES.

The Bungalow Boys start out for a quiet cruise on the Great Lakes and a
visit to an island. A storm and a band of wreckers interfere with the
serenity of their trip, and a submarine adds zest and adventure to it.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



BORDER BOYS SERIES

Mexican and Canadian Frontier Series

By FREMONT B. DEERING.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE BORDER BOYS ON THE TRAIL.

What it meant to make an enemy of Black Ramon De Barios--that is the
problem that Jack Merrill and his friends, including Coyote Pete, face
in this exciting tale.


THE BORDER BOYS ACROSS THE FRONTIER.

Read of the Haunted Mesa and its mysteries, of the Subterranean River
and its strange uses, of the value of gasolene and steam "in running
the gauntlet," and you will feel that not even the ancient splendors of
the Old World can furnish a better setting for romantic action than the
Border of the New.


THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE MEXICAN RANGERS.

As every day is making history--faster, it is said, than ever
before--so books that keep pace with the changes are full of rapid
action and accurate facts. This book deals with lively times on the
Mexican border.


THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE TEXAS RANGERS.

The Border Boys have already had much excitement and adventure in their
lives, but all this has served to prepare them for the experiences
related in this volume. They are stronger, braver and more resourceful
than ever, and the exigencies of their life in connection with the
Texas Rangers demand all their trained ability.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



MOTOR RANGERS SERIES

HIGH SPEED MOTOR STORIES

By MARVIN WEST.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE MOTOR RANGERS' LOST MINE.

This is an absorbing story of the continuous adventures of a motor
car in the hands of Nat Trevor and his friends. It does seemingly
impossible "stunts," and yet everything happens "in the nick of time."


THE MOTOR RANGERS THROUGH THE SIERRAS.

Enemies in ambush, the peril of fire, and the guarding of treasure make
exciting times for the Motor Rangers--yet there is a strong flavor of
fun and freedom, with a typical Western mountaineer for spice.


THE MOTOR RANGERS ON BLUE WATER; or, The Secret of the Derelict.

The strange adventures of the sturdy craft "Nomad" and the stranger
experiences of the Rangers themselves with Morello's schooner and a
mysterious derelict form the basis of this well-spun yarn of the sea.


THE MOTOR RANGERS' CLOUD CRUISER.

From the "Nomad" to the "Discoverer," from the sea to the sky, the
scene changes in which the Motor Rangers figure. They have experiences
"that never were on land or sea," in heat and cold and storm, over
mountain peak and lost city, with savages and reptiles; their ship of
the air is attacked by huge birds of the air; they survive explosion
and earthquake; they even live to tell the tale!

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



DREADNOUGHT BOYS SERIES

Tales of the New Navy

By CAPT. WILBUR LAWTON

Author of "BOY AVIATORS SERIES."

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON BATTLE PRACTICE.

Especially interesting and timely is this book which introduces the
reader with its heroes, Ned and Herc, to the great ships of modern
warfare and to the intimate life and surprising adventures of Uncle
Sam's sailors.


THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A DESTROYER.

In this story real dangers threaten and the boys' patriotism is tested
in a peculiar international tangle. The scene is laid on the South
American coast.


THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON A SUBMARINE.

To the inventive genius--trade-school boy or mechanic--this story has
special charm, perhaps, but to every reader its mystery and clever
action are fascinating.


THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON AERO SERVICE.

Among the volunteers accepted for Aero Service are Ned and Herc. Their
perilous adventures are not confined to the air, however, although they
make daring and notable flights in the name of the Government; nor are
they always able to fly beyond the reach of their old "enemies," who
are also airmen.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



FRANK ARMSTRONG SERIES

Twentieth Century Athletic Stories

By MATHEW M. COLTON.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

FRANK ARMSTRONG'S VACATION.

How Frank's summer experience with his boy friends make him into a
sturdy young athlete through swimming, boating, and baseball contests,
and a tramp through the Everglades, is the subject of this splendid
story.


FRANK ARMSTRONG AT QUEENS.

We find among the jolly boys at Queen's School, Frank, the
student-athlete, Jimmy, the baseball enthusiast, and Lewis, the
unconsciously-funny youth who furnishes comedy for every page that
bears his name. Fall and winter sports between intensely rival school
teams are expertly described.


FRANK ARMSTRONG'S SECOND TERM.

The gymnasium, the track and the field make the background for the
stirring events of this volume, in which David, Jimmy, Lewis, the "Wee
One" and the "Codfish" figure, while Frank "saves the day."


FRANK ARMSTRONG, DROP KICKER

With the same persistent determination that won him success in
swimming, running and baseball playing, Frank Armstrong acquired the
art of "drop kicking," and the Queen's football team profits thereby.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



GIRL AVIATORS SERIES

Clean Aviation Stories

By MARGARET BURNHAM.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE GIRL AVIATORS AND THE PHANTOM AIRSHIP.

Roy Prescott was fortunate in having a sister so clever and devoted
to him and his interests that they could share work and play with
mutual pleasure and to mutual advantage. This proved especially true
in relation to the manufacture and manipulation of their aeroplane,
and Peggy won well deserved fame for her skill and good sense as an
aviator. There were many stumbling-blocks in their terrestrial path,
but they soared above them all to ultimate success.


THE GIRL AVIATORS ON GOLDEN WINGS.

That there is a peculiar fascination about aviation that wins and holds
girl enthusiasts as well as boys is proved by this tale. On golden
wings the girl aviators rose for many an exciting flight, and met
strange and unexpected experiences.


THE GIRL AVIATORS' SKY CRUISE.

To most girls a coaching or yachting trip is an adventure. How much
more perilous an adventure a "sky cruise" might be is suggested by the
title and proved by the story itself.


THE GIRL AVIATORS' MOTOR BUTTERFLY.

The delicacy of flight suggested by the word "butterfly," the
mechanical power implied by "motor," the ability to control assured in
the title "aviator," all combined with the personality and enthusiasm
of girls themselves, make this story one for any girl or other reader
"to go crazy over."

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



MOLLY BROWN SERIES

College Life Stories for Girls

By NELL SPEED.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

MOLLY BROWN'S FRESHMAN DAYS.

Would you like to admit to your circle of friends the most charming of
college girls--the typical college girl for whom we are always looking
but not always finding; the type that contains so many delightful
characteristics, yet without unpleasant perfection in any; the natural,
unaffected, sweet-tempered girl, loved because she is lovable? Then
seek an introduction to Molly Brown. You will find the baggage-master,
the cook, the Professor of English Literature, and the College
President in the same company.


MOLLY BROWN'S SOPHOMORE DAYS.

What is more delightful than a re-union of college girls after
the summer vacation? Certainly nothing that precedes it in their
experience--at least, if all class-mates are as happy together as the
Wellington girls of this story. Among Molly's interesting friends of
the second year is a young Japanese girl, who ingratiates her "humbly"
self into everybody's affections speedily and permanently.


MOLLY BROWN'S JUNIOR DAYS.

Financial stumbling blocks are not the only things that hinder the
ease and increase the strength of college girls. Their troubles and
their triumphs are their own, often peculiar to their environment. How
Wellington students meet the experiences outside the class-rooms is
worth the doing, the telling and the reading.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



MOTOR MAIDS SERIES

Wholesome Stories of Adventure

By KATHERINE STOKES.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE MOTOR MAIDS' SCHOOL DAYS.

Billie Campbell was just the type of a straightforward, athletic girl
to be successful as a practical Motor Maid. She took her car, as she
did her class-mates, to her heart, and many a grand good time did they
have all together. The road over which she ran her red machine had many
an unexpected turning,--now it led her into peculiar danger; now into
contact with strange travelers; and again into experiences by fire and
water. But, best of all, "The Comet" never failed its brave girl owner.


THE MOTOR MAIDS BY PALM AND PINE.

Wherever the Motor Maids went there were lively times, for these were
companionable girls who looked upon the world as a vastly interesting
place full of unique adventures--and so, of course, they found them.


THE MOTOR MAIDS ACROSS THE CONTINENT.

It is always interesting to travel, and it is wonderfully entertaining
to see old scenes through fresh eyes. It is that privilege, therefore,
that makes it worth while to join the Motor Maids in their first
'cross-country run.


THE MOTOR MAIDS BY ROSE, SHAMROCK AND HEATHER.

South and West had the Motor Maids motored, nor could their education
by travel have been more wisely begun. But now a speaking acquaintance
with their own country enriched their anticipation of an introduction
to the British Isles. How they made their polite American bow and
how they were received on the other side is a tale of interest and
inspiration.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



MOTOR CYCLE SERIES

Splendid Motor Cycle Stories

By LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON.

Author of "Boy Scout Series."

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid


[Illustration]

THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS AROUND THE WORLD.

Could Jules Verne have dreamed of encircling the globe with a motor
cycle for emergencies he would have deemed it an achievement greater
than any he describes in his account of the amusing travels of Philias
Fogg. This, however, is the purpose successfully carried out by the
Motor Cycle Chums, and the tale of their mishaps, hindrances and
delays is one of intense interest, secret amusement, and incidental
information to the reader.


THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS OF THE NORTHWEST PATROL.

The Great Northwest is a section of vast possibilities and in it the
Motor Cycle Chums meet adventures even more unusual and exciting than
many of their experiences on their tour around the world. There is not
a dull page in this lively narrative of clever boys and their attendant
"Chinee."


THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS IN THE GOLD FIELDS.

The gold fever which ran its rapid course through the veins of the
historic "forty-niners" recurs at certain intervals, and seizes its
victims with almost irresistible power. The search for gold is so
fascinating to the seekers that hardship, danger and failure are
obstacles that scarcely dampen their ardour. How the Motor Cycle Chums
were caught by the lure of the gold and into what difficulties and
novel experiences they were led, makes a tale of thrilling interest.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

  HURST & COMPANY      -      Publishers      -      NEW YORK



  BOY SCOUT SERIES

  BY

  LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON

  MODERN BOY SCOUT STORIES FOR BOYS

  Cloth Bound,       Price 50¢ per volume.


The Boy Scouts on the Range.

Connected with the dwellings of the vanished race of cliff-dwellers was
a mystery. Who so fit to solve it as a band of adventurous Boy Scouts?
The solving of the secret and the routing of a bold band of cattle
thieves involved Rob Blake and his chums, including "Tubby" Hopkins, in
grave difficulties.

There are few boys who have not read of the weird snake dance and
other tribal rites of Moquis. In this volume, the habits of these fast
vanishing Indians are explained in interesting detail. Few boys' books
hold more thrilling chapters than those concerning Rob's captivity
among the Moquis.

Through the fascinating pages of the narrative also stalks, like a grim
figure of impending tragedy, the shaggy form of Silver Tip, the giant
grizzly. In modern juvenile writing, there is little to be found as
gripping as the scene in which Rob and Silver Tip meet face to face.
The boy is weaponless and,--but it would not be fair to divulge the
termination of the battle. A book which all Boy Scouts should secure
and place upon their shelves to be read and re-read.

  Sold by Booksellers Everywhere.

  Hurst & Co.,      Publishers        New York



Transcriber's Notes:


Italics are represented using _underscores_.

Some inconsistent hyphenation has been retained from the original (e.g.
"foredeck" vs. "fore-deck").

Frontispiece caption, moved comma inside quotes.

Page 22, removed duplicate "the" from "the book was instructive as well
as interesting."

Page 178, changed single to double quote after "Can you anyways recall
jes' what happened las' night?"

"Dreadnought Boys Series" ad, corrected "Areo Service" to "Aero
Service" in plot summary.

"Girl Aviators Series" ad, corrected "terrestial" to "terrestrial" and
"abiltity" to "ability."

"Molly Brown Series" ad, corrected "SOPHMORE" to "SOPHOMORE."





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