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Title: Sea Scouts Abroad - Further Adventures of the 'Olivette'
Author: Westerman, Percy F. (Percy Francis)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: cover (front)]


[Illustration: cover (spine)]



SEA SCOUTS ABROAD



  BY
  PERCY F. WESTERMAN
  LIEUT. R.A.F.

  "No boy alive will be able to peruse Mr. Westerman's pages
    without a quickening of his pulses."--Outlook.

  The Third Officer: A Present-day Pirate Story.

  Sea Scouts Abroad: Further Adventures of the _Olivette_.

  The Salving of the "Fusi Yama": A Post-War
    Story of the Sea.

  Sea Scouts All: How the _Olivette_ was won.

  Winning his Wings: A Story of the R.A.F.

  The Thick of the Fray at Zeebrugge: April, 1918.

  With Beatty off Jutland: A Romance of the Great Sea
    Fight.

  The Submarine Hunters: A Story of Naval Patrol Work.

  A Lively Bit of the Front: A Tale of the New Zealand
    Rifles on the Western Front.

  A Sub and a Submarine: The Story of H.M. Submarine
    R19 in the Great War.

  Under the White Ensign: A Naval Story of the Great
    War.

  The Dispatch-Riders: The Adventures of Two British

  Motor-cyclists with the Belgian Forces.

  The Sea-girt Fortress: A Story of Heligoland.

  Rounding up the Raider: A Naval Story of the Great
    War.

  The Fight for Constantinople: A Tale of the Gallipoli
    Peninsula.

  Captured at Tripoli: A Tale of Adventure.

  The Quest of the "Golden Hope": A Seventeenth-century
    Story of Adventure.

  A Lad of Grit: A Story of Restoration Times.


  LONDON: BLACKIE & SON, LTD., 50 OLD BAILEY, E.C.



[Illustration: WITHOUT HESITATION WOODLEIGH LEAPED INTO THE SEA]



SEA SCOUTS ABROAD
Further Adventures of the "Olivette"



BY
PERCY F. WESTERMAN



_Illustrated by Charles Pears_



BLACKIE AND SON LIMITED
LONDON GLASGOW AND BOMBAY



   Contents

   CHAP.

      I. AFLOAT ONCE MORE
     II. STOLEN
    III. A REAL GOOD TURN
     IV. REPAYMENT
      V. TRAPPED BY THE TIDE
     VI. WHY THE WATER FAILED
    VII. THE NEW HAND
   VIII. THE STOWAWAY
     IX. BROKEN DOWN IN MID-CHANNEL
      X. ALAN SPEAKS FRENCH
     XI. "WOUNDED"
    XII. "IN THE DITCH"
   XIII. THE BORE
    XIV. THE DERELICT
     XV. ALL HANDS TO THE PUMPS
    XVI. THE ADVENTURES OF THE "LIBERTY MEN"
   XVII. MONSIEUR RAOUL
  XVIII. SHORE QUARTERS
    XIX. HOMEWARD BOUND
     XX. HOME WATERS AGAIN



  Illustrations

  WITHOUT HESITATION WOODLEIGH LEAPED INTO THE SEA
                                            _Frontispiece_

  "SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE!" SHOUTED RIVETT

  THE HIGH-PRESSURE JET CAUGHT THE TENDERFOOT
      FULL IN THE FACE                  (missing from book)

  THE DERELICT                          (missing from book)



SEA SCOUTS ABROAD



CHAPTER I

Afloat Once More


"To-morrow the tide serves," declared Patrol Leader Peter Stratton,
stepping back a few paces in order to admire the joint handiwork of
the 1st Milford Sea Scouts. "We'll launch her while the compo's wet.
That's the right thing, I believe."

It was a blazing morning late in July. The Sea Scouts, with the best
part of seven weeks' holiday in front of them, were engaged in giving
their craft--the 54-foot motor-boat _Olivette_--a belated refit
before undertaking what Alan Hepworth described as "the stunt of
stunts".

The _Olivette_ rested in her cradle with the stern a good five yards
from high-water mark on the gently shelving patch of gravel that
constitutes the Keyhaven repairing-slip. For just over a week all
hands--namely, Patrol Leader Peter Stratton, Scouts Dick Roche, Eric
Flemming, Will Woodleigh, Reggie Warkworth, Alan Hepburn, and
Tenderfoot Phil Rayburn--had been hard at work from early morn till
dewy eve making the staunch craft look presentable and, what was
more, seaworthy, for the undertaking they had in view.

The Sea Scouts were doing the task of refitting entirely by
themselves. Mr. Armitage, their Scoutmaster, was away in Town on
business, and would not be back until the following Thursday, and it
was "up to" the lads to have the _Olivette_ afloat "all shipshape and
Bristol fashion" on his return.

Roche, Flemming, and Woodleigh had taken down the powerful 50-60
horse-power Kelvin engine, decarbonized the four cylinders, fitted
new piston rings, ground in the valves, and adjusted the tappets. At
the end of each day's work they were as black as tinkers and as jolly
as sand-boys.

Hepburn and Rayburn had been told off to clean down and revarnish the
after-cabin and paint out the fo'c'sle; Stratton and Warkworth, with
the aid of caustic soda and scrapers, had removed all the old paint
from the _Olivette's_ sides, and were on the last stages of applying
the final coat of "battleship grey" paint. Incidentally they had
liberally besprinkled themselves and their overalls with paint and
varnish, while, owing to an incautious use of caustic soda, that
powerful chemical had indelibly stained their nails a dark brown,
which were not only disfigured but positively painful.

But for the sake of the ship--their very own ship--such discomforts
counted for little: the _Olivette's_ refit was rapidly approaching
completion, and for the present nothing else mattered.

In their task of getting the boat ready for sea the Scouts received
no human aid, but they were "assisted" by a big curly-haired dog,
with a white patch on his chest, who answered to the name of Bruin.

Twelve months before, Bruin, then a mere pup, had been rescued by the
Sea Scouts of the _Olivette_ when he was in dire peril on the Buxey
Sands in the Thames estuary. He was now a powerful, wonderfully
good-tempered beast, standing nearly thirty inches high, and
combining the sagacity of a full-grown dog with the high spirits of a
puppy. Nominally Peter's dog, Bruin was the recognized mascot of the
_Olivette's_ crew. He had adopted them all. He obeyed them and no one
else. He was friendly with most human beings with whom he came in
contact, but he took it for granted that his destiny was indissolubly
associated with the blue-jerseyed, white-capped lads who formed the
1st Milford Sea Scouts.

During the present operations Bruin's activities were mainly
concerned with trotting around with paint-brushes and tools.
Somewhere in the back of his doggie brain he had the idea that these
articles were a hindrance to his youthful masters, since they were so
busy working with them that they couldn't go to sea. Consequently,
Bruin did his best to help things on by running away with
paintbrushes and tools. Whenever anything was missing, Bruin was
dubbed the culprit. In nine cases out of ten the Sea Scouts were
right, and by dint of a little tracking they discovered the dog's
cache--a hole in a cabbage-patch in the coastguards' garden.

"She looks A1," exclaimed Dick Roche, backing-up the Patrol Leader's
unspoken satisfaction. "You've put that top coat on splendidly,
Peter."

"Not so dusty," admitted the Patrol Leader modestly. "The line's a
bit wonky under the starboard quarter. That was when Bruin started
jazzing on my back; but the compo will square that off all right. How
are you getting on?"

"Finished," declared the motor expert. "The magneto's timed just a
trifle in advance. I fancy she'll do better like that."

"If she does as well as she did before, I won't complain," rejoined
Peter. "Yes, I've made a good job of those top-sides--a thundering
good job. Now, lads, we'll leave her at that. The paint will be set
hard by to-morrow, if it doesn't rain."

"I don't fancy it will," said Hepburn. "The glass is high and steady.
What's the next job, Peter?"

"Final coat of varnish on the dinghy," announced the Patrol Leader.
"Then, the last thing to-night, we'll grease the ways. That will be
enough for one day's work, I fancy."

"We'll miss you when you go, Peter, old thing," remarked Flemming.

"Yes, I'm sorry I'm leaving you all," replied Stratton. "But a fellow
can't hang on here for ever. I mean to have a jolly time before I go,
though."

At the end of August, Peter Stratton was entering the Merchant
Service as a cadet. It was mainly owing to his previous training as a
sea scout that the directors of one of the biggest steamship lines
had accepted Peter.

With the prospect of losing their present Patrol Leader the Sea
Scouts had decided to have a glorious cruise before he severed his
connection with the _Olivette_. It was an elaborate scheme. They were
to "go foreign", taking the _Olivette_ across Channel to Havre and
then up the Seine to Rouen, and possibly Paris.

Scoutmaster Armitage had readily fallen in with the idea. Not only
would the execution of it give his lads another opportunity of
seamanship in the Channel, it would afford them a chance of seeing a
country not their own--a country that, during the last few years, has
been closely united in aims and sympathies with her former enemy.

The Sea Scouts had received several letters from their Scoutmaster
during his stay in town. In them he reported progress: how that he
had already obtained the necessary charts, and had applied for
passports and other forms that had to be produced before the crew of
the _Olivette_ landed on French soil.

Already Hepburn, the Troop photographer, had been busy on this
account, taking individual photographs of each member of the
_Olivette's_ crew. True to their traditions, the Sea Scouts kept
smiling, and in the resultant prints the smiles appeared to be
grossly exaggerated. The "rogues' gallery", as Stratton termed it,
had been duly sent off to Mr. Armitage, to adorn the necessary
passports.

The _Olivette_ being ready for launching, the Sea Scouts turned their
attention to the dinghy, until the little tender glistened with
varnish and the boat-house was festooned with her various fittings
all wet with "best copal ".

"Bruin!" exclaimed Stratton, addressing the high-spirited animal.
"Get outside. You're shaking your hairs all over the varnish. And
please don't look so excited. You aren't coming this trip."

"What?" exclaimed Warkworth in dismay. "Bruin not coming? Why not,
Peter? It wouldn't be the _Olivette_ without Bruin."

"It'll have to be," retorted the Patrol Leader. "It's rough luck on
Bruin, I admit; but if we took him to France he'd have to undergo six
months' quarantine when we returned. It isn't worth it, old son, is
it?"

The "old son" looked at his master and solemnly winked one eye.

"I mean it, Bruin," continued Stratton. Bruin shut one eye again, and
went outside to think things over.

Early next morning the Sea Scouts reassembled at Keyhaven. First
high-water--for there are double tides on this part of the coast--was
at 10.15, but all preparations had to be completed well before that
time.

As the lads approached the _Olivette_ the Patrol Leader came to a
sudden stop. He wasn't smiling this time. In fact his jaw dropped
appreciably. The boat's side looked as if it had developed a marine
form of scarlet fever. It was simply peeling all over. The smooth
coat of grey, over the application of which Stratton had spent so
much time and labour, was little better than an expanse of blistering
and flaking paint.

"What's happened, Peter?" asked Hepburn. "Has someone been fooling
about in the night?"

"Goodness knows," replied the Patrol Leader. "Frost might account for
it but we don't get frosts in July. The paint hasn't taken. We'll
have to scrape it all off. And Mr. Armitage is due back to-morrow."

While the Sea Scouts were still contemplating the unaccountable
misfortune, an old man approached. They knew him very well. His name
was Boldrigg, and he was a pensioned naval seaman, who, having served
as a coastguard, had settled down at Keyhaven. He was a widower, and
had lost both his sons in the War--one a seaman gunner, in the
Jutland Battle, and the other a corporal in a line regiment,
"somewhere in France".

"Ahoy, there!" shouted the old man. "Tied up in knots about something
I'll warrant. What's adrift?"

Peter pointed to the oyster-shell markings and blisters.

"Fresh on yesterday, Mr. Boldrigg," he declared, "and look at it now.
Paint's rotten."

The ex-coastguard walked to the side of the _Olivette_ and prodded
the sticky mess with a horny finger.

"It's got to come off, anyway," he remarked apologetically, "so it
don't hurt to touch it. No, Master Stratton, 'tain't the paint that's
at fault. You've been a-usin' sooji mooji."

"Yes," admitted the Patrol Leader, glancing at his discoloured
finger-nails. "Caustic soda. We had to; the old paint was on so
hard."

"There you are; there you are!" exclaimed the old sailor, shaking his
head. "You puts on stuff to take paint off, an' expects new paint to
stick over the sooji mooji. 'Tis like destroying weeds with
weed-killer and expecting seed to grow on the same ground that's been
poisoned, so to speak."

"Then how----" began Roche.

"Half a shake, my lad," continued Boldrigg. "Live and learn. You want
to get the paint off. An old brush'll do that. Then wash your wood
down with vinegar and water to kill the caustic soda in it. When it's
dry, paint away, and you'll find that coat'll be all correct an'
above board."

All hands set briskly to work. It was one thing trying to repair a
fault for which no reason was forthcoming; another to profit by
experience, with the knowledge that the mistake could be rectified.
By eleven in the morning the _Olivette_ was once more resplendent in
a glistening garb of grey.

"We'll have to make one coat do," decided Stratton, "and whack on the
final one at the first favourable opportunity. Bruin! Come away from
that varnish. It's not treacle, old son."

"When do we launch her?" inquired Woodleigh.

"When the paint's dry," replied the Patrol Leader. "It ought to be
set by seven o'clock to-night. We might try launching her on the
evening tide. Are you all game?"

A chorus of assent greeted Stratton's suggestion.

"Right-o," continued Peter. "We've done all that is to be done for
the present."

"The ballast?" queried Hepburn.

"Is tarred and perfectly dry," replied the Patrol Leader. "But we can
stow that to-morrow. By the time we've launched the _Olivette_ we'll
have done quite enough. There are limits. Besides, we want daylight
for that job."

At eight the same evening the Sea Scouts assembled once more. It was
now about half-flood and too early for the actual launching
operations, but the lads busied themselves by getting the dinghy out
of store, greasing the ways, and in a variety of odd but necessary
tasks.

Night fell, but the moon, almost approaching its full, gave
sufficient light for the Sea Scouts to proceed with their work.

"Tide's high enough now," declared Peter, grasping a sledge-hammer.
"Start knocking out those dog-spikes, lads. Stand clear of the ways
in case she starts off unexpectedly."

"All clear this end!" announced Roche.

"Same here," added Flemming.

"Right-o," rejoined Peter.

The last restraining bond was removed, but the _Olivette_ obstinately
refused to budge an inch. Levers were brought into action without
effect. In theory the fifty-four feet of hull ought to have glided
down the greased ways in style to the accompaniment of ringing cheers
from her crew. It was, therefore, a decided "damp squib" when she
chose to remain seemingly as immovable as the pyramids of Egypt.

"Perhaps the ways have sunk," suggested Alan.

"Tide's falling," announced Roche, wiping his heated brow. "It's
dropped a couple of inches."

"We must get her off," declared Peter. He felt that it was a slur
upon his shipwright's knowledge. He had been responsible for the
construction of the ways and the hauling out of the boat. The latter
task had been performed without a hitch, and now, unaccountably, what
ought to have been a relatively easy task had proved a regular
teaser.

"I vote we borrow Dr. Mallerby's motor-jack," suggested Flemming.
"That would start her on the downward path, I think." The suggestion
was adopted, and the Sea Scouts proceeded to the doctor's house,
which was situated at the remote end of Keyhaven village.

"How many fellows do we want for the stunt?" demanded Stratton,
addressing his six companions. "Some of you ought to be standing by
the boat."

"She won't move, worse luck," commented Roche.

A knock at the door was promptly answered by the doctor in person. It
was now after eleven o'clock and the maids had gone to bed.

"Hello!" was his greeting when he recognized the Sea Scouts. "What's
the game, eh? Are you going to do your good turn for to-morrow now,
and get ahead of the clock?"

"We want you to do us a good turn, sir, if you please," said
Stratton. "Can you lend us your motor-jack?"

"Certainly," replied Dr. Mallerby. "Where's the breakdown? Here's the
key of the garage, Stratton. Take the jack, and, when you return it,
lock up and put the key through the letter-box. Good-night!"

"Why," exclaimed Roche, as the lads approached the slipway, "I do
believe she has moved."

"Yes," added Rayburn, the Tenderfoot; "she's turned round."

There was a laugh at this. The idea that the heavy boat could have
swung round seemed preposterous. But the Tenderfoot was right after
all. The _Olivette_ had unaccountably launched herself, and was now
riding to her bow-rope and the ebb tide.



CHAPTER II

Stolen


"Well, I'm blest! How did that happen? Quick with the dinghy, lads.
No, Bruin, you stop there. It's much too late for little dogs to go
afloat."

Four of the Sea Scouts manned the dinghy and pushed off to the
_Olivette_. The bow-rope was cast off from the shore and made fast
through the dinghy's stern ring-bolt to the transom. Then, with the
gentle tide, the lads towed the _Olivette_ to her moorings.

"Not such a bad day's work after all," commented Stratton after they
had rowed back to the beach and taken the unnecessary jack back to
the garage. "Ten o'clock to-morrow will be early enough. It's no use
burning the candle at both ends."

Bidding his companions good-night, Peter whistled to Bruin and walked
briskly home. His house lay half a mile inland from Milford-on-Sea,
and to reach it he had to cut across a field, rejoining a main road
within a few yards of the old church.

It was now past midnight, but the crew of the _Olivette_ had told
their people that they would be late home, and, being used to sea and
ships, and knowing how dependent seafarers are upon the tide, the
lads' parents realized the necessity for late hours on this occasion.

Peter had just cleared the stile when he noticed two men approaching.
The moon was behind a cloud, but there was sufficient light to enable
him to see that they were two strangers, and apparently fisherfolk.
They were wearing jerseys, grey trousers, and canvas shoes. Slung
over their shoulders were their pilot coats and sea boots, while one
man carried a large canvas sack and was grumbling about its weight.

"Good night!" said the Patrol Leader, but the men passed him by in
silence.

"Surly blighters," soliloquized Peter. "Wonder what they're doing
this time of night. Fishermen from 'up along' most likely, who've had
to wait for a fair tide back."

A few minutes later Peter was sleeping the sleep of healthy
exhaustion, nor did he wake until eight o'clock next morning, when he
was roused by his father announcing that Tom Boldrigg was waiting to
speak to him.

"It's about the _Olivette_, Peter," added Mr. Stratton.

Hastily throwing on his clothes, the Patrol Leader went downstairs.

"Good morning, Mr. Boldrigg," he said.

"Good morning, Master Peter," rejoined the ex-coastguardsman, getting
to the point at once. "Do you know that craft of yours ain't on her
moorings?"

"No!" replied the astonished Peter. "She was there all right last
night, and I made sure the bridle of the moorings was firmly secured
to the bitts."

"Well, she ain't there now anyway," declared Boldrigg. "I was up and
about at seven, and I believe I seed her making up t'east'ard, but my
eyes ain't what they used to be, not by a long chalk. I went up to
the station to borrow a glass, but all the men are away on
manoeuvres. There's not a gobby in the place. So I came to see you,
an' I've passed the word on to Master Roche an' Master Flemming, and
told them to warn their opposite numbers."

"Then she's been stolen?"

The old man nodded.

"Seems like it, Master Peter. 'Tain't the first time a craft's been
pinched. I calls to mind when I were stationed at Pitt's Deep, back
in '97. But I'll spin that yarn another time. What are you going to
do, Master Peter?"

"I don't know yet," answered the Patrol Leader. He was thinking hard.
It seemed to him that the best step was to telephone to the various
coastguard stations in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Several of
the smaller and less important ones were temporarily closed down, but
there would almost certainly be men on duty in the large ones.

"I'll run as hard as I can down to Keyhaven," he continued--"if you
wouldn't mind my hurrying on, Mr. Boldrigg," he added apologetically.

Peter Stratton took to his heels, Bruin running with him, barking
excitedly as if in his doggy mind he realized that something of
extreme moment was troubling his young master.

Arriving at Keyhaven, the Patrol Leader found that Roche, Flemming,
Woodleigh, and Warkworth were already there.

"I've telephoned through to Lymington, Peter," reported Roche. "The
_Olivette_ can't be very far away. Her paraffin tank's empty, and
there's only enough petrol for an hour's run."

"Then," added Peter, with fierce determination, "we'll go after her
in the dinghy."

"Dinghy's gone too," declared Flemming. "Two men collared her. I
followed the track of her keel-band; two men with rubber boots, size
tens, with lozenge-pattern-stamped soles."

Just then Alan and Rayburn joined the others, while down the road old
Boldrigg could be seen moving at a smart pace.

"Mr. Boldrigg," hailed Peter, "may we borrow your boat?"

"Sure, certain," shouted the old seaman. "Take her. What be you goin'
to do?"

"Stand in pursuit," explained the Patrol Leader, when Boldrigg,
breathless with his exertions, gained the shore. "They've only enough
petrol for an hour's run. If they stop in mid-Solent, the west-going
tide will sweep them back, and we'll nab them."

"Then I'll come along with you," declared Boldrigg. "There's an old
fowling-piece in the boat, and though it ain't a 12-pounder Q.F.,
I'll guess 'twill make those blokes think twice if we gets within
range. All the gear's aboard, Master Peter. The lot of us'll manage
to launch her down the beach."

The _Mudlark_ was a decrepit old tub. Tom Boldrigg, although he had
been pensioned for a good number of years, had not arrived at that
stage when "there shall be no more sea". The boat was a centre-board,
flat-floored craft about twenty feet in length, decked in for'ard and
with a "fish-tray" aft. She was a suitable craft for running over the
flats and working the small unbeaconed creeks on the Hampshire shore;
but only in fine weather was she fit for the strong tides of the
Solent.

Willing hands hauled the _Mudlark_ down the beach. The mast was
stepped and the tan sprit-sail set. Into the boat crowded the six Sea
Scouts, with old Boldrigg at the helm. The Tenderfoot was left
behind. The fact that none of the crew had had breakfast passed
unnoticed in the excitement, but would be realized later, as would
also the mistake of omitting to provision and water the little craft.

"We'll keep well over agen the flats," said Tom. "There'll be a mort
less o' tide. You say there ain't but an hour's supply of oil aboard?
Well, at seven or eight knots she won't be as far up along as Cowes,
and now she's got a foul tide. We'll sight her in a couple of hours,
Master Peter."

Stratton and the other Sea Scouts were equally sanguine. From
experience they knew the helplessness of the _Olivette_ when deprived
of motor power. There were no sweeps on board, and she carried no
canvas. The only means of propulsion would be by towing her from the
dinghy, and it would take a terrific amount of energy in that
direction to move her through the water at a mile an hour.

Inquiries of the skipper of an eight-ton ketch yacht, abreast of
Jack-in-the-Basket, resulted in the information that no motor craft
had put into Lymington River since five that morning, so one possible
hiding-place was eliminated.

With the sail drawing steadily, the _Mudlark_ slipped rapidly over
the tide, keeping close to the fringe of mud-banks on the northern
shore of the Solent. Pitt's Deep, open to full view, was a blank. So
was the long expanse of shore between it and the entrance to Beaulieu
River.

"She might have got in through Bull Run," suggested Hepburn.

"Might," agreed Peter, "but it would take a fellow jolly well
acquainted with the place to get the _Olivette_ through. We'll try it
and see."

Close hauled on the port tack, the _Mudlark_ skimmed through the
narrow channel that affords a short but intricate cut into one of the
most picturesque creeks on the south coast. As the boat passed one of
the numerous "hards", the crew noticed a coastguardsman running
towards them.

"Up centre-board. Down helm."

The boat's forefoot grounded on the shingle, Stratton and Roche
jumped ashore to meet the bluejacket.

"You're looking for a motor-boat," announced the coastguard. "I had a
telephone message through half an hour ago. She hasn't put into this
river, and I've seen nothing answering to her description making to
the east'ard."

Then, catching sight of old Boldrigg, he shouted: "Hello, chum. What
ship now? Bit of a change from the old _Polyandra_."

Tom blinked his eyes as he studied the features of the coastguard.

"Can't recall your tally, mate." he replied.

"Not Tubby Young, boy 1st class aboard the old _Polyandra_ back in
'nought nine, an' you chief bos'un's mate?"

"Sure I do," exclaimed Boldrigg. "But you've altered the cut of your
figurehead. How's things?"

The old shipmates conversed for a few moments. Then the coastguard
suggested trying the creeks on the Isle of Wight shore.

"I've had my glass on Thorness Bay and as far down as Hamstead," he
added. "There's no craft up again the beach. Like as not she's pushed
into Newtown."

The Scouts now re-embarked. It occurred to them that not only was the
possibility of success diminishing but that they were hungry.

"We'll carry on as far as Cowes, anyway," decided Peter. "We'll make
inquiries there, and buy some grub at the same time. All ready? Get
her head round, Alan."

It was a long business stemming the now fierce tide. Half-way across
the Island shore they spoke a coaster anchored while waiting for a
fair tide. From her master they learnt that there had been someone on
deck since sunrise, and certainly no motor-boat answering to
_Olivette's_ description had passed between Egypt Point and Stone
Point.

"No use carrying on." said the Patrol Leader. "We'll stand across to
the opposite shore and put into Newtown for grub. A pull on that
mainsheet, Dick. Sit more to windward, you fellows."

Peter was now at the helm. Old Boldrigg, having handed over the
tiller, was sitting on the bottom-boards puffing contentedly at a
black clay pipe.

"Look!" suddenly exclaimed Hepburn, pointing astern. "There she is."

All hands looked in the direction indicated.

"Yes," agreed Peter, after a lengthy survey. "It's the _Olivette_
right enough, and under power, too."

The motor-boat was about a mile and a half away, but by the "bone in
her teeth", as her bows cut through the choppy waves of the
weather-going tide, it was evident that she was moving at full speed.

That rather upset the Sea Scouts' calculations. A man and six strong,
healthy boys, backing their arguments with a shot gun, could compel
the unlawful crew of the _Olivette_ to surrender if the boat were
motionless. It would be an entirely different proposition to hold her
up when she was forging ahead at eight knots. The _Olivette_ could
run down the _Mudlark_, or else turn away and leave her hopelessly
astern.

Peter knitted his brows. All the scoutcraft and seamanship at his
command failed to suggest a satisfactory solution to the problem. As
a preliminary he told Roche to signal to her to stop.

Even as he cudgelled his brains as to the next step, he was
interrupted by Dick Roche's voice exclaiming:

"She's not the _Olivette_ after all. There's a number painted on her
bows."

In a moment or so there was no doubt about it. The on-coming vessel
was identical in design, colour, and size with the _Olivette_, so
that the mistake was pardonable. There was a difference: on each bow
she bore the legend "R.A.F. No. 5", while her crew were rigged out in
the characteristic blue uniform of the Royal Air Force.

The motor-boat headed towards the _Mudlark_, slowed down, and
reversed engines.

"Pretty asses we look," soliloquized Peter, "getting those fellows to
stop. Jolly sporting of them, though."

"What's amiss?" demanded the officer in command, as he scrambled out
of the cockpit. "Joy riding and feeling sorry you came?"

"Not at all, sir," replied Peter, saluting. "We've lost a boat and
she's almost exactly the same as yours."

"S'long as she isn't exactly the same I don't worry," replied the
flying officer. "Come alongside and tell me all about It."

The Sea Scouts did so.

"All right," continued the officer. "If we spot the _Olivette_ we
know what to do. There were about a dozen boats of this class built
during the war, and no doubt yours was one of them. We're off to
Studland Bay to pick up a derelict flying-boat and are taking her
back to Calshot. Throw us your painter. We'll tow you back to Hurst."

"Cast us off opposite Newtown, sir, if you please," said the Patrol
Leader. "We want to see if our boat has put in there."

It did not take No. 5 long to arrive at the black buoy marking the
entrance to the complicated, five-armed estuary known as Newtown
River. Here the _Mudlark_ was cast off; sail was hoisted and with a
beam wind the Sea Scouts were quickly within the entrance.

Inquiries at the Coastguard Station were fruitless, so, having
practically cleared the little general shop of provisions, the lads
reembarked, and with the last of the west-going tide managed to
arrive at Keyhaven by six in the evening.

"There's Mr. Armitage and Rayburn," exclaimed Warkworth.

The Scoutmaster and the Tenderfoot were waiting at the edge of the
quay. Judging by the expression upon his face, Mr. Armitage showed no
concern over the obvious fact that the crew of the _Olivette_ had
returned without bringing with them the missing craft.

"Good evening, boys!" he exclaimed when the _Mudlark_ came within
easy hailing distance. "Any clues?"

"No, sir," replied the Patrol Leader despondently.

In present circumstances Stratton felt it a matter of impossibility
conscientiously to carry out the Scout maxim, "Keep smiling". It
simply couldn't be done. Dead tired with their long exertions, and
dispirited at their utter failure to find a trace of the stolen
_Olivette_, the crew could not raise as much as a suspicion of a
smile.

"Buck up, you fellows," exclaimed Mr. Armitage, holding aloft a
buff-coloured envelope. "I've just received a wire. The _Olivette_ is
safe and sound and in good hands!"



CHAPTER III

A Real Good Turn


"It's been a perfectly topping day," declared Patrol Leader "Rusty"
Rivett, of the 5th Weymouth Troop. "The way you followed that trail,
Phillips, was awfully good!"

The Troop members of the junior school of Weymouth College had had a
long day's scouting. The Midsummer Term exams were over, and, as two
clear days remained before that long-anticipated event "breaking up",
the Scouts had taken advantage of the time to put in a final tracking
practice.

It was now about five in the afternoon. "Dentibus" Dence, "Boney"
Barnicott, "Mutt" Thurgood, John Phillips, "Cock Sparrow" Rogers, and
Ben Legge had rallied round their Patrol Leader, and were lying on
the grass at the edge of the cliffs between Redcliff Point and
Osmington Mills.

Upon second thoughts, it was hardly correct to say they were lying on
the grass. The Scouts knew better than to rest their heated bodies on
the turf. Each lad had under him his now empty haversack, the
generous contents of which had found other homes since the Troop had
set out from Weymouth that morning.

It was a glorious view that met their gaze. The blue waters of the
bay were ruffled by the faintest suspicion of an on-shore breeze. The
sky was cloudless, meeting the expanse of open sea in a blurred
undefined line, cut by the misty shape of the Shambles Lightship. On
their right they could see the crescent-shaped terrace comprising the
town of Melcombe Regis, and the entrance piers of Weymouth Harbour.
Beyond lay the spacious sheet of water, enclosed by Portland
Breakwater, and dotted with war-ships of all sizes, from gigantic
battleships to long, low-lying destroyers. Still farther beyond, the
gaunt outlines of Portland cut the skyline until they sloped
gradually to the famous Bill, off which the dreaded "race" was
swirling and roaring as if fretting for its prey.

"I say," remarked Dentibus, pointing seaward, "what's that boat
doing? Looks as if there's something wrong."

The others followed the direction of the extended forefinger. At
about a quarter of a mile from shore was a large, grey-painted
motor-boat being towed by two men in a dinghy. The men were straining
at the oars, but progress was slow. They were evidently not making
for Weymouth, but towards the beach immediately underneath that part
of the cliffs upon which the Scouts were lying.

"Motor broken down," observed Rusty Riven, laconically. "Wouldn't
like their job, swotting in the sun."

"Why do they want to land here?" asked Phillips. "There's no shelter
if it should come on to blow."

"Ask me another," rejoined the Patrol Leader. "Perhaps they're fed up
and are going to walk into Weymouth and get another motor-boat to tow
them in."

"Can you make out her name?" asked Ben Legge.

"Hanged if I can," replied the Patrol Leader. "There is a name on the
bows, but she's too far off to see what it is. My word, she's bigger
than I thought!"

For some moments the Scouts watched in silence the tedious progress
of the broken-down motor-boat. They could see the two rowers glancing
frequently over their shoulders, as if gauging the distance that
remained between them and the beach.

Presently the rowers found themselves on the fringe of the light
ground-swell that was breaking upon the shore. Here they lay on their
oars until the towed craft ranged up alongside the dinghy. Then,
jumping on board the motor-boat, the pair proceeded to anchor.

"Here, you fellows!" exclaimed Phillips. "She's the _Olivette_. I can
see the name distinctly now. Doesn't she belong to the Milford Sea
Scouts? We read her log last year."

"Perhaps she isn't that _Olivette_," objected Thurgood.

"She looks like the drawing in the log," persisted Phillips.

"If she is," said the Patrol Leader, "there don't appear to be any
Sea Scouts on board. You've struck a false trail, Phillips."

John wasn't at all sure that he had. Being of an observant nature,
and fairly smart at making feasible deductions, he wasn't going to
abandon his theory until he was firmly convinced that his reasoning
was at fault.

He said nothing, but thought the more. Meanwhile, one of the men had
jumped into the dinghy and was holding her alongside. The other
fellow went below, presently to reappear with a canvas sack. This he
lowered into the stern-sheets of the dinghy, and casting off the
painter, rejoined his companion.

After about twenty strokes the rower rested on his oars and said
something to his chum, who was sitting on the dinghy's transom with
his feet resting on the canvas sack. Apparently they did not like the
aspect of the surf, for the fellow aft pushed the sack under the
stroke thwart, and lowered himself on the stern bench.

With that the rower gave another glance shoreward over his shoulder,
spat on his hands, and began pulling his hardest.

The dinghy rode the breaking swell in capital style until her
forefoot touched the beach. Smartly the two men sprang out, knee deep
in water, but they were not quick enough. Before they could haul the
dinghy clear of the waves a sea poured over her quarter.

"Scouts to the rescue!" shouted Rivett.

There was no hanging back. Simultaneously the lads swung themselves
over the shelving cliff, dropping or sliding from ledge to ledge;
then, gaining the beach, they ran at top speed to the assistance of
the two strangers.

The Scouts were hardly prepared for what happened next. The two men,
after gazing dumbfoundedly for a few seconds at the apparition of
seven active youngsters racing towards them, suddenly took to their
heels and fled.

Checking his first impulse to follow in pursuit of the two men, Rusty
Rivett halted his charges. Though the running figures appealed to the
Scout's instincts much in the same way as a startled hare does to a
dog, there was, after all, no justification for the chase, since no
reason was apparent why the men should take to their heels.

"Get the boat above high-water mark," ordered the Patrol Leader. "All
hands. Never mind getting your shoes wet."

It was a strenuous task, for by this time the dinghy had filled with
water to the level of the transom. Watching their opportunity as the
waves receded, the lads tilted the boat until she was nearly empty,
and then, using the bottom boards to prevent the keel sinking in the
soft beach, they eventually hauled their prize clear of the surf.

"What's in the sack, Rusty?" asked Thurgood.

The Patrol Leader hesitated before satisfying his curiosity. It
seemed too much like meddling with someone's private property.

"Pots and pans, I think," said Barnicott, stirring the bulging sack
with his foot.

Rivett unlashed the mouth of the sack.

"I say, you fellows," he exclaimed, "this is a rummy stunt. The bag's
chockfull of silver. No wonder those blighters made themselves
scarce; they're burglars." Here was a climax to a day's scouting,
despoiling robbers of their booty. Still, the situation required
careful handling. If the Scouts left the boat unattended, the thieves
might return. If they separated forces, one party standing by while
the others tracked the rogues, either part of the divided Troop would
be insufficient to cope with two powerful and desperate men. It
seemed remarkable that the two fellows should have landed with their
booty in broad daylight instead of waiting until darkness set in.

"Any of you fellows know how to row?" he asked.

"I do," replied Phillips. "My father has a boat, and in the 'hols' I
go fishing with him."

"Good man!" exclaimed the Patrol Leader approvingly. "You and I are
going off to the motor-boat to take charge of her. Dentibus, old son,
imagine you're doing the mile in the College sports, and cut off as
hard as you can to Weymouth. Find our Scoutmaster, and tell him what
has occurred. Ask him to bring a motor-boat along to tow us into the
harbour. The others will double along to Osmington Mills and warn the
coastguard. Phillips and I will keep a sharp look-out for signals if
you have to semaphore to us. Give a hand with the dinghy first. The
silver? We'll take that on board."

The little boat was successfully launched with no other casualty than
a couple of wet shirts.

"Take care not to destroy the trail," cautioned Rusty from the
dinghy, addressing the party told off for the purpose of reporting
the incident to the coastguard.

Without much difficulty Rivett and Phillips boarded the _Olivette_.
An examination of the boat resulted in the discovery, amongst other
things, of a bundle of charts on each of which appeared the words:
"1st Milford Sea Scouts".

"You're right then, John," remarked


[Illustration: "SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE!" SHOUTED RIVETT]


Rusty. "This boat's been stolen. There's no doubt about that. It's up
to us to do the Milford chaps a good turn by taking care of the
_Olivette_ until they claim her."

Before very long a semaphore message was received from Barnicott.

"Coastguard has telephoned to Weymouth police," read the message.

"There's a boat coming this way," announced Phillips.

The Patrol Leader, who had been examining the motor, called back:

"Where from? From Weymouth?"

"No," replied the scout. "From Osmington. There are two
coastguardsmen in her."

Rusty Rivett showed no enthusiasm over the intelligence. He wanted
the rescue of the _Olivette_ to be a Scout "stunt", and he rather
resented the coastguards butting in. That meant complications.

"Cheerio, my hearty!" exclaimed one of the "Bobbies", as the
skiff-dinghy ranged alongside. "We'll relieve you. Jim, put these
Scouts ashore in our boat."

Rusty got his back up. He belied his nickname, for there was precious
little oxydization of grey matter about him.

"Thanks," he replied. "We're staying on board."

"You'll be sea-sick for a dead cert," said the coastguard
insinuatingly. "There's a bit of a lop on. Best go ashore afore you
musters your bag."

"I beg your pardon," rejoined Rusty politely, "I haven't a bag to
muster. There's a sack on board, but that's going to be handed over
to the Weymouth police."

The man began to grin at the first part of the Patrol Leader's reply,
but towards the end he looked decidedly glum. Unless he could
persuade the Scouts to leave the vessel, he and his mate were "out of
it" as far as salvage was concerned. Rusty knew that. He was
determined to do the Milford Sea Scouts a good turn, which included a
saving of money that otherwise would have to be paid to the Receiver
of Wrecks.

"You weren't born yesterday, I see," observed the coastguard
caustically.

"No," replied the Patrol Leader sweetly. "In 1906. But that's neither
here nor there, is it?"

"Are you staying on board all night?" inquired the man. "If so, like
as not this 'ere boat'll drag and come up on the beach. You'd
better----"

"Stay where I am," interrupted Rivett. "For a little while: yes. As a
matter of fact we're expecting a motor-boat from Weymouth to tow her
in."

The two coastguards, finding that the _Olivette_ was in no immediate
danger, thereupon rowed off. As they went, the Patrol Leader
overheard one remark: "There ain't no flies on that Scout, Bill.
Well, jolly good luck to him, says I."

Rusty repented his action. The whole-hearted opinion of the
bluejacket showed that he was a good sort.

"Ahoy, there!" shouted the Patrol Leader. "Come back, please."

The men backed their oars and came alongside once more.

"Thought better on it?" asked the one addressed as Bill.

"Yes, and no," replied Rusty; "Look here: you think we're after
salvage?"

"Sure," said the man.

"We're not," declared the Patrol Leader. "This boat belongs to the
Milford Sea Scouts. She was stolen; we found her, and we mean to hand
her back. Scouts do not receive rewards for doing good turns,
especially to one another. And I quite see you wanted to stand in."

"That's so, sir," agreed Bill respectfully.

"Then take charge of the bag. It's full of silver stuff, probably
stolen from somewhere. If there's a reward offered for its recovery,
the money's yours."

With many expressions of thanks the two coastguards rowed of with the
booty, and before their boat reached the beach of Osmington Mills, a
motor-boat was observed leaving Weymouth and heading for the
_Olivette_.

It was the rescue party, consisting of the Scoutmaster of the 5th
Weymouth Troop, the skipper and owner of the motor-boat, Dentibus
Dent, and two other members of the Troop, who had not taken part in
the day's operations.

"Well done, Rivett," exclaimed the Scoutmaster. "We'll take the
_Olivette_ in tow. Signal to the rest of the Troop to make their way
back to the college. Can you two fellows manage the anchor by
yourselves?"

An hour later the _Olivette_ was safely moored close to the bridge in
Weymouth Harbour. The Scoutmaster and the Patrol Leader proceeded at
once to the Post Office, where they dispatched a telegram to the
Milford Sea Scouts: "Yacht _Olivette_ here in charge of 5th Weymouth
Troop. Undamaged. Come for her at any time."



CHAPTER IV

Repayment


This was the reassuring message that Mr. Armitage read. It had a
great effect upon the hitherto tired, jaded, and dispirited Sea
Scouts. Smiles came back to their bronzed features, and the
disappointing cruise in the _Mudlark_ in search of the _Olivette_ was
almost forgotten.

"The police have been active too," said Mr. Armitage. "There's been a
burglary at Hordle, and a quantity of valuable silver plate stolen.
The theory is that the burglars found their way to Keyhaven and
embarked on the _Olivette_ with the swag. There's a reward of fifty
pounds for the recovery of the missing property."

"I met a couple of fellows about midnight, sir," reported Stratton.
"They were carrying a heavy sack, and didn't answer when I said
'Good-night!' Of course, the idea never entered my head that they
were going to steal the _Olivette_."

"And they went westward," added Hepburn. "All the time we thought
they were making for Cowes or Southampton."

"Perhaps they started in that direction purposely to deceive anyone
on the look-out on shore," suggested Mr. Armitage. "If the morning
were at all misty here (it was at Southampton when I came through by
train) they might easily slip over to the Isle of Wight shore and
through the Needles Channel."

"What puzzles me," remarked Roche, "is how they got so far with no
paraffin and only a gallon or so of petrol on board."

"That is an interesting point," agreed the Scoutmaster. "No doubt
we'll find out more about it later on. Now the best thing you can do
is to turn in and make up arrears of sleep, because to-morrow we
journey to Weymouth to bring the truant home."

At seven the following morning the Sea Scouts assembled for their
long march to the railway station. Each lad carried a couple of
blankets, toilet requisites, and a well-filled haversack. Somewhere
in the vicinity, but making his presence as inconspicuous as
possible, was Bruin. The dog, with that unerring instinct which
animals possess, knew that something was on the cards, and he didn't
mean to be out of it if he could help it.

Peter had left him at home in spite of the pleading look in the
animal's eyes, but had not been gone five minutes before the dog
succeeded in making his way upstairs and jumping through an open
window on to the veranda. The ensuing eight-feet drop was nothing to
him. He alighted on the ground, and was off like a young tornado, in
spite of the admonition of Peter's mother to "come back like a good
doggie".

Having decided that the _Olivette's_ crew were about to travel
somewhere by train, Bruin took time by the forelock and preceded the
Sea Scouts to the station. Then, crouching behind a pile of luggage,
he awaited developments.

Upon arriving at the station Mr. Armitage took the tickets. When the
train steamed in there was a rush for seats, the Scoutmaster, Roche,
Flemming, and Woodleigh finding room in one compartment, and the rest
of the crew in another, which happened to be immediately in front of
the guard's van.

Bruin waited. He saw the carriage door being shut, but beyond
stiffening himself he made no attempt to quit his place of
concealment.

The guard blew a whistle and waved a green flag.

That was what the knowing dog was waiting for. With a flying leap
Bruin jumped through the open window of the compartment where Peter
was, landing on the knees of the astonished Patrol Leader.

"It's too late to chuck me out now," said Bruin, in doggie language.
"But, after all, you don't mind, do you?"

Peter patted the dog's head with one hand, while with the other he
felt for his purse, making a mental calculation of the fare for a dog
from Milton (the nearest railway station to Milford) to Weymouth.

When at length the Sea Scouts detrained at their destination, they
quickly realized that they were not strangers in a strange land, for
they were met by a number of Scouts, whose shoulder badges announced
them as belonging to the 5th Weymouth Troop.

"Awfully good of you to take charge of the _Olivette_," said Mr.
Armitage to the Weymouth Scoutmaster.

"Not at all," protested the other. "All in a day's work, so to speak.
No; the thieves are not yet in custody, but the police have several
very good clues. The rascals apparently couldn't manage the motor,
or, rather, they ran short of fuel; because they hailed a motor-boat
off Christchurch Head and borrowed a couple of tins of petrol. They
left the compass--your compass--as a security for payment. The crew
of the boat supplying the petrol read of the robbery and the
disappearance of the _Olivette_ when they returned to Poole, and they
immediately reported the matter of the meeting at sea to the police."

"That solves the mystery of how they carried on so far," said Roche.
"I know they had only enough petrol for about an hour's run. But our
compass?"

"You'll get that back all right," declared the Weymouth Scoutmaster.
"It will probably cost you the price of two tins of petrol, but it
will be worth it. They left you your magneto, remember."

Scouts and Sea Scouts wended their way to the long narrow harbour.
There, moored alongside a steam yacht, lay the _Olivette_, looking,
outwardly at least, none the worse for her unauthorized jaunt.

"I've left the dinghy at the steps of the bridge," said Patrol Leader
Rusty Rivett. "Sparrow Rogers is in charge of her. You are not
starting away at once, I hope."

"'Fraid so," replied Patrol Leader Peter Stratton. "As soon as we
take in enough paraffin for the run home. You see, we've started our
hols, and we are planning a voyage across Channel. We may even get to
Paris."

"How pricelessly topping!" ejaculated Rusty enviously. "It makes me
wish I were a Sea Scout, although we Scouts don't have half a bad
time. Sorry you can't stay, though we should have liked to show you
round. But you must come to Weymouth again, and then we can give you
a good time."

Peter went up to Mr. Armitage and saluted.

"Couldn't we invite the 5th Weymouth Troop for a trip, sir?" he
asked. "We could land them at Lulworth on the way home."

"Certainly," was the reply. "That is, of course, if they don't mind
padding the hoof from Lulworth."

The Scouts were quite enthusiastic over the proposal, while the
Scoutmaster seemed quite keen to prolong his acquaintance with Mr.
Armitage, for they had discovered that they had another thing in
common besides Scoutcraft--both had held commissions during the war,
one in the R.N.V.R., the other in the army.

The Weymouth Scouts hurried off to provide themselves with food:
Roche and Flemming departed to interview a garage proprietor with a
view to obtaining petrol and paraffin, while the rest of the Sea
Scouts proceeded on board the _Olivette_ to see if anything besides
the compass were missing, and to clear up and snug down before their
guests came off.

Just before twelve o'clock the _Olivette_ started with her double
complement on board. It was not an ideal time for a quick passage, as
the tide was setting to the west'ard. Fortunately the motor started
up easily, in spite of the fact that the two rascals who had stolen
the boat had been too lavish in the use of lubricating oil.

"That's better than giving her too little," declared Roche the
optimist. "She's running like a clock."

The day was clear and bright, with a calm sea and a hot sun shining
in an unclouded sky. What little wind there was blew off the land.
Provided the range of visibility held, the absence of a compass
mattered but little.

The _Olivette_ kept close inshore, so that the guests could point out
the interesting features of the Dorset coast, which they knew
intimately; but presently some of the Weymouth lads looked rather
puzzled.

They were too polite to express their perplexity at the manoeuvres of
Hepburn, who was at the helm of the _Olivette_.

Alan, constantly referring to the chart, was feeling none too certain
of his position. He kept looking shorewards, trying to determine the
various prominent objects.

Presently Phillips, who had been sitting on the coach-roof, descended
into the well, made his way past the motor, and climbed upon the
raised bench in the wheel-house.

"I say," he remarked, "are you taking us straight to Keyhaven?"

"Dash it all, no," replied Hepburn. "What put that idea into your
head? We are going to land you at Lulworth."

"Really," rejoined John. "Do you know you are past Lulworth already?"

On deck the two Scoutmasters were enjoying the joke, although it was
rather a set-back to Mr. Armitage, who had been dilating upon the
youthful helmsman's skill in coastal navigation.

To them came Stratton.

"One of the Weymouth fellows says we have overrun Lulworth, sir," he
reported.

"'Fraid you have," agreed Mr. Armitage. "It's over there."

He pointed over the port quarter to what appeared to be a small rift
in the cliffs.

"That's Lulworth, Peter," he added.

"Why, sir," exclaimed the astonished Patrol Leader, "it's so small we
couldn't possibly take the _Olivette_ in there."

"You are not the first to make that remark," observed the Weymouth
Scoutmaster. "Many yachtsmen have mistaken Mupe Bay and Worbarrow Bay
for Lulworth Cove. The coastguard look-out hut on the western cliff
is the best mark to distinguish it."

Meanwhile Alan had put the helm hard-a-starboard, "meeting" it when
the boat's head pointed towards the entrance.

As the distance decreased, the real magnitude of the entrance became
apparent. In reality, instead of being only twenty yards in width, as
Peter had imagined, it was more than four times that distance. On
either hand the cliffs rose sheer, with a heavy ground-swell lashing
the base of the rocks.

"Keep a bit more over to the eastern side," cautioned Mr. Armitage.
"Right--at that. There's plenty of water."

"Hadn't we better clear away the anchor, sir?" asked Stratton.

"Not yet," was the reply. "There'll be heaps of time when we're
inside the cove. Anchor work on the foredeck with this swell on is a
bit too risky, especially when it's not really necessary."

The entrance was farther away than the crew imagined, and when at
length the _Olivette_ glided into the landlocked cove, they were too
busy getting ready to anchor fully to appreciate their surroundings.

"Easy.... Stop.... Touch astern!" ordered Stratton. Then, "Let go!"

The anchor plunged to the bottom of the cove, and when the disturbed
sand settled, the lads could distinctly see the "hook" embedded in
the ground two fathoms beneath the keel.

"I say," remarked Flemming. "We're too close inshore, aren't we?"

He pointed to a pebbly beach at the base of a frowning cliff. The
rounded stones appeared to be less than fifty yards away, but
presently a man walking along the shore banished the deception, for
the "pebbles" were really large boulders, and the size could not be
estimated with any degree of accuracy unless by comparison with the
height of a known object.

"It's a place for surprises," observed the Weymouth Scoutmaster. "The
stupendous cliffs destroy one's sense of proportion. As a matter of
fact we are quite a hundred and fifty yards from the beach. Are you
coming ashore?"

"We can spare two hours for exploration," replied Mr. Armitage. "By
that time we'll pick up a fair tide round St. Alban's Head. I'm
thinking of putting into Poole to-night in order to recover our
compass."

Three times the dinghy ferried parties of Scouts to the beach, until
the _Olivette_, deserted, lay rolling heavily in the sheltered basin.

"How would you like to tumble from the top of that cliff to the
bottom, Rayburn?" asked Patrol Leader Rusty Rivett, addressing the
Sea Scout Tenderfoot.

"Wouldn't like it at all," replied Rayburn, throwing back his head
and looking upwards. "Why do you ask?"

"'Cause it's been done," replied Rivett. "A girl fell over the cliff,
a height of between three hundred and four hundred feet, and landed
alive at that spot where you see a notice board. The notice tells you
all about it."

"Stratton's brother jumped out of a balloon over a thousand feet up,"
declared the Tenderfoot, not to be beaten in the anecdote line. "He
fell five hundred feet before the parachute opened, didn't he Peter?"

The lads roamed over the downs surrounding the cove, and inspected
the remarkable Stair Hole, where the strata shows curious "faults",
the lines resembling a series of semicircles. They climbed to the
look-out hut, whence by the aid of the coastguard's telescope they
could see a wide expanse of cliff, terminating at the frowning
headland of St. Albans; while from the elevated post the cove looked
little bigger than a bath-tub, and the _Olivette_ like a toy boat
floating on it.

"Time for us to part company," announced Mr. Armitage. "You've had
more than two hours."

Reluctantly the Scouts and Sea Scouts bade each other farewell. The
former expressed themselves as being more than repaid for their good
turn by the trip in the _Olivette_.

"And mind you come to Weymouth again when you have the chance," said
Phillips. "Right-o," replied Peter. "But I hope we don't have to come
for the same purpose. We had a rotten time until we knew the
_Olivette_ was safe."

The Sea Scouts re-embarked in the dinghy. Bruin preferred to swim off
to the boat, but before he was hauled on board he felt very sorry for
himself.

The _Olivette_ was still rolling heavily in the long gentle swell. It
was quite a different motion from that in a seaway--a long swing-like
movement that would quickly put the most experienced seafarer on his
mettle.

Watching their opportunity as the _Olivette_ rolled towards them, the
Sea Scouts gained the deck. Roche made the painter fast, while Peter
and Eric Flemming lay at full length on the waterways in order to
haul Bruin on board.

It was a ticklish task, for the dog realized the danger of being
crushed by the boat's bilge keel as she rolled. Twice the Patrol
Leader made a grab at the animal's collar as the gunwale dropped to
within a few inches of the water.

At the third attempt his fingers closed round the scruff of Bruin's
neck.

"Got him!" he shouted. "Bear a hand, Eric."

Flemming leaned outboard to assist his chum. As he did so the
_Olivette_ began to roll in the opposite direction. Peter, still
hanging on to his pet with one hand, grasped Eric's wrist with the
other. Bruin's weight when clear of the water considerably exceeded
Stratton's expectations, with the result that the Patrol Leader lost
his balance and toppled overboard, bringing Flemming with him.

A roar of laughter from the rest of the crew greeted the reappearance
of the two lads. Both were good swimmers, and as they came to the
surface well clear of the _Olivette's_ hull, they were in no danger.
Even Peter and Eric grinned when they shook the water from their hair
and eyes, while Bruin, delighted beyond measure at the idea that his
master and Flemming were sharing his bath, began tugging at
Stratton's sleeve.

At length Roche jumped into the dinghy and hauled Peter over the
transom. Then the Patrol Leader hiked his pet over the stern and
assisted Flemming into the dinghy, while Roche scrambled into the
bows in a vain attempt to escape a shower-bath as the dog vigorously
shook himself.

A few minutes later the _Olivette's_ motor was running. The anchor
was weighed and secured, then with three ringing cheers for the 5th
Weymouth Troop, who still lingered on the beach, the Sea Scouts
resumed their homeward voyage.



CHAPTER V

Trapped by the Tide


It was one of those ideal days for cruising under power. The sea was
smooth, visibility good, with the sun shining brightly overhead. The
rugged coast, never more than a mile away on the port hand, presented
an ever changing panoramic view of the picturesque Dorset coast.

With Woodleigh at the helm and Roche giving an occasional look at the
smoothly-running motor, the rest of the crew knew that they had
nothing to worry about. Slipping off their jerseys, they lay upon the
deck, basking in the glorious sunshine, too happy and contented even
to indulge in conversation beyond a few words of appreciative
admiration or the superb view.

"Port helm a couple of points, Woodleigh," ordered the Patrol Leader,
after consulting the chart. "We'll have to give Kimmeridge Ledges a
wide berth."

Mr. Armitage, hearing the caution, nodded his head approvingly.
Stratton had acted upon his own initiative in spite of being a
stranger to this part of the coast. The Scoutmaster had placed the
responsibility upon the lad's shoulders, and Peter had shown that the
trust had not been accepted lightly.

"Isn't that where the _Treveal_ was wrecked two winters ago, sir?"
asked Flemming.

"Yes," replied Mr. Armitage, pointing shorewards. "About there. Every
vestige of the vessel has disappeared by this time. It's a bad piece
of coast, with parallel reefs extending seawards. A vessel doesn't
stand a dog's chance if she gets held up on those ledges."

"Why don't they have a lighthouse?" asked Hepburn. "One on St.
Alban's Head would warn seamen."

"I don't know," replied Mr. Armitage. "If there had been one where
you suggest, Alan, it would have saved a good many precious lives.
You see, Anvil Point Lighthouse, which is hidden by St. Alban's Head,
is useless to a ship that is driven too close inshore. Now then, you
fellows, unless you want a ducking, you'd better come aft. We're
nearing the Race."

Less than half a mile ahead the otherwise smooth sea was agitated
with a patch of white-crested breakers extending seawards for more
than a couple of miles. Even at that distance the waves looked
decidedly dangerous.

"We've got to go through that, sir?" asked Warkworth. "Isn't there
any way to avoid it?"

"By keeping a tremendous way out," replied the Scoutmaster. "It's
fairly rough, but I've known it decidedly worse. Woodleigh."

"Sir?"

"Steer straight for the headland now. There's plenty of water. We
shall probably miss a lot of the race by keeping close to the
cliff--twenty yards will be near enough."

"What causes a race, sir?" asked the Tenderfoot.

"The tide surging over a submerged ledge," replied Mr. Armitage.
"It's deep water on both sides of the headland and only a few fathoms
over the rocks extending seawards from it. Now, you fellows, all
hands into the well; we don't want anyone slung overboard into the
ditch."

"The dinghy, sir?" inquired Flemming.

"She won't hurt. Her painter's sound," replied the Scoutmaster.
"There's enough scope to prevent her overrunning us and smashing her
bows under our counter."

In another minute the _Olivette_ was within the influence of the
race. At first she began to yaw in spite of the helmsman's efforts to
keep her on her course. It seemed as if a giant hand was gripping the
boat's keel and playfully shaking the hull.

Then, almost without warning, a sea poured over the starboard
quarter. Much of the water was checked by the coaming, but a
considerable quantity found its way below, liberally besprinkling the
crew. Almost immediately after, another cataract poured in over the
port quarter. For a moment it felt as if the _Olivette_ were dropping
vertically, then another sea, slapping viciously against her
starboard bow, threw her head off a good four points.

The helmsman ported helm to meet the deflection, but for some seconds
the vessel refused to answer. Almost the whole of the rudder was out
of water, while the propeller was racing madly in the air.

The passage through the race was of short duration, but it was fairly
strenuous while it lasted. Then, as suddenly as she had entered the
turmoil, the _Olivette_ glided into practically calm water.

"Ugh!" ejaculated Flemming, shaking the water from his clothes. "I
don't like races; give me a straightforward heavy sea any old day. I
expected the old boat to break her back."

"It is a disconcerting motion, I admit," said Mr. Armitage. "The
waves are so hollow that the boat was not evenly supported. But it
would take more than that to break her back, Eric."

Dancing Ledge and Anvil Point were quickly passed. The crew were
deeply interested in the famous Tilly Whim Caves, where for centuries
smugglers and wreckers were in almost indisputable possession. Then
the lads had a clear view of the granite "globe", although they were
a bit disappointed at its size.

"It's not much bigger than a football," declared Woodleigh.

"Isn't it?" remarked Mr. Armitage drily. "You wouldn't care to have
to kick it, Will. You've lost your sense of proportion. The magnitude
of the cliffs deceives you. See a buoy ahead?"

"On our starboard bow, sir."

"Then keep it well to port. That marks the tail of Peveril Ledge.
You'll see Swanage opening out in a minute or so."

A few miles farther on and the granite cliffs gave place to frowning
walls of glistening white chalk, terminating in the well-known
pinnacle of Old Harry.

"We're getting into familiar waters now," said the Scoutmaster. "We
were close--rather too close--to that point when we rescued the S.S.
_Pent-y-coote_."

"But we never saw the land," added Flemming.

"No; but we might have hit it," remarked Mr. Armitage gravely.
"Providence was kind to us that day. Hello, Peter what is interesting
you--the Parson's Barn?"

The Patrol Leader was gazing landwards towards a large cave close to
Old Harry.

"There are some people waving to us, sir," he replied.

"Eh?" exclaimed Mr. Armitage sharply; then raising his binoculars he
brought them to bear upon the spot indicated by the Patrol Leader.
"Friends of yours, Peter?" inquired Flemming facetiously. The
Scoutmaster returned his binoculars to their case.

"Stand in a bit," he ordered. "There's plenty of water. Slow her
down, Roche, and stand by. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, those people
are cut off by the tide."

The _Olivette_ approached at half speed to within a cable's length of
the shore. Mr Armitage was correct in his surmise, for, standing on a
narrow strip of beach were two men and two girls. The men were
barefooted, as if they had vainly attempted to wade past the foot of
the cliffs. Already the tide was rising rapidly, and in less than an
hour their refuge would be invaded by the sea.

"Away dinghy's crew!" exclaimed the Scoutmaster. "Be careful how you
land. There's a ground swell running."

The _Olivette_ lost way. The dinghy was hauled alongside, and into
her jumped Stratton and Flemming, each manning an oar.

Proceeding cautiously, they allowed the dinghy's forefoot to ground
lightly on the pebbly beach. Flemming, with an oar, kept the stern
end on to the waves, while the Patrol Leader held on to the bows.

"Think we'll manage the lot, Peter?" asked Flemming in a low voice.
"Four of them?"

"I think so," replied the Patrol Leader.

"Now, please," he added, raising his voice. "As sharp as you can.
We're bumping a bit."

It was a tricky operation, embarking the rescued persons, for none of
them seemed at home in a small boat.

"Sit down, please," ordered Stratton firmly. "You'll be quite all
right if you keep still. Ready, Eric? Right-o, push off."

By the united efforts of the two Sea Scouts the dinghy was backed
clear of the beach. Then, when clear of the swell, the boat was
turned until her bow pointed seaward.

"Give way together!" exclaimed Peter.

Awkwardly the four trippers climbed out of the dinghy upon the
_Olivette's_ deck, whence they were assisted into the well.

"Rather an experience, isn't it?" remarked Mr. Armitage.
"Experience?" echoed one of the men bitterly. "It was a disgraceful
bit of work. A boatman told us we could walk right round the point.
We could--but we couldn't get back. He never said a word about the
tide rising."

"And you never thought to ask," mused the Scoutmaster. "There's not
much harm done," he added aloud. "We'll land you in half an hour. Are
you staying at Swanage?"

"No, at Bournemouth," replied one of the girls, who, now that the
danger was over, showed more spirit than either of her male
companions.

"So much the better, then," observed Mr. Armitage. "We can land you
without going out of our course."

"We are awfully grateful," said the girl.

"And we are glad to be able to do you a good turn," rejoined Mr.
Armitage. "That's where Sea Scouts come in handy."



CHAPTER VI

Why the Water Failed


"Are we staying here long, sir?" asked Hepburn.

"That depends upon how soon we recover our compass," replied the
Scoutmaster. "Why did you ask?"

"Because I'd like to take these films ashore and get them developed,
sir," explained Alan.

Mr. Armitage looked rather surprised.

"I thought you did your own developing and printing," he remarked.

"Usually, sir," replied the lad, "but I've taken something that might
be a bit exciting, and I'm in a hurry to see the result."

The _Olivette_ was lying off Poole, in an anchorage locally known as
"off Stakes".

It was well above the approach-channel to the quays, and
consequently, out of the way of traffic, except for a few yachts and
fishing-boats and an occasional barge engaged in carrying clay.

"Right-o," agreed Mr. Armitage. "I'm going ashore now to make
inquiries. Anyone else for the beach?"

At length the dinghy pushed off, Hepburn and Warkworth rowing, and
the Scoutmaster in the stern-sheets. The rest of the crew elected to
remain on board, especially after seeing a man in a neighbouring
yacht hook a couple of flounders in quick succession. They, too,
meant to try their luck with hook and line.

"How about bait?" inquired Flemming. "There's a youngster digging for
ragworms on the mud-flats. We'll hail him and get him to sell us
some."

The boy quickly responded to the hail, and plodding along on
mud-pattens to the water's edge, jumped into a flat-bottomed punt and
rowed off to the _Olivette_.

A bargain was soon struck, and for the sum of sixpence Flemming
obtained a rusty tin containing between thirty and forty slimy,
writhing worms. The hooks were baited and the lines paid out.
Patiently the "band of hope" waited, but save for the quivering of
the lines in the tideway, the ground tackle was quite idle.

"Slow work this," observed Roche, giving envious glances at the
fellow on the neighbouring yacht, who was hauling in prizes with
unfailing regularity. "How is it that that merchant has all the fun,
and we don't get so much as a bite?"

The sun set in a blood-red sky, betokening a continuance of fine
weather. As the orb of day disappeared behind the distant hills the
young flood set in.

Then did the Sea Scouts' luck change. "Dabs", plaice, and flounders
were hauled on board in quick succession, until a pailful of fish
represented the combined efforts of four lads in under half an hour.

Suddenly Flemming gave a shout of astonishment as his line was almost
jerked out of his hand.

"I've hooked a whopper!" he exclaimed. "Doesn't the thing tug?"

"Play with him, then," suggested Peter. "He'll break your line if you
don't."

"He's almost broken my fingers," rejoined the excited sportsman.
"That's the whole of my line, too."

"Haul in gently," cautioned the Patrol Leader. "For goodness sake
don't lose the fish."

Inch by inch, foot by foot, the thin line came inboard, until a
furious swirl announced that the "catch" was not far from the
surface.

The rest of the Sea Scouts left their lines and crowded round the
wildly excited Flemming.

"It's a twenty-pounder, Eric," declared Woodleigh. "You're in luck."

"Twenty-pounder!" ejaculated the wellnigh breathless Flemming
scornfully. "Feels like a ton.... Hello! What is it?"

"An eel--conger, most likely," declared Stratton, as a hideous head
appeared. "Stand by with your knife, Woodleigh, and nick the brute
behind the neck when Flemming gets it on board."

Resisting to the last, the salt-water reptile was hauled up the side
and thrown on deck. At the second attempt Woodleigh succeeded in
hacking the eel just behind its head.

"That's settled it!" he declared. "What an ugly brute. Now, if old
Boldrigg were here, he'd have the eel skinned in a brace of shakes,
and would wrap the skin round his ankle."

"What for?" asked Rayburn.

"He says an eel's skin is a certain cure for his rheumatism," replied
Woodleigh.

"Old sailor's superstition, more'n likely. When----"

"Coil down and stand by, lads," ordered the Patrol Leader. "Here's
Mr. Armitage coming off in the dinghy."

"Well, lads, I see you've had some luck," was the Scoutmaster's
greeting as he boarded the _Olivette_, nearly slipping on a flat-fish
as he did so.

"Yes, sir," replied Peter; "more than a pailful of them. The one that
nearly threw you must have wriggled on to the deck."

"What do you think of this eel, sir?" asked Flemming.

"It's certainly of a decent size," said Mr. Armitage, turning the eel
over with his foot. "Ready for supper? I am."

"Roche is cook, sir," announced the Patrol Leader. "He's in the
galley now cleaning fish, I think."

"They're cleaned already and in the frying-pan," shouted the cook,
who had overheard the dialogue between Mr. Armitage and Stratton.
"Get the gear out on the table, Alan, and everything will be ready in
a quarter of an hour."

By the time the anchor-lamp was lighted and hoisted, and everything
on deck made snug for the night, supper was announced.

"How about the eel?" asked Flemming. "Where is it? Has anyone taken
it below?"

No one had seen it during the last ten minutes. A search on the
foredeck produced no satisfactory result.

"P'r'aps the thing wasn't dead after all," suggested Warkworth.

"It was as dead as a door nail," declared Flemming, somewhat
disappointed at the loss of his trophy. "Did any careless blighter
kick it overboard, I wonder?"

"I don't see that it matters very much," said Peter. "None of us like
stewed eels, but of course we might have given it away to someone."

The Sea Scouts trooped below to the after cabin, where the supper
things were already laid.

Roche thrust his head through the open doorway.

"We're short of water," he declared. "It took quite a time to fill
the kettle."

"What?" exclaimed Stratton. "Why, we only filled the tank the day
before we launched the boat. Are you sure it's empty?"

"Look for yourself, my festive," suggested Flemming.

Peter went for'ard. Under the wheel-house was a tap communicating
with the fresh-water tank under the foredeck. Upon turning the tap
the Patrol Leader had to come to the conclusion that the cook's
report was correct. There was only a slight trickle of water.

"Evidently our friends the thieves were a bit heavy on the fresh
water," remarked Mr. Armitage. "Wonder what they used such a quantity
for? Fortunately there's enough to make the cocoa with. To-morrow
we'll run alongside the quay and fill up by means of a hose."

The night passed without incident, although Bruin persisted in
barking at the few belated craft that were making for their moorings.
The Sea Scouts were getting used to this sort of thing, for whenever
the _Olivette_ was in a strange harbour, the dog seemed to have a
fixed idea that no other boat ought to be in the vicinity; and when,
as often happened, there was another dog to be seen, Bruin simply
bristled with indignation and barked the more. "Water rats," as the
longshore thieving fraternity are called, wouldn't have much chance
surreptitiously to acquire the _Olivette's_ gear when Bruin was on
board.


[Illustration: THE HIGH-PRESSURE JET CAUGHT THE TENDERFOOT FULL IN
THE FACE (missing from book)]


Next morning Hepburn, who was "cook of the day", could only obtain
enough fresh water for half a cup of tea per head, and then only by
waiting patiently at the full-open tap while the water trickled
slowly.

So directly the dry meal was over the crew set to work to take the
_Olivette_ into the harbour. Here they found no vacant berth
alongside the quay, but under the harbourmaster's directions they
brought up against a three-masted schooner flying the Italian ensign.

"The _Giuseppe Emilio_," said Roche, reading the name on her stern.
"She's a whacking big craft. Wonder what she's for?"

"Loading clay," replied Mr. Armitage. "There's a great quantity of
clay shipped away from Poole. Stand by: here comes the hose."

As a matter of fact there were two hoses coupled together, leading
from the hydrant on the quay across the _Giuseppe Emilio's_ deck to
the _Olivette_.

"How many gallons do you want, sir?" shouted the harbourmaster's
assistant.

"Two hundred, please," replied the Scoutmaster; "we're all ready."

Roche had opened the deck-plate, and had inserted the nozzle of the
hose into the three-inch pipe leading to the tank. There was a
preliminary gurgle, and then like a young torrent the water poured
into the tank.

"This is some stunt," declared Roche. "Better than pouring it in
bucket by bucket as we usually do."

Before anyone could offer any remark, the tank overflowed. Roche,
attempting to point the hose overboard, slipped on the streaming
deck. Still grasping the nozzle, he sprawled at full length, while a
high-pressure jet caught the Tenderfoot full in the face, hurling him
backwards into Flemming's arms, and simply soaked every Scout in the
well.

Before anyone could go to Roche's assistance, gallons of water had
flowed into the boat. The Italian seamen, who were leaning over the
bulwarks, screamed with amusement, until Woodleigh, grasping the
nozzle, directed the jet upwards into their faces. Then their
laughter gave place to furious gesticulations.

"Turn off!" shouted Stratton to the invisible attendant at the
hydrant.

There was no response. It was not until the Patrol Leader hoisted
himself on to the _Giuseppe Emilio's_ chain-plates and crossed her
deck and sprang ashore that the flow of water ceased.

"You said two hundred gallons," said the man, pointing to the meter
attached to the hydrant, "and you've had less than eighty."

"And at least half of that wasted," added Stratton. "Something's
wrong somewhere."

There was. Subsequent examination of the tank, which was possible by
removing a watertight cover-plate, resulted in the discovery of
Flemming's eel with its head wedged firmly in the outlet pipe.
Although its head had been half severed, the eel had contrived to
insert his tail under the deck-plate, and had prised open the metal
cover sufficiently to enable it to wriggle down the feed-pipe into
the tank. Then in a futile attempt to escape, the eel had jammed its
head into the outlet, thus preventing the water to flow.

"There's some satisfaction in finding out why the water failed,"
remarked Mr. Armitage as he retired to his cabin to change his
saturated garments.



CHAPTER VII

The New Hand


"And how did your photographs turn out, Alan?" asked Mr. Armitage,
when he reappeared on deck, none the worse for his involuntary shower
bath.

"I haven't any prints yet, sir," replied Hepburn. "The man at the
photographer's shop said he could only develop the films in the time.
Here they are, sir."

The Scoutmaster took the proferred envelope, and from it extracted
six films.

"Ah, that's good!" he exclaimed. "The 5th Weymouth Scouts on board
the _Olivette_. Bruin begging--that's capital. Lulworth Cove--rather
a large subject for so small a film, Alan. No. 4: Old Harry viewed
from seaward. You'll have a good light-and-shade effect there when
the film's printed. Hello! What in the name of creation is this--and
this?"

Mr. Armitage held up the fifth and sixth films, first longway and
then upright. Alan watched the Scoutmaster's puzzled expression with
amusement, but offered no explanation of what the negatives were
supposed to be.

"I can't make either of them out," he declared. "It might represent a
view of St. Alban's Race taken from the masthead, but I know that you
didn't go aloft, Alan. Perhaps some of the other fellows would like
to have a shot at solving the mystery."

The two films were passed round, after the general caution being
given to avoid touching or scratching the gelatine face.

"Looks like a complicated contour map," hazarded Flemming, "or fancy
furrows on a hill-side. Is it?"

Alan smiled and shook his head.

"Give it up, then," said Flemming resignedly.

"Finger-prints," explained Hepburn. "Greasy finger-prints on the
induction pipe of the engine. I spotted them directly we came on
board, so I used the double extension of my camera and took a couple
of time exposures. The finger-prints are almost certainly those of
one of the thieves."

"Unless some of the Weymouth fellows touched the pipe," objected
Roche.

"I don't think so," replied Hepburn. "For one thing they were made by
rather a big man, for the actual marks were an inch and one-eighth
wide."

"If your surmise is a correct one, Alan," said Mr. Armitage, "those
negatives ought to be most useful to the police."

"That's what I thought, sir," replied the young amateur detective.

"Then you had better come ashore with me and see the superintendent,"
suggested the Scoutmaster. "It is the duty of every citizen to assist
the police; but I hope by so doing we don't have to put off our trip
across Channel."

"Might we have to do that, sir?" asked Roche in awestruck tones.

"More than likely," rejoined Mr. Armitage. "Especially if the thieves
are arrested. The police will certainly call us, or some of us, as
witnesses. Now, then I'm going ashore to interview the harbourmaster
and find out the owner of the motor-yacht who supplied the thieves
with petrol in exchange for our compass. One hand will have to remain
on board. The others can have leave till eleven o'clock."

Mr. Armitage's task was accomplished quicker than he had anticipated.
Inquiries resulted in the information that the holder of the
_Olivette's_ compass was a well-known yachtsman, who, upon hearing
the circumstances under which he had befriended the two thieves,
handed back the gear without hesitation. At the police-station the
Scoutmaster had to sign a statement, and when he produced the
negatives of the finger-prints, the station-sergeant positively
beamed with satisfaction.

"These ought to work the trick, sir," he remarked. "Scotland Yard
will no doubt be able to identify the criminals. It's my belief that
they are not fishermen but cracksmen well known to the Yard. You'll
hear from us before very long, sir, I don't doubt."

Mr. Armitage made no audible comment. Personally he was not at all
anxious to have to spoil his lads' holiday by attending police courts
and the assizes. Mentally he decided to hurry up matters as far as
the Paris trip was concerned, since there were witnesses sufficient
to prove the culprits' guilt without the Sea Scouts being called upon
to give evidence.

At noon the _Olivette_ cast off and proceeded on the last stage of
her homeward voyage. It was now blowing steadily from the
sou'-west'ard, and with a fair tide outside the harbour the run
seemed likely to be quickly performed.

With the last of the ebb the _Olivette_ made short work of the
distance between Poole Quay and the Bar Buoy; then starboarding helm,
shaped a course to pass a mile to the south'ard of Christchurch
Ledge.

Exactly two hours after leaving Poole, the staunch little craft
arrived at her moorings in Keyhaven Lake.

"Now, lads," said Mr. Armitage, "the sooner we make a proper start
the better. It will take us the rest of to-day and the whole of
to-morrow to get ready for our cross-Channel trip. You know your
respective duties, so 'get on with it', as the Service saying goes.
By the by, Hepburn, you're steward. There's one thing I want to
remind you about. Don't take too many boxes of matches, or we may
have trouble with the _douaniers_ on the other side. Matches are
taxable articles in France."

During the afternoon Mr. Armitage cycled over to Lymington to obtain
the necessary clearance papers from the Customs, and to collect a
bundle of charts and sailing directions for the French coast lent him
by a yachting acquaintance.

In their Scoutmaster's absence the Sea Scouts toiled hard, for there
was a lot to be done before the interrupted refit of the _Olivette_
was accomplished. Fresh water, fortunately, they had in plenty, but
the paraffin- and oil-tanks required replenishing, and there was a
considerable amount of spare gear to be brought down from the store.

That night Stratton, Roche, and Bruin were to sleep on board. In view
of previous events the Patrol Leader decided to take no risks of
another postponement.

After supper Peter and Roche took Bruin ashore for a run, and on the
quay they encountered old Boldrigg.

"We're off to France the day after tomorrow, Mr. Boldrigg," announced
Stratton, after he had related the circumstances under which the
_Olivette_ had been taken to Weymouth and back again. "We're hoping
to go right up to Paris, and perhaps we may get a chance of seeing
some of the battlefields."

"Don't I wish I were a-comin' with ye, Master Peter," said the old
man wistfully. "My boy, Jim--him as was a corporal--lies out yonder.
I'd like to see his grave, but travellin' costs a sight o' money, an'
I'm no hand at speaking the Frenchies' lingo. I'd be all adrift if I
found myself over t'other side, I'm thinkin'."

"Haven't you been to France, Mr. Boldrigg?" asked Roche.

"Ay, sure," was the reply. "When I was in the old _Aldebran_ on the
Mediterranean Station back in the 'nineties I was ashore at Toulon.
Things were a bit different to what they are now. We'd just had a bit
of a tiff with Johnny Crapaud, an' he was still feeling a bit sore
over it. We of the lower deck kept ourselves to ourselves, in a
manner o' speaking, and didn't have no truck with the French
bluejackets. That was long afore the 'Intent Cordyal', or whatever
they calls it, came along. Are you taking Bruin with you?"

Peter shook his head.

"We can't, unfortunately. We'll miss him, but it cannot be helped.
Well, we must be getting on board, Mr. Boldrigg, so we'll wish you
'Good night'."

Early next morning the task of provisioning and preparing the
_Olivette_ for her voyage was resumed, and so quickly did the work
progress that by noon everything was in readiness.

Suddenly Mr. Armitage, who had been consulting charts, navigation
books, and tide tables, made an unexpected declaration.

"The wind's light and the glass steady," he observed. "I think it's a
pity not to take advantage of the favourable weather conditions; so
it would be advisable to make a start this evening. To my mind it is
better to arrive off a strange coast soon after daybreak than just
before sunset. It gives one a better chance of getting into harbour,
especially as the mornings at this time of the year are generally
calm. The wind, if you notice, usually pipes up about noon."

This announcement was greeted with cheers.

"And so," continued the Scoutmaster, "you had all better cut off to
your respective homes and tell your parents of the alteration of
plans. Don't forget to leave Bruin behind, Peter."

"Ay, ay, sir," replied the Patrol Leader. Then, after a pause, he
added, "There's one other matter I'd like to mention, sir, and we all
hope you'll have no objection. I've been talking about it to the
other fellows, and they are all keen about it."

"Fire away, then," said Mr. Armitage encouragingly.

"It's about old Boldrigg, sir," explained Stratton. "You know he's
got a son buried out in France. He'd be awfully grateful if we'd give
him a passage across and back."

"That will be a very practical good turn," agreed Mr. Armitage.
"Right-o; call at his cottage on your way up, and tell him to be
ready and on the quay at 4 p.m. He'll have to bring his own bedding
and messtraps, but we've plenty of grub, tell him."

Joyfully the Sea Scouts rowed ashore, with Bruin between the
Scoutmaster and the Patrol Leader in the stern-sheets.

Bruin was the only member of the party who displayed no enthusiasm.
He seemed to know that, as far as he was concerned, there was
"nothin' doin'"; but a close observer would have noticed a wrinkling
of the hairy brows, and a pensive look in the animal's eyes, as he
pondered the possibility of getting himself included in the ship's
complement for the forthcoming trip.

Having told Mr. Boldrigg the joyful news that he could accompany the
Sea Scouts across Channel, the lads dispersed to their several homes.

Profiting by previous experience, Peter did not lock his pet in his
bedroom. Bruin was placed in a large shed that served as a workshop
at the end of the garden, Mr. Stratton promising not to let the
animal out until an hour after the _Olivette_ had slipped her
moorings.

"That's right, old boy," said Peter, patting his pet's head. "Stop
there a bit, and be a good little dog."

Bruin looked up at his master's face and gave a piteous howl.

"Yes, I know," continued Peter. "It's rough luck, old boy, very. You
know I'd like to take you, but it's impossible."

Well to time, the crew of the _Olivette_ assembled on the shore. With
them was old Tom Boldrigg, clad in canvas trousers and jumper, and a
blue pilot-coat over his arm.

His luggage consisted of a rolled hammock and blankets, a canvas bag
containing his shore-going kit, and a bundle done up in a blue
handkerchief.

"You managed to get here, then, Boldrigg," was Mr. Armitage's
greeting.

"Ay, ay, sir," was the cheery reply. "I fetched up along all right
with my kit. It's mighty good of you, sir, to put up with the likes
o' me."

"Not at all," protested the Scoutmaster. "You've the lads to thank.
And we'll make good use of you, never fear."

"Glad of that, sir," rejoined the old sailor. "It shows you don't
think I'm a worn-out old shell-back, like some of 'em does
hereabouts."

The dinghy had to make two trips before the crew of the _Olivette_
and their belongings were placed on board. Then, while Roche and
Flemming were "starting up" the motor, the others hoisted out the
dinghy, and lashed her, keel uppermost, on the raised coach-roof over
the engine.

"Now," announced Mr. Armitage, "we'll work in watches in the
cross-Channel run. Peter, pick three of the hands and carry on till
ten o'clock. I'll give you the course, but you must act entirely on
your own account. I'll relieve you at ten, and carry on till
daybreak."

"Very good, sir," replied Peter.

"Take her out by the Needles Channel," continued the Scoutmaster,
"and shape a course to pass about a couple of miles south of St.
Catherine's. You'll take your departure from that point, steering a
compass course of S. 26° W. That's making allowance for deviation.
Have you got that?"

"Yes, sir, S. 26° W. from St Catherine's," repeated the Patrol
Leader.

"Good; now carry on, please. I'm off duty until ten o'clock."

Feeling vastly proud in the realization of his responsibility,
Stratton proceeded to carry out instructions. He chose Roche,
Woodleigh, and Rayburn to be in his watch, the Tenderfoot being
included so that he would escape the night-watch from 10 p.m. till
dawn.

"All ready, Roche?" inquired Peter, giving the wheel a preliminary
turn. "Let go, for'ard."

Phil Rayburn, in spite of being termed a Tenderfoot, was no
greenhorn. He knew his part of the task of casting loose the
moorings.

"All gone, sir," he shouted, as the buoy splashed into the water.

"Touch astern!"

The _Olivette_ glided more than her own length astern, until from the
wheelhouse Peter could see the buoy bobbing in the water.

"Easy ahead!"

The boat quickly responded to the action of the propeller. A turn of
the wheel gave her sufficient helm to avoid the buoy. Stratton was
too good a helmsman to delay the start by getting his propeller mixed
up with the mooring rope and chain.

"Full ahead!" shouted the Patrol Leader, in order to make himself
heard above the noise of the engine. Then, with a grunt of
satisfaction, Peter realized that the big adventure had actually
started.

The _Olivette_ was on her way across to La Belle France.



CHAPTER VIII

The Stowaway


Although all on board were by this time well acquainted with the Isle
of Wight coast, none of the "watch below" had any inclination to
"turn in". The fact that they were actually on a voyage of a
different nature from any they had previously undertaken was
sufficient to keep all hands on deck.

Mr. Armitage offered no protest. He knew from experience that it was
next to impossible to get the thoroughly excited youngsters to rest
and sleep. With old Boldrigg it was another matter. He had
volunteered to share Mr. Armitage's "trick", and he was too much of
an old salt to stay on deck when there was an opportunity of a
"caulk" below.

Before the _Olivette_ was abreast of Hurst High Light, Tom Boldrigg
had descended to the fo'c'sle, where he immediately "got busy" by
slinging his hammock. Just as he was about to turn in, a faint
scuffling attracted his attention.

"Rats aboard this hooker," he soliloquized. "I'd best trice up my
boots and gear clear of the deck or the blighters'll be nibbling 'em
come morning."

With this resolve, Tom Boldrigg began to collect his "duds", when he
heard a decided sneeze.

"Stowaway, eh?" he exclaimed. "Now, then, my hearty, whoever you be,
out you come!"

Boldrigg waited for about half a minute, then, having decided that
the stowaway was hiding in the tapering part of the fo'c'sle abaft
the chain-locker, began to investigate in that direction.

Expecting to find a human being, he was considerably surprised when a
moist tongue licked his hand.

"Why, it's a dog!" he exclaimed. "It's Bruin."

Realizing that the need for his concealment was over, Bruin emerged
from his retreat, wagging his stumpy tail, but, contrary to custom,
the animal made no attempt to bark.

"'Ere's a proper lash-up," soliloquized the old man. "That dog can't
come along with us. That's a dead cert. But what's to be done with
him? I'd best inform Master Stratton."

Peter's amazement at the news was too great for words. He could give
no satisfactory explanation as to how his pet had escaped from the
shed, evaded the crew, and succeeded in getting on board the
_Olivette_ unperceived. Obviously Bruin could not have leapt from the
water on to the boat's deck.

"He must have pulled himself up by the cable," suggested Roche.
"Plucky little beggar. Let's take him along. No one will be any the
wiser. We can smuggle him ashore."

It was a tempting suggestion. As Roche had said, it would be a
comparatively easy matter to land Bruin in the almost unfrequented
Keyhaven on their return, but----

"Can't be done," decided Peter. "For one thing, it's against the
regulations; for another, it wouldn't be fair to other dog-owners.
Suppose Bruin did get in contact with a French dog infected with
rabies? We'll have to put back and land him."

"It's bad luck to put back, sir," declared Tom Boldrigg. "Ask any
sailorman and he'll tell you. Times I've been on board a ship that's
put back for something or other, and, sure as fate, there's been a
run of bad luck."

It was certainly a bit of a dilemma. The Sea Scouts were reluctant to
turn back now that they had started fairly upon the voyage; but, on
the other hand, they knew that it was impossible to proceed with
Bruin on board.

"I'll report to Mr. Armitage," declared the Patrol Leader.

But Bruin had already done so. Scratching with his fore paws, he
succeeded in pushing open the door of the after cabin, where Mr.
Armitage had retired to consult his charts and nautical books.

"What does this mean, Peter?" in a tone of marked disapproval.
"Smuggling your dog on board at this time is a very serious matter."

"But I didn't smuggle him, sir," protested Stratton. "He found his
way on board. None of us knew until Mr. Boldrigg found him in the
forepeak."

"You locked him up at home?"

"Yes, sir. I cannot understand how he got loose. I suppose we must
turn back."

Mr. Armitage climbed the iron ladder out of the cockpit and glanced
shorewards. Hurst Castle and the Hampshire shore were now a couple of
miles astern. Broad on the port beam lay Totland Bay and the cliffs
of the western end of the Isle of Wight. Ahead, and slightly on the
port bow, were the Needles.

"No," he replied after a brief survey. "Unless I'm much mistaken we
won't have to retrace our course. Do you see that craft coming out of
Alum Bay, Peter? I rather fancy she belongs to the Totland Sea
Scouts."

The Patrol Leader focused his binoculars upon the little craft--an
ex-service whaler with a dipping foresail and gaff mainsail. "Yes,
sir," he agreed. "There's Mr. Mostyn, their Scoutmaster, in the
stern-sheets."

"That's good enough, then," continued Mr. Armitage. "Run alongside
and get them to take Bruin ashore. If they've no particular object in
view, they will, I feel sure, land him on Milford beach for us."

The _Olivette's_ course was altered in order to intercept the whaler.
When within a couple of hundred yards of the Totland Sea Scouts,
Hepburn, holding a pair of hand-flags, stood erect upon the
coach-roof.

It was not long before the Totland lads acknowledged the preparatory
sign, and Alan proceeded to spell out a message, asking them if they
would do a real good turn.

The whaler's canvas was lowered and the boat lost way, waiting for
the _Olivette_ to range up alongside.

Briefly Mr. Armitage explained the nature of his request.

"Certainly," replied Mr. Mostyn. "We're just out for a practice spin,
and we may as well run across to Milford as anywhere. Your dog will
find his way home from there, I hope? So you're off across Channel?
My word, Armitage, your lads are lucky fellows."

Bruin was obviously most reluctant to part company with the
_Olivette_. Peter had to speak sternly to his pet, and even then the
animal refused to enter the whaler.

There was no help for it. Knowing that Bruin would attempt to jump
overboard from the whaler and swim after the _Olivette_, Stratton and
Flemming lashed the dog's paws together and tied a bandage over his
eyes. Then, in this helpless condition Bruin was passed over the side
and placed in the stern-sheets of the Totland Sea Scouts' boat.

"Good-bye and good luck!" shouted Scoutmaster Mostyn, as the two
craft drew off from one another. "We'll take care of your mascot, and
see him safely ashore at Milford."

Amidst an exchange of farewells the whaler rehoisted her canvas, and,
close hauled on the port tack, headed for the Hampshire shore, while
the _Olivette_, increasing speed to eight knots, resumed her
interrupted voyage.



CHAPTER IX

Broken Down in Mid-Channel


Peter Stratton carried out his instructions to the letter. Upon
rounding the Needles he steered in the direction of St. Catherine's,
keeping a mile and a half from shore, in order to give a wide berth
to the dangerous Atherfield Ledges, ridges of sharp rock that have
sealed the fate of many a gallant ship and her crew. It was slow work
plugging against a strong west-going tide, but, as Mr. Armitage had
remarked, it was better to have a foul tide to begin with and a fair
one when the _Olivette_ approached the French coast, than the
reverse.

At seven o'clock the _Olivette_ was in a position to "make her
departure", and accordingly she was set on the given course for her
eighty odd miles' run across the Channel.

"We're a long time losing sight of land," observed Woodleigh, when an
hour later the chalk cliffs of St. Catherine's were still visible in
the slanting rays of the sun.

"It's the height that tells," rejoined Peter. "We're a good ten miles
off. We're running at eight knots only."

"Why only eight?" asked Rayburn.

"Because, if we cracked on at full speed we'd stand to pile ourselves
upon the rocks on t' other side in the darkness," replied the Patrol
Leader.

Stratton was kept fairly busy. The _Olivette_ was now in the steamer
track, where vessels proceeding up and down Channel make it a
practice of keeping within certain limits of St. Catherine's. There
were ships of all sizes and descriptions. A P. & O. liner, homeward
bound, was passing a Bullard mail-boat on the way to the Cape and
East Africa. Ambling along at a very modest speed were colliers,
"tankers", and tramps, while a full-rigged Dutchman, carrying every
stitch of canvas, formed a striking contrast to the mechanically
propelled craft.

A little later a couple of destroyers, in line ahead, came pelting
down Channel. Although they passed not less than a quarter of a mile
from the _Olivette_, their "wash" broke furiously over the boat's
bows, sending spray high above the wheelhouse.

Then, as the _Olivette_ drew away from the "lane", the stream of
shipping ceased, and as sunset approached she was alone on a waste of
placid water.

At ten the relief watch was called. Mr. Armitage came on deck wearing
his pilot coat. He made no attempt to check the course or to offer
any suggestions. He was placing his crew entirely on their mettle,
but from what he saw he had no cause to criticize.

Stratton, having "handed over" to Warkworth, went below, where
Hepburn had a hot supper ready for those of the crew who had come off
duty.

"Where's Roche?" he inquired, seeing that the rest of the
watch--Woodleigh and Rayburn--were already "tucking in" with avidity.

"Yarning with Flemming about something," replied Woodleigh. "I fancy
there's trouble in the engine-room."

Presently Roche appeared.

"Lend me your torch, Peter, old son," he said.

"Aren't you grubbing?" asked the Patrol Leader.

Roche shook his head.

"I'm seeing this thing through first," he replied. "She's not been
running well this last hour or two. Too rich a mixture, I think.
Flemming and I are going to take the jet out, but before we start I
want to see how much oil there is in the main tank."

Peter handed Roche his torch.

"We'll keep your grub hot," he added as the engineer hurried out of
the cabin.

In less than a minute Roche returned.

"We're in a bad way," he announced. "She's been mopping up the juice
like anything. The paraffin tank's nearly empty."

"Why, how's that?" asked Stratton.

"Punctured float, I'm afraid," replied Roche. "We'll have to stop the
motor for half an hour or so."

"Right-o," assented the Patrol Leader, pushing away his cup, saucer,
and plate. "I'll come and bear a hand. Have you reported to Mr.
Armitage?"

The Scoutmaster received the news without expressing any suggestion.

"Carry on," he remarked.

The Sea Scouts accordingly "carried on". They had but one red lamp on
board in addition to the port light. Two red masthead lights were
required to indicate that the _Olivette_ was not under command. It
was the Tenderfoot who solved the problem by suggesting that the
white masthead light should be covered with the fold of the Red
Ensign.

The "not under command" lights were hoisted, and the port and
starboard ones extinguished. The ignition to the motor was switched
off, and Stratton, Roche, and Flemming proceeded to take down the
carburetter, while Woodleigh held the electric torch to enable them
to see what they were doing.

They worked methodically, placing a piece of canvas under the
carburetter to catch any nut that might be accidentally dropped,
while all the loose parts were carefully placed in a small tin box.

The float was deftly removed.

"It feels suspiciously heavy," declared Flemming. "Yes, it's chock
full of paraffin or petrol."

"Take it into the after-cabin," said Peter. "We'll solder it there.
It will be a jolly sight safer away from the engine-room. Get the
Tinol box out, Dick."

The first part of the operation was the boiling of the float. The hot
water would not only cause the confined air to escape and indicate
the position of the leak, it would also expel the petrol.

The task was proceeding most satisfactorily when the _Olivette_
suddenly began to roll in the swell of a distant steamer. Before the
Sea Scouts could prevent it, the stove capsized, throwing the
saucepan and its contents upon the floor. Instantly the
petrol--fortunately only a few teaspoonfuls--burst into flames.

Flemming made a dash for the Pyrene extinguisher, but before he
returned, Roche and the Patrol Leader had quenched the flames by
smothering them with a blanket. But the worst was to come, for, when
Peter picked up the still hot brass cylinder, the solder had melted
and the float was irreparably damaged.

Without the float the motor couldn't function. There the Scouts were,
almost in mid-Channel, in a boat that was now at the mercy of wind
and tide.

"There's one blessing," remarked Roche. "We've got the fire out."

"At the expense of a jolly good blanket," added Flemming.

"Better a burnt blanket than a burnt boat," rejoined Roche. "What's
to be done now?"

"Never say die," quoted Stratton. "Find a chunk of cork, someone.
There's plenty on board. We'll make a cork float."

"No good without shellac," objected Roche. "It will go to pieces in
the petrol."

"Let it, then," said Peter with a laugh. "The pieces can't come out
of the old metal float. I'll pack it full of cork and tap over the
ends. We'll have the old hooker making way in another twenty
minutes."

The suggestion was quickly acted upon. By the aid of a light hammer
Stratton succeeded in refixing the unsoldered end of the float,
having previously filled it with cork. Although not so buoyant as an
air-filled float, the substitute served its purpose, the only
drawback being a rather heavy consumption of fuel; but directly the
carburetter was replaced, the motor restarted without hesitation.

"Phew!" ejaculated Stratton, wiping his heated brow. "Do you know
what the time is? A quarter past twelve. I'm turning in."

Before so doing, the Patrol Leader went on deck to have a look round.
The night was dark, the sea calm. Almost dead ahead a white glare
appeared above the horizon every five seconds. It was from the
lighthouse of Cape de la Hogue.

Right astern a powerful beam seemed to travel across the sky, with
the same speed and regularity as the light ahead. It was St.
Catherine's, making a gesture of farewell from the shores of England,
now nearly forty miles astern.

Aloft, the _Olivette's_ two red lights had been replaced by her
ordinary white masthead light; her port and starboard lamps were once
more burning brightly. Inside the wheel-house, the faint glare from
the binnacle shone upon Warkworth's solemn features as the lad kept
the boat on her course.

Right in the eyes of the ship stood the motionless figure of Tom
Boldrigg. No doubt his thoughts were going back to those far-off
times when he performed a similar duty as look-out man upon one of
His Majesty's ships, or perhaps he was thinking of the still-distant
land where his soldier son slept his long rest.

Right aft, with his feet placed firmly apart and his hands clasped
behind his back, stood the Scoutmaster. No doubt he, too, was
thinking of how he stood thus under the shadow of the White Ensign,
and was recalling vivid yet pleasant pictures of those strenuous days
of the Great War.

Seeing Stratton appear on deck, Mr. Armitage walked towards him.

"All correct, sir," reported the Patrol Leader.

"That's good," rejoined Mr. Armitage. "When the motor gave out, I
guessed you fellows would be equal to the task of getting it going
again. And I was not mistaken."



CHAPTER X

Alan Speaks French


Sunrise--a grey sky and a high dawn; long drab-coloured rollers
driven on by the steady westerly wind; away to the south'ard a line
of dark-grey cliffs, hardly distinguishable from the sombre hues of
sea and sky. This was the first impression of the French coast upon
the minds of the Sea Scouts of the _Olivette_.

Here and there the coastwise lights were vainly endeavouring to hold
their own against the steadily increasing dawn. The powerful beams
from the lighthouses of Cape de la Hogue and Cape Levi had already
been extinguished, but from the Digue and the high ground above the
town of Cherbourg there were still faint pinpricks of luminosity.

Away to the east'ard a couple of tramps were ploughing against the
strong ebb, making apparently for Havre. Between the _Olivette_ and
the shore were about twenty fishing-boats, their dark-tanned sails
close-hauled to the breeze as they raced homewards with the fruits of
their night's toil.

"We haven't made a bad passage, sir," remarked Stratton as he came on
deck.

"We're not there yet, Peter," replied Mr. Armitage. "We've hit a
pretty hot ebb tide, and it's sweeping us to the west'ard. I'm afraid
we won't do much till the young flood sets in."

"How fast is the tide running, sir?" asked the Patrol Leader.

"A good six knots, I imagine," was the reply. "Six knots broad on our
port beam, and we're doing about eight. We'll be in luck if we're
inside the breakwater by six o'clock. It's now eight minutes to
four."

"Hello, Mr. Boldrigg!" exclaimed Peter, as the old seaman stumped
aft, swinging his arms. "You've had a long trick."

"Yes," agreed Tom. "A middlin' long trick; but it's only making up
for lost time, so to speak."

"There's hot cocoa below," announced the Patrol Leader.

"He insisted upon being look-out man," remarked Mr. Armitage after
Boldrigg had disappeared below. "I offered to send for'ard a relief,
but he wouldn't let me. He's been up in the bows ever since ten
o'clock. He's certainly earned his passage. Sleep well, Peter?"

"Toppingly, sir," replied the lad. It was his first night on board
while the boat was under way, and in spite of the motion and the
rumble and vibration of the propeller, he had slumbered soundly and
well.

"Good!" rejoined the Scoutmaster. "Then I think I'll turn in for an
hour or so. You'll find a chart of Cherbourg in the wheel-house.
Provided you make due allowance for the set of the tide, there is
nothing of a difficult nature to contend against. You can just
distinguish the central breakwater--the Digue. The eastern entrance
is the one for us."

Mr. Armitage went below, while Stratton entered the wheel-house and
"took over" from Flemming.

The next hour passed slowly. Although the young helmsman kept the
_Olivette_ well against the tide, her progress seemed painfully slow.
It was not until the tide slackened and changed that the boat made
any appreciable headway.

"Call Mr. Armitage," said Stratton as the _Olivette_ rounded the Fort
de l'Est--the easternmost point of the Digue--and the whole of the
vast enclosed Cherbourg Harbour came into view.

The Scoutmaster was quickly on deck. "We're in, then?" he remarked.
"Fine breakwater that. Have you any idea of what it cost?"

"No, sir," replied Peter.

"Roughly, £220 a linear foot," declared Mr. Armitage. "It took more
than seventy years to build, and is 4060 yards in length, or two and
a half times the length of Plymouth Breakwater. Now, Roche, slow down
to five knots, and stand by the reversing-lever."

"Do we anchor, sir?" asked Peter.

"No," was the reply. "We'll go into the Avant Port and afterwards
into the Bassin à Flot--that's a sort of dock with gates to prevent
the water running out. Get the hands ready with the warps and
fenders."

Very gently the _Olivette_ brought up alongside the weed-covered
walls of the quay. As the tide had only just begun to rise, the
masonry towered nearly thirty feet above her deck. Willing hands
ashore helped to secure the little English craft, from the stern of
which the Red Ensign drooped in the calm, sheltered basin.

Although it was yet early, the Sea Scouts had to receive a visitor. A
short thick-set bearded Frenchman, with a sheaf of papers under his
arm, ponderously descended the vertical ladder and scrambled upon the
_Olivette's_ deck.

"Your papairs, ef you please," he demanded. "From England, eh? you is
capitaine, monsieur? Have you anyt'ing to declare?"

"_Quelques boîtes d'allumettes, un peu de sel, pas de vin, pas de
whisky, pas de tabac,_" replied Mr. Armitage.

The _douanier's_ face had grown graver and graver as the recital
proceeded. This craft was different from those with which he usually
had to deal. English yachts generally had spirits and beer on board,
and as a result he had obtained a glass of whisky and a generous
_pourboire_. This time he had struck a "dry" ship.

"I must ze search make," he declared.

"Certainly, Monsieur Jules," rejoined the Scoutmaster in French. "It
will not be the first time you have explored my lockers."

The custom house official started and looked intently into Mr.
Armitage's face. Then with an exclamation of surprise he flung his
arms round the Scoutmaster's neck, and to the amusement of the crew,
kissed him on both cheeks.

"_Ma foi,_" he exclaimed, "_c' est le capitaine de vaisseau_
Armitage. I am charmed to see you again, monsieur, but I failed to
recognize you. No, the search is unnecessaire. I vill sign your
papairs _tout de suite_."

He went with the Scoutmaster into the after cabin.

"Queer bird that," remarked Hepburn. "Fancy one man kissing another."

"Custom of the country, I suppose," rejoined Roche. "Wonder how he
knew Mr. Armitage?"

The question was answered after the douanier had taken his departure.

"I met Jules when I was in R.N.V.R.," explained Mr. Armitage. "Our
M.L.'s frequently put into Cherbourg, and as we generally had plenty
of provisions on board and people ashore here were on very short
allowances, we were made most welcome. Now, lads, we have to wait
until nine o'clock before the dock gates open, so suppose we pipe all
hands to breakfast."

"Fine idea, sir," replied Hepburn, who was always a good trencherman.

"It is," rejoined Mr. Armitage. "So you can nip ashore, Alan, and get
some bread. The bakers open early here. Take this money. I took the
precaution of getting Jules to change some for me."

He handed Hepburn a roll of papers, which at first sight looked like
a bundle of Treasury notes. Actually these were franc notes, each of
the value of about fivepence or sixpence.

Thrusting the money into his pocket, Alan swarmed up the ladder
against the quay. At the top he paused and looked down upon his
chums.

"I'm the first of you fellows to set foot on French soil at all
events," he remarked proudly.

Then making his way between a crowd of interested waterside loafers,
Hepburn set off on his quest.

It did not take him long to find a baker's shop.

He kept his eyes open for the word "_boulangerie_", and his sense of
smell on the alert for the appetizing odour of new bread.

Alan was rather proud of his French. He had gained two prizes at
school for his knowledge of that language, but when he found himself
confronted by a portly pleasant-faced woman he was literally
tongue-tied.

"Let me see," he soliloquized desperately; "what was that wheeze old
Patinot taught us: If you eat new bread you'll have an 'ache'. Yes,
that's it; ache is the French for bread--_Deux aches, s'il vous
plaît, madame._"

Madame looked decidedly puzzled and shook her head.

"Oh, dash it all!" ejaculated the Sea Scout. "It wasn't ache; it was
pain--same thing, only different: _Deux pains, s'il vous plaît._"

This time Madame was pleased to understand, and Alan was the
recipient of a couple of loaves of about four inches in diameter and
nearly a yard in length.

Triumphantly Hepburn carried his purchases back to the quay, and
threw them into the outstretched arms of Warkworth.

"Since you've made such a success of your expedition, Alan," said Mr.
Armitage, "I wish you'd take these letters to the postoffice.
Remember to put a five centimes stamp on each. By the time you return
breakfast will be ready."

Alan took the envelopes, reascended the ladder, and crossed the
pavé-covered quay. After wandering for some distance without finding
the post-office, it occurred to him to inquire the way.

A magnificently uniformed gendarme was walking down the street. Alan
went up to him and saluted Scout fashion, and the gendarme replied
with an elaborate military salute.

"_Au poste, monsieur!_" exclaimed Hepburn, sure of his ground this
time.

"_Mais oui certainement,_" was the reply. "_Par ici, monsieur._"

The gendarme escorted Alan, and a steadily increasing crowd of idlers
and children followed the pair. Hepburn felt rather elated. It was
his Sea Scout's rig, he decided, that was such an attraction.

Throwing his shoulders back and holding his head high, he walked
proudly by the side of his uniformed guide.

But he felt far from elated when the gendarme led him through a
doorway into a low-ceilinged room where half a dozen armed men were
standing. The door closed behind him, a gendarme planted his back
against it, and half a dozen pairs of eyes were fixed upon the now
astonished lad.

One thing was certain. Instead of being taken to the post-office, he
had been shown into the police-station. It was an easy matter to
enter, but would it be so easy to get out?



CHAPTER XI

"Wounded"


"Alan's not hurrying himself," remarked Roche, when the appetizing
breakfast was half consumed.

"He certainly ought to have been back by this time," agreed Mr.
Armitage. "Perhaps he is entering into conversation with some French
Scouts."

"That reminds me," said Flemming, who also prided himself upon a
knowledge of the French language. "I was wondering what to say as an
exclamation when we are talking to these Scouts. For instance, what
is the usual translation of 'Well, I'm jiggered'?"

"I've rarely heard you say that, Flemming," observed Peter. "You
generally exclaim, 'Well, I'm blest', I notice."

"That's easily translated, then," rejoined Flemming. "It's merely:
_Je suis blessé._"

Apparently Eric's rendering of the phrase satisfied his companions.
Mr. Armitage smiled to himself, but said nothing. He was rather
curious to know what would happen when Flemming expressed himself
thus.

"I'll let it go at that," concluded Flemming. "Now, what about Alan,
you fellows? Hadn't we better send out a search-party?"

Stratton and Roche volunteered to accompany Eric, and receiving the
Scoutmaster's permission, they went ashore.

Inquiries of people on the quay soon put the searchers on the track.
The young English Sea Scout had been a fairly conspicuous feature on
the French landscape. After proceeding down three or four streets,
Flemming received the startling information that the lost youth had
been seen taken into the police-station under the care of a gendarme.

"What's he been doing, I wonder?" asked Roche. "Butting up against
some rotten red-tape regulation, I expect. Hadn't we better inform
Mr. Armitage?"

"Let's make certain that Alan's under arrest first," suggested the
Patrol Leader, and, led by a gamin, the Sea Scouts proceeded to the
police-station.

At the door they nearly collided with the lost youth. Hepburn,
looking rather red in the face, showed no enthusiasm at seeing his
chums.

"I made a mistake," he admitted. "I mistook the police-station for
the post-office, and it took me some time to explain."

Flemming roared with merriment.

"You're a bright one!" he exclaimed. "I know what you did: you asked
for '_le poste_' instead of '_la poste_'. The first means a
police-station, the second a post-office. That's one up against you,
my festive."

The letters having been stamped and posted, the four Sea Scouts
returned to the _Olivette_, where Hepburn made a belated breakfast to
the accompaniment of a running fire of chaff from his chums.

"You wait," declared Alan, imperturbably; "I'll score off you fellows
yet."

The breakfast things having been washed up and stowed away, the Sea
Scouts set to work to scrub decks and make the _Olivette_ look a
credit to them. By the time this task was accomplished the gates of
the Bassin-à-Flot were opened. In four hours the _Olivette_ had been
lifted vertically through a height of eighteen feet by the rising
tide.

"You see now why I want to try and bring the boat into the
floating-dock," observed Mr. Armitage. "If we remained in the tidal
harbour we would have to be continually altering the scope of the
warps as the level of the water changed. Here we are relieved of that
trouble and responsibility, and there is no necessity to have to
ascend and descend the long ladder to get ashore or on board at low
water."

The _Olivette_ safely moored, the Sea Scouts prepared for a ramble
ashore, to see the sights of the town. Flemming was not one of the
party, having been told off to act as ship-keeper; while old Tom
Boldrigg was making up for his prolonged trick as look-out man by
sleeping soundly on one of the locker seats in the well.

While his comrades were seeing the sights, Eric Flemming had by no
means a dull time. It quickly dawned upon him that the many
advantages of the Bassin-à-Flot were outdone by the obvious
disadvantages of the place. The hot sun pouring down upon the
enclosed space of water was too strong to be pleasant, especially
when the heat caused the garbage floating upon the surface to emit
most unpleasant odours.

It was Flemming's first experience of a "wet" dock, and before very
long he sincerely hoped it might prove his last.

After a while Eric went below to escape the glare. He had not been in
the cabin more than five minutes before a dull thud sounded on the
deck over his head. Then came another thud, followed by others in
quick succession, until Flemming realized that the _Olivette_ was
being bombarded.

Putting on his cap, the lad gained the well. Almost as soon as he
stepped outside the cabin door a missile hit him on the head.
Fortunately the thick sailor's cap with its white cap-cover mitigated
the blow, but even then it was sufficient to make the lad wince.

He quickly took in the situation. Ten or twelve ragged gamins were
gathered on the edge of the quay, engaged in the pleasant and
congenial task of hurling stones and cabbage-stalks upon the
_Olivette's_ deck and raised cabin-top.

"_Alles-vous-en!_" shouted Flemming. The boys retreated a few steps,
but seeing that the Sea Scout made no attempt to follow up his
advantage, they held their ground, jeering and redoubling their fire.

Eric hardly knew what course to pursue. It was not good form to start
scrapping on foreign soil. A jolly sound hiding, he reflected, would
do the gamins a world of good, but there were the after results to be
taken into consideration. If each of the aggressors went away and
returned with two or three pals, the _Olivette_ would hardly be
tenable under a terrific fusillade of stones and garbage. On the
other hand, he could not allow the boat to be made into a sort of
maritime Aunt Sally for the edification of a crowd of juvenile
ruffians.

He might have parleyed with them, or bribed them to go away quietly,
but this method did not appeal to his British spirit. He was alone.
Old Boldrigg was sleeping profoundly, quite oblivious to the tocsin
sounding over his head.

Springing ashore, Flemming rushed at his tormentors. They turned and
fled incontinently, although several of them were bigger than Eric.
He chased them for about fifty yards along the quay, and then
returned to the _Olivette_.

But the retreat was only temporary. The moment Flemming regained the
deck the gamins returned, the number considerably augmented, while a
crowd of men engaged in unloading a schooner ceased their work to
watch and enjoy the scene.

Flemming waited until the first missile of the renewed attack hurtled
through the air, then he charged his assailants. Again the latter
took to their heels, but Eric meant to see the business through this
time.

Overtaking and ignoring the smaller and weaker of the boys, he held
on until he collared a tall, hulking fellow, who was one of the
ringleaders. Applying a very effective arm-lock, Flemming made his
captive accompany him to the _Olivette_.

"Now I've found a hostage," thought Eric, as he deftly drew the lad's
arms behind him and round the mast and lashed the wrists together.
"They won't dare to hurl things on board now."

But he was mistaken. The gamins found increased delight in pelting
their former leader. Perhaps they had a grudge against him. There he
stood, yelling and bawling threats against his fellows until Flemming
felt obliged to release him.

"'Spose I must grin and bear it until the others return," he
soliloquized, as the boys renewed the bombardment.

Suddenly the gamins, uttering shouts of warning, took to their heels.

Looking to see what had caused the flight, Flemming saw a troop of
French Scouts doubling along the quay. There were two patrols--about
fourteen Scouts in all--but before them, the gamins, numbering
between forty and fifty, simply melted away.

The Patrol Leader saluted Flemming courteously, and the Sea Scout
smartly returned the salute. Then in a curious mixture of French and
English and a broken attempt at both, the Scouts and the Sea Scout
engaged in a "palaver".

It was rather a one-sided affair. A dozen French Scouts were talking
and asking questions simultaneously, while the English Sea Scout
hardly knew which remark to reply to.

"I have been to l'Angleterre," declared one of the Scouts. "Ze last
summaire I vas at Sout'ampton at ze rally."

"I was there, too," replied Flemming; then using his Gallicized
version of his favourite ejaculation, he added, "_Je suis blessé._"

The effect was startling and electrical. There was a brief pause
following Eric's words. A dozen Scouts invaded the _Olivette_.
Grasped by several pairs of hands, the astonished Flemming, too taken
aback to offer any resistance, was gently deposited upon the deck. A
confused babel greeted his ears, one of the most frequently used
words being "_blessé_". Several of the French Scouts produced a
packet of bandages and a first-aid outfit, while there were shouts
raised for "_le médecin_".

"What's the game," thought the bewildered Flemming. "Are they giving
a first-aid demonstration and using me as a subject, just to show how
they go about it?"

Someone placed a pile of rolled coats under his head. His shoes and
stockings were deftly removed. His jersey was peeled off, although it
looked at one time as if the French Scouts meditated cutting it away.
They felt his heart and his pulse, and tried to examine his tongue.

In the midst of the demonstration, the timely arrival of Mr. Armitage
and the rest of the Sea Scouts saved Flemming from further unrequired
attention. Quickly the well-meaning and excitable French lads were
induced to desist, and Eric was allowed to regain his feet.

"What have you been doing, Flemming?" asked his Scoutmaster. "Have
you hurt yourself?"

"No, sir," replied Eric.

"Then why are these Scouts on board with their first-aid bandages?"

"I don't know, sir; I'm blessed if I do!" declared Flemming. "I was
just talking to them, and----"

"I suppose you said, 'Well, I'm blessed' in French," added Mr.
Armitage with a twinkle of amusement in his eyes.

"I certainly remember saying '_Je suis blessé_'," admitted Flemming,
who was beginning to feel a bit dubious as to whether what he had
said was what he meant to say.

"That did it," continued Mr. Armitage. "I knew it would happen before
very long. '_Je suis blessé_' is not 'I'm blessed' but 'I am
wounded'. Hurry up and go below and get dressed properly."

The discomfited Flemming beat a hasty retreat amidst the laughter of
his companions.



CHAPTER XII

"In the Ditch"


The French Scouts remained on board for another half-hour. They
inspected and were duly impressed by the _Olivette_ and her
equipment; they exchanged confidences with their brother Sea Scouts,
to whom difference of nationality counted for little as far as the
Universal Brotherhood of Scouts went. Before they took their
departure, the French boy's invited the _Olivette's_ crew to a picnic
at Equeurdreville--a seaside hamlet a few miles to the west of
Cherbourg--on the following morning.

"I do not think we shall be able to accept," said Peter. "We are
sailing for Havre early to-morrow, if all's well."

One of the French Patrol Leaders shrugged his shoulders and threw out
the palms of his hands in a characteristic Gallic attitude.

"I do not think you vill sail," he remarked.

"Why not?" asked Stratton.

The lad pointed in the direction of Fort l'Onglet, above which a
cone, point uppermost, had been hoisted to the yard-arm of a mast.

"_Regardez bien!_" he exclaimed.

Mr. Armitage, following the direction of the French Patrol Leader's
outstretched finger, noted the signal. It meant that bad weather--a
gale from the nor'ard--was approaching. If any confirmation were
necessary the barometer proved it. The glass had fallen four-tenths
in less than a couple of hours.

"There's one thing," observed Stratton, after the visitors had taken
their departure. "It's one of those short, sharp summer gales:

    'Long foretold, long last,
    Short warning, soon past'.

It's a good thing we're in a secure harbour."

Flemming made a wry face.

"It's too much of a good thing," he protested. "I've never, never
been in a basin before, and this one's quite enough. Doesn't it
whiff?"

"It does," admitted Peter. "Now you come to mention it, there is an
odour of sorts."

"And those little bounders the French ragamuffins," continued Eric.
"The stuff lying on the decks is only a small part of what they
threw. I cleared up three times before the Cherbourg Scouts came upon
the scene and chased them off. Hello, what's this coming?"

The lock gates were open and a large tramp steamer was being warped
into the Bassin-à-Flot. From where the _Olivette_ lay, the steamer's
stern was masked by the rise of her deckhouse and bridge, but the
ensign was just visible--a dirty, wind-frayed, coal-grimed piece of
red bunting with a Union Jack in the upper quarter next the staff.

That nondescript piece of bunting meant something real to the British
Sea Scouts. Even though they had not long left their native shores
they were already fully aware that they were strangers in a foreign
land, but here was a bit of England--technically British soil
although afloat--and the sight of it was cheering.

The harbourmaster, purple with incoherent shouting, hurried along the
quay-side, waving his arms and pointing frenziedly at the on-coming
tramp.

"What does he want?" exclaimed Hepburn.

"I rather fancy he wants us to shift," remarked Peter.

The Patrol Leader's surmise was confirmed by a voice hailing from the
tramp's bridge.

"Ahoy, there!" shouted a short, thick-set, jovial-looking officer
clad in a salt-stained serge uniform. "Can you drop astern a couple
of lengths?"

"Ay, ay," replied Peter, and in a very short time the _Olivette's_
warps were cast off and the boat tracked aft along the quay.

When the _Acacis_--for that was the tramp's name--was safely berthed,
the officer who had hailed the _Olivette_ came aft.

"Thanks!" he exclaimed. "You Sea Scouts know your job, I can see."

"Thank you," replied Peter. "May we come aboard you and have a look
round?"

"Right-o," was the reply.

The skipper of the _Acacis_--bound from Cardiff to Cherbourg and Le
Havre--made the Sea Scouts right welcome. It was, for the majority of
them, the first opportunity they had had of "looking over" a big
vessel.

"Yes, it'll blow before night," the skipper observed in answer to
Peter's question. "We struck it pretty bad off the Longships, and
right across the Channel there was a tidy roll on. That generally
means a bit of a blow. You'll be here for the best part of a week,
I'll allow."

The Sea Scouts showed no enthusiasm over this piece of information.
Flemming was positively downhearted.

"Look here," suggested the _Acacis_' Old Man, when he learnt of the
unwelcome attentions of the Cherbourg gamins, "why not lie alongside
of us? You'll get a tidy bit of coal-dust, but that's a jolly sight
better than cabbage-stalks and dead cats dumped on your deck."

The offer was gladly accepted. The _Olivette's_ bow-warp was passed
on board the tramp and the boat hauled alongside the _Acacis_'
starboard side. Sheltered by the latter vessel's towering hull, the
_Olivette_ was no longer a target for the ragamuffins of the port.

As the skipper had predicted, it blew hard at sunset, the gale
continuing all the following day, accompanied by heavy showers. But
the _Olivette_ was in snug shelter, the basin being completely
landlocked, while the rain did not prevent the Sea Scouts enjoying
the hospitality of their French friends.

At length the storm moderated, and on the fourth day the sea had
subsided sufficiently to enable the _Olivette_ to resume her voyage.
The _Acacis_, having discharged a portion of her cargo, was also due
to leave Cherbourg for Le Havre. Directly the gates of the
Bassin-à-Flot were opened, the _Olivette_ motored through into the
Avant-Port. Here she tied up, for it was inadvisable to make a start
for the east'ard before half-ebb. By so doing the _Olivette_ would
"carry her tide" for eight or nine hours, and as the tides run
strongly off the French coast, the question of "working them" was an
important one.

Mr. Armitage had to obtain clearance papers and lay in sundry stores,
so that the time was not wasted, and when the _Olivette_ headed
seaward, the _Acacis_ was steaming through the East Channel.

"We've about one knot advantage in speed," remarked the Scoutmaster,
"but we'll slow down a bit and let her pilot us. It's rather a
dangerous bit of coast between here and Cape Levi. Look at that
broken water. Anyone would think that there was a gale raging off
that point, but it's merely a tidal race."

Dead in the wake of the tramp, and about a cable's length astern, the
_Olivette_ kept. At intervals members of the _Acacis_' crew
semaphored jocular messages to the Sea Scouts, to which the latter
replied with the greatest zest.

About five miles beyond Cape Barfleur the _Olivette_ overtook a
French fishing smack. One of the crew of the latter, noticing that
the Sea Scouts were semaphoring, attempted to send them a message.

"Dashed if I can make out what that fellow is saying," exclaimed
Hepburn with a puzzled look. "Can you, Reggie?"

Warkworth shook his head. He was reckoned to be a good signaller, but
the Frenchman's semaphoring was beyond him.

"I'm not surprised," said Peter. "The French system is different from
ours. Don't you remember when we were at Dover----"

The Patrol Leader's reminiscence was interrupted by a warning shout
from old Tom Boldrigg, who was in his favourite post as look-out man.
Simultaneously the _Acacis_ put her helm over to starboard, while a
white object was hurled from her port quarter.

"Man overboard," shouted Boldrigg. "A hand from the tramp's in the
ditch."

Mr. Armitage opened the window of the wheel-house and warned Roche to
stand by with his reversing-lever.

"There he is!" exclaimed Peter. "A point on our port bow."

"Easy ahead!" ordered the Scoutmaster, then "Stop!"

The _Olivette_ was now within fifty yards of the man, who was
swimming towards the buoy. It was evident that he was not a good
swimmer. He was splashing violently, and making very little headway
in proportion to the energy he displayed, and already his strength
was diminishing. It was a question whether he might succeed in
gaining the buoy before he became exhausted.

Flemming, Woodleigh, and Warkworth ran for'ard, the former with a
boat-hook and the others with life-lines. Eric shouted encouragement
to the swimmer, and for the first time the man seemed conscious of
the approach of the _Olivette_.

"He's almost done for!" exclaimed Woodleigh.

The time taken by the _Olivette_ to approach the man seemed
interminable, but as there was a considerable "lop" on, Mr. Armitage
dare not risk holding on at any speed for fear of running down the
swimmer. The Scoutmaster was manoeuvring to bring the boat to a
standstill dead in the eye of the wind and close to the man. Once the
_Olivette_ got broadside on to the wind she would be swept far to
leeward of the swimmer, and lose valuable time before she could again
get within close distance.

Flemming held the boat-hook stave towards the man, but the latter had
not the strength to grasp the ash pole. Before the Sea Scout could
reverse the boat-hook and catch the swimmer with the metal hook, the
man was beyond reach.

Warkworth hurled a line, but the rope being new, the coils failed to
free themselves, and the bight fell short.

Without hesitation, Woodleigh leapt into the sea, taking one end of
the line with him.

Half a dozen strokes brought him to the man, who was actually on the
point of sinking. The fact that his chums were holding on to the end
of the rope gave Woodleigh confidence. Regardless of the risk of
being clutched by a drowning man, Will allowed himself to be caught
in a desperate grip. Down he went, rescuer and rescued in a mutual
embrace; then the line tautened, and in another fifteen seconds
willing hands grasped the plucky Scout and his now almost senseless
burden and hauled them into safety.

Woodleigh, none the worse for his immersion, beyond the fact that he
had swallowed a good half-pint of salt water, went below to change
his clothes. Flemming, Hepburn, and Warkworth attended to the rescued
man, who was now quite insensible.

Meanwhile, the _Acacis_ had starboarded helm and reversed her
engines. Her skipper had seen that the _Olivette_ was proceeding to
the rescue, and, having witnessed the successful issue of the
attempt, had given orders for a boat to be lowered to bring the man
back.

"Semaphore the _Acacis_, Alan," ordered the Scoutmaster. "Tell them
to carry on, and we'll hand over the man at Havre. He's not in a fit
state to be moved at present."

The tramp acknowledged the signal, and replied that the arrangement
would be most satisfactory; then both vessels, having resumed their
former course, headed for the still distant port of Le Havre.

"You managed that awfully well, sir," exclaimed Peter.

"Did I?" rejoined Mr. Armitage. "As a matter of fact it was quite an
easy matter, because we were in the wake of the tramp. Supposing one
of us had fallen overboard, what would you have done?"

"Thrown over a life-belt, sir," replied the Patrol Leader.

"And what then?"

"Gone astern," was the reply.

Mr. Armitage shook his head.

"Never in a light-draughted, single-screwed boat," he declared.
"She'd never answer to her helm while going astern, and if the wind
were abeam, she'd be blown to lee'ard of the man in the water. Now
remember, if there's time, put the boat's helm over so that the
boat's stern flies away from the person overboard. That is to avoid
hitting him with the propeller, since men who have fallen overboard
almost invariably try to swim towards the boat. Then, keeping 'easy
ahead', make a complete circle and come up bows on to the man,
keeping just enough way for the boat to answer her helm, and still
get there quicker and with far more chance of success than by any
other way."

"I'll remember that, sir," said Peter. "But I hope I'll never have to
try it."

"And I, too," added Mr. Armitage fervently. "But one never knows."



CHAPTER XIII

The Bore


The _Olivette_ saved her tide into the outer basin of Le Havre. She
was just in time to enter the lock gates of the Bassin de l'Eure
before they were closed on the falling tide. Meanwhile, the _Acacis_
had berthed in the Bassin Vauban.

"More floating docks!" exclaimed Flemming ruefully, as he surveyed
the stagnant water. "How long do we stop here, sir, please?"

"Only until we've handed back the man belonging to the _Acacis_, and
shown our papers to the authorities," replied Mr. Armitage. "We are
going to bring up in the Tancarville Canal to-night."

"Canal, sir?" echoed Roche. "I thought we were going up the River
Seine."

"So we are, Dick," replied the Scoutmaster. "This canal, however,
saves us a dangerous bit of navigation. The estuary of the Seine is
full of shifting sandbanks, and if we did happen to get aground, the
_Olivette_ would stand a great risk of becoming a total loss. There
have been numerous instances of quite large vessels grounding in the
estuary and heeling over and filling. You see the bore complicates
matters."

"The bore, sir?" exclaimed Flemming.

"Yes, you'll make its acquaintance before very long," replied Mr.
Armitage. "We'll get the tail end of it several times before we reach
Rouen."

Just then the skipper of the _Acacis_ arrived with a couple of
"hands" to take the absent member of the crew back to the ship.

"Who was the Sea Scout who took to the ditch?" inquired the Old Man,
after he had expressed his warmest thanks for the rescue and care of
the man who had fallen overboard. "Wasn't much, eh? I don't know
about that. I call it pretty plucky. I mean to report the
circumstance to the Royal Humane Society when I get back--which may
be in a couple of months or more. On this job one never knows when
the trip's going to end."

The next caller was a Port official. To him Mr. Armitage handed a
document, signed by the French Minister responsible for the
splendidly organized inland waterways of the Republic. The paper was
a permit for the _Olivette_ to make use of the Tancarville Canal, and
it was expressly stated that the passage through the locks was free.

"This is one of the things they do better in France," observed Mr.
Armitage. "Not only do they provide a safe means of avoiding the
dangerous estuary, but they grant us a free passage. If the canals of
England were half as well looked after as they are on this side of
the Channel----"

By six o'clock in the afternoon the _Olivette_ had traversed four and
a half kilometres of the canal, and had tied up for the night close
to a "cut" leading to the town of Harfleur.

"We must see the sights of Harfleur," declared Mr. Armitage. "It is
only a little town, but it's full of interest. You remember, perhaps,
how it was besieged and captured by Henry V before he won the Battle
of Agincourt."

Accordingly the dinghy was launched and manned. It was the first time
the little craft had been used since the _Olivette_ left Keyhaven,
and even then, it was not absolutely necessary. The Sea Scouts could
have landed and walked along the canal bank.

It was dark by the time they returned. Tom Boldrigg had lighted the
cabin lamps, and had prepared supper. Eagerly, the hungry lads sat
down to enjoy what promised to be an appetizing repast, but their
anticipated pleasure failed in its realization.

The _Olivette_ was invaded. Thousands of little green flies swarmed
everywhere. The lamp glasses were thick with them; so much so, that
in spite of frequent cleaning, the light was almost entirely obscured
by the writhing insects. These covered the table, settled on the food
and in the hot cocoa. In the circumstances, making a meal was out of
the question.

"It's the light that does it," declared Boldrigg. "Put out the light
an' the midges'll sheer off."

This suggestion was acted upon. In addition, the _Olivette's_ riding
lamp was hoisted to attract the flies. The result justified the
experiment. As if by magic, the insects disappeared, leaving hundreds
of small corpses in the cabin. Hungry, the crew had to make a sorry
meal in the darkness, munching hard biscuits and trusting to luck
that they were not swallowing dead flies; and in darkness, too, they
sought their bunks.

At six the following morning, the "hands" were roused in true
nautical style. It was a glorious morning, and the waters of the
canal looked temptingly clean and fresh. Soon all the crew were
swimming about, and so thoroughly did they enjoy it, that Mr.
Armitage had difficulty in getting them to come out of the water.

Before breakfast could be served, Roche and Flemming had to walk into
Harfleur to obtain fresh provisions, for everything of an edible
nature on board had been spoiled by the flies.

While the two Sea Scouts were away on their errand the rest cleaned
ship thoroughly, all hands hoping that a repetition of the visitation
would not occur on the following night.

In about an hour Roche and Flemming returned, having had a successful
marketing, in spite of the language difficulty. Their French was
unintelligible to the Harfleur shopkeepers, and the _patois_ of the
latter equally so to the Sea Scouts, but by means of disjointed words
and dumb show, Flemming and Roche had bought a goodly supply of
necessaries.

"Another eleven miles before we're through the canal, lads,"
announced Mr. Armitage as the _Olivette_ prepared to get under way.
"You'll have to cut out a couple of cylinders, Roche, as we did in
the Thames. Five miles an hour is the speed limit here."

It was not a case of plain seamanship. The traffic on the canal was
heavy, comprising small steamships and barges. Most of the latter
were motor-propelled, but several were towed by steam-tugs, often
three abreast in a string. More than once the _Olivette's_ stout
rubbing-strake saved her from serious damage as the tail end of a
line of barges took a sheer and swung nearly across the wide canal.

Kilometre after kilometre was passed, but the long, perfectly
straight canal seemed to have no ending, until early in the afternoon
the _Olivette_ entered the Tancarville Lock, through which she had to
pass to gain the River Seine.

"We've a hot tide against us, sir," remarked Peter when the boat was
breasting the swift current of the river. "Oughtn't we to bring up
until the flood sets in?"

"No," replied Mr. Armitage. "We must push on and try and reach
Quillebeuf before then."

Stratton looked puzzled. Knowing the Scoutmaster's usual keenness in
"working the tides", it seemed strange that he should show anxiety to
proceed against a strong current; while, by waiting a few hours, the
_Olivette_ could easily make up for lost time by taking advantage of
the flood tide.

"We have the bore to take into consideration," was Mr. Armitage's
enigmatical answer. "Let her all out, Flemming, and keep within easy
distance of the reversing-lever; it may be wanted in a hurry."

It took nearly an hour to cover the five and a half miles to
Quillebeuf, but the Sea Scouts rather enjoyed the unusual scenery;
Those not on duty were basking on deck until Mr. Armitage told them
to go below.

As the lads scrambled down the iron ladder into the well, they heard
a faint distant rumble.

"Thunder, by Jove!" exclaimed Warkworth.

In a few minutes the roar increased. It certainly was not thunder.
The Sea Scouts looked at each other inquiringly.

They observed, also, that there was great activity on board the small
boats at Quillebeuf. Men were busy casting off moorings and rowing
the little craft into the centre of the stream.

Suddenly round a bend in the river, down-stream, a huge wall of water
was seen approaching at a furious rate and breaking heavily against
both banks. To the lads this moving mass appeared to be quite twenty
feet high, but in reality it was about one third that height.

It was the bore, or "La Barre"--a tidal wave caused by the flood tide
forcing its way into the funnel-shaped estuary and overwhelming the
ebb.

"Hang on to something, all hands!" shouted Mr. Armitage.
"Hard-a-starboard, Peter."

Round swung the _Olivette_ until her bows pointed down-stream.

"Easy ahead!" was the next order.

Straight for the centre of the bow-shaped wall of water the staunch
little craft headed. Into it she plunged, thrusting her bluff snout
deep into the wave. A foaming torrent swept the foredeck, and,
breaking against the wheel-house, flew high in the air in a cloud of
spray.

For a few seconds it seemed as if the _Olivette_ were standing on her
heel. Her momentum was temporarily stopped. Somewhere below, the
sound audible above the roar of the bore, came the crash of broken
glass. Then with a dizzy, disconcerting movement the boat slid down
the reverse side of the liquid wall into the agitated water beyond.

"There's another one, sir!" exclaimed Peter as soon as the moisture
on the wheel-house windows cleared sufficiently to enable him to see
ahead.

Three more times in quick succession the _Olivette_ charged moving
walls of roaring surf-crested water; then she found herself in a
turmoil of dangerous waves, steep, irregular, and silent as they
surged onwards in the wake of the bore. In a few moments the
agitation died away; the _Olivette_ ported helm, and, with a six-knot
tide to aid her on her way, progressed rapidly up-stream.

"Jolly exciting, eh, what?" exclaimed Peter. "Does that happen twice
every day, sir? If so, what do we do when there's a bore at night?"

"We'll certainly have a repetition of it," replied Mr. Armitage, "but
I hope we'll be in fairly sheltered water to-night. We've struck it
at rather an awkward time, as we're right on the top of the spring
tides. At neaps the bore is hardly noticeable."

Before the tide changed again the _Olivette_ had passed Caudebec and
followed the wide and sharp curve that the Seine makes round the
forest of Jumièges, and brought up off the little town of Duclair.

"We won't feel much of the bore here," said Mr. Armitage, when the
_Olivette_ had picked up a set of moorings lent by a courteous
Frenchman. "It will be safe to leave the boat; so who's for the
shore? A jolly good walk will do us good. Are you coming with us,
Tom?"

Old Boldrigg expressed his readiness to go. Hitherto he had spent
most of his time on board while the _Olivette_ was in port.

"And what did you think of the bore, Mr. Boldrigg?" asked Peter,
while the old seaman was changing into "shore rig".

"Not much, by a long chalk, Master Peter," was the reply. "When I saw
that there a-bearing down on us, I wished I was properly
afloat--plenty of sea-room, you'll understand. Rivers is all very
well, but give me the deep sea--it's safer."



CHAPTER XIV

The Derelict


It was six o'clock when the "liberty men" landed on the quay at
Duclair. Roche, Flemming, and Tenderfoot Rayburn, who had volunteered
to remain on board as watch-keepers, went off with the others in
order to bring back the dinghy.

"We'll be back at sunset, or soon after," said Mr. Armitage when the
party had been safely landed.

"Aye, aye, sir," replied Roche. "We'll keep a look-out for you."

Returning on board, Roche made the dinghy fast, and hung a canvas
bucket over the stern to prevent the little craft from bumping
against the _Olivette's_ counter, as the wind was against the tide.

"Now we're all snug, Phil," exclaimed Roche. "I'm going on deck to
write letters."

"So am I," added the Tenderfoot.

"Then we can post them when we go ashore for the other fellows," said
Roche.

Having attended to their home epistles, the two Sea Scouts read books
until it was nearly sunset.

"Lay the table in the after-cabin, Phil," said his companion "I'll
start up the stove. We'll have a jolly good feed ready for them when
they return. They'll be here in twenty minutes or half an hour."

An hour passed, and no sign of the returning "liberty men". Roche
took the hard-boiling kettle off the stove, lit the cabin lamp, and
went on deck.

It was now quite dark, except for a few lights from the houses ashore
and the distant gleam of the Fanal St. Paul against the sombre
outlines of the Forêt du Trait.

The Tenderfoot, on his own initiative, had trimmed, lighted, and
hoisted the riding-light.

"That's the sort!" exclaimed Roche approvingly. "You're getting quite
a smart sailorman. How's the tide? Why, it's ebbing and we've swung
down-stream."

"What's happened to the others, I wonder?" asked Rayburn, whose
notions of a foreign country included danger for man and beast.

"Lost their way, perhaps," replied Roche. "'Twouldn't be the first
time a Scout has done that, by any means. We'll hear them hail us
very soon."

"P'r'aps Hepburn's been run in again," suggested Flemming, "and the
others are trying to bail him out."

He looked meditatively over the side, and added:

"My word, isn't the tide running hard; I wouldn't like to have to go
overboard on a dark night like this."

The ebb was now running at a good four knots, the water gurgling past
the sides of the _Olivette_ as she rode to her tautened
mooring-bridle.

A tug, towing a train of barges, was laboriously creeping up-stream
in an endeavour to make Rouen before morning. Farther down, the
triple lights of a large steamer under way could be discerned
rounding the bend abreast of Le Marais. Presently the red and green
lights were extinguished. She had anchored for the night, preferring
to negotiate the intricate channel by daylight.

"I'll get the dinghy alongside ready to go ashore," said Flemming.
"She'll lie there quietly now we're head to wind."

"Don't forget to haul in the bucket," Roche reminded him, "or when we
begin to row we'll be wondering what's wrong with the dinghy."

Eric brought the dinghy alongside on the starboard quarter and
clambered on board.

"She'll do," he reported. "She's as quiet as a lamb. Wonder what
those fellows are doing ashore? It's nearly midnight. You'd better
turn in, Rayburn."

The Tenderfoot was about to go below, when he startled the others by
exclaiming:

"What's that coming towards us?"

It was a heavily laden barge, drifting broadside on to the wind and
tide. Already it was close upon the bows of the _Olivette_, its long,
low-lying outlines grotesquely magnified in the darkness.

"She'll hit us!" shouted Roche. "Stand by and fend her off. Phil, put
the helm hard over, and see if we can sheer clear of her."

Flemming and Roche ran for'ard, each with a boat-hook. They might as
well have tried to stop an armoured car with a broomstick. Rayburn
promptly put the helm hard over, but the scope of chain to which the
_Olivette_ was riding was not sufficient to enable her to sheer out
of the course of the derelict barge.

The next moment the impact came. It was a severe shock, although the
_Olivette_ gave to the momentum of the barge. Round swung the latter
under the irresistible strength of the tide, although her side was
still grinding against the _Olivette's_ stem.

"Look to the dinghy!" shouted Roche, still pushing with the boat-hook
with all his strength.

Flemming realized the danger. Dropping his boat-hook, he raced aft,
dropped into the dinghy, and began to cast off the painter.


[Illustration: THE DERELICT (missing from book)]


The rope--a new one--had swollen with the night dew. Before Eric
could untie the stubborn clove-hitch, the barge, still swinging
round, crashed heavily against the frail dinghy.

Nipped between the sides of the two larger craft, the dinghy was
literally split asunder. Flemming barely contrived to jump upon the
deck of the low-lying barge. A second or so later and he would have
shared the fate of the dinghy.

Baffled by the darkness and by the fact that he was on a strange
craft, Flemming attempted to run for'ard and regain the _Olivette_.
Stumbling over a ring-bolt, he fell awkwardly upon the barge's
waterways, and by the time he recovered himself the two craft had
drifted apart.

He was marooned upon a derelict at the mercy of the swiftly running
Seine.

It was a time of agonizing suspense for Dick Roche. He knew that his
chum had gone to save the dinghy; he had heard the rending crash as
the frail craft was nipped between the sides of the _Olivette_ and
the barge.

A prey to the liveliest apprehension, Dick ran aft, encountering the
Tenderfoot, who, having placed the helm amidships, had hurried from
the wheel-house.

"Where's Eric?" shouted Roche. "He was in the dinghy."

"On board the barge," replied Phil; "I saw him jump for it."

Roche ran aft and shouted. By this time the derelict had drifted so
far that she was a mere shadow in the darkness.

"Ahoy!" came a faint shout, barely audible against the down-wind.

Dick hailed again, but Flemming's reply could not be heard.

"We'll have to get him off the barge somehow, Phil," declared Roche.
"We can't wait for the others, and I don't know how they'll get on
board. Now, look here: do you think you can manage the helm if I
start up the motor?"

"I'll do my best," replied the Tenderfoot resolutely.

"You can't do more," rejoined Roche encouragingly. "So let's get to
work and get about it."

The first task was to bring the painter of the crashed and
water-logged dinghy for'ard and make it fast to the mooring-buoy.
Then Roche and the Tenderfoot fixed the sidelights and got the engine
going--the last was a fairly easy task, since the cylinders were
still warm.

"Now," exclaimed Roche breathlessly, "go for'ard and cast off. By the
time you're back at the wheel we'll have drifted astern and clear of
the buoy. You're skipper now, Phil. Keep your head, and shout your
orders clearly, and you'll do all right."

Making his way for'ard, the Tenderfoot managed to unfasten the heavy
mooring-chain. The buoy disappeared overboard with a mighty splash,
and the _Olivette_, with her engine running free, dropped astern, her
head paying off to leeward as she did so.

Back to the wheel-house the Tenderfoot hurried. It was not exactly a
novel sensation to steer, but it was to realize that he was now
solely responsible for the direction and safety of the boat.

"Ahead!" shouted Phil in a shrill voice.

The _Olivette_ quivered as Roche put in the clutch. Then, gathering
way, she headed down-stream.

Roche kept her at "Easy ahead". With both hands resting on the top of
the reversing-lever, he fixed his eyes upon the youthful helmsman. It
was a daring experiment, but circumstances justified the risk.
Flemming was in great danger, and that was sufficient reason.

Meanwhile the Tenderfoot had opened the for'ard windows of the
wheel-house and was peering through the darkness. Nearly all the
shore lights were now extinguished, but there were the lighthouses
with their red and white lamps--those showing red being on the left,
and the white on the right bank.

It took a great amount of careful handling to avoid the numerous
boats anchored off Duclair. Beyond was the steamer that had brought
up earlier in the evening.

The _Olivette_ swept past within fifty yards of her. Not a soul was
visible on deck, so it was safe to assume that the derelict barge had
drifted past her without colliding with that vessel--otherwise there
would have been great commotion on board.

Rayburn was beginning to think that in the darkness he had overtaken
the barge without sighting her, when he heard a faint shout, just
audible above the noise of the motor. There was no mistaking that
shout: it was one of the Patrol cries of the Milford Sea Scouts.

A hundred yards or so on the _Olivette's_ port bow was the barge,
drifting broadside on to the current. Not so very far down-stream
were three masthead lights, denoting that vessels were at anchor.
Unless the derelict were promptly secured and towed out of the
fairway there seemed no way of preventing the barge from crashing
disastrously across the hawse of at least one of the three vessels.

"Stop!" ordered Phil, putting the helm over gently. "Touch astern."

In spite of his efforts the _Olivette_ bumped heavily against the
side of the barge. In a trice Hemming jumped and gained the
_Olivette's_ deck but not to stay. He too realized the danger of the
heavily laden barge drifting upon the anchored ships. Picking up the
bow-warp and taking a turn round the bitts, he jumped upon the deck
of the barge and made the end of the warp secure to a bollard.

"Come on, you fellows," he shouted. "Bear a hand."

"Can't," replied Rayburn. "There are only two of us on board. Roche
is at the motor and I at the wheel."

Making his way aft, Flemming took another warp on board, so that the
_Olivette_ was secured alongside the derelict.

"All fast!" he shouted as he regained the _Olivette_.

"Easy ahead!" ordered Phil. The initial excitement over, he was now
as cool as the proverbial cucumber.

Very gently Roche let the clutch in, throttling well down so that the
strain on the two hawsers would be taken up gradually and evenly. A
sudden jerk might result in both ropes carrying away, in which case
the barge would be foul of the anchored vessels before she could be
again secured.

By this time the look-out on board the nearmost of the stationary
craft realized that something was amiss. He began hailing in French,
keeping up a torrent of exclamations until the _Olivette_ and her tow
were clear.

"What are we going to do with her?" asked Roche.

"Tow her clear of the fairway, I suppose," replied Flemming. "We
can't stem this tide; that's a cert. She has an anchor on board, but
it's too heavy for me to drop overboard single-handed, or I'd have
done so long ago."

Slowly the _Olivette_ with her tow moved towards the right bank,
then, starboarding helm, she only just held her own against the swift
current.

"Keep her like that!" shouted Flemming to the helmsman. "Now, Dick;
you can leave the motor for a brace of shakes. Come and bear a hand
with the mud-hook. Mind where you tread, old son; the barge is bunged
up with things to trip you up. I've had some."

Even with their united efforts the two Sea Scouts were only just able
to topple the ponderous mass of iron over the bows. Then, having paid
out twenty fathoms of cable, the lads cast off both warps and jumped
on board their own craft.

Roche immediately made his way to the engine-room. The clutch had not
slipped, and the engine was still running in neutral, but the sight
that met his eyes took him completely by surprise and filled him with
dismay. The heavy flywheel was throwing up showers of water, and the
engine-room looked as if one of the fountains of Trafalgar Square had
suddenly been transplanted into the confined space.

"I say, you fellows!" he shouted. "One of you come down here as sharp
as you can. She's sprung a leak."



CHAPTER XV

All Hands to the Pumps


Leaving the Tenderfoot at the helm, Flemming leapt into the well and
thence into the engine-room.

"It must have been that biff when the barge fouled us!" he exclaimed.
"Look! the floor-boards are awash!"

Eric went to the semi-rotary bilge-pump and began working the lever
desperately. Meanwhile Rayburn had shouted for "Easy ahead."

The moment Roche put the engine in gear the _Olivette_ "squatted", as
she always did when under way; in other words, her bows rose and her
stern dipped correspondingly. The result was that a lot of water that
had found its way into the boat ran aft and the flywheel no longer
gave an aquatic display, but subsequent examination found that the
level of the bilge-water rose nearly six inches above the floor of
the after-cabin.

Flemming kept on pumping for nearly twenty minutes, but the
semi-rotary failed to "suck air". It seemed positive that the pump
was unable to cope with the inflow of water.

"Where are we now?" he asked breathlessly.

Roche passed the question on to Phil Rayburn.

"Nearly there," replied the Tenderfoot. "It's slow work against the
stream."

"We'll have to beach her, I'm afraid," said Flemming.

"No good doing that now," objected Roche; "she'd fill on the rising
tide. Besides, if there's much of a bore here, she'd be damaged still
more. You stand by here, old thing, and I'll give you a spell at the
pump."

"We're nearly there," announced the Tenderfoot. "Who's going to pick
up the moorings?"

Leaving Flemming at the reversing-lever, Roche "knocked off" pumping
and went on deck. Boat-hook in hand, he waited to make a grasp at the
mooring-buoy, to which was attached the water-logged planks and
timbers of what had been a smart, serviceable dinghy.

"I bet that kid makes a bog of it," soliloquized Roche, who knew from
personal experience how easy it is to blunder in picking up moorings.

But his fears were groundless. With a confidence inspired by previous
success, Phil brought the _Olivette_ to a standstill within a couple
of feet of the mooring-buoy.

"Got it!" yelled Dick as he fished the cork float on board and took a
turn round the bitts with the chain-bridle.

"Finished with the engines," shouted the Tenderfoot.

Flemming cut off the ignition. The motor clanked into a state of
somnolence; then, having turned off the feed to the carburetter, Eric
devoted his attention to the bilge-pump once more.

Presently Roche came below.

"There's not a sign of the others," he announced. "What on earth can
have happened to them, I wonder? It's nearly half-past one."

He caught sight of Rayburn, who was stifling a yawn.

"You did jolly well, Phil!" he exclaimed. "We would have been in a
pretty kettle of fish if you hadn't been here. But you're tired. How
about turning in?"

"I'm not tired, really," protested the Tenderfoot. "I'll take a turn
at the pump if you like."

"Right-o," agreed Dick. "We may have to have spells at it all night;
but I think I'll try to find out where it's coming in and have a go
at stopping it."

Switching on his electric torch, Roche squeezed through the small
doorway between the engine-room and the forepeak. He could hear an
ominous trickle coming from the neighbourhood of the chain-locker.

Investigations resulted in the discovery that the _Olivette's_ bows
had been badly damaged in spite of the partial protection afforded by
the "pudding" fender. Several planks had been started on either side
of the stem, and although most of the damage was above water-line,
there was a considerable leak where a seam or two had burst.

Procuring some grease and cotton-waste, Dick proceeded to caulk the
faulty seams, but his efforts in that direction were rewarded with
poor success. It was impracticable to use any degree of force,
because the fastenings of the planks were in such a weak state that
the planks themselves began to give; and without ramming the caulking
well home, the cotton-waste would not remain in position.

"Better let well alone," decided Roche. "It's jolly tedious work
manning the pump, but we'll keep the old hooker afloat."

Having reported the result of his investigations, Roche proposed that
each of the three Sea Scouts should take fifteen-minute tricks at the
pump.

"That will give each of us half-an-hour spells," he added. "One or
both of the others can stop on deck to keep a look-out for the
liberty men."

"P'r'aps they are not 'liberty men' any longer," remarked Flemming.
"It's jolly rummy that they haven't shown up before this. Right-o,
Dick; I'll take on with the pumping."

Roche and the Tenderfoot went on deck. The tide was still ebbing. The
wind had dropped, and hardly a sound disturbed the stillness of the
night except the ripple of the water against the _Olivette's_ bows,
and the monotonous chug-chug of the semi-rotary pump.

A steamer's navigation lights appeared up-stream. She was heading
towards the anchored _Olivette_. Rayburn glanced at his companion.

"It's all right," said Dick reassuringly. "She's coming round a bend;
that's why she appears end on. She'll starboard her helm in half a
tick."

But the vessel held on until even Roche began to think that there
would be a collision. He glanced aloft to make sure that the
_Olivette's_ riding-lamp was burning brightly.

The steamer reversed engines, and lost way within twenty yards of the
_Olivette_. A hoarse voice hailed in an unintelligible patois. Dick
caught but two words, "_gabare_" and "_abandonnée_".

"_A l'ancre.... A l'autre côté.... Sept kilomètres en bas_,"
replied Roche, guessing that the strange craft was the tug they had
seen earlier in the night, and that, having missed one of her
charges, had returned in search of the derelict barge.

To his no small satisfaction, Roche found that his halting reply was
understood, for, with a "_Merci beaucoup, m'sieu_", the skipper of
the tug rang for full speed ahead.

Barely was the steamboat out of sight when the _Olivette_ began to
rock violently. It was not the swell of the tug that had caused the
commotion; it was the turn of the tide and the tail-end of the bore
in a succession of waves of about four feet in height.

The erratic rolling and pitching alarmed Flemming considerably, for
the water in the bilges gushed between the floor-boards and swirled
ankle-deep from side to side.

"She's leaking fast," he shouted.

Roche went below. Already the water was subsiding into the bilges,
but it was evident that, in spite of continuous work at the pump, the
leak was not being kept under.

"It'll be as much as we can do to keep going till daylight," declared
Flemming as he "handed over" to his chum. "The best thing we can do
is to get a bucket going. I'll bale, and pass the bucket up to Phil
for him to sling overboard."

"Good idea," agreed Roche, turning up his sleeves and grasping the
handle of the pump. "We'll keep her afloat, old thing, even if it
snows ink."



CHAPTER XVI

The Adventures of the "Liberty Men"


The "liberty men" had rather overdone things. Their ramble through
the Forest of Jumièges was too much of an undertaking for the short
space of time at their disposal.

Twilight overtook them almost before they were aware of the fact, and
long before they were clear of the forest it was pitch dark.

"If we keep on in a straight line," declared Mr. Armitage, "we'll
strike the river somewhere. Now, you woodcraftsmen, lead on, or we'll
get no supper to-night."

It was easy to say "Keep in a straight line", but the accomplishment
was difficult. Not only was the ground thickly covered with trees--it
was hilly, and in places rugged. The recognized methods failed. The
Sea Scouts knew that the wind was an easterly one, but in the depth
of the forest there was no appreciable air-current. The foliage
overhead hid the stars, so another guide was denied the benighted
lads.

"Moss and lichen always grow on the north side of a tree-trunk,"
quoted Hepburn. "Where's your torch, Peter? Shine it this way."

An examination not only of one, but of many tree-trunks, resulted in
the discovery that mosses and lichen were not in evidence. The third
clue had also let the Sea Scouts down.

"Carry on, then," suggested Mr. Armitage, "until we find a path. It's
bound to lead somewhere."

It took twenty minutes' steady progress through the undergrowth
before they found a path. It was narrow and apparently unfrequented.
Once a big animal--about the size of a bullock, declared
Warkworth--crashed through the brushwood about ten feet ahead of the
lads.

"We must have tramped miles," declared Woodleigh. "I believe we're
going round in circles."

"I fancy we're nearly out of the wood," said the Scoutmaster. "I can
feel a breeze. Yes, I thought so."

The edge of the forest at last. It was now nearly eleven o'clock. Far
below could be discerned the sinuous course of the River Seine.
Nearer, and at a fair distance down the hill, lights gleamed from a
small village.

"That must be Le Mesnil," decided Mr. Armitage, after he had
consulted a map by the aid of an electric torch. "It's all plain
sailing now. We'll follow the river bank. It's only six miles to
Duclair. Come on: Scouts' pace, forward."

Encouraged by the Scoutmaster's example, the tired and hungry lads
bucked up considerably. Alternately walking and running fifty paces
they covered the intervening distance in an hour and twenty minutes,
arriving at the landing-place at a quarter past twelve. Old Boldrigg,
now sure of his bearings, followed at a leisurely pace.

"_Olivette_ ahoy!" shouted Peter.

There was no reply save the mocking echoes of his voice from the
opposite bank. He hailed again, giving the Patrol cry.

"The lazy blighters have turned in," he declared, and hailed for the
third time.

"Where's her riding-lamp?" asked Alan. "I believe she's gone--broken
adrift, or something."

Mr. Armitage already had his doubts on the subject. Bringing out his
night-glasses, he focused them on the spot where the _Olivette_ ought
to have been moored. With difficulty he located the vacant buoy, to
which was attached something low in the water and straining in the
strong tide-way.

"The _Olivette_ isn't there," he declared. "I don't think she's
broken adrift, or the mooring-buoy would have gone with her. I hope
Roche hasn't got into a panic about our late arrival and gone off in
search of us."

"He couldn't expect to find us in the river, sir," remarked
Woodleigh.

"S'pose not," admitted Mr. Armitage. "But to get down to rock-bottom
facts, the _Olivette's_ not on the moorings and we're benighted."

"Perhaps she was in a prohibited anchorage, sir," suggested Peter,
"and the River Police have shifted her."

"No, I inquired if she would be all right there," replied the
Scoutmaster. "She can't be very far away. Roche would have dropped
the anchor when he found her adrift. Anyone too tired to join in the
search? How about you, Mr. Boldrigg?"

"I am a bit, sir," admitted the old man, who had just rejoined the
others. "But it ain't no good hangin' on to the slack when there's a
hammock waiting for me on board. So the sooner we find the hooker the
better for everyone, says I."

The Sea Scouts retraced their way, keeping to the bank of the river.
There were a few craft under way, but in the darkness it was
impossible to distinguish what they were.

It must have been soon after 2 a.m. that the search-party arrived at
the village of Jumièges. Here, fortunately a rowing boat containing
a belated fishing-party had just returned.

In answer to Mr. Armitage's inquiry, the four people who had just
landed--they were Parisian art-students on holiday--all replied at
once.

"Yes, monsieur, we did see a motor-boat. She passed close, very
close, to our little boat. She was towing a large lighter."

The Scoutmaster felt disappointed.

"I am afraid that is not the motor-boat we are looking for," he said.
"Did you happen to notice any of the crew?"

"I did, monsieur," declared one of the men. "There was but one
visible. He wore a blue blouse and a white hat--so. Like these
messieurs here. The light shone from below upon him, understand;
therefore I could discern. She was going towards Duclair."

"A white boat with a deck-house, sir," corroborated one of his
companions, tracing an outline with his finger. "Towards the front
one little mast but no funnel. Monsieur is benighted? Then perhaps he
would care to accompany us to our lodgings for refreshments."

Mr. Armitage demurred, but the students were pressing in their
invitation. Accordingly the whole party went into the village, and
the Sea Scouts found themselves in strange surroundings--a cabaret.

The landlord rose to the occasion. The sight of a couple of grown
Englishmen and four English Sea Scouts provoked no comment. In five
minutes the hungry search-party were sitting down to hot coffee and
biscuits, a long roll, and plenty of fresh Normandy butter.

"That is our affair, monsieur," protested one of the students when
Mr. Armitage offered to pay for the refreshment. "When I was a
_poilu_ of the 141st Regiment we were once on the left of an English
battalion. We were hungry and they were well fed--merely a matter of
commissariat, monsieur--and when they found out we were famished,
half their rations were passed into our trench. Monsieur has served,
of course?"

Greatly refreshed, the Sea Scouts bade their hospitable hosts
farewell, and set out to retrace their way back to Duclair.

"Guess we know the way by this time," remarked Peter. "Three times in
one night is about the limit. Do we turn out at seven to-morrow--or
rather, to-day, sir?"

"We're not on board yet, Peter," rejoined the Scoutmaster. "But I
think I'm safe in saying that we'll keep to our hammocks till noon."

But Mr. Armitage's surmise was out, absolutely out. Grey dawn was
showing in the north-eastern sky when the footsore party arrived on
the quay at Duclair. There in the dim light was the _Olivette_ riding
to the flood-tide. In the stillness of the early morning could be
heard the regular pulsations of the hand-pump, while at intervals one
of her crew--it was not light enough to distinguish who it was--was
toppling pailfuls of water over the side.

"_Olivette_, ahoy!"

This time the hail was answered promptly. Out of the deep, open well
clambered Roche and Flemming slowly and laboriously, for they were
pretty well done up with their night of strenuous toil.

"They seem in no hurry to come for us," observed Warkworth, "after
we've trudged all the blessed night."

"Ahoy, there!" shouted Roche. "Can you find someone to put you off?
We've no dinghy."

"Then they have had a mishap," declared Warkworth. "I believe I can
see the dinghy astern. She's waterlogged."

The difficulty that now arose was how to get on board. There were
dozens of small boats off Duclair, but no one was about.

"We'll take French leave," decided Mr. Armitage. "Since we are in
France, I take it that in the circumstances it is permissible. Find a
boat with detachable bottom-boards. We can paddle her out all right,
and return her when the owner shows up."

This suggestion was acted upon. The "liberty men" crowded into the
borrowed boat and made their way to the _Olivette_ with but little
difficulty, for the flood-tide was easing off considerably.

The Sea Scouts looked grave when the nature of the damage was pointed
out to them. Would it be possible to continue their trip with a boat
in that condition?

"But we've kept her afloat, sir," declared Flemming triumphantly, as
he displayed his blistered hands. "We've done enough pumping to be
excused duty for the rest of the voyage."

Roche, from below, added:

"We're keeping the leak under and no more, sir. If we knock off for
even a minute the water rises over the floor boards."

"Then it's about time we came," rejoined Mr. Armitage. "We're nearly
on the top of high water. Directly it's slack tide, we'll cast off
and warp into that shipbuilder's yard at the head of the quay. Until
the _Olivette_ is high and dry we cannot see the full extent of the
damage."

An hour later the _Olivette_ was safely placed upon the slipway. Two
very serious-looking Frenchmen conferred between themselves, shaking
their heads and gesticulating as they examined the damaged bows. The
stem-piece was fractured in two places, the cracks extending diagonal
fashion. Four of the planks above water-line and two below had been
"started", and from the bows to a distance of ten feet aft the
caulking had been forced from the seams. Had it not been for the big
"pudding" fender, the _Olivette_ might have sunk within a few minutes
of the collision.

Mr. Armitage anxiously awaited their verdict, so did several of the
crew, but Roche, Flemming, and Rayburn were sleeping the sleep of
utter exhaustion.

"It is a bad business," declared one of the Frenchmen. "We have not
the material for executing repairs here. It will be necessary to
proceed up to Rouen, where, at the _chantier_ of Declos et Cie., the
work can be executed in a proper manner. Meanwhile we ourselves will
stop the leak temporarily, so that your little vessel will, with
safety, make the passage to Rouen."

He was as good as his word. Procuring some white lead, canvas, and a
sheet of zinc, he contrived to patch up the gaping planks, so that
they no longer let in the water; for, when the _Olivette_ was
launched again, it was as tight as a boat could be.

When Mr. Armitage asked for the bill, the little Frenchman shrugged
his shoulders.

"I am but a poor man, monsieur," said the latter, "and these are hard
times. Nevertheless, I, who have been a sailor, would not gain my
bread by overcharging foreign sailormen in difficulties. It is but a
small thing that we have done, monsieur, merely a matter of white
lead and canvas. I therefore charge you twenty francs."

The Scoutmaster looked at him in astonishment. Allowing for the
present value of the franc, the cost was a little over ten shillings.
Mentally he contrasted the sum with the extortionate bills for
shipwright's work on the other side of the English Channel, and he no
longer wondered why the British merchant ships cross over to French
ports to be "reconditioned".

He paid up willingly, adding five francs as a _pourboire_, and, with
the wreckage of the dinghy hoisted on deck, the _Olivette_ resumed
her eventful pilgrimage.



CHAPTER XVII

Monsieur Raoul


As it was only a distance of thirty-five kilometres, or, roughly, 23
miles, Mr. Armitage decided to bring up on moorings off Duclair until
the tide changed. This would enable the crew to make up arrears of
sleep, or, at any rate, go a long way towards doing so, while, with
the favourable tide, the boat ought to arrive at Rouen early in the
afternoon.

The Scoutmaster was dubious as to what would happen when the
_Olivette_ did arrive there. It looked as if the cruise would have to
terminate abruptly, while to repair the damage would probably eat up
the whole of the Troop's finances.

He said nothing of this to the lads under his care.

He was content to let events shape their course, and not to meet
trouble half-way. The youngsters were enjoying themselves, and he
would not place their pleasures under a cloud by as much as hinting
that the cruise of the _Olivette_ would be drastically curtailed.

It was a picturesque stretch of the river that confronted the Sea
Scouts when the voyage was resumed. The Seine made a huge U-shaped
bend, almost encircling the Forest of Roumare on the port hand, and
skirting the Forests of Mauny and du Rouvray to starboard. On either
bank were numerous villages, while occasionally small islands were
passed.

The _Olivette_ was abreast of the Obelisk at Le Val de la Haye, when
her crew noticed a weird sort of craft approaching at tremendous
speed. At first the Sea Scouts could not make head or tail of it.
There was hardly anything to be seen but a triangular girder
appearing above the apex of a double crest of spray, but the noise
the quaint craft made was terrific.

"It's driven by an aerial propeller," declared Peter. "I can see the
glint on the blades as they revolve."

Approaching at a rate of about forty-five miles an hour, the vessel
passed the _Olivette_ "like a streak of greased lightning". That was
Hepburn's definition.

As she passed, the Sea Scouts saw that she was a hydro-glisseur, her
hull composed of three rectangular floats in line ahead and
supporting an aluminium cabin. Right aft was the motor with a triple
chain-driven air propeller. In the bows a tiny Tricolour stood out
stiffly in the breeze. Her crew consisted of two people--one, a
bareheaded mechanic, wearing a blue overall, the other, a youngish
man, the outstanding features of his costume being a velour Alpine
hat, with a tuft of feathers, and a pair of light-yellow kid gloves.

Noticing the Red Ensign flying on board the _Olivette_, the Frenchman
took off his hat and made an elaborate bow. Not to be outdone in
politeness, the Scoutmaster gave the order, "Alert!" and while the
crew stood to attention he saluted the owner of the glisseur in scout
fashion.

"We ought to have dipped our ensign, I suppose," remarked Stratton.

"There wasn't time," rejoined Woodleigh. "He passed before you could
count five."

"He's turning!" exclaimed Alan. "I say, what a heel! Oh, look! she's
over!"

Hepburn's exclamation directed the attention of all hands aft. Even
Flemming, who was in the wheel-house, allowed the _Olivette_ to swing
a couple of points out of her course as he looked astern.

The air-propelled craft, extremely sensitive to her helm, had made
too sharp a turn, or perhaps the mechanic had not slowed down the
motor sufficiently. In any case she capsized. For a moment, quite
two-thirds of the under-surface of the floats was exposed. Then, with
a rending crash, the rapidly-revolving propeller blades hit the water
and were shattered into splinters. The next instant the violently
racing engine dipped beneath the surface. A cloud of steam, as the
water came into contact with the hot cylinders, momentarily hid the
scene of the disaster.

Flemming acted promptly. Spinning the wheel hard over, and shouting
to his chum, Roche, to slow down, he brought the _Olivette's_ bows on
to the spot where the glisseur had disappeared on an unpremeditated
submarine excursion.

The owner of the vanished craft was with difficulty swimming towards
his mechanic, who, unable to keep afloat, had sunk for the second
time.

The Frenchman was obviously handicapped, because he made no attempt
to use his left arm, but, arriving over the place where the
air-bubbles marked the presence of the unfortunate mechanic, he dived
to the latter's rescue.

The pair reappeared together, the mechanic desperately grasping his
master round the neck. With a sudden wrench the latter shook himself
partly clear, then, with a short quick jab with his right fist, the
Frenchman hit the struggling man a stunning blow on the left temple,
grasped him by the collar of his overalls, and waited the arrival of
the _Olivette_.

Quickly the pair were hauled on board. Three of the Sea Scouts
immediately set to work to resuscitate the half-drowned mechanic,
while the others, in their imperfect French, offered their services
to the owner of the lost craft.

The Frenchman bowed. He had lost his hat.

"_Permettez-moi, messieurs!_" he exclaimed, and gravely produced a
saturated visiting-card on which were the words "Raoul de la Voie,
Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur".

Mr. Armitage suggested to his involuntary guest that perhaps the crew
of the _Olivette_ might conduct salvage operations. The boat had
stopped, with her engines running well throttled down, close to the
place where the hydro-glisseur had disappeared, a ready clue being
afforded by the oil rising in a steady, far-spreading stream to the
surface.

Monsieur de la Voie listened with perfect gravity to the
Scoutmaster's halting attempt to put his thoughts into words in the
French language. Mr. Armitage "stuck" badly. His vocabulary was
usually good, but at the present time he had the greatest difficulty
in finding his words, and his dictionary was in one of his
portmanteaux in the after-cabin.

"Excuse me," remarked the Frenchman, with an almost perfect English
accent, "but if you will kindly talk in English, no doubt I will be
able to follow you better."

"Thanks awfully," replied Mr. Armitage, falling back upon his
mother-tongue. Then he added gravely, "I hope you are feeling quite
chirpy now."

"Chirpy?" queried the Frenchman.

"Chirpy--bucked," prompted the Scoutmaster.

Monsieur de la Voie's face wore a puzzled expression. But he would
not admit defeat, for, producing a saturated pocket-dictionary, he
looked up the perplexing words.

"Ah, yes," he continued, with a smile. "I'm feeling absolutely
top-hole, thank you, notwithstanding an unusual style of bathing in
the Seine. Salvage? Hardly necessary to trouble you, sir; you've done
quite enough for us as it is, but if you will buoy the spot, one of
my barges will conduct the operations. If you will be good enough to
give my mechanic and me a passage to Rouen?"

Monsieur Raoul was little worse for his immersion, but the condition
of the luckless mechanic gave rise to grave misgivings. Not only had
he swallowed a liberal quantity of water: his knee had been hurt by
coming in contact with the girder supporting the aerial propeller,
while, to make matters worse, his master had been compelled to stun
him in order to free himself from his dangerous clutch.

The owner of the hydro-glisseur was greatly interested in the Sea
Scouts and their craft. He plied the lads with innumerable questions,
and complimented them upon their sound knowledge of seamanship.

Very little escaped the notice of the mercurial Frenchman, and when
he caught sight of the scars upon the _Olivette's_ bows he asked how
the damage had been caused.

"And this happened last night, then? It is just possible that I know
who is the owner of the barge that caused the mischief."

"He is a careless blighter, sir, whoever he is, to let a barge break
adrift," declared Hepburn.

"Yes," assented Monsieur de la Vole solemnly. "He is."



CHAPTER XVIII

Shore Quarters


In spite of the delay occasioned by the rescue of the crew of the
hydro-glisseur, the _Olivette's_ run up to Rouen was accomplished by
four o'clock in the afternoon. The historic old town, viewed from the
river, interested the lads beyond measure, while the sight of the
transporter-bridge, a structure one hundred and seventy feet above
the water, and supporting a travelling car that served as a ferry,
appealed to their mechanical instincts.

"Where do you propose going to for repairs?" asked Monsieur de la
Voie.

"We were recommended to the Chantier Declos," replied Mr. Armitage.

The Frenchman smiled. "You could not have been better recommended,"
he remarked. "It happens that I keep my private boats in that yard.
There it is: on your left hand just beyond that crane."

The _Olivette_ was safely berthed, and the French mechanic, who was
able to walk with assistance, was sent ashore. His condition excited
a fair amount of sympathy and curiosity on the part of the workmen;
but when Monsieur de la Voie jumped on to the quay his reception was
exuberant.

"One would think they were all touched," remarked Roche.

The workpeople were crowding round and literally mobbing de la Voie,
talking so quickly that the Sea Scouts were unable to understand a
single sentence.

Presently the owner of the hydro-glisseur obtained a certain amount
of silence, and, beckoning to one of the men, led him aside. For some
minutes the pair conversed heatedly, Monsieur de la Voie smiting the
open palm of his left hand with his fist, while the other man
shrugged his shoulders and extended his hands. At length the latter,
evidently unable to hold his own, changed his tone completely. He
appeared to be pleading and expressing regrets. Monsieur de la Voie
dismissed him, and returned to the quayside, where the _Olivette_
lay.

"I have found out for you who is the cause of your misfortune. That
man is the captain of the tug drawing the barges, and the rearmost
barge broke her tow-rope and ran into your yacht."

"Then he is the careless blighter, monsieur," said Hepburn.

Raoul de la Voie shook his head.

"No, no," he remarked emphatically. "He asked for a new tow-rope two
weeks ago, and the owner neglected to supply him with one. So it is
the owner who is the careless blighter, _n'est-ce pas?_"

"I should think so, monsieur," agreed Alan. "Do you know who he is?"

De la Voie laughed.

"_Mais oui_," he replied. "_C'est moi_--I am the careless blighter."

Hepburn coloured up and said nothing. The Frenchman eyed him
curiously for some minutes, and then slapped the lad on the shoulder.

"There is no harm done," he exclaimed. "It is a joke. Let me explain.
I am the actual owner of the Chantier Declos, and these are my
barges. Therefore I am responsible for the damage done to your
_Olivette_, and I must needs make reparation. I have sent for my
foreman to come and make a report, and put the work in hand at once."

"Awfully sporting of you, monsieur," said Roche.

"It is a duty," declared Monsieur de la Voie.

Presently the foreman arrived, and at his suggestion the _Olivette_
was placed in a cradle and hauled up the slipway. Raoul de la Voie
received his subordinate's report and translated it for the benefit
of the crew.

"Your yacht will require a new stem-piece, breast-hook, and seven new
planks forward," he announced. "There will also be several seams to
require caulking, and, of course, painting and varnishing. My foreman
says he hopes to complete the repairs in a week or ten days."

The news was received with mixed feelings by the Sea Scouts. They
were delighted to know that the grim shadow of a very heavy bill had
vanished, since the genial Frenchman had willingly acknowledged his
liability. But a week or ten days! That meant a drastic curtailment
of the cruise. It would be impossible, in view of the delay, to carry
out the programme.

"We'll have to cut out the Paris trip, lads," said Mr. Armitage.

Poor old Tom Boldrigg looked very much down in the mouth. The
decision meant a lot to him. The opportunity of paying a visit to the
grave of his soldier son was now denied him.

"Paris?" echoed Raoul. "Why not? Is it absolutely necessary that you
proceed by water?"

"Yes, if we went at all," replied Mr. Armitage. "By living on board
we could manage the visit without much expense. Living at an hotel in
Paris is beyond our means. However, we are more fortunate than I
expected. We might have had to return home with empty pockets."

"But you cannot well live on board your yacht while the repairs are
in hand," said Monsieur de la Voie.

"I suppose that's so," agreed Mr. Armitage. "With planks out, and wet
paint about, life on board wouldn't be exactly comfortable. Perhaps
we might hire a fairly large tent and camp out somewhere away from
the town?"

"I think it could be arranged," replied Raoul. "Since I am greatly in
your debt for saving the life of my man Pierre, and for pulling me
out of the Seine, it would be a great pleasure to me if you would be
my guests. My home is at Tourville-la-Rivière, about ten kilometres
up the Seine. There I can provide a tent, and if the weather be
unpropitious there is plenty of room in the house."

The Scoutmaster gratefully accepted the invitation on behalf of the
lads and himself.

"And," continued his host, "there is no reason why you should not
visit Paris. Although I cannot well afford the time to go with you, I
can arrange for my car to take you to the city, and perhaps you might
like a tour of the battle-fields."

"Which ones, please, sir?" asked Tom Boldrigg eagerly.

"The Aisne and the Marne," replied Monsieur de la Voie. "Why do you
inquire so?"

"Because, sir," replied the old seaman, "I lost a lad on the Marne."

The demonstrative Frenchman grasped Tom's hand.

"And I lost my only brother," he said. "We were on the right of a
British division. Their dash was magnificent. Yes, I remember the
crossing of the Marne. It was there that I gained this and lost
that."

With a quick, almost apologetic gesture, he touched the ribbon of the
Legion d'Honneur and then his arm. For the first time the Sea Scouts
saw that he had an artificial hand.

"So now," he continued briskly, "all is practically arranged. If you
will collect what baggage you require, my car will be here at six
o'clock. Meanwhile, excuse me; there are certain business matters to
which I have to attend."

Punctually at the hour, Monsieur de la Voie arrived in a magnificent
touring-car. He had changed his saturated clothes, and was dressed in
a suit of British cut and material.

Behind the car came a workmanlike equipage--a Daimler with a
commercial body. Into the latter the Sea Scouts piled their kitbags
and other gear, Roche and Rayburn being told off to act as
baggage-guards.

"A low-down trick to do us out of a ride in a top-hole car," declared
Dick, laughing. It was an enjoyable journey, but the thing that
impressed the lads most was the fact that the traffic kept to the
right-hand side of the road. They had noticed this--the Continental
rule--before, but it was the first time that they had been in a
vehicle in France.

"If I had to ride a push-bike out here," declared Warkworth, "I'd
barge into everything, 'cause I'd simply have to keep to the left.
And don't the motors look weird with the left-hand drive?"

The journey was over only too soon, for in less than ten minutes from
the time the car left the shipyard, Monsieur Raoul pulled up outside
a large house standing in extensive grounds that sloped towards the
river.

"There is your tent," he said, pointing to a fairly spacious marquee
pitched on high ground about two hundred yards from the house. "I
telephoned to my steward to have it pitched at once. But first let us
have dinner."

Somewhat awed, the Sea Scouts filed into a big, gorgeously furnished
room, where they were introduced to Madame de la Voie and Madame
Ledoux, Raoul's _belle-mère_.

Dignified-looking men-servants handed round the various courses, the
nature of most of the dishes being utterly strange to the Sea Scouts.
But even their unfounded misgivings failed to blunt their keen
appetites. Stolidly, and almost in silence, they applied themselves
to the food, while Mr. Armitage chatted to his host and hostess.

When at length the Sea Scouts proceeded to their shore
sleeping-quarters, they found that there was a camp-bed provided for
each of the crew, and that their kit had been stacked ready for their
use.

"We've fallen on our feet," declared Woodleigh, as he turned in.

"You speak for yourself, young fellah-me-lad!" rejoined Roche. "It
isn't usual to fall on your feet when you sleep. This is the proper
way--on one's side."

Deftly Dick dived between the sheets; the camp-bed tilted sideways,
and the next instant Roche was lying on the grassy floor of the tent.

Shrieks of laughter arose from his companions, even Mr. Armitage
joining in the mirth at the expense of the discomfited exponent of
the art of "turning in". Without a word Roche picked up his blankets
and remade the bed, then, exercising great caution, he got in again.

"Someone must have capsized me," he soliloquized. "If it weren't for
the fact that we're not in our own quarters, I'd get my own back."

Ten minutes later most of the lads were asleep. Roche drowsily turned
over, when to his surprise the camp-bed again deposited its occupant
upon the ground.

This time all lights were out, and no one saw Dick's unpremeditated
tumble. Mystified, he groped for his bedding and once more turned in.

At seven the lads were aroused by the old sea-cry of, "Show a leg and
shine!" Already the sun was pouring down upon the dew-covered canvas.
In the woods near by the birds were singing blithely.

"Been digging yourself in, Dick?" asked Hepburn.

"No--why?" asked Roche.

Alan pointed to Dick's bed. The wooden trestles had sunk a good foot
into the ground. The mystery of Dick's double eviction was solved.
The camp-bed had been placed immediately above a mole's tunnel, and,
as the earth gave way, the bed had tilted sufficiently to deposit its
occupant upon the ground.

"I thought that you had had a hand in it," declared Roche. "But
come-back-all-I-said. Who's cook? Where's the galley?"

No one knew. The mess-traps had been brought ashore, but apparently
their host had made no provision for cooking breakfast.

"We're in France, remember," said Mr. Armitage, "and in France we
must to a certain extent do as France does. The first meal of the
day--_petit dejeuner_ it's called--is a very light repast--usually
coffee, roll, and butter."

"Oh, I say!" ejaculated the Tenderfoot ruefully. He had a typical
British appetite, and always went all-out for a good breakfast. "And
I'm so hungry."

The Sea Scouts washed and dressed with special care. Somehow they
felt that they must appear "extra smart" as the guests of Monsieur
Raoul. By eight o'clock the interior of the marquee was cleaned up
and the bedding aired and folded; but no signs of a galley-fire were
forthcoming. The lads were reconciling themselves to a cold meal of
bread and tinned beef when a man-servant appeared and announced:

"Ze breakfast: he is served in ze house, messieurs."

Monsieur de la Voie was not one who did things by halves, for when
the Sea Scouts trooped into the house they found their host awaiting
them and the table spread with an appetizing meal consisting of
coffee, new steaming rolls, fresh butter, eggs, and a large piece of
delicious ham.

Bidden to "tuck in", the lads obeyed with the greatest zest, to the
undisguised astonishment of the servants, to whom the sight of half a
dozen healthy young Britons devouring large quantities of food so
early in the day was a decidedly novel one.

"What is your programme for to-day?" inquired Monsieur Raoul. "As
matters stand, the position is this: you are my guests for ten days,
but I want you to have full liberty of action. You will, of course,
want to watch the progress of the repairs, and no doubt will want to
explore the surrounding country. I assure you it has its good points.
Then, again, there are the projected visits to Paris and to the
Marne. These will take at least three days. It is for you to say when
you will go."

Mr. Armitage warmly thanked his host.

"The weather seems settled," he added; "perhaps it would be advisable
to take advantage of it while it is fine. So if your chauffeur could
run us into Paris----?"

"Certainly," rejoined Monsieur de la Voie.



CHAPTER XIX

Homeward Bound


The crew of the _Olivette_ had a splendid time in Paris, but, since
they met with no adventures and had no scouting, their visit can be
lightly passed over.

They were two days in the French capital, and enjoyed every minute of
the time. Their programme was an ambitious one, carried out at high
pressure. So much so that the Sea Scouts were so excited and tired
upon their return to Tourville-la-Rivière that they were compelled
to "slack" for the whole of the following day.

Then came the long-looked-for tour of the battle-fields.

The day was warm and sultry, but the ride in the powerful car as it
rushed at high speed along the tree-bordered roads was simply
exhilarating.

Old Tom Boldrigg, rigged out in his shore-going kit, was tightly
grasping the bundle done up in the blue handkerchief that he had
brought on board at Keyhaven. Except on the occasion when the kit was
transferred from the _Olivette_ to Tourville-la-Rivière, no one had
set eyes on the bundle until now. It rather puzzled his companions,
and certainly aroused their curiosity; but Tom offered no solution to
the mystery, and the lads refrained from questioning him about it.

At Senlis traces of the Hunnish invaders were apparent, although much
had been done by the industrious inhabitants to rebuild their
shattered dwellings and efface the devastating traces of war. From
that town right on to Château-Thierry the countryside was fast
recovering from the effects of four and a half years' desolation.
Those of the shell-torn trees which had not been uprooted were hiding
their scars under new foliage. The gaunt expanse of crater-pitted
land was covered with ripening corn. Only in places was it possible
to follow the sinuous course of the trenches, while here and there a
system of dug-outs had been left practically intact as a reminder of
the period when that part of France was under the heel of the
Prussian invader.

It was a soul-stirring episode for the Sea Scouts. They were shown
the spot where the British engineers built bridges, under a terrific
fire, to enable the remnants of the Old Contemptibles to cross the
Marne and deal von Kluck's army corps a staggering blow. The line of
advance of General Gallieni's army, rushed up from Paris in a motley
collection of taxi-cabs in the nick of time to stem the Prussian
advance upon the capital, was pointed out to them.

Then to the huge cemetery, where thousands of British lads are laid
to rest, in French soil that is British by sentiment. Here the
_Olivette's_ party was met by a courteous official, who, in answer to
old Boldrigg's inquiry, led the way to a remote portion of the vast
burial-ground.

"Perhaps, Mr. Boldrigg," suggested the Scoutmaster, "you would like
us to leave you for a few minutes."

"No, no, sir," replied the old man. "What I'm going to do isn't
anything to be ashamed of."

He was visibly affected, although he tried to conceal his emotion. He
had completed a pilgrimage that had been the wish of his declining
years, and which might never have been accomplished but for the
assistance of the Sea Scouts.

Standing bareheaded, the lads saw their old friend slowly untie the
blue handkerchief from the bundle. Then he produced a small plant,
its roots carefully protected with damp moss and straw.

"Straight from the garden at home," he said. "An' my boy was that
fond of flowers."

"It will be watered carefully," promised the cemetery official.

"Thank you, sir," replied old Boldrigg gratefully, and, his mission
accomplished, he turned slowly away.

  * * * * *

On the ninth day of her compulsory detention at Rouen the _Olivette_
renewed her acquaintance with her natural element.

The work of repair had been performed smartly and well, and the bows
were as sound as ever. She had been given a complete coat of paint
that glistened in the bright sunshine.

"Now, lads," began Mr. Armitage, when the crew had re-embarked and
stowed away their gear, "we have to go into matters pretty closely.
By next Saturday Stratton will have to be home if he's to keep that
appointment with the Steamship Company on Monday week. We have five
clear days to spare. What is to be the programme?"

"Take advantage of the weather while it is fine, sir, and return by
easy stages."

"Quite a good idea," concurred Mr. Armitage. "It often happens that,
when a cruise has to be completed by a certain time, a homeward start
is deferred until the last possible moment. Then the weather may be
boisterous, and the crew are 'in the soup'. Either they have to
overstay their time, or else they've got to make a dash for it, at
great inconvenience and possible risk."

"After all, sir," remarked Peter, "although we haven't carried out
our programme exactly as we planned, it has been a rattling good
holiday."

"And it's not over yet," added Hepburn.

At two in the afternoon the _Olivette_ got under way. On the
coach-roof over the engine-room she carried a new "twelve-foot"
dinghy--a gift from Monsieur Raoul to replace the one they had lost
in collision with the barge.

Their host came on board to wish them _bon voyage_, and, at the Sea
Scouts' invitation, he agreed to go as a passenger as far as
Caudebec.

"I am hoping," he said, "to raise a troop of Sea Scouts at Rouen. The
only difficulty that presents itself is the time it occupies to carry
out the work properly. I quite understand that an inefficient troop,
run by a Scoutmaster who does not, or cannot, devote sufficient time,
is worse than useless. However, I am serious about it, and if the
scheme matures, then some day you might see a French yacht, manned by
French Sea Scouts, sailing into your Keyhaven."

"If they do, sir," said Peter, "they'll be sure to meet with a hearty
welcome, although, I'm afraid, I won't be there to join in," he added
regretfully.

With the strong current, the _Olivette_ made a quick run down to
Caudebec, anchoring under the lee of the Dos d'Ane before sunset. It
was now close upon the neap tides, and the bore was not so much in
evidence.

"We've been done out of a little excitement," was Hepburn's comment
after the _Olivette_ had encountered the comparatively mild tidal
wave.

"You speak for yourself, old thing," rejoined Roche. "I've still a
lump on my forehead where I bashed my head against the deck-beam as
the old boat stood on her head. In my opinion, bores are a nuisance,
whether they are of the human variety or otherwise."

Monsieur Raoul de la Voie took his departure at Caudebec. He bade the
Sea Scouts farewell and _bon voyage_, and the lads heartily thanked
him for his kindness and hospitality.

"He's a proper sport," commented Roche.

"There was a time when I thought all Frenchmen wore stove-pipe hats,
pointed moustachios, and tufts of hair on their chins. Going abroad
widens one's outlook," he added sapiently.

Two days were spent at Caudebec. There was much to be done to prepare
the _Olivette_ for her homeward voyage. Her fuel-tanks had to be
replenished, her oil-supply renewed, provisions and fresh water to be
shipped on board, and various formalities to be carried out with the
port authorities at Havre.

"We start to-morrow, lads," announced Mr. Armitage. "The fine weather
is holding, but there are indications of a break-up in the course of
the next forty-eight hours. We can't afford to be held up here."

"At what hour, sir?" asked Peter.

"Seven in the morning at high-water," replied the Scoutmaster. "With
luck, we ought to be inside the Wight before sunset."

Promptly to the minute on the following morning the anchor was
weighed, and the motor began its rhythmic purr. To save time, the
Tancarville Canal route was to be cut out in favour of the passage of
the estuary of the Seine, and, in accordance with the port
regulations, a pilot had to be employed.

The pilot came on board just before seven o'clock. He was a short,
bow-legged, elderly man, differing very little in appearance from the
seafaring fraternity on the other side of the Channel, except that
his knowledge of English was rather meagre.

Peter Stratton was at the helm, the pilot standing beside him.

All went well for the first ten minutes or so, then a brigantine in
tow of a tug appeared in sight round a bend abreast of the village of
Villequier.

"_Tribord tout!_" ordered the pilot.

Peter, considerably astonished to receive the order, for he was aware
that "tribord" was the equivalent for "starboard", promptly
starboarded his helm.

The little Frenchman danced with excitement.

"_Tribord tout!_" he reiterated.

The Patrol Leader gave the boat still more starboard helm. At that
moment the tug blew a single blast with her steam whistle.

The pilot, abandoning his post, ran on deck gesticulating frantically
at the tug. Peter, left to his own devices, and knowing that if he
attempted to port helm now there would almost inevitably be a
disastrous collision, kept her helm hard over until the _Olivette_
had starboarded sixteen points and her bows were pointing in exactly
the opposite direction to her former course.

Then he ordered the motor to stop, and awaited the pilot's return.

"P'raps he's got a pal on the tug and wants a yarn," he soliloquized.
"Wonder what he is doing now?"

As a matter of fact the Frenchman, with tears in his eyes, was
complaining to Mr. Armitage of the wilful disobedience of the
youthful helmsman.

"I tell him keep to dis side," he declared, "and he vit intent
deliberate 'e put ze ship across de bow of ze tug so. I protest,
Monsieur; I chuck in ze 'and so."

The pilot folded his arms, stood with his feet well apart, and gazed
stolidly ahead. It was his pose of lofty detachment.

Mr. Armitage made his way to the wheelhouse, where Peter, unconscious
of the enormity of his offence, was carrying on quite unconcernedly.
Fortunately the _Olivette_ was still a long way from the dangerous
sandbank-encumbered estuary, and the navigation presented no
difficulty.

"What's the row you've had with the pilot, Peter?" inquired Mr.
Armitage.

"Row, sir? I didn't have a row. He told me to starboard. I expected
him to tell me to port helm, but I carried out his orders. Then he
began roaring like a lunatic. If I had hesitated and ported helm,
there would have been a most awful smash."

"There has been a mistake," admitted the Scoutmaster, "and I'm to
blame as much as anyone. I ought to have warned you '_tribord_' is
the French for 'starboard' and '_bâbord_' for port, but that's not
enough. When a Frenchman orders '_tribord_' he means that the boat's
bows are to go to starboard and not the helm. He ought to have made
allowances, for it's pretty certain that this is not the first
British vessel he's piloted. I'll get Hepburn to take the wheel for a
spell, and we'll explain to our worthy pilot."

The Frenchman was easily mollified after explanations had been given.
With a bow he declared that "ze affaire" was over and forgotten, but
during the rest of the voyage down the estuary he took good care to
say, "Port ze helm dis vay," or, "Turn ze ship's 'ead to ze left."

In four hours, keeping at full speed, and with a tide under her, the
_Olivette_ was clear of the estuary and pitching to the short, sharp
seas off the Grand Rade of Havre. Here the pilot was dropped, a boat
from the pilot cutter coming alongside to take him off.

"Do not make ze tarry, monsieur," he said to Mr. Armitage. "Ze
weather it looks not nice. By dark, it blow ver' 'ard."

"Let's hope he's wrong for once," thought the Scoutmaster. "All the
same, the glass is falling, so the sooner we get into sheltered water
the better."

He glanced to wind'ard. The sky was of a deep blue, without a cloud
being visible. The breeze blew strongly from the south'ard. It was a
favourable wind for Old England's shores.

He waved his hand in acknowledgment of the pilot's warning.

"Let her rip, Flemming," he ordered. "Full speed ahead."

It was a far different passage from the _Olivette's_ previous
crossing. Even when clear of the land, the waves were short and steep
as the weather-going tide met the breeze obliquely. In spite of the
extra ballast, the boat rolled and pitched until her foredeck was
swept by the white-crested waves, and water poured at intervals over
her quarter. But, protected by the high coaming surrounding the well,
the crew kept fairly comfortable. They had to wear oilskins to keep
themselves dry, for the spindrift was flying inboard. Every movable
article, both on deck and below, had to be lashed down, and it was
soon apparent that, until they were in smoother water, the Sea Scouts
would have to go without hot meals.

About four o'clock the wind dropped considerably. The _Olivette_ was
now out of sight of land, and, with the exception of an old
wind-jammer running full-and-by up-Channel, not another vessel was in
sight.

"Make some tea while you have a chance, Woodleigh," suggested Mr.
Armitage. "This lull is only temporary, I fancy."

To the west'ard inky-coloured clouds were appearing above the
horizon. The southerly breeze was on the point of veering to the
west'ard or sou'west'ard, and when it came it would, in all
probability, come with considerable force.

"We may get in before it comes on hard," soliloquized the
Scoutmaster. "It's no joke being caught out; but we'll have to make
the best of it."

After a hastily snatched meal, all the crew, except Roche and
Hepburn, turned in to get a few minutes' sleep, Mr. Armitage giving
strict injunctions to report to him the moment the wind piped up
again.

"And none of your Brightlingsea stunts, Alan," he added, referring to
an occasion when Hepburn took the _Olivette_ into port on his own
initiative. "That time you managed splendidly, but another attempt
mightn't end quite so well. If the breeze doesn't pipe up soon, turn
me out directly you sight land. You ought to see the high ground
behind Ventnor on your port bow."

The "watch below" had quite two hours' rest before Alan noticed a
squall bearing down. At the same time he fancied that he saw land
ahead in the clearing of the mirk that preceded the rain.

"All hands on deck," he shouted to his companions in the forepeak.
"One of you run aft and warn Mr. Armitage."

The Scoutmaster did not wait to be called. Hearing the commotion
for'ard, he left his cabin and glanced to wind'ard.

"We're in for it," he mused.

Just then, Flemming, who was due to relieve Roche in the motor-room,
came up with the disconcerting news that there was a choke in the
carburetter, and could they stop the engine while he and Roche
remedied the defect?

"Right-o," agreed Mr. Armitage. "Carry on and get it done as sharp as
you can. How long will it take, do you think?"

"'Bout ten minutes, sir," replied the lad.

Five minutes later the squall struck the _Olivette_ heavily. Being
without way, and unable to answer to her helm, the staunch little
craft lay broadside on in the trough of the rapidly rising sea.



CHAPTER XX

Home Waters Again


The _Olivette_, although she had a light mast stepped in a tabernacle
for'ard, did not carry sail, relying solely upon her excellent
engine. That the motor had stopped was in no way due to the design.
The best engine on the market will "konk out", if foreign matter
finds its way into the fuel-tank and thence through the feed-pipe to
the carburetter.

Bracing themselves with their backs up against the tool-locker and
their feet hard up against the engine-bearers, Roche and Flemming
toiled desperately to effect a clearance in record time. In their
haste they neglected ordinary precaution, and in a sudden lurch of
the vessel the jet of the carburetter rolled into the bilges.

Mr. Armitage, going below to see how things were progressing, found
the two engineers had taken up several of the floor-boards and were
groping in a foot of oily bilge-water to recover the small but highly
necessary article.

"Sorry, sir, but she lurched," said Eric apologetically. "We'll find
the jet in half a tick."

A cascade of water pouring into the open well warned the Scoutmaster
that prompt measures must be taken quickly if the _Olivette_ were to
escape being swamped as she lay broadside on.

Assisted by Stratton, who volunteered for the hazardous task, Mr.
Armitage and the Patrol Leader crawled along the slippery, heaving
deck and laid out the sea-anchor.

The _Olivette_, drifting rapidly to leeward, snubbed at the rope
attached to the canvas bag. There was a sharp twang. The rope,
apparently sound, had parted like packthread, and the sea-anchor was
irrecoverably lost.

"We'll have to rig up another, Peter," shouted Mr. Armitage. "A stout
spar, a hammock, and a piece of ballast will do the trick. Be sharp.
She won't stand many of these breakers."

A hissing, white-crested wave, pouring completely over the boat,
confirmed the Scoutmaster's words. Below, the Sea Scouts were plying
the semi-rotary pump, but their strenuous efforts failed to cope with
the steady inrush of water. Already there was a foot or more swirling
over the engine-room floor, to the detriment of the task of clearing
the choked carburetter.

As he went below to look out the materials for the improvised
sea-anchor, Mr. Armitage was confronted by old Tom Boldrigg.

"Try ile, sir," suggested the ex-sailor. "Ile's an excellent thing
for quietin' the waves. I'll see to that, sir, if you wish----"

"Carry on, please," replied Mr. Armitage. "We're rigging up a
temporary sea-anchor."

Without another word Boldrigg went about his task. His canvas kit-bag
served the purpose, and he sacrificed it to the common weal, although
it had been his companion for years of service afloat.

Filling the water-tight bag with heavy lubricating oil, Tom secured
the mouth tightly and bent a stout line to it. Then with the
marlinespike of his knife he pricked half a dozen holes in the
canvas.

"Belay, there, lads!" he shouted, handing the rope to some of the Sea
Scouts and heaving the bag over the side to windward.

Although the bag offered very little resistance, the fact that the
_Olivette_ was drifting rapidly to lee'ard enabled the canvas sack to
run out to the full extent of the rope. The oil leaking through the
small holes soon began to take effect. A triangular patch of
comparatively smooth oil-covered water, with its apex at the sack and
its base far to lee'ard of the boat, had the almost instantaneous
result of keeping down the crested waves. The _Olivette_, rolling
still, was no longer in peril, for not a cupful of spray came
inboard.

"How long will that last?" inquired Mr. Armitage.

"Best part of an hour, sir," replied the old man. "'Sides, we can
easily pull the sack aboard again and fill up with ile."

But in less than twenty minutes the engine was running again with her
flywheel well clear of the bilge-water. The Sea Scouts at the pump
had seen to that.

Slowly the _Olivette_ was brought round head to wind. With strenuous
efforts the canvas bag was hauled inboard, and the order given for
full speed ahead.

Buffeted by the waves, with spray flying in solid showers twenty feet
above the wheelhouse, the little ship resumed her dash for home.

Another lift in the rain-laden mirk showed the Isle of Wight now two
points on the port bow. Mr. Armitage hailed the sight with
whole-hearted satisfaction. He was running for the eastern side of
the island in order to get under the lee of the land. Although it was
the longer course, it was far preferable to having the dangerous
stretch of coast between St. Catherine's and The Needles under his
lee.

Nearer and nearer came Old England's shores. Every revolution of the
propeller was decreasing the distance between the _Olivette_ and
sheltered waters.

At eight o'clock in the evening, Mr. Armitage went into the
wheel-house, where Woodleigh and Warkworth were doing a double trick
at the helm, for it required more than one strong lad to master the
kicking wheel.

"I'll take on for a spell," he said. The lads regarded their
Scoutmaster curiously. Knowing the previous arrangement that Mr.
Armitage was not to take any active part in the navigation of the
ship, his decision rather puzzled them.

"We're quite all right, sir," protested Woodleigh.

"I'm stiff with doing nothing," rejoined Mr. Armitage. "A tussle with
the wheel will do me good."

The youthful quartermasters stood aside, and the Scoutmaster "took
on". He knew that, before the _Olivette_ gained the sheltered waters
of Spithead, she would have to negotiate the shallow shoals of the
eastern end of the Wight, where an error of judgment would result in
disaster. He knew the approaches to Spithead by heart. There was no
occasion for him to refer to a chart.

An hour later the _Olivette_ passed the huge concrete tower on the
Nab shoal. With a strong tide under her, she simply romped past the
Warner Lightship, and turned in the direction of the yellow-and-black
chequered Horse Sand Fort.

"Up steaming-lights!" ordered the Scoutmaster as the sun sank, a pale
yellow orb in an indigo-coloured sky. "Cooks to the galley! We're in
sheltered water now."

The masthead, port, and starboard lamps were lighted and displayed.
Down below, the Scouts not on duty were preparing for a belated meal.
Spithead and the Solent were familiar sights to them. In the
well-lighted cabin they sat, ate, and yarned, while Mr. Armitage and
Roche stuck to their respective tasks.

Presently Peter came on deck.

"I'll take on now, sir," he reported. "You must be hungry.... Why,
we're past Cowes--we're nearly home!"

"Yes," replied Mr. Armitage. "There's Hurst Light right ahead. Take
her, Peter. I'll follow your excellent advice and get something to
eat. There won't be enough water for us over the bar, so we'll have
to put into Lymington for the night. Besides, we have to obtain our
clearance from the Customs."

Without incident the _Olivette_ made Lymington River and brought up
on a vacant pair of moorings. Her crew slept like logs until they
were nearly thrown from their bunks by the wash of the steamship
plying between Lymington and Yarmouth.

It was blowing very hard from the west'ard--half a gale, in fact.
Had the _Olivette_ been caught out in mid-Channel she would have had
a perilous time. She had won through by a few hours.

"We've had a jolly time," declared Hepburn, surveying the scene, "but
give me this side of the Channel any old day of the week. Hello, it's
close on eight! I'll have to hoist the ensign."

Alan was making his way aft, when Peter stopped him.

"Here, you blighter!" exclaimed the Patrol Leader. "What are you up
to?"

Hepburn explained.

"Not the ensign-staff this time," protested Peter.

"Why not?" demanded the mystified Alan.

"'Cause, you would-be smuggler," replied Stratton, "we've 'come
foreign'. Ensign at the masthead, please. That's the recognized
rule."

The Sea Scouts had not finished breakfast when a boat came alongside
with the representative of His Majesty's Excise and Customs.

The official smiled when he boarded the _Olivette_. He knew her and
her crew well, but duty is duty all the world over.

"Anything to declare?" he inquired. "Tobacco, tea, spirits, eau de
Cologne, lace, and what not?"

"I have spirits," announced the irrepressible Hepburn. "High
spirits--so I'm told."

"They are not liable to duty," rejoined the Exciseman. "Well, I may
as well have a look round."

He was a man who did his work thoroughly. The _Olivette_ was searched
from stem to stern. Every locker was examined, the floor boards
lifted, and even the skirting tapped in case there might be
contraband hidden between the timbers.

"Like a game of hunt the slipper," remarked Roche.

"Aye," replied the man, "and it's my game to hunt slippery ones. I've
caught a few in my time, but they weren't Sea Scouts. I'll give you
your clearance papers, Mr. Armitage."

The interrupted breakfast dispatched, and the plates and cups washed
up and stowed, the _Olivette_ resumed her homeward run.

"I don't know about Alan's high spirits," remarked Peter. "Mine are
rather low. It's my last run in the old _Olivette_, I'm afraid."

"You never know your luck," said Roche. "And you're going abroad
again, you lucky blighter. I hope I'll make as good a Patrol Leader
as you, old man."

"Without a doubt of it, you will," declared Peter earnestly.
"Starboard.... at that.... Stand by for'ard and pick up the buoy....
I say, there's Bruin."

Sure enough Peter's pet and the _Olivette's_ mascot was sitting on
the edge of the quay.

The moment the _Olivette_ picked up her moorings, Bruin took to the
water and swam off. Willing hands hauled the dog on board, where he
inconsiderately showed his delight by shaking his shaggy coat and
liberally besprinkling the crew.

"Just to remind us," observed Peter, wiping the moisture from his
face--"just to remind us that we are in home waters again."



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN
_By Blackie & Son, Limited, Glasgow_



  [Transcriber's Notes:

    This book contains a number of misprints.
    The following misprints have been corrected:

      [exclamed Dick Roche] ->
         [exclaimed Dick Roche]

      [the Sea Scouts' calcucations] ->
         [the Sea Scouts' calculations]

      [Warborrow Bay] ->
         [Worbarrow Bay]

      [a serious of semicircles] ->
         [a series of semicircles]

      [Cest moi] ->
         [C'est moi]

      [The gaunt exexpanse] ->
         [The gaunt expanse]

      [the astern end of] ->
         [the eastern end of]

    In chapter I there is a [Alan Hepworth] mentioned
    (only once). This should probably be [Alan Hepburn],
    but it has not been corrected.

    In chapter IV [Warborrow Bay] is mentioned (once) but the
    probable correct notation, [Worbarrow Bay], isn't
    mentioned anywhere in this book. The first notation
    doesn't seem to exist, the latter does. This, and the fact
    that Mr. Westerman mentions [Lulworth Cove] in connection
    with it, which lies very close to [Worbarrow Bay], makes
    it all the more likely that [Worbarrow Bay] is the correct
    notation.

    Two illustrations were missing in the paper version
    used for the production of this digitised text. These were:
    'THE HIGH-PRESSURE JET CAUGHT THE TENDERFOOT FULL IN
    THE FACE' and 'THE DERELICT'. They are marked with
    "(missing from book)" in the Illustrations-list and
    on the spot where the image should have been.

    A few cases of punctuation errors were corrected, but are
    not mentioned here.
  ]





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