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

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Transcriber’s Notes:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Additional Transcriber’s Notes are at the end.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Ned shot upward and grabbed the bridle of the flying
beast.--_Page_ 10.]



THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS’ WORLD CRUISE


  BY CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON

  AUTHOR Of “THE BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES,” “THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON
  BATTLE PRACTICE,” “THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A DESTROYER,” “THE
  DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON A SUBMARINE,” “THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON AERO
  SERVICE,” ETC.

  _WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHARLES L. WRENN_

  NEW YORK
  HURST & COMPANY
  PUBLISHERS

       *       *       *       *       *

  Copyright, 1913 BY HURST & COMPANY



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                PAGE

       I. AT THE GOLDEN GATE                5

      II. AN IMPORTANT DUTY                22

     III. IN CHINATOWN                     31

      IV. NED “DELIVERS THE GOODS”         39

       V. “THE FAIR WIND”                  50

      VI. A TIGHT PLACE                    59

     VII. AN ILL WIND FOR SCHMIDT          67

    VIII. “MY ADDRESS IS THE ‘MANHATTAN’”  78

      IX. ANCHORS A’TRIP                   87

       X. ACROSS THE PACIFIC               95

      XI. IN THE GRIP OF THE STORM        107

     XII. NED’S TERRIBLE PLIGHT           115

    XIII. “FIRE!”                         128

     XIV. FIGHTING THE FLAMES AT SEA      136

      XV. A MIRACULOUS ESCAPE             149

     XVI. A STRANGE CRAFT, INDEED         157

    XVII. SOLITARY CONFINEMENT            167

   XVIII. IN GOLDEN SEAS                  175

     XIX. BLUE LIGHTNING ASHORE           186

      XX. BOUND FOR THE VOLCANO           195

     XXI. THE MOUTH OF FIRE               203

    XXII. UNDER ARREST                    216

   XXIII. HERC LUNCHES WITH AN IDOL       232

    XXIV. THE CRUISE RESUMED              240

     XXV. JACK ASHORE                     250

    XXVI. OFF FOR THE PYRAMIDS            258

   XXVII. LOST IN THE KINGS’ TOMBS        267

  XXVIII. HOMEWARD BOUND                  279

       *       *       *       *       *

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS’ WORLD CRUISE



CHAPTER I. AT THE GOLDEN GATE.


“This is Golden Gate Park, Herc.”

“Huh,” responded the red-headed lad, whom we know as Herc Taylor,
gazing about him, “where are the Golden Gates?”

“Don’t be any thicker than you _have_ to,” laughed Ned Strong. “The
Golden Gate is the poetical Western name for the narrow entrance to
San Francisco harbor, through which we passed on the _Manhattan_ two
days ago. It was so called on account of the Argonauts of Forty-nine
who came sailing into it in the old days expecting to find fortunes in
the diggings. This park is ’Frisco’s show place, and it is a beautiful
spot.”

“Well, so far they’ve done nothing but dig fortunes out of us,”
complained Herc; “four dollars and ten cents for that breakfast at the
St. Francis Hotel was as steep as the hill it stands on.”

“That is what two of Uncle Sam’s sailormen get for mingling with the
swells, Herc.”

“Don’t sailors always mingle with the swells?” inquired Herc.

“Say, you deserve to be keel-hauled for springing anything like
that,” chuckled Ned. “But seriously, Herc, the days of the old-time
sailor, who sought his pleasures in low groggeries and such places,
have vanished. At every place we’ve stopped since the fleet left
Norfolk, haven’t the men of the squadron behaved themselves like
men-o’-war’s-men and gentlemen, instead of the popular idea of a sailor
ashore?” Warming to his subject the young Dreadnought Boy continued:
“The navy of to-day is made up of ambitious, keen-witted young fellows.
Clever, clean and enthusiastic----”

“Thank you,” spoke Herc, removing his service cap, for both boys wore
their uniforms, of which they were justly proud, “I hope you include me
in that catalogue?”

“Not if you make the breaks you did at the St. Francis this morning,”
rejoined Ned. “I thought those folks at the next table would have died
laughing at you.”

“What for I’d like to know?” demanded Herc belligerently, coloring up
as red as his own hair.

“Why, for one thing, when the waiter asked you if you wanted to be
served ‘_a la carte_,’ you said, ‘No, you’d rather have it on a plate’;
and then when the finger bowls came on, you squeezed your bit of lemon
into the water and then hollered for sugar for the lemonade, and----”

Herc doubled up his fists furiously.

“If you weren’t my chum and side partner, Ned Strong, I’d--I’d----”

But what Herc would have done was destined never to be known, for
at that instant there came a thunder of hoofs from far down the
magnificent, sweeping drive, on the edge of which they were standing,
and high above the noise made by the distant galloping horses rose a
woman’s shrill scream.

The sudden interruption to the Dreadnought Boys’ conversation had come
from beyond a curve in the drive, where trees and flowering shrubs shut
out from view its continuation.

“Look! Ned, look!” cried Herc suddenly, gripping his companion’s arm
excitedly.

Ned’s heart gave a bound as around the curve there suddenly swept into
view a stirring but alarming picture. On the back of a large, spirited
chestnut horse, which was clearly beyond control, was seated a young
woman whose white face and terrified cries indicated plainly that her
mount was running away. Behind her, whirling in their upraised hands
lassos of plaited rawhide, like those used by cowboys, came two
mounted park policemen. But their horses, fast animals though they
were, could not gain sufficiently on the runaway to enable them to
throw their ropes and check his career.

Aroused by the screams of the young woman and the shouts of the
policemen, people came running from all directions. Their cries only
served, as did those of the pursuing officers, further to alarm the
runaway. With glaring eyes and distended nostrils it thundered on
with its rider clinging desperately to her saddle, from which she was
threatened with being thrown any minute.

A low railing separated the drive from the pathway on which the boys
stood, but Ned was over it in a bound. Before Herc realized what
his chum and shipmate meant to do, Ned was standing in the middle
of the drive crouched as if making ready for a supreme effort. The
runaway, oblivious to all but its wild terror, came down on him like a
whirlwind. But Ned, who had been brought up on a farm and knew no fear
of horses, awaited its coming without betraying a sign of agitation.

In another second it was upon him. Concentrating every ounce of energy
he possessed on the daring act he contemplated, Ned shot upward and
grabbed for the bridle of the flying beast.

“He’ll be killed!” shouted the crowd excitedly.

Herc said nothing, but with white face, on which his freckles stood out
like sun-spots, leaned forward open-mouthed as his chum made his daring
tackle.

“He’s got him! Oh, good boy, Ned! Hooray!” cried Herc, capering about
as Ned’s hands closed on the horse’s bridle.

But Herc’s rejoicing was rather premature. The next instant it was
changed to a groan of dismay as the horse, brought to a sudden stop,
reared straight up, beating the air with its forefeet, while Ned,
hanging on like a cockle burr to the bridle, was swung pendulum-wise
through the air.

Up reared the big chestnut till it appeared as if it must fall over
backward, crushing its rider and injuring Ned. As it was, it was a
marvel how he escaped the threshing hoofs of the maddened animal. Herc,
when he had recovered from the shock of his first amazement, was over
the low fence in a jump and at Ned’s side.

Just as he reached it the horse changed its tactics, and coming down
on all four feet once more commenced bucking furiously. The girl stuck
bravely to her seat but it was a test that would have tried the most
skillful rider.

“Grab his neck, Herc, and try to hold his head down!” panted Ned,
clinging fast to the bridle.

Herc made a spring and closed his muscular arms around the big
chestnut’s neck, but he might as well have tried to harness a tornado.
He was flung clear by a wild plunge of the brute, and the next
instant it was dashing off with Ned still clinging to the bridle.
The boy was lifted clean off his feet by the sudden rush, and, with
his legs trailing out behind him like the tail of a kite, the young
man-o’-war’s-man was carried along with the runaway.

Herc sprawled on the ground for a minute and then, feeling dizzy and
shaken, regained his feet. But by that time the rattle of the runaway’s
hoofs and those of his pursuers had almost died out in the distance.
The red-headed lad set off on foot, running with all his might in the
direction they had vanished.

The drive ended a little distance farther on and came out on a street
mainly occupied by hotels, candy stores and itinerant vendors of
peanuts and pop-corn. Straight for a small assemblage of push carts
the big chestnut dashed. The frightened peddlers rushed off in all
directions while the runaway gathered itself for a leap, and, like a
steeplechaser, shot into the air and cleared the carts. But in landing
on the opposite side it was not so successful. Its hind hoofs caught
on the edge of the farthest cart and it came down on its knees with a
heavy crash. This gave Ned, who was half stunned and bruised all over
but still game and gritty, the opportunity he wanted. With a quick
twist he compressed the curb and the snaffle together and had the horse
under control. It struggled to regain its liberty, but finding that
its efforts to get free only resulted in a fresh tightening of the
curb-chain, it finally became docile.

By this time several bystanders had come running up, and some of them
volunteered to hold the horse’s head while Ned helped the young woman
off the saddle. But as he extended his arms to aid her in dismounting,
she turned white and collapsed in a faint into the strong grip of the
Dreadnought Boy.

Just then the mounted police, followed by a big crowd, came up, and
behind them, panting and streaming with perspiration, came Herc.

“Ned! oh, Ned!” he was bawling. “Are you hurt?”

“Be quiet, you lubber!” cried Ned angrily, “can’t you see the young
lady has fainted? Give me a hand to get her into one of those hotels,
will you?” he asked, addressing the officers.

“Sure and we will, my bucko,” exclaimed one of them. “That was the
nerviest thing I ever seen done, and I used to work on a cattle ranch
before I went on the cops.”

“Youngster, you’re all right and a credit to the uniform you wear,”
chimed in the other as he dismounted.

“Never mind that,” Ned hastened to say, as the crowd began to show
symptoms of wanting to join in all this well-earned praise, “this young
lady needs immediate attention.”

“You can bring her right in here. My living rooms are in the rear
of the store,” said a motherly-looking woman who had come out of a
soda-water store near by.

“Sure, that’s the best way, Mrs. Jones,” agreed one of the policemen.
“Clear the way there, will you?” he added to the crowd, as the
unconscious form of the young girl was carried into the store and laid
on a lounge in the rear. There she was left to the care of Mrs. Jones
and the people turned their attention to the boys.

“Well, that’s over. Come on, Herc, let’s get out of this,” said Ned
hastily. “I feel like a fool.”

For a modest lad like Ned it was indeed an ordeal to be called openly
“a hero” and “the nerviest lad in ’Frisco,” and half a hundred other
adulatory names. The compliments came from the hearts of enthusiastic
witnesses of his nervy rescue, but they only embarrassed the
Dreadnought Boy and he was anxious to get away.

“She’ll be all right in a few minutes. Only a faint, but if it hadn’t
been for you it might have been something worse,” said one of the
policemen, coming out of the store where the girl had been carried;
“and now you’ll need some fixing up yourself, young fellow. You look
like you’d been through a cyclone.”

In truth, Ned did present a disreputable appearance. His uniform was
torn, his face was bruised and scratched, and his cap was missing.

“Oh, I’m all right,” he replied hastily. “There’s a street car. Come
on, Herc, we’ll catch it and get fixed up down town.”

“Hey!” shouted the policeman as the two boys dashed off to catch the
already moving car, “Hey, young feller, come back and gimme yer name
and address!”

But Ned and Herc paid no attention to his cries. They caught the back
platform rail of the cable vehicle and swung themselves nimbly on.

“Just time to fix up and get down to the landing,” said Ned, consulting
his watch, which had luckily escaped breaking in the recent adventure
he had encountered, “we don’t want to overstay our leave, Herc.”

“Uh-huh,” grudgingly assented the red-headed lad, “but just the same
’Frisco suits me better than any place we’ve struck so far on this
round-the-world cruise, and I’d like to look around a bit more.”

The Dreadnought Boys, who had just met such a thrilling experience
in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco’s beauty spot, were, as our old
readers know, the same two lads, who, as told in “The Dreadnought
Boys on Battle Practice,” enlisted in Uncle Sam’s navy after tiring
of a life of farm work under unjust conditions. They were cousins and
life-long chums. In the volume referred to, the first of this series,
we saw how quickly the boys, by earnest attention to duty and a fixed
determination to make their mark in their chosen profession, attracted
the attention of their superior officers. True, they had some hard
knocks, chiefly caused by a bully, to whom Ned in a fair, stand-up
fight taught a needed lesson. A flareback in one of the big-gun turrets
gave them an opportunity to display the mettle they were made of, and
right well did they take advantage of it. But ashore at Guantanamo, as
well as on the ship, their enemies caused them considerable trouble
and they were put to the test in many ways.

Wearing proudly medals of honor, and having achieved raises in rank, we
found them next, in the second volume of this series, “The Dreadnought
Boys Aboard a Destroyer,” participating in stirring scenes in South
America, whither the torpedo boat destroyer _Beale_ had been sent on
a special mission. Dangers real and imminent threatened the boys,
and they found themselves involved in a desperate battle between the
government and revolutionaries. Their gunnery skill and knowledge of
tactics won the day for the side that was in the right, and they earned
fresh laurels following an exciting experience in a sea-fight.

In “The Dreadnought Boys on a Submarine,” the boys engaged in service
on yet another type of Uncle Sam’s fighting ships. Under the water and
on the surface they encountered experiences that form one of the most
exciting narratives of this series. The submarine affords a peculiar
field of interest, and the mystery in which the lads found themselves
involved in no way detracts from the thrill and swing of action in this
story.

Still forging upward in their chosen profession the lads were detailed
next to a squad which, more than any other, calls for nerve, coolness
and skill, combined with technical knowledge. In “The Dreadnought Boys
on Aero Service,” we followed the two erstwhile farm boys into a new
element. In navy aeroplanes they demonstrated the value of air-craft
as an auxiliary to the fleet. Ned was especially successful in showing
what could be done aloft. It will be readily remembered, too, that
many difficulties, as well as triumphs, attended the boys’ aerial
experiences, but they “made good,” like sterling American lads, and
conquered every obstacle by using brains and brawn.

And now the boys were on their first long cruise. Back again on the
huge, drab Dreadnought _Manhattan_, where they made their début into
naval life, they formed part of the crew of the flag-ship of the
sixteen battleships sent around the world to give other nations an
impressive demonstration of Uncle Sam’s great sea-power. The passage
down the eastern coast of South America and around the Horn had been
made, the great fighting sea-dogs exciting the most intense interest
and enthusiasm everywhere. Two days before, the massive, formidable
squadron had steamed in column through the Golden Gate in perfect
condition, and dropped anchor in San Francisco’s historic, land-locked
harbor.

It was due to sail ere long across the broad Pacific for Hawaii and
the “purple east,” returning to America by way of the Suez Canal and
the Mediterranean. Small wonder that the men of the fleet were all on
tip-toe with excitement over what lay ahead of them on this wonderful
voyage. None were more enthusiastic over the prospect of visiting
unknown waters than were Ned Strong and Herc Taylor. They looked for
adventures afloat and ashore, but those they were destined to encounter
surpassed even their fondest imaginings.



CHAPTER II. AN IMPORTANT DUTY.


“Well, orderly, what is it?”

Captain Dunham, commander of the _Manhattan_, looked up from his desk
in his handsomely furnished quarters. A smart-looking orderly had just
been bidden to enter the cabin.

“The master-at-arms states that eight men are ashore, sir. Overstayed
their leave, sir,” responded the orderly, saluting.

The captain thought a minute. Then he gave a sharp order.

“Send Gunner’s Mate Strong to me.”

The orderly saluted, clicked his heels and vanished on his errand. Five
minutes later Ned Strong stood before his captain. As we know, Captain
Dunham had a strong feeling of regard for Ned and Herc, and had watched
their careers with interest. He raised his eyebrows as he saw Ned’s
bruised face. Although the boy had shipped a new uniform, rating badge
and all, the dark marks of his encounter of the previous day with the
park runaway still showed.

“What is the matter with your face, Strong?” asked the captain. His
voice was rather stern. Perhaps he thought his favorite among the crew
had been mixed up in some brawl ashore.

“Why, I,--that is, we--sir, I mean Herc--Coxswain Hercules Taylor and
myself stopped a runaway horse in Golden Gate Park yesterday afternoon,
and I guess I got a little battered up.”

“Good gracious, you boys are always having adventures. Whose horse was
it you stopped?”

“I’ve no idea, sir. We hurried away after we saw the young lady was all
right.”

A smile flitted across the captain’s face.

“Upon my word, Strong, are you qualifying for a hero of romance?” he
inquired. “Stopping a horse with a young lady on board it! Really,
you are plunging into adventure with a vengeance! But I sent for you
to assign you to an important piece of duty. Eight of our men are
ashore,--in some vile den in Chinatown, I suppose. You will take ten
men ashore in Number One Steamer. They will be armed with loaded
service revolvers.”

Ned’s eyes flashed. This was an important detail, he knew. Usually such
work was assigned to the marines; and that he was to be intrusted with
the command of such a squad made him square his shoulders even more
than usual and feel a thrill of satisfaction at the confidence reposed
in him by his captain.

“Aye, aye, sir,” he said, striving not to betray his delight.

“Report to the master-at-arms with my orders. He will do the rest. Use
no unnecessary violence. Simply bring the men on board the ship.”

“Aye, aye, sir. Is that all?”

“That’s all, my lad. Carry on and waste no time.”

Ned saluted and retired. He proceeded straight to the master-at-arms,
who handed him a typewritten list of names.

“These are the fellows you are to bring in, Strong,” he said. “You have
your other orders?”

“Yes, sir. I am to take ten men in Steamer Number One. And--and can
Taylor be one of them, sir?”

“What, that red-headed firebrand?” exclaimed the master-at-arms
smilingly. “There! Very well, then, Strong,” seeing Ned’s look of
disappointment, “but, for goodness sake, keep him out of trouble.”

“Oh, I’ll be careful of him, sir. Thank you.”

“And now you are all ready? I’ll summon the patrol and pass word
for’ard for Taylor.”

“You have no idea where I am to look for the men, sir?” asked Ned,
while the patrol was being summoned.

“No; it will be up to you to find them. But I understand that some of
them were last seen in Chinatown.”

The patrol was lined up.

Ned took command as smartly as any commissioned officer. He gave his
orders and the patrol, including Herc Taylor, marched to the Jacob’s
ladder on the port side of the ship, for the starboard is sacred to
officers. They clambered into the drab-colored, hooded steam launch.
The engineer tooted the whistle, the craft was cast off and then she
cut swiftly over the choppy harbor for the landing stage.

“There they go, looking for the fellows that are playing hooky!”
exclaimed a man loudly, as Ned and his detachment marched off toward
Chinatown, eyed by a curious throng.

“And they’re going to bring them in, too,” thought Ned, with that
outward thrust of a square chin that, with Ned Strong, betokened, to
use a popular and expressive phrase, that he “meant business.”

He fully realized that he had a hard task ahead of him. Sailors
are notoriously the prey of all sorts of harpies ashore, and not
infrequently are persuaded to resist forcibly being returned to their
ships. It was but a small force that Ned had under him in case of
serious trouble; but, as he looked at the clear-skinned, bright-eyed
young Jackies, he felt that he would be willing to face a regiment.

With Ned occasionally giving an order, the patrol marched through the
water-front district, visiting many places of resort for sailors,--and
abominable dens most of them were,--without getting any trace of
the delinquents. Ned, in addition, questioned several pedestrians,
policemen and loafers of the district, but he could get no clew to the
men there.

“We’ll have to look for them in Chinatown,” he decided, and gave orders
for his men to march thither.

Through the straggly streets the little company proceeded until they
arrived in the purlieus of what, next to the Oriental settlement in
Melbourne, Australia, is the biggest Chinese colony in the world. It
was for all the world like a city of the poppy-land and not a part of
the western metropolis.

Slitty, malignant eyes peered out of yellow faces as the smartly
marching company from the dreadnought swung by. Most of the cunning
Orientals knew full well on what errand the Jackies were bound, and
resented it. Although Ned did not know it, the secret telegraphy of
Chinatown was put into full operation as they advanced.

A butcher chopping meat on his stall would produce a peculiar kind of
rhythmic tapping of his axe. This was in turn picked up by a cobbler
mending shoes with antique Chinese tools. And so the news of the
coming of the patrol preceded them by this subtle method of signaling,
and long before they reached the street they were aiming for the
proprietors of the places they meant to search knew of their coming.

“Halt!” ordered Ned, as they entered the street he had determined to
search first. It was a narrow passageway between high, moldering walls.
The walls flared with red prayer papers and other Mongolian notices
inscribed on vermilion papers. From small barred windows evil-looking
faces peered at them curiously.

From some remote place high up in one of the sinister-looking rookeries
came the monotonous beating of a Chinese tom-tom, and the sharp
screeching of a fife in uncanny cadences. Ned looked about him as the
file came to a standstill. To his left a steep flight of steps led into
an underground basement where he thought he might find some of the
missing men.

Up the basement steps came an enormously fat Chinaman, with a round,
greasy moon-face and an ingratiating chin.

“Hullo, sailor-man, what you wantee?” he inquired blandly, squinting at
Ned’s command through his slanted black eyes.

“We come from fleet,” responded Ned, who knew something of the wily
Oriental’s ways. “You catchum any sailors here?”

The Chinaman slowly shook his pigtailed head. Details of armed sailors
had halted in front of his place often before and he knew what this one
meant.

“Me no savee sailors. We no catchum ’Melicans. Nothing but Johns
(Chinamen),” he declared with a bland smile.

But Ned was not satisfied. Ordering his men to remain above, he pushed
past the protesting Mongolian and down the slippery, foul steps.

“What you do?” demanded the Chinaman angrily.

“See how much truth there is under that yellow skin of yours,”
responded Ned, as he shoved open a door at the foot of the steps and
was met by a blast of foul, heated air from the den within.



CHAPTER III. IN CHINATOWN.


Close behind him was the fat, oily Chinaman, protesting, almost
weepingly, that he harbored no “’Melican sailors.”

“Who was it that dodged into that room, then?” demanded Ned, indicating
a door at the farther end of the dingy, ill-lighted room, that had
banged to with a slam as he entered. The boy could have sworn that he
caught sight of a naval uniform as whoever had opened the door slipped
through it and vanished.

“That one of my frens,” explained the bland Chinee.

“What did he run away for, then?”

“He plentee much scared. Thinkee you lobber, maybe.”

In the center of the room, which was lighted, but not illumined, by a
smoky lamp suspended from the ceiling, was a table of ebony inlaid with
mother-of-pearl in fantastic Oriental patterns. Several chairs were
about the table, and to Ned’s eye they looked as if they had recently
been shoved hastily back. On the table were four cups.

“What was your friend doing here?” was Ned’s next question to the
Chinee, who had been eying him craftily as he looked about at his
surroundings.

“He dlinkum tea, so be,” was the quick response, “he likee tea velly,
velly much.”

Ned picked up one of the cups and sniffed at it. His lips curled
disgustedly.

“That cup never held tea,” he exclaimed with authority. “Now, look
here, my friend, you’re backed up against the United States government,
do you understand? Take me into that farther room at once.”

“No can do.”

“Why not?”

“You no catchum business there, so be,” was the retort, while a
sinister expression crept into the face of the Mongolian.

“I haven’t, eh?” Ned stepped forward but the Chinee slipped between him
and the door leading into the room beyond.

“You no tly get in,” spoke the Chinee warningly. He fumbled in the
loose sleeves of his blouse.

But Ned was in no mood to be trifled with. He knew as well as if he
had actually seen them, that hiding in the room beyond were some of
the stragglers from the ship. The Chinaman who owned the den had a
reputation for persuading men-o’-war’s-men to desert their ships and
join the merchant service. He was, in fact, what in seaport towns is
called a “crimp.” That is to say, for a consideration, he furnished men
to merchant ships, principally British tramp steamers. In this way he
drove a thriving trade and his pet victims were discontented navy men.

“Stand aside from that door at once,” snapped the Dreadnought Boy
angrily. “Ah--you would, would you!”

From the Chinaman’s sleeve had flashed a wicked-looking blade. But Ned
was as quick as his adversary--in fact, a shade quicker. He jumped
forward and seized the Chinaman’s wrist, wringing it till the Mongolian
yelled with pain. Then he took the knife and released his victim.

“Now are you going to open that door, or do I have to make you a
prisoner and have you locked up on a charge of resisting a United
States officer?” he shot out.

“No have key,” wailed the Chinee.

“Then I’ll take another way.”

Ned stepped back a few paces and took a short run. His shoulder smashed
against the door with the force of a battering ram. With a crash it
flew open, the flimsy lock, which had been turned from the inside,
carrying away at the first assault of the husky young tar.

Inside was another room, dimmer and fouler than the other. But Ned’s
fighting blood was up, and he was reckless of traps and pitfalls. He
plunged into the place as the door smashed open. Nothing was visible
at first, but suddenly he became aware of a pair of legs, clad in the
baggy blue of the navy, sticking out from under a table. He seized hold
of them and dragged out a young seaman who was a recent recruit on
board the _Manhattan_.

“You, eh, Manners? This is a nice way to start your career in the navy!
Stand up, now, before I make you.”

The young fellow, with his light hair much rumpled and a sullen look on
his otherwise well-formed and pleasing features, scrambled to his feet.
His natty uniform was stained and dusty. He was a sad-looking object
indeed, and, moreover, appeared to be in a semi-daze.

“Stand over there,” commanded Ned sharply. “Don’t try any monkey
business or you’ll get a dose of the brig that will be remembered by
you the rest of your natural life.”

“Aw, see here, Strong, I----”

“Not another word. Is anyone else under there? Speak quick.”

“Yes. Seaman Sharp.”

“That all?”

“Yes.”

“Where are the other men who came ashore in your liberty party?”

“I dunno,” and the tone in which this was said appeared to imply that
the speaker cared still less.

Ned paid no more attention to him for the time being. He had other work
in hand.

“Sharp, come out at once if you don’t want me to summon the patrol and
yank you out,” commanded Ned in a voice that left no mistake as to his
determination to follow out his threat.

There was a scuffling sound from under the table and out came Sharp. He
was a sullen, hang-dog looking fellow who had been years in the navy
on different ships and was now serving his third enlistment aboard the
_Manhattan_. He bore a bad reputation and had never risen from the rank
of seaman.

“Manners, I’m sorry to see you in such company,” said Ned. “It can only
lead to the brig and stoppage of your pay and shore leave. Now then,
both of you come ahead.”

“Not much!” shouted Sharp. “You overbearing, conceited young puppy!
Take that!” He aimed a terrific blow at Ned’s head, but the boy
skillfully dodged it by ducking. He made no attempt to return the blow,
remembering Captain Dunham’s instructions.

“See here, Sharp, I intended to make things as easy for you as I could,
but I won’t stand for anything like this. Now then, are you coming
peaceably or not? If you won’t come like a sensible man, and save
yourself future trouble, I’ll summon the patrol and have you taken
aboard the ship.”

Ned had previously arranged that three sharp blasts on his navy whistle
or a single shot from his revolver would mean: “Trouble, come at once.”

But he was not anxious to have trouble. If he could get the two men out
peaceably he would much prefer it.

“Come, Sharp, be a man. You, too, Manners. I’ll make things as easy as
I can for you on board if you’ll act properly. Are you coming with me?”

“No, by thunder!” roared out Sharp.

“Look to yourself, Strong!” echoed Manners. The next instant the
two closed in on the Dreadnought Boy and he was also conscious of a
terrific blow aimed at him from the rear.



CHAPTER IV. NED “DELIVERS THE GOODS.”


Sharp’s fist,--it was like a flesh and blood sledge hammer,--shot
out full for Ned’s jaw. With a dexterity born of long practice in
wholesome boxing bouts, which are encouraged in the navy, the young
man-o’-war’s-man put up a swift guard, and Sharp’s blow was harmlessly
diverted. Almost before Ned had completed this maneuver, he had faced
round on the foe that attacked him from the rear. It was the fat
Chinaman. He wielded a lacquered stool--a formidable weapon.

But it was destined to be turned upon himself. Ned, with a quick jerk,
had it out of his hands just as the greasy Oriental raised it for a
smashing blow. Then, with a quick outward movement of his foot, he
caught it between the Chinaman’s legs and sent him sprawling in a heap
in a corner. The Mongolian, though not hurt, deemed it more prudent to
remain still.

Ned was given no time to draw breath. Manners was upon him like a
wildcat the next instant, and Ned had his hands full. Sharp was puffy
and out of training. His muscles, though ponderous, were flabby, and
his breath short. Already he was panting. But Manners offered a more
serious problem. He was young, strongly thewed and in fairly good
condition. The young gunner’s mate was prepared for him, though, and he
managed to land two terrific body blows before Manners could use his
fists effectively.

Not an instant did Ned lose in following up the brief temporary
advantage he had before Sharp joined in the assault. He grabbed Manners
in an iron grip, and as Sharp, bellowing furiously, charged down like
a wild bull, his arms going like the sails of a windmill,--he was too
furious to employ science in his attack,--Ned was all ready for him.

His plan had been formed in a jiffy. It was simple but hugely
effective. He utilized Manners, whom he held at arm’s length by the
scruff of the neck, as a human battering ram.

As Sharp rushed in, Ned, exerting the full force of his steel-true
muscles, swung Manners with all the energy he possessed against the
infuriated sailor. The force of the collision took the breath out
of Sharp, and Ned was upon him in an instant. Seizing each of the
recalcitrant stragglers by the back of the neck, he banged them
together till they howled for mercy.

“Well, are you ready to come along now?” demanded Ned sharply.

“All right. We’ll go,” panted Sharp, “but I’ll get even on you, Strong,
if it takes me till the last day I live.”

Manners merely nodded sullenly, but it was easy to see that the fight
was out of him as completely as it had evaporated from Sharp under
Ned’s necessarily vigorous treatment. Ned was the last lad in the
world to needlessly seek trouble. But he had taken good care to be
prepared to meet it if it came to him. This is the spirit that is
properly encouraged in the navy,--not a desire to bully or seek excuses
for trouble, but to have a well-trained body and mind, prepared if
trouble does come to meet it, in a manly fashion and without loss of
dignity or sacrifice of the principles for which our navy stands.

“I’ll get even, I say!” bellowed Sharp as Ned, ignoring the Chinaman
who still lay flat eying him out of his squinty eyes, marched his two
tamed termagants to the door.

“You’re talking foolishly, Sharp,” rejoined Ned, calmly. “I gave you
your chance. You wouldn’t take it. Now you are simply paying the
penalty of your own stubbornness.”

Still muttering threats, Sharp and Manners were marched up the steps.
As the Dreadnought Boy appeared with the pair that he had captured
single-handed, the discipline of his little squad gave way to
exclamations of amazement.

“Crickey,” exclaimed a sailor in an audible whisper, “Gunner’s-Mate
Strong must be a regular man-eater! Sharp is known as a bully and
Manners is no infant.”

“Judging by the looks, Strong is the daddy of them both,” grinned the
man next to him, and a low laugh ran along the line.

“Bully for you, Ned!” burst out Herc.

“Silence,” ordered Ned sternly.

Then, marching his men up to the patrol, he gave his next order to his
abashed followers.

“Armstrong, you and Peters take these fellows down to the launch
and tell them there that they are under arrest. I shall hold you
responsible for their safe delivery. As soon as you have done this,
hurry back. You’ll find us somewhere along this street or you can
easily locate us by inquiry.”

He turned to his two sullen-faced, surly prisoners.

“Now, men, you realize that you are prisoners. You’d better go
peaceably or you may make a long stay in the brig with stoppage of pay
and liberty. I’m going to spare you the ignominy of handcuffs. I think
you’ve suffered enough.”

“Well, I should remark! Look at Sharp’s eye,” sputtered the
irrepressible Herc.

“Taylor, if I hear any more from you, you will be ordered back to the
steamer,” said Ned curtly.

When on duty, Ned recognized no friendships. A breach of discipline
such as Herc’s was just as much of an offense as if any other man had
committed it.

“Right face! Twos! Forward march!” ordered Ned. The eight remaining
men of his force swung into the formation indicated with military
precision, and off they marched once more through the unsavory Chinese
quarter. Coming up the street on the other side, Ned espied a man
from the _New Hampshire_. He was a respectable-looking fellow and was
plainly in the quarter buying curios to send back home. His arms were
full of purchases, most of them paid for at exorbitant rates, for the
Chinese merchant swindles a sailor without compunction.

“Ahoy, shipmate!” hailed Ned. “We’re a picket sent out to round up the
stragglers. Seen any of our fellows?”

“Oh, you’re from the _Manhattan_, ain’t you?”

“Yes. I thought you might have seen some of our men.”

“I sure have,” grinned the other. “I gave them a wide berth, too. One
of them told me he could lick anybody aboard the _New Hampshire_. I
might have tackled him but he had too many of his friends with him, so
I made him a polite reply and vamoosed.”

“Where did all this happen?”

“Right down the street there. There’s a German runs the place. I
wouldn’t go in it for two months’ pay.”

“Bad place, eh?”

“’Bout the worst there is in ’Frisco, a shipmate told me.”

“Well, I’ll soon find out.”

“Jumping top-masts, you ain’t goin’ in there, shipmate?”

“I certainly am. Why not?”

The other shook his head ominously.

“Well, the chances are about ten to one on your getting back to your
ship! They won’t do a thing to you!”

“I’m not so sure about that. The roughest of characters must be taught
to respect our uniform, and I’m going to see that they do it.”

Ned’s chin came forward and his lips compressed in what his shipmates
called “Strong’s fighting look.”

“If you’re determined to go in, then, let me give you a bit of advice.
I hope you won’t be too proud to accept it.”

“Of course not,” said Ned with a smile. “This sort of work is new to
me, but I mean to do the best I can at it, and I can’t carry it out if
I allow myself to be scared out of these low resorts.”

“That’s the talk for a man-o’-war’s-man,” said the other approvingly.
“Well, my advice is just this: load up before you go in there,--that’s
all.”

“Thank you, very much,” rejoined Ned. “My men are all armed and their
revolvers are loaded.”

“Well, so long, good luck.”

“So long, shipmate. Forward march!” And once more the little detachment
swung off down the street.

They marched on till they reached the place that the sailor from the
_New Hampshire_ had pointed out. It bore a sign in front: “The Fair
Wind.”

“Humph,” thought Ned as he looked at the building, a dingy,
three-storied brick structure in very bad repair. “‘The Fair Wind,’ eh?
I think it’s a very bad wind that blows any foolish sailor in here.”

After his preliminary survey he turned to his detachment.

“I want you men to wait out here,” he said. “You understand?”

“But, Ned----” burst out Herc.

A look from the young commander of the picket stopped the red-headed
youth’s outburst of protest. But Simpson, an elderly sailor of
excellent character and long service, spoke up respectfully.

“Hadn’t you better take a couple of us along, sir?”

“No, that’s not part of my plan,” rejoined Ned. “A general entry of
armed blue-jackets might be only a signal for trouble and that’s just
what we want to avoid. Often an appeal to a man’s reason is more
effective than force.”

“Very well, sir. We’ll hold ourselves in readiness, though.”

“I want you to do just that. If I give two sharp, short blasts on my
whistle, come--and come on the jump. Otherwise, don’t move. Whatever
you do, keep your heads. Remain cool, and under no circumstances draw
your fire-arms. If it comes to a tussle, we’ve got our fists.”

Ned advanced to the swinging doors of the place, pushed them open and
vanished. The anxious eyes of his squad followed him.

“I’ve a notion we’ll hear them two whistles in a jiffy,” remarked a man
standing next to Herc.

“Well, if you do you’ll know that Ned is really up a tree,” responded
Herc. “He’s not the sort that cries ‘wolf’ unless there’s real trouble
bearing down on him.”



CHAPTER V. “THE FAIR WIND.”


Within the doors he had so unceremoniously pushed open, Ned found
a kind of shabby office and lounging lobby, equipped with ricketty
furniture and smelling horribly of stale tobacco. The floor was
littered with paper and cigar stumps and everything was dirty to a
degree, a condition very offensive to the smart young Dreadnought
Boy. But Ned was paying not much attention to these details. His eyes
rapidly swept the room.

Behind a desk, caged off from the rest of the place, a fat,
flabby-looking German with a pair of huge yellow moustaches was engaged
on some sort of blotty bookkeeping. His big moustaches and round,
unwholesome face made him look not unlike a big walrus. On the walls
hung a few pictures of old-time clipper-ships and various other works
of art, portraying “The _Mary Anne Jennings_ in a Sou-wester off
Ushant,” and “The American Barque _Elisha J. Holmes_ Caught Aback off
Cape Horn.” Under glass cases were curios of different kinds from the
Seven Seas. Dust and grime lay thick on everything. Apparently it was
many moons since a broom or soap and water had penetrated there.

The walrus-like German looked up as Ned entered, and right there Ned
saw the wisdom of his move in coming in alone. The proprietor, as he
guessed the man at the desk to be, greeted him with a nod.

“From der _Manhattan_, hein?” he asked.

“Yes, that’s my ship,” responded Ned, returning the nod. He saw at once
that the man was quite unsuspicious of him and thought he was merely a
foolish, weak-minded sailor out for “a good time.”

“Vell, you are velcome py der Fair Vind. Py der inside you findt plendy
of your shibmades from der _Manhaddan_. Dey are fine fellows, all off
dem.”

“Yes, they are _fine fellows_,” thought Ned to himself, but aloud he
rejoined:

“Thank you; where will I find them?”

“In der back room, my heardy. Budt say,” the walrus-like man’s eyes
narrowed and he looked at Ned searchingly, “you don’t seem like der
sort dot comes py me place regular.”

“No, it’s my first cruise,” rejoined Ned.

But the other was more used to sailors and navy usages than Ned had
bargained for.

“Your first cruise?” he grunted with growing suspicion. “Vot you do py
uniform uv cunner’s-made, den?”

“I mean it’s my first cruise to the coast,” rejoined Ned, inwardly
adding, “I’ll have to be careful. This place is every bit as bad as the
fellow from the _New Hampshire_ said it was, and the proprietor is as
fine a specimen of a land-shark as you’d meet with in many a long day’s
cruise.”

The proprietor’s suspicions were apparently lulled by Ned’s
straightforward manner.

“Go righd aheadt, mein poy,” he said paternally and waved his fat,
pudgy hand toward a door in the rear of the dingy front office.

Ned made his way toward the door indicated and shoved it open. If the
atmosphere in the musty office outside had been bad, the air within
the room fairly made Ned gasp. It was blue and thick with wreaths of
tobacco smoke from a score of pipes and cigars. The Dreadnought Boy
blinked and then gave vent to a loud sneeze.

This drew general attention toward him.

“Shut that door, you long-shore swab!” yelled somebody out of the blue
mist.

Ned shut it and then sneezed again. Both he and Herc abhorred tobacco
in any form. They knew that the user of it cannot develop athletically.
It destroys staying power and wind, and in ordinary life its effect is
to diminish efficiency in any line of work.

He blinked and winked two or three times before he got used to the
dense, pungent fumes and the semi-twilight. Then with difficulty he
began to make out the faces of the men congregated within.

Nobody paid any attention to him and he looked about eagerly to see
if he could distinguish some naval uniforms. He was not long in doing
so. Six of the men he was in search of were in the place, laughing and
talking as if such a thing as overstaying their leave were the lightest
matter in the world.

Seated near to where Ned was standing, but with his back turned to him,
was a young sailor named Childs. He was an ordinary seaman and usually
a quiet, self-respecting fellow. But he had wandered into bad company.
On a chair opposite to the youthful sailor was seated a well-dressed
man with a hawk-like face, who was apparently trying to impress
something on the young fellow’s mind.

Ned came a little closer and listened. He knew how many traps are set
for Jack ashore, and he was convinced that the hawk-faced man was
trying to entice young Childs into one of them. It didn’t take long to
show him that he was right.

The well-dressed man was telling Childs a wonderful story about a
gold-mine that he had in the Sierras, and was trying to persuade the
young fellow to induce his companions to club their funds and buy some
shares in it. When this had been done, he said, he would have them
sent up to the fabulously rich mine, and there they could hide till
the fleet had sailed and the search for them had blown over. In the
meantime, by simply digging in the mine they would have become almost,
if not quite, millionaires.

The foolish young sailor, as Ned could see, was drinking in this
ridiculous tale with greedy attention.

“But are you sure the Navy people couldn’t locate us and get us back on
board ship?” he was asking. “You know a deserter gets a severe dose of
punishment.”

The other waved a not over-clean hand upon which, however, a “diamond”
as big as a hazelnut glittered.

“Why so timid, my lad?” he asked banteringly. “I thought all you
sailors were brave and bold and--and all that sort of thing. Why, you
could hide up at that mine for ten years if you wanted to and no one
would ever find you. But you won’t want to hide that long. When you
come out with gold galore and have your own mansion and auto, who would
ever suspect that you were a runaway sailor? Who’d even dare to hint at
such a thing?”

“That’s so,” agreed young Childs. “I haven’t got an awful lot of money.
But I could get some from my folks, I guess, and so could some of my
ship-mates.”

The eyes of the hawk-faced man glittered greedily.

“It’s a gilt-edged proposition and you can write the folks at home so,”
confided the rascal to the gullible young blue-jacket. “I don’t mind
telling you that if I hadn’t taken a personal liking to you I’d never
have let you in on it. It’s just pure unselfishness on my part, that’s
what it is. But there, I’m wealthy enough now and can afford to be a
good fellow to those I take a fancy to.”

“That’s mighty good of you,” replied poor Childs warmly. “I’ll give you
a deposit on ten shares now and I’ll write home for more.”

He reached for his wallet and the hawk-eyed man’s evil optics glittered.

“I don’t mind telling you,” he said impressively, “that your intellect
and ability will warrant me in naming you for the Chairman of the Board
of Directors as soon as we get our company incorporated and things
going.”

Young Childs’ face fairly glowed.

“You arrange for another suit for me,” he said as he opened his wallet,
in which reposed his pay, and prepared to hand it over, “and then I’ll
speak to my ship-mates about their part in it. I guess we can raise
quite a sum. It does seem a big step, though, from a blue-jacket to
a mining magnate. I have to thank you for that. The only thing that
worries me is the chance that they may grab me before I get to the
mountains.”

“No chance. Schmidt, the boss of this place, will arrange all that.
He’s helped lots of sailors before now. Now hand over that money.”

“All right. I’m your man----”

“No, you’re not. You belong to Uncle Sam!” And Ned’s hand fell on the
young sailor’s shoulder. “Now put back your money and come with me.”

[Illustration: “No, you’re not. You belong to Uncle Sam.”--_Page_ 58.]

Both men leaped to their feet. An angry light flashed into young
Childs’ eyes as he saw Gunner’s-Mate Strong confronting him with a
half-angry, half-pitying look on his firm, clean-cut features.



CHAPTER VI. A TIGHT PLACE.


“What business have you butting in?” demanded the hawk-eyed man, pale
with anger as he saw his gull being taken away from him.

“I don’t recognize you,” spoke Ned coldly. “Come, Childs, put your
money back in your wallet and be thankful I arrived in time to save you
from being plucked by a rascal.”

“I--I am not going.”

“Not going?”

“No; you see, Strong----”

“Now see here,” began the hawk-eyed man, laying a persuasive arm,
which Ned straightway shook off, upon the Dreadnought Boy’s shoulder,
“this young fellow and me is good friends--see? I’m going to do him a
good turn. I’ve offered him some stock in the Eldorado Limited Mines
and----”

“Yes,” rejoined Ned scorchingly, “_limited_ just about describes them,
I guess.”

“But I’m a friend.”

“A what?” Ned’s eyes began to blaze dangerously.

“A friend of this lad’s. He----”

“A nice sort of friend you are,” shot out Ned witheringly. “It’s just
such land-sharks as you that get gullible young fellows like Childs
here into trouble. If it hadn’t been for me, you’d have stripped him
of his money and then left him to face the music of a court-martial. I
don’t blame him, a young, inexperienced sailor. But I haven’t words to
express my scorn of such creatures as you, who would try to induce a
lad to desert his country and the flag he has sworn to serve under.”

“My! Quite an orator, ain’t you?” sneered the other with an evil leer.

Ned wasted no more words on him, although he fairly burned with
indignation toward the fellow. He bent all his efforts to bringing
young Childs back to his senses.

“You have been in the navy long enough to know what it means to be
branded as a deserter, Childs,” he said. “Surely you are not going
to jeopardize a promising career for the sake of such worthless
inducements as this swindler holds out.”

“Swindler!” cried Childs. “Why, he promised----”

“I know. I overheard enough to understand. A gold mine. I guess it’s
under his hat, and a precious poor one it must be, too. Come along,
Childs, join your ship-mates outside and then I’ll come back for the
rest.”

The conversation had been carried on in low tones and nobody in the
room was in the least aware of what was going forward. Ned was wise in
this.

Except for the men-o’-war’s-men present, everyone in the place bore
the stamp of “hard character” unmistakably branded on his features.
Stokers and roustabout sailors from tramp steamers, Ned adjudged most
of them to be. Ugly customers, if the worst came to the worst. He began
to be glad he had arranged to summon aid instantly if need be.

“Don’t go with him,” cried the swindler. “It’ll be the worse for you if
you do. You’re only going to get into trouble.”

“You’ll land in trouble yourself, or I miss my guess. Childs, come on.
You’re going with me.”

The young fellow hesitated undecidedly. It was plain that he was
wavering. Ned decided to drive home a final nail of argument.

“If you come now, Childs, it is possible that your punishment will be
light. I’ll do my best for you. You have an excellent record and that
will be taken into consideration. Be advised. I’ve seen more of the
service than you have and know what I’m talking about. Will you come,
or shall I have to summon the patrol to take you? In that case it will
go hard with you.”

Childs’ lips trembled. He was little more than a boy, and he now began
to see the magnitude of the offence he had been contemplating.

“I’ll come, sir,” he said, “you’re right. It’s best to face the music.”

“That’s the talk. Now----”

Childs was jerked violently from Ned’s grasp. Ned made a grab and
recovered his prisoner from the hawk-eyed man, who had pulled him aside
and was whispering to him.

What happened then came so quickly that it fairly took Ned off his
feet, so to speak.

The hawk-eyed man gave a shout. Then he uttered some quick exclamations
in German in a loud tone. In a flash every man in the room but
the men-o’-war’s-men was upon his feet. From the front office the
walrus-faced proprietor came lumbering heavily in. In his hand was a
big revolver. The swindler uttered what appeared to be a signal, and
_en masse_ the stokers and long-shore loafers made a rush for Ned as
he stood with his back against the wall and Childs by his side.

“Stand back, you fellows!” cried Ned in a firm, ringing voice. “I’m
armed with the authority of the United States Navy. The man who lays
hands on me answers to the Government. Understand that?”

Seemingly they did, for the mob of brutalized, hard-bitten characters
checked its forward dash and wavered. But Schmidt, the walrus-faced
German, rallied his ranks of rowdies.

“Don’t let dot young naval pup gedt oudt of here!” he cried. “He’s a
spy! He’s looking for deserters! If you ledt him gedt oudt, a lot of
you be catched undt shofed back in der nafy brigs.”

It was a shrewd move. As Schmidt well knew, most of the habitués of his
place were men whose names figured on the list of deserters sought by
the Federal authorities. Like an avalanche the hesitating line rallied
and swept down on Ned.

“Childs, are you with me?” cried Ned, as he saw.

“Y-y-yes,” stammered the young sailor, but Ned saw that he couldn’t
place much dependence upon his ally.

The Dreadnought Boy met the onslaught with a vigor that astonished
Schmidt’s cohorts. Before his fists, which shot out into the massed
faces like piston-rods, many a tough loafer and stoker went down.
Childs, though, was borne to the ground at the first rush. His defense
was half-hearted at best and he made little attempt to resist, deeming
it a hopeless contest.

Ned did not dare to lower his defenses long enough to give the sharp
blast on his whistle that he knew would summon aid from the outside.
But pursing his lips as he drove blows right and left with flail-like
force, he contrived to send out a shrill call without the aid of his
bos’un’s pipe.

In the uproar the sound was unheard outside. In fact, it is doubtful
if even the shrill summons of the whistle could have been heard
beyond the front office, closed as the doors were. But the sound was
interpreted as some kind of a signal by Schmidt’s crowd and for an
instant they hesitated. It was Ned’s chance. He jerked Childs, who was
cowering and helpless, to his feet.

“For heaven’s sake, be a man!” he implored. “Come on, rush for the
door. We’ve one chance in a hundred of getting out.”

All this time the men from the _Manhattan_ had remained inactive. In
fact, all that occurred had taken place so swiftly that they had not
yet had time exactly to realize what was going forward.

Now, however, they sprang to their feet in a body.

“Ahoy, _Manhattans_!” shouted Ned, as he saw this. “Here’s a chance to
show the stuff you’re made of!”

Would they respond to the young petty officer’s appeal? If they did
not, Ned realized that the outlook was black indeed.



CHAPTER VII. AN ILL WIND FOR SCHMIDT.


The clear, commanding tones of the Dreadnought Boy had relighted in
the souls of the straggling, delinquent sailors a spark of honor, of
feeling for the flag and duty. But Schmidt saw to it that the revival
of this instinct was only momentary.

While the men exchanged glances and began to get shoulder to shoulder
ready for a rescuing rush, he raised his thick voice.

“If dey gedt you pack on sheep, you know voyt you gedt idt!” he cried.
“You gedts nuddings budt der brig, bread undt vater undt no shore
leafes. Nobotty can hear nuddings in dis blace, undt ov you don’t
help dis young pig-head of a officer, nopoddy been der viser. Ov you
help him, he take you pack aboardt der sheeps undt den your troubles
pegins!”

It was a crafty appeal by a crafty man well versed in the ways of those
who follow the sea. The men who, an instant before, had been rallied
by Ned’s manly, outspoken address, hesitated and began to murmur among
each other. Ned, with an inward groan, saw that the argument had been
effective.

“I promise to do my best for you, men, if you help me now,” he cried.

“Yes, all that may be, Gunner’s-Mate,” retorted a much-tattooed old
tar, who went by the name of “Harness Cask” Bill, “but what good can
you do us with a skipper who’ll put us in the brig on short allowance
and stop our shore leave the rest of the cruise?”

“That’s right, Bill,” cried another; “we’d only be cutting our own
throats, say I.”

“Them’s my opinions,” cried a third. “It’s hands off, mates, I say.
Schmidt will give us a chance to get clear away and then to blazes with
the navy.”

“Shame!” cried Ned in a loud, clear voice. “Shame on you, my man, to
abuse a service that is the finest in the world.”

“Oh, stow that gaff,” growled someone, and as if it had been a signal,
the attack recommenced. Childs was torn from Ned’s side and the whole
press of desperate characters surged about him, shouting and struggling
to seize him. Ned fought with all his skill and bravery. But in the
nature of things, it was a contest that could not long endure.

A dozen men, with arms developed into Samson-like strength in the
fire-rooms of a hundred deep-sea tramps, threw themselves upon him.
With all the wiry strength and resource that were his, Ned struggled.
But by sheer superiority of numbers and brawn the others were bound to
win, and Ned knew that it must be so from the first.

Powerful as he was, the Dreadnought Boy was little more than a puppet
in their hands. He gave a good account of himself and then, “with
colors flying,” Ned Strong was borne to the ground with a dozen bodies
piled on top of him.

In the guttural accents of the fat and flabby Schmidt, some orders
were hastily given. Ned was picked up breathless and bruised but still
struggling for freedom. He was carried through a rear door. Down a
long, dark, ill-smelling hallway he was borne till another portal was
reached. Schmidt, who carried a candle stuck in a bottle, kicked this
door open.

“In midt him,” he ordered.

Ned was hurled bodily forward and landed on a wooden floor with a hard
thud that left him badly shaken. The door was slammed to and then came
the “click” of a lock as it was shot.

“I’ve been fooled, badly fooled,” groaned poor Ned, “but,” clenching
his fists, “I’ll win out yet. I will! I will!”

He got up on his feet and looked about him. The room was not a large
one, and except for the door by which he had been thrust into it, the
place had no doors or windows. Over his head, however, was a skylight
with dirt-crusted panes which admitted a dim sort of light.

Apparently the room was a sort of storeroom, for all about were boxes,
bales and old barrels. The boxes attracted Ned’s attention. They were
lavishly decorated and covered with characters which he recognized as
being Chinese. An aromatic odor was in the air and Ned soon perceived
why. The decorated chests were tea receptacles. Most of them were
unopened and had apparently come direct from some Oriental ship,
for there were no customs marks upon them. The truth burst upon Ned
suddenly.

The tea-chests were off vessels from the Orient. But they had never
paid duty. He was beholding an adjunct of Schmidt’s business,--a
tea-smuggling plant on a large scale. He estimated that, allowing even
a small price for the tea, there must have been at least ten thousand
dollars’ worth of the herb stored in that room.

“Phew!” exclaimed the boy, “here’s a find which alone will cause a
lot of trouble for Schmidt, if I can ever get out of here. What a
collection! But tea won’t do me any good now. What I need is something
to batter that door down. I might rush them and get clear away if I
only could. I’ll try it, anyhow.”

But a brief examination of the door showed him that such an attempt
would be only foolish waste of strength. The door was made of heavy
planks reënforced with iron bolts, and appeared to have been built to
withstand a siege.

“A regular safe-deposit vault,” sighed Ned. “What a predicament! I’ve
certainly made a fine mess of it, this time.”

He fell to examining the walls. But they were apparently as solidly
constructed as the door. The skylight offered the only means of egress
and that was fully ten feet from the floor.

Ned looked up at it wistfully.

“I wonder if there’s any way I could get up there,” he said musingly.
“No, it’s too high, I--By hookey! I’ve got an idea. These boxes! I can
build a pile of them and climb up to it. It’s worth trying, anyhow.”

Ned lost no time in carrying out his plan. He did not know at what
moment he might be interrupted and this fear lent haste to his
movements. He dragged and piled heavy chests till they grew too much
for him to handle. Then he looked about for lighter articles to
construct the apex of the pile on which he meant to try to crawl to
liberty.

He found several boxes which were empty and easily handled and he
placed these on top of the tea-chests. Then he climbed up, but he found
that his finger tips were still, even when out-stretched to their
utmost, some distance from the edge of the skylight.

“I’ll jump for it. I think there’s one bare chance I can make it,”
thought Ned.

He crouched, flexing his muscles for a supreme effort. Carefully
measuring the distance with his eyes he shot straight upward for the
edge of the skylight frame. His finger tips clutched the sides, slipped
and then his grip gave way.

Down he came, crashing, with boxes and bales tumbling about him and
creating a fearful uproar. As he struck the ground he lay quite still.
Apparently he had not been injured, though how he escaped, he could
hardly make out himself.

He got upon his feet and listened. He could not hear a sound outside.

“They’ve deserted the place like a lot of rats,” he exclaimed. “There’s
nothing left for me to do but to try again. I guess----”

Outside the door sounded a trampling of feet. The crash of Ned’s
down-toppling pyramid had then, after all, been heard outside. In
another minute they would be in the room, and then----?

A key grated in the lock. Ned darted behind a large barrel which lay
on its side in a corner of the place. Crouching there like a hunted
thing, he heard the door flung open and several men tramp into the
room. Above the voices that broke into hub-bub when the wreck of Ned’s
pile of boxes was seen, Schmidt’s could be heard plainly.

“Himmel! He’s climbed py der schylighdt oudt!” shrilled the German.

“If he has, we’ve got him then!” came another voice. “He can’t get off
that roof.”

“Ach no! Dot is so!” cried the German jubilantly. “We haf him like a
leedle mouse midt a cat. Gedt a latter, somebodty. Donner! Ve dondt
vant to loose him now. Idt vould mean der ruination of der ‘Fair Vind.’”

Ned saw a gleam of hope. If only they carried out their plan there was
still a chance for him. Crouching behind the barrel, he eagerly awaited
the sound of the next move, for he did not dare to protrude his head
from his hiding place.

Presently came the scraping sound of the ladder being run up to the
skylight.

“Up, undt after him!” cried Schmidt.

Three men nimbly ascended the ladder. Ned, looking up, could see them
as they mounted, but luckily they did not look down. It never occurred
to them that the lad for whom they were searching was within a few feet
of them, and not on the roof at all.

The last to ascend were the hawk-eyed man and Schmidt himself. The fat
German was so eager to join in the pursuit that he could not forego
the, to him, painful climb up the ladder, which it involved.

Ned chuckled as the two pairs of ankles vanished through the skylight.
The moment had arrived for him to put his plan into execution. He lost
no time in doing so.

Darting from his hiding place, he ran toward the ladder and, seizing
it, he sent it crashing to the floor.

The escape of the men on the roof above was cut off.

“Hip! hip! hooray!” yelled Ned at the top of his healthy lungs.

The crash of the falling ladder and the sound of the hearty cheer
brought Herr Schmidt to the edge of the skylight.

“Donner vetter!” he wailed. “The ladder has fallen! How vee gedt down?”

“It didn’t fall, it was pushed, Schmidt!” cried Ned exultingly, unable
to forego his delight in his triumph. “You can’t get down till the
police come and help you down.”

“Blitzen!” roared the German. “It’s der poy from der nafy!”

“That’s who it is,” cried Ned, “and next time, think it over before you
try to beat him! So long!”

As he vanished through the door leading to the passage, a howl of fury
and rage went up from the roof. Imprisoned upon it by the Yankee lad’s
ingenuity and grit were as choice an assortment of rascals as ever were
trapped by a strategist who was in years only a lad.



CHAPTER VIII. “MY ADDRESS IS THE ‘MANHATTAN’.”


Ned sprang into the hallway, locked the solid, iron-studded door behind
him and flung the key away.

“Bottled and corked!” he chuckled as he sped on toward the room in
which he had been made captive by Schmidt’s gang.

He stepped into the place and found to his delight that the naval men
he wanted were still there. A few of the loungers were likewise seated
about. At Ned’s sudden appearance the men-o’-war’s-men leaped up as
if they had been shot. Among them was young Childs. He could not meet
Ned’s eye but hung his head as the gunner’s-mate made his unexpected
entrance.

Ned’s eyes burned as they swept the room.

“Schmidt and his friends are prisoners on the roof of that outer
room,” he announced. “Within half an hour they will be in the hands of
the police. Outside this place I have a patrol. Are you men willing
to surrender, or shall I have to call in the picket to take you back
shackled to the ship?”

There was an instant’s hesitation while the men stared at the
calm-spoken Dreadnought Boy as if they could hardly believe their eyes.
Then old Harness Cask spoke up:

“We’ll go with you, sir. Will you make it easy for us when we get on
board?”

“I’m not committing myself,” spoke Ned grimly. “Forward march!”

Like lambs the stragglers formed in twos, looking foolish and
crestfallen. Out they marched with Ned behind them, while the loafers
in the place cowered in corners, meditating instant escape as soon as
Ned and his prisoners vanished.

Before they reached the street, Ned blew his whistle and sounded the
shrill summons to his patrol which he had notified them would be the
signal for them to join him. As they appeared at the top of the steps,
reënforced now by the two men who had taken Sharp and Manners to the
steamer, Herc shouted out:

“It’s all right, Ned. We’re coming to your rescue. Hold fast, old
fellow!”

“All right, boys,” hailed Ned; “it’s all over but the shouting. Just
take these fellows in charge and march them down to the steamer and
wait there for me. I’ve a little more work to do yet.”

To say that Ned’s patrol was astonished as they saw the sheepish
captives file out of the Fair Wind to the street, would be to put it
mildly. As Herc might have said, they were completely flabbergasted.

When Ned briefly rehearsed the circumstances of the capture, modestly
keeping himself in the background, their enthusiasm knew no bounds.
The rueful, woebegone captives were marched off to the steamer, while
Ned hastened to a telephone. He got Police Headquarters and told the
official in charge about the prisoners on the roof of the “Fair Wind.”

“I’ll send a patrol wagon right down,” declared the official.

“Better send a big bunch of men, too. They’re a bad lot,” said Ned.

“I know all about them. We’ve been trying for a long time to land
Schmidt. Now, thanks to you, we’ve got him with the goods on.”

“I reckon you have,” rejoined Ned with a grin.

“By the way, what’s your name and address?” came the voice at the other
end of the wire.

“Ned Strong is my name, and my address is the Dreadnought _Manhattan_,
at anchor off Goat Island in the harbor.”

A marked note of surprise was in the official’s voice as he exclaimed:

“Strong, did you say?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Well, we’re looking for you!”

“Looking for me?”

“That’s right. We’re very anxious to get hands on you.”

“Gracious! What for?”

“Never mind. Can we get you on board the ship?”

“Of course. But what does this mean? Why do the authorities want to see
me?”

“That I am not at liberty to tell you. Will you summon the man on post
and tell him to guard the ‘Fair Wind’ till reënforcements arrive?”

Ned, sorely puzzled, promised to do so, and soon discovered the
patrolman in question. He explained the case to him and then hurried
down to the steamer. As he went, he turned the situation over and over
in his mind. What could he have done that the police wanted to see him?
And then they were coming out to the ship, too! Even if it was some
trumped up accusation, Ned knew that he would have an awkward time of
it. Had he had the leisure he would have gone to Headquarters himself
and demanded some explanation. But his duty was to hasten back to the
_Manhattan_ with the stragglers at once.

The knowledge that the police wanted to see him even though he was
conscious of having committed no offence, worried Ned considerably. The
very vagueness of the information that had been vouchsafed to him made
it worse. However, when he reached the steamer, Ned found plenty to
occupy him in the disposal of his prisoners.

After that no time was lost in getting under way. Ned sat in the stern,
busied with his own reflections. He had had a lively time but he had
acquitted himself to his own satisfaction and carried out his orders
promptly and faithfully. Had it not been for that mysterious police
message, there would not have been a cloud in his sky.

The little steamer made quick time between the landing-stage and the
grim, gray dreadnought. Behind her, reaching as far as the Golden
Gate, spread a long line of Uncle Sam’s slate-colored sea-fighters
swinging at anchor. What a fine picture the array of battleships
presented! Strings of bright-colored bunting depending from their
signal halliards relieved the sinister monotone of battle color, and
from bridge to bridge the bright scarlet of the “wig-wag” flags could
be seen cutting circles and arcs as from ship to ship flashed news and
orders. It was an old picture to Ned, but it thrilled him and inspired
him just as much there in San Francisco Bay as it had on that day
that seemed so long ago when he and Herc stood in Riverside Park in
New York, raw recruits, and gazed their first upon the huge fighting
machine of which they were to become parts.

The steamer ran around to the port gangway and made fast. The
delinquents, a crestfallen unhappy-looking parade, were marched on
deck with the patrol guarding them in on each side. Ned couldn’t help
feeling a quick flush of pride as he noticed the astonished glance of
the officer of the deck when he saw Ned’s flock of black sheep that had
been so speedily rounded up.

“All present, sir!” said Ned, bringing his heels together with a smart
click, and saluting the functionary, who was distinguished by carrying
a telescope slung over his shoulder.

“What, you got them all?”

“Aye, aye, sir!”

“Take them before the master-at-arms. You will appear at the mast at a
time appointed by the commander and give your evidence against them.”

“Aye, aye, sir!”

“Carry on!”

The deck officer turned away and Ned and his patrol marched their
unhappy band of prisoners before the master-at-arms, who promptly
assigned them to the dreaded brig till such time as their trials at the
mast should be ordered.

“And now for some food,” exclaimed Herc; “I’m half famished.”

“Well, I could look a square meal in the face without feeling
embarrassed,” confessed Ned with a laugh.

“Well, if ever a lad deserved it, you’re the one,” declared old
Simpkins admiringly. “I guess we’ll have to call you ‘Ned the Giant
Killer,’ after this.”

“Not as bad as that, I hope,” laughed Ned good-naturedly.

“Humph,” snorted Herc, “I reckon ‘Jack the Giant Killer’ wouldn’t be
one, two, three beside Ned Strong. Eight at one fell swoop, not to
mention the party marooned on the roof, is a pretty good day’s work. By
the way, what was the name of that place?”

“‘The Fair Wind.’ Why?”

“They ought to change its name to ‘Look Out for Squalls.’”



CHAPTER IX. ANCHORS A’TRIP.


“The captain wishes to see you at once.”

An orderly had just stepped up to Ned and given the above message. Ned
hastened aft at once. Such orders were to be obeyed in a hurry. As he
went along the decks he wondered what the import of the summons might
be.

“I’ll bet it is something to do with that police business,” he thought
to himself uneasily as he quickened his steps.

The captain was seated at his desk writing, when Ned entered and stood
bareheaded and upright, respectfully waiting till the captain addressed
him. At last Commander Dunham looked up from his desk.

“Well, you got them all, I hear, Strong.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Excellent work. Any trouble?”

“Nothing to speak of, sir.”

The captain smiled.

“You hardly do yourself justice, Strong. A wireless from the shore has
just been placed in my hands highly commending your work. Incidentally,
there was a reward of three hundred dollars for the capture of that tea
smuggler you trapped on the roof.”

“Three hundred dollars, sir!”

Ned could hardly believe his ears.

“Yes, and from what I hear, you have fully earned it. Of course, you
won’t object to taking it?”

“Well hardly, sir.”

“Sit down now and tell me all about your adventures ashore, Strong. I
am interested in knowing the details of such a meritorious performance
as yours has been.”

Ned, with a very red face, seated himself at his superior’s orders and
launched into his story. He mentioned himself as little as he could,
but it was impossible for the captain not to read between the lines
of Ned’s plain, unembroidered story and recognize him for the plucky,
gritty young tar that he was.

He was half through his narration when the orderly entered the cabin.

“Officer of the deck reports a police launch approaching, sir.”

Poor Ned! His heart began to beat thick and fast. He hardly dared to
look up. Suppose that some charge should be made against him, how could
he face the captain who had just been complimenting him so highly? His
embarrassment was not lessened by his knowledge that he actually had no
reason to fear anything.

“Report to me when they make fast,” ordered the captain. “Now go on,
Strong. You had hidden behind a barrel, I think you were saying.”

Ned went on with his narrative, but he related it haltingly. His mind
was on the police launch and what its possible mission might be.

The orderly came back.

“The launch has made fast, sir. The British Consul and the Chief of
Police of San Francisco are on board. They wish to see you.”

“Show them in. You may remain, Strong.”

Ned got to his feet and took up a standing position in a corner of the
cabin. In a few minutes the orderly returned with the Chief of Police,
a fat, pompous-looking man with a large, straw-colored moustache and
goatee, and the British Consul, a tall, sun-burned man with a kindly
countenance and affable manner.

After the preliminaries of introduction were over, the Chief of Police
plumped out the question that Ned had been dreading to hear.

“You have a man named Strong on board this ship?” he asked.

“Yes, Gunner’s-Mate Strong,” was the rejoinder. “In fact, he is here
now.”

The captain waved a hand toward Ned, who swallowed hard and prepared
to take calmly whatever was to come. What game was this? The British
Consul, quite forgetting his official dignity, crossed the cabin in two
jumps and seized Ned’s hand and began wringing it as if it had been a
pump handle.

“Let me thank you, although no words can express my gratitude,” he
exclaimed, “for the noble act you performed in the Park when you saved
my daughter from almost certain death on a runaway horse.”

“Eh? What’s this?” exclaimed Captain Dunham.

“Simply, sir, that you have in your crew one of the most modest heroes
I ever heard of,” cried the consul enthusiastically. “He rescued my
daughter when her horse ran away with her and would almost certainly
have dashed her to death had it not been for this lad’s bravery. I want
to express my admiration for the nation that can produce such fine
types of young manhood.”

“I--I--just grabbed the horse, that’s all, sir,” replied Ned. “You see
on the farm I’d been used to horses and so it was really no trick at
all. I hope the young lady is recovered?”

“Yes, and I have here a letter from her asking you and your companion
who assisted you in your brave deed to come to dinner with us to-morrow
night. I also wish to express in some more solid manner the full burden
of my gratitude.”

“Thank you very much, sir,” replied Ned, “but the fleet sails to-morrow
at noon and all shore leave will be stopped to-morrow.”

“Too bad! Too bad!” exclaimed the consul. “My daughter was so anxious
to thank you personally for your bravery. Had it not been for the fact
that your cap was picked up on the drive, we should never even have
known who it was that performed such a brave deed.”

“How was that?” inquired Captain Dunham, very much interested.

“Why, right after the horse had been stopped, the two young men hurried
away. But Mr. Strong’s cap was picked up by a policeman on the drive,
and the fact that his name was inside it made it easy to trace him,”
said the Chief of Police. “And, incidentally, I also want to shake this
young man’s hand. His marooning of that gang of rascals on the roof of
the ‘Fair Wind’ was the cleverest bit of work I’ve heard of in many a
long day. They are all in for long terms in jail, too.”

“What about the reward, Chief?” asked the captain.

“That, of course, is a Federal matter, as the smuggling charges are not
under our jurisdiction. And now, if I may, I would like to take this
young man’s deposition, inasmuch as the fleet is to sail to-morrow.”

“Very well. There need be no delay,” said the captain.

“But pardon me, sir, I must take it before a notary public.”

“Is that so? Well, in that case, Strong, I will give you shore leave
till midnight. You have earned it.”

“Thank you, sir,” rejoined Ned, his cup of joy brimful, “and--and, sir,
may----”

“May Taylor, your inseparable, accompany you? Yes, by all means. This
will give you lads an opportunity to accept the kind invitation of Mr.
Bretherton to dinner. Now be off, my lad, and you can go ashore in the
Chief’s launch. The steamer will be at the landing at midnight. Don’t
fail to be there.”

“Oh, no, sir!”

Ned saluted and hastened to get ready for his shore trip. What a
wonderful day it had been, he thought, as he looked about for Herc to
impart the news to him!



CHAPTER X. ACROSS THE PACIFIC.


“Eight bells, sir.”

“Make it so,” responded the captain in the time-honored formula of the
navy to the petty officer who had just informed him that it was high
noon.

The _Manhattan_ from stem to stern presented a busy scene. From her
tops and bridge stations the wig-wag flags were busily signaling the
orders of the flag-ship to the rest of the squadron. A stiff northwest
wind was blowing, and before it small white clouds were scudding like
clippers across a bright blue California sky.

From the stacks of each of the grim sea bulldogs, black clouds of smoke
were vomiting, and semaphore arms were jerking up and down frantically.
On the bridges of every ship of the squadron stood the officers in
full uniform. On the bridge of the _Manhattan_, of course, was the
rear-admiral, a bluff, hearty seaman known the world over as “Fighting
Bob.” From the after truck of the dreadnought’s cage masts fluttered
his insignia.

The steamer came off with the last mails from the shore and was swung
hastily into her davits. Below in the engine-rooms and boiler spaces,
the great vessels of the squadron throbbed and hummed with pent-up
energy. It was as if they were impatient to get to sea once more after
the royal time they had enjoyed in San Francisco. From the gaff of each
ship of the long line fluttered proudly Old Glory.

“What a sight, eh, Herc?” remarked Ned to his red-headed chum as, being
temporarily unemployed, the two found a chance to look about and to
chat.

“Never could have seen anything like this if we’d stayed at home on the
farm,” grinned Herc. “Although, speaking of the farm, the ships do
remind me of a long line of gray geese with the old _Manhattan_, the
daddy gander, that shows ’em the way.”

“Well, I never saw geese that gave out black or any other colored
smoke,” chuckled Ned, “nor do geese have funnels sticking up out of
their backs. Otherwise your comparison is all right, Herc.”

A messenger came bustling up to them and thrust two packages into their
hands.

“Just come off on the steamer,” he said.

“Now what in the world can this be?” wondered Ned as he opened his
package, while Herc did the same. When the coverings were torn off,
within each was revealed a purple plush box. Within these, in turn,
nestling in beds of white satin, were two gold watches. On the back of
each was this inscription: “_Presented in token of appreciation of a
gallant act. San Francisco, 19----._”

The boys’ eyes sparkled. No need to ask from whom the handsome presents
came. The consul at dinner the night before had hinted at gifts, but
that they were to be such magnificent ones had never entered the boys’
heads.

They had small time to admire them, however. Orders came to take
stations, and each lad hastened to his turret to get everything in
readiness for the good-bye salute of twenty-one guns.

The decks were in what to a landsman would have seemed hopeless
confusion. Yet, underlying all was the system that has made our navy
what it is. Orders were passing rapidly, bos’uns’ pipes screaming
shrilly, and Jackies running hither and thither like so many ants when
their nest has been disturbed.

High up on the lofty bridge, Commander Dunham and the admiral surveyed
the scene.

“I think we are ready, sir,” said the admiral at length.

The captain saluted and turned to the executive officer who stood
beside him.

“All ready, Mr. Jenks,” he said.

The executive officer saluted, and then came a hoarse hail through his
megaphone while the wig-waggers on the _Manhattan_ transmitted the
signal, “Up anchor,” to the other ships of the squadron.

“Up anchor!” bellowed Mr. Jenks.

The band crashed out into “The Girl I Left Behind Me,” swinging into
“Nancy Lee,” “Auld Lang Syne” and other favorites. The blue-jackets
grabbed each other around the waist and pirouetted about on the
foc’scle like schoolboys. Some sang with the band until “Boom! Boom!
Boom!” the stately measured farewell to San Francisco began to boom
from the steel mouths of the big guns.

“Anchors shipped, sir!” sang out a middy from the forepart of the ship.

“Slow speed ahead!” ordered the captain to the ensign at the
engine-room telegraph.

“Aye, aye, sir!”

“Both engines.”

The _Manhattan_ slowly swung around and headed to sea, with her big
guns belching yellow smoke and flashes of scarlet flame. Ashore, every
whistle in the city sent up a deafening roar of screeching and hooting.
The wharves and tall buildings on the water-front, black with people,
added to the din.

Slowly, and in stately fashion, the huge dreadnought maneuvered till
her bow pointed straight for the historic Golden Gate. Each ship of the
squadron followed at a measured distance of four hundred yards. From
each came clouds of smoke, the fulminating roar of the big guns and the
crashing of bands.

Up on the signal halliards of the _Manhattan_ went a string of bunting.

“Increase distance to sixteen hundred yards.”

Gradually and as perfectly measured as if they had been figures in a
minuet, the great fighting ships lengthened the distance between each
other.

Out through the Golden Gate they steamed “in column,” and as they
passed the twin headlands, the guns from the forts on either side
answered the barking throats of the fleet’s heavy artillery. Out past
the Farallones they steamed, keeping perfect distance or “interval,” as
it is called, between each ship.

“Say, Herc,” remarked Ned, when after the firing was over he rejoined
his chum on the foc’scle, “I’ve been doing some figuring. Do you know
how much water this fleet displaces?”

“I haven’t the smidge of an idea, ship-mate.”

“Well, just about five hundred thousand tons of water.”

Herc peered over the side and then looked around in a puzzled way.

“What’s become of it all?”

“Of what?”

“Of all that misplaced water.”

“Oh, it’s just distributed about. It is merely a technical term.”

“I suppose the misplaced water goes to the same place that your lap
goes to when you stand up,” commented Herc, grinning broadly.

“I reckon that’s about it, Herc. Isn’t it good to get to sea again,
though? They gave us a fine time in ’Frisco, but, after all, a sailor’s
place is out on the ocean.”

“That accounts for so many recruits being all at sea,” rejoined Herc
whimsically.

On the bridge of each ship stood a middy working a little instrument of
bars and glasses and wheels, graduated to a scale of figures and called
a stadimeter. It showed to a fraction of an inch the exact distance
each ship was from the one preceding her, and according to the readings
of this instrument the number of revolutions of the ship’s propellers
would be slowed down or speeded up.

This involved incessant watchfulness, and was calculated to keep the
bridge officers on the jump. Everything in Uncle Sam’s navy must be
done with a precision almost incomprehensible to a landsman, but which
forms a part of every seaman’s training.

Looking back and watching the long line of “gray geese,” as Herc had
called them, Ned gave a sudden exclamation. From the signal-yard of the
_Louisiana_, the third ship in line, there suddenly fluttered a white
triangular pennant with a red border.

“Oh, wow!” yelled Herc. “There’s the old Luzzy out of line again.”

“She’s the hardest ship to steer in the whole squadron,” rejoined Ned.

The signal that the ship in question had just displayed meant that she
was more than forty yards out of the way. This was duly noted against
her on board the flag-ship, and it may be imagined that the officer on
duty hated to have to send that signal aloft.

The Farallones were mere tiny clouds on the eastern horizon, as the sun
went down with a glow of burnished gold in the west that seemed like
a benediction. Just as it sank below the horizon, the rays shone on
the sullen, lead-colored sides of the grim sea-fighters, giving them a
softened touch. To a landsman it would have appeared a beautiful sight.
But to Ned and Herc, and to most of the sailors on board, that sunset
bore a different significance.

“We’re in for a blow,” declared Ned.

“Storm of some sort, that’s as sure as shooting,” rejoined Herc.

Up on the bridge the officers were discussing the outlook.

“The glass is falling rapidly, sir,” reported the navigating officer to
Commander Dunham.

“Yes; we are in for some sort of bad weather,” was the response. “Have
all made snug.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

As the sun dipped below the horizon, bugles began to sing, and on the
foremost main-truck, the stern and the sides of every vessel in that
long line, appeared simultaneously flashing lights. Night time had shut
down on the fleet as it rolled across the vast Pacific wastes.

Other lights began to twinkle and glimmer through the gloom like the
illuminated windows of a small city after night has fallen. Behind the
great ships streamed a dark, sullen storm cloud of black smoke.

The supper call came and the crew sat down to a meal of beef pot-pie,
jelly, bread and butter and tea. Conversation ran mainly on the
prospects of the voyage and the lands they were to visit. Many of the
old tars had been in the far East and the Mediterranean before, and
these regaled the youngsters with many stories of their experiences.
Naturally this talk only served to sharpen the appetites of the sailors
who awaited their arrival in the Orient with avidity. Then, too, Ned’s
rounding up of the recalcitrant stragglers was discussed, and the
sentences meted out to the culprits were approved. Of course, Ned and
Herc had to show their handsome gold watches, also, and explain the
story connected with them.

After supper the Jackies talked and lounged,--those that were off duty,
that is. Then came tattoo, and following that the long, melancholy
sweet notes of “Taps,” which is the bugle’s way of saying good-night.
The sky was heavily overcast and the sea was beginning to heave and
roll under the twenty-thousand-ton dreadnought as the bugles sang
plaintively the sailors’ bed-time call:

“Go to sleep! Go to sleep! G-o t-o s-l-e-e-p!”



CHAPTER XI. IN THE GRIP OF THE STORM.


Before dawn, huge green seas were cascading over the forecastle and
the ponderous steel mass of the big dreadnought was wallowing in the
water-rows like a storm-tossed schooner. Occasionally a mighty comber
would strike the bow a glancing blow, and then the spray flew high in a
glistening waterspout over the bridge and high up on the cage masts.

Tons of salt water swept across the quarter-deck from time to time,
burying it in a swirling, surging whirlpool, which gushed off in every
direction as the great ship rose once more, shaking herself like a huge
water animal.

The Jackies shouted with glee as each huge wave swept down on the
battlecraft, threatening to engulf even its titanic mass. A mighty
sea would tower majestically high above the forecastle like a great
wall of green water. The Jackies would scuttle to places of safety
and then burst into enthusiastic yells as it flooded the fore-decks,
swept around the forward turret, sent tons of spray dashing against the
bridge and upper works and finally swept on, to be followed by another
monstrous gray-back.

All watches were set, for in the spray and flying spume it was almost
as hard to see ahead as if a fog overhung the ocean. As the day wore on
the sea grew higher instead of moderating. Breakfast and dinner were
eaten out of tin pannikins, for nothing would have stayed on the table.
The blue-jackets thought all this fine fun, and shouted every time the
ship took an extra heavy plunge.

On the bridge a consultation was held. It was all very well for the
dreadnought, this plunging ahead through the mountainous seas at a
fifteen-knot clip, but the smaller vessels couldn’t stand it so well.

A wireless message was sent out to reduce speed to ten knots an hour
and extra men were ordered into the tops to help the other lookouts.
Ned was assigned to the after cage mast. He sprang upon the iron-runged
ladder leading aloft with agility. He was glad to have something to
do, for of course the ordinary routine work of the ship was out of the
question with the ship rolling till her indicator showed twenty degrees
of heeling.

Accustomed as Ned was to climbing in high places, his head swam a
bit as he paused half way up for breath and to dash the spray from
his eyes. He looked down. A hundred feet below him was a boiling,
foam-flecked sea, running mountains high. Viewed from that height, the
_Manhattan_ looked to be very narrow and unseaworthy, and her decks
appeared to be constantly awash.

Now and then, when an extra big wave came along, she would swing over
till it seemed as if she never meant to come back on an even keel
again. Cinders and gases from the big funnels swept about the boy at
times, too, adding to his discomfort.

But Ned was pretty well hardened to most of these things by this time,
and his pause was mainly to get some of the salt water out of his
mouth, eyes and nose. Then up he went again, clambering on the slippery
rungs with such speed that from the bridge below came a bellowed order
through a megaphone:

“Careful aloft there!”

“Aye, aye, sir!” hailed back Ned at the top of his voice and waved a
hand to show that he was all right.

At length he reached the top, a small platform mounted by machine guns
and surrounded by a steel rail. At one place there was an opening in
this rail, across which a rope had been stretched. It looked very thin,
small and unsubstantial to guard an open space more than a hundred
feet above the ship’s deck, but it was quite strong enough for the
blue-jackets, who gave little thought to such matters.

As he gained the top, Ned received a surprise. The other man aloft was
Sharp, the seaman he had taken out of the Chinese den in San Francisco.
He had received, thanks to Ned’s lack of malice, only a short sentence
in the brig and was now on duty again.

“Hullo, Sharp,” said Ned pleasantly, as he clambered into the top.

Sharp scowled at him but didn’t say anything at the moment.

“I’m glad to see that you’re out again,” pursued Ned. “I hope you don’t
bear any malice, Sharp. I was only doing my duty.”

“Oh, that’s what all you precious mamma’s babies say,” growled out
Sharp in a sullen tone.

His rage suddenly flared up.

“I’ve got it in for you, Strong,” he snarled.

“Don’t talk foolishly, Sharp. Only fools and children nurse a grudge.
It’s all over so far as I’m concerned, and you know I tried to let you
off as easy as I could at the mast.”

“What of that? My shore leave is being stopped, ain’t it? I don’t get
ashore at Honolulu.”

“Well, you must admit that that isn’t my fault,” said Ned.

“I don’t admit anything of the sort,” snarled Sharp. “If it hadn’t been
for your Sunday-school way of sneaking around, the fleet would have
sailed without me.”

“You’re a nice navy man, I must say,” said Ned contemptuously, turning
on his heel.

“Just as good as you are, and maybe better, Mister Know-it-all. I’ve
been in the service twenty years, and----”

“You are still where you started.”

Ned, ordinarily the most even tempered of lads, was beginning to resent
Sharp’s slurring tone and could not have foregone this thrust.

Sharp’s face grew as dark as the slate-colored sea racing by far below
them. He approached Ned with his eyes blazing like hot coals.

“So you’ll make game of me, eh, my young rooster? Well, you’ll regret
it to the last day you live; I tell you that right here and now.”

“Oh, don’t bother me, unless you can talk sense,” said Ned impatiently.

“I’ll talk sense fast enough. I hate you, Strong.”

“Thank you. I am not aching for your friendship.”

A sudden frenzy of rage appeared to possess Sharp. He jumped forward
and seized Ned, shaking his fist. The other shook him off with a quick
movement.

“Are you _mad_, Sharp? Suppose any of the officers saw you?”

“I don’t care if they did. I’m through with the navy. I’m going to quit
it, first chance I get. The service has gone to the dogs when they
promote sugar-babies like you to be petty officers.”

Ned leaned over the edge of the top. He didn’t want to make the man
more furious by replying to him. It was plain that Sharp was lashing
himself into a malevolent rage.

“But before I quit the service, I’ll get even with you!” he roared.

Still Ned made no reply. He turned and walked across the top. He was
passing by the open space, which was only railed off by the slender
rope previously referred to, when the ship gave a sudden lurch. At the
same instant he felt a shove from behind.

Powerless to stop himself, Ned was sent staggering toward the rope. He
fell against it with all his weight. The stuff snapped like pack-thread.

Ned plunged through the opening head downward, and it seemed inevitable
that he would fall into the boiling, leaping sea more than a hundred
feet below!



CHAPTER XII. NED’S TERRIBLE PLIGHT.


Time seemed to stand still and the world to poise on its poles as Ned
shot through the narrow opening. A thunder boom sounded in his ears and
his soul appeared to be flying from his mouth.

With quick instinct--it was no conscious effort of will,--he had spread
his legs as he fell, turning his feet outward, as he had often done in
the gymnasium when hanging from a bar. It was that swift movement, and
that alone, that saved him from plunging straight down to the depths of
the sea or striking the iron decks so far below him.

There he clung, head downward, sustained only by the grip of his feet
on two steel posts. Every muscle of his body was strained to its utmost
tension. His brain seemed bursting. With every heave and roll of the
ship he was swung far out and then back again, with every likelihood
that if his foothold was not broken his head would be dashed against a
steel brace.

Below from the bridge came a horrified cry:--

“Great Scott, sir! Look at that!”

“It’s Gunner’s-Mate Strong!” groaned the Captain.

“Look, sir, the other man, Sharp, his name is, has seen his plight.
He’s trying to haul him aboard.”

“Good heavens, they’ll both go! Man the mast there! Jump aloft! Look
alive, men! Poor boy! Poor boy!”

Up the ladder sprang a red-headed youth. It was Herc, and behind him
swarmed a half dozen Jackies who had seen the peril of their ship-mate.

“Oh, they’ll never save him! Never!” cried the navigating officer with
a groan.

Suddenly a second horrified shout went up from bridge and deck. Ned
had made a frantic effort to grab the mast on one of his wild swings.
At the same instant Sharp appeared to be laying hold of his feet to
try and drag him back into the top. Those who had set up that groan of
dismay had seen Ned’s feet suddenly slip out of position.

“He’s gone!” cried the captain, half turning away.

Some of the crew shut their eyes. Ned had lost his hold and was doomed
either to be drowned,--for in that sea it would have been impossible to
launch a boat,--or else to be dashed to atoms on the steel decks of the
dreadnought.

But the next instant a glad cry of renewed hope went up. It was a yell,
a frantic shout of encouragement and joy.

Ned had somehow managed, by the instinct of self-preservation, to seize
a stay, and there he hung, swaying wildly back and forth as the ship
rolled, but still gripping it in a firm grasp.

“Can he hang on?”

That was the question that agitated every man who was watching the
lad’s plucky battle for life.

“Stick to it, Ned!” cried the sailors encouragingly.

“Hang on, old boy! We’ll help you out of it in a brace of shakes.”

But these cries, meant to encourage Ned, were not practical of
execution. It was manifestly impossible to reach him. His salvation lay
in his own hands and he must work it out alone.

Herc had, by this time, reached the top and now hung over the rail in
an agony of apprehension. There hung his comrade, twenty feet below
him, dangling high above the decks on a slender wire stay and he was
as powerless to aid him as if he had been a hundred miles away. But he
shouted encouragement.

Suddenly there came a voice at his back. It was Sharp.

“He’s a goner for sure,” he muttered indifferently.

Herc faced around on him like a thunderbolt. His red hair bristled like
the hackles on an angry dog.

“Say that again, will you?” he demanded fiercely, his freckled fists
clenching.

“I only said that there wasn’t a chance for him to get away with it,”
rejoined Sharp, a leer spreading over his countenance. “He stands no
more chance of being saved than a snowball in a furnace.”

“Oh, you think so, do you? Well, just let me tell you one thing, Ned
Strong has got out of worse scrapes than the one he’s in right now.
If it’s humanly possible, he’ll save himself yet, in spite of such
croakers as you.”

Sharp slunk away before Herc’s broadside. He could not meet the other’s
eyes.

“I did all I could to keep him from falling, but I couldn’t get him
in,” he muttered.

A sudden shout from the decks attracted Herc’s attention at this
moment. He rushed to the edge of the top and beheld the most amazing
specimen of grit in the face of overwhelming odds that he had ever
witnessed.

The stay which Ned had caught stretched between the fore and the after
masts. From it were suspended the signal halliards, the nether end of
which ropes were on the bridge. Hand over hand, and painfully slowly,
Ned was working himself along this stay. He appeared to have lost his
presence of mind for the time being, for, instead of coming back to the
after mast, he began working his way forward.

“Come back! Come back!” yelled Herc frenziedly.

“The other way! The other!” shouted officers and men, but Ned appeared
not to hear them.

“Oh, he’ll never make it!” groaned Captain Dunham. “Poor lad! Poor lad!”

And now began a spectacle that none of those who beheld it ever forgot.
It was photographed indelibly on the minds of every witness, officer
and enlisted man.

It was seen that, provided Ned could hold on long enough, his progress
must bring him above the funnels, belching hot, suffocating gases and
blinding, cinder-laden smoke. Captain Dunham sent a man below to order
the fires smothered instantly so as to minimize the amount of vapor
issuing from the funnels.

“I don’t believe that the lad has one chance in a thousand,” he said
with an unaccustomed quaver in his voice, “but we’ll leave nothing
undone to help him out.”

“That’s just the trouble, sir,” rejoined the navigating officer,
“there’s so little we can do. It’s almost unbearable to have to stand
here helplessly and watch that brave struggle.”

Discipline for the time being was entirely forgotten. The sailors
crowded on the fore-decks, oblivious to showers of spray and water, and
shouted encouragement at the tops of their voices.

“Keep it up, boy! Oh, keep it up!” yelled a hundred hoarse throats.

“Come on! Come on! Not much farther now! Oh, stick to it, Ned! Stick to
it!”

“Ned! Ned, old boy, we’re all with you!” howled poor Herc, almost
beside himself. His face under the tan was ashen gray, and his freckles
stood out like ink spots on blotting paper.

With anxiety and interest keyed up to a pitch that was almost
unbearable, Ned continued to advance. The smoke from the funnels was
perceptibly lessened by this time. The engineers, apprised of what was
going on, had shut off all draughts, and if Ned could only maintain his
grip he would be able to make the passage above the four huge smoke
pipes without being suffocated.

His objective point was now plain. It was the signal halliards that he
was making for.

“Rig up a bos’un’s chair and send it aloft on those halliards,” roared
Captain Dunham.

In a jiffy the plank seat was attached to the halliards and sent aloft
to the stay along which Ned was slowly but surely advancing.

His head was quite clear now and his fighting spirit was up. He would
make those halliards. With every sense that was in him he exerted his
will to reach the goal he was aiming for.

All at once he let go with one hand for an instant.

A mighty groan, concentrated in a hundred voices, went up.

“He’s falling!”

But no, Ned had only paused for a minute to draw himself up on the stay
so that he could rest his aching muscles for the final spurt. Then he
resumed his torturingly slow progress.

“Oh, I can’t stand this much longer!” cried Herc, beside himself with
suspense and excitement.

“He’s coming ahead again!” went up the cry, as Ned began worming
himself along once more.

“So he is! Good boy!”

“Come on, ship-mate! You’re on the home-stretch!” shouted another
voice.

“We’ve got the tow-rope! Come on for the old _Manhattan_!”

A perfect babel of sound resounded along the decks. The officers made
no attempt to check it. They were as excited as the men themselves.

Ned reached the signal halliards at last. A score of hands seized the
free end of the rope to which the bos’un’s chair was attached and
lowered the exhausted lad to the bridge, as soon as he had clambered,
with a Jackie’s dexterity, into the swaying contrivance.

What a roar arose then!

“He’s made it!”

“Hip! hip! hurray!”

In the after top Herc, tears streaming down his face, danced a wild jig
of jubilation, while on the fore-deck Jackies threw their arms around
each other and shook each other’s hands and performed a hundred mad
antics. On the bridge the officers stood with sternly compressed lips,
but from the captain there broke out a fervent:--

“Thank God!”

As Ned, white-faced but smiling bravely, touched the bridge, he was
hauled out of the bos’un’s chair by a score of hands, and for a minute
he needed the support. But he rallied as he faced the captain and
saluting said:--

“Come aboard, sir!”

“Great heavens, Strong, you gave us all the scare of our lives!” said
the captain, with a great sigh of relief.

“I’m sorry, sir,” rejoined Ned, “I somehow missed my footing and----”

“That’s it. How did it happen?” demanded the captain.

“Just as I said, sir. I missed my footing and fell against that
rope-yarn. It carried away and I went through.”

“Strong, you are keeping something back.”

“No, sir. That’s how it happened to the best of my knowledge and
belief.”

“Very well, if there’s nothing further to report, I’m not going to
heckle you now. Mr. James, see that the ropes on the top openings are
replaced by pipe rails. We want no repetition of to-day’s experience.
As it is, I don’t believe that there is another man in the fleet that
would have come out of the ordeal alive. Where are you going, Strong?”

“Back to my post, sir. I’m all right,” replied Ned respectfully.

“Nonsense. You’ve been through enough to incapacitate most lads for a
week. Go below and take it easy. Carry on.”

This was tantamount to an order, and Ned, although he disliked to go
off duty at such a time, had no recourse but to obey. As he passed
along the decks, the blue-jackets crowded about him to press his hand
and cheer him. Through the throng Herc pushed his way, having descended
from the after mast at express speed.

“Good boy, Ned! Oh, good boy!” was all that he said as he wrung his
comrade’s hand, but his voice held an unaccustomed quaver as he spoke
and Ned saw what an ordeal Herc had been through.

“It’s all over now, Herc,” said Ned lightly.

“That fellow Sharp, had he----?”

“I don’t know. I’d accuse no man of such a dastardly thing. But I
thought, only thought, mind you, that I felt a shove as I fell.”

“If I thought----”

“Now see here, Herc, don’t breathe a word of this. In times like that a
fellow might imagine anything. It might all be fancy on my part.”

But, although Ned passed the matter off in this way, he had a well
defined impression, which refused to be obliterated, that at the moment
that he was sent staggering to leeward in the top he had received an
accelerating shove. Henceforth he resolved to watch Sharp narrowly.
He knew that the man hated him with all the malice of a small, mean
nature; but that he would actually attempt such a thing as Ned was
forced to suspect of him, the Dreadnought Boy was loath to believe.



CHAPTER XIII. “FIRE!”


It was the third day of the gale. Life-lines had been rigged on the
fore and aft decks, and the Jackies clawed their way about as best they
might. Mountainous seas still towered all about the great fighting
ship, tossing her about as they might have handled a fishing smack.
The men who had at first looked upon the storm as a lark began to be
disgusted with the monotony of cold rations, eaten as best they might
be, and the never ceasing motion of the storm tossed ship.

A man-of-war, from the fact that she carries such a heavy deck load in
the shape of her turrets and big guns, not to mention her ponderous
cage masts, rolls to a much greater extent than an ordinary craft, and
the _Manhattan_ proved no exception to the rule. The great mass of
steel that in harbor looked as impossible to disturb as the Rock of
Gibraltar itself, was a plaything of the gale and the seas.

The wireless kept the rear-admiral and the commander informed of all
that was going on on board the other craft of the squadron, and all
reported that they were making good weather of it, despite the fury
of the sea. But speed was still kept down to ten knots, and it was
only when the _Manhattan_ rose on the top of a big comber that those
on board, except the men kept constantly stationed in the tops, could
sight the other ships steaming on through the storm in column formation.

Many of the greener hands were incapacitated by sea-sickness, and
several seamen were in the ship’s hospital for minor injuries incurred
on the decks. Orders had been issued that the men were to take no
chances, and those not on duty were to remain below. Ned and Herc,
being petty officers, were on duty every day during that week, and on
the third day of the blow they found a moment’s leisure to chat in the
lee of the big thirteen-inch turret forward.

“Well, this is a corker and no mistake,” remarked Herc. “I thought that
‘Pacific’ meant nice and gentle and all that. This ocean is just about
as quiet as a mad bear with the toothache.”

“It’s about as bad a blow as we’ve been in since we were in the
service,” agreed Ned; “but a ship like this is in no danger. It is just
uncomfortable, that’s all, and we will have to put up with it like
sailors till it decides to quit.”

“That’s so, I suppose,” said Herc, “but I’m getting sick of being wet
through all the time.”

“You’re no worse off than any of the rest of us, Herc,” laughed Ned;
“and say, by the way, have you noticed a peculiar odor about the ship
for the last few hours?”

“A sort of rotten-eggy smell?” asked Herc.

“Well, I suppose that describes it as well as anything else. But,
Herc,” and here Ned came close to his comrade, “I’m almost sure that
the odor is that of coal gas.”

“Coal gas! Where from?”

“From the coal bunkers, of course.”

“What of it?”

“Just this, that I think we ought to investigate. I don’t want to cause
an alarm without due cause, but if there is coal gas coming from the
bunkers, it means only one thing.”

Herc was struck by the gravity of Ned’s voice. He faced around on him.

“What do you mean?”

“I heard a fireman say that the coal we took on at ’Frisco was damp
when it was loaded. It has been rolled about now for three days in this
storm, setting up a lot of friction.”

“Yes.”

“Well, that odor of coal gas may mean spontaneous combustion.”

“That’s too deep for me. Sponbustible what?”

“In other words, fire!”

“Fire!”

Herc’s face blanched. There is no more terrible word at sea, and no
wonder Ned had hesitated to voice his suspicions before. On an ordinary
ship it is bad enough, but on a floating arsenal of high explosives,
such as is the modern fighting ship, it has an added terror.

“Gracious, Ned! Don’t, for goodness sake, say a word of this! You’ll
have the whole ship in a scare.”

“That is just why I don’t mean to say anything till I’m sure. I’ve
noticed that the odor is strongest by those port ventilating pipes
yonder. I’m going over to investigate again. Want to join me?”

“Surely. But, Ned, great Scott, this is a mighty serious thing if
you’re right!”

“Serious! That’s no name for it. That is why I want to make dead sure
before I report my suspicions.”

The two boys made their way, not without difficulty, to the port
ventilating pipes mentioned by Ned. These pipes are especially designed
to ventilate the coal carried in necessarily large quantities by
cruising battleships.

As almost everyone is aware, there is no more dangerous cargo than
coal, especially if it has been loaded while damp. Spontaneous
combustion is the dreaded foe of all colliers, and a modern battleship
carries to the full as much coal as the ordinary collier. No wonder,
then, that every precaution is taken to guard against the combustion of
the dangerous cargo.

“Now,” said Ned, as they approached the ventilators, “do you notice how
much stronger the odor is here?”

“I should say I did. It smells like the old furnace did at home when
something went wrong with it.”

Ned went up to one of the ventilators and poked his face against the
opening. He staggered back coughing and choking. As he did so, from
the ventilator’s mouth came a tiny wisp of yellowish-green smoke. It
was instantly whipped away by the wind. But both boys had seen it.
There was no longer room for any doubt.

The constant rolling and plunging of the ship combined with the
dampness of the coal taken on at San Francisco, had caused spontaneous
combustion to be set up, and the port bunkers of the _Manhattan_ were
on fire!

“There’s no doubt about it now,” breathed Ned to Herc, in what was
almost a whisper.

He knew to the full what a grave situation faced them. Of course, the
lucky fact that he had discovered the fire before it had, presumably,
made much headway, was in favor of its quick suppression. But it was
not a thing to be faced lightly.

“What are you going to do?” asked Herc.

“Inform the captain at once.”

“On the bridge?”

“Yes. It may be a breach of discipline, but it’s a case where
necessity goes ahead of etiquette.”

“Why don’t you send word by an orderly?”

“Because the news would leak out all over the ship and cause no end of
flurry and excitement. As it is, they may be able to check the fire’s
headway without anyone being any the wiser till the danger is all over.”

Ned started for the bridge. As he did so another little puff of smoke,
the danger signal of impending calamity, issued from the ventilator.
There was no time to be lost, and Ned knew it as he hastened aft with
his alarming intelligence.



CHAPTER XIV. FIGHTING THE FLAMES AT SEA.


“You are sure of what you say, my lad?”

Captain Dunham put the question to Ned after the lad had breathlessly
related to him his alarming discovery. High up on the bridge, his face
lined by care and sleepless nights, the captain looked far different
from the gilded idol that he was in calm weather or in port. He was
clad in oil-skins like any old salt on a whaler.

“Absolutely, sir. I didn’t dare to say anything till I was quite
positive.”

“Very good, my lad,” said the captain, without betraying a trace of
the grave alarm that he must have felt for the safety of his ship.
“Daniels,” he turned to a quartermaster, “send Mr. Briggs to me at
once,--at once, do you hear?”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

Daniels hurried off on his errand. Ned stood waiting the captain’s next
orders.

“When Mr. Briggs comes on deck, I’m going to send you with him to show
him where you discovered the fire, always supposing there is one,”
said the captain. “Of course, you haven’t said anything about this to
anyone?”

“No, sir, of course not, only to Coxswain Taylor, who was with me.”

“That’s right. A report such as that spreading through the ship might
cause untold trouble.”

Mr. Briggs, a big, active man, soon came bustling up. He saluted and
awaited the captain’s orders.

“Briggs, Gunner’s-Mate Strong, here, tells me that he thinks he has
discovered a fire in the forward port bunkers.”

Mr. Briggs nodded. For all the emotion that the two trained officers
displayed they might have been discussing some ordinary matter of ship
routine, instead of the vital danger which Ned had brought to the
captain’s attention.

“The forward bunkers on that side of the ship are next to the forward
magazines for Number One turret, are they not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You will have the intervening bulkhead flooded at once. Strong tells
me that he heard that the coal in that bunker was damp when it was
shipped in San Francisco. Is that right?”

“It is, sir. It was the best we could get. I’ve been afraid of this
very thing and have had men watching the bunkers since we sailed. The
fire must have started at the top.”

“My idea exactly. The friction and disturbance caused by the ship’s
rolling must have set it on fire. Strong, take Mr. Briggs to the
ventilator where you discovered the smoke. Mr. Briggs, will you make
as speedy an examination as possible and report back to me? First,
however, give orders to have the space between the magazine and the
bunker flooded.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

Followed by Ned, the chief engineer turned from the bridge and made his
way to the main deck. He instructed one of his assistant engineers to
have the latter part of the captain’s orders carried out at once.

The young engineer asked no questions, although he raised his eyebrows
at the order.

“I’ll see that it is done at once, sir,” said he and hastened off.

“Now, my lad,” said Mr. Briggs, “show me where you saw this smoke
issuing.”

Ned lost no time in escorting the officer to the pipe from whence he
had noted the alarming symptoms first. As they came abreast of the
pipe, all doubt that a mistake might have been made was removed. Puffs
of sulphurous smoke were coming from it in a constant stream now. Mr.
Briggs looked very grave.

“I’m sorry to say, Strong, that your conclusions were certainly
correct,” he said. “That bunker is on fire.”

Captain Dunham received the chief engineer’s report without moving a
muscle of his face.

“We must take immediate steps to fight the fire,” he said. “The
partition is flooded?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good. Strong, you will go to the master-at-arms and tell him to
assign you a squad of at least twenty men. They must be silent about
their detail and you will instruct the master-at-arms to say nothing.
You will report to Mr. Briggs in the fire-room and he will direct you
what to do.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Carry on.”

Ned hastened off while the two officers remained in grave consultation
on the bridge.

“Nasty situation, Briggs,” said Captain Dunham.

“Very, sir. The storm makes it all the worse. It is dangerous work in
the bunkers in such weather as this. There’s some fear, too, of the
coal sliding as the men get it out, even though we’ve got it timbered.”

“Then your plan is to empty the bunker?”

“If necessary, sir. Half-way measures will be no good in a case of this
kind. We shall have to get the coal out from below till we reach the
fire.

“Very good. I leave the matter in your hands. Try not to let the news
leak out, although I suppose it is bound to.”

“I’m afraid so, sir. You can’t keep the firemen quiet, and they are
bound to know about it as soon as the special squad goes to work.”

“Well, do the best you can, Briggs.”

“You can rely on me, sir. That Strong is a smart young fellow. If it
hadn’t been for him we might not have known of the blaze till it was
too late.”

“He is one of the brightest fellows on board,” said the captain warmly,
“that is why I am putting him in charge of this squad. Don’t let them
expose themselves unnecessarily to danger, Briggs.”

“I will not, sir.”

Mr. Briggs saluted and departed below. In less time than he would have
thought possible Ned and his twenty picked men joined him below. Among
the fire-fighters was Herc. They were all responsible men, chosen
for their ability and experience. They must have known that their
task was going to be difficult to a degree and dangerous, too. But no
traces of anxiety appeared on their faces. Such is the training of a
man-o’-war’s-man. He is taught not to flinch from any duty but to obey
all orders implicitly, even though he may sometimes doubt their wisdom.

The fire-room was new territory to most of the men on the special
fire-fighting squad. It was a place of darkness illumined only by
glaring lights which shone through a haze of black coal dust like
lamps in a fog, of sweating, half-naked firemen, of gleaming tongues
of flame and hissing jets of steam, of heat almost insupportable; and
the air was filled with a vibration that hummed like the bass string
of some gigantic viol under the tremendous force imprisoned in the
high-pressure boilers.

Mr. Briggs explained to the men what they were to do. Their task was to
get into the bunkers and remove the coal ton by ton till the burning
top part was reached. It was his plan, once this was accomplished, to
flood the bunker by high-pressure pumps and extinguish the fire in the
smoldering coal.

Sacks were brought and the men crawled into the bunker in squads of
three at a time, and as fast as the coal was shoveled into the sacks
it was dragged out by those remaining outside and dumped into an extra
bunker which happened to be almost empty.

The heat was fearful and the men in the bunker could not stand it for
more than fifteen minutes at a time; hence the squad took frequent
turns at the work.

“Phew! This is awful,” panted Herc, as he and Ned, black and begrimed
as any miners, worked side by side in the bunkers. “It’s worse than
being in an oven.”

“Stick to your job, Herc, and don’t talk so much,” counseled Ned,
who was wet and streaming perspiration. “We’re working to save the
ship,--isn’t that enough for you?”

“Suppose the heat should reach the magazine?”

“It can’t; to provide against just such emergencies there is a
partition all around the magazine which can be flooded.”

“It’s flooded now?”

“It is.”

“I’m glad of that. I wouldn’t like to be blown up.”

“As if you would ever know what hit you!”

In silence they shoveled on till their “trick” was finished. Then
in crawled their relief, and so, hour after hour, with a brief
intermission for dinner, the work went on. It was the hardest task
either of the boys had ever tackled. In the bunker the air was foul
with gases and thick with coal dust, which got in their eyes, nostrils
and mouths, blinding and choking them. Their hands grew sore and they
ached cruelly in every limb. But they stuck doggedly to their task,
“working to save the ship.”

Begrimed with black, and panting, men would stumble out of the bunker
as their “trick” was finished and sink down exhausted. But in a few
minutes they would be at it again, striving to keep up their good
spirits by laughing and joking over their task.

“From now on we’ll be the ‘Black Watch’,” said Ned.

“The black diamonds, you mean,” retorted Herc. “There’s one thing on
earth I’d never be.”

“What’s that?”

“A fireman. That isn’t a job, it’s punishment.”

“Just think what this fire-room must be like in time of action
under forced draught!” struck in another man. “I’ve heard that the
temperature runs up to one hundred and twenty degrees sometimes.”

“Wow! They’d bring me out a grease spot,” ejaculated Herc.

Supper was eaten in the fire-room and a brief rest followed, then at
it again they went. And all the time it grew hotter and hotter, till
it seemed that flesh and blood could not stand the strain much longer.
Only their healthy bodies and the clean lives they lived enabled them
to stand up to the work as they did. To make their task harder, too,
the ship was still rolling heavily, and it was difficult to stand
upright at times.

Ned and Herc had just entered the “Black Hole,” as they called it, to
take up their job once more, when Ned’s ear caught a rumbling sound.
The ship gave a heavier roll than usual at that instant, and the next
moment Ned grasped Herc’s arm convulsively.

“Herc! Come on! Get out of here, quick! For your life!”

Together both lads made a leap for the entrance of the bunker. As they
did so, behind them there sounded a mighty roar, like the voice of an
avalanche.

Ned found himself outside the bunker as, dislodged by the rolling of
the ship, tons of coal came sliding down into the place where they had
been digging.

It was not till that instant that he realized that Herc was not beside
him.

He had been too slow to escape the collapse of the coal and was trapped
in a living tomb. Ned’s senses swam, his vision blurred, and for an
instant he thought he was going to collapse.

The other men, alarmed at the sudden roar from within the bunker,
rushed forward. Ned’s glaring eyes and his terrible expression as he
pointed to the bunker apprised them that some accident had happened.

“What’s up?” cried one of them. “What’s happened, ship-mate?”

“The coal--the coal came down on us--and--and--Herc’s inside!” choked
out Ned frenziedly.



CHAPTER XV. A MIRACULOUS ESCAPE.


“Dig, men! Dig for your lives!”

Mr. Briggs, his face pale with anxiety, stood over half a dozen men
who were making the coal fly as they dug into it in search of what
they dreaded to find. Ned, in a state of semi-collapse, stood by the
engineer.

“Now, bear up, Strong,” said that officer, “there’s a chance that he
may be all right. Don’t give way.”

But, although the chief engineer spoke hopefully, he did not entertain
a doubt that Herc must have been crushed into annihilation beneath the
subsided mass of coal. There was just one chance, though, and it was
that which incited the engineer to urge the men engaged in the work of
rescue to work as they had never worked before.

But they needed no urging. Herc was a general favorite on board, and
the thought that he was in there under that mass of coal gave each man
twice the strength that he normally possessed. They dug on, careless of
fatigue under the stimulus of the work in hand. Suddenly one of them
stopped.

“Did you hear something, mates?” he cried excitedly.

“No, what was it?”

“I thought I heard a kind of a tapping sound,” rejoined the man who had
first spoken.

“It’ll be the spirit of the poor lad,” remarked an old sailor who was
one of the diggers.

“Nonsense,” spoke Mr. Briggs sharply, stepping forward. “What did you
say you heard, Adams?”

“I thought I heard a tapping sound, sir; but I couldn’t be sure. Yes;
there it is again! Hark!”

They listened with strained ears. If there was really tapping going on
within the bunker it could only mean one thing, and that was that Herc
was alive!

The next instant they thrilled with excitement. Slowly and not very
loudly amid the manifold noises all about, there came the distinct
sound of a regular tap-tap--tap-tap-tap!

Mr. Briggs, ordinarily self-contained and reserved, gave a jubilant
shout.

“It is the one hope that I held on to in the face of everything!” he
cried. “The boy is alive.”

“But how--how could he have avoided being crushed to death when the
coal fell in?” demanded Ned.

“When that coal was loaded, as is customary, certain board partitions
were put in at intervals to keep it from shifting. When I heard that
the coal had caved in on you, I made up my mind at once that it was
one of these partitions that had been undermined and had given way. My
faint hope that by a miracle Taylor might have been saved, was based
on a desperate belief that by some marvelous chance the boards might
have fallen in such a way as to keep the coal above them from crushing
Taylor’s body.”

As may be imagined, while Mr. Briggs was giving this explanation, the
digging had been resumed with even more frenzied haste than before.

“Stick to it, boy! We’re coming!” shouted the diggers, and each time
they uttered these and other encouraging shouts the tapping came back
in reply.

Ned, half frantic with excitement, had seized upon a shovel and was
digging with might and main. At last their shovels broke through the
coal and penetrated into a hollow space beyond. The beams falling from
above where the bunkers widened out had become wedged in the narrower
part of the bunkers below. In this way a shield had providentially been
interposed between Herc and the ponderous masses of coal above.

As the opening was widened out and Herc’s face appeared, Ned leaped
into the bunker and dragged his chum out amidst the cheers of the men
who had taken part in the rescue.

“Wow!” exclaimed Herc, “that was close quarters in there, all right. I
thought I’d suffocate sure before you got to me.”

“How did it happen?” asked Ned, in a voice still shaky from his shock.
“I thought you were beside me.”

“So I was, but I tripped in the darkness. I remember thinking,
‘Good-bye, everybody!’ as that coal came thundering down. When the
noise stopped I didn’t know whether I was dead or not for a minute.
Then, to my surprise, I found that I could move about. I reached up
a short distance above and I felt some planks. Then I knew what had
happened. They’d got wedged across where the bunker grew narrow at the
bottom and my life was saved.

“But I was scared stiff that I’d die anyhow before you got to me, and
that’s why I kept banging on the planks with my shovel to hurry you up.”

“Well, young man,” said Mr. Briggs, “go up on deck and fill your lungs
with fresh air. You’ve been near enough to death to shake hands with
him. I believe that you two boys must bear charmed lives. Strong, you
may accompany your ship-mate on deck. Carry on, men.”

The work went forward as if nothing out of the way had taken place. On
Uncle Sam’s big fighting ships men are expected to take narrow escapes
much as a matter of course when there is work in hand.

At eight bells, midnight, so much coal had been removed that it was
impossible for the men to work any longer. They were so close to the
fire now that only a thin wall of coal separated them from it. The heat
was terrific. Above, the steel sides of the bunker began to glow with a
dull red color from the seething inferno inside.

Mr. Briggs went on deck and reported to the captain what had been done.
By this time both Ned and Herc had returned to work and taken their
share of the gruelling task just as if nothing had happened to upset
them.

The chief engineer was in a quandary. He dared not try to flood the
bunkers with water. A sudden rush of water on the blazing mass of
red-hot coals would be likely to blow the side out of the ship, or, at
any rate, to cause a serious accident. He was still wrestling with the
problem when he came below. A consultation with his junior officers
followed, but nobody could suggest any solution but to let the fire
burn itself out.

But this Mr. Briggs was unwilling to do. The fire might communicate
to the other bunkers if not promptly checked. At length he decided
to rig steam pipes into the bunkers and throttle the blaze in that
way. The pipes were rigged through the ventilators and then steam at
high pressure was forced through the reënforced hose employed for
the purpose. The experiment was completely successful and by daylight
the _Manhattan_ had escaped a grave peril and the Dreadnought Boys
had passed through an experience which neither of them was likely to
forget for a long time to come. Nor till it was all over did a man of
the crew, except those immediately concerned, know of the dire peril to
which the ship had been exposed.



CHAPTER XVI. A STRANGE CRAFT, INDEED.


It was some days later, long after the storm had blown itself out,
that the fleet was making its fifteen knots in column formation over a
waveless sea, smooth as a mirror under a clear blue sky. The Jackies
lolled about the decks in the hour after dinner, some smoking, some
writing long letters home and some reading or skylarking.

Suddenly Herc shattered the repose of all hands by a loud shout.

“There’s a sail right ahead of us, ship-mates!”

Now the monotony of a sea voyage is always agreeably interrupted by the
sighting of a vessel, and the one Herc had spied was the first to be
encountered since the fleet had sailed from San Francisco. All sorts of
speculations flew about regarding the ship that Herc had sighted.

“Maybe we can send mail home on her,” said some one, and the letter
writers hastened to put their epistles into envelopes and hurried off
to the ship’s writer for stamps.

But they might have saved their efforts. It was Ned who called their
attention to the fact that, inasmuch as the strange craft was a sailing
ship, it was not likely that she would reach America before the mail
steamer from the Sandwich Islands.

The Jackies clustered forward like a swarm of bees watching the ship
as they came closer to her. She was an odd-looking craft, bluff-bowed,
clumsy, and rigged as a barque with short, stumpy masts and wide yards.
In the calm she appeared to be hardly moving and it soon became evident
that they would pass quite close to her.

All sorts of guesses were hazarded as to what the wanderer of the seas
would prove to be.

“She’s a Rooshian, you can tell that by the cut of her jib,” declared
old Harness Cask, knowingly.

“No such thing,” contradicted another ancient mariner, “she’s a whaler.”

“Not she. Where’s her boats?” came from another foc’sle wiseacre.

“Whatever she is, she is an old-timer,” spoke Ned.

“You’re right there, young feller,” growled old Harness Cask. “Afore I
jined the navy I’d sailed on many a craft just like her, but they don’t
build nothing but eighteen knot steel tanks nowadays, an it ain’t often
that a good old barky gets your eye.”

“Aye, aye, all sailoring’s gone adrift,” agreed another veteran of the
seas. “Young chaps nowadays who can handle a paint-brush or a gun are
shoved ahead of them as knows every rope and sail on a ship. It weren’t
so when I was a young feller.”

“No; there’s nothing but ‘monkey-wrench’ sailors to be met with
nowadays,” came from another “sea-lawyer.”

As they drew closer to the strange vessel, they could make out various
odd-looking marks on her sails.

“Crow’s feet!” cried Ned. “Red crow’s feet! What in the name of time is
the reason of that?”

On the bridge, officers stood with glasses leveled at the odd craft
with the strangely bedezined sails.

A sailor who had formerly sailed in the British navy partially
explained the mystery.

“That’s what the Britishers call the broad-arrow’,” he said. “It’s the
mark they put on their convicts’ clothes.”

“But what’s that old ship doing with it?” wondered Ned.

“Hullo, look at that lettering on her bows,” cried Herc a few minutes
later; “can you make it out?”

“Not yet,” responded his companion, “but we’ll be close enough in a
while to read it.”

Not long after, Herc spelled out the inscription on the ship’s bluff
bows.

“_Convict Ship, Victory_,” he read out to the assemblage.

“Oh, that explains it all,” cried Ned. “I remember reading in a
newspaper before we left that the _Victory_ was on her way from
Australia to America to be exhibited. They say that she was built in
1790 and was used for many years to bring out convicts from English
prisons to Australia, which was at that time a convict settlement.
She’s supposed to be just as she was in those days, with whipping
posts, irons, and all sorts of instruments of punishment still intact.”

“Cracky! I’d like to see her,” exclaimed Herc, a wish that was echoed
by not a few. There was a sort of fascination in gazing at the craft
which had been the scene of so much barbarity in the bad old days when
she had been known as a floating inferno.

“Look, they’re signaling something!” cried Herc suddenly as a string of
bunting went up in the stranger’s peak.

“Short of water,” spelled out a signal-man, who happened to be in the
group of interested tars.

“And we’re going to help ’em out, too,” he added soon after, as an
answering string of flags went aloft on the _Manhattan_. “The old man’s
signaling the rest of the fleet to heave to while we help them out.
Maybe you’ll get a chance to see that old hooker, after all,” he added,
turning to the boys.

“If they send away Number One cutter we will,” rejoined Ned, naming the
boat to which both of the Dreadnought Boys were assigned and in which
he pulled stroke oar.

Presently a bos’un’s mate came roaring along the deck.

“Away, Number One cutter! Do you hear!”

“Aye! aye!” cried the sailors assigned to that boat, and headed by
Ned and Herc they hastened to the boat deck, where they found a young
ensign in command. The boat was swiftly lowered and several casks of
water placed on board.

“Give way,” came the command, and the cutter began to move over the
water toward the becalmed ship, Ned setting a swift, deep navy stroke.

As they came alongside, a Jacob’s ladder was snaked over the side
of the old craft, and her crew ranged along the bulwarks looking
admiringly at the trim, sun-burned navy men in the cutter.

A tall man, of gangling build and with a gray goatee came to the
gangway.

“Right glad you could help us out,” he drawled with a strong New
England accent. “We’ve bin uncommon short of water fer ther last ten
days an’ it looked like we would be a floating Sahary afore long, when
you hove in sight.”

The ensign scrambled upon deck and Ned took charge of the conveyance
of the water kegs on board. While they loaded the water into the
_Victory’s_ tanks the captain, whose name was Abner Samuels, was
explaining to the ensign how he had bought the old convict ship
as a speculation and had made quite a lot of money exhibiting her
at different points. The young officer, in his turn, informed the
down-east skipper that he ought to feel highly flattered at halting the
United States fleet to supply his needs.

“Wa’al, Uncle Sam is always powerful good to his nevvys,” responded the
old captain, who was quite a character.

When the transferring of the water was finished, the skipper invited
all hands to look over his unique craft.

“Everything’s just as it was in the old days when seven hundred
convicts used to be packed aboard,” he said, “all the torture
instruments and thumb-screws and whipping posts and all. She’s a right
interesting old ship.”

The ensign agreed to allow the Jackies then on board to make a hasty
survey of the old craft, and they scattered through her while the
skipper took charge of the ensign.

The old ship was just as interesting as her owner and captain had
proclaimed. Her gloomy holds were partitioned off into tiny cells in
which a man could not stand upright, and iron manacles and wooden
stocks were on every side. Ned and Herc felt oppressed and gloomy as
they viewed the venerable craft, and saw unmistakable evidences of the
suffering and torment that the unhappy human beings on board her must
have endured.

Suddenly, from the deck, came the shrill sound of a pipe. It was the
call to return. Ned darted off, but Herc, always curious, lingered just
a minute to peep into what had been a solitary cell, a tiny, black hole
with a heavy iron door.

He swung the door open, and striking a match, stepped inside.

“Wow! Just think of being shut in a place like that with the ship
boiling and roasting in the tropics!” he exclaimed with a shudder. “Why
a man could hardly live in such a----”

Clang!

The iron door had suddenly banged to as the ship gave a slight roll on
the swells generated by the close proximity of the big dreadnought.
Herc sprang at the door. But it resisted his stoutest efforts to open
it. It had closed with a spring lock and there was Herc a prisoner in
the bowels of the old convict ship.

After the lapse of so many years, the solitary cell once more held a
victim. This time though, it was no cringing, shaven convict going into
exile, but a Yankee blue-jacket.

Herc set up a lusty yelling for help. He shook the solid door and
roared for release out of his predicament.

“Goodness,” he exclaimed, “in trouble again! But this time the joke is
certainly on me. It’s a good thing I was never a convict,” he added in
his whimsical fashion, “or they’d have been feeding me to the sharks in
a very short time. Gracious! what a hole! Hot as a furnace, too, and
as dark as it was in those coal bunkers. I hope they hurry and let me
out!”



CHAPTER XVII. SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.


“Wow! Help! Let me out! I’m suffocating!” yelled Herc, beginning to
regard his imprisonment seriously.

On deck the ensign had the boat crew lined up.

“Get aboard, men, and hurry back to the ship,” he ordered; “we’ve spent
enough time here.”

He thanked the old Yankee skipper for his hospitality, and the
commander of the old convict craft was profuse in his gratitude for the
assistance Uncle Sam’s navy had extended him.

In the meantime, Herc’s absence had been noted. Ned stepped up to the
ensign and, saluting, reported:--

“Taylor is missing, sir.”

“Missing?”

“Yes, sir. He’s not here.”

“Very extraordinary. What can have become of him?”

“I can’t imagine, sir. We were below together when we heard the
whistle, and I only discovered his absence a minute ago.”

“Brick top’s in trouble again,” whispered the boat’s crew.

“I can’t make out how he could vanish on board a small ship like this,”
exclaimed the ensign in a puzzled tone. “Confound that boy, he’s always
getting into some mischief or other.”

“Had we better scatter and look for him, sir?” inquired Ned.

“Yes, do so. Carry on, and be as quick as you can. The commander will
be seriously annoyed if we don’t hurry back on board.”

The men followed Ned below. All sorts of conjectures were made as to
what had become of their ship-mate. In the meantime, Herc was shouting
his head off in the cell and realizing to the full the horrors of
solitary confinement in such a place.

But the door was thick and his voice hardly penetrated outside. It was
by the merest chance that one of the men caught a faint echo of his
yells. He reported to Ned at once and they traced the sounds to the
door.

“Is that you, Herc?” shouted Ned through the door.

“Yes, what’s left of me. Wow! Let me out of here quick, if you ever
want to see me again before I’m melted.”

The skipper of the _Victory_ was summoned and the door was soon opened.
Out came a very red-faced, perspiring Dreadnought Boy.

“Well, you’re a nice specimen,” exclaimed Ned. “How in the world did
you get into such a fix?”

“I just looked in to see what that hole in the wall was like and the
door slammed to on me,” exclaimed Herc. “Gracious, but I’m glad to get
out again. Talk about our brig, why it’s a palace compared to that
cell!”

“And yet men were placed in there for voyages of a hundred days and
more,” said the captain of the _Victory_.

“Hurry up on deck, men,” ordered Ned. “Come along, Herc. I guess your
troubles are only beginning.”

“What do you mean?”

“That you’ll have to go to the mast for disobedience of orders.”

“How could I help it if the door shut on me?”

“You shouldn’t have gone in there after the whistle blew. It was your
duty to go on deck at once.”

“I don’t see that I’m to blame.”

“I guess the captain will take a different view. You’ve held up the
fleet for half an hour.”

“Well, it isn’t every seaman that could do that,” said Herc with a grin
as he fell into line.

Ned was right. On their return to the ship the ensign in charge of the
party got a severe lecture for wasting time, and in order to divert
the blame he informed the captain of Herc’s involuntary imprisonment.
Accordingly, the red-headed lad’s name was down on the list of those
whom the master-at-arms was required to notify to report at the mast
the next day.

As has been explained in other volumes of this series, the “mast” is
in reality the quarter-deck, where every day the captain adjudicates
infractions of naval law and listens to complaints and excuses. The
next afternoon Herc faced this tribunal, cap in hand, and inwardly much
perturbed.

“Taylor, I am informed that your disobedience of orders delayed the
cutter’s return yesterday,” said the captain. “How was that?”

“Well, it was mainly on account of a door, sir,” rejoined Herc.

“Of a door?”

“Yes, sir, a door that I couldn’t open. You see, I was in solitary
confinement----”

“Don’t be flippant, sir,” said the captain sternly; “explain yourself
properly.”

“I am, sir. I was imprisoned on that convict ship, although I had done
nothing but peek into a solitary cell.”

“What are you talking about, sir?” exclaimed the captain, hiding a
smile at Herc’s whimsical way of explaining his predicament. “Tell me
plainly what happened.”

“I’m trying to, sir.”

Herc went on to relate his experiences. When he had concluded, the
captain said:--

“It is plain by your story that you were not prompt to obey orders and
that your imprisonment was your own fault entirely.”

The Dreadnought Boy shifted about uncomfortably. Something dreadful was
going to be done with him, he felt sure.

“However,” went on the commanding officer of the _Manhattan_, “I think
that your period of detention on board that ship has taught you a good
lesson. Carry on.”

“I’m not to be put in the brig, sir?”

The captain had to pass a hand over his face to hide a smile at Herc’s
tone of relief.

“No; not this time. But be warned in the future. Your offense was a
serious one. You delayed the fleet entirely without necessity.”

Herc was received on the forecastle by a group of his cronies. He told
them all that had occurred at his session at “the mast.”

“Good for you, Red Head,” they cried; “you gave the brig a wide berth
this trip, all right.”

The red-headed boy drew himself up quite proudly. Mentally he was
patting himself on the back.

“I guess I must be more important than I thought,” he observed to Ned.

“How’s that, Herc?”

“Why, the commander as good as said that the fleet couldn’t get along
without me. They had to wait for me, didn’t they?”

“See here, Herc, don’t get all puffed up over that. I’m sorry we didn’t
let you stew in there a while longer to take some of the conceit out
of you. You ought to thank your stars that you didn’t get the brig.”

“Pooh!” exclaimed Herc, “the brig would have seemed like a little
Paradise after that solitary cell. As the old man said, ‘I was punished
enough.’”

The bugle for afternoon gunnery practice with the Morris tubes cut
short the boys’ conversation. They hustled to their stations for the
“small caliber” duty on the big guns, which was an almost daily feature
of their work and one that they enjoyed hugely.



CHAPTER XVIII. IN GOLDEN SEAS.


The following days passed uneventfully. The ships were now running
into golden seas where the sun shone down hotly. Awnings were rigged
and “white uniforms and bare feet” was the order sent aloft on the
flag-ship for the instruction of the rest of the squadron.

One afternoon the lookout sang out in a voice that carried fore and aft
the always welcome cry to a sailor:--

“Land, ho!”

“Where away?” came from the bridge as the Jackies craned their necks
and gazed forward.

“Two points off the starboard bow!”

Glasses were leveled at the purple patch lying like a tiny cloud on the
far horizon.

“What land can it be?” wondered Ned, shading his eyes, but from the
low elevation of the forecastle it was hard to see anything but a faint
blue line.

“Must be Oahu,” responded a blue-jacket standing beside him.

“One of the Hawaiian group?”

“Yes; the island on which Honolulu, the principal port of the islands,
is located.”

Ned and Herc exchanged delighted glances. It was like coming toward a
land of their dreams. As the battleships plowed onward, the land rose
higher out of the sea. Soon they could see towering mountain peaks, and
gradually, as they drew nearer, all the details of the green hillsides
clothed with tropical verdure and the numerous plantations that dotted
them came into range.

“Well, we’re going to see things now,” declared Ned enthusiastically,
his eyes shining.

“Are there savages down there?” inquired Herc.

“No; not in the Hawaiian group,” responded a ship-mate. “There are
more Chinese and Japs on the islands, on Oahu anyhow, than there are
Kanakas.”

“Crackers!” exclaimed Herc. “Is that what they call the natives?”

“I said Kanakas, Red Head,” laughed the sailor; “that’s the name given
the natives.”

“Wonder if we’ll make port in Honolulu?” spoke Ned.

“The old man hasn’t taken me into his confidence concerning that yet,”
grinned Herc.

“Well, you can’t blame him for that,” laughed a sailor, and there was a
general laugh at Herc’s expense.

“I heard a rumor before we left ’Frisco that there was plague on Oahu
and that the port was quarantined,” interjected a bos’un’s-mate, who
was in the group.

“In that case, we won’t land there?” asked Ned.

“No. We may go on to some other port. I imagine that after the banging
about we had in that storm, the old man will want to hitch up to some
post or other and give the ship a currying down.”

“You talk as if the ship were a stable,” cried Herc. “I suppose that’s
how the beef kegs got the name of harness casks.”

“No; I guess Hicks talks that way because there are so many kickers on
board,” chuckled Ned.

“Not to mention a few donkeys,” Herc shot back at him.

“Well, you ought to know, Red Head,” spoke the bos’un’s-mate, and there
was another laugh.

“I hope we get a chance to take a run ashore,” said Ned, “but if we are
put to cleaning ship, I guess there’s not much chance of that.”

“Oh, well, Red Head loves cleaning ship, don’t you?”

“About as much as you like that stuff the Sawbones (doctor) serves
out,” retorted Herc with a grin.

“There’s Diamond Head!” came a shout some time later, during which
interval the fleet in a long orderly line had been steaming by rugged
shores of surpassing tropic beauty.

“I see the diamonds!” yelled Herc, calling attention to some bright
patches of mica that glittered in the sunlight.

The masts of shipping and the black smoke of steamers began to show in
the distance.

“Honolulu!” cried a sailor. “I hope we stop there; it’s a fine city.”

Majestically the squadron steamed into the harbor of the principal city
of the Hawaiian group. The boys excitedly admired its site at the foot
of towering hills that were covered with luxuriant tropical growth,
amidst which they could see tall palms with feathery tops.

“Me for the cocoanuts,” cried Herc as he gazed.

“You’d have to be more of a monkey than you are to climb those trees,”
chuckled somebody.

“I’ll let you climb for me then, Hughes,” came back Herc as quick as a
flash, and the laugh was on the other fellow.

       *       *       *       *       *

The squadron came to anchor off the harbor and fired a salute which was
returned from the shore. Flags could be seen flying everywhere.

“They’re glad to see us,” chorused the Jackies delightedly. “I’ll bet
we have great old times ashore, regular field day.”

As the great anchors roared downward, on the stern of each battleship
appeared Old Glory,--men-of-war not displaying their ensigns at sea.
Speculation was rife throughout the fleet as to whether the rumor
concerning the plague was correct. The rear-admiral and Commander
Dunham went ashore and on their return all doubt was set at rest.

“Up anchor!” was the order flashed from ship to ship.

“We’re not going to stop!” groaned the Jackies. “Good-bye, Honolulu,
much obliged to have met you.”

Both Ned and Herc felt their full share of the general disappointment,
but their gloom was brightened when the news ran through the ship that
the squadron was headed for Hilo on the island of Hawaii, the largest
of the group and in some respects the most interesting.

Early the next morning, after they had steamed among the islands all
night, the lofty crest of Kilauea, the famous active volcano, was
sighted. It was smoking away in a manner that delighted the Jackies.

“Old Dame Nature’s chimney is on fire,” said Herc. “I wish we could see
a regular blow-up.”

“I guess if we did you’d change your mind,” said an old sailor. “I was
at Apia when they had that big earthquake and tidal wave, and I don’t
want to go through another volcanic eruption. Our ship was landed two
miles inland in a cocoanut grove, and for all I know she’s there yet.”

“Here we go into Hilo Bay,” came a cry not long after, and the long
line of ships swung frowningly around a point and into a beautiful
natural harbor, faced by a city of white and gray houses and hemmed
in by a horseshoe of hills. But the Jackies had no eyes but for the
volcano, whose mighty peak, ceaselessly smoking, towered four thousand
feet above the city.

“Isn’t it wonderful!” exclaimed Ned, in a tone that was almost awe.
“They say that at night you can sometimes see a red glow from it on the
sky.”

“Like Coney Island,” said Herc irreverently.

“It’s one of the grandest sights I ever saw,” retorted Ned seriously.

“Give me the Catskills any day,” snorted Herc, referring to the place
from which both the lads came. “As for that smoke, we saw almost as
much when granpop was curing hams.”

“Herc, you have no more soul than an oyster.”

“Thanks, but I’ve got a good appetite, so I’m not worrying.”

“I’ll tell you what,” Herc resumed a few minutes later, “I’d like to
knock the block off that old mountain with one of our thirteen-inch
guns. I bet we’d see some fireworks worth while then.”

“Well, if you did you’d have to show better marksmanship than you have
up to date.”

“How can I get to be a good shot when we don’t fire the big guns once
in a blue moon?”

“Well, you’ve had lots of small caliber drill and that’s the same
thing. Besides, every time we have big gun practice the expense runs
into hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

“Look! Look, there’s a war-ship!” cried Ned excitedly.

“So it is. What’s that flag? I know, it’s a bloomin’ Britisher.”

The British man-o’-war, a black, grim-looking sea-fighter, lay just
inside the harbor. As the American squadron came sweeping in from the
sea, her guns began to boom. All work was suspended for the moment, and
then came the orders to return the salute. Flag after flag was dipped
as the British battleship’s ensign, with its red cross, was run up and
down. Bands crashed and blared the national anthem of both nations,
Jackies cheered and waved and the guns boomed and roared deafeningly.

As the fleet came to anchor, a swift launch put off from the side of
the English ship and the commander of the craft, the _Indomitable_, in
a cocked hat and ablaze with gold lace, came on board the _Manhattan_
to pay an official call on the commander of the Yankee squadron of
world cruisers.

Great ceremony marked his coming. The gangway was manned and the
officers all donned full uniform. The band played “God Save the King,”
and the amount of bowing and ceremonious hand-shaking and saluting that
was gone through caused Herc to remark to Ned later on that he felt
as if he’d been mixing up with a book of etiquette. At the English
commander’s departure the same ceremony took place. The boys had had
their first introduction to the strict laws of ceremony which govern an
interchange of courtesies between the commanders of fighting ships of
different friendly nations.



CHAPTER XIX. BLUE LIGHTNING ASHORE.


Next morning, after the routine work was out of the way, word was
passed that parties would be allowed to leave the ship for a cruise
ashore. The signal of this decision was sent to other vessels of the
fleet, and before long boats were making for the shore in tow of the
battleships’ steamers, carrying parties of singing, joyous tars.

On board the _Manhattan_ upwards of a hundred men were allowed liberty,
and among them were Ned and Herc. Before they left the ship, the
liberty parties were lined up aft and the captain made them a little
speech.

“You men are to be allowed a run on shore as a reward for faithful
service,” he said. “You will be expected to conduct yourselves in a
manner befitting your country and the service. I hope that in your own
interests you will report back on board ship within the forty-eight
hours I am allowing you. That is all.”

Discipline went to the winds for a minute. The men cheered Commander
Dunham as he turned away.

“There’s a captain for you,” said one.

“Yes, he’s no bucko skipper, always working up a poor sailor,” put in
another. “He’s all wool and a yard wide.”

“And so say we all of us!” cried Herc, heading the rush for the boats
that were to take them ashore.

The shore parties, laughing and cheering and cutting up all manner of
antics, climbed over the side and piled into the boats. No effort was
made to check their somewhat noisy flow of spirits. The officers wisely
recognized the fact that for the time being they were only a happy lot
of blue-jackets acting much like boys just let out of school.

Herc injected more amusement into the situation when after a brief
absence he appeared at the gangway leading Blue Lightning, the
goat mascot of the _Manhattan_. Blue Lightning was a slate-colored
goat--battleship gray, the sailors called his color--of a combative
temperament. He had spent many years in the navy and had been a present
to the _Manhattan_ from the crew of the old cruiser _Texas_, when the
latter vessel went out of commission.

“Hooray! Here comes Red Head with his goat!” cried the sailors. “Going
to give him a cruise ashore, Herc?”

“Sure,” responded the Dreadnought Boy. “Isn’t he entitled to shore
liberty just as much as we are? I guess a good feed of grass and a run
will do his temper good. He’s been kind of grouchy lately.”

This was true. Only a few days before the goat had run amuck along
the decks during the dinner hour, upsetting ditty boxes, butting
incautious sailors, and finally charging, regardless of discipline, up
on the quarter-deck itself, nearly upsetting the rear-admiral who was
taking a dignified stroll about his precincts.

“Come on, Lightning,” coaxed Herc, as he descended the ladder with the
goat following close behind.

“Better look out, Red Head, he’s liable to attack you from the stern!”
cried a voice.

“Not he,” scoffed Herc, “he’s got too much respect for me. Come on, old
fellow.”

The goat followed Herc docilely enough till he had almost reached the
bottom of the steep steps. Then, suddenly, he lowered his head. His
yellow eyes gleamed viciously.

“Look out!” yelled the sailors in the boat below.

“Yes, be careful, Herc,” roared Ned. “The goat! He----”

But there was no time to add more. The goat’s lowered head suddenly
collided with Herc’s anatomy, and amidst a roar of yells and shouts
the red-headed boy was impelled in a flying leap off the gangway and
into the water.

“Wow! Blue Lightning’s struck!” shouted the tars.

“Gracious, he went through the air like a thirteen-inch shell!”

“A regular human sky-rocket!”

Herc rose sputtering and puffing and struck out for the boats. There
was no use in being mad, so he only laughed as he was helped on board.

“Better change your uniform,” advised Ned.

“What for? I’ll soon dry out in this hot sun. Say, you fellows missed a
nice swim; that water felt fine,” said Herc, putting the best face he
could on his ludicrous accident.

“Well, I’d prefer to go into it in some less strenuous way,” laughed
Ned; “the way you took your dive looked as if you’d been shot out of a
gun.”

“It felt like it, too,” grinned Herc. “Come here, Blue Lightning, I’ve
a good mind to administer a licking to you.”

“Ma-a-a-a-a-a-h!” said the goat.

“He’s laughing at you,” cried Ned amidst a shout as the mascot was
taken on board.

The steamer gave a shrill whistle.

“All aboard!” yelled the happy tars, grinning up in a superior way at
the men left behind. “See what we get for being good little boys.”

“Hurrah for Hilo!” shouted somebody as they got under way, the boats
towing behind the steamer.

“Hurrah for Red Head’s goat!”

“Three cheers for the fleet, boys!” cried Ned, looking back at the
imposing array of slate-colored fighting-ships, from the stern of every
one of which fluttered the Stars and Stripes.

The cheers were given in true man-o’-war’s-man style. The glad shouts
went echoing over the still water and were flung back from the
mountains behind the town.

They were soon at the wharf where a clustering throng of natives and
white men, mingled with Chinese and Japs, were gathered to stare at the
new arrivals. Hilo was a town of white buildings, many of them quite
imposing in their architecture, but few above two stories in height.

“Pshaw! This looks just like any other town,” said Herc disgustedly.

“What did you expect to see?” asked Ned.

“Oh, cannibals and wild animals and so on.”

“Well, I’m glad to say there are none in the Sandwich Islands.”

“I’m not. We won’t have any fun now.”

“You wouldn’t call it fun to get mixed up with a lot of cannibals?”

“We could lick them easy enough,” responded Herc lightly.

“They’d make you an idol if they saw that red head of yours,” laughed a
ship-mate.

“Well, I’m good at idling,” responded Herc.

“No need to tell us that,” chorused the Jackies gleefully.

They disembarked in orderly fashion, and, breaking through rows of
importunate beggars, hotel runners and restaurant and café men, headed
for the town. As they were leaving the dock, a native rushed up to Herc
and threw his arms about him.

“Hey! Let go, will you!” roared Herc. “Help! he’s trying to kiss me.”

The native indeed appeared to be trying to do just that very thing. But
somebody explained the situation. It appeared that when sailors came
ashore some of the natives liked to act as their guides. Their form of
showing homage was to rub noses, and this was what Herc’s native was
trying to do.

Suddenly he desisted with a yell, and impelled by some hitherto unseen
force went flying through the air, landing with a hard bump some feet
away. Blue Lightning had been watching the scene, and lowering his head
had charged the Kanaka with all the effect of a battleship’s ram. Not
content with this, the goat dashed into the midst of the importunate
throng scattering them right and left.

“Whoop! Buck the line! Send ’em flying! Sock it to them!” shouted
the sailors in huge glee, as before the furious onslaughts of Blue
Lightning the annoying crowd was driven in all directions.

“Good for Red Head’s goat! It’s a four-legged torpedo,” they shouted.

“It’s a destroyer,” came another shout, “a land-going destroyer armed
with twin twelve-inch horns.”

Finally Ned and Herc succeeded in rounding up Blue Lightning, and then
they set off up the blazing main street of the town, upon which the sun
was beating hotly down.

“Well, I reckon we’ve created a sensation,” grinned Herc. “From the
noise those fellows made they ought to change the name of this place
from Hilo to Hi! Hi!”



CHAPTER XX. BOUND FOR THE VOLCANO.


“Come on. Hurry up,” urged Ned, as Herc came out of a store where he
had purchased a long coil of rope. The rope was to be used to restrain
the pernicious activities of Blue Lightning, for the boys were rather
afraid that he might get them into trouble if they did not confine him
in some way.

“Hurry up where?”

“I’ve got a plan in my head.”

“What is it?”

“There’s no sense in our hanging about this hot town which, so far as I
can see, is very much like any other town.”

“I agree with you, Ned. What’s your idea?”

“We ought to take a look at that volcano while we are here. They say
the crater is wonderful. The Hawaiian word for it is ‘Sea of Fire.’”

“Humph! What guarantee have we that the thing won’t blow up while we’re
there?”

“That’s very unlikely to happen. We won’t be taking any more of a
chance than the people who go to see Mount Vesuvius all the time.”

“How do we get up there?”

“We go by rail to a place called Glenwood, near the foot of the
volcano.”

“And then?”

“I’ve been making inquiries. For a reasonable sum we can get ponies and
a guide.”

“All right. Let’s start. I’m ready.”

A short trip on a wheezy train landed them in Glenwood and then the
boys set off for the place where Ned had been told that guides could
be procured. They soon found it and discovered that the men who made a
business of taking parties up the volcano were not so moderate in their
prices as Ned had been led to believe. However, they managed to strike
a bargain with an old Kanaka named Okeechee and soon after they rode
out of the town in high spirits.

Behind Herc’s pony trailed Blue Lightning. He was at first unwilling
to accompany the tourists, but a few yanks on the long rope to which
Herc had him hitched soon persuaded him to follow. The boys shouted
greetings to pedestrians as they passed, in great good humor. They felt
like two school boys off on a picnic.

The road soon began to climb the mountain side. It hung on the edge of
the steep hills behind the town like an eyebrow. All sorts of luxuriant
tropical fruits and flowers overhung the dizzy path. Below them was
spread a magnificent panorama,--the American fleet at anchor in the
bay with smoke lazily drifting from the banked fires. The flags made
brilliant spots of color as ship signaled to ship along the line,
transmitting the orders spelled out in bunting by the flag-ship.

“Doesn’t that make you proud you are an American, Herc?” asked
Ned, pointing to the inspiring panorama of sea, sky and grim, drab
fighting-ships.

“It makes me think I’m glad we don’t have to work for forty-eight
hours,” rejoined Herc, thumping his pony with his heels.

Up and up they climbed till they surmounted that ridge. Then they
dipped into a valley of rare beauty, above which towered the frowning
sides of the smoking mountain in majestic splendor. As they descended
the trail, they came upon an odd picture. In a patch below the road
some native men and women, who had been working in a cocoanut grove,
were seated on the ground eating out of gourd dishes a native food
called _poi_.

“Hullo, there’s a picnic party!” cried Herc, as he saw the group, the
women of which were begarlanded with flowers after the pretty custom of
the South Seas.

Ned had not time to reply before a yell and whoop from Herc cut him
short.

“Oh, glory! Look at that, will you!”

Blue Lightning had broken loose from Herc’s grip, which had relaxed
as he gazed on the Arcadian scene. With a grunt and a jump the goat,
trailing several yards of rope behind him, dashed straight down on the
unconscious diners. Maybe the sight of food had excited his appetite,
or maybe he was actuated just by pure goatishness. Anyhow, like a
torpedo-boat bearing down on a squadron, he dashed at the group below.

“Hey! Wow! Look out! Jump! Scat! Vamoose! Beat it!” howled Herc.

But no attention was paid to him. In another instant pandemonium
burst into that peaceful scene. Herc had thrown himself off his pony
and managed to grab the end of the rope, but the impetus of Blue
Lightning’s rush had jerked him off his feet. He rolled down the
embankment, landing with a crash in the midst of the luncheon party
at just about the same instant that the _Manhattan’s_ mascot made his
presence known by butting a dignified old gentleman into a big bowl of
the soft sticky _poi_.

The islanders yelled in terror at the sudden apparition, Herc shouted
as he went rolling and crashing among a variety of dishes, and above
them Ned and the guide shouted advice and directions. Recovering from
their first surprise, the islanders massed angrily and made a concerted
rush for Herc. Some of them wielded clubs and stones.

“It’s all a mistake. Don’t hit me. I’ll make it all right!” cried the
Dreadnought Boy, trying to brush the sticky remnants of _poi_ and
custard-apples from his uniform.

The islanders buzzed like a hive of angry bees. They did not understand
him. All they knew was that a peaceful meal had been rudely interrupted
by a red-headed sailor and a goat with a butt like an eight-inch shell.

“See here----” shouted Herc.

A stone struck him on the forehead. Another and another began to whiz
about him.

He dodged them as best he could and began running for the road. But he
had reckoned without Blue Lightning. The animal had been hit by a rock
and had faced straight about. With lowered head it began rushing at the
Hawaiians. Behind it trailed the rope.

“Biff! Bang! Hurray!” yelled Herc as he saw the _Manhattan’s_ mascot
rushing into the fray.

Down went one of the men in a heap as the goat collided with him. The
rope tangled into many loops, and convolutions caught the ankles of two
more and down they went with a yell.

“Wow! Charge ’em! Never say die! Good for you!” roared Herc
enthusiastically.

Blue Lightning needed no urging. Right and left he sped with lowered
horns, spreading disaster whenever he encountered a solid body. The
women had fled screaming, and only the men were in the danger zone. At
last the men all took to their heels, too, and Herc, running forward,
grabbed the goat’s rope and began hauling the creature up the slope.

“Whee! Whoop!” he yelled, as he clambered back to the road. “Didn’t
that beat any circus you ever saw? Wasn’t it fun?”

“I’m afraid it may have serious consequences,” commented Ned, who,
however, couldn’t keep from laughing. “The guide tells me that he heard
one of the men shouting in Hawaiian that they would have us arrested.”

“In that case, we’d better stay up by the volcano,” said the
irrepressible Herc. “Under such circumstances I’d rather face it than
the old man.”



CHAPTER XXI. THE MOUTH OF FIRE.


“Well, this beats anything I’ve ever seen!”

Ned uttered the exclamation as the boys stood on the western lip of the
fiery crater of Kilauea.

“Looks like the entrance to the bad place,” commented Herc.

All about the boys and their guide, not to forget Blue Lightning with
his confining rope, shot up arid precipices, wrought into fantastic
forms by fire and lava. Below them glowed the eternal fires of the
volcano, and the air was filled with a sulphurous reek proceeding from
several boiling springs.

Not a bush, or tree or a blade of vegetation of any sort was to be
seen. Against the blue sky, like a smoking factory chimney, the crater
poured heavenward unceasingly a veil of yellowish smoke.

The guide told them that it was some years since the volcano had been
in eruption, but that at times streams of lava had flowed down the
mountain side, wiping out plantations and native huts. Far out at sea,
ships had been showered with the ashes, and a pall of smoke so dense as
to render the island almost invisible had involved it in a perpetual
twilight during the hours when the sun was above the horizon.

“In our tongue we call that ‘Bad Year,’” volunteered the guide.

“I’d like to get some souvenirs of this place to take home,” remarked
Herc. “Look at that shelf down there. It seems to be formed of some
sort of glittering rocks. I guess I could get some easy enough.”

“You’ll stay right here,” rejoined Ned firmly. “Every time you come
ashore you get into trouble and I’m determined to keep you out of it
this trip if I can.”

“Pshaw! that ledge isn’t more than twenty feet down and it’s an easy
scramble for a sailor,” scoffed Herc.

“Yes, but if you ever slipped?”

“Well, I’d be cremated free of charge, unless the mountain refused to
swallow me and chucked me up again with a fireworks display.”

Both boys peered over the edge into the fiery abyss below. Even in the
daylight they could catch a faint glimpse of nature’s vast furnaces.
The guide told them that not long before a love-sick young Hawaiian
had cast himself into the depths of the volcano when he learned of the
death of his sweetheart. In ancient times before the white man came, he
said, when a chief died many of his subjects were thrown alive into the
fiery pit as a sacrifice to the gods.

“Umph!” grunted Herc. “I’ll bet it’s not much hotter than that bunker,
at that.”

The guide told them to follow him to the other side of the crater
where an even finer view could be obtained of the subterranean fires.
Ned set off by the Hawaiian’s side, listening with interest to his
description of the old tribal rites that took place on the very ground
which they now trod.

So engrossed was he with the guide’s tales and legends, as they made
their way over the rough ground, that it was not till they had gone
some distance that he noticed that Herc was not with them. At the same
instant there came a wild yell and cry from the rear.

“Wow! Help! I’m a goner!”

A shoulder of rock hid from them the place where Ned had last seen
Herc, but the boy darted quickly back. What he saw as he came into view
of the spot almost froze the hot blood in his veins.

Straight down toward the fiery mouth of the volcano Herc was tumbling,
grabbing frantically as he went any projecting bit of rock. But none of
them held him.

“Heavens! He’ll fall into the volcano!” almost screamed Ned.

The sight was almost too painful to be borne. There didn’t appear to be
a chance that Herc could save himself. To Ned and the guide it seemed
that he was doomed to be plunged into the crater and burned to death in
its glowing, oven-like depths.

But suddenly Ned gave a cry of joy. In his fall, Herc had struck the
very ledge upon which he had spied the glittering specimens of rock,
one of which he had been so anxious to procure. By an almost superhuman
effort he had checked his fall, and was now lying trembling and pale on
this insecure shelf overhanging the glowing mouth of the crater.

Ned set out running, with the guide at his heels. When he reached a
spot directly above the ledge to which Herc was clinging, he shouted
down at him:

“Are you all right, Herc?”

“Yes, so far; but the gases from this bake-oven are choking me. Get me
out of here quick!”

“Can’t you climb up?”

“No; the cliff bulges out right above me. I could never make it.”

“Goodness, what are we to do? Here, you,” to the guide, “hurry and get
a rope some place.”

“No can get rope nearer than Glenwood,” declared the guide.

“That will take too long.”

Ned racked his wits desperately for some way out of the dilemma. It was
clear that Herc could not long hang suspended over the gaseous volcano
without choking and losing his hold. And yet what was he to do?

In his quandary he glanced about him seeking some way out of the
difficulty. Suddenly his eyes fell on Blue Lightning. The animal was
nosing about among the rocks vainly seeking a blade of grass. From his
neck trailed the long rope that Herc had purchased that morning.

“The very thing!” cried Ned, as his eyes fell on the rope. “What a bit
of luck that Herc bought it!”

He ran to the edge of the cliff. Herc was still clinging on to the
ledge.

“Hurry up on deck, there,” he hailed, “I’m getting sea-sick.”

“Can you hold on a few minutes longer?”

“I guess so; but this climate doesn’t agree with me very well.”

“Well, keep up your courage. I’m going to get you out.”

“How?”

“Wait a while and you’ll see. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Ned ran back and disengaged the rope from Blue Lightning’s neck. He
raced for the cliff edge again, and having made a loop in the lower end
of the rope, lowered it to Herc. He wished it had been thicker, but it
appeared to be made of good, close-woven manila and Ned prayed that it
would stand the strain.

“Place the loop under your arms,” called Ned.

“All right. I see I’m to be a sort of human elevator.”

“That’s it. Come on, Mr. Guide; lay hold here.”

Ned and the Hawaiian laid hold of the rope and began to haul with all
their might. Herc helped them by digging his toes into the rocks and
climbing upward, his weight supported by the rope.

“Hurray! We’ll get you up now all right, my hearty!” cried Ned.

But his jubilation was premature. The Hawaiian, a short, slim fellow
without much muscle or weight, gave a sudden yell.

“No can hold no more.”

He dropped the rope at the same instant, and Ned felt his feet fly from
under him as the weight of Herc came suddenly on his arms alone.

“Wow! I’m gone!” came a terrified yell from Herc as he felt his body
rush downward. All at once he was stopped with a jerk that almost
dislocated his shoulders. There he hung, dangling out over the crater
and wondering how long it would be before he would be precipitated
into the natural furnaces that seemed to be reaching out for him.

What had happened was this. Ned, after the first shock of surprise
when the guide dropped the rope, had succeeded in digging his feet
up against a rock as Herc’s weight pulled him toward the edge of the
crater. This rock cropped out of the ground in pillar-like formation,
and he had swiftly taken two turns around it with the rope as if it had
been a hitching post. As he did so, a sudden idea came into his head.

“Bring up those ponies,” he shouted to the cowardly, mean-spirited
guide who had so nearly been responsible for Herc’s death.

The guide brought the little animals up.

“Now help me hold on to this rope,” ordered Ned brusquely. “If you let
go again, you’ll go over into the volcano yourself, sabe?”

“Yes, mister. Me do as you say.”

“All right. You’d better. Ready now?”

Ned unwound the rope from the rock, being careful to take up the strain
as it came. This done, he secured the rope around the pommels of the
saddles of both the ponies, the saddles being of the high-peaked
Mexican variety best adapted for mountain riding.

“Hold tight, Herc!” he shouted.

“All right!” came from below, and Herc began to feel himself rising as
the two ponies were driven forward by the guide.

“Keep on going till I tell you to stop,” cried Ned to the man. Then the
Dreadnought Boy hastened once more to the edge of the cliff. He could
have shouted with joy as he saw Herc being drawn steadily upward toward
him. But he dared not shout or talk till he had Herc safely beside him.

“Stop!” he yelled suddenly to the guide as Herc’s red head bobbed
within reach.

“Go ahead--whoa!--ahead a little--stop!”

Ned reached out his arms and Herc grabbed them. An instant later the
Dreadnought Boys stood side by side on the lip of the crater in which
Herc had so narrowly escaped immolation.

“Thank goodness, you’re all right!” cried Ned, wringing his chum’s hand
frantically.

“Yes, and I’ve brought you a little souvenir from there, too,” said
Herc with perfect calmness, thrusting his hand into his blouse. “It
was while I was rubbering over looking for specimens that I lost my
grip and went topsy-turvy down the cliff. So while I was down there I
thought I’d bring some up with me.”

He thrust into Ned’s hand a bit of the glittering stone to which he had
first called attention.

“That’s worth more than a million dollars,” he said solemnly.

“How’s that, Herc?”

“Well, it would take about ten times that to persuade me to go down
there again.”

The rope which had done such good service was attached to Blue
Lightning again, and as the boys had seen quite enough,--almost too
much,--of the volcano, they began the descent without delay. The guide
was full of all sorts of explanations for his action in dropping the
rope, but as may be imagined the boys did not pay much attention to him.

As they rode into Glenwood in plenty of time to catch the evening train
back to Hilo, a white-uniformed native policeman came up to them.

“You are to come with me,” he said.

“Delighted. But what for?” asked Herc. “Has some big-wig invited us to
dinner?”

“No, you are under arrest.”

“Arrest!” cried Ned.

“What for, for trespassing inside the crater?” demanded Herc.

“I don’t know what you mean. You are charged with assault on Onamee, a
farmer back on the mountain.”

A great light burst on both boys.

“Oh, it’s the picnic party we broke up,” cried Herc. “Well, you’d
better arrest the goat for that.”

“I have orders, also, to bring the goat before the magistrate,” was the
serious reply.

“Oh, he wants to get our goat, does he?” demanded Herc.

“Herc, don’t make fun of this thing. It may be serious,” spoke Ned
in a low voice. “We will go with you, sir,” he added, addressing the
constable.

“Very well. This way, please.”

“Great starboard salvos! In bad again,” groaned Herc dismally as,
followed by a jeering crowd, they set off down the street.



CHAPTER XXII. UNDER ARREST.


The courtroom was a large, cool chamber, protected from the hot sun by
green latticed blinds. The judge proved to be a humorous-faced American
dressed in white ducks. As the boys were marched into the courtroom, a
great hub-bub was set up by a group that they recognized as the party
whose luncheon had been so rudely interrupted by Blue Lightning’s
charge.

“So you lads are from the fleet?” the judge asked, as the boys were
formally arraigned at the bar of justice, which, in this case, was a
plain kitchen table with a big jug of ice-water on it.

“Yes, sir, from the _Manhattan_,” responded Ned respectfully.

“Hum! These people charge you with assault and battery. What have you
to say about it?”

“I guess Blue Lightning could tell you all about it, sir, if he could
talk,” put in Herc, despite Ned’s nudgings to keep silent.

“And who may he be?”

“It isn’t a him, sir. It’s a goat,” explained Herc.

“A goat!”

“Yes, sir, our mascot.”

“Ahem! He doesn’t appear to be much of a mascot if he got you into this
trouble. Since the United States annexed these islands it has been the
aim of the Government to keep friendly relations between the natives
and the Americans.”

“Yes, sir,” said Herc meekly, “but if you will let me explain, I think
I can show that it was an accident. I was trying to save these people
from being butted into the middle of next week, when----”

“That will do, Herc,” exclaimed Ned. “Will you let me explain, sir?”

“Certainly, my lad, go on.”

Ned gave a concise account of all that had happened. Then came the
turn of the natives, who spoke through an interpreter. Their testimony
agreed with Ned’s. The magistrate explained to the boys at the
conclusion of their depositions that the natives said they would be
satisfied with a settlement.

“How much do they want?” asked Ned.

A great pow-wow ensued, and finally the spokesman of the natives said
that two dollars would be ample. It was paid smilingly by the boys, who
were then told that they were free to go.

“And I would advise you to stop your mascot’s shore leave in the
future,” smilingly said the gentleman who officiated as magistrate.

“We will, sir,” declared both boys.

They had some pleasant conversation with the magistrate about the fleet
and its great world cruise, after which it was time to take their
train. They spent the night in Hilo and rejoined the ship the next day.

“Well, lads, did you have an interesting time ashore?” asked the
captain, as he passed them soon after their return.

“Yes, sir,” responded Taylor saluting, “especially at the end of a
rope.”

Of course this called for explanations and Herc told the whole story
with much graphic illustration.

“I see there is no killing you two lads,” laughed the captain as he
walked on, “but in the future be more careful. What ended as a joke
might have had a more serious side.”

       *       *       *       *       *

Once more the fleet was at sea. Everything was ship-shape and
“man-o’-war fashion,” the days spent at Hilo having been devoted to
putting the big battle fleet in tip-top condition after the buffeting
it had gone through in the big storm. Officers and men were all
a-tip-toe with anticipation at the prospect of the next stop, which was
Yokahama. The Dreadnought Boys particularly were anxious for a sight
of the Flowery Kingdom.

Ned’s duties having called him, one calm, peaceful evening, to the
after part of the ship, he was passing the wireless room on his return
forward when he caught the sound of a message being sent out from the
flag-ship to the rest of the fleet. The boy had been keen to learn
everything connected with his profession, and the study of wireless had
been included in the curriculum he had set himself.

He spent spare moments when he could in the wireless room and under the
operator’s tutelage had become quite a fair hand at the key. He paused
and listened to the dots and dashes as the flame leaped and crackled
between its terminals, sending out into space a message to the long
line of ships behind the _Manhattan_.

Ned listened till the message was complete and then, with sparkling
eyes, he resumed his journey.

“I guess there’s going to be a surprised bunch of blue-jackets on
board before morning,” he said to himself, as he hurried along through
steel-walled corridors and metal-enclosed casements. “I’m glad I caught
that message. Forewarned is forearmed.”

Herc noted his comrade’s suppressed excitement at supper that night
and tried to find out the cause for it, but he was unsuccessful. Ned,
however, could not forbear giving him a hint a little later.

“Sleepy, Herc?” he asked.

“No, but as soon as I get into my downy hammock, it doesn’t take me
long to slip off into dreamland.”

“Well, don’t sleep too soundly to-night.”

“Why not?”

“I can’t tell you. But I’ve got information that something out of the
ordinary may happen.”

“Pshaw! Why can’t you tell me what it is?”

Herc was all on fire with curiosity.

“I’m not at liberty to. I came by my information in a sort of
confidential way.”

“Humph! I suppose the old man asked you into his cabin and gave you all
his plans for the next twenty-four hours.”

The night wore on. Lights gleamed out; watches were set as usual. The
bugle sounded taps and the Jackies were all wrapped in their usual
sound slumbers. Ned alone lay awake waiting for the signal that he was
sure would not be long in coming. On the bridge the captain paced back
and forth and almost all the officers were out, none of them having
retired.

It was past eight bells, midnight, when a sudden voice sounded loud
and sharp above the monotonous vibration of the big propellers.
“Bos’un’s-mate!”

“Aye! aye, sir!” came the voice of Shorty Shea, who had the watch.

“Turn out the crew! Sound stations. Shake a leg now!”

“Aye! aye, sir!”

A shrill screech on his pipe followed as he tumbled forward on his duty.

Presently his voice boomed through the forecastle.

“A-l-l hands on deck! D’ye hear that now? A-l-l hands to s-t-ations!”

Buglers, hastily aroused, began sounding the “assembly!” Instantly the
sleeping ship galvanized into what appeared to be a pandemonium. High
on the masts the red and green “Ardois” lamps were winking and flashing
the signal to the ships. The wireless was fretting and whining. “The
idlers,” cooks, messmen, stewards and boys took their places below
in the magazines. The Jackies tumbled out of hammocks and slipped
into uniforms as if by magic. Officers hastily took their stations.
Questions and conjectures as to the reason for the sudden call flew
thick and fast.

Some thought that there had been a collision; others that the ship had
gone aground; yet others hazarded a guess that fire had broken out.
All knew that some urgent business was on hand and lost no time in
getting on deck.

Ned was at his gun almost before the last notes of the bugle calls had
died out. Herc was not much behind him. The Dreadnought Boy hastily
inspected the shining butt of the big twelve-inch gun that was in his
charge. He patted it smilingly.

“You’ll have to do your best to-night, old girl!” he said.

The captain passed among the men as they took their stations.

“They’ll do,” he remarked to the executive officer with him; “smart
work. A likely lot of lads. They all have themselves well in hand even
though they have no idea what is going to happen.”

“Man magazines and ammunition hoists. Stand ready. Pass loads to the
batteries!” came the sharp orders from the bridge in rapid succession.

High up in the superstructure, the range finders and “spotters” with
telephone receivers clamped to their heads were ready. Down in the
bowels of the ship the men who would transmit their reports of range
and kindred matters to the batteries, sat at what looked like giant
switchboards, covered with winking lights of different colors.

In Ned’s turret, the ammunition hoist came up with a bang and clang.
Bags of powder and a great projectile were unshipped by the gun crew
with what appeared to be magical speed. Every man had his work and knew
just what to do.

“Load and stand by,” ordered the ensign in Ned’s turret. “We’re going
to have some night target practice, my lads. See to it that you do your
best,” he went on.

This was the information that Ned had heard flashed out over the
wireless. The crew of the big twelve-inch gave a cheer. Stripped to the
waist, they awaited the next order.

“Clear decks for action!”

The Jackies outside began stripping the ship of everything movable.
Boats were lowered and cast off astern, railings, stanchions,
everything movable came down and was marked “Overboard.” Some wag even
affixed a label marked in this way to the horns of Blue Lightning, who
was careering around the decks in great excitement.

“Strong, you take the gun.”

“Aye, aye, sir.”

“Have your wits about you. We must hold the record we possess, if it is
possible.”

A bell buzzed and a light flashed twice in the turret. It was the
signal to load. The ensign barked out a sharp command. In a moment the
load and the projectile were sent “home.” The breech was closed with
a snap, the electrical connections made, and Ned, with his hand on
the big wheel that controlled the monster gun as if it had been a toy
rifle, awaited the next order.

Peering out through the turret opening he could see the rays of the
_Manhattan’s_ searchlight sweeping like radiant fingers over the sea.
They were searching for the target which had been sent out from one of
the other ships. The different ships were to steam by it at a set speed
blazing away as they passed.

At last it flashed into view,--a tiny square of white in the far
distance. Ned brought the cross-wires on the telescope sights to bear
on it. His heart beat tumultuously.

“Wish they’d hurry up that range,” said the ensign nervously.

Suddenly a shrill whistle sounded. The officer snatched up the speaking
tube. From the switchboards below came the required information.

“Ten thousand yards. Steady, men.”

Ned’s fingers hovered over the firing device. The other men balanced
themselves on their toes prepared for the shock when the actual moment
for firing the big gun came. Cotton was stuffed in their ears. The
five great searchlights that concentrated on the target showed it as
clearly to Ned as a chalked square on a blackboard. But it looked
terribly small.

A red light on the turret wall winked.

“Now, Strong,” said the ensign. “Fire!”

Ned’s fingers twitched the firing device. It seemed as if an earthquake
had been let loose. Through the night rushed the huge projectile, its
course blazed across the night sky by the red glow of a trailer, a
flaming attachment that enables the “spotters” to follow its course as
accurately as if it were day.

The gun was still trembling from the force of the recoil when the swish
of air-compressors, driving dangerous stray sparks out of it, was
heard. This was done so that there should be absolutely no danger of a
speck of fire remaining when the next charge was rammed home.

The next projectile, well oiled, was jerked into the big gun and rammed
home with clock-work-like precision. Then came the powder bags and the
snap of the breech block as it was slammed to.

The speaking tube whistled once more.

“Hit!” cried the ensign, announcing that he had just got the news that
Ned had hit the target. Then the red light flashed again, and once more
the ship shook to the thunders of the giant forces released when Ned
lightly pressed the trigger.

Again and again was the process gone through. The shots came with the
rapidity of an automatic shot-gun. It seemed incredible almost that
human beings could work with such precision and accuracy. Hardly a word
was spoken. Only short commands and brisk replies were heard.

From the spotters’ roost, where with night glasses they followed the
flaming trailers, came the monotonous report to bridge, switchboard and
turret, “Hit--hit--hit--hit--hit!”

And then finally, as the command came to cease firing the twelve-inch,
was this report:

“Ten shots, ten hits. Time, thirty seconds!”

Then, as the other guns took up the deafening fusillade, all discipline
vanished in Ned’s turret. The ensign shook his hand while the gun-crew
danced around shouting:

“What’s the matter with Ned Strong? He’s all right!”

But the racket of other guns drowned their voices. Up in the tops the
spiteful crash of the little three-inch guns could be heard cracking
viciously. The eight-inch rifles rumbled and roared. It was like being
on a train going through a vast tunnel at sixty miles an hour. That is
about as nearly as the uproar of the vast forces of power released at
gun practice can be described.

Two hours after the signal to “commence firing” had been given, the
night practice was over and all hands were set to work to clean ship.
But even before this, it was known on board the _Manhattan_ that the
coveted “Meat-ball,” the token of supremacy at the guns, was still the
flag-ship’s trophy; and that Ned Strong had contributed no small share
to the retention of the red flag with the black center that means so
much to the Jackie whose ship is entitled to fly it.



CHAPTER XXIII. HERC LUNCHES WITH AN IDOL.


“Talk about the poetry of motion! This is what I call a first-class
ride.”

Herc Taylor lolled negligently back in the ’rickshaw in which he and
Ned Strong were being spun along on a smooth road outside Yokahama.

“It’s comfortable, all right, but somehow I hate the idea of seeing a
human being playing the part of a horse,” rejoined Ned.

In front of the two Dreadnought Boys, between the shafts of the
’rickshaw, a half naked Jap toiled along at a dog-trot. His skin was as
dry as a bone and showed not a sign of fatigue, yet he had drawn the
boys some distance in the vehicle which is peculiar to Japan.

The road along which they were riding was an attractive one in every
respect. Odd temples, bridges that looked like toy spans crossing
miniature brooks, little pine trees, tiny people were to be seen
everywhere. As it was the month of the cherry blossom, the trees of
that variety were decked with delicate, fragile flowers and the neat
little houses were decorated with the fragrant petals.

The Jap between the shafts jogged along as unconcernedly as if he had
been not a human being but a beast of burden.

“Hey, stop!” cried Ned suddenly, as they passed under a majestic grove
of big trees bordering both sides of the road. The shade felt grateful
after the heat of the sun. At the end of the colonnade of trees was a
temple, a fairy-like structure about which people were clustered. It
had struck Ned that something interesting might be seen there.

“You no tired?” he asked of the coolie as they alighted.

The man grinned and shook his head.

“No, honorable sailor. Me no tired. Me go all same one, two, ten,
twenty mile.”

“Wow!” exclaimed Herc, “you can have your job! I wouldn’t pull one of
these rickety shaws, or whatever you call them, half a mile on a bet.”

“Honorable red-o-head sailor no used pullee ’rickshaw.”

“Hey, Ned, did you hear what he called me?” sputtered Herc, full of
indignation.

“That’s all right, Herc. Your thatch was a birthday present. Don’t be
ashamed of it. Come on, let’s go and have a look at that temple. I’ve a
notion something interesting is going forward yonder.”

“All right; but I don’t want these Japs calling me ‘red-head.’ I get
enough of that in the fleet. I can dispense with it on shore.”

Arm in arm, the two young blue-jackets set off under the trees. In many
of the branches hung little articles formed of bits of glass decorated
with bright colors. As the breeze blew, the bits of glass jangled
together with a pretty tinkling sound that made Ned exclaim admiringly.

“The Japs are the only people on earth who could have thought of such a
pretty device. Isn’t it delightful, Herc?”

“Humph, sounds to me like they were washing dishes or using their
knives and forks. It’s just the noise our mess makes at dinner. That
reminds me, I’m awfully hungry.”

“We’ll have something to eat when we go back. Come on now and let’s see
what’s going on.”

They advanced toward the temple, but suddenly Herc stopped.

“Look, Ned! Look there!”

Under a cherry tree in the full glory of its blossoms was an
odd-looking figure carved out of some sort of dark wood. Under the feet
of this idol, for such it plainly was, Herc had beheld an elaborate
feast spread out. There was fish, meat, and cakes of all kinds and a
big jar of water.

“Gracious, Ned, a regular table de hotey! I’m so hungry I could eat the
whole thing, idol and all. What do you suppose it is there for?”

“As a peace offering to that idol, I suppose. Come on.”

But Herc lingered.

“Hist, Ned,” he exclaimed with shining eyes. “I’ve a notion that here
is where I get a snack.”

“Don’t be foolish.”

“It’s all right; there is no one in sight.”

“It’s robbery.”

“How can you rob an idol? Come on.”

“No, thank you.”

“Then you keep watch while I put myself outside some of that grub. It’s
a shame to see it going to waste. They ought to be thankful to me for
helping the idol dispose of it. It is plain that he has no appetite.”

It was useless to argue with Herc in this mood. He vaulted a low
wall and made for the feast spread out under the cherry tree. Soon he
was deeply engrossed in stuffing away whatever looked best among the
various viands across which he had stumbled.

A shout from the road suddenly interrupted him. The cry came from Ned.

“Come here, Herc, quick! There are a lot of men coming down the road.
I guess they’ve seen you making a pig out of yourself and are coming
after you.”

“Great guns!”

Herc dropped a cake that he was eating and made for the road. But he
was too late. Before he reached there, a crowd of Japs, buzzing like
angry hornets, had closed in about him. They were all jabbering at once
and some of them began to lay hands on Herc.

“Belay there!” shouted the red-headed youth. “What in the mischief is
biting you fellows?”

An angry shout went up.

“They say you insult Dai Butsu,” said the ’rickshaw man who had come
running up.

“But who?” demanded Herc. “I only joined the old gentleman at his
lunch. He didn’t seem to have a good appetite and I thought I’d butt in
on old But-what’s-his-name.”

The ’rickshaw man hastily translated this speech to the angry Japs.
But instead of allaying their anger, the Dreadnought Boy’s explanation
appeared only to anger them the more.

“I’m afraid we’ve let ourselves in for trouble,” exclaimed Ned in a
worried tone; “this is a serious matter with these fellows.”

“Dai Butsu, the guard of the tomb of Tyemitsu the third Shogun of
Japan,” volunteered the guide; “him very holy.”

“I wish I had an eight-inch gun here,” cried Herc as the crowd drew
closer about the boys. “I guess that’s as good as any old show-gun or
blow-gun or whatever it is.”

Suddenly the crowd closed in with an angry roar. Taken by surprise,
the boys were forced backward. Herc felt his feet tripped from under
him, and fighting desperately, he was borne to the ground by sheer
press of numbers.



CHAPTER XXIV. THE CRUISE RESUMED.


“Help, Ned! Help!” roared Herc.

But Ned had all he could do to help himself right then. Like so many
ants swarming upon and attacking an interloper in their domains, the
little brown men had swarmed upon him, also. The brawny arms of the
Dreadnought Boy flung them off right and left, and as they fell back in
the crowd they knocked over more of the clustering people like balls in
a bowling alley.

“Hurray! A king-pin!” cried Ned, as down went five or six of the Japs
in a heap.

But before the words were fairly out of his mouth, more of the men
leaped upon him from behind. By a quick movement, Ned fell backwards,
crushing the breath out of his surprised opponents. He was up again
in a jiffy, only to find that he was still assailed by uncountable
numbers. They swarmed like flies round a honey-pot, and do what he
would, the boy could not shake them off.

A short way from him he saw Herc being borne down, and then saw him
struggle to his feet again.

“Whoop! Huroo!” yelled Herc suddenly.

Around the corner had come a string of ’rickshaws, each containing two
jolly tars.

“_Manhattans_, ahoy!” bawled Herc.

“Ahoy, mates!” shouted the sailors in the foremost ’rickshaw, and then,
as they saw who it was, they set up a yet louder yell.

“Come on, ship-mates! To the rescue! Hurray for Red-Head!”

“Hurry up!” shouted Herc.

The Jap ’rickshaw pullers dropped their shafts and ran for their lives.
They had no desire to get mixed up in a mêlée. Out of the odd rigs in
which they had been enjoying a sight-seeing spin, the sailors came
jumping. Many of them were from the _Manhattan_, and several were from
other ships. But both Dreadnought Boys were general favorites and in a
jiffy the Japs were parting right and left as the American seamen waded
in to the rescue of their ship-mates.

Five minutes after the arrival of the men-o’war’s-men not a Jap was to
be seen, and the two boys were explaining how they had come to get into
trouble.

“Red-Head, as usual,” laughed a tar from the _Manhattan_. “Strong, you
ought to leave him tied up some place when you come ashore.”

“I like that! Haven’t I the right to take a bite to eat when I see an
old wooden idol letting good grub go to waste?” expostulated Herc.

“When you’re in Rome, do as the Romans do,” put in another sailor,--the
one whom the sailors nick-named “Ben Franklin.” “In some parts of the
island your appetite might have been gone for good after your escapade,
Master Red-Head.”

“How is that?” sputtered Herc.

Ben Franklin made an expressive gesture, signifying that Herc might
have lost his head for his prank.

“Woof!” exclaimed Ned’s chum, “that would have been a fine dessert.
Come on, ship-mates, I’m going back to the ship and sleep in the
magazine. It’s safer than it is ashore.”

“For _you_ it is, anyhow,” chuckled a tar. “But hullo, mates, where are
all the ’rickshaw men? They’ve all gone.”

“Scared away, I reckon,” laughed another, a man off the _Idaho_. “Tell
you what we’ll do, we’ll be our own ’rickshaw pullers.”

“Hooray!” cried the men; and amidst a great to-do and lots of laughter
the blue-jackets placed themselves between the shafts, the fortunate
riders (whose turn at pulling was to come later on) shouting with glee.

“Get up there!” roared Ben Franklin at Herc, and off the red-headed
youth darted at top speed.

“Whoa! Whoa!” bawled the philosophic sailor, “not so fast! Take in
sail, mate! Shorten sail! Rocks ahead!”

The warning came too late. One wheel of the ’rickshaw struck a rock at
the edge of a little bridge and Ben Franklin, amidst the roars of the
tars, went sky-rocketing into space over the rail of the bridge. He
landed in a lot of soft mud and injured nothing but his dignity.

“You’re a horse that needs breaking,” he said to Herc, as he took his
seat once more in the ’rickshaw; and, despite all Herc’s pleadings, he
was compelled to pull the mud-stained Ben all through the streets of
Yokahama as a punishment for his skylarking.

The ’rickshaws were left at the ’rickshaw stand near the docks where
it was certain that their owners would reclaim them. Then the liberty
parties embarked and were towed back to their ships by the various
steamers.

So ended a stay in Yokahama, not a quarter of the details of which
we have had space to describe. The fleet there, as everywhere, met
unbounded enthusiasm and entertainment, and thousands of post cards
and photographs were sent home to the United States by the Jackies. A
big naval parade and a review of the fleet by the local dignitaries
served still further to impress upon the Far East Uncle Sam’s place and
dignity as a sea-power.

Many weeks now passed uneventfully. The fleet stopped at Melbourne and
Sidney, the two chief places on the island continent of Australia.
But at neither of these towns did the boys go ashore, as there were
others to take their turns at shore leave. However, from what they
heard they judged that the two cities named did not differ materially
from any progressive, modern American community, so that they were
not so disappointed as they would have been in strange lands among
foreign-speaking peoples.

Ahead of them lay Egypt and a planned trip to the Pyramids and the
Sphinx, and the wonders of Gibraltar with a side excursion into Spain.
All this helped to enliven their anticipations and made them regret all
the less that their liberty was curtailed at the Australian cities.

Through the Indian Ocean, across the blisteringly hot Red Sea,
the fleet had made its way, and now it was on what the Jackies
called the “home stretch.” One blazingly hot afternoon the long
line of battleships swung into the Gulf of Suez on its way to the
Mediterranean. Speed was reduced to four knots in accordance with the
rules of the canal which they were approaching. The sailors fretted
as the great ships crept along, seeming barely to move. On each side
extended the glittering, barren desert. Occasionally a cavalcade of
camel men passed. That was about all that relieved the monotony. But
just the same, Ned was impressed. All about them lay a wonderful region
famed in song and story.

“Herc, do you know that the Holy Land lies almost within reach of the
guns of this ship?” asked Ned, as the two lads leaned over the side of
the shaded forecastle drinking in a slight breeze which had sprung up
at sun-down. But even the wind was more like the blast from an oven
door than a cooling zephyr, after its passage over the blazing sands of
the desert.

“Is that so?” inquired Herc rather listlessly.

“Yes, Palestine, Damascus and Jerusalem are all within range.”

“How about Jericho?” inquired Herc.

“I don’t know about that.”

“I’ve been told to go there so often that if it’s handy I’d like to
make the trip,” grinned Herc.

“We are going to anchor at Suez.”

“Well?”

“There is a line there that connects with Cairo. From the latter city
we can go to visit the great Pyramids. Several of the men are going.
I have talked to them about it. I guess shore leave will be extended
to-morrow, and we may get as many as three days off, as the ships are
going to coal.”

“That’s a good time to get away from them,” said Herc; “it is like
living in a black snow storm.”

“Yonder is Suez, lads, over the port bow,” said a master’s-mate who was
passing.

The boys scampered over and beheld a picture that they never forgot.
Against the blazing red and gold of the evening sky, the dome and
minarets of the ancient city stood out blackly like fret-work cut out
of ebony. The mellow sound of bells and gongs calling to evening prayer
could be heard and combined to make the picture a memorable one.

The ships came to anchor as dusk fell, and lights began to twinkle
ashore. Strange-looking pirogues and other native boats began to dart
about among the steel leviathans like so many fire-flies. Sounds of
drums and weird Oriental music floated off the shore to the ships. Now
and then would be heard the wailing cry of some worshiper high in a
minaret. This mingled with laughter and tinkling sounds of stringed
instruments in the boats that glided about in the harbor, their
occupants intent on seeing the wonderful fighting ships of the great
Western nation.

The bugles that commanded “Hammocks up!” disturbed the peaceful scene
rudely.

“Come, Herc, time to turn in,” reminded Ned.

“Oh, bother the bugle, I could stand here all night. It beats Coney
Island.”

“Is that the best comparison you can find? Come on. We must be out
early to-morrow and get ashore in the first boats.”

Reluctantly both boys turned away, as did hundreds of their ship-mates.
Before long there was silence in the ship and aboard all the other grim
fighting-craft. Then, like a benison, the sweet, low notes of “taps”
echoed mournfully through the anchored fleet.

All lights but anchor lights disappeared instantly. Darkness enshrouded
the sleeping fleet. Only on deck the regular footsteps of the sentries
and the cry of the watch as the bell struck the hours, broke the
silence that brooded above the desert and the desert sea.



CHAPTER XXV. JACK ASHORE.


“Whoa, there! Whoa!”

“Hey, mate, this critter won’t steer right.”

“Mine’s got a list to starboard.”

“Mine’s lost his rudder and is all adrift!”

The Jackies from the fleet, mounted on donkeys on which they were
seeing the sights, had the bazaar in Cairo in an uproar. Natives in
long robes and red fez caps were darting about trying to bring order
out of chaos. Donkeys were braying, Jackies shouting with laughter, and
American tourists cheering, as they saw Uncle Sam’s fighting men coming
into town from the ornate railroad station which looked more like a
mosque than a depot.

[Illustration: The Jackies from the fleet ... had the bazaar in Cairo
in an uproar.--_Page_ 250.]

In and out among the joyous tars darted beggars of all hues, black,
yellow and white. Nubians, Arabs, Hindoos, even Chinamen were in
the throng, and they all rattled and banged on brass dishes yelling
for alms. Through the street occasionally an auto would come whirring
along, carrying perhaps a veiled woman or a swarthy Egyptian, or now
and then a British officer in full rig.

At such times the flying squadron of donkeys scattered in every
direction amidst the whoops and yells of their excited riders.

From the gutters mongrel curs snapped at the boys’ heels, and the
uproar, din and sun were enough to upset the strongest nerves.

“These people must all be crazy,” exclaimed Herc to Ned as they
maneuvered their donkeys in and out among the throng with more skill
than most of the sailors showed. The boys had been brought up on a farm
and knew something of riding.

“No, sir; that is, they’re only crazy for one thing, and that is
money.”

“Hookey! You’re right there. Beggars and sand are about all I’ve seen
in Egypt so far. I wonder the beggars haven’t bankrupted the rest of
the populace.”

“Backsheesh! Backsheesh!” wailed a filthy negro, getting in front of
them.

“Yes, yes, that’s what you are,” Herc assured him, “a black sheep, all
right enough.”

“Tell you what, boys,” cried somebody, “let’s have a parade!”

The suggestion was greeted with cheers. The Jackies began to urge their
donkeys into line.

“Columns of four, Fighting Bob’s formation!” shouted somebody.

“Who’ll lead it?”

“Strong! Strong! We want Strong!” chanted the crowd from the
_Manhattan_.

Men from other ships cried for their favorites, but in the end Ned was
forced to the front of the parade. One of the sailors began pounding on
a big brass bowl that he had bought in the bazaar. The cavalcade began
to move off with a perfect army of beggars and donkey drivers following
behind.

“Sing us ‘The Kearsage and the Alabama,’ Harness Cask!” hailed
somebody, addressing the old sailor from the _Manhattan_ whom we have
encountered before.

“If you’ll all join in the chorus.”

“Sure we will!” roared all the tars.

  “_It was early Sunday morning in the year of sixty-four!_”

piped up the old man, while the sailor with the brass bowl beat time;

  “_The Alabama she cruised out along the Frenchman’s shore!_
  _Long time she cruised about, long time she held her sway,_
  _But now beneath the Frenchman’s shore she lies in Sheer-bug Bay._”

“Chorus!” shouted Herc, and they swung into it with a vim that made the
walls of the houses on each side of the street vibrate.

  “_Hoist up the flag, boys,_
  _Long may she wave!_
  _God bless America,_
  _The home of the brave!_”

Old Harness Cask had about forty verses for his favorite song, and the
procession marched about the town till they were all finished. Then
the return to the bazaar began. For some reason, as they entered its
precincts Herc’s donkey was seized with a sudden fit of balking. It
braced all four legs together and refused to move. Herc prodded and
kicked, but all in vain.

“Twist his tail!” shouted a sailor, and half a dozen hands proceeded to
do so.

Biff! Like a flash, out shot the long-eared creature’s hind legs,
sending the tail-twisting tars down in a heap. Lashing out right and
left, the animal darted off.

“Whoa! Whoa!” shouted Herc, who had been taken all by surprise at the
unexpected success of the experiment.

“Wow! I’m falling off!” he yelled the next instant. He fell forward and
managed to clutch the donkey by the neck and one ear. This terrified
the animal even more. Plunging and bucking like a fishing cobble in a
storm he rushed about the bazaar, eluding all efforts to capture him.

Ned tumbled off his donkey and tried to grab Herc’s beast. But he was
shaking so with laughter at the other’s plight that he made a botch
of it and landed in a heap, narrowly missed by the donkey’s threshing
heels.

The tars yelled themselves hoarse.

“Hang on, Herc! You’ll come in a winner!” they yelled.

Suddenly the donkey altered his tactics. As swiftly as a rocket he
sped for a large open store in which brassware of all descriptions and
also Oriental confectionery were displayed for sale.

“Whoa!” yelled Herc.

But he might as well have tried to stay the stars in their courses.
With a wild bray the donkey dashed in a bee-line for the store.

“Oh, glory! He’s going right through it!” roared the sailors.

“Don’t strike your colors, Herc.”

“Stay on him; over the jumps!”

The shouts of the tars behind the donkey made him go faster. From the
store the proprietor, an enormously fat Egyptian, with a water-bowl
pipe in his hand, came rushing out. He spread his arms and tried to
stay the onrush of the donkey, to whose neck and ear Herc was still
clinging.

Crash! the donkey collided with him like a battering ram. With a wild
yell he fell over in the street, his pipe flying several feet and
landing on old Harness Cask’s head.

Next came the turn of a water carrier who went down in the midst of a
flood of his own wares, to the accompaniment of crashing jars. Never
had there been such a time in that market-place. Then came the climax.

With an uproar like the falling down stairs of a hundred cookstoves,
accompanied by their respective pots and pans, the donkey with Herc
still valiantly clinging to it, plunged clean into the midst of the
metalware shop. Brass kettles, vases, knick-knacks of a thousand kinds
flew in every direction. Big pots of Oriental confectionery showered
about Herc and the donkey, and to cap the climax down toppled a big
jar of a sort of honey preserve, drenching Herc from head to foot with
sticky sweetness.

Outside the store the Jackies howled with delight. Suddenly, however,
through the mob came charging a squad of black police.

“Gracious, if Herc hasn’t done it again!” groaned Ned despairingly.



CHAPTER XXVI. OFF FOR THE PYRAMIDS.


Out from the wreck Herc was hauled much the worse for wear, while
another section of the police captured the donkey. Ned was angry. He
stepped up to Herc and pointed an accusing finger at the red-headed
youth.

“Herc Taylor, I’ve a notion that you meant to do that.”

“I did not. What an idea!”

“Wasn’t that the store owned by the man you said had cheated you on
some post cards?”

“I reckon so,” rejoined Herc indifferently, trying to get the sticky
confection with which he had been deluged out of his hair and off his
uniform.

“Well, it’s up to you to do something. Look what disaster you have
caused! Why, an eight-inch shell couldn’t have provoked worse damage.”

“Oh, what do I care! I’d like to see a few shells coming into this
bazaar and cleaning out some of the thieves that infest it.”

“That is no way to talk. See, here comes the owner of the place now. He
looks mad. Maybe he’ll have you arrested.”

This possibility appeared to sober Herc down considerably.

“What do you want me to do?” he inquired, rubbing his bruises. “I’ve a
good mind to sue him for having his shop in the way of my donkey.”

The woe-begone store-keeper began muttering and wailing in Egyptian.
Ned turned to the other sailors.

“Fellows, shall we pass the hat?”

A shout of assent went up. The blue-jackets’ pockets were bulging with
pay and many of them had good-sized deposits in the ships’ savings
banks on board.

“I’ll put in a dollar,” said one young fellow.

“Good for you, Meadows.”

Ned snatched off his cap and received Meadows’ contribution. Then he
shoved the cap under Herc’s nose. The red-headed youth looked at it as
he might have looked at some strange animal.

“I won’t give him a cent,” he growled, the thought of his mad dash into
the brass ware shop rankling in him. A dangerous gleam shone in Ned’s
eyes, which Herc duly observed.

“Herc Taylor, you put in your contribution, or----”

Herc hastened to relieve himself of a one dollar bill from a roll that
was of generous girth. Quickly the other sailors gave their mites,
and before long a good sum was turned over to the bazaarman, who was
profuse in his expressions of thanks. But the sight of so much money
had made the eyes of the bazaar beggars glitter greedily. They crowded
hungrily about the sailors.

“Backsheesh!” they implored.

“You’ll get a black _stick_ if you don’t get out of here in jig time,”
roared Herc, who was aching to avenge his wrongs on somebody.

But the insolent fellows only pressed closer. They thrust filthy hands
up under the blue-jackets’ very noses. One even began plucking at Ned’s
pockets. This was too much.

“Charge them, boys!” cried Ned.

He flung himself upon his donkey. The others, even including Herc,
who had acquired a stray animal, followed suit. With a shout that
re-echoed through the streets the Jackies charged pell-mell down on the
mendicants, who scattered in every direction. The Nubian police made no
effort to interfere but appeared rather to enjoy the spectacle.

“Come on, boys; supper and then a show of some kind, and then we’ll
pipe down hammocks,” said Ned, when the mob had been dispersed. “We’ve
got to be up early to-morrow to go aboard the great Pyramids.”

“Hurray for the Pyramids!” shouted a sailor, and the cheers were given
with a vim. The lads were in a mood to cheer any and everything. Jack
ashore is surely the quintessence of exuberant spirits. That night,
at one of the best hotels in the city, the boys enjoyed the, to them,
novel experience of sleeping in a bed. But their slumbers were not
peaceful. They missed the roll and heave of the ship and they longed
for their hammocks. None of them was sorry when it was time to get up
and breakfast and then hurry to the station, from which a wheezy train
was to convey them out into the desert toward the tombs of the Pharaohs.

They found the station full of bright-eyed young salts all eager for
whatever the day might bring forth. The train was ready, and after a
number of false starts and more excitement among the native officials
than attends the sailing of a giant liner, it began to puff its way out
over the glaring sands. At the Gizeh station, some ten miles out of
Cairo, they were told that the train went no farther.

“Well, I want to see him about that,” expostulated Herc.

“See who, Red Head?”

“Why, the old Geezer. Isn’t this his town?”

“Herc, if you do anything like that again, you’ll be left behind,”
spoke Ned, and the blue-jackets roared their endorsement of this dictum.

“What do we do now? Walk or take donkeys?” asked a number of voices.

“Neither. We are going to board cruisers.”

“Cruisers?”

“Yes, desert cruisers,” laughed Ned; “in other words, camels.”

“Hurray for the camels!” cried a voice.

“Come ahead, then,” cried Ned, and led by the Dreadnought Boys the
happy party set out from the station. A short distance outside they saw
the “desert cruisers.” They lay with their legs folded under them and
their upper lips sneeringly curled. About them flitted the burnoosed
owners of the beasts, fierce-looking Bedouins, although the only
robbery they commit in these days is the fleecing of tourists.

“Wow! Look at the switch-backs!” cried Herc. “They’ve got double
turrets.”

The camels scrambled to their feet. There was a chorus of dismay from
the sailors.

“How are we going to board those craft?”

“Where are the accommodation ladders?”

“Watch,” advised Ned. “All ready, Mr. Boss Camel Man.”

A tall Bedouin, who appeared to be in charge, came forward grinning.

“How many camel you want?”

“All you have.”

“Only got twenty. Party take the others. Some of you can go on by
special train, if you like.”

A great number of the blue-jackets preferred to go by train and only
fifteen wished for camels. Among these latter were Ned and Herc.

“All ready,” said Ned, and then in obedience to sharp-barked commands
from their owners, the ships of the desert folded their legs and sank
majestically down on the sands.

“All aboard,” cried Ned; “one at a time. Take it easy. That’s it. Herc,
you----”

But Herc had already mounted. He grabbed from the camel driver his
short goad and jabbed it into his camel. The creature shot up as if it
had been on springs and raced off across the desert at its top speed.

“Look at Red-Head, he’s off on a cruise!” shouted the sailors.

[Illustration: “Look at Red-head, he’s off on a cruise!” shouted the
sailors.--_Page_ 265.]

“Wow! Help! Ned! I’m sliding off!” Herc’s voice was carried back to
them.

The red-headed boy was seen to careen over in his seat and make a
frantic effort to grasp the camel’s rear hump.

“Grab the stern turret!” roared somebody.

But Herc, after a futile effort to retain his seat, slid gracefully to
the desert, alighting in a cloud of dust. The camel trotted back to
the herd, leaving Herc to plod back over the hot sands amid a running
fire of raillery from his ship-mates. But he took it all in good part,
and soon they were off in earnest on their way to the Pyramids.



CHAPTER XXVII. LOST IN THE KINGS’ TOMBS.


“Now for the Tombs, fellows,” cried Ned, after the party had gazed at
the Sphinx, climbed the great Pyramid and enjoyed the fine view of the
desert and the verdant Nile valley.

“The tombs! What’s the use of seeing a lot of moldy old tombs?”
protested some of the sailors.

“Oh, all right. But Herc and I want to pay our respects to a few
mummies before we leave Egypt,” responded Ned. “You fellows wait for
us.”

“All right,” agreed Meadows. “I’m plumb worn out with sight-seeing.”

“Where’s that guide? Oh, here he is. Now then, ‘Lead on, McDuff,’”
cried Ned, and the two boys followed the guide up to a height of fifty
feet or more above the desert. Then they paused at a black hole.

“Do we go in there?” demanded Herc, as the guide paused to light
candles.

“Certainly, why not?”

“It looks like the subway. First time I ever heard of burying kings in
the subway.”

Into the dark recesses of the tombs they plunged after the guide. It
was almost insufferably hot and smelled musty and mouldy. In places the
ceiling was low and they had to crawl on their hands and knees on the
dusty floor.

“My uniform will be a fine sight when we get out of here,” grumbled
Herc. “Just after I had all that sticky stuff cleaned off it, too!”

“Never mind. That dust will brush off,” declared Ned, and they went
forward once more.

“Look out where you go,” said the guide.

“Why, are there holes one can fall down?” asked Herc.

“Many. Lot of things not known about Tombs. Nobody know everything
about them.”

They finally came to a high-domed chamber. The walls were covered with
queer hieroglyphics and writings. The guide explained that this was
the King’s chamber. He showed them some stone coffins in which lay the
mummified forms of dead and gone rulers. Ned was much impressed, but
Herc, as usual, did not take the situation seriously.

“Maybe they are just a lot of fakes,” he remarked. But presently he
tugged Ned’s sleeve.

“I guess they’re not, either,” he said.

“Not what?”

“Fakes. I just saw the ghosts of two of them.”

“What in the name of time are you talking about?”

“Look back there yourself. There, among the shadows. Don’t you see
anything?”

“Why, yes. I do see somebody.”

“Don’t you think it might be the spooks of some of those old kings
snooping about to find out what we want in here?”

“No, I’ll tell you what I think it is.”

“What?”

“Some of our fellows who think they’ll put up a trick on us.”

“Oh, ho! That’s it, eh? What do you know about that? Let’s turn the
tables on them.”

“Good, we’ll slip away from the guide and hide off in that corridor
there. When they come along we’ll give them a scare they won’t forget
in a hurry.”

The guide was in another part of the Tomb chamber and the boys made
a noiseless exit in the direction Ned had indicated. They crept into
the shadows, chuckling in low tones over the scare they were going to
give their fun-loving ship-mates. At last it grew quite dark. The boys
decided to halt. Before long they heard something to confirm their
theory. Whisperings began to draw near to them.

“Hush!” hissed Ned warningly.

“S-s-s-s-say, those fellows aren’t talking in English!”

“No; what do you suppose it means?”

“I think we ought to go out and reconnoiter.”

“Same here.”

The boys made their way back along the passage. Suddenly Ned gave an
amazed and rather alarmed exclamation.

“The light has gone!”

“Which one?”

“Why, the one in the Tomb chamber. Where’s that guide?”

“He’s vamoosed. Maybe he thought we’d gone out of our own accord. Say,
Ned, I kind of wish we’d stayed with him.”

“So do I now. Well, we’ve got to make the best of it. Light up your
candle, Herc, and then we’ll holler as loud as we can. If that does no
good, we’ll have to try to get out of this place by ourselves.”

The boys began shouting at the top of their voices. But hollow echoes
coming weirdly back from the stone walls of the burial chamber were the
only response to their shouts. Suddenly Herc grabbed Ned’s arm.

“I saw them again,” he gasped.

“Saw who?”

“Those spooks. They are right back of us.”

“I’m glad you did. It’s some of our boys, for sure. Hullo, fellows!”
hailed Ned. But no answer was vouchsafed. Ned began not to like the
look of things a little bit.

For a long time the boys tried to find their way out of the Pyramid,
but without success. Finally they came to a halt and exchanged dismayed
glances.

“We might as well face the truth,” said Ned in sober tones; “we’re
lost.”

“That’s right,” agreed Herc in melancholy fashion. “I wish we’d stayed
outside.”

“Maybe we can get back to the burial chamber,” suggested Ned, after a
while. The boys were then standing in a passageway into which they had
blundered in the hope that it might lead to daylight.

“I doubt it. I’ve not the remotest idea of where it is, and this
Pyramid is simply honeycombed with passages.”

“The guide said nobody knew all about it. Maybe we are in one of those
passages that haven’t been explored yet.”

“In that case, we stand a mighty poor chance of being found.”

“Hark!” Herc grabbed Ned nervously.

“What’s the trouble?”

“What’s up?”

“I heard whispering.”

“Where?”

“Back there in the darkness. There it is again,” said Herc, whispering
himself.

“I hear it, too, now. What on earth is it? I wish we had some weapon.
It may be thieves.”

“Look!” cried Herc suddenly. “It is thieves! I saw two men just for an
instant.”

“Who were they?”

“Two of those beggars that we charged in Cairo last night. They slunk
off when they saw I’d spotted them.”

“Gracious, that’s nice! Look out, Herc! Now, you’ve done it.”

In his agitation, Herc had allowed the candle that he was carrying to
slip from his fingers. The boys were plunged in total darkness. To make
matters worse, they couldn’t, although they groped in every direction,
recover the candle.

“Strike a match, Herc.”

“Yes, it’s a good thing I’ve got some.”

The light flared up and the boys looked down for the candle. But at
the same instant something totally unexpected happened. They felt
themselves seized from behind in such a manner that they were powerless
to resist. Then they were rushed rapidly along by their captors.

“Let go!” roared Herc. “Let----”

That sentence was never finished. The earth appeared to drop from under
Herc’s feet and he felt himself plunging into unknown, unlit space.
Suddenly he struck something and knew that he was sliding at express
speed down an almost perpendicular wall of rock as smooth as glass.

“Wow! I’m going fully sixty miles an hour! Where will all this end?”
exclaimed the boy.

Hardly had the words left his lips when he landed with a crash at
the foot of the slope and lay still. He didn’t dare to move for some
minutes, thinking that he must be seriously injured.

“Where’s Ned, I wonder?” he thought.

Then he cried out softly.

“Ned! Oh, Ned!”

The next minute he gave a jump. Almost in his ear he heard his
comrade’s reply.

“Hello, Herc, all right?”

“Yes, how about you?”

“O. K., although I don’t see how we escaped injury. Gracious, that was
a ride!”

“Yes, a kind of chute the chutes that I don’t care to tackle again.
Those rascals must have followed us out to the Pyramids to get revenge.
I recognized one of them as the fellow I cracked in the eye. I reckon
they ran us into one of those holes that the guide warned us about, and
had hard work to save themselves!”

“Well, the question now is, how are we going to get out of here?”

“Yes, and that’s some question, too. Wait; I’ll strike a match and
maybe we can get some bearings.”

The match flared up and showed them that they were in a chamber not
unlike the great burial Tomb, but smaller. Dust lay thick, and showed
that it was many years since human footsteps had trodden its floor.

“This is nice,” snorted Herc. “We might stay here as long as those
mummies have, and never be found.”

“It looks that way,” said Ned in a musing voice, as if he were thinking
of something else. Suddenly he gave a whoop.

“I’ve got it.”

“Got what?”

“An idea.”

“Good for you. Let’s hear it.”

“Why, those fellows couldn’t have come into the Pyramid the same way
we did. Our boys would have seen them and recognized their ugly mugs,
especially that one with the black eye. They must have come in some
other way. Maybe we can find that way.”

“And then, again, maybe we can’t.”

“Let’s try.”

“No harm in that.”

Striking matches sparingly, the boys set off. Soon they found
themselves in another passage. On and on they went till their feet
ached. They began to think that they never would get out of the place.
Suddenly, just as Herc struck one of the few remaining matches, Ned
leaned over with a sharp exclamation. He picked up something. It was
a small, cheap ornament of Egyptian manufacture. But it was precious
to him, for it showed that the passage they were traversing was a
traveled one. Herc received the news with shining eyes.

“Good; never say die. We’ll be out of here in two shakes of a duck’s
tail. See if we’re not.”

They negotiated a sharp turn and then, to their astonishment, found
that they were confronting a door of wood. From within came voices
filtering out through a chink, for the door was not fully closed.

“Be ready for trouble,” said Ned, and then he shoved the door open.

As it swung back, the boys got the surprise of their lives. Within was
a chamber illumined by a smoky lamp and containing a divan and a few
bits of Oriental furniture. On the divan were seated two men whom they
recognized at once as the rascally beggars who had followed them to the
Pyramids and trailed them in the dark.

Both men leaped to their feet as the boys confronted them. They dashed
for two revolvers that lay in a niche in the wall.



CHAPTER XXVIII. HOMEWARD BOUND.


“Jump them, Herc!”

“Don’t worry about me,” bawled out Herc as the boys leaped forward to
intercept the two beggars. They reached the revolvers just one jump
ahead of the two rascals, and the next instant the Egyptians found
themselves gazing into the barrels of two wicked looking pistols.

“Be good,” grinned Herc. “I’m very nervous, and if you make trouble my
finger might crook by accident on purpose.”

“Do you men understand English?” demanded Ned.

One of them nodded sullenly.

“Then lead us out of here at once, or----” he flourished the pistol he
held menacingly.

The man grunted and said something to his companion, who shrugged his
shoulders. Then each with a Dreadnought Boy pressing a pistol to his
back, the two sullen beggars marched off down a passage which they said
would lead to the desert. They told the truth. Before long the lads and
their guides emerged at the foot of the Pyramid and were met by a glare
of dazzling sunlight.

“Help! Ouch, I’m struck blind!” cried Herc, as the glare greeted him.

“So am I. It is coming suddenly into the bright sunlight out of that
dark hole.”

The boys blinked and winked, but everything was black for a time. Then
when they opened their eyes they got a surprise. Taking advantage of
their temporary blindness, the two beggars had slipped off.

“Well, let them go,” said Ned. “We haven’t got time to prosecute them
anyhow. Let’s join our ship-mates.”

“Aren’t you going to notify the authorities?” asked Herc.

“Certainly, I shall do that. I believe those fellows must have made a
practice of tracking and robbing people in the Pyramid. They would have
robbed us if they hadn’t pushed us into that hole by mistake, I think.”

And Ned was right. The two Dreadnought Boys had discovered what had
long puzzled the authorities; namely, the hiding place of the rascals
who tracked travelers whom they thought had money and robbed them in
the Pyramid. The lair that they had made for themselves was destroyed
and ultimately many of them were captured and imprisoned.

The boys rejoined their ship-mates and a wonderful tale they had to
tell. It appeared that the guide, when he missed them, concluded that
they had started back for the entrance of the Pyramid and set out after
them, just as they had supposed was the case.

That night they returned to the ship, although their leave had not yet
expired. Like many of their ship-mates they had seen quite enough of
Egypt and were impatient to get to sea again. Two days later the canal
was traversed and the battle fleet entered the Mediterranean, en route
for Gibraltar.

The first sight of the famous rock made the boys enthusiastic.
It looked just like it did in the pictures, and they thrilled as
they gazed at the wonderful fortifications, although naval experts
have doubted if, for all their formidable appearance, the guns of
Gibraltar could stop a hostile fleet of modern ships from entering the
Mediterranean.

Ned and Herc got leave to go ashore that afternoon and left in one
of the first liberty boats. They found much that was strange and
interesting in the historic rock, which is galleried and tunneled
like an ant’s nest. Red-coated British soldiers were strutting about
everywhere, for the place is kept heavily garrisoned.

They soon tired of the town, though, and after purchasing and posting
numerous post-cards to their friends at home, they roamed off up a
steeply winding road. As they rose higher they had a fine view of the
fleet lying at anchor and of the distant coast of Africa. Behind them,
connected with the rock by a narrow strip of sandy land, was Spain.

They passed several sentries, all of whom gave them a friendly nod. All
at once they came to an iron gate, which was locked.

“Guess that means ‘stop,’” said Ned.

“There’s no sign on it,” rejoined Herc. “I don’t see why we can’t go
right on.”

“If we climb it,--yes. But we might get into trouble. I hear that there
are parts of this rock where no foreigner is allowed.”

“Well, this can’t be one of them or there’d be a sentry here. Look,
there’s another gate down there. Let’s try that one. I’d like to get
right to the top of the rock by the signal-tower.”

“So would I. Well, we’ll try that gate.”

It was open and the boys passed through. The path wound steeply upward.
They rounded a shoulder of rock and a magnificent view burst upon
them. They were still admiring it when a heavy hand was laid on Ned’s
shoulder. Simultaneously somebody tapped Herc in a similar manner.

“Wha-wha-what!” exclaimed Ned, considerably startled.

The next minute he was destined to be more astonished. He wheeled
indignantly and saw a file of scarlet-coated soldiers behind them in
charge of a sergeant. The sergeant motioned to the two Dreadnought Boys.

The soldiers stepped forward and seized them.

“What does this mean?” cried Ned.

“You are under arrest.”

“Under arrest? What for?”

“You have no right on this part of the rock. How did you get here?”

“Through a gate. It was unlocked and no sentry on duty, so we thought
it was all right.”

“The sentries were being changed and for the minute there was not one
there. That does not excuse you.”

“But we are sailors from the flag-ship of the American fleet!”

“That makes it all the worse. We don’t like Yankees prowling around
here.”

“Pooh! I could blow your old rock out of the water with one of our
guns!” sputtered Herc, very red in the face.

“That will do, young man. None of your impertinence. Forward, march.”

“Where are you taking us?” asked Ned, as the file moved off, marching
on each side of the boys.

“To the officer of the day.”

The officer of the day proved to be a snappy man with a huge moustache
and a monocle. He wasted no time over ordering the boys confined. To
their protests he paid not the slightest heed. He refused even to
communicate with the ship.

“I must lay the matter before the higher authorities,” he said. “It
looks to me as if you have committed a grave offense. You must be
locked up pending further developments.”

“What, again!” exclaimed Herc, referring to their arrest at Hawaii.

“Ah! So you have been in trouble before? Dangerous characters, eh?”
said the officer triumphantly.

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Ned indignantly. “We are American
sailors. You can speedily find out all about us by communicating with
our ship.”

No reply was vouchsafed and the boys were marched off to the guardhouse
and placed in a cell. That they could see the ships made the situation
all the more annoying. Suddenly Ned had an idea.

“Herc, we’ll tell them of our plight.”

“How? Shout to them, I suppose,” rejoined Herc, sarcastically.

“No. You know that big souvenir picture handkerchief I got down below
in the town?”

“A sheet, I’d call it.”

“So much the better. I mean to ‘wig-wag’ the fleet with it and tell
them the fix we are in.”

“Say, Ned,” cried Herc enthusiastically, “you ought to be a judge or a
lawyer or an inventor or something.”

“Thanks. I’d rather be a sailor.”

Ned pulled out his handkerchief and began wig-wagging with it. A sentry
on duty in front of the cells, which were open-fronted to admit cool
air, looked at him in surprise, but said nothing.

About that time the officer of the deck on the _Manhattan_ happened to
have his official spy-glass leveled at the rock. He saw the signal that
Ned was so frantically waving and summoned a signalman.

“Signalman! Somebody is wig-wagging us from the rock. Take the glasses
and see what they want.”

“Aye, aye, sir!”

It was not long before Ned had conveyed by his ingenious plan a clear
idea of their predicament to those on the flag-ship. Captain Dunham was
informed of the matter.

“Those lads in trouble again!” he exclaimed.

“Yes, sir; but it was not their fault. The British are very touchy
about their rock and suspect everybody of being spies. I guess that’s
how it happened.”

“No doubt you are right,” said the captain, when he had heard further
details.

“Quartermaster, order my boat away.”

“You are going ashore, sir?” inquired the officer of the deck.

“Yes. I must get those lads out of this difficulty at once.”

The captain went to the Governor-General, before whom he laid the case.
The Governor-General happened to be a good-natured man and when Captain
Dunham had told him of one or two of the boys’ pranks, he ordered their
release forthwith.

“But, in order to uphold discipline, I must ask you not to allow them
ashore again during the fleet’s stay here,” he said. “If they came on
the rock again it would look as if the officer who caused their arrest
was being flouted.”

“That seems rather an arbitrary ruling,” remarked Captain Dunham, “but
I will see that it is carried out.”

“Thank you. I shall meet you at the official dinner to-night”; and the
two dignitaries bowed ceremoniously and parted.

Some time later Ned and Herc were approached in their cell by a sentry.

“A patrol has come for you from the ship,” he said.

The door was unlocked and Ned and Herc were led out to meet a file of
their ship-mates on the broad grin.

“Taylor and Strong,” said the man in charge of the detail, “we are to
escort you on board.”

“You couldn’t escort us anywhere we’d rather go,” declared Herc,
vehemently. “I’ll be glad when we get our anchors up for the good old
U. S. A. I’m sick of foreign countries.”

“You will tell your captain that you are not to come ashore again while
your ship is in port,” snapped out the sergeant who had arrested the
boys.

“Thanks. We don’t tell our captain what to do. Do you order yours
about?” asked Ned sweetly.

“Run along, old boiled lobster,” shot out Herc. “You couldn’t pay me to
come ashore on your old rock again.”

Half an hour later the boat containing the patrol drew alongside the
port gangway of the _Manhattan_. Ned and Herc were marched on deck as
if they had been prisoners. The master-at-arms met them.

“The captain wants to see you at once,” he said.

“Wow! We’re in for a dose of the brig,” muttered Herc, “and through no
fault of our own.”

Ned looked dismayed.

“Can’t we have a chance to straighten up?” he asked.

“No; my orders are to send you aft at once.”

“Very well.”

Feeling anything but “very well,” the boys marched aft and presently
the orderly was announcing them to the captain.

“Come in, my lads,” was what they heard, and in they marched and stood
stiffly at attention, after saluting.

“Let me give you lads some good advice,” said the captain kindly. “I’m
not rebuking you, but it is best when ashore in foreign countries to
be careful of hurting other nations’ feelings or trespassing on places
which they regard as sacred and private. I want you to be more careful
in the future.”

“We will, sir,” said Ned.

“We _sure_ will, sir,” blurted out Herc.

The captain had to pass a hand over his face to conceal a smile.

“I suppose that promise holds good till the next time,” he thought to
himself.

Then he resumed aloud:--

“I have been much pleased with the conduct of you lads on this cruise
and with you particularly, Strong. Your gunnery at night practice was
excellent. You, too, Taylor, have done good work and both your names
will be sent in to Washington for promotion.”

“Oh, thank you, sir!” blurted out both boys, scarlet with pleasure and
with shining eyes.

“That is all, except something that the consul ashore wanted me to give
you, Strong.”

He handed Ned an envelope; and then resuming his “quarter-deck” voice
told the boys they could “carry on.”

They saluted and left the sacred precincts of the commander’s cabin.
When they got forward, Ned opened the envelope. It contained a pink
slip of paper and a note on official stationery.

“It’s a check!” cried Herc. “For five hundred dollars! Wow!”

The note explained that the government had forwarded the check to
Gibraltar so that Ned might get it on his arrival there. It was the
longstanding federal reward for the capture of Schmidt and the ring of
San Francisco tea smugglers.

Two days later anchors were shipped, and the great fleet with booming
of guns and blaring of bands got under way. They were homeward bound.
From the peak of each leviathan fluttered the long “homeward-bound
pennant.” As the shores of Europe sank below the horizon, the Jackies
broke into song.

  “_Hoist up the flag, boys!_
    _Long may it wave!_
  _Hurrah for America,_
    _The home of the brave!_”

Herc was uproarious over his coming promotion, which was almost
certain, as the captain had recommended it. But Ned was serious and
thoughtful. In a short time his days as a Jackie would be over forever.
He would no more sling his hammock, but sleep in a bunk and mess with
the chief petty officers. Another milestone of life had been passed
and before him lay the future. It loomed big with opportunity and
responsibility. Those who care to follow the careers of the Dreadnought
Boys yet further may learn how the lads acquitted themselves in their
new positions by reading the next volume of this series.

The lads were on the brink of adventures and thrilling experiences
beyond what they had hitherto known. Yet they were ready to meet either
fun or peril with the spirit of the true blue-jacket--the spirit that
has made our navy the wonderful force that it is. And so here we say,
“Good-bye, ship-mates,” and “Pipe down hammocks,” till we meet again in
the forthcoming volume:--“_THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS IN HOME WATERS._”

THE END

       *       *       *       *       *

BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

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The Boy Aviators in Nicaragua Or, Leagued With Insurgents

The launching of this Twentieth Century series marks the inauguration
of a new era in boys’ books--the “wonders of modern science” epoch.
Frank and Harry Chester, the BOY AVIATORS, are the heroes of this
exciting, red-blooded tale of adventure by air and land in the
turbulent Central American republic. The two brothers with their
$10,000 prize aeroplane, the GOLDEN EAGLE, rescue a chum from death in
the clutches of the Nicaraguans, discover a lost treasure valley of the
ancient Toltec race, and in so doing almost lose their own lives in the
Abyss of the White Serpents, and have many other exciting experiences,
including being blown far out to sea in their air-skimmer in a tropical
storm. It would be unfair to divulge the part that wireless plays in
rescuing them from their predicament. In a brand new field of fiction
for boys the Chester brothers and their aeroplane seem destined to fill
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thrilling and geared up to third speed.

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The Boy Aviators on Secret Service Or, Working With Wireless

In this live-wire narrative of peril and adventure, laid in the
Everglades of Florida, the spunky Chester Boys and their interesting
chums, including Ben Stubbs, the maroon, encounter exciting experiences
on Uncle Sam’s service in a novel field. One must read this vivid,
enthralling story of incident, hardship and pluck to get an idea of
the almost limitless possibilities of the two greatest inventions of
modern times--the aeroplane and wireless telegraphy. While gripping and
holding the reader’s breathless attention from the opening words to the
finish, this swift-moving story is at the same time instructive and
uplifting. As those readers who have already made friends with Frank
and Harry Chester and their ‘bunch’ know, there are few difficulties,
no matter how insurmountable they may seem at first blush, that
these up-to-date gritty youths cannot overcome with flying colors. A
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The Boy Aviators in Africa Or, An Aerial Ivory Trail

In this absorbing book we meet, on a Continent made famous by the
American explorer Stanley, and ex-President Roosevelt, our old friends,
the Chester Boys and their stalwart chums. In Africa--the Dark
Continent--the author follows in exciting detail his young heroes,
their voyage in the first aeroplane to fly above the mysterious forests
and unexplored ranges of the mystic land. In this book, too, for the
first time, we entertain Luther Barr, the old New York millionaire,
who proved later such an implacable enemy of the boys. The story of
his defeated schemes, of the astonishing things the boys discovered in
the Mountains of the Moon, of the pathetic fate of George Desmond, the
emulator of Stanley, the adventure of the Flying Men and the discovery
of the Arabian Ivory cache,--this is not the place to speak. It would
be spoiling the zest of an exciting tale to reveal the outcome of all
these episodes here. It may be said, however, without “giving away”
any of the thrilling chapters of this narrative, that Captain Wilbur
Lawton, the author, is in it in his best vein, and from his personal
experiences in Africa has been able to supply a striking background for
the adventures of his young heroes. As one newspaper says of this book:
“Here is adventure in good measure, pressed down and running over.”

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BY CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON

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The Boy Aviators’ Treasure Quest Or, The Golden Galleon

Everybody is a boy once more when it comes to the question of hidden
treasure. In this book, Captain Lawton has set forth a hunt for gold
that is concealed neither under the sea nor beneath the earth, but
is well hidden for all that. A garrulous old sailor, who holds the
key to the mystery of the Golden Galleon, plays a large part in the
development of the plot of this fascinating narrative of treasure
hunting in the region of the Gulf Stream and the Sargasso Sea. An
aeroplane fitted with efficient pontoons--enabling her to skim the
water successfully--has long been a dream of aviators. The Chester
Boys seem to have solved the problem. The Sargasso, that strange
drifting ocean within an ocean, holding ships of a dozen nations and
a score of ages, in its relentless grip, has been the subject of many
books of adventure and mystery, but in none has the secret of the ever
shifting mass of treacherous currents been penetrated as it has in the
BOY AVIATORS’ TREASURE QUEST. Luther Barr, whom it seemed the boys had
shaken off, is still on their trail, in this absorbing book and with
a dirigible balloon, essays to beat them out in their search for the
Golden Galleon. Every boy, every man--and woman and girl--who has ever
felt the stirring summons of adventure in their souls, had better get
hold of this book. Once obtained, it will be read and re-read till it
falls to rags.

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The Boy Aviators in Record Flight Or, The Rival Aeroplane

The Chester Boys in a new field of endeavor--an attempt to capture a
newspaper prize for a trans-continental flight. By the time these lines
are read, exactly such an offer will have been spread broadcast by one
of the foremost newspapers of the country. In the Golden Eagle, the
boys, accompanied by a trail-blazing party in an automobile, make the
dash. But they are not alone in their aspirations. Their rivals for the
rich prize at stake try in every way that they can to circumvent the
lads and gain the valuable trophy and monetary award. In this they stop
short at nothing, and it takes all the wits and resources of the Boy
Aviators to defeat their devices. Among the adventures encountered in
their cross-country flight, the boys fall in with a band of rollicking
cow-boys--who momentarily threaten serious trouble--are attacked by
Indians, strike the most remarkable town of the desert--the “dry” town
of “Gow Wells,” encounter a sandstorm which blows them into strange
lands far to the south of their course, and meet with several amusing
mishaps beside. A thoroughly readable book. The sort to take out behind
the barn on the sunny side of the haystack, and, with a pocketful of
juicy apples and your heels kicking the air, pass happy hours with
Captain Lawton’s young heroes.

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BY CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON

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The Boy Aviators’ Polar Dash Or, Facing Death in the Antarctic

If you were to hear that two boys, accompanying a South Polar
expedition in charge of the aeronautic department, were to penetrate
the Antarctic regions--hitherto only attained by a few daring
explorers--you would feel interested, wouldn’t you? Well, in Captain
Lawton’s latest book, concerning his Boy Aviators, you can not only
read absorbing adventure in the regions south of the eightieth
parallel, but absorb much useful information as well. Captain Lawton
introduces--besides the original characters of the heroes--a new
creation in the person of Professor Simeon Sandburr, a patient
seeker for polar insects. The professor’s adventures in his quest
are the cause of much merriment, and lead once or twice to serious
predicaments. In a volume so packed with incident and peril from cover
to cover--relieved with laughable mishaps to the professor--it is
difficult to single out any one feature; still, a recent reader of it
wrote the publishers an enthusiastic letter the other day, saying:
“The episodes above the Great Barrier are thrilling, the attack of
the condors in Patagonia made me hold my breath, the--but what’s the
use? The Polar Dash, to my mind, is an even more entrancing book than
Captain Lawton’s previous efforts, and that’s saying a good deal. The
aviation features and their technical correctness are by no means the
least attractive features of this up-to-date creditable volume.”

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BOY INVENTORS SERIES

Stories of Skill and Ingenuity

By RICHARD BONNER

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE BOY INVENTORS’ WIRELESS TELEGRAPH.

Blest with natural curiosity,--sometimes called the instinct of
investigation,--favored with golden opportunity, and gifted with
creative ability, the Boy Inventors meet emergencies and contrive
mechanical wonders that interest and convince the reader because they
always “work” when put to the test.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ VANISHING GUN.

A thought, a belief, an experiment; discouragement, hope, effort and
final success--this is the history of many an invention; a history in
which excitement, competition, danger, despair and persistence figure.
This merely suggests the circumstances which draw the daring Boy
Inventors into strange experiences and startling adventures, and which
demonstrate the practical use of their vanishing gun.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ DIVING TORPEDO BOAT.

As in the previous stories of the Boy Inventors, new and interesting
triumphs of mechanism are produced which become immediately valuable,
and the stage for their proving and testing is again the water. On the
surface and below it, the boys have jolly, contagious fun, and the
story of their serious, purposeful inventions challenge the reader’s
deepest attention.

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       *       *       *       *       *

BORDER BOYS SERIES

Mexican and Canadian Frontier Series

By FREMONT B. DEERING.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE BORDER BOYS ON THE TRAIL.

What it meant to make an enemy of Black Ramon De Barios--that is the
problem that Jack Merrill and his friends, including Coyote Pete, face
in this exciting tale.

THE BORDER BOYS ACROSS THE FRONTIER.

Read of the Haunted Mesa and its mysteries, of the Subterranean River
and its strange uses, of the value of gasolene and steam “in running
the gauntlet,” and you will feel that not even the ancient splendors of
the Old World can furnish a better setting for romantic action than the
Border of the New.

THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE MEXICAN RANGERS.

As every day is making history--faster, it is said, than ever
before--so books that keep pace with the changes are full of rapid
action and accurate facts. This book deals with lively times on the
Mexican border.

THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE TEXAS RANGERS.

The Border Boys have already had much excitement and adventure in their
lives, but all this has served to prepare them for the experiences
related in this volume. They are stronger, braver and more resourceful
than ever, and the exigencies of their life in connection with the
Texas Rangers demand all their trained ability.

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       *       *       *       *       *

FRANK ARMSTRONG SERIES

Twentieth Century Athletic Stories

By MATHEW M. COLTON.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

FRANK ARMSTRONG’S VACATION.

How Frank’s summer experience with his boy friends make him into a
sturdy young athlete through swimming, boating, and baseball contests,
and a tramp through the Everglades, is the subject of this splendid
story.

FRANK ARMSTRONG AT QUEENS.

We find among the jolly boys at Queen’s School, Frank, the
student-athlete, Jimmy, the baseball enthusiast, and Lewis, the
unconsciously-funny youth who furnishes comedy for every page that
bears his name. Fall and winter sports between intensely rival school
teams are expertly described.

FRANK ARMSTRONG’S SECOND TERM.

The gymnasium, the track and the field make the background for the
stirring events of this volume, in which David, Jimmy, Lewis, the “Wee
One” and the “Codfish” figure, while Frank “saves the day.”

FRANK ARMSTRONG, DROP KICKER.

With the same persistent determination that won him success in
swimming, running and baseball playing, Frank Armstrong acquired the
art of “drop kicking,” and the Queen’s football team profits thereby.

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DREADNOUGHT BOYS SERIES

Tales of the New Navy

By CAPT. WILBUR LAWTON

Author of “BOY AVIATORS SERIES.”

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON BATTLE PRACTICE.

Especially interesting and timely is this book which introduces the
reader with its heroes, Ned and Herc, to the great ships of modern
warfare and to the intimate life and surprising adventures of Uncle
Sam’s sailors.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A DESTROYER.

In this story real dangers threaten and the boys’ patriotism is tested
in a peculiar international tangle. The scene is laid on the South
American coast.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON A SUBMARINE.

To the inventive genius--trade-school boy or mechanic--this story has
special charm, perhaps, but to every reader its mystery and clever
action are fascinating.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON AERO SERVICE.

Among the volunteers accepted for Aero Service are Ned and Herc. Their
perilous adventures are not confined to the air, however, although they
make daring and notable flights in the name of the Government; nor are
they always able to fly beyond the reach of their old “enemies,” who
are also airmen.

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       *       *       *       *       *

MOTOR RANGERS SERIES

HIGH SPEED MOTOR STORIES

By MARVIN WEST.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE MOTOR RANGERS’ LOST MINE.

This is an absorbing story of the continuous adventures of a motor
car in the hands of Nat Trevor and his friends. It does seemingly
impossible “stunts,” and yet everything happens “in the nick of time.”

THE MOTOR RANGERS THROUGH THE SIERRAS.

Enemies in ambush, the peril of fire, and the guarding of treasure make
exciting times for the Motor Rangers--yet there is a strong flavor of
fun and freedom, with a typical Western mountaineer for spice.

THE MOTOR RANGERS ON BLUE WATER; or, The Secret of the Derelict.

The strange adventures of the sturdy craft “Nomad” and the stranger
experiences of the Rangers themselves with Morello’s schooner and a
mysterious derelict form the basis of this well-spun yarn of the sea.

THE MOTOR RANGERS’ CLOUD CRUISER.

From the “Nomad” to the “Discoverer,” from the sea to the sky, the
scene changes in which the Motor Rangers figure. They have experiences
“that never were on land or sea,” in heat and cold and storm, over
mountain peak and lost city, with savages and reptiles; their ship of
the air is attacked by huge birds of the air; they survive explosion
and earthquake; they even live to tell the tale!

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       *       *       *       *       *

BUNGALOW BOYS SERIES

LIVE STORIES OF OUTDOOR LIFE

By DEXTER J. FORRESTER.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE BUNGALOW BOYS.

How the Bungalow Boys received their title and how they retained the
right to it in spite of much opposition makes a lively narrative for
lively boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS MAROONED IN THE TROPICS.

A real treasure hunt of the most thrilling kind, with a sunken Spanish
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lives of the Bungalow Boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS IN THE GREAT NORTH WEST.

The clever assistance of a young detective saves the boys from the
clutches of Chinese smugglers, of whose nefarious trade they know too
much. How the Professor’s invention relieves a critical situation is
also an exciting incident of this book.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES.

The Bungalow Boys start out for a quiet cruise on the Great Lakes and a
visit to an island. A storm and a band of wreckers interfere with the
serenity of their trip, and a submarine adds zest and adventure to it.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY - Publishers - NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

OAKDALE ACADEMY SERIES

Stories of Modern School Sports

By MORGAN SCOTT.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

BEN STONE AT OAKDALE.

Under peculiarly trying circumstances Ben Stone wins his way at Oakdale
Academy, and at the same time enlists our sympathy, interest and
respect. Through the enmity of Bern Hayden, the loyalty of Roger Eliot
and the clever work of the “Sleuth,” Ben is falsely accused, championed
and vindicated.

BOYS OF OAKDALE ACADEMY.

“One thing I will claim, and that is that all Grants fight open and
square and there never was a sneak among them.” It was Rodney Grant,
of Texas, who made the claim to his friend, Ben Stone, and this story
shows how he proved the truth of this statement in the face of apparent
evidence to the contrary.

RIVAL PITCHERS OF OAKDALE.

Baseball is the main theme of this interesting narrative, and that
means not only clear and clever descriptions of thrilling games, but
an intimate acquaintance with the members of the teams who played
them. The Oakdale Boys were ambitious and loyal, and some were even
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OAKDALE BOYS IN CAMP.

The typical vacation is the one that means much freedom, little
restriction, and immediate contact with “all outdoors.” These
conditions prevailed in the summer camp of the Oakdale Boys and made it
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THE GREAT OAKDALE MYSTERY.

The “Sleuth” scents a mystery! He “follows his nose.” The plot
thickens! He makes deductions. There are surprises for the reader--and
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NEW BOYS AT OAKDALE.

A new element creeps into Oakdale with another year’s registration of
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Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY - Publishers - NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

BOY SCOUT SERIES

BY LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON

MODERN BOY SCOUT STORIES FOR BOYS

Cloth Bound, Price 50¢ per volume.

The Boy Scouts on the Range.

Connected with the dwellings of the vanished race of cliff-dwellers was
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There are few boys who have not read of the weird snake dance and
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among the Moquis.

Through the fascinating pages of the narrative also stalks, like a grim
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The boy is weaponless and,--but it would not be fair to divulge the
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and place upon their shelves to be read and re-read.

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere.

Hurst & Co., Publishers New York

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BOY SCOUT SERIES

BY LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON

MODERN BOY SCOUT STORIES FOR BOYS

Cloth Bound Price, 50¢ per volume.

The Boy Scouts of the Eagle Patrol.

A fascinating narrative of the doings of some bright boys who become
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How they discover the whereabouts of little Joe, the “kid” of the
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Sold by Booksellers Everywhere.

Hurst & Co., Publishers New York

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MOTOR CYCLE SERIES

Splendid Motor Cycle Stories

By LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON.

Author of “Boy Scout Series.”

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS AROUND THE WORLD.

Could Jules Verne have dreamed of encircling the globe with a motor
cycle for emergencies he would have deemed it an achievement greater
than any he describes in his account of the amusing travels of Phileas
Fogg. This, however, is the purpose successfully carried out by the
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THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS OF THE NORTHWEST PATROL.

The Great Northwest is a section of vast possibilities and in it the
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THE MOTOR CYCLE CHUMS IN THE GOLD FIELDS.

The gold fever which ran its rapid course through the veins of the
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Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY - Publishers - NEW YORK

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GIRL AVIATORS SERIES

Clean Aviation Stories

By MARGARET BURNHAM.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

THE GIRL AVIATORS AND THE PHANTOM AIRSHIP.

Roy Prescott was fortunate in having a sister so clever and devoted
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THE GIRL AVIATORS ON GOLDEN WINGS.

That there is a peculiar fascination about aviation that wins and holds
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To most girls a coaching or yachting trip is an adventure. How much
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Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

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       *       *       *       *       *

MOLLY BROWN SERIES

College Life Stories for Girls

By NELL SPEED.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid

[Illustration]

MOLLY BROWN’S FRESHMAN DAYS.

Would you like to admit to your circle of friends the most charming of
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MOLLY BROWN’S SOPHOMORE DAYS.

What is more delightful than a re-union of college girls after
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self into everybody’s affections speedily and permanently.

MOLLY BROWN’S JUNIOR DAYS.

Financial stumbling blocks are not the only things that hinder the
ease and increase the strength of college girls. Their troubles and
their triumphs are their own, often peculiar to their environment. How
Wellington students meet the experiences outside the class-rooms is
worth the doing, the telling and the reading.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY - Publishers - NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

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  Deserted Wife.
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  Lost Heiress, The.
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  Vivia.
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Price, 50c. per volume, (COST OF MAILING INCLUDED.)

Our complete catalogue is yours by asking for it.

HURST & CO., Publishers, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration]

Little Prudy Books

A handsome little series of books by that popular writer of books for
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  LITTLE PRUDY.                   Sophie May
  LITTLE PRUDY’S CAPTAIN HORACE.  Sophie May
  LITTLE PRUDY’S COUSIN GRACE.    Sophie May
  LITTLE PRUDY’S DOTTY DIMPLE.    Sophie May
  LITTLE PRUDY’S SISTER SUSY.     Sophie May
  LITTLE PRUDY’S STORY BOOK.      Sophie May

Sent, postage paid, upon receipt of Fifty Cents.

Ask us to send you our complete catalogue.

HURST & CO., Publishers, NEW YORK

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber’s Notes:

Captain Wilbur Lawton is a pseudonym for John Henry Goldfrap
(1879-1917), who wrote using several pseudonyms.

Illustrations have been moved to paragraph breaks near where they are
mentioned.

Punctuation has been made consistent.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation were retained as they appear in
the original publication, except that obvious typographical errors have
been corrected.





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