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Title: Under the periscope
Author: Bennett, Mark
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Under the periscope" ***


                          UNDER THE PERISCOPE

                              MARK BENNETT
                          (LATE LIEUT. R.N.R.)


                          LONDON: 48 PALL MALL
                       W. COLLINS SONS & CO. LTD.
                     GLASGOW   MELBOURNE   AUCKLAND

                            Copyright 1919

                                 C. K.

         But for whom this book would never have been written.


For those who have no knowledge of the ways and habits of submarines,
a preface is unnecessary, and my only hope is that this book may
enlighten them on points on which they were formerly in ignorance.
One is often asked, ‘What does it feel like to be below the sea?’
and a host of questions of a similar character, and it is just these
questions that I have endeavoured to answer. The incidents recorded are
all founded on fact, and many of them are personal experiences.

Of my one-time comrades of the Submarine Service, however, I have a
favour to ask. I beg them not to be too critical nor to point out
its deficiencies, but rather to remember that this book was written
while the War was still with us, and that a large amount of detail had
therefore to be omitted.

Moreover, the boat described is of one particular class, and if they
themselves have never served in that class of submarine, ‘more’s the

All luck to our successors in the next war, and may they fight in the
open air.

                                                                   M. B.


Mr Bennett’s admirable book tells us of the officers and men of the
Submarine Service and of the working of that wonderful vessel, the
submarine. The author served throughout the war as an officer in H.M.S.
submarine No.----, so that he writes of his own knowledge. Mr Bennett
is a professional sailor; when he is not fighting for king and country
he is an officer in His Majesty’s Mercantile Marine; and yet there is
many a professional writer who may envy Mr Bennett’s skill in the craft
of writing. As a rule, the man who does things is the least capable of
writing about them; but when he can write, he is best of all. And of
such is Mr Bennett.

The naval architect, when (in a rash moment) he gave the submarine
to the Royal Navy, offered a new and a perilous enterprise to the
indomitable spirit of the seaman. How that enterprise is achieved,
with what courage, endurance, cheerfulness, enthusiasm, with what
extraordinary skill, Mr Bennett tells us with a seamanlike modesty and
precision. The task set to the Navy was how to wield a new weapon, an
invisible weapon striking with the torpedo. It was not until 1910 that
a British submarine went without escort into deep water and proved her
capacity to cruise and fight as an independent unit. During the war,
we heard a deal of the German submarine, and very little of our own
Submarine Service. Mr Bennett narrates the story of one submarine, and
in so doing, informs us more vividly and truly than all the official
reports can ever inform us.

With the submarine, Germany very nearly defeated the entire British
Navy, but not quite. The difference between victory and failure resided
not in the submarine, which is machinery, but in the officers and
men. Had the positions been reversed: had the British held the German
strategical position, had the Germans owned the British Grand Fleet;
there would have been very little left of that tremendous armada ere
six months were over. The submarine, handled as Mr Bennett describes,
has in fact made an end of the old Navy.

There is now the Navy that swims, the Navy that flies, and the Navy
that dives. These three are one: and into what this triple machine will
evolve, none knows. But it is enough to know something of the quality
of the officers and men, for these are the masters of the machine.

                                                       L. COPE CORNFORD.

  LONDON, _April, 1919_.

[_Printed after books were bound._]



  UNDER THE PERISCOPE                                                  1

  PATROL                                                               3

  THE MOTHERS                                                         45

  EMPTY SADDLES                                                       47

  THE BOGIE MAN                                                       67

  ‘EXERCISE ATTACKS’                                                  69

  NEPTUNE AND BRITANNIA                                              103

  PERSONNEL                                                          105

  THE DOCKYARD                                                       145

  ‘SURVEY AND DEMAND’                                                147

  ACTION                                                             191

  THE REAL THING                                                     193

  THE SEAGULLS                                                       231

  ‘FOR THOSE IN PERIL ON THE SEA’                                    233



    We know the ships of Carthage,
    We know how history speaks,
    We know the Roman galleys,
    The triremes of the Greeks.
    We know the cogs and frigates,
    The privateers and sloops,
    We know the line-of-battle ships,
    And lofty Spanish poops.


    We know the great Armada,
    We know the ships of Drake,
    We know the three-decked wooden walls,
    Of Nelson’s battle wake.
    We know the Super-Dreadnoughts,
    We know the cruisers lean;
    But, save our foes, speak up, who knows
    The British Submarine?


His Majesty’s Submarine ‘123’ lay alongside her depot ship _Parentis_,
her lean, gray superstructure showing up ghostly white against the dark
outline of the larger vessel.

The night was warm, though dark and overcast, and the light
south-easterly breeze merely ruffled the waters of the harbour, causing
a lap-lapping noise between the two vessels, the only sound that broke
the intense silence of the summer night.

As the great fleet, anchored in the harbour, swung to the turn of the
tide, ‘123’ exposed her broadside, a long low hull bulging outwards
at the centre, and supporting the superstructure, on the fore part of
which the gun was mounted. Amidships rose the conning-tower and the
little bridge, the standard and the two periscopes, pointing up to
Heaven like the fingers of an avenging angel.

The after deck was bare save for the dark rings of the hatches, leading
down to her steel internals.

The anchored fleet showed up in dark blurs and splotches, as far as
the eye could see. Line after line of battleships, battle cruisers,
destroyers and torpedo boats, backed up by a host of merchant ships of
every type and size.

A light gleamed suddenly from the submarine, faded away, flashed out,
and disappeared. Figures moved quietly along the deck, and the sound of
subdued voices rose, broken now and then by the clump of a wet rope’s
end or the clang of a closing deck locker.

Then the conning-tower hatch opened and Lieut. Commander John Raymond,
R.N., in command of H.M. Submarine ‘123,’ rose to view, heaving himself
through the narrow opening by painful sections.

He was a big, strongly-built man of about thirty-three, clad in an
old--a very old--suit of uniform, a muffler, sea-boots, a pair of
binoculars, and his own inborn modesty.

After him came the navigator, an R.N.R. Lieutenant, lovingly clasping
the gyro compass repeater to his bosom, and muttering imprecations the
while on the coil of electric cable which trailed up after him like a
spider’s web.

‘Phew!’ he said, sniffing the air. ‘Dark night.’

The captain glanced quickly fore and aft.

‘All ready, coxswain?’ he queried.

A burly figure now loomed up on the now crowded conning-tower.

‘All ready, sir.’

Raymond leant down and pulled a lanyard, and a bell rang below in the
control room.

‘Sir,’ boomed a voice as a face appeared in the circle of the hatch.

‘All ready below?’

‘All ready, sir.’

‘Group down?’[1]

‘Grouped down, sir.’

‘Let go fore and aft,’ cried Raymond to the waiting men on the

‘All gone, sir.’

At the fore part of the conning-tower a small pedestal rose containing
the magnetic compass and steering gear and a number of small switches.

Raymond pressed two of these and a hooter or ‘Klaxon Horn’ sounded
below, a bell rang, and the twin screws began to revolve.

‘Astern both it is. Helm amidships.’

‘’Midships, sir,’ from the coxswain.

‘Keep a look out aft, Boyd,’ said Raymond, turning to the navigator.

‘Ay, ay, sir,’ came the answer, then ‘all clear aft, sir.’

‘The Klaxon’s sounded again.’

‘Ahead starboard, astern port. Hard-a-starboard!’ snapped Raymond.

‘Hard over, sir,’ chorused the coxswain.

‘123’ stopped coming astern, gathered herself together, and then slowly
surged ahead and swung round as sedately as a dowager.

‘Stop port. Ahead port,’ snorted the ‘Klaxon.’

‘’Midships,’ from Raymond. ‘Steady. Take her out.’

‘Take her out, sir.’

The boat steadied on her course and travelled silently down the
harbour on her electric motors, carefully picking her way between the
dark shapes of the anchored vessels.

Conversation on the bridge was at a premium. Tempers are apt to be
short and livers out of order at one o’clock in the morning.

Presently Raymond looked ahead through his binoculars and jerked the
bell lanyard impatiently.

‘Group up!’ he called down the shaft.

‘Grouped up, sir,’ came the answer.

The subdued churning of the twin screws ceased and as suddenly started
with redoubled energy as the batteries came in series, thrashing up the
water astern and causing the boat to vibrate fore and aft as she leapt
forward to the touch of the grouper switch.

Down in the electric lit interior the L.T.O.[2] and an S.T.[3] were
working the motor switches, ‘making and breaking’ in obedience to the
telegraph lights, to which the ‘Claxtons’ called attention. Right aft
in the engine-room the Chief E.R.A.[4] was hovering over the tail
shafts with an oil can and a lump of dirty waste, with the air of a
demon of the revels.

Forward of him were the air compressors and main motors, and the engine
clutches, and then the great eight-cylinder Diesel engines, a mass of
burnished steel and brasswork in a narrow electric lit tunnel. The
faint hum of the motors and the smell of fuel oil pervaded the air,
but the cheery faces of the stokers on watch robbed the scene of its

One of them who was whistling ‘Tennessee’ three tones flat, and bending
over a clutch with a dignified expression, straightened up as a man
came down the engine-room hatch.

‘’Ere, Sam, you remember that gell wot----’ he began.

‘’Strewth,’ quoth the new-comer. ‘Ain’t it got dark sudden?’

‘It usually does,’ broke in another voice from behind the engine, ‘at

‘No, I don’t remember any gall,’ replied Sam with some asperity; ‘and
wot’s more, if that clutch ain’t ready pretty damn soon, you’ll be
spoke to.’

‘Way down in Tennessee----’ continued the worker, ignoring the insult,
in a masterly manner.

Through the door in the engine-room bulkhead came the Chief E.R.A. to
hurl an insult at a tardy message-bearer, but the hoot of the telegraph
sent him diving back to his lair almost immediately.

‘Stop ’er,’ cried the L.T.O., working the switches to the accompaniment
of a hiss and crackle of blue sparks.

‘Engines!’ came Raymond’s voice from above. ‘Three hundred revs.!’

‘Engines!’ shouted Furness, the L.T.O., into the engine-room. ‘Three

‘The ‘Chief’ waved a reply, and with a snip of switches the motors
started again. Then the engine clutches came home and the Diesels
began to heave with a fizz bump, fizz bump, fizz, fizz, fizz, as the
needles of the ammeters came back from discharging, past zero and on to

Once more Hoskins waved a grimy hand and the motor workers broke their
switches. She was away on her engines at ten knots now, her exhaust,
which had started in oily puffs, rapidly thinning astern to a white
semi-transparent vapour.

Into the battery-room at this juncture came the ‘Sub’ of the boat, an
ingenuous youth of nineteen, bearing upon his youthful shoulders as
second in command all the anxieties and troubles of the world.

‘All right, Furness?’ he asked.

‘Yessir, she went off very well.’

‘Good,’ replied Seagrave, looking at the volt-metre on the low-power
switchboard. ‘Keep the lighting down to a hundred and ten.’

He wandered off under the mess tables, clipped up to the steel ceiling
of the compartment to examine the gyro master-compass, a large
mushroom-shaped object of steel and electricity, whose rotor buzzed
round at the rate of over eight thousand revolutions a minute.

On his left were the electric cooking range, lockers and battery
ventilators, and overhead were the great vents which let the air out of
the main ballast tanks when the boat dived.

Presently, satisfied with the ‘Sperry’ compass, he stepped forward
through the watertight door into the control room, a regular holy of
holies, on whose shrine were offered many tins of ‘Brasso’ daily and
much elbow grease and bad language by heated and voluble ‘matlows.’[5]

Here were the levers which opened the great Kingston valves in the
bottom of the boat and flooded the tanks for diving. Here was the
adjusting pump, by means of which water could be pumped from any one
tank to another and into or from the sea. Aft was the periscope, a long
steel tube sticking up through the roof, fitted with an eye-piece and
graduated rings at its lower end. On the port side were the hydroplane
and diving rudder wheels, and the depth and pressure gauges. Forward
was the air manifold, by means of which, on opening the Kingston
valves, air could be blown into the tanks at a pressure of over 75 lbs.
to the square inch, and so force the water out of them when the captain
wished the boat to rise.

In the centre, up through the ceiling, was the conning-tower shaft,
gained by a steel ladder, above which was another periscope and the
torpedo firing gear.

Another watertight door led into the fore compartment where the
battery-ventilating fans were running, and the ceiling was interlaced
with the usual profusion of vents and shafts. Right aft an operator
was tuning the wireless installation, beyond which were the crew’s
lockers and the flag racks. On the port side was the chart table
and two bunks, one high up, and the other formed by a drawer, which
on being pulled out and stayed up, disclosed the bedding all neatly
stowed away. Underfoot, as in the after compartment, was the great
hundred-and-twenty volt battery which fed the hungry motors, and
forward were the air bottles and fuel tanks.

In the bows were the torpedo-tubes, whose brass doors winked in the
electric light, hiding the wicked torpedoes behind their shining faces.
A turn of the bow cap and a pull at a lever, and they would be off at
forty knots to reap a harvest of death and destruction. Abaft the tubes
were spare torpedoes, shining steel cylinders with copper war-heads,
holding sufficient T.N.T. to sink a Dreadnought.

The men were moving quietly about their work, the watch below preparing
to turn in while the remainder were cleaning and adjusting and getting
ready generally for the coming sea trip.

Once out of the harbour, ‘123’ lifted gently to the swell, and with her
hydroplanes turned out and all hatches closed, with the exception of
that from the conning-tower, was cutting through the water like a great

By now the crew had settled down to sea routine, and only the captain,
navigator, and coxswain were on the conning-tower bridge, and an
occasional seaman or stoker up for a breather or smoke-oh.

Boyd, who had been looking aft intently, lowered his binoculars and
glanced at the compass.

‘Bearing’s on, sir,’ he reported. ‘Course is fifty-six.’

‘All right. Steer fifty-six. That’ll do, coxswain. Helmsman to the

The coxswain was relieved and bustled below, and a young A.B. took
the wheel, or rather the electric switch which, by a movement of the
finger, altered the direction of the ship’s head.

‘Wonder if we’ll see anything this time,’ continued the skipper. ‘Fritz
doesn’t seem to be over-anxious about coming out lately. I never seem
to have any luck, but he’ll be a nasty customer to tackle if ever we do
run across him. He won’t give in while he’s got a kick left in him.’

‘Gets a bit monotonous,’ admitted Boyd. ‘My brother’s in France.
Sometimes I wish I were out there too. They do see something of the
scrapping at any rate. What gets on my nerves is this constant being
on the alert and never seeing anything. If you were told you were to
go out and strafe a Hun one wouldn’t mind. It’s the uncertainty of the
business that shakes me.’

‘Now, I can’t allow you to complain of your lot,’ replied Raymond.
‘Here you are in one of the latest inventions of the twentieth century,
and even that doesn’t satisfy you. When you have met George Willie in
his little sardine tin you won’t be quite so anxious.’

‘Two o’clock,’ he continued, glancing at his watch. ‘We’ll dive at
half-past five. Call me at a quarter past.’

‘All right. I’ll stop up till then. No need to wake Seagrave.’

Raymond’s legs disappeared down the hatch.

‘Call me if you see anything,’ he said as he went down, ‘and if you
should run across Fritz, man the gun and Hun him instanter. I’ll be up
before you get the first round off.’

‘Very good, sir. Good-night.’

‘Good-night.’ And the captain vanished below, like a stage demon down a

Left to himself, Boyd lit a pipe, took a look round with the glasses
and peered into the compass, where a thin circle of light showed up the
figures on its face.

The night was clear now for the clouds had rolled away, but it was
still very dark. All round was the dark rim of the horizon, and
just below, quite close, was the greedy ocean, lapping up over the
superstructure as the boat hurried on. The stars gleamed tranquilly and
the night seemed very still.

A queer feeling this, with only the helmsman and the click of the gyro
compass for company; like being adrift on the open sea in a small
motor-boat. Darkness and the faint chug-chug of the engines leant an
eeriness to the situation, and the proximity of the water only added to
its intensity. Down through the hatch Boyd could see a small circle of
the control room, where a messenger was sitting on a camp-stool reading
a penny magazine with evident enjoyment. Above and all around, nature
and solitude; below, men, the smell of cocoa, the engines of death and
... a penny magazine.

The watch dragged slowly on, and Boyd, seated on the little round stool
screwed into the deck, began to feel the chilliness of the dawn. He
rose and commenced pacing the ‘bridge.’

Not much room to walk here, for the periscope standard rose abaft the
conning-tower hatch, and beyond that were the bridge berthing wires.
Three steps and turn. Three steps and turn....

Then suddenly a broad white finger of light shot up over the horizon on
the port bow, cleaving the darkness with an eerie suddenness.

Boyd rang the bell.

‘Tell the captain that a searchlight is visible from the enemy coast,’
he called to the messenger in the control room.

A minute’s pause, the light wavered, steadied, and went out.

‘Captain says all right, sir,’ came the voice up the hatch.

‘Thank you,’ replied Boyd, relighting his pipe and settling down on the
stool again.

The boat sped on through the darkness. Somewhere away ahead, as
evidenced by that broad beam of light, lay the hostile coast towards
which the lean, grim-looking craft was racing as fast as Heaven and
Hoskins could make her go.

A brawny stoker rose for a breath of air like some giant seal, and,
in deference to the officer, took his stand on the other side of the
bridge. He was followed by the signalman, and the two men lit their
pipes and conversed in low tones.

Not much room up here for four men; the little bridge was crowded now.

When they had gone down, Boyd rang the bell again and muttered the
magic words, ‘food and cocoa,’ to the face that appeared in the circle
of light below, and presently a hand shot up out of the hatch bearing a
steaming mug which he hastily relieved of its burden.

The hand disappeared and returned with a biscuit-tin, and finally
vanished altogether.

The dawn was now paling the eastern sky, and the wedge of fore-deck
began to take shape and harden as the light gained strength. The faint
glow in the compass died out, and the coast ahead became visible: a
distant, mountainous country, looking menacing in the struggling dawn.

The navigator pulled out his watch.

‘Five o’clock,’ he muttered. ‘Better get a star sight before diving.’

Telling the helmsman to ring the bell if he saw anything, he went
below into the control room, where the thump and bang of the engines
smothered all other sounds, and through into the fore compartment,
treading lightly and dodging under the hammocks and over the sleeping
men stretched out on the deck.

Passing through the long green curtains, he stepped into that space
dignified by the high-sounding name of ‘Ward Room,’ where Seagrave
and Raymond were sleeping, and culling from a drawer his sextant and a
watch, returned on deck.

By the time he had taken his sights the dawn was well advanced, and
after a careful look round the horizon he once more rang the bell.

‘Call the captain and tell him it’s five-fifteen, please.’

‘Ay, ay, sir.’

Presently Raymond came up and took a long look at the distant coast.

‘Well, young feller,’ he said, lowering his glasses, ‘seen anything?’

‘Not so as you’d notice it,’ replied Boyd. ‘That light only showed up
for five minutes or so. I got some sights by the way, as the land’s too
far off for decent bearings.’

‘What you’ll suffer from, my lad,’ said Raymond with a grin, ‘is
sextantitis if you carry on as you’re doing now. It’s a very common
complaint among R.N.R. Lieutenants, and comes from the constant habit
of taking sights. The patient rises at one in the morning and tries to
find his latitude with a hambone and a piece of string.’

‘Better to be sure than sorry, anyway,’ answered Boyd.

‘Well, you brought it on yourself. If you only knew what an effort it
costs me to be funny at this hour in the morning you wouldn’t ask for
it. I tell you it completely defeats me. When we get back I shall have
to take a course of something, or drink unpleasant mixtures out of
green bottles.’

‘If it’s whisky you mean I can quite believe you,’ returned Boyd, with
his legs down the hatch. ‘Well, so she goes. Course fifty-six. Fine
weather and no fish.’

‘Give Seagrave a shake when you get below,’ the skipper called after
him. ‘Tell him I’m going to dive in ten minutes.’

‘Achchha, Sahib,’ and Boyd vanished below.

Raymond sat down and lit a pipe, keeping a careful look-out over the
oily swell of smooth water. Presently he pressed the telegraph switches
and the engines stopped.

‘Diving stations!’ he ordered. ‘Shut off for diving! Lower deck

‘Both engine clutches out, sir,’ bellowed a voice from below.

‘Ay, ay,’ returned the skipper, and then turning to the helmsman,--

‘Down below,’ he added.

The sailor closed the magnetic compass lid and screwed it well home,
unshipped the gyro repeater and decamped to continue his task at the
steering position in the control room.

Raymond took a final look round, and collecting the spare glasses and
all the odd gear about the bridge, clambered down the conning-tower,
shutting the lid after him, and screwing the strong back well into
position. On the order ‘Diving stations,’ the scene below had become
one of ordered confusion. Every man had his own station and duty to
perform, both when diving and rising, and by the time Raymond got below
all was ready.

Hoskins, the Chief E.R.A., was at the air manifold, ready to let the
air out of the smaller tanks and so admit the water.

The L.T.O. and an S.T. stood by to start the motors, while the
remainder were closing battery ventilators, giving a final wrench at
a hatch batten, and standing by the great vent valves. Forward the
T.I.[6] was fussing over a tube door, while in the engine-room the
E.R.A.’s and stokers were saying soothing words to the silent engines.

Over all this Seagrave reigned supreme. This was his ‘pidgeon,’ and he
ran his crew of twenty-three with the capability of a veteran in spite
of his youthful appearance.

Boyd sat working out his sights. He didn’t come into this part of the

‘Shut off for diving, sir,’ came a voice from the engine-room, and ‘All
ready, sir,’ from Seagrave.

The captain pressed a small switch and the periscope slid upwards till
its lower end was at a comfortable height. He applied his eye to it and
looked carefully round.

The voice of the musical stoker filtered in from the engine-room,--

    ‘Mother takes in wringings-out,
    So does sister Anne.
    Everybody works in our boat,
    But the L.T.O.’

‘You shut yer ’ead,’ came the answer. ‘Pity you ain’t got more to do

‘Flood 1 and 4,’ ordered Raymond.

‘Open 1 and 4 Kingstons and 1 and 4 main vents!’ shouted Seagrave.

Two stokers wrenched back the Kingston levers, while a couple of seamen
reached up and screwed open the vent valves. The coxswain and second
coxswains took their stand by the hydroplane and diving rudder wheels.

‘Flood 2.’

‘Open No. 2 Kingston and No. 2 main vent,’ from the ‘Sub.’

A hiss and a spurt of water came from the air manifold, and Hoskins
looked over his shoulder as he worked at the spindles.

‘1 and 4 full, sir,’ he reported.

A slight cant forward could now be felt in the boat as the tanks filled
and she settled down in the water.

‘How is she, coxswain?’ asked Raymond with his eye still at the

‘Three degrees by the head, sir.’

‘Right. Flood 3.’

‘Open No. 3 Kingston and No. 3 main vent. Close 1 and 4 vents!’ cried

‘Vents closed, sir,’ came the reports.

‘2 full, sir,’ said Hoskins. A pause, and then ‘3 full, sir,’ he added.

‘How is she now, coxswain?’ asked the captain again.

‘Two degrees by the stern, sir.’

‘Thank you. Close main vents. Another 500 in the fore trim, Seagrave.’

‘Ay, ay, sir; 500 in the fore-trim,’ repeated the ‘Sub.’

‘Horizontal, sir,’ from the coxswain.

The needle of the depth-gauge trembled, moved slowly, reached four feet
and stopped.

‘Four feet,’ announced Seagrave.

‘That’ll do,’ replied Raymond. ‘10,000 in the auxiliary and flood the

The depth-needle shivered and crept on to ‘fifteen.’

‘How is she?’ asked the captain again.

‘Horizontal, sir, fifteen feet,’ replied the coxswain.

‘Start the motors. Full fields,’ ordered Raymond. ‘Thirty feet. Take
her down.’

The two coxswains spun their wheels forward with eyes glued on the

The needle moved slowly on. Twenty, twenty-five, twenty-seven feet, it
recorded. They were whirling their wheels aft now to check her from
going too deep.

Thirty feet, thirty-two, thirty-four the metre registered, and then
slowly the needle swung back a little and stopped.

‘Thirty feet, sir,’ said the coxswain.

‘Right. Crack the vents and let me know if she gets heavy,’ replied the
captain, lowering the periscope. ‘Finished diving stations.’

    ‘Everybody works in our boat
    But the L.T.O.’

floated forward again.

Raymond smiled as he watched the men leaving their posts. A humorist in
a boat is worth his weight in gold.

The crew dispersed about their various jobs, some to continue their
watch in the engine-room or at the wheels, while the watch below turned
in their hammocks or stretched out on deck, leaving a courteous gangway
to the curtained-off space, anywhere they could find room for a blanket
and pillow.

The second coxswain set the diving rudders, spat on his hands, bit off
a chunk of tobacco, and retired aft. She would do now, and the coxswain
alone could keep her at her depth with the hydroplanes, the great
horizontal rudders at the fore-end of the boat that steered her up or
down in the same manner as an ordinary vertical rudder steers a surface
ship to left or right.

Raymond spent a few minutes satisfying himself that all was well
and the helmsman on his course, and then stepped through into the
fore-compartment and looked at the chart.

Seagrave and Boyd had both turned in, and in the ‘Ward Room’ it seemed
strangely silent. When on the surface the thump and bang of the Diesels
filled the boat, and down below one could always hear the water lapping
over the superstructure, and feel the vibration and general sense of
resistance and energy. But now she was submerged there was an intense
stillness, a sort of dead stillness, and only the faint hum of the
motors indicated that she was under weigh. There was no motion, no
vibration, and no feeling of strain or energy. She might have been at
anchor in harbour, except that the hatches were closed and the steering
chain rattled now and again.

At one moment noise and rushing water, the next, ‘Diving stations!’ a
clang, a hiss or two, and ... silence.

The men’s voices drifted in from the after-compartment, and the clatter
of knives and forks indicated that the cook was getting breakfast ready.

After a while Raymond went back to the control room, inhabited now by
only the coxswain and helmsman.

‘Eighteen feet,’ he said.

The coxswain spun his wheel until the depth-needles steadied once more.

‘Eighteen feet, sir,’ he announced.

At this depth the lowered periscope was just below the surface of the
water and still invisible from above. The captain pressed the switch
and it slid up to its required height, bringing its upper lens about
three feet above the surface, a thin brass cylinder being all that was
apparent to any hostile craft.

With his eye to the lens at the lower end, Raymond obtained a view
much like that seen through ordinary binoculars.

As he turned the instrument round he could see the horizon and the wake
of the periscope lying astern in creamy bubbles, then the enemy coast
about twenty miles away filling the whole of his view to the eastward,
then a glimpse of his own hydroplanes, again the horizon and the circle
was complete.

Nothing in sight. He lowered the periscope, and giving the order
‘thirty feet,’ returned to the fore-compartment and sat down by the
chart-table with a magazine.

Every ten minutes he went back to the control room, the boat rose to
eighteen feet, the periscope was hoisted, and he took his careful
survey. Then down to the patrolling depth again and back he went to the
silent ‘Ward Room’ to glance at the chart or anything that would pass
the time.

Towards eight o’clock, the cook came forward to ask Raymond what time
he wanted breakfast.

‘Now,’ answered the skipper laconically, picking up the dividers and
sticking them into Seagrave’s leg, as the cook departed.

The sleeper grunted and turned over.

‘Wake up, young feller,’ said Raymond. ‘Don’t you want any breakfast?’

The ‘Sub.’ sat up and rubbed his eyes.

‘Oh, Lord!’ he groaned. ‘Why can’t you leave a chap alone?’

‘Come on now; it’s good for children, invalids, and the aged. Shake a
leg and let’s get that table out.’

Seagrave staggered over to the folding basin.

‘As usual,’ he grumbled, ‘no bally water now, and I can’t see out of my
eyes till I’ve had a wash.’

‘My goodness, you do look a picture of a promising young officer,’
grinned Raymond, ‘and let me tell you, you wash far too often. None of
the really classy people in submarines ever wash. When I was up the
Marmora I didn’t wash for a month.’

‘Nor since, either, I should imagine,’ retorted Seagrave.

‘This flippancy in one of tender years is very galling. You don’t
follow my august example. Look at Boyd, for instance. Gets out of his
bunk as if he were going to be Queen of the May.’

Between them they pushed in the lower bunk and hauled out a table
flap, on which the meal was laid by the cook, who bore in the eggs and
sausages with the air of one who has achieved a culinary triumph.

‘Just look at those sausages,’ said Seagrave sitting down. ‘They look
as if they’d spent their palmier days on a cab rank.’

‘You’ve been spoilt,’ replied the skipper. ‘You’ve been brought up
on Service bangers, and now you think that our best Vienna sausages,
provided by me at great personal expense, are beneath you.’

‘I’d have been glad enough to see any sort of sausages when I was
apprentice in a wind-jammer,’ put in Boyd. ‘Cracker hash was what we
got. However, I don’t blame you. If I felt like you look, I don’t think
I _could_ eat a fried egg.’

‘A most appalling example of a youthful officer on his way to the
bow-wows,’ put in Raymond. ‘Eighteen feet.’

The meal over, Seagrave went aft to look at his beloved motors and
engines, while the captain and navigator consulted the chart.

‘Near enough to the land, I think,’ said Raymond; ‘we don’t know
exactly where their minefields are. We’ll steer an opposite course till

‘Very good, sir. Steer 236 deg., helmsman.’

‘236 deg., sir,’ came the reply as the wheel went over, and a little

‘Course, sir?’

‘All “Sir Garnet” in the engine-room,’ announced Seagrave, returning
from his tour of inspection. ‘The batteries are still up to twelve

Raymond nodded approval.

‘That’s the sort. Hard-working ‘Subs’ of boats a pace forward, march!
One of our world’s workers, but died before attaining maturity. All the
same this new battery of ours seems pretty good.’

‘What always scares me,’ returned the other, ‘is shutting down the
ventilators for diving. I know I shall forget it some day, and then
we’ll have chlorine gas in the boat and be as cold as haddocks in
about five minutes, like those poor beggars in “164.”’

‘The day you feel that coming on, you want to let me know. Suicidal
mania is not one of my deficiencies. You let me know beforehand and
I’ll have you hanged, drawn, and quartered, and bits of you hung round
the superstructure as a warning to others of the awful fate of ‘Subs’
who feel the first symptoms of incipient lunacy approaching.’

‘What was it happened to “159” last trip, by the way?’ put in Boyd.

‘Oh, it wasn’t much,’ replied Raymond. ‘“Snatcher” told me about it.
They were having tea at about thirty feet when they heard a rumbling
stunt. He took her down to eighty feet and stopped there till he had
recovered from the fit of nervous prostration into which he had been
thrown. Then he went down to a hundred and twenty, took the opportunity
of going round and seeing if the boat was right at that depth. When he
was satisfied he came up and kept her at forty-five for the rest of the

‘What was it?’ queried Seagrave.

‘Seaplane bomb dropped from right above, and only just missed ’em. It
was a smooth day, and the pilot must have been able to see the boat
easily. The joke was that the stoker P.O., who was off watch at the
time, was asleep, with his head against the skin of the hull, and when
the bomb went off, the vibration of the boat’s side gave him a lump on
the back of the chump as big as an ostrich egg.’

‘Interesting and instructive experience,’ remarked Boyd. ‘Honest
Herbert harried by the Hun! That’s the reason there wasn’t any gin in
the boat yesterday. The shock to the nerves must have been too much for

    ‘Let the Hun pass,
    Though he’s an ass.
    I warrant he’ll prove an excuse for the glass.’

‘Yes,’ said Seagrave, ‘I heard “Bunty” trying to cadge a bottle off the
mess-man before we left. But it wasn’t any good. He pleaded that they
might meet a “U” boat this time, and that after they’d finished her off
they wouldn’t have anything to celebrate the event in. Then he tried
strategy, and told the mess-man that he was positive all the German
boats were well supplied, on the off-chance of strafing one of our “E”

‘What did the mess-man say?’

‘Said “U” stood for ’Un and “E” for England, and handed him his mess
bill, plus extras,’ said Seagrave, hoisting himself into the upper bunk.

‘Now, just watch me,’ grinned Boyd, pushing back the table, ‘in my
wonderful impersonation of shut-eye Joe, the modern sleeping beauty.
Warranted to sleep until the next meal, or, failing that, till Fritz
shows us his world-famous tip-and-run stunt. Bye-bye, good people.
Call me when she swings.’

Raymond was taking the periscope watch himself, as the others were
fully employed on watch-keeping and other duties when on the surface.
The morning dragged slowly away without incident, and the land was
getting distant now and was barely visible by about eleven o’clock.

It was very still and peaceful once more, and the two off-watch slept
the sleep of the just. Occasionally a man passed forward outside the
curtains on his way to the lockers, or the sound of voices drifted in
from the after compartment. Only the sunlight, visible on the water
through the periscope, indicated that it was broad daylight.

Once an electric bell broke the stillness with a persistent clanging
which caused Boyd to leap from his bunk and rush off muttering
imprecations on the gyro compass. The bell stopped, and presently he

Raymond looked an inquiry.

‘Only the Count,’ explained the other. ‘That blessed twenty volt
generator cut-out plays tricks every now and again,’ and he relapsed
into slumber once more.

He was up again at eleven o’clock, however, and telling Raymond that
the sun would cross the meridian at a quarter past.

The captain shook his head sadly.

‘It’s no good,’ he groaned. ‘I’ve done my best for you and you
don’t get any better. I shall have to humour you or you may become
dangerous. However, I’ll see what can be done,’ and he went to the
periscope with the air of a doctor who knows the case is hopeless.

‘All right,’ he called from the control room. ‘We’ll rise for it. Too
far off the land for bearings. Wake Seagrave. Diving stations!’

Once more the men stood at their posts, and the captain kept his eye at
the periscope, while Seagrave superintended and Boyd stood by with his
sextant ready.

‘Blow 2 and 3,’ came the order.

‘Open 2 and 3 Kingstons,’ cried Seagrave.

The levers were drawn back and there was a faint jar and a rush of
compressed air as Hoskins opened the blows and the water was forced out
of the tanks.

The depth-needle came slowly back to four feet and remained steady.

‘2 and 3 out, sir,’ said Hoskins.

The captain left the periscope and went up the dark shaft of the
conning-tower hatch. Very gingerly he eased the strongback, and there
was a rush of escaping air as the pressure was released from the boat.

Seagrave had his eye on the barometer, which had swung round while
diving to ‘off the map,’ and was now rapidly decreasing to the external

‘One inch!’ he shouted up the hatch. ‘Equal!’

The men could feel the change in the atmosphere by a tickling
sensation in the ears, much like having a drop of water in them.
Raymond threw open the hatch and stepped out, followed by Boyd.

Up here the sunlight struck sharply on the eyes. In this trim the boat
was half submerged and looked like some water-logged hulk wallowing
on the surface. She dripped at every pore, and the calm sea washed
sluggishly over her superstructure.

Three minutes later the sun crossed, and they were down again, Raymond
closing the hatch behind him as he descended.

‘Flood main ballast,’ he ordered.

Once more the tanks filled, the Kingstons were closed, and in less than
sixty seconds she was down to thirty feet again.

Ten minutes had sufficed for the whole business.

‘You’re getting a bit thick, Boyd,’ grumbled the ‘Sub’ as they went
back to the Ward Room. ‘I can’t get any sleep at all nowadays, what
with your confounded sights and the skipper’s blooming energy. Last
trip I was just caulking the bunk good-oh when Raymond started a
field-day of pasting notices into the pilots. He said the paste
wouldn’t stick the things unless there was a weight on them, and shoved
the whole lot under me in the bunk. I ought to get extra pay for that
sort of thing.’

‘Now, now, you mustn’t get in a state, dearie,’ replied Boyd. ‘Too
much work is making you peevish. Here’s lunch. Just try to pick a
bit of chicken, cold one, and you’ll rise from the table like a lion

‘At one time,’ said Raymond, sitting down, ‘we didn’t get much at sea,
but in these new boats I always look forward to the trip on account of
the change of grub.’

‘And yet we growl,’ put in Boyd. ‘I never met any one at sea yet who
hadn’t a moan about the food.’

The meal was eaten in shirt sleeves, as the boat was getting rather
hot now that the sun was well up, and after the fruit and custard had
disappeared Raymond leant back with a yawn.

‘Pity we can’t smoke,’ he said. ‘I’m feeling damn tired. You keep a
watch on the “perisher”[7] this afternoon, Seagrave.’

‘All right. Turn in and trust me to let you know if we bump a
“mouldy.”[8] I won’t forget.’

In the after compartment the mess tables were down and the men were
getting outside their meal seated on stools, the deck, or anything
that came to hand. The gyro buzzed on one side of them, and the rattle
of the steering-gear formed an accompaniment, which, however, did not
seem to upset their appetites. Young men mostly, with here and there
a grizzled petty officer for leavening, they moved about with that
deftness which men acquire who are accustomed to live in confined

By-and-by, Seagrave went up the control room shaft and unscrewed one
of the brass ports, disclosing a small circle of thick glass. Through
this the water could be seen looking intensely blue, while on glancing
up he could see the surface thirty feet above, which appeared like a
blue ceiling or a large sheet stretched over the boat.

Occasionally the under side of a piece of driftwood could be seen
floating on the surface and the fore-deck, and the gun stood out
sharply defined.

The atmosphere was bad up here, as all the foul air drifted upwards,
and Seagrave soon screwed back the post and returned to his book in the
fore compartment.

Every ten minutes came the monotonous order, ‘Eighteen feet,’ the
periscope was hoisted and lowered, and the boat descended to the
thirty-foot level.

Nearly every one was asleep, the heavy atmosphere making them drowsy,
and it was very quiet and peaceful, when the second coxswain, who was
at the hydroplanes, called out sharply,--

‘Getting ’eavy, sir! I can’t ’ol ’er up!’

Now, no submarine can descend to an unlimited depth, because the
external pressure becomes too great, and below two hundred feet or
so they are liable to crush and flatten in like pancakes. Also if
she begins to leak owing to excessive depth, water may get to the
batteries, whereupon chlorine gas will form and suffocate all hands.
Therefore a decent haste is necessary if at any time, owing to an
increase of water in the bilges, the boat becomes heavy and has what is
known as ‘negative buoyancy.’

Raymond and Seagrave hurried into the control room, the captain giving
his orders as he came.

‘Start the pump on the auxiliary. Speed up to 500 on the motors.’

The purr of the motors increased, and the adjusting pump added its
clack to the subdued noises.

Raymond hoped that the extra speed by giving her more steerage-weigh,
and with the hydroplanes ‘hard-a-rise,’ would bring her up without the
tedious necessity of blowing main ballast.

She was going down fast, however. Forty, fifty, sixty, seventy feet the
depth-gauge recorded. At seventy-five feet she stopped.

‘Stand by the hatches,’ cried Seagrave. ‘Report any leak at once.’

She rose slowly and Raymond stopped the pump. The coxswain twirled his
wheel, and she was bringing up at thirty feet when an avalanche of
water came down the conning-tower hatch.

The captain sprang for the ladder through the mass of water and
disappeared up the shaft. The flow decreased and stopped, and he
reappeared drenched to the skin.

Everybody got very busy suddenly. Nobody seemed to wish to be unduly
noticed, and all showed a strange eagerness for work of any sort. The
coxswain winked at the helmsman, and that worthy leant towards the
compass with a fixed stare.

‘These ruddy hatches!’ bellowed Raymond. ‘The damned thing came open,
and I’ve only got one shirt in the boat.’

‘Here, messenger,’ he added, pulling it off, ‘take this into the
engine-room and get it dried. No water in the battery, is there,

‘No, sir,’ replied the ‘Sub’ with a stony countenance. ‘That’s the best
of these high coamings, and we’ve got the rubber deck-cloth screwed
well down. The batteries are all right.’

‘Well, that’s a bit of luck, anyway. And now, after that lot, another
little drink wouldn’t do us any harm. But don’t wake Boyd, as we
haven’t much whisky left.’

The pressure in the boat had slightly lifted the hatch on the catch
slipping its socket. Otherwise, owing to the weight of thirty feet of
water, it could never have admitted the slightest drop.

‘All’s well that ends well,’ said Raymond, as he raised his glass, ‘but
that water coming in like that certainly shook me. I didn’t think there
was so much pressure in the boat.’

‘It shook me far more to see you looking like a drowned rat when you
came down. This is what is known ashore as “Seeing Life.”’

‘You keep a look-out with that “perisher,” my boy, and don’t worry
about me. You’ve got a shirt to wear, and I haven’t, unless it’s dry
before we rise.’

Presently they relapsed into silence, and Raymond dropped off to sleep
again, while the ‘Sub’ carried on with the watch.

At four o’clock tea put in an appearance, after which Boyd took his
turn at the periscope watch, while the others sat reading.

The wind had been increasing since noon, and the sea was getting up.
Looking through the periscope his view was often obscured by the waves,
and occasionally they broke right over, shutting out the scene as if a
light blue curtain had been flung over the eyes and torn away again.

Even at thirty feet the boat began to roll, and when suddenly a bump
was heard forward and a rattle the whole length of the boat, Raymond
jumped from his chair, brought her quickly up and glanced ahead.

However, there was nothing to be seen, and he lowered the periscope,
the boat descending to the patrol level again.

‘What was it?’ asked Seagrave.

The other shook his head. ‘Don’t know. One of the mysteries of the
deep. Perhaps a mine that didn’t go off. Anyhow you can say so in your
letters home. I heard that noise three times in an afternoon when I
was in “85” last year. You never can say for certain that it’s not the
moorings of a mine, so it’s always best to be on the look-out if you
hear that sort of row. I don’t like them knocking to be let in in that
way. It’s too forward of them altogether.’

‘I saw that “U” boat we recovered the other day when I was on leave,’
said Boyd. ‘She struck a mine end on. Great Scott! she was a sight. The
whole bow-cap was blown right off, and they found the bodies of the
crew in her when they got her up. Poor beggars. They’d grouped up and
put the hydroplanes hard-a-rise before they were snuffed out.’

‘Yes,’ remarked Raymond. ‘I can’t say that it gives me any particular
pleasure to think of a crowd of Germans in a submarine striking a mine.
It brings it too much home to one, as it were, and, after all, they’re
obeying orders in the same way as we are.’

‘It must seem funny,’ said Seagrave. ‘One minute sitting here reading,
and the next, the fore-end blown off and a wall of water flopping in on
you. I don’t expect you’d know much about it, though.’

‘I say, you fellows,’ cried Boyd, coming in from the control room.
‘There’s a hell of a sea getting up. We’re in for a wet night.
Sea-boots and oilskins for mine.’

‘My usual luck,’ said Raymond, fishing in a drawer. ‘I always get it
rough on the way home. Who’s the Jonah?’

‘I don’t know. Some beggar who hasn’t paid for his washing, I suppose.
But we’re certainly going to get it in the neck.’ The rolling of the
boat at this depth and the gurgling of the water in the vent pipes was
a sufficient warning of the state of the weather, and they set to
work lashing all portable gear in place and preparing for the expected
wetting on coming to the surface.

‘We’d better have dinner before we rise, hadn’t we?’ asked Boyd,
struggling into a pair of oilskin trousers. ‘Everything will be all
over the shop, and I’ve got some pretty good soup on hand to-night.
Main drain loungers and water.’

‘Yes. Six-thirty will do,’ replied the captain, ‘and we’ll rise at
seven. You might see about it, Seagrave.’

The ‘Sub’ departed to the engine-room to confer with his chief minion,
and Raymond turned to the navigator.

‘We’ll put her on the course for home now, I think. We’re only about
fifteen miles off Fritz’s coast as it is, and we shan’t make much
against this.

‘All right. It’s just on half-past six now. I’ll set the course and
then shake dinner up.’

In the engine-room the E.R.A.’s were bustling round the engines, and
in the middle of dinner the report came forward, ‘Engines ready, sir.’
The atmosphere was getting fuggy, and everything seemed sticky, though
there was no difficulty in breathing yet.

‘We’re certainly in for it,’ said Raymond. ‘We shan’t get home before
daylight, and I shall let her go slowly most of the time if it’s too
bad. Now then, ten to seven; shake it up with that cheese, Boyd, and
let’s get busy.’

A messenger appeared holding a bundle in his hand, which he offered to
the captain.

‘What the devil’s that thing?’ demanded Raymond. ‘Take it away. I don’t
want your dish swabs here.’

‘It’s your shirt, sir,’ replied the youth, without a smile.

‘That nasty looking thing?’ replied the skipper, seizing it and holding
it at arm’s length. ‘Just look at the straits I am reduced to. However,
it’s better than this prickly lammy coat I’ve been wearing.’

‘Seven o’clock, sir,’ said Seagrave, looking at his watch.

‘Right. Diving stations!’ ordered Raymond, struggling into the garment
as he hoisted the periscope. ‘Blow 1, 2, and 3 main ballast. Pump three
thousand out of the auxiliary.’

‘Start the pump on the auxiliary. Open 1, 2, and 3 Kingstons,’ shouted
the ‘Sub.’

Up she came, the depth-needle hurrying back to zero. She was in surface
trim now, and, carefully opening the hatch, Raymond, Boyd, and the
helmsman, clad in oilskins and sea-boots, clambered on deck, the latter
carrying the Sperry repeater.

‘One,’ shouted the captain down the hatch, as a great spout of white
water showed forward. Then later, ‘two ... three. Upper deck control.
Open the vents!’

The tanks were out and the air was churning up the sea outside.

Hoskins shut off the blows, and at Seagrave’s orders all vents and
Kingstons were closed.

‘Engines!’ bellowed Raymond, ‘two fifty revs.’

With a fizz and a bang they were off, the smell of the petrol on
starting pervading the bridge in spite of the strong wind.

It was a dirty night. Even a fair-sized vessel would have felt it, and
to ‘123’ the sea was dangerously heavy.

The sun had just set, the sky was overcast, and rain was beginning to
fall. The north-westerly wind was still increasing in force and raising
a sea that caught them just before the beam.

Night fell, bringing pitch darkness and torrents of rain in its wake.
The sea was quite steep now, but the wind was steady. Great rollers
came out of the darkness, hit the submarine’s starboard side, broke
over her in a deluge of spray, and vanished again to leeward.

The superstructure was hardly ever out of water, and now and again
a sea swept right over the conning-tower, drenching to the skin the
unfortunate men who were hanging on for dear life.

About nine o’clock Raymond eased her down to two hundred revs.

‘She’s not doing much,’ he said, turning to Boyd; ‘not more than about
four knots. Can’t afford to smash things up. We’d better get right
home, and in this sea we shan’t be there before daylight. Tell Seagrave
to call me at four o’clock. He’s got a charge on of five hundred in
series, and they’re getting the air up as well. He’ll see to that in
the middle watch, though.’

He went below, letting the conning-tower hatch fall behind him, but not
quite closing it (for the greedy engines needed air to run on), and
prepared to lie down on his bunk.

Down below a sorry spectacle met his eyes. The beam sea was causing
the boat to roll very heavily, and it was impossible to stand upright
without holding on to something. Not the roll of a liner this, nor yet
of a destroyer, but more the motion of a quickly-moving pendulum. Right
over to port she would roll and then, without an instant’s pause, as
far over the other way, bringing down a cloud of books and all sorts of
gear that had not been properly lashed up.

Whenever a big sea washed clean over her, showers of spray would come
down through the small opening in the conning-tower hatch, and once the
chest of drawers took charge and slid over on a man who was attempting
to sleep on deck.

Seagrave and Raymond were nearly rolled out of their bunks, and the
racing of the screws caused an added vibration. Men in wet oilskins
relieved from the wheel came below dripping, and everything began to
get thoroughly damp and soggy.

At midnight Seagrave went up to the bridge. On first clambering out
of the hatch it seemed as if he were entering a very inferno. Boyd,
drenched to the skin, turned over the watch to him and hurried below,
leaving him alone with the helmsman.

It was still pitch dark and blowing very hard. The rain was pouring
down, and she was shipping it green fore and aft, but by-and-by he
became more accustomed to it and began to wait for the big ones and
dodge them instinctively; however, it was rather a nerve-wracking
night, and he hailed with great joy the first glimpse of dawn and with
it a moderation of wind and sea.

When Raymond came up at four o’clock, the weather was decreasing; the
wind was still fresh, but the sea had gone down, and the boat was
running more easily.

Seagrave wasted no time in getting below. He inspected the batteries,
took the densities, and was between the blankets in less than ten

As the light gained strength, Raymond could just make out the faint
outline of home, and the sea moderated as they approached the shelter
of the bay to the northward.

He increased speed, and by seven-thirty they were in smooth water and
only ten miles off the harbour.

Boyd clambered up to the bridge to assist Raymond to take her in, while
Seagrave buzzed round the motors and saw all in readiness for entering

Nearly all the crew who were not on watch were up on deck; crowded on
the conning-tower, round the gun, anywhere where they could keep a
safe footing against the now gentle roll and get a breath of fresh air
after the trials and stuffy atmosphere of the night below.

Up the hatch came the voice of the cheerful stoker impressing on the
signalman that ‘he didn’t want to lose him, but he thought he ought
to go,’ as the latter struggled up with his arms full of flags, and,
bending on a couple, hoisted them to the yard-arm of the telescopic

‘Entrance signal up, sir,’ he reported.

‘All right,’ said Raymond. ‘What’s that on the starboard bow?’

The signalman clapped his glass to his eye and sucked his teeth.

‘British submarine, sir, approaching the harbour from the northward. I
think it’s “159,” sir. She seems to be keeping level.’

Raymond jerked the bell.

‘Three fifty revs!’ he shouted down the hatch. ‘We’ll show her what we
can do now. We’ll make Snatcher look old-fashioned.’

The boat jumped ahead, but although the two submarines were on courses
converging to the harbour mouth, she showed no signs of gaining on the
wily ‘159.’

Raymond frowned. Then he rang the bell again and said,--

‘Ask the chief E.R.A. to speak to me, please.’

Presently Hoskins appeared, accompanied by his eternal dirty face,
cheerful grin, and lump of oily waste.

‘Sir?’ he queried.

Raymond didn’t speak. He merely pointed to the offending craft on the
starboard beam.

A light of comprehension dawned on the artificer’s face. His grin
broadened and he fled below.

Twenty minutes later ‘123’ shot through the harbour-gate a good quarter
of a mile ahead of her adversary, and as she passed the piers the
captain gave the order ‘harbour stations.’

The coxswain took the helm. It was his prerogative, and entering or
leaving port none but he was entrusted with the wheel.

The remainder of the crew who could be spared from below fell in
and stood at ease on the superstructure, both forward and abaft the
conning-tower, under the orders of Seagrave.

As they passed the first of the big ships lying at anchor, the ‘Sub’
gave a sharp order, and the men came to attention facing towards her,
and as the quarter deck drew abeam, Raymond raised his hand in a salute
which was answered from the battleship by the officer on the watch.

‘’Bout turn!’ ordered Seagrave, as they passed the next ship, and once
more salutes were exchanged.

By now ‘123’ was well up the bay, and the _Parentis_ was visible as the
boat threaded her way through the crowded harbour.

‘Finished harbour stations,’ ordered Raymond. ‘Stand by to go

Then down the conning-tower hatch,--

‘Motors, group down! Three hundred!’

‘Both engine clutches out, sir,’ came the reply. ‘Three ’undred, sir.’

The exhaust wavered and died away; there was a pause, and then the
faint churning aft indicated that the screws were being turned by the
electric motors, which were taking three hundred amperes.

With perfect judgment Raymond manœuvred her astern of the _Parentis_,
and ‘123’ slid alongside with barely a foot’s clearance.

As she slid by,--

‘Stop both!’ rapped the captain. ‘Group up! Astern both!’

The water bore aft as the propellers checked her way. Heaving lines
were thrown fore and aft, ‘123’ thought about it, shuddered, and
stopped dead alongside.

‘Stop both. Finished with motors. Make fast fore and aft,’ called
Raymond. ‘Is the “Sperry” stopped, Boyd?’

‘Yes, sir. I stopped her when we got on the bearing,’ replied the

‘Right-oh. Come on the pair of you. Time for a gin and bitters.’

‘Clear up below, coxswain,’ cried Seagrave, as the gang plank went out;
and five minutes later the three officers of H.M. Submarine ‘123’ were
in the _Parentis’s_ ward room clamouring at the top of their voices for
gin, bitters, and baths.



    We knew them in their infancy,
    We knew them as our sons;
    We loved them for their own dear sakes,
    We bade them man the guns.
    We knew they’d do their honest best,
    We prayed that they might live;
    And proud were we the day we gave
    The utmost we could give.


    We saw them go, our cherished ones,
    We bade them fond farewell;
    And we, the mothers of our sons,
    Were left alone ... in hell.
    O Lord, we humbly pray Thee,
    Have mercy on the slain;
    But most of all, have mercy on,
    The women who remain!


‘Chicago high,’ announced the Fleet Surgeon of the _Parentis_, throwing
the dice on the ward room table.

‘One hundred, two hundred, three hundred and sixty-four,’ said the
Staff Paymaster as he gathered them up. ‘Not so dusty, P.M.O., but
watch Little Willie.’

‘Sixty, sixty-four, sixty-six, seventy-two,’ cried the surgeon
triumphantly. ‘The worst cut of modern times. Waiter, Mr Ponsonby will
provide cocktails.’

‘That shakes your wine bill, Pay,’ remarked the Engineer Commander.
‘Six cocktails makes you sit up and take notice. _And_ don’t forget
that you’ve got to shake with old “Snatcher” when “159” gets back. He’s
absolutely undefeated, a regular snatcher of drinks at other people’s

‘You’re probably speaking from bitter experience, Chief,’ asked Blake,
one of the submarine captains.

‘I am,’ replied the Engineer, shaking his head. ‘Last time I took him
on I got six at “Chicago low,” and he lurked me with a possible. I used
to think I was a pretty fair hand at cutting, but I admit that where
“159” is concerned I’ve met my Waterloo.’

‘By Jove, yes. She ought to be in by now, unless she’s had bad weather,
which isn’t likely. You can usually trust “Snatcher” to sit on the
bottom if it comes on to blow. But he ought to be back shortly. I
always work it so as to get back in time for a bath before dinner when
I’m on the patrol he’s got now.’

‘Look here, P.M.O.,’ protested a voice from the other end of the ward
room. ‘These people are ordering more gin. In the interests of public
health and the Service I appeal to you, as a medical man, to tell them
not to, to put your foot down; in a word, to stop it. They’re going to
start the gramaphone and it’s only half-past six, and I can’t stand it.’

‘It looks to me like an advanced case of alcoholic neuritis,’ replied
the surgeon gravely, ‘for which the only remedy is a prolonged course
of ragtime on the gramaphone at eight a.m. It had better work itself
out, that is, unless they include me in their disgusting gin debauch,
in which case I don’t mind prescribing something a little less drastic.’

It was the hour before dinner, when every one congregates for a drink
before going below to clean and change, and the _Parentis’s_ ward room
was crowded. It was large as ward rooms go, and furnished in the usual
Service style, with maroon leather chairs and sofas, a long table
covered with the green Service cloth, and cases of Encyclopædias and
works on Naval history. The walls were adorned with photographs of the
various submarines which had been attached to the ship at different
times, and formed quite an interesting feature in themselves.

At present the _Parentis_ was depot ship to a large number of boats,
and as each boat had three officers, the Marine servants were usually
kept pretty busy at cocktail time.

Youngish men mostly, the submarine captains would meet at this hour of
the day and discuss ‘shop’ to an extent that maddened the more junior
members of the mess. Little scraps of conversation they were, but
not without meaning to the uninitiated, and based on the experience
of men who sometimes carried their lives in their hands. Periscopes,
stern-dives, and the latest class of boat were discussed, coloured with
the charm of personal experiences and scraps of idle chaff.

‘The ‘Subs’ of the boats were either junior Lieutenants or senior
Sub-Lieutenants. Earnest, talkative youths, very much alive to the
responsibilities of their positions, and the burdens attaching thereto,
who ordered their drinks with the abandon of those who have done a hard
day’s work and ‘dare do all that may become a man.’

The remainder of the mess was composed of the depot officers:
paymaster, surgeon, engineer, and watch-keepers, and the navigators
of the submarines. These latter were all Lieutenants of the Royal
Naval Reserve, whose ages ranged anywhere from twenty-three to forty;
men from the great steamship lines of the Mercantile Marine, who had
answered the country’s call at the outbreak of the war.

There was a general buzz of conversation over the room as friends
discussed the events of the day and compared notes, before undertaking
the more serious business of dinner.

‘I say, you fellows,’ exclaimed Seagrave to a group of brother ‘Subs,’
‘“159” went to sea without any gin. “Bunty” tried to pull the strings
twice, but the mess-man wasn’t having any.’

‘I know,’ chimed in another. ‘I went down the boat before she shoved
off to try and get a drink out of him, but when I got there the
cupboard was bare.’

‘By the way, aren’t they back yet?’

‘Don’t think so. You’d hear ’em quick enough if they were. They do seem
to be a bit late. Probably strafed a Hun.’

‘If they’d done that they’d be back at the double. They hadn’t anything
to celebrate it with.’

‘Can’t help their troubles, and if we don’t want to be late for dinner
we’d better get moving,’ and, snatching his cap from a pile on the
table, the speaker linked arms with a couple of cronies and waltzed out
of the room.

‘My opinion,’ said the Torpedo Lieutenant to a circle of boat captains
gathered round the fireplace, ‘is that you fellows take life too
seriously. Look at me. I work all day. I’m a fine figure of a man....
Now, then, no rude remarks, please. And I come in here in the evening
as merry as a cricket.’

‘That’s all right,’ replied one of his listeners. ‘It all depends on
one’s definition of the word work. You ought to look it up; you’d find
it instructive.’

‘Your pardon, sir. My labours are long and strenuous. I went down three
boats to-day and gave my valuable advice on Mark XX torpedoes. But
alas! this is a thankless world. I received recompense in only two. The
other boat had lost her corkscrew.’

‘Say, Boyd,’ cried a voice at the other end of the room, ‘how did the
gyro behave last trip?’

‘A 1. I’m becoming a perfect knut at it. He only rang once. I’ve come
to the conclusion that when you know the elements of its construction,
it’s as easy as falling off a log. Yes, a cocktail, please, waiter. I
had some trouble at first though, but that was my own fault. In fact I
composed a song entitled “When the Sperry bell is ringing.”’

‘Mine’s jolly fine now, never makes a murmur.’

‘When you’re quite finished your harangue on work, a subject on
which you are grossly ignorant, Torps, perhaps you will pay a little
attention to me.’ The voice was Raymond’s.

‘Now, tell me why. Why am I to listen to your fatuous and narrow-minded
remarks on a topic that is not only entirely distasteful to me at all
times, but altogether beyond the pale at this hour of the evening.’

‘My fatuous remark, as you are pleased to call it, was about to take
the form of asking you to have a gin with me, but seeing that----’

‘Kamerad, kamerad. I apologise--for once you talk as a Christian
should. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend him your ears. He’s going to
do the decent. I can feel it coming on.’

‘At one time, in my palmy days, when I was your age,’ said Raymond,
raising his glass, ‘I could go a whole pint of beer without swallowing.
But now---- It’s a bit ’ard. Cheer-oh, everybody.’

In the train of the drinks came the Marine servants bearing the
table-cloths and silver, and a general move was made for the door.

‘This,’ said the Torpedo Lieutenant as he foraged for his cap, ‘is what
I joined the Navy for. To dine and meditate with friends.... Damn it,
Pay, you’ve pinched my bonnet.’

       *       *       *       *       *

Private Boon, R.M.L.I., knocked at his master’s door.

‘Mr Blake, sir. ’Alf-past seven. Your bath’s ready, sir.’

The sleeper awoke, yawned, and threw one pyjama-clad leg over the bunk

‘All right. I’ll be out in a minute,’ he grunted.

The private withdrew and Blake turned over and looked at his watch.

‘Um,’ he groaned. ‘Better hurry up, I suppose, or some one will pinch
my bath.’

As he slipped on a dressing-gown, a photograph on the table caught his

‘Wonder if “159” has got back yet,’ he mused, as he made his way down
the corridor. ‘Ought to be in by now,’ and he disappeared into the
bathroom, where sounds of splashing and ‘Miserere’ in a deep bass
shortly issued.

On his return he found the private of Marines busy in his room.

‘Is “159” back yet, Boon?’ he asked.

‘Not yet, sir. I’ve got Mr Shelldon’s room ready for ’im. But they
ain’t back yet, sir.’

A vague uneasiness crept over Blake. What was ‘Snatcher’ doing that he
was twelve hours overdue?

‘Oh, rubbish,’ he told himself as he began dressing, ‘I expect he’s
been delayed some way or other. Engines broken down or something.’

‘Yes, boiled eggs in ten minutes’ time, Boon, not too hard, please.’

Breakfast in the _Parentis_ was not what would be called a cheery meal.
Conversation was not encouraged, and hilarity of any sort met with
frowning disapproval. The sober-minded read newspapers, while their
less literary brethren kept their mouths shut except for the necessity
of admitting food.

When the more senior members of the mess had got to the first pipe
stage, the ‘Subs’ departed to muster their crews, and the navigators
drifted off to odd jobs. The captains of boats congregated round the
fireplace and discussed plans for the day, while the doctor censored
letters and the Staff Paymaster busied himself with the wine books.
Gradually the groups broke up and the Marines began tidying the room
for the morning.

In the early hours--at six o’clock to be exact--the ship’s company had
been fallen in by the officer of the watch, and under the eagle eye of
the First Lieutenant had scrubbed the decks and cleaned the brass till
the _Parentis_ shone like a new pin. Alongside her, four on one side
and five on the other, were her charges, the submarines, at present in
a state of ordered chaos due to work of an extensive and all embracing

At eight o’clock the crew, mustered in their boats by their respective
‘Subs,’ were told off for the labours of the day, and by five minutes
past were all hard at it. The E.R.A.’s were busying themselves in their
engine-rooms and the electrical ratings on various jobs that came
within their sphere, while the remainder were cleaning all brass and
steelwork and were kept at it by the vigilant ‘Subs.’

Navigators were correcting charts and cleaning gyro compasses, and now
and again the captains would dodge below to superintend, or two or
three of them would hang round a periscope or a torpedo-tube arguing a
knotty point or demonstrating the correctness of their theories.

It was a fine warm day, and the _Parentis_ looked like a hen in a
gilded coop with her chicks clustered about her. All round her lay the
Fleet; picket boats danced across from ship to ship, the sound of a
Marine band drifted over from a neighbouring battleship, and the buzz
of work rose on the air.

The officer of the watch, resplendent with a sword-belt and telescope,
walked the quarter-deck, keeping a general eye on everything that took
place. The quartermaster, corporal of the watch, and messengers hung
round the gangway, and even the distant bridge was a scene of activity,
where a gray-haired yeoman of signals harried his signal staff round
the gaudy flag lockers.

Forward an R.N.R. Lieutenant was drilling the boys’ division at
physical exercise, and down below the submarine attack ‘teacher’ was
being kept busily employed.

A picket-boat approached the gangway. The midshipman who was steering
held up four fingers and laid them on his coat-sleeve, and as she swung
alongside the gangway party formed up. A tall, erect figure stepped out
of the boat, the bos’n’s mate shrilled on his pipe, the quarter-deck
came to attention, and the officer of the watch saluted. A Post Captain
had come aboard.

The boys’ division fell out and gave place to a squad under torpedo
instruction; the Marine detachment paraded, and then the bugle sounded
‘Stand easy.’

Men came up out of the boats to snatch a smoke during the ten minutes’
respite; or laid aside their brass rags and departed to the mess decks.
Ten minutes blessed relief before ‘Carry on’ sounded by the diminutive
Marine bugler sent them back to their tasks.

Later, the Captain of the depot held his court for defaulters. Then
‘cooks’ was sounded, the rum was served out, and at eight bells, noon,
came the welcome dinner call.

Up over the side came the crews, followed in a more dignified manner by
the officers, who dived below to their rooms, to wash and don a clean
monkey-jacket for lunch.

Blake came up out of his boat, fully expecting to see ‘159’ in her
accustomed berth, and it was with quite a shock that he realised that
she had not yet returned. It was with a presentiment of something
seriously amiss that he presently took his seat at the luncheon-table.

The same feeling seemed to express itself in the others’ faces, but
this might be only his imagination. No one spoke of ‘159,’ in fact they
all seemed to leave her severely alone. But there was a general feeling
in the air that all was not well, and it seemed evident, though no word
was actually spoken, that everybody fully realised the fact that she
was now sixteen hours late, and a boat that is sixteen hours overdue in
war-time ... well, things _may_ have happened.

Once he made a casual remark to his neighbour on the matter. His answer
was merely a nod between mouthfuls, so he dropped the subject and said
no more about it.

But for all that, he was becoming convinced that something had taken
place ... out there. ‘Snatcher’ Shelldon and he had been friends
since their _Britannia_ days. His surroundings looked unfamiliar and
a sickening anxiety came over him. ‘How could the others go on eating
when perhaps?...’

He pulled himself together and made a pretence at a meal. ‘Mustn’t give
way to morbid imaginings,’ he told himself.

The meal over he sat apart and tried to collect his thoughts and
enumerate various minor mishaps that might have delayed the boat.
No, he could think of none that would account for it under the

At one-thirty work was resumed, and he plunged into a fever of exertion
to take his thoughts off the subject. He made up his mind he wouldn’t
come on deck before four o’clock, when work ceased for the day, and
then either the sight of ‘159’ would dispel all doubts or else he had
no more to hope for.

But at four o’clock, when the hands were piped to tea, there was still
no news, and shortly after ‘evening quarters’ two destroyers slipped
quietly out of the harbour. Those who noticed their departure thought
nothing of it at the time, and only wondered why the Captain’s temper
seemed the worse for wear.

By dinner time it was evident that every one in the mess was awake to
the fact that a boat was missing, and in fine weather, too. Nobody
mentioned her; they all kept studiously off the subject, but the
conversation was subdued and everybody’s nerves seemed slightly on
edge. Many of them had friends among the absent officers, and no one
liked to voice the general opinion, although it would have been a
relief if some one had.

It was not a cheery meal, and they were all glad when it was over.

Thus it was left to Private Boon to rush in where angels feared to

‘That’s three of ’em less to lay for,’ he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two days later the captain of the depot sat alone in his after-cabin.

He was bending over the writing-table, surrounded by envelopes, paper,
and accessories, but his thoughts did not seem to flow. He sat staring
in front of him with unseeing eyes and chewing the end of his pen.

At last he sighed and addressed himself to his task. Three letters he
was writing, to anxious women who were waiting and hoping beyond hope,
two wives and a lonely mother, to tell them that they might hope no
longer. This kindly old gentleman was compiling the missives which were
to bring anguish and sorrow to the hearts of those who waited.

They were more than junior officers to him. One was the son of an old
comrade and the others had served long under his command. To them he
had been, no doubt, rather a terrifying person with four gold stripes
on his sleeve, but to him, they were his boys; he had been through it
all himself, he was training them, and he was proud of them. Above all
came the Service, and he had trained them for the good of the Service.
A kindly word now and again and a sharp reprimand when needed had been
the secret of his successes, and beneath his gruff exterior he had a
warm feeling towards them. Now he had lost them and his work was to do
over again.

His hand was about to bring grief unspeakable to their dearest and....

He finished his letters; the few kindly, sympathetic words that were to
be almost death-blows on the morrow, and as he raised his head from the
table and glanced into the mirror he saw the face of a tired old man.

       *       *       *       *       *

Blake picked up the photograph and held it close to the electric light.
As he studied the honest face it depicted, his memory flew back to the
_Britannia_ days when Shelldon and he had started their careers. They
had been the same term and had gone through all their early trials and
tribulations together. Later, ‘Snatcher’ had spent one or two holidays
with him, and years afterwards the friendship had been cemented by his
engagement to Blake’s sister.

He remembered the wedding, and how as best man he had put in one of the
hardest day’s work in his life. He smiled as he recalled his friend’s
delight when first he had been promoted to captain of a boat, and he
put down the photograph and sighed.

‘It seemed so cold-blooded. To go out and just disappear. No trace,
nothing. Blown to pieces on a mine probably. He could picture the
scene. The men quietly reading and talking and then suddenly a blinding
crash and nothing more. If some one could only have seen them. But the
two destroyers that went in search had only found a patch of oil. Just
went out and disappeared. And Molly....’

A knock sounded at the door.

‘Come in,’ he called, hastily stowing the photograph away.

Raymond entered with an air of studied indifference.

‘Hope you’re not busy, old man,’ he said with forced gaiety.

‘No, no. I’m not doing anything. Come in.’

‘Good. I wanted to know if you would lend me your T.I. to-morrow.
Mine’s gone sick and I’ve got a job of work on hand I want finished.’

‘Yes, of course, you can. Take him and bless you. I’ll send a chit to
my “Sub” about it.’

Raymond hovered with the door-knob in his hand, opened his mouth to
speak, thought better of it, and left quietly.

Out in the flat, he faced his friend’s cabin, and raising his fists in
the air, called Heaven to witness.

‘Oh, Bloody War!’ he exclaimed.

       *       *       *       *       *

‘As a general rule, mind you, I don’t ’old with officers, but ’e was a

The speaker spat over the side to emphasise his point, and relapsed
into silence.

The lower deck sat round in small knots and coteries and smoked for the
most part without unnecessary speech. The pipes were going, the evening
was dark and still, and the lower deck was in a contemplative mood.

‘Yes,’ continued the Seaman Gunner, ‘’im and ’is mates was gentlemen.’

‘Pal o’ mine, Mick ’Ardy, was in ’er,’ quoth the S.T. ‘Fust trip in a
submarine, too. Out fer trainin’. ’Ard I calls it.’

‘Strewth,’ said a voice out of the darkness, ‘we was on ’er patrol last
trip. Bit o’ luck we didn’t come a kisser.’

‘It was that,’ put in the signalman. ‘We’re doo out to-morrow.’

Once more silence. Three bells struck and a bugle sounded from a
distant battleship.

‘I’d like to know wot ’appened,’ said the voice out of the darkness.
‘Struck a mine likely. When I come into submarines, my old woman she
sez to me----’

‘Stow it,’ growled the Seaman Gunner. ‘Only the other day, ’e sez,
“’Bout time,” ’e sez, “you went up for Leading Seaman. I want to see
you gettin’ a ’ead. I’ll ’elp you through,” ’e sez.’

‘Wot I think,’ said the Stoker, ‘is, strike me pink. If I don’t
pulverise the first ruddy ’Un I meets, Gawd strike me pink.’

‘Pipe down,’ shrilled the bos’n’s mate.

       *       *       *       *       *

Private Boon was busy. He stood in his shirt-sleeves in the midst of a
chaos of his own making.

Outside the cabin was a sea-chest of generous proportions, and in the
bunk he had placed a tin uniform case, a helmet case, and divers bags
and portmanteaux.

He was a careful packer, but his methods were unique. He liked to see
things round him, and after the manner of an inquisitive terrier, he
began to strip the drawers of their contents and strew garments high
and low. The table, the chairs, and the bunk was soon piled high, and
when the last drawer gaped void and empty he surveyed his handiwork
with the eye of a connoisseur.

But he showed himself a past master of the art when he began packing
the uniforms in the tin case. Every article was carefully shaken,
brushed and folded, and reverently placed in its appointed spot. This
portion of his labours completed, he dealt with the sea-chest, and by
that time the collection round the cabin had materially decreased.

Having finished the clothes at last, he turned to the more personal
objects, scrutinising each one before finally disposing of it.

‘Ash tray, silver too,’ he soliloquised. ‘Give ’im by a girl likely.
’Air brushes, monogram an’ all. Nice bit o’ work. Books, letters,
fountain pen. I think that’s the lot.’

His eye caught a small silver frame standing on the table forlorn and

‘’Ullo, photograph.’ He held it to the light. ‘Nice-looking young
woman, _and_ a kid. Might be ’is Missis. P’raps it is, poor gell!’

He locked the cases and looked round the cabin.

‘Nothin’ forgot. No. I think that’s all this time.’

With much laboured breathing he wrote the owner’s name and address,
and, carefully tacking the card on the lid of the sea-chest, stood back
to admire the result.

‘Effects of the Late Lieutenant Shelldon, R.N.----’

Through the open port the sound of an order floated, and the churning
of twin screws. It was ‘147’ going to sea.

A Sub-Lieutenant and a Midshipman stood on the quarter-deck of a
neighbouring battleship.

       *       *       *       *       *

Said the ‘Sub,’ aged twenty, to the ‘Snotty,’ aged nineteen, ‘I bearded
the Commander in his den to-day, and flopped in my application.’

‘Did you? What did he say?’ inquired the Midshipman.

‘Look out, he’s over there. Said it was all right and he’d see the
Captain about it to-morrow.’

‘You lucky beggar. I wish I could get in, but they won’t take us

‘Perhaps you’ll get in when you’re my age,’ returned the bearder of
Commanders patronisingly.

‘By gum, yes. I hope so. I’ve always wanted to be in a submarine, ever
since the Marmora business.’ He gazed across at the _Parentis_. ‘Look,
there’s one of them going to sea. Can you see which she is?’

The ‘Sub’ shaded his eyes.

‘“147,” I think. Billings is in her. He’s my term, and he got in
without much trouble. I ought to get it in two months or so with any

‘That’ll mean drinks all round then, that’s one comfort,’ said the
Midshipman enviously.

‘Oh, I shan’t mind standing drinks once I’ve got it. Man, you’re
practically your own boss there. Think of it, no school or bally
drills. You’re not treated as a child like you are here.’

‘I don’t know about that. That picket-boat job I had yesterday wasn’t
much of a joke.’

A signalman came through the screen door and approached the Commander,
who was conferring with the Boatswain on the other side of the

‘Signal, sir,’ he reported.

The Commander looked round impatiently.

‘Well, what is it? Read it out.’

‘Flag, General, sir. From two to three p.m. Colours will be ’alf mast
owing to the loss of Submarine “159.”’

‘All right. Show it to the Officer of the Watch. Now, about that new
manilla, Mr Bostock....’

The signalman saluted and carried on.



    ‘Oh, mother dear, was that a whale?’ the baby porpoise said.
    ‘Now, hush, my Little Beautiful, it’s time you were in bed.’
    ‘Or, mother, could it be a shark that gave me such a fright,
    Or was it just a phantasy that passes with the night?’


    ‘Now, hush, my Little Beautiful. If you don’t go to sleep,
    I’ll have to call the Bogie-Man, the Bogie of the Deep.
    Be good, or he will swallow you; his teeth are sharp and keen,
    He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere. That grisly Submarine!’


It has already been pointed out that breakfast in the _Parentis_ was a
meal of Spartan severity. Moreover, the breakfasters were divided into
three distinct classes. During the remainder of the day the members of
these different orders descended to the level of the common herd and
were as other men. But when the fateful hour of eight a.m. came round
again, they picked up the broken threads of their lives, and for one
brief hour held chillily aloof from those of other and (according to
the point of view) less distinguished bodies.

The most elevated of these orders consisted of those few habitually
early risers, who, having shaved and bathed at the grisly hour of 7.15,
loomed heavily into the ward room with severe countenances and majestic
mien, each a procession in himself. In sepulchral tones they ordered
eggs, and taking up a strategic position with their backs to the fire,
produced books from their pockets and read in heavy silence, with one
eye cocked doorwards whence breakfast would appear.

On the arrival of food they took their seats in awful majesty, nodded
to one another across the table, and attacked their eggs without
further preamble. The actions of the noble-minded of this earth are
often mysteries to its more humble inhabitants. But _Conscia mens
recti_ may do these things and prosper.

To arrest public attention, man must be eccentric, but even greatness
has its penalties, and of these the discomfort attendant on
eccentricity is by no means one of the least.

Consequently the second, and by far the most numerous, school of
breakfasters, comprised the ‘plebs’ or rabble, who drifted in at any
time between eight-twenty and a quarter to nine, having risen and
dressed with decorum, and at the hour when a normal Christian should.

Its adherents held a brighter view of life; occasionally they spoke,
and rumour whispered that once in the dim ages, far back in the
twilight of history, a member of this low caste has even been known to

The third and last clan, which was very popular with certain members
of the mess, rivalled in fame its more ascetic brethren who aspired
to be ‘healthy, wealthy, and wise.’ Its devotees, having remained in
bed until the last minute, fled in terror to the bathroom, visions of
pyjamas and flying towels, and presently burst wild-eyed into the mess,
still buttoning their monkey jackets about them. In panic-stricken
tones they ordered food and (if the table had not already been cleared)
fell upon the viands in the manner of drowning men to whom help had
come when hope had been foregone.

For the remainder of the forenoon the ward room would be filled with
the bitter complaints of the less fortunate of these late-comers.
Complaints to the effect that ‘they never could get any breakfast in
this wretched ship,’ and of the futility and feebleness of the calls
given them by their respective Marine servants.

A new member coming to the mess grasped the situation at his first
meal, and felt it a point of unwritten law and honour to continue
membership in whichever body chance had happened to place him. He
resented those who altered their morning habits and broke through the
magic circle, and showed his displeasure by word or look, according to
the traditions of the body to which he belonged.

Thus it was that Raymond, who was a member of the ‘plebs,’ having
risen unusually early, was met with severe and threatening looks as
he took his seat at the table. The fluttering in the dove-cotes was
barely stilled when, horror, another intruder arrived on the scene of
mastication. As if this were not sufficient outrage in itself, the
breakers of the peace seemed in good humour with the world and actually
dared to talk! With frigid looks the early risers hastily finished
their meal and retired with ruffled dignity.

One only remained whose curiosity had got the better of his wounded
feelings. For a while he listened to what the others were saying in
the hopes of obtaining a clue to the mystery without having to resort
to the self-abasement of asking questions, but as nothing was spoken
of that would help him in that direction he was forced to swallow his
pride. Presently he looked up from the book he was pretending to read
and grunted with disgust.

‘Up early,’ he began, nodding at Raymond.

‘Yes,’ replied that worthy brightly. ‘Practice attacks.’

The curious one sat up and took professional notice.

‘One of the world’s workers this morning, eh? Who’s giving you a run?’

‘Jenkins, here. His T.B.’s alongside now, so I asked him to come aboard
and have a drop of breakfast with me.’

‘Now I come to think of it, I heard Jinks’s falsetto when I was in
my bath. He made rather a mess of coming alongside, I thought, and I
suppose he was mentioning it to any one who cared to listen to him.’

‘Made a mess of it, be blowed!’ cried the irate Jenkins. ‘You try a
combination of tide, and a fool at the wheel at seven in the morning,
and then you’ll realise what I’ve had to put up with.’

‘I have, my lad, I have. My heart went out to you when I heard the
bump. There ought to be an addition made to the lists of “summary
punishments,” entitling outraged “Lieutenants-in-command” to seize all
helm offenders and cast them instantly into chains.’

‘Blame the Kaiser, he’s the cause of the trouble,’ returned the Torpedo
Boat captain sadly. ‘I’m well stocked with “hostility only” people,
who never smelt salt water before they sold their farms and came to
sea. You wouldn’t believe some of the weird stories I could tell you.
Did you ever hear about my gray paint?’

‘I heard some of the most extraordinary rumours. What actually

‘Oh, it was chronic. Burton, my Number One, was nearly a raving lunatic
over it, and hasn’t been the same man since. It quite broke the poor
chap down. He’d been trying to mix the right shade for days, and
thought he really had hit on it at last. It was all mixed in a whopping
great tub ready for slapping on in the morning, and the whole bally lot
disappeared during the night.’

‘Great Scott! What the devil happened to it?’

‘Prepare for a shock and I’ll break it to you gently. It had been
dumped, jettisoned, thrown over the side, mark you, by an “’ostility
only” bloke wot thort it was dirty water, sir, please!’

‘My poor old Jinks. No wonder he wears a careworn look.’

‘All very well for you to laugh, Austin, but it’s these little things
that are the bane of one’s existence in the destroyer trade. Upsets of
this sort and submarines are about on a par with one another.’

‘We ought to be ready by now,’ said Raymond, rising and going over to
the scuttle. ‘Seagrave has been up since dewy dawn getting ready. Yes,’
he continued, looking over his shoulder, ‘he seems to be having a high
old time of it by himself, and by the looks of things we’re all ready
when you are.’

‘Right-oh. I shove off at eight-thirty, don’t I?’

‘I haven’t had a “dummy run” for ages,’ grumbled Austin. ‘The owner
thinks I’m so proficient I don’t need any more, I expect.’

‘Oh, no, my friend,’ laughed Raymond. ‘You’re not his blue-eyed boy by
a long chalk. It’s common knowledge that you made such a fiasco of your
last one that he doesn’t like to trust you again.’

‘Maybe, maybe,’ replied Austin amiably. (He was one of the best
submarine officers in the depot.) ‘Out of the mouths of babes and
sucklings.... What’s the stunt to-day, anyway?’

‘Just the usual. Jinks goes out at eight-thirty and buzzes about in a
ten mile area. I follow when I’ve digested my food, dive when he least
expects it, and attack him in his little sardine tin by short sharp
rushes. I shall then be crowned with laurel leaves, which, with my
accustomed modesty, I shall refuse to wear.’

‘That’s open to question. Last time Jinks gave me a run I couldn’t get
anywhere near him. How many “fish” are you going to fire?’

‘Probably four, I think. It depends whether it’s worth while. You see,
I’ve got that patent bow-cap, and as I have to flood all four tubes
together, I might as well get rid of the “fish.”’

‘That always seems to me to be a rummy arrangement. Personally I can’t
see much advantage in it. Do you find it any good?’

‘It’s handy in one way. If you miss with your first shot, your other
tubes are ready for another go.’

‘My dear good chap, you must not be such a Hun. You’ll have to
curb these desires for hate. Why should you want to rain “fish” on
unfortunate beggars in that way?’

‘Time’s up,’ said the Torpedo Boat captain, pushing his chair back.
‘I’ll get off now. What’s the betting I spot you?’

‘Cocktails when we get back,’ Raymond called after him.

‘I’ll take you,’ said Jenkins, putting his head in through the ward
room door. ‘I’ve got a wonderful eye for spotting periscopes.’

‘Mine is the “perisher” you will _not_ spot,’ replied Raymond with
dignity. ‘Not if you try ever so. Not if you try with both hands, you

‘The youth bores me,’ sighed Jenkins, and fled as the _Naval Annual_
banged up against the bulkhead.

He made his way down the flat, where the Marine sentry stood at stolid
attention, and glimpses could be had, through open doors, of those who
wrestled manfully with collars, and the air was rent with shrill cries
and splashings from the bathroom. Messengers and officers’ servants
were bustling about, and there was a general air of early morning
energy. At the end of the flat, he stepped up the companion and emerged
on the quarter-deck, where he gravely raised his hand to the salute.

‘Hallo, Jinks!’ cried a being, whose sword-belt and telescope
proclaimed him the Officer of the Watch; ‘I was surprised to find your
packet alongside when I took over at eight o’clock. What’s the game?’

‘I’m giving Raymond a run, and as I’m short of torpedo-lifting gear, I
got permission to come alongside and take some in before shoving out of
the harbour.’

‘I see. What time are you shoving off though, because “147” will be
back in half an hour’s time and she’ll want your berth alongside the

‘Don’t you worry. I’m off now. If you’d taken careful stock of me you’d
have seen the business-like look in my eye.’

‘That’ll be all right then. Good luck. When are you coming aboard to
dine with us, by the way?’

‘Any old time when I’m free will suit me.’

‘Well, come to-night, then. Dinner’s at seven-thirty. Cheer-oh.’

H.M. Torpedo Boat _Zero_ lay alongside the outer submarine, and Jenkins
had to clamber over the boats to reach his command. Four boats there
were, with just a thin plank thrown from one to the other as a means of
passage, and it required a little skilful manœuvring to get across in
safety. As he made his way over he caught glimpses of their internals
down the open hatches, heads bobbed round the conning-towers, and
snatches of song rose from the depths. Some of the crew of the outer
boat were exchanging insults with the _Zero’s_ men alongside, but at
sight of Jenkins they resumed their work with unaccustomed zeal.

The _Zero_ was old, very old, and quite unlovely, but according to her
captain, ‘she had her points.’ What these points were no one had ever
discovered, for all inquiries were met with the reply that ‘if they
couldn’t see them for themselves, he (the captain) was certainly not
going to the trouble of pointing them out for their (the inquirer’s)
instruction.’ She was small and uncomfortable and resembled an
overgrown motor-launch with a whale-back fo’c’sle. Also she was wet
in a sea way, and her internal arrangements were not of the most
convenient. Nevertheless she was a command, and in her captain’s eye
she had no blemish. Later, when he had four stripes on his sleeve,
and commanded a battleship, he would look back on her and study her
photographs with amusement and a little sorrow, but now, he was very
serious about her and very touchy about criticisms. No man dared
speak lightly of her since the awful day when ‘Snatcher’ Shelldon
had referred to her as ‘a lady of doubtful age.’ The result had been
terrific, and from that day nobody had openly questioned the _Zero_ or
her capabilities.

As he stepped aboard, Burton, the R.N.R. First Lieutenant, met him and

‘All ready, sir,’ he reported.

‘Very good, we’ll shove off at once,’ said Jenkins. ‘“123” will follow
us in half an hour, so we haven’t got too much time. Stand by to let
the lines go.’

He picked his way along the deck, past the two torpedo tubes, and the
twelve-pounder guns, and up the ladder to the bridge. Here was no
‘big ship’ routine, for the _Zero_ only carried two officers and just
sufficient hands for the efficiency of the ship, and the helmsman and a
signal boy were in sole charge of the bridge. It was not an extensive
structure, and consisted of a wheelhouse and chart-room amidships,
fronted with glass and affording some protection against wind and rain,
and two wings thrown out to the vessel’s sides.

Just below the fore-part amidship was a twelve-pounder gun, and beyond
the whole back stretched to the razor bow. She was not much to look at,
but she could still do her twenty-two knots and a bit over if called
upon, without unduly straining herself or her twin engines.

Jenkins gave an order and the lines were thrown off fore and aft. Then
the engines began to move and the _Zero_ slid quietly astern. Aboard
the submarine alongside heads appeared from the hatches, and a parting
insult was cast in an undertone at an able seaman who was coiling down
a line.

Slowly she cleared the sterns of the _Parentis_ and her satellites,
swung round, came ahead, and steadied on her course out of the harbour.

The fine weather still held and it was a lovely morning. The Fleet
looked majestic and awe-inspiring, and as the Torpedo Boat slipped past
a mammoth Dreadnought, an outsider comparing the two might have been
struck with the versatility of the Navy’s work. Big ships or little,
all were marined by the same class of seamen, who never knew from one
day to another in what class or size of ship they might be required to
carry out their duties.

The _Zero_ picked her way between the vessels, Jenkins training his
glass on each as she went by. Here the ship’s company were running
round the decks to the strains of a lively tune played by the Marine
Band, there detachments were parading and squads under gunnery
instruction. The Church pendant flown by a third ship indicated that
the crew were at prayers, and divisions were mustering to the strains
of a bugle call on a fourth. Signals were being hoisted, semaphores
were busily waving their arms, and picket boats and trawlers dotted the
open spaces between the vessels. It was ‘The Fleet,’ and accustomed to
it as he was, the sight sent a thrill through him as he took in the

As they cleared the gate and headed for the open sea Burton came up to
the bridge.

‘Fine weather for us, sir,’ he remarked, picking up a pair of
binoculars. ‘Light breeze and very nearly a flat calm.’

‘It is. Raymond will have to be pretty cunning if he’s going to get his
attacks in unseen to-day. The best weather for him is when there is
just a slight lop on the water. In a calm like this we ought to see the
“feather” of his old “look-stick”[10] without much difficulty.’

‘Personally, I haven’t had much practice at picking up periscopes, and
it never seems to me to be as easy as it sounds.’

‘Does take a bit of practice certainly, but with a little---- Hallo,
what’s that over there?’

‘“147” returning,’ he continued, lowering his glasses. ‘Not more than
six or seven miles off either. That shows you how hard it is to see ’em
even when they’re on the surface. What’s the time?’

‘Ten to nine, sir,’ said Burton, glancing at his watch.

‘We’d better whack her up to twenty knots then, and we’ll start a
zig-zag at once to exercise the helmsman. Raymond will be out any
minute now. We’re going to manœuvre anywhere in this area,’ he added,
with his finger on the chart, ‘so we ought to be able to see him dive.’

The Torpedo Boat slid through the water with an easy motion. The
weather was clear, and here outside the harbour the sea was nearly
smooth, and the razor fore-foot cut a great sheaf of water away on
either bow as her engines worked up to top speed. Her gun-screws were
closed up and her look-outs posted. A large red flag was hoisted at the
yard-arm and every eye was kept glued on the harbour mouth, watching
for the first sight of ‘123’ on her way out.

Every five minutes Jenkins altered the course, edging her gradually
out to sea until the harbour was left about ten miles astern. Arrived
there, the _Zero_ ran up and down parallel to the land, waiting for her
foe to appear.

Presently the signal boy lowered his glass sharply and reported, ‘“123”
coming out, sir.’

Away over the entrance a small smudge showed up, which the glasses
revealed as Raymond’s submarine doing her best on her gas engines. Her
bridge-screen was down and all appeared to be ready for diving.

‘All right,’ said Jenkins, after carefully inspecting her. ‘Keep an eye
on her and let me know when she dives.’

Up went the telescope again, while the _Zero_ continued her hurried
beat. Then down came the glass, and ‘Diving, sir,’ the boy announced.

Away over on the starboard hand ‘147,’ who had seen the red flag and
knew its meaning, hauled up to the Northward to approach the harbour
by a roundabout route and leave the Channel clear for her submerged
sister. Not a sign of Raymond’s boat could now be seen, and the game of
‘touch’ began in earnest.

The _Zero_ had to get back into harbour, while ‘123’ would exert every
effort to torpedo her. It was like looking for a poisoned needle
in a bundle of hay, and one realised what it is like when hostile
submarines with real live torpedoes are in one’s vicinity. Then,
it occurred to Jenkins, there was always the chance of something
going seriously wrong with Raymond’s boat, and he might run her down
unknowingly. Well, that was up to her captain, and he must look out for
himself. Although he had given practice-attacks to many submarines, the
Torpedo Boat captain could never overcome an uneasy feeling when his
‘enemy’ had dived. He couldn’t see them, they were away under water,
and if the attack were not made as soon as he expected it, doubts
would come over him as to whether all were well below. Was anything
the matter, and ought he to stop, buoy the spot, and return to harbour
and report it? Then when he was getting really anxious the submarine
would rise or fire at him, and he would have to call himself a fool for
his doubts and fears. He was getting over it now, but he still felt
the anxiety if, for any reason, an attack were unusually prolonged.
Standing now in a wing of the bridge with his binoculars glued to his
eyes, he scanned every inch of the water within a two miles’ radius.
On the other side Burton was similarly employed, and look-outs in all
parts of the ship were doing their best with their naked eyes.

The helm was put over, and, always edging towards the distant harbour,
the _Zero_ dodged and turned and retraced her tracks to the skipper’s
orders. She pirouetted like a debutante, and it seemed as if she fully
appreciated the fact that, all the while, somewhere beneath her, ‘123’
an enemy for the moment, was watching and waiting the opportunity to
fire her torpedoes at her. The sun shone brightly and danced on the
wavelets as they advanced to meet her. Occasionally a light spray
kissed her in passing, and the harbour and ‘home’ drew nearer and more
acceptable. Away ahead a gull circled and flew down to the wave tops,
hovered an instant, wheeled up, and finally fluttered slowly down as if
seeking something.

Jenkins brought his glass down with a bang.

‘Hard-a-port!’ he cried. ‘There she is! Quarter of a mile off, four
points on the port bow.’

The _Zero_ swung round in her own length, but even as she turned two
glittering objects showed up in the water, leaving white streaks behind
them and approaching her at a prodigious speed.

‘Steady!’ shouted Jenkins. ‘Watch the torpedoes! Stop her!’

One ‘fish’ passed well astern while the other barely grazed under her
counter. Five hundred yards farther on they broke surface, and the
red-painted collision heads bobbed up and down in silent mockery.

‘Away gig!’ piped the quartermaster, as Burton came tumbling down the
ladder. Two seamen jumped into the boat while the others lowered her to
the water, where on the tables being unhooked she towed alongside by
her painter, which was made fast from the _Zero’s_ fo’c’sle. The man
in the stern-sheets grasped the tiller and sheered her out, for the
Torpedo Boat had not lost way yet and was still going through the water
at a good five knots. Then quietly he eased in again, and the remainder
of the crew dropped into the boat followed by the T.I. and Burton.

‘Ready!’ cried the latter, as he took his seat. ‘Let go, for’ard. Way

As she sheered out, the Torpedo Boat slid swiftly past her. When all
was clear, her engines churned astern and she gradually lost her weigh
and came to a standstill.

All this time Jenkins could see no sign of the submarine, which had
evidently retired to a discreet depth after firing the ‘mouldies.’
Nothing was to be seen of her as he looked all round in the proximity
of his vessel. Then suddenly he realised with a shock that she was
there, had risen just behind him within a biscuit’s throw, bobbed
up like a Jack-in-the-Box, in fact. True, she was deep in the water
but her whole superstructure was above surface, and as she lay there
apparently deserted she put him in mind of some monster of the deep
thrown up by an underwater explosion. Presently the conning-tower hatch
opened and Raymond and the helmsman appeared. A moment or two passed,
an order was given, and she slid quietly alongside, within hailing

‘Saw you!’ shouted Jenkins triumphantly. ‘I spotted the periscope on my
port bow and put the helm hard-a-port just in time!’

‘Saw me, eh!’ Raymond bellowed back. ‘For how long?’

‘Only about a half a minute. Just when you had the “look-stick” up the
last time. When you fired, it must have been. You bore about sou’-west
as near as I could get it. I was afraid it was too late and you were
going to get your shot in.’

‘I rather thought I should get you that time. How did the “fish” run?’

‘Very well. A good straight run, but they seemed to me to be a bit
deep. What depth did you have them set at?’

‘Sixteen feet. Best to be on the safe side. That makes sure of them
going well underneath you if I get a good shot in, and leaves a margin
in case they rise a bit. I don’t want to damage ’em if I can help it.’

‘No, of course not. Do you want another run?’

‘Yes, please. I’d like to get rid of the other two fish now we’re on
the job. Same speed zig-zag will do me nicely.’

‘Right-oh. I’m picking up your torpedoes now. If you sheer off at once,
by the time I get ’em aboard you’ll be far enough away to dive. I’ll
get out to sea again to the limit of the area.’

‘All right. Thanks very much. But I shall be some time, so don’t
shake things too much. I’m pumping out the tubes so as to go through
the whole show again for the benefit of the crew. I haven’t had any
attacks for some time and there are some new hands in the boat.’

‘Never mind!’ bawled Jenkins, waving the megaphone in adieux. ‘I’ll
steam out slowly and give you plenty of time. Cheer-oh.’

Meanwhile the gig had pulled quickly to the nearer of the two
torpedoes. The war-heads, with their great charges of T.N.T., had been
removed the night before and the harmless collision or peace-heads
substituted. Other slight adjustments had also been made in order to
make them sufficiently buoyant, to control their speed and the depth
and distance they should run, and now they bobbed on the surface in a
perpendicular position, spouting water and pointing their noses to the

As they drew alongside the first of them the T.I. grabbed at the wire
grummet fixed to the head, and passed the end of a line through it.
The torpedo was then pulled gently forward by the boat’s crew until
the expert could reach and force back the starting lever, rendering
harmless her knife-edge propellers. Then off they pulled for the other,
the ‘mouldy’ touring astern and bobbing after them.

Presently they had them both fast, and rowed gently back to the _Zero_,
Burton and the T.I. holding the towing lines well apart to prevent them
banging against one another and injuring themselves.

Arrived alongside under the out-swung torpedo davit, the boat was made
fast and a line passed over the propellers of the inboard ‘fish.’ Its
other end was thrown aboard, and the _Zero’s_ men clapped on to the
nose and tail ropes and lifted her bodily out of the water. Then the
T.I. passed a thin steel band round the body of the torpedo at its
point of balance, screwed in a shackle, hooked on the davit runner, and
all was ready.

‘Hoist away!’ cried Burton from the stern sheets.

The torpedo crept quietly up the _Zero’s_ side, the men guiding her as
she rose. When she cleared the deck level, the davit was swung round
and she was gently lowered on to the wooden chocks prepared to receive
her. The second torpedo followed, and all but two of the boat’s crew
came aboard, the coxswain and the bow oar remaining to get her inboard.
She was pulled under the davits, hooked on, and as her dripping keel
rose out of the water, Jenkins put the telegraphs ahead and the _Zero_
was under weigh again.

Before the gig was up the T.I. was fussing round the recovered torpedo
like a hen round a long-lost chicken, putting on tail clamps, draining
the engines, and generally seeing to their needs.

As Burton went up to the bridge, after seeing the boat in, ‘123,’ who
was now about a mile away, slowly disappeared from sight.

First of all she settled down bodily in the water until her
superstructure was awash. Slowly her decks submerged, leaving only
her gun and conning-tower visible. Then as she sank deeper, her
periscope’s standard sticking out of the water was the only evidence
of her existence. The standard vanished, and through binoculars the
periscope alone could be seen, leaving a thin wake behind it. Then
that, too, disappeared, and there was no longer anything to tell the
watchers that ‘123’ had ever existed.

Down in her internals the crew was at diving-stations ready for the
next attack. In the fore-end, where Seagrave was in charge of the
torpedo tubes, the electric light winked and shimmered on the round
copper doors. The T.I. and two seamen were busy with valves and levers,
and the sound of a pump rose above the hissing of escaping air. Raymond
was in the control room, by the periscope, and Boyd stood by, ready to
record every course and bearing on the chart and carry out any special
orders the captain might give.

She had dived to thirty feet as a preliminary canter in order to get
well clear of the Torpedo Boat, before showing her periscope, and now,
at an order from Raymond, the two coxswains slowly brought her up. Very
gingerly the captain raised the instrument, took a quick glance round,
and lowered it again.

‘Thirty feet,’ he ordered. ‘Course 20 deg., Boyd. _Zero_ bearing 120
deg. We’ll let her get well out to sea again and have another smack at
her on her way back.’

‘All ready for’ard, sir,’ said Seagrave, coming aft. ‘We haven’t had
a great deal of practice in the fore-end lately, but that new man
seems to understand his job. I’ve drained the tubes, so that we can go
through the whole routine again.’

‘Very good. I’ll let you know in plenty of time. We’ve got to get old
Jinks this journey, remember. He mustn’t be allowed to crow twice.
Up periscope,’ he added to the able seaman who was controlling the
movements of the ‘look-stick’ so that the captain might be free to make
his observations.

‘All right,’ he continued, finishing his brief survey. ‘Carry on
for’ard. Jinks has turned back now. Keep her at eighteen feet,

Another rapid glance a few minutes later showed him what he was waiting
for, and as the periscope came down he prepared for the attack.

‘Alter course to 175 deg., bearing 160 deg.,’ he called out. ‘Speed up
500. Flood the tubes.’

‘Flood the tubes,’ repeated Boyd along the tunnel of the boat, and
‘flood the tubes’ came back from Seagrave in the fore-end.

Round the tube doors a buzz of preparation took place. Before opening
the bow-cap and exposing the outboard doors at the farther end, through
which the torpedoes would presently be launched by compressed air,
the tubes had to be filled with water. It was necessary to flood them
from the water already in the fore-trimming tank, because if outside
water were allowed to enter the boat the extra weight would put her
down by the head and seriously upset her trim, probably even rendering
an attack impossible. Then, when the tubes were flooded, the bow-cap
could be swung, and on the order to fire compressed air would hurl the
torpedoes from their cages, the trippers would engage and force back
the starting levers as they slid out, and they would be away from the
mark at forty knots.

‘Open the drains and vents!’ cried Seagrave. ‘Air on the fore trim

Away aft in the control room Hoskins worked at a spindle on the air
manifold, and a rumbling and gurgling indicated that water was being
blown from the tank up into the tubes.

Seagrave and the T.I. were watching the gauges as the level slowly
rose. Up, up it came, and as the thin bubble line reached the top, a
spurt of water shot out from the vents.

‘Shut off drains and blows,’ cried the ‘Sub.’ ‘Close the vents!’

The tubes were now full, and with a few turns of a wheel he forced the
great bow-cap for’ard off its seating. Then with his foot on a shining
brass pedal, with a single heave of a lever, he swung the whole mass
round till the indicator showed that the open doors were in line with
the tubes. Something fell into place with a click, the cap was worked
back on to its seating, and the torpedoes were free for their mission.

‘Charge firing tanks’ was the next order, and as the air sighed and
soughed through the pipes, ‘All ready for’ard, sir!’ he shouted.

‘Ay, ay,’ answered Raymond, with his eye at the periscope. ‘Bearing of
_Zero_ 165 deg. What’s her depth?’

‘Eighteen feet, sir.’

‘Right. Down periscope.’

Boyd was working furiously at his chart, laying off the bearings and
courses and making notes of the orders given for future reference. All
this would be gone through afterwards in ward room and cabin, and it
was best to be well prepared.

Up went the periscope again. The men in the control room guessed they
were nearing the moment of attack and steadied themselves in readiness.

‘Bearing 170 deg. What’s her depth?’

‘Sixteen feet, sir.’

‘Keep her down, man. Don’t let her break surface. Down with her,’ said
Raymond sharply.

The coxswains worked frantically and took her down to twenty feet. Then
up once more and the periscope raised a mere few inches.

‘Bearing 175 deg. Full fields. Stand by!’ shouted Raymond, and down
came the periscope again.

The motors eased down as the fields were increased by the torpedo
ratings working at the motor-boards in the after compartment. Boyd
dropped his notebook and stood by the firing gear.

‘Deflection’s twenty, sir,’ he said.

‘Open “stand by” valves,’ cried Seagrave. ‘Open the cocks on the firing
line.’ A minute’s quick glance round, then ‘ready, sir.’

The periscope went up a few inches. Raymond was bending down almost
on his back now in his efforts to show above water as little of his
‘look-stick’ as possible.

‘Port ten,’ he ordered. ‘Keep her at her depth. Steady the helm.
Starboard five. Steady again.... Fire!’

Boyd wrenched down the firing levers, and the boat shuddered through
all her frames as the torpedoes were hauled forward. There was a great
soughing of air as the firing tanks recharged, the coxswains spun their
wheels to counteract the loss of weight, and down came the periscope.

‘Eighty feet,’ said Raymond, rubbing his eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

The _Zero_ had turned her head out to sea for the second attack.
Jenkins had carefully marked the spot where the submarine had dived
and felt fairly confident of picking up the periscope a second time.
Burton also was beginning to alter his opinion about the difficulty of
spotting a periscope. Perhaps it was easier than he had thought it.
True, he hadn’t seen it last time, but then he was looking out on the
other side of the ship and couldn’t be expected to have picked it up.

He crossed over to where the captain was standing.

‘How far are we going out, sir?’ he asked.

‘About the same distance, but we’ll keep her at this speed till we turn
round for the run. Raymond wants to do some fancy work or other to
train his crew.’

‘Very good, sir. I expect he was pretty sick at missing us last time.
He thinks he’s rather a knut at attacks, doesn’t he?’

‘Oh, he doesn’t mind,’ laughed the other. ‘It won’t worry him, he’s
one of the best. And don’t run away with the idea that he won’t
get us, because his blood’s up now, and it would be hard to find a
better submarine officer when he really means business. How does the
lighthouse bear?’

‘About another three miles to go,’ replied Burton, peering along the
azimuth ring.

‘We’ll carry on like this for another quarter of an hour then before we
turn round. Warn the look-outs when we start the run.’

The Torpedo Boat steamed on at about twelve knots to the limit of the
area. Her red flag warned all intruders of the nature of her errand,
and any passing craft gave a wide berth to the region in which she was

Presently Burton looked into the compass again and announced that she
had reached the turning-point. The _Zero_ swung round on the course for
home, and Jenkins bent over the chart.

‘Here we are,’ he said, marking the spot with a pencil, ‘and Raymond
dived there. I expect he’ll attack us about four miles this side of the
harbour. Our course is 270 deg. Whack her up to full speed and start a

The telegraph clanged, and the helmsman put his wheel over at an order
from Burton. The _Zero_ jumped ahead and began on her erratic run for
home. Scarcely a ripple moved the surface of the water now that the
light wind had dropped, and the odds were strongly in favour of their
spotting the periscope long before Raymond could get into a position
favourable enough to fire his torpedoes.

With her slender bow slicing up a narrow trench of water the Torpedo
Boat raced on, turning and zig-zagging to the slightest touch of the
helm. Once Jenkins thought he saw the submarine and gave a sharp order,
but it proved to be nothing, and he countermanded it immediately. Then
Burton thought he saw her, and after that he saw periscopes everywhere
where there were none to be seen. A haunted feeling came over him, and
he thanked his stars it was not an enemy boat that was after them. It
seemed rather hopeless trying to find her after all.

But Jenkins, the veteran, thought otherwise. He had done this job on
many occasions, and rather fancied himself at bowling out his submarine
friends, and as they approached the suspected area he lowered his
glasses and took a final glance at the chart.

‘Keep a good look-out now,’ he shouted to the watching men. ‘Starboard
bow probably.’

It seemed impossible that a submarine could approach the little craft
and remain undetected. A dozen men were on the alert scanning every
inch of the surface in the vicinity of the vessel, and those on the
bridge kept their glasses sweeping in all directions. Now that the
moment had arrived, an expectant hush fell on the watchers, and each
strained his eyes for the first sight of the slightest ‘feather’ or
other indication of the enemy’s presence. Even the unnatural behaviour
of a gull called for attention, for the wily birds can see and give
warning of a periscope long before the human eye can detect it. It
was like a game of hide-and-seek, and the look-outs experienced the
feelings of a stranger stumbling along in the dark, knowing that
somewhere round the corner his enemy is waiting to stick a knife in his

The expected danger-spot was reached, every eye on the alert. Over went
the helm, they were through it; it was passed and the tension relaxed.

Still there was no sign from the depths, and Jenkins slowly lowered his
glass again.

‘He’s missed us, I think,’ he said. ‘We must have given him the slip.’

‘A bit too quick for him,’ remarked Burton complacently.

Save for themselves the ocean seemed untenanted, and there lay the
harbour a bare two miles ahead.

‘Don’t crow till you’re out of the wood, though,’ went on the skipper.
‘He may have us yet.’

Then suddenly, like a bolt from the blue, his eye caught a glint in the

‘Hard-a-starboard!’ he snapped. ‘Over with it!’

Too late! A flash of white and creamy bubbles told where one torpedo
had rushed across the bow. The other shot clean under the Torpedo
Boat, was lost for an instant, and reappeared on the other side like
an arrow from a bow. Two cables away they broke surface, and the red
peace-heads bobbed up and down as witnesses of the attack.

‘Got us, by Jove!’ roared Jenkins. ‘A beautiful shot! Steady the helm!
Stop her!’

Still there was no sign of ‘123,’ and with her engines going astern the
_Zero_ gradually lost her weigh and came to a standstill.

The boat was called away and Burton despatched to retrieve the spent
torpedoes, and presently a dark wedge-shaped object pushed up above the
surface and revealed itself as the submarine’s periscope standard. The
bridge, the gun, and finally the superstructure appeared, and she was
up from the eighty foot dive which she had undertaken to increase the
realism of the attack. An enemy who had seen the torpedoes on their
mission would have taken the warning and cast about for his assailant,
if he had not been blown to a better world.

She lay on the surface about half a mile off, menacing and silent.
The figures were seen moving on her bridge, and she slowly dropped
alongside, while her telescopic mast went up in sections and the White
Ensign was hoisted to the peak.

‘Beautiful shot!’ shouted Jenkins, as she came within hailing distance.
‘A real ripper! One went just ahead and the other right underneath me.
That depth you set them at was about right and they ran straight. If
I’d been a Hun you’d have blown me to smithereens.’

‘Did you see me?’ howled Raymond.

‘No fear. Never saw a vestige of periscope. In fact, I thought you’d
missed me.’

‘That’s good. I nearly broke surface once, and I was afraid it would be
no use carrying on. Will you bring the “fish” in and I’ll take ’em from
you when we get alongside the _Parentis_?’

‘Yes, all right. I’m picking them up now. See you later.’

Raymond started the motors and ‘123’ drew ahead. Presently Burton
returned with the torpedoes, which were carefully hoisted, and as the
boat was swung to the davit-heads the _Zero_ got under weigh. Ahead in
a cloud from her exhaust was the submarine, on her gas engines now, and
putting her best screw forward for the harbour. Permission to enter was
sought and granted from the Flagship in hoists of coloured bunting and
the exercise was over.

As the _Zero_ gathered speed the captain looked up from the chart table.

‘This is where we come in, I think,’ he said with a grin; ‘shove her on
to full.’

Down below the telegraph clanged and the small craft shook herself like
an expectant terrier. Then she began to feel the added impetus and
rapidly overhauled her slower rival. The Heads of the harbour entrance
opened out as they approached, and the trawler at the gate hoisted the
clearance signal. Beyond, the masts and funnels of the Fleet could be
seen, and away to the southward an Admiralty collier was punching along
with her cargo of diamonds for the ever hungry bunkers.

As they buzzed past their recent enemy, Jenkins gave an order to the
signal boy, and that ingenuous youth began waving the semaphore arms
with evident enjoyment.

‘Will report your return,’ he spelt out.

A pause followed. Then a figure was seen to clamber to a position of
vantage on the submarine’s standard and there was a flash of red and
yellow bunting.

‘What does he say?’ asked Raymond, when the message came to an end.

The boy saluted. ‘“123” to _Zero_, sir, “Your signal not understood.
Will report sinking of _Zero_ by torpedo on my arrival at base.” Eleven
twenty-five, code time, sir.’

‘What did I tell you, Burton?’ laughed the captain. ‘It’s no good
trying to get to windward of Raymond. He’s always undefeated to the

‘Precocity, I call it,’ said the other, who was bitterly grieved at the
downfall of Jenkins’s attempt to score off the wily ‘hate-boat.’

The signal boy turned his back sharply and busied himself with his
flags, while he hid a smile behind a grimy hand. He was used to this
sort of chaff among the gods, but experience had taught him that it was
not well to display too keen a sense of humour on these occasions.

Three minutes later, with her engines at a reduced speed, the _Zero_
took the gate and sped on up the harbour. As she passed the big ships
the boy pounced on an answering pendant, ran it up to the yard-arm, and
glued his eye to the telescope.

‘_Parentis_ to _Zero_,’ he spelt out. ‘Moorings alongside _Parentis_
occupied. Anchor in No. 4 berth.’

‘Down answer,’ he added, and the pendant fluttered to the deck.

‘All right, carry on for’ard, Burton,’ said the captain. ‘She’ll have
to come alongside us in the afternoon and take the torpedoes in.
Starboard anchor. Forty-five on the windlass.’

Burton departed to superintend the mooring operations, and the Torpedo
Boat picked up her berth and let go her anchor without unnecessary fuss.

Meanwhile ‘123’ had followed her into the harbour at a more leisurely
gait, observing a discreet decorum now that she was under the paternal
eye of the big ships. As she approached the _Parentis_ her gas engines
were shut down, and she dropped alongside on her motors and made fast
to the trot. Raymond sent for the T.I., and arrangements were made for
the parting and overhauling of the torpedoes that had been fired, and
also held communion with the coxswain with regard to shifting alongside
the _Zero_ for them, after lunch. Boyd shut down the Sperry compass,
and by the time Seagrave had seen everything in order the three
officers decamped to clean themselves for the meal.

‘A most profitable morning’s work,’ announced Raymond, as they entered
the crowded ward room. ‘My congratulations to you, Seagrave, on the way
the “fish” ran, and to you, Boyd, for the masterly manner in which you
recorded our doings. Who’s having a gin?’

       *       *       *       *       *

After dinner that evening the captain of the depot came down to the
ward room and was hailed with the respectful welcome of a great man and
a comrade. Drinks were passed on him, and he was led to an arm-chair
near the fire where the boat-captains were discussing their usual
topics, ‘shop’ and motor-bicycles. The Torpedo Lieutenant was in good
form and regaled his superiors with a lengthy account of his unrewarded
struggles to benefit a misguided humanity, and of his abject failure.
Austin and Blake brought a discussion on the merits of American Diesel
engines to him for a casting decision, and the Staff Paymaster bemoaned
the removal of a certain cherished underling to another sphere of

By-and-by, in a lull in the general conversation, the Captain spoke of
what was in his mind.

‘How did the attacks go to-day, Raymond?’ he asked. ‘You haven’t told
me anything beyond the bare report.’

‘Nothing to tell you, sir. They went pretty well. One came off and the
other didn’t.’

‘That’s all rubbish, sir,’ put in Jenkins, who was one of the guests of
the evening. ‘I only just saw him the first time, and the second attack
defeated me completely. I was absolutely Hunned and never saw a thing.’

The Captain’s eyes twinkled.

‘Not so bad, Raymond,’ he said. ‘Not so bad. A little more practice and
you’ll become one of the wonders of the deep.’

‘I don’t know about that, sir,’ laughed Raymond. ‘I ought to have got
both attacks in, really, and I only just got him the last time by a

The Captain smiled and changed the subject. At the other end of the
ward room somebody was playing the piano and the strains of ‘The
Admiral’s Broom’ rose in a deep baritone. When the chorus was reached
the party round the fire joined in:--

    ‘I’ve a whip at the mast said he,
    For a whip is the sign for me,
    That the World may know, where ever I go,
    I ride and rule the Sea....’

The good old words filled the room and floated up through the skylight
to the silent quarter-deck, where the officer of the watch paced up
and down, and the anchored ships showed up as deeper blotches in the
darkness. Overhead the wireless buzzed and crackled, and the lapping of
the water between the boats alongside sounded like mermaids’ kisses.

A quartermaster on his way forward paused by the open skylight
listening to the tinkle of the piano.

‘Strewth,’ he muttered. ‘Orficers ’avin’ a good time,’ and relapsed
into silence as a signalman pattered by to relieve his mate on the

As the song came to an end a boy operator knocked at the ward-room door
and handed a message to the Captain, who read it and put it in his
pocket. Another song was beginning, and the singers were clustering
round the piano. Duty called him, and as the song reached the noisy
stage, he left with a quiet ‘good-night,’ and returned to his lonely

He was no mean judge of character.



    Neptune asked of Britannia,
    ‘Whence do your Seamen come?
    Are they born in the fields or forests,
    Or born in the city slum?
    Are they born in the lofty palace,
    Or born in the marsh or fen?
    In the name of the Golden Trident,
    Where do you get your men?’


    Britannia rose in her armour,
    Her brazen buckler rang,
    And the waves of the world were silent,
    As her seamen’s creed she sang.
    ‘In the name of the Golden Trident,
    Which both of us dare to wield,
    In the name of the Isles of Britain,
    In the name of the Brazen Shield;
    In the name of the wives and mothers--
    Brave beyond mortal ken,
    You shall learn how in pride and honour,
    Britannia rears her men.


    ‘Back in the mists of fable,
    A ship once put to sea,
    And she sailed to the dim horizon,
    For the wind was fair and free.
    She sailed to the Mighty Pillars
    Where the floods of the Great Sea ran;
    Born of the fame that girt her name,
    The seamen race began.


    ‘Born of that brave adventure,
    The latent spark took fire;
    And down to the sea there followed
    The sons of the seaman sire.
    It spread o’er the Isles of Britain,
    And grew with the birth of guns;
    Let them beware who challenge there
    Britannia’s sailor sons.’


    Neptune laughed as he listened,
    Laughed till the ocean rolled.
    ‘Woe to the men of the sea,’ he cried,
    ‘And woe to the over-bold.
    Though they may think to have conquered,
    Still will I have my share;
    Grant they be shrived.’ With that he dived
    Down to his ocean lair.

           *       *       *       *       *

    The waves of the deep rolled onward,
    Swelled in a mighty soar,
    Tottered and broke in a thunder stroke
    Upon Britannia’s shore.


The next day was Sunday, and as the fine weather still held, the
Captain of the depot announced to the First Lieutenant his intention of
inspecting the boats. Thence was much heart-burning and striving and
a prodigious amount of work, the net result being that the nine boats
shone inside and out like the proverbial new pins, and the crews, with
the exception of those who were to stand the rounds, clad in ‘Number
Threes,’ fell in on their superstructures with vacant ‘attention’
expressions on their usually classic features.

But before this happy result could be arrived at there was much to
be done ... and said, for it must be admitted that there were those
among the boat captains who held the opinion that inspections were an
unnecessary nuisance, carried out with the sole intention of harassing
the inspected.

The First Lieutenant of the _Parentis_ had given out the cheery news
after breakfast, and a rush had followed on the part of the ‘Subs,’
unusually tidy in their Sunday rigs, to see that their boats were in
a fit condition to withstand the piercing gaze of the Captain’s eagle
eye. The boat captains learnt the news not without unmixed feelings,
and with shrill cries of horror and reproach the unfortunate Number
One was hurled from the ward room. Bitter were the reproaches of one,
Blake, whose control room had been painted but the day before, while
Austin and several others had work going on and improvements under
weigh which they didn’t want disturbed. Raymond surveyed the matter
with the stony calm of a fatalist, while the Torpedo Lieutenant alone
maintained his unruffled serenity and dropped pearls of wisdom for the
comfort and instruction of the discomforted captains.

‘What you fellows really lack,’ he proclaimed from the depths of an
arm-chair and between puffs of an after-breakfast pipe, ‘is the power
of organisation. The present crisis is an excellent example. At nine
a.m. the ‘owner’ announces his intention of inspecting the boats after
divisions and prayers, that is at about ten-thirty. Now, mark the
result. Nine ‘Subs’ fly at the rate of knots out of the ward room, run
round in circles with their hands to their heads, dive down into the
boats and begin harassing unfortunate and peace-loving matlows. As
regards you people, you’re all completely defeated. You sit here, do
nothing, and growl like blazes, when as a matter of fact it doesn’t
affect you in the least. The ‘Subs’ do all the work and report when
the boats are ready. You then go down and inspect them yourselves,
find fault with everything, have the whole place turned upside down,
and wait till the dust has settled. At the last minute you have it
all put back again as it was before, and stand by for the Captain. Now
what you want is organisation. No matter what’s going on you ought to
be ready for an inspection at any moment of the day. Mark the ordered
routine of my own blameless existence. I rise at eight-thirty each
morning as fresh as a lark, and if I’m lucky manage to consume a little
breakfast. From then till lunch or cocktail time I maintain a complete
and unruffled calm, seated daily in the same arm-chair, unless the
claims of the Goddess Work call me to her altars. From lunch until
tea I meditate in my bunk, and from tea till dinner I give out hints
on the home, and generally instructive and edifying remarks from my
present seat of vantage. Bed follows dinner as the fruit follows the
flower, and my ordered and well disciplined day is at an end. It will
be hard for you, and I foresee many difficulties, but you really must
make an effort to follow my example,’ and the Torpedo Lieutenant lay
back gasping and mopped his fevered brow with a bandana of barbaric

‘The point is,’ grumbled Austin, not taking any notice of him, ‘that
in war time one can’t keep the boat up to the peace standard. It’s not
possible. There’s far too much work to be done, for one thing, and
considering the amount of sea time we put in I think we do pretty well
in keeping the boats as clean as they are.’

‘That’s the crux of the whole question,’ replied Raymond; ‘in war time
the ‘owner’ doesn’t expect to see the boats in the same state of spit
and polish as he has been used to in happier times. What he looks for
is general efficiency in boats, officers, and men. That’s the reason he
and I get on so splendidly. No, don’t heave that book, Jimmy; I’ve got
my number one monkey jacket on, and if I have to chastise you I shall
get it creased. Hallo! there’s the bugle for divisions. See you later.’

‘I don’t believe in inspections at all in war time,’ said another of
the party, as a general move was made for the door. ‘Unfair, I call it.
Brings the war home too much.’

Overhead the scurrying of heavily-shod feet and the sound of sharp
orders told that the ships’ company was mustering by divisions for the
Captain’s inspection, and the boat skippers cleared out to their boats
to see that all was in readiness.

Down in ‘123’ the last finishing touches were being applied when
Raymond arrived. Everything that brass polish and elbow grease could
cause to shine, shone with a satisfactory brilliance, and whatever
couldn’t shine was discreetly stowed away and hidden from the vulgar
gaze. When all was in readiness, Raymond and the ‘Sub’ made a tour of
inspection in search of possible defects or anything that might meet
with the disapproval of authority.

‘This hydroplane motor,’ said the latter, putting his hand on a large
black object that looked rather like a small mine. ‘It’s been running
hot lately. Have to look at it to-morrow. “Owner” won’t know that,

‘Um, no. She doesn’t look too bad. Tell Hoskins to stand the rounds
in the engine-room, T.I. in the fore-end, and second coxswain in the

‘Very good, sir. Hallo! they’re at prayers,’ he added as the strains
of a hymn accompanied by the Marine Band floated down the hatch. ‘Not
much longer now. I think she’ll do, sir. Fall the hands in on the upper
deck, coxswain.’

The last brass rag and lump of waste were stowed away and the men
scrambled up on deck. ‘123’ was a pleasure to the eye and a credit to
the makers of liquid metal polish. All down the long tunnel of her
inside, from the engines to the torpedo-tube doors, her steel and brass
and copper winked and twinkled in the electric light, her white enamel
was spotless, and her deckcloths were a glory to behold.

Raymond took a final look round. ‘Good enough,’ he said, as he went up
the conning-tower followed by the ‘Sub.’ ‘Now for the ordeal by fire.’

On deck the crew had fallen in in one long single line facing towards
the parent ship. Ten men forward of the conning-tower and as many
aft, all dressed in their best suits of ‘Number Three,’ and looking
remarkably spick and span and on their metal. They were standing at
ease now and sucking their teeth in anticipation, after the manner of
the A.B. who is in the rattle or otherwise undergoing some order or
other. By the gang plank to the next boat, for ‘123’ was the outside
vessel, and three of her sisters lay between her and the _Parentis_,
stood the coxswain with his boatswain’s pipe in hand, and Raymond took
his stand beside him in readiness to receive the Post-Captain on board.

Seagrave stood by in charge of the crew and Boyd was on the bridge,
which was the only remaining unoccupied space on the upper deck.
Between them and the _Parentis_ the crews of the other three boats were
drawn up in the same manner, and on the other side of the depot-ship
were five more boats in a similar state of cleanliness and innocent
expressions. They all flew their newest and largest ensigns, and looked
very smart and business-like in their Sunday dresses.

The music on the _Parentis_ quarter-deck drew to a close. Three hundred
men came to attention and replaced their caps simultaneously, and
the chaplain disappeared aft, his surplice waving in the breeze, as
the Church pendant fluttered down to the bridge. Another order and
the ship’s company faced forward and moved off the quarter-deck, the
band, which had struck up a lively march, wheeled in behind the rear
division, and the ceremony was at an end.

A dramatic pause followed, and then the figure of Captain Charteris
appeared at the port-gangway. The boatswain’s mate of the _Parentis_
and the coxswain of the inside boat, which happened to be Blake’s,
twittered on their pipes as he descended, and then he was lost to view
in the internals of the boat. He had come alone, unattended by First
Lieutenants or other minions, which augered well for the results of the

Austin, whose boat was next inside Raymond’s, turned round with a laugh.

‘Hope the “old man” doesn’t run up against Blake’s white paint,’ he
said. ‘Pretty small chance for us if he does.’

‘Trust Blake to watch that,’ came the answer. ‘He won’t want his
precious paint disturbed even by the coat of a full-fledged Captain.’
Once more silence and expectancy, and then the Captain reappeared up
the hatch followed by Blake, who looked moist and anxious but happy

‘Seems to be in a good temper,’ whispered Raymond to Seagrave. ‘Look
out, here he comes.’

With much saluting and piping Captain Charteris stepped across to the
next boat and the ceremony was repeated. When he once more rose to
view, however, some ten minutes later, his face appeared clouded and he
boarded Austin’s boat with a briskness that evidenced that all had not
been well with the vessel he had just inspected.

‘Wonder what’s up,’ murmured Seagrave. ‘He looks a bit sickish about

‘Man in a dirty rig, I expect, or else he asked too many questions,’
replied Raymond. ‘Our turn next.’

At last, after a seemingly interminable interval, the Captain once more
rose to view, and joy! the wily Austin had smoothed his ruffled temper.
The great man said a few final words, laughed, and turned towards
‘123.’ Blake’s coxswain, pipe to lips, made a scarcely perceptible
sign, and then, as the Captain set foot on the gang-plank, he and
the coxswain of ‘123’ simultaneously burst into a duet of piping,
shrilling, and twittering as each tried to out-do the other.

‘Ship’s company, ’shun!’ shouted Seagrave, as the men sprang to
attention; the officers saluted, and Raymond stepped forward to do the

Still the piping continued, rising and falling in regular cadence till
the performers were red in the face and near to bursting. Then again
that almost invisible sign, this time from Raymond’s coxswain, and the
sound of the pipes ceased as if suddenly cut off and smothered with a

The Captain returned the salute and looked down the line of stolid
faces. A student of physiognomy would have seen much food for
reflection once he had penetrated the mask of stolid look-your-best
that a man at attention always assumes.

In the first place there was Raymond, a tall upright figure, very
much the Naval Officer, and just now very much the captain of the
boat. Had he been asked why he had joined the Service he would hardly
have been able to give a very clear reason. ‘Father wanted me to,
you know. Thought I ought to,’ would probably have been his answer,
accompanied by much hesitation and a deal of stammering. As a matter
of fact he came of a family which boasted members of the Service for
many generations back, one of whom had been a Vice-Admiral. As an only
son it had seemed nothing less than duty that he should follow in his
father’s footsteps and carry the name on in the Service. He was one of
the older officers, with a _Britannia_ training, who had entered the
Submarine Service as a Lieutenant in the experimental days, and who,
after six long years as a junior, had gained his well-earned command
several years before the outbreak of war, and had gradually worked his
way up to command one of the later classes of submarine, and was even
now on turn for a bigger boat. In the ward room he was a witty and
pleasant companion. As a submarine captain we are able to judge for

Then there was Seagrave, looking at present rather nervous and wearing
a strained expression on his youthful face. Perhaps he was thinking
of the hydroplane-motor, or perhaps he was merely worried over the
general result of the inspection. He had received his training under
the more recent Osborne-Dartmouth scheme, and his presence in the
Submarine Service was the outcome of the war and the new Navy methods.
The large number of boats that had recently been built had necessitated
an increase in the ranks of submarine officers, and as it had not
been advisable to drain the general service of too many experienced
watch-keeping lieutenants, the Admiralty had hit on the plan of
entering Sub-Lieutenants as seconds in command of boats. They received
a course of submarine work, and, thanks to their previous training,
which included engineering among other things, and their own keenness
and intelligence, the scheme had worked very well. Many of them would
be in command of boats at a much younger age than their present
captains had gained a command, but the responsibilities and cares of a
submarine life had amply fitted them for their positions.

Boyd, the R.N.R. Lieutenant, was another offspring of the war, both as
regards his being in the Navy at all and as regards his presence in
the Submarine Service. Prior to the war the Royal Naval Reserve had
contained comparatively few officers, and commissions had been hard to
obtain, but after the first few months of hostilities the Admiralty
had realised that they had not sufficient trained seamen for their
needs, and had reopened the Reserve with a call for more officers.
The result far exceeded expectation, for the officers of the Merchant
Service flocked to the colours in thousands, and after a course of
training were sent afloat as watch-keepers in any class of ship from
Super-Dreadnoughts to trawlers. The growth in size and capabilities
of submarines, and their more arduous duties, had necessitated that
they should have an additional officer soon after war started, and
the result was that each of the bigger boats was supplied with a
Lieutenant of the Royal Naval Reserve. His duties were entirely those
of a seaman, as he was the navigator, took a large slice of the
watches, and looked after the confidential books and gyro compass.
Boyd himself had served his first four years at sea in a sailing ship
or ‘wind jammer,’ and had, after becoming an officer, transferred into
steam and done a voyage or two in tramp. At the outbreak of war he had
left one of the great mail companies of the Western Ocean, to which he
intended to return when all was over. The Navy life did not appeal to
him very strongly, and he was looking forward to a return to his old

The next in order was the coxswain, a first-class Petty Officer who
had joined submarines as an able seaman about the same time as Raymond
had entered that Service. Perhaps he had wanted to get married, and
had been attracted by the increased pay, or it may have been that a
friend in a submarine had told him stories of the life and privileges
pertaining to it that had fired his imagination. Like most men of his
age he had joined the Navy as a boy and been trained in a sailing brig,
whence he had eventually emerged and blossomed out, until he received
his anchor and was rated leading seaman after two years in submarines.
Raymond had, owing to a vacancy, tried him as a second coxswain, with
the result that in course of time he was promoted to the rank of Petty
Officer and coxswain, and had followed his captain from boat to boat
for several years in succession.

The second coxswain was a middle-aged leading seaman on turn for Petty
Officer who had been through much the same training as his senior, and
hoped for promotion as soon as he received his ‘crossed killicks.’[11]

Then there came the gun-layer, the cook, and six able seamen, all
A.B.’s of much the same age, men about twenty-six who aspired to be
coxswains or Torpedo Instructors in due course. They again were new
Navy, and had received their early training in shore barracks and
training cruisers. The Submarine Service is essentially a voluntary
one, and it would be difficult to ascertain why they had ever joined.
Probably if they were asked they would have replied ‘private reasons,’
and sucked their teeth noisily.

Then came the T.I., Torpedo Instructor or Torpedo Gunner’s Mate, a
Petty Officer and electrical expert, who, after going through the same
early trials as the two coxswains, had specialised in electricity after
being rated A.B. He had received his first upward step when he became
an S.T. or Seaman Torpedo man, and shortly after he was promoted to
Leading Seaman the specialist rating of Leading Torpedo Man had been
granted him. With maturity and experience had come the rank of Petty
Officer and Torpedo Instructor, and now he was one of those who knew
more about the internals of those highly mechanical engines of death
than the rest of the crew put together. He lived in a whirl of balance
chamber doors and hydrostatic valves, and gibbered in his sleep of
reducers and ignition delay gear.

The L.T.O., who was a new Navy man and the T.I.’s second-in-command,
was in charge under Seagrave of all the electrical appliances and
motors in the boat. He was an expert at finding ‘earths’ and short
circuits, and was notable among his kind in that he was nimble-fingered
and could ‘make’[12] a switch without breaking it.

The engine-room staff was headed by Chief Engine Room Artificer
Hoskins, a hoary-headed old sinner of the old school, who could coax
a Diesel engine to run on air or coal-dust if necessary and was,
moreover, in a permanent state of growl. Raymond swore by him, and had,
like the coxswain, taken him from ship to ship in his upward career. He
had joined the Navy as a fitter and turner at the age of twenty-two,
having just completed his apprenticeship in one of the great
shipbuilding yards on the Tyne, and had been entered as a Fourth Class
Artificer. His keenness and wonderful ability with anything mechanical
had urged him to join the Submarine Service, where he was practically
in charge of his own engines. Give him an oil-can and a lump of waste,
varied occasionally by a foot-rule and Macmahon wrench, and he would
be happy for hours.

The second, third, and fourth E.R.A.’s were all much younger men who
had joined under the new scheme as Boy Artificers at the training
college at Devonport, whence they had emerged, having received all
their knowledge from the Service, and in due course been rated
Artificers, 4th Class. They were now slowly working their way up, and
had joined the Submarine Service since the war, when the necessity for
capable men had inspired them with the wish for more authority than
fell to their lots in the engine-rooms of a Battleship.

The Stoker Petty Officer was a bearded and efficient ruffian, and the
oldest man in the boat. Unlike the seamen, the stokers do not join the
Navy as boys, but at about the age of eighteen, and this particular old
sinner had had rather a rough time of it in his early days. However,
he had kept going, and as only men of good character are admitted
to submarines, it speaks well of him that he had not fallen by the
wayside. In a submarine he had seen freedom from dirt and eternal
coal shovelling, raking, and slicing, as well as extra pay and other
privileges, and the added dangers of the life did not seem to worry him
in the least.

His right-hand man was the Leading Stoker, who had seen much the same
side of life as his senior, to whose rating he was now aspiring. He was
a man of good solid worth, a little fond of the bottle; and possessed
of many relations whose sudden deaths necessitated his immediate
presence in the home circle. But he was a good man and knew his work
and the men under him, and the engines never ran so smoothly as when he
was superintending the oiling and other equally necessary operations.

Finally, there were the six First Class Stokers, young men not long in
submarines who were very anxious to get on and very much afraid lest
they should be returned to general service, which is the punishment
dealt out to all those whose conduct in submarines does not justify
their remaining in them. They had all been through the same early
training, and most of them had joined submarines since the war. Like
the rest of the crew they were good, steady workers, for the Submarine
Service can always have its picked men, and those who are tried and
found wanting are summarily ejected to return to the rigours of
‘big-ship’ routine.

Occasionally an additional hand was carried in the shape of a wireless
or W.T. Operator, but, as Raymond dabbled in wireless among other
things, he was not a permanent member of the ship’s company, and spent
most of his time in the depot.

Captain Charteris took one keen glance along the line of motionless
figures, and turned to Raymond and smiled.

‘All very smart, Raymond,’ he said in an undertone.

‘Yes, sir,’ replied the other, and Seagrave tingled with delight as the
two disappeared down the engine-room hatch.

Arrived below, the Post Captain made a quick and searching examination
of the boat from end to end. His eagle-eye seemed to be all-embracing.
A question to Raymond, an inquiry of the Chief E.R.A., and a request
that the main-line pump should be started followed one another in the
first two minutes. It seemed that he made a very cursory visit to the
engine-room, but had anything been seriously wrong Raymond felt sure
that Captain Charteris would have spotted it, and thanked Heaven and
the Chief E.R.A. that nothing was amiss. Then for’ard through the
length of the boat, the Captain nodding his head as he listened to
Raymond’s explanations of some alterations he had recently made, and
occasionally asking a question and always putting his finger on the
weak spot as if by instinct.

Presently they reached the tube-doors, and Raymond heaved a sigh of
relief. So far everything had been satisfactory. The spare torpedoes
were examined, and a door was opened exposing the long dark tunnel of
the tube with its “fish” lying snugly within, and then the Captain
turned to the firing-gear.

‘Where’s the cross connection on the firing line?’ he asked.

‘Done away with it, sir. It was all right if both torpedoes were fired
together, but the firing-tank took 40 seconds to re-charge, and if
only one “fish” were fired with the cross connection fitted it was
impossible to fire a second unless we waited for that interval, because
all the air was used on the first one and there was nothing left to
fire the other with.’

The Captain nodded. ‘And now?’ he queried.

‘Each firing-tank fires the torpedo on its own side of the boat, sir.’

‘Do you find it satisfactory?’

‘Very, sir.’

Captain Charteris turned away. ‘That’s all, I think, Raymond,’ he said,
and led the way up the fore-hatch.

‘Ship’s company, ’shun!’ ordered Seagrave, as the two officers passed
down the line on their way aft, the Captain quietly scanning the faces
and pausing now and again to ask a question as to what boats a certain
man had served in, when he had received his medal ribbon, or how long
he had been in submarines.

At the gang-plank, where the coxswain was waiting with his pipe ready,
he issued judgment. ‘Not at all bad, Raymond,’ he said quietly. ‘I’m
coming aboard some day to see dummy shots fired without the cross

‘Very good, sir,’ said Raymond saluting, and Captain Charteris was
piped over the side.

As he crossed from boat to boat the trilling of the pipes was taken
up by each coxswain in turn as the crews came to attention and the
officers saluted, the boatswain’s mate at the _Parentis’s_ gangway
bringing the performance to a triumphant conclusion.

The quartermaster, the corporal of the watch, messengers, and sideboys
stiffened where they stood as he crossed the deck and went down the
starboard gangway to inspect the remaining five submarines.

Three-quarters of an hour later ‘pipe down,’ sounded by the juvenile
Marine bugler, informed all and sundry that the inspection was over.
The boats’ crews fell out, and such as were not wanted for immediate
duty trooped aboard the depot and down to the crowded mess-decks, while
the officers remained comparing notes and discussing the results of the

‘What made the “owner” so ratty, Johnson?’ asked Raymond, on his way
across to the _Parentis_.

The officer in question, who was captain of the boat lying between
Austin’s and Blake’s, shook his head sadly, and then burst out laughing.

‘It’s all UP with Little Willy, I’m afraid, unless he gets over it,
which I very much doubt. And everything was going so splendidly, too.’
He sighed heavily.

‘What was it, you blighter?’ cried Austin. ‘He came aboard my packet
in a state of fury, and I had to do my dirty damndest to smooth things

‘It wasn’t my fault, George. I couldn’t foresee it or I should have
taken jolly good care to prevent it. One of my stokers, whom I’m going
to hang to-morrow, by the way, is the proud possessor of a monkey. I
took particular care that the brute should be sent inboard before the
inspection, but you know what those ruddy things are, and somehow or
other it must have sneaked aboard again. It was hanging from a beam
under the torpedo-hatch, with part of an old ensign wrapped round its
head, and when the old man passed underneath on his way for’ard, it
dropped on his shoulders.’


‘That’s all.’

       *       *       *       *       *

Monday morning dawned dull and dismal. A steady downpour of thin
drizzling rain that wet through and chilled to the marrow did not
tend to brighten matters or relieve the gloom that had settled on the
coxswain as he surveyed the weather with the eye of a fatalist. The
hour of seven a.m. does not tend to hilarity.

‘This ruddy weather,’ he remarked to the unemotional landscape, ‘near
drives me to drink. Near drives me to drink, that’s wot it does.’

A cluster of sleepy-eyed figures clambering up from the mess-decks
caught his eye and gave him the opportunity he had been waiting for.

‘Come along now. Step lively,’ he growled. ‘Six bells struck five
minutes ago. Fall in ’ere and tow a line.’

The half-dozen seamen and stokers, clad in overalls, put out their
pipes and stumbled into some semblance of a line as the remainder of
‘123’s’ crew appeared from their various lairs and joined the unhappy
company. The E.R.A.’s carried on down to the boat to commence the day’s
labours, carefully picking their way between the demons wielding brooms
and the hose brandishers who were performing the early morning task of
‘scrub decks.’

‘Show a little life now,’ snapped the coxswain to his shivering
subordinates. ‘Form two deep. ’Shun. Right dress. Eyes front.
Stan’-at-ease. Are ye all ’ere?’ he continued, checking off the number
on his fingers. ‘No, we’re one short.’

‘Jevons ain’t ’ere,’ volunteered the second coxswain, inwardly cursing
the able seamen who kept him shivering in the rain.

‘I’m ’ere,’ cried a dishevelled figure hastily taking its place at the
end of the rear rank.

The coxswain surveyed him with a baleful glance.

‘A little more from you, my lad, and you’ll be spoke to. You turn out
late once more an’ I takes you before the first lieutenant. I’ve ’ad me
eye on you for some time.’

The seaman swallowed heavily. It was unwise to argue with the coxswain
in the still hours of the morning. Also his roving eye caught sight of
Seagrave, who was coming forward clad in oilskins and sea-boots and
pulling on a long pair of engine-room gloves.

‘T.’s crew, ’shun!’ cried the coxswain. ‘All present, sir.’

Seagrave gravely returned the salute and began telling off the men for
their various tasks, an extra pressure of work having necessitated an
early ‘turn to.’

‘Stokers carry on with the chief E.R.A.; T.I. and an S.T. on topping up
and wiping down. The water lighter’s alongside now and I’m coming down
to test the water, so don’t begin till I let you know. We’ll charge
afterwards. L.T.O. carry on with the volt-metre board. Remainder clean

The coxswain saluted.

‘T.’s crew. Carry on down to the boat. Jevons, you work with the T.I.

The weary band broke away and trooped down the ladder and across the
boats to where ‘123’ lay on the outside of the tier. The coxswain
produced a key of large proportions, and, unlocking the padlock on the
conning-tower hatch, disappeared below. Presently the other hatches
were opened from inside the boat, over which canvas shelters were
rigged to prevent the rain from ruining her internal complexion, and
the day’s work commenced.

Overnight a long black lighter, filled with carboys of distilled water,
had been towed alongside and made fast to the submarine, and now the
tarpaulin cover was hauled back and a long, flexible rubber tube passed
up out of the fore-hatch and its end dropped into one of the carboys.

Presently Seagrave appeared armed with a stick of nitrate of silver
with which he tested in turn the contents of each of the water-holders.
Two of them were found wanting, for they clouded under the operation,
and were condemned as unfit for use in the sensitive internals of a
battery, and when he had satisfied himself with the others he gave the
order to ‘carry on.’

With much labour the T.I. and Jevons filled the tube with sterilised
water and passed the free end across to the boat and down the
conning-tower hatch, the S.T. firmly grasping its extremity for fear of
wetting the sacred brasswork. The siphon thus formed was a labour-saver
of a large order and did away with the necessity of passing the water
below in buckets and perhaps rendering it dirty in the process. Down
below a sound of rasping and hammering came from the engine-room where
the E.R.A.s and stokers were effecting repairs, where there had been
‘a bit of a mess up aft, sir,’ and could be seen wielding spanners and
lumps of waste in a masterly manner. The L.T.O. was gravely attending
to the volt-metre board, whose vagaries had given trouble of late,
and the second coxswain was oiling the bearings of the hydroplane
and rudder shafts and generally making himself useful. The remaining
seamen were cleaning brass as if their lives depended on it, a state of
things that was liable to undergo a slight modification on Seagrave’s

‘’Ere, Sam,’ called the T.I., ‘give us a ’and with this deck-cloth,’
as that worthy paused on his round to wipe an oily brow.

Together they rolled back the canvas carpet, disclosing a solid rubber
covering bolted to the deck with iron battens, which on being raised
exposed a series of hatches beneath which was the for’ard battery. One
of these was then lifted and the operation of ‘topping up’ began.

Every three weeks or so, owing to the constant charging and discharging
and other reasons, the electrolyte in the cells, composed of sulphuric
acid and water, became used up and its level sank in the cells,
exposing the tops of the plates. These were no toy cells either. They
stood over four feet high and were placed in the bottom of the boat,
below the deck level, in two long lines strapped together with steel
plates painted red and blue, indicating positive and negative. The
process of topping up consisted of replenishing the water in the cells
until the level covered the plates, and was usually accompanied by that
of carefully wiping and cleaning the inter-cell connections, taking
the densities, and generally seeing that all was in order. An unhappy
seaman, clad in oilskin, was posted in the lighter to transfer his end
of the rubber tube to a fresh carboy as the first was emptied and the
work went merrily on. The T.I. was the mainspring of the business,
while the S.T. worked under his orders, shifting the tube from cell to
cell as necessary, and generally doing as he was told. He was there
to learn and he knew it. When two or three cells were finished, the
hatch was replaced and another lifted, and so on down one line and up
the other, by which time the battery was completed, several carboys had
been emptied, and eight bells had struck aboard the _Parentis_. ‘123,’
owing to a busy day, was carrying out a special routine, and the crew
trooped inboard to breakfast.

The rain had ceased but the prospect was still anything but cheery,
and even the funny man could not brighten the settled gloom that had
overcome the crew when work was restarted an hour later. The T.I. and
his satellites resumed their labours by tackling the after-battery, and
casting much criticism on the health of the cells and nature of the
battery in general. The gun-layer, assisted by the cook, overhauled his
gun, and the remainder continued their early morning tasks with more or
less signs of energy. It was not a cheerful morning.

By-and-by Seagrave came down, having polished off an excellent
breakfast and feeling at peace with the world, to examine the work in
hand and listen to the T.I.’s comments on his beloved batteries.

Another hour saw the topping up completed, and a waiting tug pounced on
the water-lighter and bore it away in triumph to its distant lair.

Boyd appeared just as the job was finished and began to overhaul the
gyro compass. While he cleaned contractors and filed transmitters he
burst into ragtime, which brought Seagrave aft with a pained and
virtuous expression on his face.

‘My God! Pilot,’ he said, ‘what a shine you’re kicking up. If you’d
been up since seven, like I have, you wouldn’t feel so cheery. Who
wouldn’t be a navigator?’

‘Work with a will and sing while you work,’ said Boyd. ‘Work never
killed the cat and I’m going to put in quite half an hour at it to-day.
Our hard-worked submarine officers at their daily toil.’

The Chief E.R.A., who was hovering in the offing, chose his opportunity
and plunged in.

‘Are you going to charge now, sir?’ he asked Seagrave. ‘We’re all ready
in the engine-room.’

‘Yes, yes,’ replied the ‘Sub.’ ‘We’ll have to do a gas-engine charge,
though. “147” has got the berth at the charging pier. We’ll start with
500 in the series until the densities rise to twelve twenty-five and
then give her two-fifty in parallel. Starboard Engine!’

‘Ay, ay, sir,’ and Hoskins disappeared into his engine-room.

The L.T.O. made the grouper switch and then started the starboard
motor, and with the engine-clutch in the Diesel was heaved over until
she fired and the engine got away by herself. The process was much the
same as cranking up a motor-car, and as the revolutions increased the
needle on the ammeter, which had shown discharging at first, worked
slowly back, past zero and on to charging, and, after a deal of
flickering, finally steadied at five hundred amperes.

The L.T.O. was to look after the charge under Seagrave’s orders, and
the T.I. and his minion decamped to attend to the internals of a
torpedo that some one had been rude to.

Every hour Furness made the sounds of the pilot-cells with a squeeze
bulb--an instrument rather like a fountain-pen filler--with which he
sucked up a small portion of the electrolyte and was able to read the
densities. Slowly they rose until by noon, with the temperatures at
about 50 deg. fahrenheit, the batteries stood at twelve twenty-five
and the charge was broken. The sound of the engines died away and the
L.T.O. stopped the motor. Then over came the grouper-switch to put
the batteries in parallel, the motor was re-started, and in less than
a minute the charge was under weigh again. The whole operation was
identical with that of starting the engines at sea, the only difference
being that the tail clutches were out, so that the propeller was
disconnected from the shaft; also when the engines are propelling the
ship the motor-switches are broken when once the Diesel is under weigh.

About three in the afternoon, when the entries on the charging sheet
began to look formidable, and the charge was nearing completion,
Raymond came down to have a look-see, and satisfy himself that all was
in order. He and Seagrave conferred for a few minutes on the ‘care and
maintenance’ of secondary batteries, and then the skipper turned to
the voltmeter.

‘Voltage 2.5. Yes, that’s all right. Densities 1248 and 1250.
Temperatures 80 deg. and 82 deg. Um, yes. I think we’ll break the

‘Break the charge, Hoskins,’ said Seagrave, waving towards the

‘Ay, ay, sir,’ came the answer.

The engine stopped and the L.T.O. snipped the switches over. In the
engine-room the stokers were bending over the silent Diesel, and
Hoskins began to square up the tools of his trade. For’ard the T.I.
and the redoubtable Jevons were replacing their long-suffering torpedo
in its tube, and the coxswain, with puckered brow and the stump of a
pencil, was breathing heavily while he wrote up the log. The brass
rags were being packed up and stowed away, the oil-cans replaced, and
the hatches closed. One by one the men foraged for their caps and
went up on deck. The T.I. began turning the lights out. Work was over
for the day. The two officers were the last to go on deck, and then
the coxswain locked up the boat and followed in the wake of his men.
There were kippers for tea in the Petty Officer’s mess, and he was
late already. It had been a trying and depressing day, and he walked
majestically abroad, feeling like the captain who has made port at last
when land had been forgotten.

Raymond paused by the gun on his way to the gang-plank.

‘Rotten little thing this,’ he said, pulling down a lever and opening
the breach. ‘Why the devil they can’t give us something decent, I’d
like to know.’

‘We ought to have a twelve-pounder on an anti-aircraft mounting,’
responded the ambitious Seagrave. ‘A measley six-pound pea-shooter like
that isn’t any earthly use. It’s ages since we’ve fired the thing, and
it’ll probably jump the mounting if we do. I can’t understand what
they’re thinking about, dumping that ruddy thing on us.’

Raymond smiled. The gun, quite handy and useful in its own way, was
Seagrave’s sore point and afforded a never-failing bite.

‘We shall have to write and tell ’em so, but I’m afraid they won’t take
any notice of us. Six-pounders you shall have, and six-pounders we get,
and they stick to us.

‘What I should really like would be a four-inch and a few eggs,[13] and
mine-dropping gear. Then we could do something. It’s sickening messing
about like this, looking for Fritz, who never comes out, or runs as
soon as he sees us. I’d like to see one of their Battle Cruisers come
across our patrol one day. We’d show ’em.’

Raymond smiled again.

And so to tea.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Officer of the Watch, one Meeks, Lieutenant R.N.R., slowly paced
the _Parentis’s_ quarter-deck, wrapped in the rig of the day, to
wit, a heavy gloom. The rain had ceased, but the sky was lowering and
overcast, and the wind had dropped some hours ago. The moon, struggling
gamely through the clouds, was the only saving clause to the situation.
An unpleasant day had given place to a damp and chilly night, and at
2.0 a.m. man is not at his brightest.

Turning over in his mind the events of the day, he recalled a long
vista of disappointing circumstances. At the outbreak of war, when the
Reserves had been called up, he had joined the colours flushed with the
thrill of patriotism that many know so well. He had seen himself doing
great things, at least doing well, and perhaps ultimately being turned
over into the Active Service and fulfilling a long cherished wish.
However, after concluding a gunnery course at Whale Island, and making
a good show in the examination, he had been sent here as watch-keeper
to a depot ship, a parent ship to submarines. At first he had liked the
life, but the novelty of his surroundings soon wore off, and he had
longed to be at sea again, where there was a chance of doing something.
He realised that watch-keepers in harbour ships were necessary, but
somehow had always imagined that it wouldn’t fall to his lot to fill
one of the billets. Two years of war had found him in the same ship,
and to-day he had applied for a transfer into one of the submarines
as navigator. The results had not been encouraging. The Captain had
told him quite kindly that he felt hardly justified in shifting him at
present. He knew what that meant. He hadn’t made a success of his work,
and was thought unfit for a boat. It was a bit hard, he considered. He
knew he didn’t take much interest in his job, but found it difficult to
do so when he saw so many others of his kind going to sea in boats and
apparently doing well. If only he could get a chance he felt sure he
would do well. But now....

He sighed heavily, and leant over the rail.

A side boy approached with a mug of steaming cocoa, his bare feet
making scarcely any sound on the wooden deck.

‘Will you ’ave this now, sir?’ he queried.

‘Yes, please, put it on the table.’

He moved across the quarter-deck to the table where lay the log and
signal pads, and gazed heavily at the dark blurs of the anchored Fleet.
The Corporal and Quartermaster of the Watch were talking in undertones
by the gangway. Then five bells struck, and the sound was echoed from
the neighbouring ships and died away in the distance.

The ship swung to the turn of the tide, and he went up to the bridge
and checked the position by shore-bearings, keeping a good eye on the
other vessels to see that they would swing clear. Up here a sleepy-eyed
signalman and two signal-boys were passing the time by restoring flags
to the lockers, and the night seemed very still and quiet.

Then a visit forward to the anchor watch and back to the quarter-deck
again, to continue the slow pacing up and down to keep the cold out.
He glanced at his watch and yawned. Nearly three o’clock. Only another
hour of it. Up and down the quarter-deck, up and down ... with the
knowledge that at any rate aboard each of the darkened and silent
vessels around him a comrade in distress was performing the same

A pattering of bare feet from the direction of the bridge, and a
signal-boy appeared, breathless.

‘Red light showing from the Flagship, sir,’ he reported.

Instantly the Lieutenant’s manner changed. The regrets of yesterday had
vanished. No need for quiet now.

‘Quartermaster!’ he shouted. ‘Hands to aircraft stations! Stand by

‘Ay, ay, sir,’ came the cheery answer, followed by the sound of a bugle
and the shrill twittering of the pipes.

‘’Aaaaands to--aircraft--stations!’ roared the boatswains’ mates
along the sleeping mess-decks. ‘Re--mai--ai--ai--nder stand byyy

The great ship turned over in her sleep, rubbed her eyes, shook
herself, and was awake. The sound of sharp orders and scurrying feet
told that men were tumbling up from the mess-decks in all states, dress
and undress. Up on the lower bridge Meeks was calling the Captain, who
came out wearing a bridge-coat and sea-boots over his pyjamas, while a
messenger was doing the same service for the First Lieutenant.

The guns’ crews manned the anti-aircraft guns; the fire-party fell in.
Hoses were rigged and buckets and sand collected, while those who had
no special duty to perform stood by their funk-holes in accordance with
orders. The duty coxswain was shepherding the boats’ crews into their
boats, the officers appeared and took their stations, and with much
swearing, shouting, and bad language the nine submarines pushed off
from their parent ship, to scatter and seek separate billets where they
would not provide such an easy mark to an aerial intruder. The last
boat was away with her full complement, and the _Parentis’s_ crew was
at stations. Ten minutes ago the ship had been peacefully sleeping and
the officer of the watch ruminating over a wasted career.

A messenger climbed to the bridge and approached the Captain.

‘From the First Lieutenant, sir,’ he said, saluting; ‘all boats away,
sir, and ship’s company at aircraft stations.’

‘Thank you,’ replied the Captain absently, scanning the heavens with
his night-glass.

A pause--silence and expectancy, but the silence of a multitude holding
its breath or of five hundred matlows trying to keep from cheering.

‘Lord,’ said the gun-layer of the six-pounder anti-aircraft, ‘where
the ’ell is she anyhow? Any of you blokes see ’er?’

‘There she is, Bill,’ cried the loader, pointing with a grimy
forefinger. ‘Between them clouds, right a’ead there.’

‘That ain’t haircraft,’ sneered a voice, ‘that’s a ruddy lump o’ smoke.
That’s wot that is.’

‘Silence in the battery,’ snapped a voice out of the darkness.

‘I don’t think it’s going to be anything serious,’ remarked the Captain
to the Gunnery Lieutenant. ‘They’ve probably been reported down the
coast, but I doubt if they’ll approach us in here.’

‘Shouldn’t think so, sir. Hardly worth while with so much high
explosive knocking about.’

Away in the distance Raymond was handling ‘123’ like a veteran. Nine
boats all shoving off at the same time are apt to get in one another’s
way, and when semi-darkness is added matters are not mended. Out of
the tangle he made his way, hurling an insult at a passing boat who
was talking about her tail in peevish tones, and steering for the open
water beyond.

‘Will you mind my tail?’ howled a raucous voice. ‘Where the hell are
you coming to. Put her astern. Oh, damn!’ ... and the voice broke off
in incoherences as another dim shape appeared across the bow, warbling
about her planes and calling curses on her telegraphs. ‘Go ahead, damn
you!’ yelled a voice; ‘are those telegraphs ringing or are they not.
Will you answer or----’ ‘Never mind, Willie.’ This from a cheery
tenor. ‘Mother likes the pattern. Shut up, you noisy blighter!’

‘123’ chuckled to herself as she freed from the jamb, and five minutes
later dropped her anchor between two mammoth Battleships. All round
them whisperings and subdued voices rose, another submarine passed
astern, and the rattle of her cable told that she too had found a
billet. Only a quarter of an hour ago and we were all asleep. Raymond
shivered and yawned miserably. ‘Damn the war, anyway.’

‘Doesn’t seem to be anything,’ quoth Captain Charteris to the ‘Guns.’
‘I don’t think we shall be worried to-night. Hallo!’

Boom! roared a gun from the shore battery. Overhead the land
searchlights sprang into being, ten of them, from all parts of the
horizon, centring on one spot, and flickering over the heavens in
search of the invader.

‘Warning gun. Hands to funk-holes,’ said the First Lieutenant.

Again the bugle and the roaring of the boatswains’ mates. ‘’Aaaands

Down below the men who had no particular duty at aircraft stations,
which is very different to general quarters, dived down into their
various burrows, albeit much against their will.

A burly figure loomed out of the darkness.

‘Mess-decks cleared, sir. Hands in their funk-holes.’

‘All right,’ said the First Lieutenant. ‘Thank you.’

The searchlights swept overhead, wavered a little, and steadied over
the land.

Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat. Boom! Bang! Phit from the land batteries down the
coast. Still no sign of the intruder to be seen from the Fleet. A whirr
and a rush of motors and a seaplane whizzed past, soaring up and over
on the look-out for the enemy. Away to the south’ard others could be
seen wheeling and crossing high up in the glare of the searchlights.
Suddenly the roar of the shore batteries ceased. Phit-phit-phit-phit
came faintly in the distance from the sea-planes, as the mitrailleuses
were discharged at the invisible foe.

Then, through a break in the clouds, into the full glare of the
searchlights, swung the majestic Zeppelin. Calmly and sedately she
floated, apparently unmindful of the danger, though her crew were
working like madmen to get her out of the perilous area. Away above
her a tiny speck was visible, wheeling and circling like a gull in a
gale of wind. A mighty flash and a roar showed where the German had
dropped a bomb over the batteries, but still there was no order from
the Flagship, and the Fleet watched and waited in silence. The shore
guns had ceased firing now, and up above rode that great airship as if
despising the puny craft who pitted themselves against her.

Then ... a tiny flicker of flame was seen at one end of the Zeppelin,
licking and hissing round the gas-bag as it spread from end to end.

‘’It, by God!’ yelled a Petty Officer in a strident voice.

A sound of hoarse cheering broke from a ship at the end of the line,
was caught up and carried down the harbour as ship after ship broke
into one wild roar of jubilation. The airship was crashing down nose
first, aflame from end to end. Like a streak of blinding light she lit
up the harbour, the ships, and the upturned faces as she rushed to her
destruction. Down over the land she fell, and the cheering swelled into
a mighty roar as she disappeared over the shoulder of a hill. Only the
sickly glare in the sky told where she was burning to death, she ...
and all she had contained.

As the yells of applause subsided, an answering cheer was wafted from
the batteries ashore, and once more the Fleet burst into a thunder
of appreciation. Then from the Flagship high up a red light, slowly
winking and blinking in an urgent order, and the sound wavered, died
away, and finally ceased altogether.

‘Flag-General, return stores, sir,’ said the First Lieutenant to
Captain Charteris.

The Captain nodded. ‘All right. Carry on,’ he said, and went back
to his cabin as the vocalists broke out into a long-drawn chant of:
‘Retur-ur-ur-n Stor-or-or-es.’

Another rush of feet as boxes and branch-pipes were replaced, buckets
stowed away, and sandboxes covered. The guns were secured and the
crews fell out, while the ammunition parties returned the shell and
cartridges and closed the magazines.

The submarines had picked up the signal, too, and hove in their cables
with prayers of gratitude that they might now continue their broken
night’s rest. One by one they came back out of the darkness and dropped
alongside the _Parentis_. A shape would appear, dimly seen in the
waning moonlight. Somewhere a raucous voice would hail, and back would
come the answer, ‘123’ or ‘146,’ as the case might be.

‘Answer’s “146,” sir,’ a voice would say, and the hailing would
continue until finally all boats had returned and made fast in their
accustomed berths.

Overhead the purr of a high-power motor, followed by another and
another, told that the seaplanes, their work completed, were returning
to their distant aerodrome, and another burst of cheering greeted their

‘By God,’ said a bearded gun-layer, gazing after them wistfully. ‘Lucky
dogs, them blokes. See all the scrappin’ like. And we didn’t ’ave a
ruddy shot. Not one, we didn’t.’

‘All boats returned and made fast alongside, sir,’ reported the First
Lieutenant, knocking at the Captain’s door.

‘Pipe down, please,’ called Captain Charteris. ‘And good-night, Martin.’

‘Good-night, sir.’

Then the voices broke out again as the men fell out, and the boats’
crews came up over the side. Down below they trooped in knots and
bunches until only the officers remained. For’ard a gunner was
encouraging a three-pounder whose breach-block had turned peevish;
on the quarter-deck the boat captains were comparing notes of their
manœuvres and laughing over the experiences of the night.

By-and-by they had all gone below and were sitting in cabins, on each
other’s bunks and tables, talking at the top of their voices and
laughing over their misadventures.

The noise subsided and the lights went out in cabins and mess-decks.
Silence settled down once more, and the ship was again in the
possession of the watch-keepers.

The moon had gone in and it was quite dark by now, save for that yellow
glare, gradually fading and dying down, where the Zeppelin had met her
ghastly death.

The officer of the watch continued his pacing up and down, and once
more fell into a reflective mood.

‘Oh, well. Life wasn’t so awful after all. Might be worse. Those poor
beggars in the airship must have had a rotten two or three minutes.
Perhaps if I try again I may get a boat after all. The show went off
all right to-night. Skipper couldn’t grumble, anyway. Think I’ll wait a
month and then have another shot.’

He glanced at his watch.

‘Five minutes to four. That’s one way of passing a middle watch at any
rate. Can’t reckon on it every night, though.’

He yawned wearily and turned up the collar of his coat.

Over the crest of the hill the glare of the dying Zeppelin wavered a
little, faded, flickered, and went out.




                A ship once came to Plymouth Hoe.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away, my bullies.
                A ship once came to Plymouth Hoe,
                And they furled her sails in a harbour stow,
                ’Ere they sent them down and the yards also.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away for Plymouth.


                They lashed her gear and hove her keel.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away, my bullies.
                They lashed her gear and hove her keel,
                And scraped and painted her as taut as steel.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away for Plymouth.


                They eased her up when she was done.
    (_Chorus_)    Heave away, my bullies.
                They eased her up when she was done,
                And they polished her white from truck to gun,
                Till she shone like glass in the morning sun.
    (_Chorus_)    Heave away for Plymouth.


                Their paint came from the Dockyard Store.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away, my bullies.
                Their paint came from the Dockyard Store,
                And they got their whack and they got no more,
                For that’s the essence of the Navy Law,
                Your due’s a gallon and you won’t get four,
                A thing that they can’t understand ashore.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away from Plymouth.


                And more ships came and did the same.
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away for Plymouth.
                And more ships came and did the same,
                And earned their money at the re-fit game,
                ‘Survey and Demand’ is its modern name,
                To which the Navy owes a deal of fame,
                For the Dock gives life to the ship that’s lame,
                And fire to the guns which appear so tame,
                But which belch out Death with a blasting flame,
                And the Huns may curse but THEY’RE to blame,
    (_Chorus_)      Heave away for Plymouth;
                      Heave away, Heave away
                    Heave away for Plymouth.


    ‘When the ship that is tired returneth
    With the signs of the sea showing plain,
    Men place her in Dock for a season,
    And her speed she reneweth again.’

    _Laws of the Navy._

Carruthers, the Senior Submarine Officer and Captain of ‘146’ entered
the Mess with the stealthy air of an assassin.

‘Show me that varlet, Raymond,’ he declaimed. ‘Produce him that I may
mete out to him the full measure of his punishments.’

‘What’s the row, James?’ asked a voice from the depths of an arm-chair.

‘Ha, knave, thou dost flout me. Twelve long years have I sought thee,
and now ... aha! The Captain desires speech with thee, even in his own

‘Good Heavens! Whatever’s up? Surely to goodness he hasn’t got to know
about my bumping into Blake last night. I only scratched the paint, and
a bally wonder, too, considering the mess up of boats there was.’

‘I’ll tell you what it is, my boy, at a price.’

‘No. I’m darned if you do. I’ll know all about it soon enough,’
replied Raymond, as he made for the door.

‘Think twice, laddie, think twice,’ called Carruthers after his
retreating figure. ‘A time will come when you will repent your

As he knocked at the Captain’s door, Raymond wondered what it was all
about. He couldn’t remember whether....

‘Come in,’ called a voice. ‘Oh, that you, Raymond? Sit down. A telegram
has just come from the Senior Naval Officer at Darlton. He says that
the dry-dock will be vacant in a week’s time for the space of a month,
but if I don’t make use of this opportunity he can’t guarantee it again
until September. It’s earlier than I intended, but as I can’t afford to
lose this chance I shall send you down to get your re-fit over and done
with, as you’re next on turn. You’ll leave here at three p.m. on Friday
and arrive Saturday morning.’

‘Re-fit!’ Raymond showed his surprise in spite of himself. A vista
of living in hotels swam before his eyes. A week’s leave during the
summer, a break in the monotony. Lots of work about a re-fit, of
course, but....

The Captain was still speaking.

‘I’m sorry I can’t give you longer notice, Raymond, but I mustn’t let
this opportunity slip. You’ve got your defect list made out up to date,
of course.’

‘Yes, sir. I’m all ready as far as that goes. How long do they expect
to take over it.’

‘Well, as it’s your twelve-monthly re-fit, I expect about five or
six weeks. It all depends on whether labour is to be had, of course.
Nowadays one never knows. That’s settled, then. Your escort will be
arranged for, and you’ll leave at three p.m. on Friday unless I get any
further orders.’

‘Very good, sir,’ said Raymond, rising, ‘and thank you, sir.’

‘Don’t thank me, Raymond. I wouldn’t let you go if I could help it. Far
too valuable these hard times.’

The captain of ‘123’ closed the door quietly, and two minutes later was
back in the ward room.

‘Carruthers, you worm,’ he said reproachfully, ‘you knew it all the
time. Now I’ve got to pay you your price in any case, you usurious Jew.’

‘What is it?’ chipped in Austin. ‘Are you to be keelhauled at dawn?’

‘No fear; re-fit.’


‘Re-fit. R-E-F-I-T. Re-fit.’

Austin sank back in his chair and mopped a fevered brow.

‘He talks of re-fits,’ he babbled incoherently. ‘Here are we working
our fingers to the bone and running risks of hideous deaths daily, and
the stripling talks of re-fits.’

‘Well, I suppose he’s doing the decent anyway,’ said the practical
Johnson, getting up and ringing the bell.

‘I imagine I’ll have to,’ laughed Raymond, ‘hard as it is on the
missus and the kids. See, how many is it? Five, six, eight cocktails,
please, waiter.’

Carruthers raised his glass with elaborate dignity.

‘I drink more in pity than in friendship to the knave who refused his
just recompense to the bearer of glad tidings. In other words, here’s

‘Cheer-oh, my little ray of sunshine,’ cried the Torpedo Lieutenant.
‘What my most backward pupil in the noble art of work will do when he
is torn from my tender care I tremble to contemplate, but be of good
heart. Bertie will await your return to the fold and amply make up for
the lost time, Naughty, now,’ he added, ducking swiftly as a chit-block
sizzed over his head. ‘Remember me to all the Hieland lasses and gae
canny wi’ the whuskey.’

‘You lucky bounder,’ said Austin. ‘Just imagine it. I did my re-fit in
the depths of winter and had a positively loathsome leave. You’ll just
come in for the best time in the year.’

‘You might do a little commission for me on your way down,’ put in the
Staff Paymaster. ‘I’ve got a parcel I want taken home. Too big for the
post, and I live in Darlton.’

‘Me, too,’ said the Fleet Surgeon plaintively. ‘And it’s only such a
little one.’

‘And get me some decent soft collars while you’re down there,’ cried
the Engineer Commander. ‘My wretched things are worn to shreds.’

‘Here, steady on now, you chaps,’ laughed Raymond. ‘I’m not going till
Friday. I’ll make a list of all your wants and do my best.’

‘Well, if you will go back to civilisation in this positively
disgusting manner,’ said Carruthers, ‘you must expect the inevitable
result. Hallo, here’s Seagrave.’

‘Come in, my little man,’ cooed the Torpedo Lieutenant gaily. ‘And
Boyd, too; this is a pleasure to be sure. Ring the bell nicely and ask
the pretty gentlemen what they’ll have.’

The new-comers blinked in astonishment.

‘What is it, sir?’ asked Seagrave. ‘It’s not my birthday nor Boyd’s
either, as far as I know.’

‘No, no, my boy; but you’re going down for a re-fit. Just think of it
and all it means.’

‘What! a re-fit. When?’

‘Friday next,’ said Raymond.

‘Good Heavens! what luck,’ cried Boyd. ‘My brother home on leave, too.
Good bally business.’

‘Talking about leave, my friend,’ persisted Torps, ‘what are we all
going to have?’

Seagrave rang the bell.

       *       *       *       *       *

Aft, on the port side of the _Parentis_, was a cabin, and in the
cabin was a table. On the table was a large pile of books, sheets of
foolscap, and mysterious forms labelled, S ‘134d,’ S ‘0196,’ etc.
Close to the table was a chair, and on the chair sat an officer,
with puckered brow and a fed-up expression on his face. The face was

Enter Seagrave with a harassed look and a further bundle of papers.

‘Well, what is it now?’ queried the seated one wearily. ‘Oh, it’s you
again, is it? Go ahead.’

‘Additions to the defect list. Only a few. And I’ve brought the list of
alterations at the same time.’

‘Oh, have you; that’s cheery news. Great Scott! Is this what you
call a few? The list’s a fathom long as it is. Here, let’s have a
look. Hydroplane gear to be overhauled; steering gear overhauled and
adjusted; new ventilator fans. Any one would imagine the boat was
dropping to pieces. This is going to be “some” defect note, let me tell
you. The alteration list isn’t very huge, however. Bridge enlarged,
stanchions fitted, hum. All tanks are down to be tested, of course, and
air bottles as well. Engines stripped. Hum. Give me that pink sheet.
And ahead we go on the defect note. The alteration list I’ll let you
copy out if you’re good. Now, as to demand notes?’

‘The coxswain’s got all his made out, and Hoskins is doing his lot now.
Then there’ll be a good deal of stuff on survey and demand. Flags,
shackles, looking-glass, clock, wire, and other things like that. Then
Boyd wants some “Sperry” spares, and I think that’s the lot.’

‘And that’s a bit o’ luck,’ the Lieut.-Commander said grimly, as
Seagrave took himself off. ‘Thank God for small mercies!’

As he himself put it, it was ‘some’ task. When a submarine goes
through her annual re-fit every item in the boat from the ballast
tanks and engines to the knives and forks is taken out, if possible,
overhauled, tested, and replaced. Long lists have to be prepared and
signed or nothing can be done, and woe betide he who gets on the wrong
side of the Naval Store Officer in the process.

Such things as awnings, flags, brooms, and other permanent stores that
are desired to be renewed, must be entered on a mystic form printed in
red and known as a ‘survey’ note, and are filled in also on a second
form printed in funereal black, which is called a ‘demand’ note or
hope-you-may-get-it chit. Should the state of the decayed articles be
sufficiently decrepit to satisfy the N.S.O.[14] the demand note is
produced in triumph, and new articles are issued and borne away as
captives to the boat by hoary-headed and deceiving matlows.

Such requisites as paint, rope, yarn, etc., which are known as
‘consumable stores,’ need only be filled in on the ‘demand’ note. But
here again the demander must be wary. A printed form is issued to him
stating clearly exactly to how much of each commodity his class of
vessel is entitled, and an avenging fate overtakes the luckless wight
who demands, by accident or design, more than his prescribed allowance.
Should he escape these pitfalls, another horror still rises to baulk
him. Articles under sub-head ‘A’ must not be named on the same sheet as
those under sub-heads ‘B,’ ‘C,’ ‘D,’ ‘E,’ or ‘F,’ and every form must
be countersigned by the commanding officer to the effect that he is not
attempting to get more than his due from rapacious Dockyard. Also the
‘reason for demand’ must be given, either ‘to complete’ (Establishment)
or ‘in lieu’ (of old worn out).

The coxswain needs paint, rope, oil, tar, flags, bunting, awnings,
yarn, spikes, and a host of other things. The needs of the engine-room
are enormous, the electrical staff clamours for insulating tape, lamp
globes, fuses by dozens, and wire by the hundred feet. The torpedo
accessories raise up their heads and gibber, and the batteries, the
life and soul of the boat, shriek to be cleaned and washed and fed. But
cold and incisive as the voice of doom, ‘Articles under sub-head “A”
must not be named on the same sheet as these under sub-head “B.”’ And,
‘Establishment list for submarines “O” class.’

The defect note is finished at last and assumes huge proportions.
Pink and blushing as it well may be, it begins with the lifting of
the batteries and the overhauling of the cells, wanders through the
stripping of the engines, the testing of the tanks, and the dry-docking
of the boat, and comes to rest at last with the painting of the
internal economy and the re-fitting of certain shelves (they were
never there before) on which the captain wishes to place his boots
presumably, on his return to sea.

The alteration list is a quick breath of hope from a fervent heart yet
sick with longing. But here again Admiralty steps in and allows or not,
as the case may be, the placing of the wine locker above or under the
chest of drawers, as the case may or may not be again. Won’t she want
painting by the time it’s all finished.

The ‘Demand’ notes are made out in triplicate and signed to the bitter
end. The ‘Survey and Demand Notes’ are made out in quadruplicate, but
mercy of mercies, only one need be signed by the long-suffering captain
of the boat. The stacks of paper rise, and rise, and blow away, and
are picked up and blow away again. But at last they are finished, and
thanks to them and the brains that conceived them, when the submarine
gets to work, her re-fit will run like clockwork and no hitch will
occur despite the multiplicity and diversity of the trades and workmen
who will be employed upon her. Youth scoffs in its ignorance at the
filling in of forms, but age and wisdom walk hand in hand and bow to
the minds that ordained these things, having seen the results and gone
away ... marvelling. For the results are good, and good is good all the
world over, and no man but a sniveller can expect any better praise.
But Admiralty expects no praise at all, for she is very old and very
very wise, and knowing, winks one eye and smiles.

So the maze of papers straightens itself out, gives a shake, nears
completion, and lo, the preparations _are_ completed. Three days gone,
and on the fourth ‘123’ can hurry down to Darlton, with the assurance
that whatever else happens _her_ re-fit will go smoothly enough.
Nothing can interfere with that, for her paper-work is complete and all
in order, and things will move.

No rush, no hurry, but a steady marching to an appointed end. Small
things, but the outcome of hundreds of years of experience and waiting,
and the results have been, and are being, felt all the world over.

As Raymond signed the last chit and sealed the final envelope he
heaved a sigh of relief. The last form was filled and despatched and
all was ready for the morrow. The ward room made merry over the event
and several guests were invited to dinner, among whom was Clinton, the
captain of H.M. Destroyer _Master_, who was to escort ‘123’ down to

After dinner the Destroyer man wandered down to Raymond’s cabin and the
two sat over their charts discussing plans for the morrow.

‘Here we are,’ said Raymond, referring to his orders. ‘We leave at 3.0
p.m. It’ll be dark by then and we’ve got to anchor for the night. God
knows why. Get under weigh again at four in the morning on Saturday,
and arrive about four in the afternoon.’

‘Yes, that looks all right. What speed are you going to do?’

‘Ten knots steady.’

‘Then I’ll do about twenty-two zig-zag and keep ahead of you. You’ll
have to steer a straight course, I suppose.’

‘Yes, and if we see anything I shall dive at once. Don’t you worry
about me. You probably won’t be able to see me, but I shall look out
for myself and help you all I can if you have to put up a scrap.’

‘All right. You’ve got a copy of the secret signals for entering

‘Yes, and they know we’re coming at every signal station down the

‘No anchor lights, by the way.’

‘Rotten job this escorting business when it’s a submarine. Every one
suspects ’em, friend and foe alike. I expect there are patrols about
there at night, and that’s why we’ve got to anchor.’

‘Expect so. Anyway it’s not very far, only about 180 miles. How long
are you stopping in Darlton?’

‘I’m not. Got to return on Sunday. Rotten job escorting anyway. Had
quite a lot of it lately. Hate it.’

‘Well, that’s all arranged for, and now--yes, I think so,’ and together
they returned to the ward-room and rejoined the revellers.

The Engineering Commander was making a speech.

‘----most auspicious occasion,’ he was saying as they opened the door.
‘We are all heartily glad that our young friends are leaving us.’
(Hear, hear.) ‘In fact, I dare venture to say that there is not a
single dissentient voice.’ (Cries of ‘No, no.’) ‘But a time will come
when they will be seen once more in our midst.’ (Question.) ‘Will be
seen once more in our midst, to the sorrow of the Hun and delight of
the Deputy Naval Store Officer down at Darlton.’ (‘Yes, yes.’) ‘Do
not despair; it is not a British custom. We must hope for the best.
I trust you will all join me in speeding the departing nuisance and
drink damnation to “123,”’ and the orator subsided amidst thunders of

The Torpedo Lieutenant rose, calm and dignified, and eyed the members
of the ward room with a dissatisfied air.

‘Mr President, gentleman, and officers of “123.”’ (Roars of
appreciation.) ‘It is with heartfelt satisfaction that I rise on the
occasion, or rather to the occasion, of my young pupil’s departure. We
all know Raymond; he has been long amongst us.’ (Loud and prolonged
groans.) ‘We know him well; we know his shortcomings.’ (‘We do, we
do.’) ‘It is my painful duty to inform you that he is one my most
backward pupils in the art of work.’ (‘He is, he is.’) ‘Nevertheless
he is improving.’ (‘No, no.’) ‘Now, all my efforts are like to be set
at naught.’ (‘Yes, yes.’) ‘But we must not give in.’ (‘Never.’) ‘We
must back one another up. We must coalesce; we must unite; and on
his return we must make a determined and extended effort to save him
from himself.’ (‘We will, we will.’) ‘We must stand back to back. We
must keep on hitting. In the words of the immortal Captain Smith of
_Titanic_ fame, we must “Be British.”’

Raymond rose to reply.

‘Mr President, Gentlemen, I hope and trust that during my temporary
absence you will conduct yourselves as little like officers and as
much like gentlemen as you can, without causing yourselves any great
personal inconvenience. Glad as I am to leave you, my heart bleeds when
I try to imagine your dilemma when bereft of my restraining influence.
You are a lot of rotters.’ (‘No, no.’) ‘You are a lot of rotters,
to whom I wish bad weather and flat beer, and don’t forget that if
you increase with your motors in series, you increase on the one you
haven’t increased on before you increase on the one that you have.
Think it out well and dream about it. I will endeavour to execute your
commissions.’ (‘Hear, hear, hear.’) ‘Little as I wish to.’ (‘Oh, oh.’)
‘With the greatest pleasure in the world we part brass rags at 3.0 p.m.
to-morrow.’ (Cheers.)

Then the ward room broke loose, and an obstacle race was organised,
much to the detriment of the furniture, and after Blake had given a
juggling turn the visitors were called on for a side-show.

After much whispering and preparation, during which time the whisky was
circulated, it materialised in the form of a charade in which a Jew,
organ-grinder, a beauteous damsel, and a gentleman with a green nose
were the leading lights.

Then Hackensmidt and Madrali (Carruthers and Johnson) wrestled for the
world’s championship of ‘caught-as-caught-couldn’t’ wrestling, the
result of which was that a gasping Johnson lay on the flat of his back,
knocking feebly on the deck, what time an empurpled Carruthers kneaded
him in the chest. Visitors and hosts alike arose and fell on them.

The rugger scrum which ensued was a huge success, though the ball
(somebody’s Nautical Tables) suffered rather in the process. Then the
piano got going, and as eleven o’clock struck came the chorus of:--

    ‘A German officer crossed the Rhine,
      Skibye, Skiboo!’

hammered out by the lungs of the united ward room.

Then the party broke up and the visitors departed. Farewells and
‘good lucks’ were exchanged, and the ward room servants locked up the
darkened quarters. ‘123’ was off to-morrow, and her captain was rather

       *       *       *       *       *

At three p.m. the following afternoon H.M.S. _Master_ hoisted the
signal ‘M.K.,’ requesting from the Flag permission to proceed in
execution of previous orders. Hardly had the flags reached the yard-arm
when an answering splash of colour (red with a white cross) rewarded
the efforts of the hawk-eyed signalman.

‘Signal affirmed, sir,’ he reported, and as the _Master’s_ anchor came
up into the pipe the Church Pennant fluttered to the deck, and, turning
on her heel with a white threshing of water, she came ahead and made
for the harbour entrance.

Behind her was ‘123,’ who had left the _Parentis’s_ side some ten
minutes before. Her Diesels had just started, and the oily smoke of
the exhaust was thinning away astern as she fell into line behind her
escort. She was on passage now, and her routine was rather different
from that of the regular patrol work. On the bridge were Raymond, Boyd,
the coxswain, and the look-out. By-and-by when clear of the land the
officers could take regular watches and drop into the order of ordinary
surface ships.

Nevertheless, she was in diving trim, and only needed to flood main
ballast to take her under in case of necessity. Down below she looked
like a veritable warehouse. Most of the officers’ luggage was going
down in the escort, but bags and portmanteaux that were likely to be
needed _en route_, or immediately on arrival, were stowed below, and
the crew’s bags and hammocks were piled up in the fore-end, a mighty
heap of belongings which had had to be compensated for when trimming
the boat for diving.

As they steamed out of the harbour, the submarine and her greatest
enemy, there were many envious glances cast at the boat that was
going down for her re-fit. ‘Lucky dogs,’ quoth a watch-keeper in a
battleship, as they cleared her counter.[15] ‘Re-fit and leave. I
haven’t had any for years.’

Outside the harbour and clear of the defences Boyd put her on her
southerly course, and the log was streamed. Not a log that tows astern
like that of a surface ship, but a long cylindrical tube carrying vanes
at its lower end, which is lowered through a hole in the bottom of
the boat and packed to prevent leakage. The Destroyer shot ahead at
her twenty knots (it was nothing to her, as she was one of the latest
class, and capable of a good deal more) and began her zig-zag.

‘123’ had perforce to keep a straight course, while the _Master_
steamed about a mile ahead of her and dashed across the bows in her
efforts to reduce her twenty knots to ten.

She was doing a twelve points zig-zag now, six points to starboard of
the course and then six points to port, while ‘123’ ambled along behind
at her steady ten straight. It was a good illustration of the hare and
the tortoise, though if you had told Raymond so he would have brained
you on the spot.

At four o’clock the captain went below, and he and Seagrave had tea
behind the green curtains and discussed the coming prospects of re-fit.
So far the weather was beautiful and the sea like a mill-pond, and
after the meal Seagrave got a deck-chair up the fore-hatch and sat on
the superstructure with a magazine. Raymond was dozing down below, in
spite of the strains of a wheezy accordion that came from the region
of the engine-room, and Boyd, the helmsman, and the look-out were in
charge of the bridge. Most of the crew who were off were sleeping
too. This was a passage, not a business patrol, and though they were
prepared if anything should arise they were not looking for trouble
this time. The Destroyer continued her erratic dashings across the
bow, men came up for a smoke or to point out landmarks on the coast to
one another, and dinner-time came and went. About half-past eight a
distant smudge of smoke took shape and hardened in the form of an armed
trawler who bore down upon them, fussily belligerent. _Master_ stopped
her gyrations and took steady station ahead, her yardarms eloquent
of her consort’s right to exist. But the trawler was persistent, and
closed them with her 6 pounder manned and every beam in her creaking
with suspicion. She challenged, was answered, still held on, and then
sullenly turned on her heel, a disappointed and disgusted trawler. Then
_Master_ drew ahead again, and as ‘123’ went by a boy in the trawler
waved his cap and shouted something. The sun set and twilight gave way
to darkness. The point of land ahead gathered itself out of the mist,
and a small light showed from the Destroyer’s stern. Then she steadied
ahead on a straight course again until just before ten o’clock, when
she put her helm a-starboard.

Raymond put his telegraph over and the ‘Klaxons’ hooted below.

‘Stop both,’ he said. ‘Not bad; just about reached Hunter’s Point by
ten o’clock. Stand by the weight. Group down.’

‘Both engine-clutches out, sir,’ came the messenger’s voice up the

‘Ay, ay. Astern both.’

A rattle from ahead told that the Destroyer had picked up her moorings,
and a moment later Raymond gave the order: ‘Stop both. Let go.’

A whirring of wire followed as the weight was released, and then the
messenger’s voice rose again.

‘Took bottom in 12 fathoms, sir.’

‘All right. Veer out to 36 fathoms.’

‘Thirty-six fathoms, sir. Brought up.’

Seagrave reappeared from the depths, and took on the anchor watch. He
and the look-out were to remain on till midnight, when Boyd and another
seaman would relieve them.

‘Have you started a charge yet?’ asked Raymond, as he prepared to go

‘Yes, sir. 600 in parallel.’

‘That’ll do. Tell Boyd we’re getting under weigh at four o’clock, and
if you see anything, she’s all ready for diving. Let me know at once,
but if anything starts firing or stunting about dive at once on the
weight, and we’ll cut the wire when we get down.’

‘Very good, sir. Good-night,’ and Seagrave was left to his own devices.

A dark night and a dead calm sea. Half a mile to the southward a black
smudge showed where the Destroyer was anchored and the western horizon
was filled with the low coast-line about three miles distant. Then
the moon rose and a vigilant look-out was necessary in case any enemy
raiders were on the prowl. Very still and silent, save for the lapping
of the water round the pressure hull and the sound of the engines and
the battery-fans that told that the charge was under weigh. Otherwise
the boat was ready for diving. Her hatches were closed save for the
conning-tower, and the compass-lid screwed down. The gyro repeater had
been sent below and all unnecessary gear stowed away.

The two vessels swung to their anchors, and the moon climbed higher and
higher, changing from red to orange and orange to silver as it cleared
the mists of the horizon. Midnight came at last, and with it came Boyd
who was to keep the middle watch.

‘Here we are, pilot,’ said Seagrave. ‘Pleased to see you. The lead’s
over aft. The _Master’s_ half a mile or so off bearing about 185 deg.,
and we’re ready for diving except for the charge. Skipper wants to be
called to get under weigh at four o’clock. Let him know if you see
anything, and dive on the weight if necessary. Got the challenge and
reply? Right then, that’s the lot. Cheer-oh.’

And he disappeared below to hot cocoa and Morpheus.

The look-out was relieved, and the vigil continued. The little
bridge was a weary place when ‘123’ was not under weigh, and time
passed very slowly. Boyd yawned miserably and climbed down on to the
superstructure, as it was calm enough to walk there without running the
risk of falling overboard.

But even here it wasn’t all it might be. One hit one’s head on the
jumping wires and stumbled over the closed after-hatch, and after a
while he returned to the bridge and the cold comfort of the little
stool screwed into the deck. The look-out was on the other side,
leaning up against the standard. He also was wishing the night would
pass and they could get on down to Darlton. Three o’clock; not so very
much longer....

And then suddenly they were both on the alert, staring out to starboard
where something was showing on the northern horizon.

‘Call the Captain,’ shouted Boyd down the hatch. ‘Break the charge and
shut off for diving. In tail-clutch and close battery ventilators.
Diving stations.’

In a moment the crew were awake and Raymond on the bridge rubbing his
eyes and peering out at the intruder. The Destroyer had seen her also,
and her cable was coming in hand over fist. The sound of the engines
died away, and a voice came up the hatch reporting that they were ‘shut
off for diving and tail-clutch in, sir.’

‘Flood 1,’ replied Raymond. ‘Stand by 2 and 3. Heave in the weight.’

‘Open No. 1 Kingston and No. 1 main vent,’ came Seagrave’s voice. Then,
‘1 full, sir.’

‘All right. Stand by to dive.’

‘Don’t think it’s much after all, sir,’ said Boyd. ‘Looks rather like a

It _was_ a tramp. An Admiralty collier on her way south for a fresh
cargo of black diamonds, and Raymond cursed his unlucky star that had
brought him out in the middle of the night for nothing.

‘’Vast heaving the weight,’ he cried. ‘Blow 1. Fall out diving

The tramp waddled by without seeing them (they were a very small mark
even in the moonlight), and never knew the excitement she had caused,
but her ears must have burned nevertheless.

‘I don’t think we need start the charge again,’ Raymond told the ‘Sub’
when he got below once more. ‘We’ll be getting under weigh in another

And so the remainder of the watch passed peacefully, and at four
o’clock Raymond was up once more and the weight anchor was hove in.

The Destroyer was awake also, and her cable brought up the dripping
anchor as ‘123’ was getting her engines ready. The compass was brought
up and everything prepared, and then the _Master’s_ screw began to
revolve and she swung round to her course.

Raymond leant down the hatch.

‘Engines 300 revs.,’ he shouted.

‘Three ’undrest, sir,’ floated up from below, and then away came the
Diesels and a cloud of petrol-filled exhaust swept over the bridge.
‘123’ gathered speed, and the vapour thinned away as Boyd steadied her
on her course. Then _Master_ drew ahead and began her zig-zag. A break
of a few hours and they were off again on their way to Darlton, the
present goal of the ‘ship’s company’s’ desires.

The dawn was struggling over the eastern sky and away to starboard
the land was showing up through the shadows. With the sunrise came a
cloud of trawlers, who hovered round until absolutely certain of the
submarine’s bona fides, and then fell away and pursued their lawful
business of Hun hunting. Farther south a patrol of three Destroyers
came up over the horizon, swept them with a searching glance, and
hurried on over the earth’s shoulder, following their patrol-track as a
sentry does his beat. After breakfast they fell in with a supply-ship
on her way to the Fleet, and later on passed a coastwise cargo-boat,
who turned on heel and ran till convinced by the _Master_ that ‘123’
was not a ‘U’ boat.

And so the day wore on, and the funny man cracked jokes and the
signalman played a mandoline in the after-compartment, and towards
three o’clock in the afternoon the smoke of Darlton was visible down
the coast.

The _Master_ slackened her speed and kept closer to her charge, her
signal halliards bristling with replies to challenges and evidences
of her innocent intentions, but the outer patrols who came out to
meet them still treated them as unwelcome guests, until something the
Destroyer said seemed to satisfy the senior ship, and the group of
trawlers fell away and _Master_ and her consort were allowed to pass on
without further interruption.

The inside trawlers gave way to them, and the boom was lowered in
answer to their request, and then the Destroyer at the gate woke up to
the fact that strangers were entering, and sprang to life waving her
semaphore and generally ‘doing things.’

‘_Master_ to proceed to No. 4 and 5 buoys,’ she ordered. ‘“123” to
proceed to inner harbour and make fast to quay opposite No. 2 Store.’

The escort swung away to her moorings, and ‘123’ held on to the inner
harbour, where a crowd of dockyard labourers was gathered to see her
pass. Raymond dropped her alongside and tied her up. Then he sent for

‘I’m going to report my arrival to the S.N.O.,[16]’ he told him. ‘You’d
better make arrangements for the crew’s accommodation in the submarine
barracks. There’s one in the dockyard somewhere. Boyd can get our
luggage off the escort and take the lot up to the Royal Hotel. We’ll
have to live there while we’re here. See everything squared up. I’ll
be back as soon as I can, but I don’t suppose we’ll dry dock till next

A red-haired lad on the quay turned to a dock-side loafer as he pointed
at the boat,--

‘Is yon what you ca’ a soobmarine?’ he inquired.

‘Ay, yon’s it.’

       *       *       *       *       *

Sunday, the day of rest, was by no means restful for ‘123.’ A deluge
of visitors poured into the boat, starting with the Chief Constructor
and Engineer Commander of the Dockyard, and ending with foremen fitters
and boilermakers and electricians. All these gentlemen appeared with
lengthy lists and copies of the defect notes, and most of them, most
certainly the Commander and the Constructor, seemed to be under the
fixed impression that the boat was captained by a demon in disguise
who was doing his dirty damnedest to get more done to her than was her
just allowance. Visits to the S.N.O. and Naval Store Officer took place
early in the day, and by noon the battery boards had been lifted by a
host of workmen, and the great cells were coming out, dangling on the
ends of tackles, to be gently lowered on to trucks and wheeled away to
the battery sheds. Later in the afternoon a small army attacked the
engine-room and began stripping the engines, while Hoskins and his
merry men danced attendance and shed salt tears of sorrow.

The first few days were bound to be strenuous. The torpedoes, gun, and
ammunition were all taken away and stowed in sheds and magazines, and
another group of workmen got to work on the superstructure, lifting the
condemned plates and generally making havoc and noise in the process.

Meanwhile, the crew were accommodated in the Naval Barracks, whence
they were shepherded to work each morning by the coxswain, and the
officers lived in hotels in the town. There was no thought of leave
just yet, as there was too much work to do, and on Monday morning the
boat was placed in dry dock.

As the water descended in the dock her underwater lines became visible,
and one was struck with their resemblance to the shape of a fish. The
tail, the fins, the head, all were there, and the holes in the bow-cap
looked like the two great goggle eyes of an underwater monster.

The re-fit was now in full swing. Both batteries were out in the sheds,
and Seagrave spent every spare minute he had in hovering over the cells
and expostulating with the electrical experts who were to overhaul
them. Meanwhile Raymond would be in the boat or visiting the powers
that be, and Boyd was usually to be found in the vicinity of the office
of that mighty man, the Naval Store Officer, for the greater part
of the day. There was not much for the crew to do. The engine-room
staff were helping the workmen in their department, and the electrical
experts were busy also, but the ordinary rank and file were employed
mostly in chipping paint and rust and cleaning up messes made by the
busier members of the staff.

At the end of the first week the engines were practically ashore,
the after superstructure had also been lifted, and the exhaust pipes
removed. Both batteries were out and all the air bottles had gone
ashore to be tested. Stages had been rigged round the boat, and men
were working on the bow-cap, which was to be lowered and overhauled,
and also on the rudders and hydroplanes which were being stripped down,
rebushed, and generally attended to.

The boat was in a state of ordered chaos by now, and it was almost
impossible to move in her below. Men seemed to be everywhere, all round
her and underneath her even, for the Kingston valves in the bottom of
the boat were being seen to and tested among other things. She lay in
the dry dock like a landed salmon, hammered at and struck by merciless
and persisting workmen who seemed to delight in tearing things to
pieces. The main motors were already receiving their due modicum of
attention, much to the distraction of the T.I., who spent most of his
day in the torpedo shed.

Finally, after about ten days of it, when the ballast tanks had been
cleaned out and painted (you had to crawl in through a tiny manhole to
get to them), the time for testing arrived, and Seagrave was allowed
to depart on his well-earned leave. The tanks were tested separately
by a water pressure, water being pumped in and left at the required
pressure for a stated interval. Then the tank was drained and opened
up, and Raymond and Hoskins, who was a man in great demand just now,
would crawl in clad in overalls and see that all was in order. The
main ballast tank, the trimming tanks, auxiliary and buoyancy tanks,
were all tested in this way, and even the fuel tanks had to go through
the same ordeal, though of a much less severe character. By the time
these tests were all satisfactorily finished, the re-fit was in its
third week, and matters were at their height. The battery tanks had
been cleaned out and were now being ‘rosmanited,’ or covered with a
preparation that resists the action of the acid, if any should be spilt
out of the cells. The bow-cap had been down and replaced, and the
rudders and hydroplanes were once more in position by the time Seagrave
returned from his ten days’ leave and Boyd was able to go away for his
spell. Raymond, poor wight, would be lucky if he could snatch a couple
of days just at the end of the performance.

The air bottles underwent their ordeal and were replaced singly, a
matter of much labour, and the engines began to return in pieces and
take shape and resemble their accustomed appearance. The bigger jobs
were over, and the boat was painted inside and out, and left the dry
dock after being a month out of the water. Then the battery began to
come back, and the cells were strapped together and the boards laid
down, and the internal appearance of the boat looked a little more
ship-shape. But there was still a host of minor things to be done.
Motors and rheostats were ashore, and had to be replaced and wired,
alterations were being made to the bridge, and the superstructure was
not yet in place. Presently Boyd returned from leave, and Raymond made
a dash to London only to be recalled three days later over a matter of
an alteration to the H.P. air line. The stores began to drift aboard
and the boat to look a little more like her old self, for they were
speeding things up now owing to urgent telegrams of recall to the
_Parentis_, and every one was working at fever heat.

The last stages were reached, however, when the painting party arrived
to beautify ‘123’s’ internals with white enamel, what time the
carpenters were putting up those shelves (on which one would imagine
the captain wanted to place his boots) and shifting the wine locker
from above to below the chest of drawers.

However, the messes were clearing up and the time of turmoil nearly at
an end; most of the crew had had a few days’ leave and the re-fit had
been satisfactory.

At the end of five weeks the boat was finished and nothing remained
but to take in fuel, torpedoes, gun, and ammunition, and carry out the
final engine and diving tests before returning to the welcoming bosom
of the _Parentis_.

A copy of the programme to be carried out in the way of tests was
submitted to, and approved by, the Senior Naval Officer, and the boat
took in her fuel and war machines without further delay. On the morrow
the engine trials were to take place, and the ship’s company paused and
drew breath before the final struggle.

At an early hour the following morning Seagrave left the hotel _en
route_ for the dockyard, and by eight o’clock ‘123’ had been tied up to
the quay-wall as if she were never intended to leave the all-embracing
docks of Darlton. The Engineer Commander and Raymond put in an
appearance by the time all was ready, and the worthy Hoskins and his
staff were very much in evidence. A final inspection and polish up were
made, and then the motors were started and the engine clutches forced

There was the usual fizz and bump as the exhausts coughed out the
initial clouds of white smoke and the explosions became quicker and
quicker. The port engine got well away, but after a manful effort
the chugging of the starboard Diesel wavered and dragged and stopped
altogether. ‘123’ had surged forward when the screws began to revolve,
and was tugging at her mooring ropes like a terrier on a lead, in spite
of the fact that only half her power was under weigh. But the ropes
held her, and presently Hoskins’s face appeared up the engine-room
hatch shouting an explanation through the din made by the well-behaved
port engine. After a couple of false starts, during which time the
Engineer Commander and the E.R.A. gravely combated over her behaviour
(blood brothers for the moment), the trouble was rectified, and the
defaulter made good her character. Full speed was slowly worked up
to, and the boat lay to the quay with her propellers turning at many
revolutions a minute.

Presently the Commander took himself off, and even Raymond was
satisfied when the worthy Hoskins, who held in great scorn all dockyard
work, pronounced that ‘though they ’aven’t done wot they ought to ’ave,
wot they ’ave done ain’t bad.’

The test took the greater part of the day, and it was arranged that the
diving trial should take place on the morrow. This would be the supreme
test, when all the work of the re-fit would be put to the proof, and
several of the dockyard officers and contractors’ people were to come
down in the boat to see it carried out. Raymond was rather pleased
about it, although he hated passengers, for, as he put it himself:
‘It brings it home to those beggars far more if they’re in the boat
when anything goes wrong than if we just come in and tell ’em about it

And so the next day the diving trials took place. The passengers were
aboard ten minutes before the scheduled time for leaving, and as the
hour struck, ‘123’ pushed off from the quay and steered out of the
harbour, at the entrance to which she was met by a trawler flying a
large red flag, who was to warn all outside traffic of the presence of
a submarine.

As a large number of alterations and additions had been effected
which were liable to alter her trim, the tanks were all empty, with
the exception of the fuel tanks, and she was to do a standing trim
in shallow water. That is, she was to remain stopped, flood her main
ballast, and then very gingerly admit the necessary extra water to take
her down.

Three miles outside the harbour she brought up in the appointed spot
and came to a standstill, the passengers were hurried below, and the
order given for ‘diving stations.’ Then Boyd and the coxswain climbed
down the conning-tower hatch, followed by Raymond, who, after closing
the lid, opened one of the scuttle guards and remained up in the tower.
From here he could see through the thick glass the trim of the boat
and the manner in which she was taking the water. Boyd was at the
periscope, and Seagrave was wandering all over the boat, superintending
and seeing that all was in readiness. The dockyard people, most of whom
had not been down in a submarine before, ‘stood round,’ looking rather
foolish. They were beginning to realise that their lives were in the
hands of the Lieut.-Commander they had been wont to beard in their own
fastnesses, and a sense of proportion was slowly dawning within them.
The crew were at their ordinary diving stations, and Seagrave reported
‘All ready, sir.’

‘Flood 1 and 4,’ said Raymond, and over came the Kingston levers,
and as the vents were opened the water could be heard gurgling into
the tanks. 2 and 3 were flooded in the same manner, and the boat was
in main ballast trim. Then the trimming tanks were partially filled,
and as the buoyancy flooded the boat began to have a tender feeling
as if she were on the tremble, and the water began lapping into the
superstructure overhead as she settled down.

‘How is she?’ asked the captain.

‘Two degrees by the stern, sir,’ replied the coxswain.

‘Another 500 in the fore, then,’ and five hundred gallons more were
admitted, when the coxswain reported ‘Horizontal, sir.’

‘Right. Eleven thousand in the auxiliary.’

The auxiliary vent was opened while a stoker hauled back the Kingston,
and Seagrave watched the gauge as the level crept up in the glass
tube. Presently he gave an order, and the lever was snapped back into

‘Eleven thousand, sir.’

‘All right,’ came Raymond’s voice from the conning-tower. ‘Is she
showing anything on the depth-gauge?’

‘Three feet, sir.’

‘Give her another five hundred.’

Meanwhile Boyd at the periscope was keeping a careful look out for
approaching craft. A collier in her way in came perilously close, but
the watchful trawler headed her off and led her out of harm’s way. As
the tanks flooded his sky view became less and less; as the instrument
was fully hoisted he could guess she was settling down before the gauge
began to register.

Finally, Raymond came down from the control room to see that all was as
it should be.

‘She’ll do now,’ he explained to the passengers. ‘She’s got all the
ballast she wants, and only needs a touch to take her down. We’re like
a bottle half-full of water--just on the bob, as it were.’ Another look
round and then: ‘Start the motors,’ he added ‘Full fields. Take her
down gently.’

The boat gave a slight shudder, and the sound of the water could be
heard lapping past her as she gathered weigh. The coxswains spun their
wheels, eyes on the gauge, and gradually she crept down to thirty feet.

‘Hold her at that,’ said Raymond, and then he and Seagrave and the
dockyard experts made a tour of the boat, while Boyd lowered the
periscope and kept an eye on the helmsman to see that he was on his
course. The inspection proved satisfactory (it was a lengthy business),
and the party returned to the control room, and Raymond ordered the
motors to be stopped and the boat was brought up to 18 feet.

‘All clear, Boyd?’ he asked.

‘All clear, sir. The trawler’s just astern.’

‘Right. Group up. Thirty feet.’

‘Grouped up, sir,’ from Furness, as the grouper-switch came over with a
bang and the motors got away in earnest.

The boat was doing a good eight knots now, and could be felt vibrating
through the water as the speed increased. All eyes were on the gauges,
the coxswains watching their depths and the L.T.O.s their ammeters
as Raymond increased to 800 amperes. Then once more the motors were
stopped and the batteries placed in parallel or ‘grouped down,’ and
then came the order,--

‘Eighty feet.’

As the hydroplane and diving rudder wheels went over, the visitors’
expressions became a little tense and anxious. One of them laughed and
cracked a stale joke, another fidgeted with a bunch of keys, but nobody
said anything.

That sense of proportion was developing.

The depth needle crept up to the requisite depth and steadied, and then
another tour of inspection took place, for leaks this time, and was
also pronounced satisfactory. The visitors breathed again, but thoughts
of the fresh air and sunlight up above _would_ obtrude themselves
nevertheless. It seemed so still and quiet, and the electric light
glared and winked on the brass work while up above....

‘A hundred feet.’

Somebody coughed nervously (it was _not_ one of the crew) and the boat
continued her descent. At the hundred foot level she steadied and the
final inspection was made, and to the great relief of certain members
of the passengers, who were thinking about that pressure of 45 lb. to
the square inch, the boat rose to thirty feet, the motors were stopped,
and Raymond gave the order,--

‘Blow 1, 2, and 3.’

The Kingstons were opened, and Hoskins on the air-manifold got the air
in group working, the depth needle hurried back to zero, and Raymond
clambered up the conning-tower and threw open the hatch.

‘One,’ he shouted, ‘two, three,’ as the tanks emptied, and then the
burly coxswain pushed his way up and took the helm, followed by Boyd
and the much-relieved dockyard potentates.

A bell rang below and the engines were started up. The protecting
trawler bore down on them, and they were off for the harbour at ten
good knots an hour. No fuss, no noise, but the visitors were thinking
and thinking hard. They had something to tell their wives about when
they got home that evening, and appeared a little thoughtful for a day
or two afterwards.

As they came in through the harbour gates a small crowd of workmen
watched them go by. They didn’t see many submarines in Darlton, and it
was quite an event for them. Her mast was hoisted and her White Ensign
stood out stiffly in the morning breeze as she stood across the dock
and tied up once more alongside the quay.

The passengers stepped ashore with a sigh of relief, and with profuse
thanks for ‘an interesting experience’ and well wishes for the future,
made off to mark the day with a red letter in their calendars. Raymond
smiled as he watched them go. As for Seagrave, he was consulting with
Hoskins over a stiff Kingston lever, and Boyd was closing down the gyro

       *       *       *       *       *

The final stores were taken in in the afternoon, mostly tinned food
and brass polish and the hundred and one small items that crop up at
the last moment. The provisions presented quite a formidable array,
for the modern submarine is able to carry a large amount for cases of
necessity, which her electric cooking-range is able to cope with, and
prepare in any manner of which the cook is capable. In addition to
her preserved rations, she also carries sufficient fresh meat for her
wants, if on a short patrol, or at any rate enough for two or three
days if the outing is to be a lengthy one.

By evening the final touches had been added, and ‘123’ lay to the quay
a wiser and a better boat. She and her officers knew a great deal more
about her than they had known before she was hauled to pieces, and
smacked and riveted by the dockyard hordes.

The boat was locked up for the night, and the coxswain and his men
trooped off to supper in the barracks; Boyd and Seagrave returned to
the hotel, and Raymond went off to the S.N.O.’s office to report his
boat finished and ready to return to her base.

It was not till dinner, eaten in the dining-room of the hotel, a
chamber that reminded one of past glories and ancient pomp and
circumstance, that he put in an appearance. The room was fairly crowded
when he arrived, as he was rather late, and he had to thread his way
between the other guests’ chairs to reach the table the three occupied
on the window side of the room.

Anxious mamma glanced severely at him, slightly bored papa exchanged
a nod and a good-evening, and demure Miss So-and-So smiled into her
plate. A large portion of the remainder were military officers passing
through the town or staying for a short while on duty. Those of his
own seniority hailed him with aplomb; he had a knack of making himself
liked everywhere.

‘Well?’ queried Seagrave, as his captain sat down.

‘Curious news,’ began Raymond, attacking the soup. ‘From a Service
point of view I’m fed up about it, but from a purely personal
standpoint it’s jolly good business. We can’t go back to base for
another three days, as they can’t get an escort before then.’

‘What awful rot; you’d think they’d have plenty of Destroyers knocking
about doing nothing, or at the worst they might let us go up by

‘And get sunk by our own patrols on the first night up. No thank you,
George, not for mine this journey. You as a young and able officer
ought to be jolly pleased to think you can have another whole three
days among this bevy of beauty. You don’t make the most of your

‘This is such a dull hole, though,’ put in Boyd; ‘you can’t get much in
the way of amusements in the evening. What on earth can we do to shake

‘Now wait, I have an idea. I feel it maturing,’ said Raymond, holding
his hand to his brow. ‘Don’t speak for a moment, it’s coming. Ah-h-h,
I have it! We’ll give a dance, a Submarine dance here in the hotel;
the drawing-room will be just the place, and we’ll invite all the old
fogies who’re staying here, and a few choice spirits of our own for
leavening. It’ll be all right, the manager and I are old pals, and I’ve
done it before. I’ll try and fix it for to-morrow night. It begins with
men only, and we give them a practice attack with pillows for torpedoes
and Boyd for the periscope. That comes off in my room, by the way.
Then we adjourn to the drawing-room, and the damsels troop in, and we
get the show going. Little Miss Bored Stiff, or whatever her name is,
will be only too pleased to bang on the piano, I feel sure. What do you
think of it?’

‘Not so dusty. What about clothes, though?’

‘Just monkey jackets and bow ties and white kid gloves. Oh, and you
can’t disgrace me by appearing in those disreputable old pumps, so
you’ll have to trot out and buy new ones. What about you, Seagrave?’

‘I was just thinking. I don’t seem to remember having a decent suit to
my name, but I’ll do my best.’

After dinner the manager was approached and the subject gently
broached to him. It took an effort, but after a little while he proved
amenable, and agreed to provide decorations and refreshments in return
for the addition of certain items on the officers’ extra bills. Miss
Bored Stiff, after a deal of gushing, agreed to do her share, and the
invitations were sent out the next morning.

‘The officers of H.M. Submarine “123” request the pleasure of the
company of ---- at a Submarine dance to-night in the drawing-room at
9.0. p.m.’

And so the invitations were accepted--all, that is, except two, and
they were two very old people, and the preparations were duly made, and
8.30 p.m. saw a crowd of fifteen young gentlemen in Sam Browne belts
collected in Raymond’s room, drinking their liqueurs and smoking their
cigars with the air of war-worn warriors. There was a certain amount of
noise in the room as well, in fact it filled up most of the odd spaces
where the aforesaid young gentlemen were not sitting, but matters were
moving, and a ‘submarine attack’ was developing.

Boyd was dangling in mid-air from the end of a line thrown round
a stout hat-peg and made fast to the bed rail (he had to be the
periscope after all), and an arrangement of chairs and whatnots
represented the diving rudder wheels and other control-room etceteras.
A little way off Seagrave stood by an arm-chair, to whose back was
fixed an ingenious arrangement, whose principal ingredients were
pillows and a length of rubber tubing. The spectators sat where they
could, and prepared to learn the methods of attack as demonstrated by a
submarine expert.

At an order from Raymond, a young gentleman with a single star upon his
cuff went through the operation of starting the motors, mimicking the
gestures of the L.T.O. working the switches at the motor-board. The
captain then gazed fixedly between Boyd’s dangling boots and gave the
order, ‘take her down.’

Everybody groaned, hissed, and hooted, while a youth in shirt sleeves
splashed water in a basin to represent the wash of the sea over the
conning-tower. Two others manipulated the diving wheel chairs, and the
hands on the face of a broken clock were gravely moved on in imitation
of the depth-gauge.

‘A thousand feet,’ said Raymond. ‘Hold her at that, idiot. Oh, hell,
she’s leaking.’ This as the basin worker upset half his water. ‘Blow 40
and 50. Shake it up now. That’s better. Oh, down, periscope,’ and Boyd
was lowered to the floor gasping.

‘Right now, up to thirty feet. Work that depth-gauge, ass. Up
periscope. Heave him up, never mind if he kicks. Ha! Enemy bearing two
points on the starboard bow. Steady that helm, idiot. Steady, I say.
That’s right. Eighteen feet. Flood the tubes.’

‘Flood the tubes,’ cried Seagrave, getting busy with his arm-chair.
‘Come on now. Bear a hand there. Tubes flooded, sir, and firing-tanks
charged. Swing the bow-cap.’ (Another youth shot through air.) ‘That’s
the style. Now we’re doing something. All ready, sir.’

‘Steady the helm. Down periscope. Thirty feet,’ continued Raymond.
‘Easy now, eighteen feet again. Up periscope. Steady that helm now.
Carefully does it. Ahhhh. Don’t kick us, Boyd. Stand by.’

‘Stand by, sir.’

‘Easy now. Ready to take her down. Deflections 400. Look out there;
look out again and we bump her. Now once more and ... Fire!’ and a
pillow shot out of the catapult device like a feathery cannon ball
and bowled over a rather dignified if youthful captain amid howls of

‘Eighty feet,’ shouted Raymond; ‘take her down, men, quick now. Oh,
hell! we’re rammed,’ and the whole room rose and fell on itself in a
kicking and struggling mass.

‘Here, I say you fellows,’ cried the irate army captain. ‘This is a bit
thick. I’ve got decent clothes on. You are a lot of ... of Submarine

He was dragged to his feet and dried and brushed (there had been a good
deal of water floating about, ‘to make it more realistic,’ as Seagrave
put it), and his ruffled feelings were restored with whisky. Then the
party disappeared to tidy itself for the dance, and ten minutes later
the seekers after submarine knowledge trickled down to the drawing-room
where the ‘Submarine Toughs’ were waiting to receive the ladies,
looking very angelic and innocent in spite of the recent _mêlée_.

The ladies arrived, and the dance opened with a waltz banged out of
the patient if wheezy old hotel piano by the gushing Miss Bored Stiff,
and ten couples took the floor with great gusto, while the manager
alternately held up his hands in horror and beamed benevolently on the
revels. The waltz was followed by a set of lancers, and the game got
really going. Supper was much in evidence, and Sam Browne belts and
dark blue and gold dashed about with ices and claret cup, and picked up
fans and wrote things on programmes and generally did the gallant.

And so, Miss Bored Stiff played, and the girls giggled, and the
mothers beamed, and even a few of the fathers, terrifying people, were
sufficiently melted to accept a drink, and the evening wore on and
everybody enjoyed themselves. The young gentleman in khaki, with the
thin gold stripe on his sleeve, danced with the girl in the red sash
four times, and the Army Captain acted as steward till he lost his
rosette, more by design than accident, and hurled himself into the
two-step like a three-year-old. Then the mothers gathered their bairns
about them, and ‘good-nights’ were exchanged, and the fathers remained
and gave expert opinions about the war, and listened with deference
to the expert opinions of others who two years before they would have
considered babes-in-arms, and every one went happily to bed.

But no one knew of the revels held in the Petty Officers’ Mess that
night to which the Sergeants of the local defence force and their ‘good
ladies’ had been invited, or of how the coxswain and the T.I. danced
attendance on the Master Gunner’s daughter, or how Hoskins so far
forgot his dignity as to perform a step dance much to the edification
of the guests and the admiration of the entire engine-room staff.

These things are secret, and the veil is never lifted ... in public,
for the next day work had to be carried out in the Service manner, and
every one was his usual staid and former self.

And that’s another of the unwritten rules that pertain to the Laws of
the Navy.

       *       *       *       *       *

And then the final spasm when two days later the escort Destroyer
swung out of the harbour and ‘123’ followed her, laden with kit and
belongings and spare parts, and containers, and a host of minor matters
purchased for less fortunate comrades in the _Parentis_. Out through
the dock entrance and past the harbour heads, and Darlton and that
dockyard and the Royal Hotel were left behind, perhaps for good and
ever. And the Destroyer zig-zagged and the Submarine puffed behind and
was examined by trawlers and patrol-boats, and anchored for the night,
and the following day arrived off the base once more and the familiar
scenes of work and the old routine. As they stopped alongside the
_Parentis_ in the late afternoon they were met by the ward room _en
masse_ and hurried off to gin and bitters to celebrate their arrival.
The parcels were distributed and blessings given and curses hurled over
the contents, while Raymond and the skippers talked ‘shop’ over the
alterations and work of the re-fit. But there was something missing,
and it came out later after dinner when the juniors had cleared off and
the seniors sat round in solemn conclave.

‘Yes,’ said Carruthers, staring into the empty grate. ‘About two weeks
ago it was. Much the same show as Shelldon’s, I expect. Just went out
and didn’t come back. Hard luck, but he wasn’t married. A lot of his
men were, though. And old Blake was always so cheery, too.’...

The ward room nodded and lapsed into silence. Somebody coughed and
picked up a magazine. Then six bells struck and the _Parentis_ went to


    I saw a Line of Battleship a-followed by a prize,
      ’Oose capture wur a matter easy done;
    The Gunners ’eld their fire till they saw each other’s eyes,
      And raked her fore and aft with every gun.
        Eh! it couldn’t ’ave been every gun as did it?
          I’m speaking of a ’undred year ago;
        An’ if we didn’t rake ’er, ’ow in ’Eavens _did_ we take ’er,
          For we adn’t got torpedoes down below?

    I saw a Fleet of ironclads a-shelling of a town,
      Which let us ’ave it lively from a fort,
    Till a little British ‘lay-me-true’ ran in and did ’em brown,
      While most of us lay off and watched the sport.
        Eh! it couldn’t ’ave been just one ship as did it?
          I’m speaking now of forty year ago;
        We’d iron on our uppers and steam and patent scuppers,
          Though nowadays you might a’called it slow.

    I ’ear there’s been an action, for the Germans come at last,
      With submarines and aereyplanes an’ all;
    But when our Battle Squadron come they run so ruddy fast
      We ’adn’t time to open up the ball.
        And yet I can’t make out the way they do it,
          I’m speaking now o’ thirteen months ago,
        They come out for to beat us, but when the beggars meet us,
          They scuttle back before they’ve struck a blow.

    But, Grandpa, don’t forget, you’ aven’t _seen_ the British Fleet,
      Nor been aboard a Dreadnought in your life,
    And a modern Battle Squadron is a nasty thing to meet,
      And a Cruiser ’as a fore-foot like a knife.
        So, can’t you even guess the way we did it?
          It only ’appened ‘bout a year ago,
        The Battle Cruisers caught ’em, and the Dread-ohs nearly taught ’em
          When darkness fell and spoilt our little show.


The patrol had not been a very interesting one so far, and nothing out
of the way had happened. Moreover, it was the first that ‘123’ had made
since her return to duty, and at the end of a day at sea the crew were
already slipping back to the familiar routine. They had just finished
lunch and had been diving since four in the morning, and nothing had
occurred to break the monotony of the usual underwater stillness. There
was no indication of what was going to happen, and the men off watch
were stretched out in the battery compartments putting away a little
over and above their ordinary allowance of sleep, while the control
room was tenanted solely by the second coxswain at the planes, and the
helmsman, who was biting his nails and staring into the gyro repeater.
Faint gurgles came now and again from the vents, and occasionally the
steering chain rattled, but otherwise there was scarcely any noise.
Behind the green curtains Raymond and Seagrave were reading magazines,
and Boyd was asleep in the little box-shaped upper bunk. The indicator
of the Forbes’ log gave a click and announced another mile completed,
and the master compass hummed its continuous tune to itself as it
buzzed happily round.

It was Seagrave who saw them first. He had brought the boat up to
eighteen feet and taken the customary wary look round the horizon,
and the coxswain was surprised that he got no order to ‘take her down

Seagrave came in quietly from the control room and tapped his skipper
on the shoulder.

‘Will you have a look through the periscope, sir?’ he asked.

Raymond looked up sharply.

‘Yes, all right,’ he answered, and stepped through into the control
room where the coxswain watched him with curious eyes as he peered
through the lens.

Presently he lowered the instrument.

‘Keep her at eighteen feet,’ was all he said as he rejoined Seagrave in
the ward room.

‘Do you think it’s anything, sir?’ the latter asked eagerly.

‘Yes, I think it is. Call Boyd.’

Together they pored over the chart, and the situation was explained
to the navigator, who did mysterious things with parallel rulers, and
finally announced that they must be coming from ‘there,’ which was a
well-known German base.

Raymond nodded, and went back to the periscope, where he remained
silent for several moments. Away on his port bow the rim of the horizon
was broken by three tiny smudges of smoke, one behind the other, which
were coming towards him over the glassy calm sea, and would eventually
cross his bows. He took a careful bearing, and noted that the shapes of
slender hulls were forming below the smoke blurs before he lowered the
periscope again.

‘Diving stations,’ he ordered.

‘Diving stations,’ repeated Seagrave, tingling with anticipation, and
‘diving stations’ echoed the coxswain, springing to life from a heavy
slumber in the after battery compartment.

There was no particular haste and no noise at all. Few of the crew,
with the exception of the coxswain and one or two old campaigners
who had been with Raymond up the Marmora, had ever made a serious
attack before, but for all that there was no excitement: this was
what they had been waiting and training for for years, and now it had
come. Rather there was an atmosphere of pleasurable anticipation and
quiet confidence that the captain would do the right thing. They knew
their lives were in his hands. He was the only man who could see the
enemy, and if he made a single mistake ... but then he wouldn’t make
a mistake, and it was their job to carry out his orders and see that
others did so. In two minutes the crew were at diving stations, the
L.T.O.’s at the motor-boards, Seagrave and the T.I. at the tubes, the
coxswains at the diving wheels, and the remainder at their various
posts of Kingstons and vents. Forward a couple were whispering
together about some previous experience, another man grinned
sheepishly, and then Raymond’s voice broke the silence.

‘Destroyers. Three of them. German all right. Flood the tubes.’

The order was passed forward by Boyd and echoed by Seagrave from the
electric lit recesses of the fore-end. They were in earnest now, and
this was the real thing.

‘Up periscope,’ came Raymond’s voice again, and as the instrument
slipped upwards he bent down and slowly straightened himself with his
eye at the lens.

‘Boyd,’ he cried from the control room, ‘they’re steering nor’west and
bearing 160 deg. Time 1.10 p.m.’

‘Ay, ay, sir,’ replied the navigator, notebook in hand.

With the air-manifold Hoskins was blowing water from the fore-trim
into the tubes, and forward they were watching the gauges. A hiss and
a spurt of water and the E.R.A. shut off the blow and mopped his brow
with a piece of dirty waste.

‘Down periscope. Steer south-west,’ in the incisive tones of the

‘Firing tanks charged, sir,’ came Seagrave’s voice from forward. ‘Tubes

‘Ay, ay,’ called Raymond.

It was all so sudden. Ten minutes ago and they had all been sleeping
peacefully or keeping a monotonous and familiar watch. And now, in
another ten minutes? Well, rats in a trap might have a better chance
... if anything went wrong.

‘Up periscope,’ came the captain’s voice again. ‘Keep a steady course.
Bearing 215 deg., Boyd. Stand by.’

‘Stand by,’ called Seagrave from forward. Then, as the valves and cocks
were opened, ‘All ready, sir.’

All eyes were glued on the gauges and meters.

‘When I fire dive to sixty feet,’ broke in Raymond. ‘What’s her depth?
Keep her down, man. Steady. Oh, damn! he’s seen me. Fire!’

As the boat shook to the release of the torpedo, the coxswains buzzed
their wheels round, but owing to the sudden alteration in weight the
boat wouldn’t answer quickly.

‘Saw the wake of the periscope in this flat calm,’ went on Raymond,
more to himself than the crew. ‘Oughtn’t to have attacked. Take her
down, I tell you. They’ve altered course to ram, and they’re firing at
us. Oh, hell! Flood the auxiliary. Quick, now. Down periscope.’

As the auxiliary Kingston and vent came open the boat began to feel
it, and dived quickly. At fifty feet a roaring noise overhead like a
train passing through a tunnel announced that one of the Destroyers
was passing over them, and at eighty feet an explosion, which shook
the boat to her internals, announced that the enemy had dropped a
depth-charge above them, and that they had gone down none too quickly.

The lights went out. Somewhere the shock had parted a lead, and for
two horrible moments they went in pitch darkness plunging down to the
bottom of the sea.

‘What water is there, Boyd?’ came the captain’s steady voice from the
control room.

‘Twenty-five fathoms, sir,’ the navigator answered out of the darkness.

‘All right. Hold her up, coxswain.’

‘Ay, ay, sir. Can’t see the depth-gauge.’

Then they struck. Struck the bottom at 150 feet, with a slight cant
downwards at a speed of five knots.

Mercifully the L.T.O., groping through the darkness, got to the
emergency switch, and the spare lights came on just in time.

‘Stop the motors,’ called Raymond. ‘Is the bow-cap closed?’

‘Closed it as soon as we fired, sir, and drained the tubes,’ answered

‘Good. I fired as the leading Destroyer turned to ram. Missed, of
course, but she was firing at us, and she’d have rammed us if we hadn’t
got the mouldies off. She had to alter course for them, and as it was
that depth-charge was pretty close.’

‘Depth-gauge jammed, sir,’ reported the coxswain. ‘68 lb. pressure on
the periscope gauge.’

Raymond frowned. His quick dive to avoid destruction, coupled with the
sudden obscuring of the lights, had landed him in an awkward situation.
The boat had struck bottom with her motors under weigh, and had stuck
her nose in the mud with 150 feet of water above her. The external
pressure was 68 lb. to the square inch, and three watchful Destroyers
were up above.

For a moment he thought they might have the grapnels on him, and a wild
picture of having to come up and surrender flashed across his mind. But
the men were watching him, and he knew what he ought to do.

‘Is the forward depth-gauge jammed?’ he called.

‘Yes, sir,’ answered Boyd. ‘Only goes to a hundred feet. It’s hard up.’

‘Right. Blow the buoyancy.’

The small tank was blown out, and in so doing it was put to almost its
tested strain (it was guaranteed to 75 lb.) without any result. Then
came the order:--

‘Group up. Astern both.’

‘Grouped up, sir,’ from Furness, as he brought the switch over and
started the motors. It was just like ordinary practice dives, and he
watched his ammeters with as much detachment as if nothing out of the
way had taken place.

But nothing happened and the motors were stopped. ‘123’ was stuck hard
and fast, and an uneasy feeling came over the captain. Seagrave was
in the control room by now, and Boyd was making notes on the chart.
Had they got the grapnels on him after all? No, of course not, they
couldn’t have....

‘Blow the auxiliary.’

The big tank was emptied, and the boat should have had about eight tons
of buoyancy and risen like a cork. But still nothing happened, and the
gauges remained jammed and the pressure was still 68 lb. to the square
inch. Forward somebody coughed, and the T.I. could be heard getting two
of the spare torpedoes ready to load into the empty tubes.

‘Group up. Astern both,’ came the order again.

For a moment there was still no result. Then suddenly she shook herself
clear from the jamb, and rushed up to surface like an empty bottle. The
depth-gauge in the control room was out of action, but the forward one
was working again, and Boyd sang out the readings as the boat rose.

‘Stop both,’ cried Raymond. ‘Ahead both. Hard a dive. Flood the

‘Gauge reading, sir,’ called Boyd, ‘100 feet, and coming up fast.’

‘Hold her, coxswain,’ said Raymond.

‘Ninety feet, sir. Eighty feet, seventy, sixty,’ called Boyd. ‘Still
rising fast, sir.’

‘Can’t keep her down, sir,’ jerked the coxswain over his shoulder.

‘Damn!’ remarked Raymond. ‘She’s too light still. Flood the buoyancy.’

But the tank in question had just been blown at 68 lb. and had a
big pressure in it. It filled but slowly, and Boyd’s voice continued
monotonously from the fore compartment,--

‘Forty feet, sir. Thirty feet. Still coming up. Twenty feet, rising
fast. Ten feet. Surface.’

The auxiliary was flooding and nothing more could be done. With the
periscope about six inches, Raymond lay on the deck and peeped through
the lens.

‘All right, they’re a mile astern. Seen us, of course, and are coming
for us. Get her down quickly.’

Then the auxiliary took effect, and the boat went down quickly, but in
hand. Once more the Destroyers, all three of them this time, were heard
passing over the top, and at a hundred feet a muffled explosion astern
told where a depth-charge had exploded harmlessly. At 120 Raymond
steadied her, and kept her at that level.

‘And that’s that,’ he said, after the boat had got her trim and the
coxswains could manage her easily. ‘So much for that. I oughtn’t to
have attacked in a flat calm; they were bound to see me.’

‘How far off were they when they spotted us?’ asked Boyd.

‘About a thousand yards. The leader opened fire and came for us. That
was just before I fired. He’d have had us otherwise. I bet they’re
rushing all over the place now on the look out. Let’s have a look at
the chart.’

‘I think I’ll put the periscope up in an hour,’ he continued, ‘and
have another smack if there’s a chance, but we’d better put her on the
course for home all the same, 285 deg. it is. Then we can sit on the
bottom when we get into 12 fathoms if necessary. How’s the battery?’

‘12.10 and 12.06, sir,’ answered Seagrave.

‘Hum, not bad. We’ve got enough amps.[17] for another attack, but it’ll
mean legging it afterwards for shallow water and sitting on the bottom
till dark. Better wait for another hour, though; they’ll be very much
on the alert just now.’

Forward, Seagrave and the T.I. were making the necessary adjustments to
two of the spare torpedoes, and a little later on launched them into
the tubes. A few minor adjustments of trim had to be made by-and-by
(they were on full fields and only doing about two knots), and
presently Seagrave reported that they were ‘all ready forward again.’

The depth-gauge in the control room had been put right and was showing
a steady 120 feet, far down out of the way of depth-charges and other
unpleasantnesses, and the time dragged slowly on.

‘Shook me a bit when we came right up that time,’ remarked Raymond. ‘I
made sure we were done in and was just waiting for the bump. When I got
my eyes at the periscope they were about a mile astern, rushing round
in circles. It wasn’t very healthy up there for a bit.’

‘I thought we should get it all right,’ put in Seagrave, ‘coming up to
the surface like that. What was the matter?’

‘I had to blow a good drop of water to get her out of the mud. Then she
came up with a rush and the tank wouldn’t fill quickly enough.’

‘Those blessed lights going caused all the trouble. It’ll be all right
in a few minutes. The lead went where it comes through control-room
bulkhead. Must have made the boat jump when that old bomb went off.’

‘Crowded five minutes,’ remarked Boyd. ‘However, all over and no one
dead yet.’

‘It’s all right for you,’ said Raymond grimly. ‘But I’ve just wasted
two torpedoes and over £2000 of my country’s money. If I don’t get
something to-day death will be a happy release, as I shall probably
incur their lordship’s “grave displeasure.”’

‘Better than losing the boat, anyway. Two old mouldies must have shaken
the Boche a bit. How far off him did they go?’

‘Straddled her. I thought I’d got her at first. Otherwise I’d have
dived at once and she wouldn’t have come so near us. The spread of the
“fish” was what did it. Now I shall have to write a blessed explanation
of it all, and you’ll read of our miss in the next list of “torpedoes
fired.” Pleasant, isn’t it?’

‘Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that. First time I’ve been under fire.
Unexciting experience, too. But I don’t want to stick in the mud and
then bounce up to the surface like that every time. Rather too tough
for amusement. I wonder what they’re doing now. We must have entirely
spoilt their day. They must be in a state. I bet they’re flying round
looking for periscopes all over the ocean. Anyway, they’re just as
scared of us as we are of them.’

‘I hope so. The battery’s our trouble. We can’t afford to run it too
low or we’ll have to sit on the bottom here, and that won’t do the boat
any good at this depth. I expect they guess we’re striking out for home
if they know anything about submarines, which they’re bound to. We’ll
have a look at half-past two and try another attack if they’re anywhere
near, and then head it to the shallow water and sit tight till dark. If
they’d been a bit quicker or we hadn’t fired at them they’d have had
us that time, and they’re not likely to give up the hunt in a hurry.
I know I shouldn’t if I thought there was an enemy submarine knocking

The time dragged slowly on. Every one felt rather elevated and excited
although the attack had failed. At least they had fired live torpedoes
at the enemy, and the Destroyers were still somewhere up above them
watching for the first sight of a periscope. The signs of the conflict
had already been removed, and save where the two empty spaces where the
spare torpedoes, now in the tubes, had been stowed, nothing remained to
show that anything unusual had happened. In a submarine it is either
pay or play. Either you get off scot-free or else you don’t come back,
and the names of yourself and your crew adorn the casualty lists,
spread over several days, to divert suspicion and the putting of two
and two together by an inquisitive public.

The crew were feeling pleased with themselves. At last they had really
seen something and carried out a real attack. True, it had failed, but
the weather had been against them, and submarines weren’t reckoned as
much of a match against Destroyers anyway, and at any rate they had all
had a shot for it. This was the thing they had been waiting for for
years, and now it _had_ come they were surprised at its suddenness and
how like peace time practice it was. Somehow they had imagined it would
be different, and yet it wasn’t, except that the target was doing its
best to do them in, and was waiting on top for the first sign of the

Dimly they began to realise that much of the peace time routine which
they had voted as unnecessary work was of use after all when the real
thing came. The Stoker P.O. was telling the coxswain that it was the
first time he had been in a submarine that had fired a live torpedo,
and the second coxswain was relating his experiences when in a boat
captained by an officer well known in submarine circles, who used to
exercise his crews at diving stations in the dark, in preparation for
just such a mishap as had overtaken them this afternoon.

Two o’clock came and went. The Forbes’ log ticked slowly on as ‘123’
crept away from the scene of the first attack. There was nothing to do,
and it got rather dull and monotonous after the recent activities.

A thin pencil line on the chart showed where they were heading for home
and shallow water, in case a possible second attack should run the
battery down, and necessitate sitting on the bottom until they could
rise under cover of friendly nightfall and slip away unnoticed in the
dark. It was rather a case of the hunter hunted. Once seen and located,
and the enemy Destroyers would be sure to press home the pursuit to
the bitter end. It seemed strange to be sitting down here under the
electric light, nibbling bits of chocolate and reading magazines,
with the knowledge that in half an hour’s time one hoped to be having
another smack at the German a hundred odd feet above.... Still....

‘Diving stations,’ ordered Raymond, looking at the clock.

The boat started and came to life, the men going quietly to their
places tingling with the expectancy of what might come. Perhaps they
might have better luck this time, or perhaps ... not. Anyway....

‘Thirty feet,’ said Raymond. ‘Bring her up slowly.’

The depth-needle crept back. Somehow there was a slight feeling of
apprehension this time. The novelty of actual attack had worn off,
and having been through it once there was always the feeling of what
was to come. People who read the accounts of vessels being sunk by
submarines and talk glibly of piracy and other nonsense from the depths
of their arm-chairs never realise the nerve required to carry out those
attacks, or the feeling of being cooped up in a tiny shell out of reach
of air and sunlight, with the knowledge that there is no quarter meted
out to the undersea-forces. Neither do they realise that orders are
orders, and that the German submarine captains are merely obeying their
orders when they torpedo merchant ships at sight. Wrong it may be, and
undoubtedly is, but the fault lies with the higher command and not with
the individuals. Did they disobey orders they would lay themselves open
to be shot as traitors. The so-called ‘well-worn platitude of obeying
orders’ is no chimera, but an actual and very real fact, which urges
men to commit actions which may be wholly against their finer feelings.

As the boat rose Raymond reduced to full fields, and presently she
steadied at thirty feet. Then the periscope was raised, and after a
final look round the captain spoke again,--

‘Eighteen feet. Bring her up quickly, so that you can get down again at
once if necessary.’

The two coxswains moved their wheels. Again that tense, strained
feeling came over the boat. The men were all on the alert, waiting for
the expected result.

As she came up Raymond kept his eye at the lens watching for the moment
the periscope would break surface. The men stood by; there was always
the horrible possibility of rising right under the keel of an enemy

At nineteen feet the captain lowered the periscope quickly, and the
boat descended to the thirty foot level. Then came the expected order,--

‘Flood the tubes.’

‘They’ve spread out,’ Raymond explained, as Seagrave departed forward
in a state of bustle. ‘Two of them are astern on either quarter, and
the other’s about a mile ahead. They’re looking for us, but so far they
haven’t seen us. Steer 270 deg.’

‘Steer 270 deg. Course, sir,’ echoed the helmsman mechanically.

‘Eighteen feet,’ ordered Raymond, and up came the periscope, the
captain following the lens up with his eye as the instrument rose.

‘Right. Down periscope. Keep her at her depth. Stand by.’

‘Stand by, sir,’ Seagrave called out. ‘All ready, sir.’

‘When I fire dive to 60 feet,’ continued Raymond. ‘Up periscope.’

The moment had come once more, and the eyes of the boat were glued to
gauges and meters. The log ticked on, and the repeater-compass clicked
to itself as the seconds went by. Somewhere forward a man sneezed, and
the sound broke the tension like the crack of a pistol.

‘Keep her at her depth. Steady helm now. Sixty feet. Fire!...’

A few seconds tense waiting, while the boat dived down into the safer
regions. Boyd was holding the stop-watch and counting the seconds

‘Hard-a-port,’ said Raymond. ‘Steer’....

Booooooom. A muffled explosion right ahead drowned all other sounds and
shook ‘123’ till she rocked like a trawler in a sea way. Then the helm
went over and she steadied on her new course.

‘Thirty-five seconds, sir,’ said Boyd, snapping to the watch.

‘Got him!’ exulted Raymond, as his boat broke into one explosive grin.
‘Keep her at 60 feet and steer N.W. for the present.’

Then Seagrave came aft, his duty done, and there being nothing else
that could affect the safety of the boat, the crew fell out from diving
stations and the officers opened the ceremonial and only bottle of

‘Not so bad,’ said Raymond, raising his glass. ‘I got him as he was
crossing the bow. Makes me feel a bit ill to think of the poor beggars
killed or drowning while we’re here all nice and comfortable, but the
others will probably pick most of them up. Here’s how.’

‘By Jove, it’s good business,’ chimed in Boyd, ‘and aren’t the men
pleased. Thank God, we’ve done something at last.’

‘Are you going to have a look at her presently,’ asked Seagrave.

‘Oh, by-and-by. We’ll carry on like this for half an hour. They’ll be
flapping about a bit up there yet. Do you realise how lucky we’ve been,
and how many of our boats have never seen a thing yet. You ought to
go down on your graceless knees and thank High Heaven for your good

‘I do, I do. Or rather I would if this weren’t the only pair of
trousers I’ve got in the boat. Shall I reload the tubes?’

‘Yes, you’d better, but we won’t fire any more “fish” to-day, thank
you. Four torpedoes for one Destroyer is rather too expensive. Well,
put her on to 285 deg. again, and leg it for shallow water. Let’s see,
it’s three o’clock now. How’s the battery?’

‘11.85 and 11.81, sir,’ came the voice of the L.T.O., bending over the

‘None too good,’ went on the skipper. ‘We’ll carry on on the series
switch till five o’clock, we’ll be in 12 fathoms then, and sit on the
bottom till dark. Ten o’clock will do it, I think.’

‘How about having a look at them?’ inquired Seagrave.

‘Yes, I think we might as well. I can’t resist the temptation much
longer. We’d better go to diving stations, though, before we rise.’

Once more the boat came up, and at twenty-one feet the periscope was
slowly hoisted and Raymond took his quick look round.

‘All right,’ he announced to the expectant crew. ‘She’s sinking fast by
the head--the others are standing by. Hit her right amidships and blown
two of her funnels out. There’s a lot of things floating in the water,
though, and a boat is dodging about. She’s almost gone. Want a look?’

Seagrave and Boyd in turn stepped to the periscope and gazed at the
stricken Destroyer, now at her last gasp. Her comrades were dashing
round her at high speed in a wide circle, and heads and debris of all
sorts were bobbing on the surface.

‘Beastly, isn’t it?’ said Raymond, taking another look. ‘Makes you feel
a bit sick to think we’re responsible for it all. Ah! there she goes.
She’s under now. I’d like to get another, all the same, but rather too
risky. Right. Down periscope 40 feet. Fall out diving stations.’

Then they went down once more to the greeny depths, and the normal
routine was resumed. But it wasn’t quite the same. From the other side
of the curtains the whispering voices of the men and the subdued talk
from aft had taken on a new tone. To all appearances they were back to
ordinary diving routine, the coxswain and helmsmen in the control room
and the rest scattered over the boat, but a subtle change had taken
place. Before, they had been playing at it, but now, well, those heads
bobbing on the water were mute evidence of the experience they had been

Perhaps in the heat of an action it may be different, and one may feel
differently about it, but in a submarine where no one but the captain
sees the enemy there is always rather an aftermath to cold-bloodedness,
a realisation of what the others have gone through. True, at the time,
one realises that if the enemy is not put under, one’s own boat and
her crew will be, but after the first excitement has worn off and the
torpedoes have been fired and found their mark, comes the feeling of
not having given the men a sporting chance, the feeling one had at
school after having ‘dotted the other fellow’ one on the nose or taken
the starch out of some one who was always ridiculing us. One wanted to
shake hands afterwards and be magnanimous (horrible word), and forget
the whole thing. But there was no shaking hands here, and there were
some who wouldn’t shake hands again ever ... up there ... heads bobbing
on the sea. Beastly.....

The whisperings grew fainter, and the talk in the after compartment
flagged and ceased. The men off watch were dropping off to sleep, and
Seagrave and Boyd had clambered into their bunks. Forward the four
empty racks showed the day’s work done, and behind the tube doors the
spare torpedoes were shipped and ready in case of necessity.

Raymond sat writing out his report, a short, concise narrative of the
events, for the benefit of Captain Charteris and ‘their Lordships,’
those vague beings of Whitehall whose opinions rule the Naval world.

There was no periscope watch just yet, as it was too dangerous to risk
being seen for a while, and ‘123’ jogged slowly homewards (she was due
in to-morrow morning) at the forty feet level, at the sedate speed of
slightly under two knots an hour.

At four o’clock tea appeared, and the boat came to life once more. Men
could be heard passing aft on their way to the meal, and an opening
of lockers and clattering of crockery announced the progress of the
meal. In the ward room the officers took theirs off the chart-table and
talked of mice and men.

‘Seems a bit queer to sit here and eat bread and jam,’ said Boyd,
breaking a momentary silence, ‘with all those beggars killed up there,
and the rest of them either in a blue funk or dashing about to Gott
strafe us. I wonder what they’re up to. Are you going to have another

‘After tea,’ said Raymond, ‘and then we’ll have to sit down at five
o’clock. About twelve fathoms, isn’t it?’

‘Twelve and a half, I make it,’ replied Boyd. ‘Anyway, quite shallow
enough, and only 140 miles from home. Shall we rise at ten o’clock?’

‘Depends how dark it is. We’ll have to put on a big charge on the way
home, and start it as soon as we rise; it won’t do the battery any good
to be left as it is now for too long.’

When the meal was cleared away, the boat was brought to eighteen feet
and the periscope hoisted once more.

‘All serene-oh,’ said Raymond. ‘They’re about four miles astern, I
reckon. Can’t see much but the smoke. Down periscope. Thirty feet.
We’ll start periscope watch again,’ he added, turning to Seagrave.
‘Keep a good look out at them.’

Boyd took over the watch, and the old order was re-established, the
boat rising to eighteen feet for the ‘look-see’ every ten minutes, and
then going down again to thirty feet.

Somehow the time dragged on, but it wasn’t very interesting, and every
one was looking forward to ten o’clock and fresh air after the day’s

Then five o’clock arrived, and the crew were once more ordered to
diving stations, and Raymond took the periscope and had a final look

‘Nothing in sight,’ he announced. ‘Seventy-five feet of water,
coxswain, and sixteen feet below us. We ought to ground with about
fifty-nine feet on the gauge. Take her down.’

She went down slowly. At thirty feet Raymond stopped the motors and let
a little water into the auxiliary through the vent, as she lost weight.

‘How’s the bubble?’ he asked.

‘Midship, sir. She’s horizontal,’ answered the coxswain.

The depth-needle crept on. Fifty feet, fifty-five, sixty, sixty-two,
and then a light jar was felt and a faint upward pressure on the soles
of the feet like a passenger feels when a lift reaches the bottom of
the shaft in a Tube station.

The boat was on the bottom.

‘Six tons in the auxiliary,’ ordered Raymond. The boat took on a slight
list to port and then righted and lay still. The depth-meter was steady
at fifty-two feet.

‘Fall out diving stations,’ said the captain. ‘One hand keep watch in
the control room and call me if the depth-meter shifts or we take on a
list, coxswain.’

The crew dispersed and the officers returned to the ward room.

An even deader stillness than usual prevailed now that the boat was
stationary and had gone to sleep on the bottom. The talk of the men
in the after compartment drifted in and was the only sound that broke
the underwater silence. In the control room sat the watch-keeper with
his eyes on the gauges, sixty-two feet on the depth-gauge, and thirty
pounds pressure to the square inch. The long-suffering battery was
having a rest and the crew proceeded to follow its example.

Raymond and Boyd turned in and Seagrave picked up a book. Above,
somewhere astern, were two pannicky Destroyers and other things as
well; and somewhere else, at the bottom of the sea also, was the dead
Destroyer who would destroy no more.... Ah, well....

Dinner came at eight o’clock, rather a sumptuous affair in honour of
the occasion, and full justice was done to the cook’s culinary efforts
to live up to the event. Finally the bottle was opened after a teetotal
meal, and Boyd poured out the port.

‘As somebody or other once wisely observed,’ said Raymond, as he
prepared to drink, ‘a drop of whisky makes the whole world kin, but
give me a touch of the good old fruity as a really finishing end to a
perfect day. Whew! it’s getting stuffy.’

‘Always seems to after dinner,’ replied Boyd. ‘Must be the effort of
eating after sixteen hours’ diving, or else we eat so much that there
isn’t any room for fresh air.’

‘Or much air, either,’ said Seagrave, ‘not after twenty or so other
people have used it. This is the longest dive I’ve ever done, but as
regards the amount of grub eaten, that’s entirely a personal matter. Do
you mean to insinuate....’

‘That you ate a pound of cherries to-day? Of course I do. I admit I’ve
been asleep most of the day, but whenever I’ve woken up and cocked an
eye over the bunkboard I’ve seen you gobbling fruit like a schoolgirl
at a bun struggle.’

‘Well, I’ve had a system, and I haven’t been able to work it this
patrol, but the idea is to eat six cherries between looks through the
“perisher,” and suck the stones while I’m there.’

‘Beastly habit,’ said Raymond. ‘We’ll have to stop bringing out fruit
if it’s going to lead to these debauches.’

‘And deprive me of my sole pleasure in life. That’s a bit ’ard.’

‘It’s a bit ’ard on me that I can’t get any cherries at all on account
of your gormandising habits. That’s what’s a bit ’ard.’

‘Are you going to wait till ten before rising?’ asked Boyd, changing
the subject skilfully.

‘It’s getting a bit fuggy, so I think we’ll come up at nine-thirty.
What time is it now?’

‘Nine o’clock. I shan’t be sorry to get up, for one. That’ll be
seventeen hours and a half, and quite long enough for my small needs.
I’m not ambitious in that direction.’

‘No, I think we’ll make it half-past nine. You’d better warn them
in the engine-room, Seagrave, that we’ll want full speed as soon as
possible after rising. One can’t say that they’re not still on the
look-out for us, and we can’t afford to hang about.’

Boyd busied himself with his charts and laid the course for home. ‘A
hundred and thirty-five miles to go,’ he pronounced, ‘at twelve knots
gets us in at about nine to-morrow morning. Just a good time to come
in, _and_ a silk ensign and the skull and crossbones.’

‘Hardly a good enough bag for all that,’ said the captain; ‘we might
run to the silk ensign, I think, but we’ll hang on to the other till we
sink a Hun Dreadnought or a big Fritz or something of that sort. All
ready, Seagrave? Right. Diving stations.’

Then they rose, rose swiftly off the bottom, and steadied at twenty
feet, when Raymond hoisted the periscope.

‘Seems quite dark,’ he said. ‘Always looks darker through the periscope
than it really is, though. Good enough, blow 1, 2, and 3.’

When the hatch was opened it _was_ considerably lighter than expected,
and the engines were started off and worked up to full speed as soon
as possible. Raymond wouldn’t allow any one but himself, Boyd, and
the helmsman on the bridge, and all unnecessary gear was left below.
Even the bridge screen remained furled, and the captain kept a steady
look-out aft for possible pursuers.

Luckily the sea was still calm, and they got well away by midnight,
after which the crew were allowed on deck and things made comfortable
for the night. It had been a queer feeling, though, rising from the
bottom of the sea up into the dusk, the quick hustle and the scurry
for home, and the keen look-out aft through the gloom for signs of an
enemy who might have seen the boat push her way up out of her watery

However, she was safe now, and the night slipped by with the usual
surface watches, and daylight found ‘123’ off the coast and heading for
the faint outline of home just visible on the horizon.

Then the sun rose higher and the land disappeared, to become visible
again later on about twenty miles distant.

The silk ensign, sign of conquest and good luck, was hoisted, and
‘123’ made her number and answered the challenge. The outside patrols
became active and the mine-sweepers on their outward way dragged past
them, their kites towing behind and bouncing over the water as they
went. Somebody on a trawler evidently saw what interested him, for a
telescope went up and then came the signal. ‘Hearty congratulations,’
semaphored across in slow and painful sections by a shock-haired boy in
a pair of baggy trousers.

‘Thanks very much,’ replied ‘123,’ as she hurried on to the harbour and
headed through the gate. Then up and through the Fleet, the silk ensign
fluttering in the breeze, and the boat came to rest once more alongside
the _Parentis_ and outside the trot of submarines. Then she made fast,
and the crew grinned at one another and broke away, carrying the debris
of the trip down to the mess-decks.

‘’Ullo, cocky,’ said a man who was hammering an iron plate, ‘’ad a good

‘You bet we ’ave,’ replied the one addressed, who was carrying a bucket
full of potatoes and a loaf of bread. ‘You bet we ’ad. Saw Fritz, too.’

‘Reely. You ’it ’im?’

‘Course we did, do you think----’

Somewhere up on the quarter-deck a voice said,--

‘Hallo, Raymond’s back. Gee-whiz. Look what he’s flying. What is it,

‘Only a wee one,’ came the answer.

‘You lucky beggar. Captain wants to see you, by the way.’

And there we will leave him, making his formal report in the Service
way to Captain Charteris, while the story ran round the mess-decks,
by Lower Deck wireless, where it was received with nods of approval
and caustic criticism by those who had been through it all before, and
knew the details, and could fill in the gaps for themselves. The Depot
blinked a bit over the issue of four new torpedoes, but albeit she was
satisfied and sat down again and said nothing.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night after dinner the story was retold in the ward room,
embellished, and with detail, the listeners taking an immense
professional interest in the narrative, and agreeing and disagreeing
with one another on what they would have done under the circumstances.

‘When I saw my bloke last month,’ said Austin, ‘I left him severely
alone. It was a flat calm, and I thought Destroyer-dodging wasn’t good

‘I don’t know,’ put in Johnson, ‘I think I’d have had a shot if I’d
been in your place. One can only miss after all.’

‘The point is, though,’ this from Carruthers, ‘is it worth while
risking the loss of one’s boat for the sake of one Destroyer?
Personally, I don’t think it is.’

‘I agree there,’ replied Austin; ‘a submarine, now, is a different
thing. If I thought I had the vaguest chance of straffing a U-boat I’d
go in for it whatever the cost. I think myself that it would be as much
loss to Germany from a purely military point of view as it would be if
I sank a Dreadnought.’

‘That may be,’ said Johnson, ‘but I do think that whatever you see
you ought to have a smack at, and I give Raymond full points for
his stunt of yesterday. It’s undoubtedly a nasty job messing about
with Destroyers or anything at all, for that matter, on a calm day,
but I think it’s worth it if there’s a reasonable chance of getting

‘I was in two minds about it myself,’ broke in Raymond, ‘but they were
so bally tempting I couldn’t resist it, and then when I’d missed I felt
I couldn’t come back without having another shot and getting something
for my money.’

‘Risky job, my boy, risky,’ cried the Torpedo Lieutenant from the depth
of his arm-chair. ‘Mustn’t be too bold and rash, you know.’

‘Oh, shut up, Torps, and don’t gass so much. The blessed “fish” ran
straight, and that’s all you need worry about. When I feel particularly
suicidal I’ll take you out with me and do the job in style. We’ll all
drown together and go down to posterity in the guise of saints then, a
_dis_guise by the way of a most efficient order in your case.’

‘Your pardon, Lord. I shall refuse to come.’

‘Thank God for that.’

‘Then I shall most certainly _insist_ on coming next trip. I shall----’

‘How far off were they when you first saw them?’ broke in a voice from
the other end of the ward room.

‘Oh, about four miles. I saw the smoke at first and hustled off in
their direction.’

‘You must have had a pretty long fug afterwards, didn’t you?’

‘It was a bit mouldy sitting on the bottom, but we managed to turn up

The talk drifted out and turned to other topics. ‘178’ was due in
to-morrow, and her patrol and herself and her officers were also
discussed with much freedom. Later the ward room was closed, and the
_Parentis_ went to sleep, but still with one eye open, and watchful to
guard the charges that lay alongside her.

Next day Carruthers and Johnson went out on patrol, and in the late
afternoon a new boat arrived, fresh and hot from the dockyard,
commanded by one Singleton, an officer well known to the boat captains
of the _Parentis_.

Raymond and Austin had a day off, rather an unexpected favour in the
case of the former, who had only just returned from re-fit, and decided
to spend it in the country. They left early and caught a train after
breakfast for the sleepy little town of Langton, some twenty miles
distant. After the noise and bustle of a shipbuilding and mining
centre, the pleasant peace of the English country came as a welcome
change, and they lay back in their carriage and drank in great gulps of
the fresh morning air as the local rattled sedately on. A fine summer
day and the hedges alongside the railway, and the fields all gold,
brown, and green, with little cottages nestling among them, and level
crossings with children who waved sitting on the gates, and horses
grazing, and reaping machines, and white high loads. Hayricks and
little villages, small woods and distant spires. Imagine all this under
the heel of an invader! The woman in the blue print apron standing
outside the cottage, the children playing with the farmer’s old dog
among the barley sheaves, imagine them with the Germans in possession
... butchery, rape, and at the best robbery and ill-treatment, and yet

It didn’t bear thinking of. There was no possibility of invasion or
wanton destruction. It hadn’t happened for hundreds of years, but then
... it must have been the same when the horsemen rode in and the old
muzzle-loaders blared out, and men died and women shrieked and children
clung to their mothers’ skirts, wide eyed and amazed.

It might happen, it might come to pass, and the very security of
England was the worst danger of all. A hundred thousand troops landed
overnight and the result ... fields laid waste, and killing and
disasters, the soul of the English country changed to its very core.
It might have happened two years ago, but not now. At a moment’s call
the sleeping country could spring to life, and armed men, as if born
of dragons’ teeth, would appear to repel the invader, armed not with
shields and stabbing spear, but with machine-guns and the deadly
howitzer. England had found herself. Not for a hundred years had she so
proved her soul to herself and to the world. The call came, and slowly
but surely the old spirit, latent for a century, revived and had its
being, openly once more and for all the world to see....

The train drew up with a jolt, and Austin broke the silence with a
casual remark.

‘Pretty little station. See those wild roses growing by the lamp-post
there. Reminds you of pre-war days, doesn’t it?’

Outside, the good old-fashioned station fly rumbled them over the
cobbles and into the High Street, where the women stared at the
uniforms, and a small boy shouted something and ran after them. Then
lunch at the one and only, called rather grandly the Imperial Hotel,
albeit an old place, relic of the coaching days, though with a new
master and up-to-date methods. Old prints on the walls of the ‘Fox
Hunt,’ old furniture, and beer in pewter tankards reminded one of the
ancient glories of the place, when the London mail would roll in with
a tootling of horns and shouting of postboys, and be off again amid
good-byes and handshakes, and ‘Write soon when you get to London,’ from
mother, and a ten shilling tip from father, while little Alfred sucked
his finger and stared.

The lunch consisted of the cold roast beef of England, and salad and
cheese and fruits, and afterwards they wandered out into the sunshine,
and up the High Street, tenanted now by only a few loafers, outside the
Red Lion, and a boy or two on bicycles by the local post office.

The market square offered but few attractions, and the friends wandered
through the town, which ended as abruptly as the bow of a ship, and out
into the country beyond.

After his recent experiences Raymond found the situation almost too
deep for words, and they trudged on, smoking their pipes, for the most
part in silence.

Presently they topped the summit of a little hill and looked back on
the town, a smudge of gray and brown buildings against the blue sky,
the church spire in the centre, and the smoke curling lazily up in the
afternoon haze. Away to the eastward was a thin strip of blue, where
lay the sea and ships and submarines and war.

They turned their backs to it. For one day at least they would forget
it, and Germany and War and sudden death.

Later on came tea taken in the garden of a little cottage which
modestly displayed the card ‘Teas’ in a window, where they were served
by the good lady’s daughter with home-made bread and cake and jam, and
then lay back and smoked and thought of things and men and the country
and England. Then they paid the bill, stroked the cat, gave the child
some pennies, and wandered on at peace with the world, themselves, and

They started back towards Langton, but the sound of bells drew them
from the main road to where a little ivy-covered church nestled lonely
and almost forgotten by the wayside. They took off their caps and went
in. After the glare outside they blinked and groped in the dusk of the
church until the light grew better and they saw where they had strayed.

‘I say,’ said Raymond, ‘this is a Catholic Church; hadn’t we better----’

‘That’s all right,’ said Austin. ‘We’ll sit here a minute.’

They found a pew and looked round them. Up by the altar a priest
was standing with his back towards them. Two boys in surplices
were standing near. Then an organ burst out somewhere, and the few
worshippers took up the refrain and sang the _Tantum Ergo_.

The two men knelt down.

Later a bell rang and the old priest bent down over the altar. He
raised something in his hands. Infinite quiet, the sound of heart
beats, and the lists of the parish killed in action stood out sharply
on either side of the sanctuary. The priest was moving away with the
boys before him.

The organ crashed out again, and Raymond caught the words:--

‘_Quoniam confirmata est super nos misericordia ejus: et veritas Domini
manet in aeternum._’

‘The truth of the Lord remaineth for ever.’

They stepped out into the sunlight and blinked in the glare of the high

       *       *       *       *       *

Later, the return to the base and the motor ride to the harbour, and
the steamboat off to the _Parentis_. A return to the world of men and
ships, where the war was the essence of life and the main topic of
conversation. The ward room was discussing the newly-arrived boat which
was to take the place of Blake’s.

Singleton was a man of merry moods, and kept them going with stories of
his struggles with the contractors and the trials he had been through
while his boat had been building.

‘A hell of a lot of work,’ he concluded, ‘and didn’t get any “command
money” for seven weeks either.’

‘_And_ had a fine fat time of it ashore, I bet,’ remarked the Staff
Paymaster lightly.

‘Not so bad, not so bad, but nothing to write home about. Not married,
you know. Found things pretty dull in the evening.’

‘Ah,’ said the Engineer Commander, ‘I married ten years ago, and
haven’t spent more than a fortnight at a time with my wife ever since.
Some people have all the luck.’

‘I agree with Mr Punch,’ chimed in the Torpedo Lieutenant. ‘As regards
to marriage I could say three words--The first is “don’t,” the second
is “don’t,” and the third is “don’t.” With my knowledge of the world my
opinion is worth considering.’

‘Had a good day?’ asked the First Lieutenant of Austin, disregarding
the Torpedo Lieutenant’s remark.

‘Very. Just wandered about in the country and smoked and thought and
took in the view. Later on we got into a small church where they were
having benediction or something. Made you feel all funny to hear it.’

‘I can’t imagine much shaking you,’ said the Fleet Surgeon. ‘You must
have been in a very thoughtful mood.’

‘I suppose I was. It was the quiet and the country and the rabbits and
things. Little things, you know, but things that count sometimes.’

‘----And when I got my periscope up,’ said a voice from the other side
of the ward room, ‘I saw Fritz had manned his guns and was letting the
tramp have it for all he was worth. Fairly potting him he was. So I
kept well to leeward of father tramp, and then dodged suddenly round
the bow and fired.’

‘Did you get him?’ asked Seagrave’s voice.

‘By good luck, yes. Right amidships. Then I went down, and came up for
a look ten minutes later. There wasn’t any submarine there, but the
tramp saw my periscope and thought I was Fritz, and gave me hell for
about thirty seconds until I got well down out of harm’s way. I bet the
skipper reported having sunk a U-boat.’

‘You got your shift shortly afterwards, didn’t you?’

‘Two months or so,’ replied Singleton. ‘Since then I’ve been one of
the idle poor and lived on the fat of the land, or such fat as I could
acquire owing to the Food Controller. Glad to be back at work, though.
It gets pretty mouldy sitting in a dockyard and hoping the war won’t be
over before you get to sea again.’

‘When are you doing a patrol?’

‘Day after to-morrow, I expect. Bit of a rush, isn’t it? Have to move
round in the meantime and see things in order, as I don’t know much of
her little ways yet, though she’s seemed all right so far.’

Boyd was comparing notes with the new navigator and discussing the
possible vagaries of magnetic compasses in submarines. Seagrave drifted
off with the new ‘Sub,’ and later on a bugle sounded overhead and six
bells struck. Somebody came to the door and reported eleven o’clock,
and the ward room emptied itself.

Raymond wandered up on to the quarter-deck and leant over the rail and
gazed at the anchored Fleet. Behind him the officer of the watch was
padding up and down, and by the gangway the quartermaster and corporal
of the watch were talking in low tones. The side boy looked at him

‘Britain’s sure shield’ was keeping her silent watch. Beyond lay the
big ships, and beyond them again a host of merchant vessels, supply
ships, colliers, and hospitals. Outside, the Destroyers would be
keeping their never-ceasing patrol, and the trawlers and mine-sweepers
would be bobbing to the north-east swell. The wind caught him chillily,
and he shuddered and turned up his collar.

A voice sounded from for’ard, high up on the bridge, then one bell
struck, and he turned and went below.


            Seagulls, seagulls!
        Birds of the air and sea!
            Seagulls, seagulls!
        Have you a word for me?
    Have you a word of my boy out there,
    Who left my heart and my cottage bare,
    Who left his mother and did his share;
    Tell me birds of the sea and air,
        Have you a word for me?

            Seagulls, seagulls!
        Birds of the wind and wave!
            Seagulls, seagulls!
        Back from the sailor’s grave.
    Have you a word from my man who died,
    Out in the track of the cruiser’s stride,
    Where death’s the price of a nation’s pride;
    Tell me birds of the wind and tide,
        How did my man behave?

            Mourners, mourners!
        Mothers of men and boys!
            Mourners, mourners!
        Death never quite destroys.
    Rather think of the deeds they wrought,
    Out in the dark where the squadrons fought;
    Think of their deaths as the price that bought
    Freedom and honour, and hail the thought,
        Sorrows are future joys.


This is a story of the early days of submarines, and the whole affair
happened a long while ago--some years before the War, in fact--beyond
which milestone the memory of modern man now rarely attempts to wander.
The first news I received on the subject was from the centre sheet of a
morning paper, an extract from which ran as follows:--

  ‘H.M. Submarine “02” was lost in the Channel whilst exercising
  on Tuesday, 16th inst. There are only two survivors, Lieut.
  Allison, R.N., the second in command, and Stoker 1st Class P. W.
  Howell. All hope has been abandoned for the remainder of the
  crew, as “02” has now been under water for more than 58 hours,
  and the divers report that it will be impossible to lift her for
  another two days. Lieut. Belton, R.N., the captain, was the son
  of Admiral Belton, K.C.B., R.N., etc.’

Now I knew Allison. I knew him well, and I scented the chance of
gaining a little more information on the subject than could be gleaned
from the morning paper, but I deemed it wise to wait a little and not
rush things too much. His photograph, a rather blotchy affair, appeared
in more than one penny pictorial, and I felt sure of my man. However,
I went wisely about my business, and put the matter away in an upper
brain pigeon-hole, to be produced at the right moment.

I waited a good long while, six weeks, to be exact, until I felt sure
that Allison’s survivor’s leave would be a thing of the past, and
then I sallied out and bought the current Navy List. I’ve said it all
happened long before the War, when those who took an interest in the
movements of naval officers could satisfy their thirst in the leaves of
the Blue journal. Nowadays these things are altered, and the Navy List,
which grows and increases monthly, is kept locked up with the other
secret books in the confidential safe.

In its mystic pages I found what I wanted. John Hugh Allison (Lieut.)
was ‘for command of Submarine “90” (building).’ I knew what that meant.
He’d had his leave all right and been appointed to a new boat, as
yet uncompleted, and was standing by to superintend the work of the
dockyard, and to take her to sea as captain when she was finished.

I thought a while and concocted a piece of villainy. Then I sent
the following telegram: ‘Commanding Officer, H.M. Submarine “90.”
Congratulate you on your promotion. When may I come and marvel?’

He fell into the trap (did I say that the telegram was reply paid?),
and sent the cryptic answer: ‘Many thanks. Come Monday, and be damned.’

The telegram was handed in at Portsmouth, so I knew at once at what
yard the boat was being built, and Monday morning saw me hustling down
from London full of my fell intentions.

I knew I shouldn’t get into the yard even in peace time, so I hung
round outside till a villain in a working rig appeared carrying a coil
of wire. He bore on his cap-ribbon the legend ‘H.M. Submarines,’ and
I marked him from afar. It appeared that the ‘Captain’ was living at
the Royal Arms Hotel, and thither I hied me and demanded that he be

He wasn’t in. He was still down in the mystic dockyard and wouldn’t
be back till lunch, so I made myself comfortable in a corner of the
smoking-room and awaited what the gods might give.

In due course the gift appeared, in a ragged uniform, and wearing a
harassed expression. On seeing me he uttered a roar of appreciation
(he was quite twenty-five), and caused drinks to be produced with the
celerity of a conjuror.

Then we lunched and discussed many things, from cocoa to spots under
the sun, but never once did I refer to the subject that was in my mind;
but after the meal was over I asked him how he liked his new boat and
what he thought of her.

‘Oh, not so dusty for a first command; you wouldn’t like to see over
her, would you?’ He eyed me tentatively.

‘Rather a long way to the dockyard, isn’t it?’ I hazarded.

‘Oh, be a sport,’ he continued. ‘I’d like you to see her, you know.
You’re the first civilian to come and see me here.’

‘All right,’ I agreed, ‘I’ll come, but don’t be too long-winded over

Then I smiled the smile of the evil-doer, and followed him in silence
to the penny tram. Under his protecting wing I was borne into the yard,
and presently came on ‘90,’ where she was being whacked and riveted and
hammered into shape.

It was like all other visits to dockyards, and secretly I was rather
glad when it was over, but I had gained my host’s confidence in me and
felt well pleased with my afternoon’s work.

We had tea at Southsea, and talked over old times and many other
things, and then returned once more to the hotel and dinner. I refused
all invitations to the Hippodrome afterwards, having my purpose in
view, and when we reached the coffee and liqueur stage I felt that the
psychological moment had arrived. I didn’t rush things, however; I led
up to it gently, and let him have it in small doses till he swallowed
the bait.

Hard and uphill work, but it came off in the end.

He had been explaining some of the advantages his new command had over
the older boats he had served in, and I felt the time was ripe.

‘How does she compare,’ I hinted, and ended with a lowered voice, ‘with
poor old “02”?’

He coloured a bit and hesitated, and I thought that all was lost,

‘Taking her all round,’ he answered slowly, ‘“02” wasn’t in the same
street. She was a good old packet, though.’ He sighed.

I passed the port again and waited.

‘It might have happened to any type of boat, you know, really,’ he
continued. ‘It was a sheer bit of bad luck.’

It was coming, and I nodded in silence.

‘I’ve never been able to quite make out how it happened,’ he went on.
‘Whether poor old Belton made a mistake, or the Dutchman got scared and
put his helm over.’

‘The Dutchman?’ I queried.

‘Norwegian tramp bound out for the Atlantic. Off Portland we were. We’d
been told off with a T.B. for practice attacks, and were in shallow
water at the time, about ten fathoms. About ten o’clock in the morning
it was, and lovely weather too. The T.B. was away on ahead of us, and
just before we dived we noticed a steamer about six miles off coming
towards us down Channel. I remember pointing her out to Belton. Then we
went under, and I was busy for’ard with the “fish.” Belton had taken
careful bearings of the tramp, and I’m not sure whether he got so
interested in his attack that he didn’t pay enough attention to her,
or whether the tramp suddenly saw the T.B.’s flag and banged the helm
over. I think it was a bit of both.

‘We’d been diving about half an hour when the skipper ordered me to
“flood the tubes,” and about five minutes later I got the order “stand
by.” You know how those old boats were, the way the sluice door worked
and so on?’

I nodded and sipped my drink.

‘The T.I. and I brought her to the ready and reported, and then came
the stillness that immediately precedes a shot; you know, everybody
waiting for the order.

‘“Stand by” Belton called again, and then to the coxswains, “when I
fire, forty feet.”

‘It was just then that I thought I heard a sound, the rumbling noise of
a train in a tunnel or the screw of a steamer close to. I imagined it
was the T.B., and I remember thinking that Belton was taking her rather
close to the target. The noise got louder and louder, and the men began
to look at one another, and then I heard the skipper’s voice from the
control room.

‘“Flood the auxiliary,” he shouted, and I knew by his voice that
something was wrong. “Take her down,” he cried, “lively now.”

‘Then I heard an E.R.A. calling for a wheel-spanner, and I ran aft
to find that the Kingston had jammed and they couldn’t open it, and
all the time the noise was getting louder and louder. We flooded the
buoyancy and speeded up, and she was just going down (you know we
always carried a light trim in those old boats) when the rumbling grew
into a roar and there was a terrific clang for’ard and a rush of
water, and we knew that some one’s propeller had cut clean through the
skin. The lights went out and there was another bang and spout of water
in the after compartment, and down we went.

‘“Control room, men,” yelled Belton. “Close the engine-room bulkhead.”

‘Somebody brought it to, and as the engine-room wasn’t pierced we knew
we had that much buoyancy at any rate, and with the water pouring in in
sheets we hit the bottom and the men tumbled into the control room and
banged the doors. There was a good four feet of water there by then,
and we’d filled the bilge.

‘Luckily some one had brought an emergency lamp with him, and we
switched it on down there in the darkness. The depth-gauge was steady
at 48 feet, and the crew was packed in that small air-lock. We could
hear the water rising on both sides of us, and spurts of it came
through the watertight doors. Then by-and-by the sound ceased, and we
knew that save for the engine-room and the control room the boat was
full up to the hatches.’

‘My God,’ I grunted involuntarily, as Allison paused to drink.

‘We mustered the crew,’ he continued, ‘and found that two were missing:
a stoker named Howell who had been on watch doing some job or other
in the engine-room, and had been shut in when the bulkhead door was
closed, and the T.I., who had been with me at the tubes.

‘The stoker, of course, would be all right so far, and as it happened
he saved himself and is in hospital now recovering from shock. The
T.I., we knew, was dead. He must have tripped over something in the
darkness on his way aft, and the door had been closed before he could
get to it. Poor devil, there was a gash about two feet long in the
hull, and he must have watched the water rising till it jammed him up
against the arch of the roof and drowned him as it rose.

‘Poor old Belton looked anxious; he had the lives of all of us on his
hands, and the men just stood round and said nothing.

‘We blew what we could, but she hadn’t got a central control like
we have in the later boats, and of course nothing happened. The
depth-gauge stuck at 48 feet, and the air was getting bad already.
There were fourteen of us in the control room--a space about seven feet
by nine.

‘I was standing by one of the bulkhead doors, and was the first to
suspect it. I didn’t say anything till I was sure, and smelt and smelt
again till there was no doubt about it. The water had got to the
batteries, and chlorine gas was creeping through the doors.

‘There was only one way out of it, and that was the old conning-tower
dodge. We reckoned we had about half an hour to live, as the gas was
only coming in slowly, and we might be able to save the lot if the air
didn’t give out first.

‘You know the shaft of the conning-tower that leads down into the
control room has two hatches, one at the top, opening out on deck, and
the other at the bottom where the shaft breaks out into the skin of the
hull. The space between was just big enough for a man to stand, and
forms an air-lock.

‘I wanted Belton to go up first, but of course he wouldn’t have it. He
insisted that an officer must go first to test the working of it, and
if all went well to explain technically when he reached the top what
was the matter with us. As he was the captain I had to go.’

Allison broke off and shuddered at the remembrance, and it was some
time before he continued.

‘I pushed up the lower lid and climbed into the conning-tower, and as
I held the flap I looked down on the little crowd of upturned faces.
“Good luck, George,” said Belton, he always called me George, “and

‘Then I closed the lid and stood there in the narrow space with only
the upper hatch between me and 40 feet of water. I don’t quite know how
I felt, but I felt afraid, and I waited a minute before I opened the
sea-inlet, and the water poured into the shaft. It was all dark, of
course, and I had the feeling that now at least I had burnt my boats.
The arrangement was that after I had gone up, and the upper lid had
been closed again from the control room, they were to pump the shaft
out and the next man up would open the lower lid and take my place, and
they were to give me four minutes to do it.

‘The water rose up to my thighs, and in that narrow space I could feel
the air compressing terribly on my ears and mouth, and I climbed up
till my head was touching the upper lid. Up came the water again, up to
my chest, and I waited with one hand on the releasing gear of the lid.

‘When it reached my chin I couldn’t stand it any longer and let
the hatch fly. I don’t know what happened then, but the bubble of
compressed air must have shot me clean up. I remember the feeling of
pressure and dark water and bursting lungs, and then I was up in the
glorious sunlight that I hadn’t expected to see again.

‘Somebody grabbed me by the collar (I was told afterwards it was the
T.B.’s boat I was hauled into), and I just managed to tell them how it
was with the poor devils below. Then I fainted and came to in hospital,
and that’s all about it.’

He drew a long breath.

‘The others?’ I hinted.

‘Oh, the tramp stood by, and her name and so on was taken, but she
wasn’t held to blame, as nothing could be proved. Belton was the only
man who could have spoken, but, as you know, they didn’t get the boat
up for days.’

‘But why was it some of the others couldn’t follow you up?’

‘Something must have gone wrong below. Either they couldn’t drain the
conning-tower or else the gas got through to them. When they raised her
they were all gassed, poor beggars, and I think the doors must have
leaked quicker than we’d thought, and I just got up in time.’

‘You said something about a stoker being saved, didn’t you?’

‘That was Howell, who was shut up in the engine-room. It’s an
interesting story how he got out. He’s in Haslar Hospital now, if you’d
like to go and see him.’

I said I should like to very much.

‘Then I’ll give you this,’ and Allison wrote something on the back of a
card, ‘otherwise he may suspect you and tell you nothing.’

‘I’ll go,’ I said, taking the card. ‘His story ought to be rather

‘It will be, I expect. You mustn’t mind his language, though. He’s
rather a hard nut.’

‘Don’t think I shall. I’m used to that sort of thing after ten years
close acquaintanceship with the Navy.’

Allison laughed.

‘And are you,’ I suggested, ‘really going to stop in submarines after
an experience like that?’

‘Why not?’ he laughed again. ‘Because I’m unlucky once it doesn’t
follow that I will be again.’

‘And the stoker?’

‘He’s coming back with me as a leading hand. That is if he behaves
himself,’ and he glanced at the card in my hand.

‘But when it was all over and you were in the hospital, how did you

‘I felt a bit bad at first, and then I thought of the rest of them down
there, and I felt as if I wanted a drink. The sister wouldn’t let me
have one, though, and we had a proper blarney,’ and he broke off into
some long story of the hospital.

I saw that it was no more use and that the golden hour was passed. It
was no good pressing it, and I was thankful to have gleaned so much.

By-and-by he began to talk about his new boat again.

‘In another month she ought to be ready for trials,’ he said
enthusiastically. ‘Hope you’ll come and see how she behaves.’

‘I’d like to, but how about you? How will you feel the first time you
go down again?’

My host grinned.

‘Can’t say, I’m sure, but if you come, and mind you’ve got to, I’ll
let you know at the time, that is if you remind me, and I’m not too
busy with contractors’ people and dockyard officials and so on, which
I expect I shall be. Some of those dockyard people are blighters, you
can’t get half you want out of them.’

‘I’ve noticed that,’ I answered. ‘Engineer-Commanders are hard drivers
of bargains sometimes.’

‘Hard drivers! Why I could tell you stories; but no, there isn’t time.
I’ve got a long day’s work to-morrow, so I’ll turn in early. See you
before you leave?’

He rose to go.

‘One moment,’ I said, ‘before bed, may I read what you’ve written on
this card?’

‘Good Heavens, yes,’ he laughed. ‘Good-night.’

On the card in my friend’s neat handwriting were the words: ‘Tell him
how you wrenched off the manhole door or you won’t come back in _my_

Such is the personal equation of the Naval Officer.

       *       *       *       *       *

‘He’s in Ward 6,’ the sister told me. ‘Yes, this is visitors’ hour,
you’re not breaking the rules,’ and we smiled at each other as she led
the way up the cool stone staircase.

I found him sitting in an arm-chair, a young man wrapped in a blanket
of some sort, but haggard, and, it may have been my imagination, rather
gray for his age.

He eyed me suspiciously, and I handed him the magic card.

‘That’s Mr Hellison,’ he said, grinning broadly; ‘’e always was one for
a joke like.’

I sat down and asked him how he was.

‘Not so ruddy,’ he answered, ‘but it give me a fair turn, it did.’

‘And you’re stopping in submarines?’

‘All right, mate, I’ll earn it; I’ll carry out ’is orders, and don’t
you fret. I’m goin’ back as a leadin’ ’and, I am.’

I said nothing.

‘It was a fair old show,’ he went on presently, ‘but I come through it
all right by a bit o’ luck.’

I congratulated him on his safety.

‘I was on watch in the engine-room, doin’ a job of cleanin’, when it
’appened,’ he continued, ‘and the E.R.A ’ad just gone for’ard for
suthing when the bump came. A proper old clang it was, and I ’eard the
water simply passing in, in a way o’ speakin’. Then the captain, ’e
sung out for the ’ands to muster in the control room, but the lights
went out just then, and afore I could get out of the engine-room some
one banged the watertight door to, and, as it ’appened, that’s wot
saved my life.’

I nodded my interest in his story.

‘We was ’oled in the after compartment as well as for’ard, you see, and
them bangin’ that door cut me off from the control room but kept out
the water that flooded in between the rest of the bunch and me in the
engine-room. I ’eard it risin’ after we ’it the bottom, and the boat
took on a bit of a cant.

‘Then I began to get in rather a sweat, as I knew that if I was goin’
to be saved I got to save myself. I come over all funny like at first
down there in the dark, and then I ’ad an idea and started right on to
work it.

‘First I got ’old of a shifting spanner and fell to work on the man’ole
of the No. 4 main ballast tank. That’s under the engine-room, you know,
and when I’d got it off the water flopped in a bit owin’ to the shape
of the tank.

‘After that I sat down and wondered whether it was worth it or if I
could wait a bit and see if they was goin’ to lift the boat, but the
waitin’ got on my nerves, and I thought I might as well see it through.
So I opened up the No. 4 Kingston, and in come the water through the
man’ole door what I’d took off. It rose mighty fast, too, and after
it got over the Kingston wheel I knew it was neck or nothin’, as they
say, ’cos I could never stop the water comin’ in again if I wanted to.
So I climbed up the ladder and ’ung on under the engine-room ’atch and
watched the water risin’.

‘Of course the air compressed somethin’ cruel, and when I thought it
was enough I shoved away the strong-back and tried to push the ’atch
up. It only lifted an inch or so and come down again with a bang,
lettin’ in a torrent of water that knocked me off o’ the ladder, and I
was swimmin’ about in the engine-room for a bit before I got ’old of it
again. The water was within two foot o’ the roof by then and bangin’
me up against it, so I thought ’ere goes, and I give the ’atch a push.
Lumme, I don’t rightly know _wot_ ’appened then, but I went up like a
cork out of a bubbly bottle, and never knew no more till I woke up one
day in this ’ere ’ospital. Mr Hellison, ’e come down and see me, and
I’m goin’ back with ’im, and that’s all there is to it.’

The narrator drew a long breath, and paused to watch the effect of his

‘Thanks,’ I said simply. There seemed nothing else to say.

He grinned broadly. ‘Wot do you think of it?’ he queried. ‘Sons of the
sea and bloomin’ sky-blue ’eroes, wot?’

‘It must have been an awful experience,’ I ventured.

‘Don’t you believe it, mate; “a life on the ocean wave,” and honest
Jack the sailor, that’s wot you think,’ and he chuckled at some obscure

‘I tell you, though, I was scared, mind yer. Not at the time: I was too
busy savin’ myself then, but afterwards, lyin’ ’ere in bed; wot with me
bein’ weak and so on, I used to imagine I was down there in the dark
again, and I used to dream about it and wake up in a sweat.’

‘And yet you’re stopping in submarines?’

‘You betcher. Did you ever, when you was a little ’un, think you saw
somethin’ in the dark or feel that some one was be’ind you?’

I nodded.

‘Well, _I_ used to, and my mother she always told me, “Phil,” she used
to say, “whenever you feels like that, turn round and touch wot’s
scarin’ you, and when you feels nothin’ you’ll know it’s all right.”
It’s just the same as that. I’ll go back, and once I’m in a boat again
I’ll feel as right as a trivet, it’s the bein’ away and thinkin’ that
does the damage.’

‘I think I see. You mean it’s the shadow that hurts, not the substance.’

‘You’ve got it, guvnor; that’s wot it is. But ’ere’s the sister comin’,
so I guess you’ll ’ave to ’op it.’

‘Your time’s up,’ said the sister, smiling. ‘We can’t allow him to talk
too much, and he will keep on talking.’

‘All right, sister, I’ll be a good boy,’ and the patient lay back with
closed eyes and snored loudly.

‘Good-bye,’ I said, ‘and thanks so much for what you’ve told me.
Anything you’d like: cigarettes and so on?’

‘No, thanks, guvnor, I’m all right,’ said the sleeper, coming suddenly
to life; ‘but if you’re seein’ Mr Hellison, give ’im my respects and
say I’m ’opin’ to be with ’im before long.’

I promised that I would.

‘Good-bye,’ I said again, ‘and best of luck and a quick recovery.’

The sister was waiting for me at the door, and beckoned impatiently.

As I left the ward I glanced once more towards the patient. He was
apparently sound asleep and snoring his loudest, but as I turned away,
one eye suddenly opened and closed again in the most unmistakable wink
that was ever winked by man or sailor.

       *       *       *       *       *

It wasn’t until some years afterwards that I heard the end of the story.

I only got wind of it by chance at a dinner party, after the women
folk had left us and the port had been round for the second time. It
was before the War, and not knowing that there were any Naval guests
present I was talking to my neighbour about the Navy, and telling him
what I knew of the ‘02’ fatality, when the gray-haired man opposite me
broke in.

‘I think I can finish your story for you,’ he said.

‘Finish the story!’ I replied in surprise. ‘Do you know any more
details then?’

‘I think I do,’ he said quietly. ‘You see, I was in the T.B. at the
time of the accident. I was a captain then, and it was before I retired
from the Service, and I went out to see what a periscope looked like,
and to prove some of my own pet theories as to the uselessness of these
new-fangled things called submarines.’

‘Do tell me,’ I pleaded. ‘I’ll be very quiet if you will.’

‘It’s not a pleasant tale, though. I don’t know if----’

But the other guests, who had heard my account of the survivors’
experiences, clamoured for the story, and the gray-haired man gave way.

‘I went out in the T.B. as a sight-seer, and watched the submarine dive
through my glasses with the interest of a child with a new toy. It
was the first time I’d seen a boat go under, and I remember wondering
what it felt like to be down below. At the same time I noticed a tramp
steamer, a Norwegian she was, coming down Channel across our track, and
I recollected mentioning it to the captain of the Torpedo Boat.

‘We hoisted a red flag to indicate the danger and continued on our
course, keeping a good look-out for the periscope meanwhile, and all
the time the tramp kept getting closer and didn’t seem to worry about
our warning signals. Then the periscope was spotted, and the next
moment the tramp was between us and the submarine’s track. At the last
minute the Norwegian seemed to have suddenly realised that something
was wrong, and thinking the danger was to do with us, altered her
course away from us.

‘Even so, something must have been amiss in the boat, or I think she
would have gone clear, but the next moment we saw the wake of the
periscope under the steamer’s counter, and then it disappeared for
good. The Norwegian stopped in answer to our frantic signals, and
we went alongside and hailed the master. He said that his engineers
reported that the propeller had struck something, so we took his name
and port of registry and got the wireless going.

‘Two T.B.s arrived in a short time with divers and other gear, and the
tramp was taken into Portland for examination; but nothing was proved,
and she was not held to blame. In those days the submarine signals
weren’t generally known as they are now.

‘We’d marked and buoyed the spot where we last saw “02’s” periscope,
and the divers were just getting ready for a preliminary survey when a
man shot out of the water and right up in the air. He fell back with
a plop, and we had a boat out and the body on board inside three
minutes. It was Allison, the “Sub” of the boat, and he just managed
to tell us how things were and what had happened before he fainted.
Then the divers got to work, and we were waiting anxiously for news
when another body appeared. It was one of the stokers, and he was in a
bad condition with shock, and half drowned. We waited and waited, but
nobody else came up, and it was not for days afterwards that the boat
was raised, and they were all dead by then----’

The gray-haired man sighed and broke off.

‘I knew Allison,’ I said, breaking the silence that followed. ‘It was
he who told me practically all I know about “02.”’

‘Did you?’ said the gray-haired man; ‘and I knew Belton: I knew him
very well.’

‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, ‘I hope I haven’t----’

‘Not at all,’ replied my informant. ‘But I think I knew him better than
most people, because, you see, he was my son.’

       *       *       *       *       *

I went home that night and I thought about it. Of Allison the cheery,
and Howell the Cockney, and of that lonely old Admiral who’d seen
his son die. I thought about it and I wondered. And the result was
that I asked myself this question: ‘Why do these men do this, and
what keeps them doing it?’ And then the answer came, and the answer
is, that in spite of modern machinery, and modern scepticism, and
modern commercialism, and all the money grubbing and scoffing of the
twentieth century, there is still, thank God, a touch of the loyalty
and ideal of honour and patriotism that nerved our fathers of the
middle ages. In the ordinary walks of life it is met with but rarely,
or if it does exist, it is denied and held to scorn by those who would
rather strike in war-time than do an extra hour’s work, and hold self
continually in the fore-ground and never cast a thought to State or

And that loyalty and those ideals are always met with in the Navy and
the Army, ay, and in the Merchant Service too--that Service who has
found her worth and come into her own since this World War began.

And why should these ideals remain in our Services when they have so
long left the ranks of civilian life? For the reason that the men of
the Services are trained in the same old way and live up to the same
ideals as their fathers of centuries ago; only a few of the details
have been altered.

For on joining the colours, whether White Ensign or Red Ensign, or his
regimental banner, the man whose father may be an agitator or a strike
leader learns to forget himself and to work for his surroundings, for
good work’s sake, and for the opinion of his superiors.

Thank God that it is so, and that there were those among us who
came forward in 1914 and in 1915 without having to be cajoled and
eventually forced to do what was our obvious and common duty.

May those who growl at the War and those who ask, as some have been
asking, ‘What is the Navy doing?’ gather from these few pages a glimpse
of the life of one small branch of the Service to which Britain owes
her immunity. And if they are not silent afterwards, then will it be
proof that the spirit of England is on the wane, and that her manhood
is not what it was in the days of Trafalgar and of Waterloo.

May that day never come, and may Englishmen, ay, and Irishmen, too,
when striving to do their duty look to the Navy and her sister Services
for their guide-star and example.


    Call it a judgment ye who will,
      Call it a scourge to punish Man;
    Name it a curse that Man must kill,
      And suffer God’s eternal ban.
    Call it a scourge, a blasting breath,
    Borne on the wings of pain and death.

    So may it be and ye who think
      The Lord’s avenging hand is nigh,
    As ye draw near the Silent Brink,
      Pray to the Lord who reigns on high.
    All ye who use and fear the sword,
    Fall on thy knees and pray the Lord.

    ‘God! Grant the anguish and the blood,
      The corpses and the countless biers,
    The pain, the misery, the flood,
      Of broken hearts and mothers’ tears
    May wash away the damning stain,
    And cleanse from us the brand of Cain.

    ‘O God Almighty, Lord of All,
      Have mercy on Thy people’s stress;
    Hark to Thy people’s pleading call,
      Who look to Thee to guide and bless.
    Have mercy on us, we who live;
    And for our dead ... we pray, forgive.’


[1] When in parallel the batteries are said to be ‘grouped down’; when
in series they are ‘grouped up.’

[2] Leading Torpedo Man.

[3] Seaman Torpedo Man.

[4] Engine Room Artificer.

[5] Seamen.

[6] T.I. Torpedo Instructor.

[7] Periscope.

[8] Torpedo or Mine.

[9] Several submarines secured alongside each other to the depot ship.

[10] Periscope.

[11] Crossed anchor. The badge indicating the rating of Petty Officer.

[12] ‘Making’ a switch is switching on. ‘Breaking’ a switch is
switching off.

[13] Mines.

[14] Naval Store Officer.

[15] The overhang of the stern.

[16] Senior Naval Officer.

[17] Ampères.



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_The Jervaise Comedy_ is one of Mr Beresford’s lighter books, and the
whole action is played within twenty-four hours. Nevertheless, within
that time the principal person of the story meets with a series of
adventures that changes his whole way of life; while the crisis with
which the book opens determines the career of one, at least, of the
members of the Jervaise family in whose country house the scene is laid.



(Author of ‘THE GULF’)

This is a novel dealing with Spiritualism, and the pernicious effects
of seances and spook-hunting are illustrated in the history of John
Havering. He is one among many ‘Seekers’ in the book, who all in their
way endeavour to solve the mystery of the future life. The story has a
romantic interest in the love affairs of Irene Hoey and Mary Havering,
two strongly contrasted characters, and the plot involves a mysterious
murder, which gives the excitement of a detective story to the book.
There is also a political interest in _The Seekers_ in the career
of Ernest Beaufort, the Leader of the ‘People’s Party’; while the
religious interest is to be found in the characters of the Vicar of
Siltrop, Peter Silas the Quaker, and Mary Havering.



The Grafton family, settled happily in their beautiful country home,
Abington Abbey, have reached the point in life where matrimonial
developments may be expected to change its easy flow. The father is a
well-preserved widower of fifty; two of the daughters are grown up. The
story chiefly concerns their love affairs, but deals also with their
country neighbours, and the give and take of English country life just
before the war. The country around the village of Abington is well
supplied with large houses, rectories, and vicarages, and from each of
them, as well as from the greater world of London, come people, old and
young, agreeable and disagreeable, to play their part in the comedy
that centres around the Graftons. The novel also contains scenes laid
in Paris, and one in the mountains of Switzerland.



(Author of ‘THE IVORY TOWER,’ ‘THE SENSE OF THE PAST,’ etc., etc.)

The assumption by Henry James of British citizenship was a symbolic
act, a unique demonstration to all the world of his devotion to the
Allied cause. To that cause also he dedicated the last efforts of his
genius. In these moving, poignant pages, the heroism of ravaged Belgium
and Fiance, the war effort of Britain, the rich outflow of American
philanthropy are enshrined with all the master’s old matchless beauty
of thought and form.




This story deals with a crime committed in the grounds of a country
house, and the subsequent efforts of a clever young detective to
discover the perpetrator. There is an amusing love interest and strong
characterisation. The scene is laid in Paris and Hampshire.




The story is of _Young Mr. Misfortunate_ (as Charles Edward Stewart was
styled by the Whigs of his time) after the disaster of the ’45 Scottish
Expedition to his meeting with Clementina Walkinshaw in 1753.

It opens in Scotland, but is mainly placed in Paris and its environs,
in palace and slum, with one change to Venice.

The theme is the little known adventures that led to the downfall of a
cause and a man--the most lovable and unfortunate of all the lovable
and unfortunate Stewarts.



An American from Maddox Munitions, Incorporated, the owners of a new
war invention--the telautomaton, forms the centre round which this
exciting mystery tale is built. In trying to answer the ever-present
question ‘Who killed Marshall Maddox?’ the reader is tossed about a
sea of conjecture by two strong main currents which continually cross
and recross each other and keep him mystified till the end of the
book. Scientific inventiveness--at times diabolical in its ruthless
ingeniousness, plays no less strong a part than does Paquita, the
adventuress. Was the death of Maddox retributive for his double life or
was it due to the covetousness of some schemer. It required a detective
of Craig Kennedy’s acumen to discover.



A realistic and detailed picture of life on a submarine during the war,
including descriptions of the construction and management of the boat,
and the effect of submarine conditions on the crew. All the incidents
recorded are founded on fact, and most of them are personal experiences
of the author.

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This is the story of an American whose nature is refined in the fire
of war. It begins in the easy-going days of travel abroad when young
Dayton meets Elizabeth Brown and becomes informally engaged; and goes
on to the artist life in Paris when he meets Elise, a joyous young
Parisian girl of the lower class. Suddenly called home and prevented
by accident from communicating with Elise, he marries Elizabeth with
the determination to be true to her. Chance takes him to Paris, and
there three things happened: he learns of another daughter, the child
of Elise; Maria, Elizabeth’s daughter, dies of typhoid; and the Germans
strike. Both he and his loyal wife plunge into the war, and in the
ordeals which there confront them the dross of his nature is destroyed.



_The Man from Australia_ is the story of John Darling, who comes from
the Antipodes to find his Irish cousins. How he finds them amid tragic
circumstances: how he loves his cousin Aileen, over whom the clouds of
tragedy hang darkest: how he loses and finds her, is the main theme of
the story. The setting is in the Wild West of Ireland.



The scene is the ‘Vieux Carré’ of New Orleans, the last lingering place
of the old Creole atmosphere. There Geoffry Chester, a young lawyer,
is struck by the charm of a Creole beauty whom he daily meets on his
way to the office. This is a case of love at first sight. On account of
the exclusive character of the Creole coterie it seems destined to be
limited to sight, but a bookseller consults him about an old manuscript
of which Aline Chapdelaines is the owner. The fate of this manuscript
in respect to publication and of Chester in regard to matrimony is the
theme of a most original romance.



Miss V. Sackville-West is already well known as a writer of
distinguished verse, but this is her first essay in fiction. Her
subject is the influence of heredity, and shows the effect of a strain
of Spanish blood on a stolid Sussex stock, as manifested in the persons
of a young woman and her cousin, whom she subsequently marries. The
story has most unusual literary and dramatic values; but while it
is first of all remarkable for its literary style, its beautiful
descriptions and power of creative imagination, it presents against
this background a steadfast realism of action and psychology. The
biological parallel of the ‘waltzing mice’ that in some sense follow
the fortunes of the heroine is an original and charming invention.
_Heritage_ is certainly one of the most arresting first novels
published in the last ten years.



For the right sort of people, Life, in even these drab times, holds
romance and beauty, fun and whimsical adventure. Bamfield, camping in
his caravan on Ouseton Common, found himself involved in a whirlpool
of surprising events. He had imagined himself quite a serious person,
immovably a bachelor wedded to art. ‘Oh! Indeed!’ Fate seems to have
chuckled to itself, and proceeded to deal with him in the proper
manner. At the finish, Bamfield, giddy, breathless (perhaps in his
secret soul a trifle alarmed), discovered that he was holding Rose
Nieugent by the hand--and holding her tight!

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All the famous names are here ... the people themselves ... veritably
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                                                   (_Second Impression_)

(THE CITY OF TROUBLE), 1914–1918


(_Daughter of the British Ambassador_)

Mr Hugh Walpole, in his foreword, says:--‘This book is the first
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of the _atmosphere_ of Russia under the shock and terror of those
world-shaking events.’

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‘A vivid story with plenty of incident.’--_The Times._



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‘A candid picture of German social life.’--_The Globe._



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‘The most considerable and most distinguished novel that has been
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A thrilling romance of Paris before the Revolution.



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Mr Symons gives in this book a very vivid impression of places he has
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A charming comedy with a background of tragedy, deftly handled.



A charming record of Miss Grant’s war-work in Paris during the siege of



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‘Just the things every woman ought to know.’--_The Glasgow Citizen._



Readers of this brilliant book will turn with a fresh interest to their
Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Fanny Burney, and the
host of other notable women novelists. Mr Brimley Johnson writes not
only acutely but also entertainingly of those great women who laid the
foundations of the modern English novel, and boldly claims that they
invented it.



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This book on the theatre was prepared for the press and largely written
while on active service. No more luminous and suggestive book on the
theatre has appeared in recent years.



A Romance of the Theatre.



The story of a temperamental antagonism which leads to tragedy, but
tragedy not without hope. Tony Heron himself, whom we follow from
boyhood to maturity, is by no means the sport of circumstance; the
circumstances are moulded by environment and blood, not arbitrary
happenings. The setting is, for the most part, in pre-war England, and
a countryside which will probably never be the same again.

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in the original book; otherwise they
were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; unbalanced quotation
marks were remedied when the change was obvious, and otherwise left

Footnotes, originally at the bottoms of pages, have been collected,
renumbered into one sequence, and placed at the end of the book, just
before the advertisements.

Page 130: “made the sounds” was printed that way; may be a misprint for

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